Friday Favs

Friday Favs- a spot where I share my favorite products, apps, sites, articles, and moments from the week.


Struggling with a phone addiction? Who isn’t? Read these innovative tips to cut back.


Attention Foodies! Have you checked out The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017? The world’s best restaurant is right in our backyard! I’ve listed the other restaurants that are also in NYC- Cosme is the only one I’ve been too and I can say it most definitely IS amazing.

1. Eleven Madison Park (New York City)

17. Le Bernardin (New York City)

40. Cosme (New York City)

Best Pastry Chef: Dominique Ansel (Dominique Ansel Bakery, NYC)

Speaking of food, please tell me you’ve jumped on the avocado toast bandwagon. How can something be so healthy AND delicious? Check out the below ideas from The Ambitious Kitchen for making your avocado toast even more fabulous.toast-1


Finally, this moment from our Mother/daughter trip to Florida for our last college visits. Decision time!

Friday Favs

Friday Favs- a spot where I share my favorite products, apps, sites, articles, and moments from the week.


This delicious Vegetable Cheddar Soup– perfect for the final days of winter.

Looking for something to do on a beautiful day in NYC? The Seaglass Carousel was amazing! My teens enjoyed it as much as my 19 month old.


I’m loving this new-to-me app called Scannable. Scan anything with your phone! Easy enough for my tech-challenged husband to embrace. Can I finally stop scanning things for him? Only time will tell…






How “clean” are your beauty products?

A few months ago, my daughter began collecting “pocket bacs,” the small, hand sanitizers from Bath & Body Works. Personally, I’m not a fan of the store- I feel like I get a headache from the scents just by walking in- but since she wasn’t actually using them (don’t even ask), I didn’t give it much thought.


But then the obsession quickly grew to include their body washes and lotions, as well as body washes, lotions and bath bombs from other stores. I decided it was time to do a little research to see just what was in all of these products.

My first stop was Skin Deep, a great site where you can type in a product and get a rating on how good/bad it is based on the ingredients.  The only problem was most of the products I was looking up weren’t on there. Hmmm. I needed to do a bit of digging.

Have you heard of the “dirty dozen” for fruits and vegetables? Well, apparently there’s a list for chemicals too!

1. BHA and BHT– Used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer (BHA).
2. Coal tar dyes: p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as “CI” followed by a five digit number
In addition to coal tar dyes, natural and inorganic pigments used in cosmetics are also assigned Colour Index numbers (in the 75000 and 77000 series, respectively). Look for p-phenylenediamine hair dyes and in other products colours listed as “CI” followed by five digits.1 The U.S. colour name may also be listed (e.g. “FD&C Blue No. 1” or “Blue 1”). Potential to cause cancer and may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain.
3. DEA-related ingredients– Used in creamy and foaming products, such as moisturizers and shampoos. Can react to form nitrosamines, which may cause cancer.
4. Dibutyl phthalate– Used as a plasticizer in some nail care products. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant.
5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives– Look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15. Used in a variety of cosmetics. Slowly release small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer.
6. Parabens– Used in a variety of cosmetics as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disrupters and may interfere with male reproductive functions.
7. Parfum (a.k.a. fragrance)– Any mixture of fragrance ingredients used in a variety of cosmetics — even in some products marketed as “unscented.” Some fragrance ingredients can trigger allergies and asthma. Some linked to cancer and neurotoxicity.
8. PEG compounds– Used in many cosmetic cream bases. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Also for related chemical propylene glycol and other ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., polyethylene glycol).
9. Petrolatum– Used in some hair products for shine and as a moisture barrier in some lip balms, lip sticks and moisturizers. A petroleum product that can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.
10. Siloxanes– Look for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane).
11. Sodium laureate sulfate– Used in foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Look also for related chemical sodium lauryl sulfate and other ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., sodium laureth sulfate).
12. Triclosan– Used in antibacterial cosmetics, such as toothpastes, cleansers and antiperspirants. Suspected endocrine disrupter and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

Pretty scary stuff, not to mention overwhelming. I decided we’d start by going paraben and BHA/BHT free.

Needless to say, my daughter was not thrilled when I began confiscating her products to analyze the ingredients. To include her in the process, I used this very cool, FREE app called Think Dirty. With this app, you can scan products with your phone and it will give you a score (much like the other website I mentioned but the scanner makes it fun!). Within moments, she was scanning away and screaming when she came across a 10 (“OMG! Get this out of here!“). I love that she could see that the items weren’t good  for her so she didn’t resist. She even joked she could become a “paraben hunter” 🙂


Her products that she will no longer be using.


My products that didn’t make the cut.

Do you have any favorite “clean” products? I’d love to hear about them!


What’s your MISSION?

A Mission Statement

 In most businesses and schools, a mission statement is developed to help ensure that everyone is focused on a uniform goal. It’s always been my belief that if we don’t know what we’re working towards, we’re standing still. I’m a mover and shaker so standing still isn’t my thing.

