Merry Christmas!

The New York MomMerry Christmas friends! I hope you are all recovering from the whirlwind of the holiday season. We have Matt’s parents in town for a few days and the kids haven’t stopped talking and playing and loving on Grandma and Grandpa. I am pretty exhausted and checking into my 32 weeks of pregnancy and just don’t feel like moving some days. We have to switch gears over here and start getting ready for Baby number 3! So exciting.

The Christmas season always makes us all sit down, slow down, and reflect on the year that passed. We’ve had a busy year in our personal and professional lives. I have been able to bring some parts of dance and movement and choreography back into my weekly schedule – so happy for that. We had a fantastic summer with our family in Florida, Matt and I had a –no kids– vacation to Tulum, Mexico which was so heavenly. I highly recommend going places without the kids! We’ve been in our town for two years and while not one home improvement project has been started, we have made some great friends and have really enjoyed getting to know our neighbors.

The New York Mom

As with every year, we had great intentions of sending out Christmas cards this year… but again…probably not going to happen. We couldn’t even schedule a time to book a photographer to take our photos because we are all so busy. So on the way home from church this past Sunday, we made a quick stop at our local farm and propped up my iPhone on some rocks, timer set to 10 seconds… 5 photos later. DONE!

The New York Mom
Merry Christmas

Sometimes the least planned things are the best.

Living a perfectly imperfect life over here and loving every moment of it.

Best of everything to you and your loved ones this season.

 

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Big Apple Circus is Back

The bright big top was up, the excitement was thick in the air and we took our seats in the roundabout circus circle.New York’s Big Apple Circus is Back! Popcorn and cotton candy in hand, we were excited for what was in store. As the big band introduced the show and the ringleader came out never did I think we would be in for such a treat! GRANDMA is baaaack!

New York’s favorite circus, Big Apple Circus, is back and so is the iconic – Grandma The Clown! Actor Barry Lubin is the person behind Grandma and this is the 26th year for the character. Grandma is a staple in New York City show culture and I was happy to see the same character and same actor back to play this iconic role.

The Big Apple Circus filed for bankruptcy a few years ago and is now back and better than ever. Lily had seen the Big Apple Circus years ago and remembered the familiar big top. Thomas was experiencing this for the first time and was completely smitten. The big headliners are Grandma the Clown and the Wallenda Family of acrobats. In addition are the Anastasini Brothers who do flips on each other’s feet. Roller Skating with Dandino.

Lily’s favorite – Elayne Kramer the contortionist, The Flying Tunizians on the trapeze and Jenny Vidbel with her ponies, dogs, and horses.

For those of us who don’t go to the circus because of the animals and treatment of the large exotics, not to worry. The Big Apple Circus only has dogs, ponies and horses and all of these animals are rescued. Trainer Jenny Vidbel has a farm in upstate New York where these sweet animals roam in the fresh air. We loved this part of the circus. Thomas got such a kick out of seeing the little dogs riding on the mini ponies.

There were many breathtaking moments throughout the show. The Famous Wallenda Seven-Person Pyramid was heart stopping. Seven people on balance beams in a pyramid formation ON a tightrope! We were sitting right below them and it was nothing short of old-school circus magic!

Another moment that took our breath away was the trapeze act when one of the performers attempted to do a quadruple flip… one that has rarely been attempted. He didn’t make it which was just as exciting as the anticipation.

The Big Apple Circus is a MUST this holiday season. It’s the perfect circus for all ages, the small space in the round doesn’t have a single bad seat and the pace of the show is perfect for young ages.

The Big Apple Circus is at Damrosch Park in Lincoln Center. The show is up through January 7, 2018. Visit BIG APPLE CIRCUS for all the details.

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Best Christmas Tree Farms Near New York City

Best Christmas Tree Farms Near New York City

The tree is up, the stockings are hung, that elf is back at it, the outdoor decor has already lost a couple bulbs, and we are ready for the Christmas Season! Have you picked up your Christmas Tree yet? Here are my picks for the Best Christmas Tree Farms Near New York City.

The kids and I made Gingerbread houses… this did not go as planned. It was pretty much a disaster. But we did get our Christmas tree and got it up and decorated and that was a win! Thomas helped with the train under the tree and Lily helped me created a gorgeous winter village on our window sill. Have you picked up your Christmass Tree yet? I say, grab a car, your winter boots, your jackets and hats and head upstate.

