I SPY: Shop Till You Drop

Nov 28, 2014

Are you crazy enough to camp out overnight to be first in line for BLACK FRIDAY specials?  No way Jose!  But definitely will take advantage of sales online.  Thats my saving grace.  What did we do before internet shopping?  Can't remember!

Do you have a long Christmas list?  I have a huge family, my list is endless, and the final bill can be outrageous!  So I would be STUPID not to save some bucks on Black Friday.  But I'm not penny pinching enough to fight the crowds, risk getting a black eye and freeze my butt off just to catch a sale.  Thats not my cup of tea.  However I'm sure the experience could be one to talk about forever, eh?  Just like when the 1st iPhone came out in summer 2007 I stood in line for 3 hours with my two year old son who thankfully napped majority of the wait time in his stroller.  The one and only time I've been so desperate for anything!  What can I say?  That was back in my younger days when I was crazier!  HA.

Here is a list of what I'll be clicking on from my safe haven hopefully for a bargain on Black Friday.

**Note to my family: Please STOP reading now so your gift is a surprise!

The most difficult person to shop for! I've got to go to ABC Carpet & Home to find her something unique.  Best store ever for home stuff.  REALLY!  But the website doesn't do the store justice.  Have to visit in person.  Along with her gift I'll include a food basket of healthy goodies.  First up my recent discovery Vegetable & Smoked Paprika Quinoa and Sofoo rice found at Wholefoods.  Delicious!

Another person who has everything he wants!  I just got one of these for myself, in hopes that I don't have to travel with my big camera anymore.  Pretty nifty I must say.  Clips onto your smartphone and turns it into a 30x zoom camera.  Total boy toy!  Does he have this already?  I'll need to investigate!

She loves everything in my closet!  So she's getting a pair of my favorite slip on sneakers I bought earlier in Fall.  

One loves to play chess.  This is a good looking set.  Otherwise I will check out Orvis since he is a big hunter.  My other bro hmmm…he is very much a Berluti snob.  An expensive fashionista!  All I can afford for him from there is a tie.  Along with a cheaper pair of socks.  But cashmere!  HA.  I like a man with a good sock.

My standard gift.  Boring but it's looked forward to yearly because they LOVE it.  Photo books and calendars including photos of my kids through out the year made by Shutterfly.

William Sonoma muffin pan with cover + cholesterol free flax seed muffin mix from Patisserie Salzberg a local bakery in my hood.  Tried and tested.  Especially yummy when you mix in craisins and walnuts.  Easy to make and I like the muffin pan with cover because you can leave muffins in there to store or transport.

Patisserie Salzburg
T: (914) 921. 4458

Girlfriends, Girl cousins, Teenage girls all need this!  Younique fiber lash mascara.  I've talked about this before.  It's a genius product.  I love it so much and believe in it so I became a presenter!

Remember how this once saved my life?  Everyone needs one for when your phone is running out of juice, which just seems to be happening all the time doesn't it?  Which of course never happens when your near a wall outlet!  This gadget should not be just reserved for guys on my list.  But since I'm limited to what I can buy for a guy and feel like I need to give something techy this is my #1 gift for all men this year!

Something for the home.  I've been seeing this Stendig bold calendar in many Swedish homes featured in editorial lately.  It's a statement piece.  I want one!

A difficult age to shop for right?  Sephora has a Benefits Cosmetics Advent Calendar.  Love this because it's the perfect mix of kiddie slash grown up!  Perfect gift for my tween nieces.

If they're into their music, iPhone and looking cool then a pair of headphones is the fashion accessory to have.  Beats are popular and come in a rainbow of colors.  Or Flips which my son wants, because he can plug it into his drum set to listen while he plays, but if he has an audience who wants to hear his drumming he can remove headphones, flip the ear piece and it becomes instant speakers.  Even I think this is cool!

KIDS age 4-10 years:
At this age they're usually into Lego.  The Lego advent calendar is awesome with a Star Wars boys set and a Friends girls set.  Both my boys have been doing this for the past few years.  A new set comes out every year so they look forward to it.  Only thing is that the advent calendars should be given early so they can start it before Christmas.  Otherwise any lego set would be welcomed left under the tree to be saved and opened on Christmas day.

