Category: Helpful Services

Bid, borrow or swap your way to a fabulous wardrobe

If eBay, Net-a-Porter, Rent the Runway and Gilt Groupe (all of my favorite shopping websites) had a baby, their progeny would look like I-ELLA.com. Launched by a fashion-obsessed entrepreneur in New York, I-ELLA weaves enough elements into the shopping experience to make my head spin (in a really good way). Here’s the gist. I-ELLA translates the social aspect of shopping with friends to the online setting by letting you “share” your closet with the rest of the invitation-only community, which includes celebs, models and assorted fashionistas. Once you post your new or gently worn goods on the site for...

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Calling all you mama inventors

Are you one of those people who is always coming up with good ideas for products? In our support for you mama entrepreneurs and all the genius we seem from you in our inboxes every day, we thought we’d tip you off to a chance to audition for season for the PBS show, Everyday Edisons. They’re looking for people with ideas for kids toys, kids gear, and products for the home, kitchen and bath.  Got any? Go to Edison Nation and submit your idea and maybe you’ll be one of the ten inventors chosen for the show–meaning you’ll actually...

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Like a little box of Farmer’s Market sunshine delivered right to your door.

We are what you’d call foodies at my place, despite my sigOth absolutely hating that term. Whatever it means when your pantry is filled with lots of little jars, and you tend to have more kinds of mustards in your fridge than most supermarkets have, that’s what we are. So of course, we’re huge fans of Foodzie, the online marketplace for artisanal and handmade foods. They’ve just come out with a new service that I am ridiculously excited about. Especially in time for the holidays. Subscribe to the new Foodzie Gourmet Tasting Box and receive a monthly selection of...

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Kitchen Helper

I really enjoy cooking for my family. What I don’t enjoy are the non-cooking parts of cooking – deciding what everyone is going to eat, and all that chopping, mincing prep work. Well we just found a really revolutionary service that take those two items off the dinner menu. Dream Dinners, with storefronts in 30 states, is like your very own sous chef. You purchase a set amount of freezable meals online from up to 18 choices or so, then book the time you want to head in and assemble them. Choices this month include Cider Braised Chops, Toasted Pecan...

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The League of Extraordinary Nannies

I promise Sean Connery isn’t involved in this elite nanny placement service we just discovered. So that’s one point in its favor, right? There are a few more too, especially if you’re looking for extensively screened, college educated nannies who have a list of qualifications a league long. The Nanny League is pretty incredible in fact, in terms of screening and tracking down fantastic candidates. We’re talking CPR training, good swimmers, non-smokers, confidentiality agreements, and signing a no-cell-while-driving guarantee, not to mention background checks, drug tests, and reference reviews. There is no placement fee, but The Nanny League is...

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For some of us, 30 minute meals take about 20 minutes too long

I really do like to cook, but I also like to keep my meals simple. Especially since my family eats like a pack of wolves and the meal that took me an hour to make is gone in about 8 minutes. So I’ve decided that, at least a few times a week, I’m going onto Funny Spoon and making one of their super simple, ridiculously quick and tasty recipes. And I don’t have to run to the store to buy ingredients I’ve never heard of. For instance, no matter how easy everyone tells me it is to make regular...

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Custom Sigg bottles at Cafe Press. Copyright: You.

Remember when CafePress first launched? They offered what seemed to me like a whole lot of not much, onto which you could have imprinted your website logo or your dog’s photo. Because you know, everyone needs a dog photo lucite key chain. But there’s so much more now. First off, you can design your own SIGG bottles now, and right in time for back-to-school season. Indeed Sigg reusable water bottles had issues last year when their older bottles were recalled due to BPA concerns with the liners–and these aren’t those. For those of you still in the market for...

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Picky people holla! Then go cook with Yummly.

