Archive | 2010

Young, Hip, Impossible To Buy For? Hello Billy Would…

Haha…everything I’m not young and hip, although I think I’m pretty easy to buy for. We all have those wonderful people in our lives that are impossible to shop for because they can purchase high-end, very hip items themselves.  No I’m not talking about kids. Whether it’s grown nephews, nieces, siblings, child care providers, teachers, or friends. Well – I have the store for you.  Seriously, I’ve shopped there a few times, I’ve written about it a few times, and every time I see Billy Would’s new products I’m more convinced that this is the only store you need to find amazing gifts for those ‘hard to buy for’ people on your Christmas list. Another bonus is Billy Would is an online store so you don’t need to be local to enjoy Adea’s designs.

So many times it’s hard to classify a designer that produces jewelry or accessories so closely resembling art so I won’t label Adea – owner of Billy Would Designs. Her highly polished modern wood jewelry collection are sourced from reclaimed hardwoods that are clean and earthy in design – perfect for any person on your ‘tricky’ to buy for list. Hard to imagine these eco-friendly pieces were once defected wood or discarded furniture. My all time favorite design is her tree pendant. I gave this necklace to a very special friend for Christmas two years ago and she just loves it!

Crank up the cool factor and check out the Billy Would belt buckles made from throw away skateboards. All of these buckles are literally one of a kind and super cool you can see the layers of the skateboard when you turn the belt buckles on it’s side. I purchased one of these last week from Billy Would for the toughest person to buy for on my list. The story behind these accessories is guaranteed to wow any lucky recipient.  The finished product is also very contemporary and fresh – they really stand out with a pair of jeans on both men and women. Also a great price point at $35.  Best chance at finding these skateboard buckles before Christmas is if you’re local to Vancouver, is checking out the One Of A Kind Show in Vancouver this weekend. Billy Would is showing there with so many more talented artists, designers, craftspeople that are so inspiring and amazing.

My mom was with me when we checked out the Billy Would table last weekend and she thought the pendants and skateboard buckles were very cool and interesting too. So whatever the age, people just appreciate art and the stories behind them. This is such a trend with gift giving this Christmas and I’m so happy to write about these talented people. Thanks and happy holidays!

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This Christmas Think ‘Compliment’ Rather Than ‘Replace’

It’s so much easier sticking to the concept of ‘compliment’ gift giving for Christmas with my daughters as I know it gets tougher the older kids get…but the whole idea of ‘replacing’ everything with birthday or Christmas gifts is what adds to the over consumption we, as consumers, will be contributing to over these final few weeks of shopping. It starts with parents of course.  How many people do you know that ditched phones that worked great to purchase iphones or replace computers/laptops every year?  And we wonder why kids suffer from the same compulsion to have the latest and greatest?  Xbox, Wii, DSi, Playstation 3, and more…it’s literally ridiculous the options that children are requesting this year (including my sons!).  So although this concept is easier with my daughters – I’m trying to stick to ‘complimentary’ toys rather than ‘replacing’.  A few examples of this?  Little girls love their dolls –  why not purchase beautiful doll accessories or clothing rather than hunting for new dolls?  Back in April at Mommy Footprint, I was very excited to write about Bamboletta. I was able to buy two Bambolettas for my twins and I had patiently waited a year to finally purchase these wonderful dolls. I had spent hours researching the Bamboletta experience and have discovered a few very special shops that do very well selling doll accessories. You don’t need to own Bambolettas in order to order from these sites – they sell smaller clothing (12″) for more standard (plastic) dolls and (15″) for larger Waldorf dolls or American girls, etc. Here are my favorites…I’ve ordered from them all and love the customer service and imaginations of these very talented ladies!!

