Archive for the 'families' Category

Gowanus Girls Indie Design + Food Mart

Image

Yep, it’s on. Two fine fall Saturdays in October — a new market featuring talented, mostly Brooklyn-based female designers and food makers. Sangria to sip, treats to taste, fun finds in a magical setting and a giving-back element to support the area around the Gowanus Canal.

Join us, noon-sunset, Gowanus Grove, October 13 + 27!

Gowanus Girls! girls + design + community

Brought to you by Curious Jane.

Sip, shop, support, have fun!

Adjusting to the Light

Jane's Carousel

(kinerific’s photostream via Flickr)

Hey! Hi! I’m still here! And thanks, thanks, thanks to those of you who’ve said you missed Shiny Brite.
It means a lot.
Turns out the hiatus I announced in January was a little longer than I thought it might be…. 2012 has thrown all sorts of big-time curve balls at me. Like, is there ANYplace to hide curve balls. But, you know what, 2012?
I haven’t given up on you yet.
This post is about what’s been going on. And going down. And it’s a lot. Things will lighten up around here, though, and get back to normal — don’t worry.
Still. Here it is.
***
Funny how things stick in your brain. Just lodge themselves there, for your subconscious to pull up as needed.
“Losing love is like a window in your heart; everybody sees you’re blown apart” — Paul Simon. “Graceland.”
The title of this post, too. It’s what I’ve been doing — adjusting to a new way of being.
Then there’s this:
“Feel my earth turn over darlin’ till I’m rootless and unbound.” — Bonnie Raitt.
Newer still, from Florence + the Machine:
“Leave all your love and your longing behind; you can’t carry it with you if you want to survive.”
Adjusting to the light.
It’s not just the now that’s new and strange — it’s the looking back.
History seems questionable; memories look different.
Lots of uncertainty and moving parts, but the heart of the matter is clear:
Jasper + Magnolia. Jasper + Magnolia. Jasper + Magnolia.
They are here — real and present and wonderfully demanding.
There is only forward motion, with them at the center. There is no looking back.

Register Now! Awesome Winter Weekends with Curious Jane!

Curious Jane Winter Field Trips

Come have fun with the CJ community!

Hey, Brooklyn mamas of daughters!

Looking for fun ways to keep your adventurous girl busy in the city this winter? Of course you are!

Well, Magnolia attended an amazing summer camp this year I was so happy with that I contacted the woman who founded it about doing some freelance work for her — and the Curious Jane Winter Field Trip Series is the collaborative end result. Great trips around the city, all girls, all fun, all winter!

Come sign up! From flying on a trapeze to cooking to building something cool, here’s a brief description of what we’ve got lined up (go to Curious Jane for complete deets):

* Curious Jane Takes on The Sketchbook Project in Carroll Gardens — Have an art book published!
Sunday, December 11

* Learn to Fly at Trapeze School New York in Manhattan
Sunday, January 22

* Build Something Cool at Makeville Woodworking Studios in Gowanus
Sunday, February 12

* Whip Up Something Tasty at The Brooklyn Kitchen in Williamsburg
Sunday, March 11

* Travel to See Your Finished Sketchbook + Sample Sweet Treats from Momofuku Milk Bar Brooklyn in Williamsburg
Sunday, April 22

For full details, and to learn about Curious Jane Weekend Workshops, too, (at the CJ work space, and very fun!), hop on over to the CJ site.

For more on the camp and its founder, Samantha Razook Murphy, read my interview with her….

Hope to see your girls (with a friend or sibling) there this winter!

 

 

Love, Loss, and What I Learned

M. with Pa Pa

Pa Pa and me.

As parents, we’re constantly self-critiquing: How could I be doing better? Why can’t I be more patient? Why did I say that stupid thing I said, and will it land my kid in therapy?

I’ve been giving that a lot of thought over the last few days. My grandfather — at age 98! — passed away last weekend and we had to make a quick trip home to Texas for the funeral.

Members of my family sat down with the pastor at my grandparents’ church in the days prior to share memories of him — the personality traits and characteristics that stood out over a lifetime — and those were part of the service.

