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.
Tips for finding the perfect sitter
April 23rd, 2012 | 12:45 PM
Carly is one of our hardworking moms in Connecticut. When she’s not out making moms day, shes making her own day with her children and husband. Here she shares her tips on finding the perfect sitter for your family.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the phrase “date night” I gently sigh as I briefly think back to what life was like before kids. Don’t get me wrong – I simply adore my children and I wouldn’t change a thing about having them, however, there are times when I crave the quiet nights my husband and I used to have before kids.
In order to have some well-deserved time alone with your sweetie, you also have to find a good babysitter. If you don’t have friends and family close by, then that can be a difficult and daunting task. Weeknights are busy and by the time our long-awaited weekend arrives, we find ourselves over-committed and ditching the idea of going out (yet again).
The first step in reclaiming date night is committing to a date. Once that is agreed, established, and officially written in pen on the calendar, we come to the truly hardest step in getting out for a night:
Finding a reliable and responsible babysitter with whom you can feel confident with leaving your kids in their care.
Here’s some helpful tips on how to find the perfect babysitter so you don’t have to stress while you relax with the hubby.
Tip #1: Stay local
Luckily, my sitter lives right across the street from me, but if I couldn’t connect with her, backup plan is to contact the guidance department at my local high school. They put me in contact with their program that works directly with people and businesses in the area to provide students with job opportunities and work experience. Not comfortable with a high school student? Consider contacting local colleges and universities and get in touch with a coordinator at student services. Often those who are seeking a degree in early education may be looking to gain some experience with kids and some extra cash, too!
Tip #2: Get a friend’s recommendation
If you have a good friend whose sitter they trust, their sitter probably has friends who are also looking for some extra cash. It’s well worth the effort to ask. If they’re really your true friend, they might even loan you their sitter just this once!
Tip #3: Create or join a sitter swap
Create a fun solution to your own problem! Take full advantage of your network of friends, family and neighbors and see if they’d be interested in doing a sitter swap. One week, you drop your kids off at their house for an evening play date while you and your significant other go out for date night. Then, the next week, you take their kids and do the same. A huge benefit: it saves money and your kids get to hang out with their friends.
Tip #4: If all else fails – Google it.
There are new services popping up with parents like us in mind. Two relatively new sites are Sitter City and Care. Both offer similar services for finding babysitters, nannies, and even daycare. Some of the benefits of these sites is that they have free trials so you can see if you like the service. You’ll find there are reviews from parents who have used certain individual’s services through the site. Once you have added your information, and the type of sitting services you are looking for, the rest is easy – the applicants come to you! The cons? The drawbacks include a fee to join to get the “premium” information.And of course, the big caveat that it is the Internet – you just can’t be sure what information is true or not, despite background checks. Being very careful is always the best advice when choosing to use the Internet for these searches.
Tip #5: Talk to your kids
Once you’ve found a sitter, it’s critical that you some feedback from your kids. See if they like the sitter and are excited to see them. Ask your kids if they like being with the sitter. If they do, then book them for some nights in advance so you have some date nights to look forward to in your future to reconnect and get some time away – even if it is just for a few hours!
We all know the earth feeds our families, but we can feed the earth too. Read today's post to learn how!
April 22nd, 2012 | 10:35 AM
We chatted with two Plum District Moms to see how they incorporated composting in their homes.
Ginger, of Los Angeles, says ever since installing the compost bin and utilizing a “food scraps” container (a small metal bin right near the sink), she’s amazed at how much less trash she’s producing and how good it feels to re-cycle. Her family’s daily routine includes a trip to the backyard with their food-scrap-filled canister to “feed” the compost bin.
Liz, of Denver, recommends a simple black trash can ($12) with the bottom cut out and air holes punched in the sides. You can also Google the word “composting” to see if your city offers free containers. The Department of Sanitation in your town just may surprise you!
Here’s what to put in your new compost bin (it’s an easy equation):
Half green, half brown, a little water, a little air flow, and heat.
- Green is your vegetable and green plant scraps, or your nitrogen: carrot peels, apple cores, lettuce scraps, pepper cores, orange peels, potato skins, celery tops, grass clippings.
- Brown is your dead plant matter, or carbon: last fall’s leaves, deadheads and old twigs from your bushes, grass clippings that you let dry in the sun for a day or two.
The key is getting the mix right. Water the bin until the mix is moist like a sponge. Then make sure there are some air holes, put the lid on and let it heat up! If you have the mix right (the 50/50 split) it shouldn’t smell at all. If it does start to smell like ammonia, you’ve got too much green stuff. Add some brown.
(Note! Here’s what you should not put in the bin: No meat, no fats. No steak bones, or cheese rinds, or leftover bacon, or last night’s salad with blue cheese dressing).
Now that you’ve collected your bin, you can keep it right in your garden. The sun heats it up, and the good compost-making worms and bugs will crawl right in. When it’s time to harvest, just lift up the trash can, and that handy hole in the bottom lets the rich brown compost fall out! You can distribute the compost through your soil to increase its richness and feed our earth!
Composting is a great daily activity for you and the kids. It teaches the whole gang to be conscious of the earth and reinforces how even the littlest effort makes the biggest difference.
