Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!!

So much to be thankful for this thanksgiving...

these cheeks....

this smile...
morning cuddles...
Even despite the sleep deprivation that comes with a newborn, the early wake-ups & tantrums with a toddler, and the general commotion of life with two kids under three years old, my girls, their smiles, their snuggles and their budding friendship --- those are my sweetest blessings. As a new(ish) momma, I'm finally emerging from the fog of the newborn months... looking forward to a little more sleep, and a little less chaos in the months to come.


What are you thankful for this year?

Hope you all have a safe, happy & delicious holiday! And make sure to take time to count your blessings...

Just for fun, here are a few great thanksgiving reads to jazz up your feast!

Thanksgiving activities and craft projects for kids

5 Thanksgiving books for tots

Easiest pumpkin pie for the little ones

Pumpkin flavored beauty

56 thinks you must do this Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide: Top 12 Gifts for your Boyfriend or Husband!

Guys are the hardest people to shop for... they seem to always have everything and need nothing (as opposed to women who seem to never have enough and always need more!). Believe it or not, there are some great gift ideas to surprise the man in your life... check out my picks below.

1. This new Botega Veneta cologne has an amazing, bright and masculine scent that he will love and you will devour. ($80)

2.  JCrew is always a safe bet, with comfy, trendy shirts that flatter everyone. I love this design for getting cozy this winter. ($75 plus 25% off with code WINTER)

3. For your fit, tech savvy guy, there's the new Fit Bit Force... perfect way to measure activity and sleep patterns and keep track of everything via a simple app. This is such a cool device - easy to wear, and really motivating. ($130)

4. These adorable and useful himalayan salt tequilla shot glasses that are made of pink salt, will give a salty tang to your drink, without dissolving away! ($45)

5. Help him keep his new year's resolutions to eat right by subscribing to Nature Box, a genius compay that sends delicious, healthy snacks to your door every month. ($20/mo)

6. This new Bose Sound Link Mini is a bluetooth speaker with impeccable sound quality, that he can take along anywhere. ($200)

7. I love these leather catchalls that can be personalized to make a useful, elegant statement on his dresser, desk, nightstand...(starting at $59 with free personalization and gift wrap)

8. If he's a big baseball fan, this Coach leather paperweight will be a great addition to his office. ($48)

9. Comfy team sweatshirt for Sunday afternoon football games. ($80)

10. Give his iPhone the extra juice he needs to text or call you no matter how late he gets stuck at work... this Mophie Juice Pack extends battery life by 80% (from $80)

11. For the sporty guy, this lightweight, bright down jacket from EMS will be a happy transition to winter. (on sale for $160)

12. A tabletop foosball table is sure to make any guy a happy one... and you'll be the cool girl he shows off to his friends about. ($24)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Nursery Design Series: Vintage Vespa

I'm so thrilled to share this week's gorgeous nursery with you!! Lucy created a stunning, personalized nursery for her son Graham... take a look below for more details! 

For Graham's nursery I chose a vespa theme with hints of blue and grey throughout the room.  Designing Graham's nursery was a very organic process for me as things just generally fell into place as opposed to being pre-planned.  I had found this print on Etsy with a quote I wanted to instill in my son from the time of his birth: "Life is a beautiful ride." (Similar print can be found here). I just want him to have the happiest childhood like I did.  The print just happened to have a vespa on it.  I then came across some beautiful bedding from Finn + Emma that also had vespas on it, and thus my search for vespas began.  It was a fitting theme as my husband proposed to me in Italy and we had our honeymoon there (plus we are both italian!), so it works.  I next would shop the weekly Flea Market on the Upper West Side for little antiques to put on the shelves, including the vintage books and bookends.  After months of searching on Etsy, I finally found a vintage vespa to display on the shelves which is one of my favorite pieces.

