Author: Barbara

Silicone Ally

Sprucing up for spring usually doesn’t include my kitchen utensil container, but I have long been a convert of silicone spatulas. And these swirly, pretty, funky spatulas are exactly what my kitchen needs right now.   Silicone spatulas are not only easy to clean, they’re heat-proof up to 500°F, and trust me, once you start using well-made silicone for cooking, stirring and pancake-flipping, your collection of old, cracked wooden and plastic tools will be nothing but a faded, slightly stained memory.  The green spoonula is great for working with doughs and frostings, the red spatula is perfect for spreading and clearing out that peanut...

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A world without fish? Say it isn’t so.

Just in time for Earth Day on April 22, a new book weaves together all the intricate threads –biology, climate, culture, economics, evolution, food, history, and politic — that combined, makes up the rich tapestry of our world. And it does so gorgeously. With fish. Written by Mark Kurlansky, a former commercial fisherman New York Times best-selling author, and all around cool guy, World Without Fish is a captivating (fish) tale. It explains for both adults and kids how the fish we most commonly eat may very well be gone in another 50 years, unless there is a profound shift our eating –...

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Combating winter skin in time for spring

A momma friend taught me a simple premise years ago – if a product is genuinely gentle enough for your baby’s delicate skin, it’ll be kind to your sensitive skin, too. That’s how I started using Combat-Ready Balm, formulated for babies and kids, on my winterized, wizened hands. Even though the name doesn’t instantly sound like something you store in a pink gingham basket on the changing table. Esthetician Sara Damelio developed Skincando, with a line of organic and natural products, including a balm, bar, and lip balm. The balm is non-greasy, lanolin-free and gently scented with French lavender...

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Food Pickle – answer your cooking questions faster than you can burn those cupcakes

I’m one of those passionately clueless cooks who often doesn’t know what she’s doing until she’s elbow-deep in a soup gone wrong. It would be so great to have savvy cooking support close at hand, to help me figure out how to fix my overly salty soup, or to brainstorm about what to do with all this leftover pasta, or help me identify what horror is growing in the produce drawer. Happily, there is a food brain trust in Food Pickle, a real-time food Q&A at Food 52, the cooking website of respected food writers Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs. Have a...

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A little less KINDness. Actually a good thing.

I am tired of grabbing a quick, on-the-go “power” bar for my kids (and for me), only to find yet again that we’re just eating a glorified candy bar. When I choose to put candy in my kids’ lunch, I want it to be mindfully (yay! candy!), and when I reach for a healthy snack, I actually want it healthy. And? I want healthy to taste awesome. Is that so much to ask for? My household is really digging the new KIND minis, which are smaller versions of their original gluten/wheat/dairy-free KIND snack bars. They’re approximately 100 calories, made...

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Consider It Done. No, really.

On any given day, I might have to drop off a neighbor’s kid at his piano teacher’s house although he doesn’t know her last name or the name of the street on which she lives, clip a finch’s toenails, and negotiate with an international credit agency for an elderly relative — I know you know what I’m talking about. We moms are usually expected to just figure out how to do some wacky stuff all on our own. And then I was handed Consider it Done: Accomplish 228 of Life’s Trickiest Tasks. Written by Julie Subotky, a lifestyle manager and CEO of...

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Spit That Out!

I’m not the Most Neurotic Mom in the World, but some days I feel I’d make it to First Runner Up, ready to step in, should she be unable to fulfill her duties. I work hard to give my children a healthy, positive, eco-friendly environment, and that means worrying — a lot — about  my choices.  Spit That Out!: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt by Paige Wolf, is a helpful book for worrier mommas like me — and you perhaps? — and all of our sisters in worry. Wolf has...

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Paper dolls meet building blocks

My go-to standard baby shower gift was, for a long time, either a baby bathtub, or infant footie sleepers. Useful, and admittedly a little uninspired. These days, I want to give something unusual, beautiful and creative: both moms and babies deserve them. My latest find? Blocks for more than building. Another offering from one our fave shops, Magpie Lovely, these chunky 2″ Paper Doll Blocks feature sweet vintage illustrations and are priced at $20 for the set of three. They’re hand-sanded and sepia-inked to achieve an heirloomy look and feel, but they’re safe and eco-friendly, with untreated wood and...

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Perfectly Plated

There is only one real rule this holiday season if you are bringing a hostess gift to a dinner party or a weekend get-away: the gift has to be something your harried hostess would actually enjoy. Okay, there is the secret second rule, which is that you can only regift an item to her if said item is in pristine condition and utterly removed from anyone in her family or social circle by no fewer than four degrees. Instead of having to map out a flowchart of who knows whom and where the salad bowl was before you got it, why not just buy her a fabulous little something...

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Delicious Butters and Beans

I like to give crafted baby items made of fabric that are as soft and as safe as possible. And if they look fabulous? Even better. A brand new organic baby line is in town (virtually), and the fabrics are sophisticated enough for grown ups, too.  [don’t miss a limited time offer after the jump] butters&beans, a line created and crafted in a momma-centric home business in Minnesota, offers eye-catching, hand-stitched, organic cotton and bamboo bibs and burp cloths, baby blankets, and more. The quality is really special, the fabric is super soft for tender baby skin, and the...

