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I recently hosted a Dippin Dots ‘Dot Monster Munch’ House Party through http://houseparty.com/. I am not being paid to blog about my experience, nor was I asked to. I was asked to share via twitter and take one picture during the party for verification that we held the party and post it to the website. They ask for your word that you’ll share the goodies as intended and that’s about it. This is pretty typical of hosting a House Party and I was thrilled to get an awesome party pack with few conditions attached.

Included from House Party were:

  • Balloons- since it was a birthday party we didn’t use these but saved them back
  • Pin back buttons- we used these as table decorations
  • Signs and poster-Didn’t use them
  • Party hats- I broke one and gave up on trying to put another one together and just used the string around my almost 3 yo’s head
  • Trading cards- These explain the ice cream flavors and everyone had a good time reading them.
  • Coupons for free shipping on an order of Dippin Dots *****
  • Cups- Paper cups with decorated plastic outer
  • Color changing spoons-these were a huge hit! Being a ‘green-ish’ mom, I washed these plastic spoons and tried them again the next morning, they still work!
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Dippin Dots shipment:

This included two bags of dry ice chunks and two 8-count boxes (one purple, one blue) of monster munch ice cream in varying flavors. There were 2 cups of each, I wish we could have just selected one or two flavors to try or mixed the boxes up, but the varieties held appeal for most everyone. Coming from DD, I assumed that it would be… well, dotty! But it was regular ice cream. If you do, in fact decide at some point to order from Dippin Dots, you can either order the multi-pack or whole boxes of a single flavor.

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Special care: There were instructions included with our party pack as to how to handle the dry ice, although it was packed in such a way that you wouldn’t even need to touch it if you didn’t want to. In descending order, the levels were:box (which I cut down the side to access the lip of the cooler), cooler, bit of paper, the boxes of ice cream, then the dry ice inside bags. It was left on my porch and didn’t require a signature, so you’d have to know when it was delivered but the ice lasted a couple of days inside the re-flapped box in a garage in the summer, and the ice cream itself takes 24 hours to temper back to edible state, so there’s not much chance of it melting before you got to it.

Halloween party treats Dippin Dots

Halloween party treats Dippin Dots

Green factor: Regular ice cream comes in a variety of different containers, so their ‘greenness’ is dependent upon which kind of container you buy. For specialty flavors, they often come in non-recyclable coated cardboard containers. Is this more green than regular ice cream? The boxes, paper, and plastic lids of the small ice cream containers are recyclable. The dry ice of course disintegrates, and the paper cups and outer plastic bags are iffy–if you have decent recycling, in your area, you might be able to recycle the bags or toss them in the bag recycling at the mega mart. So you’re left with the paper cups. Overall, not too bad for a pre-packaged and shipped product!

dippin dots ice cream

dippin dots ice cream

Review: So what’s this ice cream like? The flavors mimic other common ideas: banana, cookie dough, chocolate chunk, strawberry, etc. with a monster twist. Candy eyeballs anyone? It’s difficult in our area to find large containers of ANY flavor of ice cream. You’re limited to chocolate or vanilla. In order to serve an entire party a specialized flavor of ice cream, it would take several smaller containers that are around $4-5 each.  While not every flavor in the boxes was a winner in our books, there were several that were very good and comparable to national brands in taste and texture, with the added ‘gross’ factor of flavors such as polar bear poop and monkey mess, you are sure to find something you really enjoy. Add in that they’re pre-portioned and easy to open and you’ve got a great solution for a creepy, yet satisfying party!

icecream4

I’ve blogged about my House Party activities before, including a chatterbox program about McCormick Grill mates items and:

Fleischman’s Bread Mix

Lego Duplo (Book-block kits)

Kraft Philly Dinner Delimma (flavored cream cheese for cooking)

 

*****If you would like a free shipping coupon, please notify me in the comments or via email and I will hook you up!

 

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Make the first day of Kindergarten, Pre-school, or Day Care easier!

Make the first day of Kindergarten, Pre-school, or Day Care easier!

