Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Who Says These Have to Be For Kids?

These sipping straws are genius. My kids devoured the Cookies-and-Cream and Strawberry versions, my sister-in-law left town with every single one of the Banana ones she could find, and the Chocolate ones, they just... um... disappeared. Yeah, they disappeared. Into my iced coffee.

They're called Sipahhs, and if you shudder at the idea of dumping extra sugar, fat, and calories into your kids' milk just to get them to drink it, you should really lay in a store of these. At $2 for a pack of 10, they're a bargain. They're perfect for the lunchbox because they're pre-measured to flavor an 8-ounce cup of cold milk (or milk alternative -- they're great with rice, almond, or soy beverages, too), and the Chocolate and Cookies-and-Cream versions are wheat- and gluten-free, so kids who have celiac or are on a GFCF diet can still enjoy the treat.

This appeared in today's Boston Globe Food Section:

November 28, 2007
Short Orders

The last straws
Lylah M. Alphonse

Many kids prefer their milk spiked with chocolate. But what if you don't want to up their sugar intake at the same time? Sipahhs may be the solution. Unlike a generous squeeze of chocolate syrup (or a few heaping spoonfuls of strawberry-flavored powder), which can add 60 or more calories to an 8-ounce glass of milk, a Sipahh brings just half a teaspoon of sugar and about 15 calories to the party. Made by the Jel Sert Co. - they're the people behind the Wyler's and Royal brands - the straws are filled with flavor-infused beads that dissolve in cold milk. Individually wrapped straws come in boxes of 10 (about $2) in strawberry, cookies and cream, banana, and chocolate. There's no mixing or measuring involved, so there's no mess. Come to think of it, who says these have to be for kids? My iced coffee could use a little boost of chocolate. Available at many Walgreens stores,, or [More]

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's Holiday Card Time Again

My annual holiday card feature bounces around the Globe from year to year; this year, it was featured on the front of the Globe's "Sidekick" pullout section.

November 22, 2007

Write on

Lylah M. Alphonse

Once the turkey-covered dishes are cleared, it's time to think about setting up the table to write the holiday cards. In keeping with the spirit of the season, several charities sell cards designed by local artists to benefit people right here at home. ... [More]

It's an abbreviate version that made it to press; for the skinny on the cards and the organizations offering them, read on...

Project Bread/The Walk for Hunger: There are 12 designs to choose from this year, with art from local painters. The cards are especially "green" -- they're printed in Massachusetts on paper that comes from easily renewable forests, using soy-based inks. A pack of 10 cards costs $12-$15; proceeds go to support soup kitchens, food pantries, and other hunger-fighting projects in Massachusetts.

Pine Street Inn: Three new designs this year, with artwork donated to the cause. Proceeds benefit the Inn and their outreach and training programs for homeless men and women. A set of 10 cards is $15; large orders may be customized., 617-892-9178.

Friends of Boston's Homeless: Nine designs, all of them whimsical watercolors by Boston's own "Sidewalk Sam." Sets of 10 cards are $10 each; large orders may be customized. Proceeds benefit family homeless outreach programs., 617-534-2526.

Rosie's Place: Four scenes to choose from, plus other holiday gifts. Funds raised from the sale of the cards helps Rosie's place provide shelter to women. Packages of 10 cards, $15., 617-318-0232.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The 36-Hour Day: If I Didn't Have So Much To Do...

My latest post is up at The 36-Hour Day over at Work It, Mom!, and it's about how I often feel I could get so much more work done if only I could work from home (and how, when I do get a chance to work from home, I feel like I could be so much more productive if only I was at the office). Here's an excerpt:

It took me nearly two hours to drive the 30 or so miles in to work recently. A massive accident on a major route, coupled with minor back ups along the way, more than doubled my commute, and road crews on the smaller streets taking advantage of this last gasp of good weather to fix potholes made the alternate routes just as bad.

While stuck in the third or fourth traffic jam of the morning — the final backup was a so close to my office that I could practically see my desk from my car — I thought to myself, “If I worked from home, I could have gotten so much done by now.” ... [More]

Read the rest at The 36-Hour Day, and check out Work It, Mom!, while you're there!

