cupcakes (shhhh its really muffins!)

We love these muffins and I like disguise them as cupcakes with some frosting and they become a super treat! (and for the parents they are great just plain!). Honestly I didn't really know the difference between muffins and cupcakes until my son told me the other day, so since we always made 'muffins' I decided we should make a go at 'cupcakes' -- full disclosure -- they are the same recipe just add the frosting!

You can mix around this recipe with the things your kids like best but its a good basic recipe and you can use fresh or frozen of any of the following, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, rasberries, chocolate chips, etc... you get the picture.

(I will use blueberry/banana as that's a favorite in this house)

(relatively) HEALTHY MUFFINS
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup crushed flax seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 ripe bananas
1/3 cup milk or rice milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup organic fresh or frozen blueberries

preheat oven to 375f and butter your muffin tin
combine flours, flax seeds, baking soda and salt
beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy
add eggs, one at a time, beat well
add bananas, milk and vanilla
mix in flour mixture a little bit at a time
mix in blueberries with a spoon
bake 25 to 28 minutes
let cool fully before frosting them or eat warm without frosting!

and wait until you hear what the frosting is made of you will hit the roof (at least I was surprised)
2 sticks of softened butter (room temp)
thicken with about 1 cup (or so...) of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
add coloring for whatever color you need, if you are piping other colors split up the frosting into a few bowls (however many colors you are doing) and add colors to each.

You will note that I didn't specify 'organic', except for the fruit, because I feel that some things I like to use organic and some not.. I am sure that you work the same in your kitchen, personally I use everything organic except the butter... I feel like organic butter is so expensive and to use it in baking is a little too much!

(this recipe is adapted from a recipe that I found in Martha Stewarts Everyday Food magzine--I just changed a few things)


winner of valentines day contest

we never promised we would do this in a timely manner! but we liked so many of the ideas... we chose a top five and then we put them all in a hat and chose a winner, like I said we liked so many of the ideas! so thank you all for participating and we will make this an annual event! -THANK YOU!

WINNER - angela
"This year, we made valentines for each other, friends, and classmates out of things around the house such as newspaper, magazines, cereal boxes, fabric, buttons, ect.
The valentines turned out great, and the kids are so proud of their creations. We even made a few to leave in public places for whomever may stumble across them! "From your secret admirer" Fun!"

we liked that they made the valentines public--what a great idea!

So thank angela! please email us all of your stats and you are the proud winner of a lucky fish sweetheart t-shirt! ta-da!!!


The Nonchalantdad: Cabin Fever!

So, the same thing seems to happen each year - even though you tell yourself you're not going to fall for it this time. After approximately 4 long months of Winter Cold, Wet, Ice... you get the picture.... up pops that one single day when the weather outside suddenly gives you a taste of warmer things to come. That day happened last week, when the outside daytime temperature reached a wopping 60F at our house. Now, if you happen to live in year-round warmer climes then, of course, you can't relate to this kind of elation. But, let me tell you - I was practically outside running around naked with one of those pool floating donut things around my waist,
heading for the swimming pool.... except, at my age, I already have one of those donut things naturally around my waist - and further more, the sight of me naked.... well...... lets just leave
the topic shall we?

Anyway, it was warm enough to feel like Spring had arrived. But, that's Mother Nature's trick you see? Next day we dropped down to about 30F again. By this time of year you've just about had it up to here with the winter doldrums. The snow doesn't seem like much fun any more after the 10th time you've had to shovel the stuff, nor does the routine of dressing the kids in about 30 layers of clothing each and every time they want to step outside. You become tired of the winter restrictions - not sick and tired, but just a bit tired. So, that one warm day gives you the impression that the hibernation is over.... except, it isn't.... not quite yet. It's just a taster of things come. You've still got some weeks left before your bones start to thaw out! Yet, you allowed yourself the trick of thinking that, just like that, winter dropped it's blaster and left town
quickly. And, now, emotionally, you're out on a limb - neither mentally prepared for winter any longer, and no where near ready to relax into Spring and Summer.

You're about to GO CRAZY!!!

As happens, the end of Winter brings one last little bite to remind you that it is still lingering. Our area, and kids (much like I'm sure yours have had), has been hit with a fairly severe case of the flu - this one either hitting the stomach, or sticking to the chest. Lots of coughing and stomach aches - fever. And, if that wasn't enough, my wife took the kids ice-skating recently and promptly tried some fancy move to show the kids how well she skates... and BANG, right onto her back she crashed - hitting her head! An ambulance ride, emergency room fixer upper, tests, staples, and two very excited kids (they rode in the ambulance with her) later - we were pretty much confined to home. (the wife had six stitches and a very minor concussion - fine after a few days rest - but she was more upset that a lock of hair had been cut away and that her clothes had some blood stains).

So, what to do when you are confined to the home one more time? Well, by this time of year you are pretty much resigned to letting the kids do whatever they want since you have just about exhausted every creative entertainment you can think of: drawing and painting just doesn't cut it, reading book after book just isn't working as well, and their toys have all been used to much. You can just turn on the TV and let them be entertained by that. But, that's to easy. So, in order to keep one step ahead of the end of winter doldrums, you have to think outside of the box - or go for the grand gesture - like allowing things to take place that normally you don't allow the kids. It's guaranteed FUN, and breaking the rules a bit makes you seem like the coolest parent on earth. Everyone loves something special and different.

