Category: Fun Stuff
Friday, July 29
For this week’s Show and Tell I have two things to share. First, my new car that’s not really my car but I wish it was. Second, NETFLIX. Oh man, Netflix, you are too good these days. Stranger Things has me hooked. But more on that in a moment…
Okay, so the car! We are currently on our annual visit-the-family-all-over-the-northeast trip and Toyota lent us a Highlander for our adventures. I am loving this car and do not mind one bit having to drive it mile after mile after mile. So far my two favorite things (besides the smooth ride) are the fact that the car tells me what the speed limit is at any given time, which is especially helpful on these windy east coast roads with constantly changing speed limits, as well as the remote lock feature. You just have to touch the handle of the car to lock and unlock the car – it is so handy not having to dig my keys out of my purse that literally eats things. Anyway, the Highlander is a sweet ride and works great packing 5 kids in the back for our summer adventuring with the cousins. Big thanks to Toyota for the perfect car for our family vacation!
Okay, so Netflix. People. If you don’t have Netflix yet, get on that. It just gets better and better all the time. Here are a few shows I’m especially loving and/or excited about.
Are you kidding me, this show is AWESOME. It’s fun and well done and the characters rule and the 80s throwback feel is perfection and everything about it is the best. This show is also scary in the best kind of way. I am not surprised that Stephen King loves it as much as I do. (I still have two more episodes to watch, so no spoilers!)
Apparently Beat Bugs, a cartoon for kids featuring Beatles music sung by current artists, is ridiculously adorable and fun, and it comes out next week. Can’t wait to show it to my kids! Fun fact: the creators of Beat Bugs are also going to be releasing a yet-to-be-named Motown-themed show as well. I might even be more excited for Motown than Beatles music. Fun stuff, and excited to have my kids get to know all of this great, classic music.
We have an air date! I repeat, we have an air date! Gilmore girls: A Year in the Life will be available on November 25. That is going to be the best day ever. Thanksgiving leftovers and 6 hours of new Gilmore girls shows to watch. I CAN’T WAIT.
That’s it for today! Happy driving and watching!
Friday, July 1
Happy Friday, friends! It’s been a while since I’ve done a weekly Friday Show & Tell post. There are a few things I really want to share with you, so here we go! Remember, Show & Tell is for the whole class, so if you have anything to share, please do so in the comments! Links, accomplishments, whatever you’ve got!
Thing #1 to Share: This Hair Product Has Changed My Life
This won’t be helpful for everyone, depending on what kind of hair you have, but I still have to share because it really has made my life so much easier. About 9 months ago my friend Luvvie posted about the company Shea Moisture on Facebook. I had never heard of them, so I clicked through to the website and read a bit about their company history and products. Coincidentally a few days later I noticed their product at Target. The Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie caught my eye, so I bought it.
Okay, so here’s the deal. My hair is THICK. And very textured. About half of the strands are super kinky and thick and basically if I want my hair to look good I have to spend time styling it, and I just don’t have that time to spare. My hair is also part-curly, part-wavy, part-totally-uncooperative. It takes forever to blow dry and to flat iron, but letting my hair air dry just doesn’t work. It gets too frizzy and the waves and curls are inconsistent and blerghyblerghblergh. And I’ve tried COUNTLESS anti-frizz, curly hair products over the years that are all okay but not really what I need. And then Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie CHANGED MY LIFE.
I can let my hair air dry! It’s a freaking miracle. I get out of the shower, wrap my hair in a towel for about 5 minutes, let my hair out of the towel and then just evenly spread smoothie on my hair. Then I go about my business and my hair looks awesome. Some days (depending on the humidity) I need to add a bit of water-based pomade to separate the curls a little, but it’s not every day and not a big deal. I LOVE THIS CURL SMOOTHIE IT’S THE BEST THING EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD THE END.
Thing #2 to Share: Support MDA by Living Unlimited!
Remember my little friend Lucy? She’s amazing. So is her mom, Cherisse. And her whole family for that matter. The Muscular Dystrophy Association asked if I could help support their #LiveUnlimited campaign this summer and I was ALL IN, ready to support anything even remotely related to Lucy and her family. MDA is a non-profit dedicated to fighting muscle diseases like MD and SMA (SMA is what Lucy has). To help celebrate #LiveUnlimited, MDA sent me the Live Unlimited bracelet made by Endorphin Warrior and let me gift a bracelet to someone else.