For the furniture, I wanted to stay simple and modern, so I stuck with white and items that were well made.  The nursery has a view overlooking the museum of natural history so I didn't want anything in the room to compete with that!  I especially love his rocker which I had custom made in a grey chevron print...not an easy thing to find surprisingly. 

By far my favorite thing in his nursery is the vintage photos I have above his changing table of his grandparents and great grandparents.  I wanted them watching down on him and him looking up to them every day.  He now points to his great grandfather when asked, which melts my heart as he recently passed away and loved Graham very much.

Credit for Photos: Juli Trush Photography
How incredible is little Graham's nursery? Lucy, this was such a thoughtful and meaningful project and your hard work really paid off! Graham is so luck to have this amazing space to grow up in. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

If you're interested, check out Nadia's daughter's nursery here, and my little Leela's here

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide: Top 10 Gifts for your Sister or Best Friend!

I'm so excited to start my holiday gift guide series this season! Kicking it off with top 10 gifts for your sister or best friend...

1. Every woman would be happy to carry around this adorable Market Tote from Mark & Graham... at a great price for great quality. And they offer free personalization and free (adorable) gift wrapping! ($65)

2. If she loves host game nights, you can't go wrong with this classy deck of cards from Hermes. ($85)

3. I'm in love with this whimsical but elegant Kate Spade polka dot watch! ($195)

4. For the hair-styling diva, this new, incredible curl secret device by conair will save her time and money in the new year... ($110)

5. In keeping with the spirit of the season, treat her to a sweet necklace as a reminder that she is loved. ($32)

6. She will love to get cozy with these cute fair isle snuggly slippers! I can just envision the fireside lounging... ($25)

7. If she loves to work out, keep her running in style with this warm and comfy lululemon head band! ($26)

8. What about a bold bracelet for a girls night out? ($10)

9. These waterstone succulents will glam up her office, kitchen, bathroom... buy one or many for a great effect! ($25 each)

10. I love these lovely Serena & Lily votives to add a festive touch to the holiday table... ($58 for a set of 4)

Just for fun, here's last year"s version...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tarrt

Theo Decker is a thirteen year old boy who somehow survives an accident that has killed his mother. When he is displaced and begins living with a friend's family on Park Avenue in New York City, he clings to every cherished memory of his mother, especially one particular painting whose mystery drives him to the underworld art scene of NY. After he is feeling settled with this family on the Upper East Side, his estranged father shows up and takes him to Vegas to live there... and his life begins to spiral out of control from there.
“When I looked at the painting I felt the same convergence on a single point: a glancing sun-struck instance that existed now and forever. Only occasionally did I notice the chain on the finch's ankle, or think what a cruel life for a little living creature--fluttering briefly, forced always to land in the same hopeless place.” 

Tartt writes with great detail about this underworld, all of its mysteries and the obsessive, passionate characters it encapsulates. This is the kind of book you cannot put down... the writing is enchanting, the characters are vividly well-rounded, complicated, mesmerizing and personable. I had never read anything by this author, and was pleasantly surprised by her writing. As you all know, I am an avid reader... I read every chance I get, devour new books and savor old ones, I read a book per week, and am happiest when I'm in the middle of a great book. So I've read my share of beautiful fiction. BUT this is one of those amazing books that affirms my faith in writing, that shocked me with its power and poise, and has really taken my breath away with its magnetism.

“ we rise from the organic and sink back ignominiously into the organic, it is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn't touch.” 

Theo is essentially running away from something throughout all the 700+ pages of this novel. His character is so well done, one of the best protagonists of all time. Boris, the Russian, is my favorite character... mostly because he is Theo's salvation and his downfall, but also because his voice is so strong and unique. Parts of this book definitely drag, but others are so suspenseful and captivating it will blow you away! 

"A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don't get to choose our own hearts. We can't make ourselves want what's good for us or what's good for other people. We don't get to choose the people we are."

