Scrumptious Banana Bread

The other morning when I was at my good friend’s house, she had just pulled banana bread out of the oven (how she makes banana bread while dealing with two kids on a school morning amazes me to no end!). She offered a piece, and although I had already eaten breakfast, I couldn’t say no. And HOLY crap, this was the best banana bread ever. Thankfully, she sent me the recipe and here it is!

 

This is how I bake....6:30 am on a Sunday morning, in my pajamas, totally disheveled, with my little baking partner (my 4 year old), with flour all over myself. But at least I am wearing FEATHERS undies.

This is how I bake….6:30 am on a Sunday morning, in my pajamas, totally disheveled, with my little baking partner (my 4 year old), and flour all over myself. But at least I am wearing FEATHERS undies. (I promise you this photo was not staged — Ken took  a photo of me because he said it looked ridiculous with the hand print).

 

Ingredients:

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Park City, Utah

It feels like a million years ago that we were on vacation with our dear friends in Deer Valley / Park City, Utah. In reality, it was just a week ago (another trip to the West Coast this weekend for my sister’s wedding sure makes time confusing). Deer Valley was the perfect ending to a fabulous summer, filled with lots of activities and simple family fun with great friends. Here is a recap of our trip with recommendations.. Deer Valley is a PERFECT summer getaway (particularly at the end of the summer after Utah schools start up… everything was empty which was perfect!)

 

Utah

Utah

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Oregon Coast 2016

This past weekend, the kids, parents and I went to the Oregon Coast to escape the hot temperatures of Eugene (in the 100s) and surround ourselves in the beauty of the Oregon Coast. We had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed nature, and family (minus Ken, who was in New York). Take a look at the pictures.

 

The Oregon Coast is always much colder than inland .... which makes sense, but this past weekend it was 30 degrees colder. 30!!!!

The Oregon Coast is always much colder than inland …. which makes sense, but this past weekend it was 30 degrees colder. 30!!!!

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My Eugene Summer Routine 2016

I love my summers with my parents in Eugene.  It couldn’t be any different than our routine in New York, and I love the change of pace both for me and for our family.  Not very glamorous or fashionable or social; but very nature-centered, kids focused, with lots of fresh air. Take a look.

 

I wake up very early and do my morning workout before the kids eat breakfast. I just get up, and do it. Then, after the kids are fed and dressed, I take Cruzzie to camp (in the car). From there, Tusia and I start our day of Tusia-Mama Camp (the oh so exciting camp) which means:

 

Trips to the grocery store...who knew that they could be so exciting?

Trips to the grocery store…who knew that they could be so exciting? And who knew I needed to go most days? (Her cousin Nadia is pictured – Toosh is hiding behind the grocery cart).

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My Sister’s Bridal Luncheon

Last Friday, my sister Courtney and I hosted a Bridal Luncheon to celebrate our baby sister, Galen, and her upcoming wedding. The lunch took place at Olympia Provisions in Portland. Located in a hip / up and coming industrial area of Northwest Portland, the restaurant (which also is known for its meat sold nation wide) was the perfect venue. The lunch was super special with a great group of girls, delicious food, bubbling sparkling wine,  and a glowing bride-to-be.

 

Truly, a la Portlandia.

Truly, a la Portlandia; garage, brick, burlap, and meat.

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4th of July Weekend 2016

Happy short week (and happy belated birthday, USA)! I hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend and off to a great July (holllllly smokes). As always when with family, we had a great weekend celebrating with my brother and his family in Seattle. The only bad news was that Ken was unable to fly out as planned due to a storm on Friday night in NYC. After 4 hours on the tarmac and his flight being canceled, he sadly didn’t make it to the west coast. We missed him but will be reunited with him for 10 days on Friday! Here is a recap of our weekend!

 

We went sailing in the evening on Lake Washington (pictured: son Cruzzie, brother Giora).

We went sailing in the evening on Lake Washington (pictured: son Cruzzie, brother Giora).

