How to have fun (and stay warm) with your kids this Winter!!

Now I know it’s only August, but the cold weather is going to start creeping upon us sooner than we expected!!

The Farmer’s Almanac (and many other sources) have recently predicted 2013 to be a ‘colder-than-normal winter’ for most of the US. Words such as ‘bitterly cold’ and ‘piercing cold’ have been used to describe the weather conditions for Winter 2013. 

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If there is one thing I know for certain it is that I HATE the cold! I rather stay cuddled up by a fire all day then step outside into ‘piercing cold’ weather!

But just like during the Summer, kids need to be entertained during the Winter as well! Although there are plenty of indoor activities to keep your kids entertained during the Winter, it is important to also include some fun outdoor activites.

Since it hardly ever snows in the South, your typical ‘Build a Snowman’ and ‘Have a Snowball Fight’ activities are probably out of the question. That is why we came up with a list of some Winter fun activities to enjoy with your children from just about anywhere!!

1. Go Iceskating! Just about every city has a place where you can go iceskating in the Winter. Just bundle up, and get ready to shed some ice!

2. Enjoy a hayride. Most hayrides last about an hour and end by taking you to a campfire where you can enjoy some hot chocolate or apple cider. 

3. Visit a corn maze. Growing up my family went to a corn maze every Winter. Just like on most hay rides, there are refreshments at the corn maze for you to enjoy. 

4. Camp out in your backyard. Pitch the tent, start a fire, and enjoy the evening telling ghost stories!

5. Create a s’mores and hot chocolate bar. When I was little, a friend of mine had a birthday party. Since she was born in December, her mom had to get creative with her parties. One year she set up a s’mores and hot chocolate bar in her backyard, and we spent the evening around the fire roasting marshmallows and drinking s’mores. It was the best birthday party I have ever been to!

You can find many of the activities listed above by simply visiting Google. That is my go to source for finding fun activities close to my family!

If you have any ideas of your own to enjoy this year’s Winter Wonderland, we would love to hear them! Kids love being outdoors, so it is important to incorporate outdoor activities – even in those cold winter months!

 

Is Raising A Child Truly PRICELE$$ ??

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I read an article recently that stated the average cost to raise a child (up to 18 years old) these days is $241,080 and climbing – and that doesn’t even include the cost of college!!! And with the economy the way it is today, several children live with their parent’s way past age 18.

Now I know you cant put a price tag on being a parent, but how is it even possible to afford raising children these days?!

The key here is to learn to BUDGET your money and be a smart spender/saver. This is important for those who are parents already and those who may become parents in the future.

Some good tips on budgeting for your family include:

* Know what you can and cannot afford. There is nothing wrong with shopping for bargains! You might be surprised what deals you can find if you actually take the time to look.

* Learn the difference between necessities and luxuries. That fancy new boat you are dying to purchase is not going to put food on the table!

* Start saving money for the future…NOW! – a car, college, and extracurricular activities all add up over time. If you start saving even the tiniest bit of money now, it will pay off for you later.

We all know kids are expensive, but the memories and time you spend with them is ABSOLUTELY priceless! Learning to budget your money can take some of the stress away and let you enjoy spending time with your children!

For those of you thinking about having a baby soon, check out the link on Parenting Magazine to find out how much your kid will cost you

Sweet, Delicious, Scrumptious…..MONSTER Cupcakes!!!

Baking has always been an activity that our household enjoys. We love trying new recipes and putting our own spin on things.

One of our favorite things to bake is cupcakes. We’ve made them all – cookie dough cupcakes, S’more cupcakes, and even the ever-so-popular Red Velvet cupcakes. (Recipes available upon request!)

This weekend we decided to keep it simple and make vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting…. but we DEFINITELY put our own spin on it!

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These are our MONSTER cupcakes!! The kids love decorating and putting their favorite toppings on them! We used marshmallows, M&Ms, gum balls, licorice, and sprinkles to decorate – but you can use just about anything edible to make your monsters!

Not only are these cupcakes fun to make, but they are very tasty! (Homemade cupcakes are definitely better than store bought.) They are also perfect for any occasion – birthday parties, class parties, or just because!!

Here is the recipe for our vanilla cupcakes and buttercream frosting!! 

