This Mom Wants to Make Sure That Party Supplies Represent All Kinds of Kids

photo: Craft My Occasion via Kickstarter

Imagine that it’s your child’s birthday and you’re planning a big bash to celebrate. You head out to the party store (or go online) to buy enough paper plates, napkins and cups to keep the kids eating pizza, chips and cake, cake and more cake. Now imagine that the cartoon characters on the pint-sized paper products look nothing like your child. We’re not talking about trying to find an identical twin image here. Nope. We’re talking about birthday-ware that celebrates children of color.

When Lynnette Abbott, mom and owner of event planning company Craft My Occasion, was planning her own kiddo’s party, she noticed that none of the ready-made party supplies looked like her five-year-old daughter Anyah.

With a bevy of blond, blue-eyed party supplies out there, the mama wasn’t seeing anything that resembled her little girl. So she took to the drawing board (literally) and created her own design, along with graphic designer Ana Rako — a mermaid of color. In order to get her designs off the ground, Abbott started a Kickstarter campaign.

On her Kickstarter page, Abbott writes, “I chose a mermaid as our first design because I have been unable to find a brown-skinned mermaid anywhere.” She goes on to add, “I want my daughter, and every brown little girl on this planet to feel beautiful, acknowledged and loved each time they look at our party products and see themselves smiling back.”

Abbott proves that no one should sit back and just wait for someone else to make a change. She’s a change-maker who is making a difference in a major way!

What kid’s product would you like to change or create differently? Tell us in the comments below.

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Healthy Cookie Dough You Can Eat Right From the Container? YES, PLEASE

photo: P.S. Snacks via Instagram

Ahh, cookie dough. If it weren’t for the raw eggs and the ridiculous caloric content, we’d eat it after every meal (or instead of!). But wait! Now we can, thanks to gluten-free foodie Nikki Azzara of P.S. Snacks, who perfected a chickpea-based cookie dough that tastes like the real thing and spares you the guilt (and possible food poisoning).

P.S. Snacks Cookie Dough comes in three flavors — chocolate chip, peanut butter and fudge brownie — all of which contain no eggs, no refined sugar and no flour. They’re also all gluten-free and made from all-natural ingredients. The dough also only has about 3 grams of fat per 2 tablespoon serving.

photo: P.S. Snacks via Instagram

If you’ve got the will power to hold off eating it all right from the container, you can still cook the dough like any old batter to make cookies. Or, follow a few of Azzara’s recipes to use the dough creatively in snacks and meals.

Here’s the bad news: The dreamy dough is only available at these shops in and around Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. However, the company hopes to bring it to more stores, soon.

How much do you want this in your nearest supermarket? Tell us in the comments below. 

Just Opened: The World’s First Raw Cookie Dough Shop

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Airplane Crafts for Kids

Aeronautically inspired projects are the ticket to entertaining your aspiring aviator. We’ve got the schematics for everything from toilet paper roll airplanes to private runways, so gear up and get ready for high altitude fun. These 11 first class (air)crafts are ready for take off.

photo: Pink Stripey Socks

Toilet Paper Roll Airplanes
Pink Stripey Socks came up with this easy upcycle craft for her transportation-loving tyke using empty toilet paper rolls. You’ll need an adult to help with assembly, but crafters of all ages will enjoy decorating the aircrafts. Find a list of materials and the free template here.

Momdot - Matchbox Car Airplanephoto: MomDot

Clothespin Planes
Don’t be so quick to toss broken toy cars into the recycling bin. Trisha, the resourceful mom behind MomDot, repurposed the wheels and axels into the landing gear for these colorful clothespin airplanes. Find out how here.

Dirt and Boogers - Runwayphoto: Dirt & Boogers

Make a Runway
You won’t find long lines for takeoff on this private runway, created for the petite pilot over at Dirt & Boogers. Made using blue painters tape, this creative project can be easily peeled away and recreated anywhere in the house; or, make a reusable version like the one here and store after landing.

Fireflies and Mudpies Paper Airplanephoto: Fireflies & Mudpies

Giant Paper Airplane
We love this jumbo-sized paper airplane the crafty mom behind Fireflies & Mudpies made for only $1! Have the kids decorate the wings before heading outside for an afternoon of flight lessons. See these fierce flyers in action, and learn to make your own here.

The TomKat Studio - CI-Jessica-downey-Photo_Straw-airplanes_s4x3.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.616.462photo: The TomKat Studio

Straw and Paper Airplanes
Don’t let the unusual design of these airplanes deceive you…they can really soar! Kim at The TomKat Studio suggests building your fleet in an assortment of vibrant hues and hosting a flying competition. DIY Network has the blueprints.

