Get Your Red, White and Blue On with Crafts + Recipes!

Fire up your family’s patriotism with these fun craft and recipe ideas for celebrating the Fourth of July! We’ve rounded up two easy 4th of July crafts and two deliciously festive recipes.

Patriotic Bike Streamers via AlphaMom
Patriotic Bike Streamers via AlphaMom

Craft: DIY Patriotic Streamers

Lead your own neighborhood parade in style! Tie some streamers and balloons to your stroller and help your kids decorate their bike or scooter with these DIY patriotic streamers we found on AlphaMom.

Supply list is simple:

1. a pair of toilet paper tubes
2. curling ribbon and/or crepe paper streamers
3. inexpensive water-based children’s poster paint in patriotic colors
4. star stickers
5. paint brushes
6. a stapler and/or normal household tape

To create:

  1. Have kids paint the tubes one color –the base coat. (Resist mixing colors since you’ll end up with purple or pink instead of the red white and blue theme!).
  2. Once base coat is dry, let them decorate the tube by painting on stars, stripes, flags, hearts, whatever else says 4th of July. And adding stickers, too.
  3. Once everything is dry, staple and/or tape the streamers or curling ribbon in strips to the end of the tubes. Curl the ribbons.
  4. Slip the decorated tubes of streamers over the ends of your child’s handle bars, and voila, patriotic streamers!

You’ll all have a blast circling the block in holiday style. Blow some horns, shake some noise makers and belt out our national anthem to your heart’s content. Your kids will never forget it.

Patriotic Streamers for Bikes and Scooters via AlphaMom
Patriotic Streamers for Bikes and Scooters via AlphaMom

Recipe: Fruity Yogurt “Bomb Pops”

Homemade Bomb Pops from Healthnut Foodie
Homemade Bomb Pops from Healthnut Foodie

Remember those brilliant red, white and blue popsicles you likely devoured as a child?  They scream patriotism!  Make your own healthy version with yogurt, blueberries and strawberries:

Homemade Bomb Pops (Recipe care of Healthnut Foodie)

Makes 16 small or 8 large popsicles

For the red layer:  Puree 1 pint hulled strawberries with 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt.  Fill popsicle molds 1/3 of the way full with strawberry/yogurt mixture.  Transfer molds to freezer and freeze for about 30 minutes, to prevent the layers from mixing.  (There is no need to put the sticks in at this time.)  Rinse blender.

For the white layer:  When 30 minutes have lapsed, remove popsicle molds from freezer.  Reserve 3/4 cup of the yogurt for the blue layer.  Use remaining vanilla yogurt to fill molds 2/3 of the way full.  Return popsicles to freezer just long enough to prepare the blue layer.

For the blue layer:  Puree 1 1/2 cups blueberries with remaining 3/4 cup vanilla yogurt.  Remove popsicles from freezer and fill with blueberry puree.  Add sticks to popsicles and return to freezer.  Freeze for at least 2 hours.  Serve and enjoy!

Or, you could always throw caution to the wind (after all, it is a holiday!) and go for the ones you used to eat as a kid.  You can find them at Walmart.


Sparkler Printable from Delightfully Noted
Sparkler Printable from Delightfully Noted

Craft: Sparkler Printables

Light up the night with sparkler favors. Thanks to this free printable, you can turn any ordinary box of sparklers into fun, festive favors for any family or friend gathering. Download the sparkler printables here, and be sure to print them on heavy card stock. Cut a slit above and below the solid blue block and slide a few sparklers through. ** Of course, never leave children unattended with sparklers, and be sure to explain the dangers of fire and the importance of being careful of sparklers before you light them. **

Recipe: Refreshing Watermelon Sundaes


Red White and Blue Sundaes from
Red White and Blue Sundaes from

Red White & Blue Watermelon Sundaes

Recipe adapted by Babble from

Use a melon scooper to make watermelon balls (or could use frozen yogurt or raspberry sorbet)
4 cups watermelon balls
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup sweetened whipped cream or thick plain or vanilla yogurt
Red, white and blue star sprinkles

Gently mix together the watermelon and blueberries. Divide among 4 sundae bowls. Top each with a dollop of whipped cream or yogurt and sprinkle with red ,white and blue sprinkles. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Keep your party going this July 4th by joining your community at a family-friendly holiday parade, fireworks show or festival. Stay tuned for our July 4th Even Guide for ideas and info!

