TitterTot visits Playtime NYC

TitterTot today visited the Playtime International Trade Show in New York at 82 Mercer Street in Soho. Their 3rd edition of the show started on July 30th and will end tomorrow – August, 1st 2011. At the exhibit were apparel and accessories that can make traveling with tots fun and efficient. We talked to a few of the exhibitors and it was interesting that many were HongKong based companies that were stressing on the organic, lead-free nature of their goods. I was amazed to see that most companies are now able to use vegetable dies to create extremely colorful products for tots.

While the exhibition showcased some extremely creative designers and mom entrepreneurs, the shows Pop-up shop was my favorite. 100% of the proceeds from the sales at the shop were to benefit KIDS Japan Earthquake Relief. KIDS (Kids in distressed situations) is a global children charity that distributes new merchandise year round to help children and families living in poverty, it draws heavily on the generosity and concern of retailers, manufacturers and licensors whenever a major disaster occurs. In order to raise money on sale were:

  • Unique square cookies in multiple flavors titled “Labo Love Japan”. “Labo Love Japan” pastries are made by talented Japanese pastry chefs, chocolatiers based in France. The pastries were first created under the leadership of Haruyo Matsutani, Marnier-Lapostille Tsutsui and Anthony of Nichifutsu Shoji Co. Ltd, barely a week after the Japan Tsunami disaster to raise money for Japanese Red Cross.
  • Delicious cookies by a Paris bakery – ChezBogato
  • Small Red Dot poster collection. The collection consisted of limited-edition artwork created by French first-graders inspired by artist Minh Vo and the trials of Japanese children following the earthquake earlier this year
  • Limited goods from the show exhibitors like KicoKids were available for sale at the shop

Playtime-NYC is organized by Picaflor Inc. and features 70-80 international brands associated with children and maternity. Creative, fashionable, colorful and fun products in areas of clothing, footwear, jewelry, accessories, childcare and deco were exhibited. Playtime’s largest exhibit is held in Paris every year. At their 10th edition of the show in Paris about 350 brands participated from 2nd – 4th July of 2011.  Playtime’s Tokyo exhibit is considered the largest children and maternity fashion trade show in Japan.

It was a great exhibit and we will be blogging about the goods we thought would be very useful for parents and tots on the go!

Experience the delicate balance!

After I wrote my blog: Ingredients, a few friends were insistent that we actually put the thought of visiting a farm into action. I started researching farms around New York that we could visit with tots around 2 years in age. None of the little ones had been to a farm before and it seemed like they were finally ready for the experience. Remember the famous quote: “…. everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. ….we are all connected in the great circle of life.” Yes it is from The Lion King and this is my favorite part of the story. We can hope that our kids will understand this fact as it forms the basis of their future challenge, to create a sustainable world around them.

I found two farms that seemed most enticing in terms of family activities, it’s distance from New York and based on overall online reviews.

1. Alstede Farms in New Jersey: 45 minutes from downtown New York
2. Harbes Family Farm in Long Island: 2 hours from downtown New York

Both farms provide several family fun activities like pony rides, opportunity to feed livestock, pick-your-own, farm market, educational field trips, hayrides, etc. Harbes Family Farm also has a wine-barn to keep the adults entertained :)

Given similar activity options we picked the closer option in New Jersey and we were not disappointed at all, as evidenced in the pictures. Alstede Farm is very well laid out for families to enjoy each activity. Once you park your car all the different activities are right around you, you don’t have to walk much further from your car.

I was hoping that tots would pick their own produce and understand the source of fruits and vegetables they eat. Instead all of them gravitated first towards feeding the livestock, the tots and dads climbed the haystacks, enjoyed the pony-rides and then took a break for some delicious farm-made ice cream. The adults enjoyed freshly made cucumber and tomato salsa, a great low-calorie treat on a hot day. Of-course some of us enjoyed the burgers and fries. After a good meal, the tots plopped down for a kiddy wagon ride (wagons pulled by a tractor). After almost 3 hours  on the farm I could tell that the dominos were going to come crashing down, but then they spotted the corn-pit a great twist on the sand-pit. The tots played in it for an hour and we had to then pull them out. They had a blast, but did not make it to pick-your-own. The key to pick-your-own is to get to the farm at 9:00AM (or earlier) and enjoy it for an hour before the sun comes down on you.

