Baby Flyer Blog’s 2017 Gift Guide

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Is it really that time of year again….really??  Spoiler alert- yes it really is.

The holidays are just about cleared for takeoff, so as we put together our lists, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite things currently, and from the past year.  This time around, we’re combining ideas for any Baby Flyers in your life, both at home and on the go.

If you’re looking for ideas for baby’s first year, or your frequent flyers, check out last year’s gift guides:

2016 Gift Guide For The Baby Flyer

2016 Frequent Flyer Gift Guide

Sites and Services

As well as getting the baby, flyer, or friend in your life ‘things,’ sometimes it’s fun to think out of the box and get them (or yourself) services or memberships that they’ll appreciate.

Expert Flyer

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Expert Flyer is a subscription site that allows you to crack open the airlines’ booking and award systems, and use them to your advantage.  It allows you to find real time flight and seat availability, compare flights and schedules, and make informed choices about your flights.  In addition, it allows you to quickly search many of the world’s major airlines for award and upgrade availability.  You can specify dates, and types of awards.  Also includes a fun feature that sends you automatic alerts when the flight or space you’re searching for becomes available, or when your upgrade clears!  The best feeling is to get a text saying your seat back in coach has just gone vacant….meaning your new one is now up front!

Since it’s a detailed program that uses the airlines’ own codes, some learning is required to get the full benefits of a membership, but it’s time well spent.  We’ll be doing a tutorial series on Cruising Altitude in the new year.

Basic features are available for free, but the real useful tools come with a premium subscription, which is billed annually or monthly.  I don’t book flights without checking with Expert Flyer, and use it almost daily.

CLEAR

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CLEAR lines are popping up in airports around the country, including LAX, SEA, DFW, and many more that we frequent.  This service is a re-vamp of an earlier venture from several years ago.  CLEAR members fill out an application, and then do a quick bio-metric data session (fingerprints and iris scans) at an enrollment center, located at their local airport.  After that you not only are done pulling out your ID to go through TSA, but you will be escorted to the front of either the PreCheck or regular priority line, depending on what’s printed on your ticket, by a friendly CLEAR employee.  This can save LOTS of time and hassle.  We’ve given the program a detailed review HERE on Cruising Altitude.  To get a discount, sign up with a Delta frequent flyer number (make one if you don’t have one, you don’t have to actually be flying Delta), and if you want to add family it’s only $50, and all minors traveling with you are always included free!

For the Baby Flyer on the go:

Kids’ Headphones

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If you’re going to be traveling enough, getting a pair of these can make long haul flights and drives much quieter.  They’re sized for little ears, and decibel-limited, so they stay in the safe range.

Color Wonder Pad and Pens

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This is a great product for keeping little ones occupied without the mess.  The pens only color on the special paper, but the colors are bright and do the trick.

Pura Kiki Kids’ Water Bottle

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Baby Flyer loves this cup.  It comes with both the sippy cup top, and a straw.  She’s never really liked most sippy cups or bottles, so the straw is perfect.  It keeps water cold for a long time, and minimizes spills.  Pro tip- take it on to the plane empty, and fill it from a regular water bottle, or ask the flight attendant to fill it once you’re at cruise.  The spill-proof top seals well enough that the pressurization affects it.

Reusable Snack Bags

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The less plastic in the trash, the better! These bags are simple and useful, and can go in the dishwasher when needed.  Great for travel, or just packing something for lunch.

EZPZ Travel Placemat

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We have both the regular and travel size of this place mat, and it’s a great idea.  It sticks to most table surfaces, and keeps food (as much as possible) where it’s supposed to be.  Easily goes in the dishwasher, or wipes down.  The travel size comes with a carry bag.

Phil & Teds Travel Bed

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We’ve recommended this product as part of other posts before, but in going over the items that we couldn’t travel without, this travel bed comes up every time.  It’s light and easy, and extremely pack-able.  We’ve taken it on quite a few trips, and it’s survived well being checked with our luggage in it’s included carry bag.

Cosco Senecra Car Seat

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Once again, this is an item we’ve mentioned before, but it remains one of our most used favorites.  We’ve even started using it at home when we need to quickly take the baby in the ‘other car’ or in an Uber.  It’s light, installs easily, and meets all safety standards for planes and regular installation.  Plus, it’s extremely reasonable in price, so it makes it affordable to have a dedicated travel car seat.