In our house, we start to allow things that might normally only take place outside. Like the other day we had a contest with a POGO stick and one of those bouncy balls - things that normally are reserved for outside. Of course, it is worth noting that we have concrete floors so the wear and tear isn't so severe. We just moved a bunch of stuff out of the way and set to it. The kids loved it and it sure as heck burns energy! If you can't quite bring yourself to do that, then try this: we take some of our softer furniture and turn it upside down and lean it against our master bed, gather a bunch of loose pillows, etc and create a sort of play room where the kids can climb to the top of the sofa (for instance) and jump off into the pillows and mattress. Our favorite is the kids climb and jump while I try to bash them (softly) with pillows. The kids are so having fun with this trick that they are actually burning up by the time we call a time out later. They can't even believe that Mom and Dad would even allow them to jump all over the furniture in the first place, let alone make a mountain out of it!

Then, if the kids are bored with their toys - we super-size them. I take every damned thing in the house that can be a building material, including every conceivable building block and we make huge towers, bridges, and castles. Then, we combine this with other toys that the kids don't normally think to put together at play time. For example, a good one for us is taking our sons 'HotWheel' tracks and creating a race course so that the cars travel to the end of the road and go flying into the castle or tower for instance. The kids start devising plans to create holes for the cars to jump through, or better yet, they build elaborate structures only to have the race cars pound them into destruction.... this building and destroying can go on for a good few hours! The kids are jumping around with excitement and figuring new ways to build the track, or set up a jump, or create a new obstruction..... it may be different, but it builds the creative juices.

As the grand gesture, and when Dad can muster the energy and patience needed, we pull out the grand prize: a house wide obstacle course. This activity is not for the faint of heart and is usually reserved for that special day when the weather outside is so dismal that nobody even wants to try and venture outside. And this activity is a definite energy burner - just in case you need to settle the kids down a bit and get them focused. I pull out every item of furniture and create new obstacles or challenges by combining things like pillows with tables, etc. You set up a whole path of things to crawl under, climb over, hop through, and tumble in - spreading through various rooms in the house. Then, depending on the age of your kids, you devise a system by which you time them as they try to finish the course. I usually get them to try to beat their own time so that they aren't competing with one another and eventually arguing and teasing each other. And, it works like a charm. There's lots of screaming and yelling, cheering too!!! But, after an hour of that, the kids will be totally spent for a while and willing to settle down to quieter entertainment.

If you've got any good ideas for burning the kids energy in your house, I'd sure love to hear about it - the more options the better.

The only thing left to do, in my opinion, when the weather just won't cut you a break is to take the outside and bring it in. If your kids are like mine, and they probably are, then burning energy is job #1. And, if you're willing to make a bit of a temporary mess - the house can be the perfect playground! You may be tired out a bit in the process - but at least you won't feel so CRAZY any more! And, soon enough, you'll be able to open all the doors and windows and Spring will be in the air!!! Just like that!


it's time for a workout - Tracy Anderson style!

I think that it was my body that was in search of a workout, and not really so much me... I had heard some things about this Tracy Anderson because she is the trainer for Madonna and Gwenneth Paltrow, but it was in Cookie Magazines February issue that a story ran about her and I found that she has made a workout DVD. I figured this was a wonderful answer for a busy mom to get into shape on her own time! and I was right! It's so great to do this DVD at home, no trekking off to the gym or yoga studio necessary, just a mat and weights (I actually don't even use those but instead two iron sculptures that "I think" weigh about a pound each).

I suppose that I should tell you a bit about this wonderful woman, who looks GREAT by the way, and has a young 10 year old son. At a young age Ms. Anderson moved to New York to pursue a dancers dream... and has since created her own workout method that sculpts your body, as she works on making your frame 'smaller' rather than bulking up, this is the idea that made me take notice... she somehow builds your muscles smaller (okay, those are not her words but you get the picture). The Tracy Anderson method is a really fun workout, it only takes an hour (when I first started doing the video I could cut it down to about 45 minutes because I would fast forward through some of it because I just couldn't do it!--psst don't tell anyone!) now after two weeks I already feel better, I actually like to pretend as I watch her do the workout that her body is mine--it just makes me feel better about it all and it's my little secret!

There are three workouts, and one should surely fit any of you; mat workout, cardio and the post-pregnancy workout. She asks that you do the workout every day or at least 4 - 6 days a week and for the first week I was so excited I made time for it every day... I know a workout video sounds funny but you will really see results, and it's fun AND you can do it on your own time! At this time of year when winter is just hanging in there and the more friends that I talk to the more depressed I hear that people are getting... the more I think this workout will really lift your spirits! it does mine and I have more energy for the rest of the day.

If you are living in New York she has opened a workout studio in Tribeca and she also has a place in Los Angeles go to her website for all the details on classes and to get your own workout DVD! (if you still are not convinced you can check on 'youtube' to see what her workouts look like)

If you decided to try it please share with us how it works for you!
(AND I am getting my husband to do it with me so I will tell you how that goes!... ha!)


rainy day tricks - Q-BA-MAZE!

You know how you go in and out of using certain games and toys, somehow we always remember Q-BA-MAZE on a rainy day! Last week was "winter break" for both our kids schools, so we went through all the tricks we had in the house and outside the house (I think that 'Nonchalant Dad' is going to share a few more with you this week), we had low and high points but not traveling over this holiday season was kind of a bummer for all involved so we made up with the lack of sunny weather or skiing by some household activities, and believe me we had our share of movies as well!

But really I think that it was Q-BA-MAZE to the rescue! I love it, our seven year old loves to build all of the different puzzle mazes and our three year old just loves to drop the balls down, so we all get into it. We made a bunch of different mazes from plans that Q-BA-MAZE offers on their website, there are about 25 different plans, a fish, a couple of robots, trees, a whole bunch of things! and then we made a few of our own! It was all a lot of fun and the colorful plastic pieces are really beautiful at the same time so it's lovely to watch too!