It’s that time of year! Late August and early September spell out b-a-c-k-t-o-s-c-h-o-o-l for many of us. Making that transition, especially that ‘first’ day of Kindergarten, pre-school, or day care is often a difficult one, causing children to be nervous about leaving “everything” behind them for so long. My first child just embarked on her Kindergarten adventure on Tuesday, and I set out to make it an easy day. The night before, I planted the seed in her mind that perhaps her favorite stuffed animal might just have an adventure without her, and tell her about it when she was falling asleep the next night. She could compare her adventures with his! It gave her something to think about the night before school started and help her get off to dreamland with happy thoughts!
Because of its’ simplicity, this concept could be used for anything from a doll to a blanket to a football to a doctor’s kit. Whatever your child loves the most and will miss as it is ‘left behind’–that’s what you use! All that’s required is some way to take photos, the object in question, and a healthy dose of imagination. Whatever your child loves, go for it! In this case, my child is used to a stuffed animal going on long trips with us, but NEVER short ones. Longer trips require that lovies stay IN THE VEHICLE and take a nap. So when we suggested that Pooh get in the vehicle for the short drive to school, much happiness ensued!
kfirstday

Once she was dropped off at school, Pooh got into her seat, and ‘saved’ it for her! What a great pal! We’re off on our adventure! If you’re walking to school or taking the bus, you could easily take a picture of the lovey at the front door, mailbox, or anywhere else that appears to be ‘waiting’!

Saving the child's 'seat'!

Saving the child’s ‘seat’!

Move on to the next part of your adventures! We took our other kids to the store, so here’s a ‘shot’ of him eying the groceries and other goodies! If you felt comfortable using a grocery basket or cart as a prop, or taking the critter to the gym with you, etc. Whatever you do next, get involved with the environment! Just make sure, like ‘Wilson’ from Castaway, that your child’s lovey doesn’t get left behind!

Went shopping for fun things!

Went shopping for fun things!

Then, of course, it started raining, so we watched it out the window for a while! So sad! Something they could share, since recess was rained out! Use your house, car, front door, anything familiar as props so that it’s easy to realize at a glance where the lovey is ‘missing’ the child from! I guess it’s kind of like Flat Stanley, with more dimension!

Watching it rain

Watching it rain

Since we have younger children, we wanted to get them involved, so he ‘watched the movie’ with the other kids! You could easily set this up without siblings, but with other friends like a Toy Story adventure! Hey, make it up if your day isn’t exciting! This is for your child, whatever you think would cater to them. Princess tea party? Pass the sugar and put on a crown! Bob the Builder? Put your ‘bud’ in a dump truck!

Watched a movie with younger siblings!

Picture this: Lovey watched a movie with younger siblings!

This I think is the BEST idea that I had! Get the buddy involved in the making (or buying, whatever you have time for) a special treat for after ‘school’!  This will make your child’s day! You could pick up pizza, chop veggies, hide behind the fruit bowl- the opportunities for a ‘food-venture’ really are endless.. but if you want what we did…. here’s a special treat just for my readers….

Making a treat!

Lovey making a treat to welcome child back from the first day of school!

For our cookie recipe, click this link: Back to school snack

Once you finish with your adventure picture taking, get ready to sit back, share the pictures with your little one after that looooong day of ‘missing’ and say that of course the ‘friend’ had so many more adventures to share with your child later, but first they want to hear about school! This way, as the child tells the friend about his/her adventure, you get to hear it, too! Don’t forget to take the buddy back with you to pick up the child, or leave it right near the entrance to your home for a long awaited hug!

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Either you’ve had that big day already, or you’re going to soon, it’s back to school time! Want the perfect snack? How about the world’s best chocolate chip cookies? Want the recipe? Keep reading! You can make it a smooth transition for younger children by having them welcome the big kid(s) home on the first day. It’s a great tradition to start, as it’s a fairly easy task, minimal clean up, and the kids can be as involved as you want them to be, depending on age or stage. No littles? No problem. Get a ‘buddy’ in on the act!

 

Helping make cookies for the back-to-school kid!

Helping make cookies for the back-to-school kid!

cookies for the kindergartener

cookies for the kindergartener

 You know the mechanics of making cookies, right? here’s the ingredients!

World's best chocolate chip cookies!

World’s best chocolate chip cookies!

 

These are also great post-partum or freezer items, because a large one is really enough for dessert, and a small one is not too big for a quick nibble between feedings!

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Wordless Wednesday: I spy!

Posted August 13, 2014 By Jill
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I had this post ready 3 weeks ago, and since then, 2 other bloggers have put out print games! Great minds, right? Well, figured since I have my ‘stash shot’ (no longer current, curse you Kelly’s Closet!) that I’d roll it out and see who wants to play my game! I spy _____ ! What do you see?!? What’s on your ‘stash’ bucket list? What’s your must have that you don’t already have?

