To Post or Not to Post: The Etiquette of Sharing Kid Photos Online

By Kristin Appenbrink / 04.16.14

Sharing photos of your kids online is a touchy subject. I’m guessing most parents out there have an opinion one way or the other. While I don’t have kids, I do have friends with kids. And I always make sure I know how they feel about photos of their kids being posted. For example, the mom of one of my favorite toddlers posts photos of her son, but only to her private Instagram account. This means that I don’t post photos of him because my account is public, unless I’ve been given permission for a specific photo.


Whatever you as a parent decide—that it’s okay to post on a private Instagram, but never on Facebook or Twitter or that you’re fine with photos being shared, but never tagged, communicate your decision and your reason to your family and friends. As with most etiquette questions, being direct and honest is the best policy, and you’ll find that most people will comply with your request not to share photos.


Photo faux pas are most likely to occur at birthday parties or school events—times when you might not know the adults involved very well. If you are the host of an event, take the extra time to send an email to the parents after the invite has gone out asking whether or not they are comfortable with photos from the event being posted. Be sure to tell them where you plan to share them—Facebook, Instagram, your blog, etc. This way you’ll avoid uncomfortable emails after the fact. If you’re a guest to an event and especially sensitive about your child’s photos being shared, be sure to email the host in advance as well.


If you do find a photo of your child shared (and tagged!) on social media, the best bet is to simply email the person who posted it and request the photo be removed. If you’re okay with the photo being online, but don’t want it tagged, request that in the email. Most everyone will remove or untag the photos, based on your request. But if you encounter some resistance, explain your reasoning that will help them understand why it’s important to you.


The bottom line: When in doubt wait to post. Send an email asking for permission from the parents, and if you get the okay, share the photo. That’s what the #latergram tag was made for, after all.

What’s your rule about sharing photos of your kids online? Tell me in the comments!


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Dinners Kids Love: BBQ Chicken Pizza Pockets

By Bree Hester / 04.14.14


I need to be honest – I love cooking for my family, but not always a huge fan of cooking dinner every night. If your family is anything like my family, then you have a lot going on. School, sports, after school activities, work, all kinds of things that fill up the spaces on our calendars. It can seem like the only way to feed them dinner is to grab something from a drive thru or get take out.

While convenient, these are not the healthiest options. It is a priority for me to feed my family foods that they will eat and that I feel good about feeding them. Instead of having to rely on delivery, I have come up with a few ways to get a healthy dinner on the table every night of the week.


1. I don’t always meal plan, but I always have a plan. What does that even mean? Well, I have a rough idea of what we are going to eat throughout the week, but I am not tied to it. I take inventory in the beginning of the week of what is in my fridge and freezer and plan around that. I fill in as needed, and make changes according to what is going on during the week.

2. I take some time (when I have the time) to get ahead. I like to take an hour or two on the weekend to get organized and prep what I can. I clean the produce, cut chicken into cubes if I am making a stir-fry or pasta dish, cook some brown rice and get ready for the coming week.

3. If I roast one chicken, I always roast two. It is the same exact amount of work, and I get two meals out of it. I will serve a roast chicken one night and then make an entirely different dinner with the other chicken. I do this with as many things that I can. Roast vegetables, turkey breast, meatballs, anything that can be made more than one way. It saves a ton of time.

4. Rethink the idea of dinner. A simple turkey sandwich with some fruit can be a really healthy dinner. A bowl of oatmeal. Toast with avocado and sea salt. Dinner doesn’t have to be elaborate or involved to be called dinner.

5. Keep a few things in the freezer for emergencies (AKA any random Wednesday night). I like to keep some soup, a baked pasta dish, or pizza pockets in the freezer so that I can pull it out, bake it off, and serve dinner with minimal effort on my part.


My BBQ Chicken Pizza Pockets are ideal for a busy weeknight. I throw some whole wheat pizza dough ingredients into my bread maker and it does all of the work for me.  I almost always double this, and eat one the day that I make it, and freeze the other half. I shred some chicken, toss in a few extra ingredients and seal them. After baking, cool the pockets completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then add to a plastic freezer bag. When ready to reheat, either thaw in the fridge in the morning and bake as directed, or bake from frozen adding additional bake time.


This recipe is a springboard, you can fill them with anything you like. A great way to use leftovers, or produce that has seen better days.



BBQ Chicken Pizza Pockets

1 whole wheat pizza dough ball (my favorite recipe below) or 2 lbs. Store bought dough
1 cup your favorite BBQ sauce
2 cups shredded chicken breast
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup sliced green onion
1/4 cup cilantro
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1. Divide the pizza dough into six pieces. Roll out on a floured board.

