Thursday, October 29, 2009

Eek, Halloween Recipes

Are we ready? The house is decorated, pumpkins are carved (or will be soon) and costumes are ready to go for Halloween. It is not too late to try one of these creative Halloween recipes with the kids. I love these.

Martha Stewart is at her best on Halloween with the most original recipes, crafts and ideas for entertaining. Look at the fun Candy Creature treats. The Little Devil Cupcake is my favorite.

Martha Stewart's Frightful Bites cookies are so festive with the gothic letters and powered sugar. And, fairly simple to make too. The letter templates are provided as well.

Classic carmel apples from 101cookbooks.com. I often read this recipe journal by Heidi Swanson with a focus on natural, whole foods. You can look at her halloween recipes.

And did you see the latest GOOP newsletter from Gwyneth Paltrow? Look at these Eyeball Cupcakes by Clare Crespo from Yummyfun.com. Eyeballs are made with gummy lifesavers and black jellybeans. (The Yummyfun.com site is clever and worth checking out.)

Versatile Girls Outerwear

I am on the hunt for a winter jacket for my daughter. With three girls (you would think one of the hand-me-downs would fit!) and a lot of coats, my goal this time is to find one that can be worn numerous ways because warm coats come with a price. Reversible, removable arms, hooded to hoodlesshere are some I have my eye on.

One Kid Toddler Hearts Revisible Jacket $98 now $78.40 at Bestdressedkids.com.
How cheery are these colors? For the days when she wants to wear pattern and those she doesn't.

I just noticed this one in the catalog! Sleeves, hood and fur are all removable! Love the yellow!

One Kid Reversible Down Coat $116 at Garnet Hill.
While I usually don't put my girls in black, I love this one! Reversible and a hood that tucks into collar.

Patagonia Kid's Infurno Jacket $140.00 $79.99 at MooseJaw.
My two oldest girls' staple jacket and Patagonia has discontinued it! Best deal with a zip-in fleece liner that they used on its own Spring through Fall. There is only XL left so if its the right size, scoop it up!

An alternative to the Patagonia above. I know white is a bit risky for a color choice, but the pink fleece liner is such a pretty color!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why Buy Organic Clothing?

I wish I had more time in my day to...oh...read the paper, the books on my bedside table and probably most importantly read up on topics that I know are important and directly relevant to my family. Organic clothing is on that list. Especially as Holly and I research children's clothing brands, we see organics as a large and growing category. We asked Anthia Nickerson the founder of UrthChilda site that offers premier natural products for babies, children, and mothersto tell us about organic clothing. Anthia has spent hours upon hours researching and I admire her and UrthChild's dedication to natural living and preserving our environment.

Why buy organic clothing? What are the biggest advantages?
"Organic clothing has two main benefits. First, it reduces your family's exposure to harmful chemicals
everything from pesticides and chemical fertilizers to heavy metals found in dyes and appliques. Organic clothing is also not impregnated with chemicals like flame retardants and anti-wrinkle treatments. Pesticides, fertilizers, formaldehyde, flame retardants, metals, and other chemicals have been linked to cancer, neurological damage, behavioral issues, and a host of other health problems, and children are the most vulnerable. The CDC estimates that 50% of a person's lifetime cancer risk is developed by the age of 2 years, and 35% of a person's lifetime exposure to pesticides has been obtained by the age of 5!

Second, because organic clothing is created in a toxin-free manner, the environment is spared pollution from these chemicals during agriculture, processing, dying, and finishing. Conventional (non-organic) cotton is one of the most polluting crops on the planet. Every year, 25% of the pesticides used in agriculture are sprayed on cotton crops. Nearly 100 billion pounds of chemicals are used in conventional US cotton agriculture each year, and half of the top 15 chemicals used in conventional cotton farming are considered cancer-causing by the Environmental Protection Agency. These pesticides eventually find their way to our water supplies where they wreak further havoc on the environment. The World Health Organization estimates that each year 3 million people suffer from pesticide poisoning, and approximately 20,000-40,000 deaths per year are attributed to pesticides. Soy- and bamboo-based fabrics are also a growing concern because of the chemicals used in either their agriculture or processing; some critics of soy have also raised concern about the increase in genetically-modified soy."