My friend Cherisse’s daughter Lucy has been fighting SMA for years and continues to beat the odds. The very fact she can talk is a miracle, and boy does she take advantage of that gift…with all kinds of funny (often saucy) words! When MDA asked me who I wanted to give a #LiveUnlimited bracelet to, Cherisse was the only name that came to mind. You guys, I can’t tell you how amazing she is and how she inspires me to savor each and every day. The talks we’ve had over the years have truly influenced my life and I will be forever grateful to have both Cherisse and Lucy in my life. I had to make a fist for my #LiveUnlimited photo as a tribute to Lucy and her ability to FIGHT! (If you want a peak into the Lunt’s daily life, check out this awesome video. Lucy is seriously the best.)
So how can you get involved? Go buy a bracelet! For every bracelet sold, $6 will go to MDA! You can also go to the Live Unlimited website and make a customized image to show how you are living unlimited this summer to help spread the word!
Thing #3 to Share: HAVE YOU WATCHED BLOODLINE?!?!?
Nate and I recently finished Season 2 of Bloodline on Netflix. Question #1: Have you watched Season 1? Question #2: Have you watched Season 2? If your answer is “No” to either of those questions, remedy the situation STAT. Seriously, the Season 2 finale…holy cow. That’s all I’ll say, but SERIOUSLY. WHOAH.
Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend!
Monday, June 6
Last November my friends Catherine Connors and Tracey Clark invited my daughters and I to go camping in Joshua Tree for Catherine and Tracey’s very first Project Girl Quest adventure. Catherine and Tracey told us to simply bring ourselves and they would take care of the rest. It ended up being an amazing weekend that completely inspired me to give camping another try. You see, Nate and I historically have not been great campers, and, to be honest, I always felt a little guilty that we weren’t giving our kids more camping experiences. After camping with Catherine, however, I was totally ready to give it another go. She’s an expert and I learned a lot from her that weekend. I’ve gathered all of that wisdom and created the ultimate car camping checklist, which I am sharing with you today!
After sending Catherine many texts and pretty much copying everything she and her husband Kyle did, our little family went camping in Joshua Tree for spring break and it was the best! Since it went so well, I feel it is my duty to share with you my checklist, as inspired by Catherine Connors.
Please note: this is all about car camping, friends. You know, your-car-is-10-feet-away-from-your-tent type camping, not backpacking-10-miles-into-the-wilderness-to-find-a-remote-place-to-rough-it camping. I don’t know that we’ll ever attempt that latter type of camping because the car camping is just so perfect with kids. Maybe one day, but not now with littles under foot.
The list is pretty self-explanatory and I imagine I may be the person who uses it the most in the future. If you click on the image of the list above you can download a PDF and use it yourself! I do want to expound on a few of the items that you see on the list, so here we go:
- FOOD. Here’s the deal, Nate and I were the worst when it came to food and camping. NO MORE! We bought a camping stove, which makes all the difference. And with some strategic food planning, we ate very well on our trip. For dinners I picked meals that could either be made ahead and frozen and then simply cooked in a pot (like chili or soup), or I chose items that keep well (like spaghetti, which doesn’t require refrigeration, and hot dogs, which are super easy). We had lots of good snacks, simple lunches, and planned on cooking breakfast (eggs and sausage) just one of the mornings, with oatmeal and cereal for the other mornings. Oh, and freezing a lot of the food ahead of time (including bread and muffins) was super helpful. The food keeps longer and helps keep the cooler, well, cool.
- Instant Canopy: An EZ-Up is critical since most campsites lack permanent shade (especially in the desert!). We kept it anchored over the main picnic table at our campsite.
- Multiple Tents: When we camped with Catherine she had one tent that was dedicated exclusively to supplies. When Nate and I went with our kids, we brought 2 tents and had the kids sleep separately from us, which left lots of space for luggage and supplies in both tents. It’s just so much easier to stay organized and find stuff with that extra space.
- Tent Heater: This isn’t always necessary, but depending on the time of year it may be. We recommend only turning it on as you are going to bed and when you first get up in the morning.
- Extra Tables: If you are staying at an established campsite, there will be at least one table, but it’s so nice to have more. I have two folding tables and we had them both set up.
