June 27, 2012

Great Grandma's Russian Nesting Dolls ~ Wordless Wednesday

My grandmother says that her Russian nesting dolls are "not a toy" so I had to sneak them for Savvy to play with during a recent visit. I pinned a great article on "7 ways to Use Russian Dolls to Teach" but didn't use any of the ideas yet. I just let her have at it. I need to buy her a nesting doll set but I can't decide! Perhaps next time we go to Brighton Beach I'll find a shop that sells them... 

Yitta baby (Little baby)

Too many babies!

June 24, 2012

Michaels Passport to Imagination - Craft your way from Madagascar to the North Pole!

Visit 18 countries with your children this summer thanks to craft store Michaels Passport to Imagination event series. Taking place at every Michaels location, children explore different countries via flag-making, animal discovery and other arts & crafts at hands-on creative sessions now through July 28th.

This week, travel to China, Madagascar, and Canada. Make a fortune cookie, a rain stick, a "Moose Crossing" frame and more. The complete around-the-world itinerary including event dates and times is available here and pictured below.  Featured locales include the North Pole, Australia, India, and Brazil--every corner of the globe!

Savannah has been working with crayons, markers, paint, glue, glitter and stickers since she's been 14 months old. So far, all of her interactions with these materials have been 95% self directed. I believe in the power of self-directed creative play but I'm also very curious to see if she's mature enough to follow directions to make a craft. 

I will definitely make a trip to our Michaels on the Upper West Side this summer. Find your closest Michael's store here. Let me know which passport stamps you get!

June 19, 2012

Miraclesuit Swimwear GIVEAWAY and Bathing Beauties Bus Tour

Plan your beach staycations and vacations now: Thursday is officially the start of summer!

To kick off the season, Miraclesuit Swimwear is working with Momtrends to host a fun double decker bus tour of Manhattan filled with swimsuit-clad bloggers (including moi). They're giving away 100 bathing suits and other prizes to people we meet on the street! It's a modern "Miracle on 34th Street". Trust me, when you see these suits suck in and streamline your midsection, making you look "10 pounds lighter in 10 seconds" you will believe in miracles too!

WIN A MIRACLESUIT - 3 ways to win!

1. One lucky Staycation Mama reader will win a slimming bathing suit (avg retail price approx $150) -- enter via Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

2. Twitter contest on the 1st day of summer. Entry rules: Must follow @miraclesuitswim and must tweet to @miraclesuitswim and @momtrends during the hours of 11am-1pm EST on Thursday, June 21st. 

3. If you're in NYC, come find the bus! Momtrends posted the bus schedule here.

Don't want to wait? Buy a Miraclesuit on June 21st and get free shipping all day. 

I visited the Miraclesuit showroom earlier this week to be fitted for the suit I'll be wearing to the Today Show and Summer in the City bus tour. I chose the Sonatina in a muted but funky charcoal print. Here are my other favorites:

The Isabella 
The Jena
Enter to win your favorite swimsuit today! Embrace the sexiness of a slimming one piece. Seriously, even if you have a bikini ready body, these classic suits exude a tasteful yet sultry sexiness and deserve a spot in your summer wardrobe.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to follow our journey by following hast tag #miraclesuitcelebratessummer. And who knows, maybe you'll see me on the Today Show or on the roof of a bus during your lunch break!

{Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and I will will be compensated for my participation in the Miraclesuit Summer in the City event on June 21st. All opinions expressed are my own and do not reflect the opinions of Miraclesuit.}

June 18, 2012

Daddy Teaches Savvy the Essentials ;)

My favorite, favorite people; Father's Day 2012

In honor of Father's Day, I want to highlight TEN awesomely hilarious things my husband taught our daughter in the last couple of weeks:

  1. To say "Old Milk!" instead of "Oh Shit!" when something goes unexpectedly wrong.  (Now she combines the two...."Oh shit. Old milk!" When we stop laughing every time she says shit, she might stop saying it...)
  2. To dance the babushka with arms crossed while saying "Russia Russia Russia Russia".
  3. To dance the Robot.
  4. To say "mommy's butt" when asked where wind comes from.
  5. An improvised song with hand movements about how to make scrambled eggs that has now been sung about 50 times this weekend. 
  6. A secret handshake - they started this a few months ago but I smile extra big when I see them do it.
  7. How to suck the inside of a french fry up through a straw. (Savvy blew through the straw instead at the Mansion diner -- spitball potatoes anyone? Thankfully, she didn't hit anyone.)
  8. The art of thumb wrestling.
  9. Beginner bowling principles using an improvised lane of squishy blocks, wooden shapes and a big ball.
  10. How to balance a spoon on her nose - a bit more practice and she'll have this essential life skill down pat:



Today was a good day! Lots of smiles, lots of taking care of daddy, lots of fun, and the beautiful sound of a little girl saying "Happy Father's Day" ("happy fodo dae") for the first time just before bedtime.

