Archive for January, 2011

Weekly Menu, January 30-February 5

Short & sweet this week:

Sunday: Maple Roasted Chicken with Apricot Jam via Sweet Paul’s fall 2010 issue. This was the cover recipe and mmmm it looks great. Love that it all cooks in one cast iron pan. Sautéed green beans on the side.

Monday: “Low-Cal” Lasagne. This is an old recipe I borrowed from my friend Amy. Not the fanciest recipe in the world, but a crowd-pleaser. Served with a simple salad.

Tuesday: White Bean Soup (another old favorite from Todd English)

Wednesday: Burritoville

Thursday: Spaghetti & Meatballs via The Family Kitchen. We have some of the meatballs frozen so this is a an easy one.

Friday: Dying to try Dorie Greenspan’s Almond Flounder Meunière (from In My French Kitchen). Perhaps with sautéed spinach or broccoli. Check out the picture.

How could this be anything but delicious?

Saturday: Pizza pizza!

January 29 – 30: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas

Flex Donuts

Flex Donuts / photo from Keep It Sweet

I’ve now gone completely round the bend with last night’s snowfall, which can mean only two things: brownies and donuts. In that order.

Today, we’re making the best brownies ever, and I’m hoping to score some donuts in the next couple of days. Have to trek to Grand Central for them (see below), but it seems justified given the circumstances.

Now, on to some weekend linky love….

Flex Donuts Pop-Up Shop Opens in Grand Central Terminal. Drown your winter sorrows in flavors like spiced chocolate and salted caramel — I’m hoping for meyer lemon, too. — TimeOut New York Kids

Check out one of the upcoming Summer Camp Fairs to see what the options will be for your kids this year — one’s happening this weekend in my ‘hood, at the Grand Prospect Ballroom (FREE, but you need to register.) — New York Family

The Kings County General Store kicks off its 2011 season this weekend at Southpaw — we went to one of their markets last year (yes, with the kids), and it was fun! Look for cool local designers and yummy food to keep little hands occupied while you browse. — Brooklyn Based

You still have time to get some of the cute Valentine’s Day Cards that Chrissy wrote about — we ordered our Robots (for Magnolia) and Monster Trucks (for Jasper) from ItsyBitsyPaper this week.

And, like summer camps, another warm-weather activity to fantasize about now is taking the kids on an overnight camping trip to the Zoo (The Bronx Zoo’s Overnight Family Adventure Safari.) It’s BYO tent and sleeping bag, but they plan tons of up-close animal-focused activities for the kids (yes, they get to pet some of the zoo residents, too). At $155 a person, it’s splurgey, but also an unusual treat for a city kid. — Mommy Poppins.

Happy weekend! Stay warm.

(Flex Donuts photo: Keep It Sweet)

Are Boys Easier Than Girls?

Jasper on Fire Island

After an elaborate negotiation with Magnolia about some minute point over the weekend, I turned to Chrissy and quietly spelled out:  “h-e-a-d case.”  Our daughter’s got a lot going on in that little noggin of hers, and it’s often dauntingly complex.

Which is why I found a recent post on Yahoo! Shine intriguing — and, no, it wasn’t 6 Ways to Make Family Memories on Super Bowl Sunday. (By the way, that hasn’t happened, right? All of my Facebook friends who were posting loyalties to one team or another last weekend — that was all playoff stuff, wasn’t it? I am not kidding when I say I have absolutely no idea.)

But the Superbowl thing relates to where I’m going with this post…. We’re a two-mom family — there’s no one here to make sure we know when Superbowl Sunday is, who’s playing, or what the outcome is. There is no sports talk happening. There is no wrestling on the floor or getting physical in a “guy” kind of way. It would be the same for a single mom, and I don’t think it’s bad — it’s just different than a more traditional mom and dad household, where there’s a daily male influence.

And I do think about that lack of male input in relation to parenting styles. Which (finally) leads me back to the Yahoo! post Raising Boys: 5 Things Dads Can Teach Moms About Raising Sons. (A longer version of the post appears on Babble, too.) Despite some of the negative comments it received in both places, I took it as a fun, lighthearted piece — but it also rang a little true. And it made me think about some of the differences we see in raising Jasper and Magnolia.

Basically, the Babble writer says that boys (maybe not all, but some) are less intense than girls — they are more straightforward emotionally, even if they might have trouble articulating their feelings. He says (playfully, I thought), that moms should:

Think caveman. “Boys tend to feel one of three emotions: mad, sad, happy.” His needs are more basic, not complex. Your young son either wants to “eat, poop, or run.” So don’t bother over-articulating whatever the issue is at hand.

