Get Ready for Back to School with Giant Eagle #ad #BackToSchoolSimple

Get Ready for Back to School with Giant Eagle

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BackToSchoolSimple #CollectiveBias

We are in full back to school mode at my house, the kids have about three weeks left of summer vacation then it’s back to school for the new school term.  Some of my friends already sent their kids back to school for the new year already so I started thinking of all the things I need to get done so we are ready for a new school year.

Back to school

When I think about back to school, aside from school supplies and clothes, the next big thing is the food.  We need to find quick options for breakfast, lunches, and an after school snack.  My kids try to skip out on breakfast so I wanted to make sure I planned for something easy that they can quickly enjoy or take on the go.  Lunches are the easiest because they always give me great ideas for lunch, but after school snacks are always a big deal.

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My husband and I grabbed the kids and headed on a road trip to Giant Eagle since they the perfect place to grab all your back to school essentials for breakfast, lunches, and the after school snacks.  It’s convenient and serve as a one stop shop for all school no matter how young or old.

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While shopping at the store I noticed that Giant Eagle String Cheese was on sale.  The wheels started turning in my head and I knew it would make a perfect snack for school in so many ways.  That’s when I decided to make some Baked Cheese Sticks for an after school snack.

Baked cheese sticks

The best thing about this easy to make snack is that you can get the kids involved.  It only takes about ten minutes to get on the table if you make ahead.  You can also make them in bulk and freeze them for a few weeks so you always have them in stock.

This was so easy to make and most of the ingredients you may already have at home.  I used bread crumbs in mines but you can use Panko style crumbs as well.  I used the seasoned one but you can season the crumbs yourself.

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Getting started the first thing you need to so it remove all the string cheese from the packets.  These were individually wrapped so it took a few minutes for us to unwrap them.  I had the kids help me with all the steps so it was a fun activity for us to do together.

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The next step is cutting the sticks in half so you get the most out of he cheese sticks.  If you want smaller bits you can cut them in thirds or even quarters or smaller.

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Set up your stations so it easy when you’re assembling all the baked cheese sticks.  I assigned stations to each of my older children so it made it super easy and no fussing about who would do what.

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Start by rolling the cheese pieces in some flour.  Be sure to knock off the excess flour off the cheese sticks.

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Next roll in the egg wash mixture.  This will really get the bread crumbs to stick to the sticks.  Make sure you get a good coating of the egg mixture on all your sticks.

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Roll in the bread crumbs.  I purchased a can of Market District Italian Bread Crumbs from Giant Eagle.  It was already seasoned and perfect for this snack.

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Once all the sticks have been rolled in bread crumbs freeze the sticks for at least thirty minutes in the freezer.  This helps slow the melting process when baking.  I recommend freezing them for longer if possible.  Make extras to add the lunch the next day or save them for another day.  They should last a few weeks in a tightly sealed container in the freezer.

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Bake in the over for eight minutes and serve with your favorite marina sauce.  It’s the perfect after school snack for the kids.

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I also thought about getting a drink for the kids and we decided to make a quick Green Goddess Berry Smoothie.

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I’ve had a Vitamix blender for a while.  I finally took it off the shelf and put it to good use.  We used the Bolthouse Farms juice as the starting base.  We found a big bag of frozen blueberries that would be perfect for smoothies, baking and more, so I figured it was a great investment.

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The smoothies were so easy.  All you need is a cup of juice, a cup of the frozen blueberries, a quarter cup of plain yogurt, and a little honey to sweeten the smoothie.  Double the ingredients if you’re making it for more people.  Doubled I was able to make smoothies for four people.

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Bolthouse Farms juices were on sale this week, buy one get one free.  They are great for making smoothies that can be a grab and go breakfast option for kids.  You can add so many things to smoothies, including vitamins, fiber, and even veggies.  I picked up a few bottles to make smoothies and also for baking muffins.


Giant Eagle was filled with tons of back to school essentials for the upcoming school year.  I found some great goodies for the kids.

