Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Years Eve with Kids

It’s New Years Eve and you’ve been hoping to spend the night at your favorite party, but it turns out life has other plans for you. If your baby sitter canceled on you at the last minute, or one of the kids got sick, don’t worry, I can show you how fun being stuck at home with the kids on New Years Eve can be.

DIY New Years Craft
·      DIY Sparkler Rings: Making a fun and easy craft is a great way to pass the hours with your kids on New Years Eve and these DIY Sparkler Rings just perfect. All you need are pipe cleaners (preferably sparkly) and a pair of scissors. To make the ring, cut 3 pipe cleaners in half and set 1 piece aside. Fold the remaining 5 pieces in half, forming a loop at the bend large enough for a child’s finger and wrap the remaining piece just above the loop to form the ring. Then, bend back each end of the pipe cleaners to form the design of a sparkler. These rings are so easy and fun you’ll be making them in every color for every holiday.

·      DIY Noise Makers:  You don’t have to spend a fortune on throwaway noisemakers this New Years, all you need are plastic containers and dry beans.  Here I’ve used old drink bottles that have been washed and dried then filled with dry beans.  To add a little decoration, I covered the bottles with black cardstock and added bright white ‘2016’ stickers.  Kids and adults alike will love using these simple shakers to make a little noise on New Years.

Wishes for the New Year
·      New Years Wishes Ball: A fun way to teach your kids about positive thinking and planning for the future is to make New Years Whishes Balls on New Years Eve. All you need are clear glass (or plastic) ornaments, paper cut into ~3”x1” strips, and a pen. You will use the paper and pen to write down your wishes for the coming year, then roll up each strip of paper and stuff them into your clear glass ornament. As the year progresses you can review your wishes or keep them a secret until it is time to make your New Years Wishes Ball next year.

Midnight Toast
·      Milk & Cookies: For New Years Eve with the Kids, you are probably planning to ring in the new year at 8 or even 10pm, and doing so with a kiddo friendly toast is simply perfect. Pick up a set of plastic champagne glasses from the party store, fill them with milk and top each glass with a cookie. Can you imagine a better way to ring in the new year than with milk and cookies?

Whether your night at home with the kids was planned or is happening by chance, you are going to have a fabulous time, Happy New Years!

For all of my tips pick up your own copy Party Planning Tips for the Clueless Chick books and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Until next time,
aka Chick #1

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Make Your Holiday Party Stand Out

One of the best things about this time of year is all of the holiday parties. Whether you are planning a large party or just having a few friends over, there are very easy ways to add your personal style to your party. Today on My Carolina Today I shared my favorite tips for making your holiday party stand out from the rest.

Make Your Mark
·      Decorative Glass Markers: Let’s be honest, you’re sick of using the same old wine glass markers and the thought of spending $20-50 on a new set is just irritating. Here’s an idea – why not repurpose holiday window clings?  Those gel window clings you see at the store for $1-2 make the perfect stay-put wine glass marker and for just a few bucks you can buy more than you’ll ever need.  You can have fun by decorating each glass before guests arrive, or let them get creative and pick their own designs.

Fun with Food
·      Snowballs: When you are setting your party menu, choose foods that you can have fun with. Powdered doughnut holes make the perfect Snowballs for any winter party and can be served on a plate, bowl or even a cute vase. You can add an extra special twist to your glasses by putting a doughnut hole on each straw. Your imagination is your only limit.

Grab and Go
·      Shrimp Cocktail Shots: Shrimp Cocktail is an easy crowd pleaser at any party, but how boring is a plain plate of shrimp?! Why not create individual Shrimp Cocktail Shots? All you need are plastic shot glasses with a dab of cocktail sauce in each and a shrimp on top. Not only are these absolutely adorable, they are an ideal snack for mingling because your guest can grab a glass and go.  

·      Hot Cocoa Kit: To make your holiday party unforgettable, never send your guests home empty handed. A small favor or a Grownup Hot Cocoa Kit are easy ways to thank your guests for coming. The Hot Cocoa Kit is made up of a small mason jar, cocoa mix, mini marshmallows and a mini bottle of Irish Cream. Simply add the cocoa mix to the mason jar, top it with marshmallows and tie on a bottle of Bailey’s. Your guest will be reminiscing about your party the next night over their hot cocoa.

Whether you go all out or include one small personal touch, make your party your own. A personalized party will mean more to you and your guests. Happy Holidays!

For all of my tips pick up your own copy Party Planning Tips for the Clueless Chick books and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Until next time,
aka Chick #1 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Holiday Decorating Made Simple

Ready or not, it’s time to pull out all of your Christmas decorations (that is if you haven’t had them up since Halloween…).  Jennifer Durbin, author of Part Planning Tips for the Clueless Chick is with us today to show you fun ways to decorate for the holidays, even if you aren’t crafty.

