HOLZTIGER

Quality toys for quality play

 

 

The Holztiger brand, another wonderful example of German craftsmanship and passion for sustainable and eco-friendly manufacturing (in the past we also wrote about the eco-fashion label Macarons), creates large wood figures, which are great to grip for children's hands. They are individually handcrafted out of solid maple wood with softly round edges. All figures are painted by hand using nontoxic, water based paints and they are sealed with a nontoxic water lacquer to protect the toys from perspiration and saliva.

You can find all types of trees, animals from far away, animals which live on farms & safaris or under water to kings & castles and even an Noah’s Ark. Create fantasy worlds - over the years - complete with people, animals, trees and plants. Holztiger so far offers the following worlds: Wilderness Adventure, On The Farm,  Woods & Meadows, Water World, Age of the Dinosaurs, Proud Indians,  Fairy Tale World,  Heroic Knights and the Magic of Christmas. Its one of those items you will collect over the years and then be able to hand down to generations.

Usually the Holztiger's animals are reduced to their basic shapes to stimulate and encourage the children’s imagination through playing and learning. You will notice all their animals have friendly faces, which also does a great deal to accommodate the children's play instinct. Most figures are about 2.5 cm (1” inch) thick with a smooth feel to them, they are sturdy and perfect for every day play time. It’s a classic kids toy in Germany.

Recommended for kiddos ages 3+

In the USA you can find Holztiger @ Normaln&Jules, Amazon or FineWoodenToys.

HAND-PAINTED WOODEN DOLLS

Friendly faces from Donna Wilson

 

 

Donna Wilson, known for her quirky and colorful knitted lambswool creations, which can be a bit odd but charming at the same time (see below) now hand-paints wooden dolls as well. She is the winner of the "Designer of the Year" award at Elle Decoration's British Design Awards.

Inspired by her trips to Scandinavia and Japan, her wooden dolls (made of European oak) come with personality. Each hand-painted doll has its own name and embodies a certain person Donna has met and known in her life. They have friendly and curious faces and come in all different shapes and size. Their height varies between 22 - 29cm. Meet the entire family over at her website www.donnawilson.com.

Donna’s products sell in more than 25 countries by now but she is still determine to keep her production locally, in the UK, to support local craftsmanship. That should be supported!

Visit her store – they ship worldwide.

MADE BY MOSEY

Geometric aesthetics

designed and handmade in Melbourne, Australia

 

 

I discovered the “forever balloons” by MADE BY MOSEY and fell in love. Instantly. With those you can have a super pretty party decoration up all year, without getting tired of it. Then I went to her website and found those amazingly pretty feathers which you can buy on their own or already put together as a garland.

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The owner, Madeleine Sargent, creates definitely bold, colorful pieces perfect for a child’s room but can also appeal to grown ups. She created a series of fun & colorful fruit-inspired cushions, which are based on original patchwork designs, and then digitally printed on 100% white linen. The filling is an eco-based stuffing made of recycled PET bottles. And the best part is the cushions are all double-sided, i.e the print is the same on both sides.

Everything is handmade, so no two pieces are identical, and each is uniquely special. Don’t miss her arrow plushs – They are ready to take flight but do absolutely no damage!

You can visit the MADE BY MOSEY online store (ships worldwide) or visit any Australian stockists listed here

PS: Madeleine also produces custom pieces upon request for local and international customers and stores. Everything is designed and handmade in Melbourne, Australia.

The chickpea (aka garbanzo)

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Easiest homemade snack ever

 

 

If you would ask me about favorite foods, chickpeas are not one of them which come to my mind first. I like them. But that’s it. But roasted chickpeas like the recipe below? That’s a whole other story.

Literally I have to quadruple my batch and even that doesn’t last through the middle of the week. Its my daughter’s and husband’s favorite snack - by far. And it’s healthy, and it’s quick, and it’s so good. Take it to work/ school, top your salad, have an afternoon break, or a quick protein intake. Those little guys are a nutrient dense food and not only high in protein, but also in dietary fiber and minerals (like iron).

Tamari Roasted Chickpeas
10 oz (284g) cooked chickpeas (try to pick the organic ones, in a can or PBA-free bag. I love Jyoti Organics Garbanzo Beans)
2-3 tablespoons Tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
Rosemary is optional (our daughter likes it too, but some kids might prefer the non-herb version)

Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit (200 Celsius). Lay out parchment paper on an oven tray. Mix all ingredients in a big bowl and spread the chickpeas on to oven tray. Roast for about 15 min, stir a bit so the other side of the chickpeas can get a bit browned and crispy too. Bake for another 10 min. The liquid should have thickened and reduced, sticking to the beans. That’s it!

