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CityTot – Manhattan’s Newest #FabULyss Go-To Site On Early Childhood Classes & Learning- March 5th, 2015

Piano

Local parents, born and bred in NYC, launch an innovative #FabULYSS site providing online and in-person experiences for new parents to find the best in local kids’ classes. This new site – CityTot.com – bridges the communities of parents, bloggers, parenting groups, class providers, and academics, helping those who are also just starting out as parents to make smart and informed choices in their educational investments and in their everyday lives. Joining them in their Flatiron District launch are an exclusive group of a hundred parents and supporters who agree that a site like CityTot fills a gap in the current available resources for parents looking to increase their own learning as well as the growth of their own children. Guests networked and toasted with the founders on Thursday, February 26th at 5 P.M.

Sonal Patel and Angela Tolosa are CityTot’s founders and avid explorers of the latest and greatest in NYC. These native New Yorkers have been friends since age 4, and classmates from preschool until graduation day at Brown University. They are both now attorneys by training as well as moms to two city tots each of their own. Since they personally know how overwhelming navigating the NYC “kids classes” world can be, they set out to create a simple, easy and smart way to do it all. I was telling Angela that I wish her company was around eleven years ago when my son was born. A much needed site for all #NYC parents! 

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Q & A With CityTot

Q.  What differentiates CityTot from the other NYC sites about classes?
CityTot is the only resource that provides a truly holistic approach to early childhood classes for savvy, new, expectant, or just plain busy NYC parents of kids age 0-5.  Think of us as the Zagat’s of tots’ classes  – we’re here to help parents find classes for the kids like we find great restaurants in the city. It’s like, once you search for the restaurant that serves the cuisine you’re craving, that’s closest, and won’t break the bank, you also go one step further  -  get the nutritional info as well as reviews from your neighbors, and maybe even speak to the chef. And that’s what parents can do on CityTot for early childhood classes.
My co-founder Sonal Patel and I are two moms who know how difficult it can be to navigate the who, what, when, where and why of kids’ classes in the city. And especially looking for your kids when they are in their formative years, so young and early in their developmental process! So we offer what we call the three R’s-   Research, Review, and RelateResearch means not only a comprehensive, centralized, searchable directory of NYC classes for kids aged 0-5, but also user-friendly academic research on what the latest science can teach us about fostering success and happiness among our children.  Review means we’re all about sharing personal, authentic and trusted user experiences -and let parents learn from each other and from class providers to get valuable advice. Relate is about community-building and working with groups like Diva Moms to offer both in-person and online opportunities for discussion and networking, where parents can learn from experts/fellow parents through our discussion boards and from reading blog profiles of Provider of the month and Parent of the month and where they make new friends for themselves and their little ones. We are so excited to blend and bridge the communities of parents, parenting groups, providers, and academics together!
 
Q.  How did the founders decide to launch this company together?
Sonal and I have known each other since we were tots ourselves, after meeting in preschool at age 4. We are born and bred New Yorkers and entrepreneurs at heart.  We’ve been classmates from that first day at preschool until senior year at Brown University and remain tight friends. We are both former Manhattan public school teachers, who then went our separate ways to ultimately attend law school (yes we’re both lawyers!) and pursued different careers. Years later, we settled down with our families in Manhattan and now have two tots each. We lived in different neighborhoods and had strong personal and social networks…but not many “mommy friends” when our older tots were born.  Even so, we knew that New York City was the only place we would raise our kids. And that’s when the madness began. 
Back in 2008, we started to learn a lot about engaging our children in activities and classes – first to support their intellectual and physical development and second to really get them out of the house and connected to other children (and for us to make friends and connections too). There was an abundance of information online, scattered and decentralized, and too time-consuming to process in those early days (and even now!).  We yearned for an easy, parent-friendly way to do it all, while still working full time. 
We also struggled to find authentic, real reviews of classes, so it was a gamble every time we registered for a class at a school or organization that we barely knew. So we relied on limited word of mouth from friends and family, but one parent’s reach only goes so far. We decided that urban parents could use a one-stop aggregator – a go-to place to learn about learning and the best in kids’ classes – so we set out to build one. CityTot is what we and our friends would have wanted when we all first started out with our own little tots.
Q.  What are some of your family’s absolute favorite classes?  Why? 
Good question and a hard question. My family’s favorite classes are those that are engaging of all children and recognize different learning styles. I also really love providers that have great online communication, maintain super clean and organized facilities, and think and plan for family engagement. You can see that this criteria is what we based CityTot’s class rating system too!
For my older daughter who is now 7, she loved her dance classes because she adored dressing up, working in a group and is naturally graceful and musical. For my younger daughter who is 3.5 years old, she is a rough-and-tumble child and a bruiser! She loves physical classes where she can jump and bounce to her heart’s content. 
 
