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Our Trip to LA LA Land


Our Trip to LA LA Land

I recently took my daughters on a cross-country trip to LA. It was something I had been planning for a long time as a surprise…just us girls. It was such an incredible trip in so many ways!! First of all, LA has the best weather…duh. It’s absolutely perfect. Coolish in the mornings and at night so you can wear a sweater, warm during the day for sandals and shorts. I could seriously live in that temperature every day of my life. Secondly, LA is a city with mountains! We loved taking hikes, especially because there was always a reward at the top. The views were breathtaking. Thirdly, LA has the BEST FOOD! One of my daughters has all these allergies, but it was no problem in LA. They always had vegan options or almond milk. WE LOVE CALIFORNIA!! Here are some of our fave places that we visited.

runyon canyon :: hiking in LA

runyon canyon :: hiking in LA

Runyon Canyon for a hike. Steep climb but so worth it. This was my girls’ favorite hike because you could see the Hollywood sign in the distance. I love this shot of my middle with her phone…sort of epitomizes her phase in life. Those two are attached at the hip. Literally.

novel cafe in westwood :: our trip to LA

Novel Café in Westwood. We loved this spot to eat. We sat upstairs where they have a library and found a book on limericks (which turned out to be useful because making up limericks is a perfect pastime while sitting in LA traffic. Grrr.)

el matador in malibu :: our trip to LA

el_matador1

el matador in malibu :: our trip to LA

El Matador beach in Malibu. Our favorite beach by far, wished the whole time that the boys could be with us.

melrose place :: our trip to LA

Alfred Coffee on Melrose Place. Best iced coffee and blueberry muffins ever! And they sell jam and chocolate made in LA.

universal hollywood tour :: our trip to LA

Universal Studios tour. Seriously cool…especially driving by The Voice sound stage!!

santa monica pier :: our trip to LA

The Santa Monica pier. We loved the view from the ferris wheel, and riding bikes along the pier to Venice Beach was SUPER fun. We stopped and ate at The Figtree Cafe…yummy and great people watching.

urbanic on abbot kinney :: our trip to LA

Urbanic on Abbot Kinney. The hippest shopping area down in Venice, and the most beautiful paper store where we bought our one piece of LA art.

inspiration loop at roy rogers park :: our trip to LA

Inspiration Loop was a really great hike at Roy Rogers State Park. It was a bit cooler and cloudy that day which was actually perfect hiking weather…and nobody was on the trail. It was incredibly peaceful, just the three of us. The view of LA spanned all the way to the Pacific. Even in the haze it was gorgeous.

the getty museum :: our trip to LA

The Getty Museum was just stunning. We napped and ate on the lawn, saw Jackson Pollock and Ansel Adams, and gazed at the beautiful architecture. Worth the drive.

our trip to LA :: visiting @mericherry

our trip to LA :: visiting @mericherry

our trip to LA :: visiting @mericherry

I had a very exciting date with Meri from Meri Cherry and Ana from Babble Dabble Do, two fellow bloggers whom I had never met (but we share a Pinterest board called Rockin’ Art Moms). It was soooo much fun meeting face to face! We gabbed for hours. Insta-friends. Then the next day, our last and most favorite day of all, we went to Meri’s house and met her two beautiful little girls. Our families immediately clicked and it was like being with old friends… so cool when that happens. Meri has art playgroups at her house every Friday. Picture lots of babies and toddlers painting, splashing, licking (Meri’s paint was made from yogurt!), and just generally having the most amazing, messy, tactile experience of their lives. It was ridiculous! We loved every minute.

view from the hotel :: our trip to LA

This last shot is the view from our hotel in Universal City. The  mountains! I wish I could wake up to this view every day.

We left LA with lots of new clothes (thanks to a shopping spree at The Grove), dirt filled sneakers, many miles clocked in the car, three new friends for life, and a profound need to return to California some day. Next time we will go as a whole family.

What’s your favorite spot in LA?

xo Bar

 

Art for Littles


Art for Littles

Good morning! Today I am sharing yet another killer collection of simple art & play ideas for your little ones.

