Oct 072020
 October 7, 2020  Earth Day, household, parenting Comments Off on Composting: Tips to Get Started

Like so many of you, our family is thinking more and more about the impact we make on our planet. While there are many great resources to teach children about conservation, nothing beats hands on experience! I’ve always wanted to compost, so this year we finally did the research and got started! Here is a look at what you need, plus tips from other composting families!

Composting: Tips to Get Started | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Composting: Tips to Get Started

What to Buy

If you have a big enough space in your backyard, there is no need to purchase a bin; however, if you have a smaller yard, as we do, or simply don’t want to use your yard space for a compost pile, there are great options for composting bins you can purchase!

After a lot of research, we purchased a FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Tumbling Composter. It is perfect for us because it doesn’t take up much room and is super easy to use. The kids love helping turn the bin!

The guide put out by our city recommends the Compost Bin by GEOBIN. It is easy to set up and very economical.

An easy way to collect your kitchen scraps before taking them out to compost is an indoor bin like the Utopia Kitchen Stainless Steel Compost Bin for Kitchen Countertop. It is small enough to sit on the kitchen counter and comes with a lid and charcoal filter so you don’t have to worry about a smell! Just to be clear, this isn’t actually for composting, just to collect the scraps until you can take them outdoors.

Tips for Composting

From Rurally Prepping: A Beginner’s Guide on How to Compost

From Mama Smiles: Urban Composting

From Crafty Moms Share: How to Set Up a Worm Composting Garden

From NurtureStore: How to Make a Wormery

What are your top tips for getting started with composting?


Conservation Science Experiment: Interconnected Waterways

Conservation for Kids: Endangered Animals

Earth Day Books for Kids

Apr 052018
 April 5, 2018  family, household, music, spiritual education Comments Off on Creating a Peaceful Home: 5 Tips for Families

One of my goals is to create a calm, loving environment for my children to grow up in. In the daily struggle to complete chores and schoolwork, this can sometimes get lost, but I try to keep this goal in front of me to remind me to focus on the bigger picture, rather than what has just gotten spilled or broken or who pushed whom. Here are 5 tips that have worked for me to create a peaceful home. Share yours in the comments!

Creating a Peaceful Home: 5 Tips for Families | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the albums below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commissions at no extra charge to you.

Creating a Peaceful Home: 5 Tips for Families

1. Focus on Yourself

There is no way you can create a peaceful home if you do not have peace within yourself. Find out what helps you keep balance: whether it’s getting up a few minutes earlier than your kids or staying up a little later in the evening to have some time for yourself, practicing meditation or yoga, or making sure to have a coffee date with your best friend once a week. When you have a calm center, you can more easily keep your cool when things go wrong during the day, as they inevitably will.

2. Focus on the Big Picture

Know that things will go wrong, especially if you have young children. I once saw a program for new parents that stated, “If you want to be efficient, don’t have kids.” In other words, children help you focus on the journey rather than on accomplishing tasks quickly and efficiently. This was a big mind-shift for me coming from the workplace, where the emphasis was on achieving concrete goals.

With children you have to look at the big picture – for example, it may take you longer to teach your child to clean up his own mess, but you are helping to raise a responsible adult. If you stop and look at the dandelions and ladybugs with your toddler, chances are you won’t get all of your errands done before dinner, but you are making a heart connection with your child and nurturing her budding interest in the natural world. Often our frustration comes from the clash between reality and our expectations, so if you often find yourself frustrated, it may be time to look at your expectations.

3. Stay Organized – to a Point

While we do have to be realistic about how much we can get done and how well, we can also look at systemic problems that can be corrected to help our day flow more smoothly. If you are constantly rushing to get out the door in the morning, step back and think about how you might organize your household to alleviate this constant stress. Perhaps your children can take on more of the responsibility to make their own lunches, for example, or to pick out their clothes the night before. I have a snack box always stocked that I can just grab as we head out the door rather than having to put something together each time we leave the house.

Again, keep your expectations realistic, and know that you may still be late – the baby always seems to know to poop just as you are ready to get in the car – but at least you can eliminate some of your stress to have a more peaceful morning as you get ready.

4. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation with Your Children

Whatever your religious beliefs, all children benefit from some sort of mindfulness or meditation practice. Whether it’s prayer, yoga, or simply breathing exercises, it is such a gift for children to learn to slow down and clear their minds. In today’s often frenetic world, we can help give them a calm center to return to, to relieve anxiety or simply help them unwind at the end of an exciting day. A mindfulness practice is a wonderful tool in teaching kids to handle big emotions or to deal with difficult subjects like bullying or the loss of a loved one.

In our family, we do some deep breathing exercises and say prayers together in the morning as well as at bedtime. At least once a week we also do yoga together before starting schoolwork. I keep it short as my children are still very young, though I try to push their attention spans a bit to challenge them to work on their lengthening their focus.

5. Create a Relaxing Atmosphere

An easy way to nurture a peaceful home is to play relaxing music. Music is such a great way to set the mood, and I know for myself that it can really help calm my nerves. Which is why I was so happy to receive two incredible new children’s albums that really do create a warm, relaxing atmosphere.

The first is The Land of Yangalele. Yangalele means “happiness” in Kikongo, a language spoken in Congo, the home of one half of the dynamic duo behind this wonderful music collection for children. “Papa Siama” and “Auntie Dallas” wanted to capture the feeling of a family gathering like those from Siama’s childhood, where everyone would sit outside under the stars to share songs and stories together.

And this warm, easygoing atmosphere is exactly what their music creates. As soon as I hit play the very first time we listened to this album, I could feel an instant change in the air. Suddenly I was more relaxed, and the kids were, too. The rhythms are so gentle and fun, and you feel as though you were gathered at the musicians’ feet, creating and enjoying music together. We often find ourselves singing the tunes throughout the day – my personal favorite is Monkey Games! – and it’s impossible to do so without a smile on your face.

Featuring traditional instruments (listen for the mbira on most songs and the shaker on the beautiful lullaby Nalingi Bosembo) and lyrics in English, Swahili, Lingala and Kikongo, these songs are also an opportunity to learn more about the Congo and make a heart connection with what can seem like a very remote place. The liner notes even include a map, a quiz, and a seek-and-find game. Highly recommended.

Who doesn’t love Ladysmith Black Mambazo? I grew up listening to Graceland and so was thrilled to find out that this world-renowned music group has recently put out a children’s album, Songs of Peace & Love for Kids & Parents Around the World, which was nominated for a Grammy last year. Just as you’d expect, the music is incredible, and I love the focus on themes important to children, such as the trouble of communicating with parents (Everything’s So Stupid!). They also sing about important social issues, like racism, homelessness, and respecting women. My personal favorite is Old MacDonald – sung in Zulu! Great to put on when you want to relax and enjoy beautiful music together.

Mar 172017
 March 17, 2017  Education, food, household 5 Responses »

The days are so long, but the years are so short: Doesn’t it seem like you look up one day and realize how much time has gone by? And you wonder, did I waste it all on things that at the end of the day weren’t so important, like the laundry, the dishes, etc.? One way to make sure the world isn’t passing you by is to connect with the rhythms of the seasons. Seasonal living can help you feel more grounded and connected to the world around you, which is an important lesson to teach our children as well. Because children that are connected to the natural world will feel compelled to protect and nurture it as adults.

5 Tips for Seasonal Living with Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commissions at no extra cost to you.

5 Tips for Seasonal Living

1. Connect with Nature

This is an obvious tip but one that we often skip as we rush through our days. So many times I’m focused on the chores I need to complete that I don’t look up to appreciate the changing colors of the trees or the way the light hits the clouds just so at sundown. Luckily my children have not lost this sense of wonder at nature and frequently remind me to slow down and look at all the little crawling bugs and funny shaped clouds. When you are connected with nature, you are more in tune with the subtle changes as one season turns into another. It can be as simple as taking a walk around the block or spending an afternoon at the park. Pick some wildflowers and display them in a pretty vase so you can bring the outdoors back home with you as a reminder of what matters.

2. Study the Natural World

Seasonal living means not just playing in nature but really learning from it. Our home school adviser got us started on nature journals – they are such a great way for kids (and adults!) to really pay attention to what they see around them. By training ourselves to really see what is in front of us, we notice details we normally miss and appreciate the long-term changes we may miss in our day to day observations. Pick a favorite tree or spot in your yard or local park, and have your child draw it every few weeks. It is so fun to look back and see how much it changes over time! You could also track how the constellations move across the sky with the seasons or how animals’ coats transform with the changing weather. Anything to get them to attend to the rhythms of the seasons – follow their interests and build on them!

