the peanuts gang

Make the most of your Family Time

Kids grow up so fast. One day they’re toddling around the house in a baby grow and the next they’re donning a freshly ironed school uniform. Family time really is precious, so why not make the most of your little ones before they enter full-time education?

Here are four ways to entertain your brood.

Head off on an adventure

The great thing about having small children is that you can head off on an adventure as and when you please without getting a phone call from an angry teacher. Off-peak flights tend to be cheaper and, with companies such as Tots Too offering a wealth of family holiday packages, you’ll be able to visit some luxurious destinations young and old alike will enjoy. So, whether a trip to the Costa del Sol is calling or somewhere further afield it’s certainly worth popping something in the diary.

Go on day trips

Fancy a break from the norm? Then make a picnic, grab your camera and head off on a memorable day trip. There are many interesting places to visit in the UK including castles and palaces or you could head to a wildlife park or Sea Life centre. Choose something that will spark the little ones’ imaginations and where they can run around freely. The beach is always a hit or you could also suss out what London has to offer for a family day out by checking out

Unleash your creative side

You don’t always have to go out to have fun. Sometimes, it’s enough just to sit in the front room with paints, colouring crayons, coloured paper, glitter glue, sponges, stickers, scissors and anything else artistic and unleash your creative side. Kids love getting their hands dirty so set up several work stations and let them cut, stick, scribble and draw until their heart’s content. Quick and easy crafts, such as clay modelling or collages, are ideal for small children. Just take a look at for inspiration.

Visit friends and relatives

With so much to do on a daily basis it can be easy to let time slip by without seeing friends or relatives. So, if you have a spare hour or two bundle the kids in the car and head off for a playdate or an afternoon with grandma. The children will love being out of the house doing something different and you’ll get to catch up with loved ones without leaving your little ones at home. Alternatively, invite people round yours for a good old chin wag and enjoy the vibrant buzz of a full house.

We’ve all got commitments of one kind or another, be it work or daily chores, but spending some quality time with your kids before they start school is of paramount importance so don’t miss out.


DIY Decorations for Halloween

DIY Decorations for Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, and whether you love it or hate it, it’s a holiday that the kids absolutely love. According to a recent survey published in the Daily Mail, it is one of the most popular family occasions behind Christmas, with parents spending more than $100 on parties for their children. The good news is that Halloween decorations don’t have to cost the earth to look good and frightful, plus the fun and excitement for the children lies in the build-up and to the day. Below are some crafty do-it-yourself ideas below:

Crafty pumpkins
What’s Halloween without a pumpkin? Instead of carving them this year, why not let the kids decorate them. Click here to decorate your Halloween pumpkins with ribbon, buttons, glitter, paint or whatever you have in the craft box. You can make spooky faces, turn them into animals or even make into a nice feature for your living room for the month. Display your creations in the windows for people to see or even use as quirky centrepieces if you’re having a celebratory dinner or party.

Bunting and hanging decorations
The options are endless when it comes to hanging Halloween decorations around your home. Hanging spiders, bats, owls and cats can all be made with a little ribbon, card, beads and stickers, and with some balloons and cheesecloth you could even make your own hanging ghosts! You could also get the children to cut out a selection of ghoulish shapes, string them together and make your own bunting to place around the windows or through the living/dining room.

A great way to brighten up your window display on a dark and chilling October evening is with some DIY lanterns. They can easily be made from paper, jars, paper cups and pumpkins with the addition of candles and lighting. Simply look online for tutorials and illuminate your house this Halloween!

Window Silhouettes
Transform the outside of your home ready for visitors with some scary window silhouettes. All you need to do is simply cut out Halloween themed shapes from black cardboard, use some orange tissue paper in the background, apply them on windows and turn on the lights! These silhouettes are really effective and could be anything from spider webs and bats to witches and zombies.

Spooky treats
Rather than handing out traditional sweets to your trick or treaters this year, delight them with some spooky biscuits or cupcakes! These are also perfect if you’re hosting a party and the kids can get involved decorating them to look like ghosts, pumpkins, skeletons and spiders. Alternatively, make some slimy jellies and add some sweetie bugs in for that extra gruesome touch! BBC Good Food has some great recipes for Halloween themed cakes and goodies.

Halloween Wreath
Give your front door a creepy Halloween touch with a DIY wreath to impress your guests before they’ve even entered. You can make your wreath out of googly eyes, faux fur, plastic skeleton bones or simply add some fake creepy crawlies or paper bats to a twig or grapevine wreath.


