Enchanted Mommy

Looking to host a party in 2023? These are America’s best cities to do it.

Moms know hosting a gathering can be an a stressful event. From the prep work, to the actually event, to the cleanup—It’s quite the undertaking. Despite this, many moms host a variety of events for friends and family, like a kid’s birthday party, Christmas, or a summer BBQ. Although you can host a knock out party just about anywhere in the U.S., are some cities better equipped to host than others? What makes a city top-notch for having company?

A recent study found the best U.S. cities for hosting, according to a variety of ranking factors that would make for an ideal hosting experience, from home amenities, hospitable rentals, and event planning resources. In total, 100 cities were analyzed across 16 ranking factors, including catering costs, home square footage, on-street parking, surrounding Airbnb rental availability, internet speeds, crime rates, grocery costs, and more!

According to the study, Charleston, South Carolina is the best U.S. city for hosting an event. With a score of 79,3, the Southern city boasted affordable groceries, a surplus of Superhost and Airbnb Plus rentals for guests, and more. Daytona Beach, Florida (78.8); Fort Myers, Florida (77.1); Greenville, South Carolina, Orlando, Florida (76.7, tie); and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (73.3) round out the top five positions.

“From a surplus of Superhost and Airbnb Plus rentals to groceries priced below the national average cost, Charleston is where rich culture meets southern hospitality – it’s a way of life,” said the company. “As one of the oldest cities in the U.S., Charleston’s history can be felt and seen in any home. Whether you find a gorgeous Federal style home or Victorian single, many homes throughout the city will charm you and your houseguests.”

For a complete list of cities, check out the list.

Preschool Letter Q Activities

“Qq” is a hard one… there are not a ton of things that start with the letter Q.  There is Queen of course, but since we had just done K is for King I didn’t want to go there.  So instead, we did Q is for “Quack!”  It ended up being a lot of fun!

During circle time we reviewed our numbers, letters, and letter sounds.  Then we introduced the letter Q by singing “Five Little ducks Went Out to Play.”

Five little ducks went out to play
Over the hills and far away
When old mother duck said, “Quack, quack, quack”
Four little ducks came waddling back

Repeat and count down to one

One little duck went out to play
Over the hills and far away
When old mother duck said, “Quack, quack, quack”
No little ducks came waddling back

But when old Father duck said, “quack, quack, quack, quack, quack!!!!!”
All five ducks came waddling back! 

We made theses cute little paper plate ducks.  The ducks stand up on their own but can also lay flat and slide right into a page protector in their alphabet binders we have been working on.

SUPPLIES:
1 paper plate
yellow paint (or yellow crayon)
orange and yellow construction paper
glue
2 googley eyes

1.  Let the kids paint or color the paper plate yellow.  When the plate is dry fold it in half.
2.  While it is drying, fold a piece of yellow construction paper in half.  Help them trace their hand on the yellow paper.  Having them trace their own hand or their friends hand is a great fine motor activity for little guys!  Plus, they love doing it!
3.  Cut out the traced hands out and make a circle for the ducks head with the left over yellow paper.  Make a beak and duck feet with the orange construction paper.  You want to keep the duck feet connected with a 3 to 4 inch thin rectangle.  Fold in half along the thin rectangle connecting the feet.
4.  Glue the feet to the bottom of the open plate, putting one foot on each side.  Glue on the head, beak, and eyes.  Use the cut out handprints for the ducks tail feathers byt gluing one hand to each side of the paper plate.

Here it is standing up

We also painted with Q-tips.  The kids had fun with this and thought it was great to paint with something other than a paint brush or their fingers.  The pictures turned out pretty cute.  I glued a couple Q-tips to the paper so the kids would remember what they did when they look back at their picture in their alphabet books.

Painting with Q-tips
Even the younger kids enjoyed this activity

Awesome 3rd Birthday Cake!

I recently went to a birthday party and my friend made this cake for her son! She had an amazing 3rd Birthday Cake Idea and I wanted to share it.

