Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sneaky, Snarky!

I just got an email alert, claiming to list chic hotels for under $175 a night. Now I have been around the block (planet Earth) a few times so I wondered where I might find such screaming deals. I mean, this isn't youth hostel pricing, but I don't do that anymore. So $175 for nice is nice, right? And since I am sweating through a week-long spell of over ninety degree days, I could use a break. So where is this list of chic inns for a song?
Sure enough, right in scam city.
I must warn you, this MSNBC site is one slow loading sucker, what with all the ads. Yet a little patience brings up a list of hotels like The Bowery, in NYC that starts at $425, rising steeply from there, The Fasano in Rio, $500, Hotel Screen, Kyoto, starting at $435 a night. That isn't $175, not even near it. What gives?
Oh look, here is La Purificadora, a converted water purification plant, how chic, two hours outside Mexico City. $175 a night.
I think I'll make myself another iced coffee.

Water, Water, Everywhere

Around here, we watch our footprint, carbon that is. So one of the things we have stopped buying is the fancy H2O. Filtered tap water is what we drink. But those pretty bottles, and the great ads, almost criminal in their deception. Greenwashing, it's called.

But do you ever stop to think about the irony and energy it takes to transport water? Some brilliant blogger, Pablo, did. (Thanks Pablo) He calculated the energy cost to get a liter of Fiji Water from the remote Pacific to your fridge. It isn't pretty. The distance from Fiji to San Francisco is 8,700km or over 5,400 miles, which interestingly enough, is the same distance as Italy is to Florida ("would you like another bottle of Pellegrino?"). That's a long haul for a little drink of water.
Do the math. Pablo did.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Iced Coffee

Ooooooh, so hot today. A torrid, evil wind blows, robbing us of energy and shine.
Iced Coffee!
Not just any iced coffee, the iced coffee with coffee ice cubes that someone had the foresight to create yesterday. And the cooled simple syrup that beats Splenda by a mile. And further research tells us that in New Orleans, they don't even heat the coffee. Just combine cool water and ground coffee and let it soak (in the fridge if your house is hot) for a spell. Overnight is good. Then strain it.
The New York Times ran an article with the recipe, and links to devices for sale. You can probably get your hands on a used mayonnaise jar and something to filter it and save $35 but these fancy devices might be worth the price for a steady supply of great iced coffee.

Eat Less, Exercise More

It looks like we need to exercise at least an hour a day, according to a recently released study.
We also need to keep our intake of calories to 1200-1500 daily. That is if we want to fit into our tight jeans.
I know, boring!
But maybe not, if we watch what we chow down on.
Let's look at some of our favorite foods.

Each ounce of potato chips or cheese puffs is roughly 160 calories, and that can add up if you sit with the entire bag. Try portion control, fill a small bowl with lighter, leaner snacks. Low-fat popcorn. Fruit. Carrot and celery sticks.

A 20 ounce T-bone steak can weigh in at 1,540 calories, but many lean options share the grill. Look for the words "loin" and "round" as in pork tenderloin. Skinless chicken, fish. And again, portion control, The Food Guide Pyramid recommends 5 to 7 ounces from the meat group each day, which can be eaten as two 3-ounce servings or as one larger portion. A cooked, trimmed 3-ounce serving of meat, fish, or poultry is about the size of a deck of cards.

A small half-cup portion of typical potato salad has 180 calories, the mayo will get ya. But try a German-style potato salad, using mustard, balsamic vinegar, chives and a little olive oil for flavor.

A daiquiri floors you with 300-800 calories. Wine cooler anyone?

Lighten up, keep it lean, stick with it. Results will reward you.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Latest Thing, Fish Pedicures

Not sure if this idea will make a splash nationwide, but a salon near D.C. is offering bowls of fish to nibble the callouses off toes.
"This is a good treatment for everyone who likes to have nice feet," the unfortunately named John Ho, salon manager said.
Evidently, the fish, garra rufa, also known as doctor fish eat the softened callouses, a practice known in Turkey and Asia. The treatment, which involves sharing a bowl of water with about 100 fish, costs $50 for a half hour, tip not included.

