The Holiday Downtime Guide

    This week, we've rounded up various fun and interesting ways to enrich and otherwise fill your holiday downtime. Enjoy!


    If you're lucky enough to be getting an iPhone or iPad for Christmas:

    Star Walk

    Old news but still pretty amazing. You can point your iPhone/iPad anywhere in the sky and it tells you exactly what constellation you're looking at. Plus, at Christmas time you can see Santa's path across the sky.
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    Flight Track

    So you always know when your loved ones have taken off and landed safely. I use this one all the time.
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    An actual turntable on your iPad. This is great for people who take “djaying” for parties really seriously - with seamless transitions from song to song and playlists you can save.
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    We love the look and feel of the app and the idea of sharing experiences through images rather than words. Recently, we met co-founder Kevin Systrom, who is 27 years old, by the way, and he told us about how he came up with the vintage feel for the photographic capabilities of the app; after having fallen in love with a Holga camera in a college photography class, he applied the same look to the app a few years later. We'll be firing up our account soon...
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    And for art lovers

    Both the MoMA and the Tate have released wonderful apps for art lovers. The MoMA's image heavy iPhone app lets you get acquainted with the entire permanent collection, while the Tate provides an incredibly useful glossary of art terms
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    iF Poems

    A poetry app meant for kids but also delightful for adults – it’s a compendium of classic poetry, some of it read by Helena Bonham Carter and Bill Nighy. It's a fun primer for getting into (or back into) poetry. You can also record yourself reading a poem and send it to a friend. Ten per cent of all sales go to Save The Children.
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    The Heart & The Bottle

    Children's writer and illustrator Oliver Jeffers' already touching story about a girl grieving for her grandfather comes to a whole new life with this super interactive, engaging, and beautifully produced app. Definitely ups the ante for children's apps. We were transported for a good half hour playing with it at the goop hq.
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    Drawing Pad

    This has definitely been one of my daughter's mainstays on the iPad. It's in constant use and the possibilities for the kind of art you can produce on it are pretty astounding. David Hockney is on to something with the Brushes app, which is a bit more advanced.
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    Sound Shaker

    A sweet and beautifully designed app for young kids to engage with sound.
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    And of course, there's our first app...

    In case you missed it last week, our first goop app - A New York City Guide - is now available on the App Store And, in the next few months, you'll be able to purchase our guides to London, Los Angeles and many more.

    When your kids are bored after all the time off, some tried and tested activities for them:


    A German toy company that makes cardboard sets for kids to build and paint, makes these great castles. A friend of mine gave both my kids a Calafant castle last year, which kept them happily employed for hours, and at the end they had a toy to play with and keep.
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    Customized Bulletin Boards

    Todd Oldham's kids’ crafts book, Kid Made Modern, which we featured before in our Children's Book guide, has gotten us through many a vacation period. Our newest favorite activity is the customized bulletin board.
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    Moses’ and Apple’s customized boards

    No bake baking

    We recently made The Hummingbird Bakery's Chocolate Fridge Bars from The Hummingbird Bakery's Cookbook by Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers. They require no dangerous implements or baking so they are great to get the kids involved in. Recipe below:
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    Chocolate Fridge Cake Bars

    Makes 12 portions

    • 200 ml golden syrup
    • 100 g cocoa powder
    • 200 g raisins
    • 800 g digestive biscuits, broken into small chunks

    1.A 33 x 23 x 5 cm baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper.

    2.Put the butter, golden syrup and cocoa powder in a large saucepan over medium heat and heat until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally.

    3.Put the biscuit chunks and raisins in a large bowl and pour the chocolate mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until everything is well mixed and the biscuits and raisins are evenly dispersed.

    4.Press the mixture into the prepared baking tray, using a tablespoon to flatten and compress it. Cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper, then a tray covered in jam jars or tins to apply pressure on the cake and compress it even more. Leave to cool completely, then refrigerate for a couple of hours, or overnight if possible.

    When you have a moment to yourself (on a plane, on a walk, while cleaning up), listen to:

    Excuses Begone! by Wayne Dyer

    My very successful girlfriend swears by this audiobook. It's a good read to get ready and make some changes for the New Year.

