Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pack List: Carry-on Activities for Little Girls

I really thought I mastered the carry-on for my little ones on the trip to New York. Here's what I packed--sweet and simple. It managed to keep them busy during both 4 1/2 hour plane trips as well as hotel room play. Recommended for ages 3 and up.

1. Drawing pad

2. Crayons

3. Coloring/Activity Book

4. Ipod, Itouch or other mini-movie player with a few TV shows or movies downloaded (don't forget to charge it!)

5. Polly Pockets dolls and accessories: tiny dolls and accessories that pack easily. The doll and all of her accoutrements would fit into a 4" X 5" bag.
6. One light book--one with flaps holds the attention of younger children for a longer time.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Flying Pie Pizzaria, Boise Idaho

Flying Pie Pizzaria might be the best pizza I've ever tasted. It's the kind of restaurant where you spend the entire meal wondering, what is in this? what is that flavor? what makes this so good?

Ceilings are low, dining room dark and musty--in summer it's downright muggy inside. Still, Flying Pie does a bustling business and turns out pie after tasty pie. This past August, I sat down with a solid house wine and savored an impeccable piece of veggie pizza. One qualification--the heat in the restaurant seem to gather in the center dining room and it became an unbearable inferno.

Just to the right of the main door is a horn with a sign that reads, 'Honk the horn on the way out. It means you'll spread the word about your experience at Flying Pie.' The pizza was amazing; I honked the horn and the kitchen and wait staff cheered. I hope it isn't another 7 years between visits the next time around.

Flying Pie
6508 Fairview
Boise, Idaho


4320 State Street
Boise, Idaho

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Travel Necessity: Envirosax Bags

I haven't taken a trip in the last two years without one of these beautiful and portable bags. At home they function as reusable grocery bags--on the road they have become a beach, diaper, shopping and carry-on bag. Each one can hold up to 44 lbs and fold up into a neat little 4" package.

For chronic international airport over-shoppers like my mom, Envirosax are a handy way to bring your impulse purchases onto the plane. I usually get them at Brightandbold.com (great offers make them ultra-affordable).

Here are the specs from the site:

Envirosax Bloom is the newest Envirosax 5pk set from the popular reusable bag company. The bright jewel tone colors are lively in rich hues of reds, pinks, browns, golds and oranges. Each Envirosax Bloom bag is created from durable polyester holding up to 44 pounds and has the roominess of 2 regular plastic bags!

Envirosax are printed with ecofriendly inks and dyes via a sublimation process which ensures the colorful design will not fade when washed. The matching wristlet carrying pouch measures 9" x 6" and features snaps to keep 5 rolled up bags inside.

Envirosax Bloom Bags measure 19.5" x 16.5" when open and roll up and snap shut to a very compact 4" x 1.5" when closed.Handwash recommended to extend the life of the bag.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Travel Accessory: Scarves

Photo: N. Guiraud/L'express

A scarf is one of my favorite multitasking travel accessories. I use them for all sorts of things: a blanket on the airplane, nursing cover, sunshade over the stroller, or a barrier between my child and a nasty surface. Sadly, as a Phoenix resident the scarf-wearing window is brief.

Photo: Monde d'Hermès

I'm asked with relative frequency how Parisians manage to make such a simple accessory look so chic. I've mastered a few styles myself--with some help from salespeople in Parisian departments stores and my French host families.

I found a few how-to videos to help spread the scarf-love. Remember a scarf's fabric is everything--if you can't get the look you want, try one with a different weight and texture.

For the guys (and girls), Italian rugby player Luke McLean:

I think this is the most helpful video:

Someone at anthropologie.com knows how to tie a scarf:

If you are still reading, here are some laughable scarf-tying atrocities!:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bardenay: Boise Restaurant-Distillery

When we are in Boise, we have a short list of restaurants. Near the top is Bardenay, the first restaurant-distillery in the U.S. Bardenay distills its own rum, vodka and gin on site. Its name is sailors’ slang for cocktail. The restaurant’s owner Kevin Settles describes it this way: “our food and drinks are a reflection of where we live--comforting, affordable yet somewhat sophisticated--in an Idaho sort of way.”

Bardenay’s original location is housed in a renovated warehouse with a Northwestern vibe on the Basque block in downtown Boise. It’s a relaxed yet cosmopolitan kind of spot--you kind of forget you are on a quiet street in the middle of Idaho.

Bardenay Eagle is about 15 minutes from downtown and sits on the bank of the Boise river. You can walk right around the outside and fish from the sandy banks if you have a hankering.

What’s better than a cocktail in the afternoon when you’re on vacation? The indulgence of it is so glorious. Our resident gin expert, Joe Gozdowiak, opted for a martini to “taste the purity” of Bardenay’s product. He chose the Blue Cheese-stuffed olives over the Basque-seasoned olives and gave the concoction his rousing approval. The food was fresh and delicious across the board--satay, burgers and salads.

One personal note--Bardenay’s website is all wrong-totally incongruent with the ambience of the place--look beyond it and stop in if you’re in the area.


Downtown Boise

610 Grove Street


Monday, August 9, 2010

Jaialdi: International Basque Festival

Boise, Idaho plays host to the International Basque Festival, known as Jaialdi (pronounced HI-ALL-DEE), or ‘party’ in Basque, every five years. More than 36,000 people showed up for events held between July 27 and August 1, at the Boise fairgrounds.

