Monday, September 14, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Breadman TR520 Programmable Bread Maker

Has anyone ever taken a look at the ingredients in a typical bag of bread sold in your local supermarket? Yikes! We shudder just thinking about all of the emulsifiers and preservatives on the nutrition label. Granted, it keeps the price down to a reasonable level and allows us to keep our store-bought bread in the fridge for a lengthy stay without getting moldy. But when it comes down to it, The Daily Kool is a big believer of feeding our family foods with simple ingredients that aren't a struggle to read. Unfortunately, buying healthy (yet expensive) artisan-type bread at the bakery every day is a pipe dream for most of us, especially in today's economy. What's a parent to do?

There is nothing (and we mean nothing) as amazing as the smell of home-baked bread in the morning...and afternoon...and evening. Who are we kidding? We love homemade bread, regardless of when it's made. Okay, so our obsession will clearly never place us on the cover of one of those low-carb diet books. But, we like to think that we get enough fresh fruits and vegetables in our diet to indulge in what we believe to be one of life's most delectable culinary pleasures. We have to admit though, that as adventurous as we are in the kitchen, homemade bread has always been an intimidating process for us. It can take a long time to create a perfect loaf of bread, between mixing the ingredients, kneading the dough, letting it rise (once or twice), punching and kneading again (and again), then finally putting it in the oven to bake. Whew...we could probably use a bread maker.

We have always heard great things about bread makers, but have always resisted the impulse to purchase one for ourselves. We're not quite sure why...well, maybe we do. Have you ever considered what a stress reliever punching and kneading dough is? Think about it. Let's face it though, either our schedules are fuller or we're just getting lazier with age, but we just don't have the time anymore. A bread machine would definitely simplify our lives, especially one that is as reasonably priced as the Breadman TR520 programmable bread maker.

We saw a demo for the Breadman TR520
programmable bread maker on QVC yesterday and were really impressed with how easy it seems. They made a big deal about the cost, but with shipping, it winds up only being a couple of dollars less expensive than the one featured on Amazon. Regardless, for the typical family, this an absolute bargain at under $60, especially compared with others on the market. If eight functions with 39 programmable options weren't enough, the Breadman TR520 has a host of other features that we love. The digital display with viewing window also includes a crust color control, one-hour warm cycle and (our favorite) a 13-hour delay timer. Imagine putting the ingredients in your bread machine before you go to sleep and waking up to a luscious aroma in the morning...not that we are ever able to get 13 hours of sleep in one night (don't we wish), but that's just us being fickle about it. Add a fruit and nut add-in beep, a recipe booklet and a viewing window to keep tabs on our creations (yes, we're anal), and we've got everything we need to bake a perfect loaf of homemade bread.

The biggest complaint that we have come across with the
Breadman TR520 is that the digital display is kind of hard to read. What the company's executives were thinking when they put white lettering on a yellowish beige panel is anyone's guess. Maybe there was something in the yeast that day, but it was really a pretty dopey move on their part. Also, watch out for the kneading is likely to come out of the machine with your bread. Oh, and make sure to put your Breadman TR520 far enough back on the counter so it doesn't "walk" off and smash itself to bits. Overall, the issues seem pretty minor for what you're getting with this great machine. The Breadman TR520 programmable bread maker is clearly a convenient and practical way to create yummy loaves that are affordable and healthy for the entire family. How "kool" is that?

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Utensil Pot Clip by Trudeau

Cooking is a very popular but messy affair in The Daily Kool household. We tend to favor many one-pot wonders for our meals, like soups (especially from our Daily Soup Cookbook) and stews. Most of our dishes require lots of loving attention, and yes, plenty of stirring. There's only one problem. For some strange reason, we have always had an aversion to using a spoon rest. We hate the thing...who knows why. Just chalk it up to one of many, many little quirks that our psychologist would have a field day with...yep, we've definitely been avoiding him these days. Anyway, we usually just settle for setting our stirring utensils right there on the stovetop, cringing at the mess, but resigning ourselves to just dealing with it later. Okay, so we're a little strange.

