16 December 2008

A Return to the "Zen"....

I know I'm being extremely negligent in not getting back to my recipe promises. I've heard from people with Thanksgiving success stories (definitely listen to Bon Appetit and salt rather than brine the turkey, for example) and some not so successful endeavors (a dense corn pudding will not cook through when sharing the oven with sweet potatoes and stuffing, for another example). I think my brainstorm to include all holiday recipe recaps together after Christmas will work best. Again - I need some holiday shopping stories as well. Or - do you have an opinion on the current state of the economy and evidence for or against the glum predictions or hopeful news that prices are coming down (where? I see free shipping - I see sale items - in general, on the stuff I want, no price markdowns - still the same ... but that's my off the cuff two cents).....???

Anyway, I think, in the spirit of, yes, the holidays and the usual ensuing reflection that occurs, but also in the spirit of the chaos that reigns prevalent in households with ... well.... I was going to say kids, but.... any household - really at the holidays..... that I will provide a quick rant in favor of the simple life. Or - a simple thought process for once - something.... Here's what I mean.... I remember when I used to get up in the morning, dress all in black, choose carefully between my riding boots and my combat boots, put on the same hat, scarf, gloves and coat combo, and... head to class - or work - or out - whatever - everyday. My friends and I smoked cigarettes, drank coffee at crappy, cool little coffee shops - straight up or just milk and sugar (which is pretty bare bones now - given all the treats people pour into their coffee now) - we either went to class or we didn't - we either worked late or we didn't. I cut my hair when I wanted to - dyed it too - never an "appropriate" color - but I did it - stress-free (once it looked green - another time "like a penny" in the wise words of my roommate - but it was all good ... no worries). I don't do anything stress-free anymore. Even Facebook gives me pause. Am I following protocol? Do I look "normal" or even remotely successful next to "everybody else" (whoever that is, right?).

I guess I'm tired of sorting mail - filing investment papers - following up on school tuition. And... I'm tired of organizing clothing - what goes to Goodwill - what did the kids outgrow - what did they get for their birthdays that needs to go in their armoires. I'm also tired of deciding such mundane (and OMG - odd) things like which towels are worthy to keep - do I need to buy all new kitchen towels to look even remotely organized or - yikes - clean? We prune hedges, build retaining walls and mow the lawn, organize and prioritize Halloween treat baskets, Christmas decorations and even dishes and silverware - the "to do" list goes on.... Storage is an issue - accessibility another - and necessity is... well ..... out the window - true organization and utility gone. Where is the Zen in the house? I'm looking.... I'm working.... Maybe I'm just not good at it.

01 December 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm taking some time to work with my "design" a bit, and I'm, "researching" in order to post a forum on what Thanksgiving recipes worked for me - for others - what didn't, etc. (after all, we still have a lot of holiday parties, dinners, etc. coming up) - All this inspired, by the way, by our happy success with the new recipes we tried in our family this holiday..... Anyway - I'm going to be a bit "delayed" in posting anything of interest or lengthy but... wanted to say "happy holidays" to all. Post-season, I'm already thinking... it would be great to get some "what worked" - "what didn't" shopping reports (thus far - for me - electronics bargains great - Nordstrom doing a sale on Black Friday - unheard of! - and.... Whole Foods seems to have come down in price - ???? So... hopefully... everyone is thinking, shopping, etc. (particularly "thinking", etc. - given this shaky economy :(. Must go ... the babies are restless (another holiday phenomenon, eh?)....

20 November 2008

Wait - where did I hear that?

In the spirit of productive information sharing, I have a lot of little "tidbits" - strange bits of information that I've picked up from .... well - that's just it - sometimes I don't know, but I do know that it's TRUE. We've all been there..... offering medical "advice" that we're as sure as if we went to medical school is true - and, sure enough, it works - many a mother has diagnosed strep throat, ear infections or appropriately brushed off minor sports injuries because we just "know". We've all offered timely news - financial, political - whatever - and found that someone can second our thoughts and even carry on a conversation about the alleged "facts" - thereby proving that we each heard it "somewhere important". In fact, off the top of my head, I have a few of these "tidbits" rolling around in my brain, begging for me to share.... and.... because it's snowing and me and the little ones haven't left the house in days (or at least it feels that way), I have no one to share with but my blog.

I was reading an old Real Simple magazine the other day and discovered that you can dial 800.FREE.411 from your cell phone, and... save a bunch of $$$. I'm ALWAYS ordering take-out on the way home from basketball pick-up or gymnastics or somewhere - or - trying to find an unknown destination on the way to a birthday party..... I "411 a lot, and this info. helps me (lets' face it, there's a lot of useful info. in Real Simple).

