Sunday, June 30, 2013

Adventures in home exchange (AIHE) Day 3

Hola hola Barcelona!
It's our third day and we are almost Barcelonins (people who live here) .. well not yet, but we are very comfortable and feeling right at home.

Today's wake up time: 10.30 am

LoLo seemed to inherit Geoffrey's vacation ideology, that feeling truly on vacation you need to have sand in between your toes ... that's exactly what LoLo wanted .. the beach! The benefit of staying a month at one place and staying at a home (among so many) is that we don't feel rushed to do anything. On a "regular" one week - ten days trip I'd have a plan for every single day and would constantly have a FOMO (just learnt this acronym from a travel magazine ... fear of missing out) if I did not fulfill my plan. This time, we do what we want to do. We surely want to see all the famous places but we also just want to do what we want to do and today it happened to be the beach.

We took a tram to the ZOO stop and walked to what was the
Olympic village built for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. 
We walked by the giant headless fish, a work of Frank Gehry and headed for the beach. 

We strolled on the beach and collected rocks to be painted. 

The beach was crowded with with topless bronze bodies and people relaxing in their beach chairs. 

We stumbled upon a Japanese festival, where people could try on a kimono, beat a watermelon while blindfolded and drink Japanese bear. (I am not sure about the watermelon beating event ... we will find out next time we exchange homes in Japan, I guess). 

And what about this crooked house on the beach ... 

The teleferico had an hour wait so we rather headed towards the impressive looking W hotel shaped as a sail boat and found these shadows on the W's terrace posing like it was fashion week ... 

 Exhausted, tired and hungry we headed to a taxi and the port to take a ferry back to where we started off the day. No photos of the ferry ride! Momma was busy gulping down Coca Cola and concentrating on keeping down that calamari she had for lunch ... 

Then a ball almost fell on our head ...

.. but it didn't so more adventures in LoLoLand tomorrow ... 

What I learnt today about the differences and similarities between New Yorkers and a Barcelonins:

1. There is no such thing as a "quick lunch" here even .. once you sit down you SIT DOWN ... 
2. Both are inpatient species when it comes to crossing a street.  Green on the crossing light is really  just one of the colors of the rainbow ... 
The word of the day is MELOCOTON, which means peach!

Buenas noches amigos, 
lo(lo)v(i)e, LV 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Adventures in home exchange NYC-Barcelona (Day 1-2)

The idea of exchanging apartments always excited me. I love traveling and knew that my beloved (and sometimes hated) b&b's just won't cut it once we have children. Kids are needy (and some adults are also, but that;s for another blog entry). They need breakfast the second they get up, they want to take closet full of toys with them on a vacation and they go through clean clothes like you wouldn't believe. No matter how amazing (or expensive) a hotel may be, these services are not part of their marketing plan. We needed to find another solution for a vacation that would be affordable and would encompass all our needs and so I figured, a home exchange with a family with similar age children would be just what we needed.

I went on and within minutes found an apartment/family I liked. I signed up for a year long service, emailed the people .. aaand never heard from them :( Having been rejected, I abandoned the idea and did not return to it until 3 months later. This time I wrote a nice profile, managed to find impressive photos of our apartment and put together a profile describing what an amazing place we have. It felt a little bit like being a real estate broker and an online dater all in one ... I looked through profiles, studied photos, read descriptions of areas I've never heard of and finally found one that I felt connected to. The family emailed back within 20 minutes, we skyped the next day and now it's July and I am sitting behind their desk in Barcelona, while expecting them to arrive any minute to our homey digs in Brooklyn.

We are staying in Barcelona for the entire month of July and it is promising to be a real adventure for all of us. Our new apartment is in the are called Poblenou, which according to Wikipedia means "new people".  The closest big street to us is Avenida Diagonal, which has two bicycle lanes and a wide walking path in the middle with benches and people rollerblading, running and walking (or dancing like LoLo did today). We have a view of the Sagrada Familia, the cucumber building and Tibidabo from the glass walls of our 12th floor home.

Day 1: 
Having just arrived, we decided to take a walk to a supermarket, which is also part of a shopping mall. We are located in the middle of the Avenida Diagonal, which also has a mall on both sides.
Around the corner is a little playground, where we stopped and picked up wilted tree flowers and tossed them around ... so little is enough to have so much fun ...

The food store was just like any giant food store in the US, with a difference that their seafood section takes up an entire isle and it is so fresh, it actually moves around the display table (not kidding).

