Thursday, January 13, 2011

See: How to Balance Life and Work if you Must Work

One of our readers emailed me about how I am able to so perfectly balance life, to manage the tension between working, having kids and a husband, keeping my skin luminous and making sure that my legs stay insurable.  I know that this is something that every woman thinks about.  I thought it would be helpful if the busiest moms I know shared what a typical day looks like in their lives.  So, Miranda Sage Pulling, a successful high-yield bond trader and mother of six (wait til you see her breakfast lottery system! ) and Plush de Vignette Saucey, architect and designer of Soho Inn’s rooftop facial bar and mother of three year old triplets share their secrets.  I was amazed by some of their ideas and learned more about how I, too, could manage, even add to my already out of control life.
Love,
Poog


Miranda Sage Pulling
on January 6, 20112

Out of control, tired, bossy and always in charge!
As a manic mother of six (ages 1-8), lusciously hot wife to my husband and full time bond trader I can tell you that life can be dicey even on the best of days.   I am a partner at Schmidt, Plotnick, Farmer, Dixson and Bates, a trading firm based in Greenwich, Connecticut.  I balance my job there with my volunteer chairing of the United Stitchers Union, a non-profit dedicated helping the less fortunate knitters of the world. I also head up my childrens’ school’s Capital Campaign and run a shelter for road kill victims that don’t quite die.  Clearly I have to manage my time and the time of the people around me carefully. For the greater good. Here are some tops:

1.     Start early: if you spend a third of your 24 hour day sleeping you will sleep away a third of your life.  I wake up at 4:47 every morning and meet my Tai Kwon Do instructor.  This way, I can learn an ancient martial art while learning to protect myself from random violence.   Because I’ve set up the monitor in our home gym to display my email, I am able to read as I kick or swipe at things.  It’s really fun because I got the great idea that if I set up a touch screen “delete” button that I can kick as part of my routine that I can shave at least 17 minutes off of my dedicated mail reading time later. If I can get a few good chops and kicks in before 6 am I am a much better mother and wife for breakfast.

2.     Breakfast: set up a lottery system. With six kids I realized early that I couldn’t please everyone or even try to meet their individual needs and food preferences. So, taking into account our second and third children’s wheat and dairy allergies, I set up a food lottery system. My housekeeper fills seven cupboards with easily prepared breakfast foods (whole grain cereal, soy milk, gluten free pastries, peelable fruit) that the whole family can make and eat (even a two year old can pour milk if you teach them early and don’t mind a bit of the mess for the housekeeper to clean up later).  We filled a jar with all of our names and each day one person’s name is picked out of the jar. That person gets to pick the cupboard and get the food.  Being able to outsource the thought process and actual preparation of breakfast is key to starting the day.

3.     Appearance: the best time saver ever is an airbrush for makeup, which ensures that my make up application is impeccable.  Although it takes 45 minutes to an hour to apply my make up, it's worth the fact that I end up not having to reapply all day and look photofinished.  Because we all know that the smarter you are or the more successful, the better you have to look so that when you are dealing with men (and I am in an industry heavily dominated by men) that they aren’t threatened.  I’m all for equality and strive to live my life as a good example for my sons and daughters, but it’s just not nice to unsettle men for no good reason.

4.     Get yourself an assistant: even if you don’t have as much as I do to do you really should consider a good assistant. I could not manage without one. She prepares my calendar (including kids stuff! THANK YOU, BARB), syncs my electronics, handles my dry cleaning, brings in the manicurist when I forget.  This could also be called delegating. 

5.     Schedule everything: if you don’t schedule it chances are it won’t happen.  Barb makes sure that special mommy time is always on the agenda.  Once in a while one of my kids will ask if I can read a book or bake something with them and I always say yes, just put it on mommy’s schedule honey. You just can’t let those moments slip by in the rush of the day.

6.     Be firm: sometimes, when things get really out of control, the kids can get a little stressed and cranky. Just know that it will all work out.  Kids don’t always know what’s good for them.

