Archive for August, 2010

Habana Outpost: An Easy Outing with the Kids

I have neighborhood envy. Park Slope is okay…. We like our ‘hood. But I’m crushing on Fort Greene. The vibe is different, a little more freewheeling. It feels spread out and open — full of possibility and things to discover. And, oh, the big, beautiful buildings! Gorgeous.

Habana Outpost

Habana Outpost on Fulton Street in Fort Greene.

I’m reminded of it whenever I walk over to see my friend Maggie (though, technically, she’s more of a Clinton Hill girl), or we take the kids over on a pretty afternoon to Habana Outpost for lunch. We did that yesterday, and if you haven’t taken your kids there for a family meal, then get your behind on over before the season ends (they’re open from roughly mid-April to the end of October.)

Here are the deets:

Habana Outpost

It’s the little sis’ of Soho‘s Cafe Habana, plopped down on hopping Fulton Street (at South Portland Ave) in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. There are several big draws for families — a kid-friendly menu, an arts-and-crafts Kids’ Corner, and a big, festive outdoor space. A DJ spins tunes, which keeps the feel fun and funky AND tones down any kid noise.

The Kids’ Corner proved awesome for us — it’s staffed with a friendly young person who led our kids in an easy and engaging mask-making session (while the moms had a few moments to talk uninterrupted.)

There was strawberry lemonade on a sunny day — yum. (There are also margaritas, mojitos, and sangria if you’re in the mood.)

Go early — the single-and-child-free crowd descends for lunch later in the afternoon, so I recommend an early lunch or dinner.

Drop by for their third annual Back to School Bash (with free school supplies, face painting, arts and crafts, clowns, and more!) on Monday, September 6th, from noon to 5pm.

And while you’re in the ‘hood, check out:

Greenlight Bookstore — A beautiful new book shop on Fulton, right across the street. Scan the great children’s section for new bedtime reading material.

Greene Grape Provisions — A specialty foods shop with all sorts of pricey-but-delicious-looking goodies. You need *something* from this place, I guarantee it. We picked up some pesto for an end of summer pasta meal.

Mask-making at the Kids' Corner.

Mask-making at the Kids' Corner.

Habana Outpost

The end result, with a side of strawberry lemonade. Summer, we hate to say goodbye!


Weekly Menu, August 29-September 2

Photo by Soapylovedeb on Flickr

Big week! A whole lot of reasons to celebrate. First, Grandma arrives tonight, woo-hoo! We are so excited to have her here from Texas. Then, the September birthdays; good reasons to indulge our chocolate cake cravings at last. And this is the last full week the kids are out of school.

Yesterday’s CSA harvest was a fun mix of summer and fall. Three lbs of tomatoes, 2 ½ lbs of squash on one hand, and apples and pears from the fruit share on the other! Not to mention KALE (kale chips on the docket), some gorgeous celery and carrots (we’ll use for pre-dinner snacking), chives, mizuna, garlic.

Weekly Menu:

Sunday:  Pasta with Pesto, Corn and CSA Tomatoes-A-Go-Go. Mizuna salad on the side? Possibly.

Oyster Po Boys - photo by on Flickr

Monday: Been obsessed with this lightened up Oyster Po-Boy (the oysters are baked rather than fried, among other tweaks) recipe I saw in the July issue of Martha Stewart Living. Maybe tonight is the night.

Tuesday: Grilled Steak with Greek Salad and Baguette. Greek salad seems the perfect way to use ripe tomatoes!

Wednesday: That ole stand-by Spice-Rubbed Chicken & Vegetable Tacos with Special Slaw.

Thursday: Salmon with Lemon Caper Butter with a Simple Salad and Quinoa

Yum. Photo by Sassyradish on Flickr

Friday: Birthday dinner. Not sure what it will be but it will involve cake! I have two cakes in my head: one, a delicious two-layer cake with chocolate frosting, maybe like this, and two, this peanut butter chocolate cake (see above) that is way over the top. In case anyone is looking for ideas.

Saturday: Grandma’s Choice. Alma’s? Toby’s? We’ll see.

Happy eating!

August 28 – 29: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas

Lehigh Valley barge in Red Hook

Get a peek inside this weekend!

What a week. Turns out post-vacation re-entry was kind of a bitch. Have I mentioned recently that we have two kids? Like, twice as many as one? And one of them has been in a very difficult mood for the last eight or ten months. On vacation, there were TWO MOMS to deal with the kid chaos. Now we’re back to business as usual. Chrissy‘s off to work and it’s just me minding the shop. And it’s hard.

Without going into too much detail about the events of Thursday afternoon, let’s just say all of these things and more occurred:

A child barfed at McDonald’s while grossed-out on-lookers attempted to EAT THEIR LUNCH. (Don’t ask why we were there — it was not the original plan.)

I cleaned up a lot of barf.

I removed a charred “Princess” paper plate carrying a charred Amy’s frozen burrito (my lunch!) from the microwave after the tin foil trim on the plate — oops, didn’t notice that — did whatever tin foil does in the microwave.

I cleaned up the charred inside of our microwave.

After reminding our daughter calmly approximately 78 times that we do not hit, kick, push or, generally, hurt others, I YELLED at her for hitting her brother.