Related Post: Spring Sensory Outdoor Play

5 Tips for Seasonal Living with Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

3. Support Your Local Farmer’s Market

There are few better places to discover seasonal living than the local farmer’s market. Most supermarkets import so much of their food that it can be hard to tell what’s really in season in your own part of the world. Farmer’s markets (and CSAs) are wonderful ways to explore local crops when they are at their peak. Make it into an adventure with your kids to see what is available at the farmer’s market that week. It could be a family challenge to try something new that has just arrived – a great way to introduce spontaneity into your weekly menu planning! Get ideas from the farmers themselves: Ask them about their favorite way to prepare the produce they are selling!

4. Plant a Garden

Planting a garden is another key factor to seasonal living. Besides teaching children the rewards of patience and hard work, a garden demonstrates in a very hands on way how the natural world has its own rhythms, as plants sprout then blossom and give fruit. Tuning into that gentle pace can be calming for children and adults alike, as we align our own expectations to this slower rhythm. If you don’t have outdoor space for a garden, you can create planters on your balcony or even grow herbs or small plants indoors. Many areas also have community gardens, where you can rent a plot for a small fee. This is a great way to meet like-minded neighbors as you tend your plants!

Related Post: Gift Guide for Crunchy Mamas

5. Cook with Seasonal Ingredients

And of course, with all that great produce from the farmer’s market and your own garden, you will bring seasonal living into your kitchen as you stretch yourself to prepare foods in new ways that highlight the flavors of the season. Living in harmony with natural rhythms helps keep you from getting into a rut, plus it ensures that you are enjoying produce when it is at its most flavorful!

That is why I’m so excited about the wonderful new cookbook Farm to Table Asian Secrets: Vegan & Vegetarian Full-Flavored Recipes for Every Season from Tuttle Publishing. It makes seasonal living so easy! The book is divided into sections by season, with recipes that feature the flavors that are available that time of year. I also love that it simplifies many traditional recipes to make them accessible to modern cooks – without sacrificing any of the flavor. Author Patricia Tanumihardja draws on her experiences in several different food cultures to blend traditions to make fresh, appetizing dishes, all using ingredients and equipment that you already have or can easily find.

5 Tips for Seasonal Living with Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

One example is the Asparagus in Lemongrass-Coconut Cream Sauce. I have to admit I had never even cooked asparagus before, much less attempted a lemongrass-coconut cream sauce. But the steps in the recipe were so straightforward that even a newbie like myself was able to make a wonderful tasting dish in the brief period of time that all three of my kids were cheerfully occupied! I honestly felt like I was serving a dish right out of a restaurant!

5 Tips for Seasonal Living with Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

I highly recommend Farm to Table Asian Secrets: Vegan & Vegetarian Full-Flavored Recipes for Every Season to anyone who loves to experiment in the kitchen but worries that they just don’t have the time. Even meat lovers will enjoy these hearty, flavorful vegan and vegetarian dishes and the variety that they will introduce into your meal times.

How do you introduce seasonal living to your children?

Dec 222016
 December 22, 2016  household Comments Off on 7 Simple But Awesome Diaper Bag Hacks

Are you a mama on the go? Are you always juggling two (or three, or four) tasks at once? Eliminate some of the hassle by focusing on that key piece of equipment you absolutely have to have with you wherever you go: your diaper bag. Make your life easier with these 7 simple but awesome diaper bag hacks, so you have more energy and attention to focus on your little bundle of joy.

7 Simple But Awesome Diaper Bag Hacks | Alldonemonkey.com

This post is a partnership with Nakturnal.

7 Simple But Awesome Diaper Bag Hacks

1. Find Your Perfect Diaper Bag – And Ditch Your Purse

I am lucky enough to have a very crafty sister-in-law, but if you or a loved one is not so inclined, these days it’s easy to find the best diaper bags online. Look for one that can also hold all of your necessities, so you can leave your purse at home. Why carry two bags when you can carry just one? Simplify your life whenever possible! It’s easy to put your wallet, etc back into that cute purse whenever you head out for a night without the baby.

