These Are A “Few” Of My Favorite Things

Don’t you just love to share your discoveries, whether it’s a cool boutique you’ve found, a restaurant with the best burritos in town, or something as basic as a new kitchen sponge that cleans like no sponge you’ve ever owned before? I do, so I thought, Why not spread the word on FabOverFifty about products I adore?

I’m starting today with kitchen tools, one of my passions. As an editor and publisher in the home furnishings business for decades, I wrote about pots, pans, electric housewares, gadgets, tabletop and more, so I’m pretty picky when it comes to the quality and performance of the products I use for cooking and serving.

I’m not being paid a penny to write about the products in this new column. It’s just fun to tell you about them. We’ve linked each item to the amazon.com shop, which seems to sell just about everything these days.  

Muscleman Or Real Softie

“You have to get this sponge, Maz!” gushed my daughter when we recently went shopping together. She was right! The little guy works on everything from dishes and glassware to cast iron and stainless steel pans; from bathroom walls to the car’s exterior. He stiffens up in cold water, and softens in warm water, depending on whether you want to wash normally or seriously scrub. He doesn’t scratch, and he won’t become smelly after he’s had lots of tough workouts. The perfect man to have around the house. Shark Tank loved him. So will you! (more…)

Before & After: A Beautiful Bathroom Renovation!

Renovating, or simply refreshing a room in your home, can be exhilarating.

No surprise that bathrooms rank tops on the list of remodeling projects, according to the National Association of Home Builders. It’s the first room you usually enter when you wake, and it’s wonderful if the colors and lighting, not to mention a heavenly spacious shower, make you feel happy. What’s more, potential buyers always place a premium on great bathrooms.

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Meet The New Man In My Life

Do you publicly moan and groan, at least once in awhile, when things aren’t going as smoothly as you’d like?

You might have a bad cold or developed a big, bad cavity. Maybe the thermostat isn’t working on a bitter winter day.  Or UPS can’t locate the rug you ordered for the living room. When things like this happen, and you’re feeling under the weather or hate the weather, think about Santos.

doorI met 40-something Santos a few months ago, when he came to my new (old) house to draw up plans to build a kitchen, from scratch. Santos definitely has a way with wood. He created the striking kitchen on the parlor floor, two beautiful closets on the second, as well as new doors for every room (each in a different design). What’s more, he’s self taught, and one of the hardest working men I’ve ever met. He’s dedicated to his two sons and crazy about his six-month-old grandson. You should know, his life has not been easy, not easy at all.

Most recently, Santos was working on bringing back an ancient (1899) entry door in my house from the dead. Then he took ill and almost died himself.

Ignoring the pain he was feeling in his stomach, for a few weeks, Santos continued to work in his shop. He finally went to the doctor when he developed severe diarrhea and couldn’t keep food down. The doctor told him he had a stomach virus and prescribed antibiotics. A week later, Santos wasn’t feeling any better and the pain became so bad, he asked his son to take him to the hospital.

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Geri’s Moving Story: The House Is Taking Shape!

Even when Douglas and I moved into our first apartment in 1968–a studio in an ancient tenement building on the upper East Side of Manhattan with lots of roaches that apparently hid when we looked at the place–I wanted to make my home beautiful.

We bought a long, lovely birchwood dresser with eight drawers, since the apartment was sorely missing storage space; a small cherrywood table that opened up to become a much bigger table, because I loved to have dinner parties, and two pretty white ginger jar lamps that sat on the dresser. I always adored buying bedding, towels, kitchen equipment, and tabletop products, too!

Many apartments later, I have officially moved into my first full-fledged home–at 69, no less!

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A Moving Story: “I Was FLOORED!”

I thought I’d comfortably be ensconced in my new (old) house by now, but alas I’m not. We’re still staying at a studio apartment a little over two miles away. Some days I drive back and forth three times to see how the renovation work is progressing. I shouldn’t be surprised because building projects rarely, if ever, go according to plan, but I prefer to be an optimist!

closetEven a pessimist, however, couldn’t have imagined some of the outrageous scenarios I’d have in store, like the one that involved a new wide-plank floor laid on the top level of the house. Unfinished oak was used because I wanted to have the floor finished with a specially formulated paint that’s made exclusively for floors. I consulted with a designer from the company, Farrow & Ball, and we chose a color called Skimming Stone. It’s a creamy white. I gave the head of the painting crew the cans of primer and paint, which were clearly marked on their tops with the words Primer for the top floor. Paint for the top floor.  We even wrote the words in Spanish since the men weren’t all fluent in English.
When I went to the house to see how the floor looked, in its new Skimming Stone-colored dress, the paint looked a little gray to me. As I passed one of the bathrooms under construction, I noticed a half-empty gallon can of Pavilion Gray paint sitting on the floor, but the walls and ceiling hadn’t yet been painted in that color.

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He Knows How To Deal With Pests (And Women)

Keith Goodman jokingly calls his 90-year-old mom, “Angie The Terrible” because she “takes over” every chance she gets. When he set her up in the 1,000-square-foot finished basement in his house, after Angela had surgery, she was upstairs constantly. She stayed for four months, and then Keith bought her a condominium nearby. Even though Angela has a companion who comes to help her out eight hours a day, “she’s up making herself breakfast before the woman arrives,” Keith told me. “She only watches Channel 11. Thinks it’s just for her. Loves the Maury (Povich) Show.” Gotta love Angela.

