27 articles

After the party is… the day after the party

interior of Fung Tu

The interior (during the day) of Fung Tu, a “creative” and modern version of Chinese American home cooking (if your home had realy cool geometric hanging lights over lots of tables with an angular leaf like wallpaper on the walls. Oh and Jonathan Wu was your personal chef…) Photo from ny.eater.com.

Last night we went out with one of my favorite couples (isn’t it great when your college buddy actually marries someone who’s company you enjoy as much as theirs?) They eat out a lot, or at least one of them does, as he works at the dining section of the NY Times, so we always let them pick the venue.

And let me just say, we have never been sorry.

This particular dining adventure took us to the lower east side, to Fung Tu, a sort of contemporary super personal subtly creative take on Chinese home cooking with a crazy and extensive bar (how I found myself cradling some mysterious and delicious gin based drink is anybody’s guess!) The place has that hometown-Brooklynish-local-minimal-slightly-turned-upside-down feel, but with Chinese food, which makes the whole experience pretty singular and amazing. Plus it’s nice to sometimes travel to Manhattan for a meal.

We had white asparagus, stuffed figs, steamed buns, fried rice, pork chops and a bunch of other dishes, each one better than the last. I am not a food critic, but let me just say that a good time was had by all and my stomach was especially happy about our choice of venue.

Wild Rose eye treatment by Korres

Wild Rose eye treatment by Korres

Which brings me to this morning, when I woke up and looked at my tired face in the mirror and wondered if I would ever be well rested again in my life.

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is “not any time soon.”

So I reached into the medicine cabinet and pulled out the Korres Wild Rose instant brightening eye treatment I bought last week at Sephora. I’d staggered into the (kind of intimidating) mega beauty emporium and just pointed at my eyes, begging the salesperson to help me do something about the tiredness. I figure if I am destined to be exhausted, so be it. But I don’t have to resign myself to looking that way.

She took me straight to this stuff, I skeptically tried some, and lo, the circles under my eyes lightened and the puffiness was reduced. Not to zero, mind you, but it actually was a little bit better. And the longer one treats the eyes, the more improvement one sees. Plus the heavy lifters are all natural. Essential oil of wild rose is doing the work, not some kind of crazy bleach.

I’m still trying to improve my sleep habits, but this will do in a pinch. Because I’m not planning on giving up my fun dinners out with the people I love any time soon, damn it.

The Sandman doesn’t cometh nearly enough…


I have to admit to secretly being jealous of Sleeping Beauty… I could use 100 years of sleep right about now. (painting by Edward Burne-Jones)

Basically, I am in a constant state of tiredness. I’m either exhausted, or just plain tired, pretty much all the time. And I’ve heard that when we sleep 5 hours or less a night for 3 nights in a row, our ability to function is the same as when we are legally drunk.

Without any of the fun.

That being said, I am trying my damndest to do anything I can to remedy this situation, but the most obvious thing (Get more sleep!) seems to elude me. An engaged life in the big city with a kid and a husband and work and not much childcare does not leave a lot of room for shut-eye.

Enter sleepyti.me, which I am hoping is going to save me.

According to all sorts of science, we sleep in 90 minute cycles and it is much easier and more beneficial to wake up at the end of a cycle than in the middle. In other words, it’s not so much about how much sleep you get as whether or not your sleep patterns align with these cycles. So, in the case of shut eye, less can sometimes mean more.

All you have to do is tell sleepyti.me when you want to wake up, and it will calculate the optimal times for you to fall asleep. So if I need to wake at 6:15, I can fall asleep at 9:15 or 10:45 or 12:15 to reap the benefits of my natural cycles and wake up feeling refreshed. You can also tell it when you are going to bed, and it will give you the ideal times to rise and shine.

Needless to say, I will be trying this tonight. Anyone else game?

Limeade to the rescue!

braggs limeade

The apple cider vinegar people of choice have now gotten into the beverage business.

It’s spring break this week, so for us that means all bets are off, routine-wise. Movies every day, extended playdates with friends, a general optimistic feeling that warmer weather is here to stay…

Then comes the dreaded email from school about a student having strep throat, and the whole world of swimsuits and butterfly chasing comes crashing down around us.

