A blogger seeking a richer life... in a wasteland called the suburbs... for my family, myself, and anyone who will listen!

Friday, October 30, 2009

"Project Runway" Glam... Avante Garde?... and You Too Can Dish It Out

Maybe this 6th season of "Project Runway", moving from Bravo to Lifetime, is a reflection of our economic hard times.  Everything seems so safe and at times incredibly boring to watch.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan, but each season has dropped a notch on the 'creativity meter'!  Compared to one of my other favorite reality shows... "So You Think You Can Dance (please not "Dancing with the...), which has moved up the talent notch every season...  is dense with creativity! Anyway, last night did produce two very chic and wearable outfits from Althea and Irina.  The "Harem" pants  are brilliant Althea!  Irina, your 'look' is so luxe!

Besides shoes and bags, my other collecting passion is dishes. I like to mix up my casual dinnerware and serving plates, looking for bargains at the same time... I scope out the dinnerware whenever I'm in TJMaxx, Pottery Barn, and Pier One, etc.  This pretty dinner plate from Pier One (for just $5) is dishwasher safe, but not microwave safe.  That's a dilemma, I love these, and would mix the yellow and green... yes... buy both colors, but I also like to be able to microwave them and especially so do the kids.  I think I will still but 4 of them...
As far as formal dinnerware goes, it's fun to go on 'eBay' and buy antique plates, each one different, but coordinated. Your dinner guests will love it!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Uga UGG... Nice UGG... Nice DROID!

As soon as the weather turns cold I live in boots... tall, short, heel, wedge...  Some of my friends swear by UGGs (slipper comfort).  They're great on twenty-something, but not for me, maybe because I don't really wear flats (being 5'2")... but this season they have a short and tall wedge that are a great everyday boot to wear with leggings, tights, or jeans... and the price is right... $200 and $300!  The "Gissella" comes in 'Espresso' or 'Black Suede".  Stuart Weitzman and Tory Burch also have 'Wedge Booties' and are priced higher at about $350.  The wedge UGGs are the perfect solution for height and comfort with sophistication!

I'm really into technology... so I've been patiently waiting for a new cell phone (mine is 3 years old and a bear to text ) with android technology (open software) from Verizon.  Well it's here... on November 6th the "DROID" will be available... Have you seen their cool ad campaign running on TV?  'Droid Does'... everything (except laundry)... Does video... Does Tunes... Does Multitasking... Does Hi-Res... Does Speech Recognition... Does Apps... Does High Speed...  I love my IMAC (an artists dream machine) but the IPHONE doesn't work for me with all the texting I do to my kids and friends.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wardrobe Basics... and Yankee Pitchers!

Today only, Victoria's Secret is having 25% off any one item on top of their already 'sale prices'.
I don't usually buy their bras or lingerie, but for many years I would get their catalogue and shop for wardrobe basics each season.  It's been awhile, but today I picked a pair of leggings, and two great tops.  Go to 'Sweater Shop' and click on 'Most Loved".  I don't do well with wool (too itchy) so I chose cashmere/ cotton blends. Sale prices for the sweaters range from about $39 to $49, and the leggings are 2/$20 to 2/$40, so enjoy!

I don't know about you, but I love the excitement of the 'World Series'!!!... LIVE events and the spirit that goes along with it... my favorite, even when it's nail-biting.  My husband is not a team sport guy (tennis and hiking), but we all love to watch as a family,,, so much fun, especially now that our home team is in it this year.  I'm riveted to those extreme TV close-ups of the pitchers...  Mariano Rivera, stoic, with his cut fastball, one of the great pitches in the history of the sport, and Andy Pettitte, the most responsible for getting his team to this 'World Series'... love that dimpled chin!...  and of course, C.C. Sabathia, I just like to say his name, the way it sounds rolling off the tongue. Let's hope the rain quits and they can play tonight.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sweet Balance...

