Planning a Fun Fourth of July

June 29, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Girl Talk

Fourth of July is a wonderful holiday to spend outdoors and really get into some fun things with your family and friends. Here are some of our best ideas for food, and more, this Fourth of July.

Fourth of July Menu

Everyone loves to have a fun, and delicious, menu planned for their Fourth of July celebration. Aside from traditional hamburgers, hotdogs, and ribs we know you’ll already be grilling up, give these sides, desserts, and appetizers a whirl!

This yummy potato salad can’t be beat-a perfect side to ribs, burgers, or steaks.

Bacon and Chipolte Potato Salad

What You Need:

  • 1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Tabasco brand chipolte pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped

Fix it Fast:

  1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water; add 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and cook 12 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain and cool.
  3. Meanwhile in a small bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, Tabasco sauce, mustard and garlic; mix well.
  4. Place potatoes in a large bowl with bacon and eggs. Add dressing and toss to coat.
  5. Season to taste with salt.
  6. Cover and refrigerate.

Quick Pasta Salad

What You Need:

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Cucumbers, cubed
  • Red Onions, diced
  • Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
  • Hard Boiled Eggs, sliced
  • Mini Rigatoni, cooked aldente
  • Black Pepper
  • Ranch Dressing
Fix it Fast:
One easy step: Layer ingredients in large bowl or individual bowls, top with dressing and pepper, and eat! YUM!

For dessert we really love the festive look of this cookie pizza (recipe from Pillsbury).

Patriotic Cookie Pizza

cookiepizza

What You’ll Need:

1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated sugar cookies
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup apple jelly, melted

Fix it Fast:

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 12-inch pizza pan with cooking spray. Cut cookie dough into 1/4-inch slices; place in pan. With floured fingers, press evenly over bottom to form crust.

2. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool completely, about 25 minutes.

3. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon peel until fluffy. Spread over baked crust. Arrange raspberries in large star shape in center. Arrange blueberries around raspberries. Drizzle or brush with melted jelly. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. Store in refrigerator.

If you’re looking for some quick and easy appetizers to start your gathering off right, check out our party nachos and other quick apps.

Fun and Games

stickWe know lots of towns put on a great Fourth of July Parade, so if you plan on attending and have little ones, don’t forget to let them create a fun craft to take along. Something like a homemade flag, parade stick, or star is simple to make with paper, stickers, foam shapes and glue. Don’t forget to decorate wagons and bikes, too!

You can also make these great parade sticks. To find out how visit here.

Don’t forget backyard games for an afternoon fun while the grill is going. If you don’t have a pool, badminton can easily be set up, as well as crochet, horseshoe, bocce ball, and corn hole. For the kids small kiddie pools, slip ‘n’ slides, and water balloon tosses will keep them cool and entertained.

Do you have some great plans for the Fourth of July? Share them with us!

Chocolate Chip Dip

June 28, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Girl Talk, Meals In Minutes, Party Planning

This yummy dip recipe is just what every kid ( and every kid at heart) is sure to love. Serve it up with graham cracker sticks, apple slices, or mini pretzels if you’re in the mood for a little something salty and sweet.

Chocolate Chip Dip Recipe

dip

What You Need:

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (6 ounces) miniature semisweet chocolate chips
Graham cracker sticks
Fix it Fast:

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugars and vanilla; beat until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Serve with graham cracker sticks.

Recipe and image from Taste of Home

From High School to College: Helping Your Child Make the Transition

June 27, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Girl Talk

If you talk to most new college students you’ll hear stories of homesickness, getting lost on campus, and being stressed. Heading off to college is fun but there are definitely not the same comforts of home nor the “safety” of friends you may have known growing up through middle and high school. So, if you’re a first time parent sending a child off to college, how can you help your child transition a little easier?

Social Involvement

Being in a dorm with new people and making new friends isn’t always instantly easy. If your child is not rooming with someone from home push them to embrace the experience. Remember, you don’t have to be best friends with your roommate or suitemates. If your child was very involved in high school organizations they might want to keep that trend going throughout college. Joining a fraternity/sorority, campus jobs, sports, and other clubs are just a few things to become involved in on a college campus.

Stay on Campus

studentsAs hard as it will be to let your child go, and as hard as it will be for some kids not to run home every weekend, if they’re close, encourage your child to stay on campus until a long break comes up. This will force them to get out and explore their campus on the weekend-maybe go to a sporting event, become familiar with the library, or try a new restaurant nearby with friends {and, yes, inevitably, bar hop!}.

