Sometimes you need to buy yourself a little time and keep the kids occupied - we love this idea
April 25th, 2012 | 12:27 AM
Heather lives in Fishers, Indiana and is a busy mom to four kids ages eight down to 18 months. She’s an avid USC Trojans fan, loves teaching cardio kickboxing at her local gym, and relishes time with her family! Now let’s get crafting!
If you’re like us, you’ve been counting down the days until this year’s summer vacation. The only thing we’re not excited about is the heavy packing – especially for activities the kids can do while you’re sitting on a long airplane ride, waiting for the best restaurant in town, or even winding down at the hotel. Luckily Heather, one of our Plum District mommas has some great crafts on the go! Check out this one.
Ink Dot Pictures
Supplies Needed: Stamp Pad, Pencils with erasers, White paper
(I keep my supplies in a zipped pencil pouch to keep everything contained. Also, I usually carry a clipboard in my “go bag” to provide a workspace when we’re out and about)
- Draw a light outline for your picture in pencil. Have fun with this – it can be shapes, letters, or even an abstract drawing!
- Press the pencil eraser into the stamp pad, and then stamp the ink dot on your picture. Continue doing this – following the outline you drew – until the outline is covered!
- I color code my pencils, and have a purple pencil to use in the purple ink, a pink pencil to use in the pink ink, and a blue pencil to use in the blue ink. This helps minimize the colors getting mixed together!
My Kindergarden daughter, Sadie, is six years old and loves this activity – it’s a great way for her to practice patterns and get creative with her outline sketch.
Storage doesn't have to be boring or costly - here are some great ways to hide the toys in style
April 24th, 2012 | 11:15 AM
Marlynn Jayme Schotland lives in Portland, Oregon and is the mother of two adorable kids ages 5 and 7. She’s slightly obsessive about making home organization pretty and functional, and she’s sharing her tried and true tips with you!
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by all of the Legos, dolls, and stickers that seem to take over your house once you have kids? You don’t need to sacrifice style – or empty your wallet — to tame the clutter that comes with having kids. Here are some simple storage ideas to help busy moms turn any room full of kids’ stuff into fabulous, functional space.
Tame Toy Sprawl
- Buy furniture that doubles as storage: ottomans and benches with hidden storage for easy stashing of clutter can be a frazzled mom’s best friend when last minute company comes over (a bright idea: Brighten White Storage Bench, $399, Crate & Barrel)
- Organize open bookshelves with bins. Label the bins so kids can help you clean up easily and quickly. (Check out: IKEA Expedit shelves $89 and IKEA Branäs baskets $12.99)
- Save money by purchasing furniture that will grow with the kids. This locker storage unit is stylish for ages newborn through college and it’s classic look never goes out of style. You can hide massive amounts of toys, games, and books, and your elementary-school aged kids can use it as a homework station. (Cute cabinet option IKEA PS cabinet, $99)
Keep Craft Supplies Organized
- Wash out peanut butter jars, jelly jars, or even yogurt containers. Group together those little items that have a habit of being sprinkled throughout your house: stickers, jewelry beads, googly eyes, stamps.
- Round and square glass candle holders from the dollar store can store odds and ends.
- Store pencils, pens, and crayons in easy-to-grab-on-the-go little buckets. (photo)
Don’t Just Stuff Your Stuffed Animals
- Big wicker baskets serve as easy, beautiful (and inexpensive) resting places for beloved stuffed animals.
- Use canvas bins to keep Pooh Bear, Dora, and Sponge Bob safe and sound and out of your way while adding a hint of class to any room. (Look up: Elephant Canvas Bin, $31.99, Container Store)
Style Your Storage
Dress up storage bins and baskets with fun labels that match the décor in your kids’ rooms. It’s easy to make your own. Just download free printables, like the ones on the jars above, or check out Martha Stewart Clip Art and Templates.
Even Mom can appreciate a great shoppertunity!
April 20th, 2012 | 10:22 AM
With Mother’s Day less than a month away, we want to give shoppers some creative and shoppertunistc ideas for gifts for Mom. We will also be doing a giveaway a day starting today through April 30th. For details of how to win be sure to follow our Facebook page. Continuing through May we have an amazing month of offers lined up for Mom. Yep – that’s right, a whole month!
Looking to get ahead of the game on your Mother’s Day shopping? Check out these great offers!
Some of our moms' favorite picks for Mother's Day
April 19th, 2012 | 12:01 AM
Mother’s Day is quickly approaching and we thought inquiring gift-buyers might want to know what Mom really wants for Mother’s Day. Plum District polled our District Consultants to find out what they were hoping to unwrap on May 13th and created our Ultimate Gift Guide. Purchasers beware – mom has great taste!