Best Christmas Tree Farms Near New York City

There is so much to do in every season of the year here in the NorthEast and picking out our Christmas Tree is one of our favorite activities. This year we didn’t go to a farm to pick out our tree because my 28-week pregnant body was not having it. But we love the experience of getting hot cider and cookies at a tree farm, wagon rides, the smell of the fresh trees, picking out wreaths and garlands, and walking through the woods to pick out our tree. Some farms will even let you chop down the one you want. We’ve never done this… kids + sharp things + manual labor are not always high on my list of things to do.

I want to share some of our favorite Christmas Tree Farms for all your greens this year! Most of these are within a one hour drive from NYC with a couple being about 2 hours. But its such a gorgeous drive up the Hudson Valley into the New York Country. Go for it!

Best Christmas Tree Farms Near New York City

Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm – This is one of our favorite local farms. We go here for apple picking, pumpkin picking and it’s perfect for Christmas Tree picking too. Located in Yorktown Heights, NY this farm has so much to offer year round. You can cut your own tree or choose one from the freshly cut trees. You can also purchase garland, wreaths, crafts at one of their multiple gift shops. Wagon rides, hot chocolate, and cookies all part of this package. This is only a quick hour-ish drive from NYC.

Emmerich Tree Farm  In Warwick, NY which is about an hour and a half from NYC, Emmerich Tree Farm offers a full experience. They have 13 varieties of trees which is perfect bliss for the Christmas tree snob. ( I didn’t even know there COULD be 13 varieties) But they also have our fave variety… the Fraser Fir. More wagon rides, complimentary hot chocolate, cookies and holiday music are all part of the charm.

Best Christmas Tree Farms Near New York City

Wright Family Farm – also located in Warwick, NY is a small farm with something called a Candy Canon! What! All I can imagine is that a ton of candy gets shot out through the farm and kids everywhere get to run around and collect! Call ahead to see if this is happening the day you visit. They have lots of trees and garlands and wreaths and of course…hot chocolate and cookies for the win!

Plains View Farm   Located an hour and a half from NYC this small farm in Pleasant Valley, NY is overflowing with charm and winter spirit. They have a huge selection of trees some up to 12 feet and every single tree is $55 regardless of the size. Of course, wagon rides and hot chocolate and cookies are included!

Best Christmas Tree Farms Near New York City

Battenfelds Farm  This farm holds nothing back. If you want the whole Christmas experience with Santa, sleigh rides, hot cider, and cookies… this is the farm for you!  Bagpipers show up on select weekends and you can chop down your own tree for $70. The gift shop has table decor, ornaments and all of the goodies. This is located in Red Hook, NY which is one of our fave towns in the Hudson Valley. It’s about a 2-hour drive from NYC.

 

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Hottest Toys for Holiday 2017

IT’S HERE! THE NEW YORK MOM’S HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2017 – TOYS! Hottest Toys for Holiday 2017

I have compiled my favorite toys that the kids have been playing with for months… some since February and they still have life in them. These are our hand-picked toys that we absolutely love. The quality is great, the educational and fun factor is high and the prices are for every budget. So sit back, and start tackling that Holiday List. I’m updating this list daily so please check back often for more additions. I have included my Amazon Affiliate Link so you can easily access the Black Friday Deals on Amazon!

If you are like me, you have yet to start your holiday shopping. Not to worry the big Black Friday shop is a couple days away and I’m sure your kids are busy circling their favorite must-haves from all the store catalogs.

As you know I have been working as toy and baby gear expert for the past 5 years and know my fair share about this market. I know which toys are worth the money and which ones are duds and marketing gimmicks!  So this year, I’ve made it super simple for you by making a full list of must-have toys. Each and every one of these toys have been tested by me and the kids… and yes, most of these are in the house and some we have had since February! So after much testing and reviewing and playing with these toys I’m sharing my favorite toys for all ages for Holiday 2017!

There are building blocks and STEM toys, dolls and Hotwheels, Crafty things and even stuff for tweens and teens. I’ll be adding to the list as I go so be sure to swing back to check for updates.

My curated Tween/Teen Guide is coming up because as any parent of this age group will tell you… it’s a different beast of toys and tech gadgets!

