When I started out blogging several years ago, I never thought I’d be doing it for six years. Sharing stories, opinions about books, toys, strollers, you name it, but at the heart of it, I was excited to find out about new things and share them with my friends, the readers of this blog, fellow bloggers and perfect strangers. At the heart of it, I figured, I’m just an every day mom giving my honest opinion about topics in the news, movies I had just seen, books I had read and more. I created my blog to make people laugh and at times, to encourage them to try new things. At the heart of it, Role Mommy exists because it’s a place for me to do what I love while raising a family.
The problem with blogging is sometimes, you have writers block and instead of posting something boring or lame, you decide to take a breather until inspiration strikes. That’s what happened to me. I’ve been working full time now for about eight months while balancing Role Mommy and Project You and frankly it’s been tough. I want to write, but I also want to read those books (just finished the biography of Steve Jobs btw, and it’s a must read for any budding entrepreneur or dreamer), spend time with my family, veg out on the couch or just hang out with my cats – wait I can do that while I blog.
When you work a lot, sometimes the things you love most get neglected and for that dear readers, I am sorry. I promise not to do that again! If you’re a writer and facing the same brick wall – you can’t seem to think of what to write about each day, here’s a personal challenge that I plan to try:
1. Tell one story a day: It could be a conversation you had with a close girlfriend; a holiday shopping find; a meal that you whipped up from scratch; a photo of your pet or your child doing something really silly. If you find the one nugget of your day that you think others will find interesting, funny or informative – then go for it. Even if your mom is the only one who reads it, at least you know you’re capturing every day of your life in a way that is meaningful to you and possibly to many others.
So get ready to laugh again, be inspired and much more. Role Mommy is my passion, my outlet, my place to be me, so hope you enjoy what we’ve got in store for you in 2012 and if you have a story to share, please do – we’d love to hear from you!
While I’m not a psychic, I do know a little bit about entertainment, trends, moms, politics (well not really) and tweens. So here’s my top 10 predictions for 2012 – see if you agree.
1. Ryan Seacrest will be named co-host of Live with Kelly. It’s inevitable – he just has to sell his mansion and figure out how he’s going to host “American Idol” from L.A. but Ryan Seacrest is totally Big Apple bound. Besides, “Live with Ryan and Kelly” has a way better ring to it than “Live with Kelly and Andy.”
2. Pinterest is poised to become the hottest new site in 2012. Forget Foursquare and Stumble Upon. Now that you can create a bulletin board with videos, links, photos and more, Pinterest has the ability to attract all ages and drive traffic to websites and blogs in an organic way.
3. Goodbye Nate and Oprah, hello Katie and Ricki. Looking forward to seeing the daytime talk shows that will be hitting the airwaves next Fall. My money is on Ricki since new moms, tween moms and moms to be can relate to her realism. And I love that she nearly grabbed the mirror ball trophy this year on “Dancing with the Stars.” Go Ricki and welcome back to talk!
4. The Road to the Presidency – my gut tells me that Mitt Romney will get the nod and his running mate could be Chris Christie. Either way, I don’t think that’ll be a strong enough match for the Obama camp. While the economy has yet to rebound, the health care situation is still a bit of a mess and he doesn’t have the support of Congress, he did find Osama Bin Laden and finally get rid of him; he captured Moammar Khadafi and got rid of him too and finally started bringing troops home. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but at least we’re headed in the right direction.
5. The Rise of the Ezine – Sure, I have a personal interest in this one, but trust me when I tell you, people like to read publications online. I happen to live for my New York Post and People Magazine apps so here’s hoping that Project You Magazine becomes an app in the New Year and reaches millions of parents worldwide! Incidentally, I’m also loving the brand new Editions App from AOL where you select the sections you want to read and a magazine miraculous is created just for you.
6. Another Trash TV Reality Star will Emerge – While I don’t know who it is just yet, I’m sure that 2012 will launch the career of another talentless person who doesn’t deserve the spotlight but will get it due to their awful behavior. Will they come from MTV, Bravo or TLC? That is the question
7. Meryl Streep will win another Oscar. Put Meryl Streep in a movie about Margaret Thatcher and trust me when I tell you, she will win the Academy Award for best actress this year. Here’s hoping that Octavia Spencer nabs the supporting actress category for “The Help,” but my money on the top prize is Streep. And best movie…I say “The Help” but something tells me it’ll be something I haven’t actually seen in theaters.
8. Young Adult Books will surpass traditional best sellers First there was “Harry Potter,” then there was “Twilight” and then came the “Hunger Games.” And now, I’ve seen a commercial for a new book geared towards tweens and teens written by James Patterson. Who needs the boomers or GenXers when you’ve got socially savvy kids who are actually reading a lot! Thank goodness for little things.
