Archive for the ‘Crafts & Celebrations’ Category

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft

Monday, March 27th, 2017

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Mirum Shopper. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

Today I’m partnering up with Dannon® Danimals® Smoothies and creating the cutest craft to celebrate spring! We are making diy pom pom bunnies from a few common items you have in your craft supplies and recycling those drink containers from our Danimals® Smoothies.

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

Dannon® Danimals® Smoothies are conveniently snack-sized, sealed and ready to drink, so I love to keep these on hand especially on busy days where we are running from school straight to activities. It’s also good to know that these fun drinks do not contain high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors or flavorings, and are a good source of Calcium and Vitamin D.

This seems to be a busy season of the school year for us as we close in on the end of the school year. It isn’t uncommon to be running from one thing to the next so I try to keep items like these on hand for days when a healthy snack is required between activities and pair it with a handful of almonds or baby carrots for an easy snack to enjoy on-the-go.

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

danimals-smoothies-2

You can find these over in the dairy cooler at Walmart and right now their 12-pack is under $5!  To save even more, take advantage of this Ibotta offer for an additional dollar off. This coupon can be used on either the 12-pack or you can really stock up for your family and snag an 18-pack for these upcoming busy days.

You can try all the fun flavors from Rockin’ Raspberry® to Strawberry Explosion® to Wild Watermelon®!

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

These containers also happen to be the perfect size for upcyclying into fun crafts so today I wanted to use these containers to make adorable Pom Pom Bunnies for Spring! This would be so fun for a classroom for a quick snack and craft time to celebrate the Easter season.

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

1 Dannon® Danimals® Smoothies Container (make sure to rinse this out well)

White or Gray Cotton Yarn and a scrap of contrasting color for the bow tie

Wiggly eyes

Pink colored pom

1.5″ foam ball (over by the floral supplies)

Straight Pins

Glue

1 piece of white felt

Medium Pom-Pom Maker (or you can make a pom-pom with a few items around your house)

Scissors

How to Make a DIY Pom-Pom Bunny

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

1. Remove the packaging from your Dannon® Danimals® Smoothies Container carefully with scissors.

2. Place the styrofoam ball on top and push in to secure. Please note, if you don’t want the styrofoam to show, you can wrap the ball in yarn first and then place on top. Also  if you want it to stay in place you can add a little hot glue around this to make sure it is completely secure.

3. If you have never used a pom-pom maker before, you can see my pom-pom tutorial for full instructions. Using a straight pin, pin the pom-pom to the front of the styrofoam ball to make the bunny’s face.

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

4. Glue your pink nose and eyes to the front of your pom-pom.

5. Cut out your felt ears, pinch these at the bottom, and then use the pins again to pin these ears to the top of the head.

6. Finish with a bow tie around the neck.

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

How cute is that? This would be such a fun preschool craft for Spring! I hope this tutorial inspires you to snag some Danimals® Smoothies from your local Walmart to keep on hand for these busy days with our kids and don’t forget to print that coupon for some additional savings!

This post was created in partnership with Mirum Shopper. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Tracking Pixel Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

Gluten-free baking has always been very intimidating to me and I did my best for a long time to avoid it all costs. Unfortunately, with three people in our house advised to eating gluten-free, I was pushed into the gluten-free baking trenches for our family. I’m not ambitious enough to spend time mixing up my own mixes and that is why I’m excited to share with you about Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-1 Baking Flour.  Today I’m sharing this easy recipe for a Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake with all the flavor minus the gluten.

Did I mention no tricky mixing of flours or trying to perfect recipes that are already in your recipe box? Yup, Bob’s Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour is perfectly formulated for baked goods with terrific taste and texture with no additional modifications on your part.

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

In our family, it is a tradition to make the birthday boy or girl a homemade cake to celebrate their day. My husband’s birthday was the perfect excuse to mix up a yummy cake with Bob’s Gluten-Free Flour. This rich batter is filled not only with a healthy dose of cocoa powder, but it gets a double chocolate whammy from the crushed gluten-free cookies and cream cookies that are folded right into it.

My secret weapon in any chocolate dessert is a little bit of coffee to enhance those rich chocolate flavors. I had my daughter taste the batter before the addition of coffee and after and we both agreed that it makes a really big difference in the smoothness of the flavor.

I know I don’t have to tell busy moms this, but coffee is certainly magic.

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

I’ve played around with a lot of gluten-free flour mixes in our kitchen, since our family’s diagnosis, and I can confidently say that this is the first blend that I’ve tried that I can taste no difference between the all-purpose flour and this gluten-free mix. There is no mealy texture or that sense that something is just off about the mix. The cake baked up as light and puffy as any cake prepared with all-purpose flour would.

For someone who lacks gluten-free baking confidence, this blend has given me the urge to bake again and I’m already dreaming of how else I can put this blend to work for our special treats. Have no doubts that you will see many of them on the site in the upcoming months!

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

Can we talk about the frosting for just one minute? MORE cookies are folded into this whipped cream cheese frosting and adds the jazz hands to this chocolate cake. Ths homemade frosting elevates and lightens the cake with it’s tangy flavor. Also, because there are not enough cookies in this, I added more cookies on top for decorating so you can have a snack in between bites.

We toted this cake to the restaurant to celebrate my husband’s birthday this year, in all her shining glory.

As we sat there eating, he leaned into me to say, “I keep thinking people are looking at me because it’s my birthday. I just realized that they are looking at your cake.”

Yup, it’s a showstopper.

A rousing song of happy birthday and slices shared with all at our table (and a few not at our table because CAKE), and we still had half a cake left once it had all been distributed. We offered the other half to the kitchen staff and it made me so happy to see it being sliced and enjoyed by everyone.

For several years, I worked as a waitress and I remember those long days worked for tips. It’s why we always try to go the extra mile when we dine out and this was just one more way we could show our appreciation for those who care for us.

Homemade cakes really do bring people together and I couldn’t stop the goofy grin on my face from seeing everyone enjoy this sweet treat, as I carried my empty cake stand home. My husband also left with the same grin, after a great meal shared with family and our new friends. He really felt celebrated this year.

