not-just-a-dot

September 16, 2014
by Alexis Barad-Cutler
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Awesome Book Alert: Not Just a Dot, by Loryn Brantz

We are really psyched about this new book that just launched, NOT JUST A DOT (by Loryn Brantz). It’s an interactive story about a dot who is feeling a little down in the dumps and a little unappreciated because of his small stature. But with the reader’s help, he soon learns that dots are a pretty big deal: for example, how would a little girl be able to ask for an ice cream cone without a dot to complete her question mark? And how could a Dalmation be a Dalmation without all of his spots? With witty text and expressive and fun illustrations,  NOT JUST A DOT engages readers of all ages and helps teach them about confidence and finding value in seemingly small things. Brunch With My Baby thought this story was really cool, so we figured that the author and illustrator behind it must be, too. We were right! Loryn is a two-time Emmy Award-winning illustrator and award-winning children’s book author (for her picture book, HARVEY THE CHILD MIME). So we snagged her for a little Q and A in between her busy schedule of book readings to find out more about her background and the origin of NOT JUST A DOT. Read on!
not-just-a-dot
I read that you have a background in puppetry and even worked for Jim Henson Studios. How did you get into that? Any memorable anecdotes you can share about designing for the man behind Kermit The Frog? I once had the opportunity to visit the studio and remember it being mind-blowingly cool: all the fabric for the monsters, the tiny felt parts for their faces; it was so interesting to see the characters deconstructed. I think our readers would love to hear about what it was like working there. 
 
Like many people, I always loved the muppets. It had never actually dawned on me that making them or making the objects they hold was even a job though. It seemed too good to be true! But during my senior year of college, someone told me that she had interned at The Jim Henson Company. Right after hearing that, I ran directly to the student services office and found out how to get in there! I ended up interning there for a year before landing a job with the company. My favorite part of the studio is the prop section for sure. It involves rows and rows of drawers labeled with their unique contents, ie: cookies, rubber chickens, toys, musical instruments, and so on. It’s like shopping through a whimsical imaginary puppet general store. Henson’s was great because of its legacy: for something like Sesame Street, having known the characters that I was creating props for since childhood, and knowing how far of a reach my work was going to have, was an amazing feeling.
 
That said, since working there I’ve had the pleasure of working at some of the other puppet shops in NYC and there’s some really great new cutting-edge puppetry coming out of them! For example, right now I’m working on painting puppets for Puppet Kitchen Productions, who are creating brilliant puppets based on the illustrations and stories of Eric Carle for the Sydney Festival in January. They’re really bringing the painted flat paper styles to life in large scale, which is really exciting to be a part of.
 
Speaking of the Puppet Kitchen, this may be of interest to you and many of your readers; they offer really fun puppet making classes for children and adults ages 10+ here in NYC. You can learn more about it here: http://puppetkitchen.com/ourworkshops/wshopfaq/.
 
When did you start illustrating, or was that a lifelong passion?
 
Very much a lifelong passion. I drew before I could talk or walk. Actually to this day I draw better than I walk or talk! I’ve also always loved telling stories; my original plans were to go into animation to marry drawing and storytelling but once I started doing books I fell in love with their timelessness . . . and papery scent (TMI?).
 
How did you come up with the idea for Not Just a Dot? Was this character someone that you’ve been thinking about for a while and you just hadn’t found his story quite yet?
 
NOT JUST A DOT evolved from several different ideas. It was originally a book about my nephew, Leo, who was quite small when I thought of it (as he had just been born), but of course very important! Then as I was writing it, to make the story make sense I had to write him as feeling unimportant in the beginning, which I didn’t feel comfortable with. I still wanted to do the story though, so I thought about what was really small: an ant, a particle of dust, a dot! From there it was very fun to think about all the ways in which a dot is useful and important. I also knew I wanted the book to touch on the idea of perspective, so the ending came naturally from there.
 