9. Mediterranean Cuisine is the New It Food – Now that we know that fish, olive oil, hummus and other delicacies from the mediterranean are good for us, look for plenty more Greek restaurants to pop up in your area. We went to one restaurant that actually delivers! So long Chinese, you’ve been replaced by Greek food!
10. Apple will come out with a new iPad, a bigger MacBook Air and yet another iPhone: The year would not be complete without me buying the previous year’s model of an Apple product only to find out the latest version is available in the New Year.
While tourists descend upon Manhattan in droves, I’ve discovered that I’ve missed my calling. Instead of pursuing a career in PR and writing, I should have been a tour guide. You see, I know a heck of a lot about New York. More importantly, I know how to navigate the city like the back of my hand and over the years, I’ve found some online tools to help guide me when I don’t know exactly where I’m going. So this past week, while getting ready for an event at the Times Square Visitors Center, I put my knowledge of the Big Apple to the test when a few tourists mistook me for the information booth and proceeded to ask me all kinds of questions:
Q. “Excuse me Miss, do you know where TKTS booth is located?”
A. Of course! Right in the middle of Times square where the bleachers are now located – it’s red and white and says TKTS – you can’t miss it. And by the way – if you don’t get to see the Broadway show you’re looking for, go to Ellen’s Stardust Diner instead – it’s located on 51st and 7th Avenue and the place is jam packed with singing waiters and waitresses hoping to make it big on Broadway. Love that place!
Q. I need to get to SoHo from Times Square and I was told I could take one train. Is that possible?
A. Anything is possible. Do you have a phone with a browser? No, you don’t? No worries, you can use my Droid. Just visit HopStop.com, enter the address where you’d like to go and it will give you the exact trains you need to take plus walking directions to your destination. Easy, peasy.
Q. How can I tell what cross streets a building is located between if it’s on an avenue?
A. Simple, just visit the Cross Street Locator and enter the address and it’ll find the streets you need.
Q. I’m driving into Manhattan. How can I find a parking garage that won’t rip me off?
A. Visit www.bestparking.com, enter the address where you’re going, the time you’d like to arrive and you can print out a coupon for the least expensive parking option that’s closest to your destination. Expect to pay as little as $12-$15 for parking.
Q. What if we need to use a bathroom when we’re in the city? Are there any public bathrooms that are semi-decent?
A. Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg, NYC bathrooms have truly come a long way. I’ve found that the bathrooms in Grand Central Terminal are pretty clean. My absolute favorite bathroom however is located in Bryant Park – that one sports mosaic tiles and fresh flowers! Gotta love that – a no porto-san zone!
Q. What are typical must see places that most tourists visit during the holidays?
* The Rockefeller Center Tree – this year the tree will be lit on November 30.
The Holiday window display at Saks, located at 611 Fifth Avenue near 49th Street.
The Windows at Lord and Taylor, located at 424 Fifth Avenue near 38th Street
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Toys R Us, Located in Times Square
FAO Schwartz, located at 767 5th Avenue near 59th street.
American Girl Place, located at 609 5th Avenue near 49th street
Q. What are some of the places that you like to visit this time of year?
* The shops at Bryant Park (great crafts, jewelry, clothes, collectables and more) plus free ice skating compliments of Citi Group.
* The holiday shopping at Grand Central Terminal (do you see a pattern here)
* Ice skating in Wollman rink in Central Park
*Watching the balloons blown up near 81st and Central Park West the night before the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
* Movies in 3D Imax at Sony Lincoln Square.
* Brunch on the upper west side (Popovers, Sarabeth’s, Barney Greengrass and Good Enough to Eat.
* Buying great scarves, hats and gloves from street vendors all along 5th Avenue.
Q. What are your kids’ favorite places to visit this time of year?
* Nintendo World in Rockefeller Center
* Lego World (right across the street from Nintendo World)
* M&M World, Times Square
* Mars 2112 – where they have a motion simulator ride and you’re waiting on by aliens from another planet.
* Nuts – Any roasted peanut or cashew vendor along 5th Avenue.
* Bubba Gump Shrimp – where you get to be quizzed by your waiter and waitress on all things “Forrest Gump” while dining on cajun shrimp and jello shots (minus the alcohol of course).
Q. Are there any new places or stores to visit this year?
A. Absolutely! In fact, the new Disney NYC flagship store just opened in the heart of Times Square. The place is two stories high, offers tons of Mickey inspired New York City memorabilia on the lower level and then on the 2nd floor, you can find everything from custom cars from the movie (create your own car while you wait). A princess section with magical mirrors that come alive when you wave your hand (or a wand) in front of them, and an arts and crafts area that shows movies while you shop for gifts. (Obviously make sure you’re kids are supervised!). Plus, there’s also great Disney gifts to be had – from Toy Story to Spiderman to Phineas and Ferb to all those adorable princess costumes. Oh how I remember the days of Belle, Cinderella and Jasmine. Time flies, so enjoy it all while you can!
