So last week I said to a fellow blogger that I wouldn't be so worried about the economic crisis unless the Dow dropped below 10,000 points. Eeeehhhh-hemmmm. Who knew? (I guess THEY should have known but that's a topic for another blogger.) I'll try not to panic as I look at my IRA statements.
Check out this fun lapel pin from a local entrepenuer. We have to be optimistic, no?
On the small scale of things on our "Main Street", our annual yard sale made a whopping....drum roll please....twenty five dollars!!! People were just not interested in spending their cash. I don't blame them. On the bright side, I organized my mess into donate, keep and garbage piles. You know, so I can create order with my junk.
Even though our stuff didn't sell, we were really hoping that Ethan and Owen's Hot Apple Cider and Donut stand would raise a fair amount of money for their schools. I shelled out $20 for the cider, donuts and cups but sadly, they only made $3.75. That's a grand total of $1.87 for each school. On the bright side, the boys only saw the profits and they were proud of the money they earned.
I guess we will all have to search for the bright side of things in the coming months/year(s). A guest on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart mentioned that she went back to read the Fireside Chats from President Roosevelt to find comfort and guidance. It's worth a shot.
When Liz emailed this link for a free show, the first thing I thought was, "the only culture my kids get is in yogurt". But with the dinner witching hour looming, and the weather being as gorgegous as it was, I said what the hell. And I'm glad I did.
With ethereal music playing in the background, the four performers swayed and swooshed high above the crowd. The performance was short and sweet which was perfect for limited attention spans (mine, not my kids). We followed up the show with a little fruit dessert and the kids ran around the field until it was time to walk home. It was a lovely way to spend a mild summer evening.
Well, I wasn't home much yesterday, as we went to the Big Apple Circus. So I didn't get around to posting.
The circus was fun -- today I keep hearing about "that man on the rope" (that's the guy below, if you're interested).
He was pretty amazing.
Also amazing in a different way (if you're not offended by lots and lots of curse words) is this totally fake rant from Jimmy Carter from one of my favorite places, The Onion: I Got What America Needs Right Here.
And finally, one more amazing thing: I just got off the phone with my mom, who is on the deck of her first cruise. I keep asking her if she is going to the Lido Deck and if Zsa Zsa Gabor is going to be there, because, seriously, she's on the Love Boat. They're even stopping at Puerto Vallarta, whereever THAT is...
UPDATE: Oh! I forgot the most amazing thing of all -- me posting on my new RED computer. Despite one of my geeky computer friends telling me he loved this computer except for the reflective screen (cos, as he said, "I already have a shaving mirror, I don't need another"), I am really happy with it. It no longer takes me 15 minutes to boot up, which is nice. And I can log on with a swipe of my finger! No, really, it recognizes my fingerprint. No more passwords for me. Oh, and did I mention it's red?
I think it has lots of memory and fancy features and stuff, but mostly I like it cos it's red.
Gah, I'm such a girl...
So it's the end of the year, the traditional time to think about ... yes, you guessed it, charities.
I mean, obviously.
I don't usually do this, but I thought I'd pass along one I found out about recently. It's DonorsChoose.org. There's been quite a bit of press about these guys, but basically, they provide funding to very specific education projects. Teachers put together a one page summary of needs, and then people can browse the website and see what interests them. I had some concerns about just random people posting on here, and I'm not totally convinced of the vetting process -- I can't imagine it's terribly thorough, but donorschoose buys the materials, etc., and sends them to the classroom instead of just sending them the cash.
What's nice is you can search by school district, age group, subject, etc. I spent quite a bit of time the other night looking at areas near where I went to high school (which is very very poor) as well as around this area.
Here's some press, if you're interested:
From Fast Company: 43 Entrepeneurs Who are Changing the World
From ABC News: SchoolKids get what donors choose
Wikipedia entry (Wikipedia calls their business model peer-to-peer philanthropy. Ha.)
Anyway, I hadn't heard about them before, and I found their model pretty interesting. Just thought I'd share it with you guys...
So I had this idea that I was going to write a post about all the big trees down in a couple of my neighbors' yards from the storm yesterday.
But... I was gone all day and didn't have a chance to take any pictures.
But... I wasn't able to go anyway, so this time _I_ was the lame one.
And then I thought, hey, I heard this interesting thing on NPR on the way to work the other day about someone who drove from New York to Wisconsin in like 18 hours. I'm making that number up, because I have no idea how long it takes to drive to Wisconsin. But that wasn't the amazing part. The amazing (and, let's face it, insane) part was that he listened to Christmas music the entire way. Shudder.
But... I couldn't find the link to that.
So, honestly, I give up. I'm going to go back to reading my bad Stephen King novella.
