Love the food you eat

27th May 2015

IMG_7961“I participated in a In-Home Party Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Weight Watchers Sweet Baked Goods. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”

AHHH it’s bikini season – or for a lot of us moms – last minute dieting seasoning to try and squeeze into something that doesn’t make us look like whales. As I age (gracefully) I’ve realized my metabolism isn’t as kick ass as it used to me – so while I can’t bury myself in a pile of cookies and still look like a model, I still like to have a little indulging here and there. What is life without the good parts? 

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So I decided to try a little research on a couple of my mom friends who are diligently trying to get ready for some beach vacations (myself included!). They are always trying to starve themselves and wonder why (1) they’re miserable and (2) not losing any weight. 

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So we taste tested some treats – and I think we all agree these little Salted Carmel Brownie Bliss bars by Weight Watchers were an unexpected delight. They’re only 90 calories (2 pts in Weight Watchers) and individually wrapped so you can live a little with your sweet tooth without feeling like you’ve totally blown all that hard work you went through. This is a great reality check:

4 Tips To Love Your Food

1. Don’t restrict yourself. Everything in moderation. Carry a few of these perfect sized Weight Watcher treats with you in case you get a craving you just can’t pass up. That way you won’t be tempted by that massive blueberry bagel in the window when you grab your morning coffee.

2. Don’t think of food as food, but as fuel. Remember our picky toddler eaters? They only eat when they’re hungry – they aren’t starving. They aren’t stress eating or bored eating. Before you reach for that calorie killer – think are you really hungry or just stressed?

3. Drink more water. You hear it all the time, but it’s proven that on a daily basis, most of us aren’t consuming enough water. Many parts of the world don’t have the luxury of unlimited fresh clean water everyday, and we take it for granted. Start pouring yourself a glass more often, and you’ll also see you won’t be as hungry.

4. Mind who you eat with. If you dine with people who say F IT! I’m going for a burger and fries, you’re going to do the same. Try to eat with “healthy” eaters that will keep you on track. Same as if you smoke or drink – if you avoid them, you won’t fell inclined to participate in bad habits – eating junk is a bad habit!

Tasting is Believing Challenge

Don’t believe that read food can still taste good in moderation? Weight Watchers invites you to purchase any Weight Watchers Sweet Baked Goods treat, try it, and if they don’t love it, get their money back! Complete details and full customer reactions can be found at http://tastingisbelieving.com/

Best 2015 Baby Products from the NY Baby Show

21st May 2015

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Baby products might update and change faster than technology – and since I have preggo and new moms out there – it’s necessary to pass along all the new goodies I come across – cause everything I had just three years ago with Max is totally outdated already. (AND NO- I’m not one of the pregnant ones since I know you’re wondering). t’s just part of my job – being a socialite mom who loves to know what is happening and trendy in mom world – and of course, to get to chit chat and meet up with other fellow moms in NYC. That’s what life is all about right?

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Being a NYC mom/blogger/editor, I am part of an incredible community of fun, talented ladies and spending time with them is one of the best perks of the job – it also doesn’t hurt that MomTrends likes to throw exclusive #MomTrendsLounge events and areas for us to mingle in either. 

But now on to the stuff you want to add to your Gugu Guru baby registry:

1. Primary

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This is like American Apparel for babies – without the hefty price tag. All of their brilliant basics are $25 or less -that includes hoodies, dresses, pants – you name it. Kids grow way too fast and stain with food and playgrounds way too much to be spending insane amounts of money on trendy clothes. I still buy Max some fun staples, but for everyday wear, these are our new go-to pieces. You’ll be seeing Maximo wearing them a lot soon in our Instagram photos. 

