Monthly Archives: June 2015

A Kiwi Crate Review – Spheres and Their Peers

I’m constantly seeking new ways to keep my children entertained, especially so now that school is out for the summer. I heard about subscription box company Kiwi Crate from a friend and after they ran a sign-up promo for 30% off finally decided to bite. Readers: Use the referral link at the end of this review and take $10 off your initial subscription, which is a much better deal than the promo currently running.

Every month, Kiwi Crate sends a box with 2-3 activities intended to “inspire creativity and pique curiosity” in children aged 4-8. My kids are both creative AND curious, so some simple, age-appropriate activities like this would be right up their alley.

Kiwi Crate has several different sign-up and add-on options for their activity boxes. This was a little overwhelming when I initially attempted to sign-up.  Too many choices can sometimes be a bad thing. Do I want to save some money by going for the 6 or 12-month subscription plan? I definitely do…but the promo I want to use only worked for the 1-month price. I wasn’t even sure if we were going to like the first box, so I shouldn’t commit myself to a full years worth if it’s not going to work out. I understand they’re trying to sell the more expensive in the long-run monthly subscription, but seeing so many options just made me want to click-away altogether, and that isn’t a good way to drive business! There is also an option to subscribe to a “deluxe” version with a special book that comes with the box for an extra $9 AND a $10 option to add extra materials for a sibling. Both options were interesting, but ay ay ay, my head was swimming with too many choices – because in addition to the Kiwi Crate box, there are MORE boxes geared toward different age cohorts.

My 3-year-old is two weeks away from turning 4 (yippee!) so I decided to order one regular box with the promo code for both children to split. If it goes well, we can continue and upgrade. If it’s a flop then I won’t be out much time or money.

OUR CRATE: 3-D SHAPES

There was some lag time between ordering and receiving our shipment as Kiwi Crate ships out in the middle of each month. Nevertheless, I was excited when I saw our shipment notification!

nice manicure!

nice manicure!

happy pride week, friends!

happy pride week, friends!

3-D shapes – spheres, cubes, pyramids – and tangrams! And bubbles! Neat! I think my girls will be excited about this. Of course, receiving ANY kind of box in the mail with their names on it is cause for celebration and excitement. We broke into the bubbles first and saved the tangrams for another day. One thing at a time, comrades.

PROJECT #1: 3-D Bubble Wands

Making bubble wands was pretty fun. It required a good deal of my involvement. My girls were able to put together a simple triangle and square bubble wand with cut up straw pieces and pipe cleaners. Mom got fancy and made a cube wand.

eye-see-you!

eye-see-you!

Kiwi Crate sent a bubble solution and bubble stabilizer (dish soap and sugar?) which you mixed with 4 cups of water. I quartered the recipe since we didn’t want to make a big ol’ sticky bubble mess. The girls had a good time blowing bubbles and I had some mixture to save for later. Total time occupied: 30 mins.

how's about some bubbly

how’s about some bubbly

PROJECT #2: Tangrams

This project involved dyeing negative-space wax relief wooden blocks to use as tangram shapes. Kiwi Crate sent along 7 small wood blocks, one white crayon, dye tablets in pink and blue, and a packet of sheets of tangram games you could assemble. I thought this was the better of the two activities as it was more hands-on for the kids and it’s something we can keep and enjoy for a while!

kiwicrate5

I was able to work one-on-one with each girl while the other was busy at summer camp, so we dyed half the blocks with the pink dye and the other half blue (pink being the first one chosen, of course). I made an example doodle with the white crayon and each girl put minimal effort into their design. An older child would perhaps be more into this one. I think the most fun part for each of them was shaking the blocks and dyeing the wood!

shake it, don't break it

shake it, don’t break it

After the blocks dried, we were able to put a couple of the example tangrams together from the puzzle sheets that Kiwi Crate sent. I felt this project went well. It took about 20 minutes to put together and it’s something we can save and use later.

trying not to think of 80's rock right now

trying not to think of 80’s rock right now

KIWI CRATE! My overall opinion:

While it was overwhelming at first to select a subscription option, I felt the projects were fun and entertaining for my kids. They certainly were not bored and we each had fun doing the projects together. I think Kiwi Crate has earned a second try, perhaps with the deluxe book option this time because we love to read every night. The projects were definitely something that required mom-involvement. Maybe an 8 year old could tackle these on their own, but my younger ones definitely needed some guidance. The verdict is…I’ll give them another try and if you want to also you can use my referral link and save $10 off a box.  Have fun!

http://www.kiwicrate.com/Refer?i=HelenG6


Blue Apron 33: Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches w Fingerling Potato Salad & Creamy Coleslaw

MMM…potato salad…coleslaw…BBQ…buns! This is everything great about picnic food rolled up into one simple recipe.

