Friday, February 26, 2010

Rambling about the grandparent question...

I am often asked, "I love natural toys, but my parents shower the kids with made-in-China junk. How can I encourage grandparents, friend, aunts and uncles to buy safe, open-ended, natural toys?"

That's a tough one. Despite the fact that they read my blog, I have a few relatives who insist on buying the glittery books with made-in-China jewelry that they find on clearance racks. I subtly say. "Oh how pretty. Do you know jewelry included with books often contains deadly amounts of lead?" (barely an exaggeration there) and, guess what - the next holiday we get more.

I know a gift is a gift, not an obligation. I do appreciate the thought; however, it is not so much fun to tell the kids, "We can look at the book with mommy, but that pretty necklace needs to stay inside". I know that the little locket will end up in someone's mouth.

Gifts should bring smiles, not tears.

So I tried a new tactic. I decided the girls wanted a Plan City collection. And, when people asked what they are into I said "Oh, they really love Plan City right now. They can play all day and there's so many pieces they'd like to have." And then I send a link to KangarooBoo with our discount code. And, some relatives really liked that. I will be posting a review of Plan City if I can ever get a picture without extra clutter. As soon as they build their city, they fill it with finger puppets and blocks and other toys....

But, I got off the subject. I was planning to tell you about Aunt Linda and Whimsmoore.

Aunt Linda is a member of the Handmade Toy Alliance. I have a button on my blog that says "Help save handmade". This is the group that is working to modify the CPSIA. And, they are continuing to do a great job of making sure that handmade toys are available.

Aunt Linda's answer to the grandparent question is "The Elf Toy of the Month" Club from Whimsmoore. Grandparents can buy 12 month subscriptions for $29.95 a month, or they can buy months individually. Each month contains an original book about the elves of Glimmer Glen and a toy or an activity. I haven't seen these and I know nothing about quality, but I do know that Aunt Linda looks for the safest options for these toys. April includes a beautiful sugar Easter Egg. (ETA check out aunt Linda's comment for more info.)

I have other friends who create Amazon wish lists for each child.

If you have a great suggestion, post a comment. I'm sure everyone wants to know.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Free shipping at Down to Earth Toys

Down To Earth Toys is offering Sara's Toy Box readers free shipping on purchases over $10. Use code "SARA" at checkout. The code is good until 4/30/2010, so you can use it for Easter shopping.

Down to Earth Toys offers a large selection of toys made in the U.S.A. Personally, they are one of my favorites :0) because I know that everything they sell is natural and safe.

My latest favorite new arrival are the walnut castle blocks ($118.95 for the large set)

I think I'm going to have to start saving. Arielle just came over and said, "That looks like a fairy house!" I can just see little fairy dolls making a home with dandelion beds and daisy chairs.

Down to Earth also has a large selection of toys under $20. That's more budget friendly!

The Roy Toy earth Friendly Tree House($17.00) looks like fun. There are several sets of Roy Toys available. They are an updated and eco-friendly building toy similar to Lincoln Logs.

Our very favorite, of course, is the Organic Sock Monkey ($19.95) from Maggie's Organics. Linnea's monkey Poo-Poo is still her constant companion and still holding up to three-year-old love. I just took of Linnea and Poo-Poo watching "Super Why".

It looks like Poo-Poo needs another trip through the washer. Hanging out with Linnea isn't the cleanest job.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thoughts of spring...

We're expecting a nice snow storm tonight, but I'm tired of winter and it seems like it's time to think about spring.

Arielle is certainly dressed for it.

Her crown and wand are from Her Flying Horses. I love Her Flying Horses for reasonably priced, handmade dress-up clothes. The wands and crowns would make excellent Easter gifts or are a nice way to think spring. Wands are $14 for a set of two and crowns are $16.

We got these last Easter and they've stood up well to lots of play.

The bright flamenco dress was a gift from nice Uncle Jeremy who went to Spain.

While I'm talking spring, I promised to mention Violet's Peapod. Violet's Peapod offers made in the USA sleep sacks for babies.

Check out the pink pixies sleep sack ($53.95)

If only I had a baby... They come in sizes up to 24 months and there are several designs available.

I believe Arielle is playing Princess and the Pea. She's carefully placing a bead under a pile of play silks and then pretending to toss and turn. Too funny.

I've got some great Easter reviews lined up in the next few weeks. I hope spring comes to all of us soon.

Friday, February 19, 2010

PromiseBrand: All Natural Wood Toys

Sometimes, when I have a few minutes, I do web searches on "natural toys" and "toys made in the U.S.A." and, of course, I find some favorites like Down To Earth Toys and Palumba, but sometimes I find wonderful new toys to write about

PromiseBrand wooden toys are so gorgeous, I had to share. Look!

Alphabet blocks $68

These blocks are big - 3"x3"x3". what a wonderful idea for a new baby gift. Picture blocks are also available individually ($6.50 each), so you could spell out a new baby's name.

PromiseBrand toys are made of just three ingredients: wood, edible linseed oil and eco-friendly, non-toxic milk paint. Very natural and very safe. Everything is hand made by a family-owned business in Bend, Oregon.

In addition to the large alphabet blocks, PromiseBrand makes building blocks, small square blocks, child-sized rocking chairs, a giant bi-plane puzzle and tic-tac-toe game. You can also purchase milk paint for your own projects.

Building Blocks from reclaimed juniper ($45-$95)

Check out all the beautiful toys at PromiseBrand.

I am sorry that the blogs been slow. I appreciate those of you that keep coming back and would like to welcome our new readers. There are more reviews coming soon. We are moving soon and half the toys are packed. Once we're settled in, the blog will be back on a more regular basis.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Giveaway at Umm Qais

Charlotte, a reader and the mom who writes Umm Qais, asked if I would let you all know about her giveaway.

She has a Waldorf birthday ring that she is giving away. All you have to do is comment on her blog post to enter. She'll announce the winner on February 11.

Good luck! And while you are there, check out her blog. She writes about cooking, crafts and being a mom.