6.20.2018

Weekend Getaway to Paris


I have wanted to explore Paris solo ever since I was there with my family in 2013. We had a wonderful time, even pushing our two kiddos around in strollers, but it left me wanting more. Solo explorations are truly unique. They give you the opportunity to focus on yourself and discover things in a new light. My weekend trip to Paris this May was exactly that!

Originally, my plan was to spend my three-day getaway by myself. I had hopes to explore the city, enjoy quintessential Parisian cafes and document the city through my lens. After a couple days of solo travel, however, I realized that I wouldn’t mind some companionship. Thanks to my amazing cousins A and S, we were able to pull off a mini reunion while I was there. This gave me the best of both worlds! I spent half of my trip exploring the city and enjoying photographing on my own and the other half just hanging out with my cousins -- One was visiting from Germany and the other from India en route to Germany.


Cobblestone Streets of Montmartre

Solo wanderings in Montmartre

My personal agenda involved visiting Paris flea markets (Les Puces de Saint-Ouen), walking around Montmartre, taking in all the chic and unique of La Marais and visiting a residential neighborhood to get a feel of local life. 

My husband and I have never been a fan of guided tours. We’ve always enjoyed touring cities at our own pace and in our own, unstructured way. This time, since I was alone and had to make the most of my short stay, I decided to give guided tours a shot!

I started off with a tour of Montmartre on Friday evening. Old Montmartre is where the likes of Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso had their studios. It was the hot spot for jazz in Paris, and it was where the iconic (and my favorite) street photographer Henry-Cartier Bresson walked the cobblestoned streets with his Leica rangefinder. It was a no brainer to walk and experience Montmartre. It was also fun to learn the history of Moulin Rouge, Plaster of Paris and see some of the more popular tourist destinations like The Basilica, La Maison Rose etc.


    Meeting place for early 20th-century artists

La Maison Rose

    The Basilica of the Sacred Heart



Flea markets and antiques galore

Saint-Ouen Flea Market is only open on the weekends, so I headed there first thing Saturday morning! I booked the tour beforehand and enjoyed our tour guide, Sean, and the small group of four Canadians plus a couple from Minneapolis I was paired with.

Saint-Ouen Flea Market consists of several different markets which are known for their antique art and collectibles. Some of the ones we visited are Vernaison, Dauphine, Paul Bert and Serpette to name a few. I don’t remember the exact scene in the movie Midnight in Paris but I was told one of the scenes was shot at the Paul Bert market. I’ll have to watch the movie again!

After the tour, I decided to spend more time at the Vernaison market - specifically at a vintage poster shop. I was so excited and overwhelmed, I don’t even remember the name of the shop! My online research is telling me it might have been Poster Paul. They had a massive collection of original poster art (remember my collectible poster obsession from last summer?) and lithographs by some of the most famous artists - Alexander Calder, Picasso, Matisse, Miro etc. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I spent an hour browsing and walked away with an original Bernard Villemot Bally poster (You’ll get to see it in a future blog post once it’s framed and ready for display!)

If you ever happen to be in the area, leave some room in your schedule to listen to live Gypsy jazz at La Chope des Puces.






Local gems and authentic neighborhoods

A trip to Paris isn’t complete until one visits a residential neighborhood. When I visited Cite Florale, I was greeted by a parisian cat and kids playing hide-and-seek and kickball. A true local experience. It was a quiet and picturesque neighborhood. 


Cite Florale






It was now time to head back to La Marais, where I was staying, to relax with a cappuccino and a sweet treat! (Whenever I need an early evening pick-me-up while on vacation, I can never decide if it’s time for coffee or wine!) Once I felt revived, I explored fun stores and chic boutiques of bustling La Marais before it was time to get ready to meet my cousins for dinner!

Terres De Cafe

La Marais




I was glad that I was able to squeeze in pretty much everything I wanted to do in a day and a half! I saved the museums (and more) for when I get another chance to visit with my husband and girls. There is SO much to do in Paris, even a month may not be enough!

It was now time to put away my camera and enjoy Saturday night and Sunday just eating, drinking and relaxing by Seine with my cousins.