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It’s in the bag.

We’re now formally in the “handing-someone-a-bottle-of wine” season, and while most of us can simply stick a bow on it and pass it on, there are times when that bottle needs a little more oomph than a plain brown paper bag or a crinkled sheet of tissue paper. The Wine OH (get it?) is a substantial, reusable gift bag, part of the Love Reusable Bags line and it’s very cute.  They offer a number of options: Bag the wine for your brother-in-law in the businessy Cosmic Stripes, or tuck some sparkling (nonalcoholic) cider in a cheery plaid bag you bring...

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A kinder, gentler lip balm

Angry winter weather is coming – yes, even on the left coast, where a cold, dry wind comes off the ocean and ages my skin (and forces me to eat leftover pumpkin pies for breakfast. A la mode). This winter, though, I am more prepared – I have Chapstuff. This yummy-scented, non-greasy mega lip balm is made with shea butter, orange oil and vitamin E, and appears concocted to smooth even the angriest chapped lips/wind-burned cheeks and dry heels. It comes in a stick big enough to glide on my hoofy-heels, but is still small enough to tuck into my...

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Last minute Thanksgiving recipes? Don’t panic!

That growing anxiety I feel is because Thanksgiving is right around the corner, like a really long race I have to run and if I down, I’ll never catch up again. Luckily, there are some food-tastic sites and bloggers who are a great help to you in your final hours of prep (and borderline panic). For quick tips, last minute recipe ideas and even an impressive no-hassle dessert to bring to the inlaws, we’ve rounded up just a few of our faves around the web this week. Sometimes we need some serious Food 101 help. For how-tos, or tips...

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Wrap it up to go

I love the hustle of the holiday season: cooking, shopping and giving are three of my favorite things. What I really don’t like is finding the right wrapping paper for my latest treasures – and it can get ugly when I have multiple smaller gifts, for teachers and neighbors. We’re talking last-minute wrapping in the form of torn tissue paper held together with stickers, which doesn’t look so hot, especially if those gifts are–shall we say–somewhat modest. Sometimes a gal really needs something to help with the upsell.  Check out the personalized items from momma Bridgett Edwards at Perideau...

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Rockin’ Blocks

Whenever I go shopping for baby toys, I am dismayed at how many toy developers design their blocks in sherbet-y pastels  even though babies prefer the colors high contrast and vivid for the first few months. (I am also wondering who decided babies love jungle themes) And then I saw these! maternalNEST’s Modern Heirloom Soft Blocks are all about visual stimulation, with a bright, modern, contrasty prints and sharp black text. They also make noises – each handmade polyfill block contains either a jingly bell or some fabulous crinkly cellophane (a house favorite, for both kids and puppies) to further...

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Kitchen Helper

I really enjoy cooking for my family. What I don’t enjoy are the non-cooking parts of cooking – deciding what everyone is going to eat, and all that chopping, mincing prep work. Well we just found a really revolutionary service that take those two items off the dinner menu. Dream Dinners, with storefronts in 30 states, is like your very own sous chef. You purchase a set amount of freezable meals online from up to 18 choices or so, then book the time you want to head in and assemble them. Choices this month include Cider Braised Chops, Toasted Pecan...

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What, me worry?

I have all sorts of tricks for when I worry too much, because I do worry — too much and too often. Worrying happens to be a family trait. Unfortunately, that means I have a pint-sized worrier in my own house, and he can’t self-medicate with Mad Men repeats and lots of chocolate (because I ate it all first). This is where handy self-help books can come in, provided they are, in fact, helpful. And I happen to have found one. What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety  is an interactive book designed for kids somewhere between...

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Be good in honor of National Family Day.

My kids are already super kind, generous little people, but that doesn’t mean a little more conscious kindness isn’t in order. That’s where the folks at  Boom Boom! come in. Their line of pay-it-forward cards (which we’ve already fallen in love with) now include two new approaches to kindness, and right in time for National Family Day. Which is today. If you didn’t know. (We didn’t.) The Boom Boom! Family Edition encourages you to work at kindness within the expectations of being a family, and I sure enjoyed when one of the kids pulled the “do a family chore without...

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A Bedtime for Bear. And, hopefully, your kiddo.

I am crazy about multitasking, and that includes at kid bedtime; when we read a book together, my child and I reconnect, plus I get to lie down, plus I get to work a little Mom Psychology 101. All that is made a little more golden when we have in our reading roster a book that lets us discuss something about which one of my children is worried, by pretending we’re discussing what someone else is worried about.   Bonnie Becker’s A Bedtime For Bear fits the bill; poor Bear is slightly stuffy; needs everything just so in order to sleep, only his sleepover...

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Switching On The Moon

Though I was long ago (like, on day one) over the nightly battle that was part of our bedtime routine, I never, ever tired of the snuggly part, where we wrapped up and read as much as possible before admitting it was time for lights out. And I’m never tired, either, of solid, sweet children’s books that allow me to read in a soft, calm, sleep-inducing voice. Switching On the Moon is a poetry anthology gathered by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, with sweetly fuzzy illustrations by G. Brian Karas. It includes some sixty poems, but don’t expect nursery...

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