Posts in September, 2011

Nutcase Bike Helmets

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

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Safety first. Of course. But looking cool is a very very close second. My 4 year old son cruises about town on his Mater bike with training wheels wearing his Little Nutty watermelon bike helmet and is without a doubt, the hippest kid in town. I can not begin to tell you how many compliments he gets on his helmet.  People love it. Most importantly he loves it so it is never a struggle to get him to wear it. In fact, he thinks it is so cool, he wears it like a hat – even if we are just going to the grocery store. I happen to have my very own Nutcase sunburst helmet too, as does my very good friend Srinija who originally introduced me to this very creative company.

My son actually learned how to unbuckle his helmet all by himself this week so I thought I would celebrate by telling all of you about these super cool helmets. So go check out their Little Nutty line if you are shopping for kids, or simple Nutcase for adult helmets.

You can also shop for a good cause at Nutcase. They have some very cool green and yellow helmets on sale that benefit The Harrington Family Foundation. The Foundation believes every child has a right to receive a quality education and proper health care in a safe and nurturing community. You can protect your child’s brain and help support children in need – a win win all around.

And one more thing….If you are into winter sports – they make snow sport helmets too.

SmartBargains.com

Green Quiz

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

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How green are you? I try try try my hardest to do what I can to make my home as green as possible – within reason of course. I certainly know that I am not perfect, but I make sure every toilet paper roll, piece of junk mail, and empty Diet Coke can ends up in the recycle bin. It is the least I can do.

My friend Saskia just showed me this quick, very simple quiz you can take to find out how green your really are. What is cool is that it gives you a lot of ideas and an actual action plan. I am a huge fan of lists and I think I am going to put our family action plan on the refrigerator so we can all be conscious of what we need to do to improve our lives to be better for the environment.

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So go check out Practically Green. Make is a little resolution for fall to see if there are just a couple things you and your family can do to make your world a little greener. Good luck!


Mini Sticker Frames

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

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I know you have an adorable picture of your children as the wall paper on your computer screen. But, what about the other side of your laptop? I love these mini removable sticker picture frames from Butch & Harold. As soon as you get the new crop of school photos, you can pop one right onto your laptop.

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You can easily move these removable sticker frames around too so it can go from your computer, to the refrigerator and then onto your mirror. The stickers come in four different styles, I just happen to like these ‘gum drop’ frame. They are also great for school lockers too. Your kids can decorate their lockers with photos of their friends and family, and of course with framed pictures of Justin Bieber too…

Please Vote

Saturday, September 24th, 2011
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Sweet Peas & Stilettos has been nominated as one of the best fashion blogs for moms. Please vote to help Sweet Peas & Stilettos win.
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You can also help by voting for Sweet Peas & Stilettos as the best shopping site for moms and the best pregnancy website on Babble. Voting is super fast and easy – just takes a click.
Thank you so so much for your support!

Fresh Party Invitations from Minted

Halloween Party Invitations

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

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I am a huge fan of Halloween. It is undoubtedly one of the best holidays on the calendar. Who doesn’t love watching how excited kids get picking out their costumes and getting all dressed up. It is always fun to see their creative minds in action as they get into character for the night.  I must admit I like combing through my son’s bounty of chocolate too…

The last few years we have been to so many fabulous Halloween parties. Since there isn’t a single parent in town who would send their children down our very long, very dark driveway for a Twix bar, we are usually on the top of everyone’s list for Halloween fun since they know we don’t need to hand out candy at home. It works for me.

I have been looking around at Halloween invites and I just love the selection at Tiny Prints this year. They have wonderful Halloween party invitations for children of all ages and some that would work for adult parties too. Since Halloween is on a Monday this year – you can throw festive costume parties all weekend long…

Shop Paula Abdul’s Closet

Friday, September 16th, 2011

I know there are tons of great daily deal sites and so many places to get fabulous discounts on designer clothes and accessories, but I must admit that The RealReal is my favorite online shopping destination these days. Even if you just want to window shop, they have so many wonderful items to look at and wish for. What sets them apart is that the site is actually a consignment shop and they only carry the very best designers. They get their clothes from stylists and from super stylish women who want to make a little extra cash so they can go right back to Neiman Marcus and buy more. So maybe they don’t even need the cash – they just need more room in their closets.