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I got items I know my kids would really like.  My son loves Peanut Butter and Jelly, they all love cookies and Goldfish Crackers, and juice packs are a must.

Add some fun to your sandwiches by using a cookie cutter to cut out the sandwiches and make a fun lunch treat.  Save the scrap for yourself or see if your child wants to keep them for after school.

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I used my cheese sticks two ways by also including them in lunch boxes.  It’s a great snack for cheese lovers like my kids.  The Goldfish crackers I picked up were baked with whole grains making them a choice I can stand behind.

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The juice packs I picked from Capri Sun includes fiber, fruit and more goodies.  I also pack two snacks since my kids have recess twice plus lunch.

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Be sure to visit your local Giant Eagle for all your back to school needs for breakfast, lunch, and after school snacks.  Look for their special sales and offers to save when shopping. After you’ve finished your shopping try the Baked Cheese Sticks recipe with your kids for a fun and tasty snack.

[gmc_recipe 24358]

Be Ready for Cold & Flu Season with Boogie Wipes

Be Ready for Cold & Flu Season with Boogie Wipes

Back to School for me also means that I have to worry about fall colds.  Its actually the one thing I hate the most about school.  Since my oldest started pre-school we’ve had to worry each school year about a cold being spread between the kids.  This year we plan to be ready for cold & flue season with Boogie Wipes.  I was provided Boogie Wipes samples for review.  Any opinions expressed are my own.


It seems that every year it never fails. One of the kids head to school and they pick up someone’s germs, then before you know it I have a house filled with sick kids that just can’t seem to shake the cold all winter long.  I really dread one of them getting a cold because it just seems never-ending when it does happen.  I’ve tried all kinds of different methods to make sure they are protected from cold and flu germs but it seems that nothing much seems to work.  This year we are ready with our stash of Boogie Wipes Products.  We received an assortment of products to helps us be prepared for what ever comes our way this year.  The newest being the Boogie Mist.  It’s a gentle saline mist for stuffy noses.


I like saline spray for when the kids have a stuff nose.  It usually helps then clear their nasal passage and they start to feel better almost instantly.  As much as I like the saline spray as an adult I don’t like the drip when it gets in the back of your throat, so I know the kids don’t care for it either.  It’s usually a fight to get some of the mist in their nostrils but with the special design of the Boogie Mist, the process is much easier and the kids don’t seem to mind when I use it.  In addition to our Boggie Mist we also have Boogie Wipes for the kids bag packs.  Now they can carry a small package for protection all day while at school.  I just remind them, if they start to cough or sneeze to use the wipes to clean their hands, to make sure they are getting rid of all germs.  These products are great for kids of all ages and perfect for on the go.  We not only keep them in the house but in bag packs, the car and they always go with us when we are traveling.  Boogie Wipes are a must have for back to school and year round.

Did you know that one in four children pick their noses at least once a day.  Even more alarming one in five children pick their noses at least five times a day.  All that picking leads to spreading a lot of germs.  The folks at Boogie Wipes wanted to share some helpful tips to help you with booger picking.  If you’re a parent and you have a child that picks their nose, here’s some suggestions from Boogie Wipes:


It seems that every time you turn around in the car, your little one has their finger so far up their nose you are afraid it might get stuck. No matter how many times you tell them no they just continue and continue to dig for gold. You must stop this booger picking madness! 

Hold a Booger Picking Intervention- Gather all the members of your family and calmly explain to your little one that booger picking is not an appetizing thing to witness. Explain to them that although many kids do it, it is not a good habit to have.

Break the Cycle- Chances are if your little one is digging for gold than they are developing a bad habit. Break the cycle! Begin a new habit by waking up and adding nose blowing to their morning hygiene schedule. A fun way to get them excited is by buying fun products. Boogie Wipes are great wipes to use on little ones; they have fun smells like grape and are super gentle saline wipes.

Keep Their Hands Busy- Breaking a habit takes time and distractions. If your child picks their nose while riding in the car, begin by introducing new tasks they can do to distract them from digging for gold. Hand your child a tissue every time you see her put her finger in her nose. Chances are she’ll get so frustrated with having to wipe her nose every time you catch her picking she’ll turn to the tissues more often instead.

