Category Archives: Kids

Parklet Party

About a month ago, some of us neighbors decided to plan a parklet party. Wait, what? A parklet? Wikipedia defines a parklet as a small urban park, usually located in the space allocated for a parallel parked car. Geez Louise, why? Well, we’re a lazy bunch, and we didn’t want to experience the time and financial process of throwing a full block party. We decided on a date most of us would be around. Aside from the date and a neighbor with a car reserving a parking spot, the rest of it was pretty very impromptu. People brought food and drinks, and by pure coincidence, the parking spot ended up in front of our house. The balloons as caution “flags” were my idea, and using stop light colors was David’s idea. It wasn’t until the next day when we realized that red, yellow, and green are also Portugal’s colors! If we were really fancy, we could have gotten some astroturf or an outdoor rug to better mark off the area (and cover up the scuzzy street), but I thought the potted plants and chairs got the job done. On the menu were burgers, sausages, sides, fruit, and grilled s’mores to end the evening. Actually, a handful of us didn’t really end the evening until about 1 am. Thank goodness for patient neighbors. It helps that we are generally nice and quiet people, and we invited any neighbor that walked by. It was fun, the weather was perfect…actually a little chilly. I will keep Saturday night in mind as we are sizzlin’ at 95+ degrees in a couple of days. Enjoy the photos!

Before the party:

During:

Bubble gun and Barbapapa Band Aids!

Murphy doesn’t usually like his photo taken, so I feel lucky.

Lola is a bit jealous of Murphy’s freedom, or she hates our music choice. Check out the death stare.

Blurry food shot, sorry!

One last shot, courtesy of my neighbor…

Thar she blows folks, our Parklet Party. I hope it inspires you to gather with friends and neighbors soon.

Stephanie

Book Review: French Kids Eat Everything

French Women Don’t Get Fat, Bringing Up Bebe, and now French Kids Eat Everything. Come on! I know the French aren’t perfect, so why are we so drawn to these titles?! Admittedly, I was a big fan of French Women Don’t Get Fat back in graduate school. I had been meaning to re-read it, but never got around to it. I highly recommend it if you just need a little nudge to keep your weight under control using common sense and simple recipes. Bringing Up Bebe hasn’t interested me enough, so far. The French don’t do everything right, but they mostly do food right. I’m glad I chose to read French Kids Eat Everything, and I wanted to share.

The author, Karen Le Billon, is a Canadian woman married to a French man. She divides her time in both countries with her two little girls. I trusted her opinion right off the bat. She’s real, she’s honest, and she makes food mistakes just like the rest of us snack-happy North Americans. I’m not going to go into details about her rules and findings, you can read a nice summary here and Le Billon has a blog too. I really encourage you to read this book if you have picky eaters, or if you need help getting back on track with some food rules you already hold dear to your heart (that’s me). If you have a small baby or are expecting a baby soon, you should definitely read this book. The French introduce vegetables first to get babies accustomed to the tastes. Le Billon includes some puree recipes, and a rough guide for introducing new foods. The book is currently on sale for $15 at most retail outlets, and you can find digital copies for even less!

There is one thing that shocked me about the French. Their breastfeeding rates are dismal! Most French women breastfeed for a couple months, and usually put their newborns on strict feeding schedules right off the bat (while in the hospital). I just cannot get on board with any of that, but everything else is pretty great. I had one “duh” moment when Le Billon says that some families give their kids a bath before dinner. Why didn’t I think of that?! Although, that would require two parents…at least in my house, one to cook and one to bathe.

The results? We are only a few days into the experiment, and I haven’t even told David about all of the new food rules we should attempt to follow. He just thinks I’m a Francophile dork, but he knew that before marrying me. Despite the early stages, Estelle is already showing a greater willingness to try new things. As the author warns, it’s a slow process. Since Estelle is still in the “opposition phase” of life (ages 2-4), I have very low goals. I just want her to try new stuff, she doesn’t have to like it or eat it, but she does have to keep trying it. David and I both eat a wide variety of foods, so I have no doubt that if we continue to model good food habits, Estelle will follow suit.

Have I convinced you to read the book yet? I would let you borrow my copy, but I’m the bozo who bought a digital copy for my iPad. It’s just a little difficult to share digital books! French Kids Eat Everything might be my new go-to baby shower gift, paired with a cute set of baby dishes.

Bon appetit, mes amis! It’s almost the weekend! Any fun plans? We’re just staying in town, trying out a new urban party style with the neighbors. I hope my vagueness is intriguing, I will be sure to share the party results after the weekend! The Father’s Day gifts I ordered on Sunday haven’t arrived yet, so David might have to live with waffles, crafts projects, and Camden Riversharks baseball until his gifts get here.

