Posts in May, 2011

Sweet Treats Cards & Gift Tags

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

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I think these Glitter Greetings Sweet Treats Thank You Cards are my favorite thank you note cards. I always have a box of them on hand. First of all – they have the perfect amount of sparkly glitter to give them that special touch without making a tacky mess. The colors are so pretty and I adore the vintage vibe. I actually have one perched on a shelf in my office so it looks like a little piece of art. Sometimes I wish the card didn’t actually say ‘thank you’ on it so I could use it for birthday cards too. You can get around that with a whimsical, ‘thank you for having a birthday’ inside. Check out Paper Source Stationery for more cute cards too.

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Paper-Source also has these cute Cavallini Sweet Treats Gift Tags. I am going to order mine today.

And one last thing – if you are looking for note cards and stationery – I have a whole page of great note cards you might want to check out.


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Win A FREE Petunia Pickle Bottom Bag

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

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Just a reminder that there are just a few more days left to win the adorable Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack.

A huge thank you to the folks over at the PLUSH Show and at Petunia Pickle Bottom for this amazing GIVEAWAY. This Brilliant Brussels Boxy Backpack which retails for $170 can be yours for FREE. It is super easy to enter:

1) Leave a comment on the Sweet Peas & Stilettos Facebook page

2) LIKE PLUSH on Facebook

3) Join PLUSH and Sweet Peas & Stilettos on Twitter (if you haven’t already)

PLUSH (aka The Posh Little Urbanites Show) is the best party in town for moms who want nothing but the very very best for their little ones.  If you attend, you will get a chance to rub shoulders with some of your favorite celebrity moms (and hang out with me too!)….The event will be on Sunday, June 5, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm at the Vibiana in Los Angeles.

So if you consider yourself a chic modern mommy and you want to join the girls for a great afternoon – you can purchase tickets to PLUSH for as little as $20. Attendees will receive wonderful swag bags so you can get a taste of the best baby products and services on the market.

Now go and enter to win the bag!! And tell your friends too…. We will select the winner on June 3rd.

 

The Gruffalo

Friday, May 27th, 2011

The Gruffalo – Reviewed by Susan Fry

The-Gruffalo

The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson, pictures by Axel Scheffler

I often feel that my children run my life. I’m at their beck and call in the middle of the night, for example, and a tantrum can ruin the most anticipated vacation. And as for settling down with a book of my own? Please.

That’s why I have to remind myself that children, in their day-to-day lives, are largely powerless. They don’t get to decide where they live. They can’t choose their classmates. And they’re only four feet tall in a world of comparative giants.

No wonder my boys so love The Gruffalo. It’s a story of the underdog – or, rather, undermouse – triumphing against far larger creatures. The rhymes are just sing-songy and repetitive enough to appeal to kids’ inner poets, but not too drawn-out to become boring. And the gruffalo himself? He’s a colorful monster who prompts both gasps and giggles.

The story begins as the hero, a mouse, takes ‘“a stroll through the deep dark wood.”’ When a fox, with a sinister smile, invites the mouse for “lunch,” the mouse doesn’t quake with fear. Instead, he replies, ‘“It’s terribly kind of you, Fox, but no – I’m going to have lunch with a gruffalo.”’

The Fox, of course, has never heard of a gruffalo, so the mouse carefully describes him: ‘“He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws.”’ When the mouse adds, ‘“and his favorite food is roasted fox!”’ the fox flees in fright.

The mouse has a good laugh and lets the reader in on his secret: ‘“Silly old Fox! Doesn’t he know? There’s no such thing as a gruffalo!”’

The clever mouse repeats his trick with an owl and a snake. Each time, he adds some new characteristics to his imaginary beast, from knobbly knees to purple prickles, that hit just the right note of scary-funny.

But just as the mouse thinks he’s safe, what does he encounter in the woods? An actual gruffalo, who also wants to have the mouse for lunch.

Once again, the intrepid mouse finds a way out. “’I’m the scariest creature in the deep dark woods,”’ he bluffs. ‘“Just walk behind me, and soon you’ll see.”

Sure enough, they encounter the same snake, owl, and fox, which all run away at the sight of the gruffalo. The mouse is quick to take advantage of the misunderstanding. ‘“But now,”’ he says, ‘“my tummy is starting to rumble, and my favorite food is . . . . gruffalo crumble!” And it’s the gruffalo’s turn to skedaddle.

I just hope my kids can be just as inventive against playground bullies.

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.

L’Auberge Del Mar

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

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Have you started planning your summer vacation? I know that many people with kids vacation in San Diego. With the gorgeous weather, the beaches and so many kid friendly activities, it is easy to understand why. We went down that way for Mother’s Day weekend and had a fantastic time. Instead of staying in San Diego, we opted to stay a little further north at the L’Auberge Del Mar, and we loved it. For my Mother’s Day gift my husband took my son to Lego Land and I enjoyed the spa at the hotel (pictured above). It has a very cool relaxed surfer vibe to it and the services were great too. I must admit I was happy to skip out on Lego Land….

