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Friday
Mar122010

Momasphere Goes Behind the Scenes with Melt Executive Chef Mark Simmons


 
By Ellen Bari

Just imagine being able to wander through the kitchen of your favorite restaurant to watch what goes on behind the scenes. The word wander might be a little misleading here, considering the size of the kitchen at Melt, but that’s just what an intimate group of Park Slope moms did on Monday night. Momasphere and Melt’s gracious owner and longtime Momasphere supporter Muguette Siem A. Sjoe, hosted a unique cooking class and dinner party with Executive Top Chef  Mark Simmons. The restaurant was closed to the public, creating an extremely relaxed atmosphere for an insider’s view of how to prepare one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, at a fraction of the cost.

The menu for the evening consisted of beer and honey braised lamb shank served with truffled polenta and charred asparagus. While seated at the elegant bar, nursing glasses of Pinot Noir, the Chef demonstrated how to prep the lamb. Being a native of New Zealand, Chef Mark has a deeper understanding of the ingredients, especially lamb, than traditionally trained big-city-bred chefs. Chef Mark maintains the unique position that “spices are the spice of life!” He believes foods must work in concert, like a symphony, where the spices play the strings, the herbs, the percussion and the vegetables make up the woodwinds.

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Thursday
Mar112010

Undomesticated Mama

 

By Paula Bernstein

      “My mom is the best cook,” my 4 ½ year-old daughter Ruby recently boasted to her buddies.

      Every mother likes to hear her child proclaim her the best of anything, but for me, Ruby’s comment was particularly satisfying. Until fairly recently, I didn’t know how to cook at all. I burned microwave popcorn and could barely decipher the directions on the Annie’s mac and cheese box. In short, I was a hazard in the kitchen and did my best to stay as far away from pots and pans as possible.

      My own mother had always served up a warm meat and potatoes meal promptly at six p.m. without complaint. But I knew from the time I was young that I didn’t want to be chained to the stove. To me, the kitchen was a trap. If I learned to cook, I feared I would have no choice but to cook. It was safer, I figured, to just never learn. Luckily, I married a domestic superman who happily shops, cleans, and cooks.

      My friends envied the fact that my husband is so helpful around the house, but I felt guilty.  Plus, my kids were beginninng to say stuff like “Dad does everything around the house.” I was beginning to get a complex about my lack of household skills. Why didn’t I let my mom teach me a thing or two about cooking? As the kids began to grow and my husband’s work schedule got busier, I soon tired of preparing the same mac and cheese every night and ordering pizza.

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Monday
Mar012010

5 Tips on New Credit Card Rules

Gail Cunningham of The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), explains how to make the most of these new legal protections in an article for "Working Mother" magazine. 

Reading your credit card statement and paying your bills has just gotten easier! The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act, commonly referred to as the CARD Act, has gone into effect, and while it may sound like industry speak on the surface, it actually means a lot to every one of us who uses a credit card every day.

Many of us have been surprised when we’ve opened a credit card statement and found we have been paying unexpected fees on top of fees and interest on interest. Some of us may have thought that by paying monthly minimums we could get ahead of the debt and instead are falling farther behind. After many complaints and new recession-prompted moves by banks and credit card issuers, Congress stepped in with The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act, commonly referred to as the CARD Act (in effect as of February 22, 2010).

To help consumers, The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) www.DebtAdvice.org explains five changes related to your credit card accounts as a result of the CARD Act, and tips to add to your smart money to-do list:

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Monday
Mar012010

Sweepstakes: Sign Up To The Momasphere List To Win Lushae Jewelry!

 

As a special thank you to Momasphere members, from March 1st through April 30th, 2010, anyone who is signed up to the Momasphere List before April 30, 2010 is automatically entered into a sweepstakes to win.

We will announce the two lucky winners in early May - just in time for Mother's Day!

We're fans of Lushae Jewelry! It is hard to tell from viewing the jewelry online, but once you see it in person it's as close to the real thing as you can get. This is because the precious and semi-precious gemstones on all of their pieces are carefully handset. If you love platinum jewelry, Lushae flawlessly achieves the look.


Let all your friends know about the sweepstakes and if you aren't signed up to the Momasphere list SIGN UP TODAY!!

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Sunday
Feb282010

How To Talk To Your Teens About Sex

 

 By Ellen Bari

One of the dads brought up the subject at a dinner party the other night.  When his daughter was in the seventh grade, she asked him and his wife a very direct and intimate question about whether they ever engaged in a particular sexual act. He categorically denied it. I was struck by his response, which I suspect was typical for the parent, but not productive for the daughter. In a room filled with parents of ninth graders, the lack of clarity about how to respond to sticky questions about sex was striking. I thought about an interesting workshop I had attended about this very topic a couple of weeks before at Babeland on Bergen Street in Park Slope.

The ’coolness’ factor of the intimate group that had gathered for How to Talk to Your Teens About Sex was tested right from the get-go. Each participant was invited to introduce herself while speaking into a 12” neon-green, hygienic silicone phallus, pretending it was a microphone. Most of the participants were parents of teenagers, but there were two basketball-bellied women who were much too young for that and seemed somewhat out of place. We quickly learned that they had miscalculated the date of the Sex, During and After Pregnancy talk but decided to join us nevertheless. It turned out that both women offered an incredible amount of insight as they were involved in educating teens AND were also not that far in age from our teenagers.

The first thing I learned is that inadvertently, teachers are often the second line of defense, and sometimes the first, on the topic of sex.  Some kids feel more comfortable talking to a teacher about an intimate subject than asking a parent. Every teacher present described situations in which students asked them for condoms, pregnancy tests and even questioned them about things they felt they could not ask anyone else, such as whether certain sexual acts were actually fun! Teen pregnancy is rampant in some inner city schools and we learned that one of the participants’ husbands, who works in a city high school, has Planned Parenthood’s number on his speed dial!

Dr. Judith Steinhart, a health and sexuality consultant and educator, led the workshop with assistance from her colleague, Ariele Le Grand, sexuality educator and meeting coordinator with Choices in Childbirth. Dr. Steinhart’s unique combination of warmth and expertise facilitated an interesting and personal dialogue, despite the fact that Babeland remained open to its customers throughout the evening. I noticed that some of the casual shoppers were intrigued by our discussion. In fact, I got into a conversation on my subway ride home with a thirty-something shopper who was inspired to reflect upon her own experience of talking to her mother about sex.  Who doesn’t have a story about dealing with her mom about sex? It seems like an easy subject to talk about it at this distance, however every woman in the group reported having had to fend for herself when it came to getting information.

That was then, and this is now. Or so it would seem. But it became clear that even hip Park Slope moms did not find it so easy to talk to their children about sex. The topic is so deep and complex that it is hard to cover in an hour’s talk, but I think Dr. Steinhart conveyed 3 strong messages:

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