Brenna lives in San Francisco, CA. With four years of experience as a former nanny, and three nieces and a nephew that she adores, Brenna has a solid understanding of how much moms do every day and deserve a break every once in a while!
Cold, rainy weather doesn't have to ruin birthday celebrations with these fun, indoor children's party ideas!
January 25th, 2013 | 6:01 AM
Splashing in the pool, soaking up the sunshine and chowing down on barbecue are some pleasures that make kids’ summer birthday parties a breeze. But for those born any other time of the year, water parks are closed down, the air is a frigid temperature and soup partnered with cold medicine becomes a typical menu item. Don’t burn out on pizza and slumber parties, Mom. We’ve got winter-proof birthday party ideas that will not only be fun to attend, but fun to plan (any time of year)!
These cold weather friendly party ideas will keep the kiddos’ birthday spirits high, despite the conditions outside. Forget singing “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to“ another year - winter birthday parties will become something the kids will look forward to knowing you’ve got something new, innovative and exciting in the works!
A few of our favorite Girls’ Birthday Party ideas are chic, sassy and celebrate your little princess:
- Fancy Schmancy Tea Party: Invite guests to wear fancy hats and jewelry, or provide some costumes for dress-up and warm up with fruity tea or hot cocoa; serve mini sandwiches with your little lady’s favorites condiments and let your guests decorate cookies or cupcakes for dessert. Prefer to skip the mess? You can find elegant cupcakes from most bakeries.
- Pop Star Concert: If you aren’t near a local recording studio, send VIP rockstar invites with exclusive “Backstage Passes,” then make a playlist of her favorite songs to burn onto CDs for favors, set up a video camera and let them create their very own music video. Let them sing and dance to their heart’s content while the camera rolls and the tunes play, before decorating cupcakes with edible glitter – every pop star needs some sparkle!
Some of our favorite Boys’ Birthday Party ideas are playful, adventurous and celebrate your little dude:
- Indoor Campout: Let them build a fort with sheets and blankets. Send them on a scavenger hunt through the house for goodies and prizes, and improvise with a s’mores pie or cake. End the night telling stories and singing some tunes in front of the toasty fireplace!
- Science Laboratory: Turn your kitchen into a science lab with a couple science experiments of the birthday boy’s choice. Let each guest decorate their very own white lab coat, and decorate the house with bio-hazardous and radioactive signs. You can even find science kits that contain everything you need for an explosive party!
If you don’t have the space, time or energy to host at home, we love these indoor party ideas that you can find in any town or city:
- Head to the neighborhood ice rink or roller rink, lace up some skates, and take a few laps. It’s fun for all ages, and most venues offer party rooms and packages
- For younger birthdays, local children’s museums will offer fun, crafty and hands-on activities that will keep them busy and entertained for hours
- Bowling is great for all ages, especially alleys that offer bumper lanes and fun glow bowl nights where the evening is lit up with glow-in-the-dark balls and neon signs
- Head to the movies! With great, mom-approved flicks and awesome kids packs (or sneak in some of your own DIY treats!) send the kids to an entertainment center that’ll send their imaginations aglow
- The local library often has excellent entertainment on the weekends – from story time to reading circle – and for those inquisitive groups a storybook adventure might be right up their alley
- YMCA always offers affordable, indoor fun that can be built do meet your needs – with bouncy houses, pool time or active indoor play
Starting a new exercise routine with the right motivational music is key to getting fit!
January 4th, 2013 | 6:20 AM
Whether you’re training for a marathon, pedaling to burn calories, or dancing to stay trim and toned, the perfect motivational workout playlist will keep your energy up to achieve your exercise resolutions! We all do it: workout goals at the beginning of the New Year fizzle after a few months. Avoid the landslide this year once and for all with music that will motivate your workout and keep a smile on your face regardless of your exercise of choice.
For the best motivational workout playlist, we recommend choosing songs with fast tempos and exciting beats. Starting and ending with a slightly slower song will help set the pace for a proper warm-up and cool-down. And a variety of music and genres will keep your mind active, so you can concentrate on the songs instead of side cramps (ouch!).
Workout playlists are useful for both solo and group exercise. Our very own District Consultant, Julie Schweers in Orange County said, “I love Shake Señora by Pitbull and T-Pain. When they play it at my Mommy Boot Camp, it just makes us smile, work harder, laugh, and makes us want to shake it!” One song that helps us get ready to break a sweat is “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons:
Whenever it’s time to hit the gym or head to the latest fitness class, remember to keep your mobile gadgets charged and ready to blast your playlist. Plum District’s FixMENYC deal for an iPhone 5 Accessory Pack might just be your motivation ticket to kick that New Year’s resolution. Don’t wait: Plum District’s deal ends soon, and we know you’re ready to jumpstart your exercise routine with an awesome song mix!
