I am thrilled to host a giveaway today from Maggie Bogart, who designs and makes gorgeous children’s clothing.  My little Scout was lucky enough to receive some of Maggie’s clothes and these adorable, soft and easy-t0-move-in clothes quickly became a favorite around our home. Maggie was kind enough to offer one lucky Fudge Banana Swirl reader a $100 gift certificate to use in her shop.  See below for details on how you can win this Maggie Bogart children’s clothing giveaway!

-THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED-

Edited on July 13, 2012 – Congrats to Mari Krell! You are the winner!  Please contact me to claim your gift card!

To enter:

Each person may enter up to 3 times. Leave a separate comment for each entry.

First Entry: Like Fudge Banana Swirl on Facebook (and leave a comment below)

Second Entry: Follow Fudge Banana Swirl on Twitter (and leave a comment below)

Third Entry: Pin any post from Fudge Banana Swirl on Pinterest (and leave a comment below)

Entries close at 6pm PST on July 11, 2012.  The winning comment will be chosen at random and posted on Fudge Banana Swirl by July 16, 2012.

 

I am so in love with these recycled cardboard playhouses from Build A Dream Playhouses.  This company, started by a dad looking to help boost his local economy and children’s imaginations, makes adorable cardboard playhouses and vehicles that can be painted, decorated and embellished by kids. They even sell packs of stickers that can be used to “soup up” your playhouse. Eco-friendly and adorable fun!

With delightful cuts and colors and fantastic prices, I am smitten with Joe Fresh for the whole family.  I especially love this season’s bright yellows and hints of navy, which would be perfect for a family portrait on the beach or simply for looking fabulous -

It’s Summer and a lot of families will be heading out on vacation.  Last year, my family and I went to Hawaii for our Summer vacation.  We had fun and made lots of memories, but the stress of traveling with two toddlers made the vacation, shall we say, less than relaxing.  As the Memorial Day holiday weekend approached, my husband and I decided that, instead of taking the kids someplace costly and far away, we would have our own little staycation.

I can honestly say that this was, hands down, the funnest four days we have spent as a family.  Everyone got to sleep in their own beds (i.e, got a good night’s sleep), we got to stick to their routine (i.e, no cranky kids) and my husband and I got to spend time together in the evenings (i.e., no being stuck in a hotel room after 8 p.m.)  We had so much fun that I think we will seriously consider another staycation as an alternative to travel.

Interested in saving some money and sanity and having your own family staycation?  Here are my tips -

1. Mark it in the calendar.  Treat your staycation like you would a vacation that requires travel and mark it in your calendar.  Set aside several days away from work and let family, coworkers and friends know that you will be on vacation. Our staycation was 4 days and that was a perfect amount of time for our family, but I imagine even a week would be awesome.

2. Get in the mindset. Relaxation and vacation is a state of mind; turn off your cell phones, unplug the computer and pour yourself a margarita.  You’re on vacation!

3. Just say NO to chores. It’s not a vacation if you spend it cooking and cleaning.  Eat out (unless you enjoy cooking – we hosted a barbecue one night), let the laundry pile up and leave the dishes in the sink.  Worried that your house will be a mess when staycation is over? Arrange for a cleaning service to come on the last day of your vacation (think of all the money you saved on airfare and hotels!)

4. Make a plan. I recommend having one to two scheduled activities every day.  My kids still take naps, so we planned one activity for the morning, came home for naps, and then enjoyed a planned activity each afternoon. Here was our Four Day Staycation Plan:

Day One: Disneyland (we blew off naps this day, knowing that they could sleep in the next day)

Day Two: Visit a local park to feed the ducks and fly a kite, home for naps, then our neighborhood water park in the afternoon

Day Three: Take a hike as a family and explore a new park, home for naps, then have friends over for a barbecue and board games

Day Four: Ride the carousel with Grandma and Grandpa, home for naps, set up the swimming pool in the backyard and have a bubble party. That evening, we made popcorn and watched “Bambi” as a family.

5. Take advantage of local attractions. If you have a theme park, museum or nearby attraction, plan a visit.  Sometimes we forget about the fun that’s in our own backyard!

6. Get a sitter.  Hire a sitter or get a grandparent to watch the kids one evening so you and your spouse can enjoy a nice meal, a movie or some grown-up time.  A walk on the beach or a drink at your favorite watering hole will make it feel like vacation.

7. Take photos. Make sure you take lots of photos, just like you do on a “real” vacation.  You are making wonderful memories with your family – don’t forget to document them!

 

Girl’s clothes can be difficult to organize.  You’ve got tights and bows and multiple pairs of shoes.  Keeping my daughter’s drawers organized and her clothes easily accessible is proving to be a full-time job.

The thing that perplexes me the most? Those little undies that go under every dress or skirt. I constantly find myself digging through every drawer and basket to find a bloomer that matches her dress.  Then this little idea struck me – use mini clothespins (available at any craft or notions store) to attach the dress to its matching bloomer.  I simply keep a jar of the clothespins in the laundry room and match up the sets as I fold laundry.  Viola! Problem solved.

