Friday, December 28, 2012

Steppin' Out in Style

Dear Readers,

Christmas is behind us and we all know what that means: post-Holiday sales!  This is ideal if you perhaps over-indulged a little too much and need something "slimming" or if you didn't make it to the "nice" list - but who cares when you can snap up those Tiffany earrings you coveted for 50% off?  Hooray!  Also if you made any purchases over the Holidays thinking they would be ideal for all your shin-digs but in reality never left your closet, now is the perfect time to exchange (making it imperative that you always, always keep receipts when Christmas shopping for yourself and others as no sales associate will believe you paid full price without one).

So it was that I was returning a top to Ann Taylor that I really thought would make me look like Holly Golightly but in the light of day was a fuzzy, frumpy mess of a shirt.  Someday I'll learn not to impulse shop after having cocktails.  Anyhow, when I was in AT I saw that my absolute fav work/dress shoes were on sale!  AT's Perfect Pumps are, indeed, perfection: flattering, beautifully classic, and little sexy but totally work appropriate every woman should at a minimum own one pair of the patent leather high pumps in black.  In fact, I wear mine so much in the winter especially that I had my shoe man add some non-skid pads to the bottom so they would both not slip in the ice/snow and last longer (leather soles just don't hold up with inclimate wear).  They are incredibly, nay uncannily similar to Christian Louboutin's Simple Leather Pumps but $500 cheaper (which means you get to buy more!).

What are you waiting for?  Go online for the best selection and snap these up!  You will thank me.

Merry New Year!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Prime Time

Dear Readers,

A few years ago, pre-Muffin, my husband and I rented a place near the lake for Christmas with my family.  I offered to make dinner and my Dad said "I don't want turkey or ham.  Let's do prime rib"  OK.  Now if you know me, you know that I'm not a "chef" in the tradition of Julia Child.  Key selling points for me when looking at a recipe are words like, "easy," "fast," "simple," and "just pop it in the oven."  Also, as a past Vegan I'm just not a big red meat eater and generally never prepare beef for myself.  My "kitchen staples" include garbanzo beans, broccoli, couscous, hot sauce, chocolate chips, marshmallows and bread.

So it was with trepidation that I purchased a very large cut of prime rib at Whole Foods, armed with an Ina Garten recipe I'd found online.  I trust and respect Ina for reasons I'm not entirely clear on.  Perhaps it's because she's chubby, so I believe she really loves food and eats what she prepares in real life.  Or maybe it's because I wish I could emulate how stylish and planful her meals are: special lunches for visitors to take with them to the beach, festive summer fish bakes with friends on the seashore, or a cozy and extensive dinner for just she and Jeffrey.  I aspire to be a skinny Ina, or Ina's sassier younger sister.

Anyhow, the prime rib cost something outrageous and all I could think was "I'm about to burn over a hundred dollars worth of food and ruin Christmas and we're basically snowed in so we're going to starve."  Au contraire.  I followed Ina's recipe to the "T" and received the following (uncommon and never bestowed) compliment from my Godfather: "This is delicious and perfectly done."  Ha!  In the end, I did not ruin the meat, Christmas was perfection, and in truth I'd bought so much food we would have survived until spring anyhow, but seriously: If I can do it, so can you.

Here's the infamous (and now "traditional Christmas") recipe for perfect prime rib and the best mustard sauce ever.  Serve, as we do, with mashed potatoes with chives and a simple green salad.  Seriously, how easy is that?

Merry Christmas!!

Ina's Perfect Rib Roast 

Ingredients
  • 1 (3-rib) standing rib roast (7 to 8 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Mustard Horseradish Sauce, recipe follows
Directions
  • 1 1/2 cups good mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Two hours before roasting, remove the meat from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (see note).
Place the oven rack on the second lowest position.
Place the roast in a pan large enough to hold it comfortably, bone-side down, and spread the top thickly with the salt and pepper. Roast the meat for 45 minutes. Without removing the meat from the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and roast for another 30 minutes. Finally, increase the temperature to 450 degrees F and roast for another 15 to 30 minutes, until the internal temperature of the meat is 125 degrees F. (Be sure the thermometer is exactly in the center of the roast.) The total cooking time will be between 1 1/2 and 1 3/4 hours. Meanwhile, make the sauce.
Remove the roast from the oven and transfer it to a cutting board. Cover it tightly with aluminum foil and allow the meat to rest for 20 minutes. Carve and serve with the sauce.
Note: Be sure your oven is very clean before setting it at 500 degrees F.
Mustard Horseradish Sauce:
Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish, sour cream, and salt in a small bowl.
Serve and enjoy!!



Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's a Keeper!

Dear Readers,

Often, I'll find something I love on a website but don't buy it instantly (this really does happen).  It's either clever but not necessary, or something I want but want as a gift, or want but need to think about, or think is perfect for a friend but their birthday isn't for 6 months, etc. etc.  Anyhow, I end up "saving" the web page to my bookmarks only to find these now expired links again in 2 years when I decide to clean up my browser.  True story:  only recently did I delete all my wedding websites from my bookmarks on my work computer. And Sweetie and I will be celebrating our 6th anniversary next May (I know; I was a child bride).

Anyhow, today I discovered a wonderful new (to me) website called Keep.com.  Clothes, nick-nacks, gifts, face cream....basically everything you want in one place.  But what makes Keep exciting is that it allows you to create "collections" so you never lose your wonderful finds. It's like Pintrest for shopping!  And it's fabulously curated with tons of nifty, chic items you want/need/covet/have-never-even-heard-of-but -love with surprising price points (some surprisingly high, some surprisingly low!).  I myself set up an entire collection of items under "Covet" that I hope to purchase just as soon as I win the lottery (like this from Tory) and a "Me" section for a bunch of sassy, affordable items I want tomorrow (like this little beauty!).  Now when someone says "what do you want for your birthday?" I need only direct them to Keep.  And when I need a gift for any occasion or person, I know where to look.  It's genius!

Thank you, Internet Gods, for again devising even better ways to help me shop.  I only wish I'd known about it earlier in December!





Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fresh Mint

Dear Readers,

This year, I decided to go a new route with our annual Christmas photo card.  We have always used Shutterfly, which we love (especially with their updated photo album site), but this year I decided to branch out and use Minted.com.  The real reason is because Sweetie and I have an ongoing "discussion" regarding whether to put one fantastic photo on the card (my vote) or ten (Sweetie's vote).  Then I received a beautiful card from a friend using Minted with one great photo on the front and several smaller ones on the back and I thought "OK: Now we're talking!"

