Monthly Archives: May 2013

Spotlighting Momtrepreneurs on The Today Show!

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I’m excited to be back on The Today Show today talking with more awesome momtrepreneurs! I’m so inspired by these moms who do it all and love being able to share their stories.  Check out these two awesome moms and their businesses (and don’t forget to tune in to see our conversation!)

Christi and JoAnn are the two moms behind LockerLookz, a company that provides awesome mix-and-match locker accessories. Before they became momtrepreneurs, they were family friends who watched their preteen daughters get excited about decorating their very first lockers…and then come up empty-handed with attractive, easy and cost-effective ways to do it. So they took locker-decorating matters into their own hands…and LockerLookz was born. Based in Plano, TX, the LockerLookz mission is to provide a creative environment and let their customers express themselves in a positive way in both educational and social settings. Check out their website here!

Kelly Billington is the founder of Bella Baby Photography, a nationwide company that serves over 250 hospitals with in-hospital newborn photography. Before founding Bellla Baby, Kelly was a single mom with two young sons, trying to find a way to support her family and still be home with her boys. Then she came up her her momtrepreneur idea: offering newborn photography packages to hospitals. With a mission to deliver artistic, natural newborn portraits to new parents, Bella Baby photography also offers photojournalistic-style portraits for all kinds of family moments! Visit the website here.

I love hearing stories from amazing moms like these! We’re excited to be building an inspiring and supportive momtrepreneur community here at Moonfrye.

Do you have a momtrepreneur story of your own? Share your story in the comment section below–we’ll continue to spotlight awesome momtrepreneurs and want you to be one of them!

Getting Ready for Summer: Simple Tips for Sunny Days

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It’s hard to believe that another summer is almost upon us but there’s no denying it; The sun is stronger, the days are longer and there are already a few more freckles on our flock’s fair skin.  With just a few weeks left in the school year, now is the time to start prepping for those hazy, hopefully lazy, days of summer.  Here a few tips to get you started:

  • It’s all in the bag… or is it?  Create a handy summer checklist to ensure you and your tots have everything you’ll need for a day at the beach, pool or park.  Then pack it up and leave it at the ready in a closet or even the trunk of the car.  Ours includes sunblock, beach towels, hand sanitizer, wipes, insect repellent and a handy little first aid kit for summer’s inevitable boo-boos and bee stings. With a bag full of pre-packed essentials, you’ll be on the beach in no time at all!
  • Shop ‘til you drop!  Well, maybe not quite until you drop but you should definitely stock up on summer supplies and take advantage of early season sales.  Your little one’s cute suit from last year almost certainly won’t fit (for the record, mine doesn’t either but that’s another story!) so hit the mall or shop online for everything from bathing suits to sun hats to sand toys and towels.  Now is when you’ll have the best selection at the best prices so go for it… ready, set, shop!
  • Pack the pantry.  Really.  Who wants to spend a summer day at the grocery store? Or drug store?  Buy in bulk now and you’ll have more time to soak in the sun later.  We stock up on everything from sunblock to paper plates and popsicles to hot dogs.  Knowing that we can spend an extra hour at the pool without worrying about sunburns or what’s for dinner is one of the simple joys of summertime.

And isn’t that what summer is all about?  Simple pleasures.  Sand castles. Ice cream cones.  And yes, little freckled faces too.

DIY Cereal Box Crowns

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Turn your little crafters into stylish kings and queens with these awesome recycled cereal box crowns! With simple supplies and a lot of imagination, they’ll have all they need to be rulers of the land.

What you will need:

Empty cereal boxes

Pencil

Scissors

Glue

Paintbrushes

Glitter

Wooly pom poms

Hole punch

Ribbon

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Instructions:

Using scissors, cut cereal boxes into strips 5″ wide and 12″ long.

Trace a pointed crown design onto the cardboard in pencil, either free hand or using a ruler for guidance.

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Using scissors, carefully cut out the crown design.

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It’s time to decorate! Using the blank side of your cardboard crown, get creative with glitter and pom poms. For extra unique crowns, create pictures with crayons or markers.

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Punch a hole on each end of the crown strip.

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Thread ribbon through each hole. Tie a bow and let the fun begin!

