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Creative Birthday Cake Ideas

04.20.16

Whether it's a birthday soiree or special day celebration, the star of any party has got to be the cake. Oh, those glorious layers of sweet confection. We recently posted a creative cake idea -a tie-dye surprise cake - on our Facebook pages and judging by the number of likes, comments and shares, you're into the creative birthday cake ideas too.

So, we've gone out and combed the web, drooled, and swooned over some really amazing cakes to put together this list of party-worthy cake ideas.

DIY Rainbow Petal Cake

What does it take to make a Rainbow Petal cake? Some zip-closed plastic bags and a spoon. BOOM! Okay, it may not be all that easy but reading this post on TheCakeBlog that features step-by-step instructions on how to make one from Kate Wagner has us thinking this just might be doable.

DIY rainbow petal cake by Kate Wagner for The Cake Blog

Photo Credit: TheCakeBlog

Hint for Dads:this could really blow mom's socks off as a Mother's Day cake!

Cookie Monster Cake

Hold on to your hat Cookie because this cake will blow your monster mind. Confessions of a Cookbook Queen takes cake over the top with cookies as the theme, decoration and even the surprise filling. Like the rainbow cake above this one doesn't look as though it would be too complicated. With our favorite chocolate sandwich cookies, chocolate chip cookies and cookie dough inside, this cake will certainly be the star of the party.

cookie monster cake by confessions of a cookbook queen

Photo Credit: Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

C is for COOL COOKIE CAKE!

Over The Moon

Rocket their next party over the moon with this one. As far as simplicity goes making this cake isn't rocket science. It is however, super cool. Hosting a space-themed birthday party? This is your cake and All For The Boys has even more out-of-this-world ideas for that bash. We're thinking some of those ideas would even be great for a class party or a STEM/STEAM club celebration.

moon landing cake by all for the boys

Photo Credit: All for the Boys

Beautiful Inside & Out

Pretty in pink this rose and ombre cake by BS in The Kitchen is almost to lovely to eat... almost. The recipe and technique are both approachable enough that you don't necessarily need to be a cake wizard or the next contestant on the Food Network.

Once you've gotten the hang of whipping those roses out and mixing just the right about of coloring into the cake you could do all sorts of things with this one. We're seeing beach themes here.

rose and ombre cake by BS in the Kitchen

Photo Credit: BS in The Kitchen

Easy as Pie (or Donuts)

As much as we love cakes (making and eating them) sometimes you just want to avoid the whole baking thing all together. Lucky for us there are lots of folks out there that get up early to make the donuts.

This donut "cake" comes from and adorable children's book themed baby shower by Pizzazzrie

Photo Credit: Pizzazzerie

Stacking up your favorite fried dough confections on a lovely plate and calling it cake. How brilliant is that? This one will be a really crowd pleaser for sure. Take it into the Teacher's lounge as a sweet reminder of how much you appreciate them. Wake the birthday kid up and serve them "cake" for breakfast. Gather the gal pals for book club and carbs. Since you don't really have to cook anything the options are endless.

Or, you could totally toss flour all over your clothes and clamed you made it from scratch.

Seen some great cakes out there? Made a few yourself? Let us know. We'd love to add to this list!

Filed under Just For Fun

Tags: parties, birthdays, roundups

CertifiKid Field Report: Cardpool

02.12.16

Gift cards, we all get them and buy them. What’s not to love? You don’t have to rack your brain trying to figure out what someone else might want, just give them a gift card and let them go get it. What happens when you find yourself the owner of a gift card for a store you’ll never set foot (or cursor) in? Team CertifiKid’s Barbara sets out to answer this question for us.


Barbara: “Use Cardpool.” (drops mic, exits stage left)


Us: “Um, Cardpool? What’s that, Barbara? Do tell.”


Barbara: “Okay, put simply it’s the best thing since… well… gift cards.”


CertifKid Field Notes: Barbara on Cardpool


I got some gift cards during the holidays. Most of them were awesome, the perfect gift. A few were for places where I don’t shop. Though the sentiment was wonderful, the thought of that money just wasting away wasn’t. That’s where Cardpool’s selling feature comes in.