On Monday you can shop Paula Abdul’s closet! I assume she is tiny so her clothes must be tiny too but it will be fun to take a peek. Just imagine – you can sit on your couch and watch Paula on X Factor while you are wearing her red carpet clothes and her sky high heels.

So go sign yourself up for The RealReal and take a peek – I promise you won’t be disappointed:  The RealReal.com-Luxury Designer Resale-Stylist Selected, Amazingly Priced.

Welcome to the Zoo

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Welcome to the Zoo alison jay

Welcome to the Zoo, by Alison Jay

Reviewed by Susan Fry 

Why don’t more books for adults have illustrations? Everyone agrees that it’s vitally important to visit museums and galleries. But the grownup books with pictures, such as manga or comics, are given only cult status at best. Why is art on walls “art,” but “fringe” on the page?

Kids are SO lucky to get books with paintings in them. At the top of my list are the ones by Alison Jay. And at the tip-top of my list of Jay’s books is Welcome to the Zoo. The book is wordless, the story – or, rather, stories – carried entirely by the illustrations. Jay’s pictures take the reader on a trip through a zoo without cages, in which animals and people mix with laugh-out-loud results.

Both my four- and six-year-old loved figuring out which animals and people had their own storylines. It may take a multiple readings to realize that animals are eating the entire contents of a family’s picnic basket, page by page. Or that an ostrich, pursued by a zookeeper, escapes on the last page by hopping into a bus. There are so many tiny, delightful mysteries to solve: why is one zookeeper carrying an oversized toothbrush, and another a giant baby bottle? People fall into pools with dolphins, zookeepers climb ladders to feed giraffes, a tiger’s roar blows over a penguin, and polar bears lick popsicles.

At the end, one my sons asked, “When can we go to that zoo?”

You’ll be able to recognize Jay’s illustrations at a glance. They combine a modern cheerfulness with the old-world flavor of medieval oil paintings. Jay’s stylized animals, people, and plants are exaggerated shapes that are still instantly recognizable. The elephants are whimsically blown up into enormous, round bellies on tiny little legs. The impossible, but somehow jaunty, people have tiny heads and weeble-middles. Everything seems barely tethered to the ground, giving all her pictures a fairytale quality. Her colors are equally fantastical — pastels that seem vivid because Jay happily juxtaposes sherbet greens and cotton candy pinks.

But the lovely, archaic touch that makes Jay’s paintings unique? She uses a paint varnish that produces the fine network of lines across the surface known as “crackle,” cracks that usually only appear on very, very old paintings.

It’s hard not to let the sheer visual joy of Jay’s pictures distract from the fascinating story they’re telling. No wonder my sons want to step into her world.

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.

Benefit Cosmetics LLC

Skincare for moms & babies

Monday, September 12th, 2011

When I travel abroad the first think I shop for is shoes. The second item on my list is always cosmetics. I love to see what sorts of make-up, lotions, perfumes and cleansers women all over the world are using. My bathroom is full of sun block from Thailand, lotion from the Caribbean, and nail polish from London.

Plagentra baby picture

Some of the best Korean skincare products for moms and babies are now available in the US so you don’t need to fly around the world to try out some wonderful cleansers and lotions. Plagentra is a market leader in Korea and was voted the 2011 best luxury skincare brand by the Korean Government’s Department of Ministry of Women and Family. Plagentra also ranked #1 in stretch marks in the 2011 Korea Satisfaction Consumer Index, and in 2010 was the #1 ranked brand in Korea for moms and babies. Needless to say – Korean women love the product so I think it is worth giving it a try.

Plagentra-cleanser

I have been using the Plagentra cleanser the last few nights and it has done an amazing job with my large pores. This fragrance free foam cleanser is made up of fine micro beads that gently remove make-up, dirt, dead skin and oils. It leaves your skin feeling and looking incredibly clean, fresh and renewed.