2. Mommy Nearest

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Shamless plug for the best app for new parents and growing – yes I may have been with Mommy Nearest since day one, and be the NY Editor – but this app gets better and better. We’re now in over six major cities (New York, San Francisco, LA, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC) and expanding into Miami and Philadelphia this summer. This a location-based app that will show you the closest changing tables, which restaurants really DO have room for strollers or high chairs, and where to grab the closest emergency diaper – among others. Listen, I still use it daily, and really plan to use it when we visit DC later this month. Did I mention we curate TONS of amazing local and national content? It’s free – you’ll thank me later.

3. Hatch Things

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Good GOD it’s about time someone came up with this! Until I transitioned into our lightweight stroller for subway travel around the city, I didn’t realize just how HARD it is to travel with a reliable diaper bag or just travel bag that doesn’t tip and toss everything onto those nasty NYC streets every time your toddler jumps up. Yeah, gross. Thankfully, Hatch Things has you covered. This bag clips onto the side of your stroller, and comes in six different vibrant colors. You can grab one on Amazon for only $17 here. 

4. Snuza Hero

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When Max was first born, I had a lot of sleepless nights – not because he was keeping me up, but because I would rush to place my hand softly on his belly to see if he was still breathing. In fact, I still do – especially when he’s sick, or even just fallen asleep in the car. That just means we’re concerned moms! But this cute little clip on contraption monitors the subtlest movements and breaths for you. Movements that are are weak or occur less than 8 per minute (or if no movement is detected for 15 seconds), this little gizmo will vibrate gently to stimulate your baby. If this occurs three times, a Rouse Warning will alert you, and if there is still no movement detected for 5 seconds, an alarm will go off. You can pick one up (and sleep better!) on Amazon for only $99.

I was compensated by MomTrends to attend this baby show, but all opinions are my own. 
Photo credits: MomTrends, Hatch Things, Mommy Nearest, Primary, Snuza Hero.

Putting the Wanderlust back into Travel

20th May 2015

turksHow many times do you look forward to a vacation – and then think – I have to pack for everyone, travel on a plane, train or automobile with cranky kids and THEN squeeze into a bathing suit? Before you know it – traveling doesn’t sound so fun anymore. 

Travel and vacation is supposed to be relaxing – taking a break from the everyday elements that cause us stress, agony and exhaustion. So getting there shouldn’t been worse than the trip itself. If you’re really lucky – you ‘re able to book a trip without the kids. But more times than not, it’s going to be a family trip and you (mom!) is going to be the one still doing all planning. 

But when did we start putting all that stress back on our shoulders? It’s time for us women to take back our wanderlust!

Don’t be afraid to put on a bathing suit

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Bathing suits can honestly make or break a trip. And more times than not, we worry more about what we look like than actually enjoying the time we have with family. If you’re too afraid to put one one – here’s one big reason why you should: you’re missing out on memories with your kids you’ll never get back. So throw on one like Miracle Suit that will suck and tuck in all the right places and help you feel better about yourself no matter your size. 

Fulfill your #bucketlist 

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There are so many places to see in this world that we can’t possibly see them all before we die – so you better get started on that bucket list. Instead of always going to see the inlaws for a few days, get them to take a little road trip with you, or meet you somewhere. These wallpaper murals by Murals Wallpaper are great for marking everywhere you’ve been – or want to go. Try doing the old blindfold and spin and point and leave your next trip to fate. 

What’s on your bucket list? What’s holding you back? 

Get a really good bag 

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned about traveling, having the right luggage is one of the most critical components. Luckily, diaper bags can double as travel bags, and diaper bags have also come a long way. This jungle leather slouch OiOi bag screams adventure (not diapers).

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And we’re still obsessed with how our Lo and Sons OMG bag fits right over the handle of our carry-on AND it has a little pocket for us New York moms to slip in our dirty flats when we need to switch up to heels. 

