Nanny in NYC

A modern day Mary Poppins

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Please the Men and the Muchkins Too!

So, it probably won't surprise you much to find out that I'm an avid Martha Stewart reader, perhaps I've even mentioned it before, I will be a loyal consumer of her products pretty much no matter what she's indicted for. This past month's magazine had a very simple granita recipe (although, now that I know something about granitas, it could have been much simpler) in the Good Things section, and it has set off a minor revolution in my summer cooking patterns. They're amazingly easy! Plus they make you feel like you're not only cooking, but also doing some grand kind of science experiment in your own freezer. I cannot praise the whole concept of the granita enough.

I don't want to make gross generalizations about the city I live in, but for the most part we're a city of foodies who don't cook. We care about the quality of our food, but rarely have the time or inclination to make it ourselves. That's why I always like to think of the ritual of making a boy dinner as my own personal dating piece de resistance. Problem is that recently my routine has gotten a bit stale, and although I'd perfected some dishes and they work well for me, others just really didn't fit the bill, such as my standard first dinner desert, individual molten chocolate cakes ala Jean-Georges (as seen on Martha, of course). First of all, it's a winter dessert, which makes sense because I first made it in during a very cold January for my first ever "I'll make you dinner" event. Secondly, it's unnecessarily difficult for the end of what can be a stressful meal, and that's a time when you'll probably want to be focusing on your company instead of on cooking.

Thankfully, I have discovered the granita. After the kids and I made a yummy strawberry version I started thinking about how much the granita is like the water ice I grew up loving. I was surprised that it seems to be a NJ area treat that I can't find in NY. My favorite flavor of water ice is Root Beer, and the minute I thought about root beer water ice I knew I'd have to try a root beer granita. It's so easy! Hence, the Root Beer Granita Float is now my new "I'll make you dinner" dessert. It's so easy (enough to bear repeating), even easier than the epicurious recipe (no need to freeze for four hours, if your root beer is already cold & you're only making it for two, 40 minutes is all you really need as long as you agitate it every 10 minutes). But it looks very sophisticated, especially if you add the cookies, 'cause it's all about the details.

After just the float idea I was a granita devotee, but I managed to take things a whole step further this weekend when I invented the Mojito Granita (granted, now that I've done a little research, I realize that I'm not the first person to come up with this idea, but it was in fact an original idea on my part, so just because people have been doing this for decades, maybe centuries shouldn't detract from my own personal brilliance, right?). All you have to do is start out like you were making a regular mojito, first take
- two small handfuls of mint
- the juice of 2-3 limes
- 1/2 a cup of sugar
and muddle that together until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Then pour in a cold 1 liter bottle of club soda and strain the whole mixture. (You might be tempted to skip straining it because the mint will look pretty, but believe me, it browns super quick, it's best to take it out now and use a sprig as a garnish at the end.) Pour the liquid into the largest metal baking pan you have and put it in the freezer at least 2 hours in advance of when you want to start drinking. Give it about 30 minutes to set and then take a fork and scrape the sides and break up any big frozen pieces at least every 20 minutes. When the whole thing is frozen you're done. Take it out, spoon it generously into glasses and pour 1-2 oz. of rum over the granita. It's delicious!


Technorati Tags: , , Recipes, Cooking, Kids Cooking

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ladies: Evolution Favors Us (as if you didn't already know that)

Attractive parents are 36% more likely to produce female offspring than male. That is according to evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa who interviewed 2,972 randomly selected young adults who were parents in 2001 and 2002. Kanazawa is in no way surprised by the recent births of both Shiloh Jolie-Pitt and that other baby born into that cult.

The reason for this trend is simple, if you're Kanazawa, that is.
Because men value physical attractiveness more than women do when looking for a mate, good looks increase the reproductive success of daughters much more than that of sons.
And . . . it gets better:
His theory also suggests that, over time, women should have become more attractive than men. These data confirmed his hunch. More than half of all women in the sample -- 52 percent -- were rated as "attractive" or "very attractive," compared with 42 percent of the men.

