New California Smoke Alarm Law

Thank you to blog sponsor, Kidde Worry-Free Smoke Alarms, for today’s public service announcement about the updated Smoke Alarm Law in California.

smoke alarm law california

Updated California Smoke Alarm Law

If you haven’t updated your smoke alarm in a while, this post is for you. Since their introduction in the 1970s, the majority of smoke alarms have relied on 9-volt or AA batteries for power. Today, “long-life” smoke alarms that provide continuous protection for ten years are available to consumers, and national fire experts such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend their use.

10 year smoke alarm

As of July 1, smoke and combination smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms powered by replaceable batteries are no longer available for sale in California, and you can only purchase long-life alarms. How great is that?

It’s certainly giving me and my family peace of mind. To help keep families safe, this new law requires that all battery-powered alarms approved for sale by the state fire marshal must be powered by a sealed, 10-year battery.

Here are some of the features of the Worry-free alarm that Kidde sent us:

smoke alarm features

Kidde Worry-Free smoke and combination alarms comply with the new law requirements and are available throughout California.

smoke alarm compliance

A recent survey reveals that one in three California homes needs its smoke alarms replaced – leaving millions of Californians at serious risk in the event of a residential fire.

installation smoke alarm

Kidde is offering one of our California readers a free Kidde Worry-free alarm, valued at $24.97. Simply leave a comment on this post before Saturday, October 17, 2015, for your chance to win. Winner will be chosen at random and must be 18 years or over and a California resident to win.

Super Bowl Party Ideas with Kids

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Unilever. All opinions expressed in this post are 100% mine.

Let me start by saying that I don’t spend all my Sundays watching football. Maybe you can tell by following my blog? However, there are a few exceptions: Since my husband went to grad school at Stanford,  we like to catch games at the Stanford stadium, and then there’s the Super Bowl, especially if the New England Patriots are playing…and this year they are!

Fun and Easy Eco-friendly Super Bowl Party Ideas with Kids @UnileverUSA

My husband is from Massachusetts, and seeing that we’ve been together since we were 20, I’ve been more or less raised to be a Pats fan. So this year, we’re going all out with Super Bowl madness (and we’ll be better prepared than that year we forgot to activate our cable before the game came on…oops).

If you have a big game day ahead, I have five kid-friendly Super Bowl party ideas that just might strike your fancy.

5 Kid-Friendly Super Bowl Party Ideas

Make these kid-friendly game day snacks with pita bread, hummus, and light mayo. My kids gobbled these up. @Hellmanns


Here’s a tasty (and somewhat more healthy) Super Bowl party snack idea. These pita footballs are kid-tested, and my four-year old begged me to make a second batch once the plate was clean.

Super Bowl Pita Snacks

  • Pita Bread – we get ours from Trader Joe’s
  • Hummus – are favorite (used here) is the Tomato + Basil Hummus Dip from Trader Joe’s
  • Mayonnaise, such as Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise (It tastes like it’s full-fat sibling, gluten-free, and it’s made with cage-free eggs!!)
  • Sauce bottle with a squeeze tip. I found the tiny sauce bottle at the Container Store.


  • Cut the pita into football shapes
  • Spread hummus over the pita
  • Fill a small squirt bottle with mayonnaise and draw lace stitches on your hummus.

Fun Hummus Fact: Did you know that chickpeas, the primary ingredient in hummus, are rich in protein and they don’t contain any cholesterol or saturated fats! Go on and eat a big batch of this…it’s good for you!

Make this easy game day scarf or necklace to match your favorite team's colors...all from unused t-shirts! Best part of it? They come together in a matter of minutes and don't cost very much to make.

Make a Scarf from Old T-Shirts

You have to show up at your Super Bowl party wearing team colors, am I right? My kids loved this project, especially the part where they stretched and pulled the t-shirt fabric.

It’s really fun to make these, they cost very little (if you already have the shirt, it’s virtually free), they’re eco-conscious since you’re upcycling, and it’s fun to add a little color to your Super Bowl wardrobe, right?

Find the full tutorial for the no-sew t-shirt scarf.

Fun T-shirt Fact: The first promotional t-shirt was created in 1939 to advertise the movie, “The Wizard of Oz”

Whip up a batch of easy, no-cook playdough for game day to help little ones experience the game through imaginative play @TRESemmé

A couple hours before play, glue four popsicle sticks together into the shape of a field goal. Now, make some play dough!

Easy no-cook Playdough Supplies

This easy playdough recipe may be an unexpected Super Bowl Party Idea, but it could be a fun way to get young kids involved in the game.