This book is about everything. There is misery and loss, but there is also love. There is philosophy, drug abuse, childhood, pain and survival. There is family, friendship, grief and beauty. There is humanity, addiction and sorrow. I've never come across a book that covers so much ground, so well. This book is a work of art... definitely a masterpiece!  

“But sometimes, unexpectedly, grief pounded over me in waves that left me gasping; and when the waves washed back, I found myself looking out over a brackish wreck which was illumined in a light so lucid, so heartsick and empty, that I could hardly remember that the world had ever been anything but dead.” 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Nursery Design Series: Kashmir Pink

Today we have a special treat... I'm beginning a new series about nursery decor! Every week, I'm going to present to you a new nursery designed by new parents, with lots of tips on planning for space, budget and design considerations. Several guest bloggers have volunteered their help, and I'm excited to showcase what we have!

This week, Nadia is sharing the beautiful nursery she created for her 14 month old daughter... here's what Nadia has to say about the planning process!

Decorating and designing a nursery in the small spaces that New York City apartments tend to offer can be a daunting task for a mother-to-be. In most cases, it feels like a task that should be completed prior to the baby’s arrival – before things get chaotic and time becomes a valuable, lost luxury. So, working within these limits: little time, small space, and of course, limited budgets, how should new parents approach this project? Personally, I was lucky to have a sweet little room designated for the nursery. But this room was very little indeed. I knew I had to find petite furniture that was well-made. I myself am not very tall, so I didn’t want large, bulky pieces that would feel overwhelming to me and the baby. I also knew that I wanted antique white and no dark colors. This limited my search somewhat. I began by looking at nursery designs I loved. The Restoration Hardware catalogue had beautiful nurseries with vintage touches, small chandeliers and a romantic vibe; probably more fitting for a larger space in a suburban home. But this gave me an idea of what really appealed to me. No hard lines or modern touches. The modern look actually doesn’t fit with the rest of our apartment so naturally it was not fitting. 

After looking around, we found the type of furniture we needed at Pottery Barn Kids (not my first choice because it felt too cookie-cutter). The crib was just the right height for me to reach in and out and the changing table wasn’t bulky. Next, we installed a couple of shelves to place trinkets and photos. To give it a “romantic” touch, we went with antique, gold frames and antique map butterflies for the walls (found on Etsy). I found this beautiful gold fan mirror on One King’s Lane. My lovely friend designed a framed overlay of Dr. Suess’ Oh the Places You’ll Go, also on an antique map, matching the butterflies adorning the walls above the crib. We painted the walls Kashmir Pink. I never thought I’d go with such a cliché color, but the tone of the pink just felt perfect and soothing. It did not overwhelm the room. And I loved that it was called Kashmir Pink :)

My mother-in-law gifted us a beautiful print of prayers in Arabic calligraphy, which I had framed also in antique gold. We went with a basic cream colored carpet and gauze-y drapes (with black-out shades behind them). I found a Nursery Works Rocker on that was the right size and color and of course on discounted price. I’m so happy I did because I spent many nights sleeping in that chair! While I originally wanted a traditional rocking chair, I thankfully realized that comfort was the more important priority. Rockers and gliders are extremely expensive, but if you plan on spending any time nursing or putting your little one to sleep while sitting (or trying to sleep) in them, it is a very worthwhile investment. 

Overall, the “nursery project” was not particularly easy. Of course it was fun planning and dreaming of the perfect nursery, but executing this in reality was a bit overwhelming.  After my daughter was born I truly did not have any time to think about the aesthetics of her nursery. I was just relieved that it was serving its functional purpose. One piece of advice I will share is on bumpers. While we received beautiful bedding as a gift, we were never able to use it. I ended up going with Wonder Bumpers which are functional and nice looking also. They are safe and easy and I wish I hadn’t wasted all of that fancy bedding. But what does a first-time mother know before the fact?

What a lovely nursery... filled with unique and personal touches that make it so special. Nadia, thanks so much for sharing!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Vegetarian Sides for Thanksgiving

Your turkey loving friends will definitely be happy to gobble up these yummy side dishes!