Prep yourself with in-home spa services

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Who doesn’t love to prepare for a good beach trip with a fantastic pedicure? It’s the little things and you deserve to look good – even if it’s just your toes. We love that there are some any great in-home spa services here in NYC to help you prep in advance (without having to find a babysitter!). Try a good yoga or sweat session with Priv, get your hair blown out or get your make up down with Glam Squad, and then get a fantastic facial or mani/pedi with Spa Bear. Heck – why not invite ALL your friends over to get ready together and have a fun girls day IN your living room. How did we all survive before this??

Still not convinced to take that trip head-on? Feel free to email me and I’ll walk you through the travel/packing/planning process myself. Everyone deserves a good vacation - just be warned I’ll be confiscating your cell phone :)

This post was made possible by products provided by Momtrends. Photo credits: Momtrends

Going Texas de Brazilian in the City

15th May 2015

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I remember when I was a brand new mom in the city and wondered if it was okay to just pop in for dinner anywhere with Max in tow. Now, I wouldn’t be “popping in” for dinner at Buddahkan anyways, so it wasn’t like I was heading to places I knew were off-limits, but there is just an unspoken rule in the city as to where you “should” take kids. 

So this time I wanted to bring to your attention a place you might have overlooked that’s right under your nose: Texas de Brazil - which is right next to Dylan’s Candy Bar and behind Bloomingdales. 

The Spread – meat for days

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Since I am obsessed with food, especially meat, Brazilian steakhouses are always a great place to experience a lot of different cuts and flavors in one sitting. If you’ve dined with me, you know usually my eyes are bigger than my stomach and I order a little of everything on the menu. You don’t have to worry about that here – they bring all the meats to you! From lamb to Filet Mignon to pork roast – there’s a variety to satisfy every carnivore at the table. 

For the vegetarian

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You may not think that a steakhouse is a great place for a non-meat lover, but their salad bar goes beyond. In fact, I could have just feasted on it all night. (We even heard that Dylan from next door who is a vegetarian enjoys it and pops in!)

From fresh roasted vegetables, to cold, crisp vericots to even grilled provolone you can find an amazing plate of 50-60 different flavors to indulge in – or even introduce new foods to your toddler. 

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Not kidding that they host a little something for everyone, you can even find some fresh ahi tuna and simple California rolls. They aren’t trying to be the best at every cuisine in town, but they do offer fresh, healthy options for even the pickiest of eaters in your posse.

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Desserts and adult beverages

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Oh wait – did you just have to loosen your pants? We’re not done yet. Desserts are coming and you’re getting a piece. From creme brulee to classic New York-style cheesecake to chocolate on chocolate to (my favorite) carrot cake – you better make sure to bring your sweet tooth along for the ride. 

Cause even parents need a cocktail – you’ll be happy to know they have an extensive top-notch wine list as well as signature drinks (that aren’t overly sugary and actually contain a punch of booze). They also offer after dinner drinks such as cappuccinos, and port wines. 

What you didn’t know about Texas de Brazil

1. They’re actually family-owned – not a chain!

2. Quality Customer Service. Our waitress was on point, and super sweet. The guys who come around to your table? Personable! The GM, Joseph Mobilia, came over to our table just to see how everything was (without knowing I am press) and we ended up having a full-blown conversation with him. Since Lydia and both come from past service industry jobs, we love and appreciate quality customer service. 

3. Elevators! The restaurant is two-levels and offers some pretty cool second-story views of the Upper East Side. And there’s a lovely elevator to get you and the kids (and even a stroller!) up there.

4. Kids eat free. Under two they’re free – ages 3-5 are only $5! And then children ages 6-12 are half the price of adults. That’s a pretty good deal and we love great deals in such an expensive city. (Adults are $59.99, or $39.99 for salad bar only). 

5. Birthdays and private meetings. They have private areas so you can throw a meat filled fiesta for the family or company get together. Everyone is happy to bond over #meatsweats.

Win a free meal!

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Want to win your own free meal at Texas de Brazil? Stop by to try out the foods (or happy hour!) and take a selfie with this little green/red sign and tag them on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #texasdebrazil. 