2. Organize, Organize, Organize

Everyone has their own system, but make sure you have one! Nothing is worse than trying to change a wiggly infant while simultaneously digging around in your diaper bag for what you need. I love having a diaper bag with lots of pockets so I always know exactly where everything is when I need it.

3. Keep It Stocked

I know how it is to finally get home after a long day of running errands with the baby in tow – the last thing you want to do is restock your diaper bag! But trust me, you will thank yourself later if you just take a few minutes to restock while you still remember exactly what needs to be refilled. If you can’t do it that minute – because sometimes you have to change a diaper or nurse right away – then make sure to leave your bag sitting out until you can. If you are like me, once it is put away, it’s out of sight, out of mind, until I’m racing to get out the door and only then remember that I need to pack more diapers.

7 Simple But Awesome Diaper Bag Hacks | Alldonemonkey.com

4. Don’t Forget the Snacks

As your baby turns into a toddler – or if you have older children – be sure to pack snacks and other necessities that an older child will need. I always keep a few squeeze pouches or fig bars in my bag for my preschooler. These also work great as a snack for me, especially since I rarely get to sit down for a quiet meal anymore!

Related Post: Organization Tips for Families with Young Children

5. Throw in a Receiving Blanket

Stick an extra receiving blanket in your purse. (They have so many creative uses!) They are so compact and come in very handy as a clean surface to do a diaper change, or to mop up a spill, or (of course!) as a blanket for your little one.

6. Leave It By the Door

Surprisingly, this is something I didn’t start doing until recently. I always kept the diaper bag in my closet, close to all of my other supplies, but after a few times of having to run back in the house to get it, I finally followed my 4 year old’s suggestion and started storing it by the door. Haven’t forgotten it since! Find a spot that is convenient for you – things will go more smoothly if you and your children’s things are organized in a predictable place.

7. Do a Periodic Cleaning

Make sure that on a regular basis you go through your diaper bag. You’ll be surprised at all the odds and ends that accumulate there, particularly if you have older children that find many “treasures” when you are out. This cleaning will also help you ensure that you don’t have any one-size-too-small diapers or clothes stashed in your bag from before baby’s last growth spurt!

What is your favorite diaper bag hack? Share in the comments!

Nov 222016
 November 22, 2016  Christmas, crafts, household 2 Responses »

‘Tis the season, and families everywhere are gearing up to buy, create, and lovingly wrap presents for their loved ones. While you’re at it, why not have some fun with all that extra wrapping paper? It is so great for crafts! We had fun with some of our own upcycled crafts recently, so I’ve gathered together some creative ideas for you. Share your ideas in the comments!

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary packages of wrapping paper from Tuttle Publishing for review purposes; however, all my opinions are my own.

Do you have a stash of wrapping paper sitting around at the end of the holidays, odd scraps that you’re not sure would actually fit a present but you can’t bring yourself to get rid of? Or perhaps you’ve found some really beautiful wrapping paper that is like artwork all by itself? Here are some fun and creative ways to use it!

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper | Alldonemonkey.com

I was so pleased to receive several packages of gorgeous wrapping paper from Tuttle Publishing (shown above are the Blue and White set, Indonesian Batik, Japanese Kimono, and Chinese Silk). With gifts, so much is in the presentation! These premium wrapping papers are so beautiful and artistic that I knew our loved ones would feel very special receiving presents wrapped with them.

I also realized that we could also use it to make wonderful crafts! Here are some of our favorite creative uses for wrapping paper.

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper

Book Covers

When I was a kid, at the start of every school year we would pull out the paper grocery bags to make covers for our new textbooks. (Here is a tutorial that is exactly how we did it when I was a kid). It kept the books in better shape, plus it personalized them a bit. I hadn’t done it for years, so I thought it would be fun to do again. Since we had such beautiful material to work with, I made a cover for my prayer book using a sheet from the Chinese Silk set. Isn’t it beautiful?

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper | Alldonemonkey.com

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper | Alldonemonkey.com

Line Your Drawers

Add a little beauty to your everyday by lining your drawers with some beautiful wrapping paper! Featured here is a sheet from the Blue & White set. The photo really doesn’t do justice to the pretty dark blue color I used.

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper | Alldonemonkey.com

Paper Chains

Decorate your house or trim your tree with some festive paper chains! These are also great to use in a simple advent calendar. This gorgeous wrapping paper will definitely be a step up from the construction paper we usually use!

