The Real Housewife of Santa Monica
SmART Space::Westside Art Class for Kids

Archive of ‘Kid Fun’ category

SmART Space::Westside Art Class for Kids

A year or two ago I schlepped Maddie over to Westside Pavilion to the art class at Gymboree. The teacher was really good. M wasn’t so good. So we took a break. I didn’t hear great things about the art at Joslyn Park so I waited. We tried Gymboree again. New teacher and what seemed like budget cuts. “Everybody share this gram of glue!” “2 sequins per child.” It was ridiculous. If I have to be INSIDE THE MALL every single Friday afternoon, my child’s project better be spangly & shiny like the 4th of July night sky. So we stopped that after a month. M kept bringing up how much she loved art, and to quell my panic at the thought of going to the mall EVERY SINGLE WEEK, I signed her up for the class run through Santa Monica RecEnroll at Joslyn Park. Even if it’s no good, at least the kids can play outside afterwards.

Expecting the worst we trucked on over there.

We got lucky! SmART Space took over the art program. The teacher, Juliet Curry, is excellent! Organized, friendly and talented, she ALSO is the proud mother to a 2 year old girl (which doesn’t mean she’s a better teacher but it means she probably understands how I feel when my 2 year old exhibits “certain” behaviors in her class.)

I was really impressed by the structure of the class, the materials & Juliet’s skill at working with children between 2 and 4 years old. Since my kids are 2 and 4, I enrolled them both.

Her class schedule is just structured enough for these age groups:
1. Independent book time (art books in a basket on the floor)
2. Circle time to say hello, stretch, introduce everyone & discuss the project
3. Project
4. When/if-you’re-done 2nd project
5. Circle time to hand back projects, get a sticker & say goodbye

Examples of class topics & projects:

1. Introduction to Wassily Kandinsky’s abstract art.

The finished paintings:

2. Printmaking

Maddie’s name was NAAAK or something like that.

3. “Action Painting”::Intro to Abstract Expressionism & Jackson Pollock

4. Halloween Collage

5. Autumn Leaf Rubbing

6. Indian Corn Printmaking & Collage

7. Free Expression (painting by running a Matchbox car through paint!)

After class we eat lunch in the playground.

It was very hot this day.

Normally the playground is pretty full but it was naptime AND I snapped it the second it was empty in case people didn’t want their kids on the internet.

Maddie is so happy with this class. Which is saying a lot since she is a real Mama’s girl who can be pretty moody. Bea? Bea loves using paint, whether she’s supposed to or not.

Next session starts in January. Look for the name “SmART Space” in the name when you are browsing the classes.

Classes are available both in Santa Monica through RecEnroll AND in Culver City. Here is a link to the SmART Space LA site to check out the prices/schedules:

Click here for SmART Space LA class info!


City of Santa Monica Community Programs
1527 4th Street, Room 101, Santa Monica, Ca 90401
Registration Phone: 310-458-2239

Malibu…with kids

A few months ago a friend of mine suggested my kids & I join her one Friday morning at Malibu Country Mart. If I’d been drinking coffee it would’ve come out of my nose I laffed so hard. Not only do I hate driving & try to do as much as possible without getting into my car but I also don’t own any Lululemon yoga wear. I totally blew that off thinking, “Malibu? That’s like me going to the Valley!”

Anyway, a few weeks ago I found myself driving G’s truck to Malibu Feed Bin for some haystacks. We were having a little barnyard animal themed joint birthday party for the girls and I thought they would make up for what we lack in patio furniture, plus they’re cute!

Malibu Feed Bin
Photo from:

This place is easy to find – right on the side of the PCH. I pulled in ready to get in & out in no time but it’s way too much fun so we ended up looking around! Inside (I couldn’t take pix as I was trying to keep Bea from gettingherfingersbittenoffbyaratbreakingglassesswipingdogtoysandpocketingtinyplasticfarmanimals.), they have cages of bunnies, rats, chinchillas, hamsters & I *think* a cockatiel? WOW! The girls were fascinated!

