Adventure, baby!

New York

Kiwi Crate Holiday Boxes + Giveaway

While this year isn’t the first holiday season for the toddlers, it is the first year that they are starting to understand what’s going on. This makes me super excited, because I LOVE holidays. I really love getting arty and crafty with Cheese, so trying out the holiday Kiwi Crate holiday boxes were the perfect way to get her involved in preparing for the biggest holiday in our year, Christmas. For our friends celebrating Hannukah, we asked our friends with a crafty toddler to test drive Kiwi Crate’s Handmade Hannukah.

Kiwi Crate boxes are so great for parents like us – people who like the IDEA of being crafty, but whose craft boxes contain little more than crayons, markers and stickers. If we want to make something special, we don’t have any of the right bits and pieces, and, to be honest, I would have no idea where to get things like a few pom poms and ribbon bits that each project requires. Kiwi Crates contain everything you need for the entire project – including things like glue and paint brushes. I LOVE the assumption that we have nothing to being with because, to be honest, we don’t! We have a TINY apartment and have no room for keeping bits and pieces of things in case we need them for crafting in the future.

All Kiwi Crate boxes are also generously stocked with supplies. More than you’ll need for each project, so you have spare materials to customise projects to your child’s preferences, plus have left over materials to make something else with next time.

The Kiwi Crate model is based on subscriptions, where you sign up for a new craft box to be delivered to you every month. They also offer single crates ($19.95 each), each one filled with enough materials for 2 – 3 projects, holiday crates and stocking stuffers.

Kiwi Crate Box One: Crafty Christmas Box, by Christine Knight

kiwi-crate-hanukkah

The box I was testing out was the Crafty Christmas box ($19.95). It includes materials to make three Swirly Ornaments (for hanging on the Christmas tree), a Gingerbread House and Paper Candies to decorate the house. The kit comes with a user guide for parents or older children, with very detailed instructions.

Gingerbread House

#Kiwi Crate #Christmas Box - via brunchwithmybaby.com

The Gingerbread House instructions had multiple options for house decorating ideas. Now, remember Cheese is only TWO. I had to give her a hand with a lot of the projects, like assembling the house and gingerbread man pieces. It was still a lot of fun for her, even though she couldn’t complete the projects on her own.

#Kiwi Crate #Christmas Box - via brunchwithmybaby.com

She was very interested in certain tasks, like sticking stickers on the roof of the gingerbread house, and especially pouring the paint into the ornaments. She wasn’t interested in anything that took too long, so I had to assemble everything in advance so it was ready for her to add her part or she’d wander off to play with something else. It was a really fun way for us to spend time together, and for me to explain to her what everything was and what it meant.

#Kiwi Crate #Christmas Box - via brunchwithmybaby.com

It was also great to let Cheese experiment with different materials that she wouldn’t usually play around with. She loved pasting the pom pom balls to the Gingerbread House and placing the sticker tiles on the roof.

#Kiwi Crate #Christmas Box - via brunchwithmybaby.com

Swirly Ornaments

#Kiwi Crate #Christmas Box - via brunchwithmybaby.com

The ornament kit was much easier to do with a two-year-old. I prepped the area and pieces and gave the ornament bases to Cheese to squeeze paint into. She really loved that she could squirt the squeezing the paint into the ornaments by herself, and enjoyed turning them to see the colors swirl together. This project was a bit messier (paint!), but also a lot easier for a smaller toddler to work on as there were a lot less steps involved.

#Kiwi Crate #Christmas Box - via brunchwithmybaby.com

After the paint squeezing and swirling, the project was pretty much finished. The ornaments were left to drain excess paint and then dry over night, and Mommy was needed to cork and tie them up, ready for hanging.

#Kiwi Crate #Christmas Box - via brunchwithmybaby.com

Both Cheese and I really enjoyed the craft projects. I’m not a super creative person when it comes to thinking up craft ideas, so I loved being given the framework and materials, and the freedom to decorate however Cheese saw fit. We will absolutely be ordering more of these boxes as Cheese gets older and can tell us what crafts she wants to do.

#Kiwi Crate #Christmas Box - via brunchwithmybaby.com

Kiwi Crate Box Two: Handmade Hannukah, by Dayna Brandoff of chaostheorynyc.com

#Kiwi Crate #Holiday Boxes + #Giveaway, via brunchwithmybaby.com

My daughter Tess (2 and 1/2 years old) and I made the menorah from the Handmade Hannukah box ($19.95) this morning. The box comes with candle holders (that look like slanted cups), tissue paper, paint and glue, plus a dreidel.

#Kiwi Crate #Holiday Boxes + #Giveaway, via brunchwithmybaby.com

The project got off to a great start. I showed her how to do one of the cups — thin layer of glue, then tissue paper, then more glue. She did every step pretty much on her own for the next cup. The next three cups, however, she really only wanted to be the glue painter — which was fine — that was two out of the three steps (although I definitely helped with the second round of glue-painting to make sure the tissue paper would really stick). I will say that the project was not able to hold her attention for nine cups worth of time, so decorating the last four was mainly Mommy’s job. We both had a ton of fun peeling the dried glitter glue off our hands afterward. And Tess was definitely proud of the finished product — and loves the special little battery operated candles. But convincing her to save the batteries until Chanukah? That’s sure to be a challenge.