Please add this cake and Bob’s Gluten Free 1-1 Baking Flour to your menu planner and grocery list. I promise, you won’t ever miss the gluten in this rich and delicious cookies and cream cake. This is a cake that’s meant to be shared so find a way to make that happen too. I bet you’ll gain a few new friends in the process!

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A gluten-free cookies and cream cake perfect for celebrating all of life's occasions!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
  • 1½ cups finely crumbled gluten-free chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3¾ cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1½ cups finely crumbled gluten-free chocolate sandwich cookies
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two (9-inch) cake pans with cooking spray and dust with gluten-free flour.
  2. In a large bowl, using a hand-held mixer combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the eggs and egg yolk, 1 at a time, and beat until well mixed, then add in the melted butter. Mix well to combine. Next, add the buttermilk and coffee and beat until smooth. Fold in the crumbled cookies with a wooden spoon.
  3. Pour the batter evenly into the cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, approximately 30-33 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool, on a rack, in the pans for 5 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto a rack and let cool completely.
  4. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, blend the butter and cream cheese until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the salt and vanilla. Add in the confectioners' sugar, ½ cup at a time, until smooth. Beat in the crumbled cookies.
  5. Once the cake has fully cooled, add a layer of frosting on the top of one cake layer and then stack the second one on top. Finish with more frosting on top. This recipe yields enough to also frost the sides of the cake, if you desire. Finish with more cookies (whole or crushed) to add decoration to the top of your cake.

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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3-Ingredient Cloud Dough With WeeSchool (FREE- Limited Time!)

Monday, March 6th, 2017

3-ingredient cloud dough recipe from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with WeeSchool. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! We need this exact call to action language early in the post: Download the WeeSchool App here by June 1 and you can register for free, lifetime access to all premium WeeSchoool content and features.

Although much of the mothering I have done for my kids has felt instinctual, I found many challenges and had a lot of anxiety about them meeting certain milestones. My son, for example, had a significant delay in speech and sensory issues in his early years. I had no idea to help him and relied upon a community program that provided at-home guidance to help teach me how to help him overcome these hurdles.

I, honestly, have no idea what our life would have looked like if we had not had early intervention, and I attribute much of his academic success to these programs that intervened and helped guide us.

Now my kids are getting older, but I still recognize the importance and need for early intervention for other families. That is why I am SO incredibly and genuinely excited to share with you about a new app called WeeSchool that you must download ASAP.

It is, truly, like having a family educator right at your disposal to help guide you to help your child succeed.

WeeSchool App Milestones Month by Month

As you can see, this app gives you a quick at-a-glance look at what key milestones your child should be reaching each month. Play Plans are provided that help guide your child to reach those milestones.  These allow you to play smarter with your child with a list of recommended activities, toys, books and music.

In fact, it is the first-ever curriculum for babies from birth to age 3 that can help you learn how to play smart with your baby.

This helps you to not only track the milestones, but to support you and your baby in the process. WeeSchool wants to enrich your daily routines by creating activities you can do with your child, providing guidance on practical toys to support milestones, and even books on the different milestones you are working toward with your baby.

WeeSchool App Journal

Imagine going to the pediatrician with your child’s milestones marked and even a photo to document those moments to share with your family and friends. I can’t imagine how reassuring it would have been to come armed like this for my doctor. Could we have flagged our son and gotten him help sooner if we had something like this? I, truly, believe we could! This is a transformative tool for new parents.

Get a FREE Membership to WeeSchool Today!!

I am so excited that WeeSchool is offering our readers a free premium membership! Parents can sign up until June 1, 2017 to become a Charter Member and receive lifetime access to all Premium WeeSchool content and features!

 

3-Ingredient Cloud Dough from MomAdvice.com 3-Ingredient Cloud Dough from MomAdvice.com 3-Ingredient Cloud Dough from MomAdvice.com

If there was one thing I learned from our early childhood intervention classes that we did with our son, it was the power in creating from things you already have. In honor of today’s partnership with WeeSchool, I wanted to share with you this easy 3-ingredient Cloud Dough recipe that you can make for your kids! This fluffy dough is a great sensory activity for kids and is so fun to play with that even adults want to get on the action.

Sensory stimulation is so important to a child’s neurological development, and playing with this simple and safe flour mixture offers a pleasant (even therapeutic) sensory experience. Playing with cloud dough also encourages fine-motor development as your wee one explores and creates using tiny hands, delighting in the tactile wonderfulness of this unique medium.

Pair this with items from your kitchen drawers like measuring cups, spoons, ice cream scoops, silicone cupcake molds, or cookie cutters.

We are using Tempera Powder Paint to create the vivid hue in this dough because it blends so easily into this recipe. If you are worried about your child ingesting it, feel free to leave the color out of this one!

3-Ingredient Cloud Dough from MomAdvice.com

3-Ingredient Cloud Dough
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • A spoonful or two of Powdered Tempera Paint (order online or check a teacher's supplies store/craft store)
  • Large Plastic Container with Lid for Storage
Instructions
  1. Measure flour directly into container.
  2. Add a spoonful or two of powdered tempera paint and mix well with a wooden or metal spoon.
  3. Add vegetable oil and mix well until it is fully incorporated.
  4. Store in an airtight lidded container for up to one month.

3-ingredient-cloud-dough-recipe

 

 I hope you can take a moment to download this amazing app and mix up a little cloud dough to keep your kiddos busy! Download the WeeSchool App here by June 1 and you can register for free, lifetime access to all Premium WeeSchool content and features.

This post was created in partnership with WeeSchool. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

 

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5 Minute Treat: Shamrock Pretzel Pops

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

5 Minute Treat: Shamrock Pretzel Pops from MomAdvice.com

 

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and today I wanted to share with you a sweet little treat idea that is no-bake, made in just five minutes, and can be customized to your child’s own dietary needs.

