Skin Deep

August 12, 2012

I’m a little late to the towelette party, I guess, but they have seemed a bit environmentally unfriendly if you ask me. I have used them for travel (especially with the 3 ounce liquid limit for carry-ons) and there was the time I forgot all of my toiletries in London and got to go hog-wild in Boots, but I digress…

I had heard about Yes to Tomatoes’ towelettes with salicylic acid, which is an excellent ingredient for those who tend to break out once in a while. It keeps your pores from getting clogged. So I decided to try them. I have to say I get a bit of a thrill seeing all of the makeup and dirt come off onto the towelette, and it has a very light, refreshing scent. My only caveats are that I would not use them every night — both because we don’t need to be clogging up landfills and the fact I think it would dry out my skin if overused. But a couple of times per week seems good to help cell turnover and keep things looking clear. I have to say I like the “Yes to” lines as a general rule and their attempt to be as organic and natural as possible.

And I can’t stress enough that if you have really bad skin, skip the drugstore aisle and head straight to a good dermatologist who really can help and then will point you in the right over the counter direction when things are under control. (Yes to Tomatoes blemish clearing facial towelettes are $7.99 for 25 at Target.)

Jersey Boy

I enjoyed David Remnick’s recent profile on Bruce Springsteen at 62 in The New Yorker. If you missed it you can check it out here.

Olympics Adieu

I am going to miss having the Olympic results spoiled for me during the day, only to be toyed with by the awful NBC coverage at night. London put on a fantastic games, by all accounts, and I am excited for the closing ceremonies this evening, which are rumored to feature The Who, One Direction, Take That, Jessie J, George Michael and the Spice Girls reunited atop London black cabs, to name just a few. Fabulous, no?

By the way I was not aware until yesterday that NBC cut from the opening ceremonies a tribute those killed in the London subway bombings, saying it wouldn’t resonate with the American audience. Are you kidding me? Ever heard of September 11th? I can’t imagine the reaction from the U.S. if the Brits cut an American tribute.

Like I said, awful NBC coverage. See ya next time, Bob Costas.

Etc.

We took the kids miniature golfing in the rain, which was kind of fun, and then we hit the arcade yesterday. We had friends and family here for both lunch and dinner and some quality playtime in between, so it made for a very fun, very busy Saturday. Now the sun is shining so I’m going to get myself to the beach, pronto.

Ciao!

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Elect More Women

July 27, 2012

I went to a cocktail party that Mayor Bloomberg’s girlfriend, Diana Taylor, hosted last night at their home on the Upper East Side. (More on that later…) The cocktail party was for the Women’s Campaign Fund, an organization that encourages and helps female candidates to run for office at all levels of the political spectrum, on both sides of the aisle, as long as they are for reproductive choices and options (i.e. pro-choice). Right now in the U.S., Congress is made up of 17% women. 17%! For a constituency that makes up 51% of the population! So to say the work of the WCF is needed is an understatement. And it isn’t just women who need women in office. On issues many people care about, male or female, women representatives have a better voting record — things like the environment and wage parity. And they call people out for sexism instead of letting it slide.
Their She Should Run program lets anyone nominate someone to run for office, whether it’s a school board position or a Senate race. WCF supports women early on in their races, and tries to remove barriers to them being elected.

As for Mayor Bloomberg’s house, it’s not my taste, and very decorated, if that makes sense. Lots of 19th century artwork and chairs and sofas I would never dream of sitting on. Vases that must be expensive because they are there, perched elegantly on marble tables. Bowls of fresh flowers everywhere, and a billiards room with what looked like an antique foosball table. I described it to my husband as feeling like you’re walking into the rooms at the Metropolitan Museum where you think, “Who lives like this anymore?” Well, Mayor Bloomberg, apparently. It was interesting to see, and it was incredibly nice of them to open up their home to the organization.

As for Women’s Campaign Fund, check out their website wcfonline.org and see for yourself why you need to support a female candidate…or nominate yourself to run!