- Binoculars: We purchased a pair of Celestron 15×70 binoculars, as recommended by Catherine, and they are SO FUN to have, especially at night! Not necessary but definitely a nice-to-have!
- Solar-Powered Twinkle Lights: Yes, these are cute and make your campsite pretty, but they are also very useful. I strung up a strand of these lights around the pop-up canopy over our table, so at night there was always a light source in our campsite. It wasn’t too bright but could help guide the way. I loved having these, plus they come in useful for other things, too (like decorations for my lip sync party here at home last weekend)! Just make sure the solar panel is exposed to the sun during the day.
- Power Bank Charger: I have an external battery charger that can charge things for hours and hours. I bought it for plane rides but it is awesome for camping, too.
- Outdoor mat or artificial turf: Some friends lent us a big piece of artificial turf and another friend lent us an outdoor mat (like for a patio). We placed these at the entrances of our tents and they were SO AWESOME TO HAVE.
- Coffee When Camping: If you are a coffee drinker, there are two suggestions for you. First, instant coffee packets (like Starbucks VIA) totally work. But the second suggestion is just as easy and makes much better coffee: take an Aeropress. Easy cleanup and perfect for camping.
Everything else on the list should be pretty easy to figure out, but let me know if you have questions! And, as always, feel free to share your own tips below in the comments! I am certain there are some awesome car campers reading this who have secrets to share!
Before we go, I have one final tip: Joshua Tree is the best place ever for camping with kids. (Indian Cove Campground and Jumbo Rocks are our favorite campgrounds.) Joshua Tree is truly magical. The granite boulders are incredibly grippy, making it easy to hike and climb. And, with an emergency whistle and walkie talkie in tow, the kids can explore this otherworldly place and feel like true adventurers. My favorite part is that the desert is so DRY, so nothing gets damp or wet! (I am such a mom.) I know this last tip isn’t helpful for everyone, but I just felt like I needed to sing the camping praises of Joshua Tree National Park. If you ever have the chance to camp there, take it!
All photos in this post were taken by my talented friend Nicole Watkins. Thank you for sharing them, Nicole!
Wednesday, March 9
Today I want to share a cool app with you that I am guessing just may come in handy! A few weeks ago, the company Totspot got in contact with my friend Marie from Make and Takes and me to see if we would try out their app and let you all know how we liked it. Marie and I both tried out Totspot and loved the app. I am excited to tell you about it today!
So, what is Totspot? Totspot is an app where you can buy and sell used clothes, shoes and accessories for babies, kids, women and men. You set up an account and then can buy clothes from others or sell some of your own. That gorgeous dress that your daughter literally wore one time? Sell it! Looking for an awesome vintage Star Wars t-shirt? Buy it!
Totspot has a website, but the app is where it’s at. Marie and I both highly recommend you use the service through the phone app. Once you create an account you can set up profiles for each person in your family with sizing information. Once profiles are created, you can search what is available on Totspot at any given time by profile. The app’s interface is clear and easy to use. I ended up buying a super cute Gap dress for myself and then a few fun things for my kids, some of which were brand new with tags still on them!
Once you make a purchase and it is shipped to you, you go into the app and either accept or decline the order as well as rank the seller. If you didn’t get what you were expecting, you don’t have to pay for it. This is how sellers are kept accountable and you can feel safe shopping through the app.
As far as selling clothes goes, you can sell them yourself, which is super easy to do with the app linking to your camera. You can also use the Totspot Concierge service, which is what I’m most excited about. Totspot sends you a bag with a shipping label. You bag up your stuff and send it off to one of their successful sellers, who takes care of selling the clothes and then you share the cut. Anything unsold is donated to charity. I just got my concierge bag in the mail this week and can’t wait to send some stuff off to be sold!
Totspot definitely has a strong sense of community and users are incredibly friendly and helpful. And both of my orders, which came from different sellers, arrived personalized and wrapped in cute paper. I was super impressed! Shipping is based on the size of the order, and as you are ordering, the app makes it easy to bundle from one seller to get a discount on your order. There are so many little details like this throughout the buying and selling process that make the app super cool and easy to use.
I know this post is sounding all salesy, but seriously, Totspot is great! Marie and I both love it and are happy to share it with you!