From top left: Spin art sun catchers from Meri Cherry // Rainbow color mixing from Simple as That // Credit card art from Housing a Forest // Hole punch art by Learn with Play at Home // Monster blow paintings from Raising Sparks // Styrofoam sculptures from The Artful Parent // Play with fabric scraps from Paint on the Ceiling // Easy weave bracelets by Willow Day // Clothespin caterpillars from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom // Scrap paper collage from Art Bar // Watercolor art from Blog Me Mom // Kandinsky egg carton art from Whatever

Have a great week! xo, Bar

 

Invitation to Paint


Invitation to Paint

Ever since my kids were very little, I have always put materials out in hopes that they would walk by, sit down, and get inspired. I just never knew until recently that there is a name for this philosophy! It’s called an “Invitation to Play”. I love this! It’s a term that is rooted in the Reggio Emilia approach to teaching and is used often with Early Childhood educators. Now that mine are older, I still do this but less with toys and more with art.

invitation to paint ~ still lives and open-ended paint exploring

This latest invitation was simple. I just taped a small piece of watercolor paper to the table with green tape. I put out a little still life, some watercolors and some colored pencils.

invitation to paint ~ still lives and open-ended paint exploring

invitation to paint ~ still lives and open-ended paint exploring

invitation to paint ~ still lives and open-ended paint exploring

invitation to paint ~ open-ended art exploration

invitation to paint ~ open-ended art exploration

This littlest artist decided to use some glitter glue and hearts that she found on the shelf to create her own abstract work of art. I like her thinking!

There are so many ways to create an invitation to play. Read this post by The Imagination Tree to get started, or search Pinterest where you will surely find one million ideas! One great Pinterest board is the Rockin’ Art Moms board that I happen to be part of. The other 11 members are well-versed in the Reggio language and they have a plethora of brilliant ideas.

xo, Bar

 

Martha’s Vineyard {family holiday}


Martha’s Vineyard {family holiday}

This summer we explored the beautiful island of Martha’s Vineyard. Lying just 6 miles off the southern coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, The Vineyard was once inhabited by the Wompanoag tribe and is now known for it’s gorgeous beaches, laid back style, and occasional vacationing president. Here are photos of some of our favorite spots and memories.

We rented a house through VRBO about three weeks before our trip. Since we had just canceled our big, much researched California coastal vacation (no time to explain, but picture a lot of moping) we wanted to stay somewhere “adventurous”. We chose the town of Aquinnah on the southern most tip of the island, a 35 minute drive from the ferry. Aquinnah is the last place on the island where Wompanoag still live. The beaches are untouched and breathtaking. Gayhead beach is known for its dramatic clay cliffs (and nudie bathers…make sure to warn your 7-yr old boy so they don’t point and giggle). Our favorite beach was Moshup, which is a 10-minute walk from the car down a cleared path, and adjoins Gayhead beach. There are rocks of all colors and boulders that look sculpted, along with the softest sand. The waves break further out so the kids could walk on the sandbar and body surf.

We visited all of the Vineyard towns. Some were sleepy places with just a general store and a post office. Others were destination spots with restaurants, inns, shopping and lots and lots of ice cream and candy! My kids were in heaven. Our favorite was the old whaling port of Edgartown. Full of pretty shingle style houses built by whaling captains, a walk down Water Street along the harbor is dazzling. Edgartown is also home to the island’s most popular beach, South Beach. We loved this beach, too (but with it’s crashing surf it is not the best beach for little kids). Our favorite shop was Portobello Road. They sell eclectic paintings, books, signs and all sorts of cool collectibles. Another lucky find was Chilmark Pottery (in Chilmark, of course) which sells the most beautiful hand made wares. Master potter Geoffrey was so nice to let us watch him work. We eat from his bowls every morning now!

Lighthouses abound on The Vineyard. We visited lots of them. Our favorite was the Aquinna lighthouse, probably because it was at our doorstep, but also because they are making a big effort to raise money to move it because it is falling into the ocean as it sits right on top of the red clay cliffs of Gayhead beach. We took a tour and climbed the stairs to the top and looked at some of the old photos of when there used to be a lighthouse keeper. It was pretty cool for the kids to make a connection with the past and also help problem solve for the future. (On a side note, speaking of lighthouse keepers, have your read The Light Between the Oceans? A heartbreaking story, but a good summer read.)

