Monday, March 31, 2014

Meat & Fish Weekend

It was Sunday so I thought I had plenty of time to be Blue Apron-ing and catch up a little. I did get another shipment on Saturday so I was like 4-5 meals behind. I had gotten salmon in the last shipment and knew that B wouldn't eat that. It looked really good to me, so I figured I'd just eat both servings (on different days!) because there were at least two meals I didn't plan on eating any. Like, he ate both quesadillas. If I get around to the beef stuffed cabbage, he'll be eating all that.

I chose to make the salmon for me and the turkey burgers on brioche rolls for B and E. This was a big undertaking- making TWO of these meals in one try. But they didn't look monumentally difficult, AND I've realized I can take my lazy to a new level. Nevermind cheater garlic. There were hazelnuts that needed to be coarsely chopped for the side salad that was to go with the turkey burgers. Know how I "chopped"? I put the bag on the floor and stepped on it. Repeatedly. Worked like a charm.

My "salmon knick-knacks" were missing, which was actually fine, because while I would've made it, I really didn't want to try a chick pea and cucumber salad with goat cheese. I don't know how I feel about chick peas- I've never eaten them but I definitely don't want goat cheese. I could slice a cucumber and call it a day. I like simple raw veggies as a side. The cucumber was supposed to be scooped of seeds too which would've been a giant pain in the ass.

I really just wanted to know how to cook salmon at home, which I've never done. I really love salmon, although I have to admit a little fear of fish and meat as of late. With the garbage in the ocean and mad cow and who knows what, I know a little too much for my own good and already limited palate. But whatever, I got food shipments and I'm using them. This was salmon with blood oranges. Fruit in food always intrigues me. In a good way. I like fruity. Especially the idea of it with fish. Or meat.

All I had to make for me was the salmon, so I just sliced the blood orange- which there wasn't enough of as far as I'm concerned. But, maybe I was supposed to slice it thinner. I salted and peppered, placed it atop half the orange slices, layered some stems of thyme on it, put the rest of the orange on top, drizzled with EVOO, and added MY OWN little extra- some raspberry balsamic. I had like a fewdrops left of my favorite balsamic so I just threw it on. Unfortunately, when it's on a pan, it burns and while I washed and washed the pan, it's still on there. I didn't know how easy it was to cook salmon in the oven or I would've done it before. It took like 15 minutes.

By the way, best part of both of these recipes was the lack of mincing garlic. Even though I did already buy the Trader Joes frozen kind. I did have to use old spices again though. They packed me a shallot but it looked moldy and I just didn't feel like mincing it. I actually had minced shallots, believe it or not. Apparently, I had this grand plan some time in 2012 to make something with shallots, so I bought them minced. I guess I never made it because this bottle was never opened.

I needed the shallots for the turkey burgers. They were relatively easy to make. Even frying them, which I thought was going to suck. I've made pancakes before and I felt like it would like making silver dollar pancakes. Sliders are much, much easier than pancakes, that's for sure. I had to toast the hazelnuts which was a little bit annoying. I thought of throwing them in untoasted but I didn't know if it was something people don't eat raw. Shut up. I don't. I don't make a habit of eating nuts. Just not my thing.

I made an arugula salad with some crumbly cheese they gave, the hazelnuts, and I threw in some grape tomatoes I had. Topped it with some EVOO. Blue Apron really likes EVOO. I used Pam to put on the salmon pan to cook though.

I got E to eat one of the turkey sliders, which was a huge win. I tasted one, and B had three, leaving him one tonight to throw into the extra salad. I definitely think it yields more than the two servings per meal if you plate it right and don't go back for seconds that night. They definitely give you an ample amount of the veggies. The cucumber they gave me was enormous.

What B has firmly decided is that he likes the more casual meals, hands down. He's not into the fancy stuff. It also probably has to do with the kitchen being neater for some reason when the meal is less fancy. Also, usually, when the meal is fancier, it involves some kind of hunk of meat, which is just not his thing. Wait till I get to the pork meal for my next go round.

I put my Blue Apron on hold for a little while. I didn't really like the next two menus and I need a break. I'm back on the wagon at Jenny and just can't afford the calories for these big dinners. They're not unhealthy at all. They actually seem on the healthier side. But had I made the whole salmon thing with the chick pea salad, it would've been like 673 calories per serving. I'm doing about 300 calories right now for a dinner. I usually only like two out of three dishes on the weekly menu. I wish you could pick any three meals from all their menus (meat/fish/vegetarian etc) but since I've now had three shipments with something missing from two, maybe that would just be too chaotic. Their customer service is great, and I'm sure if I tell them my salmon knick-knacks were missing, they'll credit me, so I think it's definitely worth the money. I just can't do this much cooking right now.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Hum Music- Free Trial Classes!

Looking for a cool, fun, Mommy & Me music class?

Come find out what all the excitement is about! Families call us the best and most fun music & movement program in the area, and here's your chance to see why!

Our Spring Semester is right around the corner, beginning April 12th in Glen Rock, Waldwick, and Park Ridge. We're offering free trial classes for families who've never taken a class with us before. Class will be held at the following times:

9:30 & 10:30 on Tuesday, April 8th in Glen Rock
9:30 & 10:30 on Wednesday, April 9th, in Waldwick

**Click here to sign up!!**

So bring your child, bring a friend, and get ready to rock!! Space is limited, so sign up early to hold a spot. If you've taken class with us before, please feel free to forward to a friend!

We hope to see ya' soon!

