Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

(Post by Evan)

Once again Christmas day is upon us. Weeks of the holiday spirit reached their culmination today. Bright-eyed children (OK, one or two of them weren't quite awake yet) couldn't contain their excitement as the doorbell rang at 8 AM jarring them from their long winter's nap. With their families far away, Arturo Morales and Melissa Bench were at the door and joined us for our family's celebration. I think we've managed to have visitors every year here in New Rochelle since we moved here.

Gleeful smiles were present as the much hoped for gifts were discovered. Who knew something called a DS, or a Speed Racer Hot Wheels "loop-da-loop" could bring so much pleasure? This really was one of the first years when I've felt this excited about Christmas. Seeing through the eyes of your children adds a whole new dimension. And as much as it was about the gifts, it was also about happiness and love. Holding my children in my lap as they helped me unwrap the simple gifts they had for me was a moving and heartwarming experience.

And what would Christmas be without Santa's elf-in-residence, my wife Liz? Not very good. In traditional style she directed the preparation of the Christmas morning feast of "Aunt Dorothy's Sausage Bake," butterscotch pull-apart bread, and orange julius. (Luckily on holidays things like sausage, cheese, butter, etc., have no calories associated with them.) She also came through with flying colors in obtaining all the difficult to find items at the last minute. (You rock, honey!) Even though we didn't go all out with decorations this year, her artful hand added enough holiday cheer to our home.

I know the kids think Christmas is the best holiday of the year. It's easy to see why. I hope that they will learn to see past the tinsel and wrapping paper and want to reach out to others, as did the person who started it all.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Eve Tradition

(Post by Evan)

I noticed our blog had gone a little "cold" so I thought I would take a moment to help bring it up to date.
Somewhere around 8 or 9 years ago, some friends of ours invited us to a Christmas Eve service on Manhattan's East Side. The venue was a beautiful Episcopalian church called The Church of the Heavenly Rest. Every Christmas Eve, they perform a re-enactment of the Nativity. It's done by the children in the congregation and is quite charming. They make use of costumes, choirs, music, and live animals! Mary always rides in a donkey, and many of the shepherds carry lambs. If you find yourself in Manhattan on Christmas Eve, this is a great place to get into the Christmas spirit.

What's interesting is that for Espicopal church, it has somehow managed to attract a fairly large Mormon contingent as well. This year we ran into several families we knew from our city-dwelling days and had some happy reunions with some we hadn't seen in a long time. We also invited some of our local neighbors who managed to make it down. As long as we're in the area, I think we'll be there on December 24th.

Supplemental to our tradition, we were invited by the Taylor family to spend a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner with them and their extended family and friends. On top of the fabulous dinner that had some of those great "family" recipes represented (I actually forgot that I liked Jell-O salads so much),  we had  Christmas talent show and singalong. Almost everyone contributed to the musical portion. After that was over, The kids all participated in their own nativity display. It was a magical day and night. (Even if Santas elves were forced to work into the wee hours to get ready for his visit.)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Soccer Mom no More (for a day, at least!)

It's so much fun to dress up and when you have a grand occasion, it's even better!  We went to a formal Christmas Ball last week and had a fabulous time both getting ready and at the event!  Evan was hot in his tux and I felt great with new hair, makeup and borrowed Bulgari jewels, oh, and a new dress, of course!  It took a lot of preparation to get this soccer mom fit for a Ball, but the results were certainly favorable!  Thanks everyone who took a part in getting me ready! xoxo

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Radio City: The Spirit of Christmas

There is no better way to get into the spirit of Christmas than a trip to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular!  It was a fun train ride in to the City with new Christmas clothes and lots of anticipation of a fun night!  We walked up Fifth Avenue from Grand Central and immediately felt the Christmas cheer on the streets!  I love the Christmas windows and Saks is always especially festive with their glowing snowflakes that adorn the entire facade.  

Then a trip through Rockefeller center is enough to put any Scrooge in the gleeful spirit.  The white angels that line the walk were all aglow and the massive annual tree was not yet lit, yet it's presence was enough to put you in awe.  I love the story of where the tree came from this year when I heard it on the radio last week.

Radio City is such a gorgeous building and the Swarovski chandelier provided a warm welcome in the lobby!  

The kids were giddy with excitement as we approached our seats.  

Wesley's got his ticket, he's ready!

