Category Archives: the city

Growing Up Brooklyn: Graffiti Party

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Hazel celebrated her 8th birthday in true Brooklyn form with a Graffiti party – – cue the Beastie Boys. We met up with Leaf from Graff Tours in the heart of Bushwick to learn all things graffiti.

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Leaf demonstrated different fonts and spray techniques while encouraging the girls to create their own designs.

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Several layers were placed on the canvas to create …

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Leaf taught the girls how to pose without showing their faces – in true graffiti artist form.

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Leaf also taught the girls the importance of having a tag name. They stood wide-eyed and accepted the challenge to create their own.

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Smile: Aviva

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Shine: Zuri

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Angel: Sophie

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Sun: Vivian

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Split: Hannah

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Happy: Noa

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Star: Hazel

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Brooklyn Tag Team.

why yes … there is a santa

girls with santa

i adore the ages of four + six when christmas magic is fully alive!

one of my favorite christmas traditions, since living in nyc, is visiting with santa at the plaza hotel. this year my father-in-law spoke to santa {while the girls were not looking} “reminding” him of their names. without skipping a beat, santa invited the girls by name to join him. watching the wonderment, excitement and the look on their faces after receiving a personal invitation from the big guy ignited within all of us a renewed sense of magic! this gentleman is thoughtful, engaging, calming and never in a rush. i will forever be thankful to him for taking the time to talk {and listen} to my girls.

i know as they grow older the magic {of santa} will look a bit different as they begin questioning the mysteries more deeply. i came across a letter written by author martha brockenbrough to her daughter lucy after she questioned who santa really was. martha’s thoughtful words and explaination are simply eloquent. while reading this letter i have cried with a mixture of saddness that the magic {as it had been known} was now revealed as well as with tears of joy that she is now empowered to embrace and share the magic with others.

i hope that you enjoy her words as much as i do!

may the magic always be alive within you! happy holiday!!

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Dear Lucy,

Thank you for your letter. You asked a very good question: “Are you Santa?”
 
I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.
 
The answer is no. I am not Santa. There is no one Santa.
 
I am the person who fills your stockings with presents, though. I also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way my mom did for me, and the same way her mom did for her. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)
 
I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the Christmas magic stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights.
 
This won’t make you Santa, though.
 
Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.
 
It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents, and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.
 
Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.
 
With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.
 
So, no, I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.
 
I love you and I always will.
 
Mama

*a version of this essay {designed as a picture book} will be available for purchase in 2015 by scholastic!

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filling my bucket {list}

katie

yesterday may go down in history as one of my most favorite days while living in new york! my friend heidi and i scored free tickets {thanks to 1iota} to the katie couric show with special guest sheryl crow. i have had a long standing love and and appreciation for both katie and sheryl and could not believe that i had the chance to see them both together live and only a few short feet away from me!

before the show, a woman that worked for the katie couric show asked if anyone knew a sheryl crow song and if they did to sing it into the microphone. i still can’t believe it … but holy crap … i volunteered! i sang a short bit of “c’mon c’mon” and the woman responded with “is that even a sheryl crow song?” she must not be a true sheryl fan because OF COURSE IT IS! i was waiting for sheryl to come out of the wings and back me up but to no avail.

i loved sheryl’s interview with katie. she inspired me to push the limits and to continue to seek out the things that will challenge + sharpen me as a woman, mother, wife, friend and creative. be sure to check out the show on december 5 on abc to see her interview, performance and of course look for us in the audience!!

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about me … about us

in case you missed it … the sprouse clan was featured this week on matilda jane’s blog! thank you to cj isaac of charlie juliet for spending the day with us in the city and capturing our family perfectly!

here is the interview …

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Q:  Please tell us a bit about yourself.  Where are you from and where are you now?

A: I am a southern girl recently transplanted to NYC.  Our family of four made the big move to the intimate community of Park Slope one year ago and I cannot imagine raising our children anywhere else!

Q:  I always love to hear about the incredible husbands that support the crazy schedule of a MJ Trunk Keeper.  What makes yours so special?

A: Matt is my best friend and greatest supporter hands down! Together we created and owned Abode – a home furnishings + accessories store in Knoxville, TN in 2006. Over the four short years of owning Abode, we welcomed our daughters {Sophie + Hazel} into the world while Matt continued to hold a full-time position as a television producer. Abode taught us many life lessons and reminded us how imperative it is to be in constant communication and to support each other unconditionally. Having past retail experience has allowed Matt to better understand the support that I need in Matilda Jane.

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Q: You’ve got two absolutely precious daughters!  Give us a glimpse into who they are.

