It’s not just a bag…

Something really special landed on my doorstep this week.

This bag.

A big thanks to the Clever Girls Collective and Epiphanie  for this beauty.

And, it’s not just a bag – it’s a camera bag!

It arrived right in time, too. You see, we’re packing up and heading out in just over a week for a Thanksgiving panacea of turkey cooking and family enjoyment. That means this fantastic Epiphanie camera bag is going to really be put to the test as it will be packed with the laptop and tons-o-camera stuff.

Along with all that I’ve got to include goodies to keep us all entertained during the flight and extra clothes for the post-potty-trained tot.

Don’t worry, I’ll take pictures of it all to share with you later.

Meanwhile, head over to Epiphanie and check out these amazingly cool camera bags – and pick up one for yourself!


Recycled fall leaf wreath

I had big plans for today, but the weather took a turn for the worse, and neither the tot, or I, were very motivated to do much of anything. While grabbing a few paper bags to take with us to run errands for a couple of very important rainy-day things, (yes, here in California we bring our shopping bags with us) got an idea for a festive fall leaf activity.

Recycled fall leaf wreath.

This is an easy activity to do with the kiddies and can be accomplished with real leaves or lovely silk ones. The tot and I gathered a few from the driveway before the rain got too crazy to mix with the fabric ones I had on hand. Then it was time to get out one of those garbage bags and create the base for the wreath.

Start by inviting your child to cut the sides and bottom of the bag so she has two flat pieces of paper.

Now your child can flip the bags so the writing sides are facing her and trace around the outside of a large mixing bowl with a washable black marker and then place a smaller bowl in the center of that circle and trace around it, too.

Get those scissors back out and cut out the large circle and then the center circle from both bags. Your child can flip the bags so the writing is facing the inside in preparation for the next step.

Just those two circles of paper bag are pretty floppy, so to give it some substance, grab a few plastic bags and a hot glue gun to stuff things up. If you’re working alongside a younger child, you might want to help with the hot glue gun part. But, older kids can do this step on their own (just offer assistance as needed). Encourage your child to use the hot glue gun to put a 3-inch line of glue around the outside and inside edges of the circle and then stuff with a bit of the plastic bag.

Your child can keep glueing and stuffing until the entire base of the wreath is finished. She’ll probably need about 2 plastic garbage bags to stuff the whole thing. Once things are all stuffed up tight, she can use the scissors to trim any spots where the black marker is showing.

Next your child can start glueing the leaves around the wreath using small drops of hot glue. She can layer the leaves however she’d like creating a densely filled leaf wreath or just highlight a few of her favorites.

Once your child is satisfied with her wreath, finish things off with a length of ribbon for hanging the wreath on the front door of your home!

Happy fall!

Simple poached eggs


Some mornings all I want is a simple poached egg on an English muffin. It’s the most comforting breakfast, and really so much easier than you think. There are no fancy gadgets involved, no unusual cooking techniques, and only a few ingredients.

Start by bringing about 4 cups of water to a simmer in a deep saucepan. I like to add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and a couple of good shakes of salt to the water.

Now go pop your English muffin in the toaster and grab your eggs.

Use a spoon to stir the water in a circle, creating a spinning vortex of hot happy water ready for your eggs. The moving water helps hold your eggies together when you plop them in.

Crack one of your eggs right into the center of the saucepan and then add another. If you’re doing more than two eggs, you can gently stir the water again and add up to two more eggs without crowding the hot tub. Things aren’t going to look too sexy right now, but that’s okay.

Go ahead and use a spoon to gently prod the eggs, making sure they aren’t stuck to the bottom of your pan.

Oh – your English muffin is ready! Give it a slather of butter and place on a plate.

Your eggs have been happily simmering for about a minute or so. You may have noticed some floaty bits of egg in the water, which you can remove with a spoon if you’d like. Gently lift out an egg with a slotted spoon to test its doneness. If the egg is still a bit jiggly in the middle, you’ve got nice runny yolks. If you prefer a less runny egg, let things simmer for another 20-seconds or so.

Place your finished eggs on your English muffin, dust with salt and pepper, and have at them.

Sure, you could whip up a sauce to ladle over the top or put some perfectly cooked bacon under those eggs, but I’m a purist.

I just want perfectly poached eggs.

And these are just about absolutely perfect.

Randall Museum

The other day we met up with some friends at the Randall Museum in San Francisco. I’d never heard of the place, but the minute we started up the winding hill just outside of the Castro, I knew it was a winner. Alongside the museum is a great dog park with sweeping views of the city. You’re right under Sutro Tower, so you’re up there.

Along with an awesome dog park there are great trails, which once we hooked up with our friends, we wandered along with the kids. There are steep inclines, easy walks, and steps in some areas. So even kiddies my tot’s age (two) can easily explore and enjoy. Us adults whipped out our cameras and snapped away at the 360 views.

This was all before we even got into the Randall Museum.

Right when you walk into the space, you’re beautifully accosted with animals and educational displays that are both interactive and exciting for adults and kids. Rescue birds are strutting around, aquatic jellyfish and starfish are floating about, a swarm of bees are making honey right in front of you, a few furry friends are available for petting… And, it just so happened that five minutes after we arrived, an amazingly entertaining guy took a group of people outside to enjoy an animal discussion with a hawk, and owl, turtle, and snake.

(oh, my!)

My tot was a bit young for sitting and listening quietly, so we headed back inside for a private petting party with the duck, that really loved her shoes, and then explored the mock houses and other displays about the history of San Francisco. There were people playing with musical instruments in one room, kids building blocks together on moving plates replicating an earthquake in the hallway, families creating clay sculptures in the art room, and smiling and helpful attendants ready to lead you here and there.

