Date Night: Dinner & A Movie

date-night-03.jpgI have to say that the one thing I really have enjoyed this holiday season was the chance to go out on a date with my husband in the middle of the week. While we typically set aside Saturday nights as our official date night, scrambling for a sitter so that we can go out with friends to dinner, we usually abandon the thought of heading out in the middle of the week for a movie, some conversation and a scrumptious meal.
Well, lucky for us, this week, both our kids had sleepovers on the same night so we decided to go out in style. My husband selected the movie and I chose the restaurant and we decided too see the film first and then grab a bite afterwards. And so, on a Tuesday night, which incidentally is a great option for couples who own Optimum Rewards cards (they have free movies on Tuesdays), we went to see “The Fighter,” starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale and then hit Arrosto, an amazing new Italian restaurant in Port Chester, NY that my good friend, Jeanne Muchnick, who is also the managing editor of Project You had been raving about.
So if you’re experiencing a bit of a rut on the homefront, start dating (each other) again. Nothing helps the two of us reconnect better after we’ve seen a great movie, enjoyed some wine, delicious appetizers (the sheeps milk ricotta cheese dipped in honey was off the hook) and great conversation. In fact, I cracked so many one liners during our dinner that my hubby remarked that I’ve gotten really funny over the years. I don’t know what to make of that comment considering I’ve always considered myself quite humorous, but it didn’t matter. I’m just happy to report that after 14 years, we still enjoy each other’s company, complete each others sentences and realize how much we truly love each other. Nothing like a date night to bring it all back home.

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider

P1050926.jpgThere are few items one can make when snowed in, but fortunately, this carrot soup is primarily made with staples from the fridge and pantry. Great with a hot, fresh bread.
Creamy Carrot Soup:
2 cups steamed carrots
1 quart veg. broth
one chopped onion
1 TBS butter plus one tsp
1/4 cup skim milk
1 TBS flour
1/2 tsp salt
ground pepper to taste
In a soup pot, heat up TBS butter and add chopped onion. Cook and stir until translucent, 5-10 minutes.
Add one tsp butter and flour and whisk together with the onions until coated.
Add the vegetable broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the steamed carrots, milk, salt and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Puree with a blender or immersion blender, add groun pepper to taste and serve.
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.

Stopping in Snow or Ice

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skidding_pic2.jpgThe other night, we were driving home from seeing “Gulliver’s Travels” and the roads were downright treacherous. In fact, when we had to climb an incredibly steep hill, the car started swerving to the right and left and I gripped the door handle in fright. Of course, the kids had no clue anything was going on as my husband drove about 7 miles an hour. Thankfully, we made it home but after watching a segment on “The Today” show this morning, I thought it would be helpful to share their tips on how to stay safe while driving in the snow and ice. Plus, I’ve added a few tips of my own!
1. Do not speed when driving on snow and ice. I know that sounds pretty logical, but many people don’t realize how fast they’re going until it’s too late. According to “Today,” it’s four times harder to stop your car when you are attempting to brake on ice.
2. Do not try to brake and turn at the same time. You should do one or the other – otherwise, you could skid or spin out of of control.
3. If your car has anti-lock brakes, apply solid pressure on the brakes (don’t pump them) – that will enable the tires to keep rolling. If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, you can pump them.
4. Look where you want to go. Look torward the solution – not toward the problem. That means if you are skidding, turn the wheel where you want to go – not into the skid.
5. Put kitty litter under your tires before you leave – that actually gives you traction! (I knew that kitty litter was good for something).
6. Apply snow tires or snow chains on your car. Since we’ve already had our first major blizzard, better safe than sorry.
7. You can take a defensive driving class that will give you a refresher course on how to drive in inclement weather and taking the class might even help reduce your insurance rates.
8. If the conditions are too dangerous…DON’T DRIVE and use public transportation!
9. If you are not confident driving in the snow, select a more experienced designated driver who can drive your car.
10. If you are the parent of a new teen driver, DO NOT LET THEM DRIVE!!!