They loved all of it.  My favorite was the Rockettes as the toy soldiers and of course their chorus line kicks.  Their precision is impressive!  While the show is altered a little each year to keep the interest up, I always look forward to the living Nativity that concludes the show each year.  It's an inspiring spectacle that reaffirms my faith in the Christmas story.  Thanks for keeping Christ in Christmas, Radio City!

***note:  there is no Luke on this trip.  He did not meet the age requirement for a stress-free trip ;-)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving: Central Park WEST style!

Is there any better way than to spend Thanksgiving watching the parade above the balloons with dear family and friends?!  Ok, maybe with MORE of our dear family and friends, but we have had the ulitmate in NY Thanksgivings for the past 4 years watching the Macys Thanksgiving Day parade from our friends' balconies.  

Camera out the window shot!

Central Park West-2008

The parade is a wonderfully spectacular event full of color, excitement and grandeur.  For those who have never witnessed it in person, a trip to NYC at Thanksgiving-time is a MUST at least once in a lifetime!

We trekked in the night before and had a blast trapsing around our old haunts.  It was so great to eat at Ollie's.  I LOVE the Sesame Chicken and Moo Shu Pork.  The kids think their egg drop soup is the best around!  Oh, how I've missed our house account at Ollie's and their fast, efficient delivery!

Then we joined the throngs of people getting a sneak peek of the blowing up of the balloons the night before.  I remember going a decade ago when it was really a non-event!  You just went and walked around and were amazed at the size of the balloons up close and talked to the balloon handlers.  Now, there are mazes to get through to even watch!  There were even printed indication signs and police barricades galore so it's turned into a full event in and of itself!

A trip to Pinkberry was not missed despite the near freezing temp and Pinkberry was once again adored by the kids!  They have grown to love the tart frozen yogurt creation as much as I do!  Luke entertained the customers while dancing to the tunes playing. Sophia had a gleeful smile as she finished the last bite and Wesley licked the cup clean!  Bliss.

Then back over to the Eastside to stay at our friend's pad!  It was actually soothing to sleep to the sounds of the city that night. (garbage trucks, street noise and the whooshing sound of the buildings--what is that sound?)  What a great night's sleep!

We had a wonderful day of parade watching, great food, even better friends and just plain Thanksgiving tradition!  The balloons were larger than life as usual and the colors parading down Central Park West were so vivid and striking!  There was a pink and orange dance team that was so eye-catching with their swishing pom poms!  The kids loved seeing the Bolt balloon and Santa bringing up the rear, of course!

Bow Bridge, Central Park

The Park was spectacular at mid-day!  The weather was nearly perfect and the mood was cheerful!  We went to our favorite spots by the lake and the Bow Bridge and then made our way over to the Bethesda Fountain area where the same entertaining Afrobats were starting their annual show.  They chose Wesley to be their token cute kid to earn them even more money and gave him his street name, "White Chocolate" and afterward they shared a little of the profits with him.  He was thrilled!  The did a stunt and jumped over him.  It was so cute and one that Wesley will remember for a long time!

Afro-bats @ Bethesda Fountain with "boy with stick" aka White Chocolate--LOL

White Chocolate returns with $1.25--woo hoo!

Dinner was outrageously fabulous prepared by Varan, an Israeli chef.  He went over the top with so much this year.  There were 5 different toppings and spreads for the cast iron baked corn bread, and sausage galore stuffing, extremely moist turkey and wonderful fixings.  Wow!  I was so full that I actually had to pass up pie this year!  

Diane & Chef Varan

Wesley led a "what are you thankful for" discussion and he reminded us that his two favorite holidays are what hit the top of his list: Halloween and Thanksgiving!  Sophia was thankful for the earth and Evan for family.  Me, I'm thankful that we've had this great family tradition of spending Thankgiving in a warm and gracious home these past four years and the good friends that have been such wonderful hosts!  These traditions are part of the tapestry of our life!

It's been a crazy year of ups and downs and health and sickness for all at the Thanksgiving table, but what I went away with this year is... wow, we are all blessed with so much, what are we going to do with those blessings to shape our lives and impart to others? What great lessons we have learned this year and what even greater lessons do we have to look forward to next year!

Let us all be thankful.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When Two Worlds Collide

(Post by Evan)

Regular readers of this blog recognize Liz’s passion for keeping alive the graces that accompany the art of entertaining in the home through her Gourmet Club posts. I am the lucky beneficiary of her efforts, having been educated in many of the ways of social etiquette, and also being able to eat some truly fantastic food. While I truly enjoy high-end cuisine, I spend a lot of time preparing more traditional cuisine (grilled cheese, anyone?) for our family. Last night these two related, but distinct areas had a humorous intersection.