Death and funerals put life in sharp relief. And at a time when I’m mulling many things over — trying to look at things in my life with a fresh eye — it was grounding to hear the details that stood out about my grandfather. I knew those personality traits, too, of course, but I hadn’t thought about them in a long time, and I’d never examined them through the lens of parenthood.

My grandfather wasn’t perfect — who is? — but he got a lot right. A lot about love and life’s work. He was lavish with praise and affection, and — a child of the Great Depression and a WWII veteran in the U.S. Navy — he possessed a serious, studied work ethic.

And here’s the thing: People will remember what you say and do. Your actions have a long and lasting impact. Here are some things my grandfather taught me — things that I’m going to try to remember with my kids in daily life.

You can’t tell your children too often that you love them and are proud of them. Really. It seems like a no-brainer — DUH, as Magnolia would say dismissively. But just as one negative comment can linger in our minds for years, repeated positive reinforcement lays a solid foundation for self-confidence. — “I’m so proud of you and your accomplishments. You have been such a blessing to our lives.” (Yes, “blessing” his word, and even though I don’t attend church as an adult, I can tell you, it’s pretty uplifting to know that someone who loved me felt and thought *daily* — and was never shy about telling me — that I was a blessing to him. Appreciative tears brimming as I write this.)

Things don’t get done by thinking about doing them, or pondering what to do next. My grandfather was a machinist by trade, and he worked well into his late 70s — a precise, solitary work, very mathematical. He loved it, and by all accounts, continuing to work well past the age of retirement likely helped extend his life. Again — 98! And he was very well and with it until just the last couple of years. He applied his work ethic to all areas of life, though — I want to show my kids the same thing. Be productive, take responsibility, get the job done and be kind to others while you’re doing it.

Many lessons learned from my sweet grandmother, too — but at 93, I’m lucky to say she’s still here, and I’m sure I have more to learn from her.

98 and 93 — I hope I have their genes! And I hope I’ll leave a legacy for my children and grandchildren that somehow manages to be just as inspiring.

grandma and pa pa

Thanks for everything, Pa Pa!

Weekly Menu, August 28-September 3

So we made it. I admit the hype about the storm, which I paid no attention to until Friday, finally got to me; I was nervous last night. At about midnight, I was walking around the dark house, alone, watching the trees bend 45 degrees in the rain. Wondering: will our 101-year old house, which has withstood a tornado (a block away) and an earthquake already this year, fall apart in a hurricane?

My nerves manifested themselves in a three ways: time spent on our various electronic devices (reading Facebook and Twitter, watching the radar, checking news updates and answering texts from concerned friends and family), and cooking and eating.

All the sweets, here for the taking

Friday, I picked up slices of peach pie, chocolate pecan cookies and red velvet cupcakes in Manhattan, and on Saturday made a run to our local Trois Pommes for more peach pie, blueberry pie, a red velvet AND an almond twinkie (yes, twinkie), brownies, peanut butter cookies, and seriously I can’t remember what else. Melisa roasted a whole chicken, and made French onion soup; I made various fruit and vegetable salads. Come on over and help us eat the leftovers (we also have plenty of wine, vodka, fixings for margaritas, and distilled water to serve)!

Tomorrow in the sunshine, let’s just say a long run is planned. But for today, I’m kneading pizza dough and thinking of chasing my iced coffee and sweets with salted buttered popcorn and a movie with the kids (done & done).

***

All the excitement did provide distraction from the fact that this is the last true weekend of the season. This week’s menu is an homage to many of my favorite summer things. I’m not ready to let it go. So more fruit, more tomatoes, more corn.

Weekly Menu:

Sunday: White Pizza with Roasted Garlic, Fontina, and Goat Cheese with Crunchy, Lemony Kale Salad and Melon with Cured Black Olives

Kale Salad. It really is good.

Monday: Grilled Skirt Steak (trying a La Esquina marinade from their forthcoming cookbook) with Charred Corn Tacos with Radish Zucchini Slaw (via Smitten Kitchen)

Tuesday: Orecchiette tossed with Roast, Marinated Tomatoes, Grilled Corn and Fresh Basil

Wednesday: Salmon Grilled on Cedar Planks with Cool Potato Salad, Sautéed Summer Squash and Tomatoes

Thursday: Shrimp Fajitas with Cabbage Slaw

Friday: Dinner out with Melisa to celebrate my birthday on Saturday. Where to go? Might be the garden at Vinegar Hill House or the one at Hudson Clearwater. Hmmm.