Basque communities from Nevada, California, Idaho, France and Spain were represented in traditional dance exhibitions and sport competitions.

We caught a part of the stone-lifting competition where participants raced to hoist 220-550 pound rocks over a pulley system as many times as possible within a given period. We watched as the weight of the stones lifted the competitor rhythmically from his feet--very entertaining.

The festival is actually more about drinking and than eating. Concession stands sold mind-boggling quantities of one of the most popular Basque cocktails, kalimotxo (callie-MO-cho), made from red wine and coca-cola. The ticket-taker advised us not to bring our kids to the romping all-night Saturday dance party, headlined by a local Basque band.

Vintage and replica wagons used by Basque sheepherders stood on the lawn of the fairgrounds and were open to walk through. While sheepherding was not a traditional profession in the old country, Basque immigrants found it worked well for their new life in America. Herders didn't have to own land or rely on their English skills to be successful.

Jaialdi was a good time in a jovial atmosphere, but probably not worth a special trip unless you want to reconnect with your Basque heritage.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mission Detox Part Two: 3 More Salad Recipes

3 More Salad Recipes

Just home from our final vacation of the summer and ready for some raw food. Here's the encore performance--three more reasonably healthy salad recipes. The ingredients for the BBQ chicken and Southwestern salad are almost the same. Any of these salads can be topped with grilled chicken or salmon. The “Just Chicken” grilled strips in TJ’s refrigerated section make adding meat easy. I'm experimenting with quinoa recipes so hope to have a tasty one up in the near future.

BBQ Chicken Salad

Bag o’ Romaine

1/2 cup sweet tomatoes

3/4 cup corn

3/4 cup black beans

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1 diced red pepper

sea salt

freshly ground pepper

avocado, sliced

BBQ sauce (diluted slightly with water)

Mix ingredients, toss with BBQ sauce to taste. I’ve seen a dressing for this type of salad made from BBQ sauce mixed with equal parts ranch dressing or BBQ sauce mixed with mayonnaise in a 2:1 ratio. Garnish with avocado.

Southwestern Salad

Bag o’salad: Romaine

1/2-3/4 cup corn

1/2-3/4 cup black beans (preferably uncanned)

1 diced red or green pepper

3 or 4 radishes, chopped

1 Avocado, sliced

sea salt

freshly ground pepper


Lazy Vinaigrette (optional)

1/2 c. crushed tortilla chips

Mix ingredients and toss with salsa to taste. Add vinaigrette for a more ‘salad-y’ flavor. Sprinkle crushed tortilla chips and place sliced avocado on top of salad. (Salad photo: Bazu)

Greek-ish Flair

Bag o’ Romaine

1/2 large cucumber, diced

3/4 cup small, sweet tomatoes

1/3 cup feta cheese

1/3 cup whole kalamata olives (optional)

5 Tbs toasted pine nuts

sliced red onion (optional)

sea salt

freshly ground pepper

Lazy Vinaigrette

Sometimes I make this salad without the lettuce. (Photo: Stephanie Levy)

Lazy Vinaigrette

The magic ratio is 3 to 1 in a vinaigrette--3 parts oil to one part vinegar. For this size of a salad, I usually toss 1 Tbs balsamic or red wine vinegar, 3 Tbs of Olive Oil with the salad and a splash of agave nectar, honey or liquid stevia to temper the vinegar. I call this version ‘lazy’ because i don’t pre-blend the dressing--just pour the liquids directly into the salad and toss.I think the French might call it heretical vinaigrette (Photo: Daveleb)

Pampered in Paris in NYLON Magazine

Here's the write-up of Pampered in Paris in the August issue of NYLON magazine. This is the best I could do with the pdf files my PR department sent over.

When a book called Pampered in Paris: A Guide to the Best Spas, Salons and Beauty Boutiques (The Little Bookroom) crossed my desk, all I could think was that the author, Kim Horton Levesque, is a genius. Book publishers, listen up: I will survey the best of everything a fabulous locale is renowned for on your dime and give it a cute alliterative title. Pampered in Paris?! How aboutPizza in Pisa? High in Humboldt?

I don’t mean to downplay Levesque’s considerable work--as a beauty editor who has been to the City of Light numerous times, I learned a lot from this book, including how to say “can you please avoid massaging the chest area?” in French, the addresses of a few beauty boutiques I’ll have to check out and treatments I never knew existed (henna spray tans?!). The spa reviews feature beautiful shots by Kristyn Moore and detailed back-stories of the spaces, plus descriptions of the treatments, which can be very useful in unfamiliar territory like, say, the largest hammam in Europe. God bless you, Kim Horton Levesque. -Holly Siegel

**It's pretty awesome how I became a beauty editor in this piece--I also like the fact that I've (only) visited Paris numerous times...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Travel Accessory: Journals

I love the way a travel journal looks and feels, even though my own follow-through with them has been pitiful. My 'journals' often end up as a compilation of to-do lists.

Sometimes I manage to fill 10 or 20 pages of a yellow legal pad with ideas and notes. When I return to the notebook some weeks or months later, the top one or two pages have disappeared. Perhaps it is the cathartic gesture of journal writing that is more important than what is actually written. At least that's what I tell myself as I rummage through stacks of loose, folded or otherwise discarded papers to recover the notes.

Anyhow, here are some cool journals I've come across.

I bought this one for Madeleine. We both love the song 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.'

A handmade reusable patchwork cover.

My kind of book: basic, classic and lined.

One-of-a-kind handmade journal