Did you ever get one of those goofy little kitchen gadgets that you suspected doubted would ever rise above the bottomless pit of your junk drawer? We admit it, we were convinced the utensil pot clip by Trudeau completely fell into that category...until we used it for the first time, that is. It's colorful, it's cute and it's one of the "koolest" kitchen gizmos we've come across since um, the widget or something. Who knew this little guy could become so indispensable? Designed to clamp securely to the side of most saucepans and stockpots, the
utensil pot clip features an arced slot to hold the handle of a spoon, turner or ladle. It is heat-resistant up to 600 degrees and prevents drips on the stovetop, keeps utensils handy and eliminates the need for that darn spoon rest.

utensil pot clip is such a simple, yet innovative solution to a common problem...we're just steamed that we didn't think of it first! We have a couple and we really use them all the time, especially when we've got a crowd coming for a big meal. Keep in mind that unless you find them at your local Bed Bath & Beyond or other kitchen store, the company selects the colors at random so you won't likely get your preference. Our pots are black, so it didn't make a difference to us. Also, though we've never, ever had this problem, we did come across one person who complained that the silicone bumpers kept coming off in the pot. Nouvelle cuisine, perhaps? Anyway, there's a whopping five-year warranty on this $7 item, so if you ever have a problem, Trudeau will take care of it.

utensil pot clip by Trudeau is an absolute must-have for anyone who likes to cook, but dreads the traditional spoon rest. Okay, so it's great regardless of whether or not you have the same wacky pet peeves that we do here at The Daily Kool. It has truly become one of those practical, space-saving kitchen gadgets that we now wonder how we ever got along without. Easy to use, easy to clean and oh so convenient, the utensil pot clip has permanently found it's place of honor far, far away from our infamous junk drawer. Man, we really have to clean that thing out one of these days.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Nickelodeon Family Suites, a.k.a. Nick Hotel

The Daily Kool family has just returned from our little Labor Day getaway in Orlando, Florida. Our son really really wanted to go in lieu of his eighth birthday party, but we always have trouble justifying a trip out there this time of year. As much as we love Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, it is much too hot to walk around the amusement parks. Yeah yeah...Mickey's okay too, but even the lure of Disney World is not enough to spend our mornings passing out from the stifling heat and the afternoons drowning in Florida's typical afternoon storms. We've even tried heading for Orlando just for the water park adventures...Wet & Wild might be the best one out there, but boy is does the ground burn our poor feet...we need a vat of ointment just for the blisters!

A friend of ours had recently enjoyed a week-long stay at the Nickelodeon Family Suites, otherwise known as the Nick Hotel in Orlando. After hearing her enthusiastic reviews and high recommendations, we just had to check it out for our son's family birthday celebration weekend. Seriously, folks...the
Nick Hotel has to be one of the most amazing places you can take your kids. We were lucky enough to get a very reasonable rate, and once we saw how much there was to do, our vacation was set. Who needs those pesky theme parks, anyway? We were gonna get slimed!

Imagine our kids' faces when we drove up to the massive
Nick Hotel, complete with their favorite Nickelodeon characters pictured right on the outer walls. There's Dora & Boots, Diego, the Wonder Pets, Backyardigans and the Rugrats...just to name a few. Oh, and let's not forget the quirky and colorful SpongeBob SquarePants...he's all over this place. That's okay, we're big fans...though some of us admittedly root for Plankton. We were given a room in the Jimmy Neutron building after refusing to cave in on the $25 per day up-charge for a Dora or SpongeBob themed room. The kids got over it quickly though, when they checked out the bunk beds in their own room...we appreciated the king-sized bed in ours. They were kinda bummed that the PlayStation wasn't hooked up (apparently the hotel is phasing them out), but once we told them about the two full-sized pools equipped with water slides, they were eager to head right outside.

The rest of our weekend was spent enjoying the included amenities, like the Nick Live shows at night and at the pool, the daily mass slimings and character meetings. Unfortunately, Ming Ming (from the Wonder Pets) got her schedule mixed up with Aang the Avatar, but other than that slight disappointment for our youngest son, our stay at the Nick Hotel went without a hitch. We even splurged on many of the extras...the kids tie-dyed their own Nickelodeon shirts by the pool, partied with Dora, Diego and Boots, did the limbo with SpongeBob and Patrick, and even had a 4-D movie marathon with all eight showings. Our days were so full, we never had to leave the, there were plenty of activities we didn't participate in!

