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Happy Valentines Gifts for your Little Wee Hearts!
With Valentines Day coming around the corner, here are some little goodies
to show a little Ecoleeko love this holiday..

https://www.etsy.com/listing/206897695/valentines-day-recycled-gift-wrap-add-on?ref=shop_home_active_3

For your sweet baby or toddler play, a sweet heart fabric ball!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/218234957/eco-valentines-day-organic-heart-fabric?ref=shop_home_feat_2

Alittle sweetness on bunny's bum, you choose heart color!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/219182525/eco-organic-natural-bunny-valentines?ref=shop_home_feat_4

A perfect heart for small hands. A great soft heart toy to fit in a small pocket.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/176944366/eco-friendly-toy-plush-happy-heart?ref=shop_home_feat_1

Hope your Valentines day is full of love!


Richard Scarry DIY Birthday Party - Cake, Food and Game Ideas
For me, Cake and Food need to be easy and simple. Since it was a Richard Scarry car related birthday, I decided to find a car shaped cake pan to try. I had never used a shape pan, and was a bit reluctant, but I think it ended up just fine.


I found images I wanted to use for the wheels and people inside and laminated them so they wouldnt be ruined by the frosting, although I do think cardstock would hold up just fine for the party time.


I also made some gluten free cupcakes for some of our attendees.

The food was simple, snacks, drinks and just a couple of prep dishes.


Kids want finger foods and adults want something a little more, so it was a win win. And you can never go wrong with veggies and hummus! The other dishes were a veggie/ cream cheese bake, cut up watermelon, pretzels, a chex type mix I threw together, and baked spinach balls.



GoldBug Game

Another thing I made was a find and I spy type of game. Kids would get a card and have to go look for goldbug, since he hides everywhere in the Richard Scarry stories, I thought It'd be fun.

I chose somewhat easy locations, since most of the kids would be under 4. I enlarged a picture of goldbug and printed him out a couple of times. I then laminated him and stuck him in the designated spaces. In the pond..


On the tree..


 In the garden..


The kids loved it and it was super easy to do.

Overall, the Richard Scarry party was a success. With the amount of online and book resources, it is nice and easy to find images and materials you can use. 
Everyone had a great time and it was a lot of fun to do!

Until next years party!..


Richard Scarry DIY Birthday Party - Busytown cardboard cars
Richard Scarry is known for his Busytown world, so we had to do something with cars..and what's not more fun than a bunch of cardboard boxes!



I first collected up a bunch of boxes and spend a night with an exacto blade and a RBusytown Cars book. I found the cars I wanted and went to work. Taping and cutting till I had somewhat of the shapes I wanted. I then painted, either by brush or spray all of the cars. 


This was no 1 night deal. I'd say over a course of a week, you could do it if you were determined, but it took me about a month off and on, working on it when I could.


After the cars were painted, I used a paint pen to draw any black details. I then used paper plates with colored paper and attached them onto the cardboard by making holes in the cardboard and inserting metal bendable fasteners.


The cars would then just need suspender type ribbon to hold the cars on. I made some holes and used some ribbon role I had and just cut and knotted. I also taped a few so they wouldn't come loose. 



Some of the ones I made were Bananas Gorillas Canana, The Cheese car, The Tow Truck, Mr Frumbles Pickle car, The Boat car and Dingo Doggies Car.

The idea was to create a roadway of sorts throughout the backyard using signs and banners.

 

These I found online or created some signs for special areas, like a car wash with streamers and gas station.


The rest was open, ready to roam..




We also had a Mr Fix Its Repair Shop where some of the drivers could stop and fix anything that needed fixing.



Even when we had a break down, our tow was there to help!


All the kids loved the cars..I highly recommend!




Richard Scarry DIY Birthday party - Busytown Decorations, Favors
Now that we have our invites, It's onto Inside Decorations and Favors..

I love Decorations, But this time since the basis of the party will hopefully be outside running around in cardboard busy town cars, I would try and limit decorations to only around the table types. So I started with a banner.

I used an old "Things that Go" book that was ripped up, and cut out pennant triangles. I needed one for Every letter of Happy Birthday and his name. 


I found the letters in one of the Richard Scarry books that lists the alphabet. I enlarged them and printed them out 2"H. I cut them out with a die cutter and double stick taped them to the pennants. 
I then used some binding strip that I had laying around and sewed the pennants together to form a banner. Whalla!

