May 2013

Sweets for the sweet

artisinal marshmallows by wondermade

Your grandmother would definitely recognize all 6 ingredients in these babies.

I have gotten into the bad habit of arriving every afternoon at my daughter’s school with some kind of treat. And by treat, I of course mean some kind of sweet thing. Not blackberries mind you (though she loves those, too) but something that falls into the forbidden-fruit category of — dare I say it — candy.

And as I am one of those parents who puts a limit on the amount of sugar ingested by my child every day, this has begun to pose a challenge. I am not so hard core as to turn my nose up at all sweets, but if we’re going to eat ice cream, let it please be from the artisinal homemade indie ice cream truck, not Mr Softee, if you know what I mean.

And we live in a town that makes this kind of discretion easy, thank god.

So imagine my delight when, after eating a delicious breakfast at Alice’s Arbor in Bed Stuy, I sidled up to their little grocery counter and discovered these homemade, all-natural-ingredients marshmallows by a company called Wondermade. It’s the perfect after school bite: A box full of 16 tiny bits of sweet soft deliciousness, without the high fructose corn syrup I have been so studiously avoiding since I became a parent.

Made by a couple on Orlando, FL, they come in all sorts of off beat flavors like orangesicle, root beer and lemonade. They even have a special 4 pack for Father’s Day consisting of bourbon, coffee, guiness and maple bacon. How cool is that?

And if you don’t happen to see them in a store in your hood, you can always buy them online. (just like you probably buy everything else, anyway…)

Monday, Monday


Happy Memorial Day. And while we’re on the topic of remembering things, here are some places to check out on the web…

An app to help you remember your dreams.

NPR gathers an hour’s worth of TED talks on the subject of memory, how a nimble one can improve your life, and how a faulty one can hurt others.

When I asked my husband what is his favorite memoir, he answered Goodbye To All That, by Robert Graves. Without hesitation. It’s about the worldwide loss of innocence that occurred as a result of World War I. Seems like a bit of a downer to me, but the best books often are.

Green Memory. A very short poem by Langston Hughes about war and money.

UCLA Professor Gary Small gives us a couple of tips on how to improve our memory.

There are folks leaving disposable cameras all over the world for people to find, use to record a memory or two, pass on to others, and eventually return. It’s called The Disposable Memory Project. Have you seen one of these cameras anywhere?

Why remember stuff when you can just enter it into your phone? Check out PC Magazine’s top 10 organizational apps for the iPhone.

Adeline Michèle is the new high priestess of disco

Adeline Michele

Here’s Adeline, casually hanging out in the window of her (brilliant) stylist Irini Arakas’ midtown studio.

And I got to shoot her, the day before yesterday, for the online celebration of NY culture/magazine: The Aesthete.

Born in France but now living in Brooklyn, Adeline fronts a 17 piece band called Escort and they will be taking over the stage at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday night.

It is a show that should not be missed.

But if you have other plans, just go buy the record (one of Rolling Stone’s 50 top records this year) put it on, wrap yourself in sequins and dance till the sun comes up.

Cause that’s what I’m going to be doing.

Dan Estabrook makes beautiful pictures

Dan Estabrook inviote

The official online invitation to Dan Estabrook’s beautiful show. Which I just lifted from the website, but I figure since I’m promoting the show it’s ok, right?

For some reason, it seems that May 2013 is “my-friend-has-a-show-in-a-gallery” month so I have been trucking over to Chelsea to see what has been keeping them so busy for the past little while. And I must say I have not been disappointed.

Take my friend Dan Estabrook’s images for example. He uses what are called alternative processes, (ie not silver like your standard black and white photo, but other light sensitive emulsion techniques like gum bichromate and carbon printing that were typically used in the early days of photography) to create a haunting series of pictures that could be over a hundred years old. They are intimate, captivating and surreal, and manage to be both peaceful and disturbing at the same time.

His show is up through June 15th at Daniel Cooney and is well worth checking out. I took my daughter to the opening and she immediately fell in love with the girl with the fire headband (below). I liked her too, though I am also partial to the feet (also below) maybe because I am a Pisces and we are supposedly really obsessed with our feet.

dan estabrook images

Or does the fact that I especially love the feet image make me some kind of Jesus freak?

I apologize for not writing a profound review of this show. I am about as much of an art critic as I am an astronaut. But you should still listen to me and go see this show anyway.