Greek Yogurt Goes Frozen

I’ve already jumped on the Greek yogurt bandwagon, so when I saw Ben and Jerry’s has a new line of frozen Greek yogurts, I had to check them out. They are a bit tangier than their regular frozen yogurts — the Peanut Butter Banana one was quite tasty. Thumbs up for this new addition to the Ben and Jerry’s family!

Olympic Fever

In honor of the 2012 Summer Olympics, here’s the US Swim Team doing “Call Me Maybe.” Ryan Lochte even shows up to blow a kiss. But where’s Michael Phelps? Oh yeah, probably practicing…swimming.


Etc.

This wacky weather is starting to freak me out. I never remember so many harsh storms where so many people lost power. The lightening in NYC last night was crazy.

Hope you’re all doing well…enjoy the weekend!

May The Best Barker Win

February 1, 2011

This weekend all eyes will be on the Superbowl…or at least the commercials. But guest blogger Tori has an alternative that few can resist:

There are few things in this world that are so spectacular they are counted not in mundane Arabic Numerals but in more epic and indecipherable Roman Numerals. Things like World Wars. And of course, Puppy Bowls. Fortunately for us, we stopped counting World Wars at II, but thank your lucky stars, Family Fav-ers, that we will count our VIIth Puppy Bowl on Sunday, February 6, 2011 at 3PM!

The Puppy Bowl, as you might know, is Animal Planet’s answer to The Super Bowl (LXV, in case you were wondering. Also on the 6th, but at 6PM.) But instead of giant freaks of nature giving each other concussions, the Puppy Bowl is two hours of cute puppies playing together on an adorable puppy-sized football field. The pups go head-to-head in contests like tug-of-war, barking, chasing and some occasional unsportsmanlike humping (someone call the ref!). Whistles are blown if there’s unnecessary “ruff”ness, there’s a “water bowl cam” and an MVP is named. Last year it was a pug mix named Jack who, since taking the coveted title, went on to master the arts of sitting and staying. He’s really going places.

In addition to the cut-throat canine competition, viewers are treated to a stupendous halftime show…staged by kittens and set to cheesy music. But wait, there’s more! This year, the show is adding chicken cheerleaders! That’s right. CHICKEN. CHEERLEADERS.

The whole affair is, quite honestly, totally stupid. I can admit that. But it’s also really great – just good old fashioned silly fun. And the best part – besides the almost unbearable cuteness – is that every puppy represents a different adoption agency or shelter and both the show and the website promote the joys of adopting a rescue pet. I’d get one in a second if I had a backyard. Hopefully someday soon I’ll be able to contribute a blog post about it.

SO ARE YOUR READY FOR SOME WOOFBALL? (Sorry.) I know I am. You can check out the starting line-up at http://animal.discovery.com/tv/puppy-bowl/starting-lineup/starting-lineup.html and figure out who to place your bets on. I imagine that there are some weasly bookies – literal weasels, I mean – who can hook you up.

Old School

My cousin Josh sent me this Philadelphia 76ers video — kickin’ it old school with Dr. J!

Etc.

Was in Philly today. Had lunch at White Dog, which several people had told me had gone downhill, but we still thought it was good!

More snow is in the forecast. Guess I missed the memo that said I moved to the freakin’ North Pole.

Enjoy!

Making Allowance

October 13, 2010

We’ve been doing a lot of talking about allowances lately. Our son is 6 and it seems like it’s time to start with one, but how much? And for what?

I never really got an allowance when I was a kid. But my friends who did, I remember they used to get it for the chores they did around the house. (Maybe part of my issue was that I never really did any chores around the house, but I digress…) Apparently, tying an allowance to chores is a big no-no, according to just about every child expert we researched. If you start paying them to do things like making their bed, they’ll expect to be paid to do just about anything.

But it feels a little weird to pay them for breathing. And yet an allowance does help teach them about managing money.

So where we netted out is that he has a list of “chores” he needs to be responsible for. Things like clearing his plate and putting his clothes in the laundry. (Remember, he’s 6.) Separately, he will get a small allowance. Half of it he gets to spend on whatever he wants, in consultation with us. A quarter has to be saved. The other quarter has to be donated to the cause of his choice.

Sounds like a plan, no? We’re going to try it and see how it goes. Because you can read up on all the experts in the world, but until you try it for yourself, with your child, you really can’t tell what will work out!

