February Blahs

February 14, 2013

Winter_Imagery_Wallpaper_vkhaoIt has been a cold winter here in the Northeast, which is good and bad: good because frankly I was starting to get worried I would never again wear all of my lovely heavy coats and sweaters, and bad because, well, it’s freakin’ cold. And though I am heading for warmer air for the next week (hello sunny Arizona!), it has been a long sludge and just about everyone has the dreaded February blahs. So besides imbibing copious amount of vino, here are some tips to get you through:

Dry Skin Is The Enemy: Nothing makes people look more zombie-like or older than their years than dry skin and hair. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, unless you live somewhere temperate where there are no seasons, you must change up your skin routine between summer and winter. (And newsflash, the older you get, the more this is so, I’m afraid.) I do my regular moisturizer with spf every morning but then morning and night I add some of Tata Harper’s Replenishing Nutrient Complex, which I’ve recommended before on this here Family Favs. It’s light enough to layer but definitely has kept the dry away. I’ve been following the cult product argan oil for a while, and this winter I jumped in by buying Josie Maran’s Argan Oil Hair Serum. (Another recent recommendation from this here blog.) I put a squirt or 2 on each morning after towel drying my hair, and I like that it doesn’t weigh down my hair or mess with my style. It looks healthy without feeling greasy.

Supplements Can Help: I was talking to my dermatologist recently and she told me she was always skeptical about supplements (as was I), but that she really believed there were a few that could make a difference: Fish Oil for skin and heart and lots of other things; Biotin for hair; and Vitamin D for vitality and bone health. (Vitamin D is especially important in the winter given the reduced exposure to sunlight.) She also told me to get them at Trader Joe’s — cheaper than the drugstore!

Head To The Gym: If you can’t get outside to work out, nothing boosts your mood like a good sweat. If you don’t want to lay out the cash for a full on gym membership, there are so many places that offer great classes that you can pay as you go. Yoga, Pilates, Spinning (apparently Soul Cycle recently had a shirtless Bradley Cooper taking part — there’s some motivation for you) — pick your poison and make it a priority. I have become intrigued by TRX, and am going to try it out one of these days. I’m still obsessed with the Precor True Stride, but a girl needs a little variety! I tried a Zumba class a couple of weeks ago, which was fun and a good alternative. Even if the rest of the day is crap, if I can get a workout in in the morning, I feel somewhat productive.

Embrace The Chill: You know what? Sometimes the weather is a great excuse to curl up inside and do things you never have time for. Put that photo album together, watch a movie, read a book, bake a cake. Take a break from running around like a crazy person and get something off your to do list.

Try one, try all — for me, whatever works to keep the winter blues away, I’ll take it! Spring is coming soon…

Etc.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you lovely and wonderful Family Favs readers! Big hugs to all of you, today and always.

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Summer Salsa

July 5, 2012

Happy 4th week everyone! Hope you are enjoying some fun time this week, even if the holiday does fall on a Wednesday. (Boo!) We have the week off and are enjoying seeing family and friends, celebrating our daughter’s 5th birthday, lounging on the beach and of course, eating ice cream! (The official food of summer, really.) The only downside is that I think I have lost the ability to sleep late, which is a bummer, but what can you do. (And I am not blaming my kids here — I just keep waking up by 6:30. :()

Anyway, the other official food of summer is anything grilled, and we have been doing a lot of that too. Fish on the grill is especially tasty. Just pick any thicker, heartier fish so it doesn’t fall apart on the grill — salmon, tuna or mahi mahi are all good. And to make it really come alive, I do a lovely summer salsa:

My Summer Salsa

Mango, Red Onion, Jalapeno Pepper, Tomatoes, Fresh Lime Juice, Salt and Pepper.

Chop in bite sized pieces and mix together in a glass bowl. Serve over fish.

How much of each thing, you ask? That’s really up to you. I typically use a whole mango, half a large red onion, 1 pepper, 2 – 3 medium tomatoes, and the juice from half a lime. BUT if your guests don’t like spicy, I omit the jalapeno and use a green pepper. You can also substitute a couple of peaches for the mango. Two other tips: don’t use fruit or veggies that are overripe and thus too soft. you’ll get mushy salsa. (Frankly, it will taste ok but have horrible presentation.) You want it just before it’s ripe, but of course not too hard because then it will taste bad. And I find it tastes best if you make it an hour or so before and let it co-mingle in the fridge. The flavors really come out.

