Garanimals Blog

Archive for the ‘Tips and Tricks’ Category

May 9th, 2014 at 9:34 am

Conquering Diet and Exercise Hurdles

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One thing that plagues me day after day is weight loss. What I have realized is identifying the biggest hurdles helps you gain control, so you can actively acknowledge and work on them.

Only eat when you are hungry.
You don’t have to eat just because food is in front of you or the rest of your family is eating. Pay attention to whether you are really feeling hungry or if you’re just craving taste. If you aren’t really hungry at dinner but want to eat with the family, choose vegetables with low carbs, low calories and low fat.

You aren’t respecting your portions.
Watch how big your plate is and how much food you are putting on it. Use a scale or measuring cup to see how much an actual portion is. Check out food labels to determine the portion size. As a rule, your plate should be half vegetables or salad, a quarter carbohydrates, and a quarter protein.

Watch what you drink.
Watch what you have in your cup. Remember that things like alcohol, juice, and soft drinks all contain calories and sugars. Sometimes a cup of these things may be as much as an extra snack.

You have no motivation.
Set some goals to give you something to work towards. Keep track of your food in a food diary, get up and move by using a pedometer, or even reward yourself for working out.

Failure isn’t your enemy.
A day of failure or even a moment of failure doesn’t mean that you should quit. Start over and tell yourself that you will do better next time.

What do you feel are some of your biggest hurdles?

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May 6th, 2014 at 10:08 am

Turning Your Photos Into Art

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Looking for a way to turn a terrific photograph into an even more terrific memento or piece of art? Here are a few ways to take you beyond simply enlarging and framing your prized photos.

A really fun site is AllPopArt.com. Turn a headshot into a superhero comic book cover, a Warhol-style pop art poster or comic-style artwork. They are a bit pricey but if you’re looking to immortalize your pet or family members in a artsy, fun or funny way, there are a lot of creative ideas here. It’s fun just to browse the possibilities. And there are some great Mother’s Day gift ideas. Hint hint…

Another Photo-to-Art option is MyDavinci which offers options for transforming any photo into photo sketches, pop art, caricatures, a DaVinci sketch, and more. Gorgeous.

For the free apps that unleash your own creative photo editing potential, try Fotosketcher (Windows app), for artistic treatments, Waterlogue (iPhone/iPad) turns your photos into watercolors, and PicsArt (all platforms), the hugely popular photo editing app.

And when you’re ready to commit your masterpiece to a final product, consider these options:

FractureMe is a service that takes your photograph and mounts it on glass. Send them your digital image and they will provide you with a ready-to-hang or ready-to-stand ‘Fracture’.

And Walmart, Costco, and EasyCanvas are a few sites that print your photos on canvas in multiple size options. These make incredible wall art.

Happy editing!

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April 24th, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Children, Clothing, and Confidence

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Children, Clothing and Confidence

Children start undressing themselves as early as 12 months old, usually by pulling off their easy-to-reach socks. After 18 months old, they start to show interest in their clothing and might complain when they’re uncomfortable in something, or show favoritism to certain items of clothing. They learn to dress themselves in stages and form opinions about the comfort and style of their clothes.

In our digital brochure, Children, Clothing, and Confidence: Putting It All Together With Garanimals, we discuss how important clothing is to a child’s confidence, and offer tips on knowing when they are ready, how to encourage them, etc.  Garanimals was founded in 1972 based on the idea that there is a connection between a child’s clothing and self-esteem. Well-known psychologist, Dr. Joyce Brothers, stated, “Garanimals…helps the pre-schooler to handle his/her own wardrobe. That sense of ‘I Can’ fosters the child’s growing sense of independence.” Although we no longer utilize the matching tag system from our early days, our entire collection can be easily mixed and matched, allowing kids to dress themselves and feel confident in their abilities, independence, and personal style.

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April 22nd, 2014 at 9:00 am

It’s Easy to Buy Green with GoodGuide

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Looking to do your part to help be kind to the earth? How do you know which products are greener than others or what company is rated better in terms of ethics and safety?

What if there was an easy way to look up a product and find out if it is organic, fragrance-free, or produced using best practices like fair trade, recycled material, or honoring human rights?

GoodGuide.com is a website that can give you all of this important information about thousands of products, from diapers to laundry detergent to pet food to cars. Using a ratings system, their team of environmental scientists evaluate the products on a scale of 1 to 10 so you can easily tell which products make good sense environmentally, and which ones you might think twice about.

The site is very easy to use and provides lots of good information. You can customize the criteria to reflect the categories that mean most to you, whether it’s health, environment or social responsibility. And if you use the mobile app, you can scan the product code in the store and know right away if the item fits the bill. If you install the transparency filter on your web browser, it will reveal the GoodGuide rating of any item you shop for online.

This is pretty handy stuff and very enlightening. Get the real scoop on the product’s footprint, not just the marketing babble.

Happy Earth Day!

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April 10th, 2014 at 12:07 pm

10 Easter Egg Hunt Tips

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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!

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April 7th, 2014 at 1:40 pm

100 Easter Basket Fillers

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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!