And to avoid any further delay, we’ve built an hour-long motivational workout playlist with some of our favorite songs that get us moving and grooving! You can listen, download, and get motivated with songs and playlists on Spotify:
Plum District shares our favorite kid's crafts and activities for school breaks and rainy days
November 29th, 2012 | 11:21 AM
When the final school bell rings this holiday break, kids celebrate their freedom from the classroom. Whether it’s an ordinary school day soaked with rain or the end of a semester, we have to be fully prepared with loads of activities to keep them entertained – without keeping them glued to electronics – while they’re home.
The good news: it’s easy to continue challenging their minds, keep them active, and have fun together during school breaks or stormy afternoons. Store-bought crafts, games and activities can be costly. Instead of splurging, there are infinite DIY projects and solutions that you can create with materials you already have at home! It’s time to do-it-yourself, Mama, and create some lasting memories perfect during any holiday or school break.
Using wooden craft sticks (we know you’ve got Popsicles stored in the freezer!), craft together giant DIY snowflakes. Perfect for the season, they’re easy to glue together and kids will love making their own designs. Then kids can paint them, color them with markers, or we recommend coating them with glitter! Let them experiment with shapes for a full day of creatively-crafty activity. Plus, get some more shape and decorating ideas at CraftyNest.com.
Once you’re in the crafty spirit, become adventurous world travelers with your kids – without even leaving the living room! All those leftover, recycled and unused boxes and cardboard tubes from holiday packaging are perfect for crafting DIY airplanes, cardboard cars, trains and other things that go-go-go, keeping your kids’ imaginations active and playful with engaging activities like building and racing!
Keep the grey winter bright with some colorful kid’s crafts this holiday break too! Kids will love getting a little messy and creative indoors, and you’ll love easy clean up. Let the kids melt wax crayons with a hair dryer to craft a colorful canvas design (use holiday colors to be extra festive!), or use food coloring in squirt bottles to paint holiday designs in snow. Making a few DIY no-mess finger painting stations with plastic taped over paint and paper will provide hours of artistic activity, and little ones won’t get their handprints on your walls!
One of our all-time favorite DIY kids crafts (that also makes a one-of-a-kind gift!) are Slip-Proof Socks. Using puff paints, you and the kids can create designs on the bottom of socks to keep tootsies warm while they’re running around the house on holidays and winter break!
You can browse all the other holiday crafts and school break activities we found, like Bubble Wrap Hopscotch, a DIY “Laser” Obstacle Course, and Cereal Box Guitars for endless fun no matter the season!
In the spirit of warming up this Autumn, we've found some delicious recipes with plenty of Fall flavor.
November 15th, 2012 | 10:39 AM
Instead of hibernating and storing up on food during the colder months, we bundle up in cozy sweaters and scarves, turn on the heater, and indulge in two months of holiday feasts. These meals are often shared with our dearest friends and family, with heaping servings of turkey, green beans and mashed potatoes. But as busy Moms, we want something nourishing, warm and tasty for our families every night of the season!
Whether you’re looking for a quick, hearty dinner or an alternative to your traditional side dish, we’ve found you tons of variations of your favorite Fall foods – everything from Turkey Potpie to Mashed Purple Sweet Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Chestnuts, and Pumpkin Creme Brûlée. Here are a few of our favorite family-friendly Fall dinners, but browse all the others we’ve found to make your holiday meal planning a little easier!
Roasted Pumpkin and Smoked Blue Cheese Lasagna
Prep Time: 20 Minutes; Cook Time: 60 Minutes
- 1 pie pumpkin
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small red onion
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1 egg white
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup crumbled smoked blue cheese
- 6 lasagna noodles
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 375˚.
- Take pumpkin and cut off top. Slice in half and scoop out the insides, reserving seeds for roasting. Cut each side in half and from there, cut each quarter of pumpkin into 1″ strips. Continue to cut pumpkin in to 1″ cubes and slice off shell on each piece. Cut pumpkin pieces in to ½” pieces.
- Dice the onion and toss with 2-3 cups pumpkin and olive oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until pumpkin is beginning to brown and is tender.