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.
Easy and delicious for the whole family
April 13th, 2012 | 12:18 AM
Here’s a GREAT Mom dish brought to you by Las Vegas District Consultant, Maria Oakes! It’s quick, easy, tasty and healthy – all things we moms look for in every meal we make!
Pick any Taverna, Cafe, or restaurant anywhere in all of Greece and you will find a “Horiatiki” salad on every menu. The Greek-style salad is a staple in Maria’s home. It can be served as a side dish when you’re missing that healthy extra- oomph or even as a meal in itself! Prep time is just about 5 minutes….literally as long as takes to cut the vegetables and drizzle the Olive Oil.
- Tomatoes (as close to home grown as you can, is the best)
- English Cucumbers preferably (but other Cucumbers work just as well)
- Red Onions give the most flavor (but white or even green are great in a pinch too)
- Green peppers (or get crazy and throw in yellow, orange or red too)
- Kalamata olives (or whatever olive you might fancy)
- Feta Cheese – the favorite is FRENCH Feta (shhh, don’t tell the family)- mainly because it’s creamier and doesn’t have the bite that some of the others have!
- Freshly baked bread- French Loaf, Baguette or Italian Round all work great!
- Simply chop your veggies up to bite size pieces
- Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil (yes, always Extra Virgin – you can find some that are very tasty AND inexpensive)
- Season with salt, pepper and Oregano to taste
Reduce, reuse, recycle your way to greener living
April 12th, 2012 | 12:01 AM
I don’t just tell my kids to “reduce, reuse and recycle,” I get them involved so they understand how to do it. Reducing the amount of trash that we all create, reusing items as much as possible, and filling the recycling bins with anything and everything recyclable are important steps to living greener. There are many ways for your family to help protect the environment from unnecessary waste — here are three easy tips that have been successful for us.
Carrying a lunchbox is a great way for kids to reduce and reuse.
I cringe when I think of all the brown paper lunch bags that I threw away from elementary through high school. Not only do my kids take lunchboxes each day, their sandwiches, fruit, crunchies and drinks are packaged in reusable containers. The goal is to create as little garbage as possible. Much of the time they have no trash after lunch — with the exception of their napkins (if they even use them).
Keeping reusable grocery bags in your car will force you to remember them.
At this point we own about 20. Whenever I go on a big grocery trip, I unpack everything and put them right back in my car. Most of them are in my car and a few are in my husband’s. This way we have them available whenever we run into the market. It’s become so normal for us that my kids will remind me if we start to walk into the store without them.
Recycling is one of the most important green living lessons to teach your kids.
We are fortunate to have recycling picked up from our neighborhood every other week. My kids know what goes in the recycling bins (we have three) and what goes in the trash. They will even correct me if they see something in the garbage that doesn’t belong there. One of my son’s responsibilities, at age 5, is to transfer the kitchen recycling out to the big bins in the garage. When we are out and have to drink from disposable bottles or cans, we will take them home if can’t find a place to recycle them in public.
Shannon Vetter is a mother from Frederick, Maryland. She has two daughters ages 10 and 7, and one 5-year-old son.
A few helpful tips on raising earth conscious kids
April 10th, 2012 | 9:42 AM
Spring is here! It’s time to kick the kids off the couch and commune with nature! Teaching your children about the environment doesn’t have to feel like a lecture series. Make learning about our big, beautiful planet fun and exciting with these easy and cost-effective outdoor activities.
Get a Green Thumb: Planting flowers and trees allows children to beautify their yard with splashes of vibrant color. Picking out seeds is half the fun and kids will love getting to help decide what to plant. After sowing the seeds, kids will see that with a little water and patience they can sprout a beautiful bouquet of blooms and food. Planting herbs and vegetables shows children how to contribute to the dinner table and save some greenbacks!
Take a Walk: Get exercise while simultaneously discovering the many wonders of the natural world with your family. Whether it’s a state park trail, a beach, or even your subdivision, pick a serene setting where you can stroll and discuss a variety of environmental topics. Explain how to recycling, why we don’t litter, or something as awesome as how bees help flowers multiply. Having a beautiful backdrop for these conversations illustrates why making smart, “green” choices is so important.
Read a Book: The library is a great resource that many of us forget to tap into. At your local branch, you’ll find a multitude of books (and even some e-books for on-the-go reading) to help illustrate eco-friendly ideas. Check out your books or read them aloud with your kiddo. The best part? The card is free, the books are free (if you get them back in time!), and you’re reducing your footprint by sharing books instead of buying your own!