Gift Tags

One thrifty way to use wrapping paper is to make simple gift tags for the presents you are wrapping. Simply take some of the excess paper, fold it over and trim to make a small rectangle. (If your wrapping paper has a nice design, you could also follow the shape of the images on the paper). Write your note inside and tape it to the gift, and that’s it! Simple, but it does look cute because of course it matches!

Here are some other fun wrapping paper ideas for you:

From Teach Me Mommy: Stick Puzzles

From Jeddah Mom: Paper Collage Using Flower Punch

From Sugar Aunts: Scissor Skills Crash Course

From One Creative Mommy: Christmas Crackers Stocking Stuffers

From Red Ted Art: Thank You Cards

From Red Ted Art: Christmas Cards

You can find even more ideas in the packages of wrapping paper from Tuttle Publishing!

Jul 022016
 July 2, 2016  household 4 Responses »

3 Easy Ways to Be a Tech Savvy Mom | Alldonemonkey.com

Technology changes so quickly that it’s easy to feel left behind. There is always a new app or platform creating a lot of buzz, and for busy moms it is nearly impossible to keep up. But here’s the good news: You don’t have to be a tech whiz to benefit from the latest developments. Here are 3 easy ways to make technology work for you and be a tech savvy mom.

3 Easy Ways to Be a Tech Savvy Mom

1. Use apps to organize and coordinate. There are so many great apps out there to help you track and organize your household. Even before you become a parent you can use an app to monitor and record your contractions! And apps are great for coordinating with friends or family. My husband and I created an online shopping list so that whoever was able to go to the store always had an up to date list. We also share an online calendar, which includes details like addresses of events, in case, for example my husband is taking one of the kids to an appointment that I scheduled or vice versa.

2. Stay connected with your kids. Online safety is a huge concern, so monitor how much and what kind of screen time your kids get. As kids get older, monitoring them becomes more difficult, so lay the foundation early for open communication with your kids about online safety and why it is important. Show an interest in the games they play and who they are interacting with online. I am a big believer in practicing what in business is called MBWA, or Management By Walking Around. In other words, don’t give your child a tablet then leave them alone for an hour or two. Check in frequently on what they are doing or, even better, have them sit where you can easily see them and their screen. Even if you aren’t very tech savvy yourself, you can learn a lot from your kids and how they use technology.

3. Upgrade your home phone to a smart phone. So many people I know don’t even use home phones anymore because they seem so clunky and old fashioned. But there are real safety reasons to keep one, such as the ability to call 911 quickly. Also, home phones can be in every room in your house and accessible to every member of the household.

3 Easy Ways to Be a Tech Savvy Mom | Alldonemonkey.com

So what about the clunky and old fashioned part? That’s where Ooma comes in.

Ooma Telo is a product that can easily transform your home phone into a smart phone that integrates with other smart devices in your home. I love that it is so quick and easy to set up!

With Ooma Telo you get reliable phone service at a fraction of the cost of your existing home phone service. And there are so many cool features!

Tired of unsolicited calls? Block them! Concerned about safety? Get texts if 911 is called from your home or if smoke or carbon monoxide is detected in your home.

A leading consumer research publication rated Ooma Telo the #1 home phone service for five years in a row and it’s easy to see why.

3 Easy Ways to Be a Tech Savvy Mom | Alldonemonkey.com

Look how small and cute it is! Pencil not included 😉

Remember the static-y calls on your old home phone? Ooma Telo has a built-in 900MHz dual-core processor that gives a more natural sound without all that stuttering and popping.

Plus you get Caller ID, call-waiting, free mobile app, 911 calling and text alerts, free US calling (just pay taxes and fees, no long-term contract required), and free Ooma-to-Ooma calling anywhere in the world.

Want to keep your current phone number? Just pay a one-time $39.99 transfer fee, or choose a new number in most any available area code free of charge.

I also love My Ooma online portal, where you can play messages, check call logs, and manage your preferences. Talk about being tech savvy!

You can even more features – like call forwarding, enhanced caller ID, and additional Smart Home integrations – with the
Premier Service for $9.99 per month.