Happy New School Year!

Happy New School Year, all! With a farm school, our start is always delayed so they can finish farm business and harvests. Both boys were headed there this year and they could hardly wait to get start!

Open House



So they’re basically like a hundred now…




This year was a little different as I was on a work trip in Atlanta, Georgia during their first days of school. Jim was off and saw each off to school, but when I came back, I had to ensure that I snagged that Pinterest-worthy photo shoot (more because I want the reference of their sizes each year!) I maintained the accuracy of the date, so these were taken on their 2nd and 4th days of school respectively.



Charlie is absolutely LOVING afternoon preschool. Independence and a reading of Charlotte’s Web, he’s definitely in his element. We work side by side on the mornings Jack is in school – he in his workbook and I in this space. It’s delightful.

Jack has tackled preschool by storm except for the day that they were playing Jelly and Bread and he was forced to be the dreaded jelly. Otherwise, his favorite time of day is SNACK time and he loves seeing all the animals.

It’s going to be a GREAT year!


RSVP for #FlavorofFall Twitter Party



Do you love a good Twitter Party?  You know I do and we’re excited to host a party to chat about creative recipes incorporating apple and chocolate flavors!  On Tuesday, September 16th at 3:00 pm ET, please join us for the  #FlavorofFall Twitter Party where we’ll be discussing fun fall recipes with harvest twists and giving you a chance to win prizes!

Fall is my ABSOLUTE favorite time of year! Crisp air, sweaters, boots and most importantly, delicious eats! Think fall recipes using candy corn and M&Ms. Candy apples, peanut butter, chocolate, oh my!  Who doesn’t love candy apples this time of year?  Not to mention trips to the apple orchard for apple sauce, apple juice and other apple recipes! Be sure to bring a snack because by the end of this party, your stomach will be rumbling!

Join me and RSVP for the#FlavorofFall Twitter Party on SoFabChats!

DATE: Tuesday, September 16th

TIME:  3:00 – 4:00 PM ET

PRIZES:  5 – $100 Walmart Gift Cards

EARLY BIRD PRIZE: 1 – $50 Walmart Gift Card

HOSTS: @blm03, @tsue1136@MsMissy62@donnahup@peanutsgang2004

RULES: #FlavorofFall Twitter Party Official Rules

RSVP & PARTY GRID: #FlavorofFall Twitter Party Page

How To Participate In A Twitter Party on SoFabChats!

TIP:  How to join a Twitter Party – sign in! Before party starts, click on the green “Sign In On Twitter” bar at the top of the page!

TIP: Who to follow at a Twitter Party? Follow the Party Team by clicking on the Twitter handle links on the RSVP page!

TIP: Want to win Twitter Party prizes? RSVP by clicking on RSVP button before you join the party, follow everyone on the Party Team, and tweet with the party hashtag during the party to be eligible!

TIP: How to win the Early Bird prize? Watch for chance to share a tweet when you RSVP for chance to win!

TIP: Special deals and brand coupons? Keep that option checked when you RSVP for the party!

TIP: New to Twitter parties? Watch your column and Party Team tweet columns – they are slower paced and easier to follow!

TIP: Where to find Twitter Parties? Check out the SoFabChats Twitter Party Calendar to find more fun parties to attend!

Find more helpful Twitter Party Tips on SoFabChats!


Prepare Your Children for a Successful Future

As parents, we all want to have a bright and successful future for our children, and this is why we want them to have the best education and we also do our best to guide them in their career choices. We’ve been there; we know how difficult some subjects can be. Take algebra for instance—do you remember how to factor polynomials, solve systems of equations, or graph linear equalities?

If you are having difficulty in aiding your child in his or her assignments, a good idea would be to get a professional tutor who can provide algebra help for your child. Aside from getting subject tutors, there are many other ways you can make your child confident and so prepare him or her for a successful future.

Get involved.

Being involved in your child’s schooling and career choices is a good step in paving the way for a successful future. However, be careful not to get too highly involved, as this can hinder your child’s journey toward independent decision-making. Be a career coach or guide and set good examples so that your child will have a positive and confident outlook toward schooling and his or her future. By doing so, you will help your child find the path that is suited for their personality and interests.

Be a good influence.

