Posts in August, 2011

Cute Laptop Bags

Friday, August 12th, 2011


I recently made lots of updates to my page dedicated to cute computer, laptop and work bags for women. I hope you find one you love.


Friday, August 12th, 2011


Goal! By Mina Javaherbin, illustrated by A. G. Ford

 Reviewed by Susan Fry

Most sports books for kids are cheerful tales that spend most of their pages trumpeting fancy equipment and fast plays. It’s rare to find a book that digs below the surface of a sport to uncover a deeper meaning – that games are, in a very real way, a rehearsal for life.

There’s a reason Mina Javaherbin’s Goal has a blurb from Archbishop Desmond Tutu proclaiming the book “Uplifting and inspiring.”

The world of Goal is a challenging one: a poor neighborhood somewhere in South Africa. The houses are shanties of cardboard and corrugated iron. The streets are dirt, and the children running in them are dressed in ragged shorts and t-shirts. The illustrations reflect the poverty with muted brown and dark orange hues.

The social environment is just as challenging. The main character, Ajani, wants to play football (American soccer) before getting water from the well for his family. But none of his friends will come out to play, because, as Ajani says, matter-of-factly, “The streets are not always safe.” Bullies roam the alleys.

Ajami, luckily, has a plan. He persuades his friends to take turns standing guard, so the rest of them can play with his prize possession: a new, federation-size football. “We are real champions,” he says, “playing with a real ball . . . . When we play, we forget to worry. When we run, we are not afraid.” The boys’ joy is clear in the play-by-play descriptions of their game, and even in their disagreements about the rules.

But when the bullies appear, all the boys’ differences disappear, and they form a real team against real danger. They hide the ball under a bucket and desperately pretend they’ve been playing with an old, beat-up ball instead. The boys’ fear is heartbreakingly portrayed in a close-up, two-page spread of one of the boys hiding his face with his hands. The ingenuity of Ajani’s team triumphs, and the bullies steal the old ball, not the new one. Ajani and his team immediately resume play, all fear forgotten in an example of true resiliency, “like it’s the World Cup that we’ve all won.”

There are no adults anywhere in view during this story. The boys solve their problem on their own, and their joy is a mark of their independence and maturity. “When we play together,” Ajani says, “we are unbeatable.” Is there any better lesson for a child to learn from a sport?

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.


Best iPad Apps

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

iphone-ipad-app-vehicles-coloring-book   iphone-app-total-baby
What is your favorite app for your iPhone or iPad? I recently updated the Sweet Peas & Stilettos page devoted entirely to the best iPhone and iPad apps for moms, babies and kids. Please let me know if you have a favorite that is missing from the list.

Designer iPad Cases

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

jonathan adler ipad case
Admit is. You can’t image your life before you had your iPad. Actually, my iPad was taken away from me about 7 minutes after I unwrapped it. Santa had so generously left one under the tree for me but I don’t get to play with it nearly enough. My 4 year old tells everyone it is “his” iPad. I guess that means Santa will need to bring another one this year.

Regardless of who is the rightful owner, I have still had so much fun tracking down the coolest designer iPad cases. I found so many cute ones like the one pictured above from Jonathan Adler. Come take a look at these great iPad cases. They will keep your iPad protected and looking crazy cute.


Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book

Monday, August 8th, 2011

charlie cook's favorite book

Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book, by Julia Donaldson

Reviewed by Susan Fry

At my house, bedtime can resemble warfare.  One of my sons demands books about pirates and aliens, while the other whines until he gets a ghost story and The Three Little Bears.  To satisfy everyone, we might be up all night.

Or we could just read Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book and cover all the bases.

A boy named Charlie Cook “curl(s) up in a cozy chair and read(s) his favorite book . . .”  But turn the page, and the scene changes to a book “About a leaky pirate ship/that very nearly sank/And a pirate chief who got the blame/and had to walk the plank.”  The pirate swims to a desert island and finds another book.  About what?  Goldilocks and the three bears.

Each new page of Charlie Cook leads to a completely different type of story, as the characters all pick up books of their own.  A knight reads a joke book to a dragon about a frog, a jewel thief finds a tale about a greedy crocodile, and a spaceman takes a story about a headless ghost with him all the way to Jupiter.  At the end, Charlie smiles from his chair as the characters from all the books-within-books crowd into his room.

The illustrations morph along with the stories, with sepia-toned newspaper cartoons about the jewel thief and gray-and-black tones for the ghost tale.  But Julia Donaldson’s cheerful, blocky cartoons will be familiar to fans of her other marvelous books, such as The Gruffalo.  Donaldson also offers some little touches that will make both parents and children laugh.  The end pages show all the “books” on a shelf, with titles such as Joust Joking and Tales for Jails.  And kids can hunt for clues of the books to come on the very first page.  Toy knights and spacemen lie on Charlie’s floor, and a picture of the headless ghost hangs on the wall.

Charlie Cook is the perfect appetizer sampler for a bedtime read.  Each page has just enough mini-story to satisfy a variety of appetites, but everyone will still get to bed on time.

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 can check out the Sweet Peas & Stilettos’ children’s books page for quick access to all of Susan’s wonderful children’s book reviews.

Jonathan Adler Tote Bags

Saturday, August 6th, 2011


Watch out everyone, here is a new tote bag in town…and they couldn’t be cuter! Jonathan Adler has launched a collection of super fabulous tote bags that are fun, colorful, super chic and practical too.


I have told many people that the Jonathan Adler store in San Francisco (on Fillmore Street) is one of the happiest places on earth for me. I walk in the door and I can’t help but smile. The colors and prints and quirky designs just make me happy – plain and simple. These wonderful tote bags are having the exact same effect on me.  They are made from coated canvas with leather trim and come with a handy little pocket inside for your car keys so they don’t get buried at the bottom. The perfect mix of modern, funky and traditional classic design. Love them!


Baby Flamingo Costume

Friday, August 5th, 2011


I just had to share this photo of this incredibly adorable little flamingo. You will find this fabulous Tom Arma baby flamingo costume and many other costumes for little boys and girls on my recently updated kids’ costumes and dress-up page. I am a big believer that costumes should be for year round fun…Why wait for Halloween when you can capture a photo like this today!


Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

momAgenda-giraffe-day-planner    momagenda-zebra-day-planner
Two of my favorite (and totally unrelated) things come together – organization and animal prints. Get Organized with Style with momAgenda! I have always been a huge fan of zebra print, but this giraffe print is so fun too. Skip the black leather this year and go for a little fun.  No reason you can’t pick out a cute new accessory for yourself as you get your family organized for back-to-school. Take 10% off all orders of $65+ at momAgenda! Code: MOM10OFF65 Offer Expires 9.30