Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Gift Guide: Gifts for Kids Ages 4-10

Gifts for Kids Ages 4-10

My kids are almost 5 and almost 7, which means I am officially an expert on gift giving for preschool and elementary school aged children! Okay, so I'm not an expert at all. But I do have enough experience gift shopping at this point (both for them and for their friends), that I finally feel like I have a pretty good grasp on what to get kids in this age range. 

I'll be honest - my babes enjoy their fair share of character-themed, sparkly, cheaply made toys. And that's okay. I want to encourage them to love what they love, even if it isn't my "style." That said, they also love well-made toys that encourage learning, creativity, and discovery, and those are the toys I'm recommending in this guide. They will get a mix of both this Christmas, but I will confess that these are the toys I hope they love the most. 

1. KiwiCo Crates  $9.95+
KiwiCo is one of my favorite brands for kids toys. (I'll actually be sharing a whole post about them soon.) Their toys and kits make for gifts that are equal parts fun and educational, and not just for the age range I'm featuring in this guide. (They have cool crates for every age from toddler to teen!) Some favorites in our house are the Planet Bath Bombs and Window Garden (shown above and both under $20). Their site is awesome too because it allows you to shop by age or category, and you can purchase a subscription or just single kits. KiwiCo also has an amazing 20% off everything sale going on between now and December 6th. They also have a Black Friday sale happening now for up to 30% off + free shipping. I highly suggest checking them out right here and taking advantage of this incredible offer. I promise you your kids will love their products!

My son received this as a gift, and both kids absolutely love it. They get to play paleontologist and excavate toy dinosaurs from the eggs, then use the learning card to find out more about each dinosaur. The set is well made and comes in a pretty package as well. 

The Queen's Gambit admittedly influenced me to want to learn chess and for my kids to learn as well, and this beautiful set just seems like the perfect one to learn on. The green tree pawns and animal silhouette pieces make playing feel like an enchanted forest walk. I feel like this is one of those really special, high quality gifts that would be passed on through generations. 

My dad bought a telescope for the kids last year and it ended up being the most magical gift. This telescope from GSkyer is perfect for little astronomers, and comes with lots of extras too, like a wireless remote, adjustable tripod, and carrying case. It is also portable, and the perfect size for smaller hands. 

This Kids Scavenger Hunt Game from the Idea Box is all kinds of cool and I can't wait to give it to my kids this year! Kids choose from wood coins with descriptions of items they can find around the house, in the yard, or anywhere. (A great idea as we stay home to stay safe this winter!) The best part is that the game can be played over and over, and the whole family can get involved. This is the perfect example of a gift that is simultaneously fun and educational. 

Puzzles help with many aspects of learning, from improving fine motor skills to building short terms memory. This Map of the World Puzzle from Mudpuppy will give your kids ages 5-9 a fun geography lesson too! Features 78 pieces, including 17 that are shaped like icons of the world. 

This robot set is a favorite, but Tegu make lots of other more extensive sets too. The magnetic wooden blocks that make up this set are crafted from sustainably harvested wood - and for every one tree Tegu harvests, they plant hundreds more! Tegu is also bringing world-class employment standards to Central America by paying their employees a living wage and prioritizing long-term career growth and development. 

We are big on mindfulness in our house, which is why I got this gorgeous mediation card set for my little ones for a holiday gift this year. The set offer 26 huge mindfulness cards for kids, with content-rich scripts and vibrant illustrations to teach them guided meditation. It also comes with breathing exercises and DIY cards so kids can create their own meditations.  

Both of my kids are extremely interested in the concept of telling time, but with digital clocks everywhere, they haven't learned to tell time on an analog clock. This beautiful handmade clock from Mirus Toys would be perfect for that, and also makes for a beautiful piece of decor for their rooms. 

This colorful kit fosters pre-coding skills like sequencing, problem-solving, and logical thinking and
comes with a robot board with storage, suction pen, 175 pixel tiles, 20 challenge cards and instructions. My son will find one under the tree this year and I can't way to learn with him. 

This is another seriously awesome gift that my dad gets my kids each year. Every other month for a year, a book hand selected by the New York Book Review is received in the mail. The NYBR groups books by age and interest, so you can choose what your child would most enjoy. All of the book are considered "forever books" - classics with beautiful, sturdy hardcovers that will last a lifetime. Both of my kids are absolutely thrilled when their book arrives in the mail. An added bonus: free shipping. 

To those of you in the states, happy Thanksgiving! It's not a normal Thanksgiving, but we still have a lot for which to be grateful. That is what matters, the end. If you're reading this after Thanksgiving, happy holidays! And if you have any other suggestions for great gifts for kids, let me know. 

This post contains affiliate links. This means I may earn a small commission from your purchases, at no additional expense to you. I have also received compensation from a few of the brands featured in exchange for promoting their products, all of which I love, use, and am thrilled to recommend. 