Stephanie

City Pretty: Sister Cities Park

We met up with some friends at Sister Cities Park on Sunday. It is a newly completed park and visitor center in between the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul and Logan Circle on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

There are two water features, a stream/wading pond and a fountain. The pond was designed for wooden boats, but that doesn’t seem to be the way people are using it so far. By people, I mean mostly kids who are perfectly fine sitting in streams and getting soaked.

The building houses restrooms, visitor center, and a small Milk & Honey cafe. They were nearly cleaned out of dinner food by the time we got there an hour before closing time on Sunday. They have pre-made sandwiches, quiche, soups in the fall and winter, cookies, yogurt, fruit, juice, water, tea, and coffee drinks.

The green roof is looking lush!

We finished up our evening with a picnic, and the kiddos dried off in the sun. Storm clouds started rolling in. We made it under our front door awning just in time for the sky to open up, what luck?!

Estelle approves! It is definitely worth a visit. I suspect it will be a big hit with tourists and Philly residents alike.

Stephanie

Memorial Day Weekend

We decided to stay home this weekend. In my opinion, three-day weekends should be the norm! We accomplished some minor, but important, things around the house…basement tidying, summer clothes switch out, AC unit installation, testing bedroom paint samples. More importantly, we had fun and relaxed! We did lots of hanging with neighbors and friends.

20120529-212203.jpgPool time!

20120529-212235.jpgDid I mention it was hot? Poor furry Lola.

20120529-212247.jpgBlowing bubbles at the fountain

20120529-212316.jpgAC unit is in, thanks to brawny David!

Our “love where you live” adventure for the weekend was a first-ever trip to the Forbidden Drive at Valley Green Inn in Wissahickon Valley Park. It is mind-boggling that the park and surrounding neighborhoods are technically still in Philadelphia. Our neighbors joined us on this trip, it was helpful that they had been before. We saw a horse, wild strawberries, a tiny snake, lots of waterfowl, and waterfalls! I was glad to come home to the pool, a little too much hot and sticky nature for my liking:)

20120529-212440.jpgGrumpy toddler snack break, Ahoy Ladies!

20120529-212459.jpgValley Green Inn

20120529-212529.jpgTiny waterfall

20120529-212539.jpgSlightly larger waterfall

20120529-212746.jpgOne last snack break before we headed home.

A big thanks to all service men and women who make such fun and safe weekends possible.

Stephanie

Love the Place You Live: Northern Liberties, Philadelphia

The above image is from The Piazza at Schmidt’s homepage.

Have you heard about the Love the Place You Live blog series over at Gabrielle Blair’s fabulously creative and informative blog, Design Mom? The goal is to explore the place you call home, and tell the world. We had a full and fun weekend, and most of it was spent in Northern Liberties. It’s no secret that we love living in Philadelphia. It’s not perfect, but tell me of a place that is?! Before we headed to Northern Liberties, we first met up with extended family at the aquarium across the river in Camden. If you want to really appreciate where you live, hop on over to Camden, NJ for your own real-life Zoe Strauss exhibit. Don’t get me wrong, Camden used to be and could be a gem (and Zoe actually lives and takes most of her photos in South Philadelphia). Right now, Camden is just a little rough around the edges. Our walk from Camden’s City Hall PATCO station to the Adventure Aquarium included a lovely tree-covered sidewalk, but it was surrounded by parking lots (and a prison next door to a YMCA, hmm)! The aquarium was OK, but I’m not usually wowed by animals in enclosures, so don’t take my word for it. The view of Philadelphia from the aquarium was well worth the trip, it helped to have a perfectly sunny day.

The toddler rushed through the dark aquarium exhibits, with a mixture of fear and wanting to find a neon green Tyvek bracelet some other girls were wearing. I knew we weren’t getting the special admission bracelets, so I allowed her to buy one thing at the gift shop. She chose a baby penguin stuffed animal despite my efforts to persuade her towards something smaller and cheaper. She also got her very first face painting EVER, penguins of course!

Next, we all headed over to Liberties Walk and the Piazza at Schmidt’s for some outside dining at Camino El Real and gelato/ice coffee at Nana Petrillo’s Gelateria. We didn’t take many photos because I forgot the camera, and David is the only one of us with a smart phone (so far).

So, the Piazza is a pretty nice place. It boasts numerous restaurants, retail shops, a fountain, and a huge brick wall with a stage for live performances and an extremely large television for viewing of Philadelphia sporting events. It’s a quick trip on public transportation, which we didn’t realize until this weekend. We’ll probably be back many more times before the summer is over.

Sunday was cold and very rainy, but we headed back to Northern Liberties for a play date at North Bowl for tater tots, oldies music, and bowling! It’s retro, and pretty darn nifty.

I couldn’t get over the tiny bowling shoes.

The toddlers lost interest after about 6 frames and got over-stimulated by all the noise. Estelle scored pretty well. Me? Not so much. I should get bumpers next time.