My other favorite summer foods? Peel and eat jumbo shrimp with cocktail sauce with a generous amount of horseradish, steamers, watermelon and plums. Try eating any of them and not feeling like it’s summertime!

Get naked

I had a facial recently and one of the things she told me was to use higher SPF. She was talking about my face but I am taking it to heart all over. SPF 30 at minimum, and I even got some 50. The sun is strong. And I have come to the conclusion that the only way to truly get it everywhere it needs to be is to put it on when you’re naked, before you put your bathing suit on. This goes for your kids too. That way you don’t worry about it getting on anything, and all the nooks and crannies are protected. Do it with a friend!

Etc.

I still find it odd that the DC area as well as Southern NJ were hit with such an awful storm last Friday night with no warning whatsoever. Some people still don’t have power, almost a week later. With the ferocity of storms growing, one would hope with all of the technology out there, someone could come up with a better alert system. And maybe they should start thinking about how to better preserve the electrical grid, but I know this country doesn’t like to invest in infrastructure…but I digress.

Anyway, Happy Birthday America!

Rinse and Repeat

June 26, 2012

Your new fav hair care product

I’ve gotten my hair cut by the same guy in the West Village for over a dozen years, maybe more. And so I was surprised when last time I went he said I had deposit on my hair. He asked if I was trying something new and I told him I had been using the same shampoo for several years, and he said to switch, it wasn’t working on my hair anymore.

Now, this is where you probably think he tried to sell me something, but no, he doesn’t sell shampoo in his salon, because, as he has told me many times, “I didn’t get into cutting hair to sell shampoo.” (Love that!) So I actually believed him about my hair. His remedy? White vinegar. It doesn’t mess with color, and it takes the deposits off of your hair, leaving it shinier and somehow fresher. Just get a plastic squeeze bottle, fill it with white vinegar and douse your head while you’re in the shower. Rinse it out and then shampoo and condition as normal. (One note — maybe do it on a day where you don’t care if you smell a little vinegar-y. I did it on a Monday and all day long I felt like I smelled faintly of salad dressing.)

It really worked, and I’m think every couple of months I’ll do it. As for my shampoo, I’m in the process of finding a new one that cleans, isn’t too drying and is easy on the wallet. So as soon as I find one that’s worth recommending, I’ll report back!

P.S. I also recently read an article that says anethesia can have an effect on your hair. This is weird because I did go under for my knee surgery on March, so maybe that had an effect. But the real effect I guess most people experience is slower hair growth. Weird!

Summer Protection…

If you’ve gone to the store lately to buy sunscreen you know how intimidating it is with all of the different brands, SPFs, consistencies, etc. There’s a new one on the market I love that’s specifically for the face: L’Oreal Sublime Sun Advanced Sunscreen Liquid Silk Sunshield for the Face — 50 SPF. (Note to L’Oreal: That’s a mouthful.) It really is different — it’s lighter, doesn’t clog pores, is packed with antioxidants and really protects well. This would be good to layer under makeup, and I like it for the beach. At $10.99 (although it’s on sale at Target at the moment) it’s a good investment for your face. They do sell a bottle for the body, but I’m not sure you need a formulation like this for the whole kit and kaboodle.

Summer Treat

When the days hit 90 degrees, what better thing to grab than some sort of frozen treat? I am really liking the Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches. They’re tasty, 140 calories, and just the right size so you feel like you’re actually treating yourself. They come in a bunch of flavors but I think vanilla ice cream with the chocolate outsides is classic for a reason. Enjoy!

Etc.

My son still has a couple last days of school, but it does feel like summer has arrived. We were on the beach all weekend and it was just gorgeous, although today I see how pathetically awful I am at putting on sunscreen. I think I really have to do it before I put my bathing suit on to make sure I get everywhere.

Tonight the Empire State Building is red and blue for the new Spiderman movie…it really must be summer!