Monday, November 23, 2020

Snowman Fruit Kabobs

Snowman Fruit Kabobs

Happy (almost) holidays! It doesn't feel quite like Thanksgiving week to me, but 2020 has felt completely strange since March so I'm not surprised that things seem a little off. I think the weirdness will make most of us will appreciate the magic that comes with the holiday season more than ever though. And part of that magic in our home is spending time together making food and crafts. 

My daughter came up with the idea for these fruit kabob snow people a few weeks ago, and we've been having so much fun making them that I had to share with you guys. (They're also a freaking great way to get your kids to eat healthy!)

Snowman Fruit Kabobs

Snowman Fruit Kabobs

(Makes 2)

1 banana, peeled
1 strawberry
1 green apple
1 baby carrot
4 pretzel sticks
10 mini chocolate chips or raisins
2 wooden skewers

1. Cut banana into 6 thicks slices (3 for each snowman).
2. Cut triangle shapes (1 from strawberry and 1 from green apple) for hats, 2 slivers from baby carrot for noses, and peel slices of green apple for scarves.
3. Slide 3 banana slices onto each skewer. Top one with the strawberry triangle and the other with the apple triangle.⁣
4. Insert pretzel sticks for arms, carrot slices for noses, and mini chocolate chips or raisins for eyes and buttons.

Snowman Fruit Kabobs

This recipe is a craft project and yummy snack in one. Have fun!


Friday, November 20, 2020

5 Tips for Disinfecting Your Home Without Harsh Chemicals

5 Tips for Disinfecting Your Home Without Harsh Chemicals

This post is in partnership with The Honest Company®.

I was raised in a home that was consistently spotless and germ-free. But just like I sadly did not receive my mom's green thumb (so many dead plants), I did not receive her incredible passion for cleanliness. I've never been a complete slob (if you don't count my twenties, anyway), but I've never been a "germophobe" either. 

Welp, like most of us, that changed this year. Now I don't even leave a room without hand sanitizer, and I basically walk around the house with a bottle of disinfecting spray (Honest Disinfecting Spray from Costco, to be exact; but more on that in a minute) in hand at all times. 

While it is extremely important to me to keep my home disinfected these days, I am, as you guys know, not a fan of harsh chemicals. Just like I do my best to eat and feed my kids organic food, I try to clean my home in ways that don't require toxic ingredients. If you can relate to the desire to keep a germ-free house without the nasty stuff, I think these tips could be as helpful for you as they have been for me!

5 Tips for Disinfecting Your Home Without Harsh Chemicals

1. Wash your hands.
We are told to do this so often it becomes annoying, but let's face it - it's one of the most important and effective ways to help stop the spread of germs. And while reminding you to wash your hands isn't a cleaning tip, I felt compelled to list it because it really is an incredibly easy way to keep germs to a minimum in your home. My kids touch every surface in our house; knowing their hands are clean gives me peace of mind that our home is clean (or cleaner, anyway) as well.

5 Tips for Disinfecting Your Home Without Harsh Chemicals
5 Tips for Disinfecting Your Home Without Harsh Chemicals

2. Use Honest Disinfecting Spray to clean, deodorize, and disinfect.
This is my secret weapon, you guys! The Honest Company Disinfecting Spray is a powerful antibacterial spray that kills 99.9% of the germs we all come in contact with every day - without chlorine bleach, harsh abrasives, phosphates, fumes, or harsh chemicals. It also kills cold and flu viruses, which is crucial right now! Its fragrance-free formula cleans, deodorizes, and disinfects in one, and I use it everywhere. From door handles to countertops to toilet surfaces to sinks to my cell phone, a spray or two gives me the peace of mind that the power of hydrogen peroxide is doing its job and keeping things germ-free, without covering the home where my little ones play in unnecessary hazards. If you're a Costco member like I am, I highly recommend purchasing the Honest Company Disinfecting 3-Pack available in-store or online. You will use it!

5 Tips for Disinfecting Your Home Without Harsh Chemicals

3. Sanitize laundry - without bleach.
I find myself washing bathroom hand towels, throw blankets, pillow covers, curtains, and other types of fabric-based home decor items a lot more often these days. Just like with other surfaces in our home, dirt-free does not equal disinfected, and fabrics that are used daily are full of germs. I don't like using bleach to sanitize laundry because its such a harsh chemical, so I opt for gentler methods. Our washer and dryer actually have sanitizing settings, which is helpful. But you can also add vinegar or peroxide to the wash cycle to help disinfect. Drying on high for at least 45 minutes also helps to sanitize. 