After using Minted's site, a few fun things to note: 1) the designs are fresh and truly fabulous and far more inventive than, say, a digital snowman background; 2) most cards have a lot of customizable options from the edging to what you want on the back of the card (words, photos, patterns, etc.); and 3) they offer a free service to print your recipient addresses on the cards FOR YOU.  What?!!?  Yes.  I mean, I'm not so organized that I could actually use that option this year, but how wonderful!  Now I really do need to put all our addresses into Excel like I've promised I would for....oh, never mind.

Anyhow, bottom line: Minted is fresh and solves many of the dilemmas we all have when selecting a stock Holiday card.  Now you can include a note (or not), share a lot of photos (or not), and send something truly beautiful and personal that you put together in a snap.  Hoorah!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Positive Shift

Dear Readers,

Getting ready for work can be a challenge.  You want to look polished, young, fashionable and exec-worthy.  But you want to feel comfortable.  And preferably, skinny.  My solution is and always has been The Work Dress.  No having to find pants/tops/jackets/etc. in a rush.  Just toss on the right dress with a great pair of heels and some lipstick and you're set for work, parties, pictures, you name it.  Day to night you look fab and ready to rock.

Sadly, since having Muffin some of my fantastic fitted Work Dresses aren't really flattering (ie they look like sausage casing).  It's unfortunate on a number of levels, but it's reality.  Someone said "after you have children your body re-arranges" and I think that's true.  I always had a smaller upper body which enabled me to wear "fit and flare" styles with ease.  Now I need a little more "give" in the middle section.  Against these odds, I still want to look like a stylish Mama.

Lucky for me, a shift/shirt dress is always in. Even MORE lucky is that The Gap (remember The Gap?  we used to shop there in high school) has had a bunch of fantastic work-appropriate, comfortable and quick shift-ish dresses recently for very reasonable Gap-like prices.  Plus, The Gap is constantly running sales making these dresses even more affordable (which is great because in a few months I'm donating each and every one of these when Mama gets her body back).

So there you have it: the perfect solution to all post-baby/non-ideal body closet moments! It's a closet miracle.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Gift of Small Things

Dear Readers,

In the wake of the tragedy in Connecticut I have found myself overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed by the news, overwhelmed by the loss, and overwhelmed by questions.  More than anything though, I have found myself overwhelmed by the idea: what if that happened to me?  But then I know, the truth is we could lose anyone in our lives in the blink of an eye.  Our time together is precious.

Yesterday, I had a list of things I wanted to "accomplish."  Instead, inspired by an upcoming cookie party, I spent the day cooking and enjoying my family.  I made scones for breakfast (the kind you just add water to that I'd won at a baby shower), my favorite turkey chili for dinner and about five dozen Christmas sugar cookies to share with friends.

The cooking spread out over the entire day.  The highlights of the day were: Muffin "singing along" to the hymns at Church; Muffin learning how to bounce (and bounce and bounce) on his new "bounce and ride" toy; feeling his little body breathing against mine in the ErgoBaby as I stamped out Christmas cookies and mixed batches of ice-blue icing; and just enjoying some down time with Sweetie as we worked around the house and loved little Muffin.

If I could pick a perfect day, it would be yesterday.  I am thankful for the good, and grateful for the gift of family and home.  May we all be so lucky.

Sugar Cookies for the Soul

1 1/2 cups of butter, softened
2 cups of white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
5 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt

Directions:
Cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Stir in flour, baking powder and salt.  Cover and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 400.  Roll out dough on a floured surface.  Cut into shapes.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes (watch them carefully!).

After they cool, ice with this classic icing, with or without food color added (I chose ice blue and sprinkled the cookies with coconut that looked like snow):

1 cup of powdered sugar
2 teaspoons of milk
2 teaspoons of corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
*adjust amounts for desired consistency and taste

ENJOY (everything)!








Thursday, December 13, 2012

Daily Steal: Wine to GO!

Everyone knows Moms need lots of coffee (good morning!  It's 5am!) and lots of wine (OMG what a day...).  So what could be better than wine tote!  No breakage, no spilling, no having to carry around wine in a box.  YES!

Shesteals.com (babysteals Mama), you ROCK!  High five!





Sock It To Me

Dear Readers,

I am not a baby clothing snob.  You'd think I might be, but my criteria is really "is it cute?" and "is it reasonable?" because Muffin doesn't wear things that long.  So, despite my undying love of everything that Jacadi makes, Muffin owns very few "investment" pieces because, well, he's a baby.

In that vein, I'd like to give a shout-out to the Little Bundles socks from Old Navy.  Muffin owns many glam pairs of socks and shoes.  But truly, the best of the best are these basic Old Navy socks.  Warm, thick, with sticky tread on the bottom they stand out for one big reason: they stay on!  And since Muffin has little muffin feet (they look like little apples...it's hilarious), most of his pricey little baby shoes won't go on.  And since he's super active these days crawling and walking all over the house, most of his socks fall off.

So there you have it!  Gotta love simple, inexpensive solutions as a parent.

Happy Almost Friday!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Whole New World

Dear Readers,

Recently, a quote I find myself thinking of a lot is "Begin as you intend to go on."  I got that from Tracy Hogg, the "Babywhisperer."  She's an advocate of not engaging in what she calls "accidental parenting" ie doing things because they're easy (at the moment) without thinking through what you're really getting yourself into.  This applies to parenting as much as life.  Accidental life?  Things being tossed together "just this once?"  I hear you!

But listen: The thing I loved so much about The Secrets of the Babywhisperer book was how sweet "The Hogg" was to us moms (in addition to giving us some real and concrete help).  Listen, Chicken, being a mom is no easy task.  It's a WONDERFUL task, but it's no cake walk.  Some days you're just tired and you think "I'll just let Baby do this this one time" or "Once this thing is over at work I'll get back to exercising and eating right."  But before you know it, it's a daily habit, and you've created quite the bad situation that really doesn't work for you.  It's ok!  Realizing a change may need to be made is a good thing.  It means you're paying attention.  And it's the first step towards a new beginning.

So bottom line: Remember tomorrow is another day.  It doesn't matter when you begin, but whenever it is begin (again) as you intend to go on.  And life will be wonderful.

Bisous!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Steal of the Day: ERGO BABY

The Ergobaby is on sale on babysteals.com today!!  BUY ONE if you are expecting or have a friend who is expecting!!

If I could go back in time and buy only one piece of baby gear, it would probably be my Ergobaby.  Muffin can hang out, nap, hang out, nap all while Mommy and Daddy do amazing, normal things like spend time with friends, go to a BBQ, enjoy a late night by the campfire....it is just a life saver for the baby and the parent.  You get to enjoy your baby and your life and your baby never misses a nap or a moment with you.  Are you sold yet?  And it's almost 50% off on Babysteals today only.  Parfait!


