Monday, December 29, 2014

My Five Best Travel Tips for Families

Taking a trip with the kids? While I have no tips on making them be perfectly behaved on the airplane flight, or adventurous diners in new locales, I do have a few travel tips from our family trips:

1. Pack Downey Wrinkle Releaser. This stuff actually works, and is great to de-wrinkle clothes after they've been packed in your suitcase. You can get Downey Wrinkle Releaser in three sizes, including one that's small and perfect for travel. It also helps eliminate odors which is a feature that can come in handy on a trip, too.

2. Bring something fun for the kids to play with that's new to them. Even if your kids usually pass the time while traveling with screens and books, it's always fun to bring along something unexpected to capture their amusement for awhile. A friend told me about surprise balls, and they are the perfect addition to a trip. Surprise balls are filled with trinkets and candy, and kids have to peel away the layers of streamers to reveal the treats. My kids, ages 5 to 11, loved unwrapping their surprise balls. We got our from Reveries & Fancies on Etsy, and they were perfect ($8 - $18 depending on size, lots of fun designs available).

Another great pick for a travel to is the Tegu Pocket Pouch Prism ($25), which is a set of six magnetic blocks with a carrying case that is just the right size for on-the-go fun and is good for all ages.

3. Make sure your kids carry a bag. Depending on their age, this may be more for their own amusement, but as they get older you'l find that even a small bag shouldered by a kid is one less bag being shouldered by you. There are so many cute options for kids from backpacks to tiny duffel bags, to rolling suitcases. One innovative option is Trunki ($40) which is a ride on suitcase made just for kids.

4. Make sure you can find your stuff. Tie a ribbon on the suitcase handle, add a stripe of colorful Duck Tape to the side of the bag, but nothing is worse than arriving at your destination and having to hunt for your luggage. I love these whimsical luggage tags from Miamica ($5).

5. Look for discounts on museums and other attractions ahead of time. I had no idea there were so many deals if you buy tickets before you go, not to mention that a ticket in hand often means you can avoid entrance lines. CityPASS is a great deal, offering significant discounts when you purchase a book with entrance to multiple places within a single city. You can buy CityPASS online for various cities including Manhattan, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta and Philadelphia. The price and number of attractions varies in each city, but all offer big savings as well as the ability to bypass most lines.

I received a free sample of Downey Wrinkle Releaser and a Manhattan CityPASS. All other items our personal picks from years of traveling with my kids.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

How the Sony Hack Changed My (Email) Life

Before the giant hack of Sony employees' email, which made thousands of personal emails open for public consumption (and enjoyment), I never thought of anyone besides the intended recipient reading my email.

Now, I'm completely re-thinking my correspondence. Even a simple email to my husband requires second-guessing. For instance, this morning I needed to remind him to call and make sure someone was coming to fix the heat before the arctic chill predicted for next week got here.

Usually, I would write this email:

Hey asshole,
Can you finally call someone to fix the fucking heat in the basement today? Like actually today, not tomorrow. Seriously, it's only sorta cold right now but it's going to be way too cold next week and I'm going to tell the kids it's all your fault and it's because daddy doesn't love them AT ALL so make the goddamn call.  
Also I need you to call the dry cleaner, because I was just looking and there's still a stain on my shirt. So annoying. How can you send something to be dry cleaned and it still comes back dirty? So pissed, does no one do a good job at anything anymore? We should find a new dry cleaner. I would call myself, but that is going to be a totally awkward conversation because her English isn't that good, and as you know you're way better at that kind of thing. So call today.


But since the hack, I can't write that email! Because who knows who might read it and judge me:
1. For calling my husband an asshole, and
2. For being an entitled housewife complaining about the heat not working in the basement and about the dry cleaning not being right.

I sound like a horrendous person!

In addition to the prying eyes of the general public, what about my husband's boss? Is he going to get in trouble for doing personal things at work? I can't risk that!

So I am forced to revise the email, in case it is ever leaked, and write this:
Hey honey,
I love you! Hope you are having a great day at work! Is it okay that I'm emailing you there? I know you have rules about personal emails and I want to stay safely within those parameters.  
Quick question, do you think we should fix the heat in the basement? Totally up to you, whatever you think is best. The kids were just asking me about it and I was like, sure it's going to be fixed, but then one of them was asking if it wasn't fixed because you didn't love them, and I was like of course not! But then I worried they might think that, so just wanted to let you know in case you thought maybe we should get the heat fixed. Up to you, totally. I am great either way! I know we are beyond blessed to have heat in the rest of the house, and I am so grateful for that. And for you!
Also, if you had just like a tiny, quick second to call the dry cleaner during your lunch break I would really appreciate it. There's a small stain on my shirt, and given you and Mrs. Kwong's rapport I thought she might be more receptive to my request to have her take a second look at the shirt f it came from you. Even if she can't fix the stain, they are the best dry cleaners in town! So lucky to have them!
Thanks so much, love you tons and tons! 