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Mother’s Day in Paris

Bonjour! Hello from NYC after a whirlwind trip celebrating Mother’s Day with my special mother-in-law Josie Natori! As most of you know, I have a deep profound love for Paris and feel that it is my second home (Cruzzie corrected me and said “third’ — after NYC and Oregon, so true true). As it had been over a year since I had last been there, I was dying to get there. So my mother-in-law and I (just the two of us), jumped on a plane and went there for the long weekend. And what a special and wonderful treat it was. I am currently cross-eyed from no sleep (Jet Lag and I don’t mix), and we #ShoppedTillWeDropped, but it was so special and fun; a weekend to always remember. Take a look.

 

The view from the apartment. There is just something so special and glamorous of the buildings there. #BuildingEnvy

The view from the apartment. There is just something so special and glamorous about the buildings there. #BuildingEnvy

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Russ & Daughters

The new Russ and Daughters inside The Jewish Museum is a must eat and must see destination! This past Sunday, when my father was in town, we had the chance to go to Brunch with the family and celebrate my side of the family’s heritage.

 

Located in the basement of the museum, it is in fact sub-terranean, but still a great location to visit even with no windows.

Located in the basement of the museum, it is in fact sub-terranean, but still a great location to visit even with no windows.

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Grandparent’s Weekend

My son’s school had Grandparent’s Day this past Friday, so I called up my parents and begged for one of them to come. My father, newly “retired’ (he is still kind of working though..) agreed to fly across the country to make a 2 hour appearance (along with Ken’s dad – Ken’s mom was out of town) for his beloved grandson.  Not only do I love my father so much because he is *my* father and the smartest, sweetest, grumpiest, most active, and fun 71 year old; but also because he is a devoted and loving grandfather to his 5 grandchildren (2 of them are my kids). He truly loves them and looks forward to every opportunity to spend time with them….like the whole summer when we move into his house in Oregon! As expected, my upbeat and energizer bunny father, was up for anything and partook in all our adventures and explorations. Take a look at what we did!

 

My dad was the Junior Chess Player of Poland (and my uncle wrote a book about chess)....and I have no idea how to play chess....

My dad was a Junior Chess Champion of Poland (and my uncle wrote a book about chess)….and I have no idea how to play

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Puerto Rico 2016 Highlights

After our wonderful vacation in Mexico with my parents, we headed to Puerto Rico with the Natori Seniors…YUP #hardlife and YUP #travelwithparents. We had a luxurious, lavish, relaxing, and fun 5 days (just like last year. Same vacation, different year). Take a look at the pictures….wish I was back there NOW! NYC is flipping cold and un-Spring like.

 

Traveling to Mexico to Puerto Rico is not so much fun, but what is really unfun is a 4.5 hour layover in Dallas. So we had fun by taking the airport monorail for a good 45 minutes (circle after circle after circle)

Bucerias, Mexico to Puerto Rico isn’t exactly a direct flight.  We had 4 hour layover in Dallas, so we killed time (at the kids’ request) by taking the airport monorail in circles for 45 minutes.  #KillingTime

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Ken’s 40th Birthday!

Happy boy

 

My husband Ken is one of the most caring, down-to-earth, and fun people I know, on top of being extremely brave, courageous, and committed. For his 40th birthday, he threw a concert (similar to his 38th year birthday recital) but instead of doing it solo, he cobbled together a full band (frequent readers know he started taking guitar lessons 3.5 years ago when he won an O.A.R. Sound Check at a silent auction). So, with a lot of work, practice, and dedication, he had a fabulous 40th birthday party last weekend.  I am so proud of him for putting himself out there and taking risks. Here are the photos (most of them are taken by Cynthia Delconte, our wedding photographer!) Enjoy!

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Special Plate and Announcement

DRUM ROLLLLLLLLLLL…….my hubba hubba husband is now El Capitan of The Natori Company (also know as President). For some readers, you might think OBVI, he is the son, so of course, he is President. But that is not the case. Ken never thought he was going to work for his mother and set out to make a name for himself. He was a TV and radio broadcaster at Bloomberg for 5 years (Ken Natori, What’s the story?), then went to Stanford Business School (near-perfect GMAT scores), worked at Lehman Brothers for several years (left before the crash), and then joined the family business in 2007. I am proud of my husband for working hard, committing to what he believes in, being a diligent and thoughtful worker, and at the same time as being the smartest person I have ever met (other than my brother and father —  they all tie for first place). So now, a new era of new life for the Natori business, and I am proud and in awe of my husband’s dedication, drive, and talents. So to celebrate, I got him this plate (this is not a joke).

