Tuesday, April 28, 2009

DIY Play kitchen - Part 1

I love Ohdeedoh and I check in daily to see what's new. If you're a reader you already know that Play kitchens are HUGE there, especially the homespun kind. Many readers have sent in gorgeous photos of play kitchens they've put together for their kiddos with results that surpass by far IMHO any run of the mill plastic big box kitchens you could purchase! I've been so inspired and have had my eyes on the lookout for any old chest/cupboard/bookshelf/scrap wood that held potential to become a custom built kitchen for my daughter. I enlisted my mom's help on this one and she was kind enough to donate an old vanity table and a stainless steel mixing bowl to the cause. Our play kitchen is still a work in progress. We're ever so patiently waiting for our handyman A.K.A DH to help get things on the road...

If you've been thinking about the idea yourself and could use a nudge in the right direction, check out Ohdeedoh's roundup of awesome DIY play kitchens.

This is our before picture, after the sink installation.

But there has been some progress; We've got the sink installed, a sink skirt and the oven knobs in place. We have a faucet in waiting, another donation from my mom, and I plan to make an apron, some dish towels, oven mitts and maybe a potholder or two to coordinate with the sink skirt. The plan is to replace the bottom two shelves on either side with a plywood door to make an oven and a fridge. I still haven't figured out what I'm going to make burners out of and it would be nice to add a shelf or two over the sink area...I'm keeping my eyes peeled...

A work in progress...

I've got tons of sewing to do, between the kitchen accessories and the felt play food to stock the kitchen with the next few months are going to be busy. I'm excited though for when everything is complete then we can invite ourselves to DD "house" for dinner, I could use a night off!
Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I'm on Ikea Hacker!

My Ikea latt table hack is on Ikea Hacker! Thanks guys! I'm so honoured check it out! Here's the original post: A table for two.

shoes off!

Growing up in the great white north of big T.O. it was common knowledge that you don't wear your outdoor shoes inside. Sludge, snow, city grime... lots and lots of ick! I even had sneakers that I left in my cubby at school to change in to as we didn't wear our boots in the classroom. Maybe I'm just weird but the first thing I do when I walk in to my house is slip off my shoes... it's a comfort thing but it's also a little about boundaries, the outside world stops at my doorstep and beyond the threshold well it's mi casa! Our friends and family know I'm weird like that and most respectfully remove their shoes without me even having to ask. I won't dwell on why I think it's rude to not even ask whether shoes remain on or off... but I understand it's probably just cultural. There's been a lot off online buzz about this subject lately and it amuses me to see how emotionally people have drawn a line between do you or don't you take your shoes off while entering your home. Some people have even dedicated entire blogs to shoes off at the door, while you're at it check out their 37 reasons to not wear shoes in your house!

While I now reside in the fantastic 9 months of Mediterranean sun climate of Israel, the culprit is different... loads and loads of sand and dust! I've mentioned before my love of soft furnishings and carpets here. Carpets for me aren't just something warm underfoot they're often my preferred seating arrangement, propped up by some pillows... our couches get very low mileage.
Once my daughter started crawling around this preference/rule kicked into overdrive I definitely didn't want her crawling around in all the dirt that gets tracked in! I consider myself a fairly neat and clean person and we sweep at least once a day and mop at least once a week usually more often as my daughter leaves a 2 metre radius of food debris around her highchair after even the smallest of snacks! indoors I wear slippers or warm socks during the winter... and during our 9 month long summers I either wear flip flops or go barefoot. My aunt is from Russia and it's the cultural norm there to remove your shoes, they used to have a basket full of cute slippers from Chinatown to offer guests, I'm seriously considering getting my own such basket.. (for all of you getting the willies about sharing slippers I promise I'd wash them after every use... I mean I wouldn't make my guest share bed linens either!)

While I definitely feel strongly about this I also don't like confrontation, it's easy to yell at say my visiting siblings, to remind them to remove their shoes but I find it more awkward to ask other guests, for that I thank dear hubby... he's an excellent foot soldier! hehe... I've gotten better at it though after a certain "poopcident" on my brand new Ikea Fakse rug! (note to self some adults will obliviously step in dog excrement and track it through your house!) I do like to give guests a heads up though and for first timers I'll mention it so they can prepare themselves accordingly.

Recent studies have backed up this idea... The Door mat study found that 98% of lead found in homes is tracked in by foot! Lead poising? not fun... just one more reason to kick off your shoes. As parents we try to do everything we can to protect our children this simple change can mean a world of difference.

I love this door mat! and really want one. It would be one less thing to worry about... buy one here. Next step? How to explain to people that the incessant buzzing on our doorbell alternatively scares the heck out of my toddler or WAKES her up and THEN scares the heck out of her!