The Role Mommy Best of 2010

It’s been quite the year in books, entertainment and gadgets and so rather than compile a separate list for each, we’ve decided to come up with a top 10 of our favorite things for 2010. Take a look…
1. The iPad – Full disclosure on this one. I do not own an Apple iPad . However, it is the one product that I really, really, really want to buy. I do, however, own a Kindle and I read about 5 books on it until I forgot to keep charging it. Biggest mistake of 2010, not biting the bullet and buying an iPad. I am currently hoarding gift cards so that the sting won’t be as big when I finally do give in and place an order. I’m also hearing that a new iPad will be released in February or March so I may hold out another few months…maybe.
2. The Help – typically, over the course of a year I hear from several friends about the books I need to read and overwhelmingly, the consensus this year was “You must read The Help.” And so, I bought the book (before I got my Kindle) and took it on an eight hour plane ride and managed to finish it before the flight was over. And now, they’re making it into a movie that debuts in 2011. I’m so cutting edge.
3. Despicable Me – By far, Despicable Me (Minion Madness DVD Double Pack + Digital Copy)
was my kids’ favorite animated film of the year. Put Steve Carrell in any movie and you pretty much get our thumbs up, but this adorable film about a bad guy who has his heart melted by a pair of orphans had us laughing in the aisles. We also bought the DVD – a true measure of how much you love a film when you choose to have it in your DVD library.
4. Dancing with the Stars – Call me a cheese ball, but I have to say, since “Dirty Dancing” was one of my favorite movies of all time, I was thrilled to see Jennifer Grey win the silver disco ball. And to know that she had several back surgeries and is 50 years old and looks beyond amazing is reason enough for me to hit the nearest Weight Watchers center and start taking some salsa lessons stat.
5. XBox 360 Kinect – A game that recognizes you when you stand in front of it, takes pictures, and has you feeling like you are white water rafting, boxing, playing ping pong and more, without having to get confused by a remote control is sheer brilliance. If you haven’t ordered the Xbox 360 4GB Console with Kinect yet, then what are you waiting for?

6. Grandpa Fix-It and Movies under the Stars – Our first experience in 2010 with a movie under the stars took place on a Princess cruise ship for my dad’s 70th birthday (incidentally, we gave dad the ultimate birthday present when we published a children’s story he had written called “Grandpa Fixit.”) We wrapped ourselves in blankets, sat on lounge chairs and nibbled on popcorn as we watched one of my son’s favorite films “This Is It.” (He’s a huge Michael Jackson fan). Movies under the stars part II took place in our backyard when we decided to throw an outdoor movie party for my son’s 8th birthday and we watched “The Tooth Fairy” with about 30 kids. So much fun!!!!
7. Blueberries, blueberries, blueberries – The summer of 2010 was the summer of blueberries for me. The reason? While on vacation in Rhode Island, I discovered a fabulous new drink – a blueberry martini. Then, when we headed to Maine (which happens to be known for its blueberries and lobster of course), I sampled a blueberry mojito…delicious. And I hear since blueberries are good for you, it’s officially become my go-to ingredient for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
8. Visiting Riviera Nayarit, Mexico – Earlier in the year, I got the chance to travel to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and then spent the night in a two bedroom luxury suite at Villa La Estancia overlooking the pool and ocean. Did I mention our suite also had a state of the art kitchen, marble bathrooms and some of the best food I’ve eaten in years? I keep telling people that Villa La Estancia is like visiting a Four Seasons on steroids. And now, I keep reading that Riviera Nayarit is totally the place to be for vacationers. I love being in the know 🙂
9. Meeting and Interviewing Sharon Osbourne, Emma Thompson, Sigourney Weaver and more – I have to say, my favorite part of the year has been getting the opportunity to meet inspiring women who have achieved amazing things in their lives. And considering I’m an entertainment junkie, any time I’ve been invited to attend a junket, participate in an interview or roundtable luncheon with a major star has been the highlight of my year. Now that we’ve launched Project You Magazine, I’m determined to perfect my interview skills, pull a Barbara Walters and make someone cry.
10. Taking my mom and daughter to see Wicked on Mother’s Day – There’s nothing that quite compares to doing something incredibly special with your mom and this year, I decided to take her and my daughter to one of the best Broadway shows on the planet, “Wicked.” To this day, I still can’t get “Defying Gravity” and “Popular” out of my head and will probably go see it again in 2011 with my husband and son.
So there you have it…my top 10 of 2010. Comment now with your favorite memories of the year!