6.06.2018

Our Family Summer Bucket List


We’ve had a few pretty consistent warm days so I hope it’s safe to assume summer is right around the corner! There are two more weeks of school remaining and then it’s mommy camp for a few weeks! After a year of transactional morning and evening interactions with the girls - “finish your breakfast”, “hurry up, we are getting late”, “10 more minutes and it’s bath time” - I’m so done with having a set schedule. I don’t want to be totally loosey goosey, as I’m obviously not taking the entire summer off, but I want to play it by ear and enjoy some downtime with the girls. I may change my mind by mid-July (ha!) but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. 

We have no grand plans this summer, but if we can manage to keep ourselves safe and sane, I’ll consider it a job well done. : )

Last summer, I had my *then* almost 6-year-old make a list of 10 things she wanted to do in the summer. We were still working on spellings at the time but she, without any guidance, came up with the list below. I managed to find this cell phone picture of her summer bucket list.

So sweet and simple! In case you are wondering “nachere” is “nature”, and no, we don’t have a pool. She is referring to a plastic kiddie pool that we used a total of one time last summer when baby cousin was visiting. We managed to cross almost everything off the list and were feeling satisfied with our adventures by the end of the summer.

This year again, I asked the girls to come up with a list of things they want to do this summer. Instead of having them write it, I sat with them and typed it myself. This quickly became a family affair and we created a bucket list together. I’m hoping this list will help us appreciate the weather and embrace simplicity! 

1. Go camping
3. Fly a kite
4. Spend time at the park
5. Go Sailing
6. Grill outside
7. Go strawberry and peach picking
8. Shop at a farmers market
10. Grow Flowers

Last year’s morning glory planted by the girls.

11. Enjoy long walks in Boston
12. Have a beach day (or two)
13. Go to Canobie Lake Park
14. Go on a mini hike
15. Eat ice cream from an ice cream truck
16. Play hopscotch/backyard games
17. Go family golfing/driving range
18. Make a lemonade stand
19. Go on a mini road trip
20. Go canoeing

The list could go on and on but we’re capping it at 20. These activities will act as a general guideline to fill our days mindfully. Do you believe in seasonal bucket lists? What are some of your favorite summer activities?

5.30.2018

Tiptoe through the tulips: Tulip picking adventure


Remember last year’s visit to the Wicked Tulips Farm? We did it again this year! The tulips arrived a little late this year because of a prolonged winter. I had been waiting for a couple of weeks for the tickets to go on sale and I snagged them the minute they finally went on sale. It was a perfect day to be outside - not too hot, a little cloudy, and just the right amount of breeze. It’s such a pleasant and relaxing feeling to be surrounded by beautiful and colorful tulips. The girls had fun picking their favorite flowers and running around the farm.


There was a ‘picking area’ for picking and a ‘show garden’ just for viewing. The girls spent a long time at the show garden checking out different colors and varieties of tulips -- Grand Perfection, Mary Ann, Fringed Mix, Pretty Princess, and Blushing Lady to name a few.


Our little budding photographer carried her camera (it’s real BTW) and enjoyed taking pictures.


There were picnic tables by the farm -- we had brought some cheese and berries to enjoy after picking. It was a short and sweet couple hours spent at the farm but we enjoyed the tulips we brought back home for another couple of weeks. Tulip watching is one of my favorite spring-time activities, and I’m glad we got a chance to visit again this year!



Is tulip whispering a thing!? She looks like she knows what she is doing : )

5.23.2018

Art Prints for Kids' Rooms


Collecting artwork for kids’ rooms is so special. I really enjoy finding unique pieces that inspire storytelling and creative thinking. Surrounding my girls with engaging yet playful artwork has not only livened up their bedroom but has also given their imaginations a chance to wander.

I selected these five pieces to share with you today! They don’t necessarily belong together in a gallery wall, but could potentially work well together with a little reshuffling. One of the greatest things about artwork as decor is you can easily switch it up over time, especially once your little ones start having more of their own preferences.

I love these whimsical pieces - so full of life and energy! I also love that they are playful and colorful without being too cutesy. This makes them young enough for the kids but aren’t too specific so the kids won’t outgrow these prints quickly.

