Messy Christmas

Thank you to LiveOn for sponsoring this blog post. Please visit LiveOn to learn more about sharing and preserving your most important memories. I was selected for this sponsorship by Clever Girls Collective. My readers get 30% off on LiveOn Rewind using code: HOLIDAYREWIND

We have been blessed with many perfect Christmas seasons, surrounded with family and friends and pets… BUT there was that ONE christmas which was perfect in it’s own messy kinda way!

Holiday season  can be a messy undertaking.  I am sure each one of us could tell many stories of how your best plans for the perfect Christmases have been foiled.  Where crazy Aunt Pam shows up with her decades younger boyfriend, or everyone gets food poisoning from YOUR cooking, or grandma’s freak reindeer accident! Poor Grandma!

Matt chimed in with .. even the very FIRST Christmas was a messy one.

Imagine this…

SCENE – Mary and Joseph travel by donkey toward Bethlehem

Mary turns to Joseph and says: So, where did you make our hotel reservations?

awkward pause…

Mary: “You did make reservations, didn’t you?  Don’t tell me we are traveling all this way and you haven’t made any arrangements… You do know I’m about to have a baby, don’t you!”

Maybe it was a silent night because Mary and Joseph had nothing more to say to each other!!

Our first year being married, Matt and I were excited to celebrate our first Christmas together as a married couple.  Our plans included sleeping in, opening our few gifts to each other and setting out the airport and heading to  St. Paul, Minnesota, for a friends wedding.  We bought tickets to fly out on Christmas Day—the tickets were very reasonably priced—and we were eager to have Christmas dinner with good friends who promised us a feast of traditional German Christmas food.

The snow had begun to fall earlier that day, so before calling for a taxi, I called the airline, which informed us that our departing flight was on-schedule.  As we cruised down the empty lanes of interstate 684, in New York, the snow began to pick up its pace.  By the time we were dropped off and got inside to check-in, our flight was delayed and within a half-hour, canceled.

We walked briskly up to the ground transportation desk and were told that no more taxis were running, no busses and no trians!

We were stranded—only a few miles from home—but stranded!

Matt and I did have a Christmas dinner… not the German food we had been looking forward to, but fried clam strips and chili at the airport lunch counter.  With a hundred or so new friends, we slept on our coats on the airport chairs, with our feet propped up on our luggage.  Outside, snow had fallen snow on snow in The Christmas Nor’easter of that winter and the blowing snow would set off the sensors on the automatic doors, allowing the blizzard inside the terminal every ten minutes or so.

Every 3 minutes through the night we heard the recording, “Please do not leave bags unattended.  Unattended bags will be subject to search.  If you see a suspicious package please notify airport security immediately.”  Every three minutes!!!

We finally made it to Minnesota late the next day and had a great time with friends.   And we made a great Christmas memory.  We even talked about going back to the airport some Christmas for clam strips and chili… but we haven’t done so, yet.

Thank you to LiveOn for sponsoring this blog post. Please visit LiveOn to learn more about sharing and preserving your most important memories. I was selected for this sponsorship by Clever Girls Collective. My readers get 30% off on LiveOn Rewind using code: HOLIDAYREWIND

Although story ideas were provided, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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and we have a Guinea Pig!

One of the top items on Lily’s letter to santa was a guinea pig.

Since Santa does not deliver live animals, Matt and I set out to find one. I started looking for a Guinea Pig 2 weeks ago and could not find one anywhere within a 20 miles radius of my town! Well actually, there was one guinea pig I found at a pet store…it was 9 years old, red eyes and was missing one ear! The salesgirl said, “he’s half off”.

Yea he is… he’s only HALF there!

Matt looked to Craigslist for help and found it in a large man named Ozzie in the Bronx.

Ozzie : She’s a girl
Matt: What’s her name?
Ozzie: Eduardo

So, Eduardo the girl guinea pig made it’s way home to Lily. We decided to gift it to Lily early since her grandparents are visiting and she’d be able to enjoy and share this with them.

Lily’s face lit up when she met the guinea pig. As a parent, these are the moments when you know you got it right! It’s a super-parent moment!

Meet Cutie!

The story does not end here… Jonah the B.I.RBeast In Residence, is absolutely obsessed with Cutie. Obsessed like, does not eat, does not go outside to do his business and has not jumped on me or followed me around for 2 days.

This is what he does all day! for 2 days now!

The guinea pig likes Jonah as well. They sniff each other and the pig nibbles on Jonah’s wiskers… it’s very cute. But Jonah will not leave it’s side and sits by his cage all day and night and drools!

What to do!!! if you have any advice or experience dealing with this, please feel free to comment below. This doggie is obsessed with the guinea pig!

I just hope that with time, his obsession simmers down. Lily is loving her new friend and has been great about taking care of Cutie and cleaning out the cage..etc.

