How to make great camping memories with your kids

The great outdoors are a great way to unplug and reconnect with a family. Why not extend that hike you had planned and turn it into a camping adventure? Camping with kids isn’t as hard as some think. With the right planning, it can be a whole lot of fun too!


1. Pick your site with the help of your kids.

Give them a few options that are in areas that you are interested in and go over some of the things that they can see and do at each one of the different campsites. They will be more eager to head out if they are a part of the decision process.

2. Pack for ALL weather.

We all know that the weather forecasters don’t get it right every day and Mother Nature has lots of tricks up her sleeves. Even though it is hot, rain may come in heavy and fast and little Johnny is going to be miserable if he doesn’t have warm, dry clothes to change into. If it is cold, pack lots of layers so you can let go of them one at a time as you warm up from the activity or the sun beating down on you.

3. Flashlights, batteries and extra batteries are a necessity.

Besides the obvious reason of using flashlights for safety reasons, they are also the one thing that may help your child feel more at peace when the sun goes down. The dark can be scary enough in their own comfortable bedroom but add in the sounds of the great outdoors and knowing that there could be wild animals lurking about…well, it can make for a rough bedtime. Let them know that it is okay to keep a flashlight next to them as they sleep. Allow them to fall asleep with a smaller flashlight left on like a nightlight. You’ll all get a good night’s rest and be up for another day of adventure.

4. Pack delicious not tasteless camp food.

Pack things that you know your kids will love to snack on in a dry container and a cooler. Head over to Pinterest and find some amazing campfire recipes. You don’t have to settle for hot dogs and beans (unless you want to). Let your kids pick one meal and help you pack everything that you’ll need to cook it. They’ll learn what goes into packing and planning and feel a part of it all.

5. Bring some comforts of home.

Allow your kids to pack a few small toys and some games you can play in/and or out of your tent before bedtime. They can not only help with, “I’m bored!” but they can also calm them from a day of a lot of activity and fun.


Take some time to go over the rules to keep everyone safe but remember that you are out there to make memories that will last a lifetime. Play, laugh and remember what it was like to be a kid yourself. Make it an adventure that they will remember with fondness. Make it an adventure they will want to do again and again.

What do you love about camping? 

10 Road Trip Songs To Keep You Moving

Last week we shared 6 Road Trip Tips with you and then we all started talking about songs that we love to listen to while we beat feet out of town. Music makes the miles go by a lot faster.

Start downloading now! You’re going to have a lot of fun!

10 road trip songs
1. Life Is A Highway  - Rascal Flatts

2. Where The Streets Have No Name – U2

3. Born To Be Wild – Steppenwolf

4. I’ve Been Everywhere – Johnny Cash

5. Road To Nowhere – Talking Heads

6. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

7.Runnin’ Down A Dream – Tom Petty

8. Hotel California – The Eagles

9. Running on Empty – Jackson Browne


10. One Love – Bob Marley

You’re thinking about what you’re going to pack and where you’re going to head right now, aren’t you? Us too!
What are some of your favorite songs to listen to on a road trip?
Bonus tip! Record you & your family singing along and relive the moments on Familiar!

6 Road Trip Tips

It’s the time of year when we throw beach blankets, towels, suitcases and more in the backs of our cars and head out on a road trip. How many of us have heard (or asked), “Are we there yet?!” Here are some tips to keep your trip more comfortable and safe for everyone.


1. Bring a paper map. Did we just hear you laugh? We’re being serious. You never know if your GPS or smart phone will lose its signal. When you take the path less traveled to get away from the noise, so do your electronics.

2. Check your tire pressure. Fully inflated tires are not only safer, they are more fuel efficient. You can improve your gas mileage up to 3.3% by keeping the proper pressure. That means you’ll have a little extra cash for that drink with the pink umbrella.

3. Have emergency roadside items in your trunk. If you should break down, you want to give drivers plenty of notice to make them aware of your vehicle. Break out those emergency flares and/or cones and put them out carefully to warn drivers of your spot along the road. DO NOT STAND BY YOUR CAR WHILE YOU WAIT FOR HELP. Either move to a safe place (like behind a guardrail), or sit buckled in your car until help arrives. Should you choose to work on your car, do your best to stay out of traffic.

4. Keep your GPS & smart phone charger handy. Stay safe and keep your eyes on the road. You shouldn’t be digging around and trying to reach for that cord that you think is just in your reach. It only takes a second for something bad to happen.

