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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

8 Crafts and Recipes to Make for Groundhog Day!

Groundhog Day is a fun way to break up the monotony of winter while offering a healthy dose of optimism! These craft and snack ideas are the perfect way to add a little something special to the day, for the delight of the kids!

These ideas are cute and easy and I know you are going to love them! I can't wait to hear which one is your favorite! I can't go wrong with any of the pudding ideas as my kids are serious pudding fans! HA!



Groundhog Pudding Cups

Groundhog Pancakes

Groundhog Parfait

Quick and Easy Groundhog Pudding Cups

Groundhog Cup Craft

Groundhog Face Craft

Shadow Puppet Play 

Aren't these adorable and easy ideas!? I think we are kind of obligated to make the groundhog face craft because it is crazy cute!
Monday, January 30, 2017

Saving Cash with Groupon Coupons

This conversation has been sponsored but all opinions and chit chat are my own.

My husband and I like to laugh about the days when we thought we were broke, the pre-kid days. I used to shrug my shoulders at coupons with a who has time for that? attitude. I know I thought I didn't.

Fast forward to the present. My husband is a public servant. The rewards of his career are not monetary but in spirit. I am a stationed at home mom of 2 little ones.  My stance on coupons has changed; I now think who doesn't need to save some cash? I make it my mission to save on a daily basis. From smart shopping to clipping coupons and ordering online to score free shipping are a few of my go to tricks to stretch the dollar even further.



Groupon is one of my favorite places to browse because you can score incredible deals with discounts that make a huge difference in our budget and quality of life. From spa services to restaurant deals, and even chances to save at shops like Verizon Wireless, Groupon helps my family save money and live a better quality of life.

Do you use groupon? I would love to hear how it helps you save some of your hard-earned cash!

10 Heart Crafts for Mom

Valentine's Day is near and I have been crafting up a ton of fun on facebook live for the kids. To keep the fun going for me, I found 10 adorable and awesome heart crafts for myself and I know you Mama's are going to love these cute ideas too!













Which of these ideas is your favorite? I think they are all fantastic!

8 Scrumptious Red Velvet Recipes

Red Velvet is one of my favorite flavors. From Red Velvet Cappuccinos to those yummy little Russel Stover Candies that beg to be devoured and of course, we can't forget the cakes! This year I want to make something incredibly sweet to share with my friends and family and naturally, I am leaning towards Red Velvet!

I have 8 awesome sweets to share from some of my favorite blogs, and a one of my own to add into the mix for your easy reference!



Red Velvet Squares with Cream Cheese Filling

Red Velvet Strawberry Parfaits

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Ice Cream

Red Velvet Cookie Bars

Red Velvet Fudge

Red Velvet Oreo Cupcakes

Easy Red Velvet Cookies





One of my favorite Red Velvet Recipes is Blueberry Red Velvet Whoopie Pies. Oh my gosh, these are so good! What is your favorite way to enjoy the flavors of Red Velvet desserts?


Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Topiary Park of Columbus

Columbus Ohio is one of our go-to places for family fun. The city has so much to offer to families. From the Columbus Museum of Art to the awesome playgrounds for kids, there is always something to do in Columbus!



A few weeks ago we attended Brick Universe, to the delight of my Lego loving kids. After we had taken the time to play with all kinds of legos and browse the vendors, we decided to take in the Topiary Park of Columbus on Town Street. This is such a lovely little spot in the city. If you have never been, you are really missing out on something amazing.



Giving my kids exposure to art is important to me. Both kids love to sculpt with playdough and they both love to draw. Encouraging their love of the arts keeps them interested in creating! A little-known fact is that as a child, I wanted to be a fashion designer. I often wonder what might have been if only someone told me to keep sketching or had taken me to a fashion week kind of thing...



So, as we arrived at the Park, and found ample parking opportunities, we entered an almost empty park. An elderly man sat reading on a bench. At the other end of the park, a father-son duo conversed quietly. It was nice to be able to allow the kids a little freedom to stretch their legs and observe this living art in their own ways.