Just because.

Dan Estabrook
Daniel Cooney Fine Art
526 West 26th Street
Through 15 June

Monday, Monday

Another Monday, another reason to spend time clicking on random links that I thought you might be interested in…

Saw the latest Star Trek movie this weekend. It wasn’t profound, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love it. Trailer above.

Can a person disappear in plain sight? Check out Chinese artist Liu Bolin’s TED talk. Turns out, Ralph Ellison is not the only Invisible Man.

Where there is a life-sized Barbie Dreamhouse, there is an Occupy Barbie Dreamhouse protest movement.

Cassy Coyne and Krrb show you how to upholster your own dining room chairs. Finally!

A selection of nicely designed board books for little kids that aren’t embarrassing to be seen on your coffee table. [If you get a prompt to download the "latest Flash Player" when you open this page, don't do it. It's a scam.]

Saw the Yeah Yeah Yeahs play in Prospect Park this past weekend. They brought the choir with them to make Sacrilege a truly transcendent experience. (You’ll need Spotify to listen to this one…)

Read Angelina’s OP-Ed piece in the NY Times about her double mastectomy (because who ever actually reads the primary source material?) and then one woman’s opinion about why it matters.

I took my 5 year old to see Matilda

art - kids
Matilda, The Musical

Matilda, The Musical

… and she LOVED it.

One of my closest friends in the world lives in Mexico City and comes to NY a few times a year for a taste of her old hometown. During this most recent visit, we took our children (my kindergartener and her 7th grade son) to see the Royal Shakespeare Company’s brilliant musical production of the dark and slightly twisted Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

It was over two hours long, the actors spoke and sang in heavy British accents that even I had trouble following at times, and yet my daughter was riveted. And so was I.

The set (designed by Rob Howell) was a movable feast of letters and desktops and books and bedrooms that truly captured the spirit of the story without being at all distracting. The performances were all mesmerizing and fully deserving of all of the Tony nominations they have received. (for once!)

I could go on and on, but there’s no real point. The New York Times review says it all.

drawing of trunchbull

An inspired artist rendering of the evil Miss Trunchbull, with “I hate kids” in kids spelling scrawled across the top.

What I would like to do is to share one piece of advice with anyone who is considering taking a small kid to a Broadway show that starts right about bath time and ends long after the lights usually are turned out.

Read the book with your kids. At least once if not twice. Talk about it constantly. Draw the characters. (see above photo of the evil Miss Trunchbull) If there’s a soundtrack available, buy it and listen to it. Don’t worry about ruining the story. The more they know, the more they will love it. Oh and bring lots of snacks.

Click below for a few more photos and a link to buy tickets… — Read more

Monday, Monday

car at the dump

This photo might seem banal, but to me it represents a huge weight off. I give you my car, filled to the brim with boxes that are themselves filled to the brim with other boxes or old papers that I have finally admitted I NO LONGER NEED TO HOLD ON TO. As my sister would say, this is major. Major. I will be celebrating all week.

School fundraiser? Check.

Mother’s Day? Check.

21 boxes of useless junk cleared out of the basement, contents recycled or donated (see above photo)? Check.

Finally time to share a few links. Lest you think I’d let a week go by without them…

A hilarious online show about the world of marijuana dealers in Brooklyn called High Maintenance. This is an 8 minute video commitment, but well worth it. I laughed so hard I was worried I’d wake up the finally sleeping child…

The tzar of data visualization, Jer Thorpe, turns data into visual images we can all understand.

This is the perfect tiny garden for a tiny space.

Check out this awesome tree house outside of San Fransisco.

Watch this time lapse video of the solar eclipse last week as seen over the Australian sky. Feel free to mute the music, which I don’t think really adds much to the experience…

Spruce up an empty space with this geometric party installation you can make yourself.

A cute new (to me, anyway) Danish furniture and toy design company for kids.

The Tree Book

The Tree Book will help you feel like less of an idiot when your kids ask you what kind of tree is out front. Or down the street.

The Tree Book will help you feel like less of an idiot when your kids ask you what kind of tree is out front. Or down the street.

Now that the weather has finally gotten lovely, we are walking a bit more slowly and paying more attention to the world around us. Which leads to the inevitable conversations about the various trees that grow on our block and in the playground and at my parents house, etc etc.

