Category: Helpful Services

A wonderful way to help cancer patients that has nothing to do with pink ribbons.

When my mom had cancer, one of the things that truly lifted her spirits (and ours) was when friends would drop off home-cooked meals. Beyond the comfort in knowing that people cared, the meals themselves were warm, delicious, and time-saving. Lifesaving, really. And that’s why I’m so happy to share this wonderful that we found, which makes a fabulous gift for friends and family battling cancer–both for the holidays and year-round. {Keep reading for a discount on this amazing service, especially for CMP readers and their families and friends!} Meals to Heal really couldn’t be simpler: patients (or their...

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Is an American Express Platinum Card really worth it? Here’s the scoop.

I am a frequent business traveler, an entertainment junkie (jazz hands!) and a big fan of not cooking on special occasions when a great restaurant can do it for me. That’s why I’ve been an American Express Platinum holder for a long time. I know, I know, it sounds totally fancy. But for me, it’s always paid for itself; I have heard the Platinum Card referred to as a “benefits card” and not a charge card, which seems pretty apt. And since becoming a parent, I’ve realized there are a ton of benefits just for families–like an upcoming special...

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Birchbox Home arrives, whoa! A new reason to stay in on Friday nights

We’ve already have described how much we love Birchbox from the day they launched since, well, who doesn’t love a hot pink box filled with amazing high-end cosmetics samples delivered to their door each month? So it will be no surprise to hear that we’re ridiculously excited about two brand new Birchbox developments. Just in time for the holiday season, Birchbox has announced the launch of Birchbox Home, their brand new pop-up shop. And I won’t lie to you, I’m already drooling. With everything from pretty Ikat nesting bowls and gourmet vanilla bean sugar to the super-cool Jonathan Adler...

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A free family-savvy tour guide, at your service (LAX, we’re starting with you)

I love finding the best activities and spots to check out in my city. When a site does all of the legwork and offers me a list of proposed activities to check out each week, what’s not to love? That’s why I’m digging the new site The Family Savvy. An evolution of an old CMP favorite, Kids off the Couch, we are psyched to follow author Sarah Bowman on this new adventure around Los Angeles. Until they expand to a location near you, why not use this as a family-friendly guide on your next vacation to the City of Angels?...

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Party perfection: raise the roof AND raise money for your fave nonprofits

Planning a kids’ party isn’t for the faint of heart, even though the end results (adorable cake-face photos! happy wee ones!) are always worth it.  Let’s face it: life is crazybusy. So I can totally see why more and more parents are turning to online party-planning services to lighten the load. But we’ve found one with a little extra do-gooding awesomeness to sweeten the deal. A few years back we discovered ECHOage, a site which helps you can organize a fete for your kiddo that directly benefits more than 120 nonprofits. They’ve evolved since then, with adorable invitations, and even...

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Custom embroidery on just about any kids’ gifts you can imagine

We all know that personalized items make a baby’s or kid’s gift ten times more special. While many of the big catalog stores offer custom embroidery, they’ll usually only personalize their own brand’s items–which is kind of limiting. So I’m so happy to find a shop that features some of our own favorite small brands, and allows you to personalize their items with a name. For ages we’ve loved companies like 3 Sprouts, Apple Park and Myself Belts. And now the site Makaboo features them as part of a smart selection of items, from loveys and baby gifts, to back-to-school gear, decor, and clothing. The...

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7 surprising ways BabbaBox makes a cool gift for kids

If your kids are like mine, then getting something in the mail with their name on it completely makes their day. However when it’s filled with arts, crafts, and everything you need to make them, well, I’m pretty sure it would make their year. We’ve been long time fans of BabbaBox, now our newest sponsor (yay!), so we already know that their amazing activity boxes for kids 3-6 make the perfect gift. Here, just a few ways to think of it that you might not have considered.{Don’t miss the exclusive discount and two great giveaways after the jump} 1....