Check that thing out- Take a look at their nose, if it is red and itchy no wonder they run for the hills at the site of a tissue. Invest in some nasal TLC products that will get their little honker up and running. Run a humidifier in your home or in your child’s bedroom. If your child’s nose itches, he might be picking it at to relieve the itching. A humidifier increases the moisture in the air, which can help with the dryness in his nose.

If All Else Fails- Take charge and keep your kid’s nose clean. Use a suction bulb, tissue or cotton swab to remove boogers and crust. When nothing’s in your their nose to pick out hopefully your kid will get the hint and move on. Plus they will hate being treated like an infant and will begin to take on cleaning their own noses.

Teachers and parents be sure to check out the Save The Sleeve page for lots of great information and activities to help children heading to school with learning how to prevent the spread of germs.  Also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with all their current promotions and contests.

Office Depot Foundation Help Children Start School Year Right

Office Depot Foundation Help Children Start School Year Right


This year marks the 14th year of its award-winning National Backpack Program.  This year the Office Depot Foundation is donating 350,000 school sackpacks in seven brand new, colorful designs this year to help children around the world succeed in school.

2014 Office Depot Foundation Sackpacks - web resolution

Office Depot and the Office Depot Foundation will have donated more than 3.3 million backpacks and sackpacks to deserving children by the end of this year.  The sackpacks, which have been completely reimagined for 2014, feature seven kid-friendly designs – two for boys, two for girls and three that are unisex.  Each sackpack holds a zippered pouch containing essential school supplies – a pen, a pencil, four crayons, a pencil sharpener, an eraser and a 6-inch ruler.

The sackpacks are designed in a stylish way that kids can carry it around and not worry about it having any Office Depot or Office Depot Foundation branding or logos.  Which I think is great because it leaves one less thing for the children to worry about when they are going to school or just hanging with friends.

CMB Visions Unlimited Donation

The specially designed sackpacks are manufactured exclusively for the Foundation.  Highly contemporary in their design, they reflect and respond to changes in the ways that children are taking their materials to school.  Made from the same sturdy material as backpacks, they are water-resistant and lined to provide extra protection for their contents.  They feature strong ropes and have no metal parts.  I received two of the sackpacks and they are very strong and durable.  Each sack is able to hold the basic pocket folder, a composition notebook and a few school supplies, which is exactly what my young kids use each day for school.  We donated our sacks to my kid’s school at Back to School night.  They will go home with children who need them for the school year.  The sackpacks are intended primarily for use by students in grades K-5, they are also suitable for older children, who use them in a variety of ways.  The sackpack is compact and stores flat, yet still offers plenty of room for books and other school items.

The sackpacks are being donated throughout the summer as the Foundation carries out the 14th year of its National Backpack Program.  Every Office Depot and OfficeMax store in the United States has received approximately 50 sackpacks to give to nonprofit organizations and schools in their communities.  In addition, sackpacks are being donated through more than 35 Back-to-School Celebration events in key Office Depot markets during the summer, as well as in collaboration with nine national nonprofits serving children in the U.S. and around the world:

  • AARP Experience Corps
  • Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)
  • National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association
  • Feed The Children
  • Food For The Poor
  • Kids In Need Foundation
  • National Foundation for Women Legislators
  • Operation Homefront
  • Samaritan’s Feet International

If you are in need of school supplies for your children be sure to check out the foundation’s website to find distribution locations near you.

About the Office Depot Foundation

The Office Depot Foundation is an independent foundation − tax exempt under IRC Sec. 501(c)(3) − that serves as the independent charitable giving arm of Office Depot, Inc. In keeping with its mission, Listen Learn Care®, the Foundation supports a variety of programs that give children tools to succeed in school and in life; build the capacity of non-profit organizations through collaboration and innovation; and help communities prepare for disasters, as well as recovering and rebuilding afterwards.  For more information, visit

Connect with the Office Depot Foundation:


Twitter: @OfficeDepotFndn· Hashtag: #ODFcares

One Stop Back to School Shopping at Dollar General

One Stop Back to School Shopping at Dollar General

School starts in just about a week and we’ve been shopping for our school supplies from several different stores based on the sales each store is offering.  We had the opportunity to visit Dollar General and purchase some school supplies.  I was provided a gift card in exchange for this post.