Do you know why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Every year on March 17, the Irish and those of us that are Irish-at-heart across the world observe this day together, but many don’t know the origin of the holiday. What began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland has become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods and a lot of green food.

Each year I try to come up with a sweet treat for my kids to celebrate the holiday. We have celebrated with homemade Shamrock Shakes and ate a delicious Rainbow Cake in a Jar complete with Cloud Frosting.

As my kids get older, we seem to get busier so I wanted to share a treat that any busy mom could prepare or that your older children could prepare with a little supervision from you. The best part about these is that this is a treat that you can create for your gluten-free child by utilizing you favorite gluten-free mini pretzel. Rolos and plain M&M’s are also gluten-free treats, but always make sure that you check the back of the bag since seasonal candies can affect the factory line and introduce allergens that are not typically present.

5 Minute Treat: Shamrock Pretzel Pops from MomAdvice.com

How to Make Shamrock Pretzel Pops

5 Minute Treat: Shamrock Pretzel Pops from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

1 bag of plain M&M’s (have your child help you sort all the green ones out for this treat)

1 bag of mini pretzels (regular or gluten-free)

1 bag of Rolos

Wilton Lollipop Sticks

Parchment Paper

5 Minute Treat: Shamrock Pretzel Pops from MomAdvice.com

Directions

1. Preheat your oven for 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and assemble your pretzels into a clover shape as shown above.

2. Add a Rolo in the center of each of your clovers. Gently take your cookie sheet over to your oven and slide your cookie sheet into the oven. Bake for 3 minutes, or until the Rolo has just begun to melt.

3. Pull out the cookie sheet and carefully insert a lollipop stick in through the Rolo while carefully placing an M&M in the center. Repeat until finished. It’s important to do this step while they are still warm, as these harden quickly once they cool.

4. Allow them to cool fully before removing from the cookie sheet and carefully peel them off of the parchment paper. Ta-da! Treats for everyone!

5 Minute Treat: Shamrock Pretzel Pops from MomAdvice.com

 

5 Minute Treat: Shamrock Pretzel Pops from MomAdvice.com

5 Minute Treat: Shamrock Pretzel Pops from MomAdvice.com

I just love the simplicity and festivity of this adorable treat. My kids loved it too and it was a fun way for this Irish-at-heart family to celebrate this fun holiday!

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Fabric Flower Wreath for Spring

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Fabric Flower Wreath for Spring from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

You will rarely come to my house and not find a wreath on the door, but I must admit that my DIY wreaths (after MANY years of use) are looking a little shabby. Working with Waverly Inspirations was just the push I needed this month to spruce up my front door. This fabric flower wreath tutorial is just what you need to get your door ready for spring. If you haven’t made fabric flowers before, I’ve got you covered with a step-by-step picture tutorial.

I am a big fan of recycling and reusing my craft materials so I cut all of the materials off this DIY yarn wreath and reinvented it into a spring wreath. Six years ago I purchased that straw wreath for $4 and it is STILL going strong.

Pretty amazing!

Also, if you have ever priced out purchasing a wreath, you know how much you are saving by making your own for your front door.

Today I wanted to put some of their fresh spring fabric to work to wrap and decorate our wreath. Although I will be doing these fabric flowers with a needle and thread, they can also just as easily be pulled together with a little hot glue. The best part? This is a craft you can do while getting in a good Netflix binge.

This craft was cranked out with a little American Crime Story. PS- LOVING it.

Fabric Flower Wreath for Spring from MomAdvice.com

 

Supplies Needed (all of these supplies can be found at Walmart!)

1/2 yard of two (or more!) Waverly Inspirations Fabric in coordinating patterns

Straw Wreath (whichever size fits your door the best!)- leaving the plastic intact on the wreath to cut down on the mess.

Needle and strong thread

1 piece of cardstock and a circular object (I used an oatmeal canister) to create your flower template

Straight Pins

Fabric Rotary Cutter (or you can use scissors)

Rotary Mat

Pinking Shears

How to Make a Spring Fabric Flower Wreath

Fabric Flower Wreath for Spring from MomAdvice.com

1. Begin by cutting fabric into 1 1/2″ strips with scissors or a rotary cutter. Wrap the fabric around the wreath, securing with straight pins. Once you come to the end of a strip, simply overlap with the next strip to try to camouflage those pins. Repeat this until the entire wreath is covered and set this aside.

How to Make Fabric Flowers from MomAdvice.com

2. Using a round object in your home for a template, trace a circle on cardstock to create your template for your fabric. The larger the diameter of the item, the larger your flower so size it according to your wreath or how dramatic you want to go!

3. With pinking shears, cut 9 fabric circles for each fabric flower you will be making. I made five of these flowers (that means 45 cut circles) for my wreath. In floral design, it is always advised to go with an odd number to create a good design for your project so I stuck to the odd number of 5.

4. With one fabric circle as a base, begin creating the petals for your flower by folding a circle in half and then in half again (it will look like a little triangle)  and aligning it to the fabric circle. Using your needle and thread (or a glue gun) secure this in place with a stitch. Repeat all the way around the flower for the base of these petals.

How to Make Fabric Flowers from MomAdvice.com

5. Layer another layer of petals on top and finish with the last one being in the center and swirled, as it would in a rose. Tie off and cut the end of your thread to finish these. Using a straight pin, pin your flower into place and then repeat with the rest of the flowers.

Fabric Flower Wreath for Spring from MomAdvice.com

Fabric Flower Wreath for Spring from MomAdvice.com

Fabric Flower Wreath for Spring from MomAdvice.com

You guys! I’m in LOVE! This is such a fun pop of color on my door, cost practically nothing, and I can switch out materials with the seasons if I get bored. I hope you love it as much as I do and feel inspired to make a wreath of your own.

My door is awfully happy this month!

Fun Wreath Ideas from MomAdvice.com

Want to try some other DIY wreaths? Check out these tutorials for decking your door!

diy peep wreath

easy burlap wreath tutorial

how to make a yarn pom pom wreath 

handmade autumn burlap wreath

fabric wreath with matching garland

yarn wreath for all seasons (fun felt flower tutorial on that one!)

