Say Yes To Puddles

Last Friday puddles were everywhere in Central Park. It was still drizzling and bitter cold when I took Ella out to test the shell jacket and zip trousers Polarn O. Pyret sent her.

At first, she avoided the puddles. I had to convince her that it was ok to jump into the water. Then, I promised she would stay warm and dry. Finally, after a few test jumps, she believed me. And that's when she discovered the joy of playing in the rain without the uncomfortable consequences of being wet, soggy, and cold. This spring, she's free to play anywhere. Probably while singing a crazy made-up song.

Totally random: Doesn't Ella completely transform into a new person with these clothes on? Suddenly I was looking at a young Gretchen Bleiler. All tough, sporty, yet still girly! Somebody get this girl a halfpipe and a snowboard. She's got the look.

The best part about these clothes to me? Not only are they waterproof and wind proof, but they also are water repellant. Even after jumping in muddy puddles, the pants stayed clean! Why can't all children's clothes be water repellant? Magic.

Thanks Polarn O. Pyret for outfitting Ella for spring and beyond!

You can find her jacket here, the trousers here, and also the brown striped hat here (organic cotton!). Receive 15% off all full priced items with code: STRIPEPOP, in-store or online. Also, find major sales going on PO.P's outerwear here! 

Love this store. Other posts with my kids wearing PO.P's clothes are here (cords!) and here (striped bathing suit!).  


Christmas Cupcake Fail. Meh.

I made this "meh" cupcake (inspired by this ornament), trying to be sooo clever during the holiday season. But all I could find was capital fondant letters, so it ended up looking like a lame acronym. MEH. More Eating Ham. My Envious Hamster. Or some one's initials. Basically, I realized capslock made it lose it's mehness. So I never did anything with the cupcake except eat it before the kids got home. It was goooood. Funfetti cake mix and frosting! At least it wasn't a complete failure.

In the future, I promise not to hoard my project failures for so long. MEH :)


Times Square: The Truth

 Yesterday while in Times Square, we spent a ton of time outside on our scooters. But really, we spent most of the day at Toys R Us. I wanted to poke my eye balls out.

But then again, twice (twice!) Owen told me he was having the best day ever. Once while he gazed into the T-Rex eyes in the Jurassic Park section of Toys R Us. And another time when he was looking at the Lego sculptors. Ella had her moment as she road a display bike around the store. With the wind blowing in her hair, she exclaimed, "Oh, I want to live in the country!" Oscar didn't want to get out of this display Cadillac Escalade Power Wheels car. He kept opening and slamming the door shut like a tough guy.

We were there so long, we used the restrooms twice. All I can say is that I absolutely surrendered to my kid's demands to play in a cheesy toy store all day long. I didn't take any pictures because I was sure that there was noway I was writing about this on the blog. Nothing looked photogenic. Just a lot of plastic molded to look like different things. I was planning on taking pictures when we went outside to the large red staircase in the middle of Times Square. I tried to build it up: Look at the view kids! The lights?! All the people! But all I got were bored eyes and Owen's constant demand to check out the massive Disney Store.

So we walked down the stairs that I thought were relatively cool and headed to the Disney Store. 
But this time I took pictures while I wrote this post in my head.  


Scooters and Times Square

The kids are off from school this week and the weather is relatively mild. The plan: Busting out our scooters and racing around the city.

Last night we rode around the Times Square for hours thanks to all the pedestrian malls.  Broadway, between 42nd and 43rd, has less people (*google maps shows cars, but I swear there's none!) I almost felt like I was at a rollerskating rink, dodging and weaving around tourists. It's the most fun I've had in a long time. I even asked my kids to take pictures of me in my iphone because I was so happy. Didn't the pictures turn out great?! Uh, thanks kids.

Who would have guessed that scooters and Times Square were a perfect match? I just hope we don't run anyone over. Good thing it's mostly tourist down there. NYorkers would not put up with our nonsense and near collisions. In that way, scooters have redeemed Times Square for me!

I use a Razor A2 scooter. It's kind of small and the weight limit is 140 pounds--I just made the cut! FYI: It's currently only $29.99! A steal for the fun I'm having. The boys use the Mini Kick Scooters and Ella uses the Maxi. I asked Rob if he wanted one and he said, "N.O.WAY!" Scooters for adults are cool, right? He doesn't know what he's missing.

Oh and be warned: The dumplings at the Rickshaw Kiosk are gross, but also eatable, convenient, and cheap.


Financial Friday (on Sunday): Save Money By Cooking from Scratch

This post was inspired after one of my readers, Adele Flannery, praised Jamie's Food Revolution cookbook in the comment section of this post.  Since this month we are trying to cut back on restaurant expenses, I took her advise and bought the book. I'm so affected by my readers comments and money saving tips! Thanks Adele! Great suggestion!

