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...


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.


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!


An Open Letter to My Daughters on the Anniversary of 9/11

This post was originally published on BabyZone. My sentiments remain the same.

To My Sweethearts,
When you read about September 11th one day, about everything that happened and the related aftermath, it will feel so distant and be so crippling to understand as it is for me, still. And yet you will be oddly connected to this event because you are New Yorkers.

You will likely ask where I was on that fated day, and I will tell you I was walking into work (late, as usual) when the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I learned of it almost immediately as I was at CBS News at the time, and there were televisions around everywhere. We stood in front of screens in disbelief as to what must have been a horrible accident, only to realize when the second plane hit the South Tower that it was no mistake.
You will want to know if I knew anyone who died that day, and I did, my loves. I will try to explain what losing a friend is like in the most light-soaked way, but it will be difficult. I will not tell you about what that realization is like when the phone keeps ringing and you understand, finally, that the person who’d left you a message just a few days before will not be picking up.
You will need to know about the aftermath; about how life has changed. Those answers are, without a doubt, endless. Life goes back to normal yet is forever different at the same time. I wish I could explain it better, but sadly, it is almost inevitable that you will experience something similar in your lifetime. Then, you will “get it”, and it will break my heart. If ONLY I could shield horrible things from your line of vision and consciousness… if only.
But know this, my beautiful daughters: there will always be good in this world; there will always be people that run TOWARDS danger to help others, to give of themselves what they can. Do not dwell on violence and hate but instead focus on all the good in the world, of which there is plenty.
Do that and a crippling day will become a little easier to bear.  
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
- Fred Rogers

Photo credit: FreeAllImages.com

a day trip to governor's island

There's no question about it, Governor's Island is one of NYC's finest hidden gems. Sitting a mere 800 yards from Lower Manhattan, this former military base has transformed into quite a beautiful place, making it a perfect destination for a day trip with the family. From artistic installations -- check out the 4 Heads Festival happening every weekend this month! -- to classes and concerts, Governor's Island is a cultural destination, complete with a delicious array of food trucks (though you're welcome to bring your own picnic, too). For more information and a ferry schedule from Manhattan & Brooklyn, see here.

We visited on Labor Day this summer, and had a great day (despite the muggy, hot August weather). We'd like to head back one more time before the park closes on September 28th. What about you?


a better late than never back-to-school #giveaway

September has brought lots of changes to Casa Baby Meets City. If you've ever visited the site before, you'll see I have a new design (courtesy of Smitten Blog Designs). After five years of blogging, I figured it was time! I'm really happy with my fresh new "look," especially the NYC-themed icons and my about page. Fun, right? Change is good, as they say.

I have to keep reminding myself of that on the home front, too. Millie bounded out the door for kindergarten last week, and Vivian begins nursery school this week. As I curse the passage of time for stealing my babies from me, it's also exciting to watch them grow and learn something new each day. As any parent can attest, to have a front row seat as your child's personality develops is both amazing and exhausting at the same time.

To celebrate all this change happening, I thought a BIG 'OL GIVEAWAY might be fun! I've worked with some of my favorite brands to bring this together, and I do hope you'll enter... cause it's a really good one. Take a look at what one lucky winner (US residents only, please) is going to grab:

(1) pair of Livie & Luca Shoes
Simply put, Livie & Luca Shoes are one of the most well-constructed children's shoe brands on the market, and their designs are so cute I want to wear a pair of bird on my feet, too. Seriously. I have a hard time getting Vivian to take these shoes off.

(1) "Camp Combo" Safety Tat Anywhere Label Set
I love that Safety Tat labels are as cute as they are durable. I've stuck them to clothes, water bottles and backpacks thus far and I'm not worried that they'll be peeling off the next day. Identifying your child's belongings is super important for school, classes and camps and Safety Tat is an easy way to do just that.

(1) Home Grown Books Early Reader Set
I recently reviewed this Brooklyn-based company for Big Apple Books, and I'm a big fan. Not only are they big believers in reading and literacy, but their books and packaging are made with eco-friendly products.

(1) Mamoo Kids bag of choice
So many things to love about Mamoo Bags. Number one, this mom-owned company believes in investing in community, so all bags are made locally. From messenger to toddler backpacks, the line is simply adorable, not to mention sturdy yet soft to the touch.

(1) Oil & Water raincoat
A quick look at Oil & Water and you'll be wishing they made these coats in adult sizes. Trend-setting and fashionable, we particularly love their "twirl" coat as Millie's a bit of a "twirler" herself (along with every other little girl on the planet).

(1) $20 gift credit to CC & Mays
Featuring brands like Egg by Susan Lazar, Olive Juice and Pink Chicken, CC & Mays has impeccable taste in children's fashion.

(1) $50 gift credit to Zazzle
I like to describe Zazzle as a one-stop shop for anything you could possibly need. Ever. In your life. We love this mermaid-theme water bottle for school (and on a side note I'm personally obsessed with their massive line of pillows).