Magic Beans

Dear Readers,

My husband is obsessed with documentaries.  Obsessed.  It's pretty much the only thing Sweetie watches on Netflix.  And let me tell you - there are just so many.  The theme of his favorite docs is sustainability and why  on our current path we are ruining the earth and our health.  It's really uplifting.  But, some of these documentaries that focus on food caught my attention.  As you may have surmised, I am constantly thinking about what to eat just about as much as I think about what to wear.

Like so many, I have a love/hate relationship with food.  Love because I love food.  Hate, because it prevents me from wearing things like this.  Recently I've been changing my diet so much it's making my head spin.  However, a few documentaries recently got me thinking: why did I give up my (mostly) vegan lifestyle, especially because I was so skinny back then?  Should I go back?  Should I take my family with me?  The answer appears to be "yes."

I know - it's trendy.  Bill Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres and all kinds of celebrities are vegan and won't shut up about it.  But you have to admit - Bill looks better than he has, well, ever.  I mean, that could be me - the younger Vegan Fox.  And on top of the aesthetic/clotheshorse value, there is a sincere personal and worldwide health benefit to consuming less or no animal products.  Plus there is an animal rights, non-violence aspect that makes my Eugene, Oregon heart go pitter-pat.  We all know Ghandi was vegetarian, but did you know that Rosa Parks was too?  Or that Coretta Scott King was vegan?  It makes you think.

So anyhow, blah blah blah....but out of all this has come some fun culinary finds, including the following super easy, super fast, super healthy Cuban Black Bean Soup adapted from Forks Over Knives website (Wonderful documentary!  Another great one is Vegucated, if you're interested).  It takes just minutes, making it ideal for any modern lifestyle.

Ingredients (for two servings): 
• ½ small onion, chopped
• 1 ½ teaspoon chili powder,
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 ½ cup vegetable broth
• ¼ cup prepared salsa
• 1 ½ teaspoon lime juice
• 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (garnish)
• 1–2 green onions, sliced (garnish)
Instructions:
Line a skillet with a thin layer of water (or vegetable broth).
Sauté onion over high heat until translucent— about 2–3 minutes.
Add chili powder and cumin, and stir to combine.
Then add beans, vegetable broth, and salsa.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.
Use a hand blender or transfer half of the mixture to a blender and puree until mostly smooth and then mix back in.
Garnish with cilantro, green onions, and avocado.
You can also drizzle with hot sauce and/or sour cream (try Toffutti!) to taste, if desired.  
¡Buen apetito! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

The 5 Minute Pedi

Dear Readers,

Sometimes I feel like my life is a circus of baby, work, friends, and wine.  This time of year is definitely no exception.  If you are like me, you plan to get a mani/pedi every two weeks, maybe at lunch.  Then, suddenly it's time to attend a black tie event and you realize it's been forever, your feet are a disaster, you can only wear super hot strappy heels with your dress, and you have to leave in 5 minutes.

Never fear!  Here is my tried and true 5 minute pedi solution:

Remove old nail polish/trim nails
Attack your feet with a PedEgg
Smooth everything out with a foot file
Apply lotion, or my fav Heel-Tastic (you can apply hands-free - so much cleaner)
Toss on a fresh coat of nail polish (my go-to in such scenarios is Sally Hanson's Insta-Dri)
Throw on your dancing shoes and go!  Nobody will ever be the wiser (or if they are, place them on the "dis-invite" list for the future).

Happy Monday:)

PS:  All "as seen on TV" items such as the PedEgg and Heel-Tastic can be found in most grocery stores and drug stores (sometimes in a special section).

Friday, December 7, 2012

Booties for All!

Dear Readers,

I have struggled for quite some time re: booties.  I know they're in.  I think they're super cute.  I'm convinced I need them and yet I cannot find the right pair.  I see them on others, decide for sure I love them, buy a pair, take them home and then.....stare at myself in the mirror.  Keep staring.  Eventually I say to myself (aloud) "if you're thinking that hard about them the answer is no!"  I had a friend once who said "you and I shop too much to be lukewarm about our purchases."  I mean, I did shop more then (yes, seriously) but she nevertheless was, and remains, correct.

So what is it??  I start to believe booties and I are just not meant to be and then I see them AGAIN on some stylish girl and so I AGAIN try to make them work to no avail.  Am I just not fashion forward enough?  Am I just not wearing them right?  WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?????

So anyhow.  Stress.  Strife.  Sadness.  And then, a discovery:  Solesociety.com.  All the cute/young/hip style bloggers are always wearing their stuff.  So I figured, why not check it out?  Low!  Super trendy, super cute, inexpensive and free shipping both ways (the Holy Grail of websites in my book!).

What is it, you ask?  Well, it's basically an improved version of Shoedazzle with slightly higher prices but much better shoes.  And for things like booties which are not timeless (they're not, I'm sorry), why spend $300 on a pair or even $100 when you could spend $49.99 on a great pair, wear them out this winter and have no qualms whatsoever tossing them in garbage come spring.  Also great for: bridesmaid shoes, statement shoes, shoes that will go with only one dress but will make that dress fabulous, etc. etc.

The possibilities are literally endless!  Shoes for all!  Hoorah!!


Detox Friday

Dear Readers,

It's only December 7th and already I feel like I need a detox from the Holiday Fun.  If you share my feelings, or just want something to wash down all those cookies and candy canes, look no further.

Tracy Anderson's Beet/Kale/Whatever Vitamin Juice Drink

Juice the following:  2 bunches of kale, 3 handfuls of spinach, 2 apples, and 1 beet (peeled).
Makes 2-3 servings of a festive red and green juice drink (And it's good!  I promise.)

Drink it when you rise.  Feel virtuous enough to enjoy cocktail weenies and some nog all weekend-long.

To your health!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

An Anytime Feast

Dear Readers,

Recently the weather has been chilly and my mornings, and nights, are dark.  Muffin has decided that the ideal time to awaken is somewhere between 4 and 5am.  He's a great sleeper, going to bed without fail around 7pm every night with no fuss.  Unfortunately, Mommy and Daddy do not go to sleep at 7pm too.  Alas.  But trying to fit in Muffin time, work and meals without wanting to give up and eat takeout every night requires some doing.  My "lazy week" solution is quiche.

Quiche is an "anytime" food, but with its francophile roots feels more Continental than a "casserole."  And it lasts for days and is glorious right out of the fridge, zotted for a minute in the micro.  Breakfast?  Yes, please.  Lunch?  Perfect.  Dinner?  Ah....  It's also a clever way to use up those veggies you meant to make a few days ago and tastes wonderful when paired with a simple salad (See?  It's a health food).

