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!
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)
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!
Motherhood comes in all different forms, as one Plum District staffer shares.
May 23rd, 2012 | 10:57 PM
As a new stepmom to a 14-year old girl, Chandler, I approached this new title with serious trepidation. I mean, I never thought I would even have children. But immediately after getting engaged last year, I felt the weight and responsibility of this new title and took action. I was determined that EVERY time Chandler came to visit would be a great one! My San Francisco apartment was suddenly full of snacks, magazines, and beauty products fit for teen consumption. She happened to mention in passing her penchant for gummy worms. A five-pound bag awaited her every weekend. A balmy SF October weekend happened to have a “icy tinge” to it in the evening? A shopping excursion for winter clothes was in the works. School shoes have a minor discoloration on the toe? She got two new ones to replace them. My husband would go along with it, (admittedly with a bit of an eye-roll), but he also knew that I was developing my nurturing side and he didn’t want to stifle my determined preparations for every single visit.
One weekend, I KNEW would be a great one — shopping for 8th grade graduation dance dress. I did some reconnaissance missions at about a dozen outlets and shops in the city and had created a list, complete with names, addresses, and phone numbers of all the stylish dress shops within a 20 mile radius. I was ready.
But when the weekend came, I had to meet my own mom and get fitted for my own wedding dress. Not a big problem – my thoroughly vetted list went to my husband, and off I went to prepare for my own nuptials. As I was in the fitting room, I received two texts in rapid succession:
Greg: ”I don’t think this was a good idea.”
Chandler: ”When will you be back?”
Five minutes later, another set:
Greg: “We’re going home. Chandler is being impossible.”
Chandler: ”I just want to go with you.”
I was needed! And badly, from the looks of it. Off I went to pick up Chandler and search for a dress. Only one shop and five dresses later, we found it — an ethereal concoction of blue satin with a delicate tulle overlay. I will always remember the smile she had when she tried on that dress — the bright blue satin matched only by the bright blue of her eyes. And I think my heart was close to bursting when she hugged me and whispered, “I love you. Thank you for caring about me.” I held it together then, but burst into tears when I told my husband about it later as he cradled me in his arms. “Being a parent has great moments, doesn’t it?” he asked.
It sure does. I can’t wait for more.
Chi Le is the Market Research Manager at the Plum District home office. She recently got married and is enjoying every minute with her extended family.
The things we inherit from Mom - besides her mannerisms, her nose, and her favorite phrases.
May 22nd, 2012 | 9:11 PM
As I was frantically trying to decide what to get my mom for Mother’s Day (ended up going with a set of lobster crackers – known to fellow New Englanders as ‘lobstah crackahs.’), I started thinking about the things that she’s given to me.
For my 30th birthday, my mom gave me her red leather jewelry box, embossed with her initials. I have so many memories of scrambling underneath her bed to pull out this box so I could pile on all of the ‘sparklies’ inside of it and parade around the house, feeling like a princess. Now, it sits on top of the vanity table in my bedroom – which was once my grandmother’s! – and is filled with jewelry that I’ve acquired from varying family members over the years.
That box also contains my mother’s pearls, which she gave to me when I got engaged. I wore them on my wedding day, carefully removing them after our photos were taken so there was no chance of the string breaking. I’m clumsy like that.
It goes without saying that my most treasured possessions are items that once belonged to my mother, and when I started asking around the office, I discovered that plenty of other Plum District ladies feel the same way. From Louis Vuitton bags that are timeless tributes to your family’s stylish lineage (Anna Lipshaw: Lead District Consultant, Bay Area) to custom capes that Mom meticulously designed and created as 4-H projects (Kate Goepferd – Site Manager, Midwest Region), the most special gifts from Mom are ones that once belonged to her.
GALLERY: Treasures passed from Mom to Mom [click on photos to enlarge]:
Shannon Vetter – District Consultant, Maryland:
“My grandmother, mother and I were all married using the same ring. When my mother was married, her mom gave it to her and she decided to use it for the ceremony. When I was married, my mom then offered it to me. How could I turn it down? It already carried 79 years of marriage in it!
It’s a simple gold band but it means more to me than anything. Its inscription, J.B.C. to P.J.A. 6-16-45, also means C.S.N. to S.J.C 12/31/66 and F.J.V. to S.C.N 5/27/95.
When my beloved grandmother passed away in 1999, as the oldest grandchild I inherited her mother’s wedding ring. My grandmother wore that ring for as long as I can remember and it is so special to me to wear it now. Its inscription is J.B.C. to A.W. Sept. 26, 1889.
When I think about the hands on which these rings were worn, all the places they have been, all the meals they have prepared, all the children’s backs they have rubbed, all the words they have written, all the music they have played, all the gardens they have tended, all the toys they have put away and all the faces they have held, I am inspired to live up to their legacy and make these rings and their owners proud.”
Helen Connor – Regional Manager, Boston:
“I have several pairs of my mom’s high heeled shoes from when she was my age. Now that I’m a mom I realize what big shoes I have to fill!”
Lisa Barnes – District Consultant, San Francisco Bay Area:
“I wear my grandmother’s diamond on a chain around my neck 24/7. My grandma was one of the most important women in my life. She treated me like I was the most amazing person in the world. Always complimented me and made me feel so loved and important. Any time I was down and needed to talk to someone, I would call her. She always know the right thing to say. She always told me that I was her “diamond” (I was born in April, and that is my birthstone) and that when she died, she wanted me to have her diamond.
She passed away four years ago, and her funeral was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. After the service, my sisters, my daughter, my cousins, and my mom all went back to her house and sat on her bed with all of her jewelry boxes. We sat there for over three hours laughing, crying and sorting out all of the “treasures” she had saved over her lifetime. She saved everything, included all the notes that accompanied the jewelry. Going through all of her jewelry that day is a memory I will never forget – it helped ease the pain of the funeral. We all choice pieces that held important, strong memories for us. Her diamond, stays on me 24 hours a day. It’s a reminder that I was so loved by such an amazing woman, and I can hear her little words of encouragement and praise still.”
Marie Kagay – Sales Operations Coordinator – San Francisco:
“I love wearing my moms old clothes, especially her summer dresses. They have an authentic vintage feel, and are a great reminder of how cool my mom used to be!”
What are your favorite gifts from your Mom?
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.
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.
May 19th, 2012 | 11:31 PM
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Follow these simple tips to get quality photos every time you click!
May 18th, 2012 | 9:15 PM
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.
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!
Isn't She Lovely?
May 18th, 2012 | 9:05 AM
Right about now, your teenager is starting to sweat it out over the most important social event of their young life…
Oh, the glitter, the glamor, the drama of it all. Remember your prom night? You probably rocked a dress that made you feel like a princess. Of course, fashion doesn’t always hold up over the years…and who else but the ladies of Plum District to remind you just how fantastic and fantastically terrible a prom dress can be?
Names have been withheld to protect the bedazzled, the shoulder-padded, and the tuxedoed.
GALLERY: PLUM DISTRICT PROM MAGIC (click on photos to enlarge):