#Kiwi Crate #Holiday Boxes + #Giveaway, via brunchwithmybaby.com

I also really liked that there’s plenty of tissue paper and mod podge left over to do a similar project on recycled jar . . . .I think we will probably make “vases” for the grandmothers for the holidays using the same technique!

GIVEAWAY

The generous folks at Kiwi Crate have offered Brunch With My Baby readers the opportunity to win a crate of their choosing. Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.

Competition is open Wed November 6, 2013 EST to 11:59pm Tues Nov 12, 2013, EST.

Entry open to US mailing addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Brunch With My Baby were sent product samples for reviewing purposes. All opinions are our own.

 

AlMar: Kid-Friendly Restaurants, DUMBO, New York

AlMar - kid-friendly restaurants, DUMBO, New York via brunchwithmybaby.com
Egg In A Cloud

In the heart of DUMBO lies Front Street—which is somewhat confusingly located a few streets back from the waterfront. (Ditto for Water Street, which is not on the water, but that’s another story). Most eateries, bars and shops are either on or near this main artery, making it a good way to get in brunch, candy, and a drink at a bar all without leaving a single block radius.

AlMar - kid-friendly restaurants, DUMBO, New York via brunchwithmybaby.com

When we had woken up on that particular day, rain was pelting down outside, so we chose the restaurant AlMar mainly because of its location (we knew we could get there via the handy F line, without getting too drenched.) We were also interested in checking out a dish there that I’d read about: the dreamy-sounding Egg In A Cloud dish (baked egg yolk floating on whipped egg whites, fontina cheese, smoked ham, toasted brioche, served with sauteed spinach, $12).

Our beginning was not auspicious. The hostess sat us down without menus, so no one came to serve us. After grabbing a nearby staff member, I managed to procure the menus, but things were not off to a good beginning. As an FYI to restaurants—rule number one when people come in with a baby or toddler is to help them get in and out as fast as possible! This makes for happy families and happy diners surrounding those families.

AlMar - kid-friendly restaurants, DUMBO, New York via brunchwithmybaby.com

Once we had the menu situation sorted out, our server became aware of us, and things ran much more smoothly. We ordered the aforementioned Egg In A Cloud for my husband (the omnivore), and the Egg Toast ($12 —baked egg over melted fontina cheese, toasted brioche, truffle oil and asparagus) for me. We weren’t sure if Cheese would eat off either of our plates since she wasn’t feeling the best that day, so we ordered her her own, especially made, single pancake, since there wasn’t a kids menu. They were also happy to make something like a single scrambled egg for her if we wanted.

Our served warned us that our dishes would take 10 minutes to cook, which I thought was very thoughtful of him. We entertained Cheese with our trusty iPhones and the sugar bowl while we waited.

AlMar - kid-friendly restaurants, DUMBO, New York via brunchwithmybaby.com

The Egg In A Cloud did not disappoint visually. It’s a spectacular-looking dish, with a big fluffy “cloud” of egg-white literally on top of the toast. My husband said it was “pretty good”, which is his standard response to food. When pressed further on what could make it “outstanding”, he replied that the brioche was a bit overcooked, so it overpowered the delicate egg-whites. So detailed. Thanks, Husband!

AlMar - kid-friendly restaurants, DUMBO, New York via brunchwithmybaby.com

My Egg Toast looked a much simpler affair, and was absolutely delicious. Perfectly baked egg, loads of melty cheese (yes, I know, a heart attack waiting to happen); and a huge amount of my favorite vegetable, white asparagus, perfectly blanched, in a ring around the plate.

AlMar - kid-friendly restaurants, DUMBO, New York via brunchwithmybaby.com

In typical form, Cheese wanted nothing to do with her pancake (which, thoughtfully was garnished with blueberries, syrup and a butter wedge), and instead wanted my cheese and egg on toast. That’s my girl!

AlMar - kid-friendly restaurants, DUMBO, New York via brunchwithmybaby.com

Other tips: AlMar can get quite busy, so reservations are recommended (via phone). They’re a cash-only establishment, so visit the Chase ATM across the street on the way if you arrive without real money in your wallet.

Last bite: AlMar is a handy Italian eatery, serving up a solid brunch menu. High ceilings and plenty of space make you feel like you’ve briefly left New York.

Highchairs: No.
Stroller storage: Yes, but it’s outside.
Easy access: No. There are a few steep steps to get in.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.