3 birthday cake
All handmade by my crafty friend!

Talk about AH-MAZ-ING.  So creative.  I was asking her about it and she said it would seem that the M&Ms would have taken a long time, but they only took her about an hour!

This is what she said she did:

  • Take two bunt pans and bake your desired flavor of cake – you could even make two different kinds.
  • Cut the two cakes so they become the 3 shape (obviously, you can test this by cutting a little at the time).
  • Flatten out the two parts where they attach (she said to put a little frosting where they attach so they stick better).
  • Ice the whole cake with chocolate icing
  • Pattern the M&M’s like the picture above.

And you did it…. righhhhhhht.  I do think this cake is simple if you pay close attention to detail by taking your time.  Here’s the sweet birthday boy blowing out his candles:

Blowing out his “3” cake!

She also had something else cute at the party that I would share.  Each child had pizza to eat and one of these snack bags:

kids snack bag for party
Awesome idea for a snack bag!

Such a fun and creative party!  I might have to steal some of these ideas!  Happy party planning!

For other party ideas:
Ella’s 3rd Pancake and Pajama Birthday Party
1st Birthday Party Ideas
Cupcake Cake Idea
Lion Birthday Party
Super Hero Birthday Party 

Other bundt pan ideas:
 Too Much Chocolate Cake
Popcorn Cake 
Cream Cheese Monkey Bread

Why a 7th Birthday Is Special!

Celebrating birthdays with your child or children is only going to get more and more fun over the years. Why? With each birthday and corresponding age, your child is developing their likes, dislikes, opinions, and it’s easier to shower them with events and excitement. They even understand the specialness of a birthday at this point. 

What Makes a 7th So Special

Let’s talk about age seven. The number itself is usually really special – seven is one of those mystical numbers in fairy tales, stories, movies, and lore. It’s also the age when your child is probably making the jump from preschool to grade school. That’s, for sure, something to celebrate, right? 

At this point, the parties are generally longer than an hour or an hour and a half. Guests are often playmates from school, activities, or neighborhood friends. If your little one is celebrating their seventh birthday at school, there’s never a wrong time to bring in cupcakes! 

For your celebration, consider making your child’s seventh birthday party special by planning significant gifts which support the theme of a special seventh. 

  1. Something they want

A great gift is usually something special an individual wants. It’s pleasantly frivolous, typically a toy or an outrageous outfit, accessory, or otherwise. 

  1. Something they need

Did your 7-year-old recently outgrow their soccer cleats and uniform? Did they start a sport you could outfit them in? Gifting your child something they need is a great way to build gratitude, and show them they’ve got the gear to do what it takes for a sport, hobby, or interest. 

  1. Something to read

Is there some book series, set, or universe you can help introduce your child to with books? Or, alternatively, if they’re interested in puzzles, a game-book is a good route to go. 

  1. Something to watch

This one can run the gamut from a video game to a video, a movie to a TV show series. It could be an app you purchase that helps your child learn something, or it could be a more interactive show than the ones running live on streaming services or cable. 

  1. Something they can wear

Whether they’re gifted a party outfit or a new pair of light-up sketchers, something to wear is a great gift for your seven-year-old. Having a new outfit for their party or celebration could be exciting, but it could also be exciting for them to have that pair of sneakers that are just a little too expensive for everyday wear or a costume of their favorite movie character.

  1. Something to play with

Toys are also in the categories of something they want and something to watch, but something to play with is always memorable. Gift sets of ponies, play gardening gear, hot wheels, and more are the type of gifts your seven-year-old will love. Pick a set based on their budding interests.

  1. Something to remember 

At age seven, I received my first cross necklace. It was a special gift and signified a new age of independence, guided by my values and ideas. With that in mind, gifting your child something to remember —  whether it’s an important accessory like a necklace or watch, or instead an event like Monster Jam or Frozen on Ice — is the ultimate way to make an experience a magical memory.