KIDS age 3 and under:
I love Melissa & Doug wooden sound puzzles.  My kids loved playing with them especially the puzzles with sounds.  Good quality solid toys that hold up, and educational.  Also if they're into cooking this is an awesome sushi set, that my kids loved to play with and 10 years later still gets pulled out for imaginary play.  My niece is getting this along with a personalized chef costume!

Fika a Swedish coffee shop in NYC makes these amazing truffle balls.  ADDICTIVE!   My favorite flavors are salted caramel, goat cheese, pistachio.  Buy a box of 6, 12 or 24 online.  Otherwise have you heard of Royce Chocolate?  A japanese brand of chocolate that is DIVINE.  You know the Japanese do everything the best!  Try the Nama Chocolate or the Chocolate Potato Chips.  I purposely stay away from this store because it is so-o-o DANGEROUS!  Bring them to the next dinner your invited to and be a winner!

Sometimes a family gift makes life easier and more cost effective.  For families who've just had their #1 child I like to give Elf On The Shelf to start them off to a new tradition for the next holidays.  Last year I was gifting many Smore's kits, since during winter my boys and I love to sit around the table and do that.  This year I'm giving this.  They say it's Danish, I know it as Dutch Poffertjes!  Wherever it originates from they're super YUM, easy to make, and kids love them for breakfast.  Buy the mix too and include it with the pan, which makes a nice gift.  Board games are also good to keep the family engaged.  The new game I'm getting this year for a few families on my list is this act it out game for ages 8 and up that looks fun.  The simpler version for kids under 8 years is this where you use words to describe who you are instead of miming.  We have the younger version which my lil' guy definitely enjoys playing.  A good ice breaker for play dates too!

So thats my check list!  Ready to SHOP till you drop?  It's a chore, I know.  But I hope I've given you some ideas to start you off on the right foot.  Get moving!  Might as well tackle it now and check it off your list.  GOOD LUCK!

I SPY: Put a Bird On It

Nov 27, 2014

Snow day?  Yesterday we had our 1st winter sprinkle.  Rain that turned into SNOW and back into rain.  Unfortunately not enough snow for the kids to play in.  Bet roads were miserable and airport delays off the charts due to the poor weather.  Feel bad for the NY holiday travelers, but so typical of this time of year.  I hope they were hooked up to Serial for entertainment!!

Irregardless we were prepared for a indoor snow day.  Kids had the day off school, and we made the most of it, minus playing in snow.  Besides the usual board games, hot cocoa, family movies, non stop munching etc. I had the kids make lunch!  Of course in theme with THANKSGIVING.  Inspired by this blog.  Found where else?  My favorite - Pinterest!  HA.

Isn't my eldest sons Picasso inspired turkey clever?  I thought so!  Do you make pizza at home?  It's really easy if you buy the dough pre-made, and also makes a great unisex play date activity.  The lil' Princesses who occasionally come over to ours tend to not be enthralled in our huge star wars, gun and sword collection!  I don't blame them!  Hence why we usually end up making pizza or cupcakes before boredom sets in.  

One of our most memorable - Our Angry Bird Masterpiece!  Hello Throwback Thursday!  GOSH my lil' one was tiny! Awww. 

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?  I'm thankful for all the great memories my kids have given to me.  From one bird to another HAPPY TURKEY DAY!  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Gobble on!

I SPY: Serial Podcast

Nov 26, 2014

Do you listen to Podcasts?  I'm a newbie at this new era of radio journalism.  Never had the desire to discover what all the PODCAST hype is about.  Until yesterday while walking Eddy my song playlist started to irritate me because it's the same ole' list on repeat.  Needs to be badly updated - project number I don't know when I have time!  Anyways in search for something on my iPhone while swiping away I saw the Podcast icon I've never dared to touch.  Clicked on it and immediately my life has changed!  SERIAL was the 1st Podcast on the list, so decided to start there and now I'm soooo addicted!  Is this a good thing?  HA.

