Good Night, Sleep Tight, at Least Try to Match

I have many vices (shoes, stationery and coffee come immediately to mind),  but sleepwear is not one of them.  In my PJ drawer you will find four distinct categories of clothing:

1. Ratty tees from college (I hate to put it out there, but this makes the tees 20+ years old).

2. Yoga pants in which I have not once EVER done ANY yoga.

3. An assortment of hole-y (not holy) socks with which I cannot bear to part because they are brightly patterned with things like monkeys, santas and sunshines, and my girls love them.

4. And the piece de resistance: for winter – a couple of wool sweaters (don’t ask me how I have three kids).

I’ll admit, I naively assumed us moms all fell into pretty much the same sleep fashion circle, but lo and behold, I have recently learned this is not the case.  Over a long reunion weekend with some of my BFFs from college, I was subjected to nothing short of sensory overload by my gal pals’ array of color coordinated PJs, loungewear and robes – and some of them in my fave, fave, fave fabric prints: Liberty of London!  Holy (not hole-y) smokes!  How did I miss the boat on this one?  So of course I immediately requested the 411 on the jammies: what’s the brand, can I find it online, and do they have sales?  To my delight, the answer was BedHead Pajamas, yes they are available online through department stores like Neiman’s as well as through their own site, and yes they can be found on sale.

So I got home, I perused, and I purchased.  Oh happy day (I mean, night!).  If anyone photographs me at 3:00 a.m. taking care of a sick child, I will be wearing something that matches!  In fact, I will be wearing something that is actually attractive!  Heck, I might even drive the morning carpool in these comfies!  Snap away, paparazzi!

FYI, I treated my girls too – the toile and the blush prints were too sweet to pass on, and the sizes run all the way up to 14.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen Good Grill!

My neighbors are moving.  This breaks my heart into hundreds of pieces for too many reasons to count.  Put simply: they are a lovely family and add value to the community in which they live in every possible way.  The only silver lining to which I can point amidst the melancholia?  They gave their gas grill to me.  Apparently the new home has one built in (swanky!) and so I am the beneficiary of the old.  I have never used a gas grill before (I’ve always been a Weber-kettle-charcoal kind of girl) but I took my new Grill Master 5000 for a culinary test drive this weekend, and I have to say, I might be hooked.  I did chicken and some veggie kabobs, and everything was delish!  While I’m going to give the new grill most of the credit, there might have been a yum-factor in the marinade too.  This works well on either chicken or pork, and prep time is five minutes at best, so it’s a great go-to when you’re not in the mood to hang in the kitchen.

Ingredients:

1 cup crushed pineapple

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup cider vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1/4 teaspoon powdered cloves

Preparation:

Mix all ingredients together and use immediately or store in airtight container for up to seven days.

Enjoy!

I’m Full of Beans

I love jelly beans. The ORIGINAL jelly beans, not the Jelly Bellies. (You can underscore that for effect.) The problem with this little love of mine, is that decent, traditional jelly beans are very hard to find. Occasionally I get lucky and find a large bag of Brach’s Original jelly beans at a random drug store, and I try to stock up, but they never seem to last as long as I’d like. And the best, absolute best, are produced by See’s Candy, but these beans are only sold during the Easter season, and they only come in very small bags, so you have to order like 100 if you’re shooting to satisfy cravings throughout the remaining 11 months of the year.

My girls and I always jump into little boutique candy stores in our version of a “Holy Grail filled with jelly beans” quest, and though we can find Jelly Bellies in every flavor from cherry to vomit (which my Harry Potter groupie thinks is a riot), we can never just find the good old-fashioned beans. This creates some sort of existential candy dilemma for me. I want to fall to my knees and scream to confectioners everywhere, “When did the world get so complicated? Can’t we just hold on to one last simple thing? Does everything have to be doctored, enhanced and super-sized (or in the case of the jelly bean, miniaturized)? Is there nothing left that is pure? Why is this happening? Where is this going? Am I all alone in my search for the original jelly bean?”

Yeah…I should have gone to Juilliard.

