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A bit of Humor For Your Commute

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Feb 3, 2015

by Nadia

Hole Some! Yes We Are!

Morning Humour!

Feb 3, 2015

by Nadia

A Playful Culinary Tradition

In France, my home country, forget about healthy resolutions at the beginning of the year because until the end of Mardi Gras, we like to indulge on many delicacies based on ancient religious traditions.

The first one is “La Gallette des Rois”, a puff pastry dessert filled with ground almonds. It is a playful culinary tradition that celebrates the Epiphany, the day of the arrival of the Three Wise kings to visit the newborn baby Jesus. "Tirer les Rois" or "Drawing the Kings" consists in inviting friends and family to eat this delcious cake, in which is hidden  a “fève” or tiny porcelain figurine. The custom is for the youngest of the party to hide under the table and designate to whom each slice of cake goes.  The lucky person who gets the “fève” becomes the king, or the queen, of the celebration and wears a crown made of golden paper.

You can celebrate the New Year with this cake for the whole month of January. My favorite “Galette des Rois” in NYC is at Ceci-Cela in Soho. I just read about Pistache's Galette on Edible. I might try it as they are located at Industry City, a few few blocks away from me.


“Les Bugnes” are another culinary symbol of Mardi Gras, or Carnival as well as “Les Crepes.” But we'll keep the story of these delicacies for another day.


May you be King or Queen this new year of 2015! Enjoy your Galette!

Feb 3, 2015

by Nadia

Do What Makes You Happy!


On New Year’s Eve, I endeavored to prepare a few dishes I had never cooked before—an onion soup and a chocolate fondue. A fan of
 The Chocolate Room in Cobble Hill, I knew that I had to bake marshmallowsand pieces of pound cake for the fondue. I was very excited by the playful challenge. 

I took the time to research the best recipes for these treats and landed on the wonderful blog, Smitten Kitchen. I also enlisted the help of my girls. Why not play in the kitchen together? 

As we prepared the ingredients, I became conscious of how exhilarating it was to make something radically new! Although it was somewhat challenging,—I had to pay close attention to the instructions while cooking since I have found myself having a shorter attention span as the years pass by!—I delighted in the effort. With my girls’ help, I did it! And, the results were AWESOME!!! I took this culinary exercise as a sign to make similar effort in 2015 to lead a life full of novelty, whatever the outcome.

And you, dear Mouse?...
Will you chose to break with routine and create numerous play moments for yourself?
Will you venture to pursue what makes you truly happy and explore new hobbies that keep your life thrilling?
Will you give yourself permission to play on a daily basis?
I can affirm that if you do, you’ll make yourself and your loved ones so much happier.

Bonne Année, Mice!

Nadia

 

Jan 3, 2013

by Nadia

Bring Play Into The Workspace

 

With the start of the new school year, most of us have gotten back into a busy routine making little time for Play. It took a few weeks for the benefits of a summer of fun to wear off, but here we are. So I thought, what if we brought play to the workplace?

A few years ago when I was managing my staff, I was a firm believer that play had to be a big part of our success and creativity. Among the many ideas we came up with, one stood out and lasted for many months. I had bought nine little laughing Buddha for a project we were working on. They had become my desk buddies. Every morning, I took to moving them around. Little by little, they started to disappear only to be found all around the office such as in the fridge “eating” a sandwich, or in front of one of our computers next to a post-it note that said, “Pause”. Soon enough, the Buddha were traveling the city in taxis, mailing letters at the postbox and tasting the best dim sum. They became our work mascots and made us laugh a lot. They were the vehicles that allowed us to inject our daily work with tons of fun. They also helped improve our team’s camaraderie, creativity and morale.

How can we transform a workplace into a playspace to improve productivity and employee happiness? Pamela Meyer, PhD, author of From Workplace to Playspace: Innovating, Learning and Changing through Dynamic Engagement to the rescue! An expert in helping corporations create dynamic workspaces for innovating, learning and changing, we asked her how play has impacted the success of the businesses she consults. She shared how the Mice can incorporate play into their daily work. If you have ideas on how to create a playful work environment, e-mail us or post them on our Facebook

 

Oct 23, 2012

by Nadia

Find Playmates

 

 

 

Did you know that when a male prairie vole, a monogamous rodent, is put in a stressful situation he runs to his female partner, and that when female voles are stressed they immediately run to the females with which they were raised?

