Friday Faves: Audio Edition

This fall, I’ve spent a lot of time wandering around the woods with my dog and listening to a variety of audiobooks and podcasts wearing my groovy new over-the-ear headphones. I have either really big or really small, like, ear openings because I could never get earbuds to stay in my ears. It would be so annoying to be marching around, anticipating one to pop out of my ear at any moment. It kind of detracted from the whole listening experience.

So the new headphones have opened up a whole new audio world for me and I can’t recommend them enough (NOTE: I’m no sound expert — I don’t know my bass from my treble — but these seem perfectly fine for the price).

What have I been listening to? I’ll tell you:

  • My kids are SO tired of hearing me talk about this, but the audio version of George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo was BEYOND amazing. Like listening to an opera or something really epic. It’s based on the true story of Lincoln going in the middle of the night to the cemetery to hold the body of his 11yo son, Willie, one more time. The bardo is that place in Buddhist tradition between death and heaven and hell and the cemetery is filled with a bunch of ghosts stuck there and voiced by tons of amazing people urging Willie to move on. Parks and Rec’s Nick Offerman and the writer David Sedaris voice two of the main ghosts and Meghan Mulalley is perfect as a cussin’ crazy lady. The story is interwoven with letters and other pieces that document the era plus there’s some old-timey Civil War music for good measure.
  • I found myself crying — yes, crying — walking behind my dog listening to Brene Brown tell me, “Not belonging in our families is still one of the most dangerous hurts. That’s because it has the power to break our heart, our spirit and our sense of self worth.” Yikes.
  • Do you know Jen Sincero? She’s a frigging badass and encourages you to be one, too. She also wants you to make hella money.
  • If you are insane and good at following through at things, like my BF, you can try listening to all 35 hours of this, like she just did. I thought about it for a hot second and then remembered I have a 6-hour maximum attention capacity.
  • I found an audio of Ann Lamott giving a workshop based on her popular Bird by Bird. The audio’s pretty terrible, it’s from the 90’s, but she’s so likable it’s worth it.
  • My 25yo son and I got hooked on this podcast on a drive home from somewhere recently and it’s only 6 one-hour episodes and worth finding out what happens in the end. It also made me rethink a guy I dated a while ago who I now think might have been homeless. Another yikes.
  • If you can handle any more news in your life, I’ve been enjoying The New York Times “The Daily” podcast, even though the host speaks so slow it’s like the show is geared towards folks who don’t speak English as a first language. Nice deep dives into the news of the day, be it Harvey Weinstein or net neutrality.
  • The headphones aren’t just for the woods. I’ve been waking up early most mornings and listening to this guided meditation and honestly, if we all did I think we’d all be a lot happier. And more peaceful
  • Sometimes, I don’t even wear headphones while listening to stuff. My girlfriend Alexa, who hangs out on my kitchen counter, introduced me to the Holiday Favorites station on Amazon that’s not the same old Bing Crosby/Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer routine. It made me feel really good about Alexa and forgive her for not knowing the answers to a lot of questions we pose and for also butting into conversations when she thinks we’re talking about her. Rude.

I’m always looking for new things to listen to so please share what’s got your attention lately!

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Friday Faves: Stuff I’m Legit Obsessed With

Let me just say that when I like something, I really like it. That holds for wine, Game of Thrones and certain ex-boyfriends. Oh, and outerwear. Can’t get enough outerwear.

Lately, I’ve been hot for a bunch of things and it goes without saying that two of them are Seed to Sprout’s Kimchi Rice Bowl (which I’ve eaten from lunch and dinner twice this week) and the pumpkin spice blend at Rook (which is where I’m headed when I’m done writing this). Need. Every. Day.

My kids are ob-sessed with these two condiments from Stonewall Kitchen (which we get at Sickles), which they slather on anything that’s not moving (watch it, puppy!).

Last weekend, my older daughter and I made took some coupons and made our fall pilgrimage to Bath & Body Works for our favorite candles. And even though it hasn’t been really autumnal here until today, that hasn’t kept me from burning this candle 24/7. It just makes me happy and smells better than the lingering stench from my 14yo’s football pads (honestly, that is a seriously smelly sport).

One of the fun things about working at my local athleisure emporium is digging through the online returns bin and finding a pair of shoes (since we don’t sell them in the store). I hit pay dirt recently and found these babies and wear them, literally, every day. Right there, I used the word “literally” in the right context. They are beyond comfortable, match everything and I get compliments galore. I am usually an 8 but my score was an 8.5 and even though the baby manager at the store cursed me for stealing them out from under her, her young feet don’t have the same concerns as my aging tootsies. Plus, they fit great. Buy them and then please write me a thank you note. Or send wine.