Nick Hotel gave us a perfect family vacation, and one we hope to repeat sometime in the near future. What an amazing place to take the kids! When it was sunny and warm, we stayed "kool" by the pool (sorry, couldn't resist the rhyme), and when it rained, we still had plenty to do indoors. We did venture out one night to go NBA City at Universal's City Walk for dinner as a special birthday treat for our son...but that's a kool idea for another post. In the meantime, if you're ready for a break from the traditional Orlando vacation, just shout, "Aye aye, Captain" and head out to see SpongBob at the Nick Hotel. It's definitely worth the trip.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Toy Box Storage Benches

Our kids have way too many toys. Seriously, our house is literally overflowing with games, stuffed animals, action figures, legos...well, you get the idea. We don't know quite how it happened...well, that's not entirely true. Think about it. We have two boys who are three years apart, creating two separate groups of age-appropriate toys. Add a couple of doting grandparents, uncles and aunts, and suddenly our quaint little home has become its own virtual Toys R Us. Sheesh...imagine if we added a little girl to the mix!

We are forever in search of multi-purpose solutions to store things in a way that maximizes the limited space in our home. Take a look at some of these adorable toy box storage benches from a wonderful company called Levels of Discovery. Hand painted, heirloom quality and so unique, these toy boxes are truly special. This musical version is our personal favorite. It has an entertaining backrest that combines an eight-note xylophone with two wooden mallets and two spinning bell drums for hours of entertainment for your little one. The slow-closing metal safety hinge prevents little fingers from being crushed, while the bench holds up to 100lbs and provides a perfect spot for some quiet time...yeah, our kids don't know what "quiet time" is, either. Add plenty of storage space for musical instruments, stuffed animals or other toys, and suddenly you can see the floor of your kids' room again!

Of course, there are several other toy box storage bench themes besides the musical one. Whether your theme is firefighters, princesses or even alphabet soup, Levels of Discovery is sure to have a creation to match your child's decor. We won't mislead you...these whimsical toy box storage benches are quite pricey. But, it's "kool" to know that in this case, you are really are getting what you pay for.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: EZ Steam Grill Universal Steaming Insert

The Daily Kool has fallen in love again...with hot dogs! Hot dogs, you ask? We recently took a trip back to New York City and relived a tradition from our younger professional days. You guessed it. The "dirty" dog. You know what we're talking about. Those amazing hot dogs you get on the street corner for a couple of dollars...piping hot dog, freshly steamed buns and all the luscious toppings you can get on top. Getting hungry yet? There's just something about the "dirty" New York City water that makes those hot dogs taste absolutely amazing. We can't figure out what it is, but a "dirty" dog is an experience that everyone who visits the city should have. Your life will never be the same. We just wish we could recreate this hot dog nirvana at home.

Thanks to a local Atlanta inventor, now we can get pretty close. We came across
Chris Schutte on QVC last week, demonstrating his innovation, the EZ Steam Grill universal steaming insert. We were intrigued enough to go out and do a little more research. Frankly, the man himself is as inspiring as his invention. It seems that after becoming a victim of today's struggling economy in 2008, the suddenly unemployed father of two was able to turn adversity into profit with a dream fifteen years in the making. And it all started with a typical man's love for the stadium hot dog.

This two-piece combination set comes with two universal steaming inserts (6.5" and 8.75") that are adjustable to fit any medium to large pot to make a perfect hot dog in less than five minutes. Simply place the insert in the pot and boil some water. The "grill" rack design allows you to slip a couple of hot dogs into the water through the cross-shaped center opening to boil, place the buns on top of the EZ Steam Grill, cover and cook for a few minutes. That's all there is to it, folks.

Not ones to be impressed with a one dish wonder (no matter how addicting), it's nice to know that we can use the
EZ Steam Grill universal steaming insert to prepare a host of delicious meals besides the hot dog. Imagine the ease of preparing a yummy dish of steamed salmon, tender-crisp broccoli and fettuccine alfredo in a single pot. Or spice up some chicken and asparagus to steam and plate with already prepared brown rice. Love steamed lobster tails with melted butter? A little creativity is all it takes to get a beautiful and healthy meal with the EZ Steam Grill. We love how much versatility this product adds to our existing pots. Keep in mind though, this product does not seem to be designed to feed a larger family at once. Plan on cooking for about 2-3 people for the more complex meals, unless of course you use two pots and both inserts. Hot dogs only take a few minutes, so you could probably do a quick batch for a larger crowd, doing two or three at a time (per insert).

