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Shopping: Toy steers kids in a fun direction

Baby, you can drive this car (steering wheel) from Target.
Baby, you can drive this car (steering wheel) from Target.

I have fallen for a toy company. I want to be a kid again and play with all the fun stuff from B. Toys.

I was passing an end-cap at Target in Shiloh on Tuesday when I had to back up. There was this totally cool red steering wheel for kids called You Turns. This toy has it all: fun, practicality and eco-friendly packaging.

The wheel has a cushy backside that lets it rest in a little lap easily. On the long haul, flip the wheel over and it doubles as a pillow. That’s the practical part.

Then little ones, ages 1 to 5, can drive: Engine and horn sounds. Shift through forward, neutral and reverse. LED blinkers let everyone know where the driver is headed. Push the music button for a variety of driving songs. The screen on the wheel shows a car moving down the road and even lights up for “night driving.” Cost: $19.99. Go to mybtoys.com for the company’s story and to see their products. Many are sold at Target.

Added benefit: A portion of sales from all B. Toys goes to Free The Children, where 65 percent of that nonprofit’s funding comes from young people holding bake sales, walkathons, garage sales and coin drives. Since its beginnings by a 12-year-old in 1995, Free The Children has built more than 650 schools in communities around the world.

Next door at World Market, I didn’t have to hunt far to find wire-sculpted figurines of rhino, bok and elephant heads to hang on a wall for $39.99. A full figure of a horse (for floor, shelf or table) is $49.99.

Down the road at Menard’s in O’Fallon: I never know what I’ll find in this big store. This was a trip back in time to when every mom I knew served her family meals on melamine dinnerware. It was sturdy and unbreakable. My mom got her set as premiums at the grocery store. Today, you can pick up pieces in bold colors and in either round or rectangular shapes. They’re $1.49 each for bowl, lunch or dinner plate. These modern-day versions are bamboo melamine, dishwasher-safe. Great for feeding the kids, packing in the RV or a first apartment at college.

It’s getting to be that time of year: I noticed that Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy stores are offering flu shots. Most are free with insurance and Medicare Plan B.

You know those outdoor lights you have strung year-round on your deck? Or, the holiday lights you put up each year? When you plug a bunch of them together, those power cord connectors are not weatherproof. Some people use duct tape to insulate them from rain and snow, but a new product called Twist and Seal makes a more lot of sense and is reusable. They are green plastic pods that encapsulate the connectors, seal shut and make them waterproof and shockproof. Use them indoors or outdoors. A set of three is about $15. Twist and Seal says they are available at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace and other retailers. I found them online with a quick free delivery at Home Depot, but nothing at Lowe’s or Ace yet.

Sears has a sale that ends Saturday you might want to take advantage of if you need to get your garage in order. You can buy a $249 Gladiator wall “gearbox” for $99.99. It’s a wall-mounted, steel lockable cabinet/storage unit that is attractive looking (in an industrial way) and ideal for storing dangerous tools — or anything else you want out of the way. It can hold up to 200 pounds and has adjustable shelves. Sears Hardware in Belleville has them in stock.

Yum. In Shiloh, Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate’s new fall treats include Pumpkin Pie Truffles and Pumpkin Pie Caramels (8-piece box, $9.95), Pumpkin Pie Bark ($13.95, 8 ounces) and Caramel Apple Truffles (3 large, boxed, $10.95)).

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