AlMar
111 Front St.
Brooklyn,NY 11201
Prices: $$
Phone: (718) 855-5288
Hours: Mon-Thur 8am-10:30pm; Fri 8am-11pm; Sat 9am-11pm; Sun 10am-5pm
Get directions

Almar on Urbanspoon

Where To Score The Tastiest Halloween Treats: Kid-Friendly Cafes, New York

#Halloween via brunchwithmybaby.com

As an Australian transplant, I’d never properly celebrated Halloween before moving to New York. My only Halloween experiences in Sydney consisted of one Halloween party (hosted by a Scottish friend) and yearly office celebrations when I worked at Google. Thus, I’m doing my best to catch up for lost time by eating as many Halloween-themed treats as possible. Here are a few of my fave spooky treats that are on current offer all around the city.

#Georgetown #Cupcake: #Halloween #Treats in #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

Georgetown Cupcake
Georgetown Cupcakes makes amazing cupcakes any time of year. Drop by this week for a spooky cupcake from their Halloween collection: Chocolate² cupcakes (with white ghost fondant decorations), vanilla cupcakes with orange-tinted vanilla buttercream frosting and black bat fondant decorations, Chocolate Spider Web cupcakes (baked with toffee) and vanilla cupcakes (baked with M&M’s with orange-tinted vanilla buttercream frosting and black bat fondants). $2.75 each.
Georgetown Cupcake: 111 Mercer Street (between Spring and Prince)

Jacques Torres: #Halloween #Treats in #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

Jacques Torres
The makers of exquisitely fine chocolates, Jacques Torres, do “seasonal” so well. This time of year is a great time to drop by for a molten Wicked hot chocolate and a Jacques “O” Lantern (made from dark or milk chocolate and hand decorated with white chocolate, $12). You can also pick up a delicious chocolate Haunted House, or spooky cat and chocolate-covered marshmallow peep pops.
Find your nearest Jacques Torres

Betty Bakery: #Halloween #Treats in #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

Betty Bakery
Betty is known for their uh-mazing cakes. At Halloween, not only can you pick up a scary cake, like the Splattered Frankenstein Cake ($65); you can also treat yourself to Magical Cupcakes ($2.95 each); cookies decorated with the likes of pumpkins, cats, and ghosts (small cookies, $20/lb), Halloween Petit Fours Glacé ($2.50 each) and Marzipan Witches ($8).
Betty Bakery: 448 Atlantic Ave (between Bond St and Nevins St), Brooklyn

Crumbs: #Halloween #Treats in #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

Crumbs Bakery
Crumbs are well-known for their decadent and (massive!) cupcakes. Get your scare on this week with their Halloween Collection, which includes Candy Corn, Jack O’Lantern, Orange Squiggle,”Boo”kies & Cream, Monster Mash Up and Ghastly Ghost (vanilla cake filled with chocolate fudge and topped with van. cream cheese frosting). 6 cupcakes for $27 (they’re also available individually).
Find your nearest Crumbs.

Monteleone: #Halloween Treats in #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

Monteleone’s Bakery
This little Carroll Gardens bakery has some crazy Halloween cakes for sale. Freak out friends, family and co-workers by breaking out a monster cake after dinner this week. Pick up some old school Italian treats inside, any time of year.
Monteleone’s Bakery: 355 Court St, Brooklyn

Nunu Chocolate: #Halloween Treats in #NYC brunchwithmybaby.com

Nunu Chocolate
This little shop in Boerum Hill is a haven for people seeking fine chocolate. During Halloween you can score a Jack-O’-Lollie for $2, in addition to their daily superb range of treats.
Nunu Chocolate: 529 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn

Brunch Special: weeSpring Co-Founder Allyson Downey

Today’s Brunch Special is courtesy of Allyson Downey, co-founder of weeSpring — the number one social review site for baby gear. WeeSpring helps new and expecting parents collect advice from their friends about what they need for their baby, simplifying the overwhelming (and often anxiety-inducing) world of baby shopping. Allyson lives with her husband, Jack, and son Logan, age two, on the Upper West Side.

#weeSpring - #baby #gear recommended by your friends. Interview with founder Allyson Downey at brunchwithmybaby.com

We love your site! Can you tell us a bit about how weeSpring began?
When I walked into a Babies R Us for the first time, I was completely overwhelmed by the product choices. I immediately emailed my friends with babies about what products were must-haves . . . and what I didn’t actually need. After gathering lists and spreadsheets from literally dozens of friends, a light bulb went off: so many people have already figured this stuff out. All I needed to do was collate their research by finding out what they loved and what they wished they’d never bought. Along with my husband Jack and co-founder Melissa, I built weeSpring to make preparing for parenthood simple, social, and fun — while also giving more experienced parents an easy way to share what they’ve learned.

#weeSpring - #baby #gear recommended by your friends. Interview with founder Allyson Downey at brunchwithmybaby.com

How has weeSpring grown?
We always knew this was something we wanted — but we’ve been floored by our users’ response. In just a few short months since launching, we have over 50,000 ratings across 2,000 products on the site. That’s more product reviews than Diapers.com and Buy Buy Baby combined for any specific product.