We also found some calm lakes, like that of Long Point Reserve, which was a beautiful day for all of us. It gave the kids a break from the pounding waves and they were able to just swim in the water for hours. The fishing village of Menemsha offered us a casual place to eat at The Galley, and was one of the spots where they filmed Jaws (my kids became a little obsessed with this fact). Menemsha also has a quieter beach where you can climb the rocks, and has the best sunsets on the island.

We loved our vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. We hope some day to go back and explore the island some more on bike (but first we will have to teach 7-yr old mr. stubborn to ride). Sorry for all the photos, I just couldn’t narrow down anymore. There were just too many pretty spots to show you!

xo, Bar

 

 

The Super Swing


The Super Swing

About 40 feet up in the trees hangs our super swing. When we first tossed that rope around the oak branch it was 13 years ago, and we attached a baby swing. The kids spent years in that swing. Some liked to go high, others were scared. Eventually they all outgrew the baby swing, and so we switched it out for a buoy. Now that they are older (and more daring), they launch themselves off of the swing set and fly so high that their feet touch the house! It’s absolutely frightening to watch. We now make them wear helmets.

At my son’s birthday party last month, after the treasure hunt was over (in record time), the boys automatically formed a line by the super swing. I just love these photos. They capture the experience perfectly. There is a magic about that swing. It’s like a flying trapeze. You wait your turn, you get your running push, and they you fly through the air….weightless and free.

I love the look of joy on their little faces! These photos were snapped (before I remembered to put on their helmets) by my talented friend Alix Martinez. Check out her website and you will be blown away…she is a true artist.

Enjoy your week!

xo Bar

 

 

Summer List 2013


Summer List 2013

Happy 4th of July! At this moment, we are somewhere exploring the island of Martha’s Vineyard. I will report back later in the month. In the meantime, here our summer list (better late than never I always say):

1. bake giant chocolate chip cookies / 2. make mini storage / 3. sombrilla beach tent / 4. rhode island beaches / 5.  make coconut milk strawberry ice-cream / 6. outdoor movie / 7. find beach cliffs / 8. paint rocks / 9. make paper machè animals / 10. make perler bead bracelets / 11. teach my son to ride a bike / 12. make sponge balls / 13. make the best salsa ever / 14. play pool basketball / 15. visit a farm / 16. paint silhouettes / 17. read aloud to the kids / 18. Martha’s Vineyard lighthouse

Come visit my Pinterest summer list board for more ideas!

xo Bar

 

A Backyard Birthday


A Backyard Birthday

To some, the thought of a backyard birthday party is terrifying. I will agree that it is so much easier taking your child’s party to Pump it Up or Chuck-e-Cheese! If my kids would ask for one of those parties, I would be more than happy to oblige. However, except for the movie theatre party last year, my three kids have always wanted their parties to be at home. I did the math recently and this means that I have planned and executed 29 kid birthday parties at our home. I guess that makes me an expert. But the fact is, you are never really an expert because each party is different. They all have their own vibe depending on the age of the kids, the amount of kids, the weather (of course) and the activities. The only truly predictable part about having a party at home is that things never go as planned. You have to be able to relax and let the party take you where it wants to go. You have to relinquish control and focus on just one thing… the birthday child. As long as they are smiling, your party is a success!

The birthday child rarely, if ever, cares about what your vision is for their party. They (and their friends) would be more than happy to just run around the house and swing on the swing set. Nonetheless, most of us moms are crazy enough that we plan for weeks to make the party as creative and pretty as possible.

You can find my Backyard Party To-do List here.

For party themes, game ideas, and arts + crafts, download this PDF to help you plan.

My free printable Treasure Hunt Party invitations can be found here.

My flubber and playdough recipes are always big hits at a party. Either at a table for those kids who want to be mellow, or as favors.

Speaking of favors, here is my post on the Art Kit party favors I did for this party.

You can hit my Pinterest boards for more kid + party ideas.

