Month: January 2011

Time to pull a Jamie Oliver on the plastic play food

When my kids were younger, they received a big bag of plastic play food filled with such gems as skinny hot dogs, rubbery pizza slices, flat burger patties and even a few brown chicken nuggets. Well, this grass-fed beef buying, farmers-market visiting, chicken-coop contemplating mama has had enough. It’s time to go all Jamie Oliver on their plastic play food and clean out the toy bin. I’ve found an alternative to their junky plasticky food that will make me feel way better about the pretend meals they are serving each other. I would so much prefer to see my...

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Thoroughly modern sleep sacks

Based on the color offerings of most sleep sacks out there, I’m left to believe that manufacturers think bright colors will somehow keep babies awake at night. What’s with all the pastels? Well, that’s exactly how mom Holly MacLean felt when she decided to launch the charming Wee Urban. [don’t miss a sweet giveaway and special offer after the jump!] This line of bright, modern baby sleep sacks are simply gorgeous. Made from soft organic cotton and bamboo and featuring original artwork screen printed in water based inks, they feel like your baby is wrapped up in your favorite...

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Oh the places you’ll go, looking cute

I’m a big believer in traveling with kids. It’s never too early to expose them to other cities, other cultures, other foods, and hopefully, the ability to behave on an airplane. (Oh please oh please!) I’m always looking for travel goodies that help them get excited for travel, from maps, to kids books about different cities, and even their own suitcases and travel gear. So I am just smitten with these lovely handmade passport holders. While kids don’t need their own passport covers, these from Noei kind of makes me want them. A lot. All 7 styles are handmade...

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I heart I LEGO NY

After many months of buzz, hoopla, and general fanfare, I finally got around to checking out Christoph Niemann’s I LEGO N.Y., and as a native New Yawka, I know can’t imagine what I had been waiting for. This board book is everything I love in a book–it’s artful, it’s super clever, and it works on levels that will make it a favorite of toddlers, big kids, and even their parents. Every page features a series of simple LEGO constructions–we’re talking a few pieces, max–designed to recreate Manhattan buildings, places, and tongue-in-cheek concepts. While it helps to know New York...

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A less destructible notebook. (Hear that, writer moms of toddlers?)

At the beginning of every new year, I treat myself to a pretty, new notebook. It’s an almost-literal way to start the year with a clean slate. New year, new notebook, new thoughts.  The only problem with this method, now that there are children afoot: my fancy new notebook is invariably trashed long before the next January 1. But I think I’ve found the perfect solution. Let’s judge these Robert le héros notebooks from Quo Vadis by their covers: lovely colors, beautiful designs… on silkscreened leatherette, which is sturdier than standard-issue notebook coverstock, and way harder for little hands to maul....

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Even one of the pickiest girls in the world loves these clothes

My daughter is a bit of a choosy dresser. To say the least. If I’m being perfectly honest, it takes at least half an hour to get her ready every morning and she balks–nay, tantrums for an hour–if anything she’s wearing is even slightly unacceptable. You know, like if it’s anything but that gaudy, sparkly, too-small tank top her Nana gave her. Given her pickiness, her temper, and her penchant for wearing summer clothes in the middle of a Canadian winter, you can imagine my relief when I pulled out the stunning capelet sample from Patouche and she asked...

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Toy storage solutions? Reader Q+A Part 2: Bins and Baskets

Yesterday a reader wrote to us about her toy storage woes, and we loaded her up with toy storage solution possibilities. Today we continue the organizational help with some of our favorite boxes, bins, and baskets. While I love putting things away where they can’t be seen, I’m also a fan of open-storage baskets, bins and boxes for many of our bulkier toys, and for things like blocks which need to be placed right next to where the building is happening. Even at their youngest, my kids knew which bins were for play food versus blocks. Plus, I could...

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3 kids calendars that start the year off a little wild

It’s up to me to keep my kids’ schedules straight, but they still love to count down the days until the next big event, whether that day is a Saturday, their birthday, or the next candy holiday (Valentine’s Day, for the record). Instead of giving them that freebie calendar I got from the bank, I’ve got my eye these three kid-friendly versions, each full of animal critters that would look great in their rooms every day of 2011. I love the bright colors and wild-animal silhouettes on Printable Project’s Animal Calendar (at top)—I’d frame the illustrations to hang long after the...

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A chore chart that doesn’t look like a chore.

The chore chart that has worked the best for my family so far been a (not-so-pretty) laminated list with my kids’ pictures that I made myself. But even then, I can’t really add or change jobs unless I make a whole new chart, which made them obsolete a few months ago. But now my kids are back to working hard for their money, since discovering personalized printable chore charts from one of our favorite designers Olliegraphic. . Artist Meg Bartholomy will create a cute, totally personalized chore chart based on your kiddo’s likeness; just pick the features that best...

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Toy storage solutions? Reader Q&A

We have wood crates, with toy fruit and veggies, crafts, blocks, trains, etc., but no way to store or organize them. Do you have a toy storage solution? Do you dump everything by category into bins or baskets, and shelve them that way? Thanks in advance, and while I am at it, thanks for another great year of very cool picks! -Elizabeth Oh Elizabeth, I love your question because I feel your pain: With three kids and a slight obsessive neatness streak, I am always reassessing my toy storage situation, especially after the holidays. One solution that has worked...