And we’d love to give you a chance to try out Totspot, too! Which means…GIVEAWAY TIME! One winner is going to receive $150 gift card to Totspot to get shopping! Follow the form below to enter. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
To join Totspot, you can create an account on their website or simply download the app on IOS or Android and set up your account through the app. When you join Totspot, be sure to use my referral code GHCOQG to get $5! And here is a cute video about how to sell on Totspot!
Today’s post and giveaway were sponsored by Totspot. They also provided me with $50 towards my first purchase.
Friday, February 26
Happy Friday! Today I have just a couple things to share for Show and Tell today.
First, here are some articles I wrote for Cool Mom Eats. (The fries are awesome, by the way.)
That’s it! Short and sweet! Have a great weekend and, as always, if you have something to share please leave it in the comments!
Tuesday, February 23
Hey everybody. So, uh, I was on NBC Nightly News tonight. No biggie. Lester Holt and I are like this.
Okay, not really. And it is just plain crazy and fun that I was on NBC Nightly News! My cousin just texted and was like, “I just saw you on NBC News! That’s crazy! It blew my mind!!”
I didn’t want to say anything until it aired, because you never know if things will air with network news, but it did and the story is great. Tom Costello reported on the “natural” food label and how it is a non-verified term, i.e. companies can say something is natural and there is no checklist to follow for what that word means. In response to the public, the FDA is considering making natural a verified term. If you want to let the FDA know what you think, the open comment period is happening right now until May 10, 2016. Click here to make a comment (I did!). Right now the word natural is most often misleading and manipulative and, quite honestly, doesn’t mean a darn thing. I don’t even care that much how the FDA ultimately defines the term (although I certainly have opinions on the subject), I just want them to define it so everyone is on the same page. ANYWAY…here’s the news report if you want to see me in my kitchen with my cute kiddos!
Saturday, February 13
Happy Weekend! I meant to write up this Show and Tell yesterday but…well…NBC Nightly News (!!!) came to our home to film the kids and me making dinner, while interviewing me about the “natural” food labels. It was awesome and a really fun experience, although now that it’s done, I think I’d rather not watch it. 😉 If it looks like the story will air, I will of course let you all know. All I know right now is it will probably air early next week. You never know in the news world!
So, here’s what I was going to share yesterday…
I was recently introduced to the company A Heirloom, a husband-and-wife team based in Brooklyn that makes beautiful cutting boards and other handmade items. I’m pretty much addicted to cutting boards, so this company is right up my alley. Among my favorite A Heirloom items are the state-shaped boards, cocktail muddlers, and cake stands. A Heirloom graciously sent me the thin based maple cake stand and it is, quite simply, lovely. My cake stand is 10 inches in diameter and about 5 1/2 inches tall. They also have larger 14-inch cake stands as well as mini 4-inch cake stands. If you’re looking for a great gift option or are addicted to cutting boards like me, be sure to check them out!
And I have a bunch of articles over at Cool Mom Eats you should check out, too!
- 6 kid-friendly, non-meat sources of protein and ideas for how to prepare them.
- 6 easy breakfast for dinner recipes that go way beyond pancakes.
- Skinny snack dips… so that you can eat more chips, of course.
- How to make tea eggs with kids for Chinese New Year. (You need to check these out…so pretty!)
That’s it for today. See you tomorrow with the weekly menu! And, as always, feel free to share whatever you like in the comments!
Wednesday, January 13
Today I wanted to share the easy ladybug cupcakes I made for Cate’s birthday. One of my “things” as a mom is making fun birthday cakes for my kids, but this year Anna simply wanted a cake made out of donuts and Cate wanted chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing. While I was a little disappointed to not be making more elaborate cakes, I will admit it was a nice break, especially one week before Christmas.
Then, the day of her birthday, Cate informed me that she wanted ladybug cupcakes. I was like, “Uh, what?” I was completely unprepared, but really wanted to come through for her. Luckily I had some red cupcake liners and a pack of candy eyes in the cabinet and was able to pull these off!
These ladybug cupcakes are seriously EASY.
- Cook the cupcakes in red or black cupcake papers.
- Make a batch of buttercream frosting. Color about 2/3 of it with red food coloring (you’ll need a lot of food color!). Color the rest of the buttercream with black food coloring.
- Frost the cupcakes with red buttercream using a butter knife, spreading the frosting on smoothly (doesn’t have to be perfect!).
