Has it really been a year?

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Yes, in fact it has been a year and a week since I last posted on here. I’d like to say that I’ve just been SO BUSY that I couldn’t blog (although honestly I hate when people use that as an excuse). The truth is I haven’t written because I hadn’t written. First it felt silly because, “Geez, it’s been a month!” Then it got to be two, three, six, etc. And now here I am. A year later.

So what’s new, readers? Not too much is new over here, which I guess isn’t bad, but I am starting to feel a bit stagnant.

One thing that isn’t stagnant is this kid of ours. Last time I posted he was 1+ and a little pot-bellied munchkin.

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Now he’s a walking, talking, funny kid.

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We’ve been living in our house for over four years and I’ve been saying I’m ready to move for two. I want to move somewhere with a little more personality and charm. Sea Cliff? Huntington Village?  The thought of getting our house ready to sell and then showing it, and selling it, and packing it, ugh. It’s overwhelming. For those of you who have done it, send me some courage! Have any of you sold a house without a realtor? I’d really like to avoid parting with all that money.

My students head back to school on Tuesday and even though I’m sad to say goodbye to summer, I’m looking forward to seeing coworkers, enjoying cooler weather, and celebrating fall holidays. Here are a few funny links for those of us going back to school:

New Classroom Rules @ Little Miss Perfect

Funny teacher memes here and here. This one is my favorite:

Hey, I Like Your Cocktail!

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I was introduced to a very special friend, Vodka Gimlet, back in 2009. I went to dinner at Sweetwater Restaurant with my friend Katy and her husband  (Hi, my name is Jenny and I’m a third wheel) and I had a variation of a gimlet that was so delicious I’ve been drinking them ever since.

A traditional gimlet is made with gin, and although I can’t say I’ve ever had gin, I’m convinced I don’t like it.  There are tons of ways to jazz it up, but all you really need is ice, vodka and FRESH lime juice. If you try to make this with bottled lime juice (I’m looking at you, Rose’s Lime Juice), consider yourself a failure at making cocktails and go open up a wine cooler like it’s New Year’s Eve 1997.

Some prefer simple syrup to sweeten it up a bit, others like it shaken with some mint or basil (yum!). I recommend it on the rocks because I like a strong drink to be frosty cold. Depending on how strong of a drink you like, you can use anywhere from 1.5 to 3 parts vodka for every ounce of lime juice.

On a recent trip to the Berkshires, Matt and I stopped for a cocktail at Allium in Great Barrington and I loved how the bartender served my gimlet with a sliver of lime, not a slice or a wedge, but the thinnest little shaving. It looked so elegant and delicate. I’ll definitely be copying that next time I make them!

Hey, I Like Your Dessert!

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Matt and I headed back to Red Hook for some foodie goods and this time I made sure to stop by Baked on Van Brunt Street. I was not disappointed. Miraculously, I managed to make it home before I cracked open the box (maybe that’s because I had just eaten a lobster roll and mini-key lime pie).

We bought a Nutella cookie, a sweet and salty brownie, and the big winner… the salted caramel bar. Upon taking my first bite of the salted caramel bar, I said, “Oh. Oh wow. That is very, very special.” A shortbread bottom, caramel middle, and chocolate top, sprinkled with flaked sea salt. Heaven.

Baked has a few cookbooks out so many of their recipes have made their way onto the internet. This one in particular looks promising.

image: annies eats

Heads up, it has five sticks of butter. FIVE.

Hey, I Like Your App!

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I downloaded Red Stamp last week after seeing it mentioned on A Cup of Jo. The app is free and available on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. (According to the website, there is no Android version yet because of technical issues.)

Using Red Stamp, you can create cool thank you cards, invitations, birth announcements, holiday messages, etc.

Many designs can be personalized with photos and can be sent via text, email or with a physical postcard (!).

Using the app to send digital cards is free.  Paper postcards cost $2 and decrease in price if you’re ordering in bulk.

Since it’s free, you don’t even need a holiday to send a card. (Here’s Nolan with a surprise he woke up with)

On A Cup of Jo, Joanna Goddard suggested it as a modern twist on sending thank you notes from new moms. If you are a new or new-ish mom, you’ll probably remember the whirlwind that is the first few weeks and months of motherhood. While friends’ and family’s generosity is beautiful and kind, sending out those thank you notes can zap every free moment you have. Everyone suggested, “Sleep when the baby sleeps!” but I couldn’t. I had laundry and thank you notes to write.

What do you think? Are digital cards (particularly thank you cards) as “acceptable” as paper ones?

Hey, I Like Your ____________!

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Probably a dozen times a day, I find myself thinking, Oooooh, I like that house/haircut/dessert/blog/app/podcast/etc. It’s usually followed up by, I should put that on my blog!  Then I sit down at my computer and realize, Ummm…I don’t have a lot to say about that. So that’s why I’m starting, Hey, I Like Your ____________! Quick little posts with things I come across and want to share.

#1 Hey, I Like Your HOUSE!

I spotted this house in Floral Park’s West End, just down the street from the elementary school. Isn’t it charming? The picture definitely doesn’t do it justice.  I was trying to inconspicuously take a picture while strolling past with Nolan and my mom. It was obvious that people were home and my mom was hissing, “Be careful!!!”

