Music to listen to when the theme of your kid’s summer camp is Motown

TCB sountrack

Digging out some of my old Motown LP’s and found this one… worth keeping for the photos of the outfits alone.

My daughter goes to a great performing arts camp in Williamsburg (it’s called CAMP, for those who may want to learn more) where the kids are immersed in the music and culture of one particular place and time and then create and put on a musical performance that showcases all that they’ve learned.

The theme for this session is Motown, which makes the theme for this playlist obvious. So obvious, in fact, that while I was making this playlist, the CAMP actually sent out a Motown playlist of it’s own. Which you should all feel free to listen to, because it’s great.

But I have a few favorites that were not included on that list, so I soldiered on, finished my version, and present it to you below without further ado. If you’re signed up for Spotify (it’s free), just click on the little triangle below to listen. And these two playlists are just the tip of the vast iceberg that is Motown… Take a deep dive and explore more of their music, dig up your old records, watch some great videos… you won’t be sorry!

And here’s the tracklist if you want to follow along:

Ain’t Too Proud To Beg – The Temptations
Fingertips – Stevie Wonder
Stop! In The Name Of Love – The Supremes
Papa Was A Rolling Stone – The Temptations
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Dancing In The Street – Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
ABC – The Jackson 5
Going To A Go-Go – The Miracles
Uptight (Everything’s Alright) – Stevie Wonder
I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Marvin Gaye
Just My Imagination – The Temptations
Reach Out I’ll Be There – The Four Tops
Got To Give It Up – Marvin Gaye
Shotgun – Jr. Walker & The All Stars
Ooh Baby Baby – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Buttered Popcorn – The Vows
The Tracks Of My Tears – The Miracles
My Prayer – The Platters

Strawberry Fields (and jam) Forever

strawberry jam

The fruits of our labor, carefully labeled and put into mini bell jars to be (mostly) given out as gifts.

Strawberry season is drawing to a close. TO A CLOSE!!! Not that you can’t eat these berries all year long, but the supermarket variety has nothing on the fresh-from-the-farm beauties that we have been enjoying for the past 2 months or so. Luckily, peaches and other stone fruits are taking center stage, so I don’t have to jump off of the cliff just yet.

But still– this is one instance when hoarding isn’t an altogether bad thing. And hoarding berries in the form of jam might actually be considered a virtue.

strawberry pickers

Whoever said that child labor is a bad thing clearly does not understand the advantage of the tiny hands when it comes to picking berries.

Step one is to gather as many strawberries as you can muster (here are my daughter and nephew gathering way more berries than a body could possibly eat in one… or three.. sittings.)

Then you basically wash them, cut off the stems (and cut them in half if they are particularity large), throw them in a pot with the warm sugar/lemon juice/lemon zest combo you’ve mixed up, and then simmer till the berries break up and the whole mixture thickens into a jam-like substance that gels when you pour a bit of it onto a very cold plate.

And voila, fresh strawberry jam… perfect for hostess gifts, or teacher gifts, or gifts to your grandparents, or just a gift to your own stomach. We couldn’t be bothered to actually can the stuff to make bonified preserves, but our version will last a few weeks in the fridge, which is far longer than you’ll need as it tends to be eaten in a flash. Perhaps next year we’ll go all Little House On The Prairie and try canning for real.

Click below for the full recipe, or get it straight from the source (we followed Ina Garten’s version…) — Read more

Monday, Monday– or more links about beating the heat

When it’s 100 million degrees outside, sometimes it’s best to just give up on the outdoors altogether, settle into a nice air-conditioned movie theater and enjoy Ant Man, which is actually quite good. The trailer doesn’t really do it justice, but here it is anyway.

If you live anywhere near Williamsburg, you should drop everything and go to McCarren Pool. Which is HUGE and CLEAN and especially great with kids (but they have a large lap only area as well, so you can get your proper swim on if need be.)

I’m not exactly sure why, but I always feel relieved when I spray on a bit of the aptly named Save Your Skin every day moisturizer by Solar Recover…

Zero Maria Cornejo bathing suits are on mad sale right now. Run don’t walk…

Hibiscus tea is great for hydrating and cooling down the body, especially when in iced form. It also lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, protects the liver and has anti-depressant properties. What’s not to love? Learn a bit more about it and then go buy some.

Something about a pair of white Ray-Ban sunglasses screams summer to me. Even though they are marketed as a vehicle for celebrating the winter.

A while back I blogged abut making our own ice cream sandwiches. It’s still a great idea.

Summertime slides

birkenstock waterproof sandals

My new and entirely waterproof Birkenstocks on their debut trip to the beach out in Rockaway.