Cindy & Sean
A Hum Music

Friday, March 28, 2014

Cooking with Diamond #3

I got another Blue Apron delivery this past Saturday. I never got to make the potstickers from the last one because the wrappers (I don't know what you call them- the outside of the potstickers) molded.

My own fault. I waited too long. Oh well.

This delivery is salmon, chicken quesadillas and beef stuffed cabbage. Truth be told, I only plan on eating the salmon. But I made the chicken quesadillas last night for B. If he liked them, which I assumed he would, he could eat the second one tonight. I just wanted the cooking practice and I thought he'd be into them because they're more "casual" than some of the other meals.

So. Quesadillas. They weren't as difficult as the other two dishes. Probably because I didn't have to mince any garlic. I do have to admit to buying Trader Joes frozen minced garlic for any future cooking. That mincing is for the birds. And in some cases, if you can cheat, you cheat. This is one of those. I also have another cooking confession. I took the chives out and the direction was to mince. I didn't know how I'd mince a chive. It looks like blades of grass. So I looked through my lazy Susan spice thingy in the cabinet and found chives in a plastic jar. Ok, they were from 2008. But they didn't seem like something that would go bad. Whatever. I'm the same person who almost served the Nissenbaum's ketchup from 2008 as well. Eric asked if it was that special colored ketchup for kids. I said no, we looked at the date and voila, five years old. Apparently, I cooked more back then. Logically, that would be true. It was pre-child. Judge me, I don't care. I'm trying now and that's all that counts. Just with old spices.

By the way, I didn't end up using the 2008 chives because they fell in the sink. A whole pile of them. When I saw they were just going in the sour cream, I realized, they didn't even matter. I don't need the equivalent of pebbles in the sour cream. Well, B doesn't.

I started this prep around 4:30p. I've realized that when I get the delivery, I need to put it all away in groups of what goes together from each meal. I've just been throwing it all in a bowl. Not opening the "knick-knacks"- the brown paper bags with the more specific stuff for each meal, but the bigger stuff that might be used for more than one. Like, the head of garlic, onions, fruit, spices, etc. Actually, I'm not entirely sure why they separate some stuff but not all, but no matter. The point is, what takes time is sorting the ingredients, then the prep. I had to slice (thin) 2 little blocks of cheese, a red bell pepper, red onion (which I didn't use because we don't like onion), cilantro- which I had to pick off vines, lime, slicing a giant green apple for the spinach side salad, and who knows what else.

Also, I'm reading these steps one at a time. So I do them exactly how it's there. Since I don't know what's going to happen next, I don't know where I can cut corners and save time. I might not even be able to because I have to learn how to do all this stuff for the first time.

It was the first time I cooked chicken in oil. I think any time I ever cooked chicken in a pan, I used something like Pam cooking spray. I never used olive oil for anything really. So this is definitely new. I learned to cover it, but the splatter of the oil is always a nice shock and mess. Olive oil is in like every recipe so I need to get more. I think I've been using too much so far. I also threw the chicken in forgetting to add the salt and pepper. So I ended up adding it to one side. Because I threw some pepper just in the pan and I guess with the oil, it started crackling and making noise. I didn't want to start a fire, so I thought better of adding any more. I had to add the red pepper and cumin into the pan with the chicken. While that seemed weird and gross, I did it. I am not a fan of cooked vegetables. Only raw. Just a personal preference. So, I've never cooked peppers in a pan.

I had to lay out the cheese slices on the tortilla, then top the cheese with the peppers. I had to slice the chicken, put it on top of the peppers and cheese, and throw on some cilantro. Close it up and put it back in the pan. Well, it was bigger than the pan, so that was interesting. Lucky for me, I am a freak about neat sandwiches, so nothing fell out of the quesadilla. I can't say I didn't burn it a little. But, it really was just a little.

They were really big, so one was definitely enough for one person. The side salad was spinach, green apple, salt, pepper, cilantro and olive oil. B added some balsamic. He loves a salad so the whole meal was perfect for him. I didn't want it because I'm on a diet. The recipe says it's 700 calories per serving and that's too much for me right now. Also, I wasn't a fan of the cheese. It was Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar. If it was mild cheddar alone, I'd have been into it, but I could leave those.

I finished at 5:45p. It was plated by then and cleaned up. Before B got home, thankfully. Because what's he's not a fan of in the least, is the Blue Apron mess. But he said the food itself was fab. One down, two more to go. And a new shipment coming Saturday.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Heroin In Our Backyard

Heroin. Even just typing it out feels weird. Who knew it would actually be an epidemic in the county I grew up in and live in today? Definitely not me. And I consider myself pretty savvy and up on current trends. But heroin?

Everyone wants someone to blame. Kids are dead and people want to point fingers. The parents! The friends! School! Money, time, freedom, age, nature, nurture, maturity, thrill-seeking, you name it. It's all a big cauldron of witches brew that contributes to addiction. If we had all the answers, we'd have eliminated addiction by now. But as a former social worker, I can tell you my truth. When you're dealing with people, body chemistry, feelings, and the whole being, there are no hard and fast answers. No definite solutions. It's really a roulette game and you have to just do your best to be aware. Really aware. Not, "I know my kid" aware, but really KNOW your kid, aware. Even if you think it's a violation of their privacy. I'll say it right here- I'm fine with being one of those parents who feels like you can have privacy when you pay all your own bills and live under your own roof.

