Cool Product Pick - The Gym1 Indoor Playground (formerly "Gorilla Gym")

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of our links, Sample Sale Mom will receive a small percentage of commission.

This was my kids' favorite Christmas present this year by far! And... they have been fighting over it since. The basic version of the Gym1 Indoor Playground comes with the pull-up bar, swing, rings and rope ladder. The deluxe version comes with all that AND trapeze bar and climbing rope attachments. So far I've found that my kids have mainly used the basic attachments, but I'd like to try out this super cool cocoon attachment also! For little kids, you can attach a standard baby swing to the apparatus and that works just as well!

Before purchasing, check Zulily here to see if the Gym1 is on sale there. I was able to get a great price on it and have seen it there twice (for a few days each time) since I purchased!!

Assembly, for us, took about an hour. My very helpful dad came over, studied the instructions, put it together and hung it up. Once assembled, it only takes a minute or two to hang the Gym1 in a doorway or take it down - and it takes only seconds to change which attachment goes onto the bar. For help with assembly, once you get your Gym1 set, check youtube for some helpful videos!

It doesn't matter how wide your trim is on either side of the door - that is irrelevant. What matters is that you have a molding OVER the door on one side, and that you have clearance in front of and behind the doorway (to give kids room to swing back and forth.) The other dimensions are the width of the door (must be 25 to 36 inches) and the width of the door frame where it clamps on.

Once the gym is up, you will not be able to close the door to the doorway where it hangs, unless you remove the apparatus.

This isn't only for kids either - with a 300 lb weight limit, my husband or I can swing or do pull ups as well (well okay... I can't actually do a pull up. My 10 year-old can do many however!) Great for burning off energy during those Winter months when it's too cold to go outside!

For more cool kids' stuff, great sales, and things for parents, see our Facebook group, Sample Sale Mom.

Valentine's Day Wrapping Paper (Kids' Project)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of our links,
Sample Sale Mom will receive a small percentage of commission.

Here's a quick project you can do with the kids. I love hand made wrapping paper! Fun for Valentine's day, birthdays, Christmas, or any other time you want to make a special gift for someone (just vary the theme/shape). Here's what you need:

Brown Kraft paper (if you have none, the insides of brown paper bags work)
Apples or potatoes. Preferably potatoes. It's too tempting to eat the apples!
Knife for cutting out stamps
Tube Water color paints
thick paint brush or sponge brush
Brown twine (string)

First, cut out whatever shape you want from your potato. Spread out some water color and mix in some water on a piece of scrap paper. You want it pretty thick. Paint it onto your potato stamp with your brush. Test out the consistency before stamping on your wrapping paper piece. We alternated two shades of red - a true, brighter red and a more burgundy shade, and I thought the variety looked nice.

Tell kids to try and leave an even amount of space between stamps. After every two or three impressions, dip your stampers into the paint again. Allow ample time to dry completely.

Cool Product Pick - Tubelox!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

We were excited to get our big box in the mail!!! This is the deluxe 220 piece set.

My kids and I love building toys, so as soon as I saw Tubelox for the first time I knew we had to have some!! Tubelox are BIG interlocking pieces that enable older kids (or younger ones with help) to build cars, houses, slides... all sorts of things. They are a great S.T.E.M. toy (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and have recently won an award from the National Parenting Center! Tubelox were invented by Rachel and Steve, whose toys have appeared on Shark Tank.

Attaching the safety clips

Tubelox come with safety clips, which must be used to hold the connections in place and make sure your creations are rock solid. Tubelox have a high weight limit for multiple kids (the car we built held my 120 lbs.—but I would not recommend them generally for adults to ride!). They do not come with a plastic box, but I found a good one at Staples for about $30.

I reached out to the company to see if they wanted to send me some free Tubelox. They said no. BUT, they did offer to let me become an affiliate and give my readers a code for a discount on the deluxe 220 piece set of Tubelox!!! Code SAVE70 will bring the price of this box down to $180 and your shipping is FREE!!! This offer is only good through Tuesday November 29th, 2016.  Code is now expired, but keep an eye on Sample Sale Mom for an update next time there is a discount code!

Tubelox come with a booklet of different design ideas - or invent your own!

Affiliate code. If you buy using this discount code, I will receive a small percentage of commission. Thanks for supporting Sample Sale Mom!!

Best Boys' Clothing Brands (Casual Clothes)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Shirt by Joah Love, backpack by Madpax, and kids' aviator shades.

I have two boys, so that's my focus when it comes to clothing. Many of the following brands make super cute clothing for BOTH genders though! 