The rest of my inside decorations would be online store bought Richard Scarry brand paper plates, napkins, hats and paper mats. The reusable cups, hats and mats could be taken by the attending children.




For the center of the tables, I wanted to use authentic vintage Richard Scarry toys. 
I found some of the figures on Ebay.com and found a great book, Richard Scarry's Best Make-It book (LINK)
I highly recommend it, there are TONS of cut out paper people, vehicles and toys.



In the Make It book, is a great pattern to make a Lowly Worm plush. There he is twirled around a party hat. I made him and added wire inside so we could make him bend. 


Besides, that, I just blew up some balloons, hung streamers and collected all our Richard Scarry books and made a nice table of them so kids or adults could look at.



Favors

For the party favors, I wanted them to be Richard Scarry related. I always love to give books, so I found a great lot of new books on Ebay.com. I knew about 8 kids were coming, so I got 10, just to be safe.I didn't want the subject matter to be too boyish, so I chose Shapes and opposites.


I then looked for some small figures, and found bananas Gorilla riding in his banana car in a huge lot at a great price.  The notepads I found at the online party store with the former decorations. I added a twist crayon for the older children.

The Thank you tagged I created by finding a vehicle I liked and cut and pasted text from a book till I had "Thank You for coming".

I found some Chinese take out style containers in blue, so I filled them up with goodies and also included a snack, older kids got gummies, younger received the crackers.
I wrapped the books and attached tags for everyone, and Whalla!

Next, Let's play Cars Busy Town Style!



Richard Scarry DIY Birthday Party - Invites
Richard Scarry, Who doesn't remember and love Richard Scarry!? 



My son loved and loves Richard Scarry books, any and all, so many amazing illustrations of a whole world! It was the perfect theme for his 3rd Birthday Party. He especially loved The Things that Go books he wrote. It seemed like a no brainer..we would go with that loosely and have to have cardboard cars to ride in!

But to start, Invites..

To start, I just started out finding images I liked, luckily for me I picked up some battered used ones at a thrift store, and could use them for images on decorations as well later.

I chose some vehicles and I liked the way he had a plane with a banner so I could use that to write his age. I would layout the vehicles to look like everyone was coming to the party.


I found in one of the books an alphabet, so I cut and pasted the letters I needed to make his name, the date and the word "celebrate".  
The images are all from various books and I added some words that I wanted as well. The party one is a great one, and even an image of Hilda Hippo carrying a cake. priceless!
I found the clock on a page and cut and pasted the hands to point to the party time.


I liked the idea of the invite folded like an accordion, so I printed them on longer paper, 16" wide. That way, the image could continue the whole invite. 
Overall, I think it looked colorful and fun!

Next Up, Decorations and Favors..




New Year, New Work..Custom For You!

As I scroll through images from past work, I realize I have lots of fun custom work I never really share. So I decided to post a couple of pictures of some custom work I've done. 

Custom work is great, It allows you to have control over exactly what you want and how you want it.  Through color, size and design, You can co-design something really special for your loved one or special friend.

I offer custom work through my Etsy shop and website. I've designed for businesses and for retail customers. I always enjoy trying to design different patterns and playing with new fabric combinations. 


The Lion is a favorite and I've had numerous customers want it larger. I've made it in 3 sizes. The largest was about 17" H stuffed with weighted arms and legs for Autism sensory work and play. 


I've made fun dinosaurs, This one being a T-Rex of course! It was fun to figure out a new pattern for a doll that stands up.



I've had many customers want an item I already make in another colorway. Here are some items I regularly offer but have made in natural, undyed fabrics.


Bunnies are always a favorite, and I'm always open to creating one in any colorway. Here's one in light purple, A customers daughters favorite color..


A customer wanted a group of Organic natural colored bunnies, so I added tan, brown and charcoal to her color choices.


Bath Mitts are a great gift. Here's a Panda Bear Bath Mitt commissioned for a panda bear loving new mom to be.


I've also done a couple of like styled dolls of Figures.


But the suit is the best... It was for a wedding. He was a Flower Guy (:

If you are interested in me creating something for you, please visit my website custom inquiries page here. I can create anything I already make in any colorway and can possibly create something specific you'd like.


Mr Lions Gingerbread House



Curious George DIY Birthday Party- Cake & Favors
Curious George, everyone's favorite monkey!

Yum..Cake!


