Thursday, July 30, 2009

Poker Chick Ponders...

It's past midnight. The alarm is set for 5am as the family is leaving for summer vacation tomorrow. The packing did not begin until 10pm, when this girl returned from her writing group (a.k.a. reason for not posting, also known as the reason you will be glad to say you read her first one day). And what is Poker Chick doing? Networking online, filling out applications for membership to ultra-exclusive professional networks.

Why does this have to be done now, you ask? Excellent question.

In the meantime, we're pleased to report to loyal readers that after 7-8 weeks and several calls to the organization itself the test scores finally arrived. Now on to the fun work of interpreting the numbers and figures that returned. Not to worry. The application process for the 2010-2011 school year only starts in...August. Plenty of time. You peeps are so smart. You now understand why this girl needs a vacation, pronto!

The mini does not know she's in for her first trip to Disneyworld next week. Will she love it or be overwhelmed? Will there be tantrums? And if so, who will fall apart first - mother, or daughter?
Stay tuned....

Monday, July 6, 2009

The second 24 hours

What did the second day involve? Well, let's get the celeb sightings out of the way - Jamie Foxx, Brad Garrett, a couple of other people whose names escape us at the moment.

The hotel was amazing, and PC discovered the joy of catching up on news while you shower. A whole new world of efficiency! Despite the glass shower door and LCD on the bathroom wall, it doesn't work if you need to hear anything, but this is where the CNN ticker comes in handy.

Other than that, Poker Chick is pleased to say she left up $15 after poker, blackjack, and slots - and this is factoring IN the $220 tournament and rebuy costs. Tournament wise? She made it all the way to the second-final table! OK, so there were only five tables, but still - that's top half! 19th out of 50!! Now before you pooh-pooh this, let's put it in context, peeps. In Atlantic City, on a regular weekend, when you have a lot of irregular players, this would not be notable. Decent, but not notable.

However in Vegas, where the players are better anyway, on the day before the World Series of Poker main event begins, when some of those players were in the same tournament Poker Chick was playing in, it's a significantly more notable accomplishment. In addition, she played limit poker at higher stakes than she's ever played - while tired (rare) - between 2 and 5:30 AM, and still didn't lose. She would have won if she didn't have to get up and run to the airport to make a 7:30AM flight.

She had the joy of time with friends, great food, fabulous drinks, an awesome pool, and the trippy Cirque du Soleil LOVE show. Finally, a celebration when a friend won over $1,200 on PENNY slots. Poker Chick won some money at slots herself, the machine was "hot" and "loose diamonds". They were loose, peeps. Loose, we tell you. And hot.

Not bad for 24 hours.

What's on the agenda for the next 24 hours? Picking out dates for next year. With more preplanning, more of you readers can make it!

Friday, July 3, 2009

20 hours in Vegas

What can you do with less than 24 hours in Vegas? Well, a hell lot more than Poker Chick has done. But still, the 48 hour grownup weekend has been quite awesome. So far, she's managed to squeeze in: a quick dinner, long day by the pool with friends including lunch and drinks. She's also managed to discover that playing blackjack in your bathing suit is unbelievably fun. Not to mention the amazing frozen mojitos they had while you played. But better still was walking away with over $350 after she was down to her last $15.

Eventually, Poker Chick made her way to the poker room, where some famous poker players were hanging out (including Ellen DeGeneres and Cheryl Hines), and made a new Canadian friend at the table.

It's 105 degrees outside - but it's dry heat! Way better. Also quite tolerable when sitting in a pool with drinks the whole time. And the pool was a popular place for all, including Jay-Z and Joe Hachem, poker legend.

Ahh, Vegas. It never disappoints. More tomorrow, including PC's performance in a tournament herself..

Sunday, June 28, 2009

HiBye

If Poker Chick is MIA, it's just because she's trying to figure out how the hell to write a funny logline. However she's never too busy to plan for Vegas! Note - especially to those in California, it's not too late to get in on the hotel steal and book some 4th of July fun. C'mon, everyone's doin' it....

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Can you trust people to "get" food allergies?

We encourage you to read this post from our friend at Please Don't Pass The Nuts. For those without food allergies trying to understand how to handle food allergies yourself, perhaps it will provide some perspective as to how attentive you need to be at every single situation involving food outside the home.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Oh test scores - come out, come out, wherever you are!

Results will be sent home 3-4 weeks after the test, they said.

If you recall, Poker Chick has promised to chronicle the craziness of getting your kid into Kindergarten in New York so a first step: an IQ test for FOUR YEAR OLDS otherwise known as the ERB. And we were advised to have mini take it early, in the spring. So she did. 5 weeks ago. And Poker Chick is here to tell you: they lie.

You're smart readers. You've done the math, haven't you? Then you know where this rant is going. It's going to why put a mother through torture! Poker Chick is checking the site every day for those scores while simultaneously berating herself for even thinking about them since she truly believes the thought that one test on a FOUR YEAR OLD can give you any kind of idea of how smart they are is redonculous. And furthermore, while this test is needed for only every single private school in Manhattan, Poker Chick is trying to go the public route.

So here she sits, waiting for some outsider to validate her child's brilliance through a testing process she doesn't believe in and for a school she probably won't go to.

Welcome to Kindergarten in New York. It's not for the faint of heart.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Where To Turn To In Your Darker Hours

There are times a woman needs some non-judgmental understanding. An outlet for confession, one that does more than instruct you to do Hail Mary's. One that can relate and perhaps offer a few beverage suggestions as well.