Attend Class

If you’re a college grad then you know class attendance in college isn’t quite the same as high school. Most times it isn’t even take, so it will be very, very tempting for your child to skip class. Just remind your child, if they skip classes they’ll find it difficult to catch up and learn what’s needed for midterm and final exams. If your child has to miss a class, they can always contact their professor and find out how to get missed information.

Attitude is Everything

It won’t always be a bed of roses. Remind your child to keep a good outlook on things even when they seem to be at their worst. Stress levels will run high the first semester as a college freshman, and, let’s face it, being in a new place with new surroundings is a big change! Send some care packages every few weeks or if you’re close by pop in for a visit and take your child out to lunch of dinner as a study break.

Communicate

Most college kids don’t want to spend their free time talking to mom and dad, plus student hours are so different, with night classes, etc.  We suggest emailing or texting as a great way to stay in touch with your child. You will still be in contact without encroaching on their new schedules.

Trying to follow these few tips will get you on the road to helping your college student get off to the right start and settled into campus life.

Party Nachos

June 24, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Girl Talk, Meals In Minutes, Party Planning

If you’re planning a get together anytime soon, these nachos are a must! They are so easy to make and absolutely delicious.

Party Nachos

nachos

What You’ll Need:

1 carton (18 ounces) refrigerated fully cooked barbecued shredded pork
1 package (12-1/2 ounces) nacho tortilla chips
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup shredded lettuce
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup sliced ripe olives, optional

Fix it Fast:

1. Heat pork according to package directions. Place tortilla chips on a large microwave-safe serving plate. Layer with pork and cheese.
2. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with sour cream, salsa, lettuce and onions. Sprinkle with olives, if desired. Makes about 12 servings.

What We Love Right Now June 22, 2011: Decorating with Seashells

June 22, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Arts & Crafts, Girl Talk, Home Decor

If you’ve already been to the beach, plan on going, or have a collection of shells lying around from past vacations you might be wondering what in the world to do with those shells. Seashells make beautiful decorative accents, no matter how big or small. We love these ideas for decorating with seashells.

shellvase

Fill a vase with your favorite shells. This works best with a lot of small shells. You can fill several vases of different sizes and then place them on a buffet table, mantle, or in your bathroom. This could also make a wonderful table centerpiece. Just remember, shells of different sizes and colors work best. You can also add some sand to the bottom of the vase to give the shells a little base to sit on.

For your bathroom…During the summer months seashells add a wonderful decorative touch to bathrooms. You can use large shells you may have as a soap dish or even a catch-all for jewelry or loose change you might remove while at the sink. If you have a flat framed mirror and a lot of small shells, arrange the shells around the mirror and glue into place with craft glue or a hot glue gun.

shellwreathCreate a little door decor. Wreaths are a wonderful addition to any door in your home. If you want to add a summery feel to your entryway create a seashell wreath, perfect for greeting guests during the summer months. All you need are your shells, a blank wreath from your local craft store, and any other nautical items you may want to add, such as netting, starfish, etc. Arrange the pieces on wreath. Once they are placed how you like, attach with hot glue or use wire, depending on how your pieces need to attach.

Outdoor lighting. If you want to jazz up your screened porch or back deck, you can create a string of seashell lights from a string of small white lights. To do this, you’ll need flat, thin, clam-like shells. Just lay the string of white lights on a table and apply epoxy to the straight edge of a shell. Then, attach the shells to the base of each light on the string. The light from each tiny bulb will shine through the shell setting off a nice glow, perfect for creating a nice summer mood at your next BBQ!

Have you created a great piece of home decor using seashells? Leave us a comment or link up below telling us about it!

Our Best Mocktail Recipes

June 21, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Girl Talk, Meals In Minutes, Party Planning

We love mocktails! They are fun looking – just like cocktails. And, one major plus, they don’t give you a sick feeling in the morning – unlike cocktails! Mocktails aren’t just for adults either, they can be a lot of fun for children too. Especially for tweens and teens. What a great teen party addition! Here are a couple of our favorite mocktail recipes!

mocktail1

Virgin Pina Colada

What You’ll Need:

1 cup ice
1 1/4 cups pineapple juice
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons white sugar

Fix it Fast:

1. In an electric blender, blend ice, pineapple juice, milk, cream, and sugar and blend until smooth.

Tornado Twist

What You’ll Need:

12 fluid ounces cranberry-raspberry juice
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage

Fix it Fast:
1. In a pitcher, mix cranberry-raspberry juice with lemon-lime soda. Pour over ice and serve.