 

YUP, "You are special today" BEST GIFT EVER.

YUP, “You are special today” BEST GIFT EVER.

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Sunriver Christmas 2015

Happy 2016 and back to reality! We are back to the routine (school, work, pressure, paying attention to time, the hustle and bustle of the city, oh me oh my!), which makes me even more nostalgic of last week’s Sunriver vacation with my family. Although my dad claims that there is “family” and “vacation” and no such thing as “family vacation,” I happen to disagree. We had the best time with my brother, sister-in-law, parents, nieces and nephew; and loved every minute of our time with them. Here are some pictures to enjoy!

 

SNOW! And lots of it! Unlike the 70 degree Christmas in NYC, the west coast was hammered with cold temperatures and lots of show -- perfect for a ski vacation!

SNOW! And lots of it! Unlike the 70 degree Christmas in NYC, the West Coast was hammered with cold temperatures and lots of snow — perfect for a ski vacation!

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Christmas Celebration 2015

Hello from (grey and cold) Florida! We had an early Christmas celebration this past Friday night since we were all headed in different directions (Florida then Oregon for us Natori Juniors, the Philippines for the Natori Seniors, and New Jersey for my sister, Courtney). Take a look. And listen to this because it is amazing!

 

Santa visited us (thankfully, I remembered that he was expected to bring presents to the kids -- so darted out to the closest toy store to get MORE presents for the kids, as we celebrated "Christmas' in the morning as our family of four). This Santa, although wearing latex gloves and a little creepy, was BY FAR the best santa that we have seen compared to years past. No flask, no chain smoker, no creepiness.

Santa visited us (the four of us actually celebrated Christmas that morning…. so I had to run out and get more presents for Santa to deliver to the kids!). This Santa, although wearing latex gloves, was BY FAR the best Santa that we have had compared to years past. No flask, no chain smoker, no creepiness.

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Plastic Cups

Plastic cups; not very glamorous sounding, but trust me these will CHANGE YOUR LIFE. My best friend, Amy (who by the way, introduces me to 99% of what is cool / hot / hip / trendy / important), told me about them several years ago, but my reaction was “HUH WHAT?? PLASTIC CUPS, WHO CARES?” but then, as always,  I listened to her (she = always right and in the know), so I bought them. And sure enough, they *changed* my life. Dramatic, but 13 bucks and you get 16 cups; all super cheery and colorful. You do the math, but I think that is a pretty good deal.

 

Colorful = happiness!

Colorful = happiness!

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NYC Sunday Brunch: The Standard Grill

Although it currently feels like Spring in New York, Christmastime is in the air!; bells, fir trees, red, green, tourists,  presents, ribbons, gingerbread, candy canes. We had a terrific Sunday morning last weekend, and I highly recommend recreating it for some family fun.

 

Anything with these two is fun and festive....except when they are poking each other, in each other's faces, whining, complaining, crying, and hitting. #TheJoy

Anything with these two is fun and festive….except when they are poking each other’s faces, whining, complaining, crying, and hitting. #TheJoy

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Halloween / NYC Marathon 2015

One of my favorite events in the Big Apple is the New York City Marathon. There is a buzz, energy, and pride that fills the city air. I cry, I smile, I weep, and I am just so happy for all the runners and finishers! And this year, it fell the day after Halloween, making it a BIG weekend for kids and adults. A memorable, fun, and inspiring weekend.

 

Snow Fairy Princess and Hipster Batman brother.

Snow Fairy Princess and Hipster Batman brother. (Neither of the shoes are an official part of their costume).

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Summertime in Sunriver

Fall is in full swing and I am (incredibly) nostalgic about sunshine, bathing suits, vacation, less scheduled time, and popsicles. So throwback (#MondayMemories — such a thing, HA!) to August when we traveled with our best friends (who don’t like the internet) and all our kids to one of my favorite places to travel: Sunriver, Oregon. Growing up, we would go there twice a year for family vacations; always to ski. Winter ski trip and Spring ski trip. Only once did I go to Sunriver in the summer, when I was invited in middle school with a friends’ family. Our trip this summer did not disappoint and we thoroughly enjoyed each and every minute — activities, relaxation, and quality time all together.

