Janet Bloom of Curious G and Me
Summer is back on here in New York! For this issue, we spent a fun day on Coney Island with Janet Bloom of Curious G and Me. Janet is an NYC mother, digital creator, and communications consultant, and she and her family are all about trying new things.
I love that Janet inspires readers of her website and Instagram to get out and have fun with educational kid-friendly adventures. Janet, her hubs of 10 years, Josh, and daughter G, share everything from NYC must-visits to style-inspo and even delicious eats and treats, all packed with personal stories that bring these guides to life.
Janet also shares why she enjoys living and raising her daughter in such a diverse city. She talks about how the current turmoil of racism against the AAPI community affects her family and then how she explains the violence to her daughter.
I chatted with Janet on her NYC adventures, the creative and engaging ways she shares these experiences, and why they are so important for kids and adults alike.
Okay, we’re obsessed with your IG feed that is definitely #momanddaughtergoals. How did you decide that you wanted to start blogging about your life in NYC, both on your website Curious G and Me and on social media?
Oh my, thank you! But, first and foremost, I would like to note that I would never call us Mom and Daughter goals! Obviously what you see on IG is such a small fraction of our lives and much lies beneath the surface, but I AM happy to provide inspiration, and I will highlight some of our adventures here, so you are definitely going to want to bookmark this!
I’ve always had an eagle eye for fun and interesting things to do around town. Pre-motherhood, people used to call me the “walking Yelp” because I was the go-to person for the latest and greatest in dining and entertainment (and clean public bathrooms, which are a must when you are out and about all day). As a former fashion model and former real estate agent I spent hours on end pounding the pavement — which always placed new spots to explore on my radar. I am also a rabid consumer of old school media-magazines, newsletters, newspapers, which is often my source of entertainment intel. As a new mother, who had just transitioned from working in an office to building a dress line (sirin bloom, now on hiatus) from home, I put the same energy into finding new ways to explore the city with my baby. We brunched all over town, spent weekends lounging in almost every park that we could walk or take the subway to, and we visited a bunch of art fairs and museums (G’s first art fair was Frieze on Randall’s Island when she was three months, and she went to the Met Costume Institute “China: Through the Looking Glass” exhibit a few weeks after). Even as an infant, she always seemed to absorb everything we took her to see. I was also“blessed” with a baby who barely slept, so nap time was basically non-existent, or involved these epic strolls around town, where I discovered even more things to do with her.
I’ve always curated NYC itineraries for friends and family based on what they were in the mood for and what neighborhoods they were visiting — always including stops along the way for food. And I started documenting our own city adventures on IG stories. SO, the summer before G started pre-school, I decided to consolidate these itineraries and adventures into one space, and Curious G and Me was born. There were a few go-to guides that I checked regularly for family entertainment full of listings of new events and venues, but I thought it would be fun to show the perspective of a family who is out and about actually exploring and doing all of the things that are in the guides. I wanted to give it a personal touch and a first-hand POV.
If you spend a few minutes with G, you will quickly learn that she is one of the most curious people to have ever roamed the earth. From the time that she was a newborn and throughout babyhood, her pediatrician called her “Inquisitive Eyes”, because she was always looking around as if she was questioning the world. I decided from day one that I would expose her to the things that inspired me, whether it’s music (I made a lullaby mix for her when I was pregnant that included Lana Del Rey, music from Edward Scissorhands, The Cure, Bossa Nova music, etc), art, fashion, nature, or even food. And I love seeing it all through her eyes because she’s so receptive to all of it and lends such a fresh perspective- she really looks at everything from new angles that I never would have thought of. I enjoy adapting my favorite things to make them enjoyable for her. And that is where the lifestyle content stems from.
About a month after I launched the website and started posting regularly to my newly minted IG feed, the founder of a popular mommy site reached out to me and asked me to curate their IG feed, in addition to contributing articles to the website. So I added that to my roster and had a blast blazing through town with G almost every day. We also took a few amazing holidays that I covered on my website.
Now that she is a little older and has her own social life and co-curricular activities, paired with the fact that I am also more consumed with work (I have been the Communications Director at a private school for the past two years), we refocused and the content has evolved into a more balanced blend of lifestyle and adventuring around town. Right before the pandemic hit, I started working on two new projects so I will try to focus on those this coming year as well — more on that later! But, we will be forever exploring NYC and the posts on my website are a timeless encapsulation of all things fun to do with the family (or even solo every now and then!)