Although it makes my southern grandmother fan herself and say, Lawsy, I’m not much of a cook. When I do need a recipe, I hop on the internet and zap from recipe site to recipe site, trying to find just the right one. Oh, and it has to be dairy-free and be utterly devoid of capers, raisins, warm apples, or tuna.. But there’s a new site in town, and  it’s made just for picky people like me. Yummly is basically a match.com for recipes, meets food website search engine, with a little Yelp thrown in for fun. Here’s the...

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Tastebudding helps make mealtime my favorite time

Some like Epicurious, some prefer FoodNetwork.com. But me, I tend to head straight to Chef Google when I need help finding a specific recipe, even though it takes a decent amount of time to nail down something that’s quick, simple, and kid-friendly. But then I stumbled upon the new, fabulous recipe site Tastebudding and it’s completely changed my life–and my dinner table. The brainchild of parents Jon and Sharon Yeatman, this smart, well-organized website allows you to search for healthy recipes with only fresh, natural ingredients that are great for the whole family. Similar to many recipe sharing sites...

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Paperless Post gets thank you notes. Emily Post rejoices.

The thought of sending a note card via the internet would generally make my inner Emily Post faint, but after seeing the gorgeous new paperless thank you cards, from CMP fave Paperless Post, I think I can hear her applauding. Just as lovely as a real, life paper note or thank you card, the new beauties from Paperless Post are devoid of nothing but the actual paper. Well, and the gas used to power the planes, trains, and mail trucks. But who’s keeping track? However, what you do get is the thoughtfulness of a carefully chosen and pretty darn...

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There’s still time to wow Mom

Mother’s Day is creeping ever so close, and dads, you may have remembered to order flowers for your mom, but did you remember to do something awesome for the mother of your kids? (Sorry, dudes. That’s your responsibility, too.) Don’t panic! There’s still time to go create the perfect Mother’s Day video to show her how much you love her, over at Animoto. You choose the template, then upload your photos and choose what song the 30-second homage is set to use. Animoto takes care of the rest–the animation, the special effects, the complete wow factor. It’s easy, it’s...

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Not your mama’s flowers

Saying you love me with flowers is great, but on Mother’s Day, please don’t get me a smiling kitten n’ rainbow mug full of carnations and daisies. I’d much rather have a bed of bamboo accented by one gorgeous orchid, or maybe some sparkling glass bowls full of peonies. Please. The floral arrangements from Floral Art LA in the hip Abbot Kinney stretch of Venice really strike a chord with me, and that chord is Wow, I wish flowers never, ever died, because I want to look at this every day of my life. They offer classic and modern...

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For when a scribble is a heck of a lot more than just a scribble

If you’re anything like I am, you’ve probably got a lot of your kids’ precious artwork boxed up and you’re saving it for, well, who knows what. (Actually, if you’re really like me, then your kids’ glitter-encrusted volcano drawings and purple squiggle “princesses” are scattered about your house in random piles just waiting for a more organized person to move in and do something with it, but that’s another story.) Now that I’ve found the new offerings at Me Art, I know exactly how to preserve the precious memories of my kids’ blossoming artistic abilities – by having the...

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Where’s the fun? Goby knows.

I’m a somewhat nervous traveler, but unlike most of our kind, it’s not the flying I hate. More like I need to know exactly what we’re doing when. My husband, on the other hand, is happy to just plan “camping” and “figure it out when we get there.” Ack. Thanks to goby, a new online search engine dedicated to activity planning, I can now just smile with him, agree, and then turn to my laptop. Input your location, dates, and what sort of fun you want and Goby hooks you up with all the available activities, plus links to...

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TV, now without all that annoying TV.

Remember when there were 13 channels on the television and the youngest kid in the family was the designated remote control? Kids today will never know that pain. With 600 channels, Tivo, Hulu, and Google, there’s always something on. But sometimes it’s impossible to find what you’re looking for,especially when you need Yo Gabba Gabba at that crucial moment when dinner is burning and tiny minds need distraction. Luckily, we now have Clicker, which is basically a Google for online media. Clicker catalogs more than 600,000 episodes from over 10,000 shows, 20,000 movies, and 80,000 music videos all on...