Saturday: My birthday!! I am off the hook for cooking, but looking forward to dinner Chez Gillespie.

Speaking of birthdays: here were two we just celebrated:

This one is called: "Fancy French Cake for a Five Year Old"

Seven year old strong!

Here’s to a September full of sweet summer days.

Home Shortlist: The Things We Can’t Live Without

More Gwyneth Paltrow inspiration!

(And as an aside, I’ve been trying lots of recipes from her cookbook, My Father’s Daughter, and they’ve all been easy and delicious. Hits with us *and* the kids. Sorry to disappoint all you detractors out there….)

Anyway, Gwyn‘s in Elle Decor this month sharing the things in her home and home life she can’t live without — a bathtub in her bedroom, Coro tumblers, seasonal flowers, Charles Edwards star lanterns, and more. There’s a lot we love — and get a little daily lift from — in our home, too. (We could do endless other lists about more personal items as well — must-have perfume, lipstick, handbag, etc. — but one thing at a time.)

Here’s what made our shortlist for things we love/can’t live without at home:

Framed French dinner menus — they hang above our kitchen sink, all vintage-y, sweet, and oh-so-pretty. We framed the menu from our wedding, too — personal and memory-evoking every time we look at it.

French dinner menu

Alora Fragrance Diffuser — when buying something new for the living room or rearranging the furniture on a whim isn’t realistic, flipping these sticks upside down to release a burst of your favorite, fresh scent makes you feel like the room just got a mini-makeover.

Alora Diffuser

Dark-stained wood floors. They’re dramatic, they’ve worn well, and they covered a ton of imperfections in our floors when we renovated, which made replacing them all with new boards unnecessary.

dark-stained wood floors

Patterned window films. We have these on our bottom windows in the bathroom and we love them! They disguise what you don’t want to see — the siding on our neighbor’s house comes to mind — and still let in all the sunlight.

patterned window films

Double-basin farmhouse sink. It’s big, it’s pretty, it’s functional, it’s from another old Brooklyn house, so it’s local goods. It is actually my favorite thing in the entire house, hands down.

farmhouse sink

Different paint colors in every room. When our contractor was ready to paint after our remodel, he asked just to make sure: You want all white everywhere, right? Uh, no. Sorry! But color adds so much warmth to a space! Try it. You’ll like it.

paint colors

A daily baguette. This is a holdover from our trip to France in July and, I have to say, fresh bread adds a lot to the day. The kids love it, too — and they seem to know instinctively that it’s way better than the sliced stuff that comes out of a plastic bag from the grocery store.

baguettes

Zyliss garlic press. Feel like you spend half your life chopping garlic? Us, too. But this handy little gadget speeds up the process by a lot — you don’t even have to peel the garlic! Seriously. Just pop a clove in, press it, and out come the minced pieces — with the papery bits left behind in the press. (Thanks for turning us on to this one, Kim!)

Zyliss garlic press

Tell us — what’s on your shortlist? What are the home essentials you can’t live without?

Weekly Menu, August 21-27 (Paris Parens)

Well, we really are back. Almost three weeks now, and still everyday, I miss our carefree lives overseas. I’ve been reluctant to post again, not wanting to break the spell of our magical month away. Keep it sacred. And yet, here we are in the City, back to reality. More on that later.

Our last two days in Paris we didn’t write about. Probably because we were too conflicted about our departure.

Paris was beautiful. Just as it was when we arrived, but hotter at the change of July to August. We cabbed it to Appartement Blanc on a Sunday, dropped our things, and went out in search of fun. We found it in the Tuileries, at the trampolines. Ten individual trampolines. Two Euro for five minutes of jumping. I would have paid more. The kids loved it. Brilliant, brilliant idea. I may quit my job and bring it to New York.

Jumping, jumping, jumping

Next stop, the amusement park in the Tuileries, where the kids honed their bumper car skills, among other thing. And then home, for dinner out on the square.

The next day, we woke up early(ish) and headed to our local cafe for pain au chocolat, fresh squeezed o.j., cafe creme and espresso. Our last day! Melisa and I wanted to take the kids to the pyramid at the Louvre. And we wanted to walk.

