Sunday, January 31, 2010

When Mom is Too Sick to Cook

At the end of last year, I was at a friend's party in downtown Jersey City when a huge platter of warm empanadas were served. When I asked where they came friend my friend smiled. It turned out she had driven all the way to the Heights to pick these babies up. At $1 a piece I'm told they are the best, well-priced empanadas around.

Of course, we're no strangers to Rumba's since we live in the neighborhood but usually we are just dashing in for a cup of their fantastic coffee to go. (The wait staff somehow almost seem disappointed when I tell them I only want one sugar.) This warm, Cuban restaurant is extremely popular and never empty. Sometimes we'll get a roasted chicken dinner to go when we are having a busy night. Occasionally I've taken my daughter in on an early Saturday morning when dad is sleeping in. She gets a buttered roll and mom gets coffee. Here is a link to the menu.

Last week I was laid up with some strange flu-like bug and all I wanted was chicken soup and orange juice. Too weak to even contemplate dragging myself to the store and then into the kitchen, I walked into Rumba's and came out with an enormous container of chicken soup and another huge to go cup of FRESH squeezed OJ from Rumba's awesome retro-looking machine.
I paid $10.

There was plenty to satisfy the munchkin for dinner and it was just the right elixir for mom. Of course, I wouldn't mind if a Jewish deli opened nearby where I could get a nice matzo ball soup (because driving to Englewood or Tenafly is just too ridiculous when you are sick), but Rumba's can do right by you - whether you are sick or not, any day of the week.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Trip to Brooklyn and... Kidville Comes to Hoboken

We were supposed to head out of town this weekend,
but our friend dislocated her knee. So instead of a long drive to Hunter Mountain, we headed over to
Brooklyn with flowers and a get well card. Before stopping over in Park Slope, however, we made a
visit to the fabulous Brooklyn Children's Museum

After visits over the holidays to several crowded museums (not to mention any-day-of-the-week in Manhattan's packed kid spaces) this museum was a delight. It has undergone a major renovation and felt spacious. The Totally Tots exhibit (pictured above) was big hit, with lots of things to bang and build, climb and discover -- not to mention a wonderful, big water table that tiny kids could play in but which also delighted the 5 year olds there. Even the cafe wasn't too crowded. The museum has a lot to see and do, with thoughtful spaces for really, really little babies and a terrific library where we looked at books and played (half a game) of checkers with over-sized pieces.

An upcoming exhibit on the Gullah people (slaves brought from West Africa who lived on the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia and are known for preserving a lot of their African culture and distinct linguistics) looks like it will be great. The museum also had some great literature available about teaching children to read.

After that it was a quick drive to see our friend in Park Slope. There are plenty of great places to shop and dine here, although we stayed in and had a leisurely dinner together.

The day before our trip over the East River to Brooklyn, we took advantange of the nice weather and headed down to Hoboken for a walk on our side of the Hudson. We got there early enough to swing by the Grand Opening of the new Kidville Annex in Hoboken. (

It's a great space, inside the old video store at 1202 Shipyard Lane, just a few doors down from the entrance to the King's on the river side entrance. (There is no cafe here, but there is a Starbuck's around the corner). The place was mobbed with parents and kids. There were crafts, a live music performance and lots of lots of sweaty kids bouncing on the fun, padded gym equipment. You can check out their class listings online. They will also offer a camp program and, of course, another space for birthday party gatherings.

Photo credit: Brooklyn Children's Museum

Sunday, January 3, 2010

O'Keeffe and the Toolkit - An outing to the Whitney

Was I crazy to drag the family out on a recent freezing afternoon to trek over to the Whitney? Maybe, but I couldn't miss the Georgia O'Keeffe Abstraction show (there until January 17.) It was so cold we decided to drive, and found a two-hour parking space just a block away. It paid to get there on the early side, as the galleries were packed and the line to get in was out the door when we left around 2:30 pm; arriving around 12:30 worked just fine.

Kids get in free, but what we didn't know is that each pint-sized art appreciator would be given a small spiral bound notebook and a shiny metal "toolkit.' Of course, all the children were thrilled with the toolbox, proudly carrying them around by the handles. Inside were colored pencils, magnifying glasses and leaves, flowers and other objects for the children to examine and draw, just like O'Keeffe did. Our 5 year old joined other children quietly crouched in corners drawing away. We were able to see the whole show, but kept having to return to one gallery when our kid became obsessed with a painting called "Corn Dark." We also got to show her a lot of paintings and talk about color and the freedom of artistic expression, not to mention the idea of abstraction.

We found a nice children's book in the gift shop called "The Artist in the Desert" which actually had a picture of Corn Dark in the book. All in all a great outing.
Credit: Georgia O'Keeffe
Blue Flower, 1918
Pastel on paper mounted on cardboard, 20 x 16 in.
Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico, gift
of The Burnett Foundation
Private Collection