What is your inspiration when writing for children? Are you close with certain children in your family, or friends’ kids? Have you always identified with this young audience? As a fellow children’s book writer and having worked in the children’s publishing industry, I find it more challenging to tap into my children’s book writing voice now that I actually have kids of my own!
 
I’m lucky to be close to a handful of beautiful babies! But really I’ve just stayed very in touch with my own inner child, which is where I draw from a lot. Probably in part because of my line of work and also going to school for animation, but I still love cartoons, puppets, candy, balloons etc. So when I write ‘for children’ I often just think about what I like! 
 
I could definitely see it being harder after having kids! Because then you become even more ‘the adult’ and probably loose touch a little with that inner child. Who has time to think about balloons when you’re busy shaping and nourishing another human life! I’m sure I’ll find it harder after having kids as well.
How have children responded to the book so far? Any particular illustrations that they are drawn to, or questions that come up when you’re reading it to them? Sometimes I find that a child reading one of my books will ask a question about it that I hadn’t even considered, or point out something I just hadn’t thought about before. Children tend to see things in a very unique light.
 
Children seem to be enjoying it, which is definitely the most satisfying part of creating a children’s book. There is no better feeling than seeing your work make a kid smile. Friends have told me that their children like the page with the ice-cream the most, which happens to be my favorite part as well :)
 Look for NOT JUS T A DOT, out in stores now. You can read more about the book here, and watch this cute little trailer for it, here.
Author photo courtesy of Brittany Bartley.
Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

September 14, 2014
by Christine Knight
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Where To Eat And Play In Brisbane With Kids

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com While I spent a lot of my childhood summers on the Gold Coast, I’d never visited Brisbane. Absolutely no reason why, other than that the opportunity hadn’t presented itself until recently. After a blogging conference on the Gold Coast, I stopped through Brisbane on the way back to Sydney and spent two days exploring the best that Brisbane has to offer families. If you’re planning a trip to the Sunshine state, you could easily spend a couple of days enjoying Brisbane with the kids. Here are my tips on a fun family holiday in Brisbane: Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com Eat and play at Gasworks Plaza
Book a table at Buzz for lunch right next to the gasring. You’ll enjoy the delicious food (the quinoa salad was divine) and gorgeous interiors by local designer Anna Spiro of Black & Spiro, and the kids can run off steam in the adjoining park. Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

After lunch, take a stroll down to the nearby riverbank. Kids can bike or scoot along the river, and will enjoy the street art and statue of Gloria the sheep, a tribute to the Teneriffe wool stores that lined the river in the early 1900s.
76 Skyring Terrace, Newstead

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com Shop at Growing World, Emporium
This gorgeous children’s store is filled with educational toys and books from all around the world.
1000 Ann St, Fortitude Valley

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com Rock out at the Brisbane Powerhouse
The redeveloped powerhouse is a centre for art and culture. Check out the (often free) events for families, or just drop by on a Sunday to experience live music and markets (the pop-up Suitcase Rummage markets are on once a month).

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Kids can roam inside the powerhouse, spot some cool graffiti art and dance to indie-pop and rock bands. Make a day of it by enjoying an early dinner or glass of wine at Bar Alto. Grab a balcony table overlooking the river while babies are napping and older kids are playing with your iPhone or colouring in.
119 Lamington St, New Farm

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Run wild at New Farm Park
Set the kids free in 18 hectares of gardens and open green space. The attached New Farm Park playground is a local family favourite with fortress-like constructions winding through huge fig trees.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com
No-fuss family dinner at Eat Street Markets
The perfect dinner option for families with no pressure for kids to sit down and behave. 60 industrial shipping containers have been converted into mini shops and restaurants. Choose your meal from local food vendors (Italian, Mexican, potato rings on sticks, sweet potatoes fries and much, much more is on offer) then camp out on astroturf covered giant blocks to enjoy live music while the sun goes down.
Macarthur Avenue, Hamilton