Oh, and... because I've had pretty much the exact same conversation about five times this week with five different people (interestingly, all my libertarian friends) about Ron Paul: apparently he wants people to donate to his campaign on Sunday. Well, I'm assuming he'll take it any day you want to give it, but whatever, there's like a _thing_ this weekend. So, you know, if you're inclined to do that, go ahead.*
*This is not in any way an endorsement of Ron Paul, by the way. I just thought I'd mention it cos I saw it on youtube. Somewhere. But I don't feel like finding it again. I mean, let's be honest. That Stephen King book is just getting interesting...
Recently, we had the amazing opportunity to go on a private tour of the Brooklyn Brewery in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Rob and I took a few college friends to walk through the brewery with the Brewmaster, (that's gotta be an awesome way to introduce yourself..."Yes, I'm the Brewmaster") Garrett Oliver. He described the brewing process, let us peek inside the drums and gave us a condensed history of beer, all of which is outlined in his book, "The Brewmaster's Table". Below is a picture of a few hops used for their beers.
Along the way, we got to sample some of their fine selection of beers; the first was "Pennant", then.... uuuhhhh...who am I kidding. I got way too drunk to remember any of the beer names. BUT what I DO recall is "Local 1". Honestly, I'm not sure why I went on a beer tour because I really don't like beer, BUT this Local 1 is THE BEST BEER I'VE EVER HAD. It's in a champagne bottle...or as I learned that night, champagne stole the bottle shape and cork from beer! A bit of history was revealed. Anyway, I need to get my hands on this beer. It's incredible. And, that's not the alcohol talking, it is REALLY amazing. If I can't get the local stores to stock it, I will have to drive to Williamsburg and get a few cases. It's THAT fucking good.
As the night progressed, I got red in the face (many of you know what that means) and we were all having a great time. Here's some of what I retained from the tour...
The Brewmaster described how beer paired with cheeses is better than wine. It's just that most American beers are so bad, you wouldn't THINK of having it with a a fine dinner. He is part of a movement to bring GOOD beer back to America and introduce Americans to the idea of savoring beer, like wine. Did you know that Brooklyn Brewery's beer is the best selling American beer in Europe? Mr. Oliver does classes on pairing beers with different dishes and recently held one at Murray's Cheeses. On our tour, we got to sample six different beers, light to dark, each with a distinctive taste. The last and darkest beer was described to us as "almost an espresso", and indeed it was rich like coffee and could be paired with desserts. Fascinating!
The brewery tour ended with (1) the rest of our party arriving late and (2) happy hour starting. The brewery opens its doors at 6:00 for happy hour! As we continued to get sloppy drunk on this fantastic beer, we noticed the 20-somethings chowing down some gourmet pizza (and that we were the only 30-somethings). The pizzarias deliver TO THE PUB! This might have been one of the best nights of my life! I don't even remember what the toppings were...there was definitely some cured ham on one of them...but it was fantastic. And that's not the alcohol talking either.
Before he left, Garrett Oliver was nice enough to sign a few copies of his book (that a friend bought for me) and give us the beer glasses as souviniers. Sadly, in my drunken stuper, I decided I no longer wanted to carry my glass. It was getting too heavy for my drunken fingers. It may still be in shards along the brick wall I threw it against. And as Karma would have it, my friend lost the books on New Jersey Transit. Someone will turn signed books to the Lost and Found, right? Uuuhhhh, now that's definitely the alochol talking.
Nobody likes a "time out". To stop what your doing and sit idle is torture. This form of dicipline has never worked on my kids. After we no longer needed a highchair, I had no place to put them for a couple of minutes. They refused to sit on a chair, step, stool, anything. Regardless, I kept trying until *I* got the time out.
While lifting my 3yo, 36 lb gigantor son for his time out, I threw out my back. Which sucked because, I was just getting better from another back injury the week before. Sadly, I'm no stranger to back pain. Two years ago, I threw out my back while bulk shopping. I took lots of drugs with no results. I tried acupuncture for the first time and after the initial appointment, I immediately felt better. I went back for more treatments and added physical therapy to the mix. A few weeks of the treatments, and I was cured! That is until a few weeks ago and that time out.
It's my own fault. I've been meaning to exercise, but I just don't. I'm lazy and it's not in my routine. I've discovered the hard way that without exercise, I am prone to injury. Okay, so must start yoga and weight training when I'm feeling better. The problem is, my back (and body for that matter) is in severe fucking pain. I literally could not move. It hurt to stand on my right leg, which means I couldn't walk. I couldn't bend, so I couldn't get dressed. And forget about socks.
Just getting ready in the morning (getting myself and two kids dressed, fed and out the door by 8:15 for school) was excrusiating. I barely made it into the driver's seat - I couldn't lift my leg to climb in. That same morning it took me 15 minuutes to get from my driveway to the Sun Room (it's less than 40' away!). I ultimately wound up on the floor crying. I've given birth twice and this was more painful. I am against masking pain but, I am only human so, that day I downed some Advil just to get through the morning. I had to get relief. And I needed long term relief.
