Archive for February 2012

a word on presents


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image via pinterest

What is the etiquette when it comes to gift-giving for kids? I’ve talked about this extensively among like-minded parents, and it’s such a touchy subject, I thought I’d bring it up here.

Here’s the problem: I’m neurotic. I’ll own up to it. I’m probably less neurotic than a lot, but more neurotic than most. I like my house, and I think we live in a pretty cute and well curated home. For the most part, things don’t come into our home without long discussions, frequent visits to the furniture store, taking home samples of fabric and lots of envisioning of what it will look like in the space. It happens, it’s annoying and it’s fun: I’m keeping it real on a sprouting acorn. I mean, you don’t even have to be neurotic about your home, maybe you live in a small apartment and space is limited.

My sister got this rocking horse from the Pasadena Flea Market. It is the biggest toy in our home. She asked me about 8x if I liked it. It was very considerate and I really do like it. 

So what happens when someone decides to give your kid a MASSIVE teddy bear? (I need to be clear that everyone has been very considerate of us with Gabriel and his toys). When my cousin and I were younger, someone gave her a GIGANTIC teddy bear. It took up half her room and it took both of us to move it around. She thought it was awesome and I was jealous of her, but I’m not sure her parents felt the same way. Her parents, my aunt and uncle, live in a gorgeous home, covered with antiques and sculptures. He is an artist, she owns a gallery, they both love aesthetics and decorating their homes. Their beach house is actually featured in this book and they rent it out via this facebook page. (Their beach house has a TOTALLY different look than their home in the city, but I really digress).

I never thought about this stuff before I had a kid, but now I’m conscious of it and KNOW that I myself have been this kind of gift-giver. I remember giving my niece a pink princess vanity table, and maybe her parents cringed when they saw it. Who knows? Most of us know what it’s like to want to get the most awesome gift for your favorite kid. And we ALL know that when it comes to little kids, the bigger the gift, the closer you get to being their favorite. As parents, when your well-meaning friend hands over a huge gift to your kid and everyone’s eyes light up with excitement, how can you be the grumpy friend/parent who says “OVER MY DEAD BODY IS THAT FUGLY THING COMING INTO MY HOME”? You can’t because it’s impolite and we’ve always been taught to be gracious receivers. My aunt and uncle lived with this bear (and they still do, because at this point, he’s part of the family).

So, how do you handle this?  Do you think you should make a registry for your kids? That’s takes away the fun for gift-givers and it maybe a little presumptuous and impolite? I should note that I did create a list at a store for my own parents after overhearing my dad’s colleagues talking about needing to get Gabriel a motorized car that he could ride on. Maybe you just smile politely, take a few pictures and haul it off to goodwill? Or perhaps you just let go of trying to control the situation and live with the giant bear?

For my family and close friends, I ask the parents what they want for their kids. And if they are being polite and refuse to tell me, I get that kid some books, because they’re timeless, unobtrusive, and you really can’t have enough of them. And if books aren’t your thing (there’s something wrong with you), you will never go wrong with something small and cute (provided it isn’t a living creature). But maybe always include a gift receipt.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

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We’re in San Francisco this week. Aidan grew up here and his family still lives here, so we come to visit when we can. I have to say, I really love this city. I actually always have, I wanted to go to college here.

This week’s tuesday etsy spotlight is influenced by San Francisco. Matte Stephens, an artist inspired by all the big names in Mid-Century modern design. I think these prints would look so adorable as a series in a kid’s room, or even in your own living room. 


They are totally affordable as prints, and really reasonable for original paintings. The San Francisco ones are adorable, but the New Orleans and New York ones.. I love.

I love work that can be appreciated as a child and as an adult. I think these cross that boundary really well. What kid wouldn’t love the whimsical architecture and the animated little creatures!

I love these prints. I hope you do too! Happy Tuesday people!



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do, play | 1 comment

We found this gem of a place in Santa Monica, on Main Street, Books and Cookies! Think about a place that is devoted to children’s books! The place is covered with books for all ages and interests! They have the classics and the contemporary, they have it all!




While I was there they were conducting a cooking class for kids and families. It looked really fun!