Shop the list —> Hottest Toys for Holiday 2017!

Happy Shopping all!

 

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Halloween DIY craft – Día de Muertos themed painted skulls

It’s halloween and while we have painted and glittered our share of pumpkins, Lily and I decided to do a little something different this season.

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We picked up cardboard skulls from Michaels Arts and Crafts and glittered a few but also gave some the Día de Muertos treatment. Día de Muertos. or Day of the Dead is a mexican holiday which is observered on Nov 1st and is a celebration of family and freinds who have died.

This is also celebrated in other cultures but I love the colors and design and kitchy factor that comes with Día de Muertos.

This is a super simple Halloween craft for kids and adults, while also being educational. So let’s get to it.

You will need:

  • Cardboard Skulls
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Paint brushes especailly tiny detailed bristles brushes
  • Glitter paint
  • Martha Stewart Liquid Gilding in gold

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DIY_Halloween.JPGSteps:

  1. Give your cardboard skull a full coat of paint. You can give it a double coat if you need.
  2. Start your detailed painting. I looked at images related to Día de Muertos and took inspiration and went for it.
  3. Martha Stewarts Liquid Gilding in Gold is one of my most fave paints ever! It gives a really shiny gold-like color and blings up your skull.
  4. After you have finished painting your skull, let it dry and then add a coat of the glitter paint on top of everything. The new York Mom.JPG

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The New York Mom.JPGSince this is acrylic paint, everything dries really quickly. like in minutes.

Done! That’s it!

These are super easy to make and the end result is really impressive don’t ya think!

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Enjoy! and be sure to share your painted skulls with me.

 

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5 Weeks Until Christmas and 5 Toys You Need Now!

 

We have a little over 5 weeks before Jolly Old Saint Nicholas is going to come sliding down the chimney to drop off lots of toys for your kids! I’ve come across some really fantastic toys for this season that will appeal to kids of all ages and maybe even adults… can you say… LEGO DISNEY CASTLE! It’s stunning!

These are few of the favorites that are Thomas and Lily approved. As you know, most if not all of these toys have been tested by me and my crew… AKA Thomas and Lily… and usually Jonah gets a hold of something  and after clawing it out of his jaw… we write about it.

Disney Castle LEGO

Disney Castle Playset – LEGO – $349.00 I don’t know about the kids, but I WANT THIS. The Disney Castle play set has 4080 pieces and builds an amazingly detailed Disney Castle. This is a MUST for Disney Fans. Get it while you can… it’s selling quick!

Torch Blazin Dragon

Torch My Blazin Dragon – Hasbro $65 It’s not the Game of Thrones Khaleesi Dragons… but it’ll do for the kids. This dragon blinks and breathes fire and even “toasts’ marshmallows! Also a hot item this season… so grab it!

Thomas and Friends Mini Playset

Thomas and Friends Minis Twist and Turn Stunt Set $20  This entire line in on my Thomas’s wish list. He can’t get enough of these minis. They twist and turn and spiral back up. Thomas and Friends Minis Playset also have a whole new DC Superheros line… Thomas as Batman… believe it!

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Sky Viper Hover Racer $99.99 This hover craft is #1 on Lily’s list. It’s tough to find toys for kids as they get older so I was super excited to discover the Sky Viper. It’s a great, sturdy quality, that can handle rough play and a giant dog going after it!

Love-2-Learn-Elmo

Love2Learn Elmo HASBRO $59.99 – Just when you think you have outgrown the Elmo stage… they reel you back in. This is the new 2016 version that is bluetooth compatible. Imagine Thomas’ surprise when Elmo said his name! There is soooo much this new version of Elmo does that I could write a whole piece on it. It helps with learning alphabet, numbers, colors, silly phrases and songs… so much more! PJ Masks Headquarters Playset

PJ Masks Headquarters Playset – $69.99 Thomas is WISHING for this playset. We can’t find it anywhere!! PJ Masks – which is NOT TJ MAXX –  I thought he was saying this all along… anyway PJ MASKS is Thomas’ favorite show and if you have a toddler/preschooler then you know what I am talking about. This Headquarters Playset is all he wants and it’s sold out practically everywhere. It’s such a fun toy that has spinning parts a slide and whatever else magic that Thomas is into. No really though… if you have a PJ MASKS fan… this HAS to be under your tree. Along with every PJ MASKS toy made!