Curious?  Plug in.  Join the addiction so we can chat about it!  All I want to do is listen to Serial and follow the story to find out how it unfolds.  The whole season is about one continuous mystery.  A true story.  Delivered weekly that you can subscribe to.  Started last month in October so I have some serial-ously catching up to do!  There is a reason why it's rated #1 most popular podcast in the USA.  You'll see!

Those of you traveling this Thanksgiving holiday weekend get hooked up.  It's great listening on the go - waiting in airports, stuck in traffic, at the gym, passing time and tuning kids out.  When ever.  Where ever.  Got iPhone?  Or computer?  Then you got Serial!


I SPY: 360 All Stars

Nov 25, 2014

When was the last time you were at the theatre?  Movie theaters don't count!  Every year I take my kids to see a live performance.  My attempts to instill some culture in them!  Last year we saw Spiderman Turn Off The Dark on Broadway.  Can't believe they shut down in NYC shortly after.  The year before we saw Gazillion Bubble Show.  Still going strong and highly recommend it for all ages.  This past weekend we caught 360 All Stars.

Photo Credit: http://judithwrightcentre.com/event/360_allstars

Heard about it?  It's a very cool show filled with so much TALENT run by a team of seven guys.  Not just reserved for kids!  How can you not be caught open mouth by a dude dribbling five basketballs, and who can spin two basketballs on top of each other on one finger?  Not all at the same time!  But still you try that!  Not easy tricks.  The bike tricks, breakdancing, and acrobats were equally just as over the top AMAZING.

Photo Credit: http://judithwrightcentre.com/event/360_allstars

Photo Credit: http://judithwrightcentre.com/event/360_allstars
Think a modern twist on circus tricks, dance, street arts and music.  High energy, interactive and funny.  All set to live music with a DJ that made the coolest beats and sound effects, and a drummer who could play keyboard and drum at the same time.  That takes some coordination, huh?!  My kids were in awe.  I know my eldest was eyeing the drummer and bike tricks.  My lil' guy couldn't refrain from bopping his head to the music through out the show, and of course he had to try breakdancing moves when he got home.  Almost had to bust out his helmet!

Catch it if you can.  Only in NYC till November 30.  Otherwise follow the tour here.  It may be coming to your town.  Just please remind the kids DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.  Dunno about yours - But mine are crazy enough to attempt!  HA.

Buy Tickets

I SPY: Stuffing The Turkey

Nov 24, 2014

Have you started preparing for Thanksgiving?  We did a different kind of preparation.  Stretching our belly to the max in preparation for all the soon to come holiday eating!  We kicked off this weekend with a stuff ourselves silly BRUNCH at Root & Bone.  OH MY GOSH.  Proved to be natural pigs by nature!  HA.  

We had the pre-fix menu.  Was served everything on this menu.  I repeat EVERYTHING!

Worth it?  TOTALLY!  I love my Southern home cooking.  Flaky biscuits, deviled eggs soaked in beet juice, succulent fried chicken, short rib meat loaf that tasted like beef hash with poached egg were all my top faves.  Salads were tart and good to balance out your palette from all the grease.  But with so much food coming out non stop, we soon realized that we were wasting belly space eating salad!  Had to still save room for dessert.  Pecan pie and Red Velvet cake were winners.  They also make a mean Bloody Mary.  SPICY.  Only down - Buttermilk Pannacotta.  A waste of calories in my opinion!

Atmosphere is homey and cozy down in Alphabet City.  Check out the bar.  Their beer tap had antler and bone handles.  How cool is that?  If you enjoy comfort food this is the place to be to feed your soul some love.  As the sign outdoor the restaurant says - 'Stay warm, eat chicken'.  Their fried chicken is definitely a crowd pleaser, which you can smell from across the street.  You can't resist!  Will definitely be ordering that again and must try the mac & cheese, pork belly and key lime pie the next time.  See? Already finding reason to stuff the turkey again!

