Monthly Archives: October 2011

starter pack (2)-1

just getting warmed up

The first time we took my baby daughter on a long road trip, I dreaded the moment we’d have to pull over and stop to feed her. I kid you not, I must have spent the better part of the car ride wondering aloud if the bottle warmer we had just bought would actually work, whether it would fit into our car’s adapter outlet properly and how long it would take to heat up her formula. (Yes, you can feel sorry for my poor husband; I do, too–in retrospect.) As luck would have it, my concerns were right on the money: after sitting in a fast food parking lot for what felt like forever, the bottle was only mildly warmed. But, if we didn’t get back on the road fast, my ever-patient spouse warned, we’d get caught up in rush-hour traffic. Torn between giving my young daughter formula that was room temperature at best and heeding my wise husband’s sage advice, I fed her in a hurry…but without much success. She only drank a few ounces before turning her head away and letting out a disgusted cry. Believe it when I say I felt her pain–and it was a long time before we took another road trip. Today’s moms don’t have to wrestle with such aggravation when feeding their baby on the go,  thanks to Toasty Bottle. This baby bottle warming set that works without the hassle of batteries, car adapters or hot water is almost too good to be true. Simply remove the plastic packaging from the warmer and pull off one side of the adhesive strip. Next, wrap the warmer around your filled bottle and attach the adhesive to the warmer. Now, open the Velcro enclosure on the Toasty Bottle holder and place your wrapped bottle inside. The warming packets retain heat as soon as they are exposed to the air and stay hot for less than 30 minutes, giving your baby plenty of time to eat–and burp. Rest assured that the warmer packets use natural ingredients like iron powder and salt, so you don’t need to worry about any harmful chemicals coming into contact with your baby’s bottle. We can’t say the same for the high level of road pollution on the LIE, but that’s another story…

In a Nutshell: Get your baby to her destination safely and on a full stomach with this no-fuss, no-muss bottle warming system.

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Amax 09 Catalog Page 1-2

occupy halloween

The results are in: when a national marketing research firm recently polled a number of kids as to what they’d like to be for Halloween this year, the top choices were princess, witch and superhero. Oddly enough, Wall St. powerhouse didn’t make the list. Have our kids been taking sneak peeks at our downloads of “The Daily Show” or glancing at the Post and Daily News headlines? In more ways than one, I too long for the good ol’ days of Halloween, spent trick-or-treating from house to house, rather than in the shopping mall. I miss being able to recognize and greet the motley crew of characters that paraded down the dark streets, instead of seeing the same Harry Potter and Lady Gaga get-ups outside of Target and JC Penney’s . For those looking to emulate superheros that never go out of style comes a dress-up collection that also makes for a great Halloween costume in a pinch. My 1st Career Gear lets little kids experiment with some traditional roles in the working world before they go into post-college debt. Ranging from chef to construction worker uniforms, this set of six costumes suits the fickle child who changes what he wants to be every five minutes, as well as the family with multiple siblings. (They are also available separately.) We love that long after the pumpkins have been smashed and the ghosts are all booed out, this collection will find a second life for itself inside the dress-up box…alongside the princesses and ninjas. After all, role-playing doesn’t have to be limited to a night camped out in Zuccotti Park.

In a Nutshell: When the worlds of make-believe and reality collide, it makes for great dress-up potential. Enjoy Halloween (and any other day) with this real-life attire for kids.

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baby’s best defense

It’s only October, and I’m already seeing signs of dry skin on myself and my daughters. With more frequent hand-washing during cold/flu season, our hands are a bit chapped and rougher than they were just a few months ago. Because my girls have unfortunately inherited my tender Irish complexion, they are more susceptible to winter’s wrath and therefore are slathered with lotions and creams more often than they’d like. Since the Talking Walnut is always on the lookout for products that combat eczema and other irritated skin conditions, we’re always willing to put new skincare to the test. Well, Episencial’s Soothing Cream is just what the doctor ordered. A pleasant-smelling balm made with a blend of natural ingredients like organic green tea and jojoba seed oil , it goes on smooth without that heavy, greasy feeling of some other lotions we’ve tried. I like that it’s as effective for both my young girls’ sensitive skin as it is for mine.  The ideal after-bath companion, the Soothing Cream seems to absorb best on clean, dry skin, leaving no match for Ol’ Man Winter this year.

In a Nutshell: We’re one step ahead of the colder weather with a lotion that leaves skin soft, smooth and soothed.