That smile… melts my cold heart!!

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Holiday Gifts that GIVE BACK – Unicef

Happy Holidays All!

As we go head first into this last week of holiday shopping, I encourage you to give to UNICEF. Look around you and all the comforts and luxuries you have.. clean water, warm homes, healthy monkeys… we are fortunate for these simple comforts that many people around the world don’t have.

I have partnered with UNICEF to bring awareness this holiday season.

DID you know:

  • UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world.
  • Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more.

This holiday season, The U.S. Fund for UNICEF – along with exclusive partners such as IKEA, Gucci and Disney by FEED – has everything shoppers need to find the perfect gifts for people of all ages.  Even better, all money raised through UNICEF’s holiday “Gifts That Give Back” program will help in its mission of reducing the number of daily, preventable deaths of children under five from 21,000 to zero.

CHeck out these fab gifts that GIVE BACK in a HUGE WAY!!!

Disney, It’s a Small World by FEED Bodysuit & Pants Set, $25.90 

For each Bib, Tee and Bodysuit & Pants Set purchased at Nordstrom or Nordstrom.com, FEED will donate $1.50, $3.00 and $3.00 respectively to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to help UNICEF provide children with an entire years worth of Vitamin A supplements.

TITTA FOLK Finger Puppet, $4.99 

From November 1 to December 24, for every IKEA soft toy or children’s book sold, the IKEA Foundation will donate one euro (approximately $1.35) to support UNICEF education programs.  IKEA stores in the United States will also continue to sell UNICEF holiday cards, donating an additional $1 per pack sold.  For more information, visit www.IKEA-USA.com/softtoy

K.I.N.D. (Kids in Need of Desks) MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell has partnered with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in an ambitious campaign called K.I.N.D.: Kids in Need of Desks to provide tens of thousands of desks to hundreds of schools in Malawi. By making a tax-deductible donation to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, you can pick one or more students up off the ground and help pave their way to a better education and brighter future. A gift of $24 can provide one student with a seat. A gift of $48 will buy a desk and bench for two students. A gift of $720 will furnish an entire class of 30.

Disney, It’s a Small World by FEED ‘Feed Our Small World’ Tote, $48.00 Available at Nordstrom or Nordstrom.com.  $10.00 for each FEED Our Small World Tote purchased will be donated to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to help UNICEF provide children with an entire year’s worth of Vitamin A supplements.

Delta SKY MILES

Delta SkyMiles® members can put their unused frequent flyer to good use by donating them to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. SkyMiles members can visit the link below for more information and to donate miles:www.delta.com/skywish

I truly hope you consider gifting your loved ones with one of these gifts that give back in a BIG way!

PLease VISIT www.unicef.org for more information and gifting options.

* I was not compensated for this post. I support UNICEF and all their amazing efforts* 

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My Holiday Gift Guide on Project YOU

Check out my latest article for the fab mag… PROJECT YOU. I wrote the holiday gift guide for your girlfriends on the last page!

 

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Most Fascinating People of 2011