The park is one of a kind. It is a gorgeous, green and lush atmosphere with breathtaking flowers, a pristine pond, and these amazing topiaries. It is an interpretation of the painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte by Georges Seurat.


The experience is delightful. It offers one the chance to walk amongst the art, a rare occasion in this digital day we live in. The stroll was nothing short of magical for my kids. They have been several times and they never tire of a trip to The Topiary Park of Columbus.

I loved how serene the park was, despite the location in the city. If I were frequently in the downtown area, I could see myself slipping away to the Topiary Park for coffee and contemplation or a dreamy place to pass time with a good book in hand.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Paper Plate Lion Craft

This easy paper plate lion craft requires basic supplies and makes for a roaring good craft for the little ones!



I am an advocate for crafting with kids! I think that with simple supplies you can open up an entire world for the kids. This easy paper plate lion craft is a perfect activity for preschoolers and kindergarteners. It utilizes fine motor skills and it gives kids a chance to explore their own wild side as they give their paper plate lion a personality!



To make this easy craft we used:
Kwik Stik
Uncooked Rotini Noodles
A clean paper plate
school glue
2 googly eyes

Begin by painting the rim of the plate orange
Paint the center of the plate yellow
glue rotini noodles on the rim of the plate to make the mane
Add eyes
Draw on a face with your Kwik Stik






We love to make easy crafts! With 2 kids under the age of 6, I grab every opportunity I can to get crafty with them! Some of you might be familiar with my crafting show on facebook live, where we make a lot of adorable and easy crafts, if not, I hope you will join me on the Quirky Momma facebook page on Monday or Friday nights at 8:30 pm, or Wednesdays at 9 am eastern or 7:30 pm.




Close That Wallet! How To Make 2017 Your Thriftiest Year Ever

Your Look


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Get vintage inspired. Vintage clothes have never been hotter than they are right now so it’s time to check out your local vintage and thrift stores for great well-priced finds. A lot of nineties fashion is in right now but it can be hard to figure out what’s chic and what’s so 1999 and reminiscent of frosted eyeshadow and chunky highlights. If in doubt, think about Rachel’s wardrobe in Friends. If she’d have worn it, then go forth and purchase it! If you don’t feel like going out to trawl through countless rails in thrift stores then consider looking on eBay for any bargains. If you don’t like the idea of wearing second hand clothes then search for ‘unworn with tags’ to find items that are brand new.
Look for dupes. Luckily, with cosmetics you don’t always have to go high end for good value and quality. The most important products to spend a little money on are foundation and whatever brushes or sponges you use to apply your makeup, along with primer if you like to use that to keep your makeup in place all day. Otherwise, look online for brands that are good dupes of high end brands like Benefit, Anastasia Beverly Hills and Too Faced. Check out YouTube videos to find out what makeup gurus have discovered.
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Quit the gym. Remember that you don’t have to pay for an expensive gym membership to keep yourself fit. On the contrary, you can do it easily yourself from day to day. It’s important to make a couple of investments – good running shoes and a great sports bra that fits you perfectly are the two most important ones. If you’re planning to go running then you need to be careful of your knees and back to preserve your joints, and good support is the best way to do that. If you aren’t quite at the running stage, then try a brisk walk around the block every evening. Not only will it keep you fit but it’ll also help you sleep well at night.
Your Lifestyle
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Get meal planning. If you don’t plan your meals already then now is an excellent time to start. If you don’t know what you’re buying before you get into the grocery store then chances are you’ll end up buying way more than you intended to – and you might splash out more on junk food than you’d intended. If you already have a list and you know exactly what you’re going to buy then it’ll help you cut back on your purchases – and it’ll also stop you snacking in between meals on unhealthy food.
Look for deals. If you aren’t already online, then what are you waiting for? Sign up to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter where you’ll find a lot of deals for your local grocery stores and for online brands. The most important thing to remember with deals is that you don’t buy anything that you wouldn’t have bought anyway – even if a certain shampoo has a lot of money off, if you don’t use it then there’s no point in buying it! Remember to bide your time – deals come and go and change so if your favourite products aren’t on sale at the moment then they might be in a few weeks. You could also check out sites like DontPayFull.com for more bargains. Another way to save money is to buy things like toiletries and pet food and any non perishable food in bulk. Just make sure that you have enough storage at home to keep it all tidy and safe!
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Cut down on cigarettes and alcohol. Even if you enjoy smoking and the occasional big night out, we all know that too many cigarettes and glasses of wine are bad for your health – they ruin your skin and body and they also aren’t particularly good for your bank account. Of course the occasional tipple in the evening with dinner won’t hurt but if you find that you’re using alcohol to get to sleep or that you spend a good portion of each day looking forward to having a drink in the evenings, you might be overly reliant on it. Get your friends and family to support you as you quit smoking and drinking – and put all the money you’re saving in a jar so you can impress yourself with it at the end of the month.
Your Social Life


