Author: Kristen Chase

Start your day with coffee and a laugh. Thanks, Emily McDowell.

I’m pretty sure that artist Emily McDowell is inside my head, because every single thing she makes I find myself nodding and smiling, maybe laughing, and then laughing some more. And that’s the case with her newest crop of funny coffee mugs which makes the line even bigger. And funnier. You’ve probably seen Emily’s hilarious reusable grocery bags and book totes here on Cool Mom Picks, which have all been big huge hits with our readers, and now, it’s funny coffee mugs. Personally, I think laughing over coffee is a perfect way to start your morning — or if you’re me, mid-morning, lunch, and late afternoon. Okay, sometimes after dinner too, which as you...

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8 tips for bringing even more imagination and creativity to store-bought toys.

We talk a lot about toys that inspire creativity and imagination, and the thing is, in a kid’s world, pretty much everything is a source of creativity and imagination. (See also: Pillow forts, scarves that become hula skirts, and monsters under the bed.) So as much as we’re all for handing a kid a blank sheet of paper and saying, “here you go, kid,” of course they like getting new toys as much as anyone. So I’m always looking for ways to help make my kids’ toys more fun for them — that is, if they don’t beat me to...

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5 fashionable things I’m coveting right now

It’s time for the big Nordstrom sale, which means up to 40% off on lots of goodies I might have kept on my wish list for a whole lot longer. Here, my 5 favorite fashionable items I’m crushing on right now that I hope you love too. CMP is a reward style affiliate.  1. It’s no secret that I’m an MZ Wallace junkie and for good reason; the nylon makes them great all weather bags. For summer, I need something smaller and preferably brighter, which is why this gorgeous blue satchel caught my eye, especially since it can be worn as a...

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A Kate Spade picnic blanket that comes complete with its own grass. Ants not included.

It’s finally the perfect weather for picnics, hooray! Eating al fresco of course isn’t complete without a picnic blanket, but this Kate Spade picnic blanket actually includes the grass too. Just in case that’s a little hard to find for you city dwellers. Related: 9 al fresco recipes for summer picnic perfection Okay, so it’s not real grass, but it looks pretty darn close, doesn’t it? The big difference is that it’s not itchy (sorry, grass) and it wipes clean, a helpful feature if you’re picnicking with children. Or heck, even adults, who might be a little clumsy with their wine sippy cup....

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7 smart, surprising ways to help you cut your spending right now

It’s probably no surprise that I have a penchant for shopping, but for about the last six months in particular, I’ve actually been trying to cut back, seeing as how we’ve now got braces, and summer camp, and hopefully a family vacation to save for. I’m not an overspender, but I admit I do make the extra trip to Starbucks for a coffee when I could easily just make a cup at home (there’s value in getting out of the house when you work at home a lot); and I do have a hard time passing up a hot pair of platform sandals...

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How to wear skinny jeans without flaunting a muffin top. No Spanx required…maybe.

I’ll be honest that after having four kids, I wasn’t sure I’d ever be adding skinny jeans to my wardrobe. While I eventually lost the baby weight (well, most of it anyway), the extra skin made me feel self-conscious. But with some careful shopping and lots of trial and error, I feel like I’ve at last mastered the art of wearing skinny jeans as a not-anywhere-near-size-2 woman. To show that you can do it too, I’m thrilled (like, super thrilled) to welcome AYR as our newest sponsor. They’re a really smart company that was founded to offer perfect fitting jeans, along with versatile, high quality...

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Another reason to love FashionABLE: Wallets!

Most of my friends, family, even my kids’ classroom teachers know by now that FashionABLE is my go-to for gifts because they’re all wearing something from them. Gorgeous scarves, fabulous totes, the list goes on. Well, now they’ve added wallets, I have to say might just be the gift from them I finally give to myself, and not just because they match their amazing leather totes I carry around daily. Okay, maybe a little.   As I just mentioned, I’m a huge fan of black and cognac leather, which is exactly what these handmade leather wallets are made from. But the size is perfect for...

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The coolest indie Mother’s Day gifts, now with totally free worldwide shipping

There’s only just under two weeks left until Mother’s Day, so if you’re shopping online for Mother’s Day gifts, especially gifts from small makers and independent artists (arguably our favorites) that might even be made to order, you had better get cracking! Fear not, we’ve got a ton of lovely ideas right in our Mother’s Day boutique from our Cool Mom Picks indie shop. Update: Regretfully, the great.ly shop is no longer in operation. We hope you’ll find other cool stuff you love throughout our site. What’s even better, the entire shop is now offering free worldwide shipping on every single...

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The Nepal Earthquake: What you can do to help the victims

As the massive rescue and recovery efforts are underway to assist those affected by the devastating Nepal Earthquake, we are all feeling like we want to help in some way, even though we feel so far away. Fortunately, there are lots of ways you can help the many NGOs and charities that are sending teams over. If you’re looking to contribute, we rounded up some organizations that could certainly use your support right now. – Over at CNN, there’s a helpful list of charities supporting Nepal Earthquake relief, including the Nepal Red Cross Society, Global Giving, and UNICEF, just to name a few. They...

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How to foster a love of music in your little kids: 6 simple, no-stress things you can do right now

Music is such an important part of children’s lives from both an educational and entertainment standpoint. As a former music therapist and college professor I might be a little biased, but there are plenty of personal stories and scientific studies to back up the theories. What a lot of parents don’t know is that it a child’s music aptitude (think, music IQ) is still forming up through the age of 9. So while some kids are definitely “born with it,” even if your kids don’t seem to be, you can still absolutely raise their level of musical intelligence in those early,...