I'm a stay at home mom but that doesn't mean I have the time or energy to be cleaning floors all day, with a toddler and an asthmatic husband at home this just makes my life a little easier...

Where do you draw the line?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Crocodile Creek

It's a known thing that kids love balls and my daughter is no exception. I don't know if there is another toy out there that can inspire such longstanding creative play and invoke such primeval emotions if perhaps ownership should become comprised. Try explaining to a 17 month old that other kids at the park are allowed to own balls and gasp! kick, roll and play with them too... but a ball is just a ball right?

Wrong!! at Crocodile Creek a ball is an opportunity to learn. Crocodile creek is a great company combining beautiful quality educational toys and accessories for kids. Their playground balls available in two sizes 5" and 7" are decorated in a wide range of themes like horses, farm animals, dinosaurs etc. Not only do the balls have Crocodile creeks instantly recognizable illustrations but they have the animals names written beneath them as well. My daughter is obsessed with Old Macdonald (she's got us singing and neighing until we're horse, pun intended!) and their playground ball with the farm animals and their corresponding sounds is just perfect! She loves pointing to the animals and shouting out their names.

I love the sturdy rubber, the cute illustrations and mainly the fact that they've taken what would ordinarily be just something to kick around to a whole new level.

Monday, April 20, 2009


On the occasion of our daughters birth we received many fantastic and thoughtful gifts. While we appreciate all of them there are some that will withstand the test of time and will forever be cherished. Gabin the zebra is that gift. Gabin the zebra is an adorable little knit character from the Grannimals wooly family collection by Latitude Enfant. The Grannimals are made to mimic the lovingly handmade toys and dolls our doting grandmothers of yesteryear would knit for us. I had such a bunny knitted for me and a knit hobo that I still cherish today and is proudly displayed in my own daughters nursery. These knit cuties are charming with a more modern flare.

Each Grannimal comes ready for gift giving wrapped in it's own display "shoe" box, it was so nice I seriously thought of leaving him in the box. I can definitely see these being collected and hoarded for years in someones closet... I still fantasize about one day owning the whole mint condition collection in their boxes myself! For now though Gabin is for cuddling, playing and whatever else my toddler decides to throw his way, so long as he makes his way back to his display spot every night!

I did mention that I love the Grannimals right? now on the back of every box is a picture of all the other adorable Grannimals available in the collection While I'm generally not a sucker for this kind of "collect them all" type of advertising I really couldn't help myself with this one and I seriously would have bought them all but reality and a budget kicked in... so just two more! It's amazing what you can get away with postpartum...

We added Mona the cow and Hugo the Hedgehog my personal fave to the mix..

Latitude enfant has several different lines of sweet cuddly puppets, toys and doudous (dolls for the anglos...) for children and babes alike. They've definitely got my two thumbs up for design and craftsmanship, I dare you to resist their charm!

Friday, April 17, 2009


Have you heard about lmnop? yeah yeah smarty pants... asides from the alphabet!

lmnop is the acronym for learn, make, nurture, organize and play a fantastic online free quarterly magazine for "hip stylish parents and their children..."

Hailing all the way from the land down under this mag compiles fab and innovative products from some of the best designers and companies around the world. Check out their most recent issue for great articles about raising children in NY, the Award winning Bilibo (already on my list!) and a great toy gift guide. All of their issues past and present are available for download on their site. Like what you see? subscribe here and never miss a new issue.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sweets for MY baby

I hate shopping! well actually that's not entirely accurate I hate grocery shopping! If it was up to me I'd never have to step foot in a grocery store ever again! But until the day when reliable, fresh home deliveries are widely available or we can afford for someone to stock our fridge and pantry for us... I'm going to have to do it myself.

*WARNING* Full Disclosure ahead! I'm quite a germ-a-phob borderline OCD and the thought of all the germs lurking on the shopping cart handlebars makes me sick to my stomach.... you bet I had no intention of letting my little one sit in one without ample protection! So as far as I'm concerned blessed be the person that invented shopping cart covers! hallelujah! amen! you've answered my prayers.

A friend tipped me on to the idea and I knew that would be my way to go. There are several well known brands that make various covers, unfortunately... well known also means, generic, made in china... don't get me started... never mind that they didn't offer full coverage... wings? anyone? and with my already flourishing lust for handmade products, Etsy was a no brainer.

Now that's were the choosing gets tough. Search shopping cart cover on Etsy and you'll get several hundred hits. I won't disclose how many hours I devoted to narrowing down the covers I thought were the most well made, coushie, functional, safe (many include seat belts) value for money and of course the best looking!

Once I stumbled on to Sweetsformybaby's shop it was gameover. Superb craftsmanship, great fabrics, reversible, plenty of coushie padding, pocket and coordinating pillow, in case babes falls asleep... toy loop, adjustable seat belt, cart securing clip, generously proportioned, These covers have got it all!