With all the fun adventures you and your daughter go on in NYC, we’re sure you have a lot planned for the summer as things start to open more here. Can you share with us some of your NYC summer plans?
This will be the summer of NYC outdoors! Much like last summer, people want to get out and soak up some sun after the long and harsh winter that we had. I usually add the hashtag #nycoutdoors when I post about our outdoor urban adventures.
We just previewed Little Island, the new green space-outdoor visual and performing arts space designed by Thomas Heatherwick (of The Vessel fame), and it was divine. We really love urban settings where we can lounge with some snacks and drinks (the on-site food trucks offer an awesome selection of snacks, meals, and adult beverages), while the kids run around on the grass and explore. NYC is full of these spaces where we can casually spend a fun Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The glory of Little Island is that you can also roll it into multiple stops along Hudson River Park. I mean, where do I even begin with Hudson River Park? If we start from the area north of Chelsea Piers, there is the carousel (now reopened!) and skatepark on Pier 62; mini golf, volleyball courts, Grand Banks, and a playground with one of the city’s best splashpads on Pier 25. There are two City Wineries along the way. And the jewel of the crown — Battery Park City. I love all of the food, and the playgrounds, and the sprawling lawns, and the gorgeous river views that you can bask in all day in Battery Park City. If you round the bend that we call the southernmost tip of Manhattan you can also catch a ride on the magical Seaglass Carousel, hit up the playgrounds and shops in South Street Seaport, and dine at one of many fun restaurants on Pier 17 (try the “green Bloody Mary” at Malibu Farm because tequila and kale juice go hand in hand, who knew?!)
Just walking around outside in NYC in the summertime is such a vibe for us. You can have an instant dance party just from all the different music blasting from cars cruising by with their windows down!
Before the pandemic, G had a legendary (it was literally the last party that many of us attended, pre-COVID) birthday party at the Giant Room. I say this with as little self-aggrandizement as possible, but I felt like I was onto something when most parents stayed even though it was dubbed a “Drop-off optional” party. It was essentially a DJ-ed cocktail party with delicious catering where parents mingled and the kids went wild creating amazing STEAM projects lead by awesome teachers. But it was kind of a light bulb moment where my friend Julie, aka DJ Hesta Prynn, and I realized that we should be throwing this very party on a regular basis where parents can socialize and dance, while their kids were engaged with interactive ajd social STEAM projects. And it could be a weekend brunch party, or a Friday night-let-loose event. NYC parents need this, now more than ever. And my hope is that we can get to a point in the city where we can safely start gathering again. So, we will be working on launching said party this summer.
My other project has been in the works since I returned from Singapore after a month-long modeling trip during college. I returned completely inspired by all of the refreshing tea concoctions and delightfully colorful tropical desserts. In a nutshell, I am working on a tea salon concept where you can chill out and enjoy different tea-based elixirs and cocktails that promote wellness. My love of Asian desserts will be showcased in many forms, AND there will be a selection of bubble teas for the kiddos! A southeast Asian surf shack environment will envelope you as enter the premises. Any takers?
As queen of all-things NYC for kids, what are your favorite kid-friendly must-visits (museums, attractions, pop-ups etc.) that you think parents should check out?
Let me get my clip board out!
The summer is full of adventure potential-the kind of adventures where you literally are grinning ear to ear the entire time. I actually find myself smiling so much sometimes that my cheeks hurt. For example, when we visited Governor’s Island on opening day, I was smiling so hard the whole time when we were riding the quad bike that the wind dried out my mouth! SO, a trip to Governor’s Island is a must-do this summer for all. I need to go back and try their new go-karts!
I highly recommend taking advantage of the NYC ferries. You can find a post about 5 Reasons to Ride the NYC Ferry on Curious G and Me but to sum things up, the actual ride is scenic and fun and you get to go to some of the most fun spots in the city! Some of our favorite ferry trips are to Astoria for the Sculpture Park and Noguchi Museum, Long Island City for Gantry Plaza State Park, Williamsburg for Domino Park and Brooklyn Bowl, and Brooklyn Bridge Park for extreme playgrounding spread across five different piers. We LOVE taking the ferry to and from Brooklyn Bridge Park (You can find TWO posts about Brooklyn Bridge Park on curiousgandme.com). In fact, if you are looking to maximize your fun you can spend a few hours in Brooklyn Bridge Park, then take the ferry to Governor’s Island! From Governor’s Island you can take the ferry to southern Manhattan, or back to Brooklyn! The possibilities are endless!
