Hello lovely peeps, can we really already be in June, half through 2017?! I know I always say it but gosh time certainly flies with kids and even more so once they go to school. I wrongly assumed school would provide heaps more time for me to blog and work (and maybe do those household things called chores) but I miss the cruisey preschool days where we could just play, play and play!
We are having cooler days here in Sydney, still sunny most days but it is definitely feeling like Winter here. As the boys were both born in England and lived a large amount of their time in the Northern Hemisphere, we are quite used to the colder days and secretly quite like to hibernate at home as this is when we play with our toys the most.
The winters here are more like a English summer’s day in terms of warmer temperatures but the mornings and evenings are cold. And don’t get me started on the seriously freezing cold houses. I do miss central heating as reverse cycle air conditioning doesn’t quite cut it.
This month’s toy is a super flexible kids toy that works brilliantly both indoors and outdoors, truly perfect then for Australia. We have featured it a lot on our Instagram account and I thought I should introduce it to the blog too! So what is it you ask?
The boys were extremely lucky at Christmas to be gifted some incredible Candylab toy cars from Keld Industries, the Australian distributor of these awesome US designed cars.
We are long time fans of Candylab Toys having helped to crowd fund their second campaign by buying up the second edition of cars that they designed in 2015. We have added to our collection over their 3 Kickstarter campaigns and we are hoping for a 4th campaign this year, c’mon Vlad and team!
As it is summer school holidays the boys and I thought we should give our cars a new home, so we started to create a garage town out of cardboard boxes and paint. And yes, they may have racing stripes on the garages as well as the car numbers on the side of the garages, just so we know which garage they live in!
I am not sure about you but these days I read more and more about kids suffering from anxiety and from quite a young age of 5 or 6. My heart breaks hearing that kids so young can be so crippled by this mental health illness.
So I love to hear about ways to help kids with their anxiety and mental health issues and to make it a subject that is talked about rather than a taboo topic.
Little Wuppy® has been created with just this issue in mind, helping young children get through their battles with anxiety as well as loneliness or dealing with the many changes going on around them.
This month we are reviewing a firm favourite in our household, the legendary, one and only, puzzle!!
We adore puzzles and have done since the boys were babes. We have wooden ones and cardboard ones, puzzles with alphabets, numbers, animals and so much more! What we haven’t seen though are the seriously stunning Australian designed Millions of Monkey puzzles from brand new Australian shop Puggle Post.
Halycon Nights are a gorgeous Australian kids bedding and now clothing range that has captured my imagination through their brilliant use of colourful prints and artist collaborations. Recently we were lucky to test out some of their bedding range and I have to say we love it!
With a background in fashion retail and product development, this Melbourne based wife and husband team, Kym and Reuben have collaborated with some amazing Australian artists to bring the fun back into bedding! From dinosaurs, rainbow mountains, space ghosts, colorful kaleidoscope playgrounds to Australian outback animals. Every design is filled with creativity and allows kids to imagine just as they drift off to sleep.
Lil Baddits is a gorgeous new babywear range that is launching this month in Australia and seriously this baby wear is just divine!! I will be honest it may make me secretly want a third baby!
Lil Baddits babywear is designed in Australia with hand drawn watercolour prints and made ethically in India using G.O.T.S certified organic cotton and non toxic dyes. It is made of THE softest organic cotton you have touched, seriously AS soft as the baby’s bottoms they are going in!
August in Sydney can be quite a dreary month, it can be wet, super cold with windy days and only sometimes a glimpse of Spring in the air! But what I like about the last winter month is that you can still hibernate and enjoy all those indoor activities.
We go through our board games, we set up our wooden train set, do painting and I even taught the kids how to play marbles this month. We had the added joy of reviewing a beautiful wooden play theatre from the brilliant new toy store Happy Go Ducky. Such a perfect toy for those cold, rainy days indoors or just days when you want to stay inside and chill.
Not happy to settle with just producing their gorgeous handcrafted wooden peg dolls which are produced under fair trade conditions in Bogotá, Colombia, Anna and Juan Donado, the amazing couple behind the brand, have now turned their passion and energy to a new element of their company, book publishing!
I have to say in looking for handmade and wooden toys over the past 2 years for my blog, it has honestly been quite a struggle. There are a lot of wooden toys but all made by the big companies; Plan Toys, Hape, Melissa and Doug, Janod and Kidkraft to name a few. We love our Hape & Plan Toys but not all the companies produce solid wood toys, many are made of MDF, which isn’t sturdy and if it is painted, then it chips easily.