    And when your mother-in-law has finally succeeded in driving you up the wall, here are two humorous favorites to take the edge off:

    Two very personal books by two very funny women.

    by Tina Fey

    Sometimes I feel like a nut
    by Jill Kargman

    My Holiday Music Picks:

    Christmas Lights
    by Coldplay

    I'll be Home for Christmas
    by Frank Sinatra

    White Christmas
    by Flaming Lips

    When you're ready for a drink:
    Brandy Alexander

    Makes 1 cocktail

    • 1 oz good brandy
    • 1/2 oz creme de cacao
    • 1 tsp maple syrup
    • 1 1/2 oz cream
    • nutmeg or garam masala (optional)

    Shake with ice, strain into a small martini glass and top with a fresh scrape of nutmeg and a pinch of garam masala too if you'd like.

    This is the wreath made by the Blackheath Wreath Company that's hanging on our door this year with apples and reeds to represent each of my kids.

    And, if you're planning on spending some serious time in the kitchen:

    Bought, Borrowed & Stolen
    by Allegra McEvedy

    More than a cookbook, this is a scrapbook of Allegra McEvedy's culinary travels through no less than 20 countries. Divided geographically, with several highlight recipes from each place, the recipes are all easy to make and still very distinctive to the place where they are from. Beyond the recipes, and Allegra's very personal accounts on each place, the layout is simply fantastic and that makes for a very special book.

    Martha's Entertaining
    by Martha Stewart

    This is a tome of almost biblical proportions on the subject of entertaining for any time of year and on any occasion. In the book we're invited into the places where Martha entertains most, at home in Bedford and in Maine, and at friends' houses. As usual, Martha Stewart reaches that singular combination of personal and practical for her trademark pitch perfect entertaining.

    The Sweet Life
    by Sam Talbot

    Because of his lifelong struggle with diabetes, Sam Talbot - who we know and love from Top Chef and from the wonderful Surf Lodge in Montauk - is a pioneer in cooking healthy meals that rank low on the glycemic index. This is a handbook on how to make fun, easy and extremely healthy food for the entire family - and enjoy it while you're at it. This is a great one for parents looking for simple and healthy recipes for their kids.

    The PDT Cocktail Book
    by Jim Meehan

    by Jim Meehan

    Our friend Jim Meehan, of one of our favorite bars in NYC - PDT(featured in our app) - has come out with his guide to cocktails. They are guaranteed to be delicious. Also, check out our festive cocktails newsletter from a few years ago to see the recipes he came up with for us then.

    Momofuku Milk Bar
    by Christina Tosi

    Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC is the place to get the most inventive, original and yet familiar desserts. Head chef Christina Tosi is a major sugar addict who creates nostalgic recipes that are simultaneously modern. Cereal milk is one of her ice-cream flavors. She uses cornflakes in her cookies. In short, Tosi taps into our most familiar childhood cravings and makes something new with them. Warning: you're going to need some serious time to achieve her results, but it's worth it.

    Eleven Madison Park
    by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara

    The cookbook for one of New York's most elegant venues is correspondingly chic. More than a cookbook, and a great one at that, it's a coffee table book with Francesco Tonelli's very sleek and modern photography that matches the caliber of the food. Quite simply a beautiful book.

    The Family Meal
    by Ferran Adrià

    Traditionally, "The Family Meal" is the meal that the staff at a restaurant takes a break to make and enjoy to fuel a night of more cooking. It's an honor to be invited behind the scenes of the legendary El Bulli where 75 staff members ate a family meal every day until the restaurant closed its doors this past summer. A completely visual book, with few instructions and a lot of very illuminating photos for each step of the way. One of the coolest and most innovative cookbooks in a long time.

    by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Maxine Billet

    This six volume collection is not exactly a cookbook, it's more like a science textbook/encyclopedia of cooking terms/cookbook/definitive guide to the techniques and ingredients that define Molecular Gastronomy. It's not exactly for home chefs (unless you have a centrifuge and an evaporator lying around) but it is a fascinating read with beautiful photography.

    The goop collection