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6 Speedy Summertime Dinner Recipes

Summer is here, the kids are home, and they are hungry! Who’s got time to cook? Check out these 6 ideas for easy, no-cook, no-fuss dinners that get you in and out of the kitchen in a flash. We wouldn’t want you to miss out on a minute of summertime fun!

1. Gazpacho

Chop, pour, puree, chill and – voila – dinner! Here’s the perfect quick and healthy dinner that fills their bellies and cools them off, too. Hopefully, your kids will think cold soup is quite funny and they’ll get into the game by adding their favorite toppings to make it their own. Try chopped avocado, cilantro, tortilla chips, feta and croutons for toppings that make for a complete meal.


Gazpacho by Babble
Gazpacho by Babble

2. Bruschetta = Toast for Dinner

Strawberry Bruschetta by Annie's Eats

We’ve all had the kind with tomato and basil. Why not surprise them with a surprising new twist (kinda like cold soup!) – Strawberry Bruschetta – a wonderful combination of sweet strawberries, tangy goat cheese, and balsamic vinegar with a touch of fresh basil on top. It’s a fantastic flavor combination, and screams “Summer!” You’ll need just a nice French baquette, fresh strawberries, a touch of sugar, olive oil, goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. The very simple recipe is here.

3. Quick Fish Tacos

Ok, technically, you do have to do some cooking with these fish tacos, but if you have a grill or even a grill pan, it’s a cinch. The recipe is also great for making good use of leftovers, so grill a few extra pieces of fish and save them for these tacos the next night. The sauce makes these extra special, and it’s just a simple mix of sour cream and lime juice with the level of seasoning (salt, pepper and jalapeno) that works for your tastes. The mix of veggie slaw and avocado make it a well rounded meal, and just right for summer.

Fish tacos

4. Antipasti Platter

A cold antipasti platter requires absolutely no cooking and next-to-no prep. It’s about as simple as calling for take-out, and yet so much tastier. With some forethought, you can keep many of these items on hand and pick up the rest at a one-stop shop. Go Italian by choosing a selection of cold deli meats and cheeses, jarred roasted peppers, sliced tomatoes, basil, olives and crackers or bread. Or, go Middle Eastern with a chunk of fresh feta cheese, hummus, olives, pita and any tasty Mediterranean tidbits you can pick up, including dolmas or a grain salad. If a big platter of tasty morsels isn’t going to cut with your kids, turn it into sandwiches they’ll dig, and grab a piece of fruit to go with them.


5. Cobb Salad

Before you protest, “My child will never eat salad!” – remember a salad is just a bowl of stuff a.k.a. building blocks. Chop what you have on hand, for a traditional cobb salad it would be some greens (a bag of salad mix works fine), cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, maybe cold leftover chicken or some bacon or ham, a can of kidney beans or maybe garbanzos, cubed cheese, a couple of hard boiled eggs. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan household, hold the meat and dairy. Give your child bits of what works for him, and throw the rest into a bowl and serve salad to the rest of the family. As easy as it is to grab a bottle of salad dressing, resist and spend a few minutes whisking one of your own. A Tarragon Vinaigrette, care of Iowa Girl Eats, works well and can be made with a whisk if you don’t want to drag out the blender or food processor.

For the Tarragon Vinaigrette:
Whisk or blend 2 Tablespoons lemon juice; 2 Tablespoon red wine vinegar; 10-12 tarragon leaves, torn;
1 small shallot, roughly chopped;
1/2 teaspoon sugar;
salt & pepper to taste; and 
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.


6. Dessert: Nutella (or Nut-free Nutella) Matzo Sandwiches

Your kids’ eyes will pop out of their heads when they come to the table and see chocolate sandwiches on their plates! Inspired by the Jewish tradition of serving sandwiches on Matzo during Passover, these sandwiches are simply Nutella spread between Matzo crackers. And for the nut-free households, Weelicious shares a handy substitution that tastes just as good as Nutella. The nut-free version blends one part chocolate chips with one part sunflower butter. Serve this yummy creation with whatever is fresh-picked at the Farmer’s Market and requires nothing but a knife for slicing.


* All yummy images courtesy of Pinterest.  