Reggies Dolls

Can I start off by saying that although I haven’t met Reggie personally, if you’ve dealt with her before or followed her fun ideas on her Facebook fan page – you would want to meet her in person and give her the biggest hug.  She is one of the sweetest, most generous, lovely people I’ve ever followed. I’m a huge fan of her spirit and shop called Reggies Dolls. Reggie makes a lot of the clothing that Bamboletta dolls are purchased wearing and also sells 12″ and 15″ clothing for dolls. I first purchased mermaid tails from Reggie shortly after receiving our Bambolettas because the girls always wanted mermaids. Well – voila…we got mermaids and didn’t have to settle for plastic Barbie mermaids because the tails are made from felt. I recently stayed up until 2am when Reggie sold a bunch of clothing at a discount with all proceeds going to her friend with cancer. There were a bunch of moms waiting for the clothing to go on sale thrilled that we could support such a great cause and pickup some of Reggie’s creations. One time dealing with Reggie and you’ll have a hard time ‘Mall’ shopping ever again!  Check out these mermaid tails and she included little veils and purses!

Amanda Cowell

I received a pair of cloth wings from Amanda last year that my girls just love. She was specializing in matching doll and little girl cloth wings that are so easy for young children slip on themselves. Now she’s hatched a new Etsy shop and is making matching capes for kids and their dolls. Plus, skinny jeans, leg warmers, and more for dolls that are wonderful! Her shop is now closed for Christmas, but bookmark her site for future gifts. Amanda’s creations have truly evolved into unique and magical items that will keep the interest alive in any child’s doll.  I’m mean really……leg warmers?  My girls would freak out for these and the matching cape or wing idea is very special.

Lovely Duds

I did purchase two slings for Christmas from Lovely Duds for my girls to tote around their dolls. The simpler version of the doll sling looked best for my girls because they are easily frustrated when they can’t navigate through instructions right away. But if you have a child that is patient checkout the ‘Just like mommy’ sling version – this style is adorable too! A great older sibling gift when there is a new baby and mom is using a sling.  Check out these doll slings styles from Lovely Duds:

Simple Sling 1

‘Just Like Mommy’ Sling Version 2

Fig & Me

Is it just my girls or are all children hoarders?  Give them a purse or bag and they walk around putting everything they can find in the bag. These specialty papoose style carriers are at the top of my list for the girls birthday in February. The talented owner is no longer accepting orders, but this site is very special and I need to experience the papoose magic. They are modeled after the ancient native American way of carrying babies…made from 100% cotton corduroy and cotton. My girls would love these for their 15″ Bambolettas….they would love the ability to walk around ‘hands free’ just like a busy mommy!

I hope these ideas help you with complimenting gift ideas for an already favorite toy. All of the talented shop owners featured in this article are either located in the US or Canada so based on where you live – your chances of having orders arrive in time for Christmas are still good!  Also, it just feels good to know where your consumer dollars are being spent…locally and with small business owners.

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Celebrating Teachers At Christmas

** Spoiler alert – my teacher gifts are outlined in case any are reading. **

Teachers are special people. The teachers in my children’s lives are beyond special..they have been extended family in my life for many years. That is how you know you’ve chosen the right school for your children. When walking through the doors of a school makes you feel like you’ve landed in a soft place and there will be no conflict or sadness – only happiness and support. I’ve often written about the magical preschool all of my children have attended. I’ve been a parent at this parent co-op for 6 consecutive years and this will be my final year there. Through those 6 years I’ve had friendships begin, friendships end, feelings of being judged, discovered I was having twins when my sons were ages 1 and 2, started a business with a huge learning curve and heavy workload, and so much more. The preschool journey has been filled with ups and downs, but the teachers have remained compassionate, loving, understanding, and kind to my entire family through this 6 year journey and have been my safe place to land when life has been kinda tough. So this year, I need to find the perfect Christmas gift that will explain how thankful I’ve been to have their guidance and support. I’m lucky that all three teachers are little bit like me: practical, love nature, are moms, enjoy warm beverages, and adore & respect the art of handmade.  While researching my own ideas for teacher gifts, I’ve come up with some very special gift ideas and wanted to share these little treasures.

Top contender: Eikcam

Bookmark eikcam’s Facebook page, Twitter account @eikcamdesign, because local artist Grace Lee is something special.  I first saw her ceramics last year and I’ve literally thought of nothing else when a poppy, bird nest, or dandelion image flits into my mind. One of her signature pieces are bud wall vases and they are just exquisite when you see them in person. Here is a link to the bird nest vases from Grace’s sold items – this is something I will always remember from our preschool. There is always one, two, three or more bird nests around the classroom with magnifying glasses for the children. I will always connect the teachers with bird nests so I though these vases would be a lovely gift. Also a double meaning behind the bud vase for a teacher is their view on the magic of a single flower. Preschool teachers fully understand the honor that is bestowed when a child beams up at them with a dandelion or weed they have picked. They view these as treasures and these little vases can help encase their latest gift.