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(affiliate link in post)

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The next big thing in cloth diapers?

Posted August 11, 2014 By Jill
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Disclosure

When it comes to cloth diapers, everybody’s looking for the next big thing. Retailers are trying to stock limited editions before they sell out. If you haven’t seen this yet, click here to find out if they are Good for the Cloth Diaper Industry?  Companies are attempting to come up with the newest, the best, things that have never been done before. New ideas = new customers! New customers are good for business! Bloggers want to get their hands on what’s new and up and coming, to give things away, be the first to publish a review, to get a wider audience.

Then there’s the everyday run of the mill cloth diaperer. These consumers want something cute. The want something cheap. They want something that works, really works, and is going to LAST. Something that is easy to wash and won’t get the stinkies. They want something easy to use that will work for babysitters. Sometimes it’s hard to get all of those things into one nice, neat little package. Really, in one package.  Sometimes mixing and matching is what it’s all about. Who wants to take the time, money or energy to custom-fit something just for your cloth diaper stash? Then to replicate it over and over again until your stash is ‘complete’? <— as if that’s even possible! All kidding aside, I think *I* have the solution. Ask anyone what their favorite diapers are, and you’ll get dozens of different responses.

what's the next big thing?

what’s the next big thing? Prefolds?

Some people swear by prefolds.  In my experience, prefold diapers are great for the newborn stage. They do require a few washings to become fully absorbent and quilted like the picture above.  There’s a small learning curve, but they’re super inexpensive and almost impossible to damage. You can really do a lot to them and still have them end up in excellent shape. They often come in sizes with different edge colors, like the Imagine ones shown above.

Are flats the next big thing?

Are flats the next big thing?

Flat diapers are great. Just ask anyone who took on the Flats Challenge the last few years. There’s some great stuff on Kim’s site, check it out (but come back!) Some people who did so even sold all their pricy diapers to use flats full time–even though they were hand scrubbing them!  If that doesn’t tell you something about how great they are, then consider that they were used for generations before us because they wash, dry, clean and absorb to perfection. They have to be folded, of course, which bothers some people. I’ve had good luck with most of them, including Blueberry which are some of the largest we have–great for a heavy wetter. Perhaps the softest was the Geffen Baby Hemp/Cotton Jersey Flat. I reviewed both of these several years ago when I made the switch from microfiber inserts. I have a somewhat hate/hate relationship with microfiber, which led me to setting most of it on fire a few weeks ago. Feel free to read more about that here: Torching my Microfiber. Hopefully it will make you laugh, and not cry. No useful diapers were harmed in the making of that blog post!

All in ones and All in twos typically only have one choice because they are a self-contained system. Whether they’re sewn in or snap in, you still have to sacrifice some of the integrity of the product to get what you want. You lose choice to gain trimness and ease of use. A cover or pocket system is still the best bet if you’re wanting options.  Although you’ve always had the choice of the inserts I’ve mentioned above (and more), most modern pocket diapers or all in twos have only one ‘automatic’ option for their inserts. Unless you have enough patience and are lucky enough to score seconds or choose a used diaper, you’re almost always paying the price of having a specific insert included in the cost, and the shipment. Never heard of a ‘seconds’ diaper? Read more about it: What are seconds? When learning about cloth diapers, you don’t always get all the information that you might want right away. You may never know that hemp inserts exist. Or bamboo. Or that some people go down to their nearest mega-mart and buy 5-packs of flour sack towels when they’re in a bind. It’s one of the first things I recommend when someone says ‘I don’t have much money’, or ‘I need something I can buy locally to get me through.’ The truth is that nearly anything absorbent will work, it’s what gets millions of women in other cultures by with only rags to diaper their babies–and our culture circa the pre-1960′s disposable era.

If you choose, you can't lose!

Inserts: If YOU choose, you can’t lose!