Q.  How do you tailor your recommendations to each child’s needs?
The site is built so that parents search and find their own matches for their children’s needs. Our Research section lists nearly 3,000 classes in Manhattan for kids under 5 and filtered by age, neighborhood, class type, membership required, drop-in available, free trial, or parent/chaperone required.  We are currently building out the directory with class descriptions, schedules and costs, as more and more class providers are joining on!
But we offer more – our goal is to give parents the research tools and parent-to-parent advice to match their children up with classes that will best support their child’s to achieve his/her individual developmental milestones.
 
Q.  Is this site strictly for first-time parents? 
No, we’re here to keep first-time,  second-time, third-time, (and more!) parents up to speed on the latest and greatest in early childhood education.
Q.  Is there a membership fee to use this site? 
CityTot has no membership fee for parents at this time. We have free trial membership packages for class providers who want to fully take advantage of all the marketing power of CityTot. We are passionate about providing great service to parents and providers!
For more information visit www.citytot.com you can email Angela@citytot.com
xoxo

We Found The Most #DeLysscious Catering @Certe- March 4, 2015

 

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It was my daughters first Birthday/Baby naming this past Saturday. We decided to have the baby naming at our temple (Central Synagogue) and then her Birthday party to follow right downstairs. I was given a list of fifteen different caters to choose from for the event. I called most of them on the #Lysst, and when I got on the phone with Bonnie from Certe, I knew that I was in wonderful hands with my party. I have to say that not only was the presentation gorgeous the food was just #DeLysscious. The emails about how delicious the food was has been incredible. If you are looking for a wonderful caterer I highly suggest Certe. I had the pleasure of asking the questions for you that you might want to know the answers to. I can tell you that my experience working with them as amazing and I will be hiring them for many parties in the very near future. Take a few moments to read the Q & A and don’t forget to look at the gorgeous photos of the food (I want to eat everything)…

Food

From Wraps to Weddings, Contact Certé to Cater Your Next Event

One of New York’s largest caterers, they can easily serve 5,000 guests for a gala dinner, or a corporate event for 5 to 500. They don’t sell food… they sell Certainty. At Certé, their main ingredient is the commitment to every customer. They offer innovative new foods and some classics with a modern and fresh approach. Their reputation for quality, while maintaining affordability, is the reason for their success. They are privileged to be the exclusive caterer for some of Manhattan’s most prominent corporations such as Major League Baseball, Bravo TV, NBC, the Dr. Oz Show, Amazon.com, numerous major fashion houses, Estee Lauder, Wells Fargo, Northern Trust, SL Green, and many, many others.

Fresh, high quality ingredients and service are the heart of the business and they constantly create unique and creative menus for the most discriminating clients.  They know they have only one chance to get it right.  They don’t just sell food…. They sell Certainty.

Q.  How many years has Certe been in business?

Did you start out as a restaurant and or catering business? We are Chef owned.  Born in Long Island, Edward Sylvia has always been passionate for all things culinary. He decided against a promising athletic career and decided to pursue his passion in culinary arts, in which he worked in many family owned businesses. He attended the Arts Institute in New York and took an unpaid position at the famously obstreperous French restaurant, Bouley. He then went on to work at several high-profile restaurants including Aquavit, Petrossian, and the Millennium Hotel. Chasing his entrepreneurial instinct, he took a job with a small catering company. He quickly saw the demand for corporate catering and created Manhattan’s prestigious catering company, Certé in 2004. In his observations as a Chef, he noticed more and more kitchens were doing away with traditional “from scratch” food preparations, especially in Midtown. “If you wanted quality food in Midtown, you almost had to refinance your house. The other options were processed or fast food. Due to his frustrations of these lavish spaces or poor culinary procedures and low expectations, he was driven to put his vision of food out there … the way it is meant to be! Created from scratch, using fresh, quality ingredients, and most importantly … affordable. Chef Sylvia is privileged to prepare food for some of Manhattan’s most prominent corporations and fashion houses, has made frequent appearances on local and national TV, and has been featured in numerous magazine and news articles.

