Blue Sky Paper Products Can Save Your Sanity

I have a long and storied history with lists and calendars.  I suppose it started in elementary school with my love of fresh clean paper and notebooks.  I remember meticulously recording my grades in my notebooks during high school, compiling a neat color coded list by the end of each semester.  In college, Notre Dame supplied us with something called The Daily Shillelagh (pronounced “shill -AY – lee”) which was a calendar and day planner with ads inside.  I used it religiously (pun intended) to plan my schedule.

In my professional years I kicked it up a notch.  I became a devotee of the Franklin Planner System – a gorgeous leather-bound zip-closure binder with color coordinated pages and dated archives so I could keep past years within arm’s reach in my office space.  But then.

The digital age.

Once the Palm Pilot entered my life, nothing was ever the same.  I have flip-flopped between paper and digital planning ever since.  At any given time I am a slave to my Google calendar or a to-do list on Google Docs or a paper date book and a pretty notepad. At present I keep my editorial calendar (I write for several blogs and I manage another) in a Busy Body Book.

When Blue Sky sent me a sample package of their Home Series products (which can be seen at Target), I sighed with pleasure as I opened the box and fondled the smooth, delightful paper.  Because paper is my precious.  The Blue Sky collection promises to organize you, clear your thoughts, and leave you with shiny children and a squeaky clean house.  The designs are  bold and simple, with colors that are pleasing to the eye.

I have been using the Multi-task Mouse Pad, the Grocery Checklist Pad, and the Multi-task Notebook.  All three of these products remind me to write down the ideas that are floating in my head. (The pads have a tendency to roll up at the edges, though, so they might benefit from using heavier paper or employ some kind of elastic tie-down around the corners).

I was also sent a Weekly/Monthly Planner, which I will use once January rolls around.  (I’m a little too attached to the current busy body book.  I can’t switch mid-year!)  It’s so big that it reminds me of a teacher’s planner, and I might as well give in to that notion, because I am signing up to volunteer in my first grader’s class once a week.  Since school has just started I am not yet completely immersed in all things school, but I know it won’t be long.

Blue Sky has a product that I haven’t ever seen before which I know will come in handy once our family’s days get super-hectic, what with a first-grader, a pre-schooler, a busy work-at-home-mom, and a college professor dad all running around trying to get out of the house.  It’s a notepad in the shape of a doorknob hang-tag – with a big hole for the doorknob and the words “DON’T FORGET TO” and a space for notes.  No more sticky notes that will fall off and hit the floor.  Just write “take out the trash” or “bring permission slip to school” in big black marker, hang on the doorknob, and nobody will forget anything again.  (Unless they are a man, which means they will not even see it.)

I was not compensated for this post.  Rather, I was given the products so I could sit at home and pet the smooth, pretty paper.

Natural Vines Passed the Taste Test

I got a couple of bags of Natural Vines brand licorice – one red and one black – to taste and feature on the blog. I accepted the pitch because it is advertised as “all natural” candy, and my kids LOVE candy. I figured if I can get a healthier alternative than all-sugar Gummi Bears, why not try it?

Of course the kids loved the red Natural Vines bits. They are bite-sized and only 17 calories, so I tried them too, and I am impressed by their sweet but not-too-cloying flavor, like I find in Twizzlers. I’ve never been a Twizzler fan, not even after they built replicas of major national landmarks at the BlogHer conference in San Diego this month. I’m talking the Golden Gate Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. Believe it.

So the red version of Natural Vines was a hit. But nobody in my family would even try the black. We actually opened the bag and smelled it, but no go. Sorry, black licorice. You are taste for very specific people, and we are not them, not even with your naturalness and real licorice extract. I got rid of them using Facebook (what else?) to find a local friend who is into that sort of thing and knows me well enough to not be grossed out that we already opened the bag. Her husband ate them. “I’d buy them,” is his review.

Long story short, I don’t mind giving Natural Vines to the children as a reward if it’s not full of high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors. And I’m secretly glad that they share my distate for black licorice.

I did not receive compensation for this post – only the free product that facilitated the taste test.

Protect Your Kooli at the Pool

As a blogger – I’ve been one for almost 7 years – I often get pitches from companies to include products on my site.  I don’t really have a lot of time to do this, especially if I wanted to review every single product that comes my way.  So when the makers of Kooli approached me, I read the pitch with a skeptical eye.

Kooli keeps swimsuits from snagging and buns from burning on hot poolside surfaces and is certain to top this summer’s must-have lists. Kooli has an attached elastic band that makes it easy to roll, secure and put into a beach bag or purse.  It is made of Neoprene (the lightweight, flexible material used to make wetsuits) and features a soft and comfortable nylon fabric surface.  Kooli is washable, waterproof, slip proof, resistant to chlorine, sand and other similar abrasive surfaces.”

My first thought was “how is this better than a towel?”  So I said yeah, bring it on.  They sent me one in the mail and I brought it to the pool that day.  The kids were down with it and thought it was special.  It rolls up and fits easily in the swim bag.  It kept a little bottom cushioned from the hot concrete, and then he went back into the pool.  The end.

Here’s my opinion:  Kooli is great if you have multiple children and you want to keep the towels for what towels are supposed to do – dry you off.  Plus I guess you can buy a different color for each kid.  And I keep saying kid because hell if I’m sitting on the concrete after hanging out in the pool.  I’m almost 40 (hint my birthday is September 30) and these old bones need at least a chair to relax in if not a lounge chair and a cabana boy fanning me and bringing me a cocktail.  If a Kooli could do that I would be all over it.

Also, if Kooli could make my body look like this I would buy all of them: