The best things to do in Central Park with kids

Checkout these fun and inexpensive things to do in Central Park from Time Out Kids!

Click here –▶ http://www.timeout.com/new-york-kids/things-to-do/the-best-things-to-do-in-central-park

Looking forward to the castle, what will be your first stop?

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3 Last Minute Getaways for Family Fun this Labor Day

I was looking for a last minute get a way for Labor Day, so I am happy to see this post from Red Tricycle. I’ve been thinking about visiting Mystic, CT for quit some time and it seems they have lots to do. Have you visited any of these places? Any tips?

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Before you break out the sweaters or buy back-to-school supplies, here’s your chance to enjoy one last summer getaway with the fam. Even if you haven’t booked a vacation yet, you can still avoid the crowds this Labor Day weekend and check out these under-the-radar yet super fun family destinations not too far from the city. Pick your choice of the mountains, a lake, or the beach and go for it before summer is gone for good!

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Photo courtesy of Church Street Marketplace via Yelp

Burlington, Vt

Are we there yet: 1-hour direct flight or 5.5 hours by car

Keep ‘em busy: This charming small town is settled along picturesque Lake Champlain. Explore the Burlington Waterfront Park with a boardwalk, picnic areas and amazing views. Rent bikes and pedal along a 7.5 mile long waterfront Bike Path.

Take a swim and enjoy the beach at North Beach featuring kayaking and a snack bar. Oakledge Park

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5 Easy and Creative Gift Wrapping Ideas

It’s the thought behind the gift that counts, but when that gift arrives in a beautifully hand wrapped package it’s a bit more special. Receiving a fabulously wrapped gift doesn’t just build up anticipation for the gift inside, it adds to the gift as a whole.  You can do something simple, like wrapping your gift in kraft paper and decorating it with washi tape, or get your hands dirty and make some yarn pom-poms. However you decide to decorate your gift, you can always find something lying around the house to use.  If you’re looking for some easy and creative gift wrapping ideas for your next birthday party or holiday, take a look at our roundup of DIY gift wrap ideas.

Have Spare Tissue?

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Do you ever find yourself with packs of tissue paper but not gift bags? Here’s a way to use all of that spare tissue paper in a fun, creative, DIY way.  Try layering different colors of tissue paper for a simple yet eye-catching look.

Boxed Treasures

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For an assortment of smaller gifts, keep them all together in a wooden box like this one.  These cases are usually only a few dollars from a craft store. Fill it up with filler grass and organize the individual gifts for a completely aesthetic presentation.

Make It a Piece of Art

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If you’re ithe creative type, share something special by designing original art and showcasing it on top of the wrapped gift like this one. It’ll be a present to remember, and hopefully the person receiving the gift will want to keep it as a way to remember that special day.

Rolls of Fun

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For odd-shaped or tubular presents, try the Tootsie Roll twist. Depending on the fabric you choose, you can make this gift fit any occasion and stand out, too. Then, with two short strings, you can tie simple bows around the ends and voila!

Thinking Outside the Box (or Bag)

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You can find many interesting alternatives to the traditional wrapped gift or gift tote at any  container Store – just use your creativity! Look for a container that goes with the theme of your gift, add a ribbon and bow, and presto! You’ve created a one of a kind gift presentation, and a gift within a gift!

Do you have a gift wrapping idea? Share it with us! – Cute Beltz

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Toddler Belts & Kids Belts

Simple Solutions to Help Transform Your Picky Eater

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Has your preschooler refused to eat anything other than chicken nuggets for the past two days? Or would your toddler rather play than eat anything at all?  There are so many possible reasons for picky eating, but whatever the reason; finding ways to deal with it is a good place to focus your energy and attention. Remember…celebrate every little accomplishment…one bite leads to more!  Check out our simple solutions to help transform your picky eater!

Get Them Involved

Although your first instinct may be to shoo your toddler from the kitchen, studies show that kids who do some mealtime prep are more enthusiastic about trying the fruits (and veggies) of their labor. So let your toddler sprinkle cheese onto the pasta, toss the blueberries into the oatmeal, or spin the salad spinner.  Chances are they will be more willing to try something they helped make.

Be Patient With New Foods

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Young children often touch or smell new foods, and may even put tiny bits in their mouths and then take them back out again. Your child might need repeated exposure to a new food before he or she takes the first bite. Encourage your child by talking about a food’s color, shape, aroma and texture — not whether it tastes good. Serve new foods along with your child’s favorite foods.