I also know there are no guarantees and no fool proof ways of keeping your kids from temptation. So the only other thing I can come up with is education and open dialogue. Even at five, I do my best to make sure E isn't particularly sheltered. That's MY way of doing things. It was sort of my parents way of doing things that I felt they did right. Nothing was ever taboo to talk about in my house. I never felt like there was anything I couldn't tell my mother. I hope E will feel that way about B and I.

Thing is though, I think it was more my personality than how I was parented that kept me from doing "hard" drugs or drinking. I was self-confident, which might be odd for a teenager but indicative of a true Leo. I was also boy crazy.  I also have and always had a strong personality. I never wanted to do something because everyone else is doing it. If anything, my natural proclivity is toward doing the opposite of what everyone is doing. Or just to do what works for me.  I didn't want to sit in the dark woods drinking when I could be at Paramus Park meeting boys from other towns. I didn't want to ruin my art of scintillating conversation by being drunk. And honestly, I really just didn't like the taste of alcohol. I've still never drank a beer in my life at age 39. I don't know if it was that my parents really didn't drink so it wasn't part of my growing up in a cultural sense, but I've never craved alcohol. I tried. I just couldn't get it down. If beer or wine literally tasted like jelly beans, then we'd have something. It doesn't.

I tried marijuana after my ex-boyfriend/close friend (I don't really know what to call what our relationship was at the time) died in a freak car accident when I was fifteen years old. I didn't much care about anything going on around me and it was offered to me. But what was offered to me was what I'd call "hippie pot". Not the pot of today laced with who knows what. I knew who I was getting it from and I knew it was just pot. And I smoked on weekends if it was around. My friends and I did stupid things like smoke it out in public where we could've gotten arrested but we didn't drive high, and *I* didn't feel it necessary to do anything harder than that. When I got to college, I just stopped. It wasn't available in the circles I hung out in so it just wasn't worth the trouble to find. I don't have an addictive personality. For substances. Candy and shopping are another story. But I suppose everyone has their "thing". Luckily, my vices can't kill me.

There were always rumors of people doing acid or cocaine in my hometown. I never saw it. I always sort of flitted from group to group never really sticking to any one clique. So if people were doing acid or coke, it never was something in my eye line. As I said, I was boy crazy. I usually had a boyfriend, who was older, in another town. I had friends all over but no one ever offered me what would've been considered hard drugs. The car accident that killed my ex-boyfriend wasn't due to drugs or alcohol, it was excessive speed to get to the video store in town before it closed. Just not "that kind" of crowd.

People drank. They smoked pot. I guess they did acid and some coke. I never heard the word heroin. Heroin was for movies like Where the Day Takes You and Gia. Heroin was the scary unknown that the girl Kristin Marsh in Toughlove, the Afterschool Special with Jason Patric from 1985. I guess heroin was taboo them because shooting up was the only way to do it and doing that was crossing some kind of line for middle class white kids. I don't know. I guess because it can be smoked or there are pills to just throw back, it's easier and it's less..."trashy" or whatever than the idea of the street junkie with tracks up and down their arms. That's the only explanation I can come up with as to why it seems like such a nonchalant thing to do now. There's no shame in it like the old back alley type of thing us "oldies" might think of when we hear the word heroin.

I guess we have to change the words we use when teaching our kids not to tattle. They learn as little kids that no one likes a tattle-tale. But we have to be specific and drive the point home that this problem is life or death and by "tattling" you're doing everyone a huge favor. And we have to stick together as parents instead of pointing fingers or worrying about people gossiping. People talk. About serious things and about the superficial. You just can't care about the gossip and care more about the possibility of saving someone's life. We have to get rid of the "mind your business" attitude we've taken as a society. It's funny- people have no problem telling strangers how to parent when it comes to breastfeeding or getting a kid to go to sleep. But when it really matters, like telling someone to watch their kid for drugs or sharing their child's addiction story, everything becomes hush-hush.

I'd heard about how rampant Meth is in middle America. We watched Breaking Bad. I never knew of Meth being a big thing around Bergen County. It just seemed like someone else's problem. Now we've been put on notice. We have our own big problem. Hopefully we'll be able to do something about it now.

I don't even know why I'm writing this. I'm just sad today after reading all these articles about dead kids, dead moms, dead everyone. I'm disheartened and scared that it was the father of a local teen that was running a virtual pharmacy out of his home and dealing to his kids' friends. I'm disappointed in the friends and friends of friends who are letting their peers die instead of telling someone, anyone, what's going on. I'm angry that they don't seem to be learning anything from their friends deaths and going back to the party within days. I don't have the answers. For me, it's just a reminder to really be aware. Not a helicopter parent. To me, there's a difference. Give them their freedom but give it knowing you also know everything that's going on. That's the only way I know how to be. The lesson I've come away with is the vow to be part of the solution, whatever that happens to be.

Read for more info and stories:

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Big G

Where does all the Guilt and insecurity come from? I think I've said before, I think I'm lucky. I was born without guilt. It just doesn't exist for me. And I'm pretty sure it's partially due to being a Leo that I also am not saddled with much insecurity either. We all have good and bad and for me, I am happy that a plus for me is not having to be burdened with these kind of things because from what I'm seeing all over the place in social media and on message boards it can be crippling and exhausting.

We all watch the Emmy's, the Oscars, the SAG awards, you name it. If there are celebrities getting dressed up and getting some kind of statuette, we're there. Why do we get giddy to sit down and watch? Why do so many of my friends say on Facebook- "This is MY superbowl"? To JUDGE. Everyone becomes judge and jury about something as superficial as fashion. It's benign, right, our judging. Because it's celebrities. Really, though, what's the difference of saying Kim Novak looks like Plastic-Surgery-Grandma-Barbie-Gone-Wrong and judging your fellow moms for having a Leprechaun shit gold coins in the toilet for St Patrick's Day fun? Nothing. It's an opinion. A judgment. Neither is any better or any worse, and meaner or nicer. But boy do women get FIRED up when someone questions their parenting choices.