I haven’t been doing write-ups lately because I’m so bored writing about dinner. UGH. There are only so many ways you can talk about poaching chicken. But I will get to my goal of 40 dinners – I can do this! This is the year I set out to finish projects and by god, I will get to 40!

bbqchicken2

So – this Blue Apron recipe had high expectations. Don’t you just want to stuff your face in all of that? Usually when something looks amazing in the recipe card photo, the outcome is never as good as your imagination. It’s why even supermodels get dumped, right? No, don’t follow that comparison.

The potato buns they sent were as good as promised! They stayed fresh and soft after a day in the fridge and two days in transit. There were probably some kinds of preservatives in there like in most grocery store bakery items, but we don’t have to fight that particular battle now. Let’s just enjoy them for the fluffy flavor pillows they are.

bbqchicken3

The ingredient and prep time was quick and simple. The first step was poaching and shredding the chicken. During that process, I washed and cut the potatoes, cabbage, radishes, and scallions, and combined the mayonnaise and mustard which was used in both the coleslaw and potato salad sides.

ready to picnic

ready to picnic

My opinion of both sides was rather, “meh”. The coleslaw was a little too vinegary for my taste and it’s a nitpicky thing, but radish in coleslaw looks better when it’s finely sliced. Just my opinion. The potato salad was okay, but again with the nitpicks, I think potato salad is something better served cold. If I had more time and didn’t have a hungry family to feed, I would have chilled it in the fridge for a couple hours. The BBQ chicken was decent but I’m a little disappointed that Blue Apron included a jar of already made BBQ sauce. In Blue Apron style, I would have expected to whip up some of my own!. Granted, this did cut down on the meal prep-time but if I know my generic grocery store BBQ sauces, this tasted like the Sweet Baby Ray’s brand. That’s my guess and while that’s all good, this added to the “hmm, could have picked up these ingredients and made this one myself” factor.

I could have made better

I could have made it  better

Points for being a recipe we all enjoyed, kids included, on a hot summer evening out on the deck and for being quick and easy to whip up in a pinch. Yes, I know it’s not “officially” summer yet, but screw your solstice; summer begins June 1st in the Northern Half of the world so sayeth me.

bbqchicken


Product Review – ORA Organic Supplements

prodaew

Usually when you add protein powder to smoothies and shakes you have to brace yourself for the slightly-off chalky taste that dominates the beverage. I normally guilt-trip myself into adding a scoop because it feels healthier. Turns out that nutritionally, you’re not doing your health any favor by adding protein powder into those smoothies or shakes. Your body digests the protein first, leaving the sugars to hang out and turn into fat.

I was pleasantly surprised the other day to discover that my drink, consisting of Almond Milk, Ice, and Organic Superfood Protein by Ora actually tasted like a Vanilla Chai!

Not chalky.

Not gritty.

Delicious!

I went and ordered the full container. I was visiting my parent’s this weekend and they had some available to sample, but after that great experience I’m going to get some for my family. I have a feeling the kids will like this because it’s tasty and vanilla.

I also got to sample Ora’s plant-based Omega 3 spray, cleverly called “Nothing Fishy Here”. It’s a revolutionary new way of Omega 3 intake which eliminates the need for fish oil capsules. Are you a fan of vurping fish oil? Umm, me either. It felt a little odd at first to spray a mysterious substance in my mouth. Ora claims this is a more efficient means of delivering the nutrient as it eliminates toxic oxidation. The pineapple flavor was not off-putting in the slightest. Currently the product runs for $30 per bottle for a one month supply. This struck me as pricy and hopefully there will be a price-drop once they get going. Right now you can use the coupon code valid through June 17 “oralaunch” to save 30% off your order. The discount was what helped me pull the trigger on purchasing. As for the health benefits of Omega 3? I’ll have to wait and see. I’ve decided to go back to school for a Masters Degree (Fall 2016) so perhaps this will help me beef up the old brain and memory.

I wasn’t able to sample the Organic Probiotics but with the savings of the coupon code, placed an order for all 3 of their products direct ship to our house! Use the code and give them a try! The code “orabegins2015” will grant you access to the website to check out supplements… re-imagined!

ORA.ORGANIC