Adventure, baby!

New York

aden + anais skin care and laundry care review & GIVEAWAY

We’ve been huge fans of aden + anais since we each first laid our hands on our aden +anais muslin swaddles when our babies were born. Many swaddles later, we were delighted to hear that the same brand that is synonymous with high-quality products for babies and toddlers had also released their mum + bub skin care and laundry care ranges. Both product ranges are free of all the nasty things you don’t want touching your baby’s (and your own!) skin (like phthalates, petrochemicals, and lots of other icky stuff).

We took each of the new products from the laundry and skin care ranges for a spin and here are our findings (giveaway at the end!):

mum + bub skin care

aden + anais mum + bub skin care range review and GIVEAWAY - via brunchwithmybaby.comsoothing ointment
Christine: I nearly jumped with joy when I saw that “pawpaw” was the focal element of this range. Pawpaw is an ingredient used in many of the skin care that I grew up with and loved in Australia. It’s renowned for its soothing, cleansing and protective qualities for skin. A little goes a long way with this ointment—I’ve been using the tub for three months and have barely made a dent in it. I love using it as a lip balm, but I also use it to treat minor cuts, insect bites, and even wind-burn. On Cheese, I use it as a diaper ointment, or if she has minor grazes, and also as a lip balm! (She likes to copy her mama.) Available in two sizes (3oz tube, $15.95; 6oz tub, $28.95).


aden + anais mum + bub skin care range review and GIVEAWAY - via brunchwithmybaby.comhair + body wash 

Christine: I love using this hair and body wash on Cheese. A small squirt in the hand covers her completely, foams up well, and gets her squeaky clean. She smells fresh (must be the inclusion of Australian Sandalwood in the ingredients) and her skin feels silky afterwards. The wash is moisturising, tear-free, and can be used to wash and condition hair as well. Comes in one size, (12 oz bottle, $15.95.)

 


aden + anais mum + bub skin care range review and GIVEAWAY - via brunchwithmybaby.comultra-gentle lotion

Alexis: I was sold on the smell of the lotion alone, but when I used it on Little J after his bath I found that it was also rich without being sticky. It absorbed right into his skin. Little J has sensitive skin and is prone to eczema but he has done really well with this lotion — his skin is soft with no rough patches. Plus, it is cheaper than some other comparable “natural” high-end lotions that I have used on him. I also like that it was formulated with a dermatologist. (12 oz pump dispenser, $15.95.)

laundry care

aden + anais laundry care range review and GIVEAWAY - via brunchwithmybaby.comdetergent
Alexis: The Laundress New York (a brand known for their gentle yet effective, eco-friendly, and toxin-free products) and aden + anais came together to develop this deliciously smelling and naturally derived line of laundry products. The result is nothing short of heavenly. I’ve always lusted after The Laundress products but have never had the heart to fork over half a paycheck for them. But ever since I had a baby, I’ve been paying extra attention to the ingredients in my products and how they affect my son’s skin (and yeah, paying extra dough for it as well). I love the way his clothes and mine smell. It is absolutely intoxicating, plus I know that we are not wearing any extra chemicals along with our summer wardrobes. I use a smaller amount than the label recommends for a regular load in my washer, and it still does the job. Eau de aden + anais! (33.3 oz bottle, $22.95.)

aden + anais laundry care range review and GIVEAWAY - via brunchwithmybaby.com

aden+anais fabric softener GIVEAWAY via brunchwithmybaby.comfabric softener
Christine: aden + anais recommend using the fabric softener with the detergent in every wash. I’ve been using it as directed and our clothes are definitely soft and smell amazing. The fabric softener is naturally-derived and free of petroleum, dyes, SLS and tallow. (16 fl. oz bottle, $16.95.)

 

 

aden + anais laundry care range review and GIVEAWAY - via brunchwithmybaby.com

chlorine-free bleach 
Christine: I’ve been using this bleach in conjunction with the detergent and fabric softener, and I’ve definitely noticed that our white towels look crisper and whiter. The dirty marks from ice-cream-covered toddler hands have come right out. Nothing short of a miracle.
(16 fl oz bottle, $15.)

 

 

GIVEAWAY!

aden + anais mum + bub skin care range review and GIVEAWAY - via brunchwithmybaby.comWe love both ranges so much that we have arranged for one lucky reader to win an entire set of the mum + bub skin care and laundry care ranges, plus one signature “Monster Mash” burpy bib set. Total prize value is $145.70.

Competition closes midnight, Tuesday August 27, 2013.