I chose this green floral swirl/brown floral combo once again with gender neutrality in mind, plus I find the combination really pleasing to the eye.

Our cart cover is a show stopper, I'm constantly being asked about it and where it's from. Hoping to start a trend of more germ conscious parenting in our parts... if I can save one child from the nasty stuff, Dayenu!

My daughter loves this cover and so do I. It makes grocery shopping just a little more bearable...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Just bag it!

I've got a real thing for shoes and bags... and it's no wonder that they're high on the most covetable lists of many women... having a bad day? there's nothing like a little retail therapy.... when you aren't feeling so hot? probably not the best time to shop for lets say a bathing suit or dress... but shoes? or a bag? it's almost impossible to NOT find one that fits!! and who schleps around more stuff everyday if not us mommies.... try schlepping our own female gear... make up, cell phone, lap top, keys, tissues, band aids, a book or magazine, water bottle, a snack, gum, tooth brush and paste (you never know...) nail polish, deodorant, lip gloss, compact, tweezers, emery board, mirror, brush, pen, notebook... never mind babe's diapees, wipees, change of clothes, bottle, paci or two..., blanket, burp cloth, toys, hat, etc. etc...

So needless to say choosing a diaper bag is serious business! but as a mommy who's also intrinsically concerned of appearances it'd had better look good on top of functionality! it really is an expression of me! There are many diaper bags that caught my eye but many brands fell short... too small, too big, too little wear/hang options, not enough pockets, horrible patterns...., nightmare to clean fabrics! too cheapy looking or too totally out of my price range....sigh! on top of it all I debated over whether it should match things I normally wear... like there is such a thing going from plus 13 kg to hopefully loosing it all or being stuck somewhere in between! or matching our stroller... a Quinny Buzz I fell madly in love with BECAUSE of it's gorgeous cerulean shade.

A couple brands made it to the finish line the majority of them are Israeli. While geographically more convenient, they made it by pure virtue and nothing but! Let's start with Minene... This brand caught me off guard, late in pregnancy when I thought I was sure of what I wanted (at least on that particular day....) this is the chameleon of all diaper bags, boasting 4 bags in one! The bag breaks down into four separate bags that can be used all together or individually; backpack, messenger bag, satchel and a clutch! with ever convenient loops to hang on a stroller (single bar, or two handled...) this bag is totally versatile. Add or subtract the different bags depending on your needs and go!

Ella Ma is another great Israeli company with a whole range of different diaper bags style to suit all of your evolving needs. Classic tote bag, Daddy Cool bag, smart looking hand bag... for those more adept at packing light or when your outing calls for looking polished without your ENTIRE house in tow.. and the Prima backpack, which had me most interested.

Petunia Picklebottom's very chic, quite expensive touring tote is fab!.... throw in a couple celebrity sporting mama's and this brand went through the roof. I love the brocade and jacquard fabrics and I'm sure it's nice to tote around something so posh, know one would ever guess it's stock full with diapees and tushie cream! I eventually gave up on the idea though, thinking it would be a little over the top while I'm dressed in jeans and a tee...

Aussie brand oioi had me swooning with their vast selection, pick a bag style, any bag style and they've got it! complete with special bottle pockets... they've introduced many new fabrics since I first began my search and the kiwi floral' got me thinking maybe I could use just one more...

In the end I decided to go with a Gitta Bags and I couldn't be happier. It fits the bill on all counts. We got the 108 model in the pattern below. It comes with a separate bottle insulator, change pad, alternative handle bar straps, mesh dirty laundry bag, and a formula container pouch. In addition it's got two insulated bottle pockets, ample inner pockets and separations, an exterior key fob and cellphone pocket. It can be worn as a tote or a backpack and it's also got a carrying handle. The pattern isn't as conservative as what I'd normally choose as a handbag but It looks great with our stroller and heck it just feels fun! Best of all it's got tons of room which was perfect for my inaablilty to pack light even if we were just going down the street!

All in all I actually ended up with five, gasp! different diaper bags... hope hubby isn't reading this not sure that he's up to date on our full inventory.... while I was pregnant I bought an O.R.E. Originals sugar booger diaper bag, couldn't resist the extremely low sale price of $11. It's not the best but it's waterproof so we use it for going to the pool/beach, and the pouch insert is stocked with the basics that we keep in the car. I received a navy blue Campaniola bag as a gift.. (generally used as our overnight bag), My official diaper bag is of course my Gitta which I adore! A tokidoki for Le sportsac tote (not designated as a diaper bag...) I got to match our lighter umbrella stroller... and most recently the Hoppop. So much for a bag for all occasions!
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