EVERYONE JUDGES. Everyone has opinions. I'm sure I've imparted this wisdom. It's just a fact. I mean, isn't a lot religion, the thing so many people base their life on, all about trying to do right, doing wrong, repenting for it, and doing right and wrong again? Is anyone perfect? Do we really believe we can be? No one has been able to be perfect since the beginning of time. It's nice to have high standards to shoot for but I'm here to tell ya that it's ain't gonna happen. So you might as well come to some sort of peace about that or you're going to be reading a lot of blogs trying to make yourself feel better.

Every day now I see a new blog post of "Dear Mother who does this", and then a rebuttal by the opposite kind of mom. And I'm guilty of sharing them here and there. For no reason except I quickly read, it strikes me, I share to get some discussion going on my Facebook page, and it keeps my day going. I don't know why it didn't really occur to me before, but I realized, thanks in part to a posting by an old friend, that these blog posts are all about self-validation. People needing to know that there have to be other people with them in their thinking. It's not about saying, "this is who I am- suck it!". It's about needing other people to nod and stroke and say - "ME TOO!!" Why? Because everyone is running around feeling so damned guilty. Guilty for all of their choices. To stay home, to work, to go out with friends instead of the kids, to go away for a girl's weekend, to buy something nice for yourself, to keep up your appearance, to go to the gym, to read a book and just NOT play with your kid(s). To do up holidays, not do holidays, to smoke pot (What? I just read something about a blog from a proud pot smoking mom), to breast feed, formula feed, co-sleep, homeschool, whatever. All things you shouldn't feel like you have to justify. Broken down, we're all different people, need different things and make different choices. Whatever. That's what the cheerleaders say. But I'm going to take it a step further and say- How about just not caring. Stop caring what people think about your choices. Make it your daily mantra.

Why do we need the blogger cheerleader to validate what the hell you feel you need or want to do? Why do we even need to be told it's okay to need what we need and want what we want. Why are there memes and badges and whatnot that list all the things we sacrifice when we become parents. No one else CARES. No one else sacrifices the same things. Once person always has more help, more money, more patience, more family, more something and everything. Really, all our experiences are our own. It's great to share, to commiserate, to feel heard. But everyone's level of guilt is there own too so it's up to us to just not. Not accept it. Not need the....PERMISSION to just be and not give a giant fcuk what anyone thinks about it. People get all up in arms about the judging. "Live and let live!" they cry, when it's something they do being judged. Which they forget five minutes later when they're judging the next one for something they don't do.

Judge a lot or sparingly, but I'd like to find one person who never has a negative opinion about something someone else does and I guess they should be the next one sainted. I've yet to find one. I'm not looking for one though.

I have been reading these "Dear _____ Mom" blogs and putting them all together it's like a quilt of insecurity. I don't hate Pinterest because it makes me feel less than. Or a bad mom. Or like my kid is missing out. I hate it because it's boring to ME. And because it makes other people feel bad about themselves which turns some people into annoying mompetitors (*judgment! judgment*). I don't need a pin board of stuff I'm never going to do or look at again. I don't care if you want to cover your house and kids in glitter. I don't care if you want to craft all day and night. My issues and judgments have nothing to do with feeling insecure, it has to do with feeling right! As it should. I feel right like 99% of the time. And that 1% I don't, I just move on. Everyone should feel like what they're doing is right. Right for your house and your family and your kids. And screw everyone else. Who cares if I think Pinterest is a waste of time? And elaborate Valentines a chore. Someone's reading this and other entries and judging me. We can't help having opinions. I'd rather have opinions than just be wishy washy, not knowing what I think or where I stand. I don't even know how or if that's possible. Sometimes opinions are just opinions and sometimes they're judgments. Sometimes you're judging me and I'm judging you. And sometimes I judged you one way this morning, thought about it, and changed my mind later. As Wendy Williams says, besides "How you doin'?", it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind.

Most of us, or my friends, are people who grew up in the 70's and 80's. NOT the 50's. In the 50's maybe moms cared a lot about being perfect. Or whatever the perception of perfect was back then. But that was NOT the parents of the me-me-me party time era of the 70's and 80's. Our parents weren't up our ass, they weren't so worried about anything really. There weren't blogs to read, there were cigarette's to be smoked and stories to watch. And they didn't seem to feel bad about shit. If they did, they took some Mommy's Little Helpers and washed it down with a Tab. I would bet anything the majority weren't sitting around berating themselves and looking for people to tell them they're doing ok. It was the era of Working Girl and doing it all. The difference between 80's "doing it all" and today's "doing it all" just seems like a lot more self-given guilt and insecurity. I don't know why that is, but there are trade-offs everywhere. There is never going to be a time where life is just easy, perfect, and stress free. So just embrace your fuck-ups. Try to do it different next time. But for goodness sake, give the guilt, insecurity and self-doubt the heave-ho. It's just not worth it. Unless you have a time machine you're hiding in your yard.

I hope this makes sense. Lately, as I read these "battle cry" mom blogs, it reminds me of Color War at camp. Like, we're on teams and half the time, don't even know what team we're on. Personally, I'd rather watch a mom sing-off like in Pitch Perfect than read another parenting blog.

