Archive for March, 2010

Easter and Springtime Traditions We Love

The forsythia is blooming (or getting ready to); our little Magnolia tree is lush and gorgeous and smells like yummy lemon; the daffodils are popping, and the tulips are not far behind them…

At this time of year, when everything turns a brilliant chartreuse, I can officially come out of my winter slump, and rejoice in the coming of summer. It’s called spring, and it has its good points (more on those in a min), but to me, it’s a happy pit stop on the way to summer. Ah, summer.

The hallmarks of the spring season that make it wonderful (if not August) are as follows:

The bunny cake. Simple, delicious, and a crowd-pleaser every year.

Bunny cake

Bunny cake and baby Jasper.

Sometimes it’s pink. Sometimes it’s yellow, white or lavender (see below). Gooey frosting, gumdrops, toothpicks, and ears cut out of construction paper complete the “look.”

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. This one belongs in your permanent collection. Talk about a working mom! It’s the story of a country bunny, who grows up to be one of the five (yes there are five; it’s all explained in the book, kids) Easter bunnies, despite having 21 children (whom she teaches to run her house like professionals). Yes she can! The illustrations are gorgeous, a kind of South Beach bright. Perfect for spring.

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes,, $8.99

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes,, $8.99

Bluebonnets. Texas.

Jasper in the bluebonnets

Jasper in the bluebonnets.

April and May usually marks the annual pilgrimage to Texas to visit family and friends, and if we’re lucky, we’ve scheduled the trip in time to see the spring bluebonnets, too.

in the bluebonnets

Melisa (and Magnolia) in the bluebonnets.

Luckily, the margaritas, Tex-Mex, good music and company in Texas are not seasonal like the bluebonnet show.

Easter baskets.

First Easter basket

First Easter basket.

Easter basket

"A Clean Getaway"

Bunny and the bunny

First bunny.

Easter baskets 2008

"Look what we found!"

What else is there to say?

Bunny cake in purple

Hippity Hoppity.

March 26 – 28: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas

sandals for spring

Think spring. We are.

Brooklyn City Guidedesign*sponge

For divergent tastes: If Walls Could Talk: A Workshop on the Genealogy of Your Home at the Brooklyn Historical Society & Coney Island Cyclone Season begins — Brooklyn Based

The Park Slope Farmers Market joins The Makers Market at the Can Factory on Sundays (thanks, Helen!) — The Can Factory Market

Mark your calendar now: Fifth Avenue Family FestivalAll About Fifth

Fornino Pizzeria is coming to Park SlopeSlice

Clothing and toy swap in Prospect Heights at Nairobi’s KnapsackMommy Poppins

Free things to do over Spring Break and Easter events this weekend and nextTimeOut New York Kids

Family Flat: 2 Bedroom condo with garden in Clinton HillA Child Grows in Brooklyn

And Weekend Open House PicksBrownstoner

We’re off to Texas in search of warmer weather and spring break diversion, but y’all have fun! More soon.

Baby Names: The Top 50 Names of Style-Conscious Parents

I used to blog about baby names all the time when I wrote about pregnancy for CafeMom. But since I gave up that gig and we’re not currently expecting (sorry, grandparents!), it’s been a while. I am baby name-obsessed, though, so when my friend Liz passed on a fun link to The Elite’s Top 50 Baby Names last week, I couldn’t resist.


Magnolia didn't make the list; Jasper did.

The piece was by Pamela Redmond Satran, the baby naming guru behind nameberry and numerous baby name books, several of which we perused endlessly while waiting for our kids to arrive (our favorite was Cool Names for Babies.) “Elite” is what she chooses to call selective, style-conscious parents who want an unusual name for their child — the people studying the Social Security Administration‘s list of Most Popular Baby Names and deliberately steering clear of the ones that top it (no Emma or Jacob, thank you very much.)

Satran susses out the trends and ranks the top names that parents in search of the unusual are choosing (so, yes, what this means is that many of the people in search of distinctive names are picking the same ones.) Jasper is on the list (#7 for boys), but I’m definitely not bothered — I still love the name, which is of course the most important thing.

When we were picking our babies’ names — Jasper and Magnolia — here’s what we considered:

  • We wanted unusual, yes, but not unheard of.
  • We liked the idea of the names having a Southern feel (we both have connections to Texas and a love of the South.)
  • We wanted the names to sound nice together, and we kind of liked that they were “things” — a stone and a flower.

Did your kid’s name make the Elite list? (Henry is #1 for boys, and Charlotte for girls, by the way.) How did you pick your baby names? What was most important to you?

I Love My Wallaroo Rain Hat!

Sounds banal, but it’s true: my rain hat makes life a little bit brighter. I can hold a child’s umbrella without juggling my own. I can push a stroller (again, no umbrella) and still have my head stay dry. And I can peek out from under the brim and feel mysterious. Not so much in this picture, taken on a non-rainy day, but you get the idea.

Wallaroo rain hat

Wallaroo rain hat, $40

Don’t moms always know best? And by that I mean my mom, who found this excellent hat, from the Wallaroo Hat Co., and gave it to me for Christmas. It’s lined with some soft fabric, and is adjustable, so the wind doesn’t rip it off my head when I’m heading out into the weather. Love that!

