Saturday, February 26, 2011

Instructions for My Husband: An Accent Rug and a Bath Mat are not the Same Thing

I asked you to go to the store and get a bath mat for the bathrooom.

This is what you purchased:That is an accent rug, not a bath mat. While admittedly the two are very similar in size, they are in fact very different. The major difference is that an accent rug, like the one you purchased, has a non-waterproof backing. (I'm not even going to mention that the "soft faux fur" description is also usually a tip-off that something is not meant for a bathroom.)

A bath mat has a waterproof, most likely plastic, backing. Though this may seem like a minor detail, it is in fact an essential factor in making a bath mat... a bath mat. This waterproof backing is what enables a bath mat to function in the often damp, even wet, environment of a bathroom.

And yes, even if the area rug is displayed in the bath mat section, it's still not a bath mat.

This is my third instruction in my new series Instructions for My Husband. If you have an instruction you'd like to share, please email me at or leave a comment here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Gustafer Yellowgold's Infinity Sock at the DR2 Theatre!

The one-and-only creature from the sun, Gustafer Yellowgold, is going to be at the DR2 Theatre starting this Saturday, February 28. And even better... Gustafer will be there every Saturday at 11am and 1pm until April 2, when he leaves for a national tour.

For those who have not yet experienced the wonder that is Gustafer, get ready for the multi-media Gustafer Yellowgold experience, a show which enchants kids and grown-ups equally.

In the world premiere of the all-new Infinity Sock, Gustafer goes on a journey in search of the toe end of the longest sock in the universe. (Hmmm, is it going to be hiding in the dryer with my family's other missing socks?)

Tickets are $25/adults, $20/children under 12 and are available via Telecharge. All shows at the DR2 Theatre, located at 103 E. 15th Street (between Union Square East and Irving Place).

Shows are every Saturday from February 26 to April 2, 11am and 1pm.

*Special Offer* The first five people to let me know that they purchased tickets to see Gustafer Yellowgold's Infinity Sock at the DR2 Theatre will receive a personalized, hand-singed, screen printed Infinity Sock poster like the image above.

Just leave a comment here or email me at to make sure your poster is personalized and waiting for you at the show. 

You can also receive a discount on tickets to the DR2 Theatre show by singing-up for the Gustafer's newsletter at

Not near New York City? Infinity Sock is also available on video you can order here. I've watched it with my kids about infinity times. It is amazing. You will love it.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Gustafer Yellowgold's Infinity Sock video free for review.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Handprint Crafts for March - St. Patricks Day, Purim & the Spring Solstice

I really, really hope to love the month of March this year. After the winter we had in New Jersey, I'm more than ready for spring.

If you want to commemorate March coming in like a lion and out like a lamb, here's a cute handprint craft for making the animals from Little Fun; Little Learning:

Photo from Little Fun; Little Learning
March also brings St Patrick's Day on Thursday the 17th, that glorious day when everyone can be a little bit Irish (which I get to be all year-round thanks to my grandma from County Cork) There are no shortage of ideas for Handprint Shamrocks and Handprint Leprechauns online but my favorites are from By Stephanie Lynn who has fun projects including rice art and finger painting. She also has directions for great crafts exploring how to make different shades of green.

And of course, you can never go wrong with a handprint rainbow and the proverbial pot of gold.

Photo from

Friday, February 18, 2011

More great toys from the New York Toy Fair

I saw a completely overwhelming number of toys when I was at the New York Toy Fair. I'm still wading through photos and press kits, but I'd like to share a few more of my favorites from the Toy Fair. I've already sang my praises for the Brinca Dada dollhouses. Here are more glorious finds.

Madame Alexander's charming dolls based on the Little Golden Books, including Kay's beloved The Poky Little Puppy:

Available for pre-order, shipping in June 2011
Manhattan Toys is expanding its line of popular Groovy Girls, and now has this awesome retro/modern play kitchen and dishes:

as well as a Groovy Girl Chef with her own girl-sized kitchen.

I also really loved the newest innovations from HEXBUG, including a version that glows in the dark:

And a glow-in-the-dark Habitat Set for your HEXBUGs to battle it out in:

Since I believe that one day spring will be here despite the freezing cold snow-filled winter we've had, I love these eggs from Playmobil, which are an annual offering:

The always adorable Calico Critters has a sweet camping set, which I have a special fondness for since my daughters play endless hours of indoor camping despite having never been for-real outdoor camping. This summer I hope to finally take my kids camping... outside.
And speaking of summer, I love these clever beach buckets. It's hard to see in the photo but the yellow and green buckets are flexible plastic which means they can be squished and squashed into bottoms of strollers for trips to the playground or buried at the bottom of beach bags for trips to the shore with no pieces of broken plastic to worry about.

