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Share these crowd pleasers at a holiday event, dinner party, or wrap them up as gifts!
December 7th, 2012 | 6:18 AM
One thing we love about the holidays? The never-ending flow of delectable sweets to our doorstep, kitchen table, under the Christmas tree… and ultimately, to our tummy. This year, delight your friends and family with holiday goodies unlike the rest. We’re excited to share some of our favorite, easy recipes that are perfect for all those holiday events and gift-giving. Send some to school with your kid to share with the class!
Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bites (Recipe)
These guys are much easier to make than it seems.
All you need is four simple ingredients: store-bought caramels, a bag of pretzel nuggets, semisweet chocolate, and almonds.
Dress them up with the holiday sprinkle colors of your choice! Red and green for Christmas, blue and white for Hanukkah… you get the idea.
Gingerbread Cupcakes (Recipe)
The holidays call for gingerbread. Gingerbread cookies, gingerbread houses, gingerbread lattes…. this seasonal flavor is all around you to enjoy.
When you’re looking to get your gingerbread fix, but want to lighten the load of sugar and fat, pull out this relatively healthy recipe from Weight Watchers and bake away!
Using whole wheat flour, applesauce, molasses, and a medley of spices like ginger, cinnamon, and allspice, these fluffy cakes are sure to satisfy your holiday sweet tooth.
English Toffee (Recipe)
A holiday classic. Who doesn’t love the crunchy, smooth richness of this heavenly dessert?
Get your hands on six ingredients (which you probably already have at home), and you’re set to go.
This recipe calls for white sugar, chocolate chips, walnuts, butter, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.
Christmas Tree Rice Krispie Pops (Recipe)
How cute are these? Kids (and adults) love these festive, easy-to-eat treats on a stick. They’re also mess-free, so no need to worry about wiping and washing your hands, or licking your fingers after.
Make rice krispie treats as you normally would, add green food coloring to the melted marshmallows, and once the treats are cooled, use cookie cutters, lollipop sticks, and colored candies to finish them off.
Celebrating a different holiday? Choose a different cookie cutter and colors.
Cinnamon-Chocolate Ganache Hanukkah Cookies (Recipe)
Adapted from The Ultimate Cookie Book (Wiley, 2007), these delicious holiday cookies are oh-so-pretty with their six points and powdered surface.
A tantalizing combination of chocolate, cinnamon, and smooth ganache, these cookies are impressive to say the least.
Bake ‘em, cool ‘em, and sandwich the creamy ganache between two cookies. They’ll be a hit!
Note: Like the rice krispie recipe above, you can switch up the cookie cutters depending on the holiday you’re celebrating!
Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites (Recipe)
A combination of our favorite flavors. These holiday bites are so festive, fun… and creative!
The ingredients are simple (again, you probably have most of it in your pantry already): creamy peanut butter, softened butter, powdered sugar, brown sugar, pretzels, and chocolate chips!
Grab this easy recipe to get started on a dessert that’ll bring a smile to everyone.
Get your kids to join you in the kitchen, and make memories while you make these holiday sweets. And, while you’re waiting for the them to cool, give yourself a fab at-home, salon-like gel manicure for that upcoming event!
Affordable pieces that'll have you looking effortlessly gorgeous!
August 7th, 2012 | 11:52 AM
Ahh, those flowy, breezy, summer dresses. They’re lovely, so comfortable to wear, and signify our favorite warm-weather, vacation season. You probably have at least one more getaway planned before the busy school year kicks in, and I’ve done a little research to help you find a couple more chic pieces for your summer wardrobe. When it’s vacation time, we like to simplify our routines; throw on one of these dresses in the morning and you’re set to go! No need to spend time piecing together an ensemble when you could be relaxing with your family.
Here are five classic, practical dresses – all under $100, I might add – to meet your getaway fashion needs:
Heather Maxi Tube Skirt/Dress by Splendid: $88 at ShopBop.com.
Simple, convertible, and can be worn with a favorite top!
Highline Strip Blouson Maxi Dress: $98 at Piperlime.Gap.com.
Look elegant and comfortable during the day, straight through the night.
