Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

This is what my husband does every morning for the kids.  They don’t always sit down to this lovely breakfast set-up — but he does it anyway.  Gotta love that.  That and the fact that he wakes me up every morning by bringing me a cup of coffee in bed!  So when he bugs me, I just think of: weekday mornings.Everyday breakfast

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Never pay retail.

That’s the mantra of many a woman who grew up in New York.  For us, (OK, for mostly Jewish women of a certain age) Loehmann‘s was the only place to shop. There, in the racks and racks of schmattas lay untold designer treasures — at 50-75% off retail. It was like Mecca for Jews.  When I was a teenager, a trip to Loehmann’s communal dressing room was an experience, a right of passage, and a somber foreshadowing of what my lithe, firm body would someday become.

But Loehmann’s taught me about more than sagging flesh and bat wings, it taught me to Never Pay Retail.  A rule I have lived by to this day.  And not just at Loehmann’s.  I have an impressive collection of Missoni – a coat, two blazers, two dresses and more — all bought at a fraction of their original price at Filene’s Basement (now all but ruined by it’s acquisition by Syms.  Boo Hoo.) I have Sigerson Morrison pumps for which I paid $40.  Channel flats that were $95.  Both from the now defunct (and sorely, sorely misses) discount shoe store Danbar.

And yet, I never applied the never pay retail rule to grocery shopping.  Until now.  Because now, there’s a BJ’s nearby.  I may never pay grocery retail again!

I have been to Costco.  I like Costco.  But I live in a Manhattan (read small) apartment, and Costco only sells MASSIVE sizes of everything. BJ’s, on the other hand, sells NORMAL SIZES of the things you love.  They even make an effort to support local businesses by offering locally made baked goods in their stores. They even take coupons!  Regular cut ’em out of the newspaper coupons.

It’s kind of awesome.

And at the blogger event they held last week, I learned that they also have some pretty nice gifts to give.  Like electronics, and housewares, and gift baskets, and toys. (A review of the toy they gave me (full disclosure) will be up after the Thanksgiving weekend.) All at significantly lower prices than grocery and department stores. My favorite thing they showed us that day?  Living Home Holiday Handcrafted Gift Tags.  They are GORGEOUS.  (And not all of them are Christmassy.  They are gift-generic) and you get 60 for $7.99.

So: cheaper food, inexpensive gifts, some local fare.  What could be bad?

Well, from now on, when I think about BJ’s, all I’ll think is…what was I doing all these years, paying….retail?!  It’s like I’ve been a traitor to my own motto.  And I never even realized it until now.

Take up the cause: Never pay retail!

I won’t.

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Well, that’s not entirely true.  I mean, I did meet Bobby Flay and Marcella Valladolid — both of them real honest-to-goodness Food Network Stars – but I’m pretty certain that the preternaturally fit and handsome Bobby Flay didn’t eat ANY of the food he had us try at the Hellmann’s/Share Our Strength event, and I’m just as certain that the gorgeous, perfect-bodied Marcella Valladolid, while she mixed up a bunch of killer cocktails (at a Sauza Tequila Ladies Night In event) didn’t get even the teeniest bit tipsy. (more…)

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Tomorrow, BJ’s warehouse opens in Flushing.

To any of you outside of NYC, this might not seem like a big deal.  But, here in NY, land of the shoebox apartments,  big box stores are a big big deal. And groceries are really, really expensive.

So the addition of a BJ’s to the city is a pretty big deal.  It’s cheap, it’s huge, you can maneuver your cart around without breaking someone’s toe, and THEY TAKE COUPONS!!!!  So not only do you save 30%  to begin with (the amount they estimate an average consumer will save per visit), you can clip  coupons, too. Plus (and most importantly)- unlike some other warehouse stores I won’t mention – BJ’s sells items in sizes that will actually FIT into a NYC apartment.

(Not something you out there with your big houses and big garages, and walk-in pantries, and extra-fridge in the basement-types really think about when you grab a vat of Tide and a 24 pack of paper towels, now is it?)

So a new BJ’s is a big deal.  But for me, BJ’s will always be about movie stars and chauffers.  Why, you ask?

Read on.

