Friday, January 20, 2012

Drawings From The Film Beginners By Mike Mills

I was recently gifted with this book, a limited edition companion to the film Beginners by Mike Mills.

courtesy of Reprizent

Thank you, Michael Arkin!  (to the blogosphere:  I also wrote Michael a thoughtful, hand-written note of thanks.  Long before I was acquainted with Derek Blasberg's work, I was trained in proper etiquette by my mother).

My college boyfriend's father was gay.   I remember the great secrecy and emotion surrounding him telling me about his father in the early 90s.  Times are so different today for the gay community and this film gives a broader historical perspective about the lifestyles of closeted gays in the 20th century.

I have been told that I will like Mike Mills' style if I like Wes Anderson's.  This is too delicious!

Naturally, I have great affection for Christopher Plummer, who stars in this film, as he will always be the Captain singing "Edelweiss" in my memory.

She Was Not Asking For It, From One Dov to Another

Dov Charney, founder of American Apparel.  photo source:

“Last month, an innocent, modestly dressed 8-year old girl, Naama Margolese, living in Beit Shemesh, described being spat on and vilified by religious extremists - - all men who believed that she did not dress modestly enough while walking past them to the religious school she attends.” 

Well-spoken.  Well-said.  Well-written.  Kol hakavod (kudos).

This op-ed piece is written by a very wise Rabbi named Dov Linzer in New York.

photo courtesy of Rabbi Dov Linzer's Facebook profile

I wonder if he knows that he shares the same first name as the wise, creative, successful shmatta tycoon Dov Charney in Los Angeles who is noted for his provocative American Apparel ad campaigns.

Does Mr. Charney knows that yeshiva girls and Jewish women are forever grateful for his interlock pencil skirt which enables them to dress both fashionably and modestly?  Hypersexualized ad campaigns?  No matter.  You make the goods and the smart shoppers have found your shmattas and wear them in a tznius (modest) way.  I hope he's kvelling.  What a way to repurpose an item in an all good way.

Jewish women time and again prove that they are wise beyond their words and actions.

Thank you to both Dovs for your good work on this earth.

Thank God It's Friday, Hollywood Disco-Style

This comes via my friend Big Josh aka The Coach. He is such a gregarious soul, dare I call him a social butterfly? xoxo to Big Josh, and I can't agree more with this song, part of the film that launched Donna Summer's career!

 As I played field hockey in high school (though about 10 years after this film, and therefore no red tube socks), I naturally love the opening sequence with the girls getting on the bus and their field hockey sticks in hand.

 Thank you, Barry Bernstein and Rob Cohen, writer and producer respectively, for this beacon of light!

(there is a YouTube video link below:  If you are not seeing the image, click through to the website itself and it will appear.  Sometimes in the email digest you won't see it)


My-Not-So-Random Connection to Tara Stiles, My Favorite Yoga Teacher

A few months ago, I decided to stop simply thinking about yoga and start doing it.

So, I went to the Kripalu website, hoping to find some good yoga YouTube videos.  Without rhyme or reason, I clicked on a couple of their graduates' profiles.  At the 3rd click, I got to Tara Stiles.  I never heard of her.  Something drew me to her name specifically.  I don't believe it was random.

Tara's outlook and style speaks to me.  Her whole lifestyle is yoga.  She recently YouTube blogged about eating salad for breakfast.  Not such a novel idea, but coming from her lips it sounded magical and attainable.  She has a great YouTube on doing yoga in bed right as you're waking up.  Of course, normally I stretch anyway in the morning, but she showed me how to take it to the next level.  Her videos are not just instructional, but also entertaining with her dry-wit sense of humor.  I love how she starts off her videos with the following standard phrase, "Hey guys, how are you, I'm Tara Stiles."  Totally chill.

She is Deepak Chopra's yoga teacher and also the proprietor of Strala Yoga in Manhattan.

Looks like she's doing a new series for LIVESTRONG Woman.

there is a YouTube video here, so if you are reading this as an email feed, you might not be able to see it.  click through to the website and you can see the video link.

Since I have no current plans to visit Strala Yoga, I continue to rely on her most excellent YouTube channel.

Thanks, Tara!

