Posts in January, 2012

Valentine’s Day Cards

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

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Are your kids going to exchange Valentine’s Day cards to their classmates this year? How about you – have you thought about special cards for your family? This Modern Kisses – Valentine’s Day Card from Tiny Prints is one of my favorites. How adorable is that photo?! Here are some wonderful personalized Valentine’s cards for kids and parents alike. I hope you find the perfect cards for your special valentines. And yes – I found some fun Valentine’s Day gift ideas too…

When a Dragon Moves In

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

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When a Dragon Moves In, written by Jodi Moore, illustrated by Howard McWilliam

I can usually tell when my son is making something up.  Did he brush his teeth?  Did he eat his brother’s cookie?  And did he really put away that pair of socks?

But there are times when I wish his imaginings could come true.   That’s the beauty of When a Dragon Moves In.   The book manages to show both a real world and an imaginary one, and it lets the reader choose which one to believe.

When a little boy builds a sandcastle on the beach, a dragon moves in.  Or does he?

The story is told in the second person, addressing the reader as “you,” which encourages kids to imagine they’re actually the main character:  “ . . . . you’ll wonder how you ever got so lucky.  With a dragon in your castle, you’ll have a built-in marshmallow toaster, your very own raft, and a kite that practically flies itself.”

The cartoons of the boy and dragon playing together are colorful, heartwarming, and detailed enough to be as believable as any dog-and-boy story.  Even as a grownup, I wanted to dive right into the picture of the boy floating happily through the ocean on the dragon’s stomach.

Meanwhile, the boy’s mother, father, and sister are having a more typical day out: lighting the barbeque, putting on sunblock, and sitting under an umbrella.

At first, the boy tries to hide the dragon from his family.  He conceals the dragon’s smoky breath with the family barbeque and erases the dragon’s prints on the beach.  Eventually, however, the boy breaks the news to his family.  Or, at least, he tries his best.  They are less than interested, even downright skeptical.  “Mmmm. . . .hmmm,” his mother murmurs, not even looking up from her book.

When the boy sets out to prove the dragon’s existence, the reader gets double vision:  every adventure with the dragon visually overlaps a mundane explanation.  The dragon’s breath, for example, could easily be smoke from the barbeque, and the dragon’s footprints look suspiciously like the boy’s flippers.

But when the dragon starts to misbehave, the boy gets blamed.  Who really ate his sister’s peanut butter sandwiches?  Or the family brownies?  The boy decides he’s had enough and banishes the dragon.  Luckily, just when regret sets in, the boy builds another sandcastle, and his dragon returns.  With friends.

I especially liked the warm and close relationships in the family.  Even though they may not believe the boy, father tickles him with a dragon/seagull feather, and the mother and sister want to play with him.

If only I could be so patient about my own son’s socks.

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.

Zappos Box Costume

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

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I was naive to think that my son was going to be excited about his new $50 furry snow boots, or maybe that Spyder ski jacket he wanted so badly because of the super cool spider and spiderweb on the back. Nope. The Zappos.com box was undoubtedly the best thing the UPS man delivered….



Buy at Zappos.com!

Converse Giveaway – FREE SHOES

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

The very first pair of shoes I ever bought my son was a pair of black Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. He couldn’t even walk! To be completely honest here, he wasn’t even born yet, but these shoes were so precious, I had to have them. I have 2 pairs of iconic Converse Chuck Taylor low tops on my shoe rack too – basic black and my bright kelly green ones. There are some things that simply never go out of style.

Needless to say, when Converse & Sears approached me about promotional opportunities on Sweet Peas & Stilettos – I knew it was a perfect fit. Converse & Sears are giving away FREE SHOES to one lucky Sweet Peas & Stilettos reader…..so read on to find out more.

I have spent the last week checking out all of the latest Converse shoes and I have to tell you how thrilled I was to find that they have an amazing assortment of shoes for the entire family in such a wide range of styles. They have taken their best selling vintage sneaker and found so many modern twists on a long-standing favorite. Here are some of my top picks:

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I am going to kick off my list with these totally adorable Converse Check Taylor All Star slip-ons for the little angels in your house. Your daughter will be smitten by the pretty pink colors and the funky double tongue. The colorful, chic diamond print will bring a joyful pop to every outfit.