This plan was met with some resistance from the train fetishist, but walk we did, through the Right Bank, and to the Louvre.

Waiting for the metro, in the Marais

On the way discovering some gorgeous streets, shops, passages, like this one:

Here’s the obligatory picture of the kids in front of another monument.

At the pyramid

There was down time.

Time for everyone to get in something they need.

Including our budding photographer Magnolia (or was this Jasper?).

Time for more monuments. Here’s one of my favorites: Notre Dame.

And the resolution of the gelato v. glace smackdown: we declare a tie.

It's all good.

We had a great day!

And then we were off the next morning, too early, too soon. We had just arrived; how could we be going home?

Back at Charles de Gaulle

I took some comfort last week in the words of someone new I met. Try to make a little of every day a vacation. Why wait for those precious weeks every year?

Weekly Menu:

Sunday: Great day on the beach! Chasing it with our version of Diana Kennedy’s Shrimp in Adobo sauce, with rice, avocado, and scallions.

Monday: Pasta with fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil and parmesan, side salad with CSA lettuce

Tuesday: Skirt Steak marinated and grilled with summer squash

Wednesday: Date night for Melisa and I! The kids will have burgers on the grill.

Thursday: Chicken Fajitas with grilled onions, mushrooms, fresh salsa and guacamole

Friday: Grilled whole fish stuffed with scallions and herbs and tomato/cucumber salad

Saturday: Might be time again for pizza on the grill! Melisa and I are partial to a white pizza and the kids like margaritas

May your week be filled with starry nights, sunny days, and melon and olives!

The Glorious South, Part Deux (And Off to Paris)

Well, we’re headed back to Paris. On the high-speed train. Vineyards, sunflower fields flying by.

We’ve spent the last week in the South of France. We had planned to make some field trips to neighboring towns and cities—Uzès, where we’ve stayed before, for the market and the Pont du Gard; St. Remy de Provence, a beautiful little town for walking and exploring; Marseille for some deeper discovery of the harbor and winding streets, plus we had hoped to visit some new spots: Anduze, Toulouse, Carcassone. In the end, we stayed Chez Mousseron, enjoying the company and the pool, the local markets, shopping, and the beach.

As Melisa noted, the beach was a highlight. This time around we rented beach chaises at a private club. At last, my own cabana boy! Bringing me salade Niçoise! Rosé! A mojito! San Pellegrino! The kids playing in the Med in front of us. An umbrella thoughtfully put up for Melisa. A lovely and convenient bathroom, shower, and parking.

Folks, this is the way to hang at the beach. And I could have done it EVERY DAY.

The kids loved the beach, too. Even more, though, they loved Pirates Paradise, a restaurant we tried for lunch. Located in a huge outdoor shopping complex in Montpellier, Pirates Paradise is a theme park and eatery in one. There’s an entire pirate fight on the hour. A kids play area. Waitresses dressed up like pirate wenches, and waiters like pirates. You can eat in a galleon. Eat over the water. Eat in a pirate jail. It was entertaining, and the food wasn’t bad either.

Meanwhile, Melisa would have rather been exploring all those new cities I listed at the top. She gets a little high off of the new (whereas I get my high from il dolce far niente). One of the great things about being gone a month is that there is time to get a healthy dose of everyone’s individual interests and find some common ground.

This month marks the longest continuous period I’ve spent with my kids (and my wife for that matter) since they were born. I admit I was a little worried about how it would go. Thirty-three days is extreme togetherness, and as mentioned in previous posts, there have been the typical bumps in the road you might imagine on any trip.

At the market in Sommières

We’ve had FUN. We love road trips. We love ice cream, swimming, a gorgeous view. Exploring. Finding secret places. The promise of great food.

I’ve learned new things about my kids. I’m proud of what good travelers they’ve been. Both of them weathered the overnight flight here like pros, and walked off their jet lag in Paris. They’ve made friends in France and Italy. They’ve tried sausages, cured tomatoes, new fruits, fish, local specialties like tielles (seafood pies from Sète) and mussels, paella, olives, cheeses, meats. They’ve tried to speak French and Italian for niceties (hello, goodbye, please, thank you, excuse me). Gamely carried their own backpacks and pulled their suitcases through airports and train stations, up to taxis, cars and apartments.