Some of these brands will be available for less on resale sites like Thredup, on flash sale sites like Zulily, and on clearance at your local Nordstrom Rack store. Keep an eye on the sample sale mom Facebook group for updates about great sales on many of these brands! (This post contains affiliate links. In some cases I'll receive a small percentage of commission when you make a purchase via one of my links.)

Andy & Evan hoodie with elbow patches

Andy & Evan - This is our go-to brand for our rare dress up days. They also have nice cotton hoodies with contrasting details (hood linings and elbow patches) I have a thing for elbow patches on little boys clothes, love them! And Andy & Evan is very affordable while maintaining great quality (a lot of their basics look like Janie and Jack, listed below, but for much less than J & J's retail). This is one brand you can often buy for much less than the website prices. Check Amazon for sales. We have bought most of our cardigans and hoodies for under $20, including shipping. This brand runs true to size. 

Hanna Andersson - This line, started by a Swedish mom and her American husband in 1983, is the gold-standard for quality American kids clothing. Hanna clothes are HARD to wear out (and believe me, we've tried). Colors stay true in the wash, knees take forever to rip through, and Pjs feel even softer and comfier after being worn heavily by two kids. I prefer their simpler solids, stripes and color-block designs to most of their appliqués and screen prints, because some of it looks a little too "young" for my taste. Their clothes tend to be cut a little bit to the short/wide side, so they don't always work for my older, skinny-as-a-pole son. Sizes are Euro-style. Buy during their sales and you'll save a bundle, Hanna quality comes with a big Hanna price tag. Free shipping available if you order from the website, if you have your purchase shipped to your local store, and then pick up at your convenience. On your very first order, get 20% off for using my link here.

Hatley - Playful, rich, intense colors and fun prints. Possibly the best raincoats out there, with adorable prints, a nice cotton lining and soft, flexible non-shiny exterior. And their pajamas!!! I love the way Hatley really breaks out of the boy/girl traditional roles for color. See My son has some gorgeous turquoise and lime green Hatley turtle pajamas. Amazon is the best place to get Hatley at a hefty discount. 6PM (Zappos' outlet store) often has good discounts as well. They have some incredible sales at end-of-season or on items that are being discontinued.

Hatley PJs, super soft 100% cotton in bright colors/patterns

Janie and Jack - Although most of their styles are too preppy and/or dressy for my casual boys, they have some killer deals on the markdown racks in their stores. Nice appliqué, themed t-shirts, dress clothes, dress shoes, sweaters, and soft-cotton reversible sweatshirts. Perfect for holiday family photos! You have got to check out their hats!!

Joah Love - If you want your child's wardrobe to be described as hip, cool or edgy, this one is for you. Joah Love's designs don't look childish - some are like pieces taken and shrunken down from a 20-something's closet. This brand runs BIG, by a full size. My son was still wearing a sz 6 Joah Love t-shirt when he was in a 7 (or even an 8) in almost every other brand. I look forward to seeing them in many more Joah Love pieces until my boys are in their tweens. Check Nordstrom,  Amazon and Gilt (search in the search bar for Joah Love.)

Jojo Maman Bebe - A Euro brand with cute appliqué shirts, jammies, swimwear and reversible sweatshirts. And especially, the Fisherman's coat – amazing raincoats (tied with Hatley raincoats, love them too). Thick, supple exterior, soft, high quality full cotton lining. Nice little details. And unlike the clothes, which seem true to size, their outerwear runs quite generous. The size 5/6 Fisherman's coat can be worn until your child is a solid size 7. Also check Zulily for sales (do a search in the search bar for Jojo Maman Bebe - Zulily has an option that will notify you when any brand is on sale again.) 

Kate Quinn Organics - Nice, soft organic cotton in pretty designs with an earthy vibe. Runs a size small (especially if you machine wash/dry it, which you're probably not supposed to but I do.)

Mini Boden padded jackets and hats

Mini Boden - Maybe my favorite! Beautiful detailing on everything this British company makes. Quality and customer service are excellent. Iconic, colorful appliqué tees with sewn on designs, the cutest boy socks (they come in a 7 pack sock-box, to match all sorts of different colored outfits.) My favorite thing Mini Boden makes is their warm, gorgeous lined pants for winter, which have a contrasting-color lining. And their winter jackets are wonderful too! See my reviews of past Boden sample sales if you live in PA, NY, or MA, and lots of ways to save money on Boden wherever you live. I find this brand general runs true to size. Remember to check Nordstrom markdowns for Boden - they have free shipping and returns on any amount!

Alex (left) in Boden lined pants, shirt and socks. Chase (right) in Boden lined pants and socks, with a Hanna top.

