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Tuesday
Jun242014

Visit :: Prospect Heights

Recently, I gave a little tour of my neighborhood over on the Little Hip Squeaks blog as a guide to any mamas looking to find the best spots to explore with a little one in tow. Having traveled with Parker a bit, I quickly learned that not everywhere is best to bring her along. Some places you feel like the biggest jerk trying to squeeze your stroller into the narrow walk ways, or the tables are just too close together and your daughter is literally eating off the plate of the person next to you. Then there's always the lovely death glares from the employees when your child even makes the smallest peep. Oh yes, surprise..... children makes noises.

It's so helpful to know in advance if a restaurant is accommodating for kids, if there is a place to store the stroller, the nearby spot I grab an extra soothie if she has gifted hers to the slobbery dog that just ran by. As a parent, you have to take your wins where  you can. In case you missed it, here is the run down! 

Our neighborhood of Prospect Heights is nestled in a prime spot of Brooklyn. We are just blocks from Prospect Park, The Brooklyn Museum, the Botanical Gardens and an easy 15min subway ride over the bridge and into the city. Over the past few years since we've lived here, the food and bar options have really stepped up their game. Vanderbilt is quite the happening strip and pretty soon, it's likely we won't be able to afford to eat out anywhere in our neighborhood. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when you know you live in Brooklyn. 

 

TO EAT/DRINK:

AMPLE HILLS :: It has only been voted like the best ice cream on planet earth by nearly every top critic there can be. Three words - salted crack caramel.

R&D FOODS :: After opening the main restaurant, 606 R&D two store fronts down, this new little takeout and grocery joint carries a knockout selection of artisanal cheese, sandwiches and carries the best cup of coffee around from Brooklyn Roasting Company. Grab a snack and belly up to their window counter.

SUNSHINE CO :: This corner restaurant was opened by the same peeps as the nearby coffee shop, Milk Bar. Their brunch menu is the talk of the town right now and it makes bringing the tot along pretty easy. They are patient with kids and have space for strollers and high chairs. 

WASHINGTON COMMONS :: They don’t fool around with outdoor space here! The backyard is giant and on any given weekend you will see a number of other parents with their children hanging out and drinking a beverage.

BROOKLYN CREPE :: Get your daily dose of greens and fresh salad at this local juice bar. Parker’s favorite is the kale, apple and spinach. How cliche ‘Brooklyn’ of her, right?

 

TO DO:

GRAND ARMY FARMER’S MARKET :: Nothing is better than starting off a Saturday morning at the local farmer’s market. They have all the seasonal veggies and fruits, fresh bread, flowers, coffee and you can always count on some local marmalade samples!


BROOKLYN MUSEUM :: It’s no Natural History Museum, but it does have a constant flow of jaw dropping exhibits for both parents and kids. Favorites include the sculpture garden and the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit from earlier this year. Don’t be fooled, the admission price is merely a ‘suggested donation’. I have definitely given them a $5.00 bill without apologizing. Knowing my kid could have a meltdown at any moment, I will not be left feeling guilty for forking over a good chunk of change to only have to rush through the museum! 

BROOKLYN LIBRARY :: Fun fact, having opened it’s doors in February 1, 1941, the building’s unique architecture was created to resemble an open book, with the spine on Grand Army Plaza and the two wings opening like pages onto Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue. It hosts a great kids area to let them run and explore and read. Perfect refuge during during rainy, cold and wintery days.


BOTANICAL GARDENS :: Seriously one of the more gorgeous places to visit in Brooklyn. Their Japanese gardens are stunning during cherry blossom season and you’ll enjoy the picturesque stroll through the massive lush grounds. You’ll have non-stop photo ops with the kiddos. Just drop them in some flowers and snap away!


PROSPECT PARK :: Grab a sandwich and snacks at R&D, bring along a bottle of wine (or apple juice!) and a blanket….. this is the easiest place to let the kids run wild while enjoying some time for yourself too. We love to gather our fellow friends with tiny people and let them all use it as if it’s their own backyard.

