189 Market

189 Market

1 note

DIY Project: Gumball Lollipops- The Tom Kat Studio

For this project, you’ll need:

4″ circles cut from cellophane paper

A wooden skewer

Baker’s Twine

Lollipop Sticks

Shimmer Gumballs

…and here’s what you’ll do:

{1} Push the wooden stick into the gumball…

{2} …to create a small hole.

{3} Using the pierced hole as a starting point, push the lollipop stick into the gumball. HINT: The gumballs are a bit hollow inside, so a teeny, tiny dab of melted white chocolate can help keep the lollipop stick in place!

(Source: thetomkatstudio.com)

0 notes

12 Tips for Mastering the Road Trip | Family Vacation Critic

Road trips are an American rite of passage. But the inevitable, “Are we there yet?” from the back seat doesn’thave to be a part of the scenario. Before you hit the road with your kids, consider these strategies for keeping everyone happy (including you!). 

1. Drive at Night
This will definitely help, especially if your kids are younger. I used to do this when my kids were the two-and-under set, and it made for a more peaceful experience. Keeping babies or toddlers occupied for even a couple hours at a time is never easy. “Sleeping children meant my husband and I actually had uninterrupted conversations, which in our busy life is rare, and was much appreciated,” says fellow night owl Corinne McDermott, a travel agent and founder of HaveBabyWillTravel.com , who specializes in family vacations — and who regularly pulled a late night road trip.

2. … Or Leave Bright and Early
Other parents swear by the early morning wake-up call. For longer road trips (10-plus hours), we try to leave by 4 a.m., and my husband and I enjoy a morning coffee while the kids quickly settle back to sleep in the back seat.

3. Take Care of the Driver
While happy kids are important, a safe driver is also essential. “You need to make sure the driver is rested,” says Gretchen Breuner, founder of RoadScholarz.com, who traveled around the country with her kids in an RV for several months. “I would even pull over and sleep for 10 minutes, giving me just the boost of energy I needed.” 

4. Give Up the Wingman
While having your partner in the passenger seat is nice for navigation and company, it might be better to put an adult in the back for at least part of the trip. “This will make playing games or simply chatting with the kids a lot easier,” says Jennifer Durbin, author of Baby Traveling Tips for the Clueless Chick. This is especially key when your kids are still riding in car seats that face backward in the car.

5. Don’t Overload on Electronics
Movies and apps are great, but this is the perfect opportunity to help your kids find more imaginative ways to entertain themselves. “It’s okay to leave them to their own devices and let them be bored,” says Eileen Gunn, founder of FamiliesGo.com. “When my daughter has absolutely nothing to do in the car, it’s amazing the way her imagination kicks in and she spins all kinds of imaginary scenarios for herself. I think it’s important to give them the space to come up with their own ideas, rather than constantly feed them data with DVD’s and video games.” Just use the DVD player and iPad a little more judiciously, and consider playing some classic, electronic-free games instead.

6. Get Crafty
Craft supplies are super easy to pack, and can keep kids occupied for hours. I swear by origami paper folding kits (we’ve filled the back seats with paper cranes and cats), but any kinds of crafts — from paper and crayons to beading and pipe cleaner sculptures — will work. “My girls loved making friendship bracelets, and those are so car friendly,” says Breuner. “Just use a piece of duct tape to attach it to the back of a head rest and they’re ready to go.” 

7. Spend Quality Time with the Kids
"More than anything else, kids crave their parents’ undivided attention, and being stuck in a car or plane for several hours is a good opportunity to give them a little bit of it," says Gunn. "Telling your kid about where you’re going, asking about what they liked and didn’t on the way back, letting them ask questions or express what’s on their mind can be a good way of learning about what’s going on with your child at the moment, and can also be highly entertaining."

8. Pack Healthy — and Not-So-Messy — Snacks
Skip the drive-thru restaurants and go for healthier homemade food. “I boil eggs, slice apples, bake bread and make honey-rosemary roasted pecans the night before a long trip,” says Sarah Sloboda, a frequent traveler. “It is very tempting and easy to eat poorly in transit, and this can lead to meltdowns — not just for kids, but for adults, too! Do yourself a favor and avoid the crash by eating well.”

