Posts in February, 2011

Mattie Luxe Giveaway

Monday, February 28th, 2011

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I recently did a blog post about Mattie Luxe placemats and I had so many friends call and email me telling me how much they loved these modern, colorful and totally personal placemats. I am thrilled that Mattie Luxe is offering a great giveaway of 6 (yes 2+2+2!) fabulous placemats to one lucky Sweet Peas & Stilettos Facebook fan. The randomly selected winner will get to create 6 custom mats of their very own for FREE! To enter, all you need to do if ‘like’ Sweet Peas & Stilettos on Facebook. It is as simple as that. The winner will be chosen on Monday, March 7th, sometime after 12 noon PST, and will be announced on Facebook.

Also, between now and March 5th Mattie Luxe is offering 20% off your order in celebration of their new website. That is a deal you won’t want to miss. Go go and start shopping now for a little table candy!

Moody Mama Winner

Monday, February 28th, 2011

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I just wanted to congratulate Beth S. for winning the Moody Mamas for Target.com giveaway. Today was her lucky day. And many thanks to Moody Mamas for sponsoring.  Cheers!

Biz eMom Picks Us

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

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Sweet Peas & Stilettos was selected as one of the Top 5 Mom Blogs yesterday by Biz e-Mom.com. So thrilled!!! It was such a cool way to start the weekend.

The Practical Princess

Friday, February 25th, 2011

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The Practical Princess by Jay Williams, pictures by Friso Henstra

Here is this week’s book review from Susan Fry – enjoy!

As the mother of two boys, I have to resort to trickery to get my princess fix at bedtime. I seek out books about princesses who don’t behave like traditional girls. I look for slightly darker books that let me revel in glamour, romance, and lavish costumes, while my boys squeal over villains, magic, and dragons. In other words, I reach for The Practical Princess.

The Practical Princess was first published in 1969, and while a later version is also available, Friso Henstra’s illustrations elevate an already-extraordinary story into art. Henstra’s drawings, with cross-hatched colors and intricate, swirling patterns, have a Russian flavor. Their boldness and deceptive primitivism, like medeval woodcuts, instantly set them apart from the bubblegum-pink princess books that clog every library shelf. This roughness is part of the book’s power – the story itself doesn’t pull any punches. It’s best for slightly older children, not just because of length and complexity, but also because of the thread of darkness that runs through the narrative.

Princess Bedelia, like all my favorite princesses, combines beauty with intelligence — the requisite three fairies give her the gifts of beauty, grace, and common sense. Her father, the king, objects at first. “What good is common sense to a princess? All she needs is charm,” he declares. But when the kingdom is in trouble, the king is all too willing to turn to his practical daughter for help.

A dragon, a nasty-looking animal that resembles a squat, fire-breathing anklyosaur rather than the traditional fairy-tale beast, demands a princess to eat. The king is at a loss. Bedelia’s response? “Rubbish! . . . Dragons can’t tell the difference between princesses and anyone else . . . . he’s just asking for me because he’s a snob.” She stuffs a gown with gunpowder, and the dragon swallows it and explodes.

Her father is equally helpless before her next foe, the evil Lord Garp, who threatens war unless Bedelia will marry him. The verbal and visual descriptions of Lord Garp are equally frightening — and original. He’s not simply old and ugly. “His face was like an old napkin, crumpled and wrinkled. It was covered with warts, as if someone had left crumbs on the napkin.” Children in our orthodontist-rich culture will shudder to see Lord Garp’s toothless mouth and skeletal hands.

Bedelia proves her intelligence not just by setting him impossible tasks, but also by doing it in a sweet, diplomatic way. “And you are bold and powerful enough, I know, to perform any task,” she says.

The tasks are stunningly fantastical. Bedelia sends Lord Garp to fetch the Jewel Tree of Paxis and a cloak from the skins of salamanders that live in a volcano. My boys loved the fierce lions and wolves guarding the tree and the gruesomely exploding volcano with its creepy salamanders. When Garp returns with each item, only Bedelia’s common sense reveals that he’s tricking her. The jeweled branch he gives her has no scent, and the volcanic salamander skin burns up in a simple fire.

Garp, a poor loser, imprisons Bedelia in a tower. This is not the traditional, pretty tower of a Rapunzel, but an Escher-eque fortress with dizzying walls and stairs that make Bedelia’s dilemma terrifying. At first, Bedelia hopes a prince will rescue her. But as the days pass, she realizes, “Be practical! If there’s any rescuing to be done, you’re going to have to do it yourself.”

