Eco up-cycle dresses by CourtneyCourtney

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I discovered CourtneyCourtney through Instagram, I instantly fell in love with her one-of-a-kind little girl dresses. I had never seen anything like them before, they are not fussy and frilly, and I was excited to purchase one for lilStrange. Not only are the dresses modern in style with fun silkscreens, they are all handmade by Courtney Anne Chu from 100% recycled clothes.

We are often reminded of the importance of recycling our cans and bottles, but what about our clothes?

Textiles are nearly 100 percent recyclable, yet thousands of pounds of textile materials end up in landfills each year. This problem can be easily solved by donating your unwanted clothing to local charities, instead of throwing them away in the trash.

To make her eco up-cycle dresses, Courtney searches through racks of t-shirts at her local charity shops in Chicago and tires to select unique prints, vintage designs and colors and patterns that coordinate with each other. She then prepares them to be made into super soft dresses. When I was a kid my aunt made me a quilt out of used clothing and it was the most amazingly soft blanket I have ever owned. The softness must come from all of the year washing of the textile.
CourtneyCourtneyCourtney’s dresses have a sharp, organic style to them. She adds a fun silkscreen design detail to all of her dress, making them stand out and 100% unique. Plus the dresses are well-made, wash up great and produced locally in Chicago.
These are lilStrange recent two dresses from CourtneyCourtney. A fun pineapple summer dress, and a birthday bespoke custom number dress.
Courtney Courtney lilStrange explored the Children’s Museum of the Arts in her own piece of art.
lilStrange CMA Making her way through a bamboo maze at the Liberty Science Center.
three dressCourtney is intrigued by the ability to affect levels of comfort, society, health, and power through clothing design. She likes to think we are not judged by how we dress, but definitely feels that it influences the wearer.

If you love the idea behind Courtney’s one-of-a-kind eco recycled dresses totally check out her list of current dresses for sale. I am sure your little girl will love wearing a CourtneyCourtney dress as much as my daughter does.

Code-a-pillar Kids Tech products at Best Buy

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Raising kids in the 21st century digital age, is completely different to the way I was raised back in the 80’s. I was fortunate enough to have access to computers as early as kindergarten, but I did not have my own cell phone until after college. Many kids nowadays are more tech savvy and comfortable using digital communications than their parents generation. So with these significant advances in technology, what should be part of a basic, common knowledge base for kids in the 21st century?

The term procedural literacy is being used a lot more lately, where literacy is the ability to read and write, and process information. Where procedural literacy goes beyond reading and writing, and includes computing, media and coding. When kids learn to code, they learn how to think.

There are many computer games and apps for kids to learn how to code, but not so many physical toys. My kids are 3 and 5, so I am eager to have them gain technology knowledge, but don’t necessarily want them to be using technology to learn it. That is why I was so excited to have my kids try out the new tech toy product from Best Buy the Code-a-pillar.

Code-a-pillar fun new kids tech toy by Fisher-Price

Codeapillar

The Code-a-pillar encourages your child to explore sequences and reasoning with this fun Think and Learn tech toy. Both of my kids preschooler and Kindergartener, were engaged and eager to arrange the segments in different orders, to see whose would clear all the way to the end without running into a wall or furniture. The Code-a-pillar follows instructions to go left, right, straight or toot a horn. My kids can easily re-arrange the pieces into a completely different combinations, without any adult help. When your kids Code-a-pillar completes the combination correctly it speaks to your kids in its secret caterpillar code talk.

Codeapillar Fisher Price

Plus who would not want to learn about coding from this sweet face. Yes this toy makes noise, but it is so not overly loud or annoying. To learn more about the Code-a-pillar and pricing click over to Best Buy.Codepillar Caterpillar

I was compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

Whitney Kids family sketching tours

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The Whitney sketching family tours, for families with kids ages 6–10,
explore current exhibitions through drawing. This hour long private tour takes place the hour before the Whitney museum is opened to the public. Kids along with their caregivers get to look closely at works of art, and create experimental sketches inspired by what they see. These tours are prefect for kids who already have the love for art, or their first time in a museum, being creatively introduced to art, on a more in depth approach.

Whitney Kids family tour

This months Whitney sketching tour is: Abstracting America by Stuart Davis

This month, we visited the exhibition Stuart Davis: In Full Swing, with my nieces who were in town from California. We learned how Davis was inspired by American culture and the vibrant rhythms of the city. At first the kids were asked to sketch what they saw in the painting House and Street, 1931 which represents the intersection of Front Street and Coenties Slip in lower Manhattan.