Baby Flyer’s Other Favorites:

Learning Tower

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This was our answer to the 5pm cranky toddler.  The learning tower lets the little ones get up to counter height to hang out and “help” around the house.  Baby Flyer loves it, and has mastered washing her hands….and making a pretty darn good kale salad.

Native Shoes

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Ready to fly!  Hanging in the Admrial’s Club.

Baby Flyer LOVES shoes, or as she says- ‘Shuuus!!’  She loves hers, ours, everyone’s.  She can walk in heels as well as we can, even if it’s just shuffling around the house.  These shoes, though, really are a favorite.  They’re a good rubber material that is easy on/easy off, but stays secure.  Even better, you can just rinse them off in the sink if they get dirty, and have been holding up well.  She was so tickled with them when we got them, she refused to wear her old shoes anymore, and wore these out of the store even though they were a size too big.

Baby RayBans

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On park patrol….

Okay, yes, we’ll be the first to admit this was a bit of an impulse purchase.  However, these sunglasses are up to the same UV protection as adult sunglasses, which is good to have in LA.  Plus, they’re completely adorable, and Baby Flyer seems to understand.  Even though these are probably on the big side for her now, she’ll grow into them.

From all of us, we wish you a very happy holiday season, and an adventurous new year!

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~CET, CAR, and Baby Flyer

 

Friday Favorites- Part 2

It’s Friiiiiiiday!  Even better, it’s Friday of a long weekend.  Believe it or not, we’re actually keeping it local this weekend, and are really truly looking forward to some downtime at home to get things done, and enjoy our local neighborhood for a change.

So, without further ado, some of our current favorites:

Phil and Ted’s Travel Crib

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This crib we recently discussed in our Europe trip report (so far).  It’s easily one of our favorite buys to make travel with our little one easier.  We can’t overstate how much nicer it is to travel with than a full size pack n’ play, and Baby Flyer seems to sleep as well in it as she ever did the pack n’ play or hotel cribs.  Honestly, some of the only (!!) times she really slept though the night this summer was in this crib.  We woke up one morning on our Europe trip and had to check on her to make sure she was still okay since she hadn’t been up at her usual 3am that night!

It only weighs about 8-9 pounds, and disassembles into a bag you can easily put over your shoulder, or even zip into a car seat bag (along with the car seat).  We hauled it though Europe to three cities, and it was no worse for wear, even being checked through on some of our flights.   Plus, it’s smaller than the alternatives- such as the Baby Bjorn crib, and is priced competitively.

Bambo Nature Diapers 

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Okay, so when we first had Baby Flyer we were entirely sure that when she wasn’t wearing her washable and oh-so-trendy cloth diapers, she’d DEFINITELY be sporting these eco-friendly, bleach free ones.   Spoiler- it didn’t entirely go that way for awhile.  Honestly as brand new parents, some things just seem easier than others, and we’ve been through plenty of Huggies.  For the tiny ones, the Bambo just didn’t seem as snug, and we chickened out.  However, on our recent trip to Copenhagen, we needed to replenish our our supplies and they were one of the only options.  What’s more, everything there was biodegradable, and green approved (the Danes are better people than us, let’s just face it).

As it turned out, they were great!  They lasted a totally respectable amount of time between changes, and fit well.  We had to buy a sizable pack, so we are still using them in our day to day, and yes, we do feel just a little less guilty on trash day.

Ittikid Scandinavian

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Baby Flyer walking the streets of Helsinki in her “Raddish Dress”

Ittikid is a US online retailer of fun Scandinavian designed baby and kid clothes.  Their catalog is full of bright patterns and soft fabrics.  Baby Flyer has several outfits from their collection, and we love how she looks in them!  They’re also pretty unique, and so we get some compliments on her ‘look,’ both at home, and on our travels.

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Her Ittikid ‘house dress,’ leggings from Tea, and Keen baby sandals

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Trying out the local transportation in Copenhagen.  Stylin’ sweatshirt from Ittikid

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Playing in Tallinn, Estonia – Romper from Ittikid

Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee

CARAMEL-copyWe’ve been just a little obsessed with this stuff this summer….maybe.  It’s a great treat when it’s hot out, and comes in a bunch of flavors.  Our current favorite is the caramel.  It’s concentrated, so it lasts awhile and mixes well with milk or water.  We’ve recently been adding a splash of it into regular brewed iced coffee as a treat for a little flavor.