Ooma customers have saved over a billion dollars on their home phone bills while enjoying more features and better service. Find out how much you would save, and you could win an Ooma Telo, one year of Premier Service, a Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector and one LIFX and Philips Hue smart light bulbs in the Ooma sweepstakes!

Just calculate your savings, leave the answer in a comment below, and Ooma will pick one grand prize winner!

Apr 122016
 April 12, 2016  household, travel Comments Off on Great New Stroller for Family Travel

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by @GBChildUsa as part of a Blog Blast Activation for Influence Central.

The gb Pockit stroller is a great choice for family travel

Making travel plans for the summer? Be sure to check out this great new stroller for family travel!

A stroller is a great item to have on hand when you travel with young children – except that they are usually so bulky!  Introducing the new gb Pockit stroller, available from Babies ‘R’ Us, which actually set a world record for being the world’s most compact stroller.  When folded, it is only 12 x 7 x 14 inches!  What a difference that would have made if we had had one on our last family trip!

It is small and light, but also durable and is designed for kids from 6 months up to 55 lbs.  And I loved that it was really designed with busy parents in mind, as it can be easily steered with only one hand and folds in only two steps. It really is the ideal stroller for family travel!

For more on the gb Pockit Stroller – and for a chance to win prizes! – join the Twitter party on April 28!

  • Date: Thursday, April 28, 2016
  • Time: 1 – 2 PM ET
  • Moderators: @MomCentral
  • Brand Participants: @GBChildUSA
  • Party hashtags: #gbPockit
  • Prizes: 2 pre-party winners and 6 party winners will receive $50 Amex gift cards and 1 grand prize winner will receive the gb Pockit Stroller
  • Party Focus: We’ll be chatting about family adventures, whether a jet-setting vacation or a weekend getaway, the gb Pockit gives on-the-go Moms a portable stroller, ideal for all of our family travels.

gb Pockit Stroller: Great New Stroller for Family TravelThe gb Pockit stroller can be found at Babies ‘R’ Us.

Mar 212016

DIY Easter Basket for Baby | Alldonemonkey.com

There are many things that a baby uses intensely during its first year, then never again.  Think of all those adorable onesies that your baby uses in abundance, then quickly outgrows.  Another such item is the receiving blanket.  They are perfect for young babies – soft and snuggly and just the right size – until they are suddenly too small, and you are left with a stack of blankets you can no longer use.

Until now!  Here is an idea to use an old receiving blanket to upcycle a basket into a cute DIY Easter basket for baby.  I’ve also collected fantastic basket filler ideas, plus other creative uses for old baby blankets.

Disclosure: This article was inspired by a complimentary gift basket I received from Gifts.com.

DIY Easter Basket for Baby

DIY Easter Basket for Baby | Alldonemonkey.com

I started with this amazing gift basket from Gifts.com.  They have a great selection, including the one above, which was full of yummy, organic fruit!

After we had devoured the fruit, I was left with a basket that was just the perfect size for an Easter basket!  Since we are all about natural parenting and green living, what better way to make an DIY Easter basket than to upcycle materials we already had on hand?

It couldn’t have been easier!  All you need is an old receiving blanket, a basket, and a hot glue gun.

Receiving blankets are perfect for upcycling because of their even, regular shape; their soft material; and their adorable patterns.  Plus you have a bunch sitting around the house already!  And after Easter, it is great for storage in the nursery or as part of a baby shower gift.  (Thanks to a reader for that last suggestion!)

I used this “faux sew” method, in which you basically just drape the material over the basket and hot glue it in place.  I love the fullness of the draped material, plus it neatly sidesteps the need to make a hem!  (If you do want to make a hem, you can either cut, fold, and hot glue one; or you can use hem tape).  This no-sew tutorial is a bit more precise, plus I borrowed its idea of how to tuck the extra material under at the ends.  If you want a liner that fits more snugly against the basket, here is a tutorial that includes how to measure material for a round basket.

DIY Easter Basket for Baby | Alldonemonkey.com

So pretty and so easy!  Now what do you put in that cute basket?  Here are some ideas:

Easter Gifts for Baby

And now that I’ve got you excited about repurposing your old receiving blankets, here are more creative uses for them:

Creative Ways to Repurpose Receiving Blankets

Be sure to check out these other great spring ideas:

Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails: Wind Chimes for Kids to Make

Mom Inspired Life: Planting Flowers Alphabet Activity

Inspired by Familia: Fruit Flower Pot Snack for Kids

Jan 062016
 January 6, 2016  family, household 1 Response »

Our favorite household organization tips

Now that we’ve brought home Baby #3, staying on task and organized is harder than ever.  And while part of the answer is learning to be happy with more mayhem, I have picked up a few organization tips to keep things from sliding into complete chaos.

