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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.

Favorite craft gifts for kids

Categories: Books, Crafts and activities, Gifts, Toys

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What I laughingly call a “craft bin” at our house is in fact a tower of disaster: a bunch of stacking baskets (like these) that we got for free at the dump, filled to a teeter with the litter of a decade’s worth of “Just toss that in the craft bin.” Several half-used packages of card stock. Sheets of felt, partially cut into. Rubber stamps—where is the stamp pad? Stickers that came with charity pleas. A protractor that came in a kit of school supplies. Foam letters spilling out of a bag. Empty Play-Doh containers—what the heck? A package of beads, a package of jingle bells, a package of popsicle sticks. A bunch of craft books we always think someone will want to leaf through for ideas, but no one ever does. Clearly there needs to be a heavy cleaning-out, but this is the sort of area where as soon as I throw something away, a child wants it for a project.

Despite the oppressive nature of our own craft bins (and, as I know from babysitting and nannying, other people’s craft bins), craft supplies remains one of my favorite gifts for children’s parties. They’re the kind of gift that tends to pass parental inspection, even with all the things parents can object to (”girl” vs. “boy” toys, violent toys, toys that perpetuate beauty culture, toys from particular countries, princess toys, a certain brand of toys with an amusement-park tie-in, TV/movie-tie-in toys, “cheap plastic crap,” etc. etc. etc.), and in general they tend to be gifts that work no matter what the particular child is interested in: not every child likes crafts, of course, but statistically-speaking (and if you have to take a certain risk with the gift anyway), more of them like crafts than like, say, Bakugan.


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Shopping with imaginary money

Categories: Babies, Food, House & Home, Music, Toys

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Do you guys play the “What if you had to spend $100 RIGHT NOW?” game at your house? We play it all the time at ours. It’s almost always Rob, the sixth-grader, who wants to fantasize about shopping, and I’m happy to play that game. Today’s answers (from me, clearly, because what he wants is video games):


John Derian nest coasters (photo from Target.com). I wish these were plates instead of coasters, since I never use coasters.
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Birthday party gift ideas for a 5-year-old

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

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Here is the problem: The twins have been invited to the birthday party of a little girl turning five. I need two presents by this weekend. I’m looking for things that cost about ten dollars, although less would be even better. I have a few things I’m considering buying, and I also have some maybes on the gift shelf.


Stomp Rocket Jr Glow Kit (photo from Amazon.com). My mom has a stomp rocket and the kids LOVE it. I would prefer to get one WITHOUT the “glow” feature, but the glow one is marked down to $7.83 AND comes in a “junior” version, so…


Crayola Telescoping Pip-Squeaks Marker Tower (photo from Amazon.com). About $11.  Maybe it isn’t the same in everyone’s house, but at our house we have an endless need for marker replenishment.
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