Entry open to US mailing addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Emack and Bolio's: Kid-Friendly Ice Creamery, UES, New York

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I’ve been known to walk a long way for ice cream. Such as this day, when I walked from the west side of Central Park, at 95th street, to 1st avenue and 82nd street just to check out Emack and Bolio’s and satisfy my ice cream craving. (Tip: I actually advise doing this as then your ice cream is totally guilt-free.) Emack and Bolios, UES ice creamery, via brunchwithmybaby.com
This ice cream chain out of Boston specialises in wacky flavors, and are the originators of the “flavored cone” (think waffle cone covered in Fruit Loops, Fruit Pebbles or Oreos). I’m a huge fan of ice cream with big chunks of goodies in it, which is why, after reading a review describing them as similar to my long-time love Ben & Jerry’s, I badly wanted to check them out.

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The flavors (they boast 100 per year) are indeed wacky. Flavors on the menu include “Caramel Moose Prints” (I’m guessing caramel … and moose?) and “Cosmic Crunch” (vanilla with caramel, choc chips, nuts, toffee, cookies pieces).

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The staff were super friendly and happy to hand out as many samples as I wanted to try. I sampled “Purple Cow” (black raspberry with white and dark choc chips). It was delicious, but I was in the mood for something a bit more chocolatey, so I settled on “Serious Chocolate Addiction” (chocolate with chocolate chips and fudge chunks — single scoop, $4.25). I was told that these are two of their most popular flavors, and I can certainly see why. The chocolate ice cream had lots of big chunks of other chocolate goodies, swirled in a rich, delicious ice cream base.

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We sat on stools and people-watched while we enjoyed our ice creams. Note: there are only bar stools at the window to sit on. No chairs and tables indoors. You can, however, sit outside on the bench with your stroller parked in front of you.

Last bite: A fun place to stop for some seriously funky ice cream. Delicious treats for adults and kids alike.

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

Emack and Bolio’s
1564 1st Ave
New York, NY 10028
Phone: (212) 734-0105
Prices $
Hours: Sun-Thur 12pm-10pm Sun 12pm-11pm

Fete Paradiso, Governor’s Island

A beautiful afternoon trip to Governor’s Island to check out the Fete Paradiso and their vintage 1930s carnival rides. The rides were mostly for older kids or adults – the only ones toddlers fit on were not exactly the safest. The rides were beautifully restored, and a real treat to see and experience.

Children's Museum of Manhattan + Cafe Lalo: Kid-Friendly Activities, UWS, NY

Children's Museum of Manhattan - via brunchwithmybaby.com

On a stupidly hot day, we were dying for an indoor space with super strong air-conditioning, where Cheese could also run around. We caught the A/C train straight up to 81st street to check out the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM).

Children's Museum of Manhattan - via brunchwithmybaby.com

The CMOM is a five-story paradise for kids. Each floor contains either permanent or special exhibits, which are highly interactive, and suitable for children of all ages— from birth on up. Cheese, at 22 months, particularly loved the “PlayWorks” exhibit, featuring a fire truck, MTA bus and a giant talking dragon who “eats” letters.

Children's Museum of Manhattan - via brunchwithmybaby.com
Riding atop the letter-eating dragon.

Other exhibits of note included an outdoor water play area in summer, a mural wall for kids to play on, a sand pit, a soft play area for babies and a Dora The Explorer rainforest world (with a jungle canopy and play exotic animal exhibits for kids to discover).

We went on the 4th of July holiday and it was not overly busy, which you’d expect on a public holiday (maybe everyone was out barbecuing?).  You’ll need to check your stroller at the entrance, so bring a carrier for kids who aren’t strong walkers. Also, there are  easy-to-access bathrooms with change tables available.

Cafe Lalo - kid-friendly cafes, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

After working up an appetite we ducked into Cafe Lalo across the street (which is worth a visit on its own any day!) for a snack.

Cafe Lalo - kid-friendly cafes, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com
“Lalo’s Special”: frozen yogurt with fresh berries and an apple turnover.

Since it was so hot, we each ordered the “Lalo’s Special” ($11.50). It’s a bowl of frozen yogurt with your choice of berries, fruit or nuts, and a fresh-baked breakfast pastry of your choice. We both ordered ours with the berries and went with an apple danish and cranberry scone since they were only two remaining pastries. As always, the yogurt was perfect, with the fresh mixed berries giving sweet zings of flavour to the tart yogurt. While the pastries weren’t our first choices (I’d usually go for a pain au chocolat, and Alec a plain crossant), they were delicious. The apple danish was flaky with big chunks of apple, and the cranberry scone was densely packed with sweet bursts of cranberry.