What’s your go-to-snack?

Baby Bites Sleeping Bags

Originality to an everyday product

 

 

Although we are almost out of the “sleeping bag age” and with an average night temperature of above 20 Celsius we – unfortunately – do not have the need for “Baby Bites” sleeping bags. But gosh, they are just too adorable not to share with you.

Baby Bites (from Spain) makes 2 types of sleeping bags: One for newborns in the shape of a star fish (comes in 3 colors). And for older babies the shark shape ones. They are so cozy looking and the color options are endless. Each of their sleeping bags are packed with so many little details and even the inside fabric varies from model to model.

But the shark’s purpose is not only to be a sleeping bag alone. It has endless usages such as a winter warmer to put inside the stroller to stay warm, a play mat for the bigger kids, a rug to take a little nap on, or clip to some a cloth hanger and use it to collect laundry….

All their products are hand made, with 100% cotton & local collaborations and lots of care.

Add some originality to your life! Visit their online shop, they ship worldwide!

Xavier Deneux – Master of graphic simplicity

Design taken to a next level

 

 

Our daughter is not even 2 years old but we still have “read” many books which are out there (German & English book market). There are lots of pretty children’s books out there. But when I discovered the books by Xavier Deneux, and with it a new world of design for children’s books, I was hooked!

His minimalistic designs and bold visual style make his books tasteful, clean and still very fun and colorful for kids. On top his books (from the line called ThouchThinkLearn) appeal to the sense of touch of little ones as he has a 3-dimensional raised image on one page and a cut out shape on the other page. So not only are the opposing pages connected thematically through meaning, color and or shape, but also literally connected as one page has a raised image, and the other one a cut out one and they fit perfectly together when the pages shut.

Let me give you an example (and see photo) - A moon rising into the night, while simultaneously a sun sets deep into the mirroring page. Or a raised picture of an elephant fits perfectly into a cut-out of a cloud, cleverly illustrating the concept of heavy versus light. So far his book on colors is still the most requested one by my daughter.

Love crisps designs, too? You can find this French illustrator’s books in your local bookstore or on Amazon.

PS: In his series of TouchThinkLearn he published 4 books: COLORS, OPOSSITES, NUMBERS and SHAPES.

GAIA

Handmade from vintage by refugee women

 

 

My dear friend Molly, who is behind the fabulous & colorful Instagram account @berryandthefox, introduced me to the products and creations from GAIA. Basically they transform vintage, sustainable & repurposed textiles into home & personal accessories and lately also into adorable baby products. All made by resettled refugee women in Dallas, Texas. Their mission is to empower marginalized women through employment, encouragement, and dedication for a long-term success in their own local communities.

Recently they launched a baby collection with bibs + booties + banners + diaper pouches. Most of the products (like bibs and booties) are reversible, so one side has a stain? No worries - just flip it over for a fresh new look. Their perfectly imperfect items bring color in your life but also do they represent hope and a future for women who are fighting for a better life.

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Paula Minnis is the founder of GAIA and while she was volunteering at the IRC (International Rescue Committee) she met Catherin, a Burmese refugee and mother of two. Paula combined her love of textiles with Catherin's artistry and GAIA was born in December 2009. It has since grown to employ seven additional refugee women living in Dallas – some Burmese, some Iraqi, come Congolese, but all beautiful women with a new life and a new opportunity to grow.

Look good. Do good. Visit their online shop here. Make sure to check out their collections for women too – Don’t miss their zipper pouches!

PS: I love how they chose their brand name GAIA – The word "GAIA" means "Goddess of the Earth" from the Greek mythology, so it is their way to honor all women, from the ones who craft GAIA products to those who purchase or receive them. Lovely, or?

Macarons – Tradition meets clever innovation, paired with design

MADE IN GERMANY

 

 

Today I would like to introduce you to a true family business where you can actually feel the passion & love for design and detail, which goes into each creation. And you can truly feel how much the family behind the brand macarons cares. Not only do they use organic and fair-trade materials, no they even develop all garments and materials themselves. Macarons stands for traditional craftsmanship and conscious manufacturing. Old school with modern, innovative and beautiful designs.

On my last trip home to Germany I went through the basement of my dads house. I found many cherished items and products from my childhood, from toys over decoration pieces to cloths. I realized that the real craftsmanship stuff my parents bought over thirty years ago are still in wonderful & great if not even perfect conditions. They survived my sister, my 2 half sisters and now are being passed on to our daughter. How wonderful is this? I knew it before that quality pays off but now I am actually seeing & living it and it gives it a whole new meaning.

