All New Family Favs!

September 3, 2016

It’s been a long, long time Family Favs followers! (2 years to be exact.) I’ve decided to revive Family Favs, but over on Instagram. Same idea, only with more pics and less text. And really, isn’t that what it has all come to??!! I’ll be bringing you all the stuff I like, think is worth the $, actually works, makes your life a little better and/or just a little more fun. As always, there’s no pay for play. I do it for the love, literally.

So what are you waiting for? Follow me over on Instagram at familyfavs. See you there!!


Back in the Saddle

December 9, 2013

Break my day!

Break my day!

Hey blogosphere — I actually can’t believe how long it has been. Sorry about that. As they say, life happens…but I am back! Just in time for the holidays.

Having people over? Don’t want to put out your fancy glasses for fear of a smash, but environmentally opposed to going through 50 plastic cups in an evening? I love these Govino wine glasses. They’re cool looking, with a thumb print on the side for easy holding, They’re light and while they’re made for wine, any beverage works. At $14 for 4, you can stock up. I like to use them in our backyard — no need to worry if something slips onto the stone patio. A set or two with a nice bottle of wine makes a lovely holiday gift for a hostess. They’re great for picnics and yes, rowdy holiday parties. Bottoms up! (You can buy them here at MoMA.)

Neighborhood Joints

I had been wanting to try Calliope for a while — it was on a few end of year lists last year as being a great little neighborhood place, with delish french food. Being a west sider, it took me several months to make a plan over on the east side, but we did it, and it was worth it. The food is very good – the menu is abbreviated, but you can definitely find something enticing. I had the halibut, which was very tasty and a large portion — I actually couldn’t finish it. It’s always packed and it’s not a big place, so you need a res, and it can get loud. But people are having fun, enjoying life, and you can’t help but enjoy that!

This past Friday night my son had a sleepover and we decided to take our daughter out to dinner. We couldn’t think of where we wanted to go, and we didn’t dare ask her, because if it’s up to her, we end up wherever she can get a rice and bean burrito. At the last minute I threw out Francisco’s Centro Vasco, where I had been once with a friend before a movie. If you haven’t been, you must check it out. It’s old school Manhattan, and I mean that in the most loving way. The waiters dress up. They let you past a velvet rope to head to your table. They hand you a list of lobster sizes and prices and tie the bib around your neck. All dinners come with salad, green beans and potato (the chips are fresh and tasty, although I am partial to an old fashioned baked). If you ask for a glass of wine, there is no list. They’ll just tell you to get the merlot. Everyone goes for the lobster, but my husband had scallops that looked good, and my daughter had shrimp and yellow rice that she loved. (And there was enough left over for hers and my son’s lunch the next day.) Not much tops $25, which is pretty amazing for seafood and all of the sides included. I recommend the lobster broiled, btw.


Well, the first snow happened. I came home from staying at a hotel in NJ last night, took a nap and then decided to stay in the rest of the day. I got a lot done, and watched 4 episodes of The Mindy Project. (I want to really like that show, but it’s just not that good.) I love how a layer of snow blankets the noise of the city, especially on a Sunday. Tomorrow it’s back to the messy, noisy reality. Pack on the layers…it’s supposed to get even colder. I guess it is December!

So Joe Fresh

May 8, 2012

ImageA new clothing store opened in my neighborhood a few months ago. I have been a few times and I think I am ready to give it the Family Favs stamp of approval. Joe Fresh has clothing for men and women, all at pretty low prices. The closest thing I can compare it to is the Gap, but it doesn’t try to be all things to all people. It embraces bold colors – in fact, once it picks a color, a whole section of the store can be in that color.

First, the cons: Low prices means the clothes can be at times, well, let’s call a spade a spade, cheap. Some of the t-shirts are very thin, some of the sweaters’ buttons seem like they could come off at a moment’s notice, the sizing is not always uniform. (Definitely try things on, as I have had things look much different on than they looked on the hanger, frankly for better or worse.) I would skip the shoes.

