Favorite children’s books

Happy Wednesday!

Today is D-Day.  Well, tonight is the first night of my 28 day cleanse. Knowing this was on the horizon, I’ve been savoring my iced lattes (ironically, the reason I’m doing this.  So I can wean myself OFF of them), eating bread dipped in yummy olive oil and melting chunks of cheese and scooping them up with tortilla chips.  I definitely reach for comfort food when I hit a wall mid-afternoon.   I want to do this cleanse because I want to stop feeling tired, worn out and craving too much sweet and salt.  It will force me to eliminate  caffeine, sugar, dairy, alcohol and carbs for 28 days and I have to amp up the veggie intake.  The coffee and the dairy are going to be the toughest but I know I can do it.  I’m just not looking forward to caffeine withdrawal for the first few days.

On another note….

Why in the world did I let me dentist talk me into drilling out my temporary crown without novocaine on Monday? We were talking and the next thing I knew he was drilling.  I think I was in too much shock and was holding my breath for the pain.  Well, I did finally feel it, he ended up numbing my gum only to have to laser it.  I now I have crowns on almost all my teeth.  Weak enamel + too much candy over the years = I’m sending this guy’s kids to college. Ugh.

On another another note…

Last night I was telling Straw that I need to make a list of all the great picture books we’ve discovered over the last three years for Patrick.  I wish I had a list of all the ones I loved reading as a kid (I remember a few).

Well, I started a list.  My new thing I’ve been doing is buying a book to match an activity that Patrick’s been enjoying (he loves to “read” the “Very Hungry Caterpillar” to Straw at night so we are doing the butterfly “growth” kit.  We ordered caterpillars and now we’re watching them go through the whole cycle.  It’s pretty cool).

Here are the ones we’ve been really enjoying:

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“A Sick Day for Amos McGee “ By Philip and Erin Stead – Amos works at the Zoo.  He’s home sick from work and the animals decide to take a little field trip and visit him at home.

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“Dragons Love Tacos” by Adam Rubin.   Dragons loooove tacos, but don’t give them any spicy salsa.  They hate spicy salsa and they may burn your house down!

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“Up and Down” by Oliver Jeffers.   The boy’s penguin wants to fly but can’t and doesn’t understand why.  He runs off to join the circus to try to fly by getting shot of a cannon.   Such a sweet book about friendship.  I’m a big fan of Jeffers’ books.

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“Otto the Book Bear” by Katie Cleminson.  Otto lives in a book but unfortunately gets left behind when the family he belongs to moves.  Luckily he discovers the library and other book bears and book creatures.  Very sweet!

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“Memoirs of a Goldfish” by Devin Scillian.   The goldfish gets upset as his bowl gets more and more crowded with some pretty interesting characters.  Really funny and great illustration.  Can’t wait for “Memoirs of a Hamster” coming in May.

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“The Circus Ship” by Chris Van Dusen.   Love this book! A circus ship crashes off the coast of Maine.  Find out what what happens when the animals run amok in the small town.  If you’re not familiar with Van Dusen, his illustrations are pretty incredible and his talent for rhyming is terrific.  This book makes a great gift too.

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“Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site” by Sherri Duskey Rinker.   Each machine – The digger, crane, bulldozer – has an important job to do at the construction site but each have to wind down and go to sleep.

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“A Camping Spree with Mr. McGee”  by Chris Van Dusen.  I bought this for Patrick because he’s been doing a lot of camping and fishing with Straw lately.  Mr. Magee and his dog Dee have a camping adventure that involves marshmallows and a hungry bear. This is one of a series with Mr. Magee and Dee.  Another favorite from Chris Van Dusen.

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“A House is a House for Me” by Mary Ann Hoberman.  This book was published in 1978 and was one of my favorites growing up.  It’s exciting to see that Patrick loves this book and requests it often.  “A hill is a house for an ant, an ant, a hive is a house for a bee.  A hole is a house for a mole or a mouse, but a house is a house for me.”   Everything and everyone has a house from lions to lambs and farm animals too.   This is a good book for kids to learn about all different types of animals and objects.

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“Dog Loves Books” by Louise Yates.  “Dog loves books so much that he decides to open his own bookstore.”   Dog has many adventures as he escapes into the books he loves to read.