So my son was 2, so I made him his own cake along with making more practical cupcakes. I found a nice figure online and wanted to use some type of fondant for decoration. It being my first time, it came out OK. I don't advise eating it, but It can be used as nice decor. To cut it, I used some cookie cutters and just a knife. The twirls were just wrapped around a straw then were slid off and set to dry.


I found some nice cupcake cups that matched the colors, I think they were under the theme "circus" . 


I made a small cake banner that said Happy 2nd Sebastian and used 2 balloon sticks to hold it up.


I also did something I found online. I pre-scooped ice cream into leftover cupcake cups. Then froze them on a cookie sheet. When it was time to serve, I just brought out the sheet and ice cream was all ready. Super easy!! (You can see them on the left lower side)


The ending to the party, was the fun favors.. 
In each one was-
  • A Curious George book ( you can find new sets of 6 paperback books on ebay)
  • 3 bean bags I made in the coordinating colors
  • A Curious George magnet I made (You can find other items on Etsy)
  • 2 lollipops with curious george hanging on like balloons (printed out george pic and taped to candy)
 It was a great party and fun to do! And my Mr was crazy sugar delirious after (:


Curious George DIY Birthday Party Ideas- Games
Curious George, everyone's favorite monkey! 

 
For my sons 2nd Birthday party, I wanted to plan out some games we could play, like mini golf, monkey knock down and a bean bag toss. So to start, I made a sign for each game. I placed it with a balloon so the kids could see where the start was. 


Monkey Toss.. 


For the Monkey Toss I sewed fabric bean bags and filled them with beans. The colors were to match the color scheme. The bean bag idea would also become favors for each child. 


We purchased a large piece of wood and cut out a couple of holes in different areas. I then found an image I liked and projected it into the wood. I painted the picture with acrylic and  latex paints we had and whalla..a Curious George bean bag toss! 


Just grab a basket, fill with bean bags and set up the sign..Easy! You could also make a smaller toss board like George's face or a specific character your child likes.

Monkey Mini Golf..


My son had just gotten a play set of golf clubs and really liked playing with it. I searched "Curious George coloring" in Google and loads of black and white clear line pictures came up. I chose my favorites and filled in the color in adobe photo shop. I then printed them to be the mini golf main pictures. My husband had foam board laying around so we backed them up. But you could use cardboard from a box. I am lucky to have a printer able to print good images, but all of these ideas can be printed at your local stationary store if you don't have access.


I already had balloon Sticks, they are sticks to attach a balloon, instead of using helium, you just blow them up yourself and stick the knot through the balloon stick top. Then you can use them anywhere, they stick easy in dirt or you can make a display with them. I used them for each hole.


I designed some mini golf tee number flags, printed them up and attached one to each balloon stick. I only did 1 through 5 numbers, we aren't doing serious golfing here! (; 


I dug out some random holes in the backyard and stuck the balloon stick by the hole. Then I placed a picture at each hole. 


We already had ping pong balls and some small golf clubs and Whalla..Monkey mini golf!



 Monkey Knock Down!


 Monkey knock down is easy. Bean bags and a couple of cans are all you need. 


I made some more bean bags with the same fabric from the bean bag toss. 




Then I saved some cans from the recycling.(These exact cans were organic cocoa powder cans). I wrapped them in a striped gift wrap and whalla! Knock down cans. I set them up on an old crate and the kids had a ball!


We also had dinosaur bones in the sandbox to find. At this age you don't really need much. Kids find all sorts of things to do outside at a party!

Next..Let them eat cake!!




Curious George DIY Birthday Party- Decorating and Food
Curious George, everyone's favorite monkey! 

With lots of free images online, pbs made my work easy.

Starting Out.. 


First I knew I wanted a Curious George somewhere, so I found a nice image of him flying with balloons. I printed it out 3 feet high and backed it. You can use cardboard or foam board, anything rigid. 
I them nailed it to the tree and added some balloon sticks to look like he was flying.(If you've never heard of balloon sticks, they are sticks that can hold balloons on the end, You can stick them anywhere and you don't need helium. Kids love to run around with them like magic wands, pretty cool!)

The Tables and Food...


Since it was an outside party, I decided to keep the decor simple and focus on the food, cake and games for the decorating. With balloons and some easy pre-made banners, it didn't take long to hang everything. For the tables, I wrapped some empty boxes in striped wrapping paper for height and used some basic gift bags to hold the balloons in place.