Small Business Saturday: Support Someone’s Childhood Dream

Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers like me to shop small in the wake of big commercial holidays, offering a brick-and-mortar counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It makes shopping for presents for the kids a way to support your community.

If you’ve ever wanted to support a small business with more than just your dollar, you’re not alone. A new survey found that many Americans had childhood dream jobs that would lend themselves perfectly to a small business structure, whether it’s a ghost hunting business, an ice cream truck driver, or a tornado chaser! Big business doesn’t always leave room for the types of big dreams that we hear about from our kids. Unless, of course, they like pretending to work for Apple or Amazon!

According to the study, nearly 60% of people said they still think about their dream job occasionally or often. One small business owner said when they were a kid, they wanted to be a chimpanzee caretaker! The job market for babysitting monkeys isn’t the easiest to get into. Although sometimes I feel like that’s my job as a mom!

As parents, many of us ask our kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Deputy’s research confirmed what I would have suspected — a professional athlete, famous actor, and legendary musician were some of the most popular answers. In actuality, those surveyed grew up to become a history teacher, a salesman, and a deacon, respectively! This is the story for many of us, but it’s not too late to support someone else’s dreams or go after your own.

According to the insights, two-thirds of people said they don’t think it’s too late to chase their dreams and that their dream has changed since they were younger. This is where the rubber meets the road in the aspiration of becoming a small business owner. Many were able to pursue their entrepreneurial endeavors only after gaining experience working for someone else. 

For some, owning a business is the dream — and for others, it’s being a mom. Whatever the job may be, participating in Small Business Saturday might at the very least be a  great way to off Thanksgiving dinner. More importantly, it supports the dreams that came true for many of owning a small business that serves its community. Don’t forget to mark Nov 26, 2022, and shop at any nearby stores as you collect your early Christmas presents. You never know— Santa himself may have started off wanting to be a small toy shop owner!

How to Remove Paint from Brick

So I had a major accident in the driveway after one of my painting projects.  Danny was out of town and I was trying to finish a project in the garage during random snippets of time that I could occupy the kiddos elsewhere.  Of course I was rushing…

I spilled a big puddle of oil based primer right on our new brick pavers in the driveway.  So sad.  I googled and googled and all the ehow’s and the ask.com’s said it was impossible to completely remove.  They said to try paint stripper, but that it probably wouldn’t work and would just damage the brick.  Other’s suggested power washing or sand blasting.

This is what it looked like after using three coats of paint stripper. Paint stripper did close to nothing.
This is what it looked like after using three coats of paint stripper. Paint stripper did close to nothing.

I was desperate to clean it and tried scrubbing with the paint stripper three different times.  Nothing.  I kept scouring the internet and everything I read talked about the stone being too porous.

Use Vinegar to Remove Paint From Brick

Finally I found a random comment on a post along ways down on some website saying that he had used plain distilled vinegar to get the paint residue off from in between the bricks of his fireplace.  

Vinegar is often effective at removing paint from bricks. For best results you’ll need to soak the painted surface in vinegar and then scrub the surface. Depending on the type of brick or paver that you have, be careful to not scrub too hard as it can damage the brick.

I had vinegar on hand so I figured I might as well give it a try.

I basically poured the vinegar into a bucket, soaked it up with steel wool and scrubbed with some rubber gloves on.  A good 20 minutes of scrubbing took it right off!  Seriously, Danny didn’t even notice and will have no idea unless he reads this post. 🙂

After scrubbing with vinegar.  You can still see a slightly faded spot if you look closely, but overall it isn't noticeable.
After scrubbing with vinegar. You can still see a slightly faded spot if you look closely, but overall it isn’t noticeable.

This post is for those poor souls who think there is nothing they can do after spilling paint on their stone or brick!  Vinegar!  Who knew!?!?!

Use vinegar to remove paint from brick
The magic potion!

Handprint Stepping Stone

My mom has been making some adjustments to her garden lately.  She asked us to make a hand or foot print stepping stone for each of her grandchildren to put in her garden.