Oh, if you’re feeling fat like me and trying to be really good — I mean, really really good — here’s a teeny snack that I nibble on at night and it hits the spot and one bag in a mere 2 grams of sugar, which my friend Dan says is okay if you can’t live without sugar. Which I can’t (sns).

At the end of the summer, my oldest bf (this is not literal) came to visit for the weekend and proved that she is nothing if not a good friend. While I was at work folding leggings one afternoon, she drove around and kept herself busy and when she picked me up, handed me a bag from Lowe’s with a yellow plastic gizmo to unclog my shower drain. After a summer of both my girls home a lot, the shower in my bathroom would fill up like a tub in minutes. I told my pal and she took matters into her own hands. We got home and I was like, “I’m gonna go shove this down the drain,” and she was like, “I’m right behind you.” I unscrewed the drain and jammed the long thing in and gave it a twist and started to pull it back up. When we recovered from the horror that emerged from my shower drain — months and months of hair and soap scum — I asked my friend if she would describe it as the size of a baby squirrel. “No, that was a full-sized squirrel,” she said. Anyway, it’s a horrible reality (and I didn’t even go into the smell that burped its way out of the drain) but a magical way of dealing with it and way cheaper and safer than pouring gallons of Drano down there.

Finally, I am sorry to report that managing my facial hair has become a thing. Or, maybe it’s always been a thing but my uber-magnification mirror has just brought it to my attention. I mean, it’s not baby-squirrel bad, but still. At any rate, I tried scraping it all away for a while with this little gadget. But honestly, it kinda breaks after a few trips around my jawline. So this week, my brow lady suggested I buy this here doohickey and it’s battery operated and makes quick work of my de-whiskering. Am trying to lure aforementioned 14yo into the bright light of my bathroom so I can go to town on his new manly facial fuzz, which gives my beard a run for its money. It’s definitely baby-squirrel sized amount of fuzz I think.

As always, please feel free to share what’s changed your life lately. God know I’m open to any and all possibilities.

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Friday Faves: Jersey Corn Style

My 20yo, who’s a junior at a big state school, decided last minute to come home last weekend and take a break from exams, projects and weekend daging (day drinking+ rage = daging).

Naturally, one of the the most important topics of conversation as we prepared for her arrival, other than how she was going to snuggle me like a baby otter, was what would be on the menu for the weekend.

While my other children would be totally happy if I told them I’d just order a pizza for Friday night dinner, this girl has higher standards. Even away at school, she and her roommates cook dinner every night and I’m not just talking pasta with a jar of sauce dumped on top of it (which is probably more than I would have ever cooked when I was in college). They make curries and sweet potato hashes and work with ingredients like harissa and tempeh.

I remembered she’d pulled a recipe out of a Real Simple magazine that came over the summer that she’d pinned to the bulletin board in our kitchen but we never got around to making it before she left in late August.

/> Pasta With Chicken Sausage, Corn, Leeks, and Mushrooms


I took a picture of it and sent it to her and asked her what she thought and pointed out that one of the ingredients was in season right now here in New Jersey.

That cracked me up.

She arrived home just in time to help put it all together, which was perfect because there was a little bit of chopping involved — especially the leeks — and my hospitality major is a wiz at slicing and dicing things up. I am good at microwaving ears of corn and slicing the sweet, white kernels off the cob. The only change we made is, since we are spicy people, I used a hot chicken sausage. And I’m not super-mushroomy, so I didn’t go nuts with them. Just a handful for flavor.

It was so good. Like, so good. Her older brother arrived home and joined us for dinner and we kept talking about how yummy it all was.

We went out to an early dinner the next night and sat at the bar and drank smoky mezcal margaritas rimmed with some kind of magic dust and ate guacamole and tacos at my new favorite place in Asbury that I can’t stop talking about and honestly, it was a pretty perfect weekend.

I hope yours is, too.

Got a fave? By all means, please share.

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Friday Faves: Stuff I’m Obsessed With This Week

It’s the first Friday in August but honestly, by this time of the summer, all the days begin to blend. The only way I really can tell it’s the weekend nowadays is that it’s impossible to park near the beach and my adult children — who’ve “moved out” — are standing in my kitchen eating all the Tostitos in the pantry.