Whitney Kids sketching tour

I was very impressed what my son was able to spot in the painting vs what others spotted in the paintings, no ones were the same.Stuart Davis In Full Swing sketching tour

Next we were asked to look out on New York City from the Whitney windows, facing north east, and draw how we see the city.

ABSTRACTING AMERICA Whitney Kids

Then we looked at another work by Stuart Davis called The Mellow Pad, 1945. We learned that the painting started out as a simple drawing of a city similar to House and Street, 1931 but through layers of color and sketching over many years, the painting turned into a completely different picture. Davis had a habit of using preexisting motifs as springboards for new compositions. We were given scraps of paper to add to our sketches of New York City to create color and texture, similar to the techniques used by Stuart Davis.

SKETCHING TOUR ABSTRACTING AMERICA

Here is my sons final project from the Whitney family sketching tour. He really had a great time and learned so much (even if he is making a silly face in this photo).

StuartDavis Mellow Pad

Stuart Davis: In Full Swing features approximately 100 artworks by an artist whose formal brilliance and complexity captured the energy and ebullience of popular culture and modern life. The exhibition is unusual in its focus on Davis’s mature work, from his paintings of consumer products of the early 1920s to the work left on his easel at his death in 1964, and in exploring Davis’s habit of using preexisting motifs as springboards for new compositions.

Open Studio family program for families with kids of all ages

When the class was over we made our way down to the Open Studio session. In the Open Studio families get creative in the Whitney’s Hearst Artspace. Families are invited to make their own art based on works in current exhibitions. Each week they offer a different art making project. The week we went the project was inspired by Première, 1957 where Stuart Davis does not paint the objects themselves as they are pictured, but instead paints their names in bold bright colors, similar to a television advertisement.

Stuart Davis In Full Swing WhitneyHere is what my son sees in words, from the display that is arranged in the Open Studio room. We could have spent the whole day in that room sketching and letting our creativity run wild, but the kids were eager to see the rest of the Whitney before it got to crowded.

Stuart Davis Open Studio WhitneyInformation on future family activities at the Whitney can be found HERE plus a fun Whitney Kids Summer Family Day is coming up on July 9th at 9:30-10:30 am where families get to explore Stuart Davis: In Full Swing and other family-friendly exhibitions. They will be offering tours, artmaking activities, and special performances by Jazz at Lincoln Center, click HERE for tickets.

Summer road trip getaway for your family with Radisson {GIVEAWAY}

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Only a 3 hour drive from New York City, and less than an hour from DC, Baltimore Maryland can be a perfect summer road trip getaway for your family. Baltimore is a major city in Maryland with a long history as an important seaport. Fort McHenry, birthplace of the U.S. national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” sits at the mouth of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Today, this harbor area offers shops, upscale crab shacks and attractions like the Civil War–era warship the USS Constellation and the National Aquarium, showcasing thousands of marine creatures.

BDIH-City-View-Baltimore

Radisson, one of the best-recognized hotel brands, just opened a new modern and contemporary hotel in the heart of downtown Baltimore. Located an easy walking distance, just a half mile, from the famous Inner Harbor. Staying at the new Radisson Baltimore Downtown – Inner Harbor is great because it offers easy access to the city’s  attractions, and within walking distance to everything you might want to see and do in Baltimore, including Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the National Aquarium, the Baltimore Convention Center and Royal Farms Arena.

Accommodations
The hotel’s 323 modern guest rooms offer spacious accommodations and pillow top mattresses. The hotel also features Business Class by Radisson® which provides guests with upgraded amenities specifically designed with the business traveler in mind. Guests who book Business Class rooms and suites enjoy complimentary breakfast each morning, and 1,000 bonus Club Carlson loyalty points per night.

BHMD_Guest_Roomjpg

Amenities
The hotel offers the only outdoor rooftop swimming pool in downtown Baltimore, free Wi-Fi, a business center with printing and copying services, and 24-hour fitness center. Guests can also enhance their stay by downloading the Radisson iConcierge app which offers access to a wide variety of hotel services and local information before, during and after a guest’s stay such as ordering room service, receiving details of nearby attractions, and checking out.

Dining
Balto Tavern & Tap, offers a casual atmosphere and for a limited time is serving complimentary breakfast. For a quick, convenient breakfast, lunch or dinner guests can order a sandwich or salad from Balto’s Grab-n-Go menu. Balto also offers a daily happy hour and drink specials.

