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Royal Rugrats – Baking up some felt fun! {Giveaway & Promo}

January 10th, 2011

il_570xN.194590910 Welcome my friends to the wonderful and imaginative world of felt play food! Royal Rugrats had my daughter Lola and I baking up some serious fun with their beautiful felt kitchen utensils set. Lola is only 1 year old so she’s new to the baking scene, however that didn’t stop my little darling from diving in and exploring what each spatula and measuring spoon was like. She LOVED these and so do I!!

Royal Rugrats is a fantastically well stocked shop on Etsy featuring handmade felt play sets including things like vegetables, peanut butter sandwiches, strawberries, bacon and eggs, cookies, spaghetti and even sushi!! Lola received the precious kitchen utensils and some little sugar cookies designed for little fingers and big imaginations in mind. I fell immediately in love with the quality and beauty of each piece in her set, they are sewn with great care and I expect they will last Lola for many years of fun. I also loved the sizing of each piece in Lola’s set, they were perfect for her and I know any little child would be thrilled to have a play set of their own. It’s just the type of thing I would have squealed about when I was a kid. lolafeltutensils

Brooke is the owner and designer behind the Royal Rugrats products, she has a fashion design degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC and a merchandising degree from Oneonta State University. Brooke began her business creating these soft play foods and sets because she didn’t like the hard plastic kinds available in stores. Then she discovered the beauty of working with felt to create her designs and became hooked, she now runs Royal Rugrats Yummies full time and the response to her store has been incredible.

We’d like to invite you to bake up some Felt Fun of your very own. This type of play is so wonderful for children, it broadens their minds and helps their imaginations to dance with creativity. Lola and I will be play baking again today, why don’t you stop by Royal Rugrats and join us. – XO Daria

GIVEAWAY:
We think these soft felt foods are the cutest thing going, but you don’t have to take my word for it! Royal Rugrats is giving away 1 Kitchen Utensil set (value $22) to a viewer in Canada or the US. Here’s how to enter. You can do as many of these as you’d like. Each one is worth one entry into our giveaway:

•Leave a comment sharing with us your favorite felt set of play food from Royal Rugrats shops
•Follow @royalrugrats on Twitter and Tweet about our giveaway and promotion
•Like Royal Rugrats on Facebook, and post to let them know Boutique Cafe sent you there

Include a valid email address for our drawing. We’ll draw the winner from the comments and contact her via email. Deadline: January 23, 2010 (midnight). The winner will have 24 hours to claim her prize or a new winner will be chosen.

PROMOTION:
Additionally they are offering a SWEET AS CAN BE Promotion for our readers – For a shop promo on either her Website or ETSY shop they will give the
3 Valentines cookies to anyone who makes a purchase!! Simply purchase your order and put “Boutique Cafe Cookies” in the message area on either site and they will be added to the order for FREE! This is a limited time offer good until February 10th, 2011.

Rub-a-Dub-Dub, 3 Men in the Tub Review

September 7th, 2010

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USA and owned and operated by Tim and Connie Long. This couple is the perfect duo for wooden toys. Tim loves working with wood and has since his childhood and Connie has experience as a preschool teacher and understands the importance of play with learning. Every toy they make is nontoxic and safe for both children and the environment. Food-grade mineral oil is used for the finish on the toys and all paints are certified non-toxic. The Longs use scraps to make their toys and donate their scraps to a nearby school. They’ve also chosen a green energy option for their studio (and home) – wind power. The Longs have turned down many mass-production offers from China and know that parents are reassured when they know that Tim and Connie make the toys themselves. Isn’t that so great? When you purchase a toy from North Star Toys, you know that you’re child will be safe playing with it, and that it was sustainably built.

North Star Toys? It’s a small, family-run company that’s located in New Mexico, USA and owned and operated by Tim and Connie Long. This couple is the perfect duo for wooden toys. Tim loves working with wood and has since his childhood and Connie has experience as a preschool teacher and understands the importance of play with learning. Every toy they make is nontoxic and safe for both children and the environment. Food-grade mineral oil is used for the finish on the toys and all paints are certified non-toxic. The Longs use scraps to make their toys and donate their scraps to a nearby school. They’ve also chosen a green energy option for their studio (and home) – wind power. The Longs have turned down many mass-production offers from China and know that parents are reassured when they know that Tim and Connie make the toys themselves. Isn’t that so great? When you purchase a toy from North Star Toys, you know that you’re child will be safe playing with it, and that it was sustainably built.

3_men_medium I was excited to have stumbled upon this company (you can understand why) and thrilled when they agreed to send me their 3 Men in a Tub toy. Holly (my 13-month old) has really enjoyed playing with it. When the toy first arrived in the mail she’d hold one man in each hand and the third in her mouth. I love that this toy has helped her develop some fine motor skills. She can now place each man in each hole, right-side up, and take them out again. She’ll do this repeatedly as well as some other things with it, like stick them in her mouth and twist them around, or try to hold two men with one petite hand. My husband and I discovered that it’s a great quiet toy and it keeps children’s attention for an impressive amount of time. In fact, it’s a favorite not only of Holly’s, but also of some of the other children her age that we attend church with. There’s even enough men to share!