These turned out so cute that I had to post about them!  They are relatively simple to make and are really sturdy.

Handprint Stepping Stone
The final product already out in the garden

You can buy the kit on amazon.  It will come with everything you need except the bucket to mix it in.

All you do is mix the cement with 3 cups of water and stir it up.  Then, pour it into the mold from you kit and wait about 30 minutes.  Then you can decorate with the rocks, letter prints, or anything you want.

mixing cement for stepping stone kit
Mixing the cement

I made three of these (one for each of my boys) and learned a few tricks as I went.

First, after you have let it sit for 30 minutes, if you can see water pooled on the top you need to soak it up with a paper towel and wait another 15 minutes before trying to make a mold of your hand or anything else.  If you dont wait, the hand print will fill with the water and you will have to make your print all over again.

making handprint in stepping stone cement
Decorating the stone

Second, don’t put your stone in the sun to dry.  Leave it somewhere it can sit for at least 48hrs at room temperature.  You want it to dry slowly.  If it dries too fast it will crack.

Finally, once it is done and has dried for at least 48 hrs you can clean it off (I used an old toothbrush to polish it up) and take it out of its mold.

Let stepping stone dry
Let it dry for 48hrs at room temperature. Do not move it while it is drying!
Garden with handprint stepping stones
My mom’s stone garden from her grandchildren.  She actually has 14 grandkids and is still waiting on some to finish up their stones.

DIY: How to Paint a Jute Rug!

Okay so I am picking out things for the new house and came across this very reasonably priced handmade natural fiber jute rug.  It looked perfect under my dining rom table… until my dog got sick and puked on it.  Did you know it is IMPOSSIBLE to clean a jute rug???  I didn’t, but found out very quickly!

Mistake number 1 was using carpet cleaner on it.  This just bleached the rug and made it worse.  Sadly, even using a too much water can discolor a jute rug.

Here is the bleached out spots made from carpet cleaner after the dog puked here.

Here is the bleached out spots made from carpet cleaner after the dog puked here.

So the rug was ruined and I had a chance to experiment with it.  I have heard of other people painting rugs and started googling.  I found a lot of good blog posts online where people updated there jute or sisal rugs by painting them..  Apparently it is pretty easy to paint a rug!  It also looks great!  I used the site jimmychoosonthetreadmill.com for my motivation.  I also like this rug painting post on natalme.com.

So easy!  The only supplies your really need are some foam bushes, a gallon of regular latex paint, and some painters tape.  I painted mine right in the house after the kids went to bed.  I just put a tarp underneath it.  This rug has a thick plastic bottom and didn’t even soak through to the tarp, but the tarp made me feel better just in case.

So here is the rug before I did anything to it.  This is a close up of the texture it has.

So here is the rug before I did anything to it. This is a close up of the texture it has.

I decided on a Chevron pattern and made a triangle from construction paper to make sure the chevron strips were exact.  Then I outlined the triangle back and forth with painters tape.

Notice my pink construction paper triangle.  I used this to measure and make sure my chevron strips were uniform.

Notice my pink construction paper triangle. I used this to measure and make sure my chevron strips were uniform.

After I had the design all mapped out on my rug, I painted! I used a soft foam brush and regular indoor latex paint, just like you would use to paint your walls.  Make sure to get a pack of foam brushes as I went through 3 or 4 on this project.

Can You Spray Paint a Jute Rug?

Personally, I decided not to use Spray Paint on my Jute Rug.  There is nothing that would limit you from doing so but I feel it would leave too shinny a finish.  Instead I used regular latex pain.  I got the paint from Walmart.  Did you know that they have pre mixed colors for 50 – 75% off?  It is hit or miss on what colors they have available, but I was happy to find this shade of grey for $4.

I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on this project since it was my first time painting a rug and I wasn’t sure of the outcome.  I am now ready to admit that I like the rug even better than before!  Considering I bought a $4 gallon of paint and a $4 roll of painters tape, I basically redesigned this rug fabulously for less than $10.

