Category: Kitchen + Dining

The power of restaurant placemats now at your dinner table

I’ve long thought about how to channel the power of the restaurant paper placemats in my own home so that we can all enjoy a pleasant meal. In other words, one in which the kids are occupied while I’m busy cutting their food into a billion pieces. Well the folks at Modern Twist have done just that with their super awesome kidz placemats. You won’t find the C-list cartoon characters, mazes, and word jumbles of the restaurants’ paper mats; on the contrary, you’ll find amazing original artwork from some of the coolest indie artists, all silkscreened onto food-grade silicone...

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One less thing for me to nag my kids about. I like that.

Those of you with little ones probably cannot imagine the day when your tween despairingly announces that her glasses make her look like “a total dork,” but I’m here to tell you that it happens. And suddenly your kid is big enough to wear contact lenses, and yes, she promises to take good care of them and wash them properly and be mature and careful and… what? How long has she been wearing that pair? Um… a while? LensAlert just banished the last of the Lens Wars from my household, because while I don’t think it’s that hard to...

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Lunch punch to the school lunch rescue!

It’s only a week into school around here in the deep south, and already I hear a lot of my mom friends complaining that they’ve exhausted their lunchmaking tricks. Well, thanks to the new lunch punch styles, there’s no need to throw in the towel just yet. Whether your kiddo is just anti-crust or you’re looking for a way to spice up that same old PB ‘n J, the these cookie cutter-type punches are made just for sandwiches and we’ve loved them since we first found them last year. I’ll probably snag both of the new styles from sandwishes...

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Possibly the coolest thing to put a drink on, ever.

I’m in love with a set of drink coasters if such a thing is even possible. But when I spotted these handmade film director coasters on Etsy this morning, my heart started racing, my palms got all sweaty, and I think, my friends, that that sounds like love. The fabulous original portraits from the uber talented Retro Whale shop range from Tim Burton and Sophia Coppola, to classics like Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese. All things being equal, I don’t know that I want Roman Polanski in my set but the good news is you can mix and match...

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Tea towels aren’t just for tea lovers

I always thought of tea towels to be completely prim and proper, but that’s absolutely not the case with the gorgeous block printed tea towels at Fisk and Fern.  The bright inviting designs are printed on absorbent 100% cotton which evidently is supposed to work just as well as paper towels, which makes the eco-ista in me even more intrigued. While these handmade tea towels make a lovely hostess gift, I say get them for yourself. It’s fabulous way to put a little zing back into your kitchen decor this spring without paying anywhere near the price of a...

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The princess and the peas. And carrots. Probably ice cream too.

I have accepted the whole princess thing that has definitely turned into a Princess Thing around here as of late. But I’m still having trouble embracing…you know. The princesses. The ones with the skinny waistlines and luxurious hair and faces on licensed merchandise from electric toothbrushes to diaper wipes. So when I got a look at the new French Bull Princess dishware for kids, I literally gasped. Oh joy! These colorful melamine plates, shallow cereal bowls and cups are adorable, multicultural, and lead to just as much healthy fantasizing as the big brand products. They also lead to as...

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Of finger foods, flip-tops, and fingernails

You know that whole “kill three birds with one stone” thing? Well, Zo-li, the small company offering safe, green solutions to parenting problems, has conveniently solved three of my biggest problems with one Fedex shipment. First of all, we have the Case of the Constant Snacker. My kid’s a bottomless pit, but we’re always on the road. Zo-li’s eco-friendly answer is the on-the-go, a cute and convenient 4-part snacking system that’s BPA and pthalate free and comes with an easy-pour spout for formula users. Retailing at $15, it also makes a great toy and one-at-a-time cereal dispenser when you’re...

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Child labor – yet another benefit of parenthood

I have to appreciate any shop with the cajones to put out something called the Child Labour Collection; but then again, I’d expect nothing less from our irreverent friends across the pond at Twisted Twee. I’m laughing at the silkscreen tea towel featuring a rewards chart that suggests washing the cups and saucers are worth 10 minutes of TV, and the cutlery earns one extra bedtime story. But what I really like are the towels that say Princesses Dry it Best and This is a Job for Dryer Man! Grab one of each, give your kids their “special towel,”...

