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Milk and Cookies

with Kristen

I'm a mother of five, a bargain hunter, a recreational comparison shopper, and always trying to make more time - for me and for you, too. On this blog I'm sharing my favorite tools and finds to help make your work-life juggle a bit easier.

You can find my personal blog at Swistle.com.

Life-improving products, part 3

Categories: Crafts and activities, Electronics, Fashion, Good causes, House & Home, Kitchen, Life balance, Office, Time savers

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(Continued from part 1 and part 2.)

CMS NeoPin Magents (photo from Amazon.com). These are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea: some people hate stuff on the fridge, and some people have non-magnetic fridges, and some people have kids little enough to eat magnets. But if you DO like having stuff on your fridge, AND your fridge cooperates with that, AND your kids are old enough to eat things from the inside of the fridge and not the outside, then these are GREAT: really strong, and also pretty. They claim to be able to hold 16 pages, and I wouldn’t be surprised: Paul recently used one to pin the remains of a pad of paper to the fridge. Because they’re kind of expensive for fridge magnets, they’d make a good gift for someone hard to buy for.

ZenniOptical.com (image from Zenni Optical). This site has revolutionized the way I think of my glasses. Instead of spending $200 at the eye doctor for a single pair of glasses boring enough to go with everything, I spend the same amount and get a dozen pairs of FACE DECORATION. Because the glasses can’t be tried on, I do allow for a number of failures—but if I get two good pairs for $100, I’m still way ahead of what I was spending before. And now that two of my kids are wearing glasses, I love Zenni even more: when a child breaks yet another pair, I just get out another pair from the stash. I also recommend their sunglasses: I waited until I’d found which frames I liked best from my first order, and then I ordered the same frames with prescription sunglasses lenses.
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11 Gift ideas for Father’s Day

Categories: Crafts and activities, Electronics, Fashion, Fun stuff for grown-ups, Gifts, Guys, Holiday, Toys

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Last year I suggested we get together a list of what we’d resorted to for Father’s Day presents, so that THIS year we’d have more ideas to consider.

I continue to recommend the Click ‘n’ Dig Wireless Remote Finder (photo from Amazon.com). We’ve had it a year, and Paul still says “Best. gift. ever.” about twice a week. One of the four sensor thingies broke after being dropped one (1) million times, but we still had a spare so we just replaced it. We keep the remote itself nailed to the wall so it can’t get lost. If we broke another of the little sensor thingies, I would buy another set without even thinking about it.

Last year, Alicia mentioned getting a travel coffee press/mug (photo from Amazon.com) with fancy coffee, for good coffee at the office or on business trips.
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Road trip supplies for older kids

Categories: Books, Crafts and activities, Fashion, Learning activities, Travel

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Paul has started a new annual tradition of taking the two older kids on a road trip each summer. Here are some of the supplies I bought for them this year, when they were ages 11 and 13:

The Hunger Games trilogy (photo from Amazon.com). Both kids read the first book, but we’ve spent the rest of the summer on the library waiting list for the second one. This was the perfect moment to finally give in and buy the set. And there was no fighting over it, because one kid wanted to re-read the first book before reading the second one, and the other kid didn’t.

Brain Quest for the Car (photo from Amazon.com). We’ve loved these Brain Quest cards for littler kids; I hadn’t realized they had sets for older kids. I first considered the set for 7th graders (one child is going into 6th, the other into 8th), but this car-trip set seemed more fun. I worried it might be too young for them (it’s marked ages 7-12), and probably would have gotten the America set (ages 9 and up) if it hadn’t had a predicted shipping delay.
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Gift ideas for a 7-year-old (or two 7-year-olds)

Categories: Baby gear, Books, Fashion, Gifts, Toys

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The twins turned seven, and for me it meant not just “O MY BABIES ARE GROWING UP” but also “O MAN THIS IS A LOT OF PRESENT IDEAS TO COME UP WITH.”

One of the more surprising successes was a calculator (photo from Amazon.com) for Edward. He’d kept stealing mine, so I wondered if he might like to have one of his own—and although his first reaction was not quite the level of THRILL a person might be looking for in a birthday gift reaction, he’s played with it nearly every day since.

My parents bought LittleMissMatched socks (photo from LittleMissMatched.com) for Elizabeth. I had the fun of choosing, so I chose all from the buy-3-sets-get-1-set-free section, to reduce the pain of paying THREE dollars PER sock PLUS shipping. This was a great gift idea for grandparents, because I KNEW Elizabeth really wanted the socks but I was having a hard time getting over the hurdle of the price (and the SUPER annoyance of not being able to use a free shipping code on an order containing buy-3-get-1). My mom: “Pish! They’re perfect! Let’s order them!”
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Baby hats for fall

Categories: Baby gear, Fashion

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My nephew was born yesterday, which puts me in the mood to discuss baby stuff. I was mooning over baby clothes and noticed that all the cute HATS are coming in.

Raccoon hat (photo from TheChildrensPlace.com), $7.95. When it came down to the final decision I’d almost certainly get the bear, but it’s nice to have a novel choice!

Owl hat (photo from TheChildrensPlace.com), $8.95. This time I’d choose the owl over the bear.
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Birthday party gift ideas for a 10-year-old girl

Categories: Crafts and activities, Fashion, Gifts, Learning activities, Toys

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William, Robert, and Elizabeth have all been invited to a birthday party this weekend, so I need to come up with three presents for a 10-year-old girl. I could use a hand, if you have a minute—and then we’ll have this later as a reference for the next time we need it!

She likes cats, and she likes anything cute or fuzzy. She likes Phineas & Ferb, and SpongeBob Squarepants. She likes crafts. She plays soccer. She’s William’s age and grade and is mostly William’s friend, but she plays with everyone when she’s here.

Normally I aim for about $10 for a party gift (in this case, from each of the three children), but I’d be willing to go a little higher.

First candidate: Aurora Plush Fluffee Fluffy Tails (photo from Amazon.com), about $9.00. Most households already have more stuffed animals than they can handle—and yet, the sight of this cat reduced our household to “OHHHHhhhhhhhhhh!!!”s of cuteness.
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