Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Once upon a time, plastic toys, playstations and barbie dolls didn't exist...

Little Alouette Waldorf Maple teethers, from $14, Mum & Babe

...and Santa and his elves actually made all of their toys - mostly out of wood. I'm a huge fan of wooden toys and try to buy the natural-looking over its brightly-coloured plastic second cousins as often as I can. And I'm glad to see Zak also loves his woody friends: his blocks, puzzles, wooden truck, bead weaver and push-a-long cart are in high rotation on his daily play. What I'd never really considered before though was wooden teethers. Now that Layla is chewing away merrily on her hands, Zak's hands, muslin wrap, Ooh Ahh, her squeaky toy and anything else in reach, I've been thinking about teethers. And these ones from Little Alouette would be perfect! Made by a carpenter and his wife on their property in Ohio, they're finished in organic seed oil and made from locally sourced products, particularly Ohio Maple. No harmful plastic and no falling apart, they're natural, handmade and so, so stylish. And before you worry about splinters in the mouth (ouch!), they're sanded and finished perfectly smooth. Even better, Little Alouette has a great range of wooden toys and supports the Handmade Toy Alliance (I wonder if we have one here? Hope so!). You must check out the range at their Etsy store. To buy teethers in Aus, try Mum & Babe

Broom broom. It has wheels, what more does a car need?!

Ellie the elephant

GiGi the giraffe

Teething keys for bubby

Peace out!

Monday, December 8, 2008

mini break

hello lovelies,
Just a quick note to say I'm heading off to our nation's capital for the week to spend some time with my parents... translation: I have a HEAP of stuff to do and need a live-in nanny! hehe. So I'm taking a break from blogging but will be back next week. So have a lovely few days - I'm guessing what with all the Christmas shopping, meal planning, parties and end-of-work-year-stuff to sort out, you won't miss me anyway! Back soon.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

super (and affordable!) storage ideas

Various shades of blue, crisp white and a dash of light wood make this room serene.

Ok, so if you read last week's Take 5 magazine you'd have noticed some projects to get the look of this nursery were featured (I compiled the special and this was my first inclusion!). And if you've picked up the latest Cosmo Pregnancy, you'd also have noticed it is the boy's nursery feature. And if you are an avid reader of Real Living, you'd have seen it in there too about a year ago. Safe to say, it's a popular room for magazines. But in case you haven't seen it, here is the whole set! And some super storage ideas to steal.

Before I go on, I was not reading Cosmo Pregnancy because I'm pregnant again, but because I knew there was a pic of my kiddies and me in there babbling on about my choice of sling. Yes I paid $13-odd dollars just to see a picture I took myself and can see anytime for free. However, I used to work wtih these guys so it was nice to see the editor Franki's little baby boy and read my friend Louise's pregnancy diary. I was also pleasantly surprised to see mini meez got a mention under great blogs to check out. Not quite as pleased to see the address was wrong, but I was a subeditor in a previous life and despite being a damn good one if I do say so myself, I have made worse mistakes so they're forgiven!! (I called super-advertiser Avon's Retroactive cream "Radioactive" cream and, um, once signed off on an entire sealed section in Cosmo that got published... only to find out once it hit the stands that it had been published by us a year or two earlier. Not entirely my fault, but OOPS!)

But back to the pics, here are some great storage ideas to steal. And afterwards, some other ways to stash all the toys in a living space - stylishly.

Perfect for all those tiny toys: Lego, crayons, cars, cars and more cars. Ikea have similar (but smaller) boxes and you can so easily stencil or freehand paint the alphabet on. Or even stick flashcards on the fronts of drawers to describe the contents - kids will find it easier to pack things away if know where each thing's home is.

This I love and want to do myself: a mobile toy box. Paint the boxes, add some castors and join together loosely with a bit of rope and move it room to room. A box option is below.

Oh to have a wall of built-in storage... If you don't, try to DIY with a bookshelf and the same boxes as above. A coat of paint makes them a feature.

Oh look! The boxes again. Perfect nappy-and-cream station. Until baby gets old enough to pull everything out of course!

A drawstring bag does overtime duty as a laundry bag, library bag, overnight-at-Nan's bag, hand-me-downs storage and all those other annoying accumulations that don't look good on the shelf or aren't used that often.

A stack of cubes makes displaying the pretty, well, pretty. Try Howard's Storage World for similar. All images above by Getty Images.

