New Music Mondays Dinner Time Playlists

New Music Monday Dinner Time Playlists for teaching kids about good music. It is finally happening.  My son is taking an interest in music.  Better music.  He has always loved music but as of late, we’ve been forced to listen to novelty songs and One Direction.  Non-stop.  And his preference for Radio Disney left me and my ears wanting more.  A month ago I subtly suggested we try our local radio station, KIIS FM since a lot of the songs he likes are played on that station too.  And it worked.  That helped us to expand the genres of music is he is hearing.  As a result, he has shown interest in Imagine Dragons and One Republic.  But my happiest moment came the other day.  Although he wanted to create a playlist on the iPad to listen to (hurrah!) he was grounded from screens (boo!) so instead I turned on the radio in his room.  He came out after a few minutes, made me stop vaccuuming (amen!) and said, “I have a new favorite song.  It’s ‘Ain’t it Fun’ (Paramore).  Come on mom.  Come listen to it with me.”  I shot put the vaccuum and ran down the hall to his room.  I am a big fan of that song.  So we listened (he listened, I lip-synced) together.

I’m not a music snob but I don’t think that music needs to be dumbed down for kids.  Music is a big source of enjoyment for me and has been for as long as I can remember.  I was allowed to listen to pretty much anything that I wanted and I knew my boundaries in terms of language and themes, etc.  Just because I heard 2 Live Crew in junior high did not mean it made my behavior change.  I certainly wasn’t slanging rocks or getting horn  y.  Knowing how music has changed, I am not willing to just send my kids off with a radio for them to learn on their own.  I see music as a great way to open the dialogue between our children about not only music, but the art form and life lessons that come along with it and the words being sung.

So we are starting New Music Mondays Dinner Time Playlists!  Notice the new tab at the top of the page under the header?

I’m going to attempt to post a new New Music Mondays Dinner Time Playlist each Sunday night.  It will be right on my sidebar (do you see it over there on the right hand side of the screen?).  And you should be able to just hit play and listen along if you want to participate too.  Although I am listening to the songs all the way through as I make them, I can’t gurantee that they are free of all bad words.  I am pretty sure there is a “damn” in the Old School Rap Songs for Kids playlist.  Depending on your views, values, etc. I suggest that you listen to them through first so you are aware of exactly what you are sharing with your kids.  But be prepared for dance breaks.  We allow them to get up from dinner a few times to dance along with the music.  Mondays are pretty fun.

I LOVE old school rap.  And rap has been one of the hardest genres to share with my kids thus far.  When in the car, we mostly listen to Sirius which means that the rap stations are not edited or the clean versions of the songs.  So we have to skip them.  But I know that some of my favorites from when I was younger are just fine.  And beat boxing!  What kid doesn’t love that?!

So enjoy this week’s playlist.  I’d love to hear if you listen along so leave a comment!  Of course it doesn’t have to be on Monday.  I’ll leave the playlist up for the whole week and then I think I am going to host the past lists on my Facebook page so you can check out those too.  I’ll update you on that.  And I’ll update the tab at the top of the page with quick discussion tips for each playlist.  But only if you want to go that far.  These are just things we will bring up to our kids while listening but while this is learning for them, we really just want it to be fun.  Let’s rock.

Check out more info about New Music Mondays and see playlist talking points.

 

 

 

Choosing a Rug with your Spouse

*This is part one of a two-part post series I am doing for Flor Modular Carpet Tiles.  All opinions and arguments are mine.

I'm just a girl on a computer shopping for home decor. \\  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comYou may remember that I got a new dining room rug not too long ago.  It is from Flor and we LOVE it!  The colors make me SO happy and it really was the catalyst for making me want to bring more of my personality in to my home.  So now we’ve decided to add a Flor area rug to our living room.  At the moment, we have a rug in there that we bought two houses ago simply because we had a ton of space to fill and needed cheap rugs.  The color is boring and I just can’t wait to see it go.  Since I picked out the first rug, without even a mention to my husband, I knew it was important this time to let him weigh in on it.  So I browsed the site and he browsed the site and we compared our picks.  Choosing a rug with your spouse takes much compromise, discussion and bribery…

Great Flor Tile choices for a living room area rug.  \\  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comOh hey, color.  How are you?  And patterns, welcome to the party.  These are my picks.  I felt like I was playing it safe with #2 but thought it might be an interesting choice and a way to really add color to the room with accessories.