How about more craft inspiration from Waverly? Try these!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray

15-Minute Scrappy Fabric Trees

Kid Craft: Easy Technique for Painting Gift Wrap

DIY Phone Charging Station

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat

Fabric Flower Wreath for Spring from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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DIY Teacher Survival Kit Gift (FREE Printable!)

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

DIY Teacher Survival Kit Gift (FREE Printable!) from MomAdvice.com

This post was sponsored by MARS, Inc and American Greetings. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to show someone how much you love them. Often my default for Valentine’s giving is for my family, but this holiday I’m challenging you to think outside of the box and consider someone else special in your life.

How about a little love, for example, for one of your incredible teachers?

I can’t imagine how challenging their job is to come and be the encourager, discipliner, educator, and hero to our children. Day in and day out, they are a positive force in helping our kids succeed and I am so grateful for the molding and shaping they do. What a gift that they share their time and talent each and every day.

I wanted to create a fun DIY Teacher Survival Kit filled with fun supplies with things that would be useful throughout their day, as well as some fun treats to indulge in for a much deserved break. I am sure it goes without saying, but our teachers often use their own funds to keep their classrooms stocked so I love to periodically send along little gifts. This teacher survival kit is not only meant to offer a small indulgence for their hard work, but it also provides little things like note pads, antibacterial wipes, bandages, and other useful items that they might need at their desk.

How to Make a DIY Teacher Survival Kit

DIY Teacher Survival Kit Gift (FREE Printable!) from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed (all found at Walmart- check here to find your closest store!)

1 clear plastic container with lid (the dimensions on my container are 15″L x 11 1/2″W x 3 1/4″ H)

Dove® Milk Chocolate Heart Tin

Antibacterial Wipes Drink Mixes (lemonade, coffee, cocoa, etc..)

Small First-Aid Kit

Lip Balms

Small Candle Mouthwash

Lint Roller

Stain Stick or Pen

Pain Reliever

Immunity Boosters

Notepads and Sticky Notes

Check out the American Greetings Valentines Day card selection at your local Walmart, to find Valentine’s Days cards for anyone and everyone special in your life!

(scroll down for your FREE printable label!)

DIY Teacher Survival Kit Gift (FREE Printable!) from MomAdvice.com

 

 

DIY Teacher Survival Kit Gift (FREE Printable!) from MomAdvice.com

DIY Teacher Survival Kit Gift (FREE Printable!) from MomAdvice.com

Directions for DIY Teacher Survival Kit Gift

1. Go to your local Walmart and visit the storage container section of the store first to select a container for your project. Having this first will help guide you as you make your selections to fit in your kit. Fill the container as you go with all of your purchases to make this Valentine’s gift special for your favorite teacher with the supplies list I have provided.

2. Assemble your container with your purchases, placing the Dove® Milk Chocolate Heart Tin in first to build your supplies around it.

3. Print our Teacher Supplies Kit label out for the top (link below). You will need to do just a tiny bit of trimming around it to trim off a little of the negative space on this one. Remove the sticker from the backing and secure it to your container.

4. Finish this project with a heartfelt message for your teacher to let them know how special they are.

DIY Teacher Survival Kit Gift (FREE Printable!) from MomAdvice.com

DIY Teacher Survival Kit Gift (FREE Printable!) from MomAdvice.com

DIY Teacher Survival Kit Gift (FREE Printable!) from MomAdvice.com

I can’t think of a teacher that wouldn’t appreciate a gift like this. I am thankful every single day for the teachers that are shaping my kid’s minds. As I see them blossom into such kind and thoughtful people, I know I can attribute it to their excellent influence.

Consider this Valentine’s Day the perfect opportunity to thank a teacher in your life!

Download Your Teacher Survival Kit Label (click the link below!)

Free Teacher Survival Kit Label

This post was created in partnership with MARS, Inc and American Greetings. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

 

 

 

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DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

What shows your love for someone more than something handmade by you? Today I am sharing a tutorial for an easy no-sew DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat that I created for my family. This mat makes it easy to relocate your puzzle projects when you need to use your table and it’s made with just a few inexpensive materials!

Are you addicted to jigsaw puzzles like us?

My kids are at a fun age right now where we are really enjoying playing board games and assembling puzzles together.  Right now we are tackling 1,000 piece puzzles which feels so ADULT. We haven’t had the courage to go beyond that size yet, but I’m sure we will get there.

Even after our kids have headed to bed, the hubby and I spend time together listening to podcasts or good music, while piecing together puzzles. I find it be quite therapeutic after sitting in front of a screen all day. It helps me decompress in the evening while giving my brain a break from my to-do lists.

To maximize our jigsaw puzzle collection, a couple friends and I trade puzzles after we finish them which has been great because we always have something to work on, while keeping it rather frugal in the process.  Trading puzzles has been a great way to keep our collection fresh and continue to keep our kids interested in putting these together with us.

My only gripe with puzzles is where to relocate them when we need to eat at the table. We also happen to have a, “helper,” in our house who likes to flip puzzle pieces when her mother is ignoring her (we love you, Lulu the Cat!). I thought a mat might be a great way to discourage our helper and could be a quick way to clear the table for the dinner hour!

Let’s create this easy no-sew roll-up jigsaw puzzle mat!

 

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed (all of these supplies can be found at Walmart!)

1 yard of Waverly Inspirations Fabric  (check out the fresh new Valentine’s Day prints,  I picked a classic pink gingham!)

1 yard of felt fabric (any coordinating color)

1 package of Waverly Inspirations Ribbon (any coordinating color)

Cardboard tube (you can use a durable mailing tube, gift wrap roll, or even use plastic PVC pipe)

Razor blade (if cutting to size)

Hemming Tape or fabric glue

Scissors

Waverly Chalk Paint in a coordinating color  and paint brush (optional, but you can paint the cardboard roll to coordinate- I decided to leave mine in its natural state!)

