No Mess Summer Dessert

After a long snowy and rainy winter, my pasty skin is aching for some sun (yes, yes, with SPF of course.)  As usual, I start the summer day dreaming about the season’s cool white dresses to show off my inevitable tan, but, as usual, I worry about the practicality of buying one.  Here are a few I’ve been eying:

Temperley London Mini Beatriz Dress,

Haute Hippie Belted Ruffle Silk Dress,

Shoshanna Beaded One Shoulder Dress,


One of my obvious hold-ups for buying a white dress is that I do a lot of summer entertaining, and if I’m going from kitchen to cocktails, I don’t want to worry about having a big ole chocolate stain on my chest.  So I was brainstorming some ideas for no-mess summer desserts, and my sister suggested one of her favorite treats—meringues.


I Lost on Jeopardy. Baby.

Me & Alex

Last week I celebrated the 15th anniversary of when I lost on Jeopardy.  Actually, technically, we taped the episode several weeks before that, but it was a Friday night in February 1996 when my humiliation (and retribution) became public, so I consider that the anniversary.

I have been watching Jeopardy! for as long as I can remember, and, being fiercely competitive, at 13 years old I made it one of my life goals to be a contestant.  At one point, I had the opportunity to take the test for the Teen Tournament, though I didn’t pass the first round.  But during my Junior year in college, on a sunny day in October, I skipped class and took the 3-4 hour train ride down to New York City for the College Tournament test.  I walked into the ballroom of a Midtown hotel and was shocked to see well over 100 other college kids waiting–at least twice the field from the Teen Tournament try out.  But I felt comfortable that I was familiar with how the test would work; I took a seat toward the front and got ready to go.  I was happily surprised when they called my name after the tests were scored, and I stayed in the ballroom with a group of about 10 or 11 other kids, while the other former-hopefuls filed out.  At this point we were administered a screen test.  There were no right or wrong answers–we just read questions from a screen about 10 feet away and pretended to use the buzzer to ring in, all while being video taped.  After about a half hour or more, we were told by the producers that they were still administering 15 other tests in 3 other cities as well as New York, and that we would hear from them again only if we were selected to be a contestant or alternate.


To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse? Redux. Day 3.

The final stretch.

7:30 a.m. – Snow day.  I get to sleep late.  I look out the window to see what all the hoopla is about and am disappointed.  Maybe 4-6 inches of snow, much of it gray with slush.  Streets are plowed; sidewalk is shoveled–nothing too magical.  It makes me feel a little better about having to go to work, and a lot better about heading into the last day of my cleanse.  I open up my #1 green juice and enjoy a leisurely morning getting ready for work while my kids hang out in their pajamas.

9:00 a.m. – I feel a twinge of excitement that I am in the final stretch.  I don’t feel hungry.  I don’t feel tired.  I am productive at work.  I even start to consider extending the cleanse by a couple more days.  But I remember mostly I am just bored.  Bored of not eating–especially at dinner time–so I nip that idea in the bud.


To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse? Redux. Day 2.

Today I am cranky.

6:15 a.m. – I actually wake up in a good mood today.  Feeling refreshed from over 8 hours of sleep (such a luxury), the girls are dressed and ready for school in record time.  This morning no one asks to try my green juice, but the 5 year old reminds me that she didn’t get any of the cashew milk last night, and why can’t I drink that one in the morning so that she can have some?  Again, greed takes over, and I secretly make plans to wait until she is asleep to drink it again tonight.

9:30 a.m. – Both kids at school, I settle into work determined to be productive.  The #2 juice, a pineapple mint, even tastes better to me today.  (Yesterday it had a funny after taste.)  But the smell of vanilla cakes baking in the oven wafts into my office from the kitchen, and I begin to get cranky.  This mood settles in for the entire day.  As do the shivers–I am freezing.  I make myself a green tea and grab a small handful of almonds while I’m at it.  Cleanse, shmeanse, I think.  Logging on to Twitter, everything is about food.  Granted, I follow Eric Ripert, Tom Colicchio, Marc Forgione and other chefs, but they seem to be particularly verbose about their dinner menus today.  I notice an interesting piece in the Bon Appetit blog:  The Food Lover’s Cleanse.  A two week commitment where you actually get to eat solid food.  Why didn’t I see this before Blue Print?  I salivate as I begin to read her daily menus, but as I continue through the days, I get tired just thinking about the shopping, cooking and preparation she is doing for herself.  Plus, there’s a lot of salmon on the menu.  I don’t like salmon.  Oh well, good riddance.