***

 

Q. What kind of parties do you like catering most?

 Any celebratory events!  We love to see the emotions combined with the uniqueness of the event.

 

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Q. Do you like doing Bris’s, 1st Birthdays,  Birthdays, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Surprise Parties? Is there a favorite that you like to cater best?

 We do many of these—and love planning all of them!

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Q.  Are all of your menus the same? Can you custom create your menu for the party?

We have over 2,000 menu items!  We don’t believe in one-size-fits-all parties! Your event will be a unique reflection of your tastes and preferences. Any of our Event Planners can put together a menu based upon a theme, just leave the work to us.

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Q. What’s the biggest party you will cater for and whets the smallest?

  We cater parties from 10 people to 2,000

Q.  Do you travel all over NYC? Anywhere outside of NYC (Westchester, Long Island or Connecticut)

We do travel outside of NYC to the tri-state area for larger events.

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Q.  What would you say sets you apart from different caters?

It’s easy to say our product & service. But truly, connecting with the client with their vision to everything it takes to bring the vision to life.  From menus, timing, budget, and a worry-free event.  We do the thinking for you!  Our ultimate goal at Certe’ is to provide seamless efficiency for our clients with a focus on creativity and over-the-top customer service that is unsurpassed in our industry. We listen, we adapt and we strive to accommodate each of our customer’s needs to perfection.

Q. Who’s the best person to coordinate their party with?

Bonnie Altholz, Director of Special Events, She currently oversees the company’s larger, high-volume clients and has been working a mere step from Chef Sylvia since Certé’s inception.  Creating a bond of trust with each client she manages is the pinnacle of Bonnie’s business philosophy, which partners perfectly with Certé’s core values. Her extensive experience in catering and event production enables her to produce high end large scale events, as well as intimate parties.   Email info@certenyc.com

For more information visit www.certenyc.com 20 West 55th Street NYC

xoxo

 

Kumon Method Is #FabULyss-Monday, March 3rd, 2015

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Moms are always asking me about different programs around #NYC that can help with their children’s academic success. We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with the #FabULyss Kumon Method for a Q &A. Below you will find answers to the many questions you might have.

Q.  What is the Kumon Method?  How does Kumon differ from tutoring?

The Kumon method empowers children to become self-learners and is unlike any academic program you are likely to have experienced.  Instead of passively receiving instruction from teachers or tutors, Kumon students actively develop self-learning skills through an individualized lesson plan carefully designed by the Instructor. An instructor may have many different students in the center at the same time, and because of our self-learning method, she can cater to each of them if they need assistance.

Q.  How long has the company been in business and how did it get started? 

Founded in Japan in 1958, Kumon began as a program which was developed out of the love of a father for his son.  Toru Kumon’s son had difficulty with math, and Toru was a math teacher, so he created a program where his son was able to become proficient in calculus as quickly as possible as a young child. Kumon aims for students to build their skills and master foundational math and reading as quickly as they can. Our curriculum goes from preschool through high school in math and reading. We aim for all of our students to study three years above their grade level and complete the program.

Q.  Is Kumon an enrichment or remedial program?

We are an enrichment program.  However, the students who enroll in the Kumon Program vary. There are students who come to Kumon to improve; there are students who are at the top of their class and come to Kumon for enrichment; and there are students who are in the middle of that continuum. The wonder of the Kumon Program is that it can work for any child.

Q.  Will Kumon help my child with homework?  Will Kumon assign additional assignments on top of what my child already receives in school? 

Because we are an enrichment program, Kumon does not help with homework.  In Kumon, students also improve concentration and develop better study skills through daily practice assignments. Similar to playing a sport or musical instrument, daily practice in academics is needed to ensure success. Kumon homework takes only 15-30 minutes per subject each day. Our students find that, in the long run, the academic and study skills they gain in Kumon helps them take less time to do school homework, so they have more time to play or do extra-curricular activities.

