Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The New York International Gift Fair: The Cool Car Stuff Edition

I had a great day at the New York International Gift Fair, and while I pretty much was just scouring the place for duck photo-ops, I somehow managed to also see a lot of amazing products and to meet a lot of incredible people, many who were the company founders.

I'll be back to share all of these finds with you - from eco-friendly art kits to baby blankets that help orphaned kids, but today I'm getting started by sharing some of the fantastic car toys, which of course I want to get all of for my car-obsessed toddler.

I love this European Car Case from kidSTYLE:

I can just see Ziggy filling the case with his toy cars and pulling it around the house happy as can be.

Manny & Simon had gorgeous Made in the USA heirloom wooden cars:

And I love the idea of getting Ziggy the matching tee so he can coordinate with his car:
Tomorrow I'll be back with some more great things I saw at the show, or at least a collection of duck-themed gift photos.

You can see my picks for 10 Great Finds from the New York International Gift Fair at BaristaKids.com.

Monday, January 30, 2012

How to Make Heart Fried Potatoes in 22 Minutes

With Valentine's Day a mere two weeks away, I've been making lots of heart-y crafts with my kids. So it seemed only natural that I would want to make hearty-y food, too.

Here are easy directions for making insane adorable Heart Shaped Fried Potatoes.

1. Go to Pinterest and look at all the insane adorable foods people have carved, kabobed and baked in the shape of hearts and decide you too must do that.

2. Choose to make something with potatoes since you do not have any of the ingredients needed for the other insane adorable ideas, and are too damn lazy to go to the store to get them.

3. Find this amazing recipe for Roasted Potato Hearts and decide to make them for family breakfast.

4. Realize the recipe has too many steps and is way too difficult for someone who only has one iCarly (i.e., 22 minutes) to make the insane adorable heart potatoes and the rest of breakfast.

5. Decide to improvise own almost-as-good heart potato recipe by slicing two potatoes semi-thinly, and then using a cookie cutter to cut out insane adorable hearts from the potatoes.

6. Realize cutting out insane adorable hearts from the potatoes is taking forever (which is way longer than one iCarly episode) and switch to a larger heart shaped cookie cutter.

7. Cut out one insane adorable larger heart potato.

8. Accept that even with this major improvement to the insane adorable heart-cutting out process, it is still going to take longer than you are willing to spend cutting out insane adorable heart potatoes. Especially when you are but one mother with seven remaining minutes, and who still has to make the rest of breakfast.

9. Heat oil in a heavy skillet, and fry the pan-full of insane adorable potato hearts you have managed to cut-out in the preceding fifteen minutes of your life that you are never going to get back.

10. Flip the potato hearts, and serve on platter alongside other regular non-heart breakfast foods.

11. Listen to the kids happily exclaim that there are hearts for breakfast! and decide it really wasn't so much work after all.

12. Vow to make even more and better insane adorable heart food next time!

You can see more insane adorable heart shaped food on my Pinterest Board Heart Food for Valentine's Day.

I've also put all the photos together here, because the other recipes on Pinterest look like this, and I so want to fit-in.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What I'm Obsessing About on Sunday Night: Big Duckie and Pinterest

What have I done this week? I will be honest: I have done almost nothing besides obsessively pin photos of ducks to Pinterest.

Thank you to everyone who has emailed me duck photos to add to the Big Duckie Board!

Meanwhile, Big Duckie has also been pretty busy. My brother, sister-in-law and itty niece came over and Big Duckie insisted on joining their family portrait:

Then Big Duckie tried to play basketball (total fail):

And finally, exhausted Big Duckie collapsed into the first Big Duckie size chair he could find:

After a week spent indulging Big Duckie and my Pinterest habit, I'm hoping next week I'll have something else to talk about. Like my efforts towards creating world peace. And also, what foods can most easily be cut into heart shapes for Valentine's Day.

And you?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Old Photo Friday: Portrait of a Young Fashionista

That's me in the 1970s, at home in semi-rural Virginia. Clearly, I started developing my fashion sense early.