What toys did I miss at the Toy Fair? What other toys did you think were fantastic?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Best in Show at the New York Toy Fair... and at that other show, too

On Monday, I went to the New York Toy Fair. It was my first visit there, and it was an amazing experience for someone who loves toys as much as I do. I was only there for about six hours, so I didn't even come close to seeing everything. Next time, I'm definitely planning to spend way more time.

I was surprised to find how many great toys were there. Being a toy-snob, I thought I would instantly dismiss the bulk of the toys as too plastic, too commercial, or just too ugly for my Reggio sensibilities. Instead, I loved just about everything. (I also note that I was mostly in the aisles marked "Designer Art Toys" and "Earth-Friendly")

In true New York City style, the Toy Fair was not the only story of the day. My walk from Penn Station to the Javitz Center was one of the most fun of my life - all along the way I was walking with the beautiful, incredibly pampered contestants in the Westminster Dog Show, which was also taking place this Valentine's Day Monday. Seeing these incredibly outfitted and coiffed pooches out for a pre-show walk around town with their owners was a fantastic New York moment.

Thus inspired, I give you my Best in Show from the Toy Fair: Brinca Dada.

This year-old (they launched at Toy Fair 2010) Manhattan start-up with just a handful of employees, creates inspired - and inspiring - modern dollhouses that adults can love as much as kids.

Brinca Dada currently has one dollhouse on the market, Emerson House, as well as the accompanying furniture, with more coming in the spring.

I was particularly enamored of the prototype I saw for a house that folds down flat, as I'm such a stickler for keeping things neat at my minimalist home.

Can't you see the sleek Emerson dollhouse fitting in perfectly at my similarly totally spotless home?

And here is Emerson house furnished with all your mid-century modern favorites:

Also to love? The truly modern Modern Family who gets to live there:

I can only imagine Lucinda and Jane's jealousy of this family's incredible digs, not to mention how much Hunca Munca and Tom Thumb I'm sure wish they could live there, too.

And if you're wondering? Westminster's Best in Show was awarded to "GCH Foxcliffe Hickory Wind" a.k.a. "Hickory," a Scottish Deerhound. Congratulations.

Photo from

PS A longer post with the rest of the best at Toy Fair coming soon!

When the baby came home... a look back on Ziggy's year-and-a-half-birthday

Yesterday, my little guy turned 18-months-old. I don't usually go in for half-birthday demarcations, but for some reason this milestone made me go all poignant. Probably because Ziggy is possibly my last. But also because regardless of other babies he isn't a baby anymore, and I do like me a baby in the house. On the bright side? He can now play with all the 18-months+ toys! So bring on the celebrations!

It really does seem like just the other day we were coming home from the hospital (without a shred of Disney newborn marketing, my how times have changed).  I remember the day like it was yesterday:

And the conversations:
Magpie: Can we pet the baby now?
Mom: Sure, you can "pet" the baby.

Kay: Uh, Mom?
Mom: Yes, honey?
Kay: Um, why do you still look pregnant?

And Ziggy today?

Just another man on his cell phone running for the train, late for the office again...

How time just flies...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Magpie goes to her first basketball game! Go Rutgers!

Twitter, the gift that keeps on giving. First, I won Pee-wee Herman tickets. And then, I won two tickets to the Rutgers Women's Basketball game against Syracuse from

The Rutgers tickets were perfect because they were for last Sunday's game, and I had hoped something super-fun was going to drop out of the sky (or in this case, the Internet) because my daughter Kay had a friend coming over and I just didn't see a lot of harmony going on between those two and Magpie. Also, at the ancient age of seven, I felt Magpie was well over-due for a basketball outing, and I had heard the college women's games were just perfect because you can sit really close to the court and see all the action.

Of course, my husband jumped at the chance to take Magpie. I'm sure this is because he had been secretly yearning for a special father-daughter outing, and had absolutely nothing to do with avoiding the alternative activity - supervising two five-year-olds and a toddler. Whatever the motivations, they had a blast at the game. I highly recommend catching a college basketball game with your kids, the tickets aren't very expensive (ranges from $10 for general admission up to $30 for reserved court side) and you may even be there on a fun giveaway day like ours:

In addition to watching the actual basketball game:

Magpie was the first to admit she also loved the cheerleaders:

And of course, the team's mascot, the Scarlet Knight:

The Rutgers regular season ends on Monday, February 28, with a 7pm game at Seton Hall in South Orange, NJ which I'm can only imagine is a big deal.

All photos taken by Magpie with her very own camera that she really wishes I would stop borrowing whenever I forget to charge my own.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day! Google and I think alike...

With LOVE from New York City
Above: My Valentine's Greeting
Below: Google's Valentine's Greeting

Happy Vintage Postcard Valentine's Day!