My kids went to nursery school with the child of a very famous director. (VFD)  One day, at a playdate at their house (no shoebox for the VFD. He and his family lived in a 10,000 square foot town house), I noticed that  (walk-in) snack closet held giant sized boxes of every kid-snack every created.

“Do you go to one of those warehouse stores?” I asked. Incredulous.

“I love them!” answered the VFD’s wife. “I’m going tomorrow.  Why don’t you come with me.”

“I’ll drive” I offered.

“Oh, don’t worry about that, it’s all taken care of.”

The next day, VFD’s wife and I dropped our kids off for overpriced fingerpainting, and drove to BJ’s.  In her chauffer driven car.  Once we got there, the chauffer walked through the store with my new money-saving friend, and took things off the shelves for her.

“Peter,” she said, “We need tuna fish.”

And Peter would bend down, pick up a ten-pack of Tuna fish and place it in her cart.

When we finished shopping, Peter went and found boxes for us.  Peter packed our boxes. Peter loaded them into the car.  And she and I went to Old Navy to browse.

Over the course of two years, every few months, VFD’s wife and I went to BJ’s, to Costco, to Stew Leonards – always with a chauffeur.

One day, I left the store to see John with the White Mercedes waiting for me. Thing was, we had driven up with Peter, in the black Mercedes.

Seems VFD’s wife had bought too much to fit into one car, and so had called the second chauffeur, to bring the second Mercedes, to take me and my stuff home.

And that, dear bloggy friends, is how famous people go discount shopping.

p.s. Here’s the info, if you want to check out the Grand Opening tomorrow.  The new BJ’s is at 131-07 40th Rd. in Flushing, NY.  For the Grand Opening there will be lots of food, balloons, face painting, a DJ, giveaways, and more.

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First of all, let me tell you: you guys like your sweets.

I asked you to write a comment with your worst holiday indulgence and I think I gained ten pounds just reading them.

Lots of people said fudge, and Christmas cookies. But some people really let it all hang out.  Like Moonlighting Mama, who said “Pumpkin Pie.  Like a whole pie.”  One woman said cheese balls.  Really?  Another said Grinch Balls — which do sound pretty seriously good. Props to the one and only Hannukah foodie. I’m with you, babe. But my favorite indulgence was the one from the guy who just said Food.

Pretty much says it all, doesn’t it.

The winner (as chosen by random.org, btw)  turned out to be a fellow NYCMoms blogger (beccarama) who lives in my neighborhood.  Pretty funny, since I knew almost none of the nearly 200 entrants.  I walked the dog and met her on West End Ave where I did the handoff.  No postage required.

I’m planning on more giveaways soon…probably from Nintendo.  So stay tuned.  And read me once in a while, even if I’m not giving something away.  At least while you’re typing you won’t be eating!

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ICB064028 had a bagel for breakfast today.  Normally, that wouldn’t be a big deal.  Maybe not the wisest choice, given the tagline of my blog– but not such a big deal, either.

Except that I’m Jewish, it’s Passover, and I’m not supposed to be eating bagels. I’m supposed to be eating Matzoh.  So I’m feeling a bit guilty.  Mind you I don’t feel guilty the rest of the year when I eat cheeseburgers (I’m not “supposed to” mix milk and meat), lobster (no bottom feeders, either), or fry up some bacon on a Saturday morning. (Too many “not supposed to’s” to count.)  I’m not a religious person at any time during the year.  My husband and I even belong to a Humanistic Synagogue, which celebrates and affirms the cultural and ethnic aspects of Judaism, without all the higher power stuff.

I’m not kosher ; I almost never go to synagogue (even the Humanistic one); and though my family and I do celebrate Shabbat most Friday nights, it’s about a two-minute ceremony, after which I may serve roast loin of pork. Seriously.

And yet.

I feel guilty for eating a bagel. -Click to read more about what a bad, bad, Jew I am!>

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Weight Watchers.

The two most terrifying words in the English language.  (Though I suppose that “Compassionate Conservative” and “Hairy Back” might be contenders.)

And yet here I am, once again, doing the WW.  Counting the points, weighing the portions,trying to decide if a deck of cards (the proper size of a serving a meat) is the same size as the giant hunk of leg-o-lamb I’ve just plunked on my plate. (that would be NO.)