Q.  How often and how long are sessions? 

Students go to a Kumon Center twice a week for approximately 15-30 minutes per subject and complete short daily assignments at home on the other days of the week.  The instructor evaluates each child’s progress during each class to ensure growth and that academic goals are being met.

Q.  How long does it generally take before improvement is noticed?

It really depends on the goals, strengths and needs of the student.  Our Instructors work hard to develop their students’ skills and make sure that they have a complete grasp of each concept to ensure a smooth transition to the next concept, and a successful long-term Kumon experience. Usually within the first few weeks, you’ll see your child develop better study habits, improved concentration and a more positive attitude towards learning.  Really, though, our measure of success is when a student can reach his or her maximum potential, when a student can say, “I did it on my own,” and when he or she knows that because of what was accomplished, he or she can make any career choice desired.

Q.  Can Kumon help my child prepare for standardized tests?

Absolutely!  Kumon is not a test prep company; however, the skills and concepts students study in Kumon are needed to be able to prepare for any test. Kumon is an international curriculum. The aim is for students to develop college level math and reading skills before high school, so they are confident and prepared to achieve their goals.

For more information visit www.kumon.com

There are many #FabULyss locations all around the city for your convenience.

We also have a #FabULyss event tomorrow night at the Midtown East #Kumon with #TovaKlein

We hope to see you there xo

Tova1

xoxo

 

#CircusExtreme #PurimFamilyFun #CinderllaMovie #My41stBday & More… March 2nd-2015

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Yes.. today is my 41st Birthday!
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Never in a million years did I ever think I’d say this, but I am psyched about being forty one. Alright, I admit I am a bit concerned about the way my neck is starting to ripple and I see more and more lines on my face, but I’m eager to see what new adventures are in store for me as I get closer and closer to the big 50 (as my mom reminds me.. in 9 years, you will be 50).

Being in your forty’s is #FabULyssly f*cking amazing!  I have learned so much in the past year since I turned 40 and understand what really matters and needs to be embraced…

* Don’t deprive yourself of anything, including love, food, orgasms, friendship, or even hours of bad TV, and of course, shopping (Retail therapy will always be one of my favorites).

* Stay away from toxic relationships. You will never change anyone.

* Surround yourself with good people. People who treat you with love and kindness, respect and joy and tenderness. People who see the best in you and feel lucky to be in your life.  And for me.. most importantly, people that make me laugh.. Laughter for me is the best therapy!

* Like yourself, goddammit. Seriously.

*Live life… My father passing away a few months ago was a real wake up call to me and showed me that life is oh so precious! We need to live and love each and every day!

*Spend more time with family and close friends.  I need to say I love you to my mom more.  Yes she drives me crazy, but she is my mom and needs to hear these three little words much more often from me).

*Tell the people in your life how much you appreciate them for being who they are! We are all individuals and that’s what makes us so special, unique and #FabULyss!
Life
As I run off to Little Maestros music class with my now one year old #BlakeyBleu (I cannot believe she turned one this past weekend), I will take a deep pause and say thank you for my three healthy, happy and beautiful children.
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It is so incredibly special that my daughter and my birthdays are only three days apart and that we are both Pisces.  According to Baby Center:
You make a wonderful parent to your Pisces child. You’re as sweet-natured and sensitive as she is, so you shower her with all the affection and compassion in your heart. And she’s utterly devoted to you.

Your bond is so deep and tender, it’s almost otherworldly. You may feel as though you’re intuitively connected — as if you understand your child’s feelings and needs, and she gets yours, even when you aren’t in the same place, telling each other what’s in your hearts. In fact, that’s your only issue as parent and child: Someone’s going to have to ground you two in everyday reality, because neither of you is up to the job! Without someone more practical around, you might get lost in your little one’s imaginative escapades, and making it to school or her doctor’s appointment on time will simply slip your mind. 