I printed out some pictures of George for the table along with tent cards for the food. I wanted to be safe just in case of allergies, etc. 


The food ideas were kept simple with small kids in mind. I started with popcorn, 2 different kinds, one plain just salted and another with cheese ( I just used a packet from an organic Annie's macaroni and cheese box, worked amazing!)


 Next was a crudites with cucumber, carrots and celery. I put a little salad dressing in each cup before I placed the vegetables for easy dipping. I used little cups for easy holding of little hands as well as keeping everyone's separate so it didn't get too messy or germy (: 


 Same for the fruit. I also put some images of the characters on die cuts and used 1/2 pop sicle sticks. Just chopped strawberries, blueberries and pineapple.


I did put a plate for adults as well so they could take what they wanted.


I made some easy pinwheel sandwiches. There are a lot of recipes online. I made 2 varieties just in case of allergies, one with cheese and one without.


Popcorn was also self serve.


 I had some crackers and cheese along with drink boxes for the kids, just easier than cups, (although I don't usually buy them). For the adults I had a range of drinks like Iced Tea and limeade with seltzer. 
I found yellow plates and cups and saw a very cute idea to put tape around the top of the cup and you place it upside down on the plate to make the Man with the Yellow hats hat, but it was just too windy to lay them out, so they stayed stacked (:


It worked really well using the cups and kept everyone relatively neat! You could also use divided plates and have the adults serve the kids.

Next..Let's play!!


Dyeing Eggs with Natural Food Dye for Easter..
It's Easter and it's time for my sons first time dyeing eggs!

  I had natural food grade dyes from making play dough in my previous post. The dyes work well and I've also used them for frosting so why not egg dyeing?


I first got together some basics, glass bowls filled 1/2 way with warm water and added 2 Tablespoons of vinegar. I then found an egg dipper I had (you can easily make one out of wire or just use a spoon). I also had a white crayon we could draw with to use as a resist.


We have our own chickens so I had eggs, most were brown and a couple white, but I suggest using white to show more color. The brown eggs, as you will see, tended to not show the pinks and yellows as much. 





I had 4 colors; red, blue, green and yellow. They are made by confectioncraft



I diluted the dye paste in the bowls and stirred them around. You can see the colors they became. The blue became a purplish color.


My son then dunked a few in. After a few minutes, I realized this would not be as fast as the dyes you get at a store. It would take some time and the eggs would have to sit a bit. So we went out and played for 1/2 hour.


After returning we found the above. the purple had dyed the eggs to almost a grayish purple, which I though was amazing. The yellow did well on the white egg. The reds hardly did anything. It gave a slight hue to the brown egg, but I am thinking a white egg would do much better.


After some re-dipping we concluded with the above eggs. A nice subtle range of natural earthy colors.


You can see how each is slightly different.


We will have fun hiding and eating them!


Curious George DIY Birthday Party- Invitations
Curious George, everyone's favorite monkey! 

Well he is definitely my sons and for a 2 year old boy, he is a perfect birthday theme! My son loves the Curious George show on PBS every morning so this was a great choice.

With lots of free images online, PBS made my work easy. I first thought up what i wanted to do at the party them made a list of everything I would need to design such as the invitation, signs for any games, favor tags, a banner, etc. I started with the invites..

Invitations.. 


To start with the Invite, I found an image I liked with a birthday cake, seemed appropriate. I downloaded it and filled in the colors I wanted. I used adobe photoshop to design and add my sons name onto the cake. I filled in the rest with balloons and stripes and designed the front. The back would be mostly text and just a couple of images. 


I also used the Curious George head image for the address labels on the envelopes.



There are a ton of black n white images you can use to design your own invites. It's very easy and fun if you have access to an art program. If not, you can find many artists to help you on Etsy.

Next Post is Decorating and Food!


Tweet Tweet...Meet Bluebird and Robin Plush
Spring is Here!! Yeah!
So I wanted to introduce Robin and Bluebird to you..They've come to visit!


These Sweet Birds make a lovely addition to a natural Easter basket, Spring Celebration Table display or a nice gift for any bird lover. 

These birdies only need a cozy place and some love. They both would make a wonderful woodland nursery baby gift or fun for paired with a nice Robin or bluebird book making a great Waldorf and Montessori nature toy set!