After admiring the caged animals we paid for our hay. Incidentally, I keep calling it “hay” but it was actually “straw” – a distinction that matters to people who allergic to one but not both of those! We got 4 strawstacks for $10 each. They are about 3′x1.5′ and about 1′ high if my memory serves me. Anyway, it was lots of fun for the kids to see the animals – then I drove around back to pick up the stacks.

After that I decided to finally check out Malibu Country Mart and let the girls burn off some steam. I didn’t know exactly WHERE the park was so I just found the shadiest parking spot I could and decided to explore. Next time I’ll explore with a stroller instead of a sweaty kid who gets out of a Teva sandal quicker than I can say “heat rash.”

When you drive in off of the PCH, park in a lot on the NORTH side. That’s where the playground/main food area is.

It’s basically a playground surrounded by shops (expensive shops) & restaurants. Lucky for us there are a couple of casual places to eat. And a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

There are some cheaper counter service places too. And plenty of tables under umbrellas.

After eating, we headed to the playground.

It was HOT.

My only complaint: I only found 1 single bathroom. THere was a line for it, of course. There probably is a bigger bathroom somewhere but I didn’t have time to research that! I don’t believe there was a changing table in there either (not the end of the world if your child can stand on her/his own but if you have a newborn it might be challenging.)

After eating, we went to the baby swings since they were in the much-coveted shade.

The fancy people were eating behind the swings.

Sometimes when we’re out we’re having such a nice time that I keep on STAYING out past that sweet spot. Past the time of goodness. This was one of those times. M lost her s— on the swing & tried to kick me.

Time to go!

Mediterranean Salad

Back from vakay with a longggg to do list. What the heck! Let me get you this yummy salad how-to – still good for those end of summer picnics & BBQ’s. I’m making it tomorrow for the last “Jazz on the Lawn” concert.

I ate something like this in July when I was up at Three Rivers swooning over the hard won success of my dear friend Chris Lynch & her writing partner Meg Howrey. You see, they not only sold their international thriller City of Dark Magic to Penguin Publishing, but they also got the thumbs up for the sequel! Go Lynchie & Meg!!! Two smart broads!

We ate this at a dinner party up there. I couldn’t get enough of this. Neen and I had been wandering aimlessly around Sequoia National Park all day and arrived late & ravenous. How polite of us. With Nina’s help, I tried to replicate it when I got home and I’m please with the result! This salad is so satisfying, tasty & hearty. It’s REALLY easy to make. The most time-consuming part is boiling the grain which takes about 45 mins.

Here’s all you need:

1 1/2 c uncooked wheat berries or barley (barley is cheaper & easier to find but I was out)
8 oz feta (depending how much you like)
1/3 c sliced sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 c sliced kalamata olives
parsley to taste
1 avocado

1/4 c olive oil
2-3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1/4 c fresh squeezed orange juice (about half an orange)

First, cook your grain according to package directions. You can do this a day ahead and chill in the fridge. Just be sure to drain thoroughly first.

Now drain & chill the barley. You don’t want it hot when you combine your ingredients.

NOTE: I didn’t really measure anything. I just added ingredients and tasted. That’s partly why this is such a simple salad – you can add more of things you like or have.

Combine ingredients in a large bowl.

Stir to combine and add dressing ingredients.

Here’s a rough approximation of the dressing amounts:

1/4 c olive oil
juice of half an orange
2-3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Drizzle about half that on salad & stir to coat thoroughly. Taste & adjust, adding more dressing if needed. I don’t like a puddle of dressing at the bottom of my salad so I start light & add more. The barley will absorb the dressing but I liked this as leftovers for up to 3 days.

Don’t let Maddie’s excitement fool you. She didn’t dig this.

Jazz on the Lawn
Rogelio Mitchell & Friends
Sunday, August 26
Bring a picnic/blanket and/or low chairs!