Full disclosure:  a publicist from WW gave me three months of Weight Watchers for free.  I figured that if I can’t follow the program and lose the weight when I don’t even have to pay for it….Well, then I might as well  just accept that “trying on bathing suits” will forever remain the four scariest words in the English language.

Today was my second weigh-in.  Week two.  Week one, I lost 1.4 pounds.  Not bad.  Not great, but not bad.  So week two, I decided to be extra careful: I weighed everything.  I wrote everything down.  And you know what?  I stayed the same.  EXACTLY the same.

It’s better than a gain, I know.  But still.  And this was a week where I skied, worked out with a trainer, took yoga, took a dance class, took a ballroom dancing lesson AND dieted. What else am I supposed to do?  Cut off my left arm from the elbow down and use it to beat the pounds off of me?

It was also a week where I went out to breakfast with a friend.  Here’s what I had: one poached egg (2 points) and one piece of dry whole wheat toast (2 points).  Here’s what she had: a three egg (one yolk only) mozzarella and tomato omelette , french fries, and two pieces of whole wheat toast slattered in butter.

Now, here’s what she looks like: five foot four, one hundred and ten pounds, size four or six.

And here’s what I look like: five foot seven, NOWHERE NEAR one hundred and ten, or even one hundred and twenty, and lets face it, it’s been 20 years since I’ve seen 130 pounds.  Size eight or ten.

Sometimes, life just isn’t fair, is it?

Straight after my weigh-in, I went to Loehmann’s to  – TRY ON BATHING SUITS.  I figured, hey, I’m already depressed about my body, why not go all out and make myself downright dismal???

I had already been to the world famous Town Shop last week, trying on Karla Coletto suits, and that hadn’t gone well.  I have sung the praises of her bathing suits before, but this time around.  Well, let’s just say it didn’t go as well.  The bathing suits are still beautiful.  Still fabulously designed.  I will admit, I look better in a Karla Coletto bathing suit than I have a right to. BUT (and it’s a big but – not to be confused with my big butt), this year, the suits were see-through.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t intentional – but they were showing a whole lot more than I feel comfortable showing.  (Or that you’d feel comfortable seeing, believe me.) For $200 and up, I expect a fabric that at least doesn’t show my (theoretical) tan lines through my suit. Or, let’s be frank, the depth of my bikini wax. So no Karla Coletto for me this year.  I’m looking on the bright side: this way, I won’t be tempted to spend $200 plus on a bathing suit!

ANYWAY – so there I was in Loehmann’s, and  as I entered the (communal) dressing room, I see my naturally (and preternaturally) thin friend, J.  (And as you read, remember, she’s a FRIEND) She takes one look at my armful of bathing suits (size 8’s, I might add – it’s not like I was kidding myself) and says “Are you going to fit into those?”


I suppose the proper response would have been: “Are you going incredibly mean, incredibly unfeeling, or just a bitch?”  Or maybe “Are you going to go through puberty ever?  And get breasts?”  But no, all I said was:  “Well, I’m on Weight Watchers.”

All I can say is, it better work.

So check in every Wednesday for a Weight Watchers update. I let you know if I’m up or down, and I’ll tell you what’s working and what’s not.  Hey, maybe it’ll keep me honest, and finally, finally, get me to lose those ten pounds I’ve been struggling with for the past twenty years!

If you have any great Weight Watchers knowledge to impart – well, let me know.  Evidently, I need all the help I can get.

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I hate people who sigh and say “I’m never HUNGRY in the summer. It’s so HOT. I ALWAYS lose weight.”

Oh yeah?

I’m always eating in the summer (who said hunger has anything to do with it?), when it’s hot, I need ice-cream, and I ALWAYS gain weight.

For this reason, I have never invested in a digital scale in the country. In the city, I weigh myself obsessively, to the tenth of a pound. But here, I have an old-fashioned spring-scale. I already know it’s low — but even though I mentally add two pounds to whatever it says, I do like seeing that lower number. Plus, when I tilt my head just so and see those little black lines at the right angle, I lose three pounds. Just like that.