With four kids I am always looking for a way to save money where I can.  Now that we have three kids in school the school supply list adds up.  I headed out to Dollar General with my son and my daughter to find supplies for school.  Armed with a $20 gift card my goal was to purchase as much school supplies as possible.  Once we got to the store there was a whole section just for school supplies.  They were running regular store sales and back to school promotions.  One of the first things we stocked up on was glue.  We use lots of glue and they were only a quarter a bottle so we got quite a few for the kids and to drop off at school as well.  Crayons were also on sale, we were able to get the iMagine crayons for 33 cents a pack and the Crayola crayons were only 50 cents a package.


When my son saw the Teenage Ninja Turtles Lunch Box he was super excited.  I was surprised by the price tag.  The lunch box was only $5, a bargain compared to other stores.  It’s the perfect size to hold all he needs for lunch and snack time.  He’s going to enjoy using his lunch box.  They also had a huge selection of bag packs to choose from with favorites like Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Cars and more.

With our $20 gift card we were able to purchase a new lunch box for my son, 10 packs of crayons, 8 bottles of glue, 2 composition notebooks, 3 pocket folders, some pencils and we also grab a few snacks for the kids.  Dollar General also offers lots of snack options for lunch boxes, from fruit snacks, cheese crackers, raisins and juice boxes.  This is truly a one stop shop, where you can get all your needs in one place.  If you’re still shopping for school supplies then be sure to head out to Dollar General and see what they have to offer.  Before shopping check the Dollar General website for coupons.

Chiquita Bites Review and Giveaway

Chiquita Bites Review and Giveaway

My kid’s school become quite strict in regards to classroom celebrations.  They’ve cut down to list so much that it’s pretty bare bones.  We’re getting ready to head back to school in three weeks and I have been looking for great snack options as well as options for when we have to bring snacks for class celebrations.  We recently received a sample package from Chiquita Bites to review and share our thoughts.  Any opinions expressed are my own.


My kids loves apples.  Whenever we are heading to the store they always ask for apples.  It’s the one fruit that they all eat and when we buy it I don’t have to worry about it going to waste.  These Chiquita Bites are so convenient.  They offer various options for snacking.  They have the Green Apple Bites and Red Apple Bites in family packs.  They have the Red Apple Bites with caramel sauce in individual packs.  Perfect for lunch boxes.  There’s the Red Apple and Grapes Bites and the new Peeled Apple Bites in individual packs.  All great choices for snacking at home, at school, on the go and perfect for all classroom celebrations.

The little individual packs were the first to disappear from our fridge because the kids could just get a pack when they want a snack.  It’s a good snack portion that they won’t waste and it’s enough to get them through for a few hours.  The family packs are great for parties, class celebrations, and when you’re feeding a few kids.  The apples are perfectly sliced saving you time.  Chiquita Bites also has some cute snack options for parents to help make snacking fun.  Like this Apple Cars recipe.

apple cars

Fun snack ideas like making Apple Cars is a great way to not only enjoy a good snack but enjoy some quality time with your children.  It’s a great way to get their creativity flowing.  Have a snack off, where each family member uses their apples and a few other items to make a fun snack.  Parent’s don’t worry about feeling like Chiquita Bites is only for kids.  Here’s another great snack recipe for the adults.  This would be great for dinner parties.

dark apple

To get you ready for back to school Chiquita Bites has some Back To School Tips they want to share with you.  You can read all those tips below:

Tips for Getting Back to School

  1. Reintroduce a school year bedtime now to help make mornings easier when school starts again. Each night have your kids go to bed 15 minutes earlier until you’ve reached their school year bedtime.
  2. Promote healthy snacking by keeping pre-portioned snacks easily accessible for your little one – keep fruits, veggies and lunch meat in snack portion baggies on a low shelf in the fridge.
  3. Get organized for the school year by clearing out a small space to dedicate to backpacks, jackets and other school gear.
  4. Cookie cutters are a simple way to spice up lunch or snack time!
  5. Prepare your kids for the mental demands of the school year by incorporating “pop quizzes” throughout the day. Have them spell “banana” as they eat their snack!
  6. Toothpicks make perfect bite-size skewers – they’re easy to eat and your kids will love them! Stack various fruits, cheeses and veggies for a convenient, fun lunch.
  7. Beat homework blues by designating a special area for homework, make sure it’s quite and stocked with all the supplies your little students may need.
  8. Take a minute to surprise your son or daughter with a fun note in their lunch. They’re great for lunches, salads, recipes and sharing!

Do you have a great back to school tip that’s not on the list?  Right how Chiquita Snacking is holding a contest on their Facebook page.  You comment with a back to school tip and you could win $1,000 shopping spree and a year’s worth of Chiquita Bites.  Click here for official rules.

About Chiquita Bites:

Chiquita Bites are available in convenient sizes, including single-serve bags, multipacks and family packs. They’re great for lunches, salads, recipes and sharing!

  • Washed and ready to eat
  • 30-80 calories per serving
  • A half-cup of fruit or vegetables per serving
  • A great source of nutrition

thirty one

Thanks to the generosity of the Chiquita Bites Brand, one lucky reader will win a Thirty One Thermal Tote*.  The tote is perfect for moms on the go.  Great for packing snacks like Chiquita Bites.  The giveaway is open to US Residents, 18 and older.  It ends August 23rd.  Enter via the tool below.  Good Luck.

Thirty One Tote Giveaway

Disclosure:  I received this product for free from the manufacturer.  I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog.  My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the manufacturer of the product.  Prize provided by Chiquita Bites.  Nicki’s Random Musings is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

*Actual tote pattern may vary


Dixon Ticonderoga Sweepstakes – Day 9

Dixon Ticonderoga Sweepstakes – Day 9

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The Dixon Ticonderoga Company sweepstakes is still going and it’s on day nine.  Just wanted to remind readers to head over to their Facebook page to enter the sweepstakes to win.  They have nine fabulous prizes up for grab today and the next three prizes are going to be even better I’m sure.  Plus if you’re a Dixon Ticonderoga fan you are going to love getting your hand on these products for free.  Check out what’s up for grabs today below:


♫♫On the ninth day of Christmas Dixon gave to me
Nine packs of Prang watercolors, eight large crayons, seven packs of markers, six smartest pencils, five gold and silver markers, four color wands, Tri-Conderoga pencils, two pounds of clay, and a two-foot pencil for free. ♫♫

Product Description:

One lucky winner will receive one (1) two-foot Ticonderoga No. 2 pencil replica, two (2) packs of DAS air-hardening modeling clay, three (3) packs of Tri-Conderoga pencils, four (4) packs of Prang Color Wands, five (5) packs of Prang Gold and Silver Metallic Markers, six (6) packs Sensematic Plus pencils, seven (7) 12 count Prang Classic Art Marker packs, eight (8) packs of Prang Large Crayons and nine (9) packs of Prang Watercolors.

* Click here to enter to WIN the 12 Days of Christmas Sweepstakes.


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Send Your Children To School With The Best From Dixon Ticonderoga

Send Your Children To School With The Best From Dixon Ticonderoga

Disclosure: I was provided a promotional sample package for review.  Any and all opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced.

As parents we only want the best for our children and that includes clothing, food, and even school supplies.  As many of use prepare to send our kids back to school – (and some of use already has sent ours off), we have or are shopping for all those supplies on your kids list.  My kids are still young so they are pretty much using the same items, meaning we have to double up on purchases.  One of those is the Ticonderoga “My First” pencil.  My daughter used it in Pre-K and Kindergarten and my son is using them again this year in Kindergarten.