Ruched Tie-Waist Dress by Old Navy: $24.94 at OldNavy.Gap.com.
Available in classic navy and a fun, bright orange for a price that can’t be beat.
Ponte Shift Dress by Tinley Road: $59 at Piperlime.Gap.com.
Such a lovely, chic piece for the evening. Comes in three colors! Spice it up with a favorite piece of jewelry.
Zig Zag Print Asymmetrical Dress by Mossimo: $22 at Target.com.
Flirty, fun, and berry-colored! Huge plus: it won’t break the bank.
Enjoy these wonderful dresses while the weather’s warm, and feel good knowing that you don’t need to spend an arm and leg to expand your wardrobe with great options.
Beautify your tresses and help a child get the hair he or she deserves
May 31st, 2012 | 11:08 AM
You’ve heard of Locks of Love. It’s a not-for-profit organization that provides the highest quality wigs to children with medical hair loss. These children do not have the money to spend $3,500-$6,000 on a wig (the normal retail price), and Locks of Loves gives them custom-made, incredibly natural-looking hairpieces for free. The majority of recipients have hair loss due to an auto-immune condition known as Alopecia Areata, and others suffer from severe burns, radiation treatment, and other dermatological conditions. Locks of Love hairpieces are in high demand, and each takes four months to make.
Today, 10% of the proceeds from your purchase of our Friday Fundraiser offers will go to to Locks of Love to help a child in need. The following local and national deals have partnered with us to support this great cause. Be sure to buy in the next few days so that your $$ benefits a child who needs it.
NuMeStyle.com (online – available in all regions) – Plum District Offer: $30 for $130 Worth of Hair Styling Tools and Hair Extensions from NuMe
Elaine’s Salon, Fishers, IN — Plum District Offer: $35 for a Haircut from Expert Stylist Mark Starnes – $75 Value
Plum Studios Salon, Burlingame, CA – Plum District Offers: $50 for $100 Worth of Hair Services from Stylist Showkat Fallahi OR $70 for Full Highlights ($140 Value) or $150 for a Brazilian Blowout (a $300 Value) with Kate Lawson
Green Alley Salon, Austin, TX – Plum District Offer: $15 for a Blowout, $35 Deva Curl Cut, or $70 for Partial Highlights – Up to $170 Value
Studio 4 Salon, Newport Beach, CA – Plum District Offer: $45 for a Shampoo, Haircut, Kerastase Treatment, and a Blow + Style from Eddie- a $120 Value
Bang Salon, Denver, CO – Plum District Offer: $20 for $40 OR $35 for $70 Toward Salon Hair Services from Bang Salon
P2 Studios, Highlands Ranch, CO – Plum District Offer: 50% Off Hair Services for Men and Women (a great Father’s Day gift)
Keep Austin Gorgeous, Austin, TX — Plum District Offer: $30 for a Shampoo, Haircut and Style – a $60 Value
Crunchy, perfectly sweetened granola that can be modified to include your favorite ingredients!
May 28th, 2012 | 9:39 PM
It’s hard to find a great-tasting granola that isn’t loaded with fat and sugar. And often times, the good stuff costs an arm and leg.
Here’s an easy recipe that’ll leave you with a batch that’s full of flavor, crunchy, clumpy, perfectly sweetened, and low in fat. I made it the other day and my family loved it (it hardly lasted three days).
- 4 cups of rolled oats
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 cup of dried cherries
- Preheat oven to 300 F.
- Spray two baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, mix together the rolled oats, nuts, cinnamon, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites, oil, honey, and vanilla for about 45 seconds. Pour mixture on top of the dry ingredients.
- Mix wet and dry ingredients together until the wet evenly coats the dry.
- Split the granola evenly between two baking sheets, making a doughnut shape with no granola in the center (this shape allows the granola to bake evenly). Pat down the granola with your hands or the back of a spatula.
- Bake granola in pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown, rotating the baking sheets about halfway through the baking time.
- Let granola sit for about 35-40 minutes, or until room temperature, before breaking into clumps. Gently mix in the dried cherries (adding the dried fruit after baking prevents it from becoming hard and too dry).
- Store in an airtight container.