HINT: These are great make-ahead meals to leave with the babysitter! Find trusted babysitters at

Cinco De Mayo Celebration for Family and Friends

Need a reason to party with your family and friends? Why not prepare and share a Mexican Feast to celebrate Cinco De Mayo!

Cinco De Mayo: The Menu

If the invite list is a mixed crowd, including tiny tots, keep the menu easily interchangeable and easy to eat. No need to make a separate meal for the kids.

Taco Bites and Shrimp and Guac Tostadas will please your guests, and can be customized to accommodate any finicky eaters. Round out the menu with a basket of tortilla chips, fresh salsa and guacamole, and don’t forget dessert – Key Lime Ice Cream served in individual cups.

taco bites by whipperberry
taco bites by whipperberry
shrimp tostadas by bev cooks
shrimp tostadas by bev cooks
margarita ideas








Did you think we forgot the punch!? No fiesta is complete without a perfect Margarita. With so many delicious variations to debate, we’ve included a Margarita Recipe Round-Up that’s bound to include everyone’s favorite or new found favorite. Be sure to mark the pitcher “Adults Only” and include a second, virgin-version for the kids.

The Inspiration


Tell your guests to bring their marachas and their dancing shoes. Even if you can’t bring in your own mariachi band,  you can’t call it a fiesta without a hot Latin playlist. Check out this Cinco De Mayo playlist on Punch Bowl created just for the holiday.


When the kids aren’t eating or dancing, keep them busy with a fun Cinco De Mayo craft that makes for a great take-home treat – Coffee Filter Flowers from Holidays Central:

coffee filter flowers by holidays central

What You’ll Need:

  • Butcher paper
  • Coffee filters
  • Food coloring in variety of bright colors
  • Eyedroppers
  • Chenille stem


Cover the craft table with butcher paper.  Each child can use an eye dropper to color several coffee filters in a variety of colors. For less mess, have kids use crayons or markers to color the coffee filters. Place one coffee filter decorative side down on the table. Next, place the other coffee filters on top with decorative side up.  Fold coffee filters in half and then scrunch the middle of the coffee filters.  Hold the scrunched area in place by wrapping the chenille stem around it. Straighten the stem. Arrange several flowers in a basket for a festive centerpiece until it’s time to take them home.

We hope these ideas show you it’s simple to throw a fun, festive feast everyone will enjoy!

Celebrating Cinco De Mayo without the kids? UrbanSitter is your go-to for finding a last minute babysitter.

Your Turn for Snack Duty!

Add up all the school classrooms and sport’s teams your children participate in and you’ll see that it’s likely you’ll be handed snack duty more than a few times.

Bringing a snack for the class or the team to enjoy at half-time is a chance to help out the teacher or coach, and to provide kids with a tasty pick-me-up.

Before you choose a snack to share, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Homemade is great for avoiding preservatives and other ingredients we either can’t pronounce or would rather not see our children consume, but your child’s school or team may have a policy against bringing homemade snacks. Some require snacks be store bought and pre-packaged. Make sure you check the rules.
  • If you’re bringing a half-time game snack, keep in mind your biggest objective is to keep the players hydrated and fueled. Water is key, as is avoiding overly sugary, salty or fatty foods.
  • Parents of kids with allergies often send a separate snack for their kids, but it’s nice to be considerate and not leave anyone out when choosing a group snack. Play it safe and ask parents if anyone has an allergy you should be aware of and check labels to accommodate them.
  • Younger siblings often attend their big brother or sister’s game, and love to join in on the snack. It’s nice to bring extras. Their parents will greatly appreciate not having to keep little ones away from the tasty temptations.
  • Keep it simple. Snacks are often eaten standing up and at lighting speed. Nothing fussy.

So what do you bring? Here’s a helpful round up of tasty, healthy food  to feed a crowd:

  • Save your wallet and the planet by foregoing juice boxes and bottles of water. Instead, bring a large jug of water or a healthy sports drink made from a mix, and don’t forget a stack of reusable cups.
  • Fresh fruit. Go beyond orange slices (although they are popular for a reason!). Think apples, Cuties, grapes and bananas, or make it fun by serving frozen fruit cubes or melon balls on skewers.
  • Yogurt sticks. Choose the ones without high fructose corn syrup and other nasty stuff, and freeze them to turn them into satisfying popsicles.
  • Air-popped popcorn served in brown paper bags.
  • String cheese sticks.
  • Individual serving bags of pretzels, Pirate Booty or Apple Chips.
  • Mini boxes or raisins or craisins.
  • Fruit leathers or twists made with 100 percent fruit.
  • Unsweetened applesauce in the pouches.
  • Jello cups.
  • Mini cinnamon raisin or whole-grain  bagels.
  • Popsicles – packed in a well-insulated cooler.
  • Healthy granola bars or other kid-sized energy bars.