However, just in the past year, there has been an absolute resurgence in handmade and wooden toys. And I can proudly say there are so many handmade and heirloom made toys being made right here in Australia, many in lovely mamas and papas homes! Woohoo!
Halloween is over and let’s roll on the festive season!
With it comes all the flurry of thinking about what presents aka kids toys to buy your children, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and grandchildren. So I thought I would help out over the next few weeks and give you some ideas with my gift guides, as we build up to Christmas 2015 ( 7 weeks + and counting, just thought I would add that in for some shock value!).
In today’s techy world where all kids want to do is watch TV, the iPad, play Minecraft ( on said iPad) or play on their parent’s phone, it can be hard to get kids out of the house and back in nature. As a child I remember climbing trees, making tea for my dolls in our tree house, riding bikes with our local neighbourhood gang and exploring the local streams, mangroves, beaches and parks. We were constantly outdoors; back in the day, as they say!
But times have changed and on top of that parents are too scared to let their kids run and play outside like we used to do. I remember I would go off for hours, bike riding and exploring and these were the days of no mobile phones, so my mum couldn’t call me. If she was worried, she would get in the car and drive the streets to find me but I think that only happened once. I don’t know why we have lost that carefree attitude to life but it has meant that parents feel safer having their kids indoors than outdoors.
This month has been an exciting month here in the KGT household and we have had a real focus on the environment this month in terms of organic clothing and now eco toys for my “Toy of the month”. The boys and I have had so much fun building and creating toys out of cardboard!
Yes, you heard it correctly, brilliant environmentally friendly cardboard toys from Krooom Toys. It was with a HUGE amount of excitement when a large box turned up on our door step by our friendly postman and the boys discovered all the fab goodies inside. They were so curious that the toys were made of cardboard as they had never seen anything like them before.
We received 3 “Fold my cars” to test out from The Stork Nest in the form of an Ice cream van, Tow truck and the Hippie van with a surfboard! As well as the super awesome “Willson Bros Garage” playset which also comes with a car garage, play mat, tow truck, car, scooter, petrol tank, air tank and 2 little figures to play with not to mention the car wash!
This month’s “Toy of the month” is about tape. Tape, I hear you say? That is not a toy?! Yes, tape, but not just any old tape, this is tape in the shape of a train track which you can stick to your floors – carpet, laminate or wooden floors to create a train track!!
As you know from my posts last year about Snappets, I am a HUGE fan of Kickstarter and the power of crowd funding. It is the perfect way in this techy age to get funding to make your dream idea, concept or creation a reality.
Candylab Toys was born out of a Kickstarter campaign last year and with the draw and pull of the masses, they designed and manufactured 7 different designs. This year, this awesome design led wooden toy company have created 5 more fantastic prototypes to add to the garage.
In just under 3 hours they already have 29 backers who have pledged $3,453 of the $30,000 they require for their next campaign.
Here is a little look at the cars they have designed. By pledging to buy one, when the Kickstarter campaign is successful, you will have your very own Candylab Toy, come September.
This project will only be funded if at least $30,000 is pledged by
This month’s “Toy of the month” are a fantastic set of sand toys called “Beach Stamps” which the boys and I have been super excited to try out. The fantastic Australian based online store Finlee and Me are the exclusive Australian supplier and they kindly sent them to us to review.
We have spent a few beach days testing them out over the last few weeks and I have to say they are an easy, fun and great alternative to your everyday sand toys of buckets, spades, diggers and balls.
Beach Stamps are designed and made in the USA by the Red Rooster Toy Company and they come in all different types and various variety packs, we tested out the “15 Variety Shapes” pack.
They are super easy to use and come supplied with rubber bands which you attach to the plastic stamp moulds with their easy to follow instructions. There are even spare rubber bands in case of breakage, although the rubber bands seemed very robust to me and not very easily broken.
At the beach:
As you can see from the photos we loved testing these beach toys out and what I liked most as a mother at least, is they are a great size for small hands. Also if you want an easy beach toy to pack for your beach adventures and let’s face it as a mum, you generally have about 3-4 bags filled with towels, lunch, umbrella etc; then these are a perfect solution as they don’t take up much room, but they provide hours of creative play!
H did try and put them on his feet as suggested on the back of the packaging but it wasn’t so successful, however, I think my eldest who is nearly 6 would have found it easy to do and a lot of fun!
Beach Stamps are aimed at 4+ according to it’s packaging but my nearly 3 year old loved them and had no trouble playing with them. As a 4 year old + you could go further with the type of play to be enjoyed, such as making up stories with the stamps or asking them to pick a certain colour to help with learning colours. But ultimately they are just a lot of fun and it is great to watch your children enjoy some creative play with them.
