Stasher reusable silicone bag

I’m working on reducing the amount of plastic we use in our kitchen. I’m particularly concerned with using plastic free school lunch containers, so I bought a silicone storage bag to review. If you’d like to know more about why, please visit my previous post about this.

Today I’m reviewing a reusable, microwavable silicone bag called the Stasher. This is not a sponsored post, but any Amazon links below are referral links since I’m an Amazon affiliate.

The research out there indicates that silicone is safer than plastic, and specifically, it’s heat-safe. One negative is that it CAN hold onto odors. I wash our silicone containers, plates and bowls with unscented dish detergent. That seems to do the trick so far, but we’ve only been using these containers and dishes for a couple of months.

A web search will show you that there are tons of blog posts dealing with removing the smell from silicone. I guess that’s good and bad. Good because people have solutions; bad because it must be a common problem!

Some people use baking soda or vinegar. Others have success just putting the silicone in their ovens for 15 minutes or so there are different things you can try if you’ve discovered your silicone is starting to smell.

Stasher reusable silicone bag:

The Stasher bag currently comes in a snack size, a sandwich size, and a half-gallon size. They’re not cheap. It’s $11.99 for a sandwich bag, but you can use it over and over indefinitely, so eventually it pays for itself since I’m not buying plastic throwaway sandwich bags anymore.

Our Stasher filled with grapes. The green container is a Lifefactory glass container…review coming soon!

There are cheaper silicone bags on Amazon, but I chose Stasher for a couple of specific reasons:

One, silicone needs to be 100% food-grade silicone without fillers; otherwise the silicone could contain plastic fillers, the one thing I’m trying to avoid in the first place. There are nearly a thousand reviews on Amazon of people using Stasher, and many of the reviews mention doing a “pinch” test on the silicone, and that Stasher passes.

Now, I don’t know that the “pinch” test is entirely scientific. Basically, you pinch the silicone, or bend and squeeze it, if you see white, then the silicone has fillers in it.

But even if it’s not a scientific test, the Stasher is sold at Crate & Barrel, the Container Store, Bed Bath and Beyond, Bloomingdales, etc. It’s been reviewed by the Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, the Food Network, and so many more. Because of this, I do have faith this is quality silicone.

Two, the Stasher closes differently than most other silicone bags out there, and it’s easy for my 6 year old to manage. It’s a little difficult to explain, but if you look around at silicone bags on Amazon, you’ll see that most of them have a plastic stick-looking thing that slides over the top of the bag to seal it.

I read reviews saying that type of top was tricky for kids to handle on their own, so these kinds of bags may be better suited for food storage in the home than a school lunch container.

The Stasher closes almost like a throwaway plastic sandwich bag. It’s pinch-lock seal, and my son can open it and close it on his own.

We use the Stasher to send sandwiches and burritos to school. Occasionally I’ll put something like grapes in it. Since many people use Stasher for sous vide, I could probably put things like mac ‘n cheese in it, but I haven’t tried that yet.

The Stasher is microwavable. I explained to my son that first he needs to make sure the bag is opened to allow steam to release, but then he or his teacher can put it in the microwave. The first few times he used it at school, I wrote on it with a dry-erase marker, so his teacher would know that it’s microwavable. I also emailed her about it. We’ve had no issues using the Stasher as a plastic-free school lunch container for us.

Our Stasher with a burrito inside. The green container is a stainless steel container by LunchBots. I’ll be reviewing that one too.

I usually wash the Stasher by hand with unscented dish soap, but it can go through the dishwasher. When my son comes home from school, I immediately rinse the Stasher even if I don’t wash it right away. I think that probably helps keep the silicone from picking up a food scent.

For drying it, I use a spatula to hold the Stasher open to air out, and then I place it upside down overnight in a sink drying rack. I read a review online about a Stasher growing mold inside, but I think as long as you keep it open when it’s wet, that’s not going to happen.