After becoming a stay-at-home mom three years ago, I struggled a lot with my purpose. Now by purpose, I certainly do not mean the day-to-day to-do lists that fill all of our lives. Go grocery shopping. Drop off dry cleaning. Get a car wash. Ughhhhh. Yes, these things have to get done but they definitely do not provide anyone with a sense of true accomplishment. I was looking for more. I felt I was blessed to have this time with my children but wanted to have a clear understanding of my goals related to myself and my family. Hence, the idea of drafting my personal mission statement.

Now, what goes into your personal mission state is, you guessed it, personal but I’ll share mine with you.

Mission Statement

To nurture myself, my husband, my children, and my pets with wholesome food, kind words and positive energy. To contribute to my children’s schools and my community with my own unique gifts. To be the woman I want my daughters to be~ active, educated, and cultured. To continue to read, learn, grow and be reflective and to surround myself with positive people who share the same goals.

I took this mission, typed it up and printed it and put it in a pretty frame. It now sits on my desk where I look at it often.



It’s always a good idea to have a clear focus on what you’re working toward, especially within in your home. Have a lovely day!



Dinnertime Organization

When I first got divorced, I vowed to continue to have sit down family dinners every night. This was a staple in my home growing up and I wanted my girls to have the same great memories of sitting around the table and discussing their days, while enjoying a good, home-cooked meal. This was no easy task given I was a single mom to two young children while working full-time and tutoring most afternoons until 5pm. I would then rush to pick my little one up from pre-school and get home around 6, just in time to face the ever-stressful dinnertime dilemma. Necessity is always the mother of invention so I developed a process of meal planning that helped me considerably. Even though I now have more time on my hands, I still use this system because hey, it works!



On a Saturday or Sunday morning, I sit with my cup of coffee, my folder full of recipes I’ve torn out from magazines, my personal cookbook (more on that in a minute), and my computer so I can pull up recipes I’ve pinned on pinterest (follow me here!) and plan my meals for the week. I make a quick list- M, T, W, T, F and plan full meals (usually adding one or two desserts for the week) for each of the five days. For each meal, I list all of the ingredients I’ll need on my running grocery list which I keep on my phone.


Recently, I’ve taken this one step further by listing all the meals on this great chalkboard I found at Home Goods. I also add a quote of the week that we spend some time discussing (it works great for discussing literal meanings versus the deeper meaning most quotes have). We also do something called “high/low” where each of  us talks about the high of our day and the low of our day (the lows are always interesting…I have found that here you’ll hear things that wouldn’t normally get brought up).

Now about that personal cookbook- it’s really important in my house! This blank cookbook was given to me by my grandmother when I first moved to college. She told me to fill it with the best recipes I could find and I take that task very seriously. Since I enjoy cooking and like to try new recipes, I scour recipes online, on pinterest and in magazines and try them out on my family. If the comments are “it’s ok” or “it’s good but it’s not great” we toss it. If everyone loves it, it goes into the book. The book is now filled with my family’s favorite recipes and both girls have asked numerous times about getting the book when they move out. I figure I’ll convert it into a hardcover book when the time comes and I already know how much they’ll cherish it. Find something similar here.

I usually make two to three recipes from the book that are tried and true and two to three new recipes each week. This way the girls always have a few dishes to look forward to and new dishes and foods to try.

So that’s how I do it and I have to say, dinner is one thing I don’t stress about. 15 minutes on a weekend morning and a few minutes here and there looking for recipes is all it takes to have 5 well-planned dinners throughout the week.



Planning Children’s Birthday Parties

Spring is here which, for me, means Easter, April Fool’s (I just love pulling pranks on my two girls, especially because they never see it coming), and my older daughter’s birthday. She’s turning 14 this year and, although the parties have changed a lot through the years, it’s still important for me to find a way to celebrate her in an age-appropriate,

fabulous way.


Here are a few of my time-tested party tips.

  • Choose a theme– In my opinion, this is the most important part because it touches on all other aspects of the party. Sometimes your child will now exactly what they want and other times it may be easier to start with a color scheme and work from there. We’ve done a Spa Day, a Movie Première Night, a cooking party, costume parties, probably every Princess imaginable, BBQs, a New York Yankees party, a Luau, and this year will be a “Pjs and Pancakes” party.


Everyone dressed up, even the teachers, for my daughter’s Fancy Nancy party!

  • Invitations– If you are at all crafty, here is your time to shine. Using a computer, pictures and simple graphics, you can create a one-of-a-kind invitation for your one-of-a-kind child. If that seems too daunting, choose some paper from a local invitation store (or on-line) that already has the graphics and just add the wording. Make sure the invitation reflects the theme, includes all pertinent info, and your cell number, just in case parents need to reach you on the day of the party when you’ll inevitably be running around like a crazy person.
  •  Venue– Often times, the theme and the venue go hand in hand. If you are hosting a small party, I love doing it at the house and keeping it as simple as possible. Other location ideas are~

Parks, beach, pool
Roller skating/ice skating
Kid-friendly restaurants (pizza places and ice cream parlors are great)
Birthday party places
Laser Tag
Skate parks


For our Spa Party, the girls were treated like VIP’s with limo service from school to the party.

*Remember to consider the time of the year. If your child has a summer birthday and you are planning an outside party, make sure it is a water party or that the children will have an opportunity to go indoors at some point.

