16 Surprising Things to Do with Ice (It’s Not Just for Cocktails!)

Summer is sizzling but we’ve got a few chill tricks up our sleeves when it comes to beating the heat and entertaining the kids. Your secret weapon? Ice. Yep, good old frozen water. From ways to spike your mocktails to sensory play that melts away, read on for 16 refreshing ways to re-think the clink.

photo: Angie Six via flickr 

Eat & Drink

1. Making iced coffee? Make some iced coffee cubes! Freeze a little leftover coffee in a tray and the next time you are making yourself a cool, chilled coffee drink use these instead of regular ice. Your drink won’t end up weak and watery.

2. Ditto for iced tea. Splash a little iced tea or lemonade into an ice cube tray for a great way to chill your tea without watering it down.

3. Get spriggy with it. Toss in a sprig of lemon thyme or mint for a the perfect splash of herby-goodness in your cocktail, mocktail or cold water.

photo: einladung_zum_essen via pixabay

4. Fruity fresh! Freeze raspberries, blueberries or pomegranate seeds into your ice cubes for a special twist on water or lemonade. The blueberry ones are perfect for teething babies.

5. Fancy pants. Use edible flowers frozen in ice and serve the single most fancy glass of water on the block. Delicate violets, nasturtiums, lavender, calendula and even dianthus or carnations work perfectly.

6. Leftover rules. Use leftover juice from canned peaches or pineapple to make tiny popsicles that will also add a spike of sweetness to your tea or sparkling water.

7. Shine. If you happen to have edible glitter around you can swirl some into the water after you’ve filled the cube trays; or try adding a couple of sprinkles.

photo: silviarita via pixabay

8. When it doubt, make popsicles. You can make these in an ice cube tray or a popsicle mold, or even a paper cup with a popsicle stick in the center (you’ll want to add the stick about half-way through the freezing process). Here are our favorite recipes for you to try this summer!

9. Keep it simple. Serve your drinks in an extra frosty glass. Just run water over the cup and place in freezer for a few minutes. Instant-frosty mug!

photo: Cliff Johnson via flickr


10. Shapey things
. These days you can find ice cube trays (or use candy molds) in all kinds of shapes and sizes, including LEGO bricks, dinosaurs and more. Freeze them in different colors and lay them out on a tray for adorable play that will make you melt.

11. Smells n”ice.” Who knew you could use ice for a scent-sensory experiment, using classic items from your spice rack? Check out how Lemon and Lime Adventures did it, and then set up your own version.

12. Ice science. A proper experiment really doesn’t get much simpler than a muffin tin with ice and a few key ingredients, designed to see what makes ice melt the fastest. The Chaos and the Clutter has an easy tutorial you can follow so you can literally execute this cool project in less than ten minutes.

photo: Adam Tuttle via flickr

13. Painter’s palette. Use food coloring to tint the water in the tray different colors and make colored ice cubes. Once they’re frozen, let the kiddos paint with their new icy watercolors! You can also throw these colored cubes into the bath or kiddie pool for some extrasensory excitement.

14. Excavation station. Take a few toys, like small cars, rubber duckies, even LEGO minifigs and freeze them in water. Use a nice tall container to get a tower or a big bowl. You add a few toys, let the water freeze a bit, then stash in a a couple more to get a well-balanced icicle. You can equip them with a butter knife, plastic knife or spoon or a stick to begin the scraping. For younger kids, let them just go free-hand. We love this bejewled rainbow version from Fun at Home with Kids

15. Frozen IRL. Make a big batch or buy a bag of ice cubes and get stacking. Using a bit of water to help them stick, race against the clock as you stack and form an ice castle fit for Elsa. Got a few Frozen-themed toys around the house? Get them in on the fun! Make ice beds, ice chairs, ice tables, walls and more.

16. Chill, baby! Looking for cute sensory play for your smallest set? Check out these awesome frozen sensory bags that are safer for babies but still keep them stimulated and cool on a hot day!

Got any cool ideas for ice play or sensory treats? Tell us in a comment below! 

—Amber Guetebier

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The Best Kid Tracking and Safety Gadgets

If your kids have been enviously eyeing your Apple watch, they’ll be more than happy to get their hands on the Gizmo Gadget, a sleek phone/watch combo from Verizon that’s designed just for kids. It’s perfect: Your phone-addicted tots will be able to call and text (and receive calls and texts from) up to nine pre-set numbers without being distracted by the games, internet access, or apps that usually suck them into screen time. The Gadget also has GPS locating capabilities, so you can pinpoint your little wanderer anywhere she goes.

Just-for-fun features include a step-counter, a to-do list, a compass, a voice-changer (so you can get your messages by way of “robot”) and a “fun sounds” button that can play a few seconds of silly sound effects. All that and, of course, it tells time.

Note: Parents of younger kids might want to choose the simpler Gizmo Pal, which has no screen and can only call (and receive calls from) up to four numbers. 

