This past weekend, I went with my mother, my daughter Alexa and her American Girl Doll Olivia, into Manhattan to spend some time at the American Girl Place for her 7th birthday. Three generations (well, four if you include Olivia) spending a lovely day together.
If you have been to American Girl Place you are probably thinking I am nuts because the store is 43,000 square feet, spread over four floors, and can be totally overwhelming and exhausting (carrying all that stuff and waiting on line)! But noooo….I have the best kept secret around! Robyn Roth-Moise. No, she is not the new doll of the year, she is a personal shopper! Personal shopper for a doll store you ask? Trust me on this… Robyn’s job (along with all the other wonderful personal shoppers) is to make your shopping experience simple and completely stress free. Their goal is to make you and your child’s visit to American Girl Place as magical as possible, and she definitely succeeded with us! Now I know what you’re thinking- how can I possibly afford to buy things in the store and pay for a service like that? Guess what? It’s FREE! You heard me correctly. It is a no fee, no commission, no tipping service.
When you arrive at the store you go to the Concierge and they will call your personal shopper. You can check you coats. They will explain the layout of the store and where everything is, including new items and store exclusives. If your child has certain things in mind they can bring the items to you. My daughter knew she wanted a horse for Olivia so instead of going around all the floors looking at all the different horses, we sat in the peaceful personal shopping waiting area and they brought the horses to us!
After choosing a horse that Alexa named butterscotch, we had lunch at the cafe (which was absolutely ADORABLE, but make sure to get a reservation beforehand). I highly recommend it as it was quite tasty and ended up being a great bonding experience. They give you a box of interesting questions to ask each other while you wait for your meal, and I have to say, I learned some new things about my mom and my daughter and shared a lot of laughs.
After lunch we had plans to get Olivia’s hair done at the doll salon (I know it seems frivolous, but this ended up being my daughter’s favorite part of the whole day). We got a great tip from Charlotte (another personal shopper) on how to avoid the 2 hour lines for the salon (no appointments accepted there unfortunately). All we had to do was leave the cafe a few minutes before most people finished their lunch and, voila, we saved ourselves an hour and 55 minutes! They sit the dolls in mini salon chairs and the stylists trim and style the hair (there were about 30 styles to choose from) while chatting with the doll’s owner about proper hair care and other fun things. All that was missing were tiny fashion magazines!
After Olivia got her new “do” we strolled leisurely around the store, chose a few things to buy, and headed back up to the personal shopping area. Robyn did such an amazing job, I can’t say enough about her. She didn’t try to sell us at all, but rather helped us through the endless amount of accessories and apparel, narrow things down, while making Alexa feel very special. The best part was that we could check out and pay right there so we didn’t have to deal with the really long lines at all the cashiers. It was really a perfect day! Thanks to Robyn and Charlotte my mom and I did not have to be stressed and my daughter had a fabulous seventh birthday that she will never forget!
If you would like to get in touch with Robyn Roth-Moise and plan your magical day, you can e-mail her at Robyn.Roth-Moise@AmericanGirl.com.
Visit the website at: http://www.americangirl.com/stores/location_ny.php
A guest post by one of my favorite people on the entire planet, my mom, Lenore Stoller As a retiree living in Florida, going to the movies is part of our social calendar. We try to see at least one movie a week and with the cost at $5 per person, you can imagine why we spend many date nights at the local theaters. In addition, most of the theaters we frequent have stadium seating so we don’t have to worry if a tall person or someone with a big head sits in front of us. Plus, since we typically hit the Early Bird special for dinner, we normally are pretty full by the time we get to the theater, which means we save money on the popcorn and soda!