Tickle Me Pink

What You’ll Need:

1/4 cup sparkling cider
1/4 cup cranberry juice
1/4 cup pineapple juice
whipped cream

Fix it Fast:

1. Mix sparkling cider with pineapple and cranberry juice. Top with whipped cream.

Passion Punch

What You’ll Need:

3/4 cup club soda or ginger ale
1 Tablespoon cranberry juice
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup passion fruit syrup

Fix it Fast:

1. Add fruit juices and passion fruit syrup to glass and stir until mixed. Top with club soda. Stir briskly.

2. Add a cherry on top for fun!

What We Love Right Now June 15, 2011: Summer Party Ideas for Kids

June 15, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Girl Talk, Kid Connection, Party Planning

Throwing a summer birthday party? Or maybe you’re having a party just for fun? We’ve got several ideas for great party themes to help you have fun in the sun this summer with your kids and their friends!

1. A Tie-Dye T-Shirt Party, Best For Tweens and Teens

tiedyeinviteThe summertime is perfect t-shirt and flip flop wearing season. What better party theme for this time of year than tie-dye decorating? The shirts themselves are bright and cheery, just like the summer sun, and sure to be loads of fun for the party goers to make. We love these tie-dye invitations from Tiny Prints. They aren’t too bold, but still have some great pops of color.

TieDyePartyFor partyware Birthday in a Box has some great Tie Dye party supplies. We like these plates because you can get the dinner plates or cake plates and then mix and match with solid colored cups, napkins, and cutlery. And don’t forget balloons!

The tie dye shirts will make great party favors. Not sure how to tie dye? It’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it. Here are some great instructions we found at About.com.

2. Bubble Party, Best For Toddler and School Age Children

paperlanternsWhat small child doesn’t love bubbles? This party theme is perfect for a backyard bash. You can do a couple of stations: One table with small bottles of individual bottles of bubbles and another with large pans and wands with homemade bubble mix (not sure how to make a mix? It’s easy! Just use 1/2 cup dishwashing soap, like Dawn, 2 cups water, and 2 teaspoons of sugar).  You can also set up another table with bubble wrap cut up in small squares and paint and paper so the kids can paint with the bubble wrap.

If you have a covered porch or set up a tent or canopy we think decorating with paper lanterns and streamers would be such a cute idea. Paper lanterns would almost look like bubbles of all different colors and you could even use different sizes as well. Try your local party stores or, if you want to buy online, search PartyLights.com or JustArtifacts.com.

bubblestickFor food, serve up round items like Nilla Wafers, round fruits and veggie slices, and cookies. You can even serve Jell-O jigglers cut into circles-they are yummy, easy to make and colorful!

Party favors can be simple and cheap. We’ve seen these cute bubble wands at local stores everywhere and they are usually marked at $2.00/ea. or less. Such a cheap favor and each child would be sure to love it!

3. Pirate Party, Best for Toddler-School Age Children

Arrrrrrr, Matey! Sail the Seven Seas with your child and their friends with this super fun summer party theme! We found everything we needed for this theme at Birthday in a Box! Their pirate party selection couldn’t be beat.

For invitations…

pirateinvite

Send a message in a bottle! How cute, unique, and, well, pirateish! Buy these HERE.

Games…

PirateGame

Don’t reinvent the wheel! Here’s another SharpMom favorite from Birthday in a Box. Pin the Eye Patch on the Pirate!

Looking for more game ideas? Try walking the plank with a small piece of wood, like a 2×4, or put on a “treasure hunt” AKA scavenger hunt for older kids.You can also play a game of “pass the skull” (aka hot potato). Just make your skill out of oval Styrofoam or wrap an old Mr. Potato Head :) .

Partyware…

All favorites from Birthday in a Box!

pirateparty

Favors…

Try gold coins, eye patches, and treasure maps! All can be found online or at your local party stores.

Crafts…

1. Decorate Your Own Pirate Flag: All you need are crayons, paper, and great imagination!

2. Decorate a “Booty Bag” for all their pirate loot!

4. Flip Flop Fun, Best for School Age, Tween Girls

flipflopnapBirthday in a Box has another super girly party patter that’s perfect for a summer pool party! Theme your whole party around flip flops. Ask your guests to where their best swimsuit and favorite flops. Better yet, you could even ask them to decorate a pair of flops before hand and give a prize a the party to the best pair! For FlipFlopStrawpartyware, we found these great napkins that will go well with bright pink and orange plates and cups. We also love these super fun straws, sold in packs of 4. They girls will love sipping lemonade and tea from their fun flip flop straws!