Best for ages: 5+

Cost: $149 plus a $5 monthly service fee for Verizon users (For non-Verizon users, a Single Device Plan costs $10 a month.)

Online: verizonwireless.com

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10 Chore Charts for Parents

If the words “pick up your dirty laundry,” are on a constant loop, welcome to the club. Keep your daily routine in order and chart a course for clean this summer. We’ve picked 10 of our favorites chore charts that range from toddler to teen, and electronic to seasonal. A few are free, and a few can be purchased for a nominal fee. And really, isn’t a few bucks worth paying to keep our sanity in check? Click through the slideshow below to see them all.

Modern Rewards

This chore chart is made of reclaimed wood that you can personalize in any color. There are nine clips, each with an assigned chore card. Simply clip a reward to each task: You can add dollars, extra screentime minutes, a treat, etc. We love the modern design and simple organization of this chart.

Available at sealedwithakissgift at etsy.com, $25.50

photo: Courtney Hanson via sealedwithakissgift

Does your family use chore charts to help teach responsibility? Tell us which are your favorite!

— Gabby Cullen & Leah R. Singer


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Food Prep Shortcuts for Parents

When it comes to feeding a crew of hungry kids, we’ve never met a shortcut we didn’t like. It’s time to hack your way to easier mealtimes and snacks with clever ideas from resourceful parents everywhere. From eco-friendly containers to serving up eggs with a little heart, flip through the album below to see 14 clever food and cooking shortcuts you need to try today.

Use Magnets to Keep Water Cups Handy

Talk about having a “why didn’t I think of that” moment. If your kids are anything like ours, then you probably go through a few water cups every day. Cut down on needless dishes with this awesome cup hack from Dana over at Made Everyday.

photo: Dana Williard via Made Everyday

What’s your best food and prep shortcut? Let us in on the secret in a Comment below!

—Gabby Cullen & Aimee Della Bitta

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6 Ways Sun Basket Will Save Your Life

If visions of soggy cheese pizza dance through your head when you hear the phrase “meal-from-a-box,” you’re in for a satisfying surprise with Sun Basket. The good-for-you meal kit service delivers (in a box) sustainably-sourced, organic ingredients and delicious, easy recipes. Read on to find out how Sun Basket is giving fast food a brand new image while helping to make you a whole lot healthier and get 50% off your first order

1. Healthy Menus for Picky Palettes
Whether you’re following a Paleo diet, your mini is gluten-free, or your family is exploring vegetarianism, there’s a recipe for you. How it works: Simply choose three recipes per week for two to four people from any of the classic meal plans (Chef’s Choice, Rise and Shine Breakfast, Paleo, Gluten Free, or Vegetarian). Best part? You can mix and match recipes to suit your family’s needs.

2. Undercover Veggies
Foodies of all ages will love the Family Menu (2 or 4 meals a week that feed four people; $9.99/serving). Each kit includes one recipe per week created by Chef Tyler Florence of the Food Network, who is known for sneakily hiding veggies in kid-appealing dishes. Think: summer squash and black bean tacos with cabbage slaw and turkey and spinach meatballs with corkscrew pasta and marinara.

3. Pure Produce, No Fillers
Sun Basket, which currently ships to most zip codes in the United States, minus AK, HI, MT, and parts of NM, fills each kit with 100 percent certified USDA organic ingredients, free from hormones, toxic fertilizers, pesticides and genetic engineering. The result is a completely natural product that you’ll leap to share with the littles.

4. Less Cook Time, More Decompress Time
Since each Sun Basket meal can be whipped up in under 30 minutes, you have more time to squeeze in a heart-saving workout or soul-saving hugs from your kids. Or, you can take a nap…that’s good for your health, too!

5. Nutritionist-Approved
In addition to being designed by award-winning Chef Justine Kelly, all recipes are vetted by an in-house nutritionist. All meals are between 500–800 calories, and balanced with nutrient–dense produce, whole grains, protein and good fats.

6. Teeny Carbon Footprint
It’s no secret that by saving Mama Earth we’re saving ourselves. Sun Basket agrees, which is why their packaging is 100 percent recyclable and compostable. For example, the insulation is made from recycled water bottles and the ice packs are made from a gel that’s 98 percent water and 2 percent organic cotton!!

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11 Easy Ways to Surprise Your Kids for Wacky Wednesday

When it comes to goofy, no one knows quite how to embarrass like a “cool” mom or dad. Garner some affectionate eye rolls and squeals of delight with these fun and silly actions perfect for when you just feel like doing something different. All of them can be done spontaneously and are all about family time. Scroll down to get inspired.

photo: Harsha K R via flickr 

1. Eat breakfast outside. We know you’ve done breakfast for dinner before, but what about doing a quick picnic breakfast on your front lawn or front stoop?

