Archive for the Children Tag

Comfort on the Go: SewnNatural

If it ever stops raining here in Ontario, I am confident that warm and sunny weather will finally make an appearance.  And with those longer, summery days come all kinds of wonderful outdoor activities for the whole family.   More road trips, more all-day bbq’s, more days at the beach, more long and lazy afternoons at the park… *ahhh… bliss…*

But wait! we interrupt this daydream to bring you: Reality!  Little persons like my own toddler sized munchkin still need to have a nap or two, often right when you want to be somewhere else.  One possible solution?  Napping on the go!  A little bit of comfort and routine can go a long way, and these great nap mats from SewnNatural can give a little one their own familiar spot to rest, no matter where the summer breeze takes you.

Lovely summer flowers for a girl on the go…

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All SewnNatural products are eco-friendly and organic, which is a great way to remind kids about protecting our earth!   The underside is made of durable denim, and the inside can be any of the beautiful and soft cotton prints.

 

What says earth-friendly better than trees?

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SewnNatural is an Ottawa based mother-daughter team who pair a love for sustainable and ethical products with a flair for fabrics that is not to be missed!  Beyond the sweet and useful nap mats, there are toys, mobiles, bedding, bibs, and even these fantastic car seat organizers:

 

If I had one of these, I have a feeling my car would look a little less like a rolling garage sale! (*hangs head in shame*)

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Oh, and last but definitely not least… they also have super-cute dresses like this one:

 

I don't know who is cuter, the model or the elephant!

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You can find out more about the ladies of SewnNatural by visiting Jen’s awesome blog, or by taking a few minutes to visit the Etsy shop (there are many, many great listings!)

Now, if we could just get some sunshine around here…

~Jennifer

Stuffies with a Story

As the parent of a toddler, it sometimes feels like I am living in the eye of a hurricane.  My girl is one pudgy-cheeked ball of motion, noise, and sometimes utter chaos.   So when bedtime arrives and she is feeling snuggly and quiet, my husband and I really soak up those moments!  Of course when a kiddo feels like cuddling there is nothing better than a special squishy friend, and these adorable buddies from Stephanimals are so cool that every kid is bound to love them.

Each one is handcrafted to be “Unique Like Nature”, and they even come with a soft story book that helps kids learn about the animal and their habitat!   The quiet moments are a great opportunity to talk with kids about things that are important to your family, and Stephanimals share stories of conservation and knowledge about the world’s critters.

 

This sweet duck would make a great Easter gift, don't you think?

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At the moment, my girl makes a "Roar" sound for almost every animal... perhaps she is trying to tell us she wants a lion?

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But wait!  It gets even better!  Stephanimals donates $2 from every single sale to charity, (in 2011 all funds raised will go to Nature Canada)  Awesome, right?  They don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk… and you can too!

 

Counting sheep never looked cuter!

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There are lots of different fabric choices for each animal, make sure you visit the Stephanimals site to see them all.   There’s also links to lots of eco-friendly groups and products, a fun page full of activity ideas, and an animal info section where curious minds can go to learn and explore!

~Remembering my special childhood bedtime buddy.  Her name was Ellie… she was an elephant.  Yes I know, the creative juices run deep in me, can’t you tell?
:-)  Jennifer

 

Feature Artist: Megan of NeededWanted.com

I discovered NeededWanted a little while ago, and fell in love with the idea of Megan’s custom neighbourhood street maps. Honestly, how fun to have your own local world to play with your cars and build Lego villages around?!

I Am Here play map by www.neededwanted.com - www.canadianhandmade.ca

Custom play map, designed to match any neighbourhood of your choice!

The NeededWanted play maps come in 3 sizes, with streets the perfect width for matchbox cars and hours of enjoyment. Now, as I investigated further, I realized there was much more to Megan and her products – there are also little custom-knitted monster critters, as well as her adorable little village pieces made out of cardboard and perfect for any kid to make their own!

Starter Home by neededwanted.com - www.canadianhandmade.ca

This "Starter Home" comes with the required suburban tree and can be decorated however your child would like!

I love the little Starter Home, and that it requires no glue/staples/adhesive of any kind. Your child can decorate however they’d like, play with it, then fold it up and put it away until next time! Beautifully simple.