PUZZLES!!

How to Make a DIY Jigsaw Puzzle Mat

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

1. Much like our reversible seat cushion project, we are going to begin by lining up the two fabrics with the right-side of the fabric facing INSIDE towards each other. That means the wrong sides will be facing out! Trim your fabric and felt to the same size. Remember, this mat can be ANY size that you want. If you want it be the size of your kitchen table, for example, measure that first and use this as your guide for creating your mat. I created a generous mat for our large puzzles!

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

2. Once your fabric has been trimmed, use your fabric tape and line all the sides , making sure to leave an opening so that you can turn the mat out once you have sealed all the seams. Using a very hot iron, carefully and slowly, begin ironing to seal the seam (you can see another example of what sealing this seam looks like over here!). Typically doing this requires pinning, but I did find that the felt held the tape in place and made it an easy project to do without pinning. Do this along all the sides (make sure you left that opening to turn it out!!) until the two pieces are fused together. Carefully, turn the right sides out and then finish by sealing that last opening with fabric tape or a little fabric glue.

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

3. Trim your cardboard tube to the length of your finished mat. If you want to paint this, you can! I finished each end with a little tied ribbon that can be used to tie the entire mat up when we are storing it.

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

As you can see, you can roll up those puzzles (take your time and roll carefully!) when not in use. Please keep in mind, it is not recommended for  long-term storage since it can damage your puzzle pieces, but it is recommended for a quick relocation so you can use your table when you need it.

I am so excited to break this in and I’m guessing it is going to be a smart item to take when we rent our summer cottages too!

If you need me today, you’ll find me working on this fun new-to-me puzzle!

PS- Seriously, start a puzzle exchange with your friends. You won’t regret it!

Happy crafting!!

diy-jigsaw-puzzle-mat-9

Do you want more craft inspiration from Waverly? Try these!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray

15-Minute Scrappy Fabric Trees

Kid Craft: Easy Technique for Painting Gift Wrap

DIY Phone Charging Station

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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DIY Phone Charging Station

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

DIY Phone Charging Station from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

A  new year typically brings along new organizing techniques in our home. We have been struggling with keeping track of phone chargers, remembering where we left these poor devices to charge, and figuring out a system that doesn’t require taking up my valuable counter space. I decided I wanted to create a phone charging station that could house all of these devices and be our new landing spot for our home.

This DIY phone charging station is made out of a jewelry armoire and, not only will it house all these phones, it can also be the perfect organizing spot for keys, sunglasses, watches/Fitbit devices, & a place to keep those gift cards we got for the holidays. Wait until you see how we make the most of this little piece!

I also wanted to add a unique touch to this station with some of the beautiful Waverly Inspirations Fabric that I was sent this month. I have never added fabric to a furniture piece before, but not only is it super easy, it also adds a gorgeously unique detail that makes an inexpensive piece look a little more high end. It’s been on my craft bucket list to try this and now I want to add this special touch to a few more pieces in our home.

DIY Phone Charging Station from MomAdvice.com

DIY Phone Charging Station from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed (all of these supplies can be found at Walmart!)

Jewelry Armoire (you can browse all the options here)

Waverly Inspirations Fabric  (I used the 100% cotton duck fabric available at the store)

Waverly Chalk Paint in a coordinating color (I am using Agave)

Mod Podge

Paint brushes & Foam Brush

Fabric Rotary Cutter (or you can use scissors or a razor blade for trimming)

Rotary Mat

Drill

Scrap Wood

Screws

Surge Protector

DIY Phone Charging Station from MomAdvice.com

How to Make a DIY Phone Charging Station

1. Begin by assembling your jewelry armoire, but leave all of your knobs off the fronts of the drawers for now.

2. Using your chalk paint and a small paint brush, paint all of the knobs with a coat of chalk paint. Set aside to dry and then add a second layer of paint.

DIY Phone Charging Station from MomAdvice.com

DIY Phone Charging Station from MomAdvice.com

DIY Phone Charging Station from MomAdvice.com

3. Using the front of your drawer as a guide, cut the fabric carefully and as closely as possible, around the drawer. Repeat with all of the other drawers.

4. Before you attach your fabric to the drawer front, make sure any loose threads and lint are removed from the piece (I went over mine with a lint roller to make sure the surface is clean). Dip your foam brush in the Mod Podge and add a thin layer of glue on the front of the drawer. Carefully line the fabric up on the front of the drawer. Once again, add a layer of Mod Podge OVER the fabric, making to seal all along the edges and across all the fabric. Repeat on all the drawers and then repeat with a second layer.

5. Add your painted knobs on the front of the drawers.

DIY Phone Charging Station from MomAdvice.com

DIY Phone Charging Station from MomAdvice.com

6. Drill holes in the back of your drawers and then a hole in the back of the piece. The size and amount of holes needed will depend entirely on how many devices you have and how wide your charger end is.

7. On the bottom of the unit, attach a scrap piece of wood that can be used to attach your surge protector. We attached the surge protector with a couple of screws to mount this scrap wood.

DIY Phone Charging Station from MomAdvice.com

DIY Phone Charging Station from MomAdvice.com

DIY Phone Charging Station from MomAdvice.com \ DIY Phone Charging Station from MomAdvice.com

DIY Phone Charging Station from MomAdvice.com

DIY Phone Charging Station from MomAdvice.com

 

 

I realized after we took the pictures how much it could benefit from a little dusting with all our drilling we were doing.

Stretch your imagination a bit for that part as we are still dismantling our home from all these festivities!

I wonder if you are in the same boat today?

Seriously, how cute is this fun diy phone charging station to act as an inexpensive organizing solution for a small space? I decided to tie in those painted handles with a little color on the trim of this piece.  I really think the paint and fabric details really make this piece feel really unique and I love how practical this is for helping everyone stay organized!

A huge thank you to my hubby for his assistance on this DIY.

There is nothing like crafting in your pajamas and coffee with someone you love!