There is so much. SO PLEASE keep stopping by. I want to have short gift guides this year so as not to overwhelm anyone. We have DIY guides, Craft, indie… all sorts of guides coming up and soooo many toys!

One more thing… from my soapbox… PLEASE try to shop local… I know that some small toy shops don’t carry these toys ( but some might). If you do shop online, please link your shopping spending to a charity many places like Amazon and Target allow you to do that.

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Best Halloween Costumes for Baby

It’s Halloween time! What are your kids dressing up as this season?

Thomas is going as Nemo… his best friend is going as a Shark. ( fish are friends not food)

Halloween allows itself for cute baby pictures and while the classic pumpkin is a parenting favorite, I have rounded up a few other themes that you might love.

  • The whole family can go as a “Finding Dory’ theme – Baby can be Nemo, mom is Dory and Dad is Shark! So cute!!!
  • To channel your inner ‘Khaleesi’… your baby can dress like a dragon! you know… Mother of Dragons and all! ( because Game of Thrones imitates life)
  • There’s always a sweet handmade knitted costume… a shy sweet baby lion maybe?

Where can you get these costumes you ask?

bestbabyhalloweencostumes2016

I recently wrote a piece about Best Baby Hallowen Costumes for 2016 and I thought I would share. Find the article —> here!

BOO to you!

 

 

 

 

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Apple Picking with Kids

Apple Picking The-New-York-Mom

Living in New York means that every season gets a grand hurrah! and Fall – being my favorite season, gets lots of hurrahs! Apple Picking is one of our favorite fall festivities. The smell of the crisp air, the walk through the orchards, apples eaten along the pick, apple cider, cinnamon donuts… I could go on forever. Apple picking with kids has it’s set of challenges as does basically doing anything with kids. Here is my tried and true list of do’s and don’t of apple picking with kids from my years of schlepping my kids up and down orchards up here in New York.

HUGE TIP – Some of the orchards have already run out of apples so please call before you head up. We are fortunate to live in the middle of orchards so we go all the time on weekdays with no crowds. 

Apple picking on the weekends is for those of you who like to live on the edge. We go to some of the orchards that are about an hour north of Manhattan. The weekends are insane. There is no charm in over crowded apple picking orchards. You have to stand in lines for everything and sometimes after standing in that line for 30 minutes you STILL don’t get your Cinnamon Donut! Then you have to walk forever to get to your car to then sit in traffic inching forward as your kids scream because … remember… no cinnamon donut! Go during the week if you can.

Apple Picking The-New-York-Mom

Take the kids apple picking when they are off on ‘school days‘. It’s not as crowded and you will certainly dodge the ‘Instagram Selfie’ crowd.

Dress – don’t wear heels when apple picking! I can’t believe I have to tell you this… you would be surprised at how many gals show up in heels!  You know this is dirt and mud and orchard land right. You are walking up hills and picking apples! Skip the heels. Wear your fall boots, skinnies, a sweater and a hat. Rock!

Apple Picking The-New-York-Mom

Bring water, it can get hot up in the orchards so bring water. The orchards are usually a bit of a walk from the car so a backpack with a snack and water is best.

Some orchards have evening music so check in advance and time your trip accordingly.

I wear sunscreen year round and so do the kids. So add that to your backpack.

Apple Picking The-New-York-Mom

A little provision for you and your honey. Go ahead – fill that water bottle with a little something special. Sit up at the top of  your apple orchard taking in the scenery and sip away. Because those drink lines are super long and not worth the wait.

MUST go on a hayride. So fun. And definitely do the corn mazes!!!

Poision Ivy likes to go all around apple trees. We haven’t had an issue but some orchards might overlook this and forget to take the poison ivy out. Be on the look out for three shiny leaves! Apple Picking The-New-York-Mom

Eat the apples from the tree. I know you paid for your bag of apples but what’s apple picking without munching on one red delicious fruit while picking.

Head up north to the Hudson Valley – Beacon, Coldspring, Hudson, Rhinebeck … all amazing towns with gorgeous views and not half the crowds. The time you will spend sitting in your car in traffic will be put to great use driving through the Hudson Valley on twisted roads with falling leaves while taking in some of the best scenery that New York State has to offer.