So, you have options.  You can go crustless if you're doing the "no bread diet" still, but seriously, that's so 2007.  My favorite option is to buy two pie crusts in the frozen section, bake them and fill them with whatever I have - spinach, asparagus, ham, bacon, squash, cheese, whatever.  That way we have multiple meals for multiple days or a second quiche to give a friend (quiche is a great new baby meal because it keeps and can be eaten any time of day or, more likely, night).

Here's a basic recipe I adapted.  Get creative with your fillings!

2 pie crusts
2 cups of swiss cheese
Fillings of your choice: enough to cover the bottom of the pie crust
4-6 eggs and 4-6 egg yokes (depending on the depth of your pie crust)
3 cups of milk (classic recipes call for half and half...use what you want)
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper

Bake pie crusts per directions (failure to do this results in soggy crust - not terrible, but not ideal)

Preheat oven to 375

Place quiche fillings in the bottom of the baked pie crusts (my favorite is bacon and spinach).  Layer cheese over the top, putting approximately one cup in each pie crust.

Beat eggs, milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.  Pour evenly over each pie crust.  Use spoon to push fillings down and to even out the egg mixture.

Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Enjoy!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Steal of the Week

Now that we're post-swaddling, Muffin and I LOVE the Aden + Anais sleep sacks.  He has some single-layer ones for summer and warmer day naps and these 3 layer ones on sale today on babysteals.com for cooler days .  If you have a baby shower coming up just trust me and buy these (in multiples at these prices).  Your friend, and her baby, will thank you!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bauble Me

Dear Readers,

I love accessories, but tend to take the old "put everything on and take one thing off" advice to an extreme level of prudence.  Recently, it's been more like "put everything on and only leave on your pearl or diamond earrings."  Part of it is that I type most of my work days, so bracelets annoy me.  And Muffin, who loves all things shiny, enjoys testing just how well-constructed my dangly earrings and necklaces are, so studs it is.

Still.  Boring.

Then, I was reading one of my fav blogs, Mrs. Lilian, and among all her ab fab glitz and glam (reading her blog is really a HUGE lift to any day) she has a lot of fabulous baubles from baublebar.com.  I decided to check out the site (why not?) and low!  Fabulous AND cheap!  Not one to miss out on such grand style for so little, I immediately checked out everything BaubleBar had to offer and boy am I glad I did.  So much chic for so little cash makes my heart flutter with the possibilities.  And with the holidays here I've got more than a few events coming up that require (honestly they do) some really fun statement pieces.  Done and done!  Now, I cannot WAIT to receive my baubles in the mail!  Lookout, World!  Mama's got some new ice.




Friday, November 30, 2012

Smooth Sailing

Dear Readers,

A while back leggings became a staple in my wardrobe.  They're comfy, easy, and chic paired with flats or boots and a long-ish top or short dress (no, leggings do not replace pants - see image below if you're confused about this).  Especially now that I'm a mom and spend a lot of time on the floor and bending over I appreciate having something on that doesn't require a whole lot of adjustment that moves with me.  However, one thing kept leggings from being my one true wardrobe love - waistband muffin top.

Now, while Muffin himself is the cutest baby on the entire planet, "muffin" of the mid-waist variety is the exact opposite of cute.  When I was pregnant I had some Be Maternity leggings that went all the way up to my bra line that I 1000% loved.  I even tried to keep wearing them after Muffin was born, but low-rider leggings are potentially even less cute than tight, muffin-top leggings so I grudgingly stopped.  And then I found miracle leggings made by every woman's frennemie: Spanx!

First, trust me you don't want to rip them off an hour into wearing them like most Spanx products.  The "Look-at-me High Waisted Leggings" go up to the bra line and down to your ankles. These opaque leggings smooth you out while remaining comfy.  Yes, they're a small fortune ($72 for leggings?!) but they're worth it in my book.  No yanking to keep them up, no concerns of what you look like in certain tops (especially from behind), just smooth black leggings that stay up all day long.  Simply put, these leggings offer peace of mind.  And THAT makes these leggings (or even two pair!) totally worth it.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Winged Victory

Dear Readers,

I am married to a man who could take or leave many things but loves specialty beer, liquor, wine and all the accouterments with the passion I reserve for designer handbags and shoes. Every foreign trip requires the purchase of at least one local specialty drink as a momento.  And they are...special.  Sweetie conducts large scale tastings of these finds late into our evening parties.  The net result is a lot of very intoxicated friends starring blurry-eyed at my husband while he happily goes on and on about where he found these bottles, how the locals drink them and what he thinks are the important things to notice.

My first Christmas gift to my husband was some Calvados and a personalized decanter.  We had met in Europe and everywhere we went he asked if they had Calvados.   I swear, he teared up a little when he opened the gift and was speechless for a second (realizing, of course, he'd met his soul mate, clearly).  Every year I hope to get him something misty-worthy, and I always strike out.  UNTIL NOW.  Enter: Wingtip.com.

Wingtip is a fantastic men's store curated for "the modern gentlemen."  The items are wonderfully organized with, obviously, a whole section devoted to wine and spirits.  Behold!  A pewter-mounted drinking horn!  An ice ball press (I know, I'd never seen one before either)!  A wine aroma master kit!  It's just so.....Sweetie.  They even have an interactive gift guide!  So, if your man is like mine, a "modern gentlemen" who would get a big kick out of something so super fabulous and fine, well, You're Welcome.  Christmas, complete.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hot Stuff

Dear Readers,

In our house, there is a lot of negotiating.  I blame this on the fact I married another lawyer.  We both negotiate and poke holes in other people's arguments for a living, so why not continue the fun at home?  There is a lot of "Hey, I'll do the dishes if you walk the dog" or "I'll put Muffin to bed if you start dinner."  Usually, one of us is offering to do what we're in the middle of doing anyhow.  But by suggesting everything is tit for tat, the other feels like a cad if they don't step up.  Hey, whatever works, right?

Last night while we were decorating our enormous Christmas tree we cut down ourselves.  It's seriously 20 feet tall and quite the undertaking. Sweetie said "If you'll sweep up the pine needles I'll make us hot toddies."  My husband makes the best hot toddies in the whole world, so I agreed.  I would agree to do many things for one and he knows it.  Well played, sir.

Anyhow, as the evening wore on I offered to make a batch if he told me what's in one.  Turns out, it's actually not really a hot toddy so much as a spicy, wonderful hot whiskey drink.  Details, details.  Either way, now the secret recipe is all mine and I'm sharing it with you.  Best part?  It's SUPER easy!