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This week on Cool Mom Tech

In case you were too busy playing with your new iPhone over the holidays, here are some top picks on Cool Mom Tech you might have missed this week– including old things, new things, and really expensive new things that might change the world. 1. Big news about Kindle eReaders – your books can now be loaned! 2. There’s a cool new way to use that old typewriter. It’s high-tech, it’s smart, and our own guest dad blogger totally digs it. 3. If you got a new tablet for Christmas, we’ve got some colorful iPad cases you’re going to...

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Keelhauled by cardboard

Cardboard cottages are more common than refrigerator boxes these days, and cardboard castles are no longer hard-to-find real estate. But we’ve found a new line of structures that go beyond the typical rose-covered cottage– and that boys will enjoy, too. Box Creations offers a playhouse and a castle, but more importantly, they also have a pirate ship, a space shuttle, and a carriage. Each one is made of eco-conscious recycled materials and can fit 2 – 3 kids, be they buccaneers, astronauts, or Robin Hood on a mission. The pre-printed playhouses also come with four washable markers, but you...

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Save Handmade update: C’mon, Congress. Help us out.

As you probably know by now, there’s a bill in Congress to ensure that toys and clothing are free of toxic chemicals and heavy metals. Which is good. Unfortunately, while the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act is well-meaning, the way it’s been implemented has impacted not only the major corporations accused of making faulty products, but also caused tremendous hardship for small businesses, individual crafters, consignment sales, and our beloved Etsy–folks who have been doing things right all along. Plenty of them have even gone out of business. Horrible, right? Here’s the update: The law is officially set to...

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Kids snow boots that actually work in the snow

I did this year what so many parents do, and I should know better by now: I bought the cheap kids’ snow boots for my daughter. I knew they weren’t really waterproof, but they seemed like they would suffice. Until the actual snow came. (All that snow!) So I bit the bullet and invested in kids snow boots that actually will get us through winter. That is–a New York winter. Many clicks around Zapoos and much agonizing later, I am beyond thrilled with our choice: The Timberland Kids Sugarberry Tall Boot. Yes, it’s way more than I’ve spent on...

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What could be uglier than an Uglydoll? An Uglypillow!

I love the new Uglypillows from Uglydoll. Perhaps it brings out the motherly instinct in me? A face that only a mother could love? Oh, no. I hope this isn’t a throw back to my awkward years. Do you think the Uglypillows would be the last to be picked for kickball? And nobody would ask them for a slow dance at their best friend’s Bat Mitzvah? Well each of the four new Uglypillows is uglier (or cuter) than the next. These funny little friends are perfect for a nursery or playroom chair, in a crib (when they’re past the...

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A swaddling blanket for the swaddle-impaired

I remember wrangling that swaddling blanket and trying to wrap our first newborn babe like a burrito over and over and over again. More often, we accomplished a tortilla, flat and floppy, with baby girl seriously unimpressed with her parents’ swaddling skills. Oh, if only we’d known about these buttery-soft new swaddling blankets–we might have gotten our swaddle on from the get-go. Honeydumplings–the smartypants creator of the padded baby caps and buckwheat toddler pillows that we have admired in the past–has come up with another brilliant idea: practically foolproof and organic swaddling blankets.  Each blankie–which is sized to fit a...

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13 Words to add to your child’s bookshelf

My five year-old’s current vocabulary include words like despondent, haberdashery, and Mezzo-Soprano. Not because she’s any sort of verbal genius, but because her grandmother introduced her to one of the most wonderful books for kids I’ve seen in a long time. 13 Words by Lemony Snicket is a must-have for any early reader who likes humor verging on the totally absurd. We’re talking Ionesco-level non-linear, awesome absurdity. The aforementioned 13 words include the big ones that impress the relatives, but also words like cake, bird, and spiffy. And no they’re not random (well,okay, a little random) but they’re all...

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Web coolness – printable calendars, New Year’s resolutions, and other ways to start your year off right

Here are some things we’ve liked reading around the web this week. We hope you will too. We’re in love with this calendar of the month club that let’s you download a fun, free simple calendar craft each month. For more printable calendars, Kristen rounds up 5 beautiful ones at Momformation. (And see her New Year’s resolution here. It’s a good one!) Stuck for a New Year’s resolution? Gretchen Rubin has a great suggestion. Rookie Moms has a 52 week challenge for new moms. Are you in? A great initiative to support breast cancer survivors from one of our...

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Altitude Design Summit, here we come!

I am so excited about heading to Salt Lake City in two weeks for the Altitude Design Summit, I’m already stressing about which boots to pack. (The really warm fashionable ones? Or the super waterproof Hunter boots? Or wait, what if I go skiing with Julie…does that change everything?) I’ll be speaking on a panel with the wonderful Maggie Mason of Mighty Girl and Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind, and other inspiring design folks I can’t wait to see include bloggers from CMP favorites like Swiss Miss, Dooce, Design*Sponge, Oh Happy Day, Oh Joy!, Design Mom, Boston Mamas,...

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An heirloom-worthy stacking toy

I’m one step closer to becoming a treehugger. My new toy crush is made with organic maple, cherry and walnut wood and tackles balance, problem solving, pattern recognition and fine motor skills. Oh, and it’s for babies. The Brainbow Stacking Nesting Arches (Brainbow! Love that name!) from Little Sapling Toys is the antidote to those brightly colored plastic stacking toys found at every big box toy store. It’s the toy I can imagine safely storing away after my son grows out of it to save for his kids. I love the handcrafted look and feel of it; each piece...

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