I can sell those cards through them. No, I won’t be getting the full value, but Cardpool does cover most of it. And since I wasn’t going to use them anyway, it’s not like I’d be losing much.


Selling on Cardpool will be newer to me. Typically I use Cardpool for buying gift cards. You can’t beat instantly saving money on gift cards - it is like free money.  Talk about a no-brainer!


Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Target … oh, my! I buy those all the time. When I add coupons in the store to gift cards I’ve purchased at a discount through Cardpool, the savings really add up.


The service is really easy to use. It has to be because I don’t have time to figure out some complicated system. There is too much I have to get done in my 27 hour day - moms always need more hours.  There is even a wishlist feature that emails me when a card I’ve been looking for becomes available.  


Sometimes, availability of the cards I want was really the only issue. It seems like the stores I shop at are really popular. My advice --if you want it and it’s available get it right away!

 


Tip: Like Starbucks? Buy a discounted gift card at Cardpool and load it to your Starbucks loyalty card. Earn your rewards faster and spend less money doing it. Hello FREE coffee!

Tags: certifikid field reports, review, cardpool, gift cards, shopping

CertifiKid Field Report: Circle with Disney

02.05.16

Today’s CertifiKid Field Report comes from Team Member Jennifer - mom of three (2 tweens and an 8 year old) who love their digital devices. Can Circle with Disney revolutionize the internet for this wifi family and yours? Let’s see.


I had been combing the web for what seemed like forever, in an a frantic search for apps and devices to help manage our family's internet content and screen time. Nothing seemed to fit the bill. Then I found Circle with Disney.


On paper it looked like everything I wanted...and more. Circle arrived in the mail on a Saturday morning in a small Tiffany Blue box. Inside was the magic that would change everything. One click on the app was all it took. Within seconds a cacophony of howls floated down the stairs.


“Maaaa! What did you to do the wifi?! Stop it. This isn’t fair!”   


That one click let me pause the internet, getting the attention of my whole family. Oh, the power! From there my husband was onboard and couldn’t wait to see what else this amazing little contraption could do.

 

(Circle with Disney device in Jennifer's home. Takes up almost no space and blends right in.)


Great Things Come in Small Packages (with easy instructions)


What’s more disheartening than getting a new gadget and finding out you’re going to need adapters, special batteries and a team of tech nerds to help you figure out how to work it? Take heart, Circle with Disney is up and running in three easy steps;

  • Open the box

  • Plug it in

  • Download the app

BOOM! The magic starts automatically as Circle with Disney identifies every wifi enabled device in your house. I was shocked at how many things in our home use wifi that I had forgotten about.


Make the Internet Personal (in a snap)


Every kid is different, I know mine are. I loved that within the app I could set up separate profiles for each of my kids, and the grownups too. The color coded system that Circle with Disney uses makes it a snap to set up accounts that work for each of us.


The filters work great. From my youngest’s iPad, I searched, Dick’s Sporting Goods. On the Circle-free web a search like that would have brought up all sorts of things I didn’t want my child to click on. With this power-packed tool the only search result I got was the actual Dick’s Sporting Goods website.


It’s tough to know exactly where your kids are going online and how much time they’re spending there without hovering over them constantly - as they say… ain’t nobody got time for that! Circle with Disney sends a report to the app that tells me what digital platforms my kids are visiting and how much time they’re spending there.


Were they on NatGeo researching dinosaurs for next month’s science project or watching MineCraft modding videos on YouTube? Who knows? You do, because Circle with Disney tells you. This feature is going to be a huge hit with teen parents, I know it!

 


No More Arguing (well, at least about screen time)


Family dinner has always been a big deal at our house. Getting the kids to the table on time is a big deal to me… not them. Pausing the web gets their attention faster than my coaxing and demanding ever did! Dinner’s ready, the wifi is off.


Do you struggle with getting your kids to get off WiFi, put away their Kindle, and get to bed? Yeah, me too. Circle with Disney solves that problem too. Each device can have a set WiFi Bedtime.  When it's time for bed, the WiFi turns off for the night. Love that!


Being able to set usage limits and times when WiFi isn't available on devices is a great tool for limiting screen time. It can also be a powerful reward system. Get your chores done, you get more time on wifi. Nailed that algebra test? You just earned unlimited screen time for one day, enjoy!