  • TREsemme hair conditioner
  • Corn starch

Full directions on how to make it here.

Interesting football fact: 120 balls are used during the Super Bowl game, including kicker balls. There are 12 kicker balls, which are kept under lock and key until game time. Want more? Find out why NFL kickers squeeze the ball so hard before kick off.

Give the kids something fun to do on game day by setting up this fun and simple football painting activity with Q-tips @Q-Tips


This fun project comes together fairly quickly. You can do this ahead of game day and display the results at your Super Bowl party, or set this up for the kids to work on during the game. This technique is based on an art technique called Pointillism. If you enjoy this, you can find lots of pointillism inspiration here.

Q-Tip Painting Supplies

  • Q-tips
  • Paper. I used a 100% post-consumer eco-friendly paper called Desert Storm (affiliate). I found a good deal on it at a place called the Paper Mill Store.
  • Pen or Pencil
  • Plate or Palette
  • Washable tempera paint. I used both Colorations and Crayola (affiliate). Both are great!

Super Bowl Pointillism Painting Steps

  • Draw a football shape on a piece of paper. Make it large enough to fill with a variety of dots.
  • Squeeze a few colors of paint onto your palette.
  • Place a Q-tip in each of the colors.
  • Invite your child to fill the football with dots and add their own designs. All colors and combinations should be encouraged!

Fun Q-tip fact: Q-Tips sources paper and packaging from sustainable forests. How cool is that?

And finally…dessert!

Make these easy, no-plate-necessary ice cream pops for the kids. The small size means they won't eat too much (shhhh...) @Magnum

Okay, I might just be saving the best for last. These taste amazing and they are so easy to make!

I couldn’t believe my great fortune when I discovered that Magnum now makes mini-size ice cream pops. Maybe they’ve been around forever? I don’t know, but I’m happy to know exactly where to find them now (Safeway market, in case you have one near you).

My family loves Magnum bars, and even better that the carry them in a mini size — my kids still enjoy ice cream, but without a huge overload of sugar. You’ll want to work quickly since the ice cream melts.

 Super Bowl Ice Cream Pop Supplies

  • Mini Magnum Classic Ice Cream Bars
  • Marshmallow Cream, such as Fluff (affiliate)
  • Sauce bottle with a squeeze tip. I found the tiny sauce bottle at the Container Store.


  • Fill the sauce bottle with marshmallow cream.
  • Working quickly, squeeze a stitch pattern in the middle of the bar. Traditional NFL footballs have eight stitches across, but three is all I could fit!
  • If you don’t eat these right away, of course you’ll want to store them in the freezer until you need them.
  • Yum!

Fun Ice Cream Fact: The first ice cream flavor that was invented after the standard vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate was rocky road (and yum…that’s my favorite flavor!).

Enjoy the game (and go Pats!).

More about Unilever’s green efforts: Unilever is behind many much-loved brands that touch two billion people every day around the world, and a global leader in promoting sustainable living. Sustainable living is already evident in many of the social missions of Unilever.

For eco-friendly Super Bowl ideas, check out my Pinterest board, Green the Game and Unilever’s board HERE.

For more information about Unilver find them HERE: Pinterest – FacebookTwitterInstagram

AND For even more recipes from Unilever go HERE.

Nature Silhouettes

Today’s post is brought to you by Tinkerlab sponsor, Imagine Childhood. I first met Sarah Olmsted, founder of Imagine Childhood, when we  I interviewed her about her book by the same name.  Sarah also has an inspiring shop that outfits children and families for creative adventures. I’m a huge fan of the child-and-earth-friendly supplies that she carries in her shop, and excited to bring you a little piece of  Imagine Childhood magic today.

Read on for more details about a generous discount and a fantastic giveaway opportunity!

Welcome, Sarah!

Nature Silhouettes on Tinkerlab

It can be a challenge sometimes to find a last minute activity for those days when the weather just isn’t cooperating.  From snow and ice to wind and rain, some days, no matter how much of a diehard nature enthusiast you are your only option is indoors.

This simple and fun nature silhouette activity is the perfect fit for just those moments and a great holiday gift idea to boot!