Do you want more craft inspiration from Waverly? Try these!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray

15-Minute Scrappy Fabric Trees

Kid Craft: Easy Technique for Painting Gift Wrap

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

 

Kid Crafts: Easy Techniques for Painting Gift Wrap

Monday, December 12th, 2016

Easy Techniques for Painting Gift Wrap from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

You may recall that last year I decided to buy a lifetime of kraft paper for wrapping our holiday gifts. It should come as no surprise that we are still using this giant roll of gift wrap in our house. I have found it is a useful item to have on hand, for all of life’s occasions,  and there is so much that you can do with kraft paper to make your gifts unique.

I also consider pretty gifts to be part of the decorating so it thrills me to come up with new ways to use the same paper each year. I love these gorgeous detail under the tree.

As a crafter, I really never got into acrylic paints until this year. It has been so much fun trying new crafts with these fun paints. I love discovering something that I have walked by for years in the craft aisle and finding my own uses for them!

Today  I wanted to come up with some creative ideas to get kids on the action of decorating the paper as a fun winter craft. I love screen-free activities with them so I thought this would be a fun one that you could have them create, even after the holiday season.

There are so many beautiful hues that you could mix and match any hue that you like. I have a big crush on a metallic Rose this year so I am demonstrating this craft with Waverly Inspirations Metallic & Glitter paint offerings in Rose Quartz (in the Metallic) and Rose Gold (in the Glitter paints!) for a pretty modern look.

Easy Techniques for Painting Gift Wrap from MomAdvice.com

 

3 Fun Painting Projects for Kids to DIY Your Gift Wrap

Easy Techniques for Painting Gift Wrap from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed (all of these supplies can be found at Walmart!)

kraft paper

Rubber Stamps

Small Ornaments (just the inexpensive ones that come in a tube!)

Waverly Inspirations Ribbon

Waverly Glitter & Metallic Paints (in stores)

Paint Brush

Plastic Cups, Bowls, or a Plate for Paints

Directions for Fun Painting Techniques

Make sure to cut off a section that will be generous enough to cover at least one gift.

Easy Techniques for Painting Gift Wrap from MomAdvice.com

Easy Techniques for Painting Gift Wrap from MomAdvice.com

Stamp Your Paper

Pour a small amount of your paint into a disposable cup, plate, or bowl. Using your paintbrush, brush the paint on in an even layer and then place stamp down and pull directly up to try to get as clean of a design as possible. Repeat across the paper or combine this with other designs for more variety. You want to use the Waverly Inspirations Metallic Paints with this technique because the glitter paint doesn’t create that clean image like the metallic paint.

If you don’t have rubber stamps in your craft supplies, you can use odds and ends around your home for stamping. Shapes can be cut into the ends of potatoes, you can cut up sponges into shapes, the eraser end of  a pencil can make adorable polka dots, the edge of a disposable cup can create rings, or a cork could create a dotted technique. This is a great opportunity for your child to explore painting in fun ways.

Easy Techniques for Painting Gift Wrap from MomAdvice.com

Easy Techniques for Painting Gift Wrap from MomAdvice.com

Create Glittered Swirls

If your child lacks the eye-hand coordination for stamping, give them a paintbrush and let them add swirls to the paper.  Paint strokes are layered in glitter thanks this fun glitter paint. I found with this one, it was best to have a fully loaded brush to bring out both the color and the glitter. Repeat your swirls throughout the paper or have your child come up with their own abstract design.

Easy Techniques for Painting Gift Wrap from MomAdvice.com

Easy Techniques for Painting Gift Wrap from MomAdvice.com

Easy Techniques for Painting Gift Wrap from MomAdvice.com

Add Painted Embellishments

Acrylic paints are so fun and make many inexpensive items look high end with modern color choices. Inexpensive ornaments can be painted in coordinating colors and tied on with string to your package. While the rubber stamps are out, stamp up your own diy gift cards on white cardstock and trim with ric-rac scissors or put your own creative spin on the tags. Finish your gift with a beautiful bow.

Easy Techniques for Painting Gift Wrap from MomAdvice.com
Easy Techniques for Painting Gift Wrap from MomAdvice.com

how-to-decorate-gift-wrap-with-acrylic-paints-4864

I hope your kiddos enjoy this boredom buster! I am the queen of craft stockpiling so I have tons of paints, ornaments, and gift wrap (BOY, DO I HAVE GIFT WRAP!) to keep the kids busy on our next snow day.

Do you want more craft inspiration from Waverly? Try these!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray

15-Minute Scrappy Fabric Trees

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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Our Hamilton Chicago Family Review and Experience

Monday, December 5th, 2016

Our Hamilton Chicago Family Review and Experience

It’s 4:30 in the morning and I just can’t sleep. I can admit that I am still riding on quite the high after returning last night from a, TRULY, unforgettable weekend with my family. For those of you that follow me on the interwebz, you already know why it was so exciting, but if you are just catching up, I wanted to share with you the surprise getaway I pulled off to see Hamilton in Chicago with my kids. So many people have been messaging me and asking us questions about our experience that I thought I would share it with you so that others could replicate all the fun that we had!

How We Caught the Hamilton Bug

We caught the Hamilton bug a little later than most of my friends, but when we caught it,  we we fell fast and hard for Hamilton. During a marathon on a puzzle, over our Fall break, we started listening to the soundtrack with our kids. As soon as it finished, they begged to listen to it all over again…and again…and again. It happened to be around the time of the PBS documentary, so we curled up on a couch with them and watched that too. As we drove home from our holiday (blasting Hamilton at full volume), we asked the kids IF (and this was a big IF) we could get tickets to Hamilton, would they be interested in doing this for Christmas. Our family is BIG on experiences and not big on crap in our house so this was, of course, a welcome and familiar idea for our kids.  In fact, we have done a couple of our very own Choose Your Own Adventure Christmas gifts that have been an incredible way to give the gift of experience to our children.

We did not talk about it again with them and pretended like this would never happen in a million years. In fact, they did not know until the morning we left where we were even headed, not only because we wanted to surprise them, but because it didn’t even feel real to us.

hamilton

How Did We Get Tickets!?!