2. A quick playdate. If you’ve got school-aged kids (or kids in daycare) and the policy allows, surprise your kiddo by joining them for lunch. Not enough time to do a lunch break? See if you can meet up for the first ten minutes of recess.

photo: cegoh via pixabay

3. Plan a surprise trip. It doesn’t have to be a whole vacation, you could just pack a bag and head to the zoo for the day. Just don’t tell them where you’re going. Up the game by offering little clues. For example, if you’re heading to the zoo, hand them a small toy animal, put a stuffed animal in the car seat next to them, and feed them animal crackers.

4. Nest. Build a fort in the living room and bring your tablet or laptop inside to watch a movie.

photo: Pexels via pixabay

5. Did somebody say ice cream? Eat dessert first.

6. No work day. If you can swing it, take the day off work (this is perfect for summertime) and spend an unplanned day with the kids.

photo: Viktor Karppinen via flickr

7. You can dance if you want to! Drop everything and start a freeze-dance party. Play music and then stop it at random intervals so everyone can“freeze” in place.

8. Regift at home. Have each person choose an item from their room to give to another member of the family. Spend time wrapping them and do a family-wide gift exchange.

photo: Camilla Nilsson via flickr 

9. Wear something backwards or upside down. (Come on, your preschooler does it all the time!) You can also have the kids pick out your outfit for the day. Or just wear PJs all day long (slippers, too!)

10. Have a talent show. Let each member of the family choose what they want to showcase for the “audience.”

photo: Brian Dewey via flickr

11. Get outfitted. Fill a box with hats, scarves, capes, silly wigs, old jewelry, neckties, sunglasses, etc. and play dress up. Stage a funny family photo shoot and a parade.

12. Make a wish. Make a book of wishes and let everyone write down their top three. Revisit the list in a month and see if any of the wishes have come true.

Beanstalk NE Fremont is celebrating its fourth birthday and we’re celebrating in style. Bring the whole family for kid-friendly fun including: • Face painting (10 am-4pm) • Raffle prizes from Beanstalk and neighboring businesses • Sidewalk sale on Saturday and in-store special discounts taking place all weekend up to 50% off Our Montavilla location will be hosting a store wide sale all weekend (up to 50% off) with raffle give-a-ways on Saturday as well. A portion of the proceeds from our sidewalk sale will support the fundraising efforts of local area schools. For more information, please visit beanstalkpdx.com. We hope to see you there!photo: Beanstalk 

13. Get a facial! Do some face painting in the middle of the day. Let the kids paint your face too. 

14. Take a glow bath. Want to wash that face paint off now? Take a (non-toxic) glow-in-the-dark bath. See the tutorial here. Or if you’re in the mood for a shower, take one with your raincoat on. Hot out? Try washing your hair with a hose on the lawn.

photo: Melanie Holtsman via flickr

15. Sleep in. Have a camp out in your living room: the whole family sleeps in sleeping bags and you can roast marshmallows on the kitchen stove. Co-sleep like you mean it. 

What are your wacky or fun ideas for surprising the kids? Share your ideas in the comments below! 

—Amber Guetebier with Sandy Pelto, Henrik Pelto, Steve Pelto & Ken Pelto

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11 Best Meal Delivery Apps for Families

Most Amazon Prime users easily can extol the virtues of Prime membership, but it’s likely that few know about using the Amazon Prime Now app to order meal delivery via Amazon Restaurants, which can deliver dinner to your door in an hour or less. Now available in more than a dozen cities and with select restaurant partners, Prime members also can use Alexa’s voice-shopping function on their Amazon Echo or Echo Dot to re-order previously ordered meals by saying a restaurant name or cuisine type. Best of all, delivery is free to Prime members.

Available for iOS and Android.

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Beach Hack for Parents

Sandcastle building, swimming, and lounging in the sun: a beach trip is truly summer at its best. Don’t let your next trip bum you out, though: we’ve got ways to make sure you stay cool, protect your assets and even keep sand out of your car (well, kinda). Click through the gallery for 15 ideas that will make your next trip to the beach so much easier.

Chill the Sunscreen

Once you’ve lathered your kid up, stash the sunscreen in the cooler, where it will be nice and cool for the next application. You’ll lower his body temperature and keep him sun safe at the same time, and grown-ups will enjoy this welcome chill, too.

photo: Jen via flickr

Do you have any beach hacks to share? Tell us in a comment below!

—Natasha Davis & Amber Guetebier



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Apps For Parents with Sick Kids

When it comes to tackling family health and wellness, proper preparation and education are often more than half the battle. The British Red Cross has developed a clever app, Baby and Child First Aid, that’s chockfull of useful video tutorials and easy-to-follow advice that cover what to do when various ailments or medical crises arise. The app also lets parents record their child’s medication needs, and includes a list of tips and a handy checklist. While the emergency numbers in the app are for UK users, the information and advice are useful to anyone, anywhere in the world.

Available for iOS and Android, Free.

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