The price of this toy is outstanding – only $10! Wooden toys can be a bit on the pricey side because of course, they last so much longer and are more involved to produce. This toy has the quality and an incredibly affordable (dare I say cheap?) price tag. Holly’s received so much fun and learning from this toy and so will any other children I have. Plus, our 3 Men in the Tub toy is such high quality that I know I’ll be storing it away for when my children are grown and we have other infants visit or I have grandchildren.
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North Star Toys make a wonderful gift for baby showers, birthdays, Christmas… you name it! I love the Nativity they make and the Little Rollie Whale. The prices, the building process and the company just makes sense. These are fantastic toys. -Katie

CurlyQ Cuties for your little cutie!

October 8th, 2009

logobeveledI seriously think I have stumbled upon one of the greatest children’s gifts ever, at least if I go by how much George has loved his CurlyQ Cutie monster…and how often he’s asked to make another one…and how many times he’s made sure it was in the same room in which he’s playing. I’ve even seen my husband sort of hanging out with the newest addition to our family while watching a late-night movie. Yes, even I’ve succumbed to its charm and found myself giving it a squeeze or two just before I chuck it once more onto George’s bed.

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What’s the draw when it comes to CurlyQ Cuties? Could be how much fun it is to design your own creature online when you get to choose everything: body shape, body color, eye shape (even the number of eyes), eye color, mouth shape, belly shape (love the polka dots) and belly color. By the way, the online graphics don’t do the creature justice. I found myself checking out the cute collection shown at the top of the page for some good ideas on features. George had a grand ol’ time creating his monster and I enjoyed how quickly the creating arrived. And then to open the box and find the little monster so much cuter in person, not to mention so well made…it made both our days!

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George’s little orange CurlyQ Cutie monster, also named George, has been thrown, sat on, loved, forgotten, found and squeezed and looks no worse for the wear. I have a feeling this little guy will be with us for a long time. (Just as long as George takes George with him when he goes to college...) And at only about $30 (including shipping), this really is a truly unique, truly fabulous gift for children of any age. Heck, I’d even make one for my sister!

CurlyQ Cuties’ site says the Monster-Maker has 464,494,800 unique possibilities. It’s been a while since Calculus so I didn’t double check to make sure, but I believe them. Along with creating a truly unique product by changing out the features, your CurlyQ Cutie can be personalized with a name or message on the back. Each one has its own unique serial number and is handmade in the USA. Plus, if you don’t feel like using your imagination you can purchase one of their collectible monsters, which come pre-designed. OH! And I almost forgot to mention their super cute custom Fairy-Teeth. These are little tooth-like critters that come with a pocket on the back to hold a tooth or the Tooth Fairy’s spare change. So fun!

I kid you not, George asks me at least a couple times a week if he can make another monster. I kind of wish they had a frequent buyer program, and that’s saying a lot since I am NOT a big fan of stuffed animals. But I’d give away a basketful for a couple more of these CurlyQ Cuties!—Emily

Let’s begin with our pre-boarders…

December 14th, 2008

Yo BabyGeorge is the only boy out of four kids and third in birth order, so you’d think at the age of 3 and with no former instruction whatsoever, he wouldn’t know what to do with a Yo Baby Kick Flipper if one landed in his lap. One did, so to speak, and somehow that boy knew exactly what to do with it. He hopped right on his new Yo Baby Kick Flipper (Yo Baby for short) and started scooting his way around the carpet, and though he had a long way to go before becoming the next X Games champ, I could see how the Yo Baby was going to Yo Babyhelp him learn a little bit about skateboarding—without the risk of stitches or broken bones.

Designed by Bob Ellis, father of four and extreme sportsman, the Yo Baby from GarageCo Toys is a lightweight, wheel-free board that simulates skateboarding, surfing and even snowboarding. You can use it indoors or outdoors on surfaces like carpet, sand and grass (trust me when I say avoid newly mopped tile…). To see the Yo Baby in action you have to watch the video on GarageCo Toys’ site. (Click on Watch Video on the left-hand side of the homepage.)

Though it’s safe for pre-boarders age 1 1/2 on up, my almost 18-month-old thought the Yo Baby simply a cool place to sit and my three-year-old didn’t do much than step on one end and spin while holding on to the counter. Of course he did this over and over and over again and probably would have tried a few more tricks if someone had shown him how. Unfortunately he was born into a non-extreme-sport family unless you consider returning Blu-Ray DVDs to Netflix in record time an extreme sport! Luck for us GarageCo Toys now has a Trick Tips manual we can download. Now that he has the 180 spin down we’re going for the Yo Babypeanut flip.