7.     Family dinner: keep some perspective.  I know what studies say about families that eat together and I say “Baloney” that’s just a reflection of some other dimension of a families values. It has nothing to do with actually sitting together and sharing a meal for some part of the day. So, every day, I prepare a series of pithy messages and lessons that get typed up on the most beautiful hand-printed paper. These precious slips of knowledge get packed into bio degradable snack bags that my children take to soccer, lacrosse, hockey, piano, violin, guitar, football, ballet, photography, oil painting, robotics and Chinese  between school and bedtime.

Things That Make My Life Truly Superior

  • 1.     A house in the south of France.
  • 2.     Staff
  • 3.     Getting a Thai massage while I watch my favorite movie, Eat, Pray, Love.
  • 4.     Regular sessions with the children’s therapist.
5.  

Plush de Vignette Saucey 
on December 12, 2010

God! Was so hung over this morning when my kids came in to snuggle! “Mommy!” screamed Bella, “I just vomited into Liam’s crib.”  So much for easing into the day. “Bettina! “ I yelled to the nanny, who showed up and dragged the kids off to school where, poor dears, they have to go. I realized though that she had no idea that my new building had gone up right next to the children’s school and so I leapt out of bed. Ow. My head just killed me.  I had to make sure though that the models I had made for the kids out of lego would get to the school. Brand building never sleeps you know.  I rushed down into the kitchen in a frightful mess, carrying an overly large bag of models for them to distribute at school. I realized immediately that their breakfast was remarkable ecru-looking and nutritious, thanks to the efforts of Cook. Thanks, Cook! Get the kids out of the door with nanster and head back up to find my husband
Macilthwaite.  But, alas, he was already downstairs on the elliptical, heavenly hunk that he is, so I was going to have to wait til lunch to say good morning.  No interrupting.  My days become so busy that this time with the family in the morning is the best and most important.  It’s especially important on weekends when the children ad Macilthawaite have outings. I would love to be able to go with them. But I can’t. For example, on Saturday, when they are going to Regent’s Park for a picnic, I have a meeting with Dior,  It’s a hard-core appearance design session were we’re going to discuss incorporating  aspects of their fall fashion line into the external lines of their new flagship store.  Opps! Clearly am saying too much. Poog readers hold your tongues!  Oh! The car is here. Damian Hirst is going with me for the session. He is such a sport.  We haven’t worked together before, but I used his formaldehyde formula when I preserved the first organic brick from the construction site for Elle MacPherson’s Harbour Island retreat. Opps. Said to much again. My bad. We are planning (Elle and I, NOT Damian and I) to create a replica of the house and install it in the Tate’s Turbine room as an exploration of consumerism and fashion in high heat contexts that defy traditional concepts of performance art. A sort of ephemeral modernist take. The drinks will be yummy.  I hate it when cocktails are bland. Don’t you. I mean, just last week, when I presented my ideas for the royal wedding barge party to Kate and William we gagged on the awful drinks they were serving. I mean, really, how hard is it to hire a good bartender.  Sir Elton, really he is like my uncle, knows this wonderful tranny, Lea, who makes a whiskey sour that would set you on fire.  I hate fires. So damaging.  Back home now, just in time to drain the little piglets’ tub and tuck them in.  We jump on the bed together and then it’s tuck time. I insist on bedtime being non-negotiable because I firmly believe that all children want their parents to be firm and not their friends. Kind of sad, really.  Quick pecks and then of to a quick dinner with Poog.  Can’t wait!