An Advertisement I Loved in W Magazine

I love W Magazine not just for its articles but also for its smart, artful, zeitgeisty advertisements.  

Here is a Marc Jacobs ad from their Spring Fashion Issue, which appeared in the first few pages.

It could be Berlin or Amsterdam.
It could be Jason Schwartzman's character from The Darjeeling Limited*.
It could also be New York, since there is a Prius-looking car in the background.
It's got that International Style mid-century modern building in the background.

Or it could just be some dude in Manhattan wishing he were back in Holland since they are the masters of city cycling.

*One of my favorite films.  My life is most definitely a living Wes Anderson film, with a bit of ta'am (Jewish flavor) thrown in.

Hostess Gift #1: Glendale Organic Grape Juice & Taza Chocolate

We get invited to friends' homes frequently for Shabbat lunch on Saturday afternoon after synagogue.  There is always good food, many children, and yummy challah involved.  The traditional gift to bring is a bottle of wine or other readily edible food for that meal, but I put together something a little more original.

Glendale Farm Grape Juice from the Finger Lakes, NY with waiter-style table crumber.  Buy NOW as by Passover 2012 it will no longer be under the O-U

Organic Glendale Farm Grape juice, 2010 vintage.
Waiter-style table crumber
Tag made from PEZ candy cardboard package.
Bringing to our hosts for shabbat lunch.

Table crumber is essential for the challah crumbs!  Easily found in Judaica stores and Kosher food markets.  Or, just ask your waiter at Maialino if he has an extra to spare.

With children, grape juice is a necessity for the kiddush (blessing over the wine).  It is a 100% acceptable substitute.  It's even legit for adults to use it.

Enter the upscale organic Kosher grape juice.  Mix half with seltzer for a "juicy beverage," or, what many folks might know better as a spritzer.  Call it homemade soda, it's all the same goodness.  We have been buying this for years at Fairway in New York City.  It is available via special order through Whole Foods on the East Coast.  You need to order a case, and only this size bottle, 22 ounce, is available.  [If you are familiar, they used to be in a bottle that looked like the Santa Cruz juices bottle (not kosher),  but those days are currently over].

I spoke with the proprietor of Glendale Farm recently. He explained that the juice is now in a bottle that looks like his competitor Kedem (which, in my opinion taste-wise doesn't stand any comparison) because the Orthodox Union gave him no other option.  This is getting political and not my bag...

He was not bought out by Kedem.

He is hoping to get certification for his 2012 vintage with the OK Laboratories.

I plan to bring one bottle from my stash coupled with a nice bar of Parve Taza chocolate (also available at Whole Foods).

Taza chocolate is Parve, organic, made locally in Somerville, MA, under the OU

Go here to see more Taza Chocolate
Go here to see more Glendale Farms  (he is a small company, very under-the-radar, but highest quality).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

More V Magazine, And Oh the Advertisements!

I got to V initially because I was subscribing to W.

And I got into W because, like guys who read Playboy "for the articles," I found such interesting information there.  I learned about Richard Gere's B&B in Bedford.  And Michael Steinhardt's private animal sanctuary. And so much more.

I strive for information and it also helps me with my wardrobe.  I think Derek Blasberg would like all of this. Derek, I will blog about you another time.  You are *the best.*  I heart Derek, even though we haven't met in person.

But check out this awesome LV ad:

The see-through bag reminds me of what all the women have to carry when they work in the department stores.  A total upgrade for Bloomie's employees.  And the ice cream shop chairs:  Oh, how Peppermint Park (which I hope to blog about another time).  It was an end of a Manhattan era when they shut them down.  Derek, ask some of your friends who grew up in and around Manhattan.  They will tell you how much they loved Peppermint Park.  And, nary a good reminiscence online.

Factors got some style and class.


This is their newest ad in V Magazine.

I am grateful to be literate.

My New "V" Magazine Arrived Today

If you look carefully, you can see the mini Tootsie Roll on resting to the right of and just below Justin's left shoulder (to orient yourself, put yourself in Justin's that's a tough one, but c'mon, you can do it). 

And that is why I love V.

They placed one Tootsie Roll right in front of him.

Not a fan of his work, but if that ain't art, I don't know what is.