#weeSpring - #baby #gear recommended by your friends. Interview with founder Allyson Downey at brunchwithmybaby.com

What’s next for you and weeSpring?
We have a few new programs in place – last month we launched a partnership with eBay so weeSpring users can easily sell the products their little ones have outgrown. Next up, we’re launching the Blogs weeLove program, which will highlight some of our favorite parenting voices from bloggers who are real and relatable. And we have some more exciting news coming up that we can’t share at the moment . . . but keep an eye on our blog . . . or join weeSpring so you’ll receive our emails and be one of the first to know.

#weeSpring - #baby #gear recommended by your friends. Interview with founder Allyson Downey at brunchwithmybaby.com

How do you find a good balance between parenting and running your business?
Balance? What’s balance?

In seriousness, we make it work by getting an awful lot of work done in the twelve hours a day that our son is asleep. Doing things like writing up this interview at 10:30pm means that I can spend 90 minutes in the middle of the day on Tuesday with my son at his pre-school. We also have amazing support from our caregiver, Liliana, who I wrote about in the WSJ.

#weeSpring - #baby #gear recommended by your friends. Interview with founder Allyson Downey at brunchwithmybaby.com

Tell us about your experiences parenting in NYC.
Everyone talks about how hard it must be to raise a baby in the city — but I can’t imagine anything better. In those lonely early days of being home alone all day with a newborn (my husband started business school when Logan was eight days old . . . definitely not planned!), all I needed to do was strap on my Mei Tai and wander around the neighborhood. In New York, perfect strangers will strike up a conversation with you about your baby. Frances McDormand stopped me on the street one day to compliment our tiny little pumpkin hat, and we wound up chatting for five blocks.

#weeSpring - #baby #gear recommended by your friends. Interview with founder Allyson Downey at brunchwithmybaby.com
The weeSpring founders with their kids.

What do you think are the benefits of raising kids in NYC?
My son goes to the Bronx Zoo every other week. The Museum of Natural History is our rainy day playground. (Head to the Hall of Minerals! It’s carpeted, everything’s behind glass panels, and the tourists skip it.) He’s two and knows FAO Schwartz as well as Tom Hanks in Big. What could be better?

What are your fave places in NYC to take your family?
We try and get out of the city on the weekends when we can for a change of pace. Lawrence Farms in Newburgh has amazing “You Pick” options for every season: strawberries, snap peas, cherries, peaches, corn, tomatoes, apples . . . and the views are spectacular. A bit closer, we like Stone Barns, where we can wander around and look at the cows and pigs, and have a great snack from their cafe.

Fave local restaurants or cafes to eat out with your family ?
One of the redeeming factors of being up with a toddler at the crack of dawn on a weekend is that it is easy-peasy to get to Good Enough to Eat in time for the first brunch seating at 9am (aim to arrive by 8:45am!). When we miss that — or if we are joining friends who think brunch before 11am is absurd — we do Ditch Plains, which is the most stroller-friendly restaurant on the UWS . . . not to mention they a) take reservations and b) have a TV at every booth that they’ll tune to cartoons on request. When I was on maternity leave, I could regularly be found at the Mermaid Inn for their $1 oyster happy hour, sitting alone at the bar with a baby strapped to my chest, eating oysters over his sleeping head and nursing a half glass of wine (so I could still breastfeed when we got home).

Your “secret” New York faves?
El Parador! We haven’t been in ages (though did take Logan in his Chicco Key Fit when he was a little baby), but they have the best margaritas. And while the food is much more upscale than this, the taco tray is my favorite thing on the menu (and the best thing not on the menu is queso fundido con chorizo).

#weeSpring - #baby #gear recommended by your friends. Interview with founder Allyson Downey at brunchwithmybaby.comAllyson and her husband, Jack Downey, have extensive experience building online political communities and empowering individuals to amplify their voices using the web. They collaborated to launch the first statewide online grassroots fundraising campaign in New York and co-produced a “people’s inauguration” for Eliot Spitzer featuring James Taylor and Jimmy Fallon. And Jack and Ally enjoyed working together so much that they decided to get married.

As new parents, the questions that keep them up at night aren’t about voter engagement or crowd-building, but about non-toxic bubble bath, easy-to-clean car seats, and the most subway-friendly umbrella stroller. Jack is a graduate of Dartmouth College and is finishing his MBA at NYU Stern. Ally received her BA from Colby College, her MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts, and her MBA from Columbia Business School.

Taste Buds Kitchen Cupcake Kids Class

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Cheese is really into “helping” me in the kitchen these days. She likes to “help” spread Vegemite on toast, “cut” vegetables and “crack” eggs in a bowl. She’s been so interested in food preparation lately that I thought I would give a Cupcake Kids class at Taste Buds Kitchen a go.

The class theme for this week was Pinkalicious (the theme changes every week), based on the bestselling kid’s book series of the same name. A cute table is set up for 10 kids and their parents, ages two to six, with all the ingredients laid out, ready for mixing. Cheese was the youngest kid in the class that day by a fair amount (she turned two in August). The kids were on average, ages four to six.