 

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I have also tried the Ato Plagentra cream which is a moisturizer made especially for dry, sensitive skin. Ato Plagentra cream is specially formulated to form a protective barrier to lock in skins natural moisture. With no steroids, colorants, alcohol or perfumes, this cream helps nurture skin while relieving irritated skin. I am incredibly sensitive to perfumes and this cream left my skin feeling soft without leaving a noticeable scent.

For over 10 years CA Pharm has been committed to developing effective & gentle skincare products for moms and babies. Their safe & effective formulations focus on solving common skin problems, such as stretch marks and eczema. Please visit www.myplagentra.com to see their complete line of products.

Note: CA Pharm is a sponsor of Sweet Peas & Stilettos. They supplied me samples and compensated me for my time to write this post.

Lusso Bags

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

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At Sweet Peas & Stilettos I have always loved to feature companies that have a charitable cause and the core of their company. Lusso Bags is one of my latest finds that does just that. They create cute, practical products and they have found a way to make a difference in the world too.

This super handy shoe bag (pictured above) is “made in Kolkata, India, of eco-friendly and fair trade (ECOCERT) 100% organic cotton by women that have traded a life in the sex trade, for a new life as a seamstress. Each bag is sewn with love and care, and just five bags pays one day of honest wages, medical insurance, and childcare for one woman.” How wonderful is that!

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They also make these adorable baby bags that you can use for all of those miscellaneous items in your diaper bag. This set is the ‘girl’ version and they have a ‘boy’ set too. You can feel great about any Lusso Bags purchase you make because they give back 5% of sales to help fight human trafficking. “Help a Little…Help a Lot” every time you purchase Lusso designs.

 

 

The Terrible Hodag

Friday, September 9th, 2011

The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers

The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers, by Caroline Arnold, illustrated by John Sandford

Reviewed by Susan Fry

My family and I are trying to squeeze in one last camping trip before the end of summer. Personally, I’ve always thought that the best part of childhood camping was telling ghost stories around the fire. Remember sitting just a few feet away from the dark, dark woods, shivering as you imagined SOMETHING jumping out at you?

Well, with two boys who are only four and six, a story like that would lead to screams throughout the night. And that would mean a very grumpy mommy on the trail the next day.

So I was thrilled to find The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers. The book combines the delicious spookiness of a horror story with a feel-good ending that will banish nightmares.

Arnold based his story on old tales told in Wisconsin logging camps. Sandford’s pen-and-ink illustrations beautifully capture this sense of history. He takes woodcuts as his inspiration, but updates the look with intricate, wavy patterns and stark black silhouettes. The drawings give such a fantastic illusion of texture that I want to reach out and run my fingers across them. The black-and-white contrasts also capture the eerie luminosity of a forest during a deep, dark night. As you can probably tell, I’m as enraptured by the illustrations as I am by the story.

The heroes of the book are lumberjacks. They wear old-style clothes with suspenders and chop trees with axes. But they are not the only ones in the forest: they are watched by a creature who “had the head of an ox, feet of a bear, back of a dinosaur, and tail of an alligator. It was forty feet tall, and its eyes glowed like fire. It was the HODAG!”

Before kids can get nervous, Arnold quickly informs the reader that the lumberjacks “knew that the Hodag was their friend.” The Hodag helps the lumberjacks knock down trees and feasts only on blueberries. The illustrations get this message across as well. While the Hodag may have spines and claws, he’s also got a smiling mouth and a cuddly belly.

The true danger in the forest? A group of animal catchers who want to take the Hodag to the zoo.

It’s up to the lumberjacks to save the Hodag, with plans ranging from sending the catchers the wrong way to hiding the beast in his den. One particularly lovely illustration shows the lumberjacks riding on the Hodag’s back as they create fake tracks.

In the end, the lumberjacks scare the animal catchers away, and the Hodag goes back to munching on blueberries. As in the best monster stories, the monster winds up not being the bad guy at all – it’s people who cause the most trouble.

And that means that we might all get a good night’s sleep in our tents.

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.