- While pumpkin roast, stir together ricotta, egg white, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook lasagna noodles until tender.
- In a small sauce pan, heat butter over medium-low. Once melted, whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in milk and continue to cook until sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in blue cheese.
- To assemble lasagna, pour ¼ of the blue cheese sauce at the bottom of an 9 x 6 pan. Layer lasagna noodles on top followed by ½ the ricotta, ½ the pumpkin mixture, and another ¼ of the blue cheese sauce. Repeat once more and for the final layer, add lasagna noodles, the remaining blue cheese sauce, and finish with mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cheese on top should be lightly browned.
Carrot Soup with Orange & Taragon
Prep Time: 20 Minutes; Total Time: 35 Minutes
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 1-pound bag classic-cut peeled carrots
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 3 cups low-salt chicken broth
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
- Fresh tarragon sprigs
- Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add carrots and onion; sauté until onion is soft, for about 8 minutes. Add broth; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, uncover, and simmer until carrots are tender, for about 10 minutes.
- Working in batches, puree soup in blender until very smooth. Return soup to pot.
- Stir in orange juice, brandy, and chopped tarragon. Simmer 5 minutes for flavors to blend.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish soup with tarragon sprigs and serve.
Baked Apple Cider Doughnut Holes
Prep Time: 10 Minutes; Cook Time: 10 Minutes
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 large egg
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup apple butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 cup apple cider
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt (I used plain nonfat Greek yogurt)
- 2 Tbsp canola oil
- canola cooking spray
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
- In another large bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, apple butter, vanilla extract, honey, apple cider, yogurt, and canola oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient mixture and whisk until just incorporated. Don’t over-mix – a few lumps are okay.
- Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, fill a 24-hole mini muffin pan with the batter; fill each hole only 3/4 of the way, or you’ll end up with huge mini muffins (maxi muffins?). Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes and cool on a wire rack.
- While donut holes are still warm, melt butter in a microwave safe dish. Combine cinnamon and sugar in another dish. Using a pastry brush, very lightly brush a tiny bit of melted butter onto the top of each donut hole, then dip the top of the muffin in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the donut hole in the cinnamon sugar to coat the sides and top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
We have some creative ways to cool down when temperatures outside are soaring.
August 3rd, 2012 | 2:41 PM
Summer makes us think of one thing – hot, hot, hot weather! This year has been exceptionally warm and toasty for certain parts of the United States and you’re running out of creative ways to beat the beat! You can’t control Mother Nature, but you can control how you chill out. Here are some tips and ideas to enjoy cooler, more fun summer days without everyone melting!
- Fill water balloons and chill them in the fridge for a few minutes before breaking into teams for a friendly water fight in the back yard.
- Turn on the sprinklers and play favorite outdoor games while getting soaked – tag, red rover, soccer and touch football are a few!
- Tackle those chores! Wash the car and let the kids manage the hose. Everyone is sure to get sprayed!
- Put your favorite yogurt in the freezer for an hour, then voila! Icy, tasty frozen yogurt. Even yummier – sprinkle dark chocolate chips on top.
- Fill a pitcher with water and slices of your favorite fruit. Sweet, refreshing and hydrating – the kids will gulp it up like juice, but it doesn’t have all that sugar!
- On warm nights, set up the tent and have a good old fashioned camp out.
- Most local ice rinks stay open year-round. Dig out the long sleeve shirts and go for an afternoon or arctic fun!
- When you go to the beach, station your chair in the surf so the water washes up to your feet every time.
- Inflate the baby pools and unfold the slip and slides. Gather with neighbors and dump bath toys in each pool, so all the kids can play and splash.
- Instead of cranking up your A/C at home, stroll through the mall or catch the hot new summer flick at the theater.
- And last, but definitely not least, nothing beats a cannonball or diving competition in the neighborhood pool!
We’d love to know how your family creatively beats the heat. Let us know!
You don't have to venture far to experience the best of summer vacations with your loved ones.
July 1st, 2012 | 1:11 PM
By Heidi Ongman, guest blogger
A staycation is the art of staying local but acting like you are on a vacation. It is a great way to have some quality family time without the hassle and expense of a traditional vacation. The possibilities of things to do are endless and with some planning and preparation you are sure to create some amazing family memories.
First, suffer the typical pre-vacation stress that you would if you were actually going away. Clean your house, “pack” your clothes, pay bills, stock up on food, and let the office know you are on vacation. Being prepared is the most important part! You don’t want to spend your entire staycation looking for matching socks and running errands.