 

An ice cream cone a day keeps the doctor away. A crowd favorite, ice cream (and candy) from good 'ol Goodies!

An ice cream a day keeps the doctor away. A crowd favorite, ice cream (and candy) from good ‘ol Goody’s!

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Seattle, August 2015

I am not a good driver….as (1) I don’t like the actual driving, (2) I get sleepy easily, (3) my mind wanders off, (I don’t text when driving and I am safe!), and (4) I usually end up driving super slow in the left lane…..but I was more than happy to drive the kids up to Seattle last week to see their cousins before our summer ends. Here are some pictures from our wonderful time together in the Pacific Northwest’s biggest city!

Sailing at Sunset. We had the opportunity to do that 2/3 of the nights we were there. SO FUN and so relaxing.

Cruzzie and his cousin, Alagna, sailing at sunset. We had the opportunity to do that 2/3 of the nights we were there. SO FUN and so relaxing.

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How To: Meal Planning

My dear friend from childhood Katy is not only a good runner, but also a phenomenal teacher, mother, wife, and on-top-of-it-resident-chef.  Moreover, she is my 100% inspiration in terms of meal planning and cooking for her family. She is so impressive that I don’t know where to start — on top of being a full time teacher and mother of two she manages to cook 6 nights a week for her family by meal planning and organizing the menus two weeks at a time! As someone who needs guidance and help, I was fortunate to be able to sit down with her and ask a bzillion (sorry there are so many — worth reading through, PROMISE) about how she is able to meal plan.  It saves her time, indecision, and money.

 

Pinterest at its finest !

Pinterest at its finest !

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Beginning of Summer…

Here we are, Oregon Summer 2015! I arrived just a little over 24 hours ago from New York and it feels like I never left. I must say that I have had a hard time adjusting the first week….I always want to make a plan and have a hard time not having a “busy schedule”. That said, after a week in Eugene, I get the hang of doing nothing and get to be way more mellow and relaxed (all of it disappears the moment that I land in NYC). Totally jet-lagged, exhausted, and tired, here is a quick look at some photos of my first 24 hours in Eugene.

 

A walk to a flat area (we live in a steep hill in every direction) where Tata (my father) could teach Cruzzie how to ride a bike.

A walk to a flat area (we live in a steep hill in every direction) where Tata (my father) was able to teach Cruzzie how to ride a bike. (and yes, That’s Life!)

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Happy 3rd Birthday, Toosh!

A trip down memory lane…..Three years ago (to the date), I gave birth to my little baby girl, Zoe Esther (also known as ‘Tusia” or ‘Toosh”) Natori. Maybe it is from watching videos like this or this or reading about when she was 1 but DAMN, being a mother is such an emotional and rewarding job. And with Tusia’s birthday today, I can’t seem to hide my tears. I tear because I never knew that this type of love was possible; that she is no longer a baby; that we are now in a new phase of our life; the concern of future hardships; the pride I beam for who she has become; the curiosity of her mind. I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart). “Tusia Na-ta-tori” as she calls herself is my little princess, and I love her up to the sky, down again, around the world, and back again. Happy 3rd birthday, Toosh! I love you.

 

Big girl Toosh celebrating her birthday and mother's day yesterday eating a "Hello Kitty" sorbet and relaxing in Central Park.

Big girl Toosh celebrating her birthday and Mother’s Day yesterday eating a “Hello Kitty” sorbet and relaxing in Central Park.

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Spring Activities in NYC 2015

Believe it or not, Summer is around the corner! 6 more weeks! So better get going on the Spring Activities in New York City. My list is long and I hope to accomplish most of them this season!

 

1. Stroll the grounds at Storm King

 

A way of being outside in nature and enjoying art at the same time. Looks so beautiful and interesting and fun in the Spring or Fall!

A way of being outside in nature and enjoying art at the same time. Looks so beautiful and interesting and fun in the Spring or Fall!

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