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

Friday, May 28, 2010

Summer's Here!

It's Baseball Season, which for some Little League parents (like myself) means Saturday nights (7:45 start) at the field... not necessarily how I pictured spending my Saturdays this spring, but my son is loving this season with a really nice bunch of kids and coaches who exemplify good sportsmanship...  I bring my camera hoping for inspiration, and usually leave with just a few digital memories... but the other night I came home and downloaded a few shots to iPhoto...

I wish I could say this one was planned, but NOT...

 What inspires you?... What gets you going?... 

Thought I would leave you with a few things I found this week that inspired me... 
Illustration about school bullying by Christina Ung

Here's one for the start (yippee!) of Summer...
Photographer Jill Greenberg's Glass Ceiling series

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

TOTE: To Haul; Lug

Lug...  with difficulty!  One definition of Tote is to be armed... well, when a woman is carrying a full tote bag, there is no question 'she is armed', ready for anything...  anything she could want is in that BAG!
My (as they say in New York) 'pacabook', has everything in it but the 'kitchen'... no sinks here!
My husband and kids make fun of my pacabook, they say, "How can you find anything in here?", when they're looking for something... I say, "Stay Out!", it's not yours that's why... but if my bag is too big (and it hasn't been cleaned out in while), it is, I often say, "like a black hole", frustrating even for me.

With summer upon us, Totes are great, not only for travel, or the beach, but to lighten the load, and the fabrics say, 'Summer'... so here are a few I like...
Hard to find... Marc Jacobs, Doodle Print Tote, totbags.com, for $99
Classic Denim Weekender, Marc Jacobs, totobags.com, $149

These are beautiful, a great price and come in different prints...
Zuba Africa, shopbop.com, $38

LeSportsac is my favorite for travel... light, versatile, and washable...
LeSportsac, Soleil Lightning Passerby Bag, shopbop.com, $108 

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spices for Grilling

As my mother used to say, "What's hard, is not the cooking for my family, but coming up with menu ideas every week", so if you also agree with my Mom, here's my tip for the day... check out a terrific blog called,  This Week For Dinner, yes what a great resource... Mom blogger, Jane Maynard gives you weekly meal plans, dinner ideas, and recipes.  You can follow her plan or just use it as inspiration, a way to open up to new ideas...  and she lives in the Bay Area, which for me, having lived in San Francisco for 11 years, I consider Foodie Heaven!

Another way to ratchet up your ideas for the weeks menu, now that we're into the grilling season, is to have an arsenal of grilling spices on hand... one way I found to do that is to make a trip to TJ Maxx, where they sell gourmet food items discounted... some of my favorites... gourmet cooking oils, spices, dips, and pasta.
A few weeks ago I purchased both Ginger Citrus Seasoning and this Jalapeno Pepper Flakes from "Victoria Gourmet"... I made hot wings, and a tomato and onion salad, served on a bed of Butter Lettuce with Blue Cheese dressing...
We (except for my husband, who I made wings with another rub) like it hot...
Marinate the wings in Sriracha sauce and the pepper flakes

Coat with a little canola or olive oil and grill

Dressing is olive oil and red wine vinegar

Lettuce in a bag?!... gotta cut some time from my busy day

P.S. By the time we ate it was 7:15pm and we were all so hungry (with 2 boys in puberty) that I forgot to photograph the finished product... and it looked so good layed out on the lettuce!
Oh, and I found a new Blue Cheese dressing made by Marie's, using yogurt, so it has less calories and tastes great too...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Books for Your Host

I know I've found the perfect gift when I'm thinking, "one for you and one for me"... well, I felt that way in general when looking at these beautiful books from Anthropologie, and as you scroll down the page they just keep getting better and better.
This time of the year with Memorial Day and Summer gatherings upon us, any one of these would make the perfect gift for your host...
They range in price from $14.95 to about $75... there's even a book that costs $1,200.00, yes, I thought I was seeing double, but it's an art book, can you guess which one...

I may buy a few to have just in case, and one may end up on my night table (whoops) by accident of course... Enjoy!

Monday, May 24, 2010

National Burger Day!

For my sons' 14th birthday last week we went to a new (new for us) burger joint, 'Cheeburger Cheeburger', and while he was eating his 1/2 pounder with just about another 1/2 pound of toppings, fries and onion rings, I asked my kids to rate three burger joints, including this one...
Our Top Pick...
Fresh, thin, and crispy, serving great fries and cole slaw

Our #2... If you order a pounder your photo is taken with a giant virtual burger and it goes on the wall!...
Thick and juicy on a kaiser bun, served with ok fries and good greasy onion rings

Our #3 Pick...
OK, better fries than burgers... the best all you can eat free peanuts you can shell and eat while waiting

May 28th is National Burger Day, so visit a burger joint you've never tried, go to your favorite, or just grill a great one since it is Memorial Day Weekend!