Also from Grace are her ceramic bird ornaments. These ceramic birds are a wonderful Christmas gift for the tree but can also be used to decorate the house all year round. I’ve also seen these ornaments up close and they truly are beautiful ceramic decor for any occasion. They have the ‘swoon’ factor that we all love to hear when gift giving.

Personalized Birch Vase

I love these personalized birch vases as a teacher’s gift and the shop is located in the US. These birch vases can be engraved with a heart and maybe the word teacher inside ~ how unique and special! There are all different price points on these birch vases ranging from $12 – $35…guaranteed to be something original and will love to be used.

Knit Cozies

Apple cozies are brilliant as a teacher’s gift. They are practical, cute, and the when outfitted with an apple – just make you happy to see them. I recently came across knitted tea bag totes and for the tea drinking teachers at our school – these would be a great gift. It’s a way to keep their tea bags separate and you can stuff with a favorite blend and attach a little note. These knitted items are very special and something about hand-knit makes you think about Christmas.

Tea Towel

I have a growing fascination with beautiful tea towels. The towels that are crafted with certain fabric prints or screen printed are like adding a splash of art to any kitchen. A lovely organic cotton tea towel is also a gift most people won’t usually splurge on themselves. One of my Etsy favorites is Alison Tauber and I love these tea towels currently listed in her shop.

40 Reasons Why I Love You…

A very special item available at Green Planet Parties is the wooden notepad that has been hand-crafted and engraved with “40 Reasons Why I Love You…” Most classes have 20 children…why not purchase a notepad like this and have each of the children write down why they love their teacher? This notepad in particular is quite small which is good for two reasons: your child won’t need to dictate or write a novel and it’s a small keepsake that a teacher can tuck away to enjoy for many years without taking up much space.

Past gifts:

Group gifts for teachers are a wonderful way to give them something substantial and wonderful. They are usually more eco-friendly too because you are reducing the number of small trinkets the teacher’s will receive from each family. Collecting from an entire class is also less expensive for the families involved because small donations quickly adds up when lots of parents contribute. Last year I coordinated several group gifts for 3 of my children’s teachers and the class presented them with a family hand-stamped silver necklace. I have to say that the parents and teachers really loved these gifts. Especially because the names of their own children were stamped onto the necklaces and we also added the words family and love. Even a gift certificate to a gardening store, the Mall, or spa is a wonderful group effort for teacher’s gift ideas.

Whatever you do to honor your teachers this Christmas, ensure that you take the time to acknowledge and translate how much you appreciate and love the teachers in your life. When your children go off to school full days like my sons, you realize just how many hours they spend at school and I’m grateful for the care they receive while there. That for me is worth some extra attention at Christmas – what about you?

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A New Spin On Superhero Themed Gifts

I was inspired to write this post from the awesome ideas in the Cool Mom Picks holiday gift guide – they did such a great job in choosing original ideas for Superhero fans, without adding the usual plastic toy options. I’ve got some beautiful little nephews to buy for this Christmas who are very into Superheros so I wanted to highlight the CMP ideas plus a few of my own.

From the CMP guide….for the kid obsessed with super heroes

Personalized Cape

For the child that already has everything superhero – this personalized cape with their initial is awesome!

Personalized Adventure Story

I love the idea of personalizing an adventure story with your very own superhero.  I walked through the steps of setting up your superhero and their appearance…you can really get close with how the superhero looks by changing eye color, hair styles, etc.  So much fun and again, great gift idea for the little super hero fan that already has everything.

Superhero Mask and Cuffs

Green Planet Parties carries superhero themed lightening bolt arm cuffs and masks that are made 100% with felt and have large eye holes so the superheroes can see where they are flying!  These would compliment any capes or dress-up costumes and make the perfect stocking stuffer (size and price point). I love these so much because there isn’t any vinyl used to make them which make them a safe and fun alternative around the eyes and face.