We stocked up on all necessary groceries and brought it home in a taxi. The one item we did not buy was toilet paper - having previously assessed the tp situation as "no need, have enough". This situation rapidly changed, as I found three rolls in one of the bathrooms all soaking wet, but carefully placed back to their place of origin. I cross examined the entire family about the event, but  there was no admission of the deed by anyone (though Lola has been smirking ever since. I am not sure if it's because of the TP or the chewy candy gone missing from my nightstand). 

We had three dinners. One at 5 pm, another one at 9 pm and yet another one at 1 am. We sat around the table eating Spanish bread and butter with tomatoes and loved it. LoLo thinks it's New Year's Eve all over again because of the late bedtime and the fireworks sew from our window. 

Day 2. 
Wake up time: 11 am! We are getting better at this! That's an hour earlier than the previous day! Decided to stay local, as we wanted to come back for an afternoon nap and were worried about meltdowns, crankiness and general unpleasant behavior due to jetlag of all parties involved. Glories is the other shopping mall on the opposite side of Avenida Diagonal and a few blocks away is Barcelona's most famous flea market ... Now, I love flea markets, but Geoffrey is repulsed by the idea of buying something old, used or smelly for that matter. I love the idea of old, used and non-smelly, so we went and did not find much beyond a bunch of men waving their hands at me not to take photos .. ooops I already did ... bad, bad tourist!!! (I can't help my impulses ... ) 

I could spend the entire day here! Watching people haggle, rummaging through photos, books, memories that once may have been somebody's treasures. I would want to interview all the items .. where they came from, who used them, what happened to the owner, why are they on the unwanted pile? Who would they want their next owner to be? How long have they been lying around this dusty market? It's a shame items can't talk ... (that reminds me of LoLo's baby clothes quilt that I should finish when I get back to NYC ... they will tell a story ... ). Anyway, I wasn't impressed by the goods, but still loved the atmosphere, as I always do at any market wether flea or fruit or flower any other ...

LoLo got Spanish fans that they kept fanning the world with them for the rest of the day .. You know, just so we "blend in" and don't look like tourists ...

We took a short nap for about three hours and headed out for dinner. What else to do on vacation besides scheduling your day around food? We are on our third round on octopus, second paella, numerous glasses of sangria and wine, bread with tomatoes and for those prosciutto friendly vegetarians (just like myself) there is always JAMON ... 

Walking through the old part of Poblenou we found this amazing balcony full of flowers ... 

... and a wall painted with strips of different color and these people hanging around ... 
We are learning one Spanish word a day and today's word is CANITA and means "straw"
(popote in Mexico, pitillo in Colombia and sorbeto en Puerto Rico) ...
no wonder my Spanish is so pobre :)))
That's all for two days ... we are LOLOving it here!

Adios, LV

Friday, June 28, 2013

Mermaid dress DIY

There are princesses, fairies and then there are mermaids .. I think these three categories pretty much summarize the world of any 4 to uhmmm 10? year old girl and beyond.

A few weeks ago I overheard a mom at LoLo's gym class talking with another mom about her 8 year old daughter's birthday and she was excitedly explaining how she bought a "real" swimmable mermaid fin for her on etsy. (Really??)  Who on Earth would want that???
Well, as my mermaid costume research before the Coney Island's Mermaid Parade shows, plenty of little girls would want just that! To my complete surprise, I also learnt that there are professional mermaid entertainers, there are people living (not sure how?) as mermaids and there are professional mermaid competitions to top it all! (I may find a career after all :).

Once in a while I contribute to a Hungarian magazine in Slovakia and about 5 years ago I wrote about the Mermaid Parade. I was fascinated by all the costumes, the energy and the atmosphere of the parade (the only one I've ever been to in NYC ... ). I especially loved watching families all dressed up pulling their little mermaids, crabs and fish in wagons down the street and sometime between drum rolls, taking photos and leaving my eyes on a dangling pair of painted bare boobs, I promised myself to walk in the parade with my future children one time.

And so I did ... and made costumes for it!

I promise, this is one of the easiest costumes you'll ever make ...

For the kid size you will need: 
1 tank top the size of the mermaid
1 cheap (but impressive :) sequin tank top
1/2 yard of shiny fabric (for the bottom ruffle)
1/2 yard of tulle  
clear sewing thread (not a necessity, but makes it easier to sew)

Kid size
1. Cut the tank top at the lines where you want the dress to start
2. Cut the sequin tank by the straps and aline the cutting with the back

Sew the bottom hem of the sequin tank to the botton of the white (top) tank. Stretch both materials while sewing, leaving the opening at the exact middle of the back. Sew the middle line to fit the little body and cut out the unnecessary part of the fabric ... 

The parts of the tank, where the straps were creates a fin look to the dress from the front and depending where your middle line will be sewn together at the back, a "V" shape from behind. 