Root & Bone
200 E. 3rd Street
New York, NY 10019
T: (212) 682. 7080

I SPY: The Heat Is On

Nov 21, 2014

Ever tried Bikram yoga?  Basically it's YOGA fired up to 90 degrees.  I've just tried it for the first time thanks to a push of a friend.  Surprisingly I came out lovin' it!  I didn't think I would of going in, because I was scared that I would feel claustrophobic in a steamy room.  But you don't!  It's not even steamy inside, so your not standing in thick air as I imagined.  There is ventilation in the room which you can feel.  The heat is actually therapeutic, and makes it easier to get into poses.  The sweating I could do without because I come out looking like a HOT mess!  HA.  But in our lovely NY frigid temperatures it's nice to get warmed up and sweating is good for the pores.

Need to warm up?  Try this.  The studio near me also offers hot barre and hot pilates classes.  These are two methods of exercise I've been religiously doing for years, but I'm interested to try a little modification in the heat to compare the difference.  I want to keep up the hot yoga during winter.  I found hot yoga to have triple benefits - get stretched, mini facial and relieves water retention.  I walked out feeling 5 pounds lighter!  Even if it's just psychological benefits, its an automatic LOVE.

Yoga Sparks
490 Mt Pleasant Avenue
Mamaroneck, NY 10543
T: (914) 630. 4988

I SPY: Christmas Stockings

Nov 20, 2014

Looking for Christmas stockings?  I've been hunting online for something unique and kind of gave up.  Everything I saw was very ornate, glitzy, furry or too generic.  But I stumbled upon my perfect ones today!  Guess where?  Of all places - In Grand Central Terminal train station at the store Cursive!  I almost missed my train because I got distracted by these stockings in the store window!

Different?  These stockings are made by a Brooklyn based company Coral and Tusk.  They're  embroidered linen stockings.  Even though its machine embroidered it still looks delicate.  I was mostly drawn to the tasteful motifs that aren't overly cutesy or fussy, and love the clean look of linen.  Plus they're affordable.  Under $100!  These are some other stocking designs available.

Check out Coral and Tusk online shopping website and browse their lookbook.  Their home accessories are modern, and simplistic with a rustic charm.  Especially cute pillows, quilts, framed embroidery artwork for kids rooms.  Not forgetting to mention their Teepee's.  Did you see them in the lookbook?  Go and look.  This Brooklyn team really has good stuff!

I SPY: Bathroom Break

Nov 19, 2014

Are home renovations ever hassle free?  I feel like something always goes wrong.  Either the project goes over schedule, over budget, you didn't order enough of something, or your waiting endlessly for a part.  Well finally our glass shower door arrived!  My kids bathroom is DONE.

LIKE?  My oldest has started collecting rubber ducks!  There was a girl in his class last year who had a collection of over 70+ ducks.  He is far away from out doing her!

Here are the vendors for the accessories.

Light Fixture:


Towel Hooks:


Vanity + Sink:


Shower Head + Faucet:




The bathroom needs some color right?  Whimsical artwork could add life.  I'm thinking a cluster of inspirational quotes, kid friendly images, typographics and patterns hung something along these lines.  YES?  One day.  That search is another project in itself!  For now I need to take a breather.  I'm just happy the bathroom is fully functional now.

Photo Credit: blog.uncovet.com

I SPY: Beyond A Chia Pet

Nov 18, 2014

Are you lactose intolerant?  Problem solved.  One tablespoon of CHIA has more calcium then a glass of milk!  Chia is a known power seed that has more antioxidants then blueberries and more Omega 3's then salmon.  Loads of benefits.  How could you go wrong by adding this to your diet?  The only ways I know how to add CHIA to a meal is sprinkled over a salad, mixed in a smoothie or into muffin batter.  Get's pretty BORING!  But I must say these store bought Chia Chips are addictive and the kids LOVE them thrown in their lunch bag or on the go, and we haven't got tired of them yet.  If your on the same lost path as us and are craving ch-ch-ch-Chia, here are some other appetizing ways of including Chia in your meals for the kids and adults.