See Kai Run - There are lots of shoes I like but these have always been my favorites. The reason? The bright variety of colors and designs available, at a relatively low price. So pretty. You need to shop around to get the best deal on See Kai Run, because they have sales all over the place. After checking the SKR website itself,  check Amazon. Then check 6PM - prices often fluctuate by the day. 

Chase in Boden jacket, Hanna Andersson jeans, and See Kai Run sneakers.

Tea Collection - First the good - Tea is ethically made, and consistently has amazing color and design to their pieces. Their designers go around the world to different places, study and photograph the graphic design in that region, and then capture the feeling of that area in one season's line. As a traveler and as a graphic designer, I LOVE this! Past collections have included India, China, Japan, Bali, Turkey, etc… I am always curious to see what's next. They have a way of integrating images and type that is so visually appealing. However, Tea tends to fade and stain more easily than a lot of the other brands on this list. So you aren't supposed to put it into the dryer, and you must stain treat it right away. (We use this stuff. It's the BEST.) I've also been told by Tea aficionados that washing your Tea with a cup of vinegar when you first buy it will help preserve the colors longer. Nevertheless, it's definitely in my top 3 favorites and has a cult following. Tea runs true to size or a bit big. The boys pants/shorts run a full size big, whereas tops and jackets are a more true to size.

Chase in a Tuff Kookooshka Fleece and Tea Collection shirt. Alex (back) in Tea Collection shirt and hoodie. 

Tuff Kookooshka - This company is small, ethically run and USA-made, and their outerwear and hat designs are absolutely adorable. Made of polartec fleece, the pieces are handmade, and they are perfect for New England Springs and Falls. My only complaint is that their jacket sizes only go up to size 6 (which my sons have long since outgrown). If they would keep making up to size 10, I'd keep buying! Recently featured themes include animals, florals, superheros, and mermaids. Check Zulily for sales, esp. around February.

Venait car PJs with appliqué design.

Vaenait - This is another extremely affordable brand with ultra cute stuff. Mostly soft appliqué pajamas. Go through the link and you can see page and pages of different styles, each one cuter than the next. And again, almost all of them only go up to size 6/7 (sigh..) which is considered an "XL". If you are between sizes, it is best to go up. I'm really annoyed that I didn't discover it when my kids were toddlers. If you're obsessed with pjs, you must try some of these. And if anyone from Vaenait is reading this, PLEASE start making more of your designs in the big-kid sizes!


Post contains affiliate links. If you buy through my links, I will receive a merchandise credit or a small percentage of commission. Thanks for supporting Sample Sale Mom!!

My Favorite New Spring Shoes

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I am in looove with my new Sanuk Yoga Sling flip-flops - They are super comfy around the feet, and soft on the footpads. I'd say the run a touch big (at least for me, as you can see, I have rather short toes). I am normally between an 8 and an 8.5 and the 8s fit me perfectly. I'm looking forward to grabbing a few more pairs and wearing them all summer long.

There are a LOT of colors/patterns on sale at Amazon in the style I'm wearing above, but you'll have to go through one by one to find the best deals in your size. You can check them all out here. 

There are also a lot of other Sanuk styles (sandals, flip flops and flats), although I have not tried the others yet, you can find them here.

Post contains affiliate and referral links. If you buy through my links, I will receive a merchandise credit or a small percentage of commission. Thanks for supporting Sample Sale Mom!!

How to Save with Amazon's Subscribe & Save program

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Our Pharaoh Hound Felix with some Amazon deliveries, including dog food and treats. 
This post contains affiliate links. If you buy through one of our links, Sample Sale Mom 
will receive a percentage of commission.

On my Facebook page and group, I write often about how to save money with Amazon's subscribe and save. It's kind of like Costco... but you don't have to buy in bulk (unless you want to) and you can have items shipped right to your door. Much easier than spending an hour of your time shopping and dragging home a 50 lb bag of dog food. And on the coupon-discounted items, prices tend to be around the same or better than Costco's.

Subscribe and save (S&S) is not the same thing as Amazon Pantry. Subscribe and save covers all sorts of stuff you use in your home - beauty items, art supplies, laundry stuff, snacks, pet supplies, and lots more. It doesn't cost anything extra if you already have Prime, and *saves you 15%* off every monthly-delivery product you order when you have at least 5 S&S items in the same monthly shipment. On top of that, you can apply lots of instant discounts to specific items, just by clicking on a "coupon" on the item listing. If you have Amazon Family, which is free with your Prime membership, and very quick to add to your account here, you get an extra 20% off subscribe and save diapers, provided you have 5+ total items in your monthly shipment.