If you’re like me, you have boxes and boxes of your child’s artwork sitting around.  I just can’t bring myself to throw it out, but I also know it isn’t really being enjoyed sitting in a shoebox under 12 layers of dust.  The delightful Liz Tamanaha of Paislee Press came up with the perfect solution for this problem – the Gallery Album No. 2.

The Gallery Album No. 2 from Paislee Press is is a set of layered templates (psd files) featuring open space and crisp white backgrounds, hand drawn frames and whimsical doodles – the perfect backdrop to showcase your most cherished photographs + artwork. Included in this kit are twenty 12×12 layered templates that you can mix and match to fit your project needs.  Liz has even included some awesome layouts to use your book as a journal of your kids’ lives.  It is a really amazing idea and a truly special thing that you can do for your children…. AND I HAVE ONE SET TO GIVE AWAY! (woohoo!)

This is going to be a Pinterest-only contest.  Don’t have Pinterest? Sign up, silly!  It’s awesome and chock-full of great ideas, crafts, recipes and inspiration.

To enter:

1. On Pinterest, pin at least 10 things from fudgebananaswirl.com using the hashtag #fudgebananaswirl

2. Leave a comment below with a link to your Pinterest board.

The contest will end at 5pm PST on June 7, 2012 and the winner will be announced on this blog by June 12, 2012.

*UPDATE*

Congrats to Debbie Chang (comment #11), who is the winner of the Paislee Press Giveaway.

I love KiwiCrate.com, a service that provides mail-order crafts and projects for kids.  This awesome service sends you one crate a month, which includes a couple of crafts or projects with a particular theme.  Available themes include dinosaurs, colors and gardening.  I think it would be especially great for busy moms and dads who don’t necessarily have the time to plan out projects or shop for supplies.  Such a fun idea and an awesome gift idea!

It’s almost Summer and swimsuit season is upon us.  I am always on the lookout for flattering and sexy swimsuits that hide the right things and allow me to run and play with my littles. I love this red polka dot suit from JCrew and, of course, I couldn’t resist pairing it with a darling suit for the babe -

Above: Janie & Jack Dot Bow Swimsuit (on SALE!) and JCrew Polka Dot Swing Top with Side-Tie Hipster Bottoms.

I admit that I’m a bit of a beauty product junkie.  I love makeup and hair and all things girlie, but I hate to spend a fortune on my habit.  Years of drugstore and (ahem!) Target shopping have yielded a packed-to-the-brim makeup bag full of awesome beauty buys, all under $12. Here are my six best beauty buys for under $12 -

1. Burt’s Bees Radiance Facial Cleanser ($12) – I once read that if you are going to skimp on facial-care products, your cleanser is a good place to save money, since it spends the least amount of time on your skin.  This cleanser is a nice, creamy face wash that easily removes makeup and doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry.

2. Covergirl Outlast Lipstain ($4) – I simply don’t have the patience to reapply lipstick or lip gloss throughout the day.  This lipstain is best described as a marker for your mouth; it’s easy to apply, lasts forever and doesn’t dry your lips out.  I have about 5 tubes of the Color #420 floating around my purse.

3. L’Oreal Paris Elnett Satin Hairspray ($12) – This hairspray goes on in a fine mist, brushes out easily and doesn’t leave your hair looking crunchy and dull.  It is WAY better than any salon hairspray that I’ve ever used.   If you are lucky enough to find some in your local drugtsore, buy a couple cans – this stuff is hard to find.

4. Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes ($11) – These face towelettes are great for those nights when you just can’t motivate yourself to wash off your makeup.  I keep them by my bedside for a pre-bed cleanse on those rare nights that a full face-washing just isn’t in the cards.  One towelette removes every last bit of makeup.

5. Maybelline New York The Colossal Volume Mascara ($6) – If time were of no consequence, I would wear big fake lashes every day of the week.  This mascara is the closest thing I’ve found to wearing falsies and it is CHEAP.  Trust me, I’ve spent five times this on one tube of designer mascara and nothing beats Maybelline New York.

6. Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo ($5) – Once a week, I wash with this clarifying shampoo, which removes all the gunk, product and crud from my long hair.  It is pure magic, and costs a fraction of the stuff you buy in the salon.

 

I would love to hear your favorite beauty buys!  Leave a comment below if you have any favorite to add to my arsenal!

An Awesome Book, by Dallas Clayton, has a simple message – don’t give up on your dreams.  It is one of those books that creeps in to your heart and stays there for a good long time.  With delightfully imperfect illustrations (also done by Clayton) and great rhythmic prose, An Awesome Book became an instant favorite with my three year old son.

But don’t let the fact that it’s a children’s book fool you – An Awesome Book is full of messages that any grown-up would be remiss to forget.  This book is full of life lessons and gentle reminders that life is about more than “matching silverware” and “telephones.”

The very best thing about An Awesome Book is it’s author, Dallas Clayton.  Inspired to write this book for his son, Dallas published the book independently and toured the country to promote it.  He even offers the entire book online for free, for folks who don’t have the resources to buy the book.  This book, and the story behind it, is truly a dream.