Converse Boy's Chuck Taylor All Star Street Cab - Brown

My 5 year old son has recently started taking skateboarding lessons which he loves loves loves! I think these canvas sneakers will be perfect for him. Wearing these Converse Street Cab with a vintage t-shirt and his little Levis, I know he will look super cool next time he ‘rocks a fakey’ or drops in on the half pipe.

Converse Women's Athletic Shoe Chuck Taylor Beverly Boot - Tan

I don’t know about you but for some reason I have had a hard time finding the perfect indoor/outdoor rainy day boots. I prefer boots that aren’t too bulky that will still keep my toes warm.  I also want the flexibility of being to tuck my skinny jeans or leggings into them, or wear them under my favorite cords or boot cut jeans. Through snow and rain and icy cold days – these faux fur lined Converse Beverly boots might just do the trick.

Converse Men's Athletic Shoe Chuck Taylor All Star Outsider Boot - Brown

I showed my husband these cool Converse Outside boots and he immediately said, “You can buy me a pair of those. Remember, I wear a 12.” Enough said there… I know they will look great with jeans and since that is what he wears every day, they’ll be a wonderful addition to his winter wardrobe.

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Want to learn more about the latest styles from Converse and how you can pair them with your favorite outfits? Check out this video clip from Converse Family.

Now for those FREE SHOES….All you need to do to enter to win is ‘Like’ Sweet Peas & Stilettos on Facebook and post a note about which pair of Converse shoes is your favorite. The winner will be randomly selected from all entries and will be announced right here on Sweet Peas & Stilettos on Monday, February 6th.

Please Note: This is a sponsored post from Sears & Converse. As I mentioned above I have been wearing Converse for years and the opinions expressed above are my own. I would personally like to thank Sears & Converse for supporting Sweet Peas & Stilettos and for sponsoring the giveaway promotion for my readers.

converse-ad

Chicken Big Book Review

Friday, January 20th, 2012

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Chicken Big by Keith Graves, reviewed by Susan Fry

There are times when every child wonders whether they really, truly belong in their family.  As a vegetarian, spicy-food loving gal, I would regard my own parents’ British, meat-and-pudding lifestyle with astonishment.  “I must be adopted,” I’d hope, even though I looked exactly like my grandmother.  And who knows what my parents thought when I served them tofu . . . .

Chicken Big’s dilemma is much funnier.

“On a teeny little farm, in an itty-bitty coop, a very small hen laid a big, humongous, egg.”  When a big, humongous chick hatches out of the egg, all the other chickens are perplexed.  “What is it?” they wonder.

The smallest chicken, “not the sharpest beak in the flock,” has an answer.  “It’s an elephant!” she announces, confidently.

The other addle-brained chickens believe her, and Poor Chicken Big is forced to sit outside.  “I wish I were a chicken,” he thinks, forlornly watching his family in their coop.

But when crises arise, the mysterious creature comes to the chickens’ rescue again and again.  Do they recognize him as one of their own?  Unfortunately – and hilariously – not.  When the smallest chicken thinks the sky is falling, Chicken Big simply eats the acorn that hit her on the head.  “He must be a squirrel!” she proclaims.  When Chicken Big shelters the others from the rain, the smallest chicken decides that he’s an umbrella.

Even Chicken Big realizes that “These are not bright chickens.”

But, as with the best of families, he still loves them and wants to belong.  Finally, after Chicken Big rescues stolen eggs from a thieving wolf, the others persuade the smallest chicken that only a chicken, after all, could be so smart, warm, and brave.

Even if he snores like an elephant.

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.


Custom Rings from Gemvara

Kate Spade Slippers

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

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How cute are these Kate Spade slippers with these charming blooms?? Just think how happy your feet would be if you puttered around your house in these slippers? And they are totally on sale!

