Bento Boxes: The Stylish Solution for Kids’ Knick-Knacks

Kids keep the darnedest things.  Every movie premiere souvenir, preschool party favor, seashell from the seashore and arts and every rubber bug, toy car, action figure doll, broken or not.  So where does one store all of these tchotchkes and keepsakes? 

Dump the eyesore of plastic tubs for a storage solution that is fun and functional for kids as it aesthetically acceptable to parents.  Rubbermaid may be known for its food containers, but its Bento Boxes have earned it a place at the designer table.

 

The Bento Box collection features a durable hard CARB-certified MDF board covered with high-quality easily cleanable polyester.  The boxes, in small, medium, large and extra large, can be stacked or sit side by side.  They look great with our without the Topper lids, which double as trays to hold additional items, and the various sized boxes can fit inside each other for storage.

The boxes are so sturdy they could serve as an end table, and they are so decorative, they can sit out rather than be stored away in a closet.

Ingenious pop-out Flex Dividers offer the option to create compartments for organized storage, or they can stay folded away along the interior of the box when not used.   Colors include deep red Paprika, neutral off-white Loose Linen and tastefully dark beige patterned Chadwick.  Bento Boxes are available at Rubbermaid.com and specialty and selected Retailers.  Prices range from $8.99 to $25.99.

That’s how we roll: best family biking in Los Angeles

 

The Los Angeles area offers many great paths where families can ride together.  To get the most out of your family biking outing, choose the right path and the best gear for your needs.

 

Where to ride

 

The Santa Monica and Venice bike path is a picturesque eight-and-a-half mile stretch from Washington Boulevard to Temescal Canyon Road with ocean vistas as well as the sights and amusements of Venice and the Santa Monica Pier.  It can get crowded during the summer and on weekends though, so go either very early in the morning or after the beach crowds leave late in the afternoon.  Also make sure children know the rules of the road and don’t stray into oncoming bike traffic or stop on the path for breaks.  For the road less traveled, head south toward Marina del Rey and Hermosa Beach where traffic is lighter. 

 

Griffith Park offers a shady paved trail along the roadside.  The best loop runs along Crystal Springs Drive and Zoo Drive, then rolls back along the Los Angeles River and ends on Los Feliz Boulevard near the main entrance. Parents can fill a day with biking and a picnic lunch along with other park attractions such as the L.A. Zoo, a merry-go-round, and train and pony rides.

 

The Ballona Creek bike path from Marina Del Rey to Culver City is a breezy eight-mile ride from National Boulevard to the ocean, with no cars and interesting sights along the way.  It is considered by some bikers to be one of the nicest around, but many solo cyclists steer clear of it because it can feel isolated and unsafe unless you are riding in a group.

 

For more information, check out www.labikepaths.com or www.laparks.org.  

 

Trailing along

 

For kids aged 4-9, a fun option is a ride-on trailer, such as the Wee-Ride Co-Pilot ($69.99, http://www.weeride.com).  These trailers hitch onto the adult bike, similar to a tandem bike.  The child can pedal and help propel the bike, or coast, but the adult rider in front steers and controls braking.  The WeeRide CoPilot is one of the best trailers in this class thanks to its patent-pending the Sync Link pivot that allows for easy maneuvering.  It also easily detaches and folds for compact storage.  

The CoPilot lets parents take control of steering but little ones can contribute pedal power.

Other options are pull-behind trailers, such as the Burley d’lite ST ($599.99, REI, bicycletrailers.com), which can accommodate two tiny tots, totaling up to 100 pounds, who can nap or play with toys in the enclosed coach; center-mount carriers, such as the WeeRide Kangaroo LTD ($59.99, Toys R Us), in which babies and toddlers under 35-40 pounds can ride out in front behind the handle bars; and child seats that affix to the back of a bike, such as the Topeak BabySeat ($179, Spokes ‘n Stuff), which offer a comfortable and secure ride for children up to 40 pounds.

An outfront carrier lets kids enjoy a front row seat but can interfere with steering and stopping; while limo carriers behind the adult rider offer a back seat for junior passengers and take some getting used to in order to balance and break the bike.