Author: Liz Gumbinner

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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Eco shopping bags get less crunchy by the minute

I am very happy to get wind of Baggu bags, the reusable shopper that comes in colors so fabulous, it’s all the evidence you need that this eco-bag thing is not a trend going away anytime soon. The swanky nylon bags were designed by a mom-daughter team and they’re a far cry from the free PBS tote bag you’ve been stashing in the car. More versatile too – they fold up small and flat, then unfold to hold up to three plastic bags’ worth of groceries or about 25 pounds. That’s a whole lot of organic heirloom tomatoes. I...

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Boys Get the Grills in the Back

Feminism and other gender equality issues aside, I’m more than happy to relegate the grilling to the sigOth. Men just have some primal need to play with fire, and I’m more than happy to let them. My guy would totally love Grill Charms, which is a smart little thingamabobby for chefs serious about their bbq. Invented by mom (and breast cancer survivor) Leslie Haywood, Grill Charms basically look like little thumbtacks to help differentiate the meat on the grill or on the buffet table- same concept as a wine glass charm. Use the steak collection to indicate cooking temperature...

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Biodegradable disposable diapers? It can be done.

Let’s face it, greener isn’t always easier. I think we all want to be the best eco-moms we can, but for me there was no way I was venturing into the world of cloth diapering. My guilt has just been assuaged however with a fantastic find: Nature Babycare Diapers, spotted at the wonderful online eco-boutique, Cooler Choices. After trying them out on both my baby and my toddler I can give an honest assessment. Pros: They’re breathable, compostable, and free of oil-based plastics, latex, chlorine and fragrance. Most importantly, they do what they’re supposed to do, all without having...

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A Baby Blanket Just for Their Heads

I confess, I’m one of those "crazy" moms who’s taken all three of my newborns out and about right away. If they can come home from the hospital, then they can come to the grocery store, the mall, and the park too. I refuse to be stuck with cabin fever, especially as the weather warms up. The only problem? How to protect that brand-new baby skin from the sun. I’ve found one solution in Baby Blanket Suncare. Their Tender Scalps Spray is ingenious. Spray it on, smooth it down (or spike it into a mohawk), and voila – that...

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Kitsch me like you mean it

I have a thing for chunky, loud, way-too-full charm bracelets, ever since I inherited one from my super cool Great Aunt Bea. Along those lines, the baby-themed vintage-style charm bracelet from artist Crystal Rendon that we spotted at The Baby Gardner. This is definitely more kitsch than classic, but that’s totally why I like it. More than 30 charms give it each one-of-a-kind bracelet the proper jingle-jangle effect, including glass beads, little pacifiers and rattles, and illustrated charms featuring ye olde time-y bonnet-clad babies. For just $48, the bracelet such a great new mom or soon-to-be-mom Mother’s Day gift....

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Flowers for Mothers Day? Oh yeah.

I have to seriously stop clicking over to Twig, because every time I do my covet list gets a little longer. Also because I could write forty posts just about what’s for sale there and then suddenly this will be the Cool Twig Picks blog. (Which, come to think of it, isn’t so bad.) But this choker-length flower necklace of mixed metals from UK jewelry artist Laura Baxter? I just can’t resist. Especially when those metals are sterling, 18k and rose gold forming 15 little flowers nestled along a substantial chain. The limited edition piece is feminine without being...

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The Glass Sipper

We’re always looking out for safer, non-leaching plastic baby bottle alternatives, like the ones from Green to Grow and my own baby’s choice, Adiri.  But I know that some moms are like Ack, plastic! Plastic is the devil! Plastic will come to earth, eat our brains and kill us all! And hey, they may be right. Even so, I’m a bit reluctant to make the leap to glass. You know, it being glass and all. Until I got a load of the Wee-Go bottles from Go Baby Life. [EDITED UPDATE: They are now called Lifefactory Bottles, available at our...

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Green. Practically.

If you love the idea of being that cool mom who brings her own canvas tote to the convenience store – but know that you never in a million years will be able to cram a canvas tote in your already overstuffed diaper bag – have we got a solution for you. The Flip and Tumble 24-7 bag was designed by two Stanford design program grad students and it’s a totally smart and stylish way to get a little greener. Basically it’s this sturdy but crazy lightweight, sweet little tote that scrunches up and tucks inside its own inside...

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Minimizing to the max

After a day of lugging around The Diaper Bag That Can Hold Everything and Often Does, I am more than excited to head out for a rare night on the town with nothing on my shoulders but a spritz of No.5. Oddly, motherhood has turned me into a clutch girl. Hooray for the new pleated clutches from CMP rock star handbag designer, Crystalyn Kae. They’re as amazing and original as her matching pleated drawstring bag that we raved about here last year, made with the same faux leather exterior with contrasting vintage fabric pleats. The wrist strap even comes...

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Killing two New Year’s resolutions with one fashionable stone

I know that the time for New Year’s resolutions which I mostly end up breaking are still a few weeks away. But some of them are going to require a little advance planning so I can be ready to hit the ground running on the 1st. First on my list, making a better commitment to eco-ing up my place. So plastic grocery bags out…tote bags in.   So I have my eye on this beautiful limited edition tote from mom/pop-run San Fran label, Bunny and Bee. I knew the shop designed über-hip original kids tees, but had no idea...

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Ooohhhh….glassy.

I’m all about necklaces these days. If I grab one piece of jewelry before I race out of the house –late, as always–it’s going to be something that draws attention towards the boobs and away from the undereye bags. Darn newborns. I’m thinking about adding one of artist Jen Land’s very pretty little glass pendants to my growing collection. Jen does all the glasswork herself, creating bright, happy color combos in her symbolic Love Blooms collection (mamas will get it right away), or fun Modern/Retro collection with graphic designs like a swanky atomic starburst dangling from a satin cord,...

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Ordering french fries isn’t actually speaking French

Bilingual educational tools are all the rage in the US these days and The Cool Mom Picks editors have certainly come across our share of DVDs, CDs, books and other tools to get kids speaking everything from Spanish to…well, not Sanskrit. Yet. One of the cooler options we’ve found is the Little Pim series of foreign languge DVDs. Their creator, Julia Pimsleur-Levine is both a documentary filmmaker and the daughter of an acclaimed language professor and it’s clear from the quality that she knows her stuff. When my daughter said, "Mommy, panda video again!" after the first watching I...

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