Ali Larter’s Relaxed Approach to Mommyhood

Sweater season is here, and we’re going to need hot soup to keep warm as the weather turns brisk. Dole—typically known for their fruit—just launched ready-to-serve Dole Garden Soup. Actress and cookbook author Ali Larter will judge the Dole Souper Gardener contest to find America’s best gardener (could be you). Parents caught up with Larter, mom of 3-year-old Theo with one on the way, about her childhood gardening memories, cooking for her family, and why she eats what she wants while pregnant.

P: You’re no stranger to trying new recipes since you came out with your cookbook. What is it about food and cooking that excites you?

AL: You know, I grew up cooking with my mom all the time and she always would have dinner parties. I remember sitting at the top of my stairs and hearing all the laughter and the incredible smells that came from her cooking. As I got older and started moving into different cities I realized that that was my connection to people. It’s how I make friends and how I like to spend my time. There’s no happier place for me than at a farmer’s market or in the kitchen cooking and feeding my family and friends.

P: Do you incorporate your son in the cooking process?

AL: I do. He’s an amazing sous chef. He’s got his own measuring cups. He has his little apron that he wears. Yesterday we made gingersnaps and buckwheat scones, which he loves. I always include him in the process. He just loves to make a mess. I have to keep him from dumping things into the bowl.

P: What is your favorite recipe to make for your family?

AL: I love my ricotta meatballs. I often double batch it and freeze one batch. Then I do one night of meatballs with a beautiful cauliflower puree and the next night do meatball subs. There’s no way I just cook for one meal. We either freeze one or eat it for lunch or dinner the next day.

P: When you don’t have time to cook, what’s your son’s favorite go-to snack?

AL: He loves hot dogs, but he does not get them often. When you read the ingredients in a hot dog it can make you kind of sick. I let him have them on special occasions.

P: With such a passion for food, is this season and Thanksgiving just your favorite?

AL: Well I just starting cooking with the ginger flavor, fresh ginger and cloves and nutmeg. Getting all those flavors out. I love cooking in the fall. Fall and spring are probably my favorite times to cook. I do a gingersnap crust with my pumpkin pie that I got did for my grandma because she used to love gingersnaps so much she’d put them in her coffee. So, I created that pie for her. All the fall flavors are just so rich and delicious.

P: You’ll be judging the Dole Souper Gardener contest. Do you have a green thumb?

AL: My grandfather was a big gardener and also my aunt. When they asked me to judge America’s Best Super Gardener I was really excited. We’ll looked at all the pictures, and someone will win $5,000 for themselves AND $5,000 for their local community garden. I’m excited to see everyone’s passion.

P: Aside from gardening, what is your favorite outdoor activity with your son?

AL: Right now I’m just into laying outside because I’m pregnant and I enjoy laying around more than ever. This morning we played construction trucks so we’re out in the morning with all his trucks and I sit there and pick up rocks with the dump loader.

P: Are you nervous about having to introduce him to a baby sibling?

AL: I’m actually not. I think everyone has different issues with their kids, but he seems extremely receptive and is very very excited.  I feel really lucky with that.

P: How have you managed to stay healthy during your pregnancy and what’s your craziest pregnancy craving?

AL: I wouldn’t say I’m the healthiest pregnant girl. I try my best, but I definitely crave a lot of carbs and cheese when I’m pregnant and I allow myself to have them. I just tell myself that the baby needs it. I’ll be like Paleo as soon as the baby comes [laughs].

Use Parents‘ quick app to track your pregnancy weight gain and body changes.

P: Theodore was born in December and you have this new baby coming in the winter. How do you make sure that a birthday is still a special day without being overshadowed by the holidays?

AL: That’s definitely hard. It gets to the point with presents where it becomes silly. There are so many kids out there who need presents. I think we’re gonna start introducing experiential birthdays where he’ll be able to choose an experience instead of just a ton of gifts. Whether it’s traveling somewhere he always wanted to go—the Grand Canyon—or apple-picking, or going on a boat. It’s figuring out ways to do it where we can have an adventure as a family rather than gifts at the house.

P: You and your husband have a very special relationship. With a 3-year-old and one on the way, how do you keep the romance alive?

AL: I feel really lucky that I do have help and that gives us the opportunity to go out to the movies or dinner. It is busier than ever, but [my husband] loves being a father and that’s a huge part of it. We love parenting together and I feel really lucky to have found someone who is such an incredible father to our son.