Especially as our little one has a bit of a cough.

So I turn to all of my usual remedies with a vengeance, and while I was stocking up at the local health food store, I discovered another addition to the arsenal. Because while Mommy’s apple cider vinegar and honey tea is dutifully consumed, a prepackaged limeade from Braggs (that just happens to have that same magic vinegar in it) goes down like a treat.

And who doesn’t like a treat every now and again?

Real live magic fairy dust!

cool kid mist

Just a spritz of this and your child will transform from a whirling dervish into a cherubic angel. Or something like that…

The minute I saw this little bottle of Calm Kid Mist on the shelf at Kiosk, one of my favorite local spots that I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing about by now) I knew I had to have it. Visions of spraying a bit of this over my daughter’s WHY-CAN’T-I-HAVE-ANOTHER-BOWL-OF-ICE-CREAM storms and having it instantly dissipate are very very appealing.

Well it might not be quite that dramatic, but a nice gentle whiff of lavender and lemongrass will tone down even the most potent tempests. I’ve been spraying a bit on my daughter’s pillow before she goes to bed and I swear she’s falling asleep more quickly than ever. Plus her room smells lovely, which is never a bad thing.

ever hydrosol

As Fancy Nancy would say, a hydrosol is just a fancy way of saying mist.

And then for the Mamas, there is this Clary Sage Hydrosol from my absolute favorite (and brand new!) aromatherapy company EVER Brooklyn. Billed as a woman’s emotional rescue (sign me up!) the scent of clary sage is wonderful for relaxing without sedating. Because we grown ups need some fairy dust too!

Spring is here, and so is the flu…

first aid kit

The good thing about this last burst of cold/flu season is that your local pharmacy is most likely well supplied with all of this stuff. As opposed to mid January when it’s all sold out…

It looks like the end of the tunnel is in sight. We’ve had a couple of days in the 50′s, which at this point feels warm beyond all reckoning. We have also had snow flurries, freezing rain and temps in the teens in the past few weeks. The combination is a recipe for disaster.

Which is why, though I really did mean to post this oh, back in November at the start of the cold and flu season, I am writing about it now. Because my daughter was out sick this week, as were all sorts of other folks. We can’t let our guard down. It ain’t over till it’s over, my friends, and it is far from over.

Here is a quick list of the various things I do to keep my family as healthy as possible. And I must say, we’ve done pretty damned well this year.

Elderberry tea, they say, is as effective as a flu shot if taken regularly. It is also available as a tincture, and an extract of the plant, in pill form, called Sinupret works wonders on sinus infections. Elderflower tea works more on upper respiratory problems, while the black elder, which is also more tasty, is what people tend to take for flu and chest issues.

Honey is just delicious. Turns out it is also great for calming a cough. In a tea, with lemon juice, hot water and apple cider vinegar, it can potentially cure whatever ails you. This is the drink I usually make at the first sign of cold symptoms. You can also add a little cayenne pepper to the mix, if you (or your kid) can take the heat.

Oil of Oregano is a powerful antibiotic used to treat respiratory tract disorders, gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, menstrual cramps, and urinary tract disorders. It is overwhelmingly potent, so dilute it at least 1:3. I usually take a drop of this while I’m waiting for the water to get hot for my apple cider vinegar tea. I would not recommend giving it to your kids, unless you don’t want them to trust you ever again. It tastes horrible.

I first discovered Oscillococcinum when I had a cold in Paris, which sounds much more romantic than it was, let me assure you. I worked really really hard to learn how to pronounce it so that I didn’t sound like a fool to the pharmacist when making my purchase… Actually, this was my introduction to homeopathy, a practice that is as common in Europe as taking aspirin is here in the States. You put a bunch of these sugary pellets under your tongue as soon as you think you may be getting sick, and they magically make the illness go away. But you have to catch it at the onset. This is great for kids, as the medicine is so mild, and it tastes good.

ColdCalm is just like Oscillococcinum, but for sniffles more than aches and fever. Same pros and cons apply. My daughter LOVES this stuff.