And they have tried blend in with the locals on occasion.

So it’s with a heavy heart that we leave the South, knowing our days here are numbered. Yesterday, I cleared out the Mireva and drove it back to the rental company. We said our goodbyes to our generous hosts, who have fed us and entertained us (no small feat) for a week. Kim drove us to the train station and walked us to our couch to bid us bon voyage.

I’m not usually the one who is upset on departure; that’s Melisa’s department. But as soon as Kim was out of sight, I surprised myself by bursting into tears and crying on Melisa’s shoulder.

It’s all gone by so fast. Didn’t we just step off the plane, a whole month of friends and travel ahead of us?

A day and a half more in Paris, and then back on a plane to New York.

What a whirlwind.

Our plan is to make the most of the City of Light in the next 36 hours. After all, there is the gelato v. glace smackdown that needs to be solved, the Tuileries and the great pyramid at the Louvre still to see. There’s still some time to squeeze more of la belle vie out of this trip!

Europe with Kids — France: One Thing I Loved Today

Palm Ray Plage

Palm Ray Plage in Carnon, France.

The “premiere ligne” at the Palm Ray on the beach in Carnon, France.

Leave it to the French to make beach-going more civilized.

Today we booked lounge chairs and a big umbrella on the “first line” — aka the front, closest to the water — at the beach in Carnon, on the Mediterranean. For a few Euros, we got our prime spots, plus lunch and a glass of wine delivered to our chairs — with access to bathrooms, a seaside library (!), and a waiter serving cocktails, San Pellegrino, and desserts — right next to the kids while they played in the sand and surf.

Heaven! (And all thanks to our fabulous hostess, Kim, who KNOWS about all of these wonderful things. Everyone should be so lucky as to have her at their side in the South of France.)

Glass of rosé and, in a while, a mojito? Don’t mind if I do, to both.

Does this exist in the U.S.? We gotta find out.

Palm Ray Plage

Life's a beach. Cheers!

Gelato, Everyday

Mmmmm

There are many things I love about Italy. Gelato, however, deserves a special place.

How many different flavors have we tried? Let’s see:

  • Cioccolato (chocolate)
  • Cioccolato Fondente (Dark Chocolate)
  • Cioccolato al Peperoncino (Chocolate and hot pepper)
  • Pistachio
  • Torrincino (chocolate, cream & honey)
  • Fior di Latte (Milk Flower- kind of like sweet cream)
  • Stracciatella (Vanilla Chocolate Chip)
  • Bacio (Chocolate hazelnut)
  • Cremino (Nutella with hard chocolate topping)
  • Nutella
  • Tirimisu
  • Menthe
  • Sex on the Beach (better than the drink: Nutella, Caffe, and Tirimisu combined)
  • Caffe
  • Antica Deliza (the home flavor of our local gelataria-vanilla, caffe, with some sort of vanilla wafer crushed in it)
  • Amaretto
  • Pinolata (Pine Nut)
  • Smarties (Vanilla with m&m’s)
  • Salted Carmel

Not to mention the fruit flavors:

  • Melone (Cantaloupe)
  • Limone
  • Fragola (Strawberry)
  • Peche
  • Pompelmo Rosa (Pink Grapefruit)

And finally: the flavor I was afraid would get away! Petale di Rosa. Did it live up to the hype? Not exactly, but the thrill of the hunt made it great. The kids were so caught up in the mystique of the rosa that they chose it too: Jasper paired it with Menthe (does everything go with Menthe? Jasper thinks so) and Magnolia with Chocolate (and she’s right; everything goes with chocolate).

Star-Crossed Gelato Picks:

  • Chrissy: Bacio & Pistachio (Pistachio! Who knew?)
  • Melisa: Bacio & Caffe (tho Melisa notes that the Cioccolato Fondente sorbetto she had would be her favorite single flavor selection)
  • Jasper: Menthe & Stracciatella (Menthe paired with all sorts of flavors for Jas)
  • Magnolia: Cioccolato & Melone (picked over and over)

Tomorrow, our last day in Italy, may be time for GELATO FOR BREAKFAST.


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