Bonus Favorite, Baby Flyer’s Pick: Douglas Toys ‘Sassy Sak’ Puppy

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This toy is a little silly, but she loves it so, so much.  She’s also currently learning to say dog (pronounced ‘Dogdo’), so that makes it just a bit extra cute.  ‘Dogdo’ has been out on the town lately traveling well in it’s bag, usually along with Baby Flyer’s cell phone (a permanently dead iphone4), and any number of small trinkets.   The perfect accessory for a Baby Flyer on the go….

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Have a great weekend & let us know some of your current favorites!!

~CAR, CET & Baby Flyer

Friday Favorites

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Pack it up!  Time for a weekend ‘up north’!

Happy Friday!  Hope you all are getting ready for a great  weekend! We’re headed to Seattle on Saturday to visit CET’s family. Of course we are looking forward to seeing them, but also some tall trees, ocean views, and hoping to take Baby Flyer to explore the tide pools and sand flats during low tide.

We’re jumping on board the Friday Favorites train this week! Personally, I love to hear about recommendations of products people truly use and enjoy, and places they frequent.  Below you will find a few things we’re loving and as always, we would love to hear what you’re loving below in the comments.

S’well water bottle

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I received this water bottle as a present for my birthday and it is super! I never appreciated having cold water as much as I do now. It really does keep my water cold and is so refreshing after a hot workout. I haven’t tried it with a hot beverage yet, but I’d expect similar results. I have the 17oz bottle, and my only complaint is that sometimes I wish it was bigger. The price is a bit steep for a water bottle, it’s worth it! It’s also something to keep in mind when looking for a present.

Also, the company has excellent customer service. The o-ring on my top fell off earlier this week. I emailed them asking if there was any way I could purchase the lid instead of a whole new top. They responded almost immediately and we exchanged a couple emails and later that same day, a new complimentary o-ring was in the mail. I love to support companies with good customer service.

Water proof outdoor blanket

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We have found this reusable outdoor blanket so handy since having Baby Flyer. It’s easy to clean, water resistant, durable, and easy to fold and put away. We often go to parks and sometimes meet friends at the farmers market and having a dry and clean place to sit is a nice option. I find it to be fairly compact. We are heading to a wading pool this afternoon and I brought it with us. It can comfortably fit a couple adults and kids sitting up. We haven’t used it yet but it comes with a cooler that attaches to the bag when it is folded.

Reusable sandwich bags

bagsWe’ve found these bags to be pretty handy, especially when traveling. We have room for improvement but we try and be conscious of our water and use reusable containers whenever possible. Huge fans of Mason Jars and PYREX in our family. But sometimes I want something less bulky than a container so I’ve been using these bags to carry Baby Flyer’s treats. They come in a 3 pack with three different sizes. On one trip, I push smaller bags of different snacks inside the larger one and it seemed to work well. Her snacks stayed organized and having different snacks to offer kept her entertained.

El Dorado Nature Center

If you are ever in Long Beach, I can’t recommend the El Dorado Nature Center enough! It is such a nice change of pace and environment than the typical landscape we have around here. There is a .25 mile paved trail and 1 and 2 mile dirt loops. The dirt is packed and we have never had a problem pushing our BOB Revolution on it. You walk next to and over streams, through groves of trees and fields. The landscape is constantly changing and I’ve never felt like I was always walking in the sun. There’s plenty of shade throughout the trail. It’s fairly well marked too!

Patagonia Sun Hat

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Just a little throwback – Baby Flyer last summer on the island!

Baby Flyer always has one of these hats! She pretty much constantly wears one when she’s outside in the sun. Right now we have two- I keep one in her stroller and the other in the house/my diaper bag. They have a wide brim so they really do block the sun and shade her face and they are made of UPF fabric. The Velcro closure underneath her chin helps keep it on. They are reversible and dry quickly after getting wet. I really can’t recommend them enough!

Those are ours for this week, what are your current favorites?

Thanks for reading & have a wonderful weekend!

~CAR

One Week of Green Chef

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A week’s worth of dinner, Green Chef style.

We tried Green Chef for the first time a few weeks ago.  I’ve heard about various online meal services but this was the first time trying one.  My sister and brother in law, recent empty-nesters, have been using this service all fall and rave about it.  They love the quality of the food and feel like they are eating in a restaurant multiple nights a week.  I will say it makes meal planning a breeze.

We were flying back from Chicago late in the day on Monday and I wasn’t sure if I was going to have time to go to the grocery store during the week so I thought that it would be a perfect time to try it.  Live and learn, but I didn’t know the delivery days for our area and that you needed to order at least a week ahead, so when I placed my order on Wednesday, the earliest I could get it was Thursday of the following week.