I spent some time this week having a mini reunion with a bunch of women I went with to St. Barths last summer. We gathered in Bay Head, a swanky beach town along the Jersey Shore, where one of the girls rents a house for the summer. We tried to relive the magic of the Caribbean via Jersey with cocktails and yummy food and a little late night dancing for good measure (apologies to the neighbors). It wasn’t quite the Beyonce situation that was St. Barths but it wasn’t shabby, either.

My girlfriend owns a store up in Chatham, NJ that sells tons of cute gifts and accessories so I always show up sans jewelry and just pick from her amazing array of baubles. I borrowed the cutest pair of yellow dangly earrings to jazz up the outfit I had on for dinner and briefly contemplated pocketing them the next day to take home. Always the ethicist, I instead asked her if she could get me a pair from her store and she said they were long gone.

“They sell them here in town!” she told me and explained how to navigate my way to the most darling shop (Carrie Dunham, 92 Bridge Ave.) owned by the woman who designs a handbag I have been lusting after for years. Those bags are kinda pricey for me right now so instead I picked up the cutest little polka-dotty number that’s perfect for holding my phone and lipstick when I go out. I was in a hurry when I stopped in and need to get back to give the place a more thorough once over. And a house of my own in Bay Head.
















Other stuff I’m heavily into this week:

  • These socks, which stalked me hard on Facebook for so long I finally had to relent and buy them. I know. I’m a part of the problem. But they’re really cute and soft and, what can I say, I’m a sucker. Plus, bumblebees.
  • I am really not into wearing real bras, which may because of all the pinching and wires or also may be because menopause has caused an expansion in that region. Whatever the case, I continue to be obsessed with these bras and we just got some cute colors in at work and had to buy 2 more. They’re not exactly the most supportive and probably not meant to be worn out to dinner but that’s just how I’m rolling these days.
  • I’m on a bit of a Netflix role and cranked through “Friends From College” in no time and am now working on “Ozark,” even though it got iffy reviews. I mean, anything with Laura Linney in it can’t be all bad. And it’s not.
  • No week is complete without a good cat video.
  • There are some mornings this summer when I wake up and look in the bathroom mirror that I’m surprised a glass of rose isn’t staring back at me. Between bars hawking “froze” and “Rose All Day” memes, it’s, like, everywhere. It stands to reason that they’d start selling the stuff in cans and now, they do. I picked up a 4-pack to bring with me to Bay Head and it was quite the hit. I mean, who doesn’t want to drink their fizzy cocktails out of straws? It’s just plain festive.
  • Finally, last Friday my Lady-cation pals and I went into NYC to see “Come From Away” on Broadway. We had gone on an adventure to Newfoundland last year and — after doing some shots and kissing a cod — have come to think of ourselves as honorary islanders. The show focuses on the days after Sept. 11, after 7,000 people flying that terrible day were diverted to the island and taken in by a small town there. It’s a fascinating bit of history and if you can’t actually get to Newfoundland, probably the next best thing. Plus, it’s trendy.

What are you obsessed with? Please share in the comments below because I’m always looking for a new bee in my proverbial bonnet.

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Friday Faves: Bell, Books & Candles

This candle from Bath & Bodyworks is so my jam right now.

This candle from Bath & Bodyworks is so my jam right now.

I can’t tell you how much I love this time of year. #1: I don’t have to worry about putting on a bathing suit for months. #2: I don’t have to go outdoors and pretend I’m having fun. In other words, I get to release my inner homebody. I love putzing around my house and feeling cozy as the weather starts to dip outside.

It makes me consider becoming a witch, as the headline to this post suggests, and pulling out my cauldron.

Here’s what I love about October:

  • I bought this cool, mercury glass globe at Pottery Barn a couple of years ago and splurged for the twinkly lights to sparkle inside. It sits on the Ballard Design coffee table in my TV room and although one person once commented that it’s like a spooky crystal ball, I like the magical feel it gives glowing from the center of the room.
  • I am all about smelly candles and feel strongly that what works during the summer months don’t quite cut it when it gets cold outside. Here’s what I’m obsessed with, in no particular order:
    • I absolutely adore this Mrs. Meyers candle for fall, however I can only find it online. It’s never for sale at Target or Wegman’s. Unlike some of the other scents in this candle line, the orange clove is potent and one small votive really permeates my entire downstairs.
    • This candle flavor from Williams-Sonoma is also a sesaonal favorite for me. Its scent is warm and spicy and makes me think of Thanksgiving and sitting by the fire.
    • I officially want to take a bath in this scent from Bath & Bodyworks. Not only do I have the candle going on my kitchen counter but one of those cool wallflower doohickeys you plug into an electric outlet. It’s plugged in right by my front door and immediately greets visitor with its yummy, piney scent. In fact, I may be jumping the gun on blanketing our house in this flavor as two of my children have walked in the house recently and said, “It smells like Christmas” (not the worst thing).
    • I was totally obsessed with this Bath & Bodyworks candle last year and plan on stocking up on it again soon to help take the edge off January.
  • Books. And lately I’m not just buying them, I’m actually reading them.
    • I read Liz Gilbert’s inspiring Big Magic in two sittings a few weekends ago. Halfway through I cursed myself that I did not instead download the audio version, simply because I love her voice. Both on the page and her legit speaking voice. She’s so warm and engaging and down-to-earth. She tells it like it is: the only way to nurture your creativity is to do the work. Plain and simple. Hey, don’t just take it from me, read my friend Brooke Leffert’s recent review of the book for the Associated Press.
    • Another one of my writer crushes is Ann Patchett and I happen to enjoy her nonfiction the most and probably because, once again, of her voice. I just finished her memoir Truth and Beauty, which recounts her friendship with the novelist and poet Lucy Grealy. “Whenever I saw her, I felt like I had been living in another country, doing moderately well in another language, and then she showed up speaking English and suddenly I could speak with all the complexity and nuance that I hadn’t realized was gone. With Lucy I was a native speaker.” Lovely.
    • To round out my girl-crush trifecta, I’ve also just started Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir. Dudes, she is so damn smart and funny. “No one elected me the boss of memoir,” Karr writes. “I speak for no one but myself.” Think this might be another lone I listen to after it’s read. If you haven’t read any of her earlier memoirs, you’ve got a lot to do this weekend.
    • In this vein, I’ve also been poking around in Robert McKee’s Story to figure out how to tell mine on a larger scale than a blog post.
    • I also breezed through the first 100 pages of my friend Michelle Sassa’s fun new novel, Copygirl. It’s a fun take on the Mad Men world of advertising and I like to think of the protagonist Kay as a modern day Peggy Olson, the lone, hard-working woman surrounded by baby men. Fun and I can’t wait to finish this weekend.

What are you reading or doing to stay cozy this weekend?

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It’s Not You, It’s Me

43527891Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ve been feeling neglected by me lately, the headline of this post pretty much sums it all up: It’s totally not you.

It turns out, the buying and selling of homes is a time-consuming venture. Real estate is a real time suck. I honestly don’t know how The Donald does it.

Because for me, trying to get out of this house and into a new one has eaten up a lot of my valuable time. I mean, don’t get me wrong — a lot of the wasted moments have been entirely self-imposed. Sure, there’s lots of paperwork to dig up to get a mortgage and legal hoops to clear. But there’s also a lot of time that could be spent — well, writing — pinning things on Pinterest and daydreaming about where to put my couch. Frankly, I’ve got a crush on my new house and it’s like those good, early moments in a relationship when you can’t stop thinking about the other person minus all the texting. Not terrible.

I’ve been very superstitious throughout the process these last few months. I’ve been unusually close-mouthed, afraid to jinx the whole thing.

I think maybe that’s why I haven’t been posting much here. I think sometimes when there’s SO MUCH to write about, it’s usually somehow private and not ready for public consumption, like when one of my kids is being especially naughty or troubled. There’s so much to be said and yet not on the Interweb and more like on walks in the woods with girlfriends. You know?

I cannot wait to share more with you in the next month or two and fill you in on all the details.

Until then, there are a few things I can tell you, like MEMO TO MOMS WITH OLDER CHILDREN: You know how we are all like, “I wish my kids were young again?” Well, I am here to report that I’ve just spent some time with my 4yo nephew and his 3-week-old brother and while they are the cutest things on Earth and I would like to eat them up, they are a lot of work. It’s not all snuggling in bed for story time, they way I like to remember my own children’s childhood. In actuality, it’s a lot of trying to get them to eat fruits and vegetables, stop asking so many questions and go to bed when you say so. And stay there. So, the next time your teenager/20-something is driving you crazy and you start to wish they were still in preschool, just be happy they can wipe their own butts.


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Friday Faves: Book Addict

This is so not funny.

This is so not funny.

Hello, my name is Amy and I am a book-aholic.

You guys, I have a problem. Some people gamble. Some can’t stop buying shoes.