Children are observers and learn a lot about life from what they see at home. What you do greatly influences your child’s choices and actions, so be a good influence and show your child the values that can help them become a better person. Show them to appreciate all kinds of work, respect others’ beliefs, and understand a situation carefully before passing judgment. Teach them about the values of compassion, generosity, resilience, responsibility, and communication.

Let them become independent.

You won’t be there to guide your children forever, so it’s better to let them learn how to become independent early on. You should learn to trust them as well! A child’s development shouldn’t be restricted to the home and the school. A good way to let your child develop is to let him or her attend summer camp, where he or she may further discover his or her interests, form friendships, and learn about what makes each person unique. Attending camp lets children gain a greater understanding of the world around them, develop confidence and maturity, form meaningful relationships with others, and improve their social skills.

Give praise for effort.

Many parent praise their children for getting the highest scores in their subject; this sounds good at first, but it is better to praise their effort rather than the grades that they get. Giving praise for the results makes children fear failure; an attitude that can lead to disappointments. Rather than praise children for intelligence, it’s better to applaud them for giving their best effort in everything that they do. Research shows that children who are praised for their efforts seek opportunities to continue doing their best, a positive attitude that can lead to success.

In preparing your children for success, the best thing to do is to let them be themselves! Guide them to discover what they are happy with, and support them in their endeavors.


Shop for Labels for Education and Give Back to your Favorite School #Labels4Edu #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone. 

Charlie is headed to the BIG Kindergarten this year and Jack is off to preschool. Suddenly, my babies are growing up! With their recent entrance into the school system, I know we have many years ahead of us working with the schools and education programs to make them the best they can be. Campbell’s Labels for Education program gives you the opportunity to buy products you need off your grocery list all while giving back to the schools in the process! #Labels4Edu #CollectiveBias

Save product labels for education! #Labels4Edu #cbias #shop

Looking to help your schools raise additional money without the frustration of traditional fundraising? Saving Labels for Education from products you already purchase can be a simple process once you have the steps down. I’ve put together a list of my favorite tips for keeping sane while cutting labels!

1. Make a list of the products you LOVE using off of the Labels for Education website and shop at your favorite grocery store or retailer. 

Save the lids of your Prego Italian Sauce #Labels4Edu #cbias #shop

Keep your eyes peeled because labels for education can be found everywhere you look, including the dairy section!

Walmart Retailer Finds Danimals Yogurt #Labels4Edu #cbias #shop

This little mister loves to help SHOPPING, including choosing his favorite flavors and products off our list!

Jack is happy about saving labels for school #Labels4Edu #cbias #shop

Shopping for the labels is relatively simple when you head to your favorite local retailer, such as Walmart, to pick up your favorite items. The website offers a variety of products, so I picked up some of our favorites like Prego Italian sauce, Bic writing utensils (hello, school supplies) and Danimals Yogurt Smoothies. I’m planning to buy these items for our household anyways, why not save money for the school in the process?

2. Clip coupons from the Labels for Education website to further your savings and make your dollar stretch even further. 

If you stop at the Labels for Education website before you head out on a shopping trip for your items, you will likely find even more savings to apply to your bottom line. This savings ends up back in your pocket and enables you to buy additional products to benefit your school or even give back in a variety of other ways. Who doesn’t love saving money?

3. Find creative ways to store your labels.

Bic Brite Liner Highlighters offer 1 point for #Labels4Edu #cbias #shop

Campbell's Soup Labels Earns you 5 Points for your School! #Labels4Edu #cbias #shop

Labels for Education come in a variety of ways depending on the product you purchase. Sometimes, you’ll be saving pasta jar lids, other times, you can look for the UPC code and the label nearby that tells you how many points you earn for clipping. Whether you’re socking them away in a ziploc bag or stuffing them under your mattress, find a spot in the house that will remind you to clip those labels and save them to turn them in at a later date. You can even peruse Pinterest for creative ideas to keep your labels organized and front and center.

4. Remember why you’re saving Labels for Education

Big Man on Campus #Labels4Edu #cbias #shop

Plenty of reasons to clip for your school – these smiling faces!


Life can be busy and you can get caught up in the hum-drum of the mundane grocery store runs, but always remember why you search for particular items and save the UPC codes or lids. It’s all about the KIDS! Your kids and others will benefit from this small step more than you could know. You can track your school’s progress on the website and even view their wish list! Remembering that it’s all about them helps to put things in perspective when it comes to preparing for the school year ahead (and just might get you to stick to that grocery list!)

