Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How to Make Back to School a Little Easier (and a whole lot cuter!)

This is the first week of school for many of us, which means it is time to readjust your schedule to accommodate extra time to pack lunches every day.  This morning on WNCN Today #TipsonTues I showed Sharon Tazwel some of my secrets to making packing school lunches a little easier and a whole lot cuter:

            Snack Prep
o   Plan Ahead and Save Yourself Time. Save yourself some craziness in the mornings by organizing school lunches ahead of time.  An easy way to organize a full week of lunches on Sunday is to put all of your individual snacks into a small box or basket so that in the evening you can simply grab what you need and toss it into your lunch box(es).  A plastic shoebox makes the perfect bin for dry goods like pretzels, raisins, granola bars and applesauce.  It is also perfect for keeping yogurt, cheese sticks, fruit and veggies organized in the refrigerator.  TIP:  This also makes the perfect snack station for after school.

o   Frozen Yogurt. If your kids love yogurt, chances are you have discovered squeezable yogurt.  These individual servings are perfect for little ones and great on the go but you may be worried about the yogurt getting too warm in a lunch box on a hot day.  That problem is very easily solved – simply freeze them!  Pop your squeezable yogurt into the freezer, throw one in the lunch box with your regular ice pack in the morning and by lunch time it will be thawed enough to eat and perfectly cold.  Pure. Genius.  (this tip originated, believe it or not, from my dad!)

Lunch Just for You
o   Personalized Sandwich Box.  Adding a personal touch to your little one’s lunch box is easier than you might think.  All you need is a plastic sandwich box (or any food container), paint pen, painter’s tape and a printer.  Print your little one’s name on regular printer paper, tape the name to the inside of the sandwich box lid and use a paint pen to trace each letter.  TIP:  If you hand wash your sandwich box the writing will last for years!

Eco Friendly Sandwich Bags
o   Spbang Bags.  Packing a school lunch every day used to mean wasting tons of zip top bags, but not any more!  You can now find plenty of alternatives to a plastic bag, like these cute bags from spbang which are super easy to open and close.  The major bonus is that they are also dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.

For all of my tips pick up your own copy of my Tips for the Clueless Chick books and follow the Clueless Chick on Facebook and Twitter.  Tune in to #TipsonTues next week to find out National Baby Safety Month.

Until next time,
aka Chick #1

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Planning the Perfect Picnic

August is National Picnic Month and with a few simple tips that I shared with Sharon Tazwell on WNCN Today this morning you can easily plan the perfect picnic by pulling together a few items that are probably already in your pantry:

            The Right Gear
o   The Only Picnic Blanket You Need. Your picnic is of course not complete without a picnic blanket.  While any blanket will do, you don’t want to take just any blanket.  You will enjoy your picnic more if you aren’t contending with the hot or wet ground or worrying about your blanket getting dirty.  One of my personal favorites is the Outdoor Blanket from JJ Cole.  This blanket collapses to an easy to carry size with carrying strap and is lined on the bottom to keep you and your blanket dry making it perfect for the hot beach sand too.

Packing Tips
o   Takeout Containers and Cereal Storage.  Save yourself room in your picnic basket and the headache of over packing by breaking out your leftover takeout containers.  A sturdy takeout container with a lid can be used to pack individual lunches or snacks and the lid itself will double as an extra plate.  What is even better is that these are FREE.  Since you also want to avoid packing glass, and open snack bags are just asking to be spilled for visited by a few friendly ants, think about repurposing other storage containers from your pantry.  A cereal storage container makes the perfect travel chip or pretzel container since it can easily be thrown into your picnic basket and has an airtight lid.

o   Food Huggers.  If you are a fruit lover like me, you’ll love these great new gadgets that I have been repurposing to take fruit with me so they are obviously a picnic must have.  Food Huggers are cute silicone caps for your food.  While they are meant to help save your half-eaten fruit at home, Food Huggers are perfect for your picnic for taking the rest of your apple or orange with you or carrying home your remaining tomato.  You can even get a little fancy and bring half a lemon with you to squeeze over your salad or salmon.

Keeping Cleanup Simple
o   Wipes and Baggies.  No matter how well you plan, your picnic is bound to generate a bit of a mess.  So how can you easily deal with a mess at a picnic?  It is as easy as grabbing a large zip-top bag and some wet wipes.  Wet wipes are perfect for cleaning messy hands and wiping off silverware or plates.  You can then simply stuff your dirty wet wipes, napkins and any other trash into a large zip-top bag – another item you surely have in your pantry which will make your picnic that much easier!

Happy Picnicking!

For all of my tips pick up your own copy of my Tips for the Clueless Chick books and follow the Clueless Chick on Facebook and Twitter.  Tune in to #TipsonTues next week to find out how to make back to school week stress free!

Until next time,
aka Chick #1

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to School!

