For personal family reasons, I have had a difficult past week with lots of tears shed and feelings of despair and sadness. Many friends went above and beyond and have been an incredible support. Thank you for listening, thank you for the wine, thank you for the lunch, thank you for check ins and calls, and thank you for being my shoulder to lean on. It means the world to me, so thank you.
It is also during these times that I miss my parents the most. Growing up, whenever I got upset (either by throwing a temper tantrum or having my feelings hurt), my father would type up letters with some big moral and place them on my pillowcase. My father (the smartest man in the world) is also incredibly sensitive, wise, articulate, and thoughtful. It was during those hard times that I looked forward to his letters the most. Especially right now, I so wish I had these letters and could relate them to my feelings.
So when I came across this book “Letters to My Baby” it tugged at my heart strings and I had to buy it. Not that they are similar to my father’s typed up letters, but they are a great keepsake and something a child can have forever. Write now, read later, treasure forever. They are little paper time capsules that contain 12 letters where a parent can write to their child. Each letter has a different prompt for the parent to write about, and then you date, seal and keep the letters for your child. I love this idea.
Vintage Air Mail look in a great little booklet.
As a devoted regular of Taryn Toomey and her class, I have met a group of tremendously talented and incredible women. One of them, is Larissa, who just started Onda, a store that sells natural beauty products. She has incredible taste and has curated the best assortment of products currently on the market. She is incredibly thoughtful, knowledgeable, and is a walking encyclopedia on every item — Enjoy!
Larissa: a beauty inside and out!
Honestly, nothing makes me happier than homemade baked goods, creative touches, and a hard working and inspiring mother. And Ilana, the founder and creator of Upper SweetsideNYC is all that. Ilana has created her own business of custom cakes, cupcakes & cookies for kids bdays and special occasions. Not only are the baked goods beautiful, but they are delicious too. Ilana is a fellow mother at my kids’ preschool, and through our morning chit chats and social media, I discovered her incredible talent. Ilana is a true example of a strong, empowered, and passionate woman who dreamed and created her own destiny! Here is an interview: — thank you!
One of the beautiful cakes created by Ilana!
For the past several weeks, I have been on a fragrance scent kick. Essential oil blends that smell divine versus perfumes full of harsh chemicals and overpowering smells. Here are my top three fragrance oil scents — I honestly can’t get enough of them.
Big little small; all uplifting, clean and bright scents.
I just bought the most clever napkins ever, introduced to me by my bestie Amy at a brunch she threw. Yet, they are presents not for myself (currently, we do not have our own home, so there’s no need to hoard napkins quite yet) but to have in my stash of presents for friends. These witty and creative napkins by August Morgan are the perfect hostess gift, pick-me-up present, or even a birthday present (who said napkins for your birthday are not the best!). You can buy the napkins as mix and match which makes it even more fun.
A set of four comes in a little nifty box with a ribbon to close it with.
Inspired by What’s Gaby Cooking, I have been making a raw brussels sprout kale salad weekly. Basically, it is shaved brussels sprouts, finely chopped kale, and a variety of nut and fruit to give it some JAZZ.
What would I do without KALE?
With a blink of an eye, we are now 1/12th done with the calendar year! My oh my, and what a whirlwind it has been. Here are some good links and reads around the world wide web.
This is a picture of my handsome father in 1961. Born in Poland as a Jew, he was kicked out in 1969 and Sweden granted him citizenship, along with other refugees. In 1974, he immigrated to the United States where he went to Stanford University for another graduate degree. Thank you, Sweden, for accepting my father and welcoming him into your arms. And America, let’s continue to welcome people of every religion, race, and background. We are all children of immigrants.
I am constantly on the search for several things: the best granola, natural deodorant, lipstick, and cookie (who needs anything else?). For each, I always think I have found “the best,” until my next new discovery. But honestly, I just found the best new natural deodorant, and I don’t think I will ever say that again… because THIS ONE, is seriously… The. Best. Natural. Deodorant. Ever.