And then, right as I'm about to finally push send, I think to myself, is it really enough to have re-written my email so that I appear to be a decent human being to the outside world, and so that my husband looks like a model employee? Is that all I need to do? Don't I also want to come across a a good writer? As someone possessing both a sense of humor and wisdom beyond my years, yet totally chill and relaxed?

Don't answer that: of course I do.

So I edit the email again:
What's up? It's getting like penguin-friendly down in the basement, and I don't know if you have a Mr. Popper thing going on purposely or not, but if not, maybe we should get the heat fixed? Or just get some penguins? LOL the kids would love that! (j/k)
Also, crazy story, but right after viewing nature's spectacular light show which was this morning's sunrise, I motored back from my jaunt into town to pick-up the dry cleaning, and I totes noticed a stain on my shirt. I'm pretty sure Mrs. Kwong left it there purposely as a commentary on modern life and its imperfections, but thought maybe we should check with her and make sure that was her intention. As you know, I'm all about living the mindful life.
Peace. xo

Argh! This person may be a better version of myself, but I don't care because I'm pretty sure the peace-and-love person who wrote that email isn't the same person who is getting the basement heat and the dry cleaning fixed by her husband. Today.

So I sent this email:
Calling you right now. Make sure you answer the phone. xo

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How to make your kid a special Hanukkah school lunch

I admit that I am one of *those* moms always making completely ridiculous over-done lunches for my kids to bring to school.

And what better occasion for a super special lunch than Hanukkah? I especially like to make my kids a lunch for the days they are at school on Hanukkah as I feel this time of year can be hard on kids who aren't celebrating Christmas. So don't worry kids, this Hanukkah lunch is totally as good as, possibly even better, than this whole Santa thing your friends keep tormenting mentioning to you!

So if you want to make an amazing school lunch for your kids on Hanukkah this year (which starts Tuesday night, December 16 and ends Wednesday, December 24), here are some ideas!

The Hanukkah lunch in a PlanetBox lunchbox:

I have a dreidel cookie cutter, which I used to cut out a dreidel shape from the sandwich and a piece of cheese, which I put on top of the dreidel bread from the sandwich.  I also added a fun Hanukkah coloring book, some gelt, and a little bag of apple crisps.

I also made a similar lunch in a traditional lunchbox, where every item was wrapped like a present, even the juice pouch. I even added a Hanukkah gift tag.

Really anything will work from adding a few decorative dreidels to throwing in a few pieces of gelt. If you have some blue and silver ribbon, add that too and your Hanukkah lunch is ready to go!

Happy Hanukkah!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Enter to win on-the-go power from myCharge!

If you're like me, the only thing more annoying than someone leaving you a voicemail is not being able to listen to that voicemail because your phone isn't charged.

Now there's a solution -- myCharge! These portable extended battery accessories are designed to make sure your devices are always fully charged and ready to go.

This holiday season myCharge is spreading the cheer - and portable power - by offering to send one of their awesome portable charging devices to anyone who follows them on Twitter (@myChargePower), who retweets this tweet from their #myChargeCheer campaign. No strings attached!

It's that easy. Just visit the @myChargePower Twitter page and retweet this tweet:
You can also win a myCharge portable battery right here! I'm giving away the RazorPlus, a rechargeable 3000 mAh battery that delivers an additional 13 hours of talk time for your smartphone. Crafted from anodized aluminum, the ultra-thin RazorPlus comes in four colors: red, pink, blue and silver.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for spreading the #myChargeCheer this holiday season!

PS Buy a portable charger at and use the code JOLLY for 25% off your purchase.

This post is sponsored by myCharge, but all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Craft Failing...Online *and* in Print!

It's a double craft fail day here at Random Handprints!

First, my advent calendar gone wrong was featured on Monday on! Check it out in all its imperfect glory in Unattractive Advent Calendar Adventure.

Also, just when you thought my craft failing couldn't get any better (or would that be worse?) I'm featured in the newly released Craft Fail book! Check out CraftFail: When Homemade Goes Horribly Wrong.

It's nice to know I'm not the only one who has crafts that don't turn out exactly as planned.

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