It’s a delusion, I know, but a happy one. Until today.

Today, I got on the digital scale at the gym. Notice I was at the gym. I ran four miles on Saturday, three miles on Monday, and still went to the gym today. And though I’ve been feeling a little flabbier in the middle, I didn’t think things were that bad.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha HA HA HA. (Do you get it? It’s diabolical laughter.)

Today the digital scale said I have gained anywhere from 2.5-3 pounds. (I can’t say for sure, because it depends on whether I’m counting the post-workout, post bathroom, totally naked weigh-in, or the “I just woke up weigh-in,” or the I’m about to go out so I’ll weigh myself so I’ll eat less weigh in, or the ever popular “I need a little dose of self-loathing” weigh in.) Either way (weigh?) it’s a gain.

Now 2.5-3 pounds may not sound like a lot to some of you. And to you I say — I don’t give a crap if it doesn’t sound like a lot to you. For me, a three pound weight gain takes me from “Gee it would be nice to lose 6-7 pounds” to “I really need to lose ten pounds.” Not good. Not good at all.

So what did I do? I had a frozen boca burger (tasty, actually) and a tomato for lunch. (Anyone have any ideas for the surplus of tomatoes in the garden? And if you say “with fresh mozzarella” I will find you, deep fry you, and eat you for a snack.) Then, for dinner, I will have a Weight Watchers Salted Cardboard Entree. (I mean frozen. Did I write salted cardboard?) And as a snack, later tonight while I watch the impossibly perfect bodied Olympians compete, a bowl of bran cereal.

Why bran cereal? That way, tomorrow morning, I can do the post-workout, post bathroom, totally naked weigh-in on my own scale, tilt my head just so, and I’ll have lost five pounds. Just like that.

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Have you ever noticed that the worse your body is, the more you have to spend on a bathing suit?

I’ve been to the Lands End site with all of it’s symbols about body type and claims of flattery. And I’ve always liked the suits. Not too flashy. Not too revealing. But in the end, not too exciting, either. They’re all fine in a “I’m a middle aged woman who drives a minivan, has a bad perm, and still uses cans of Cream of Mushroom soup to make a casserole” kind of way. But chic they’re not.

This year, I decided to actually go to a store and try on bathing suits. No easy task. Like most women over forty who’ve borne children, trying on bathing suits is as depressing as it gets. What I didn’t realize is how expensive it can get!

The average price of a bathing suit at my local (and totally fabulous) lingerie store, The Town Shop, is $150. Seriously. They have a few bathing suits under $100, but most fall into the $125-$225 range. Shocking. I must be naive, but I had no idea a little piece of Lycra could cost so much.

But I had decided that, like a good haircut, a good bathing suit can change everything. So I sucked it up (and sucked it in) and tried one on. I don’t know who this Karla Colletto is, but man, can she design a bathing suit. I’ve tried the Miracle Suit thing, and quite frankly, the only miracle is that they can get away with their copywrited claim that you’ll look ten pounds lighter in ten seconds. They’re relatively flattering, but they ain’t no Karla Colletto. In her suits I looked – are you ready for this? — GOOD! Do you understand the magnitude of that? I LOOKED GOOD IN A BATHING SUIT. Talk about shocking.

I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the cut, maybe it’s the fabric. But I don’t care what it is. It was worth the staggeringly high –wait for it…$225 — price tag.

I decided to see if my “the worse you look the more you have to spend” theory applied to exercise clothing as well. Usually, I head to Filenes or Target and buy my exercise clothing there. After all, why spend big bucks on something you’re just going to sweat up anyway?

How wrong I was. I have only one thing to say to you: Lululemon. These pants are amazing. Their seam runs down the back of the leg, instead of the sides, making your legs look longer. The waist band hits at exactly the right spot to avoid side-bulge, and minimize butt bulge.

In my Lululemon signature pants I really do look ten pounds lighter. Unfortunately, they also left my wallet nearly $100 lighter. A small price to pay for a small butt.

So alas, it’s true. The worse you look, the more you pay. But the bright side is, if you’re willing to spend the big bucks, you can look like a million bucks. Or, OK, $100,000 bucks. But that’s rich enough for me.

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