I kind of get this, and think it’s sort of true. Jasper‘s kindergarten teacher and I were talking last year about the differences between boys and girls — while we were watching Magnolia have a mini-tantrum over something I’d told her she couldn’t do. Ms. P. said girls know exactly what they want, even from an early age — and if they don’t get it, that’s where the trouble comes in. Boys, on the other hand, she said, pretty much want to be able to eat and run, and if you give them a snack and time to play, they’ll be happy.

Hhmmm.

The Babble writer/dad also instructs moms to:

Watch your son’s body language, not his mouth. “Jumping up and down with six-inch vertical leaps is the natural state of being and is good. Slumped shoulders are bad. Yelling is good. Quiet needs attention.”

Again, this makes sense to me. I do feel Jasper is pretty straightforward and it’s not difficult to produce a happy reaction from him — moving and running make him happy! So does being loud and silly! Frankly, it’s pretty easy to navigate and manipulate his moods and behavior. Offering a little treat, suggesting a spin around the corner on his scooter, or even grabbing him for a quick tickle or a hug can dispel a bad moment in a hurry. (There’s a nice nod to the just “give a hug” theory in the Yahoo! article, too. Also a funny riff on the importance of poop in a boy’s life. Again, sort of true for us — poop-time is a real “occasion” for Jasper. Read the whole Yahoo! Raising Sons parenting post here, or the longer version on Babble.)

It’s all harder, at least for now, with Magnolia. Getting her mood to turn around if things aren’t going her way, or getting her to do something she’s really dead-set against, is tricky business. And, honestly, sometimes unpleasant. Even at 4, she’s swift with a verbal barb, dismissive gesture, or criticism of how a mom is handling the situation.

I don’t know. Six years into this parenting thing, I’m still making it up as I go along. Trying to figure things out, understand my kids, and do the best I can. But I have to say, I do think in some ways boys are easier than girls.

What do you think? Easier, or just different?

Weekly Menu, January 23 – January 29

Last week was a mixed bag for new recipes; we had a big winner and some losers. The winner: The Pioneer Woman‘s amazing chicken pot pie. This recipe alone is worth the cost of the cookbook and would make a great, casual company dish. The crust was divine, the filling delish…the whole thing such a success that I’m trying another PW recipe from the cookbook this week.

I wish I could say the same for the vanilla pudding from Smitten Kitchen. I’ve had plenty of success with Deb’s recipes before, but the pudding, well, mine never set, alas. Not sure what I did wrong (maybe I didn’t cook it long enough). Scrolling through the comments on her site, I saw this happened to a few people, but plenty more had it work for them, lucky ducks. Luckily, our friend Scott brought rice pudding à la From Rice to Riches in Manhattan, so the Golden Globes dessert was saved. By the way, the Globes: a bit of a disappointment, no? The show was kind of a snooze, but the clothes were fun. Looking forward to the SAG awards next weekend.

One of the misses on the menu was the shrimp tacos from Dinner A Love Story. The shrimp was stone cold by the time I bit into my taco. DALS has given me a number of keepers (see Tony’s Steak), so perhaps this is worth trying again. Might be a dish better for summer.

Joanne Weir’s Penne with Tomatoes and Herbed Ricotta Salata also did not please. Again, suspect this is a better summer dish. We’ll try it again in August when the tomatoes are juicy and flavorful.

On to the menu this week.

Sunday: Chili a la The Pioneer Woman Cooks. I’m usually a Silver Palate chili gal, so we’re mixing it up a bit.

Monday: Roasted Vegetables and Goat Cheese over Quinoa. We’ll see. This may morph into Ina Garten’s Roasted Vegetable Soup instead.

Tuesday: Chicken with Lemon-Leek Linguine (below) via Cooking Light. We’re on a major leek kick, and this looked like a simple and tasty weekday meal.

Photo by John Autry for Cooking Light

Wednesday: Black Bean & Spinach Burritos. It’s on the menu every week for a reason; we love it.

Thursday: Fresh Orange Pork Tenderloin (still haven’t tried this from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table but am determined to this week) with Lemony Steamed Brussel Sprouts

Friday: Fettucine with Mushrooms and Hazelnuts from the February Cooking Light, which, btw, is chock-a-block full of intriguing weekday recipes.

Saturday: Entertaining or being entertained…otherwise PIZZA!

Have a great week everyone! Happy recipe hunting.

January 22 – 23: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas

photo by Tomi Tapio

Flickr photo by Tomi Tapio

More snow. I may go completely insane.

This morning, I was wishing I had a Missybot (a reference to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” in case you missed it) to stand in for me — take the kids to school, pretend to be friendly to the other parents, run a few errands. I just don’t feel like dealing.

Anyway, bring on the weekend, ’cause this week needs to head out of town.

For your Friday linky pleasure….

I was interested in Brokelyn‘s list of 10 Best Brooklyn Brunch Spots, some of which involve alcohol and seem potentially kid-friendly.