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Have a picnic. If you’re looking for something to do with your kids that won’t cost you any more money than usual then why not have an indoor picnic? Of course when the summer comes you can move it outside but for the time being, put down a rug on your living room floor, get out juice boxes and let your kids enjoy doing something fun and novel for the day by eating their lunch as if it’s a picnic.
Create a movie theatre at home. We all need our date nights to add a little vigour to our relationships but it’s sometimes hard to justify spending money on them. Why not bring your date night home instead of going out for a fancy dinner? Make dinner together and then make some popcorn before watching a movie together on the couch. You could even create a cozy pillow fort with your favourite cushions and blankets so you can snuggle up together in warmth and comfort. Remember that the most important factor of date night is the togetherness you get from it.
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Go for lunch instead of dinner. If you’re going out with your friends, go for lunch and not dinner. In the long run it will be more inexpensive – if you go for dinner you’re more likely to drink, which will add a lot to the bill, and you also may have to get a taxi home, which again can get pretty expensive. Lunch will often mean that you’re eating and drinking less, but it doesn’t mean that you have to spend less time lingering and chatting over dessert!

Novice In The Kitchen? Earn Your Stripes With These Top Tips



When you start to cook, it can be an exciting, if not daunting, experience. Not only are you learning new things, and a skill that can last you a lifetime, but you’re creating something from scratch too. If you’re new to cooking and you want to be able to pick up some quick tips to up your cooking game, you’ve come to the right place. You may not be a gourmet chef right now, but there’s no reason you can’t be - it’s only a matter of time.


Being new to the kitchen can often be a good thing. You have a willingness to learn and to try new things, and you’ve also got more patience than someone who has tried and failed a few times before. But don’t let that dishearten you. As long as you’re got the passion to experiment and the will to see things through, you’ll be able to up your cooking game in next to no time at all.


Start Slow


Firstly, you’re going to want to make sure that you start of slowing. As exciting as learning to cook can be, if you rush into it, you might fall out of love with it as soon as you hit your first hurdle. Because there will be hurdles. Regardless of passionate you are, you will find parts of the cooking process challenging and frustrating. But, if you take your time getting there, enjoy the journey, and take everything in, it will all be worth it.


Regardless of the reasons why you want to cook, going at your own pace really does matter. Say you’re trying to encourage your children to bit fit and healthy, and you want your cooking to facilitate your goal, or you’ve just got your first real job, and your own home, and now you want to stand on your own two feet when it comes to the kitchen too, taking your time will get you to where you want to be.


Learn The Basics


Before you jump in at the deep end and take on a cooking challenge that you’re really not ready for, you’re going to want to learn the basics. You might be able to make a sandwich safely, but do you know how to fry an egg? It’s a simple task, but if you can master the basics of cooking, you’ll stand a better chance of shining when it comes to the more complicated tasks.