We happen to have two sets; the 50pc set and a 20pc set, this gives you enough to do many of the plans offered on the Q-BA-MAZE website but really if you have two 50 packs you could do all of them! In time I am sure we will have to move in that direction (since I sell them in my store it's inevitable!)

(there are marbles involved so if you have small children under the age of 3 years there is a choking hazzard)
you can buy Q-BA-MAZE at Nonchalant Mom if you click here.
see more plans at the Q-BA-MAZE website here.



I felt this was a good time to talk about sunscreens because many of you are on vacation as we speak... and the rest of us are here at our desks slaving away... at any rate, we all run out to the sun in the summertime (ya-hoo! can't wait!) and I found an interesting article in this months W magazine where they report on sun protection. Did you know that since 1978 the FDA has been trying to finalize a monograph, or set of rules, governing UVA and UVB sunscreens? It seems it's comes down to a lot of red tape and there was a close monograph published in 1999 but it did not cover the issue of UVA. And while it looks as though something will be brought forward this year (finally) the new packaging will not be seen in stores until 2011.

Currently, the US 'SPF' system only looks at the UVB light (these are the rays that cause sunburn), the new system will be looking both at UVA and UVB rays (UVA = wrinkles but can also lead to skin cancer). Europe, Asia and just about everyone else has a system in place already that looks at both UVA and UVB rays. The cap on the new system will put SPF protection at 50+ (UVB) and then there will be a star system that rates the UVA rays (from one to four stars). There is also a discussion about the word "waterproof" yes, it seems that a product is not 'waterproof' if you swim in a pool all day and then jump out and wipe it (yourself) off with a towel... oops you just wiped off your sun protection. Waterproof will be replaced with the term 'very water resistant'.

Well because W magazine is W magazine they can't upset any of their advertisers and tell you that most of these US made sun protection products are full of chemicals anyhow, we will just tell you what what we do...in our family we just don't use them and we stick with only Dr. Hauschka sun protection--it follows all of the European standards so I also feel that it has safer labeling (it says "very water resistant" already). And you may crucify me for this but we usually put Dr. Hauschka on in the morning (before we leave the house so that it can soak in a bit, it's so expensive this all we can afford!). This is usually it for sun protection for the day, now we do not spend the hours of noon - 3pm at the beach so this usually works for us (both of my kids have never had a sunburn) and I feel that the vitamin D they get from the sun later in the day is better than blocking out all of the sun completely from their skin. I must add that we live in Rhode Island and I think the California sun, and the like, have a completely different story (so please share with us what YOU do all of you Californians!). But I think it's important to have some time in the sun without products (yes, this is usually at about 4-5pm so the sun is not so harsh) but it's healthy. (oh, I can just feel some comments coming on... I know this is a sore subject!) So please comment and let us know 'what' you are using, 'how long' you use it, if you don't what do you do... all of that!

and now some real NEWS:
as I went to make the link for you to the Dr. Hauschka website to buy their sun care products I found this bit of alarming information:

New European regulations for sunscreens will soon require levels of UVA protection that are impossible to achieve with natural mineral sun filters such as the titanium dioxide in Dr.Hauschka Sunscreens. In order to meet the requirements of these new regulations and maintain our products' SPF ratings, we would be forced to reformulate using synthetic filters.

Our unwavering dedication to pure, holistic skin care and BDIH guidelines for natural ingredients prevent us from using synthetic sun filters in our preparations. As a result, Dr.Hauschka Skin Care has made the difficult decision to discontinue our existing sun care range.

As of January 1, 2009, Dr.Hauschka Sun Care products will no longer be available in the U.S.




The peanut story is so disturbing but I have grappled with the hitting home story in all of this, I know that there have been may people that were infected, but I wanted to hear the story of what it looks like... if you know what I mean. Yesterday I got an email from the people at The Root, which is an online magazine. This story will give you insight into what it feels like when your child could become sick with Salmonella, in a story by Hamil Harris, where he explains how "My Son Nearly Died of Salmonella" (click here for a link to the full story) this is such a touching story but, smartly, it explains what the onset of Salmonella looks like in a child. With all of the sickness, flu, etc. that is going around it is eye-opening to know the difference.

I would also like to point out that this is a good commercial for Organics, although this could happen to any business that has crooked ownership, this is obviously less likely to happen with Organics because of all of it's testing and restrictions due to the USDA Organic label and it's guidelines. I think that many times today we think that there is 'some agency' that is watching over business to make sure that our food is safe, I don't want to sound like an alarmist but if YOU grow it and cook it isn't it much better, cheaper and more wholesome. I also understand how complicated this is but I think that if people wake up to the desire for this our eating habits will become more clean and wholesome as a result. We haven't personally built our own garden yet so I am quite the hypocrite but... as they say... one thing at a time... let's all work on it and make this world a better, safer and more simple place for our children.

(Hamil R. Harris, who wrote the story on 'The Root' is a reporter for The Washington Post.)


determine the sex of your baby? maybe...

Yes, this could be just another idea in the long list of ways that you can try to determine the sex of your baby, honestly, I don't know of the other ideas (please share them with us by making a comment below if you know of any!) and I hadn't thought much about it until someone told me this one... and it sounded like it could work to me. So what the heck, I gave it a whirl... and it seemed to work for me, but who REALLY knows what is fate and what is not.