The food is amazing and not healthy, at all. They have standard tater tots, plus a whole menu of fancy tots. After our tots and edamame, we also ordered broccoli mac n’ cheese sprinkled with crunchy goldfish and two orders of corn dogs. We were so full, we didn’t need to eat dinner last night!

Before we said goodbye to North Bowl, I sent the kids into the photobooth with my fingers crossed that they were tall enough to be captured by the camera. What luck?!

That about sums up our weekend. We did not accomplish any house projects, but so what! We had fun. How was your weekend? Did you do anything exciting?

Stephanie

Real World: Philadelphia

Word on the street is that they are casting for Real World: Philadelphia (again). I’m not sure how or why I know this when I didn’t even think that show was still on the air. No, this isn’t a post about how I have hopes of being on a Real World season…those dreams died by the time I graduated college.

This is A HOUSE TOUR post! A very real house tour! By real, I mean barely tidied, not clean, and my photos are not edited…as you can probably tell by the yellow-ness. I had about 20 minutes to take these photos, and only just now noticed the hat on the globe and (hopefully clean) socks on the kitchen counter. Nice. Anyways, nearly every room of our house is in progress. Maybe not the living and dining areas so much, but the table gets moved to accommodate 6 or more dinner guests sometimes. I only wish the kitchen was in progress, but that is just in progress in our heads for now. We have oodles of framed things not on the walls upstairs due to the wall building project we started in the fall. Also, it’s really hard to take photos inside a small house.  Perhaps I should try a video next time around. I will be back with a better house tour when things are a little more finished. Next year, maybe? I wish I was kidding.

The gallery order is entry/living room/dining room, kitchen, upstairs hallway, bathroom, Estelle’s toddler room, the nursery, and the master bedroom (click images to enlarge gallery).

Some things to note:

Estelle’s purple wall is impossible to capture on camera.

The nursery is one hot mess. We left the crib, but there are no siblings for Estelle in the works just yet. Taking apart a crib is just not a priority, and I don’t want to get used to that space being available. I guess we should stop using it as toy storage, huh?

We have only one closet in our entire house…it’s that glorified bookshelf with a door in the master bedroom. It’s not deep enough to fit a hanger, so we added shelves. Good thing we have a basement, which was purposefully excluded from this tour. It’s especially scary right now.

Do you have any easy interior photo tips? Please tell. Do you have questions about things you saw on my very uninformative tour? Please ask. If you think I need to really keep things real by including  a basement photo, just let me know. I’m not ashamed of my basement status, just short on time and daylight to fully capture the glory.

Stephanie

When life hands you expired frosting…

…toss it, and make your own! We are recovering from a birthday weekend around these parts. Little Miss Estelle turned 3 on Saturday, and we had one stellar day full of presents, cake, ice cream, train rides, carousel, and farm animals. We decided to keep things simple, and skip the birthday party in our too-small-for-a-party house this year. I bought some Whole Foods cupcakes, and we sent $40 to daycare for pizza. Estelle was way excited to celebrate with her friends at school.

Come on! We couldn’t keep things THAT simple. We also attended a small family gathering to celebrate the spring birthdays, it just happened to fall on Estelle’s birthday due to scheduling conflicts. I offered to bake the cake since my mom had left a Betty Crocker cake mix and frosting at our house when they visited two weekends ago. I baked the cake one night, using a bundt pan, because I don’t have two round cake pans (just one, of course). The next night, I promised Estelle she could help me decorate the cake. I open the Betty Crocker confetti frosting, and didn’t really like the grayish pink color it had to it. I still licked the frosting and gave some to the toddler. Then I checked the expiration date: July 2010. Ummm! I couldn’t possibly use it if it looked weird AND was so old. Quick, must think of something. I tried my handy dandy Joy of Cooking book, but those recipes were too complex. Next I Googled “easy bundt cake glaze”, and came up with this bad boy. It had me at four ingredients, including my favorite, almond extract. I barely had one cup of confectioner’s sugar, so however much I made had to be enough. Luckily, I had some sprinkles to make things look less sad. Don’t be fooled, it wasn’t all rainbow sprinkles and butterflies on our kitchen. I was so flustered, I kept telling Estelle not to touch ANYTHING! If she hates baking in the future, I will know it was because of me.

The cake results:

The curtain of balloons was a big hit, but didn’t last long!

Cake glaze recipe via About.com:

  1. Melt 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of butter in a saucepan or microwave.
  2. Sift 2 cups of powdered sugar into a medium size bowl.
  3. Add the melted butter to the powdered sugar.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of milk.
  5. If desired, add 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla for flavor.
  6. Beat until smooth and creamy, adding a little more milk if necessary.
  7. Drizzle over a cooled cake.

Over and out!

Stephanie