In The District:

How Does Your Garden Grow? Composting Can Be Fun!

Blogger OC Garden Jen shares her secret on getting rid of pesky weeds for good!

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“Judge every day not by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you sow.”

As a busy, working mother of two girls, I am constantly challenged with ways to sow the seeds of a healthy lifestyle and for our family that means growing our own food whenever possible.  While I enjoy it, my daughter’s still regard gardening as somewhat of a chore. They certainly enjoy cutting flowers and arranging them for the house, picking vegetables, and playing with our flock of chickens — they don’t, however, seem to enjoy weeding.  (I know, I know, my kids are the ONLY kids that don’t enjoy weeding, right?!)

So that’s why when I discovered the Lasagna Gardening Technique, also known as, Sheet Composting I was in LOVE!  Lasagna Gardening doesn’t grow lasagna’s or even the ingredients for making lasagna (unless you want it to), rather, Lasagna Gardening is a technique of layering easily sourced organic materials, such as grass clippings, manure, and more until you have created a new no-dig planting bed!  No digging, no weeding, seriously!  It’s a very fun family activity and a great science lesson as well.

To begin, lay down a layer of cardboard or newspaper wherever you want your new planting bed to be.  Let your kids help you ‘litter.’ I promise they’ll be interested for at least five minutes.  Then, give them the hose and let them wet down the cardboard/newspaper layer.  This important first step smothers the grass and weeds below and then breaks down after a year or so.

Next, start layering your ingredients (click here for a list of commonly available ingredients) and the kids can help with this as well.  Let them help you find the ingredients around town, too! This is a great opportunity to explain how composting materials turns them into soil known in the garden world as ‘Black Gold’ and keeps them out of our landfills.

Once you have finished your Lasagna Garden, cover it with black plastic and let it bake in the sun for a few weeks or months, dependent upon your patience.  Or just top off yours with a few inches of good quality soil and plant your new bed.

Purchase today’s deal from Armstrong Garden Centers and head on out to find a great selection of fruit trees, vegetables and flowers for your new bed all at a huge savings.  Armstrong Garden Centers offers a great selection and their website is chock full of inspiration and information.  Let your kids do this research if they’re old enough —  it’s internet time for them and a secret learning session for you! Tell them it’s like playing  a real life Farmville game!

OC Garden Jen started her blog as an online garden diary. She loves to talk all thinks flora and fauna on her blog www.ocgardenjen.com or you can follower her on Twitter, Pinterest, Innstagram and Facebook @OCGardenJen.

Dad’s Perfect Father’s Day Meal

The Day of Dad is this Sunday (June 17) and the Plum District team can't wait to celebrate this special moment with their own families.

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This Sunday it’s all about showing the dad(s) in your life how much you appreciate them! And nothing shows how much you care quite like whipping up his favorite meal and spending some quality family time together. Have the kids help you prepare a special meal that he won’t soon forget and enjoy!

Here’s what some of the Plum District team members are prepping for their own pops.

Regional site manager Brenna’s dad is all about Italian. “I’m doing the works: lasagna, garlic bread, and rounding it out with a beet and goat cheese salad,” she says. Bon appetit indeed!

Check out a super tasty lasagna menu to try with your family here.

When she’s not closing awesome deals in Orange County, sales extrodinaire and mom Stephanie Graney is making a delicious feast for her family. “I’m making baby back ribs, French potato salad and grilled artichokes. Yum!”

We’re in love with this take on baby back ribs from steamykitchen.com.

“My dad’s absolute favorite is leg of lamb with mint jelly,” says site manager Maggie. “It’s a family tradition. Top it off with a chocolate sundae and you have a perfect meal!”

Feeling ambitious? Make mint jelly from scratch with this recipe from food.com!

Stacy at the home office is all about grilling it up. “You can’t go wrong with anything from the grill, corn on the cob, and homemade potato salad,” she explains.

Need some tips before you fire up the grill? Grilling.com can help you make a mouthwatering meal.

Desiree in Seattle has her Father’s Day meal down to a science. “I’m making meatloaf!” she explains. “I am not a fan so I never make it, but this is always his request for holidays.  Well, meatloaf or corned beef!”

We are totally in love with this idea: meatloaf cupcakes from firstlookthencook.com. Have the kiddos help you prepare this tasty meal!

Our Bay Area rep Lisa not only whips up her hubby’s favorite dish once a year, but also his favorite dessert. “I’m making Chicken Paprikash and black bottom banana cream pie  — that’s his once-a-year request!” she smiles.

