When you commute between homes, have specific diet needs or feed children you find yourself bringing food back and forth and trying to maximize each trip to the market. When I plan for a weekend of entertaining, I love to cook things that make good leftovers and are easy to reinvent in the next dinner. I also plan my menus out in advance so that I can shop locally for any items that the town market won’t have and transport it on my way out of town.
The perfect accessories are coolers and containers. These are few of my favorites.
LLbean- the classic canvas tote, good for dry foods and walking the farmers market.
Flee a company I discovered when living in Boson, water resistant and super cute fabrics
Coleman, the Standard cooler made by a company that knows the outdoors
Crate & Barrel, sort of cheesy, but insulated and practical so you can’t argue with that.
Gladware Family Pack- Head to your BJs or Costco and pick up the Family Variety Pack….they are the best and don’t throw away the box it is so nice to grab the whole thing from the cabinet when it is cleanup time after a big meal.
There is nothing more fun that stationary. The art of writing letters to stay in touch is a thing of the past, but nothing beats the holidays when your mailbox is stuffed and the creativity of each piece showcases the personality of the sender. Because I haven’t lived in the same place for very long, I have invested in a few various stationers and I just love the process and result. In times like these, value is the most important consideration when purchasing a luxury item like stationary. This year I used, Etsy, my new favorite resource for “All things Handmade” I was able to have multiple artists bid, quote, and demonstrate their unique designs. I ended up with a product for ½ the price of Kate’s Paparie or Papyrus. Here are the final products.
To start the bidding process figure out what you are comfortable paying for your project and in my case I ordered, We’ve Moved Cards, Birthday Invitations and Return Address Labels. I figured a bulk order would give me more bargaining power and I am happy with the result. Check out Tucci’s shop at Etsy if you like her style.
After reading, watching and asking others with green thumbs how they do it, I decided to take a leap into planting over Memorial Day weekend. Being that my soil hasn’t been tested and there isn’t anything that seems to like to grow on the property I figured I would start out with container gardening. If you are living in the north east then it is still spring and you have time to plant both perennials and annuals.
I made a few visits to Lowes, Walmart, Home Depot and garden centers, but left with nothing. I was always unsure of what would work and not be a waste of $$$. I was also concerned for what I could care for and the quality of the plants. I had always heard that diseased plants come from chain stores and the only guarantee in buying plants was to buy them from a grower and have them plant them for you.
All my plants camp from Home Depot & 99% of my plants have survived the past 2 weeks, 1.5 fatalities and that was because I didn’t read that it needed full sunlight which I don’t have and the tomato plants in the topsy turvy are TBD. In addition to sunlight, a watering schedule, pots/ planters and deer are the other concerns I needed to understand before buying anything.
Here are some sources I consulted and here is what I ended up with…I’ll keep you posted on how they survive the summer.
Martha Stewart Show w/ Jerry Fritz of Linden Gardens Topic: Deer Resistant Gardens where Jerry coins the key to planting planters…always be symetrical and have a Thriller plant (Attention Grabber) a Filler (bulk) and a Spiller (flows over the sides), LOVE IT.
Garden Anywhere by Alys Fowler
Earth Easy: Raised garden beds, for those of you with property a friend of mine is composting and everything with the raised beds…Very Obama!
Upsidedown Tomatoes: Topsy Turvy, As seen on T.V.
White Flower Farm - Highly Recommended
http://www.northcreeknurseries.com/- Highly Recommended
Fun Pots/ Planters
In your 20s it is all about prevention so just be sure, if you are lucky enough to be in your 20s you wear sun screen. Now that I have bridged into the 30s category…it is important to exfoliate, generate collagen production and focus on hands & eyes. If you are 30 and not using an eye serums…you best begin now.
Here are some new products worth considering for the 30 somethings…
Clinique: Even Better Skin Tone Corrector, virtually undo the visible evidence of sun damage, dark patches, skin stresses, age spots, even the darkening that follows acne scarring. Gently create-for all ethnicities-brightness and clarity you thought long gone.
Nia 24: 2009 Indie Beauty Award Winner. Repairs Sun Damage & its effects
Olay: Pro-X Eye Restoration Complex is designed and professionally tested for the part of your face that communicates age the most: the delicate eye area. This treatment hydrates to restore the area to its optimum appearance by improving the look of crow’s feet. Massaging it in reduces excess fluids to diminish dark circles and puffiness.