1  .  2  .  3

Dark Neutral Flor Tile options for living room rug.  \\  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThese are my husband’s picks.  A little bit different feel, wouldn’t you say?  When I got these choices from him I wasn’t that surprised but knew we would have to both compromise a little.

4  .  5  .  6

There are certainly things we need to think about, in terms of the space, that guided our choice.  But I think men and women think very differently about them.  We have two young boys so it had to be something that would hide stains pretty well.  Also this room is very dark by late afternoon.  We aren’t quite ready to get rid of our couch so the rug would have to at least go be able to play nicely with it for the time being.  And since this room adjoins the dining room, where our other fantastic rug is, the two rugs should probably speak the same language.  This was much harder than I thought it would be.

Flor Tiles are a great option for families with children.  \\  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAre you dying to see which one we chose?!  I can’t wait to share it with you!  Our plan is to put it together this weekend so be on the look out soon!

*Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Cupcakes and Cutlery going.  All opinions will always be mine.  Thank you Flor!

Getting a Modern Look in a Traditional Space

*This post is sponsored by Sauder. All opinions and tips are my own. My husband and I have really been discussing our home design aesthetic lately. We are currently giving our living room a makeover. But the process can be a long and difficult task when you are short on money and long on individual opinions. Add to the fact that we are renting our home and we kind of have to work with what we have. Our “base” is pretty traditional while our tastes run more towards a modern look. The modern feel we love nods to mid century modern with a clean, uncluttered vibe that is full of natural light. We struggle with just how modern we want to go (my husband – all the way, me – a more laid back, homey modern approach). We also struggle with the use of colors. I LOVE colors, whereas to keep it looking clean, my husband prefers to have only a few pops of one or two colors. As you can see from the mantle, most of the color comes from the flowers while the other accessories remain neutral. We don’t always have fresh flowers in our house, but they are the perfect way to add more color to a room, temporarily. And you can keep them in just a few colors or really mix it up with a colorful bouquet. Our biggest hurdle has been finding affordable furniture, that fits our budget, that will have big impact on the style of our room. But I think we finally have a solution in Sauder furniture. Until we decide on what furniture we need and how to lay it out in the room, we have focused more on the decor elements of the room to get us closer to the look we want.

To keep a clean, modern look, everything should have a use. To me, that can look a little to sparse and cold. So I’ve been searching for accessories that have a modern vibe. I found this vase, which reminds me of a high end modern pottery designer’s products, at my local craft store and was able to purchase it with a coupon. With the traditional look of the fireplace, we really need to try hard to add modern touches through decor.

Because I need to buy a few pieces of furniture to make this room over, I’m really trying to watch how I spend my money in other areas of the room. By repurposing things I already own, I am able to style the area without spending money. Here I’ve used an empty whiskey bottle and a wooden candlestick holder as vases (the wooden candlestick holder actually has a little metal insert for the candle so it can hold a smidge of water to keep that flower alive for a few days). The brass candlestick holders were purchased on clearance around the holidays and provide a little shine to the mantle. And while I used to hate the wall of mirrors, it is needed to keep that room bright all day. Thanks to the position of our home, that room loses natural light just after lunch time. But thanks to that wall of mirror and a sliding glass door opposite, light gets bounced back in to the room.

I think it is also very important when designing a room, even if you are trying to keep to a certain look, to put some of yourself in the room including one or two conversation pieces. Those tend to have big impact while not cluttering a space. This George Washington pillow is the only throw pillow we have on the couch (otherwise, my kids would make a fort out of them) and it demonstrates both my love for U.S. Presidents and my husbands love of Americana perfectly.

Modern rooms tend to be clear of clutter and with everything having a purpose. The media console we have now does not provide a spot for us to hide the DVD player. So it sits out on top of the console which I think is an eyesore. In this case, I felt a little styled vignette was in order to draw the attention away from the DVD player. And look, it is holding our Apple TV remote so that counts as function, right?