 

TO SHOP :: 

BLUEBERRY KIDS :: This great new shop has all the knick knacks you need like last minute bibs and teething supplies, but also houses an indoor play area where your child can get all their energy out while you shop. Become a member, and they offer childcare and mommy cocktail nights…… now that’s what I’m talking about!


COLOR BKLYN :: Need a well curated gift or chic baby toy? This is your spot! These ladies know how to stock the shelves with beautifully designed and curated products.

UNNAMABLE BOOKSTORE :: Our go-to bookstore. They have a darling children’s section and even have book readings in their backyard full of twinkle lights. Bonus - they have a $1, $3 and $5 book rack that sits out on the sidewalk. I’ve found many a gems in those racks before! 

 We hope you come out and visit the neighborhood!

Sunday
May182014

Middle School Phase

Just wanted to write a bit about how I've had trouble sharing lately. Maybe because it was all rainy and gloomy in Brooklyn on Friday (when I started writing this!) or maybe because I have decided this is better than nothing. Either way, I have all these thoughts in my head day in and day out of things I want to blog about and then I ultimately talk myself out of it. I have posts that I’ve never posted for no other reason than I just felt like people wouldn't want to read them. I convince myself that it's a silly subject, no one would find this interesting or that there's really nothing new to say here on the interwebs that hasn't been said before by someone else in different packaging. I've been really bad at feeling confident in what I'm producing and putting out here. I'm setting standards for myself that I think are probably loftier than anything anyone else is expecting of me, which I never used to do before. It’s funny, I’ve discovered this newfound confidence in my life as a mother and have never felt so proud of who I am and what I’m accomplishing every day (read: literally keeping another human alive), yet when it comes to my creativity here on this blog space, I feel inadequate. Do I sound like a moody creative yet? 

 

I feel like I’m in an awkward middle school phase with this space. There are some growing pains going on and if a blog could have braces and bad skin, I think mine would right now. I'm feeling gangly and out of place. I get stressed about being too 'mommy' on here, but then again, that's really the focus of my world right now. I know more about diaper bag launches than the Mansur Gavriel bucket bag release dates. And it used to be the other way around. Since I'm also still the same person I was before I had Parker, this is where I assume no one wants to read another post on diaper bags or why I try to choose the one that doesn’t scream ‘I’m carrying a bag full of a soiled diapers!’. There are people far and wide who have done that jig. But maybe that is what I want to write about and maybe that is what you want to read. Would that be so bad?

 

Maybe it’s because I’m juggling the logistics of a full time job, a full time mom and a full time wife on top of managing life in one of the most chaotic and competitive cities in the world. That’s an exhausting sentence to read. I often tell myself that these reasons explain my lack of enthusiasm to hit ‘publish’ after a long day and really believe in what I’m putting out there. Sure, I could publish a ton of stuff that is just fine (trust me, I’ve got an arsenal of unpublished posts just hanging out), but it’s probably best to wait until I feel proud of them. That’s the wonderful thing about having an online space… things evolve and grow and the world goes on. You can always come back when you need to - it’s here waiting.  

I thrive in being able to write, to think creatively, to put together projects and share them with people. So this space will always be a need of mine - it’s not going anywhere. I’m thankful it’s here and I’m thankful you read my ramblings. This awkward middle schooler just needed to share. Now, I'll distract you with a cute picture of Parker Mae crawling....... and all is right in the world again! 


 

Wednesday
Apr232014

An Easter Basket Mash-Up

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Every holiday is now exponentially more fun with a baby. Like all that excitement you used to have as a kid…… is back. Except this time, you get to be the orchestrator, which if you’re a planner like myself, is the best gig yet. Please, just give me more reasons to make a trip to Michael’s and then cover the apartment in over the top decorations and balloons. For a number of years, the standing tradition with our little New York family, was that we would host Easter at our table and it was full of laughter, champagne and familiar faces…… oh, and someone would always bring a cake in the shape of a bunny. Naturally. You start throwing babies into the mix and holidays are looking a heck of a lot different in our neck of the woods. For starters, no one has passed out from too many mimosas in, I dunno, like a couple of years now maybe. Impressive. 