Horoscope for a Sagittarius Baby
Horoscope for a Sagittarius Baby
Horoscope for a Sagittarius Baby

Photograph: Courtesy Ali Larter

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Best Deals for the Week Across the Web

By Susan Yoo-Lee, Editor of

Why does it seem like when you have kids, the amount of stationary you need increases infinitely? Besides thank you cards for all the things in your own life, you now need thank you cards for every gift your child receives, not to mention a whole slew of new invites (birthday parties, graduations, etc.). All those paper products can really add up. Stock up while you can with this week’s deals from places like Expressionary, Pear Tree, Hallmark and more so that you’ll be good to go the next time you need to send some written correspondence.

  1. Expressionary. 30% off all orders (Coupon code: EXPIPRINT). Expires 12/31/2014.
  2. Pear Tree. 20% off orders $30 or more (Coupon code: FALLHOLIDAY). Expires 10/31/2014.
  3. ink garden. 50% off all orders (Coupon Code: SPECIAL50). Expires 1/1/2015.
  4. Greeting Card Universe. 25% off when you buy 20 or more cards, plus free shipping (Coupon code: 20OFFOF20).Expires 12/31/2014.
  5. Hallmark. 20% off your personalized greeting card (Coupon code: EMAIL20). Expires 12/31/2014.

This post contains affiliate links.

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Beautiful Ways to Support Breast Cancer Research

Show your support—and look good in the process—with these products that help benefit breast-cancer causes.

Supersmile gives 75 percent of online sales of its Pink Diamond Toothbrush to SHARE, a national breast-cancer support group. $15;

Estée Lauder donates three dollars from each sale of Clinique Pink With a Purpose Long Last Lipstick in Power With Pink to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The company recently debuted, an interactive site with video stories from people affected by breast cancer.  $16;

For every sale of the Avon Anew Vitale Night Cream, $5 of the net profits will help fund the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. $28;

A quarter of a million dollars from sales of select products owned by Kao USA, including Jergens Original Scent Dry Skin Moisturizer, will go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure Advocacy Alliance. $7; drugstores


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Real Glam Moms: Viva Veltoro

Ruth of Viva Veltoro

Here’s the newest installment of a brand new series from the Parents beauty department about mommy bloggers. Each installment will feature what beauty means to real moms no matter what their beauty routine is like—and how they take time to themselves after having children. 

Following the birth of her son, whom she calls “Wubba,” Ruth V. moved to a new town. To connect with other moms and feel a little less lonely, she began to blog. Wubba is now 2 years old, and her blog, Viva Veltoro, is filled with great posts about her favorite products, recipes and places. We caught up with her to find out more about her favorite products beyond baby gear and how she she juggles blogging and parenting with “me” time.

What is your beauty routine like? 

I wash my face every morning and night and never go to bed with make-up on—ever! On days when I don’t have a lot of time, I use BB cream even out my skin tone and to protect against UV damage and just apply a simple coat of mascara. On days where I need a more complete look, I use bareMinerals for full coverage. Their make-up is fantastic! It’s not too heavy, but it lasts!I also swear by the sock bun!  It’s my favorite trick for when I’m running late and don’t have time to blowout or curl my hair.

How has your beauty routines changed since you had children? 

I try to keep my skincare routine easy, but after I had my son, my skin changed a lot.  I became prone to breakouts and had uneven skin tone and melasma.

What is the importance of taking time to yourself? 

It’s really important to take some time and focus on yourself.  Since I’m a stay-at-home mom, I barely wore makeup or styled my hair for the first year after my son was born.  I got in a rut and just didn’t feel great about myself.  Styling your hair, putting on a little tinted moisturizer, some lip gloss and mascara can really go a long way!

How do you find time to focus on yourself, your blog and your family? 

I’ll admit that I put my family and blog before myself, but I try to carve out little spots of “me” time here and there.  Even just taking a long, hot shower or bath without little ones around can seem like a total luxury sometimes, but it’s important to remember that you have to take care of yourself, too. I work much better in the morning, so if I have deadlines or special projects I want to get done, I’ll wake up earlier than everyone else to have that alone time to work in peace.

What’s the best beauty advice you’ve received? 

My mom told me when I was a teenager to never wear makeup to bed. I’m proud to report that I never have.  She also told me how important it is to protect your face from the sun, so I try to wear sunscreen (or BB cream) with UV protection.

Do you have any beauty advice for moms? 

Always wash your face before bed, drink lots of water (it’s great for your skin!), and it’s never too early to start using anti-aging eye cream!

