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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Painting Eggs – Our Easter Tradition

So much gets lost in translation with consumerism during religious holidays. Easter has become nothing more than bunnies, egg hunts, toys, chocolates, unwrapping chocolate toys and overstuffed baskets of more toys and chocolates.

We haven’t fallen for most of this hype and do try hard to keep the reason for the Easter season in the forefront.

The church that we have been attending since our move had a great Good Friday program for the kids and both Lily and Thomas came back with lots to report. Thomas was especially excited to tell us that JESUS LIVES! he didn’t die… he lives!

We tried to dye eggs last week and both kids lost interest really quickly and really just wanted to play with the colored water more than dying eggs. Lily and I started painting eggs a few years ago. We would boil the eggs and then get out the watercolors and acrylics and just paint. I love this tradition and hope to hold on to it for years to come. We sit at the kitchen table with our cup of tea, eggs, paints, brushes and chat. Golden moments of tween insight!

The biggest news for the year is that this year we have a new Easter Bunny – L I L Y! It’s bitter-sweet. She sorta knew the truth and wouldn’t let me talk about the bunny anymore so I final told her the real deal and she’s had such fun shopping for sweet treats and bubbles for Thomas’ basket.

Another tradition that we have is planting flowers around the yard during Easter weekend. The kids and Matt went to the local nursery and bought a few flowers, but the ground is still sorta frozen so we have to wait a bit to plant. But the flowers are here and we did some yard work and refilled all the bird feeders. This afternoon there was a bright red cardinal who was busy collecting materials to build his nest and Thomas and I watched him for a while as he hopped around and foraged for his supplies. We’ve been waking up to the loud chirping of birds every morning and I don’t mind it at all. like clockwork around 5:45/6am… the birds are up!  I am so ready for spring!

 We came home to find that Jonah had rummaged through the trash to pick out the chicken bones from the previous nights dinner.

Me: Oh goodness Jonah! You are going to die if you eat all these chicken bones! 

Thomas: (without missing a single beat) He’s not going to die mom! We will just put him in a cage ( cave) and he will come back to life. 

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Happy Easter Everyone.

 

 

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Favorite Easter Basket Picks

It’s time for filling up our Easter baskets and I wanted to share a few creative and NON-CANDY ideas for the perfectly balanced basket with my Favorite Easter Basket Picks.

Lily knows the truth about ole E.B and this year she gets to be in on the fun and has been helping me collect a few things for the baskets.  I am not one for candy filled baskets, I try to keep the sugary treats to a minimum to avoid a massive sugar crash later in the day.  So for parents who are torn on giving into the sugar hype of it all …. here are some Easter Basket picks I know you will like.

  1. Kites – Kites are the BEST gift and every year we sneak a themed kite into the basket!
  2. Bubbles – This is a year round outdoor toy. Even in the snow… you can find us blowing bubbles!
  3. Stickers – You can never have enough stickers especially with toddlers. Thomas is getting dinosaur stickers and Lily is getting Shopkins stickers.
  4. Puzzles – A small box of puzzles is also a MUST for a sweet basket.
  5. Chocolate Bunny – I don’t have to tell you that every Easter Basket needs a Chocolate hollow bunny… right!
  6. Jelly Beans – Jelly Beans are Easter Bunny poop… but you knew that! How could you NOT include these!
  7. Butterfly Net – It’s springtime after all and a butterfly net not only makes for charming pictures but kids will spend a good amount of time running around trying to catch a butterfly!
  8. Art Supplies – Every basket needs art supplies – Sidewalk chalk, crayons, watercolors anything to get the kids making art.
  9. Gardening Supplies – The kids are each getting their own shovel, rake and watering can. Lily gets a metal version and Thomas is a small kids plastic set.
  10. Plants – a small bag of seeds for kids to plant is always such a treat. My kids immediately plant them in the ground and within days we have sprouts! Here in NY the ground is still frozen so this year a small potted plant is part is included.

Have fun making your baskets hope you found this helpful!

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#GetCrackin with Wonderful Pistachios

Momtrends #getcrackinThis is it everyone.. the big countdown to large Christmas feasts and celebrating the New Year! A decadent dinner party is always a must during this time of year. Last week I attended a very swank event with Nicole and her team at MomTrends and the team from Wonderful Pistachio. What a treat it was to be surrounded by such great food bloggers and chefs making a full feast themed around pistachios.

*This is a sponsored post. Thanks for stopping by and hearing a little more about my sponsors. *

While I will be the FIRST to tell you that I am not the best cook, I do post my fair share of foodie finds throughout my travels. SO talking and eating food it right up my alley. I’ve never tried cooking with pistachios so I was in for a totally new experience. Adding a handful of chopped pistachios is such a seamless and easy addition!

We started off the evening with a quick knife demo to make sure we all knew the ins and outs of chopping onions.* fun fact * – did you know that the reason you cry when chopping onions is because the onion liquid is being released mainly due to your WRONG chopping technique! So a quick ‘ across the onion’ chop is what’s need to minimize the onion liquid. No more tears in the kitchen kids!