This news doesn't seem to be getting many men down, however. Apparently, if it's ok that I'm judging based solely on the hysterically informative and delightfully oversexed blog of the Wilmer Valderrama of Scientists, they see this as a glass half full situation.


Technorati Tags: , , Sex, Parenting

Thursday Goodie Report

Luke and I have been taking a kind of Mommy and Me yoga class with Bernard, a little boy we met at one of the Battery Park playgrounds, and his mother. It's a great class and I've been enjoying the structure, because I'll blow off my own yoga class in a heartbeat, but it's hard to blow things off when you know you the consequences will be having to deal with a very disappointed little boy. The class is in Dumbo, an area of Brooklyn right across the Harbor from Lower Manhattan (Dumbo = Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). It's not the easiest part of Brooklyn to get to from Tribeca, but we've actually worked out a pretty cool schedule for Mondays and Wednesdays.


So twice a week Luke and I get on board the Water Taxi at the World Financial Center and take the 1/2 hour ride which does a little pirouette in front of the Statue of Liberty (I guess more tourists than commuters actually ride this thing) to the Fulton Ferry Landing in Dumbo. I find the ride a little on the icky side because we have to stay inside the boat and can't go outside to get a little air (there's a height restriction of 41 inches, I think). I don't get sea sick, per se, just a little queasy. Luke, on the other hand, can't get enough of the boats and the water and the novelty of not being on land anymore.


Dumbo has a ton of little jewels if you are in the market for goodies. (I'm going to have to devote a serious post to Jacques Torres sometime soon.) Today, however, Luke and I are obsessed with the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. It's in a cute little former fireboat house and if you've come to Dumbo via the Water Ferry, you really can't miss it because it's right there at the ferry slip. I've never tasted a better peach ice cream, and usually I don't love fruit flavored ice creams, but this one simply can't be missed.


I've read that all of the toppings served at the BICF are made by the pastry chef of The River Cafe, which is right next door. I just recently had dinner at The River Cafe and will have to post about that as well because it was a fabulous meal, perhaps the best I've had in my ten years of living in NYC. Luke and I didn't really indulge in any toppings, because usually we're ice cream purists, but now that we know who has a hand in making all the yummy looking sauces, we might just make an exception on Monday.


Technorati Tags: , , Dumbo

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Us and Our Shadows


There is this great piece of public art outside the Bubble Lounge on West Broadway, if you're nearby you should definitely check it out. It's made out of pixilated vinyl tiles and it simulates the actual tree's shadow. The kids really got a kick out of it, and I was just fascinated. It's beautiful to catch sight of as you walk up to the building Most people can't help but get down close to the ground to look and even touch the image on the ground and up the side of the wall.

Also, if you aren't carting around the younger set, Bubble Lounge is an excellent place to sip a little bubbly and feel very cosmopolitan as you peer out the window at the poor souls who are carting around the younger set and not sipping bubbly.


Technorati Tags: , , Downtown New York

Warning: Flatulence is Flammable

If you like funny things, milk, milk related humor, or life you must go and visit the listing for Tuscan Milk on Amazon. Maybe I'm late to the party on this one, and if that's true I'll accept my "You're so writing about last month's links" emails and comments with good grace. On the off chance, however, that I'm the first one to point these wonderfully ridiculous reviews out to you, I think you will not regret clicking & reading.

Oh, and for the record, Milk does do a body good, it's not all hype. (Except the lactose intolerant, and you know who you are.)



Technorati Tags: , , Humor,

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Only in New York

As a New Yorker who lived through both the day September 11, 2001 and the continuing aftermath, there are many new things that I have had to grow accustomed to. For the most part these changes have become just a part of daily life, something that I now almost take for granted, or don't notice much at all. Some of these things include police checking backpacks sporadically on the subway and showing my ID to gain access to the office buildings where my friends with "real jobs" work.