So Poker Chick would like to introduce her newest link...





Helping mothers everywhere b*tch with satisfaction since 2009.

Dear Therapist....

Yes, Poker Chick is really writing a screenplay. Stop snickering. And it was going well. At first.

She had it all figured out: the original story idea, sequence of events, even had the professional software and formatting all figured out. And it was coming together, it really was. The characters, witty dialogue, three-act structure. An entire first draft, nearly finished. Well, 1/3 nearly finished anyway.

And then she had to hand it in.

Thus began a severe crisis of confidence as the days tick towards D-day, the day that her entire class will tear her apart. While she is not allowed to say a word. They will point and laugh all at once, it will be scary, as if she is in a fun house of horrors. Words like "amateur" and "hack" will be tossed about carelessly. She will be exposed.

So if anyone knows the right thing to say to prevent her from skipping the next class, please go ahead and speak. And while you're so inclined, if you could suggest funny ways to die, that'd be great too. Because despite hours of research and time spent watching fun shows like "Dr. G, medical examiner" and "Trauma in the E.R.," Poker Chick has not yet found it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Food, there it is!!

Once upon a time, a good friend, along with Poker chick and Poker husband, wrote up a plan for the ideal restaurant. Since this restaurant does not yet exist, we did the next best thing: evaluate every place we did eat at. The criteria for how well we liked a place depended on how well it performed on the following foods:
  1. French onion soup
  2. Crab cakes
  3. Fresh guacamole made to order
  4. Chicken and steak fajitas (not either or, just that specific combo)
  5. Fresh warm crusty bread with butter that is spreadable, but not melty
  6. Macaroni and cheese. Mmmm.....cheese.
  7. Fries. Crisp on the outside, warm, and nice and salty.
  8. No salad (you don't make friends with salad)
  9. Sliders (this gives a place bonus points)
  10. Key lime pie.
  11. Donuts. They could be fancy donuts, but still - donuts.
  12. Only the following liquor: Belvedere vodka, margaritas with at least 20 different tequila options, and Veuve Cliquot champagne. Good bubbly is important.

If anyone knows a restaurant in New York that has all these things (or a lot of them), let us know. In the meantime, today we wish this friend a happy birthday!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers reading this. You deserve way more appreciation and respect than you get for what you do, but we hope at least for today you feel special.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What makes someone a writer?

Everyone has had to write at some point in their lives. Poems, school papers, stalker emails....
We've all been there. But most of us wouldn't identify with the term "writer". Very few people, when you ask them what they do say "I'm a writer".

When they do we are in awe. How cool, how sexy. Writers are inherently interesting and mysterious. We toil away in our cubicles and some lucky bastard gets a god-given gift they can make money out of. We are jealous. We are impressed.

We also have a stereotype in our head of a what a "real" writer is like. For example, a tall blonde with implants and the name "Bunny" - probably won't get taken seriously as a writer. It's not fair but we all do it.

For the first time in her life today, Poker Chick felt what it is like on the other side. Picture this:

FADE IN.

INT. STARBUCKS - DAY

A young woman, POKER CHICK, is waiting in a long line for her coffee. It is a rainy weekend in New York, the kind where people forego errands and stay in their apartments, deliciously reading their Sunday Times over the course of an afternoon.

In the local Starbucks, optimists buzz about in their jewelery and Sunday best, pretending the rain can never affect the tone of the day. POKER CHICK is not one of them. She has no ironed clothes, no fancy shoes. She has not even dried her hair. She has something important to do. She is dressed in the only clothes that could be respected as authentic, ripped jeans, a hooded sweatshirt, and canvas sneakers.

She observes the man standing in front of her. He is big and very masculine in his appearance.

MACHO MAN
I'd like a grande green tea latte, please. Soy milk, no foam. And a splash guard with that.

BARISTA
Excuse me?

MACHO MAN repeats himself unapologetically.

BARISTA
Yes sir. That'll be $6.95. Would you like some oatmeal with that?

POKER CHICK grins to herself in smug delight as her coffee is ready. Her task ahead is not for the faint of heart and a latte won't cut it. She grabs it along with her New York bagel and heads out in the rain with nothing but a hood for protection.

Back inside, she sits in solitary, looking at a small notebook full of scribbles that are her genius at work. She guards this carefully, despite the fact that it is illegible, lest someone steal her obviously brilliant ideas. She makes a mental note to talk to her agent about trademarking the script. She makes another mental note to go find an agent. She opens her apple computer and takes a sip of coffee.

She is a writer.
FADE OUT.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

We're Going to Vegas, Baby!

It's true. 4th of July weekend. Friends you are hereby invited and encouraged to stay. Rates are cheap if you book soon. Dr. M, sincerely hope you change your position on this one :)

A TV in the bathroom! And a vanity. C'mon, peeps, you can't pass that one up.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

P.S.

If anyone has advice, like, um, what she should write about, feel free to send those ideas in.

Slight Change in Plans

How much can you cram into one day before you collapse?

Poker Chick's sick sense of humor must have caused her to ask that question in her subconscious. The whole full-time job mom thing, clearly not challenging enough. No, no.
Today, she went to work early. As if that wasn't enough she was also services by 7:45 am. By 9am she had already eaten gotten to work, cleaned out her inbox, and formally grieved for her mother.

At 3pm she finally at something. At 6pm, having had a very busy day, did she go home? No.
She went to class. Yes, class. For some inexplicable reason, Poker Chick has taken it upon herself to add learning how to write a screenplay into her already overflowing life. Who needs sleep?