I am addicted to books. I love to buy them. I don’t necessary always read them. Or at least finish them. But I have a lot of them.

They sit in piles on my desk and my nightstand. They are stacked in my den and there’s even a few shelves of them sitting in my garage.

And I don’t just buy them for myself. I tend to buy tons of them for my kids, too. And when I was married, I’d often buy them for my then-husband in hopes he might open one up and read alongside me. When he had knee surgery I figured he’d have so much time on his hands lying around he’d definitely pick up “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” or one of the other five books I had gone out and bought for the occasion. Instead he sat on the couch for about 45 minutes after returning from surgery until he got antsy and went out to clean dog poop up in the yard.

There was a reason why his knees were shot. He was not one to sit around.

Over the last few months I’ve purchased a bunch of books either for my Kindle or an easy one-click order on Amazon Prime or at the nearby Barnes & Noble and recently from my favorite book shop around the corner. And while I wish I gave all my business to the local bookstore, it’s like I’m a junkie and just need a quick-fix when it comes to my book habit. I need to score them as quickly as possible once the urge comes in.

Really, if I just concentrated on reading the many unread books I already own, I would probably save half my annual income. Well, that might be an exaggeration. That would only happen if I stopped buying wine, too.

Here’s what I’ve bought either for myself or one of my sons since about May:

  • The Grapes of Wrath: I bought TWO copies of this. One for my Kindle, which I’m about six percent through, and a paper version for my oldest child after he finished East of Eden and was looking for something to read next.
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany: So of course, while I was at B&N buying Steinbeck’s classic, I also picked up a few others I thought my son might like, including this one — one of my all-time favorites — which I believe I read when I was also just home after graduating from college. It makes me want to go back and read all those John Irving books I loved.
  • Master and Commander: Another one for oldest guy. I remember how much my dad loved this Patrick O’Brien historical series about the British Navy and thought my son might, too.
  • A Window Opens: The author, Elizabeth Egan, is coming to our local bookstore next month so I stopped in the other day and picked up a copy to read in advance. LOVED. She’s the former book editor at Self who left to work for Amazon and the novel seems a thinly-veiled account of her experience trying to balance being the mom/wife/daughter/friend she wants to be with a ferocious corporate culture. Smart. Well-written. Funny. Love her and can’t wait to read whatever she writes next.
  • Good Mourning: Whilst at the local bookstore, I also picked this up after a rave review from one of the owners with whom I chatted while she rang me up. This is a memoir of a woman who was the event planner at THE funeral home in Manhattan. The place where anyone who’s anyone is laid to rest including Joan Rivers and Heath Ledger. I’ve read a few pages and it’s funny and engaging and who doesn’t want to know some of those secrets?
  • Getting to 30: A Paren’t Guide to the 20-Something Years: I bought What to Expect When You’re Expecting the second I discovered (perfect word) I was pregnant with my first child and it became my handbook during that and the subsequent two pregnancies (by my last they had invented this thing called the Internet so I didn’t need What to Expect to self-diagnose placenta previa or kidney failure any more). Over the years I turned to Dr. Spock, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, Between Parent & Teenager, Odd Girl Out, Queen Bees & Wannabes and many, many more tomes for advice on how to raise my children. So why should this new stages we’ve entered — the post college period — go without a book as well? Good overview of the “emerging adult” and reminder of what a difficult time it is.
  • I Am a SEAL Team-Six Warrior: Memoirs of an American Soldier: It is my intention to get my little guy to read more this school year. Like, more than what his friends post on Instagram. That kind of more. So I’ve been looking for something he is REALLY interested in. And I found it in this. The subject matter totally suits his “God bless America/Young Republican” personality and he even read it while we sat waiting forever in the doctor’s office last night, so that is a great sign. I only hope he’s half the reader his brother (and older sister, I might add) are.
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: What? We never owned this one? Of course we do. The older kids read it and I even read it aloud not once but TWICE to various sets of children. But somehow, it the great house decluttering of ’15, it got swept into a donate pile and given away. I know. It makes me a little queasy, too. But my little guy and I decided we were going to read this one together, not out loud but more like a book club and then hopefully we’ll go through the rest of the series in much the same way. I know. Rainbows and unicorns. I’ll keep you posted on how this fantasy plays out.

On a completely different note, I cannot let the import of this date go unnoticed and want to send my love to everyone today. Not just the many people directly affected by the terrible events of 14 years ago who lost so, so much on that day. My heart breaks every time I think about all the men and women who are no longer with us. That level of loss is unimaginable and I don’t pretend to know how it feels.

