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  • Kitchen Tip: Keep an Aloe Vera Plant

    When I was growing up, my parents made a point of always having an aloe vera plant outside. Whenever someone had a burn, they would cut off a piece of the plant and spread the sap over the burn. They always sang its praises, and I believed them but didn’t have much personal experience because I didn’t have a fondness for hot things or flame.

    Fast forward to about ten years ago, when Marc and I moved into our first home together. One of the first things I did was buy an aloe plant. The amazing thing is, we’ve thoroughly neglected it and it’s still alive and well on our patio.

    Over the years, I’ve periodically burned myself in the kitchen and asked Marc to bring me a piece of aloe. It’s always helped, but I developed a renewed appreciation for it this week when my left middle finger came into contact with the wire rack in my toaster oven as I slid out a loaf of freshly baked artisan bread. At first, I didn’t think the burn was that bad, but it started throbbing after a few minutes.

    Marc responded promptly to my call for help, and I applied fresh aloe to the burn repeatedly until bedtime. I wore gloves when washing the dishes, but even then the contact with the hot water through the glove made the burn sting so I knew it was a bad one. Amazingly, despite a little discoloration, the skin on my finger is smooth, and it didn’t hurt after that first night.

    I’m not a medical expert, so I can’t swear that aloe vera will work for every one or for every minor burn. But you’ll never find me cooking without an aloe vera plant nearby!

    One recall last week + CPSC warns about drop-side cribs

    If you think you have the following item(s), click through to the CPSC press release for more details:

    Girls’ Vests with Drawstrings Recalled by MIM-PI USA Due to Strangulation Hazard – Click through for an additional photo.

    The CPSC also issued a warning about using drop-side cribs, noting that there have been 32 fatalities in drop-side cribs in the last 9 years. The CPSC says that it “cannot say that every drop-side crib is hazardous,” but the “between the lines” recommendation is that parents and caregivers should stop using drop-side cribs just to be safe. (And boy, does that make me happy we don’t have a crib anymore, because I loved our first drop-side crib. Of course I did. I’m short.)

    Stay on top of recalls by signing up for recall notifications by email at the CPSC web site.

    Morning Coffee: Tax Rant

    I realize $50,000 for a family of four isn’t that much to live on . . . but should such a family not only not have to pay taxes but actually get money from the government through tax credits? According to this article, a family of four with two kids under age 17 and $50,000 income would make $31 from the federal income tax. What I take from that is, I’m paying thousands of dollars in taxes so that my income can be redistributed to other families who make less. It’s one thing if I’m just paying a bigger share of road construction/police protection/military/etc. because I have a bigger income, but it feels wrong that my tax dollars are simply going to subsidize other families. Not that they can do much with $31, but it’s the principle of the thing. At least there are lots of good deals to help me stretch what’s left after taxes! (Hat tip: All Financial Matters.)

    Get free Kraft Macaroni & Cheese when you become their Facebook fan.

    Get a free Hallmark Kids card through May 30. No purchase required, and it looks like there’s no coupon either, but the site does say “participating retailers” so you may want to call ahead to confirm your store’s participation.

    Did you know Amazon has personalized coupons?I’m not sure how they’re selected, but it might be worth checking regularly to see if you’ve got anything good – the ones I’m seeing are all for personal care products, like razors and toothpaste. Disclosure: I’m an Amazon affiliate, so any purchase you make after entering Amazon through a link on Chief Family Officer supports this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you! (Via Baby Cheapskate.)

    Get a printable coupon for $1/1 Expo Washable Dry Erase Markers. I haven’t printed this yet, but the site says the offer is good through September 1 – if that’s the expiration date of the coupon, then the markers should free or at least cheap sometime during the back to school sales.

    Get up to $10.50 in coupons for Arm & Hammer Clumpimg Cat Litter (registration required). Link via

    Stretching a Buck has this week’s Target deals.

    Bargain Briana has this week’s Meijer deals.

    Bargain Briana also has this week’s Kmart deals.