I hope these lists help you plan your next outdoor party. Just do it!

xo Bar

{photography by Alix Martinez}

 

 

Montessori Letter Tracing


Montessori Letter Tracing

At any given moment, my son is obsessed with at least thirty different things. Two-thirds of them relate to sports or food. Then you have the chinese erasers, Oliver Jeffers, cool pens, etc. category. Within this last group falls his obsession with script, and his love of similes. Yes, similes. He’s talked in similes for a couple of years now, and they always make me laugh. Similes are the way he expresses himself when he wants to make his point. What I love most about his similes is that they give me a glimpse into the inner-workings of his fascinating seven-year-old brain. He thinks pumpkins are clean and chickens are hungry! He’s a poet (or a comedian)…both are awesome.

His obsession with script is because his cousin in London of the same age has been writing in script since birth, practically. Our school doesn’t teach script until third grade which, in my opinion, is missing the boat. Montessori educators believe that at around age 4 1/2, children “explode” into writing. This is the perfect time to start them tracing letters with a pencil (before that age they can trace with their finger). Thank God for cousins abroad who inspire! For about a year now he has been tracing my script letters. This time, I decided to mix his love of similes with his passion for script. We used these neon Bistro Chalk Markers, which are so cool to write with as they glide smoothly along the black surface.

As the little guy was tracing his similes with his tricked out pens, he told me that he was as psyched as a cow!

 

Travel Art Bag


Travel Art Bag

We’re back from our February vacation! It was beautiful in the Dominican Republic and we feel so fortunate that we were invited to share a very memorable family vacation with grandparents. Despite several trips to the infirmary for various problems (which I will not elaborate on because I am pretending none of that happened), we were able to relax, read, eat, play and best of all…create some pretty art! I threw together this little travel bag for the trip and it was perfect. I’ll include sources, but you can really just grab anything that you have on hand (or make a run to CVS) and even just put it in a ziplock! My goal was to get the kids to draw and paint from the beautiful nature that surrounded us. (I will share their art later this week.)

Here’s what I put in our travel art bag:

watercolors // colored pencils // washi tape // 1 pencil, 1 eraser, 1 sharpener, 1 sharpie // sketchbook // brushes // tempera paints // merimekko tote

I hope you had a nice little break as well (or will have one soon!). Don’t forget to pack a few art supplies when you travel!

{Travel tip: Remember, when traveling to a foreign country with small kids, curtail the habit of picking off of your kids’ plates or having your kids share any food. Also, don’t share utensils or have the whole family drink from the same water bottle at the airport. And wash hands frequently! Sickness could be spreading and you won’t even know it until it’s too late. And that’s all I have to say about that.}

 

Homemade Playdough // Glitter Recipe


Homemade Playdough // Glitter Recipe

If you have never made homemade playdough, I hope this post compels you do it already. It’s really easy and cool to make. (By cool I mean sciency and awesome). The kids loooooooove making it, but the true bonus is that it lasts forever and ever! (By forever I mean in playdough-time, which is about 6 months). We used food coloring but you could also experiment with natural dyes.

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1/4 cup salt

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 cup water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

dye & glitter

Directions:

Mix dry ingredients in a big-ish bowl (big is good because then little people can stir without losing too much). Add the water, oil, food coloring and glitter. We used about 2 tablespoons silver glitter. When fully mixed (it’s ok if there are still a few lumps), pour into a non-stick pan over medium heat. Cook and stir for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture draws away from the pan. Cool until you are able to handle it. Knead until smooth and place in an airtight container (we use zip locks).

{Note: Although homemade, this playdough is not edible because it’s too salty.}

We’ve collected many tools over the years for playing with our playdough. On this day, we used a roller, spatula, potato masher, and an old set of heart cookie cutters.

Playdough never gets boring because it’s so tactile. Even my 13-year old will knead and roll and cut. And there is something about homemade playdough that is softer and even more satisfying to squeeze!

Make some today before Nemo hits (for all of you New Englanders), and stay safe!!

{Here is a video that shows you how it’s made. They used essential oils which is also a great idea…rose scented play dough!}