Smart peeps who can read between the lines will notice that this leaves little time for blogging.
So writing time will have to be re-focused for a bit. At least while the first draft of a screenplay starts coming together. And we all know screenwriting is the de rigeur job loss backup plan. Some prepare their resumes just in case. Poker Chick is going to prepare a screenplay.

This means you are all faced with a decision:

  1. Suffer Poker Chick withdrawal for some time OR
  2. Be forced to read random scenes in lieu of blog entries and offer constructive criticsm.

Pick your poison, please.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Trimming the Fat

We're going on a diet. Poker Chick is disgusted with herself these days, and how accustomed she has gotten to the excess. Sure, it's convenient. Yes, it's wonderful and luxurious to indulge. It starts out innocent enough. A little here and a little there. But you add up the little bit of carelessness each day and it's doing major damage. So, like many Americans, Poker Chick has made a resolution.

That's right. No more cabs unless it's absolutely necessary. Every day she will repeat to herself: "Public transportation is practical and economical."

It's time to put this wallet on a diet.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Under The Weather

The signs were all there.

She came home Friday a weepy, emotional mess. Skipped dessert and went to bed early. Then she even slept later than usual. The realization that something was wrong hit when she came home from ballet on Saturday afternoon and took a nap. And this girl never naps. Not only did she sleep for over an hour, but she napped intentionally, crawling into bed without so much as a word.

Yep, Poker Chick's sick, all right.

Fortunately, mini was all set to help her feel better. "I'm gonna give you a medicine hug momma, as soon as I finish pooping!" she exclaimed.

Aaah, mini.

Cough.

Sneeze.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

An Impossible Request

We realize Poker Chick is asking for the moon here, but if anyone has a Passover dessert recipe that somehow contains no eggs, no nuts, no sesame, no soy, and (obviously), no flour, she would really really really appreciate it!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Getting into Kindergarten in Manhattan: a.k.a. Insanity

Loyal readers will be delighted to learn that beginning in September, Poker Chick will begin chronicling what will be a 9-month long journey that represents a unique pleasure of parents living in NYC.

That's right, peeps, she is about to venture into the hell that is figuring out where your 4-year old will go to elementary school.

It is at this point that the naive will simply assume that we are referring to Private school admissions. And the intense process of getting a kindergarten seat at one of Manhattan's elite private schools has certainly been well-documented. So no, Poker Chick is not set out to tell people more of the same. Any Manhattan parent considering private school knows without a doubt the nightmare that they are about to embark on.

No, peeps. We're talking about public school. You see, like many, Poker Chick paid a premium to own a home zoned for an excellent elementary school. She sighed a sigh of relief, knowing this would buy her a few years of free education, and a ticket out of the private school madness should she so choose.

Poor, poor, ignorant Poker Chick. Little did she know that the basic right of an education for your child in your neighborhood does not apply to Manhattan.

According to this article in the NY Times last week, approximately 30% of people who registered for some Upper East Side public schools were put on a wait list. A wait list. As in might not go. Thirty percent, peeps. Consider for a moment the sheer shock of this fact.

So, short of moving to the suburbs, what's a parent to do? See if you can follow the options:

1) Register for your public school and hope. Of course, the deadline for registration changes every year. And it's poorly communicated. And if you miss it you're screwed. But in theory, that is the easy route.

2) Take a state-administered "IQ" test. Relax knowing your child's entire academic destiny rests on how good a mood they are in one afternoon and whether or not they feel like talking to the "tester". If they deem your child "brighter" than 90% of other Manhattan preschoolers, and you are interested, the city has gifted and talented classes within certain schools. Of course, it's only a few. And these schools are nowhere near where you live. And even if you get in you won't necessarily get into your first choice, it might be another, and because there's such a wide range of schools in Manhattan this school may be a hell of a lot worse than the school that's right across the street for you. So there's that.

3) If your child is "brighter" than 96, 97, 98 or 99% of their peers*, one might be lucky enough to be invited to apply to one or more three citywide gifted & talented schools. Three separate programs. Sometimes, they all use one test for cutoffs. Sometimes they use different ones. And - you guessed it - it's different every year. And even after all this more students qualify than they have spots for. So even if you get past all this you have to be lucky enough to be selected at random among these. And who knows which you'll get into. But hey, it's not like they are really different from each other or anything (Note sarcastic tone).

Luckily, you can learn all this on tours of these schools in the fall. That is, if you are lucky enough to call at the exact moment and get one.

3) There is a separate school that is outside of the system but still technically public. This involves a several-hundred dollar psychological assessment, an entirely different screening process including interviews, and of course - entirely different due dates than any of the other options above. Oh, and did we mention several thousand applications for a handful of spots?

4) One can apply for an exception, where you try to get into a public school in your district but not zone. So, afraid of your kid being bussed off to who knows where in September if you don't get into your school, you can try for the one four blocks away that's just as good. This requires a great deal of creativity as you must come up with a reason to justify such an exception. It was a more common practice years ago, but this route is now typically reserved for adrenaline junkies who think they can beat the 1,000,000 to one odds of success and who don't mind the stress of wasting their time in this fashion.

4) There's always private school. Cough up $35,000 or more a year not including books, after school programs and camp, and you can swap all this stress for the different stress of impressing the right people to get your kid in. Then again, at least all those schools have the same dates and all go by one test.

Now, how many think that at the end of this 9 months you can relax? One nightmare of a year and you're done for years, right?