Nature Silhouettes by Imagine Childhood

What you need:

  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Paint
  • Tape (optional)
  • Nature guides (books or websites), house plants, and/or photos from sunny days gone by
  • Frames (optional)

Nature Silhouettes by Imagine Childhood

How to:

  1. Trace: Grab your preferred nature study materials and let the kids pick out their favorite plants and animals. Trace the outlines lightly with a pencil.  If you are doing this from a book, thin paper and dark images with a lot of contrast work best.  If you’re using photographs or images printed from the internet, tape them a window with your paper on top and use the sun to illuminate the images for easy tracing.
  2. House plant option: If you have plants in your house, try placing them in front of a light source and tracing their shadows.
  3. Paint: Once you have your outlines or silhouettes, have fun painting them in.  You could put one silhouette per page, or you could make a composition from a few of them.
  4. Discuss: While the kids are painting, share interesting facts about their plant or animal with them, or maybe even join in on the creative fun!

Nature Silhouettes by Imagine Childhood

Gift Giving Options:

Simple and lovely, these silhouettes look great in a frame or on a postcard blank like this.  If you want to make a particularly special gift I would even opt for a colorful mat inside the frame in a cameo shape to really set off the artwork.

Nature Silhouettes by Imagine Childhood

A Gift For You Too!

Now that you have gifts for your friends and family, we’d like to give a gift to you from Imagine Childhood (total value is $150)!

Today’s giveaway includes:

To enter this generous giveaway, please leave a comment in this post by Wednesday, December 11. The giveaway is open to all readers world-wide. Winner will be chosen by random number generator, and notified shortly after the close of this contest.

One more thing!

Sarah is also offering Tinkerlab readers 10% off all purchases in the Imagine Childhood Shop, with the discount code Tinkerlab, valid through 12/11/13.

Sarah Olmsted HeadshotSarah Olmsted. A former exhibition designer for the Field Museum of Natural History, Sarah is the co-founder of imaginechildhood.comand author of IMAGINE CHILDHOOD: Exploring the World Through Nature, Imagination, and Play.  Keep up with Sarah on her blog, or via Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Is this your first time here? Join the Tinkerlab network and be the first to know about giveaways like this, easy art + science projects for kids, creativity tips, and simple ideas that will make your life more creative. Sign up for our newsletter here.


Creative Table: Leaves and Glue

This post is sponsored by New York Life. One way to pass along good is through Life Lessons: Simple but important truths that guide our everyday actions.

In an effort to help you minimize holiday stress, through the end of the year, we’ll share some of our favorite, simple Creative Table invitations. Today’s set-up was inspired by a parent-led project at my daughter’s preschool.

Two of the things that I adore about today’s creative table are that it’s low-cost and seasonal for Autumn, when fallen leaves are abundant.

The Benefits of “Leaves and Glue”

This activity will help children…

  • develop fine-motor skills
  • learn to work independently
  • build creative confidence through experimentation
  • Encourage creative thinking
  • build an eye for aesthetics by developing a composition
  • develop a broader understanding of upcycling materials (i.e. leaves) as art supplies

Creative Table with Leaves and Glue

Creative Table Supplies: Leaves and Glue

  1. Leaves
  2. Chip board or card board
  3. A sturdy paintbrush
  4. Shallow bowl or plate filled with glue

leaves and glue on paper

Step One: Clear Your Table

Remove any distractions that will take your child’s focus away from the creative invitation. Create a set-up that looks something like our photo (above).

Arrange the leaves artfully to make this appeal to your child’s aesthetic sensibility.

Once the table is “set,” ask your child if he or she would like to use/explore/experiment with these supplies.

leaves and glue painting

Challenges and Critical Thinking

One of the exciting challenges in this prompt relates to gluing down bumpy, twisted, and generally non-compliant leaves. If your child is frustrated by the non-flat quality of your leaves, or has difficulty gluing them down, this is an opportunity to tease out solutions. You could say something like, “Hmmm, I see you’re having trouble attaching the leaf to the paper. What could we do to help it stick better?” From that, ideas such as “add more glue” or “turn the leaf over” might emerge.


  • Replace leaves with paper cut into leaf shapes, circles, rectangles, etc.
  • Tint the glue with a little bit of food coloring or liquid watercolors
  • Before you set up the invitation, go on a leaf hunt together to collect your materials

Join our Active Newsletter

Be sure to subscribe to our useful and fun newsletter if you’d like the inside scoop on more ideas like this, giveaways, exclusive contests, and more.

This post is sponsored by New York Life. One way we pass along good is through Life Lessons: Simple but important truths that guide our everyday actions. You can see all the Life Lessons here and even share one of your own. This short video celebrates the spirit of passing down hobbies through generations.

Summer Camp for Little Innovators: Camp Galileo

Are you thinking about summer camp yet? If you’re super-organized, you may already have a plan in place. And if not, there’s still time! We’re not planning on summer camp this year, but if I was this is where I’d begin…

When I was out for dinner the other night I spotted this awesome poster for Camp Galileo.