Sweetie's Holiday "Hot Toddy" Recipe 

4 ounces of apple cider (I'm a sucker for Knudsen's)
2 ounces of sweet vermouth
2 ounces of whiskey (we used Maker's Mark)
Dash of bitters
Heat in your Pyrex for 1.5 minutes in the microwave
Serve with a cinnamon stick and enjoy!
*Makes two small servings or one big one
**Disclaimer: this goes down a little too easy, so drink with care

Merry imbibing!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nailed it!

Dear Readers,

I love fashion magazines and always will.  I honestly started buying Vogue in grade school.  Recently, however, being mid-makeover I've put a moratorium on clothing purchases.  More or less.  So I've turned my attention to my hair and nails.  My mid-length bob and short, recently-unmanicured hands were making me feel like a Frumpy Mommy.  However, I didn't want to go too far.  Being a Professional Mommy it's a tightrope between stylish and young and teenybop wannabe.

Then yesterday a client of mine had the cutest nails (maroon except for her ring finger which was a light silver sparkle) and it inspired me to try the different colored nail trend.  It's subtle if you have short nails but fun as long as you aren't in a jury trial.  You can even go more subtle by doing the same shade on all the fingers but adding a little clear sparkle over the fourth finger.  So many options, so many ways to make those fingers flying across that keyboard a little more festive.

Then there's the hair. The bob makes me feel like a middle-aged newscaster, but at the same time it's easy and it's always professional.  But then, after watching a million episodes of 30 Rock and reading Bossypants (fab) I figured if Liz Lemon can sport the trendy wavy curls so can I!  To avoid looking like Shirley Temple (a legit concern given the length of my hair) I invested in a Chi clampless curling wand.  These puppies are expensive, just like your fav ceramic flat iron, so check out Overstock and the like for deals.

Ok, for the how-to.  Styling was actually easier than I thought it would be.  Just split your hair in half at the ears.  Pin up the top half.  Starting on one side take one-inch sections and curl them away from your face. Then let down the top and repeat.  Comb your fingers through and set with a little spray.  Remember - you want it to look effortless.  The curls don't have to be perfect, but I HIGHLY recommend putting some smoothing serum on your ends lest you look like you just spent hours standing in the wind after taking out your sponge curlers.  I really like Schwarzkopf BC Bonacure Rescue Sealed Ends.

So there you have it.  Professional. Sassy. And Hot Mamma approved (see Beyonce, below).  Ta-da!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Fast Food, Revisited

Dear Readers,

This last week I was in Nebraska for Thanksgiving.  My husband's family lives in a small town there and every year we make the trek and every year I'm on a diet.  It doesn't occur to me that I'm a perpetual dieter until things like an annual trip come up and then I think "oh yeah this time last year I wasn't eating anything yellow."

Anyhow, the challenge is this: these trips really make it hard to stay on track because 1) it's very busy; 2) lots of time on the road and staying with others; 3) I don't want to be rude; and 4) the traditional Midwestern diet isn't Richard Simmons approved.  Add to that I now have Muffin, and this trip had "comfort food weight gain" written all over it.  Not so I vowed!  Not this year!

With my recent "makeover" momentum behind me, I was compelled to come up with a solution other than to just give in and give up in a pile of casseroles, cookies and veggies covered in marshmallow.  What I came up with is "The Catherine Travel Diet."  May it help you as it helped me!

Breakfast:

2 poached eggs and some fresh fruit or an egg white omelette with veggies.

Lunch:

A no sugar Think Thin bar and an apple or an orange (highly recommend the clementines this time of year!)

Dinner:

Chicken breast or fish baked or grilled, no oil, and veggies.

Snacks: Fresh fruit, veggies or wine (come on - you're on vacation!  But skip the beer or mixed drinks).

In a pinch - any meal, any time:

Catherine Tuna Salad: One can of water packed solid albacore tuna drained and mixed with a squeeze of lemon, a dash or two of hot sauce, some garlic salt and fresh pepper, a stalk or two of chopped celery and a quarter of an avocado.

I picked up the Think Thin bars, a bag of apples and a box of Clemintines, some avocados and some tuna at Whole Foods in Denver on our way to Nebraska.  I really did enjoy myself more knowing I had 10 Think Thin bars in my purse so I was ready no matter what the day brought our way.  In fact, I felt super smug about the whole thing until I got home and plowed headlong into some spicy Indian food out of sheer delight (rural NE isn't known for spicy, ethnic foods).  At least I'd been good up until then, right?

To your health!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Comfort is Key

Dear Readers,

Before Muffin was born people had a lot of parenting advice.  This annoyed me.  "Thanks, I've got this!" I kept thinking.  I'd been reading, after all.  I also thought, "billions of people do this - how hard can it be?"  I have a wonderful partner, I'm not stupid and I've bought every baby thing imaginable.  What more do we need?

Well.

Once Muffin arrived, I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.  Suddenly, all my norms were off.  I didn't know which way to turn, and I was sure everything I was doing was wrong.  Massive sleep deprivation and a heavy dose of postpartum anxiety (depressions' sneaky and less popular sister) didn't help.  My husband said "why don't you trust your instincts?"  I don't know.  Maybe because I didn't have any instincts left beyond fear, loving my baby without limit, and a feeling I was way in over my head.

Anyhow, I had some friends who did offer a little advice around that time and boy was I happy to receive it (in addition to some Paxil).  I'll pass along the best advice to you, because it really helped me:

Do what makes you comfortable.

Yep.  Seems simple, but hear me out.  There is a LOT of advice out there.  Books, blogs, friends, postmen, EVERYONE has a way they parent and a solid list of "musts."  Listen politely because you might learn something great.  But remember, the only rules are 1) love them; 2) feed them; and 3) keep them safe.  The rest is just details and personal preference.

The key is this: whatever it is you do, make sure it works for you and your baby so you can enjoy your little one and feel like yourself.  Cry it out?  It made me and Muffin hysterical.  Co-sleeping?  I was sure I'd smother Muffin in his sleep.  But somewhere between the extremes of Attachment Parenting and Babywise we found a very happy, comfortable method and routine that just felt right.  And suddenly, parenting was fabulous and the hazing was over.  In the end, I did follow my instincts and it worked.

So, just remember: If it feels right, do it.  If it doesn't, don't.  And if you need help, get help be it a book, a friend, a stranger or a counselor.  You'll find your stride and be a wonderful parent, I just know it.

Bon Parenting!



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

For Fab's Sake

Dear Readers,

I'm friends of friends of some very trendy New Yorkers who are much hipper than I.  Through their "likes" on Facebook I discovered a new site called fab.com.  Many of you probably already know about it, but since they don't sell baby things (that I know of....) it hasn't been on my radar.  That is, until I saw these fine t-shirts on there from Skip N' Whistle.