Well that depends. Some schools go through 5th grade and there are far fewer middle schools you might like, not to mention private school has very few spots at that age group. So 5th grade is often the year that sends parents running for the 'burbs. But some of these schools go through 7th grade. One goes through 8th. Another all the way through 12th. But as they say, you never know. You may get lucky! You may win the crap shoot!

And there you have it. The insanely stressful and competitive process for getting your Manhattan 4-year old into PUBLIC school.

As so, Poker Chick is sending out a request to all brilliant math minds out there. If your odds of getting shut out of your school are 30%, and your odds of getting into special school x are 10%, and your odds of getting into special school y are 2%, and your odds of getting into one other amazing school are greater than accidentally finding a frog in your breakfast cereal, what are the odds of getting a desirable kindergarten spot altogether?

This, peeps, is the million dollar question. Welcome to New York.
*Percentage cutoff points are unclear and seems to vary each year. And possibly by school. Of course it does.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Important advice

In case you peeps were wondering, Grey's Anatomy was really, really awesome this week. We know you really needed to know that.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Poker Chick is contemplating a trip to Vegas. It's been way too long.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Network Television Finally Brings Food Allergy Awareness into the Mainstream

"C'mon guys, we've gotta get a move on!"
"What is that?"
"Peanut butter"
"Mom, we're a peanut free school"
"I know, but...Justin ate all the turkey, so just tell your teacher that it's (puts finger on mouth in shushing motion and whispers) soy butter"

The above dialogue is presented with thanks to ABC for airing it in this past Sunday's episode of "Brothers and Sisters". Now, we know what you think Poker Chick might be about to say, but we'll surprise you here. It's actually good to see a national network taking an issue present in most schools and bringing it to the mainstream. And since mothers of young children must be pretty big in this show's demographic, they are the perfect segment to be influenced by ABC's message regarding parents' roles in keeping our schools safe.

Poker Chick is most pleased to see the show taking moral responsibility seriously in its story lines, so much so, in fact, that she has been inspired to offer a similar scenario to the network for consideration:*

Keggers for Kiddos
(teenage girl on phone)
"Mom, why are you handing me the car keys? "
"Honey, I have to go take care of something, so please do me a favor and take your little brother to karate"
"But mom, I've had three beers. You know I'm not allowed."
"I know sweetie, but it's just once, it'll be fine, I promise."
"But what if a cop stops me?"
"Just tell them that it was some (whispers) bad apple juice and its.....its fermenting in your stomach. You'll make something up."
"I don't have a license. I don't even have a permit".
"Well I'm your mother and I hereby permit you to drive. There. Now go."
"What about Billy?"
"Well he can have one, but only one beer."
"Mom, he's five years old."
"You're right (hands her cup). Better mix it with half water."

Don't care for this one? Here are a couple other ones Poker Chick could write for you:

Doctor, Schmoctor:
"But mom, the doctor said I'm not supposed to go to school with meningitis"

But we need the money:
"Mom, I thought we had to tell the baby's mother that our house was condemned for lead paint?"


We don't like the neighbors anyway:
"Shouldn't I wash my hands of this raw chicken before going over to take care of old Mrs. Smith?"


Poker Chick would like to invite her readers to come up with some of her own, all will be posted (and not just in the comments section). For those a little less comfortable with the limelight, please feel free to send mad props to the writers over at ABC directly. Comments can be sent to the audience relations department via this link, or sent to:

ABC, Inc.
500 S. Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521-4551

(818) 460-7477


Feel free to cc your local congressman (or woman), we hear they love this stuff. Poker Chick is working on a fan letter of her own, but it will take a couple of days to perfect. After all, what does one say to a national network who just brought the issue of food allergies at school to the forefront of people's consciousness? Millions of children with serious allergies and their parents must be speechless thinking about the wonders this has done for their safety at school. Thank you doesn't seem to do it justice. She'll keep you posted.

*Original story lines by Poker Chick; all fictitious and sarcastic. All rights reserved.

And Now, A Musical Interlude...


Ha-llelujah!!! Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Halle-e-lu-jah!

(Image, left, courtesy of a certain Quaker digital library. No sh*t, really.)

Handel's messiah chorus was the only song going through this Jew girl's head when the super announced that the water level in mini's room was finally zero. We could fill in all holes and paint away! Let the fixing begin! One can only imagine the sweet euphoric feeling following this news. Like a huge weight was lifted off her shoulders. This is an amazing feeling that lasted quite a while.

37 minutes, to be exact. Because that's when she noticed some pulling on the paint on the wall below the light switch on her bedroom. Suddenly the wet carpet in the hallway made sense. And.....(shocker!)....she followed the messed up paint trail up with her eyes only to find the plaster on her ceiling wet and heavy and looking about to cave in. Excellent.

Super comes back. Again.

Super (once again) claims no big deal. Vacant apartment upstairs has been showing without supervision and someone left the sink faucet on and left. Water shut off, it'll dry, building will fix it, problem solved. Thanks super. As always, most helpful.

Did any of you go to summer camp? If so, you may be familiar with the song that suddenly replaced any other lyrics in Poker Chick's head. It's unofficial title is "the most annoying song in the world".

Oh, this is the leak that never ends......

It's only funny because it's true, peeps. 100% true. 75 days and counting.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Cake That Took Two Months To Post

This is a follow up to a plea for help a while ago in this post. Egg-free chocolate cake for 20+ kids and their parents. Poker Chick is proud to say she has a success story for many of you. At least, in her definition, anyway.