Other dried fruits to consider: raisins, dried blueberries, dried raspberries, and dried cranberries.
Other nuts to consider: cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, and macadamia nuts.
Other spices and extracts to consider: nutmeg, cardamom, and maple extract.
You can also add seeds, like flax or sesame!
Bake your own batch of granola so that you can control everything that goes in it. You just might start a new family tradition! I suggest you make it over the weekend so that you can enjoy it throughout the week. This is a great activity for your kids to be a part of, and it can even be used as a gift for your neighbor! Sprinkle it on top of greek yogurt for a healthy breakfast or great snack.
(The original Have-It-Your-Way Granola recipe was found online at Confessions of a Bright Eyed Baker – www.brighteyedbaker.com)
Take your summer BBQ to the next level with some thick, delicious sauces that'll jazz up your favorite meat and vegetable dishes
May 21st, 2012 | 9:53 PM
Our first recipe comes from Stephanie Graney, a District Consultant who lives in Huntington Beach, California with her two daughters and husband.
Gluten-Free Balsamic BBQ Sauce:
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until all are blended well and the mixture is smooth. Simmer mixture over medium to low heat until reduced by 1/3 – about 15 to 20 minutes. Brush onto chicken, steak, or sausage, and grill or broil in the oven. This sauce can also be lightly brushed onto veggies. Looking for a tasty appetizer? Make the sauce, add sliced chicken sausage to it, and heat simmer until sausage is heated through. Serve with toothpicks.
Our second recipe comes from Deb Clem, a Regional Manager in Kansas City. Deb is mom to Rosie (11) and absolutely loves BBQ. Deb likes her meats rubbed, then slow cooked and topped with a tomato-based sauce. She has kept her BBQ sauce a secret… until now.
Deb’s Secret KC BBQ Sauce:
- 2 cups of Ketchup
- 1/3 cup cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 1/4 tablespoons mustard (not powdered)
- Dash of hot sauce
- Tablespoon of a good dry rub
- 1/3 tablespoon of black pepper
Follow the same directions as the recipe above.
Skip the bottled sauces and impress your family and guests with these smokin’ hot recipes. They’re easy to make and will add a scrumptious new flavor to your summer BBQ dishes.
(Interested in checking out Deb’s blog? Visit http://debcb.com/)
It's not always easy to get a good shot. And sometimes we look back and simply say, "Why?"
May 21st, 2012 | 8:10 AM
A few of our good staff members here at Plum District have kindly volunteered to share theirs for your enjoyment — because after all, we’re all family, right?
The photo above comes from Kerri Roggensack, a District Consultant who lives in Lafayette, California. Kerri is mother to three daughters: Clara (6), Sisi (5), and Lenie (3). In this photo, Clara (wearing the orange dress) is held by Kerri’s husband, Claus, on Halloween.
I’m curious about the person in the middle… a classic costume, I must say!
Next, we have a shot from Kate Goepferd, a Plum District Site Manager. Kate’s comment on this one? “A little bit country, a little bit embarrassed.”
The following comes from Deb Clem-Buckert, a Regional Manager in Kansas City, who’s mother to Rosie (11). This photo was taken circa 1976, and Deb (bottom right, in red) says it was one of the more awkward family moments she can remember. Let’s just say that an unpleasant smell overcame the room right before the shot.
Last but certainly not least, we have a photo from Suzanne Allen-Weise, a District Consultant from West Chester, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is mom to five delightful children (between ages 8 and 14) who were, more or less, willing to grant her her birthday wish last year for one more Santa photo. Clearly, they were thrilled. How does Suzanne feel about this picture? It’s exactly what she expected, and she thinks it’s perfect.
You can’t always get everyone to cooperate when the time comes for a family photo. The “perfect” shot is rare. Really, though, some of the best photos have each family member doing his or her own thing. At the end of the day, when hold the photo, at least you can smile about the fact that you brought the crew together and made some memories.
If you have an awkward family photo you’d like to share – and are willing to have it posted to our blog – please leave a comment and we’ll contact you! The more, the merrier. We love family photos.
There are plenty of jeans out there that are comfortable AND stylish. One Plum District Consultant shares her favorites.