Overall a fantastic visit and I was later wondering if I should try visiting other farms. Maybe not. It is important to track down one farm in your state that works for you and your tots, if you can visit this farm at-least 3-4 times during spring-summer and fall – it will be great source of joy and fun for you and your family.

Both these farms will be holding a corn maze adventures as well as pumpkin patch in the fall (September – October), don’t miss out.

Wouldn’t it be great if we can bring up our little ones on a farm – at least during the first few years of their life? Just so that they can understand the delicate balance in our ecosystem.

Ingredients – your kids must know!

Devam had just fallen asleep and as usual I was browsing through NetFlix for a good movie to watch. I came up on “Ingredients” – a documentary film about farmers and chefs that are creating a truly sustainable food system. The documentary caught my attention right away – it mentioned that for the first time in history, our children’s generation is expected to have a shorter lifespan than ours. The quality, taste and nutritional value of the food we eat has dropped sharply; we have lost sight of where our food comes from. Growing up in India there was a time when food tasted amazing (does not taste the same anymore), not because my mom was an exceptional cook, but because the vegetables tasted fantastic. I still remember the mozzarella tomato salad, the minestrone soup and the pasta I had in Florence, a simple meal had never tasted as good before. And the secret once again was in the produce, it was fresh, it tasted sweet and needed little seasoning. Unlike most super markets, local farmers markets are a great source of fresh foods.

Documentary trailer:

When I meet with fellow moms, one common complaint is around tots not eating fresh vegetables and fruits. I have observed my nephew and nieces grow-up around me and now I am observing my own son. Tots imitate their parents in every sense including their eating habits. If we can include more fresh vegetables and fruits in our diet – it is likely to improve our health and we can be good role models for our tots. We can also promote awareness around fresh ingredients, we can take our tots to farmers market in the city, visit farms over the weekends to educate them on the source of fresh, good tasting and quality ingredients that make a healthy meal.

It is June and if you live in the Northeast it is the right time to farm-educate your tots (if you live elsewhere check the harvest schedule for your location). Berry picking season has just begun and there are several farms around New York – in every direction. Long Island, New Jersey and Westchester have sprawling acres of lush farms where you and your tots can have fun picking your own produce, petting live stock and enjoy the hay rides.

Find a farm around you on http://www.pickyourown.org/

Pick a sunny day and have lots of fresh, engaging and delicious visit at your local farm.

Note: It is advisable to call before hand to ensure that the farm is accepting visitors and to confirm timings of tot related activities at the farm. You can check reviews of farms online before your visit.

The Lot @ the High Line

Category: Off the beaten path – NYC

Activity Type: Park Venue

Age Appropriate: 3 & Up

We visited The Lot at the High Line this past weekend for father’s day and it was a lot of fun. We took Devam’s grandparents with us they enjoyed it a lot as well. Located at the street level on 30th Street between 10th and 11th Avenue in Manhattan, the Lot features several public amenities including free events, family activities, public art, beer garden and high-end food trucks. You can also access the north-end of the High Line from here via elevator or stairs.

The free event (till July 5th, 2011) this month is Rainbow City, a surreal landscape of psychedelic scenery. The carnival-like installation is made up of 40 air-filled, brightly colored, inflatable structures. Devam (2 yrs old) was a little overwhelmed with the swift motion and size of the structures, but many toddlers as well as adults were having a great time pushing, jumping and connecting with them. Rainbow city invites you to become a part of a very energetic, happy and fun environment.

Rainbow City will be in town till the 5th of July, so make sure you go visit with your family.

Besides free events, the Lot also features a great eating area with high-end food vendors like Eddie’s Pizza, Tiam falafel & smoothie and the Taco Truck. There were several tables and chairs armored with shades. The area was kept extremely clean and green with recycling bins everywhere. The Standard Beer Garden under the High Line is a great place for dads to take break while the family takes a stroll on the High Line which is accessible via elevator and stairs from the Lot.
The Lot underneath the High Line makes for a great family break-time on weekends during the warmer months.