5. DO NOT FIGHT SLEEP. Be safe and just pull over. You do not want to hurt anyone in your car or anyone else’s. Plan ahead before you go and look for places that you can rest. Make note of rest stops and hotels and take the time to take care of yourself.

6. Stay on your regular eating schedule. Road trips are no fun if you and/or your passengers are grumpy and hungry. Also, it’s not safe to be behind the steering wheel when your blood sugar is low. Eat when you would normally eat and keep plenty of healthy snacks in reach that everyone in the car enjoys.

What road trip tip would you like to share that will help keep our readers comfortable and safe when they head out next?

5 Recipes to Keep Cool on a Hot Day

This summer has had some record breaking heat! The last place a lot of us want to be is in a hot kitchen preparing meals that have steam coming off of them when we finally get to sit down to eat. So, to keep things cool we’ve put together a list of 5 recipes that not only taste great chilled but require little prep in front of the stove (if at all).


Watermelon, Feta & Basil Salad


4 cups chopped watermelon

1/2 cup (or more) crumbled feta

Fresh basil, chopped

Drizzle with your favorite balsamic dressing

Chicken Salad With Grapes, Cashews, Apples & Fresh Dill


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, boiled, diced

1 cup seedless red grapes, each cut in half

1 cup salted cashews

1 small Gala apple, finely diced

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup finely chopped green onions

1/2 to 1 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

Juice of 1 lime (1 to 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill

Salt and pepper to taste

In large bowl, stir together all ingredients until well mixed, adding salt and pepper to taste. Tastes best after being chilled for an hour.

Edamame, Corn & Black Bean Salad


  • 1 pound of shelled edamame

  • 2 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed

  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed

  • 1 sweet bell pepper (not green)

  • 1 small red onion, chopped

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup  fresh cilantro, chopped

  • 3 tablespoons lime juice

  • 2 teaspoon olive oil

  • 1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (or more depending on your taste)

  • salt & pepper to taste

Mix everything in a bowl and chill for a few hours or overnight in the fridge.

Deviled Shrimp Pasta Salad


1 1/2 lb freshly steamed, peeled shrimp (or do it easy with Trader Joe’s frozen pre-cooked shrimp)

1 stalk celery, diced

1/4 cup diced onion

8 oz cooked, small pasta


3 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons Old Bay

1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the mixture and stir to coat. Sprinkle with seasonings and fold to distribute evenly.

Snickers Caramel Apple Salad



  1. Whisk vanilla pudding packet, 1/2 cup milk and cool whip together until well combined.

  2. Chop up apples and Snickers into bite size pieces.

  3. Stir chopped apples and Snickers into pudding mixture.

  4. Place in a large bowl and drizzle with caramel ice cream topping.

  5. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

What is your favorite dish to eat on a hot day?


Summer Boredom Busters

This summer is going by so quickly! Thankfully, there’s still time left before the kids go back to school. Plenty of time to create memories as a family.

But if you are out of ideas for kids’ activities, we found some inspiration that will stop the I’m bored’s in their tracks.

kids crafts

Whether you hit the beach this summer or just dream of a beach getaway, Tip Junkie plenty of beach crafts to try with 21 Fun Beach Crafts for kids. We especially like the hand and footprint lobster craft- such a great project to save and watch how the kids grow!

If you have a child who is on a monsters kick thanks to the Monsters U movie, you can create your own rock monsters with this simple craft from Free Kids Crafts.

Not every game is electronic! Bring back some old school family time by playing a board game. Living Well, Spending Less has a list of top 10 family board games to play during a family game night. You’ll recognize a few from childhood but there are some new board games as well.

Parenting can be a messy job, so why not embrace it? Mess for Less has a list of 10 Ways to Enjoy Messy Play this Summer. You can always rinse the kids off with the sprinkler when they are done!

Running through the sprinkler can occupy the kids for a little while, but if you are looking for ways to extend water play, Childhood101 has 10 water activities for kids.

If you need a little quiet after all these activities, Holistic Homemaking has ideas for a quiet time bin for every day of the week. Peace and quiet delivered in a plastic shoebox. We’ll try it!

Also check out our 4 ways to make fun, inexpensive family memories.

6 Fun Apps for Kids

The best kids apps

We’re midway through summer and it is hot pretty much everywhere! As much as we would love to keep the kids outside all day in the fresh air, humidity and stormy weather don’t always agree (nor do cranky, tired kids). So to help break up the outdoor fun and the inside activities, we came up with 6 fun apps for kids that will keep everyone happy.