Savings Gap

Crappy logo or not, the Gap has been giving out discount cards to get 40% off any one full price item on Wednesdays. They give it out if you buy something, so make sure to ask for it. They also have been having 40% off days every once in a while — it’s worth signing up for their emails if you shop there often enough, to get a heads up about their sales.

Etc.

My daughter shot a commercial with Eli Manning today. She was very cute! And he was very nice. He was teaching her how to spin a football. The makeup artist gave her a papaya lip balm and she LOVED it!


First off, let me say to all of you Mad Men watchers, you knew that was coming, no?

Second, leave it to Favs’ guest blogger Bret to come with his training for the marathon story, putting my recent 5K run to shame. Always the overachiever! 🙂 Good luck Bret!:

The last time I completed the New York City Marathon® was in 2002, and it’s safe to say that in the past 8 years my exercise regimen consisted of running after my kids or running between the kitchen and the couch.  Well, being out of work opened up my calendar and I decided it was time to get back in shape.  Being a goal-oriented person, the only way that could happen was to train for the marathon (http://www.ingnycmarathon.org/).  Although I did a little exercise earlier in the year, my training for the November 7th event officially began on July 5.

If you think you can’t do it, you may be wrong.  Some friends and I, running for Team for Kids (http://www.nyrrf.org/get_involved/team_for_kids/), started very slowly running a few 3-mile runs in the first week, culminating in the dreaded “long run” on Sunday, which was 8 miles the first week.  The basic approach of our training, following the Hal Higdon Training Program (http://www.halhigdon.com), is to run shorter distances during the week and a long run each weekend that gets longer and longer — every once in a while you throw in an “easier” week with a shorter long run to let your body recover.  The longest training run you’ll do is 20 miles and you save the full 26.2-mile effort for the day of the main event.

I highly recommend this approach and my view is that once you get about halfway in the training and get to a 15-mile run, you can finish as long as you generally follow the schedule and don’t get injured.  The other key is to find the right stores for equipment:  I like Jack Rabbit Sports (http://jackrabbitsports.com/) and Super Runner’s Shop (http://www.superrunnersshop.com/) where they can provide great advice on shoes, clothes and accessories.  One of the coolest gadgets is a GPS watch that can track your time, show splits and even show where you ran on a map (and share the info with friends) when you wirelessly connect it to a computer.  I use the Garmin Forerunner 405 and love it.  I’ve got lots of other tips, including the necessity of using an all-over anti-chafing product like Body Glide (http://www.bodyglide.com/), an energy product like chocolate-flavored Gu (http://www.guenergy.com/) and comfortable socks like Feetures (http://www.feeturesbrand.com/).

For the record, my goal isn’t to beat the clock but to finish vertically and not passed out on a stretcher.  About 4 weeks to go – we’ll see . . .

This weekend capped off my 10 week Couch to 5k running program. By way of explanation, you have to take into account with this whole thing that I have been extremely busy at work, sometimes working well into the wee hours of the morning, we were on vacation where I really wanted to just veg and decompress, and with back to school and everything else it really has been quite bananas this month, especially. But I was so committed to this goal I had set and this program I was on that I never missed a day of running, through all of it. (I did have one week early on — I think it was the second week — where I got a nasty, nasty stomach virus and couldn’t get out of bed, so that did push me back one week. Other than that, it was ON.)

I should also say that I HATE RUNNING. I really do. I can make it interesting if I do a run/walk, high incline/low combo, but just to keep on running on the treadmill pretty much sucks. Give me the elliptical or the recumbent bike any day.

My trainer asked me if I stayed on the program because I was addicted to the running and I think I shocked him with my answer: it wasn’t the running at all. It was that I had set a goal and I was determined to meet it, and if I didn’t run it would set me back. So I stuck to it and kept going…and today was “race day”!

My husband was away this weekend but my gym has free childcare (!) that I had never used. I signed my kids up and brought them along, so determined was I to do this. I got them settled and managed to secure one of my more favorite treadmills. I brought my ipod, which made me a little nervous because I typically watch TV in the morning, but I thought music might be good. It ended up being all George Michael for the whole run…Freedom!