Eat Together When You Can

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Sure, it’s hard to get everyone to the table, but try to eat together a few times a week. After all, toddler see, toddler do: Your child’s more likely to want a bite of something if he sees the rest of the family enjoying it.

Be Creative and Make it Fun

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Little tricks can sometimes encourage better eating. For instance, you could cut foods into fun shapes using cookie cutters. Turn mealtime into a game to see who can “eat all their colors.” Or try an at-home picnic for a change of scenery.

Get creative with presentation too! Your child’s plate doesn’t always have to look the same.  You can string beans or noodles around the edge of the plate. Try alternating veggies, meat and grain in mini-piles or stripes all over the plate, or combine them to make a design.  Use anything other than a kitchen plate to serve up food. It’s so easy to use colorful containers, toy dishes, an ice cube tray, or a muffin tin as dishes. These platters often make a meal or snack more interesting to a child.

How do you make mealtime fun for your child? – Cute Beltz

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Toddler Belts & Kids Belts

Fun Frozen Treats For Hot Summer Days

On those hot summer days spent at the park with your little ones running around, there is nothing like coming home and making something cold and sweet for them to cool down. Frozen treats are fun and delicious, no matter how old you are. Today we’ll be bringing you all sorts of simple ideas for frozen treats to make and enjoy with your kids.

Kiwi Ice Pops

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Glowing in green, these sweet and tart kiwi ice pops appeal to kids and adults alike. This recipe is not only refreshing but no-fuss, making it one of the coolest ways to extinguish summer’s sizzle.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup(s) water
  • 1 cup(s) sugar
  • 4 kiwis
  • 1/2 cup(s) (about 4 limes) fresh lime juice

Directions

1. Make the syrup: Combine 1 cup of water with the sugar in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Set aside to cool.

2. Make the ice pops: Using a paring knife, cut kiwis into quarters, peel, and remove the white core and seeds from each piece. Place the seeded kiwi pieces in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and purée to a liquid — about 1 minute. Combine the puréed kiwi, 3/4 cup syrup, lime juice, and remaining 3/4 cup water in a large bowl. Pour the mixture into molds and freeze until solid — about 6 hours.

Lemon Sorbet

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This fragrant sorbet can be served as an intermezzo to cleanse the palate and stimulate the appetite, or be presented, instead, with not-too-sweet cookies for a light dessert. Add fresh herbs to the sorbet to give this treat an unexpected twist.

Ingredients

  • 10 sprig(s) mint, stemmed
  • 4 teaspoon(s) mint sprigs, finely chopped
  • 3 sprig(s) thyme
  • 3 cup(s) sugar
  • 3 cup(s) lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon(s) lemon zest, finely grated

Directions

1. Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in three small saucepans. Add the mint leaves to one pan and the thyme sprigs to another. Bring all three to a boil, remove from the heat, and steep for 12 minutes. Strain each steeping mixture into a separate bowl, stir 1 cup lemon juice into each, and cool completely. Process each batch separately — starting with plain and ending with thyme — in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions for sorbet. Stir the finely chopped mint into the mint-infused sorbet once it has set. Stir the lemon zest into the plain lemon mixture when it has set. Place a film of plastic wrap directly on the sorbet surface in an airtight container and freeze until firm — about 1 hour.

Watermelon Pops

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Don’t be fooled by these frozen treats! Made from sorbet blended with mini chocolate chips, they’re a great cool down dessert on hot summer days.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup strawberry sorbet
  • 2 teaspoons mini chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup lemon sorbet
  • 2 drops green food coloring
  • wedge-shaped popsicle molds
  • popsicle sticks

Directions

1. To make a batch, mash together 1 cup strawberry sorbet, 2 teaspoons mini chocolate chips, and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl.

2. Put the mixture into wedge-shaped popsicle molds (we used six 2-ounce molds), filling each about two-thirds full.*

3. Spoon a thin, even layer of lemon sorbet on top. In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup lemon sorbet, 2 drops green food coloring, and 1 tablespoon water.

4. Spoon a layer into each mold and insert a popsicle stick. Freeze the pops for at least four hours.

Ice-cream Cookie Cups

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This summer, double your pleasure by serving your family’s favorite ice-cream flavors in edible chocolate chip cookie bowls.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. To make the cookie cups, beat together the shortening, butter, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the egg and vanilla extract, beating until combined.