So. You may be wondering where I’m going with all this. Choice. It’s what I hear echoed over and over again chat groups, give me more CHOICES. If you choose, then you can’t lose, right? Don’t make me forsake my beloved brand because it only uses microfiber. Or have a heavy wetter. Or give us the OPTION of a natural insert to pair with my favorite system. The next big thing? CHOICES. They’re out there, but you have to DIY. Mix and match. Buy a particular brand only to discover you didn’t read closely enough and it has a fabric you don’t want included. Ordering a pocket diaper from a company? How about a choice of a prefold, flat, or microfiber insert instead of just ‘as is’? Or only the cover itself (thank you Applecheeks for that option!) so you can use whatever you want inside. For me (and a lot of other people).. THAT is the next big thing. CHOICE. Will manufacturers of pocket diaper systems and more AI2′s jump on the bandwagon and answer the call that has gone out so many times in online discussions? Only time will tell.

 

What do you think? What’s the next big thing? What do you want that you haven’t found yet?

This post contains affiliate links.

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What are seconds in cloth diapers?

Posted August 10, 2014 By Jill
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seconds

seconds

Seconds cloth diapers are cloth diapers with perfect function, but imperfect aesthetics. In short, they could be dirty, have a crooked tag, seams sewn with the wrong color thread, extra seams, etc. These are sold as a discount, and typically have no warranty.

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They often have a mark placed on the tag to indicate that they are seconds quality. This prevents the warranty from being enacted and also for those in the know to re-sell them at a profit. After all, if they only paid 2/3 of the price new, why should you pay them 2/3 for them used?

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A seconds quality will have a lower re-sale value since it has a lower initial cost. If it’s a pocket diaper, it doesn’t usually come with an insert. You only find these direct from manufacturers websites, and only a few times a year. Often the sales are not announced publicly until most if not all of the stock is gone, and often is only emailed or otherwise sent as a notification to private groups aligned with the manufacturer. If you know what diapers you like, and have the cash, seconds diapers are a great deal–if you can find them.

Seconds quality diapers purchased through retailer

Seconds quality diapers purchased through retailer

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Butterbeer Recipe

Posted July 31, 2014 By Jill
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Follow link to website for tutorial/recipe.

Follow link to website for recipe notes.

Happy Birthday Harry Potter! July 31, 1980 is the birthday for the well loved children’s book character. Mr. Potter would be 34 this year, and well overage and eligible for a drink in a pub. This recipe is for overage wizards only (if you have to ask if you are overage, you are not and should not attempt to purchase, make or drink this concoction!) If you don’t speak ‘Potter’ that means it has alcohol. Follow all muggle laws regarding alcohol in your state, country, municipality, etc. We are not responsible for you, your welfare or anything you do with this recipe. Okay then, ready to carry on?

 

Items of note:

  • This is a fairly simple recipe. You may adapt it to your taste.
  • We used a diet soda to cut calories.
  • The particular vodka we purchased was very strong so beware!
  • The finished potion tastes like candy. Keep out of reach of children and anyone irresponsible. You have been warned!

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Strictly speaking, my religion forbids the drinking of alcohol. However I do know of several pastors, parishioners, and the like that do.
I rarely drink and never to excess, nor do I talk about it overmuch.Some say we never should, for fear of tempting someone.
No I don’t think that anyone will be led astray by me posting about it.
If you have an alcohol problem, please go to a meeting.
I am not responsible for your decisions.
Only you are.

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Wordless Wednesday: Housework helpers

Posted July 30, 2014 By Jill
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Ad for de-gnoming

Ad for de-gnoming

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I can’t let Maria at Change Diapers have all the Meme fun–she has a 3 part series you can click here to start off with: Cloth Diaper Memes!

One occurred to me, and I thought I’d share with you…

pin me!

pin me!

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cartoonquotes

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I wrote a little while back about the insanity that’s taking place in cloth diapering circles. It’s a humorous piece giving let’s just say a cartoonish voice to things you wish you could say during one of these dramatic encounters. Zoinks! If the picture above looks familiar, then you’ve probably already seen it, if not, then click the following link to see my post to END DIAPER DRAMA. I actually kind of thought that it was a one time thing, but lately it seems like drama is getting to be the norm. Some of this stems from limited edition cloth diapers. Now, certain manufacturers have always had limited edition or low release diapers, but they were WAHMs or true unicorn diapers (unreachable by almost everyone because of their rarity and expense), but now some major brands are getting on the LE bandwagon. When you bring that unicorn notion to the mainstream, especially at regular prices, that’s when the real drama begins. Over diapers, really? So the question is, does this help or hinder the cloth diaper world? Yes, we have our own world.

