Yesterday, Nancy Friedman and I were incredibly excited to do our first live on-air TV segment for KidzVuz.com. We were featured on the WPIX Morning News here in NYC with two awesome KidzVuz reviewers to show the best holiday picks for tweens – by tweens! Aren’t you sick of hearing adults go on and on about what kids want – only to discover your kid didn’t really care about that supposedly “hot” toy at all? Well, we are lucky to have kids all over the country telling us what’s cool, trending or on their wish lists every day on KidzVuz.com. Check out our awesome segment with the incredibly wonderful Tamsen Fadal who was beyond genuinely nice and great with the kids!
In 2004 my sister worked at CosmoGirl in the temporary offices of the Hearst Corporation, used while they were building the new fabulous building on 8th Ave. These offices perfectly overlooked the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – right at eye level with the giant balloons. My daughters were two years old – and totally in awe.
This week we were seriously delighted to go to Jacques Torres in Tribeca and create chocolate Halloween confections with Jacques and his amazing team. If you follow me on twitter you already know that I documented my first Wicked Hot Chocolate of the season on the first chilly day in October.
— Rebecca Levey (@beccasara) October 12, 2012
I love Jacques Torres chocolates, so when he opened a store near my daughters’ school it was a mixed blessing – for my dark chocolate tooth. I sort of hid how awesome it was from my daughters, because the last thing I need are girls who love lobster AND high quality chocolate. If a 50 cent Kit Kat makes them happy who am I to tell them otherwise?
But, I was super excited to bring my girls to have this incredible experience of both meeting Jacques and getting to work with his delicious chocolate to create really fabulous Halloween chocolate treats. I had no idea how awesome it was going to be, but it was one of the experiences that surpassed my expectations.
First, the girls were given chef hats and smocks and I was given a hair net (this is why there are no pictures of me!) Then they were led into the back of the store to the actual chocolate factory. Vats of chocolate were stirring, racks of finished products were stacked to the ceiling, and the tables were laid out with jars of candy, sheets of molds, containers of fruits.
They immediately dove in and started making Halloween lollipops and giant tombstones. After filling in the details with colored chocolate they used a huge pastry bag full of dark, milk or white chocolate to fill the molds to the top, and then they were whisked off to the refrigerators to set.
That would have been fabulous enough, but then wax lined baking sheets appeared with huge dollops of chocolate waiting to be decorated and candy covered.
Then, a giant Jack o’lantern (Jacques o’lantern) puzzle mold. And finally, the huge haunted house molds. Before I knew it my girls had created 40 pieces of chocolate Halloween goodness. 40!!!
On top of all that, Jacques Torres couldn’t have been more wonderful with the kids. He obviously loves what he does, and loves sharing it. His team was incredibly gracious, patient and encouraging even though they were over run with sugared up kids (and parents.) They even packaged everything up professionally to take home.
And now, I think that little Jacques Torres store near my daughters’ school will never be just my place ever again. Also, I’m totally ordering the chocolate turkeys for Thanksgiving!
I’ve been a pinning maniac lately over on our KidzVuz Pinterest Board. It’s such a great way to share our reviewer’s picks with parents of tweens, and also a super fun way to curate the best of what we see trending for tweens on the web and on KidzVuz. Here’s our Valentine’s Day Board – we’re adding new stuff every day so follow us on Pinterest!
Nothing says holidays in NYC like the Yule Log. Because who builds a fire in an NYC apartment? If you grew up in the 70′s and 80′s in NYC the answer was WPIX (channel 11). Now it’s available on demand on TWC channel 1006 – in HD. So much better than hauling wood – and greener too!
It goes without saying that I love raising my kids in NYC. One of things I love the most is the incredible opportunities that are available to us just by living here. We’ve gone behind the scenes at the Metropolitan Opera (this actually fulfilled one of MY biggest wishes), been to the Origami Tree Lighting at the American Museum of Natural History, skated in Central Park and watched the giant Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloons get inflated a block from their school. I’m always looking for the unique and special experiences that will be memorable and make my girls fully appreciate where they live.
This year I’ve discovered the Mastercard Priceless NY events to add to my must do holiday list. I had the seriously fun pleasure of going to FAO Schwarz at 7:00 am – BEFORE it opened – to tour the store, get a first-hand look at all of the hottest new toys this season (many of which are featured in the KidzVuz Tween Gift Guide) and finally stock up on an awesome bag of candy!! I didn’t take my daughters since they had to be at school – but really, being an adult at an empty FAO Schwarz was plenty fantastic. I grew up in Brooklyn, and FAO was one of those magical places – like the Met, Lincoln Center and Broadway – that was reserved for a very special occasion, or a visiting relative. I am so happy that they did not close it and have maintained much of what makes it magical.
