Fun Craft Trio for Winter

Looking for a creative way to keep the kids entertained on a rainy or snowy winter day? We’ve found a trio of adorable crafts for kids that celebrate the season and may entertain you (or your sitter) as much as they do the kids.

DIY Cut Leaf Cars

Before the last leaf falls, grab your chance to create a fun afternoon with your child. Take a walk to enjoy the fall foliage and select your favorite fallen treasures. After a warm lunch or cup of cocoa following your walk, tackle this simple craft that’s just right for practicing scissor skills. Draw a simple car outline on a leaf and have your child cut the lines to create a car. You’ll want to do the windows, as an XActo will work best. Via The Art Room Plant.

via The Art Room Plant
via The Art Room Plant

Recycled Egg Carton Owl

The creative minds at Art and Soul Preschool came up with this ingenious use of an egg carton after observing that pieces of the carton looked amazingly like owls. And they do! See their site for step-by-step instructions, or simply use the photo as inspiration, cut sections for eyes and bodies, and let kids “build” an owl from the pieces. It’s best to paint the sections first, and glue them together once dry.

via Art and Soul Preschool
via Art and Soul Preschool

Cookie Cutter Bird Feeders

Help keep feathered friends fed through the winter with these easy bird feeder ornaments. You can hang them on a tree in your backyard or at the park. This recipe doesn’t require peanut butter, like many others do, so it’s also great for taking to your child’s classroom for a fun, fall party project. Recipe provided by Prudent Baby.


3/4 cup birdseed (seed for small birds works best)
1/4 cup water
1 small envelope of Knox gelatin
Twine or string
Cookie cutters, molds or mason jar lids
Wax paper


Mix together the envelope of gelatin with 1/4 cup of water and bring to a simmer while stirring. Continue stirring until the gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for a minute. Stir in the 3/4 cup birdseed, adding a little more if there is liquid in the bottom of the pan. Lay cookie cutters out on wax paper and fill halfway with the birdseed mixture. Cut twine, knot the end and push the knot down into the birdseed. Continue filling with birdseed, covering the end of twine and knot.
Push the birdseed evenly into the cookie cutter until it’s full. Allow to dry overnight. Turning them over every now and then.
Remove from the cookie cutters and hang them in a tree.

via Prudent Baby
via Prudent Baby

Remember, if crafting is not your thing, these creative projects are perfect for passing along to your sitter to tackle with the kids while you’re away. 

Tasty Twists on Thanksgiving Recipe Favorites

Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner or delegated with contributing a dish, Pinterest is the place to be for recipe inspiration and how to. We’ve done some digging to narrow in on a few of our favorite pins to help you create delicious dishes with a tasty spin on your tried-and-true Thanksgiving favorites. Check out UrbanSitter’s Savoring the Season board for more great ideas.

5 Thanksgiving Recipes with a Modern Spin

1. Give the marshmallows a break this year and bring on the sweet potatoes in a whole new way with this sweet potato soup featuring pumpkin seeds and thyme. Easy on the chef, this pot of creamy, autumnal goodness can be made in advance of the big day and kept warm until you are ready to garnish and serve.

via Sweet Paul
via Sweet Paul

2. Pumpkin can lead the meal as a tasty appetizer like this pumpkin bruschetta just as well, if not better, than a classic pumpkin pie. 

via Sweet Paul
via Sweet Paul

3. Indulge in these acorn squash boats – so hearty it might just bump the turkey from its prime spot on the table.

via A Cozy Kitchen
via A Cozy Kitchen

4. Let this savory mushroom and leek tart serve as the star of a vegetarian feast. Even present it as a hearty starter or side dish for vegetarians and carnivores alike.

via Rachael Ray
via Rachael Ray

5.  Save some cash and surprise your guests with this delectable, spiced apple cider sangria. No one will miss the pricey wine.

via theKitchn
via theKitchn

Share your favorites and check back for more Pins for Parents – Thanksgiving Desserts.