Mix and match and make collecting art a fun activity with your kids and don’t be afraid to change things up! It’s a wonderful feeling to create a space filled with art that both you and your children can enjoy together.


5.14.2018

Boston Public Garden in Springtime



I have been photographing Mother’s Day Mini Sessions at the Boston Public Garden since past three years. The weather starts to warm up by the end of April and spring is at its best so it’s always fun being outside and capturing some smiles. In between these sessions, I love sneaking some pictures of the garden on its own.  I have hundreds of photos of the Boston Public Garden but I still enjoy photographing it every year in every season. Enjoy some of my favorites from this year’s spring -- it’s lush and gorgeous all around.



Raise your hands if you love spring as much as we do : )

5.09.2018

Children's Fashion Blog: Mix and Match summer styles


The sweet smell of summertime is finally in the air! We love adding new styles to our closets as the seasons change. These minimalistic yet funkily-designed pieces create the perfect balance for a unique look. Their cooler tones allow you to pair different articles together interchangeably, making it easier to dress your kiddos in the mornings. We love the bird prints that seem to be popping up this season and of course you can't go wrong with classic stripes. Which ones are your favorite?

Green Swallows Tee
Off-White & Navy Dots Sweater
Blue Flamingo Sweatshirt
Blue Print Long Skirt
Pink Bird Top
Green Stripe Walking Lady Tee
Checked Shirt Dress
Blue and White Striped Top
Rose Cloud Shorts

5.08.2018

25 Things To Do With Your Kids in NYC

High Line Summer 2016

I always see parents on social media asking for recommendations about what to do with their kiddos when they visit New York City. Of course, this is a very broad topic and there are a ton of variables -- kids’ ages, personal interests, weather, proximity, number of days in the city, etc. There is no one size fits all but I’m excited to share with you some of the activities my family has enjoyed!

My personal top choices would probably be limited to museums, theatres, parks and activities that involve walking around and exploring the city. But at the same time, we are always open to ideas and having off the beaten path adventures. And now that the girls are getting older, they are starting to express their own preferences more often. That’s the beautiful thing about visiting the city - the options are endless!

Below I’ve shared twenty-five engaging and beloved NYC activities - many are popular recommendations amongst my friends and family. We have personally only explored a handful of these, but you’ll be able to choose what’s best for you and your family based on your personal preferences!

Museums
  • Museum of Natural History
  • Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
  • Guggenheim Museum
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Children's Museum of Art (CMA)
  • Children’s Museum of Manhattan
  • National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath)
  • New York Transit Museum
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Theatre/Shows/Exhibits
Bookstores
Other Attractions
  • United Nations (UN Kids Tour)
  • Central Park: Lots to-do in Central Park -- Marionette Puppet Theatre, Belvedere Castle, Balto Statue, Zoo, Model Boat Sailing, and just good old picnics and park time!
  • Sea Glass Carousel at the Battery Conservancy
  • Bronx Zoo
  • High Line and Chelsea (Chelsea Market, art galleries, parks - We once had a great time at the Clement Clarke Moore Playground that we randomly discovered while in Chelsea)
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park (Pier 6, Carousel) or just a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
  • New York Botanical Garden
  • Bryant Park Le Carrousel
  • Most obvious: Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island, Empire State Building, Freedom Tower, Times Square, Rockefeller Center
There’s something in there for all age groups and interests - history buffs, art connoisseurs, innovation and adventure seekers, book lovers and more. While it can be in the best interest of everyone to have a general outline for the day, sometimes it’s equally as fun to not have an agenda.Walking around the city, exploring residential neighborhoods, Chinatown and other areas can lead to even better memories made. See where the day takes you, keep a positive attitude and just go with the flow!

Do you know any other kid-friendly, offbeat activities in New York City? Please do share as we’d love to know!

5.03.2018

print mixing like a pro


That feeling when you see two separate pieces of clothing and you just know that they just belong together! Mixing this girly floral top with printed shorts creates such a fun, unique look. Print on print with contrasting colors that totally work together. This outfit is so my older daughter N's personality.

What's your take on print mixing? As you know, we are huge fans here!