Barbara Walters came out with her annual list of Most Fascinating People of 2011. The second I heard the name  K A R D A S H I A N,  I stopped listening! Ms. Walters, who I used to think of as  a legit journalist seems to be losing her mind as she’s aging!
The special, which aired on television last night was dull at its best.  I watched about 3 minutes of the Kardashian bit and had to switch channels.
So, I decided to make my own list of Most Fascinating People of 2011.
Here it is.
  1. Bronx Zoo Cobra – a nation held it’s breath..online… and engaged in days of clever humour when the reptile went missing. This savvy cobra took to twitter to give us deets on adventures and we loved it!
  2.  the 99% you know who WE are!
  3. Steve Jobs – This man has changed the world. and I can’t say that about many people in my generation. Steve Jobs is the reason I work in Social media. He has inspired and challenged the best of the best and has changed the dynamic of every aspect of our lives. and did you know.. he was adopted!
  4. Aidan Dwyer 13 Yr old -Solar energy pioneer. – This kid recognized the Fibonacci Sequence in trees and has developed a product similiar to the leaves and patterns in treetops that will aid in processing and storing solar energy! (whew!) He is going to help save the planet!
  5. Natalie Portman – Black Swan. Kudos for making dance a HUGE part of pop culture this year. Thanks to Black Swan, dance just entered the ” cool – indie- horror- psycho – awesomesauce – OSCAR ” movie catergory! I mean girl won an OSCAR with a movie about Ballet!! I loved the movie and I have a total girl crush on Natalie Portman!
I asked a few of my friends who I am fascinated by to share some of their fascinating people.
And here are the results:
*****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****
Beth Feldman writes the fab online space RoleMommy and Project You and Beyond Pr. Beth is one fierce gal who knows what’s up!
  • Steve Jobs – for giving Apple fanatics the chance to learn about his incredible life and and discover that he truly wasn’t perfect.  One of the most complex entrepreneurs and dreamers of our time.
  • Gabby Giffords – for showing us how courage, perseverance and unconditional love from her husband and family helped her survive a tragedy that nearly claimed her life.
*****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****
Rebecca Levey, is a strong advocate for education in public schools in NYC and a social media know it all. She catches her ducks and puts em in a row and keeps them there as  thoughtfully plots her takeover for education reform and the blogosphere!  @beccasara @kidvuz picked :
  • Mom Bloggers!: I mean how much more could we be in the media than this year?
*****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****
Holly Rosen Fink – @theculturemom @mamadramaNY – with her passion for the arts sittingright on her sleeve, Holly is an amazing advocate for the arts by doing the #1 thing to support theatre and dance and music… she ATTENDS shows and gives away free concert tickets on her blog to promote theatre attendance. My FIRST blogging friend and fellow Westchesterite picked :
  • Gloria Allred – for taking on Herman Cain and Anthony Weiner
  •  Melissa McCarthy –  for filling my life with laughter in “Bridesmaids”
  •  Amy Winehouse – who’s life was taken unexpectedly and who’s music shall forever stay with me.
*****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     
Amy Oztan – Selfish Mom– @selfishmom-  who for the record is SOOO not selfish. Amy is incredily generous and friendly in a sea of blogging madness! She has been such a source of info and support to me this year!
  •  Gabby Giffords and her husband  Mark Kelly. – I was at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas getting ready, when news of the shooting came on TV. I’m pretty sure I’d never heard Gabby Giffords’ name before that day. Watching her and her husband deal with all that’s happened has been fascinating. From deciding whether or not to leave his injured wife to go into space one last time (!) to Gabby returning to the House floor to cast a vote, I’ve been inspired by both of them.
*****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****
Elise Marshall Jones – @emjnj – Who is one savvy gal in many many ways. This is my Bogher 2010 buddy! I would not have survied if it wasn’t for elise!Check out her fantastic design and home decor space – Here in This House.
  • Steve Jobs: really little explanation needed other than the fact I think that he was such a difficult person to work with early on in his career really speaks to his brilliance. I mean who would of thought the man who ran around barefoot and unbathed would ever amount to, well to Steve Jobs!
  • Siri: it’s not a REAL person, but yet she is so much better than any assistant I’ve ever had!! Where has she been all my life?!?
  • Kate Middleton: she’s a princess (so few actually are) and she has revitalized the British monarch. She represents grace, style and poise in a way that our daughters need to see from a woman in the spotlight.
*****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****
Sarah O Grady   @westchesterlife – My go-to gal. Yellow tuesdays will never ever be the same without my patnah Sarah! She is a force of nature in the creative media world and she inspires me on the daily! Which I am most thankful for!
  • Sophia Grace (the girl who sang Super Bass) – what a pint sized powerhouse of talent!
  • President Obama
  • Gabrielle Giffords
*****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     
Who is on your Most Fascinating list of 2011? Share below in the comments.
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Occupy Main Street

I live in a quaint little town in the suburbs of New York City. Here in Westchester County, NY small towns line the Hudson River and nearby countryside and are bustling with local businesses and local talent and local everything.

Last night over drinks, with my friend Sarah, we were chatting with the staff of the Flying Pig in Mount Kisco, NY who told us that the rumours were true… they are closing up shop December 31! Yikes! What a shame, another great local restaurant bites the dust. But the conversation does not stop here…. I have heard that our charming “downtown” area that it such a picturesque tree lined space is also going to lose a handful of retailers … large and small … why? High rents and slumped economy. So what’s going to happen to this and other towns across the country? I don’t know!

Yes the rents are high, but the economy is low very low, can the landlords help out? Why are they raising rents when they know they are driving businesses out? If large retailers  are leaving… what’s going to happen to the small businesses and what’s going to happen to the small business owner? Truth is… even having a large retailer is better than having an empty store front. Empty store fronts tend to invite vandalism, lowers property values and drain the energy of a downtown area!

How do we influence the decisions made about our towns? 

Where to start this discussion? In keeping with the energy and momentum create by the OCCUPY WALL STREET organizers, Sarah and I talked about starting local and going global… OCCUPY MAIN STREET. You can do this in your town. Start a discussion online and see to see what changes you can influence in your neighbourhood.

We’ve started an online discussion so please join us on twitter using the hashtag #westchat and #occupymain also follow me at @pluslily and @mariacolaco and follow Sarah @westchesterlife 

Why should you care about #occupyMain ?

  1. Because our small towns are dying!
  2. Small business owners have to close up shop after years and years of being established and adding to the economic infrastructure of their communities
  3. Young entrepenuers and future small business owners are are going to be discouraged.
  4. Gone will be the oppourtunity to browse and see your neighbours , gone will be local color and conversation. In a sense gone will be the chance for the money you spend to stay in the local community.
  5. One word – STRIPMALLS! ( please no!)