Texas de Brazil – NYC
1011 3rd Avenue
New York, NY

10 Ways to be a Happier Parent

10th May 2015

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Yes, we have a lot on our plates as moms, but there are ways that we can be happier—and not so stressed. From toning down the yelling (c’mon, you know you do it!) to shrugging off the mom guilt, follow my ten steps and prepare to smile more.


1. Say no

We have to start learning to say no more. Remember that Jim Carrey movie where he said yes to everything? He had a lot of fun, but he got burnt out—just like you. It’s okay to miss a birthday party, or not bake cupcakes from scratch for that holiday shindig. We need to stop judging people who actually take the time to say no; instead, we should follow their lead.


2. Say yes

It takes a village to raise a child, so stop trying to do it all on your own. If someone offers to help, accept it. If that person offers to help you carry your stroller, let them, If your neighbor says she’ll watch your baby so you can take a shower, let her. It’s okay to say yes to things we think we have to manage on our own.


3. Take a sick day

Some moms tell me how they actually look forward to sick days because it forces them to take downtime with their children (think snuggling, watching movies and unplugging from social media). Sounds great, doesn’t it? Not that your child is sick, but that it gives you a day to just be a mom and nothing else. I say, take a “sick day” even if you’re not sick to just snuggle, watch movies and sleep in. Or even better, take a spontaneous “snow day” and take an outside adventure with the kids. These are the days you’ll remember. Everyone deserves a day off here and there.


4. Remember that there is no such thing as a perfect upbringing

If you haven’t seen A Perfect World, rent it—the movie truly teaches a beautiful message. It shows that our children are going to grow up, and they’re going to be exposed to the world and things we may not want them to see. We have no option but to accept it. Once we can let that go, we can live much happier lives. 


5. Quit reading negative articles

There are so many scary headlines in the news today. I’m not saying you shouldn’t read up and be informed, but the news is also notoriously known for being negative, and reading too much of it at once can be rough. Try to even it out by reading happy news—we publish lots of great inspiring stories right here on Mommy Nearest. Another one of my favorites? HuffPost Good News—they only publish positive stories! What a great idea!


6. Don’t keep score

You know you are, so stop denying it. We all do—it’s called “Keeping up with the Joneses: The Mom Edition.” If I’ve learned anything from my mom community, it’s that we all have hidden lives or secrets to keep. Sure, the mom next door lost her baby weight faster than you, but did you ever stop and think why? Maybe it’s because she found out her husband is cheating on her and she’s too upset to eat. Just be thankful for what you have. Are you babies healthy and happy? Then what else do you need.

7. Stop yelling all the time and give more compliments

Do me a favor—every time you catch yourself about to yell, switch and give a compliment really quick…mid-yell. It will not only be hilarious, but will immediately lighten the mood. Coming from someone who’s been labeled “the yell voice” her entire life, this is something I struggle with. Yelling isn’t good for anyone.


8. Shrug off the guilt

Like Taylor Swift says, just “shake it off.” As parents, we need to realize that we can’t always be with our children—and that’s okay. Sending them to day care, or going out on a date night with our spouse isn’t going to make them resent us. Instead, it will show them that we all have to make sacrifices, and that taking care of yourself is important, too. I watched this beautiful video that made me tear up because as moms, we don’t realize how our children really view us. They see us as amazing super heroes, and it’s time you saw yourself that way.


9. Do something for yourself

It’s okay to be selfish and take some alone time. Plan a trip to the nail salon with friends. Reserve an hour for a bath. Go shopping. The world won’t stop spinning, and you’re sure to come home with a much clearer head.


10. Laugh more

When’s the last time you had a full, deep belly laugh? The type that makes you double over and just let it all go. The next time you find yourself upset and angry, make yourself laugh—it will immediately make you feel better. Plus, it’s proven that laughing is good for our health.

