You would think that by child #4, I would have had my wits working for me, not against me. It is possible, too, that by child #4, you start to cut corners, or you are just really busy, or even dumb.
Federica was about four months old, and we were getting ready to go somewhere … it’s all a blur, almost twelve years later. I was getting her ready on the changing table, and since things have not changed in over a decade, there was little Brynn, afro and all right at my side, trying to crawl back up into my uterus. She was so pleasant, though, and always laughing, smiling, that I enjoyed having her close. As most seven year girls do, they move around a lot, cheerleading, dancing, or in Brynn’s case, pretending to be a horse. You are correct, I didn’t say “ride” a horse, I said “be” a horse. She started riding a few years back, and everything referred back to jumps and cantering, and this is how she navigated the house.
As I was prepping my darling little Federica, I needed a onesie which was not within reach on the changing table, but about two feet away in a drawer. So, thinking the almost eight year old could handle watching the baby for 0.6 seconds, and keeping her hand close to her, I gave her “eyes and hands on deck” duty. I turned for a fleeting moment, and there it happened..every mother’s worse nightmare…the “thud-silence-shriek” combo. Federica fell off the changing table and was screaking, face planted, like someone who encountered Jack the Ripper in a cold London Alley in 1888. From the corner of my eye, I could see the little Shirley Temple head leaping around the very tempting round turret room as though she was a Breyer Horse competing at the Saratoga Classic. Then our eyes met, and she saw her sister on the floor, and she just looked at me, alarmed for a fleeting moment, and kept cantering.
I swept Kiks into my arms from the floor, and comforted her with my boobs and my shaking arms. I called my best friend who was a pediatrician who assured me the carpeted floor and the height of the changing table were probably not enough of a horror combo to do any damage. For the next week I kept examining her for signs of a concussion or brain damage, because I am a complete catastrophist. To this day, every time she does something completely irrational, or takes twenty minutes to put on a pair of leggings, I wonder if it was the changing table fall.
Brynn, is actually a very accomplished equestrian, and still rides today, though she rides a real horse, and has stopped pretending to be one. We told her she had to really think about that because Manhattan College may expel her. She promised she would stop, and as far as I know doesn’t leap over jumps around campus.
Let’s get down to basics … Italian basics … tomato sauce. For some reason when someone says “I made sauce,” a lull comes over the crowd, and inevitably, a hushed voice will answer, “you made sauce?,” like a scene from the Godfather.
IT IS NOT HARD TO MAKE TOMATO SAUCE!
In fact, it’s so easy, it’s my go to when I feel culinarily sluggish. Last night I did it over spinach and mozzarella ravioli … it was so good, and the entire meal took twenty minutes.
I have no pic of my sauce, and I apologize, but when you see the list of ingredients, you will understand why it wouldn’t make any difference. Lol. I like a chunkier sauce, not the velvety puree we see so much of.
Get the olive oil nice and hot but NOT burning over medium heat. When the garlic is sizzling, lightly browned and fragrant, add the diced tomatoes. Stir. Add the whole tomatoes which should have some juice to them.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
I would cook this on low for 45 minute to an hour for best results, if you make it in the morning, If you have the time to let the sauce simmer for a little longer, do it, but don’t let it reduce too much or it becomes to glue-y.
Break up the whole tomatoes and stir during the cooking, but neither have to be perfectly timed or broken down.
The longer the flavors mesh, the more flavorful your sauce, even if it stays in the pot for the day till dinner, with no heat. Pour it over the pasta of your choice.
If you use Kosher salt, which I do recommend, do not oversalt. The beauty of Kosher salt is its staying power. It salts but becomes saltier, and the next day even saltier, which is why historically it was used, and still is today, as a preservative. So, if you want to preserve your kidneys, don’t over pour.
In the summer, I like to throw in fresh basil, but I do not use any oregano, ever.
My nonna’s meat sauce is a little more involved but amazing for a Sunday dinner.
I’ll get to that one, too. But for a weeknight, keep it simple….buon appetito.
So, this Mick Jagger/Lilly Pulitzer hybrid is one of those combos you would see first as separates, and some nut job would say “try ‘em together,” and you’d be like “WAHHHHH?” But, guess what, it works!