Take your shiny fabric with the tull and ruche.
Once ruched together, saw to the bottom of the dress and voila!!! I used a clear thread, because it is stretchy and doesn't show through the fabric.

For the adult mermaid dress: 
1 well-fitting bra (I bought mine at Target)
2 cheap (but impressive) sequin tank tops
1.5 yards (or 2) of the cheap shiny fabric
1.5 yards (or 2) tulle
2 Michael's bags of shells
glue sticks and glue gun
sequin strip (or a cheap sequin collar - I bought mine for 6 USD at Forever 21)
clear sewing thread

For the bra, I started with cutting my collar in the middle and sewing the two parts to the top of the bra. Once that was done, I hot glued shells to the bra. This was so much fun! I could not wait to finish and try it on ...

I took the two tanks, sewed them together (while stretching them over my knees) with a nylon, clear thread. I cut one in a straight line, and the other I cut the way I did the small dress - with parts of the straps left. After the two tanks were sewn together, I stretched the straight top and sewed it on the bra. Initially, I was going to cut out the extra part at the back, but I decided that it looked rather mermaidish :) so I simplified my job and left it just like it ... Accessorize with pearls and hair fascinators (aso made from the same shiny fabric with shells glued on). 

And here they are ... mermaid Elvi and mermaid Lola ... 

A few fun photos from the day ... 

My instagramed little sailor who loves Lola ... 

And one more photo of the mermaid dress ... 

All I can say is, that now I know how Ariel feels in Disneyworld. Though we didn't make the paper, we did make it to numerous little girls photo albums, who wanted to take picture with "The Mermaids" and were all so jealous of mermaid Lola, who in exchanged smiled and gave away hugs as if she was one of those pro-mermaids. 

When I decided to do this, I said I will make this costume one time and will wear it again if we decide to attend in the future, but guess what??? My imagination is constantly working on my mermaid outfit for next year .. hahhh ... I see many more mermaid costumes in our lives (especially because we collectively had sooo much fun!)

Lolots of lo(lo)v(i)e to you all mermaids and merman! 

xox LV

P.S. Did you know that you can follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and even Instagram? :) My Insta name is babocanyc, Facebook up there with the logo and you can also search for lolovie on Pinterest! I am all over the place :))   

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jazz Age Lawn Party 2013 - Governor's Island, NYC

Two weeks ago on Sunday we attended the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor's Island, which is my favorite NYC summer event.  The style of 1920's is hard not to like and who would not want to dress in all that glamour of feathers and fascinators?

I've been on a lookout for THE dress since the last party and I eventually found it on the internet, hoping it would fit (and it did!). I did not want to wear my last year's fascinator and so I ordered one on amazon, just to have it confiscated by Miss Lola, who wore it with pride and all her glamour. I made one of feathers (not seen on photos very well) the last minute for myself. I also created a quick choker from a bead trim I bought at M&J Trimmings and we were ready for the charleston!

My secret dream is to dance charleston professionally (as it also goes for tango - or pretty much any other dance there ever existed ... ). This year we brought Jersey nana and papa with us also. We had them well prepared for all that was in store: wait at the ferry, long line to get into the grounds, sun without shade,  johny-on-the-spot .. as well as great people watching, live music, dancing and fun!

Papa enjoyed the event so much, that he even disappeared at one stage and to our astonishment was later found attending a peabody dance lesson with a young lady.  (Photo below).

We are planning to go again in August, as LoLo is asking about the event already! Anyone else?  

LO(lo)V(i)E, LV

Friday, June 7, 2013

Teacher's gift

Surprisingly (not) I like the idea of home made gifts. I don't always have time (or enthusiasm) to make them, but other times my mission becomes to surprise someone with a thoughtful and meaningful gift. LoLo's teachers were great all year around. LoLo loves the entire class including children and teachers (dress up corner, car tracks and worms from the garden - as for Lola - very much) and so I thought it would be nice to make a gift for the teachers from the entire class.

Recently, I've been productively using and getting addicted to Pinterest. Considering I didn't even understand the reason why one would want to have a Pinterest account at first, I turned 360 on the issue. I now have my lifelong craft plan cut out and I just fulfilled one ambition from the list.

I stumbled upon sharpie projects on porcelain. "Just draw on the plate/mug/vase with a sharpie marker, stick it in the oven at 350 F for 30 minutes and it will be done" were the instructions on most sites. Among many talents I seem to have, drawing is not one of them though, hence I like handprints, fingerprints and any other form of art where I do not actually have to use a brush. The idea was born! Fingerprints on a mug for the last day of school from the entire class!

