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Birthday for Mom(mies)!

So last year we celebrated my birthday in Paris! And because Melisa’s birthday is two days later, it was a big group French birthday party. It was great. Wow, really great. OMG, hang on I have to take a minute…in fact maybe we should all take a minute and reflect? Sigh.

Okay, I’m back.

This year, we’re celebrating the birthdays in Brooklyn, and with Grandma in the house, we can get out to do a few of our favorite things. And of course, in typical fashion, my birthday wish list is a little late. But here goes:

For me the fashonista:

from Piperlime.com

I need fall clothes. Bad. Otherwise, I’ll be wearing my whites into the office on the first brisk day of the season. I like the layered look from Piperlime.com, above. But no need to order from catalogs; Grandma will be babysitting today, so I’ll be able to visit my usual haunts: Anthropologie, Kiwi and the new place Melisa wrote about, Two Lovers.

For me the jewelry hound:

Oh, MV! I miss you.

I didn’t have time to pick up a keepsake this year in Martha’s Vineyard. Hard to capture the things I love about the island in a charm, but this lobster claw, from local designer CB Stark, is darling.

For me the mommy:

Gibson Lane Silhouette

I’ve been coveting these since I saw my cousin Amy post the one she had created of her son to her facebook page. She worked with Gibson Lane Studios, based in Richmond, VA. The price is very reasonable, $65 for an 8×10 framed, matted print (plus a $25 one time set up charge).

How about a drink here:

Cocktails! (photo from the NYTimes)

A new bar! Courtesy of friend and foodie David G., who tweeted a New York Times piece about Orient Express. It looks fun and grown-up, and who doesn’t want a swank cocktail? Sidecar, please, on the double!

Nails done at Sweet Lily:

This is for my feet? Oh yeah.

And a movie?

Calgon, take me away!

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August 14 – 15: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas (Vacation Edition)

Right Fork Diner

Watching the planes behind The Right Fork Diner at Katama Air Field on Martha's Vineyard.

We’re not in Brooklyn; we’re still on vacation, but already stressing about how many days we have left before we have to board a ferry for the return home.

Momentarily, we’re off to have breakfast at the ARTCLIFF Diner in Vineyard Haven. But for a minute, I’m thinking Brooklyn. I’m thinking links. I’m thinking I hope someone takes the time to read this since I’m taking the time to write the damn thing….

Is anyone reading this? Oh, never mind.

OK.

How to begin your search for a preschool (if you’ll need one for next fall, now’s the time. And this is a really good post.) — A Child Grows in Brooklyn

The total 411 on Brooklyn’s Public Swimming Pools (rules, locations, hours, everything.) Go! Our public pools are awesome, free summer fun. Try one, or try a new one! — Brooklyn Based

Livie & Boo, a new kids’ clothing store, opens in Prospect Heights. — Brownstoner

Happy weekend!

Goodbye Baby Teeth

Jasper's first lost tooth

One tooth down!

Jasper lost his first tooth!

We’ve been waiting for it to happen. He’s been sporting what I call “shark teeth”- two adult teeth coming in right behind his two bottom baby teeth- for a few weeks now (a nice dovetail with his “ocean” unit at school).

But oh, I can’t believe he’s big enough to lose his little baby teeth. The lonely tooth is SO TINY in my hand. I remember when it showed up on the scene.

Jasper, 11 months old

11 months old

The tooth fairy came last night, but put her tribute in the pillow case by accident, instead of under the pillow. Tears threatened this morning when both the tooth and the reward were missing, but then all was well when the little glassine bag with $1 was found.

ROARRRR!

Just another reminder that our baby is not a baby anymore!

Bye, bye baby!

Weekly Menu: May 23-29

Reporting back on last week’s menu success stories: the Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze was a big hit; simple to prepare with great flavor (and sweet, so the kids should like it). You are supposed to marinate the salmon for 30 minutes prior to cooking but don’t let that put you off; if you don’t have the time I think you can skip this step. The pea tendrils? Not our fave.

Pea tendrils & sugar snap peas

Continue reading ‘Weekly Menu: May 23-29’

Hello, Sunshine! How to Look Refreshed On No Sleep

Another sleepless night ends

One more cup of coffee

As parents, we spend a fair amount of nighttime hours awake, comforting kids who are afraid, sick, or had to go to the bathroom; not to mention those of us awake with their feeding and fussing newborns. Even when we get to go to bed, we often lie awake, either too keyed up from the evening’s events or simply worrying.

