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About the author  ⁄ Christina Montoya Fiedler

Christina Montoya Fiedler is a Los Angeles native - born and raised. Before becoming a mom, and writing for various parenting sites so she could be home full time with her son, she was a publicist representing environmentally progressive architects and contractors - one of whom just finished building a home completely out of parts from a Boeing 747. Now that's cool!

Thinking about throwing a circus-themed party for your big top loving tot? Check out these applause-worthy treats that will leave your crowd wanting more.
tightropewalkercake

Walking the tight rope

This easy DIY cake topper is perfect for any circus themed party — whether it’s for kids or adults. Let the colors pop against the backdrop of vanilla bean frosting. It’s all in the details with this one. Yum!
Photo courtesy of OhHappyDay.com.

clowncupcakes

Clown cupcakes

Gummy worm smiles, fruit cereal hair and licorice eyes. You can’t get any more sweet (or cute) than that. These clown cupcakes are the perfect treat for any circus-loving kid.
Photo courtesy of ImpromptuParties.com.
circuspeanuts

Circus peanuts

Peanuts! Get your peanuts here! With all the food allergies out there, it’s probably best to stay away from actual peanuts, so these candy substitutes are just the right choice.
Photo courtesy of Etsy.com.
dumbellpops

Dumb bell pops

Chocolate-dipped marshmallows and candy straws make up these strongman dumbbells. Use piped frosting to mark each one with its weight.
Photo courtesy of CatchMyParty.com.
AnimalCrackers

Personalized animal crackers

Animal crackers. These perfectly portable packs of cookies are too cute not to include in a circus-themed spread. What could make them better? Personalizing them with the name of the birthday boy or girl.
Photo courtesy of CatchMyParty.com.
cottoncandy

Colorful cotton candy

What circus would be complete without cotton candy? Cute striped boxes are filled with colorful spun sugar. Finish each one off with an “admit one” ticket for the full affect.
Photo courtesy of OntoBaby.com.
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Pretty pachyderms

The big top wouldn’t be the same without elephants. Bring these majestic animals — only smaller — to life at your party. Chocolate molds, melting chocolate and lollipop sticks are all you need.
Photo courtesy of Rosebud Chocolates on Etsy.com.
elephantpolkadotcookies

Polka dot cookies

While we’re on the elephant tip, let’s get a little crazy with the polka dot kind. These bite-sized cookies are so pretty, they serve as great decorations as well.
Photo courtesy of  Sugar Me Desserterie on Etsy.com.

Moms, what treats would you serve up at a circus party?
Read More →

Bagels, eggs, champagne, bacon. We’ve all seen these staples at Easter morning brunch. But where’s the punch? Where’s the fun? These recipes are sure to amp up appetites and kick Easter brunch up a notch — from fun to fantastic.
bananacrossiantpudding

Banana Almond Croissant Bread Pudding

I love all these words. Love them. How could you go wrong? The only way it could be better, maybe, is with chocolate. But why mess with perfection. This recipe is easy to follow, but it will look like you spent hours in the kitchen.

Photo courtesy of ItstoDieFor.com
eggsinabasket

Updated Eggs in a Basket

Eggs in a hole are so old school, but this recipe takes them to a new place. Whether you wrap your eggs in philo dough or in a popover, these savory treats will go fast.

Photo courtesy of TipJunkie.com.

BeesKnees

It’s the Bees Knees

Tired of mimosas? Looking for something a little…stronger? Yep, us too. This cocktail is full of springtime flavor with fresh juices, honey and gold rum. Who’s ready for another round?

Photo and recipe courtesy of BevMo.com.
Bunny Bottom Pancakes Recipe

And Something for the Kids

These bunny bottom pancakes will make kids squeal with delight. The added dollop of whipped cream and fresh berries may have them asking for seconds.

Photo courtesy of 17apart.com

frenchtoastbites

French Toast Shots

French toast can be messy, especially when you are serving things up family style. These cute French toast sticks are nestled in their own shot glass of syrup. They’re dunkable and totally delicious.

