Friday, November 22, 2013

SqueeZurts reusable snack tubes in action

A couple of months ago, I posted about SqueeZurts reusable snack tubes and I was excited to give them a try. I ordered them directly from the Squeezurts website and I have been using them for over a month. I decided to go for the super starter kit which includes;

6 SqueeZurt tubes
20 twist ties
2 L'il hands cold sleeves (to protect little hands from getting too cold)
1 squeeze dispenser
1 wooden drying rack

The tubes are currently available in two color options; rainbow zebra or teal circles. I chose the teal circles and this is what I received in my box.

I was happy with everything in the box, except the wooden drying rack. There is something about it I didn't like so I never used it. It just didn't seem to be 'food grade' to me. It seemed like the type of wood that can't handle being repeatedly exposed to moisture. It also seemed kinda worn and weathered, so I decided to dump it in my reject pile. My husband didn't like the look of it either and suggested that I just dry the tubes on our spinning bottle rack.

Initially when I got these tubes I thought they could be a replacement for pouches like The Little green pouch, but as you can see from the side by side comparison photos below, this tube has a teeny capacity in comparison so it definitely doesn't compare. The little green pouch has a capacity of 7oz but the tube holds less then 2 oz by my measurement. Another important difference is that the squeeZurt tube doesn't have an airtight self seal, so its not as secure for being transported in a cooler and runs the risk of leaking.

Aside from those two issues, I love these tubes. They are superb. They are the best way to create a healthy frozen treat for your little ones. My daughter's face lights up when she sees me grabbing one of these from the freezer for her. They are so easy to use. After washing the tubes, I simply fill the squeeze bottle with homemade apple sauce, pear puree or diluted prune juice and then transfer the contents into the tube! Its that easy. Once I fill the tube about 60% full, I followed the manufacturers instructions on how to close them, as shown on their website " Lay a twist tie perpendicular to the top opening of the SqueeZurt.  Roll the tube  down around the twist tie 3-5 times.  Bend the ends of the twist tie around the back of the tube and twist together.take one of the twist ties, lay it flat"

Then I place the tubes in the freezer and within a few hours the tubes are frozen and ready to eat. The first time I froze them I made a mistake and placed them upright in the freezer instead of laying them flat. Laying them flat is best because the liquid expands as it freezes. Because of my mistake one of the tubes burst so I threw it out. and now I'm down to only 5. Since then however I have learnt my lesson and always make sure to lay them flat until they are frozen.

They are really easy to clean I use my set of munchkin mini brushes to clean it and then I store the dry tubes in the fridge until the next time I need to use them. Every sunday I cook up a fresh batch of fruit puree for her yogurt at daycare, and now I make a little extra for her squeezurt tubes. She loves having this as a treat after  dinner, and I can feel great about giving it to her because I know the ingredients are 100% fruit cooked up in my own kitchen, with no added mystery ingredients.

The cold hand sleeves are really basic so I can easily make more of them with my sewing machine, but I've been too busy so far and haven't gotten around to it. So I just rotate the two that I have, they dry very fast. 

So far I haven't used these tubes for yogurt yet because it is easier to freeze the fruit puree on its own. I also haven't tried transporting these outside my home because I worry that as they thaw, they might leak. I think resealable pouches like The little green pouch are best for transporting purees on the go and squeezurts are more ideal for treats at home. Overall I'm really glad I purchased these and I'm seriously considering buying another set as my daughter gets older.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A tale of two kitchens

As a child I was was always fascinated with toys that mimicked real life appliances. At one point my parents bought me a toy ironing set, complete with a red checkered ironing board and an iron that connected to the wall with a suction pad.  I adored it! I loved pretending I was really ironing my doll's clothing!   Although I never owned a play kitchen, I enjoyed having fun with it at my friend's house and always longed to have my very own play kitchen. Even as a child I recognized that the play options were endless; there always seemed to be so much to do with a play kitchen and all that plastic food!

