Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Good Stuff - July

Holy crap, it's already the end of July? Ginger had croup last week so I was out of commission all week and suddenly the month is over! (And I'm off to see George Michael tonight!) This month's good stuff is admittedly unbalanced; I guess I haven't been shopping for the kids much. But here are a couple of fun things for your perusal. Sit back and have a Good Stuff moment.

Grown-up Good Stuff

World Wide Fred - I don't even know how to describe or sum up this ultra funky quirky Rhode Island home products company. Neither do they. It all started when I saw Chopstick Kids in the Old Forge Hardware Store; I didn't buy any then but made a note of the company to look up later; it looked like stuff I could get into. And sure enough it's like Pandora's Box of cool stuff I don't need but want to buy for other people as awesome gifts. I don't even know what to highlight, there are so many interesting things. Some are kind of gross and immature like Stuck Up wad-of-gum-looking magnets while others are just fun and useful like the Equal Measure measuring cup. I also like the How Tie, the Tooth, Borrow My Pen, Batterfinger, and the To-Do Tattoo, just to name a few. Let me know what you like on here. This is definitely the place to go next time you don't know what to get someone!

GasBuddy.com - You go to the website, type in your zip code, and it tells you where the cheapest gas is near you. Must be working, too, because I typed in my zip code and found that the two cheapest stations nearby ($3.83 and $3.93) sold out of regular last night.

Woman's Day Month of Menus - At our family reunion in June Tona's cabin had a stack of old magazines on an end table that I found myself flipping through a couple of times. Two of the magazines - a Woman's Day and a Good Housekeeping - had so many good recipes I wanted to try that I brought them home for further inspection. Nothing against them, but I've never spent much time going through magazines like that before, though of course I find that I am now the target audience. There were some great articles and tips (I skipped Dr. Phil's secrets of a great marriage on principle, though it was probably good too), but the recipes really hooked me. I especially loved that Woman's Day had a calendar page with literally a month of menus - a quick meal description on each day that could be whipped up without a long recipe. For example, "Chicken drumsticks brushed with orange marmalade and sprinkled with chili powder, baked until done. Serve with steamed broccoli and squeezed lemon." Easy but I might not have thought of it on my own. Every Sunday meal is big with the intention of using leftovers later in the week, and every Monday is meatless. They do it every month, factor in seasonal ingredients and the best part is you can get them online without buying the magazine. As always I'm trying to expand my cooking repertoire but it's too tiring to try long new recipes every night. I am printing off and checking these Months of Menus for quick and easy family-friendly ideas to mix in with our regulars.

Jungle Speed - Dave brought this to the reunion. I was hesitant because my reflexes are shot in general and even worse late at night when we play games. But one night all 4 siblings and 4 spouses found ourselves around Maren's kitchen table ready to play a game. Dave whipped it out and I admit it was awesome fun, especially with so many players. An abbreviated game description: Jungle Speed requires a steady hand - which can be hard to maintain during the many fits of maniacal laughter. The wooden Totem sits in the middle of the table, waiting for the player with the fastest reflexes to snatch it up and win the game. Each turn, all of the players reveal one of their cards. If two cards are identical, those players must make a grab for the Totem. The faster player then gives their cards to their unfortunate adversary. To add to the difficulty, certain cards are almost identical, which can trick a hapless player into grabbing the Totem by mistake - a grave error. Other cards force all players to make a grab at once, change the method of play, or otherwise add to the difficulty.

Archer Farms Multigrain Cereal - Archer Farms strikes again! This time they drew me in with their sleek new packaging. I used to buy their Blueberry & Flaxseed Granola all the time - it's delicious - but this time I was checking for something lower in fat and high in fiber. Simply named Multigrain Cereal has 190 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 10 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber per 1 cup serving (none of this 1/2-cup serving size you find on some cereals). That's only 3 Weight Watchers points for those of you wondering. Plus it's totally yummy - puffed wheat, kamut, millet, brown rice & oats so it's kind of granola-ish but lightly sweetened with honey and molasses and lacking the weight and fat of typical granola.

Kid Good Stuff

Grandpa's Dollhouse - In the late 1970's my Grandpa Younce built this gorgeous, solid dollhouse for me and my sisters, then loaded it into his car and drove it from Oregon to Virginia. For years and years we played with it, then as we got older my parents carefully stored it. About 6 or 7 years ago they moved it up to Tona's house in Massachusetts for my niece Halle. And now it has been passed to us. Mom and Dad brought it over last week, with a bag full of furniture, and one or both girls sit and play with it at least once a day. Of course Ginger likes to climb on it but also watches Hazel arrange furniture and interact the dolls, and is beginning to imitate her. There seems nothing more natural for children to do than play with a doll house, practicing and playing out the things they are experiencing in their own lives. It warms my heart to see my girls playing with the same one that captured my imagination 30 years ago.

Fine Art for Kids from Oopsy Daisy - Parent conceived and owned, this collection of over 60o pieces by more than 50 artists is full of creative, whimsical, modern and unusual art for children. I have been totally focused on home decor and design this month, trying to set ourselves up, and carefully considering options for the blank walls in Hazel's room and other places around the house. Naturally the art is not cheap but it's ok because as I save up I need the time to decide what to get. Hazel is interested in maps and they have several to choose from. Plus a portion of profits go to charities that assist children. Here are a few, but not all, of my favorites:

Pop Garden by Andrea Cobb

Exploring the World from A to Z by Jenny Kostecki

Oh Say Can You See by Jill McDonald

Kite Day by Libby Ellis

For the girls this month it's been all about the new back yard! Favorites are:

Stone Temples...
...and planting flowers!


Nells-Bells said...

Love all this stuff! I especially loved your recommendations from Worldwide Fred. I even blogged about one of them. Love that dollhouse too! Can't believe it was handmade. It is AMAZING! I'm glad you are settling in to your new place.

Koa Mama said...

When Kaleigh saw the photo of Hazel and Ginger with the dollhouse, she wanted Hazel to turn around. She kept telling Chris to turn her around. We had to explain to her that it doesn't work that way.

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