And if you want to find the right burger for you, check out New York Magazines' The Burger Register with 82 Notable Burgers... and "if you can't find it there you won't find it anywhere"... oh sorry, am I being a NY snob, didn't mean to be, just sounded good.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Toasted Marshmallow Shake!

I made this famous 'Marshmallow Shake' this week for my son's 14th birthday, and now I'm seriously hooked!   My mission (such a foodie) is to have the original at the Stand in NYC... along with their burger of course...
How does a  SHAKE alone do so much to stir the blogosphere for years now... well, once you experience the flavor of this chunky white concoction and the taste of barely-burnt sugar you'll know you've just had the greatest shake of your life!
I first heard about the shake in January from one of my favorite bloggers from LA, Cupcakes and Cashmere... Emily tried it during fashion week in NYC while visiting Stand's burger joint, and then she made it and photographed it,  posting Francis Lam's original recipe from Gourmet...

photos from Cupcakes and Cashmere

It's so easy to make, don't worry if you can't find the exact vanilla ice cream, just use a good vanilla... I made it with Hagen Daz's Vanilla Bean, and Greek yogurt...

With Summer like temperatures this weekend it's the perfect time to make it not just for the kids, but for the kid in all of us... and when I do go to the Stand in the very very near future I will tell you all about it...

So let me know how it turns out, because I'm sure if you make it on Saturday, you'll want another on Sunday, and another on Monday...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sheer Beauty!

You don't need a reason to feel naturally glamorous...
Once a makeup artist to celebrities like Tom Cruise, Wanda Sykes, and Emmy nominated for her work on Fox 5 News...  Marianne Morrison, a down-to-earth pro, will make you feel like a celebrity in her own Natural Style..... I experienced her talent last year when looking for a makeup artist for a special occasion of my own...
She's a master at airbrushing... and it feels light and natural

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting her beautiful NEW makeup boutique on Long Island... 'Natural Style Cosmetics', where she along with her own line of makeup products is also carrying the HOTTEST new line (carried at Henri Bendel NYC)... 'Lipstick Queen'... a rags to riches (and back again) story now in a book titled, "Lessons of a Lipstick Queen", by Poppy King...
Colors with pigment from 10% to 90%, Sheer to Opaque
Shine... 70's tacky long wearing glosses... oh and a gloss that will make your teeth look whiter

The concept of Lipstick Queen goes back to Medieval Times, when full coverage lipstick was considered a sin and instead women used lemons on their lips to achieve a tint of red look!
 'Red Sinner' worn by Scarlet Johansson... a gorgeous and creamy red... and Demi Moore wears 'Butterfly Ball Float'

Don't wait for that special occasion...  Marianne will make you feel like a Queen!
Stop in, or book an appointment...

... and her cute little pooch will make you feel welcome too!

Natural Style Cosmetics, 146 West Jericho Tpke, Huntington Station, NY

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Anniversary CRASH!

Okay, so it's 2:45 am and I'm awake, now this only happens to me about twice a year, maybe, if that... so your asking 'why can't she sleep'... good question smarty... well if you remember from my last post (yesterday) we had a family get-together ... the occasion was my parents' anniversary dinner last night in NYC.  
All of this over Paella... maybe that's what's keeping me up!

You know those stirrings, those emotional stirrings that occur when as adults, the family dynamic plays out just like it did in childhood... well that's what happened... that's why I'm up, wide awake, kicking myself in the pants for falling into the old traps... and I thought I was prepared and evolved... Rubbish!

I looked all together, I probably seemed to others all together... but then the trap was layed... and I fell right in... hook, line and sinker... I was a tongue-tied sucker, a 'nice guy' with too much garbage floating around in my head to think clearly.

Some advice I once received goes like this... most of the time one can revisit a situation and say to the person, "Hey you know how we were talking last night about...well I was thinking about it and...".

Now this weekend will be another chance for me with another family celebration... so 'go girl go!'... that's me giving me a pep talk.
... with some flowers that brighten my day!
Okay, I think I can sleep now... but hubby will have to get the kids up at 6:30 today!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Married for 60!

A very special dinner tonight at a restaurant in NYC is our destination... for what, in the middle of the week you might ask... well it's my mother's birthday today, but Thursday is my parents... drum roll!!!... 60th Wedding Anniversary... yes, I said 60th (and happily)... so my siblings and I are taking them out tonight (their request) at their favorite place, established in 1930...  so I guess they're contemporaries!
I had trouble finding a 60th Anniversary card... every card shop I went to carried cards up to the 50th anniversary only.  I don't think many people stay married that long anymore... or is it that they start later and never make it to sixty!

I found this one on Zazzle... too late

I even thought about just getting a 50th card, crossing it out and writing 60th (kinda cute), NOT... so I bought a beautiful card with writing I liked and I'll write something (aaaah, what?)... been thinking about it for days now... I'm sure it will come to me, soon I hope...

