Monday, March 30, 2015

Lemonade Stands for Entrepreneurial Nephews and Nieces

Running a lemonade stand is a childhood rite of passage. Help your nieces and nephews set one up one summer afternoon. Provide them with the tools and supplies, help them do the math to figure out how to make a profit, then sit back in a cozy outdoor chair and watch from a safe distance. They'll need to know you're nearby for reassurance and safety, but they'll want to handle the business on their own. Note that the cuter the kids look, the more cars full of suckers, I mean women, will stop to buy overpriced lemonade and probably give the kids extra tips, too.

I love the stripes on this cardboard lemonade stand.

This Melissa and Doug lemonade stand is cute, but probably should be just for indoor play and practice sessions. I'm not sure I'd set it up outside for kids to wait for passing cars.

For older nieces and nephews, this Bizainy lemonade stand kit contains a sign, a banner, a marketing plan, lemonade recipes, a sales pad, and a budget/profits worksheet.

Here's a wooden lemonade stand from Opa and Oma's on Etsy. I'm not sure how heavy it is or how much assembly you have to do once it arrives! The cute pennant is sold separately.

Here's a darling lemonade stand dress someone has created to sell on Etsy.


A Pinner has collected her cutest lemonade stands ever; and here's another collection of lemonade stand pins for inspiration. And the official Pinterest lemonade stand explore tag.

Other helpful links:

Recipes for your Lemonade Stand (Sunkist)

How to Set up a Summer Lemonade Stand (Food Network)

Lemonade Stand Lemonade Recipe (The Kitchn)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Darling and Interesting Alternatives to Rocking Horses

I have fond memories of riding a squeaky spring rocking horse like this one at my grandmother's house. She kept it in her toy-filled basement, which was probably a good idea since the toy was so noisy. Either the horse would be being ridden madly, or my brother and I would be loudly fighting over whose turn it was!

Bouncy Hopping Horse, on Amazon

We also had a rubber bouncy toy you sit on and hop around the house on - I think it was shaped like a chicken, or maybe a hippo. (The fog of time is making it hard to remember!)

Pink Owl Rocker "Owlivia" by Rockabye

We enjoyed our rocking horse, bouncing toys and rocking chairs so very much, I'm looking for a more unusual, perhaps more whimsical one to keep in my playroom. It may not make sense for you to have a rocking toy in your house - they're fairly inexpensive nowadays, but take up space, and are a one-purpose item. If your niece and nephews don't visit often, or are likely to only be able to enjoy using it a few times before they physically outgrow it, it probably isn't a practical thing to keep around your house. They are also dangerous - you don't want wheeled riding toys if you have stairs or a multi story house; fingers can get pinched; kids can fall off and get hurt, etc. Use with caution and supervision!

Bonita Butterfly Rocker

If you have the extra room for it though, and have as many small children visiting your house as I do here at mine, here are some cute alternatives to boring standard "rocking horses." I'm tired of horse, farm, zoo and safari animal themes!

Luna the Unicorn Bounce-A-Long Buddie

Rockabye Lulu Ladybug Rocker

Rockabye Princess Carriage Rocker

Darla Dragonfly Rocker, by Rockabye

Rockabye Fossil Dinosaur Rocker

Buzzy Bee Rocker, by Rockabye

Happy Trails Dagwood Dragon Ride On

Puffy Ride on Dragon by Wonderworld

Poof, the Lil Dragon Rocker, by Rockabye

Happy Trails Ride On Mammoth

Rocking Caterpillar by Hessie

Winnie the Pooh Rocking Chair

Doggie Pirate Ship Rocker, on Amazon

Triceratops Rocker, by Labebe

Turtle Rocker, by Labebe

And now for the unaffordable whimsical fantasy dreams:

Lloyd the Locomotive Wooden Rocker, by Trottwood Creations on Etsy

Jewel the Unicorn Rocker, by Trottwood Creations, on Etsy

Drakin the Dragon Rocker, by Trottwood Creations, on Etsy

Mermaid Ride on Rocker, by Enchanted Pumpkin Art, on Etsy

Motorcycle Rocker, by Craftsman Larry on Etsy

Friday, March 20, 2015

Unique Soft Toy Gifts for Newborn Nieces and Nephews

I'm not usually in favor of gifting stuffed animals or stuffed toys to newborns. Most people do, and your typical newborn can end up with dozens upon dozens of the usual: baby duckies, lambs, kitties, puppies, sheep, bunnies and other farmyard animals. Or another newborn stuffed animal trend I'm so, so sick of is the safari animal trend: giraffes, lions, monkeys, etc.