9. Map Out Breaks
Don’t leave your rest stops to chance. Do a little research on your route and find local eateries, great roadside attractions and other spots for a good pit stop. “Find interesting places to stop for breaks, like historic sites, museums, charming towns, and also beautiful places for picnics, including state parks, lakes and waterfalls,” says Lia Batkin of In The Know Experiences, a travel consulting agency. “The important thing is that the kids burn off some energy. The more active they are outside the car, the more likely they are to fall asleep inside.” If nothing else, 20 minutes at a playground will do the trick.

10. Stop the “Are We There Yet?” Questions
The next time you get the age-old “Are we there yet?” question, simply hand over the map. “Ask him to figure out how much longer we’ll be on the road,” Batkin says. “Knowing how to read a map is a valuable life skill, so it makes me happy that he’s learning, and he’s happier that he has a job to do.”

Another tip: Use quarters. Amanda Geronikos, Family Vacation Critic’s Assistant Editor, says her mom used to hand her and her siblings rolls of quarters on long car rides. “Every time we asked that question, she’d take a quarter from us, and it was less money we’d be able to spend on souvenirs.”

11. Be Prepared for Emergencies
We’re not just talking about an emergency stash of lollipops for a sugar crash. Make sure you have a roadside emergency kit stocked with extra food, water and blankets, especially during winter travel. Tangela Walker-Craft, a mother and travel writer for Examiner.com, always brings along frozen juice boxes, which can keep other snacks cool before becoming a refreshing treat. She also carries large Zip-Loc bags, which can hold soiled clothing or serve as a toilet for a small child in an absolute emergency. Emergency numbers are also key. “Always have a list of contact numbers — pediatricians, relatives and roadside assistance — in the car,” she says. “If you print out a map and/or the written directions for long trips to have in the car, write contact numbers on the map. This information might prove invaluable, especially in the event of an accident.”

12. Spoil Your Kids a Little
Lydie Thomas splurges by giving her kids a few special treats they don’t normally get — like lunch at a fast-food restaurant or a little candy. “I let them buy one or two toys that they have been wanting for a long time, and I also let them pick a special snack. That special snack or toy can only be enjoyed after one hour of driving without complaining,” she says. “I bury my feelings about eating healthy food and getting educational toys when we are doing long trips — we are asking them to make an effort, and they should be rewarded.”

Filed under roadtrip vacation family TravelTuesday travel planning Destination travel tips

0 notes

Lemon Oreo Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream | Inside Bru Crew Life

Lemon Oreo Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Lemon cream ice cream with Lemon cookie chunks and strawberry preserves swirled in. This is a refreshing ice cream to enjoy on a hot summer day.


2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 - 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 - 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 ounces lemon juice (8 Tablespoons)
2 cups Lemon Oreo cookie chunks
1/4 cup strawberry preserves


  1. Chill your metal bowl and/or beater blades for at least 30 minutes. Beat the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form.
  2. Beat the cream cheese until creamy. Slowly add the sweetened condensed milk and beat again. Stir in the lemon juice. Fold in the whipped cream gently. Stir in the cookie chunks.
  3. Spoon a third of the mixture into a freezer safe container. Drop a few spoonfuls of strawberry preserves on top. Swirl gently with a knife. Repeat two more times, ending with strawberry swirls. Freeze until solid, about 4-6 hours. Store in the freezer in a covered container.


*The lemon juice added to the mixture will result in an ice cream that is a little bit icier. Let the container sit out on the counter for a few minutes before serving to soften it up.

Filed under ice cream foodie friday foodie dessert summer culinary lemon oreo strawberry

2 notes

Wedding Venue of the Week | The Patrick Haley Mansion - Joliet, IL

In 1889, the Mayor of Joliet, Patrick C. Haley, envisioned a "Castle on the Hill", overlooking the city. He commissioned Frank Shaver Allen, a nationally known architect and Egyptologist, to design the massive limestone structure which took two years to complete. Standing three and one half stories, with massive front and back porches, the entire structure is stately and impressive. 

Inside you will see that all of the woodwork is original Oak, Cherry and Mahogany. You will be surrounded by stained glass windows, intricate friezes, ornate adornments, and six fireplaces. 

Today, the Mansion is available for special events offering superb cuisine. Whether it be a cocktail reception, a luncheon, a plated dinner or buffet, our custom caterer will accommodate all of your unique needs. 