You just have scroll down a little to read about Liz’s “SPICE Dinner” event, and my “Holy Smokes!” debacle. Go ahead, refresh your memories. I’ll wait…OK, let me set the stage now. Wesley was having a good day. He had just returned from his Judo class and wanted tacos for dinner. We had just had our taco salad a few days ago, so it didn’t really sound good to me. He was insistent, and I didn’t have anything else to counter with, so tacos it was.

The prep was simple. The onion was stronger than normal and made me cry as I chopped it. This time I double- and triple-checked that I had the chili powder and not the cayenne when seasoning the ground beef mixture. Liz and the kids prepped everything else. As we were getting ready to deploy everything to the dining room, my eyes seemed to be still teary, and Liz and the kids started to cough as if something were in the air. I felt the urge to cough as well, and couldn’t figure out where the irritant was coming from. Unwilling to believe that I had repeated my cayenne pepper disaster, I tasted the seasoned beef mixture and couldn’t believe it when my mouth ignited with flame. I quickly picked up the bottle of chili powder that was still sitting on the countertop just stared at it in disbelief. I sprinkled a little onto my finger and put it on my tongue. Yep! Cayenne. And the truth was beginning to come into focus.

After the glorious display of spices as part of the Spice dinner, it would have been a waste to just throw them out. In fact, it would make absolute sense just to return them to their original containers so they could be reused later. However that only makes sense if you actually succeed in returning the spices to their original containers. A close examination of the chili powder container revealed a telltale demarcation between the brighter red cayenne pepper, and the browner chili powder. (This finally explains why my second attempt to make the taco salad meat last week was still mouth-burning.)

Needless to say, the “chili powder” has now been removed from circulation and will be replaced at the next possible opportunity. As for the tacos? They actually became burritos when, unwilling to redo the meat, we reached for can of refried beans and heated it in the microwave. Wesley didn’t notice and Liz and I had a good laugh.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Amy, Lauren, Mary, Kirstin, Martha, me, Mayumi, Lisa & Rachel

Here is the picture from our junket to the Martha Stewart Show.  We were lucky enough to get to have her photographer snap a few photos of our Gourmet Club group with her as the centerpiece when we went to her show in September.  It was quite a surreal experience being in her studio with all of the hoopla and the picture to me looks like she is a cardboard cutout because she is so well put together and flawlessly made up.  She was lovely.  I on the other hand could use a new stylist!   LOL

Thanks, Martha!

***note, I thought it was quite interesting that the photographer grouped us according to hair color.  I don't think it was an accident.  Martha loves order!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

SPICE Dinner

For my gourmet club this year, my partner and I came up with the theme SPICE showcasing Moroccan food.  It was quite an ambitious undertaking since I didn't know much about Morocco nor have any of the items to complement the dinner like serving pieces, ingredients and decorations.  I wanted to be challenged so I plugged along with researching and practicing recipes and ideas with Mayumi.  We even went to the local Moroccan restaurant Zitoune in Mamaroneck and talked at length with Alain, the owner. Then we came up with a menu that was beautiful and delicious! My rad friend Diane had visited Morocco last year so I picked her brain all about the Souk with it's sights and sounds. My friend, Nicole who is a TV gourmet maven in Westport, CT told me about Moroccan preserved lemons that take 4 weeks to cure.  I knew it was a must to make these for our take home gifts.  I washed, sliced open and stuffed with kosher salt over 130 lemons and then watched them brine in 3 large jars on my counter for an entire month. They are a great flavor for chicken or stews.  And so pretty!

 The night was a cold and rainy night, but we still put out paper lanterns that lined the walk and invited our guests in with Moroccan music playing.  We set up my sideboard in my dining room with all sorts of fruits, spices and herbs like you would find in a Souk in Morocco.  The aromas of the spices were so intense and inviting.  My favorite part of the dinner was the Persian Love Cake with flavors of cardamom, lemon zest, rose water and saffron!  It was such an unusual array of flavors that worked so well together.  I also loved the couscous with the carmelized onions, raisins and pinenuts and the bisteeya was unusual and delicious too.  

Go here for the recipes and more photos!  If anyone wants to have a Moroccan night, I'm an expert now.

It was so great to get together with my girlfriends who share a passion for good food and cooking!  Can't wait for next month and the next and so on and so on!