You know how I love my Pauly D saying- DO. YOU.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cheer Tumbling Gymnastics

Cheer ~Tumbling~Gymnastics

Summer Camp at DEU2 in Fair Lawn

Are you looking to improve your skills for Cheer & Tumbling  this year?  ALL AGES WELCOME!  Join us for one of our weekly sessions this July!  Daily activities Include:
  • Tumbling:  We assess your skills and work with you to improve tumbling up to a back tuck.
  • Cheer Workshop:  Learn and work the many different types of jumps, leaps, toe-touches required to be a great cheerleader.  We will also work on basic stunting.Our coaches will have you perfecting your skills in no time!
  • Dance & Choreography:  We will work many new and different dance and movement skills while teaching you some tips to help quickly learn your routines.
  • Strength & Flexibility: Required for all levels of tumbling and gymnastics, we work on strengthening your core and much more.
  • Extras:  Learn how to make a cheer bow, Tye-Dye T-shirts and other fun crafts.
Camp runs Monday-Thursday from 10:00am-2:15pm for the following sessions:
  • July 7-10, 2014
  • July 14-17, 2014
  • July 21-24, 2014
  • July 28-31, 2014
Cost is $200 per session. Join with a friend and receive FREE lunch daily for your session! (Lunch can be provided for an additional $7 per day or you may bring your own)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Kids Eat Free

Kids Eat Free. In a really nice restaurant. I feel like that's almost unheard of. Where can parents eat like normal human beings, with farm to table food that's plated all fancy, and the Kids. Eat. Free.?

RoCCa. In Glen Rock.

So I can walk there if I wanted. Not in the weather we've been experiencing here, unless I want frost bite. But theoretically, I could.

I saw a Facebook post from RoCCa a few days ago reminding me of their Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday prix fix menu for $19.99 and the kids eat free thing on those days. I called this past Sunday sometime mid-day and made a reservation for 5:30p.

Let me explain why this was an exciting thing for me. We have retail business open six days a week. I don't work on Saturday but I'm home with E all day doing our thing. And while it's lovely to have that, by Saturday night I am DONE. I am not cooking and I want a GOOD dinner. Complete with bread. We go out to dinner every Saturday evening and have since E was born. I want my good dinner (Said like, "I want my two dollars!").

This past Saturday night I took one for the team and went to Friendly's so we could bring E and his BFF out for a very kid-friendly dinner. It was E's friend's birthday and we weren't going to be able to attend the party because E has improv class on Sundays. He can't miss class- there are no make-ups. I haven't been in a Friendly's since high school. I tried to order something on the healthier side. I got "turkey tips". It was roast turkey pieces, with dipping sauces, broccoli and rice. It was....fine. But if I had to rank it somewhere, it reminded me of something that would be served for school lunch. Back in my day since most parents won't let their Precious eat anything less than ordered-in-gourmet lunch these days...but that's another story. It just wasn't my idea of Saturday dinner. The company was wonderful, although, it would've been more relaxing sans kids. And sans the judging we got from the McJudgersons sitting behind us, glaring at our boisterous boys. Hey- it's Friendly's. If you don't want noisy kids, go somewhere more high brow. Suck it, McJudgersons.

I knew I was going to RoCCa on Sunday so I was happy. We hadn't been able to get there in awhile because we don't want to bring E, since we'd end up paying a lot for a meal he's not going to eat anyway. Not because it's not delicious but because he eats nothing. But when I realized I could order him something, it would be on the healthier side, and it would be free, I was super jazzed about it. If he didn't eat it then, he could eat it the next night, which was fine by me.

We got there, coincidentally our friends were also there, and the prix-fix menu was EXCELLENT. I wish I took a photo of the menu because all I really paid attention to was what I ordered. I got a mozzarella and tomato salad with balsamic. Three perfect tomato slices with two thick slices of fresh mozzarella. It was beautiful and delicious. B had a Caesar salad that he said was great. I had chicken Milanese which was awesome and B had spaghetti with meatballs. He said they were the best meatballs he ever had. He normally isn't that into meatballs but he really liked them. E had chicken fingers. But, to tell you the truth, I think they made Milanese and just cut it up to be fingers. So the quality was much better than your typical chicken fingers. I usually have food left over to take home and I didn't this time. Not because it was a small portion- it wasn't. I just ate it all! I wish I thought to take pictures of my meal- it was also very pretty.

We had a choice of ice cream or fresh fruit for dessert. I was kind of bummed there was no choice of some kind of cake but in trying on some of my spring pants this morning, I don't need any cake. I picked the fruit, which was really good and B & E both had chocolate ice cream. Both pretty much licked their bowl. And E almost never finishes his ice cream. This almost tasted like more of a dark chocolate ice cream. More like the difference between "real" ice cream and over sugared, over processed not-so-real ice cream.

I also want to mention- they have paper on their tables. That white paper you can draw on. That, to me, really signifies "kid friendly". So by all means, bring your crayons. We did!

I'm thrilled with our Sunday night dinner choice. I could've been home making my Blue Apron chicken pot stickers but I just didn't have it in me. Daylight savings was a huge pain and it felt like the longest day ever. I was happy just to go support a local business, sit down and relax, and enjoy a really good, no-Turkey-Tips, farm to table, attractively delectable meal.