We also enjoy taking the tram to Roosevelt Island where we walk along the length of the entire island and where, coincidentally, you can also catch the ferry!
Coney Island is the quintessential NYC summer spot, and the amusement parks and aquarium are now open! We usually always go to nearby L and B’s pizza nearby to grab upside down Sicilian slices and the Spumoni frozen treats after hanging out on the boardwalk.
We also love exploring gardens since we are flower lovers (and G can spend hours digging in the dirt and building shelters for ants and worms). There is a treasure trove of community gardens in the East Village that you can relax in during the weekends and some select weekdays. I recommend exploring one on a day that you take the kids to the awesome selection of playgrounds in Tompkins Square Park.
Now I could write a book about Central Park after spending decades going there — we call it our urban backyard, but some of our fave spots are the Hallet Nature Reserve, Billy Johnson Playground, Sheep Meadow, the Conservatory Water, and the Conservatory Garden (you must visit if you haven’t yet —Trust!). The roller disco by Sheep Meadow on the weekends and the drum circles by the bandshell are basically outdoor dance parties. They are FUN.
Gallery hopping in West Chelsea, along with a stroll along the Highline is a go-to when friends visit from out of town. But, we also love stopping by The Met multiple times for the art and views on the Iris B. and Gerald Cantor Rooftop. The views of Central Park are really magnificent from up there and this year’s art installation by Alex Da Corte actually features Big Bird! The Met can never be consumed in one visit, so we like to kick off the spring with a visit and then return with friends throughout the summer. Obviously, should the mood strike, you can hang out in Central Park before or after the Met, which is literally the Met’s backyard.
Speaking of recommendations, we saw on IG that oh-so-delicious blueberry muffin sundae from Caffé Panna that your daughter certainly seemed to love. Do you have any other summer treat plugs for NYC kids?
Some of our adventures are certainly food-driven! Here are some of our faves, as well as some playground-treat pairings! Do check out the ice cream run-down, and our list of 14 Best Playgrounds and Where to Eat and Hang out After on my website!
A La Mode Shoppe on East 55th is a destination! It is a completely nut-free, egg-free ice cream shop, with a retail area, that serves amazing handcrafted scoops and softserve. We have been to so many fun parties, movie nights, and events there and cannot wait until they bring them back return. In the meantime, G is completely entranced with their selection of toys, clothes, and accessories for sale. I adore their Partly Cloudy ice cream. The marshmallows just get me everytime!
Chinatown is FULL of fun treats. Go to Alimama for the mochi donuts, Taiyaki for the soft serve — in a fresh waffle cake cone, and Kam Hing Coffee Shop for their famous sponge cakes (I could eat ten Butterscotch cakes in one sitting. Don’t ask me if I have). I also swoon for the black sesame and ube swirl soft serve from Soft Swerve, which is now also open in Murray Hill in addition to their Allen Street location. DiSalvo Playground, Seward Park Playground, Elizabeth Street Garden, and Sara D. Roosevelt Playground are all in the vicinity of these treat spots.
Grace Street Café has an amazing selection of shaved snow, which is a creamier version of shaved ice adorned with with syrups and toppings. Yum! It’s the perfect summer treat, as well as the perfect chaser to Korean BBQ or Korean hot wings!
Mister Dips is a very fun spot on one of the William Vale’s roof-terraces, that serves burgers, fries, and softserve cones out of an airstream. When I say cones, I am talking about cones with toppings that will make your eyes pop out of your head. Stop by Mister Dips post Domino Park visit!
We like Comfortland in Queens for the giant fried chicken sandwiches and the egg biscuit sandwiches…and don’t even get me started on their desserts. They are works of art!
I invite anyone to DM me for treat and restaurant recs-many people do it!
I have more go-tos, as well as must-trys. And you will definitely find us frequenting them this summer via our IG stories. I love a good food story!
Fostering new experiences— whether it be the latest & greatest in NYC or homeschool hacks that make school-from-home seem totally inspired— are clearly your superpower. Why are these experiences important to you as a mother, and how do you embrace them both for yourself and your daughter?
Curiousity. It is something that I’ve passed down to G. I believe that there is so much to learn and so many ways to see the world. When you stay curious, you keep an open mind. You embrace diversity and you also embrace change, and NYC has a hell of a lot to offer when it comes to exploring diversity. When G was four, she decided that the day we went to the Pride Parade in June was the “best day ever”. To this day, it is still in her top two (the other two being the day she mastered the monkey bars on the playground ) list of best days ever. That day she felt the enormous positive energy. The love. The acceptance. She danced and cheered, and celebrated Pride and the LGBTQ+ community. And she learned. She learned that love is love.