I use a wood or silicone spatula (nothing sharp) to hold open the Stasher while it air drys.

So yeah! We like the Stasher! It’s also available in different colors and patterns, so that’s fun too!

Disclaimers again:

As I said up top, this review is completely independent. I did a lot of online research myself, scrolling through product reviews before I ended up purchasing this item at full price. I recommend this product, but that’s just my opinion, and you may find that this product doesn’t work well for your family. Also, the Amazon links are referral links. That means if you purchase anything through the links, I’ll receive a small amount of money from Amazon. When that happens, I save it all up until I have enough to buy…well, things like silicone bags and glass food containers to review!

Do you use silicone in your kitchen? Do you have any plastic-free products you really love and want to share with us?

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Kid’s DIY Dr. Who costume for Halloween

This year Little J wanted to go trick or treating as the 10th doctor from Dr. Who. I tried to persuade him to go as the 11th doctor, the Matt Smith version, but no, he wanted to be the 10 doctor, David Tennant. I don’t have anything against Tennant, but the Smith costume would have looked soooooo cute with the bowtie and boots! Tennant is still awesome though, so I was thrilled to put together this kid’s Dr. Who Halloween costume for Little J. I’ve had a few people ask where we got his costume from, so I thought I’d break down all the pieces. I bought almost everything on Amazon, and please note, I’m using affiliate links below.

The coat:

I looked around for a kid’s trench coat, but it was hard to find one that was brown and for a boy. The coats meant for girls weren’t cut the way I needed. They were shorter and flowed out like an empire waist. So on the advice of a friend, I bought a kid’s lab coat on Amazon with the plan to dye it tan. I bought the Aeromax Jr. Lab Coat in 3/4 length in the Child, 4-6 size. Little J is on the smaller size for a 4 year old, so I figured it would be a bit big for him (it was), but I needed the coat to be long since that’s part of the entire Dr. Who look.

When it arrived, the length was perfect for Dr. Who, but the sleeves were too long, and the coat was a little wide. I cut the ends of the sleeves off by a couple of inches and sewed a new hem on them to make the sleeves shorter. I also gathered in the sides of the coat a little bit under the arms and sewed a new inside seam just for a few inches under the arms. This probably didn’t need to be done though; I don’t think anyone would have noticed one way or another. I used a sewing machine for all of that, but really it was such little sewing that it could have easily been done by hand. I also replaced the white buttons on the coat with brown buttons (the fabric dye didn’t affect the white button color at all, so they had to change).

Finally, I dyed the lab coat with Rit Liquid Dye. I tried the Camel color first, and that really wasn’t dark enough, so I dyed it again with a Rit Dye Powder in Dark Brown. This was the first time I’d ever dyed fabric, but it was pretty easy. You can find the dye at Walmart, Harris Teeter and Amazon. I bought a large plastic bucket from Lowe’s to dye the coat in and just followed the directions. The end result wasn’t a perfect color match for Dr. Who, but we were happy with it. More importantly, Little J was happy!

The suit:

I spent a lot of time online looking at a brown pinstriped suit and a blue pinstriped suit. The 10th Doctor wore both. This brown pinstriped suit looked amazing, but the size we needed wasn’t available for Amazon Prime shipping. I was worried we wouldn’t get it in time, so I started focusing on a blue pinstriped 3-piece suit and a 2-piece version of the same blue suit. Because of the cost, I ended up getting the Spring Notion 2-piece version, and it worked out well. Although the 2-piece had a vest, not a suit jacket, I don’t think the overall Dr. Who look suffered because of it, especially with a coat over all of the costume.

I bought Little J this French Toast boy’s long sleeved white shirt and this French Toast adjustable tie in burgundy (size 4-7). At this point, you can probably tell this wasn’t a cheap costume, and that’s true. One of my justifications though is that he now has a nice church outfit! He’ll be wearing his “costume” minus the coat on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

The shoes:

This part was easy. We had a pair of orange Chucks for him that we’d bought earlier this year at a Converse outlet store. They were still a little big as he’s meant to grow into them, but he fit them well enough that we could pull them out for this costume. Dr. Who actually wears cream or red Converse shoes, but the orange still really did the trick.

