My favorite park, today and 79 years ago today!

Top Photo:
Washington Square, Looking North (April 16, 1936)
photo by Berenice Abbott source

Bottom Photo:
Washington Square Park, Looking North (April 16, 2015)
photo by Carina Zimmerman

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American jazz singer and songwriter Billie Holiday was born April 7, 1915- 100 years ago today!  Her unique vocal style and personal story make her one of the most influential and captivating performers of the 20th century.  Celebrate “Lady Day” by watching and sharing these three spell-binding performances today!

“The Blues Are Brewin’” This performance with legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong is soothing and sultry. Perfect rainy day music!

 
“Strange Fruit”: This powerful song is unforgettable and this live performance is just as haunting.

 

“Fine and Mellow”: This classic 1957 performance features talented jazz musicians like Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ben Webster, and Gerry Mulligan alongside Lady Day.

 

photo source

This picture was taken by one of my favorite photographers, Berenice Abbott, 76 years ago today!

View of Lenox Avenue, Harlem, at 135th Street, showing businesses, pedestrians and shoe-shine stand.
March 23, 1939 by Berenice Abbott

photo source


This past weekend I attended both the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival and The Seed Experience Market.  I had such a great time, met inspiring people, tried amazing vegan food, and spent way too much money!

On Saturday, my business (TLB Music) joined The Solutionary School at the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival to lead a “Compassion Rocks” music class for the children at the festival.  It was so much fun!  We sang songs about animals, love, compassion, and world peace while the kids played on drums, shakers, and bells and we even drummed together on the Djembe:
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Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904 in Springfield MA- 111 years ago today! His children’s books, written under the pseudonym Dr. Seuss, are unlike any others, filled with completely unique stories and characters, always delivering timeless, inspiring messages.  Here are 10 of my favorite quotes to read and share in honor of his special day.  Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

 
1. “Today you are you, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is you-er than you.”

2. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

3. “Only you can control your future.”

4. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

5. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

6. “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

7. “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

8. “You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”

9. “If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”

10. “And the turtles, of course…all the turtles are FREE. As turtles and, maybe, ALL creatures should be.”


These activity sheets are perfect for beginning violinists! Use the guide to teach the basics of bowing (up vs. down bow) then practice on open strings with the sheet music.  Click on either image below to download the free, printable PDF:

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I woke up craving spicy food so I decided to dedicate today’s post to spicy, satisfying vegan recipes! These 5 recipes are filled with nutritious ingredients, metabolism-boosting spice and tons of flavor.  Don’t they look delicious??

 
1. Easy One-Pot Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles {vegan, gluten-free} by Delightful-Delicious-Delovely
***view the recipe***

2.  Gobi Manchurian: Fried Cauliflower in Spicy Sauce {vegan} by Sinfully Spicy
***view the recipe***

3.  Kung Pao Chickpeas {vegan, gluten-free} by She Knows
***view the recipe***

4. Best-Ever Quinoa Chili {vegan, gluten-free} by Making Thyme for Health
***view the recipe***

5.  Simple Bean & Veggie Tacos {vegan} by Craftsy
***view the recipe***

Did you know that January 29th is National Puzzle Day?  I love puzzles!  I snapped the picture above on New Year’s Day, at the start of our 1000-piece challenge.  Puzzles give your brain a fantastic workout- making them extremely beneficial (for both kids and adults) and SO satisfying to complete!

Cognitive Skills:  When kids work on a puzzle, they practice identifying colors, letters, and develop spatial awareness.  Puzzles also encourage kids to work on their memory.

Hand-Eye Coordination:  Getting the pieces to fit just right requires this valuable skill!

Fine Motor Development:  Picking up and placing puzzle pieces benefits fine motor development immensely.  The smaller the pieces get, the greater the challenge!

Problem Solving:  You have one goal in sight when doing a puzzle.  This requires children to think logically and come up with a plan to complete the task!

Social Skills:  Working in a group to complete a puzzle encourages kids to practice sharing, taking turns, and working in a team to achieve a common goal.

In honor of today’s holiday, I put together a list of some of my favorite puzzles for toddlers, big kids, and adults.  The toddler puzzles by Melissa & Doug have withstood years of play in our playspace and music studio’s lobby- I highly recommend them.  As kids get older, increase the number of pieces and decrease the piece size to keep up the brain-boosting power of puzzles!

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Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn Heights
January 21, 1978 by Dinanda Nooney

photo source

One of my favorite endings to chilly Winter days like today is getting cozy with a cup of hot chocolate on the couch. These recipes are delicious, dairy-free, and made with natural ingredients like cashews, almond milk, coconut milk, dates, and agave.  For an extra treat, top your hot chocolate with Dandies vegan mini marshmallows!

1. Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate by The Foodie Teen  {view the recipe}

2. Chai Hot Chocolate by Fit Foodie Finds  {view the recipe}

3. Luxurious Hot Cocoa by Oh She Glows  {view the recipe}

4. Mexican Hot Chocolate with Coconut Whipped Cream by The Minimalist Baker  {view the recipe}

Édith Piaf, one of France’s most famous singers, was born on December 19, 1915.  We’re celebrating at TLB Music by singing her songs in our Friday morning French Sing-Along Playgroups (ages 6 months – 6 years)!  In her honor, watch this video of Édith singing her signature song, “La Vie en Rose”:

 

Photo by Gaston Paris/Roger Viollet/Getty Images


These award-winning animals make the perfect gift for a toddler!  Stuffies are giving new meaning to the words “stuffed animal”: they have 7 secret pockets for kids to hide their “treasures” and each comes with a hidden interactive storybook.  I was sold on this item when I read Stuffies‘ near-flawless reviews.  Reviewers with children ages 2-10 rave about how much their kids love these toys.  They’re “cuddly”, “durable”, and all-around “loveable”.  I just ordered “Gracie the Hippo” for my almost-3-year-old nephew who loves collecting and carrying coins, sticks, and small toys!

Below are links to view my favorite Stuffies on Amazon.  Read the reviews and make sure to check out all 16 designs!

1. Sky the Giraffe  view on Amazon
2. Digger the Dog  view on Amazon
3. Blaze the Dragon  view on Amazon
4. Scout the Monkey  view on Amazon
5. Prancine the Unicorn  view on Amazon
6. Gracie the Hippo  view on Amazon
7. Shuffles the Turtle  view on Amazon
8. Champ the Lion  view on Amazon
9. Dash the Horse  view on Amazon

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Billie’s Bar, 56th Street and First Avenue, Manhattan
Taken December 8, 1936 by Berenice Abbott

image source

Juice Press is one of my favorite juice bars in the city.  They have amazing cold-pressed juices, healthy smoothies, and an assortment of delicious raw, vegan food.  Here are 6 of my favorites from their menu, what I love about them, and their nutritional value:

1. Mint Matcha Latte
This latte is cool and dreamy! The antioxidant-filled matcha green tea powder gives an energy boost, the potassium-packed coconut water hydrates, and the fresh mint awakens your senses. Perfect for a morning walk.
Ingredients: water, almonds, coconut oil, vanilla, sea salt, coconut water, coconut meat, coconut nectar, matcha powder, mint extract, chlorophyll concentrate

2. Lucky Seven Juice
This is one of my favorite juice blends ever! The taste is fresh, sweet, gingery, and completely addictive. The beets are high in vitamins and minerals, help improve stamina, and lower blood pressure. The carrots provide more than your daily dose of Vitamin A and the ginger- in addition to tasting amazing with this mix- helps maintain normal blood circulation, prevents cold and flu, alleviates stomach discomfort, and reduces pain and inflammation.
Ingredients: carrot, pineapple, pear, orange, ginger, beet, lemon

3. Vital Force Very Berry (probiotic non-dairy superfood ‘yogurt’)
This smoothie tastes like an amazing berry shake and is an antioxidant powerhouse with a blend of delicious almond milk, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, goji berries, and bananas. The probiotics balance your digestive system and the maca provides a natural energy boost. This is a must-try!
Ingredients: almond milk (water, almonds, coconut oil, vanilla, sea salt), bananas, filtered water, strawberries, soaked cashews, blueberries, raspberries, dates, lime juice, goji berries, proviotic vegan probiotic, maca powder, sea salt

4. OMG! My Favorite Juice
Alkalizing, cleansing, slightly sweet, and loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. Try one of these in the morning (for best absorption) and you’ll feel the health benefits immediately.
Ingredients: celery, cucumber, pear, grapefruit, kale, and parsley juice

5. Pink Punk
A sweet, tart and gingery smoothie with all the benefits of beets and vitamin-filled pineapple and strawberries.
Ingredients: frozen pineapple, frozen strawberries, shredded ginger, cold pressed beet

6. Doctor Green Juice
This 5-ingredient juice is one of Juice Press’ all-time best sellers and once you taste it, you’ll see why! It is the perfect choice for skeptical, first time green juicers- the lemon, ginger, apple, and pineapple create a sweet and spicy base for the nutrition-packed kale. Your body will love the natural energy your body gets from juicing!
Ingredients: red apple, pineapple, kale, lemon, ginger

 

Juice Press has 22 locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Southhampton, Bridgehampton, and Long Island City!  Find one here.

“Animals-on-Wheels” are the newest addition to TLB Music‘s indoor playspace! These adorable push toys by Green Toys are perfect for babies and toddlers: they’re sized for small hands, safe, durable, and really easy to clean.

*”Animals-on-Wheels” are made from 100% recycled milk jugs.
*Encourage fine and gross motor skills.
*No sharp edges or metal axles.
*No BPA, phthalates, or PVC.
*3 adorable designs to choose from: elephant, pig, and turtle.
*Affordable: only $12.99 each (we got ours for less than $9 each on Amazon!)
*Dishwasher safe!

Why Green Toys is one of my favorite toy companies:
In the past 5 years, thousands of kids have visited our indoor playspace to play with the variety of eco-friendly toys we keep stocked. While other similar toys have needed replacing, the Green Toys items stand the test of time. Their trucks, kitchen sets, and stackers all look (almost) new and haven’t faded in color or function!  I love that in addition to being eco-friendly and safe for babies and toddlers, they’re also extremely durable and long-lasting.

View Animals-on-Wheels on www.amazon.com:

Elephant-on-Wheels
Pig-on-Wheels
Turtle-on-Wheels

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