Also? The little monster guy? Perfectly sized to live inside the Starter Home, or the Bungalow or the Barn that are also available!

Needless to say, I was intrigued so I contacted Megan and she graciously agreed to answer a few questions for us, to give us a little more insight into her product and her process.

Canadian+Handmade: What does the name of your site, NeededWanted, mean for you?
NeededWanted: If something is both needed and wanted it is often loved in return.

I wanted to to create an online store where each and every item meets the criteria of being needed and wanted by both a child and a parent. I wanted to have a store where people would fall in love with every creation.

 

C+H: What started the creative fire burning for you? Do you remember a particular moment, a favourite childhood activity, something you saw and wanted to recreate or improve upon?
NW: I grew up in a house where creativity was always encouraged. I was free to dream and create anything that I could think of, limited only by my imagination and creativity.

When I was maybe 9 I can remember creating elaborate things like boardgames and stationary. One particular item that I can remember creating was a set of stationary with hippos on it. When colouring in the purple hippos on each page I can remember wanting to make sure that they matched as best as they could. I wanted them to look like they had been professionally printed. When I had the full set all finished I decided that they needed to look like they came from a store. I went off to the kitchen to get some saran wrap and a thick peice of cardboard, laid the pages down on the cardboard and wrapped the saran wrap around them as tight as I could. I guess that even at the young age, of 9, I was destined and passionate about one day owning my own store.

 

C+H: What is the best (and worst, if you’d like to share!) part about owning your own business?
NW: The best part of owning my business is that I own it. I just love to create and having an outlet where I can share my creations with the world, and at the end of the day I get to make all the decisions is just so amazing to me.

The worst part of owning my business is that my business is me and if people don’t like what I create with it then they don’t like me. It is really hard sometimes to separate yourself from your business and not take everything too personally.

 

C+H: Where do you look for inspiration?
NW: When I create I always seem to start with the raw materials whether it be a ball of yarn, a roll of vinyl or a big sheet of cardboard. I often find myself staring at them almost like it is a challenge. “What can I make with this?”  Sometimes an idea comes right away and other times it can take weeks for the idea to percolate then all of a sudden in the middle of the night I need to start working.

 

C+H: What part of creating your pieces gives you the most joy and satisfaction?
NW: At first I thought that it would be finishing a piece that gives me the most satisfaction. Seeing the final product, the end result of all my hard work.  But when I really think about it, I would have to say it is more seeing it coming together, the stage where it is almost complete but not quite yet. That is when I get the most excited and I really start to get my creative juices going. It is when I know that I am almost finished yet it can still go so many ways.

 

C+H: What is it about your creations that sets you apart?
NW: My creations are just that.  Mine.  They are as unique and eclectic as I am.

 

C+H: Do you feel that living in Canada has influenced your work?
NW: I think that if I lived anywhere other than Canada, then I wouldn’t have the creative freedom that I do.  I also wouldn’t have the support of fellow Canadians, as nowhere else in the world supports each other quite like Canadians do.  I love my country.
I am here playmap by neededwanted.com - canadianhandmade.ca

Hours of fun, and easy to pack away when the cars (or the kids!) run out of gas!


 

C+H: What advice would you give someone who is just starting out selling their work?
NW: 1. Your time is worth more than you think. Don’t undervalue your work.

 

C+H: Who has provided you with inspiration or mentorship in terms of business or your creative journey?
NW: My husband is always my sounding board whether he realizes it or not. I don’t think that he is always listening to every detail that I tell him nor do I think that he needs to. Sometimes you need is to say your thoughts out loud to get the ball rolling or to find a solution to a problem.

 

C+H: Do you listen to music or have another way of getting “in the zone” when you create?
NW: I definitely have to be in the zone to work on anything creative. Unfortunately there is no trick or switch that I can flip to put me there, so it is important that when I am in that creative mood that I make the most of it and focus on my ideas and my creativity. A big cup of tea and some music for sure helps me stay in my creative head space.
When owning a business where everything is handmade and relies on you being creative, it is important that you don’t cross that line of trying to force ideas or creations. On the days that I am not feeling super creative, I work on the  other aspects of running the business. You have to know yourself. A poet can not be poetic everyday.