Our family had the most #fabulyss and fun weekend celebrating both of our birthdays.  We enjoyed the new Ringling Bros. #CircusExtreme, attended a screening of the Cinderella movie which will always be one of my all-time favorite stories. Loved the modern day #Cinderella movie so much. Helena Bohman Carter as the 

Fairy Godmother was a #FabULyss choice.
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clowns
 
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Happy Purim to my fellow followers.  Don’t kill me if you eat way too many of these decadent chocolate chip cookie stuffed chocolate hamantaschen:

 
yield: 30-60 hamantaschen, depending on size

chewy chocolate chip cookies inside chocolate sugar cookies: a fun twist on a purim classic!

ingredients
for the chocolate hamantaschen dough
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1¾ teaspoons baking powder
for the chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup earth balance (or butter), at room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
instructions
first, make the chocolate hamantaschen dough
  1. in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg, egg white, and sugar on medium speed until combined. add the oil and almond milk and beat until smooth.
  2. in a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. with the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until everything is just combined.
  3. form the dough into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap. let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
meanwhile, make the chocolate chip cookie dough
  1. in a small bowl, combine the flour and baking soda.
  2. again in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the earth balance and both sugars on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. add the salt, vanilla, and egg, and beat until combined. with the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until everything is combined. stir in the chocolate chips.
then, assemble the hamantaschen
  1. preheat the oven to 350ºf and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. take about a quarter of the hamantaschen dough and roll it out between two pieces of wax paper to about ¼-inch thickness. use some sort of circular item (a biscuit cutter, a round cookie cutter, a glass) to cut circles out of the dough. top each circle with about a teaspoon of chocolate chip cookie dough.
  3. for each circle, fold up the sides into a triangular shape, and pinch the corners together tightly.
  4. repeat this with the rest of the two doughs, re-rolling the scraps of hamantaschen dough as needed.
  5. bake the hamantaschen on the prepared baking sheet for about 10 minutes, until they are just starting to darken at the corners. the chocolate chip cookie dough should still be a bit soft. let the hamantaschen cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
notes
i used a 2-inch round biscuit cutter to cut my hamantaschen, and wound up with about 60 of them. they were on the small side, but that’s how i like them! but if you like yours on the bigger side, you might want to double the recipe.
Recipe courtesy of with love and cupcakes blog

Have a wonderful Purim if you are celebrating!

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xoxo

 

Bang by Ruby McNally for #DivaMomsBookClub March #SEXXY Book-March 2nd, 2015

Bang by Ruby McNally for #DivaMomsBookClub March #SEXXY Book

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Bang is the third book in the Lights and Sirens series by Ruby McNally, but each can also be read as a  standalone novel.

Bang tells the story of Mari and Jack, two beat cops who have been partners since they were in the academy together.  For ten years they have never acted on their emotions, afraid they would mess up perfect work chemistry. After finally admitting their feelings and acting on their emotions one night, Mari and Jack suddenly question if they really can make a relationship work.  An “incident” at work makes things even worse, forcing them to wonder if they can trust each other personally and professionally.

Ruby McNally does an excellent job in showing how a relationship is hard work. Mari and Jack have to learn to forgive each other, trust each other, and love each other both personally and professionally. This takes a lot of give and take from both of them, and causes major tension at their police department. McNally has both Mari and Jack work through their problems, and come to some difficult conclusions about how to take care of themselves, their families, and their relationship. It makes the relationship between Mari and Jack seem more real, because they have real-life issues to deal with: promotions at work, difficult family members, PTSD, and personal guilt over past mistakes.

My favorite thing overall in Bang was how Ruby McNally made the sex scenes between Mari and Jack very gritty and real. The characters dealt with an awkward first time together, and second time, and third time, until they learned what works between them. This was a refreshing change in the genre, to show how your first time isn’t always perfect hearts and rainbows. A couple has to try things out to find their rhythm together, and because Mari and Jack love each other they are able to overcome these awkward situations.

I would highly recommend Bang to anyone looking for a truly realistic romance novel, where you feel like the characters could be someone you personally know. Ruby McNally writes a story where love finds a way, and both our hero and heroine find their way to trust, understanding, dealing, and happy ever after. Bang is the March “Diva Moms Pick of the Month!” #DivaMomsBookClub #SEXXYBook #DivaMustRead

For more information visit www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5349/bang

xoxo

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