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You’ll never catch me carving up a pumpkin. The closest I get to making faces out of food is limited to a fruit plate of banana eyes, a grape nose and a orange slice mouth. (My nickname wasn’t “Fruit” for nothin’!). But because I still love to decorate for Halloween, we invest in equally festive (and not as messy) alternatives: inflatable ghosts, flickering electronic candles and tons of wall decorations. We think WallCandy Art’s  Design Your Own Pumpkin Kit is a great addition to this year’s pumpkin patch. Little goblins who love to help decorate, but aren’t keen on getting their fingers in pumpkin goop will be able to let their creative juices flow, mess-free. This set of easy-on, adhesive decals includes 3 pumpkins, 35 parts to create eyes and mouths, 6 bats and 16 candy corn pieces. Perfect for a Halloween party activity for the kiddies or for your own home decorating, this kit will let you create some boo-tiful scenery. So when Halloween rolls around, I’ll leave the knife-wielding creativity to my husband who can make a thing of beauty out of simple gourd. Meanwhile, I’ll just sit back and raid the kids’ trick-or-treat bags…

In a Nutshell: Leave your Butterfingers in the candy bowl where they belong, and stick to a safe way for decorating this Halloween. Happy Haunting!

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6110-print_iNTAKT i

clothes that make the boy

A friend has been lamenting about her latest parenting frustration: what to dress her son in. Even though he’s only in second grade, he’s already developed an opinion about what’s hot–and what’s not (and apparently, Mom just isn’t in on the up and up). Just when you thought clothing was only a battle zone for mothers and daughters, we have entered neutral territory. And while there are plenty of stylish labels devoted to girls, there aren’t as many boy brands that moms and their sons can agree on. This past spring, The Talking Walnut reported on a boys’ graphic T trend that is hit across the board. Since then, we’ve noticed another new name joining the ranks of this fashion movement: iNTAKT caters to young boys (ages 12 months-7 years) who want to look cool without acting like they care. Call it Joe Cool Jr., if you will. The line will launch in January with its spring/summer 2012 collection, which includes hoodies, long shorts and–you guessed it–skate, surf and street pop tees. Standouts include terry shorts with a rough-cut bottom and a polo shirt in a paint splatter print. The look is hip, modern and fresh, and we can’t imagine any boy putting up a fight when it getting dressed.

In a Nutshell: Boys will wish they could fast-forward straight to next summer with this ready-to-wear line of casual duds.

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guess whooooo?

It amazes me that my 3-year-old still loves a good game of peek-a-boo. On a crisp fall afternoon earlier this week, we played outside where she hid her face within the trees. It was only a matter of minutes before a fierce wind blew back their branches to reveal her little face, and she was suddenly in stitches. If your baby hasn’t yet graduated from this simple game, but you’d welcome a diversion in the same old, same old routine, check out Skip+Hop’s new line of Hug & Hide Activity and Stroller Toys. Each plush animal friend (choose from an owl, lamb, dog or monkey)  is outfitted in a multi-textured design and features a matching baby animal hidden underneath their arms. It’s a wonderful way to teach opposites like open and closed, and of course, to show your little one how to give a hug. A smaller-sized stroller version guarantees company on those walks around the neighborhood when you’re bound to embark on another peek-a-boo adventure.

In a Nutshell: Whooo wants to play peek-a-boo? Here’s a plush pal that’s always up for a game…

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mommy’s comfort food

To your average kid, milk and cookies is the ideal cure for the rainy day blues. Sinking one’s teeth into a chocolate chip-studded little number, washed down by a tall glass of ice-cold milk, can be just the thing to erase the pain of a forgotten library book or a silly spat with a friend. For grown-ups like me, my idea of comfort food at 3 p.m. doesn’t stray so far from the kid version, but I do like to think that my taste is a bit more refined than the store-bought variety (no offense, Keebler Elf). I admit that I’m not a tremendous connoisseur when it comes to cookies and other baked goods, so when I do choose to indulge, it needs to be the good stuff. Well, I think that I have finally found heaven in a bakery bag: homemade cookies from bakeshop. When I dove into a bag on this wet, dreary fall afternoon, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the packaging alone piqued my appetite. Freshly baked cookies beckoned at me through the see-through window of a brown bag tied with–what else–bakery string (I relish details!). As I waited for my tea kettle to boil, I perused the back of the bag containing lemon butter cookies: nothing but all-fresh ingredients and a stamped date to let me know when they had been baked (2 days ago! I’d better get snacking…). With a steaming mug of tea in hand, I was ready to experiment. Suffice it to say I don’t know which part of me loved these mouthwatering cookies more: my salivary glands or my very satisfied tummy. They are unbelievably delectable with just the right amount of sweetness. Because every bag of bakeshop cookies is handmade in small batches, they taste like they just came out of the oven.  On top of the lemon butter cookies, there are plenty of other varieties–from waffle cookies to whoopie pies–along with brownies, marshmallows and sea salt caramels. And don’t even get us started on the Cookie of the Month club. We may just have to send that one to ourselves…Take that, rainy day!