Patrica Wexler: This gentle microdermabrasion system uses medical grade exfoliator alumina crystals to resurface skin. It also has the added, active benefits of MMPi and Niacyl™ for a dual impact on skin: exfoliation and rejuvenation.
Fresh: UMBRIAN CLAY FACE TREATMENT is a purifying multi-functional treatment with a neutralizing action that detoxifies the skin.
Not all that different from a regular cinema experience, except you are one of the first 1000 people to see the film and it costs $15 (+fees). Getting tix was made possible of AMEX Concierge. A feature that I am not aware if any other credit card has, but something I have now used a few times and just love!
I saw two films during the Tribeca Film Festival this year and both were in the same theater, AMC VII on 3rd Ave. The theater was small, but still smelled of popcorn and the seats were filled for each event.
First I saw, The Exploding Girl, a narrative about a college student home for a summer break in Brooklyn, NY. The movie was slow, but enjoyable. The love story between two teenagers was juvenile and chaotic, but reminded every audience member of their first “like” in life. The acting was good and the scenes were realistic. The directors, webpage.
Second I saw, Racing Dreams, a documentary about go-karting. Racing Dreams won the Tribeca Film Festival Award for Best Documentary. I learned that Jeff Gordon and other NASCAR racers got their start in go-karting and governed by the WKA it is becoming a more popular youth sport. The documentary followed 3 karters for 1 season and it was just sensational. The director, Marshall Curry took some questions after the film and everyone was mostly curious where the 3 kids are today. Watch the red carpet premier and meet the three stars. It has been 2 years since the first film footage was shot. I laughed hard and got teary eyed too. We went to dinner and talked all night about the 3 kids. It was a really great film. Want more…Clip
IFC- The independent film channel might be the best chance you have to see these films, so if they come across your t.v. stop and watch.
Courtesy of Carmella….aka “All Things Chocolate”
I got buttermilk for a bundt cake I made last week and needed to do something with it so after receiving 2 great cook books from a friend, I found a way to satisfy my sweet tooth and use the buttermilk. This is sooo Yummy, I made it in a smaller pan (8 x 12) so I had to cook it a little longer in the over, but it came out DENSE and so THICK. The best part is the icing that cools over top of the brownie. I let mine cool overnight and then dug in the next morning. I have received rave reviews on this dish from co-workers, husbands and family. A Keeper.
2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
4 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup cold water
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
Wisk sugar, flour, and cocoa powder in large bowl. In saucepan, bring water, oil and butter to a boil and pour over dry ingredients. Mix with a hand mixer until creamy. Add buttermilk, baking soda and eggs. Beat again for another 3 mintues. Bake 18 minutes at 400 degrees. Frost while warm.
Frosting: In a sauce pan, bring 1/3 cup unsalted butter, ¼ cup cocoa and 1/3 cup buttermilk to a boil. Add ½ tsp vanilla extract and confectioners’ sugar, as needed, until ideal consistency is reached. Spread over warm brownies.
I was in Amelia Island, FL for Easter and having a nice glass of wine before we went inside to dine at a wonderful restaurant called Plae. I noticed that the tables nearest the tree were vacant. I thought perfect…until I began to look around and the caterpillars were climbing all over the railings and stumbled onto the table and chairs. We decided we were going to tough it out for the outdoor enjoyment, but it was so hard to focus that I eventually gave up and went inside for a wonderful meal, so don’t not go! It reminded me of what is to come and so when I got home I armed myself for a caterpillar free 2009.
I realized my hatred of caterpillars in the spring of 2008. It got so bad, in my mind of course, that I almost sold my house over it. After living in cities for 9 years I forgot the dominance of Mother Nature in the country. In 2008 I learned the hard way, I was too late too fight the good fight, but this year will be different.
I was in Pennsylvania this weekend and I visited the same spots I saw the nests in 2008 and they had already began “tenting”. Although I might be 1 month ahead of the game, I am going to do my best to prevent the infestation.
My choice weapon is, Tanglefoot, it a chemical free pest management product. I pair this with Safer Brand, Caterpillar Killer spray for the leaves of any young low bearing trees or shrubs. And finally once the caterpillars become moths, I put out traps. I will be interested in seeing the difference my efforts make in 2009 and will keep you posted.
Tent Caterpillars and Gypsy Moths severely damage tree growth and leaf production. Notify your town if the problem is persistent because the more complaints the more likely they are to regionally spray and address the problem. For more details, NY State Dept. of Environment.