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“The Secret Lives of Princesses” by Phillippe Lechermeier.  An interesting take on non-traditional princesses.  This is a beautiful book and a favorite to give as a gift.

I had my ass kicked this morning by John the trainer at the gym.  This is my new thing – self torture.  I curse him (in my head) in the middle of our workouts but feel so much better when I’m done.  On my way home I started to feel panicky about not having coffee tomorrow.  Or the rest of the week.  Or for the next 28 days.  Now I know how alcoholics must feel.  Or crack whores.   I want to load up but know I shouldn’t (you don’t realize how bad your coffee addiction is or your dependence on it until the thought of it being gone is too much.)  Think of me the next time you’re in Starbucks.

Enjoy your day. C

(Photos courtesy of Amazon.com)

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Tuesday Chic: J.Crew’s Jenna Lyons

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I’ve been pretty obsessed with J.Crew’s President & Creative Director Jenna Lyons for some time (ever since her Park Slope house was featured in Domino Magazine).  She’s been credited with elevating J.Crew’s brand and helped create it’s cult following (me included) with it’s mix of high/low pieces, beautiful jewelry, and quality fabrics and materials.

I dig her personal style and  find her rise through the ranks of J.Crew to become a fashion standout fascinating.

And I want her house (well, her old house.  She sold the brownstone in 2012.)

Read more about Jenna and J.Crew’s creative team in the May issue of Fast Company. The article also features a cool 360 view of Jenna’s office.

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Photos courtesy of Tommy Ton & Domino Magazine

Bon Appetit!

Good morning! I hope you had a relaxing weekend.  Mine was nice and hectic (in a good way).  I got to see a girlfriend I haven’t seen forever and enjoy a couple of cocktails and then brunch on Sunday and a nice dinner with the family.

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We were out to dinner Friday night at one of our favorite Italian/pizza places, Pizza Antica in Lafayette.  I love the decor there.  Ironically, it looks more french cafe.  It got me started thinking how you could decorate your house with elements of a french cafe and here are a few finds:

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French stripe kitchen towel from Pottery Barn           Beverage Bottle from Crate&Barrel

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Madeleine Table and Chairs from Restoration  Framed Chalkboards from Ballard Designs

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Market Clock from Ballard Designs                  Floating glass frames from Pottery Barn

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Burlap pillows from Samantha Johnson on Etsy  Perigord Tumblers from Williams-Sonoma

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European lantern from Wisteria                      Cement basket containers from Mothology

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French cafe photograph from Etsy                         Monogrammed wine bucket from Etsy

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Paris Cafe Cookbook from Amazon     Linen Provence stripe duvet from Restoration

Clutch Cool

Clutches are a lovely day-to-night accessory as we move from heavy sweaters and coats to skirts and sleeveless dresses.  Here are some of my favorites:

Neon Minaudière from Zara ($39.50)
McQueen-esque and like the unexpected neon color.

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Gold sequin bag from Zara  ($50)
Perfect size and photographed in everyone’s hands during the 2012 ready-to-wear shows.  You can score one on Ebay.

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Woven Fireworks Clutch from Anthropologie ($78.00)

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Embroidered evening bag from Zara ($79.90)
Simple and sweet and would be a cool pop of color with a little black dress.

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 Invitation Clutch from J.Crew ($98)
Great size, cool cork with bits of gold threaded throughout and goes with everything.

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Suede Foldover Tassel Clutch from C.Wonder ($128)
Pistachio green is the color of spring this season.

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Flat Clutch from Clare Vivier ($143)
The flat Clutch from Clare Vivier comes in a number of colors and textures and may look simple, but will certainly make a statement with your monogram added.

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Haircalf clutch in leopard from Clare Vivier ($165)
Sophisticated take on the clutch with animal print.  Looks great with a blazer and jeans.

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Tory Burch Austin Jelly Clutch ($195)
Pair the pink jelly clutch with a pair of white jeans and sandals for day or a green dress for evening.  The “jelly” material makes it a casual and fun.

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Kate Spade’s Bungalow Breeze April ($268)
Pretty straw bag in trendy chevron stripe and in my favorite color.