Solution to "Something's In The Air"

Yes, commercial products seem to be toxic. Why not go back to grandma's basics to run a clean, happy home? Here are a few simple recipes from Women and the Environment, a group that's been working to clean up our planet's act for thirteen years.

All-Purpose Cleaner
suggested uses: hard surfaces like countertops and kitchen floors, windows and mirrors

2 cups white distilled vinegar
2 cups water
20-30 or more drops of essential oil (optional)

Tip: Warming in microwave until barely hot will boost cleaning power for tough jobs. Only microwave in a glass container.

Creamy Soft Scrub
suggested uses: Use this creamy soft scrub on kitchen counters, stoves, bathroom sinks, etc.

2 cups baking soda
½ cup liquid castile soap*
4 teaspoons vegetable glycerin (acts as a preservative)
5 drops antibacterial essential oil such as lavender, tea tree, rosemary or any scent you prefer (optional)

Mix together and store in a sealed glass jar, shelf life of 2 years.

Tips: For exceptionally tough jobs spray with vinegar first—full strength or diluted, scented—let sit and follow with scrub.

Dry soft scrubs can be made with baking soda or salt (or combination of both) with 10-15 drops essential oil to scent.

Laundry Detergent

1 cup soap flakes
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup Borax

Soap flakes can be made by grating your favorite pure vegetable soap with a cheese grater. Mix ingredients together and store in a glass container. Use 1 tablespoon per load (2 for heavily soiled laundry), wash in warm or cold water.

This standard recipe can be adjusted for soft water by using 1 cup soap flakes, 1/4 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup borax. For hard water, use 1 cup soap flakes, 1 cup washing soda, and 1 cup borax.

Note: Borax should not be ingested.

Tips: Add 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar to rinse as a fabric softener. For a whitener, use hydrogen peroxide rather than bleach. Soak your dingy white clothes for 30 minutes in the washer with 1/2 cup 20% peroxide. Launder as usual.

Share any tips/recipes you have found.

Something's In The Air

You know how those strong household cleansers kind of hurt your nose and sinuses after you do a good scrub? Well, it seems that all is not well in the clean machine.
A University of Washington study of top-selling laundry products and air fresheners found the products emitted dozens of different chemicals. All six products tested gave off at least one chemical regulated as toxic or hazardous under federal laws, but none of those chemicals was listed on the product labels.
The researcher, Anne Steinemann, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and public affairs, chose not to disclose the names of the common products, but the results were alarming.
"I was surprised by both the number and the potential toxicity of the chemicals that were found," Steinemann said. Chemicals included acetone, the active ingredient in paint thinner and nail-polish remover; limonene, a molecule with a citrus scent; as well as acetaldehyde, chloromethane and 1,4-dioxane.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hangin At The "Shack"

Not too shabby, the local yum yum bar in Montauk, The Gig Shack. Hangout of hungry surfers, sandy families from the beach slurping locally made gelato, cool sounds from faraway places to the south throb the arty space, and a solid WIFI connection for Miss Blogger here.
Faves include:
  • The Lamborgini, three tender lamb sliders on a cheesy bun.
  • Fresh fish taco, this is Montauk, fresh means fresh!
  • Chilled tomato soup, ginger and sesame aftertaste
  • Empanada con chorizo sausage y manchego, hoy!
  • Lobster Roll on Brioche ("bling burger").

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

That Explains The Sleeping Teen Syndrome

Yet another aha!

According to recently published research by the American Medical Association, studies show that kids' activity level drops after age nine. Seriously drops from, on average three hours a day to about a half hour (on weekends).

According to the NYTimes, "The findings, which measured everything from moderate walking to vigorous athletic pursuits, show clearly that even the most energetic young children experience a precipitous drop in physical activity as they reach puberty."