If it is just not feasible to buy all organic clothing, what pieces do you think are most important?
"No matter what a mom's resources and greatest wishes are, it is impossible to buy all organic clothing. When prioritizing my clothing purchases for my family, I would first try to buy organic clothing for my newborn, placing highest priority on the first layer on the baby's skin (e.g., a onesie) or anything a newborn or baby will likely chew on.

I would then try to buy organic pajamas for all children and adults. Many pajamas in the marketplace today are impregnated with flame retardant chemicals that are so harmful to our health. (If you cannot buy organic pajamas, avoid anything made from polyester, which is produced from petroleum and is highly flammable.) Organic sheets would also be an important purchase since we
especially babies and childrenspend so much time sleeping.

A final area of prioritization is to buy a piece of organic clothing that has a long useful life, such as a dress that can turn into a tunic, a pair of jeans that can be worn several times a week, or a jacket that can be worn daily."



What should we be aware of when buying organic children's products?
"The first thing I look for when shopping for organic clothing is its organic certification. Some clothing may be made from organic cotton, but it may have dyes with heavy metals or azo or other nasty chemicals. Looking for organic clothing certification, such as GOTS, will help you know that no toxic chemicals were allowed during the agriculture, processing, dying, and finishing of the garment. At UrthChild, we provide the organic certification information in each product description by clicking on the "UrthChild review" tab on a product's webpage.

The second thing to look for is the worrisome trend of "greenwashing." Greenwashing is affecting everything from house paint to skin care, and is a major problem in organic clothing. For example, a piece of clothing may be made out of organic bamboo, but the process of turning bamboo into fabric is chemical-intensive and very hard on the environment as the waste products during bamboo manufacturing escape into waterways and into the air. Sodium hydroxide (a major ingredient in Drano) and carbon sulfide are two chemicals used in bamboo manufacturing that are seriously harmful to human health. Some bamboo manufacturers say that they have moved to a more closed loop process to protect the environment, but many organic activists say that these newer manufacturing techniques aren't transparent and prevention of pollution cannot be easily verified. In addition, several recent scientific studies have also raised serious questions about the claims that bamboo is antibacterial and UV resistant."

What are your best-selling children's clothing products?
"Parents everywhere are editing down their children's wardrobes, and our bestsellers reflect this. Looking for pieces that can be worn often or even daily and investing in clothes that can grow with your child (e.g., dress to tunic) is truly eco-friendly, sustainable shopping.

For babies, our number one sellers are organic clothes that are versatile and can be worn daily, such as
organic cotton buntings for everyday use and onesies, which can be worn alone, as layering pieces, and as nightwear.

For older girls, our bestsellers include the
Sarah Waldo Organics Beatrice Dress, which a girl can wear for several
seasons because once it's too short to be worn as a dress, it becomes the cutest tunic. Another bestsellers for girls is the Anna Nightie from Sarah Waldo Organics. The Anna Nightie has a bit of a celebrity following, and it is absolutely dreamy. I've had moms tell me that their daughters want to wear it every night. For boys, jeans by LOVE IS Organic Denim and cargo pants by Look Organics are big sellers because they look good, are versatile, and are items that will receive a ton of use.

In the winter, our
organic wool/silk long johns fly off the shelves. Organic wool is a wonderful natural fiber because it is naturally temperature-regulating, is self-cleaning and doesn't need to be washed often, and is naturally flame resistant."

A look from Sarah Waldo Organic's Fall 2009 (arriving at UrthChild next week).

Are there any brands in the children's organic market that are particular stand-outs?
"We absolutely love
Sarah Waldo Organics for girls. Sarah Waldo's clothing is so stylish and well tailored that it appeals to moms who aren't necessarily into organic clothing. Sarah, a Parsons School of Design "Designer of the Year", is also a bit of a trailblazer: She is helping shatter the idea that organic clothing is "crunchy" or "granola." She designs her clothing so that it is modest yet fashionable, and she really emphasizes the need for an item of clothing to last by over several seasons by incarnating from a dress to a shirt, for example. Her line reflects elegance, whether it is in a special occasion jacket or dress or an everyday basic. We also love how Sarah is committed to manufacturing her clothes in the USA."