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Alexander Wang ($355)
Love that the gold metal corners give this croc embossed clutch an edge.

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Pandora Bag from Charlotte Olympia ($895)
I love the idea of the pandora bag (and think it’s awesome you can buy interchangeable inserts for all different outfits) and have admired it for a long time. The bamboo detail makes it a great bag for summer.

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Rockstud clutch from Valentino ($1,195.00)
This oversized leather bag is sweet and sexy and is definitely an investment piece (miss a mortgage payment, anyone?).

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This weekend is supposed to be really nice and perfect to be outside.  The big man is taking little P fishing so I think I’m going to be doing some spring cleaning and preparing for my “last supper” (i.e. chicken enchiladas) before my cleanse starts next week.

My thoughts are with my aunt and uncle and family who are on complete lock down in Boston.  Hope they find that guy before he causes any more destruction.

Hope you have a safe and relaxing weekend! C

Sweet Nostalgia: The Root Beer float

I’m embarking on a 28 day cleanse starting next week (I make it sound like I’m leaving on a backpacking trip, I know), that’s more of an elimination diet than how we think of cleanses.  No dairy, sugar, carbs.  I’ve been feeling overly tired and too dependent on sugary coffee to get me through an afternoon.  I’m probably not eating enough protein throughout the day either.  During this cleanse, I’m going to try a few recipes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s new “It’s All Good” cookbook where she mainly cooks with fresh veggies, lean meats, and almost no carbs or sugar.  I’ll be sure to share any good recipes from the book during my cleanse.

In honor of saying goodbye to sweets, I wanted to share some cool takes on the root beer float (one of my favorite things to serve for dessert in the summer time.  I mean, who doesn’t love ice cold root beer with delicious vanilla ice cream that you can enjoy through a straw? I know come July and August, I’ll be serving a lot of these.

Traditional Rootbeer Float from AllRecipes.com

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1/2 pint of Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream
1 bottle of root beer (A&W is one of the best)
1/2 cup whip cream
4 maraschino cherries

Place 1 scoop of ice cream into each of two tall glasses. Pour root beer carefully over the ice cream. Add another scoop and repeat. If possible, repeat again.

DIY Rootbeer floats on a Stick from Cafemom.com

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1 12oz. root beer or 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

Mix root beer and sweetened condensed milk together with a whisk. If it gets to foamy set it in the fridge for a bit to settle down. Pour into popsicle molds. I prefer dixie cups and popsicle sticks. I let the popsicles set up(about an hour) before I insert the sticks.

Rootbeer float cupcakes from BakingBites.com

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The cupcakes are moist and have a nice, tight crumb that seems to pass on more flavor in each bite. You can really taste the root beer, and the hint of vanilla – which many root beers also include – rounds out the flavor. They can be eaten plain, but they’re at their best when served with ice cream and a drizzle of root beer syrup. To get the ice cream in there, I carved a small hole out of the top of each cupcake, just as I do when I’m going to make filled cupcakes, and placed a small scoop of ice cream on top. I drizzled the cupcakes with a little bit of root beer glaze to give them a little extra flavor and a root beer float look. You can store the ice cream-topped cupcakes in the freezer for a few hours before serving, if desired.

If you don’t have the root beer syrup, and don’t want to buy it, you have two options to make these cupcakes. The first option is to simply use milk in place of the root beer syrup in the recipe and add in about 1 tsp root beer flavored extract. The second option (and a better option, in my opinion) is to buy some good, non-diet root beer (12-oz), pour it into a sauce pan and reduce it until you have about 1/3 cup. This will take about 15-20 minutes over medium-high heat and will concentrate the root beer flavor, imitating the syrup that I used.
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup root beer syrup*
1/3 cup milk
Vanilla ice cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Add in one third of the flour mixture, followed by the root beer syrup. Mix in another 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the milk. Stir in all remaining flour and mix just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Bake for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool cupcakes completely on a wire rack.

To Finish: Cut a small cone out of the top of each cupcake and place a small (1-2 oz) scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Drizzle with root beer glaze and serve immediately. Plain cupcakes can be prepared in advance and stored for 1-2 days in an airtight container before topping with ice cream and serving. Ice cream topped cupcakes can be stored in the freezer.