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Because girls like dinosaurs. And well, boys like purple.

I just love when parents get fired up about not being able to find the kinds of off-the-beaten-path things their girls are interested in. Because really, that just inspires entrepreneurs to come up with such things and now we all get to reap the benefits. Such is the case with everything at mom-run shop Nawi Kids. – Don’t miss an exclusive discount below –  Moms Nas and Whitney started their company years ago when Whitney’s daughter was potty training and into dinosaurs. Surprise, there was no dinosaur underwear for girls anywhere to be found. So, smart mom that she is, Whitney decided she...

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Give us a kiss

Ever since I saw these amazing kiss necklaces at the Architectural Digest Home Show a few weeks ago, I can’t get them out of my head. They’re really wearable art, and I still still can’t believe I had the willpower to not grab one when I saw her at the show. Fortunately I found I can grab them online. Hand-cast by Los Angeles artist Elyse Graham, each bold, modern piece is made from colorful shades of urethane, which has a light, resin-like feel to it. Definitely more substantial than plastic, and with beautiful chains to match. But if you’re like me and happen to be obsessed...

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Blue Apron review: Is it worth the price for families?

I’ve been wanting to check out Blue Apron for awhile now, especially after seeing so many friends, whose foodie sensibilities I trust implicitly, give this subscription food delivery service a thumbs up. If you’re not familiar with Blue Apron, they deliver recipes complete with all the ingredients you need right to your door, so all you do is put them together and cook them. Sounds awesome, right? However as a busy single mom of four kids ranging in age from ten down to four, I was curious to see whether the service is worth the price, which as you might guess is on the higher side; the...

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Free labor! A helpful guide to chores for kids by age

With four kids in the house, you can probably imagine the amount of cleaning and vacuuming and picking up (oh, the picking up) that needs to be done on a daily basis. That’s also why you can bet my kids each have their own list of chores. I’m a firm believer in getting kids involved from an early age because not only does is it a huge help (free labor!) but it teaches kids important lessons about responsibility. As our friend Asha from Parent Hacks says, “Frame your kids’ chores as move-out skills. No one wants a roommate who...

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Angela and Roi Crossbody bags for a cause. You know, beyond your spring wardrobe.

I only have one crossbody bag in my closet, which given my bag obsession seems ridiculous, I know, but I use it so much that I think it might be time to add another, like say this new one from Angela & Roi. How convenient! I love how each color of their bags connects to a specific worthy cause, so not only are you getting a gorgeous vegan leather bag, you’re also giving a little back to a charity with your purchase. The new Arc Crossbody definitely fits in with their line of sleek, simple bags, though I have to say I like how this particular...

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2 fabulous new natural laundry products that actually work

With a houseful of kids with sensitive skin, I stick to my free and clear laundry detergents and skip the boosters, fabric softeners, and stain sticks just to be safe. But after discovering these two new natural laundry products, I’ve enjoyed clothes and towels that are softer, smell much nicer, and have fewer, if any, stains. Hooray! So I couldn’t wait to share them, should you also want some cool natural laundry detergents. From the folks at B&N Laundry, I’m loving the felted goat milk stain stick (above). Yes, I know that sounds totally bizarre, but wow, it really works well! This family-run company discovered that goat milk...

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The new Bottlerocket Water Bottle from PlanetBox: Is it worth the price?

When PlanetBox, the makers of those uber popular stainless-steel lunch boxes, asked if I’d like to check out their new Bottlerocket water bottle, I didn’t even blink before saying yes. I recently ditched juice boxes from my kids’ lunches to save a little money and cut down on their sugar intake, which means they now fill and pack their own water bottle every day. So I’m always looking for the exact perfect one. However at $28, this is probably one of the priciest water bottles I’ve seen for kids — a good $10 more than the popular Klean Kanteen bottle. So I...

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5 fashionable things I’m coveting right now

With all this warmer weather, I can practically taste spring, which means slowly putting away the sweaters and boots and maybe, just maybe, getting ready to add a few new pieces to my wardrobe. The kind that aren’t designed primarily to keep me warm and dry. After poking around my favorite online shops, here are 5 fashionable items  I’m crushing on right now that I hope you love too. -Kristen CMP is an rstyle affiliate   1. I know, I know, it’s hardly time for sandals. But I’m all about being prepared should it happen warm up sooner than expected. Wishful thinking?...

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Our favorite Hayden-Harnett cuff bracelets, now 75% off! That’s your cue to shop.

Editor’s note: Post updated with new sample sale link on June 25, 2015. Happy shopping! If you want to score an amazing deal on one of our favorite accessories that we pretty much wear every single day, hurry over to the Hayden-Harnett sale section. Their cool leather cuff bracelets are marked down all under $25, which is a huge savings considering they’re usually $98. Yes, you read that correctly.   I have Liz to blame for making me a Hayden-Harnett fan, and since discovering them a few years ago, I keep an eye on their sales because the deals are pretty...

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Etnies Spring 2015: Cool skater shoes for kids, even if they’re not skaters. Yet.

My son hasn’t pulled out his skateboard in a couple of years but that hasn’t stopped him from wearing his new etnies from their Spring 2015 collection. And considering how picky he tends to be about footwear, I’d say that’s nothing short of amazing. If you’re looking for something a little cooler than your average sneaker for your kids, I’m really digging the new etnies spring collection, particularly the Lo-Cut SC Kids that don’t even look like your typical skater kicks. They’re ridiculously light, though still supportive and comfortable thanks to a foam mid-sole. And my son, who is still not super keen on...

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