So today is a day of rememberance, and I want to remember not just all the lives that were lost. I also want to remember how the tragedy brought us all together as a country and reminded us how much we loved living here and our fellow Americans. Despite all of our many, many differences, I want to remember that underneath it all, our hearts all look the same. We’re all struggling. We’re all doing the best we can. Let’s try to remember that today.


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Friday Faves (or ‘What’s That Smell?’)

Soy-Candle-Composite-Lit615If you’ve been out of the country or locked in a closet or somehow not tapped into the Worldwide Bloodstream (see video below), you might not be aware that I recently put my house on the market. It’s been a challenging process — clearing out all our clutter, sprucing the place up and keeping it clean all the time. I also picked an interesting time to undertake this endeavor with all four children home for the summer and about 13 pounds of sand that makes its way onto the mudroom floor every day, courtesy of my 12yo son’s bathing suit.

But by far the biggest challenge I’ve faced these last few weeks is keeping the place smelling fresh and not like a fraternity house. The last thing I want is a prospective buyer to walk through the front door and get a big whiff of freshly cooked porkroll or the dump someone just took in the powder room. So I’ve instilled some basic rules for the children, like NO COOKING and NO POOPING DOWNSTAIRS.

These edicts have been met with varying success.

The other preventative measure I took was loading up on products that might mask the stink of adolescent boy that sometimes hangs in the air here. The stink of teen spirit.

I am a firm believer that sometimes, more is more, and thus use the products liberally, often and simultaneously.

  • The number one thing I am totally obsessed with are these candles — in particular the beach sage flavor but I also love the apple slice variety upstairs in my bathroom — that I used to load up on at Target until I saw they started carrying them at our nearby Harmon. I really think you are going to thank me.
  • When my neighbors pulled up stakes and moved to Hong Kong last year, I made out like a bandit when — in an effort to get all of their stuff out of the house for renters to move in — they just started dropping bags of things off at my door. Trader Joe’s chips. Band Aids. Cotton balls. Good stuff. One of the items buried in one of the bags was this room freshener spray from Alex & Ani. I mean, who knew they sold that stuff there too but apparently they do. When I know someone is coming to check out the house, I start running from room to room squirting the stuff into the air.
  • When I went to Hong Kong last spring (seriously), we made our way to the Captain’s Bar for cocktails one Friday night and it was swanky, to say the least. In fact, as soon as we stepped into the hotel we were enveloped in this citrusy, floral scent that they apparently pump through the place through a diffuser and it smells divine. So when my girlfriend came home to New Jersey for the summer, she brought me a bottle of the spray, which I also run around squirting throughout the house when things are smelling a little stale. Now if someone would just make me a proper Old Fashioned, it would be like being back at the Captain’s Bar.
  • Speaking of bars and drinking in general, I’d like to suggest what you adopt as your go-to summer drink before it’s too late. It’s a Mexican Mule and you get yourself someone ginger beer (like the type they sell at Trader Joe’s) and mix in your favorite tequila and perhaps some seltzer/club soda to lighten it just a bit. I have to admit, I’ve enjoyed a few of these this summer. And speaking of tequila, life has gotten much easier for my Hong Kong pal who used to spike her tequila by letting it marinate in a mason jar with a couple of jalepeno peppers to spice up her famous margaritas. But we recently discovered at our favorite local bottle shop that some evil genius has invented already bottled spicy tequila and it is delish.
  • Finally, I had some time on my hands this week and revisited Broad City, which I binged on while sick this winter. I can’t even. And this clip in particular totally nails what it’s like living with Millenials who stop mid-conversation to stare at their phone and start to laugh. Annoying.

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Friday Faves: Two River Edition


Here’s the thing about me: when I like something, I generally tend to really like it. Whether you’re the person who colors my hair, a turkey and avocado sandwich or my boyfriend, chances are I’m going to try to keep you around. I mean, I’ve been going to the same hair lady for almost 20 years and come to think of it, was married around that long, too. I’m pretty loyal and monogamous. And that sandwich? Man, I ate that thing for lunch every day for years. I mean, not the same one but you get what I mean.

The downside of this dedication to things I really like is that there’s often not a lot of fluctuation in the types of goods and services I seek out. I usually just go for the same old things. But recently, it has come to my attention that I have been branching out a bit. In some instances, new needs emerged in my life and in others, I took a chance on something new (WHAT?) and the result was kind of great. Go ahead, live a little. See what I’m talking about.