Q. What are the best museums to take my kids during the holidays?
* Museum of Natural History & Hayden Planetarium, located at 81st and Columbus
* Children’s Museum of Manhattan (for younger children – ages 6 and under)
* Museum of Modern Art (for older kids).
* Intrepid Sea-Air and Space Museum
For more great ideas, visit the NYC Gov. website.
Q. Are there shows I can take my kids to that won’t break the bank?
A. Absolutely – try The New Victory Theater , which offers great performances for families. Plus, there’s always the Big Apple Circus and Cirque de Soleil Wintuk.
Q. Should I take one of those tour buses throughout the city or just walk along the streets like everyone else?
A. That one is totally up to you. If you don’t like walking, opt for the bus and then you can get a birds eye view of several Manhattan landmarks. If you’re interested in a cool walking tour, try the Ghosts of New York located in Greenwich Village. This one is great for families with older kids – you don’t want to scare the little ones!
If you’re visiting New York anytime soon and have a question to ask, please feel free to comment below. I’m starting to like being a tour guide – maybe I’ll even host one of those double decker bus tours.
Want to make salads more of a staple in the New Year? How about making them more appealing with a delicious dressing? Here’s a simple recipe that will entice you to not only make but eat more salads in 2012!
Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette:
3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp agave
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 tsp cumin
6 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Stir together until fully combined and refrigerate.
For more great recipes, visit Alma Schneider at Take Back the Kitchen.
By Role Mommy Contributor, Danielle Feigenbaum
I think my children are hoarders. Everywhere I turn I see my daughter’s American Girl accessories, silly bandz, pads of paper and more. My son’s transformers, action figures and matchbox cars are all over the place. Don’t even get me started on party favors… why do they insist on keeping all that crap? Honestly, how many light up rings and bouncy balls do these kids need?
This past week while I kept seeing new presents coming in, my husband and I decided it was time for a “cleanse”. Not a body cleanse (although I could use that too after all this holiday eating), but a house cleanse. This is no small task even though my house is pretty small; we are talking hours of hard labor. We have only done the den and my son’s room, but I already feel so much better. All the broken toys and pieces that we have no idea where they are from, go in the trash. Any toys that they have outgrown or haven’t touched in months will be donated. They were not thrilled about getting rid of so much of their stuff, but I explained that we were giving the toys to kids who didn’t have much to play with. You can google local charities, some may even come and pick up the donations from your house.
We decided to be super organized – we bought small and medium clear storage containers and organized everything into categories, crayons, legos, beads etc. We even used a label maker to mark what is in each box. Tomorrow we are going to tackle the basement, it won’t be easy, but it will be worth the pain. I love the idea of starting 2012 with a clean slate… and house, even if it will only last a week.
In our ongoing series with Avon, we got to meet Veruska Puente, a mother of three, who started her Avon business because she wanted to become her own boss and create her own salary. Since then, she has established a successful Avon business selling over $100,000 last year. With her Avon Earnings she has been able to buy a BMW, Mercedes SUV, help purchase and furnish her home, and start to save for her kid’s college tuition and build her own savings.
RM: When did you first become an Avon representative?
Veruska: I got started 11 years ago when I had my first daughter. At the time, I was a stay at home mom and when I found out about the great opportunity of earning half of whatever you sell, that got me highly interested. At first, I started with my friends and family. I had no sales experience but right off the bat, Avon was so easy for me.
RM: What was your experience like with Avon when you first started out?
Veruska – I just went gung ho on it. With my first order, I started out just by showing the books around to friends and family and I made $400. They loved the book – it’s so attractive – it’s such a reputable company. I then started training, taking the course online. I took the beauty courses and by my second year, I was the #1 sales representative in the nation.
RM: How were you able to attract so many customers?
Veruska: Back then, I lived in Manhattan – I would carry books with me. If I would get a new customer in a building and the building would have between 20-30 apartments, I would visit the person. I would then work the whole building and leave the catalogs with a flyer on the door and they would call back. And then I would keep my Facebook customers because I would have a relationship with them. I then developed a friendship with them. Today, I call them and offer new products that we are promoting and my customers really like that.
RM: Do you have customers who shop online and order from you in person?
Veruska: We still have people that want to do both. You get so much out of that customer when you have that personal relationship. I also have customers that I have no contact with – they shop online – and I have a relationship with them in an online way. They take advantage of that – and that’s okay with them and that’s okay with me.
RM: What are your best selling items?
Veruska: My #1 seller is the skincare – it’s the most expensive item in the book. My customers come back every time they finish it. I love the Anew products. That’s what I focus on.
RM: You’ve been so successful that you even opened an Avon store. Tell us about that.
Veruska: I have a store in New York City that is certified by Avon so more people can come to me. I try to stock the best sellers and I try to have everything available from the warehouse that are the top picks in my store like fragrances, make-up and skin care.