Photo courtesy of RareDIY.com

baconpancakes

Bacon Pancakes

Everything is better with bacon. That includes these pancakes. You can make these ahead of schedule and warm in the oven right before serving time. Once you have one, you’ll want another so make plenty.

Photo courtesy of TheBerry.com

 

Moms, what are you serving for Sunday brunch?
Read More →

Another holiday, another craft. Amiright, moms? But these easy Easter crafts are going to make you rethink your love hate relationship with the glue gun. These six ideas are fast, and fun. Plus your kids are going to have blast. Check them out!

potatostamps

Potato Stamps

Chances are you already have everything you need for this easy craft. Parents, you wash and cut the potatoes. Kids, you dip the potatoes into the paint and go crazy on some construction paper. The design ideas are endless. Grandma’s gonna love this one hanging on her refrigerator.

Photo and craft courtesy of SassyDealz.com

partycarrots

Carrot Place Settings

Look, you’re gonna need help dressing up the table for Easter. Might as well put the kids to work. Grab some orange napkins, green pipe cleaners, and green plastic silverware. Wrap it all together to look like a carrot. Easy, peasy.

Photo and craft courtesy of Spoonful.com.

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Minion Easter Eggs

Can we just say that 2013 was officially the year of the minion? These Despicable Me 2 Easter Eggs are a cinch to make and are a great way to keep small hands busy.

Photo and craft courtesy of AThriftyMom.com.

peeps

A Little Something for Your Peeps

Wondering what to do with all those peeps laying around your house? Give them away! This craft makes for colorful giveaways either for your child’s classmates or your guests.

Photo and craft courtesy of DetailOrientedDiva.com.

easterhandprintcrafts

Bunny Prints

Small hands make for cute art. Try your luck at these smile-worthy bunny prints. White and pink paint is really all you need. You can do it on construction paper, or if you really want to get fancy you can make it into an ornament with felt.

Photo and craft courtesy of FunHandprintArt.com.

bunnytoiletpapercraft

Rabbit Rolls

Upcycle those toilet paper rolls and use them to make this cute bunny craft. Construction paper, google eyes, and a sense of humor required.
Photo and craft courtesy of Easy-Crafts-for-Kids.com

Moms, what are your favorite springtime crafts?
Read More →
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butterscotchbars
chocolatebiscotti
tripleberrygranolacrisps
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caramelpopcorn
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trailmixcookies
triplechocolatecheesecake
chocolatecherryminicakes

Yes, it’s already March — a mere three months since we’ve made those New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and get fit. But, are we really sticking to those promises? Keeping things strict and sweet free is a surefire way to stray from diets. And there’s no better time than during National Nutrition Month (yeah, it’s all month long). Here are 10 low-calorie desserts that pack on the sweetness but not the pounds… all of them fall at 200 calories or under!

Butterscotch bars
These buttery bars come in well under the 200-calorie mark and are 100 percent delectable. Try one with a cup of tea for a great late night snack.

Deep dark chocolate biscotti
Whether you’re dipping these in your morning coffee or snacking on one with a glass of cold nonfat milk, this crispy crunchy treat will leave you feeling satisfied.

Triple berry granola crisp
Granola isn’t just for breakfast. Try it in this recipe for a crispy treat featuring a berry trifecta of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries as a sweet treat.

Blueberry lemon tart
Tart lemon and sweet blueberries come together in this creamy dessert. They’re so beautiful, you might even want to make some for your friends — that is, if you can make them last that long.

Black forest banana split sundaes
Feel like a kid all over again, by making yourself this nostalgic treat. The deep dark chocolate is the perfect pairing for the natural sweetness of ripe bananas.

Caramel popcorn
Crunch away on a handful of this caramel popcorn because it’s only 200 calories per serving. You can keep your Cracker Jacks, we’ll take this stuff any day.

Peanut butter caramel apples
Rich peanut butter, sweet caramel and tangy granny smith apples. Need we say more? This is a treat the whole family will love, and one that you can feel good about serving.