Meet the Littlest Fockers

Shari Von Holten at HaveUHeard sits down with the youngest stars of “Little Fockers”
LF_Kids.jpgAfter seeing “Little Fockers” and having quite a few laughs, I had the opportunity to meet the two youngest cast members, the Little Fockers themselves, Colin Baiocchi and Daisy Tahan.
Colin was very outgoing and a typical 7 year old boy, talking a mile a minute and very animated, while Daisy was a bit more on the reserved side and happy when she could sneak a word in when Colin wasn’t answering the bloggers questions.
Both Daisy and Colin loved working on the movie but for different reasons – Daisy enjoyed the craft services (the food), traveling and meeting new people while Colin enjoyed the stunts and special effects. Colin had a stunt double for “Little Fockers” but he did get to fly around on the harness like Superman – a young boy’s dream come true.
Both Colin and Daisy are in agreement about their favorite person on the set. It seems Teri Polo did a great job of entertaining them with her impression of Elmo and as a result, has her own personal fan club.
Below you will find part of the interview where you’ll find out what Colin and Daisy want for Christmas, their favorite holiday traditions and more!!
Question: Do you want to be an actor when you grow up? Is there anything else you want to be?
Colin Baiocchi: Yes. I still want to be this and I want to be a bunch of other things. I want to do this martial arts tae kwon do. I want to be a black belt really badly.
Daisy Tahan: I definitely still want to be an actress when I grow up. But, I want to be so many other things. I want to be an animal trainer. I want to be a chef. I want to be an artist. I want to own an animal shelter and be a teacher.
Question: What is your favorite holiday tradition? What do you like to do this time of year?
Colin Baiocchi: I really like Christmas.
Daisy Tahan: Yes. With Christmas, I usually bring my pets out under the tree and they all lie down. I have these little teeny stockings and I hang them up for them. And Santa always brings them presents under the tree and in their stockings.
Question: What’s on your Christmas list this year?
Colin Baiocchi: I really want these things called Bionicles. They’re kind of like Lego’s. I want these things, Ben 10 Lego’s. Ben 10 is this boy who has an Omnitrix and he gets transformed into 10 aliens. And they make Lego figures of him and his aliens. And I really want this guy Jetray. He can fly and breathe underwater, 10–seven times the speed of sound. There are lasers from his eyes, and lasers from his tail. And that’s why I want it.
Daisy Tahan: I want a mini Vespa.
Question: What pets do you have?
Daisy Tahan: I got a bunny at first. And then, that bunny, he found a wife and she had babies. And then, I bought one of the babies. And then, after I got that bunny, I got a hamster. And then, I got a dog, a Marcie, a Maltese-Yorkie mix.
Question: What was it like working with a lizard on set?
Colin Baiocchi: It was really fun. They had three different lizards. They had two real live lizards that both Daisy and I got to hold. And then, they had a fake lizard, Stiffy, who was stuffed up. But, sometimes when they said, “Cut,” I would wave his little hand because you can position him. It gets a little too funny if you do this.
Question: What advice would you give to other kids who might want to go into acting?
Colin Baiocchi: I would really say just don’t be shy to meet new people and always try your best.
Daisy Tahan: I would say always be nice to the people on the set and just do great.
Question: Did you guys take any acting lessons before you became actors?
Colin Baiocchi: No. I started commercials when I was two. I got a lot of commercials. But, sometimes I’ll get movies and I’ll play a younger kid since I’m so small. I got “Couples Retreat” and then I got “Little Fockers.”
Question: How have each of you found it working on the films and having to keep up with your schoolwork? Is it hard?
Daisy Tahan: No, not really, because when you leave for a film that you’re doing, usually the teachers give you the homework that you have to do that they’re going to be doing in the future while we’re away. And then, when you go back to school you’re all caught up.
Colin Baiocchi: Yes, because I was really ahead of math lessons when I was in first grade. Every time they went to math, I was just reading a book because I already did it.
Question: What kind of books do you like to read?
Colin Baiocchi: I really like to read chapter books. I really like fantasy chapter books that have a lot of funny stuff. I like Harry Potter, and I really like learning about animals. I like learning about sharks and dinosaurs. I like history.
Ms. Daisy Tahan: I like books about animals that talk usually. I don’t really have a specific book. But, I’m in the middle of “Charlotte’s Web” right now and it’s really good.
Question: What’s your least favorite thing about doing movies? Is there anything you just don’t like?
Daisy Tahan: Well, sometimes it gets frustrating to keep doing the same thing over and over.
Colin Baiocchi: Yeah.
Daisy Tahan: If it’s a scene that you’re playing with toys and it’s the first shot, you can play whatever you want. But, then when they cut and go again, you have to play the exact same thing over and over and over again.

(Hugging Barbra Streisand over and over again can’t be half bad!)