The Basics:

Green Chef is certified organic by CCOF and provides fresh and sustainably sourced food.  The food has no synthetic pesticides, genetically modified organisms, artificial ingredients, and growth hormones or antibiotics.  There’s no commitment and you can skip a delivery at any point.  The food is sent in insulated, refrigerated boxes.

They have two person and family-style meal plans and you can choose a menu that fits your diet including omnivore, carnivore, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, and paleo options.  What’s great is that you can further refine omnivore after placing your order to select which meats you want.  I’m a pescatarian and do not like most shellfish, so I only selected fish for the meat for our order.

The selection of meals for each week are posted the week before.  It gives you an idea of what could be sent but since there are more options than the three, you don’t know which specific dishes you’ll get.  You can’t individually select which meals you want.

The three meals we received were (photographs courtesy of Green Chef)-

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Chinese BBQ Salmon with black rice, bok choy, bell pepper, and carrots.

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Cauliflower Mac & Cheese with kale, breadcrumbs, and sun-dried tomato tapenade.

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Picadillo-Stuffed Peppers with cotija and rice, olives, capers, beans, and almonds.

What You Get:

One box with all the ingredients for the three meals, minus some basic items like olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Everything else that you need is included.  The packaging is biodegradable, and the ice packs are reusable.  Everything stayed very cold and I wasn’t worried that anything had spoiled.

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The recipe card tells you the ingredients, items you’ll need from your own kitchen, a description of the dish, nutritional information, length of time for cooking, and how to make the meal.

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Each recipe has a color and the ingredients have a sticker that corresponds to the recipe color.  This was really helpful and kept everything organized.

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Experience:

The recipes take anywhere from 30-40 minutes to make.  I found some of the dishes took longer than the recipe states and used some new to me multi-step cooking methods so I had to reference the instructions multiple times while cooking.  CET loved the two-part method for cooking the salmon.  First, I fried it on the stove top skin side up then I flipped it over, topped it with some sauce, and put it in the oven to finish cooking.  The recipes seemed to call for more olive oil than I typically cook with so I used less when I could.

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The servings were very generous!  Each recipe says it serves two, but we never finished it all in one night.  We typically had enough left over for at least one lunch the following day.  For instance, this serving was about a quarter of what we made.

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It’s fun being surprised by what you’re sent.  It got us out of our cooking rut and encouraged us to try new dishes that I probably wouldn’t have selected otherwise.  For instance, CET doesn’t like peppers so I tend to stay away from stuffed pepper recipes.  In this case, I’m glad I didn’t because it was one of my favorite dishes they sent.  The rice and filling was plenty as a standalone meal and the roasted pepper was really just an addition.  CET enjoyed it as well and Baby Flyer liked the rice and loved the green olives.

Tips I Learned Along the Way:

  • At least in our area, they only deliver on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Check to see if you are on the same delivery schedule.
  • You need to place your order a week before the day you want your meal delivered. Likewise, when you want to cancel it, they need a week’s notice.
  • You can easily select your own dietary preferences by signing up for the omnivore plan and opting-out of the meat options you don’t want. To do this, you log intoGreenChef.com, go to your Account Info (https://greenchef.com/#/my-account/account-info) and click “Edit” next to “My Plan”.
  • If you want to select which meat you want, choose omnivore and after you have completed your order you have the chance to refine your selection further.  I knew this was an option but it took me a while to figure out how to do it.  I thought I needed to do it before placing my order.
  • To cancel your order for an extended period of time, you can do it by logging into your account then clicking this link- https://greenchef.com/#/cancel before the weekly cutoff time (7 days prior to your delivery at noon EST). You can reactivate your account anytime by logging into your account and selecting the reactivation button.

Overall, we really enjoyed our experience and were impressed with the quality of the food.  The produce was fresh, directions clear, and dishes tasty.  To us, it seemed like a treat.  We probably won’t be doing it weekly but think it would be fun to do once a month, or a perfect idea for after a trip when you’re still settling back in.  Or, perhaps, for those post-holiday burn out weeks when coming up with a meal plan is just about the last thing you want to be doing.

If you want to try Green Chef for yourself, you can get 4 free meals by using BabyFlyerBlog’s link.  Let us know in the comments if you’ve tried this, or other meal services.  We’d love to hear your experience!

~CAR