November 2015

Monday, Monday– or a few links to some helpful post holiday cold & flu remedies

neti pot

Every home should have a neti pot. And this one is handmade out of ceramic (unlike the blue plastic one we have in our medicine cabinet) so it’s easy on both the eyes and the environment…

The day after thanksgiving, my daughter woke up with a sore throat and a barely audible voice. I’ve been in high octane remedy mode ever since… and I figure I’m not alone. So in honor of this particular and pernicious part of parenting, I give you a few links to some information and solutions to help beat that ubiquitous cold.

You probably already have some apple cider vinegar in your cupboard. If so, start sipping. You can also add a bit of cayenne pepper to the mix to help knock out that fever before it has the chance to really take hold.

An herbal face steam with thyme, rosemary and oregano will do wonders for your cough or congestion. Plus it’s kind of like turning your kitchen into a spa!

According to several studies, elderberry, when taken regularly, is as effective against influenza as a flu shot. I keep some homemade elderberry syrup in our fridge all season long.

We all know that Vitamin C is great against a cold. Why not make your own chewable tablets?

Omega 3 fatty acids boost the immune system, increase airflow to your lungs and generally make your brain work better by helping to strengthen the outer layer of your nerves. Clearly we all need to have some of this fat in our lives…

Astragalus is one of those plants that is on every herbalist’s list of things-to-take-all-the-time-during-cold-and-flu-season because, among other things, it boosts the immune system, supports liver function and gives you more energy. But did you know that it also helps to prevent white blood cell loss during chemotherapy?

And then, there is always the dreaded neti pot. No one likes them. But they clear up sinus congestion like nobody’s business.

Oh and ps… here’s a link to a post I wrote this past spring that lists a number of other remedies/supplements/etc you might want to consider as the temperatures fall and the health falters…

Yesterday, at some point…

mike's 50 bday

So last night I went to a real old school birthday party. Small dark room, DJ in the corner spinning Slick Rick and Tribe Called Quest, a bunch of sweaty people, mostly in t shirts and jeans, dancing their a**s off… I rolled back into my apt at around 3 am, after a quick slice of pizza to take the edge off. Just like back in the day.

Except for this time, the wine was top shelf, drinks were on the house, and the birthday balloons proudly announced the half-century lifespan of the honoree.

If this is 50, bring it on.


Yesterday, at some point is a series of photographs that describe a moment I experienced during the previous day (or thereabouts). The posts are meant to be stand alone images, though at times I can’t control myself, and I end up expanding the caption into a more lengthy bit of text. Hopefully the extra information is useful, or at least interesting. If not, feel free to ignore it.

Setting the table

table settings on one kings lane

A golden pine cone adds a bit of magic to the family table. Photo courtesy of One Kings Lane.

So by now you probably have some idea of what you’re going to be cooking for, or bringing to, Thanksgiving dinner… But if you’re anything like me you are still casting about for table decorating ideas. We have our family meal at my parents’ place, and my mother is super creative and sets a festive and elegant table, but God forbid I just leave well enough alone. I always insist on spearheading some 11th hour place setting project that involves children and glue and whatever other messy art supplies we have on hand.

This year, I’m thinking we might go for something like this golden pinecone-plus-flat-placecard-on-the-plate idea I saw on One Kings Lane’s fantastic blog. The sparkle adds a bit of glam to the table and makes it feel more like a party. There are a whole bunch of great ideas in that post, so go check them out and get inspired! I can’t wait to see what we come up with, once all of the artisans (i.e. me and the kids) hit the table!

Monday, Monday– or a few links to some last minute Thanksgiving help

Photo from

Photo from

Here are some really beautiful ideas for kids crafts in Italian (but you can pretty much figure it out from the photos) and Russian (this site can be translated via Google Translator)

Evidently, Mark Bittman (of NY Times Cooking fame) has figured out how to roast a turkey in only 45 minutes.

Joanna Goddard (of A Cup of Jo) asked a few of her friends (myself included) for their favorite dinner party tricks. I’m gonna be stealing a couple of them for sure!

Starting from square one? Food52 shows you how to do it all, from drinks to food to table decor.

Perhaps you need some ideas for the vegetarian at the table?

It is never a bad idea to go check out what Martha has to say when it comes to crafty ideas for decorating the table.

Get the kids thinking about the “thanks” in Thanksgiving with this fun DIY cootie catcher game.

Yesterday, at some point…

gift bag

This is a photograph of one of the gift bags we made for my daughter’s most recent birthday party. It wasn’t taken yesterday, but the party was recent enough that it still rings fresh in my mind. We try to make our gift bags original and free of candy and “junk” (which means totally different things to me and my daughter, but whatever) This year we gave everyone a little wooden star, a little bird that you can clip onto a tree or a bedpost, a miniature rubics cube and a small bit of play dough (evidently all kids still love goop of some kind…) We made the bags out of fabric, cut out individual tags and tied them up with some white ribbon we had laying around from an old craft project. (See– sometimes saving stuff is totally justified!)

