We purchased our first home back in March, a co-op in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and moved in April. We love the place but the bathroom hadn't been updated since being built in the 50's. It was HORRENDOUS!! We're talking pink tub and toilet, pink mosaic floor, and lime green/gray walls. YUCK! We knew we had to renovate for resale purposes, and the sooner the better so we could enjoy it while living here for the next 2+ years. We shopped around, almost got ripped off by one not-to-be-named contractor, and finally went with our building's part-time Super who has his own construction company (if you're in or near Bay Ridge Brooklyn, I can't recommend him high enough!! Here's his contact info: Mike of E & M Shore Construction, e-mail / TEL: 917-577-1942 ). We couldn't be happier with our decision and the results. Mike was super easy to deal with - responding ASAP to email, text, or phone call. He had great ideas for the bathroom and was open to our ideas as well. And best of all??? He finished ON SCHEDULE and UNDER BUDGET! Perhaps unprecedented in the history of contractors! HA!
Here's the before and after!! Amazing right?!!?
We scheduled the renovation for a 2 week period where our toddler and I would be out of town, so we wouldn't be around all the dust and mess. My husband was around and helped tremendously with last minute materials decision - we waited to the last minute and didn't have time to order anything - so everything we got had to be IN STOCK which severely limited our choices, but we're pretty pleased with what we ended up with. Our contractor was awesome and drove my hubby around to all the shops, and went to pick up stuff I purchased online for in-store pickup. Mike also sent me daily photo updates, and called and Face Timed me so I could see what they were doing and to make quick decisions on placement of items and what not. This was so awesome to be a part of it while not being physically present.
He did the gut renovation and picking up of all materials in... TEN DAYS!!! I still can't believe it. The baby and I arrived home on the evening of Christmas Eve to our brand new bathroom (and tons of dust to clean, despite them having sealed off rooms with plastic tarp). Small price to pay I suppose!
And how much did this cost us? Well, the total including labor, materials, and fee to our co-op board was $8,963. This was under our budget of $10K and let's just say no one got Christmas presents this year LOL. The bathroom was a Christmas present for all 3 of us!!
We basically got everything from Home Depot, Express Brooklyn Tile (3918 4th Ave), Sunset Plumbing Supply (6001 4th Ave), and Bruce Supply Corp (8805 18th Ave). Below are some photos and items we used. If you want more details feel free to leave a comment below and I'll get back to you ASAP!
Tiles, Grout, & Paint:
Sorry, I wasn't there to pick these out and have no record of the make/model of the wall tiles bought - they're 3x6" white subway tiles and some sort of grey / white marble / light brown mosaic as the accent border. We went with a medium charcoal for the wall grout and a light grey for the floor grout. For floor tiles, we used Marazzi Montagna Smoky Black 6x24" Glazed Porcelain, which looks like a faux-wood and has hues of brown, grey, pink, blue - it's really interesting! My husband matched one of the accent tiles perfectly with the wall paint, he chose Behr Marquee Base 1454 (unfortunately I can't find the actual color used!! it's grey with a slightly brownish hue).
Well, that's most of it! Leave a comment below if you have any questions and I'll get back to you as soon as possible! And if you're doing any home remodel in the Bay Ridge area, definitely give Mike a call! He'll do ya right!!
This past summer, my family and I ventured out to Queens to check out the uber popular Spa Castle (see my review here). It was chock full of saunas and jacuzzis and was a blast, literally!! My one complaint was that they didn't have a child care center, so my husband and I couldn't fully enjoy it while minding our little toddler.
Well... The geniuses behind Spa Castle must have realized that adults might enjoy this kind of destination, without kids! So, they took the endless rooms of themed saunas, the infrared beds, the jacuzzis, pools, and spa treatments, they upped the luxury factor 100-fold, built it right smack in the middle of midtown Manhattan, and they made it accessible for ages 16 and over. HOORAH!!! I recently got a personal tour of the facilities just before they officially opened to the public on December 15, 2015, so I am pleased to give you my photo tour of...