    Happy Birthday to Mindi of Moms Need to Know – she’s celebrating by giving away a $100 Amazon gift certificate (ends 4/16).

    The CPSC OnSafety blog describes how to childproof your windows.

    Wisebread has a recipe for gluten-free oreos.

    CSPC Safety Alerts: Slings & More Cadmium Jewelry

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued new warnings this week to parents.

    The first calls attention to some children’s jewelry that contains high levels of cadmium. I think these items were mentioned in the articles that first raised the issue of the danger of cadmium in children’s jewelry (discussed by me here). Here’s the official warning:

    CPSC Issues Warning on Children’s Winter and Holiday-Themed Charm Bracelets with High Levels of Cadmium

    The press release includes photos of the charms, although at this point, it’s definitely good practice to heed the CPSC’s previous warning to remove all jewelry marketed to children.

    The second warning came today, and cautions parents to be extra careful when using slings with infants because of a suffocation risk. At least 14 babies have died while in slings since 1998, so their concern is legitimate. They recommend that you make sure that your infant’s face is visible to you at all times. Here’s the official warning:

    Infant Deaths Prompt CPSC Warning About Sling Carriers for Babies

    It’s been a while since I’ve worn a baby, but I used to wear Tyler all the time in a mei tai and I remember constantly checking to make sure his nose was unobstructed and that he was breathing. I’m a huge proponent of baby carriers, and I could not have made it through Tyler’s first year without one, since my kids are so close in age that it was crucial to have my hands free. But as with anything, they need to be used correctly. I found the babywearing board at Babycenter to be extremely helpful back then.

    Morning Coffee: Proof that it pays to play The Drugstore Game

    I wasn’t planning to go to Walgreens again this week, but the Friends & Family coupon and the Dove coupons that came in the mail were too much temptation to resist. I won’t lay out my transactions since the Friends & Family coupon was only valid yesterday, but here’s a summary: I started with $16 in Register Rewards, which can be used like cash to pay for purchases. I paid $5.01 out of pocket ($2.21 before tax), and came home with $18 in Register Rewards for next week – plus all of the things I bought, including 6 boxes of Kleenex, 2 bottles of body wash, and 2 bottles of Children’s Tylenol. Before The Drugstore Game, I would have paid $5 for just one bottle of Children’s Tylenol after sale price, coupon and tax!

    A Children's PlaceClick on the banner to get a coupon for 15% off at The Children’s Place. You can use the coupon online or in store, and they’re having a President’s Day sale this weekend. Online, you get $5 flat rate shipping. Disclosure: Banner via

    Get a coupon for free Excedrin by mail when you answer the question at the link by picking one of their competitors.

    Get a free sample of Frederick Fekkai Glossing Cream from Walmart. (Via FreeStuff4Free.)

    The CPSC blog has some safety tips regarding drop side cribs. As you might recall, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of drop side cribs have been recalled in the last year or so. We had two drop side cribs, and our more expensive one from Simmons ($500-$600) was fabulous. I am completely confident that it was perfectly safe. The cheaper Jardine crib (about $300) was poorly made (I actually scraped the wood off when my engagement ring rubbed against it a few times) and actually recalled.

    Get $10 off a $10 purchase at JC Penny with code TEN4YOU (expires 2/27). Don’t forget to go through a shopping portal like Ebates (referral link) or Upromise to maximize your savings. (Via Freebies 4 Mom.)

    Common Sense with Money has a scenario for a $10 moneymaker on Olay body wash. You’ll have to go to Target and send in a rebate, but it looks like the Target gift card deal will be around at least next week so you’ll have time to get it done. (And so will I – I go to Target so much less than I used to before The Drugstore Game!)

    If you shop at Farm Fresh, here’s a list of current coupon match ups.

    My Good Cents explains how you can get free Right Guard deodorant at Vons/Pavilions (and possibly all Safeway stores).

    Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate and/or referral links, and may refer to items that were sent to me for review. However, all opinions are my own. You can read Chief Family Officer’s full disclaimer and disclosure policy here.