May 15th, 2012 | 12:08 AM
Gigi is a District Consultant in San Francisco, California. She has a 4-year old son (Liam), a 1-year old daughter (Amelie), and a 12-year old Pug (Penelope).
Motherhood isn’t always stylish, and it certainly isn’t glamorous. But if you’re like most females on the planet, you know that finding a pair of jeans is critical, and is often a humbling battle with the victor being anyone but you (at least that’s my experience). Whether you’re short, tall, curvy, or straight, getting a fantastic pair of jeans is almost as good, if not better, than – well, you fill in the blank…
Being a mom and being a jean-wearing mom can be a bit tricky. Tina Fey and our friends at SNL gave us countless laughs (and a complex!) with their timeless spoof on the Mom Jean:
My favorite jeans come from a variety of brands. My criteria – aside from wanting to look fantastic – is comfort, since I’m herding kiddos and managing a household. I have no time for binding, pinching, and certainly no time for sucking it in. Believe it or not, and all laughing aside, we can be moms – in jeans – and look fabulous, glamorous… and, yes, even rockin’…
Old Navy makes fantastic and affordable jeans that not only flaunt your figure but also help keep the budget-conscience mom in a happy place.
- The Women’s Sweetheart Skinny ($29.50) is my personal fav and is great for those wanting the sassy skinny leg coupled with comfort:
- The Women’s Sweetheart Boot-Cut ($29.50) is terrific for casual days, and rest assured – no style is left behind:
A good trouser is unbeatable. The best pair I’ve found is by Level 99. They have a classic tailored cut and quality, and they look terrific dressed up with heels and a jacket, or can be dressed down for a more casual look.
- The Jerry Sailor Trouser ($55) is my favorite (accessorized with buttons at the hip – love!):
- Level 99′s Storm Wide Leg ($106) is runner up.
I was also recently introduced to the Miraclebody denim line, from the makers of the celebrated Miraclesuit swimwear. The Katie Signature Tacked is excellent, comfortable, and, I have to admit, they make my body (and booty) look pretty phenom.
Grab your girlfriends and take a well-deserved night off or grab a glass of vino and join Plum District for a fun hour-long MOM Twitter party.
May 8th, 2012 | 9:43 PM
For those of you who may not know, Thursday, May 10th is National Mom’s Nite Out. This is not a Hallmark-created event, but rather one that began five years ago after a simple tweet from Maria Baily – host of Mom Talk Radio – who said, “Mother’s Day is a lot of work for me. Anyone want to join me for a National Mom’s Nite Out?” The response was immediate and tremendous, and now, thousands of media groups, companies, malls, mommy bloggers, and social networks have come together to create events, discounts, and more, in effort to give moms a well-deserved night off.
What’s the difference between National Mom’s Nite Out and Mother’s Day, you ask? Well, on Mother’s Day, between the cooking and dinner planning and the visits to mothers-in-law and grandmothers, not that much relaxation happens! National Mom’s Nite Out, however, is meant to be a task-free evening.
So this Thursday, look out for local events and discounts from great brands, who are all looking to reach those of you who know you deserve an actual break. Grab your girlfriends and go have some fun.
For more information on National Mom’s Nite Out – and to view a list of local and online events, mom discounts, and giveaways – visit www.momsniteout.com.
Can’t get out of the house for a nite out? How about a Twitter party with @plumdistrict?! Join us from 5:30-6:30pm PT for an hour of all girl fun and prizes hosted by Plum District moms. Be sure to RSVP to be eligible for prizes! (Follow #MomMonth to join the party)
Signs that it's happening and how to approach it
April 27th, 2012 | 12:13 PM
Bullying is a widespread problem that affects millions of people everyday – online and in person. It happens among children as young as 4 years old, through young adults (at which age, this behavior often results in legal consequences). As a mom, it’s highly important that you are informed about this common and harmful behavior, and know how to combat or prevent the bullying of your child, or interfere if you suspect your own child is being a bully (which no mom wants to think, but must be prepared to deal with).
First, the basics. What is bullying? According to www.StopBullying.gov, “Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power. The behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.”