We are known for being frugal so thinking about buying tickets when balcony seats are going for $600 (or more!) seemed way out of our comfort zone for pricing. This month was a crazy month for us though on the site thanks to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday content I had written. We doubled our ad revenue this past month, thanks to that burst in traffic, and we had more sales than we have ever had through the site, sometimes in just a single day!  Each time you make a purchase, we make a small commision off your purchases.  This passive revenue is nothing I ever bank on, it is always just a really happy surprise.

Basically, THANK YOU!

Just in case, I glossed over the whole the site did great stuff, this was the most work I have ever put into it this season. I actually went four days without sleep or a shower, we ate cereal for a week so I could hang out online tracking stuff, and I was pretty awful to everyone around me.

I like to live in a truthful place.

In the end, we pretended like that extra money did not exist and set that amount aside to give our family an experience of a lifetime. It was money that we did not bank upon so it made that a wee bit easier to spend.

 

Privatebank Theater Seating

Just because you have the money though doesn’t make it easier to spend especially if you are unfamiliar with a theater or its seating. PrivateBank Theater  (formerly Bank of America Theatre- VERY CONFUSING!) has some really good seats and some REALLY terrible seats.  My worst fear is to spend a ridiculous amount of money only to find that we can’t see a thing when we got there.

I spent a month scoping out tickets, but also asked for advice from a friend who frequently buys concert tickets and is just a guru in general on ticket buying. His advice was to wait until the last possible minute to insure the best deal on the tickets.

We are a two hour drive away from Chicago so we knew we could do that.

 

vivd-seats-2

After searching on a million sites, we ended up going with VividSeats for two reasons. The first reason was that they actually had the lowest priced tickets after hunting all of the other usual suspect sites. The second was that they offered a 100% buyer guarantee on those seats and it felt less risky than doing something like buying them on eBay.

I used the site,  A View From My Seat to help us figure out if our seats would be good or not. This is a great tool for ANY event you are going to and can help determine if your tickets are a good value or not. Basically, people take a quick phone shot from their seat and tell you whether it is a good one or not. This was the shot that I found from the tickets we were looking at which said, “Limited View.” Because the view was limited, it lowered the value on the tickets and gave us seats in Orchestra Row F for $300 each which ended up being less than the nosebleed seats. Spoiler alert:  the seats were fantastic and better than we could hope for! More on that later…

hamilton-day

Was the process smooth? No, thanks to the seller we bought them from. Waiting until last minute yielded great prices and a panic attack until they arrived. I logged in to check that the tickets had been sent out and Wednesday evening they still had not been sent out for us to leave on Saturday morning. I called VividSeats where I talked to a real-life person who put me on hold, called the seller on another line, and discovered he had not sent them out like he was supposed to. We made alternate back-up arrangements to have them shipped directly to our hotel and she assured me that I would be getting my tickets as soon as possible.

The tickets were overnighted and arrived on my doorstep at 4:30 PM the night before we left. I was so thankful to have them in my hands and practically kissed the delivery man who looked bewildered at the unshowered woman in her pajamas having a near meltdown at the front door. I really appreciated that VividSeats was quick to action and that they made sure that they honored their buyer guarantee to have them to us before our event.

We woke them in the morning and I think they were just stunned. I had packed their bags for them and we were a little disappointed they weren’t losing it about all of this. It wasn’t until we pulled up to the hotel that they were BESIDE THEMSELVES. Much like us, seeing is believing!
thewit chicago

thewit chicago

Where Did We Stay for Hamilton Chicago?

This was our first overnight with our kids in Chicago, but not my own first overnight there. When I did a girl’s trip, one of the gals arranged our stay at theWit. We got the room for a steal and had a really enjoyable stay so it seemed like a great place to try again. The best part is that it was within walking distance of everything so after I booked our tickets, I booked a stay again at theWit. Definitely check for deals through sites like Booking.com, Hotels.com, or TripAdvisor for scoring a really good rate.

Staying for a girl’s trip is a lot different than staying somewhere with your kids though. I was shocked when the concierge emailed me and said that he saw were coming with our children and wanted to be available to me to answer any questions. We knew our kids would love getting Chicago pizza so I emailed a request for a nearby option for gluten-free pizza. They emailed their pick (it was PERFECTION!) and a menu so we could look it over before we came.

The night before arriving the concierge called again to make sure we had everything in place. He explained the valet parking option ($65 overnight and they park it for you!), went over what time we would be arriving so our room would be ready, and assured us they were available moving forward for anything and gave me his number to call if anything came up.

Um, awesome!

We ended up getting there an hour earlier than we said and the staff was apologetic that the room was just being inspected and not ready. After we threw our diva fit about it being unacceptable (JUST KIDDING!)  they got us water and snacks and a few short minutes later, we had keys and headed up to our beautiful room. After breakfast, we came back to a gorgeous complimentary fruit platter welcoming us which was, seriously, the nicest thing ever.

This location was about a 10-15 minute walk to theater and on the way we could see all the beautiful holiday displays in the windows!
Hamilton Chicago Family Review

Hamilton Chicago Family Review

Hamilton Chicago Family Review

What Did We Think of Hamilton Chicago?

As we headed into the theater, an older couple asked if my husband and I were aware of the content in Hamilton since we came with our kids. He grinned and said that they had heard the soundtrack many a time and that we were very aware of what we were taking them to.

There are a couple of f-bombs in the show and there is a sexy number, when Hamilton is involved in a torrid affair,  that is pretty sultry. There are also a few sexual innuendos and such that I doubt went completely over their heads.

Here is what I will say about this. I’m a Christian and we have kept our kids very sheltered from a lot in life. At the same time, there are a few things that have recently happened that gave us confidence that our children had the maturity to see this show.

The first is that they are both in middle school now.

Do you remember middle school?

Hard knock life, yo!

They are already hearing this stuff from their peers and what they saw on stage, I doubt, is any worse than they get to experience on a bus ride.