Also, decide as a family what everyone would enjoy doing and come up with a plan beforehand. Water parks, amusements parks, museums, and movies are all great places to spend time together as a family. The summer months are also full of free concerts, outdoor movies, festivals, and farmers markets. Decide before what you are going to do each day to avoid confusion and arguing. Here are a few more unique and creative ideas to make your staycation a success.
- Go back to school. Spend a day exploring a local college campus. College campuses have such a fun and exciting feel. Find a sporting event, check out the football stadium, buy some souvenirs at the bookstore, and eat some grub at the local hot spot.
- Visit some horses. Go out for a horseback ride, enjoy a local rodeo, or go and watch the horse races. You can’t go wrong with any of these ideas – kids love animals and cowboys.
- Turn your yard into a fun zone. Get out the slip ‘n’ slide, play your favorite music, BBQ, make s’mores, and end the night with an outdoor movie while sleeping under the stars. You could even splurge and rent an inflatable waterslide, with all the money you’re saving by not traveling.
- Find a last minute deal on a hotel room in your city. Stay the night, enjoy the pool, and let the kids eat room service in bed. You may only be a few miles from home, but you will feel like you are a thousand miles away.
- Learn about your local history. Do some research and learn about the unique and historical landmarks in your area and go visit them. You might be surprised!
- Experience a new adventure as a family. There is not much better for family bonding then doing something new for everyone together. Go zip lining, rafting, water skiing, rock climbing, indoor skydiving, or anything else that is out of the ordinary for your family.
Most importantly, just spend time together connecting and bonding as a family. Let the chores wait, turn off the phones, and have fun!
Our guest blogger is an active mom to four kids. She strives to inspire others to get out and explore this amazing world we all share through her blog at MyBlissfulBrood.com. With her passion for travel and adventure, she hopes to encourage other families to do the same!
Friday Fundraisers are making a difference and aren't just for Fridays anymore
June 7th, 2012 | 9:13 AM
Plum District is in the community every day. We live, work and play in the places we call home, and we’re dedicated to giving back and making a positive difference. Since we started Friday Fundraisers in February, we’ve been partnering with our amazing vendors to raise money for deserving causes all around the country.
Last week, we did a nationwide Friday Fundraiser for Locks Of Love. Salons participated in contributing 10% of every purchase to Locks of Love for wigs and hair pieces for children with medical hair loss.
This week, we’re expanding our efforts beyond a single day, and hosting a five-day fundraiser in Austin, TX for Food In Tummies. Food in Tummies or “FIT,” a project of The Junior League of Austin, is a unique program designed to provide weekend nourishment to children grades K – 5 who qualify for the National School Lunch Program. The FIT program, managed by JLA volunteers, helps these hungry Austin children by delivering backpacks of nutritious food each week to Austin area elementary schools – helping over 1,400 families a week!
Plum District is partnering with five prominent Austin companies this week, contributing 10% – 20% of all proceeds generated by offers to FIT:
Kendra Scott: $30 for $60 to Spend on Jewelry & 20% Benefits FIT
Bright Beginnings: $15 for $30 to Spend on Children’s Clothing & 10% Benefits FIT
Plush Fabric & Home Interiors: $50 for $150 Worth of Fabric and Trim & 20% Benefits FIT
In March, Plum District partnered with Newport Kids Consignment in Orange County, CA to benefit Sonora Elementary School in Costa Mesa. District Consultant Stephanie Graney said, “The school reported that they received more in one check from us than they did from two other programs. It felt so good to give back!”
In February, we partnered with Pump It Up in Raleigh to benefit Brier Creek Elementary School. District Consultant Leslie Pawlak shared a thank you note from the school, that said with the $800 raised, they were able to directly support the art classroom in their school.
Our efforts don’t stop there! Be on the look out every Friday for more offers that give back!
Boxes are for far more than just packing and organizing
May 30th, 2012 | 12:32 AM
Special occasion or not, I love giving my three nieces gifts, wrapped in a box with decorative paper and a big bow. Watching them unwrap presents, it’s never ceased to make me laugh at the way children sometimes like playing with the packaging more than the gift itself. But as I’ve watched them outgrow their curious toddler tendencies – now 4, 6, and 8 years old – their interest in playing with the boxes has dwindled, making me nostalgic for the days when I, too, used boxes to build my own Barbie dream houses. It’s inevitable that growing up leads to losing our youthfully active imaginations. When we’re faced with the real world and responsibilities, it becomes difficult to pretend. Which is why I cherish and encourage them to play in whatever make-believe world they can imagine as often as possible, and to build it with boxes.