In a Nutshell: With goodies from bakeshop, you can now say the words “cookies” and “grown-up” in the same sentence. And, if your kids play nice, maybe you’ll even share some with them.


honey, i shrunk the ornaments

En route to the supermarket earlier today, I came face to face with a life-sized Hallmark Keepsake Ornament. It was glaring at me through the window of a card store, reminding me that Christmas isn’t that far off. Ah, retail…I can’t even buy my Halloween candy before you start pumping me up for Santa and his elves. With this in mind, we bring you the latest incarnation of Shrinky Dinks: a 3D Christmas set of ornaments. If you grew up with this name in your house, you have already experienced the magic behind popping your creations into Mom’s oven and watching your creations miniaturize themselves before your very eyes. If you didn’t have the luxury of playing with Shrinky Dinks (and that would be me), now you have to re-create your childhood with your own kids. This new set follows the same set of instructions as the original Shrinky Dinks: color and trace the included drawings of a stocking, Santa in his sleigh, a candy cane and other seasonal staples; line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil; carefully lay down your renderings and place in your already warmed oven…and let the fun begin. Because this mom is not a seasoned Shrinky Dinks pro, I couldn’t believe how quickly our ornaments could reduce in size! Faster than you can say “Rick Moranis,” these creations are ready to remove from your oven. Once they have properly cooled down and are ready for handling (about 5 minutes or so), with a little glue–and patience–you can assemble your ornaments into stand-up models that look great under a tabletop tree, as a playful addition to your Christmas village or on their own. We don’t know which one we love more: the Christmas tree that gives Charlie Brown a run for his money, or the gift tag that will wow any person on your list this year. Even Scrooge.

Wild Walnut Special: To get you in on the pre-holiday cheer, we’re giving away one 3D Shrinky Christmas kit to a randomly selected reader. To enter, e-mail The Talking Walnut between now and Friday, October 21 at 12 p.m. EST, and we’ll contact the winner next week. Good luck!

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lifesaving lovey

When my now-preschooler was an infant, her pacifier was her best friend…and mine. It seemed like the only way to stop her frequent crying jags was with a translucent green pacifier that quickly soothed her spirit and helped dry her tears (even if it was only for a short time), as she suckled away, Maggie Simpson-style. Sometimes, my husband and I would hold our breaths when it inadvertently popped out of her mouth, and the sleeping babe failed to notice its absence, her little lips moving back and forth, no different than before. As she matured, but had not yet grown out of the pacifier stage, we feared those moments when she would realize exactly what had happened and cry her head off. Lucky for us, she kicked this habit long before it became a problem. But those babies who are still attached to their all-day suckers, it helps to have a friend in the right place. Paci Buddy, a pacifier holder/stuffed buddy, is one first friend you and your little one will come to appreciate. This snuggly pal named MochiKo (whose endearing name means “rice cake nose” in a Japanese-Korean translation) holds a pacifier atop its head via a simple loop. Made from eco-friendly bamboo, it’s a safe way to keep your baby’s pacy contained. And when your little one has bid adieu to her pacifier, it also doubles as a snuggle buddy. We love the hidden strap that lets you secure MochiKo to your car seat or stroller, so you can take it with you, wherever you roam.

In a Nutshell: You learn quickly just how important a pacifier can be to your baby. With Paci Buddy, you don’t have to learn  that lesson the hard way. Approved by smiling babies everywhere…

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educational insights giveaway

TGIF! In honor of the upcoming weekend, we’re helping host a special promotion with toy maker Educational Insights. The company is giving away a gift card valued at $50 good towards the purchase of any Educational Insights products. All you need to do is “Like” Educational Insights on Facebook between now and Sunday, October 16 at 12 a.m. PST, and then contact The Talking Walnut. We’ll select one lucky person randomly. Good luck!

Wild Walnut Special: Start your holiday shopping now by entering to win a $50 gift card from Educational Insights.

Congratulations to Olivia L.!

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