Have an extra set of hands to entertain the kids while you prep for Thanksgiving – book a sitter online at

6 Festive Kids’ Crafts That Are Good Enough to Eat

For busy parents and babysitters, what could be better than a delightful kid’s craft and a snack wrapped into one? Edible art projects keep kids entertained, engaged and fed without much fuss. This is incredibly helpful especially when you are preparing holiday meals and entertaining guests. These are also great projects to have grandparents or guests spearhead while you cook–or set these up with your sitter for a fun afternoon activity.

Edible Festive Kids’ Craft Projects

Fruit Gobbler Turkey

via Spoonful
via Spoonful

Unload some of your holiday dirty work by letting the kids create the centerpiece for the big Turkey Day table. This big turkey is loaded with fruits and veggies that your kids will love assembling (while you work on dinner), and enjoy gobbling up just as much. You’ll need:

Bosc pear (head), Melon (body), Cheese (beak and tail feathers), Red pepper (snood, feet and side feathers), Raisins (eyes), Grapes (tail feathers), Bamboo skewers, Toothpicks.

Find complete instructions at

Hairy Spider

via Kids Activities Blog
via Kids Activities Blog

Forget about the Halloween craft featuring a fat marshmallow as the body of a creepy crawler. These hairy spiders are of the healthy variety and for tots fascinated by bugs and they work any time of year. We can thank Kids Activities Blog for showing us how to easily create a healthy snack with a chunk of banana dipped in flax seed, pretzels for spider legs and raisins for eyes.

Another Turkey to Gobble

via Cute Food For Kids
via Cute Food For Kids

There’s no shortage of edible turkey crafts to tackle. We think this guy is pretty darn cute and simple enough for little kids to handle without frustration. There are two options – a healthy one made with clementine sections and a “special treat” version that uses skewers of candy for feathers. Both work the same way: cut the bottom off of an apple, flip it around and stick it to the other end with a toothpick to create a stable base. Next, thread oranges or candy and marshmallows to toothpicks and insert for the bird’s feather. Create a head and face out of construction paper, and let your own little turkey stick it on the apple body with another toothpick.

Candy Necklaces

via Blondie and Brownies
via Blondie and Brownies

Creating candy necklaces is a smart activity to help kids practice counting and patterns and to improve their fine motor skills. It also makes for a great project for a party, since it’s relatively simple and low fuss. There are tons of options for edible bits to string for a DIY edible necklace. Think fruit loops, mini marshmallows, Cheerios and pretzels. Blondie and Brownies suggests buying a few yarn darners, essentially large-eyed needles, to help with the threading (she found a set of 7 at Walmart for under $2).

A Mouthful of Teeth

via Kid Spot
via Kid Spot

Apple slices + peanut butter + mini marshmellows = a mouthful of teeth! No detailed instructions are needed for this adorable and yummy craft. Simply slice apples, spread with peanut butter or a nut-free alternative (cream cheese would work well) for denture cream, and stick mini marshmallows along the “gums” for teeth. Voila! Who wouldn’t smile at these?

Cheesy Reindeer

via Cute Food For Kids

You may cringe at the thought or jump for joy, but November 29 marks the start of the Christmas season! Get your kids in the spirit by plunging into a wintertime craft. Adorable reindeer are perfect for little hands to create with a Laughing Cow cheese wedge, pretzels for antlers, olives for eyes and a bit of red pepper for a nose. Cute Food for Kids provides a handy tip – use a straw from a juice box to punch out tiny eyes from an olive, and a fatter straw to create the nose from a bell pepper.

Leave these handy craft activities with your sitter while you’re out holiday shopping – search for babysitters online at

This Fall’s Must-Do Activities with Kids

fall activities for kids
photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt

Ahhh, Autumn. It’s many people’s favorite season, and for good reason — the nip in the air, the crisp leaves, the pumpkin-flavored espresso drinks — to name just a few. And for little ones, there’s loads of fun to be had. Why not take the whole family and indulge in one of these sure-to-please Fall diversions on your next free weekend?

1. Pumpkin Patch

Now, this one is a classic, tried and true. Children are just as pleased with a trip to the super market aisle or an off-the-freeway patch complete with jumpy house. But most counties have at least one big, fall-festival-like patch with a corn maze, hot cider stand, and maybe even a petting zoo.

These off-the-beaten-track spots offer a little something extra and really bring the experience home. Plus, the car ride builds anticipation. Check out these safe, no-carve pumpkin decorating ideas.