At 21 inches long and only 5 1/4” inches wide, the Yo Baby from GarageCo Toys shows that really cool things—and really great exercise—comes in small packages. The Yo Baby is made in the USA with material that is 80% post consumer and cost around $12. Yes, I said $12. (If you’re not thinking perfect Christmas gift then you’re not thinking.) That’s a heck of a lot more affordable than the latest sports video game. Sure, you can snowboard with the Wii, but how long do you think that Wii board would last if ridden down a sandy hill? That’s what I thought.—Emily

** Giveaway! GarageCo Toys is giving away 10 Yo Baby Kick Flippers! Please leave a comment with a valid email address for our drawing. We’ll draw the winners from the comments and contact them via email. Deadline: December 22, 2008 (midnight). The winners will have 24 hours to claim their prize or a new winner will be chosen.

WOW Toys…because children really do need great toys

October 16th, 2008

WOW ToysI’m not saying children need a lot of playthings. For me, though you wouldn’t believe it by looking at our toy room, less is more when it comes to children’s toys. (I will dejunk that toy room if it kills me!) And if you subscribe to the “less is more” philosophy then you probably also believe in finding really great high-quality toys for your child. WOW Toys believes in this too.

WOW Toys has a product line of seriously fun (is that an oxymoron?) toys for children from 9 months to 5 years. From race cars to pony clubs to bath sets, their toys have lots of fun, interactive features without the need for batteries. That gets WOW Toys a gold star in my book! The designs are simple without crazy gadgetry and the need for instructions. The bright colors and chunkier style means WOW Toys are perfect for little eyes and hands.

WOW ToysWe received the Flip ‘n’ Tip Fred, a “friction-powered recycling truck with tip and release action.” Friction powered means you can rev the truck and let it go, all the while listening to realistic—for a three-year-old at least—engine sounds. I’ve never had as much fun recycling as my toddler is having with his Flip ‘n’ Tip Fred. He can take two of the three different recycle bins and use the bucket to tip them right into the back. Or he can watch the automatic waste crusher spin before he slides the side door open to empty the truck. The boy and girl “recycling team” often battle it out as to who gets to drive and who gets to stand on top with one of the bins. The sturdy carrying handle has made it easy for our toddler to recycle on the go.

We did have one slight problem due to my son over-revving the “engine.” Now it has a slight clicking sound when it revs and rolls, but hey, I’m sure there’s a recycling truck out in the real world with the same problem! Though the age says 1 1/2 years to 5 years, it’s more like 1 year and up. We’ve all fought over playing with Flip ‘n’ Tip Fred, from our one-year-old who’s carried the girl figure around for hours (half the time in her mouth—I supervised!) to my eight-year-old who could hardly wait until her brother fell asleep so she could play with it.

WOW ToysThere are so many great options from WOW Toys you’ll have a hard time deciding which one(s) to buy in support of your “less is more” New Year’s goal. (At least, that’s my New Year’s goal!) I’m loving Katie Camper’s Holiday Friends and Discovery Island! Though they are priced a bit higher than your typical Playskool- or Fisher-Price-type toy, they will get a lot more use and will last a heck of a lot longer. Think of it as an investment in your child’s imagination…and with WOW Toys (unlike our current economy) that investment will pay off handsomely. Note: Though the company is based in London you can find WOW Toys on Amazon.com.—Emily

Lilly Bean play food tempts little tastebuds

September 11th, 2008

Lilly BeanActually, it tempts grown-up tastebuds too. It’s a good thing I know better than to eat felt or my children’s Lilly Bean Market meal sets would have disappeared long ago. You might think I’m exaggerating a bit but once you lay eyes on the Deluxe Pizza or Market Fruit you’ll understand.

Lilly BeanLilly Bean Market was started by Hilary Seabolt, a mother who created her first “market-fresh” food when her four-year-old son’s stuffed animals needed something to eat. A cute little egg and pancake were soon followed by donuts, bacon, veggies and as they say, the rest is history. Hilary now creates her artisan designed wool felt play food for little ones everywhere. Our play kitchen now offers family and friends the Perfect Sandwich with a side of Market Fruit and a Super Sandwich Cookie for dessert. I’m thinking Christmas will be a great excuse to expand our menu with Lilly Bean’s new Deluxe Chocolate Strawberry Cake, Bag of Chips, and even Sushi.

Lilly BeanI love how Lilly Bean has encouraged my children’s creativity. Even I’m having fun “cooking” with these wonderful wool felt culinary confections. Can’t say the same for the Barbie kitchen gathering dust on the shelf! Lilly Bean Market artisan designed play food is sewn by a small group of Amish and a wonderful machine seamstress. The company is committed to “keeping the business in the US” and loves “knowing the people who help create such a beautiful product.” Yep, the company is just as sweet as its creations.—Emily

** Giveaway! Lilly Bean is giving away one Brown Bag Lunch set! Please leave a comment with a valid email address for our drawing. We’ll draw the winner from the comments and contact her via email. Deadline: September 19, 2008 (midnight). The winner will have 24 hours to claim her prize or a new winner will be chosen.

* Congratulations to David N., the winner of the Lilly Bean giveaway! Thank you to everyone who took the time to read the review and add a comment. Keep reading the Daily Dish for your chance to participate in more giveaways!

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