At any rate, in the absence of actual jelly beans, what my daughters and I have accumulated instead is jelly bean trivia.  Apparently we’re full of beans as well as useless information!

Did you know…

My friend the jelly bean hails from a Middle Eastern confection known as the Turkish Delight, which was also made of soft jelly and coated in confectioner’s powder.

Get this…

The earliest known appearance of the jelly bean was during the American Civil War, when William Schrafft, of Boston, led a program to send jelly beans to soldiers.

Try this on for size…

The standard flavor of a red jelly bean is cherry. Yellow? Why lemon, of course.

And for your next Trivial Pursuit party…

In U.S. slang in the early ’20s, a “jelly bean” was a young man who made great efforts to dress very stylishly, presumably to attract women because he had nothing else by which to recommend himself.

Here’s one for ya’…

The outside of a jelly bean is basically the same colored hard candy coating found on a Jordan almond (which I also love!).

No way…

It takes seven to 21 days to make a single Jelly Belly.

Get ready…

April 22 is National Jelly Bean Day! That’s only eight months away!  Yip-Yip-Yippppppeeeeeeeee! (And I’m not even on a sugar high!)

Holy cow…

16 billion jelly beans are produced each year before the commencement of Easter festivities.

You don’t say…

Though everyone knows Ronald Reagan loved jelly beans, who knows Ronald Reagan started eating jelly beans while trying to kick his smoking habit? He never gave them up (the beans, not the cigs).

And now, dear friends, you can never say you don’t know beans about beans!

The Gift of the Magi?

I don’t know about you, but I come from the family that has everything. And yes, I do mean everything. It makes my holiday/birthday/Mom’s Day/Dad’s Day shopping a little akin to the Imagination Olympics.

Case in point? We’ll start with my mom. My mom decided to collect roosters one day. She has hundreds of them. Okay, maybe that’s conservative. I’ll put it out there and venture a guess at thousands. (Millions might be pushing it). I don’t know why she started collecting roosters, and it’s a real sticking point with my dad – maybe because he doesn’t like roosters, or maybe because if the rooster cookie jars, rooster dish towels, rooster spoon rests, rooster trivets and rooster wine stops were ACTUAL roosters, the U.S. poultry count would reach an all time high and the Department of Agriculture would have to enforce some sort of population control measure. But you can imagine, it is very difficult to buy a unique and meaningful gift for someone who already owns a set of ceramic rooster wall hooks.

And my sister? She actually owns all of those crazy things you see in the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog. I’ll send a shout-out the next time she has a garage sale. I would hate for anyone to pass on the opportunity to own a High Definition Video Pen, Remote Controlled Rolling Beverage Cooler and a 33-in-1 Golf Club at yard sale prices! But again, what could I possibly purchase for my little sis that says, “Relax, enjoy and feel loved” when she already has a Frozen Fruit Soft Serve Processor?

Enter Etsy.  I love this site. I love how unique everything is, I love how you can shop anywhere on the price point range, and I really love the idea that I’m supporting self-employed individuals across the world. From cufflinks to fine art to personalized tees for the kids I find I am always able to come up with a little something that is inexpensive yet classy, and that says: “Hey. We both know you already have everything, but I’m thinking about you and I love you and I wanted to say Happy Birthday!”

This year, my sister and my mom are both getting monogrammed stacking rings (hundreds of shapes, sizes and materials from which to choose) for their b-days.  I might even buy a set for myself, I love them so much! But be forewarned, while these rings will of course feature the initials of their children and grandchildren respectively, I am also throwing in an “H” for each of them (as in hen…and hoard).

CockaDoodleDoo!

Calling all Gryffindors!

My nine-yeard-old is obsessed with all things Harry Potter.  While my eldest daughter read the first book, proclaimed it “scary” and immediately moved on to tackle the Penderwick series, her younger sister read the first book, declared it “the best thing EVER” and has now read the entire series, twice.  There are so many things I love about this little obsession of hers: her newfound appreciation of owls, her bottomless knowledge of the rules of quidditch, and (oh! ) the vocabulary!  Is there anything better than a still-little girl with a mouthful of retainers and expanders saying words like “hufflepuff” and “expelliarmus?”