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DIY Sidewalk Paint

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Here is a SUPER fun outdoor activity for kids of all ages! (My girls are just 1 and 2 and they LOVED it!) You can make your own sidewalk paint with just a few ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. I tested out several sidewalk paint recipes, and this one was by far my favorite. It’s the perfect activity for a sunny afternoon. Best of all, it’s safe. No harsh chemicals for you to worry about getting on your babes or on the grass/plants nearby.

What you need:

2 cups water

1 cup cornstarch

Food coloring

Paint brushes

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Directions:

1)     In a jar with a lid, shake together water and cornstarch

2)     Divide into containers (I used a muffin tin for easy clean-up!)

3)     Add a few drops of food coloring to each container and stir

4)     Take the paint out to the sidewalk and let your little ones go to town

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If the mixture starts to harden, just stir again. When you are ready to “erase” your sidewalk masterpiece, simple spray with water. Your paint will simply dissolve.

ENJOY!

Crashing Waves

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Photo Credit

“We are tied to the ocean.  And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.”

-John F. Kennedy

Few things are more humbling than standing at the very edge of the ocean while the waves crash in one after another with a force that both scares and fascinates.  When the horizon appears endless and the sea deep and mysterious, the little things seem to fade away.

The enormity of the ocean with its mighty, crashing waves has long proved a metaphor for many facets of life.  The waves might symbolize grief for some, hope for others, and longing for those who remain in search of dreams.

And while the ocean is large and overwhelming at times, the ocean can also feel small.  It is the ocean, after all, that keeps us all connected.  In one way or another, the ocean reaches out and makes the world a smaller place.

And yet, I always find it humbling.

Standing side-by-side, our feet bare and our hands connected, Liam and I breathed in the salty air while staring out at an endless line of blue.  He broke the silence with an observation fit for a four-year-old in awe of the greatness before him…

“I think it’s bigger than forever, Mommy.”

“I think you’re right, sweet boy.  I think it is.”

Parenting is full of shifting emotions.  Moods change with the wind when you’re small, and parents have to manage those moods as they arise.

Crash.

There is always something to be done, it seems, and always something that was left undone when darkness finally creeps in.

Crash.

There are amazing moments of awe and wonder followed by less than amazing moments of tears and sorrow.  There are milestones and lost teeth, and there are separation and independence.

Crash.

And then there is the mom guilt.  Oh, how the mom guilt can overtake the soul when a frazzled brain seeks silence and rest.

Did I do enough?  Was I mom enough?  Did I love them all equally?  What about my husband?  Did he feel loved today?

Crash.

Our hearts are pulled in different directions from moment to moment.  Although we know that we love them all with every fiber of our beings, we still wonder which way our hearts went at times.  When the days are long and the nights never-ending, we still manage to question ourselves.

Because parenting is hard sometimes.

Crash.

And we screw up on occasion…

Did I forget to go to the bank again?  Did I fill out that permission slip?  Did I remind that other mom of the allergies?  Is there any milk left in this house?

Crash.

Standing at the edge, where the water crashes into the sand, I am always struck by the sheer insignificance of the little things.  The very things that seem so huge in the moment feel small and meaningless when I look out into the water, wondering what’s really out there.

Perhaps that’s why the ocean calms me.  Perhaps that’s what draws me in.

Life is a series of moments, it seems.  Some feel huge while others feel small, but they are all moments just the same.  Moments can be amazing, but moments can also be stressful.  Moments can trigger both positive and negative emotions, if we let them.

At the end of the line, when the kids are grown and we look back on our parenting journeys, we will piece the moments together one by one like a jigsaw puzzle.  It’s up to us to celebrate and internalize the amazing moments along the way, and let those insignificant, stressful moments roll back with the tide.  Because at some point, all we really have are our memories.  And we get to choose which memories make it into the finished puzzle.

Let go of the mom guilt.  Let the small, stressful moments fade away.  Learn from the mistakes but take comfort in the amazing.

The moments will continue to crash in…it’s up to you to savor the good ones.

DIY Paper Flag Cupcake Toppers

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Want to make your celebration extra special? Try our awesome paper flag cupcake toppers. It’s such a fun craft to do and will make any gathering more festive! This craft is great for kids’ birthdays, tea parties, and picnics all year round. Have fun!

What you will need:

Colored craft paper

Scissors

Glue

Toothpicks

Small paintbrushes

Frosted cupcakes (or any baked party treat!)