Now, I normally believe that a fluffy bunny and a hunt for eggs have literally nothing to do with the sacred and weighty message that is Easter. (But that could be an entirely separate post on our unnecessary need to simplify the significance of holidays.) So, moving on..... now that I have a tiny person and she is too ridiculously cute in bunny ears and, if we’re honest, an Easter basket is the perfect use for a mock Anne Geddes photo shoot, I tried to embrace a bit of the basket spirit! 

Since this is my first go around and putting one of these things together, it was a bit of a crap shoot. Plus, we all know home girl was really just interested in gnawing on the basket more than playing with anything included inside of it. 

One thing I’ve learned from my now extensive experience in crafting holiday packages for your little ones….. it is the ideal opportunity to throw in a couple of things for yourself. Oh, lookie there…. how did that tiny bottle of champagne get in there? That doesn’t mix well with milk, so I’ll just have to drink it for her. But we can share the nail polish - if she’ll let me! I’m a big fan of these bold and very spring inspired colors that the gals over at Sally Hansen sent for little P and I to try out. They were the perfect addition to her hodge podge of goodies. 

Do note, her new favorite thing is to ninja roll and push herself across the room. Crawling? She moves like ten inches in the crawling motion and then rolls to the side with a face that says ‘forget this’.... and then just proceeds to egg roll herself down the hall. She’s quite quick and almost looks like a pinball bouncing herself back and forth off of chair legs and whatever else she can get momentum from. I started her down the hall with the basket at the other end, and she successfully maneuvered herself straight for it. I slow clapped for her. 

 

In her basket: block toy / bunny 1 (gift) / bunny 2 / diapers / camera / champagne / polish

 

This post was sponsored by Sally Hansen and Refinery 29.

Thank you for supporting the companies that help support this blog! #turnuptheshine #tripleshine

 

Monday
Feb242014

The Quality List

 

Recently, as you may have read, I’ve declared this the year of quality over quantity. In this physical realm, this is geared towards incorporating staple clothing items, natural beauty and food products, simple and organic household items and all of the above for baby everything. In the personal realm, this is geared towards relationships, intentional conversations, etc. The personal side has been easier to get a handle on. The physical side is a tad harder. There’s more ground to cover and I find we want to default back to what we know because it’s easy. In my quest to find the best quality black fitted blazer, I became more overwhelmed than when I tried to figure out what the heck an exersaucer was. I don’t have time to research and sift through the black hole of the internet for the creme de la creme of quality, but still affordable for what they are, items out there. Finally the light bulb went off….. I should just ask the internet about the internet. Yea? Yea!

 

 

 

This is where you come in. I'm asking for your help. This isn't a revolutionary season I'm going through - I know a lot of you have recently downsized your belongings in search of a more quality and simple lifestyle. I realized once I posted this photo on Instagram asking for a few suggestions - the emails flooded in! I’ve been working on compiling a list of the top places to find your favorite quality items. You're go-to stops and shops. Preferably online, but understand if it’s an in-store only place. This mama doesn’t have time to go scouring all over town for things anymore. Categories are everything from jeans to cashmere, to shoes and hair straighteners, to natural face moisturizer to baby toys, you name it. Also, just because it’s more affordable, doesn’t mean it isn’t quality. I’m a major fan of Uniqlo and would consider their sweaters and jackets to be on my quality list. I swear by coconut oil for just about everything in my beauty regimen and it’s cheaper than my fancy Chanel eye cream. Expensive doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. 

 


Asking y’all is my way of not having to read through endless customer reviews and get lost in the chatter and noise of the internet. Plus, I trust you. You people have astounding taste! You’ve tried it, own it and like it? Let me know! It’s a product that has lasted you for years? Don’t keep the secret to yourself! We all have ‘that friend’ with their regal and effortless style who seems to know exactly how to maximize their wardrobe? Raid their closet and tell us the brands!

