Play dough is one of those absolute classic toys that so many children have grown up with and today 87 years on, it is still a cherished activity that kids love! Play dough even makes it into the National Toy Hall of Fame in the US. What I didn’t know until today was that what we know as Play-Doh®, started life as wallpaper cleaner back in the 1920’s! Composed of flour, water, salt, boric acid, and mineral oil, the product was first created by Noah McVicker for Cincinnati based company, Kutol.
These days though many families enjoy making play dough at home and in the last few years, Australian based brand Happy Hands Happy Heart has been making waves with their natural version of play -dough with the most incredible scents that literally waft out of the glass jar once you open it.
I hope you enjoyed a wonderful festive season with your family and friends! We had a relaxing Christmas and we felt very lucky to take a summer holiday down to the south coast of NSW with the kids. Our first proper summer break since moving back from Europe more than 2 years ago.
I wanted to share with you a little shop we visited in Berry on our drive home as it was truly a magical toy store, one that as you enter, you gasp and look around in sheer wonder and delight at all the gorgeous toys surrounding you.
I am always on the search for amazing gifts, hey it’s my job right? I found French brand Omy Design & Play a few years ago when I discovered their large scale colouring posters and I mean LARGE scale and fell in love!
They were one of the first, if not THE first company, to produce them back in 2012 and I adored that they created pages of some of our favourite cities like London, New York, Paris and Sydney. My sister gave one of the London box sets to my eldest son for Christmas in 2014 and we have had so much fun colouring it in since then.
I have to admit that prior to being a mum of 2 boys, I was not hugely interested in Dinosaurs. I could honestly name 3 dinosaurs and that was pushing it. Fast forward 7.5 years and well as you can imagine so much of my life has changed and now I know dinosaurs by the dozen! Diplodocus, Cryolophosaurus, Trodon, Utahraptor, Ankylosaurus and the list goes on…
We have Schleich dinosaurs which the kids use as bath toys and to play games with, we have dino books and even a dino game, Bingosaurus! But at times, it can be hard to find really nice Dinosaur themed gifts, a lot of the time the dinosaurs are true to life and quite scary for little kids.
Until we found Dino Raw… this Adelaide based company is injecting the divine into dinosaurs with stunning results. Sarah has created pastel coloured dinosaurs, gelati coloured dinosaurs for dino loving babies, dinosaurs with smiles and dinosaur cushions too!
Puggle Post launched last month and finally there is an online shop bringing you the best in stylish, eco friendly presents that have an Australian theme for loved ones and family who are overseas.
Instead of sending them delightfully tacky cuddly koalas that fall apart in 5 minutes, Carmel, an expat who know calls Australia home, has sourced high quality, gorgeous pieces that will delight and captivate children and show them a little of why we call Australia home.
I love finding gorgeous new stores especially those selling toys! They are my fave, of course being a toy blogger and even better when the store has a beautiful collection of toys that will last a lifetime. Happy Go Ducky toys is just that, a stunning curated store of Czech made toys.
Oh yes Candylab Toys are back with another ahhmazing Kickstarter campaign this year! These guys seriously blow me away! Their company has been completely crowd funded through Kickstarter over the last 3 years and the wooden cars that they have produced are pretty darn phenomenal. Yep that is a big word, but it is rightly deserved, because these guys are kicking it and their wooden toys rock!
What I love about Adrian is the way she has selected toys in her store which are based around a child’s development. For each toy on her website she then has a list of skills the child will grow and develop from, when the child plays with the toy. Similar to how I write my “Toy of the month” where I look at the skills and development in terms of gross and fine motor skills etc for a toy, Adrian does the same and I love it! As a parent it is so helpful to be armed with this knowledge when choosing a toy or gift for a child, friend or niece/nephew. She has definitely set herself apart from other online toy stores with this fab information and not to mention her toy selection is the bomb! Rock and Pebble, Maileg, Milton Ashby, Omy Design and Play, Lille Huset, Numero 74, ahh need i say more…
I wrote a blog feature last month all about Australian Wooden toys and I am very exciting to start looking around the world at what other countries makers and creators are designing and producing for our children in terms of sustainable heirloom wooden toys.