Chestal is basically honey in a jar. And yet it actually works surprisingly well as a cough suppressant. One thing to note: the kids formula is IDENTICAL to the adult version. It’s just a marketing thing to put the word “kids” in happy crayon writing on the bottle. Everybody can drink from the same vessel, in this case.

Put a drop of sinus oil under each nostril and you can feel the passages clearing up instantly. A combination of eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree and thyme, you can also put a few drops of this in the humidifier before bedtime to help you breathe more easily through the night.

As might be evident from the extensive nature of this list, I have tried all sorts of homeopathic kids medicines, and for whatever reason, that I honestly cannot explain, Natrabio’s Children’s Cold and Flu Relief drops are the ones that work for us. So I now always stock it. I notice it is often sold out, which is reassuring, if also a bit annoying.

And lastly, but potentially most importantly, the twin pillars of Goldenseal (another natural antibiotic) and Astralagus (used in Chinese medicine to support the immune system) in tincture form are also quite helpful when taken at the onset of symptoms. I tend to give mild tasting Astralagus to my daughter to avoid her demanding some kind of ice cream chaser, as she does with some other drops I try to get into her.

I’m sure there’s lots more, but this should get you through at least these last few weeks before Spring settles in for good. Please feel free to add your own favorites in the comments. I am all about learning new tricks wherever I can!

no more tears

Well, almost. Hair combing is never a 100% pleasant activity around my house. To get through my own tresses, I have to soak my head in conditioner and then go at it piece by piece– the entire process takes the better part of 45 minutes. My daughter, unbeknownst to her, has it easier. We just get her hair wet during the bath (easier said than done) and then spray some of this fantastic Black Vanilla leave in conditioner/detangling spray by Carol’s Daughter on her head and voila, the comb slides through without too much of a struggle.

And believe me, I know from struggle. I’ve used nothing (impossible!) California Baby’s detangler (next to impossible!) Once I even slathered her noggin with some Bumble and Bumble stuff I got in a gift bag. Which worked but she smelled like a beauty salon for a week. I am as dedicated as a sane parent can be to using all-natural products but was reching the end of my rope when some kind soul recommended that I check out Carol’s Daughter. And I have been singing the praises of this miracle elixer ever since. They also make a kid-specific detangler that I am sure is as superb as the black vanilla, but I prefer the scent and, yes, the subtler packaging of the grown up product. We do share a bathroom, after all.

more info if you click below:

If you aren’t lucky enough to live in Ft Greene or Harlem, you can find this life saver online by clicking here. I’m telling you, your life will be changed for the better, I promise. And you can spend less time struggling and more time doing fun stuff like blowing bubbles and reading extra bedtime stories… Which is the whole point, right?

soulcycle chronicles

Here is the piece in it’s entirety… we are going to build a frame for it as well, but I’m not patient enough to wait for that to be done before I start showing this thing to the world. It took days to put up, as each image is affixed individually to the supporting board, but it is sooo worth it. I am really happy with the way it turned out.

What is it, you ask? I was commissioned by soulcycle, an indoor cycling studio (yep, spinning) to make a piece that celebrated the community of incredibly happy (and in-shape) people they have built up over the past three years. As they grow from a single sweaty room on the upper west side to a 5 studio empire, it is still the extended family vibe that takes center stage. So when you walk into the newest, biggest studio at 103 Warren Street in Tribeca, you are greeted by hundreds of smiling faces which is only the beginning of what will most likely be an incredibly positive, if exhausting, experience.

more below…

It was fun, hanging around and getting to know this world and then documenting it in my favorite format (the instant photo) I’ll be shooting more details in the next week or so, as I’ll be down there shooting a professional style photo of the piece in it’s entirety (not to diss the iphone shots, but…) For now, here’s a detail above and a view of the wall before we added the official signage.

I also want to officially thank Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler (SC’s founders) for sponsoring the project, the almighty Amy Peck for hooking us up, and Josh Liberson, Leslie Unruh, Ed Messikian, Phil Danza, Jill Selsman and Sofia Rower, without whose very concrete assistance I would not have been able to pull this off.

More photos to come!