5.0 from 1 reviews

Mediterranean Barley Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4-6

Savory, satisfying salad. Perfect for cookouts & side dishes or as a main with some leafy greens!
  • Salad:
  • 1-1/2 c uncooked barley
  • 8 oz feta (depending how much you like)
  • ⅓ c sliced sun-dried tomatoes
  • ¼ c sliced kalamata olives
  • parsley to taste
  • 1 avocado
  • Dressing:
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • 2-3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • ¼ c fresh squeezed orange juice (about half an orange)

  1. Cook barley according to package directions. Drain & chill in refrigerator.
  2. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  4. Drizzle about half the dressing over the salad & stir to coat ingredients.
  5. Taste salad & adjust to your tastes including adding more dressing as needed.
  6. Serve with sliced avocado.

Salad will keep in refrigerator for 2-3 days. Wheat berries or faro make great substitutions for the barley!

Baked Oatmeal


Why on Earth would anyone be baking ANYTHING here in Los Angeles? It’s in the high 80′s already at 11AM. I had this baked oatmeal in mind last weekend or week when it was getting cool & fall-like out and since I had all the ingredients, I went for it!

This recipe is great for a wholesome breakfast that can be reheated. Make it Sunday night and you have breakfast ready for the week!

Here’s what you need:

(I don’t necessarily recommend Skim Milk – it’s just that’s all I had in the house. I would use 2% or whole depending who you’re cooking for.)

And this:

This is optional:

I can’t help but notice these photos in the background.

Who are those good-looking lads?

Those aren’t lads! That’s my sister and me!! My mom liked to keep our hair short.


Me. (That turtleneck was itchy.)

3 c rolled oats
1/2 c brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c melted butter
1/4 c apple sauce

raisins or cranberries

chopped nuts

ground flax seed

frozen blueberries
(No picture b/c I don’t actually have any!)

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Feel free to add a teaspoon of ground cloves if you have them. Or don’t!

3. Beat eggs into wet ingredients (milk, vanilla extract, apple sauce & melted butter.)

4. Add wet ingredients to dry & stir until combined. Add any of the optional ingredients you desire (i.e. have)!

5. Spread into greased loaf pan.

6. Bake for 25-30 minutes (depending on your oven.) I did mine for 25 minutes because I don’t like it too dry.

7. Slice & serve! You can eat it as-is (sliced on a plate) or serve in a bowl with milk. This keeps well in the fridge for about 5 days. I haven’t actually had it longer than 5 days.

Bea loves it. Maddie doesn’t care for it. George has a raisin issue. He likes raisins solo but he doesn’t like them “in” anything. These are curious issues upon which I am not qualified to comment.

Baked Oatmeal
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4

Easy, wholesome breakfast that can be made ahead for the week. Perfect for the fall/winter to keep you going all morning!
  • 3 c rolled oats
  • ½ c brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c milk
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ c melted butter
  • ¼ c apple sauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • raisins/dried cranberries
  • frozen blueberries
  • ground flax seed
  • chopped nuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350 & grease a loaf pan.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Beat wet ingredients in a small bowl.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry & stir thoroughly.
  5. Add any optional ingredients you like!
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes.
  7. Serve as a slice on a plate or in a bowl with milk. Can be reheated for several days if kept in fridge. ENJOY!

Checkout the original recipe. I replaced half of the butter with apple sauce & I also halved the amount of sugar that was in the original. I tried it two ways so far:

1. Replace ALL the butter with apple sauce. and

2. Replace half the butter with apple sauce.

VERDICT: Some butter is yummy! This is NOT news. In the future I’ll use 1/4 c butter and 1/4 c apple sauce. Still cut the sugar as I think 1/2 c is still a lot of sugar. Also, try to use apple sauce with no sugar added. The ingredients should say, “apples” and nothing else.

What variations did you try? I’d love to hear from you below!

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