Doodle Jump – for ages 4+

Familiar Doodle Jump
There is so much to love about Doodle Jump. Everyone loves an adventure and this app is full of them. There are 9 different worlds to play in like Space, Jungle, Soccer, Underwater, Snow, Halloween, Ice, Easter, and Ninja. They will move their way up a sheet of graph paper, jumping from one platform to the next, picking up jet packs, avoiding black holes, and blasting baddies with nose balls along the way. Don’t be surprised if you start “helping” them and having fun right beside them.Flow Free – for ages 4+

Puzzles are not only a lot of fun but they are also exercise for your brain. Your kids will have so much fun on Flow Free that they won’t even realize they are working their brain. In this app, you connect matching colors with pipe to create a flow. The object is to pair all colors and cover the entire board to solve each puzzle. But watch out, pipes will break if they cross or overlap!

Lazoo: Squiggles! for iPad – for ages 4+

Familiar Lazoo Squiggles App

The magic of Lazoo will turn a child’s simple hand-drawn squiggle into a bird’s nest, rocket smoke, cotton candy, sheep’s wool, a curly beard, and more! Simply squiggle away to complete Lazoo’s internationally award-winning art. Then hit the GO button and watch drawings soar, pulsate, move, twirl, and multiply. You can also save your child’s creations in the app, then upload them to Lazoo’s secure digital treasure chest or email them to family and friends.

Little Fox Music Box – for ages 4+
Familiar Little Fox Music Box
For the child that loves to sing or have fun with this music, this app has it all! Your child cannot only learn popular kids songs but play and record their own with over 100 interactive elements in the sound studio. There is even a Karaoke mode. Let their inner star shine and build their confidence!

Sushi Monster – for ages 4+
Familiar Sushi Monster app
Scholastic created this app to practice, reinforce, and extend math fact fluency in children. It is challenging and fun at the same time. Just what you need when it comes to learning math!Your child will tackle whole number addition and multiplication by helping monsters make a target sum or product. They will earn points with each correct answer and stars and trophies as they continue to challenge themselves among the 7 addition levels, 5 multiplication levels and 4 rounds in each level. They can replay each round with new numbers and keep building their math skills while having a blast!

Despicable Me: Minion Rush – for all ages

Who doesn’t love Gru’s loyal, yellow, gibberish-speaking Minions? They are about to face their toughest challenge in this app and your child gets to be one of them. Try to win Gru’s attention and adoration by jumping, flying, dodging obstacles, collecting bananas, being mischievous, and defeating villains to earn the title of Minion of the Year! There are hundreds of missions and just as many funny Minion moments. You can also customize your Minion with unique costumes, weapons, and power-ups.


The next time your child tells you that they’re bored or it is just too yucky to play outside, let them have a little time on one of these apps. They’ll be grateful- and so will you!

Familiar App Makes A Major Shift with Launch of Video Feature and Automatic Personalization

We here at Familiar are extraordinarily pleased to make a huge announcement. Beginning today, we will undertake a major shift in business direction, one that we believe puts us on an unprecedented path and will bring you a product that is better than ever.

We’re introducing the 21st century photo frame – a new design that brings to life your best memories on all your screens. Here is a short video of the new Familiar!

Demo – New Familiar from Familiar App on Vimeo.

The new Familiar includes video, a new mobile experience, and 3rd party integration with popular services like Facebook, Instagram and more.  From the beginning our goal has been to help you re-experience your best memories. And with our latest update, Familiar will bring those moments to life on your screen.

The new Familiar is more delightful, flexible, and makes your screen more active and social.

We’re excited to share it with you. We think you’re going to love it.

- Marcus CEO & Co-founder, Familiar

Read the full press release: 

New Revamped App Introduces the 21st Century Photo Frame

Seattle, WA (June 26, 2013) – Familiar announced today major developments that signal the start of a new chapter in the company’s evolution, intended to advance it beyond the photo category.

The company has debuted an entirely revamped app that emphasizes customized viewing experiences integrated with video. (To see a 65-second demo of the new app, click here. For a two-minute demo, click here).

The new app introduces the concept of the 21st century photo frame. This innovation means any idle screen — a desktop, laptop, mobile device or tablet – can play a customized stream of videos and photos in a continuous, always-on format, much like a desktop screensaver.