Custom Reversible Superhero Capes

Yes I’m back to capes because we all know that kids love them. For the die hard Superman, Spiderman, Batman/girl child – The Cosmic Banana shop will nail it because kids will visually love them, but what’s great is they are hand-made in the US. I like them so much because the appliques are hand-stitched…not glued which means they will last a very long time. Check out the girlie superhero designs too!

Shutterfly Photo Books

Have you ever used the Shutterfly site to create family Photo Books?  I used to make one every year for my in-laws and parents each year as a Christmas gift….they loved them! A very special idea for your superhero fan would be to take a bunch of pictures with him/her dressed in their favourite ‘saving the world’ outfit and made a little story using Shutterfly. You can make your own story or talk about how much you love your superhero…any child would love this. My kids look through our Shutterfly photo books regularly and love the special captions that were personalized especially for them. Shutterfly is always good about having discounts and/or free shipping on their Christmas cards, calendars and photo books so always check out the home page for updates.

From having two boys I know there is magic to be found in believing in Superheroes. Great job to CMP and other talented artists for thinking out side the box and encouraging this wonderful world using earth friendlier Christmas ideas.

Related Articles:

Boys and Fun Alternatives to Electronics

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Harry Potter Magic

It may sound odd but I only discovered Harry Potter maybe 8 months ago. Funny, because the books and characters are now such a big part of my household. There’s been no looking back since reading the first of 7 novels with my boys. Why am I writing about it? Until my sons (ages six and eight) sat on either side of me listening to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, they had never been gripped by a novel. They loved their picture books when they were younger, but weren’t transfixed by books how I remember being as a child and it always worried me a bit. The Harry Potter books changed all that. To get them to listen to the first book, I promised they could watch the movie after we finished it. This tactic worked and 1/2 way through the book I don’t think they cared about the movie anymore. Each book in the series got better and by the time we got to Harry Potter 7 (Deathly Hallows), I couldn’t’ believe how addicted both myself, my husband and boys were. My 6 year old would beg to read more after already reading for hours at a time. It’s a good thing it was summer when we started the series because there weren’t any sports or homework interrupting us getting through all 7 books. It’s really one of the highlights from our summer and it was such an incredible experience to learn about the magic of Hogwarts and the characters together with my children.

I wanted to mention this series because it’s been such a wonderful journey for my entire family. I became even more bonded with my boys from discovering Harry Potter with them, learning and loving all the characters and of course the incredible author who has the best imagination on the planet. J.K. Rowling created a world where every child (or adult) can escape the stress from everyday life and float into a world where wizards, magic, and relationships develop into such an amazing place to visit. If you are looking for a Christmas gift and don’t know what to get a child….think about Harry Potter books. At one point in their lives, children will read a book from this series and think it’s amazing. Once you get to the books 4-7…they get very long. If you’re having a tough time getting through the books, we take the audio CD books from the library and listen to the narrated story in the car or instead of watching TV, which is brilliant too. The books – of course are best…but I’d prefer my kids listen to a narrated story than watch TV.

We went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I last night and it was really good. I like to think that the first part of this two part conclusion to Deathly Hallows was a special bonus for die hard fans that will have to say goodbye to the beloved main characters Ron, Harry, and Hermoine. Unlike the other movies, this one was mainly focused on these three and their lovely relationships. The quality of acting was so much higher than other Harry Potter movies – they’ve set quite the stage for the last movie Deathly Hallows part II. I just cannot wait to see how it all ends on the big screen.

I believe J.K. Rowling changed the way children think about reading. . . I know this has been the case at my house. Only since getting through the Harry Potter series is my older son now good with sitting down and reading other books on his own. I watched  J.K. Rowling’s interview with Oprah and one thing she mentioned really moved me and I thought it was worth repeating. In the last part of her interview with Oprah she shares that a girl popped up in front of her on the street and said “you are my childhood”. What an amazing thing to be told and I’m sure she is not the first or last to think this. Harry Potter will always be a wonderful memory for my children and as an adult it took me to a wonderful place to escape and bond with my sons. Ultimate magic – thank you JK Rowling and the Harry Potter empire for the truly magical world you created. There is nothing like the wizarding world and learning that love really is the most important thing of all.

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