For the past year or so, I have had my daughter make a card for everyone’s birthday– much more personal than a store-bought card! But, on occasion, I’ll have to admit that it was a bit like pulling teeth — sometimes she was just not in the mood for art when I needed a card to mail. This is why I was tickled to discover Print Art Kids– they turn your kids artwork (or photos) into all sorts of practical things- notecards, labels, notepads, and more. My daughter labored over a very special birthday card, I uploaded it to Print Art Kids site, added a border, and voila! I have a bunch of great birthday cards, designed by my daughter. She was so proud to see her design duplicated, and now I have a stash of ready made cards. Now we’ll have to get to work on our holiday card design….
We are getting ready to move. Again. The third time this year. Phew! All I can say is that my kids have been great, and nothing entertains them more than playing with cardboard boxes. On our first move, from Paris to DC, my then 3½-year-old spent hours using rolls of colorful electrical tape to decorate the boxes with her stuff in them. This time around, both my daughters are having loads of fun playing in the boxes — playing peek-a-boo, house, you name it, they play it. It keeps them both entertained, and it doesn’t cost a thing!
For this theme week, I thought I’d do a quick look around the web to see if there were other inspiring projects to do with boxes… here is what I found:
– Talkingchild.com: how to make a puzzle, a doll house, and a dragon out of smaller (shoe box sized) boxes.
– Enchantedlearning.com: how to make a barn for toy animals.
– Marthastewart.com: directions for making a cardboard box oven.
– Indestructables.com: directions for a puppet theater.
– Mylittlehouse.com: offers a pre-made house, that you can decorate as you desire (pictured).
You’ve guessed it– I am moving back to Paris this fall. And while I’d much rather be blogging for Babyccino than packing up endless boxes, the move is quickly approaching… So there will be a few more posts from DC and then I am off. Thanks to all the readers for your great comments about my posts and an extra big THANKS to the Babyccino girls for having me as a blogger– it has been great fun, and I’ll be sure to keep up with you all! In the meantime, keep in touch with me via my website and blog (which will soon be updated!), www.chicshoppingparis.com.
PS- The great prints above are part of the City Love prints series by Artsharkdesign on Etsy. Check them out!
After I’d been living on Capitol Hill a while, I noticed this fun looking new restaurant, Goodstuff Eatery, and was amused by the name….and then I read about it in all the local papers– it is run by a local celeb chef, Spike Mendelsohn [famous from Top Chef, one of my fave reality shows], and made even more famous when Michelle Obama decided to eat there one night with friends. So we took the kids, ordered up some gourmet burgers and super rich milkshakes and had an all-American meal. Yum. Specialties include burgers with applewood bacon and cripsy Vidalia onion, a free-range turkey burger, and handspun shakes with flavors like toasted marshmallow and very berry. Just writing about this is making me think we might have to venture back to our old ‘hood to have another meal there sometime soon….303 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, Washington, DC.
Having lived in Paris for 7 years, I got used to having croissants for breakfast– weekends only, really, as who can eat them every day without gaining a ton of weight? Anyway, that was one of the big things our family missed when we moved to DC — especially my 4-year-old! So I was thrilled to (re)discover Patisserie Poupon, in upper Georgetown. An authentic French bakery — you can have a number of French baked goods, pastries, etc., or go for a little brioche sandwich, a lovely salad nicoise, all chased down by a real espresso. There is even a tiny, quaint terrace tucked in the back, and if one concentrates really hard, you can pretend you are in Paris, all for the price of a croissant and cafe creme.
1645 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC.
I have to say I was a bit shocked when my 4-year-old pointed to herself during bathtime and asked, “What is this for?” I, slightly stunned, replied “That is where babies come out when you are a Mama. I’ll tell you more about it later.” I was proud of myself for not freezing up, but still didn’t know exactly how much information should be shared with a preschooler. So I researched a bit and found this great book– Amazing You!: Getting Smart About Your Private Parts. It discusses all the basic anatomy issues for both genders and then goes on to explain how babies are made and where they come from– not in too much detail, but just enough. Phew! It seems like something my daughter will understand better in a year or so, but I am happy to have it at the ready when need be.
I also picked up a book for parents on educating your children about sexuality (From Diapers to Dating: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Children), which has proven to be quite useful as well. So far (I’m not finished with it yet) I’ve learned that it is not about the Big Talk, but about having answers to the questions your children bring up as they come along. As we all dread the birds & the bees lecture, I’m happy to learn about some tools to educate my children without it as the need arises.
