I love to go saling! And by saling, I mean soaring on a blissful feeling I get when I find exactly what I need for a bargain basement price.sale sign

Don’t be mistaken: I take saling seriously. Scoping out a worthwhile markdown is a talent. It takes persistence, experience, good judgement, timing, and a certain degree of restraint.

If saling were a measurable virtue, I’d be considered an admirable woman.

After years of honing this skill, I’m gotten good at it. Really good! If only I could apply my saling skill to something worthwhile… say, bringing clean water to millions of in-need children around the world, I’d be a great success. I’d die a peaceful woman and a hero.

Of course, my saling skill isn’t good for much of anything. (I haven’t figured out how to use it to help kids access clean water, but I’m working on it.)

Truth be told, aside from a couple bucks I’ve managed to save here and there, nothing worthwhile has ever come from my saling talent… except that it’s how I came to pluck this thingy, called a TinyDiner, from the markdown bin at my local baby superstore.

Summer Infant TinyDiner

TinyDiner, all rolled up and ready to go

That was a good and lucky thing. You see, this rubbery, fruit roll-up looking device helped me reclaim a part of my social life that’d gotten lost with motherhood: eating out.

Now, you know your saling is really on point when you pick up something for a giant discount for which you’d otherwise be willing to drop major coin… and that’s what this little rubber mat has become to me. Seriously.

At the time that I came across it, I had less than a vague notion of what it was, nevermind the gobs of stress and mess it’d spare me. (Isla was only a couple months old and still nursing, so the days when we’d be taking her out to ‘dine’ seemed about as far off as the day she’d leave for college.)

Yet, I tossed it into my cart because 1) it was on sale, and 2) it was made by Summer Infant, a baby brand that I love for practical items (like an easy-to-store bath pillow, sleep sacks, and fool-proof swaddle blankets). (There were a couple other elements that went into the complicated logarithm that help me determine whether this was a worthwhile sale, but I’m not going to get into all that right now.)

I had completely forgotten about my purchase until I came across in tucked in the back of a shelf in our closet a few months later and thought,

Oh, yeah. This TinyDiner thingy!

I tossed it into the diaper bag ‘just-in-case’ it might be of help. And guess what? It has stayed there—a precious staple of meals ‘out’—ever since.

When we’re at a restaurant, I simply clear anything breakable out of Isla’s arms’ reach, and then suction this rubber mat down to the table. Viola! It’s an instant clean place to put bits of finger-sized foods for Isla to feed on while we eat.

baby eating on tindydiner dinner mat

Isla, getting it done at The Harlem Tavern

In addition to being a clean, unbreakable ‘plate’ to place food, it also has little rubber lip that catches a surprisingly large portion of what misses getting into Isla’s mouth. (And let me just take this moment to apologize to all parents of past whom I thought disgraceful for leaving a floor full of foodstuff under the table after a meal out. ‘Twas not fair of me to judge!) When we’re done, I clean it with a baby wipe, roll it back up and stick it in the dishwasher once we’re home. Very easy!

baby eating tinydiner mat

Isla, enjoying a girls’ night out with me in Lake Placid


Back to saling and clean water…writing this post got me thinking about how I can put my skills to good use. I just donated the $$ I saved on my TinyDiner (the $$ I saved and then some, since it cost a measly $10) to Food & Water Watch, an organization that, among many other important things, is working with the U.N. to fight for human rights to clean water.

baby water bottle

H2O, fresh from the faucet

With an estimated 1.7 billion people are without access to clean water and 2.3 billion getting sick from water borne diseases each year, I’m feeling seriously lucky to have clean and safe this at my finger tips for baby and I whenever needed. Hopefully, FWW‘s efforts will help increase the number of other children who have access to it, too!