During my pregnancy, whilst shopping for baby gear I came across several cute play kitchens, and I made a mental note to come back to them when my daughter was old enough. Now that she is 19 months old, I think it's a great time to start looking for one especially with all the holiday sales coming up.  The great thing about a play kitchen is that it encourages a child to use their imagination in ways that most electronic toys will not. It gives them the opportunity to learn the motions of running a multi-appliance kitchen in the same way they have seen grown ups doing it. Best of all it is a great toy to encouraging sharing, playing with others and working as part of a team. Whilst many toys are still marketed specifically for boys or girls, a play kitchen is a gender neutral toy that works equally well for both genders.

 My daughter already loves our kitchen, and always wants to be in there moving things around and creating havoc. We installed a gate to keep her out of the kitchen but that hasn't diminished her love for being in there. She especially loves helping me unpack groceries, and stacking small cartons into the lower shelves. she knows exactly where we keep certain things and runs back and forth to get all the little items properly stored away. She also loves to pretend she is cooking with me, so I give her own little pot and a wooden spoon, she will drum away for hours.  Unfortunately the kitchen is not always the safest place for her, so sometimes I have to ignore her crying and lock her out. This is one of the reasons I can't wait for her to have her own little play kitchen where she can safely play as much as her heart desires.  I have also seen her playing with the toy kitchens at her daycare and know she really has a lot of fun with it.

After looking at many options out there I realized that some of the best toy kitchens are made by KidKraft. I really liked all the KidKraft kitchens I looked at but eventually narrowed down my choices to two; the Uptown kitchen and the Vintage kitchen

[1] Kid Kraft Uptown Kitchen 

Just like the name suggest the Uptown kitchen is sleek and modern.  It is quite large, so it's perfect for a child to grow with. The recommended age for this is 3yrs and up. 

KidKraft Uptown Kitchen (Espresso)
Dimensions: 42.5 x 17.1 x 41 inches

KidKraft Uptown Kitchen (Natural)

I really like all the details on this kitchen, the little chalk board on the freezer door, the water dispenser, the deep sink and rack for a dish towel. It looks like a real kitchen that I would actually buy for myself!

I also like that it is made out of wood (composite), and that there are two color options; the dark espresso or the brighter natural finish.

My main concern about the Uptown kitchen is that it might be too large for our home. I also worried that I would have to wait til my daughter was three years old to get it, since that is manufacturer's recommended age for it. However after doing more research I realized that most of the sturdier better quality kitchens have the same recommended age due to the small parts that might come detached and become a choking hazard. As long as she is supervised while playing with it she should be fine. 

I also noticed that most people who own the Uptown kitchen complain that it is a real pain in the neck to assemble, but since my husband and I both love a challenging DIY, I'm hoping this shouldn't be an issue.

[2] KidKraft Vintage Kitchen

Vintage Kitchen
Dimensions: 33 x 11.7 x 35.7 inches 

The first time I came across this kitchen was when Mrs Bee mentioned it. Her adorable son has the red version of this kitchen shown below and it was love at first sight for me. It is the cutest thing ever! Most toys and gadgets these days are focused on being as modern as possible, so its nice to see a play set that salutes the past and gives kids an idea of how things looked way back when. I really adore the retro touch of this little vintage kitchen and love the fun colors it comes in.  It is considerably smaller than the Uptown kitchen, but that can be a good thing if you have less space to accommodate it
I love everything about this sweet little kitchen, but I realize it has slightly less features than the Uptown kitchen, such as the utensil hooks, chalk board, dish towel rack and extra counter space. 

I am genuinely torn between these two kitchens but I'm aiming to make a decision before the end of the year, in order to take full advantage of all the sales and discounts out there. Many retailers such as Amazon, Walmart and Costco have promotions and deals on large toys like this for the holiday season so it feels like the perfect time to buy! Wish me luck and I will post about once we buy it and assemble it!