Birds measure approx 7 1/4" long by 4 3/4" H by 4" W

You can see them on my Etsy Site


Montessori Reading For Little Ones Interview - Meet Pauline Meert


My little man has turned 2 and I've been finding great learning items for his play room. I am came across a shop on Etsy called ForLittleOnes. The shop had these wonderful book sets for young ones to start to learn reading, inspired by Montessori teaching.  


I choose the 8 Early Reader set, Bundle A and B. It comes with 8 books, each with cards.
I thought they were a perfect addition to any childs learning materials and thought they'd be great for my little man. 


The moment he opened the package, my son wanted to read them all. 

They are a perfect size for his little hands to hold. Each book comes with sight word cards tucked safely in the back. 



The pictures are very cute hand drawn images, easy for a child to identify and the words are nicely printed and written so that a child can understand and relate them to the picture.  



On each package, it explains a little about the Montessori method and how to use the books. Great Gifts!


I wanted to introduce the woman behind ForLittleOnes, Pauline Meert...

    Hi! I am Pauline from ForLittleOnes on etsy.com, a store dedicated to meeting the needs of children through Montessori materials, activities, books, and toys.


 Can you tell us a bit about Montessori teaching?
    Montessori education is the perfect mix of beauty, simplicity, and learning. A Montessori teacher is trained to guide children towards their full potential. This is done through a carefully prepared environment, by using cleverly designed materials, by fostering life long skills, and by offering each child a deep love for learning. Montessori education at its core thrives to respect and nurture each child’s dignity and uniqueness leading them towards their God given full potential. It is beautiful. I am currently doing my Montessori Masters and continually falling in love with the method. There is so much depth Maria Montessori’s work!


 What inspires you to create?
    The children in my classroom are very inspiring. By watching them and their needs I can see what materials would be helpful. They challenge me creatively. Other people, artists, friends, family, also inspire me. I love creating baby dolls for friends and family who are expecting. I find hobby stores to also be create places for inspiration, particularly during sales!



 How did you learn to create your items?
    I began by learning to sew from a wonderful teacher when I was 18. She was very patient, even when I wanted to create a full renaissance dress after 2 month of classes. She helped me and encouraged me. I only took classes for a little while and then went rogue making what I could and trying new things. Through my Montessori training I found many ideas of things to create and tried my hand at using various medias. I do a lot of trial and error!


 Have you always wanted to make and sell your creations?
    Not really. This all kind of happened. In high school I discovered that I loved to sew. When I began my Montessori training this love spread to creating materials and various trinkets for children. I enjoyed this and found a way to share it with others through Etsy. Etsy challenges me to create new materials. It also inspires me to be more creative. 



 

Can you share any new items coming out soon?
    At the moment I do not have a lot of new items in the works. I am working on my Masters and teaching full time which makes time disappear far too quickly. I do hope to make more books in the near future as well as more Saint Peg Dolls. Feel free to ask for a custom item though!
 

Where can your products be found?

    Currently my products are only available on etsy or if you come by my place!


    I can be found in a few different places-


    http://montessorigeek.blogspot.com/

    http://www.pinterest.com/MontessoriGeek/boards/


Thank You Pauline!
Sincerely, Sue

MiiniMoh - Handmade Wood Toys
Handmade and natural, Melody of Miinimoh makes adorable wood figures, stackers, sorting toy sets and more. 
I recently had the privilege to acquire some of Miinimoh fun items for my son. I chose the acorn sorting set, plus an additional pink bowl ( everyone needs a little pink!) and a rainbow ribbon ring.


My son had fun taking each bowl out of the package and got excited when he saw all the colorful wooden acorns. 





Who could resist such bright wonderful colors! Each bowl has 2 coordinating colored acorns that fit in each bowl. 




Great for color learning, sorting, counting, hide n seek and more. He also liked stacking all the bowls and of course, using the bowl to throw the acorns in the air.




The rainbow ring is a fun toy for running..oh yes, lots of running..


And running..




Did I say running?




He had a lot of fun holding it and making it swish in the air while he ran. The ring can also be used for imaginative play, counting, color learning and more.



Super cute safe and colorful toys! We are having fun with them and I know we will for years to come. You can too by visiting Minnimoh and Melody at her shop on Etsy.


How to get your Baby to Sleep - Book Recommendation
Short story- 

When my son was 5 months I met a woman in the produce section of my grocery store. Her son was around the same age and she started to talk about her sons sleeping. She said I had to get this book "Healthy Sleep, Happy Baby" by Marc Weissbluth. 

