Sunday, September 27, 2009

Top Thirteen Uses for a Microfiber Cloth

I first encountered microfiber cloths in the Solutions Catalog. I'd get the promo emails and I'd drool, then I'd delete the email and go about my day. They were cloths. We had cloths. I didn't need any more.

Oh, if only I'd known.

I can't remember what pushed me to finally order a set from Amazon. (I'm pretty sure it was the Active Ion demonstration.) My 36 Zipes Microfiber Cloths arrived and our lives changed.

OK. Maybe that's a bit extreme. But still! Do you know how awesome these things are? Even M is a convert and he didn't even complain too much when I bought another set of 36 from Costco. (What? They were bigger. And on sale. And. And. I needed more. Plus, I've been giving them as gifts. So there.)

Don't believe me? Well, maybe this list of top thirteen things you can do with microfiber cloths will convince you! (It started as a top ten list, but I couldn't stop...)

1. Best dust cloths ever. They trap dust like nobody's business.
2. Best window washing cloths ever. They don't leave any little lint streaks behind. Seriously.
3. Replacement for Swiffer wet AND dry cloths. Save the environment and never run out! Squeee!
4. Best dishcloths ever. One swipe of a microfiber cloth over a plate and it's instantly dry. Even better, one microfiber cloth will dry a mountain of dishes!
5. Best hand towel ever. Dry your hands and they're instantly dry. Say goodbye to that clammy not quite dry feeling you get from dishcloths.
6. Burp cloths! Do you have a baby who seems to spit up more than he drinks? Large microfiber cloths will be your saving grace. Super soft and super absorbent. Need I say more?
7. Cloth diaper liner. I'm not a cloth diaperer, but I know a mom who swears by these. It makes sense, they absorb a ton of liquid and they're super soft.
8. Sop up spills. Kids spill something on a rug, bed, or carpet? Use a microfiber cloth to mop up the spill. You'll get more out of that carpet than you would with a regular towel or dishcloth. (Even works on toddler pee! Don't ask me how I know.)
9. Car multipurpose cloth. Use it to dust the dash, mop up spills, clean messy kids, whatever comes up. And you know it does.
10. Screen cleaner. A tiny bit of moisture and some gentle elbowgrease and all those fingerprints, smudges, and whatever else is clouding up your computer screen, TV screen, or phone screen will be history.
11. Jewelry and silver polish. Gentle enough for all your most valuable valuables, tough enough for the grime covering them.
12. Baby and kid wipes. A damp microfiber cloth will wipe a chocolatey face clean faster than any paper towel. And if you're trying to be a greener parent you could do worse than use a stack of these instead of disposable wipes. A little spray bottle of water and you're set to handle the most foul of diapers!
13. CD/DVD cleaner. In a house filled with children there are few CDs that aren't covered in fingerprints and unidentifiable sticky substances. These cloths can make them shine like new again.

Have I convinced you yet? Buy a set, if you're not an instant convert you can send them to me. I bet I can find a thing or ten to do with them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ready, Go Play-doh Contest!

Do you love Play-doh? Is your child creative? Could you use some cash to kit out your play room? How about your school, do you think they could use some money?

This is the contest for you!

Embracing the idea of creating food, Play-doh has created a "Ready, Go Play-doh" contest where kids can come up with their own Play-Doh "food" creations for a chance to win a makeover of both their playroom and their school's playroom.

Visit to enter by uploading a photo of your child's food-inspired Play-Doh creation along with the "recipe" to make it.

The grand prize winner of the "Ready, Go Play-doh" contest will win $10,000: $5,000 for a playroom makeover as well as a $5,000 "Doh-nation" to their child's school. Contest entries will be accepted through September 30, 2009.

On October 15, 2009
, the ten finalists will be posted on and the public will vote on who receives the $10,000 prize! The website will also feature a gallery of entries, so even if you don't win, everyone will see your child's creation.

What are you waiting for? Go forth and create!

Play-Doh Burger Builder

If I ask you to name one Play-doh set you used to play with as a child I bet you're only going to hesitate for a moment before you answer. (Mine was that nifty set where the people grew hair.) For my kids that memorable set is going to be the Play-doh Burger Builder. Without a doubt.