To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse? Redux. Day 1.

Early last year “to cleanse or not to cleanse” was a question I agonized over for months.  Cleanses have been trendy for a while, and I had been hearing about the benefits from a number of my friends.  Still, as a serious lover of food, wine and coffee, the thought of going without for any period of time seemed unhealthy.  But, then again, as a serious lover of food, wine and coffee, only committing myself to something like a cleanse would convince me to give them up.  So I enlisted my husband to do it with me for moral support, and we cleansed.  We chose to do three days of the mid-level Blue Print Cleanse, which had been recommended by friends.

Shortly after giving our credit card number, we realized we had dinner plans on what was to be the last night of our cleanse.  “No big deal,” we thought.  “We’ll just start it Sunday night instead of Monday morning and finish the cycle by dinner on Wednesday.”  Aside from that little adjustment, we drank our juices faithfully.  I don’t remember exactly how I felt during those three days.  I don’t remember ever feeling overly hungry, and I do remember being extremely tired at the end of each day.  I also remember the one cinnamon cashew milk “juice” we got each day and what a guilty pleasure it felt like.  At the end, I didn’t feel as refreshed or healthy as I expected to, and any weight I lost was marginal.

So why have I found myself doing it again?  Well, for one, it’s January, and it just seems like the type of thing one should do in January.  Secondly, I suppose on some level it must have felt good to clean out my system, because I found myself kind of craving it after a decadent holiday season.  But I decided this time I would document my experience while on the cleanse, to make a more informed decision next time I find myself needing it.  So here it goes….


I Want to be More Like the New York Yankees

This isn’t easy for me to say. Growing up in Washington, DC, I was born and bred to hate the Yankees, and I’ve spent the first 98.5% of my life thus far doing so. But after 12 years of living in New York City, I’ve turned a corner. Some may call me a bandwagon fan. That’s fair, but, in truth, they’ve won several World Series since I’ve lived here, and my affinity toward them started in the beginning of the 2009 season.

You’ll remember, they spent much of the first few weeks of this season in last place and struggled all the way up to the All-Star Break. I laughed out loud at how miserable they were, but I began to take an interest in them. So why am I not surprised that, despite that start, they’ve played their way into their 40th Pennant win? And, very possibly, to their 27th championship title? (Sorry, Philadelphia.)


The “Do-Over!”: Reinventing Your Failing Business

In New York City foodie circles, Locanda Verde is kind of a big deal. One of the hottest new restaurants of the spring, those who are lucky enough to get reservations have been raving about it. Located on a prime corner in Tribeca, in Robert De Niro’s new Greenwich Hotel, Locanda fits in perfectly with the neighborhood scene—stylish 30- and 40-somethings in creative industries intermixed with bankers and lawyers trying to look like creative-types.

However, a year ago people were singing a different tune. The restaurant that the hotel opened with, Ago, did not fair so well. It was much anticipated, with LA chef Agostino Sciandri at the helm. A large, fancy Italian restaurant, it was sure to attract investment bankers with (dwindling) expense accounts, but there wasn’t much of a lure for other types.


The Early Childhood Admissions Assessment

When my daughter, Marin, was just 36 hours old, I sat in the lobby of the hospital waiting for my husband to pull the car around, so we could take her home for the first time. An older man turned to us and started chatting about my adorable 6-pound bundle. “Are you planning on raising her in the city?” he asked. I nodded. He laughed and said, “Then I guess you better start looking at kindergarten!”

Four years later, our daughter is looking at kindergarten for fall 2010, and the floodgates of private school admissions competition are just beginning to open.

A key piece of that admissions process is “the ERB test,” or ECAA—Early Childhood Admissions Assessment. You see, in an effort to make the application process less grueling for the children, the schools accept one centrally administered standardized test as part of their evaluation. Of course, this makes the process more grueling for the parents. There are no re-dos. Your child gets to take the test once and only once a year, and that score, that one score, is passed around to all the schools you apply to. No pressure, right?