Whatever the occasion, you’ll want to select the Patrick C. Haley Mansion for a truly memorable event.

Rental rates :

Plated Dinners……………………………. $48 - $64
Buffets and Brunches…………………… $57
Beverage Packages…………………….. $22 - $33

Ceremony Fee……………………………. $1000

Prices subject to change. 

The Mansion offers special pricing and lower guest minimums November through April and Monday through Thursday throughout the year. 

*Check with venue for current pricing.

This venue is perfect for: Victorian, Garden, Royal, Princess, or Historic weddings.  

Filed under Wedding Planning venue Wedding venue of the week bride budget groom IL Joliet Mansion The Patrick Haley Mansion Ceremony Reception

4 notes

DIY Project: Painted Glass Birdcage Candle-holders | Little Miss Celebration

Unique, pretty candleholders and a bit of flickering light always add a special touch to any celebration or dinner. It’s easy – and inexpensive – to create your own. I’ve been so excited to share these painted glass birdcage candleholders with you! Perfect for a shower, party, birthday or dinner, these candleholders are SO pretty and make a fantastic centerpiece. We start with Dollar Store glass candleholders, darling little, metal birdcages with lids that open & close, and finish with battery-operated candles for a safe, soft glow that can go anywhere!

Here’s what we need to make the candleholders:

  • Three Glass Candleholders from the Dollar Store (I used 2 short and 1 tall candleholder)
  • Martha Stewart Multi-Surface Glass Paint in Pool and Wedding Cake
  • Three White Metal Birdcages, approximately 4 ½” high, from Michaels
  • Sheet Moss
  • 1” Satin ribbon of your choice – I used a pink/white satin gingham, from Michaels Celebrate It collection (about 18” of ribbon per candle holder)
  • Silk flowers to match ribbon – I used one stem of silk flowers from Michaels and cut them off the stem
  • Alcohol, paintbrushes, craft glue, glue suitable for glass (I use Weld-bond)
  • Three 2 ½” battery-operated candles – I found a pack of four at HomeGoods

Wash & dry glass candle holders; wipe entire surface of glass with alcohol and let dry.

Using glass paint in Pool, give each candle-holder 2-3 coats of paint. When the blue paint is dry, use the end of a paintbrush and Wedding Cake paint to put dots all around the surface of each painted candle-holder. Paint will cure in 21 days or you can speed the curing process in the oven according directions on the paint bottle.

Thread ribbon through the hold in the top of each birdcage where the ring was and tie the ribbon into a bow, trimming ends to leave a ribbon tail on each side. Using a bit of craft glue, attach a silk flower to the front and back over the hole where the ribbon was threaded.

Using glue suitable for glass, like Weld-bond, which I love because it’s non-toxic and there are no fumes, run a thin bead of glue around the top of each painted candle-holder and attach the birdcage. Let dry several hours for a secure bond. Open the top of each birdcage and place a battery-operated candle inside. Your pretty and unique candle-holders are ready for the table!

Filed under DIY diy projects birdcage candle holder candles centerpiece party event shower

0 notes

10 Money-Saving Hotel Tips | Family Vacation Critic

Taking a family vacation is never cheap, but it is possible to cut costs at your hotel, freeing up cash for fun adventures! Here are 10 ways to save on hotels for your next getaway.

1. Enroll in a Loyalty Program
Many hotel chains offer free loyalty programs with incentives like earning free rooms after multiple stays. If you travel often and stay at the same chain or one of its participating partners, you can save on future family vacations. If you’re a business traveler, enroll in these programs and consider using your free nights for a family vacation. 

But even if you aren’t a frequent traveler, becoming a member can still save you money. Often, loyalty members receive free Internet service, bottled water, newspapers, spa access and room upgrades. Discounts and special rates are also a perk, as well as early check-in and late check-out. At the Omni Hotels, where kids can receive backpacks with goodies as a part of the Omni Kids program, our free enrollment in the rewards program saved us $9.95 per day in Internet fees.

2. “Like” Your Favorite Hotels and Chains
In today’s social media age, hotels want to increase loyalty and shares with your friends and give back to those who “Like” them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, pin photos on Pintrest and more. By following the chains and brands you prefer, you’ll see special sales and deals only offered to followers of the hotel’s social media sites.