Monday, October 26, 2009

Some Halloween Costume Help?

I admit, I determined this weekend that the well planned homemade costume for our third child was not coming together. Thankfully, I stumbled upon the Little Daydreamer hats by Elope. These hats are perfect for that person who yearns for the homemade, yet wants (or needs) some assistance to pull it off. It still leaves plenty of room for creativity. The quality is good and price is right. Go to Amazon to find the hats, and yes, you can still get this week.

Top: 1. Space Man $19.99, 2. Mushroom $15.69, 3. Bear Hug $15.99.
Bottom: 1. Big Bad Wolf $24.14, 2. Robotman $19.98, 3. Red Velvet Ant $14.98

Sunday, October 25, 2009

EcoSNEAKS for Kids

My babysitter walked in this weekend in this sharp pair of sneakers. She was wearing EcoSNEAKS which reminded me a bit of understated Pumas. The Kid's Satire, an eco-friendly suede shoe, is made from recycled goods. The shoe bottoms are recycled car tire, the foot inserts are recycled consumer paper and the lining and laces are organic cotton. The price ($42) is reasonable too. A cool shoe in all ways.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Unique Baby Gifts at Estella

This week, Hadley and I have had such fun looking through the bestsellers of the different stores we are with working with at tada! shop. One of the stores, Estella, a popular children's boutique in the West Village in NYC, is known for their unique baby gifts. Their list of bestselling baby gifts spans the classic to the precious to the really fun. The price points vary too. Something for everyone, enjoy.

Elephant Print Onsie $35. Love this bold onsie. Hello, I am here! Many unique onsies from which to choose. The Embroidered Chick Onsie is a top seller for girls.

Larucci Faux Fur Baby Blanket $120. Reverses to ultra suede. Softer than cashmere and machine washable. I want one!

Cherry Wood Baby Rattle Teether $18. Natural, made from cherry wood and finished in beeswax.

Jess Brown Fairy Dolls $85. These very special dolls are as much a gift to most mothers as to the newborn. A smaller version of her larger dolls with delicate wings on her back. No two dolls are alike, hand made from tea dyed cotton muslin and reclaimed fabrics. Be sure to also look at the large ballerina and butterfly dolls.

Black Musical Baby Rattle by Harmony Ball. $75. The beautiful silver rattle is a classic. This rattle has 16 different tones.

Their blog also offers more good thoughts on baby gifts.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mini Rodini Winter Wear!

How warm and cozy does this look? I saw it on Sweet William's site today and I admit it made me want the temperatures to drop! Both hat and parka are from Mini Rodini and the price compared to what I am seeing kids' hats and coats costing is a deal. Now just trying to figure out if I can squeeze my head into one too!

Mini Rodini Faux Fur Hat $38 and Shiny Puffy Jacket $98 (also available in red).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Flying Turtles!

At a friends' house this past weekend, the toy of choice was one I had never seen, The Flying Turtle. The girls and boys ages 2 to 7 were enthralled. Even better, room for injury was minimal. Low to ground, the children put their feet up on the handle bars and steer. I couldn't believe they moved anywhere but they did. Turns out it was designed by a retired Boeing engineer for his grandson in the 1970s. Clearly I can't claim a brand new discovery, but I hope it will put some of you ahead for the holidays!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tada! It's Almost Here

As the launch of tadashop.com is around the corner, we want to make sure everyone signs up to be the first to know. We have set out to create a better way to find products for our kids. Our new site will bring together popular name brands with specialty brands and boutiques–all in one place. J.Crew, Mini Boden, Olive Juice Kids, Neige, Peek...Aren't You Curious just to name a few. You will be able mix styles, brands and price points to create the one perfect shopping list.

And we didn’t stop there. As the moms of three girls and three boys, Hadley and Holly will constantly curate to bring you our finds. Throughout our respective careers at Martha Stewart and Style.com, we’ve met many incredible women who have inspired us and will help us scout, share their picks and inspire you as well.
tada! shop is as much for the busy, style conscious mom as it is for the deal-seeking one.

SIGN UP now, pleeease.