And that means looking at yourself in the mirror the next morning and seeing reflected, well, a zombie.

Here are some tools to fool the public into thinking you are well-rested, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (don’t ask me what a bushy tail has to do with this- it’s just an expression).

First stop for me, a stop I’ve been making since I was 19, is the Elderflower Cooling Eye Gel from The Body Shop.

Elderflower Cooling Eye Gel

Elderflower Cooling Eye Gel

I love this product; the cool combination of witch hazel and elderflower makes my tired eyes feel bright (and you can get even more of a punch from it if you keep it in the fridge). It’s only $10 at The Body Shop (buy 2 get one free!- 3 will last you the year if you use it every day), and also available on Amazon.

The only thing is that I DO use it everyday. And on those really tired days, it makes me feel better to have reinforcements. So, I also use Lotus Eye Gel from Fresh.

Lotus Eye Gel by Fresh

Lotus Eye Gel by Fresh, courtesy of Sephora

This stuff has a wonderful smell, and promises to alleviate under eye circles. I think it works pretty well, and usually put it on first, chasing it with the Elderflower Eye Gel. Probably overkill, but makes me happy–and I think it works.

Next, undereye concealer. Whatever you regularly use. Then, and this is important, pick up your tinted concealer and put it on. Nothing like a little glow to take the gray out of your skin. I’m a fan of Clinique tinted moisturizer, but whatever works for you. Brush on a nice light powder and a warm blush.

Time for a moment of confession: I was a charter subscriber to Allure.  I take their annual Best of Beauty list seriously, scouring it for new and better product recommendations. And one product that makes the list so regularly that like Great Lash mascara it was retired into a Hall of Fame, is the Shu Uemura eyelash curler.

Shu Uemura eyelash curler, $19 @ Sephora

Shu Uemura eyelash curler, courtesy of Shu Uemura

I resisted this device for years (really, all through high school and up until my mid-thirties), but after a long night awake, I can promise it will give you that my-eyes-are-wide-open surprised look without the surgery.

It helps. Alot.

Mascara, now. And some warm gloss tone on the lips.

If you are STILL not looking all glowy and well-rested, there are options. I’d recommend Benefit’s Ooh La Lift to further tame any lingering dark circles and add some brightness around your eyes.

One more tip: when getting dressed, it’s crucial you follow the ASCOB (any solid color other than black- thank you Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show) rule. Actually, it doesn’t have to be a solid color, just anything but black. Brighten up!

Then step out with your cup of coffee and GO GET ‘EM, gorgeous!

Let’s Get Together (attack of the bloodsucker parents)

Is there a more insincere phrase than “we should get together sometime”? 

There’s a special breed of vampire out there, not nearly as fun as Twilight or as cool as Lestat.  Let’s call them the vampire moms (and dads- no need to be gender specific here).  It’s usually someone who you haven’t seen in a while.  Someone who wants something from you.  Someone who is almost a stranger.  For some reason, to facilitate an exchange of information (or maybe since they have no info to exchange in return for what they are asking), after taking what they wanted from you, they throw out, “we should get together sometime” without meaning it in the slightest. 

Sample exchange:

Vampire:  “Hey!  Wow, long time no see! How are you? Are you still living in Brooklyn? Wow, Jasper is already 5? Last time we saw him he was a baby.   I remember once that you mentioned you had a midwife you loved using.  Well, we are thinking of getting pregnant again, and our O.B. just did not get it last time around, so we wanted to try something new.  Would you mind giving us the name of your midwife to call? ”

Me: “Sure, it’s Best-Midwife-Ever at 212-999-9999.”

Vampire: “Thanks SO much, you guys are the best.  We should really get together sometime and really catch up, ta ta”

And then they disappear for another five years until they want something else. What’s up with that? Even though I know the offer is just a throw-away, a tiny part of me thinks, OH YEAH, MAYBE WE SHOULD, while being fairly certain the follow-up call will never come.  Brings out that old high-school feeling (maybe more junior high), that ONE- okay me- is just not cool enough to friend.  Even knowing I’ll never hear from them to set up the get together, I somehow still feel bad when the blood sucker slinks away in the night with the “we should get together sometime” still hanging in the air.

No stake in the heart will probably kill this bad habit, but if you or someone you know is a blood sucker, when you want something, just ask nicely and skip the b.s.

Now on to how I wish people would stop saying hello to me in the hallways.  Dammit, sometimes I just want to walk down the hallway and not deal.