POOGs day on October 2, 2010

When I got up this morning at 10 it was clearly a snow day. No school for the young’uns (have retained some of my film’s accent, so fun).  They were already up and blissfully ensconced in the home gym. Pear can now do the entire routine to my Fit in Five cd from memory! She is such a precocious 4 year old and I am a proud, but busy mommy. So busy that when my egg poacher failed I almost had a nervous breakdown. This is the sort of truth that people rarely talk about when discussing work life balance: how close to the edge of madness we all are. It’s true. I’ve said it. I know that I realized this before I even had the children.  Just the thought of having them took me to a precipice and this is how I came to find Oolong Chang.  So, here is my secret: No matter how horribly busy my day gets with workouts, line readings, hair dying, workouts, food reviewing, dressing the kids properly, I make time for Oolong Chang – my personal grounder.  Three times a day I seek him out, he stares me in the eyes (we bought him a great pumice stone to stand on, and it’s so light) and he says to me “You are fine. You are fine. You are fine.”  After repeating this mantra back to him three times, I take a deep breath and am on my way. Now I know that not everyone can have their own personal grounder with pumice stone dias, but I highly recommend getting one if at all possible. 

A GOOP Spoof/A GOOP Parody


Thursday, October 7, 2010

POOGS Favorite Food Blogs For Janet: See

One of my absolutely favorite pastimes is sharing with you, total strangers who might appreciate my fabulous experiences.  This list of below is the result of many grueling nights, wrapped in cashmere, sipping a warm toddy, perusing literally thousands of food blogs. Here are my favorites:

Foggy Doggy
For six years, Mike Jenson, has been blogging about cooking gourmet dog biscuits and cocktails in his well-appointed, but tiny Shoreditch studio.  Some of the recipes he features, actually all of them, are riduculously complicated and involved hard to find and expensive exotic components, like distillation of sumac.  The main ingredient that sets these doggy treats apart however, is the special brew of home made vodka that he adds to each and every biscuit (hence the eponymous Foggy Doggy). But, the results are out of this (doggy) world. Mike's shaggy dog storytelling style and heartfelt desire to share his hard work to spare us some are genuinely endearing. My favorite post, "How to turn a Bucket of Rotten Potatos in the Perfect Canine Cosmo" makes me ever to eager to find him a book publisher whose design department is good enough to create a coffeetable book of his recipes that I can feature on POOG.

Frank Bites
For starters, this is one of the most profoundly beautiful food blogs out there. Frank Abouzeidiemetelschmidt is a videographer, food stylist and tumblr who travels around the world even though you can't. His videos are fast-paced, cutting edge artistic interpretations of what food would look like if it moved on its own. His edgy filming of flash fried Vishnatha spinach is the best visual interpretation of flash fried Vishnatha spinach that I've ever seen. And, just when I thought that he's reached the acme of videotaping food production, he surprised me with his "Souffle in Slow Motion," a Muybridge-like short that makes you want to reach out and at least touch, if not taste, the screen.

Crepes and Cretins
Sometimes it's hard to remember that even people who are not too bright like good food. And Crepes and Cretins has come along just at the right time to remind the rest of us that they do.  Their blog entries are short, practical and include everday ingredients to make simple, everyday food for simpletons.  Most of the recipes are creative redos of timeless classics such as thyme scrambled eggs (add thyme), gourmet Hawaiian pizza (add pineapple), nutella and strawberry crepes (add nutella and strawberrys to your crepes) and garlic roasted chicken (add garlic). It's no surprise that their entries read like short stories taken straight from the pages of The Joy of Cooking.

Limb-Ho!
Tiny Limb's blog is not a food blog, but a blog about people who love food. It's fun because she doesn't care what they're eating but instead focuses on what they look like while they eat because, after all, who wants to look at someone unattractive scarf down dinner. She is first a foremost my favorite dining stylist (she styled my last dinner party and it was the BEST looking I've ever had).  When you are looking for someone to make your dinner party sparkle with fabulous looking guests think of Limb.

What Janet Eats
See Janet eat.  This text over action photojournal of Janet and her favorite foods is not to be missed for their unique and wonderful take on Janet and her food preferences styled circa Goodhousekeeping 1974. We forget how challenging the creation and provision of fun and yummy food for the family was women in the early 70s as they faced the rising tide of the effects of the sexual revolution and blouses that knotted into really ugly bows at the neck. What Janet Eats takes us back to that time with none of the cultural baggage, leaving us with beautiful images of food against time-treasured backdrops of avocado coloured kitches and faux wood panelled dining rooms. She uses tried-and-true 70s food to create edible historic montages.