Enjoy…

In Kind

May 16, 2012

I was talking to a nutritionist recently about what snacks were good to keep at work. One thing that I tend to do is eat lunch and then not have time to eat until I get home around 7pm or so, and then I am starving and grab whatever is quickest, not necessarily whatever is best nutritionally. She was adamant that it’s important to have a snack mid-afternoon. And having protein as a part of the snack is a good idea.

So what did she recommend? A string cheese or a light Babybel with five or so whole wheat crackers. (She liked Triscuits more than Wheat Thins. I actually really like a multigrain cracker from Trader Joe’s.) Almonds or trail mix, in a prepackaged serving size so as not to over indulge. Trader Joe’s sells 10 individually wrapped packets of trail mix and it’s tasty. As for bars, she recommended Kind bars, which have few additives. I really like the cranberry almond bar, which is a little sweet and a whole lot satisfying. She also recommended Pure Organic bars. I’ve tried the chocolate brownie bar and it is tasty. I would classify this as a treat rather than just a snack, as it’s a little more like a candy bar. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

Everyone runs from carbs, and maybe with good reason, but she assured me that the trick is mixing protein in with the carbs. So if you have an apple, put a little almond butter on it. As I mentioned above, have a few crackers with some cheese. Peanut butter and banana on a slice of light toast fills you up.

The moral of the story here is that you can snack, be satisfied, and stay healthy.

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

Foam rolling, that is. If you’ve got any sort of pain from tight calf muscles, IT band, or really anywhere, try foam rolling it out. It really does work. Most gyms have them tucked in a corner, and you might want to ask one of the staff for a few tips on using it, but here’s a quick tutorial: place the foam roller under where the pain is. Roll it out in small sections, applying as much pressure as you can stand. So, you don’t want to do big long rolls, and you want to do short ones and work your way down the leg. If you’re doing the back of your calf, for example, you may want to cross your other leg over the top to give you a little more leverage and pressure. It’s a bigger stretch.

I also really like lying on the foam roller long-ways, and having it support your head down to your lover back. (You should feel well-supported.) Bend your knees, feet flat on the floor, arms by your side. Breathe in and out. This in itself is relaxing and really lets my shoulders fall away and release. You can do some rocking side to side and take your hands up over head for a bigger stretch. Once you’re done, roll off the roller and let your back lay flat on the ground. Feel the benefits. Roll up and return to standing, with a little less pain!

Etc.

Another rainy week. I feel like the weekend was so nice that we really can’t complain…too much. I wore all black today in anticipation of the weather making me feel a little crummy. I recommend that — dressing for your mood. It broadcasts to the world what to expect from you, in a perfectly relaxed and easy way!

Hope you’re feeling great! (And that would mean wearing a bright color…)

I realize it’s a little bizarre to follow up a post about Easter candy with a post about sugar being toxic, but so be it. I just happened to watch Sanjay Gupta’s piece for 60 Minutes, and it’s pretty scary. Essentially the latest research shows that a sugary drink is just as bad for your body, and can have the same ill effects, as a fatty hamburger. I’m oversimplifying but that is essentially the headline. You can watch for yourself here.

I think the thing that is so frustrating as a parent — really, as a consumer — is that sugar and all its derivatives (high fructose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, etc.) are hidden in things you wouldn’t even think had them. Things like peanut butter and spaghetti sauce. Bottom line, you really have to read every label. Because it could say “natural” and be loaded with sugar, since sugar is, in fact, natural. Natural but toxic, apparently.

Credit Where Credit is Due

Just want to give a shout out to a couple of customer-friendly stores. Sephora, who has a liberal return policy, which is very rare for cosmetics stores. I had a spray that was malfunctioning, and they exchanged it lickety split. Jack’s Stir and Brew, a great coffee spot in the city, couldn’t accommodate my request but tried to make up for it in another way…I had gotten a pound of their coffee and wanted to exchange it for decaf. It had only been a week but they said they couldn’t take it back. I didn’t argue — it’s a small operation and what can you do. I had also ordered a large decaf skim latte, and without missing a beat he said the drink was on the house. Which means I will be a loyal customer, and tell others. Because if a place really believes that the customer comes first, the customer will in fact always come there, first!

The Emperor Needs New Clothes?