A: Sophie {6} + Hazel {4} are the coolest gals I know! I have loved watching them grow and become young girls with Big dreams! Sophie loves to write and sing songs. She has a classic fashion sense while still making an outfit tailored to her. Hazel longs to be a cowgirl and definitely marches to the beat of her own drum. She has a free spirit approach to most things in life including her wardrobe, making it fun to see how her selections work in ways I would not have originally imagined.

Q:  If you could wear one item every day, what would that be?

A: I am in loving the midnight ruffle pants. – I wear them all the time! In fact, when talking to my girlfriend about Halloween costume ideas for herself she quickly replied, “well I can just throw on some Matilda Jane pants and go as you!” I may need to add some more staples into my clothing rotation …

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Q:  How did Matilda Jane find YOU?

A:  I have loved Matilda Jane from the time Sophie could fit into the clothes. The longevity and versatility of each piece has had me coming back for six years!

Q:  If you could have lunch with ANYONE, who would it be and why?

A: My mom. I was completely spoiled during the seven years we lived in the same city during my adult life. I miss her terribly and long for our impromptu mother/daughter dates.

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Q:  What are 5 words your friends would use to describe you?

A:  Passionate. Dreamer. Trend Setter. Listener. Creative.

Q:  Besides your family, what are you most passionate about?

A:  I have a passion for creating editorial through styling. Each summer, my sister-in law and I create a themed photo shoot involving our four kiddos and enlist the talents of a local photographer to perfectly capture each tyke’s personality. Each year these photos tell such a unique story of who are children are in that stage of life.

Q:  Share with us just ONE very important thing you do to try to leave this world a better place.

A: Instilling the importance of accepting others into my girls’ everyday life. This is one of the most important life lessons from my father that has made a huge impact on my life.  Throughout my life I have met and become friends with people that have a slightly different outlook on life than I do and because of that I have been inspired to grow, create and see the world through different lenses. I believe that individuality is what makes our world exciting and brings purpose to getting out of bed in the morning!

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Q:  What store makes your heart go pitter-patter when you shop in it?

A: The Brooklyn Flea. I love mixing old {sometimes what others may view as junk} with highly polished new home accessories. Our home holds many stories and is carefully/methodically put together so that our friends and family are able to easily join us in our story.

Q:  What do you value more?  Possessions or travel?

A:  Absolutely no question – Travel. Matt and I have always said that if we give our children anything it is that of a larger worldview. We walked through my grandparents’ home after they had passed away and marveled at the love that they had for each other and the memories that they shared while traveling the world together. Instead of investing in possessions that would eventually gather dust and then be sold at an estate sale they traveled – – seeing the world, visiting with family both in the US and abroad.  It is our hope to continue their legacy.

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Q:  If given the opportunity to have the day to yourself, how would you spend it? 

A:  I have recently come to understand how important it is to give myself “moments” in the day that are just mine.  These moments are long enough to spend time with a friend, organize my home, go to the gym or simply stare blankly at social media outlets. No matter how I spend these moments I hold them close because they are all mine and not dictated by the constant noise of “must-get-dones”.

Q:  If you could crawl into the pages of any book, what would it be and why?

A: One of my most favorite books is What Alice Forgot. I read it last year and have not been able to shake the message that it gives throughout showing unconditional love and forgiveness.

Q:  What is YOUR “must have” Paint by Numbers piece?

A:  My favorite dress out of the entire collection is the Rose Gold Jane Dress.  This dress gives a nod towards vintage. Giving girls a tailored and innocent look while having the freedom to run, play and discover new things.

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nyc past + present

today i discovered the work of marc a. hermann {a historian of the new york press photographers association} and love his brilliant juxtaposed photographs of nyc as it was then and is now – – bringing back to life the people and stories of this city’s past. marc focuses on historic crime scene photos from the new york daily news archive and then blends them with photographs from the same present locations. i hope that you find his work as intriguing as i do!

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{497 dean street, brooklyn}

edna egbert climbed onto her ledge on march 19, 1942. the news captured the distraught woman fighting with the police as she wobbled on the edge. the building is currently painted red, but remains nearly identical to the way it looked 70 years ago.

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{923 44th street, brooklyn}

the tree that stands in front this building is the only living witness to gangster frankie yale’s untimely demise on July 1, 1928. yale’s car slammed into the steps of the brooklyn home that day as he was shot to death from a car driving by.

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{park slope, brooklyn}

over 130 people were killed aboard the planes united airlines flight 826 and trans world airlines flight 266 in december 1960. the crash  destroyed some buildings beyond repair – the ones that still stand can be seen in this compilation.

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{137 wooster street, manhattan}

on feb. 16, 1958 there was a massive and fatal fire at the elkins paper & twine co. the building was leveled, but new commercial space now stands where the elkins paper & twine co. once did.