Madagascar Spice
Blues Jennas is a food writer, fashion illustrator and writer who grew up in an English tea house in what was once Bombay. A few years ago, she began experimenting with creating delicious dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, peanut-free high afternoon teas, an effort that unfortunately failed, but fortunately resulted in her marvelous blog relating her seven year trials and tribulations. Each attempt is worse than the next in terms of taste, but the photography is beautiful and the Haikus and illustrations that accompany each recipe will make you cry. I especially love her discription of the dairy-ree, sugar-free, gluten-free, peanut-free cranberry scone:

Small juicy berries
Drifting in empty bowls
Filled by nothingness

Just Like Moms
Making dinner every night has been women's work for...ever. But now, thanks to a dad that makes dinner, we get to learn about how challenging it is to work and go home to create beautiful, nutritious and fun meals for the family even when you're exhausted, don't want to,. have not ingredietns and have a husband, or wife in this case, that works out of the house. Yet somehow Amir Toff manages to do just that with grace and humor and his iPhone.  His intrepid ordering of exotic take out is chronicled in the voice and via the charming antics of his humourously renamed wife and sons: Intrepid, Explorer and Sunshine. His menu links are fabulous (all you need for dinner is a PDF reader! Acrobat's 9.0 downloadable version is free). His mantra at the close of every post, "Why should I cook?" seems pretty good to me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Go: Barthelona Redux

Friends, Frienemies,
This just in: Barthelona ith awethome. I say this in no way to make fun of Barcelonitos, but to genuinely reflect the tension inherent in Catalan life. Since coming to Barthenona on Saturday  I have had the pleasure to see the city through the eyes of die-hard Catalans, who have been forced for centruries to speak in the false lisp of their Castillian oppressors. Despite this handicap Barcelonitos are in the avant garde of bioorganic food production. This may seem like a small victory, but it's not. The ability to create slightly tasteless but theoretically healthy food in a culture that values frighteningly tastel-but insanely bad-for-you food is a major vindictive coup.
Today's featured establishment (no, we are not getting free muffins), Barcelona Reykavic, is an all natural bakery just off of the Carrer Pintor Fortuny. It lives up to it's reputation as the city's leading Slow Food movement organic bakery.  The xocolate muffin is tough but tastey and the plantanos, despite being virtually inedible, are amazing. Nearby, local Biotherm Cafe serves the only vegetables that are not fried as tapas in a 20 mile radius. Their small plates are expensive, but you have the comfort of knowing that anything green has actually been imported from the victory garden at Eton. Just knowing that witty, weathly scions of the British aristocracy walked by these veggies makes you sigh in relief.

I would be remiss not to mention the terribly shallow art scene. MACBA is stunning and never open and local contemporary galleries elusive. This is the best way to experience cutting edge art - with longing. This longing captures the essence and effemerality of ideas. The longing itself is the point. To actually see the art, or to experience it, is SO passe. Barthelona captures this zeitgeist as no other city does.

Adios, mi amigos.
POOG

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Be: The Karma Doctor

Hello friends,
Many of you have recently written with excellent ideas indoor wintery fun.  I thought I would compile some of these and add my own personal favorites to share with you here.
Snow ho!
Poog