Love to hear if you know anyone who has been married that long...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Family Game Night

Anomia on Amazon

Last nights' game night fiasco...
My husband surprised us about a month ago by ordering a game online he had heard was 'Hot Stuff'!  'Hot Under the Collar' is more like it... every time we play this fast paced game where you have to face-off with another player by blurting (screaming in our case) out your answer before your opponent does... there's a dispute, an argument ensues, people take sides, and someone gets pissed off... is this FUN?!  Now when my sons played with their friends, they had a great old time... well we're doing something wrong... too competitive I suppose, and my younger son (12) always seems to win by a landslide.

Here's the other annoying thing that happens when we play... our dog, a 55 pound labradoodle, normally sweet and mellow, turns CRAZY ( from all the screaming I suppose) he gets over stimulated and starts jumping all over the couch, humping and nipping us to death... so even after we humans have made up, we stop arguing and resume play, we can't play anyway ( he did this when the kids played with their friends too).  Putting him outside is no better because he keeps scratching at the door to come in and he drives us crazy.

So, in theory I recommend this game, but we'll have to leave this for the kids and their friends or maybe for an adult game night... no one will care, especially if we pair it with a glass or two of wine (haha)!

If not, I'll have to pass it on to another unsuspecting family...  I think we'll stick to 'Rummy-O' for now.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Place For Kids

The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in NYC is a place I've recommended before to take the kids...  and showing now through October 24th is Dead or Alive, with the work of over 30 international artists who have transformed organic and in most cases living organisms into sculptures and installations.  With a name like 'Mad Cow Motorcycle', the kids will go crazy (good crazy)...

and this one called 'Landscape I'...

and this one 'Sound Suit'...

Spring and Fall are the best times to be in the city, to walk around and take it all in, and once you leave the exhibition, you'll look at everything around you (even the city's garbage) in a new way... 
Oh, and they have something called MAD Saturday - Family Day, from 11am to 2pm, no reservations,  space is limited... spend the day discovering art, meeting artists, and being creative!

Their restaurant Robert is now open for lunch and dinner too.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

It Suits Him

Next weekend we'll be going to a Bar Mitzvah and I had to buy a suit yesterday for my 14 year old who is going through a growth spurt... in fact the pediatrician says that both my boys (2 years apart) are going through spurts at the same time!  Now buying an expensive suit he'll probably wear only once is out of the question... so off to Macy's I went, I'd like to say that as a savvy shopper I knew they were having a big 2 day sale, but I didn't, and just happened to walk in on great savings... including the additional 15% off when you open a charge.  So I bought this dark gray spring suit, jacket $59.99 slacks $24.99...
I'll pair it with a crisp white shirt and this tie...

Nautica $14.98
I have to have the pants altered, so that is an additional expense, but I already have the white shirt from his winter band concert.  He looks great in the suit, with his slight tan from playing on the school tennis team.  Oh, by the way, my 12 year old son is wearing his brothers hand-me-down suit which just fits... phew, hold on growth spurt just for 2 weeks !
Don't forget... today is the last day of the Macy's sale... for this week anyway. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Day Including Penne, Peas, and Pancetta

6:20 Wake up
6:28 Grind the coffee beans
6:53 Drive kids to school for jazz band 
7:01 Arrive at school (band starts playing at 7 sharp, can't seem to shave those 3 minutes off)
7:17 Write blog (I start too late but can't get up at 5:30 to write)
9:22 After laundry start 40 minute power walk with 'cardio trainer' app and dog
10:50 Leave for a few hours of work at husbands office after making beds and cleaning up kitchen & more
1:45 Leave work to shop at italian market for pancetta for dinner
2:20 Arrive home, have snack, make snack for kids, wash sons baseball clothes
3:02 Grab kids right from the bus and make it to School of Rock for back to back music lessons
3:14 Drop off kids, run to Saks to return one item and buy two
5:11 Return home with kids to make dinner
6:05 ate without my husband
6:33 played tennis in our driveway with my older son and dog

THE THREE P's (penne, peas and pancetta)

Cut 3 thick slices of pancetta into cubes and cook until crisp
Remove with slotted spoon and drain
Rinse frozen baby peas in colander with cold water & let sit to defrost 
Saute chopped onion and garlic in tablespoon of fat from pancetta
Cook penne al dente (firm), drain and add all ingredients with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss
Wafting smell of pork is almost too much for my dog
Grate fresh Parmigano Reggiano
My kids love to grate the cheese, one likes it shaved...
... the other likes it grated fine

Here's the thing about eating meat and eating healthy... we eat mostly chicken and fish, but when we eat meat I serve a small amount with lots of veggies (like a mediterranean diet), trying to keep the fat content  as low as possible. 

7:00 off to a 7:45 baseball game on a less than spring night (winter coat and blanket in hand)
9:48 game ends
10:05 arrive home to husband and other son
10:15 sit down to watch 'The Good Wife' which started late (not sure why... I got lucky)
11:22 lights out