They had a small store with food available for parents and their kids! While we were there, they were even baking cookies that has left me craving gingerbread ever since.


They had a whole plethora of amenities to make reading exciting for children, including puppets, reading nooks everywhere, hammocks and my favorite, a teepee!

Gabriel was actually more interested in the toys and the snacks (and the flirting with the older ladies–his new favorite thing).

Nevertheless, the fun little place is like a traditional library on steroids, in the best possible way. It’s free to come and use and they do a fantastic job at fostering reading! I loved it there.

Books and Cookies
2230 Main Street,
Santa Monica, CA

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Doing the Five Faves For Friday posts is really difficult for me, and here’s why: First, before I write the post, I must reflect on my week, which is the fun part because I am reminded of all the cool things I did that week. However, it gets me thinking about how every moment I have with my loved ones is equally perfect, which makes it so impossible to pick just five favorites. Ugh, the stresses of life.

Seriously though, I encourage you to spend a few minutes every Friday to think about what your five favorite moments of the week are. I’m sure you, too, will find it difficult to choose just five!

After much internal conflict, here are my five faves…

a kid’s dream. Both boys pretty much went ballistic at FAO Schwarz (in Manhattan). Nico, the son of a toy package designer, examined the boxes of almost every toy in that joint, but that’s nothing new. We spent a good 3 hours in the there (with minimal melt downs!) It’s like a hands-on toy museum, I don’t know why we’re not there more often.

a trip to the Maritime Aquarium. Nico had been to the aquarium several times before, but this was Lucas’s first time. Aside from the fish tank at the pediatrician’s office and at the library, Lucas had never seen water creatures in this capacity, ever. He and Nico roamed around wide-eyed, and Matt and I basically just followed them around from one exhibit to the next. We even got to pet a sting ray. Ssslimy!

a raw cacao truffle. I got the recipe from this book I started reading the other day. So far I like what I’m reading and I’m learning a lot, mostly about the benefits of eating vegan and raw. I’m a vegetarian, so what the author is preaching isn’t too far of a stretch for me, but I doubt I’ll change my diet completely – I like my veggies cooked sometimes! Although, I’d like to adapt a few new things into my eating habits.

a real big boy. Where has the time gone? My little Nico is in a booster seat now?

balance bike. We saw this parked somewhere in the Upper West Side. I imagined the little child wrapping the bike lock around his bike and onto the post… and it brought a smile to my face.


We’re off to Split Rock this weekend. It’s an indoor waterpark and hotel in the Poconos. We’re going with Matt’s sisters and their families. I’ve been using Split Rock as a bribing tool to get the kids to do things they don’t really want to do, and I must say, it’s been working like a charm. I need to work on a new bribing tool come Monday… any suggestions? Wait – Andrea, do the French even bribe their children? I could really take a cue from them.

Have a great weekend everyone! xo

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a reading nook


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We’ve probably seen the traditional reading nooks. You’ve seen them, sometimes they are created inside unused closets, or sometimes when a home has a bay window, that gets converted. But what about the rest of us who don’t have spare storage space or a bay window? Reading tents, reading teepees, reading forts to the rescue!

I’m a little obsessed with these of late. I think they’re so cute and really allow a child to be in their own little world with a book. They can sit quietly and imagine meatballs falling from the sky, making stone soup, go to where the wild things are, really understand how hungry that caterpillar was or think about that little engine that just could. I don’t need to wax poetic about the importance of the imagination, you already know about all that. Also, what about playing there without a book? And just having a place that transforms with your imagination? Ahhhhmaaziiing!

When my sister and I were kids, we used our bunk bed as a ship. I would always be the captain, she would always be the unfortunate person who fell off board. I’d rescue her with a rolled up sheet and she’d act like she was struggling as she climbed up the ladder to my top bunk. It was insanely fun and never got old.

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a party hat DIY


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Who doesn’t love a traditional party hat? It actually turns out, LOTS of people, present party EXCLUDED! I love party hats! I think they’re so festive, traditional and nostalgic! I wanted to make Gabriel’s party hats for his birthday to fit the theme.