I wore this for opening night of our drama production of BYE BYE BIRDIE, and I loved it. This Chiquita mini skirt is definitely not for picking bananas, unless you wear a very opaque booty short to cover, well, the booty. It is waaaay shorter than it looks, and as much as I do love, For Love and Lemons, they have no give, support the zipper industry, and fabrics are very sheer. (This skirt does have a decent liner). My recommendation here is to go up a size. I will stay this, with a few tugs after I got up from my seat, the skirt didn’t move, so that was a plus. FLaL can be a little pricey, but they have staying power, and I have never had a repair issue with any of their stuff. I love their rompers and summer clothes, but keep in mind they are more fitted than my beloved Free People, and when there is a zipper, I tend to cringe, but if you over-fit you should make it.
THE SKIRT from REVOLVE.COM
Top this one…..with the Eagle Montain Tank from Project Social T. If you still consider yourself a late seventies, early eighties burn out rocker, this season was named for you. “Band Ts” or rocker tees are the IT item to pair with anything…skirts, shorts, denim and I am loving them with a glitzy choker. Revolve paired the tank with the FLaL skirt above, and I thought the top was cropped….it’s not. So, I knotted it to meet the band of the skirt, which made the top more fitted, and the outfit itself more streamlined. I would even go a size smaller, (yes, smaller) to get a more fitted design.
THE EAGLE MOUNTAIN TANK from REVOLVE.COM
The armholes on this t were wide, probably on purpose to don a “fun bra” or bralette with some lace or criss-cross. This one, from South Moon Under has a fun front, visible above the t, or something tike this, peeking out of the back. Either will cover your regular bra in a fun, show some skin way.
Hip Mom Hint: Since the skirt was shorter than I imagined, I candy-coated with a long black cardigan for “pop” and coverage. A great open toe spring bootie is the footwear here. Stay neutral or nude. There is so much going on with mega prints here, you don’t want to look like the NBC peacock.
:What on God’s earth is a Balaboosta? Well, when I discovered Balaboosta’s Bakery two years ago on Instagram, I didn’t ask, and I didn’t care, cuz anyone who stuffs a homemade chocolate chip cookie with a brownie or puts cookie dough in between two cookies and dips it in sprinkles and fudge can be anybody they want to be.
Enter Melissa Schack, a graduate of Manhattan’s Institute of Culinary Education and owner of Balaboosta’s Bakery, and the woman who has been sugar coating and stuffing my holiday tables for two years. Her freshly baked goods can be shipped anywhere, and just ask my dogs who ate the first batch she shipped to me, the mailman will deliver right to your door (or make the attempt).
Q: But, first, what is a Balaboosta? It’s a Yiddish word meaning perfect housewife, mother, homemaker, wonderful mother, cook and gracious hostess. In my house we just say, “Mom.” LOL. But, Melissa, as much as I love to cook, I don’t know if I could start a business cooking it … what gave you the urge to start baking for the masses?
“I started baking when I was four years old. My grandmother and I would make Mandel Bread in the kitchen. She showed me all the ins and outs of perfecting the Jewish cookie. The mandel bread recipe we followed was her grandmother’s. This is where my love of baking began. My grandmother always called me her little “balaboosta,” which in Yiddish refers to the perfect woman that is great at decorating hosting, gardening and yes, baking ... and what’s more she does it all without breaking a sweat.”
Q: Balaboosta’s has been in business since March of 2010, and has been dipping and stuffing Nutella brownies and funfetti concoctions since then, getting more and more creative with each passing year. But how do you dome up with these Willie Wonka delights? (Omg … a milky way stuffed anything ….)
“All of the recipes we use have stemmed from family recipes dating back to many many generations. Some of the recipes have been tweaked along the way to keep up with the ever changing trends of the baking world. Baking is an art form for me…it’s my creative outlet to express myself.”
Q: Melissa, are you quite sure a cookie dough brownie and stuffed cookie were around when your grandmother was baking?
Q: Melissa is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Long Island, where she bakes fresh daily from a private facility. I always feel like kids who work at our beloved Dairy Queen must be sick of ice cream … and they’re all skinny … lol What is your favorite treat to make … and do you still want to eat it? Lol
“My favorite treat to make is cheesecake. Cheesecake can be quite temperamental and is always a challenge … and I LOVE a challenge! I also enjoy eating cheesecake the most of anything I make. HOWEVER, it must be chilled or frozen!”