Questions: Have you had any times when people have recognized you?
Colin Baiocchi: Sometimes at school. I was walking down to parent pickup and this girl, she totally recognized me. I said, “Uh-oh.” And she wanted my picture. I’m said, “Yeesh.” I just started running. I said, “Oh, no.”
Daisy Tahan: Well, sometimes people come up and they say, “Hey, what do I know you from?” And I say, “I don’t know.” And sometimes people in the hallway at school say, “Hi, Daisy”. And I think, “I don’t really know you.” I don’t know how they really know me.
Question: What do your friends think about you guys being in the movies?
Daisy Tahan: Well, usually my friends don’t talk about it. But if I’m in the middle of shooting a movie or I just booked it or I just finished it, sometimes I feel like they’re interviewing me because they ask, “So, how do you like acting?” And I say, “It’s pretty good.” But, usually they don’t do that.
Colin Baiocchi: Everybody at my school, they basically know me. Everyone in my class knows me.
Question: So, how do you feel being in this grown-up movie that maybe your friends aren’t going to see? And I don’t know if you get to see the whole movie finished as opposed to maybe doing a movie more for kids?
Colin Baiocchi: I’m really happy that I finally got the movie done out of all that hard work. And I’m just glad it turned out great.
Daisy Tahan: Me too.
Question: What’s your favorite movie?
Colin: Definitely anything that has fighting in it.
Daisy Tahan: Anything that’s animated that has animals in it.
Colin Baiocchi: “Madagascar.”
Daisy Tahan: But, I really just like animated movies. The ones that are most recent that I loved was probably “Tangled.”
Question: How was it working with each other on the set? Do you have fun?
Colin Baiocchi: Yep.
Daisy Tahan: Yeah.
Question: What did you do to keep it fun?
Colin Baiocchi: During cuts and takes, we would play with each other.
Daisy Tahan: Yeah, we would take our toys really quickly and start playing.
Question: Was it just one cat Jinxy, or where there a couple?
Daisy Tahan: Two.
Daisy Tahan: One was named Charlie. And one was, I think, maybe actually Jinxy. I don’t know.
Colin Baiocchi: What would be really funny if Beatrice, Daisy’s hamster, went up to Jinx, both the Jinxy’s, and asked, “Can I have your autographs?” But, then there’s a note, “P.S., I’m going to eat you right now.”
Question: Do you have any movies coming up?
Colin Baiocchi: We don’t have any more, but I’m going to want to be in a spy movie.
Daisy Tahan: Oh, I’ve always wanted to be in an animated movie.
Colin Baiocchi: Because if I was in a spy movie, I would like to use a machine Nerf gun and fire a suction cup dart with a cable over a wall, climb it up, “Say hello to my little friend.”
Visit the Little Fockers website to watch previews and find out where the film is playing in your hometown.