And a shout out to Evan who was an absolute superstar throughout it all!  He was so great with helping with ideas, practicing, getting ready and of course keeping the kids at bay!  I love you, Evan!

Be jealous, be very jealous...

The Smith family lives in Business Week's Best Places to Raise Your Kids Winner:

See it here.  You should all move here to New Rochelle with us.  According to Business Week it is bliss.  New Rochelle must have a great publicist!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Holy Smokes!

(Post by Evan)

When you have a skill that you're adept at, it's quite possible that while executing said skill, that the entire cerebral cortex may not be completely engaged. Do you really think about how much force to turn the steering wheel with when changing lanes? For the musicians reading this, do you actually remember which notes make up a C-major chord when playing it ? I don't. One of the things that I like to think I'm good at is cooking. Besides having attended culinary school and owned a restaurant, it's something that I just do. While I do use recipes for new dishes or for baking where precision counts , I generally manage to get by just using the gray matter for more routine cooking tasks. Unfortunately for me and my family, tonight was one of those night's where the old synapses failed me.

I was the first one home tonight and looked through the freezer for what me might have on hand. The ground beef caught my eye as did the cilantro sitting on the countertop in a vase of water. Something Mexican-flavored started to materialize in my head. Liz arrived just minutes later and with her input, we opted for one of our favorite family standbys: taco salad. Within minutes, I had thrown together the hot part (ground beef, onions, garlic, kidney beans and seasonings). Liz had done all the prep for the cold parts (lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, avocadoes, sour cream and tortilla chips). The table was set and I was just about to bring the hot part to the table when I checked to see if it needed any salt. That was when it became obvious that something had gone horribly wrong.

I blew on the spoonful of the meat mixture to prevent scorching my lips or tongue, but as I placed the spoon into my mouth, I took in a breath. I immediately started to cough and not wanting to spew the contents of my mouth all over the place, closed my mouth and tried to gently cough through my nose, all while still chewing. The coughing soon gave way to burning in my mouth and I was completely baffled. What the heck was going on?! I just happened to glance up the still open kitchen cabinet and found my answer.

Most chili powder is a blend of sweet and usually mild chiles with cumin, garlic, oregano and sometimes onion powder. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would put it at a 2 or 3 depending on the brand. You would generally add 1 to 3 tablespoons per quart. Cayenne pepper on the other hand is a pure powdered cayenne chile and rates more like a 6 or 7. I hadn't planned on making this dish hot at all, especially since I had 3 small kids eating it. After adding a couple of tablespoons of cayenne, this batch of taco salad meat was pretty much for "experts only."

I ended up starting over. Even though I added no chili powder to it, there seemed to be sufficient residual in the pan to give it a substantial kick. It was edible, but all our our mouths were tingling throughout dinner. We finished off the meal with ice cold milk, and a spoonful of sour cream to cool it down. In spite of the "fireworks," the meal was still thoroughly satisfying.

This blunder reminded me of other failures in the past by me and by others. I still remember the morning as a child when my mother sprinkled the french toast she made us with corn starch instead of powdered sugar. (Both powders were stored loose in Tupperware containers.) She was furious at first when we wouldn't eat it and read us the riot act for complaining. She quickly forgave us when we insisted it was yucky and she actually tasted it.

I'm sure all cooks can contribute other kitchen blunders. Let's hear about them in the comments!

P.S. I froze the super-spicy meat mixture. If you're a chili-head come on over, and we'll resurrect it into something tasty.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fear Factor

(Post by Evan)

What is it about fear and pain that invokes our pleasure receptors? I'm sure there's a good treatise on the whole S & M thing surrounding that question, but on a simpler level, I stopped to think why on earth do any of us ever do scary things for enjoyment?

A few weeks ago we had one of the biggest adrenaline rushes that we've experienced in a real long time. There was a corporate sponsored outing at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ where we took the family for a very fun-filled day. For an October Saturday the park was pretty crowded, but the kiddie rides were fairly accessible which made Sophia, Wesley, and even Luke happy when they got to ride. Liz invited some friends of ours to accompany us. They were great companions to us and the kids. They stepped up and told me and Liz that we really needed to try one of the newer rides there, a wooden roller coaster named El Toro.