Step 1: The cake

Step 2: The frosting



Step 3: Add third layer, frost, decorate and it actually looks like cake!



Thus ends the domestic series of this blog. Moving forward, local friends may now trade favors for baked goods. The rest of you can help us think of something more amusing to write about.


Behold, cake! And it was good!

"Insanely Delicious" Hamentaschen

This is a quote from a close relative and (this is the important part) trained chef. They go on to say:

"The dough part melts in your mouth, and the filling, man....I would like to use profanity to describe how good it is, but since we have a baby in the room..."



(Fillings, above: traditional prune and apricot as well as raspberry and chocolate.)

And yes peeps, it's egg, nut, and seed free. But there is butter. Mmmmm.....butter.

Happy Purim!

"How To Compliment Your Friend's Ugly Baby "

Not an original post, but a link to this great post on NYC moms.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spread the Word, Peeps

This might be the biggest progress in the food allergy community yet. Check out the trailer to this documentary due on PBS in May. Perhaps now the world will finally get it.



*Thanks to nut-free mom for bringing this to our attention.

The Leak Saga, Part 3

Yesterday, a steam pipe exploded in a all in mini's room. That's right, you heard us, a steam pipe. Did you even know that could happen in apartment buildings? Apparently it can. Once every 5th floor. So now there is a hole in mini's wall that looks like this:
Of course, one could think to yourself: that's great!! This totally explains the wet plaster smell, the paint bubbling of the wall (and subsequent hole that was "dried up") yet remains inexplicably wet and thus still undiagnosed.

You could think that the mystery was finally solved, and it would be completely logical thinking. Except this wall on the complete other side on the room. So where does that leave us? One mysterious leak has been "simply explained" by poor plumbing in the apartment upstairs. Water lines were cut off. It did not dry up.

Then the "aha" of the leaky washing machine. Which was fixed except the smell was still there. And then the oven was pulled out of the wall so that we could find another leak. The water was shut off and it was chalked up to odd coincidence. Then the steam pipe exploded. And apparently this "part" that broke is only on every 5th floor.

Three (possibly four) crazy coincidences. And none of them have resolved the original issue, because somehow the wall is still getting wet. And remember also that roaches are attracted to the smell of wet plaster.


So Poker Chick is in need of help from you peeps. She needs answers to these questions:

1) Can anyone out there calculate the odds of all of this happening in the same room at the same time? There's gotta be a way to make some money off this in Vegas.

2) Can anyone advise a girl how to have the conversation with the insurance company who had already assessed and paid for the "initial" water damage? "No really sir, I realize how this must sound, I promise we are not making this up for the money.....hello? hello? Are you still there?"

Stay tuned for the exciting saga! It's too bad Poker Chick doesn't have a whole house. Home ownership is so much fun!!

Celebration in the Poker Chick Household!

The mini's eating repertoire might actually stand a chance at expanding!!!
The New York City Council just passed a bill by 46-2 to educate food service establishments and their staff on food allergies, safety, and cross-contamination concerns.

"The poster, which will be available in multiple languages, will highlight the most common food allergens, as well as provide information about how to avoid cross contamination and what signs to look for to identify an allergic reaction. The poster will be displayed in a conspicuous location that is visible to food preparers and food handlers.
'This is a small and simple thing we can do, but it has the potential to save lives,' Council Member Lappin said."


Jessica Lappin, you definitely have this family's vote and sorry for voting against you last time. And thanks to Allergic Girl for bringing this to our attention. You can read the full press release over at her site.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jack Bauer and How He Messes With Your Head

As with "Lost", Poker Chick enjoys a healthy love/hate relationship with "24". With "Lost" there's the unknown element of science beyond our knowledge, or magic, or who knows. Regardless, it's enough for you to sort of suspend disbelief long enough to buy the show.

With "24", PC's starting to struggle a bit too much and it's as if the writers aren't even trying to explain the inconsistencies anymore. And it's ruining a perfectly good story. For example, take the chip Jack Bauer ripped out of the enemy's body. This is major news - a chip that has the name of every double crosser in the entire government. The answer to his situation. The names that will give the President security and allow federal agencies to be re-utilized without fear of being compromised. So, after literally ripping it out of some man's body, with blood on his hands - what does Jack do? That's right. He hands it off to the first person who walks by with a blase "give this to this guy, will you?"

C'mon, Jack. You know better than this. Make a copy. Stick it under your hat. At least make a show of trusting who you give it to vs. some extra who jumped at the chance to make $400 that day. Do you really expect us to believe you're that dumb?

Next there's the chick he's working with. Despite years of FBI field training she suddenly develops a conscience and turns into a whiny baby over one dead body. Not that dead bodies aren't something to cry over. But it's a complete disconnect from the enjoyable 2-dimensional character you expect.

And then, right when you're starting to lose faith, you notice the eye makeup.

Yeah, yeah. Most women have that eye smudge from makeup when they cry. But in this case? Think about it. Enough mascara to smudge? So you really want us to believe that somewhere, after going rogue, getting shot in the neck, and being buried alive, somewhere in there she found time to re-apply her eye makeup?

Please. You have got to be kidding.

So to the writers of "24" Poker Chick says: Wake up, peeps. You're getting lazy and we're not dumb.

Deep Thoughts

Poker Chick is wondering whether to keep watching the President's address or give in to the vodka and go to bed....

Betcha Thought The Leak Was Fixed, Didn't You?

Several weeks, machines, and thousands of dollars later the wall is all dried up. The washing machine is fixed. We're ready to get the room re-plastered and repaired.

