An epic day at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

A trip to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum can make one feel ignited with exciting possibilities. The museum is a beautiful and harmonious blend of both the past and the present, with its contemporary new wing tastefully complementing the Venetian-inspired historic building.  

Back in July, the girls and I had an epic day at the museum. I hadn’t visited it since 2009 so, needless to say, I was psyched to be back and to bring the girls for their first time. The museum was bustling with groups of summer camp kids in their vibrant t-shirts and families visiting to take advantage of Highland Street Foundation’s Free Fun Fridays. Treasure hunts, martial arts performances, art activities, mini concerts -- every nook had something exciting to offer.

We started the afternoon with pizza and salad for lunch at the beautiful Cafe’ G, then began exploring one activity after another. The girls were in good spirits after a full belly and were ready to participate in hands-on, interactive art activities. (My photo coverage wasn't quite comprehensive and hence sharing only select photos).

My favorite part of the visit was enjoying the view of the resplendent courtyard and listening to live music. Although, attending a 20-minute talk on the history of Isabella Gardner herself and the beginnings of the museum was quite intriguing. It was fun to hear stories of how she acquired some of her first paintings. Stories of her travels, love, heartbreak, inheritance, art collection -- a tale not just to be told but to be seen, experienced, and felt by all visitors. She was a true visionary with an impeccable taste!

We didn’t get a chance to explore the entire museum, but would love to come back to gradually soak in the art, grandeur, and the amazing vibe of a place that's truly a respite from everyday, hectic life.


Kids fashion blog: Perfect fall back to school look

The changing New England weather keeps reminding my girls that it's almost time to head back to school! This mix and match outfit could be the perfect first day of school outfit. Pairing checked blouse with fun ruffles and a patterned skirt is a fun twist on a traditional look. Your girls will feel stylish and eager to take on this new year with their friends! What are some of your kids' favorite looks for this fall?

Checked Blouse
Printed Skirt


A trip to the farmers market with kids

One of the items on our summer bucket list was to shop at a farmers market. I love the healthy, colorful vibes and fresh local produce at a farmers market. Visiting one is a perfect way to enjoy a summer afternoon!

We took a trip to the Copley Square Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago. It was a beautiful sunny day and the girls were ready to explore. It was a treat to watch them interact with local farmers, learn about different crops for various seasons and have them try new foods. I’m not a big fan of grocery shopping, but picking out produce and other items together at a market makes it fun and easy to plan a meal together, too. Especially buying something new and figuring out how to make it later.

I asked each of the girls to pick out one fruit and veggie on their own. The farmers let them sample some fruits and the girls decided to buy currants and gooseberries. For veggies, they chose baby bok choy and kale. After I gave them $20 to pay for the produce, I stood back and smiled as I watched the entire interaction. My oldest did the math and counted the change back, making sure it was correct. It was a bittersweet yet impressive moment watching them gain this confidence and independence.

One more item checked off the bucket list and more memories made! I recommend everyone takes time to experience a bustling farmers market. Sometimes you’ll be treated to live music or stumbleupon unique vendors, too!

If you’ve been with the kids before, I’d love to hear your stories! What do you and your kids love the most about farmers market?


You're never too young to start an art collection

Remember my blog post back in January regarding beginning an art collection for kids? I promised to share some ideas to accomplish the same so here we go. 

My older daughter turned 7 in July. Instead of having a birthday party this year, we decided to take her camping on her birthday weekend. She was very excited with the idea! While we were at CVS a day before her birthday, buying some camping-related supplies, she asked for a misting fan spray bottle to ‘keep her cool’ in the summertime and two bottles of nail polish. That quickly turned into a ‘tangible’ birthday gift for her, and $15 later, she was happy as a clam. Kids are so simple!

Even though she loved her simple gift, I wanted to ‘invest’ in a special long-term present that she could cherish for years to come. I found the perfect types of artwork to buy for her when I was on a solo adventure in Palm Springs in March. I was browsing at Barba Contemporary Art and particularly liked the work of artist Sorin Bica, who happens to be Boston-based. Woot! While chatting with the gallery owner Michael, I discovered little 4x6 oils on canvas by Bica and I instantly knew I wanted to get those for my daughter.