- Place the black frosting in a piping bag with a small, round tip. Pipe on the outline of the wings, the polka dots, and a head, as shown in the diagram below.
- Finish off the ladybug with small candy eyes placed on the black icing piped on as the head, right at the edge of the cupcake.
I was able to knock these cupcakes out no problem, and the design is so simple even the non-artistic among us can pull it off.
Click here to get the recipes I used for the chocolate cake and buttercream frosting. (Feel free to use a cake mix, I’m not keeping track!)
Posted by Jane Maynard at 3:34 pm 1 Comment
Categories: birthday cakes, kids, Kitchen Tips, sweet things Tags: birthday cake, birthday cake decorating, cupcake decorating, cupcakes, kids birthday cakes |
Wednesday, December 23
December is my stress month. I try not to make it that way, but every year, without fail, December catches up to me. Our family celebrates Christmas and I love this season dearly, but so help me December is a bear. A polar bear, of course. Actually, a pack of polar bears (is that even what you call a group of bears?) that wants to take me out, as slowly and painfully as possible.
Okay, I’m exaggerating. (Kind of.)
This year, in the midst of all the craziness, a badass woman I know passed away. Her name was Liz Laats. Liz was one of those people who made everyone she met feel like a close friend. Liz was one of those people who lived life with gusto. Liz was one of those people who was eloquent all of the time. Liz was one of those people who appreciated good cheese (she taught me how to taste cheese properly) and a good margarita (now known fondly as the Lizzie-rita). Liz was one of those people who was forced to battle cancer. Liz fought the beast that is ovarian cancer for 6 1/2 years with a humility and grace that was equally inspiring and heartbreaking.
Liz passed away nearly two weeks ago, leaving behind an incredible husband and three children, as well as an entire universe of people with richer lives because Liz was a part of them.
As I’ve worked my way through this month, balancing career with family with the holidays and everything else, Liz has been constantly on my mind. Over the last 6 1/2 years, Liz kept friends and family updated on her “cancer stuff” with email updates that were equal parts funny, heartwarming, sad and beautiful. I’ve been re-reading her messages this month, trying to keep them on my mind and in my heart at all times. There are recurring themes in Liz’s updates that are each enlightening, but there is an overarching sense of gratitude and a need to embrace life that is palpable in all her words, no matter what the latest news was. Liz’s friend Petrea Marchand shared the following email exchange she had with Liz that I think sums Liz up beautifully:
Petrea: Finally, I leave you with an unanswerable philosophical question. Why is life – such a gift, such a pleasure – so damn hard?
Liz: I have no idea why life is hard, my friend, but I do know life is precious and short. We can live the full catastrophe with open arms and soft heart, or we can try to try to fight it. I recommend living the full catastrophe. To be clear, the full catastrophe is the full life – with family, husband, kids, jobs — all the things that we seek but then make us crazy. This is the life we wanted – rich with good people, bound by love to each other. Rise up to it, my friend. Grab it. Hug it! Work at it. Just don’t forget to breathe as you go through it.
Let’s live the full catastrophe, shall we? For Liz. For our loved ones. For ourselves.
Friday, December 18
Happy Friday, everyone! I have a few quick gift ideas for you today and some food links (one of which I am especially proud of!)
For Cool Mom Eats this week I made 10 different flavors of cookies from ONE sugar cookie dough. It was nothing short of miraculous and it was surprisingly easy. Also, slice-and-bake cookies are my new favorite thing. Be sure to check out the article!
Here are a few fun gift ideas (just 1 week until Christmas!):
- I am loving these hand drawn prints from Chelsea Harp. There are holiday-themed prints as well as general quotes. SO CUTE.
- If you are looking for some really fun and unique clothes for girls, check out Zaza Couture. The Chagall line…oh man, SO CUTE. (Apparently I can’t stop saying “SO CUTE” today.)
- The Le Creuset Butter Crock is my go-to kitchen gift. I know I keep telling you about it, but it is seriously the best!
- Heifer International is always a great gifting option and one that does a world of good. As most of you probably know, I met many Heifer farmers in Malawi this year and the work that Heifer is doing is AMAZING. So, I have to plug them whenever I can, and the holidays is one of the best times for that plugging! Click here for their gift catalog.
That’s all for today! As usual, please share your own stuff in the comments if you like, including gift ideas!