Wills Casa - DIY Airplanephoto: Wills Casa

Wearable Plane
Put your aspiring pilot behind the wheel of her very own aircraft. A project for the seasoned DIYer, this wearable plane was made by Wills Casa as part of a Halloween costume, but would be perfect for pretend play year round. Estimated cost of this adorable prop…only $20. And the photos are priceless! Find the materials and how-to here.

Hello Wonderful - DIY Plane - photo credit - Marie-Laure Phamphoto: Marie-Laure Pham via Hello Wonderful

Construction Paper 3D Plane
An architect with a love of crafting, the mom behind La Maison de Loulou gave the traditional paper airplane a serious upgrade. Choose your favorite colors of construction paper and fly over to Hello Wonderful to find the free template and assembly instructions.

The Homes I Have Made_Bubble Wand Airplane_2photo: The Homes I Have Made

DIY Bubble Wand Airplane
By adding propellers, wings and a tail, The Homes I Have Made transformed a Dollar Store bubble wand into an awesome party favor. Pop over to the blog for the tutorial.

Sewing Mama RaeAnna - Candy Planephoto: Sewing Mama RaeAnna

Candy Airplanes
The hardest part of making this sweet aircraft is resisting eating the supplies. Sewing Mama RaeAnna put together these delicious takeaways for her son’s birthday, but this easy-to-make craft would be a great afternoon project…and snack. Learn how to make your own here.

Sunny with a Chance of Sprinkles - Popcorn Cupphoto: Sunny with a Chance of Sprinkles

Popcorn Cup Airplanes
The mom over at Sunny with a Chance of Sprinkles knows how to make movie night extra special. Adding a propeller and wings to classic red solo cups created special themed popcorn holders for an evening showing of Planes. Find the how-to and other movie-themed crafts here.

Mommo Design - DIY Airport from Pizza Boxphoto: Mommo Design

Pizza Box Airport
If you weren’t planning a pizza night, you will after seeing this awesome idea from Mommo Design. Instead of discarding the box, this crafty mom designed an airport for her little pilot’s assorted aircrafts. Complete with lit runway and control tower, find out how to make this recycled craft here.

Which airplane craft are you planning to make with your little pilot? Share with us in the comments. 

— Lauren Hill




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The World’s Most Amazing Slides

At the intersection of art and adventure is The Slide, the world’s longest, fastest tube slide. Starting 178 meters above the earth, daredevil riders will circle the red, Anish Kapoor sculpture 12 times, while trying to catch glimpses of London’s famous sights as they whiz by, before hitting the final 50 meter drop at the end. All in 40 seconds flat. Whee!

photo: London Legacy Development Corporation

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Study Shows Parents Are Stressing Over Lunches. Here’s Why

Study Shows Parents Are Stressing Over Lunches. Here’s Why

photo: Elizabeth via Flickr

Back-to-school mornings can be hectic when you’re trying to wake, dress, feed and move-out-the-door a bunch of little ones. So it’s not really a surprise that a recent study found that parents reported “packing lunches” to be a stressful addition to the morning schedule.

The study, conducted by the lunch delivery company Wise Apple, found that 85 percent of parents were “stressed” when preparing and packing lunches for their kids, according to ABC News affiliate KSPR. And it’s not just because they’re struggling to find healthy options to stash inside bento boxes; many parents worry about allergies — either with their children or other kids in the classroom.

And there’s reason to worry. According to the Food Allergy Research & Education Inc., approximately one in 13 children — or roughly two kids in every classroom — have a food allergy. And, about 30 percent of kids with food allergies are allergic to more than one food.

“[My] oldest is allergic to dairy, peanuts, corn, soy and eggs,” Cheryl Li, a mother of two girls, told KSPR. “The youngest is allergic to corn, soy, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, any nightshades, any food dyes or artificial sweeteners, and both of them are allergic to gluten. I spent a couple of hours yesterday preparing food to go with us today.”

But even if you’re not fretting over food allergies, sending kids off to school with a balanced diet packed in their lunch boxes can be tricky.

“About half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables, maybe a fourth whole grains, and fourth good lean, healthy proteins,” Mercy Hospital Registered Dietitian, Auvia Miller, said in the report.

Need some good ideas for lunches? Check out Red Tricycles Beyond the Boring Sandwich lunch ideas. And, check out these awesome bento boxes to make packing lunch a little less stressful!

Do you have any secrets for making lunch-packing easier? Tell us in the comments below. 