2. Apple Picking

If you venture out a little further into the country (or deep suburbs in some spots), you can usually find a place to pick apples when Fall rolls around.

A family farm is the typical backdrop and kids as young as one or two can join in the fun. Apple orchards are heaving with fruit this time of year and for a small fee, you can borrow a basket and pick as many you like (or want to pay for), as you meander amongst the trees and livestock. Have a taste or make apple cider at home! This is a fun, easy activity for families and makes for a great photo op as well. Some farms require an appointment, so do your research.

3. Pie Making

Once you’ve picked your apples (or purchased them at the grocery store), why not share the experience of making a home-made pie with your kids?

Whether you have Grandma’s tried and true recipe or one just downloaded, the kids will love the hands-on experience…and delectable result. You can even let the kids use cookie cutters to decorate the crust….easy as pie! And sure to fill your home with a delicious Fall aroma.

4. Jumping in Leaves

A classic straight out of a Normal Rockwell painting. But truly, leaf jumping never gets old for kids–or even dogs. Just use a standard rake to gather the leaves in your yard and let them go to town. Of course, you will have to deal with the end product — a mess of crispy leaf bits, but it’s worth it…right?

If you don’t have a yard full of leaves, head to your favorite park and do the same. In that case, the kids will have to gather the leaves themselves, but that in itself can be a great diversion.

Whatever you do this Fall, enjoy yourself! It’s a cozy season filled with rosy cheeks, full moons, and warm sweaters. Plus, before you know it, the madness of the holidays will be upon you. So get out there!

Find babysitters & nannies at

7 One-Pot Family Dinners to Welcome Fall

If you’ve had a minute to come up for air, you may have noticed that fall is nearly here. It’s time to give your BBQ a rest, forgo the salads and bring a touch of the season to your table with warm, homey, harvest dinners your family will love. The ones we’ve selected capture the season in a single pot, which means they are low-fuss and minimum mess. We hope you and yours enjoy them as much as we do.

One-pot Family Meals – Fall Recipes

1. Sweet Potato Soup

This creamy, mild soup is simple to make and truly autumn in a bowl. You can feel good about filling your family’s hungry bellies with such a healthy dose of anti-oxidants. Add a bit of chili for some heat and top with toasted pumpkin seeds for a satisfying crunch.

Sweet Paul Magazine

2. Braised Pork Ragu with Pappardelle

Dinner a Love Story calls this dish an “instant dinner party,” and explains it by saying it’s ideal for preparing in advance of your guests arrival, it tastes divine – warm and hearty – and leaves your house smelling wonderfully welcoming. If you don’t have guests coming, why not serve it for a nice Sunday family dinner.  We like her idea of serving it with a salad that has a little sweetness, such as greens with pears, blue cheese and pine nuts.

Pork Ragu
Dinner a Love Story

3. Kid-Friendly Chili

Some would argue that there’s no better way to spend a Saturday than inviting a bunch of friends over to watch a football game. Few would dispute that there’s no better way to feed them than to whip up a big batch of chili. This particular chili recipe may be just the one you’re looking to find. It was designed with kids in mind and adapted to suit a wide range of tastes, taking into consideration not just spiciness and the bean debate, but also texture. It calls for ground beef or turkey, but of course, simply omit it of you prefer a vegetarian version.

Kid-Friendly Chili
Butter Yum Blog

4. One-Pan Lasagna

One of the many amazing, family-friendly meal ideas from Tyler Florence’s cookbook, “Start Fresh,” this lasagna-in-a-skillet recipe is full of taste and appealing to kids and adults alike. It’s oohy and gooey and just right for warming bellies. Serve it with a loaf of crusty bread and a nice Chianti for Mom and Dad.

One-Pan Lasagna
Tyler Florence

5. Kale Chickpea and Chicken Soup

Not your ordinary chicken soup. There’s nothing wimpy about this soup for the soul. It’s soothing and simple enough for little kids to gobble up without hesitation. Use leftover roasted chicken or pick up a nice one at the grocery store to make this a quick prep meal.  Don’t omit the rosemary croutons, as they add a good chunky, heartiness that make this a meal and not just a bowl of soup.

