Big Apple Books: Mimi's Adventures in Baking

... New York Style Pizza!

There really is nothing like it, and for a lot of people, the tasty food is one of the first things that comes to mind when you say NYC. Pastry chef & author Alyssa Gangeri agrees, and has created Mimi's Adventures in Baking New York Style Pizza as a loving tribute to one of her favorite foods.

In this book, Mimi discovers all the Big Apple has to offer in addition to yummy pizza, and she even shares a recipe for homemade pizza sauce and dough (insider tip: we tried it & it's delicious - the fresh basil was our favorite part)!

I loved reading this book with the girls, then making pizza together afterwards, which is an easy way to get kids involved in the kitchen while seeing a project through from start to (yummy) finish. Check out some of Mimi's other baking adventures HERE - a great series for little foodies!


Staying Safe with Wipeout Dry Erase Protective Gear (& a giveaway!)

I think we can finally say that warmer weather is here to stay. Hurrah! As a result, we've been spending as much time outdoors as possible. We live across the street from a beautiful park, so there's plenty of room for the girls to explore on their scooters or bikes (and while there's still a learning curve on the whole riding a bike thing, we're getting there)!

With this increased time spent on wheels, it's as good a time as ever to stress the importance of scooter & bike safety by wearing a helmet and protective gear. May is National Bike Month, and it's the perfect time to increase awareness about the health and environmental benefits of bike riding. And oh yeah, it's FUN!

I've partnered with Wipeout Dry Erase Protective Gear to remind everyone that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injury by an estimated 60% and brain injury by 58%. Wipeout gear sets itself apart by allowing each child to personalize their own helmet and knee pads with provided dry erase markers and stencils. Kids get to decorate everything themselves, promoting ownership and increasing the likelihood that they'll wear their helmet with ease (not to mention the comfort factor; Wipeout's helmets are cushioned on the inside yet built with ABS hard-shell construction for durability).

Feel free to get creative on your own, or see some of Wipeout's creative tutorials HERE. The caterpillar design is my favorite! Along with scooting and biking all over the place, I see roller skates in our future, too. Wipeout's knee pads, helmet and wrist guards will continue to be used for years to come. Here's to mixing safety with artistic creativity -- I love it!


Now here's some fun news. Wipeout is conducting a giveaway for one helmet and accessory kit! See Rafflecopter instructions below, and good luck!

Disclosure: I was provided with product and compensation to conduct this review. All opinions herein are my own.


Summer Camp Profile: Play On Studios (& a discount!)

Summer camp. Two words that strike fear in the throats (and pockets) of many a parent this time of year. Yes, there are many options out there, but finding the right fit for your child, one that's entertaining, affordable, welcoming, conveniently located & offers the right hours to fit your schedule, etc, etc, etc... well, a program that meets all of those qualifications can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Yes, that much fun.

But never fear! I'll be profiling several camps over the next few weeks in an attempt to highlight some new programs as well as hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. They all get the Baby Meets City seal of approval and will include DISCOUNTS to boot. Hurrah!

First up, Play On Studios. Millie went to one of their demo classes in the fall and is so excited about attending summer camp! With locations on the Upper West Side & Lower Manhattan, this dynamic program runs all year long with music lessons & theater classes offered after school and on weekends. But during summer vacation, it's all about CAMP. Let's break it down.


For grades K-4, Play On Studios offers Creative Drama camp at 2 locations:

Ballet Hispanico (167 West 89th Street between Columbus & Amsterdam)
Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew (263 West 86th Street between Broadway & West End Avenue)

Hours:  9-3pm (4pm on Fridays, which includes a special camp performance). Extended day & early drop off is also available -- see website for those details.
Dates:   June 19th-Sept. 1st with the exception of July 4th week
Cost:    $525/week (see bottom for discount!)
Campers must bring their own lunch & snack.

The skinny on Creative Drama:

"Our most popular class emphasizes the creativity, enjoyment, and personal growth of each child. Through drama games, movement, music, and vocal exercises, kids will explore self-expression and gain confidence. A final showcase in front of family and friends creates a comfortable and exciting opportunity to experience another important aspect of theater: performance!"

For grades 4-9, Play On steps things up a notch, offering "Musical Theater Performance" & "Musical Theater Revue" at a single location:

Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew (263 West 86th Street between Broadway & West End Avenue)

Hours:  9:30-4pm (flexible drop off btwn 9-9:30am)

Dates:   Musical Theater Performance: July 5th-28th
             Musical Theater Revue: July 31st- Aug. 11th and Aug. 14th-25th 

Cost:    $2500 (Musical Theater Performance) & $1200 (Musical Theater Revue) - see bottom for discount!
Campers must bring their own lunch & snack.