 

C+H: Do you have a favourite author or book?
NW: OK so here is the truth. I own a LOT of books. I love shopping for them. Every time that I go to the book store I spend hours picking out my selections. Often this selection process is based on the design and the feel of the book, rarely the content. I like the idea of books and the idea of reading books but I can never seem to slow myself down enough to get into a good book, but it is something that I have always wanted to do.

 

C+H: When you’re not creating, what is your favourite way to spend your time?
NW: I love spending time with my family. We are huge movie buffs.  When I am not creating or working on my business you can usually find me curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and a pair of knitting needles watching the latest addition to our movie collection.

 

C+H: And finally, Where can we find you online, just in case we missed you somewhere?
NW: I actually have two online store www.neededwanted.com and www.rethinkuseDESIGN.com
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If you made it this far, you’ve probably clicked over to NeededWanted and are already thinking about a little person in your life who would love a play map or a little house to decorate, or a monster to snuggle. We can help!

 

Megan has kindly offered a 10% discount to our readers – just enter code “canadianhandmade” when you place your first order on her site to claim your discount!

 

Thanks, Megan!

 

Cheers,
~Sarah
*All images courtesy of Megan at NeededWanted

Knittles: Warm Gear for the Young and Young at Heart

It is supposed to be relatively warm-ish in Ontario this week.   Everyone I know is pretty excited by the prospect of maybe seeing those temperatures climb into some positive digits, (so much so that my dear husband is already planning to dig the bbq out of the snow to have some steaks on Friday!).

Maybe it’s a bit of pessimism due to a long sleepless weekend with the toddler, but I can’t help reminding myself that we are not out of the wintery woods quite yet.  I expect that once this little warm spell passes, we will still have a few blasts of frigid arctic air to contend with before the *real* warm-up starts to happen.  So, instead of being sad, I have decided to celebrate our Canadian wintery-ness by sharing some sweet and pretty cold weather gear from Knittles.

Baby can look this adorable *and* have warm ears? Win-win!

Calgarians Mavis and Olga create these cozy and cute pieces, along with an occasional “guest designer” named Marcy.

Eeee! It's a Baby Beret!

What’s that you say? Adult sized ears have been known to get chilly as well?  Don’t worry, the Knittles crew have you covered (literally).

They call it a "wooly helmet"... it's like your personal armour against the icy air.

They also have a whole selection of neck warmers and scarves, some fingerless mittens, and even patterns for the crafty guy or gal who would rather DIY.

Visit Knittles at their Etsy shop, their icraft site, or follow along on Twitter.

Even if the weather is chilly outside, all Cupid needs is one of those precious little aviator hats!

Here’s hoping that your heart is warm with love on this Valentine’s Day.

~Jennifer

It’s a (very cute) bug party!

I love it when I get a chance to hear the story behind an artist’s work – in this case, Amanda of Small Box Design was inspired by a trip to Peru. Seeing children in the villages playing with vintage soapbox cars, riding and sitting on them, she decided she wanted to take a children’s stool design she’d made in the past and take it to the next level! Something functional, but also something a child would love.

And so, Creature Comforts was born.

Bumblebee trio by Creature Comforts - www.canadianhandmade.ca

What a great accent to a playroom or bedroom!

These adorable stools are so fun, and a great way to add a little personality to a child’s room or playspace. Also? They look like they might be a little more comfortable for the, um, more mature members of the family when they’re invited to the tea party. Those little plastic stools from the big blue and yellow store (coughIkeacough) are not conducive to a long leisurely “lunch” made in the “kitchen” with (plastic) “food” by the 5 year old. I speak from experience.

Amanda first ventured into the craft show scene at December’s Make It! show in Edmonton (how great is it that we have shows like Make It! that really support emerging artists! Love it!), but she’s already working on new concepts to include storage and mobility. I see wheels in the future. Also, maybe, a flower table? A girl can dream…

Caterpillar by Creature Comforts - www.canadianahandmade.ca

What a cutie pie (and the caterpillar is sweet, too!)