Regardless of your teaching methods, these experiences will give your children a greater appreciation for their environment and their eco-friendly mama!
Leneille Brathwaite lives in Atlanta and is a mother of one adorable 1-year-old. She’s a mom on a mission to stay on budget but still have fun.
Don’t let Easter brunch take a bite out of your budget
April 5th, 2012 | 12:12 AM
There are endless wallet-friendly recipes you could make for Easter brunch, and the most befitting ingredient is obviously eggs. You need a solid meal between tearing through the Easter egg baskets and waiting for the Easter egg hunt to begin. Have some fun by making dishes that the kids can pitch in with, but keep the cleanup minimal by going for a “one pot” approach. Forget made-to-order eggs, here is an easy family-style brunch for under $30.
The Main Dish: Egg & Chorizo (or Soyrizo) Casserole
Cost of ingredients: $12
- 1 dozen eggs
- 12 oz chorizo or Soyrizo, crumbled
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
- 3 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 12 oz pre-shredded hash browns
- 1 small container of sour cream
- Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat eggs in large bowl and combine with bell pepper (or any vegetable you like), milk, pepper jack cheese and Soyrizo or chorizo. (Soyrizo is a delicious vegetarian alternative to chorizo available at all Trader Joe’s for about $4.) Evenly scatter hash browns in bottom of greased 9×13-inch rectangular casserole dish and pour egg mixture over them. Bake for 45 minutes until eggs are set and sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese on top. Bake for additional 15 minutes or until cheese has melted. Great garnished with a dollop of sour cream or your favorite hot sauce. You’ll love the crispy potato crust on the bottom.
Something Sweet: Ooey Gooey Monkey … err … Bunny Bread
Cost of ingredients: $10
- 2 cans of pre-made buttermilk biscuits
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour the granulated sugar and cinnamon into a large bowl and remove the biscuit dough from the cans. Separate each biscuit into four pieces and roll into balls (this is a great job for the kids). Place all of the dough balls in the bowl and use your hands to coat them in sugar. Add more granulated sugar if necessary. Arrange the dough balls and pecans in a greased Bundt pan, making sure nuts are evenly distributed. Combine melted butter and brown sugar in a bowl and pour mixture over the dough. Bake for 30 minutes and let cool. Remove from pan and place in center of table. Kids have so much fun pulling apart the sticky sweet monkey bread.
*This meal is about 8 adult servings.
TIp: Use your remaining budget to buy some fresh fruit to slice up, or sneak a bottle of champagne for the grownups!
Avoid extra hyper kiddos and sugar surges with these tips for a sweet tooth free good time!
April 4th, 2012 | 7:05 AM
Sometimes it feels like the holidays have become synonymous with candy. Every month there’s a new celebration that leaves your overflowing pantry with chocolates, lollipops, and other irresistible treats. With Easter Sunday comes jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, and Cadbury eggs (not to mention Grandma’s famous sugar cookies)!
Our Indiana-based District Consultant Heather has some great ideas on keeping the cavities at bay, but still keeping the festivities fun during your family’s annual Easter egg hunt.
“I color-code some of the eggs so each child gets their designated surprises,” she explains. “ For example, my daughter Kaitlyn gets to find all of the purple eggs this year!”
This tactic helps keep things fair on the playing field and lets you plan out appropriate surprises for each age group.
Trying to cut out some of the sugar-crashes and chocolate smudges this year? Well just say “no” to the traditional Bunny delivery, and say “hello” to candy-free Easter egg hunt. Here are some fun, non-candy items to hide inside plastic Easter eggs for all ages. Bonus tip: Have your kids help decorate the plastic eggs with colorful markers or puff paint before you stuff them with goodies.
For Baby Hunters under the age of 3:
- Cheerios/Fruit Loops
- Animal Crackers
- Mini-plush animals
For Little Bunnies ages 3-6:
- Pennies and coins
- Bouncy balls
- Puzzle pieces hidden among a bunch of different eggs
- Character Band-Aids
- Mini bubble bottles
For Big Kids:
- Lego pieces
- Hair accessories
- Dollar bills
- Inflatable beach balls
- Temporary tattoos
- Family coupons which can be redeemed for bigger prizes (like a family night out to the movies, a book, or a Barbie)
- Real eggs – Hard boil and decorate some real eggs the night before and have everyone help paint them. The kids will love finding the eggs they helped decorate.
What non-candy items do you plan on including in your Easter egg hunt this year? Let us know.