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that one of my women's suffrage (actually, anti-suffrage) postcards had St. Valentine's Greetings written in tiny print in the corner.

This Valentines Day postcard got me wondering if there were also other ones with a holiday greeting. And if so, why?

A quick online search revealed that postcards were often used as greeting cards back in the early 1900s.  Without email (the horror) or widespread phones even, greeting cards and postcards were one of the most effective ways to get the word out about your favorite cause, which for many was for or against women's suffrage.

Here are a few of my favorite suffrage, anti-suffrage, and vintage feminist Valentine's Day cards:

Image from

Image from Femulate

Image from the Postcard Museum

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Groupon and You (and Me)

I'm fascinated by the Groupon controversy, although to be honest I don't have strong feelings about whether Groupon's Super Bowl ads were particularly offensive or not. What fascinates me is why an ad seems to bug the hell out of a lot of people, even though I can think of about a million other global issues - including the actual atrocities in Tibet - that are about a billion times more pressing, and nobody (including me) seems to care about those at all. But an insensitive ad? Sure, we're willing to focus endless energy there.

The Groupon Super Bowl ads, or the unfortunate Kenneth Cole tweet that likened Egyptian protesters to fashion-crazed shoppers, seem to really catch in the collective conscience. Suddenly, the same people (including me) who are too apathetic to even read a news article that dares to delve deeper than a tweet, are suddenly all to happy to skewer Groupon as if their ads, tasteless or not, were the worst thing ever. For me, it just doesn't make sense. The outrage is out of proportion to the crime.

I thank God yet again for creating Twitter, because there Scott Henderson (@scottyhendo) pointed me towards socio-cultural etiologist Jason Moriber's (@jasonmoriber) thoughtful piece about these controversies in It's not Kenneth Cole. I'm the Problem. My Finger Points Back at Me.

I urge you to read it. And don't worry, it isn't any longer than this blog post.

Postscript: Groupon has pulled the controversial Super Bowl ads. Phew. Now everyone can sleep easy tonight!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Is Twitter the New Blog?

I'm over at the Jersey Moms Blog today discussing my ever-growing fascination with The Twitter.

Also, I'm considering transferring my obsessive-online-compulsions over to Quora. Any one been there, done that and know whether I should too?

PS If you're on Twitter follow me @RandomHandprint! I follow back!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Instructions for My Husband: The Fashion Week Edition

In honor of Fashion Week, I'm going to give my beloved husband a sartorial tip: front pleats on pants are no longer fashionable. And even if you wanted to argue a finer point that perhaps there were a few examples where a front pleat was acceptable, they are 100% never allowed on a pair of light khaki pants. Or shorts. Ever.
And while we're at it, you can't wear dark socks with light pants. I'm serious about this. You really can't. Ever.

But don't take my word for it - take everyone else's. Are front pleats in fashion? And what about the light pants/dark socks? If I'm wrong I will (grudgingly) accept it and proclaim my husband the family's new Chief of the Fashion Police!

The nice image above comes from Fashion for Men.  I'm glad they there were able to provide a helpful graphic to help demystify the pleats debate.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Views from a New York City Apartment

Today is my mother's birthday. I had prepared a heartfelt progression of photos of her through the years, but she nixed it. So instead, I offer a heartfelt progression of views from her Manhattan apartments. Like any New Yorker, she knows real estate is the true measure of a person's worth.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

NY400 Holland on the Hudson, September 10, 2009 (Battery Park City

Tribute in Light, September 11, 2010 (Battery Park City)

January 13, 2011 Fireworks in celebration of 3 'Queen' Ships (Battery Park City)

Statue of Liberty, February 6, 2011 (Battery Park City)

Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge, 2005 (Upper West Side)

Construction and New Jersey, 2007 (Midtown)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

New York Theatre Ballet Presents Hour Long "Cinderella" February 12-13

Next weekend, Saturday, February 12, and Sunday, February 13, New York Theatre Ballet presents Cinderella, made for preschoolers in a perfect-for-kids sized one hour performance.

Performances are at 11am and 1pm, with an additional 3:30 performance on Sunday.

All performances are at the Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street (between Madison and Park Avenues), and dangerously close to FAO Schwartz (East 55th Street and Fifth Avenue).

Tickets are $35 for kids and $40 for adults, and are available online at, from Ticketmaster (800-982-2787) or the box office at 212-355-6160.   

Cinderella is the second ballet in New York Theatre Ballet’s Once Upon A Ballet series, which continues with Exquisite Little Ballets featuring dances by Agnes de Mille, Lotte Goslar, and Antony Tudor (April 9 and 10), and Sleeping Beauty (May 14 and 15). Subscriptions to three ballets are still available for $87 per child; $108 per adult. Visit for more information.