I adore the concept of Jamie's Food Revolution. It's made for people like me who never cook. It's basic with a capital B. In the introduction, Jamie suggests mastering one recipe from each chapter and then passing it on. It seems like a manageable goal. Here's my first attempt of passing it on (without breaking any copyright laws!) Below is an adapted version his Asian Chicken Noodle Broth from Chapter 1 entitled "20 Minute Meals".

The first time I tried his recipe, it took me 38 minutes, I burned the mixed seeds, and over cooked the veggies. The second time I made it, I made some changes, felt more comfortable with the recipe, and it took me around 30 minutes. Both times, the soup was delicious.

The problem I found with Jamie's cookbook is that he doesn't do lot of prep work and expects us to do a lot of multitasking to save time. For example, he'll write: While the chicken is cooking, peal and slice the ginger and slice your chili . . .  

I don't know about you, but while my chicken's cooking, Oscar is screaming about my computer freezing, Ella's asking me to sharpen her pencil, and Owen is crying about a paper cut. I need to have all my food prepped and ready to go before I start cooking, just in case all hell breaks loose. If I don't, I'll end up burning something. If I find myself twiddling my fingers with nothing to do while my chicken is cooking, I can always load the dishwasher or drag a kid in time out or attempt to prop style my ingredients (below! ha). I'll find something to do, Jamie, trust me.

Things I've changed from his recipe:
I replaced the asparagus with shittake mushrooms, chicken with shrimp, and soy sauce with double fermented soy sauce. I also eliminated the baby corn and green chili. For ease, I doubled the recipe because his only serves 2. I also tried to simplify his directions into categories. My brain works better that way. His directions are lumped into 2 giant paragraphs, and I found myself getting lost.  I hope that's enough changes to post this recipe on my blog. If not, print it out now before Jamie personally comes after me. It's really that good. Restaurant quality! Enjoy while you can!

Asian Noodle Shrimp Soup
adapted from Jamie's Food Revolution
serves 4

2 small handfuls of raw cashew nuts
2 tablespoons mixed seeds (pumpkin, sesame, poppy, sunflower)
2 quarts chicken broth
1 lb large uncooked peeled shrimp
4 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
olive oil
2 thumb-size pieces of fresh ginger root, sliced thin
4 ounces rice sticks
2 handfuls of snow peas
2 handfuls shitake mushrooms, sliced thin
juice of 2 limes
4 tbs double fermented soy sauce (or regular, whatever the store has)
2 small handfuls of spinach leaves

Throw cashews and seeds into a frying pan. Turn heat to medium. Toast lightly while the pan is heating up.  Remove contents from pan and set it aside.
THE BROTH (part 1):
Heat the chicken broth into a large pot on high heat.
While the broth is heating up, toss shrimp with five-spice powder and a reasonable amount of salt and pepper. Heat up one or two tbsp olive oil in frying pan. Cook shrimp. Set aside.
THE BROTH (part 2):
Throw in sliced ginger root, snow peas, sliced mushrooms, lime juice, and soy sauce. Cook until veggies and noodles are done.
Put a few spinach leaves on the bottom of a bowl, add soup, places shrimp on top, and sprinkle with toasted nuts and seeds.

Wow. I have a new respect for food bloggers and cookbook writers. It's harder than it looks. This post has taken me forever to write! Hope you like it because I might never do a recipe post again.  :)


Excuse Me While I Attack the Laundry Situation

these clothes don't clean themselves.

I just dropped off 48 pounds of laundry to the wash & fold, along with my favorite dress that has orange marker all over it, and my king size comforter that one of my kids lovingly pissed all over. Weeks ago! I am also using 8 machines in my apartment's basement (4 washers, 4 dryers) because I was too embarrassed to bring so much clothes to the wash & fold. #richworldproblems

Later dudes!


Julianne Moore Hates Her Freckles

Last weekend, The Moms invited Ella and me to see Strawberry Freckleface the Musical. And guess who showed for questions when it was over? None other than Julianne Moore! Her book Freckleface Strawberry was the inspiration for the musical. Have you read it?

While answering questions, Julianne was absolutely genuine, friendly, and STUNNING.  She admitted that she still hates her freckles, but has a "you get what you get and you don't have a fit" attitude about the whole thing. I've had to do the same with the gap in my front teeth.  And my nose. And that patch of insainly frizzy hair in the back of head. And the scary stretch marks on my belly from the boys (they were over  6 pounds each!). I have four to Julianne's one, but who's counting? Ha. Do you have something about your looks that you hate, but have gotten over? It's hard to imagine that someone as beautiful as Julianne Moore finds physical things that she doesn't like about herself. I guess we all struggle with it.