Exploring the castle, she discovers a snoring haystack, which turns out to be the enchanted Prince Perian, whose hair and beard have grown so long they trail on the ground. In a lovely reversal of Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel, Bedelia wakes Perian and uses his beard to climb out of the tower. The Prince does vanquish the evil Lord Garp, however – by falling on him when Garp tugs on his beard.

As a lovely, final touch, the endpapers of the book depict an antique-looking map of all the events.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications. You will find links to all of her children’s book reviews on our Toys & Books page.

Candy Rings

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

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Believe it or not but these enchanting colorful rings are edible! Personally, I think they are little works of art and might be afraid to eat them, but how fun would it be to wear one of these on your finger or better yet, give them to friends as party favors at your next bash. Chef Natascha de los Angeles has combined her love of haute cuisine and fine arts to bring you a museum worthy collection of handmade, edible creations, that will look as good on your fine china as they will in your jewelry box. Her company Artesanal Sweets, will even work with you to do custom creations too.

I used to think that RingPops and candy necklaceswere cool but Aresanal Sweets has really raised the bar on candy jewelry to breath taking new heights. Yummy!

Ivanka Trump Shoes

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

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Are you looking for some very Carrie Bradshaw looking stilettos but you don’t have Mr. Big around to buy them for you? New York’s very own Ivanka Trump is here to save the day. Ivanka, the super chic, super smart, mom-to-be, mogul-in-the-making, recently launched a new shoe line and every heel, flat, flip flop and stiletto is super affordable and 100% Ivanka. This pair is one of my favorites and is know as the Ivanka Trump Women’s Dimund2 Open Shank D-Orsay Platform. Yes – I know that is a very very long name for a pair of shoes, but they may be just what you need to erase the winter blues.  Come on now…you can’t wear your UGG Boots all winter long…

Good luck Ivanka! You’ve got to love a girl who loves great accessories…

Girl Up

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

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Recently I read a few articles about Girl Up and immediately wanted to learn more. I loved the idea of connecting girls in the US to girls all over the world. I was incredibly lucky to be able to spend a summer in Kenya while I was in high school and it was an amazing experience to meet girls my own age who lived a world away. I had a similar experience going to China when I was still in grade school. These amazing adventures forever changed me and always made me very aware of what my reality was vs. what was real for so many other kids around the world. I was always grateful for my home, my private school eduction, my loving and supportive family, and the food on my table. The thing that has always stuck with me are the vivid memories I have of the smiles, laughter and fun that kids all over the world have, without the material possessions that we have grown accustomed to. Kids don’t need fancy train sets and elaborate outfits for their dolls to be happy, what they really need is love, food, shelter, friendship, security, education and a little imagination.

Here is a little scoop about Girl Up that I am quoting from their website:

“Girl Up, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, gives American girls the opportunity to channel their energy and compassion to raise awareness and funds for programs of the United Nations that help some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls. Through Girl Up’s support, girls have the opportunity to become educated, healthy, safe, counted, and positioned to be the next generation of leaders.  Campaign supporters are encouraged to give a “High Five” to girls in developing countries by donating $5 or more to provide girls with such basic needs as access to school supplies, clean water, life-saving health services, safety from violence, and more. To give a High Five and learn more, join us at GirlUp.org.”

I am looking forward to introducing my 15 year old niece to Girl Up. I know that she and her friends will love be part of something like this – knowing that they too can make a difference.

I think we should all join Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan (one of the organization’s global champions, and an amazing mother of four) to do what ever each of us can to support these girls all over the world.

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Mom-to-be, and super entrepreneur, Ivanka Trump is a Girl Up champion who is using her voice to help teen girls. Through her Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry line, she designed this stylish bracelet that can be purchased for $40 and 100% of the proceeds will benefit Girl Up.

Try Angie's List Today!

More Snow!

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

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Susan puts on her cute fur trimmed parka and share some great snow books with us this week:

Just when you think winter couldn’t throw anything worse at you, it does. More snow! It means you have to wrestle your child into an uncomfortable (but adorable) puffy suit whenever you want to go to the store. It means your front hallway is cluttered with wet boots, hats, and gloves. And what, exactly, can you possibly do with the kids for a whole snow day trapped inside your house?