I plan to gather as much information and compile a one stop shop list that would live here on the blog for everyone to reference! So alert your friends, ask your hairstylist and take notes. The more feedback the better for all of us. Just leave a comment below with your top suggestions or also feel free to shoot me an email --> parkeretc[at]gmail.com!

And just to lure you into taking some time to send me your suggestions.... I've included a picture of Parker. If anything.... do it for her and those cheeks! 


 

 

 

Wednesday
Feb052014

Visit :: Hotel Saint Cecilia

You want to know the greatest thing to happen to our lives right now? Free extended babysitting. The kind that allows you to jump on a quick flight, find a hidden gem of a hotel, explore a city, have a wonderful dinner date, stay out past your bedtime and sleep in like teenagers. That, my friends, makes you feel like a million bucks when you’re new parents. Technically, are we still ‘new’ parents? I don’t know the cutoff here. At seven months, we might consider ourselves ‘seasoned’. At least the permanent exhaustion look on our faces would declare it so.

A few weeks back, Parker got to have a vacation with her grandparents. We dropped her off, kissed her on the head, left a freezer full of milk and we fled south to Austin for a weekend full of R&R. Having lived in Texas for for a bit of my life, I’m not new to Austin, but it’s almost nice to go back now and kind of ‘rediscover’ it outside of being there in college (read: gross frat parties) or being there for work (read: gross music festivals).



We aren’t really hotel kind of people and usually opt to find a hidden gem in the Airbnb world, but this time around, we got serious and found some fancy digs to rest our heads. Eric has spent some time at El Cosmico in Marfa, and had heard rave reviews about its sister abode, Hotel Saint Cecilia. I tell ya, I couldn’t imagine a more serene place right off the main craze of South Congress, with its chic boutiques and trendy restaurants, can be quite loud and crowded. Not here. The atmosphere is as if California and Nashville merged into one with cactuses and rustic American flags hanging around... as they do. We were lucky enough to practically be the only people there, so it was as if, we had the whole estate to ourselves. The pool is heated, the mini bar is packed full of eclectic treats and spirits from around the world and best of all, each room comes equipped with a record player (vinyl supplied at the front desk’s extensive library).

We honestly only spent a short amount of time in Austin, I thought of it as almost a ‘staycation’ in a city you don’t actually live in, but sometimes you have to get away to really rest.



 

To See, To Do & To Eat::

Uncommon Objects :: If I go missing, the first place to look for me is this shop. Seriously. If I was a millionaire, I would buy the whole dang place and everything in it. Every corner is full of gorgeous curated antiques and oddities….. kind of like the current state of my apartment except consider ‘oddities’ to be ‘baby things’.

Stag:: A perfectly curated store for the man in your life.

Moss:: A perfectly curated consignment store for the lady of the house.

Torchy's:: Best damn tacos in all the land. Well, this could start a fight of sorts to go throwing around ‘best of’ claims, but by golly, those tacos are the most memorable ones I’ll eat in Austin.

Contigo:: One of our Brooklyn buddies had a hand in putting this place together, so it was a no-brainer for our date night while in town. It gets pretty hopping during the warmer weather, but we were lucky to catch it on a chilly evening, by Austin standards, so we snuggled up at our table with complimentary southwestern blankets and cocktails. Try the crispy green beans, cauliflower gratin and the dewberry hills chicken.

Jo's Coffee:: Located in the parking lot of the Hotel San Jose, the other sister of the El Cosmico and Hotel Saint Cecilia tribe, it hosts a line around the block most days. The coffee is top notch and if you didn’t get a chance to snag a taco at Torchy’s, the ones here are a close contender. Try the Iced Turbo and a breakfast taco.  

Taco Deli:: Maybe all I do is eat tacos in Austin? This place is only for the ‘breakfast’ category. Nothing fancy, but a place not to be missed. Try ‘The Otto’ taco.

 

 

As with every city, there are probably awesome hidden gems that we likely have no clue exist! If you have some top favorite places in Austin, leave a comment below letting me know the spots so we can make sure to check them out on our next trip!

 

 

 See you again soon Hotel Saint Cecilia!