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The only decision I need to make is to figure out if I buy them in all 3 colors (they are available in a fabulous red version too!) or should I be a good girl and only buy 2 pairs. They are on sale…so I just can’t buy one…

Baby Shower Invitations

Monday, January 16th, 2012

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I am thrilled to launch a new page on Sweet Peas & Stilettos dedicated to baby shower invitation ideas and baby shower invitation wording tips. I found so many cute invites and had a great time putting this page together over the last few days. I have four categories of invites – baby boys, baby girls, gender neutral and couples showers. I hope it helps you find the perfect invite for your next shower. This adorable invite is DwellStudio for TinyPrints – Nature’s Calling Precious Baby Shower Invitation.

Elephant & Piggie

Friday, January 13th, 2012

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Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie Reviewed by Susan Fry

One of the toughest things about learning to read – other than those pesky, reversible “ds” and “bs” – is that most books for early readers are boring.  There’s an incredibly frustrating gap between the simple words kids can recognize and the exciting books they can understand when grownups read to them.  True, there’s only so much an author can do with rats, mats, and cats.  But a dull book can make reading a chore for adults and kids alike.

Thank goodness for Mo Willems!  His Elephant & Piggie books are deceptively simple.  But in just a few words, Willems can sketch out caring relationships, wacky pranks, and, in some cases, a postmodernist worldview that will have parents laughing out loud.

Willems’ illustrations are spare to the point of stark.  The backgrounds are an unadorned white.  The two main characters, Elephant and Piggie, are often the only creatures on the page, along with an occasional friend or a prop such as a ball or silly hat.

Because the pages are otherwise empty, the words are the main focus.

Kids might find a few longer words, but the most are short, in simple sentences with few contractions.  And Willems’ clever use of fonts teaches kids how to read with expression.  Multiple exclamation points and question marks clue kids into reading sentences with hysterical glee.  They’ll whisper words in tiny type and emphasize the italicized ones.  Instead of reading with the monotone so common in beginning readers, kids wind up performing these books, which is more fun for everyone involved.

Try them all.  But here are a few of my favorites.

Can I Play Too?  Elephant and Piggie want to play catch.  But when their friend Snake wants to join in, they all face a dilemma:  Snake doesn’t have any arms!  When throwing the ball at Snake means he gets bonked on the head, they make Snake himself into the ball.

I Broke My Trunk!  How did Elephant break his trunk?  His story involves lifting rhinos, hippos, and pianos.  The final answer, and Piggie’s reaction, is truly giggle-worthy.

We Are in a Book!  Elephant and Piggie realize they’re being watched:  by the reader.

“This is so cool!” they exclaim, and then make the reader say “banana” again and again.  But when Elephant gets nervous about the end of the book, Piggie has a solution:  ask the reader to read it again.  The final, brilliant touch?  Readers will only understand the first page after finishing the whole book.

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.



Weight Watchers

My New J. Crew Necklace

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

jcrew-necklace
I popped into J. Crew on the way home from the office today and immediately fell in love with (and of course proceeded to purchase) this super funky necklace. It is the perfect mix of sparkle and my favorite colors made into cool resin beads. What’s not to love! I just checked on the J. Crew website so I could give you the link but it doesn’t look like it is available online right now. This fabulous Orbit Necklace is kind of similar and it is super cool too. Every girl deserves a little bling to start off the new year…

Shoe Tape Dispenser

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Scotch Shoe Dispenser with Magic Tape
When you have a website called Sweet Peas & Stilettos and you’ve written a collection of short stories about shopping for shoes, and to top it off you have a whole wall in your bedroom full of colorful shoes, it is easy to understand why people like to buy you everything and anything that has a shoe on it. When Christmas rolls around, I know there will be more than one pair of shoes in my stocking…

This year, my mother bought me this crazy stiletto shoe tape dispenser and yes, I actually loaded it up and put it on my desk. I have no idea why I like this silly tape dispenser so much. It just kind of cracks me up….