So here is the idea... if the male constitution is stronger of the two partners you will have a girl and if the female's constitution is stronger you will have a boy. Now here is the tough part, ones constitution is such a subtle thing because it is not determined by 'strength' necessarily, yet more on the health or vitality of your 'being', not to get existential on you... but there it is. You and your partner are usually of similar constitution because you usually eat the same things so if you eat well you have a strong constitution, but ones constitution also takes into consideration being outside and fresh air, exercise, the health of your organs and things like this...

So here is how I kind of personalized it for us (I don't even remember if I told my husband about it... ) I am from a family of three women, my father died when I was very young so men were a pretty foreign being for me. My sister had three girls, so I thought "hey, so will I ...right?!". When we were told with our first baby that we were going to have a boy I just thought "wow... what the heck am I going to do with that!?" it was a real surprise for me (life has a way of throwing those at you right?), and now I know... sort of... what to do with 'that'.. although the energy of a boy is just beyond me! So when it came time to think about another baby I had heard of this constitution story. I was told about how the constitution worked like I said above (male stronger = girl, female stronger = boy) and this friend had done this herself, she said just drink lots of coffee and eat sweets and that is a pretty direct line to lower your constitution.

I did... and we did... have a girl! I also got very sick, so I don't really recommend it honestly but hey... you never know!?

(the above sketch is something I found, it's by
Lotte Klaver - click here to see her blog)

The Nonchalantdad: La belle musique de la langue française!

Jacques Brel

As I'm sure you are aware, the culture of the United States has pretty much been one of our biggest exports since the end of World War II. For better or worse, our music and popular culture was the newest thing on the block - and our European Friends (not to mention the rest of the world) started eating it up. All things 'American' were the rage. It's not so ripe now, but you can still easily find the vestiges of this pervasiveness wherever you are pretty much traveling. So much so, that this 'American' thing can't really be easily traced back to its source any longer - it has become an entity unto itself! Something translatable into many different forms, depending on what country you happen to find yourself in.

Josephine Baker

I know for sure through my own connection to the UK that many of my friends there happened to have an obsession with the music of America in particular - and I'm not talking about Michael Jackson. The more obscure forms were often the more popular - something authentic, like traditional folk music from the 'back woods', or the blues from our South, or original country and western from the deep West. There's alot of great music from the United States that are one of our proudest and more authentic storytellers. And, impressions are everything - as we have learned over the last decade in particular!

But, what about the other way around? What about those of us who have a deep fascination with the music of other cultures? The way things are set up in our own country, it is hard to hear the voices of other cultures and societies on a regular basis. But, today, with the internet, that world is no longer so restrictive and, as such, much more easily experienced - thank God! So, people like myself who are very much into the obscure, or rare, sounds of other cultures..... well - have I found a new place for you!

Edith Piaf

Just about everyone is familiar with the sounds of Jacques Brel (my wife had always had a passion for this man!), Josephine Baker, or the indomitable Edith Piaf. But what about a whole range of French music spanning a whole century of tastes - from the ridiculous (some crazy sounding stuff from the 60's and 70's) to the sublime, and everything in between. Well, I recently stumbled onto a great website that has since become my soundtrack while working, Chanteurs.org. I am not a natural French speaker, as many of my vocal blunders can attest to during my 6 or 7 visits to France - but the French language is without a doubt one of the most beautiful languages this world has to offer. And, afterall, it is easy to pretend while listening to some of the these wonderful gems, that you indeed do speak the language fluently.... Quelle surprise!

We are supposed to be returning to an older, more natural, form of living these days - the days of excess are over, apparently. And what better way to celebrate some of that earlier authenticity than by relying on the culture of our predecessors (I'm not talking the 80's here!) to help us! And, what could be more fun than listening to this music with your kids - don't even think the language barrier will be a problem for them!

And, just think of the discoveries you'll make, even if you are just a tiny bit of a Francophile! I have some new favorites now that you are unlikely to see on MTV anytime soon: how about the group called 'Rita Mitsouko' (their song 'Restez avec moi' is a treat), or Luis Mariano's 'Le Rossignol', or Roberta's 'le long du canal'...... oh quel plaisir! Almost every other song on the radio program is a jewel I'm not familiar with... and that radio program can be found on your ITunes Radio under the international section.

So, if you're like me and your a natural born sucker for this kind of stuff - you'll have some real fun discovering all sorts of stuff that you didn't even know existed probably. And, to boot, after a while listening to this music, you'll start to think that your daily errands are charged with all that much more jaunty magic! Enjoy, and let me know what you think. I'll keep my ears out for other things too, but if any of you know something like this, whatever the country, let me know - I know my wife would love an Italian version, or Swedish. Or, what about a Spanish one.... oh my, the list goes on! Oh quelle joie de découvrir! (oh no.... did I just ask directions to the train station again!).....


more valentines

a little more in a rush but all the same we got our valentines day cards ready... I made them on 'inDesign' but the kids picked the image they wanted to use and all else, and then we just cut our hearts of all sizes from red construction paper, easy as pie! I thought they turned out pretty cute and it's an easy way to come up with cards for your kids to share with their friends at school.

I must say I still love those old fashioned ones, but all I can find these days is Dora or Thomas the tank engine... not as fun!

good luck with your cards and have some fun with it!

Christoph Niemann's Illustrations

I don't know Christoph Niemann personally. But I have seen his illustrations, without knowing it at first, on the occasional cover of the New Yorker magazine. So, when I came across a blog entry he did for the NY Times recently, I thought I'd share it with you. Since my husband and I left NYC 5 years ago, after living there for some years, we often find ourselves remembering the oddest things from that magical and energetic city. So, when I saw these sort of Lego construction/illustrations that Niemann put together as a sort of remembrance of the NYC he had left recently .... well, they just struck a cord. And, if you are familiar with NYC, you'll get the idea too. I'll share some of the images with you. If you want to see more you can check them out here.