  • I take my hair very seriously. Sometimes more seriously than what’s inside my actual head. As mentioned, I already have the pesky coloring part down and even though the race to keep all my gray hair covered is a never-ending one, I look forward to my every five or six week trek to have Lorraine wave her magic wand and make it all better. I am committed to her and hope she realizes that I won’t ever let her retire until I’m ready to give up this whole charade and allow my hair to turn the silvery-gray god would really like it to be. But getting my hair cut has been trickier. I don’t like to plan cuts too far in advance, which rules out some hairstylists I have liked. And I haven’t really had a haircut that I’ve LOVED in a long time. Until now. I was part of a blogger crawl and admired the hair of one of the fabulous women in our group. She sent me to Yanni Erbeli Salon in Red Bank and I couldn’t be more thrilled. First of all, Yanni is a nice and chatty guy. That’s an important quality for me in the people I need to provide me my various services. I really need to like you. Well, then you have to be good at what you do, too. And Yanni is amazing. I told him what I wanted and he totally listened and gave me just that. He didn’t just do whatever he wanted. And, here’s the magical part, somehow he’s cut it so that I just wash it and spray some product on it and it dries into a cute, wavy, summery bob. Good-bye blow dryer. Now if only he could help me get out of other annoying tasks that fill up my day, like making dinner for my children.
  • I’d been trying to meet up with a girlfriend for breakfast and she asked if I tried the new Seed to Sprout that opened in Fair Haven. We set a date to meet there two days later and then I turned to another pal who was working alongside me on her laptop (we’d run away from our children to get work done at our town’s library) and asked her if she wanted to go check it out for lunch. Reader, I’ve gone every day since and I am not like some super-healthy-vegan-organic-crunchy-chewy person. I just like food that tastes really good. I’ve even started studying the menu online. I tried the various bowls for lunch — like, I never knew kale could be so good — and had some magical avocado sandwich yesterday for breakfast. And, the portions are so big I ended up bringing half of my meal home to eat later (much to my children’s chagrin). Maybe I’ll see you there because obviously I’m heading back again today.
  • There comes a time in every girl’s life when she needs to start thinking about money. And not in the what-can-I-buy-at-Target kind of way but more like the how-shall-I-pay-the-bills way. The stinky way, in other words. If you find yourself in need of someone to help you sort it all out — what’s coming in and what’s going out and what, if anything, is left over — do I have the wizard for you. She’s Liz Gearon at Ship Shape Financial and she while she may make you come to Jesus a little — oh, it can be a reckoning — Liz is kind, supportive and not the least bit judgemental. She didn’t even make me feel bad about all that money I spend on my hair. Oh, and you don’t even have to be a girl to use her services. Boys, apparently, use her, too. She’s also a QuickBooks guru and assists small to medium businesses with financial statements, budgets, cash projections and general ledger analysis. In other words, she does things I barely understand. You can email her at as the first step to putting your financial house in order. Just like me.
  • There may also come a time in a girl’s life when her cat of five years begins to freak the fuck out. For no reason. When the animal whom was rescued from the wilds of suburban New Jersey and drinks from a water bowl that reads “Princess,” begins urinating daily on your couch. When it gets to the point that it starts to seem normal that all the upholstered furniture in your house is covered in plastic drop cloths you bought at Home Depot, like your house is one big Dexter-style kill room, you need to call in The Contented Cat. Sally came to our house and cooed at our naughty kitty and came up with a game plan for directing her urine into the proper receptacle and — in what now seems like no time — our girl was back on track. Sally is truly a cat whisperer and provides all sorts of other services like reiki and adoption counseling. Along the way, I also learned a lot about the care and keeping of kitty cats, something I never really knew anything about, and found a friend in our cat lady as well.

Wishing you all enough money to afford fabulous haircuts, big bowls of kale and cats who don’t pee on your couch. Happy Friday!

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Friday Faves: Believe in Miracles

I believe in miracles. Who knew?

I believe in miracles. Who knew?

As of about 48 hours ago I was still complaining about my life.

I was feeling overwhelmed.

I had a lot of work to do.

I had too many kids.

I had a bunch of driving back and forth from the middle of Pennsylvania to New Jersey awaiting me.

I needed to get my daughter ready to leave for college in said middle of nowhere.

I had to figure out how to pay for all of the things.

So there was a lot of hand wringing and weepy moments this week as I shared my distress with a couple of close friends.

But here’s the good news: I pick really good friends. Like, I keep negative and crazy at bay and really try to surround myself with folks who exude good energy.