CoverGirl Bombshell Volume mascara


1. Olay Fresh Effects BB Cream : I LOVE it!

2. CoverGirl Bombshell Volume by LashBlast Mascara: It’s affordable and gives you a lot of volume!

3. bareMinerals Get Started Complexion Kit: Everything you need to for a flawless look.

4. Rodan + Fields Unblemish Regimen with spot fading toner: Although it’s a four-part system, it’s surprisingly easy, and I’m getting great results.

5. Crest White Strips: They make a HUGE difference, especially if you’re a coffee drinker.  I use them every few months to keep my smile bright.


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Meet the Switch Witch: Halloween’s Version of Elf on the Shelf

Switchrafted Switch Witch book and doll setWhether you love Elf on the Shelf or just cringe at the thought, there’s no doubt that the jolly elf’s popularity is not waning anytime soon. Now joining the other variations of Elf on the Shelf (like the cheeky Dwarf in the Drawer and Hanukkah’s Mensch on the Bench) is a Halloween version called The Switch Witch.

The Switch Witch is a mythological witch (shhh, keep this a secret!) who visits children while they sleep to switch Halloween candy with prizes. Think of the Switch Witch as a Tooth Fairy who only visits on Halloween to protect trick-or-treaters from candy overload and cavities, while also ensuring healthy choices.

Switchcrafted: The Story of the Switch Witches of Halloween” is a new book-and-doll set (a black trick-or-treat bag is also included) that shares the story of the Switch Witches and their need for different types of candy to fuel broomsticks, homes, and baths. And similar to Santa, a Switch Witch watches over kids during the month of October to note those who are naughty and nice. Of course, nice kids get their candy exchanged for a toy (though keeping the candy doesn’t seem like such a raw deal, either). And in case you’re wondering, “Switchrafted” is the brainchild of three women and moms, Audrey Kinsman, Pam Hatcher, and Milena Kirkova.

If your kids can’t get enough of Elf on the Shelf, or if you just want a slightly non-traditional version of it, the Switch Witch (which kids can also personalize with a name) is a fun way to welcome the fall season and buoy everyone’s spirit. Since Halloween is right around the corner, pick up the “Switchcrafted” set and read the book at the start of the month. Then place your Switch Witch doll in different places around the house to watch over the kids!

Mini Witch Hat Pinatas
Mini Witch Hat Pinatas
Mini Witch Hat Pinatas

Get in the Halloween spirit by downloading these free Halloween printables!

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What Life Is Really Like With a Toddler

Each month in Parents, we print the 27 truest words about parenting from our favorite bloggers. Our November issue features a quote from Erin Huizen at Life in the Hood. Read her full blog post below. 

toddler playingLife as the mom of a toddler is exactly how I imagined it’d be: the convergence of one little boy stuffed entirely with wiggle worms and an easily out-smarted mom who doesn’t know the first thing about raising toddlers, these two forces swirling together, creating one big crazy $hit storm tornado.

(P.S. Raising a toddler also means I don’t have much time to blog, and therefore I’ll be using a lot of sweeping generalization to get my point across for the next few years.)

Actually, toddlerhood isn’t that bad, but the adjustment period is quite a shock.

At first it feels a tad bit like you are in prison, except I have heard that prisoners are allowed to take coffee breaks wherein some one-foot-tall inmate isn’t using a foreign, mono-syllabic language to demand access to the touching of her mug.

Anyway, somewhat rapidly, the world I once knew vanished. The world in which I could cuss, talk to another adult without stopping to answer un-English questions and comments mostly dealing with dogs and motorcycles, eat chocolate and cookies all day with zero accountability, and walk through a neighborhood anonymously without having to talk to every dog-owner and interesting-looking person with a light saber my son decides to engage.

That world is gone, replaced by one in which every thing I do, every plan I make begs the question, will this cause a tantrum? And if so, how large?

Maybe it’s this line of thinking that has caused me to go a little PTSD, minus the P.

While anxiously awaiting the discount grocery store to open its doors last Sunday morning, I decided we could try the coffee shop with the small kid’s play area. Though last time we graced this establishment, my toddler breezed past the toys straight to the trash cans, and after picking up all the diseases he could from their flapping lids, made his way behind the counter to help make sandwiches and serve soup.

This time he found a truck and a couple of baby-boomers rocking to music that wasn’t playing. He dug it and nodded his little head to the non-existent music as well. Just to make sure things didn’t get awkward, I bobbed my head too.