Signs that your child may be bullied:
- Becoming withdrawn
- Decline in school performance
- Trouble eating or sleeping
- Few friends or close contacts
- Speaking of another child with fear
- Showing fear when it is time to go to school
- Noticeable decline in how he/she sees him or herself
- Signs of physical altercations, such as bruises, scrapes, and other marks
- Missing or damaged clothing or other personal belongings
How to approach the situation:
- Encourage your child to share his or her thoughts and concerns. Remember that this is your turn to listen. Don’t lecture or interfere with their verbal expression.
- Learn as much about the situation as possible. Ask your child how and when the bullying occurs and who is involved. Talk to other adults and children who may have witnessed bullying incidents.
- Teach your child how to respond to bullying. Encourage your child to maintain composure when approached by a bully — not to cry or fight back. Suggest that he or she say “I want you to stop this now,” and then walk away, and go to a teacher or school official for help, if necessary. Tell your child it might be best to stick with a group of friends in the places and during the times when the bullying tends to happen.
- Contact school officials and follow up. Talk to your child’s teachers and school principals to inform them about the situation, gain more information, and determine the next step. Keep in contact with them, especially if the bullying is persistent.
- Boost your child’s self-esteem. Remind your child that you love them the way they are and that the bullying is not acceptable and will be ended. Praise your child for being brave enough to talk about the situation, remind them that it is not their fault, and tell them that you will come up with a solution together. Help your child get involved with activities that raise self-esteem, such as sports, music, and art. Arrange fun get-togethers, outings, and other activities that help to develop your child’s social skills and social network.
Now, here are some signs that your child may be a bully:
- Views violence positively as a solution to most problems
- Shows little sympathy to those who are being bullied, or are having problems
- The need to dominate others and control situations
- Shows aggression toward adults and other children
How to approach the situation:
- Make sure your child understands that bullying will not be tolerated anywhere. Tell them about the consequences of bullying.
- Teach your child about diversity, and about treating others with respect and kindness. Let your child know that it is wrong to ridicule differences (whether it’s appearance, race, religion, special needs, socio-economic status, etc.), and that there are consequences for being disrespectful. Consider signing them up for an activity or club where they can interact with a diverse group of people and form new friendships.
- Encourage good behavior. Praise them with they handle situations in positive ways. Positive reinforcement can be more effective than negative discipline.
- Set a good example. As you know, it’s best to lead by example, so think carefully about how you resolve conflicts and problems. Your child will most likely follow your lead.
An all natural recipe for achieving that hip Earth-loving t-shirt
April 17th, 2012 | 1:26 PM
In honor of Earth Day (April 22nd), here’s an easy, step-by-step “how-to” on tie-dyeing – the natural way. Your kids will love this activity, especially when they see how kitchen ingredients can be used to make fun and cool-looking t-shirt designs.
Now, there are articles out there that recommend using blueberry juice concentrate or beet juice as natural dyes; however, these juices are not strong enough to leave clear patterns and vivid color (and don’t waste your time trying – I’ve already attempted with these two!). Turmeric – that oh-so-tasty spice – is the tried and true ingredient.
For a bright and cheerful yellow tie-dyed shirt (perfect for spring!), you will need the following:
To prepare your shirt for dyeing:
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 6 cups of water
- 4 tablespoons of turmeric
- 6 cups of water
- 1 white t-shirt
- 8-10 rubber bands (I used hair bands, which worked just fine)
1) Lay the t-shirt on a flat surface and roll it up
2) Place rubber bands along the rolled-up shirt
3) In a medium-sized stock pot, bring the water and vinegar to a simmer
4) Add the shirt and simmer for 30 minutes.
5) Pour out water and vinegar; remove shirt and place in a bowl of cold water
6) In the medium-sized stock pot, bring water and turmeric to a simmer
7) Squeeze the water out of the shirt and add the shirt to the simmering water and turmeric
8) Simmer the shirt for 1 hour and then turn off the heat and let the liquid come to room temperature
9) Remove the shirt and rinse it under cold water until the water runs clear
10) Let the shirt hang dry
And that’s it! Let your kids enjoy their homemade, tie-dyed shirts and feel good knowing that they’re synthetic-free and eco-friendly.