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

The above photo pretty much encapsulates how the class went. Cheese was thoroughly enjoying trying all the ingredients. She followed the simple directions, like which ingredient to put in the bowl, but mixing was a bit hard for her to really get right (time to step in, Mama!).

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

I’ve always loved baking, since I was a kid too, actually. I’ve been wondering how to introduce baking to Cheese, so this class was not just fun for her, it was also educational for me to see how I can teach my toddler how to bake. I have to admit, I thought the class was just cupcake decorating. If I’d known it was baking from scratch I might not have been so game to bring her, as it’s definitely not something I would have thought she’d be into and for which she would be able to sit through a class.

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

After mixing through the ingredients, it was time to spoon the mixture into cupcake pans and have them placed in the oven to cook. Notice how they’re all pink?

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

While the cupcakes were baking, Chef Maggie read Pinkalicious (which I’d never read before, so it was fun for me too, ha!), while the kids listened and colored in a special Pinkalicious-themed coloring sheet.

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Cheese was really into the book. A few months ago, this would have been a disaster (Read: toddler running ALL OVER THE ROOM) but since she started preschool last month, her concentration has definitely improved. She was up and down a few times to wash her hands again and get some food to eat, but over all she was really into the activity.

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

After the story came the frosting. The cupcakes hadn’t quite finished baking, so we frosted some previously prepared cupcakes while the others were still baking. After a quick lesson in the right way to frost, it was over to the kids, or in my case toddler, to let them do their stickiest. Cheese was in heaven. Didn’t want me to help (of course), so her cupcake looked kind of . . .  like a toddler decorated it 🙂 She really enjoyed picking up hearts and pink sugar and sprinkling them on top (and tasting a few).

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

We were given a sweet little container to place one of our decorated cupcakes in to take home, while we enjoyed eating the other cupcake right then and there (of course).

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Cheese really enjoyed the class (she was going on about the “cake cakes” all the way home), and it was a fun activity for us to do together. I think she was a little young for the class, but not by much. I would definitely take her again when she’s a little older — probably in winter when I’m desperate for ways to entertain us both. As with a lot of things that I get stressed over (for nothing), Cheese proved me wrong in her ability to handle her first baking experience. Even though her attention span did wane at times, the class was a success for the both of us.

Taste Buds Kitchen
109 W 27th St
212-242-2248
Cupcake Kids is held every Saturday morning at 9am. Classes cost $45 per child.

Brunch With My Baby attended as a guest of Taste Buds Kitchen. All opinions are our own. We happen to love, love, love cupcakes.

Happy Family Tot Giveaway

#Happy Family Tot #GIVEAWAY via brunchwithmybaby.com

I have a confession to make. As much as I personally love eating out (make that eating in general), Cheese is happy to just eat fruit and vegetable baby pouches at a restaurant. While we’ve been able to introduce her to enough solid food she’ll now happily eat, she is a total baby pouch addict, particularly when we’re on the go.

So, with that in mind, I did a little happy dance when Happy Family offered to send us some of their goodies to try on the kids. Here are the results of the Toddler Taste Test:

Happy  Tot Super Toddler Bars
Little J: He loves snacking on “bar” (that’s what he calls all granola bars) on the go, so on a screamy, whiny car ride I threw one of these babies in his direction (I unwrapped it first. And I didn’t really throw it at him. That wouldn’t be nice.)  He ate the whole thing and didn’t seem to notice that it was a healthier alternative to his usual Nature Valley bars (sugar, sugar, and more sugar). The bars are all organic and have Chia seeds (a superfood) as an ingredient. I was excited about it too, because I often like munching on Happy Family snack products myself (their Happy Yogis yogurt drops are really yummy). Unfortunately, the Chia seeds kind of overpowered the whole thing for me. But since this isn’t really about me, and Little J liked it, I’d say it got a kid-rated thumbs up of approval.

Happy Tot Greek Yogurt
Little J: This little guy has been refusing anything in a pouch or of a creamy consistency since he was about seven months old. The other day in school the class “cooked” some yogurt with honey and cinnamon. Everyone else loved it, but Little J wouldn’t even look at it. I gave my pouch to another mom friend of mine whose child is in the same camp as Cheese, and loves yogurt and other pouch foods.

Happy Tot Coconut
Cheese: This was a total winner for the little lady. She really enjoyed the berry flavor, and squeeze every last drop from the pouch (with a little assistance — anyone else rush to squeeze up from the bottom before their kid announces they’re done, and the pouch is only half empty?) and I liked that it was an alternative to yogurt, as I’m trying to expose her to other kinds of “milks” and dairy alternatives, like coconut.

Happy Yogis
Cheese: We use these as a treat for Cheese. When we’re out and she starts getting fussy (particularly in the stroller or on the subway), I whip out a bag of these yogis and she’s happy to sit there stuffing her face with them till they’re gone. I love that this “treat” is actually good for her, and she enjoyed the tart berry flavor (she doesn’t like sweet things very much).

