Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Preparedness Redux

Just resurrecting my post from two summers ago in advance of Hurricane (what got reduced to a Tropical Storm) Irene. 
  • "D" Batteries. Check.
  • Milk. Check.
  • Working flashlights and headlamps. Check.
  • Limes, dark rum, and passion fruit syrup to make a Hurricane, the cocktail made famous by Pat O’Brien’s, a bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Check, check, check. 
When the hurricanes get going, the going go to the liquor store...

Hurricane Cocktail*

-1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
-4 ounces dark rum
-4 ounces passion fruit syrup
-1 lime slice
-1 Maraschino cherry

In a cocktail shaker, add lime juice, rum, passion fruit syrup, and ice; shake vigorously for 1-2 minutes and then strain into a tall glass. Garnish with lime slice and a maraschino cherry. Makes 1 serving.

*There are many different versions of the Hurricane cocktail and I believe that the original Pat O’Brien’s boasts about five different kinds of alcohol, but we will just have to make do.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

In Case You Want to Get Your NYC Playground Groove On This Spring...


The 13 Best New York City Playgrounds

By Jennifer Lehner

Photo credit: Frank Oudeman 2010

There are close to 1,000 playgrounds throughout the city! If you're in the mood to go beyond your neighborhood swing set, here's a list of 13 out-of-the-box playscapes worth traveling to throughout the five boroughs.
Mullaly South Playground | Highbridge
Located near Yankee Stadium, this fun spot lets mini musicians delight in sound exploration by slapping hollow, open-ended metal pipes, talking through telephone tubes and playing a xylophone with their feet.


Brooklyn Bridge Park | Pier 6
Boasting four separate play areas totaling 1.6 acres (Water Lab, Sandbox Village, Slide Mountain and Swing Valley), spectacular views of lower Manhattan and the New York Harbor, three sand volleyball courts and an outdoor food section dishing out Bark Hot Dogs and Blue Marble Ice Cream—this playground is a destination in and of itself.
Imagination Playground | Prospect Park
Paying homage to children's literature, this storytelling playspace sports an enormous bronze dragon which doubles as a water feature. Nearby, another set of statues depicts beloved characters of children's author Ezra Jack Keats. During the summer, families flock here for storytime. 


Chelsea Waterside Park | Hudson River Park
Pack up the bathing suits and towels because there's water, water everywhere at this Danish-designed wonderland. Kids will have a ball splashing in the wading area, getting drenched by the wall of faucets and running through the funky, blue fountains while parents and caregivers can sit in cool comfort beneath the shade umbrellas.
Imagination Playground | Burling Slip | South Street Seaport (pictured left)

David Rockwell's brainchild invites children in for unstructured play using assorted, loose parts like burlap bags, buckets, shovels, brooms, carts and fabrics. Kids can reenact elaborate pirate fantasies by scrambling up ropes, swinging in hammocks and swabbing the decks of their imaginary ship using miniature push brooms. 


Union Square Playground | Union Square (main picture)
Although there's plenty to draw the older kids, this playground caters to its littlest patrons with a section devoted solely to toddlers. Lined with wooden benches for parents and caregivers—and carpeted with checkerboard rubber tiles to cushion falls—this tot lot features age-appropriate climbing equipment, a sandbox and water fountain. 
Billy Johnson Playground | Central Park
There are slides and then there are SLIDES! The 45-foot-long granite beauty at this playground—constructed primarily from natural materials—is known to true slide aficionados as the fastest one in the entire city. Some kids even bring their own cardboard to increase speed on the way down. 
Hippo Playground | Riverside Park
A favorite among Upper West Side families—this good, old-fashioned hub is a shady haven even on the hottest days. The playground's stars are its namesake hippo statues, which can be sat on, climbed in and scrambled over and even spray water in the warmer months. A canopy of mature, honey locust trees provides ample shade for the entire space.
Teardrop Park | Battery Park City
Tucked away between the tall residential buildings of Downtown, this urban oasis offers children both a place for excitement and exploration, as well as quiet contemplation. Its main event is a truly awesome, two-story, joy ride of a slide. There are also plenty of boulders for rock-hopping, a water play area and shady benches for midday reading.
Ancient Playground | Central Park
This playground mixes standard issue equipment with climbing pyramids, an obelisk and a sundial mirroring the real ones right next door in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Egyptian art collection. It's a mecca for older children once school lets out for the day.