I didn’t end up buying the pieces right away, though. I waited until closer to her birthday and had the gallery email me their seven 4x6 oils on canvas options. I then had my daughter pick her two favorites (featured here).

At first, she was all lukewarm about the whole “art buying” experience and for obvious reasons. What 7 year-old would be thrilled about an uncommon long-term birthday gift? But I strongly believe an early exposure to art (in any way that works) can help open up a world of imagination and exploration, and as a mom, I try and do my part in small doses. 

I finally got these pieces back from the framer this past week, and she was surprisingly excited to open up the packaging and appreciate them. 

We have yet to decide where these paintings will hang. Perhaps in the girls’ bedroom? I hope as they grow older they appreciate these unique birthday gifts and develop their own taste in art. For now, we can enjoy these works of art together.


Family Lifestyle Blog: Breakfast on Board

Breakfast has always been the most important meal of the day for both my daughters since they were babies. Even now that they are 7 and 5.5, a quick bowl of cereal before dashing to school just doesn’t cut it for them. 

The school lunches I pack are always a hit or a miss. I often struggle with having a variety of lunch options - send me your recommendations please! So it’s important that I have substantial breakfast options. The girls were getting bored of the usual - cereal, oatmeal, eggs, waffles, pancakes, parfaits so I had to take things up a notch.

I love creating cheese and charcuterie boards, so naturally I had the idea to make a brunch board! I came across this bagel board while searching and this provided a solid starting point for creating this board for the girls. It’s fun to have a variety of options you can enjoy, right?

Bagels, cream cheese, salmon, marmalade, avocado, almond butter, boiled eggs, berries and greens are what I chose. It may seem elaborate but if you have groceries on hand, it’s really easy to put together and so filling! I surprised my hungry little humans earlier this week with this and they wiped it clean. I asked them to try a little bit of everything so it was less overwhelming. My oldest  had me toast her bagel and made a little bagel, cream cheese, salmon and avocado sandwich. “Mommy, have capers next time please,” she said. And my youngest stuck with a bagel, almond butter, boiled eggs and tried some salmon.

It was a fun brunch experiment overall! It’s not practical for rushed school mornings on a regular basis, but I can see myself trying different variations of this on slow weekend mornings. It’s a treat to enjoy delicious food together and I’m grateful my girls are so open-minded when it comes to trying new things.

What are your family's go-to breakfast/brunch options?


My thoughts on adopting the “good-enough” mindset

It’s been a very eventful past month! Lots of family adventures and soaking up summer fun with my girls. As we entered the month of August, back-to-school mode began to set in. My work and social calendar for fall are quickly starting to fill up and it’s clear summer is on its way out. I feel like I need to reset my mental compass!

As I sat down to plan out the upcoming months, I realized the massive amount of backlog I have waiting to be tackled. Uploading two years worth of photography work online (to reap the benefits of marketing and SEO), for starters. The point is how did I even let that much work accumulate? Procrastination while falsely striving for ‘aesthetic’ perfection -- uploading the finest images, writing that perfect blog post, making that killer portfolio and having unreasonably high standards of excellence is nothing but detrimental to productivity and in turn, progress.

I’ve become accustomed to juggling the kids’ schedule and tending to the absolute necessary to-dos (starting from client communication to delivering the final product). Showcasing my work and featuring it online has taken a back seat. I always wait for that ‘down day’ to devote to sharing my professional work online and honestly, that day will never arrive. Anyone else familiar with that feeling?

I do not believe one has to compromise their quality of work, especially being in a visually-driven creative field. However, I’ve found efficiency trumps everything else. I’m learning to accept a “good-enough” attitude in order to get chic done! It’s a tedious process, but trusting my work and sharing it without expecting perfection will reap better results.

Two years worth of joyful photography (giggling kiddos, gorgeous products and happy couples) deserve to be showcased, to just be put out there. Viewers’ perception of perfection is beyond us anyways, right?


Travel with Kids: Family Spring Break in Charleston, SC

Throwing it back to spring 2018 today! We visited Charleston, SC for the girls’ spring break this year. Our original plan involved a couple of beach days at one of the many beautiful islands near Charleston but the weather never quite warmed up enough to do so. We ended up staying in Charleston the entire time and made the most of what the charming city had to offer!

