Australia

Happy Hands Happy Heart Happy Kids

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.

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Goldfish toy shop – where all kids dreams come true!

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.

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Cream Empire – a beautiful new direction

Oh I have to say the baby products these days are epic. Seven and a half years on from when I had my first newborn, there are so many beautiful products out there that make you clucky!!

A fave lady and past Pay it forward feature, Carolina from Cream Empire has released some truly stunning baby blankets and knitwear as she takes the next step in her business.

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Dino Raw – divine dinosaurs

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!

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Toy of the month – October 2016

Ohh you know how much I adore wooden toys and this month I have such a fabulous product to show you from the amazing Tinkertime which combines another love of mine, singing!

I will admit,  I am not good at singing, in fact I think I am probably tone deaf but I love to sing to the tunes on the radio and I may have had a karaoke session at my hen’s night…

So naturally the kids also like to sing with me when we are at home or even in the car! And what do you need when you sing but… a microphone!

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Puggle Post

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.

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Dollhouse makeovers

This week we decided to embark up on a little renovation mission with our Lille Huset dollhouse from Wild and Whimsical Things. We met Adrian who runs this brilliant online store via the utterly brilliant small biz course we are doing with Business School for Mums.

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…

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Australian Wooden Toys

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!

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Where to Shop – Australia

I love independent retailers and supporting small businesses all over the globe.

I have categorised shops across different regions to make it easier for you to search your part of the world.

Here is a guide to some of my fave shops, stocking kids toys and kids fashion in Australia, listed in alphabetical order as all are equally brilliant in their own right.

Check back every now and then as I add more to the list.

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Finlee and Me

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

A-Z flash cards and building blocks – two of my fave things together in one toy! What more can you ask for? $49.95

Idea boxes – such a fun idea for the whole family. Beats the idiot box! $22.95

Coloured cups and balls – i love these Montessori toys which help children to understand colours, develop fine motor skills and generally have a lot of fun, not to mention wooden! $26.95

Rainbow sound blocks – I have always adored these but never got around to getting them for my boys but they would make a great 1st birthday present! $54.95

Angela also writes a great blog which you can find on the website and she has some great ideas for keeping the kids amused with arts, cooking and science.

Check Finlee and Me out here for your next birthday gift or baby shower gift!

Mister. I

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!

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The Organic Family

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.

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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.

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   Families that camp together….

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Football fun with the siblings!

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Can we have an icecream, puhleeease Mum! 

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Finishing off a fun day with a play on the swings and tasting the delicious organic ice cream and juices! 

 

Ages: 3+

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”. 

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Disclosure: in order to review Goose Grease, we were given an Organic family to test out.

Guest Curator – Handmade Cooperative

This last week I was so honoured and excited to be a guest curator for a fabulous  website that focuses on the best of handmade gorgeousness from around Australia, the Handmade Cooperative.

Click here to see the hand picked selection of kids toys I choose from their talented artisans with the theme based around “Learning through Play”.

Thanks so much again for having me!

 

 

The Finders Keepers market – Sydney, December 2014

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.

IMG_0210Natalie Miller Macrame workshop in full swing:

IMG_0214Below 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!    IMG_0218

IMG_0220Park Dasom – the sweetest of hand embroidered brooches and dolls.

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Beneath the Sun – for bright, fun and colourful kids decor, this is one brand that I adored!

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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!

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Julie’s Little People – cute handmade little creatures all with their own name, character and style!

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   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!

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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…

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Laikonik – with their gorgeously designed “Baby Journal” in collaboration with Laura Blythman. A beautiful gift idea for any new born or baby shower!

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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!