Month: November 2009

When a holiday card is much more than just a holiday card

For the past eight holidays, I’ve sent out standard flat photo cards featuring the kids, and I usually hear a few comments about how much the kids have grown. If I should send out Minted’s new Minibook Holiday Cards, I expect my phone would soon start ringing with “how in the world did you do this?” I’d like to pretend that I have the mad design skills to create these cards myself, but the reality is that Minted’s designers will take care of the excellent grommet binding, gorgeous matte card stock and clean, festive designs. But, as if you...

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The gifts that bring the tears. In a good way.

Longtime readers of Cool Mom Picks know we’ve been huge fans of photographer-turned-jewelry designer Monica Rich Kosann of MRK Style for years now. She makes the stunning sterling and gold keepsakes that make the recipient go all weepy. Men included. So we were extra excited that they wanted to sponsor our holiday gift guide this year (yay Monica!) – and on top of that, offer up a $200 gift certificate to a Cool Mom Picks reader. (Yay Monica!) All the details about the giveaway are on our guide, but we thought we’d help you start spending that $200 by...

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…and warm woolen mittens.

I love being a mom of boys, but I envy my mom-of-girls friends one wee thing: Barrettes. Especially when I see ones as cute as the felt barettes from Redhaven. Redhaven’s no-slip barrettes are handmade of 100% wool felt; each set of three includes two hearts and a mitten and is available in one of five shades. I love these barrettes because they’re super sweet but not overly frilly; the felt designs are funky and fun. They’re perfect for the holidays, but unlike Christmas tree or Santa designs, your little one can wear these all winter long.  –SusanYou can...

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Automoblox Minis deliver big fun

Automoblox have taken over more than a few toy chests in the last few years, and it’s not surprising – these modular, creativity-inspiring toys cars and trucks inspire imaginations, while still delivering the joy of vrooming a car around the living room floor and terrifying the pets. We like them so much, we even featured them in our 2008 Safer Toy Guide. But excellent design and heirloom quality construction don’t come cheap. Each car runs around $36, while the limited edition Automoblox like the T9-SE can cost as much as $45. So the company did the smart thing and...

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The little red wagon gets a makeover

When we made the move to suburbia, one of the first purchases we made was a wagon. But like most people, we were limited to what we could find at our local chain store, which was definitely about functionality and not at all about sleek modern design. Lucky for you, we’ve found an amazing alternative from the mom and dad team behind Kaiku Design. Dad and designer Scot Herbst, along with his wife (and past CMP reviewee) Amy took their love and talent for modern design and created a simply stunning wagon. Made from Baltic birch and covered with...

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20 of Pixar’s greatest animated shorts in one night – No wonder they call it a special

Well kids, gather round and let me tell you about an animated short film about a desk lamp, that came out in 1986. Sound boring? No way. It was the first glimpse of what the future of CGI would look like, created by a (then) little-known company called Pixar. You may have heard of them. Without exaggeration, Pixar revolutionized the world of animated children’s movies and made some pretty hilarious other short films before they went on to bring us Toy Story and Wall-E. As part of ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas mega-event they will be airing a...

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Gourmet chocolates for vegans and omnivores alike

I’ve bought enough chocolate for my milk-allergic daughter to know that milk isn’t a necessary ingredient for super-delicious chocolate, especially when it’s the extra-good-for-you darker varieties. And while Divvies is my first choice for safe, dairy-free kid-friendly chocolates, I’m going with TerraSource Gourmet vegan filled chocolates for those grown-up vegans and milk-allergics on my list, as well as those who just want to support growers of local, organic and fair trade ingredients. And, with the majority of the flavors gluten-free too, I’ve even got those folks covered. I’ll admit that I was a little skeptical about some of the...

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Gift tags that come back as wildflowers

Indeed the whole eco-friendly gift tag embedded with wildflower seed thing isn’t brand new, but I like it anyway. I like that it makes the giver feel as good as the getter. And in time for the holidays, I especially like the Plantable Ornament Gift Tags shaped like trees, ornaments, or less denominational white doves or snowflakes. They come from the shop Bloomin’ which seems to have a lock on all those seeded paper products including gift bags and plain seed paper sheets in case you want to get crafty and make your own eco-fabulous holiday cards and tags....

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Aden & Anais Burpy bibs – It’s a bib! It’s a burp cloth! It’s both!

Ever since I was introduced to the Aden & Anais muslin swaddlers, I’ve anxiously awaited (and subsequently been blown away by) their new products, most recently the baby sleep sacks. So I’m not surprised that I was instantly smitten with their new genius Burpy bibs. Crafted from their signature muslin in a slew of cool, exclusive patterns, these burp cloths are thick and soft which is a must for drooly, spitty baby faces, but even better, the cloths are shaped to fit easily on your shoulder. That means they’ll actually catch the drool and spit instead of your shirt. But if...

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Natura paints, hold the VOC’s

When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I spent a lot of time thinking about the nursery color, but spent exactly no time actually painting the room since the VOC’s in most room paints are considered a no-no for pregnant women. My asthma didn’t like it much either. Even now that pregnancy is but a distant memory, whenever my husband starts to paint another room in our 80’s wallpapered colonial, I pull the kids out for the day to avoid the stink. No more. Benjamin Moore’s Natura paints are virtually odor-free and emit no VOC (or volatine organic compounds),...