The skinny on Musical Theater Performance:

Put on a complete musical production in a professional NYC theater! Campers will stretch their skills with drama exercises and games, vocal coaching, field trips (including a Broadway show!), and building a professional set. Our incredible teaching artists and campers come together to put on a truly remarkable show! Additional activities often include scene-writing, film-making, Shakespeare, creating choreography, and more!

& Musical Theater Revue:

Using a different, inspiring Broadway theme each session, campers will explore solos, monologues, scenes, and full musical numbers. This flexible format allows us to create a very personal experience for our campers, helping them to grow and take on specific challenges. For example, campers looking to prepare for middle school, high school, or professional auditions will have opportunities to start work on appropriate monologues and solo songs. We'll show off our new skills at a final Friday performance!


For grades K-4, Play On! Studios offers Creative Drama camp at Pine Street School (25 Pine Street btwn William & Nassau)

Hours:  9-3pm (4pm on Fridays, which includes a special camp performance). Extended day & early drop off is also available -- see website for those details.
Dates:   3 weeks only, July 10th-28th
Cost:    $600/week (see bottom for discount!)
Campers must bring their own lunch & snack.

Last but not least, I'm thrilled to help highlight Play On! Studios, perfect for your theater-loving kid. 

Please use code BMC50 and receive $50 off any of their camp weeks!

Disclosure: We are receiving a week of camp in exchange for this review & promotion. All opinions herein are my own.


Raising Awareness with Moms+SocialGood

Yesterday marked the 5th anniversary of Moms+SocialGood, presented by the United Nations Foundation and Johnson & Johnson. It's an event I always try to attend, as I know it's bound to be informative, inspiring and best of all, a reminder that blogging and social media can be a force for good in the world.

With moms and their families at the center of the conversation, the day was broken down into panels with experts and advocates, eager to share their ideas, inspire action and tackle some of the world's most critical challenges facing families around the world.

Here's a few of the key takeaways from my day (unfortunately I had to miss the last 2 panels as it was school pick up time... mom duty calls!):

Save the Children has a great new giving program which aims to fight child hunger in East Africa, where nearly 20 million lives are currently at risk. By skipping lunch & photographing your empty plate with #LUNCHLESS, you're spreading the word about this horrific issue. Then, text LUNCHLESS to 20222 and donate $10 (your lunch money) to help those in need through Save the Children. Finally, tag your friends and family in your photo to join in!

Another panel that really got to me was on the "unseen enemy" known as the flu. Yes, the flu. I don't think I'll ever take it lightly again after hearing the stories of two mothers who lost their daughters, one a teenager and the other, a toddler, right here in the US. A need for more research, awareness and the case for immunizations was discussed. The moderator, Janet Tobias, just directed a documentary of the same name, Unseen Enemy, which will air on CNN Films soon. I'll be checking it out.

Want to get involved from the comfort of you very own phone? From May 3- June 16, you can participate in the Global Moms Relay, a digital campaign with Johnson & Johnson. Use the Donate A Photo app and J&J will donate $1 (up to $500,000) when you upload of photo to a variety of causes highlighted by Moms+SocialGood, including GirlUp, empowering girls around the world, and Nothing But Nets, which provides nets to malaria-prevalent areas in Africa. I downloaded and selected an app in about 1 minute-- seriously!

Blogging and social media can sometimes be a frivolous, silly business, honestly. So happy to be able to use it to amplify the work of some amazing individuals and organizations that are doing their part to give back around the globe, as well as here at home. Check out Moms+SocialGood & the Global Moms Relay to find out more.


Spring Has Finally Sprung in NYC

I think I heard a collective sigh of relief across the city this week. Winter, once again, stretched on wayyyy too long, so this first peek of warmer temperatures and sunny skies is especially wonderful. Lucky for us, it coincided perfectly with NYC public school kids' spring break; perfect timing for those of us stay-cationing this year. Here's a peek of what we've been up to...

First, Gulliver's Gate! This miniature exhibit in Times Square is really a site to behold... "attention to detail" doesn't even begin to cover it. Of course, we loved their replica of NYC, but you can check out the rest of the world, from major cities like Paris and Rio to everywhere in between.

