Friday, January 29, 2010

Monkeying around - Dabbawalla lunch bag

I have many items in my brain that I want to tell you about, and haven't been very diligent.  I got a link to that had some new styles of lunch bags.  Then I remembered that I wanted to tell you about #4's new lunch bag that she got for the holidays.  It's by Dabbawalla and my little one picked the  Monkey See Monkey Do style.  There are 6 choices that are so adorable; ladybug, apple, chicken, watermelon and a cow.

There are many things that makes this a great lunch bag for us.  It's neoprene, so insulates well.  The handle is easy for kids and parents to hold.  There is a front and back pouch that can hold many things from papers to snacks.  The style is adorable, it's easy to clean and it holds a lot.  We use a small Klean Kanteen, a sandwich in a Wrap-n-mat and 2 metal containers from Kids Konserve and there's room to spare!

If my drawers and cupboards could speak they'd tell you about the assortment of lunch bags and items that we've collected over the years.  I want function without sacrificing quality or style.  These Dabbawalla bags do the trick.  In the past I've done  Laptop Lunches (not so cute and the lunchbox broke),   Built Munchlers (super cute, but too small), Herobags (great size, and style, but not insualted.  #2 likes this one), and Kids Konserve (we love the metal containers and their customer service, but the bag doesn't hold up well to dirt or washing)

Have you found something you'd like to share?  I'm always looking for more good ideas and products.  Just ask my cupboards and kids :)

I paid $29.95 at  Amazon has them for $37.95.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A camping we will go - Camp Caddy Portable Organizer

We are serious car campers!  We try to add a couple of "cool" very useful items per year.  We drive a big truck with packs on top and sometimes off the back.  We added the Camp Caddy in 2004 and have been getting "oohs" and "aahs" ever since.

In my opinion, the most useful thing the Camp Caddy does is hold a garbage bag.  "What" you say?  "Hold a garbage bag"?  Well, if you've ever car camped and tried to hook your trash bag to a nail or a tree or a table without it falling over or ripping, you'll appreciate how useful this is.  In addition to holding a trash bag, it holds paper towels, condiments AND a lantern.

I know of two camping friends we've camped with that have added this to their repertoire  of camping gear because they see it's value.  This handy item can clamp to most picnic benches.  If the bench happens to be too thick, it comes with a different bottom to pound into the ground.  It's height is adjustable and compactly is put away into a nylon draw string bag.

We originally purchased ours from Cabela's for $30.  I do not believe they are still selling it.  In doing a search, I came upon A Happy Camper who has it for $20 (not including shipping) and The Camping Station where it is currently $29 (again, no shipping included).  Check it out, you won't be sorry.

One note is if you need to use the ground stake to hold your Caddy up, pound it in before you attach the other levels.  If you pound it in when it is assembled, the pieces will stick together.  Just ask my husband, he'll tell you it's a pain to separate them when this is done.

Happy Camping.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

magnetizing - Magna Tiles set

 These are by far one of the best, most versatile (age and creativity) toy I have EVER purchased.  In the day and age of purging plastic, I will NEVER get rid of these.  Our original set of Magna Tiles was purchased as a gift for my then 3, and 1 1/2 year old kids from their "new" (now 6) baby sister.  We have since added another set to enable bigger structures and more kids playing at a time.

Magna-Tiles have internal magnets that connect the shapes together.  They can stack, make 3-d shapes and so much more.  Similar to the previously blogged Kapla blocks, my kids have built buildings, aircraft carriers, ships, animal houses and more.  They are so durable that we have not broken a single piece in the 6 years we've owned and played with them (including crumbling towers).

When you set out to purchase your Magna-Tiles, you should just jump right into the 100 piece set.  It is much more cost effective and easier to build with and share than the 30 and 45 piece sets.    Our original set was purchased online from  Kaplan Toys ( where we paid $110 and are still listed as such.  Our second set was from Edufuntoys ( for $99.  I believe they are  now $120.

These are great for preschool age on up.  I now have a 9+ year old who still plays with them down to a 4 year old.  They were great to have around when we had a baby because they aren't too small, are easy to handle and clean and also easy to clean up.  The pictures shown are by the kids of their structures.  We don't let them keep their creations up forever, so they take pictures and then destroy them.  It's not just a normal clean-up, it's like Godzilla coming to town!