Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What makes kiddos smarter

Would you like to know the secret to raising your children the best way you can?

Here is a yet another good read by Eric Barker on what makes children -- from babies up through the teen years -- smarter, all backed by science.

Summing up the 10 steps, Barker notes "intelligence isn’t everything; without ethics and empathy really smart people can be scary." Which is so so so true in this world.

Then he also cites how P.J. O’Rourke once said:

"Smart people don’t start many bar fights. But stupid people don’t build many hydrogen bombs."


In the meantime, here are the boys that Sung and I are really praying and hoping to raise as God-loving, compassionate, and diligent young men:

I can't tell whether they're brilliant yet but they sure are two very happy little guys. (And that is truly enough.)

Monday, April 27, 2015

World's best tomato ketchup

Surprisingly, this 365 brand organic ketchup from Whole Foods is a total winner in our house.

Curious to know what the ingredients are? :^) Here you go:

Organic tomato puree, organic evaporated cane juice, organic white vinegar, salt, organic onion powder, organic spices.

Nothing else.

(I mean, with the number of double dipping the little hands can do with a single stick of french fry, no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives is always a great thing, right? It's almost as though these guys eat french fries so they could eat ketchup with wild abandon!)

Best of all, it's all the goodness for just $2.19!

(An avid breakfast-eater and his hands)

That's all for today.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

How to cut onions without crying

I'm always a weeping mess whenever I'm chopping or dicing onions, so you can say that I have tried all the onion-cutting tricks known to mankind. (I mean, I even own these onion goggles! Need I say more...)

Nothing really worked for me though and because I would tear up so much very single time, it was becoming quite frightening for my children. (Those poor little guys... "No, seriously, mommy is not crying right now! Mommy is OK! I know this doesn't make any sense to you right now but... It's the onions!")

And then I stumbled upon this craziest, easiest trick.

Are you ready???

Turn on your gas stove when you're handling onions.

Yup, that's all.

I actually have no clue where this idea is found on the World Wide Web so I don't know how this works exactly, but I'm pretty sure the gas somewhat diffuses the onion enzymes in the air... (OK, that is solely my own theory so do not quote me, please. ;^)

(Image from The State House File.com)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How to cut watermelon for little folks

Am I the last one to find out about cutting watermelons this way?!

It totally makes sense.

I wish I knew sooner but better late than never, right?! :^)

(Image from U Try It)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Self-sufficient people

Collin and Aaron on a lazy Sunday afternoon a couple of months ago when it was too freezing to play outside...

...just watching TV and helping themselves to some fresh strawberries (washed, of course) straight from the fridge.

(Aaron usually is the fridge bandit, despite his young age. No big deal.)

Disclaimer (haha): Sung and I always, always handpick what they can watch on TV. We don't like the ads so we usually just turn on Netflix or Amazon Prime for them. It's been perfect because if you use Chromecast, you can stream most things on your computer onto your TV. It's life-changing! ;-)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mumford & Sons

I don't think I've had a favorite, favorite band since U2, really.

Well, I've known these guys since "The Cave" days back circa 2010, but when Sung and I saw them perform live on SNL the other weekend (isn't SNL the best), I don't know about Sung, but boy, I couldn't have been more excited for their new album to come out on May 4th!

(Yes, I've watched this video like, 17 times in a row just now.)

I also just found out that they're coming to Coney Island on June 2-3 (I'm going on the 3rd), so I shall see whether Sung might want to come along! :^)

Also, has your perception of a celeb changed dramatically depending on whom that celeb marries?

Well. Marcus Mumford married Carrey Mulligan in 2012...

...and they are the sweetest couple ever. They are so young... Aren't they so handsome together?!

I've always thought Carey Mulligan is a great actress. If you haven't seen her in "An Education," please do so right away!

(Photo from The Daily Mail)

That's all for today.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A very cute store+some really great deals!

Have you heard of this lovely shop called Smallable?

Well, there are some real cute designer toys on sale right now!