So, to get you started, try your hand of some of the basic cooking techniques around. Once you’ve nailed frying an egg (try boiling, poaching and scrambling too while you’re at it), then you might want to see how you get on when it comes to roasting a chicken or making a roux. All three tasks are common in cooking, so it will help to learn them now.


Have Fun


As you get started, you might realise how serious cooking can be. But that doesn’t mean you have to take it all seriously. In fact, you really should have fun. Cooking can be exactly what you make it. If you want it to be tough and boring, then it will be. But, if you want it to be exciting and alluring, it can be too.


The trick it to put in exactly what you want to get out. As you’re trying new things and finding your feet, you might even want put your own spin on things. Sometimes, it could be as simple as adding a new flavour that you’re sure will work, or it could be using a new method of presentation, just for fun.


Understand Flavors


One of the biggest lessons you could ever learn when it comes to cooking will involve flavors. Sometimes, chefs will be a natural - and it can often be the reason that they became a chef in the first place. But, flavor pairings can also be learned. If you’ve never really worked with flavor before, it might help you to start experimenting now. It will certainly benefit your cooking and any recipes you look to create.


Understanding, and being able to balance, flavor will serve you well in the kitchen. Not only will it allow you to be creative with what you’re cooking, it could save you a lot of time and energy when it comes to getting things wrong. Because when you master flavor combinations, you’ll rarely fail at all.


Stop Contamination


As much as cooking is about the food you make, it’s also about the process. Any professional chef will always tell you the importance of keeping a clean and tidy kitchen. If you’re serious about your cooking, you should be able to prepare your food in an efficient manner, and ensure your kitchen is free from contamination at all times. If you’re not sure on what counts as cross contamination, then reading listeria information should help.


Cleanliness is so important when you cook, not only to keep the space clean and clear and avoid bacterial issues, but to also ensure that your creations turn out how you want them too. When you have that in mind, you should never struggle with health and hygiene issues. More specifically, if you clean up as you cook, and work in a kitchen that focuses on efficiency and organization, you should never have any problems at all.


Learn The Techniques


As your skills grow and you feel a lot more comfortable with cooking, you might also want to think about increasing your talents. Many good chefs have incredible skills when it comes to using a knife. You may find that improving your knife skills, also improves your standard of cooking - and makes it more efficient overall. You may need to practice the different skills often to master them, but they’re definitely not impossible to achieve.


To start working on your knife skills, you could take a class. Or, you could simply head over to YouTube and watch a video instead. Sometimes, watching others is a better way to learn. That way, you can see how the professionals do it and then imitate the movements they’re doing. It is important that you focus on safety while you’re learning, however. Using a knife takes work and a lot of knowledge, so you need to make sure that you’re safe while you practice, to avoid any accidents.


Don’t Be Afraid


The more you cook, the more you will find a style that you like. But, just because you’ve found a cooking style, technique, or cuisine that you like, it doesn’t mean you should stick to it. Cooking often involves a lot of experimentation. Staying within your comfort zone may mean that you become a very predictable chef - and your skill set may not increase. So, it can help to move on to trying new things whenever you start to master something.


As you work with new cuisines, you can also work with a lot of new flavors - which should be fun if you’ve started to master how flavors work. You might want to find new recipes for inspiration or think of different and exciting ways that you can add your own spin to old favorites. Either way, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.


Try New Cuisines


And while we’re on the topic of new cuisines, let’s take a look at the options you have. Say you’re from the south and you like to cook wholesome food, why not try and take on something Italian instead? You might think of pasta or pizza, but actually, when you delve a little deeper into the idea of cooking, and where recipes come from, you can find traditional dishes that you never knew existed.


It can be the same with all types of different cuisines. If you like to cook Chinese food, why not venture out into other forms of Asian cooking? Sometimes, all it takes is a bit of research, and you can find inspiration like never before. When it comes to your cooking, world influences can help. As you learn to cook different types of food, you can take inspirations from all corners of the world to make some of your favorite recipes a little more exciting.