Panna Cotta is one of those easy, but elegant desserts I like to make when I have guests over. For some reason, I usually don’t think of it as a summer dessert, but my mother-in-law served it a few days ago and it was fresh, light, and super summery after all. I owe credit for my recipe to my sister, Katie, who got this version from her cooking professor one summer in Florence.
Panna Cotta: (8 servings)
-4 cups whipping cream, or half milk/half cream (950ml)
-½ cup sugar (60 grams)
-2 T vanilla (or insides of one vanilla bean)
-2 packages knox gelatin (or 4 sheets of sheet gelatin) (more…)
I’ve just returned from a vacation in Paris, and realized how much stuff you need when you have a baby! With my older daughter already 4 years old, I’d forgotten about all the gear one needs for a little one when traveling. And in France, there are two baby essentials that are often lacking in public places: a changing table and highchairs. The changing table you can get away with, making do with a park bench or even changing a diaper discreetly in the stroller. But what to do without a high chair? I tried the first few days feeding my 8-month-old in her stroller, which was a disaster– she had orange puree all over herself and all over the stroller. Ick. Then I remembered seeing the Sack N Seat in a shop and ran out to get one! (I got mine at Monoprix in Paris.) The Sack n Seat is a great portable high chair option– it fits over almost any chair, straps your baby in securely, and then folds up teeny tiny to stash away. That way, baby C was happy as could be to “finger paint” with her lunch all over the cafe table, and not on her stroller! (If you look on the Sack n Seat website, they have a whole list of where to buy the product in countries all over.)
As I contemplate the terrible task of packing for summer vacation, I’m making a mental checklist of all the baby necessities I’ll need to bring. One on the top on my list is my Diapees & Wipees case. I’ve had this thing for years now, and it has served me well– it holds a few diapers & a small pack of wipes. I’ve also managed to squeeze in a baggie or two for extra dirty diaper disposal and even an extra onesie for the inevitable accident, along with a disposable changing pad. Everything fits in a neat, cute, package — you have got to love the Eiffel Tower toile! (Other great fabrics are available too.) The case envelope is so compact that you can stash it easily in your purse and ditch the diaper bag. And it is great when you travel– leave hubby with the luggage, grab your Diapees & Wipees and make a quick trip to the bathroom. My daughter loves to play with it and gnaw on it when she is getting her diaper changed. If you check out the website, there is a whole list of international resellers for this super-handy mom-invented product.
My daughter has gone through all the typically girly phases between 3 and 4 years old– first ballerina, then princess, and now mermaid obsessions. In a quest to come up with something other than more dress-up clothes for her birthday, I came across this: Mudpuppy Magnet Figures. They are truly adorable — great illustrations, tons of magnets (not like some of the skimpy magnet sets I’ve had in the past), all in a great carry case. The website says for ages 6+, but my daughter, who is just 4, has no problem with them. The sets range from ballerina and princess kits to the cheeky “city girls” and on to monsters and robots for the boys. I’m thrilled because they are a creative plaything that is also easily portable — great for upcoming summer vacations, no? They offer international shipping too — just email them for a quote.
I’m usually a fashion magazine reader, but lately I’ve been tempted (while stuck in line at the checkout) to grab the mags that promise easy weeknight dinners or dresses that make you look thinner, like plenty of hurried moms out there. My latest purchase was the July issue of O Magazine, in which I’ve discovered a very interesting article on shopping. I consider myself a bit of a shopping expert, or shopaholic at the least, and I’ve even managed to make a career out of it with my shopping tours in Paris. (When I was 2, someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I answered, “A shopper like my Mommy!”)
And this article, entitled 6 Common Shopping Traps, proves what I’ve known all along– shopping does something to the brain to make you feel better! That is, in some individuals, anyway — it seems that “feel good” parts of the brain are activated when they shop, and others have strong reactions in the pain centers in the brain. Think I can convince my husband that shopping is actually making me healthy? Check out the article for more info and other tips on how not to overspend. Thanks, Oprah!
I’d read about trendy kid’s shop Giggle a few times (most notably in Cookie magazine), and finally had the chance to check it out this week. I have to say, it lives up to its expectations of being a well-edited, fun, bright kid’s shop. The boutique stocks all the trendy brands, with a slant towards great design and colors that pop. It’s a great place to outfit a modern nursery or pick up a sure-to-please gift. After all, who can resist something from a shop with a name that brings a grin to your face?