I checked out his website out of curiosity to see what else he has done and found myself sincerely amused (the kind of amusement where you find yourself chuckling out loud) by the simplicity of some of his imagery in many cases, and his eye for the subtle and absurd. He's the kind of guy, it seems to me, who can take an everyday word and alter a few letters to reveal something you'd never knew was under your nose the whole time! That kind of humor..... ! My favorite kind, besides good 'ol slapstick. Here's his website, have a visual stroll around - I recommend you start in the section where he lists his blog entry series for the NY Times. There's a fun one there where he describes visually his kids obsession with the Subway system - and god how I know my kids love that subway!

Anyway, I was happy to hear that he is the father of three young boys too. His basic bio says that he lived in NYC for several years and then recently moved to Berlin with his wife and kids. If you know him, tell him we'd like to interview him for our Global Parents segment.... I'm sure his 'story' and insights would be interesting. From the looks of his imaginitive mind - he sure looks as though he studies the world much differently from day to day than we average folk! How FUN!

And, if you haven't seen them - be on the look out for his 2 children's books The Pet Dragon (which teaches kids about Chinese characters) and The Police Cloud. What fun - I'm glad I stumbled on his work! You can see, and find out more, on his website christophniemann.com.


Big City Biking!

I seem to remember that Amsterdam had an idea to distribute 'free' bicycles some years ago. They would be painted white and the idea behind them was that you could find one of these bikes in the city and borrow it - then, when you were finished you'd leave it for someone else to take from there. I can't seem to find if this idea was ever started properly - and if it was started, what happened to it. I would like to think I remember that there was a story about all the bikes being stolen and repainted or something like that! But, like I said - I can't remember.

I thought of this because I was just reading something about Paris and the system which the city introduced about a year and a half ago called Velib. If you haven't heard of Velib, then the idea goes something like this: Thousands of bikes are displayed at specific Kiosks/Stations around the center of Paris, you can swipe a travel card and take one - the first half an hour is basically free and any time after that is charged at a very reasonable rate - something like 1 Euro. I loved the idea that cities around the world are trying to come up with clever ideas to get people away from cars. I was intrigued mostly because, of course, I always equate anything super stylish with the Parisian sensibility. But, like most people initially, I thought this fun and super-eco idea was doomed to failure because, humans being generally humans, the bikes would start to be stolen, or trashed, or sold off... etc. But, Velib seemed different - the people behind the idea looked as though they thought of all of these potential problems beforehand. Hence, the sleek dual-gender
design with its destinctive shape, the system of returning the bikes to established stations, and the swiping of cards, to name a few.

When the bikes first came into use in the Summer of 2007 it was a huge success. Estimates are now that millions of people have used the bikes which supposedly number about 20,000. The system was user friendly and efficient, people thought they were cool, and availability was easy. Furthermore, many other cities around the globe started toying with idea - places as diverse as Chicago, Seoul, Washington DC, San Francisco, London, and Singapore. I even read that Paris, and a city in Australia (can't remember which one!), were considering the idea of offering electric vehicles in the same sort of structure - borrow and pay a small fee, return the car to a station and leave it. Slowly but sure, our major cities would be awash with bicyclists instead of cars !!! The air would be cleaner, and people would be healthier for it. I am such an optimist!

Even in our neck of the woods, where riding a bike is not something you see every day, considering everything is so spread out, the local council converted an old railway line used at the turn of the 19th/20th Century into a very nice bike path. It isn't very convenient for daily errands, unless you live on it or near it (which we don't) - but at least it is an invitation to get out there and get some exercise. The kids love it, and it is very convenient for teaching our oldest how to ride a bike in safety.

But, I digress! So, following up on the latest news from Velib (or the BBC rather) - the system has hit some snags... or the most obvious snag: people have been stealing the bikes or just plain trashing them, so much so that the company that started the idea is suggesting it can not continue with that much vandalism and loss. I am pretty hopeful that somebody will come up with an idea for better keeping track of the bikes, since that seems like the biggest problem. I'd hate to see such a wonderful idea go bust!

But, there you go - a BIG salute to people who are trying to find ideas to make our lives more accessible - better for the environment and simpler! So, I just thought I'd share the idea with you, in case you might not have heard of it..... and perhaps it will give you ammunition to think of something that might help your community in much the same way. You never know, right? Next thing you know, every US city could soon be like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, or Beijing! Bikes everywhere.......!!! Fingers Crossed.


Spring Lucky Wang is here!

This spring the collections are arriving very slowly, but not Lucky Wang they are on their game and on top of it and it's really a sporty fun collection! My favorites are the Genie pants (seen in above photo) I think that the collection couldn't be better and more exciting! Emily and Kit, the dynamic duo that is behind Lucky Wang, really went to town with colorful and typically Lucky Wang prints... nobody does it better! Emily found inspiration for the Spring collection from blossoms on the cherry tree on a Tokyo street against the grey sky of early spring, a more quiet and soft collection, like the lace on the door of a cobbler, familiar and comforting.

When I opened the boxes of the new collection I saw these deep colors against some really lovely sweet prints and it really made sense to me! Now all we need is for it to warm up a bit around here! But if you are vacationing or lucky enough to live somewhere that it's already warm (yes! jump on it you New Zealanders and Aussies!)

