Product reviews Jen and John Speak

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Review: Lego Friends for Girls

Note: This is an unsolicited review based on our personal experience with a product we purchased.

As the mother of 2 boys and 1 girl, I can’t tell you the number of times I wished they had more girl-focused Lego sets. Now I realize this may cause my feminist card to be revoked, but as the mom to a girl who appreciates both Star Wars AND playing Barbies, I am all over the concept of Legos targeted specifically towards girls.

I was a little disappointed when I saw the initial reviews come out of the Lego Friends line targeted towards girls. From what I saw, people felt that they were stereotyping what girls should play with. As a strong independent woman with the desire to raise another one, I was duly horrified.

Until I saw them today at Target. And I have to say, I love them (and so does my daughter.) They had the beauty salon set, the fashion designer set, and the veterinarian set. All stuff my daughter is into. Each one is built around a character (I would love to see more multi-cultural sets in the future.) We agreed to get one of the $10 sets, and so she chose the fashion designer set. It was a pretty natural choice for her. Her grandmother works in the fashion industry in NY, and she loves fashion.

When we got it home, I felt like it was comparable to Polly Pocket (as did my son, who voiced that opinion independently.) My daughter must have thought so too, because she went to get her Polly Pocket dolls (which were twice the size of the Lego girl.) The set came with a desk, a chest of drawers (that opened), a lego laptop, a lego camera, a lego sandwich, and a few other things.

My daughter put together the set in about 10 minutes, and then couldn’t wait to start playing. It was very similar to how she plays with her other dolls. She did lots of role-playing, and enjoyed the laptop and camera especially. She told me how her lego doll had just designed a new fashion and was going to blog about it. 🙂

Overall, I have to say I was really impressed with Lego’s first foray into the girls’ market (beyond some token pink legos that we got when my daughter was younger.) My daughter loved them, they were relevant to what she’s interested in, and I will definitely get her more sets as the opportunity arises. (I totally want to get her Olivia’s Inventor’s Workshop next: http://friends.lego.com/en-us/Products/Details/3933.aspx) Legos are awesome for intellectual development, and the social aspect of play is just an added bonus.

Have you seen the new Lego sets targeted at girls yet? (You can see the entire line here: http://friends.lego.com/en-us/Default.aspx) What do you think of them? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

Eating Healthy On the Go: Some of My Favorites

Traveling as much as I do, I can’t always eat as well as I want to. We all know conference food isn’t healthy (and I speak at a lot of conferences) and the office lunch that they order in when I come for an all-day consulting meeting isn’t exactly high on the list of health food either. Add to that airport food, which varies dramatically depending on where you fly, and I found when I first started traveling that I was putting on weight. Not good!

I’ve since learned to take control in a few ways.

  • I always make and pack the next 2 meals I’ll eat, and put them in an insulated lunch tote that fits over the handle of my rolling suitcase. (I got mine from Thirty-One, and I can’t live without it!) For breakfasts, I’ll make an egg white and cheese sandwich on a whole grain English Muffin (the 100% Whole Wheat ones from Fiber One are my favorite) with fruit, and lunches or dinners are often hearty spinach salads with chicken, fruit, and nuts.
  • I also pack 100 calorie packs of almonds, fruits that don’t need refrigeration and travel well, like apples and oranges, and Kind fruit and nut bars (greatest bars EVER.)
  • I bring unsweetened instant oatmeal packets, unsweetened dried mango slices, sliced toasted almonds, cinnamon, nonfat dry milk, and a spoon for breakfasts in the hotel. Add hot water from the coffee machine in the room in a mug, and healthy (and cheap!) breakfast is served. (And in the other mug I make coffee with Starbucks Via, which is SO much better than hotel room coffee machine coffee.)
  • I pack my sneakers. I always try to hit the gym or a nearby running trail in the morning before my meetings. It gives me a burst of energy for the day, and it also helps to offset any of the bad food I’ll inevitably wind up eating.

By eating right at home and on the road, as well as running 4-5 times per week, I’ve taken off 20 lbs in the last 4 months.

But I also like it when restaurants I see everywhere help me make good choices. And Starbucks has recently launched a line of “Bistro Boxes” that help me do that. Instead of plastic-tasting, calorie-laden fast food choices, these are real food. I’ve tried the Chicken Lettuce Wraps (360 calories) and the Sesame Noodles (350 calories), and they are both awesome, packed with veggies, and delicious. And each one comes with a cute little bite-sized square of dark chocolate to complete the meal.

Filling, healthy, delicious. Starbucks really scored a home run with these.

How do you eat healthy on the go? How do you plan ahead? What are your healthy go-to spots when you need a good meal while you’re out and about? Would love to read your ideas and tips in the comments!

p.s. This is an unsolicited product review. Just my own 2 cents about products I love.