Photo: Rachel McGinn

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monster Tees for Kids

I have searched far and wide for monsters. Here are three terrific monster tees for the kids. Perfect to get in the mood for Halloween, but sure to be a loved long after.

Monster Kids Horns T-shirt at Polkadot Patch $38. So cute.

Mini Boden Monster T-shirt $28. Never appreciated their selection of monsters! Also have Monster Applique T-shirts.

Winter Water Factory Fuzzy Monster T-shirt $36.

Create+Celebrate With Cocodot

I love stationary. All kinds. And I love ordering party invitations. So I admit, I have never warmed up to evite. With Cocodot, a new site offering similar services but with great designs and personalization options, I am changing my tune. Done at my computer with time to focus, no paper wasted, no printing or postage costs, no rsvp tracking, and a beautiful inviteI have to try it! Electronic envelope included.

A sampling of Cocodot's kids' birthday party invitations.

My first Cocodot invitation!


Note: Cocodot is in beta right now so working out kinks.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kids and Smart Storage

I was fortunate enough to have met Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, the founder and NY editor of Apartment Therapy, while working at Martha Stewart. Always full of unique perspective and practical advice, I asked if he would share his thoughts on how to manage kids and all their "stuff" (or dare I say, clutter). So many of us find organizing and managing children's toys, books, artwork, or even clothes, a daily challenge. A practitioner of "less is more," he takes it to a degree that was even surprising to me.

Do you have an overarching approach to organizing children and their stuff?
"Children, more so than adults, are natural collectors of stuff. Parents should not be surprised that they have more things coming into their lives. The challenge is how to allow for it and build a doorway by which the stuff goes out again. We need to remember that children care most about what is right in front of them at the moment. They are not archivers by nature, we are."

Maxwell summed it up in these words from his book "If you have the filter way at the front door, you don't have to deal with the other problems later." He and his wife, Sara Kate, are "careful editors and careful buyers. We have to be given the rate children produce and collect."

The bedroom of Maxwell's 3 year old daughter. Edited while incredibly inviting and warm.

Maxwell made his point. We all should work on that filter, our upfront editing.

That said, will you offer some smart strategies or systems for parents to store toys?
"First, it is important to take old toys out, as you move new toys in. There is much less attachment to toys. Most are heavily used and then totally forgotten. So, keep to a minimum. Take them to charity. Most of all, kids want to play pretend like they are their parents."

For storage, he likes "open bins that can sit on the floor and be moved around. It is important for children to be able to see what is in the bins. If something is hidden, it is out of mind. It is important to keep toys fresh and accessible." He prefers the clear, rigid plastic storage bins such as these from the Container Store. Storage should be unified. "To the extent possible, keep all toys in a child's room and, for example, all art supplies in the playroom. The toys can move around the house, but should all go back in the child's room." (He acknowledges that this is easier to do in a small apartment.)

Ideal storage bins with toys and stuffed animals.

What are your suggestions and systems for storing children's artwork?
As a parent and former teacher at a Waldorf School, Maxwell stresses the importance of reinforcing today and not dwelling on the past. When artwork is saved, it slows down children as there becomes pressure to replicate. Here is his solution for storing and displaying art:

1. Keep something representative of the session or moment.
2. It is important to have a real, caring space. The refrigerator is not enough. His mother had an entire brick wall for display.
3. Keep only the best from the session. Early on, throw away work out of your children's sight.
4. If you commit to collecting artwork, you must care for it. He likes the artist folders for preserving work. If you have space, he loves the flat file drawers (in stacks of 2-3) and would put in the playroom.
5. For display of artwork, there are several options. He and his wife use blu tack, a simple adhesive, to hang their daughter's art. You can also buy chipboard, cut and paint it for a big section of your wall. Alternatively, you can frame a corkboard. Be sure to paint the frame the same color of the room "so it does not become more visual clutter." Finally, if you prefer a more modern look, try magnetic paint (the same color of the wall) to hang work with magnets.

Interestingly, Maxwell is not a proponent of framing artwork for younger children. "That makes it too special. It needs to be a moving display. Children love change and want to show you what they have done now."

Flat files for artwork. See Apartment Therapy's round up of flat files and cabinets.

Thank you Maxwell. We are all inspired and smarter. Be sure to check out Apartment Therapy's site for children, Ohdeedoh.com, for many great storage ideas.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are...