      Decorations Even the Guys will Get Into.  
o   Reinbeer.  Grab a six-pack of your favorite beer, or a few clean bottles from the recycling bin, and make yourself some Reinbeer.  Simply glue 2 googlie eyes and a red nose on the front of the bottle and add brown pipe cleaner antlers.  TIP:  A six-pack of Reinbeer also makes the perfect hostess gift for your next holiday party.

      Simply Perfect and Perfectly Simple.  
o   Simply Scented Centerpieces.  Create a super simple and delicious smelling holiday centerpiece by placing peppermint candies around the candle in any hurricane or vase.  TIP:  Your toddler will love helping you unwrap the peppermints and the activity is perfect for small motor skill development.

o   A Simply Adorable Wreath.  If you are looking for a clean and simple holiday wreath for your front door that can be used year round, grab a grapevine wreath and add a few Christmas ornaments.  All you will need is a grapevine wreath, ribbon and a few ornaments.  Simply wrap your favorite ribbon around the top of the wreath and tie an ornament on each end of the ribbon.  Repeat until you’ve achieved the look you love.  

o   Simple Felt Garland.  To make a simple garland that will last for years to come, pick up a few felt ornaments and string them together with your favorite ribbon or twine.  Your garland strand doesn’t have to be long, a short strand across the hutch in your dining room or above the doorway is the perfect holiday touch. TIP:  If you cannot find felt ornaments you like, you can always make your own old fashioned snowflakes.

o   The Perfect Present.  Centerpieces and mantle decorations don’t have to be elaborate or expensive to be festive.  All you need are a few Kleenex boxes and your favorite wrapping paper to make adorable and re-usable holiday decorations.

Whether you go all out or only hang a wreath on the front door, have fun with it!

Until next time,
aka Chick #1

Friday, October 2, 2015

Pinterest Perfect {or not…}

We have all see those perfect pictures everyone posts on Facebook, Twitter and the dreaded Pinterest which make us think “why on earth doesn’t my family picture look like that” or “I should be able to create that spun sugar rose for my daughter’s birthday cake”.  But do we ever get to see the 50 outtakes, messed up cakes and burnt rice?  Heck no.

I don’t know about you, but I think that the pressure to always be Pinterest-perfect is just crazy.  We all have enough going on trying to keep the kids fed, house cleaned and make it to work with matching earrings, something’s gotta give.

Don’t give me wrong, I am head over heels in love with Pinterest and could spend hours upon hours pinning, pinning and re-pinning.  But I do have to remind myself that while I’m capable of many things, mimicking everything I see on Pinterest is purely out of the question.  I was reminded of that recently when I attempted to make ketchup cup muffins.  After all, the pin made it looks so ingenuous and easy!  Long story short, it simply didn’t work.  Not only did the muffing mix either not rise to the top or completely spill over, you can’t get the muffins out of the adorable little cups in one piece.

Lesson learned:  Ketchup cups are for ketchup.

A few people were surprised that I was eager to share my #PinterestFail picture.  Buy why the heck not?  I find it highly entertaining that something I thought was such a no-brainer was a total disaster and hopefully someone will learn from my goof and teach me how to do it right next time.

Plus, it’s fun to get a behind the scenes look at what goes in to making something look Pinterest-perfect.  Like my oldest son’s first Halloween picture:

Ahhh, my sweet little baby boy in his adorable (and ridiculously expensive) monkey costume playing with the perfect pumpkins we are about to carve as a family.  Yeah, right.  This super cute picture was actually taken a week before Halloween with fake pumpkins from the craft store.  If memory serves me we spent a good 15 min chasing down this little man to get one pictures:

So here is one of my favorite tips to de-stress your life and take a little pressure off.  Sure, we all want a perfect picture of the first day of school and the little one’s blowing out their birthday candles and those moments are nearly impossible to recreate.  But what about the moments which are possible to recreate?  I say, recreate them!  Take a little pressure off by taking your “First Day of School!” pictures before and after school.  Or shoot, change the sign to “Kindergarten!” and you can get away with taking the picture during the week before, or the week of the first day of school.

When my youngest was nearly 7 months old I may, or may not, have realized that we forgot to make his 6 month footprint plate.  We immediately ran to the pottery store and made his 6 month footprints.  Yes, the plate prominently says “6 month”.  After all, what’s a few weeks among family? :-) 

My point, of course, is to take full advantage of the times when you can take the pressure off and give yourself a bit of breathing room.  Wouldn’t you rather be present in that wonderful moment of carving pumpkins with your kids than worrying about getting a Pinterest-perfect picture?

Happy pinning!