However, there are some things that I never, ever felt like I would get used to. One of those things was the presence of National Guard troops in places like Grand Central Station. I honestly believe that I, as an American citizen, should have the inalienable right to get my coffee, grab the paper, stroll through GCS on my way to work and NOT be accosted by a fully loaded massive machine gun that probably weighs more than the two-year-old I cart around all day. It's really weird, but when I see them I almost always feel suddenly guilty. It makes absolutely no sense. I think you will believe me when I tell you that I have never, ever, ever contemplated anything that could be considered (even by the most partisan, activist of judges) as a threat to National Security. And yet, when I see large contingents of heavily armed camouflaged men I suddenly feel like they're all looking for me, that they all know I've done something terribly wrong and that I deserve to be hauled off to some secret CIA Prison.

Needless to say, I've been very happy working in downtown New York precisely because of the lack of a large military presence. So, you can imagine my consternation when, on my way down to Rockefeller Park with Luke yesterday morning I encountered this:


Instantly my pulse rate went up. "What could possibly be wrong in the park?" I thought. Then I immediately wondered if they were on to me. I'd tossed my coffee cup into the trashcan on the subway platform carelessly this morning and it had hit the rim and bounced out. I was in a hurry and I didn't go back to pick it up. Was that a prosecutable offense? Did they suspect? Did they know?

But, as I steeled my nerve to continue on the path through the crowd of service men, I suddenly became a tiny bit suspicious myself. Several of the camouflaged men were smoking. An inordinate number of them were women. Several had sodas and were lounging on the park benches. And then, as I was still puzzling over the inconsistencies before me, I heard the strident, but still oddly musical tones of that particular affected, brazenly effeminate Chelsea accent. I am very proud to say that I managed, amid my own personal paranoia, to put all the pieces together before we rounded the corner and saw the craft service table.


So, does anyone know what kind of movie they could possibly be filming in our sweet little innocent park that would need such a large platoon of scary looking soldiers?



Technorati Tags: , , Movie Sets,

Monday, August 07, 2006

Coolest Person of the Month


This is a painting by the artist Nicole Buffett. She is 30 years old and lives and works in San Francisco. She spoke in June to Jennifer Luden on NPR's Morning Edition about, among other things, being a nanny and her love of working with children in various other capacities.


She is the granddaughter of billionaire Warren Buffett, and the interview was largely about money and the idea of inheritance. Warren Buffett and his late wife, Susan, are of the opinion that passing on dynastic wealth serves only to weaken one's children. When Buffett announced last month that he would be giving away 85% of his fortune (estimated to be about 42 billion) it was a major blow to the large and vocal groups in our government who believe that we should eliminate the estate tax because of the terrible burden it places on that poor & lamentable group: the wealthiest 1%.

The Buffetts sound like the coolest grandparents ever, at least from Nicole's description. Her late grandmother, especially, seemed to have had a great influence on her life. Below are her "Five Sayings", the most important things she wanted her grandchildren to remember:
1) Show up
2) Tell the truth
3) Pay attention
4) Do your best
5) Don't be attached to the outcome

(I have to admit, I don't really "get" number 5. If anyone cares to venture an explanation, I'd appreciate it.) Nicole credits Susan with the seed of inspiration that led to her husband's precedent setting philanthropic estate planning. Twenty years ago Fortune Magazine quoted Mr. Buffett as saying "that a very rich person should leave his kids enough to do anything but not enough to do nothing" and Nicole, it seems, is grateful for that philosophy.



Technorati Tags: , , Estate Tax,

Have I mentioned that I Heart Dooce?