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The best travel friendly diaper bag? – Reader Q&A

Do you have a recommendation for a favorite diaper bag for plane travel with two young kids? -PII used to travel alone with both my kids quite often, and even do it now that I have three (eep!). Personally, I’m all for bags that are easy to clean, lightweight (so no leather), and have lots of compartments when I travel, which is not usually the case for the bags I carry every day.  I love Skip-hop diaper bags for travel, both the Duo and the Dash which is a bit wider. The canvas is easy to clean and they’ve got lots of pockets for easy access to extra...

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Shoelace chic

Tween girls are often the hardest to shop for at the holidays – everything they covet seems to be a fortune (iPod Touch, I’m talking to you) and most of the inexpensive gifts are hopelessly disposable. But I think I just found a home run with the affordable Japanese fabric shoelaces at Spoon sisters. Okay, to get technical they’re actually Japanese fabric inspired, but so what. The cool kimono patterns will make any pair of shoes stand out, at a time when girls are looking to figure out their own personal style and make their mark. And they sure...

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It’s a blanket! It’s a pillow! It’s a Balob!

My son, the one who is afraid there may be a monster under his bed, is totally willing to curl up with a Balob, Joop or even a Doot as he heads off to dreamland. Who can blame him: Muddy Cloud’s adorable cast of characters, which we’ve loved on their childrens hats and gloves and their finger puppets, are much more cuddly than monstrous. And now they’ve been transformed into a line of limited-edition Pillow Blankets in time for the cold winter. These soft, squishy, sizable pillows measure 16″ square, a great size to bring on long car rides...

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Princess Katie represents for feisty royalty everywhere

For my niece’s first Christmas, I got her a big collection of DVDs from great kindie rock artists, hoping it would help keep her away from all that awful kids’ music as she got older. But I never really think to check our favorite musicians’ websites for holiday gift ideas. And then I did. And now I’m glad. Because the Princess Katie and Racer Steve shop is pretty cool. There are holiday gift packs for fans of the band’s bouncy kids music, but what I really like are the Feisty Princess t-shirts which I know quite a few girls...

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Christmas cookie decorating, hold the artificial colors

Well, it’s officially Christmas cookie baking season. And while I now know to look out for things like peanuts and eggs, I was surprised to learn recently just how many kids have sensitivities to artificial colors and food dyes. Then I thought of India Tree, a company we discovered last year that makes utterly gorgeous decorative sugars, sprinkles, and other fancy things all using natural vegetable colors, The natural colors are all spectacular – vibrant and bold. And this year they’ve got a new item, a peppermint crunch that gets its color from beets. (And no, it doesn’t taste...

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Happy Naked Polka Day. Or, you know, Christmas.

One of the challenges to sending out holiday cards is that I either end up buying a bunch of Christmas, a bunch of Hanukkah and some horribly generic “Holiday” cards. Not only does it get expensive, but I end up with a bunch of leftovers that I stick somewhere for safe keeping only to forget them the following year. The Holiday Checklist cards from CMP fave Paper Culture are the perfect solution to my holiday card quandary. Order these chic, simple, stylish cards to wish those you love precisely what you want to wish them. Just check the phrases...

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Plates to support the hungry and the art-starved

While we’re busy here trying to support artists with our holiday picks, we love that the artists are trying to support others too. Case in point: The Ferrin Gallery Paper or Pottery not Plastic exhibition. This Berkshire-area gallery called on dozens of artists to design plates using all sorts of media (except plastic of course). But if you can’t make it up to Pittsfield, MA to catch them in person, you can buy them online at Ferren Gallery with a portion of the sales all going to provide dinners for local people in need. The paper plates are all...

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Black Friday deals – Big discounts and sales from smaller, cooler shops

If you’re smart enough to spend today online instead of in line, we’re devoting this week’s link roundup to  some of our indie favorites who are offering some great deals to help you procure coolness for less. For more deals, follow Cool Mom Picks on Twitter, or join the Cool Mom Picks Facebook fan page where we’ll be updating with deals all day as we spot them! Crystalyn Kae – Pleated clutches now $50 (regularly $75, left) from one of our favorite handbag designers.Chronicle Books – Their Friend and Family holiday sale saves you 35% off all Chronicle books...

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Adoption t-shirts that say just the right thing

With the end of November just around the corner, we had to sneak in one more adoption gift in honor of National Adoption Month – this time the incredibly sweet I was born in my mama’s heart shirt from friend to Cool Mom Picks, mom-owned Baby Brewing. While Baby Brewing is generally known for shirts printed with clever, sometimes snarky sayings for moms and kids, we were instantly smitten with this particular shirt’s lovely sentiment. And it doesn’t hurt that 100% of the purchase from this shirt is donated to help feed hungry children in Haiti. That’s 100% awesome.  -Kristen Find this adorable...

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How the Grinch Monopolized my Blu-ray Player

When I found out that How the Grinch Stole Christmas, one of my all time faaaaavorite Christmas movies was out on Blu-ray I couldn’t wait to see it in glorious high def. Especially now that we’re officially into Christmas season. As it turns out, the Blu-ray isn’t exactly the reason to get it. Not that I expected a Pixar film–I mean heck, the animation more than 40 years old–but the color transfer leaves something to be desired. Still, my kids don’t seem to care much. They adore the story and the singing and the dog with the antlers and...

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