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March 31st, 2014 at 7:28 am

DIY Scarves

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Scarves are all the rage, and just because winter is over doesn’t mean they need to be packed away in the closet. During spring and summer, choose scarves that are lighter material and have brighter colors. Have you ever tried making one yourself? Check out some of these great DIY scarves!

32 Easy DIY Scarves - I really like the tie-die infinity, braided infinity, ruffled, stenciled, and circle scarves for spring!

No sew rosette scarf - This would be a great way to dress up a tee or tank.

Arm Knitting – An easy, new trend. This is the best tutorial I have seen!

Ruffled Flower Scarf

Felt Flower Scarf

10 T-shirt Scarves- All 10 of these are on my to-do list!

You will find me wearing scarves all year long!

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March 28th, 2014 at 8:23 am

Multi-Use Foam Bath Letters

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When they were younger, my boys loved playing with foam bath letters during bath time. They helped them learn to spell and read simple words, as well as recognize letters. Now that they take showers, we don’t play in the bath tub much, but we still love to play with the letters. I want to share with you some ideas for using this great learning aid outside of the bath!

  • A great way to repurpose foam letters is to glue magnets on the back. Use them with a magnet board to make word play fun!

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  • You can also use them to practice words on the kitchen table, floor, or other flat surfaces.
  • Sensory bins are a great way for children to explore shapes and other items. Ever think of using the letters inside of a sensory bin?
  • Make baby photos cuter by using the foam letters to spell out their name or current age in months.
  • Decorate your child’s room by mounting words like FUN, PLAY, or even SLEEP in shadow boxes to make word art.
  • Let your kids use them in art projects by gluing them to their pictures.
  • Make letter flash cards by gluing the letters to one side, along with a picture of a recognizable item that starts with that letter.

Our foam letters are well used and loved at our house…how do you use yours?

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March 27th, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Spring Gardening Preparation

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If you like to garden, or want to start one, now’s the time to get ready for planting! (Did we mention that April is National Gardening Month?) As the ground thaws, soil needs to be prepared in order to create the best growing medium for your plants. Different types of plants require different kinds of care, including the timing of their planting, exposure to sunlight, supplemented nutrition, watering, spacing, and harvesting. Get your kids involved and let them help you however they can. Here are some basic guidelines for starting your spring planting.

  1. Determine your frost date. If you live in an area where you get a true winter, it’s important that you know your area’s frost date to avoid planting too soon. There are quite a few online resources to help you figure it out. Try Dave’s Garden…you just put in your zip code and it tells you your frost risks and timing.
  2. Choose your plants. Gather your bulbs and seeds and determine which ones need to be planted first. Some plants can survive colder temperatures.
  3. Section your garden. Plants should be grouped by type and care. Vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, etc. should have their own sections. Keep their “requirements” in mind when you create your sections…some need lots of direct sunlight, while others thrive in shady spots.
  4. Test your soil. You should first make sure the soil is ready to be prepared. Heavy soil that is still wet from snow and rain will not let your plants breathe. You can tell it’s ready when you pick it up, squeeze it into a ball with your hands, and then drop it, or poke it. If it crumbles into small particles, it is dry enough to be worked. If it breaks into large clumps or stays in form, it is still too moist. Not all soil is equal, so learning a bit about your native soil will help you understand when it’s ready.
  5. Prepare your soil. There are a lot of things you can do to improve the medium your plants grow in. Without going into too much detail, consider looking into the various soil-improvement methods, including pH testing, composting, fertilizing, tilling, mulching, etc. Hint: Used coffee grounds and egg shells make great fertilizers!
  6. Plant! When your soil is ready, plant your seeds and bulbs, take care of them and watch them grow! Garden maintenance can be tedious, but rewarding. Make sure you water and fertilize as needed, and don’t forget to pick those pesky weeds!

Do you have a garden and have tips to share? Post them and/or pictures of your garden on our Facebook page!

 

Photo Credit: www.ivillage.com

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March 25th, 2014 at 8:03 am

A Few Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Gadgets

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Are your phone and keyboard starting to look a little icky? Ever wish you could just run them through the wash? I’d rather not think  about just how dirty and germy our devices get. Ew. Obviously we can’t hose them down with bleach and disinfectant, so here’s a few safer ways to get and keep your gadgets a little bit cleaner.

The best tool for starters is a can of compressed air to clean out the crumbs between keys and blow off dust. Another option is to keep a small paintbrush handy to do the job. And for your screens, the simplest way to clean it is a lint free cloth slightly dampened with water (distilled if you have it). Q-tips dampened with a 50-50 mix of alcohol and distilled water gives you a little more cleaning power and help remove the sticky stuff.

Taking it to the next level, there are products available that are specific to some of these tasks. CyberClean  is a cool putty-like product that dirt, dust and germs stick to as you dab it on your device.

Some other products out there include a Roomba-like vacuum that rides over your device and picks up the dirt and germs. There are also various wipes, brushes, suction devices and cleaning solutions. Here’s Mashable’s rundown of some of the more interesting ones.

And to keep your iPhone or iPad clean every  time you store them, try the NueVue device cases that have built-in anti-microbial protection.

A clean device is a happy device. Regularly wiping and blowing out of debris is a good practice. But be careful with vacuum cleaners – they can suck the keys right off your keyboard. Ask my Fn key.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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