1. Manchego-Almond Brussel Sprouts

Every Day with Rachael Ray



Martha Stewart

Smitten Kitchen

Joy the Baker



Hungry yet??

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Vegetarian Entrees for Thanksgiving

The feast continues! 5 incredibly tasty, hearty dishes that are vegetarian, but fully celebrate all the warm flavors of the holiday season. Enjoy...

William Sonoma Blog

New York Times

Martha Stewart


Eating Well

I can't decide which one looks best! Which is your favorite?

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Vegetarian Thanksgiving... Yes, it is possible!

Thanksgiving is not just for turkey. It's a great time to enjoy all of fall's best flavors, while spending time with family & friends... and of course, reflecting on everything we have to be thankful for.

Growing up, I came to think of Thanksgiving as an American holiday, celebrated mostly by eating turkey. As an adult though, I have come to realize that there are many great ways to enjoy this feast that don't involve the bird as the big event.

This week, I am going to be featuring some delicious, seasonal, healthy & veggie options for Appetizers, Entrees, and Sides for your Thanksgiving feast! I'd love to hear your own feedback and suggestions as well...

Starting today with Appetizers:

1. Roasted Spiced Squash

Food & Wine
2. Maple Rosemary Almonds

Every Day with Rachael Ray
3. Pesto Arancini

Food Republic
4. Red Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms with Pistachios

5. Cauliflower Soup with Parmesan Crisps

Lemons & Lavender
6. Celery Salad with Walnuts, Dates & Pecorino

Food & Wine

7. Sweet Potato Rounds

Martha Stewart

8. Sweet Pea-Ricotta Dip with Pita Chips

Woman's Day

Which ones will you try? I am definitely making 1, 2, 5 & 6!

Friday, November 8, 2013

iPad Apps for Tots

If you're a parent, you know there are days when the iPad can be your best friend. Children are fascinated with this amazing device, and it can be an emergency babysitter, special treat, or a great learning tool. Ever since Leela was born, I've been allowing little J a little bit more time on the iPad, and have found some great games and learning tools that keep her busy and happy, while allowing me to juggle all the other obligations on my plate.

Here are some of our favorite apps that we've discovered!

1. Moo, Baa, La La La! will actually read your child a story aloud, while highlighting words and building the foundations for recognizing letters and words! The books are also interactive, which is so fun for toddlers. ($2.99)

2. Shape Builder is basically a digital puzzle generator that helps toddlers build their cognitive skills while getting them thinking creatively. ($0.99)

3. Pat the Bunny allows toddlers to "play" with a bunny while hearing a story that can be recorded in your own voice! ($3.99)

4. Monkey Preschool Lunchbox is an app in which toddlers can help a monkey pack his lunchbox -- teaching kids about colors, letters, numbers, sorting and matching. ($0.99)

5. Lego Duplo Zoo follows the journey of a giraffe and bunny through lego-land. (free)

6. Baby Girl Dress Up is exactly what it sounds like. Pretty basic, but fun for both boys and girls. ($0.99)

7. Kids Vehicles was probably designed for boys but is great for girls too. It's filled with interactive vehicles, including fire trucks that feature all sorts of noises, doors that open and close, lights and slides. Fire trucks are always always a hit. ($1.99)

8. Curious George at the Zoo allows kids to explore a large zoo through George's eyes. They can feed, wash, wake and play with the animals and get rewarded with stickers for doing so. ($4 or free for parts)

9. Where's Puppy's Nose is geared toward younger tots who will have a great time touching the animals body parts as they are called out loud. (free)

10. Wee Sing & Learn ABCs helps toddlers learn their letters while singing great tunes! Educational and fun... can't go wrong. ($2.99)

Meanwhile, check out these great iPad cases for toddlers that will keep your kids happy & your iPad safe! We have this one and love it.
What are your favorite apps for kids? I'd love to hear any suggestions!