EZ Steam Grill universal steaming insert guarantees a perfect hot dog every time. Easy to use, reasonably priced (around $15 for the set of two) and oh, so convenient, this "kool" idea is the next best thing to having your very own New York or stadium hot dog vendor. Now, if we could only arrange to have the city's "dirty" water shipped to us regularly, our lives would be perfect...well, almost.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Personalized Hometown Map Jigsaw Puzzle

The Daily Kool family is going through a puzzle phase, thanks to our children. If you have been reading our blog, you probably already know about our obsession with technology-free family time. Puzzles are not only a great excuse to bond with your kids, but it also is a great way to encourage concentration, increase problem-solving skills and demonstrate the reward of project completion. We haven't seen our kitchen table cleaned in about a's always covered with a puzzle we're working on together. So, when our son mentioned that he wanted us to find an unusual puzzle for his birthday (that and a new bicycle), we set out to find one that he would really enjoy doing.

Our older son has always been fascinated with geography, particularly maps...he just loves reading them. When he first showed an interest, we purchased a local area map to keep in the car so he could follow our path to wherever we were going. What an inspired idea, if we do say so ourselves! Finally, we have someone in the family with a good sense of direction. So, when we came across this personalized hometown map jigsaw puzzle, we knew he would be thrilled.

The personalized hometown map jigsaw puzzle features your own home as the centerpiece. Made from a United States geological survey map, this 400-piece puzzle shows named main roads, contour lines, transport infrastructure, water features, vegetation and notable buildings and structures...all centered around your address! Seriously, how "kool" is that? The personalized hometown map jigsaw puzzle covers six miles East-to-West and four miles North-to-South, with a house-shaped piece (yours) right in the middle. When completed, it measures 18 1/4" x 12 1/4". We really love the beautiful presentation box that comes with this amazing puzzle. There's even a space on the box lid to write a special message.

A personalized hometown map jigsaw puzzle is a truly exciting and unique gift idea for any puzzle aficionado. What a fun way to teach kids more about their neighborhood. Once finished, we're going to frame this one with the others and add it to our wall of puzzle fame. It will be interesting to compare it to a local map of the area 20-30 years down the road. If giving as a gift, just be very careful to get the address exactly right, including the zip code. Someone in our household keeps forgetting that we live on ## Place and not ## Street (for the past eight years)...we won't mention names, but it caused quite a stir with the Fedex guys last week when they delivered our parents' anniversary present to the wrong house. Nope, we're never letting him live that one down! The personalized hometown map puzzle, though a bit pricey at around $40, will certainly make our son's birthday one to remember for years to come..especially when we spend time as a family putting it together. Now that is the very best gift we could ever give him.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: TykeLight Portable GloMate by Mobi

When our youngest son turned three, he suddenly developed a huge fear of the dark. And we mean huge! He was nervous driving in a dark car at night, insisted on being carried at night (the moon was scary, also), and refused to go into any room that didn't already have a light on. He has always shared a room with his big brother...this helped him feel a bit more secure at bedtime, at least. Unfortunately, if he had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, he would become hysterical crying when big brother refused to wake up to take him (our oldest is a very sound sleeper). Our poor son was having a very difficult time maintaining his typical independence and we had to find some way to help him.

Much of our son's fear of the dark (yes, he still has it) is a result of his overactive imagination. We didn't have this challenge with the first child..he's very "black and white" by nature. But our youngest one has always been more creative, telling us fanciful stories of magical creatures and faraway places almost from the time he started speaking. He sees unicorns and dragons in the shapes of the clouds...our oldest tends to envision the state of Missouri (go figure). So, it's not hard to understand that our little boy sees all sorts of scary stuff lurking in the shadows of the dark.