I’ve just discovered this cute brand of clothing by the label tea. My daughter is really into what she calls “comfy” clothing, so I’m often on the lookout for knitwear that looks girly and cute, and not too sporty. This brand delivers just that — interesting prints, and mix-and-match styles, often with an Asian influence. You can even buy little sets of clothing (pictured), great for those kids who want to dress themselves and keep you happy by not looking like they got dressed in the dark! They have lines for babies, girls and boys, and a neat “little citizens” collection, with part of the proceeds going to the Global Fund for Children.
When I had my first daughter, my mother pulled out several of my childhood books to give me. I instantly recognized the quaint, ’70s-ish illustrations of one of them, Mother Goose, by Gyo Fujikawa, and am so excited to share this one with my girls. When researching Fujikawa for this post, I found out that her books have been published in 22 countries, and that she was one of the first well-known illustrators to include pictures of children of all races in her book. The book is filled with little rhymes, poems, songs and stories that you will recognize from your childhood — and probably quite a few that are new to you as well. The book is available from
Amazon in the US.
Way back before I had children, I used to love making homemade beauty products — I gave all my friends handmade lip balm for Christmas one year, and I’d make facial masks and other potions for myself. Now that time is of the essence and we are rushing to get out the door, I don’t do much of that, unfortunately. But the other day, I broke down and whipped up a batch of homemade baby hair gel for my 6-month-old with wild hair. I don’t mind the ’spike’ look most days, but nothing could keep the poor little one’s hair flat for picture time except for this magic potion. (Check out this recipe and many more great tips on feeding your baby in Super Baby Food.)
Baby Hair Gel:
Dissolve ½ teaspoon of unflavored gelatin powder in one cup of warm water. Poor into clean baby food jars, and keep refrigerated. [Add your own label, if you wish!] Use as you would normal hair gel — just a dab will do it– and the best part is that it doesn’t make fine baby hair all greasy.
At 5 months, baby C was at that stage when EVERYTHING goes in the mouth– her toys, her hands, my toys, the phone, her bib, anything she could get her hands on. I happened upon this RaZberry teether by Raz-baby online when shopping for something else and thought it was too funny! It looks like a giant raspberry with green leaves and is super soothing for the gums and teeth. The little bumps seem like a great thing to gnaw on, and she even liked to turn it around and chomp on the “stem” too. It is made of BPA-free silicone and available online at Amazon. I’m almost sad that her first two teeth popped out last week, as now I’ve had to retire the Razberry!
When we moved back to the US, one of the most important things for our 3½-year-old was her new room — what would it look like? In order to keep some consistency (the poor thing had to deal with an international move AND a new baby sister at the same time), I made sure to pack some of her favorite things to decorate her room. Most of our things got shipped by boat (which took forever!), but I packed a few special things to come with us to decorate our new place right away. One of her favorites is her personalized ABC painting, like the one pictured, which was a gift from her grandparents for her 2nd birthday. At the time, I didn’t think it meant that much to her, but when we were getting ready to move, she kept talking about all the images in the painting — apparently, she looked at it every night before she went to bed. Never underestimate the power of decoration, I guess…. We got our painting from the Land of Nod (which ships internationally), and I’ve spotted them here in DC at Dawn Price Baby.
Have you noticed how cupcakes are the trendy dessert of the moment? Bakeries are popping up all over the US and abroad, it seems. I first heard about DC-based Cakelove from a cooking show on tv, and was intrigued by the lawyer-turned-chef Warren Brown– someone who was truly following their bliss to open a bakery. I finally succumbed to the cupcake craze yesterday when I passed by one of Cakelove’s bakeries – I got one for my daughter and her friend, a lovely vanilla cupcake with strawberry frosting. I have to say that it was quite possibly the best cupcake I’ve had. (I had to have a bite in the name of research!) The frosting was real, made with chunks of real strawberries, and not sickly sweet like some frostings. Cakelove now has 7 locations in the DC area, and also does big cakes and other sweet treats. I am looking forward to my daughter’s next playdate to try out another flavor!
I discovered these great place mats a while ago and got one for my daughter, and since then I’ve been back to buy several more, plus some for gifts! The kid-friendly place mats are a great activity on their own, but especially helpful during that dinner hour crunch. Plop your kid at the table, give her some dry-erase markers and a Brainymat, and you’ll have her entertained (and nearby!) while you cook. We even make games out of them, such as: find all the letters in your name and circle them in blue, etc.
For younger kids, there are things like shapes and ballerinas, and for older kids there are addition and subtraction, world maps, and more.