10.20.2014

A Fairy-Themed Combo Birthday Celebration

Having two children close in age (with birthdays eight days apart) has its pluses and minuses. The first two weeks of October are birthday central around here, and while it's nice to have all the celebrating happen at once, my oven is about as tired as I am. Turning 3 and 5 this year, I definitely hyped the joint birthday party idea to Millie and Vivian. Luckily, they were duped easily convinced. I am curious at how many years I'll be able to get away with this, though... I was talking to someone the other day who revealed he hated sharing his birthday with his little brother while they were growing up, so I'll definitely keep that in mind as the years go by.

How do you feel about the combo birthday party?

Luckily, the girls settled on a fairy theme pretty quickly, as it's all about fairies and magic at our house (we're still holding on to a dying plant that Millie is convinced is a beanstalk that's going to grow out our window). I worked with the amazing Chasing Fireflies, who sent me some adorable supplies from their Flower Fairies collection to compliment the party. I love this collection, which lends more towards woodland creature than Disney Tinkerbell (sorry Tink). One look and you can tell that the quality is a touch above... the cups/plates/napkins are super sturdy and strong, and we came home and hung up the garland in the girls room (such a fun memory from the party). They're still playing with the fairy centerpiece, too. 

I found wings for all the kids on Ebay, and headed to Michael's for "fairy houses" and painting supplies. Recipes and unicorn cake inspiration came from Pinterest (of course!), and music and face painting was provided by our neighborhood's party entertainer extraordinaire. Such a fun morning celebrating our little gals! Here are just a few pictures from the day:

















Disclaimer: Chasing Fireflies provided me with product for the purposes of this review. All opinions expressed herein are my own. 

10.12.2014

A Varsity Jacket for the Littles Set

Oh fall, how I love thee. The leaves, the cooling temperatures, the days and days of good, un-frizzy hair. And outerwear, of course. Fall is my favorite season clothes-wise, and while I love to see my girls in light summer dresses, fall layering suits them pretty well, too. Take these personalized hooded varsity jackets from Chasing Fireflies. Love! And I must report: while Husband doesn't weigh in with his opinion of the girls' clothing very often, he's a big fan of them, too. I suspect it has something to do with reminiscing on his old high school football days... 

In any case, they're a total hit. This mid-weight jacket is perfect for the changing of seasons (I'll be bringing them back out in the spring, too) and I like this spin on personalized clothing. Is it just me or is there something nostalgic about a letter jacket? As Husband travels down memory lane, I'm taking it one step further. To me these jackets have a vintage, "going to a sock hop" feel, and I kind of love that about them. Whatever the era, my gals will be comfy, stylish (and warm!) this fall.









Dislcaimer: While Chasing Fireflies sent me these jackets for review, all opinions expressed herein are my own.

10.09.2014

3 Years Old and Waffles to Boot!

We celebrated Vivian's third birthday last weekend at Petite Abeille, one of our favorite brunch spots in the city. It seemed fitting, as the birthday girl is a huge fan of waffles and theirs are some of the best around. But before I get to that -- and make myself hungry at the same time -- a few words on Miss Vivian Ella.

Like every other parent who waxes nostalgic on their child's birthday, I have to fall in line... I really don't know how Vivian is three years old! Maybe it's because she's my baby (okay, that's exactly why), but I have to admit I'm struggling a bit here. And now that Vivian is in preschool four days a week, she seems to be growing daily before my eyes. Some of it is quite wonderful (the curiosity! the giggles! the kisses!) and some, well, not so much (three really is the new two, you know). Either way, we treasure the little nut. Here's to my gal who would rather make funny faces with her mother than brush her teeth at night... we love you more than words can say!


Now, on to the birthday celebration. We go out to eat on Fridays as a family, but heading to Petite Abeille last weekend made me realize how much I miss BRUNCH. Though we still eat our fair share of eggs benedict, it's not a weekend event like it used to be before we had kids. And I must admit, I miss it. Petite Abeille was bustling and crowded, and for good reason. The food is delish (don't miss the pumpkin waffles this fall). I felt like clinking my mimosa flute with the person next to me, I was so happy to be there. And the birthday girl with her waffle topped with a candle, homemade whipped cream and strawberry sauce? She stuffed herself silly.

photo credit: nycgo.com





Here's to birthdays and many more brunches with this babe. Afterwards, we watched Millie & Viv run off their meals on the terraced grassy space at Lincoln Center while we soaked in the last bit of warm-ish weather of the season. A pretty great day, my friends.






Disclaimer: Our brunch at Petite Abeille was complimentary, but I can assure you, all opinions expressed are my own.

9.30.2014

Play Time with Kiwi Crate

You know those days when you're stuck inside because it's raining or because someone's sick or because it's freezing cold outside (those days are coming…) and you've already watched Paw Patrol three times and mama's going a little bit crazy?

Yeah, me too.

We had one of those afternoons a couple weeks ago, but thankfully, Kiwi Crate came to the rescue. This award-winning, monthly subscription service provides all the hands-on materials to inspire creative, educational fun. With themes like Music, Color, Robots and Safari, the crates deliver everything needed for a unique activity that won't have your child screaming for Dora (hurrah!)