Trail mix cookies
Chances are you might have all the ingredients for these stick-to-your-ribs cookies right in your cabinet. These cookies are big on flavor but small on calories.

Triple chocolate cheesecake bars
Cheesecake for less than 200 calories? It can be done! With a dose of three different kinds of chocolate, these cheesecake bars will satisfy even the biggest sweet tooth.

Chocolate cherry mini lava cakes
These mini cakes are the perfect portion size. And the molten chocolate center is just the right amount of gooey goodness.

We’re confident that you’ll love these low calorie desserts as much as we do! Which one is your favorite?
Read More →

swaddletechMost of us know SwaddleDesigns‘ iconic label that shows three baby images in various stages of swaddling, so parents always have a quick reference of how to wrap their babies in cuddly closeness. But now they’ve come up with something even better.
swaddleclub-logo

A smart swaddle?

Meet the world’s first tech-savvy smart swaddling blanket. In a world where we are literally glued to our smartphones — this only makes sense. Right next to their patented 1-2-3 swaddle instruction tag, you’ll find a separate tag with a QR code that can be scanned with your smartphone to get exclusive access to the SwaddleClub which contains sleep advice from The Happiest Baby on the Block author Dr. Harvey Carp, calming MP3s like white noise and rain on the rooftop, plus lots more.

swaddledesignsscreenshot

How It Works

That square image on the tag? It’s a QR code — a scannable barcode that downloads information direction to your phone. It’s the same technology that we use in apps to download music, nutritional information or games from other labels. If you don’t have an app for scanning QR codes, you can download one for free on iTunes or GooglePlay.

Scan the label with your phone and you’re now a part of the SwaddleClub. You can stream calming white noise, instructional videos, quick tips and parenting references, all in the palm of your hand.

Moms, what do you think of this new tech-savvy baby product?
Read More →

As the mother of a LEGO obsessed kid, our household has been counting down the days until the premiere of the new LEGO Movie. And if you ask me, I’m not sure why this movie didn’t come out sooner! With the thousands of products and even more fans out there, this was the most logical step.

And last week, we were lucky enough to get a sneak peek of this highly anticipated film.

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LEGO movie plot

The LEGO Movie story follows an ordinary LEGO minifigure Emmet, voiced by the hilarious Chris Pratt, who is mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder (a minifigure who can build anything out of everything). He is then recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO tyrant from gluing the universe together.

The movie packs big action and even bigger laughs. Emmet comes up with some crazy ideas including a double-decker couch that just happens to save the whole gang. You’ll have to see the movie to find out how he does it.  HINT: It’s not what you expect!

willandelizabethlegoCelebrity dad Will Arnett plays a sarcastic, brooding LEGO Batman who is the love interest to Elizabeth Banks’ spunky Wyldstyle. “My son calls it the LEGO Batman Movie and I’m okay with that,” says Arnett.

Morgan Freeman (Vitruvius), Will Ferrell (Lord Business), Charlie Day (Benny), Liam Neeson (Good Cop/Bad Cop), and Nick Offerman (Metal Beard) also round out the cast.the-lego-movie-poster-will-ferrell-411x600

The song in the movie, “Everything is Awesome,” is performed by a mega watt list of pop stars including Tegan and Sara, the Lonely Island, and a rapping Andy Samberg. I swear to you that you’ll be singing this song for weeks. I’m still singing it — in the car, in the shower, at the store… it’s nearly impossible to get out of your head.

The amount of cameos in the movie is unreal. Check out Jonah Hill as the LEGO Green Lantern and Channing Tatum as LEGO Superman.

So, should you go see The LEGO Movie? Yes. A thousand times. And, I’m pretty sure that your kid will be asking to see it again and again. I’m not sure my son blinked the entire movie.

Moms, how excited is your kid to see the LEGO Movie?
Read More →

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Love, love LEGOs!

LEGOs have been a big part of our life since as far back as I can remember. My 5-year-old son, Joe, is totally obsessed. He spends a good part of his day building and rebuilding. So it’s no surprise that as soon as he saw the preview for The LEGO Movie, he was totally hooked and couldn’t wait to see it.

