Garanimals Blog

Archive for the ‘family’ Category

May 8th, 2014 at 11:10 am

Mother’s Day Experiences

By

Mother's DayExperiences

As we get older, it becomes increasingly harder to choose gifts for our parents (or for our own children and significant others to choose gifts for us!). Earlier this week we talked about some unique, handmade gifts for Mother’s Day from Etsy, but sometimes it’s nice to offer a fun or new experience instead of an item. Here are some ideas for experiences you can give your mom (or your children can give you) this Mother’s Day.

  • Homemade Lunch at the Park – Check out some gourmet-style recipes for things like pasta salad and sandwiches, pack a yummy picnic, a blanket and some portable games and treat your mother to lunch in a nice outdoor setting. She’ll appreciate the time you spent preparing, as well as the time she can spend with you!
  • Day at the Spa – Everyone likes a day of relaxation. You can take her for a day at the spa or nail salon, or save money by doing the treatments yourself! It doesn’t have to be professional to be enjoyed…offer a nice manicure/pedicure with massage, or if you’re feeling ambitious, research how to give a good DIY facial or body treatment.
  • Daycation – No matter where you live, there are usually a few nice places to spend a full day that are within a few hours of travel. Plan out a day of fun, whether it be shopping and a special restaurant, a tourist attraction you know she’d love to see, etc. Consider botanical gardens, beaches, zoos, aquariums, museums, etc., and work around that to create a full day of quality time with her.
  • Tasting Menu – You likely know what type of foods and beverages your mother likes best. Treat her to a unique tasting by offering 3 or 4 mini-portioned variations of her favorite things. Include a drink menu, appetizer menu, main course menu and dessert menu. It sounds like a lot of work but it will excite her to try different things. You can always pay for tastings at wineries, breweries and restaurants if you don’t want to make them yourself.
  • Weekend Getaway – Thanks to deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, weekend getaways are more affordable than ever and often come as packages with activities, meals, or credits. There’s something for everyone and it’s nice to treat yourself too!

What experience would YOU love to get for Mother’s Day?

Pin It

May 5th, 2014 at 7:51 am

Mother’s Day Shopping on Etsy

EtsyMothersDay

I love when my family gives me unique gifts for Mother’s Day. Whether it be a handmade item that my boys made or a handpicked item someone else made, it always holds a special place in my heart. I love Etsy because you can buy things that are unique, and it has that craft fair or boutique shopping feel, as well as TONS of items to choose from!

I also love to pick some favorite things that my husband can help the boys purchase for Mother’s Day, my birthday, Christmas or just because! I keep an Etsy “wish list” that has lots of great gift ideas from artisans all over the world.

Handmade, Hand-Stamped Necklace with Children’s Names

Family Tree Necklace with Birthstones

Infinity Ring

Hand-Stamped Birthstone Necklace

Mom Wood Sign

Mom’s Garden Flagstone

Soccer Mom T-shirt

Here are some great gifts for your own mom:

Custom Map Print

Wood Block Sign

Magnetic Picture Board

Looking for something else? Be sure to check out the Etsy Mother’s Day collection. Share some of your favorite Etsy items in the comments and on our Facebook wall!

Pin It

April 25th, 2014 at 6:52 am

Get Your Family Moving!

DSC02245.JPG

Life is different for kids these days – between video games, television, busy schedules and long car rides confined to car seats, there isn’t as much time for physical activity. We have to think about making our lifestyles more active and making physical activity a part of our everyday life. Here are some ideas to get your whole family moving more.

Have a Dance Party. Turn on some music and go crazy. The kids love doing this especially when parents are involved.

Set Up An Obstacle Course.

Take A Bike Ride. Add a bike carrier for little ones that can’t ride themselves. Take a ride to the park or a long ride around town. In summer we love to take a ride to the nearby ice cream shop for a treat at night.

Take Walks. Strap your little one in the stroller and take a walk. Not only is the fresh air great, but the change of scenery can be a good change of pace. Go to a nearby trail and have everyone walk along.

Exercise During Commercials. Make commercials fun for the whole family with some of these great ideas.

Make Exercise Challenges. Kids love challenges. In January, I was practicing my plank, increasing my time every night. My kids loved to do it along with me and try to beat me at it. Do this with sit-ups, push-ups, and even flexibility. We love to race to the car or house door when arriving home from outings as well.

Do Yard Work As A Family. A great workout can be achieved by raking, shoveling, or even pulling weeds. Work together as a family to get stuff done around the house.

Hold A Sports Night. Do you often have a game night? During nice weather switch to a sports night. Play tag, jump rope, soccer, tennis or any other fun game that involves activity.