And don’t forget the wood roaches…

Once we had run and explored and petted all we could, our collective walked down the slope to the awesome, sandy playground for some swinging and sliding.

By the time we headed out, we were all perma-grinned and blissed-out.

We had a fabulous time at the Randall Museum and are already planning another visit.


Check it out.

Comforting stuff: Homemade fire starters for the holidays

*This post is sponsored by Tempur-Pedic, the brand millions of owners trust to deliver their best night’s sleep every night. Enjoy our Buy 2, get 1 free pillow offer now and give the gift of custom comfort to someone you love.

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

I don’t know about you but as soon as Halloween is over I’m all about planning for the holidays. I check my favorite recipe sites, take notes, spend tons of time day-dreaming about all the tasty things to cook and bake along with the cool things to create for handmade gifts…

The majority of this time is spent while on the couch with my trusty laptop in front of a nice, raging fire.


I’m a big fire girl.

So when thinking about my favorite holiday comforts, having an amazing fire (and some fabulous food) are at the top of my list. This year I figured I could combine my love of making stuff with that cozy fire and create something really special…

Scented fire starters.

Here’s how to make them…

Potty trained!

I write this post with curled toes and fresh gray hairs. Sure, I may have aged 10-years in the last week, but, I feel I can safety say….

My child knows how to do her business on the potty!

There’s no way to express how awesome it is to not worry about changing the countless diapers (except for in the morning or after “nap-time”), or how fantastic it is going to the grocery store without worrying about someone having to call in your child’s mess on aisle five. OR, having to hose down, and leave in the sun, the car seat for the fifth time…



There’s no quick fix for potty training or perfect determination for “the time” for it to happen. Keeping up with clues from your tot helps, but also blocking off a chunk of time to dedicate to the whole process rocks everyone’s world.

I started out by picking a long weekend to the whole no diapers thing, but realized it needed much more attention than that. Like a whole week worth’s of attention.

So I made the decision and picked a week where the tot and I could spend some quality potty time together and figure things out. We started out by ditching the diaper the minute the tot woke up and then heading to the potty every 20-minutes during the day for about two days.

Yeah, sure, that’s a lot of work, but this is what saved my nice living room carpet and couch from smelling like tot-potty-training-pee.

During our pre-potting training, we took short walks around the neighborhood, explored the yard, and even took a couple of short car rides (some with horrid results). But, in time, before I knew it, the tot was yelling out, “I need a sitta the potty,” and my heart skipped a couple of beats.

For the next few days we took things to the next level by not going together to the potty every 20-minutes and seeing if she could be the one to figure things out. We had a few minor accidents, mostly while she was running to the bathroom.

And then, the biggie. Yup, she mastered number 2.

Buh-bye diapers!!!!

There’s nothing better than your child strutting to the bathroom and knowing there’s not going to be a huge mess as a result.

Well, not every time.

I’ve even left her favorite book next to the potty for those times she needs to sit a bit.

Sure, we’ve had our bits-o-drama, but, for the most part, going free-of-the-diaper worked best or us. This technique doesn’t always work for all kiddies, but it really was the best way to go for us. There was lots of time spent in the bathroom – and it really took the whole week. But, I can honestly say my tot is potty trained.

And that’s all kinds of awesomeness.

Smelling like a celeb

R to L: Bieber, Aniston, Spears, Beyoncé. Photos thanks to the hubs (aka Dean Lipoff)

I’ll admit that spending cash on something that’s going to make me smell fabulous isn’t high on my list. But, I’d totally love to walk by the husband (and the rest of the population) and leave an impression from the amazing scent I’m wearing. So when I had the chance to check out some of the hottest celeb perfumes as a Get it Guide Guru for Yahoo! Shine – I couldn’t wait to spray away.

Here’s what I thought…

Fine art for kids: Shaping with Auguste Herbin

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

There’s nothing like a colorful collage of shapes that creates an eye-popping and exciting artwork. The other day when the tot awoke from her not-so-blissful non-nap time, instead of turning on the TV we attacked her play area trying to make sense of her random toys and such. While picking up all her wooden blocks it reminded me of an artist that used those simple shapes to create famous artworks of his own.

Auguste Herbin was buddies with Braque and Picasso, exploring all the excitement of Cubism and hard-edged shapes. While living in Paris, He hung with his friends while creating abstract and colorful artworks that turned those simple shapes into something really special. With his use of pattern, rhythm, and balance, Herbin combined his exploration of Impressionism and Fauvism into his form-filled paintings.

After putting those blocks on our work table, I cozied up with the tot to take a closer look at Herbin’s paintings. Even though my daughter’s only two, she throughly enjoyed looking at the paintings and calling out the shapes she recognized. Older kids can check out Herbin’s use of pattern and repeating shapes and colors to create his balanced paintings.

Now get out a sheet of white paper along with a piece of scrap paper to put some blobs of paint. Your child can use the primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) along with black and then explore color theory by mixing to create other colors – such as orange, purple, or green.

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Invite your child to tap the wood blocks in the paint and then arrange on the paper, using a favorite Auguste Herbin painting as inspiration. Don’t have any wood blocks? Your child can cut shapes out of cardboard or use the tops or bottoms of bottle caps, yogurt cups, or tupperware containers.

Encourage your child to continue tapping and pressing the shapes until the whole paper is covered along with thinking about composition and balance. She can create a few patterns or areas of repeated color to move the viewer’s eye around the artwork.

Now your child can think about overlapping colors and shapes, just like Herbin did. Sure, she can go crazy and overlap lots and lots, or just select a few shapes to highlight with an overlapping shape.

Once the artwork is dry, your child can display her finished Auguste Herbin artwork in a spot that needs a bit of color and excitement!