And, last weekend, we were lucky enough to be invited to LEGOLAND California for the big LEGO Movie weekend.

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We spent two days in the park itself riding a ton of attractions, oohing and aahing over intricately built LEGO sculptures, climbing through huge themed playgrounds and eating all the fun food that comes along with visiting a major theme park.

IMG_0801As part of the press event, we met LEGO Master Builder Erik Varszegi who helped us build UniKitty, who I suspect will be one of the most popular characters in the movie. At this point my son’s head was about to explode with excitement.

IMG_0779The LEGOLAND Hotel: Paradise for kids

And then there was the hotel — the LEGOLAND Hotel — the hotel to end all other hotels. As you pull up to the entrance, you are immediately greeted by those ever-familiar bright primary-colored blocks. But, they’re more than what you’ve imagined. The LEGOs are masterfully built into giant sculptures. Upon entering you are greeted by a giant LEGO pit where kids can jump right in and start building. The wall behind the check-in counter is completely covered with thousands of LEGO Minifigures. And if you have a kid who loves LEGOs, you know the appeal of these little people. So often kids are told to not touch, but not here. They are encouraged to be hands-on.

IMG_0815Tons of fun at the LEGOLAND Hotel

The hotel lobby is like a self-contained fun zone for kids. Throw in the fact that there’s a full bar that serves awesome San Diego microbrews and you’ve got happy kids and parents!

There are three levels of the hotel including jungle, castle and adventure — where we stayed. There’s a party in every elevator ride. It plays the “everything is awesome” theme song from the movie and a disco ball on the ceiling shines on everyone. There are literally surprises around every corner, from the larger than life LEGO models in Bricks Café to the whoopee cushion (complete with life-like sound effects) on the rug near the elevators.

We stayed in the Adventure-themed room – think Indiana Jones, but in LEGO form. It had a separate bunk bed area for the kids and several LEGO sculptures throughout. And if you completed a scavenger hunt in the hotel you would reveal the code for the treasure box in the room!

Later on that night, we enjoyed a worry-free dunk in the pool, thanks to a full-time lifeguard all the way up until closing. And the giant foam LEGOs floating around were a hit. Not sure who had more fun, the dads or the kids.

the-lego-movie-poster-elizabeth-banks

But the highlight of the weekend was a Q&A with super mom Elizabeth Banks, who provides the voice of leading lady Wyldstyle. She was fab in a black and grey striped dress, black moto jacket and sleek boots. Very sassy!

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Elizabeth Banks shares

When asked what her kids thought of the movie she said, “They call my character LEGO mommy, and I’m OK with that. I feel super-privileged to provide little girls such a strong role model with Wyldstyle.”

And the one thing she loved the most about being an voice actress instead of being on camera? “I never had to arrive to set three hours early for hair and makeup. I could be barefoot and comfy in the sound booth. I like to be grounded and able to bounce and jump while I’m acting out my lines. It’s a good workout.”

Her thoughts on motherhood surely echoed what lot of us feel, “If we knew how hard motherhood was, the entire human race would would end. But in all seriousness it’s amazing and rewarding.”

Moms, what are your thoughts on the new LEGO movie? Are your kids as excited as ours to see it?
Read More →
bumbleride2
Save the planet!

I try to be as eco-friendly as I can. I recycle. I buy local produce. I conserve water. I carpool. But when it comes to caring for my newborn, I feel a bit guilty. Just thinking about the number of disposable diapers I’ve used in the past few weeks gives my green heart palpitations.

Bumbleride strollers are eco-conscious

Well, here’s a little something that can easy my conscience — meet Bumbleride strollers and accessories. They boast a unique blend of eco-conscious recycled plastic and bamboo-derived rayon fabrics in bright, fashionable colors to give parents an environmentally-friendly, yet stylish, stroller option in which to explore the great wide open. How’s that for reducing your family’s carbon footprint?