And by the way, when they say everything is included, they mean it. I love the fact that I don't have to go running around looking for scissors and tape that I've quite possibly misplaced… (um, is that just me?) and the girls absolutely loved checking out the contents inside and were so curious about what they'd be making.



Each Kiwi Crate comes with 2-3 hands-on projects, in addition to a magazine with more activities around that month's theme. Ours was "Fun with Flight," so the girls made kites and rockets. A lot of fun! The instructions are easy to follow and it definitely felt like a collaborative effort, not a "Here Mommy, make this for me" project. Millie was obviously a bit more engaged as she's the older of the two, but Vivian had fun, too.


I just love that Kiwi Crate is an option for my kids when I don't want to turn on the TV and yet I'm not feeling motivated to get them involved in a project of my creation, or scouring the internet for games and art ideas (mama truth). While the monthly subscription is something fun to look forward to (we all know kids love getting mail!), I also like that you can buy a single box every once in a while, too.

This video of Vivian running with her completed kite on top of our apartment building just cracks me up.

       And the fun's not over yet! I've got an exclusive promo code so you can try out Kiwi Crate with your kids. Use BABYMC25 at checkout (Kiwi Crate ships to Canada as well!) and you'll receive 25% off your first month's subscription. New subscribers also receive free shipping plus a bonus welcome kit.

Here's to embracing creativity and saving your sanity at the same time, my friends!



Disclaimer: While I was sent a Kiwi Crate for the purposes of this review, all opinions expressed herein are my own.

9.29.2014

Preparing for Flu Season with LiveHealth Online

Fall is officially here, and I couldn't be more excited... it's my favorite season of the year, particularly here in NYC. However, the arrival of cooler temperatures also means that winter will be here before we know it, and that's decidedly less thrilling (for me, anyway).

In a nutshell, when I think cold weather, the words "flu season" almost immediately come to mind. AGH. We were all sick at some point last year, and the memory of fevers, sleepless nights and runny noses is still fresh in my mind. Thankfully, there are steps we can take along the way to reduce the risk of flu and school-borne illnesses. Check out these tips from Dr. Mia Finkelson, a doctor who treats patients through LiveHealth Online:

Rest up: Make sure your kids get between 9.5 - 12 hours of sleep each night to restore their bodies, improve their ability to help fight off germs, and reduce their stress levels.

Hands off: Germs are lurking everywhere during the school year and are transported mostly through our hands. Teach your kids to keep their hands away from their face, and make sure they wash hands often, especially before eating.

Eat for wellness: Stock up on nutritious foods to help kids and parents function at optimum levels. Kids love to snack. Keep it healthy with nuts, whole grain crackers, and fruit.

Don’t skip breakfast: Studies show that eating breakfast helps kids focus better in school, and they are less tired and cranky.

Immunize: Make time to get the flu shot for your family because studies show it safely protects against the most common strains of flu.


photo credit: webmd.com
That all seems perfectly doable, right? I'm pretty sure I'll be referring back to this list time and time again over the winter season, in addition to a new app I discovered by the folks behind LiveHealth Online. I love anything that makes my life easier, and this app does just that, providing a safe and fast way for moms to talk face-to-face with a doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment for urgent care conditions that pop up every fall and winter (colds, flu, rashes, pink eye... all that fun stuff).

Hello, convenience factor! Moms can use the LiveHealth Online app 24 hours a day, year-round to talk securely and privately by two­-way video chat with a U.S.-­based, board-certified, primary care doctor. If needed, the doctor you see through LiveHealth Online can send prescriptions automatically to your local pharmacy (in New York and most other states). 

Registering is free and easy; simply download the
app from the App Store (or Google Play) and sign up in one quick step. Typically $49 per visit, think of it as a cost-effective alternative to urgent care or retail clinics if you have a high deductible or don't have insurance. If you're a PPO or EPO member of Empire BlueCross BlueShield, a LiveHealth Online visit is covered at the same or lower out-of-pocket cost than a primary care office visit, and claims are automatically filed for a fast and easy experience.

Lastly, I've got some exciting news! I have a custom code for you to use to give LiveHealth Online a try the next time you or your little one is feeling ill (good for 1 free visit):

Code: BabyMeetsCity
Offer dates: 9/10/14 through 12/31/14

Here's to a healthy winter season ahead -- one filled with hot chocolate, snowman building and sledding... minus the flu. And in the meantime, it's comforting to know I have the LiveHealth Online app if I need it.

Disclosure: I was compensated by LiveHealth Online for participating in this campaign. All opinions expressed herein are my own.

9.20.2014

A Tale of Two Desks (& a giveaway!)

Confession time.

My desk is a downright cluster. A messy, dusty, unorganized platform for junk mail, important mail, notes, coffee rings and usually a toy or three. If you'd rather shield your eyes from the first photo, I totally understand. As an old friend of mine would say, sweet baby Jesus in a stroller, here it is...