The accessories:

The 10th Doctor would not be the 10th Doctor without his sonic screwdriver, so that’s what we bought. Last of all, the Doctor needs his TARDIS, so I bought Little J a TARDIS tote bag to haul his candy in.

The hair:

For the hair, I literally just let my son grow his hair out for two months and used lots of gel in it and messed it up! If he had different color hair or it were shorter, I probably would have bought him a wig. And that was it! We had a few people who had no idea who Little J was dressed up like. We got Harry Potter, a lawyer, and vague “little gentleman.” But for the dozen or so times someone recognized him as Dr. Who? Totally worth the effort!!!

kids dr who collage

Did you make your little one’s costume this year? Did you make your own?

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A Family Outing: Port Discovery Children’s Museum

A few Saturdays ago, we visited the Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore for the first time. It’s not the cheapest place to visit. Besides the entrance fee, you have to pay for parking.

Ticket prices vary. As of September 2016, general admission costs $14.95 for ages 2 and up, but they have specials. For example, military personnel receive $2 off general admission for themselves and up to 4 guests. Also, if you have an IKEA Family Card, you can get 50% off one general admission ticket.

If you park in the Harbor Park Garage, which is next to the museum, ask the staff in the museum to give you a discount card to reduce your parking price to $15. I did check on Parking Panda the day before, and I found cheaper garages, but they were a further walk to the museum. Drivers in Baltimore (actually, pretty much anywhere in Maryland) do not stop for pedestrians, even when they’re in crosswalks and even though it’s the law, so I did not want to walk any further with Little J than I had to!

We started on the top floor of the museum and worked our way down. The Wonders of Water play area (closed Tuesdays for maintenance) and Tiny’s Diner were probably Little J’s favorite places to play.

Port Discovery
Little J and Big J building a plumbing system at the Wonders of Water play area. The museum has Crocs (cleaned daily) for people to borrow for this exhibit if they want. They had rain jackets for the kids too.
Port Discovery
Tiny’s Diner has play food, pots, pans, and trays for kids to play with.

Port Discovery
The play food looks realistic!

I felt like the museum did a good job of catering to kids of almost all ages, from crawling infants to upper elementary ages. There were some areas that may appeal to middle school students (like the indoor soccer “stadium”), but I think they’d be a bit old for most of the exhibits.

Port Discovery
In the Adventure Expeditions, you can wander around in 1920’s Egypt, decipher hieroglyphics and more.

The museum also has a quiet room called The Oasis. I think this is a great place for kids who are overwhelmed by all of the busyness in the museum. There’s even a nursing room inside of The Oasis!

Port Discovery
The Oasis has quiet toys, lots of books and places to sit and relax.
Port Discovery
There’s a Nursing Station in The Oasis too! You have to duck down a little to get into it. There are windows between the room and the rest of The Oasis, so moms can nurse their little ones and still keep an eye on older kids.

The pictures in this post were on my iPhone, but once I eventually get picture off my Nikon, I’ll put up another post with more photos. That post will include photos of Tot Trails, which is the more infant-friendly area, and BGE Studio Workshop, the craft area.

Something I really liked about the museum, they don’t let adults in unless the adult is accompanying a child. Also, the adults will have the same wristband code as the child or children. Before you can walk out of the facility with a child, security will match the child’s wrist band with yours.

We spent a few hours there, and Little J still wasn’t able to do everything, so I think it’s feasible to spend an entire day. They don’t sell food there, but they do have a sitting area where you can eat food you brought with you. You can also leave the museum to eat at one of the numerous restaurants within walking distance, and you’ll be allowed back into the museum with your wrist band.

Bottom line- our whole family had fun, and we’d do it again!

What fun places did you visit this summer?

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