Now I just need a good raincoat. Maybe I’ll finally buy this one I’ve been coveting over at Ann Taylor Loft:

Ann Taylor Loft Ruffle Trench

Ann Taylor Loft Ruffle Trench, $128

Won’t it look cute with my hat?

Family Weekly Menu, March 21-27

Still recovering from a gorgeous weekend here in New York. Grilling, gardening, kids playing on the sidewalk. And a most excellent Sunday brunch (Helen, we want that strata recipe!) at the Gingold-Rogan household, featuring some fab strawberry daiquiris. I could use one now.

Anyhoo, so last week ended up being a bit crazy and we didn’t get to some of the recipes on the menu (like Pasta Carbonara & Thai Chicken Curry). So they’re back in the saddle for this week!

The menu:

Sunday: Pan-roasted Salmon and Green Beans (anybody have an opinion on what kind of salmon is the best? We’ve been having some flavorless organic salmon of late)

kids: Roasted Fish and Veggies

Monday: Pasta Carbonara with Broccoli Rabe

kids: Spaghetti Bolognese, Broccoli on the side

Tuesday: Thai Chicken Curry with Zucchini, Carrots, Snow Peas and Ginger

kids: Stir Fry Chicken and Vegetables

Wednesday: Burritos with Fresh Guacamole and Green Salsa

kids: White Cheddar Mac & Cheese and Broccoli

Thursday: Quiche with Spinach and Bacon for all!

Provencal Chicken and Tomatoes

Provencal Chicken and Tomatoes

Friday: Provencal Roast Chicken, Olives & Tomatoes with Green Beans

kids: Barbeque Chicken and Vegetables

Saturday: PIZZA (and a movie) NIGHT! Time to order out from Toby’s (as it is the night before vacation to Texas!)

Jasper eating Blue Bell

Jasper eating Blue Bell

March 19 – 21: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge, GaryHellerPhotograph, $39, Etsy

A Red Hook Outing Beyond Fairway and IKEA — A Child Grows in Brooklyn

The “Elite’s” Top 50 Baby Names (for what it’s worth, one of mine was on the list….) — The Daily Beast

8 Quirky Brooklyn MuseumsBrokelyn

Rumors of a Shake Shack coming to Brooklyn (wouldn’t it be nice?) — Brownstoner

Brooklyn Family Bike Ride in Prospect Park on Sunday — Mommy Poppins

Super-cute personalized dinner plates for your kid — ohdeedoh

Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 opens to the public on Monday — Brooklyn Daily Eagle

* Image available at GaryHellerPhotograph on Etsy.

Review: Brooklyn’s BounceU


Get your bounce on in Brooklyn.

We checked out BounceU with some friends a few days before poor Magnolia fractured her left hand. We won’t be bouncing again for a while, unfortunately, but here’s what we found.

What it is:

A big indoor play space with bouncy structures a go-go. The place is popular for birthday parties and they also have camps and toddler play times, so you have to reserve a spot (and pay for it in advance, $15 a kid) to attend an Open Bounce session. Call on Thursday or Friday to see what times will be for the upcoming weekend, as they change around the party sked.

The bounce session lasts an hour and 15 minutes and kids are transitioned from one room to a second about halfway through (the two rooms have different play equipment, so the diversions are all new when the kids move.) It’s well-organized and there’s lots of BouncU staff on hand to make sure equipment doesn’t get too crowded and that no one’s playing too rough.

Kids can bounce in a big castle, shoot hoops, navigate obstacle courses, climb a tall tower, or — the number one draw for our crew that day — shoot down a giant bouncy slide (it really is impressively tall.)

Where it is:

Dyker Heights, a neighborhood you’ll probably only venture to to visit this place or check out the over-the-top Christmas lights at the holidays.

BounceU is at 6722  Forth Hamilton Parkway (between 67th Street and Ovington Avenue), on the second floor. Entrance is on 67th Street and 9th Avenue.

What we thought of the place:

It was cold and drizzly outside while we were inside: the kids left sweaty, exhausted, and asking when we could come back. ‘Nuff said.

Special bonus:

We got soft and sweet Chinese pastries for the kids and pillow-y barbecue pork buns for ourselves at nearby Maple Leaf Bakery, just a block away from the entrance to BounceU.

Why there are no photos of my adorable children and their friends in this post:

1) Because all photos taken were an unrecognizable blurry mess of forms whizzing down slides. 2) Because I’ve already posted a photo of an unrecognizable blurry form on a bouncy slide (Jasper at The Bell House.)

Hello, Sunshine! How to Look Refreshed On No Sleep

Another sleepless night ends

One more cup of coffee

As parents, we spend a fair amount of nighttime hours awake, comforting kids who are afraid, sick, or had to go to the bathroom; not to mention those of us awake with their feeding and fussing newborns. Even when we get to go to bed, we often lie awake, either too keyed up from the evening’s events or simply worrying.

And that means looking at yourself in the mirror the next morning and seeing reflected, well, a zombie.