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How many perfect moms does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None, because they don’t exist.

Faster than a speeding toddler. More powerful than loaded diaper. Able to leap from playdate to playdate in a single bound. It’s Perfect Mom! Yep, that was going to be me. I was going to achieve the perfect work/life balance as a working mom, and when I became a stay-at-home mom I was going to be perfect at that. And I failed miserably, or so I thought. Then I realized, when it comes to motherhood, there’s no such thing as perfection. Life coach and mother of two, Carley Knobloch, started Perfect Moms Finish Last to help moms deal with...

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Cooking for dummies (and smarties, too)

Put down that take-out menu–I’m here to tell you that yes, you can cook a complete meal without pulling out your hair. Sure, there are a million recipe sites out there, and some of them are fantastic, but what if you want instructions on a whole meal, from what to buy to what wine goes best? Well, then you head over to NoTakeOut and start browsing. Each meal is completely laid out from what to buy at the supermarket to what kitchen tools you’ll need. Check the prep time, bake time, and even the dessert suggestion before you get...

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Like the milk man of the super hip. But peas.

If you live in Los Angeles, you’ve got some mad cash, and you want someone else to deliver organic, healthy, super-fresh baby food to your doorstep… well, I’m a little jealous, actually. And Baby’s Belly is here to serve you. The brainchild of two Hollywood actors and parents, Baby’s Belly offers twice-weekly delivery of healthy, fresh meals for babies from 6 months through toddlers. And we’re talking really fresh–the peas are actually green, and the fish needs to be spooned into your kiddo within twenty-four hours. The Belly Big Kids selections read like the menu at a gourmet restaurant,...

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Sitter City loves military families

As a former active duty Air Force now National Guard wife, I have relied heavily on my own paid Sitter City membership to help me find reliable, experienced babysitters to help save my sanity – from the long duty days to a 45-day deployment. So I can’t tell you how excited I was to find out that they’re now offering free Sitter City memberships for military families, including active, reserve, and guard courtesy of Department of Defense. Simply click over to sign up and then enjoy access to hundreds of thousands of babysitters and nannies. Score! And if you...

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Scrapbook masterpieces, no skills required

Look, we’ve discussed my SIS (Scrapbook Impairment Syndrome) in the past. I’m okay with it. There are tools available for me to do pretty things with my pictures in other ways. But if I want a genuine photos-affixed-to-beautiful-backgrounds, scrapbook binder full of hand-designed pages, now I can get it. Pixtorie lets you upload your photos and then choose from various layouts from designers like Oh Joy! to assemble the perfect “simplebook,” the smaller, more affordable version of their designer scrapbooks. Right now colors and fonts on the various pages are fixed, but I’m told greater flexibility is coming down...

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Shutterfly Photo Books + Our Readers = Ooh, Creative.

Big congrats to Linda H, whose photo book of her first family vacation–to Hawaii no less–is the winner of our sponsor Shutterfly’s photobook contest. Of course we feel like she already got the grand prize with a Hawaii vacation in the first place, but now she’ll get to preserve the memories on free photo books, cards, a calendar and more. You can check out all of the photobook contest entries on the Cool Mom Picks Shutterfly share page, but there were a few that we found so inspiring, we thought we’d give them an honorable mention here. Plus we’re...

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Shutterfly photo books – more than just baby books

Our recent learning photo book contest for our awesome sponsor Shutterfly, was one of the most fun contests we’ve ever done here. Our readers submitted so many inspiring ideas for turning the photo books into learning books, that we wanted to go back and create even more ourselves. (And actually, Liz did.) So we’re excited to be working with them again and hosting another contest, so that all of you–clearly a very creative bunch– can share your best ideas for custom photo books, especially now that the holidays are approaching. As for me, this time, I created a photo...