Take The Stairs or Park Farther Away - Park at the back of the parking lot or take stairs when they are available. Your kids will think this is the norm!

What do you do to help your family be more active?

Pin It

April 18th, 2014 at 10:20 am

Making Hard Boiled Eggs for Easter Egg Decorating

DSC09829

My boys’ favorite part of Easter, next to looking for their Easter baskets, is dyeing eggs. Every year we make five dozen hard boiled eggs to paint, dye, color, and shrink-wrap. The hardest part of this is learning how to effectively hard boil eggs. Here is my method:

Tip: Eggs that are several days old are easier to peel.

1. Lay the eggs in a single layer in a pan covered by at least and inch or two of cold water, which will help with cracking. Turn the heat up to high to bring the eggs to a boil.

2. Once the water starts to boil, remove the pan from the heat. Reduce the heat to low and return pan to burner. Let simmer for one minute. If you miss the eggs starting to boil then you can skip this step because they have most likely already boiled for a short while.

3. When a minute has passed, remove the pan from the heat, place a cover on top and let sit for 12 minutes. Remove the eggs and place in a bowl of ice water until the eggs are cooled. Strain the water and store the eggs in a covered container. Hard boiled eggs last about 5 days in the refrigerator.

Once the eggs are made you can use various methods to dye them. There are many different egg decorating kits available at stores that are easy to use. Last year, I covered a slew of ways to decorate your eggs. I made the egg in the picture simply by dyeing it yellow and using sharpies to make it into a chick. See what fun you can have with your eggs?

How do you like to decorate your Easter Eggs?

Pin It

April 17th, 2014 at 9:22 am

Easter Bunny Visit

unknown

Easter morning is almost here and the kids are so excited! On Christmas morning there are presents under the tree, stockings have been filled, and cookies have been eaten. But, if the Easter Bunny hides all the presents, how do they know that he or she has arrived?

When I was younger, all the empty candy dishes on the dining room table were magically overflowing with treats. My mom had a huge sweet tooth, so it wasn’t a problem having all that candy around our home. I am not a huge candy fan, so I came up with alternatives. At our house, the Easter Bunny leaves two empty buckets with a note of how many eggs to find. You can also leave some carrots on a plate and in the morning, the kids will wake up to see the Easter bunny has taken a bite!

Here are some other fun traditions for you to consider:
Easter Bunny leaves paw prints
Easter Bunny decorates breakfast table
Easter Bunny forgets to flush
Easter Bunny colors your milk
Easter Bunny dyes your breakfast eggs
Easter Bunny leaves a message
How will your kids know that the Easter Bunny has visited?
Pin It

April 14th, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Celebrating Library Week

By

10150578_10152338536274771_1568963132436250250_n

Did you know that April 13 through 19 is National Library Week? Books are so important to a  child’s development. Besides teaching them how to read, they also foster bonding, creativity, and imagination. Libraries have a lot to offer their communities, and they are a great learning resource for families. Check out your local library this week and see what kind of events and classes they offer for your little ones. In honor of National Library Week, here are some of the most popular kids books of all time that you can check out at your local library or bookstore!

  • Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
  • The Giving Tree – Shel Silverstein
  • Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown
  • Green Eggs and Ham – Dr. Seuss
  • Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs – Judy and Ron Barrett
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – Judith Viorst
  • Guess How Much I Love You – Sam McBratney
  • Pat the Bunny – Dorothy Kunhardt
  • Love You Forever – Robert Munsch
  • The Lorax – Dr. Seuss
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? – Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon – Crockett Johnson
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom – Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
  • Corduroy – Don Freeman
  • Stellaluna – Janell Cannon
  • Oh, The Places You’ll Go – Dr. Seuss
  • Strega Nona – Tomie dePaola
  • Curious George – H.A. Rey
  • Jumanji – Chris Van Allsburg
  • The Little Engine That Could – Loren Long and Watty Piper
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter
  • If You Give A Mouse A Cookie – Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond
  • The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales – Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
  • The Runaway Bunny – Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
  • The Rainbow Fish – Marcus Pfister and J. Alison James
  • The Snowy Day – Ezra Jack Keats
  • Madeline – Ludwig Bemelmans
  • The Napping House – Audrey Wood and Don Wood
  • The Cat and the Hat – Dr. Seuss
  • The Polar Express – Chris Van Allsburg
  • Hop on Pop - Dr. Seuss

There are so many other great books, both classics and new, that kids around the world enjoy every day. Which is YOUR favorite?