I said a silent prayer no neighbors were walking by at the time.

I cried.

Thank God Grandma’s coming to town this weekend.

Now, onto some linky love — and FUN.

Tug & Barge Week at Brooklyn Bridge Park: Tour a barge! Take a trip on a tug! (But you must email to reserve a spot for a trip, and Saturday is already full. Email now for Sunday!) — Mommy Poppins

Bows are back! With twirly skirts. Cute! — Cool Mom Picks

Fort Greene gets a new preschool. — A Child Grows in Brooklyn

A gentle reminder: Take care of yourself first. Yourself, first. Period. (I could have used this reminder yesterday….) — Mom Delicious

Spoke to Brigitte, owner of Lulu’s Cuts & Toys recently. Now her new resale shop — Lulu’s Then & Now — is set to open next week, on August 31st. Yay! — Brownstoner

Happy weekend!

8 Questions for Karen Connell of A Child Grows in Brooklyn

Karen Connell

Karen and fam outside their Brooklyn home. Photo by Sue Barr (

One of the fun things about having a blog is getting to know other bloggers. We’ve loved reading and getting to know Karen Connell, the mom who founded A Child Grows in Brooklyn as a resource for local parents, in 2006. We’ve gotten countless great tips and bits of info from her!

As mistress of ACGIB, I consider Karen a super-savvy mama on all things kid-related in our home borough and beyond. So I thought it would be fun to ask her a few questions — about blogs she loves, Brooklyn, and where she likes to hang with her family.

(Photo: Sue Barr)

Continue reading ‘8 Questions for Karen Connell of A Child Grows in Brooklyn’

I Love My…. METALSGirl Jewelry!

MetalsGirl necklace

Square sterling silver necklace, 2 colors, resins and herbs - $45

This particular love affair began before I had kids. Actually, it began when we were trying to conceive. My friend Debra introduced me to METALSGirl jewelry — Chrissy and I both loved the colors and the look, and when we heard that, Laura, the designer, used herbs with enhancing properties (poppy seeds for fertility!), in her creations, we thought, hey, it can’t hurt. We had Laura design a ring for Chrissy. She wore it. She got pregnant.

A year later, it was my turn. I wore the ring. And a METALSGirl necklace. I got pregnant. We’ve since passed the lucky ring around to other friends trying to conceive — and it’s worked for them, too. Am I saying the ring is magic? No. But I am saying it has a damn good track record. It’s sort of become like Sisterhood of the Traveling Fertility Ring (if you’re interested in borrowing it, give us a shout.)

MetalsGirls ring

2 color round sterling and resin ring -- $60

Anyway, my love goes beyond that first ring. I have several METALSGirl necklaces and another ring, too. It’s very much in keeping with our Shiny Brite philosophy — Life with Kids, Made Better. I love the jewelry. I love to look at it and consider my next purchase every year when we go home to Texas. It makes me happy.

Happiness through consumerism and bold use of color. Sign me up. Always.

(Laura ships her designs, too, so go crazy browsing and ordering online. Say Chrissy and Melisa sent you.)

MetalsGirl charms

Holding Kids Back in School: Right or Wrong?

Photo by Avolore

I just read yet another article on holding kids back a year in school. While this is not an option for us in New York City, where the cut-off date for public schools is a strict December 31st, reading pieces like this still leaves me wondering if we are doing the right thing by sending our just-turned-six-year-old to first grade this fall.

Our son is bright, but on the younger side of the classroom. Many of his classmates will be turning seven mid-year, and already have stronger reading and writing skills. Jasper has struggled a bit with fine-motor skills, like holding his pen correctly for writing. He has trouble sitting still, and this year, in first grade, there will be even less time for boisterous activity like the playground or gym class to help work the energy out. Will he be able to keep up, and flourish? Or will he be frustrated by the pace of the classroom and left behind?

We’ve discussed all these issues with his teachers and our school administrators; they feel our son is ready for first grade. And yet still, the doubt. It’s not just academics. As Pamela Paul, the author of The New York Times piece, writes, “A 6-year-old wielding a light saber can be awfully intimidating to a boy who still sleeps with his teddy.”

One mother quoted echoed our concerns: ““There will be boys in his class who are a year or more older than him. They’ll be bored in class and then the bar will be set higher, and the kids who are the right age will find that they can’t keep up.”

Are we good parents working within the system to make sure he is taken care of? Or do we find a way to pay for private school and try to hold him back?

Where is your guardian angel when you need her?

photo by Kevin Dooley

Related posts:

8 Questions for a Kindergarten Teacher

Differences Between Public and Private School

Last Taste of Vacation: Chilmark Chocolates

We had to leave Martha’s Vineyard, but we took a taste of the island with us: Treats from Chilmark Chocolates, a hopping little business beloved both for its confections and its commitment to local youth — the owners employ young people with a range of disabilities (some are mentally retarded, deaf, blind, or have cerebral palsy) to make and sell their candies. I wait in a long line every year — while Chrissy carts the kids off to the library or playground — for my turn to squeeze into the tiny shop and make my selections.


Chilmark Chocolates

Chilmark Chocolates

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