The Hiccups


I did find a few hiccups. Right now the app is only available on iOS for Apple products. Each device can only have one profile attached to it. If you share an iPad (like we do in our house) only one family member can be assigned to it. Circle with Disney only works on your in-home wifi.


That said, all of these hiccups have already been identified by the Circle with Disney team and will be ‘fixed’ shortly. An Android app is expected in early 2016, as is the ability to take your profile settings with you no matter where you’re getting your wifi.  


Beyond all the easy tech features (including a simple and easy help center website) and powerful tools that have already reimagined how my family uses the internet, I have to say that the packaging was a really nice touch. I know that doesn't seem like much but it really did help up the excitement level for me.


Thinking back on the day my Circle with Disney device arrived in that gorgeous Tiffany Blue box with a magnetic clasp, I felt like I was opening a gift. After using it, I now understand what a gift it really is.

 

~ Jennifer

Tags: Certifikid field reports, Circle with Disney, digital parenting, internet safety, tech for families

Homemade Hot Cocoa (packet-free recipe)

02.05.16

Winter has arrived. Which isn't news to our Chicago or New York CertifiKid families (burrr.) Even our Atlanta, Los Angles and Dallas folks have had their fair share of Jack Frost nipping at their noses. This morning DC and Baltimore bundled up against single digit wind chills. With all that shivering, maybe a nice cup of hot cocoa is in order.

Before you break out that packet of powdered stuff with the dehydrated mini marshmallow-like bits in it, check out this easy recipe for packet-free hot cocoa that is as indulgent as it is warming. We're sure the kids will love it, but nobody says you can't make a batch just for you... test it out first. Yeah, that's it.

Homemade Hot Cocoa

2 cups of Milk (you can use skim or low fat)
1/2 cup cream (this has to be the full-fat stuff)
1/2 cup chocolate, grated
1 tbs sugar (optional)

In a small sauce pot over medium heat cream - stopping short of boiling it. Slowly add in chocolate whisking constantly until it's all melted into the cream. Reduce heat by half. Add in milk and sugar. Bring heat back up until your cocoa is as hot as you like it.

See, easy peasy one to threesy! Top it with some of that packet powder or ground cinnamon for a flourish. Do you have a packet-free recipe for hot cocoa? Let us know. We'd love to add it to this post with all credit to you, of course.

Tags: recipes, family time

CertifiKid Field Report: Brain Training of Maryland

01.28.16

As parents we all know what it’s like to want the very best for your kids. That starts from the minute the line or plus sign shows up in the tiny test window. By the time we nudge them on their way out of the nest, we’ll have spent countless hours researching everything from car seats to college admissions. It’s what we do, we’re parents.

So what do you do when you find out your child has a learning challenge? You research. Find the best program for them. Then pour your heart and soul into helping them. That’s where today’s CertifiKid Field Report is rooted.

Team Member Jennifer shares her family’s personal experience at Brain Training of Maryland in Columbia.

My youngest was diagnosed with ADHD 2 years ago. After trying a few medications and modifications, it was clear that we needed to take another approach in helping our son with focus and attention, at school in particular. I stumbled across an ad for Brain Training of Maryland and noticed a few key buzz words we’d learned when our family started this journey: attention and focus, academic performance, athletic performance, impulsivity, social skills, executive function, coordination and balance.

It was like the ad was reading my mind. I was drawn to it, and curious as to whether it would be a fit for us.

I took my son to Brain Training of Maryland (BTofM) for an evaluation. Wow! I was impressed with the science, technology and methods that BTofM bases their program on. This wasn’t some “study skills and cross your fingers” type program.

If I’m being 100% honest, I was skeptical at first. But, I was also desperate to find something to help my child. Kate Ortman, the director of BTofM, suggested a few books for me to read (I read all 1,000 pages, at record speed) and after talking with her, asking questions about what I’d read, and learning more about the research and case studies that back this program up, I was convinced it was at least worth a try.