Except there's that wet plaster smell again. Doh!

As Poker Chick weekends seem doomed to torture these days, Friday night started with the oven being ripped away from the wall, revealing a giant puddle of water behind it. The water line from the sink to the fridge has been shut off, theoretically fixing this hidden "leak". Except that something is still wet inside after all that.

Stay tuned for next week, when Poker Chick will report on how her kitchen and bathroom have been completely ripped out and destroyed in order to find said leak. Have we mentioned how much this girl loathes home improvement?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Because Motherhood is Funny

Poker Chick doesn't link to many blogs, but the ones she does have one or more things in common: they are good friends, they are loyal supporters of Poker Chick, or they make her laugh. She's pleased to add Jessica as her newest permalink (right). Aside from being a great writer, she produces a series of webisodes that are seriously entertaining. The one below is a good starter one if you want to test the waters. It made PC literally laugh out loud. If you think that's funny, and you're not easily offended*, check out this latest one.




*Why do we have the feeling half of you skipped right to the one on the link and watched that first before watching the video on the post?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What Time Is It? No, Seriously, What Time Is It?

Who can tell Poker Chick, once and for all, what time is it? She's tired of always being either 5 minutes late or 5 minutes early to meetings.


10:09






10:12







10:14








10:13





10:15

Making it Safer to Eat Out


Mad props to Ming Tsai, celebrity chef and food allergy awareness advocate. Thanks to him, Massachusetts peeps with food allergies are eating out with more frequency and less stress. Let's hope others follow suit....soon.

Monday, February 16, 2009

And how was your week?

If you're, er, a human being, you know what it's like to be overwhelmed. Add children to the mix. Add a full-time job that's been working you 60 hours a week for what seems like forever. Add school contracts, figuring out camp, refinancing a home, and about a zillion other things within a one-week window and you have.......

You have a severe drought of Poker Chick posts, for one. What else? Let's see...

Stress
Anger
Irritability
Major sleep deprivation
Scatterbrain
Disorganization
Tantrums (4 year olds don't respond well to too much going on)
A diet of caffeine and alcohol mixed in with french fries and the occasional meal. Hey, a girl's gotta work through it somehow!

Poker Chick is way hotter than this woman (left)

Stress. Life. Chaos. Now, this is not intended to be a rant but a necessary foundation to set to understand the weekend from hell. It was supposed to be the weekend of catchup. It started out well. Poker husband let this girl sleep in (all the way to 9am!! isn't it sad that that really is exciting?) Then she went to pilates, the first formal exercise she's had in months. And probably the first full breath too (thanks, Miranda, trainer extraordinaire!) Then she went to do several hours of work. She was calm. She was productive. It was amazing. All was going according to plan. When the work was done all she had to do was sign the mortgage papers, do 6 weeks' worth of laundry, write 30 thank you notes, and book a trip of Florida. In one afternoon.

You see where we are going with this, don't you?

Yup. It didn't happen. PC came home to more chaos. A washing machine hose broke. Water damage was in the floor, wall, plaster, somehow all the way through into mini's room. Large chunks of paint and plaster were missing next to her bed. And apparently this was also the case in the apartment below as well.

So forget thank you's and papers and catching up on a huge backlog of stuff. Cue schlepping downstairs for laundry and digging through pockets for quarters. Cue back and forth calls from super to insurance company. Cue men lugging 5 or 6 giant machines into PCs apartment for several days to prevent mold. Cue mini now sleeping in PCs room and using her bathroom as hers were unusable. Cue more stress as these machines were louder than plane engines during take-off, and they had to be on 24/7! Cue plumbers and painters and a threatened lawsuit for the neighbors insurance deductible.

And (this really is the absolute worst part for PC), cue cockroaches. Who like the water and came out to play. In her kitchen. And her bathroom. And her medicine cabinet, which she learned only when opening it looking for a Dora band-aid. Cue more calls to the super. Exterminators. Traps. Cue sleepless nights 'cause this girl is a baby when it comes to these things and the dark meant they would come out creeping and crawling.

So, friends and fans. The lesson for you is: if it's been a while since Poker Chick has had something to say, rest assured. There will be an interesting story in it for you soon.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bohemian Glam

Shoutouts. Poker Chick has lots of shoutouts to make. Necklaces, roses, dinner, shows, good wishes, surprise cupcakes. The amazing combination of good friends, polenta fries, Veuve Clicquot...and a babysitter. All of you know who you are and we love you and thank you.

No, we're not talking about Valentine's Day, peeps. That is a holiday that is contrived and disingenuous and cheesy. Poker Chick has always looked upon Valentine's day with disdain and if you want to know more we encourage you to read this post or you can read this post. We're talking about a holiday none other than our very own girl's birthday. And, for once in long while, she's engaging in some shameless enjoyment of it.

But seriously, to everyone who remembered, thanks and you rock. And to everyone who's confused, we'll post something for you soon too, so don't hurt your head trying to make sense of this post title. Poker Chick readers are pretty awesome and loyal so in the meantime we're going to throw in a shoutout of gratitude to you too.

Finally, another shoutout (boy, are we keeping them in business) to Sephora, where the cashier smiled at PC, said "Happy Birthday", and proceeded to give her free lip gloss. Three of them. Sweet!

OK, 3...2....1....lovefest officially over. Your usual Poker Chick is back :)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Live From Hell It's A Poker Chick Update!