At first, I signed up for only dog food on S&S since it was much cheaper that way, (a giant bag of dog food on Amazon isn't much more than a little bag at the overpriced pet store.) I did not bother to do other items. I thought it was too big a pain, or there would be nothing I wanted/needed, or it would be hard to cancel something if I did not want it any more. But then I found out that it's really, really easy to switch items each month, and by buying whatever happens to be discounted, you end up saving a lot. "Discounted" items are not just weird, random stuff either - toilet paper, tissues, cereal, diapers, toothpaste, snack bars, drinks... lots of things you'd be buying anyway. 

Here are some of the questions people often have about Subscribe and Save....

Where do I find subscribe and save items that have an additional coupon discount on them? 
First, join our Facebook group, Sample Sale Mom as I post a few of the best deals there every day, so you don't have to go hunting. You can search the word "subscribe" in the group search bar to bring up lots more deals. You can also search on Amazon itself for items you might normally buy at Costco or the grocery store. 

Click here for the main coupon page, where Amazon lists discounted items. Typically, if an item has a 30% discount on it, and you also have 5 monthly subscribe and save items for the additional 15% off, you will save 45% off the original price - because both discounts come off the top (off the original price.)  
Here are all the current baby-stuff coupons.
Here are all the current beauty coupons.
Here are all the office and school supply coupons.
Here are all the grocery coupons.
Here are the health & personal care coupons.
Here are the toy coupons.
Here are the pet supply coupons.
Here are the clothing coupons.
You can filter for more categories with the left hand side menu on a computer. 

Where can I see my discounts? 
Once you have five monthly subscribe and save items, the 15% off will show up automatically on monthly subscribe and saves before you card them, right on the listing page. The coupon discounts won't show up until your "order summary", which is the last checkout screen before you click to order, right after you select payment method. Here is a picture of what your order summary should look like if you have a coupon item AND at least five total monthly subscribe and saves.

In this case, I used a 20% off coupon (I needed to click the coupon to apply it - it's normally in a green or grey box right under the item price) and got another 15% off for having 5 monthly subscribe and saves. So a total savings of 35% (since both discounts come off the top.)

When I use a coupon, do I get the discounted price every month?
No. Coupon discounts are only good on the first delivery of an order. However - often the same manufacturers run coupons over and over again. To take advantage of that, you can just cancel your subscription on that item and re-add it each time a coupon is re-issued (most coupons are one use only, once you use them they won't appear for you any more - so if you see the coupon show up on the item again, that usually means it has been re-issued.) 

What if the coupon deal ends before my monthly subscribe and save ships out? 
That doesn't matter - the price you pay in your "order summary" (shown in the pic above) is the price you'll pay at delivery time (unless you go above or drop below the 5-monthly-item threshold - in that case your price will be effected, as the 15% S&S discount will be added or taken away.) 

What if I don't need the item right away? Can I "skip" my first delivery? 
Although Amazon gives you the easy ability to "skip" deliveries, this is probably not a good idea when using a coupon discount. Group members have told me that the system gets confused when you skip the first delivery of a coupon item, and you don't end up getting your discount. You can straighten it out with an email to Amazon (or contacting them by "chat") - but this seems like an unnecessary hassle to me. If I don't need an item, I either wait to buy it, or buy it and store it. 

Where can I see my monthly subscribe and saves? 
Go to "Hello (your name) Your Account" on the upper right side of any Amazon page. Choose the option for "Your Subscribe and Save Items" (it brings you  here as shown in the screen shot below.) NOTE: Prices you'll see on the subscribe and save page do *not* reflect your coupon discounts!! They show whatever the current item price is (including the 15% discount if you meet the 5-items-monthly threshold.) I paid substantially less than what is shown for 6 of the 9 products here since they had coupons on them. To see what you actually paid for each item, you'll need to go into your "orders" and then to "order details". You can also see what you paid for each item on the confirmation email you got when you purchased. 

I only wanted to order this item once - how do I cancel it? 
To cancel a subscribe and save item, go to  your subscribe and save page as shown above. Hover over any item. You'll see a choice of "edit" or "skip" - Choose edit. Then you'll see a page like the one shown below - click "cancel item." You will be asked to choose a reason you are canceling, but you don't have to if you don't want to. Click "confirm cancellation." That's it! You have canceled your item. 

Post contains affiliate links. If you buy through my links, I will receive a merchandise credit or a small percentage of commission. Thanks for supporting Sample Sale Mom!!

Boden and Mini Boden Clearance Sale Review (Boston, February 7, 2015)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Post contains affiliate links. If you buy through one of my links, Sample Sale Mom will be compensated a small percentage of commission. Thanks for supporting Sample Sale Mom!

