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It’s likely that I’m snorkeling off the shore of some Caribbean island right now. So to stave off any jealousy or daggers thrown in my general direction, let’s pretend that we’re still in New York contending with Month 5 of sleet and snow.

Though the temps may have been lower than hoped this spring, it hasn’t stopped us from getting out and exploring the city on foot.

Emma was off on Spring Break last week, a full week earlier than the other kids. And since we’re traveling this week, she gets to skip a full week of school. Translation: that is SO NOT fair MOM.

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I told Lauren that it wasn’t fair that she was born first and had my complete attention for the first two years of her life. And that she’ll get her driver’s license first. AKA zip it.

So back to last week. Emma knows not to broadcast what actually took place since it was nothing short of incredible.

Monday took this form: lunch–chocolate store–Sephora–nails. 

We took a breather on Tuesday, just enough rest to recharge the batteries and prepare our feet for another day of walking.

On Wednesday we spent the day on the Lower East Side doing the following:

Park visit:

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As if Monday’s visit to Lilac Chocolates didn’t provide us with enough sweets, we were determined to visit Economy Candy.

We headed off on Rivington and quickly realized that we were heading in the wrong direction. But in one of those fortuitous twists of fate, we ended up at the tip of the alley that leads down to Freemans Restaurant.

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I’ve been called a lot of names in my life. A favorite, from middle school, was “Fur”. Fortunately it had nothing to do with body hair; it was a shortened version of my last name which was deemed unpronounceable. Which is all well and good until your boyfriend starts referring to you as “Furburger”.

Back in the bling bling days of the early aughts, when J.Lo and Ben Affleck were doing their horizontal yacht thing in rap videos, I earned the slightly more palatable nickname at work: J.Fo.

As in “what’s going on in that tiny cube J.Fo?”

(that would be the cube with no windows, two computer monitors and a headset).

“Nothing much, just planning my exit strategy from this sweatshop and the name isn’t helping.”

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That conversation didn’t happen but my, did I fantasize.

In one of my first blog posts I referenced one of my earlier, husband-assigned nicknames: the “pocket wife”. Both of us are at fault for our size difference; him with his ceiling-grazing stature, me with my child-sized clothing.

However, if we’re really going to get into it, one of us came this close to receiving college scholarship funding from the [blank] club of America. Size discrimination is real. I’m not saying who it was, but here’s a hint: this person never went by the name of “Fur”.

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All roads lead to Foragers Market….

Or so the story goes, at least in my world where a humble little grocery store went into an abandoned art space on the corner of 8th Avenue and 22nd street in Chelsea and changed my world forever.

Maybe I’m being overly dramatic, but really, this place….my love for it runs deep.

Although it’s only been in the neighborhood for a few years, I can hardly remember a time when I didn’t shop there once (if not twice) a day.

It’s my primary destination for produce, bread, yogurt, heritage pork shops and all manner of fancy cheese. Dram Apothecary bitters, Jacobsen salt, Mina harissa, they’ve got it all. Name the latest chef obsession, and you’re just about guaranteed to find it there. They even sell kombucha on tap. (can you sense my silent tear of gratitude?)

The icing on the cake is that the back seating area morphs into one of the best and most affordably-priced restaurants in the city for weeknight dinners and weekend brunches. Chef Nickolas Martinez trained under Alain Ducasse and Joel Robuchon and sources his ingredients from Foragers’ own farm in Upstate New York. That single tear of gratitude occasionally turns into a stream.

A benefit of having a store like Foragers in the neighborhood is that I’ve gotten to build relationships with some of the food makers themselves. Like microgreen grower Good Water Farms in Long Island, who I’ll talk more about in tomorrow’s post. And Siggi’s, one of the fastest growing yogurt brands in the US. One bite of their skyr (Icelandic strained yogurt) and you’ll never want to eat any other yogurt again.

At least according to yours truly. And my Dad, who ate a spoonful and promptly grabbed the container to inspect every inch of the packaging.

I was visiting Foragers Market in late November when I bumped into Yasaman Vojdani, co-founder of Oat My Goodness Craft Granola.

Yasaman was providing samples for her three lines of granola, and it was pure chance that I stopped to give them a try. I’ve always shied away from buying pre-packaged granola because previous versions have tasted dusty and old. Chewy when they should be crunchy. The flavors, meh. If I want crunchy flavorful granola packed with interesting ingredients, I’ll make it at home.

I politely declined her offer, and was about to move on when Yasaman urged me to try the Sunrise variety – “it has orange, coffee, mango and macadamia nuts”.

Hmmm. That does sound good. And odd flavor combinations are my Achilles heel; I squinted at the packaging, agreed to try it, and the rest is history. I’ve become the unlikeliest of granola promoters but it’s hard for me not to start my day with this kind of food.