Have Wine, Will Travel

Personally, I'm not above wrapping a few fragile items in my laundry and stowing it in the very center of my checked luggage, but for those of you who aren't willing to take the risk, and want to bring a couple of bottles with you on your holiday travels, this bag may be perfect.
November 25, 2007
Good to go

Flying like a sommelier
By Lylah M. Alphonse
Globe Staff

You've had a wonderful time in wine country, and you've fallen in love with the perfect bottle of wine. Now what? Some states don't allow wineries to ship there, and airline restrictions on liquids make it impossible to bring your wine on board. You could pack the bottles in your checked luggage, of course, but what if they leak? Or break?

The BottleWise Duo - a soft-sided, padded, water-tight bag - was developed to safeguard your Semillon. Made of durable, 1000-Denier Cordura fabric with removable pouches for two 750-milliliter bottles, the Duo bag also protects your wine against temperature and pressure fluctuations during the flight. A sturdy shoulder strap lets you use it as a tote and, unlike hard-sided cases, it flattens easily for storage. A basic black bag costs $48.95; burgundy or cork-colored bags have heavier padding (and cost $10 more) online at [More]

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The 36-Hour Day: Multitasking

How do moms do it all? Multitasking, of course.

My pants were too long.

They got caught on the heel of my shoe at work, tripped me up on the stairs, and made me look like I was playing dress-up in some tall person's clothes. I needed to hem them, but couldn't find the time.

So I finally made the time. I hemmed them at work. At my desk. While I was wearing them.

Luckily, the pair I was wearing when inspiration/exasperation struck was pinstriped, and it's fairly easy to keep the hem level if you make sure the stripes line up. And, since I was wearing them while I worked on them, I didn't sew the cuffs together -- this time. (Yeah, I don't have so much of the mad sewing skilz.)

The results were fine. I was happy. So happy, in fact, that two days later I deliberately wore another pair of too-long pants and did it again.

All moms know the real secret to success is multitasking. Hard work and determination, too, of course, but multitasking -- that's the stuff, right there.

We all multitask, almost all the time, almost without thinking about it. Checking personal e-mail while at the office? Yup. Talking on the phone while cooking dinner? Uh-huh. It's not the smartest thing to do, but I'll admit that I schedule pediatrician appointments, return phone calls, and catch up with friends while I'm driving to and from work. If I'm watching TV -- I'm addicted to "The Office," "Dirty Sexy Money," and anything featuring Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, or Gordon Ramsay -- I'm probably folding clothes at the same time.

Of course, it's possible to take things too far. I'm marginally ambidextrous, and once I tried to write two different holiday cards at the same time, one with each hand. I've tried to cook several different dishes at once, only to forget about one (or more) until the smoke alarm went off. I've come to understand that trying to do anything else while inserting a contact lense is not a good idea. And I was thisclose to rigging up a floor-cleaning system with a few cloth diapers and my crawling baby when he up and started walking...


Kind of...

How do you multitask?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Eccles Cakes: A Sweet Treat in West Newton

The only place I've ever found these fantastic pastries is at a little bakery called The Keltic Krust in West Newton, Mass. So, I had to write about them. This appears in today's Special Thanksgiving Food section of The Boston Globe.
November 19, 2007
Short orders

Make it a Keltic sojourn
Lylah M. Alphonse, Globe Staff

Keltic Krust has been hidden in plain sight, on a busy street in West Newton, for more than a decade. It's now under new management, and co-owner Nathalie LaPierre can often be found behind the counter, doling out fantastic Irish soda bread, strong coffee, and a mighty selection of hand-made goodies. Chelsea Buns - tightly wound sweet breads drizzled with icing and scented with cardamom - are a hit, as are tiny, tender scones, and enormous, chocolate-chip studded meringues. Eccles cakes (below, $2 each) are a treat you can't find many places. The simple rounds are made of rustic layers of flaky, buttery puff pastry, liberally sprinkled with sugar, which melts and anchors the plump raisins in place. They're ideal for family breakfast while you tuck the bird into the oven. Keltic Krust Bakery, 1371 Washington St., West Newton; 617-332-9343; [More]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The 36-Hour Day: Full-time, all the time

My latest post is up over at The 36-Hour Day. Here's an excerpt:

So, how do I manage to squeeze 36 hours into my day? The way I figure it, I spend about 12 hours a day at the office, commuting to or from the office, researching work-related projects, telecommuting, or doing freelance work at home. But I spend 24 hours a day being a parent, a spouse, and “Chief Cook and Bottle Washer” (or, as I like to see it, “Chief, Cook, and Bottle Washer” — it’s all in the punctuation). So, 12 + 24 = 36.

