Archive for February, 2011

Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em? Leggings for Moms

black leggings

photo via

I’ve been thinking about age a lot recently, and I blame Nora Ephron. While we were visiting the grandparents over the holidays, I made the mistake of picking up I Feel Bad About My Neck, her book of essays on aging. In the title piece, she shares what a plastic surgeon once told her: It’s a medical certainty that a woman’s neck begins to go at age 43. That’s when the sagging starts. Unavoidable.

Want to guess how old I am? Jasper keeps forgetting, but Magnolia has it down pat and will tell you and anyone else who will listen — “Mommy is 43!” (At least this mommy is; I’ve got a couple years on Chrissy.)

Anyway, I’m over 40, and now my neck is going….

Other things I’ve been thinking about when it comes to age and what’s “appropriate”: Hair length, hem length, and LEGGINGS. I do not look like any of the women above when I wear them, but I have some and I LOVE them. And if I looked like Katie Holmes in them, I would wear them with a cute pair of ballet flats ALL THE TIME. (Yes, Katie is a freak for being married to Tom, but I generally like her tailored look.)

katie holmes in leggings

photo via INFdaily

So, here are my thoughts on hair and hems:

hair — I’m growing it out! After thoughtful discussion with my hairdresser, we decided I’m not too ancient for long hair. Yippeeee! I’m practicing with my new curling iron (there are tricks to getting it right, people!) and trying to channel Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love.

hemlines — No shorter than just above the knee, thank you, for ME. If you’re over 40 and can rock the mid-thigh look, good for you. But, personally, I kind of think you have to look like Sienna Miller to pull that one off.

The jury’s out on leggings, though…. I wear them, but with a cloudy conscience. I love the comfort and clean look, but I don’t weigh 110 pounds. I have THIGHS. And that is apparent.

What do you think? Are leggings OK for over-40 moms or should most of us regular-looking gals “just say no?”

Leggings — love ’em or leave ’em?

Recipe of the Week: Spicy Veggie Burritos

black beans

cheddar cheese


shiitake mushrooms

As you may have noticed, veggie burritos are in heavy rotation on the Weekly Menu. They’re a long-time, mostly vegetarian fave, and we can crank them out on auto pilot. But as commenter Melissa from Michigan recently pointed out, northerners and various others not raised on Tex-Mex might need a little help with ideas and inspiration!

So, here’s a rough take on how we throw them together each week — add in more or less of each ingredient based on what you like and want to taste more of. (Note: While the kids will eat plain cheese quesadillas, our burritos are a tougher sell. We like them full of spinach and mushrooms and turned up high on the heat — not really their thing. Also, picky little Miss M. is anti-beans AND -avocado — can she really be mine? — so it’s generally a moms-only dinner. But we’re working on it.)

Spicy Veggie Burritos, a Shiny Brite Kitchen Fave

Saute chopped garlic and chopped chipotle chiles in adobo (go easy on the latter until you figure out what suits your taste, maybe a quarter to half of one pepper plus a little of the smoky sauce) in olive oil for a minute or two.

Toss in some chopped red bell pepper and saute until tender; add in the chopped mushrooms of your choice (we use shiitake or cremini) and saute those, too.

Add one can (or most of it) rinsed black beans; we use Goya. Stir to combine everything. (If you have leftover grilled steak or chicken on hand, and are feeling in need of extra protein, you can add a little of that in, too.)

Add washed spinach and cook, stirring, until slightly wilted. Remove the pan from heat.

To assemble: Nuke flour tortillas wrapped in paper towels for a few secs to make them soft (we use Mission Whole Wheat Medium/Soft Taco size — there’s a little veggie overflow, but the Burrito size is HUGE. Trying to save a few carb calories where we can, but it’s a personal choice. If you want the burrito to fold up all nice and neat with no spill-age, you’ll need the big boys.)

Put a tortilla on each plate and spoon in the veggies; add grated cheddar or pepper jack cheese to taste. Fold in the ends first and then roll closed. Nuke again until cheese is completely melted; about a minute.

Top with a mix of any or all of the following: chopped tomatoes, diced fresh jalapeno, cilantro, avocado, scallions, salsa, sour cream spiked with a little of the adobo sauce from the chipotle chiles, and, of course, a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce.

Yum, yum.