Warm weather leaving you feeling like you need a new outfit? It’s the Friends and Family sale and Lord & Taylor this weekend — 25% off just about everything, and 10% off cosmetics. Shop online here and enter the code “FRIENDS”.

Etc.

The weekend is here! And the weather is supposed to be fab…enjoy it!!

Bugged

July 15, 2011

Well the temperature has fallen (in fact as I write this I am downright chilly with the windows open!) but my cold is still with me, clogging up my ears. I can’t taste anything. Ugh! The worst.

There was a case of lice in my son’s camp home group this week. Now, lice was around when I was a child, and lice has been found in his classroom at school, and I have told my husband many times that if one of our children get lice, it will drive me over the edge. Nervous. Breakdown.

But I ran into a friend yesterday morning, who informed me her daughter had the dreaded hair infestation, and she survived by taking her to a place called Hair Fairies. (1026 6th Avenue in NYC, but they are in different cities across the country and ship their products anywhere.) She said it took 4 hours, but they de-loused her then and there. On their website it says they use all natural products.

Look, I am sure I will teeter on or perhaps over the edge if we have to deal with a lice infestation. (I start to itch just thinking about it.) But it is good to know that there’s somewhere you can go to set things straight. If you need it, and I pray you don’t, check out their site here.

It’s Here!

I am sure I have talked about my love of the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and that whenever I go to Arizona or California I make sure I plan a visit there for an ice blended treat. (Think Frappuccino but BETTER!) I have wondered many times why they have not come east. Well, apparently in August they will open the first Coffee Bean in NYC at 39th and Broadway, with 2 more locations to follow soon after. Rock on!

Single of the Week

Here’s Ken:

YOU: Ken, I’ve got a question.
KEN: Shoot.
YOU: Man, you are totally ripped. How can a human being have abs like that?
KEN: Thank you. Although, since we’re at work, in a meeting with clients, I think I should put my shirt on.
YOU: Sure, if you must. I have another question.
KEN: Shoot.
YOU: I love the Single of the Week. But I can’t always wait a full week for the next song. What can I do?
KEN: Then let me give you Singles for the Next Decade or Two. NPR’s All Songs Considered has created a 24/7 stream of every song ever played in its 10-year history. Check it out here.

Etc.

I’m very excited for my daughter’s Sleeping Beauty recital tomorrow. She has told me every night that I can’t forget my camera!

NYC is reeling from the events this week where an 8 year old boy got lost walking home from day camp in Brooklyn, only to be abducted, killed and dismembered. So, so utterly awful. Hug your loved ones a little tighter…

 

Toothiness

March 4, 2011

Here comes guest blogger Denielle to tell us the tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth…(sorry, couldn’t resist!):

In honor of Dental Health Month last month, here’s a little something on teeth.

I opened up my email on January 28 to find this note from my daughter’s kindergarten teacher, Just wanted to give you a heads-up that during Art today Cecelia was trying to pull apart her glue stick, let go, and punched herself in the mouth, which knocked her front loose tooth out…”

Yep. My 6 year old punched her own tooth out of her mouth! The trauma of losing her first tooth in this violent manner has stayed with her, which is the reason she has let her other front loose tooth hang by the thinnest of fibers for the last 3 weeks. We call it her snaggle tooth and it’s really unpleasant to look at. I am not a fan of teeth issues to begin with and fortunately have not had to endure much more than routine cleanings at the dentist during my lifetime.

My girls, on the other hand, all have chipped front teeth (some worse than others), one has a fused baby tooth and all will be spending some serious time with an orthodontist in the not-too-distant future. In other words, I’ve had to get used to dealing with teeth issues.

So I thought I would share some wisdom about managing dental traumas (small and large), and reveal some insights from the tooth fairy:

Overall Dental Hygiene:

— Kids (or parents) should start brushing kids’ teeth as soon as they sprout up and children should visit a  dentist starting around age 3 (your pediatrician may have a different recommendation).

— Obviously good dental hygiene is important for many reasons.

— Kids should use kid-sized soft toothbrushes and non-fluoride toothpaste until they are adept at spitting out the toothpaste (Orajel is a fan favorite here).