If you don’t have your own personal pool, try booking a local pool or perhaps even the pool at your local YMCA. For food serve up finger foods like veggie and fruit trays and chips with dips. We like keeping decorations simple for this theme. Just doing bunches of colorful balloons will add a nice touch to coordinate with the flip flop napkin. We also found a couple of invitations we really liked.

flipflopinvite1

To purchase this invitation, click here.

flipflop2

To purchase this invitation, click here.

5. Backyard Beach Party, Best for Ages Toddler to School Age Children

There is a lot you can do with this theme! For fun run some water sprinklers, open the sandbox and bring out the buckets and shovels, or for little ones use water tables for play too. Older children will enjoy games like crabwalk relay races, beach ball and water balloon tosses. Little ones will like baby pools filled with mini beach balls made into a ball pits or baby pools filled with water!

If you host this party in the  late afternoon/evening, invite parents and turn it into a BBQ. You could serve hotdogs, hamburgers, and chips. Don’t forget the cake! Maybe in the shape of a beach ball or fish? If you’re not feeling creative you can always preorder a cake with a beach scene from your favorite bakery!

We found these great invitations on Esty.com. Why do we love these? You can print them at home!

beachinvite

For party favors try a sand bucket and shovel filled with a few treats like sunglasses, leis, a small beach ball and candy.You can even personalize the buckets with by writing guest’s names on them with paint pens!

buckets

Do you have a great summer party theme? Leave us a comment and link up with us!

Smart Summer Fitness Tips

As a mom of three, this SharpMom knows how hard it can be to make time to stay in shape. Getting to the gym isn’t always easy and even if you have a treadmill or other equipment at home by the time you are ready to workout, you’re worn out! There’s no reason to stress about getting fit. You can do little things with your kids (yes, you read that correctly) to stay in shape.

Let’s Talk Fluids

Before we even get into the fitness part of this post, let’s talk about staying hydrated. It’s already blazing hot in some parts of the country so staying hydrated is key during the summer months. Adults need 2-3 L of fluids per day to stay adequately hydrated, and especially so in extreme heat. Nursing mothers need to be mindful of hydration as well as it is essential to milk production. So, plain and simple: Drink plenty of water or sports drinks any given day, but particularly on these very hot summer days.

Take a Dip

sharpmomsswimBeat the heat on a summer day and take your children to the local pool. They’ll love splashing around and you’ll definitely burn some extra calories lifting them in and out of the water as they pretend to fish, swim, and jump. Since you probably won’t be much deeper than your waist, try water jogging and leg lifts. They are a great way to tone up your calves and thighs.

Play Time = Fit Time

A perfect place to play during sunny days is the park. There is so much to do there to keep your little ones entertained and active. It’s a great place for you to play with your child and burn a few extra calories while you’re at it. Challenge them to a match on the climbing wall, play a game of tag in an field, or bring your bikes along and cycle a trail. You could burn over 100 calories just having playtime at the park!

Take A Walk

Walking is one of the simplest activities you can do to stay in shape and it’s a great family group exercise. If you have a baby or toddler load them up in a carrier or stroller to burn a few extra calories. Carrying or pushing the added weight would definitely help burn the extra calories. Walk your neighborhood or visit a walking trail. Don’t forget your water bottles so you can stay hydrated on your walk!

What We Love Right Now June 8, 2011: Fabulous Father’s Day Finds

June 8, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Girl Talk

Still looking for a great Father’s Day gift idea? Check out our list of fabulous Father’s Day finds-all under $50!

1. A Man, A Can, and A Grill, $15.95, Purchase on Amazon.com

mancanbook

Anything coming from a can sounds like a horrible meal, but these meals are actually simple and easy for Dad’s to try and master on their favorite outdoor cooker-the grill!

2. Magnetic Wristband, $19.95, Red Envelope

wristband

Available in red and blue, this handy wristband is perfect for Dad’s next home project. It’s so convenient you might even want to order one for yourself!

3. Bocce Ball Set, $31.99, Target

ball

Dad’s sure to love this fun lawn sport. It’s perfect for the backyard or great on the beach. Best of all, he can play one handed so his beverage never has to be put down :-) .

4. Branding Iron, $24.95, Plow and Hearth

brandingiron

Dad will be the center of conversation at the next BBQ with his own personal branding iron. Take it beyond the grill and use it on woods and leathers too.