I personally love traditional Holiday sweaters.  I'm not talking ugly Christmas sweaters with the rhinestones, etc. but the traditional knit sweaters that look like you bought them in Bavaria.  Love.  So Ralph Lauren.  I always try to get my S.O. to wear one but he swears they're too hot.  All that standing by an open fire and yule nog makes sweaters too much to bear for some.  UNTIL NOW:



Enter, the Holiday Tee designed to look like a knit sweater!  And, for the really super cool and hipster among us, they have some, um...non-traditional prints too!



That too cool cousin?  Done.  Your sister's hipster boyfriend/whatever they are?  Sold.

The makers of this fine assortment of T-shirts, Skip n' Whistle, has a great website that sadly doesn't include their holiday looks.  They are fun though!  Check it out!

Hohoho -
C

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

'Tis the Season

Dear Readers,

It isn't even Thanksgiving yet and already I'm getting ready for Christmas!  I know, I know...one at a time.  Well, I've never been very good at not leaping ahead of myself when I'm excited, and that has nothing to do with the Holiday season.  This will be Muffin's first Christmas and I'm seriously beside myself with excitement.  Imagine - the carols, the stories, the food, the traditions - all for the first time!  Oh joy:)

So, to prepare for this amazing time of year, I've gone over the top in a big way.  I've ordered our family matching pajamas.  Oh yes.  You read that right.  Call the Nerd Police - there are some new offenders in town!  But seriously, when else can you be totally cheesy if not Christmas?

The good news is, I'm not the only one to have thought of this.  Oh no.  In fact, many, many websites cater to those of us who have visions of sugarplums in our heads and wish to have them on our matching footie pajamas.

Amazon.com of course has many different options (although, none really inspired me).  I ended up with some from Pajamagram.com.  Then, 5 seconds after placing the order, I decided I really should have ordered a different pattern.  Their customer service person was great!  She changed everything for me, easy-peasy.  The Company Store likewise has some adorable options.  So, check it out!  You too could have the most stellar Christmas morning photos of all time.

Bisous!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hey, Sugar!

Dear Readers,

Cold weather is officially here and we all know what that means: chapped lips.  Ew.  I know.  I hate even talking about it, but it's a fact of life.  I broke out my fab lip products and thought "I'm so happy I have you!"  The reason I have them close at hand is because last year when I was preggers my lips were terrible.  Given that the only decent parts of my body left were 1) my lips and 2) my ankles, I went to great lengths to protect both up to the bitter end.  Through trial and error I discovered some awesome products that of course I'll share with you!

1. Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment.  Sure, it costs as much as one to three bottles of wine (depending on your mood and pocketbook), but it's the best stuff around.  The clear works the absolute BEST.  Fresh makes a line of tinted lip treatments too, they just don't work as well (IMO - and that's all that counts).

2. Fresh Sugar Lip Polish.  Back in the day, The Body Shop made a great exfoliating chapstick.  No more.  But this Fresh Sugar Lip Polish tastes better anyhow and does the trick.  It's a little messy, and make sure to remove ALL lipstick before using, but it gets your lips soft, smooth and fabulous in no time.

3. It's called a toothbrush  I learned this trick from the late '80's sitcom about models, Living Dolls.  I think it lasted about 3 episodes, but what I learned endures: just use an old toothbrush on your lips after brushing your teeth and your lips will be like silk.  See?  The more you know....

4. FUTURO Compression trouser socks.  When my ankles started to swell, I about lost my you-know-what.  Was it not bad enough I had no clothing?  Now I REALLY had no clothing because all of my adorable maternity dresses were supported by a set of tree trunks.  I bought all kinds of compression hose, socks, and tights and they all were, basically, torture devices that forced you to workout to even get a toe in.  Then I discovered these trouser socks at WalMart and switched to wearing leggings, tall boots and tunics.  Thanks to these puppies, at the end with my fancy socks hidden inside my boots I felt every inch the preggo sex bomb (in my head).  These could also come in handy on long flights post-baby.

See?  With a few key products you've instantly got your sexy back!  Bring it on!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Dare to Dream: The Makeover Edition

Dear Readers,

Recently, while watching back episodes of Glee on Hulu (man I love Hulu and it is so not a waste of money), I was swept up in the Rachel and Kurt rapturous romp of reinvention and dream-following in NYC.  Then they broke into Vogue.com to try on dresses and SJP found them and didn't get mad, she just said "You had me at 'makeover.'" Then they started singing I felt like I did when I was little and watched Annie over and over and over and I was like, "I want a makeover and I want to follow my dreams too!!" (Side note, SJP got her start on Broadway in Annie.  And then she went on to SATC fabulosity.  Coincidence?  I think not.)

So this spurred the question: "what are my dreams?"  I mean, my life is pretty great.  I'm not on magazine covers or living in St. Tropez, but as life goes I kinda hit the "good life" jackpot.  So what's missing?  A little showbiz glitz and glamour.  And we all know what that means: MAKEOVER!

And so it has begun: my transformation from a "before" to an "after."  Oh yes yes yes - I'm not hideous now.  Not for a new mom living in the suburbs working a desk job with a shopping and fashion mag habit.  But let's face it - anytime someone qualifies "you look great" with "for a new mom" or "for [fill in the blank]" the makeover sequence should start.  And so it has!

"Can I get some music, please!"

This weekend, I received the Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis package and decided that I should look like Tracy prior to Muffin turning one, or before I turn 34, whichever.  Especially after I heard her speak on her videos and decided that she was super nice, we'd probably be girlfriends, and then she'd introduce me to Gwyneth and Gwyneth would agree I look so super fab that really I should be Tracy's new spokesperson.

Anyhow.  I'm 3 days in and I love it! It's working!  I'm essentially eating baby food (actually, I've been feeding some of it to Muffin, though he isn't that into the steamed carrots and parsnips, smart boy) and dancing my way thin.  Home workouts are fantastic as a working mom.  It isn't easy, but hey - beauty is pain.  And it's worth it, because as we all know a great makeover can change your entire life.  Just look at Annie.  That little minx danced, dressed and sang her way into the heart of a gaziillionaire.  I've already got my man, so what's next?  Exciting! Stay tuned!

What's your dream?


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fresh Start

Dear Reno Readers,

If you, like me, shop a lot you probably have a few things you no longer need/want/like in your closet.  And if you, like me and Mariah Carey have been a few sizes here lately, you may have even MORE you'd love to clear out.

Get a fresh start and help others get a fresh start!  Donate your new or used business attire to ProNet, a non-profit that helps people in need get the look to get the job.  Help the Nevada Bar Association Young Lawyers Section with their clothing drive for ProNet.

Donation location:

Gunderson Law Firm
3895 Warren Way
Reno, NV 89509
775-829-1222

Beautiful!


