126 articles

Here comes Valentine’s Day… again!

2016 valentines

Last year, we painted on hearts we’d cut out of newspaper and then stuck them on envelopes we decorated with watercolor and glitter.

It happens every year. I wake up one morning maybe 6 or 8 days into February, and I realize with a panic that Valentine’s Day is RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER and I have done nothing to prepare. We do have a tradition of making peppermint bark, so at least that’s decided. But the packaging changes every year. I think we killed it last year (see above) so the stakes are high.

After I have my moment of despair, I generally roll up my sleeves and dive deep into the internet, looking for inspiration. This year is no different, and I’m going to share the ideas I’ve stumbled upon here– because I’m sure I’m not the only person who has not yet made their heart shaped masterpieces…

glitter rocks

These glitter rock valentines are perfect for a party favor or maybe something you wrap in a clear plastic bag tied up with a red ribbon… They say these are for kids, but to be honest, I kind of want one for my desk!

martha's stenciled gift bag

No search for Valentine’s Day craft ideas is complete without a visit to Martha Stewart. She delivers yet again with these fun stenciled gift bags.

dot cards with glitter heart

Who doesn’t love a card with glitter and polka dots?

paint chip valentines

One trip to the paint store, a handful of paint chips and lo! the best Valentine’s Day bookmarks ever.

This origami heart can be a card, or a tag, or you can make a whole bunch of them and string them up as a garland… the possibilities are endless!

valentine's day heart garland

And, while we’re on the topic of garlands, you could also make these heart garlands and hang them up around your house.

Kids clothes. On sale. Now.

pink chicken

Spotted hanging on the door to the Pink Chicken shop in Amagansett this morning…

So I’m walking to the library after dropping my daughter off at camp, and I see this little piece of adorable-ness hanging outside of Pink Chicken, one of the impossibly cute shops in Amagansett. It’s enough to make me almost want to have a baby (not quite, mind you, but close)…

But what it does remind me is that now is the time to buy all of our kid’s clothes for next summer, because everything is on deep sale right about now. Here’s where I’m going to go just as soon as I finish this post:

sweet william
I am most certainly buying these leggings from Sweet William. At $14, they are practically free.

soor ploom
I NEVER pass up a chance to get something from Soor Ploom, which makes the best best best clothes for little girls. I promise to keep pestering them abut making boys clothes. So far no luck, but I won’t give up.

OTO tut
Over the Ocean is kind of like a porno site for kids clothes and accessories. We all really need to have this little ballet tutu/dress thingy for our daughters, right? Come on… think of the photos…

And then, of course, J Crew, where one should NEVER pay full price for ANYTHING as it was almost certainly go on sale at some point…

Hopefully that’s enough to get you going. Do please let me know in the comments if you see anything especially good out there…

Go see the Martin Creed show RIGHT NOW (if you haven’t already and you happen to be in NYC…)

art - kids
Martin Creed balloon

My daughter, having the time of her life, in the middle of the balloon room at the Martin Creed show uptown at the Park Avenue Armory.

The Back Door, British artist Martin Creed’s show at The Park Avenue Armory is absolutely not to be missed. Which means you have 3 more days to catch it before the building wide installation closes and fades into a memory (and lots of Instagram photos).

There are balloons, a piano that opens and shuts on it’s own, a whole range of videos, a band of musicians that wander through the space making enigmatic songs, huge curtains that move on their own and all sorts of beautiful objects that make you pause and think about all sorts of things. Plus the huge main room has been transformed into a kind of dark internal head space where the “mouth” opens every once in awhile and you can see out through the back door. Hence the title of the exhibit.

Go see the show. Take your kids, who will love the balloons and the curtain and the piano and most of the videos at the very least. And hurry before it’s gone.

To motivate you, here is one of Creed’s videos. Needless to say this was a particular favorite of my daughter’s…

And here are some photos I took of the show…

Martin Creed
The Back Door
At the Park Avenue Armory through Aug 7
643 Park Ave, NYC
tickets are $15, available online or at the door

Monday, Monday– or a few links to start easing us into summer

Scott Kelly's strange and beautiful photographs of the Earth from space.

Scott Kelly’s strange and beautiful photographs of the Earth from space.

Check out Krrb’s screen-free ideas to keep the kids busy on a road trip.

And here are a few screen-time tips for those of us parents who belong to the everything-in-moderation school.

But then again, sometimes, looking at screens can be a transcendent experience… like when you look at astronaut Scott Kelly’s photographs of the Earth from space.