One of the best parts of Dooce is her monthly newsletters to Leta (rhymes with Pita). This month was no exception. The following passage almost made me wet myself:
One afternoon last week your father and I took you to the grocery store, and while we were standing in the parking lot loading bags of food into the back of the car I set you down so I could help lift a jug of orange juice. After turning my head for only two seconds to look at the car I glanced back at you only to find that you had found a cigarette butt on the ground and had put it into your mouth. A discarded cigarette butt. Some mothers would be mortified, and I felt a little bit of that, but the strongest emotion I felt was gratitude. I was so glad that there wasn’t someone nearby taking photos because then I would have to explain why I let you smoke cigarettes. And the truth is pretty simple, really: We’re country. My Mama used to let me smoke cigarettes while I sat on her lap in the front seat of a moving vehicle. Many times she would accidentally hit a raccoon with the car, and we’d take it home and put it in the refrigerator. No big deal.
And for those of you, like my mother (I bet), who don't get the reference, I have only this to say: Watch more crap TV.



Technorati Tags: ,

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A Few Choice Words About "Obscenity"

I was Mommy-Blog browsing this evening and just found this article via Baby Powder. It was published on Friday, the same day that "Lactivists" staged a "nurse-in" on the A train here in NYC.

I'm not going to go on an all out rant about this because it's late and I don't have the energy, but I do not want to let this moment slip by without at least commenting on it. In the article (about the pictured Babytalk cover) women--GROWN WOMEN--used the following words to describe their feelings toward a woman nursing her child: shocked, offended, horrified, embarrassed, and others described the picture as "gross" and "disgusting". Something is wrong with a country where a network television channel can show a blood and semen spattered corpse in the 8-9pm timeslot but if they dared to show a woman nursing a child the FCC would come in with obscenity fines.

On Friday I almost wished that I was a lactator so that I could fly into lactivist mode. It is true that I hate the government telling women what to do with their breasts. But even so, these are the words I would pick to describe how I feel about women who think breastfeeding a child is obscene: amazing, outrageous, ridiculous, astounding, unconscionable, abominable, inconceivable, astonishing, incredible, unimaginable, odious, repugnant, rotten, unthinkable, implausible, preposterous, improbable, contemptible, despicable, inconceivable, unbelievable, incredible . . .



Technorati Tags: , , Indecency ,

Best Trick Ever!

I'm a big walker. I always have been, according to my parents (who are relatively truthful people). I can walk for hours on the weekend, and usually do, just aimlessly wandering through the farmer's market and making my way down through various neighborhoods, popping in and out of shops at my whim. It's the best and most consistent exercise I get.

This weekend was no exception to the walking rule, in fact in some ways I overdid it a bit (but in that nice no-pain-no-gain way). I did, however get off to a bad start on Friday evening because of my own stupid vanity and a VTB (very tall boy). I'm a dedicated flat-wearer. I don't own a pair of heels--with the exception of some fall boots, but I don't count them as their big and sturdy and don't make me feel as if I'm tottering around like a twelve-year-old playing dress up in her mommy's closet. But I did, however, recently pick up a pair of comfortable looking wedges to give me a bit of a boost. For the most part they are comfortable, but breaking in any new pair of shoes can be difficult. We went for a leisurely stroll through the village to gawk at real estate we'll never be able to afford (although, perhaps I shouldn't jinx either of us in that way, 'cause who knows?) and I got two pretty decent sized & painful blisters.

The next day I didn't make the situation any better by heading off on a long walk through prospect park. Even though I'd brought bandaids they didn't help because within 10 minutes of putting one on I'd suddenly look down to see it mysteriously gone or just hanging by one little sticky fraction of an inch, leaving my poor blister exposed to agonizing friction.

That is when I had an Eureka! moment. I realized that the pain came from the rubbing of leather strap against irritated skin and the point of a bandaid was to put a barrier between the two. I was all out of bandaids at that point, but what I did have (and almost always do have with me at all times) was a little tube of Vaseline Lip Therapy (better than any chapstick that exists, in my opinion). I smeared a little vaseline on the blister and viola! no more painful friction. It worked like a charm, and I bet any kind of lip gloss would work just as well. Of course there are some limitations to the possible uses of this trick (and yes, this post's title is a bit of an exaggeration) but I couldn't have been more tickled at my own problem-solving genius. We all need days like that from time to time.




