Month: August 2009

The low-commitment baby book

I think that mothers fall into two camps: Those who filled out their baby books and those who didn’t. Now Rag & Bone Bindery (who I love love loooove) has a fantastic solution for the latter camp who wants to be in the former camp, with their handmade 12 Wishes for Baby Book. Each small, beautifully bound book has a slot to paste a photo, followed twelve simple writing prompts like You can always count on me because… and When they write your life story it will begin like this… all ending with the lovely My wish for you…...

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Go ahead, kids, draw on the art

Even though I realize that the amazing Charley Harper Coloring Book is intended for younger audiences, it’s so sophisticated that I can’t help but want to save a couple of pages for me. American illustrator Charley Harper’s “minimal realism” style, which I gushed about after seeing his ABC book, makes for a wonderful coloring book. The pictures are detailed but not fussy, which means my older kids and littlest scribbler can all enjoy deciding what colors to make his happy dog, little bird or delicate ladybug. And, as someone whose refrigerator is absolutely covered in my kids’ works of...

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It’s hip to be rectangular

With all the building toys in my three-kid household, I find it amusing that their new favorite is a box of same-sized, non-painted, rectangular pieces of wood from CitiBlocs. You can almost hear all the other blocks protesting, “But I’m colorful!”, “I snap together!”, “I come in 65 different shapes!”. No matter. CitiBlocs wooden block sets may be plain and simple, but to paraphrase Dr. Seuss, oh the things they can do. CitiBlocs are made from New Zealand’s renewable and affordable Radiata Pine and we have turned our pile of blocks into a truck, a train and my interpretation...

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Trifle brings all the prettiest things together in one place (I wish that place were my house, though)

When my boys were babies, I spent a lot of time looking for cool, original things for them — clothes and bedding and accent pieces for their rooms. But in a strip mall world, that meant a lot of shopping, and no mama has time for that. I wish Trifle had been around then. Trifle, an new online boutique headquartered in New Zealand, offers a carefully curated collection of beautiful craft and design for mothers and babies from around the world, all gathered together in one virtual stop. Each item is hand-picked, plenty are hand-crafted or eco-friendly, and they...

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The hottest preschool backpacks for back to school

Still looking for the perfect backpack for your preschooler? You’re in luck. Because recently, CMP editor Liz Gumbinner taped a segment for BetterTV on some of the cutest backpacks for younger kids headed to preschool and kindergarten. Our picks, and all of them PVC free of couuuuuurse: 1. The new Zoo Packs from Skip Hop (featured: Monkey, Bunny) 2. The neoprene backpacks from Dabbawalla (featured: Doggie, Penguin) 3. The new Planet Color by Todd Parr backpacks from 4 Peas, with matching lunch tote. (featured: Love Pink) Click over and watch the segment on BetterTV here. You’ll also find some...

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Ja, Little Mon

On a recent drive to the beach, my kids and I glumly watched the black clouds rolling in as we all collectively whined, “Rain again?” Fortunately the CD I chose to turn on at that moment was Asheba’s totally fun calypso and world beat release, In The Kid Zone. The mood in our car changed as soon as we heard the sound of the steel drums and the artist’s joyful, smooth voice. And while I’ve never been to the Caribbean, native Trinadadian Asheba sure made me feel like I was headed that way with the authentic sound of songs...

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Sometimes things just Klick

Small space furniture is just getting smarter and smarter and I’m so glad to see that one of our fave U.S. kids’ furniture makers, P’kolino, is getting in on it with their Klick table and chair set for kids. Kids up to about 7 can sit on the cushioned birch plywood seat to sketch out their very important architectural blueprints or pen their first novels, and when they’re done, just slide the chair right into the table, Tetris-style and stash the cube away in the corner. It comes in three snazzy modern color combos, and I particularly like that...

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Back to Etsy for Back to School

We love looking for fun, off-the-beaten-path back to school items so much, we’re not just doing it for our own readers, we’re doing it this week for our friends at Indie Fixx who asked us to drum up some of our favorite back to school picks all from Etsy. Click over and let us know what you think of the bag tags, pencil cases, smocks, and teacher cookies we tracked down all from artists and crafters, many (if not all) moms themselves. And psst…good Etsy tip: If the item you love is sold out, click the shop name and...

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Mr. Tolkien? Your toddler shoes are ready.

The new fall kids’ shoes from CMP fave Livie and Luca are starting to slowly appear on the website and I am absolutely loving the new mushroom-adorned Woodland Boot which is a fun, Hobbit-esque update to the London Boots we were digging last year. These are not your typical kids’ shoes for sure. First of all, they’re all handmade. The leather uppers are beyond soft, the flexible soles make them fabulous for playground conquering (or magic stream crossing?), and the velcro close makes your life inordinately easier. Plus Livie and Luca’s shoes hold up so well, that I’ve had...

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Photos like they used to be – blurry, too blue, and very very cool

I am a Photoshop spaz, so I love finding programs that let me do cool things with my photos with little to no mental anguish. It’s not just a great tool as a blogger, it’s cool when I’m uploading them into e-invitations or videos or keepsake photo books. The new Rollip site can give your snaps any number of neato old school Polaroid effects, as you can see here in with a pic of my daughter that I uploaded. The service is less slick than Polardroid, but it’s free and there’s nothing to download. At some point Rollip will...

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A female pirate? Ahoy.