Two days 'til Where the Wild Things Are comes out! Everywhere I turn, there is a promo for it and I have to say I AM SO EXCITED! I am definitely not alone, look at what brands from Oeuf to Ugg are coming up with...for kids and their parents.


Ugg Australia's Limited Edition Kids Boots. Available for pre-order October 24. Boots feature Max's Crown or Peeping Eyes.

Cookie's Max Halloween costume.

Where the Wild Things Are Dolls $28 at Urban Outfitters.
This was the doll I had growing up. It was around for quite a while.

Get the kids excited with the Where the Wild Things Are iPhone App.

Not just for kids! Opening Ceremony has launched a line of products in celebration of the movie. Check out their NYC windows and store displays.

Where the Wild Things Are opens in theaters October 16th.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What We Are Reading: Peter Sis

Looking for a book recommendation for the younger reader? Take the time to look at author-artist, Peter Sis, and his rich selection of children's books. I recently purchased one of his wonderful picture books, Dinosaur, for our 2-year old after reading Fire Truck until the pages were worn out. His books are such a pleasure at so many levels, for children and adults too. The beauty is that his books span not only the imaginative board books for toddlers, but also the historical fiction books for the elementary age child. The illustrations are the highlight, so extraordinary with much left to the imagination of the reader. The stories, frequently with no or minimal words, are clever too. A beautiful and original gift to remember.

We love these imaginative picture books. Dinosaur $7.99 at Amazon. The adventure of a young boy when he hops into the bathtub with his dinosaur and it becomes much more. Fire Truck $6.99 at Amazon. Peter Sis wrote this for his son who loved fire trucks. A young boy wakes up as a fire truck. Ballerina is another favorite for girls.

Madlenka $11.56 at Amazon, ages 4-8. What an amazing book. The adventures of a NYC girl whose loose tooth leads to her visits "around the world" to tell all.

Starry Messenger $12.24 at Amazon, ages 6 and up. An inspiring store of Galileo. A 1997 Caldecott Honor Book, one of several won by Peter Sis. The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain $12.24 at Amazon, ages 8 and up. This book Recounts Sis' childhood growing up in Cold War era Prague. A 2008 Caldecott Honor Book.

StrollerTraffic's Mention of Tada! Shop

We were so excited to get our weekly email from StrollerTraffic today. While we are incredibly sad about Cookie folding (we did get giddy when it would arrive!), StrollerTraffic offers some great new suggestions for blogs and sites for moms. Some we follow already and some are new ones to explore. We are honored to be included on the list!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Girls' Blouses to Dress Them Up

As my girls get older, I find that tees work for most days. There are those times though when we have somewhere to go that doesn't require dressy but it would be nice to throw on a blouse with the cords. I have rounded up six that I think are fail-safe and look as good with pants as they do with skirts.

My 7-year-old in her Olive Juice Stella Blouseshe asks to wear it! I love how she wears it with her white Converse sneakers for school or her favorite brown boots for a family dinner out.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Memorable Childhood Meals

I had one of those childhood best friends where we spent each Friday and Saturday night together. Her mother was a wonderful, relaxed cook. Those meals (and desserts) are a fond childhood memory of mine that i still hang on to today. For our wedding, her mother gave us a book with all the recipes that i grew up eating at her house. What a thoughtful, lasting gift. Each recipe brings back memories that make me smile, from the smells to sitting at the small marble table in her kitchen. Here are some of my favorites for you. More than anything, remember that your cooking can have lasting memories.

Corn Pudding. I grew up on this Southern favorite. Clearly, the recipe is getting a lot of use. My children love it too.

Apple Crisp. She seemed to always whip up an apple crisp. Perfect for this time of year.

Waffles. I still remember my friend's waffle iron. I make these waffles all the time, easy. I like to substitute with whole wheat flour.

Lacy Cookies. These Lacy cookies were a favorite during the holidays.

Cheese Souffle. I ate cheese souffle all the time growing up. Can you believe it? I remember eating it cold the day after, as much as warm. We always ate it with asparagus. (I know this recipe is nearly ineligible, but i had to include a mention of cheese souffle.)