I want to live in this house.

Over-Modesty?

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With all the civilized discussion (shit show) that occurred over the Time Magazine cover recently, I wonder if we’ve now gone to the other extreme of being overly modest about breatfeeding. I popped onto Buy Buy Baby’s website yesterday to look into booster seats and saw this on the homepage:

So that’s cool, they’re using Breastfeeding Awareness Month to sell stuff, I get that. Contrary to what some people say, breastfeeding does cost money. You need a pump; a pillow helps; a blanket or nursing cover is handy, etc. The thing is, though, that lady isn’t breastfeeding. I’m all for modesty and consider myself a master of the public breastfeed while offending as few people as possible, but that’s not what’s happening there. It’s just a lame picture of a woman, fully clothed, holding a baby on a pillow.

Considering the amount of cleavage that’s EVERYWHERE, would it really have been so offensive to show actual breastfeeding while promoting Breastfeeding Awareness Month? Especially considering that it’s a website most often frequented by mothers.  I don’t know what it is about that picture that bothers me so much, but I would have much rather had no mother/baby image at all than the pseudo-breastfeeding that’s going on.

Sticky Steamy Summer Sad Face

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As you may have deduced from my blog’s name, I live on Long Island. I used to believe that Long Island had an appealing climate. Wintery winters, springy springs, summery summers, you get the picture. After this summer, I’ve changed my mind. Heat wave after heat wave – and the humidity! Ugh. It’s like this evil weather-killer. I take a peek at the week’s temperatures and see low and mid-80s and think, Ok, that’s not so bad. And then I step outside and it easily feels ten degrees hotter and so much stickier.

Remember when summers had cool nights and breezy mornings? When you needed a cardigan or denim jacket if you were headed out to dinner? Not this year. Here are some ways to keep cool.

1. Go to the mall – Not only will you cool off, but you will also forget that it’s even summer. Stores are pumping up the A/C to encourage you to buy fall clothes. We stopped at Roosevelt Field the other day and the stores were easily 60 degrees, with the employees warmly bundled in the latest collections.

PS I want this:

And these:

I also wouldn’t say no these:

Ok, so maybe spending too much time at the mall would be a bad thing.

2. Go to the beach – If you are fortunate enough to have a child who doesn’t enjoy eating sand, the beach is always an option. Nolan enjoys eating sand by the handful. He maintains direct eye contact while he does this because he knows he isn’t supposed to. If you try to give him real food to eat, he will cover it with his favorite condiment, sand.

3. Drink cold drinks – Like these

Or my favorite tasty drink that I wrote about here

Just say yes to a vodka gimlet. If you’re feeling adventurous, try these basil infused ones.

Stay cool, people!

Best Breakfast Spots

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Breakfast is, without a doubt, my favorite meal. I love a spontaneous pancakes-for-dinner night and when I’m on vacation I’m most certainly NOT an, “Oh, let’s just grab a bagel,” kind of girl. No. Breakfast should be delicious and fattening and be served with tasty coffee beverages. Here are some of my favorite spots for this very special meal:

1. Toast in Port Jefferson – it’s a hike to get there (for me) and I haven’t been there in ages, but I dreamily think about this place at least once a week. Everything is delicious and they make the best cappuccino I’ve ever had. Seriously, the best. It’s very small and they don’t take reservations (that I know of), but if there’s a wait you can put your name down and stroll around Port Jeff.

2. Thomas’s Ham and Eggery in Carle Place – Thomas’s looks like a diner but the breakfast is definitely not typical diner fare: Croissant French Toast, delicious egg skillet things, etc. There is often a wait but sometimes even when there is a line you can score a seat at the counter.

3. Brownstone’s in Amityville – After many glowing reviews from a foodie friend, we tried Brownstone’s this week and were not disappointed. Friendly service, good coffee, and the Pecan Stuffed French Toast was well worth the drive to Amityville.

4. Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck – Very charming decor, quality coffee and they always have good breakfast specials. The outdoor area is pretty but the seats are ridiculously uncomfortable so opt for inside if it’s available.

I’m certain that I’m missing tons of good breakfast places. Where should I head to next?

Image: Flickr

Baby Gear Part II – Nursing and Feeding

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In case you missed Part I in the series, here are my recommendations for nursery furniture.

The First Born, Fred Elwell 1913

Buying gear for nursing and feeding ahead of time is tricky because it’s hard to know, especially for a first time mom, what you and your baby will like. For that reason, I would avoid buying a lot of anything beforehand, or if you do buy it, don’t open it all in case you need to return it. Here are some of the items that worked for our family. Again, I’ve labelled the items as Buy It, Borrow It, or Believe Me, You Don’t Need It.

Bottles – BUY IT 

Bottles are a prime example of a time when babies prefer different types. I registered for Thinkbaby bottles because that’s what the lady in Giggle recommended, but Nolan couldn’t suck from them. There is nothing wrong with that brand, my friend’s baby loves them. The lesson is don’t go crazy opening and sterilizing a bunch of bottles (like I did) until you see what your baby likes.  A quick search on Amazon revealed that Dr. Brown’s seem to be the crowd favorite and they worked for us as well. I used the plastic ones with Nolan, next time around I may try the glass.

