Penzeys Spices - Self-description "unmatched quality, abundant variety, and love of everyone who cooks" nails Penzeys on the head. I think in our family Dave discovered this company first, then had Mom & Dad hit an Ohio store on a drive out west once. Quickly the whole family became fans, and our spice cupboards brim with yellow-labeled jars of goodness. Recently a store opened up in Falls Church, about 15 minutes from me, so we've gone over a few times. For every spice or mix there is a smelling jar, and it was all I could do to not stick my tongue in the Vanilla Sugar jar. So I got my own. Other new favorites: Garden Salad Seasoning and Rogan Josh. Their catalog doubles as a cookbook, chock full of recipes (which can also be gotten online). To order a catalog, dial the 800 number. Too bad it's not scratch n' sniff.
TNT new series - I guess The Closer has been around for a few seasons, but we just started watching. I was afraid Kyra Sedgwick's character Brenda Leigh Johnson's thick southern accent would be too much to listen to, but she (Kyra) is so darn good at what she does that after a few minutes I was so engrossed I could have said, "What accent?" Yes, it's a cop show like many others, but a refresh from CSI and L&O with a touch of comic relief and fantastically well-written characters. New season starts in January. Of course while we watched The Closer, we caught commercials for TNT's unlimited number of new series, two of which seem worth checking out when they premier in the winter. In Leverage, Timothy Hutton, who I've loved since Ordinary People, leads a team of thieves, hackers and grifters who act as modern-day Robin Hoods, taking revenge against those who use power and wealth to victimize others. Trust Me stars Tom Cavanagh (of Ed) and Eric McCormack (of Will & Grace), two fabulous fellas who can do comedy and drama in the same breath. Don't really know anything else about it, but I'll be tuning in in January just based on that.
Ross Dress for Less - Stores like Ross, Marshalls and TJ Maxx are admittedly not the most shopping-with-kids-friendly of stores due to the required rummage factor. You have to go through them slowly, meticulously, to find just the thing. Only a notch or two above thrift stores in this respect, it is a form of bargain roulette. But if you've got the time and inclination to score an amazing deal, you have a good chance of finding one. The other night I made an evening grocery run, and on a whim stopped by Ross on the way home - you know, just to see. An hour later I walked out with a new coat, skirt, pants and sweater, all at substantially low prices. But my favorite brag finds were a pair of $70 Kenneth Cole shoes for me at a scant $23, and a pair of adorable metallic green Stride Rite sneakers in Hazel's next size for $12.99 (retail $48.) Thank you, thank you.
Kid Good Stuff
Fawn & Forest - I don't usually click on the ad's on Design Mom's sidebar. I already know they will lead me to heart wrenchingly charming but overpriced items I will want, so I save myself the trouble. Usually. But sometimes I click. I found too many things I liked on Fawn & Forest not to mention. I mean, I can mention them, right? That doesn't cost the arm and half leg I'm tempted to spend. A few favorites: Matryoshka doll graphic tee, transport baby quilt, elly nelly wall decals (but do you think I would EVER make up my mind?), this alphabet poster, and this cuckoo clock.
Bailey Goes Camping by Kevin Henkes - Super sweet story about Bailey the baby rabbit whose older brother and sister go off to camp. He's too little to go and becomes inconsolable after they leave, bemoaning all the fun things about camping that he is missing out on. Mom to the rescue! She and Dad recreate all the fun of camping right at home. Especially poignant for us because of our recent camping-at-home experience in Brooklyn after the movers came, including toasting marshmallows on the stove, which Bailey also does.
where treasures red and golden hide among the leaves."
This month with preschool starting and our new dedication to holding Family Home Evening, the girls have been really into...