#Happy Family Tot #GIVEAWAY via brunchwithmybaby.com

GIVEAWAY!
The kind folks at Happy Family are giving one lucky Brunch With My Baby reader a pack of Happy Family Toddler Food (value at $25). Basically, you get what’s in the pic below — one pack of Happy Yogis, one box of Happy Tot Toddler Meal Bowls, four Happy Tot food pouches, One box of Happy Tot Super Toddler Bars, plus a Happy Family reusable bag like in the pictures above. Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

The giveaway is open Wed Oct 16 2013, to 11:59pm Tue Oct 22, 2013.

Entry open to US mailing address only.

#Happy Family Tot #GIVEAWAY via brunchwithmybaby.com

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We were sent some Happy Family baby food to try out for this article. All opinions are our own. 

Rosemary's: Kid-Friendly Restaurants, West Village, NY

Rosemary's - Kid-Friendly Restaurants, West Village, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com
Freshly grown and picked fare is what you’ll get from Rosemary’s, an Italian restaurant with a rooftop farm in the heart of Greenwich Village. Created by Carlos Suarez, the owner of Bobo, Rosemary’s is named after Suarez’s mother and is inspired by both her home in Lucca (Tuscany) and the rich heritage of the restaurant’s Greenwich Village corner.

Walking into the restaurant I was struck by several things — the sheer size (it’s huge, even by non-NYC-standards!) the natural light (it’s a photographer’s dream), and the friendly hostess who made us feel welcome straight away with her kind words about Cheese, and with how discretely and obligingly she whisked our stroller away for us (STROLLER STORAGE!!).

Executive Chef Wade Moises serves seasonal Italian dishes that highlight the herbs and produce from the rooftop farm above the restaurant, as well as house-made pastas and a selection of focaccia — as an homage to the location’s predecessor, Sutter’s Bakery.

Rosemary's - Kid-Friendly Restaurants, West Village, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

Rosemary's - Kid-Friendly Restaurants, West Village, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

Rosemary's - Kid-Friendly Restaurants, West Village, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

Not only was our offspring welcomed by the staff with big smiles, she was also handed a Lorax-themed coloring sheet, a children’s menu, and Crayola crayons (as opposed to the generic kind most restaurants offer, that don’t actually color when you try and use them). Fancy!

The food was delicious. Collectively, our table ordered the following: Salmone (smoked salmon on toasted focaccia, with mascarpone and lemon jam, $12), Orecchiette (broccoli rabe, homemade sausage, $14), Pollo Orosto  (roasted half chicken, egg salad, asparagus, spring onion, spring onion, lemon, garlic crostino $20), Frittata (vegetables, herbs, stracchino cheese, $12), and the Caprese Focaccia (mozzarella, tomato, basil, $7) for Cheese. My frittata was a bit of a letdown — it was cold and not that remarkable.

I ended up carb-loading on the caprese focaccia instead. The focaccia was nice and salty and olive oily, the cheese was mild and light. Cheese wasn’t a fan, even though she usually loves all things bread — instead she ate a few Plum Organics baby food pouches (there’s no accounting for toddler taste). Side bar: Does anyone else’s toddler have a baby food pouch addiction?! It’s getting expensive and really frustrating over here . . . especially when we are going to the effort of trying to expose her to new tastes and cuisines.

Eating out with Cheese has been a hit-and-miss experience of late. The big question looming over every meal: Will she sit long enough for us to eat, or will we take turns entertaining her and eating? This meal we got lucky. Even though she didn’t want to eat the food, she loved coloring with the pack Rosemary’s provided, and, when that lost its appeal, there was always our best friend, the iPhone. Her current favourite thing to do is surf YouTube for Disney collector egg videos. Yes, it’s a thing. A very weird thing.

Rosemary's - Kid-Friendly Restaurants, West Village, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

Rosemary's - Kid-Friendly Restaurants, West Village, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

Rosemary's - Kid-Friendly Restaurants, West Village, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

Rosemary's - Kid-Friendly Restaurants, West Village, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

Rosemary's - Kid-Friendly Restaurants, West Village, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

Upstairs is the rooftop garden. It’s great for little ones to climb up the stairs and run around in the sun while you’re waiting for your table or food. While the veggie patch is probably a hit with the older kids, Cheese is more into stairs (up, down, up down!) and trying to climb over the balcony edges. I’d like to say it was an educational experience, but in reality, it was more about trying to take super-cute pictures and preventing Cheese from injuring herself. 

Rosemary's - Kid-Friendly Restaurants, West Village, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

Rosemary's - Kid-Friendly Restaurants, West Village, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

The metal chicken with flowers was a particular hit. “Bock bock bock!”.

Rosemary's - Kid-Friendly Restaurants, West Village, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

Rosemary's - Kid-Friendly Restaurants, West Village, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

Our meal wound to an end and we took Cheese for one last run in the garden before heading off to our next destination. As far as meals with a toddler go, it was pretty relaxing, thanks to the welcoming staff and easy-going atmosphere. We often feel harried after a whirlwind meal with Cyclone Cheese, but this dining experience was remarkably stress-free, and everyone, including the toddler who hates sitting down, left in a strangely cheery mood. I’d like to thank Rosemary’s for this happy dining experience.

