Monthly Archives: December 2011

A Very Robin Holiday

George Costanza had Festivus and Seth Cohen had Chrismukkah.   Not every family has a clever name for their holiday celebration (and if you know my family you should be INCREDIBLY shocked that we don’t), but every family has their own way of celebrating.  Now yes, as I have said before I am Jewish and I celebrate Hanukkah. When I was younger, my sister and I would have our 8 days of presents laid on our matching living room chairs.  We would carefully determine which gifts to open on which day, debating over whether to open 1 biggie or 2 smallies that night. But the Robin family also celebrates a little Christmas too.  No tree (to my dismay) but always a little gift and a special family day to celebrate.  Every family has their own idea how how to celebrate during the holiday season and in my lifetime I have had 3 different versions of a Robin Family Christmas.

Version 1: “A Very Broadway Christmas”.  Since we were home during Christmas break and had no particular plans on December 25th, my parents would take my sister and I into Manhattan to see a musical. Katie and I would wake up Christmas morning to find whatever show’s playbill we were going to see taped to the sliding glass doors of our kitchen.  After a breakfast of salami saucers & eggs or pancakes & fruit cocktail (David Robin classics) we would head into Manhattan to catch the matinee.  Maybe we would drive passed the tree at Rockefeller Center or the windows at Barney’s, but something about spending Christmas on Broadway felt so glamorous…like I was the real live Eloise at the Plaza or something.

Version 2: “A Very Sunny Christmas”.  Once I began college, we started going away over December break.  For the first year, we tried out some ridiculous resort outside of Puerto Vallarta.  There was a mall and a zoo inside the complex and well…that was the end of that place.  The next year we went to the relatively (at that time) unheard of  island, Anguilla.  The water was crystal clear, the temperature wasn’t unbearably hot, the hotels got all of the New York local news feeds, and it was packed with celebrities in hiding.  After our first off-roading adventure stalking Kevin Bacon & family after Christmas dinner, we knew this was how we were meant to celebrate the holidays!

Version 3: “A Very Jewish Christmas”.  Just like you’d assume, this consists of a movie and Chinese food.  When I started working, it was not always easy for me to get vacation time when my family would be celebrating Robin Family Christmas Version 2(and meeting Bill and Hil Clinton without me).  If that was the case, I would usually move myself into my parents’ Upper West Side apartment for a week of pet sitting and testing out new take out restaurants.  Luckily for me, their apartment is down the block from THE BEST movie theater in Manhattan, Lowes Lincoln Square.  I would spend the days leading up to the 25th dissecting the movie schedule; trying to come up with the best movie viewing formula.  Do I eat lunch before or is popcorn and soda my meal? Do I have time for a double feature or will the dog need to be walked? If I do a double feature do I go from funny to sad, or sad to funny? And will I have enough time in between to find a good seat?.  I know, I’m a nutjob! I also suffer from INCREDIBLE movie-seat-placement anxiety and try to get to the theater as early as possible to get optimum seatage.  Once all of this is figured out and I battle the other neurotic UWS’ers (because we ALL have the same crazies), I take out my US Weekly and wait the 30 minutes in my seat for the previews to begin.  After, what seems like the most stressful movie going experience of life; I go back to my parents’ apartment, change into a different pair of sweats, and order low mein & egg drop soup from Empire Szechuan.  Nothing says Merry Christmas like the taste of soy sauce!  Yes, this version doesn’t really SCREAM family, but as a Jewish New Yorker, I know this is what my fellow “tribesmen” are doing and I feel like I’m part of a family on a different level.