After the paint is dry, peel up your painters tape to see the masterpiece!

A close up of the rug after the painters tape was pulled off.

A close up of the rug after the painters tape was pulled off.

Looks awesome right!

Looks awesome right!

Guests come over and are shocked when I tell them the rug didn’t come this way.  It looks great and I feel so talented! ha! I might even want to try this out on another rug!

Some of the other posts I found on this told me to sand my rug with an electric sander when it was done to take away the crispiness the paint can leave.  I did not do this since this is a jute rug and it already has a tough texture anyway.  I can see how this would be a necessary step on a smoother, less textured rug.

Keeping up a beauty routine as a mom

Between taking the kids to sports, staying on top of homework, cooking dinner, and wearing the many capes we superheroes put on each day, it’s no doubt that our own beauty and self-care can be put on the back burner at times. 

I wanted to know if I was the only one that goes through phases when it comes to my skincare. Of course, sometimes I’m very on top of it, but just like most things, other times life just gets in the way. I found one survey that said 30% of women never miss a day doing their skincare routine. While I strive to be that type of woman, I lean more towards the 70%. Another survey I found said that women said the most neglected parts of their bodies are their back and feet. If that’s not ironic, I don’t know what is. So this got me thinking. What tips can I use myself and try to help others so we can start taking care of ourselves?

  1. Make time for yourself

We make time for literally everything else. School, extracurricular activities, PTO meetings, date night, etc. Why not carve out time on a saturday morning or after work for a much needed facial or pedicure?

  1. Your well being is just as important as your loved ones

It’s easy to feel guilty about putting your needs first. “This is time I could be putting towards the family.” “This is time I could be putting into work.” Remember, you can’t give your 100% self unless you feel you are at 100%. Sometimes, a simple night time face mask can rejuvenate you into feeling recharged. 

  1. Treat it as a priority, not a reward

Self-care shouldn’t be looked at as something to reward yourself with after a long day of mommy duty, it should be part of your “task list”. Consider it one of the most relaxing “tasks.”

What to expect when your kids call home

One of the most exciting yet terrifying moments as a parent is when it is time for one of your children to leave the house. Whether they are off to college, the military, or moving away to gain independence; it can be one of the hardest yet proudest moments for parents. 

The good news is that they are only a phone call away. But how much can we expect to hear from them? 

Chicco did a new study about how much Americans call their parents and some of the big questions they might ask. It may come as no surprise that kids will likely call their dads about car problems and home improvement, whereas moms may get questions about cooking and relationships. 

Regardless, there is no guide to how to live on your own. The closest thing to it is a call to your parents.  

So moms, according to this article, here’s what to expect. Mama knows best, as they say, and 32% of Americans turn to their moms for major life decision advice. Another big call to prepare for is cooking advice. 22% of Americans turn to their moms for cooking tips because nothing beats a home-cooked meal made with love. A valuable gift is putting together a small cookbook of your children’s favorite easy recipes. The other big calls to expect are relationship advice and childcare tips. The first time for everything is scary, definitely need some advice from an expert! You may receive occasional questions about financial needs, home care, and laundry.

Now dads, get ready to take your How-To manuals and spreadsheets out. Fatherly advice is extremely helpful and valuable, and 28% of Americans call their dads for major life decisions. The following big calls are home maintenance (24%), car issues (22%), and finances (18.5%). The least expected calls are the parenting and babysitting tips and cooking advice. 

Regardless of what your kids are calling to talk about, whether a real-life problem or to say hello, 68% of Americans call their parents a fair amount—only 62% of parents expect a call. If you have a daughter(s), you can expect calls more often than if you have a son(s). No matter how you put it, parenting comes with challenges, and one important thing to remember is communication.

Just because they may be moving out, it does not mean your role as a parent stops. You have spent 18 years providing all the best life advice to prepare them for the real world. Find ways to communicate with your children while giving them the freedom to navigate their own life and be there for them to fall back on for advice, love, and guidance.