Now let me start off by saying that I love roller coasters. Always have. Wooden roller coasters are generally a different type of thrill than the new steel coasters where you do all the inverted, spiral, dangling, things which surely offer lots of thrills. With wood, I generally expect a traditional car with a lap bar combined with a bit of a rickety ride and lots of jerking turns plus a good downhill to get it all started. This coaster, for those who haven't ridden it, is, um, not traditional in that sense.

I should have known something was up when the car ahead of us kicked a guy off for whom they couldn't get the lap bar down. He was man of proportions just slightly larger than mine. I didn't think about it until they came to our car which was lit up with warning light and had two attendants try to jam the lap bar down on me. They crunched it down on me significantly and got the green light to launch finally.

Once the car left the starting gate, I knew for sure now that things were going to be different. The old-fashioned chain that agonizingly carries you to the top was nowhere to be found. Instead a high-speed drive was employed to whisk us with alacrity to the peak. We weren't in the front, but once we got a glimpse of the downhill, sheer panic and terror set in!

Like I said before I generally love roller coasters and always give up a good scream, but this one evoked an entirely new set of feelings in me. Instead of a plain scream, I think, but am not sure, that some words issued from mouth that would be typically notated in print (in family publications like this one) with the shifted number keys, if you get my drift. They weren't uttered silently either. After the initial shock of the first hill, we sped uphill where I experienced the first of several negative G's and felt my butt leave the seat. I couldn't be shut up at this point. I babbled/yelled/shouted incessantly for the rest of the ride. All I could think about was that lap bar cranked down in my lap wishing they had forced it down on me even more! Forget putting your arms up in the air--I think most people had a death grip on the handle bar.

Liz was sort of crying and whimpering and shouting during the ride. Normally I would have tried to be there for her and hold onto her and offer words of support, etc. But this was different. While cognizant of her beside me, I could only think of myself. (Sorry about that, baby.) Part of me was so hoping that the ride was over, but much to the credit of the designers, they filled it full of surprises, such as two false endings! Bravo, Intamin!

I'm usually not the kind that buys the expensive photos that you can view of yourself as you exit the ride. But this time, I made an exception. I knew I had experienced a whole new level when getting out of the car. For one, I had no voice left. I had shouted myself hoarse. Liz was dabbing the tears out of her eyes, but we both felt completely exhilariated! The look in our faces says it all, I think. (Click on photo for a closer view.)

Would I do this one again? In a heartbeat.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Happy Halloween!

(Note: Blog Post by Evan)

I have to admit, this has been the most fun Halloween I've had in a long time. I think since the kids are getting older and, hence, more into Halloween, that it's rubbed off. This is the first year that I've dressed up for real in a long time. I've paid lip service to this great fall event a couple of times before, using whatever I had on hand for a lame costume, but this year I was actually motivated to go for it. Part of the credit goes to Liz, who helped orchestrate a party earlier in the month where the game Rock Band was the centerpiece and we were all supposed to dress up as our favorite rocker. Unfortunately, I didn't think I could pull off a convincing Geddy Lee, so I channeled my inner KISS and came up with a hybrid version.

The kids this year really tickled me with their costume choices. Sophia wanted to be a dalmatian, and with a little of daddy's grease paint, pulled it off. Wesley was very moved earlier this year by the movie version of Speed Racer (daddy--not so moved) and has talked about little else since then. I thought he came up with a pretty convincing interpretation! Luke took his "Little Stinker" persona literally this year. He was the hit of the neighborhood. I wish you could have seen his tail move as he toddled down the sidewalks.

Decorating took a larger role this time around too. Liz scored some nice corn stalks and nice sized pumpkins. We had a lot fun carving the pumpkins this year. Again, since the kids were into it, it made it a lot of fun to help them realize their chosen designs. Who knew that scooping the pumpkin guts could be so fun?

For added fun this year, we constructed a swooping ghost in front of our house this year. After Liz spent the better part of the day chasing down 80-lb test monofilament fishing line, we strung a line from our bedroom down the walkway. As anxious trick-or-treaters approached, someone would lower the ghost down which would catch the floodlights and make its presence known. Many thought it was fantastic. Others were downright freaked out.