So imagine how “stupefied” I was to discover there is a Harry Potter version of one of our favorite family game night go-tos, Clue?  Heads up Hogwarts, if you love calling Colonel Mustard out for dastardly deeds in the library, you’ll really love accusing Draco Malfoy for poisoning mead in the Enchanted Forest!  While my little witch (and I mean this in the most endearing way) absolutely loves playing, I think she also takes great delight in showing off her expertise!  There isn’t a question she can’t answer, a plot she can’t re-tell, and yes, she must have her own personal petronus (help your kids discover theirs with this quiz!), because she quite often wins.  Check out the fun for yourself and go from muggle to wizard in no time!

Signing off with my very best Petrificus Totalus!

My LBD

In my neck of the woods, the beginning of a school year is the harbinger of the “black tie season.”  In a matter of weeks, my calendar will start to fill with school fundraisers, corporate dinners and holiday dances, and I will inevitably find myself pining away for a personal assistant to manage the RSVPs, purchase and wrap the hostess gifts, and of course babysit the girls for free while I mingle and mashed potato (I said I had good shoes, not good dance moves).

My go-to outfit for all is an LBD.  The same LBD, in fact, that I have had since my ten-year high school reunion.  Talk about motivation to maintain your weight!  Way back then I splurged (whole-paycheck kind of splurged), on a very high end “runway” item, and to this day, I do not regret a single penny spent.  This little number has seen me through rehearsal dinners and anniversary dates, awards ceremonies and weddings, with equal amounts of class and lovely and yes, just a hint of fun.  It hangs in my closet and I joke with my girls it is my “storyteller” dress, because it has been witness to and participant in enough moments to underwrite a novella.  Some of the stories are happy, like the time I told my family I was pregnant with my first child.  And some of the stories are sad, like the time my dear friend learned mid-dinner-dance her mother had passed away.  And some of the stories are funny, like the time I lost my shoe in the Museum of Science and Industry while dancing – never to be found!  But all of the LBD stories remind me that life is made up of moments, and our best foot forward is to handle each moment “as if the dress itself,” with equal amounts of class and lovely and yes, a hint (or more!) of fun.

But after so many events in the same LBD, how best to mix it up?   Accessories, of course!  Sometimes I go with a simple, understated stud earring and pretty bangle, and sometimes I pull out chandelier earrings in an unexpected color.  And sometimes I go with a sentimental favorite (I have a fabulous pair of drop earrings in a lovely shade of green that once graced the lobes of my grandmother).  Regardless, now is a great time to plan ahead.  I often turn to Net-a-Porter for inspiration, and their “Shop by Occasion” section is a fun place to start.

And don’t you worry ’bout me, dear friend, I’ll also hit Zappos up for a complete pair of heels.  🙂

Does a Body Good

My 11-year-old had her annual physical yesterday.  Aside from my shock and horror (and yes, delight) at how very, very, very much she has grown, I was thankful to learn tween girls need a significant amount of calcium during these transition years.  Key information, especially since my little giraffe is not a milk-drinker.  The pediatrician did a nice job of giving us a calcium 101 lecture, and we’ve now been charged to hit at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day.  She also told my daughter this was her responsibility (with mom’s help and guidance).  I love the empowerment!

Here’s a quick how-to for those of you who also have young ladies in your house.

Breakfast:

Glass of calcium fortified OJ with your breakfast: 300 milligrams

Lunch:

Carton of milk with your lunch at school: 300 milligrams

Two slices of calcium fortified Roman Meal bread for your sandwich: 300 milligrams

After school snack:

Container of yogurt: approximately 200 milligrams

You’re at approximately 1,000 milligrams before dinner is even served!  How easy was that?  Of course, my 11-year-old is a little obsessed with efficiency, so she proposed we make smoothies for breakfast with OJ and yogurt to get a head start.  Works for me!

Take care of you and yours!