Labels for Education Sweepstakes

Your school could win big if you enter the Labels for Education Sweepstakes! 1000 schools will win $1000 in a $1,000,000 giveaway from Labels for Education. Additional information for that contest can be found at the Labels for Education Campbell’s Sweepstakes website. This is an awesome (and simple!) opportunity to try to do something for your school just by submitting your information.


Five Must Have Items to Take on Your Family Camping Trip

Going on a camping trip is one way to bond with the entire family. It’s also a great way to teach the children about the great outdoors and let them be one with nature instead of spending their time in front of the television. Whether it is your first time to go camping, or you are a seasoned pro, there are some survival supplies that you need in order to make that camping trip with your family safe, fun, and memorable.

5 Must Have Items for Camping

Here are five must have items that you must take with you when you go on a family camping trip:

Necessities – First on your list should be your necessities. Pack enough food and water to last you for the duration of your camping trip. Make sure that there’s enough food for everyone, especially the kids. Bring snacks such as nuts or berries, or you can also bring prepared meals that you can heat up on the fire. Bring lots of water, as you are not sure if you have a clean source of water in the camping grounds. It’s also important to keep the body hydrated for long hikes.

Sleeping Bag And Tent – If you are going on an overnight camping trip with the family, sleeping bags and tents are must haves. You need shelter for the night and a place to rest during the daytime. If the weather is cold, bring a couple of blankets as well. Expect the temperature to be about 20 degrees colder during the nighttime. Go for waterproof tents to prepare yourselves for the rain.

Sunblock And Insect Spray – Other must haves are sunblock and insect spray. Lather on sunblock on the areas that are exposed to the sun. Make sure that you bring insect repellent that is deet-free, and apply it on expose areas as well including the arms, neck, and ankles to avoid those nasty and itchy bug bites.

Waterproof Matches – Waterproof matches can do wonders when going on a camping trip. If you cannot get hold of waterproof matches, all you need to do is dip the tip of the match in melted wax. That should make your matches waterproof. You will need this when making a campfire for your family where you can enjoy making smores. A campfire also provides heat at night.

First Aid Kit – Last, but not the least, make sure that you pack a complete first aid kit in case of accidents. Include the basic medicines such as aspirin, antihistamine, a few bandages and gauzes, alcohol, antiseptic, and aloe ointment for sunburns. If anyone in the family has a medical condition, make sure to bring their medication when you go camping as well.

These are the five basic things that you must bring with you when you go on a camping trip with the entire family. Other items that you might want to consider bringing include a flashlight, a propane lamp, compass, and your camping gear. If you prepare all the things that you need, you and your family are sure to have a good time boding with Mother Nature.


Sassy Moms Back to School Media Soiree #SassyMomsBTS

I received a sampling of items and entrance to #SassyMomsBTS, but all opinions expressed are my own.

As the kids headed back to school, I headed downtown to The Chopping Block for a night out on the town getting to know some of the latest and greatest in new products for moms and families. From glasses for mom to a strong smell deodorizer, #SassyMomsBTS has you covered.

The Chopping Block

Kitchen gadgets, cooking classes and more, The Chopping Block has you covered. We were able to sample delicious homemade pesto and elegant appetizers, even watching the chef create something special right in front of us. I tried to hire her to cook my dinners at home, but I don’t think she thought I was serious! (I was!)



Stylish glasses for men and women that frame your face and help you see your world in a new way. One of my absolute favorites features of Aristocracy is their virtual try-on feature on their website. All you need is a webcam! Start the tool on their website, sit back and frame your world with Iristocracy. The glasses move on screen to meet your eyes and you can virtually “try-on” hundreds of pairs of glasses and see what you like! Then you order your glasses, have a prescription filled by your doctor and voila! You’re ready to see things from a fresh perspective.


Love these frames AND my friend Maria from ASavingsWow.


One of my absolute favorite products were the Refresh2Go water bottles. These reusable water bottles that come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors have the filter attached to the STRAW which means each sip is refreshing and filtered without a bulky filter at the opening of the bottle. New filters can be purchased in a multi-pack from Wal-Mart, Kmart and Meijer and is available direct from their website. Since using mine, I get questions about it all the time – a great concept to put into place. I also know that I drink WAY more water if it tastes better and if it has a straw!



Your favorite children’s shoe now comes in adult sizes and styles! The preview we received that night had me craving ALL THINGS GIRL, but until then, I’ll settle for dressing up my friend’s daughters. The beautifully crafted shoes take style, function and comfort and marry them in the perfect foot companion. Think ruffles, glitter and more (don’t worry, boys are covered also!)