Patterned paper. I ordered wrapping paper on amazon to fit the theme. For this, I used blue and white polka dots, and red and white stripes! But what about this? or you could even use patterned scrapbook paper or printable paper? or what about lego embossed paper for a lego-themed party. Ok, getting carried away.
Elastic (string will work too, but won’t quite have the snug fit that elastic gives you.
Gluestick or spray adhesive
miscellaneous adornments. Think sequins, yarn/tissue pom-poms, feathers, die-cuts, flowers, whatever your heart desires.
and this template.


I suck. I actually didn’t take any pictures of the hat making process. But I can write them out!

1. Print the template on your cardstock.

2. Glue or spray fixative the patterned paper onto the cardstock making sure to get the edges really well. Make sure that you stick it to the side without the template outline since you’ll be using those lines to cut it out in step 3!

3. Cut the template and the little slits that will allow you to slip the tab into the slit.

4. Use a piece of tape to stick the tab to the inside of the hat–for extra strength.

5. Decorate it with your desired adornments! I just topped it off with a feather!

6. Staple the elastic to the each side of the hat. You can also use a hole puncher and tie string on each side.

et voila!

a party hat!

image Noah Rangno, via ocburbs

Check out more pictures of the party herehere and from here!

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Today’s tuesday etsy spotlight is also one of our newest sponsors! Check out Cactus and Olive, an etsy store run by Loni Harris, a graphic design/DIYer! I was checking out paper crafts and saw her paper airplanes and fell in love with them. They’re so simple and stylish! Could you just imagine one in your own kid’s room? Who cares if you haven’t got an infant anymore! She will even do custom airplanes just for your kiddo!

And her other mobiles are super cute too! Elephants, safari animals, owls, and tractors too!

Make sure you check out her blog for inspiration and to see pictures of her adorable baby girl! Visit her blog here.

As a special gift to our readers, she is offering 15% off any of her mobiles with the code SPROUTINGACORN15. How awesome is that? If you aren’t thinking of getting one for yourself, why not one for a new baby in your life. I know you know a new baby. I know 2 just born in the past week!

Happy Tuesday!

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I have to apologize for the insane amount of pictures on this post; it’s really hard to pick which ones I liked most. I also went majorly overboard with stuff for the party, but I had so much fun!
We ended up with not one, but TWO cakes! We originally had one that was 7 layers big, with a cat in the hat and the WORKS, but unfortunately the beautiful cake met it’s match with a sharp turn in the car.

I have to say though, they more than made up for it with a SECOND cake which arrived just in time for the second wave of guests. Both cakes were from Magical Cakes who even did a very special little animation for Gabriel. On small pieces of paper, placed on top of cupcakes,  you could scan the image with your iphone or ipad and up popped an animation with Gabriel in a scene from the Cat in the Hat!

First of all, I purchased this package from Etsy’s lee laa loo store, I also did a post on another etsy store that also does party packages here. I didn’t use all the different printouts, but I did use some of it and changed it around on photoshop to use for other things. I also purchased wrapping paper from Amazon in red and white stripes and blue and white polka dots to use for party hats and pinwheels. I downloaded a simple Dr. Seuss font here and used it as I pleased!

From top to bottom.

Homemade rice krispie treats packaged to look like thing one and thing two. I wrapped them individually with wax paper then made a red tissue band with a cut out of either “thing one” or “thing two.” And with the help of my sister and her boyfriend, glued a generous little fluff of blue easter basket paper grass from a party supply store.

Small aqua pod water bottles wrapped with custom labels. And old fashioned popcorn boxes filled with kettle corn. I had originally wanted to pop my own kettle corn since the packaged kettle corn at groceries have partially hydrogenated fat, but fortunately my sister found packaged kettle corn at Trader Joe’s without any funky additives.

Coke bottles. Because really, why not?

Little bags with homemade cookies. The recipe I used is here.

Plum Organics banana and apple puree pouches decorated with pinwheels for our littler guests who don’t necessarily eat sugar yet. I roughly copied this post to make the pinwheels, except I glued on a piece of wrapping paper on one side.