With imagination, a box can become anything. Like the book, “Not a Box“ by Antoinette Portis, such a simple thing like a cardboard cube can make playtime a lot more exciting.
Some of our District Consultants shared the ways they or their kids utilize boxes:
Samantha Weld, Boston: ”When I get shipments, my kids get in the boxes with the packing peanuts and pretend they’re taking a bath!”
Shannon Vetter, Washington DC: ”My son made a road for his cars. We also made a cityscape for Lego creations. Their latest invention was box races. They would have to race one another, wearing a box, collecting various items from the ground. It was hilarious … they could hardly bend over to pick things up!”
Betsy Larson, San Diego: My daughter makes robots from old boxes.
Amy Rucker, Raleigh: We had an entire box birthday party one year. We got huge refrigerator and appliance boxes from the store and let the kids create a fort and maze out of them in our basement for a rainy party. We cut windows and doors, and gave them markers to decorate the outside and inside. They LOVED it!
Here are 32 more box ideas from Tip Junkie!
Style is about a lot more than just a wardrobe, but in this case, we'd love to raid their closets!
May 24th, 2012 | 11:30 PM
Mom bloggers are engaged in their communities, seeking useful, fun, and trendy information to share with the world. These particular mom bloggers have style (and brains!) that we absolutely adore!
Nicole Feliciano – Mom Trends
Some fashionistas refuse to give up high heels even after the kids come along. You’ll find regular tips for living well and making the most out of motherhood, profiles of inspiring Momtrenpreneurs, fashion trends, reviews and more.
Audrey Couto McClelland – Mom Generations
Audrey Couto McClelland left the fashion world of Donna Karan International in NYC to raise her brood of four boys. She’s learned that you can take the girl out of the Fashion District, but you can’t take the Fashion District out of the girl.
James Kicinski-McCoy – Bleu Bird Vintage
James encourages other moms to get up and get dressed every day. When you take a little bit of time for yourself each morning, you feel better physically and emotionally. There’s no need to give up your style just because you had a baby!
Nina – Momma Go Round
Nina offers style, on a real budget, for real women. Join her as she tackles the latest fashions, discovers what works, and what doesn’t, craft new styles and accesories, while making it all toddler-friendly!
Andrea Fellman – Savvy Sassy Moms
Andrea Fellman is a mom who hasn’t lost her style to motherhood! Savvy is to be experienced, well-informed, intelligent. Sassy is to be lively, spirited, stylish and chic.
Becki Crosby – Whippy Cake
Becki Crosby is the mom in the grocery store sporting the just-rolled-out-of-bed look with a posh twist to make you think she did it on purpose. She wears stripes with polka dots and white after Labor Day!
Memory blankets are a crafty, unique way to preserve your kids' childhood.
May 16th, 2012 | 10:47 PM
By Melissa Carlisle
Melissa Carlisle is a local and national District Consultant, as well as the author of the MelissaStuff blog. She’s the mother of three boys – 6, 4 and 2 years old – making it easy for her to know exactly what kinds of deals you are looking for as a mom.
As your kids outgrow their baby clothes it can be incredibly difficult to bring yourself to throw them out. There’s that adorable preemie outfit, the toddler shirt that fit their budding personality perfectly, or even the blanket that they couldn’t live without for years.
But what do you do with them? Keeping a stack of clothes, blankets and bibs for years seems silly. What will your kids do with any of that stuff?
Memory blankets are the perfect answer. Experienced quilters can take outfits, t-shirts, blankets, and even smaller sentimental pieces can be preserved in a gorgeous, functional quilt. If you’re the crafty type with basic sewing skills, you can make a memory quilt on your own. There are some great tutorials like Lil Blue Boo and The Bunk House , that show you how to make a tee-shirt quilt, step-by-step!
If that’s beyond your skill-set or you have little kids running around your house getting into every project you start, there are some great online solutions. If you are comfortable mailing off your memorabilia to a seamstress and paying $150 – $1000+, professional quilters will take your shirts, create a quilt and ship it right back to you.
My personal opinion is to grab a memory quilt offer right here on Plum District, like this offer from Mominizer – and have a quilt made in the easiest, most economic way possible! Save your money, time and memories all at the same time!
Have you made a memory blanket (or had one made)? What materials did you use? Did you keep it for yourself or give it to your kids?