There are two main themes to all of my suggestions: preparation and education.  That is, prep as much as possible ahead of time, as something will always happen at the last minute to throw you off course.  Education could also optimistically be termed empowerment, as it’s all about getting your kids involved in the process and learn to do more things for themselves.

I received a complimentary starter pack from stickerkid; however, all opinions are my own.

Organization Tips for Families with Young Children

10. Start a load of laundry first thing in the morning: I got this piece of advice several years ago, and it really has made a difference.  It’s amazing how much time gets absorbed every morning with breakfast, making sure everyone has gone potty, etc.  Before I turn around, it seems like we’re already halfway to lunch.  So I make sure that first thing I start a load of laundry, and by the time I get through that first round of essential tasks, it’s already done and ready to be moved to the dryer, and I feel like I’ve accomplished something!

9. Have set routines that everyone takes part in: Call them chores, routines, whatever works, these are tasks that your kids complete on a daily basis.  Work together to establish routines that everyone can agree on then be as consistent as possible.  It is worth the effort, believe me!  Not only are you helping your kids be more independent, but you are saving yourself valuable time in the end.  With time, they’ll need less prompting and will be able to do more and more of it on their own.

8. Do menu planning and have a (more or less) set shopping day: Menu planning is one of those organization tips everyone talks about, but it’s not just a myth – it really works!  I have a set of index cards where I’ve written down the meals we make regularly, divided by category: Soups, Weekend Meals, etc.  Then I just have to flip through those to come up with a menu plan for the week.  (See some of my favorite meal ideas on my Easy Dinners Pinterest board).  Then from there is a a cinch to write up a shopping list.  Having a set shopping day is more important as your kids get older and you are adding in set activities like soccer practice, and so on.  For me it’s helpful to know which day I’ll be going to the store, because I’ll plan that far in advance.

Our favorite household organization tips

7. Reusable shopping lists: I started using reusable shopping lists when my oldest was little.  These are really helpful if you and your partner share shopping duties, or if, like me, you have an extreme case of Mommy brain and tend to forget at least one or two essential items with every shopping trip.  For each of our regular stores, I wrote up a list of items we buy from there then laminated them and hung them up inside our pantry.  During the week, I can check off items I can see we’ll need to refill.  There’s also plenty of room to write in items that aren’t on our regular list.  Then before I make a trip, I go through the list and check on all the items to see if there’s anything I missed.  No more coming home from the store just to realize we’re out of my son’s favorite snack!  These lists are also helpful for those times when my husband calls and offers to stop at the store on his way home from work.  It never fails that he calls when I’m in the middle of a diaper change or a heated argument between the boys.  This way I can just glance inside the pantry door and rattle off to him what we need.

6. Kids’ drawers and shelves: Have a number of designated drawers and shelves in your kitchen that are accessible for your kids.  That way they can get their own plates and silverware at meal times, help put away clean dishes, and get their own snacks.  My husband also went through their bedrooms and made sure all the drawers were in working order and safe for kids – important, since we bought several dressers second hand, and originally a few of the drawers didn’t have stoppers, so they’d come all the way out when pulled too hard (as kids are likely to do!)  Besides taking the burden off of you, it’s also very empowering for the kids to be able to take care of things for themselves.

5. Build in “clean up” times: I love to give my kids plenty of time for free play, yet somehow for them this translates into pulling all the cushions off the sofa and dumping every toy box onto the floor.  Rather than let things build up until the end of the day, we have several designated “clean up” times during the day.  That doesn’t mean they have to put away the toys they are actively playing with, but before lunch and dinner, we go through and put away those that they’re no longer using.  Besides making sure clean up time isn’t so overwhelming (and that I don’t go crazy in between), it also helps them get used to a rhythm of play and clean up.