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Serious rad upcycled childrens clothes for seriously special occasions

[updated with corrected info] There is something so special about children’s clothes with history. Hand-me-downs aren’t just a frugal choice: there’s often meaning in seeing your child in his grandpa’s favorite college sweatshirt. And now there’s a talented artist who’s preserving those memories–and clothing–in a truly special way. Kindred Cloth (even the name is divine) is a family owned business that runs on love and extraordinary talent. They’re applying remarkable talent to creating special outfits for children, by transforming a parent’s old shirt or other garment into something gorgeous and new. You can choose from their own ready-made designs...

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Turning baby clothes into a quilt. Or better, having someone talented do it for you.

If you’re like me, then you’ve got a couple of boxes in the attic with a few of each of your kids’ baby clothes. Every now and then I wonder what exactly I’m going to do with them when I pull them out in ten years and they’re all dusty and mildewy. I’ve always liked the idea of keepsake baby quilts made from baby clothes, but so few actually look as gorgeous as these. Each Keepsake Quilt is handmade by mom Lucinda Snyder, who works with you to create a beautiful 30 x 30 blanket made from 12 to...

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A babysitting coop that’s smarter than your average babysitting coop

Babysitting coops, in which a group of parents agree to exchange babysitting services with each other aways sound like a great idea — until you realize that someone has to keep track of who babysat whom and manage a complicated point system. And then there are those times you need a sitter, but none of your neighbors are around. Enter a smart service called SittingAround. SittingAround is a valuable online source for your babysitting coop, and more. You create a mix of trusted parents (or join an existing one) who are willing to trade babysitting hours with you, along with...

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Ever considered using a personal shopper? Here’s your chance

I’ve recently gotten to better know Stacey Mayesh, a bona fide stylist to the stars. And a really nice one at that. You’ve no doubt seen her work if you’ve read Vogue, Marie Claire, InStyle, Lucky…and she’s styled the likes of celebs from Jessica Alba to Claire Danes to Susan Sarandon. Sean Combs has even hired her. (Now that’s a story I’d like to hear about!) Now, Stacey is working with private clients to help them purge, create, or otherwise rehabilitate their wardrobes and shopping habits. Kind of like What Not to Wear, only without the public humiliation. And...

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Sensory and developmental toys for kids on every level of the autism spectrum

I’m on a mission to find a birthday present for one of the smartest, sweetest, most wonderful little guys I know. That’s never an easy task. But Creative Kidstuff has made the process much simpler with a special new section on its website. Why? Because the awesome kid I’m shopping for has an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Creative Kidstuff, in partnership with St. David’s Center, has identified the best of its educational toys for different skill and developmental categories and put them into one easy-to-shop category of toys for children with special needs. For example, if you’re looking for fun toys to...

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Custom scarves from Hayden-Harnett – Baby wearing in a whole different kind of way

In the search for custom photo Mother’s Day gifts, there’s a fine line between creepy and cool. (Hint: you do not want to wear your baby as a hat.) But bespoke scarves from one of our favorite hip accessory designers? We think that’s cool. The custom photo scarves from Hayden-Harnett, a Cool Mom Picks favorite, can be a very creative way to celebrate a child or grandchild. The Brooklyn designers will transform a photo (even one right from your smart phone) into a beautiful scarf in either sandwashed silk or sheer silk chiffon. If you’re not the photo-on-a-scarf type,...

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Making your own bouquets look like those pricy ones. You can do it!

Artfully arranged flowers are one of life’s most fleeting luxuries. Since I’m not an heiress, I pick up flowers at Trader Joe’s or the grocery store when I do my weekly shopping — the flowers are inexpensive, and a flower’s a flower right? The only problem is that when I get home with a bunch of flowers I have no idea what to do with them. So I plop them in a vase (as artfully as possible of course) and wonder why they never look as nice as professionally arranged flowers. Now they do. When I learned about the Flower...