I’m lucky enough to have also been able to participate in some of my friends’ holiday traditions.  My friend Casey’s family has an annual holiday open house party at their home in Westchester.  No joke, the minute you walk into this party you feel like the holiday season has wrapped its arms around you and gave you the warmest hug of your life. Between the homemade lemon squares from her mom (who may be one of the most impeccably dressed women I know) to their heartwarmingly charming family toasts it’s hard to leave the fete.  My friend Amy and her family get together for two weekends in December and make…wait for it…HOMEMADE CHOCOLATES to give to their friends and family as holiday gifts.  I’ve always heard tales of the chocolate making, and this year I went during weekend 1 and helped make centers for some of the truffles.  Decked in matching “Chocolate Elf” t-shirts, this family has NOTHING on Santa’s elves-they are a well oiled machine and it is literally amazing to see in person.

Cheeseball as it sounds, the holidays are about family-bottom line.  No matter what holiday you celebrate, when you celebrate it, or what you call it-as long as it fills you up with love that is all that matters.  This year (thanks to a pre-scheduled blog posting) we are already in the thick of celebrating Robin Family Christmas Version 2.  From a lounge chair under a palapa in Antigua, I raise my sandy bottle of Corona to you and wish all of my blog readers a very Happy Robinmas (YES!! WE HAVE A NAME!)!!!


This Little Piggy’s Party

I have said it before and I will continue to live by the following theory: A party is only as good as the pigs in a blanket.  Go ahead…add that to one of those websites with famous quotes because now that you’ve heard it, you will subscribe to this theory too!

Let’s break it down–you’ve got a bite sized hot dog wrapped in puff pastry.  What about that doesn’t say delicious?! It’s salty, buttery, crispy, and chewy all in one bite. Dip it in ketchup or mustard if you please, but you can’t deny that it is the world’s most perfect party food.  Let’s just actually stop right here and ponder the fact that we serve these little heavenly, yet incredibly greasy, delights during special occasions…where we are usually dressed in our fancier clothes…and it would be super unfortunate if you accidentally wiped your greasy hand on your outfit.  That’s neither here nor there for me because I would rather go home with a dress full of pig in a blanket finger prints than not eat them at all!!

Now, let me prove my theory:

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I love me some wedding!! I am a professional wedding guest.  At this point, I think I can safely say I could plan a wedding successfully just from what I’ve seen. I don’t rank the weddings I’ve been to in my head from best to worst, but I can honestly say I have my favorites and my…well…weddings that turn into funny stories I tell to my friends for years afterward.  The favorites usually, but do not necessarily, have good bands, fun guests, good cocktail hour (food and possibly a signature martini), maybe something unique at the end of the night, and constantly flowing champs (champagne for those not clued into my lingo).  I will say that out of my 10 favorite weddings, 3 of them made the list because of their EXTRAORDINARY pigs in a blanket offerings.

One wedding I was actually a bridesmaid, so automatically that wedding made the favorite list.  Kidding, kidding, I’m not that vain.   At the end of the ceremony the bridal party walked down the aisle and headed straight to the bar to celebrate! After a few celebratory toasts, I walked into the cocktail hour to what was the most spectacular thing I have ever laid my eyes on…a HEBREW NATIONAL HOT DOG CART! I know, take a minute to take that thought in.  Ok, good now?  I know, so good.  I got myself a hot dog (with mustard and sauerkraut), took it to the bridal suite, kicked off my heels (after wearing them ALL DAY), and had the most wonderous 2 minutes!

no shoes, no problem!

The next two weddings actually took place at the same venue-so by the second time around I knew I was in for something good.  The first one was the wedding of my bunkmate. She was the first one of us to get married PLUS there was an incredible monsoon that was drenching New York–so clearly, this was a doubley exciting day.  After canoeing our way from Manhattan to Long Island we made it to her gorgeous wedding.  The magnitude of the storm was no match for the magnitude of love my campfriends and I had for the pigs in a blanket that were served after the ceremony.  These piggies were actually full sized hot dogs wrapped in some sort of croissant-esque goodness and cut into slices.  We loved them so much that while half of us saved our very coveted table, the other half was sent to track down the waitress with the tray of heaven.  We finally wrangled her over to our table and insisted she “keep ’em coming”.  And that she did…