Play With Pastry


When you fall in love with cooking, you can often fall in love with one set type. Whether you like to cook fish, or roast meats, make pasta dishes, or come up with new takes on a traditional, simple salad, you can often become set in your ways, very quickly. Instead, you should learn to branch out.


In professional kitchens, chefs are often given a rotation on every area of the kitchen - whether they want to or not. If you’re going to become a master chef in your own kitchen, you should try your hand at every kind of cooking imaginable - and yes, that does involve dessert. Pastry chefs can often be the most exciting of all. You might find that you take some inspiration from the puddings you made for other types of cooking. Or, it could just be the chef style that you find you love the most.

Travel and Rental Tips for a Memorable Vacation


Travel and Rental Tips for a Memorable Vacation
When you are ready to take a break from your hectic schedule and enjoy a well-deserved holiday, it is important to plan and be prepared for your trip. Proper planning is an integral part of traveling. With a few tips in mind, you will soon be on your way to the destination of your dreams.
Planning for a Vacation
Deciding where you will go for vacation as well as when is an important step in the planning process. You need to determine your budget for the entire trip. Knowing the amount of money that you can afford to spend will influence factors such as your destination, transportation, and accommodation. Ensure that you have all that you need to cover your travel expenses.
Search for different locations that you would like to visit by using various travel sites and online travel guides.
If you work, verify how much time you to set aside for your trip. Make sure that your plans fit in with the rest of your schedule. The amount of travel time you have will also determine whether or not you can travel far away from home or to stick to locations that are within close proximity.
Choose the best time to go in terms of factors such as tourist attractions, weather, prices and good deals. Make a decision regarding the type of trip you want, whether you prefer an adventurous holiday filled with a variety of exciting activities or a relaxing vacation by the beach. Learn more about Turner Falls Park here.
Find a Vacation Rental
Many people are making the choice to stay in rentals that offer them the comfort and convenience of being at home while away. The ongoing popularity of vacation rentals is attributed to their safety and cost-effectiveness.
After deciding where you will go, you can visit rental sites online to find out the rental options that are available within your location of choice. It is important to be clear about the kind of accommodation you need. Many sites enable you to select what you want ranging from ranch style homes to cabin rentals.
Get in touch with the facility or owners after gathering a list of prospective vacation rentals that are suitable for your needs. This will give you the chance to obtain the detailed information that you require about the rental, area, and amenities. People typically secure the rental they want by reserving it and making a deposit according to the stipulated amount.
Conclusion
Finding a luxurious rental for you and your loved ones is easy with online resources. You can look forward to a memorable experience with the option of rentals that are located at scenic sites. Consider trying out cabin rentals that give you an unbeatable view of the mountains and river.
Everyone deserves a getaway from time to time and the accommodation that you choose is a crucial component of your holiday plans. Learn what you can about the area around your potential rental to find out information such as the location, how close the river is and where you can go shopping. Knowing these types of things before your visit will have a positive effect on your travel plans and vacation.

Bio
Carl Tom is a freelance editor and writer. He has previously worked as journalist with local medial organizations. He enjoys traveling and cooking for his family. He describes himself as an outgoing and friendly person. Visit the site for more information about Turner Falls Park.

Pass The Parcel: Would You Let A Stranger Choose Your Kids Clothes?

It seems that these days stressed, harried and hard working parents are busier than ever. Many fail to get on home on time to read to their children, enjoy family dinners or even put them to bed. Lots of families struggle to find a balance between work and home but children grow at a rapid rate and still need new clothes. If you're too busy to go to the mall, need to shop for a special event or trust a kidswear expert’s opinion then a children’s clothing subscription service could be the answer!