There ya have it. A bonafide tried and true guide to apple picking this season. Have fun!

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An Easter Brunch Cruise Around Manhattan

Hornblower The New York Mom

We did something a bit out of the box for easter this year and it was the best thing ever! We went on a cruise around New York City. No matter what time of the year this is a great activity for kids in New York City or just a bucket list item for anyone visiting New York City.

Hornblower The New York Mom

Our family is spread out throughout the country with the main fort being in Florida where our parents and grandparents live. My sister-in-law lives in Brooklyn which can feel like a different state sometimes! Matt usually cooks a great big feast for Easter brunch and we spend the whole day flying kites and riding bikes and planting flowers. This year we didn’t have any family visit us for Easter so Matt and I decided to take an Easter brunch cruise around New York City. Let me just start by saying, this was the BEST IDEA EVER! If you have young kids, an easter cruise with Hornblower Cruises is pretty perfect.

Hornblower The New York Mom
The obvious… no cleaning, cooking, wrangling of children nothing… just show up, have a great time, dance, eat and take in the most incredible views. After church we headed over for our Brunch. It was a quick drive down the west side highway and on Sunday’s there is hardly any traffic.

Hornblower The New York Mom

Upon arriving we were greeted by the Easter Bunny… this was a dancing, skipping, very happy Easter Bunny. Thomas was over the moon. He could not believe that we were about to get on  big boat with THE Easter Bunny.

Our table was set with everything we needed including a chilled bottle of champagne!

Hornblower The New York Mom

Hornblower The New York Mom

The food buffet was great – with a variety of food for everyone. Meats, fish, veggies, pasta, carving station, kid friendly food. A massive dessert table with a chocolate fountain seemed to be the hit. After eating, we headed up to the top of the boat to take in the views. Stunning. If you have never been on a cruise around Manhattan you are missing out. It’s romantic, it’s beautiful and you’ll never have access to these views unless you are in the water.

Hornblower The New York Mom

 

Hornblower The New York Mom

New York CityNew York CityBut wait there is so much more… a live jazz band was playing the entire 2 hours and the floor was packed with little kids and adults dancing! And then…

and then…

Hornblower The New York Mom
The EASTER BUNNY! After the cutest easter egg hunt – on the boat – the Easter Bunny came around and said hi to all the kids and adults and danced and took pictures and had the best time.

Hornblower The New York Mom
The Hornblower stops right in front of the Statue of Liberty for about 15 minutes and the views of this and the photo opps are amazing we didn’t make it out in time because the EggHunt had just ended and the kids were busy counting the loot. Priorities ya know!

Hornblower The New York Mom

Hornblower The New York Mom

Hornblower The New York Mom

Overall, this was a great experience. We would absolutely do this again… even with family visiting. The kids loved it, Matt and I didn’t have to worry about anything and the kids both napped on our  45 minute drive back home.

The staff on the Hornblower was the sweetest and catered to the kids and played along with the Bunny. The Bunny by the way was the real deal… and we snapped the best picture for easter!

Hornblower The New York Mom

Hornblower Cruises operate all year-long and I HIGHLY recommend their cruises for visitors this summer. What an amazing way to end your trip to New York – a dinner or brunch cruise around the greatest city in the world with dancing and champs and great food. It’s such a great time! They also have private charters and all sorts of bundles. Swing by HORNBLOWER CRUISE for more.

*This post is sponsored by Hornblower Cruises. All opinions are mine, we really had a great time* 

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5 Mother’s Day Gifts

Mothers Day Gifts
Mother’s Day will be here before you know it. So I’m starting my gift guides early this year. HINT HINT!! Here are some of my hand picked pieces for the mamas!
one// katespade watch in this mint green is perfect for spring and summer.
two// these Alexis Bittar rough cut crystal earrings are a statement piece while also being really subtle.
three// a coal flap clutch from Nordstrom is perfect for busy gals on the go.
four// function meets art in this gold Jonathan Adler Muse D’Or candle. Who needs anything else for the coffee table when you have this stunnah.
five// i am obsessed with Amrita Singh and her gorgeous collection of Indian themed jewels. I also love an arm full of bracelets so it’s a win!
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