Alas, I couldn't imagine that my favorite band is in this issue, despite that they sell out New Years at MSG year after year after golden grand year.

And that is all good with me.

Don't Be Shy If You Want World Unity

I'm getting back onto my Harold and Maude kick lately.  I don't care what is out there about Cat Stevens from the past.  I don't care about the current politics.  What is in a name, anyway.  Break down the barriers and just have lots of love, love, love.  Yusuf Islam still believes the same message:  peace.  We'll get there.


There is much to be learned from Ruth Gordon's character in Harold and Maude. And we have Cat to thanks for writing those words.


 So, go ahead, do some cartwheels and have lots of fun.

I'm going to the gym.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mama Tip #6: Fun Snacks and The Original Fun Healthy Snacks

I know it's been done, but here is how easy it is to make a healthy snack fun and a fun snack healthy.

The Wolfman's Brother enjoying:  2 dried plums, 2 sugar cookies, 3 veggie straws, 4 chocolate chips, 10 almond slivers.  Dill will surely not get eaten.  I know, I need more fresh options but at least the dried plums are a good start.

In 4th Grade my classmate Jason brought in this cookbook and demonstrated the recipe for the vegetable monsters.  It was a lot of fun.  Mother subsequently purchased for me, during Cook Book Book Report Month.  My friend, the author and cartoonist Marc Tyler Nobleman always loved that I had this book on my shelf, as he is a super hero all-knowing guru.

Very early adopters of healthy eating guidelines in the early 80s, this book's messages of  healthy eating stayed with me throughout my childhood.  I believe this is out of print but you can currently get it on Amazon for $75.00

I actually ended up taking Dr. Joan Gussow's course on Nutritional Ecology at Teacher's College of Columbia University.  I recently wrote her a note thanking her for her work.  I mentioned this book and how much it meant to me.  Dr. Gussow didn't remember me, but that didn't matter.  She is a trailblazer when it comes to healthy eating.  For her I have the highest regard.

Yeah, some locally-sourced fruits would have been a good addition to the Wolfman Brother's snack.

At least he had organic milk for those cookies.

Mama Tip #5: Buy Laundry Detergent When it is On Sale at the Grocery Store or Pharmacy

I admit I love the convenience of Costco just like anyone else, and I have gotten used to purchasing my laundry detergent there.

But like my mom has always told me, buying Arm & Hammer detergent when on sale for $1.99 per bottle is the best buy out there.

Easy for you to say, mom, since you are in the suburbs.
Not so easy for the urban mama.

on sale at $1.99 per 50 ounces, this is the best buy for  laundry detergent!

If Tide Ultra at Costco is $14.29 for 50 ounces, who cares if what is on sale is not the same brand!  This is a no-brainer, and one need not be so brand-loyal when it comes to laundry detergent.

Plus, due to skin sensitivities, we only use Fragrance Free.

Yes, you can and should use Fragrance Free for babies.
Forget about Dreft (I know, you like the smell, but it isn't good for the baby's skin.  Trust me).

So, if you find yourself in the suburbs, get to an A&P or SuperFresh or Waldbaum's or Food Emporium where you might find, as I did, a great deal.

Limit of 3.

I think I will go back tomorrow for some more Via Roma Marinara sauce and get more detergent.

Mama Tip #4: The Wipeable Plastic Placemat

You might be thinking, "um, Loony?  That is a no-brainer."

But it wasn't to me when I first had children.  It sort of evolved after seeing more and more friends who had these.

Initially I was totally jazzed with the educational placemats.  You can get them at any good independent toy store or brainy toy-type store.  Or online our cousins Ellen and Ken Levinsohn's Learning Express store in Bedford and Scarsdale, NY.

However, at $3.99 each, after about 6 months of getting junky and moldy, it is simply another disposable expense.  But they are indeed educational and even I have learned more about the United States Presidents than I did in Ms. Gibson's A.P. US History class in 11th grade.

Our table with the learning placemat.  It offers a great opportunity to learn!

IKEA has their own version of the plastic placemat, which at $2.99 for 4 is truly the frugal way to go.  It is also a totally cool design.

Our table with the IKEA placemats.  It offers great design and looks so pretty!