They are not too messy either for the child nor when cleaning up and there is not a huge amount of sand left in them which you cannot get out. They were nearly 100% clean after playing with them and popping them back in a ziplock bag. 10/10 on the mama radar!
We also had a play with them in our sandpit and I think they would work great with kinetic sand too which my eldest is dying to get for his 6th Birthday next month.
The shapes in our 15 variety pack where varied, ranging from a love heart, to a girl, a dinosaur, a smiley face, to a sailing boat, a penguin,a boy, a sun, a sheriff’s star as well as skull, cross and circle. For older children, I thought you could have fun playing games of naughts and crosses on the beach with the circle and cross stamps.
Using them in our sandpit:
Mostly what I loved about these set of sand toys, are the open ended play and the endless possibilities that can be enjoyed with these beach stamps. They would make a fab gift for a birthday and with the reasonable price, they could work quite well for a school birthday party gift as they hover around the $20.00 mark. They are perfect also for Easter or in the kids stocking at Christmas time. Or add them to a box of kinetic sand for the perfect gift for any boy or girl!
Ages: 4+ .
NB:- The packaging says 4+ but after testing them out, I think they are perfect for 3+.
This week, we have been very lucky to have some visitors come and stay with us. They are rather unique, a lot of fun, and they like to go on adventures! They go by the name “The Organic Family” and I have to say it has been a pleasure getting to know this sweet little family of 4, yes you may have guessed it by now, wooden dolls, by Goose Grease toys!
This little family consists of a mama, papa, brother and sister who have been lovingly hand crafted using wood that is sustainably sourced under fair trade practices in Bogotá, Colombia.
Goose Grease is owned and run by a wife and husband team, Anna and Juan Donado out of Brooklyn, New York. Juan is Colombian and he chose his home country to produce these sweetest of toys and Anna trains the skilled artisans to hand paint each doll, using non toxic water based paints.
I adore wooden toys as you would no doubt realise in reading my blog. Why? Well there are many reasons for my love of all things wood! One is the aesthetics and texture, they just look stunning and the natural softness of wood is a nice change from all the plastic in this world. Another reason is the heirloom quality of wood and the fact the toys can be passed down through the generations and not be broken or have pieces missing like plastic toys. Finally, that due to the quality and design, wooden toys generally don’t date, which means you won’t thrown them away when your child has had enough of that latest trend.
It was with much pleasure therefore that this little organic family came on a big adventure to our house via the fantastic new Australian based shop Noc Noc; who source and stock only handcrafted wooden toys from around the world. Heather’s passion for wooden toys is similar to mine, in that she chooses wooden toys for their environmental and sustainability factor. As a mother of 2 gorgeous kids, she wanted to consciously source toys that were handcrafted and of artisan quality. However, as I too have found, Heather struggled to find handmade wooden toys made in Australia, in particular, on a wholesale level. We just don’t seem to have the demand for it here, well not yet…
Goose Grease toys were one of her first purchases for the store and Heather tells me a little more as to why she choose these toys in particular:
As soon as I saw these dolls I had quite a physical reaction. I really felt like a small child again and I just wanted to hold and play with them (and I do). They are so beautifully made and feel so gorgeous to hold. Knowing that they are each lovingly hand lathed and then hand painted makes them so very special. I also just love how different each set is. The organic family just melt me. The Monochrome are the trendy family of the bunch. The ninjas make me giggle. So I can imagine that they also bring out these different emotional reactions in children too! I was over the moon when I found out that I could sell them in Australia and in fact we are now their Australian distributors.
I also asked Heather about the importance of wooden toys and what future they have:
I actually see us moving in a full circle. Back to natural, ecologically friendly toys. Whilst the tech age is undoubtably here to stay, I also see parents making choices to limit these techy items and give their children toys that will allow their imaginations to grow. I also most definitely am seeing parents who wish to limit the plastic and waste that occurs in their children’s worlds. I think different parents have different reasons for doing this whether it be environmental, health (the toxic chemicals in plastic), for aesthetic reasons or even for the nostalgia of our children having the wooden toys like we did. However I am definitely seeing a resurgence in wooden toy enquiries and an understanding of the higher price tag that come with these toys.
I am looking forward to seeing more from Noc Noc in the future and the new discoveries and treasures that Heather is no doubt going to find as she pursues her dream of creating a creative hub, made of only handcrafted wooden toys.
Now let us go and see what adventures the Organic family got up to on their stay with us!
The adventures of the Organic Family.
Families that camp together….
Football fun with the siblings!
Can we have an icecream, puhleeease Mum!
