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My new favorite lunch food.

My new favorite lunch food.

Ahhh, Friday. It’s a chance to reflect on the week — what’s made me happy, mostly, since I’m definitely trying to be more positive. Plenty of good stuff this week. All of it either completely free to everyone or purchased by me with my money. (My disclosure that I have not accepted any freebies or discounts for anything I’ll discuss below. Don’t know what I am talking about? Read dotCult’s excellent primer on the topic.) And now on to the fun…

  • Kick Ass Apple Jelly. As a child, I was an extremely picky eater. My mom was limited as to what she could give me for lunch. One favorite: Peanut butter and apple jelly. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten that since I am allergic to nuts now, and all the apple jelly on the market is crap. Seriously. Filled with high-fructose corn syrup, it’s not at all what I want for me or my kids. That’s why I was excited to find Stonewall Kitchen’s Cinnamon Apple Jelly at my local Whole Foods. Expensive? A little, but completely worth it. I knew it as soon as I opened the jar and saw little mashed up bits of Granny Smith apples. It’s been lunch all week, smooshed between two slices of Trader Joe’s Low Calorie Light Wheat bread and Sunflower Butter.
  • Battery-Free Toys. Ahhh, my big girl. She did something pretty incredible this year for her birthday. She asked birthday party guests to bring donations for charity instead of gifts. I’m not a completely mean mommy, though. I wanted her to have something to open, so I told her she could pick out five items (within reason) and we’d buy them for her. One of the items was a microphone. I found a really fun one at my favorite local store, Fun Stuff Toys. Manufactured by ecotronic, Big Girl’s microphone, called the eco mic, uses kid power instead of a charger or batteries. She winds it up and the microphone lets her sing to her heart’s content. (Note to other toymakers: ecotronic also gets props for its biodegradable — and minimalist — packaging.)
  • Putting rewards points to good use. I have a ton of American Express points. A ton. I don’t really do much with them. I am trying to avoid getting more stuff, to be honest, so I mostly end up using them to buy presents. Until now. American Express has a cool little program called GivingExpress. You can donate your points to a favorite charity — there are more than 1 million listed on the site — and get a tax-deduction for doing so. Nice idea. Nicer way to reduce my carbon footprint, too.
  • Safer Internet Browsing. My big girl is just getting started on the Web. I usually let her play while I read or work by her side. Still, the phone rings, nature calls. Occasionally I leave her unattended for a moment or two. That’s why I was excited to find a free online service from ParentsOnPatrol called McGruff SafeGuard (yes, THAT McGruff the National Crime Prevention Council‘s anti-crime dog) that monitors what kids do online including chats, Web sites, social networks, emails — anything that takes place on a PC. The best part? It’s free.
  • A Safe Haven. How many of us threatened our parents with running away? I know I did. I may have even left a few times, always coming back in a few hours. But sometimes kids leave because they actually need to leave. Today, National Safe Place (NSP) announced a new program that can help these at-risk, lost kids when they really need to bolt or are in imminent danger. Called the The “Txt 4 Help” program, kids can text the word “safe” as well as their current location or address to 69866 and receive a reply that contains the closest Safe Place site. (Safe Places are locations where kids can go to to get help and intervention so they don’t end up on the street — or worse.) Great idea. I have a feeling the organization is going to add to the more than 117,000 kids it’s already helped to date.

How was your week? Did you find anything interesting that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about it.

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