Friday, March 7, 2014

More Happiness

It's still gray and it's still as cold as a witch's tit in a brass bra. So here I am, like the Lara Spencer of blog posts, to tell you about more stuff I'm liking these days. Tomorrow might bring temps of fifty-one degrees but then it's back this Polar Vortex blah-ness. Here's some stuff currently making me happy:

-EASTER CANDY IS OUT. Easter is in full effect in CVS next door to my store. I can't properly express how much I love Easter Candy but hands down, it's the best candy holiday of the year. I won't go into all my "likes" but will tell you about my new love. Russell Stover milk chocolate egg with COOKIE DOUGH filling. What?!, you say? Uh-huh. I bought that and a red velvet one. I like milk chocolate, not dark, and red velvet was too dark for me. But the cookie dough- forget it. Easter is going to have to come and go quickly or I'm screwed with these around. Delish.

-I needed a new eye wrinkle cream. I stopped by my friends Suzanne Zisfein at the LancĂ´me counter in Bloomingdales (I want to call it Bloomies, but all I hear is the Artie/Teddy fight from Stern when I want to say that). I got a sample of the Regenerist eye cream. It's worth it.

-Loving these "blurring" products. I have the L'Oreal "Miracle Blur" and the Garnier 5 second Skin Renew. I don't know if it's just me, I have bad eyes, or what, but I really feel like these just smooth your whole face out. I can't decide which I like better. The L'Oreal looks clear so it just looks like it's going to work. The Garnier looks like a cream. I think both work and the Garnier is cheaper. L'Oreal is approx $25 & Garnier is $17-$18 in CVS.

-We're coming up on pedicure season. WE ARE. IT'S COMING. My mom bought me a pair of Pedi-Sox a long time ago but I never bothered with them. But this winter and SOON TO BE SPRING, they're a necessity. I always mess up a pedicure because I'm always in a hurry. These are great because you can wear them with flip-flops, mid-winter, if you're going to be quick and you keep your feet warm. Just nice to have. You can get them on Amazon and other discount sites too.

black dress
-There are always events we have to go to for work or networking. I always had two go-to brands for dresses. BCBG and Laundry by Shelli Segal. It really depends by season though as to whether I'm going to like the styles. BCBG was a little disappointing for me for a season or two. I love their forgiving stretch-jersey fabric though. Same with Laundry. But it's just nice to have another brand I know will have something in stretch-jersey with a good boob neckline. That would be Halston Heritage. I'm loving everything. Before Loehmanns closed I scored myself two HH dresses. A black and a navy, both stretch, both gorgeous with cleavage bearing shapes.
-Get RID of your junk or just streamline your subscribed email. I wake up to probably fifty emails every morning. GAP, Banana, Gymboree, news, kids stuff, spas that I just can't seem to get off their mailing list- you name it. It's so nice to have them "all rolled up" and get one email with all that stuff in it. All the store mail is in one place and easy to find. It's fantastic.
-I have an OLD iPhone 4. I'm on it ALL THE TIME. Not talking but data. I have Verizon and still have the old unlimited data package that they don't offer anymore. I've heard conflicting things about whether I can or can't get a new phone and still keep my unlimited plan. So I've just done nothing. Plus, I can't just be buying expensive smartphones. But my battery life SUCKS at this point. I bought a Mophie Juice Pack Plus and it's awesome. I haven't tried any other external battery cases but I don't feel I need to try others. This is great. When my phone battery is low approximately two hours after I get to work, I just flip the little switch and it charges. I've never run out of battery with this thing. And they are great about the warranty also. I bought mine from Amazon- a third party Amazon seller. I had a problem right away. I sent it to them, they determine if it's real or counterfeit and if it's real, and has a problem, they send a new one. They sent me a new one. No problems. Now I'm having a problem again and I don't anticipate having trouble.
-Blue Apron. I don't cook. This has been helping me make restaurant quality fancy meals.
-E has taken A LOT of extracurricular activities. So I think I'm pretty good at ferreting out what has been really worth it and what was just kind of a time waster. He's been doing really great and loving three things. They are:
The Drawing Room LLC- Midland Park. I wrote about it in a former entry. But it's a great place.
Actor's Tecnique NYC- 8th Ave between 35th & 36th. Also wrote about prior. He's learning a lot.
Gary Stevens Taekwondo- Glen Rock. He's been doing it for only like six months and has made it to yellow belt already. It's been great for him in many aspects.
-Lands End bathing suits. They're the opposite of Victoria's Secret but they're not like old mom suits. They're on sale right now- regular price is 20% off. If you don't want to buy online, you can try them on in Sears. But I'm not recommending trying on bathing suits, in florescent lighting, after a "Polar Eating Vortex" kind of winter. Just FYI, I don't think that's going to go well. Best bet is to order now, try on later, and exchange if you have to. They came out with a new swimdress for this summer. Yay?
That's all I can think of off the top of my head today. So if you're stuck in because of the cold you can check all this stuff out on the internet. Then, tomorrow, when we have some non-frost bite weather, you can check them out in person.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Blue Apron: Take Two

I got three meals from Blue Apron. I'm realizing, like I imagined, that I cannot cook all three in one week. That is just way too much cooking for this novice. For someone who has really only used the microwave thus far, all the preparing takes WAY longer than the suggested thirty-five minutes. And that's actually ok. I don't mind. It's just that there are only a day or two out of the week that I have that kind of prep time. I don't know if it gets faster with practice, but damn, it takes a long time to try to mince garlic.

