We have owned several cardboard toys from mini treehouses and castles to spaceships to actual child size play houses. I like cardboard because it is recyclable or compostable and durable enough for kids to fully enjoy it before it needs to be tossed. You can also paint them all sorts of groovy colors and customize the way they they look.
These days my kiddos are playing with a cardboard ice cream truck courtesy of Build a Dream Playhouses. They graciously offered to send us one on the house and I knew my kids would get a kick out the truck as opposed to their other (but equally fun) cardboard toys.
It came in a fairly large but skinny box and my kids loved playing with that too. I had my husband put it together cause that’s how I roll. It took about 10 minutes I would say. We noticed right away that the truck comes out of the box plain so that it can be an ice cream truck like we have OR an ambulance… it came with a few extra pieces for that, if you want to go that direction. That is why they call it The Imagine Wagon as opposed to the Ice Cream Truck.. pretty clever I think. This giant truck sat on our kitchen table for about a week while I painted in spurts.. with the kids helping of course. I picked the yellow and teal color scheme for the truck and my daughter chose the ice cream flavors.
We used water based acrylic paints and it dried very fast. It was also pretty easy to paint since we had it up on a table. The most time consuming part was painting the ice creams on the side of the truck.. the sno cone, ice cream cone, ice cream sandwich, and the popsicle. They had to drawn by hand but it was easy enough after I printed some vector images off the computer and then traced them onto the truck. Then I painted over where I traced and voila. I think they came out very well. My oldest son claimed that I was a big fat liar for claiming I was not artistic. Ha! I would not go so far as that but it was a nice if not slightly insulting compliment. They still need to paint the inside dash with markers and it will be all finished.
After it was all painted it hung out in the garage for far too long as we waited for a non rainy day to play with it. But that sunny day finally came!
They LOVE it! But I knew they would. I also figured it would draw other kids and boy did it. At least half a dozen other kids made their way over to play with it in just a few minutes. It was a big hit. They all took turns pretending to order their favorite items.
My only criticism is that the big Popsicles on top come off really easy when it moves or the wind blows. The sides can cave in a bit when kids move around it from inside, like they are driving. The design in those two ares could be a tad sturdier. Stickers would nice for parents that don’t want to hand paint the ice creams but in the end I am glad I had to paint them. It was a lot of fun.
There are many other options other than the ice cream truck too. My kids woulds also dig their lemonade stand, their play kitchen, and their space rocket. In fact we may need to buy that space rocket or Cosmic Cruiser as they call it, soon. I see a lot of open ended “pretend” play with these toys, which is the best kind. I also love that they were designed by a Cleveland Dad, very cool. These playhouse definitely get an enthusiastic thumbs up from us!
Buy the The Imagine Wagon (Ice Cream Truck ).
My ten year old loves to listen to music while he roller blades… which is usually a couple hours each day. He all but commandeered my older iPod shuffle so this week I decided to just gift it to him. Perhaps I was just sick of hearing my son’s music.. “We Will Rock You” in particular. Either way I got a new one for me and the husband. I use it at the gym and for meditation, he uses it while at work.
A new shuffle meant new headphones so I opted to get some of the new wooden earbuds I have been hearing about. The housing around the tip is Mohagony wood, the tips are plastic free silicone, and the cord is braided rope with wires on the inside. Supposedly the sound is supposed to be richer and warmer than regular earbuds but I couldn’t really tell much difference. Though I can’t have the volume very loud because my ears will start to hurt… a side effect of my cancer treatment was ear issues. The colon (what’s left of it) is okay but the ears are wacked, funny how that works. These earbuds do appear to be just a bit greener than other types and these particular ones have a lifetime guarantee, so hurray for that.
If you are in the market for any or your kids need some for school try some wooden ones. They work just as well and I think they are slightly cooler looking myself. You can buy some for anywhere from $20 to $50. Enjoy!