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thredUP’s new Concierge service – the easiest way to resell your kids outgrown clothes

It is a sad moment when I put a barely worn outfit on one of my kids and realize they’ve outgrown it before they’ve even had a chance to spill something on it. But now the smart people at online clothes-swapping site thredUP have come out with a new service that’s perfect for parents who love buying their kids cute clothes, but hate when they’re outgrown. Let’s just say it’s not so bad knowing your kids outgrow their clothes when you can get paid for them.  {keep reading for a chance to access this service before it goes live...

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LegalZeal – Great help for small business owners.

We know a ton of our readers are small business owners, just like we are. And we know first hand how confusing all the legalese can be when you’re getting established. I’ve badgered accountant friends for info and lawyer friends have helped me distinguish an LLC from an INC from a DBA. Or at least enough to know which one to use. There’s that one big online site out there for legal help, but we’ve found out that “help” may come with a lot of (big) hidden costs. So I’m glad to see a new site made especially for...

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TaskRabbit – a.k.a. your very own personal assistant

Sometimes I feel like my days are filled with nothing but a bunch of things I have to get done. Thankfully, there’s a new website that hooks people like me up with someone willing to help with everything and anything, from grocery shopping to cooking dinner.  The new website TaskRabbit is a more dignified-than-CraigsList-way to hire someone to do something you don’t want to do. You post the task you need done on their message board with an amount you’re willing to pay. Then wait for offers to come in from their background-checked “task rabbits.” Next, you hire whoever...

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5 cool modern piggy banks

We’re so thrilled to be teaming up with our sponsor Harris Bank who’s asked us to offer up cool picks to help teach money management early. Back when I was a kid, a piggy bank was no more than a basic way to teach money savings to those old enough to dump a few pennies in the slot. These days, you might have noticed that piggy banks have come a long way in both design and style. With the holidays coming up, we rounded up 5 of our favorite modern piggy banks, which not only do the job they’re...

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5 amazing daycare options that aren’t what they used to be.

It’s kind of amazing how far daycare has come. Whether you’re reclaiming date night or just need a few minutes to work (or read) in peace, specialized work/play centers are popping up all over the country to supervise your kids when you can’t. Some places focus on exercise and excitement, while others focus on education and parental comfort. Bonus: most of them include coffee. Here are a few we’ve found that look like a lot of fun for the kids… and you. Portland, OR: WeVillage Urban Playcare A nighttime daycare: Brilliant! This licensed childcare facility is open late to...

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The best food on Fresh Direct for the time-starved NYC parent

Like so many New York area parents, I’ve been an avid user of Fresh Direct for years now. For me, shopping for groceries online is the best way to avoid the stress and mess of supermarket shopping with a curious toddler who wants to stick his fingers into packages of raw chicken and take bites out of everything in the produce section. So I did not need convincing that it’s a seriously great way to stock my kitchen. What I did need convincing about, was that the prepared meals didn’t taste like hospital food. Fresh Direct sent me a...

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The most helpful site for NYC mamas in search of… well, everything

I didn’t have kids yet when I lived in New York, but if I did–or should we ever happen to move back (could happen!)–I’d need some help getting it all together. A toddler bed to fit in a Manhattan apartment? Recommendations for a fabulous nanny? A gently-used city stroller for two? These are things for which you could turn to anonymous classified sites, but would you really want to when there’s a safer, more trustworthy alternative? Blueleo is a site filled with classifieds specifically for parents in the NYC vicinity, including Westchester, New Jersey, Long Island, and Fairfield. In...

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Designer email templates – A busy mom’s lifesaver

This post is sponsored by Yahoo! Mail, which is encouraging families to stay in touch via email – which we think is pretty cool. I do my best to pop a handwritten note to friends and family, especially on their birthdays or when they’re kind enough to send a gift for my kids, but I’ll be honest, since adding my fourth child, it’s become much more challenging. Let’s just say it can be hard to even get my bills in the mail, let alone a note. (Shhhh, please don’t tell Emily Post. Or my mother.) Since discovering the joy...

