Monthly Archives: July 2010


rubik’s redux

Calling all cubists: are you ready to do the Rubik’s Cube? If you were a kid in the 80s, you probably spent quite a bit of your time desperately trying to solve this puzzle. (My own brother eventually resorted to taking it apart with a screwdriver and put it back to together, colored piece by piece!) Well, if you can believe it, it’s been 30 years since the famous cube came on the scene and today, it’s being touted for its ability to engage kids in math and science. Schools across the country are honoring its anniversary via the You CAN Do The Rubik’s Cube program, which awards students for successfully completing cube-related activities. But you don’t need to wait for September to try it for yourself. The Talking Walnut is hosting a Rubik’s Cube giveaway and will award two lucky winners with their own Rubik’s Cube and solution guide. Simply send an e-mail to the site, and we’ll pick two names at random. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

In a Nutshell: Never been able to master the cube? Now’s your chance to practice at home and show your friends just how talented you really are.

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designyourowneyewear dot com (2)

the eyes have it

Trying on eyeglass frames is certainly more fun than trying on a pair of jeans or a bathing suit, but after checking out more than a dozen or so pairs, the experience can begin to grate on your nerves. I recently decided to treat myself to new glasses after my prescription changed and while I relished the alone time (if you have two young kids, I know you can understand me), suddenly the designer labels were all beginning to blur together. Not good if your vision is as bad as mine. The Design Your Own Eyewear Web site puts the rather tedious chore into perspective by letting you “try on” different frames virtually. The process is relatively straightforward: upload a photo from your desktop, choose a frame style (tortoise shell or Clark Kent?), select frame color and lens color and voila! Instant design. What’s cool is that you can experiment with different sizes and shapes to best fit your face…all in the comfort of your own home before you go shopping. And if you plan on laying out extra bucks for a designer label like I did–hey, moms like us need to look our best–then this extra perk makes all the difference. Did we mention that this service is free of charge?

In a Nutshell: If you’re in the market for a new pair of glasses and can do without the glare of a pressuring salesperson, this site will open your eyes to the possibilities.

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soup’s on

It’s hard to think about a steaming bowl of chicken noodle when it’s 90 degrees outside. Here in the Northeast, we’re about to embark on our 4th heat wave of the summer…and it’s not even August yet! Perhaps today’s re-opening of the infamous Soup Nazi’s NYC shop helps cultivate thoughts of cooler days when a hot bowl of soup hits the spot….ah, wishful thinking. For me, I can’t help but be plagued by the idea of what to cook for dinner (again). If I was the perfect mom, I’d have a freezer full of made-ahead dinners that just need to be unwrapped and heated up. Yeah, dream on. So, it helps when you can turn to something in a pinch that you can feed your family with a good conscience. Tabatchnick Fine Foods knows a thing or two about keeping kids (and grown-ups) nourished. They’ve been in business for over 100 years and, lucky for you, their homemade soups are available in the frozen foods aisle. If the word “frozen” throws you off, consider this: there’s less sodium and you don’t have to worry about BPA-lined soup cans. We sampled their balsamic tomato and rice and loved how easily it heated up from package to bowl, virtually mess-free. The broth was rich and hearty, and there was plenty of rice and veggies in each spoonful. Plenty of choices are available, including gluten-free and organic varieties.Even the Soup Nazi might be envious.

In a Nutshell: Need dinner on the table fast? Put away the take-out menus. These low-on-salt, big-on-taste frozen soups are real crowd-pleasers.


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getting a leg up

If I had a dime for every time I heard about a kid product that claims to “grow with your child,” I’d be a self-made millionaire. So when a product lives up to its name, it warrants a bit of praise. Hats off then to the HiLo Chair, one seat that’s worth saving. Not only is this kids’ chair nice to look at, but it works wonders in the kitchen. It starts out as standard high chair with tray, but because it has a dual-height adjustment, you can flip the chair upside down and, at the push of a button, the chair locks into place at its new height/size. That means you can count on using this sturdy chair from mushy peas on up to big-kid eating. And if you love the appropriately-named, culinary-inspired colors the HiLo Chair comes in, including blueberry, asparagus, portabello and even chocolate, you’ll consider this chair a welcome addition to your family’s kitchen. Getting the kids to eat their veggies? Sorry, you’re on your own there…

In a Nutshell: Feeding time gets fashionable with a high chair that converts to a child seat faster than you can boil water for spaghetti. Bon appetit!