The waitress--our hostage

My second encounter with this passed appetizer of the gods, was at one of my best friend’s wedding.  Even though I wasn’t in the wedding, I had been right there next to her in the planning process so I felt like I was apart of it all the same.  This was also the first wedding I had ever brought a boyfriend to so that was also pretty exciting for me.  Through the entire ceremony I couldn’t stop smiling-but it wasn’t just because of the aforementioned reasons.  It was because I knew what was coming my way.  And since I had already been to a wedding at this club, I knew EXACTLY where to place myself for optimal pigs a the blanket passage. Seated at a PRIMO table with another group of camp friends, we befriended yet ANOTHER waitress who, you guessed it…kept ’em coming!

Hey, do you remember me?

To further my point, there are two weddings that were not PARTICULARLY my favorite events.  Yes, these weren’t weddings of my closest friends but I can talk to a wall and have fun where ever I go, so that does not bear any weight on my judgement.  For the first one, I knew it was going to be a bad wedding before the wedding even STARTED!  At the rehearsal dinner they passed around pigs in a blanket-though they tasted more like toes wrapped in band-aids!! Flavorless, colorless, cold…a downright injustice to the pigs in a blanket community.  The wedding itself was boring. Food was terrible, band was mediocre, and at some points I was the only person on the dance floor.  LAME.

My second example was at an ORTHODOX wedding on a SUNDAY EVENING. I bolded these words not because this automatically makes it a bad wedding, but  a) it’s a sunday–can’t you make it earlier in the day? and b) Orthodox means extra long “hoopla” before the ceremony and strictly kosher foods.  Bright side for me, the best hot dogs are Hebrew National kosher hot dogs so there was hope.  WRONG. WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG.  The piggies were mealy and the crust was almost raw! There is nothing un-kosher about cooking food to the proper temperature! Right!?  Again, terrible wedding.  TOO many guests, no champs, weird half-naked tribal dancers, and well…I think that says it all.

As for my theory, if you haven’t “drank the kool-aid” yet (which I can’t imagine you haven’t) then test it out for yourself.  Next event you go to, do a quick scan of the hors d’ouevres.  If the host is smart enough to serve pigs in a blanket and serve them well you are in for a FANTASTIC evening.  If not, then run as fast as you can and save that outfit for a better night!!

Everyone’s A Critic

Everyone is a critic!! No matter where I go or who I talk to, they think that they are watching the best show on television.  I patiently listen to their argument about why said show is the best one out there and why I just have to watch it.  Honestly though, I think I know a thing or two about good television.  My relationship with TV runs deep and runs strong.  I mean I have 2 DVRs in my apartment…where I live alone…that are constantly running on full blast!

Now, I do admit that I don’t give every show on tv a chance.  I have zero threshold for scary entertainment.  I just don’t get it?  What is so fun about getting scared sh*tless???  I also don’t really watch educational television either.  Discovery, Nat Geo, Biography-if I wanted to learn about something, I would read about it.

That being said, since everyone thinks they KNOW what the best show on television is, I will share some of my current favorites with you.  There are so many for me to choose from, that I only allowed myself one show from each genre:

BIG BANG THEORY (sitcom): I need to thank my cousin, David,  for introducing me to this show.  It is so smart–and not just because the main characters are physicists.  It is relevant, it is witty, it is SO funny (Jim Parsons didn’t win 2 Emmys for nothing), and you don’t have to be a member of MENSA to get it.  Not to mention that Mayim Bialik plays THE MOST awkwardly amazing character I have ever seen.