I also pressed Sophia's karaoke machine into service this year. After locating some spooky sound effects on the web, I burned a disc and played it through the rig with the speakers placed on the porch. With the added microphone, I had a pretty good time talking to our guests as they approached. I chose an affected British accent with overtones of Vincent Price. Unfortunately, I went a little overboard for the first group of kids. It was too freaky for the kids dressed as Thing 1 and Thing 2 from "The Cat In The Hat" to hear them being "called out" from a darkened porch. They ran off with a little shriek before collecting their candy. Toning it down led to some funny comments. "Where is that man?" "How does he know what we're dressed as?" "Is that a recording?" "Mommy, I don't like his voice." I also sent a 2-year old into tears as I opened the door in my garish makeup. (Note to parents: Although princess and fireman costumes are cute and fluffy, you have to tell your kids that Halloween has a scary side too. They need to have a heads-up for the possibility of meeting a goblin or ghoul.)

We're already planning next year's decorations. Come by to see our witch on a broomstick flying across the yard. Maybe some fog and strobe lights too. And hopefully we'll get some more foot traffic as well since it won't fall on the Jewish sabbath next time too.

A final caution: don't eat too many Halloween goodies, or this could happen to you:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Out of the CLOSET...

...I've had the urge to go through, clean out, organize lately. Yesterday, I went through 5 boxes of "remnants from the past" and had an interesting walk down memory lane.  For instance, I found the brochure of the house we currently own and noticed for the first time, that the grass on the pamphlet is unnaturally green and fuzzy, lots of other things were embellished too, I'm sure, but the grass was totally photoshopped in!!!  We were duped!  Then, I came across a bunch of old Christmas cards and had the thought to chuck them, but reading through them brought much joy as I perused the pictures and brief updates from years' past, so I tossed them back in a box to return to the attic.  In a random stack of old mortgage docs from 3 purchases ago, I found a picture of me and "Chip" at a high school dance.  I don't recall much at all about the dance or anything else surrounding it except for shopping with Chip beforehand to coordinate our kicka$$ outfits, but seeing the picture brought a smile to my face--especially the pink theme and thermals with boxers!!!  So "totally rad" 80s.  I don't remember much about Chip either.  Where is he now?  Does he still sport pink sweats and socks?  I hope not.  And what the heck was "TOLO?"  It was written on the back along with the date "2-12-88."  And the funniest thing was I think my hair was very similar to #14!!!  (<-----referring to

While it feels good to let things go like old receipts for gas, antiquated computer parts (and there were tons of that crap!), out of date clothes and other bric a brac, it feels good to keep and hold on to things too.  I don't think I would remember much about my past if I didn't have the paraphernalia to jog my memory.  I just need to figure out a better way to keep it, but who has the time?  I seem to only have time to discard things or throw them back in the box until the next urge to expunge things comes about.  It really is much quicker than finding a solution for it, you know! 

Back IN the CLOSET goes some of the meaningful knickknacks, but the rest will be carted off by NRSD Thursday.  Good bye stuff that's clogging my attic!  Feels so good to say goodbye.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's FALL!

Leaves are falling, there's a crisp in the air, clothes are layering, apples abound, pumpkins are everywhere, scarecrows too, the kids are obsessing about their every changing costume ideas, grass is browning, impatiens are dying, campaigns are heating up, I am baking, tan is fading, lots of planning, lots of weatherproofing, spiders are entering, i am leaf wreath-making, FALL IS HERE!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wanted: New Tooth Fairy

For the third or fourth tooth, Sophia's tooth fairy has completely snubbed her.  The anticipation of waking up to something clanking under her pillow has been far too disappointing lately!  Nothing, but a leftover tooth in her little box.  Does anyone know where we could procure a responsible tooth fairy that is consistent and thoughtful?  Is it so much to ask for to drop by for at most a minute and slip a little something under the pillow for a little girl who is waiting for some tooth fairy affection?  My only thought is that our tooth fairy must have a family of her own and after getting her own kids safely tucked into bed and the dinner dishes cleared and washed and everything shut down for the night, maybe she takes a side trip to the couch to watch her latest DV-R recordings for "just a few minutes" before she winds down to take off on her tooth fairy flight.  Then suddenly finds herself drifting off to slumber without remembering her duties.  Yeah, I could see that happening for sure.  

But, if anyone knows of a more reliable tooth fairy needing a gig, let me know. I can't take the disappointment in a certain 7 year old's eyes even one more time!

Tooth #8 bites the dust!  Our jack 'o lantern this year is going to be identical.  ;-)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Yeah, but I remembered the other 78 things...