I was going to make the chicken pot stickers with baby tatsoi (whatever that is), but in asking other Blue Apron using friends, I was told they are a lot of work. If I was short on time, I should make the pork chops with caramelized onions over garlic escarole and blue cheese grits. Turns out Blue Apron sent me two ground chicken and no pork chops. As an aside, Blue Apron was great about the mistake. I didn't realize the mistake until the day before I planned to make them. They credited my account. I thought this was very cool considering I am a "free" account so far. Blue Apron gives some freebie weeks to customers to give out to friends who want to try it out. I got a freebie from my friend Adria so I haven't actually PAID for anything yet. Even the shipping is free (unlike It's not like I'm a proven customer.

I went to Shop Rite and bought a package of three boneless pork chops. I figured from the Tilapia meal that I would have some part of the meal as leftover that could be made into another meal - if I had the "meat" of it. I had leftover freekeh that B ate with whatever he had the next night.

Garlic with tail
Ok. So I had to mince again. Tiffany- I believe I found a "chef's knife" like you recommended, but I didn't find it easier. I went back to my little knife. I think I might buy a jar of minced garlic and just use that if I don't have a lot of time. There were less things in this recipe, which was good. But, still multitasking.

I had to make grits first. I have to say- I'm not a fan. Polenta is ok. I kind of like it. But grits are a different animal. To me, it's like cornmeal swimming in thinned rubber cement. And I know I did them the right way. I just don't like them. Sam I am. No, seriously. They didn't take long and were relatively easy. Like making cous cous from a box.

Next was caramelizing onions. Let me say first, B and I both do not like onion. In general. But I use it in brisket and now I had to use it for this. Luckily it was just one onion. I have to wear ski goggles to cut onions normally, like the four for the brisket. My eyes can't take it. This was no different but it was only one. And it was small. Caramelizing onions was not difficult but not quick either. And while it wasn't hard they do burn easily. They seem less burned in the pan than when you leave them out for the little while you're then cooking the pork. They did taste good though, which surprised me. I almost didn't bother with them at all because in my mind I already am onion prejudiced. They turned out to be my favorite part.

I'd never made pork chops on the stove. That was interesting. I ran out of foil and didn't realize the oil would be jumping out of the pan. I had a small-ish square of foil that was big enough to cover the top of the pan loosely like the recipe called for but I can't even tell you the oil mess I made. I cooked all three instead of just two. Good thing because I had TONS of grits left over.

I messed up again with the escarole like I did in the last meal with the Brussels Sprouts. You're supposed to cook the garlic in the pain "until fragrant" and THEN add the leaves. Again, I threw the leaves in the pan first. With Brussels Sprouts, it didn't matter. With escarole, it did. Escarole (makes me think of snails even though I know that's escargot), sort of shrinks. They call it "wilting" but to me it just got a lot smaller. I had to dump the garlic in it and just hope it wasn't too much. But this is a problem when you still sort of have baby teeth sized garlic pieces. It's very garlicky. Especially the way I did it by throwing garlic into the leaves like confetti. I also think I had to much wet in the pan. Olive oil and leftover pork juice. The recipe called for this but it seemed like too much. Someone who had ever seen escarole before would probably know better.

I plated it. First the grits, then the escarole, the pork, the onions, then a sprinkle of thyme and blue cheese. It looked pretty. My husband doesn't really like what he calls, "the meat meals"- he's just not a big meat eater. But he liked this and so did I. I just know that if I was to make escarole again, I'd be careful how wet it got and that the garlic was really minced (super small) and maybe not use as much. I had a lot of grits & blue cheese left over, a little escarole and one chop. So it definitely made another meal.

Again- I started at 6p-ish and finished around 7:30p. And I was sweating. But it was a really good dinner. So I guess you have to weigh the pros and cons.

Monday, March 3, 2014

E's Story Part Deux

I wish I didn't have to write a part II but I do...Maybe it will help some or one other parent out there. So here goes:

Here's Part I for those who missed it and need a back story-

So we ended with E's surgery. It went great and MIRACLE OF ALL MIRACLES- The cough is gone. And has been gone. Since the surgery in June. Four years of a two pack a day smoker's cough on a child is now a distant memory.

There's always a but....

It was summer so when he'd still seem a little allergy prone, it seemed normal. We just continued giving him allergy medicine and he seemed ok. He was on twenty-four hour Zyrtec and he was fine on it. Behavior was fine, it seemed to help and we just went on with life. In the summer, after the surgery, he started complaining that his stomach hurt on long car rides down the shore. We just kind of blew it off because he never threw up and it seemed fine once we got out of the car. Then it would happen randomly other times, but we thought it could just be food or constipation related. He couldn't go on rides or even swings at all because he complained his stomach would feel funny, but in a bad way.

Come September again, like every September, he started with these tics that seemed allergy related. Sniffling, pulling on his nose, saying his eyes were itchy, swiping across the bottom of his nose/top of his mouth, and scratching through his hair. At the time, it didn't seem bad enough to be anything more than allergies. It just got progressively worse as time was going on. I can't say exactly when it got so bad that it was distracting and extremely noticeable, but let's just say, it's March now, and it was going on, in different degrees, from September till now.

At some point the pediatrician said to switch allergy meds to Allegra vs Zyrtec because by now, the Zyrtec was doing nothing for him. We switched. Allegra was really making no difference. At first we thought it did but then we weren't sure. He was now at the point of rubbing his cheek/side of his mouth raw from the constant swiping. B took him back to the pediatrician who was SURE it was allergies and sent him back to the allergist. He said the belly thing was probably a food thing. I didn't think it was because he eats very plain/bland and eats the same almost daily.