Photo Credit: American Library Association, www.ala.org

Pin It

April 11th, 2014 at 8:38 am

Planning an Easter Brunch

brunch

One of my favorite things about Easter is the meal. It’s the one time a year where we eat my favorite meal, breakfast, with lunch as well! There are so many different things you can do with brunch. Here are some things to consider when planning your meal.

Buffet or Served Plate?
Personally, I like to offer my brunches as a buffet. This way, everyone can choose what the foods they like best, and they can control how much they take of each. Seconds are much easier to handle as well.

Planning Your Dishes
When choosing food types, you want to consider the time it will take to make them…simpler recipes will allow you to enjoy your party more. Some things that are easy to make ahead of time are breakfast casseroles, pancakes, quiches, scrambled eggs, waffles, french toast, and fruit and vegetable platters. Also think about things like taco bars or waffle bars, where your guests or family can personalize them and put them together. I also like to include a deli meat selection, pulled pork, or shredded chicken or beef for build-your-own sandwiches. Ham, lamb, and chicken are typical Easter meats, so you can offer one of these as well…especially if brunch is the main meal you’re planning for the day. Here are some categories you can incorporate into your brunch:

  • Egg dish
  • Pancakes, French Toast, Waffles, Crepes
  • Meat Dish
  • Potato Dish
  • Bread Dish (Easter bread with dyed hard boiled eggs is a nice idea!)
  • Light Pasta Dish
  • Salad or Fruit
  • Dessert

Drinks to Serve
Have fun with the drinks – think about coffee, juices, water, and milk. You can also make fun punches or alcoholic drinks like mimosas, bellinis, and sangrias for the adults.

Brunches can be lots of fun, but portions are difficult to control, so make sure you have enough food on hand. My guests always get excited when they hear i’ll be serving brunch – the BEST of breakfast and lunch!!

 

Pin It

April 10th, 2014 at 12:07 pm

10 Easter Egg Hunt Tips

By

 

734375_4705179752789_1630396432_n

As a child, my favorite part of Easter was the egg hunt in our backyard. My siblings, cousins and I would search the entire property for colorful eggs left by the Easter bunny! Now, as an adult, I love watching the kids have that same experience. Some of you may have only a few children and the hunt coordination is fairly easy, but if you do a multi-family egg hunt it can get pretty complicated…especially when it comes to keeping the peace when the kids have free reign and goodies are involved! Here are ten egg hunt tips to make sure everything goes smoothly.

  1. Decide on a set number of eggs each child will get. I recommend plastic eggs so you can hide prizes inside, but some people like to hide real eggs.
  2. Choose a variety of prizes to fill the eggs with. Make sure things are age appropriate. Some good ideas are: Change or dollar bills, candy, erasers, whistles, stickers, hair clips, small toys, temporary tattoos, bracelets, etc. You can also have one or two special eggs for each child with a note inside that they can trade in for a big toy that wouldn’t fit. You can find some great, affordable prizes at your local Walmart!
  3. If you have a small scale egg hunt, give each child an egg color or size so there is no confusion as to which eggs they should look for. If you have a large scale egg hunt, decide on egg colors or size per age group, i.e. Ages 2-4 can only take red and yellow eggs, ages 5-9 can only take blue and green eggs, etc. That way, they will get the appropriate goodies for their age group and you know how to appropriately hide them so that they’re not too difficult for little ones, or too easy for older ones, to find.
  4. Set an appropriate time for the hunt. Keep in mind when it starts to get dark in your area and allow the kids ample time before sundown. Also keep in mind that the kids will want to play with and eat their prizes right away, so plan it around your meals.
  5. Decide on the area you will hide the eggs in and,  if necessary, use flags to create boundaries so the kids don’t go looking in the wrong places. It also provides an element of safety so you can make sure that they don’t wander off or go into areas where they might get hurt.
  6. Write down where you hide the eggs. I can tell you from experience that it’s easy to forget after hiding a bunch of them!
  7. Hand out baskets to make it easy for the kids to collect their eggs. A fun way to prepare for this is to let them decorate and personalize their egg hunt baskets a day or two before Easter!
  8. Designate egg hunt “moderators” who can help the kids find the eggs if they have trouble and get frustrated. For little ones, they can guide them in the right direction.
  9. Designate a few people to handle photography and take pictures of the kids hunting for the eggs. These moments are precious and will be special memories to look back on!
  10. Make a rule that no one can open their eggs until each child has found all of their eggs. Patience is a virtue!

What do YOU have planned for the egg hunt this year? Share with us on our Facebook wall!