Last bite: Rosemary’s delivers a delicious and relaxing dining experience featuring extremely fresh ingredients from their roof-top farm, and is great for parents looking for a hip eatery, without the snobby atmosphere.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.

Rosemary’s
18 Greenwich Ave (between Charles St & 10th St)
New York, NY 10011
Phone: (212) 647-1818
Prices: $$$
Hours: Breakfast, weekdays from 8am-11:30am; Lunch, weekdays from noon-4:30pm; Brunch, weekends from 11:30am-4:30pm; Dinner, daily, 5pm – midnight

Top 5 Fave Organic Eateries In NYC

Best #organic #eateries in #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com
In a city as huge as NYC, it’s easy to find food to suit every dietary requirement. Delicious organic food is only a hop, skip and a Google away in most parts of the big city. As a major foodie (and vegetarian!) I’m all over restaurants and cafes where I can get fresh, locally-produced food to nourish my greens-craving body and introduce my toddler to healthy and delicious cuisine (Kale is delicious! Promise!).

Angelica Kitchen: #Organic #Restaurants in #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com
Best dinner with friends: Angelica Kitchen (300 E 12th St, East Village, New York, NY)
Serving organic, plant-based food, Angelica is an East Village neighbourhood fave. They serve only top quality, organic fruits and vegetables (often served to diners less than 48 hours after being harvested). Note: Angelica Kitchen is vegan, and in addition to serving no meat, eggs, dairy or animal products, they also use no refined sugars or preservatives. Be sure to try their Southern Style Cornbread ($3.75), which Yelpers have written odes to. Gluten-intolerant diners are also well catered for at Angelica’s. No reservations, cash only. Bring kids on weekends – just be prepared to squish in, it’s tight quarters inside!

Cafe Blossom: #Organic #Restaurants in #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

Best weekend lunch: Cafe Blossom
The Blossom empire includes Blossom in Chelsea, Cafe Blossom on the UWS and West Village; V-Note, an organic wine bar and vegan bistro; Blossom Bakery in Chelsea; and Blossom Du Jour, open in three locations (67th st, Chelsea and Midtown West). My personal favorite is Cafe Blossom in the West Village, where I like to go for special occasions like Mother’s Day or a date lunch with my husband. Their fresh ingredients come from local farms and small distribution companies, and every dish is free of animal products. My favorite dishes are the Salt and Pepper Garlic Fries ($6, they keep the toddler happy), Fried Cashew Cheese Dumplings ($11), and the Avocado BLT with smoked tofu, sunflower sprouts, mayo, cashew cheese on toasted whole grain bread ($13). As an added bonus, they’re super kid-friendly – kind staff help diners with families feel right at home.

Sweetgreen: #Organic #Restaurants in #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

Best working lunch: Sweetgreen (1164 Broadway)
This salad transplant from DC recently opened in the NoMad Hotel. It’s the hotspot for local business folks to hit up during their lunch break, so if you go during the week expect a long line (which moves pretty quickly). Sweetgreen is all about salads made with with local and organic ingredients. Choose a seasonal monthly special (September’s salad is organic arugula,  shredded kale with local watermelon, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, organic mint, local feta, spicy sunflower seeds, champagne vinaigrette) or build-your-own (choose from bases like shredded kale or warm grains). With your kid? Go on a weekend to avoid the queues, and take your salad to nearby Madison Square park to let the kids run around while you enjoy your sweet Sweetgreen salad.

Candle 79: #Organic #Restaurants in #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

Best date night: Candle 79 (154 E 79th St)
The quiet, elegant atmosphere is perfect for a romantic date night. Diners enjoy vegan, seasonal and organic cuisine. Everything served is free of pesticides, chemicals, and hormones, and doesn’t include any genetically modified foods. Try the Live Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms ($24, with broccoli, cauliflower, corn, crunchy sprouts, cashew vegetable cheese, avocado sauce, pico de gallo) or the chef’s daily hand-cut pasta. Candle 79 is also a great place to take the family for a special early dinner out. The staff are friendly and accommodating to children.

Whole Foods: #Organic #Restaurants in #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

Best food on-the-go: Whole Foods
As well as being a super-expensive supermarket that stocks produce and ingredients for every possible dietary requirement, Whole Foods also has an amazing selection of prepared foods and a salad bar to die for. All ingredients are natural or organic and as many as possible are locally grown. This means no artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, preservatives or trans fats. I love to grab a salad from Whole Foods in the Time Warner building at Columbus Circle and take it to sit in Central Park for a delicious, reasonably-priced lunch. Whole Foods is an especially good respite when you’re out with kids. Great food and a casual dining area make for an easy, tasty place to eat, without the stress of going to a fancier restaurant.