2. In a separate bowl, sift together the salt, baking powder, and flour, then gradually stir them into the batter. Stir in the chocolate chips.

3. Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a flat disk, and wrap it in plastic. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

4. Heat the oven to 375º. Turn two 12-cup muffin tins bottom side up and cover 10 of the cup bottoms with squares of aluminum foil (use every other cup so there’s some space between them). Grease the foil with shortening and set it aside.

5. Unwrap 1 disk of dough, place it between 2 sheets of waxed paper, and roll it out to a 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out 4-inch circles of dough and place each one over a cup bottom, smoothing out any cracks. Repeat with the other disk, rerolling and reusing any scraps.

6. Bake the cookie cups for 10 to 12 minutes or until light brown. Let them cool for 10 minutes, and then remove the foil and cookies together from the muffin pan. Peel off the foil and let the cups cool completely on a rack. Just before serving, fill each cookie cup with a scoop of ice cream. Makes 10.

What are some other ideas that would make great frozen treats?

 

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Fun Ways to Get Your Kids Excited About Gardening

Involving children in fun gardening activities provides valuable opportunities to enjoy the spring and summer weather while helping to instill a love of nature in your little ones.

Kids can benefit from gardening in many ways. Not only does it teach children patience, it helps to improve life skills, a child’s well-being and forms a positive connection between the child and the environment.  Children not only learn the process of growing a flowers, fruits or vegetables, they get to experience the process using multiple senses. These experiences, along with hard work, encourage kids to respect their environment and learn how things within the environment work together.

Tips to get your Kids into Gardening:

  • Start with a story: Choose a selection of books that focus on different veggies you may plant, the process of gardening, and the overall impact that a garden can have on your family, community, and the environment. Books can plant the seed of excitement in your child and give her an idea of what to expect from her own garden.
  • Give them the Tools:   One thing is for sure, and that’s that things aren’t as fun when it’s hard to maneuver the tools needed to get the job done. Provide the kids with a set of tools their own size so that they can get the work done more easily and because they’ll like having their very own set that made just for them.
  • Get the whole family involved: Children find anything more exciting when there are others to share the experience with and garden is no exception. Pick the vegetables, wash them, bring them into your home, and talk about the ways that your family will enjoy the vegetables that they grew on their own.

Check out these fun gardening projects that your kiddos can enjoy!

Hanging Rainboot Garden

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This is a great way to repurpose those adorable little boots that your kids have outgrown (and that you just can’t bear to part with). You can also represent each member of your family with a boot!

What You’ll Need: Several pairs of rainboots, all sizes and colors (the more the better!), soil and seeds, a drill or awl, nails or hooks.

How to Do It: Drill drainage holes in the sole of each boot, and then again in the top of the boot for hanging. Fill boots with soil, plant seeds or plants according to directions and hang as desired using a nail or a hook on a fence or wall. You could also arrange the boots on the ground as a collection of colorful containers.

Letter Gardens

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It’s a gardening and spelling lesson all rolled into one! This project couldn’t possibly be easier, and the results will delight your kiddo.  It can be done indoors at any time of the year, so no worries if you don’t have a yard. Let your kid’s imagination go wild and help them spell out words, their initials — or even use this project to help teach your preschooler the alphabet.

What You’ll Need: Seeds, soil and containers for planting, preferably one that is tray-like.

How to Do It: Fill your containers with soil and use your hands or a stick to draw the outline of a letter. Carefully sow the seeds along the shape, spaced according to the directions on the packet. Water the soil daily until your seeds begin to grow.

Herb Terrarium

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It’s simple, fun and can be done indoors, and your kids will have fun decorating their mini-garden with bits and pieces they collect from around the neighborhood.  It’s super inexpensive and you don’t need to get down on your hands and knees.

What You’ll Need: A big glass jar or a bowl, two or three small herb plants, gravel, pantyhose or some other mesh material, moss and some small decorative items like shells or stones.

How to Do It: Soak your moss in water while you place two inches of gravel in your container. Place the mesh over the gravel. Arrange your plants in your bowl or jar and then fill with soil. Lay the moss over the soil where you want it and add your decorations.

How do you get your kids excited about gardening?

 

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