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Placemats that put the eating back into family dinner

Regardless of what type of activities we bring with us to the table when we eat out, we still only ever get about 10 minutes of peaceful eating time. And that’s on a good night. If you feel my pain, you’ll want to invest in a few pairs of the Hello Hanna get-set placemats. These adorable paper stock mats feature a silhouette of an actual place setting and a place for kids to write their name, along with a different pop-up character (like my fave, the robot – pictured) plus a set of stickers that your kiddos can use...

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Chilewich, and your table is set

I’ve been a fan of Chilewich pretty much since designer Sandy Chilewich first launched the line of woven vinyl decor and accessories in 2000. I’ve always had to track her stuff down at small home boutiques and museum stores where the selection is generally limited. But now with the brand new launch of the Chilewich online store you can browse what’s new and cool right from home. The earthy, modern Chilewich placemats grace my own table and I love them because they not only look great, they wipe clean in a sec; although because they’re woven, you will have...

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Crust haters of the world, your day has come!

Before I had kids, I vowed that I would force them to eat the crusts on their sandwiches.. And then I had children who hated crusts. Now I’m eating their crusts and my words. With the Lunch Punch, you kill two birds with one stone — cutting off the crusts while making a sandwich in a cute shape your kids will eat. These sandwich cutters are actually taller than cookie cutters so they cut through both pieces of bread without flattening your sandwich. And since they’re shaped like puzzle pieces or animals, think about how cool you’ll look when...

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Somewhere between melamine and the wedding china

When my kid were old enough to stop smacking their cereal bowls with their hands to flip them, I was excited to trade up from the melamine dish set we had. Besides, I was getting kind of tired of the same bright orange every day. I think what I had envisioned was something like the beautiful ceramic dish set for kids from notNeutral. The coordinated bowl, plate and cup in the modern transport set is just adorable, and kids will love that little airplane surprise on the bottom if they finish all their mac n cheese. (Or is that...

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Safe glass dishes for kids. Finally. Finally!

Since all the issues with BPA surfaced, I, like many of you, have been on the search for safe glass kids dishes. But the combination of glass and two rambunctious kiddos means that they’d need to include some Xanax in the package. I am beyond excited to have discovered Zoeborganics’ new Kidishes, a set of kid-friendly tempered glass dishes that are both dishwasher safe and microwave friendly. That means no heating things up in a ceramic or glass and then transferring to BPA-free plastic. Plus, I like the idea of my kids, especially my five-year old, eating off “real”...

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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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Earth Day Pick – Worried about melamine in your children’s plates? Yeah, so are we.

When I first discovered Smiling Planet, I was instantly smitten by this mom and pop company’s avid commitment to teaching children respect for the environment through artful, eco-friendly housewares. Essentially Freddy and Olivia Deane have devised a way to make dishes out of a recycled polypropylene plastic that’s free of BPA, Phthalates, melamine and all that other stuff you hear about in scary news stories these days. Even the packaging is eco-d up the whazoo. Each plate features a different illustration from the Smiling Planet children’s book they designed about being good to the Earth. Take a look and...

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Tea parties on the other side of childhood

You know what is a sign that a mom has it all together? Perfect hair. And freshly vacuumed floors. Thank-you notes sent in a timely manner. I have none of those. I do, however, have children who seem to like me and charming linen tea towels like the ones from Brooklyn-based Jewelweeds. When I hang one of my favorites I feel like I have paid attention to myself, to my home, to the life that I live as a mom. Green and graceful, Julia White’s eco-friendly linen designs are inspired by a childhood spent outdoors. She considers the environment...

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1,2,3,4 Tell me that you love (my napkins) more

I have this dream. In this dream, my house is always organized, dog hair is contained on the actual dog, cushions are kept on the couch, and I frequently host elegant cocktail parties attended just by adults who speak about current events in hushed tones. This dream isn’t coming true anytime soon, but just in case, I’m going to be prepared with these awesome cocktail napkins by Butterfly and Company. Each napkin is unique, so guests can easily identify their drink, and I love the numerical theme. Even if you never get to entertain real live adults, you can...