The TykeLight Portable GloMate from Mobi has become a lifesaver for us and our now four year old son. They don't come much cuter than this little guy! This portable nightlight is a cuddly plaything with a friendly, silky feel that he can snuggle up with on a dark night. Mobi has really done a great job with this one...our son hardly ever puts it down, even during the day. The kid-friendly, grab-'n-go design make it really easy. The different color options have actually made our
TykeLight Portable GloMate a four-in-one toy for our son. "Greenie" checks hallways and dark rooms to make sure they're safe to enter. "Tiki" (she's a girl, and the solid red mode) loves to play with stuffed animals, often disciplining them when they deserve a time out. "Bud" (blue mode) likes to hang out and watch TV, while "Mobi" stays on the nightstand to cycle through the rainbow of colors to help him fall asleep at night. Seriously, folks...we have to be the only family that has a GloMate with a split personality!

Future psychological bills aside, the
TykeLight Portable GloMate nightlight has really helped our son overcome his fears. It stays on the charger base, where he can take it off whenever he wants to play with it. We love that it doesn't need batteries or power, the safe and efficient LED's keep it completely cool to the touch. It gives off just enough light to keep the monsters away, but not so much that keeps him awake at bedtime. Our only complaint is that the 15 minute timer only works with the solid blue mode...we would have liked that options with all of the colors (particularly the rainbow one). Regardless, the adorable TykeLight Portable GloMate is kid-tough, works great and is perfectly safe for even young ones. What a great gift idea for a baby shower or anyone with smaller children. Ours is definitely a welcome addition to The Daily Kool family.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Method Le Scrub Soft Abrasive Cleaner

Today is the day for cleaning the bathrooms in The Daily Kool household. The master bath is usually not a big deal, but the kids' bathroom? Oh, my goodness gracious! After only one week, the fumes are enough to make us gag, our eyes water and, quite frankly, almost knock us over in a dead faint. But then again, we have boys...and they stand up when using the toilet...and they love to play with their favorite appendage...enough said? All the air fresheners in the world can't compete with that stench. What's a parent to do?

Go in with a mask and gloves, and hope for the best, that's what. Well, being armed with an amazing cleanser certainly doesn't hurt, either. Method Le Scrub soft abrasive cleanser really does the trick. Ever since one of our beloved followers suggested we try out the fabulous Method Best in Glass cleaner (see previous post), we have become huge fans of this fabulous company...and our windows have never been cleaner! One by one, we have gone away from the traditional cleansers that we grew up with, and have been replacing them with Method's non-toxic, vegan and environmentally friendly home cleaning solutions.
Method Le Scrub is no exception.

Method Le Scrub is a eucalyptus mint scented, mildly abrasive cleanser for deep cleaning the bathroom...deep cleaning is definitely the way to go in our home! It uses finely milled marble with naturally-derived, biodegradable ingredients to remove tough stains. Grime, soap scum, hard water deposits and mildew are no match for this gentle, yet powerful cleanser. Seriously folks, this works just as well as (if not better than) the stuff Mom used. And, ahhhhh....the smell is just plain wonderful! Method Le Scrub makes even our kids' bathroom smell like a spa!

Sure, you can always make your own at-home natural soft scrub cleaner (we've put the recipe below), but when you have a cruelty-free company that does it so well for you, why bother? Method Le Scrub soft abrasive cleanser is pretty cost-effective (a little goes a long way) has amazingly "kool" packaging (check out the sponge holder at the top!) and is readily available for purchase at our local Target store. Plus, we feel good about letting our kids help out cleaning with it...for more reasons than one. What more could we ask for? Well , maybe a girl next time!

Homemade Soft Abrasive Cleanser (if you are so inclined)

  • 1 2/3 cups baking soda, sifted
  • 1/2 cup liquid castille soap
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • a couple of drops of tea tree oil, optional (works as a disinfectant)
  • an empty ketchup, or other squeeze-type bottle
  1. Stir liquid soap into sifted baking soda.
  2. Add the water, and stir until smooth.
  3. Add vinegar and stir some more.
  4. Add essential tea tree oil, if using.
  5. Pour into empty bottle.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Snap Capp Reclosable Can Tops

We at The Daily Kool are huge soda drinkers. Oh yeah, we love them all...from Coca Cola to Orange Crush to Canada Dry Ginger Ale, each one of us has our own soft drink obsession. Are we the picture of good, healthy habits, or what? We're actually pretty good about drinking mostly water, especially since we've found Fiji, but sometimes, we just have have a can of soda with a nice meal. There's just something about the fizzy tickling sensation going down the back of the throat, coupled with just the right amount of sweetness...ah, instant satisfaction.