Technorati Tags: , , Walking,

Friday, August 04, 2006

You Are How You camped

Here is a great article about kid's reactions to camp and what that can (perhaps, maybe) predict about their personalities in adulthood. I liked it a lot, that is, until I came to this paragraph:
Some people really, really enjoy camp. I wish I could tell you that these people grow up to be really, really normal, but they don't. You know who I'm talking about. These are the ones who wept uncontrollably when the papiermache numbers spelling out 1967 were set ablaze on a little raft that a camp counselor, under cover of darkness, towed stealthily to the middle of Lake Weecheewachee on the evening of the last group sing. These are the people for whom childhood represented the zenith of human existence and everything that followed an anticlimax. The women--they're mostly women--usually end up in abusive relationships with pathologically angry men who eventually abandon them and pay child support erratically, if at all. If the person who really, really enjoyed camp is a man, then he is unlikely ever to develop an intimate relationship and on occasion may be spotted in the back of a police cruiser speeding away from a grade-school playground.

Yes, that was me, the uncontrollable weeper, although it wasn't 1967 on fire, of course.

For the record, I've never been in an abusive relationship (well, at least not physically abusive, but everyone's a little emotionally abusive from time to time, right?). And, other than the excerpted section, the article is a funny must-read.




Technorati Tags: , , Childhood,

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Weekend Update --or-- City Chick in the Country

So why am I doing a weekend update on a Thursday, you ask? Simple: I'm ridiculously lazy.

I was visiting my country cousins this weekend (a gross misrepresentation of the facts, as the actual cousin I was visiting actually lives in Boston, and my aunt & uncle's town can hardly be called "the country", but I'm attempting to establish a theme) and we paid a visit to the local 4H Fair. The only other 4H Fairs I've attended were in Ohio when I was pretty young, so this was a rather fresh experience for me. The day was unbearably hot (as all the days apparently are going to be for a while now) so that put a bit of a damper on the experience, but all in all it was fun and definitely a step out of my ordinary weekend routine.

One of my favorite booths had an incubator with newly hatched and hatching chicks. I remember having eggs/chicks in my 2nd or 3rd grade classroom, but somehow in that time I'd forgotten how long it take those little guys to escape from their shells. We were at the fair for several hours and the ones who'd just started to break free when we came in were still at it when we left.


Two other things that I really loved seeing were the equestrian events and the huge rabbit displays, but oddly I took no pictures of either the horses or the bunnies. I guess sometimes when you're enjoying yourself you forget to stop and document yourself. Oh well.

My mother's favorite event were the Pig Races. I'd heard about a company similar to the one at the Fair on NPR, so I was pretty interested in seeing them as well, Frankly, who doesn't love a pig race?


After the piggies raced there were white and black duck races (I'm not sure why they segregated them). I almost enjoyed them more because of the cute way the ducks waddled. All the animals involved were really eager to get to the finish line, it made me wonder if they're drug addicted farm animals just looking desperately for their next fix. I tried to dismiss this thought.


The cutest animals, in my opinion, were these two kids (as in baby goats). They looked so soft, but sadly I never got to pet them. There was a mob of children in front of their pen and I couldn't quite bring myself to push through them to get at the kids. Sometimes I hate maturity.

We also saw a Wilbur look-alike who was in fact Some Pig (oh, ok, he was pretty much just a pig, but he won a blue ribbon, so there's got to be something special about him).


The food was standard fair-fare, but I had a yummy Peach Cider Slushy on our way out that made getting into the car that had baked out in a field for several hours a tad bit bearable.



Technorati Tags: , , Pig Races,

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Change is Inevitable

The month of August will be a time of big changes for this little blog, they've already begun and we're only in day two. The blog formerly known as Nanny in New York is now Nanny in NYC. I know, this is such an earth shattering development that it's taking you a while to wrap your head around the concept, right?