I guess they just can't help it.


OK, we outgrow many things, bibs being one of them.......except when we eat lobster! What's up with that ritual? When else, when dining out, are we asked to don an item? OK, maybe if you are a man and you show up at some fancy restaurant or country club and they have some stockpile of ties and jackets for poor slobs like you who didn't know about the dining room's dress code......but bibs? Brings to mind the 1920's and spat and top hatted swells would need some sort of protection from their oysters Rockefeller so they wouldn't slop on their finery. They probably had some fine cotton number tied around their neck by the help. But disposable bibs? In this day and age? Granted, it is a messy (yet fun!) affair, cracking and sucking and dipping in drippy melted butter, yum! But what are we protecting? Our message sweatshirts? Do people in Maine wear them? They eat lot's of lobster there.
And do we even care that we look like overgrown kids?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Let's Watch a Movie

I know, I know, I was just raging (yes, Moms are allowed to rage) about spending too much time indoors, but sometimes we need to watch movies. With the family. Rent a DVD that the whole gang can enjoy together, or go for the full screen experience as a group. Not only is this fun but it expands the range of common topics for discussion. Hollywood is hip to this, witness the increase of films designed to entertain on many levels.
Apart from the highly recommended things that are buzzed about, (I am looking at you, WALL-E)) many movies open and close at the multiplex, faster than you can say "where did I put my cellphone." They end up on video rental shelves, along with the other hundreds of multi- million dollar follies, often unknown but to a savvy few. I offer a random selection.
Feel free to comment with any additions.

I don't even remember this gem hitting the theaters last year. A weepy, whimsical mix of The Princess Bride, Pirates of the Caribbean, and other witchy fun things. Go rent it. PG rating.
The Fall
This R-rated recent release was filmed in dozens of countries, the sets and costumes are outrageous and surreal. Nine-year-old, Romanian-born actress Catinca Untar steals the show, look for her on Oscar night.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Go Outside And Play!

We are spending an awful lot of time in front of screens these days.

"Family Entertainment" Game Sales Grow By 110%
Computer and video game software sales reached $9.5 billion in 2007, 28% over the previous year, and set a new record according to
final data compiled by the NPD Group and announced today by the
Entertainment Software Association (ESA).

Maybe too much, ya think?
Just saying.

Then there is the UTNR Reader article that asks, "Is The Internets Rotting Our Brain?".
Let's all just get out and breathe a little fresh air, while we still can. OK?

Always Selling Something II

What do you suppose they are selling here? Ample truck space? A sturdy friendly moving crew? Their clever sense of perspective?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Always Selling Something

So New Yawk, selling stuff. Dig these "Greek Warriors" on Segways on Columbus Circle. It seems that we should know about a new yogurt, so some marketing people come up with the chariots/costumes idea. The warriors were actually handing out cups of yogurt samples and spoons, but the heat and confusion seemed to turn people off. I mean, New York is an "eat while you walk" kind of town but the yogurt seemed to have few takers, mostly gawkers. Those helmets and chest pieces were constructed of plastic. Like the kind you get dixie cups in.

That's Funny!

It's fun zipping around the East Coast, refreshingly jangling, disfunctional, silly, weird, overwhelming, unrelenting assault on the senses. The heat brings out the essenses of trash piles, rotting food trash stings the olfactory system. Especially in the hyper-hip Meat Packing District (did the gays come up with that?) of Manhattan. Sitting crook to hook are the chic design doers and the slab o'meat systems. Already trampled by the lookeyloos, yet still no signs of abatement on the construction horizon. Shitty/chic sharing stares. Sleek black fleets idle outside galleries, shops, on streets still cobbled, threatening to hobble the brave colts in vertiginous designer shoes.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Summer Fun

My boy, Nico and his friend, Mikey caught a fish today. A big fish. After days of no luck, Nico spotted and speared a 58-pound striped bass off of Montauk, NY.
He looks happy.