But on the upside, the colors really feel fresh (go figure) and bold, and frankly if you’re buying a bright green top that you may only wear a few times, $14 seems like the right price. The styles are simple and chic. There are sweet tote bags that add punch to any outfit. There’s even makeup, which is fun to experiment with without breaking the bank. This is a great place for summer tees, cover ups for the beach, and even workout wear and hoodies.

The collection changes often so it’s the kind of place to just pop your head in when you’re in the neighborhood, take a look and maybe find a few things to punch up your wardrobe. There are currently 5 stores in the NYC, Long Island, NJ area. I am sure more will open across the country.

You can check it out online here.

More fun with NickMom

Here’s what I’ll be looking for this Mother’s Day!


RIP to Maurice Sendak. I was glad he was on The Colbert Report recently — showing himself to a new legion of fans. He will be missed.

And Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys…too, too young with so much more to say.

We’ll always have their respective incredible bodies of work to remember them by.


No additives…making life easier!

During lunchtime last week I actually took the time and went to an hour-long cooking class, which also talked a little about nutrition too. As you know, I am always looking for tips about healthy and quick meals, and this was interesting. The nutritionist who led the class talked about replacing white rice with brown rice (which I do), or, even better, using quinoa, farro, spelt or wheatberries. (Which if you remember I recently tried and recommended!) She said you can buy some of these grains fully cooked in the frozen food aisle, and you just need to microwave them for 90 seconds or so and serve. She also suggested ditching white pasta for whole wheat, and said if your family is resistant, try substituting half at first to get them used to it. (Mine didn’t really have an adverse reaction when I switched.) And for cereal, she said if it has more than 6 grams of sugar and less than 2 grams of fiber per serving, forget it. You have to read labels because some cereal that you think might be healthy actually falls out of these parameters.

I haven’t used them yet but she also recommended Bird’s Eye Steamfresh frozen vegetables. There’s nothing added, it’s microwaveable (i.e. fast) and a great way to add vegetables to a meal. For a tasty salad, slice some strawberries in with baby spinach leaves. Make a favorite balsamic vinaigrette or just use a little balsamic vinegar and canola oil over it. The balsamic vinegar really brings out the flavor of the strawberries.

If your kids (or you!) crave something sweet at the end of a meal, you can whip up an easy mango smoothie with Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt, in addition to being thicker than regular yogurt, actually has more protein, so it’s a great choice for snacking (as long as you choose the lowfat option, without a lot of sugar added). Put 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt and 1 cup of frozen mango chunks in a blender. Puree til smooth and serve. Delish!

Everyone is always so down on frozen or canned foods, but if you can find ones with no additives, it really does make life easier during the week, when there is precious little time for anything let along slaving over the stove. Plus frozen vegetables are frozen at their peak, and just may be more flavorful than that veggie that was trucked across the country to your store.


If you didn’t catch the 30 Rock live episode last week I am still laughing about it.

Rainy week here. I guess rain during the week is ok as long as the weekends are sunny and bright!

Hope all is well with you!


Passover…with an Edge!

April 6, 2012

In honor of Passover, read my post on Nickmom about plagues I’d inflict on the annoying people in my life.

To check it out, click here.


Happy Passover! Happy Easter!  Enjoy!!

Bring the Funny!

February 3, 2012

This week’s post is about some posts on another blog I’ve started writing for — NickMom! It’s a humorous look at being a mom. I’ll post links from time to time.

This week we have:

9 Most Unintentionally Confusing Things Moms Say to Their Kids

Letters a Mom Would Like to Write — Ballet School

I hope you enjoy!!

Toilet Tales

December 13, 2011

We need to file tonight’s post under “Truly Helpful Household Hints.” As in, genius. And I must say that the internet is really amazing when it comes to these types of things. A year or so ago I shared my experience with getting a water ring out of wood using mayonnaise (it really works!!), and now I will share a method for unclogging toilets.


Your plunger's new best friend

We recently re-did our bathrooms and put in Toto low flush toilets. I really like them (we had Kohler low flush before and they were not very effective, shall we say). The Toto works well, and I like the 2 flush system — very European. The problem with low flush is that if they do get clogged, there isn’t much water to use for the plunger, to create the suction. And the last thing anyone wants to be spending money on is a plumber with a snake. (And those snakes can scratch — and who wants to scratch up your nice new porcelain bowl?) So the next time you need to unclog, try this at home.