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Enhancing the bromance

Only in New York. It might be a cliche, but it’s true. Especially when it’s the one city offering a new online service that provides the men in your life with a menu of options to send their homies thoughtful thank you gifts of beer, beef jerky or a Top Gun DVD. So why are we telling you? Because we know that women are the ones who have to say, “uh honey…did you ever thank your cousin Al for that thing he did for us?” The website at Thanks, Bro has a very simple multiple choice order form where...

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A guide to responding to those really bad emails from family. (You know the ones.)

We’re happy to be working with our sponsor Yahoo! Mail, who’s helping encourage families to stay connected via email. Which, as we know, is a good thing! While email (and email etiquette) seems to have been around for a million years or so, oddly, we all still have those well-meaning folks in our lives who insist on filling our inboxes with chain letters, photoshopped pics passed off as real ones, and dated news about the Y2K virus. (Oh noes!) While even the best of us might be tempted to get a little snarky with our responses from time to...

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How to turn your email box into a baby book

We’re happy to be working with our sponsor Yahoo! Mail, who’s helping encourage families to stay connected via email. Which, as we know, is a good thing!When my first daughter was born, I was pretty diligent about keeping up her baby book. I even had a blank journal that I kept all sorts of notes in as well – first smile, first tooth, first poop in the bath tub (heh). But when I added my second–and then my third and fourth kid– I couldn’t even find the time to jot down notes to myself let alone notes about the...

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Turn kiddo castoffs into gorgeous keepsake art

I’m in a period of mega-emotion when it comes to the idea that my almost 4-year-old and about-to-be-1-year-old are past the wee little onesies. Every weekend, I sit down with a pile of old clothes from the garage–which is rapidly turning into a baby clothing repository (who needs space for the cars, anyway?)–and attempt to weed them out. It’s slow-going. I just wish I could frame those sweet pink cardigans and teensy duck-covered pants and keep them forever, you know? Fortunately, it can be done–and in the sweetest, prettiest, most contemporary way ever. The Great Remember is a Brooklyn-based company...

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The Giving Effect – Spring cleaning meets targeted giving

Every year at about this time, I start digging out my kids’ closets, then the other closets, and before I know it, I’m on a veritable sort-and-chuck rampage. When the dust settles, I usually have an entire carload of garbage bags ready to go to charity. Usually I drop off at the big national charity that’s got a donation dumpster right down the road. But. I don’t ever do cash charity donations to “whatever’s closest,” so why am I doing that with my stuff? Probably because–until now–I didn’t know about The Giving Effect. Just  input your zip code on...

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Cool Mom Picks is voted the most trustworthy product reviews for parents. Um, wow.

We were nothing short of thrilled to find out that we’ve won a Cribsie Award for the most trustworthy product reviews for parents. Thank you Cribsies! Considering more than 135,000 total votes were cast, and our formidable competition included Daily Candy, AOL’s Parent Dish, Babble, and Lil’ Sugar–some of our favorite sites too–we really are blown away. Head over to the website and see the winners in more than 60 categories, including lots of brands you might be familiar with from these pages. (You Cribsie voters have good taste!) Thank you so much to those of you who voted...

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Online meal planner? – Reader Q&A

I am looking for an online meal planner and shopping list generator…any suggestions? As I sit down to plan the meals out and do up a shopping list, I think to myself, there has to be a digital way to do this. -Aine If you really want everything from soup to nuts (heh), check out Relish. For a totally reasonable monthly fee, they’ll email you recipes each week from which you can pick the ones you want to make for your family. After scaling the recipes to fit your family size—-an awesome feature if you have just one child...

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3 tech tips for getting organized for the new year

Not surprisingly, one of the biggest New Year’s resolutions for all kinds of folks is getting organized. But for moms, we’d imagine it’s the biggest of all. (Even us, we admit it!) Can you ever be too organized? So we’re thrilled to be working with AboutOne.com, a cool family management site that we discovered last year, that really helps make a mama’s life easier by storing all your family’s important info in one safe, accessible place. Did we mention safe? In this newfangled online world, there are actually a ton of easy, affordable ways we’ve discovered that technology can...

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