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Milk and Cookies

with Kristen

I'm a mother of five, a bargain hunter, a recreational comparison shopper, and always trying to make more time - for me and for you, too. On this blog I'm sharing my favorite tools and finds to help make your work-life juggle a bit easier.

You can find my personal blog at

Life-improving products, part 4

Categories: Beauty, Health and Safety, House & Home, Kitchen, Managing stress, Office

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(Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.)

Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water other than a swimming pool, because I couldn’t imagine keeping track of them all at once in water that didn’t have walls and lifeguards. I’d be okay with the older two swimming around, but not the younger three: they still sometimes sink and thrash during their swimming lessons. Near the end of last summer I bought a life jacket to see if it would help the situation (I didn’t want to buy three and find out they weren’t any good), and it was one of the best purchases of my entire life. This summer I bought two more. We went to the lake, and the three little kids swam around to their hearts’ content, and I barely freaked out at all.

The sizing on this says 50-90 pounds, but notice that many of the reviewers strenuously object to that. The three little kids at my house are 6-8 years old and weigh in the 45-55 range, and these vests fit them just right with some room to grow (and fit Henry well last summer when he was 5)—but it’s hard to imagine the vests still fitting at 90 pounds.

Spinbrush Electric Toothbrushes (photo from These are inexpensive enough (about $7 on sale at Target) that I have one for each of the kids. A 2-pack of replacement heads goes on sale for about the same price as the toothbrush. There are several different types of these; I try to get ProClean rather than ProWhitening, but I think we’ve had some of each without me noticing a difference.

Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm (photo from Burt’s Bees stuff appeals to me tremendously, but I once got a sampler pack of various things (lip balm, lotion, body wash) and disliked the strong/sharp scent of almost everything. These tinted lip balms are unscented (or nearly: I think there might be a tiny fruity tint to some of the colors, but my mom doesn’t taste anything), and I love them. I keep one in my pocket and use it like regular plain lip balm: the tint is enough to make a noticeable difference, but not enough that I need a mirror to make sure I stay in the lip lines. My three favorite shades for my coloring (light brown hair, fair-to-blushy-pink skin, hazel eyes) are Red Dahlia, Rose, and Sweet Violet. (Sweet Violet sounds like it would be purple, but it’s more of a pink.)

Squish Collapsible Colander (photo from My old colander was the metal mesh kind, and the children kept crushing it. Finally a child used it to sift some broken glass, so I needed a replacement. I was surprised at how expensive they were, and chose this one at least in part because of a resentful feeling that if I was going to spend that much money, there should be SOMETHING fun about it. I liked the colors a lot, but wasn’t sure if I’d like the squish-it-flat aspect. I do like it, as it turns out. I’m considering buying the next size up as well. (This green one is just right for a pound of pasta; the next size up is twice as big.)

Handheld Postal Scale (photo from Paul bought this for me as an impulsive little present, and now I keep it in a special box high up so it can NEVER GET LOST. It’s not that I can say I use it constantly, because how often do I need to see if an envelope needs one stamp or two stamps or three? But every time I do need it, I say to Paul, “I love my little letter scale”—because I DO. It would make a nice stocking stuffer.

Can Colander (photo from I bought this to squeeze-drain tuna, once they started making tuna lids too thin to do the job. But it can also be used to drain cans of fruit or vegetables. This is another good stocking stuffer.


Thank you for a happy five years here at Milk and Cookies. It’s been fun writing these shopping posts; I’ll still do them now and then at my regular Swistle blog.

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