Pin It

April 8th, 2014 at 9:03 am

Apps for Expectant and New Parents

unnamed

Baby on the way? Congratulations! Such an exciting, expectant, and nerve wracking time, especially if it’s your first. So much to learn, so much information about what to do and not to do. It can be overwhelming. But, while there’s no app for the hard parts, there are plenty of apps that can help you prepare.

Hello Baby app for iPhone  is a great way to learn about all of the stages of growth of your baby during pregnancy. It’s full of images and information that can help you understand the magic that is happening in the womb.

There is also the What to Expect apps for both pregnancy and the early years. This trusted series of books has been invaluable for so many of us as we navigate all of the stages of babyhood.

Sprout ($4, iPhone only) is another really helpful app for information and tips on pregnancy, weight tracking, prepping for doctor visits and what to know about all that’s happening to your body right up to timing your contractions.

Baby Bump is another app that not only provides information on your pregnancy but also has a social networking component so you can share your experiences with other moms-to-be.

And if baby is here, how about something to help with nursing, and tracking your newborn’s progress in those critical early weeks and months? WebMD Baby  provides many resources and really useful information about sleep, growth, feeding, and milestones to help you through the fraught early days of caring for your child.

I wish these apps were available when my kids were born, especially in the middle of the night when you just didn’t want to call mom, again!

Pin It

April 7th, 2014 at 1:40 pm

100 Easter Basket Fillers

100EasterBasket Fillers

I love to watch my kids’ eyes light up when they find their Easter basket. We fill the baskets with candy and other favorite food treats for the little ones to enjoy, but every year I struggle to find other items to include. Here is a list of 100 items you can fill your child’s basket with!

  1. Pacifiers
  2. Pacifier Holder
  3. Headband
  4. Sippee Cups
  5. Bibs
  6. Onesies
  7. Musical Toys
  8. Garanimals Baby Toys or Foam Letters
  9. Small Stuffed Animal
  10. Toddler Cutlery
  11. Pajamas
  12. Magnetic Fridge Letters
  13. Umbrella
  14. Rain Boots
  15. Coloring Books
  16. Character Undies
  17. Hex bugs
  18. Crayons
  19. Bath Toys/Crayons
  20. Sidewalk Chalk
  21. Bubbles
  22. Fun Toothbrush
  23. Fun Shampoo
  24. Sunglasses
  25. Stuffed Animal
  26. Painting Smock
  27. Art Supplies (pencils, crayons, markers, paints)
  28. Art Kits
  29. Bubble Bath
  30. DVD
  31. CDs
  32. Blocks
  33. Fun Cups/Plates
  34. Frisbee
  35. Dress Up Items
  36. Play Jewelry
  37. Kaleidoscope
  38. Pool Toys
  39. Posters
  40. Fun Duct Tape
  41. Suncatchers
  42. T-shirt
  43. Top
  44. Kids Word Search
  45. Jump Rope
  46. Construction Paper
  47. Hair Pretties
  48. Yo-Yo
  49. Flashlight
  50. Book light
  51. Sandals/Flip Flops
  52. Beach Towel
  53. Matchbox cars
  54. Kite
  55. Play Tool Set
  56. Sand Toys
  57. Shovel and Pail
  58. Chapstick
  59. Bike Horn/Bell
  60. Watch
  61. Character Bandaids
  62. Temporary Tatoos
  63. Water Bottle
  64. Swimsuit
  65. Summer Hat
  66. Books – appropriate for child’s level
  67. Sticket Books
  68. Water Gun
  69. Nerf Gun
  70. Swim Goggles
  71. Lego’s
  72. Sporting Supplies or games
  73. Jigsaw Puzzle
  74. Balls
  75. Cards or Card Game
  76. Jacks or Marbles
  77. Tape Measure (my boys loved the keychain ones since they were toddlers)
  78. Doll
  79. Nail Painting Supplies
  80. Animal figures
  81. Magic Tricks
  82. Comic Book or Kids Magazine
  83. Bop it or Tangle Jr
  84. My Little Pony or other small horses
  85. Play Food
  86. Walkie Talkies
  87. Small Magna Doodle or Etch a Sketch
  88. Glow Sticks
  89. Small Musical Instrument (harmonica, recorder)
  90. Pencils/Pencil Toppers
  91. Action Figures
  92. Trading Cards
  93. Fun Socks
  94. Seeds and a pot
  95. Diary or Journal
  96. Video Game controller or new game
  97. Play Dough
  98. Bunny Ears
  99. Gift Cards to favorite stops
  100. Bunny Money

Feel free to share any other ideas I may have missed!

Pin It