It was my passion for their product that led to an organic relationship between the two of us: me, in the role of chief consumer (and photographer), and them as an upstart brand, building a business and taking the artisanal food market by storm. I signed on to develop a portfolio of Oat My Goodness product photography, and have been playing with granola ever since. I’ve baked with it, I’ve layered parfaits, I’ve even roasted fruit to accompany it. The best part? There is more to come. It’s the kind of work that breakfast dreams are made of.

I wanted to share some images from the past few months. I’ve never known the versatility of granola until this year, and it’s my hope that you’ll likewise be encouraged to play around with it as well.

You can find Oat My Goodness craft granola in several states or through their website. They sell it, of course, at Foragers Market, where you’re likely to spot me lurking by the refrigerated case, investigating the latest shipment of farm-fresh eggs.

And if you can’t get your hands on this particular brand of granola, I’ve got a recipe for butter pecan granola that you can use in a pinch.

If you’re interested in finding the recipes for the dishes below, check them out on the Oat My Goodness website. I’ve also copied the recipe for the granola chocolate chunk cookies below. They’re truly the best cookies I’ve ever made. Enjoy!

Sunrise:

Orange, coffee, mango and macadamia nuts

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It’s December 29, just a few short days before New Year’s Eve. I’m spent from this holiday. In a good way…but suffering from that specific type of exhaustion that comes from raising young kids.

Today was more of the usual: we made breakfast, we cleaned. I cleaned. We got dressed for skiing. We drove to the ski resort where the green Magic Carpet still isn’t open. I walked their skis up the bunny hill. I chased them down. I yelled “pizza not French fries! Don’t forget the pizza!” They prefer French fries. Skis railroaded, out of control, heading towards netting, SLOW signs and other beginners. Nobody was injured, at least not today.

I drove back home. They took naps while I dreamt that one day, I might be able to take one of those again.

I went grocery shopping. We made sandwiches for dinner. Sam no longer likes avocado. Emma no longer likes crusts. Fortunately she doesn’t ask me to cut them. She just rips them off her sandwich and scatters them onto the floor. Crusts no longer interest Jackson either. He sits and waits for the high-ticket items: the dropped turkey slice; the leftover cheese.

And me? I’m biding my time until 8:30PM when I can give the kids a nuzzle, tuck them in, fix myself a warm milk & Bailey’s and relax in bed with a good read. I have so many photos to share from the holidays, but I’m saving them until next week. Next week, life gets back on track, work resumes, the kids are back at school, and I can ease myself back into the business of blogging. With some exciting new directions for this space, so stay tuned.

Until then, I wanted to share with you some images that I took a few weeks ago at the launch party for the new Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York. I was covering social media that evening for Tarallucci e Vino, the museum’s new restaurant, so the images are iphone only, but still give a sense for the space. The new Cooper Hewitt Museum is housed in the old Carnegie mansion, built in 1899. The juxtaposition of old and new design is omnipresent, and highlighted by the modern Tarallucci e Vino café, which sits on the ground floor of the Museum.

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I got an email a few years ago from a friend who lives in Philly. She’d bought group tickets to see the Rockettes in New York City in December and one of the families had to pull out due to illness. She had a few extra tickets, would I care to join?

At that point, the only kid in the house was Lauren, age 1 year 11 months. It was a questionable move to bring a young toddler to a full-length performance, but I thought that she might be able to hack it. This, after all, was the child who could stare at a feather for 10 minutes straight, no doubt investigating its detailed ridges, contours and variegated colors.

We accepted the offer, and off we went, Lauren dressed in her best outfit – a mini dress and corresponding pair of faux Ugg boots. There might have been a hair flower (aka a barette) to finish the outfit; branding that way used to be the only way to a hair clip into that strawberry blonde fluff.

Hard to believe that we’ve been to the show for 6 years running. It’s become our annual tradition, which we celebrate in honor of Lauren’s birthday in December. For the first 4 years it was just the two of us. Last year we invited Sam, who’d just turned 4. Sam was devastated that we wouldn’t buy the $20 light-up whirling dervish sold in the lobby and could barely concentrate on the show without streaming tears of frustration. That was his last invitation. He was subsequently disinvited from watching Annie on Broadway, replaced by his 2-year-old sister, who was more than happy to swap in. Maybe he’ll get another Rockettes invite down the road, but first I need to get over the trauma, and I haven’t quite healed.

For now, I’m keeping the show sacred for those who will appreciate it. This year, it was Lauren’s best friend from school. Their personalities are aligned all the way down to their matching dimples.

Lauren was so excited for the show that she picked out her outfit the night before, and spent the morning decorating the apartment…

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The kids made Lauren cards….

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And we finished decorating our mini tree. With two weeks of active tree time before we head to the lake, it wasn’t worth it to haul in a beast.

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(hi!)

We headed up to the show, our first stop Rock Center to see the world famous tree…

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