Thursday, November 8, 2007

Store Review: Palumba

This week, there was another round of recalls of plastic toys -- and the moms who buy these toys are scared and outraged. Not only do these toys pose potential danger to our children, but when we buy plastic, we ,in some not so small way, exchange the future of our Earth for our child's fleeting enjoyment of the toy. Wouldn't it be better if toys were non-toxic, Earth-friendly, and made to last?

I was thinking of this last week when I did a search on organic toys, and found the website of Palumba. Palumba offers organic, green-built, handmade children's items created from ALL-NATURAL materials. Eighty-percent of their products are made in the USA, and the rest are crafted in Fair Trade Cooperatives. ALL of their toys are made without any toxins or unsafe parts, all are of heirloom quality and crafted with "green" technology. Many of their wooden items are made of dead or fallen trees and are protected with a beeswax finish. Smaller item are made of scraps (called fall-off) produced from their larger items. They do not like to waste ANYTHING - it is their "leave no footprint" philosophy which is reflected throughout their site. They even save sawdust to create their own own cherry-walnut glue.

Pictures of the Camden Rose (American) workshops where many Palumba products are made.

What I like best about the beautiful Palumba site is that it reminds me of my own childhood on a farm in Kentucky. I would play with my dolls on the banks of a small waterfall. I had sticks, stones, leaves, grass, water and clay -- what more did I need? I could use my imagination to transform these raw materials into castles or space ships or gourmet meals, and I learned an appreciation of nature that later led to my career in science.

I now live near a busy highway, and our village is not a safe place for my children to run free and play outdoors like I did. Lucky for us, Palumba offers simple, natural toys that bring nature indoors and mix well with a bit of imagination. For instance - Sticks! A muslin bag full of cherry wood sticks (6” long, and 3/4” wide and 3/4” thick) that are very smooth with rounded edges, and finished with beeswax. I ordered two sets of 20 ($12.99). One was for my home and one for a sweet little boy who is turning three this month. Well... they arrived today, and I have to order another set. I left them on the table and Merlin (almost 18 years old!) got into the first set. Arielle came along to play with him and build a house out of sticks for her pig puppet. Then Linnea crawled over and looked at the sticks enviously - where were the baby sticks? Sticks are non-toxic and perfectly fine for little ones, so I opened the second bag for her. Obviously, 20 wasn't enough!

I also ordered A Simple Strainer, the Good Honey Pot and Dipper (Army Bear loved this), and Cute Cherries. And, I have my eye on quite a few other items (I'll let you know about everything, of course).

In addition to their beautiful selection of hand-crafted toys, Palumba offers clothing items, bowls and spoons, watercolor supplies, carefully chosen books, handmade lyres and child-sized cleaning tools. Palumba has asked that I feature the following products.

Baby & Toddler Woolen Slippers ($29.99-$39.99 depending on size)

These colorful slippers are made of New Zealand wool and hand-crafted in Canada. The slippers come in a kaleidoscope of lovely and vibrant colors and are sure to stay on even energetic toddler feet. They even have adult sizes. It's an icy cold morning here, and I'm thinking I may need a pair to warm my own icy toes.

Skittles ($24.99 unfinished, $29.99 finished with bee's wax)

Skittles are made of all solid hardwood pieces. The game is similar to bowling, as the goal is to knock pins down with balls. There are nine plain pins, one striped headpin and two balls in a cloth bag and a link to instructions for many different games from ancient to modern. The hardwood bowling balls are choking-safe (if little ones are around) and have no finish, but you can shine them up with bee's wax polish. The game is just right for playing in a long hallway on an icy cold day when you can't go outdoors.

Treasure Chest ($29.99 or $32.99 with a set of jewels and wood coins)

We could have used a treasure chest like this one a few days ago when we were pirates sailing the living room floor in search of hidden treasure. It is constructed from solid cherry wood with formaldehyde-free leather and rivet detail and measures 8.5 W x 7H x 6D. They also offer a treasure map for serious treasure seekers.

Enter "sarastoybox" in the coupon code section of our checkout page for 5% off your purchase at Palumba. The code is valid until 12/10/07. Remember that the coupon name is all one word and does not contain an apostrophe.

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