After the demo we all were invited to pick a cooking station we want to work on. The protein, the grains, the veg… or the one I choose.. the no cooking station. I made really delicious popcorn- chocolate- pistachio balls. for the win!

Momtrends #getcrackinWonderful Pistachio and Cherry Popcorn Balls

Old fashioned popcorn balls sparkle with the tart addition of dried cherries and tasty Wonderful Pistachios, while the brown sugar gives them a caramel-y flavor. These are sure to be a hit at any holiday gathering.

Prep: 8 minutes / Time to Table: 18 minutes / Makes: 20 balls about 2 ½ inches in diameter

  • 12 cups popcorn
  • 1 cup shelled Wonderful Pistachios Roasted & Salted, lightly chopped
  • 1 cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large roasting pan combine popcorn, dried cherries and Wonderful Pistachios, mixing thoroughly.
  3. In a medium saucepan combine syrup, sugar, butter and salt. Over medium heat bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue stirring and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. Be careful as mixture will bubble up.
  4. Pour syrup mixture over popcorn and stir to coat well. Popcorn will still be warm from the syrup. To keep your hands clean slip them into two plastic bags and coat bags with cooking spray or butter.
  5. Working quickly, form popcorn mixture into balls about 2 ½ inches in diameter. Place on the parchment lined baking sheet to cool. 

  Spicy Roasted Squash with Wonderful Pistachios

Delicata and butternut squash are roasted together with warm spices and a bit of cayenne to heat things up. Crunchy Wonderful Pistachios and maple syrup are just the right additions for texture and sweetness. Garnished with pomegranate arils this dish is a celebration of flavors.

Prep: 18 minutes / Time to Table: 38 minutes / Serves: 8 (about 10 pieces of squash/person; about a cup/person)

  • 1 ½ pounds butternut squash (4 ½ cups prepped)
  • 2 ½ pounds delicata squash
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup shelled Wonderful Pistachios Roasted & Salted, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ cup POM Wonderful pomegranate arils
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.
  2. Peel and seed butternut squash. Cut in half lengthwise and slice into ½ inch thick pieces. Cut in half again for quarters.
  3. Cut delicata in half lengthwise and seed. Cut into ½ inch thick slices. Combine all the squash in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Sprinkle the cinnamon, allspice, cayenne and salt over the squash. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Melt the butter and stir into the olive oil. Drizzle over the spiced squash and mix thoroughly.
  6. Transfer the squash to the baking sheets, arranging in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Stir and flip squash. Sprinkle with Wonderful Pistachios and drizzle with maple syrup. Bake another 5 to 7 minutes until pistachios are just toasted. Remove from the oven.
  8. Arrange on a serving platter and sprinkle pomegranate arils over the squash. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Wonderful Pistachios, Peach and Barley Salad

A fresh summer salad with the crunch of Wonderful Pistachios and delicious peaches.

Prep: 15 minutes / Time to Table: 1 hour a 5 minutes / Serves: 4

  • ⅔ cup pearled barley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 cups trimmed green beans
  • ¼ cup pistachio oil, or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • 2 ripe peaches, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • ⅓ cup crumbled ricotta salata
  • ⅓ cup shelled Wonderful Pistachios Roasted & Salted, roughly chopped
  1. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in barley, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook about 45 minutes, until barley is tender and water is absorbed. Remove from heat, and set aside 10 minutes. Add parsley, fluff barley with a fork and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in another saucepan; boil string beans about 5 minutes, until crisp and tender. Blanch in ice water and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk pistachio oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper; toss with arugula, string beans, and half the sliced peaches.
  4. Place greens mixture on individual plates. Top with a scoop of barley, remaining peaches, ricotta salata and pistachios. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

 

Happy feasting everyone!!!

*This is a sponsored post. Thanks for stopping by and hearing a little more about my sponsors. *

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Holiday Gift Guide 2015 – Favorite Toys

It’s the big weekend… the last weekend before the jolly ole fat man breaks into your house to eat your cookies and milk and  take credit for all the toys you bought the kids! Silly Santa! To help you navigate your toy list for all the littles this year… I’m here to help. I’ve rounded up my favorite toys for this season… toys that are great for all ages and will keep kids playing for years to come!   As with all my recommendations, these are all toys I have reviewed at home through this sweet blog or through my awesome job playing with toys all day… at TTPM.com. These toys are the a step above the rest and have some pretty amazing features.

I hope you find this list helpful. Merry Christmas!!!

Favorite Toys for Holiday 2015

 

Snoopy Railroad G-Gauge Set Lionel Train sets have been a favorite in our home since as long and I can remember. Thomas has the latest Snoopy Express and loves it. This is a G Gauge train that goes forward and back with a remote control unit. It also has some conductor phrases and a choo choo whistle. This is a large toy and has some pretty fantastic details!

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