Thursday, November 30, 2006

Happy Holidays...Here's a Cow

If you are stuck on what to get someone this year and are feeling philanthropic, check out Oxfam's Unwrapped campaign.

They have taken a stodgy idea and given it a sense of humor. For example, you can purchase a sheep for a family in a 3rd world country for $45. As the website says, "Raising these fleecy critters allows women to create their own income...when you give this gift, you know it's helping others, so there's no need to count sheep."

With tons of categories to choose from you will find the perfect cause for the perfect gift. Come a cow it's only 75 bucks!

To learn more about Oxfam, click here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

We All Scream For Rice Dream!

I recently took on the professional advice of a nutritionist and within one consultation, gone are the days of plowing through a bag of Pirate's Booty thinking, "well, it's better than Dorito's" and no longer can I indulge in my addiction to chocolate chip cookies or mounds of Gouda. Dairy=Satan...or something like that.

In my quest to fulfill an unending desire for both sugar and dairy, I discovered the next best thing to Skinny Cows (see past Picky-Chick rave)...Rice Dream's Carrot Cake "rice" cream.

If you like the taste of pumpkin & spice and you have a weakness for ice cream...then you will LOVE and I mean LOVE this frozen treat. Many "healthier option" desserts on the market add Splenda or some other scary unnatural sweetener to give it it's flavor, but Rice Dream doesn't use any refined sweeteners, contains no cholesterol and is lactose free...which does all of us some good.

The next time you are in the frozen food aisle, grab a pint (there are a slew of flavors) won't regret it.

You can find Rice Dream at any Whole Foods or Trader Joe's.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

O.J. Kept Off the Shelf

When I first read last week that O.J. Simpson had a book deal (and possibly a TV deal) worth $3.5 million laying out how he would have killed Nicole...if he had done it...I about fell out of my chair. We already know what he is capable of, but it is absolutely mind boggling that a publisher or television network would have the nerve to think anyone in this world cares about O.J. Simpson or anything that comes out of his mouth.

Well, there is a God...

This morning, I heard on the news that the deal was nixed. Good to know publisher Regan Books (a division of Harper Collins, which is a News Corp. company) finally gained a conscience! Unfortunately, it is likely that O.J. will get to keep the dough...ugh.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Affinia Manhattan Gets a C+

Apparently New York hotels and I just don't get along. I booked a room at the Affinia Manhattan Hotel for a last minute business trip to New York (the W's rates were over $700! Yikes).

Here are some of the disaster highlights:
1. Check-In: Upon arrival I was told that my reservation had been cancelled!
2. Room decor: Convalescent home-like...cherry stained & lacquered furniture and art work you wouldn't put out in a yard sale.
3. Business center: An elementary school would be more computer that could actually take a dvd or cdr.

4. Wake-up Call: Button on the phone didn't actually connect you to anyone who could take wake-up call requests...when I finally did get the request in it was 15 minutes late on delivery...thankfully the street noise woke me up on time.

To be fair, I have to say that the staff was extraordinarily nice and helpful. Whenever there was even the slightest snag they jumped right in to fix the problem. Not a bad place if you are traveling with kids. While it's not fancy, the rooms are huge...small apartments actually and the rates are reasonable (around $280/night). Also, the food in the bar was surprisingly tasty.

It totally could have been worse, I could have been at Dream (see Picky-Chick review).

Affinia Manhattan
371 Seventh Avenue
New York, New York 10001

Roof Top Martini

On a crisp, beautiful night in New York City there is no place better to grab a drink than the roof top bar at the Peninsula Hotel.

While it loses it's outdoor charm during the colder months, the expansive patio is the best spot to enjoy a cocktail from April to October. With plenty of open tables and chairs, you won't find yourself cramming for a spot to rest your wine.

Drinks aren't bargain basement prices, but it's worth every dollar to get a glimpse of 5th Ave. from such a remarkable view.

The Peninsula Hotel
700 Fifth Ave. (at 55th)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Burke Williams Spa - Stay Away

It has been a long time since I have been to Burke Williams Spa. I was given a gift certificate for a massage by a dear friend (a devoted BW fan) and finally redeemed it last night at their Sunset location.

What a huge disappointment. The massage itself was actually pretty good, but everything else was a mess. The sauna was broken and the spa seemed run down and outdated (picture black and white photos of Hollywood legends on the if they would ever go there).

The best part came when I went to pay with my gift certificate...they couldn't find it in the system! I had the actual Burke Williams card, but for some reason there was nothing in their system that showed the certificate in my hand even existed! They checked the purchaser's account, used the serial number on the certificate...nothing.

Even though it was obvious that this was some sort of glitch on their end, they had the nerve to ask me to fork over $150 to cover the cost until they were able to "sort things out." I was promised a call this morning by the spa manager at which point I was told I would be credited the charge, but it's already 1pm and mum's the word.

When all was said and done, I remembered why I always leave there saying, "I'm never going back to Burke Williams again." I just left a message for the manager...stay tuned for the final chapter of "Burke Williams...beyond the nightmare."