Some of my finds, all under $20:

Palomar crumpled city map for New York City (100% waterproof!), $9.09 (They also have Paris, Berlin, and London :o)

Modello cardboard fire truck, $12.86

And a patrol car, $5.06

Djeco mobile, $9.74

Paperpod cardboard castle, $22.73

Locomotive train track, $12.12

Norev racing car set, $12.88

Makie polar bear rattle, $14.62

DwellStudio stamp set, $18.94

I supposed I'll be stocking up for a certain someone's birthday...

Happy shopping, everyone!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How to find work-at-home jobs

Have you heard of these two phenomenal women (who are also working moms!) who created a nifty website to help other moms find work-at-home jobs???

Yes. You read it correctly.

When PowerToFly, a job-matching platform exclusively for moms at home launched in August last year, it was targeted primarily toward women in tech. Since then, "it’s had tens of thousands of women across multiple industries register for the site and apply for jobs with nearly 700 big-name employers like Buzzfeed and Hearst" and now, there is a myriad of jobs to be had, it's quite amazing!

(The company also launched its own app, PowerToFly Connect, last week: it "serves as a sort of social network and news site for this new community of remote workers.")

I am a work-at-home mom myself so their mission -- to give the women "the flexibility they need to raise a family and pursue their careers at the same time" -- really truly struck a chord with me.

Kudos to the ladies for their awe-inspiring initiative!

(Logo of PowerToFly)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A beautiful print shop

How lovely is this print shop by a Ralph Lauren art director Sarah Tolzmann?

All images below are from the print shop; please also check out Sarah's fabulous blog Note to Self:

Have a gorgeous Monday!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The most compelling Kickstarter campaign ever

"A guitar is designed to be strummed; piano keys are pressed; drum pads are tapped; violins are bowed. But what if a single instrument could be played with any of these techniques?"


If you have ever wanted to learn to play a guitar, violin, bass, banjo, ukulele, piano, or the drums (and the list goes on) but just don't know where to start or how...well, the ever-phenomenal Kickstarter has just the wildly amazing musical invention for you (that now has only 3 more days to go on its funding campaign! Go back the project before it's too late!).

Some tremendously genius folks at Artiphon have come up with a single instrument device called the Artiphon Instrument 1 that lets you "play any instrument, style, and sound" and "adapts to the way you want to play," no matter your style and skill level.

You can basically "strum a guitar, bow a violin, tap a piano, loop a beat – on a single instrument" with just your fingertips, and even "assign a different instrument to each string; for example, play a bass on the bottom and a guitar on the top."

Isn't this such a mind-blowingly awesome concept?!

And of course, the compact, sleek, and portable design really deserves a design award. I mean, look at how totally handsome it is...! :^)

(All images from Artiphon's Kickstarter campaign)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How to make good small talk

(Image from The Wall Street Journal; click to enlarge)

The Wall Street Journal reports that we are getting less and less good at the art of elegantly starting, sustaining, and stopping conversations. (With strangers, maybe, but even with friends and family!)

It says that so much of our lives have moved online, we've become less adept at in-person interactions.

(I myself am guilty. I sent out a total of 6 e-mails and exchanged 178 text messages, and spoke in person with just maybe 11 people all day today: three of them were my family; two of them were Starbucks baristas; four were my kids' teachers; one was my bank teller; and another person was a parent at Collin's school.)

In the WSJ article "How to Be a Better Conversationalist," Dr. Bernardo J. Carducci, the director of the Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast, notes the following key steps that can help develop our conversational intelligence:

-- "Getting Started" stage: You signal your desire to talk with a simple opening line based on something both of you are observing or experiencing in your shared surroundings. ("Hot enough for you?")

-- "Personal Introduction" stage: You should mention something about yourself, state your name if appropriate and provide hints for topics to talk about. ("It seems like the whole city is on vacation this week.")

-- "Pre-Topical Exploration" stage: You and your conversation partner are looking for common ground. This is a good time to ask questions, and to refer back to and build upon things said earlier. ("Did you get a chance to get away this summer?") When the other person introduces a topic, you should respond—or quickly offer an alternative.

