April 13, 2009 by Robin Beckett
I get a lot of questions about how we choose the winners of our Gotcha! photo contest, as well as who gets to be on the cover. So let me give you a few insider tips:
First, the Gotcha! photo contest is on the last page of every issue. It’s open to all ages of kids, not just babies. For this spot, we’re looking mostly for good, candid photos. So take lots of photos of your kids playing or doing something; posed shots are probably not going to win. Past winners have been swinging, dancing, crying on Santa’s lap, taking a bath or making a mess. The whole point is to “get them” doing something interesting: Gotcha!
Also, please pay attention to the season. We publish swimming shots in the summer, Christmas photos in December, etc. So, you may need to look through last year’s photos to find something appropriate rather than the cute photo you just took yesterday. If we have extra space, we try to publish a few more photos in the magazine, and even more are published on the Web site. So, it wouldn’t hurt to send us photos of your family participating in some of the activities that are featured in the magazine. We’re more likely to publish a photo of a kid playing T-ball in Selah than going to the zoo in San Diego.
OK, now the cover: We always take the photo for the cover ourselves. Basically, we need to have professional quality photographs and leave room for the Pladate flag and the teasers. It’s just easier to do it ourselves. However, 1/4 of our cover models have been selected from photos you submitted to the Gotcha! contest. So, keep sending us your photos — it’s the best way to get your kid’s picture in the magazine.
To find out how to submit your photos, click here.
To see our current batch of contest winners, click here.
April 8, 2009 by Robin Beckett
The kids and I made some cute and tasty Easter treats yesterday. These no-bake Easter Nest Cookies are super easy!
You just need three ingredients: Chocolate chips, crunchy chow mein noodles and some sort of candy that looks like little eggs. We used speckled Easter M&Ms, but jellybeans or even peanuts could work. I used a little more than one bag of milk chocolate chips for each 12 ounce bag of chow mein.
Line a couple cookie sheets with parchment or wax paper. This will keep the nests from sticking.
In a medium sized pan, melt the chocolate chips on the stove (medium heat), stirring so the chocolate doesn’t burn. This will only take a couple minutes. Remove from heat and add the noodles, stirring until they’re well coated. Then use a large spoon to drop a good-sized dollop of the chocolate chow mein mixture on your lined cookie sheets. Our nests are about 4 inches across.
Carefully check to make sure the mixture’s not too hot to touch, then use your fingers to shape each drop into the shape of a nest: circular with a little indent in the center. Move on to the next nest.
After you’re through forming the nests, the chocolate should still be sticky but not real warm (don’t want to melt your eggs!). Add a couple egg candies to the center of each nest. The chocolate will work like glue to hold them in. Chill them in the fridge for at least 20 minutes (we left ours overnight). To make them into little gifts, I placed each nest in a cellophane bag tied with a ribbon.
My kids are 5 and 3, so they were able to help stir the melting chocolate, help form the nests and add the egg candies (their favorite part). We thought the nests looked great using three eggs that were the same color (shades of blue, for example) or mixing it up. Either way, you can’t go wrong!
Well, it’s pretty obvious that I’m not spending all my time blogging. My last post was over a month ago. So, let me tell you what I’ve been up to: Coupons. I’m obsessed.
Thankfully, this hobby is kind of supporting itself. After all, we’ve got to eat.
So, this afternoon I stopped by Albertsons after work and picked up some groceries: 41 items for $34.62. Candy bars, you’re thinking. Not one. I got nine boxes of cereal, three gallons of milk, three dozen eggs, a roasted chicken, some bacon, apples, Ziplock bags… heck, I even indulged my 5-year-old with a pack of ZooPals plates featuring Arthur and family from the PBS Kids’ show.
How? Coupons, baby. You find them in the Yakima Herald-Republic (shameless self-promotion) on Sundays, match them up with the grocery stores’ sale ads that run mostly on Wednesdays and stock up when the deals are too good to resist. For assistance, I like to subscribe to TheGroceryGame.com. There are lots of blogs that can point you to great deals, too. Just for fun, check out Deal Seeking Mom.
I’d love to hear how you save money, too, so please click the “leave a comment” link and share your savvy.
February 5, 2009 by Robin Beckett
I get quite a few questions from moms who are researching preschools, but I’ve never had the time to do a story about them — and there are so many! Could you help? Add a comment below or send an email telling us about your preschool experience. What you like, what you don’t. Please be honest but keep it clean or I won’t be able to publish your comments. Be sure to include the school’s name; address, phone and website are helpful too.
To get things started, if you’re interested in learning more about the Montessori approach, please read about local mom Debbie Vuillemot’s experience with the Montessori School of Yakima here.
January 29, 2009 by Robin Beckett
But I’m not pregnant! I’m just running behind getting everything loaded onto the Internet. But it’s coming soon — I promise!
In the meantime, while I’m running around here like a chicken with its head cut off, perhaps you’d like to wander about town and pick up a copy of the latest issue of Playdate. It came out yesterday. Lots of sports in this issue! And, did you know Thomas the Tank Engine is coming to the Capitol Theatre? Well, now you do.
January 1, 2009 by Robin Beckett
I’m a total sucker for “Clean House,” the Style channel’s reality show in which host Niecy Nash encourages folks with incredibly messy homes to “stop the foolishness” and take control of their clutter.
In that spirit, I’m happy to announce Playdate’s MESSY CLOSET CONTEST. Just in time to help you tackle that New Year’s Resolution to get more organized, we’re teaming up with the professional organizers at Clutter Busters to help one lucky mama get a handle on her kid’s clutter.
Entering the contest is easy, and you could win a free closet makeover from Clutter Busters! Yay! We’ll take photos and show off your new, neatly organized closet — and your kid — in the magazine.
To enter, here’s what you need to do: Tell us in 100 words or less why your kid’s closet needs help. If you’d like to include photos as evidence, we’d love to see them!
Be sure to include your name, address and a daytime telephone number. The deadline to enter is Feb. 6.
You can submit your entry via email: email@example.com.
Or, mail us at Playdate, P.O. Box 9668, Yakima, WA 98909.
Happy New Year!
December 4, 2008 by Robin Beckett
One of my favorite Christmastime traditions is taking a drive to look at the holiday lights and outdoor decorations. I guess I’ve been doing this since before I could say the letter L. My mom says some of my first words were “pretty ites.”
Anyway, my friend Kim at On Magazine does a pretty good job rounding up some of the best and brightest homes in the Yakima Valley. It’s a work in progress this season, but here’s the first list.
Also, the name is a mouthful, but I hear the Sunnyside Lighted Farm Implement Parade is worth a drive to the Lower Valley. There are more than 50 entries signed up for this year’s parade, which starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6. The parade has received some national acclaim and this year celebrates its 20th anniversary. Read more about that here.
On Sunday evening, Yakima’s own Holiday Light Parade parade will begin at 5:30 p.m. Put on some gloves, pack a thermos of cocoa and enjoy the show as the parade travels down Yakima Avenue from Sixth Avenue to Third Street. Afterwards, enjoy a choral performance, a visit from Santa and the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree across from the Capitol Theatre, 19 S. Third St.