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My favorite part about the hotel had to be the lobby. I just loved the beach decor – the pretty white walls, cool fabrics and of course the modern fireplace. All the windows and doors are usually kept open so you can enjoy the spectacular ocean view. My son loved the pancetta flatbread and would have eaten it for every meal. I would have too…. The walk to the beach is just a few blocks and the hotel provides beach chairs and towels. We went down there everyday. What is particularly nice about the beaches in Del Mar is that they are not crowded like other Southern California beach towns. I am not into crowds so in my book it is perfect.

Needless to say, we will be staying at the L’Auberge Del Mar again.



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Walk for Hope

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

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Got plans on Saturday, June 4th? Why don’t you come to San Francisco and join the City of Hope’s San Francisco Walk for Hope. I am sure that every single person who is reading this knows someone (and many many people) impacted by cancer. My father is a cancer survivor (yeah!!) and I lost 2 grandmothers to the disease. The City of Hope has done amazing work to help bring an end to the disease and to treat and support those brave individuals who are battling it.

“City of Hope’s Women’s Cancers Program conducts innovative research to provide effective interventions for women with, or at risk for, breast and gynecological cancers,” said Joanne Mortimer, M.D., director of City of Hope’s Women’s Cancers Program. “We are grateful for the support our program has received through Walk for Hope, which enables us to provide a continuum of care from research to risk assessment, prevention, treatment, education and survivorship.”  In its 16-year history, Walk for Hope has raised more than $29 million for breast cancer research, treatment and education.

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So grab all of your girlfriends and make a fun outing of the event and help support a great cause. Here is all the information you will need to register, volunteer or to simply donate to the cause.

And just in case you aren’t in San Francisco – there are also upcoming walks scheduled in Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, and Los Angeles.


Hanna Andersson

Books on Bullying

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Bullying by Susan Fry

Everywhere I go, parents talk about how common bullying is these days. There’s a lot of discussion about the differences between boy (physical) and girl (psychological) bullying. And let’s not forget the “silent” bullying of exclusion, which can be just as devastating as insults.

I don’t know whether it’s worse to have a child who is bullied, or to slowly realize that your child is the one causing the problems. But from what I’ve seen, the results are the same – even the bullies can feel worthless and terrified of school. Nobody likes a bully, least of all the bully.

These books may offer some coping strategies for everyone involved – the bully, the victim, and the “innocent” friends.

One, by Kathryn Otoshi. One’s “characters” are paint smudges – watercolor dots of blue, yellow, green, and red. Red, a bully, towers over Blue and tells him, “Red is hot. Blue is not.” The other colors sympathize but do nothing. Finally, the number “One” appears and stands up to Red. Inspired, the other colors, even Blue, change from dots to numbers.

Even grownups might be frightened by Red’s reaction – instead of backing down, an enormous Red, depicted in violent swirls of bright paint, tries to roll over the little Blue Six. Only when the other numbers surround him does Red shrink down. But just as he’s about to roll away, the other colors remind him that “everyone counts,” and “Red” (now the number 7), “laughed and joined the fun.”

Most bullying won’t be solved so easily. But One presents the problems clearly, and the abstract characters might make kids more comfortable discussing a painful topic.

The Recess Queen, by Alexis O’Neill, illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith. Mean Jean the Recess Queen holds her class in a constant state of terror. “If kids ever crossed her, she’d push ‘em and smoosh ‘em.” Then, one day, Katie Sue, a new girl, changes everything. She “swung before Mean Jean swung . . . . bounced before Mean Jean bounced.” When Mean Jean confronts her, and the other children gasp in fear, Katie Sue brings out a jump rope and asks Mean Jean to play. No one has asked Mean Jean to play before. Soon, Mean Jean is playing with everyone. The illustrations are wild, energetic swoops of color, with the kids’ smiling mouths taking up most of their faces.

Disappearing Desmond, by Anna Alter. Though not about bullying, Disappearing Desmond may be just the right tool to battle exclusion – or even ordinary shyness. Desmond, a cat with a timid little smile, is “hard to spot.” He deliberately blends into the background – dressed as a statue in an art museum, hiding under an umbrella at the beach, or sheltered behind a snowman in the winter. “Sometimes, even his teacher could not find him.” But one day, a new student, the extroverted Gloria, starts saying “Hi.” She asks Desmond to play. Soon, “he couldn’t remember why he ever wanted to disappear in the first place.” My favorite part is watching the now-outgoing Desmond bring another boy, Harold, out of hiding. On the last page, kids will enjoy finding all the other “hidden” children on the playground. The illustrations are blocky, like warmly colored woodcuts, with a slightly retro feel.

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.

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Pencils of Promise

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Pencils of Promise December 2009 Photoshoot, Laos

Do you want to help children around the globe gain access to education and get a taste of Bieber mania too??

Pencils of Promise builds schools in the developing world through a movement committed to education for all. Impressively, the organization was founded by a 24 year old with $25. So far, they have broken ground on 35 schools across Laos, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, through the help of over 150,000 young supporters. Their mantra is “We won’t stop until we have Schools 4 All.” When you have a minute, go check out www.pencilsofpromise.org to learn more about the organization, all of the great work they are doing and how you can help.