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Awesome colors

Available in vibrant, fashionable hues like Cayenne Red, Aquamarine and Green Papyrus, Bumbleride’s 2014 all-terrain, jogging, travel and urban strollers are eco-friendly for two main reasons:

* The exterior fabric is made with 50 percent recycled PET from plastic bottles. In fact, 14 recycled plastic water bottles go into the making of just one Bumbleride stroller.

*The interior fabric consists of 50 percent renewable bamboo charcoal. This provides a soft, durable, moisture-wicking, temperature-regulating antibacterial fabric for the seat and interior of the stroller.

Just goes to show that you don’t have to give up style to be an eco-friendly Earth mama.

Moms, which one of the Bumbleride strollers is your favorite?
Read More →
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Planning a birthday party for your big boy? It seems that when they were little, party planning was a piece of cake. Pirates? Been there. Super heroes? Done that. What moms of big boys really want are some awesome out of the box ideas for big boy birthday parties. And we have them right here for you! So get your party planning hat on, and take a look at these awesome big boy birthday party themes that are guaranteed some oohs and aahs from guests and friends alike.

Whatever the theme, your big boy birthday party is bound to be tons of fun. Let your son take part in the planning and preparations, or make the whole thing an awesome surprise and don’t tell him a thing! Here are some of our favorite big boy birthday party ideas.

1. Lego: With the new Lego movie coming out in just a few weeks, this is sure to be a very popular birthday theme amongst boys of all ages.

2. Harry Potter: The books and movies might be finished, but this party theme is going to last for a while. Decorate for your own wizard in training with these Harry Potter essentials.

3. Camping: Bring a little of the outdoors indoors with this camping themed party. Pitch a few tents, set up a s’mores station and let the kids go nuts.

4. Construction: So your little guy might have liked Bob the Builder in preschool, but this takes the construction theme to a whole other big boy level. Let the kids decorate their own construction hats, make tool belts out of craft paper, and dig into the cake and ice cream.

5. Mad Scientist: If your guy has ever wanted to try the Mentos in Diet Coke trick, then this theme might be for him. Everyone gets their own white lab coat and a try at an experiment or two.

6. Star Wars: Be the hero of the galaxy by throwing your young Jedi a party he’ll never forget. The Force is strong with this one.

7. Gone Fishing: Let the kids fish for gift bags, hook some treats, and catch a few big laughs with this fishing themed party.

8. Beachy Keen: With the polar vortex hitting more than half the country pretty hard, might we suggest a beach themed birthday party? Beach balls, colorful blankets, yummy snacks, and surfer tunes will go a long way in making the day memorable.

For more party ideas, check out these other mom approved sites:

@chickabug, @4everyourprints, @HWTM_Jenn, @frostedevents, @MCountryDesigns, @spoonful_com, @rusticwhite

Moms, what are your favorite big boy birthday party themes?

Read More →

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baconmacandcheese
limechickentacos
texastortillasoup
winterrattatoui
asianfish
tumeric
bbqflatbreadpizza
grilledshrimp
springris
mushrooms

My New Year’s resolution is pretty much the same every year — lose the baby weight and get healthy. But this year, it’s going to happen. Why? I’m not getting any younger and it’s all about feeling good, having energy and being happy. So I wondered… what if I could find healthy dinner ideas to change it up a bit in 2014 but still not fret over extra calories? And just take a look at these 400-calorie dinners. Dieting never tasted so delicious! If this is what healthy eating looks like, count me in.

Bacon mac and cheese

Lime chicken tacos

Texas tortilla soup

Winter ratatouille

Asian fish in parchment paper

Turmeric spiced mushroom pilaf

Barbeque chicken flatbread pizza

Barbequed shrimp with whole wheat couscous

Spring risotto

Stuffed portabello mushrooms

For more tasty recipes that pack a hefty flavor punch, but are light on the calories visit these sites:

Health.com

TheShineProject.com

JasonandShawnda.com

Shape.com

Delish.com

FitSugar.com

DashingDish.com

WomansHealthMag.com

Prevention.com

Annies-Eats.com

Moms, what do you cook when you’re looking to cut calories?

Read More →

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