Fresh Wave

The official deodorizer for the Chicago Blackhawks, these fresh plant-based deodorizers will have you longing to de-smell your own home. I was beyond impressed with its ability to crush strong smiles like tuna and garlic without dousing my home in chemicals. I plan to use them in our shoe closet and sports equipment bags (not only masking the smells, but actually neutralizing them!)



Finally, one of my favorite features was the Dacron bedding. Pillows, mattress covers and duvets, oh my! It felt like I was sleeping on a cloud and I could have stayed there forever! The pillows will be found at Kohl’s this Fall in a variety of softs and firms to adjust to the different sleeping preferences of those in your home. I fear that if I outfitted my bed in Dacron, I would never want to get out of it! (I’m sure that’s probably their point…)


What are your #SassyMomsBTS must-haves?


Easy and authentic frozen lunch meals from HERDEZ®

Thank you to the makers of the HERDEZ® Brand for sponsoring today’s post and inspiring me to try the Cocina Mexicana Frozen Bowls!

With two boys and a busy schedule, we are always looking for ways to keep things quick and simple when it comes to dinner. Easy and authentic frozen lunch meals from HERDEZ® makes it simple to keep things together and get meals together quickly without sacrificing quality or flavor. The HERDEZ® frozen bowls are the perfect way to equip your family with meals without breaking the bank and keeping variety in your weekly meals. Variety is the spice of life and these meals keep things spicy!


Bring the Mexican restaurant experience home with authentic ready-to-eat meals that give you the bold Mexican taste you love in seconds. Available in 10 varieties, Cocina Mexicana meals have plenty of authentic flavor for the whole family.


With the same quality and freshness you expect from the HERDEZ® Brand, you’re savoring the best of traditional Mexican cuisine in every bite. Now available at select grocery stores. These products also work very well for dinner meals and keep things quick and ready to be prepared. Spicy flavors and good quality means that each time you serve it you know it’s going to be well-received and the perfect family dinner meal.

HERDEZ® Cocina Mexicana Frozen Bowls come in 10 delicious flavors, including the top 3 favorites are Beef Barbacoa, Carnitas with Charro Beans & Pork Chile Verde. I HIGHLY recommend the Carnitas with Charro Beans – served with a side of guacamole. Delicious!!

In what ways are you saving time and money? Do you use quick meals to keep your family fed and on-the-go? 



Pinterest in Real Life: 2014 Celebration of Design Gala

While covering all things Pinterest, I often get lost in the elaborate designs of home. Oftentimes, I create entire boards dedicated to how my dream house will look – from outdoor spaces to kitchens to elaborate porches. The people behind these designs often go unrecognized, but the American Society of Interior Designers – Illinois Chapter (ASID-IL) takes time out each year to recognize individuals that excel in fields of design.


For the 11th year, the ASID-IL will host the 2014 Celebration of Design Gala on Friday, Sept. 12, at The Langham, Chicago Devonshire Ballroom – located in the iconic IBM Building, which was masterfully designed by architect Mies van der Rohe. Defined by structural expression, organizational scale, material simplicity, proportion, and constructive detail, the IBM building is a Chicago landmark and an ideal setting to recognize and honor the best in contract and residential design inIllinois.

Awards for the Design Excellence Award Competition will be presented in the categories of Contract, Residential, Historic Restoration and Product Design. New award categories this year include “Outdoor Space – Contract,” “Outdoor Space – Residential” and “Singular Space – Residential.” The event program includes a cocktail reception, dinner and awards ceremony. Sponsors include Modern Luxury/Interiors Chicago as the event’s exclusive luxury media partner and Contract Magazine as the exclusive national media partner. I’ll be attending the event and will be able to give you a birds’ eye view behind the real Pinterest makers.

Individual tickets are on sale for $175 between Aug. 20 and Sept. 12 and will be $200 at the door. Tables of eight are $1,200.00. Tickets are on sale via the ASID-IL website

The American Society of Interior Designers – Illinois Chapter (ASID-IL) is a professional association representing the interests of more than 1,100Illinois interior designers, students and design industry partner members. Its vision is to be the voice of design in Illinois, to provide information through quality, timely communications, to educate its members and clients and to grow and support market expansion. ASID-IL is led by a volunteer board that includes the Chapter’s president, president-elect, five directors and a student representative.  Please visit for more information.