Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Shield, Sword and Sheath Make Jack a Happy Boy

I had to do some soul-searching this birthday season. We are a family who does not allow gun play, who do not watch violent or cruel movies who take spiders out of the house in jars. However, this year I had to come to terms with the fact that Jackson's active imagination often takes him to a land of dragons. To caves filled with trolls and towers with fair princesses to be rescued. What is a mama to do? Well this mama decided that if Sir Hits Things With Sticks A Lot was going to continue living up to his name he should have a proper stick. And not just a stick; a handmade, utterly beautiful sustainable set of knight's gear.

BirchLeaf Designs is more than a shop on Etsy. The owners of the shop are true artisans. On top of their extensive artistic talents they are truly dedicated to a sustainable lifestyle. Wendy and Mojo are raising their beautiful family in Northern Michigan off the grid. Their profile makes me sigh. This bit in particular:

"We live, work, home school, create, love and play nestled amongst the Hemlocks."

To say that I am enamored by both the dagger set and the BirchLeaf Designs family would be an understatement. Wendy was a dream to work with. Kind, understanding and dedicated to both her customers and her work.

But I could go on forever. Instead I will go on while showing you exactly what I am talking about.

Wendy was kind enough to include a little surprise- this beautiful hand-dyed play silk. I felt it would be the perfect wrapping for the dagger set. Indeed, the silk was lovely:

Though this picture shows Jackson in a serious mood he was thrilled and thoroughly surprised to see what we had gotten for him. "Now I can tame and defeat dragons with a real sword!" Of course we talked about never hitting anything alive and that if the dragons could be brought home, fed and trained that would be ideal.

Sir Hits Things With Sticks A Lot was quickly re-knighted Sir Hunter of the Deep Woods. After the brief ceremony it was time for his first quest:

The dagger is just beautiful. This is a toy that can and will be handed down, a true heirloom quality piece.

Of course we couldn't go long without that old sword through the head joke!

Sir Hunter of the Deep Woods had to take a brief rest. Dragon hunting is hard work, no doubt. This picture gives you a good idea as to the scale and look of the wooden shield and dagger. Again, amazing quality from talented artisans.

Since then Jackson and his dagger have been on many a quest. Just the other day they worked together to capture the elusive Three Headed Dragon from the Deepest Darkest Jungle. I look forward to watching their many more adventures and stretches of the imagination. If you are looking for the perfect gift for the dragon trainer or slayer in your life I highly recommend these tools of the trade. Made it the USA without the use of toxic chemicals, glues or varnishes this set is a testament to the beauty and safety of handmade toys.

Please visit their site to view all of their items. Here are a few of my favorite things:

A beautiful set of playsilks. $10 each and well worth it.

Set of four playclips. $26

Hand-carved wooden rice paddle. Simple and perfect. $18

Waldorf-inspired paint holders. These are a Sara favorite. $25

Wendy has been kind enough to offer our readers a coupon. The coupon is good for 10% off your purchase. Just convo Wendy and let her know that you saw her review on Sara's Toy Box. The coupon will be good for two weeks so HURRY!

Please visit BirchLeaf Designs and know that any purchase made in their shop will support an incredible family. Go handmade toys! Go Birch Leaf Designs!

You can also follow Birch Leaf Designs on their new blog by clicking here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Free game at Nico and Zoe

Earthday is over, but Nico & Zoe are still celebrating. Spend $25 and get a free Plan Toys recycling game;spend $50, and get a Recycling Game and a HUGE Plan Toys reusable bag.

Pamela says the game is simple, but really cool. They opened one up and sevden-year-old Zoe had to put it together and play it at least 5 times!

Nico & Zoe offers a selection of handmade toys, European toys and toys made in the U.S.A.. They have a great selection of toys under $10 and toys under $20.

I'm looking for travel toys right now, so I like this:

Zoe's Baby Magnetic Doll Set ($12.00)

I imagine it would keep little girls busy in the car. I also found harmonicas and lacing shapes.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dolly Runway - the dolls get a makeover!

It was a quiet day at my house and I thought "Hey, it's way past time to review Linnea's cool wooden cosmetic play set from Estia. We should have a fashion show."

Linnea received this kit around Easter and I have had it on my list to review ever since. It isn't that she hasn't played with it, but that she loves it so much that she tends to get very possessive if anyone else even looks at it -- just part of being three. I thought a fashion show might inspire some cooperative play.

This is the set. It is well-made and cute as can be. I wish I had a camera with me when Linnea first opened it. Her eyes just about popped out of her head. "OOOOOOOhhhhhhh!"

wooden cosmetic play set from Estia $65.99

The set is designed in Germany and made in Thailand out of rubberwood. It includes a blow dryer, handheld mirror, 3 lipsticks with a wooden holder (attached to the box), powder box with built-in mirror and powder puff, an eyeshadow compact with 6 eye shadow colors, an applicator and mirror, comb, hair roller (we use it as a brush), a perfume bottle, and jar of magic beauty cream. Everything is pretend and requires imagination for best results.

The beauty shop...

Close-up of Linnea's absolute favorite possession (other than PooPoo).

Lipstick in the holder.

But, as everyone who watches Project Runway knows, the models have to get dressed before they put on make-up. Our models are Cassie and a selection of very much loved Haba dolls: Finja, Souri, Paola, Lotta, Lilli and Nele. The Haba dolls are available at KangarooBoo.

Time for some pretend play! Our team of stylists dresses the dolls in their dolly finery.

Oh, nice hat Finja!

Time for hair. The comb has wide teeth and the brush has imaginary bristles, so the dolls can be brushed and brushed without their yarn hair being damaged.

A bit of powder for Lilli.

Cassie gets eye shadow.


Yes, please! Douse it on.

Almost ready, Cassie. Just a few touch-ups.

Arielle puts lipstick and eyeshadow on Souri.

Ready to go?

Uh, oh! Lilli has wet hair! Blow it dry. Now we are ready to go.

The fashion show:

A great time was had by all. The fashion show came to a sudden halt when we saw our little friend Sidney across the street. The dolls were abandoned as we ran out to enjoy the sun and play on Sidney's swing set.

The cosmetic kit also works wonderfully on little princesses, pretend fairies and other beauties in need of imaginary cosmetics. It is the perfect gift for the girly girl preschooler in your life.