BHMD-Lobby-Baltimore

Meetings & Event Planning
The hotel blends exceptional venues with personalized service to create a unique setting for a variety of events. The over 18,500 square feet of modern, flexible meeting space features the latest conference technology and versatile floor plans for events of up to 1,500 guests.

Radisson hotels offer forward thinking and creative hotel options from city centers to resort destinations and understand what today’s traveler is looking for, from free high speed Internet access to exceptional dining experiences, fitness centers and pools.

One lucky My Strange Family reader has a chance to win a to win a 2-night stay at any of the new “GREEN” Radisson Hotels in the Americas! 

To enter please Click HERE and tell me in the comment section below, what your favorite hotel amenities & services is!

***GOOD LUCK***

Contest will close Monday June 20th

Click the link if you would like to check out the press release for Radisson Hotel Baltimore Downtown-Inner Harbor.

Disney Kids photo from Disney Social Media Celebration

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I didn’t go to college for photography, I actually studied business management. I did not pick-up a “real” camera until ten years ago, and I still have no clue how to use it. My husband and I own/ed a Nikon D40x, with a few different lenses, but we honestly only used it in manual mode. We still have no clue how to use that “fancy” camera and I think the last time I touched it was in 2010.

I bought my first iPhone when my son was born, and have been using one exclusively since then. With a newborn I found the convenience of the iPhone outweighed the need for quality, from our large Nikon. Plus over the years the iPhone photo quality has improved, that most people could probably not even tell the difference between the two photos.

What I have learned about photography over these past years, in taking photos of my kids, is how to take a great composed shot. Composition is the process of seeing, identifying, organizing, and framing the individual elements of a particular scene to create a pleasing photograph. Composition is also much more than just arranging the elements in a photo, it takes into consideration the lighting, the depth of field, the foreground and the background.

Besides composition, I feel the most important factor in getting a great photo is the angle at which you hold your camera to take the photo. For photos with kids in them, I have to squat down to be at their level. You can totally see how I am crouched down in the left photo, to capture this sweet shot of lilStrange and Rapunzel at the Disney Social Media Moms Mother’s Day breakfast.

Tangled Disney Social Media Mom

A lot of photos can be significantly improved when using editing tools like photoshop. But, if the original photo is not composed properly, to create a vision of how I organically see a particular scenario, then all the photo editing tools in the world are worthless. In the Rapunzel photo above I used a free iPhone app called PS Express.

Photographers, take photos to tell a story. And to help the people who view your photograph to understand how you felt when taking the photo. The whole point is to ensure that the people who view your photos understand the message you are trying to convey. How? By directing their attention to a specific point of interest within the picture.

At the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, we were asked to take photos as part of a photo storytelling contest, one challenge was to capture a #DisneyKids moment. I had lilStrange dance and twirl in front of Cinderella’s Castle in hopes to capture a magical moment in photo. I must have taken over a few dozen photos to get these as my top three. I love how the drum player was walking by as I snapped these shots.

Disney Castle Princess

Tips on how to capture a great Disney Kids photo

  1. Determine the most important element of the scene.
  2. Do not place the subject in the dead center of the image.
  3. Avoid putting too much content in the frame.
  4. Fill the frame.
  5. Use the environment around you.

So in the end the middle photo was the most magical of them all. After some photoshopping, the photo below was submitted to the judges at the Disney Social Media Celebration, and it WON! Out of over 150 guests my #DisneyKids photo WON! I was so excited and our prize was a really cool Circle with Disney.

Disney Kid Social Media Mom

Circle with Disney is internet reimagined. Circle is the new way for families to manage content and time across all your home’s connected devices. With Circle, parents can filter content, limit screen time and set a bedtime for every device in the home.

Circle with DisneyThank you Disney Social Media Moms Celebrating for the amazing conference and inspiration to take a magical photo of my #Disneykids

Just Puttin’ Around Pier 25 Mini Golf

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Manhattan’s only 18-hole miniature golf course is perfect for your family’s weekend urban adventure. Located at Pier 25, right on the Hudson River Park waterfront, in Tribeca. The 13,000 square foot, miniature golf course offers cool features like a waterfall, stream, pond, cave, and footbridges. Plus amazing downtown NYC skyline views. The Pier 25 Mini Golf course was a hit for my two city kids when we explored downtown New York City.

mini golf NYC My strange family mini golf NYC mini golf Pier 25 mini golf

Pier 25 Mini Golf is open daily 10AM-10PM. Check out their Facebook page for the most current updates. $6 per game, children 13 and under are $5. Cash Only. All ages. No reservations are necessary.

Check out my other post about Art in the park at Pier 25 NYC for other fun things to do at Pier 25.