We love Oliver Chin, author of the Tales from the Chinese Zodiac Series. In his latest book, Baltazar and the Flying Pirates, Chin teams up with illustrator (and blogger!) Justin Roth in this, um, high-flying tale of adventure and fortune. The best part? The head pirate, Captain Redlocks, is a redheaded woman. Oh yes she is. And she captains the Cutlass, the fastest ship in the skies. Because not only men can be all swarthy and adventurous and brandish swords and wear cool black eye patches. (Does anyone besides me see a hat tip to My Lady’s Cutlass, the...

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Muddy Cloud finger puppets are make believe, made better

As a child, I’d spend three long days driving to visit my grandmother each summer and, out of boredom, would pretend my bare hands and feet were puppets. Pretty pathetic, but times were tough and it was too hot in our hatchback to go the sock-puppet route. So perhaps that is why I feel such fondness for such adorable, portable and imaginative little finger puppets like these new ones from mom-run Muddy Cloud. You may recognize the unique characters Joop, Balob and their crew since we’ve long been fans of these fleecy creatures whose semi-abstract look practically begs for...

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Holy awesome $10 pair of kids’ shoes, Batman

At the end of last summer, I scored my daughter a pair of Zutano canvas shoes on sale. They got her through early fall, through a couple of warm-weather winter vacations, and surprisingly, right through this summer. I guess it pays to buy a size up. I was excited to have found the shoes on sale again at CMP fave shop (and awesome sale central), Chittypulga so I can grab them again for next year. The red or pool blue shoes look adorable on boys or girls, have that great classic preppy look, and the flexible rubber soles great...

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Room d?cor for quirkier kids

My son and I are currently in heavy negotiations over the impending redo of his this-is-it-until-you-go-to-college room d?cor. I’ve already said no to black walls, but the thing we both agreed on instantly were using these Critters wall decals, from cult-fave illustrator (and now mine), Zeptonn. We’ve been touting the flexibility and fun of using wall decals in kids’ rooms for a long time, but what’s really great about these particular designs is how unusual, silly and, perhaps, just a tiny bit twisted they are–which happen to be adjectives I would also use to describe my son’s personality. In...

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The Switch – Just don’t call it soda

We are not what you’d call a soda family. While I love a nice cold fountain Coke or Pepsi with a slice of pizza like every other New Yorker, it’s not something I keep around the house. But when my older nieces or friends’ tween kids come to visit – i.e. those who have already discovered the joys of carbonation – they are not so easily satisfied with a glass of juice. Which is why The Switch Sparkling Juice is a truly fabulous soda alternative. I want to call The Switch a soda. I mean, it seems like a...

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CMP Does Etsy: Not your everyday pencil cases (But maybe they should be)

We’re so excited to bring you the first of our new weekly Etsy round-ups. Tune in every Wednesday for more delicious handmade goodness. Everyone knows that when you go back to school, it is IMPERATIVE to have the coolest stuff. (Although I believe I had Holly Hobby materials three years in a row). One option is to grab some handmade school supplies from Etsy, like this selection of pencil cases which caught my eye. The little guy up top makes me giggle. I love the teeth. I love the eyes. I love the bright colors. Okay, I admit it....

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Brains = Cool

With my daughter starting kindergarten, I’ve been thinking a lot about kids thinking lately. And more specifically: how to make thinking cool to my kid. Part of the problem? Pop culture surrounds kids with celebrations of the body, not the mind. That’s why I love the new Thinkers Collection of kids’ tees at Peek … Aren’t You Curious? The innovative t-shirt designs turn ideas from Newton, Einstein, Descartes and Copernicus into teams to cheer on. But they’re not ordinary shirts–these fabulously constructed 2-in-1 thermal tees combine adult-clothing detailing and quality with kid-approved softness — lessons taken from co-founder Amy...

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Cloth gift bags so cute you won’t want to give them away

I love giving gifts; what kills me is the wrapping. All that wrapping paper getting tossed in the trash — or worse, those reusable but ugly gift bags. Solution: LivingEthos reusable cloth gift bags. Made of 100% cotton, these bags are the perfect finishing touch to any gift. The bags come in a nice range of colors and patterns, and every single one is beautiful. A set includes four different sized bags; the largest is perfect for a child’s toy while the tiny one is just the right size for a little jewelery box. Each bag closes with a...

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Arthur Ashe Kids Day at the US Open – Definitely not just for kids.

I have such fond memories of scoring US Open tickets a kid, roaming the grounds, and sitting slack-jawed in awe of all the incredible talent. (This was the McEnroe days. I’m that old. ) But back then, they didn’t have anything like the annual Arthur Ashe Kids Day, which is coming up this Saturday. If you’re lucky enough to be in the NY area, it’s totally worth a trip. In addition to getting to watch amazing athletes like Serena Williams, and Maria Sharipova (which honestly, would be enough), there’s an entire 2 hour big deal kind of stadium show,...

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At least the inanimate people around here are getting some sleep at night now

At two, my youngest daughter is already into dolls in a way that her big sister never was. She pushes them in strollers, shares her dessert with them, and gives them rides on the bulldog–much to the bulldog’s dismay. She tucks her dolls into bed with her with so much care and sweetness and kindness, that it almost makes up for the fact that she was shrieking bloody murder moments beforehand when I told her she couldn’t sleep in my bed. (Ah, two. Such a glorious, glorious age.) And now she is going to be able to tuck Rose...

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