She's so much braver with her father. Even went down the big spiral slide!

Both gesturing "c'mon mom".

Showing daddy her climbing skillz.

June 14, 2012

Top NYC Staycations from Time Out NY, 2012

Image via
Time Out New York just released a segmented list of 33 New York City staycations. Staycation is already a made up word, but they categorized the experiences even further by hipsterizing (also a made up word) it with sub-groups like "space-cation", "flea-cation" and "adventure-cation".

It would be virtually impossible to follow all their suggestions this summer. So here's how I further curated their list to come up with Top 5 NYC Staycations 2012. I'll have to make my own competing list soon and you can decide which is better. (I will definitely include Mitsuwa on my list!)

Sleep on a boat for $55! Adventure-cation
Spend a night at the Boatel. According to their website, The Boatel is an interactive art + sound installation where you are invited to stay overnight in one of their sixteen floating installations--a boat that sings, a patchwork treehouse, a Victorian-era naturalist's laboratory, a hillbilly kama sutra honeymoon suite. Sounds rugged and memorable!

Go on a Taco Crawl! Food Coma-cation
Please transport me to Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights immediately so I can visit the taquerias Time Out lists here.

Explore a new subculture - manga! Geek-cation
Go to Forbidden Planet, which sells manga, graphic novels and comics, and get lost in worlds beyond your imagination.

Visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for free! Unemployed-cation
The garden is free on Tuesdays, so add this trek to your calendar. You won't get away with paying nothing though - this park doesn't allow picnicking so you'll most likely need a stop at their cafe.

Swim in a $50 million pool! Burb-cation
The McCaren Park Pool in Williamsburg pool is certain to be great for people watching and the facilities should be top notch after a $50 million, 3 year renovation.

June 12, 2012

Rowboating in Central Park ~ Wordless Wednesday

Can you bring a toddler on a rowboat in Central Park? YES

After looking at website after website for age restrictions and coming across one that said children under age 5 weren't permitted on board, I found out from the source that any child can ride in a Central Park Boathouse rowboat as long as they use a provided life jacket.

So onto the lake we went!

(Thanks to the ominous clouds, the line for boat rentals was only 5 groups deep.)

You can see a smidge of Ladies Pavilion in the distance

p.s. This is cheap, iconic, family fun! The boat rental only costs $12/hr plus a refundable $20 deposit. (Cash only.)

Ladies Who Lunch with a Toddler - Bali Staycation Part III

3 gorgeous ladies and 1 lass. 4 distinct styles.
Savvy's breezy dress is the Moon Orchid Trapeze Dress c/o Tea Collection

Since motherhood became my 24/7 job, I often go months without seeing my closest friends. It makes me sad when I dwell on the thought but luckily I'm too busy most days to fall into a state of melancholy over it.

My bi-coastal friend Karen texted me early last week: "Are you free Friday? Let's do something fun so you can blog about it." Bingo! Time to plan that Indonesian staycation I promised the Tea people. As you know from my Researching Indonesia post, I hunted for things to do beyond the realms of food, but ultimately made a plan to meet Karen at Sanur restaurant in Chinatown. 

Fast forward to Thursday and the plans I thought I had with Alexis turned out to actually be plans for Friday - whoops! - double booked our day so our ladies lunch was growing in numbers. A text from Janice! What am I doing on Friday? Janice volunteered to take the LIRR in to visit (stoked and shocked!), so I ended up surrounded by 4 of my favorite ladies. Certainly an auspicious day!

(Also, note the trend -- I am AWFUL at initiating plans! I'm lucky I still have some people in my life that still reach out to me.)

After our wet morning at Carl Schurz Park, we changed into dry summer outfits, braved the heat and the commute, and headed down to Doyers Street, Manhattan's most crooked street for some authentic Indonesian/Malaysian cuisine, where Indian and Southeast Asian influences intertwine.

We started with Roti canai before moving onto Malaysian mei fun noodles, chicken curry and curry laksa soup. All of the food was expertly prepared (in sharp contrast to the no-frills, fairly dingy basement restaurant) but the roti canai sticks out in my mind as most memorable. It was my first time trying the light-as-air, deep fried flatbread, who's sweet pancake-like flavor was accentuated by the coconut-based mild curry dipping sauce. We loved it until Savvy knocked over the sauce while sampling it. I didn't order a second helping because we had a ton of food coming our way but I definitely will order it again next time I see it on a menu.

Roti canai at Sanur

Savvy's "Uh oh uh oh uh oh" face after spilling the sauce
 Couldn't be mad or frustrated - I'm just happy I have an adventurous eater!