I know it's cliche' to say that as a mother I have to remember so many things, but really, if I had to write down all the things I do have to remember to keep it together on a daily basis, that is all I would be doing, because the processes are tedious to running a family!  But over the summer, when we would get in the car and be on our way to the beach and Wesley would say, "Mo'om, why didn't you bring my so & so toy?"  I'd reply, "I don't know, why didn't you?" And then he would get infuriated and usually launch into a whole full blown tantrum.  I would reply, "I remembered the 4 towels, the sunscreen, the plethora of snacks (even the craisins that I know you love so much), the dry clothes, the chairs, the car keys, the sunglasses, the water toys, my cell phone, the drinks, the stroller, the diapers, the lunch, etc, etc... and so on, doesn't all that count?  Do you have to dwell on the ONE thing I forgot that I knew you wanted, but could live without?  If we were counting points, I would still get a 95% and that is well over passing grade.

Well, certainly there is more value in some things than others if we were giving scores and points for items we need when we go out because this weekend, we headed down to Six Flags with the kids for a fun company sponsored day and I forgot something KEY!  Let me just preface it with the fact that we decided to avoid the crowds and get to the Safari part of the park 15 minutes before they open at 9, so that meant we had to leave at 6:45AM since we had a pick up to make in Manhattan along the way.  That said, my cherubic kids did do a great job of getting themselves ready including dressing and brushing their teeth.  On the other hand, Luke isn't old enough to do such things yet and he wasn't even awake, so we just scooped him up in his drowsy state of still being jammied and buckled him into the carseat so he could still sleep if he wanted to.  I grabbed his clothes along with the packed bag of 27 other things in prep for the day and off we went!  We made great time and had a nice drive on the Turnpike and then pulled into the lineup for the Safari--we were in a top position!  It was exciting until I realized, We don't have any shoes for Luke!!!!  Oops!  Then, that's all I could think about as we sat in anticipation of the animalicious Safari ahead of us.  Is it possible that there is a spare pair tucked under a seat, if so, it's probably only one and not both.  I scavenged and came up with nothing.  Indeed, we were 2 hours away from home and I forgot a key item!  Lots of thoughts went racing through my head:  Is there something else I could use for shoes?  Do they sell shoes at Six Flags?  Would I miss out on all the fun if I skipped out and just went outlet shopping nearby?  Would there be another family that would just happen to have a spare pair of size 6 shoes, preferable Wide and no Hello Kitty logos?, Ok, pink would be fine, I guess beggars can't be choosers. Then ultimately,I thought "what am I going to do?!"  Keep him suppressed in the stroller ALL day? Impossible.  My only hope was that we would find a shop with some sort of shoes, so off we went.  To make an already too long story shorter, after hitting 8 or 9 of Six Flags' stores, we finally found the bargain basement store where most things were 50% off.  One helpful clerk later and a trip to the back stockroom, we ended up with a leftover pair of watershoes.  Perfect!  Luke was happy and thrilled to get out of his stroller finally!

The experience had me thinking, obviously, and reminded me of one of our trips to Italy 6 years ago when Sophia was Luke's age.  We were going back to Pisa where we lived after coming home for a school break for a few days.  We had a lot on our minds since our NYC apartment was still on the market and we had to decide if we were to stay in Italy for more semesters or to just come home after the first semester.  Anyway, we took off to the airport for the night flight and when we got to JFK, I realized it that I hadn't packed a single diaper in my bag. Oops!  I looked at every store in JFK, but no one had diapers, I looked for another mother, but didn't see anyone with a comparable or older child.  Off we went and I just prayed for the best.  The "best" being that we wouldn't have any #2s that night or we would be in deep "you know what" literally!  Our prayers were answered, and we made it all the way to Pisa on that one diaper, albeit heavy once we arrived.  Indeed a moment when I told myself, I will never forget to pack diapers again!

I'm certain that I'll be more aware of packing shoes for Luke from now on too, but maybe it's just my way of getting back at Evan for teasing me of always overpacking. In the end, which is better to be prepared or to lack an important item?

So, what's the worst item that you've forgotten?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sophia!

Wow, you're 7!  It's just so exciting!  I'm thrilled to see the beautiful, spunky, creative, precocious, nurturing,  charming young lady that you are becoming!  Thanks for all the giggles, knock-knock jokes that lead nowhere, observations, teaching moments and fun that you have given me and daddy!  It's going to be a great year!  xoxo,  Mom & Dad

(ps...there are 8 candles on the cake for some unknown reason...i'll blame this one on sleep deprivation!!!)