Need a little extra help with snack duty? Hire a sitter to help at

Summer Recipes for Kids

With summer just around the corner, kids will be pining for something new and different. Why not introduce them to the kitchen? Here are a few simple recipes that you or a trusted babysitter can tackle–just set up the ingredients before you leave the house!

Do-It-Yourself Pizza

This is a huge hit in my house. Buy the small Boboli pizza crusts, or if you’re really ambitious, roll and toss your own with pre-made dough at Trader Joe’s or your local pizza parlor, some tomato sauce (you can even use whatever pasta sauce you have on hand), and toppings galore. Some of our favorites include pepperoni, olives, broccoli, artichoke hearts, and bell peppers.

Line your table or counter with newspaper or use a plastic table cloth, and let the kids start by spreading the sauce with a spoon. Layer on the cheese and toppings and don’t stop them from making a mess–that’s part of the fun. A grown up should handle the oven part, but you’re sure to see plenty of smiles when the pizzas are done. Kids love to eat what they’ve created!


Whether you want to actually put up a stand is debatable, but making and tasting the lemonade is always fun. Depending on the number of children, you’ll need anywhere from four to 16 lemons. You can figure four per child. You’ll also need cold water, sugar, and a pitcher.

If you have a citrus squeezer, it’s much easier. Kids can do the squeezing on their own, though toddlers might need a little help. Once you’ve got an ample amount of juice in the pitcher, add some cold water and then start with spoonfuls of sugar. Have the kids taste the lemonade after each sugar addition. Note how much sugar it takes to make it palatable. (This could serve as a good lesson on the perils of juice in general.) Once it’s satisfactory, give everyone a cup full of ice, and enjoy the fruits of your labor! Lovely on a hot summer day.

Oatmeal Pancakes

More fun than ordinary pancakes–and healthier, too! Kids will love the pouring and mixing, and if you make enough to freeze, you’ll have a healthy breakfast on hand for those busy weekday mornings.

You’ll need:
1/3 cup quick oats
1/3 cup egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 mashed bananas or 1/3 cup pumpkin puree

1.Combine all ingredients and mix well.
2. Pour by 1/4 cupfuls into a skillet coated with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Flip after first side is firm.
4. Remove from skillet when ready, and experiment with toppings like nut butters, yogurt, cottage cheese, maple syrup, fruit.

Try UrbanSitter when you need a summer break! Connect with babysitters through people you know–and maybe even put your feet up for a while.

BOOK REVIEW: Tyler Florence — Start Fresh: Your Child’s Jump Start to Healthy Eating

Contributed by writer & mom of three Jessica Edelen for UrbanSitter.

Tyler Florence, Food Network star and best-selling cookbook author has debuted a new cookbook — Start Fresh: Your Child’s Jump Start to Healthy Eating. Filled with 60 delicious, user-friendly recipes, the book is about how to make healthy, nutritious food for babies, toddlers, and even the whole family.

As a mom of three young kids, I found the book quite engaging — the pictures are bright and inviting (and of course, make you hungry just gazing at them), and the recipes range from very easy (pureed spinach with bananas) to mildly complex (cauliflower gratin), but what I loved is that the recipes are in stages — 4-6 months, 6-8 months, 9-12 months, and 12 months and beyond. So there is truly something for everyone. Also included is a worksheet at the very beginning for new parents who want to keep track of which foods their babies are trying — in regard to allergies, etc. Enhanced by Tyler Florence’s wit and practical, easy-going voice, the book is one that I believe most parents will find valuable.

Here are two of my favorite recipes. You can find the book at Tyler’s downtown Mill Valley shop or online. Bon appetite!

Spinach and Banana Puree

Makes four 1/2 cup servings or two one cup servings

Tyler says: Bananas are an easy way to sneak super healthy nutrients into lots of dishes. This bright green puree is amazing — one of my favorites in the book.