I’m just having a little flashback to a good Christian girl getting down to Humpty Dance repeatedly at dances reminds me that I’m not too worried about seeing a musical with my kids- hahaha!

The second thing is that this political season has been a doozy and they have been exposed to a lot of garbage thanks to that. Many things happened that I wished I could have sheltered them from, but they still heard all that stuff from their peers, on their news at school in the mornings, and what they have heard on NPR.  This election season, as awful as it was, has created a really honest dialogue with our children about politics and our beliefs. Hamilton is about politics and it is also about a revolution.

You know, our kids are living through a revolution right now and we wanted them to see what happens when people become a part of that narrative for change.

We want to raise kids that are part of the change, part of the good, part of the narrative.

The only worry we had about the Pence drama, by the way, was that it would raise the price of our tickets.

If you thought that might be a worry for us, I encourage you to get to know our family better!

Namaste.

Hamilton Chicago Cast

source: chicago sun times

Being familiar with the original cast doesn’t insure anything though, does it? I have gone to many shows where the current cast was a world away from the original cast. Here is what I want to say, this cast is as incredible as the original cast and does not AT ALL feel like a second-rate show. Being as close to the stage as we were, certainly gave us a very personal perspective of the acting to really witness every nuance and every facial expression. I can’t begin to tell you how moving and how incredibly well done this production is.

Lin-Manuel handpicked their next lead for Hamilton and this is the first leading role for Miguel. You would have never known he hadn’t been the lead in everything he has done and Miguel adds his own flavor to Hamilton, never feeling like a Lin-Manuel knockoff ever at any point in this show.

Every single actor is incredible so it feels unkind to single any out, but I have to do it.

Joshua Henry is one of the most incredible talents I have ever seen on the stage. He played Burr in such a controlled way and the emotions he displayed had me absolutely weeping through much of the show. His voice was unreal good and a perfect rendering needed for Burr.

Ari Afasar’s performance as Eliza was the one that I was most worried about. Phillipa Soo’s voice doesn’t seem like a voice that can be replicated, but Ari’s performance was astounding and perfectly pitched too. It was so much better than I could have ever expected.

Karen Olivo made from an incredible Angelica. There is this point in the show, after her toast to the bride and groom, where the emotion is rawly displayed on her face at this union between her sister & Hamilton. For me, it was one of the moments that made the whole show. In fact, I could burst into tears again thinking about it. That one moment, for me, really showed off what caliber of actress she was.

Hamilton Chicago Cast

source: chicago times

Chris De’Sean Lee plays both Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson and adds humor and heart to this performance. He soars in, “What’d I Miss?” and had my kids belly-laughing through his portions in the show.

Alex Gemignani as King George could not have been more pitch perfect. There is so much about his part that you don’t get to hear on the soundtrack and he adds so much hilarity to an often serious show. In fact, King George ended up being both kid’s favorite in the show.

Even the stage was so cleverly constructed and set designer, David  Korins, shared that they even tried 33 different colors of brick before they found the one that matched the costumes best. Not a detail was spared on this project and it shows.

At the angle we were seated, we could look into the wing of the theater as the actors exited and entered on stage. I have done so many shows during my own time of theater so I was curiously watching them while trying to take in the show. They never once broke character, not once. Each face you would gaze upon was completely in that moment on stage and never strayed. I think that also says a lot!

Generously, after our performance, Alex shared that they were raising money to assist those with HIV. Several members of their cast stood with buckets to take our donations and it was incredibly moving as a fan to get to say, “YOU WERE AMAZING,” in a really intense stalker kind of way to them.

I hope we didn’t scare them.

As soon as we left, my wish was to do it all over again. The show felt like minutes for me, my son, and my husband. My daughter, however, was satisfied with the first act and it took a forty dollar soda to get her back in her seat for the second act.

She loved it, it was just a long day of travel and excitement for her!

At ten and fourteen, I do believe they loved and appreciated this experience. It’s like Disney…you want them to be old enough to appreciate it so you feel like you made a good investment. We really felt like this was a great age for that.

The Art Institute of Chicago

What Else Did We Do After Hamilton Chicago?

The kids were pretty wiped after the show and we were really glad we picked the 2PM one and not the evening performance because of that. We packed a collection of our favorite Christmas movies (these two for them and this one for us!) and scored a DVD player through the guest services at our hotel. We ordered our yummy pizza, got in our pajamas, and had a Christmas movie marathon.

After a lazy morning, we headed over to The Art Institute of Chicago for the day and got to see some REALLY incredible art (it was also within walking distance of our hotel!)If you haven’t been, it’s an incredible museum filled with more art than you can ever imagine. They also have a beautiful cafe to sip some warm drinks in between.

Shake Shack

Shake Shack

We finished our trip with our first visit to a Shake Shack (which was right across the street from the museum!)  and I really hope it isn’t our last. HOLY YUM!! You can get their patties wrapped in lettuce if you are gluten-free. The shakes are divine and a midday glass of wine hit the spot too for this tired mama!

Unfortunately, the weather took an awful turn and my poor husband had to get us back in the middle of a whiteout and slick roads. We were all so thankful to be home after seeing so many people in accidents. Had the weather not done that, the entire weekend would have been absolutely perfect.

The Hamilton Mixtape

We managed to make it through that awful weather thanks, in part,  to The Hamilton Mixtape that came out giving us a chance to hear songs from the show in an entirely different way. If you haven’t heard it yet, you are in for a real treat. Artists like Sia, Nas, Alicia Keys, Andra Day, Jimmy Fallon, The Roots and so many other incredible talents put their own personal spin on songs from the musical. You also get to hear the original demos as well as some original music that was created and mixed just for this project. You must, must, must listen to it!

hamilton-chicago-family-review

This Christmas will definitely go down in our memory books as one of the best we have ever had. Thank you to the incredible cast of Hamilton Chicago for making it an experience we shall never forget and making an incredible family memory that I hope will last a lifetime!

Thanks so much for letting us share about our experience with you!

Have questions? Ask me!

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