Cafe Lalo - kid-friendly cafes, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

We let Cheese share our dishes—she loved the yogurt and berries most of all.

Cafe Lalo - kid-friendly cafes, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com

Cafe Lalo is actually known for two things—desserts (they have over 100 whole cakes, pies and tarts available), and for a famous scene in the movie “You’ve Got Mail“, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. As such, it’s always packed, either with lovers of sweets like myself, or busloads of tourists—who showed up at just the same time we did that day. The tourists mostly stayed in the front of the cafe to order a dessert to go, so it wasn’t as obtrusive as you’d expect.

Cafe Lalo - kid-friendly cafes, NY, via brunchwithmybaby.com
Parisian interior.

The interior—with its walls covered in Toulouse Lautrec-esque prints—is charmingly Parisian. If you block out the decidedly non-European voices around you, it’s easy to imagine you’re in a cafe in Paris.

Taking children to Cafe Lalo is a mixed bag. They’re not especially set up for kids, so come prepared for your visit —you’ll need to leave the stroller outside, and be sure to speak up and ask for anything you need for your child.

Last bite: Drop by for a snack or dessert for a touch of Paris on the UWS. Kids are welcome—order them a pastry or share a “Lalo’s Special” for a fun afternoon (or morning) treat.

Stroller storage: You can’t bring your stroller inside, but they’ll store it for you somewhere mysterious under the restaurant.
Easy access: No. Quite a few steps.
Change tables: No. The bathrooms are pretty small.
Kids’ menu: No, but there’s so much to choose from, from bagels and muffins to steamed eggs or homemade waffles.

Cafe Lalo
201 West 83rd St. (between Amsterdam Ave. & Broadway)
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 496-6031
Prices: $$
Hours: Mon-Thur 8am-2am; Fri 8am-4am; Sat 9am-4am Sun 9am-2am. Holidays until 4am.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan
212 W. 83rd St (between Amsterdam Ave. & Broadway)
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 721-1234
Hours: Sun-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat 10am-7pm. Closed Mondays.

Vive la Crepe: Kid-Friendly Cafes, SoHo, New York

Vive La Crepe - kid-friendly cafes, SoHo, New York
Now that Cheese is always on the go and eating out is getting harder, we love to stop by Vive la Crêpe whenever we pass through SoHo. Sometimes we grab a crêpe to go, and sometimes we sit and eat if it’s not busy. Vive la Crepe satisfies all of our needs during this period of our toddler’s life—quick service and tasty food we can easily eat while chasing a dizzyingly fast kid.

Vive La Crepe - kid-friendly cafes, SoHo, New York
Cooking station.

I always order the same savoury crêpe—the Number 3 (Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil, $9). It’s huge, but not massively filling—the perfect meal for when you’re kinda hungry, but not in the mood to eat a heavy meal. The mozzarella is fresh and the batter is just sweet enough without being overly sweet and taking over the other flavours.

Vive La Crepe - kid-friendly cafes, SoHo, New York
Number 3 – Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil, $9

What’s great about a crêpe is that you can eat it with just one hand—either while seated (the luxury!) or while chasing a toddler who looks similar to the disheveled monkey below.

Vive La Crepe - kid-friendly cafes, SoHo, New York
Cheeky monkey.

On this most recent  visit we asked if they could make something for our toddler that was small enough for her to hold and eat by herself (since toddlers are all about being independent). They obliged by making Cheese her own complimentary plain pancake out of the crepe batter.

Vive La Crepe - kid-friendly cafes, SoHo, New York
Complimentary baby crepe.

Cheese loved having her own crepe/pancake to hold and to chew on.

Vive La Crepe - kid-friendly cafes, SoHo, New York

Vive La Crepe - kid-friendly cafes, SoHo, New York
Kid on the run.

Last bite: As always, Vive la Crêpe is a fantastic place to grab quality food if you’re in a hurry and want to eat one-handed, or if you’re in need of a casual, light lunch while out with your kids.

Highchairs: No.
Stroller storage: No. There is a small space next to the counter where you can fold a stroller, or if it’s pretty empty inside you can park the stroller next to your table.
Easy access: Yes. One step to get in.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No. But they do take special requests.

Vive La Crepe
51 Spring St. (between Mulberry St. & Lafayette St.)
New York, NY 10012
Price: $
Phone: (646) 484 6897
Hours: Mon-Sat 8am-12am, Sun 9am-12am

Get directions.

Vive la crêpe! on Urbanspoon

My 34th Birthday in NYC

For this year’s birthday, Alec planned an extravaganza of events, spanning three days. Good call, as Eloise had the worst night sleep the night before my actual birthday, leaving Alec a zombie and Eloise cranky all day.