I felt the problem was in my spine and causing muscle pains. So, although acupuncture had worked in the past, I decided to try chiropractics. Because I needed to get x-rays, the relief didn't come fast enough. But eventually, I got treatment and HOLY CRAP I feel so much better. Those little pressure points are still tight and painful but I got relief without drugs, and that's really important to me.
I'm only 2 weeks into my treatment. I still have slight pains but I'm happy with the results so far. I have mobility, I can pick up my kids, a laundry basket, and even myself off the floor. All without drugs. Like I said, nobody likes a time out. To stop what I'm doing and sit idle is torture. Not being able to do simple tasks was scary. I will not take my mobility for granted.
Lately I have been really longing for a good dinner in a nice restaurant. Way back when, in my other lifetime when I was childless and worked in New York, my friend Carolyn and I would, on a random Thursday, just pick a new place (usually based on a description in Zagat's) and go. We never had any real expectations, just curiousity and hope. And the fact that we'd be drinking didn't hurt - I mean, after a few, how bad could it be?
We found some really fun places - there was this little Italian place in one of the villages (east, west, who can keep track?) where they made you sit outside until someone else finished. It was that small. They gave us wine and as we sat and viewed all the denizens of the area we both came to the same conclusion: "We are not now, nor were we ever, nor will we EVER be, cool". It was actually a good thing. Saved a lot of therapy and bad wardrobe choices.
I enjoyed my dinner immensely and then we went to a bar that was an old-style hair salon, where you sat in hair-dryer seats (with the big units above) and drank your whatever-tini. We were so out of place, in our wool suits and pumps and briefcases, but man, we didn't care. And the thing about really cool people...they don't make you feel NOT cool. Or maybe we were drunk. Or...were THEY? Whatev.
While I love my diners and other kid-friendly places, I've been missing those days. It's more difficult in the suburbs. First of all, you've got the kids. Second of all, well, see "First of all". There are many fine establishments in this area that I love but hardly ever get to - Basilico, Voro, Martini's - and those I've wanted to try, but, ya know, I'm busy - Highlawn Pavilion comes to mind, as does Antonella's. And of course, if you're getting a babysitter, you might as well hop the train to the city. But, what would I wear? My hair's been in a ponytail all day. Do we have a train schedule? And...hey, is Law & Order on? Nevermind...
So tonight Sandra actually had big plans to go into the city and, as her spouse is out of town, I was going to babysit. These logistics (get in car, arrange ass on couch, point remote, CABLE!!!) I can handle. However, her plans fell through so instead we decided to take the kids out to eat together.
I really was in the mood to try something new so I was not going to settle for Village Coffee Shop or St. James Gate, though I love them both. I threw out the newest addition to Springfield Avenue, Indigo Smoke, but Sandra was skeptical. Then I remembered the little place whose divine smell I smell every time I park in the Yale Street lot on my way to Cafe Meow. Churrasco! It advertises itself as Portugese BBQ. I don't know what that is. But, there's a little liquor store right next door - Wine Cellar? Wine Something? I dunno - they had wine, and so did we.
Oh, MAN! Just what I've been missing! It was really divine. It was a real restaurant, cloth napkins, nice tables, artwork on the walls, beautiful decor. We were the only ones there for the first part of our meal - later other patrons showed up and I hope that our rambunctious children didn't ruin their awesome meals. My chicken marsala was perfectly breaded, with succulent mushrooms atop two juicy pieces of chicken breast, accompanied by some amazing spanish rice, crisp vegetables in butter, and home-made potato chips. OMG. I ate EVERYTHING on my plate, and I'm not kidding. I would have licked it if I wasn't in a public place. It was that good. I'm amazed that such a gem has escaped my radar and I hope you all try it (they do take-out).
They were EXTREMELY family friendly - to the point of telling me "one juice is enough for two kids" and then bringing me two separate sippy cups for the one price. Also doing the same with the kids' meals. And not getting annoyed with us when the kids were too loud and Sandra and I were too involved in our conversation to care. I mean, how often do you get out?
I will definitely be back, with or without kids. It was so fun to discover a new place to eat, and it reminded me of all the great experiences I had many moons ago in the city.
P.S. at one point in our conversation, Will and Connor both had to use the bathroom. We let them go by themselves, to the MEN'S ROOM, though I had an eagle eye on the doorway the whole time. They were SO psyched when they came back to the table. This was a milestone for our independent guys. Sandra gave them high fives! (To check if they had washed their hands (clever!); also to congratulate!)
P.P.S. At the end of the meal, ALL kids had to go potty. The boys went back to the mensroom b/c they love it so. Sandra had to take Emma to the ladies' room. I'm out front with Libby and Milo, and Will comes back: "Mommy, we are going to need your help. We both are going to make a poop and we need you to wipe our bums." AAAAAAnd....we're back.