My time wasn’t great, but I did it. And not that I didn’t know this before, but it reminded me how much of a goal-oriented person I am. Seriously. And I suggest that to all of you, particularly for an exercise program. I went to the gym five days a week every single week before I started this program. But I never sweated more than when I was pushing myself to run farther each time. I like that I had a known end point and knew what I had to do to get there. It feels good to achieve!

So now what? I think I’m going to stick with the running. Though I don’t like it, my body is much stronger and my endurance is great. And my goal now is that I’ll run another 5k in 5 weeks or so, and see if I can best my time.

Etc.

My great friend Suzanne took me out for my birthday this weekend, which was so nice, and I celebrated both my birthday and my run with a hot fudge sundae for dessert. Sweeeeet! I was thinking I should take myself for a foot massage.

My allergies have been horrific this fall. it’s really bizarre. I never remember taking any sort of allergy medication in the fall, only spring, and this year I’m miserable without it.

A new week is almost here…Hope you all had a great weekend!

It’s A Stretch

March 26, 2010

This is how you do it!

From time to time my left knee gets a pain in it, and I have been convinced it’s because my hamstrings get too tight. But this week in pilates my instructor insisted that from the cardio I do at the gym — mainly the elliptical and the treadmill — my quads are tight, which in turn pulls my knee cap out of alignment. And presto: there’s the knee pain. Apparently, it’s pretty common.

The fix? Stretching out your quads every darn day. (As she put it, “Humans are not meant to run. They need to stretch. Dogs? Horses? They don’t need to stretch. But people? You need to stretch.”)

So I’ve been sure to stretch my quads after my cardio sessions this week. No knee pain!

You stand next to something you can hold, pull your other leg, bent, up and grab onto your foot. Pull until you have a nice stretch in your thigh muscle. Hold for five to ten seconds and repeat on the other side.

Whether you have knee pain or not, it’s a good stretch to incorporate.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

The farmers market in Union Square is one of the treasures in the city: amazing produce, herbs, meats, baked goods, jams, plants, flowers and more all direct from the farm. We love having it down our street.

And now comes word that Pier 40 on the Hudson in Greenwich Village is being turned into a farmers market which will rival Union Square within 3 years. That’s pretty awesome.

Single of the Week

Here’s Ken:

I’ve always harbored an intense desire to do three things in life: watch Cornell play in the final four, play weak-side linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys and meet a Swedish gal who’s into robots. On the first, the Big Red are only two games away from a date in Indianapolis. I’m currently pursuing the second by sending sports agents video of me totally destroying Austin in the 40 yard dash and opening up new jars of pickles. The final goal is also within reach with Swedish indie-electro-pop star Robyn and her single “Fembots,” which follows the android-themed hits “Robotboy,” “Bionic Woman” and “The Girl and the Robot.” I’ve emailed her a few dozen times, asking her to meet me for lunch, preferably somewhere that has a lunch special. As of this writing, she has not replied. Live my dream and check out this pretty cool tune on her official site.

Click here and scroll down to take a listen.

Etc.

I cannot believe that Discovery is reportedly paying Sarah Palin a million bucks an episode for a travel show about Alaska.

We are on vacation next week and so Family Favs will go on holiday as well. Happy Passover, Happy Easter, and a wonderful start to spring to you all!!

Keep on truckin’.

Condiment...and stain fighter!

Condiment...and stain fighter!

I tried this out this morning and I still can’t believe it worked, so I have to pass it on because: 1.) it’s unbelievable and 2.) it really works!

Yesterday I had left a glass of water on a coaster on my dresser for most of the day. When I got home at night, the coaster left a big water ring on the wood. I was not happy! But I had a nasty headache so I decided to table it (no pun intended) until the next morning. So I woke up (correction — I was woken up) at 5:59 am, and this water ring was staring me in the face, taunting me with how it had ruined my dresser. I decided to harness the power of the internet, and I googled “removing water marks from wood furniture.” I figured it would tell me some product I could buy at Home Depot or wherever. To my surprise, many of the links that came up said mayonnaise was the way to go. I read a bit further down the comments, and it said mayo and cigarette ashes would take it out. “Great,” I thought. “We don’t smoke.” As I scrolled down, someone else had the same problem, so they substituted baking soda for the ashes, figuring it had the same grit to it.