The media console is one of the pieces of furniture that we will be replacing. I am in love with the clean lines and modern vibe of this media console from Sauder. And guess what? My husband and I both love the style. You know how you find a new company and get super excited over their stuff only to click through and realize that you can’t afford any of it? Well, that is not the cause with Sauder. Not only do they carry pieces that perfectly fit our modern aesthetic, but the prices are totally affordable. This company gets it. They think you should be able to furnish your home in style without breaking the bank. Amen. You can see the entire Soft Modern collection, which is TOTALLY amazing, on their website or their Pinterest page. And they have styles to suit all different tastes. With these pieces, we can achieve the modern look we want in this house but can take with us if we move again. And because the furniture is so affordable, we can change out some of the other pieces that don’t fit the look we are trying to achieve. Awesome. This room is far from finished but I am super excited with how it is coming together. I can’t wait to feel good about inviting people in to our home!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sauder Woodworking. The opinions and text are all mine.

Healthier Snack Ideas for Kids

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There are decent granola bar options for kids to snack on.I decided to sit my kids down the other day to see if I could figure out some healthier snacking options for them.  I started off by asking them what their favorite junk foods are.  My oldest said, “the middle of those chocolate sandwich cookies, chocolate caramel pretzel granola bars, lattes (He’s joking, he’s never had a latte.  That I am aware of.) and ice cream.  My youngest said, “ice cream, any kind of chocolate, pretty much all candy and gummy fruit snacks.”  I wasn’t surprised by their answers.  And that was a good starting point for trying to give them better options while still getting a little bit of what they want.  What do you think your kids would say?

Both of my kids love chocolate so I try to cut down the amount they get by pairing it with fruit or pretzels. Studies show that dark chocolate has good properties, right?  And moderation is the key.  So I am fine including chocolate in their snacking.  But I make sure that it isn’t the entire snack and that I pair it with fruit or pretzels, both of which go AMAZING with dark chocolate.  This way, they aren’t eating an entire chocolate bar, or a bunch of chocolate candy, but getting a little to satisfy their cravings.

Dried fruit can take the place of high sugar gummy snacks.My youngest would happily survive on gummy snacks if I let him.  So I decided to try swapping them with straight up dried fruit.  While there is still a lot of sugar in dried fruit, there isn’t all the other funky chemicals like in those crazy-colored, super chewy fruit gummies.  At least I am pretty sure there isn’t all that other stuff in there…

sunflower seeds make a healthier snack for kids but is still crunchy with some salt.Sometimes they ask for chips or sugar cereals for a snack.  Due to food allergies, we can’t give them nuts, but salted sunflower seeds are a great substitute.  They are crunchy and salty with good fats which their little bodies need.  I, on the other hand, need to be careful with these in the house because I want to eat them by the spoonful.  So yummy.

sunbutter and banana "quesadilla" is a great after school snack idea.When they get home from school I like to give them a snack that is a little bit more hearty.  If I don’t, I find they ask for more food several times leading up to dinner.  For this snack I make Sunbutter and banana “quesadillas”.  There is no cheese in these, they just look like a quesadilla.  The Sunbutter is a great substitute for peanut butter (dumb allergies) and the banana is a nice sweet touch.  You can make it even a little bit more decadent by spraying a non-stick pan with a little bit of spray oil and then grilling it up.  Oh man.  Try this.   [Read more...]

#HonestTurns2 with a Party

Honest Company 2nd Birthday Party #HonestTurns2It was a cold, rainy night.  The idea of heading up to Los Angeles for an event in this kind of weather normally would have taken me too far out of my comfort zone (freeway driving, rain, I couldn’t wear my pajamas) and I would have flaked out.  But the event was for The Honest Company and I was intrigued.  My boys and I were invited to attend their 2nd birthday party.  I was familiar with the company but associated them mostly with baby products.  It knew it would be a great opportunity to find out more about what they stand for as a company, what else they offer in terms of products and well, the kids love the idea of Los Angeles (where all the Disney celebrities are).

Party Time at Honest Company #HonestTurns2The party was really amazing.  As were the Honest Company offices where the party was held.  The design was cool, all the people were crazy friendly and it was created to be family so I wasn’t worried (well, a little worried) that my kids would break something.  The party was divided up in to three rooms, food and mingling, face painting and balloon animals and a playroom/showroom.  I think you can tell a lot about a company from their offices.  Their message was visible for all to see in a cool way (that rad printed wall – and on the stairs not pictured), the design was organic and modern (which is mimicked in their packaging and overall aesthetic) and I even spied a ping-pong table in the break room (there is a sense of playfulness throughout the office and the employees).  While they are serious about what they do, they are totally personable.  And aside from their celebrity status, they are just like us – parents looking to provide safe, quality products for their families to use every day.