The woman told my son the music in her head was always better than the music they played there anyways.

He nodded some more, adding a fist pump.

“And if you keep your head banging like this,” she swirled her neck around and did a soft-core head-bang, “then no bad thoughts can get stuck in there.”

I liked that idea.

When my son is around and I need to think, I’ll sing a lot of made-up songs, some words, some simple melody, mostly humming. Lately I’ve been catching myself doing this without him around, mostly in public bathroom stalls, along with the head bang.

I’ve also noticed that many standards I am certain I once held dear, I cannot, for the life of me, muster up one fart about now.

Standards such as: not showing my bra-strap; being on time; mopping > once a year; masking my feelings for the sake of others; avoiding going out in public with avocado stains caked into my pants or poop crusted in my watchband; wearing shirts inside out, backwards, both, or the same shirt and pants for days on end if the avocado and other food-crust gods are blessing me as such; listening; using plates; refraining from acquiring most of my calories from what I can pick from the car seats, etc.

Knowing I’ve gone a little looney, I still try to preserve somewhat of my “self”, since it’s been beaten into my selectively porous mother-skull that I must be sure to take care of myself in order to take care of my child.

But sometimes it feels like I’m trying to preserve myself to the point of being a tree in the petrified forest, and I get the urge to just let go.

I still work-out, have my bud in child care two hours a day so I can do my thing, attend a writing group, read, etc. Despite all this, I still sense my identity as it once was is in a serious state of flux, it’s slipping away, and when I come out the other end, I’m not going to be the same.

The world will have become my padded room, the bathroom stall my stage, the unwary dog-owner my confidant. I will have happily gone insane. I will be a mom.

Take our quiz to find out your parenting style and shop kids’ games.

You Know You Have A Toddler When¿
You Know You Have A Toddler When¿
You Know You Have A Toddler When¿

Image via Shutterstock

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Lakeshore Celebrates 60 Years of Learning Anniversary!

Haven’t finalized your weekend plans? You may want to dig out your party hat! On September 27, Lakeshore Learning Materials–a developer and retailer of children’s educational products– is celebrating its 60th anniversary by hosting a “60 years of Learning” event at stores nationwide. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., children and their families and friends are invited to participate in fun games, activities, and special crafts (such as decorating their own party hat!) at their local Lakeshore store. The event is free and kids will receive a goodie bag, too!

During its six decades of service to teachers, parents, and children, kids nationwide have the ability to grow and learn–all while having fun. Lakeshore produces new products every year for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary-age children–covering all subject areas including math, language, science, music, and art.

“We’re extremely honored to be celebrating such a major milestone in our company’s history,” said Bo Kaplan, president and CEO of Lakeshore. “It is a huge testament to our people, our products and the loyal customers who have wholeheartedly supported us over the years. And, we are beyond excited about the future. We look forward to delivering the highest-quality products and service for many years to come.”

Besides helping children reach developmental and educational milestones in the classroom, Lakeshore Learning Stores have become a valuable part of the community by hosting family-friendly, year-round events with authors, folk singers and more. This October, Lakeshore is hosting a nationwide event in celebration of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record®, a national campaign celebrating early literacy.

For more information on products and events, visit The Lakeshore Story: A Simple Beginning and

Photos courtesy of Lakeshore Learning Materials.

Watch the video for tips and tricks on raising a star student in and out of the classroom.


3 Things to Raise a Successful Student
3 Things to Raise a Successful Student
3 Things to Raise a Successful Student


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American Baby’s Baby Booty: Win the ‘Most Registered For’ Travel System from’s Baby Registry!

Whether you’ve already registered for baby gear or you’re still deciding what you really need, is here to help you find the best gear for you and your little one. With a universal baby registry, makes it convenient to shop for the products you love. Plus, their top 100 most registered for baby items allows you to view the most popular gear purchased by moms like you. 

To help you get prepared before delivery, is giving away a Britax Travel System to ONE (1) lucky winner, a retail value of approximately $420.00. Prize includes Britax 2014 B-Agile stroller and B-Safe Travel System.

To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and the end of the day October 1. More Qs about our giveaway? Read the official rules. Be sure to check back on October 2 and scroll to the bottom of the post to see who won. We reach out to winners via Facebook message (it goes into your “other” message folder on Facebook), so if you win, look for us there as well. Goody luck!

Want advice on stroller safety? Watch the video below.

Stroller Safety
Stroller Safety
Stroller Safety

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