But enough about the movie experience in Boynton. Here are my honest reviews of a few blockbusters I’ve have seen since this season with my husband, sister and close girlfriends: Black Swan: This was an excellent movie. Natalie Portman definitely deserves an Oscar for her performance. But ladies, do not take your husband or your children to see this very dark, sad and frightening movie. I recommend that you go with a few of your female friends and then decide if your daughters would understand the story line. There are some sexually explicit scenes and some very disturbing moments – which hopefully does not resemble the lives of young ballerinas. The Fighter: The story in this movie is based on the life of a real fighter.It was a very good movie, one that husbands will enjoy and children over the age of 10 might like too. This story of a truly dysfunctional family really gets one to thinking-that inspite all these obstacles, a person can achieve their dream no matter how old they might be! It is unfortunate that Mark Wahlberg wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar because he definitely deserves it! The King’s Speech – This movie was outstanding. Colin Firth deserves an Oscar as does the co-star who played his tutor. Once again, this movie is based on a true story. It is the story of King George VI (Queen Elizabeth’s father) who had a terrible stuttering problem. Husbands can enjoy this movie as well as children 10 and older. However, they might need a little history lesson before going to see the film. True Grit -This movie was pretty good (even if you’re not a fan of cowboy westerns) – It’s a remake that originally starred John Wayne and Robert Duvall. Jeff Bridges was great as Rooster Cogburn , a tough hard drinking marshall hired by a 14 year old to find the man responsible for murdering her father. The young lady who starred in this role was also excellent and deserves recognition. This could be a movie for the entire family- but once again the children might have to be 12 years or older. Although there are no sexually explicit scenes, but there is a great deal of violence. Another issue was that sometimes the dialogue was mumbled and garbled. I thought it was the fact that I might be starting to have a hearing problem – but on our way out “young” members of the audience had the same complaint. The Social Network– Another good movie that’s okay for adults and children who have hit texting age (12 and over). Since this movie is already out on DVD, I highly recommend that you rent it and discuss the themes of genius, greed and duplicity with your partner or kids.
That’s it for now. Mom does add that there are other movies they’ve seen – however, they were so bad, it wasn’t worth sharing those reviews with you. Bottom line, if you only have two hours to spare, spend your money on the films she just recommended. Otherwise, wait for the rest to come out on DVD. Our time is precious…no need to waste it!
Here at Role Mommy, we’re going to be co-hosting two Super Bowl Twitter parties this Monday night starting off with party tips from my favorite party planners and style experts and then a Super Bowl Travel party with the amazing team at Traveling Mom. The fun starts at 8pm and here’s our party line up!
You are invited to a #BowlBash Twitter Party on Monday!
You can read the Partybluprints Blog for Ultimate Super Bowl Bash on a Budget; for best recipes, and an idea to make everyone to talk about your party: the brownie bar! Their Lazy Man’s Barbecue Pork Sandwich recipe with Frank’s Hot Sauce is easy to make in a slow cooker. Also see Dawn & Elizabeth on TODAY Show on Wednesday February 2nd!
To find out how you can join in on the fun, head on over to Skimbaco Lifestyle for all the details! Next up, for sports fans who are willing to travel anywhere to support their favorite teams, join Traveling Mom for the ultimate Super Bowl travel party starting at 9 pm. Have you traveled to a Super Bowl? A Super Bowl party? Booked a weekend at the spa while your significant other does the Super Bowl Shuffle?
Whatever your Super Bowl story, we want to hear from you. Share your Super Bowl stories with us on Twitter from 9-10 pm EST on Jan. 31. Follow the hashtags #TMOM #SBTravel and visit Traveling Mom to find out how you can enter to win prizes courtesy of their party sponsor ParkWhiz.com. To find out more about Super Bowl travel and more, listen in to our latest Blog Talk Radio Show which features an interview with ParkWhiz.com founder, Aashish Dalal.
Who doesn’t love going to an Asian restaurant and ordering dumplings? Well, why not just buy a few ingredients and learn how to make them yourself? It’s really not tough and it is a great indoor activity to do with the kids. Enjoy! Chicken and Rice Pot Stickers:
stack of 50 or so flour dumpling/wonton wrappers
3/4 lb steamed chicken
1 cup cleaned,chopped cilantro
1/2 shredded carrot, then chopped fine
1 tsp canola oil
1 and 1/2 cup cooked rice, white or brown
salt and black pepper
Shred cooked chicken in a Food processor until like crumbs.
