Sunday, March 31, 2013

What Goes In An American Easter Basket?

Greyson's Easter basket from us had some Easter books, a pinwheel, a toy trumpet, fun straws, airplane toys

The past couple weeks, I've been checking out a lot of blogs written by American expats who live in France since we're visiting there soon.  I noticed some posts like this one related to Easter in France, which interested me.  It's sort of fun to read how other people celebrate holidays like Easter around the world.  So, I thought I'd do a post on American Easter baskets, a cute tradition for kids.

Really, anything that fits into a basket can be given in an Easter basket.  I guess the only common denominator among American Easter baskets is that there will be chocolate (unless you're us and you put no sugar added fruit leathers in your toddler's basket...boring, ha!) and there will be treats or toys in the shape of bunnies, eggs, and chicks.   And usually the candies and eggs are in Easter colors, which are springy pastels or brights.  Even though people often dye eggs for Easter, I've never actually seen them in a basket.  You'll usually see plastic eggs that people buy empty and fill with candy or little toys.  You definitely don't see bacon or lit candles.

We dyed these eggs the week before Easter, but they just got eaten throughout the week

Saturday, March 30, 2013

I Am Loving Smitten Kitchen for Can't Fail Recipes That I File As Keepers

My husband liked the Smitten Kitchen sour cream bran muffins so much that he ate five of them!

I just like her!  I like Deb Perelman's taste in food, her personality, her approach to cooking with fewer bowls, her obsessiveness with the recipes she posts on and in her cookbook, and that she has vegetarian recipes with substance.  I'm not a vegetarian, but I'm really interested in cooking with less meat (and not being hungry an hour later).  Oddly, I only discovered her after her cookbook came out last fall.

Review: Brooklyn Heights Pierrepont Playground Easter Egg Hunt

Last year, for Greyson's first Easter, we went to Trinity Church's Easter Festival and Egg Hunt in Manhattan.  We would have gone back again this year armed with the lessons we learned, but, the church didn't have an Easter party this year.

We found Easter festivities closer to us in Brooklyn, though, and went to the Brooklyn Heights Playground Committee's Easter Party and egg hunt.  The location and timing was perfect for us since Greyson has a gymnastics class in Brooklyn Heights on Saturday mornings.

Before the gates to the Pierrepont Playground opened at 10 am, there was an insane line that stretched about three blocks long.  I didn't know what to expect, but once the gates opened at a little after 10 am, the line started moving...and kept moving, which I was happy about.  They let everyone in, so the playground got packed with hundreds of people pretty quickly, but it never got out of control.

Here's what I saw:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Get Picnic-Ready with the Best Lightweight Picnic Blanket

We're getting ready for a trip to Paris, where we plan to spend a lot of time in the parks.  Also, spring and summer in New York City with 21-month old Greyson is going to mean lots of picnics and playdates in the park.  Last summer, I used sarongs, an old tablecloth and a fleece picnic blanket as  ground covers and nothing worked out.  They were too small (why is 5' x 5' considered a standard size for a picnic blanket??), picked up too much foliage and dirt or were too bulky.

So, I hit the internet to find the perfect picnic blanket.  It wasn't as quick and easy as it should have been, but I found it!  Actually, I got two types...a lightweight one for travel and the beach and a thicker one for use around New York, where I want more cushioning from the twigs and hypodermic needles.  But today, I want to talk about the perfect lightweight picnic blanket because I'm super excited about it!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: Best Instant Coffee! There is Such a Thing!

Nescafé Clásico instant coffee reminds me of my Korean grandmother.  Whenever I'd visit her in Seoul, coffee time meant a teaspoonful of Nescafé in one of the dainty tea cups from her vast collection, a saccharin tablet and some pumps of water from her water kettle/thermos.  Having grown up in the States where no one drinks instant coffee or uses saccharin tablets, I thought my grandmother was doing some quaint Korean grandma thing.

I always had the coffee with her to be polite, but I liked it.

After my most recent trip to Seoul in November 2012, I decided instant coffee wasn't just for Korean grandmothers.  Freeze-dried coffee has to be the most opposite thing to what's happening in New York in terms of anything you drink or eat.  It's not locally-sourced, organic, artisanal or pickled.

The thing is, I like coffee, but I don't always feel like making it.  Sometimes I want my coffee to be as fast as tea.  Boil some water and it's done.  Yes, I can be so lazy, I don't even want to get out a filter and pour the water over my coffee dripper that looks like this one.  And I don't want to have to wash it and throw away the used filter either.  That's lazy!  Yeah, so instant coffee isn't my preferred form of coffee, but what I might have rather than no coffee at all.

When I got back from Seoul, I bought the Nescafé Clásico.  It tasted just as I had expected it to, like an ok cup of coffee.  But, I had to know if it was the best of the most readily accessible instant coffees.  I did some googling and found some taste tests, forums and recommendations.

My husband and I did a taste test of three other instant coffees against Nescafé, which we already knew we liked.

Here's our assessment:

Friday, March 1, 2013

What the Museum of Modern Art Taught Me About The "Art" of Fire Safety

My heart squeezes and my eyes well up every time I think about the three girls and their grandparents who died in the Connecticut house fire on Christmas morning in 2011.  And when I hear a news report about a fire where people couldn't escape, it's maddening.

So, I was surprised I hadn't thought about getting a fire escape ladder for our third floor apartment until I saw one exhibited in the Architecture and Design area at MoMA.  Didn't I learn about escape ladders in my 5th grade fire safety certification class?  Is stop, drop and roll all I walked away with?