Finishing off a fun day with a play on the swings and tasting the delicious organic ice cream and juices!
Size: 6.5 – 9 cm tall
Non toxic paint, fair trade conditions, sustainably sourced wood.
****DISCOUNT CODE ****
Heather has very kindly offered free shipping on all Noc Noc toys using code “KGT15”.
Life with 2 boys, well, let’s be honest, make that 3 boys including hubby dearest, means a life filled with cars! Especially as said hubby is a mechanical engineer so we tend to live and breathe cars in this household… whether it is wooden cars, Hot Wheels cars, Siku, Scaletrix, Automoblox, Kukkia + and not to mention ride on cars and bikes, my boys love ALL of them.
As such I don’t get too excited when the boys receive new toy cars as birthday presents as normally they are all rather the same. That was until I set my eyes on Candylab Toys, these cars seriously rocked my world! Not only did they have some of the coolest car designs I had seen, but, they were wooden! I had to review these cars, pronto.
Vlad Dragusin, the founder, is an architect based in Brooklyn with two daughters and he shares an equal love of cars and “mid century modern” design.
Growing up in his native Romania in the 80’s with “crappy tv choices” he learned to sketch and draw, create and build cars that he saw and loved from the tiny glimpse of Hollywood he saw on TV.
Cut to today and the story goes that one day, one of his daughters asked Vlad to put wheels on an empty noodle box she had just retrieved from the recycling. Together they then painted and drew on the box to create an awesome car to play with. This cardboard design made Vlad imagine a world of the coolest of cool cars, the cars he remembered drawing from his childhood. He decided not to design something throwaway but cars that would become heirloom pieces and passed down through the generations, cars that were both modern and retro at the same time. Together with his business partner and neighbour, Florin who knew all the technical aspects of car design, they started Candylab Toys.
Candylab Toys was established in 2013 through a Kickstarter campaign, where 1,129 people raised 4 x times the amount of funds required to get the designs and manufacturing started. Having expected it would take a year to place their first factory order with the Kickstarter campaign they got there in 35 days! A phenomenal effort and amazingly quick result which allowed Candylab Toys to start life. I love Kickstarter campaigns, it is one of the best ways I know to raise money for “Start ups” and breath life into awesome ideas.
Although wishing to produce their gorgeous wooden cars in the USA, they struggled to find any US manufacturers interested in mass wood production of small items back in 2012. After 97 failed attempts to find a US manufacturer keen to take on the job, and 1 keen to produce the cars at USD$100.00 a car, they decided to look abroad. They went to the 2013 International Toy fair and found a Chinese wood supplier keen to work with them on their drawings. It has been a match made in heaven so far with a proven partnership and successful production of 8 cars thus far with more coming very soon!
Each car takes from 15 to 18 cuts in a solid beech wood profile, plus painting, priming, applying the stripes and decals and wheels. It is a manual process all the way. Paints are all water based with each car taking hours to produce.
This gorgeous wooden car arrives in a fab matching box and is much larger than any other wooden car around that we have tested ( even larger than Automoblox). What strikes you first is the stylishly simple design, it is super elegant and you would be happy to display it in your kids bedroom. However, there is little chance of that once your kids see it!
As you can see from the photos here, my eldest son had an absolute ball racing the GT-10 around the washi tape track I made for him on my pinboard. My youngest adores the car so much he has scratched it up a little with his endless hours of play. They both love this car and the “oohs and ahhs” that came out of both their mouths when we opened up the box was priceless.
It is quite large in size and is recommended for ages 3+. I therefore thought it might be too large for Hudson who is 3 in May, but he races it around and it fits his hand well. I would say that it is probably better for ages 3+ as my youngest has scratched it up a little with his play whereas Jasper is much more careful with it but equally loves playing with it and building garages for it and roads.
They come in 8 designs, although 1 is no longer available as it was the first Kickstarter car and thus was handed out to all those who pledged money. The police and fire car look fantastic and next month, they have added a tow truck to the collection! With bright yellows and purples for the Stinger and Plum 50, there is a car to suit all ages and sexes.
If your children, boys and girls alike, are car obsessed this makes a brilliant birthday present with the promised “ohhs and ahhs” coming from your child as they open the box. The cars look as good in the flesh as they do in the photos. They are true design led heirloom pieces that you would happily display in your children’s room.
The cars are fairly large in size in comparison to most cars that kids play with and they are great for racing, drifting and generally having a lot fun! My boys have added Sonny Angels as passengers and come up with some awesome imaginative play with the car. We will definitely be adding to our collection of Candylab Toys for their birthday, the only question is, which one!
