Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Safety Tats

This is the first product that I am reviewing that I have not yet purchased. These are temporary tattoos for kiddos that were originally designed by a mom. The originals have cute pictures with "If lost call" and you could order them with your phone number inserted on them. This way if your child ever gets separated from you authorities will know who to call. Now they make blank ones that you can write your number on (with a special pen), ones for food allergies (how cool is that?), and new ones for Halloween. They are applied and removed just like normal temporary tattoos.

I know that as soon as Ethan can walk around with out holding my hand (sooner than I think, I know) these will come in handy at big public events that we attend. Especially since he will want to run around way before he will know his own phone number. I know my mom would have loved to have these when my sister got lost at a parade during Mardi Gras. We found her unharmed after just a few minutes, but those were some stressful minutes! I also know plenty of friends whose kiddlets have food allergies and these can come in handy when the kids go away to camp or to a birthday party without you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Shutterfly.com, 5 Stars

About a year ago I had a few friends over to scrap book. I had never scrapbooked before but I figured I would give it a try since I had made 12 pages at a stamping night with my friend Michele. It was quite frankly a nightmare. My two friends had a blast, but I was left sitting there not knowing what picture to put where, what cute embellishments to use, or how I should trim my pictures down to make them look cute. Enter Shutterfly.com!

Shutterfly is perfect for perfectionists like me who want each page to look as cute as possible but don't have the creativity or craftiness to make it so. They have online scrapbooks already built that you just drag and drop pictures into. Then you can zoom the picture in or out depending on the size of the box. You can also add captions to the pictures. There are many different page layouts for each different themed book. As you work on your project (or finish one) you can share the project with your friends and family online and they can order copies for themselves.

Since the digital era have you noticed that you have less actual pictures around your house? One of Philip's great aunts gave us wise advice when Ethan was born. Her exact quote was, "When you are old and gray, you are going to want to be able to flip through an actual album, not sit in front of a computer screen." With Shutterfly you can order individual prints in a variety of sizes, or you can get a package plan and use up the prints over time. You can even order pictures to be printed at a local Target photo studio.

What I also (most recently) love about Shutterfly is that this summer they gave away 15 4x6" prints for every one print you uploaded for up to 75 free prints a week for about 4 weeks. Philip and I racked up over 200 free prints this summer and now we are having a hard time "spending" them all!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Popsicle molds: 4 Stars

My mom use to always make homemade kool-aid popsicles in the summer time. I think she had a tupperware version of these popsicle molds. Well recently I found these at Wal-mart and made some blueberry yogurt pops for Ethan. They were really easy. I just used my food processor to blend the blueberries into a slurry and added vanilla yogurt. The proof is in the picture:

He loves them! I know summer is almost over, but maybe you can find some of these molds for sale in the upcoming months. I also have a chocolate pudding pop recipe, but I haven't tried it out yet.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Kitchen Aid Professional 5 Mixer

7 pounds of mashed potatoes, 10 dozen cookies, and 6 loaves of white bread. What do these all have in common? They can fit in the bowl of my mixer! Granted, I've never actually made 6 loaves of white bread, but I have made plenty of cookies, mashed potatoes, cakes, icing to go on cakes, and even divinity in my mixer. I remember trying to make my family's molasses crinkles one year with a hand mixer and thinking the poor thing was going to give out at any second. I don't even think I got to finish mixing the dough with the hand held, but when I made it in this mixer the planetary motion had no problem with this firm sticky dough.

I own the 5 quart stand mixer by Kitchen Aid that has 10 speeds and an attachment port that drives my meat grinder. I also don't grind meat, but I can make a mean cranberry relish! I used to have the "salad shooter" attachment but then I got my food processor and didn't really need the attachment any more. I did see Mario Batli rave about the pasta attachment on Oprah the other day and he has peaked my interest. It would be cool to make my own pasta right before dinner.

For other products I have deducted a star for price but not for this product! Now I hear some of you out there thinking, "But it's so expensive!" I agree that this mixer is probably more expensive than most other stand mixers out there on the market, but I have some thoughts about that. The best thing to do is get this item as a wedding present, but alas, some of us are past that point. First of all, if you are thinking of purchasing this mixer I advise you to wait for a sale. Not just any sale, but a really good one. I bought mine for at least $100 off retail at Kohl's right after Christmas. Secondly, I would say that for all the other mixers you will buy in your lifetime, you could just invest in one really good mixer. I'm writing this post not because of Mario and Oprah, but because my mom just texted me that her mixer died and she wanted to know what kind I had. Kitchen Aid, baby!

I know some friends who have the tilt head version (my "good" friend Alton Brown) and I really think the only difference is that on the stand mixer you do have to take the beater off to remove the bowl. I would take the beater off anyway in most cases, so this does not bother me. I also didn't want the tilt head because I like my mixer to sit way back on the counter under the cabinets, and if I had the tilt version I would need to pull the mixer out to be able to tilt it. I do still own a hand held mixer (I wonder where it is?) but I can't remember the last time I needed it.