In the words of Mohandas Gandhi – You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

Tell me your thoughts below!

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Wordless Wednesday with Matt Damon!

MATT DAMON!!! * Swoon*

I spent my Saturday with these fab folk. Loves it!!

Review and deets of WE BOUGHT A ZOO coming up!

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New York City Insider -Restaurant Max Soha in Morningside Heights

Matt and I love food and being in New York there is certainly no shortage of cuisine. One afternoon, Matt and I met at Morningside Heights in New York City for Lunch. He had to be at Columbia University for a class and I had just finished a meeting with one of my social media clients.

We met at a charming little spot called Max Soha. This is not on ANY tourist radar… it’s  a total NY local dining spot. Max Soha has total downtown funk… all the way uptown. In this cramped little restaurant with 10 tables, lunchers were as diverse as the menu.

Amidst business suit types and students, this new Italian restaurant was a buzz at 1pm on a friday.

The food is tremedous. I like to think of myself as an “underground” foodie. I don’t write a food column and I don’t cook very often … but I do eat at amazing places in New York and love food and truly appreciate a savory meal. I know my food people and I can pair a mean wine with your culinary selections!

Risotto with mushrooms and other yummy ness!

While we were lunching, I couldn’t help but notice that almost every table had a bottle of wine … or two at their table. That’s the way to enjoy your food!  Such a chill lunch atmosphere at the top of Manhattan!

So… you should grab your honey or your bestie and head to MAX SOHA in Morningside Heights. From the amazing food, to the funky atmosphere …it will NOT disappoint!

Max Soha is on the corner or Amsterdam and 123 in Manhattan. It’s CASH ONLY and absolutely delicious!

Let me know if you go. I’d love to hear what you thought.

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Pear Tree Greetings * Giveaway *

If you are like me… You have NOT YET ORDERED YOUR holiday cards! Yikes! Have no fear, Pear Tree Greetings is coming to the rescue!

With some of the most whimsical designs for the holidays, Pear Tree is offering one lucky reader a $50 credit towards your holiday cards. So act fast! You don’t want to keep crazy Aunt Pam waiting for her holiday cards now do you? You’ll never hear the end of it.

These ‘Photo Timeline” cards are my favortie. Skip the long dragged out christmas letter and keep it short and simple with images that go along with your highlighted stories from the year.

Pear Tree also offers an eco line of cards with fab designs and packaging that’s totally unique. check them out here—> http://www.peartreegreetings.com/

*CONTEST CLOSED* Winner is Caroline!!! Congrats GUURL!

To win the $50 credit to Pear Tree you have to do the following:

  1. Comment on this post.
  2. Tweet – @pluslily is giving away holiday cards from @peartreegrtngs enter now! Contest ends Thursday!! http://tinyurl.com/bvjqhua

So Happy Holidays everyone! 2 more weeks until christmas… you still have time!  …ready, set, go!

*I was not paid for this post – I was offered a credit to Pear Tree to order my christmas cards*

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My Favorite Holiday Windows in New York City

While all the tourists are oohing and aaahing and standing in line over at the windows at Macy’s, Bloomingdales  and Saks Fifth Avenue, a window savvy bunch of us are over at the glorious windows of Bergdorf Goodmans. Quite possibly the best kept holiday secret in NYC, on 5th and 58th, the windows at Bergdorfs are my absolute favortie. I usually skip the other windows to stare in wonderment at the BG windows.

I mean BIRDS IN COUTURE GOWNS!! Brilliant!

Each window was created using one primary type of material… wood, paper, brass, sequins..etc.

This years  theme is “Carnival of the Animals” and is a true New York holiday spectacle.

The above window was titled –  Teacher’s Pets– and was made entirely of paper! You know my obsession with paper…so clearly this was my favorite!

The”teacher’ standing in the center of the creation was wearing a black and white lace Marchesa gown. AH – MA -ZINg!

This one is called – Breaking the ice – and tells the story of a couture- mid afternoon artic party and is made of all white textiles, beads, sequins and ice crystal appliques. The window showcases a stunning Baccarat chandelier ( not photographed) and the host of the party- the lady in white – is wearing this gorgeous J. Mendel cape and dress.

Another gem – Testing the Waters. Gorgeous! This undersea fantasy is completely encrusted with hand-cut Italian mosaic tile. The single mannequin is dressed in a seashell dress from the Alexander McQueen Spring 2012 collection.

If you are planning on window gazing in New York City this season, I you MUST NOT miss the windows over at Bergdorf Goodman.  We were at the windows last weekend and there were a few local types taking in these windows. No lines no madness just brilliant holiday windows! 

I mean they’ve got BIRDS IN COUTURE DRESSES!!

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