I had done extensive research on kid-friendly things to do in Charleston before we ventured there. Some of the activities that came up in the searches included: Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, Fort Sumter, South Carolina Aquarium, etc. The girls vetoed all indoor museums since we had done enough museum-going in Boston all winter long. 

The openness and ease of being in the outdoors is what we were all craving. Naturally, we decided to not plan anything and simply go with the flow. It was so freeing and just what we needed as a family.

Take a peek at our top 5 trip highlights below:

1. Long, unstructured walks

From  bustling streets like King Street to quieter, residential neighborhoods, we walked through it all. The lush greenery and pretty spring flowers were breathtaking. And the cozy backyards and beautiful porches helped us  discover what southern living is all about.  

I, of course, enjoyed taking pictures and so did my five-year-old. We had recently bought her a ‘real’ kids camera and she went all out taking pictures during the trip! It was fun to do together and so cute to watch. 

2. Middleton Place

Middleton Place has 110 sprawling acres that include 65 acres of America’s oldest landscaped gardens, a house museum, plantation stable yards, a restaurant, inn and organic farm. The plantation was the only ‘planned’ or ‘ticketed’ activity we did. The girls led the way and we happily followed them and enjoyed the quiet outdoors. The alligators, piglets and a colorful peacock were wonderful surprises to see. 

3. Downtime at bookstores/Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art

To take breaks from our long walks, we found bookstores and enjoyed some reading downtime to recharge for the rest of the day’s adventures. The girls were totally into it and us adults appreciated the quiet time, too.

While walking around the campus of the College of Charleston, we went and explored the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art on a slightly chilly morning. We looked at student art and discussed the different mediums of artworks - charcoal on paper, oil on canvas, acrylic on canvas, and watercolor on paper. We also watched an intriguing documentary on making of one of the  saltscapes by Motoi Yamamoto at the Halsey Institute.

4. Leisurely Meals

Besides walking, leisurely meals were our favorite! This was one of the first trips where the girls were not selecting meals only from the kids menu! They were experimenting with food and ordering for themselves. We tried great southern food and some amazing inventive cuisine. A few memorable meal experiences were at Butcher and Bees, One Broad Street Cafe, 82 Queen and Toast. 

Some quotes from the girls: “I think I’m going to skip lunch!” (after a big breakfast). “Try the mashed potatoes, they are killer.” “I’m full alright. All I want is a movie and a good night’s sleep.”

5. Movie Nights at the hotel

Last but not least, plunking ourselves on the bed and getting some screen time after dinner was the best! This was a zero screen time getaway for all of us but we allowed ourselves movie nights once we were finally back at the hotel for the night. The girls watched kid-friendly movies together and the adults caught up on a few episodes of Sneaky Pete. It was fun!

P.S. Click here to view pictures of our India trip with kids from December 2017.


Cooking with Kids: Summer Picnics Continue

It’s been a while since I posted about cooking with kids. The girls help around the kitchen every now and then and have become especially good at making their own breakfast parfaits. They also love to help me bake cookies and brownies.
To spice things up a bit, we recently tried making cold noodle salad and Vietnamese sandwiches. The idea was to make something easy and portable that we would eventually eat outside in the backyard. After a quick trip to the grocery store, we were ready to give it a go!

Oriental Noodle Salad

First, I boiled the soba noodles and laid out rest of the ingredients for the girls to assemble. I guided them with the proportions and they were ready to take the lead and get started.

While the noodle salad was cooling in the refrigerator, we got started with the sandwiches. My girls love banh mi sandwiches and often drag me to their favorite hole in the wall sandwich place in Boston. (It’s one of those places I go all the time but don’t even know the name!). The girls started chopping the veggies while I cooked the chicken. We accidentally used up all of our cilantro in the noodle salad, so I substituted arugula for greens and shredded cabbage for lettuce. The assembly was easy and the girls were excited to put the sandwiches together!

The girls had already set up the picnic blanket in the backyard. They happily ran back and forth and helped me bring all the stuff outside. It may look elaborate to some, but it took us less than ten minutes to set everything up. We then settled in to enjoy the delicious meal we had made together.

Being a part of the process from start to finish helped create a special connection with the meal that the girls truly enjoyed. They may not have been as eager to eat if I had just made it myself and offered it at the dinner table. It was a special treat to cook together, the food was delicious, and overall I was pleasantly surprised at the girls’ level of excitement and involvement.