2. Mix the BBQ sauce and shredded chicken until combined.

3. Add chicken, red pepper, green onion, and cilantro to one half of the pizza dough. Top with cheese.

4. Lay the top half of the dough over and press shut. Twist the dough or press with a fork to create a tight seal.

5. Add the pizza pockets to a foil or parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with extra shredded cheese if you like. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.



Bread Machine Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

1 1/3 cup water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 Tablespoons vital wheat gluten*
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon active dry yeast

Add the ingredients in the order listed to a bread machine. Run on the dough cycle.

*Wheat gluten is used to add stretch to the dough that whole wheat flour does not have. *




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Lunches for Kids: Homemade Energy Bars

By Bree Hester / 04.09.14 / 1 comment


Making interesting lunches that my kids will eat is always a challenge. Add in the healthy factor that I am after, and it can be next to impossible. Lunch is a very important meal; they have used a lot of brain power and need nourishment to finish the day out strong.

When I am packing lunch, I am thinking about how much nutrition can get in a lunchbox and will they even eat it? Most of the time, they will. My kids are really hungry by the time they head to the cafeteria. If the lunch that I send is fun, and not the same thing day after day, chances are good that an empty lunchbox will be making its way back home.

1. Pack lunch (as much as you can anyway) the night before. If I am rushing out the door and I haven’t packed lunch, I will probably throw the first three things that I see in a bag and call it lunch. It will be uninspired and probably not that healthy. When I pack lunch the night before, it is one less thing that I have to do in the morning.

2. Lunch doesn’t have to be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Last night’s dinner can be lunch today. Make a little extra at dinner time and repurpose it for the lunchbox. An extra chicken breast can be added to a bun, or tossed into a salad.

3. Rethink lunch foods. My kids love crudités in their lunch boxes. When I am prepping dinner, I slice some extra peppers, carrots, cucumbers, and add some dip and olives. Hummus and pita. French toast sticks and some yogurt for dipping. Cheese and crackers.


4. Nowadays, there are so many cute ways to pack a lunch. Bento boxes, containers, dishes, and thermos’ make adding variety so much easier. When you are not worrying about leaking containers, you are more prone to send soup to school. It makes lunch easy to pack, easy to clean, and fun to eat. I cleared out a cabinet in my kitchen just for lunches, it makes packing so much easier. PPress_EnergyBars_3

5. I try to send homemade snacks whenever I can. I try to avoid packages. It is better for the kids and better for the environment. I usually make one treat for the week. Maybe a batch of oatmeal cookies, pudding, granola or energy bars. After I bake them, I wrap them up and have them ready to go. Same with pudding; I have cute little containers and I portion it out and pull from the fridge as needed.  Just don’t forget to send a spoon. These energy bars are so simple, and only take minutes to put together. This combination is my favorite, but you can add and take away ingredients as needed. Just keep the proportions the same. To make more of a granola bar add a cup of rice cereal to the mix.


Homemade Energy Bars

1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup peanut butter 1 teaspoon vanilla


1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup almonds

These energy bars are so simple, and only take minutes to put together. This combination is my favorite, but you can add and take away ingredients as needed. Just keep the proportions the same. To make more of a granola bar add a cup of rice cereal to the mix. PPress_EnergyBars_5

1. Line a 9-inch square pan with two pieces of parchment paper, one each direction.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together oats, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, chia seeds, cinnamon and salt. Toss to combine.

3. Add brown rice syrup and peanut butter to microwaveable bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, or until the peanut butter begins to melt. Whisk until smooth. Add vanilla.

4. Pour over the oat mixture and stir until completely combined.

5. Press into the prepared pan. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before cutting lifting the paper out of the pan. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut into small bars. 6. Wrap the bars in plastic wrap or parchment. They keep in an airtight container for one week and in the freezer for one month.



  1. Posted by Kayla on 04.09.14 at 4:16 pm

    Love this post! I have the biggest problem trying to figure out lunch for my toddler. Where did you get the plastic containers and the little giraffe forks!?

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5 High Impact Afternoon Painting Projects

By Kim Vargo / 04.07.14

It’s no secret that you can dramatically change the look and feel of an entire room with a can (or two) of paint, a roller and your bare walls. But what about a quick painting project that’ll conquer your craving for change without needing to cover your sofa in a drop cloth? Throw on your DIY tee; here’s a round up of painting projects that’ll give your home a high impact punch with minimal effort – dare I say, projects you can complete in an afternoon? Let’s welcome spring with a fresh dose of color, the simplified way.


ONE: Refine your gallery wall.

I’m what they would call a bona fide frame hoarder. I have many, and I don’t discriminate, whether they’re store bought, thrifted or saved from the dumpster. Much like many others right now, I love a good gallery wall, and to do so, I also love that I can pick through my many frames to get the look I like – and a can of quality spray is all I need to keep my art looking polished. Below, I mixed and matched salvaged frames for my old home’s studio, using white spray paint on a few of them to keep the overall look collected yet cohesive. (Bonus: Makeover an ornate thrifted mirror with a spray coat of a vibrant color. Hang in your entryway where you can’t miss it, and smile!)