Because everyone has his/her own favorite, we tend to keep a variety of cold soda cans on hand in our fridge for family and company. Why cans, you ask? Yes, 2-liter bottles are much more cost-effective, but cans allow us to cater to everyone's tastes while monitoring intake at the same time...we make it a point to restrict ourselves to one can a day...with the exception of club soda. Cans of club soda (we like La Croix) are great for getting a healthier soda fix on the go.

Like most people, our biggest challenge with cans is keeping the soda from going flat...unless we drink the whole can at once, of course. We have no shame in admitting that we refuse to drink soda that has gone flat...we're kind of snobbish that way. We have tried out so many "fizz keepers" over the years, without much luck. A couple of weeks ago though, we came across these amazing Snap Capp reclosable can tops. Made in the U.S.A. (a big plus with us), plastic
Snap Capps convert an ordinary 12 or 16 oz aluminum beverage can into a portable, recloseable and non-spilling bottle. Okay, we were definitely intrigued enough to try this one out.

We just love it when a product does exactly what it says! We purchased a sleeve of eight
Snap Capps in different colors to test out at home. We chose Orange Crush for the test to make sure we used something that would clearly show up if the product leaked. After opening the can, we simply snapped the cap onto it. It took surprisingly little effort, and the Snap Capp made a clear "pop" when it was on correctly. We then twisted open the top cover, and drank from the soda as if it were a bottle. Wow, it really was a spill-proof seal...kool!

After a couple of sips, we put the can back into the refrigerator to let it sit for a few days. Our soda actually stayed fresh and fizzy for four days, which is about the same amount of time a two liter bottle will keep in our house. After enjoying the rest of our orange soda, we held onto the
Snap Capp, squeezed the middle of the can, and popped it right off. A quick rinse with hot water, and we were ready to use it again.

There are so many things we like about our
Snap Capp recloseable can tops. The assorted colors ensure that each person remembers which is his or her can...a particular advantage at some of our family gatherings. Spillage is much less likely, especially in the car or with the long as the cap is on, of course. Don't get us wrong. We didn't exactly shake the can vigorously for several minutes after putting on the Snap Capp...we're not sure we're all that interested in testing it that extensively, anyway. But, with normal use, we found the seal perfectly tight. Plus it makes drinking from a can safer; we don't have to worry about cutting ourselves on any sharp, metal parts. The best part is how much less soda waste we have...we no longer feel the need to polish off a whole can in one sitting. We just put the leftovers back in the fridge until later, without worrying about it going flat.

Snap Capp reclosable can tops are great for picnics, parties, in the car and even at the office. We even brought a couple to the zoo last week for when we treated ourselves to a couple of cans from the machine. The Snap Capp gave us the flexibility to walk around, without being encumbered with open beverage cans. We're definitely giving a couple of these to our fellow soda, energy drink and yes, even beer lovers!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Magic School Bus Television Series

We were talking on the phone with our brother yesterday, when we somehow got on the topic of this year's Halloween costume ideas for the kids. Last we heard, our oldest son wanted a black Spiderman costume (easy), while our youngest chose to be Boots, the monkey from Dora (not quite as easy). Anyway, as we were having our conversation, our 8 year old suddenly said from the background that he now wanted to be Arnold from the Magic School Bus television show. We were shocked to find out that our brother, the brilliant pediatrician, had never even heard of this Scholastic series. How embarrassing for him, we teased in our typical smug sibling fashion. Then, much to our brother's glee, our four year old insisted that he now wanted to be Phoebe, the redheaded girl...yeah, like we'll ever hear the end of that one from big brother. Darn it...we hate it when he gets the upper hand!

Magic School Bus television series features the antics of Ms. Frizzle (voiced by Lily Tomlin) and her class of eight children who have a unique way of learning about the world around them. The Frizz's ever-changing wardrobe hints at each clever episode's scientific concept to be explored, just before the class is whisked away on an exciting field trip aboard their magical school bus. Each adventure takes them literally behind the scenes, sometimes by shrinking them to the size of blood cells, other times turning them into bats (or salmon, or butterflies).