If my budget could take the hit, I might consider cutting myself some work-related slack. Then again, I might not. It’s a moot point anyway. But I’ve been working for so long that I suspect that I don’t really know how to stop. ... [More]

Read the rest here (and, while you're at it, check out the rest of the Work It, Mom! site)!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

New post up at Larger Families

This month's topic at Larger Families is "gratitude."

Here's an excerpt from my post, "It's the (not so) little things," which went up today:

I've been trying to write this post for days now, and I couldn't figure out a way to do it without sounding trite or stating the obvious. Of course, I'm grateful to be alive. I'm grateful to have my job, to not be struggling even though times are a little tight. I'm grateful to live in a country where I can enjoy the freedoms I do, during a time in history when so many things are possible. Of course, I'm grateful to my husband for everything he does, to my children for everything they are, for the fact that I've been blessed with so many of them.

So I kept thinking. And writing. And deleting. And thinking some more.

How do I write about gratitude as it pertains to having a larger family?

And I think what it comes down to is that I'm grateful for the little things. ... [More]

To find out what those (not so) little things are, read the rest at or in my archive on the site. (And, yes, those of you who know me... bourbon is on the list!)

Monday, November 5, 2007

"The 36-Hour Day" is live!

I'm pleased to annouce that my new blog at Work It, Mom! is up and running! It's called The 36-Hour Day and it's about juggling career and parenthood. Here's an excert from the first post:

... I’m a mom and step-mom to five kids, ages 1 to 14. I work full-time outside the home (as a newspaper editor), full-time inside the home (cooking, cleaning, laundry, laundry, laundry), and part-time on the side (writing, mostly).

The question I hear most often (other than “Are all of those kids yours?”) is “How do you get it all done?”

Honestly, I don’t know. House elves?

It doesn’t always all get done, really. I don’t have a staff of nannies and housekeepers at my disposal. The laundry sometimes waits, clean and folded (or not), for weeks in a corner of our room. The dust bunnies coalesce into herds under the beds and taunt the dog. If the baby finds a piece of cereal on the kitchen floor, I’m inclined to just let him eat it because it’s technically a food product and a little dirt builds up the immune system, right? ... [More]

Read the rest at The 36-Hour Day and, while you're at it, check out the Work It, Mom! site in general. It's a great resource for those who are working outside the home or inside the home; full-time or part-time; in an office or as a freelancer; holding on to their careers with both hands or taking a break to raise their kids; wondering about how to leave the workforce or about how to get back in. In short: Everyone.

Making Hard Suitcases Easy to Deal With

I remember traveling to India as a child with a huge, light-blue, hard-sided suitcase. It seemed like it weighed as much as me and my brothers put together, and it didn't hold all that much stuff, either. My Dad had to lift it with both hands at check-in; my Mom would pay someone to haul it off the carousel on the other end.

Titan has developed a better hard-sided bag.

October 28, 2007
Hard-sided but it pulls light

By Lylah M. Alphonse, Globe Staff

Most hard-sided suitcases are still heavy and unwieldy. Not so the new Titan. The X2 Flash line from Titan Luggage is lightweight, with smooth-rolling multidirectional wheels, and an ultra-durable, shock-resistant polycarbonate shell. The 22-inch carry-on (about $440) has plenty of room for your overnight gear and still fits neatly into a standard overhead compartment. It opens like a clamshell, and its zippered compartment and detachable toiletries bag keep everything organized. You can find it at Bretts Luggage, 435 Boston Post Road, Sudbury (978-440-9400, The series also includes a hard-sided laptop case, a beauty case, and 24-, 26-, and 29-inch rolling suitcases. In eye-popping colors like taxi-cab yellow and lime green, you'll definitely know which bag on the carousel is yours. [More]