One thing I know about Halloween is that even my kids get candy OVERLOAD!  That nasceus feeling that goes with too much of a good thing.  Although my kid with the sweet tooth won't admit to the over indulgence.  It's just that I know because he's spending too much time in the bathroom on that spooky night. For this reason I don't like to make more 'sweet treats' but something to counter the sugar.  Sometimes I make chili, chicken noodle soup, or mac and cheese, and invite their neighborhood friends to join us.  This is the first year I won't be here with my kids on Halloween... Boo Hoo... so I hope you like one of my favorite recipes adapted from the "Martha Stewart Living Cookbook" for Mac and Cheese.  

        I was in Sephora the other day.  My favorite place for makeup.  They have a beautiful line of individual eyeshadows (embraced by celebs) from Illamasqua a UK company launched in 2008. "It's professional nightime makeup that's richly pigmented and long lasting".  Maybe you can wear it as she does in the extreme for Halloween, but then enjoy it this Fall for those special evenings out.  My favorite color is 'Intense', a Matte Dark Teal (not shown).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Public Or Private... and then there's "Precious"!

Maybe I shouldn't even be posting pictures of my DOG!  Is that crazy (irrational), the idea that someone might track down my dog, come to my house and kidnap him from my front yard.  I actually remember a story coming out of LA a few years ago about people stealing 'Designer Dogs" from their yards for $$$.

This story however from the NY Times (this weekend) is about weather or not to post pictures of your kids on social networking sites for fear of sexual predators and general misuse.  Well the 'experts' say that predators don't work that way... but it's still a HOT debate!  I've never been entirely comfortable about sharing my kids photos on 'Facebook" for instance, so I don't... I do email my photos selectively, it's not as convenient but I'm more comfortable with it.  Generally I do think etiquette should be to ask your friends if they're ok with it before posting pictures of them.

I love film, although this is the first time I'm blogging about one.  I'm really looking forward to the November 6th release of director and producer Lee Daniels' movie "Precious'.  I first read about it, believe it or not,  in my J.Crew catalogue which featured Daniels wearing their 'Cord Sportcoat'.  Then this weekend the NY Times Magazine section featured the movie as the cover article.  I played the trailer online, and the movie is based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire, a very 'powerful and heartwrenching' story about abuse with an uplifting ending.  Mo'Nique's performance as Precious's mother has generated talk of an Oscar.

Friday, October 23, 2009

U Wanna Be Shallit for Halloween?!... and the COOLIST Kids Gift!!!

My just 'teen' son is very creative musically, but over the last 5 years, when it comes to Halloween he really takes off!!! Last year he went as a '70's Ping Pong Player' with the headband and short shorts... it was perfect.  In 5th grade he went to the schools' 'Fall Festival' (Halloween) as an 'Old Woman' wearing my skirt (gutsy) and crocheted shawl and a wicked mask.  This year... Gene Shallit?!  How does he know Shallit anyway?  He says  from his friend and the internet.  There is a funny 'YouTube' video of Shallit pretending to be Shallit.  So we'll dye his 'hippie wig' (from another Halloween) black and so on... but what's really distinctive (ha ha) about Gene Shallit is his voice! He'll have to practice that.

Theeeeee Cooooooolist Gift for everybody including yourself!  My sons' friend ( not the Shallit friend) told him about designing your own shoe at the Converse website, where Mr. Converse started this "rubber shoe" company in 1908.  They give you the history of the company in ten year increments, for example from 1948 -1958 with the invention of Rock and Roll, and the NBA, came a style which included the high-top sneaker.
My son picked the style of the shoe, color of the tongue and laces, and had his name sewn on the side of the sneaker too.  i LOVE it!  Now of course his younger brother wants a pair too.  It runs about $70 including tax and shipping.
So start designing!... delivery is about 2 -4 weeks.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Black Bag...

I'm always looking at bags and shoes, both fashion obsessions... and I don't like to pay too much because it's usually something for this season and not next (with some exceptions). This is the challenge... a bag I love that's not a black hole... where things (like car keys and makeup... important things) are not impossible to find. A 'satchel' or 'tote' style is best for me like this one I purchased for $99 in NYC at Zara's, it looks very similar to a 'Cole Haan' handbag, the 'Bailey Tote' for $378. The zipper detail is what makes it!  It is a little on the heavy side , but has both the arm (leather) and shoulder (chain) straps.