As soon as I pulled out the box their eyes lit up and their smiles broadened. I mean, they love Play-doh, but this promised extra fun.

Little L contemplating the possibilities.
We broke out the kit and got to work making burgers. Within moments even I was transported to childhood as we made patties and buns, lettuce, and tomatoes, and even perfect little pickles. But the most fun was had when we tried the potato chip maker. Seriously, get this kit just for the fun you'll get from this little hand cranked tool. It spits out potato chips and sends them flying everywhere. Way too much fun.

C's masterpiece.
If you squint you can see the cheese she included.

We built a ton of burgers and made miles of fries before the girls got sidetracked and the Play-Doh session ended the way they all do, with them making mountains of spaghetti and mommy picking up tiny pieces off the floor. It was a real hit.

Play-doh Burger Builder Pros:
- Great variety of options. Aside from all the usual spaghetti shapes that you can press out, you can also press out burger, bun, and condiment shapes, and of course there's the fabulous potato chip maker.
- Affordable. For around $20 you can have one great kit that will net hours of play and five small tubs of Play-doh.
- Easy to manipulate even for little hands. Little L (2yo) was able to press out some burgers with a bit of help.

Play-doh Burger Builder Cons:
- If you happen to be a bit anal about your Play-doh colors not mixing or your burgers being the right color, this might not be the set for you. At first our burgers were picture perfect (see first picture), by the end they looked more like questionable veggie burgers than prime Angus beef burgers. The girls didn't mind. A more anal person might have noticed cared.
- The colors needed for making traditional looking burgers and condiments aren't part of the small packs of refills. You'd have to get the big pack or find the colors individually.

Major thumbs up for this little gem of a Play-doh kit!

Has your child created a Play-doh food masterpiece? Enter it in the big "Ready Go Play-doh" contest and you could win $10000! Contest ends Sept 30, 09, so hurry!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tips for National Family Game Night

September 23rd is National Family Game Night. Or so sayeth Hasbro. And I don't know about you, but I don't want to be the only one left out.

Of course, setting up a family game night is easy for once, but to set something up on a regular basis takes a bit more skill.

Below are some helpful hints to prepare for the nationwide event and to start creating a family game night tradition that the whole family will look forward to week after week. Call the family together and gather around a game for a great night in any day of the week!

To start with. Schedule it!: National Family Game Night is Wednesday, September 23, mark the calendar!
After participating in the gaming event, decide in advance which day will be your weekly family game night. It doesn’t matter which night of the week you choose – any night will do! As long as the date is marked on a calendar that everyone can see and parents make it a priority to keep the appointment, the night will be one to remember! Use stickers or a colored marker to help make the family game night dates stand out on the calendar.

Involve everyone in the planning: Involve the whole family in the planning process by allowing the kids to pick the games or choose the snacks. For variety, rotate responsibilities during each family game night.

Game suggestions: Be sure to pick games that are age-appropriate for all family members so that everyone can participate. For an active family, BOP-IT! or the classic game of Twister are great options. For a laugh-out-loud time, families might want to try Guesstures or Taboo. For families that thrive on competition, try Connect 4x4 or Monopoly City.

Fun food “pairings”: A special family game night menu will make everyone look forward to the festivities. Serve fun finger foods that are easy to eat during game play, such as hamburger sliders or chicken fingers. A make-your-own sundae bar is a sweet treat for dessert before or during game night. Or, use a family recipe to make your family game night unique.

Create a tradition: Whether it’s the way that teams are selected, a 30-minute bedtime extension, or having everyone play in their p.j.’s, establishing an activity on family game night that becomes a family tradition will create even more excitement around game play for everyone in the family.

Keep a family scoreboard: From week to week, recognize the family member who won the last family game night by posting their name on a special scoreboard that receives a place of honor on the refrigerator. Or, create a family crown or shirt that can be worn by the winner at dinner or during the next family game night.

