Tuesday, July 16, 2013

America, The Beautiful! A Kid's Room Map That Serves as Decor, Learning Tool and Travel Journal

We didn't have a nursery set up for Greyson because we moved apartments 10 days after Greyson was born.  That was fun.

I would never choose to move at such a crazy time again, but living without all the baby stuff in place before Greyson's birth did make me realize that newborns really don't need that much stuff and it's sort of fun to figure out the baby's room after their born, rather than before.  That way, you're decorating with a sense of the baby's personality and what they might respond to.

I always liked maps as decorations, but a post about decorating kid's rooms with maps we saw on Apartment Therapy prompted our idea for Greyson's room.  I'm pretty sure this was the post.  We liked the idea of putting a colorful map in Greyson's room, but we wanted to do it ourselves and we wanted it to be a record of his travels, too.  It'll be fun for Greyson to see all the places he's been when he grows up.  I want to fun things to help Greyson remember his trips and adventures.  I loved the below idea from designer Cynthia Rowley in a recent NYT magazine interview.

Q. Do you bring anything special for your kids? 
A. For each big trip that we do, I buy journals, these little Pearl Paint ones that come in a pack, and markers and tape. My daughters can tape in things like exotic bird feathers, maps from the guides, pressed flowers or, like for this trip, a wildebeest hair. I write on the front their names, the date, the destination. The ones from Kenya and Tanzania are still circulating show-and-tell; eventually they’ll go on their bookshelves with the others.

We painted the map for Greyson when he was 12 months old

We made Greyson's map a year ago, and we're still very happy with it as room decor, but also as a learning and memory tool.  Greyson knows about 10 of the states and we use the map to talk about where we've gone and where we're going.  It helps that the map is above his changing table, so he constantly looking at it.

Here's video of Greyson, who turned 2 on July 1, interacting with the map in his room.  He knows several of the states, mostly the ones that are at his eye-level.  Ha!

Here's how we made the map!

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Great Salad to Make During A Heatwave: Roberto's Mexcellent Salad

This is the dish I make when it's too hot too cook and I want something fast, flavorful and healthy.  It's my husband's bean salad.  We eat this alone, on top of greens, with chicken, without chicken...we've taken it to potlucks and it's great as a leftover since it tastes even better the next day.

Rob made this bean salad for me while we were dating.  He thought I was flattering him when I ooh'd and ahh'd over it, but I was serious.  It's a great salad!  Six years later, I still love it.  I think all guys should know it so they can impress their girlfriends with it.

Of course the salad would taste great with fresh corn and beans you cooked at home, but the beauty of this dish is that it tastes great even when the main ingredients are from a can or frozen.

Here's what you need!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Pin This Idea! Sometimes All You Need Is A Frame To Make A Cute Little Souvenir

People used to cut themselves on the edges of the admissions pins that they used at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  That's one of the random tidbits I learned when I volunteered in the Met's Greek and Roman galleries in 2010 and 2011.  But, I liked the pins and kept a little stash of them.  I thought I'd frame them as a souvenir of my time working at the museum.  It wasn't until I heard the news about the demise of the metal pin, that I finally motivated to get them out of a ziploc bag and into a frame.

Last week, the Met stopped using the metal pins, replacing them with stickers, because of the rising cost of metal. 

Rob and I used a $14.99 frame from Ikea and some $3 gray pastel paper from the art supply store to make a cool piece to hang in our hall.  We like these types of souvenirs!

Here's how we made our Met Pin piece and what it looked like in the end.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bathing Suit for Two: The Best Non-Maternity Maternity Bathing Suit on the Market

I always break a sweat in the fitting room when I'm bathing suit shopping.  The fitting rooms are always so hot and then you're trying to unfurl spandex over your body in a tiny space.  Bathing suit shopping and jean shopping are my least favorite things to shop for because you have to try on 100 things in a tiny room to find maybe one that you like. 

But, maternity bathing suit shopping was easy because I found one suit online, tried it on at home and it was perfect.  I've worn the same suit for both pregnancies and even in between.  The suit I found has a lot of stretch and ruching on the sides, so it really fits a wide range of sizes without distorting.  When I was planning a trip to Miami for when I was 22 weeks pregnant with Greyson in 2011, I saw that my friend Steph had a cute retro polka-dotted maillot and I thought it might work as a maternity bathing suit.

I was right!  And with a few clicks, I was ready for fun in the sun in Miami for our babymoon.

Since the company I got the bathing suit from had (and still has) a flexible return policy, I bought the suit in a bunch of sizes and colors to try on.  It was a guessing game trying to figure out what size I should buy, but I ended up going four sizes up from a 6 (when not pregnant) to a 14.  That worked out well for me.  I've comfortably worn the suit through all stages of my pregnancy.
The red was a little to Minnie Mouse for me

I take it as a good sign that the company still sells the same bathing suit today.  It's a classic shape and the quality is great.

Here's the suit and where to get it.  Also, here's what it looks like on me at 22 weeks and 30 weeks.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Thought-You-Didn't-Need-a-Laminator Laminator Idea: Cute Name Tags/Gift Tags!