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{south street seaport, manhattan}

the fulton fish market in the south street seaport was engulfed in flames on feb. 26, 1961. these buildings still stand, in various states of occupancy, minus a few floors here and there.

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to view more of marc’s work visit his website.

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read all about it

ny books

one of the {many} great things about living in such an iconic city is that there is an abundance of stories centered around the neighborhood in which we call our home. i began collecting books based on new york city when prepping sophie + hazel for the {big} move.

sophie {now half-way through kindergarten … oh my goodness!} is becoming quite a good reader and i am finding that she is drawn to the books about her neighborhood + city due to the familiarity and sense of belonging that these books offer. this is new york, i live in brooklyn, natalie + naughtily and the super adventures of sophie in the city: all in a days work are full of wonder and imagination, bringing the magic of this city right to her fingertips.

below are samplings of these fine reads! if you have any other suggestions for my girls please let me know!!

this is new york
the charm and uniqueness of new york city was never more beautifully and whimsically created for children than in m. sasek’s this is new york. first published in 1960, his vision of new york nearly forty years ago still remains fresh: the hustle and bustle of times square, the ethnic neighborhoods, the awe-inspiring architecture. sasek captured the essences of new york that delight children and parents, many of whom will remember the book from their childhood.

i live in brooklyn
from days on the stoop, playing hopscotch and watching fireworks from the rooftops, to school field trips into the city, where zoos and museums await, michelle introduces readers to her favorite places and things to do. mari takabayashi’s diminutive scenes, busy and cheerful detail, bring the beauty and bustle of new york city to life for children all around the world.

natalie and naughtily
natalie and naughtily nopps live in a house on top of a big department store. natalie loves visiting every floor from top to bottom! naughtily? from bottom to top! one day the girls receive a note from their parents asking them not to play in the store that day! “today we shall go to the store to help!” they agree. evening gowns are on two, perfume and hats on three, coats on four … and on every floor there are customers galore. but will the girls really be any help? vincent x kirsch has created a splendid world for natalie and naughtily, in which every vividly detailed floor in the store has its own magnificent hue. readers will be enchanted by these two impish sisters, their very good intentions, and most of all by the hijinks and adventures they effortlessly conjure up in on one very busy day!

the super adventures of sophie and the city
come explore new york city with sophie as she travels to different worlds in her daddy’s office building with her trusty elevator! learn about fashion, design, weddings, and the glamorous life inside magazine publishing. even though sophie enjoys her time discovering new and magical worlds on each floor, she realizes it is more fun to share amazing experiences with the ones you love, your family. see new york city through the eyes of a curious, adventurous, and imaginative little girl!

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{food joints} chloe’s

chloes

my friend melissa and i stumbled upon this yummy destination after taking our kiddos to the macy’s flower show in celebration of one of the first warm{ish} spring days in nyc. we were merrily strolling down the streets of union square when we discovered chloe’s and couldn’t help but stop in this happy little shop and indulge in their soft serve fruit. {i’m still dreaming of their pear soft serve … mouth watering!}

chloe’s offers a cool new way to eat fruit – – their frozen goodness contains only 3 ingredients: real fruit, filtered water and a touch of organic cane sugar. if you find yourself in union square or the hampton’s – then chloe’s must be added to your culinary experience while in new york!

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stuff you should buy

stuff

it’s a mighty fine thing to witness neighborhoods creating opportunities to support their local creatives!

today my little ladies and i are heading over to ps321 to shop their annual holiday shop featuring over 90 local artisans.

if you are in or around the neighborhood today you should stop by between 10 am – 5 pm!
ps 321: 180 7th avenue {between 1st and second streets} brooklyn, ny

if you are not in the neighborhood you are still in luck because almost all of these lovely shops have an online presence as well! there are some really great finds  – – so be sure to check them out!!

here is a sampling of what i am looking forward to . . .

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hey santa … don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

santa's key

ahhh . . .  the age old question . . . how does santa actually enter the homes of good little boys and girls. our family believed that santa magically entered through our chimney – – we couldn’t explain anything past that point but at least we had narrowed in on a location.

upon moving to brooklyn, my little ladies began inquiring how santa will actually get in to our new humble abode since the only chimney in our building is located in the lobby. {as you can see … we have hung our stockings with care inside our bookshelf.}

thankfully my forward thinking sister-in-law gave us this {special} key that allows santa to enter with ease, leave the goodies under the tree and then kindly let himself out.

our christmas eve plan this year will be to leave milk and cookies for santa in the lobby by the chimney with the {special} key and hand-written instructions.

“it’s the night before christmas and we’re excited as can be. we’re leaving this out for you … it’s a very special key. you can shimmy down the chimney and tiptoe through the door. just use this key we left for you to find cookies, milk and more!” 

problem solved.

happy holidays!!

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27 Cupcakes

cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes.

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