Oh the joys of moving. In NYC you often shop for the apartment where you currently live. My tip for you is to try not to get too attached to the pieces b/c when you move the process begins all over again.
One way to decorate is to hire an interior designer to sweep in, personalize and coordinate your style, colors, and organizational needs and be budget conscious along the way. Another is to shop, research, shop and shop some more. I have come to rely on instant gratification when shopping which is why the usual suspects cater to my needs. Pottery Barn, William Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, Design w/ in Reach, West Elm, CB2, William Sonoma Home, Macys, Ikea and Restoration Hardware. Mixing and Matching these items with the purchases from ebay, flea markets, travel tokens and family heirlooms typically make up my style.
My recent move added a 2nd bathroom and 2nd bath to our apartment, so I need to furnish new spaces, plus use old and new furniture to accommodate the new shape of the common space. Here are some of our favorite finds.
Restoration Hardware, Newton Accent Table (also comes round & adjusts height)
Design within Reach, Sapien Bookcase ( we looked at the west elm knock off & decided not as nice)
ABC Carpet & Home, World Fusion Console Table ( Always check out the Bronx Outlet ABC…First)
Anthropologie, Fern Forest Bathmat
Turkey Meatloaf- Serves 4-6
I brought back from Istanbul, Turkey a tomato paste that is out of this world. It is the prefect mixture of sun dried tomato, red pepper flakes and tomato paste. Since I still have some left, I think I will try to re-create it for our future benefit, but in the mean time play with these three ingredients plus maybe a little olive oil to make your own version. I know the recipe only calls for 2 tbs, but they are the most important 2 tbs.
I also love this recipe because it uses day old rice; so when you order take out or have leftovers this is the prefect follow up recipe.
Pre-Heat Oven to 400 degrees.
9 x 5 x 2.5 loaf pan
1 - 1½ cups day old brown rice
1 tsp of poultry seasoning
1 lb ground lean turkey
6 green onions- coarsely chopped whites only
1 whole egg beaten
2 tbs tomato paste
3 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
1 large egg white
In a mixing bowl, mix the brown rice and poultry seasoning and then add the ground turkey. Add the onion, whole egg and 1 tbs of the tomato paste, mustard, 1 tbs Worcestershire salt and pepper. Using your hands mix the ingredients, but be sure not to over mix ground meat and break it down. Place in the loaf pan.
In a small bowl whisk the egg white, 1 tsp tomato paste and 1 tsp of Worcestershire until smooth. Spread evenly over the meatloaf.
Cook uncovered approximately 1 hr. Take out and let it sit for 10 minutes, covered with foil.
When I am asked, what it is I want for my birthday or Christmas most of the time I look to my closet and think, a purse, a necklace or pair of heels. Then later that same day I think of my home renovation list and fixing the patio or saving to replace the roof would be a practical gift. But since I received an early birthday gift this week I am calling the Dyson Vacuum the Gift of the Year!
The only reason I was in the market for a vacuum is because I accidently locked my cat in a closet for 24 hours. Now every time I turn on the old vacuum it smells like cat! So it had to go!
I would like to consider myself a patient and thorough shopper. After an ample amount of research every vacuum available at Best Buy, Amazon, etc. has negative reviews except Dyson. The only reason people don’t buy Dyson is because of the lofty price tag. (avg. $500) After 1 day of using the thing, I am here to tell you it is DYSON or DUST.
A pet friendly and baby friendly house must be rid of dust, hair and germs and that is a challenge for even the most diligent home maker. A friend recently told me she vacuums just about every day and sometimes multiple times a day so I hope you are reading this and add the Dyson to your gift list!
My husband thinks that I now seek out reasons to vacuum b/c it is fun. I purchased the DC17 aka “animal” and a few of the accessories including the mini turbine head. It is amazing. I was able to clean the couch from head to toe and while it is junk…it looks a whole lot better. I also used this tool on my zebra rug which collects every piece of dirt & lint and all new! The suction is insane and the small things about its usability all make so much sense. I think it is a work in progress transitioning from the Stone Age to modern Dysontime, but well worth the struggle.
Have a maid? Clean for yourself for 4 months and it pays for the Dyson!
The Silver Lining: Dyson sells refurbished vacuums and I am so far very happy with mine. I have never been afraid to buy a refurbished machine b/c honestly they are the same as the original. You can still get a 6 mo warranty with refurbished vacuums through Dyson.