Months ago, while I was still pregnant with my one year old, I was sitting in the doctor' office reading a parents mag of some kind and stumbled onto the following info. - (in a nutshell - I'm definitely not quoting here) - don't sweat it if you have a non-eater who will only ingest chips, sweet stuff like yogurt or, preferably, cookies and the dreaded "chicken nuggets" - instead - hit him/ her with vitamin-packed fish sticks instead. In this house, we now call them "long chicken" and feed them to my picky, vitamin-deprived two year old. After employing this technique for months, I was recently called upon to reveal my source for this reasoning and had to REALLY think - writing it down like this ensures that I would not need to do that again anytime soon - think, that is.

And - because I've used up my allotted "me time" today (I don't dictate that, obviously - my kids do), I'm going to close with a few follow-ups: First, I'm still down on Petit Tresor and would like to encourage people toying with the thought of using them for gifts, employing their services in any other way, etc. (especially as the holidays approach) to..... go straight to your source and cut them out entirely - shop Posh Tots, Burberry, Petit Bateau, Tiffany - straight at the source - unless you like being belittled, ignored or want a really good "bad customer service" story - if so, then, by all means, go to Petit Tresor. And... second.... I found a great gingerbread recipe for my kids to help with .... easy to do, no waiting time on dough... made easy to cut out, successful cookies (no disappointed kids - we were able to decorate cookie people that looked like people and had not spread all over the cookie sheet) - Google Annie's "Gingerbread Links" Page.... some overt religious messages on top, but..... definitely just a cookie and recipe links site.

For those of you who still, despite kids and, as a result, a slow social life, consider yourselves hip and "in the know", I'm saving some word of mouth holiday gift ideas for a holiday week post.... good ones... stay tuned....

11 November 2008

Taking "higher ground" today ...

I was just going to rant today (we all have those moments, days, weeks, months - right?) - well - instead - I'm going to provide a really useful tool to help with what I semi-"ranted" about a couple of days ago. Go to www.gowearfit.com and check out their new device that is - and here I have the eloquent words of someone close to the project in terms of marketing:

"a wearable health monitor that helps you measure the calories you burn WHILE living EVERYDAY life - from taking a walk to doing the dishes"

Awesome. But... Mac users (that's me - so I share your frustration) have to wait about a month in order for the site to be Mac compatible. It's in the works, so ... be patient.

And... because I'm in helpful mode today and happen to be looking for some kid-friendly gingerbread recipes..... I will be back with some recommendations on that - simply because I saw some really good sites, leads, recipes, etc. - and.... I think that is truly the beauty of the Internet - the ability to virtually do some social networking - or rant / blog to strangers and friends alike, etc. - and.... obtain TRULY helpful info. despite all the "clutter".

I am, admittedly, fried today. It's cold here, so... my boys are in sit and watch movie / or wrestle on couch mode - which means I am a short order cook for them (literally - before noon - I have done cereal, eggs, hot cocoa, milk, juice, cookies and peanut butter crackers - yesterday, I did a cheeseburger at 10 am - anyway...) - and - I have a baby who would rather climb the stairs and play with the blinds than play with her shape sorter or drink her bottle. At least my babies want to spend time with me ... right - which is more than I can say for the 12 year old :) - smiling now, but don't get me started......

09 November 2008


It occurs to me, with all that is going on in the world now and all of the sad stories I hear daily, that I am one of the luckiest people alive. I have great kids and the best husband - I live in a nice neighborhood, send my kids to a good school - we take vacations, have a lot of weekend fun at museums or movies or even roasting marshmallows outside in the backyard - just a fantastic life, in general. I need to focus on that more.

06 November 2008

Self-esteem "Workshop"

I haven't had any time to blog lately - haven't written necessary thank yous for recent birthdays - haven't showered most days - definitely have not organized vital "stuff" like photos that need to be downloaded, clothes that need to be taken to Good Will or Salvation Army, etc. - I eat lunch standing up lately, have my coffee go cold daily, wade through piles of toys and work around dirty breakfast dishes until well past lunchtime - Let's just say.... I'm busy.... and a bit frazzled. Baby is walking - preschool for four year old is in full swing - middle schooler's sports are picking up pace - two year old has decided he likes gymnastics class and wants to go again and again. On top of that, holiday shopping has to start, trick or treat just passed, school has only been in session a few months so the homework routine is still shaky - I have to face it; this season is busy.

