At times in the Canadian prairies it’s tough to find those great natural & open ended toys that many of us believe in(toys that allow children to play…and learn…without getting overstimulated or ingesting nasty chemicals)without paying insane shipping charges and customs fees. We recently discovered a northern Albertan company, Play and Learn Toys, that solves that problem for parents all over Canada. Owner Narissa Singh, a UNB Business graduate, has lived in northern Alberta for nearly ten years and struggled to find Canadian sources for quality toys for her own children. She has chosen to offer a super array of products from some great manufacturers known for their quality & safety, and runs her business out of her home since her tiny town doesn’t have retail space for a store.
Play & Learn Toys carries many products that I’ve seen on European sites and been curious about, so I was thrilled to see that they’re available in Canada now – and being from a mom-run business makes it even better!
My children are absolutely loving their new Stepped Pyramid ($54.99) from Grimms. It consists of a square wooden base filled with blocks in a variety of colours, sizes and versatile shapes. With an open ended toy like this, the possibilities for learning are endless. We now use them daily for imaginative building play and they’ve been castles, rocketships, dragons, post offices, houses and so much more. That’s the thing with great toys – they don’t do the imagining or noisemaking for you, so they can be anything at any time. Grimms’ products are made in Germany of wood and non-toxic colourings.
Another super product the Play & Learn Toys carries is Contina by Bamboo($29.99). This is not just another sets of blocks. Contina includes a rainbow of colors, black and natural finishes on 100 bamboo sticks which are small and lightweight for children 3 years and up. Combine colors, create a rainbow, stack lengthwise like dominos or pile them high for tons of creative fun. The possibilities are endless with Contina. It’s no wonder that Contina won the Best Toy award from Child’s Magazine.
Join Play & Learn Toys on Facebook.
There’s no doubt that we’re in the midst of a recession, and even if you’re one of the lucky ones who hasn’t lost any money or jobs you’re sure to be feeling the urge to be a little bit more careful with your spare cash. However, that doesn’t mean you’ve lost your desire to splurge for yourself and your babes on high quality and functional merchandise.
Medicine Hat, Alberta based ChicPeek, offers a great variety of incredibly high quality products at great prices. Owner & designer Echo Wells is a mom of three who has been creating beautiful items for over 15 years. Her experience is evident as soon as you see her products in person. They’re of a highly professional quality but sell for a handmade price.
The ChicPeek nursing covers(a steal at $24.99 without your discount – see below) is truly one of a kind. (Pictured in the two centre images at right.) Made of a gorgeous cashmere & silk pashmina (black or brown), it’s the required amount of discreet and modest, but unusually fashionable for a nursing cover. There are enough “Hey, guess what? I’m breastfeeding!” (a.k.a. ugly) nursing covers out there; it’s about time someone made one like this. Essentially just a long & wide scarf that’s strategically sewn with a head & arm hole, it covers all the way around, making it fully tug-proof. There’s an open side so one hand is always free to multi-task, and it’s the perfect weight to not swelter you or baby while you cuddle. If someone notices that you’re nursing, it’s likely either someone who has seen one of Echo’s great covers before or who spotted the gorgeous little toes peeking out from underneath. Even better is that when you’re done nursing or in between children, your nursing cover is a beautiful scarf that you can wear several ways without anyone having any idea that it once hid your boobs from strangers.
ChicPeek offers a large selection of Miklips hair bows & clips for newbies and right up to moms. From the most adorable corkers to gorgeous big bows, the Chic Peek clips are of top quality, stay in your hair and are absolutely gorgeous.
Most of all, though, I was thrilled to discover the ChicPeek buggie hugs shopping cart cover ($49.99 – two bottom images at right). I have looked everywhere – brick and morter as well as online – and ChicPeek is the first place I’ve found stylish looking covers with holes and belts for two children to share the front seat of a cart. (The standards is two holes and one belt, but just ask and Echo will put another belt in for you.) The design of her buggy hugs are brilliant. Aside from the extra wide leg holes to accommodate one leg or two, these are also the only covers I’ve seen come equipped with an attached caribiner to secure the cover to the cart. My kids ride in the different shades of red pattern, which is gorgeous and commented on everywhere we go – particularly Costco when both kids are germ free & buckled in the front seat of the cart. If you’re going to have a second child before your first turns four, I highly recommend you pick up a Chic Peek buggy hug and get a second belt put in. The longer you can contain them safely, the happier you’ll be. Trust me on that.