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Where You Can Still Attempt to Buy Eclipse Glasses or Make Your Own Safely

photo: Peter Corbett via Flickr

If you haven’t gotten your eclipse glasses yet, you’re not entirely out of luck. From a few last-minute places to check this weekend, to making your own DIY eclipse viewer, there are still ways you can safely view the event.

While it’s probably too late to score glasses online, there are a few spots you might want to check while you’re out and about over the weekend. According to the American Astronomical Society’s website, several national retailers you might not expect have been selling eclipse glasses in store. The AAS lists 7-11, Best Buy, Kirklands, Kroger, Lowe’s and Wal-Mart among several retail locations that have been selling the glasses. While there’s no guarantee which locations are stocking them or whether they have any left, it’s definitely worth checking when you make that Slurpee run.

Libraries across the country have also been giving away free glasses through the STAR Net program. While many have already run out, it’s a good idea to check with your local library in case they are hosting an event the day of the eclipse, in which case they may have some available for attendees.

If you’ve exhausted all your options, there are still a few ways you can safely check out the eclipse with nothing more that a cereal box and some other household items. Check out the video below from the NASA Goddard Space Center to learn how to make your own pinhole projector out of an empty cereal box.

What are your plans for watching the eclipse on Monday? Were you lucky enough to score a pair of glasses? Tell us in the comments below.

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One-Pot Black Bean Enchilada Pasta

If you’re pressed for time, this dinner recipe from Savory Nothings is a lifesaver—it comes together in less than half an hour. And since you only need one pot, cleaning up will be a breeze, leaving more time to enjoy the meal with your family.

4 cups small pasta shapes
1 can black beans
1 yellow pepper diced
1 red pepper diced
1 cup sweet corn
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup enchilada sauce
1-2 tbsp taco seasoning
4 cups water or broth
1/2 cup shredded cheddar plus extra to top (optional)
Cilantro, cherry tomatoes, lime wedges to serve (optional)

1. Place all ingredients except for the cheese and garnishes in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover and simmer until pasta is done, about 15 minutes.

2. Stir in cheese, and add more on top if you like. Serve with cilantro, diced tomatoes and lime wedges.

This recipe and photo come courtesy of Nora from Savory Nothings. Hop over to Nora’s blog to discover more simple recipes that your family will gobble up.

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Taco Dogs

We like to keep a stash of hot dogs in the freezer for those times when cooking up an elaborate meal isn’t in the cards. This twist on chili dogs from Mama Gourmand is the perfect way to make an old favorite new again—and it’s a guaranteed kid-pleaser too.

1 lb. ground sirloin or chuck
1 tbsp. chili powder
½ cup salsa
8 hot dogs
8 hot dog buns, regular or gluten free buns
toppings: cheddar cheese, avocado, sour cream, lettuce, green onions, Fritos or crushed tortilla chips

1. In a large nonstick skillet, cook ground beef with chili powder until cooked through. Drain fat if using ground chuck. Add salsa to meat and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Set aside to grill or cook hot dogs.

2. Spoon meat over hot dogs and top with desired toppings.

“Like” this story if you plan to make this recipe. And, then tell us how it turned out in the comments below.

This recipe and photo come courtesy of Melissa, a mother and food blogger who shares simple, family-friendly recipes at Mama Gourmand. Hop over to her website to find more recipes to fit your lifestyle.

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Here’s Why a Beach Trip Makes You Happier, According to Science

photo: Pixabay

School may be back in session, but you’ll want to make the most of those last warm summer rays with a weekend trip to the beach. According to studies, the ocean can actually have an effect on your mind and your mood.

What better way to combat the stress of the back-to-school hustle and bustle, than a calm relaxing day at the beach? As NBC News Better explains, there’s a good reason you feel so at peace after a day of splashing on the shore. Data analyzed in a study published in Health Place found that people who live near the ocean reported having better mental and physical health than those who didn’t.

As a recent Gallup poll survey of the happiest states in the country highlights, being in close proximity to the outdoors makes you happier, so it follows that living near the ocean would also be a great mood-booster. Not everyone can afford a beach house, however, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ocean’s calming effects. As Richard Shuster, PsyD, clinical psychologist, tells NBC News, practicing mindfulness while you’re on a short visit to the beach can make the effects last after you’ve left the sand behind.

“Focus on how your body feels warm from the rays of the sun, focus on what it feels like to have your feet in the sand, breathe deep and smell the ocean air.” Most importantly, you need to disconnect. Avoid Instagramming every sand castle and seashell and just be present.

Do you feel more relaxed after a day at the beach? Tell us in the comments below.

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