Camp Galileo

I don’t know about you, but this is not the summer camp of my childhood!

Power Tools. Innovating. What??

Here’s a snapshot of my summer camp memories: Peeling glue off of my hands all afternoon while drinking gallons of fruit punch that came from a jug of pink powder mixed with water. Hmmm.

Okay, so let me start by saying that Camp Galileo is a San Francisco Bay Area camp. If you’re local, this post is for you. And, there’s a whopping discount code at the end of this post.

If you’re not local, you might still be interested because I bet there’s something similar in your neck of the woods.

camp galileo

In Camp Galileo’s words, this is what children get out of their camps:

They learn how to fail. Not in a humiliating or dispiriting way. But in a self-assured way, that helps turn them into hardy, risk-taking creators and problem-solvers.

I love that!


A camp with a focus on innovation, collaboration, and imagination

Here’s how Camp Galileo describes their programs…

Galileo’s mission is to create a world of fearless innovators. We think kids who learn to explore and fail without fear—the essence of innovation—are happier, more creative and more confident when faced with life’s challenges. Drawing from the innovation process developed by the Stanford, Galileo runs an evolving series of imagination-sparking programs for kids from pre-K through 8th grade.

In pre-K, campers may build a crude xylophone or design a lion mask. By 8th grade, they may program their own video game, design their own fashion line, or breathe life into some creation entirely of their own invention.

The Details

  • Location: Camp Galileo has locations all over the Bay Area
  • Ages: The program is for children in grades pre-K-8. 
  • Promo Code (yes, you can save money on this rad camp!): From now until May 31st, Galileo is offering $25 off your camp registration fee with the code, 2013INNOVATE.
  • Register for Galileo today. And then rest easy knowing that you can check this task off your to-do list.

A question for you…

What’s the most surprising this you remember about summer camp? And are you registering your child for a camp this summer?

I only share content that I love and/or think you’ll find useful. Thanks to Galileo for sponsoring today’s discussion.

Give the Gift of Art

Do you do your holiday shopping online or offline?

I love shopping in little boutiques and arts and crafts fairs, but life with little ones means that I’m generally happiest shopping in my PJ’s, away from the crowds, while dropping items in the virtual shopping carts of some of my favorite online shops.

My Gift Guide

Have you ever given or received the gift of art? Just last week I opened my mailbox to find a surprise care package of art from my bestie in L.A. My heart fluttered and I hung it up right away. One of the best things about the gift of art is that it can come straight from the heart.

Maybe you’d love to give art as a gift, but you don’t know where to shop, or maybe you’re like me and you don’t have endless hours to putter around artist studios. To help you out, I put together seven Gift Guides as a bit of inspiration. If you see something here that you like, click over to my Gift Guide Galleries, place your order, and your art will arrive in time for the holidays. You could also visit and browse their ginormous selection of prints. I own a few pieces from and can vouch for the fast shipping and high quality of the prints and frames.

Bonus: Get 20% off if you place an order now through November 29, 2012 with the code: NJWQ87

Happy Go Lightly

for some extra whimsy and playfulness

happy go lightly curated by tinkerlab from

Cooks in the Kitchen

for chefs and people who love to spend time in the kitchen.

cooks in the kitchen curated by tinkerlab from

Oh so modern

for the streamlined, geometric home. That might be an Eichler.

oh so modern curated by tinkerlab from

Wee Little Ones

for the nursery or new babies.

wee little ones collage curated by tinkerlab from

For the Girls

for girly girls and tough girls — they’ve got you covered.

for the girls curated by tinkerlab from

For the Boys

is for car lovers, robot, and pirates.

for the boys curated by tinkerlab from

Film Buff

for the popcorn-eating, Academy Awards-watching connoisseur.

film buff collage curated by tinkerlab from

This post is sponsored by


Discover the Art You Love

This post is sponsored by favorite artDo you love the art on your walls?

There’s not one thing on my walls that I don’t love for one reason or another, and I’m a huge advocate of filling our homes with the things that make us happy, move us spiritually, or make us think.

We have this dark, little hallway that was begging for something at the end of it. I had all sorts of ideas, but ultimately needed a place to store a collection of favorite family photos and small pieces of art. After pulling a sea of black frames together, I now have a happy collection that includes my smiling grandparents, mother-in-law as a 2-year-old, and my faraway niece and nephew mixed in with art that I love.

Art has this power to transport us to another time or place, make us smile, change a mood, or get us back on track.