Size: 18.3cm L x 7.3cm W x 5cm H
Designed in Brooklyn, made in China.
Safety tested according to US CPSIA and European, Australian and New Zealand regulations.
RRP: US $30.00 +
Disclosure: in order to review the Candylab GT-10 we were sent one to test drive.
Sometimes I get completely blown away by a new product and this is one of those products! From the time I set my eyes on “Creatures and Features“, I knew I had to try it out and review one!
Creating your own creature on a t-shirt by iron on pictures is such a fantastic idea and I knew my eldest son Jasper, my little artist, would love creating his very own customised creature t-shirt.
Gorgeously packaged, the tee arrives inside a cardboard carry bag with the tee, instructions and iron on features all included in a cute little packet. The designs and the quality of the tee is just fantastic.
After unpacking and washing the tee as per instructions; a day later we got to work on creating our creature by cutting out each part. We made a few different designs before we decided on the final creature.
Included in each pack are both girl and boy features and there are more than enough features available for the tee. So much so, they will soon be selling blank t-shirt’s so that you can create creatures for other siblings.
We had so much fun creating our little creature and it was a fab afternoon activity that both boys enjoyed helping to create. The iron on features really come to life once you have ironed them on and slowly peeled them off once they have cooled. My boys clapped and squealed in awe after the creature had been revealed.
Creatures and Features is a sister company to Neve and Hawk who are a brilliant US based clothing company that caught my eye last year not only due to their beautiful yet comfortable clothing range but in part to their philanthropic ways; they donate money towards arts in public schools in America. But back to that part later on.
Creatures and Features was created because their darling daughter Neve loves to draw “fashion” when owner Kris is working. That gave them the idea to find a way for her to create her own fashion masterpiece and thus Creatures and Features came to life!
With their motto “Fight for Creativity” they have helped to combine their love of fashion and support of the arts in one amazingly designed product. Each t-shirt allows the child to become their own artist.
All the tees and features are hand drawn by Kris’s husband, Bob. He then takes those drawings and makes them into graphics and iron ons. Creatures and Features is proudly designed and made in the US, it took over a year for them to source a local iron-on company with the outstanding quality they desired.
With so many plans for a young vibrant company, I can see so much in store for their future. But more importantly, I adore what this company is about and giving back to the community and being socially responsible, this is a company with a huge future ahead. I believe arts whether it is drama, drawing, dance, painting, or writing, deserves more recognition, especially for our kids and the youth of today. Art allows them to express themselves and provides them with a creative outlet to focus their energies. Without art in the world, it would be a very depressing place. As such a company that sees the importance of art and creativity for our children, is a company that is thinking about our children’s future. And that is just what Creatures and Features is doing!
GIVEAWAY: for your chance to win one of these fantastic t-shirts and create your own creature, comment below.
Disclosure: We received the t-shirt as a gift in order to review this product.
This month I am reviewing the ever amazing “Make a doll” by Naked Lunge. As you may know from my IG account, I am a HUGE fan of the fabulous Roxy from Naked Lunge. Firstly she is one lovely lady and secondly an amazing artist!!
“Make a doll” are personalised, hand painted dolls that are created by the gorgeous Roxy. She uses photos and details that you send to her via email about your child. She paints your beautiful son or daughter using black non-toxic paint onto cotton, then she hand washes the cotton fabric, dries it, irons them and sews them up with stuffing. You get to choose your own backing from a selection of gorgeous liberty prints, chevron, triangle, plain black and more.
I had one of the “Make a Doll’s” made by Roxy for my youngest son’s 2nd Birthday. Firstly, I love that they are handmade in England with so much love and devotion. You have in your hand a gorgeous mini-me doll of your beloved child. It is like a little piece of art wrapped in cotton. These dolls are timeless.
I love that our doll is a little snapshot of my son when he was a toddler, holding his favourite toys and in his favourite clothes at the time. He loved recognising his favourite fire engine toy and “Dig Dig Digging” book on the doll and enjoys sleeping with it at nap and bedtime. I loved that I have a mini me of him in doll form to treasure always ( I am a bit sentimental like that !)
Naked Lunge is an English company that began in 2013, producing the most divine prints, postcards, dolls, pillows, homewares and clothing. Roxy is always surprising me with her seemingly endless creative talent. Whatever she touches turns to gold! Roxy collaborates with retailers and clothing companies to produce unique designs and bespoke pieces that are exclusive to these shops.
The dolls are machine washable at 30 degrees on a short spin cycle.
Age: 0+ months
Each doll stands approximately 25 cm tall and approximately 8cm wide.