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Mother Essentials

Mother Essentials: Kellie Menendez

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Kathleen Sheffer

Patterns—they are all around us. This is the message of Kellie Menendez‘ debut children’s book, Patterns, Patterns Everywhere. The San Francisco-based founder of textile studio Half Full knows a thing or two about intently studying the world around her and using that inspiration to create stunning hand-drawn patterns. Her lyrically written and illustrated book takes this practice one step further, by encouraging folks of all ages to spot the patterns in their lives—not just visually, but the patterns they can hear, feel, and create. Kellie—who will be reading from her new book at our Family Fun Day event in San Diego this weekend—fills us in on the current Mother Essentials for herself and her 11-year-old son, Adrian. (Can you spot any patterns?)

Case for Making Handmade Watercolors. “Their colors are beautiful and it feels super luxurious to put together a palette of colors you chose. Case for Making is a small, local business, plus, they have great supplies for kids, too!” Handmade Water Colors, from $7, Case for Making.

Mommy & Me Art. “Something I love doing with my son is drawing together in nature or using parts of nature as reference for art. Since he is more mathematically inclined, it is also fun to build creative structures with Magna-Tiles or blocks.” Classic 32-Piece Magna-Tiles Construction Set, $49.50, Amazon.

Patterns, Patterns Everywhere. “My inaugural children’s book—that I both wrote and illustrated—invites readers to notice the world around them and the patterns they encounter in their everyday lives. Children are encouraged to discover patterns they can see, hear, feel, and create through recognition in art, music, nature, and in their daily routines.” Patterns, Patterns Everywhere, $18.55, Bookshop and Amazon.

Backyard Bird Chronicles. “My new favorite book is Backyard Bird Chronicles, written and illustrated by Amy Tan (Joy Luck Club). She shares with us, as an ‘unreliable narrator,’ the evolution of her journey to discover and learn about drawing birds and other creatures in her backyard. It is both joyful and funny!” The Backyard Bird Chronicles, $32.55, Bookshop and Amazon.

Bird Song. “When our house burned down in the Tubbs Fire and I visited the land, the first thing I noticed was the quiet and then again when nature started to recover. I noticed the sounds of birds. Listen to the sounds of birds with your kids and discover where and from who they are coming from.”

Family Travel. “Speaking of discovery, connecting with family and friends while discovering something new together is what creates the memories of a lifetime. My go-tos for exploration are riding bikes on a long bike trail in the country with my son and my husband, or going for a road trip down or up the California coast!”

Bird Bingo. “It’s obvious I love birds, but this game, Bird Bingo, holds a special place in my heart and anyone of any age can play it. It has brought joy to many occasions with those young and not so young.” Bird Bingo, $32.99, Anthropologie.

Liberation Nails. “This brand was created by its founder, Staci Morris, in honor of her mother and has a backstory written in acceptance and empathy that shows in its marketing. The products are non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty free, plus it has a kids line, Libbi! I especially love the cuticle treatment, it smells and feels so good!” Cuticle Recovery Oil, $22, Liberation Nails.

Nopalera. “I believe passion makes the product, and having Mexican American heritage myself, I have a strong affinity for the story behind Nopalera, told by owner Sandra Velasquez. Buy yourself the body scrub or the lotion bar.” Cactus Flower Exfoliant, $32, Nopalera. Lotion Bar, $30, Nopalera

Ceremonia Hair Mask. “Along those lines and speaking of self-care, I couldn’t live without Ceremonia’s hair mask. Not to mention Babba Rivera, the founder, is one amazing mama. Congratulations to her on the new twins!” Deep Conditioning Hair Mask, $24, Ceremonia.

Go-To Jeans. “I have been wearing Adriano Goldschmied jeans and pants for years now and they are soft, last forever, and can be casual or dressed up. Plus, I love that they recycle their water and care about sustainability.” High-Rise Straight Jean, $215, AG.

Shiunko Blush Face Oil. “Kerry Benjamin created this line to address her personal skincare needs and put extra thought into every product. Your skin looks amazing and fresh after a few drops of this product.” Shiuko Blush Face Oil, $85, Stacked Skincare.

Nike Running Shoes. “Choose the flyknit, it stretches in the right place when you run and accommodates a high arch or a wide foot. The sole is light and doesn’t slow you down. I wear mine around town too!” React Infinity 3, $96.97, Nike.

Earbuds for Jogging. “I absolutely love these earbuds. They stay in place and have great sound. The last pair I had kept going like new for 8 years, I am convinced they would have kept going forever but I put them in the washer…and the dryer!” Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2, $199.99, Amazon.

Appaman Suit For Kids. “My son has been wearing this brand since he was a toddler. I love their suits because they are stretchy, relaxed, and comfortable. This color is a little more playful and can be serious or worn with one of their patterned dress suits and tennis shoes to make it even more fun!” Appaman Stretchy Mod Suit, $180, Maisonette.

Half Full Analisse Print. “This print was made as labor of love. It is named after a woman I admire. The pattern draws from the Magnificent Magnolia event at the S.F. Botanical Gardens and is a modern take on an old world chinoiserie-style pattern. This was hand-drawn on 6 pieces of paper and created to repeat end-to-end in every direction.” Analisse Print, $385, Half Full.

Playing the Flute. “Yes, I am a nerd at heart. I started playing the flute in grade school then stopped in my early teens and picked it back up during COVID. I love that your mind and body are engaged when you play an instrument, it’s relaxing and for me like an out-of-body meditation. I get the same joy from dance for much of the same reason. Now I keep the flute to the side of me and play it whenever I need a break or am feeling a little anxious.”

Grand Coffee. “This place is like a second home. I have been going here, with my husband, since they opened their first location in a tiny side window in front of the old Grand Theatre in the Mission of San Francisco. The coffee is unbeatable, the people are real, and it is a staple in my daily routine.” GrandCoffeeSF.com.

Tea Collection Eagle Tee. “My dad loved predator birds, so I have a soft spot for them too. Tea Collection sizes go up to 16, so my son has grown up with this brand and still has a few years left to grow. Also, who doesn’t love Tea Collection? Their name comes from the idea that we can all share over a cup of tea, and they give back to kids.” Golden Eagle Graphic Tee, $14.99, Tea Collection.

Friends Supporting Friends. “Finally, I admire my entrepreneurial friends and I find it inspiring to see them succeed so a chosen thing to do is spend time at their events and launches. What could be better than supporting our female-identifying friends who run their own business? It’s a win-win!”

For more MOTHER ESSENTIALS, peep our recent features on the mamas behind MAJO Ideas, APRIL SHOWERS of Afro Unicorn, crafty mamas ERIN BOYLE AND ROSE PEARLMAN, writers CLEO WADE and ALEX ELLE, comedian JENNY SLATE, poet MAGGIE SMITH, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream co-founder LAURA O’NEILL, author and doula BRANDI SELLERZ-JACKSON, designer CLARE VIVIER, Miles & Milan founder SHENNEL FULLERGRACE NA of Pistola, the designers behind MILK TEETH, photographer NICKI SEBASTIAN, Duster co-founder MELISSA MAGSAYSAY, Herman Miller creative director KELSEY KEITH, chef VALERIE GORDON, artist ERIN JANG, and Chicago party mom KRISTEN KAZA.

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