And for two twists on the above, both of which we’ve tried and liked, try these, from Dinner: A Love Story and Smitten Kitchen:

Black Bean Burritos with Pickled Onions

Crisp Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Slaw

Weekly Menu, February 27 – March 5: Oscar 2011 Edition

We’re back! Our week-long break in Texas was a treat, including Austin moms-only shopping sprees (see: Adelante again) and visiting (Karen! Debra! Bailey!), the annual Grandpa Parkinson Seafood Fry and Nightly Margarita Hour, movie marathons with Grandma (the Force is now with us, always), plus the Great Sweeny Pilgrimage to see Great Pa-Pa (97!!) and Great-Grandma (a young 92). (Not pictured: nightly comb-outs in the back yard).

We re-emerged in our home city of New York nit-free and almost done with louse care (only 2 more comb-outs to go!), probably 5 lbs heavier, but evangelical; people: we’ve seen the future and it is WARM. Yes, we have spent a week wearing short sleeves and turning on car A.C. Can tulips and spring dresses be far behind?

And now it’s Oscar night. So here’s the thing: like most moms of young kids, we haven’t seen much. Our personal movie awards would go something like this:

Best Actress in the Fabulous Hair Category: Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love. No the movie isn’t great. But Julia Robert’s HAIR!! Amazing, in every scene, whether it’s up in Italy or wavy in Bali. (And if you’re not into her, or great hair, hold out for Javier Bardem at the end).

Calling my stylist RIGHT NOW

Best Actress in the Fabulous Clothes Category: Melisa calls this one for Sarah Jessica Parker in her J’Adore Dior outfit in Sex & the City 2. Chrissy calls this for SJP in the great white Halston Heritage dress from the opening scene of the same movie.


Melisa's pick

Chrissy's pick

2011 Movie that Made us Want to Move to California: The Kids Are All Right. Obviously, we were interested in this one for other reasons (that could be a whole other post) but on the lighter side: California is so distracting. The cute bungalows! The great weather! We ♥ the left coast!

5 bedrooms, 2 baths in Los Feliz...

Movie We Didn’t See, Don’t Want to See, But Thanks for Filling Us In, Friends: Black Swan. Those crazy red eyes on Natalie Portman, and all that nutty picking feathers out of her back: we’re sure it’s interesting but no, thanks.

Best Comeback in a Corset: Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech. We actually haven’t seen this one, but it’s just nice to see Helena again the way we fondly remember her from A Room with a View.

Remember this?

Movie Chrissy is Beginning to See the Point of: 127 Hours. A few hours in front of the Independent Spirit Awards — the movie was promoted continuously between the commercials for it and the show itself — and I’m starting to buy this as possibly uplifting (instead of thinking “what an idiot.”)

And seriously: we loved and are rooting for The Social Network and Annette Bening.

On to the menu:

Weekly Menu (which is VERY LOW KEY this week due to re-entry):

Sunday: We’ve got too much to do to cook, and since we discovered Fornino would deliver to us, why bother? Pizza and salad all around.

Monday: Rotisserie Chicken & Roast Broccoli (again, still recovering)

Tuesday: Burrito Night

Wednesday: Forecast says 53 degrees and sunny! Time to break out the grill. Flank Steak, Salad, and Pilaf.

Thursday: Continuing my “if you build it, it will come” approach to spring, spring-like dish: Spaghetti with Lemon & Olive Oil from Smitten Kitchen. I also love her recipe for Green Bean Salad with Fried Almonds and Pickled Red Onions to go with…may be too work intensive for a Thursday. We’ll see.

Friday: Roast Salmon, Sautéed Spinach, and Quinoa

Saturday: Pizza Night! Veggie style.

Have a great week!

Happy Winter Break!

margaritas at Fonda San Miguel

flckr photo / Kristi Sauer

Adios! Off to Tejas.

(Kristi Sauer)


Time for Queso: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas

chile con queso

photo: Muy Bueno Cookbook

You may have noticed we had a rough week. Thankfully, escape is just around the corner — we’re Texas-bound for winter break. I’m hoping Grandpa Jack‘s margaritas and unlimited access to Tex-Mex will help dim the painful memory of the last few days.

Given our destination, I’ve got chile con queso — that fabulous, cheesy Tex-Mex fave — on my mind, and I think you should, too. Gooey cheese heals, people. I’m not saying it’s healthy, I’m saying it heals. I hope you find time to work this into your weekend or next week.

Here are some recipes to get you going:

This one is the chile con queso of my youth — the basic recipe made with Velveeta and Rotel tomatoes.