The allergist said it wasn't allergies but wanted to put him on antibiotics. B immediately said no. We're not just putting him back on antibiotics when we don't even know what's wrong with him. He's been on almost every antibiotic known to man. The allergist then convinced B to put him on some kind of prescription nasal spray. For "allergies". Even though there was no known allergy.

E complained the nasal spray burned his nose but we wanted to use it for enough of a time to determine if it was helping or not. B called the pediatrician again and said he's still doing these tics and he doesn't think the spray is helping. The pediatrician suggested an Occupational Therapist. And gave us a recommendation.

I took E to the OT appointment. I don't know what it's supposed to be like, but I gave E to her for approximately forty-five minutes and I filled out papers. At the end, I was asked for $300 and told that the thought is that he has vestibular sensory processing disorder (or something like that, with the main word being vestibular). Well, that's a scary "diagnosis" if you read up on it. I was so thrown by the cost of the visit and then what would the cost of subsequent visits ($145/ea) and the terms thrown at me, that I couldn't even think straight. It was just all too much. Because I was also told that this eye thing he's doing is separate and even she would have to consult with a separate vision therapist to deal with that aspect. All a hard pill to swallow. I don't have that kind of money. Also laid on me was that if I don't deal with this now, it could negatively affect his reading later. Well- everyone wants to do what's best for their kid and wants to get them the help they need. I was finally put in the position a lot of parents are in where you are told xyz is wrong but you don't have any idea how you're going to be able to pay to correct it. It's upsetting to say the least.

I left there feeling sad and defeated. And a little taken. I went home and looked at the OT's website and there was a video like with Sarah McLachlan and the shelter dogs. Very "sales"-like. Immediate turn-off. We already knew we weren't going to go with this OT because she's out of network for us. We have to pay enough as it is when someone IS in-network, but we just can't pay that kind of thing out of network. Just not even possible if we wanted to go with this therapist.

I told my husband everything and he decided that he was going back to the ENT. When this surgery is done, as long as everything is fine after, they don't re-check anything. It's just over. And for most people that's fine. Of course, not for E.

B went to make an appointment with the doctor that did the surgery. Interestingly enough, this is a huge practice with numerous offices all over NJ and other states but each doctor takes different insurances. The doctor that did E's surgery doesn't take the insurance we changed to after E's surgery. So I picked the doctor that I was originally referred to as "the best"- Dr Jason Surow. I anticipated a long wait for an appointment but that didn't happen and he was able to see E in a few days.

B took him to the appointment and Dr Surow put a camera back in E's nose/sinus area and showed both E an B (who both were into the cool factor of a camera in the nose). Turns out there was a pocket of infection way up in just one side of his sinuses that we don't know how long it was there. The doctor explained that with this infection, it could've been affecting his whole facial area where he was having all these tics. He couldn't say for sure the tics would stop but he felt that a course of a totally different antibiotic than he'd been on, saline, a prescription non-allergy nasal spray, and Mucinex would knock it out, with possibly a second course of the ten day antibiotic. Dr Surow said it was a good thing we didn't go on the antibiotic from the allergist because it would've been the wrong one. And he definitely didn't think E needed to go the OT route yet and surprised at the vestibular sensory disorder findings. He felt like it could be possible that with the sinuses and infection, it could've affected everything else and we'd see in a short time from the meds. He said it's possible the constant drip and infection could make him nauseous so we'll be able to tell about the belly thing when this is all cleared up.

Again, we finally felt like this could be the END of this horrific, fifteen doctor, medical journey. We were cautiously optimistic. But this all sounded more likely then this vestibular thing. And BTW, B got an email from the OT, in what we considered an unnecessarily aggressive touch, that said spaces were filling up and it would break her heart if there wasn't a spot for Ethan. I had already TOLD her we couldn't afford her so we really didn't appreciate the tone of the guilt email. We can't magically make hundred dollar bills appear. We're not in the business of counterfeiting.

We started the medication a week ago today and he's like a different child. The tics have mostly ceased. He's still sniffing a little but he does constantly have saline being put up there and we are aware he may need a second round of the antibiotic. Really though, our main concern was the tics and if we can just rid him of those, we will be happy parents. Kramer was funny but no one wants their five year old to remind them of Kramer. Now B can't wait for it to get nice out to test out the stomach issue.

So for now, this is the cautiously optimistic end to E's Story- Part Deux. We're crossing everything we can cross that this is over. It's been an exhausting ride. But if there is any piece of advice I can give to other parents it's this:

I actually like our pediatrician and think he's a smart, decent guy. He's levels above what I was dealing with when we were going to the "holistic" doctor. I just think that there is a lot beyond the realm of a pediatrician that you have to do legwork on yourself. For run of the mill stuff, going to the pediatrician is wise and expected. But for out of the box stuff, you just have no choice but to go further. And question everything.

If you don't like what your pediatrician or any other doctor is saying- GO TO SOMEONE ELSE. Just because it's where you've always gone or they "know" your kid- it doesn't matter. Sometimes all you need is fresh eyes and perspective. Doctors don't know everything and you can't just trust what they say. Go with your gut. You kind of have to research everything yourself because no one is going to do it for you. Don't get roped into expensive therapies just because someone tries to scare you into it. By all mean- get the help you need but what I'm saying is to just make sure you need it. Make sure someone isn't guessing it's what your kid *might* need. If they don't know for sure, then keep making appointments with different doctors until you're satisfied you have the right answer. Lastly, for us, the ENT was the way to go. Use your instincts- not what your mom, neighbor, sister's husband's cousin, or your great aunt says. Fight for tests, ask questions, and see however many different specialties you feel you need to see. Do you. Because no one else will.