This brings up an interesting point. And... I must say, on the front-end of this rant, that I am a lifetime food-watcher, nutritionally conscious, a seasoned exerciser and former dancer / athlete, and..... all that said.... who has time to eat right? diet off the baby weight? exercise AT ALL? even take a vigorous walk ( don't know about you, but we go at a toddler's pace around the neighborhood)? I'm a little tired of hearing personal trainers, parents of older children, doctors, etc. say...... you have to make time to exercise - you have to watch what you eat even if it means going out of your way to make that low fat salad (excuse me? Often, it is 4 pm and I realize I have gone foodless all day so I eat a cookie to avoid passing out). I mean I do ab work at midnight between teething baby wake-ups, I do arm work in the shower, I stretch each am while kids climb all over me - I do what I can.

I think we all need to be a little easier on ourselves. Focus on getting back to what makes us comfortable and healthy as opposed to the "perfect" image of your self - either through your eyes or another's. Having babies does change your body for a while, but you can get back to an active, happy you. Give yourself more credit for lifting the little ones all day (it really does work your arms) - eat a sweet now and then (eat the veggies, lean proteins, etc. to stay healthy and happy - the treats because you deserve it) - do your crunches, stretches and your weights for 10 min. or so - at least it's something and keeps you strong and flexible for running around with the kids. I mean -today, I may even pick up the pace a little when I walk the hood - then, allow myself a coffee drink - new yoga pants (can't wear my old jeans but I can look hot in my yoga pants :) - I may even ask my husband to rub my back (sometimes massages seem like a luxury, but.... a backrub is necessary for nursing and / or busy mothers - that post-pregnancy backache sucks, doesn't it? And... it lingers....).

Don't feel guilty. Use the slow cooker recipes (found some good ones in Real Simple recently), shop for new clothes if your old ones are tight, have fun with the kids and count what you do as exercise. Life is too short to worry about such silliness.

21 October 2008

Some ideas... finally

So here's something cool from someone else (really like word of mouth recommendations) - sort of a DIY craft and networking site (for lack of some much better descriptors). Holiday season coming up, so.... go check it out yourself -

And - aside from all the wasteful paper issues (don't get me started - I do resent having to recycle PILES of paper each week), I do like discovering new catalogs (new to me anyway). I'm currently perusing Serena and Lily for bed linens beyond my baby girl nursery. They have some sweet, beautiful (unusual color combos, which I like), simple linens - perfect for little girls and boys. They also help coordinate paint colors and design elements with the linens, which is nice......

Happy with all of my recent purchases from.... well..... this week, I would have to say it's Chasing Fireflies (catalog and web site - Google it for correct url - it is very close to a "strange" one). I just got some fab fairy wings for my one year old's first birthday (it was a costume party :) - plus I've been happy with all of my recent clothing purchases - PLUS, they did a personalized birthday crown in way under the allotted time with no extra charge! Cute stuff there - some expensive, some kitschy, some really fun - definitely stuff you don't see - A. In usually one place, and B. In most retail stores.....

My old stand-by this week would have to be Olive Juice - clothing site / catalog for kids. Great customer service - great retro clothing for kids - quality, cute - can't say enough good stuff about them. Recently, a sale item I ordered was temporarily out of stock. Once back in stock, they emailed me to ask if I wanted the other color -then sent it, charged the card I had given them (with permission but without bugging me) and gave me the sale price. Quite different from the absolutely horrible experience I had with the very high end baby / kids boutique, Petit Tresor, in LA. I even dealt with one of the owners (if you do visit their site, she's the bigger one sporting the "up-do" hairstyle that my grandmother would have worn - though it does work with the tent-like dress she's wearing in the photo - just lovely :). Anyway, I'll save the story for next time, but I will say this now - if you're that high end - your customer service should be impeccable at all levels. Maybe she was distracted by the cease and desist order that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes slapped her with around the same time..... Anyway...... more on that later ;).

I think I'll close with, first, my less than stellar parenting tip of the day: Crying baby who won't nap? And... energetic preschool boys who won't calm down to let her nap? Don't be afraid to use Noggin (they really do learn from the shows - my two year old now counts and knows colors after watching - and I got nothing from him in that respect when I tried to teach him myself by reading and coloring, etc. Not saying to stop such interaction with your kids - just saying don't feel bad about Noggin - or PBS Sprout - or a nice movie now and then). And.... a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies is a good bribe... and... despite being less than nutritiously sound..... does create a nice ambiance, happy preschoolers and a nice childhood memory.

See ya -

14 October 2008


So I started this thing with the best intentions and... have not had the time to add anything. Really - I have great ideas and great recommendations but have lately been, for lack of a much better word, preoccupied.