Until next time,
aka Chick #1


Sunday, August 30, 2015

National Play-Doh Day

Did you know that September 16th is National Play-Doh Day?  Yep, an official day dedicated to that age old favorite of kids young and old.  So let’s celebrate!  How about a Play-Doh Play Date?  Whether you invite all of the neighborhood kids over, or spend a relaxing Saturday just playing with the kids, I have some fun ideas for you:

First, let’s make some homemade play-doh! Before your guys glaze over and you skip to the next paragraph, give me just a second because this is really quite easy. Seriously.  If you can make a box of macaroni & cheese, you can make play-doh. The picture below was my first ever attempt at making play-doh, so you can do it. And boy is it fun! The boys and I were looking for a fun rainy day activity, so I figured we’d give it a try.

Homemade Play-Doh

1 cup flour
1 cup warm water
½ cup salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tbsp. cream of tartar
Food coloring (optional)

Simply mix all of your ingredients, expect the food coloring, together in a small pot and cook over low heat, stirring continuously, until a dough forms and the mixture pulls away from the sides.  Cooking time ~5-10min. 

Your play-doh will naturally be a pretty off white color.  If you’d like to get a little more creative, add your favorite color of food coloring.  Place your play-doh on the counter, flatten it into a pancake shape and drop a few drops of food coloring in the center and knead the play-doh until the color is evenly dispersed.  If you would like a deeper color, just add a few more drops and keep kneading. Don’t forget to divide your play-doh into sections before adding food coloring if you want more than one color :-)

TIP:  Store your Play-Doh in an airtight container to keep it fresh for months to come.  If it happens to get a bit crusty and the salt crystals begin to show just knead it for a few minutes.  Feel free to double, or even triple, the recipe if you are feeling ambitious.

All Natural Play-Doh
If you aren’t up for making your own Play-Doh, but you do want to make sure your little ones are playing only with non-toxic, natural ingredients, all you need is to find a good eco-friendly dough which is a lot easier than it used to be.

TIP:  All natural play-doh makes a great stocking suffer for grownups, it is perfect for carefree stress relief at the office.  Think of a stress ball, but funner ;-)

Mess-free Fun
Many parents dread the idea of popping open a new tub of Play-Doh for fear that it will end up all over the place.  One easy way to keep your Play-Doh contained is with a cookie sheet from the Dollar Store.  Yep, a $1.00 investment.  These cookie sheets are super lightweight and allow for the Play-Doh to stick just enough to build on but not enough that cleaning isn’t still a breeze!  This also helps keep different piles of play-doh separate and avoid those ‘Joey mixed his red play-doh with my white play-doh!” issues.  

TIP:  Be sure to mark your Play-Doh cookie sheets so you don’t accidentally cook with them. A little paint will do the trick and you can even get super crafty and paint a name on each cookie sheet.

Candy-Free Treats  
Whether you are creating party favors, making DIY birthday gifts or searching for the perfect Halloween treat, why not use play-doh?  Play-doh, specially the homemade play-doh you just made, is the perfect alternative to a sugar filled Halloween treat for toddlers, and a usable favor for your next birthday party.

How do you dress up the play-doh?  Simply place your DIY play-doh inside a plastic easter egg or baggie and add a cute and festive cookie cutters and a bow.

No mater how you decide to celebrate National Play-Doh Day, be sure to take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to play with the little ones, those are the memories they will carry with them forever.

Until next time,
aka Chick #1

as seen in Carolina Parent Magazine

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

#TopTwo Baby Items I Still Use Every Day

This installment of my #TopTwo is dedicated to saving you a little money.  Having a baby can be an expensive endeavor which I why I always recommend that you shop smart, buying only what you truly need and looking for gear that will do double duty.  For example, skip the changing table when you are buying nursery furniture and buy a dresser that can double as a changing table.

The same is true when it comes to buying smaller items and believe you me, there are a ton of small items to buy.  Here are two of my must have baby items which I am literally still using 5 years later.  Really, every day.

Not only is the Boon Patch just about the most stylish bottle drying rack there is, it is uber versatile.  Years after the boys have outgrown bottles I am still using my Patch for everything from small items like measuring spoons and corn on the cob holders to delicate items like wine and champagne glasses or vases.  Cutting boards, spoons, spatulas and water bottles will dry quicker and look cuter!

I have tried a lot of baby bottle brushes over the years (a LOT) and the Munchkin Big Brush is still my favorite.  It is the perfect compact all-in-one brush that made bottle washing much easier.  So what do I use it for these days?  This brush is my go to for water bottles, wine and champagne glasses, vases, ramekins, small pots, you name it! Like any kitchen sponge you’ll want to swap it out when it starts looking a little iffy, but at this price you might as well buy 3 at a time.

How is that for 2 inexpensive long term investments?! Who doesn’t love #TopTwo money savers :-)

Until next time,
aka Chick #1