3. Stay Where Kids Stay and Eat Free
While less hotels charge for children staying in a room with their parents, there are some that do, such as all-inclusive resorts that charge per person, due to food and activity charges. Look for hotels that offer kids-stay-free incentives, especially chains like Holiday Inn, which never charges for kids sharing a room with their parents.

Free meals for kids is an even better perk. Sure, it’s a way to keep paying adults eating on the hotel premises, but when you’re traveling with a family of five and three of those meals are free three times a day, the savings really add up. (Note: Eat-free packages often require one free child per one paying adult, so large or single-parent families may have to pay for additional children.)

And don’t forget to watch for hotels providing complimentary breakfast, where the entire family can eat cold and hot breakfast items daily. Don’t be afraid to grab a couple of pieces of fruit or a muffin to take with you as a mid-morning snack.

4. Eat In
Food can be a big expenditure on a family vacation, which is why we look for hotels with in-room refrigerators and visit the local convenience store for snack items and drinks to keep the family well-stocked. Even if the hotel only offers a mini bar, you can ask to clear it out so you have an empty fridge to store the basics, like soft drinks, milk, fruit and yogurt. When you buy a six-pack of soda at the local convenience store, you’ll cut half the cost of soft drinks from the vending machines. And mini boxes of cereal and a half gallon of milk go a long way — they’ll ensure your kids will have something to eat anytime, including while you’re still in the shower. (This, in and of itself, can be a godsend if your children are anything like mine and cannot wait more than five minutes for breakfast!)

5. Book a Club Level
Many hotels, especially those with luxury name brands, offer a special Club Level where guests of the floor receive special amenities. Sure, you’ll pay extra for the room, but the extra costs may be worth it when you utilize the benefits, such as breakfast, lunch, snacks and beverages included. Whenever I’m lucky enough to stay on a Club Level with the kids, we oftentimes just utilize the lounge for all of our meals and don’t ever have to eat out at pricey city restaurants. Club Levels also typically include Internet fees, alcoholic beverages and newspapers.

6. Combine and Save
Web sites like Expedia provide discounts to vacationers who book both their airfare and hotel in one reservation. While a flight and separate hotel booking may list just one price, it will bring the total cost down when combined. 

7. Ask for a Discount
Depending on the time of year, hotels are often not able to reach full capacity. Their loss can be your gain if you ask for a discount on your room rate. If you see another less family-friendly hotel with a lower rate, ask your preferred hotel for a similar rate. If you’re traveling to a city or you don’t expect to spend much time in a hotel, consider hotels that cater mostly to business travelers — on weekends, the hotels offer steep discounts to lure more bookings.

8. Check Hotel Web Sites
Although sites like Travelocity usually show the lowest hotel prices, hotel Web sites sometimes provide even lower rates. Hotel Web sites will also list special packages and promotions, as well as discount codes and coupons. While planning a recent trip, I found the best rate for a moderate-priced hotel chain to be $150 per night when I reviewed hotel booking sites. When I visited the hotel’s website, I discovered the same room for under $100 per night. 

9. Stay Longer or Midweek
Staying midweek can cut the cost of a hotel room in half versus booking a hotel over a weekend, but how do you get to travel with the kids is you can’t stay over a weekend? Consider checking in on a Saturday and checking out Monday (if you can miss a day of school and work) over a Friday through Sunday stay and you’ll still get away for the weekend, at a lower price. Many family-friendly hotels know we like our weekend trips, and to counter it, offer special free nights if you tack on a fourth or fifth night. Look for these deals when planning a week-long getaway. (Many are listed in our Deals section.)

10. Avoid Hidden Fees
You may have secured a low rate on a room, only to be surprised at checkin (or worse, checkout) by the various additional fees you’ll need to pay nightly. Often, these extra fees come in the form of “Resort Fees,” where a hotel may charge you a flat rate to enjoy its pool and grounds, Internet, and use of the fitness center, and more. Ask at checkin if the hotel charges any additional fees on top of the room rate, and then negotiate on those fees. If you are not using the Internet and don’t have any plans to hit the gym, you may be able to get the hotel to waive some of the fees. This one is a long-shot, but it never hurts to ask!

You’ll also save money, obviously, by scouring for deals. We’ve done the work for you and found specific deals for families (rather than deals geared for two adults), and list them in our Deals section.

Filed under TravelTuesday travel planning travel family travel hotels budget destination vacation