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com
Book a free city tour with Brisbane Greeters
Our tour guide, AnneMarie White, was a local expert who showed us the best places to eat and shop in the James Street district with and without kids. A remarkable woman with a background in broadcasting, it was a pleasure to learn about Brisbane through her own experiences.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com
Chic shopping and dining at James St
Leave the kids with Dad for an hour or two while you check out local Australian designers and boutiques. Sass + Bide, Camilla, Zimmermann and more await your credit card.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com
Feeling peckish? Harvey’s Bar and Bistro is a great breakfast and lunch choice with or without kids.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com
If you’ve got a serious sweet tooth like I do, be sure to pick up a treat from the iconic Joceyln’s Provisions. While you’re deciding which delicious cake to order, poke your head inside their kitchen to see the pastry chefs hard at work.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com
Play time: South Bank Parklands
As well as being the cultural centre of Brisbane, the South Bank is filled with family-focussed entertainment.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com
Get arty at the QAGOMA
The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art is a top choice for adults and children. Most of the gallery is free entry, including the Children’s Art Centre. Their current major exhibition, “Harvest” (open till Sept 21) celebrates food in art and includes interactive features for older children, as well as kid-friendly art such as large sculptures and a Shangai supermarket installation.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Take littlies to the children’s exhibition, “Pattern Bandits” (open until Nov 2), where they can explore a world of colour, shape and pattern in a completely hands-on environment. The free exhibition features craft activities that can be taken home or left to be put on display. Kids will particularly love the kaleidoscope corridor where they can see their own faces turned into bright patterns.
Stanley Place, Cultural Precinct, South Bank

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Segway Tours with X-wing
Older kids will love seeing Brisbane’s South Bank on a mini-segway. Zoom along the river bank with a helpful guide to tell you all about Brisbane.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Get a bird’s-eye view
Take a spin on the Wheel of Brisbane for a panoramic view of the city.

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Streets Beach
This man-made beach with white sand and lifesavers is a summer oasis on the Brisbane river shore. It’s perfect for families, with shallow lagoons, sprinklers and crystal clear water.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Stop for a bite at South Bank Surf Club
After a swim at Streets Beach, stroll the the nearby Surf Club for a relaxed fish and chips.
30aa Stanley Street Plaza, South Bank

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via brunchwithmybaby.com
Sweet Treats at Cowch Dessert Cocktail Bar
Brisbane’s first dessert and cocktail bar offers build your own fro-yo, ice cream and a range of other sugar-coma inducing desserts.
2/179 Grey Street, South Bank

Essex #kidfriendly #restaurant @lowereastside #nyc via brunchwithmybaby.com

September 7, 2014
by Christine Knight
0 comments

Essex: Where Brunch Includes 3 Cocktails; LES, New York

Essex #kidfriendly #restaurant @lowereastside #nyc via brunchwithmybaby.com

When wanting to book a large table in NYC, your options are limited. For a friend’s birthday with a party of nine, we tried out Essex, a restaurant on the Lower East side with a modern, chic design, lots of natural light and a great value-for-money brunch menu.

The brunch menu is a fixed price, $23.95 for your entree plus three bloody marys, screwdrivers or mimosas. They’re quite liberal with the drinks, particularly mimosas, and several members of our party think they actually ended up with four each. The drinks aren’t super strong, which is good when you’re drinking that many cocktails at noon …

We were seated at our table even though we were waiting on the last two guests. The restaurant quickly filled up — clearly word has gotten around that this is a good brunch bet.

While there wasn’t a kids’ menu, we ordered sides off the menu for Missy E (French Fries and Fresh Fruit) straight away while everyone else decided on their order. Her dishes arrived quickly — two generous servings which we helped her with.