That’s another opportunity that Avon has where I can have a store that is right in the city where I used to live. The area is saturated with people. I saw the opportunity and took advantage of it – I not only do sales but I also recruit there. I train sales representatives and then I show them what I know. That gives them an opportunity to use their products at cost – some people want extra money. Some want to do it full time and they make Avon a career.
RM: How were you able to get the store?
Veruska: It was through a series of approvals and certification. They give you permission for you to have the store – then you become the tradition representative. Avon provides you with the products and tools to start. Where can you start a business with $10? $10 and a dream. I don’t know any other company that offers 50% of what I bring in. That’s what it was for me and I’ve been a top seller ever since. Last year my whole unit, which is comprised of 400 sales representatives, grossed $1.3 million dollars.
RM: How do you keep and retain customers?
Veruska: When you have someone who knows your products – who knows it genuinely and knows what to sell. I know that if you’re not satisfied, you’re not going to come back. I’m interested in continuing with my customers, it’s not a one time deal. I do free consultations with my customers. I ask them a series of questions. Once we get into conversations, we know everything. I have a lot of customers that come to me for one thing and come out with 10 other things. Since the products are so amazing and they work, they are happy. Beauty is something that’s never going to go out of style – it’s boosts your self esteem. When you find that relationship with someone who is genuine and honest people like that and value that. And that won’t leave them for anything.
According to one of Veruska’s customers, Ramona, who has been a client for several years, she loves having a good friend who is also her Avon representative. She says, “I order via the Internet and in person which is great. Anytime I have a question, she helps me choose colors, foundation – things that will match. I prefer meeting with her in person. The cost is amazing and I’ve purchased a variety of things. I love the lip gloss set. It’s amazing. I’ve also bought the holiday bundle set, because I have children. It was a nice price. Also bought the white gold goldenberries lipstick and other people are asking for it!”
RM: Tell us why you love your career with Avon.
Veruska: Avon gave me the opportunity to start my own business with practically $10 and it really helped me to achieve my dreams and I’ve had so many things with Avon. My first car was a BMW, I bought my house, I’ve gone on trips – I don’t have to use credit cards because Avon. I met my husband through Avon at a formal dinner for top sellers. I’m so blessed with Avon it even gave me a husband at the time.
If you live in the tri-state area, you can visit Veruska at her Avon store in Washington Heights located at 4419 Broadway between 189th and 190th Street.
(212) 942-0299 cell: 917-299-5873
This compensated post was sponsored by Avon.
After a long decision making process, I have finally chosen my 2012 meal plan that I’m hoping will help me shed some those stubborn pounds from my 5 feet 1 inch frame. Drumroll please…I have selected the Biggest Loser Diet Plan! I’m already a big fan of the show and though I won’t have a trainer screaming in my hear to do a zillion crunches or pull a tractor trailer up a hill with a rope, I am determined to lose between 15 to 20 pounds – or as much as my 40+ body will let me.
I’m tired of not being able to fit into my favorite clothes and have gravitated to any sweater that covers my butt. It kind of reminds me of the Kirstie Alley syndrome. Every time she got bigger, she wore loose clothes that covered her posterior and while I’m not as big, I still feel ridiculously self conscious.
And so, beginning Tuesday, January 3, I will start the plan and get myself on the right track to losing in 2012. So here’s to slimming down in the New Year – nothing looks as good as thin feels.
Want a delicious pie for the holidays that is quick and festive? Try this family favorite of mine this holiday season and all year round. Aren’t you sick of pumpkin pie by now?
Key Lime Pie:
1/2 cup key lime juice or just plain fresh squeezed lime juice like I use
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp lime zest and thinly sliced lime for garnish
Whip up these filling ingredients in a bowl and set aside in a bowl in fridge. Can do this in advance to save time later!
Pie Crust (or just buy a prepared Graham Cracker Crust):
1 1/4 cups white flour
1/2 cup veg. shortening or chilled 1 stick cold butter cut into small cubes
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBS sugar
1 pinch salt
(or make the graham cracker crust or from the decadent pumpkin pie recipe on this blog)
Combine salt and flour. Add in the shortening or butter until dough is crumbly. Add the vanilla and sugar and form into a ball with your hands but don’t touch too much b/c it won’t get flaky. Press into a pie dish on the bottom and as high up the sides as the dough will go.
Place pie dough in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove and let cool for a few minutes. When cooled, reduce heat of the oven to 325 degrees. Add the filling and bake, covered with tin foil, for 40 minutes minutes or until knife comes out clean.
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.
Remove from oven, let cool and place in fridge. Serve cold with whipped cream (or Tru-Whip non dairy topping) if you like and sprinkle a little lime zest and sliced limes over the whipped cream as a garnish. Enjoy!!