In a medium sized skillet, heat up oil for a minute or so.
Add the cilantro and carrots and sautee until wilted.
Add the shredded chicken and stir.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Lay out dumpling wrappers and take a tsp of chicken mixture mixed with a tsp of the cooked rice and mush together to form a ball. Add a little water if necessary to form a ball.
Add in the center of the wrapper, wet one side of wrapper with a touch of water as though it were an envelope seal and fold over with the other side of the wrapper. Press together with your fingers so it looks like above dumplings that my friend’s Kristen and Kate are holding.
Continue until all are completed.
Steam dumplings in a steamer or vegetable steamer sprayed or brushed with a little oil so they don’t stick in batches and then pan fry until brown in a little oil.
Serve hot with Thai chili sauce, soy sauce with a few drops of sesame oil or any sauce you like on the side.
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.
If you live on the east coast, you are probably knee deep in that Calgon take me away moment where you’re sick of seeing snow, tired of bundling up and dreaming of a taking a trip far, far away. In the background of your daydream, you probably have one child calling your name asking you for juice, another telling you her nose is running and your spouse wondering if you’ve made the morning coffee. I say, it’s high time to pack up your stresses, call your best girlfriends and take a break. Whether it’s a girl’s night out or a getaway to a warm destination, here are some of our fave fives:
1. The Breakers in Palm Beach – Now this option is for those of us who have relatives in Florida and can fly our kids down to our parents, leave them for a few days and then head over to a lush resort where can can be pampered in the spa, relax on the beach with a great book and swim or lounge by the pool. It’s so quiet at the Breakers that you could hear a pin drop.
2. A One Night Stay or Weekend Getaway at the Ritz Carlton, Peninsula or Four Seasons – Once again, this can be a break the bank kind of experience, but trust me when I tell you, one night in a luxurious hotel and you will feel completely rejuvenated. From the pillow top feather beds, the chocolate mints under the pillows, unbelievable spas and top of the line service, there is nothing that comes close to spending a night at a five star hotel resort. For me, I love hitting a fancy hotel from time to time so that I can get design tips for my bathroom. I found out a while ago that most bathroom trends start at hotels so grab a notebook and check out the mosaic tiles! Incidentally, you can head to the Bahamas, Cancun, Puerto Rico, Cabo – no matter your destination, the key is to relax, rejuvenate and reconnect with your friends.
3. Dinner, Movie or a Show: Share an entree and appetizer with your best girlfriend and then get two tickets to a show that your partner would never see. Or, a double feature tear jerker at the movies. I can’t tell you how many times I want to go see a film and my husband turns me down because it’s a chick flick. Check out my recent night out with a close friend friend.
4. Moms Night In: Send the kids over to someone else’s house where the dad’s are on duty and transform your home into a shopping palace. One of my good friends throws the best Mom’s Night In parties complete with jewelry, handbags and scarves to purchase. Plus, there are passion parties, food parties (each guest brings their own dish), margarita parties, Pampered Chef cookware parties, jeans parties or you can all chip in for food, bring wine and call it a day. Make sure you carpool and have a designated driver!
5. 4 Day Getaways – Lastly, if you have several days to spare, then pack your bags and hit the skies for a one of a kind experience complete with fine dining, health and wellness menu, fitness plans and more. Some of our recommendations include: Villa Group Resorts (properties in Cabo, Riviera Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun), Canyon Ranch in Tuscon, Miami and the Berkshires or and Cal a Vie in San Diego.
No matter your Thelma and Louise adventure, make 2011 the year that you grab your best girlfriend, pack a bag and take time for yourself. By the time you get back, your kids and husband will be thrilled to see you and you won’t get as annoyed when someone asks to get them Nyquil at 3 am.