Essex #kidfriendly #restaurant @lowereastside #nyc via brunchwithmybaby.com

 

Our party ordered a variety of dishes: Challah French Toast (bananas foster sauce, fresh fruit), Baked Eggs (crisp black forest ham, roasted peppers, shitake mushrooms, Monterey jack), Omelet (spinach, tomato, sheep’s milk cheese with mixed green salad and home fries), Short Rib Hash (two eggs any style, duck fat potatoes), Grilled Shrimp & Avocado Salad (poached egg, baby spinach, pico de gallo).

Essex #kidfriendly #restaurant @lowereastside #nyc via brunchwithmybaby.com

Essex #kidfriendly #restaurant @lowereastside #nyc via brunchwithmybaby.com

Essex #kidfriendly #restaurant @lowereastside #nyc via brunchwithmybaby.com

Essex #kidfriendly #restaurant @lowereastside #nyc via brunchwithmybaby.com

Essex #kidfriendly #restaurant @lowereastside #nyc via brunchwithmybaby.com

 

The meals were all a great portion size, with generous amounts of fresh ingredients. My omelet was delicious, filled with tasty cheese and tomatoes, and slightly spicy home fries. The French toast “tastes better than it looks!”, and the baked eggs xxxx.

Our server wove in and out of diners with a large jug of mimosas, topping up glasses as soon as they were empty.

Last bite: A great brunch spot for large groups, especially those wanting mimosas with their eggs.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes (folding strollers are best).
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.

Essex
120 Essex St,
New York, NY
Phone: (212) 533 9616
Prices: $$
Hours: Mon-Sat 9am-8pm Sun 10am-6pm
Get Directions
Reservations

#Pancakes at Clinton St. Baking Company #LES #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

September 7, 2014
by Christine Knight
0 comments

Chocolate Chunk Pancakes at Clinton St. Baking Company, LES, New York

#Pancakes at Clinton St. Baking Company #LES #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

When you want good pancakes in New York City, it’s a well-known fact that you head to Clinton St. Baking Company. The bakery and restaurant was opened in 2001 by husband and wife team Neil Kleinberg and DeDe Lahman, with a mission to make the best baked goods in the city, hand-mixed in small batches.

Fast forward to 2014 and the once tiny bakery is now a bustling restaurant, with their pancakes awarded the title of “the best in the city” (twice!) by New York Magazine. Clinton St. Baking Co. is such a popular breakfast and lunch spot that if you turn up for brunch on a weekend, you’ll often find yourself facing an up to TWO HOUR wait. They have the waiting system down to a fine art, and even have a page on their site devoted to “the wait“.

#Pancakes at Clinton St. Baking Company #LES #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

Don’t let this dissuade you from going, however. To avoid a wait on weekends, your best bet is to arrive by 8:30am and put in your name for the first seating at 9am. To avoid a long wait in general, visit during the week or at night when the waits are shorter, if at all. Don’t worry — they serve breakfast during the dinner hour. We visited on a weekday at 8am. The restaurant was full by 8:30am, but the wait outside was pretty short, with most diners not having to wait too long for a table. If you find yourself waiting for a table, the surrounding streets have some really cool graffiti/street art that’s worth checking out.

#Pancakes at Clinton St. Baking Company #LES #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

#Pancakes at Clinton St. Baking Company #LES #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

Since Alec had to get to work, we ordered and ate as quickly as we could. I ordered the Pancakes with Warm Maple Butter (choice of wild Maine blueberry, banana walnut, or chocolate chunk pancakes, $14) and Alec ordered the Southern Breakfast  (two eggs any style, sugar-cured bacon, cheese grits, and fried green tomatoes, $14). We also ordered a side of sourdough toast for Missy E ($2), which arrived with Vermont butter and the most amazing raspberry conserves I’ve ever tasted. As well as the toast, E shared my pancakes when they arrived — the novelty of chocolate for breakfast was just too exciting for her to handle.