The reason for the change is simple: some [exploitive deleted] guy claimed the domain nannyinnewyork.com. It really got me very upset. I was busy procrastinating over whether to make the change or not, taking my own good time, assuming that since it was available two weeks ago it would remain available until I chose to act. And then this [exploitive deleted] guy sweeps in and steals it from me! The nerve of him. And I bet you that he's not even a nanny.

I visited the site to see what it's being used for and found it's just one of those advertising redirect sites. There was a link, however, to an email address that said "Buy this domain!" So, I sent an email and set in motion the following chain of communication:


ME:

Hi!
I'd like to buy this domain name.
Thanks,
Annie


[ED] GUY:

If you can pay by today using PayPal I'd be willing to let it go for $7500. I'd also entertain other offers.
Thanks,
[exploitive deleted] Guy


ME:

I'd be willing to pay about $40, seeing as how yesterday it would have cost me about $2.
Thanks,
Annie


[ED] GUY:

I could do $6000, but this site gets tons of traffic, so I wouldn't sell it for less.
Thanks,
[expletive deleted] Guy


ME:

Then you are welcome to it!
Thanks,
Annie


So, I've cut my losses, and I'm feeling pretty good about being Nanny in NYC, it's got a nice ring to it. This time I did no dawdling & I actually posses the domain (feel free to change your links, bookmarks, etc. to nannyinnyc.com). It's a nice feeling and I'm actually making progress toward my liberation from Blogger.

Check back tomorrow for the beginning of polling for my header photos. I hope you can all contain your overwhelming excitement until that time!



Technorati Tags: , , Domain Names,

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Bloodshed

Last Thursday was the birthday of the author Cormac McCarthy. It's not an event I would have noted, in this forum or elsewhere, were it not for the fact that I heard the following quote from Mr. McCarthy on a day when I was contemplating the both the concept of conflict and the reality of the violence it can cause.
There's no such thing as life without bloodshed. I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous.

I will not even begin to address what Mr. McCarthy might have to say about the current conflicts in the Middle East. I never really intend to get much more political than, perhaps, pointing out Steven Colbert pointing out the little girl giving President Bush the finger. My thoughts were more about an issue much closer to home: sibling rivalry.


I have two younger sisters and we still fight like, well, sisters. When we were younger the intensity of the fighting was much stronger, of course, now the fights are really just vestiges of old conflicts. I doubt that either of them would ever put the other's hand through a plate glass window ever again.

These days it's Jill and Sam who's rivalry takes up much of my thoughts. The fight like cats and dogs, like Tom and Jerry, like Punch and Judy, or whatever other fighting duo you'd like to add to this list. The thing is, they're great friends when they aren't fighting. They can play with each other for hours at a time in peace and harmony. But those happy times have absolutely no bearing on how they behave the moment one gets angry with the other. In fact, it seems to me that the nicer they've behaved prior to fighting the more nasty and heated the battles that follow will be.

As much as I wish I didn't have to deal with the screaming, crying and inevitable injuries that come of Jill and Sam's fighting, I do believe that it serves a major purpose for both of them. Am I a better person because I fought with my sisters? I kind of think so. If nothing else, my sisters are responsible for eliciting in me the most violent, homicidal rages of my lifetime. I suppose that in and of itself isn't much of a service, but they also taught me to control that rage, and that's invaluable.

Mr. McCarthy, I think, is correct that life without conflict does not exist (I happen to try to live mine without bloodshed, but I've inflicted a couple of gaping wounds in my time, so I can't argue with his point very effectively). As much as I hate listening to the sounds of the G. children learning to control the rages of violence that every human is afflicted with, I think they're learning lessons that every person MUST if we wish to live in a relatively bloodshed-free world.



Technorati Tags: , , Family Dynamics, , , ,