So I went to the kitchen and made a mayo and baking soda paste. I went back to my room and applied it with a paper towel. I wasn’t sure how long to let it sit. (There weren’t many specific instructions on the internet.) After a minute or two I wiped it off and, lo and behold, the stain was still there. Only now my dresser smelled like a sandwich.

Willing to dig a little deeper, I went back and scrolled down even further (this seems to be the key to successfully gathering info off the net). This too had happened to others, and they tried applying the paste, covering it with a towel and then using an iron or hair dryer on it for a few minutes. I decided to try it. I couldn’t find our iron so I pulled out the hair dryer. I applied a layer of the paste, and then put a paper towel over it. I turned on the hair dryer and ran it over the towel, close to it, for a minute or two. Then I used the paper towel to wipe away the mayo.

Well, color me stunned because the stain was just about gone. I couldn’t believe it. I did the process one more time and erased all remnants of the water ring. I was so proud of myself and in awe at the power of the internet! The best part was I had everything in the house already, and I didn’t have to use any harsh chemicals. Now my dresser is very shiny…if you have any water marks on wood that you’ve been lamenting, this really works. And it doesn’t have to be a certain kind of wood. My dresser is stained a grayish color. Unbelievable!

Weekend Wrap Up

You know those maxi dresses, the long flowy ones that Angelina Jolie always wears? I am so over them. I feel like every third woman has one on, and on most people it is not such a good look. It’s really one step away from a mumu.

Friday was rainy and we had the afternoon off so The Hangover it was! It was very funny. I don’t think it’s as good as Wedding Crashers or Old School, but it definitely had its laugh out loud moments. If you’re looking for a smile, go.

Saturday night we took the kids over to the East Village for dinner. I hadn’t been down St. Mark’s Place in so many years, and it confirmed why not. But I have wanted to try the Dessert Truck for a while, and it parks nightly on Third Avenue and St. Mark’s. Because the start up costs for restaurants in the city are so prohibitively high, the trend is for chefs to strike out on their own with a truck. So while I used to eat lo mein and soft pretzels from the trucks in college, now you can get high end barbecue, mexican and indian all from the side of the road. One that has gotten high praise is this Dessert Truck, started by a former Le Cirque pastry chef and his buddy. Ken and I tried the chocolate bread pudding with vanilla sauce ($5; you can also get it with bacon sauce), the kids chose chocolate ice cream ($3), which they said was delicious. We sat on the steps of the Cooper Union and enjoyed our treats, enjoying the summer night. Highly recommended!

Ken and Austin went to the Yankees game on Saturday and said the new stadium is nice. Apparently the food options are much better — there’s a Hard Rock and a Johnny Rockets inside. Plus lots of memorabilia from the old stadium. Unfortunately the Yanks lost.

I think my allergies are really bad. I thought I had a cold but I’m beginning to suspect I need to hit the Zyrtec to get rid of this constant fuzziness. Ugh.

Thanks for all the great feedback on the blog. Remember, if you want to subscribe by email, just click the handy link at the right and everytime there’s a new post you get a handy email in your inbox.

The weather was so great here this weekend — it makes it that much easier to get out and have fun, which we did. Hope you enjoyed as well!!

Keep It Loose

May 15, 2009

With Addison in the hospital last week I had to cancel pilates, so when I went in this week, let’s just say between the stress and lack of sleep, I really, really needed it. When we were through with the hour, I felt great, and my teacher left me with this: “Keep stretching every day.” So I pass that along to you, as well as my favorite lower back stretch. You can do it in the gym or in the comfort of your very own home!

innerthighstretchSit down as if you’re going to sit Indian-style, but don’t cross your legs. Put the bottoms of your feet together so your legs make a diamond shape. Now lean forward (you can put your hands on the floor in front of you) until you feel a stretch. Hold for 15 seconds. Sit up and repeat. Depending on how close or far from your body that your legs are will determine how far you can go and how much of a stretch you’ll get. Now here’s part 2: sit up straight in the same position, let your knees open and relax close to the ground. From the waist, lean to the right. The key is to keep your left butt cheek glued to the floor so you get a big stretch in the waist, hips and lower back on the left side. Hold for 10 seconds, return to straight and lean to the left, keeping your right side down. I find it’s a great stretch to open up the lower back without risking overstretching or putting pressure on any other body parts. It’s an excellent “good morning!” stretch to get you going.