Crankiness factor 10,000.

Recipe of the week: Pizza Night!

Well, like alot of good ideas, we got this one from a friend.  This friend only allows her kids to watch to TV one night a week (impressive or insane? You decide).  Full disclosure: we are not often ACTUALLY SITTING ON  THE SOFA AND WATCHING NOGGIN WITH THE KIDS.  Usually, we are running around the house cleaning, cooking, etc, and occasionally singing out “what’s going to work? Teamwork!” or “Swiper, no swiping” just so the kids know we are not ignoring them (or maybe it’s so we feel that we are not ignoring them.  Anyway).  So Pizza Night grew out of the novel idea that we would STOP, SIT, and WATCH a WHOLE MOVIE with both kids at once.

First tried it: We instituted Pizza Night at our house this spring, on Saturday nights.  We were pretty religious about doing it up until about June.  The warm weather (okay, only warmish this summer in New York) makes it less enticing to turn on the oven to 500 degrees (the bonus of cooking pizza dough from scratch weekly is that it doubles as an oven cleaner!  Woo-hoo).

Ease of recipe: Very easy, with lots of opportunities for even our 3 year old to press a button and dump flour into a bowl.  As a bonus, you can give your kids a small ball of dough to flatten and play with to keep them busy.

Special equipment: food processor

Reaction: The kids love making pizza, partly because they just plain LOVE pizza (if there’s a kid who doesn’t, I have not heard), but also because it’s interactive, and it’s fun for them to see the dough rise and punch it down.  Plus, they can personalize their own pizzas.

This dough recipe is from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, but there are pizza recipes in every general cookbook, so you can just use whatever one you want.

Basic Pizza Dough (make one very large or two pretty large thin crust pizzas.  Great for leftovers)

Time: about 15 mins to make, plus at least an hour of rising time

1 tsp instant or rapid rise yeast

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour (plus more if needed)

2 tsp coarse kosher or sea salt (plus extra for sprinkling)

1 to 1 1/4 cup water

2 TBSP plus 1 tsp olive oil

1) Combine the yeast, flour & 2 tsp salt in food processor.  Turn machine on and add 1 cup water and the 2 TBSP oil through the feed tube.

2) Process for about 30 seconds, adding more water until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch.  If it is dry, add another TBSP or so of water and process for another 10 seconds. (Note: my dough is often very sticky.  Still turns out fine)

3) Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead by hand a few seconds to form a smooth, round dough ball (Note: don’t over knead).  Grease a bowl with the remaining olive oil and and place the dough in it.  Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free area until the dough doubles in size, 1-2 hours.  You can cut this rising time short if you are in a hurry, or you can let the dough rise more slowly, in the fridge, for up to 6-8 hours.

4) When dough is ready,knead it lightly and divide it if you wish.  Roll each piece into a round ball.  Place on lightly floured surface, sprinkle a little more flour on top and cover with plastic wrap or towel for 20 minutes or until they puff slightly.

5) Turn over to 500 degrees (you could also do this on the grill for those of you who have no fear of the grill becoming a huge gooey mess- i.e. not this Virgo.  Bittman says to preheat a gas grill to the maximum).

6) Roll or pat out dough into the shape you wish. If using the oven, oil one or more baking sheets, or use a baking stone (put it in when you start preheating  the oven), or put parchment paper on the baking sheet (the last is my preferred choice.  Parchment paper rocks!)

7) To bake pizza: I usually brush with olive oil, sprinkle sea salt and some pepper on it, and let it cook few minutes in the oven before adding the toppings, which the kids can do, except my kids are usually glued to whatever movie of the week we’ve chosen.  Bittman says to grill the pizza, you can slide the dough directly on the grill (I can imagine that! Yikes) or flip it onto the grill with the oiled side down (so make sure you oil it).  You apparently have to move it around the grill to keep it from burning and then turn it, adding toppings.

Serve it up

Yum!

BONUS ADULT PIZZA:

We are really into a white pizza right now!  Straight from the lady we call the Bare-ass Contessa.  This is a variation from her White Pizzas with Arugula in the Back to Basics book.  Make the dough as above, prepare it for the oven by brushing it with a mixture of olive oil & red pepper flakes, then sprinkle coarse salt and pepper to taste.  Let the crust get a little baked so it will be crisp.  Top with fontina, mozz, and goat cheese (again to taste).  Bake.  Serve over arugula or greens dressed with a lemony vinaigrette!  Voila!


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