Is your kid a huge baseball fan? You can make his party a real grand slam with these neat ideas. A baseball party is fun, ea…

  • With spring planting season coming up, I wanted to get a head-start with a gardening project that I could do with the kids indoors or out, even if the garden wasn't ready yet. Gardening expert Shirley Bovshow was on hand to help us make a great self-watering planter out of an old soda bottle. You can check out some of Shirley's other ideas on her blog (edenmakersblog.com).

    We used some pansies that we bought as transplants from a garden center, but you can plant seeds if you want - pansies, marigolds, maybe even some herbs or even some smaller vegetable plants! It's a great way for the kids to watch something grow and learn how to care for plants. They can even decorate the outside of the planters, too!


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  • From board books to picture books, here is the latest in bedtime tales for your little reader.

    The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss

    The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss


    The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss
    This pop-up version of the classic cautionary tale warns gentle readers to protect their forests and wildlife. Listen to the Lorax, and speak for the trees by planting a Truffula seed.
    Available at amazon.com, $20.


    Minerva Louise, by Janet Morgan Stoeke

    Minerva Louise, by Janet Morgan Stoeke


    Minerva Louise, by Janet Morgan Stoeke
    If Amelia Bedelia could cluck, she'd be good friends with Minerva Louise. Your kiddies will laugh hysterically at the lovable hen's playful antics in this re-release of the classic tale.
    Available at amazon.com, $15.

    Toys for Small Playrooms


    Love the Beastie, by Henrik Drescher

    Love the Beastie, by Henrik Drescher


    Love the Beastie, by Henrik Drescher
    This spin-and-play book is sure to give someone the giggles with fuzzy, tactile pages and pull tabs for touchy-feely interactive fun.
    Available at amazon.com, $9.


    One Cool Friend, by Toni Buzzeo

    One Cool Friend, by Toni Buzzeo


    One Cool Friend, by Toni Buzzeo
    Cleverly told with epic illustrations by David Small, this book follows young Elliot as he decided to adopt a penguin from th

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  • When it's too cold, too rainy, or too boring at home, try one of our favorite play spaces.

    Giggles n' Hugs

    Giggles n' Hugs


    Giggles n' Hugs
    With the best of local entertainment and a menu adults and kids can both enjoy, it's a family fantasy come true. Staff win over even the most bashful tots and make a point of remembering everyone's name. Activities take place on the hour (karaoke, magic shows) and you never know when Snow White will drop by for a surprise appearance.

    Giggles n' Hugs, 10250 Santa Monica Boulevard, suite 155, Los Angeles (310-553-4847 or gigglesnhugs.com).


    Little Beans Cafe

    Little Beans Cafe


    Little Beans Cafe
    Take an on-site class while she stays busy with supervised play. The mini village is tricked out with a firehouse and gas station, so there's little chance she'll notice you're gone. Treat her to a cone from the old-fashioned ice-cream parlor. When warm weather arrives enjoy a scoop on the deck.

    Little Beans Cafe, 1809 West Webster Avenue, at North Wood Street, Chicago (773-251-1035 or littlebeanscafe.com).

    T

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  • Photo by Stephanie Foley

    Photo by Stephanie Foley

    By Tanya Steel, Epicurious.com

    February always holds a lot of meaning for me: Valentine's Day, my boys' birthday, Thank a Mailman Day, oh, and Pancake Month. I love me some flapjacks.

    See also: Aphrodisiacs to Sweeten Your Valentine's Day

    Shrove Tuesday (February 21) historically revolves around the pancake, the theory being adherents should use up all of the richer ingredients in their home before Lent, such as eggs, butter, and sugar. One of the celebrations held worldwide are pancake races, reputedly inspired by a late churchgoer who raced out of her English home in 1444 to get to church on time, still holding her pan with a bubbling pancake.

    While I could have pancakes morning, noon, and night (and have), it did take some perfecting to get them from rock-like to fluffy, ethereal clouds of batter-y goodness. Here are my five secrets to the perfect pancake:

    1. Fresh is Best: Use only fresh ingredients, including items you wouldn't think about checking, such as baking powder

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  • Valentine's Day is coming up, so I had gift-wrapping expert Wanda Wen show me a great craft for the kids to make as gifts: a paper flower. It's simpler than it looks.

    Wanda's the author of "The Art of Gift Wrapping" and the owner of a paper store called Soolip in West Hollywood, CA. The flowers she helped me make are beautiful - they could work as an activity for either kids or moms! I'm thinking of using one as a gift-topper for a baby shower gift.

    To make Wanda's flowers, you'll need square-cut paper, double-stick tape, some tissue paper and a twig or pipe cleaner for a stem. That's it! You can even get creative with the paper: brown paper bags can work great, and the kids can even decorate their own paper w/ paints -- potato printing, perhaps?

    If you want to get more creative ideas from Wanda, you can check out her blog at http://soolip.blogspot.com

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