First, put in 1/4 cup of dishwashing liquid. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes. Then, pour in a huge pot full of hot water. (Online, many people say to use boiling water. The risk is that it can crack your pipes. We decided not to take that risk, and went with hot water, not boiling.) Weirdly, the toilet will suck up the water. Let it sit for another 10 minutes or so. Then flush. You may want to try plunging again at this point.

It may take a few rounds to get back to normal, but it will work. If it saves your plumber a house call, I say give it a try.


Is this time of year insane or what? I am feeling like if I make it through to next Wednesday, which will most likely be my last day in the office, it will be a miracle!

My suggestion is to make lots of lists. And cross off as you go. It will make you feel like you’re accomplishing things.

Good luck!

We definitely try and do our part when it comes to conserving and being environmentally conscious. We use reusable bags at Whole Foods and recycle as much as we can. But I was feeling guilty lately about how many freakin’ small plastic bags we go though: sandwich bags, snack bags, quart sized, freezer bags…I am sure I have already put the CEO of Ziploc’s kid through college.

I was at MoMA a couple of weeks ago to see the DeKooning exhibit (which by the way I totally recommend), and I came across these adorable, reusable sandwich and snack pouches by Lunch Skins. They’re made from cloth and have an easily cleanable inside and are safe to throw in the wash if need be. They close with strong velcro to make anything stay put. The colorful designs make them fun for kids to carry — I’m partial to the red apples and the stripes.

I found them online at Amazon here, which has the sandwich version for $11.50. If you use it every day you’ll make it up on the money you’re saving on plastic bags in no time flat. Plus the landfill will definitely thank you. I got each of my kids a sandwich sized one and a snack size, and so far it has been working out well. (There’s also a sub size if you need to transport larger sandwiches.) And forget about the kids — if you bring your lunch to work, these designs are sophisticated enough to end up in your lunchbox, too!

Did Someone Say Free Cookies?

If you caught our post last Thursday night, you know that our friends at Tate’s Bakery are sponsoring a contest here at Family Favs.   Send us your favorite cookie recipe, and you could win 3 bags of Tate’s delicious Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip cookies, as well as a signed copy of Kathleen’s cookbook. Plus we’ll put your recipe on Family Favs to share with all of our readers. Just email us at by Tuesday, October 18th, and don’t forget to include your name and address so Tate’s can ship you your prize if you win. Open to U.S. residents only (sorry international friends!)…we’ll take all of the entries, mix ‘em up and pull out one lucky winner. Come on, you know you want some tasty cookies!!


Isn’t it fascinating how so many people were touched by Steve Jobs’ passing? I really find it interesting. I think it’s sad that he was gone so soon, if you think about how much his brilliant mind could have given us in the next 10 or 20 years. RIP Steve Jobs, and thanks for everything.

Did you hear the tapes of a doped up Michael Jackson? They played them on one of the morning shows last week and I still can’t get it out of my head. It made me sad for how out of it the guy was. Another one taken too soon.

This weather has been phenomenal. Enjoy!


San Francisco Treat

November 10, 2010

There is no shortage of good restaurants in San Francisco — here are three:

Bar Bambino: On a sketchy stretch in the Mission (okay maybe that’s redundant), Bar Bambino is a lovely packed oasis of deliciousness. It’s a small place and the dining room gets crowded and loud, but the back porch is enclosed and has heaters so you can sit out there in (relative) comfort. Make sure and try some of the nibbly bits and a cheese plate with a bottle of wine. The entrees are all a little odd but tasty — I went with the local cod. You really can’t go wrong. (2931 16th Street)

Slanted Door: Everyone I talked to said this was the place to go, and it didn’t disappoint. Set inside the Ferry Building (which is worth a stroll in itself), the decor is sleek and the menu offers all kinds of Asian goodness. The spring rolls were tasty, as was the cellophane noodles with crab. (I happened to meet the chef and she was very nice and considerate — she wouldn’t shake my hand because she had duck all over hers.) And order coffee — it was some of the best tasting joe I’ve ever sipped. Turned out it’s Four Barrel coffee, which you can find on Valencia in the Mission. (1 Ferry Building)