This post was originally shared on MommyNearest.com

In-Home Spa Services for Mother’s Day

7th May 2015

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How many times can I say it? I have a love/hate relationship with this city. But if you do the checklist of pros vs. cons (like Miranda did with Steve in Sex and the City), the pros always outweigh the cons every time. 

In fact, one of my favorite things as a NYC mom is the ability to have pretty much anything come to you. From groceries to cleaning ladies and laundry pick up to yes, spa services. Moms don’t have time to lug home boxes of diapers, or haul bags of heavy laundry, or hey, sometimes even get a manicure or facial. And in the city of dreams, you can just pick up your smart phone and have all these magical people just show up at your doorstep instead. That’s bliss.

Spa Bear

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In my old(er) age and a birthday around the corner *GAH* I’ve obviously been trying to take care of myself more. With high levels of stress and work as a single mom, it’s hard to find the time to always eat well, exercise and well, pamper. So let me introduce Spa Bear. When I first met the founder, I immediately knew we would be good friends. I love the concept, and the affordable services that I can have come right to my home so I can have some TLC while Max is right there. 

Perks of Spa Bear:

– Nails, Waxing and Facials IN YOUR HOME ranging from $35-$125. That means yes they’re competitive with the salon down the street, and you don’t even have to leave your home!

– pre-appointment analysis to make sure you receive the proper treatments for your skin types

– 40% off your first booking when you sign up

– PAWS (points for services that tally up to earn you discounted services!)

How it Works:

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Book an appointment via their mobile-friendly website from your phone or computer. Have a 4×4 area in your home ready for them to work. They might require an electrical outlet. That’s it. While baby sleeps, or toddler watches a movie, I’ve been able to get my nails done, get a massage and a facial all while Maximo took his afternoon naps. Seriously – as a mom, worth. every. penny.

Note: Spa Bear is currently only available for Manhattan residents at this time. However, you can still help spread the word and/or fund their Crowdsourcing to expand and still receive some great goodies like a nail honey-kit in the mail! Or if you live in NYC, you can fund $50 and receive the $130-value premium mani and pedi PLUS a hot-stone massage!

{Giveaway} 

Listen, mom or not, we all deserve a little pampering. And in our hectic lives and schedules, what is a better way than getting it to come to you? Thanks to Spa Bear, I’m giving away 15 – yes FIFTEEN $50 credits to try it out. That’s enough to try any one of their three services (nails, waxing or facial).

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How to Order Groceries Online Like a Pro with Peapod {Giveaway}

7th May 2015

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I’d like to think I’ve perfected the art of online shopping now that I am a mom in NYC. Why? Because I already tow around a toddler, diaper bag and stroller – who has room to carry home bags of groceries let alone a new pair of shoes from the Rebecca Minkoff sample sale you just walked past. 

UGH is right.

Ordering groceries online totally sounds like #firstworldproblems – but if you do it correctly – it’s actually more efficient and even just as affordable as going to the grocery store yourself. Well, a NYC grocery store that is. haha.

5 Perks of Ordering Online with Peapod

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1. Grocery delivery has gotten advanced. Pretty much you can use the app to even pick what you want – and the lists are “smart” – they remember what you ordered in the past (a lot of repeats with picky toddlers!) and even offer recommendations based on what you like.

2. Free delivery. If you sign up – you can get FREE delivery for 60 days. After that it’s only $59 for a six-month Pod Pass (or $9.99 per month). That’s cheaper than other delivery services (oh yes, I’ve checked), and that’s UNLIMITED deliveries too (as long as each is $30 or more).

3. Save money! You can save $1 each delivery by using a ‘direct check’ or connecting your bank account online. AND you can save up to $2 each delivery by picking the most “green” time schedules. $3 per week can start to add up!

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4. Good news – we knew you were going to ask – yes they now deliver to ALL FIVE BOROUGHS. That means here in Astoria, to my friends in Fort Greene and even my bestie up in the Bronx. 