L- Chicken curry  R- Curry laksa

Thanks to staggered arrivals, great food and great conversation we lingered for 2 hours, like we owned the joint. 

One of just a few decorative elements at Sanur NYC

After lunch, we walked up Bowery to a hidden spot on Rivington called Freemans at the end of Freemans Alley. Halfway through my cocktail, while Alexis pointed out animal head wall mounts to Savvy,  I remembered that the last time I imbibed here was the day before I took a pregnancy test and found out I was pregnant with Savvy. She was there once as a zygote and once as an energetic 21 month old.

Tea Collection Moon Orchid Trapeze Dress
Savvy on Rivington - Hair down and ready to party

Savvy wearing Tea Collection's Moon Orchid Trapeze Dress
Alexis snapped this pic. Love it!!

The girls wanted Savvy to dance with them. She played hard to get.
The day didn't end here either! We ended up stopping for gelato and croissants around Savvy's usual dinner time before parting ways from everyone and braving a standing-room-only M15 select bus where I held Savvy, informing her that her job was to hug me while I held onto a plexiglass divider with my free hand and braced the stroller with my thighs. Back uptown by 7:30, I beelined to the fruit stand and supermarket for weekend essentials, rinsed the city off myself and Savvy in the shower and finally crashed into a heap when Savvy fell asleep at 9pm.

Needless to say, the fuller the day, the fuller my heart. What started as a 9am trip to the playground with a purposeful Bali mindset turned into a 12 hour day of good fun, good food, good drinks, lots of sweating, good company and lasting memories. It was the kind of day where I was so happy to end up with an exhaustion headache because I completely lived every minute of it.

This post is the last in a series inspired by Tea Collection's Bali Kuta Beach summer collection. See Part I and Part II for more information on Indonesia and my review of a Tea Collection dress. 

June 10, 2012

Breezy Batiks and Morning Routines - Bali Staycation Part II

tea collection bali laut batik dress
Batik Twinsies ;)
On Savvy: Dress - c/o Tea Collection | Shoes - Mooshu Trainers
On me: Dress - S.H.E. via Ideeli | Necklace - Stella & Dot

In researching my Bali Staycation inspired by Tea Collection, I learned all about batik pattern making, and was so excited for Savvy and I to wear similar styles on our Indonesian staycation day (because, let's be honest, I love any excuse to coordinate with my mini-me).  It may have been a bold choice to have us both wear dresses to the playground at 9am on a Friday morning, but as you'll see from the photos below, the dress withstood pint-sized playtime unscathed and I only looked slightly overdressed (ok, maybe a LOT overdressed).

I approached our morning with mindfulness of our daily rituals and routines, inspired by the Bali way of life that is very ritualistic and reverent. Savannah takes after my husband in the sense that they do the exact same things, the same way, every single day. So after helping daddy get dressed by opening up his closet and eventually handing him his shoes with the reminder "DADDY SHOE TOO" as if he would forget to wear them without her nudging, we were ready to give him our goodbye kisses and head to the playground like we do _every_day_.

Savannah has been more chatty than normal as she weaves together sentences as long as 6 words. Since I was on a mission to photograph her pushing her new Tea dress to its maximum cuteness and test its durability, I captured a multitude of her exaggerated facial expressions and mannerisms because she was talking up a storm.

In a gesture that must be mimicking my own, she holds her thumb and index finger close to her eye whenever she says the word "little". Here, I imagine she's talking about the "liiiiiiiddo" details dyed into her Laut Batik dress. In addition to the flower pattern, there are small nuances like dots, swirls, a few fish and a pop of trendy neon.

Cracks me up how she squints her eyes and wrinkles her nose when I tell her to smile for the camera.
As you can see from the photo below, this dress is designed for looks as well as play. An elasticized waist detail creates shape while the full skirt allows for a full range of motion. This is so key for little girls who need to be able to play regardless of what they're wearing.

Big step! No problem.

The sprinklers beckoned Savvy as the sun began heating us up, so I changed her into her green crocs that matched the lime green details on her dress before she went splashing around. 

The look of determination. She's prepping to carry her stroller down the subway steps like a city mama.
The water at Catbird Playground was freezing!!! But she kept going back for more and luckily her Laut Batik dress, which is named after the sea, didn't weigh her down as it got wet. In fact, the soft cotton sheeting retained its billowiness, so it didn't stick to her legs, getting tangled as she trotted around. It also didn't change color when wet so she didn't look soaked. These are important qualities in a summer outfit because you never know when you're going to need an impromptu cool down. I didn't think the sprinklers would be on this morning because it wasn't supposed to be a hot day, but I'm not the type of mom to say "but honey you can't play in the sprinklers because we didn't bring your bathing suit." I'd rather let her play, then improvise a way to get her dried off.