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HearthSoft 011 (2)

come on baby, light my fire

What parent wouldn’t relish one room in the house that doesn’t scream “baby?” I know my husband wishes there were more places in our home that weren’t all about kids–from toys spilling out of otherwise-concealed storage bins, to outlet covers galore, there is clear-cut evidence that yes, we have young children living here. Because we consider our dining room a prime entertaining spot, with our fireplace and seating area, it’s one space that begs for practicality, but that must still be safe for prying hands. Jamboo Creations takes the sting out of childproofing with HearthSoft, a makeshift fireplace cover that doubles as a comfortable seating area. It’s made from a flame-retardant poly-foam material that slips right over a hearth, without requiring any special assembly. It wipes clean, which you’ll really appreciate when your little one manages to spill her juicebox. But what you’ll really love is how much it’ll make you feel…well, like a grown-up. And some days, that’s frankly all you’re asking for.

In a Nutshell: Say goodbye to those useless foam rubber safety corners that are always popping off, and enjoy a fireside story safely with your kids.

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Evenflo Car Kit Final (2)

baby on board

I can hardly wait until our annual summer road trip with the kids….NOT! The thought of being confined to the same closed space with my 6- and 2-year-old (and my husband) is enough to make my blood boil (OK, I’ll keep hubby out of my insane thoughts). If you’re like me, you’re desperate for any little thing that will make your family vacation a tad more enjoyable. Travel games that can fit in my pocket give me goosebumps. Pint-sized coloring book/crayon sets put a smile on my face. Imagine then what an all-inclusive road trip kit will do for my happiness quotient! In celebration of the season of traveling with the kids, Evenflo is offering the Ultimate Savvy Parent’s Car Kit, along with the release of its Momentum 65 DLX Convertible car seat. If you are admittedly one who always forgets something, then this is the treasure that will take the rage out of your road trip. Packaged in a portable pouch are:

  • $25 gas gift card (a little treat for mom and dad)
  • Moist wipes (for quick car clean-up)
  • Baby mirror (to check out your rear-facing baby while driving)
  • Soft book (to secure safety of passengers when thrown during tantrum)
  • Kid/parent-friendly CD (to inspire a family sing-along–even during those “what-was-I-thinking-about-5-hours-in-the-car” moments)
  • Car dustbuster (for hunting down Cheerios between seats)
  • Window shade (to keep the hot summer sun out)
  • Animal crackers and a snack trap, to curb cravings
  • Car organizer (to keep it all arranged neatly!)

If this kit gets you as excited as a one-way ticket to Maui (sans kids), then send an e-mail to The Talking Walnut. Evenflo will provide a kit to the first parent who responds. Good luck, and happy trails to you…

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Statue of Liberty Doll 1 (2)

lady liberty, Barbie-style

With the 4th  of July weekend upon us, it only seems fitting that we celebrate all things American: apple pie, baseball (Go Mets!) and oh yes, Barbie. Yup, you read that right. The all-American fashion dolls pays tribute to Independence Day as Statue of Liberty Barbie, part of the new Landmark Collection that also includes Big Ben Barbie and Eiffel Tower Barbie. Everyone’s favorite fashion doll is decked out in a turquoise gown featuring a Statue of Liberty motif, a copper crown and a torch on her shoulder. It’s a doll you’ll be proud to add to your collection, especially if you (or your kid) is a Barbie aficionado. Happy Independence Day!

In a Nutshell: Barbie makes fireworks of her own kind, in a stunning patriotic designer ensemble.

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