This is just a quick testimonial for my new favorite shoes…

I’ve been a Birkenstock devotee for years (before that I stupidly thought they were lame and only for deep hippies who didn’t care what their shoes looked like… and then I got a pair, put them on and was converted.) I usually go for the Gizeh style, which looks a bit more like a thong and comes in the narrow width which a) fits my foot better and b) looks a bit more delicate and hence more flattering. But then my friend Wendy Schecter (whose business it is to find clothes and shoes for famous people who don’t have as much time, inclination and, in some cases, personal style as she does) gave me these white, waterproof Milan style Birks and a whole new world has opened up to me. They are flip flops with arch support, they clean up with just a splash of water and they come in all sorts of colors.

I will be wearing mine pretty much every day this summer. Unless I get a pair of pink ones too, in which case I’ll have to switch up every once in a while. Hurry up and get yours ’cause they’re selling out fast…

Monday, Monday– or more links about family road trips and eating your veggies…

my first car

My first car was a Plymouth Valiant…

Check out these 5 short Pixar films that inspired the making of the short Lava (now showing in theaters before you watch Inside Out.)

Does the world get taken over by computers because of their super-intelligence or does it get destroyed because of the machines’ stupidity?

Here are 10 hilarious games to play in the car with your family while you drive to Niagra Falls, or Maine, or Bozeman, Montana, or wherever you’re headed… (Thanks, Joanna Goddard, for this tip)

And if those aren’t enough, try singing some of these tunes from the Catchiest Songs Of All Time list and then see which one sticks in your head the longest.

It’s summer, which means we’ll be (hopefully!) spending lots of weekends at other people’s exotic getaways. Which also means it’s hostess gift season. I’m thinking about changing it up this year and giving these homemade bath bombs? If I can get it together to make them that is…

There are so many awesome vegetables flooding the farmers market these days… Lucky Peach has a whole chart (they call it The Contorni Matrix) that details a few new ways to serve them up.

And last but not least, f you’re going to go leopard print with your bathing suit this season, I think this is the way to go.

Monday, Monday… or more links about things we could use for the little cabin in Maine

maine sunset

Here’s what a typical sunset looks like from out our window. A far cry from the mean streets of NYC, let me tell you…

Ok so we are now in the aforementioned island-off-the-coast-of-Maine and have indeed used a boat to get groceries and ice cream (though we also brought our own ice cream maker and made some killer strawberry ice cream last night.)

Whenever we are up here, my husband and I spend hours fantasy-redecorating this little house. And now that we have wifi, we can go so far as researching specific things that would change this place from paradise into a super stylish paradise. And so, in honor of this effort, I share with you all a few links to some of my favorite items. Who knows? Maybe you will find use for some of this stuff in your secret woodlands hideout, too…

ice cream maker
We brought up our somewhat large (but awesome) Cuisinart ice cream maker, but these little ball ones might be a better option for the near-camping aspect of our vacation. Maybe next year…

food52 bluetooth speaker

The whole cabin is made of wood, wood walls, wood floors… So I figure we may as well continue the theme in every way. Like these wooden bluetooth speakers (to replace the early eighties era boom box currently sitting on the shelf)

food52 toolbox
And (also from the fabulous food52) this wooden toolbox. Because I’m sure that tools work better when they live someplace nice.

vintage thonet chair one kings lane

Photo courtesy One Kings Lane.

For some reason that I don’t fully understand, we have a set of too low outdoor chairs around the dining table. Which drives me crazy every time I sit down to eat. Wouldn’t it be nice to have these vintage Thonet chairs (from One Kings Lane) instead? They go with the whole wood theme too…

wooden trash can
My daughter has rightfully complained that there is no wastepaper basket in her room (hence all the crumpled pieces of paper scattered about the floor.) The more organized and on top of it parent that I strive to be will be ordering her one of these wooden cans from Umbra, in lavender of course.

jadeite glass mixing bowls
Also for some strange reason, we have almost no mixing/serving bowls. Just some oversized soup bowls and a stainless steel one that reminds me of something one might fins in an army barracks… So I was thinking something like these jadeite mixing bowls would work. Not so lovely that you don’t want to beat eggs in them, yet nice enough to put on the table filled with salad or fruit or… lobsters… (This is Maine, for crying out loud.)

wooden game house
Last but certainly not least, we have to fill the time on rainy days, or evenings, or any time we don’t feel like being all outdoorsy and active. This house of games promises to keep us all entertained for… like… ever… With nary a plug or a screen in sight!

One Morning in Maine

One Morning in Maine, another Caldecott Honor book by Robert McClosky

One Morning in Maine, another Caldecott Honor book by Robert McClosky

Blueberries for Sal has been one of our family’s favorite books for years. It’s got berries, time spent outdoors in the sunshine with mom, a cute bear, all sorts of other random animals, and great black and white illustrations including a drawing of an old fashioned kitchen (so one can compare appliances and wistfully wish we lived in a time when life was all about making blueberry jam.)