I found the photo as I was digging around for more duck photos for my Big Duckie board on Pinterest.

I haven't found any duck-themed pics yet, but I did find these nice one of my brother and me and our two pet geese.

Oh, what a different time it was.

I'll be posting old photos every Friday until I get bored or run out of material.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Day in the Life of Big Duckie

My daughter Kay - she's six - has a large stuffed animal duck. Quite creatively, she calls her Big Duckie. Big Duckie goes everywhere we go. And today I thought, why keep the joy that is a life lived with Big Duckie to myself? Let me share the love that is Big Duckie with you all.

Here's Big Duckie the day Kay liberated her from the toy store Corduroy Bear-style:

Kay is just a wee bit enthused.

We take Big Duckie on a victory lap around the toy store before leaving:

Then Kay insists Big Duckie must get buckled-in for the drive home:

Now Big Duckie lives a life of leisure. Lounging on the chaise:

Playing the piano (she really has an incredible ear, especially for a stuffed duck):

Going on trips to the grocery store, who doesn't love those tiny carts:

Next installment: Big Duckie plays with Squinkies and makes a duck tape necklace!

P.S. Big Duckie has her own Pinterest Board. I have no idea why.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What I'm Thinking About on Sunday Night: My First World Problems, Colossal Art and Dim Sum

What a couple of long weeks I've just had (admittedly in a first-world-problems sorta way).

It all began with my husband forgetting to leave out the water bottles on water delivery day.

Then, I dropped my computer and was forced to spend eleven days offline while it was repaired.

And as if all that was not already enough trauma to have to endure, my daughter Kay dropped a heavy piece of marble on her hand resulting in a nasty injury, but luckily no broken bones.

And yet, despite my smallness in complaining about all these things, I also got inspired by some big ideas on Colossal. I absolutely love this art installation made by kids and stickers.

I am so planning to do this at my house with my kids and a package of 300 circle labels.

Colossal also featured this amazing Toy Car Rainbow:

Which I am also so making with my son later this week, or at the latest the week after that.

We spent the better part of Saturday on Pinterest adding images to the board Car Stuff for My Kid. At age two, I might have created the youngest Pinterest addict. I'm not proud.

Magpie enjoying dim sum
I'm also trying to maximize eating my way through the Chinese New Year. If you'd like to do the same, here are six fantastic dim sum places in New Jersey, a review of Pacificana in Brooklyn, and five more to try in various cities. And of course, there's always Manhattan's Chinatown, where among the many great choices I maintain my loyalty to the Golden Unicorn

Actually, it's year 4709 - but whose counting?
And last, I leave you with a public service announcement: tomorrow is Blue Monday so don't feel bad if you're, uh, feeling bad.

Next week, I can tell you now, is going to be all about the Valentines. The Big V may still be three-and-a-half weeks away, but my kids are already working themselves into a frenzy of candy anticipation. Sweet.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Getting Crafty at DUANEreade with Dry Erase Crayons and Stickers

It's no secret that I love to do crafts with my kids. And while I have an ample stockpile of craft supplies at the ready at all times, I always want more. New stuff for projects of such scope that I may - or may not - ever complete them. But still, I like to at least plan to do them.

Right now, my current obsession is dry erase white boards. Specifically, DIY dry erase boards because it seems they are totally easy and fun to make - as evidenced by all these on my Pinterest Board, Cute and Clever Dry Erase Ideas.  I think I even already have everything I need to make these, but that doesn't mean I couldn't find a few extras to add on as well.

So on a recent afternoon when I was in Manhattan to pick-up my daughter from her overnight visit to grandma's place, I stopped by the newly renovated DUANEreade in Chelsea (8th Avenue between 17th and 18th Streets) to see what crafty additions they might have for my dry erase obsession, and just to browse around the store as I am loving checking out the new glam DUANEreade's and their fantastic beauty selections and other unexpected finds.