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Keeping the peace with personalized plates. And maybe a whistle.

I can’t even believe my household has entered the phase of Nooooo that’s MY plate! I’m not sure exactly what makes my daughter think a certain piece of dishware is hers besides the fact that her sister touched it first, but I’m going to try and nip this one in the bud. Might be wishful thinking, but I figure if the personalized melamine plates from LA Plates don’t solve the problem, nothing will. I’m particularly liking the preppy stripe design in your choice of colors and typeface. Personalize it with your kids’ names or a monogram to heed off...

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Comic Book Fans, Start Your Appetites

When I got married (the first time… ahem), we received endless items from Crate and Barrel. And don’t get me wrong, it’s all very useful stuff, but… well… plain. Boring. So color me surprised to see that C&B’s younger, hipper sibling, CB2, has spawned a trio of comic book plates that make my heart sing. Actually, they make my heart go *BIF* *BAM* *KAPOW*. But why split hairs? These are real porcelain dishes — not plastic or melamine — which means they’re dishwasher- and microwave-safe. The smaller appetizer size means they’re perfect for transitioning slightly older kids to real...

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Picnic Week: Cool Handmade Napkins and Eco-Tableware

While in the great outdoors, someone once said, Take Only Memories, Leave Only Footprints, which is really a polite way of saying, Don’t You Dare Throw That Cup On The Ground, Bucko. If only everyone heeded this, my picnics in the park would not be marred by the errant soda can or piece of litter. So we suggest you do your part the next time you decide to dine al fresco by packing beautiful cloth napkins and colorful plates, cups and cutlery that’s meant to come back home with you. Using cloth napkins is practical since you can just...

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Mmmm…Baby Seals

Bringing the circus to our home is a little redundant, but these circus animal cookie cutters are making me consider it. They create detailed, bite-sized animals like a seal with a ball on his nose or a lion with a giant mane.  And, since I cannot do anything in the kitchen without an eager face appearing and asking, “can I do too?” I appreciate that these cookie cutters are made for little hands to operate: The molds have a spring-loaded button that pushes the design into the dough and then releases it.  The good people at Williams–Sonoma have even taken...

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High Tea, Hold the Snootiness

I’ve come to look forward to my daily afternoon tea (timed ever so carefully to coincide with my kids’ daily breakdown). So it’s no surprise that when I saw the eco-friendly tea towels from Hammocks and High Tea, my interest was piqued.   Combining organic cotton and solvent free inks, Brooklyn artist Karen Young has infused her modern sensibility with a love of tropical design. The tea towels, like the Parrot Cove design in particular, feature bright cheerful patterns that dispel the image of a stuffy Victorian ritual. Grab a few for when you need the perfect hostess gift. I’m betting she’ll love these...

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BYO Kids’ Placemats

Going out to dinner with the kids can give me indigestion even before the food arrives. That is why I am in love with Doodles at Dinner, a smart solution for “the itchies” that strike kids who are forced to sit still at a restaurant table. Even if all you can find in your diaper bag is a broken crayon, your kids will have fun sketching mini works of art on the 36 tear-off sheets, following instructions like how to take a number 4; and turn it into a heron. Be sure to leave a few of these masterpieces...

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One Way to Distract Them From the Overcooked Meatloaf

So say your name is Matte Stephens. And say you’re this way-cool, modern artist. Wouldn’t it only be a matter of time before your original Mattes are matted on a mat? We’re thinking that’s an obvious yes. This new limited edition placemat collection from Modern-Twist features two of Matte Stephens’ well known designs – the monster (orange) and the owl (mustard). And the silicone is completely washable, so this may be your only chance to feel good about your kids smearing ketchup on a limited edition masterpiece. Or Mattesterpiece? Snatch yours up from one of our favorite online destinations,...

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