I’m the first to admit that I’m a shoe snob. Not for myself, as is evident by the worn out Birks in my closet, but for my kids. Pedipeds are an awesome combination of comfort, quality & style that passes even my perfectionist standards.
Pediped™ footwear is designed to be the “next best thing to bare feet.” They allow children’s feet to develop naturally and provide optimal support and protection during the developmental stages of babies’ feet – from initial crawl to the first steps and beyond. It’s made with premium, non-toxic, ECO grade leather and has foam insoles & padded heels for a comfortable fit & shock absorption. The distinctive styling – over 45 styles – is nothing short of exceptional. Whether you like Mary Janes, patent holiday shoes, traditional penny loafers, breezy sandals or ultra‐cool athletic shoes, Pedipeds is sure to have a style – or ten – that you’ll love and can’t resist.
Shipping is only $5 within the US and $10 to Canada.
Win it! You could win a pair of Pedipeds Originals of your choice. To enter, go take your pick and then leave a comment on this post with your fave style & size. Contest closes at noon mst on December 11, 2008.
CONTEST CLOSED & WINNER EMAILED
Parents know that the best shoes for baby are no shoes at all, but that doesn’t make it any easier to resist the gorgeous footwear options that abound from birth on up.
I’ve got some good news for parents who just can’t leave well enough alone. The brainchild of Winnie Liu,
Jazzy Toes™ are socks that replicate shoes. They’re available in ten styles for both boys and girls and are completely adorable – so much so that I’d recommend the variety pack, available in both boys and girls styles. Who needs shoes when there are socks that look like this?
Jazzy Toes socks have an elasticized ankle and non-skid grip on the bottom. They comes in a ready-to-mail gift box and are available in two sizes.
Win it! Winnie Liu is giving away a boxed set of Jazzy Toes to one lucky winner. To enter, leave a comment on this post before noon MST on May 12/08 stating which of all the boxed sets you’d choose, and in what size.
Additional entries are always available. See contest entry information and rules.
Once in a while, we’ll still place the information from that page within a post for your reference.
Here’s how to get those extra entries:
Get up to three additional entries into this contest!
1. Blog about this contest using one of the top three images found here. Leave a comment with the direct link to your post (not to your main page, and in a separate comment from your other entry).
2.Subscribe to our RSS feed. Leave an additional comment to let us know that you did this for your extra entry. Be sure to leave a valid email address so we can confirm your subscription.
3. Place our button in your sidebar or add us to your blogroll. Leave an additional comment to let us know that you did this for your extra entry. Be sure to leave a valid url so we can confirm the addition.
Started by crafty mom Hilary Seabolt in 2004 when her son asked what kind of food his new stuffed animals were supposed to eat, Lilly Bean Market creates what is by far the nicest and most solidly constructed felt play food I’ve seen to date. She works closely with a small group of Amish and a machine seamstress to ensure that her business remains solely based in the USA.
It’s so great to have an option for the ever popular kitchen play that doesn’t involve plastic, wood with potentially lead laden paint or spit soaked cardboard. It’s amazing – almost so nice that you’ll be tempted to not let your kids play with it because it looks so nice arranged among the toy dishes. But that would be silly. I had Granny’s Breakfast just this morning, and it’s delish. Or, as my son says, “Petend delisus!” (That’s “pretend delicious,” for you non-parental types.)
Lilly Bean Market play food is available individually or as meals. Having played with these myself…I mean, with the kids (ahem), I can tell you you’re going to want to go with at least a meal. Chances are, you’ll get your first order and end up going back for more. I know I will.
Keep an eye on the new items – there are sure to be more cool creations coming soon!