4. Keep your bag stocked with essentials and non-perishables: With three young children, we carry a lot of gear whenever we go out, so rather than have to scramble to get ready each time – on top of making sure everyone has gone potty or gotten a diaper change, gotten shoes on, etc. – I restock my bag after each trip so it’s ready for next time.  And while I do my best to take along fresh fruit as snacks, I also keep a number of healthy, non-perishable items in the bag to round things out or for those days when cutting up an apple is just not happening if we want a chance of making it out the door on time.

3. Keep a donation box in your closet: With young children, it seems like they are constantly outgrowing clothes or losing interest in toys.  For a long time we held onto these for the next child coming along, but now that we have had our last baby, we’re beginning the cycle of gradually passing these on to other families.  I have a box (sometimes several!) in my closet for clothes and toys we no longer need, which we periodically take to charities in our area, like a local school for homeless children.  It’s an easy way for your family to get involved in charity, plus it keeps down the clutter in your house.

2. Library bags: In our house, we have books coming out of our ears.  Every trip we take to the library, we max out each of our library cards to the limit of how many books we can check out.  So keeping track of all of these is a big issue for us!  My solution was to have several designated library bags that live in my closet in between trips.  If I get a notice that a book is due soon (and I’m not able to renew it), or if I see ones that the kids really aren’t interested in, I stash them in the library bags right away.  In fact, I usually do a sweep of the house not only just before we head to the library but just after.  The “just after” sweep is for those books that I’m not sure about – but if they last in the library bag for a week or two without anyone missing them, I know they’re safe to return.  If not, I can always pull them out and keep them for another few weeks.

Our favorite household organization tips

Love these stickers, shaped perfectly to fit inside shoes!

1. Labels: A recent find are these adorable sticker labels from stickerkid.  They are completely customizeable labels for all of your kids’ belongings – from water bottles and umbrellas to shoes and shirts.  Never worry about your child’s backpack getting mixed up with another child’s at school, or your super cute snack cups getting confused with someone else’s at the park.

Our favorite household organization tips

These labels are easy to apply, and – I love this! – you can even pick clothing labels that can be removed later, to pass down clothes to another child or donate them (see #3 above).  So convenient!  I also love that you and your child get to sit down and customize the labels when you order.  We had so much fun doing ours!  You can choose from all sorts of designs and colors, even different languages!  So not only will you make sure your items are safe at daycare or school, your child will have lots of fun with them!

If you’d like to try them out, be sure to use the Discount Code SG10STICKERKI7_R9 to get 10% off!

Find more tips for your home on my Household board on Pinterest, and share yours in the comments!

Mar 102015
 March 10, 2015  family, household, parenting Comments Off on Urbini Dream Nursery Contest!

Urbini Dream Nursery Contest

Disclosure: I participated in a Blog Blast Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Urbini. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Ah, those heady days before the arrival of your first baby!  Everything is so cute, so tiny, so exciting!

And yet, it’s also very overwhelming when you stop to realize that little person will be here very soon and you are not ready!  Besides the time needed to prepare your house for your new little one, it’s also an incredible financial burden.

And then, of course, there are those expecting a second child (or third, or fourth…), when money is even tighter, but you still wish you could splurge on something special for your new little bundle.

That’s why I’m so excited about the Urbini Dream Nursery Contest!

What’s so amazing about this contest is that not only could you win items for your nursery, if you win the grand prize the Urbini furniture designer will come to your house and design your nursery personally!  Really?? Yes!

And even if you aren’t expecting a baby, you can still enter to win prizes – see details below!

Here’s what you could win:

Grand Prize: One Urbini Crib, one Urbini Changing Table, one Urbini 6 Drawer Dresser, one Urbini Cubi Play Yard, plus a home visit by Urbini designer Rachel Dacks to personally design your nursery!

Second Prize: Choice of one Urbini Crib

Third Prize: One Urbini Cubi Play Yard

Sweepstakes Winners: In addition to the above, each day one randomly selected Sweepstakes participant will win a $50 Walmart Gift Card

Sounds great, now how do I enter?

If you are interested in the Grand, Second, or Third Prizes, post an Instagram photo to your personal Instagram account of the room you want to redesign.  Be sure to tag it #UrbiniDreamNursery and #Contest.

Contest ends March 18.

For all the contest details, plus how to enter to win the daily $50 Walmart Gift Cards, visit the Urbini Dream Nursery main page.  You can also enter the contest below:

Urbini Dream Nursery

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