If you want to read a few of my other reviews of past  Boden sales, you can find them  here,  here and  here. Today I arrived at the Hynes around 7. At the last sale (September 2014) I had been pleasantly surprised to see a shorter-than-usual line when I arrived - but that wasn't the case today. By 7 am there were already about 50 women lined up. I happened to arrive at the same time as several women from one of my facebook shopping-groups, so we all chatted for the 3 hours until the sale opened up. This made the time seem to pass by so quickly! I was somewhat nervous about whether or not we would get in on the first intake, but we did! Just after 10 the doors opened and I went running for the boys table as usual (I have two boys, ages 5 and 7). I was immediately disappointed when I arrived at the boys table and saw... spots of bare table. Normally the tables are covered with enormous piles of clothing. Over the past three sales, the amount of boys clothing seems to have been decreasing, but this is the first time I've been really disappointed in the selection of clothes in the sizes I want. I was able to grab a few nice things, but only because I was one of the first people to arrive at the table. At all the past sales, there has been an abundance of large size (9+) boys clothing - but at this one, everything was gone from the table within the first 3 minutes of the sale, and the concentration seemed to be smaller sizes. I heard from several people that the girl's selection was good this time, and that table had MUCH higher piles when I came in.

Best dress I found today, the Dartmouth Tunic for $40. Score!

But there was good news. Since I spent so little time at the boys table, I quickly moved on to women's, and there the selection was wonderful! In total I bought 4 dresses, a cashmere-blend cardigan, and a top for me. For my boys I bought one sweater, one hoody, one pair of pjs, two long sleeved tops, one pair of lined cotton pants, and one pair of lined jeans. My best find of the day was the Dartmouth Tunic Dress I found in my size for $40 - which is currently featured on Boden's site for $148. Almost all the dresses I tried on (even a few that I rejected for one reason or another) fit really nicely - I find that the brand in general is wonderful in terms of being flattering on a range of different body types. I saw lots of other ladies getting some gorgeous things that looked great on them!

This time I didn't have as much luck with the discard piles as I've had in the past. I found all but one of my items myself, on the tables. Yet again I got distracted and forgot to take photos inside the hall of all the craziness - but here is a photo taken by Amy Wu of some of the shoppers (with their giant shopping bags! Don't forget those.)

Below are the current prices - some things (hats, pjs, backpacks, socks, underwear...) do not seem to have an assigned price, so there is some variation in what people have been charged. If anyone from Boden is reading this, I would really encourage them to fix this issue by assigning a price to every category of item!! I was told that an item was $15, and my friend bought it and was charged $5. It's very frustrating as a buyer to hear that different people are paying different prices for things. Another example - last time I bought a sweatshirt and was charged $25 (I was told it "counted as a jacket") - at this sale, all kids' hoodies were $15 and apparently counted as tops.

All in all I am excited about my great buys today - but I hope that the decreasing amount of children's items is not a trend that continues. Please Boden, go back to the old method and send more kid's items to Boston!

I will definitely be going to the next sale in September (for a schedule of upcoming Boden sales, including the September 2015 date, check my webpage listing). I have a bunch of tips listed on that page about what to wear, what to bring, and where to park (scroll down on the page). If you are interested in seeing discussions of each Boston Boden sale, get $5 off coupons for each sale, or find out who to contact about working at a sale, join my facebook group (and message me.)

Last but not least, if you want MORE discounted Boden and Mini Boden and you don't feel like leaving your house, here are a few ways to save money on Boden right at home.
  1. To get regular updates on Boden coupon codes (I never personally order without at least a 20% off code) - join Sample Sale Mom Deals on Facebook, as I regularly post the current coupon codes.   
  2. Online discounter Zulily sometimes has Boden sales at up to 50% off catalog prices. You can also search in their search bar any time and they often have a few Boden items on sale. To be alerted about upcoming Boden sales on Zulily, you can click the white heart next to "Boden" on the site so that it turns red. They also have sales on plenty of other awesome brands - some of my favorites include Hanna Andersson, Tea Collection, Kate Quinn Organics, Keen & Sophie Catalou.
  3. Several other sites now occasionally sell Boden "vouchers" - For $35 you can buy a $50 Boden voucher good on anything on the site. There is usually a one or two per household restriction, per voucher sale. Sites that sell Boden vouchers include Zulily, and Rue La La, and I post all of these sales by the day they start on my facebook group
  4. If you love Mini Boden, check out Hatley, which is high-quality, (read the reviews) to-die-for cute, and can be much less expensive. 
Post contains affiliate and referral links. If you buy through my links, I will receive a merchandise credit or a small percentage of commission. Thanks for supporting Sample Sale Mom!!