3.19.2013

Awesome Picks for Kids: Zebras... The Next Favorite Animal Trend?


...Am I suffering of a bad case of the stripes? ...Noooo, I'm not getting colorful stripes all over my face, like little Camilla Cream in the popular children's book by David Shannon... I'm just seeing stripes,  lots of black and white stripes in the shape of zebras, included in many children's collections for the upcoming spring and summer... With cute designs, modern illustrations, and of course, the ever trendy combination of black and white, zebras seem to be ready to take over, as the favorite animal of the season. 

A beautiful pattern, zebras make a great theme to decorate a child's room or a playroom. They could also make a tasteful shower gift with this cool combo of zebra booties and matching onesie; or simply have your little fashionista show his love for zebras with a cute  graphic tee or cardigan... They are just adorable!!

Ready to start clicking?? Here are the links to our fabulous picks:

1:: Monochrome Zebra Head by Anne-Claire Petit, available here
2:: Cardigan Zebre - Dore by Simple Kids, available here.
3:: Zebra Tee by Tea Collection, available here.
4:: Camerun Shorts by Baby Box London, available here.
5:: Stripes and Dots Snapsuit by Winter Water Factory available here.
6:: Zebra Booties by Petit Nord available here.

3.12.2013

St. Patrick's Day: A Shamrock and Little Leprechauns' Celebration


Growing up in Venezuela, I was never familiar with Irish traditions. Even though I come from a country that opened doors to so many European inmigrants, the luck of the Irish didn't go south. It is being here, in New York, that I've got to learn and enjoy the celebrations in honor of the patron Saint of Ireland. The memories go from my early days in NYC, joining the parade and touring endlessly the Irish pubs around, to more calmed and quiet festivities with the family at home. It has always been fun, so much that we have adopted Saint Patrick's Day as another one of our holidays. We like the green motif as an anticipation to spring and so, I dedicate the day to cook and bake Irish specialties while the girls work on some crafts, and also ..why not, I enjoy a cold bottle of stout or two with my other half.

Nothing too complicated!! More than anything, the idea is to keep it simple and share family time... I'm excited with my picks for this Sunday. It looks like we will be doing a shamrock tribute since everything in the list is related to it... I'll also work on some delicious Irish soda bread, but I'll be sharing the recipe and pictures in a following post... Now, get into some clicking activity and join our Saint Patrick's Day fun!!

:: Decorate with a Shamrock Garland in green and white by GFetti.
:: Drink many glasses of Shamrock Shake Shooters by The Family Kitchen.
:: Make toilet paper rolls Wee Little Shamrock Men with Sweet and Lovely Crafts' tutorial. 
:: Bake chocolate Cupcakes with Cut Out Clovers by Kitchen Fun w/ my Three Sons
:: Wear a cool St. Patrick's Day Tie Shirt by Once Upon a Story.

Pot of Gold!! Looking for more ideas to make your St. Patrick's Day really fun?? Our Pinterest board "Emerald and Mint" is packed with great projects and recipes from all over the internet to get your creativity going... Follow us there and happy pinning!! 

2.28.2013

What's for Dessert? ...Pear Tart with Marsala-Cinnamon Syllabub


Pear is one of my favorite fruit. I loooove the subtle sweetness and fleshy texture of baked pears, especially when they are the key ingredient in a cake, a tart, or any dessert. Last weekend, I went to my local market and the abundance of pear of all kinds, reminded me of this recipe that I wanted to try last fall, but it never happened- Pear Tart with Marsala-Cinnamon Cream.  Good thing, pears are still in season, and even though it is common to find pears all year round, they tend to be juicier and sweeter, during the fall and winter.

I finally made the tart and OMG!! it was fantastic. Easy to make, this recipe may take some time to get to the final product, but it works, it looks beautiful, tastes delicious, and you don't need to be a pastry chef to make it.

So, here is my adaptation of the original recipe that I found in "Tarts", a book from the "Love Food" collection, by Parragon Books... Hope you enjoy it as much as I did, making it and tasting it!!

::Ingredients::

Pie Dough
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
5 tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp confectioners' sugar
cold water

Filling
3 firm pears, peeled, cored, and halved
1 large strip lemon rind
1 cup Marsala wine
1 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup water
12 tbsp. butter
3 eggs
2 cups finely ground almonds (not powder, but small chunks)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Marsala-Cinnamon Cream
1/2 cup Marsala wine
10 tbsp. superfine sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup heavy cream

  • Lightly grease a 9-inch loose-bottom, fluted tart pan. Sift the flour and salt into a food processor, add the butter, and process until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Tip the mixture into a large bowl, stir in the sugar, and add one or two tablespoons of cold water, just enough to bring the dough together. Turn out onto a floured counter and roll out the dough 3 inches larger than the pan. Carefully lift the dough into the pan and press to fit. (If this step becomes difficult, do what I did. Press the dough inside of the pan with your fingers until it is all covered with a thin and uniform layer). Roll the rolling pin over the pan to neaten the edges and trim the excess dough. Fit a piece of parchment paper into the tart shell with dried beans,  and let it chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Remove the pastry shell from the refrigerator and bake blind for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, then remove the beans and paper. Return to the oven for 5 minutes.
  • Put the pears, lemon rind, Marsala, 2tbps of the sugar and the water in a pan and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 30 minutes, or until pears are tender. Leave in the liquid to cool. Slice the pears lengthwise, not too thin, so the tart gets enough of the pear flavor.
  • Melt 11 tbsp. of the butter. Beat the remaining sugar with the eggs and stir in the melted butter, then the almonds and flour. Pour the almond mixture into the pastry shell and arrange the pear slices in a cartwheel pattern on top. Make sure the pear covers the top completely, otherwise the mixture will rise through when baking it. Melt the remaining butter and brush it over the pears. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, put the Marsala, sugar, and cinnamon stick for the syllabub (cream) in a pan and let simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and let cool.
  • When you are ready to serve, make the cream. Put the cooled Marsala in a bowl and gradually whip in the cream with an electric whisk until soft peaks form. Slice the tart and spoon a spoonful of cream on each slice.

2.26.2013

Awesome Picks for Kids: Cool Cameras for Little Papparazzi


The Oscars are over and the red carpet is already old news, but your little one can still join the action, papparazzi style, and go click,click!! with these awesome finds...

Cool and cute, cameras have become a trendy theme for kids lately, and we are loving these original designs. Onesies, tees, wooden toys, wall art and, even a lovely DIY craft- we picked them all.

So, go ahead... lights, action, and "click" on the links to choose your favorite one.
::Above::
:: Organic Wooden Pretend Play Camera by Rewood Toys, available here::
:: Holga Camera Baby Onesie by Little Lee Studios, available here::
:: Pig with a 35mm Camera by Barking Bird Art, available here::

:: MG Camera, Ciak!! by Mastro Geppetto, available here::


:: DIY Cardboard Insta Camera by Estefi Machado, available here::
:: Future Photographer T-shirt by Once Upon a Story, available here::

Lovely!!... Aren't they?? ...Which one would you pick??

2.21.2013

Awesome Picks for Kids: Expecting!! Vera Bradley's NEW Baby Line


Before its launch in stores and website on March 14th, here is a peek of Vera Bradley's new Baby collection... It only makes sense that after designing bags and accessories for every single stage in women's lives, the brand decided to awaken girls' sense of fashion, from the very beginning.

Colorful flowers and vibrant paisley patterns will be adorning the girls-only line, an arrangement of baby dresses, onesies, cute mary janes, plush bunnies and bears, blankets, bibs, and of course, baby diapers bags.

I must say, not all the time I fall in love with Vera Bradley's busy patterns, but this baby collection seems very feminine, delicate, and perfect for the upcoming spring baby showers. I like the idea of mixing-matching and making a nice gift set.

Even though Vera Bradley's website is keeping the suspense and only announcing the date for the launch of the new line, a few more pictures are posted on one of their boards, on Pinterest... Take a peek!!

Vera Bradley Baby Line available here, from March 14th.
Pictures also available here, on Pinterest.

2.20.2013

Kukkia Toys: Bringing Kids' Playtime Back To Basics


I've always believed that simple and basic toys bring children's imagination a lot further than those equipped with batteries and sounds... Isn't it puzzling how little ones open a box with a toy inside, and immediately start playing with the box, rather than with the toy? It seems like a cardboard box has more power to challenge a child's creativity- maybe because they can manipulate it and make anything they want out of it.  

Japanese designed Kukkia Toys brought that idea back to my mind. Basic shapes made of natural materials with a combination of subtle and vibrant colors, surely do the trick in kids' busy hands- it's a silent invitation to touch and build, touch and play.

All made of sustainable beech wood, the collection goes from black and white polka dots cars to a mini City of London with its traditional Big Ben and a doubled-decker bus, from a sushi set with denim velcro seawed to star dominoes with a hundred stars to count and count all the way to the moon.

Adorable!!... Definitely, it's all in the details!!

Kukkia Toys are available at their website, here. (Use Google translator)
For list of stores and worldwide shipping, I suggest visiting their Facebook Page, here. 

2.14.2013

Valentine's Day Treats for Little Cupids and Big Ones Too!!


So, that's it!! ...Valentine's Day is here and we are celebrating with a bunch of delicious treats for everyone. A perfect occasion to be creative and why not, to get a little fancy, and surprise our very loved ones with something we've made with much affection... Of course, hoping that we have the time for it!

So, if that is the case, pick your favorite recipe, gather your ingredients, dust your mixer off, and go rich and decadent with our favorite Valentine's Day treats. Make it a surprise, light some candles, and say "I love you" many times today. Don't forget, hug and kiss abundantly, over and over again!!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!! ... Cheers to love, friendship and happy hearts!!

  :: Pictures above, clockwise :: 
1:: How to Bake a Heart Into Your Cupcake by Made with Love by Me.
2:: Valentine's Jelly Pops by Taste for Adventure.
3:: Lemon Berry Cupcakes by Patisserie Natalie at Cupcake Spy.
4:: Conversation Heart Sugar Cookies by Kelsey's Kitchen.


:: Moist Chocolate Cupcake with Prague Frosting by Natasha's Kitchen. (above, left)
:: Valentine's Day Truffle Cake by Pizzazzerie at ForRent (above, right)
:: Chocolate Hearts Pudding Cups by Worth Pinning. (below)