I am so torn … there are so many of Melissa’s artistic bites to call my gluttonous favorite, such as her chocolate cream pies (it’s like a baby Suzy Q, but waaay better), but for sure, my most favorite “out of the oven” creation this year is her new muffin, named Samuel, born on February 21, 2017. What do I love as much as hearing one of my favorite “make me fat’ girls just had a baby …. she is exclusively nursing …. 2 dozen extra of your funfetti blondies … they are great galactagogues! (Google that)!
So, lets toast a glass of milk to my new favorite “balaboosta” and her newest mandel bread maker, Samuel. Not sure if he can be a “balaboosta,” (A real balaboosta will not give up rank but I am sure Melissa Schack will make sure he can knead some mean dough).
Order from Melissa and check out her yumminess and get ready to drool!
If you have ever visited Italy, the likelihood of finding “parmesan,” or in true Italian, parmigiano anything is very slim. Italians do like their cheese, but they do not melt it or shred it or paste it on every dish they create. You definitely NEVER put cheese on fish or you could be arrested. I once observed an American tourist order shrimp in Venice, and after delivery, asked for cheese. The waiter refused. They had an argument, and I think the waiter started to cry like there had been an Italian death. It’s really that much of a sacrilege in the Italian community.
However, the notion of parmigiano(a) (or shoot me now, parmesan) did come from somewhere, and has bled its bastardized way onto Italian menus across this great land of ours because Americans like it. They would “parmesan” anything from gummy bears to toilet paper if they could. I am sure there are versions of things that had their origins in Italy, or possibly Parma, where our beloved Parmigiano comes from, and my kids like most true blooded pizza lovers, do like their cheese on everything. If you can’t beat’em, join ‘em, but with a compromise. Giada DeLaurentiis, the skinniest chef with the whitest teeth I have ever seen, has pretty quick authentic Italian delights, and I will say, her unbreaded chicken parm is one of my favorites, and my baby Al’s.
I make my own sauce, which for many seems to be a heroic feat. It takes me about ten minutes, about six ingredients,and that’s it. (That will be another post. ) Giada says you can use “good quality” jarred sauce, so if you must, it’s ok.
There is about ten minutes of “browning” involved, so that may take up some kitchen time, but the entire meal should not take more than ½ hour to prepare. You can pair it with a side salad or cooked veggie, and it’s a sure crowd pleaser even the mayor of Parma might approve of.
HIP MOM HINT: If you have time to prep this in the morning or a few hours before dinner time, prep it until right before the butter pats kiss the chicken (if your sauce is hot, it will melt the butter). At the last minute, you can throw it into the oven to finish cooking. I usually make this in the morning, and whoever is home can pop it into the oven at dinner time.
Revolve clothing, or www.revolve.com solves a lot of my what to wear with what problems. I know what I like, I generally know what’s going to look good, and hopefully fit, but I am not great at pairing things. Sometimes I see stripes with polka dots and fringe with lace and wonder who imagined something so abominable … that worked so phenomenally. Revolve will show you an entire outfit put together when you pick just one item. They complete the ensemble, and I love it!
Continuing with the feminine spring theme, is this flowy but minimally fitted number from Flynn Skye, the Leah Dress, is simple, with a sexy flare. I love, love, love choker necks because I love chokers, period. This little mini has one built in, and the large keyhole in the front is a window to the one in the back. Paired with a bootie in the spring, even a gladiator, or an OTK boot (I drool over OTK), it’s a quick throw on and completely outfitted answer to “what do I wear?”
I don’t love the way “hip adolescent” (that’s what I call my impossibly skinny, pre teen figured mannequin) represents this conservatively hot number, so check out the link and get dressed!
HIP MOM HINT: put a bralette, preferable lacy one, over your bra to cover bra peek-a-poo at your cleavage and allow your back to be open. My peeps at Free People love their layered lingere, and I love them for making them. Lol. Something like this would work:
Just go on their site and search “bralette.” There are so many others out there, but for an idea, start here. Victoria’s Secret, although I DO NOT use their bras for everyday wear and support, does have a great line of what I call “fun bras..” bras with lace and crazy backs that are great underneath open backs. I love those, and wear them to death, especially in warmer, bare-all weather.