Cupcakes:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  • In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time – scrape down bowl, and beat in vanilla.
  • Add flour mixtures and milk alternatively, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  • Divide batter evenly among liners. 
  • Bake until golden (about 20 minutes).
  • Let cupcakes cool, then Enjoy!

Frosting:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter; softened
  • 3-4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Directions

  • Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer on medium speed.
  • Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed until the sugar has been mixed in with the butter.
  • Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes.
  • If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk and tablespoons 1 at a time.
  • (For different color icings, simply use food coloring)

And there you have it! That is our recipe for our vanilla cupcakes and buttercream frosting. Once you have the cupcakes and frosting made, you can simply enjoy decorating your MONSTER cupcakes!

We would love to see what your Monsters look like!! Be sure to share your pictures with us!

 

Help us ‘Get on the Shelf’ at Wal-Mart!!

To all our awesome followers — WE NEED YOUR HELP!!
The Highchair Organizer is in the running to ‘Get on the Shelf’ at Wal-Mart stores!!

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With all of your votes, we could make this possible!

Here’s how it works – everyday, once a day, from now till September 2nd you can vote for The Highchair Organizer here! Just click the link, and click Vote! You will be asked to sign into your Facebook account. (Don’t worry, they will not post anything on your behalf. This is just a way for them to manage how many times per day people vote. As I mentioned, you can only vote ONCE per day.)

We are so excited to be given this opportunity and hope that with all of you behind us we can make this dream a reality! Along with voting, please help us spread the word! Share with your friends, family, co-workers, etc.

Thank you for all your support! And remember, The Highchair Organizer is here to support you all as well! 

-The Highchair Organizer staff

 

Help Preserve the Bluebirds by Giving Them a Home… Decorate a Birdhouse with your Kids!

What’s better than a fun activity you can enjoy with your kids?? 

A fun activity you can enjoy with your kids, all while helping the environment!!

While recently on a tour of The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, I noticed several birdhouses around the yard.

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ImageOut of curiosity, I asked if the birdhouses had any special meaning. After all, there were hundreds of them! Our tour guide simply explained how bluebirds are slowly becoming extinct, so the birdhouses are in place to help preserve the bluebirds and give them somewhere to perch.  

This led me to think – we should put a birdhouse in our back yard and further help the ecosystem!

After researching this a bit, I found that having birdhouses in your backyard is beneficial in many ways:

  • Pest control- Many birds eat a variety of insects, spiders, and other bugs that may not be welcome in a yard or garden. Attracting birds encourages them to take advantage of this natural food course, eliminating the need for harsh chemical insecticides.
  • Flower pollination- Birds that sip nectar are efficient pollinators of garden flowers. This can give flowerbeds an added color boost from extra blooms, which will in turn attract more birds.
  • Weed control- Some birds consume great quantities of weed seeds, making them effective landscapers to help control unwanted plants. Planting seed-bearing flowers for birds can also give them a natural food source to enjoy without needing frequent feeder refills.
  • Food sharing- Many fruit trees for birds are also great for birders, including apples, peaches, plums and pears. Planting these trees and berry-producing shrubs to attract birds will give backyard birders fresh, delicious fruit to enjoy after every harvest.
  • Environmental conservation- Bird-friendly landscaping makes use of native plants and available resources in environmentally conscious ways. Native plants use less water and are more resistant to diseases, making them better for the local ecosystem and requiring less work to maintain.
  • Education- Observing backyard birds is a unique opportunity to study local wildlife, and attracting birds all year round gives backyard birders the chance to see seasonal plumage changes, migration, courtship behavior and nesting. This is also a great way to introduce children to wildlife enjoyment and appreciation.

Now all of this sounds great, but I’m sure your wondering how putting a birdhouse in your back yard is a fun activity to enjoy with your kids……

Well, aside from simply being able to watch the birds and interact outside with them, you can make it a fun activity by having the kids decorate their own birdhouse!

Here is a picture of a birdhouse my family decorated!

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All we did was purchase a wooden birdhouse. You can find these for cheap at Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart, Michaels, etc. Once you purchase your birdhouse, gather your decorations. We used paint, glitter, feathers and rhinestones. When the birdhouse is dry, it is ready to be displayed in its new home!!

We had a blast decorating our birdhouses and cant wait to see all the birds we attract! Do any of you have a birdhouse in your backyard?