Kale, Chicken and Chickpea Soup
Feasting at Home

6. One-Pot Roasted Chicken and Veggies

Family Fresh Cooking calls this chicken recipe the perfect meal for those on grain-free, gluten-free meal plans. It’s a protein packed, veggie rich dinner you pop into a pot and let simmer while you do something more important, like tackle a fall craft with your kids or curl up with a book.

Roasted Chicken and Veggies
Family Fresh Cooking

7. Creamy White Bean Stew

The Cozy Apron describes this thick, hearty stew as a “warm blanket for the inside of the body.” It’s a wonderful choice for a rainy, dreary day. Be assured that there’s nothing bland about its milky whiteness. It’s spiked with smoky, thick-cut bacon, and fragrant herbs.

White Bean Stew
The Cozy Apron

If you find these recipes appealing and inspiring, check out our Pinterest Board, “Easy, Kid-Friendly Dinners for Busy Families,” for more great ideas for feeding your family.

5 Special Back-to-School Traditions to Start this Year

IMG_0374Even if you are sad to see the summer go, there’s no denying the excitement a new school year brings. You can get your kids motivated for a fresh start and build lasting memories by starting back-to-school traditions you can repeat each year. These fun, memorable traditions will have everyone raring to go!

To help you create traditions that are just right for your family, we’ve pinned loads of great back-to-school ideas, tips and products to our Back-to-School Pinterest Board and included links below. We hope they are helpful!

Start a New Back-to-School Tradition:

1. Super Star Shopping Date

Remember the thrill of picking out new school clothes when you were a kid? Maybe you got a new backpack, lunchbox or some fresh kicks.  No matter how much or how little was on the shopping list or what’s on your list for your own kids, everyone loves  starting the year with something new.

  • Take advantage of pre-fall sales and hit the stores with your child. Make him or her the center of attention by arranging to send siblings on a playdate or hiring a sitter to take over while the two of you are on a date.
  • Stock up on school supplies, gear and clothes for the new year.
  • Keep budgets in check by first doing a closet and drawer assessment with your child, deciding together what’s needed. Organized Home posts helpful strategies for Back-to-School Shopping.
  • Make shopping a fun event by including a stop for lunch and using the time with your child to talk about highlights of the summer, and plans and goals for the new year.

2. Meet a New Teacher and Host a New Friend

For a child, walking into a new classroom can be a scary thing. Seeing a familiar face in the room always makes it a bit a easier. Take advantage of opportunities to meet the new teacher and visit the classroom to build familiarity and calm first-day anxieties. It’s also helpful, if you have a class roster or know of a child who will be in the same class, to schedule a playdate with a classmate who happens to be an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile or make an introduction to a new friend.

Turn it into a fun tradition by making it an annual project to find a new or long-lost friend to meet up with after orientation day. You can make it extra special by meeting at a local park and bringing a treat to share or at a local ice cream shop for Back-to-School cones.

3. Tweak your Routine and Refresh your Homework Station or Quiet Time Spot

morning routine
Photo: IHeart Organizing

Being organized feels fantastic and  gives everyone in the family a sense of control and preparedness. Have a tradition of holding a family meeting to discuss with older kids what could be improved from last year and to share with everyone what the routine will be once school starts.

This is the time to roll out new calendars, introduce new sitters and make sure kids know what to expect. There are lots of free printables that will help you organize expectations, including chore charts, weekly planners, lunchbox planners you can create with your child, and even simple This is Our Morning Routine and This is Our After-School Routine printable charts that will help kids stay focused and limit the number of times you’ll be barking orders, such as “Put your shoes on!”

If you have school-age kids, now is the time to refresh supplies for homework and organize them in a location that’s easy for kids to access. For younger kids, you can perk up the quiet time area, maybe adding a few new books to the collection or making a space more inviting by seeing that it has a comfy spot to rest and plenty of light for reading.

4. Share a Story and a Craft

Get kids excited about school and address concerns and worries by sharing a book about starting school. Picture books can help to reassure kids about starting school or going to a new school, and they also serve as catalysts for better communication at home. Check this handy list of top children’s books about starting school, including books that talk about first day jitters, how to make new friends and simply what to expect so the day is not so scary.

