Author: Liz Gumbinner

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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Invisibelt goes girly

We totally dug the Invisibelt when it first came out (seriously – half of our writers bought one and they all rave about it) because it lies flat and gets rid of that lumpy bumpy crazy stuff that goes on under your untucked shirt. And now, behold! For there is a an Invisibelt Girl Collection made just for our daughters. There’s a chic pink or purple solid belt, or find cute patterns like peace signs and the ubiquitous and trendy skulls sporting hair bows. You basically adjust them the way you do goggles then snap the ends together (no...

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String dolls give you magical powers! Like the power not to buy a new backpack for school this year.

These days, not everyone wants (or needs) to spend money on a brand new backpack or lunchbox for the kids each school year. So I like the idea of finding those fun little doodads that help liven up backpacks and make them feel new again. If you’re looking for a personalized touch, you absolutely have to check out the keychain-style, handmade String Doll Gang which are great for grade-schoolers who won’t try and eat the wires and googly-eyes. I am just bonkers over the hilarious characters, each of whom have their own “special power.” There’s a princess and an...

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Table Topics cards: Road trip essentials

I am one of those moms who avidly resisted a DVD in the car until I finally broke down before a 10-hour car trip with two under three. Even so, I am a strong believer in looking out the window, playing word games, and singing along to music, with the DVD as a very last resort. Table Topics, which we raved about when they first launched, aren’t just for tables. In fact, these decks of provocative questions make rockin’ road trip and dinner table distractions. The Kids Topics cards and the Family Table Topics cards are a great way to keep all...

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Big brands doing cool things – Kmart Design, not an oxymoron

Earlier this week, I was part of a group of design and parenting bloggers flown out to Chicago by Kmart and plied with chocolate fondue, before meeting the talented and extremely passionate Kmart home design team who gave us a big sneak peak as to where they’re headed. Because I’m an ardent fan of companies that aim to make great design accessible and affordable for the masses (thus, my love for Target) I was intrigued–if admittedly skeptical. While I think Kmart still has a core audience that loves its damask, I was particularly impressed by the Ty Pennington style...

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The coolest baby video, probably ever

Well it’s about time someone reinvented the proverbial wheel of sensory stimulation baby videos, and in this case that someone is award-winning graphic designer and dad Rolyn Barthelman, creator of the ingenious Wee See collection of DVDs. Let’s just say I popped it in — by myself — and immediately started smiling. The two 30-minute videos are made up of imaginative, high contrast animations of basic black and white shapes, accompanied by terrific scoring by Tim Deluaghter of The Polyphonic Spree. It’s all very MOMA store, if you know what I mean. Or as they call it, “part art...

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Cool budget tip: Make your own popsicles

Now that the weather is actually starting to be spring-like in these parts, the kids are asking for ice cream. So I was thinking that maybe this year, to save a bit of cash, we’d do more delicious frozen treat making instead of delicious frozen treat buying, which got me on a hunt for cool popsicle molds. I found what I was looking for from a company called Tovolo which sells at a lot of professional chef stores as well as Amazon. There’s a funky shooting star popsicle mold, the nostalgic favorite rocket pop mold (above) and a groovy pop...

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Woodstock is back, and he’s shilling for Earth

Growing up in the Snoopy generation, I certainly had no idea that the Red Baron was some war reference, and no understanding of the whole Marcie-Peppermint Patty lesbian theory. But I did spent countless sleepover parties with my girlfriends, cooing over Woodstock and how cute he was and how we loved him and wished he was real and would come live with us. Junk Food has just brought my favorite cartoon bird back on a Woodstock kids’ tee — with an eco message no less, just in time for Earth Week next week. Heck, if I had only known...

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The baby gift that makes the ovaries hurt. Thanks a lot, Marie Chantal.

I am done with having babies. For real. But I have to admit, when I come across something as utterly delicious as this velour angel wing snapsuit from luxury kids label Marie-Chantal, it does give me pause. But no. NO. I’m standing firm here. All I need is a good friend who I can justify buying this insanely adorable one-piece for. Not only is it beyond lovely in white, blue or pale pink, and soft as a baby lamb wrapped in cashmere swaddled in cotton balls, the angel wings baby coverall comes spectacularly presented in a beautiful little keepsake...

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The Club Med Vacation: Only more appealing now that kids stay free

I learned early on that family vacations tend to be something you do for your children. [Ahem, fill in theme park of choice here.] Not so Club Med. In recent years the company has converted nearly all of their properties from places that singles went to be…very single, into incredible all-inclusive family friendly resorts. The kind that parents not only don’t mind going to, but you weep openly when you leave. As a testament to their commitment to families, Club Med has got a super promotion now where kids stay free.  (I know!) So if you’re looking to get...

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Now that we’ve named the baby, what do we name the grandparents?

You can’t imagine the debates that went on in our household when it came to naming the grandparents for the first time. If you start factoring in inlaws and the inlaws’ inlaws, and everyone’s different traditions and expectations, it’s amazing we came to any agreement at all. We certainly could have used You Can Call Me Hoppa: The Grandparents’ Guide to Choosing a Name That Fits by mom Lauren Charpio back in 2005. It’s one part thought starter, one part grandparent keepsake. And in fact it would be a great little grandparent gift as a way to announce a...