5. Peapod has the full assortment of grocery items that you would expect to find in a suburban store – without the suburbs! Think organic, Kosher, BABY items (oh yeah, they deliver those massive boxes of diapers!), and even a Best of NY selection offering speciality items from around the city like Brooklyn Bread, Grumpy Johns and more! 

BONUS – they even DOUBLE manufacturer coupons. What NYC grocery store offers that? You just hand your coupons to the delivery guy when he shows up and they’re refund the savings. That’s love.

{Giveaway}

I want you to try it for yourself. Who couldn’t use $100 worth of FREE groceries? I bet once you try their services, you’ll be signing up for a monthly Pod Pass like myself. 

 

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Toddler-friendly Huevos Rancheros for Cinco de Mayo

5th May 2015

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I was never really a big fan of “big drinking holidays” to begin with. As a bartender for most of my earlier years, these were always spent sober waiting on sloppy drunks we referred to as “amateur outings.” So when these holidays come around as a mom, I don’t particularly get sad that I can no longer run out and grab an extra-strong margarita with the girlfriends. We can do that any day.

Instead, I use these holidays to teach Max about all the cultures around us. Living in NYC, we’re luckily surrounded by different ethnicities everyday, so it’s important to me to make sure he grows up embracing this opportunity. Just a peek into our everyday life – today he got to play in Central Park while I ran to have a quick coffee with the editor’s of Women’s Day magazine to learn how to perfect my cupcake art (see more coming up soon or following along at #WDCraftCorner). Then, we stopped for a quick blueberry chocolate chip scone at Alice’s Tea Cup (the BEST) before heading home to make our Cinco de Mayo brunch together. 

Homemade Huevos Rancheros

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We all know I love to create things in the kitchen, so I decided to use some of my IMUSA tools to really dig in an make a fun and tasty Mexican meal in a way that my son would actually like it. Today he wanted scrambled eggs. Hmmmm. Being the quick thinker I am, I thought – okay, we’re going to make toddler-friendly huevos rancheros today. They aren’t exactly “authentic” but isn’t that the fun in cooking? Taking a recipe and making it your own? Here’s how we got started:

Making the Flour Tortillas:

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First, making homemade tortillas is the EASIEST thing in the world. The next time you think, oh F I need to run to the store – no you don’t – just try this recipe: (Think about all those times you make pancakes in the morning – just as simple).

– 3 cups flour
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 3/4 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup hot water
– 4 tablespoons olive oil. 

1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until sticky. Knead with your hands separating the dough into little balls (depending how big you want them to be).

2. Set the balls on a plate and cover with plastic wrap for about 30 minutes to let the dough set.

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3. Use a rolling pin or this IMUSA tortilla press to roll out the dough. Using the press, you will want to press it two or three times to really get it thin enough.

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4. Heat a pan on the stovetop (I use a little cooking spray to keep them from sticking). Place on the hot pan for about 1 minute on each side, or until little the dough bubbles and starts to turn brown in spots. Don’t overcook!

Ingredients:

– 3 eggs, scrambled (with milk)
– 1 cup red lentils, cooked
– fresh cilantro, chopped
– cherry tomatoes, chopped
– avocado, optional
– 1 lime, optional
– salt and pepper to taste

Since Maximo isn’t a fan of beans, I substituted in lentils. You should always keep a bag of these in your pantry – they store easily, are quick to cook, and are delicious not to mention – a great healthy addition to any meal.

1. Cook the lentils. Place 2 cups of water and 1 cup of red lentils in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and occasionally stir for about 20 minutes (or until soft).  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

2. Scramble your eggs. I do mine country-style with milk. I continuously chop and fluff until they’re just cooked (a little runny with milk still, you can drain off) and not overly scrambled.

3. Chop your tomatoes and cilantro while the eggs and lentils are cooking.

4. Layer! Place your lentils on a freshly puffed tortilla, add the eggs, tomatoes and cilantro.

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5. Get creative! Maximo loves avocado and lime, so I added some on top at the end, and let him squeeze the lime using this IMUSA lime squeezer. You can other fun toppings like onion, shredded cheese or salsa/hot sauce.