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Pixorial – Ushering back the return of the Betamax

Some of my favorite memories: Seeing Paris when I was 8. My senior year dance performance. Bungee jumping off a crane over the Hudson River. And they’re all saved on video tape. As in, not DVDs. And since we’ve ditched the VCR, there’s not much chance to relive the memories or torture my friends with them when they visit. Pixorial is the kind of service you need if you’ve got an old skool media library – they’ll convert your VCR tapes to DVD – and also 8 mm or Hi8 or, yes, Betamax video cassettes – and film too...

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The Sisterhood of the Magical Pants, aka brilliant maternity jeans

Sure, you can spend hundreds of dollars to get maternity jeans from hip labels, but the cost is exorbitant and you end up wearing them for just a few months. (Or, hopefully just a few months.) I know there are more options around now than the ones with the panels that went up to my bra strap when I was pregnant, but still. Most maternity jeans do not make the wearer feel particularly hot. What if you could take your everyday, pre-pregnancy fave jeans and turn them into maternity jeans… and then turn them back into regular jeans, later?...

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Consider it an app for free fries

Yeah, sometimes we want to hit our favorite restaurant and the kids can nibble off our plates or make do with — gasp! — adult food, but other times we’re faced with the realities of a tight budget and wanting to keep the peace. With Kids Eat For loaded up on your iPhone, a quick scan will show you the restaurant deals in your area for when you’ve got kids in tow. And because Kids Eat For is user-driven, you can both add your own finds and update entries that are no longer valid or whose details have changed....

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Jade’s ToyBox delivers boxes of pure happiness

Jade’s Toy Box no longer exists I’m starting to think that group gifts are the way to go. Chip in with a bunch of other folks, and get someone one seriously awesome something-or-other that they’ll really appreciate. And I think that’s what Jade’s ToyBox was thinking too, when they created some of the most phenomenal gift boxes for kids that I’ve ever seen. You can browse by age (baby, toddler or preschooler) and then pick from among clever themes like The Moodie Foodie which is all about kitchen play and Are We There Yet which is packed with items...

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The end to “reply all?” It’s a miracle!

My kids have been back to school for a few weeks already, and my inbox runneth over. I need more volunteers for the coupon drive, says the coordinator. This is quickly followed by a bevy of reply-alls which are making me crazy, so I can only imagine the poor coordinator is already drinking heavily. If only we were using VolunteerSpot, a free online volunteer scheduling tool, everyone would know exactly what was needed when, without reply-all-ing the entire school. The coordinator simply hops online, creates the necessary schedule of needs (slotting both people to participate and items for drop-off),...

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Swapping it forward with Swap Mamas

I used to do the consignment thing with my kids’ outgrown clothes, but I’ve just not found a store in our new locale that has enough stuff I want to buy to make it worth my while to sell there. And I admit that dropping bags anonymously at Goodwill can be hard when they contain something my kids really loved. Swap Mamas is the social media answer to a consignment shop – a way to send your gently used items to a new home, and find the items you need yourself all while connecting with like-minded parents. It’s like...

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Covet turns your laptop into your personal stylist

I have a dream: I want someone to go into my closet, take a look at what I have, and then tell me what else I need. And of course, I want suggestions that work with what I’m already wearing, and that are cool and fun, and maybe, just maybe, are on sale. Can you imagine? Well, now you can: Covet does just that for you. This new personal shopping website uses a quick photo quiz to determine your style; you choose which celebrity look is closest to your look. (I found myself choosing a lot of Lindsay Lohan,...

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What to do if you forgot to get a Mother’s Day gift

1) Make a donation in her name to a an organization like Global Giving which will send an e-mail confirmation right away. 2) Send this aweeeesome custom Mother’s Day video courtesy of Moms Rising. Seriously, you totally have to do this whether or not you forgot a gift. And it’s free. 3) Print out your favorite photos of the kids and paste them into a greeting card. Kodak Gallery lets you pick up your pics same-day at your local CVS or Target. Have the kids color in the rest. 4) Overpay for roses. Believe it or not, 1-800-FLOWERS offers...

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