Holiday Reflections: Funeral for a Friend

An oldie but a goodie that makes you appreciate the ones you love
cat-funeral-memorial.jpegI’m about to take a departure from the usual laugh out loud columns that I try to write every week. You see, unfortunately, my family and I have had quite the roller coaster week. It started with our beloved cat Oliver, who has been sick for quite some time now and we thought last Tuesday that his number had finally come up. And so, after breaking the news to our kids, Darin took the ailing feline to the vet who told him that he could still hang on for a few more weeks. When my daughter came home from school later that day, she was thrilled to see that Oliver hadn’t left us yet and she lavished him with attention and kisses.
As we all got ready for bed that night, the phone rang. Darin answered and right away from his voice and the look on his face, I knew something was up. “Beth, it’s your mom. Something happened with your dad.” At this point, in sheer panic, I grabbed the phone and found out that my dad, an athletic guy of 66 whose favorite past time is tennis, golf, acting and nudging my mom, had suffered a heart attack earlier in the day. My mom tried to hide the fear in her voice as she assured me that everything was okay and that I didn’t have to come down to Florida. I instantly told my mom that I was planning to see my dad for myself and raced down to my computer to book us on the next flight out.
I spent the night crying hysterically because I didn’t have the chance to speak with my dad (visiting hours were over for the night) and couldn’t sleep until I spoke with him the next morning. While dad sounded okay, you could tell he was a bit nervous – he had already had one procedure the day before but had to go in for another one the next day so he still wasn’t out of the woods. I told him we’d be there that afternoon and I could tell he was getting all teary-eyed on the other end right after I told him I loved him.
With our two kids in tow – who were both under the impression that Grandpa had broken his leg or had an accident on the tennis court, we hopped on our flight, made it to Florida – and went straight to the hospital with my mom – who hugged me tight and whispered “I’m glad you’re here” the moment we arrived. When we got to the hospital, dad was his usual jovial self – cracking jokes, making small talk, showing the kids how to use the remote on the TV – he seemed just fine – except for the tubes coming out of his arms and the mint green hospital gown.
The next day, my mom and I returned to the hospital to find that dad had already been brought to the CATH lab for what we thought was going to be another procedure to place a stent in his artery – instead he wound up with an angioplasty. While in the waiting room, we had the most surreal encounter. A little back story to clarify why we think we had a visit from the spirit world. You see, the year before I was born my grandfather, Benjamin Goldman, suffered a heart attack. When he was admitted to the hospital, my grandmother and my mom were told that he would be okay and that they wanted to keep him overnight for observation. That night, my grandfather had another massive coronary and died in his sleep. My mom, had this experience weighing on her thoughts throughout this entire experience and I knew that as strong as my dad is, there was always a chance that something could go wrong – and mom felt the same way too. But then the waiting room incident happened.
As we sat down in our seats, I looked across the room at a woman whose name tag said Lenore Goldman. Okay – so why is that eery, you ask? Well, my mom’s name is Lenore. And her maiden name, if you’re following the story from before, is Goldman. For the very first time in her life, my mom came face to face with a woman who shared her name – on the same day her husband was to go in for a heart procedure. Even stranger – now this one my husband says is a stretch – but Lenore Goldman’s husband’s name was Bernie. My grandfather – Bennie. So my interpretation of this experience was that my grandma Dora and my grandpa Benjamin wanted to give my mom a sign that they were there with her too and that everything would be okay.
They wheeled my dad out of surgery about a half hour later and when we finally got to see him, he was a bit woozy from the medication and kept repeating himself a few times. But that was quite alright. My dad was okay and I was eternally grateful. We spent the afternoon with dad, sharing funny stories – the crazy encounter in the waiting room and just relishing the fact that he had survived and everything would go back to normal again. Dad received phone calls and visitors all day and you could tell that he too was relieved that he was on the mend.
While he did have to spend one more day in the hospital (his blood pressure dropped in the middle of the night and he had had an arrythmia) he did get to go home on Saturday and was greeted with Welcome Home signs created by his grandchildren. Although he still felt a bit winded doing the smallest activity – like picking up the morning paper from outside, dad was almost back to his old self. He even broke out into song – practicing one of the numbers he’d be performing in March with the Palm Isle Players.
As quickly as we jetted into be with Dad, we hastily made our plans to return so that we could be with Darin’s family for Christmas. We flew back on Sunday and saw that our cat Oliver was still alive (barely) and we all stood around him to pet him. Actually, I grabbed all the sheets off the couch and the wing chair because he had soiled everything around him, but he was still around, so the kids were happy.
On Christmas Day, we visited Darin’s cousins for their annual get together and when we returned home, we arrived to find that Oliver had passed away. Rebecca was devastated – although she did ask if we could get another pet quickly after our beloved cat expired. Since we didn’t have to bring him to the vet to be put to sleep we now had to figure out funeral arrangements. Rebecca wanted us to bury him in a pet cemetary and we quickly convinced her that we’d find a shady spot in the backyard and that would be Oliver’s final resting place. And so, on December 26, the Feldman family had a funeral for a friend. Oliver Feldman, who passed away on Christmas Day along with James Brown I might add, was swaddled in a baby towel and buried in our backyard. Darin said a few words of wisdom, Dylan said his goodbyes, I blew a kiss and Rebecca told him that she loved him. And Rudy, the cat who had just lost his brother to cancer, watched high above from our window and scurried out of sight when we all came back inside.
And that was my week and what I’ve come to think is a major lesson on life. Never take anyone for granted – tell your family members that you love them – even when they’re driving you nuts. Life is too short – and when you lose a pet, involve everyone in the process – I really didn’t know how to teach my kids about dying but they experienced it this weekend, shed some tears and then we went to go see “Charlotte’s Web.” Quite simply, life does in fact go on.

ImaginOcean – WIN TICKETS!

dorsel_moving.gifJohn Tartaglia’s ImaginOcean, a new family musical, takes audiences on a one hour magical underwater journey full of surprises and special effects. The show follows the undersea adventures of a group of fish friends, who uncover a treasure map that leads them to learn about themselves and ultimately uncover the treasure of each others friendship. John Tartaglia earned a Tony Award nomination for his performance in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Avenue Q, John was most recently seen on Broadway as Pinocchio in Shrek the Musical and previously starred at Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast. A 10-year veteran of Sesame Street, John is one of the youngest puppeteers ever to perform on the show, starting at age 16.
Now you can have the opportunity to take your little fishes (ideal for ages 4 – 7) on this magical musical journey! To win 4 tickets simply go to the Project You facebook page and leave a comment. Make sure to include your e-mail address so we can tell you that you’ve won!!!
For more information please visit Imaginocean the Musical.