For those moms looking to spice things up in the kitchen. Simplyrecipes.com has a delicious (and easy) Chicken Paprikash recipe for you.

 

Plum’s Family Summer Reading List

Cuddle up with your kids and share in the magic of a good book this summer!

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FAMILY FAVES — Here’s our list of some tried-and-true classics and a few new books that will delight your kids all summer long. 

Matilda, by Ronald Dahl

This classic children’s book about a little bookworm who overcomes bullies (including her own parents!) will not only have the entire family in stitches, but teaches children about perseverance and overcoming obstacles.

 

Junie B. Jones series, by Barbara Park

Your kids will fall in love with precocious first grader Junie B. Jones after reading the first page. Good thing there are dozens of other books in this beloved series to keep everyone entertained until school starts up again!

The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum

Sure, we’re all familiar (and love) the 1939 film version starring Judy Garland, but the Hollywood flick just touches on all the magical creatures found in the land of Oz. See your child’s imagination soar as they are first introduced to Dorothy, Toto, and everyone else in this quintessential children’s book.

The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss

This book about loving the planet recently got a big screen overhaul. Share the original story in all its vibrant glory this summer then brainstorm with your children ways you can help protect the environment. It will spark a spirited conversation and teach them the importance of preserving the earth’s resources.

Hattie and the Wild Waves, by Barbara Cooney

Barbara Cooney’s detailed illustrations have enchanted generations of boys and girls in more than 200 picture books. In this book, young Hattie dreams of being a painter, but has to overcome people’s disapproval to achieve her passion. This book inspires you to follow your dreams no matter what life presents you.

Little House on the Prairie series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Introduce your family to life on the prairie with Laura, Mary, and their family. Learn about life on the range in the not-so-distant past as they face harsh winters, wild animals, and family tragedies. Rich in history, you will devour the entire series.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, by Jeff Kinney

Modeled after a kid’s diary, this popular book series follows Greg Heffley as he deals with that confusing time in adolescence known as middle school. You and your kids will relate to his adventures, struggles, and triumphs.

Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson

Harold lets his imagination run wild when he finds a purple crayon one day in this 1955 classic.

Monsters Eat Whiny Children, by Bruce Eric Kaplan

Show your kids what happens to kids who whine too much in this cautionary tale. Will the monsters get them before they can escape? Important life lessons can be found in this page-turner.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems

Everyone will be laughing over the adventures of an unlikely, winged bus driver! It also teaches your kiddos the importance of following directions and not to give in to peer pressure.

Happy reading!

 

 

 

 

Creative Beach Cover-Ups

Easy ways to look chic while you're covered up poolside this summer!

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Summer is upon us and that means there are all sorts of fun in the sun activities on the horizon that require a bathing suit. That’s why I’m always in search of the perfect beach cover-up to complete my summer wardrobe.  What most people don’t realize is that cover-ups don’t have to cost much – if anything – and many can be altered from items already in your closet!  Below are a few of my favorite creative and chic ways to cover all of your assets while lounging  poolside this season.

Source: Zappos

  • The Boyfriend Shirt:  I use my hubby’s retired work shirts and they are perfect for an effortless and stylish look at the pool! Take an oversized, cotton flannel, button it halfway. roll up the sleeves three-quarters and voila!  This is a fantastic way to look relaxed – covered – and most of us have a few of these lying around the house.
Source: Victoria's Secret
Source: Victoria’s Secret
  • Oversized Tee: An off-the-shoulder T-shirt, especially with a vintage feel, is a perfect cover for the mom who likes a little edge. Note: For people needing more bottom coverage, be sure to start with a T-shirt that is long enough to cover target areas.
Source: Venus
  • Cute Skirts: A  skirt is a perfect cover-up for the hips, thighs, and butt. It looks especially great with a super-cute bikini top! Find one in a bright color that matches your suit or throw on a denim one. Jeans make everything look chic!
Source: Blues and Shoes
  • Scarf Vest: The scarf vest is a fun way to incorporate your favorite scarf into your summer wardrobe.  And, as an added bonus, the scarf vest can be used all year – synch it at the waist with a belt over a knit top with jeans for a great fall look! For step-by-step instructions on how to make your scarf vest coverup check out this link.
Source: J.Crew
  • Summer Dress: Your favorite sundress can also be your favorite cover-up! There are styles to fit all body types and tastes and it is perfect when you need to make a quick conversion if you have plans for dinner or something more formal post-beach.

Gigi G. is a district consultant in the San Francisco Bay area. When she’s not sourcing great deals, you’ll find her in a stylish cover-up enjoying the California sun. 