5 Tips for Disinfecting Your Home Without Harsh Chemicals

4. Keep bottles of Honest Disinfecting Spray throughout the house.
This is a tip (keeping cleaners in more than one room) that I learned from my mom growing up, but admittedly didn't actually utilize until recently. (I used to keep them all under the kitchen sink.) It's actually quite helpful because while I may be genuinely devoted to keeping my house void of germs these days, I still need reminders to do it. This is why I love the Honest Company's Disinfecting 3-Pack from Costco. I keep one bottle in the kitchen, one in the downstairs bathroom, and one upstairs for easy access. When I see it, it reminds me to use it. And since we can't keep surfaces truly germ-free without sanitizing them daily, it's important to do it consistently (and without harsh chemicals, please!). 

5 Tips for Disinfecting Your Home Without Harsh Chemicals

5. Regularly take the trash out (and disinfect the containers!).
It might seem obvious to take the trash and recycling out when they're full, but we have a habit of pushing in as much as possible until the containers are bursting at the seams. There is something to be said for this, because it's less wasteful to get as much as possible into one trash bag, but it's not the most sanitary way to go about things. When garbage and things like used tissues (yuck!) are piled up (and repeatedly touched each time we pushed them down), germs are spread. I take the garbage and recycling outside much more frequently these days, and also clean and disinfect the garbage containers with Honest Disinfecting Spray every time, right before I put in a new trash bag.

5 Tips for Disinfecting Your Home Without Harsh Chemicals

I hope these tips prove useful for those of you looking to keep your house as germ-free as possible without having to use hazardous chemicals to make it that way. And if I haven't hinted about it enough yet, head to your local Costco (or the Costco website) and get yourself the Honest Company's Disinfecting 3-Pack now! I'm telling you guys, it is a game-changer for not only disinfecting but also cleaning and deodorizing too. (Who doesn't love a multi-tasking cleaning time saver?) I am also such a big fan of The Honest Company in general and have been since my daughter was born in 2013. Their products are made with love and care, and with safety in mind - from baby, personal care, and beauty items to household products like their Disinfecting spray about which I cannot stop gushing. The Honest Company also partners with organizations like Baby2Baby to help ensure all families have access to basic necessities and health information for safe growth and development, which is pretty wonderful.

Do you have any other tips for keeping your home sanitized without the use of harsh chemicals? I'd love to hear them if so!


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Our 2020 Family Holiday Cards

Postable Holiday Cards

Those of you who have been reading here for a while know that even though I don't often get personal about my private life (especially when it comes to my kids), I always share our family holiday cards with you all. And I say this every year, but it's worth repeating: sharing family holiday cards might not seem like a deep dive into our personal lives, but there is something very intimate about them. They are the most special greeting we send to our closest friends and family at the end of every year, and they represent our gratitude for those people. Well, I'm grateful for you all as well, and that's why I choose to share these with you in a post every November.  

Also, let's face it. 2020 has been a real a-hole of a year, and that just makes me want to share greetings of peace and love and joy more than ever. 

Honestly, I can't think of a year I have ever not sent out holiday cards. They are one of my absolute favorite seasonal traditions. (I even have a line of them of my own, although they're a much different style than the ones I send out myself these days.) And six years ago, I discovered a holiday card company that not only had the hippest cards around, they went above and beyond to make my life easier. So please allow me to gush for a minute about them, my beloved Postable.

Postable Holiday Cards
Postable Holiday Cards

Before I start my annual professing of love for Postable, I want to say that Postable did not (and has never) paid me to review them. This is just one of those time that I have fallen in love with a brand, gotten to know them, and feel inspired to spread the word of their awesomeness. Again and again. What initially drew me to them way back when was their huge selection of beautifully designed, fully customizable cards that are all 100% post-consumer recycled and/or tree-free 100% (envelopes too). Once I had their cards in hand, I was impressed by other things too - from the quality of the cards themselves to the quickness of their shipping. 

Postable Holiday Cards
Postable Holiday Cards
Postable Holiday Cards

I think my favorite thing about Postable, however, is that they do all the freaking work you guys. Not only do they print my cards, they stuff the envelopes, address them, stamp them, and mail them for me too. So basically, I have not had an envelope cut on my tongue in years, and that is glorious. And the process of getting them made and sent couldn't be easier. I choose a card design (which is by far the longest part of it because the options are endless), upload my photos, greetings, and names, choose my font, choose an envelope color, click on the addresses saved in my address book, and hit order. A few days later, my cards arrive in my loved ones mailbox, which leaves me way more time to binge watch dark holiday comedies and eat peppermint bark in bed. 

Postable Holiday Cards
Postable Holiday Cards

Thank you one again to my friends at Postable for making the holiday season a little brighter by creating beautiful cards and making it beyond easy to get them sent. After the year we've all had, I appreciate thie more than ever. I'll also mention once again the people who work for the company are genuinely kind humans too. So kind that they are giving you 20% off your entire order with code BEAN20. So get over to their site right now and start designing, friends. Happy holidays, and happy holiday card giving!

This post is in collaboration with Postable