On my actual birthday all we could handle was a casual lunch at Keste Pizza in the West Village, followed by gelato at PopBar.

Outside PopBar, Eloise was desperate to eat my gelato. See my beautiful Tiffany blue bracelet from Alec?

Since there was nothing else to be done, we then took Eloise to run around in a playground.
Saturday night Alec treated me to a delicious dinner at Boloud Sud. The food was exquisite, the service friendly, and they served me a birthday dessert. Yay! It was wonderful for Alec and I to have some time together, just the two of us. 
Afterwards, we walked through Central Park.
Sunday was lunch with close friends Dan and Sue. We had a casual lunch at my fave local comfort food-provider, Bark Hot Dogs
… followed by my favourite ice cream at Ample Hills Creamery. Notice how all the celebrating is about FOOD?
Thank you Alec for so thoughtfully planning a wonderful birthday for me. xoxox

Who Are We?: An Animal Guessing Game

We love books in our house. Both my husband and I have enjoyed reading since we were super small, so we read with Eloise as much as we can.

One of her current favourite books is Who Are We?: An Animal Guessing Game?, written by Alexis Barad-Cutler, a local Brooklyn mum to a toddler almost the same age as missy Eloise – so she really knows her market well.

Who Are We?: An Animal Guessing Game

Who Are We?: An Animal Guessing Game is a board book with flaps that lift to reveal the animals that have been mentioned in rhyme on the previous page. The animals featured in the book range from cute penguins to snakes and the arctic wolf. Each spread features a riddle to help guess the animal, and then a detail about them under the flap that you might not know. (Leopards take their prey into trees to eat. Who knew?)

Who Are We?: An Animal Guessing Game

Eloise’s favourite animal in the book is the snake (Ssssssssss!). She loves lifting the flaps and revealing the animals underneath. At almost two, she’s too young to understand the riddle and answer concept, so it’s a great book for her to grow into and find something to enjoy at different stages of her development.

Who Are We?: An Animal Guessing Game is available from Amazon.

Ample Hills Creamery: Kid-Friendly Cafes, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, NY

Summer to me means one thing—the unrelenting search for the city’s best ice cream. My current fave is Ample Hills, which I discovered when they opened up a concession stand at Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Ample Hills Creamery, kid-friendly places to eat, Prospect Heights, New York, via brunchwithmybaby.com

The concession stand in the park usually has about eight flavors, but I was curious as to what frozen delights I would find at the actual Ample Hills Creamery cafe in Prospect Heights. We made the pilgrimage to Ample Hills Creamery one hot summer’s day to check out the full shebang. The name for the creamery came from a Walt Whitman poem, who liked to wax lyrical about what an awesome place Brooklyn was back in the 1800s (he was an early adopter). The poem goes: “I too lived. Brooklyn of ample hills was mine…” And thus, Ample Hills Creamery was born, using only the freshest local and hormone-free ingredients. The dairy and eggs come from farms in upstate New York.

The first Ample Hills ice cream was sold out of a cart to concert-goers in Prospect Park. It didn’t take long for an ice cream cult to form and grow to the point where a shop was needed to keep up with the demand.

Ample Hills Creamery, kid-friendly places to eat, Prospect Heights, New York, via brunchwithmybaby.com

The creamery itself has a lot of space inside—tables, chairs and a little play area for kids in the rear. It’s geared towards people buying a sundae and sitting down to chat, rather than ordering a cone and taking it to go (although you can do both, I’d recommend enjoying your ice cream while taking in the quirky ambiance inside).

Ample Hills Creamery, kid-friendly places to eat, Prospect Heights, New York, via brunchwithmybaby.com

The Ample Hills flavours border on the wacky and wild sides, such as their Cotton Candy (which is slate blue), Salted Crack Caramel and Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, which has giant chunks of butter cake mixed into the ice cream.

Ample Hills Creamery, kid-friendly places to eat, Prospect Heights, New York, via brunchwithmybaby.com

Their speciality is the “Build a Sundae” ($7.60) — a warm, homemade brownie, topped with your choice of 24 kinds of ice cream, whipped cream, and sprinkles. Buy it to share between at least two people, it’s pretty big.

Ample Hills Creamery, kid-friendly places to eat, Prospect Heights, New York, via brunchwithmybaby.com

My Ample Hills staples are Sweet Cookies ‘n Cream, Sweet as Honey and Ooey Gooey Butter Cake. A single serve is $2.75, a double $4.35. I usually get one cone to share with Cheese but lately she’s been eating the lion’s share so pretty soon she will likely need her own.