Magic School Bus clearly demonstrates the creators' brilliant imagination and passion for science. We absolutely love the concept of this Discovery Kids series. There is so much color and activity packed into each episode that it may seem a bit frantic at times, but it keeps our kids mesmerized all the same. Plus, the theme index on the Scholastic website makes it easy to find shows that relate specifically to what our children are currently learning in school. Excellent!

It's easy to understand the popularity of the
Magic School Bus television series with children, parents and educators alike (though, perhaps not pediatricians). It's humorous, suspenseful, educational and just downright fun...our kids are both completely addicted to it. We love how it encourages kids to "take chances, make mistakes and get messy." Plus, they don't even realize how much they are actually learning. There are so few television shows for kids that hit the mark like this one does. Field trip, everyone!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Done Right Multiple Cook Time Kitchen Timer

Fall is a busy time for The Daily Kool family. This is the time of year that we celebrate the season with large dinner parties. Oh, and we invite everyone! Ah, is definitely the catalyst that brings us all together. Always has been. It's nothing for us to expect 30-40 guests in our admittedly small home for an elaborate dinner. Over the past ten years of our marriage (yikes!), our household has truly become the destination for meals galore. We only have one one brings food. Bottles of wine? Sure. Soda? Absolutely. The food though, is our domain, and we always look forward to testing out new and exciting dishes on our more than willing company. Have we mentioned how much we love to cook?

We live for the moment when our guests marvel at the sheer genius of our culinary skills...not that it happens often. Okay, we admit it...we always mess a couple of things up with every dinner. We have so many dishes in various stages of preparation, cooking and plating, at least a few of them always fall through the cracks. Over-boiled soup, scorched veggies, mushy risotto and dry (we sometimes forget to baste) turkey are just a few examples of the disasters we've encountered over the years. It's not easy staying on top of everything all at once.

Thank goodness for our cousin. Last time she came over, she gave us this absolutely adorable Done Right multiple cook time kitchen timer as a hostess gift. Check it out...there are five (count them) separately functioning timers in one oven-shaped package. Each of the five timers gives off a sound flashes with a light when ready. This little guy is just what we need to stay on track! We love how we can correspond the stove top timers with each of our burners, while the front timer reminds us when to check the oven. We were actually amazed how easy the
Done Right timer was to program, even for us technically inept folks. Just press the 1 or 5 minute increment button until the desired time is reached and press's that simple. Seriously, how great is this little gadget? And, why didn't we think of it first, darn it?

There are a couple of things that we've noticed with our own
Done Right multiple cook time kitchen timer that we wanted to pass along. First off, the alarm itself is fairly low, which is why they've added the flashing light component, we suppose. It would have been nice to have a volume adjustment option. Honestly though, it's not much (if at all) lower than our regular oven timer. Plus, one of us is always in the kitchen, so it's not particularly a problem for us. Also, we always use the company's suggestions for prolonging battery life. When we aren't cooking up a storm, we remove one of the four AA batteries, and usually make sure to stop the flashing light before its one-minute automatic shut off. You can find this kitchen timer at several websites, including Amazon, Target and Walmart. Our research though, shows that QVC seems to currently have the best price at just under $20 (plus shipping)...this the the main link we've provided throughout the post.

We love our
Done Right multiple cook time kitchen timer so much, we leave it out on our stove top, even when we're not using it. Sure, it's a little larger than your standard kitchen timer, but talk about a fabulous conversation piece. What a wonderful novelty gift for anyone who spends oodles of time in the kitchen...particularly those of us who need a little help with the orchestration and execution of our larger dinner parties. Form and function are definitely the right combination with this super "kool" idea. Of course, we've just eliminated our best (and most plausible) excuse for a not-so-perfect meal. Aargh...the pressure!