Monday, September 29, 2008


I finally got to meet one of my idols!  Miss Martha Stewart.  Yep.  It was amazing.  By association of my Gourmet Club, I was able to secure us tickets for our group to go to the show today.  The anticipation of going has been so fun because I have been a fan of Martha and all the equity she has brought back into the home and homemaking aspect of life since I was a teenager.  I've always been fascinated with executing a lovely dinner table and making it visually appealing, interesting and fun.  I love how expeditious she is and how's she's made her life into an art, just being Martha.  I find it a compliment when someone says, "You're so Martha,"  when I've done something creative.  ( I won't get into the dark side of Martha, we all have skeletons, eh?! LOL)

Anyway, going to the show was sincerely a fun experience and with so many of my gourmet girlfriends.  The show was very interesting in and of itself.  We all fell in love with Josh Bernstein.  He was HOT-HOT-HOT and had a darling, charming personality.  Then, another segment was about refinishing fine metal. Some may yawn, but not me! It reminded me of my days working at Tiffany almost a decade ago!  She had a lovely butler's tray re-worked and refinished by a company in Queens that came to the show.  I thought it was so fascinating to see the fine metalworking in progress!  The last part of the show was with Chef Tom Colicchio of Top Chef and proprietor of several restaurants.  He made some scrumptious fare that had our mouths watering.  Disappointing that there weren't tastes for the whole audience or at least US, but we survived, it just tempted our palates for lunch at his place 'wich craft.  Delicious!

So, after the show was done taping, our group was beckoned by the stage manager to come up to her cooking island while she was answering audience questions.  The in-house photographer positioned us just so leaving a spot in the middle for the Maven herself and took several test shots and then repositioned some of us with tweaks here and there.  We really weren't sure what to expect and were excited about all the extra treatment!  When she was done, she came over and greeted us, then snuck into position for a few shots, then turned and talked to us for a few moments.  She wanted to know a little about our group and Kirstin's cause and blog.  It was really great moment!

My impressions of the show was that it is an extremely large and organized production!  I can't believe how smoothly everything runs there and the multitude of people to make it so.  Before the show, there were several workers in the greenhouse area of the stage sweeping up and moving flora around.  Then they would go back and do more tasks, etc.  She never even went into the greenhouse or addressed it, yet they had been busy at work tinkering there.  There were at least 6 people in her prep kitchen busily working like Santa's elves.  Everyone seems VERY intent on doing their job and doing it WELL.  When the show was taping and in between segments, there were about 30 crew members scurrying about.  Now I know why I can't keep algae off my slate patio for more than a week at a time, fresh flowers changed daily in my house, my windows spotless, my curio cabinets filled with interesting and up to date items changed out often and to coordinate with my daily outfit, my kitchen kept clean and organized and all my recipes rehearsed before the performance (dinner!)!!!  Because I don't have a staff of 30 at my beck and call.  It was an a-ha moment, I finally figured out  why nobody can really be "Martha" like she does it!  Because Martha is the face of a well oiled machine!!!

Keep it up Martha, we can all dream!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sophia's Party


Why are Sophia's parties so fun for me and Evan?  I think we have just as much fun as the kids! This year, I pulled it together very last minute and I have to admit that Evan did most of the party and I just did the shopping & styling part.  We are a great team! Unlike most of my parties, there was no defined theme, but I decided to go with a pink and orange color scheme.  It all came together so beautifully.  

When the girls arrived, they made firecracker necklaces out of patterned paper triangles and rolled them on sticks until they formed a long bead.  Once they had completed 20 or so, they strung them on cording.  This was a really fun and darling craft for them!

Then the girls were each given a mini cake to frost and decorate.  We brought out bags of tinted buttercream frosting with different tips and taught the girls to make flowers, polka dots,  flourishes and to get creative and have fun with the tips!  They were all elated to find out that there were endless possibilities.

Evan lead a killer game of Queen Elephant where each person has assigned an animal and a sign to do and the object of the game is to knock the Queen Elephant out of the top position so you can keep moving up.  It was a wonderful way to tone down the exhuberance that a 7 year old party can generate after much sugar and excitement and redirect their energy into winning a game.  Brilliant!

The food was normal kid-pleasing fare of corner pizza and pink lemonade and then the cake that Evan so beautifully made and decorated.  It was delicious!

Sophia, thanks for letting us share your party with you!  Glad you had a great time! xoxo

Old-fashioned Beadmaking fun

Emily's cake decorating talent

Letting the creative juices flow

Everybody do the crab

Cakes all packaged up to take home

Unplanned twinners--and they fit the color scheme too!