BTofM employs evidence-based technologies designed to enhance brain function for children and adults. They talked a lot about brain neuroplasticity – how the brain has the ability to create new neuropathways and change with the right tools. Those tools are like a workout for your mind. Who knew you could work out your brain? BTofM, that’s who.

So how do you workout your brain? With exercise. These aren’t like crunches, they’re actually fun things, like – listening to classical music with the Integrated Listening System (ILS), playing Fast FORword computer games and improving neurotiming with the Interactive Metronome.

At BTofM they use a multi-system approach to achieving results for improved focus and attention, reading and language comprehension – all areas where my son needed improvement.

I’d love to tell you that we went in for two sessions and the change happened like snapping your fingers. Like they say, though, nothing worth having ever comes easy. The results I was hoping for didn’t come right away, but I stuck with it. I took my son to sessions regularly, anywhere from 1-3 times per week. BTofM’s certified brain trainers expertly administered a trifecta of exercises and I worked with him at home – five days a week.

We stuck with it for 5 months, through the summer, before we saw significant changes. We started to see small improvements, but when the new school year came it was IMMEDIATELY clear to me that all our diligence and hard work had paid off. It was like a whole new world opened up to him and us.

I received GLOWING reports from teachers about his attention and focus in class as well as improved writing skill and handwriting. In addition, his balance and neurotiming greatly improved – he now rides a 2 wheel bike and his social skills are blossoming!

While my son’s specific diagnosis was ADHD, I learned from the staff at BTofM that Brain Training is appropriate for many other conditions and learning struggles or disabilities, like dyslexia, concussion and stroke recovery. It’s even had great results for athletes that want peak performance and everyday people hoping to flex those brain muscles.

My advice, give it a try. The staff is wonderful, you’ll have their support every step of the way.

- Jennifer (CertifiKid Team Member from Columbia - and a very proud mom)

Tags: Certifikid field reports, reviews, Brain Training

Snowzilla 2016 - Freebies and a Giveaway!

01.23.16

Thanks so much to all the CertifiKid families who played along with our CertifiKid Snowzilla fun. We loved seeing all the ADORABE that came in! Picking just five winners was hard... like really hard!

The winners are... 

This mom was hillairous - and brilliant - with her wine slushy.

GRAND PRIZE WINNER

Tiny Dinos, towering plies of snow, lots of laughs and even a dream house...

Winners of Disney on Ice and Crayola Factory Tickets

Thanks for showing us your Snowzilla fun. This giveaway is closed, but you can still have a blast with your Snowzilla signs while the snow lasts!

Download your "Survived Snowzilla 2016" FREE printables

For Kids HERE

For Grown Ups HERE

Then have fun capturing the memories and recording just how much snow Snowzilla dropped in your back yard.

Get creative with your photos and share them with us for a chance to win one of these great prizes:

  • Grand Prize - $100 in CertifiKid credit to spend on ANYTHING you want!
  • 5 Tickets to Disney on Ice 
  • 4 Tickets to Crayola Factory

We will be selecting 6 winning families on Friday, January 29, 2016. These lucky families will then be featured along with other Snowzilla photos on our Blog. All you need to do to enter is:

  • Print out your favorite Snowzilla signs (click HERE or GET FREE NOW above)
  • Fill in the blank on the sign (the little white box)
  • Take a picture of your family having a blast and holding up your sign(s) and
  • Post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #CertifiKidSnowzilla
- See more at: http://www.certifikid.com/deal/20393/preview#sthash.eYKmG6v6.dpuf

Get creative with your photos and share them with us for a chance to win one of these great prizes:

  • Grand Prize - $100 in CertifiKid credit to spend on ANYTHING you want!
  • 5 Tickets to Disney on Ice 
  • 4 Tickets to Crayola Factory

We will be selecting 5 winning families on Friday, January 29, 2016. These lucky families will then be featured along with other Snowzilla photos right here on our Blog!

All you need to do to enter is:

  • Print out your favorite Snowzilla signs 
  • Fill in the blank on the sign (the little white box)
  • Take a picture of your family having a blast and holding up your sign(s) and
  • Post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #CertifiKidSnowzilla

So stop shoveling and start snapping those photos right now!

Filed under Just For Fun

Tags: freebies, giveaways, snowzilla, family fun

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