NCIS (crime show): Truth be told, I only started watching this show 2 years ago when I was stuck in my hotel room in rainy Louisville, Kentucky.  There was a marathon on USA and I became hooked.  I usually don’t enjoy procedural crime shows, but one scene with Mark Harmon (the original silver fox) and you are hooked.  I mean, it has been the #1 show in America for a few years now, so clearly I’m not the only one who loves it

Silver Fox

PARENTHOOD (drama): You have to be heartless with no soul if you don’t love this show.  Loosely based off of the early 90’s movie, this show envelopes you in family love.  Though my family is nothing like Bravermans, I can relate to each and every character in one way or another.  The only thing that weirds me out about this show is that 2 of the characters who play brother and sister are dating in real life.  But once you get passed that, it is all JUST SO GOOD.  I mean, even my dad puts this on his “must watch” list.

HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA (premium cable): And speaking of my dad, he was watching this show before me!  Another show that hooked me in during a marathon-I watched the entire first season in one day.  It actually just ended its second season 2 weeks ago, but I am STILL thinking about it. 2 guys making it in the fashion world on a prayer and a dream-I know it’s only fiction, but it really makes me think I can do whatever I set my mind to in this great city of Manhattan.  Eye-candy bonus–Bryan Greenberg is every Jewish girl’s dreamboat and Gena Gershon is what I aspire to look like when I get older.

NEW GIRL (new show): I’ve mentioned this show before in a previous blog post, but I just can’t get enough.  There are tons of “girl power” shows that debuted this fall, but I like this one the most.  It’s so quirky and so sweet at the same time I just can’t see you NOT falling in love with this show.  Plus, everyone needs their own theme song…

TOP CHEF (reality competition): This show shows true skill.  The contestants are already established chefs so you know they are good to begin with.  The challenges are fun, the talent is through the roof, and this is one show that I pray every day taste-o-vision will be invented soon.  Pack your knives and please make me dinner!!

TORI & DEAN (“real” reality): Ok, start making fun of me now, but I L.O.V.E. this show.  Like words don’t even describe the joy it brings me.  Tori is anxiety ridden, funny, creative, neurotic, a care taker, and super chic…basically me in celebrity form!  I know a lot of these shows are scripted reality, but this one actually feels real (which I hope it is).  I’m not the biggest Dean fan, but what I lack in love for him is made up with her FABULOUS Gusband and her kids’ 2 Guncles.  And those kids-don’t even get me started…

EXTREME COUPONING (guilty pleasure): Yes, it does seem like most of the shows on this list would be described as “guilty pleasure” but this one actually takes the cake.  I had said that I don’t like educational programming, but The Learning Channel has taken “learning” to a whole new level.  You may think a show on coupon clipping is boring, but have you SEEN the stockpiles these people have in their basements’?? A lifetime supply of deoderant! 100+ bottles of laundry detergent! Cans of Progresso soup to last 2 lifetimes!  All for under $20! Ugh, if I were caught in a natural disaster, that is the kind of preparedness I’d like to have.

Stockpile Heaven

WEST WING and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (shows no longer on TV): I would be remiss if I didn’t mention these two shows.  Personally, I have watched West Wing in its entirety at least 5 times.  I own the box set and DVR any and every re-run that is on tv.  Sometimes I’ll get so engrossed in the show that I actually believe Josiah Bartlett is President of the United States.  Friday Night Lights was just spectacular.  It was a show that SHOULD have had record breaking viewership but sadly always fell short (I don’t even know why) and was usually just a mid-season replacement.  I love my parents, but what I wouldn’t do to have been brought up by Eric and Tammy Taylor!

I am sure most, if not all of you are reading this and saying to yourselves “Bullsh*t!”  I know there are several shows that I have left off the list.  The fact that there are less shows on this list than there are recording during any given weeknight at primetime in my apartment just goes to show there are plenty of best shows on television.  These are just the ones currently on my list during this Fall 2011 season.  You don’t have to take my advice and watch any of these shows, but you would really be missing out.  I mean, I’m a girl who is currently unemployed and STILL has a hard time getting through her DVR.  If that doesn’t describe a television aficionado I don’t know what does!!

My TV Guide Cover