She swore by it, how great it was and how well it worked. She spoke about how her son went to sleep every night early and slept through till morning. At the time, I was very tired, as everyone who breastfeeds knows, sleep is a prized commodity. I decided to give it a try, and ordered a copy.

 

She was so right! We were putting our son, who was in his crib next to our bed at the time, to bed when we went to bed, like 9-10 pm. We just figured that was convenient for all. According to the book, and his age, we should try 5-6 pm!! I was like, WHAT? That's crazy sounding.  So we tried it. It took 3 nights of letting him cry for 5-10 minutes, then silence. Silence for 4-6 hours! I was amazed. 

Since then, we recommend this book to everyone we know who has a child. My son is now almost 2, and is a wonderful sleeper to this day. He still goes to bed early, at the latest 7-7:30pm and sleeps all night. 

I HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!! Try it, at the worst your child might sleep more! (:

You can purchase this book at various online and book stores. And if you don't mind used, try Ebay or Amazon!



Great FREE Ipad Apps for 1-3 year olds Preschool
Yes, I did it, got an ipad, and am now sucked into the app world. And now having an almost 2 year old, I am on the search for some great FREE apps, preferably ones with some creativity and some accent of learning. So I went on a search and after downloading and deleting and downloading and deleting, I now have compiled a short list of some of my and my sons favorites. None of these apps are gender specific, so they are great apps for your little girls too.

My first app choice is Endless Alphabet



I can't say enough great things about this one. It's a very cute and creatively designed app. Little monsters run the show. You choose a word, the word appears, they say it , they the monsters come parading out and scramble the letters out so your toddler can drag each letter to it's appropriate spot. Once your toddler touches a letter, it comes alive, saying the sound of the letter while animated until it is in it's letters spot in the word, the letter is then said, and it continues until the word is spelled out. They then all cheer and say the word. Then a short explanation of the word is played out with the monsters animated and the word is defined.

 The narrator is a woman, she's nice sounding and silly at times. The monsters are cute and non threatening. The words are various and interesting. My son started doing it at 1 1/2 and is not almost 2 and still LOVES it. And I swear he has learned letters through this app. I found him repeating the sounds of the letters at his wooden blocks and it is fun for him in the process. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

You can read more and find it on their site



Another fun app is Pepi Tree


We found the version for free during a promo, and I'm sure you can still find it, or at least the mini version for free. It's a super cute animated app that takes place in a tree. There are 5 different levels of the tree. The app opens to cheery music with a hooting owl, where your little one can touch the animals or insects that appear in the owls vision and then are dragged into the puzzle place of each object. Then you can scroll up to meet a fuzzy catepillar ready to eat. He eats a leaf with the help of your child then wraps into a cocoon and turns into a butterfly. Once you take his picture, you can let another eat a pear and it goes on to an apple and a plum. Super cute.. There are 3 more levels down below the owl, one where you feed a squirrel family, another where you can grow things and feed a porcupine with a crazy rabbit and the lowest, with a maze.

Each level has a cute music jingle, you can't help but hum, while it's played. The animals are silly and cute and my son really likes doing all the tasks. A nice nature addition to the apps.

You can read and find it on their site



They also do a Pepi Bath app, where a boy or girl needs to be cleaned, so there is a laundry side and a bathing side. You wash their clothes in a washing machine and hang them to dry, or you brush their teeth, wash their hands, comb their hair, etc. Very cute animation and easy to follow. Also available on their website

A great App company is Toca Boca


They make a lot of good apps. Some are just entertaining, others better in the learning department. Some are available free while others have a fee. They have Toca Kitchen or Toca Monsters, where your little ones can learn to choose food and cook it in different ways according to the animal or person eating. There is Toca Band where they can choose band members, make them sing in different ways and choose to create many different bands, all singing variations of the same song. Toca Hair Xmas is a small app letting them cut Santa or a Christmas Trees hair, yes a tree. You can decorate with ornaments, trim them up, change the color and more. And we have Toca Train, where your child can be a conductor, running a train, picking up customers, collecting and dropping off parcels and even sipping a drink while blowing the horn. Very cute.

Overall, all Toca Apps are very impressive with their animation and easiness of use. My son figured everything out very easily, which is important. No ads popping up or annoying banners. Great Overall Apps.