(1) pair of Little MissMatched bee socks
Buzz buzz! This pair of bee liner socks is super cute. I love that Little MissMatched really "gets" their mini clientele. From socks to backpacks, their designs are vibrant and loaded with personality.

(1) pair of Native Shoes
I think it's safe to say I heart Native Shoes. In a nutshell, they're lightweight yet sturdy; comfortable yet hip. And that goes for the adult sizes, too!

(2) Design by Tangee hair clips
Another mom-owned business shout out! Design by Tangee began with luxury handbags and bedding and has since expanded to the most chic hair accessories you can imagine for little gals. Love!

(2) GoPicnic Snack Kits
GoPicnic is taking the guess work out of what to give your child to eat, thank goodness! Free of trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and other nastiness, I especially love their snack kits, like hummus and red pepper crackers and salsa and tortilla chips.

(1) Yoobi back-to-school pack (filled with fun back-to-school goodies)
I love when large companies give back, and Yoobi is an amazing example of just that. The bright and beautiful school supply company gives a product from their line to a school in need in the United States with every purchase you make. Spread the "one for you, one for me" love with Yoobi!

(1) Office Depot Foundation Sack Pack (filled with fun back-to-school goodies)
Another example of a company giving back: Office Depot and the Office Depot Foundation will give away 350,000 sack packs to children in need in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and numerous other countries this year. Kind of amazing, right?

So now here comes the fun part. Simply fill out the entries below in Rafflecopter, and I'll be drawing a winner on September 19th -- Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Please note, some items were sent to me to review in advance of this giveaway. All opinions expressed herein are my own.


big apple books: home grown books in brooklyn

Veering off in a slightly different direction this week -- instead of featuring a NYC-themed children's book, how about one MADE in NYC? I'm excited to help spread the word about Home Grown Books, a Brooklyn-based children's publishing company. Founded by reading specialist Kyla Ryman, Home Grown Books was conceived after Ryman spent years struggling to find high quality early reader books, and the result is a pretty special new company. Home Grown Books is dedicated to creating early reading content that is visually stimulating for the child while still engaging for mom and dad (and believe me when I say we thank you for that).

Home Grown's early reader books are perfect for us these days as Millie takes her first steps towards reading. The "City and Country" set, which we received, couldn't have been more perfect for us. I love that they were written by Kyla Ryman herself, and the illustrations, by artist Sara Woster, are so bright and vivid (I'm reminded of A SNOWY DAY, by Ezra Jack Keats, every time I pick one up). Lastly, I love the packaging. As you undo the box set, there are helpful hints and tips for early readers inside. 

Home Grown Books makes a special effort to  keep their eco-footprint as small as possible. Their entire printing process is green, meaning they use wind power, recycled paper and no-VOC vegetable inks in production, which are made in Brooklyn. I'm a big fan of shopping local, aren't you? When visiting their site, be sure to check out their resource page, which shares videos geared at guiding your child through the reading process. 

In addition to the early reading series and two new board books, their shop also offers a line of adorable stuffed animals (made of 100% Alpaca knit by a fair trade women's collective in Bolivia) and a wooden block and puzzle set, made in Vermont.

Stay tuned for my Back-to-School giveaway coming up soon -- I'll be giving one of Home Grown Books' early reader sets away to one lucky winner. Woohoo!

Disclaimer: While I received one complimentary early reading set to review, all opinions expressed are my own. 


potions & planting tea party at the mckittrick hotel

The last time I visited The McKittrick Hotel, Husband and I were on a date night to see "Sleep No More." This morning's visit was a decidedly different, but just as entertaining, visit with the girls. We attended a "Potions and Planting" tea party at the hotel's rooftop garden, the Gallow Green.

First off, like with Sleep No More, the attention to detail is just amazing. We were met by a doorman downstairs who very sweetly introduced himself to the girls' stuffed puppies, Rudy and Helmet (yes the names are for real) that they were encouraged to bring along with them. We took off in an elevator upstairs as the bellhop, carrying a large stuffed teddy himself, recited a poem about the magical time awaiting us.

It truly was; the rooftop itself is just gorgeous, and the tea party food was delicious (girls drank lemonade; mommy had prosecco). Along the way, Millie and Vivian got to help plant "beanstalk" seeds, listen to a magical story and make a special wishing potion that we brought home with us. If you have a child who is in to magic, fairies, princesses/knights and special potions (and aren't all little kiddies?) then they will have a ball. And yes, I had just as much fun as they did. We left with special embroidered bibs for their stuffed puppies and our own pot with magic seeds to plant at home. We'll see what grows... 

You have 2 more chances to attend a Potions and Planting tea party at the McKittrick Hotel (August 23rd & 30th) and advance reservations are required: #212.564.1662. I highly recommend it!

Disclaimer: While I was given press tickets to attend this event, all opinions expressed are my own. 
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