Remind everyone: To keep the date with the family, set up reminders on a handheld device or on the family computer to make sure that game night happens. For the tech-savvy, reminders can also be sent through or on social networking sites such as Facebook. For the kids, put a note in their lunchbox reminding them about family game night.

Mix it up with “special guests”: To expand the fun, invite other families in your neighborhood to participate in a family game night tournament. If you have extended family members living in the area or if you are traveling during a scheduled family game night, invite everyone to participate!

Capture the memories: By having regularly scheduled family game nights, families are guaranteed to create new and lasting memories. Snap a photo of special moments at each family game night and place the printed photos around the house or email to relatives to share that come-from-behind win or incredibly tall Jenga tower!

Brainstorm for next week’s family game night: As each family game night winds down and clean up begins, start brainstorming for next week’s event.What games might be selected? What will be the special food served? By planning in advance for the next event, you can get a jumpstart on the preparations and raise the anticipation level for the next family game night.

Share Games: Find a few other families in your neighborhood of playgroup who are also big family game night fans. Agree to rotate games monthly to keep things exciting and new!

Monday, September 14, 2009

How Would You Like to WIN $500 for Your School?

In honor of our kids heading back to school, Cozi is sponsoring the PTA/PTO’s of three North American grade schools for $500! Yours could be one of them! Anyone can enter. Here’s how:

1. Ask all your friends and school contacts to join the Cozi fan page (

2. Have them leave a comment below stating the name, city and state of the school

That’s it!

The more entries your school gets, the greater its chances of winning! Just imagine what your school PTA/PTO could do with an extra five hundred bucks!

Each entry counts once, and Cozi will choose three winners at random.

The opportunity to enter and win lasts just two weeks, so SHARE this post on your own Facebook page and ask your friends to pile on the entries for YOUR school right now. Good luck to all the schools!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hyde Organics Yoga Clothing

I am that person who has always scorned fancy workout clothing. I mean, you sweat in the stuff. You feel gross in the stuff. You're not going to like what you see in the mirror anyway, so why spend buckets on things that you're going to wear for all of an hour?

You're hearing it here first. I was wrong. I was so, so, so very wrong.

If the clothes make the man well, the workout clothes make the workout.

I was approached by Hyde Organic to see if I'd be willing to review their line of yoga wear and I said, sure, why not. I love yoga. Granted, I usually wear my grubbiest of 'yoga' pants bought from Costco three years ago when I do yoga, but I'm willing to look the part once in a while.

When I got the clothes I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical. I'm rather well endowed and it's not exactly easy for me to find form fitting workout type tops that fit my ample bosom, let alone form fitting workout type tops with built-in shelf bras. But Hyde Organic came through for me. Tops that not only fit, but are comfortable and look great.

And the pants? Well, I don't even know if I can do the pants justice. Let's just say that when people say that they work from home so they can work in yoga pants? These are the pants they are talking about. And yes, I have done more than just sit around on my couch wearing these, I have also exercised in them and they do not ride up, slip down, bunch up, shift around, or do any of the other million things that some less well designed clothes tend to do when put under stress. Instead they feel just as great as they make me look - not an easy task when I'm running up a hill looking like a sweaty beat red tomato.

Hyde Organic Yoga Clothes Pros:

- All the clothes are made from predominantly organic fibers and are made in a sweat-shop free environment.
- Exceptional comfort and fit. (I'm no super model and I've worn this outfit to a coffee shop and to take my kids to school. And people complimented me!)
- Nice range of options from capris to ankle length pants and various top options. Click here to see the full line.
- Resistant. Despite the warnings to wash in cold water and line dry, I might have maybe washed in warm water and dryer dried, but the pants are still as stretchy, soft, and comfortable as ever.

Hyde Organic Yoga Clothes Cons:

- No matter what side of the fence you come down on $68 for a pair of yoga pants is a lot of money. Now when you consider the fact that I spent almost as much on a pair of jeans that I now wear less often than these pants... well that puts it into perspective.
- They might not be in your local neighborhood yogawear store quite yet (click here for a list of distributors), but the website is comprehensive and they do have a good return policy. Of course you could always just tell your yogawear store about Hyde Organic and have them start to carry them...