Homesick Texan — love her — makes a very appealing-looking, Velveeta-free more natural chile con queso. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m going to.

The Pioneer Woman has a revved up version, with sausage (!) and fresh jalapenos. I like the way she thinks.

And last, queso aside….

If you’re stuck in NYC for the break and searching for things to do, consider an outing to the New York Hall of Science — when was the last time you took the kids there? Admission is FREE on Sunday mornings and, once in, you can stay as long as you like. Good news on a cold or rainy day. (via TimeOut New York Kids)

(photo, and one more queso recipe: Muy Beuno Cookbook)

The Winter of Our Discontent

Amanda Plummer Pulp Fiction

No time to blog this week, and my morning shopping list reveals why:



paper towels


Medium-Thick Pantene Conditioner

biggest GD magnifying glass I can find

an extra nit pick

Yeah, we’ve been busy de-lousing over here at Shiny Brite — we’ve got lice. This is the first time we’ve ever had to deal with it and, yes, it is just as icky as you think it is. Useless to point a louse-y finger of blame at anyone, although we do think we know where to point: Now it’s here and we’ve just got to get through it.

We were totally freaked to the max when we made the discovery on Tuesday (poor M. was the first to go down), so we called and made an appointment with the professionals at Lice Enders. Several hundred dollars and hours of misery later, we’d been combed through, armed with products, and given a detailed list of what to do for the next two weeks (yes, two weeks).

Interestingly, I had noticed earlier in the week that Mommy Poppins posted on head lice removal services in New York, so we got a grim peek at what to expect before heading out to our treatment. How fortuitous!

You know, you do so many things with a partner and children that take you to new, never-before-imagined levels of intimacy through gross-ness, and yet nit-picking takes you to a whole other place. One tiny bit of good news: Even if you think you suck half the time at this parenting thing, it’s reassuring to find that your instincts really do kick in when your kids are scared or uncomfortable.

It’s war: the moms vs. the bugs.

And those shitty little nits are going down: I’m gonna execute every motherfucking last one of ya.

(Note to concerned grandparents & Helen — I am not on the verge of checking myself into Bellevue. Do not be alarmed by the tone of this post.)

Weekly Menu: February 13 – 19

Photo by lovestruck via flickr

First things first: we tried a bunch of new recipes last week. The Roast Chicken with Dijon Sauce from Smitten Kitchen was a twist on our usual Sunday roast chicken: the cut-up bird is browned on the stove and finished in the oven (same pan!) rather than roasted whole. The dijon sauce was simple to prepare, and knocked the dish out of the park. All-in-all, an easy recipe to pull off for company or a Sunday supper. Next time I will cook the sauce longer to thicken it up; the flavor is delicious, but I’d like it to stick to the chicken a bit more.

Cooking Light’s Curry Spiced Noodles had good flavors, and we threw in some leftover chicken instead of the cashews. As far as stir-fry goes, this one was not at the top of my list. It either needs some serious heat (spice); what doesn’t? Or you could just make Pioneer Woman’s Monday Night Stir Fry.

Finally, the Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca is a meal you can count on having on the table in 30 minutes. We served it with roast leeks and rice pilaf. It’s a crowd-pleaser that also presents well. Good for weekday eating or company.

We didn’t get to the Thai-ish Salmon from Dinner A Love Story but will soon.

On to the weekly menu:

Sunday: We’ve had a CRAZY weekend again! So, Rotisserie Chicken and Roasted Brussels Sprouts are on for Sunday supper.

Monday: Valentine’s Day = Date night for mommies! What’s it going to be? Movies? Dinner? Delicious cocktails? Cute shoes? All of the above? Don’t know but something fun is in the plan. Kids are eating (Love) Burgers and Fries.

Tuesday: Sizzled Shrimp Provençal, an old fave, served with salad and rice pilaf

Wednesday: More Shiitake Burritos (last week’s were a hit, and did you know Shiitake’s help lower cholesterol? Not that we’re worried, but FYI)

Photo by Libraryman from Flickr

Thursday: CRAVING THIS: Sopa de Lima (Mexican Lime Soup) via Homesick Texan. This is a Lime-y Chicken Soup served with Tortilla Chips crumbled on top. Sounds good, no?

Friday: Lasagne and salad

Saturday: Pizza night rides again!

Hope you have a week filled with love and small candy hearts.

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