Viola! You’ve made your own “authentic” homemade huevos rancheros.

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#Playon, Laugh, Grow in 4 Easy Steps

30th April 2015

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We all have our up and downs, and this year hasn’t been any exception. It seems the older we get in life, the more serious we have to take things, and yet, the sadder we become because we’re missing out on the simple things in life that make us happy. 

The one thing that makes me happy, you ask? Well, this is it. It took me about 32 years to realize I was always meant to be a mom, and be at home with my son. But. I work a lot. Sometimes too much – but that’s the balance of being able to work and be at home as a single mom in New York City. However, life is too short not to have ANY fun – and I recently remembered way back a couple years ago when taking on new clients and job opportunities – that I always TOLD them straight up: I take one day a week to be nothing but a mom. No emails, no texts, no work. Just Max and myself. 

Balance: finding happiness in what you do. On assignment at Camelback Resort: getting paid to be a mom.

Balance: finding happiness in what you do. On assignment at Camelback Resort: getting paid to be a mom.

Do you honestly want to know how long it’s been since I’ve been able to do that consistently week after week? 

So my goal is to get back on track. Mentally. Not worry about eating so healthy, not worry that I might be a few pounds from my goal weight for this summer, but to actually ENJOY life. I mean, – holy F it’s already May? Where is 2015 going? The years are flying by and I don’t want to be the one who looks back 40 years from now and goes – I really wish I would’ve realized what I had back then and took the time to enjoy it more. So here’s my challenge for you.

#PlayOn

Sounds so simple, right? I get to go to so many cool events up here in NYC – it’s just a perk of city mom life. But the one thing I’ve seen a pattern in this year – pushing the notion of play. From Johnson and Johnson Band-aids encouraging play in all aspects of life, to Blick Art Studio bringing in famed artist Lotta  to show us how to be more creative in our everyday lives. – We should ALL be playing more – not just our kids.

 1. Art

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Remember those fun art classes you got to take in school and college and couldn’t believe you were actually getting credit for it? Those times of day were incredibly important because creativity helps with all aspects of your life.  I had the chance to work side-by-side with Lotta Jansdotter (you probably own something that has one of her designs on it!) learning that I actually DO have a creative side. We did some stamping (using phone rubber phone cases cut into designs!) and stenciling, as she showed me I can actually create my OWN everyday printing designs to use at home. 

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Let’s just say – you might be getting one of these fab new note cards in the mail – I WILL find the time to write out some personalized notes to my dearest missed friends out there. 

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PS – the rubber phone cases, you ask? Those actually came from Materials for the Arts - a 35,000 square foot nonprofit warehouse over here in LIC that holds tons of materials that can be used in NYC public schools art programs. So, you donate items, they sort them, and then teachers and artists can come and get all these products – for free – to help kids be creative. Remember, before you throw things out – usually they can always be reused or donated for someone else in need! 

2. Adult Coloring Books

Did you see you can even get adult coloring books now?  The Huffington Post reports that coloring is one of the NUMBER ONE ways to de-stress, and it’s not a joke – these coloring books are flying off the shelves. YES! I want one of these for Mother’s Day, please. 

3. Gardening

gardening

Planting new herbs for the windowsill with J&J and Kaboom. #playon

 

Not only are you helping the Earth and bringing fresher oxygen into your home (we can all use some here in NYC!), AND get to eat the plants – if they’re herbs – it’s proven that getting your hands dirty and just touching tangible things is great for de-stressing as well. You get back to your roots, literally.

Kaboom is another great organization that encourages more play. Children (and adults!) are missing out on their childhood by spending too much time inside and on electronic devices instead of getting their hands dirty outside. It’s finally nice outside again – make it a point to spend a few minutes out there – and put the phone down!