Since newborns don't actually play much with toys, I prefer to gift squeakers or rattles because at least Mommy or Daddy can distract baby with waggling them about in front of Baby's face. Later, when Baby can grasp for toys herself, she'll enjoy the texture and sounds she can produce with the boy. Yay for distraction!

If I'm going to break down and gift a stuffed animal, I want it to be a unique one you don't see just anywhere. That's one small part in the process of attaining and maintaining one's Favored Aunt status.

This Al Paca soft toy is really cute, and your new niece or nephew probably won't get any other alpaca toys!

Al Paca has a friend named Dolly Llama. Oh, how witty this company is (or thinks they are!)

I'll occasionally see someone gift a kangaroo themed toy, but this Rattle a Roo looks so different and is of much higher quality than the other toys I've seen. Love the red-and-white color theme and the tiny baby kangaroo in his pouch!

Rattle-A-Roo also comes in blue-and-yellow.

And in brown-and-green.

Owls are super trendy right now. Your newborn niece or nephew won't know that or care, but there's a good chance that Baby's mommy will be delighted with this knitted owl rattle. And it squeaks!

These are pretty small gifts - probably they should be part of a larger gift, or tied onto the package of a gift bag full of darling baby clothes and board books. Anyway, hope you liked looking at them!

Easter Pastas for Nieces and Nephews

I love to serve novelty shaped pastas to my nieces and nephews. (Let's face it - they'll either be eating pizza, chicken nuggets, or pasta at my house, not salads, broccoli or my homemade pea soup!) I try to go out of my way to find seasonal-themed pastas when I know they're going to visit for a meal. Here are some of the fun Easter pastas I've found lately:

Bunny Hop Pasta

Plentiful Pantry Easter Pasta

Annie's Bunny Pasta with Yummy Cheese

Cost Plus World Market Easter Pasta


Many of my nieces and nephews won't tolerate a tomato sauce, and that's ok because we don't want to obscure the fun shapes of the pasta. An Alfredo cream sauce might be acceptable to some of the kids, and you can try stirring cheese in later once they've been able to peek at the cute pastel colors and shapes of the pasta. Will your nieces or nephews eat cold pasta salad? Mine won't, but I thought I'd suggest it. If you make it with peas, no olives, and white balsamic vinaigrette so you don't stain the pasta, some of your kiddos might like this.

Fun and Unusual Pool Floats For Our Nieces and Nephews

I don't own a swimming pool (I live in rainy Seattle; can't afford one; and live right next door to an elementary school!) It's a bit early to start thinking about swimming, but I like to be prepared ahead of time.

My nephews love swimming, so we end up going to hotels for special occasions to use the hotel pool, or borrowing friends' apartment pools when we can. (There's a city pool nearby, but it gets too crowded and crazy, so we skip it). Sometimes we are offered the privilege of visiting relatives with swimming pools.

When that happens, I like to bring fun and different swimming pool floats for the kids to enjoy. (I sure get tired from blowing them up every time though!) No boring round swim rings or inner tubes for us!

Some hotels even don't mind if you bring a float toy, so I bring some to share with the other children that will inevitably be staying at the hotel.

Here are some of the fun pool floats I'm considering this year, since someone naughtily jumped on and popped our Space Shuttle float we were using last summer!

Giant Swan Pool Float

Star Wars Millennium Falcon Pool Float

Citrus Slice Pool Floats, in Orange, Lemon or Lime

Doughnut Pool Float

Whale Pool Ride-On

Sunflower Swim Float

Watermelon Slice Inflatable Raft, on Amazon

Ride On Inflatable Pool Shark

Inflatable Pizza Slice Pool Float

Inflatable Sunfloat Island

Rattlesnake Twister Pool Float


Be sure to supervise your kiddos while they are using these. Toddlers especially should have Auntie nearby inside the pool ready to catch them as the toys can get slippery and the kid can slide right off. Also some of these toys cause the kids to fight (friendly at first) on top of the boys - a prime reason I no longer bring "noodles" to the pool, as it makes my nephews start bopping each other on the head and swordfighting!

Note that you can win massive aunt points for actually getting into the water and playing with the kids. Often times kids' parents are just understandably too plain tired to get in the pool. At hotels, I've noticed a lot of the moms gratefully sinking into a patio chair with a magazine while Dad takes the kids into the pool. Be sure if you're along with Mom and Dad that you help supervise the kids and are extra attentive - Mom and Dad might assume you'll do all the work, and lose themselves in their magazines and smartphones, exhausted and grateful for the break you're providing them.