So make a list of 5 women with whom you can play. If you can’t come up with five, your goal is to start looking!

Oct 17, 2012

by Nadia

Catch the Golden Hours

In the movie “Days of Heaven,” the breathtaking cinematography beautifully captures nature and the “golden hours” when the sun sets and rises—enveloping the sky, the fields, and the farmers in a soft blanket of golden light. As I am getting older, I realize how nature is essential to my well being and balance. And each year, before Fall sets in, I try to catch any opportunity to soak up the sun and be outside!

Do you know that Americans spend more than 90 percent of their lives indoors, and that percentage only increases with age? Research shows that time spent indoors is associated with being sedentary—and being sedentary is associated with obesity.

The benefits of outdoor activities are numerous. Extensive studies have shown that spending time outdoors:
1. Improves concentration. (It has been proven that children with attention deficit disorder score higher on concentration tests after a walk in the park.)
2. Prevents and reduces stress.
3. Improves self-esteem, confidence and creativity.
4. Increases a sense of exhilaration, adventure and challenge from life.
5. Boosts mood. Prevents disease thanks to the sun’s role in producing of Vitamin D.
6. Facilitates social interaction and increase bonding between like-minded people.

So Mice, we need to get out of the house! Join us on our foliage hike near Storm King. On October 14th, Kevin and Mice at Play have organized a daytrip to Storm King Mountain. It boasts many rocky outcroppings that provide a great opportunity to take a break while taking in the stunning scenery.

What’s more…we’ll be guided by Kevin, an ex-Naval Officer who had the opportunity to fly jets, hunt submarines on a guided missile frigate and serve as a boarding officer charged with leading a 12-man team tasked with taking over ships in the Persian Gulf and inspecting them for contraband during the United Nations Embargo against Iraq!

Julyne says of the previous hike: “I thoroughly enjoyed the day hike we took in upstate NY. It was actually a great workout! But more than that, it was so nice to get out of the city, hang out with an extraordinary group of women and see a spectacular part of NY I'd never seen before. Plus, we learned survival skills. Turns out I'm not very good at starting fires with a flint."

Are you in? Book your hike!

Sep 27, 2012

by Nadia

Happiest Childhood Memory

Last night, Mila, my youngest daughter, disappeared for 30 minutes in the shed and surprisingly came back with a photo of herself at 4 years old as she was about to start her first day of school, ever.  We were living in London at the time. Looking at her, and her two sisters in their red and navy blue uniforms, a fun and lively conversation about their early childhood ensued. They reminisced about mischief they got into, their favorite games, the oddest birthday cake, their best friends, etc.... We laughed a lot.

Bathing for a few hours in their childhood memories got me wondering that if I was asked to choose the most significant object, person, movie, moment...that had defined my childhood moment, what or who would that be? The first memory that came to mind was my passion for dance, and my obsession with the musical comedy “Singing in the Rain.” (To this day, the film and dance routines have the power to make me feel joyful!)

Today, kids are back to school. We’ll accompany them throughout the whole day with all our heart and soul. So connected to them, I find back to school time to be a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with our own childhood.

I'd love for you to think about something that has defined the happiest and most playful moment in your early years. Is it a best friend? Is it a toy? Is it a vacation? Is it a candy? Please upload a photo of it and share it with us on the Mice at Play Facebook page or send it to me to post it on our blog. Write -or not- something about it.

Looking forward to your photos!


 

Sep 6, 2012

by Nadia

Interview with Pamela Meyer Ph.D, Auhtor

Mice at Play interviewed Pamela Meyer author of three books on creativity and innovation including From Workplace to Playspace: Innovating, Learning and Changing Through Dynamic Engagement (Jossey-Bass, 2010). The book reclaims play as a key dynamic for business success. Playspace is the space for the play of new possibilities and perspectives, for people to play new roles and develop new capacities, for more play in the system, as well as space for improvised play. When we reconceive innovating, learning, and changing as play, we breathe new life into these processes and create the very space needed to ensure that they thrive.