Emily and Kit live in New York City with their two kids who are both in school (and in some of their pictures!) I wanted to get a feeling for their normal day, when I got her answers I decided that I am going to go and live with them... it sounds great!

NCM: who gets up in the morning with the kids?
EMILY: lately I get up in the morning first and try to make lunch and breakfast. then I wake Kit up, then the kids. And always... rushing out the door with them. We both walk the kids to school together.

NCM: what do you guys like to eat for breakfast?
EMILY: Mine is coffee. Kids' are baguette from Bouley Bakery with left over Cuban pernil, scramble eggs and fresh cilantro on top.
Kit's is fresh bread and cold restaurant style butter and coffee.

NCM: what is your favorite thing to make yourself?
EMILY: We like to make French country style apple cake together.

NCM: how do you feel about traveling with the kids?
EMILY: I like traveling with the kids, preferably without the husband.
We bring books, somewhat healthy snacks like fruits, paper and coloring pens. They entertain each other.

NCM: do your kids share a room?
EMILY: Yes, the kids share a room with bunk beds. They like it. They don't have a choice.

NCM: do you have any home design essentials or things that you love about your home?
EMILY: We live in a high rise apartment, 32nd floor with a view of Hudson river, Jersey and beyond. I like to watch the change of the weather from our place. Rain storms, snow storms, fog, and sunsets.

Over the last few years Emily and I have become friends (and Kit too, he has a really dry sense of humor that I love) and you better believe me, there is really no one that is more chic and totally 'cool' than Emily, she is at the top of my list!

Thank you Emily for taking a moment to talk to us and like I said before... I'm moving in!


krishna das

I don't often like to make posts that say "I did this or that last night" (a little too personal) but I really wanted to share this with you, first because it was amazing and second he is possibly going to be in your neighborhood very soon...

Last night we went to see Krishna Das in the beautiful First Unitarian Church in Providence Rhode Island. This was such lovely location to see and hear Krishna Das, it was a really beautiful experience and I am just giving you tip to keep your ears open in case he is coming to you! I don't know the entire story about Krishna Das, I was introduced to him by my local yoga center, All That Matters. I bought a CD and I was instantly hooked, in fact I cried the first time I heard him sing it's really enchanting. The evening consisted of kirtans of 2-3 hours with call-and-response chanting, we could only stay for an hour and a half but it was the most wonderful hour and a half I could have imagined. I had no idea what I was chanting, and Krishna Das thankfully said that that was ok at the begining, so chant away I did... I really recommend this to just about anyone. I am sure that eventually I will learn some of the chants but just the sound and the feeling for now are enough for me.

We didn't bring the kids, although I wanted to but we decided it was a bit too late for them, but they certainly listen to his CD and they chant along with him (and me) in the car. They really love it and ask for it all the time. I haven't heard all of the CDs but if you are going to get just one I would suggest "Flow and Grace" it also has a book with it which will give you some history.

here is the tour schedule:
(some of these are workshops so got to the website to find out more information about each appearance)

February 14 - Miami, FL
February 17 - Atlant, GA
February 18 - Atlanta, GA
February 24 - Nyack, NY
Feb 28 - March 3 - Bahamas - chant retreat
March 12 - 15 - Kripalu
March 27 - 29 - Ananda Ashram - Monroe, NY
April 4 - Toronto, Canada

You can visit his website here for more information about Krishna Das and to buy CDs.

I have to apologize for the photo but I was kind of embarrassed to take it, it was a little dark (and cozy), and I was way to embarrassed to use a flash... sorry! but I hope that you get the idea!


valentines day ideas! and CONTEST!

Last year we posted a fun valentines day project, but we posted it ON the day, not so fun. So here is a link to fun cards that you can make at home, if you have some creative tools on your computer (anything that helps you put words onto images works!) then you can make these simple and fun cards to share with your kids friends and family! Let your kids help you pick the image, font and colors and have a blast!

This year we are going to follow the lead of Martha Stewart (again!) and make cupcakes, in her February issue there are a whole bunch of great ideas for cupcakes and I swear they all look fun, some are a little over the top but I know there are those of you out there who are up for the task... you are just going to have to tell us all about it! We made a dry run with muffins, and somehow my kids knew the difference between muffins and cupcakes! "MOM, these are not cupcakes! these are muffins!" so we need to start over....

We would like to hear from YOU this year, all of you talented people out there I know you have some wonderful ideas for Valentines day, so sock-it-to ME! Just tell us any old thing and our favorite idea will win a Lucky Fish Sweetheart t-shirt! Yahoo!! So post your comment now and the winner will be announced on Valentines Day!!!

The Nonchalantdad: the Poo hits the fan....

OK, I know what you're thinking...."oh, I just knew, sooner or later, ol' Nonchalantdad couldn't resist the topic of poo." But, it's not true. It's not like I sat down with a smirk and thought....hmmm.... how can I factor 'poo' into a story. No pun intended - these things just need to come naturally. And, anyway - with this story, it was going to be hard enough to come up with an accompanying image.

My six year old son announced to me (by way of our usual free-form conversing style while he was taking a bath) the other day that one of the boys in his class told him, and a few other kids in the class, a story. Apparently, and just as casual as can be, he recounted that this boy told the other kids that his brother kissed his butt and then ate some of his poo!!! OK, OK.... yes.... it was just like that. Of course, I was busy lathering my son up with soap as he told me this. So, naturally I sat back, and for a moment we just looked at each other. Time has a way of elongating at moments like this.....