In my post on Healthy Cookware I mentioned that I was trying a new-to-me brand of safer pots and pans called Xtrema by Ceramcor. They sent me a skillet a few weeks back and I have now had a chance to use it in the kitchen. Their pans are high temperature ceramic that is non-scratch and easy to clean. I don’t see a non-stick claim on their site but in my opinion they are very much non-stick. They can be used on stove top, oven, under broiler, freezer, frig, microwave and on a barbeque grill. The company recommends that you use nylon, silicone, or wood cooking tools with these pans but as you can see in the photo above I used a metal spatula for cooking eggs. I don’t like plastic or silicone spatulas and wooden ones are too thick for flipping eggs. It didn’t scratch the pan but for all other types of cooking I used wood spoons.
For fried eggs this pan was great. They cooked like a dream and they flipped very nicely without sticking. The pan was also a snap to clean. I also used it to make some fresh fish for the kids, and also to saute mushrooms and onions for other dishes. IMO it took a bit longer for food to cook with this skillet than in my stainless steel skillet. That said, I must also share that I recently went from cooking on an electric range to a gas range again and I am NOT digging the cook times for gas, so that could be the issue as well.
This isn’t my new favorite pan or anything but it is very nice for cooking eggs on weekday mornings, or browning up some mushrooms for lunch… when I don’t have too many people to cook for. It is super easy to clean, which makes me VERY happy and it is a nice looking skillet as well. I am happy to give this healthier skillet a home. I would like to try the Xtrema Wok and give it a nice test run as well.
Why Its Healthy:
* Handmade using natural gas, clay and water
* No trace metals or chemicals leach from the cooking surface
* There is no harmful PTFE coating and it produces no harmful PFOA gas which can occur with most popular petroleum based non-stick coatings.
Why Its Green:
* Materials are inorganic natural minerals from our earth’s crust
* The non-scratch ceramic cooking surface on the Xtrema cookware is non-reactive and 100% non-toxic
* Durability – These pans will last for a long time and cannot be scratched… even if you use steel wool. There is even a 50 year warranty.
A couple years ago I compiled big lists of BPA free kids cups. Most of us were used to giving our kids plastic sippy cups to avoid spills but when we found that BPA or Bishpenol A had the potential to harm our children we sought better options. Our demand for better products was so loud that MANY companies reformulated their products to offer safer cups and many new companies popped up to fill this need as well. Still for many moms, myself included, there was still something missing.
Yes we had safer cups but they were made of plastic.. which frankly can have other issue besides BPA. While I gave moms who wanted plastic options they needed I scoured the net for stainless steel cups and I bought up small mason jars at thrift stores for my own kids. With out mix of stainless steel tumblers and little glass jars we made do, but I DID miss the sippy cup option!
Now a company has stepped to the plate to provide an answer for us picky moms… a glass cup with plastic sippy attachment, and a sleeve to prevent breakage. It is quite simply the most awesome safe sippy cup I have yet seen. I am really loving it… the EIO Glass Cup for Kids.
The design is similar to what we now see in glass baby bottles. It has a silicone sleeve that prevents breakage of the body.. which is glass. The top portion is BPA, Phthalates and PVC free plastic with a small hole in the inclined area. There is no spout or valve that is impossible to clean or that allows for mold growth. It is dishwasher safe. The BEST part though is that the lid fits on to virtually any 8 ounce canning jar!!! Yes… if your cup breaks (which is unlikely IMO) you can replace with a canning jar, easy peasy! I just love the whole concept, especially the part where I do not have to buy another cup if the part most likely to break, does in fact break.. I can just use a caning jar I already have. The top plastic part is very sturdy and unlikely to break IMO. The sleeve is nice but not really a necessity.. if it were to rip somehow, the cup would function just fine without it.
Up until we got the EIO cup we were just using open cups (both metal and glass). We had lots of breakage, which was no biggie really but the spills were getting out of hand. Since we have started using the EIO that issue is gone, thank goodness. We have the green cup but there is also purple and orange and I am considering getting one for my 6 year old too because the cup does not have a babyish appearance and it would help with dinner time spills. This cup is great for older kids too.
I don’t like using plastic or buying new plastic but I will buy “smart” plastic. Something that will be reused over and over again, that will last, and that makes it easier to use less plastic overall. This cup definitely qualifies.