Brunch Special: Hit the Town in Green Style with these Hip & Healthy Kids Picks

Today’s Brunch Special is courtesy of Marissa Zitka Abruzzo, President of Hip & Healthy Kids. She’s also a Board Certified Health Counselor, member of the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and a local New Jersey Mom to a 3-year-old cutie.

Remember the days of running out the door with your tiny purse full of only your wallet, phone, lip gloss and mints?  Neither do I. With kids, those days have been long replaced by feeling like a pack mule. However, with a little bit of organization and picking some super cool products, you will feel hipper and lighter than your four-legged equine friend.

The Bag
Let’s start with the bag. When selecting a diaper bag, I look for something waterproof and/or washable. A ton of pockets are not as important to me as long as there’s an easy way to organize.  I also look for a bag that makes a statement. Personally, I am not into bags with butterflies and flowers galore.  Instead, I want something that is fashionable, unique and socially responsible. This bag by Malia designs fits that bill. This fair trade messenger bag is not only socially conscious, but also environmentally-friendly. It’s made from recycled Vietnamese feed bags!   

 

Diapers
Next, I stock it up with my diapering selection. Perhaps you are a cloth diaperer?  If so check out this article to figure out how to make it work in a big way.  If you go the disposable route, select diapers that are free of chlorine processing, fragrances, and petroleum-based lotions like Seventh Generation Diapers. Also select wipes free of chlorine processing, fragrances, dyes, and alcohol like Seventh Generation Free & Clear Wipes.

Nursing Cover
I toss in my nursing cover next. I have one of these beauties from Udder Covers. 100% cotton, breathable and washable, these covers are a nursing mother-on-the-go must have. If you want one of your own, Hip & Healthy Kids has a deal for you. Check out their site and at enter in promo code “hhk” to get a free nursing cover (you only have to pay shipping and handling).

Udder Cover - green picks for moms via brunchwithmybaby.com

Food Containers
While we’re on the topic of eating…  If your little one is on to solids, pack up a ThinkBaby bento box. This eco-friendly, air tight, on-the-go travel container will keep your food fresh for hours. It’s a perfect size to throw into lunch boxes, baby bags, purses, and backpacks. It is BPA, PVC, Lead, Phthalates and Melamine free with a sleek stainless steel interior.  You will also be helping the environment with your reusable container instead of using harmful plastic baggies.

Hip & Healthy Kids readers can get their own bento box right from the online storefront (look under Kid’s Gear for the ThinkBaby products).

Sunscreen
For sunny days, I toss in one of my non-toxic sunscreens. Read more here to figure out what chemicals to avoid and how to select a non-toxic sunscreen. (Cheat sheet oxybenzone = bad.)

  

Hand Sanitizer
Lastly, I place my CleanWell thyme-based, biodegradable, and alcohol-free hand sanitizer in an easily accessible pouch.

Baby Carrier
For a child 45 lbs. and under, be sure to also bring along your Ergo Carrier. These carriers are made from natural fabrics, and the ergonomic design is key for parent and baby comfort. Ergo allows baby to be positioned in a natural cradle, so excessive pressure on the hips (which may result in hip dysplasia) is avoided. A bunch of fun colors/designs allow you to express yourself, since your cute shirt is likely concealed from public viewing.

Now gaze down into those beautiful little eyes, throw on your diaper bag and smile knowing that you are more than ready to take on the day in style.

Marissa Abruzzo, Hip and Healthy Kids, via brunchwithmybaby.comMarissa Zitka Abruzzo, MS, is a Board Certified Health Counselor, member of the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and President of Hip & Healthy Kids. Hip & Healthy Kids is THE place for information on how to maximize your family’s health while keeping things fun and hip. Marissa has transformed her holistic, eco-friendly, and nutritionally-focused vision into a fresh resource for modern families. Follow Hip & Healthy Kids on Facebook and on Twitter @HipHealthyKids.

 

petiteParade and Stride Rite at NY Fashion Week

The kind folks at Stride Rite invited me to attend their show at the petiteParade, the junior branch of NY Fashion Week. From my first row seat (wooo!!) I watched two parades – the showcase featuring collections by Andy & Evan, Floatimimi, Oil & Water, Stella Cove, SUOAK and Sweet Lola, and then the Stride Rite Children’s Group runway showcase.

The hosts of the showcases were twins Tristin and Tyler – two very sassy kids with their own website about their adventures in the big city.

It was impressive seeing little kids confident strutting their way up and down the runway, showing (for the most part) no hesitation at the wall of cameras at the end.

The Stride Rite Children’s Group runway showcase was a sneak peek at their Spring 2014 collection – full of floral accents and pops of bright color.

Flowers in the hair, spring sandals on the feet.

Denim, flowers and pretty sandals.

Superheros! Love this nod to Kill Bill.

I really enjoyed the show, seeing these gorgeous children modelling trends for next spring. I’m a big fan of Stride Rite shoes (Cheese has basically worn them since she started walking), so it was really fun seeing the spring line before it hits stores (and also before winter hits – I’m totally in denial).