It’s getting hot out there– so maybe it’s time to upgrade an old t-shirt into an airy twist-back top.

Nothing says summer like a triple flavored home made popsicle, if I do say so myself…

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could fill, like, 100 water balloons at the same time? Well it seems our prayers have been answered.

Perhaps a little whipped yogurt cheesecake with roasted rhubarb for desert?

Wait, last year’s bathing suit doesn’t still fit?

It’s looking like it’s actually going to be hot enough to go swimming this weekend… Which means it is long past bathing-suit-shopping-for-the-kids time. Here are some suits that have caught my eye during my most recent late night internet surfing sessions…

bobo choses swim suit
This print was inspired by David Hockney, whose work always makes me think of sunshine and carefree days. Bobo Choses David swimsuit, $59

pop up shop cat suit
We will not be getting a cat as a pet any time soon (we’re all allergic) so maybe this cat suit will suffice… Popupshop’s Black Cat swimsuit, $38.

wolf and rita bikini
This is the kind of bathing suit a sort of goth badass princess would wear. Wolf & Rita Amelia bikini, $69.

seersucker swimsuit
Nothing says summer like seersucker… J Crew Seersucker swimsuit, $52.50

FRANCISCO-STROKES-PRODUCT

I don’t have a son, but if I did, I’d like to see him running around in these Wolf & Rita swimming trunks.

wolf and rita two piece bathing suit
The perfect compromise between my daughter’s urgent desire for a bikini and my personal preference for one piece suits…
Nununu Star Tankini, from $51.

boy tie die swim trunks

One last cute one for the boys… because I can’t resist an indigo tie die… Stella Cove boy swimsuit, $45.

Only 4 days till Valentine’s Day!

It’s Wednesday and Valentine’s Day is Sunday. And if you have young kids, the deadline may even be the day after tomorrow, since one tends to have to produce cards, etc, for all the classmates, favorite teachers, etc.

We don’t have much time.

If you are still looking for ideas– here are a few I’ve seen while casting about for inspiration. Best of luck to you all!

shortbread cookies

One surefire way to a person’s heart is via their stomach, so these heart shaped shortbread cookies should be just the thing. I’m thinking these are obligatory if you’re having any kind of Valentine’s Day party…

tissue paper sun catcher hearts

photo from MarinMommies.com

These tissue paper “sun-catchers” are a great way to add a bit of color to the otherwise dreary midwinter days…

string heart cards

photo courtesy hellowonderful.co

These string heart cards are a great way for your kids to practice handling a needle and yarn, plus the clean graphic appeals to kids and adults alike.

heart shaped crayons

photo courtesy momdot.com

I mean, what kid doesn’t want a multi colored heart shaped crayon?

newspaper hearts

photo courtesy of youaremyfave.com

These painted newspaper heart cards were the design that really spoke to us this year. We’ve made a few adjustments and are mid-production now. I promise to let you guys all know how they turn out!

felt tipped arrows

photo courtesy carolynshomework.com

Perhaps a nod to Cupid is the right way to go this year? These twig and felt arrows of course make great little toys, but they would really be amazing as a little extra touch on top of a beautifully wrapped gift that you might be thinking of handing over to that special someone…

wax crayon hearts

photo courtesy marthastewart.com

No list of holiday related crafts is complete without something from the grande dame of the handiwork universe. Martha Stewart’s wax paper and crayon hearts look beautiful hanging in the window but would also make lovely stand alone cards.

Ways-to-Use-Blow-Painted-Heart-Art6

What kid (or grown up, for that matter) doesn’t secretly want to spend all day blowing paint through straws? I’m thinking these straw blown heart cards may be the way we go next year…

A little pep in your step

I was just wasting time on Facebook when I came across this amazing video. The caption (from the Studio by Kelly Facebook page) reads:

The Nicholas Brothers were a famous African American team of dancing brothers, Fayard (1914–2006) and Harold (1921–2000). With their highly acrobatic technique (“flash dancing”), high level of artistry and daring innovations, they were considered by many the greatest tap dancers of their day. Growing up surrounded by Vaudeville acts as children, they became stars of the jazz circuit during the heyday of the Harlem Renaissance and went on to have successful careers performing on stage, film, and television well into the 1990s.

Now that I’ve shared it with you guys, my time on Facebook has been well spent.

Phew.

Pizza night!

pizza dough ingredients

This is basically all you need to make the highest quality pizza dough at home.