While this event was great, even better is that I have now learned about all of the incredible Mastercard Priceless NY events and I’m hooked. The NY Botanical Gardens Train Show before it opens to the public? Yes. A day spent with New Yorker cartoonists? Definitely. And there are so many more. I’ve become addicted to the site actually – checking off all of the experiences I want to do and trying to figure out how to make them all work in our holiday calendar! I think living in NYC is priceless – but it’s easy to lose sight of it sometimes. So, I’m loving a site that helps me remember why I choose to raise my kids here and help us take full advantage of all there is to enjoy!
Check out the unique offerings at Mastercard.com (they’re doing London and Toronto too – so if you live there check those out!)
I received a gift card and a whole lotta candy at the FAO Schwarz event but it in no way influenced this post (except for the sugar rush, which contributed to the rambling)
I’m all for bargain hunting, though Black Friday is pretty much my least favorite event in the world. Nothing is worth the crowds and madness (and pepper spray) in my book. But I do love to figure out exactly the right gift for the people in my life. There is nothing better than watching someone’s face when they open your gift and it’s PERFECT! Of course some people are easier to buy for than others – and one notoriously difficult group to buy for are tweens. Too old for your typical kids gifts, too young to be completely jaded and want only gift cards, you have to hit this group right on target or risk the eye-roll, or worse.
So, with that in mind we actually went to the source and asked our KidzVuz reviewers want they want this holiday season. Then we did some pretty cool scouting ourselves at Toy Fair, from our friends at The Big Toy Book, and at all of the cool tech and toy previews we’ve been to this year.
We made our list, we checked it twice (actually about 50 times but we don’t want to make Santa feel like a slacker) Then we threw in a whole bunch of amazing giveaways and came up with our gift guide. It’s so big we’ve broken it into three parts rolling out today, Monday and Wednesday. So hop on over to the KidzVuz.com parent blog and start making your list and entering our giveaways so you can be the gift giving champion of the season!
- Your child is the same person they were at two weeks old. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
- Your child will roll their eyes at you one day, and you will know they are right: you are embarrassing.
- You can’t protect them forever or everywhere, but you will never stop trying – your gray hair and worry lines will be your reward.
- By the time you figure out what you’re doing your child will move on to a new terrifying phase.
- And…No matter what you accomplish people will judge you by how your children turn out. Or at least all the other moms of the world will.
Feel free to add your scary mom truism in the comments!
We’ll be lighting the menorah on Wednesday night while leftover cranberry sauce still jiggles in the back of the fridge. Even the procrastinators have an excuse this year (not like Christmas which is always the 25th, I mean come on it’s not like you didn’t see it coming!) So for all of you who have been caught by surprise here is my no schlep, no ship gift guide when it’s gotta be there ASAP but you don’t want to get off your ASS to get it -or even pay for shipping. Good for Xmas (and those sneaky birthdays too)
Many of my specific suggestions are NYC-centric but you can take the idea and Google away locally!
1 – Museum or Zoo Membership: I love NYC for the incredibly rich array of cultural institutions that enrich every borough. But, no matter where you live chances are there’s a museum, zoo or other site that your loved ones would go to on a regular basis. Membership is a fantastic way to give all year long, plus it’s tax deductible and takes up no room in the house! Win-win all around. And sometimes they throw in a T-Shirt too!
2- Theater Tickets – It’s not just a gift, it’s an outing. Have a drama queen, a gleek or budding musical genuis in your midst? Have theater loving friends? Take them to a show. Many children’s theaters have subscription series so you can enjoy shows all year round. Or make a special day of it and throw in dinner or lunch as well.
3 – Groceries – OK – that sounds weird right? But who wouldn’t love their groceries covered at least once? Takes a big bite out of the family budget so not having to worry about it for at least a week is a true gift.
My Fave: Fresh Direct - It’s not just groceries, it’s wine and prepared food too – delivered exactly when you want it to your door.
4- Design Your Own Sneakers – I almost didn’t put this in because it is my go to gift of the moment. So, if you’re invited to the same parties as I am you are not allowed to give this – but if you don’t even know me you should jump on this! Send a $75 e-gift certificate to the fashionista of your choice and they can go online to design their very own custom Converse sneaks from tongue to sole and everything in between.
Also Check Out: Nike for pricier but equally fab custom sneakers, especially for narrower feet.