Ample Hills Creamery, kid-friendly places to eat, Prospect Heights, New York, via brunchwithmybaby.com
Ooey Gooey Butter Cake on top, Sweet as Honey underneath.

After eating our ice cream, we take Cheese to the back section of the creamery, to play in the kids area. It’s thoughtfully planned out with a play kitchen and shop front — selling ice cream, of course — and a bookshelf filled with kids books on ice cream. Cheese is in heaven. We’re stuffed with ice cream. Mission accomplished.

Ample Hills Creamery, kid-friendly places to eat, Prospect Heights, New York
Some fake ice cream after the real stuff.

Last bite: This ice cream shop serves seriously delicious, naturally and locally-made frozen treats. It’s the perfect respite from a steamy summer’s day — plan to sit in for a while, eat up, and let the kids play.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: Yes.
Kids’ menu: Yes. Kid-sized scoops of ice cream.

Ample Hills Creamery
623 Vanderbilt Ave,
Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (347) 240 3926
Prices: $
Hours: Sun-Thurs 12pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-12am

Get directions.

Ample Hills Creamery on Urbanspoon

Coney Island Day Trip: Totonno’s Pizza + NY Aquarium

Totonno’s - kid-friendly restaurants, Coney Island - via brunchwithmybaby.com
Huge pizza. No problem.

A day trip to Coney Island for most people is about sun, fun and hotdogs. For us however, it is all about pizza at Totonno’s, which is quite possibly the best pizza in New York. Big call, I know. But Totonno’s has plenty of press to back them up over the nine decades they’ve been open, as one of the best pies you’ll get in NYC.

Let’s back up a bit: After hearing about the Totonno’s reputation soon after we moved here from Sydney, we were determined to put their pizza to the test. So we decided to make a day trip of it, beginning with pizza and ending with a visit to the nearby NY Aquarium.

We were a bit wary after walking through a few Coney Island back streets, past auto-mechanics, to a nondescript storefront that opened to an old-school diner. Was this really home to one of New York’s best pizzas? We were dubious, but decided to stay and try it out anyway. Note to readers — our visit and these pics were taken before the hurricane, and before Totonno’s remodeling following the disaster. The pizza however, is exactly the same.

Totonno’s - kid-friendly restaurants, Coney Island
Waiting for food in the low-key dining area.

Totonno’s is not a fancy place. It’s more like your grandma’s 1970’s-style kitchen—no frills tables and chairs, old pictures on the walls, and the menu spelled out in tiles above the ordering window. The service was also similar to what you’d get at your grandparents’ house — friendly and casual, with a strong likelihood that one of the owners themselves would be serving you. (Totonno’s is owned by three siblings; Antoinette Balzano, Frank Balzano and Louise Ciminieri; whose grandparents opened the restaurant.) Totonno’s was closed for five months after Hurricane Sandy ripped through Coney Island, opening again on March 24 to the rapture of locals and tourists alike.

The pizza itself is MASSIVE. Absolutely huge. We ordered a large, plain cheese pizza ($19.50). Of course we ate every single last bite. With a pizza that good, it’s a crime to leave a sad little crust behind. And yes, it is as good as it’s reputed to be. The crispy dough, the perfect layering of delicious tomato sauce, and  the dollops of fresh mozzarella cheese: Heaven. Go to Coney Island, just for this pizza. If you want something not-pizza, go somewhere else, as this is the only thing they serve on the menu. Add extra toppings for $2.50 each.

When we visited, Cheese was too young to do anything except gnaw on a pizza crust, which she highly enjoyed anyway. They did have a highchair, but we opted to hold her in our laps.

Coney Island via brunchwithmybaby.com
Coney Island beach.

After stuffing yourself with amazing pizza, walk on down to the Coney Island boardwalk to check out the beach and do some people watching.

New York Aquarium via brunchwithmybaby.com
New York Aquarium, Coney Island

Then wander on down like we did, to the also recently re-opened NY Aquarium (at Surf Avenue & West 8th Street) and get up close and personal with some seriously cute sea life. The aquarium also suffered a beating during the hurricane and is still being rebuilt. Several of the animal exhibits have reopened, like the penguins, sea lions, otters and walruses.

Last bite: A family-owned pizzeria that loves families. Scarf down some of the best pizza in NYC, then check out the also recently re-opened New York Aquarium for the perfect day trip.

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

Totonno’s
1524 Neptune Ave
(between 15th St & 16th St)
Brooklyn, NY 11224
Phone: (718) 372 8606
Price: $$
Hours: Wed-Sun 12pm-8pm

Get directions.

Totonno's on Urbanspoon