Solid Food Supplies – BUY IT sparingly

At around six months, your baby will probably be ready to try solid food. Your pediatrician might say four months and he or she is wrong, but that’s just my (and the American Academy of Pediatrics’) opinion. If you plan on making your child’s baby food, just remember that eating nothing but purees is a pretty brief period so it’s not worth spending a ton of money or kitchen space on babyfood making products. A blender or food processor and cheap vegetable steamer get the job done.

Breastfeeding Supplies

Nursing Pillow – BUY IT and BORROW IT

The two nursing pillow favorites seem to be the Boppy and My Brest Friend. For newborns, the My Brest Friend is great. It is very firm and creates a stable shelf-like surface for your baby to nurse. After a few months however, it becomes unnecessary and it’s kind of a pain to get on and off. It’s also an even bigger pain to remove and replace the cover, which you’ll do fairly often when your baby is spitting up/peeing/poop-sploding on it on a regular basis. The Boppy is great for after the newborn phase and makes a lovely pillow for you. It’s soft and squishy and I still love snuggling with it. My recommendation is buy the Boppy and borrow the My Brest Friend.

My Brest Friend

Boppy

Breast Pump – BUY IT

If you’re breastfeeding and plan on leaving your house without your baby, you will need a breast pump. A good one is expensive but it’s absolutely necessary. Go with a Medela.

Nursing bras and tanks – BUY IT

Depending on how boobalicious you are, you might be able to get away with comfy camisoles most of the time. Before having a baby I thought I’d be worried about exposing a boob in public. Ha! The boob is easy to cover up, it’s your stomach you’ll really want to cover. Camisoles solve that problem because the front comes down to nurse and no belly is exposed. Win-win. Go with one that’s mostly cotton. I had one that was a bunch of synthetic fabrics and it made me want to claw my eyes out. I bought many of my favorite bras and tanks at Target.

Nursing Cover – BELIEVE ME, YOU DON’T NEED IT (sort of)

Use an Aden and Anais blanket instead (tie two ends to make a neckhole). It’s thin and breathable and offers more coverage than a nursing cover.

Other Breast Feeding Stuff – Send your husband and/or mom out to BUY IT when you figure out what you need

You may need nipple shields if your baby has trouble latching, nursing pads for leaking (heads up: that doesn’t last forever!) and other fun (sarcasm) stuff.

The most important thing you’ll need for breastfeeding is SUPPORT!!!

Even though I read a lot ahead of time and spoke with a lactation consultant, once the baby was actually here I felt completely clueless. There was one lactation consultant for all of Winthrop Hospital and she could barely squeeze me in for ten minutes. Nolan wasn’t latching on one side and because her time was so limited, she pretty much just shrugged her shoulders and said, “Ok, well good luck.”

If you have people in your family or close friends who breastfed, they can be invaluable help. Don’t be shy. Boobs are boobs. Prior to giving birth, make contact with a lactation consultant so that you can quickly make an appointment at home if you need it. There are tons of breastfeeding support groups and again, try to gather the information on them before you give birth.

My dear friend Liz gave me this book and it was extremely helpful in the first few months.

Ok, so what am I missing? What feeding items did you find most or least helpful?

Tex-Mex Snacks

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My friend June and her sweet babbly baby Devin came over for “brunch” this week. I say “brunch” because there was nothing brunch-y about the meal, but it occurred before noon. I made an easy black bean salad, guacamole and kick-your-ass margaritas. Although wholly inappropriate for 11am, this little menu is perfect for happy hour or pre-dinner snacking.

Margaritas – Barefoot Contessa’s recipe is my favorite (no surprise there). They are not too sweet, frosty cold, and very refreshing. Combine three cups of ice (about one tray’s worth) with 1/2 cup of fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 1 cup of triple sec in a blender and blend until smooth. Add 1 cup of white tequila and blend for another few seconds. Serve over ice and enjoy. Don’t go crazy with a super expensive tequila but don’t totally cheap out. I use Jose Cuervo Silver for these.

Black Bean Salad – I found this recipe doing a quick search on Food Network’s site. Heads up: contrary to what the website says, it takes longer than 10 minutes to prep. It’s probably closer to 30 minutes to do all the chopping.  Because I wasn’t in the mood for a ton of spice, I used a half of one jalapeno without the ribs and seeds. I used champagne vinegar instead of sherry vinegar, and I also omitted the pinch of cumin because I wasn’t feeling taco-ish.

Guacamole – If you’ve ever eaten at Besito, you’ve probably had their tableside guacamole. Besito generously shared the recipe on its Facebook page a while back and it’s very easy to make. I don’t have a molecajete so I use the back of a wooden spoon to grind the ingredients together. If you’re making this for more than one or two people, you’ll want to double (triple?) this recipe.

Enough about food, here are the kiddies.

They’re on the move! And yeah, I know my kid is dressed like an old man. We didn’t leave the house that day.

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