My son's face reminded me of how I must have looked when I was near his age. I remember that we used to have this kid on our street who, for a brief time, took pleasure in finding you playing somewhere on the street and, just as casually as can be, invited you to come over to his house to show you his recent poo in the toilet. Listen, I recall even then, it didn't take much to realize this kid had a special problem. But, as kids often do (and a small group of us did) we were intrigued enough to all start walking over to his house to see what all the fuss was about. Of course, on the way over, who should we all bump into? Well, as memory has it, it was Mrs Havenshaw (of course, I changed the name to protect the innocent... but I still needed something close). It was THE Mrs Havenshaw who stopped us. Now, I don't expect you to know who Mrs Havenshaw is. But, she was pretty well known on our little street at the time, only because she was one of those ladies (and every street seems to have one, no?) who was... well... let's just say she was pretty anxious. In fact, she was one of those people for whom everything seems to be cause for worry and who would always stop you at length and lecture you about it. In this case, she was out front of her home and wondering why this small group of young kids was moving quickly in one particular direction. So, as you do at that approximate age, you answer a direct question with a direct answer - something like this:

Mrs Havenshaw: "children, children, SLOW DOWN! Where are all of you little troublemakers off to so fast anyway?"
Me: "We are going to look at Sammy's poo..."

Well, no sooner had I shared this basic information than there was the sound of a large, and abrupt, inhalation on the part of Mrs Havenshaw. "You WHAT!" she exclaimed. And, again, I answered (obviously not quite aware of the 5th amendment as yet) - this time being slapped on the back of my shoulder by one of the older children in our group who obviously DID know about the 5th amendment. Needless to say, as quick as you can say 'Bobs your Uncle' we were all marched to our respective homes one by one by the 'kindly' Mrs Havenshaw. Before reaching home I got to witness a few of our group being marched up to their homes first. It became a recurring theme of that same abrupt inhalation on the part of the respective parent, a quick grab and then the kid would disappear into the shadows of the entry way and the door slamming shut. So, by the time we had reached our home with Mrs Havenshaw, my sister and I were definitely thinking we were going to our own funerals.

At the door, Mrs Havenshaw quickly described to my mother what happened. I was only wishing that it had been my father who answered the door, because his english was dodgy enough that you at least stood a small chance he wouldn't understand Mrs Havenshaw's clipped and hurried tones. BUT, to our surprise, and Mrs Havenshaw's apparent disapproval, my mother laughed and laughed. What Mrs Havenshaw failed to remember was that my mother was one of those English mothers who can only best be described as wearing an apron, with a scarf tied on her head, and a rolling pin in her hand...... like one of those old English war films. Salt of the Earth, my mother. And, worse for Mrs Havenshaw, my mother was an English nurse. And anyone who knows a nurse knows that they are pretty unflappable when it comes to do with anything bodily.

So, I guess I'm telling you this because what I did in that next second, with my own little guy looking at me like he had just foregone his fifth amendment right, was look my son straight in the eye and pretend like it wasn't a huge and suspicious shock. I suppose I did what I had learned from my mother. In order not to make the situation something exemplary, or just plain outrageous, I casually started asking questions back like I was curious, more than anything. The strategy is a simple one: instead of making an issue out of the thing, thus bringing more special attention to it, and possibly encouraging my son to think of it as outrageous or something that elicits horror (so that he thinks twice about sharing 'questionable' material again in the future), you direct the conversation to gradually explain that such behaviour (if even true in the first place) is not acceptable. So, we started talking 'poo'...... Listen, I'm not going to get into it. Suffice to say, that in a roundabout fashion, I explained that kissing someones butt is not really going to taste very good (and to demonstrate, I made alot of 'YUCK YUCK YUCK' sounds) and is not something people generally go around doing - unless you just started a job. And further, that eating someones poo can make you sick sick sick (more audible 'YUCK YUCK .... ARRGGGH YUCK' sounds). In the end, we both were making the 'YUCK' sounds and agreeing that such behaviour is just not right.

I suspect that Mrs Havenshaw wouldn't have agreed any more with my approach, or lack of reprimand or immediate dismissal, than she did on the doorstep that day with my mother. But, my point is this: the more you make of something, the more your child will think of it as special. And, as my mother knew, the body and its numerous functions don't need to be thought of as an exception. They are normal. I don't want my child to be shocked by poo, no more than I am. And, I don't need him thinking that poo is something that requires extra special condemnation. Poo is natural - as are many things in this world. And, I don't want to set up a precedent by which my son will think that some topics are best not discussed with Daddy or Mommy. But, I don't need him thinking that this behaviour is acceptable either - and hence, my attempt to steer the conversation into the YUCK factor.

What my mother taught me by experience that day, and others to come, was that the best way to often deal with young people is not to outright dismiss a subject or possible behaviour just because it is uncomfortable. You have to get inside the subject, or idea ( like riding a wave to shore) and direct it knowingly where you'd like it to go. Nobody is offended then, and nobody gets hurt - nothing shocking. You casually make your point and perhaps teach a lesson.

I prefer to take my mother's path in this regard - because to take Mrs Havenshaw's would mean that I'd spend the day at my window looking out, just like she seemed to do all the time.... waiting, just waiting for something bad to happen! And, yes.... you guessed it - I get to end with this little ditty: Life throws up lot's of crap! Deal with it! hah!


swedish pancakes

It happens just about once a week, it's Swedish pancakes for breakfast! Really the kids want them every day... but it takes some time so I have learned not to do it on a school morning. Swedish pancakes make a special morning treat, and we like to have them for guests when friends are in town. The ingredients are easy and you probably always have them in your fridge, I like to pull everything out of the refrigerator so that people can roll them up how they want. I grew up with sour cream + brown sugar but everyone has their own favorite, strawberries and whip cream, yum.