You may have noticed that I've been photographing my new shoes, bag, etc. on this beautiful pony skin rug. Two of my friends who saw it ( who are both not animal lovers), said 'it creaped them out'.  I love it!   I'm an animal lover too.  Well it's not real pony-horse hide, "pony hair " is the technical name used to describe a cow hide with the hair still attached (this is a highly regulated industry that ensures the humane treatment of cows). Usually they sell for about $700 (see similar at Williams Sonoma Home), but I bought this in NYC  at  'Evolution' for $399. They come in all different patterns, some in browns and others in black and white too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How Not To Bake Apples...

WOW...  It wasn't planned this way but I made fish for dinner last night and 'Baked Apples' for dessert, and while cooking the fish the apples were baking in the oven, and that fishy smell was diminished with the fragrance of the apples and cinnamon mixing in the air.  Usually I grill fish because it's delicious that way but it also keeps the house from smelling through to the next day (no matter how good the range hood!).   My husband and kids helped clear the table and left the room to watch "NCIS", one of our favorite family shows (next to "Monk", then "NCIS" then "Amazing Race").   Actually, only my 13 year old and I watch "Amazing Race".   Our fantasy is to be on together one day (maybe... we haven't thought about it seriously... not yet)!

So 'Baked Apples", yummy and a healthy dessert.   I winged it last night with years of experience in my head.  There are many recipes, but here's a simple one. simplyrecipes.com  I sometimes use walnuts, but I use fresh lemon juice and lemon zest.   I top it with a bit of lemon rind too, it looks pretty.   I used Braeburn apples this time, but as you can see there was one runt in the bunch.  I didn't have four so I used another smaller apple from an earlier purchase at the farm stand.  You don't have to use an 'apple corer'.  Use a paring knife to slice off a sliver of the top and bottom, and to core the apple.  I should have used a spoon to scoop out the seeds (instead I used the knife), to remove the least amount of apple.   Also don't bake it in a metal pan, use pyrex or a ceramic baking dish.  It was not my very best 'Baked Apples', but I'll remember for the next time and now you won't make these mistakes.   They were very happy with the outcome.  The kids topped it with frozen yogurt, and Voila!  Before baking...

After baking...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"All the Leaves Are Brown"...

I didn't think you could skip Fall, but I think we really did!  The only fall colors I've seen lately are in the pork roast I made last night with 'Confetti' potatoes (from Washington State /Trader Joe's).  I cooked it in my Le Creuset enamel pan from stovetop to oven (my best cooking investment ever!).  Seasoned it with (kosher) salt, pepper, browned it with olive oil for about 15 minutes, then put it in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour, and after all the natural juices were released from the roast I added a little balsamic vinegar ( the good stuff).
 I also made the most delicious green beans I've tasted in a long time! They were sweet and tasted like the garden.  They were also from Trader Joe's (just microwave in a bag green beans). It was an easy meal with quality ingredients.
Now what would have been the perfect finish to this meal was 'Baked Apples', or an 'Apple Tart', actually anything warm with apples!  I didn't have the time last night, and was focused on the kids and their activities, but tonight... and I'll blog about it tomorrow with recipes and photos.  I think I'll make baked apples probably the healthiest choice and I love the way the aroma permeates the house.

I'll leave the 'apple tart' for company.  My suggestions for tart recipes are 'French Apple Tart', Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, or Alice Waters' Simplest Apple Tart .

Not THIS kind of 'Apple'...  Although this is my favorite 'Apple'!,

but the  BEST apple varieties for baking are Rome, Jonagold, Granny Smith, Pippin, Gala, Braeburn, Northern Spy, Gravenstein, Rhode Island Greening, York Imperial, Cortland, and Winesap.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Not Like Our Ancestors...

Yesterday, despite the GLOOMy  forecast, and the back and forth, "should we, shouldn't we go", we went with our 50 person group to Ellis Island Immigration Museum.  I'm so glad we didn't succumb to those 'doomsayer' meteorologists predictions of battering wind and rain, when it turned out to be mostly drizzle.  Imagine what weather the immigrants traveled through -  No, I can't imagine!  Even with two and a half hours (which isn't enough time) at the museum, I still can't imagine what it must have been like traveling that tired, hungry, and often sick for weeks on end.  Over all, the kids enjoyed it, especially the ferry ride.  And thanks to 11 year old Zach, now better known as 'GPS' who had done the trip before, we would have gotten off the ferry at the 'Statue of Liberty' stop instead of our planned destination.