You can read more and find the app on their site

There are many more apps I could list but I'd start with the above if you want some nice fun ones with easy learning ability and great animation.  Also 2 to mention are the PBS has their own app and the WWF has a nice app

Happy Apping!!


DIY Easy Homemade Play Dough

So onward to my DIY Play dough experience! It's something I've wanted to try for a while, it is safe, all natural and I knew my son would love it.



Now that I had my coloring, I asked my friend who had given my son some home made play dough at a party for her recipe. It lasted months and was just perfect. She had a recipe she used from an old kids craft book and passed it on, (I don't know what book it's from) I used organic ingredients, cause that's what we use, but you can use whatever you usually use as well..

The recipe is-

5 cups of water
5 cups of flour
10 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups of salt
3 Tablespoons of cream of tartar 
Coloring- I used natural food derived dye (see previous post)
Large Pot- Preferably stainless or enamel cast iron
Wooden Utensil

Heat water and salt over low, stirring until dissolved. Add 10 Tablespoons of oil. Add Flour. Keep stirring consistently. This took some time to get it all integrated. I had to up my temperature on my stove to get it going faster, it depends on your stove. The dough will start to pull away from the edges when stirred. When it's not sticky between your fingers it's done. I found my dough had to really become almost a big ball until it wasn't sticky. Then let it cool slightly in the pan, scrape it out onto parchment or waxed paper with a little flour on it. Let it cool. 



Once just warm, I divided it into different balls so I could add my coloring. I took about 1/4 teaspoon size coloring gel and put it into the balls middle. I then hand kneaded it to get a consistent color.  And repeated that for all the colors. Then you can take some dough of different colors,  say yellow and blue and mix to make green, red and blue to make purple, etc.



It made alot of play dough! Maybe too much, but can you have too much? You can always put it in recycled jars, add a label or bow and give it away as gifts, party favors or host a play date and use it with other kids!


A "Single" size Version would be-

1 cup of water
1/2 cup salt
2 Tablespoons of Vegatable Oil
2 teaspoons of Cream of tartar
1 cup of flour
coloring
pot
wooden utensil






My son loves it. He points and says play dough play dough! Anything can be used to poke, prod or flatten play dough. Crayons, pencils, wooden blocks, small cars make cool treads, toys, fingers, noses...Or just squish it in your hand, make faces with it, roll it... It's all fun! It's a great home made toy that you know what's in it. 

You can also put food grade essential oils in your play dough for a nice smell. But I don't have any experience with that (I did read lavender oil can have some effect on small boy babies estrogen levels, so I would keep that at a minimum if used)

HAVE FUN!!




The Search for Natural Food Dye
My little man has become a toddler and it is time for play doh! A friend of mine gave me a wonderful recipe for playdoh, so I needed to find some natural food dye. Regular food dye is full of chemicals and I'd rather find an alternative that is safe should me little man decide he loves to eat play doh, yuck! 
After much research at my local stores and seeing that not many stores even carry any options, I looked online into various brands and reviews I only found a couple of brands and the main ones that I found didn't get great reviews.

So I kept searching online and came across a company- Confection Art Inc. They offer various sets and single colors of natural food colors. They have liquid, paste and powder. They also offer cool items like mica or gold to add to your baked goods, etc. As well as sugar sprinkles colored in their colors.

I opted for the paste, since it said you can get intense colors with them. The shipping was very reasonable and I received it within 5 days. With natural food dyes from spinach, cabbage, berries and tumeric, you can keep them in the fridge or freezer so they last longer, so I stuck in in the fridge to keep. 

I made the playdoh- super cool- recipe to post next.  I divided the dough once cooled and added the food coloring in. I used about a 1/2 of a 1/2 teaspoon, not much and came out with some great medium pastel colors. I then added a bit more and got some darker shades. I wasn't too picky on the colors, so I was happy with the results.(pictures to post in next post) The yellow, green looked great. The red comes out a bit more pink. The blue was basically purple although I hardly used any( you could probably use more and achieve a better blue), and over a week or two basically faded to be like a darker pink, but hey, its natural and my man doesn't really care (: As long as it can squish he's happy! And I'm happy too knowing it's super safe and all natural. You can also use it for cookies, baked goods, dyeing eggs and more!

  
I'm not endorsed by this company, just was happy with their product. Thanks!