"Gossie" books by Olivier Dunrea, 4 Stars

I first picked up these books on a whim at the library. The illustrations were simple as was the text. I brought home about five in the series and immediately fell in love with them. Ethan now owns both of the board books shown (today we bought Gossie & Gertie) as well as the flip book, "Gossie's Busy Day". I am against kiddlets destroying books, so he has not yet got to play with the flip book.

As far as Gossie is concerned, I now know the book by heart. "This is Gossie. Gossie is gosling. Gossie is a small yellow gosling who likes to where bright red boots. Every day." Through out this book Gossie wears her bright red boots through several activities that highlight opposites. At the end of the book she meets her new friend Gertie. Throughout the series you meet new characters like Ollie who does not want to come out of his shell or Peedie who has a bright red hat.

I love Dunrea's stories because they have few words on each page and all of the stories I've read so far have a phrase that is repeated through out the book.

Do you have a book or author that your kids love? Send me your reviews and see them posted here!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

LeapFrog Fridge Farm Magnetic Animal Set, 4 Stars

I really believe that Ethan knows what a cow and sheep say because of this toy! It is so cute. Each of the five animals have a front and a back. If you make a match you hear a song that says, "You made a match, look what you found. You made a match hear a ____ sound. (and then that sound)". What I really like is when you don't make a match. Instead of the farm saying no or you are wrong it sings, "You put a pig in front and a cow behind. Put them together, and what do you find? A pig/cow? That's silly!" I'm not afraid of Ethan being told he is wrong, but at this age does it is neat to reward him for just getting two of the pieces in the farm!

It will also tell you facts about the animals and make the animal sound every time a new piece is put in the farm.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Favorite Blogs!!

My friend Betsy (who I mention often on this blog) has given me a blog award! Wow, I'm honored! I read a whole list of blogs every week but, here are my top three for moms:
  1. JonZReaTom - My friend Allison had quads two years ago. She is a christian mom who we could all learn a lot from. Her kiddlets are a year older than Ethan so it is fun to get a glimpse into my future (big kid beds, etc.).
  2. full tummies is Betsy's food blog. Every Tuesday for the last couple of weeks she has posted an entire week's menu for her three toddlers. Talk about tons of ideas! She also features great recipes for the whole family.
  3. GoodyBlog - This is Parent's magazine's blog. Although they sometimes express ideas that I do not agree with (like the entry on Palin), they do find cool websites, crafts, and products.
Thanks again Betsy!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Crayon Wheel, 4 Stars

This was one of Ethan's birthday gifts. I think it is so cool! No matter which way he holds it (except for horizontal) it draws a color! What is even cooler is that he has not tried to eat it, which is what he does for every other crayon. The only draw back is I'm not sure where my friend Laura got it. Maybe she will leave a comment and tell us. Here is a picture of Ethan coloring with a twistable crayola crayon (which I also love), but he did use the wheel too.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Potty Power DVD, 5 Stars

This is another from Janet (if you have a product that you would like to review just send it to me!):
There are dozens of videos out there to help your child learn to potty, but this one is wonderful because it has real children in it instead of animated characters. They sing songs to help your child learn about being a big kid, sitting on a potty, using toilet paper, and washing your hands. The kids loved it and it was much easier on the parents to listen to this versus Elmo singing about going potty.

Fisher Price Royal Potty, Two Stars

This is a post from my friend Janet:
While you might think a potty that plays a tune every time your child goes potty would be a great idea, it didn't work so well in our house. Both of my kids would sit down and start going, then get startled by the music and stop what they were doing. A little potty that sits on the floor is a great way to introduce your child to going to the bathroom, but we ended up just using the plain plastic potty from Wal-mart with no bells or whistles.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Nuby Sippy Cups, 2 Stars

I have had these "No-spill cups with Soft Silicone Spout and Handle" for about five months and at first I was pretty happy with them. They made it really easy for Ethan to transition from Avent bottles (which have a silicone nipple) to drinking out of a sippy cup. A mom at Stroller Strides saw Ethan with this cup and commented that she hated them and that she had written a letter to the company complaining about how they leak all the time! I was really shocked because I thought they were really nice.

Over the last month or so my opinion has really changed! Not only do they leak like mad when placed upside down (leading me to bar them from my vehicle), but one of the nipples now has broken apart. I guess you can buy replacement nipples, but I will not be making that investment. Overall they did make the transition easier, but I will not be buying any more of these cups!

I know that Nuby makes other models and I am interested to see what other moms think of these cups and their kin. Also, if anyone is willing to buy the spout replacements I have three cups that you can have!


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