Perfect for the projects above. Paint it, let the kids draw on it, cover it in chalkboard paint and turn it into a mobile craft station too! Trissa box, from $14.95, Ikea

I have one of these collapsible baskets in my living room. Holds more than you'd think! Vietnamese woven baskets, $24.95 for one large or a set of a small and medium, Little Gypsies

Huge! And lovely to look at. I'm going to grab one when I get my kitchen. NĂ„SUM basket with handles, $39, Ikea

I love these - very unique. You could leave as is, but they'd also look great painted a vibrant colour. Apple Tubs made from balsa wood, $9.95 (small), $19.95 (medium), $29.95 (large), Alfresco Emporium

I use mine for shopping but it looks so pretty propped against the hallstand, I often think it'd be fine staying their permanently and if so, could be put to good use as a toy depot. Plus, this one is the cheapest I've seen. French Market Bag, $19.95, Alfresco Emporium

It's a bugger finding nice ways to store everything. I have yet to see a real house that's got it totally covered. Even an interior stylist I know uses those bright plastic tubs in her living room for her daughter's toys. So do toys rule in your house? What's your secret storage device?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

starting solids: purees vs baby-led weaning

Goodness, time flies. Layla is six months old next week and I decided to try her on solids the other day - she keeps looking longingly at our food when we eat and has grabbed for Zak's sandwiches a few times, so that's my sign to start! I did the same with Zak and he took to it like hungry boys do to any kind of edible substance. Layla didn't quite get off to the same start - her reaction to her first mouthful was priceless, so I had to capture it on camera. Despite the dry retches, gags and horrifed faces, she kept it down and kept opening her mouth for more! The next was much better - we got smiles, no gags and she even grabbed the spoon off me and gave feeding herself a go. Too cute.

Just like we Zakky, I started on the usual organic rice cereal with tasty breast milk and I'll prob dig out the blender soon to start pureeing the carrots and pumpkin again once she's got used to thicker cereal. A bit of apple can come afterwards (always best to start on the savoury rather than the sweet) and then it's dabbling in everything else.

While this is a pretty stock standard way of introducing solids to your child, I was interested to hear from a friend of mine about a newish feeding fad called Baby-Led Weaning (or BLW). Basically this is letting your baby (from six months) feed themselves what you're eating. They're not exactly going to pick up a knife and fork and start hoeing into a steak, but they'd get it in finger-food form, suck and taste it, and when they're ready, they'll begin to bite into it and chew a little. No purees, no spoons, but lots of mess. I've never heard of this before and to be honest, I just can't imagine my little Layla sucking on a piece of meat as her first non-boob meal. Or feeding herself a carrot stick. But maybe in a month or so I can see her sucking on some melon or banana. But I think I need to introduce the first tastes the good old fashioned way first - via a mushy mix.

As always, there will be people who'll swear by it and those who pan it, so what are your thoughts? Has anyone out there has tried this? How did you go? What do you think about it vs traditional methods? Is it encouraging the child to put everything and anything in their mouths? You can find more about it here - the author of this site has also written a book on it. Would love to hear your thoughts as usual.

Monday, December 1, 2008

a family-friendly home

Love this Anthropologie chair

It can be tricky decorating your home when you have kids. There are those places that are overrun by the kids and their toys, then there are those that show no signs of children at all. I'd like to think I'm somewhere inbetween. I refuse to buy licensed products and I try to keep the amount of stuff in the living room to a minimum. And those toys that are on display are usually the nice ones - classic and wooden: wooden train set, wooden blocks etc. Of course it's not always like this, but I try. I love seeing signs of a child's life in pictures of people's homes and it really bugs me that a lot of mags overstyle the rooms to remove all this. But I found this place (via Design*Sponge) had perfect balance. Grown-up rooms with a few childish pieces that don't make you want to stick your hands to the sides of your legs so you don't break anything (I STILL do this while walking through the crockery departments in DJs and Myer. I'm a real clutz). Here are two simply stylish ideas to steal for your own common living zone.

1. Give them grown-up furniture with childlike style (above) Yes the couches are white (but I bet they're easily-removable slipcovers), but this vibrant chair certainly isn't. The style fits with the rest of the room, but the pattern is bright and cheery for little people and would easily disguise their grubby little marks they'd inevitably leave on it at some stage. It can be turned around to face the other couches when visitors call by, or left as is to create a kids zone within the same room. I love, love the little wooden car and trailer!

An Ikea Lack coffee table paired with a Lack side table makes one big happy table family. Images via Design*Sponge

2. Buy a mini version of your essentials I think I'll steal this idea for my own place: their own designated space within your own. Your coffee table doesn't become their scribble desk, but a side table pushed up against it does. This way, you get to leave your table styled how you like it, while they get to unleash their creative side in your line of sight. And it doesn't look odd at all!

You can see more of this cool place right here