5- Geek Out Your Tot – Kids love to hear the same books over and over and over again. But parents, well sometimes reading The Night Before Christmas for the 1000th time can be a chore. Fortunately you can let Meryl Streep do the reading for you. Ruckus Media has created gorgeous storybook apps for the ipad and iphone like The Velveteen Rabbit and Tom Thumb that your child will pour over again and again – and you can read
Us Weekly The New York Times in peace. (See the GIVEAWAY below!)
6- Give for the Sake Of Giving – Find a charity and give in honor of someone. Or better yet, let them decide and pick with you. It’s a proactive easy way to embrace the meaning of the holidays.
7- Who Says School is Boring? – Have a friend or family member that’s dying to learn how to knit? Or ice skate? Or become the next Martha Stewart? If you have an expertise you can share then offer up your services! Or offer to pay for the class of their choice at a nearby gym, cooking school or community center.
My Faves: Institute of Culinary Education Recreational Cooking and Baking Classes & Rising Shutterbug private photography lessons for kids and adults to finally learn all the cool tricks your camera can do! (full disclosure – taught by my sister!)
8-Leaving on a Jet Plane or a Car – Travel is something they never outgrow. Give your miles or points to a family member or treat them to a trip (even to see you). Or how about a weekend away for your grown kids with babysitting thrown in? Just a thought. hint, hint.
9 – Say OOHHMMM – This guide is all about no stress so why not give the least stressful gift around? A SpaFinder gift certificate – emailed to their inbox of course. They can pick a spa closest to them from 100s of choices. And again, if you throw in some babysitting you eliminate half the stress before they walk out the door.
My Fave: Bliss Spa – They warm the massage tables and put paraffin booties on your feet. Heaven.
10 – When All Else Fails - The Amazon electronic gift card. It’s not original or sexy but it does the trick. One click and boom! it’s in their inbox ready to be spent. What could be better than a shopping spree on somebody else’s dime?
And now the GIVEAWAY!
You can win 5 Gorgeous Ruckus Media storybook apps for iphone/ipad? These are truly gorgeous apps that fully capture the beauty of classic stories with talent like Robin Williams and Meryl Street reading the texts. Your child will love them! Just leave a comment below telling me what your “Go To” gift of the moment is and be entered to win!
Want an extra entry? Follow me on Twitter and let me know you did here.
Contest ends December 8th.
Here’s a sneak peek at The Velveteen Rabbit:
Good luck! And check out my other giveaway for Petz Nursery 2 for DS
This post is part of a sponsored series from Ubisoft, celebrating “12 Days of Giveaways.” See below for how you can enter up to 12 times to win fun and family-friendly video games.
I am allergic to dogs, and cats, and rabbits, and hamsters…you get the idea. So of course my daughters are obsessed with all of those pets that will never be a part of our home. And trust me there are days where they’d probably trade me in for a puppy. But they have learned to transfer their obsession to the virtual world and Petz Nursery is one of their all time favorite games for the Nintendo DS. Just in time for this holiday season Petz Nursery 2 is hitting the shelves and they couldn’t be more excited!
In Petz Nursery 2 you can:
- Take care of up to 22 baby petz and help them grow. As newborns, your baby petz will need to be picked up and played with, and eventually taught to crawl. When night comes, help them fall asleep by rocking them or singing them a lullaby.
- Unlock never-before-seen exotic petz. Animals such as baby pandas, tigers, polar bears, and leopard cubs, you will be able to pamper wolf cubs, piglets, and 4 different breeds of penguins!
- Play activities with two babies or just one; but make sure you give both babies attention or one will develop faster than the other.
- Send your baby petz to the Petz virtual world, Petz World, and unlock exclusive exotic animals.
Sounds like hours of fun right? And all without the sneezing, itchy eyes and 3 am walkings!
Enter the Petz Nursery 2 Giveaway by leaving a comment below telling me a little something about your family’s pet – or why you don’t have one. A winner will be selected at random on Dec. 3rd as part of the UbiSoft “12 Days Of Giveaways” promotion. (open to residents of the continental US only)
You can also win Just Dance Kids for the Wii on Beccarama through Nov. 30th. Click here.
Want more ways to win great games for the whole family including Just Dance 2 (Wii), Battle of Giants: Dinosaur Strike (Wii), Petz Fantasy (DS) and Petz Nursery (DS)? Visit each of these blogs during our 12 Days of Giveaways from now through December 3!
I was selected to participate in this sponsored series by Ubisoft and Clever Girls Collective. I received a video game and compensation for my participation in this program. We believe in Blog With Integrity.