Don’t judge a book by its cover, but COME ON, this packaging is gorgeous. Seriously, I felt bad recycling the box!
Almond and peanut free! Sugar free! Gluten free! Baking free! SOLD. And even better — they taste divine.
As the (still?) New Year is a time of reflection and improvement, I sought out my ever so wise friend, Pamela Gold, to answer all my dying questions. Forever a source of knowledge, she was the perfect person to ask a series of neurotic and panicked questions! Thank you, Pamela! You are the best! And yes, her answers are novels because she has so much to share always. It is a lot of information all at once, so if I were you, read it now, save some for later, but READ IT. It is worth the length and time it takes to read it. (NO PICTURES BECAUSE THE WORDS ARE WHAT IS IMPORTANT).
Peaceful images for peaceful thoughts.
This past Fall, I discovered a small independent bookstore in New Canaan that I fell in love with — Elm Street Books. Not only does it have a great selection of books, but the employees are incredibly knowledgeable and give great recommendations. Last weekend, I went in with three needs: books my emerging reader son can read on his own, books that I can read to BOTH my kids, and books for myself. Two different employees helped me out and all of their selections have been spot on perfect. Here is what they recommended! Thank you, Elm Street Books! We will be back!
Elm Street: Walked out with a new bag filled with books — nothing better.
This past week, I made the most delicious and healthy banana chips. These are both satisfying and sweet with no sugar whatsoever (other than the banana itself). The only issue is that we ate them so fast that now I need to make more!
Scrumptious banana chip!
Before the holidays, one of my best friends introduced me to the most amazing wool shoes. She and her husband both have them in multiple colors. Made from New Zealand merino wool, they are lightweight, breathable, fashionable, chic, comfortable, (and warm)! (Links: women and men.) Not only are they good looking but they are a good price point ($95) for a shoe you will wear everyday!
Wool and good looking!! (These are a men’s pair I got for Ken.. I am buying a pair soon!)
For the holidays, Cruzzie was gifted President Obama’s children’s book “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters.” (I’m not sure how iI missed this for so long… it was published in 2010.) The book is thoughtful, educational, emotional, and beautiful. The first time I read it to my kids, I cried (yes, I am prone to crying, but still — this book is powerful). When you read the book, you can hear President Obama’s voice — and what an awe inspiring and powerful speaker he is (can we talk about his farewell address? We were in tears. How I will miss him!). This book is a must have for everyone –it is also a perfect gift.
This book is very timely It is also a good reminder of how many strong people have shaped our history.
My new favorite green salad dressing — better than green goddess as it has no dairy or mayo. A must try! Super easy and delicious. A great way to start the new year — fresh and green.
* 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
* 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
* 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 1 tablespoon white vinegar
* 1 teaspoon salt
* juice of 1/4 a lemon
We are officially five months into our home renovation project, and slowly, it is taking more form and becoming more like a real home! The lights are now in (not the light fixtures, but the electrical outlets and lights on the ceiling), the walls are in place, and the stairs connect the floors!!! Mind you, it is far from done, but I now have a better sense of what it is really going to look like, and I can’t contain my excitement. Take a look at the newest pictures:
The new entry way!
Thanks to my mother-in-law’s company and industry, I have had the privilege of meeting and socializing with some of her amazing friends and colleagues. Jaqui Lividini is one of the most interesting- beautiful, elegant, ever-so-glamorous, always fashionable and chic, creative, and inspiring. Jaqui runs her firm, Lividini and Co, which is a brand strategy company and works closely with many high profile companies such as QVC, Ellen, Hudson Bay, and many more. She is smart, strong, fierce, sweet, and the most beautifully decked out lady I have ever seen. Anything she wears is perfection. I had the opportunity to do a quick fire interview with her, so take a look!