More About the Q&A: I stopped Ella in her tracks when I saw her headed to the stage to ask Julianne a question. "Wait," I asked, "What are you going to ask her?" Elle responded confidently, "I'm going to ask her how she got freckles." Seemed reasonable enough, so I let her get inline.

When it came time for Ella to ask her question on stage, my friend Rebecca and her family joined Ella. They all took turns asking questions. Julianne laughed at Ella's question and gave a very kid friendly, yet, scientific answer about the melanocortin-1 receptor MC1R gene variant or something like that. I loved her answer! I only wish I would have recorded it! Bummer. Oh well. Next time. If there's one thing I've learned about living in NYC, there's always a next time. Once in a life time experiences don't really exist here. Oh I can sound like such an elitist sometimes. But it's true! NYC is the best.

Thanks to The Moms for inviting us! And FYI: my friend Rebecca Martin (seen above) is looking for interns to help with the upcoming NY Baby Show! You can get some great event planning exsperience. Email her for details.


Happy Valentines Day

 When I saw these flowers, I almost cried. Rob brought them home for me last night after work. I have never received a more beautiful bouquet of flowers. I took a million pictures of them so they could last forever. Thank you so much, Rob! Happy Valentine's Day.

He bought the arrangement from a flower pop-up shop in Nolita. Thanks for the tip Joanna!


From the Archives

This was a good day. We should go back.


Financial Friday: Update

This month we made a budget and have been keeping track of our daily expenses. Here's the first update.

The good news:
My husband is in sales, so this month instead of blowing his commission check on junk or a fabulous European vacation, we paid off a huge chunk of our credit card debt. We thought it would be a good way to kick start our new lifestyle! That, coupled with a few other things we've gotten rid of (bye bye cable) we have cut this month's expenses by $552! Yay!

Now the bad news:
Here's a few examples of where we are at on Day 10:
We've spent . . .
83% of our General Merchandise Budget
77% of our Entertainment Budget
47% of our Grocery Budget
43% of our Restaurant Budget
16% of our Laundry Cleaning Budget

If we continue this way, we certainly aren't going to make any real progress on our outstanding debt, and have a huge pile of dirty smelly laundry. I'm feeling disappointed and embarrassed of our spending habits. I didn't even think we were spending that much!

The good news is the month isn't over and we haven't hit 100% in any categories! I have a fridge full of groceries. I have enough toilet paper, detergent, paper towels (bad habit), and soap to last us the month. I'm giving us five days to get back on track. Five days is nothing! Only problem is that Valentines day falls in that time period, and I forgot to budget for that. But it's ok. I'll just have rush deliver these sexy pink fuzzy handcuffs! Solves that problem on so many levels for only $3.29!

But seriously, once you started keeping a budget, how long did it take for you to actually accomplish your spending goals? Did it take you a month or two to figure it out? Or are we just over spending idiots?

Have a good weekend!

This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link. 


Sleep According to Holden Caulfield

"Anyway, I went into D.B.'s room quiet as hell, and turned on the lamp on the desk. Old Phoebe didn't even wake up. When the light was on and all, I sort of looked at her for a while. She was laying there asleep, with her face sort of on the side of the pillow. She had her mouth way open. It's funny. You take adults, they look lousy when they're asleep and they have their mouths way open, but kids don't. Kids look alright. They can even have spit all over the pillow and they still look alright."
-From The Catcher in the Rye

I got a call from the school nurse to pick up Ella today. Sick day! As she fell asleep on the couch watching Bob the Builder, all I could think about was the moment in The Catcher in the Rye when Holden watches his little sister Phoebe sleep. I love that part.

For years, The Catcher in the Rye was my favorite book. But when I learned it was a sort of a cliche answer, I started making up new obscure favorites! It worked out so well, that I started doing it with everything. Annie Hall was no longer my favorite movie. My So-Called Life was no longer my favorite show. Bob Dylan was no longer my favorite musician. At least not if anyone asked me! Oh how intellectual and interesting I must have sounded to name an oddball book, movie, show, or band!

I picked up a copy The Catcher in the Rye from the library today so I could find that passage. Owen and Oscar joined me. After I found the part I was looking for, I started reading the book from the beginning. I haven't read it for years.  It's weird and wonderful to read it from a NY parent's perspective. I continued reading it while my boys played on the train track carpet in the children's department of the library. I couldn't help but feel like my life was just about perfect in that moment. Obvious choice or not, it's by far my favorite book.

What are your (albeit obvious) favorites?

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. 

Winter's (almost) End

By this time of year, NYC has been littered with all my kids hats and mittens. You know what I say to my kids? Hood up! Hands in pockets! I don't want to hear any complaining!

Yet--I can only get so mad at them for losing all their winter gear. I'm just as bad.  I'm particularly good at losing umbrellas.  Time to stock up on winter accessories again. Seen any good sales? All the stores seem to be getting all springy on me.

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