Tales from the Teenage Trenches

You think the terrible twos are nerve-wracking? Just wait until your kid hits their teens. Lisa B. shares her story with fellow Plum moms.

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My 14 year-old daughter is a hoarder.  I am not sure where it came from because I am the complete OCD opposite, but when the mouse who had been surviving on four years worth of Halloween candy made a home in her UGGs, I decided it was time to go in and take control of the situation.  Armed with black trash bags and Lysol, I went in.

I methodically made my way through her room.  After filling four trash bags full of clothing, trash, and food that was beyond recognizable, I started toward her dresser drawers.  She started going completely crazy, standing in front of them and forbidding me to look inside.  As a mother, your first instinct is fear.  Fear that your teenager has drugs, or other substances in her possession.  I move her aside and force my way into her drawer.

What do I find?  Drugs? Condoms? Inappropriate magazines?  No. I find MY bras — four of them!  Since I have lost track of most of my life since becoming a mother, I chalked four missing bras to just that – I had no idea she would have them.  I look at her with a confused expression and she just shrugs her shoulders and responds: “They don’t fit me anyway.”

I am overwhelmed with more emotions than I have wits to sort out.  I am angry, relieved, and so very humiliated. At 14, my daughter is more buxom than I was or ever will be without silicone.  This is a parenting situation no book can ever prepare you for!

I stand up and try to appear taller than her, grab my bras, and say, “Nothing about this is okay.  We do not share underwear.  We will go shopping and buy you bras that fit.”

I then retreat out of her room and think to myself, “Thank goodness it was just bras. I wonder how much a boob job costs?”

Lisa B. is a district consultant in Marin, San Francisco, who has been working for Plum District for almost two years.  She is mother to Mia (14), Kyra (11), and Wyatt (8), and has been married to her husband Kent for 16 years.

 

Plum District’s Make Dad’s Day Sweepstakes is Here!

Celebrate Dad this summer with a cool $1,000 to use at Best Buy or Restaurant.com and StubHub.com!

Take dad to dinner and a ballgame, or help him score a brand new TV and other electronic toys at Best Buy with Plum District’s Make Dad’s Day Sweepstakes! Enter to win $1,000 in Best Buy e-gift cards or a $250 Restaurant.com eGift card AND $750 in StubHub.com gift certificates.

 

Here’s how to enter:

  • If you’re already a member:

Simply purchase one of our daily Plum Deals! We’re recording every single purchase made between June 4th and June 8th and automatically entering those purchasers into the sweepstakes.

  • If you’re not yet a member:

It’s easy, all you have to do is join Plum District! The e-mail address you sign up with will automatically be entered into the sweepstakes as your chance to win. After that, get excited for our daily offers to hit your inbox – they’ll make your day, Mom, we’re sure of it.

It doesn’t make a difference which option you go through to enter – five winners will be randomly selected after the sweepstakes period. Good Luck!

 

*Note: No purchase necessary to enter or win. A purchase of any kind will not increase your chances of winning. Void where prohibited. For full contest rules and terms visit our Terms page:  http://www.plumdistrict.com/p/terms

Plum District’s Go-To Mommy Blogs

According to a new infographic, there are more than 3,900,000 mommy blogs in North America alone. Here are some of Plum District staffers favorites.

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As a mom, every day offers up a new experience or a funny story that you can’t wait to tell your friends. You’re not alone. Now, more than ever, tech-savvy moms are sharing their stories and finding their voice by starting their own mom blogs online. H&R Block recently released an interesting infographic about the “Mommy Blog” phenomenon, revealing that 14% off ALL American moms are bloggers.

Click to view full size infographic -

Here’s our list of some go-to mom-centic sites that our army of mamas can’t stop reading.

1. Cool Mom Picks

At Plum District we totally understand the power of a strong mom network — so does the team at Cool Mom Picks. This website was created by moms who wanted a place online where other moms can find fun, unique items from mom and women-run companies. From travel tips to finding the best strollers, these moms have your back with informative blogs, links to great deals, and more.

2. For Crying Out Loud

Lynette Corolla (wife of Adam) and best-selling author, Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, host this weekly parenting podcast that is raw, honest, and fun. The hour-long show has special guests from the parenting and celeb world, and no topic is too taboo for these mamas! You’ll love their honesty and heart.

3. My Third True Love

Ali is a mom blogger who loves getting crafty. Her addictive blog gives you step-by-step instructions on how to turn everyday mundane objects into functional pieces for your home, thrift store tips, and stories about her adorable kiddos. Need inspiration for tackling a room in your house? Ali’s blog is sure to inspire.