I am having a feng-shui moment of confusion.
Do I keep the somewhat junked-up ones, but my children will still learn?
do I get rid of them and use the more trendy IKEA ones, and my children will just be looking at birds, without a lot of educational enrichment.

For the sake of feng-shui, I am choosing to purge.
Old learning placemats are getting put in the giveaway bag.  Some other child whose parents didn't or couldn't spend the $3.99 per placemat are now going to benefit.

Plus, the IKEA ones take up less space on the table, fulfilling a true minimalist's dream.

My budding scientists or historians will just have to suffer.

Phood Tip #2: The Best Jarred Marinara Sauce for the Money

My family has been eating the private label jarred marinara sauce produced by On Point for years.  Initially it was produced under the label Master's Choice and we bought it at the Food Emporium, A&P,and Waldbaum's.  All the flavors were delicious:  Four Cheese, Bolognese, Tomato Basil, Marinara to name a few.  All natural ingredients, made with olive oil, no additives or hidden spices.  Always the best price for the homemade-quality taste when compared to the specialty brands like Rao's, Patsy's and the like.  Also, they were all Kosher.  Even the Bolognese was OU-Glatt.

No longer Master's Choice, the sauce is now marketed under the more attractive label of Via Roma.  This is still the private label for A&P, and mama mia are they doing a good thing!

For the Kosher folks out there, only the Marinara is certified Kosher parve.  (Please, bring back the other flavors!  You are very good for the kosher world!).  This is the best quality, best tasting, best priced jarred Parve sauce any Kosher consumer will ever have.  It is a necessity for Friday night sweet & sour meatballs.  I recently tried substituting ketchup, and my kinderlach could taste the difference.

For everyone else:  try out all the flavors and see what you like best.

Via Roma Marinara Sauce, $3.99 per jar, currently on sale for $2.49 at my local SuperFresh, Certified Kosher by the Orthodox Union (the O-U)

At $3.99 a jar, this is the best homemade-tasting sauce for your buck.

It is made locally in Pennsylvania, too!

Currently it is on sale at SuperFresh (also an A&P affiliate) for $2.49 a jar, no limit.

My sister Reba dismisses this sauce, as she is more of a food purist and immersion-blends a can of san marzano tomatoes as her sauce, but she doesn't have children yet, and so I wonder if she will start relying more on the convenience foods that most families use when God-willing she has children of her own.  But, I hear her.  And, she remembers the glory days of when this was part of her after-school snack atop a piece of vegetarian schnitzel (aka tivall in Israel) with melted cheese on top.

The Marinara is higher in fat than the others at 6g per serving, but the Tomato Basil is lower and similarly tasty.


And, if this type of stuff matters to you, for further info on the company, read this recent Forbes article on A&P's CEO.

Mama Tip #3: Great $20 Birthday Gift Idea for Kayla or Oliver

Our new Wild Animal Baby arrived today, published by the National Wildlife Federation.

This is a good publication for early childhood, but they have others for older ages:  Ranger Rick and Your Big Backyard.

I know what you're thinking:  It takes advance planning, and I need to bring a wrapped gift to the party.

Yes, that is sort of true.  The child will not receive this magazine the day of.

However, you can order the magazine online at the last minute, wrap up (better yet, place in a regifted gift-bag from your bag of bags) a nature-themed toy or goody bag prize that has lost its way in your home, write up a mock-certificate that they are to receive a subscription to this magazine and call it a day!

Who needs more toys in their house?

Only snag is that you will continue to receive the renewal for this gift at which point you say:  let Kayla or Oliver's parents figure that one out!

However, a potential bonus is if you order during one of their promotions, you will get the free gift, not the gift recipient.  That means one more pair of binoculars for your child.

Parents will so appreciate it, you get the credit for giving a useful, thoughtful gift without creating more garbage in the house, and everyone will now know the difference between a macaw and a manatee.

Order here    (and, no, I am not currently receiving financial support from anyone, be it a company or individual, as it relates to the Whole Phamily.  The products I am endorsing are those I believe in.)