Sale Alert!

Dear Readers,

My fav RoSK blankets are on sale today on babysteals.com!  Originally $68 on sale for $34!

 It's the pouch kind, which would be AMAZING for using with a carrier or a stroller in these chilly temps.

You're welcome!!



Monday, November 5, 2012

Soup's On!

Dear Readers,

It is officially Fall and I couldn't be more excited about the return of warm drinks, sweaters and some yummy soup to end these chilly, beautiful days.  I always have big plans to make meals in my slow cooker this time of year, but let's get real: who is that prepared?  Mornings are fast enough without layering on the chopping and prep time.

The best option really is fabulous soup that is easy to make.  My husband and I made this over the weekend (we had a "Parent's Night" while Muffin stayed with his grandparents) and it was so yummy and easy I'd make it any night of the week. Perfect!


Ingredients
·         1 (2 to 3 pound) butternut squash, peeled and seeded (they sell this in the frozen food isle if you don’t have/want to deal with fresh)
·         3 tablespoons unsalted butter
·         1 medium onion, chopped
·         5 cups chicken stock
·         1 cup of white wine (or more, in or out of the soup)
·         Curry
·         Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Cut squash into 1-inch chunks. In large pot melt butter. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add squash and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in wine.  Puree with a hand blender (If you don't own one you should!  Life changing!). Stir and season with curry, salt, and pepper. Voila!
Serves 6-ish
Calories: 125-ish
Bon Appetit!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Having It All

Dear Readers,

Though this may shock you, there is one time I hate shopping.  I really do not like shopping for most men.  I say "most" because I adore shopping for my husband and baby.  Thanks to me, they have a steady stream of adorable outfits and useful gadgets flow their way which I like to think make their life complete.  But other than my boys, I find shopping for men a chore, and I hate for my favorite pastime to be anything but what it's intended to be: a fun form of escapism that provides the necessary costuming and stage design for the theatre of life.  Say what you will about shopping being frivolous, but I do firmly believe that the right dress and decor really can change your life.

Enter my father's birthday which comes directly before Christmas.  For the man who has everything and more means than I, what do you buy?  I have had my share of hits and misses.  But I do detest wasting money and giving people things they stack in their closet the requisite amount of time before donating.  So every year I scroll through multiple online "men's gifts" lists and find nothing for the man who has everything except a hobby that inspires kitsch and gifts (if only he were a golfer or binge drinker...).

Then, this year an unlikely and wonderful catalog appeared in our mail and solved all of my problems: Restoration Hardware (Also check the website here and here.  The website isn't as easy to navigate as the catalog - ahem, RH peeps).  Now, I enjoy Restoration Hardware.  They have some fun things, even if their color palate is more bland than baby rice cereal.  But they have some fantastic man gifts this year, stretching from practical to whimsical to nostalgic that made my heart flutter with relief.  Finally!  Men's gifts that didn't include pajamas, cologne or a $500 interesting but unnecessary gadget.  Hoorah!

So, for the difficult on your list, check it out.  Turns out, you really can have it all.  Shopping true love restored.




Thursday, November 1, 2012

Stoppit

Dear Readers,

A long time ago I read Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar."  In addition to the term "shock therapy" always reminding me of her, there was a line that I was really taken with.  It was a description of the experience of encountering something true, and it went something like "You open a door and the man standing there says he's your father, and despite the fact you've never met him before you know that he is."

Yeah, I know.  My, what a super sunny introduction!  But seriously, when I read that line I thought "I know what she's talking about" because I have that experience shopping.  You know - sometimes you run across things and instead of thinking "hmm....maybe that's me...maybe I could make that work" you find things that scream "I'M YOURS!"  And, being narcissistic as we all can be, anything that screams "I WAS DESIGNED FOR YOU!" requires immediate purchasing because how could you turn down anything so perfect?

So it was today when I ran across my new favorite website, cwonder.com.  The music swelled, time stood still and for a brief moment I stared thinking "where have you been all my life?"  Clothing, accessories, home items, everything is just "me."  Colorful, fun, classic but not boring, girly but not icky-sticky...Stoppit.  Be still my beating heart.

Visa card: get ready.  You're going to get some serious exercise in the next few months!


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fascinating!

Dear Readers,

Remember how fun Halloween used to be?  When you would spend weeks and weeks thinking about what you were going to be and how exciting it was to get all dressed up for school?  Well I do.  And it makes me a little sad that those days are past.

This year, despite coming up with what I thought was a tremendous idea for family Halloween costumes - Star Wars characters!  Me: Princess Leia; Hubby: Luke Skywalker; Baby: Yoda; Oscar, our chihuahua with a Napoleonic complex: Darth Vader - we in fact did not dress up.  Instead, I ordered Baby the equivalent of  a ham and cheese sandwich for a costume - a pumpkin costume from Carters.  Boring, serviceable, inoffensive.  Oh trust me, he looked completely adorable.  Anything on that baby is adorable, but it wasn't clever or unique.  In fact, nearly every, single baby on Facebook was wearing the exact same costume.  Alas.

One of the big reasons we didn't get into Halloween too much this year is that Baby is, well, 8 months old.  He doesn't "get" Halloween just yet.  All I've actually done to get in the spirit is buy candy, which I've selflessly been eating for the last week in an effort to spread Holiday cheer.  But, as I left for work today my mother came to the rescue.  She had kindly brought me a Halloween poncho (part Christmas sweater, part tree skirt, it truly is a sight to behold).  But she brought something else for herself that I loved - a Halloween fascinator!

YES.  Made popular in the States by the recent Royal Wedding, fascinators are all the rage!  And why not? They're whimsical, don't require the commitment of a full hat and yet provide all the flair you need to dress up any outfit.  I was sold the moment she tried it on. (And, let's be honest here, a little jealous.  How come I got the Mexican Fiesta Halloween Poncho?)

The brilliance is that all you need is a great fascinator and you're that cool, festive mom when you pair it with a flattering, all-black outfit.  Love it!  Etsy and Amazon have some fun options I'm considering.  Next year, I'll be ready, with bells (or webs, or whatever) on!

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Fierce and the Fabulous

Dear Readers,

When I was pregnant I got very tired sifting through maternity clothing designed for extras on Little House On the Prairie or Chloe Sevigny on Big Love.  I appreciate that pregnancy is not the time to experiment with wearing a fringed bra top and jorts, but I still wanted to look young and directional in something that did not feature tiny flower print or pastels.  In truth, when you feel like you may hurl in the shower, it's at least nice to know you have something cute waiting for you when you can finally make it into your closet and out the door.