5. Handprint Canvas, $39.95, Red Envelope

canvas

We love this gift because it is literally something handmade! Dad will love this masterpiece for his office and will always be reminded of his little loves at home.

Best Sunscreens for Babies and Kids

June 6, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Kid Connection

Your child’s skin is so very delicate and it’s important to treat it well while outdoors during the summer. Many sunscreens these days smell funky, go on thick, and just don’t seem “good” for your child’s skin. These following lotions contain natural ingredients and go on light, but still give your child’s skin adequate protection.

1. Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunblock SPF 60+, $8.99 and up, Available at most drug stores

neutrasunscreen

This lotion has no chemicals, just mineral to create a barrier between baby’s skin and sun’s rays. It’s also available in a sunblock stick for easy application on ears, nose, and face.

2. Episencial Sunny Sunscreen, $14.99

episencial-sunny-sunscreen-spf-35

This sunscreen contains a natural blend of zinc and titanium minerals and organic ingredients like shea butter, beeswax and avocado oil to nourish and soften skin. To purchase, click here.

3. TruKid Sunny Days SPF 30+, $17.49

trukidsunscreen

Again, this sunscreen is all natural and has wonderful ingredients such as green tea extract, cucumber oil, and pomegranate juice. To purchase, Click here.

4. Coppertone Water Babies Pure & Simple Lotion, $10.99, Available at most drug stores

waterbabies

Coppertone’s new Pure & Simple is dye free and uses a gentle zinc oxide formula. Best of all it retains its SPF after 80 minutes of water activity.

Fruit Salsa

June 6, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Girl Talk, Meals In Minutes

Fruit Salsa

salsa

What You’ll Need:

1 pint fresh strawberries, chopped
1 large banana, chopped
1 Red Delicious apple, chopped
1 kiwifruit, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
4 (7 1/2-inch) flour tortillas
Vegetable cooking spray
2 tablespoons sugar

Fix it Fast:

1. Combine strawberry, banana, apple, and kiwi. Stir together lemon juice, 1/4 cup sugar, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; toss with fruit. Chill.

2. Cut each tortilla into eighths. Arrange pieces on baking sheets. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Combine remaining 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Sprinkle over tortilla chips.

3. Bake at 350° for 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve with fruit salsa.

What We Love Right Now June 1, 2011: Summer 2011 Must Haves

June 1, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Fashion Trends, Girl Talk

Wondering what you’ve GOT to have this summer for your home and beyond? Look no further! This is our list of must have item for Summer 2011:

1. Casa Recycled Glass Pitcher, Pottery Barn, $29.00

casa glass pitcher

This pitcher is perfect for all your summer gatherings. It’s large and best of all can be monogrammed (so it would even make a lovely gift!).

2. Printed Ruffle Front Cami, Old Navy, prices vary

ruffle front cami

Available in a variety of prints, this cami is so cute. We love it with a pair of khaki shorts and espadrilles.

3. Jackie O-Caftan Cover-Up, Sir Alistair Rai, $28.00

ap_1970_jackie_o_caftan_orange_print_08_1

Love, love this cover-up! It’s colorful and just screams beachy!

4. White Cropped Legging Jeans, Gap, $39.50

jeans

We love the color white for summer, so why not own a pair of white jean cropped pants. They will pair well with just about any top in your closet!

5. Clarin’s Lightweight Spray Sunscreen, Clarin’s, $32.00

sunscreen

High protection, but lightweight on your skin. This sunscreen spray is also perspiration resistant. We give it two thumbs up!

6. Land’s End, Straw Tote, $59.50

straw tote

Straw totes are classic and we love this one from Land’s End. It’s just the right size for all your towels, lotions, and magazines.

7. Zig-Zag Swimsuit, Old Navy, $20.00

suit

Maybe you’re not much on stripes, but how about a great zig-zag print? It’s eye-catching and will move the eye away from your “problem” areas. Plus, the price can’t be beat!

8. Summer Pops Dishtowel, Crate and Barrel, $4.95

SummerPopsDishtowelS11

This dishtowel is adorable and reeks of summer! We love the popsicle and bright colors.

9. Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, Crate and Barrel, $49.00

IceCreamMaker

Making your own ice cream at home is such a fun activity to do with your kids. This great maker is currently on sale at Crate and Barrel.

10. Clinique Super Moisturizing Gloss, Clinique, $14.00

gloss

We are big fans of Clinique and this gloss is wonderful for Moms on the go. Perfect for tossing in your pool bag or purse and throwing on your lips for a little extra glow.

Do you have a favorite thing you can’t live without during the summer?