Today was a BIG day in the Durbin house....our oldest son started Kindergarten!!!  As you might expect, I had to commemorate the day with a Pinterest ready picture.  My hubby, bless his heart, had other ideas...  Go figure ;-)  The results?  Quite possibly my all-time favorite collage:

It reminds me a good bit of my Pinterest-Perfect (or not...) Carolina Parent Magazine blog from a while back which was Carter's 1st Halloween:

Has your hubby ever pulled such a stunt?  This is absolutely one of the top 5 reasons why I love this man ;-)

Until next time,
aka Chick #1

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Preparing for Baby #2

Preparing for your first baby is a whole lot of work so by the time Baby #2 rolls around you feel like an old pro, but don’t forget you still have a little work to do.  This morning on WNCN Today #TipsonTuesgave Sharon Tazwell some great tips for refreshing your baby gear and prepping yourfirst child for baby #2:

o   Refresh Your Baby Gear. When you pull all of your old baby gear out of the attic it is important to do a safety check and verify that the gear has not been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (http://www.cpsc.gov).  There are also a few easy ways to spruce up your gear or turn your girly gear into something perfect for your little man.  Gear like your boppy Nursing Pillow can be completely transformed with nothing more than a new cover!  A new cover will make your boppy look good as new and is a very inexpensive way to match your new nursery d├ęcor.  TIP:  You can also get a new cover for your Bumbo, car seat, stroller and changing pad!

o   Baby and Big Brother/Big Sister Gifts.  A great way to involve your older child in the excitement of the baby’s arrival is to let them pick out a new toy to give the baby when they meet for the first time.  It is also a good idea to pack a gift for Big Brother/Big Sister in your hospital bag so that the baby can give them a gift too.  Your older child will be so excited!  You can pick one of their favorite characters or even a book they will enjoy reading to the baby.  

o   The Ultimate Ultrasound.  Another way to make your older child really feel like part of this adventure is to take them with you to your 2nd or 3rd trimester ultrasound!  Letting your child see the baby is such a special experience for both of you.  If you have your ultrasound at Babygram Imaging you can even let your old child participate in the gender reveal with cupcakes from The Cupcake Shoppe which are included in your package!  Let your first-born dive into the cupcake to find out if it’s a boy or a girl :-)  TIP:  Before you take your child with you to the ultrasound appointment be sure to tell them all about seeing pictures of the baby in mama’s belly so they aren’t freaked out.

So dig out that old baby gear and find a few fun ways to get your older child(ren) excited!

For all of my tips pick up your own copy of my Tips for the Clueless Chick books and follow the Clueless Chick on Facebook and Twitter.  Tune in to #TipsonTues next week for fun ways to celebrate National Picnic Month!

Until next time,
aka Chick #1

p.s. A BIG Clueless Chick thank you to Boppy, Babygram Imaging and The Cupcake Shoppe for today's props!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

S’more S’mores!

National S’mores Day is this weekend which is of course the perfect excuse to indulge in an ooey gooey s’mores.  This morning on WNCN Today I shared some of my favorite s’mores recipes that include more than just the plain old graham cracker, marshmallow and chocolate:

o   Smores Pudding Cup. A fun way to make a s’mores dessert without toasting a single marshmallow is by whipping up a s’mores pudding cup.  In a clear cup layer graham cracker pieces, whipped topping, chocolate pudding and top with graham cracker crumbs and mini marshmallows.  TIP: Serve your s’mores pudding cup in a wine glass for a fun and fancy sweet treat.

o   Smores Munch. A fun s’mores munch is the perfect make ahead treat to serve on it’s own or mixed with popcorn.  Simply spread 2 cups of cinnamon graham cereal on a lined baking sheet and cover with 1 cup mini marshmallows and 1 cup mini chocolate chips.  Bake at 350 for 5 min or until chocolate chips begin to soften.  Remove from oven and promptly toss the munch to cover all of the cereal and marshmallows with chocolate.  Allow to cool and break into bite size pieces.  TIP: S’mores munch can be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

o   Smore Pretzels. Think s’mores are just for graham crackers?  Think again!  Instead of using graham crackers, put 3 mini marshmallows in-between two twisty pretzels and dip the pretzel marshmallow sandwich in chocolate.  Allow the chocolate to cool and harden for a perfectly popable s’mores.  TIP: I used gluten free pretzels to make the perfect gluten free s’mores!
o   Smores Brownie Cup. A perfectly adorable way to serve s’mores is in a brownie cup.  Simply mix your favorite brownie mix and bake in a mini muffin tin for 2 min less than directed so that your brownies are still ooey gooey in the center.  Remove the pan from the oven and immediately press 3 mini marshmallows in the center of each brownie cup and add a teddy graham cookie or graham cracker stick.  TIP:  These adorable s’mores brownie cups look just like a little teddy bear bubble bath and make the perfect dessert for your next baby shower or 1st birthday party.

o   Smores To Go. Believe it or not, s’mores also make the perfect party favor and small gift.  All you need is a cute bag or container that will fit a chocolate bar, graham crackers and a few marshmallows.  You can even include a cute note with directions to toast the marshmallows on top of the graham crackers in the oven at 350 for 5 min then add the chocolate.

Another super fun aspect of this morning's segment was the girl power on set!  There were 4 of us lovely ladies and they let me crash the couch!!

For all of my tips pick up your own copy of my Tips for the Clueless Chick books and follow the Clueless Chick on Facebook and Twitter.  Tune in to #TipsonTues next week for tips on preparing to welcome Baby #2!

Until next time,
aka Chick #1