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):
Memory blankets are a crafty, unique way to preserve your kids' childhood.
May 16th, 2012 | 10:47 PM
By Melissa Carlisle
Melissa Carlisle is a local and national District Consultant, as well as the author of the MelissaStuff blog. She’s the mother of three boys – 6, 4 and 2 years old – making it easy for her to know exactly what kinds of deals you are looking for as a mom.
As your kids outgrow their baby clothes it can be incredibly difficult to bring yourself to throw them out. There’s that adorable preemie outfit, the toddler shirt that fit their budding personality perfectly, or even the blanket that they couldn’t live without for years.
But what do you do with them? Keeping a stack of clothes, blankets and bibs for years seems silly. What will your kids do with any of that stuff?
Memory blankets are the perfect answer. Experienced quilters can take outfits, t-shirts, blankets, and even smaller sentimental pieces can be preserved in a gorgeous, functional quilt. If you’re the crafty type with basic sewing skills, you can make a memory quilt on your own. There are some great tutorials like Lil Blue Boo and The Bunk House , that show you how to make a tee-shirt quilt, step-by-step!
If that’s beyond your skill-set or you have little kids running around your house getting into every project you start, there are some great online solutions. If you are comfortable mailing off your memorabilia to a seamstress and paying $150 – $1000+, professional quilters will take your shirts, create a quilt and ship it right back to you.
My personal opinion is to grab a memory quilt offer right here on Plum District, like this offer from Mominizer – and have a quilt made in the easiest, most economic way possible! Save your money, time and memories all at the same time!
Have you made a memory blanket (or had one made)? What materials did you use? Did you keep it for yourself or give it to your kids?
Unplug, have fun, and be sure to follow the rules!
May 16th, 2012 | 9:36 AM
Heaven knows we all love our electronic devices. Who among us hasn’t woken up face down in a laptop, the imprint of the home row indented on our faces? Still; as much as these technological wonders keep us connected, they can also drive us apart. Time to put down the iPad, Mom, and rally the troops for an old-fashioned game night!
Step One: Unplug your family. Grab a basket or box and collect those cellphones, DS’s, and other e-distractions. Warning: Your moody teenager will resist this analog interaction. This is just the tech withdrawal talking. Once she owns a few railroads in Monopoly she’ll fall into a rhythm of family fun that’s undeniable.
Step Two: Gather a variety of age-appropriate games. Get Cranium, Scrabble, Scattergories, and Trivial Pursuit for the older kids. For the squirrely youngin’s, Scavenger for Kids and Kids on Stage are fun and funny games the encourage kids to move. Apples to Apples, Sorry, Monopoly, Life, Clue, and Yatzee are classics that the whole family will enjoy!
Step Three: Break into a game and get started! After a few game nights a pattern may begin to emerge. In my family, I am the type-A aunty who always has to read the directions before we begin. My 8-year-old niece, Hope, always sets up the board and chooses each player’s color or symbol (she’s a good girl and always gives her aunty the top hat in Monopoly)! My nephew Gavin keeps the pace of the game moving – though sometimes he skips his sister to take his turn. We’re working on it.
Step Four: Snacks. Something healthy enough that you can graze on it for hours, but yummy enough that you will want to graze on it for hours. I like fruit and veggie wedges with peanut butter, ranch dressing, or hummus. Popcorn is also an easy way to go, and it’s great for throwing at the offender when someone bumps you back to start in Sorry!
Additional Info: It is especially important to play a fair game and follow the rules with kids. Games teach kids to be patient and wait their turn, to follow directions, to be strategic and weigh their options, and how to be a good winner or loser.
This weekend turn off the TV, pick up a board game and bring the brood together for a few hours of fun family time that they – and you! – will always cherish.
And remember: the loser has to put away the game. Rules are rules!
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.
A mom should never show up to a party empty handed - here are some ideas we know your hostess will love
May 14th, 2012 | 11:30 AM
Kansas City’s Deb Clem offers a list of gracious hostess gift ideas that will have your friends grinning!
The month of May marks the start of the summer entertaining season. From Mother’s Day brunches to graduations to outdoor barbecues, you’re social calendar is filling fast! You’ve had your fair share of get-togethers, so you know planning these events is a lot of hard work, and it only seems right to reward your hostess with a lovely gift. But what?
Hostess gifts aren’t required but they’re a sweet gesture your friends and neighbors will appreciate. Most of my friends show up with a bottle of wine, but not everyone is partial to vino, so over the years I’ve learned to get creative. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Blooming plants — Cut flowers die within days, but plants can last for months or years. Bamboo, is easy to care for and is said to bring good luck. I just happen to have a great Asian market nearby to pick one up, but they are also fairly typical at most green houses. I just adore Orchids as well. If you happen to live in a Trader Joe’s market you’ll have to check out their selection of elegant offerings.
- Artisan Foods — I often gift a dip, cheese ball, or bread mix in a gorgeous bag. I love Tastefully Simple products and so do lots of my friends. It’s an easy and useful way to say thanks.
- Picture frames – You never have enough of these little gems. Why not pick some up at the end of each season and have a few on hand? Instead of a thank you note, simply add a sweet message or “thanks” in the frame to show how much you appreciate the invite.
- Monogrammed anything — From towels to napkins to coasters, we all love to receive personalized presents. Guess what? Your hostess does too. Anthropologie always has adorable, monogrammed handkerchiefs and mugs that your friends will fill for.
Always remember to match the gift to the hostess. Think about what she really likes before you make a choice. A couple of months ago, one of my friends showed up with the perfect gift — a bottle of Skinny Girl Cosmo’s. The note read, “Save this for a girl’s night.” We’ll be having one soon!
You value everything your kids say, but sometimes, it's just so silly you have to laugh!
May 12th, 2012 | 8:45 AM
The combination of your kids’ personalities and their imaginations can result in comments that leave parents shocked, embarrassed, or just downright overcome with laughter. These are some quotes that our District Consultants and Regional Managers shared:
From Kristi Stovall, Regional Manager in Jacksonville, FL:
My 7-year-old son asked, “Mama, can you hatch us another baby? Because I would really like a little brother.” To which my 6-year-old daughter replied, ”Don’t be ridiculous Walter. Mama is too old to hatch any more eggs!”
From Deb Clem, Regional Manager in Kansas City, KS:
The school counselor asked the kids to list the top 3 things they learned in grade school. Rosie listed: (1.) Never let your cousin cut your American Girl’s hair. (2.) Never ask a lady if she is pregnant. It won’t turn out well. (3.) Never trust boys.
From Dawn Lazzara, District Consultant in Jacksonville, FL:
On a Mother’s Day project in preschool, my son filled in the blank with this response: My Mommy is as pretty as…”a brown and white dog!”
From Helen Connor, Regional Manager in Boston, MA:
When people tell my 6-year-old daughter that she looks like daddy she says, “No I don’t. I’m not hairy!”
From Brita Brown, District Consultant in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN:
My 3-year-old daughter asked, “Mom are we lost again? You are so bad at directions!”
From Michelle Peterson, District Consultant in Salt Lake City, UT:
I was preparing the Thanksgiving turkey and my 6-year-old daughter Chloe was helping me. As I pulled the neck out of the cavity she said “Yep! We know this one’s a boy!”
From Carly Kirsch, District Consultant in Hartford/New Haven, CT:
We were out in the back yard and I spotted some tulips that had bloomed. When I pointed them out to my 3.5-year-old daughter and said, “Look, there are tulips!” She replied, “Oh wow, pretty! We have those at school, except we have a lot of lips there.”