Maybe these books can help you take a step back and appreciate just what snow has to offer. Then, hopefully, you can take another step back, into a hot tub or a sauna…

A Winter Day, by Douglas Florian. This very simple book for younger children captures the essence of a good winter’s day. Each two-page spread contains only a few words, such as “A winter day. Cold and gray.” The slightly wobbly drawings show a family who lives in a log cabin with an old-fashioned stove and a grandfather clock. But their experience is just as relevant today: while life is cold outside, it’s cozy inside. The children go out and play, and when they come back, Mom is waiting with soup and a hot fire.

Snow, by Uri Shulevitz. Lovely, sophisticated cartoons depict snow in an Eastern European town. At first, the town is gray, with just one little speck of white in the gray sky. That’s enough for a little boy, who’s brightly colored and always in motion. “It’s snowing,” he says, excitedly. But as more snowflakes appear, everyone around him denies that snow is falling. Even the television declares, “No snow.” It’s easy to see the townspeople as a communist regime insisting on a “truth” that even a child can see is false. But the book can also be read as a metaphor for all the times any grownup is wrong. Sure enough, “Snowflakes keep coming and coming and coming,” and soon all the once-grim buildings are covered in a cheerful white.

Under the Snow, by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Constance R. Bergum. If you’re tired of looking at the snow out your window, try a different view – from underneath. Pretty watercolor illustrations show children playing on what looks like a blank field of snow. But the books zooms in on parts that people don’t – or can’t – see. Ladybugs hide in a stone wall, a vole tunnels under the snow, and a chipmunk curls asleep in a burrow. As the children skate on a frozen pond, the book dips below the surface to show fish in the cold water and a turtle buried in the mud. The book also casually and simply presents fascinating tidbits, such as the fact frogs can freeze solid and still survive!

The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder, by Mark Cassino, with Jon Nelson, PhD. This book mixes scientific information with gorgeous, magnified pictures of individual flakes of snow. Starting with simple cartoons, the book illustrates how “Snow starts with a speck,” then “grows” into a crystal. The text is reasonably simple for slightly older children, though you may have to define words like “droplets.” The real stars of the book, however, are the magnified snowflakes, like blue and purple jewels. Kids and grownups alike can marvel at the star, plate, and column-shaped crystals. The truly desperate, er, scientific readers can even take the book outside for the clearly-explained project on catching and viewing snow crystals.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications. You will find links to all of her children’s book reviews on our Toys & Books page.

Badgley Mischka Goa Necklace

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

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As I am sure you know, the Academy Awards are just around the corner. My husband will certainly tell you that we have watched way too many award shows in the last month but I don’t care. I don’t know why, but year after year I still have to see what all of the girls are wearing – all of that fabulous designer jewerly and those beautiful gowns.

I was thinking that maybe it was time for me to get dressed up too. No reason I can’t get a blow out, get my nails done and get all dollied up for my big night on the couch. Maybe I will even go on some sort of crazy celebrity cleanse a few days before to feel like a true star…. Anyhow, I jumped on over to Charm & Chain and found this amazing Goa Necklace from Badgley Mischka. No doubt – it will look smashing with my sweat pants. Go ahead and Shop Charm & Chain’s Designer Collection Starting at $40 and maybe you’ll find something for the big night too.

Tookee Baby Sleep Sacks

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

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I am a huge fan of the sleep sack. Just like snuggly fleece pajamas with feet, the sleep sack is one of those great baby products that you often wish they made in ‘big girl’ sizes too. I guess that is why someone designed the Snuggie….

Tookee™ first caught my eye because of their use of orange details in their products. Yes – orange is far and away my favorite color. I adore these quilted organic sleep sacks that are perfect for all of this chilly weather than most of you are dealing with these days. Tookee™ uses super soft and warm organic fabric and a new double layered quilting of hemp and organic cotton that “allows the little ones’ skin to breath while providing absorbency, superb insulation and year-round comfort.” The fabric is also un-bleached and un-dyed so you can be certain that your precious baby is not going to be swaddled in harmful chemicals. I love the simple graphic element and the detailed trim up top too.

Tookee™ products (they carry super cute toys and stroller blankets too) are all made in California using only environmentally friendly and recycled materials. To top it all off, Tookee™ is a mom owned company – and we love those! Let’s all wish Hadas a lot of success with her growing business.