Here are some thing you can pull out: yoghurt, jam, lingon berries (
or cranberries), sour cream, brown sugar, maple syrup (for the americans), any berries in season; blue berries, strawberries, bananas, peaches or plums, you can see where I am going with this and its fun to fill the table with all of the ideas and then lay out your crepes for everyone to roll their own.

1 cup flour
1+ cup milk (I think rice milk works best! but don't tell my mom!)
2 eggs
some melted butter

whisk all ingredients together and you will usually need a bit more milk to get the right consistency, but it's easier to remember '1 cup flour/ 1 cup milk and 2 eggs'. Then melt about 2 tsp butter in your pan to get it ready and whisk the butter into your batter.

It makes any normal day festive, or a festive day all the more special!

I will put the disclaimer in that I don't have a real Swedish pancake pan and my mom is not ready to hand hers over to me, so rather than buying one I am going to wait until she is ready to give it up! for now, we just use a #6 iron skillet (I happen to have the best seasoned one in town, and they never stick!) and they look more like crepes but we still call them Swedish pancakes! (the picture below is of the real swedish pancakes)

Martha Stewart did a story recently on swedish pancakes (whoops, she called them Crepes) so she has a bunch of good recipes on her website as well, her recipe is a little more complicated but hey... it's Martha! and she has so many great ideas of things to go with them! visit her website here for more ideas.

Well I say, just have some fun with them and try lots of different things on top... savory is good too, not always sweet! share your ideas with us!


The Nonchalantdad: Oh Baby!

Marlene Dumas

Some of us over here at Nonchalant Mom are addicted to contemporary art. It's fun and interesting, and like new music, it can keep you fresh and enlivened. And, for Christmas this year my wife commissioned a portrait painting of our kids for me as a gift. So, my interest was raised when the oddly named blog artfagcity did a little piece on the depiction of babies, or small children, in art - by various artists both well known and not. There were some fun images to look at, some uncomfortable, and some just plain strange.

We took a few of our favorites and wanted to share them with you - just for the hell of it. Because it's fun, because it's a little different.... and proof positive that we have our feelers out just about everywhere trying to find all sorts of interesting stuff! Some of it you might like, some of it, I warn you, might make you do a double take. Nonetheless, you're sophisticated enough to find it interesting!

Charles Ray 'Family Romance' 1993

I remember the piece from Charles Ray above from a retrospective of his work at the Whitney a few years ago. This freestanding piece is an even stranger one when you see it in person - stops you in your tracks!

Loretta Lux 'Spring 2001'

The photos of Loretta Lux have always been intriguing to me since I first saw them in a magazine. There is this 'otherworldliness' that just makes them simply beautiful. You can see more of her striking work at the Yossi Milo Gallery. In fact, I always wanted to own one her prints..... I'm just not sure I can afford it now!

Catherine Opie 'Self Portrait Nursing' 2004

Here is one from Catherine Opie that I just saw as part of her show at the Guggenheim. I have to admit that I'm not a great overall fan of her work, but this image is completely natural and without bells and whistles to draw you in - like some of her other stuff. I'm sure this might get you into trouble if you try and post it on Facebook... hah!

Phillipe Parenno

Must admit that I'm not familiar with this artist but really thought that it was a great idea! There are times when I hear the sound of my children in the other room and I expect to turn the corner and see their head this big wailing about something, right? Any parent with a small child having a tantrum can relate to this scale!

Keith Haring 'Radiating Baby'

This image is the most familiar of all - and the simplest. But, compared to alot of other graffiti
I see, Keith Haring does much without much! And, by this point, his work has become very nostalgic for a New York City of the 1980's. Deitch Projects in association with the Haring Foundation and Goldman Properties recreated a mural of his from the early 80's on the corner of Houston and Bowery in NYC - fun and colorful, just what you'd expect. And, with many young people mining the trends of the 80's right now, it is fun to see an original. You can see the mural
here, but I think its term is now ended (I understand that they are going to recreate another one on the same spot).

Davy Lauterbach 'Dustin'

And, I just had to add this painting from Davy Lauterbach.
I saw his work in a group show called 'SuperPower' down near Chinatown two or so years ago - he had this thing for taking everyday photos that might have been shot at a Sears Department Store, circa 1978 for example, and altering or accentuating a detail or two until the painting looked very odd. You didn't know if you could laugh or not in many cases. Davy used to work on the team that created the Simpsons Cartoon and this is stuff he did himself for himself...... you see what happens when you've worked on the Simpsons! You can see more of his work at the Scope Art Fair this March in NYC - I understand he will be showing more paintings with a gallery called dFAULKEN. You can hunt down the gallery's booth if you're in town then and find yourself at the fair.

Ron Mueck 'Baby'

Ron Mueck's work is always compelling - primarily because his 'sculptures' are so life-like right down to a strand of hair. I first came upon his work when that big controversial show came to NYC a while ago now at the Brooklyn Museum (you remember Mayor Giuliani threatened the museum over another piece of work in that same show?) - the one featuring new work from the UK. Anyway, all the hype and attention was going to some of the other artists in that show, but Ron Mueck's work really stood out for me. It really does make you consider things differently when you come across a newborn fully out of context and scale size! You might think twice if you commissioned him to create your children's portrait! But, in it's way, his work is frighteningly beautiful.

Of course, there's a whole history of art devoted to the lovely little plump cherubs. But, this is something a little different than that..... maybe I should have made that clearer at the beginning! oops.