Fishbowls with candy. The candy we had were peppermints, miniature chocolates rewrapped and some with quotes from books, my favorite was one from Happy Birthday to You, “a person’s a person, no matter how small,” white rabbit candies and striped lollipops.

I also made this super simple cutout using a science fair poster board and a giant photocopy of the image from The Cat in the Hat.

It was a pretty sweet little party and people really got into the theme which was so very cute. Not pictured: Gabriel’s super cute giveaway, audio cds with Dr. Seuss stories read by comedians. Find it on itunes here. All in all, Gabriel’s first birthday party was a smashing success and the poor little man fell asleep instantly and didn’t even wake up when I changed his diaper!

My friends are MEGA amazing, thank you to Kyo and Alexis, who spent an entire day crafting with me. Extra special thank you to Kyo who came early and threw on the ergo and set up the party while I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off. Also thank you to Mendie for the cakeS, my sister and Jeff who bailed on the Grammy’s to be at Gabriel’s first birthday party, Alli who also helped make the party look super smashing, my mom for getting so into it and of course Aidan, who put up with my insane nights of no sleep because I was crafting.

***edit.. I forgot to thank Andrea who came over to my house from MISSION FRIGGEN VIEJO at like ONE in the FRIGGEN morning to drop off some party platter that I just sat on and broke. Andrea, a new one from pottery barn is coming in the mail to you. I suck. But you should check out her blog, here. It is seriously GOOD reading material and insanely cute kids. We may have already begun to plan the wedding between her daughter and Gabriel.


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It’s been a rough week. I’ve been insanely exhausted and I’ve got a wisdom tooth growing in that is making me feel so much compassion for my Gabriel and also making me feel like I might go crazy. Despite all that, there’s been some really great events this week that have made me super happy!

A walk in Venice with the family. I was in desperate need of some outdoor time this week. It’s been raining and we’ve been indoors, which made me go a little stir crazy. We took a walk on Abbot Kinney and visited one of my favorite shops to visit, a store that is filled floor to ceiling with cake stands. Aidan bought my cake stand from here years ago, and it is still my favorite birthday present I’ve ever gotten.

Quality time with a good book. I finally got this book in the mail. I’ve been eating chocolate malt balls and reading it feverishly. Must.Figure.Out.How.To.Raise.Gabriel.Like.The.French.

Cherimoya fruit. It’s in season. It’s insanely special. Gabriel and I shared one after dinner. I told him a story about being a little girl and planting a cherimoya tree in the Philippines. I told him how a storm knocked it over, but we managed to save it by tying it with rope. I told him that the tree is still there and so is the rope that saved its life. He was very quiet and enjoyed every single bite.

A dinner at AOC with an old friend. This is my friend Alex. She was one of 6 girls I lived with during a semester in Italy. She came to visit me this bast weekend and we had a dinner date along with my sister.

This face. This picture. How is that my kid?


Have a great weekend all!

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I decided to try an experiment in baking. I wanted to make a breakfast muffin that I could hand over to Gabriel in the morning while I did some dishes, fed our dog and even maybe have breakfast myself! I wanted to create a recipe that substituted maple for sugar. They’re both sugars, yes, but maple syrup is usually unprocessed  thus preserving some beneficial minerals! Read about maple syrup here.
It isn’t as sweet as sugar, but in my opinion, twice as yummy. I also sweetened it with fresh organic blueberries, a fruit that is on the lower sugar content scale, but also super yummy. You can also use frozen organic blueberries, but it will turn your muffin purple… that might be fun though!


2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg (at room temperature)
3/4 cup maple syrup
1  1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup butter (equivalent to 1 stick)
1 cup organic blueberries


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda and salt. Set that aside.
Melt and brown the butter in a pan. Wait for this to cool down for a few minutes before continuing.
Mix together the butter, maple syrup and yogurt. Once this has mixed well together, add the egg and mix just until it is incorporated.
Add the dry ingredients slowly and when it has all been incorporated, fold the blueberries into the batter.
Scoop the batter into muffin tins and bake for 18-20 minutes. I got THREE of these muffin tins for Christmas! I LOVE it. Buy one for yourself here. You can freeze the muffins and defrost it overnight for breakfast the next day!

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