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Monday, February 26, 2007

Thumbs Up to Pampers Customer Service

I've now had two excellent customer service experiences with Pampers. The first occurred a while ago, when their website refused to accept some Gifts to Grow points I entered. I emailed them via their website and received a new code to enter, which gave me more points than I was actually entitled to.

The second experience occurred in the last couple weeks, when I purchased a box containing some defective diapers. I again emailed them via their website, and within a few days received a response apologizing for the defect. A few days after that, I received a coupon for $8 off a package of diapers.

I buy Pampers diapers because they fit my children best, but they've solidified my loyalty with their excellent customer service.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Easy Thousand Island Sandwich Spread

The taste of this spread is a little stronger than the salad dressing, which works well in a sandwich - particularly one with smoked turkey, salami and swiss cheese. You can easily make the spread low-fat by using reduced-fat mayo and nonfat yogurt.

Easy Thousand Island Sandwich Spread

3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
1/2 tablespoon sweet relish

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Graco Quattro vs. Graco Metrolite

I think I've failed to mention here that I regret buying my Graco Quattro stroller, primarily because it's so darn heavy. I can live with its other faults, like the short canopy and even the space it takes up in the trunk, but the weight is what makes me not want to use it. I bought the stroller on an impulse, when Alex had outgrown his infant car seat and the Snap-n-Go, and for some reason I can no longer recall, the Combi Savvy we already had didn't fit the bill. After the first couple times that I used the Quattro, though, I wished that I had properly researched it before going out to buy it.

You'd think that I would have learned from that experience. But no, when I was pregnant with Tyler, I decided without any research that a Graco Metrolite would fit my needs just fine. After all, it would be like having a lighter Quattro. (I didn't consider other stroller brands because I was buying the Graco SafeSeat and wanted to ensure that the infant carseat was compatible with the stroller.) So I didn't realize until the first time we used the Metrolite with Alex that it has a five point harness with an awkward buckle; this isn't an issue at the moment because Alex hardly ever rides in the stroller and Tyler is still in his carseat. But when Tyler is older, I'm going to kick myself every time I have to buckle him into the Metrolite. The buckle is my biggest complaint. More minor faults are the lack of a storage compartment (the Quattro has two small ones built into the handle bar), the way the seat back bar can get stuck under the storage basket, and the fact that I have to lock the front wheels before I can fold the stroller. On the plus side, the Metrolite has a longer canopy than the Quattro. Additionally, unlike the Quattro, the basket releases when the seat is in full recline position so I can actually use it even when the carseat is in position.

It's possible that my complaints about the Quattro have been resolved since I bought it a year and a half ago (I have a friend who also hates her Quattro because of its weight, so I know I'm not the only one). It's also possible that after researching all of my options, I would have settled on the Metrolite anyway. But I'll never know!

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Zen Shorts by Jon Muth

The importance of reading to your children is well-documented, so I'm thrilled that we have a new ritual after dinner now: Marc sits with Alex at the dining table and reads him stories. Alex continues to love John, Paul, George & Ben, but a new favorite is Zen Shorts by Jon Muth, which I adore. It is a Caldecott Honor Book and features some fabulous art that brings to life a gentle giant panda named Stillwater who gently shares his wisdom with three neighboring children.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

How You Praise Your Kids Matters

I just read a great article about the difference between telling kids they succeeded because they're smart and telling them they succeeded because they worked hard. The research concludes that the latter yields better results, i.e., that kids told their success was a product of hard work were more likely to embrace new challenges and succeed when the going got tough. I was shocked at the part of the article that discussed parents doubting the research because I could completely relate to the first kid discussed, who was extremely smart but therefore afraid to fail. Having been labeled a "smart kid" in fourth grade (when I dominated the class spelling bee - as if spelling is indicative of intelligence), a fear of failure has been ever-present in my life and has kept me from doing or at least trying countless things. As a parent, one of the things I want to do most is save my children from the problems that have plagued me (I realize they'll just end up with a whole different set of issues but I don't see any way of preventing that). Now I have one more tool to help me.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Recipe Reviews

I've tried quite a few new recipes recently, mostly from Cooking Light. They weren't keepers but made for nice variety in my regular rotation of meals.
  • Key Lime Cheesecake - I didn't think the crust was very good, and the cheesecake itself was a little bland, maybe because of the tofu.
  • Bow Tie Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper and Cream Sauce - I liked this enough to eat the leftovers (with extra cheese), but not enough to make again. I'm only lukewarm when it comes to bell peppers, though, so if you like red peppers, you might love this dish.
  • Beef Carnitas - This recipe came out mostly tasteless, but that was probably because of my modifications rather than the recipe's fault. I left out the onions, because Marc hates them and I'm not that fond of them either, and I used chicken broth instead of beef broth because that's what I had. I also made the recipe in the slow cooker instead of on the stove. The meat did come out tender and was acceptable in tacos with all the fixings.
  • Gnocchi Gratin - This was good, but a little too creamy for my taste, even with the addition of a pound of ground beef. It also needed a little more salt. I used whole wheat gnocchi from Trader Joe's and give that a thumbs up.
  • Swiss Enchiladas - This was okay, I just wasn't crazy about the taste of the swiss cheese and white sauce. Be sure to really evaporate the liquid from the skillet before making the enchiladas.
  • Molten Chocolate Cakes - These just didn't bake enough in the time given so what I got was a nice crusty muffin top and lots of goo underneath. I didn't keep the recipe to try again because it was just a good-tasting cake, not to-die-for.

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