The Chelsea DUANEreade has a huge selection of food - you could easily do most if not all of your grocery shopping here from fresh fruit and frozen vegetables

to a divine selection of chocolate.

I took the escalator downstairs and to the craft area, where I found the most perfect, and essential, thing for any dry erase project: Dry Erase Crayons.

Because, yes, despite all of my thinking about the dry erase board project, I had managed to completely forgotten that one would need something with which to write upon the board.

And I also got these, 300 circle labels for just $1.29!

You may be thinking, what does she think she can do with 300 circle stickers? And the answer is I don't know exactly, but I was inspired by this amazing art installation:

Shouldn't be too hard to do something just like that at my house, right?

For tons more photos of my trip to Duane Reade, check out my Google+ Album.

For all the latest and greatest from Duane Reade, follow them on Twitter @DuaneReade and via the hashtag #DReade. You can also like them on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/DuaneReade).

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias, #CBias. The opinions, and the money spent, are my own.

NYC area blogger? Find out about Duane Reade's VIP Blogger Program.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My reluctant experiment in going offline

Almost two weeks ago I dropped my computer. I probably should've just bought a new one, but like so many others, I had a completely sick-fuck significant sentimental attachment to mine so I insisted on saving it. No matter what it took.

First, I hoped it just needed a little bit of TLC. Perhaps a new battery would be all it took. So there I was in the Batteries Plus store in a particularly dingy part of New Jersey buying a super-expensive top of the line battery and power cord for my best friend, confidant and business partner computer.
No luck. The situation was clearly more dire. The salesman gives me the advice to take my beloved companion computer to the Computer Doctor, which as it turns out is located in an even dingier part of New Jersey. But still, I was hopeful.

I hated to be parted for even one night, but the professionals at the Computer Doctor needed to keep the computer for observation, and repair. So I agreed. I wasn't sure how I would spend my time without my better-half computer, but somehow I managed.

And now, eleven days and a ridiculous number of dollars later, my favorite pal is back beside me on my couch.

Oh, how I've missed you.

And by you I totally mean all of you and not the you of my anthropomorphized computer, which I totally do not have a co-dependent relationship with. At all.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Handprint Crafts for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

I'll be honest, I didn't think Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was exactly full of handprint craft opportunities.

But I was wrong. There are tons of handprint crafts symbolizing unity, tolerance and all that handprint jazz.

Here's a great Handprint Unity Wreath from Handprint and Footprint Art:

Looking for more ideas? I pinned a bunch on a Pinterest board: Martin Luther King, Jr. handprint crafts.

And why yes, Pinterest is my newest addiction.  If you're there as well, let me know so I can follow you and your pins!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Glad I Made It: Q-Tip Snowflakes

My daughter Kay was home today with a hurt hand - an injury she received while crouching by the side of the ATM and invoking her favorite alternate persona, Baby Fish. Unfortunately for Kay Baby Fish, while crouched she nudged a big piece of marble that fell on her hand, er or would that actually be her fin?

Ironically enough, this all happened on the way to a well-patient visit to the pediatrician. But instead we came into the waiting room like it was an ER with Kay (Baby Fish had swam away by now) sobbing hysterically and her hand already swelled up to the size and color of a boxing glove.

Anyway, the hand still isn't quite right (although thankfully an x-ray revealed no break) so she stayed home today with me. 

As you may recall, last time she was home from school we made toothpick art:

Not to be outdone, today I brought out the Q-tips.

She made a bunch of cool designs:

and this awesome snowflake:

And while I will admit I sorta think she should've gone to school, as long as Kay Baby Fish was home, I'm glad we got to spend some time together and make these q-tip crafts.

For more fun snowflake crafts you can make with clever items like price tag stickers check out Simple & Striking Snowflake Crafts for Kids. And yes, you can learn how to make a handprint snowflake here.