All in all, I am pretty excited about his new innovation. Some companies see a need and they do the bare minimum… like take the BPA out of their existing cups. Other companies see moms who are concerned with not only the chemicals but also the reliance on plastic and the move towards other materials and they come up with a solution. I love the EIO cup but I also love the fact that one company stood up and took notice of what I (and other moms like me) wanted in a kids cup and they delivered. It should be no surprise to anyone that is was in fact a mom who invented this cup… a mom that wanted to empower her kids to use REAL, earth friendly dinnerware at the table.
Much thanks to Kathy Haskell of EIO for the awesome product and for sending me a sample cup to review at my request.
As indicated in my round up of greener menstrual products I am not a fan of the mainstream menstrual products for women. Paper and plastic pads and tampons just aren’t good options for the planet nor for a woman’s comfort. More than anything I think those mainstream options allow us to distance ourselves from the process as much as possible and not take responsibility for it. Either that or it is just pure convenience… aka why wash cloth pads or rinse out a Diva Cup in soapy water and get your hands dirty when you could just throw the problem away… literally.
I was very interested in trying Lunapanties because I see nothing wrong with convenience myself and having panties that also double as a cloth pad seemed genius to me and ooohhhhh it is genius. Even if you use paper sanitary napkins I dare you to see this as less convenient. Other than the washing, which I am assuming you won’t be doing by hand, down at the river, beating your panties against rocks, then this is such an easy solution. Follow me here for a second.. put the panties on… then take them off to wash. Easy! No unwrapping a sanitary napkin, peeling off the gazillion stickers that are affixed to them, no sticking it to the crotch of your undewear, no cursing when your monthly gift misses the napkin and stains your panties, no feeling like you are wearing an adult diaper, no wrapping the napkin up in toilet paper (or a time capsule to protect from pets) and throwing it away to sit in a landfill for all eternity… see… easy!
Lunapanties are basically just panties that come with some extra padding in the crotch area and they have a couple loops sewn into that area as well that allow for you to double up, or triple up even, on the protection by adding absorbent inserts. The panties and the inserts are made of super soft organic cotton (95%) and they are oh so comfortable. The other 5% is lycra to make the panties snug fitting. The ones given to me for this review are a pretty purple color but I see from the web site that they also come in black. I like the purple.
After using them for a week recently I can say that I REALLY love them. I plan to buy a couple more pairs and they, coupled with my Diva Cup, will be what I reach for every month. I also like the fact that I can still use many of my other cloth pads with them too. On heavy flow days I do need to use inserts just for my own peace of mind, and for a couple days I just used the underwear and the Diva Cup with no issues. On the last day or so I just wore the panties with no insert. I didn’t even feel like I was on my period and that ladies is lovely, as I am sure you know!
There have several different sizes (S-3XL) and have several different styles from briefs to thongs. I would recommend getting one pair and trying them to see how you like the fit and style and then ordering more. I requested large size granny panties (briefs would be the name they use) and the large seemed… well… kinda large. They seemed to me that they are sized a little to big.
The price for the panties is $29.99. If you usually buy panties at Wal-Mart for $2.00 a pop then this might seem expensive. If you buy panties at Victoria’s Secret then these will seem like a good deal. I think they are a great value, especially given that they are high quality and organic. 3 panties, my inserts and pads, and my Diva Cup will do me just fine and I will still save in the long run because I don’t have to buy sanitary napkins or tampons every month.
The washing is also very easy. I just threw them in the wash on cold and let them soak for an hour and then rinsed and spun. Then I washed them with a load of towels. They did not stain but I wouldn’t have cared much if they did…. that’s just not a big deal to me. The Luna company recommends Nellie’s A-Natural Laundry Soda Soap Detergent, which I have used and like and they suggest BunchaFarmers Biodegradable Stain Remover Stick for stains. Never heard of it but I may have to try that now!
All in all I find this to be one of those great products that really makes life more comfortable and convenient and yet has the benefit of being the greener option to. A++