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Tweed: In. Cool.

CMP fave indie handbag designer Crystalyn Kae has taken the plunge into tweed and I’m not complaining a bit. The fabric formerly known as stuffy gets a fabulous makeover with Crystalyn’s innovative shapes, judicious use of hardware, and contrasting accent fabrics. Her pleated clutch with vintage fabric kick pleats is awesome for those rare nights that you’re not toting baby bottles and a change of diapers. But if you need something more substantial the troubadour tote is both practical and totally on trend. Marc Jacobs, eat your heart out. –Liz Save 10% of purchases with code FALL through...

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Grooving on Gruv Kitty Jewelry

My latest artisan affection is aimed across the country towards LA painter Regina Allen, who’s now scavenging for all kinds of antique beads and pendants and refashioning them into very fun, very affordable jewelry at her etsy shop, GruvKitty. Her signature pieces are sweet little drop earrings made with vintage lampworked glass beads and layered with unusual accent beads. These are not “oh look, I took a beading class at the Y” earrings. Her newest endeavor incorporates mid-century plastic beads into kitchy, colorful pieces that would have made my Great Aunt Bea proud. Not surprisingly, the creativity runs in...

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Peapod makes shopping easy for parents with allergic kids

I find that reading labels is hard enough when I’m trying to figure out which cereal has less fat, or whether sugar is hidden in yogurt using some sixteen-syllable code name. But when you’ve got a kid with serious allergies, keeping an eye out for certain ingredients is absolutely essential. Peapod by Stop & Shop, which already delights northeastern families with their online grocery shopping and home delivery service, has a most excellent feature called NutrifFilter, as we’ve recently learned. Basically you select a filter to highlights items that are gluten-free or low fat or on Weight Watchers (and...

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TruffleBeads: absolutely delicious

When I find jewelry that’s handmade, supports women in other countries, and is absolutely something you’d buy whether or not it was handmade and supported women in other countries, that’s my kind of jewelry. And those were my very thoughts when I first discovered TruffleBeads. Handmade glass beads are turned into very contemporary necklaces, earrings and bracelets by the Zulu women of South Africa, all in wonderful color combos, and brought over for our shopping pleasure by a design-savvy mom/daughter team. I’m particularly digging the colorful chokers but I wouldn’t need much convincing to sport one of the conversation-starting...

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Airline nostalgia is in the bag

I can only imagine that flying with the fam used to be a whole lot better than it is today. You could push a stroller right through that metal detector, bring all the juice from home that you desired, and once on board, the kids got to visit the cockpit, eat some bad but free food, and spend the flight playing Go Fish with their free set of airline cards wearing a free fabulous airline pin. Besides, the flight attendants’ outfits were fabulous. If you’ve got a flying nostalgia thing like I do, you’ll love the swanky new line...

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Poo-Pourri: The $9.95 Marriage Saver

When you get a pitch for something called Poo-Pourri you think it’s a joke. Maybe a teaser for a Will Ferrell movie or an April Fool’s email that got lost in the ether for three months. But holy cow, it’s for real…and it’s good. Very good. The whole idea is that you spray inside the bowl before you…go. The all-natural formula of essential oils like lemongrass and grapefruit basically creates a barrier, trapping in any unladylike odors. Or ungentlemanlike, as the case is around our sad little one-bathroom apartment. (Sorry, hon. It’s true.) While the pitch was absurd–something about...

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Environmentalists, turn on your solar-powered laptops

I do like a lot of the educational cartoons on TV today, but c’mon! Where’s the Schoolhouse Rock of the 21st century? Where are the shows that try to break down the electoral process, explain the constitution or tackle global warming? Aha. Enter Heartwood USA, a new series of animated shorts featuring a twelve year-old detective and her best friend who take on the planet’s bullies and environmental do-badders. Kids will get the humor and appreciate the messages, and certainly the high quality animation – producer and writer Shane Keats has a background in hard-core journalism, and director of...

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Great Outdoors Cookies from Eleni’s Happy Camper Week on Cool Mom Picks:

We’ve been getting so many requests for camp picks now that some of those babies are growing up we thought it would be fun to set you up with some of our favorites this week. Happy camping!   I still remember my first “care package” sent to me at overnight camp and how exciting it was to not only get mail, but mail that had food in it. Instant popularity. Eleni’s bakery can help you hook up your favorite campers with the ultimate care package via their awesome Great Outdoors collection. of all-natural cookies. Whether your kid is homesick...

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Cakes That Truly Take the Cake

Open Matthew Mead’s new Cakes for Kids cookbook and you’ll experience a combination of awe and complete intimidation. It’s as if my inner competimommy is saying Yes! We can make this! while my inner Peggy Bundy is like Are you freaking kidding me? 35 gorgeous technicolor photos demonstrate how flour, butter, eggs and sugar, in the right combos (and with the right decorating tools and probably with the right professional food stylist) can become a spectacular rainbow, grasshopper, candy-filled treasure chest or eye-popping beach ball. These recipes are not for the confectionarily-challeged; while the directions seem fairly clear and...

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