If you are a fan of the first “Mean Girls” film, you’ll want to tune into “Mean Girls 2” on ABC Family on Sunday, January 23rd at 8PM ET/PT. Be sure to stay tuned at the end of the movie for a special PSA with actress Meaghan Martin on bullying and its impact. ABC Family has partnered with STOMP Out Bullying™ to help speak to the heart of the issue. For more information on “Mean Girls 2” visit www.abcfamily.com.
Planning to visit Super Bowl XLV this year? Then enter the chance to win free parking (valued at $100).
Contest Rules: HOW TO ENTER NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.
To enter, follow @ParkWhiz on Twitter and then re-tweet this link http://bit.ly/gBPrxv and you’ll be entered to win. One winner will be randomly selected at www.random.org. CONTEST RULES:
The contest is open to U.S. residents 18+. Identification must be produced on request. Employees of ParkWhiz.com., and such employees’ immediate family members and persons with whom such employees are domiciled are excluded from this contest.
The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded.
Contest open to U.S. residents only.
One entry per person.
It’s been a really long time since I’ve gone out with any of my close girlfriends. Typically, we hang out during a play date or meet up for dinner with our spouses, or see each other at birthday parties, Bar Mitzvahs, holidays or summer vacations, but rarely do I ever just make plans with a good friend to hit the city for a good old fashioned girls night out.
All that changed when my friend Alicia and I decided to set a date for a night on the town. We had hatched the plan a few weeks prior and suddenly, the day arrived and I had yet to make a reservation. While we initially tried to aim for a hip midtown spot spot called Thalia, when I visited my favorite reservation website, Open Table the only time left on the reservation list was 9 pm. Instead, I found another location – Serafina – which happened to be right around the corner from the theater where we were headed. Incidentally, Serafina is located in the Time Hotel on 49th between Broadway and 8th Avenue and the food is ideal for sharing with your girlfriend. After dinner, we zipped around the corner and arrived within minutes at the New World Theater. I had been invited to Bloggers Night Out at “Avenue Q” (one of my favorite shows) and after taking our seats, we found out that now the show is off-Broadway, they actually serve drinks right at your seats. It’s like going to the movies without standing on line – what a great concept. A few minutes later, the show started and we were laughing our sides off.
If you’ve never seen “Avenue Q,” let me just warn you – while it is a show about puppets that look like they came straight out of of “Sesame Street,” this is not a show for kids. Which makes it even more hysterical. There’s profanity and inappropriate sex scenes (between puppets) so make sure you’re ready to let go of your inhibitions and go with it. If you’ve got a decent sense of humor and are comfortable with uncomfortable humor, trust me, you’ll be crying with laughter.
After the show, we got the chance to stick around and meet the cast where they shared how they prepared for their roles (they attended puppet camp) and how strenuous it can be to act, sing and dance while holding a puppet on your arm for two hours straight.
Take a look…
By the time we knew it, our night together had come to an end and so, Alicia and I hopped in a cab together, I hit Grand Central Terminal and she raced home to Queens. And while I uploaded pix on Facebook on my train ride home so that we could share our “Avenue Q” experience with family and friends, I smiled to myself and thought – we need to do this more often!
If you’d like to plan your own mom’s night out, then we’ve got a special deal from the folks at Avenue Q. Visit the broadwayoffers.com website, or the box office and use the code AQBLOG12. With this special promotional code, you’ll be able to get as low as $55! (Valid through 5/26/11).
Disclosure: I received two complimentary tickets to see “Avenue Q.” However, the views expressed in this post are strictly my own. And for more great date night options with your girlfriend check out our fave five suggestions for the ultimate girlfriend getaways.
Sometimes, there are just some contests that yours truly can’t pass up. Just a few seconds ago, an email landed in my inbox from the folks at Crisco that included the words: Win a trip for two to Italy. All I can say is, please Crisco, pick me. I first visited Italy as a teen with my parents and instantly fell in love