Loving the idea of the completely cool and original sounding Hibernators Ball this weekend at Wave Hill. Kids ages 3 – 9 are invited to wear jammies and bring along a teddy bear to learn all about winter animals that hibernate. They’ll get to make animal masks, play games, hear stories, and dance at the Ball. Kids 5 and over can go on a wintry Discovery Walk to try to spot some of the garden’s residents (bunnies and others) who may be waking up from their long winter’s nap. (The New York Times) Get full event deets at Wave Hill. FREE, except for the Discovery Walk, which in Sunday only.

BoCoCaLand tipped me off to the new soccer store on Atlantic Avenue — there’s a 750-square-foot play area inside and they offer kids’ soccer classes.

I’ve been fantasizing about ditching the snow and moving to Austin, where the living seems pretty good (except for the part about being in Texas.) Spotting this impressive Austin house redesign on design*sponge added fuel to the fire (check out the sliding chalkboard door panel.)

Got a kick out of Bakerella‘s insanely adorable — and creative — strawberry “milkshake” cupcakes. They’d be a major hit at a birthday party.

Happy weekend!

 

Review: Klub 4 Kidz Playspace in Williamsburg

We view playspaces with some serious ambivalence. On the one hand, they offer something structured, fun, and unusual to do — and the kids wear themselves out. On the other, they can be crowded, wild, and — on occasion — full of the kind of entitled New York City parents you want to avoid.

Still. It’s winter and new ground to cover is new ground to cover. When the arts-and-crafts routine has grown weary at home, I’m ready to pay for some entertainment and willing to travel for it.

I’ve had Williamsburg‘s new Klub 4 Kidz on my radar since reading about it on Mommy Poppins. Goodbye, construction paper- and glue stick-strewn dining room table! Goodbye, Park Slope! Hello, neighborhood that makes me feel OLD AS HELL.

Chrissy had to be convinced. But that wasn’t hard, given that she knew I wouldn’t shut up about the place until we went. She caved easily. Here’s what we found.

Klub 4 Kidz

Ready, set, run!

What it is:

Klub 4 Kidz is a big, bright, cheery new playspace where your kids can run, jump, climb, and slide. There’s a big climbing structure (where Jasper and Magnolia spent every second of their time, pictured above) and a rock climbing wall. My kids are 4 and 6 — it was perfect for them. Older kids (and a couple of adults) gravitated to the rock climbing wall.

There’s also a separate toddler play area and an arts space.

My kids were happy making the loop on the climbing gym — there’s a little Zip-slide thingie, tunnels to crawl through, different levels to clamber up and down, and two impressively fast slides to zoom down.

Klub 4 Kidz also offers classes and parties; they have a small cafe with snacks for kids and coffee for tired parents.

What it costs:

Open Play in the playground area is $12 for one kid, $20 for two. Ditto the toddler play area. See prices for rock climbing (it’s extra), combo passes, and daily play passes here.

Where it is:

Klub 4 Kidz is at 159 North 4th Street (bet Bedford and Driggs) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Tel: 718-599-5900

What we thought of the place:

A huge hit and we will definitely go back! They open at 9am on the weekends, and I think getting there when the doors open would be a great idea — let the kids exhaust themselves in the morning, then go have lunch, and you’re in great shape for the rest of the day.

Kids leave hot, sweaty, tired, and happy.

Klub 4 KidzKlub 4 Kidz

More Shiny Brite Reviews:

Brooklyn’s BounceU

Children’s Museum of the Arts

Moomah Cafe + Art Space in Tribeca

Great Valentine’s Day Cards for Kids

Why hit up the drug store when the creative folks on Etsy are churning out the CUTEST Valentine’s cards? Some of my favorites:

From Westmama in Portland, Oregon, a set of 24 modern cuties (5 cards each of the four designs) for $10. I love the letterpress look and rounded edges:

Itsybitsy Paper out of Greensboro, North Carolina has some sweet options you could personalize with your child’s name. These robots are fun and could be gender-neutral:

$20 for 24, plus 2 bonus teacher's cards

For those of you with horse-crazy kids (or if you’re just nostalgic for the cards we passed around when we were in grade school), Whatever Fits offers vintage-inspired Valentines — 20 cards, 4 different designs (only one shown here) plus a teacher’s card for $10:

Cowboy Horse Valentine's Cards from Whatever Fits

I’m intrigued by the Valentine’s cards from Olliegraphic that Melisa blogged about last week. They are completely customizable: age, hair, eye color, message, and much more can be set to match your bubs. Sweet Girl, below, is one of the cards available. Olliegraphic’s prices are a bit more expensive, but these cards are large enough to mail, and can be personalized with more than just a name. As a bonus, 10% of the proceeds from the sale goes to the Children’s Heart Foundation.

Sweet Girl cards, Olliegraphic, $33 for 20


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