When I discovered how easy it is to make pizza at home, I inserted a weekly pizza night into our dinner rotation. Add to that the fact that it is a shared activity with your kids (who doesn’t love making a pie and pouring cheese all over it?) and the fact that the whole cooking process takes… oh… about 10 minutes, and it’s a miracle we don’t have pizza every night.

For about a year, I have been ordering frozen dough from Fresh Direct. It comes in the perfect size and it absolutely eliminates the need for any skill whatsoever. But then I saw this recipe for home made dough by the pizza gurus at Roberta’s and I found myself seized with the urgent desire to Make. My. Own. Dough. From. Scratch.

I put it off for a few weeks, and then it took me a minute to track down 00 flour (a special Italian finely ground variety) but once I had my hands on that I was off to the races. And the thing is… the dough was DELICIOUS. And really easy. Beyond really easy. I’m sure I have loads of room for improvement, but even my most basic beginner version comes in head and shoulders over the frozen stuff we’ve been eating up till now.

pizza dough pre-rise

Here’s are my first two balls of pizza dough, all mixed up and ready to rise.

I found the recipe on NY Times Cooking, and I got my confidence to go for it after watching the video that goes with it. All you need is time for the dough to rise– either overnight in the fridge or 3 – 4 hours on the counter.

pizza dough

All risen up and ready to go!

And then the rest is just tomato sauce, cheese and maybe some onions…

the finished pizza

As usual, I started eating before I remembered that I should photograph the finished product. So here is most of my pizza, which was a delicious small cheese with onions.

Here’s the recipe if you can’t deal with clicking through to the Times…

Roberta’s Pizza Dough

Ingredients

153 grams 00 flour (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
153 grams all-purpose flour (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons)
8 grams fine sea salt (1 teaspoon)
2 grams active dry yeast (3/4 teaspoon)
4 grams extra-virgin olive oil (1 teaspoon)

Preparation

In a large mixing bowl, combine flours and salt.

In a small mixing bowl, stir together 200 grams (about 1 cup) lukewarm tap water, the yeast and the olive oil, then pour it into flour mixture. Knead with your hands until well combined, approximately 3 minutes, then let the mixture rest for 15 minutes.

Knead rested dough for 3 minutes. Cut into 2 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Place on a heavily floured surface, cover with dampened cloth, and let rest and rise for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature or for 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. (If you refrigerate the dough, remove it 30 to 45 minutes before you begin to shape it for pizza.)

To make pizza, place each dough ball on a heavily floured surface and use your fingers to stretch it, then your hands to shape it into rounds or squares. Top and bake.

Done!

I used the standard measurements (couldn’t deal with grams) and it all worked out fine… Oh and if at all possible, pre heat the cookie sheet or cast iron pan or pizza stone before you slide on the pie. It makes the world of difference.

O Canada!

Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery.

The Puffin In Bloom Collection edition of Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery.

I never read Anne of Green Gables as a kid, though I was vaguely aware of the movie which aired on PBS in the mid eighties.

I had no idea what I was missing.

My daughter, attracted like a moth to a flame by the cursive gold letters and the lavender-with-pink-flowers cover, clutched this book to her chest while we were shopping for holiday gifts and literally wouldn’t put it down. So we bought it, and started to read it together the next evening.

Written in a breathless and exuberant manner that perfectly reflects the main character, author L.W. Montgomery draws us into the lovely and enchanted world that was Prince Edward Island at the beginning of the twentieth century. The story centers around an eleven year old girl who is reluctantly adopted by an elderly couple who had been hoping for a boy to help them on the farm. Her extraordinary lust for life and vivid imagination combine to create a series of adventures that do cause some trouble but mostly endear her to everyone she meets… including the reader.

But I’m sure you know all of that already, because everyone on earth has read this book (or seen the movie). I seem to be one of the rare few who missed out.

The short chapters make for perfect pre-bedtime reading (my kid is 8 which is a perfect age for this story) and the characters are as compelling as anything one might hope for. Anne’s interactions with her schoolmates are a great way to begin to open up discussions about the complexities of friendships during those crucial developmental years (and believe me, we parents can use all the help we can get) Plus I am always all for a book that celebrates imagination and creativity and the outdoors (with nary an iPad in sight!)

But most importantly, Anne of Green Gables is another one of those classic books that is secretly about girl power in all of it’s wondrous forms, whilst being cleverly disguised as a friendly Canadian from the early 1900′s. Anne is strong, adventurous and first in her class, while also being into the latest fashions and dreaming about forests full of fairies.

The story comes in all shapes and sizes, but this Puffin In Bloom Collection version, with beautiful illustrations by Anna Bond, take the experience to a whole new heirloom quality level.