Liz Easterly writes StapletonMoms.com in Denver, where she keeps a little backyard garden and a $12 trash can compost bin that her two boys help care for. Ginger lives with her husband and two children in Los Angeles, CA and loves working for Plum District. Since starting composting a year ago, she feels a little better about doing her small part to leave a healthier planet behind for the next generation.
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!
Sustainable fashion designers to watch in 2012!
April 18th, 2012 | 2:28 PM
“Earth-friendly fashion” isn’t just about hemp pants and organic cotton T-shirts. In fact, you can make a big impact on your wardrobe while minimizing your carbon footprint – and still be the chicest chick in town. Sustainable practices like recycling, composting, and energy conservation have become easier to implement in the average American household, and sustainability can be fashion-forward, too. Apparel and accessory designers have caught “green fever”, and some of the hottest fashion trends of 2012 exhibit conscientious design.
The clothing of Indigenous is a beautiful blend of form and eco-friendly function. It’s made with fair-trade materials that are hand knit or hand woven by artisan workers in South America. Materials include organic cotton, natural fibers like Merino wool, and dyes that are free of harmful chemicals. From flowing drape dresses to intricately detailed pullovers and coats, the clothing from Indigenous is naturally chic!
Ever stare into the cluttered backseat of your car or the void of crumpled paper that is your giant Mom purse and just sigh, defeated by your accidental collection of stray receipts, candy wrappers, and to-do lists? Ecoist has majorly upgraded that trash into treasure, with their line of adorably quirky jewelry and handbags that are made from recycled materials like food packages, newspapers, and soda tabs. Their soda tab jewelry looks like modern chain mail, perfect for Moms who love a little cosmopolitan polish. Colorful candy wrapper clutches add a rainbow burst to any outfit!
Designer Jeff Garner is blending old-world aesthetic and modern sensibilities with his line, Prophetik. Inspired by the fiercely feminine gowns of the Civil War era, Garner creates flirty dresses with sleek lines and billowing accents, contradictory details that just…work. Even better? All materials and processes are eco-friendly, from the organic dyes to the fleece made from recycled bottles. Celebs are scrambling to get their hands on one of Garner’s gowns, and it’s no wonder – slip one over your head and you’ll truly feel like a natural woman.
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.
Saturday we gave back a little to our Earth and our beautiful city
April 16th, 2012 | 12:31 PM
In the spirit of Earth Day a few of us Plummies volunteered for The Natural Areas Program at Golden Gate Park. We woke up and drove to the park on this gloriously sunny Saturday morning and were greeted cheerfully by our enthusiastic and very knowledgable gardner Dylan. Dylan told us that we would be working on an area of the park called Oak Grove. He explained to us the history of Oak Grove and how he and the team at Golden Gate Park work in coordination with volunteers to restore indigenous plant life to areas of the park.
As we walked through the area, Dylan would point out rare and locally specific plants that none of us had ever heard of or realized were specific to the San Francisco area. We were quickly tasked with helping promote the growth of these plans. We put on some gloves and began working away and weeding anything that might prohibit the growth of these plants. For Maggie, Sasha and myself this was a couple hours on our Saturday well spent. It was really amazing to help contribute to beautifying such a robust little ecosystem in our big city.
Help celebrate Earth by organizing a work or family event and spend a couple hours giving back to our beautiful planet! Try searching the National Park Service or contacting your local recreation department.
Go Green and Clean!
April 14th, 2012 | 9:25 AM
Deb Clem offers her advise and easy recipes for keeping your home dirt and germ free using eco-friendly cleaners.
A few years ago in a bold and crazy move, I got rid of all the toxic cleaning products in my home. My motivation to go green was prompted by the knowledge that we were breathing chemicals all day long and it wasn’t good for me or my daughter Rosie’s asthma. I fondly said goodbye to the scrubbing bubbles and set out to find a better way to clean.
I’ve probably tried every “Green” cleaner out there (and yes, I put that in quotes for a reason. Some aren’t good for the environment at all). I really like the Seventh Generation line and some of the Melaleuca products, but at the end of the day, many green products are pretty pricey. Once I discovered that most have one magic ingredient, I decided to make my own.
Essentially, it’s easy (and cheap) to make an effective hard surface cleaner. Vinegar is the base, and no, it doesn’t smell great, but with a little essential oil you can customize your cleaner and mask the smell of vinegar. Here’s the recipe:
2 cups white distilled vinegar
2 cups water
20-30 or more drops of essential oil (I like lemon but rosemary is delightful too).
You can also make your own furniture polish that’s 100% safe for the environment – no more toxic fumes from the Pledge bottle.
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
20-30 drops lemon essential oil
Because this mixture contains oil, you have to be sure to shake it before using.
I will confess that I still have some store-bought products around. There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to make it all! Two of my favorites that work well are the Method scrub and Simple Green all-purpose cleaner. Both clean well, smell great and are better for the environment.
The one thing I can’t give up? Toilet cleaner. I still haven’t found a way to get the bowls sparkly bright without a few toxins. Oh well. I’m trying!