To be clear this is not always the option for everyone, either due to financial, storage and/ or lifestyle (lots of moving) limitations but try it. If you see one of those piece you believe have generations-long-lasting-impact and survival qualities wait for it till you can afford it. Skip the few smaller other purchases you would have done over the next few weeks instead…

As quality has its price tag, nonetheless you can now take advantage of Macarons’ current sale. And if you wanna have one piece you hand down generations this is one of those brands.

HEICO lamps

Let the magic start…..

 

 

Growing up in Germany I had a goose lamp from HEICO. I was enlightened when I discovered that this pretty silver toadstool lamp is actually made by HEICO, too. This lamp is now in our daughter’s room, hopefully creating similar memories as the goose did for me.

What I love so much about their products: Well, as a mom I appreciate that they only use high quality and robust molded resin, toxin-free paints, that they have no visible seam either and they are completely made in Germany. As a kid I loved their fun, magical & whimsical designs and that they offer a peaceful glow by night.

If you want to add a little fairytale enchantment to your little one’s room you can shop HEICO/ EGMONT in Germany here, and in the UK + worldwide here.

Shooshoos

MADE IN CAPE TOWN

 

 

My sister’s best friend lives now in Namibia and gave my daughter a pair of shooshoos. They finally fit and we are over the moon to get to wear them. They are hand made in Cape Town, no-slip soles, easy on & off (and stay on!) and made with eco leathers - oh and they are adorable.

Growing baby feet are mostly cartilage - a supportive tissue, but still really easy to push around - that's why it's so important for the soles on baby's shoes to be soft and bendy. Shooshoos soles are flexible and soft and promote good balance. Great for little growing feet. The company started in 1996 in Cape Town with an idea and mission to teach people from disadvantaged communities to uplift themselves. What started as a small family operation is now a worldwide brand, available in more than 15 countries. Get your own pair on their website .

Rash Guard

VAMOS A LA PLAYA

 

 

Living in a tropical climate here in Panama, pool & beach life are constantly an option. A welcomed option. But you are extra worried about the sun and skin of little ones. You don’t only need a protection once in the pool but also for playing outside. You try as much as possible to stay away from the heavy heat during lunch hours but being so close to the equator (Panama is only 7 degrees away from it) its not an easy task with an active toddler around you.

I have done my fare share of research into the world of rash guards & swim shirts. As much as I love the cool shirts by surf brands (even J Crew has a cute one) BUT I noticed a big difference when I came across the shirt made by a French brand called HAMAC. Known for their reusable nappies & swim diapers they developed an awesome swim shirt. The fabric not only does it feel super soft and high quality but it’s also much thinner (100% Meryl® Microfiber – a bi-stretch fabric made of 86% polyamide and 14% Elastane) than all the other rash guards I have felt before. Therefore makes it so much easier to pull over kids heads (which can be a not so fun adventure for everyone out there who has done it before). And it has ZERO prints, slogans or logos. Just a plain, good shirt which feels really good. The girl version has some cute ruffles at the end of the sleeves, but very subtle. Oh, and did I mention it dries fast too. It has a UPF 50+ sun protection and on their website they state it blocks a minimum of 98% of UVB and 95% of UVA rays.

With our daughter approaching her second birthday I so wish they would offer bigger sizes. For now they cover 3-24 months. Ready for some fun in the sand? Visit Hamac’s website.

Maps

Play & Learn

 

 

Why not combine playing & learning? Check out these wonderful world maps for the little people to explore the big wide world. We personally have the felt map at home, which comes with a ton of felt animals, landmarks and vehicles for kids to place on the right countries & continents. They are beautifully embroidered and have lots of colors, which each kid loves.

But I also really like this magnetic one from Janod [ France ]. Its basically a huge magnetized atlas wall decal that comes with over 100 magnetic characters and iconic buildings. They are beautifully illustrated.

The other fun way to get the world into your home is a puzzle by Londji [ Spain ], which mixes vintage and modern styles in a very unique way. And it comes with a surprise: the globe part of the puzzle can be separated from the rest and is reversible! If we are in Rio de Janeiro we can assemble it from one side, and when in Barcelona from the other! Cute illustrated video to check out!

Encourage kids to understand the world and learn about animals, you can shop them online – Felt map, magnetic map & puzzle. FAO Schwarz has a similar one to the felt map but a bit smaller and cheaper.

Just love the versatility of each of those maps: decorative for any bedroom (well, if you have some wall space to spare), at the same time it is also an educational toy for learning & exploring the world and basically an arena to create kids own imaginative play...one large board game with no rules.