Science_Playground_2.jpgMOST EDUCATIONAL

Science Playground | New York Hall of Science | Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (pictured left)
It's more than just letting loose at this 60,000-square-foot fun zone. Through more than two dozen hands-on elements like slides, seesaws, speaking tubes, a giant spider web and sand pits—kids soak up the scientific principles of motion, balance, sound and sight, as well as the elements of sun, wind and water.
Playground For All Children | Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
The first of its kind in the country, this playground was created expressly for children with physical disabilities but, like its name implies, will appeal to all children. Special features include a boat-glider swing for the wheelchair-bound, a jungle gym accessible by ramp, stair-free paths, and swings and slides set at lower levels.


Connie Gretz's Secret Garden | Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden
Inspired by Francis Hodgson Burnett's 1911 children's classic The Secret Garden, this charming space features a turreted castle and a hedge maze leading to its very own secret, brick-walled garden of dogwoods, roses, and other blooming greens. Though not your typical playground, it's an imaginative hotspot for the curious nonetheless.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mama's Got A Byline!

So the blog may be dormant, but check us out in the April issue of New York Family magazine!

Baltimore in Under 36 Hours
Dubbed “Smalltimore” By Locals, New York Families Now Consider Maryland’s Big City A Fun Spot For Weekend Getaways
My family’s recent trip to Baltimore was an abbreviated one. One of those get-up-and-drive-on-Saturday-morning-and-comeback-on-Sunday-afternoon kinds of adventures—so we had a lot to pack into just 36 hours.
First stop: Little Italy—a neighborhood chockablock with restaurants along its narrow, row house-lined streets—for lunch. We took a table at Amicci’s, a casual eatery serving up classic Italian dishes and offering a $4.95 children’s menu (quite the steal!).
Their signature dish is the pane rotundo, a bread bowl brimming with creamy shrimp scampi. For dessert, we ducked across the street to Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop and stocked up on their infamous cannoli and an assortment of butter cookies.
Content and full (much like that caloric bread bowl) and running a few hours behind schedule—a consistent theme in my family’s life—we opted to spend the rest of our post-lunch afternoon at the Port Discovery Children’s Museum.
Housed in a high-ceilinged, 80,000-square-foot former fish market, Port Discovery boasts three floors of exhibits, many designed by Walt Disney Company Imagineers. It wouldn’t have been my first choice of attractions, if only because I would have preferred something more uniquely Baltimorean, like the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Port Discovery, however, was a wonderful place to wile away an entire afternoon with my three children, who range in age from two to seven years old. We spent nearly three hours there and the kids were fully engaged. Not to mention, virtually whine-free the entire time.
Jack, my two-and-a-half-year-old, was mesmerized by the exhibit inspired by Scholastic Entertainment’s Clifford the Big Red Dog on PBS Kids.
He could have spent the entire day loading oversized foam bones onto a conveyor belt that spilled its contents into a life-sized blue dog bowl for the massive mutt. My other two kids—Charlie, seven, and Vivi, five—preferred climbing up, crawling in, jumping on and sliding down KidWorks, a three-story, up-only “urban treehouse” with entrances and exits on all levels. But all three of my mini mes were inextricably drawn to the Wonders Of Water (WOW!), complete with window squeegees, water chimes and life-sized bubble hoops. They eschewed the waterproof Land’s End slickers and candy-hued Crocs in favor of getting completely soaked, a fact which the available full-body dryers did little to mitigate. Needless to say, Saturday came to a sopping end.
On Sunday, we started off at Miss Shirley’s, a Southern-inspired restaurant best known for its decadent breakfast dishes like cinnamon Danish pancakes drizzled with cream cheese icing and coconut cream-stuffed French toast. Although absent of a separate children’s menu, the restaurant’s vibe was decidedly kid-friendly and the huge portions likened to sharing.
Afterwards, we headed to the National Aquarium, a true must-see for anyone visiting Baltimore. I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes, a 65,400-square-foot immersion exhibit filled with over 150 plants and 1,800 animals indigenous to Australia, like shield shrimp, barramundi and laughing kookaburra. My troupe climbed to the glass-encased tropical rainforest at the very top of the building, then wound our way down through the rest of the aquarium. Boasting a smart design, it is built in such a way that it feels as if you are descending deeper and deeper into the ocean and swimming with the sharks, rays, sea turtles and schools of fish rather than just peering at them from the other side of a tank. Luckily, while Sunday showed a similar aquatic theme, we didn’t end up drenched this time around.
When the weather perks up, we hope to return to Baltimore again. Perhaps we’ll spend our time hopping from neighborhood to neighborhood via water taxi, take in an Orioles Game at Camden Yards, and sit outside and eat Maryland blue crabs. All in record time once more.
For more Spring Break travel ideas, visit