 

For manufacturers, the limited edition provides many positives:

  • Hype. Let’s face it, drama = serious $$$. Yes, like Cabbage Patch in 1984 and Tickle Me Elmo in 1997, people are FIGHTING over these limited edition diapers. “Everyone” wants the it diaper and must have it. Everyone know it’s coming, but not when! People are saving their hard earned cash for months until that special day that a certain print finally is released….and whether you like it or not, you might just press that ‘buy now’ button. Because you don’t to want to regret not buying it, right?
  • It sells itself: It’s a great way to influx cash with basically no marketing. Your customers do it for you.
  • New customer retention: If you miss this one, then there’s always another one coming, and it keeps people hanging on waiting to see what’s next-especially if they’re new to cloth diapering.
  • No leftover stock. We’ve all seen the attempts to get rid of failed colors-buy $x get this color free, here’s a package of one diaper you want and 2 that no one really wants! With a set number of diapers, plenty will be disappointed, but the manufacturers won’t to be stuck with them five years later, either.
  • Influence in the retailer community: There’s got to be a lot of schmoozing happening by the retailers who want to get the release stocked ASAP, get more diapers per batch, be considered first in line for shipments, etc. We’re humans, and on some level, being in demand feels good.
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There are some obvious negatives, mostly for the rest of the community:

  • Creation of a scalper’s market: Good for the scalper, bad for anyone who wants one at retail and can’t get it.
  • Poor customer service: It’s hard to replace a limited edition diaper that has manufacturer defects if there aren’t any left.
  • Retailer tension: If you’re not picked for a release or get fewer diapers, customers won’t flock to you the next time around. There are easily 10x as many people looking for a print to stock at retailers than they can possibly supply. It puts the burden of crashed websites, items stolen re-listed out of a person’s cart who isn’t fast enough with the credit card number entry, all on them. They take the heat from all the disappointed would-be buyers who have a bad taste in their mouths. Which leads to….
  • The ‘bad taste in the mouth’ phenomena which takes several forms:
    • The poor getting poorer–people who can’t afford a diaper until the end of the month, have slow internet, don’t have a retail store close by, etc. These people are going to end up feeling like losers at some point. It breeds contempt. Especially if they have to choose to decide to pay a scalper’s price for it a week, a month, a year later.
    • Brand loyalist alienation–those people with every single color and print, those double rainbows that go unfulfilled, that’s a bitter pill to swallow.
    • Hard to impress–these are the people that have been around for a while. They might be on their 2nd or 3rd child and just looking for something fun. They have money to spend, but they’re not impressed by every single thing out there. They want it to be special. Since tastes vary so widely, it’s hard to capture these old-timers attentions. They don’t want to be in the fray. It’s annoying. They have better things to do than sit by the computer and stalk each store as it stocks in somewhat frenzied desperation. They’re the old guard– and they’re not happy that diapering has become a competition and something to fight over. They see their hard-won community crumbling into a mess of nay-saying newbies and bragging, ‘I got it first, see our OTB shot’ before half the internet even knows there’s a new print out there. It’s disheartening.

So what have we learned from all of this? The few people that have delamination issues or broken snaps on a new favorite are going to be heartbroken and disillusioned. The alienated brand loyalists and old guard (been there done that) are going to likely start mentioning other brands when they are confronted with those new to cloth instead of suggesting brands that seem unattainable. Will there be a fallout? Perhaps. It will be something that’s chipped away at a little at a time. But, since the hype is way more potent than the loyally discontent? It seems like limited editions are here to stay. Those few negatives aren’t enough to outweigh the positives that make big bucks for a brand. Are they good for the industry as a whole? That remains to be seen. In order to find out about these LE’s, you have to join specific groups or stalk certain websites. These sites are not always positive. Who really wants to join in a cultural movement where people are nasty to each other? Where the only group you might join fights all the time and attacks other moms for a purchase, for selling something, for not selling something, for having an opinion that isn’t the same as yours? Where just a few years ago there was a strong community of people who enjoyed sharing information, it’s become a knock-down drag out where the more seasoned stay away, because there’s nothing for them. Instead of being warmly welcomed or helped when you have wash issues, the first response is ‘what do you have to sell? any hard to finds?’ not ‘let me help you troubleshoot’…. you might be drawing in more people because of the hype, you’re less likely to have them stay because of the tone of the overall community. I’ll leave the conclusions up to you.

 

Remembering that this is a page that requests kindness…What do you think?

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