4. DesignHER Momma

Emily is a mom of four who isn’t afraid to give it to you straight. The corporate interior designer’s honest blog will have you laughing out loud and nodding your head in agreement.

5. Sunshine and Sippy Cups

Moms are constantly on the go, go, GO and we can all appreciate any advice or tips that will make our hectic lives a little less – well – hectic. Meagan is a mom blogger on a mission: to provide “smart solutions for busy moms” one blog at a time. She’s busy scouring the web looking for the best deals, products, and services, and sharing them with you.

6. Babble

Babble launched in 2006 and it quickly became the go-to online community for new parents. Babble’s mission is to tell the truth about parenting — the good, the bad, and the poopy — daily. The site has advice  columns, baby products, how-to guides, parenting tips, and so much more.

7. MotherLovely

Mother Lovely is a lifestyle blog for women that you’ll want to visit again and again. It highlights articles about everything from motherhood to relationships, health, style — you name it, they’ll talk about it! With beautiful visuals and inspiring messages, MotherLovely is a wonderful, women-centric blog.

8. http://debcb.com/

Deb is not only a talented writer (she worked for nine years at the Kansas City Star), but also one of our hand-working regional managers. When she’s not sourcing great mom deals for Plum, she offers insight on the complex world of motherhood and reentering the workforce on her own terms.

9. Mama Rants

Motherhood aint’ always a walk in the park and a lot of it is learning as you go. Mama Rants is written by a 20-something-year old blogger who writes to “help stay sane.” Reading her blog is like chatting with an old friend and you’ll totally relate to her trials and tribulations.

What’s your favorite mom blog? We’d love to hear what it is. Feel free to share in the comment box.

Capturing Memories – Photo Tips and Tricks

Follow these simple tips to get quality photos every time you click!

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School is coming to an end, the weather is getting warmer, and there are tons of photo opportunities coming your way! Today Plum District is teaming up with Kodak to offer you some amazing deals on cameras and photo products that are perfect for capturing all of life’s precious moments – from family vacations to everyday smiles.

Here are our top three tips for getting the best shot EVERY time:

1. Art in Motion

You love capturing your budding sports star in action, but they are so fast on the field your shots often appear blurry and out of focus. Parents.com recommends you follow the movement with your camera before you push, ‘click’ or focus on the destination before your little one gets there before you start snapping away. You’d hate to miss your baseball fanatic dive into home because you were too busy trying to figure your camera out!

 

2. Find Your Light

You can have everyone in the cutest poses on the planet, but if your lighting is bad, your photos will probably come out bad, too. The solution? If you set out to snap shots, pay attention to what time of day it is. According to Parents.com, the best times for light are before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. because the sun is low in the sky. Also, make sure to set your camera to ‘fill’ or ‘force flash’ mode to soften features, fill in shadows, and more. To avoid red eyes in photos, make sure your red eye setting is on.

3. Big Smiles = Great Photos

You think your children are pretty dang cute 24/7, but nothing melts your heart faster then seeing them with huge grins from ear-r-to-ear. However, sometimes getting the whole crew to smile pretty can be — well – an epic challenge. To avoid awkward faces, Parents.com advises you use words other than the classic go-to ‘cheese’ because it naturally makes people’s face contort into goofy expressions. Aim for ‘M’ words instead, which help the face relax and make a more natural expression.

Happy snapping!

Be sure to check out these amazing offers from Kodak before they’re gone:

The KODAK EASYSHARE Camera makes capturing memories a breeze. With its 16 megapixels, 5X optical zoom, and Kodak’s Smart Capture Technology you’ll be shooting top notch pictures with ease. And sharing them is even more of a breeze. Just press the camera’s KODAK Share Button and tag your pictures and videos to multiple destinations to be shared all at once!

Worried about dropping your camera on your next family adventure? A KODAK PLAYFULL Waterproof Video Camera is ready whenever you need it. It can get wet or take a tumble and still come back for more (how perfect is that!). You can shoot hours worth of quality videos, and sharing them is even more of a breeze. Just press the camera’s KODAK Share Button and tag your videos to multiple destinations to be shared all at once!

Show off your handiwork with an easy-to-use KODAK EASYSHARE D825 Digital Frame (8-inch LCD screen). Insert your memory device with your digital pictures and easily save and store up to 4,000 your pictures in the frame’s internal memory. Photos will automatically be resized to look beautiful within the frame, and you can even personalize it by simply putting a traditional frame over the digital frame’s panel to match your home décor.

 

WANT TO WIN ALL 3 OF THESE FABULOUS KODAK PRODUCTS? Enter Here!