The kids unfortunately burned out halfway through our museum visit, which is to be expected.  I think maybe they have trouble relating to the old black and white photos.  One part of the exhibit where we had a lot of fun was the 'Word Tree' which shows the origin of many American words.
Also come prepared with family names to look up on the immigrant database provided at computer kiosks and The 'Wall of Honor' (which we'll have to save for the next trip).  You can also go to the websites for lookup at ellisisland.org and wallofhonor.org.
I was able to call my mother from the museum when my son and I  couldn't find certain relatives because of name changes when they arrived from Eastern Europe.  Some of the family members still spell their last name differently, with one letter an 'i' instead of an 'e'.
On my husbands' side the name changed all together from the original Russian.
My son is studying Mandarin Chinese in Middle School so our last stop was at the gift shop to buy a T-shirt saying I'm a 'Chinese-American', so he could show his teacher his pride in what he is learning!
Mom, "Chinese, not Spanish is the language of the future" he says...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Girls Night Out with 'True Sake'!

Everything... food, ambience, and the company, was just RIGHT last night where I met my girlfriend for a 'girls night out' evening without the hubbies.  We landed at the sushi bar at NISEN, a beautiful modern japanese restaurant in Woodbury, NY.  It was Thursday which is typically 'singles night' here so they had a DJ playing some surprisingly soulful drums which we especially enjoyed.

 A bottle of sake (cold is the way to go) was recommended by our waiter.  As you can see we enjoyed it enough to order a second.  I took pictures as we spontaneously arranged a 'still life' all in primary colors.  It was not until this morning that I looked closely at the ice blue bottles' label, Banraku, and decided to research this sake for my blog.  What I found was "TRUE SAKE', America's First Sake Store, and the passioned story behind it. truesake.com  The founder, Beau Timken is South African, the sake Japanese, and the place San Francisco, (my town for 11 years and how sweet it was!!!)  As Timken puts it, "If a guy from Ohio can open the first truly dedicated sake store outside of Japan, then anybody can learn to appreciate this wonderful libation."

 This beautiful dress (or tunic style top) from 'Kar Ani', LA designer Ani Karapetian, karanila.com would be the perfect thing to wear out to Nisen, with the japanese 'Sumi style'  brush print.  I found this stunning dress in one of my favorite boutiques "Meringue Boutique', Dix Hills, NY,  soon to open a second near Fairway Market in Plainview meringueboutiques.com.
So "Domo Arigato", until Monday!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day!... The Great Migration

Today is 'Blog Action Day', where over 7,000 are collectively blogging about "Climate Change", www.tonic.com.  Well, most believe that the destruction of forests are contributing to changes in climate,  but here's a story (CBS News thought important too) about how the loss of the forest is directly effecting the Mara River, the main artery of the African ecosystem right NOW!  There was a time when epic animal migrations were commonplace, but the only large animal migration left in the world is now threatened by drought.  From Serengheti to Masai Mara the 350 mile roundtrip year long migration of a million (give or take a few) Wildebeest need the Mara River which is at it's lowest level ever!  Why?  Forest is being desecrated for fuel ... No Forest, no River, no Wildebeest!  What's the solution... October 4th, 2009 "60 Minutes" aired a piece, 'The Last Migration', cbsnews.com.   My kids watched this piece too, and they saw the river's low water level,  it's imminence had an impact on them.  Thank you Robin Reid for your dedication to this problem.

Eco Friendly Fashion... Yesterday I wrote about Zara, the clothing company and their beautiful clothes.   I also wanted to include them today again because of their commitment to the 'environment and animal welfare', which can be seen on their website in a formally stated policy on both. zara.com

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Aliens Have Landed... on Mt. Washington?