4. Taking a break

Think about it – if you’re just sitting around at a desk all day typing away, not talking to anyone – how creative can you really be?

And yes, that is an actual photo from Turks and Caicos above – where I’ll be heading again in June – kid-free. And no, I don’t feel guilty about sneaking away for a few days to spend some time alone with my girlfriends on the beach, and you shouldn’t either – read how to take a vacation without the kids here

{{Giveaway}}

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So Blick Art gave me these two fabulous $25 gift cards – one for me and one to giveaway but I whole heartedly want you to be able to have a little fun just as much – so I’m going to give you both of them to go and find something that will make you happy. And then I want you to share it with me. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cherry Blossoms, Roosevelt Island and Four Freedoms Park

25th April 2015

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One of the best things about living in NYC is that I can wake up in the morning and think – what haven’t we seen and what should we go explore today? Yes, I do have the best job in the world where I actually have to go and do this (twist my arm), but some days, spontaneous adventure is always the best.

Before Max, I was known to do these last-minute weekend trips. I would call up a friend and say pack a bag – we’re jumping in the Hummer and heading to….. DC, Niagara Falls, 7 Springs…. we went everywhere. Now that I am a mom (and carless) the trips aren’t as spread out. (Even though we DO take the occasional train to Baltimore or drive to Pittsburgh!) But that doesn’t mean I’ve limited my explorations. NYC is FULL of them.

One of the places that I drive over (yes, OVER) almost daily is Roosevelt Island. Last weekend I happened to actually peek down from the cab instead of checking my emails to see pops of pink lining the island and thought – this would be a fun walk for Maximo and I.

Roosevelt Island

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“Where’s the Peace?” Walking to Roosevelt Island you’ll encounter tons of incredible street art in Queens.

 Roosevelt Island is about a 45-minute walk from our house, so we trekked it getting some exercise and stopping at the local playgrounds and parks on the way. Now – I am going to play really naive here. Did you know that it’s named Roosevelt Island after President Franklin D. Roosevelt? #mindblown I know NYC has the FDR highway, and I’ve even traveled up to the Hudson Valley to see his home and grave, but all the years I’ve lived here I didn’t realize this entire island was for him as well.

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Getting there: You can walk or drive in (only entrance is in Queens), take the F train or the tram. That’s it. So it’s tricky but worth it – because in a bustling city, this little slice of paradise is really not crowded.

What you’ll find: Pack a lunch. There aren’t a lot of eating options but they do have a Starbucks, Duane Reade and deli if you need supplies.

Cherry Blossoms and Four Freedoms

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This weekend the blossoms will be in full bloom, so if you’re looking for something to do (and don’t want to partake in the crowds at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Main Cherry Blossom Festival) this is your place. The walk to Four Freedoms is lined with epic views of Manhattan and Queens with pink and white flowers encapsulating the sidewalks. You’ll see here also that they are doing some demolition – they’re about the expand the park for the summer (well, maybe next summer…)!

Four Freedoms is at the very point and worth the walk. Maybe it’s the cherry blossoms, but it reminds me a little bit of the monuments in DC. The white, pristine steps.

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The long yard of trees.

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And of course, these profound words from FDR himself. FYI – back it up to history a little bit. This park was developed around the famous Four Freedoms Speech that FDR delivered in 1941 at the State of the Union Address for his third term of presidency (he’s the only President in history to do a third term). 

As America entered the war these “four freedoms” – the freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, the freedom from want, and the freedom from fear – symbolized America’s war aims and gave hope in the following years to a war-wearied people because they knew they were fighting for freedom.

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Powerful stuff right?

Coming Up This Summer

While we were there, we scooped up the events calendar – there are tons of great family-friendly (and also for the non-family person) coming up throughout the summer. Starting with the Cherry Blossom Festival this weekend, and I Love My Park Day on May 2nd. You can learn more about Four Freedoms Park here