I recommend it.

So, I was telling my friend Dan, you know him — The Girl Whisperer — about my woes and he listened very carefully and said, in all seriousness, “Your life is great.”

He went on: “Love your children. Love your work. Enjoy everything about your life. These are not big problems. Big problems are coming. These are not big problems.”

Dan, as you may recall, recently had a run in with cancer. And it beat the shit out of him. Actually, it killed him, however briefly. At the end of January, after 33 rounds of radiation to his face and neck and chemo that caused magnesium to slowly leak undetected out of his kidney, his heart stopped beating. Apparently magnesium is really important. Some little doctor jumped on his chest and broke his ribs in her effort to resuscitate him and then he was popped on ice in an induced coma for two days. And when the doctors brought his around, he was fine. I mean, fine in terms of he was alive and hadn’t incurred any brain damage.

Which apparently never happens.

So the medical staff started referring to Dan as “The Miracle Man” as he slowly began to recover following the coma. During his treatment he’d lost over 40 pounds, all his hair and all the muscle he’d built and maintained and created a business around. His whole life had been dedicated to good health.

And now six months later, he’s back on my couch looking and sounding almost like his old self. Every week his face looks a little fuller and his voice a little stronger but his spirit is so strong. I can feel it.

So when he told me that my life was good, I really knew what he meant. I had the honor of waking up that morning and getting out of bed and going about my day. My children have all their fingers and toes and most of their wits and whatever challenges I face will resolve themselves one way or another.

There are much worse things.

So right there I decided I should just shut the fuck up.

Yesterday, while I was sitting at the kitchen table working and staring at a full calendar for the day of writing and a meeting and a trip to the Genius Bar to get the soon-to-be-college-girl’s laptop issues resolved, my oldest child — who at 22 is hard pressed to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for himself — asked me if I wanted him to go food shopping.

Granted, our cupboards were bare, but usually that would just call for complaints, not action. This was an impressive move and one that I did not see coming.

Later, we brought the mail in and stuck between my gas bill and yet another bullshit Victoria’s Secret catalog was a check, ladies and gentlemen, for something I wrote that is going to be published in a national magazine. Like, the kind they sell at the supermarket checkout aisle and Target.

So between Dan’s amazing recovery and that much-needed check and my son’s generous assist, I’ve come to one very big conclusion: Miracles do happen. And sometimes they come when you least expect them.

Here are a few other tidbits I’ve found slightly miraculous this week:

  • Usually I’m prepared for long drives. I’m a fan of the audiobook. But I hadn’t done any prep work for the eight hours I drove at the beginning of the week to get my girl out to new student orientation. Actually, for the four-hour leg early Sunday morning, we sat in silence for a while and then began to talk. And we pretty much talked most of the drive. And if you’ve spent any time with an 18yo — even a really nice one — you know that that’s not always the case. Sometimes they wear headphones or a scowl that does not invite conversation. So I enjoyed our chatting. But driving the four hours home Monday night, we were kind of all talked out so I fiddled around with stations on XM and discovered one of my very-best-make-believe-TV-girlfriends has her own radio show and I happily drove and listened to her joke about her hair and interview Candace Bushnell. It totally beat listening to The Bridge or 70s on 7.
  • We left the Apple store last night and Daughter #2 commented that it was the first time she’d done that without anybody spending any money. New territory for us. Then we headed to the Verizon mall store where Daughter #1 bought herself an iPhone 6 and her little sister, duly impressed, told her she was a “grown ass woman.” But then we learned that you can pay about $25 and Verizon will put a piece of glass over your iPhone screen, which both of the girls ended up paying for, and we left feeling like we’d killed that mall trip.
  • While at the mall, we had to drift into Aerie and I’m sorry but I always find things I love there. Sadly, all my money is spoken for these days, but if I had a few sheckels to spare, I would have totally scooped up this and this and this and been the most glamorous girl at the beach this summer.
  • I made my third going-to-college pilgrimage to Target this week and while there’s really not a lot out yet for dorm living, we found a cute comforter kind of like this and my girl is kind of obsessed with these sheets . Add some lady products and a bottle of Tums and it was an easy $500 to kiss good-bye.
  • What would the getting-a-kid-ready-to-go-to-college-experience be like without a trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond as well? They are still pushing outdoor living and haven’t really put a back-to-school section together but I did spy these totally adorable Kate Spade comforters and was glad we’d already bought our much-cheaper Target versions.

Believe in miracles, everyone. They really do happen.

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