COI: My friend pronounced it “Coy,” I thought it was “C-O-I,” and it turns out we were both wrong. It’s tres French: “Cwah.” Duh. This menu is a locavore’s dream. It’s pretty pricey in the main dining room — $135 for a bunch of courses — but in the lounge, where we were, you can order a la carte and pick and choose what you’d like. I definitely recommend that. The room is just as nice and it’s a little more casual, which I like. The abalone was quite good, as was the charred broccoli. The goat cheese cake was light and tasty. Service is good — they’re really nice about calling a cab for you, too. (373 Broadway)

The last thing I will say about all of these restaurants is that their bathrooms are all very, very clean. That’s a high compliment, San Francisco!


Things are looking up — I wasn’t quite barfing up a lung today. Maybe half of one…progress is progress! I was in a meeting and somehow the scab on my leg came off and I started massively bleeding (“Um, do you have a tissue?”). Good times.

Hope you’re enjoying your week!

Feel the Burn

September 16, 2010

Guest blogger Tori never lets ’em see her sweat…well, maybe sometimes:

I’d like to think that I am a special little snowflake unlike all the rest, but the truth is, I’m no different than nearly half of the rest of the country: until recently, I’ve never been able to stick to a regular workout routine. For my entire adult life, my exercise pattern has gone like this: I work out like crazy for two weeks, drop a few pounds and feel great, pat myself on the back for a job well done…and then quit. My husband says it’s endearing in a way, but he and I both know that the reality of the situation is not good. It’s not so much a cosmetic thing (although that is a good motivator). It’s about health. Bottom line: I ain’t getting’ any younger, and I don’t want to wake up one day as one of those ladies who has to rent a jazzy jazz scooter to get around the casino.

And it seems as though the tides may be changing. I entered a new decade this year, and like so many others (again, so much for snowflakiness) I set all kinds of capital-G Goals. One of them was to finally figure out what exactly needed to happen for me to start getting some regular exercise and taking better care of myself.

So I took a very honest look at what I would ACTUALLY do, and what I would definitely NOT do. I knew that I wouldn’t get up in the morning and go to the gym because I am a lazy jerk who conjures 10,000 reasons to stay in bed instead of walking to The Y. And I knew that I wouldn’t go after work because I would get home late, I usually have other plans and frankly, I’m often just tired. And going during lunch just wasn’t realistic either. So that left my gym time at…never?

Yep, never. Since I knew that I wouldn’t ever really commit to actually going to the gym, I decided to try something new: getting up early and working out at home. Thus began my odyssey with free Exercise TV On Demand workouts.

Exercise TV On Demand offers dozens – possibly even 100, I’m not sure – free workouts, from Pilates and yoga to cardio, toning, bootcamp-style drills, celebrity trainers and more, whenever you want them. And for 3 to 5 mornings a week for several weeks, I tried a different one each day. I will spare you the details, but trust me when I tell you that there are some truly heinous workouts available (I’m looking at you, “Goddess Burlesque Dance” and “Cardi-oke”). But there are also some really good ones. Some of the Pilates workouts, for example, were just as challenging as classes I’ve taken at NYSC. And I found what just might just be the right work-out(s) for me.

In the end, the workouts that I found most effective are led by celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels (from The Biggest Loser). Yes, I know it’s kind of cheesy, but having worked with trainers before, I can honestly say that Jillian’s workouts completely kick my ass – when I don’t phone it in, I work just as hard as I ever did with a live trainer. She’s really good about explaining form, which is essential when you don’t have a real person to correct you, and she’s motivational without being annoying.

So I’m going on my fifth week or so. I’ve had a few starts and stops but I can honestly say that this is one of the longest times I’ve really stuck with it. I’m having less and less trouble getting up early, which is a pretty big deal for a dead-to-the-world snooze alarm abuser such as myself. But when it comes down to it, I can’t think of any reason why I would stop (other than laziness) – there really aren’t any obstacles preventing me from dragging myself out of bed and into my living room to have Jillian (or, as I refer to her nearly every morning, “That F%@ing Monster”) beat me up. So wish me luck! Maybe this time I won’t even need it.