You need:

12 oz. fresh spinach, well washed and tough stems removed

2 bananas

1/4 cup plain whole-fat yogurt

1/4 unfiltered apple juice

To do:

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth.

Cauliflower Gratin

Makes 6 to 8 servings for adults or kids

Tyler says: The unsung hero of the vegetable world finally takes a stand in this cheesy, comforting gratin. I love not only the flavor, but the way it fills the house with its savory, roasted aroma. Great pureed, mashed, or as a side dish your children will love for years to come.

You need:

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 medium yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges

1 head cauliflower, leaves and stem left intact, coarsely chopped

2 sprigs thyme

1 tbsp. unbleached all purpose flour

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 cup whole milk

4 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

To do:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a 12-inch ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion cook, stirring often, until the onion has browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the cauliflower and thyme and cook until the cauliflower has browned slightly, 8 to 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour and nutmeg over the cauliflower. Pour the milk in and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with mozzarella, then top with parmesan and panko. (The gratin can be prepared to this point up to 2 days in advance and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator.)

Bake the gratin uncovered on the middle rack of the oven until the cheese is bubbling and the breadcrumbs are toasted, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil, and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Divide the gratin into as many adult and child-friendly portions as needed. Transfer the child portions into a food processor and pulse until coarsely or finely chopped, as desired.

Rainy Day Activities

Rainy days with children can definitely instill a feeling of panic. Gone are thoughts of going to the park or playing in the backyard. So, what’s a mom or dad to do? Here’s a list of places and activities that can ease your mind on cold and wet days — and hopefully keep your little ones from crawling the walls.

And remember, UrbanSitter is always available to rescue you when you just can’t take another game of CandyLand. Book a sitter and let her take the reigns!



Yes, the art is sophisticated, but the colors are also brilliant and the sculptural installations (not all art is on walls?) are amazing for little eyes to behold. It’s a chance to teach your children to respect art (no touching) and other people (no yelling or running), but for those who can handle it, a museum such as this can spark a lifetime love of all things beautiful. Don’t miss the cafe and gift shop on the first floor.


It’s been around for decades, but  this SF institution still offers amazing exhibits specifically for kids. Try the shadow box, echo chamber, or one of the many hands-on activities meant to be touched and tinkered with.

Lawrence Hall of Science

High up in the Berkeley hills, this museum offers much to touch and see, including an insect zoo, a 3-D projection of the planet where actual real-time weather patterns can be observed, and a room full of building blocks, ramps, and vehicles.


toy store

Pair this one with a trip to the food court for lunch and your day is looking up. Of course, after your child man-handles the train table or doll stroller, you may want to buy something. Perhaps a new book, lunch box, or birthday gift? As long as your children are respectful, the staff is pleasant (and sympathetic).

book store

Same as above. There’s usually a train table as well as kid-sized tables and chairs where you can sit and enjoy the latest Olivia or David book with your little one. You can even grab a coffee or treat before (or bribe your child with it in order to leave) at the cafe inside.

pet store

Who doesn’t love gazing at rats, tropical fish, and lizards? If you get lucky, perhaps an employee will let your children “help” feed such a beast. Sometimes, too, there is a “Beauty Salon” on the premises where you can watch the animals get a good scrubbing and blow-out.



Lots of jumpy houses, ride-on cars, arts and crafts, and a little counter that sells snacks: What could be better? Located in Sausalito, Playland is really easy to find and offers just what every kid (and parent) wants, for a fee that’s reasonable.

Studio Grow

With soft ramps, blocks, and tunnels, as well as arts and crafts and open spaces to run and jump, Studio Grow (several locations in the e.bay) is an oasis of cushy fun on a stormy day. Snacks and coffee are available.


In Menlo Park, this is truly a kid wonderland with the usual soft spaces and climbing structures, but also a kid-size stage, art and reading room, and trampoline. Get a $5 printable coupon when you visit the website.


play dough

If you just can’t bring yourself to lug out the umbrellas and rain boots and brave the elements, stay home and entertain your children with a new recipe or project. How about home-made play dough?  Yes, you can buy it, but the process is half the fun…right?


Your little one will love helping with these Apple Stuffin’ Muffins, and when they sneak a little apple sauce along the way, you won’t mind. It’s a great healthy snack for a rainy day.