Poker Chick has been a little behind on posting. There is an explanation, and she'll post pictures of proof. But all we have to say is look up the word "industrial strength dehumidifier", add in a little insurance, a superintendent, and a 'neighborly' coop lawsuit, and you'll begin to understand what the last few days have been like.

More to come, we promise.


A little more, as promised, picture of industrial dehumidifier (right).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wake Up And Smell the Fenugreek Seeds!!

Poker Chick is not sure which is more upsetting, the fact that this is national news, or the fact that it was on the front page of CNN.com. Regardless, it's still kind of funny. And it's not even satire.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The source of a mysterious maple syrup-like smell that has periodically blanketed New York is not a particularly aromatic pancake house but a New Jersey factory involved in the processing of fenugreek seeds, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday.

The source of New York's sweet-smelling aroma has been identified as a food-flavoring firm in New Jersey.

The sweet aroma first descended upon Manhattan and northern New Jersey in October 2005, initially triggering several building evacuations as well as concern the scent was physically harmful. Authorities from the Office of Emergency Management soon concluded it posed no danger to the public.
The odor made several return appearances in subsequent years, each time confounding nostrils before vanishing as perplexingly as it arrived.
Comparing information about local wind speed, wind direction and air humidity against the locations of citizen complaints about the smell, officials from the city's Department of Environmental Protection narrowed down the potential source to four factories in northern New Jersey that produce food additives and fragrances.
Last week, when several dozen residents of Upper
Manhattan called to complain about the smell, the environmental department, having developed a new evidence gathering procedure, gathered air samples from each suspected source in canisters. Tests revealed the pungent perpetrator of that incident was a Hudson County facility owned by Frutorom, a company that develops and manufactures flavors for the food, fragrance and pharmaceutical industries.
The specific chemical agents responsible for the scent are esters, compounds "created by the reaction between an alcohol and an acid" during the processing of fenugreek seeds, according to
Bloomberg.
Toasted fenugreek seeds are often used in the production of artificial syrups and in the cuisines of a number of cultures.
The mayor said New Jersey officials, who cooperated with New York in the investigation, had concluded that Frutorom had not violated any rules. He said New Yorkers will have to tolerate the syrup smell's occasional return, noting that it's a relatively benign odor.
"All things considered I can think of a lot of things worse than maple syrup," he said.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

SHUT UP, really?

We kid you not, peeps. You heard it here first. Read article below, courtesy of this week's AdAge. It's the cover story.

Marketing's New Red-Hot Seller: Humble Snuggie

After 4 Million Sold, There's Waiting List for Blanket With Arms

BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- The Snuggie blanket launched nationally on direct-response TV in October, just as the economy was slowing to a crawl, so the timing seemingly couldn't have been worse. However, it turns out the timing couldn't have been better.

Snuggie: Pullback by advertisers allowed marketer to buy cheap remnant time.
Snuggie: Pullback by advertisers allowed marketer to buy cheap remnant time.
Photo Credit: Matt Armendariz

The quirky little blanket with sleeves has become the raiment of the zeitgeist, with more than 4 million units sold in just over three months and more than 200 parody videos on YouTube. Fox News honed in on a woman wearing a Snuggie as she braved the cold attending Barack Obama's inauguration on Jan. 20, five days after Ellen DeGeneres donned one on her daytime talk show.

Ms. DeGeneres has joined a host of folks mocking the oddball Snuggie ad, which shows people chatting on the phone down on their sofas or attending sporting events in a garment that looks like something out of "Star Wars" or a Franciscan monastery. One of the most popular ads, with more than 125,000 views as of last week, proclaimed a "Cult of the Snuggie." Its opening text declares: "In a godless and cold world, there is but one place to seek warmth and salvation" as a segue into the next two minutes.

With 4 million of the blankets already shipped or on order, or just under $40 million in retail sales, Scott Boilen, president of Allstar Marketing Group, Hawthorne, N.Y., is laughing all the way to the bank. The company behind the Snuggie is moving the blankets out the door as fast as it can get Chinese suppliers to crank them out.

That's sometimes frustrating for customers who want them faster than the promised four-to-six-week delivery time, he said. "People want this product so bad, they want it as soon as they order it," Mr. Boilen said. "And we received so many more orders in the beginning than we anticipated."

Snatching up Snuggies
He said he's heard reports of customers swamping stockers and grabbing all the Snuggies before they even reach the shelves at Bed, Bath & Beyond or Walgreens, the first two retailers to carry the blankets.

The timing worked well on many fronts for Snuggie. With conventional advertisers pulling back, remnant time for direct-response ads has swelled. And because apparel and other consumer-product sales are down, plenty of idle Chinese factories are eager for business.

Ads tout the Snuggie as a way to cut heating bills and let folks curl up on the sofa with their hands free. With a growing number of consumers hunkering down and looking to save money, two Snuggies and two book lights for $19.95 is starting to look like a pretty good deal.

And something about the Snuggie just matches the spirit of the times. "It's a tremendous value in today's tough economic times," Mr. Boilen said. "In this type of economy, people are looking for a value, and this is certainly a value at the price point. ... People are staying home more, and it makes them feel good."

The ad somehow has become part of pop culture, he said, though Allstar Marketing has done nothing so far to cultivate any of the viral buzz or media appearances, including a Facebook fan club with more than 4,000 members.

Rare exception
Mr. Boilen's company has also been behind such DRTV kitsch as Debbie Meyer Green Bags, Aqua Globes and the Topsy Turvy tomato planter. But Snuggie looks like it could end up being the biggest hit, particularly after it expands into a whole range of Snuggie products and full retail distribution at the likes of Walmart later this year.