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: BioBag Dog Waste Bags

Yesterday, we were playing catch with our kids in our development's common grassy area. It was great to have some old-fashioned outside time, though it was admittedly hard to ignore the oppressive heat of the Florida sun. Anyway, here we were, running for a long pass from one of our football stars-to-be, when we suddenly felt the ground get squishy beneath our feet. Holy sh..achem, oh cra...uh...oh, pooh! Literally. You guessed it, our big feet had landed in a pile of doggy doo. Do you have any idea what it's like getting that stuff off the bottom of sneakers with ridges? Ugh...we shudder just thinking about it.

Okay, here's the kicker. While we were away on vacation last week, our home owners association sent a letter to everyone, reminding us of our legal obligation to clean up after our dogs. Apparently, we aren't the only ones scrubbing our shoes these days. While it's admirable that our community is taking a more active role in keeping our grass play-friendly and poop-free, we have a sudden (and unpleasant) vision of our dumpsters filling up with tons of plastic supermarket bags. We are seriously considering giving each of our dog owner neighbors a roll of BioBags.

Made from GMO free certified corn instead of polyethylene,
BioBag dog waste bags are the first biodegradable and compostable "plastic" pooper bags in the world. Think about it...using regular plastic bags to dispose of pet waste prevents natural decomposition. It just doesn't make sense to put 100% biodegradable dog waste into plastic bags that can take over 100 years to decompose. BioBags have given us a practical solution to a common problem. The waste and the bag can be thrown into a backyard compost, where both items can decompose naturally; the waste and bag can be buried, where micro-organisms will quickly eat both; the waste and bag can be set at curbside with other yard waste where communities collect biodegradable waste for composting.

Okay, so maybe we're a little pathetic to be getting so excited about dog waste bags...but we really love our
BioBags, especially now that they come available on a roll. We admit to falling for the "biodegradable" claim on another brand of widely available poop bags, only to find out that they are misleading the public and do not meet every state's standards. We won't mention names, but shame on them! Anyway, we do still have the dispenser from that's super-convenient, and apparently the new BioBags on a roll should fit in it beautifully. Excellent!

It is the responsibility of every dog owner to clean up after your pet. If you are looking for a dog waste bag that completely biodegradable,
BioBags are definitely worth checking out. They even come in two sizes, regular and large. Just remember that they do have a shelf life, as with any biodegradable and compostable bag. The best part, though? They are sturdy enough to handle even tough messes without puncturing in mid-scoop...anyone who has had the pleasure of their fingers breaking through one of those flimsy regular plastic bags can appreciate this statement. Oh boy, could we tell you stories (shuddering again)! Okay, so BioBags aren't free like grocery bags. But they are reasonably priced, especially considering how much better they are for the environment. We at The Daily Kool all agree...BioBags are definitely a "kool" idea!

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Daily Kool on Vacation: "Kool" Idea Review - Sketchers Shape Ups

The Daily Kool is on a family vacation this week. To our most valued readers, we hope you enjoy this week-long review of some of our past posts. We hope you will find these ideas as "kool" as we do!

We have worn our Sketchers Shape Ups fitness shoes this entire week we've been away and love them just as much as when we first purchased them. We have literally walked miles and miles in our Sketchers Shape Ups...boy, are our calves (and backs) thanking us!

Sketchers Shape Ups Fitness Shoes

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Daily Kool on Vacation: Kool Idea Review - Stuff for Pets

The Daily Kool is on a family vacation this week. To our most valued readers, we hope you enjoy this week-long review of some of our past posts. We hope you will find these ideas as "kool" as we do!

Boy, do we love our pets! Check out some of our favorite ideas to help spoil the dog or cat in your life:

"Kool" ideas for pets

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Daily Kool on Vacation: Kool Idea Review - For Baby

The Daily Kool is on a family vacation this week. To our most valued readers, we hope you enjoy this week-long review of some of our past posts. We hope you will find these ideas as "kool" as we do!

We all want what's best for our our case, our friends' babies. If you're looking for some great ideas for baby, check out some of our previous reviews.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Daily Kool on Vacation: Kool Idea Review - Esphera Puzzles

The Daily Kool is on a family vacation this week. To our most valued readers, we hope you enjoy this week-long review of some of our past posts. We hope you will find these ideas as "kool" as we do!

Our very first product review is possibly still our absolute favorite. Esphera puzzles are some of the "koolest" available and a favorite in The Daily Kool family. We have a beautiful collection of them displayed in our home.

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