Disclosure: Glad I Made It is a total rip-off of Glad I Saw It

Monday, January 9, 2012

Instructions for My Husband: Please leave the empty water bottles out on water delivery day

Please remember to leave the empty water bottles out for collection on water delivery day. Because if you don't leave them out, they don't get picked-up. And yet, the new water bottles are still delivered. And even though we are no longer living in our dollhouse-sized Manhattan apartment, unless you want to build a water bunker we still don't have room for all the old water bottles AND all the new water bottles (and me) to coexist happily in our suburban home.

It is especially important to remember to leave the empty water bottles on on days when your super-awesome wife somehow manages to remember herself and reminds you ever so nicely, "Dearest husband, please don't forget to leave the water bottles outside. After all, it is water day tomorrow."

And, it is especially, especially important to to leave the empty water bottles out when your sweet and lovely wife reminds you AGAIN "My beloved husband, just wanted to make sure you knew that today is the day the water guy comes."

And you say, "Don't worry. I got it."

Well, the empty bottles are still here. Along with their four new friends, the new, full water bottles.

And what really annoys me the most is that in addition to the insanely large stockpile of water bottles you insist we hoard at all the times, you have also written into our delivery order that four bottles must be left at all times, even if no bottles are returned. 

All this means that we are now going to have to live in a water bottle factory until the next delivery. Assuming, of course, that you remember to leave the empies out then. And that is really annoying.

So, please.... leave the water bottles out on delivery day. Especially when I remind you to do it, and y'know, "you got it."

This is the twenty-seventh instruction in my ongoing series of Instructions for My Husband.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Trip to DUANEreade and A Few Thoughts on Getting Organized in 2012

I am one of those people who tries really, really hard to be organized.

And yet, I am also one of those people who can never find a pen, or paper. And one of those people who always has to spend ten minutes searching for the sheet of paper that has the information about what time the school play is at.

But not this year!

This year, I'm going to be the person who has is totally organized. Or at least sorta organized.

But before I could take on my organizational plans, I had to get a haircut. Badly. So I took the train from scenic New Jersey to Manhattan and got there with enough time to spare that I had time to stop by one the new remodeled DUANEreade store in Herald Square (1350 Broadway, at 35th Street).

The Duane Reade had a great vibe, and I loved this wall of favorite New York things:

I also loved the store directory, not only so I could find my way around the store, but also because it has whole sections for "Apartment Living" and "What I Need." Exactly.

I headed upstairs (yes, it's two floors of shopping fun) to the office supplies section to see what might be there to help me get organized. There was an over-sized PlanAhead Monthly/Weekly Planner Calendar which was perfect for scheduling me, not to mention everyone else in my busy family.

I also got a box of  envelopes, which I'm going to use to keep all of my can't-lose important items, and then my super-organized self is going to tuck those envelopes into the appropriate week in my new fancy Planner.

And do you know what this all means? This means that when the next birthday party comes along - I'll be ready. And the kid's ongoing weekly lessons? The ones where I can never find a pen, or a check? I'll be ready for those, too. Because this afternoon I'm writing the lesson checks for the next few months, and then I'm putting all those checks inside the envelopes ahead of time for the lessons, and it will be one less thing to have to remember all the time.

I'm hoping these little changes will be just the beginning of a less frantic and way more organized year.

Other things making me happy on my visit to Herald Square? That Macy's still had their decorations and windows for the holidays, they are really spectacular.

I felt a little bad my kids weren't with me to enjoy them, too. But, oh well.

I left Herald Square and headed downtown just in time for my haircut with Rod at Soho Organics (192 Sixth Avenue).

Later that night when I got home, I got to work updating my calendar with recurring appointments and other upcoming dates.

It felt good to be organized. And yes, I know it's just a start.

Do you have organizational tips - please share, clearly I need all the help I can get!

For tons more photos of my trip to Duane Reade, check out my Google+ Album.

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias, #CBias. The opinions, and the money spent, are my own.

For all the latest and greatest from Duane Reade, follow them on Twitter @DuaneReade and via the hashtag #DReade. You can also like them on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/DuaneReade).

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