#Pancakes at Clinton St. Baking Company #LES #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

#Pancakes at Clinton St. Baking Company #LES #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

My pancakes were fantastic. I chose chocolate chunks, and my three big fluffy pancakes were absolutely chockfull of the chocolate. The pancakes were warm and the butter atop them was slightly melting. I really enjoyed their warm maple butter instead of maple syrup as it wasn’t anywhere near as sickeningly sweet. Alec’s southern breakfast was a bit on the dry side — he would have preferred some kind of sauce to go with it. He did, however, thoroughly enjoy the cheese grits and fried green tomatoes — both novelties to an Aussie.

#Pancakes at Clinton St. Baking Company #LES #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

#Pancakes at Clinton St. Baking Company #LES #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

 

So are they the best pancakes in New York? I’m afraid I can’t say as I don’t really eat pancakes often enough to be able to rank them! I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed mine and would absolutely go back for more.

Last bite: How can you resist trying some of NYC’s best pancakes? Be prepared for the wait and you’ll enjoy a really great breakfast.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: No.
Easy access: Yes
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.

Clinton St Baking Co & Restaurant
4 Clinton St.
New York, NY
Phone: (646) 602 6263
Prices: $
Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, 4pm-5pm (pastries/ coffee to go only), dinner 6pm to 11pm; Sat 8am-9am (pastry & coffee to go only), 9am-4pm, dinner 6pm-11pm; Sun 8am-9am (pastry & coffee to go only), 9am-6pm.
Get Directions

Top 5 Sweet Spots on the #UES #NYC via brunchwithmybaby.com

September 7, 2014
by Christine Knight
0 comments

Top 5 Sweet Spots on the Upper East Side

When your sweet tooth is a-calling, the Upper East Side is the place to go. Within a few blocks of each other lies a cornucopia of sugary heavens. How’s a sleep-deprived mom to choose?

Dylan's Candy Bar; Top 5 Sweet Spots on the #UES via brunchwithmybaby.com

Dylan’s Candy Bar
Created in 2001 by Dylan Lauren (of the Ralph Lauren family) Dylan’s Candy Bar is the place to go for a serious sugar high. Choose from 7,000 candy treats in the store, then lounge upstairs in a cupcake booth at the Candy Cafe to enjoy lunch or a snack, and perhaps a candy cocktail.
1011 3rd Ave, New York, NY

Baked By Melissa; Top 5 Sweet Spots on the #UES via brunchwithmybaby.com

Baked By Melissa
These mini cupcakes were made with tiny hands in mind! At $1 for each little cupcake, it’s the perfect sized treat when you don’t want the day to get too sugary. Our favorite flavor is the Choc Chip Pancake (totally breakfast food, right?).
784 Lexington Avenue at 61st Street New York NY

Two Little Red Hens; Top 5 Sweet Spots on the #UES via brunchwithmybaby.com

Two Little Red Hens
How can you pass up what’s often called the best red velvet cupcake in the city? The cupcakes come in regular and mini sizes, so you can sample several if you’re not set on one flavor.
1652 2nd Ave, New York, NY

Sprinkles; Top 5 Sweet Spots on the #UES via brunchwithmybaby.com

Sprinkles Cupcakes
If you’re on the go, grab your cupcake from the Sprinkles ATM out the front. We prefer to sit down inside to enjoy our cupcakes – the cupcake-inspired interior and ottomans are a huge hit with kids. Know before you go: Check out their rotating seasonal menu so you visit on the day when your favorite flavors are being served.
780 Lexington Ave, New York, NY

IT'SUGAR; Top 5 Sweet Spots on the #UES via brunchwithmybaby.com

IT’SUGAR
This candy chain store recently opened its doors on the Upper East Side. IT’SUGAR focuses on the fun of candy, from giant 5LB Hershey bars to the World’s Largest Gummy Bear (they recommend sharing this cub, and so do we!)
1542 3rd Ave New York NY
IT’SUGAR Image via Jia J. Yelp.com