This month, we travel to the grand ol USA! And gosh there is so much going on here, it was really hard to make a decision on the curated goodness coming out of the US. I think I will need to do another one very soon.
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!
Gosh I don’t quite know where to start with this feature. I have just finished watching “The True Cost”, a documentary about the horrific and detrimental effects of “Fast Fashion” on the environment and most importantly on human beings. It was recommended by an inspiring mama Kathryn, who owns the eco-friendly kids fashion label “The Smallest Tribe” and who I wrote about last week in regards to her brilliant Kickstarter campaign.
We are all aware of Fast Fashion and most of us would have a basic understanding of what this means, but did you know that the fashion industry is the 2nd most polluting industry after wait for it, oil. Oil! That statistic shocked me I have to say. With an annual turnover of $3 trillion annually, large corporations are putting profit before the environment and before their workers. There are approximately 40 million garment workers in the world today who earn less than US$3 a day.
One Australian online store that I keep coming back to for gift inspiration is the fabulous Finlee and Me. I love that it sells some of my favourite toys like Tegu wooden magnetic blocks, Kinetic sand, flash cards by the gorgeous Two Little Ducklings and I adore their Montessori toys too. But also available are on trend toys like Homely Creatures Dollhouse which I saw at Life Instyle in Sydney and is utterly fabulous! With a focus towards toys that are wooden, sensory and ones that harness a child’s imagination, Angela has found a niche in toys for the Australian kids market.
It is the little details that keeps you coming back. When you start doing a search through the site you realise how many things you have always needed but never found in the one website. Angela, the owner, a mother herself, has truly taken the time to research her products and find things relevant to the modern mama. I have been looking for a large wall decal for the days of the week so I can help to stay on top of all the kids activities, tick, yes, they have 3 different styles available.
They have loads of fab gifts for babies to kids as well as practical essentials for travel, nursery, preschool and bath time. So please check it out if you want some inspiring, unique, high quality toys that are affordable.
I have my eye on a few cool things for the boys like the following:
Tap Tap Hammering set: my son plays with one at school and thinks it is the best thing, apart from when another kid in his class tried to poke his eye out with the hammer! $24.95
I have to say when I opened up the package from Mister.I, I gasped, quite literally, at how beautiful the 2 pieces of clothing were that I was looking at. The prints were utterly divine and the fabric super soft. They took my breath away. I had not seen kids clothing so stunning before.
As such I was in a bit of a fix, as I knew that my photos couldn’t do this beautiful clothing line the justice it deserved. I am still learning with my photography but these clothes needed a master! So I enlisted a photographer friend of mine to take over and weave her magic. I have to say my darling Sina from Petite Etoile certainly did that!
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”.
On a Friday night in early December I finally made it to my first “The Finders Keepers” market! So many amazing Australian labels have found success at these markets that I was seriously excited to pay my $2 and explore the many stalls on offer at the brilliant Redfern Technology park in Sydney.
Natalie Miller Macrame workshop in full swing:
Below are some of my fave discoveries from the evening:
The Feather Tribe – a unique artist collective curated by the most gorgeous Jess and with some of my favourites already being stocked like Made by Mosey, Felt Foxes, this is one amazing shop to keep your eyes peeled to!
Park Dasom – the sweetest of hand embroidered brooches and dolls.
Beneath the Sun – for bright, fun and colourful kids decor, this is one brand that I adored!
Freddy Alphabet – I was so excited to finally meet Selina from Freddy Alphabet and this Finders Keepers, they debuted a new design – the Superhero tee!
The Raisin Did it – I ran out of battery on both my phone and camera by the end of the markets but this label had some gorgeous designs with the cutest of pineapples and lions!
The Smallest Tribe – a gorgeous label that designs and produces all their clothing from scratch using 100% GOTS certified organic cotton with earth friendly non toxic inks. I made the mistake of not buying that night and ordering a few weeks later but a lot of stock had been sold out! You have been warned…
Laikonik – with their gorgeously designed “Baby Journal” in collaboration with Laura Blythman. A beautiful gift idea for any new born or baby shower!
I cannot wait to go to my next The Finders Keepers market in Sydney next year to discover more new labels and fabulous designs! They are held twice yearly in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, so check them out when they come to your city next for some awesome finds!