Oh Yeah, It’s Thursday!!

Did someone say music? Here’s the Single of the Week from Ken:

This week, we’re going to flex some dance hall funk and send a little Major Lazer across NJ Transit’s Morristown line, up into MetroNorth’s New Haven line and even, God forbid, into parts of the Upper East Side. (Note: The omission of Long Island is intentional.) “Hold the Line” features Santigold and Mr. Lexx singing over an incessant surf guitar hook, punctuated by sound effects ranging from dial tones to horses to electronic warbling. If Michael Buble woke up in hell, this is what he would be listening to.

Random

Did you know that Wal Mart accounts for 10 percent of all retail sales in the U.S.? I didn’t until today when they released their earnings (which were flat). It just made me realize how outside of the mainstream I am, since I won’t shop there. I mean, I get it — it’s cheap. But at a certain point I think we need to ask, “At what cost?” and when you won’t give people health benefits even though they work full time and you lock people in at night to clean your stores, something ain’t right. (Before I hear from Wal Mart defenders, I know they have cleaned up their act in the last couple of years but that was only after mucho pressure from state and local governments and I still hear stories about them strong-arming their suppliers, among other things.) So I choose to shop elsewhere. Apparently, most of America doesn’t agree with me!

Here Comes the Weekend

I’m so excited that the weekend is just about here! Ken and I have a date Friday night, I am going to see if MacLaren can refurbish our stroller (if it goes well I will give you all the deets), Austin and I are going to make strawberry muffins and blueberry pancakes and we have a whole bunch of other things planned. I have been on an organization kick so I have a couple more projects I want to tackle (my shoes being one of them — which frankly might take the whole weekend).

Let’s get this party started!

Road Warriors

April 22, 2009

I want to go and watch Gossip Girl so Ken is going to write about a great resource online for running shoes. I definitely agree with the recommendation — once I called for a pair of New Balance and he told me they were too expensive and that I would be happier with another shoe. Who says that?! Anyway here’s Ken:

images2“Do you run? Do you want to run? Do you like to wear top-of-the-line running sneakers while eating a bag of Doritos? Then check out RnJ Sports (rnjsports.com) out of Rockville, Maryland. This locally owned business has been around for 25 years, and they provide the perfect combination of great prices and expert advice on everything to do with running and tennis sneakers. With cost, I’ve found them to be roughly 10-20% cheaper than anywhere else, online or in-store, and they offer free shipping on orders above $65. Best of all, they’ll share their expertise with you to steer you in the right direction. The other day, I called them and asked about the difference between a New Balance and Asics stability sneaker. The owner explained that the Asics model outsells the New Balance model roughly 40 to 1, and that New Balance is now ranked below Asics, Mizuno, Saucony and others when it comes to performance and reputation among runners. He’s also deterred me from buying more expensive sneakers and has checked, unprompted, to see if older models selling at a discount were available before I went ahead and purchased the new model. That’s the kind of combination of honesty and expertise that’s always refreshing. So the next time you’re out on the jogging path beating the life out of your meniscus, make a note to check out RnJ Sports – you’ll get yourself a great-fitting shoe and be supporting a top-quality independent business.”

(Editor’s Note: I recommend going and trying the sneakers somewhere and then ordering them online, so you’ll know they fit ok.)

Etc.

We finally finished Austin’s recycling collage for school. Every project is like 5 minutes for him and then several hours for me to try and make it presentable. And he’s only in nursery school! (Sigh.) I’m dreading algebra 2 already.

Is it me or does this week feel long? Maybe it’s the weather, although it is supposed to be nicer toward the end of the week.

All right — time for TV. Hope you’re well!!