— Brushing at least twice a day is recommended. I’m personally a fan of the anti-cavity rinses but I cannot make any claims about their true cavity-preventing abilities.

— My dentist gave us mini egg timers that my kids like to use to count down 2 minutes — the recommended amount of time for brushing. You’d be shocked how long two minutes takes sometimes!

Tooth Traumas:

— Sterile Gauze should be used to hold on bleeding gums for approximately 10 minutes if a tooth is accidentally knocked out. I now carry some sealed gauze squares in my bag in case we have any other tooth traumas on the road.

— Warm salt water is a good, soothing rinse after a tooth injury. It can even help cure canker sores.

— If you break or lose a permanent tooth, you want to get to a dentist. ASAP. And they recommend keeping the tooth in milk, water or saliva if possible.

Tooth Fairy Insights:

— Get a special tooth fairy pillow or box at a store or from your dentist as early as possible and keep it on hand. You never know when you’ll need it!  My daughter was thrilled to have a tooth box (which she got at school) and found it very exciting to find “empty” in the morning after the tooth fairy visited.

— It is a good idea to have some crisp bills ($2 bills are available at the bank) or fun $1 coins on hand to lend the Tooth Fairy in case a child loses a tooth unexpectedly and the Tooth Fairy hadn’t budgeted properly for that night’s rounds.

General:

— Remember, smiling uses fewer muscles than frowning, so brush well and smile big!

A Sprinkle A Day

January 18, 2011

When I run at the gym I have an even stronger aversion to commercials than I typically do, so I am forever flipping between 4 different network morning shows and C-Span. Good Morning America frequently has Dr. Oz as a guest and he has been pushing cinnamon pretty hard, as something that helps the body regulate insulin (i.e. sugar). I find cinnamon delicious, so I started doing a healthy sprinkle on my breakfast cereal in the morning. Turns out it has even more health benefits: just 1/2 teaspoon a day can lower LDL cholesterol; it has an anti-clotting effect on the blood; weirder still, it has been shown to combat yeast infections.

My feeling is if it’s easy enough to incorporate, and it has even a little bit of a benefit, why not? There’s no side effects (like a cinnamon hangover), so I say: sprinkle away!

Try it, you’ll like it

I felt like we were going out to our same favorite restaurants over and over, so I am on a kick to try some of the newer ones that have opened in the last year or so. Ken took me out last night to Locanda Verde in Tribeca, which is part owned by Robert De Niro. It’s a cool space — the decor is funky and it’s a bit on the darker side, making it feel more intimate than it is. The food is very good. We had blue crab and jalapeno crostini; white tuna with pesto; a rigatoni with lamb bolognese, fresh ricotta and mint; and for dessert we had a maple budino with carmelized pecans that was especially tasty. (Our waiter told us Sam Sifton in the Times called it the best dessert of the year; I’d have to think about that, but it was particularly yummy.) They serve all the food as it’s ready in the center of the table, so the message is to share, which is great with your significant other or close friends, but might be dicey for a biz dinner.

I’ve come to appreciate when restaurants have their own cocktail menu. I’m not a big drinker, but if I’m in the mood, I do like a unique drink to start things off. I’m not sure what I had but it was some concoction with pineapple juice and tequila and it did live up to its $14 price tag. (Those of you who read this in other parts of the country are probably horrified at a $14 drink, but this is the state in NYC these days. When I travel elsewhere and drinks are much less, I’m always pleasantly surprised.)

All in all I recommend Locanda Verde. I wouldn’t say the place is brimming with warmth, but such is the case with any hot, of-the-moment establishment. It’s a nice night out with good food and a happening crowd.

MLK Day

It was nice to have an extra day off and it’s good to think about the great man whose actions and words are responsible for the day: Martin Luther King Jr. I saw a woman on C-Span this morning who said in honor of the 25th anniversary of the MLK Day holiday, they are inspiring people to commit 25 acts of service this year. I was thinking about it: even 25 acts of kindness would be great. Do a favor for your neighbor, rake some leaves in Central Park — heck, I’ll even take giving up your seat on the subway for someone. I’m inspired to do it and I hope you will too.

Etc.