Upon entering Premier 57 you are overwhelmed with what a funky and luxurious establishment it is, I mean, look at the lobby (above, top left)!! With rooms big and small filling up 3 floors of this midtown building, it's rather like a labyrinth and I found myself really turned around and lost several times, but that just added to the intrigue of it all! They have maps scattered about and plenty of friendly staff to guide you to your destination, so don't worry. The above collage features some of my favorite spots in Premier 57 such as the aroma therapy relaxation room (above center), the sleeping room (above right, mats will be provided), the indoor bade pool (featuring tons of various water jets for every part of the body) with swim up bar and tons of lounge chairs (above, bottom left), the Bistro Bar (they have Starbucks!), and the outdoor bade pool (opening Spring 2015).
From the lobby, you'll make your way on to the locker room where you'll find a large locker (below left) and be given a uniform, slippers, and wristband which acts as a digital lock for the locker and as a credit card to pay for food, drinks (yes - they have plenty of alcohol and caffeine), spa treatments, etc. Everything in the entire facility is brand spanking new and top of the line, including gorgeous showers and cubicles for getting made up after your spa visit (below center). The locker room area also houses a sex-segregated hydrotherapy baths (below right; no clothing allowed)
The Sauna Valley is one of the things Spa Castle is so famous for, and if you've been there you will recognize several of the rooms in Premier 57 as well. You'll find the Himalayan Salt Room (helps to regulate water and blood pressure, relieve allergies and asthma, soften and clear the skin, and reduce signs of aging; below right), Far Infrared Sauna (soothes joint stiffness, increases oxygen flow to the brain, improves circulation, detoxifies, and clears up nasal congestion and clogged pores), Gold Sauna (improves mental acuity and concentration, rejuvenates sluggish organs, especially the brain and the digestive system; below left), Chromotherapy Sauna (specific colors are linked to different organs in the body, affecting emotions, moods, and physiological conditions; below 2nd from left), Ice Igloo (improves anti-oxidant capabilities and immune system, firms the skin, closes pores, reduces cellulite, and relieves chronic pain and fatigue), Loess Soil and Charcoal Sauna (Korean yellow clay helps blood circulation and metabolism, relieves headaches, arthritis, liver ailment and obesity; below 2nd from right).
The lower floor of Premier 57 houses their spa treatment rooms. From facials to Korean body scrub to Reflexology to couples massage, the sky (or your wallet) is the limit! See highlights of the treatment floor in my photo collage below.
Pretty awesome, am I right?? If you're interested in visiting, here are the details:
LOCATION: 115 E 57th Street. Take the elevator to the lobby on the 8th floor; facility is located on floors 7, 8, and 9.
HOURS: Monday - Sunday, 9am - midnight. No reservations required to enter, but are recommended for spa treatments.
ADMISSION: $65 for a day pass; food, drink, and special treatments cost extra.
Claims about benefits of sauna rooms and hydrotherapy are from Premier 57's website - I have no research or personal account of them being valid or not. Also, please consult your physician before visiting Premier 57 f you have any health problems or reason to believe any of the facility might be a danger to your health.
MAM makes a plethora of awesome products for babies and kids, from bottles to pacifiers to toothbrushes, and one lucky winner will a variety pack from MAM, valued at $50!! But before we get to the giveaway, I want to share a review of the latest MAM addition in our household - the MAM Sports Cup!
MAM's 11oz BPA-free sports cup can be used with or without a spill-free valve and has a really unique easy to hold shape (see photos below). When you think of sports cup or sports bottle, you probably think of the spout that needs to be pulled up with teeth or hand to open, but not this one. Just pop off the protective outter cap and your little one can drink away! It comes in 3 colors: blue, green, or pink, all with a cute circus theme.
You can buy the MAM Sports Cup on their website or Amazon for $6.99 - quite a steal!
And now on to the giveaway!!! Enter in the Rafflecopter box below for a chance to win a variety pack from MAM valued at $50! The giveaway is open to US residents ages 18 and over and will end at 11:59 PM (EST) Sunday, January 4. The winner will be contacted by e-mail and have 48 hours to respond before I move on to another winner, so be sure to check those spam/junk folders for an e-mail from US-Japan Fam!
