Gingerbread Houses – a Unique Take

Though I’m terrible at making and decorating gingerbread houses, they’re awesome. While in Tucson last week, this western town at display at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. If you like theses, you’ll want to check out these offerings on Red Tricycle and the gothic Notre Dame reconstruction, via the Star Ledger.
Tracks of candy and pulverized cookies. Fondant and candy decorations.
The black and red in the background is the holiday Oreos, twisted apart. That’s a lot of food coloring. In the foreground, a lot of gingerbread people. Continue reading “Gingerbread Houses – a Unique Take”

Fun New Toys This Season

The kids and I visited a toy show recently and got to test out some new products. I wanted to share our favorites with you.

I thought my kids were too old for play dough, but it turns out they’re not. This Yummy Dough was a surprise hit. Combine the ideas of play dough with cookies, and you get an edible play dough (you can eat it raw or baked). It has no butter in it, and almost all natural coloring (the only color that isn’t 100% natural is the blue, which has a few drops of dye). The other color comes from things like tumeric and beets. It’s a German product being introduced in the U.S. by two parents. The dough is $12.95/container, and you mix it yourself to make it fresh. Each container carries 4 colors in separate packs – just add water. It’s pricey enough you may want to give it as a gift or use for special play dates, though I have a buy one, get one free code good through January 7, 2013 if you buy from their Smarty Parents website. Use code BOGODOUGH at checkout. I’ve purchased color cookie dough before, and it tasted terrible. The Yummy Dough, while not something I’d choose to serve guests, tasted okay and the kids liked it. A neighbor sampled the leftovers that we brought home, and he thought it was great.  Continue reading “Fun New Toys This Season”

Union Square Holiday Market

If you’re looking for a unique holiday market with high quality vendors, check out the Union Square Holiday Market which runs through December 24th, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. More than 100 booths have a variety of items, from gourmet foods to soaps, from hats to dog clothing, from toys to jewelry. My daughter and I spent a leisurely 2+ hours strolling from shop to shop, buying a few gifts and nibbles. Here’s what we saw:

The Union Square Holiday Market. Yes, it’s crowded.
Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan 2012
Copa Soaps smell so good and are a good deal at $5/each. Nice gift box assortments too.
Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan 2012

Continue reading “Union Square Holiday Market”

Contest: Halloween at the New York Botanical Gardens

How do you like to spend Halloween? The New York Botanical Garden has a haunted pumpkin garden. You can win 4 tickets to go – info at the bottom.

I carved this myself! Ha ha, just kidding.

I haven’t been to the New York Botanical Garden (but the rest of my family went a few years ago when I was at a conference). They loved it. And this event looks like fun. Lots of carved pumpkin sculptures.

It runs from October 6-31, and has tons of different kid-friendly activities. The Haunted Pumpkin Garden is located in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, open daily with guided activities from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekends. That might include a parade, dissecting owl pellets, potting buckwheat seeds to take home or decorating science bags for fall collections.

On other days there are pumpkin carving demonstrations, a pumpkin party, a pumpkin carving weekend, carving workshops, and spooky nighttime adventures.

See the whole schedule here.

Pumpkins greeting you at the entrance to the gardens.

Tickets are $20-25/nonmember adults, $8-10/nonmember kids, and $15/members. Prices vary depending on the date (there’s no “one price” on the website – it’s a little confusing).


Want to win a 4-pack of tickets to use any day from October 6-31? You’ll have access to the rest of the gardens as well, including a narrated tram tour and other exhibitions. Post an entry below stating your favorite Halloween tradition. Also leave me your email address, so I can let you know if you won. If you don’t want to put your email address below, still leave an entry, but email me telling me which entry is yours, at blog (at) jerseykids (dot) net. Entries must be received by Saturday, September 29 at 6 p.m., and you must reply to my email within 24 hours or I’ll move on to the next person. Winner will be chosen using

Ocean City – Highlights with Kids

Just got back from a few days in Ocean City, which gets accolades as the most family-friendly town, and best boardwalk on the shore. I don’t have much to compare it to, but we had a great time and indeed, it was a great boardwalk. Thought I’d do a photo highlight of the boardwalk.  Of course it rained while we were there, so the boardwalk photo is gray.

We didn’t make it all the way down the 2.5 mile boardwalk, but we made a dent. Continue reading “Ocean City – Highlights with Kids”

Jen A. Miller’s Family-Friendly Guide to the Jersey Shore

We’re excited at Jersey Kids to feature a Q&A with author Jen A. Miller, whose second edition of Explorer’s Guides –  The Jersey Shore:Atlantic City to Cape May, a Great Destination, just came out. We asked her about some family-friendly Shore topics.

Q: What are the best family-friendly shore towns?

A: Ocean City is built for families. It’s a completely dry town (not even BYOB!) and its boardwalk is built for people who want to stroll with a stroller or two. The ride piers cater to families, too. Sure, your teenagers will find some thrills and spills, but there’s tons of stuff for the littler ones, too.

Q: What are the top 3 fun/unique places on the shore to visit with kids?

A: Take them for a ride on the Carousel at Gillian’s Wonderland Pier in Ocean City. This is one of the few places where you can reach out and grab the golden ring from a carousel. It’s a gorgeous piece of art, too, that you can ride!

Silverball Pinball Museum in Asbury Park.  This place is amazing. For a flat fee, you can play the machines inside this pinball museum, which is located right on the boardwalk. VERY popular with parents, too!

-If they’re up for it, I’d take them to the top of the Cape May Lighthouse. You can’t get better views. And it’s an easy way to have them expend some energy 🙂 Continue reading “Jen A. Miller’s Family-Friendly Guide to the Jersey Shore”

Boston – What the Kids Like to Do

We had a plan for what we’d do and see in Boston. It was educational. It was cultural. It was physical ( lots and lots of walking).  The highlights for the kids, however, were not the ones we planned for them. They did not love the Freedom Trail. They did not love seeing Daddy’s alma mater and hearing fascinating stories of the building donors and founders. Here’s what they’ll remember from Boston:

#1. These are doors leading into and out of the Boston T stops. They open in a funny way – going in, then up. The kids found this endlessly amusing.

#2. The vending machines. Our hotel (the Midtown Hotel) had an endless supply of interesting vending machines, like this one that Continue reading “Boston – What the Kids Like to Do”

NYC Holiday Fun with Kids

New York City is such a great place to visit in December. If you’re going to New York City with the kids, here are our ideas for what to do to make it festive.


Of course you’ll want to see the tree at Rockefeller Center.

Just outside you’ll find Sak’s Fifth Avenue, with sparkling snowflakes (coordinated to music) and window displays. Also with winter window displays: Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdales, Barneys, Macy’s and more.


Rockefeller Center has a tiny rink, but it’s so picturesque. Enter from 5th Avenue, between 49th and 50th. Skating is first-come, first-served and you can skate for as long as you stay there. Expect waits up to 90 minutes, unless you skate in the weekday mornings. They’re open on Christmas Day. Continue reading “NYC Holiday Fun with Kids”