I have been coming up way short, in my role as mother/tree expert. I know cherry trees when they blossom, and I’m sure I can tell a pine from a maple, but that’s about all. I’d like to say it’s because I grew up in the city, but we have plenty of trees here, so maybe I should just say that I grew up with my eyes closed.

But they are open now, and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s Tree Book For Kids And Their Grown-ups is exactly what I need to help “teach” (aka learn at the same time but I am a faster reader and as such get to be the expert) my daughter all about the trees that are all around us, providing us with air and shade.

drawing of dogwood tree

Get to know each tree through these lovely drawings.

The drawings are beautiful and comprehensive, so that we can really begin to be familiar with the leaves, seeds, flowers and even bark (see below) of various trees. I am looking forward to the day when I can walk around all knowingly pointing out various trees to groups of adoring children who have gathered round to soak up my wisdom.

At least now I have a place to start.

tree bark

Learn to tell the difference between a Saucer Magnolia and a Weeping Willow just from the trunk!

You can buy the Tree Book on the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens website.

And you should.

Tiny steps part 1.5

organize my cabinet please

When my daughter was tiny, I used to blame this mess on her love of opening cabinets and “rearranging” them. She is not tiny anymore, however…

Here’s a slightly embarrassing fact about me: I subscribe to a few self-help e-newsletters. And while, more often than not, I delete them without even opening the messages, I do succumb every once in awhile. Maybe they’ll have something helpful to say, I tell myself hopefully.

About a week ago, I opened an e mail from (a cheerleader-y daily get-your-house-clean-and-organized site that I like because it’s all about not being too hard on yourself) and read that my daily task should be to “declutter our leftover food storage containers!” How did she know about my cabinet-from-hell (see above photo)? I did what I usually do, which is to put that task on my imaginary 500 page to-do list and went on with my day. And I haven’t opened another e mail from them since.

This morning, however, I thought about that message again as I dug through the aforementioned cabinet, desperately trying to find a top for the container that housed the cookies my daughter and I had made for teacher appreciation day. (We should probably have given the teachers a bottle of Scotch, but I digress.)

And so this morning, after walking to school in the pouring rain and delivering our cookies to much acclaim, I sat down in front of that cabinet and straightened it the f*^k out.

same cabinet. much cleaner

Here’s that same cabinet, after a mere 45 minutes of loving attention during which time I also learned about cooking on the Gaza Strip by listening to NPR.

It took less than an hour. Here’s what I got out of it:

  • A much nicer visual experience when I open up the cabinet.
  • A huge bag of #5 plastic to recycle at Whole Foods.
  • A huge bag of various containers to give to Ada’s school art department.
  • Only glass or BPA free containers to store our food in.
  • 2 muffin tins, a cake pan and a pan to make Madeleine cookies I didn’t know I had
  • A glorious and almost overwhelming feeling of victory.

  • Fly Lady also suggested putting all the tops into a large zip lock bag – a great idea which I didn’t end up using but thought I’d pass along to you guys.

    After all that, I am now sitting down to my desk to begin the slightly less housewife-y part of my day. But I do it happy in the knowledge that there is just a tiny bit more order in my life. Next time the org bug hits me, I’ll get back to working on my office, I promise…

    Monday, Monday

    self portrait

    Nothing puts a smile on a mother’s face like a self portrait by her kid. At least when said kid is still little…

    A few links to help you be less productive (but perhaps more web savvy?) on this hazy Monday:

    Feeling ambitious? Try making these spring vegetable dumplings from the ever amazing Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen.

    Gotta love a village that gets pissed when a magazine names it one of America’s “happiest seaside towns.”

    See why Rita Pierson brought tears to my eyes during her TED talk imploring fellow educators to be the champion kids really need.

    If The New York Times piece on guerrilla gardener Ron Finley doesn’t get you all inspired to plant a curbside vegetable garden, I don’t know what will.

    Learn how to top off your Mother’s Day gift with a ribbon rosette by watching this video from One Kings Lane. It’ll look so nice, she won’t care what’s inside!

    And if she has everything she needs, why not honor your mom by helping someone else’s?

    Don’t want to be a downer here, but lately, I have had a lot of illness in my family. I found this essay on how to talk to a sick friend to be really really spot on. The book’s probably worth reading too.

    And in conclusion, I would just like to say that this is, without a doubt, the perfect summer dress for a little girl.