-- "Post-Topical Elaboration" stage: Your job is to keep the conversation going. "Good conversation is topic-building," says Dr. Carducci, so you should make links between subjects. ("I took a 'staycation' and saw some excellent movies.")

(The article adds that as in every stage, you should be careful not to talk too much but don't let the other person hog all the airtime, either. If this starts to happen, mention something about yourself when he or she takes a breath.)

-- "Wrap Up" stage: Here, you signal that the end is near and show appreciation ("Nice chatting with you.") Demonstrate that you were listening by summarizing highlights of the conversation ("Thanks for those movie recommendations.") Look for a way to stay in touch, if you would like—offer a business card or ask if the person is on Facebook.

Great tips, right?

(For Dr. Carducci's book "The Pocket Guide To Making Successful Small Talk," click here.)

Favorite toy from Restoration Hardware

Did you know Restoration Hardware always has some real cool toys, games, and little gadgets for folks of all ages?

It has, over the years, become one of my no. 1 destinations for small gift ideas or whenever I need to buy a nice gift for a young person.

As their reputation holds, toys and gifts I've gotten from Restoration Hardware have all been well-made, good looking, and never flimsy, which is what a lot of kids' knickknacks tend to be.

Like, this one, which was a ton of fun for Collin back in the day (when he was about 2 1/2 years old, in love with his first lightsaber):

A Superhero in a box! (On sale right now for $22! :o)

Isn't this such a cool gift idea?

I have to say, I was so pleasantly surprised at its high quality. (If you have ever bought a children's Halloween costume with such sub-par craftsmanship that you absolutely didn't mind throwing out your $45 purchase after only single use, I think you know what I mean... ;^)

(Image of "Superhero in a Box" from Restoration Hardware; there is a massive sale going on right now so stock up!)

Monday, April 6, 2015

A better time to travel to Europe?

The news of the euro falling to a near 12-year low against the dollar is truly shocking but has also gotten Sung and me thinking... Thinking about going to Europe with the kids.

(Because the euro will recover soon -- and it should, of course -- and we will always want to travel to Europe, perhaps now is the right time?)

It would be quite special because we have never been to Europe together since our honeymoon (in Greece) back in 2007!

(Yup, that's me, 2 babies+some 40 lbs. ago. I'm not proud to admit that I never lost the baby weight, but my life is what it is now and I'm happy and grateful to be healthy and strong. :^)

I wonder where we should go though...with two boys...... I've been reading some uber amazing travel posts by my most favorite bloggers here, here, and here, but I don't think I'm going to be half as graceful, calm, or classy (not sane for sure, to be completely honest) when I'm traveling with my children.

Believe it or not, we did Seoul (twice!), Orlando, Nashville, Hawaii, Poconos, Boston, and DC+Virginia so far and...do you see a single post on any of our travels? (OK, I'm half kidding. I'm going to get my act together and do some posts on our travels soon. :-)

Also, did you know that Chanel hiked the prices of their more coveted bags in Europe because of the falling euro? So much for getting a Quilted Boy Bag while I'm in Europe. Ho hum!

Friday, April 3, 2015

7 things every kid should master

Leading psychologist Susan Engel's brilliantly insightful article for the Boston Globe detailing the seven abilities and dispositions that kids should acquire or improve upon while in school is just so heartwarming.

Some of the capabilities she noted were obvious; but some were actually not that intuitive (even though I've been a parent for a while now) so I was real happy to find out what they were. :o)

For Susan Engel's book "The End of the Rainbow: How Educating for Happiness—Not Money—Would Transform Our Schools," click here.

(Image from Small Fly)

One cool RC toy for (young) boys

Did you know that this RC Hot Wheels flying car actually does fly so...well???

You can actually fly it quite high and the remote control works wonderfully. Yes, we were totally surprised!

Incidentally, Amazon has it for $14.48 (instead of the $60+ we paid for it last year!) right now so do check it out!

(Just pics of us hanging out at a nearby high school parking lot on a lazy Saturday afternoon when we didn't have anything going on... :^)