I TOLD YOU IT WAS OKAY NOT TO LOOK!

But, now that your eyes have been burned and you can never un-see this disaster, I have good news. In the name of organization, of turning over a new leaf and "refreshing" my blog, I have attempted to get my desk to match the pretty new site re-design you see before you.

Because right now this little space is drowning in chaos and threatening to take me down with it.

So, while I was busy switching out clothes for the girls, donating what's outgrown and getting our closets in shape for the new season ahead, I attempted to do the same thing with my desk. My precious little tiny space in this little apartment we call home. With the help of The Organizing Store, fresh flowers, a quick trip to Staples and some "repurposing" around the house, I came up with this:



A bit of an improvement, no? I feel like I can breathe again. Initially, I reached out to The Organizing Store because just looking at their site got me inspired to get my act together. From makeup organizers to sweater boxes, to letter trays and toy storage... The Organizing Store HAS IT ALL. I could peruse their site for hours (and I certainly should for other areas of our home). They were excited about this little project, too, and sent me the Network Desk Collection, by Design Ideas to get me started. Very kind indeed.

I knew I needed more pops of color in a room with no windows, so I purchased The Organizing Store's pink Frisco paper storage box to file blog-related papers (FYI: it's seriously pink. Wasn't expecting thus embracing my inner Elle Woods).

Other pops of color include my can't-miss-it Staples paper shredder in orange and my Yoobi stapler in bright blue (it's possible this is meant for children but I really liked it so kept for myself. Also does Millie really need her hands on a stapler at age almost 5?) The bulletin board tiles/future inspiration board came from Staples as well. I really liked this 4 pack option (also super cheap, like under $15). The framed group of photos from my IG feed is from Pinstagram. Kind of love being able to see my kids again.

I can't tell you how nice it is to have a place for all the different facets of my life... there's a place for bills (yay, bills!), Millie's school-related items, blog-related documents, notecards, etc. Oh, and pens. I now have a pen holder. I unearthed a silver Ikea storage box (so old I can't find a link for it) from my closet which is now the perfect place to store notecards. When in doubt, use what you have, right?

And flowers. Fresh flowers. A must for any desk.

So it's nothing fancy, by any means. Who knows, maybe one day we'll have AN ACTUAL OFFICE for this type of thing, but for this moment in time, it's a perfect little "nook" for moi.

To celebrate having a place to actually write cards again, The Organizing Store would like to give a set away to one lucky reader -- how fabulous is this "potpurri" notecard collection from artist Inslee Haynes?
photo credit: Inslee.net
Easy enteries via Rafflecopter below and I'll pick a winner next week. US residents only, please. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: As mentioned, I was given a desk set to review by The Organizing Store. The Yoobi stapler and Staples paper shredder were given to me previously. All opinions expressed, however, are my own.

9.17.2014

Coffee & Cupcakes with LITTLE ELLIOT, BIG CITY's Mike Curato

So by now I think everyone knows I love reviewing NYC-themed kids' books, but rarely am I able to meet the person responsible for creating the book in the first place. Until yesterday! I had such a fun morning chatting with Mike Curato, the author and illustrator behind the new children's book, Little Elliot, Big City.


As it turns out, both Mike -- and Little Elliot! -- share a fondness for cupcakes, so naturally I found it necessary to introduce him to my favorite cupcake spot, Billy's Bakery, in Chelsea. Over coffee and tea and yummy cupcakes, we chatted about our shared love of "old" New York (you know the one... the glitz, the glamour, the fabulous clothes, cars and people... insert any Fred Astaire or Judy Garland movie here). One of the things I love most about the book is that it's set in a different era, and that same magic of NYC is captured so beautifully on Mike's pages.

Here's one of my favorites from the book:


If you think this location looks a bit familiar, there's a reason... Mike modeled this illustration after the old Vesuvio Bakery in Soho. I wondered about that when I first saw the book, and it was so fun getting confirmation from Mike himself.

There's just so much to love about this story. From Little Elliot's quest to be noticed amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, to his love of cupcakes and a new friendship based on helping one another, Little Elliot, Big City is a truly special book (and you don't have to be a New Yorker to figure that out).

Here's a few fun facts I learned from Mike:

- Little Elliot is inspired by one of Mike's stuffed animals from childhood.
- The little girl staring at Elliot on one of the pages (and the boy holding the other hand of his mother) are illustrations of the flower girl and ring bearer at Mike's wedding (his mother is of course Mike's good friend)!
- Little Elliot, Big City is the FIRST book in a 3 part series. So there will be more Little Elliot down the road!
- Little Elliot's frustration at not being noticed at the bakery is based on Mike's own experience at a deli counter when he was about five years old.
- Mike Curato is proof that going after your dream can produce the most amazing results.

Fuzzy/frizzy photo courtesy of man who had apparently never
taken a photo before and the rainy/muggy morning.

I supposed it goes without saying, but I highly recommend making this little polka-dotted elephant's story a part of your home library. Great to meet you, Mike!

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