Schools 4 All is a fundraising challenge with the goal of building schools and providing basic education for the 75 million children across the world currently without access. All the money raised will go directly towards fulfilling the Pencils of Promise mission and will help those in need by providing them with access to a basic education for years to come.

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The top fundraiser will win a visit from Justin Bieber and PoP Founder Adam Braun to a school of their choice. I can hear the screaming girls already… They are also offering 4 trips to visit their projects on the ground in Guatemala, randomly drawn from all fundraisers who raise over $100.

So you want to hang out with Justin Bieber or know a school who love to have him stop by and visit??? Here is the scoop: Go to www.schools4all.org and follow the on-screen instructions to create your very own fundraising page. Once your page is created, you’ll have a unique web address that you can forward along to your family and friends to start raising money.

Donate your time, your money or your voice – whatever you can to help these very deserving kids.

Rebecca Minkoff iPad Case

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

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Have you found a favorite iPad case yet? Please email me if you have. Eventually I plan to have a whole page full of them for you, but until then, I will share the funky ones I find.

Not that I ever get to use our iPad because my son is always using it…. but I do like shopping for cases for it. We have a black one now but I love the idea of this bright red Rebecca Minkoff Touch & Go iPad case because it will help us from losing our iPad on a regular basis. I think color, or maybe a bold pattern, is the trick for not losing your iPad under a stack of mail. This one comes in teal too – maybe I will just need to order them both…

Also, here are some cool iPhone and iPad apps. I am working on updating this page in the coming weeks so check back soon too.

Petunia Pickle Bottom GIVEAWAY

Monday, May 16th, 2011

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I am thrilled to be partnering with the folks over at the PLUSH Show to offer this amazing GIVEAWAY. This Petunia Pickle Bottom Brilliant Brussels Boxy Backpack which retails for $170 can be yours for FREE. It is super easy to enter:

1) Leave a comment on the Sweet Peas & Stilettos Facebook page

2) LIKE PLUSH on Facebook

3) Join PLUSH and Sweet Peas & Stilettos on Twitter (if you haven’t already)

PLUSH (aka The Posh Little Urbanites Show) is the best party in town for moms who want nothing but the very very best for their little ones.  If you attend, you will get a chance to rub shoulders with some of your favorite celebrity moms (and hang out with me too!)….The event will be on Sunday, June 5, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm at the Vibiana in Los Angeles.

So if you consider yourself a chic modern mommy and you want to join the girls for a great afternoon – you can purchase tickets to PLUSH for as little as $20. Attendees will receive wonderful swag bags so you can get a taste of the best baby products and services on the market.

Now go and enter to win the bag!! And tell your friends too…. We will select the winner on June 3rd.

David Wiesner’s Tuesday

Friday, May 13th, 2011

David Wiesner’s Tuesday reviewed by Susan Fry

It’s “Tuesday evening, around eight,” when something strange and wonderful happens in a swamp. Frogs, dozing peacefully, suddenly float up into the air on their lily pads, as if they’re riding magic carpets. They can fly! From that single, fantastic premise, David Wiesner builds a book filled with visual jokes, sympathetic characters, and hauntingly beautiful watercolor illustrations.

He does it almost entirely without words. Even young children can follow the frogs’ adventures through this extraordinary night.

Children can also easily relate to the frogs. Wiesner paints the amphibians’ expressions so realistically that they seem human. When the frogs realize they can fly, for example, their faces fill with astonished joy. When they fly circles in the air, their mouths stretch open so exuberantly you can almost hear them shout “Whee!” What child – or grownup – wouldn’t feel that way, too, if given the chance to fly?

The rest of the world isn’t so pleased. A turtle cowers inside his shell when the frogs float above him, and a dog turns tail and flees. Wiesner is cleverly representing the triumph of the weak over the strong, the oppressed finally rising up to claim a previously denied power. What child, after all, doesn’t dream of turning the tables on the adult world?

The frogs do that, as well. They play sly tricks on humans. They descend on a house like a fleet of UFOs, waving at an astonished man making a midnight snack. They wear borrowed laundry like superhero capes. They take over a sleeping woman’s remote control to watch her television.

Wiesner’s incandescent colors – purples, blues, and greens – evoke the mystery of a glowing twilight instead of a dark and scary night. Did I mention the book even won a Caldecott Award?

But sadly, even the most wonderful adventures have to end. As dawn lightens the pages with touches of yellow and white, the new ability fades. Startled, the frogs tumble to the ground and humbly hop back to their swamp.

Even in what could be a dark moment, however, Wiesner finds the right comic touches. The frogs look disgruntled, not sorrowful, and the humans are still puzzled – detectives examine the wreckage of abandoned lily pads.

The final page even offers a ray of hope for another species. “Next Tuesday, 7:58 P.M,” gives a glimpse of another animal flying over a barn. Let’s just say I can’t wait for a sequel: “When Pigs Fly.”

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.
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