Here are some tools to fool the public into thinking you are well-rested, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (don’t ask me what a bushy tail has to do with this- it’s just an expression).

First stop for me, a stop I’ve been making since I was 19, is the Elderflower Cooling Eye Gel from The Body Shop.

Elderflower Cooling Eye Gel

Elderflower Cooling Eye Gel

I love this product; the cool combination of witch hazel and elderflower makes my tired eyes feel bright (and you can get even more of a punch from it if you keep it in the fridge). It’s only $10 at The Body Shop (buy 2 get one free!- 3 will last you the year if you use it every day), and also available on Amazon.

The only thing is that I DO use it everyday. And on those really tired days, it makes me feel better to have reinforcements. So, I also use Lotus Eye Gel from Fresh.

Lotus Eye Gel by Fresh

Lotus Eye Gel by Fresh, courtesy of Sephora

This stuff has a wonderful smell, and promises to alleviate under eye circles. I think it works pretty well, and usually put it on first, chasing it with the Elderflower Eye Gel. Probably overkill, but makes me happy–and I think it works.

Next, undereye concealer. Whatever you regularly use. Then, and this is important, pick up your tinted concealer and put it on. Nothing like a little glow to take the gray out of your skin. I’m a fan of Clinique tinted moisturizer, but whatever works for you. Brush on a nice light powder and a warm blush.

Time for a moment of confession: I was a charter subscriber to Allure.  I take their annual Best of Beauty list seriously, scouring it for new and better product recommendations. And one product that makes the list so regularly that like Great Lash mascara it was retired into a Hall of Fame, is the Shu Uemura eyelash curler.

Shu Uemura eyelash curler, $19 @ Sephora

Shu Uemura eyelash curler, courtesy of Shu Uemura

I resisted this device for years (really, all through high school and up until my mid-thirties), but after a long night awake, I can promise it will give you that my-eyes-are-wide-open surprised look without the surgery.

It helps. Alot.

Mascara, now. And some warm gloss tone on the lips.

If you are STILL not looking all glowy and well-rested, there are options. I’d recommend Benefit’s Ooh La Lift to further tame any lingering dark circles and add some brightness around your eyes.

One more tip: when getting dressed, it’s crucial you follow the ASCOB (any solid color other than black- thank you Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show) rule. Actually, it doesn’t have to be a solid color, just anything but black. Brighten up!

Then step out with your cup of coffee and GO GET ‘EM, gorgeous!

Family Meals: Planning Our Weekly Menu

Walking in the rain this weekend.

As noted a few weeks ago, every Sunday I plan out our menu for the week.  I thought I’d post what’s up this week here.  Note that though we do sit down with the kids for dinner, they eat much earlier (5:30-6:30) and usually something different and a bit simpler (our leftovers often end up on their plates for lunch):

White Bean Soup

Sunday: Tuscan White Bean & Spinach Soup

kids: Grass-Fed Burgers and Fries

Monday: Rosa Mexicano Rotisserie Chicken (via our friends at Fresh Direct) & Balsamic- Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Garlic

kids: Orecchiette and Roasted Vegetables

Tuesday: Pasta Carbonara with Broccoli Rabe

kids: Chicken fingers and Steamed Vegetables

Wednesday: Mexican-Spiced Pork Chops (yo, thanks again, Fresh Direct!) and Green Salad

kids: White Cheddar Mac & Cheese and Peas

Thursday: Vegetarian Burritos with Chipotle Peppers & Avocado

kids: Cornflake Chicken and Sauteed Green Beans

Friday: Thai Chicken Curry and Rice

kids: Cheeseburgers & Fries

Magnolia loves pizza

Saturday: PIZZA (and a movie) NIGHT! White Pizza with Fontina, Goat Cheese & Mozzarella and an arugula salad

kids: Half & Half Pizza: Mozzarella for Magnolia & Red Sauce only for Jasper

This isn’t the most creative cooking week ever; there are a lot of weekly standards on the menu and some prefab help from Fresh Direct. I’m still recovering from the Everyday Food cook-off a few weeks ago. That said, we are always on the lookout for new recipes that are easy and delicious for adults and kids. Here are some of the blogs that are inspiring us now:

Family Bites: another menu planner and some delicious recipes

Smitten Kitchen: in a word, YUM.  And gorgeous, gorgeous food.

The City Cook: for those of us with small kitchens but big appetites


March 12 – 14: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas

Prospect Expressway

Bring it, Brooklyn.

The Times says New York is *finally* taking coffee seriously. Really? ‘Cause I know moms take it very seriously. Here’s where to get the best cup (and yes, Brooklyn rates.) — The New York Times

How much does your neighbor pay her nanny? — Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn

10 FREE Kids’ Crafts Places (several are in Brooklyn.) — Mommy Poppins

A spring break or summer escape (with pool!) in the Catskills. — A Child Grows in Brooklyn

Coconut milk fudge (oh, god, yes, please.) — smitten kitchen

Best New Idea: The Urban Jumping Gym — Brooklyn’s BounceU (call to reserve + pay for a spot for your kids during Open Bounce.) — Best of New York: Kids

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