I have a good time laminating.  It's fun.  Laminating makes things on paper feel more special and permanent.  Before I had my very own laminator, Rob and I laminated some flash cards for Greyson at a local copy shop.  And that was fine to go to a few blocks away to get something laminated.  I just never would have thought to buy a laminating machine.  We're not big on buying lots of stuff, especially appliances that take up space and aren't essential.  But, when my brother got me a laminating machine and a big box of laminating paper for my birthday, I was stoked!  I was looking around my house for things to laminate, like a cheetah hunts for its prey. 

For our first project, Rob and I made little nametags that also served as gift tags for the kids who came to Greyson's birthday party.

We thought the nametags would be good for lunch bags or boxes, scooters, backpacks and that sort of thing.  Greyson uses his on his cute, penguin-shaped insulated lunch bag that his friend Ivy gave him for his birthday.

Here's how we made laminated name tags/gift tags and some tips for making them look cute and not amateurish:

 Steps we took to laminate our own name tags/gift tags:

-First, we took the image that Rob designed for the birthday party invitation, printed many copies out small and cut them up into the individual sizes.  We used a corner rounder, (ours is this one from Muji, but it didn't work on the plastic well) which really helped a lot to make the tags look polished and professional.  I also think that using one very graphic image on a bold color makes the tag look nice.

-We wrote the first names of the kids on each of the penguin labels.  When Greyson goes to school this September, I'll probably add my phone number to some of his name tags, so that if his stuff gets lost, there's a chance we'll get it back.

-We lined up all of the tags, making sure there was atleast 1/4" in between all of the tags, so the lamination seal wouldn't be broken.

-We use scissors to cut the individual tags from the laminating sheet.  Then we used the scissors to round the corners.

-We used a heart-shaped hole punch in the corner and fed a ball chain through it.  You can get ball chains on Amazon.  I was very excited about how the tags turned out.  I thought they were super cute.

-We then used the tags on the favor bags for the kids who came to Greyson's birthday party.

This is just the beginning of my laminating adventures, so get ready for more posts on how to seal fun things in between plastic sheets.  If you have any fun ideas for things to laminate, please share them in the comments!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Know Before You Go: Read This Before Going to Storm King Art Center with Babies or Toddlers

Us frolicking with Alexander Calder: "Black Flag" 1974, Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York

It's definitely different ballgame going to Storm King with a kid vs. without. We picked a really hot day for Greyson's first jaunt to Storm King, but we were going to be in the area with a Zipcar for the day anyway, and thought Greyson would have fun running around the sculpture park, so we went for it.  Rob and I had been to Storm King before, too, so we didn't feel like we had to spend hours seeing everything again.

I could have planned a little better for our trip in the heat!  Here are the things you really don't want to forget if you're going to Storm King with babies or toddlers!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summer in the City: How to Open A Fire Hydrant in New York

Is it legal?  Does the city come and open up the hydrant for you?  Do you need a permit?  These are the questions one of my curious neighbors asked me when we opened up a fire hydrant last weekend, on July 4.  It was the first time I had ever opened a hydrant even though I've lived in New York since 1996, so I had the same questions as my neighbor when I saw hydrants open.

I had learned recently that it's legal to open the hydrants if you have a sprinkler cap, also called a safety cap, to minimize the water wastage.  The sprinkler caps are given out for free at fire houses, so I picked one up a few weeks ago.  The fire fighter explained to me how to open up the hydrant using the sprinkler cap.  Maybe the old rule was that the fire department had to come and open up the hydrant for you, but the fire fighter I spoke with said it's not the case.  You just need a wrench and the sprinkler cap.

Picking up a sprinkler cap at our local firehouse.  The nice firefighter gave Greyson an FDNY hat and coloring book.
The novelty and New Yorkiness of turning on a hydrant and playing in it was appealing to us.  And a hot 4th of July day was the perfect day for our inaugural hydrant opening.

Here are the steps for opening up a fire hydrant.  And how to figure out how to sight the styles of fire hydrants you can't/aren't supposed to open.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Who Knew: How To Make Pizza on the Grill in Minutes

Grill Meets Pizza!  True Love!

There are really only a few things you always hear about cooking on the grill:  cuts of meats, certain vegetables and even some fruit.  But, I've never been invited over to someone's house for grilled pizza!  Rob and I grilled our first pizza tonight and I can't believe grilling pizza isn't as popular as grilling burgers.

I've made pizza dough, which is very easy to do, but when I'm in the mood for pizza, I don't want to work for it.  I live a block away from a pizza place and they sell their dough balls for $3.00, so I just pick up a ball there and it makes two round 13" pizzas.  That's how I make my express pizza in the oven.

Grilled pizza is even better because you don't have to heat up your whole house, the pizza cooks up in five minutes, and you get that grilled flavor.

Here are the steps to grilled pizza deliciousness and our lessons learned.

Dang, did this delicious food come off of my grill?