Disclaimer: I received two tops and a pair of yoga pants from Hyde Organic for review, but I was in other no way compensated for this giveaway. All opinions included in this post are mine and mine alone.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Back to (pre) school must haves

1 - A back to school tutorial.
Starting school can be a little nerve wracking for kids. What are they going to do all day? What are they supposed to know? And what do they do if they need to pee? LeapFrog to the rescue on this one. They've created a delightful little DVD all about starting school. In Let's Go To School Tad and Lilly get to know all the characters that populate a child's first day of school; taking all the scary out of the big event. On the way they practice counting and the alphabet as well as a few other key pre-school notions.
Even younger siblings will get a kick out of this video, and maybe a few early pointers!

2 - Good hand sanitizer.
This is the season of the swine flu. And even if it weren't? It would be the season of some other dread contagious something or other. Hand sanitizer is key for a kid's health and a mom's sanity. Only, I don't know about you, but I'm not a huge fan of the alcohol based stuff.
This year I'm packing some Aloe Up. Alcohol free. Foam. Clean smelling. Not sticky. And pretty darn effective. Not the easiest stuff to find, but you can buy it online here. And if you have any questions about it, follow them on Twitter!

3 - Magnetic letters for your fridge!
If your preschooler is anything like mine, everything is about words these days. Words and letters! We have these fabulous letters on our fridge and both girls love to play with them to create words. (They don't all make sense, but at least they know their alphabet!)
You're in luck, because these letters are on their once annual buy-one-get-one-free sale. Click here for the lower case letters and here for the upper case letters. Don't wait, the sale ends at the end of the week!

4 - Healthy eats!
Growing kids need good wholesome food. Even more so when they've been working hard at school. Warner Bros. and Safeway have teamed up to create a great line of food to help you feed your children well. The more than 60 items (that cross 18 categories!) were formulated to standards based on the most recent dietary recommendations and regulations from several federal and state agencies.
The Eating Right Kids line covers pretty much everything from fun shaped pasta (bugs!) to chicken nuggets, juice, snack bars, carrots and ranch, fruit in a cup, and even chocolate pudding. They'll help you make wholesome meals at home and pack great snacks and lunches for school.
Look for the cheery green logo and fun Warner Bros. characters on the packages while you shop at your local Safeway.

5 - Great organization for the whole family.
Are you always scrambling to remember what you have planned on any given day? Does your spouse's eyes roll in response to the 15th reminder about back-to-school night? Do you wish you had one central place to keep your shopping lists, menu plans, family photos, calendar, reminders, and every other little thing that you need to keep your family on track?
Meet Cozi. It's free. It's awesome. It's easy to set up. It even comes with a killer screen-saver for your computer. But most importantly, it'll change your life this year. Trust me. Check it out. Sign up. And enjoy the freedom that organization brings.

It might take more than videos, clean hands, letters, great food, and good organization to survive the school year, but it's as good a start as any. What are your back to (pre)school must haves?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A fun kid's writing contest from an unexpected source

Twitter is a fantastic world where celebs and non-celebs mingle and chat, sometimes without even realizing who each might be.

Imagine my surprise when I clicked on a couple links and found myself face to face with none other than the infamous Mimi from The Drew Carey Show stripped of her garish makeup and sitting in a surprising setting - a cozy library corner.

On her new site,, she'll enchant you and your children with charming classic stories. Pull up a chair, browse through the stacks, and enjoy a lively tale or ten.

She's even got a great event for kids ages 4-13 that started yesterday - the “Be a Famous Writer Contest,” which runs until October 15. Kids can write on any topic, fiction or non-fiction, from 250 – 1000 words.

Two grand prize winners will see their stories brought to life through original illustrations and a lively reading done by Mrs. P (Kathy Kinney). Both stories will be put up on the Mrs. P site so that everyone can watch and enjoy!

One of Mrs. P's goals is to have kids become the creative force. There’s no charge for a child to use their imagination and no charge for the Mrs. P website, it’s FREE.