Gotta love Keith, too.

He’s a dream 51-year-old son for any mom on the face of the earth. Visits Angela every single day, often more than once. Lays out her meds. Brings her favorite cake. Makes sure her companion is cooking her fave dinner. Mashed potatoes and fish are a dinner of choice. When Keith recently disagreed with something Angela wanted, she admonished him, firmly saying, “I’m the mother!”

Keith was referred to me by my Brooklyn-wise pal, Nadine, who sold me my new (old) house, and owns a couple of houses nearby. “He’s a great exterminator, and very reasonable,” she said. The plumber working on the renovations in my home discovered an unsavory creature in the cellar, and I needed (was desperate!) to get ahold of Keith pronto. He called me back minutes after I left a message on his cell and made an appointment to check out the house. (more…)

A Moving Story

I am officially a Brooklynite!

I moved lock, stock and barrel last Wednesday from the Manhattan apartment I’ve owned since 1992. Well, not quite lock, stock and barrel, because the movers couldn’t extricate my sofa from the building. Seems the moving men who detached the legs to get the sofa into the building four years ago stripped the screws so badly that it was impossible to remove them this time around. The chunky legs prevented the already-big piece from getting out the door. 

Dr. Sofa to the rescue! Yep, you read that right. Dr. Sofa. Two men took apart my stubborn sofa in about 30 minutes, trucked it to my new (1899) house in Brooklyn, then reassembled it in 20 minutes. Operation successful. And this was no lightweight Ikea DIY sofa. Dr. Sofa doesn’t take Medicare, so I had to pay $650 out-of-pocket. But I could never buy a sofa like it for that price.

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Leaving Manhattan After 48 Years!

When I took my friend Debbi to see the house I’m buying in Brooklyn, NY, she said: “I don’t know why you’re making such a big move at 69!”

I’ll tell you what I told Debbi in a moment, but first let me give you the details: I’ve owned a wonderful, 1,300-square-foot apartment (plus outdoor area) on the Upper East Side of Manhattan since 1992. I’ve loved living here, and if the walls had ears and mouths, they would tell you some pretty wild and wooly things.

On the less racy side, I remember the Christmas dinner buffet party I threw for about 100 employees. The weather was especially mild that year, which allowed guests to gather in the outdoor space, where the bar was set up. I hosted my own 50th birthday party at the apartment, surrounded by the people in my life who were the “most fun.” I vividly recall returning home late one evening from an exhausting European business trip and locking myself out within minutes. I remember welcoming a never-ending stream of my son’s friends, who would often gather here since it was close to their school. I loved making them meals. To this day, they call me “Godmother Brin.”

I always thought this would be where I’d live for the rest of my life, but I started to change my mind a couple of years ago, for two major reasons:

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The Lengths We Go For Our Pets

This post is brought to you by Tidy Cats®, the cat litter expert for nearly 50 years.

Remy, my 14-year-old cat, had the Life of Riley until eight years ago, when we introduced a Norfolk terrier named Rigby into the family.

Terriers being terriers, Rigby lunged for Remy’s food the second he “smelled” it. He could be 50 feet away; he knew the moment the pellets hit the bowl. And oh, Rigby adored Remy’s litter box, too, for reasons not worth elaborating.

The Dog Whisperer couldn’t have trained Rigby to stop his antics, and we weren’t going to hire a 24-hour guard to watch over Remy’s litter box and food bowl. What to do, I thought, excited by the challenge of figuring out a solution.

Ah hah, it hit me, as we were renovating our apartment. Why not have the talented woodworker we were using cut holes at the bottom of two closet doors that would be big enough for Remy to slip through, but too small for Rigby’s chunky body? We’d put the litter box behind one door and the food bowl behind the other (the closets are in the same room, on opposite walls.)

The woodworker carefully determined the proper size of the cutouts and he went to work. Our scheme was a success. Remy quickly made her way behind Door #1 when she was hungry, and headed for Door #2 when she needed her litter box. Of course, Rigby vainlessly tried to squeeze into both cutouts for months, and although he finally gave up, he still makes a mad dash for the food bowl when we’re adding food or accidentally leave the door open. Rigby also will sometimes station himself outside the door while Remy is eating, determined to terrorize her so she won’t come out.

All things considered, our solution has been a big success!

Do you have a kitty litter dilemma that’s preventing your little feline from living the happy, peaceful life she deserves? Now’s your chance to win a makeover for your kitty’s home and litter box areas.

The LightWeight Littervention™ Contest will offer one lucky winner (and her or his cat) a $2,000 makeover, as well as $1,000 on load-lightening services for one day, from grocery shopping to housekeeping! The winner also will receive a two-year supply of Tidy Cats® LightWeight litter and a $100 gift card. Besides the grand prize winner, two runners-up will each receive a year’s supply of Tidy Cats® LightWeight litter and a $50 gift card.

Talent Search

One of the best gifts the Internet gives us is the ability to “meet” incredibly talented people from all over the globe. Just check your Facebook news feed or YouTube and you might hear a bewitching seven-year-old Norwegian girl singing like Billie Holiday, see an enthrallingly realistic watercolor by the wife of your former Yoga instructor, or read a moving blog that makes you weep. How lucky we are to experience the wonderful talents of our fellow men (and women), as well as to share our own with others around the world.

After all, who doesn’t love to show off her “gifts,” even if just a wee bit?

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