Flickr Image At: Jeff Kramer
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Personal Preference


Don't worry a company employee isn't about to randomly guess your child's size, height or shoe size. Most kids clothes box companies offer clients a questionnaire or survey that you fill in indicating what you're looking for, a brief physical description of your child and their favourite colours and fabrics. For example, if you had a little girl who needed a unique party dress you'd  then write on the form her age, clothes and shoe size as well as when the event is taking place and any other items for them to note.


For example, it could be that she loves rabbits and hates the color pink because, in fact, some girls do. Based on your, and her choices ,as it's strongly suggested kids are consulted, a carefully packed box full of individually wrapped, labelled quality garments is sent out. Each box costs around $350 and’s sent recorded delivery so there's no chance of it getting lost in the mail.


A Present For Me!


Customers who already use this new, unique and highly intriguing method of shopping online have already spoken about the benefits. Firstly, there's the convenience factor where you don't have to drag your kids around the store, looking for something that isn't in their size and increasingly getting frustrated with the lack of choice. Parents have also explicitly stated that they enjoy being able to try clothes from different designers, having a selection of overseas brands and helping their kids to understand how to look after designer clothes.


While the initial outlay for a box may seem expensive but families spend around $60 per month on kids clothing. Shopping online can give you discounts as well as access to upscale children's boutiques where you can purchase a cute mustard pie dress. Another positive is the look on your kids faces when they open them! All boxes are wrapped in kid-friendly packaging, featuring a range of animal print, cartoon and nature motifs and have coloured tissue paper for each item. You also get a breakdown of what's inside as well as a free returns service for items not wanted.


Tiny Trendsetters

Kids fashion is now bigger than it's ever been before!  So there's often lots of discussions amongst moms in the playground on where to find cheap, but not too cheap outfits that take kids from the classroom, or a friends house right to church. A subscription box also include items from European designers like Desigual, who have years of experience with kids fashion as well as featuring new American designers that care passionately about children's welfare.
Friday, January 20, 2017

Plan An Awesome Baby Shower In 4 Simple Steps



If your best friend is expecting a baby, you will both be very excited! But there is a lot of work that might be overshadowing this excitement. And not just in your friend’s life! Sure, she will be very busy getting ready for the birth of her new baby, but you will also have one very important job to take care of as well. And that is the baby shower! Traditionally, the expecting mom doesn’t lift a finger when it comes to planning a baby shower. Her best friend needs to do it for her! To make sure yours goes without a hitch, here are some simple steps that can help you through the whole process.


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Book A Venue


First of all, you need to think about where you want to host your party. If you don’t have a huge budget, you can simply hold the whole thing in your place. But if you have a bit of money to spend, then you might like to book a venue for the shower. You can always call a restaurant or bar that has a function room to find out their prices. Lots of women are now holding baby showers in restaurants or cafes. For instance, you could book a table in your favorite cafe for afternoon tea one day. This is a very sophisticated way of celebrating the coming birth!


Send Out Invites


Once you know where you will be holding the party, it is time to compile a guest list and then send out invites. When you are thinking of a guest list, you will need to think whether the baby shower should be women-only, or if you will invite people’s boyfriends and husbands as well. Traditionally, a baby shower is women only, but more people are now inviting partners as well.


Buy Gifts


The next thing is to think about the gifts for the new mother. As the baby shower organizer, you can suggest that all the guests chip in so that you have one large sum of money to spend on a large or expensive item. But you can always leave everyone to buy their own gifts, of course! If you are struggling for ideas, you can browse Uncommon Goods' baby shower gift selection.


Prepare Food


Finally, it is time to think about the food you will serve at the baby shower. If you book a venue, you should enquire as to whether food and catering are included in the price. More often than not, it will be. If you are hosting the baby shower in your own home, you will have to prepare this yourself. One great idea is to organize a potluck dinner. Simply ask all the guests to bring a dish that they prepared themselves. This will give you a great spread of food that everyone played a part in!

As you can see, planning a baby shower for your friend isn’t going to be too difficult! You just need to make sure you plan it well in advance!