Generally, the DRTV model has been to come as close as possible to breaking even on sales of product, less media cost, and make profit when products roll into stores, Mr. Boilen said. Snuggie is one of the rare products that projects as profitable this year even before full retail distribution.

Warm front: So far, 4 million Snuggies have been shipped or backordered.
Warm front: So far, 4 million Snuggies have been shipped or backordered.

Fred Vanore, president of Blue Moon Studios, which produced the Snuggie ad and has also made DRTV ads for conventional marketers such as Procter & Gamble Co. and Church & Dwight's Trojan, believes Snuggie worked "because its time has come."

When Allstar brought the concept to him, he thought of his wife, struggling to keep a throw on as she watched TV in the house and the dog jumped up on her lap. Other scenes, like the family wearing Snuggies to a football game, were intentionally over the top.

"We weren't afraid to have a little fun," Mr. Vanore said. "You may laugh, but when you try it, you really love it."

Not-so original
Snuggie was not, in fact, an entirely original idea. Gary Clegg, a Maine University student, developed a similar product in 1998 -- the Slanket, still sold online and through retailers. But its positioning is largely as a green alternative for lowering heating bills, and its price is $44.95.

"There are very few truly original ideas in this business," Mr. Boilen said. "If the first car that was developed was the only one today, that wouldn't be too good, either."

SlanketLoungin, located in Denver, didn't return calls for comment. Data from Compete.com show getsnuggie.com got more than 300,000 visitors in December. But theslanket.com has obviously benefited from some search spillover: Its traffic increased sevenfold since October to more than 75,000 visitors.

Ultimately, however, it was the quirky problem-solution DRTV ad that made the difference, not the design, said Doug Garnett, president of Atomic Direct, a Portland, Ore., direct-response agency that didn't handle the brand.

"Imagine a product like that just sitting on a retail shelf with no ad," he said. "No one would buy it."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On This Day In History...

"Mommy, I learned about Obama today"
"Oh, really? Who is he?"

"Obama is a man....

...who is black!"

"I see. What else did you learn?"

"He's the President!"

"What does that mean? What is a President?"

"He's somebody who does lots of really good things. And he lives in a white house."
Well, ain't no one gonna sum it up better than that. Happy inauguration, Obama. And happy 4th birthday to the precocious mini.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

And the winner is....

Everyone! The party was awesome and so was the cake. More details as soon as this girl can load the pictures.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Brrrrr

It's really f*cking cold out in New York. A great couple of days for the building boiler to be on the fritz.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Conversation Between A Brother And A Sister

Sister (amidst pity party): "No. No real friends. Bet if I died there'd be no more than 15 people at my funeral".

Brother: "No, c'mon, that's not true."

Sister (shaking her head dramatically): "No, it's true."

Brother (smiling): "No, it's tnot rue. I'd have at least 15 of my friends come to support me".

Sister, laughing out loud. Pity party over.

*Yes, ladies, he's available.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Help! Baking a Birthday Cake Ain't So Easy.

This year the mini requested only one thing for her birthday: a cake free of eggs, nuts and seeds. She was very specific about her desires: it has to be the same cake for everyone. It has to be layers, with chocolate on every layer. And, of course, chocolate icing on top.

Mini tolerated the chocolate chips with the understanding that her mother would remove them all in order for her to be willing to eat it.

Poker Chick used New Year's Eve as an opportunity to "test" a cake. The one on the right was made thanks to the help of Vermont Nut Free chocolate as an ingerdient. Mmmmm. It's definitely the best egg-free chocolate cake she's had. So it is a contender. But not perfect. It tasted ok. But the texture of the cake itself could have been lighter. And the layers (there were two, with icing in between), were so thin, the whole cake was pretty much as tall as one.

And here's the other problem. This cake could serve 6 or 8 kids but not 20. How does one make a cake that looks as impressive as a store-bought "real" sheet cake with a recipe like this? And how does a "non-cook" do that? And by "non-cook", we mean the above is about the best this non-domestic girl could do, and it still took three hours.

Not to put anyone on the spot or anything, but we're hoping some of our allergy-mom friends can offer some been there, done that advice. Whether it be daring bakers, the allergic kid, nut-free mom, or anyone else, we're sure someone out there has been brave enough to bake a cake for a kid's birthday party.

Help!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A little rest

Poker Chick is trying to get some rest for a few days. Just a run-of-the-mill virus, but she didn't want you peeps to think she'd forgotten about you. Unless it's meningitis (which those recent commercials have gotten her thinking about, hmm....) she'll be back to her mocking self soon.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Allergy Mom Dilemma # 3,179

Today's issue: Someone gave the mini a gift. Very thoughtful, only it was a Princess oven bake-type thingie that has product with trace eggs and nuts in it. Why, oh why would you give the mini a real food present? Allow Poker Chick a moment to vent: ARGHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just want to whack my head against a wall!!!!!

OK, now that that's over with, we are faced with just two choices:
1) Say something to the parent (in which case, what?)
2) Say nothing, write a thank-you note, and regift it to someone who has no common link whatsoever.

Thoughts????

Friday, January 2, 2009

Putting it on Backwards and Wearing it Outside Does not Make it any Cooler, Peeps.

Below is a commercial for the new "must have" product. We say this because given the frequency with which it's been airing, it must be high in demand. Or at least have something worth justifing its healthy media budget.

Of course, you may be familiar with this product by its other, less popular, name.....The Bathrobe.