Disclaimer: Although I did receive this product free of charge, I was not compensated in any other way to do this product review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
So what did I think? Well, I'm a big fan of things with minimal parts and that are easy to clean, so this one definitely fits the bill! It's really cute, too, and my toddler loves it!! I love the unique shape but was worried that the shape of it would not allow it to fit into cup holders... but it fit just fine in our stroller's and I believe it would be fine in the car or anywhere.
Sponsored Post Disclosure: Opinions are my own and not swayed by compensation of any kind. This was a sponsored post, but I limit such posts to companies that meet my moral standards and I feel I can really stand behind (hey, I'm not a sell out).
My son is almost two years old and we've never used a babysitter. The longer we waited, the more terrifying it became! There's also the money factor. If you follow my blog you know I'm pretty budget-minded. But as the months have been flying by I have been slowly preparing myself for using a babysitter. Recently, we started doing "mommy sitting" swaps with our friends, which has been awesome! But even though it's a pretty fare swap, it still always feels like you're asking for a favor since you're not paying them. And of course they're not always available. So, yes, I knew it was time to bite the bullet and find a babysitter.
Find a babysitter... Where? How? How do I know if I can trust them?? Well, I've got one word for you: LxBlue!
When you find a babysitter or nanny that sounds good, you can purchase the "Peace of Mind" package for $39, which gives you their contact information, background check results, and what references said about them. Alternatively, you can post job listings for free, which their babysitters and nannies can apply to or you can request the job listing to be sent directly to candidates you're interested in. If they are interested in your job ad, you'll get a notification and from there you would need to purchase the "Peace of Mind" package in order to contact them.
After that, you're on your own - you can call, email, invite them over for an interview, or just go ahead and book them to watch your kid(s). You will negotiate rates and pay the sitter or nanny directly. LxBlue doesn't get involved or take commission after contact information is purchased and received.
How LxBlue worked for me:
I recently had a work event that I had to find a sitter for. Our FIRST sitter. I logged onto LxBlue and quickly narrowed it down to 3 women in our zip code that sounded nice. I purchased the Peace of Mind package for one, only to find out she wasn't available for the day/time I needed. Whoops! I changed my strategy and posted a job ad and within a few hours had a response! I purchased her Peace of Mind package, called her, and she came over to babysit the next day! I was totally nervous, but from the second she walked in the door she was polite and kind and started playing with my son right away. She arrived early, which was great, as she could hang out with my son while I was getting ready, and by the time I left I knew he was in great hands. When I came home 6 hours later, the house was in tip top shape and my son was taking a nap in his crib (something I haven't been able to get him to do in about 6 months!!). Wow. This whole babysitting thing can be pretty freaking awesome.
I want to give a huge thank you to LxBlue for helping me feel a little less nervous with our first ever babysitter, and also a virtual high five to the great, awesome, and lovely babysitter we used, Nikia!
LxBlue is a company I ran across a few weeks ago at the Brooklyn BabyFest and am I ever glad I did!! They are not just any old website for listing babysitters or nannies. Oh no. LxBlue interviews each candidate in their office. TWICE. They also do 4 different background checks (driving, 50-state criminal background including Social Security verification, and credit checks), and confirm and interview references. They are so strict with this process that they only accept about 20% of applicants interviewed!! So basically you can rest assured anyone you find on their website is going to be trustworthy, reliable, and an all around rock star.
How LxBlue works:
There is no subscription fee. You just go on their website and search! You can narrow down your search by zip code, babysitter / nanny, live in / live out, and a variety of desired skills (see the screen shot below).
You know what's pretty annoying? When the straw in the sippy cup gets nothin' but air. Toddlers don't understand about angling the straw just so in order to get every last drop. And they certainly don't want our help. It seems that b.box knew of this dilemma when creating their sippy cup WITH A FLEXIBLE AND WEIGHTED STRAW!! That's right, there's a weight on the bottom of the straw so it'll fall to the bottom of the sippy cup along with the liquid, no matter at which angle it's being held!
Here's a quick video of my son and I using the award winning b.box sippy cup for the first time - you'll see how simple it is to use - you can open and shut it with one hand, baby or toddler will have no problem opening it either, and of course we put it through the spill-proof test (which it passed with flying colors)!