Hands down, the highlight of our 2016 trip to the Philippines was our visit to Pangulasian, El Nido, Palawan. To say the resort, scenery, environment, location, food, service, experience was amazing is an understatement. I will go out on a ledge to say that it was the most beautiful and breathtaking vacation I have ever been on. It was so incredible that I would fly across the world again tomorrow to spend more time there.
To get to the resort, we had to fly from Manila to El Nido, then take a van to a boat. The boat was a tiny speed boat that took 20-30 minutes to get us there. Worth every travel minute to get to this paradise.
Happy New Year! For whatever reason, this year, I felt ambitious and decided to come up with 17 resolutions (goals / to do list / aspirations) for 2017 rather than just 5 or 10. (I think I had time to think about it for 24 hours when traveling back from Asia on Friday!) Here they are:
Heading into 2017.. a dock in Palawan in The Philippines (more on our vacation to come!)
1. Give myself more credit. I am hard on myself and rarely acknowledge (and applaud) my own accomplishments and successes.
2. Accept (and love) my body for the way it is. Be kind to myself.
As we are halfway around the world with Ken’s family, The Josie Guy is helping me with some blog posts this week. Fair trade. Here he is:
As discussed in the Josie Girl’s Punta Fuego post, we have been rotating between stints in Manila and out. One of the highlights (outside of family) of being in Manila has been Kidzania. What is Kidzania? In short, it is a huge indoor pretend city that allows kids to role-play by conducting adult activities. There are currently more than 20 locations around the world and it is on its way to the States.
Our holiday trip to the Philippines has been a mix of time spent in metro Manila where most of Ken’s family lives, and time spent out of Manila, which is more know for beautiful beaches, nature, and tourism. (Fortunately, Typhoon Nina didn’t do as much damage to Manila as some had forecast). Our first getaway was to gorgeous Punta Fuego, where we went with Ken’s 11 cousins (on his mom’s side of the family), 4 kids (including our two), and 2 of 3 spouses (including me). Enjoy the pics!
Club Punta Fuego has an amazing infinity pool. Toosh enjoyed her lounge time.
Wishing you and your loved ones the happiest of holidays as we wrap up an interesting year.
Thank you for reading the blog and for all of your support.
Hi there- the front of our holiday card
Our laughing munchkins
We are still on the other side of the world with Ken’s extended family in the Philippines. Wishing you the best.
I will let Ken’s Instagram post speak:
Yep. 2 hours of delay on the snowy JFK tarmac, 16.5 hours to Hong Kong, an hour layover, another 2 hour flight to Manila, and two hours through customs and to Ken’s family’s house later, we are in Manila for a family reunion extravaganza for his mother’s side of the family. It is 5:30 AM Manila time now and the kids have been up for 2 and 4 hours respectively, but we are excited that we made it without dramatic incident (though we are still waiting on the kids bag to come… hopefully later today).
I love chocolate cookies, but even more, I love ginger cookies. So when I stumbled upon ginger-molasses-healthy cookies on goop, I knew I had to make them. Shockingly, I followed every single ingredient and step, but they miserably failed (turned into liquid and melted all together). So, the next day, I altered the recipe, and now they are perfection. Sweet, chewy, not not overly sugar-y, spicy, and peppery. NOTE: You must refrigerate the cookies for at least 12 hours, so you have to think ahead in terms of timing.
End result: spicy perfection. I am giving myself a high five because the second time around, they were absolutely perfect.
One of my best friends happens to be one of the most organized people I have ever met. She literally has a folder for everything, a labeled box for anything, AND she has a genius way of organizing holiday cards — by hole punching them and putting them on a ring. No clutter, no loose mail, and everything is all in one place. So I did as all fans do and copied her. It sounds so silly, but it’s been a game changer! It might be an overstatement to say it has changed my life, but I kinda feel like it has. #Dramatic
You simply punch a hole in the corner and put it on the key ring. So easy (and cheap). And it feels so clean and organized.