Familiar is the only company integrating videos with photos in a “screensaver” display format.

The app also introduces Familiar’s proprietary personalization feature, which delivers a tailored viewing experience made up of each user’s favorite memories. Familiar learns a user’s preferences as he or she interacts with the app, by commenting on photos and videos for example. The app then displays a sequence of video and photos for that user that feature the people, places, and events that that user most likely wants to see.

“Familiar is literally the world’s first and only video screensaver for desktop and tablets,” said Hadi Partovi, a Familiar investor known for his early stakes in Facebook, Dropbox, and Zappos. “It’s an eye-catching and addictive experience, and is poised to disrupt the multi-billion-dollar traditional picture frame business.”

The key specific changes introduced in the new app are:

  • Video: users can now pick their favorite videos (from their phone, desktop, or popular photo-sharing services such as Facebook, Flickr or Instagram), to be braided together with their photos in a viewing sequence. The app displays 20 second snippets of video clips interspersed with photos, but users can always stop the stream by tapping and enjoy a full two minutes of the video.

  • Mobile Viewing: A revamped mobile experience displays photos and videos in an always-on playback mode. Rather than putting away their mobile phones and tablets when charging, users can now enjoy them as a 21st century photo frame. The revamped mobile app is available for iPhone and iPad now, and will be available for Android within the next several weeks.

  • 3rd Party Integration: Familiar offers integration with the most popular photo and video services – Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Google’s Picasa.  Photos on those services can be synchronized to Familiar so users can relive their best memories no matter where they are stored online.

“The Familiar experience is about customizing a screen or viewing channel for each individual,” said Familiar CEO Marcus Womack. “We want every idle screen to be a window for people to relive and enjoy their best memories through the images and videos that capture those moments.”

About Familiar

Familiar turns every screen into a 21st century photo frame directly connected to family and friends. With Familiar, the best and cherished memories are displayed on the screens of loved ones into a customized channel. It’s simple: capture a moment and send it directly to the screens of your private network.

Familiar works with popular photo sharing services: Facebook, Instagram, iPhoto, Picasa and more. And it works across all devices – computers, tablets and smartphones – and platforms – Windows PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, and Kindle Fire.

7 photo memories to capture this summer


As parents, we are often too busy keeping an eye on everyone making sure that they are safe and not getting into trouble to reach for the camera. Often, we make time for posed pictures but not so much for those random ones that actually capture the feeling of the moment.

Familiar photo opp girl on boat

There are lots of fun moments while out on the water but what about the calm and quiet ones. Hold onto the beautiful moments like this one. Ponder over what your child is imagining or thinking.
Familiar photo opp giraffe
When you make the family trip to the zoo, find their favorite animal and aim for a great shot. Surprise them and give them a framed photo to display on their dresser, desk or wall. You will not only remind them of the day of fun they had at the zoo but that you took the time to do something special for them.
Familiar photo opp face painting
Headed out to a local or state fair? Face painting is fun for all ages but sitting still for kids is not an easy thing to do. This is one time where they are not only able but willing. Capture their face before they even have a chance to see it and remember the excitement that was building up as they sat as still as a statue.
Familiar photo opp park fun
It’s not always being the smallest and/or youngest in the family. Sometimes the big kids are yards in front of you in the blink of an eye. Don’t miss the moments where your little one is trying to keep up with the big ones.
Familiar photo opp dog in pool
They don’t call them the Dog Days of Summer for nothing. Pick up your camera and get a great shot of your furry friends enjoying their summer fun too. Who doesn’t get a smile on their face while scrolling through their photos and landing upon their pet having a blast…especially in the winter when there is a foot of snow on the ground?!
Familiar photo opp sand heart
Be sure to hold onto those moments when romance stops time. If you find yourself doodling in the sand with a heart, initials or a note to a loved one, take a photo. The wind, rain and waves may erase it from the beach but you will always have it captured in a photo.
Familiar photo opp washington monument
Why not capture a scene from your each of your summer vacations and dedicate a wall in your home to them? As you walk by, you will be reminded of all the fun and crazy that comes along with a family trip.
Just remember, photos don’t have to be posed and planned. Some of the best are of moments that we are least expecting.
Don’t forget to use Familiar to view all of your best and cherished memories even after summer is over. Don’t have a free account? Sign up now via web, iTunes or Google Play!

Sign up for Familiar, the 21st Century Photo Frame, for FREE!Learn More