It’s 4:30 - What’s for dinner?

I’m starving.  I think it’s a combination of post-Thanksgiving expanded stomach and hibernating/holiday-approaching food cravings.  Whatever!!  All I know is I wish someone had made dinner.  What?!  That someone is supposed to be me……hmmm.  If I could go back in time I could have started a delicious stew or roast this morning.  However, my son has still not invented time travel even though he spends tons of time thinking about it.  So my next best option seems to be…. INSTAPOT!


For only $99 -$120 you can have a meal like your grandmother would make but in only 70% less time!  I have to confess. I don’t have one of these….YET! But as I told my daughter, it’s a must, must, must!  I mean this thing replaces in my kitchen a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, egg cooker, saute, steamer, warmer, sterilizer and it makes a cake too!  It does all that and I don’t have to get it dental insurance or a MetroCard!!

Seriously, I came across a Facebook group and was granted admission. (It was a few tough minutes as I sat my computer - ignoring all the other tasks I was supposed to be doing - to await my approval)  Now I have access to thousands of recipes and just as many manic moms as me who think this might be the answer to making dinner, family time, nay the whole holiday season a success!!!!

And there are even cookbooks just for this wonderful invention:

Here are the top 5 reasons to get an Instapot:

#1 Husbands (or those less likely to be cooking) will see it as a new gadget and give it a try.  Seriously, I’ll never understand the BBQ phenomena.

#2 Make rice last minute. I’m sick of forgetting the rice!!  Never again!

#3 Make space on your counter by getting rid of other appliances like a crockpot, rice cooker, etc.  This is essential in my little NYC apartment.

#4 Because of the shorter cooking times you can preserve more heat-sensitive nutrients and everyone is healthier and stronger through the winter months!

#5 And of course, for busy parents, it saves you time!  I love my crock pot, but if I don’t get it started at the right time in the morning we could be eating at 9pm.  I love the idea that this will help me make a delicious and nutritious dinner at just the right time!

Do you think this could help you through the holiday season?  What other tips do you have for time management at this time of year?  Let me know here!



Holiday pajamas and 5 best photo ops for NYC holidays

Necessity - an indispensable thing.  -  “a good book is a necessity when traveling”  

And I say, New Holiday Pajamas are a necessity to great holidays.  Every year we have pictures of our sweet kids (and sometimes the cat) under the tree.  It’s a great holiday tradition and you know I love holiday traditions!  

Here’s a fun picture we took one year:

But I seem to have “lost” the picture of the year my daughter was under the Christmas tree for the first time.  I’ll insert it later if I find it.  But suffice it to say she was a Christmas baby of 6 months old.  So beautiful and cute!  And I took a photo with her under the tree.  Not until later did I realize that she was in a worn out onesie that was hanging down and gave a “Xmas in Prison” kind of look!

So from that year on, “Santa” always stopped by on Christmas Eve while we were at Grandma’s house for dinner, with beautiful new Christmas pajamas.  Sometimes they were holiday themed or sometimes, just something the kids loved.

What I think we really should have done is gotten family matching pjs.  How fun is this:

Now that I have some years of perspective, here is my list of 5 best family photo ops in NYC (not to be done in PJs!)

#1 HOLIDAY TREES IN MANHATTAN

Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park,  Lincoln Center.  They all have unique and beautiful trees.  We rarely went to the lighting activities because of the crowds but here is a schedule of them if you’re interested.  

11/27 - Lincoln Center ‘Winter’s Eve” tree lighting

11/29 - Rockefeller Center tree lighting

12/1 Bryant Park tree lighting

#2 CENTRAL PARK HORSE CARRIAGES

From Nov 24 - Jan 5 the price of one hour ride should be about $140 and you may not be able to get a ½ hour ride during those dates.  Enjoy the experience or just tip the driver and as the take a picture in front of the horse:)

#3 GET TO SANTA 

11/24-12/24   Macy’s has been an iconic place to see and visit with Santa.  You can click here to make reservations, but be aware that even with a reservation you may have a long wait.  

For other Santa options:

11/30 5:30-6:30  The Annual Central Park Holiday Lighting at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center @110th street has a great Santa and

11/24-12/23 Santa will be at Bloomingdales from 10-6pm each day.

#4 BROOKFIELD PLACE

Great for holiday pictures in general, they also have Santa, but it’s a little complicated so I suggest you click here for the Santa dets.  Super bonus though, you can bring a small dog for your photo!

#5 HOLIDAY TRAIN SHOW

11/22-1/15.  Great to do now or even into January (if you don’t get that much-needed family picture in during the holidays.  The Train show at the Botanical Gardens is a beautiful site with more than 150 NYC landmarks made out of acorns, leaves, twigs, bark, and berries.  Check for timing and prices here.  Just make a note, there are no strollers allowed inside. Parking permitted outside.

So get out of those jammies and take the family to one of our iconic holiday spots.  You’ll look back in years to come and be so glad you did.  I know I am!