  •  Keep it small– when it comes to kids parties, the smaller, the better. Experts recommend one friend for each year of age so a seven year old’s party should be limited to seven friends. Now, we now this is not always possible, especially when kids are younger and there is pressure to invite the whole class. I’ve done both and I have to say, the birthday child really does enjoy the smaller parties more. They are surrounded by their intimate friends and really enjoy the interactions. Especially with girls, the child may feel pulled in different directions concerning who to play with and sit with and etc. The age guideline is just a suggestion but it’s a good place to start. If your child really has more close friends, by all means, include everyone, but try not to feel obligated to invite everyone.
  •  The devil is in the details– The tablescape is important so start planning early. The table should reflect the theme as much as possible. Make sure you have tablecloths (I always go with solid colors and chose fun plates and other table decorations). Here is where Pinterest is a Godsend. No need to reinvent the wheel when there are so many creative ideas ripe for the taking!
  •  Goody bags– Again, keep with the theme, if possible. Stay away from little plastic toys that parents will throw away as soon as their child is not looking. I’m doing slippers for the favor for my daughter’s party because it is a sleepover. Funky shoelaces, hair accessories, and nail polishes all make great favors (Sorry that this is all geared towards girls- it’s all I know!).
  • The Cake…or not? Think outside the box~ ice cream cakes are always a hit, as are cupcakes, and I’m going to try a donut cake (idea found on Pinterest) this year. Don’t forget fun candles or even sparklers.



My daughter’s cake from last year

  • Memories– Charge the camera and video camera (if you use two separate devices). If possible, put someone else in charge of taking pictures, as you’ll be busy managing the party and being the “hostess with the most-ess”. (A good girl friend comes in handy here, as this is not a favorite task of husbands. Maybe agree to be each other photographers for your children’s birthdays!)
  • Music– No matter where the party is, good music always creates a fun atmosphere. When my younger daughter had a gymnastics party, I created a cd of her favorite songs that the gym could play instead of whatever music they had on hand. It’s an easy way to personalize a party experience and sure to keep the kids singing along to the songs they love!


 I hope these tips help make your next birthday party planning a bit easier. Are there any tips you have learned along the way? I’d love to hear them!



If you only do one thing this week…organize your photos and home movies

We all have something that never leaves our to-do lists. Something that we just work around because, for one reason or another, it is a daunting task that we just can’t bear to get started on. For me, it’s organizing … Continue reading

Book Review- French Kids Eat Everything

Have a picky eater? Or are you a picky eater? If so, you simply must check this book out! The title caught my eye in the window of a bookstore. I’m notoriously picky and, unfortunately, my youngest is taking after me. I was ready to do something about it and this book came at just the right moment.

In this book, French Kids Eat Everything, the married, mother of two, recounts her experience of living in France for a year. She has come up with ten food “rules” and goes into great detail about how she formulated them, as well as her experiences, challenges, and successes.

I happened to be smack in the middle of this book when we took a trip to St. Barth’s. Primarily a french island, I had tons of opportunities to put into practice what I was reading all about. “You don’t have to like it but you do have to taste it,” applied to all of us (I tried tuna tataki, lobster risotto, and even foie gras!). Will I be ordering any of these any time soon? Probably not, but I set a great example and my little one ended up devouring fried shrimp. I said no to quite a few snacks and look forward to implementing le goûter (a scheduled, afternoon snack) once the school year starts.

Most of the rules are common sense when you stop to think about it, but the problem is, we often don’t stop and think about our eating habits and the habits our children are forming. I know snacking isn’t good for my daughter’s dinner appetite but I didn’t connect the dots that it may be the reason she’s not open to trying new things. And I certainly didn’t realize how many times she needed to taste something before she accepted it! This book definitely opened my mind on how I eat and how I feed my family.

Bon appetit!


Keep It Simple

This is how I looked Saturday morning…

This is how I would like to look while cooking…

Last weekend was B’s birthday and I began his special day by spending close to three hours in the kitchen. I made his favorite dessert, a carrot cake, from scratch. Yes, I shredded carrots. Yes, I crushed pecans. And yes, I drove myself crazy! (Probably due to the fact that I was also attempting to make his favorite breakfast, Eggs Benedict). It was just too much.

The cake fell, the hollandaise sauce was runny, and I was frazzled. B explained it perfectly- he would have been just as happy if we would have went out to breakfast and if I would have picked up a carrot cake.  I had an ah-ha moment. The people I am doing these special things for do not care if I’m slaving away in the kitchen for hours- actually, they would prefer it if I was more present with them.

I do like to bake but maybe I’ll use a use a mix or bake the day before and buy frosting. Same thing with pancakes and waffles. Do I really need to shift flour at 8am on a Saturday? Won’t the kids be just as happy with pancakes made from the Hungry Jack mix?! I think so. I’ve decided I’m going to take some shortcuts that will allow me to save time and enjoy the process.

My goal of simplifying is beginning in the kitchen but I’d like to make everything in my life easier. Do you have any tips that make your day to day life less stressful and more enjoyable?