I received two tickets to Cinderella  from New York Theatre Ballet for review purposes.  I am looking forward to attending with my little ballerina, who is five-years-old.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Flairies: Dolls so bad they make Barbie look good

Kay and Magpie recently got two Flairies as a gift from their Aunt And Uncle. For those of you who are not familiar wtih Flairies, here's their back story straight from the Toys R Us website:

Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale Fashion Fairies Dolls: From the new movie, Barbie A Fashion Fairytale, we welcome three magical fashion Flairies: Shim'r, Glim'r and Shyn'e. Each Flairie has her own distinct personality and shows off the latest trends of glitter-encrusted bodies, detailed fashions and sparkling hairdos.
And if that description doesn't have you cringing already, check out the photo:
I know that Barbie is not the ideal role-model for young girls, but compared to a Flairie (and why isn't it spelled Flairy?) she's wearing mom-jeans and practical shoes while spending her spare time at the local library.

I'm not really sure what marketing genius thought that a children's doll needed such a short skirt paired with ridiculously high heels, but even that I would forgive if the Flairies looked like they had limbs that actually functioned. 

Still, I thank the Flairies for one thing, and one thing only: I am suddenly grateful for every second my daughters spend playing with their assorted Barbie and Polly Pocket dolls. They no longer seem so bad.

Am I alone here? Are the flairies not as awful as I think?

Despite my comments, I am very grateful my brother-in-law and sister-in-law were nice enough to give these dolls to my kids. They are very lucky in the aunt and uncle department, even if not one of them follows the trend of glitter-encrusted bodies.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Valentine's Day - Celebrate with Fun Cards, Cute Handprint Crafts and Rose Scented Cupcakes!

Valentine's Day will be here in just a few days, which makes this the perfect time for making cards, doing handprint crafts with kids, and eating yummy cupcakes.

I just found a terrific design/kids/all-around-awesome blog Small For Big, which has several options for Valentine's Day cards you can make yourself:
And as always, if you are here from doing an Internet search for Handprint Crafts for Valentines Day, here are the best ones I've seen on my online wanderings:
  • Kaboose shows how to make a Valentine Handprint Wall Hanging which is so cute it melts my cold anti-valentine heart. The hearts are made from painting the sides of the child's hands, and then having them press down on the paper with their little fists.
Photo from
  • Crafts-for-all-seasons has a whole tab of Valentine's Day Crafts, including some very sweet Handprint Valentines.  This craft creates the heart with the thumb and second finger of both hands, resulting in a very nice-and-a-little-bit-offbeat-too design.
  • Photo from
  • The Crafty Crow, which is always filled with incredible creations, has a round-up of 10 Valentine Crafts! My favorite is the Heart-in-hand pillow from A Little Great.  You clearly need to be a little great yourself to make this, but the directions are so good, it makes even a not-so-crafty mom like myself think I could pull it off.  And it really would be so, so nice to enjoy all-year-round.
Photo from
And last, if handprint crafts aren't your thing, but baking is, one of my favorite blogs If You Can Make That You Can Make This has an amazing recipe for Rose Scented Cupcakes. We made them with the addition of India Tree Sparkling Sugar, and they were truly a beautiful treat. (Especially when you pair with Rose Pink Champagne for those of us in the over-21 category.)

Photo from

Do you have big plans for Valentine's Day?
However you celebrate, Happy Valentines Day!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year! Happy Year of the Rabbit!

Photo by Choo Yut Shing via Flicker
 I've always loved Chinese New Year, even if I am just an on-the-surface observer. I like the extra-good food that comes out at Dim Sum, the dragon parades in the streets, and the happiness mixed with mayhem in the air. I also really like the shiny red envelopes and other decorations, though again, I am the first to admit I don't know much about the meaning and traditions behind them.

One of the great things about having kids is celebrating holidays with them. Because the same energy that makes kids the least good of companions on house-bound snow days makes them the best folks in the world to enjoy any and all holidays.

So when Chinese (or Lunar) New Year comes tomorrow, my kids and me are all about celebrating, even if I don't really know the first thing about how it is properly celebrated. (We had our New Year back in September.)

This is how these Jersey Jews are celebrating the Year of the Rabbit:

Making Pomelo Sea Breezes and Spicy Beef Lettuce Wraps using recipes from one of my favorite sites, If You Can Make That, You Can Make This 

Reading Cat and Rat: The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac by Ed Young

Going to one of the great events in Chinatown that run through the weekend.

Giving the kids these fabulous red envelopes with a little money inside to ensure this will be a prosperous year for them:
And last, my big brother LESster has picked this auspicious date to vacate his bachelor digs, leaving after a decade of living just steps from the heart of Chinatown. Good luck in the new year in your new place. Manhattan's loss is Brooklyn's gain.

Family one last time in the old neighborhood.
Happy 4708 everyone, however you celebrate!

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