October 27, 2010

I kind of loved Hexbugs, until I had to buy batteries for my Hexbug inchworm today and made the mistake of getting them at Radio Shack.  I needed four batteries (2 for the bug, 2 for the remote), which totalled $18.49 (11.99 for a 3 pack and 4.99 for a single, plus tax).  The inchworm  itself is 19.99!  The batteries are much cheaper on the Hexbug site (2 for $3.99, + shipping?), but still, that’s a high price for battery replacement.  Any toy that needs multiple button batteries is my enemy.  Do yourself a favor and talk your kid out of wanting a Hexbug.


How do you organize your Lego collection?

October 25, 2010

You just totally opened up a cän of wörms so big, that it needed umlauts!  I spent months of my life washing, organizing and finding the proper containers for our family Lego collection, and here are the results of all of my husband’s and my trial and error.  I’m not saying our methodology is perfect.  Far from it, but I tried to use stuff we already had around the house, stuff that would fit in the space we had, as well as divide everything for maximum ease of building.  Warning – our system makes deconstruction organizing incredibly time consuming and it is a project unto itself, but as a family, we decided buildability was our priority.  And man, we can build.

Our Miniland, Summer 2010


  • Container store Clear Storage Boxes –  My “lg” is the regular sweater box, my “med lg” is the men’s shoe box, my “med” is the regular shoe box, and my “sm” is the accessory box.
  • The Keter Cantilever Tool Box.  It’s a 27-bin organizer and it’s delightful!!!!!  I would recommend it for nearly any kind of storage, and it’s especially good for Lego because it opens up so nicely! Loved it so much, I bought TWO.  I’m not kidding.  Love it!
  • Snapware – Medium snap ‘n stack with 6 sectional dividers – Fabulous – love these!  And, they are so useful for everything.  We used these when we wanted to take Lego and other toys/crafts/drawing supplies out to a friend’s house or restaurant, also.
  • Madesmart modular trays – white small bin pack – I don’t know if they still sell white, but the black/graphite ones work just as well!
  • Misc Sterilite bins and old Lego education bins
  • If you’re looking for a more high design look, check out these acrylic boxes from Containables.  I didn’t use any of these, but if I had to do it over again, I might.  They look great!

This is what it all looks like put together:

It will never be this “put away” again.

Here’s the break down:

Clear Storage Boxes and similar


  • LG containers (1 container per type):
    1x bricks
    2x bricks – 2×4 and smaller
    Ramps, slants and roofs
    Wheels, wheel hubs and misc wheel stuff
    Base plates
    Windshields, windows, doors, hatches, ladders and stairs
    Odds #2 – boat/pirate, castle, soccer, UFO/Space odds
  • Med Lg containers (1 container per type):
    Hulls, truck fronts, skis and turbos
    Larger plates (smaller than baseplates, larger than 2x plates)
    Train Tracks
    2x Plates
    Odds #1 – All  other odds not in Odds #2
  • Med containers (1 container per type)
    Slanted Plates
    Technic Beams
    1x Plates
    NXT Electrical
    2x Bricks (2×6 and larger)
  • Sm Containers (1 container per type)
    Minifig Accessories

Keter Tool Box  (27 bins – 12 small, 15 large) – too much to catalog.  Here are some pictures:

  • Keter 1

This one is more on the decorative side, with pips, printed tiles, curves, corners, chairs, fences, direction changers, etc.

  • Keter 2

This one is more technical, with Technic pieces, bushings, connectors, axle extenders, axles, etc.

  • Snapware: (mostly Technic stuff)

Mostly Technic stuff

  • Madesmart stuff – miscellaneous stuff – I keep a special container of 1×1 plates, even though they are also in my 1x plate box because often I need a lot of them at once for sculptural work.

Miscellaneous stuff – oh, I have a lot more foliage, but it’s being used in Miniland right now.

All of the crazy Bionicle stuff we have is just in a big box in the closet.

Alert: Whole Foods Sale

October 24, 2010

I don’t know how wide-spread sales at Whole Foods are.  But in NYC, these are some of the things on Sale til 11/2/10:

* Whole Jurlique line.  It’s expensive stuff to begin with, but the discounts are pretty good.

* Van’s waffles 2 for $5 (and the dollar-off coupon from the last circular is still good)

* A bunch of Amy’s frozen foods.

* Chia seeds (I bought the Navitas Naturals ones, though a few brands were on sale)

* Julie’s Organic ice cream treats – I like to have the Juliette ice cream sandwiches around for my kid, because they are small.  Desserts, if you’re going to have them at all, should be small, and these are the right size.

*Ecover dishwashing liquid and dishwasher powder (if I’m remembering correctly, it seemed like Seventh Generation was still cheaper per unit, though, at least in the bigger sizes)

Not on sale, but I’m happy that:

* GT Dave’s Kombucha is back in Whole Foods!

* I found Jovial brand pasta!  The wheat they use has only 2 chromosomes, so it’s supposed to be easier to digest.

What is your stance on straws?

October 20, 2010

OMG.  Don’t even get me started!  Too late!

I like the concept of straws in that you’re not putting your mouth on the same surface as everyone else who had a drink in a restaurant.  However, what a waste of plastic, and what kind of plastic is it anyway?  It was this thinking that led me to buy my first reusable straws — stainless steel ones from Kegworks — many years ago, when my son drank the majority of his drinks out of straws.  They are sturdy and will probably last a lifetime, but I really don’t like to drink out of stainless steel.

Last week, I found a very sturdy glass straw at One Lucky Duck.  It’s made by Glass Dharma, and it seems like it will last a long time.  I got the bendy straw.  Yes, they have carrying cases, but I would think a large toothbrush holder would be fine, especially if you’ve already got one around the house for travel and you don’t have to go out and buy new plastic.  See, it’s not the plastic itself I am so against, it is the drinking something through plastic.

Speaking of plastic and drinking, disposable take out cups for coffee and tea are lined with something that seems to me like it leaches into the water when the water is very hot.  I did a side by side test at a restaurant with drinking tea out of a mug and a take out cup and I could really taste it when I compared it like this.  I looked it up and it’s usually a film of polyethylene plastic that gets applied to the inside of paper cups used for hot liquids.  I would guess (I have no data on this) that it is bad for you and the leaching is worse when the water is hotter.  Avoid take out cups when you can and if you can’t, if you are drinking tea, I would advise you to have the server put ice or cooler water in the cup first, especially if they’re putting boiling hot water in there (tea, especially green tea should be brewed at a much, much lower temperature anyway).  I’m not a coffee drinker, but I don’t think you can do this with coffee, because it would mess up the coffee too much – maybe if you put cold milk in the cup first (if you drink milk with your coffee)?  Oh, and avoid drinking through one of those take-out lids!  They’re usually made from polystyrene, which is not a good thing to have your food packaged in, so it just makes sense not to drink a hot liquid through it.

The original question was about straws, so to get back to the topic, I am very much in favor of reusable straws, especially made of glass, but if you bring your own straw to a restaurant, expect to be considered a freak.  I’m ok with that, but I thought it was worth mentioning.


October 5, 2010

Oh, dear God, YES!  Watercress!

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