Normally, I would be fretting that I did manage to dress today, but.... ended up in a pair of yoga pants, my 12 year old's "so last year" school shoes from... well... literally, last year (hey - they're still in style enough for the front yard, right?), a Death Cab for Cutie t-shirt and my in bad need of a haircut (or something) hair pulled up with a nifty beaded ponytail holder. See - I would normally start with the "necessities inventory" (I'm going to need milk - organic whole for the baby - LOTS of 2% for the growing boys and my 12 year old hot chocolate-lover and... we're down to egg salad for lunch again, so... will need kid-friendly chicken nuggets - maybe some mac and cheese - me and baby still only veggie-eaters in house, so... noted that produce supply way down, etc. etc.) - then I would freak out (OMG - can't leave the house looking like this - where's my lipstick - Chanel - and it still does nothing to improve the look) - but today...... I'm, like I said, preoccupied.

My baby is going to be a year old in a few weeks. We're doing the party early - this weekend - lots of sparkly, girlie, fab cupcakes - easy "autumn lunch" menu - kids invited to wear costumes (birthday girl will be a fairy) - should be fun. Normally, I would be all over that with worry, though (what plates should I serve with - the invitation was really cool but did I get it out on time - ????). I would also be fretting and mourning certain "1st year allowances" on my end - like it's no longer OK to wear nursing pads everyday under my jogging bra (I get a little weepy when there's no more nursing babies)- it's no longer OK to still be a little chubby (um....)- the bedtime routine used to include a bath, infant lavender lotion, a heated bottle or plans to nurse - dinner used to be the pureed squash I made earlier with some steamed chicken - ALL of this noted in her baby book - the routine so comfortable.... But... I'm OK letting a lot of this go today. Odd for me.

I have been absent lately - from this blog - from my own social world - from my kids' day to day. My mind has been elsewhere. I've lost a lot of wonderful people lately. In fact, the past two years have been rough in that respect - and the past few months have been just awful for this little group of my cherished college friends with whom I often talk, visit - whatever. We're all hurting - some of us more than others - trying make sense of cancer, trying to say good-bye to people who leave this world suddenly and too young - and trying to understand why so many people, some close to us, are so mean, bully-ish or so willing to exclude others. The latter is no way to live. So - yes, the past few weeks have been hard, but I am making a conscious effort to live a little better - a little more graciously - all out of respect for those who are now gone - but.... I am also going to be harder on those people, still here, who choose to make my life or my kids' lives more difficult. For those people, I have NO time.

OK - so back on track. I have all sorts to share when it comes to house painters, preschool, looking for dinosaur masks online (you would think there would be a lot, wouldn't you?), party planning, forwarding my 12 year old daughter the Juicy Couture, Athleta, Nordstrom, etc. sale emails while I only have time to peruse recipe sites - oh - the list goes on.

25 September 2008

Behind the Scenes

Ok - so I listened to my 3 (soon to be 4) year old and 2 year old talk about gorillas, green dragons, red dragons and elephants - made my baby laugh - got everyone breakfast - got everyone dressed - packed my middle schooler's lunch and got her off to school - coordinated a birthday party invitation - noted soccer and cross country practice changes - did some banking - made some appointments at the pediatrician's office - cleaned the TV room - made the beds - cleaned the kitchen - did some laundry - cleaned the boys' room - organized some photos on the computer - gave the baby a snack - got the baby down for a nap ..... more - all before 11 am, but.... I missed a luncheon for moms (just couldn't get my potluck contribution together while facing a few hours wrangling 3 kids 3 & under) - did not get myself fed or dressed (OK - I managed some coffee) - and definitely did not even approach the piles of photos, dress up costumes and games littering the floor of the baby's nursery. They've been sitting there for weeks.

You see - what I do - like all stay-at-home moms is behind the scenes work. A far cry from the theater, dance and fashion show work I did in past professional lives, but... just as - if not more - valuable. It gets hard sometimes, though - this operating in a vacuum (I think we've all experienced that feeling that hours have gone by and we haven't spoken to or seen another adult or ventured into the outside world at all except for an occasional email or solitary walk down the street with little ones in tow before lunch). Of course, as parents, we all feel so lucky to have our babies - our grade schoolers. We are grateful for our spouses and the work he or she does to make our at-home world possible, but... it does get hard - particularly because the "work" we do is often invisible (the milk mysteriously puts itself away - the magic elves make the beds, right?).

Anyway, I think a forum for trading ideas on vital issues for parents like vaccinations, illnesses to watch for, how to evaluate schools, organic stuff - to buy or not to buy, etc. is important, and.... a forum for chatting about frivolous things like fashion (both for hip moms and cute kids), fun "baby-industry" trends, the new "become a chef" (or at least a great home cook) trend, exercise (what's boring - what works, etc.) is highly relevant and necessary (for sanity, and to keep that "stay at home mom accreditation" :) current).

So - this is my forum. I hope people will see fit to read, share, comment - whatever.