TWO: Add color to the inside of your closet.

We’ve been told by friends and readers that they admire our fearless approach to color. “I wouldn’t have the guts,” we hear. Then may I suggest a splash of color where you’d least expect it – and in a place that won’t smack you in the face? We painted our coat closet interior a fun minty green (Clark + Kensington’s Bow Island), and our houseguests have been enjoying a good laugh with every swing of the door. Us, too.


THREE: Highlight a piece of furniture.

We took a sad thrifted end table and gave it a whole new look by simply painting only the edge (below). The thin strip of saturated color was all it needed to make it a knock out piece for the living room! Other accents to paint? Try painting just the legs, just the top or using a small paintbrush to highlight intricate details in a more ornate piece of furniture.


FOUR: Change the finish on a less-than-stellar light fixture.

Next time you pass up that gaudy gold chandelier at your favorite store, think again. A couple quick coats of spray paint will transform any fixture and create a cheery focal point for any room! (Tip: If you’re ever unsure on a paint color or finish, I suggest living with your new find for a few days until the inspiration strikes.)


Photo: Pretty Handy Girl

FIVE: Try a new color on your front door.

This one is certainly tried and true, but for good reason! Starting in the morning, apply a quality adhesion promotor and follow that up with your first coat of an exterior-grade paint color (I encourage you to go outside your comfort zone). By lunchtime, you’ll be ready for coat two, and by the evening, the paint will be dry enough to close your door for the night. Looking to really make a statement – inside and out? Wrap your new color around to your door’s interior, too!


Photos: Hiya Papaya

Transforming the items in and around your home with paint are limitless, this we know. (If you’re the gutsy kind, how about your ceiling?) Feeling intimidated by the change? As my husband Scott would say, “if you don’t like it, you can always paint it back. It’s just paint!” Have fun, explore and go for it!

How have you used paint to breathe new life into your home lately?


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Wedding Thank You Notes 101

By Kristin Appenbrink / 04.02.14


It’s finally spring, and you know what that means—it’s wedding season. If you’re part of a happy couple tying the knot this year, you have a lot of planning and organizing on your plate. And once the big day and the honeymoon are over, there’s one last task to wrap up the wedding celebration: sending out the thank you notes.

Even if you don’t regularly send thank you notes (I’m hoping that’s only a small percentage of you!), post-wedding is one of the times in your life to really step up your game. So, let’s go over the basics to make the daunting task easier.


The Cards

First things first, order them early, preferably when you order your invitations. That way you’ll have them on hand for any gifts that come in early or for vendors who go above and beyond for you as you’re planning your wedding. The cards themselves can match your invitations, but they don’t have to. Feel free to go with something completely different, if you want to use them post-wedding as well. I love the idea of using a photo card for your thank yous with a photo from your wedding, but if it causes delays sending them out, it’s best to go with a non-photo option or use an engagement photo instead.

What to Write

Wedding thank you notes follow the same formula as traditional thank yous. In addition to your thanks, point out an aspect of the gift you particularly love, what you will use it for, or where you will place the gift in your home. For a gift that isn’t your style that you plan to return, focus on the thoughtfulness of the gift. No need to gush about something that you aren’t in love with, complimenting someone’s generosity works just as well.


When it comes to monetary gifts, share with your guest how you intend to use it. If you plan to use the funds you received toward a down payment on a house or to take an international trip on your first anniversary, your guests will love knowing that they helped contribute. Whether or not you mention the amount is up to you, but it’s just as easy to say “Thank you for your generous gift. It will help us put a down payment on our first home this year.”

Who to Send to

A wedding gift isn’t the only gesture that warrants a thank you note after your big day. In the weeks leading up to your wedding, make note of anyone one who has helped out or gone above and beyond for you. Whether these are vendors, family friends who aren’t attending, or co-workers, it’s important to acknowledge your appreciation of their help and support.

Now, for the tough question: Do you send a note to a guest who didn’t get you a gift? The answer is yes. It’s important to thank your guests for being there to celebrate with you. More often than not, your thank you note will prompt them to send a belated gift, since they technically have a full year to send it.


Timing & Other Details

You’re given a bit of an etiquette free pass after your wedding, so you can send out your notes gradually. Aim to have them written and mailed by three months after the wedding. That might seem daunting depending on the size of your guest list, but try tackling them a little bit at a time. And unlike in days past, both newlyweds should write and sign the notes.

And go ahead and mail them as you get them written. There’s no need for everyone to receive your thank you at the same time. If you have gifts that arrive before the wedding, go ahead and write the note but leave it unsealed. Once you’re back from your honeymoon, you can quickly check those notes, add any details from the wedding, and pop them in the mail.



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