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 

  • 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
  • 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  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  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

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! (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'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.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Steal of the Day: ERGO BABY

The Ergobaby is on sale on 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 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)
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:  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.


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 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  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.