Good parents are the blessing kids need most

In my business as a New York City face painter, I see thousands of kids and lots of amazing parents.

This Thanksgiving I’m reminded that parents are the very best blessing and something we all as a society should be so grateful for.

I love when parents get painted with their kids like this super fun mom who joined the fun with her kids.  

Hope your Thanksgiving includes lots of family, fun, crafts, and photos.  Here’s a fun craft I I found on Pinterest from How to Homeschool My Child for making your own photo booth props.

My hope is that each person reading this has an opportunity this week to spend time with friends and family build memories.  Eat lots of food, take lots of pictures and think about values that build strong families.  This year more that ever we need that.  Here’s a great dad that got it right!

Amazing Dad Motivates Daughter



NYC - Take the kids to The Macys Parade!

Hey New Yorkers…Take the kids to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

I really should name this blog - “When the kids were little”  I find myself saying that all the time.  But we seem to be past the stage when Dad would take the kids to the parade every Thanksgiving while I prepared dinner in the quiet of the apartment. (I know you can relate moms)


Back in those days, they would travel in a big plastic red wagon.  Who has one of those now?  (I think it was Little Tykes).  They actually had access to a really big ladder that they would go get and set up along the parade route for a better vantage point. Can’t imagine with all our security needs now, that that would be feasible on Thanksgiving 2017.  


But the best thing was after the parade was done, just as Santa and the last of them rode by.  They would run into the street that was still closed down and have their annual “After Thanksgiving Day Parade”.  When they came home I’d hear all about the songs they sang at the top of their lungs and the waves they gave and received to confused passer-bys.  


My point is, it was a great memory and I’m so glad they had the chance to do that.  I hope your family with small children will have similar fun memories.


Get out there. See the parade.  Be cautious and keep your eyes open.  Enjoy our way of life here in NYC.  Build memories for the little ones.


Here’s the route:

It stretches for 2.5 miles, beginning at 77th Street and Central Park West, and ending in Midtown in front of Macy’s Herald Square on 34th Street. Along the way, it travels down Central Park West; turns east onto Central Park South at Columbus Circle; then turns south at Sixth Avenue, and travels along that thoroughfare before turning west at 34th Street, and ending at Macy’s.


This year, new faces will include characters from Paw Patrol and Super Wings, as well as a new Grinch balloon, and a balloon depicting Olaf from Frozen”

Pictures courtesy Macy’s, Santa from 1924 to today!


Have you been to the parade?  What was your experience with the kids?


Easy DIY Thanksgiving traditions

Don’t panic.  With just a bit of creativity your family can have a beautiful Thanksgiving with some fun DIY crafts that will provide memories for years to come.  

One of our favorite traditions around Thanksgiving is the “Thankfulness Tree”. Ours was a Do-it-yourself tree made of construction paper that we loved creating each year.  

I guess that year we had fancy post-its to stick up - no cutting out oval leaves.

Once the base of the tree was up against the wall and the leaves were cut out, we would put them in a basket.  Then, with all the enticements a mom could muster, I would encourage everyone to fill up that tree with Thankfulness leaves as the holiday approached.  Even the day of, as family and friends arrived, the kids would bring the basket of leaves around in the hope of setting a record of the fullest tree thus far!  .

When the joyful gluttony of the evening was over and before a certain Grandpa slipped into his food coma, we would take the leaves off the tree and take turns reading them.  Sometimes we would have to guess who wrote which one (that was my favorite part - when they weren’t signed).  

Yes, maybe it was a corny tradition, but it reminded us all of what we had to be grateful for and what the purpose of this, my favorite holiday, really is.

Here are 3 more top Thanksgiving traditions we love:


#1 Create the smells of the holidays

The easiest was is to just boil water in an old pot (just please keep an eye on it and please put it on a back burner),  then turn it down to a simmer and add a few organic whole cloves  ($9) and a dash of cinnamon ($8).  The smells always put everyone is a good mood. (sometimes even make the dreaded over vacation home work better)

Alternately, you can let the kids take turns each night to light a fragrant candle.  We always lit those long matches for the fire place and handed them to the kids to light the candle, but now they have flameless USB lighters on Amazon.  (let me know if you like them)   For a limited time you can get 40% off these beautiful and lovely smelling Chesapeake Bay candles using this promo code:  40SPREADJOY

#2  Kids Table Place Mat

Using kraft paper ($21) and really fun chalkboard makers  ($15) to make kids placemats.  

Just trace around plates, draw in utensils and let the kids personalize to their hearts content!

#3  Make a Thanksgiving Banner.

Cut out pictures from magazines or even your own pictures if you have a picture printer.  They range from $30 up to $147 will all the bells and whistles.

Attach the pictures using modge podge ($7) or even staples to a burlap banner ($6).

Hang them in the dining room or over the fireplace or anywhere the kids can point out all the things they are thankful for.  Each year you can create new ones and what a fun thing to pass down to the next generation

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What traditions do you have around Thanksgiving in your family?  I’d love to hear in the comments below


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