If you have a crafty crew, get them excited for the big day by spending time together on a Back-to-School project.  Red Ted Art has a popular round-up of back to school craft ideas that are sure to get school spirit soaring.

5. Make the First Day Extra Special

first day of school sign
Photo: Just Imagine

Create a tradition of great fanfare on the first day of school! This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours planning menus and creating DIY decorations. It just means putting a little extra TLC into the day to turn it exciting and memorable. Here are some simple ideas you can do each year:

  • Get up earlier to set a pretty breakfast table with fresh flowers and a favorite breakfast that you don’t typically serve on a week-day morning, such as these French Toast Roll-ups that are so easy, they could easily become a week-day staple.
  • Have each child pose for a First Day photo you can save in special photo album. Take it up a notch by having your child hold a small sign or chalkboard  marked with the date and a personal note, such as his favorite activity or what he wants to be when he grows up.
  • Pack a special lunchbox treat with a note reminding the recipient that you are thinking of him all day long.
  • Pick up a special after-school snack, such as these Chocolate Coconut Graham Crackers that take good’ole graham crackers to a new level,  or a all the fixings for First Day sundaes. Take time out of your day to either sit with your child or call them to hear the highlights of the big day.

One more tradition to start (just for mom and dad): The occasional night out! Find a trusted babysitter at

7 Pumpkin Projects for Little Ones

Photo by D Sharon Pruitt

There’s a pretty good chance you’ve taken your kids to a pumpkin patch, farmer’s market or even a grocery store this weekend, and are now living with a menagerie of pumpkins, little and big. Do you realize you’re sitting on a goldmine of kid craft potential?!

Bring your pumpkins to the table, gather your craft supplies, call a friend or two to make a fun play date out of it, and get down to business! Not the crafty type or invited more than a few friends? Call in a sitter to help!

Here are 7 of our favorite pumpkin projects:

Gourd FamilyStack miniature pumpkins to build a replica of your own family.  The gourd people on are made by gluing natural materials, such as acorns, nuts, leaves, and flowers… which means you can start your project by taking a nature walk to gather supplies.

Giggly Ghoul: They’ll be giggling so hard, they’ll have a hard time finishing this one. Talk about bang for your buck – insert two thumbtacks for eyes,  carve out a mouth and insert removable teeth. How can these not have you in stitches?!

Fall Leaves + Pumpkin = Perfect decoration for the table, foyer or front porch: Gather gorgeous fall leaves and dry them under a book for several days. Brush decoupage glue on a pumpkin (white is especially nice). Arrange the leaves on the pumpkin’s surface, cutting small slits along the edges of the leaves as you go, so they’ll fit the pumpkin’s contours. Coat the decorated surface in decoupage glue.

Message on a Pumpkin: Put on your thinking caps and come up with a fun message to write/paint/glue on your pumpkins. How about your family name (with a pumpkin for each letter), or a spooky Halloween shout-out like “Boo,” “Beware,” or “Who Goes There?!” You can cater to your kids’ ages and abilities, keeping it simple with glitter glue or stepping it up by glue-gunning buttons, acorns or candy to spell out your message.

Give Thanks: How about making a festive vessel for a bouquet of fall flowers? Clean out the insides of your pumpkin (save the seeds for snack time), and insert a handful of fall flowers or branches. You can make it a spooky treat (and a bigger project) by first painting the pumpkin, then giving it a face. Don’t carve out too much, as you’ll want to fill it with a bit of water if you hope to make it last.

Talking Pumpkin: This one will get the neighborhood trick-or-treaters talking! Carve a face for your pumpkin, scary or silly will work. Instead of making a removable top, cut a hole in the bottom. Once cleaned and carved, sit your masterpiece atop a baby monitor. Voila, you have a talking pumpkin!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: Wait, don’t throw out that muck! Make a toasty snack of pumpkin seeds. It’s as simple as digging through the strings and pulp – what better job for a crew of little hands – and cleaning off the seeds. Spread the pumpkin seeds on baking sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake 45 minutes at 325 degrees, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted. Yum!

Need a sitter for the pre- or post-Halloween weekend? Log on to UrbanSitter and search for a babysitter by date & time.