Helping the homeless in NYC this winter

“Baby it’s cold outside”  Doesn’t really sound so cute to a homeless person in NYC.  I get “Frangry” this time of year.  You may have heard of “Hangry” when your hungry and it makes you angry.  Well, in my version it’s Freezing and it really makes me angry.  I know I was meant to live on a beach somewhere (almost anywhere) that’s warm.  But as bad as I feel for myself if my gloves aren’t the best or I wore the wrong choice of coat, how about those New Yorkers who don’t have a roof over their heads to run home to?


Here’s some good info I learned and a link to the article on the Coalition for the Homeless website.



Another idea I had, was as our family gathers this year, for celebrations, I”m asking everyone to bring a little extra (see list below) and I’m packing a couple of backpacks up to give to those I see in my daily travels.

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Here’s the list I made up:

Fleece Blanket: 

You may have an extra at home or pick one up.  Or if you want to have something to give out that really helps, how about ordering Emergency Mylar Blankets that you can easily carry and give out when you see someone struggling?

Water bottles: 

Don’t know about you, but I have too many! Instead of throwing them away, how about they go to someone who could use them?

Granola bars or cereal bars: 

I’ll just get some extra when I order some for my son at college.  I’d avoid the fiber ones, because they can be too much and the last thing a person on the street needs is a stomach ache.

Gift certificates to fast food: 

I love this idea because of many homeless people like fast food.  I know there are so many arguments for why not to eat it, but this comes down to helping in whatever way we can and not putting our own judgments on it.

Hand wipes or sanitizer bottle: 

Being clean and cutting down on germs can keep a person healthier and feeling better about themselves all at once.

MaxiPads:  

OMG as I woman I can’t even imagine.

Toothbrush and toothpaste: 

So easy to pick this up at your local store or add to your Amazon cart a travel dental kit.

Nail Clippers: 

Why do I have so many in my house?  This is a great use of some of my extras!

Band-Aids:  

Here’s a pack of 100 Bandages that will be plenty for your family and some to share.

Chapstick: 

Again why do I have so many in my house!

Comb or small brush: 

You may have extras of these.  I don’t, so I picked one up here.

Mints, cough drops or gum: 

I think the cough drops are the most useful. I’m just not a fan of gum and mints.

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I”m happy to make a more extensive list if anyone is interested.  I used to work for inner city missions and have some experience with homelessness. 

Here are 4 tips for interacting with people on the streets:

1. Each person you encounter is a PERSON.  Try not to lump them into a category in your head “Homeless people”  

2. Because each person is an individual they will all have different reactions to you, ranging from appreciative to angry.  Don’t take personal any adverse reactions, just move on to someone you feel you can connect with or wants what you have to give.

3. Respect the space of the person.  Not having much sometimes strips a person of pride.  So please respect them and the few possessions they may have.  It may not look like much to you, but it may be all they have in the world.

4. Respect yourself also.  You are trying to help someone and that is a great thing.  Realize that the people you will meet are survivors and in order to survive they may try to get whatever they can from you.  Be careful of your personal possessions, your generous heart (know what you are giving that day and do not get guilted into giving more than you are prepared to - you can always come back another day) and your time (when it’s time to leave, just say something like, “It was so nice speaking with you today, I wish you well and perhaps we will meet again.”  Don’t overpromise.

My personal opinion is that it’s harder after the holidays for the people we pass each day.  Many New Yorkers have moved on from the feeling of generosity that we share during the holidays and are now into New Year’s goals of saving money and losing 10 lbs.  I’m going to work to develop a habit this January of each time I’m tempted to be “Frangry” to take out of my pocket an item I have acquired that would be helpful to someone less fortunate and give it away.  I think that’s going to be good for everyone.  What’s your triumph or biggest challenge with helping those in need?



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?

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