And yet I knew nothing about One Morning in Maine, another Robert McClosky’s classic, until my friend Kim mentioned it to me when we spoke about my upcoming family vacation to a little island off the Maine coast (9 days and counting!) This story is about the same little girl named Sal, albeit a bit older now, hanging out with her father and little sister, digging for clams, losing a tooth and heading to town on a boat for supplies and ice cream. I bought it immediately and am excited to settle down with my daughter to read it and compare the Maine of Sal and little Jane to the Maine we know and love ourselves.

Because in less than 2 weeks, we’re going to have to get in a boat to head into town for a scoop of ice cream too…

What would Ma do?

cross back linen apron on Food52. Photo by James Ransom, courtesy of

cross back linen apron on Food52. Photo by James Ransom, courtesy of

For the past week or so, we have been reading By The Shores Of Silver Lake, part 5 of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series. Mary, the oldest daughter, is now blind thanks to scarlet fever but still sews her own quilts and never complains, the family has just given each other beautiful handmade Christmas gifts and baked sour dough biscuits for surprise visitors whilst dancing to Pa’s fiddle and singing songs that can be heard across the desolate prairie.

It all sounds too good to be true. Plus Ma wouldn’t want to burst into tears because she couldn’t manage to extract the burnt out light bulb from her Viking stove hood.

In order to channel the spirit of the indomitable Caroline Ingalls, which I am desperately in need of as I ready our house for it’s annual summer rental, I am thinking perhaps I need to start wearing an apron. And right about now, I am feeling this Japanese inspired cross linen number from Food52. Now mind you, it’s a bit different from the calico aprons Ma tended to sport, but it is 2015, and as I’ve often looked toward Japan for gift inspiration of late (see garden clippers and the hori hori knife from earlier posts), I see no need to change direction now.

Especially when I need every moment to purge, clean, sort and organize so that our place can be in perfect condition… just in time for us to leave it in the hands of others.

And now I guess I’ll call the electrician to help me with these bulbs…

Monday, Monday… or more links about movies to watch with your kids over the summer (part 1)

For the first 3 odd years of her life, my daughter spent exactly no time in front of a screen of any kind. Except for the weekend her older cousins came to visit, and she watched a bit of a Barbie movie which (thank goodness) she wasn’t interested in at all.

But then the flood gates opened, and a true love affair with the silver screen began. Much to her dismay, screen time is still limited to 30 minutes a day on school days, but on the weekends and during vacations, we will often settle down to (gasp!!) an entire movie. And this summer promises to be filled with all sorts of opportunities for more.

Which means I have my homework cut out for me as I attempt to steer the ship away from Cinderella 3 and towards movies with a bit more substance like… The Princess Bride. (As you can see, I am not against fairy tales, I just want the stories to be told with some skill.)

Here are seven I’m hoping to watch this summer– some are old favorites and some we’ve yet to see. I’m sure there will be more lists as the summer progresses…

The horrible Cruella De Ville wants to turn 99 insanely cute dalmatian puppies into fur coats, but (of course) they are rescued by their loving parents and a gang of helpful farm animals. A classic from way back in the day that even the youngest kids can get into. 101 Dalmatians, 1961.

A drunk Carol Burnett, a dancing Albert Finney, a beturbaned Geoffrey Holder and a houseful of singing orphans from the 80′s put the recent version of Annie to shame, IMHO. Annie, 1982.

A beautiful black and white film about a Brooklyn kid who finds himself left to his own devices in 1950′s Coney Island. Home Alone from back in the day. The Little Fugitive, 1953.

Just in case there was any doubt as to Bob Fosse’s choreographic genius, there’s this 60′s tale of a window washer’s rise to the top. Step aside, Mad Men, and let these folks show you how it’s done. How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, 1967.

A beautifully animated film about a kid in Maine who discovers a huge alien robot and tries to protect it from the evil US Government agents who want to destroy it (because they think it’s some kind of Russian spy… sound familiar?) Based on a book by Ted Hughes. The Iron Giant, 1999.

I think all I have to say is The Princess Bride (1987), and you’ll know to drop everything and watch this right away. Kids or no kids.

Costco (or a company just like it) has taken over the world and completely trashed it, so all earthlings have been sent into space to await the clean up that never happens. 700 years later, it’s time to return, but humanity has devolved into blobs that sit in front of screens all day and night. Can two rogue robots save the day? This was my daughter’s first movie and it stays in regular rotation even now… Wall-E, 2008.

Yesterday, at some point…

double rainbow on the solstice

We saw a double rainbow above the parking lot at our favorite burger joint/ice cream spot in Sag Harbor. If that isn’t a good omen, I don’t know what is…

Yesterday, at some point is a series of photographs that describe a moment I experienced during the previous day. The posts are meant to be stand alone images, though at times I can’t control myself, and I end up expanding the caption into a more lengthy bit of text. Hopefully the extra information is useful, or at least interesting. If not, feel free to ignore it.