Made to order beignets station at Honest Company #HonestTurns2Oh and can we talk about the Made-to-Order Beignets station for a minute?  That is the first time I have seen this at a party and it was awesome.  You know those moments when your kids do something and you think, I couldn’t love you more than I do at this moment right now?  Well, my oldest son took a bite of a warm, fresh beignet and gasped.  It sort of freaked me out for a minute due to his food allergies.  I thought, well, shit.  Is this going to be the first time I have to epi-pen him?  Am I going to end up ugly crying on E News?  So I grabbed him and asked him if he was ok.  He looked at me and said, “My mouth has never been so happy.”  Looks like someone might have his mama’s sweet tooth after all.

Rad party decor at Honest Company #HonestTurns2The decorations were super fun!  The kids were celebratory immediately upon seeing all the bright colors and huge balloons.  I hoped there weren’t any long pokey things around because my youngest son was pretty much dead set on trying to pop the balloons with confetti in them.  To make it “confetti rain.”  I didn’t hate the idea.

boys first photo booth #HonestTurns2And the boys got to have their first photo booth experience…

Boys first photo booth at Honest Company #HonestTurns2I only let them do one set of photos.  These things can be addicting and I didn’t want them hogging it for the rest of the night.

Photo booth fun at Honest Company #HonestTurns2But of course I had to jump in for at least one picture.  The backdrop was made from gorgeous paper flowers created by Bloom Box Designs.  You all know I love to throw a party so it was cool to see an event so well done.  From the event staff to the decorations and catering, they totally nailed it.  And if you asked my kids their favorite part of the party it would totally be the face painting/balloon gal.  She was very talented.  My oldest asked her to come to his birthday party.

Fill your own gift bag with Honest products #HonestTurns2The Honest Company was VERY generous with their favors.  They gave me a tote bag and told me to fill it up with whatever products I wanted.  I didn’t want to be greedy but I didn’t even know that they made some of these things!  I took my time going through their product line while the kids played on an indoor play area (a permanent structure in the office since the co-founders often bring their kids in with them).  While I knew they had diapers, and wipes, I had no idea that they had a full line of cleaning products (dish soap, laundry detergent, cleaning towels and more), personal care products (detangler, shampoos and conditioner, sunscreen and more) or even health and wellness (vitamins and immunity boosters for the whole family and more).  I am very excited to introduce these products in to our daily routine.

Stroller collab with Honest Company and Baby Jogger via Honest Company Collective #HonestTurns2And have you heard about The Collective?  Honest partnered with an array of baby focused companies to collaborate on limited edition products.  Check out their site for the full line but they include things like this stroller, swaddling blankets with Aden and Anais (which were a favorite of mine for both of my kids), a diaper caddy, a crib and this rad diaper bag.  I asked Jessica about the collection and LOVED what I heard.  They looked to companies that put out a great product and like-minded in their aim to create non-toxic, natural products for design loving families.  The diaper bag, for instance, was something that Jessica ran across while shopping at the Brooklyn Flea Market.  Instantly she knew LayerXLayer would make the perfect uni-sex diaper bag and the collaboration talks began.

Jessica Alba of Honest Company #HonestTurns2Co-founders Jessica and Christopher Gavigan both spoke briefly about the company and how excited they were to be celebrating their second birthday.  I have to tell you, I have not stopped thinking about this company since I left the party.  Both were so passionate about what they do and it is infectious and makes you want to support their dream.  Christopher seems well-versed in legislation and extremely knowledgable from a product standpoint.  And this is not a vanity project for Jessica.  She knows her stuff.  And when she said that while she loves the environment, she loves her family more – she had me.  But I was so far off.  While that is a main focus for them, that is not all they are about.  I am grateful to have gotten a chance to get to know the brand better.  I loved what I saw and am excited to become even more familiar with their products.  I was taken by surprise at how responsive my Instagram followers were about my Honest Company posts.  Seems I might be a little late to the party.  A lot of you already know about their commitment to quality, safe products.  So tell me, what is your favorite Honest Company product?  Are you a Member?

Thank you for having us, Honest!  Congrats on creating an amazing company and watching out for our family’s health and wellness.  For more info on the party search the #HonestTurns2 hashtag.

Do you like me on Facebook?  Come on over and check out the rest of the photos I took from the event.  And see my event recap over on Savvy Sassy Moms.