I love these pencils.  The best thing is they are perfect to help younger kids with fine motor skills.  They come pre-sharpened and the four pack comes with a pencil sharpner.  They also have big erasers so if your kids chew on the erasers it should still hold up for a bit.  So when Dixon Ticonderoga contacted me about trying their water colors from the Prang line I jumped on board.   When my package arrived I was so trilled to try out all the amazing products.

Dixon Ticonderoga Products

When I opened the box my kids couldn’t wait to jump in and start playing with all the products.  As soon and I opened the box I could tell that these were great products, much better than other products we have used in the past.  Interestingly enough they didn’t just send me their products, they also send me some of their competitor’s products to test along with theirs so we could really say which we thought was the best.  That’s the sign of a confident company to me and the kids and I were ready for the challenge.

Here’s How the Products Match Up

Prang vs. Crayola

So the first match up was between the Prang markers and Crayola.  I am very familiar with Crayola because it’s what we have used for our kids so far for school.  As you can see from the picture the Prang box was bigger and it also came with two bonus markers.  The Prang markers were also longer than the Crayola markers.  They were both about the same size but the Prang markers had a much bigger tip than the Crayola markers so they didn’t start to dry out as fast as the Crayola.  The brightness of the colors were about the same and they both were broad tips.  Overall they were about the same except for a few areas.  I would give a slight edge to the Prang markers.

The water colors were next.  We got to try the Prang Watercolors along with the Crayola water colors.  As you can clearly see from the cases the Prang water colors are in a much more durable case.  Within thirty minutes of playing and two drops the Crayola case was cracked.  After a few days it was broken up in pieces.  We had this problem last year with my daughter’s water colors set for class.  The case broke in her bag pack and the paint cracked and dried after she used it a few times.  The Prang case was much stronger and much more durable.  It’s actually what we choose for the kids this year.  It was just a much better product just based on packaging alone.  Now we don’t have to buy replacements during the school year.  The Prang watercolors is the definite winner and I felt it was much better than any others we have tried in the hard plastic cases.  The brush was also very strong and durable in the set.  Dixon Ticonderoga is also offering a coupon to use so you can save on your watercolors purchase.

Ticonderoga Pencils

Next we tested the pencils.  I am so used the “My First” pencils, this was our first time using the regular pencils.  These were perfect for my daughter for first grade.  They also come sharpened and the erasers are latex free.  They were a little longer than the competitor’s pencil that I got to test.  The Ticonderoga pencils also had a much strong writing lead.  It held up to my daughters pressing down with it and didn’t break once.  The other pencils needed to be sharpened constantly and it broke easily.  My daughter also bit on her pencils constantly and the competitor’s pencils didn’t do well with her biting on them.  The Ticonderoga’s pencils were stronger and the wood held up better to her biting on it as well as the erasers.  Ticonderoga was the clear winner and best choice.  It’s what in her pencil case at school and home and we will continue to use them always.

Colored pencils

The last product we tested were colored pencils.  Another must have for school supplies list for us since our kids have started school so I have lots of experience with using the buying colored pencils.  I hadn’t tried the Prang brand pencils before so I was very excited to give them a try.  These were the large triangular pencils.  They were much fatter than the CraZArt pencils.  The Prang pencils also came with a bonus sharpener in the box as well.  Prang does offer the slimmer pencils as well.  The CrazArt pencils are what we are used to using so I already know the points break easily, they sometimes doesn’t color or write well, and they constantly need sharpening.  Our biggest problem with the slimmer pencils is when the tips don’t color well and just have odd streaks.  The Prang tips were very strong and durable.  They were broad tips so colors was a breeze.  My daughter like that she could color more in less time since the tips were broader.  The Prang colored pencils were definitely better than the other ones.

Overall the Prang/Ticonderoga products were better, more durable and held up much better and longer.  We’ll be sending our kids to school with the best from Dixon Ticonderoga this year and other years in the future.  If you want to pick them up and give them a try you can purchase their products from Wal-Mart, Target, OfficeMax, Staples, Office Depot, Hobby Lobby, Kmart and more.  You can connect with them on their website, Facebook and Twitter.


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