We made three mugs - red, purple and a green one for the three wonderful teachers: Beth, Daisy and Nicole.

Besides the fact that they are just wonderful, any teacher who sends out this note below deserves a caterpillar mug :))))


Hi Families,

Just a quick note.  If the children mention a flood or water in the classroom, this morning (Monday) water came into the classroom from the street. The children did not get wet and we quickly got it under control.  We pretended we were on a submarine and a boat.  We ate our snack on the dry rug pretending it was a picnic.




The children in the class loved the idea of a "secret" project .. although I am not sure how long it took for someone to make it "not so secret" :)))

And here is me playing still life photographer ... 

It was so much fun making the mugs.
This could also be a great father's/mother's day gift. 

Night night, Lo(lo)V(i)e from us all, 

LV xox

LoLo's mini doughnuts...

I am trying out I- phone blogging today. It has been raining all day long in NYC and on our way from school I came up with plan B instead of the usual park trip.
We went food shopping!
LoLo could place anything in their baskets as long as it was a thumb up kind of food. See, we have divided all food into three categories - thumbs up, thumbs down and asi asi :)))


... this is what we bought ....

We did agree that pretzels were in the asi asi or more like the thumb down category, but we also talked it out and the fact that one can splurge once in a while ...

With all that shopping I decided to try to make mini doughnuts with cinnamon and sugar and chocolate ....

It was so easy to make! I definitely see more home made doughnuts in our future! These were not not the best donuts I've ever had, but a great first try .....

Lets  see  if  this worked ... LV

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Owl be there for you ..

Aren't owls just the cutest creatures? I can't help myself but go awww awwwww aaawwwww every time I see anything with an owl on it. Now, I am not obsessed (though I do have a pinterest board dedicated only to owls) but once in a while I think about creating something owl dedicated and sometimes I even go through with my owl plan.

I've been terrible with sending/giving baby gifts recently (recently = the past 10 years?). I always get excited for a new baby and run to the store, buy outfits of all sorts and then I don't send the gift  for ages. You guessed it! By the time I would actually get to the post office, the baby is walking or taking metaphysics classes in college ... So, no more outfits, I said! I will make an owl .. an owwwlll .. an owl pillow! Or even better, I will make three and gift them to some of my favorite baby girls (not including but leading with Lola but of course).

I decided to forgo inventing the wheel again, as there seem to be enough owl aficionados out there to be able to find a pattern online. A short search produced a free pattern found on  "Make it and Love it" blog by Ashley Johnston. The pattern is HERE. It really is easy. The only tricky part is inserting and sewing the side pannel.  You could get rid of it in theory, but the pillow would look much different and I much prefer this wholesome handsome owl look.

A portrait ...  

Other owls I adore: 

Crocheted owls by Bunny Mommy (pssst I am actually working on this one already)

I am excited to show you my projects in progress soon .. a crocheted blanket and a mermaid costume for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade for Lola and momma ... Lots of shimmer, shine and shells coming this way ... But not before I will share Governor's Island Flapper picnic photos and also hoping to lemonsqueeze a post from our 2013 LoLo's Lemonade stand
(coming soon to a street near you!) ...  

Ciao LoLovies, LV xox

P.S. I don't have my pinterest button here, but if you search for "lolovie" you can easily find me ... then you can adore 75 owls on my board and love me for collecting them all in one place :)) 

P.S. 2 . As always, if you've made anything owl recently or not so recently, please share with me.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Lola's Circus Dress

As many of you know, LoLo celebrated their 4th birthday two weeks ago. The theme of the party was Circus/Carnival. We all enjoyed it very much despite of the last minute rush to find an indoor place because of the cold and rainy weather.

My husband thinks I am crazy, but I like to make sure all the party details are in-synch including not only food, decorations, gifts and games, music, but also clothing ... I've made a few dresses for Lola in the past (yes, poor London) .. (Flapper Dress, Apron Bird Dress, Upcycled Winter Dress, Blouse to Toddler Dres)  and so I decided to persuade Lola that circus dresses are just as cute if not cuter than her huge pink tutu that she wanted to wear.

I bought an Apron Knot Dress pattern from Pitter Patterns and cut out the pieces one night, sewn it another day in about 2 hours. The instructions are very clear and well written, though the top part of the dress came out at least an inch wider than what it should have been in my opinion.

Lola loves the dress and after the party she wore it to the ZOO .. this is the photo from my Instagram taken just before leaving our home ... 

And some photos from the Bronx ZOO ... 

My next project is a sharpie plate, so stay tuned!

Have a LOLOvely week Everyone!

LoLOve, Elvi