Floral Ruffled Top
Print Shorts

5.02.2018

Here comes the sun


Feels like summer this afternoon. After a stressful morning getting the girls out of the door and then being glued to the computer getting some website updates and edits done, I finally stepped outside on the balcony for some fresh air. One hour later and I’m still here. I unfolded the balcony table, spread a clean tablecloth, and ate lunch outside. The birds are chirping, there’s a light breeze and, suddenly, everything feels all right. I’m about to make my afternoon tea and sit quietly for 10 minutes before it’s time to pick up my older one. Just wanted to write a quick note about how amazing it feels to finally have some great weather after a long, hard winter.


I can’t help but quote lyrics from Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles:

"Here comes the sun (doo doo doo doo)

Here comes the sun, and I say

It's all right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter

Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here

Here comes the sun

Here comes the sun, and I say

It's all right"

5.01.2018

5 Beautifully Illustrated Kids Books to Cultivate Creativity and Cultural Curiosity


We love introducing the girls to beautifully illustrated books that tell inspiring stories and get their young minds curious about art and different cultures. I’m excited to share five books we’ve read and enjoyed in the past few months. Each book is either based in or starts off in a different country - Japan, France, China, Italy, London. This collection is a combination of gifts from friends, recommendations and our own selections. Enjoy!

We picked up From Here to Infinity this past Saturday in honor of Independent Bookstore Day from our neighborhood bookstore. It’s one of my little dreams to be able to view Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit one day. I was so close to making it a reality this past November at David Zwirner gallery in New York, but ultimately it didn’t work out. We couldn't get to the gallery first thing in the morning and there was a more than three hour wait (which was expected but worth a try!) that I couldn't have pulled off with the girls. When I saw this beautiful, colorful book at the bookstore, I just HAD to buy it.

This book tells of  Yayoi’s life in Japan and discusses her love for art beginning at a very young age. Her art education took her to NYC where she had her first show. Since then, her art and her dots have traveled the world with her. My 5-year-old especially loved pointing out the different colors and patterns and had a great time reading with me.


Cloth Lullaby is about Louise Bourgeois, a famous artist, and the relationship she has with her mother. Louise started her career as an apprentice to her mother in their family tapestry business before she branched out on her own. Her childhood memories play a critical role as she creates some of her most famous works. The colors and illustrations are absolutely stunning! What hit home the most is the concept of how wonderful memories woven into us as kids have such a lasting impact. I hope some experiences we share with our girls inspire them as they grow up!


In Ruby’s Chinese New Year, animals from the Chinese zodiac help Ruby deliver a gift to her  grandmother. Having lived in Boston Chinatown for more than five years, and raising two girls there, our family gained a deeper appreciation for Chinese culture. We find it similar to Indian culture in a lot of ways even though it has its own nuances and folk tales. Our daughters have also been learning Mandarin since they were babies and have participated in Chinese New Year performances every year since they were toddlers! However, none of us knew much about the Chinese zodiac. It was fascinating to read this book with the girls. They had so much fun discussing the animals that corresponded to our birth years. “I’m Year of the Snake! Hissss” “Mama, you are Year of the Monkey!”


The Music of Life is a story of the invention of one of the world’s most popular instruments: the piano. I had never heard this tale before so it was nice to read about the piano’s history and experience it first-hand with the girls. It takes a couple of pages to fully get into the book but it gets more interesting as you go along.

The illustrations are vibrant and engaging. We especially loved how Cristofori used science and his creativity to make an instrument that makes the perfect blend of soft and loud sounds. There are a few Italian words throughout the book. It was fun reading those words out loud and to relive some of the Italian words we had learned on our trip to Italy last summer. Fortissimo!


Clara Button and the Magical Hat Day is about a little girl Clara Button and her excursion to the Victoria & Albert Museum with her mother and brother. A book full of imagination and Clara Button’s love of hats. We learned a thing or two about the museum’s artworks: Tipu’s Tiger and Chihuly Chandelier to name a couple. We even wondered about some of the Indian artifacts on display at the V&A acquired from India at the time of the British rule. My cousin, an artist in residence at the museum last fall, recommended this book to us and we are thankful she did! We really enjoyed reading it together and picturing the various hats.


What are some of your favorite children’s books that dive into other cultures?