Hop Hop Hop to Easter!
Easter is just around the corner!
Mr Hop A Long knows all too well and is ready to jump into your eco basket! Made of sift organic cotton and eco friendly materials, perfectly natural for your little one.

Ms. Hop A Long is ready as well!
They can introduce themselves here at my Etsy Shop..

Hop Hop Hop...



Joy of Handmade

On the first day of Christmas, My true love gave to me..
Snuggle cozy things for little boys three..
 

Cozy Balaclava Knit Hood from RetroJay

I got one for my son, and it is beautiful. I have mine in a cozy brown wool made to fit his head. Will be wonderful for snowy days!

Organic Newsboy Cap by LemonLaneOrganics
 Nice soft organic yarn, stretches nicely and looks super cute on my little man. He has one in green.

Cozy Fleece Heart Slippers by Scire4

These slippers are super adorable. My son started wearing them 2 weeks ago and they have become his day slippers. With a no skid bottom, he can walk with ease while keeping his toesies cozy warm.


All these featured items are items or variations of items I have for my little man!


FREE Snow Bear Finger Puppet with purchase
This Holiday Season, I am offering a little gift to shoppers who purchase $30 or more in my Etsy shop.

It's my new snuggly and cozy snow bear polar finger puppet!


Made with all organic cotton fabrics, snow bear is an all natural nice small gift or stocking stuffer for your little one this season!

Snow bear will automatically show up in your package with minimum purchase. FREE Promotion starts on November 23rd and runs up until December 18th. 

Snow bear is also available for sale in my ETSY shop should you fall in love! He is super cozy!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!


Artful Musician: Guy Gifts Covered

Wondering what to get your music loving guy this Holiday? 
Well look no further. 

Artful Musician has your answer.

Artfulmusicianny and  Artfulmusicianprtlnd are two shops that started as the brain children of Tom and Justin, two friends living on different coasts; one on the east, one on the west, both musicians, both artists.







Artfulmusicianny features polaroid transfer photography prints of musical equipment and music items created by Tom.
























Artfulmusicianprtlnd features collage prints and original altered instruments by Justin.
















All work in both shops are gallery quality, signed and stamped, printed on acid free papers and printed with archival inks.
 







Sometimes it's hard for us ladies to know what to choose for our guys. I asked Tom what we can learn from a him on buying for a guy?  "Purchasing a handmade gift is a great way to find a meaningful present this holiday, while supporting artists. Any guy into music would love to have their own music room or music corner in their house. Having a great piece of art can make that and create a great vibe in any space"


How do you know what to get? "You can go by the genre he is into, like rap, rock n roll, country, etc. You can also go by what instruments he may play, like drums, a bass, a guitar, a microphone for a singer and so forth."

Thanks Tom.

Visit ArtfulmusicianNY and ArtfulmusicianPRTLND on Etsy 
and find your guy a great gift!



4th Annual Salt Market October 20th 2012
 

This Saturday, come see Ecoleeko and 29 other great artists and artisans at the 4th Annual Salt Market in Syracuse NY. 
This years location is 401 N Salina Street in the Leabury Center.

Come see all the great vendors, eat great food and listen to live music! Support local art and get some great unique gifts off your list early!

For more info visit their facebook page-

Or their website and see what vendors will be attending-

See You there!



Eric Carle DIY Birthday Party Ideas- Doll Party favors
I found this great Eric Carle printed fabric, perfect for cutting into separate animals and making dolls out of. I purchased it on Etsy.com but you can also find his fabrics on the official Eric Carle website.



When I got the fabric, I cut out each individual animal, leaving about a 1/2" of white border for stitching. Each animal was about 5-7" long and 3-4" high, a great size! I then found some bright colored fabrics for the backs and cut them the same size. I stitched around the animals, following the printed animal design and left open a 2" area for stuffing. 



Then each was turned inside out, stuffed and hand sewn up. I made one for each child and a few for my son to play in his crib with, they are a good size for a toddlers hands. 



The fabric was great for both girls and boys. The animals were cats, frogs, ducks, dogs, bears, horses and birds to name a few. (* Please note the Eric Carle fabrics are for personal use only, and cannot be sold commercially) They were a big hit and fun to give! 



That completed the party favors! A balloon, bear mask, chunky crayons and an Eric Carle animal doll for each little one. To finish the bags, I made tags similar to the crayon tags on my computer, thanking everyone for coming and hand wrote everyones name. 



Next..What's a party without party hats and cupcake toppers!! 



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