Phood Tip #1: What Every Balabusta Needs; Or, The Best Martha Stewart Soup Suggestion Out There

For those of us who cook meat-based soups, we know that plentiful bones are essential for optimum, full-bodied flavor.  No bouillons, no cans of stock, no boxed soups masquerading as more healthful stock options.  Just lots and lots of bones that enable the stock to achieve its sublime rich taste.   But it gets pretty tedious when the time arrives and you have to remove all of those bones and cartilage.  I have tried many methods to get a nice golden, stuff-free broth:  cheesecloth, collander, and removal piece-by-tiny piece.

I present to you the product that brings the preparation of chicken soup to a new level for the balabusta  (female head of household who does the cooking but you can be a balabus too, I am all good with that).  The trick:   I have seen it only in the kosher supermarkets.  Oh, the products they invent for the woman who  juggles numerous children, work, and communal commitments!  With cooking for shabbes weekly (which, let's face it, is Thanksgiving every week), these bags are truly manna from the heavens.

It is so under-the-radar here in Philadelphia that even our kosher supermarket manager was unfamiliar with them, despite that they were sitting on his shelves.

I use one bag for two packages of chicken bones and an extra chicken thigh thrown in there for some extra meat.  The holes in the bag allow the soup to cook thoroughly.  They stretch a lot so you can fit in more than you think when you first look at it.  I put my vegetables directly into the pot, but these work well for the various herbs and other vegetables like onion that you might not want floating around in the pot.  For those of you concerned with the issue of borer (a Jewish law forbidding separation on shabbat), since some of the good soup is being taken away with the thing you don't want in the soup, I can't see why there would be an issue  (note:  I am not an authority on Jewish law).

Though they don't list them on their website, Rockland Kosher for sure carries them, most likely from 2 or 3 different companies.
Give 'em a call and see if they'll send you a case.
Better yet, take a trip to Monsey and get thineself to the supermarket of kosher supermarkets.

Just make sure you dress appropriately.

Monday, January 16, 2012

You've Got a Friend...James Taylor or Not

If you went to summer camp, likely you sang "You've Got a Friend," arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, tears eventually rolling down your cheeks.

I haven't heard it in a long time or thought of it, but along comes this nice cover by Nigel Hall  and friends from last week's JamCruise.  This talented musician is friends with my friend The Coach.  Actually I think I will call him Big Josh from now on, since that is how he referred to himself in another recent online post.  Ok, Big Josh?

Jump to start around 2:00

Remember the Neville Brothers?  At least one of these musicians, Ivan Neville, is related.

My friend Lisa and I did a cover of this song during our teen tour at a make-your-own-cassette-tape kiosk on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco and called ourselves, tongue-in-cheek, The Japettes.  Lisa is a good friend to this day and very much *not* that derogatory cultural stereotype.

Here we are, me wearing my Vuarnets, those very 80s preppy sunglasses I referred to in this recent post. when I mentioned the song "Prep School Hippie."

Prophecy in Our Day

That Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke these words the day before he was assassinated tells me one thing:

He was a Righteous Gentile and a True Prophet, in the larger world picture.


This is one step closer to the true messianic redemption.

The security guard at my kinderlach's school said something I have heard numerous times before:  that he knew the end was near for him.  What a wise, wise, wise man who did greatness for the people of the United States.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I Am Jewish by Andrew Lustig

This comes from my mom's Syracuse Facebook friend...


Start at 1:00b to get past the intro.

My mom isn't such a big fan of when Andrew says "I'm the $100 challah cover that you'll never use."

Mom:  "What does that mean?  Why don't you use your challah cover?  At least put it in a frame."

Yep, that's right, go to 1:43 and this fellow Jew is also, "going to all 3 Phish shows this weekend."

Andrew:  you do know that there were 4 Phish shows over New Years, right?  I imagine you said that because you didn't go to the one on Friday night.  But, then, why weren't you using your challah cover?

Marcel the Shell or Marcellus Shale? It Would Be My Pleasure.

A new friend suggested the sound-alike connection between Marcellus Shale (I do *not* support Fracking) and a very cute child-friendly YouTube video Marcel the Shell With Shoes On.

Your children will like.

At 1:40:

Marcel:  "Guess what I use as a pen?
Film Guy:  "What?"
Marcel:   "I use the pen but it takes the whole phamily."

 Marcel the Shell is such a great way to turn lemons into lemonade.

  No Fracking!