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Instructions:

Cut colored paper into 1/2″ by 4″ strips.

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Fold each strip in half and place a toothpick in the fold.

Paint glue onto the inside of each half of your paper strip.

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Press the sides together and allow glue to dry.

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When the glue is dry, use scissors to make two diagonal cuts into the strip, meeting in the center to form a triangle.

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Use your finished paper flag cupcake toppers to decorate your sweets!

A Cookie Conversation

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When my girls were younger, craft projects ruled the weekends.  Seasonal crafts, painted pictures, and glitter messes filled long afternoons. Little girl painted poster projects have evolved into doodle pads and gel pens as my girls are now ‘tweens and enamored with their tech toys. Believing still, that creativity fuels creativity, I am determined each weekend to set aside time away from the lure of our ipads and streaming movies. I want us spending time together -and for this there is nothing better than a cookie conversation; creating sugar cookie art.

I pull out the mixer early Saturday morning as I finish my coffee. The patio french doors stand open, letting in a slight  cool breeze as the Arizona morning sun spills onto the kitchen table . It lingers, casting a glow that warms and awakens. I put my 12 year old daughter in charge of gathering, measuring and mixing the basic ingredients, and thirty minutes later the dough is chilling in the fridge.

After lunch, the real prep begins. Pastry paint brushes and bright food coloring are chosen and drops of color are added to small bowls of egg yolk to create “ paint”. Sugar sprinkles in every bright spring color stand at the ready. Once the shapes are cut, each cookie is painted before the sugar is added.

Today my girls are fashion designers, choosing the best color combos for shoes, shirts and pretty purses. Spring is on the scene with mini butterflies painted in pink and covered with blue sprinkles.

The girls are content to work side by side, happily using their hands to create. We talk about summer, flip flops, hot days, ice cream and bathing suits. The girls giggle, and tease and lay their cookies next to one another -calling dibs on their works of art, as they look forward to the instant gratification of dessert when the first batch is done.

I look at them like this, chatting and helping one another as I sit next to Zoe and I imagine what they can’t- my girls grown. I wonder if these lazy afternoons spent making cookies will hold  special memories for them someday.

Later at bedtime, I pour Zoe’s milk and she chooses some of her mini cookies to snack on, carefully selecting her own handmade creations.  She tells me what fun she had, “ making cookies” with her sister and I realize then, that I have given her a gift I never imagined. Her big sister, has been starting to retreat from Zoe’s world of Barbie’s and make believe, preferring to write and draw, listening to her music in the quiet of her own bedroom. This afternoon spent making cookies. . gave Zoe the gift of “play” side by side with her sister… again.

My Mom’s ( Adapted ) Old Fashioned, Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Recipe

What you will need:

  • ½ cup shortening  
  • ¼ cup butter   ( I substitute half with greek yogurt here) 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar  ( Can experiment with your own substitute)
  • 2 eggs  ( I do use eggbeaters) 
  • 1 tsp of zest from a small orange ( I zest and then micro mince my zest)
  • 1 tsp. real vanilla ( the good stuff!) 
  • 2½ cups all purpose sifted flour ( kids love to do this!)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt ( I use light salt) 

Instructions:

1. Mix the shortening, butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla with an electric mixer. Mix completely, adding the sifted flour, baking powder, and salt and mix just until the dough is combined. Divide the dough in half in a flattened circle, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for approx. 4 hours.

2. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle cutting board with flour , roll out the dough to ⅛” thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut into your favorite shapes. Bake 6 to 8 minutes, on parchment paper, until cookies are a delicate golden color around the edges.

3. You can decorate with colored “paint”  before baking, ( remember when mixing your colors that you are starting with a yellow base- so add food coloring choice to your base. I use eggbeaters for this . You can then add colored sugars or sprinkles before baking  or frosting after.

Hints & Tips:

I give each child a floured cutting board to roll out dough and cut . ( A pizza peel works in a pinch too!) We cut on floured cutting boards and move the cutout cookie to a parchment covered cookie sheet for ease in decorating. The girls have a blast decorating their cookies.Keep dough chilled removing enough for each batch, just before using. It works best when chilled.  Zoe prefers to snack on the mini cookies, so arrange each sheet by cookie size and keep an eye on the smaller cookies as the bake time will be a few minutes less.

There are lots of great cookie cutter theme shapes online- shop around and enjoy the fun!