I enjoyed the Golden Globes last night. I know everyone is down on Ricky Gervais, but come on, when you hire him to host, you have to know he’s going to be snarky. That’s his schtick. And you know what, Hollywood? If Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp can’t take a joke (and by the looks of things, they were fine), they need to get over themselves.

Hope you all had a great, long weekend. Enjoy the week!

D-lightful

October 27, 2010

If you’re at all like me, you’re pretty much always tired, and you’ve always thought that unless you’re some kind of hermit, you get enough vitamin D from regular exposure to the sun.

Well, it seems like just as everyone suddenly had reflux a few years ago, now we come to find that everyone is vitamin D deficient. Check out this article from the Philadelphia Inquirer here. Apparently in the 1920s when they started to fortify children’s cereal with vitamin D, rickets disappeared. They go on to say:

“Over the last few decades, scientists have discovered that Vitamin D – technically not a nutrient at all but a hormone – regulates about 2,000 genes in different ways.

It plays a role in cell growth and death, and so has been linked to numerous cancers. It affects blood vessels, connecting it to high blood pressure and heart attacks. Its involvement with inflammation and the immune system brings an association with allergies and asthma, infections such as influenza and tuberculosis, and autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes.”

My sister happened to mention to her doctor recently that she felt tired. She tested her for vitamin D, and it turns out she’s deficient. So she’s taking supplements and says she feels less tired.

All of this together piques my interest. To the point where I am definitely going to get my vitamin D levels checked the next time I am at my doctor. Because anything that can make me feel less tired is a must in my book.

Celebrating Halloween My Way

I am not a huge Halloween fan — I think it’s great for kids but I think it’s an excuse for grown-ups to act like even bigger idiots than most already are. With masks on. But last week I had a pedicure and I went with black polish for the holiday — and I have to say, I love it. My kids love it too. Everytime I look down at my toes it’s like my own private Halloween celebration. Try it!!

Etc.

Austin lost another tooth at 6:20 this morning (remember I said I was tired?)…the kid has no teeth left in his mouth to chew! It really is crazy. I hope something grows in soon.

I have had a lingering cough for weeks. I may break down and go to the doctor.

The weather is really bananas — wore open-toed shoes today. The better to show off my black pedicure!!

Ouch

September 20, 2010

The only thing more annoying than getting blisters from some new shoes is getting blisters from shoes you have had forever. It’s like an old friend screwing you over.

Used to be that I would throw a band-aid on and grin and bear the inevitable pain that would happen for another week or so, no matter what other shoes I put on. But then the geniuses at Band-Aid’s labs came up with these Advanced Healing Blister cushions. Better than a band-aid, they cushion the area and take the pressure off, allowing the wound to heal and relieving any friction-based pain. They really are essential to have in the house in case you end up tearing your heel up. They are a bit pricey (I paid $5.99 for 6 at Duane Reade; most places outside of NYC sell them for $4.99), but I find they’re the only things that actually work.

Two things to note: they say they last 7x longer than regular band-aids. I do not find this to be true — I get a day out of them. I have also tried the store brand of these blister adhesives and did not find them to be comparable.

They make them in two sizes: for your heel and for your fingers and toes. I tend to only get blisters on my heels so those are the ones I keep stocked.

We All Need Some Sanity Sometimes

I just had to laugh when I saw that Jon Stewart was having a “Rally to Restore Sanity” on the Mall in Washington, DC on October 30th. The Million Moderate March is, as Stewart put it, “intended to spread the timeless message, ‘Take it down a notch for America.'” Finally, a rally for people who don’t have time to go to rallies!! You can get what little details there are so far here. Once again I applaud the genius of The Daily Show for shining a light on the craziness that is our political news cycle. And let’s not forget Stephen Colbert’s competing rally the same day, the rally to “Keep Fear Alive.” Hilarious.

Etc.

A stunning weekend, weather-wise, here in NYC, and an equally fantabulous birthday weekend full of treats large and small. One of my favorite gifts I received was that after two years of having an ipod sit unused, my husband ripped every single CD I own and set the whole thing up for me. That is love, I tell you. And I am psyched to have it locked and loaded with all my tunes. He even made a “My Super Favorite Wife” playlist.

Hope you all had a great weekend!!