We eat mangoes like there is no tomorrow in this house!  This would be the perfect snack, or even breakfast.   Looks like a good balance of sweet and tart.


Photo Credit: Blissfulbasil.com

So clever!  An easy winner with the kids.  Good to have stored in the freezer as a treat.


Photo Credit: Skinnytaste.com

Yum look at that!  It's so pretty don't you think?  Can be our new smoothie replacement.


Photo Credit: Greenkitchenstories.com

Instead of using breadcrumbs as a binder, use Chia seeds.  Spaghetti and meatballs just got a whole lot healthier!  Or here's an Asian spin on meatballs with chia seeds.


Photo Credit: Domesticate-me.com

Who would've ever thought that Chia seeds could get more creative then a Chia Pet plant?  Try one of these recipes.  I challenge you!

I SPY: Killer Heels

Nov 17, 2014

What's bad-ass in your closet?  SHOES?  Over the weekend I finally made it to Brooklyn Museum to check out the KILLER HEELS exhibition that opened back in September.  WOW!  Fashion worthy.  PROMISE.  Now I understand what everyone was raving about!

The exhibition takes you back into the history of the heel to present time.  You will see the evolvement and shifts of heels in fashion over time, and how heels have always been an important accessory.  It was unfortunately too dark inside to photograph.  So instead I've pulled some images from Brooklyn Museums webpage to allure you to go and want to see more!

Chinese Machu Womans shoes/ Photo Credit: Sarah DeSantis 
Christian Louboutin/ Photo Credit: Jay Zukerkorn

Roger Vivier/ Photo Credit: Jay Zukerkorn

Salvatore Ferragamo/ Photo Credit: Art Resource, NY

United Nude/ Photo Credit: Jay Zukerkorn

Walter Steiger/ Photo Credit: Jay Zukerkorn

Winde Rienstra/ Photo Credit: Jay Zukerkorn
You think you could walk in those heels?  Not me!  I would fall flat on my face!  See those super sharp Louboutin stilettos?  They look like they would make a good self defense weapon!  HA.  As absurd as some designs are they are really amazing works of art.  These are the kind of shoes I wouldn't mind having tossed around in a mess on display by my front door!  The exhibition is on till February 15, 2015.

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11238
T: (718) 638. 5000

I SPY: Man Caught Preggers

Nov 14, 2014

What?!?  No I'm not on drugs.  He was!  BBC news reported this week that a man asked to undergo drug testing got his wife instead to do the pee test for him.  They called him up and said 'Congratulations your pregnant'!  HILARIOUS!!!  Read the article it deserves a LOL.  Hope this starts your weekend off to a good LAUGH!

Photo Credit: http://www.theluxuryspot.com/man-pregnancy-pregmancy/funny-men-beer-babies-2/

I SPY: Reinventing The Pumpkin

Nov 13, 2014

What you gonna do with that big fat PUMPKIN?  Don't chuck it!  Even though we've packed up our Halloween garb, and fast forwarded to Christmas in our house I couldn't allow myself to throw away all our pumpkins just yet.  They're still in good shape!  If you don't like your things to go to waste then look at these creative ideas found on Pinterest.  The basic pumpkin can be REINVENTED to make fabulous Thanksgiving and Fall decor around your home.  Pretty nifty!  Also makes a nice gift for the hostess.  HINT!

Photo Credit: http://www.betterrecipes.com/blogs/daily-dish/2012/11/19/chalkboard-pumpkins/

Photo Credit: www.CherylStyle.com
Photo Credit: www.topinspired.com
Photo Credit: http://luxehappens.com/diy-succulent-pumpkins/
Photo Credit: www.apumpkinandaprincess.com
Photo Credit: www.thenymelrosefamily.com
Photo Credit: http://fitmommydiaries.blogspot.com
Photo Credit: www.brightsettings.com
Photo Credit: www.brightsettings.com
Photo Credit: http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com
Did I get your creative juices flowing?  Most ideas look SIMPLE.  Go for it!  Make one of these a family project this weekend.
i * SPY CANDY. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.