Some of the displays are interactive. Push buttons along the way and see a concert stage light up, a train roll by or a matador and bull fight in Spain, with crowds cheering. When you're wrapping things up, step into a futuristic-looking photo booth and have your photo taken. Then, if you want, you can have a miniature of yourself made and shipped to you (at an additional cost). A fun, unique experience, albeit pricey (tickets are $25/pp & will go up after May 8th, so check it out beforehand)! Definitely not for under age 5.

While we definitely enjoyed some lounging around in our local park and playground, we also checked out by Chloe for lunch (yummy!), the "Toiletpaper Paradise" art installation at Cadillac House (wacky, defined), murals in Soho, mini golf at Pier 25 in Hudson River Park and soft serv dessert at Big Gay Ice Cream. Really fun week!


A 20th Anniversary Celebration: The Teletubbies take NYC!

Of the many things that make me feel old these days, hearing that the Teletubbies were celebrating the 20th anniversary of their show was certainly one of them! Launched in 1997, the Teletubbies quickly became a global phenomenon as they promoted sharing, caring and learning with laughter. The show has aired in more than 125 territories and across 45 languages, and was, most notably, the first TV character brand specifically geared towards children as young as 6 months to aid in learning and development.

To mark the occasion, a few blogger friends and I had a chance to celebrate with the Teletubbies during 2 days of adventures here in NYC. On a dreary Monday morning, we caravanned with the Teletubbies around the city as they visited 4 iconic NYC locations (Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Flatiron Building, Times Square and Central Park). Without a doubt, the cuddly quartet perked up a gloomy day with their trademarked Big Hugs as people passed by. Take a peek at some of the photos I took along the way:

I have to say, it was really amusing to see how many people got SO excited about seeing the Teletubbies -- and not just children! Many adults came up to give them a hug and said how seeing them really brought back so many happy memories. We met one family visiting from England in Central Park, and I honestly think the mother was the most excited of all of them! Really cute.

Luckily for everyone, the celebration wasn't over! The very next day, the Teletubbies celebrated with all their friends at a very special anniversary party at Chelsea Piers, complete with a preview of the all-new Teletubbies series' 2nd season on Nick Jr. In addition to yummy eats, guests were treated to face painting, video games, arts-n-crafts and bubble magic. Such a fun afternoon!

Come along as I share some photos from the party, which was attended by tons of Teletubbies fans, young and old alike.

As mentioned, for those reminiscing about the Teletubbies or looking to introduce the four lovable characters to their children, there's exciting news: they're coming back for a new season beginning May 30th on Nick JrHere's to nostalgia, introducing classic TV to a new audience and Big Hugs, Teletubbies-style. Happy 20th Anniversary!

Disclosure: I was compensated for event attendance & promotion on blog + social media. All opinions are my own.


A Morning in Brooklyn with Vicks® VapoRub™

A few Saturdays ago, I spent the morning at Recess Dumbo -- such a great kids' play space! -- with Vicks® VapoRub™. Fellow influencers and I learned about how we can best fight sickness this time of year (and if your house is anything like mine, this is vital information). My family and I suffered a ton with coughs and colds this winter. UGH.

Image: Andrea Klerides 

First, we all know that washing our hands multiple times throughout the day is important, but it can be a challenge to get our kids to wash as thoroughly as they should (or maybe that's just my kids!) One tip suggested by the speaker (a pediatric nurse), was to have your child sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" while they wash. By the time they get to the end of the song (about 27 seconds or so), they'll have washed an appropriate amount of time to rid themselves of germs, which as we know, are EVERYWHERE. I thought that was a great suggestion! 

Image: Andrea Klerides
Vicks® VapoRub™ is also an important step in soothing coughs all year long, frankly - summer colds are the worst! The topical ointment with medicated vapors is appropriate for ages 2+ and the vapors last up to 8 hours. I've found the perfect time to administer it is right before bedtime, as the soothing action of rubbing the ointment on your child's chest area is a nice way to calm them down before it's time to sleep. The scent itself is refreshing and calming, and honestly it takes me back to my own childhood when my mother would rub it on my chest during a coughing fit! Life has a way of coming full circle, right?

Thanks to Vicks® VapoRub™ for hosting such an informative morning! Coughs & colds, you don't have anything on me. I'll be ready the next time you infiltrate my home (which given our luck and with two children in school, should be in about a week). At least this time I'll be prepared.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by SheKnows Media for the purposes of event attendance and review. All opinions are my own.
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