Alas, these items didn't seem to exist unless you wanted to mortgage your house and buy out all of Isabella Oliver (and I did, I really, really did).  Unwilling to fully commit to financial ruin for the sake of fasion, I feared I would instead be relegated to sister wife looks and that all hope was lost when I discovered ASOS.  ASOS is like H&M, Zara and Forever 21 mixed with a few overpriced brands you can easily ignore.  It's fresh, trendy and mostly budget friendly clothing for women of all shapes and sizes, including the pregnant variety.  Now, a warning: I ordered many, many things and nearly all of it went back.  But with free shipping both ways (a blessing and a curse, truth be told) who cares?

The one dress I kept was an adorable maroon swing maternity dress that I wore to death with black tights and heels to work and parties, feeling fabulous and cute.  And now I'm considering a few of their winter, non-maternity dresses that hit all the "F's" for the upcoming Christmas Party Circuit - you know, flirty, fun, fierce and forgiving as it has been discovered egg nog and ham don't mix well with tight or low-cut (ahem, bandage dress wearers).  Another major bonus?  Though they don't have reviews, they do have a "Runway" tab, so you can see the clothing in action.  Genius!

What are you waiting for?  Check it out, and get your fierce on!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Sale Alert!

Petunia Pickle Bottom 60% off until Oct. 31, 2012!  Click here for great baby bags!


Move over, Martha!

Dear Readers,

A long, long time ago I enjoyed cooking.  Along with my two-hour daily workouts, healthy, fresh cooking evaporated from my daily repertoire sometime during law school.  As a result, all my husband has ever heard is me saying "Oh I used to workout and cook all the time!" but all he's actually ever experienced is an exhausted wife watching reality shows and suggesting he have cereal for dinner if he's so hungry.

Fast-forward to today and our baby is now eating solids.  Do I buy him baby food?  Only if we're travelling, and then only if it's organic.  That's right - I'm that annoying mother who makes food from organic veggies and (catch this) veggies from our very own garden.  Meanwhile, my husband and I are eating hummus on crackers left-over from some long-ago party with a side of old Halloween candy and a glass of cheap wine.  The discrepancy is not lost on me.  I saw this and realized that, horrors, someday very soon our baby would be eating with us and perhaps I could stand to bump up my food game as well.

Enter thefresh20.com.  A friend of mine turned me on to this fantastic website and I LOVE IT.  Decision overload is an issue for me, especially by the time I reach the grocery store and absolutely by the time I get home. What to buy?  I don't know.  What to make?  I don't care.  Now, I have a weekly shopping list of 20 items that makes 5 recipes.  So, along with a few staples in my pantry I can make easy homemade dinners every night in around 30 minutes! (toot! toot!)  They cleverly even have vegetarian and gluten-free subscriptions in addition to their "classic" recipe options.

The pluses are endless: shorter shopping time, cheaper grocery bills, less waste, healthier dinners, and an actual answer to "what's for dinner" instead of a snarky "I don't know - what are you making?"  Another plus - a return to loving to cook!  In the past few weeks I've made homemade enchilada sauce,  roasted my first two chickens (side note - even if it grosses you out you really do have to clean them out...), and even made chicken stock and tomato soup from scratch.

What's that you say?  Check out that overachieving Martha Stewart?  Well, there are still nights when I don't cook, and I truly believe that cereal is a viable dinner option.  But things are improving.  And that is truly a "good thing."



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Flying Solo

Dear Readers,

Recently, my 7 month old and I embarked on our first-ever mommy and baby commercial flight.  That's right - I flew solo.  We had already been on several successful trips with little one (sans commercial flying/security), so I  took a deep breath, hoped for the best and decided to buy a ticket and fly with a lap child.  To prepare, I read up on what the airlines required, Googled "flying with a baby" and figured this would be a challenge but, obviously, people do it all the time.

After a lot of agonizing, planning and debating, I did the following:  I booked us on Southwest for the 2 free checked bags, careful to select flights with good schedules.  I packed one big suitcase filled with (too) many things for the both of us and checked that along with baby's car seat.    My carry-on was a big diaper bag and the actual baby, who I strolled around in his travel stroller before gate checking said stroller.  I debated using our BOB, or placing him in his car seat attached to a stroller and gate checking all of that, but finally landed on using our Maclaren travel stroller since it's lightweight, easy to fold and, let's face it, if anything happened to it I'd be upset, but not "how DARE you!" upset.

On the day we left we got to the airport extra early and checked in with no problems.  We even got his baby boarding pass without having to show his birth certificate (which was good, since I couldn't find it the night before and came armed with his shots record instead after 3 long hours of trying to think where a sleep-deprived crazy new mother would have thought to put such a document).

Everything went well, but not everything went as expected.  So for those who have yet to fly commercially with a child, the following counts as my "unexpected" list of occurrences.  May it be helpful to you in the future when you too fly solo:

1.  Everyone was super nice.  Seriously.  Everyone from the TSA people to the passengers were super nice and helpful.  The thing is, almost everyone has children, somewhere, who they've traveled with, sometime.  As such, everyone seemed to see me and know "that woman needs us to be nice and helpful."  And they were right.  Belief in humanity restored.

2.  Your baby will spend time unattended.  Yes, that's right.  It's not bad parenting, it's the rules. I was trying to load everything onto the security scanner with one hand, but that was not working.  So I turned to the TSA monitor and asked her to hold my adorable 7 month old for a quick second while I loaded the stroller onto the conveyor belt.  The woman practically leaped backwards and said "We canNOT touch your child."  So I put baby on the floor, loaded everything up, retrieved him from whence he rolled, and walked through the body scanner.

3.  Unstrap for take-off.  I brought my Ergo baby carrier to carry baby around after I gate-checked my stroller, and so that he could sleep in it on the plane (he LOVES sleeping in the Ergo).   No can do. Several blogs I had read even said to skip the stroller and ONLY use a carrier.  (An idea; can be a little exhausting.)  The flight attendants were on me immediately to take the straps off for take-off and landing.  I seriously have no idea why, since if we crashed it's not like I'd be likely to think "thank goodness my child wasn't strapped to me" but those are the rules all the same.

4.  You are always stronger than you thought possible.  A long time ago I attended Arnold Schwarzenegger's inauguration as Governor of California.  I remember him trying to tie in his former Mr. Universe glory by saying "just like weight lifting, you are always stronger than you thought possible" and then saying something about lifting up "Cal-ee-forn-ia" to new heights.  Well, I, like the former governor, discovered that despite lifting nothing other than an infant and a fork these last 7 months was able to wear a sleeping child, drag an enormous suitcase, and push a tiny stroller laden with a large diaper bag with a precariously placed car seat quite a distance to meet my husband in a waiting car.  And if I can do it, trust me - you can do it too.

Bon Voyage!