B.box's 8oz sippy cup is BPA, phthalate, and PVC free, comes in 4 fun color options, and you can purchase replacement weighted straws and straw cleaners separately. It retails for $14.95 on their website or Amazon.
But wait, you can WIN one of these sippy cups, along with a b.box travel bib, right here on my blog (keep reading and enter in the rafflecopter box below).
B.box's travel bib comes in six super cute designs and has a really awesome unique design - you can actually fold the bib into the catcher and zip it closed!!! So it's kind of like a reusable food pouch and bib all in one! AWESOME!!! It retails for $17.95 on b.box's website or on Amazon.
OK, now to the good stuff! Enter in the Rafflecopter box below to win!! One lucky winner (18 years or older, US resident) will win one b.box sippy cup and travel bib!! Contest ends Friday, December 12 at 11:59 PM EST. Winner will be notified by e-mail and have 48 hours to respond with shipping address before another winner will be chosen. Good luck all!!!
We're at it again - bringing you another HUGE HUGE HUGE giveaway organized by the most fabulous Green Scene Mom and in collaboration with a whole bunch of other great bloggers! Read on for details and enter in the Rafflecopter box at the bottom!!
Green Scene Mom's Holiday Gift Guide Giveaway features top picks for Eco-friendly and innovative Christmas, holiday, or birthday gifts for moms, kids and babies! Each of these items inspire Eco-friendly lifestyles, learning, and creative expression, and one of each will be included in the jackpot for our lucky winner! Here are the awesome products and brands in the pot:
Enter in the Rafflecopter box below to win this Amazing Prize Set (then go here for more great giveaways to enter!
This giveaway is open to United States entries over the age of 18 who have a US mailing address and ends December 14.
Finding a good pair of shoes for your baby or toddler isn't exactly easy, or cheap. They can't tell you if something is pinching or if the shoes feel too big or too small. If they are too grippy they might trip 'em up, if they're not grippy enough, they might slip. And then there's the fact that they grow out of them in the blink of an eye. GAH! It's enough to drive a sane parent, well, INSANE!!
There are a handful of trusted, loved, and affordable brands of children's shoes out there, and I'm here to tell you about one of them (and also to offer you the chance to win TWO PAIRS of them below!!). So let's get started, shall we??
Ever heard of pediped? Well, if not, you have now! pediped, sold in over 2,500 stores in the United States and 40 countries worldwide, offers more than 140 designs for boys and girls between its three lines: Originals® (0-24 months), Grip ‘n’ Go™ (6 months - 3 years) and Flex® (US 5 Kids - 4.5 Youth). pediped is the fastest growing children's footwear brand in the United States and has been awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance for the promotion of healthy foot development, among many other industry and consumer-based awards!
I recently got my hands on pediped's new Grip 'n' Go Orion sneakers for my almost 2 year old. My first impression? THEY ARE LIGHT AS AIR!!! Seriously, I couldn't believe how lightweight they are. A quick peak at their website tells me they're all of 5 ounces. WHAT!?? We got the silver/orange color, so my little guy thinks he's got astronaut feet now. Haha! They also come in "ocean" (a beautiful blue / green / black combo). Here's what else blew my mind: they're water-safe and MACHINE WASHABLE!!! Ahhhhh it's like they read my mind. Guess my toddler isn't the only one who likes jumping into muddy puddles all. the. TIME! Anyway, here's my guy modeling them for ya:
Check out their website and you'll quickly find out they've got styles and colors to impress pretty much anyone! From the playground to your cousin's wedding, pediped is ready to have your little one's feet looking and feeling good!
OK, are you feeling lucky?! Enter in the Rafflecopter box below - one lucky winner will receive TWO PAIRS of pediped shoes!! Winner can choose boy/girl and size, but the styles will be a surprise - oooooooooooh!! This giveaway is open to US residents ages 18 and over, and will end at 11:59 PM EST on Monday, December 8. Winner will be notified by e-mail and have 48 hours to reply with gender/size of shoes and shipping address before another winner will be selected.
Wanna get social with pediped? Check them out on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!
Disclaimer: Although I did receive this product free of charge, I was not compensated in any other way to do this product review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!