 

 

Aug 31, 2012

by Nadia

6 Tips for Great Family Vacations

I just returned from a trip to Turkey where my three daughters, my husband and I spent a few weeks exploring this mesmerizing country by bus, boat, car and plane. We all came back excited, relaxed, and full of wonderful memories that will feed our family spirit for many months to come. Needless to say, the trip was a hit! 

Earlier this summer, a journalist asked me how I thought vacations could be more playful for women. It is true that, as women, we have a tendency to cling to the routine of our daily chores even when we should be doing nothing... 

Being French, I may have a very different approach to vacations than many of you. But here are some of the reasons why our trip was a success. I hope they will help you to make your own vacations more fun.

 1. Involve everyone in the choice of vacations and destination! 

In our family, the preparation of our annual trip always falls on me. I love this job, although it definitely creates anxiety for me as expectations are high. I worry about the success of my choice of country, accommodations, and places to visit. So this year, I decided to eclipse this worry by making the decision phase playful and collective. I got everyone together around a world map, and we discussed the types of vacations we wanted and the countries each of us wanted to visit.

You'll see that this exercise becomes a great subject of conversation, and you'll be surprised by the suggestions. Ask each family member about their choice. Narrow your list down to three destinations. Cast a vote for the final one! Once you have decided on the destination, get the kids to look into the history of the country. Talk about it over dinner. Ask each one to come up with one thing to do during the trip. 

2. A vacation for everyone 

A family unit is a group of individuals who have different tastes and desires that need to be respected. What excites one member may be a turn off to another. One of my daughters thinks the perfect vacation involves a pool, while her sisters prefer being active and loves exploring. It's important to balance these personal tastes, as well as the periods of adventure and relaxation, or as the Italians say, "dolce far niente."

This year I came up with the idea for each family member to design their own ideal “Play Vacation Day” and then the entire family would commit to following the plan for that day, no matter what! On my Play Vacation Day, I took the family to the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art and then to the Grand Bazaar where we actually dared bargain for the price of Turkish towels and to eat walnut Baklava, my favorite dessert. My oldest daughter took us to Cagaloglu, the most famous Hamman in Sultanahmet (where "Indiana Jones" was filmed), and then to the Palace of Topkapi. Iliade opted for a go kart race on her birthday and Mila, my youngest, went for the hot air balloon trip in Cappadoccia.

The results were surprising. We each had to do something we did not want to do. My husband overcame his fear of heights by climbing into the nacelle of a balloon that rose 3,000 feet above ground. I dove into the water from a 20-foot rock. Mila got to eat aubergines! Etc...

3. Chose a destination that is in your budget

With a family of five, paid activities can become very expensive for us, and as a result, we can miss out on a lot of activities

So that you don’t feel deprived, be sure to choose a destination that's within your budget. In our case, it was a relief to visit a country where we found the activities affordable and within our budget. We were able to do something new everyday! We visited lots of museums, splurged on unusual activities like a Hammam, went on several magical day trips by boat, hired a tour guide and climbed one of the steepest "Fairy Chimneys" (which was scary!), etc... The food was also affordable. We ate out at least once a day in a small café, which certainly made my life much easier. 

4. Everyone participates in the chores! 

Moms, own your right to vacation! Talk to the family to let them know that mom needs time off from the usual chores. If you chose to cook and eat in your rental, supervise the family members to do their part in the kitchen or even put them in charge of meals. Let the kids plan some menus and help with the cooking and clean up. Also, ask how dad can help out. My husband was in charge of the laundry and the early morning shopping since he is an early riser. 

5. Let the kids have their own space!

I have 3 messy kids. I was careful to rent accommodations with at least two bedrooms in order to give them (and me) a break from my usual nagging comment to "clean your room" and my tendency to clean up after them when they don’t do it. The living room was communal and the respected shared space.  

6. Novelty and adventure bring a family together

Research suggests that experiencing novelty is an important factor for both health and happiness. And I agree. But I have also found that our curious collective minds encourage us to do things we normally would not do on our own. In my family’s case, we moved beyond our fears and usual resistance thanks to the support of the group. At a time when teenagers tend to prefer to separate from their parents, we returned from our trip each of us a bit bolder, but more importantly, closer to one another.

 

Aug 23, 2012

by Nadia

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