The party was really fun, but crazy expensive in the way that evidently many NYC parties are when you rent out a space. I could go on about the Birthday Party Racket, but I am going to take the high road and just remember the screams of joy, the happy expressions on all of the kids faces, and the fact that we are not going to be having a birthday party again for a long time (we’re switching to experiences instead, thank goodness…)

Yesterday, at some point is a series of photographs that describe a moment I experienced during the previous day (or thereabouts). The posts are meant to be stand alone images, though at times I can’t control myself, and I end up expanding the caption into a more lengthy bit of text. Hopefully the extra information is useful, or at least interesting. If not, feel free to ignore it.

Music that my kid actually loves thanks in large part to her music teacher

the sojourners

A fine album cover if ever there was one…

One of my favorite things about my daughter’s school is their music program. They learned basic music theory through singing Louis Armstrong and Carole King, they learned to play Bill Withers songs on the recorder, they are learning about rhythm by beating on the West African djembe. The entire school gets together monthly to sing Neal Young and the Beatles, folk songs and spirituals… It’s really a dream come true. Because at the end of the day, she will remember these songs long after many of the other aspects of elementary school have become distant memories.

So during this season of thanksgiving, I would like to express my gratitude to one Mr Seth Ginsberg for his role in helping to shape my daughter’s excellent taste in music. And I would like to share a few of her favorite I-learned-this-in-school songs with you all today. If you’re signed up for Spotify (it’s free), just click on the little triangle below to listen:

And here’s the tracklist if you want to follow along…

Welcome Table – The Sojouorners
Papa Was A rolling Stone – The Temptations
When You’re Smiling – Louis Armstrong
Lean On Me – Bill Withers
Ain’t Too Proud To Beg – The Temptations
I Feel The Earth Move – Carole King
Having A Party – Sam Cooke
Dancing In The Street – Martha reeves and the Vandellas
When The Saints Go Marching In – Louis Armstrong
Stop In The Name Of Love – The Surpremes
Azucar Negra – Celia Cruz
Everybody Loves To Cha Cha Cha – Sam Cooke
You’ve Got A Friend – Carole King
The Bare Necessities – Louis Armstrong
The Welcome Table – Hollis Wadkins*

*This last one is a more politicized version of this song than they sing at school, but I am finding it relevant these days, so I’m adding it in for yur listening pleasure…

Serving it up!

Linea Rainbow Serving Spoon from Gretel Home.

I want this Linea Rainbow Serving Spoon from Gretel Home badly.

I am a person who has lots of stuff. Some would argue too much, and for the most part, I would have to agree with them. I’ve even expended all sorts of energy and time and mental space trying to de-clutter my life. The results have been mixed, at best, but I am determined to clear out some space, so I will continue to make the effort.

But as Thanksgiving rears its formidable head again this year, I realize that there is one essential item that is missing from my tabletop arsenal: the serving spoon. I basically just use big soup spoons or borrow from my parents next door or use the salad servers, because I never remember the lack of these items until I’m putting food on the table.

But this year is different. I am looking now, and maybe, just maybe, 2015 will be the year when I begin to be able to dish out the holiday deliciousness in a more appropriate manner.

Above is my current obsession, the rainbow spoon. It has a matching fork, too. Of course they are made to order from Italy and take a month and cost a small fortune, but that makes them all the more desirable…

small corner everything spoon

Next we have the Small Corner Everything spoon, individually handcarved in California of the finest walnut. They even come with a small bottle of rubbing oil to ensure that we take good care of them.

food25 dipped spoon

Or maybe we take the wooden spoon in a different direction by adding a subtle hint of color, like the Wind and Willow Home folks have done with these Fresh Soil-Dipped serving spoons. The rubber handles also make them easy to hold, for those of us with perpetually slippery hands.

vintage silver spoon

Or maybe I go old school and pick up this simple traditional spoon that I saw on Krrb… the seller is in my neighborhood so this spoon could be mine in a matter of minutes!

canvas oslo spoon matte black

Or there’s always black, which goes with everything. This Oslo Spoon by Canvas feels both modern and timeless, so it’ll fit in nicely with everything we already have!

If any of you folks out there have any good suggestions, I’d love to hear…

Monday, Monday– or more links about clean water, evolution and talking to kids about terrorism

Sure, it’s an ad for a book, but you should all watch this video compression of the evolution of the human race. It’s less than 2 minutes long and absolutely mesmerizing…

Here is a nice, easy way to make rosemary oil for your hair, which is great for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is repelling lice.

In my constant quest to use less plastic, I’m thinking I might chuck the Britta filter in favor of purifying my water with a stick of binchotan charcoal in a glass bottle.

A few helpful tips on how to talk to your kids about terrorism, particularly in the wake of the attacks in Paris.

Who doesn’t love checking out creative slightly out of the box ways to use the furnishings you buy at Ikea? Apartment Therapy serves up 10 great Ikea hacks for our viewing pleasure.

Thanksgiving is RIGHT. AROUND. THE. CORNER. But never fear… The New York Times has a whole menu planner that will help your meal come together as if by magic.

And while we’re on the topic, the great Ina Garten serves up some make-ahead Thanksgiving advice on Food52.