I’ll give you some examples from my hallway gallery… favorite art

An artist gave me this piece because I loved it so much. Gave. It. To. Me. Artists are like that.

The wash line and tile roofs in this sweet watercolor garden scene remind me of where I grew up and of the first neighborhood my husband and I dug our heels into in Silver Lake (Los Angeles), which, by the way, was just named America’s Hippest Hipster Neighborhood in Forbes. It’s a cool spot of interestingness that I miss terribly. The Mission in SF and Williamsburg in Brooklyn came in next, in case you’re wondering. favorite art

I found this funny piece by  Jose Pulido on Etsy, and immediately fell in love with these little devils in a battle between good and evil. The skeleton, or Calavera, imagery is everywhere here in California, and this piece makes me think of my mom whose home is filled with Mexican art.

It also reminds me of my roots in printmaking. It’s an original print. See the 11/100 on the left? That means that this was the 11th print he pulled in a series of 100. And after that, there will be no more prints. Some artists scratch the plate out once the last print has been pulled, but I have never been able to bring myself to do that. favorite art

I found this upcycled art book at a gallery in Crockett, CA, right around the corner from my sister’s college. The artist turned old library cards into small, nostalgic paintings. The way she artfully repurposed these antiquated cards remind me of my own desire to upcycle and repurpose whenever I can. This piece is not an original, but it really doesn’t matter because I love looking at it.

If you’re rounding out a developing collection of art or just starting out, consider visiting for its huge selection of images. I’m actually floored by all the thing you can find there.

One of my favorite ways to search is by subject. I happen to adore maps and after a couple clicks I landed on 100’s of city maps. Not exactly what you’d expect from, right? I’m eyeing that Los Angeles map up there (no big surprise, right?). In case you’re wondering where Silverlake is located, you can spot it just above the “S” in Los Angeles.


Working with to help them launch their new site has been such a joy for me. The quantity and diversity of the images on their site is mind-boggling, and having yet another excuse to share my art with you has been fun.

If you’d like to see more of the art in my home, visit these pages:


How we fill our home with art, Part 1 and Part 2

Are you surrounded by art that you love? You’re invited to share an image in a comment, along with a story about why you love it

The Artful Year: Autumn, A New eBook from Jean Van’t Hul

My friend Jean Van’t Hul of The Artful Parent releases her gorgeous new eBook today, The Artful Year: Autumn, the first of a new series of seasonal eBooks under The Artful Parent brand. If you don’t already follow her blog, it’s one of my favorites, and one of the reasons I’m blogging today.

Autumn Fall ebook

I had the pleasure of taking a sneak peek at the results of her hard work, and I can honestly say that if you enjoy celebrating the seasons with your family, you’ll be inspired by every last bit of this book.

As you know, I’m a super hands-on, crafty parent, and this book is filled with lots of new-to-me ideas that are getting me excited to whip out a batch of pumpkin pie spice mix (recipe included in the book) and make a batch of Jack-O’-Lantern Playdough (recipe included for this as well). Um, our playdough smells like candy canes, so we’re definitely in need of a seasonal facelift.

The 78-page book includes 17 Autumn Leaf Crafts, 15 Halloween crafts, 7 Autumn Recipes, and 5 Thanksgiving Projects. It’s full of clear, beautiful photographs and the instructions for each of the projects are easy to understand and well-researched.

Here’s a quick visual tour of some of the autumn goodness…

Plaster Leaf Casts

Coffee Filter Spiderwebs. Just like snowflakes — this is genius!

Apple-Cheddar Hand Pies. I’m a fan of apple pie, and have always wanted to make one with cheddar cheese — super excited about this one. Not to mention the on-the-go, individual quality of hand pies. Love this!

And one of my “art vs. craft” favorites: Not-a-hand Turkeys, where Jean gives some tips on how to draw a turkey from observation, moving children away from the rote hand turkeys we’ve all made.

More of the crafts, decorations, and recipes that you’ll find inside:

  • Yarn spider webs
  • Thankful stones
  • Painted paper leaves
  • Fall Scavenger Hunt
  • Cardboard haunted houses
  • Felt Bat Garland (we made these last year)
  • Pumpkin-oat scones

The book is beautifully organized, and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do. If you’d like to order your own copy for just $9.99, click here to visit Jean Vant Hul. Just think, if you did each of the the 40+ activities in this book, that’s just 25 cents/project.

Happy almost-Fall!

Tinkerlab shares affiliate links for products we adore and/or think you’ll find useful. If you purchase through those links we’ll receive a small percentage of the sale, which help keep our inspiration-engine running. Thanks for your support!