I love how she arches her back and curls her lips when she says "whoaaaaaa".

And here's a genuine smile :) Soaked, cold, and thrilled!
Our Bali staycation day didn't bring her to the sea, but she certainly embraced the spirit of the island with plenty of splashing around and soaking up as much fun as possible during our morning playground ritual.

Stay tuned for Bali Staycation Part III...

If you missed Part I, read it here: Exploring Indonesia

{Linking up with Mode Monday and Visible Monday}

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. Tea Collection provided clothing for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own.)

June 9, 2012

Bali Staycation Part I: Exploring Indonesia

The kind people behind Tea Collection children's clothes offered to send Savannah outfits from their summer Bali Kuta Beach collection to help inspire an Indonesian staycation for us here in NYC. My only prior knowledge of Bali, an Indonesian island, was from the book Eat, Pray, Love so before even receiving the clothes, I began researching activities we could do here in Manhattan that would help us feel like we were in a vibrant, tropical wonderland while dressed the part.

Eating at an ethnic restaurant is the easiest way to experience a new culture in NYC so I tried my hardest to find something else to do with Savannah. I searched for Indonesian cultural events, checking the consulate website and Google. I also consulted Wikipedia to learn more about the Indonesian way of life, religion, etc. When all was said and done, we went to an Indonesian restaurant for the primary portion of our staycation, but I'm so happy to have learned about this culture and would love to share some ideas with you for creating your own Indonesian staycation whether you are in NYC or elsewhere.

Itinerary for an Indonesian Staycation in NYC:

  • Gamelan Dharma Swara - The Music and Dance of Bali in New York City. 
    • They performed in NYC on May 20th so we just missed them, but I signed up for their mailing list to learn about future NYC events. Consult their website for June events in New Jersey.
    • They have 7 minute song medley available. Click here to listen - It is certainly unique--atonal, percussive, flighty, hard to describe! As soon as I played the song for Savvy she pulled out her cymbals and whistle to play along. This could be Savannah's theme song for sure as she flitters about walking on her tiptoes, chatterboxing up a storm, smiling.
  • Indonesian Restaurants in Manhattan: Only 2! 
    • Sanur in Chinatown, which offers an Indonesian and Malaysian menu. We ended up going here for a lingering ladies lunch which I'll write about in an upcoming post.
    • Bali Nusa Indah in Hell's Kitchen. I want to try this place as well but I chose Sanur because available photos made it seem more casual. A photo of Bali Nusa Indah showed tables set with white tablecloths. I chose the grittier option so I could worry less about Savvy's behavior.
  • Indonesian Food Bazaar, Queens
    • According to a thread on Chowhound, the next elusive outdoor bazaar should be taking place on Sunday, June 17, 2012, where you can sample freshly prepared Indonesian foods cooked up in the parking lot of a Mosque in Astoria. It doesn't seem like formal event details are posted anywhere, so check this thread if you're interested in going on a fun food adventure. "Get there early," is the advice that keeps cropping up - food is often sold out by 1pm.
    • There are also Indonesian restaurants in Elmhurst, Queens, that inspire lots of debate on foodie websites. Good luck deciding which one to try!  

How to Create a Bali Staycation Anywhere:
  • The Tea Collection blog was a great resource, where I learned for the first time how batik patterns were created on clothing -- hot wax is painted onto fabric, creating intricate designs exposed when the fabric is dyed a different color. They even offer a simple tutorial about how to create your own batik using gel glue and acrylic paint on a white t-shirt.
  • Shadow Puppets are popular in Indonesia. I vividly recall making shadow puppets in elementary school with posterboard, plastic straws, and pins. So fun! When Tea collection sends your package, they include an activity book pertaining to their current collection theme. The Bali book includes a DIY tiger shadow puppet.
  • Be mindful of your rituals. 
    • When researching Indonesian culture, I learned that, while diverse (Indonesia includes 17,000 islands scattered across 3,000 miles!!), a resounding theme of ritualistic behavior at puberty, marriage, birth and death is an Indonesian universal. 
    • This concept made me look at our daily rituals in a mindful way - the act of Savvy and I saying goodbye to Rob with a kiss before he leaves for work, taking Savannah to Starbucks and getting her a treat, going to the playground and always using the swings first, always having the same bedtime routine for Savvy, etc. While these events are a minor part of our days, they are helping build the foundation of Savannah's early family memories.
And of course, there are plenty of people out there who have actually been to Bali or other parts of Indonesia. Sadly, I'm not one of them! But I've come across some great stories and photos: 

Do you have any experience with Indonesia or Bali in particular? What would you suggest we do to simulate the culture's vibe here at home? Or should we just cancel our appointments, max out our credit cards and pack our bags for a month in Bali?

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. Tea Collection provided items for review purposes only. All opinions are my own.)

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