WAIT...  a month of planning, weeks of shopping for 'wicking winter clothes', daily weather checks, making hut reservations, buying the kids the RIGHT hiking boots, more weather checks, and the BEST they can do when they ALL finally reach the summit is this!... First lesson in photography guys: take MANY photos of your subject (film is cheap oh, but it's even better, it's digital... ) so if you're lucky enough there will be one good shot to remember that special moment.  Actually they did come home with a FEW good ones, but this one makes me chuckle every time I look!  About 5,000 feet up and I guess the altitude was more than the camera could handle!  Love you guys a lot!!!

 I REALLY enjoyed my weekend with my Mom and Sister hitting museums, eating, and shopping in NYC!  We ( mom too) bought these comfortable (they'll go with almost everything) 'Nine West' platforms at a new store "Shoe WOO' at 59th and Lex, where the mannequin in the window is adorned with a skirt made out of shoes.  An idea for a "Project Runway" challenge Heidi, what do you think?!'

Right next door is one of my favorites, 'Zara', a line of reasonably priced, beautiful  womens' clothes coming to us from Spain.  The store was packed and I bought a 'bag' and 'top'... tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Don't Miss... "Slash: Paper Under The Knife"!

You'll be looking at PAPER a whole new way when you see the cut, torn, burned, cut by lasers, and shredded paper works at The Museum of Arts and Design's (NYC) current show, "Slash: Paper Under the Knife", madmuseum.org. Bring the kids too, they'll love it! It's well worth it if you can linger, go down a few floors to see "Read My Pins: The Madeline Albright Collection" which contain over 200 pins the former Secretary of State wore to communicate or convey a message during her diplomatic meetings. "After Saddam Hussein's press referred to her as a serpent, Secretary Albright wore a golden snake brooch pinned to her suit for her next meeting on Iraq". Oh, the subtle power of women! The idea of using jewelry to communicate through a style and language of it's own is brilliant!
If you caught my blog Friday you'll remember that my husband and kids were climbing mountains this we
ekend, while I spent the time (well overdue) with my mother and sister in NYC... and what a great time we had, shopping, eating tapas, and struggling to find a taxi with the subways down (on a holiday weekend). Shame on you Ma
yor Bloomberg!
We headed down to SOHO after Columbus Circle to 'The Evolution Store' looking to buy a pony rug which I wanted to buy last year but held off (delayed gratification) and it was worth the wait, a great buy. It's a great shop especially during Halloween.

OK, so on to clothes shopping... we went to the giant

UNIQLO for high quality casual wear at remarkably low prices (cashmeres' a steal).

Looking for something more Unique (all arranged by color) then stop at 97 Spring Street, Un-Po-Me-La, where they had a wonderful selection of 'little black dresses', of which my sister took advantage as she has a few parties this fall. All this shopping stimulated our appetites so we stopped into 'Boqueria' (boquerianyc.com), for a tasty Tapas lunch, only to find that the chef at their 19th street location, Seamus Mullen, is competing in the second season of "The Next Iron Chef".
Our final and luxuriously aromatic stop was at the Israeli bath and body shop, Sabon, where I left with a Lemon Basil Souffle cream that I might just dive into as soon as I get home (yummy). Oh, how I miss living in the CITY!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Color Your World...

Today's blog is going to be brief with my husband and kids going on their hiking trip I promised to help my husband stuff all his hitech clothes and gear into the backpacks.  I don't believe how much all these 'wicking clothes' cost for the boys roughing-it weekend trip!
I remember the days when my kids were very young (just six years ago, WOW), and we bought black chalkboard paint for one of the kids' rooms.  Well, color your world because thanks to a blurb in 'House Beautiful' magazine I discovered Hudson Paint, hudsonpaint.com, and all 24 colors of chalkboard paint.   They have a beautiful website (an artists product) with customers decorating ideas on how to use these delicious paints like, 'supergirl periwinkle and superboy blue.

Another 'House Beautiful' find was a site for a great girls gift and the perfect party favor.  A classic children's toy in handcast pewter.  As they say on their site, "...Our pewter bubble wands take bubble blowing to a new level"!   Well, with the holidays right around the Fall corner, I ordered the 'Crown Bubble Wand" for my favorite girl princess.