A Visit From the Karma Doctor
Lots of busy women I talk to make good use of their trapped inside time by making doctor's appointments for the year. Everything from dentists and dermotologists to allergists and personal trainers. However, few make time for a regular visit to the Karma Doctor.  My Karma Doctor makes house calls and can always anticipate when a full-family snow day visit is necessary. It has nothing at all to do with my crying, but rather with his innate sense of when all of us need a better sense of where we came from, where we are and where we are going. Some people thing that it's impossible to minister to one's karma, but they're haters.  Marylebone's own Dr. Ben Gideon Smalley comes with everything he needs - a sharp brain, nicely trimmed finger nails, a melifluous voice and a karmic wisdom of the ages.  The first thing he does is make everyone in the family wear nude colored body suits, sit, breathe, hold hands and kiss. That small act enables all of us to calm down and smell the roses. I always make sure before a snow storm to buy several dozen roses and you should, too. The second thing he does is make everyone say something true in the karma circle of love. He draws the circle on the rug using lotus petals. Anything you say in the karma circle loses it's ability to be hurtful outside of the circle.  You can use the circle to purge your karma of negativity generated by being inside for long periods of time with people you are related to.  For example, once in the circle you can say how much you hate animated movies or how your son's habit of singing to you at bed time makes you want to leap out of your skin with panic.  I cannot tell you how good I felt when I left the circle of love after saying that I was disappointed that no one noticed my week long attempt to walk like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. It meant a lot to me to be able to do that and when no one noticed I was hurt. I mentioned that I felt that everyone was really self-centered and not very observant then I felt better. Dr. Gideon Smalley is available for certain people if you call 0-11-44-67-32-32.


Poem in a Jar
In these days of virtual media madness I find that it is always good to remind my children (and myself) of what books and words mean.  All too often we forget that books represent perhaps the greatest technological leap ever taken by humans ever and should be treated with respect and veneration. Words, too. They are symbolic of meaning. One of my favorite stuck-in-the-house snow day activities is to have the kids go through the books we have and cut out words that they like the sounds of.  Then, we paste the words to the insides of glass jars using a mix of powdered gelatin mixed with coconut water. Once each jar has been completely covered (from the inside) we take turns reading them out loud in a giant fun-filled family poetry slam.  If you can, have everyone read from behind the backlight curtain in your shadow theatre for great dramatic effect.  The jar makes a great flower vase if you shellac the inside when you are done.  Here is one of my favorites (from my own jar, which I shellaced myself with a mixture of linseed and eggwhite). My clever daughter named this one Mommy has Aphasia and I laughed so hard I almost peed in my pants, but they are hand sewn ultrasuede so I didn't:

Doll silk carrots cellar door azure
Anyway sandals Emin soak
Sex prayerful bean curd
Real pan Warrior erstatz fiddle
Lo waters a of or and gritty
Question love.

The first line rhyme was a throw away bonus and the last two words just ended up next to each other in an instance of poetic fate. Our family collection will be published in July by the Urban Poetry Collective. Proceed will be donated to SOOCCS (Sisters of Owners of Canine Cancer Survivors).

Faux Jello
Everyone remembers Jello and as a special treat we have one day a year when we make it.  I like to reserve this treat for snow days when the kids won't actually want to eat the jello but rather can be convinced to mix it with snow and play texture games with it. That way I get the Mommy points for allowing them to make Jello and a mess while making sure that they don't actually eat it.  If they insist on eating it however, a good substitute if you do want to eat it is Dandelion Aspic with Agave Syrup, which, if you add dried and pulverized berries to can be dyed to look like Jello. I won't tell if you don't!

Make Designer Skirts
I would never have come up with this one by myself, but my good friend, SM is a whiz with the needle and after the launch of her kids' clothing line in major store to be unnamed she came up with a do-it-yourself bedskirt skirt that is just to die for. Here's what you need:

100% 200 Count Egyptian Cotton Long Drop Bedskirt in color of your choice
100% 200 Count White Egyptian Cotton King Size Sheet
Needle
Thread
Sewing Maching (optional, you can get someone to sew by hand for you)

Cut one side of the bedskirt off keeping about four inches of the liner fabric above the skirt seam. Cut the sheet into three foot by one inch strips. Lay the strip on the liner fabric of the bedskirt section, fold over the liner fabric, sew it into place (there by creating a drawstring of Eygptian Cotton).  Once sewn into place wrap it around you as many times as desired, tie, et voila!  You might have to practice a few times before your stitching comes out right, but the seamstress I had come to show us how to stitch made it seem so easy.  The skirts we made last week will be available at the La Femme online auction during fashion week. If you don't have 200 count Egyptian Cotton sheets you can use a slightly lower thread count.