We have attended so many amazing free cultural events throughout the city, eaten so many new cuisines in new neighborhoods, and met so many dynamic people over the course of G’s six years.
By fostering this sense of curiosity, she engages with the world to the fullest and is fearless when it comes to engaging with the people in it. To me this is priceless. To me, this is the best way to encourage an open mind.
Explaining to kids what systemic racism is and the various social movements/diversity & inclusion efforts in place to combat it can be really difficult. In an Instagram post you wrote: “It’s scary to hope that nobody targets your child or your parents- or your friends and family members. #stopAsianHate”. What does #stopAsianHate mean to you and how do you talk to your daughter about it?
Stop Asian Hate to me is about giving a voice to the AAPI community, which has been silent about outright attacks and micro-agressions for so long. I was recently chatting with one of my closest friends, who is the Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at a huge corporation, and she mentioned how as a community people of AAPI descent often just shrug off racism against us and accept it as the status quo. We sometimes compare our plight to that of other races and just tell ourselves that our situation is not as dire. But we shouldn’t have to lower our standards and just shoulder to pain of being marginalized. I don’t want G to ever feel like she matters less than other people.
When I posted about how scary it is to feel like a target, I was at a point where I was scared. Plain and simple. I was actually scared for myself, my family, and worst of all for G. From the start of the pandemic there was a lot of racial bias directed at Asian people. Some of my friends experienced it first hand, some were even so traumatized that they did not leave their apartments alone. I was so consumed with keeping us all healthy that the fear of being racially targeted wasn’t front of mind. But after the attacks became more frequent, and the horrific murders in Georgia, my fear heightened and there were times when I would be walking down the street while devising different ways to defend myself if I had to. And that’s scary and stressful. But I was raised to internalize my fears rather than expressing them, and this form of introversion can be very dangerous. So when I talk about stopping Asian hate with G, I tell her that she has to speak up for herself. The history of discrimination against Asians in this country traces back to the 1800s when the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. Then, the Immigration Act of 1917 barred Asians from entering the U.S. Fast forward to 2021, when over 6,000 anti-Asian hate crimes have been reported in the last year. Biden just signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act bill, which orders the Justice Department to review all hate crimes, including those against the AAPI community. Stop AAPI Hate, the organization that started tracking and reporting the incidents of hate, violence, and discrimination shortly after the pandemic started and many Asian Americans were being targeted as scapegoats for the virus, was a major catalyst for this development and you can donate to their cause via their website: stopaapihate.com. We need our voices to be heard.
One of the questions that G always asks is “Why?”. Why do people say and do racist things? And this is a good opportunity to raise the importance of education. As children and adults, we must learn the history of racism, and very importantly, listen to the people who have experienced it and hear what they have to say with an open heart and an open mind. Children have the advantage of seeing things from the human side without the baggage of politics. Educating our children about treating everyone equally and advocating for the people who need our help is the best that we can do as parents to create change and raise compassionate citizens. Two books that we have read from an early age have been very helpful. They are both from the Ordinary People Change the World series by Brad Meltzer. I am Rosa Parks is a book that G likes to read often, and I am Abraham Lincoln promotes advocating for those who need our help. Let The Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson and The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita L. Hubbard are two more very powerful books that have made an impact on G. So, when G ask me why people are racist, I tell her that racism is a learned behavior and we must always continue to educate ourselves.
One last question for you! Why is NYC the place where you want to raise your family?
I feel so grateful for the this city where we can hear several different languages spoken on a daily basis, see the beautiful spectrum of different skin colors, learn about a multitude of cultures, and engage with people from all walks of life. I feel the most comfortable when I am surrounded by diversity.
DIVERSITY is BEAUTIFUL! I cannot stress this enough. One of my main missions in life is to instill this value in my child as much as possible. As a kid who has lived in NYC all her life, G has always been surrounded by diversity. She also went to an International Preschool and learned to traditional Japanese, Moroccan, and Swahili songs. In fact, one of the songs that they used to sing almost daily was “We All Sing in the Same Voice”, which lists a wide range of differences among different people but asserts that we are all human beings at the end of the day. She gets to live this truth in the greatest city in the world!