Makes 12

*For Root Beer Syrup: Use Sonoma Syrup Co’s Root Beer Syrup or make your own. To make your own, buy a bottle or can (12-oz) of good, non-diet root beer, pour it into a small sauce pan and reduce it until you have just over 1/3 cup.

Root Beer Glaze
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp root beer syrup
approx 1 tbsp water

Whisk together all ingredients until mixture is smooth and thin enough to drizzle easily. Add additional water slowly if needed to thin glaze. Root beer extract may be substituted for root beer syrup.

The “adult” Root Beer float (with Vodka) from drinkedin.net

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Ingredients
2 oz. 303 Vodka
5 oz. root beer
Whipping cream for garnish
Maraschino Cherry (optional)

Fill glass with ice.

Pour vodka over ice and then fill with root beer.
Garnish top with whipping cream and cherry if desired.
Serve
And you can’t forget your Root Beer float accoutrements…
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Stripe Paper Straws from Sweet Lulu                           Classic Mug from Mark + Graham
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Root Beer Soda Syrup by Williams-Sonoma

Hey there, big boy

I’m in the process of finishing the P man’s “big boy” room and my color inspiration comes from this cool bedroom I found on a design blog.

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Orange and navy are two of my favorite colors and thought this color palette was crisp and clean and would be perfect for a boy’s room.

Here is my wish list:

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This giraffe print from Sharon Montrose        Dash & Albert’s pouf (comes in so many cute colors!)

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Narrow book shelves from Land of Nod                             Galvanized Wall Letter from PB Kids

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Alphabet Poster from Lizzy Clara on Etsy      Monogram wall art from Robin Liagris on Etsy

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Stripe Canvas Storage from Restoration Hardware            Monogram Pillow from Annie Sue on Etsy

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Chevron Rug from Dash & Albert       Comforter from Target (can’t find orange duvets anywhere!!!)

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Stripe teepee from Land of Nod                                                         Whale sheets from Garnet Hill kids

This weekend was a lot of fun.   We played dress up Friday night and got to sleep in Saturday morning which was awesome.  Made lots of great food, hung out with friends and wished we had one more day to play at the park.  Cheers to a good week! C

Patio dinner party

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81 degrees today and I realized I have no short sleeve t-shirts! Ugh!

We were outside yesterday evening and it was so beautiful.  I can’t wait to start planning and hosting evening dinners on the patio (I especially want to try some new recipes so if you have any that are favorites, send them my way) with friends and the big man, little man, dog and rabbit (yes, Beyonce).

A few months ago I was with my aunt in San Francisco (trying to share a tiny umbrella in the pouring rain on Sacramento Street) when we ventured into Hudson Grace, a new beautiful home and gift store (with a back wall painted International Orange, the same color as the Golden Gate Bridge).  Stacks of coffee table books featuring stunning interiors, candles, serving bowls and anything you would want to host your next dinner party.  What I liked was the store wasn’t overstocked, but more served as a revolving exhibition of the latest sleek wares for your home.

We fell for the disposable 100% cotton-but-looks-like-linen napkins and placemats by MyDrap.  My aunt was literally speechless.  Couldn’t get over how affordable ($27 for a roll) and elegant these were. They come in every color and if you choose not to tear them off the roll, you can use them as a runner.  I love the grey, pink, blue, green (I swear, I’ll have a drawer full. And I was the one who used to tease my mom about stockpiling pattern disposable napkins.)

It’s a great idea, especially for a birthday party or shower when you want to move away from the typical party supply store stuff.

To purchase, click here (on sale) or visit MyDrap

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Photos courtesy of Amazon.com and Hudson Grace

We woke up at ten minutes to six this morning to go fishing.  I probably haven’t fished since I was 12, but surprisingly had a great time (to the point that we were saying we wished we had gone without the 3 year old.)  Nothing better than hearing “mommy, I have to go potty!” While your bass are biting.  Did I ever think I’d say that? No.

One of my friends said, “I can’t picture you fishing.” Well, I haven’t gone full bore yet.  I was standing on the shore in head-to-toe J.Crew.

Enjoy your evening, wherever you are. C