Bugs by Creature Comforts - www.canadianhandmade.ca

The whole set would be so colourful and fun in a garden theme playroom!

Amanda has been taking orders at shows and via email, but has recently launched her Etsy shop at Small Box Design. Don’t forget to check out the fly, he’s really cute… for a fly ;)

~Sarah

When Life Hands You Lemons: Make LemonPie!

Here at my house we are in the midst of a not-so-fun baby milestone.  My little girl is getting her first molar(s) and it is turning out to be a pretty difficult experience for all involved.  The poor kiddo is either whimpering in her sleep, sobbing in pain, or clinging on for soothing snuggles and cuddles.  We are doing our best using all the standard teething tips and tricks, and hopefully soon those sneaky teeth will come through and all will be well again.  In the meantime, anything that offers comfort to my little girl is golden in my books!  I think these adorable hug-able fleece pillow monsters from LemonPie are just the ticket.

Toothy the Hippo would be a perfectly squishy friend to help sooth a teething baby

Lobby the Lobster has cozy claws!

Chimpi is a great monkey friend, perfect for bedtime cuddles.

These pillow pals would be perfect for a kids bedroom, or playroom, or the living room for a fun-loving family!  I believe that every day should have smiles and snuggles, and these LemonPie monster creations supply plenty of both.   The pillows come in regular size (about 7″ x 7″) or large (about 9″ x 9″) if you want more squeezable fun.   Visit the Cargoh store or the Etsy shop to meet the rest of the LemonPie monster family.  Head to the blog , facebook, or twitter, and get to know Klaudea and Lawrence (aka: the LemonPie team).  There is even a giggle-worthy Monster’s Day Out video on YouTube!

Because everyone deserves the comfort of a warm, friendly hug… even if you aren’t busy growing molars!

~Jennifer

Good for the Soul (and the Soles!)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There are few things on this earth cuter than baby feet.  It’s undeniable.  Those pudgy little sausage toes, the delectable little soft roundness… I can’t get enough.  I just want to eat. them. up.

Since I clearly can’t do that (unless I want a very interesting call from child services), I must content myself with dressing those little toes in tiny adorable shoes.  Admittedly, due to their close relationship with baby feet, the shoes are also on the short list for cutest thing ever.    Right now I am loving these ones from Soft Soul Baby Shoes in Montreal.

Eeeee! The patch! on the one eye!

You can even get them personalized with your little munchkin’s name or initial, just to make them a little more special.

Choose your colours, add baby's personal details, and voila!

Or perhaps these are a bit more baby’s style:

Just right for the edgy, misunderstood pre-pre-pre-teen.

If you, like me, have spent countless hours trying to find warm boots that are suitable (read: soft soled) for a kiddo who is just learning to take those first brave toddling steps, look no further!

For the fashionista on the move!

I know I may have a bit of an obsession, but these are seriously cute, right?

Head to the Soft Soul website for more details, or you can also see the multitude of options (seriously: endless combinations!), at the Etsy shop.

~Jennifer

Love is in the air…

There’s just one month until Valentine’s Day – that Hallmark-branded day that’s supposed to remind us all to treasure the ones we love a little more. How about, this year, we all spread a little handmade love instead of buying those sad grocery store floral department roses, mmmkay?!

The lovely graphic prints from Rosy Designs are a great place to start. The print below is actually called “Love is in the air”!

Love is in the air by Rosy Designs - www.canadianhandmade.ca

Rosy Hung, the artist behind the adorable characters and hearts, lives and works in Vancouver. Her designs and illustrations are reminiscent of vintage children’s picture books, and have a really lovely esthetic for Valentine’s Day – innocent, joyful and full of love and hearts. This postcard collection (below) would be great for children to pass out to their friends at school, or to send a little collection off to Grandma and Grandpa, and the “9 Ways to Say I Love You” card can be a nice alternative to the sappy sentiments at the mall card shop.

Love + Hearts postcard collection by Rosy Design - www.canadianhandmade.ca

9 ways by Rosy Designs - www.canadianhandmade.ca

Do you have a favourite love song, maybe from the “first dance” or “first kiss” that reminds you of the early days with your loved one? Here’s my V-Day tip – the print below (appropriately called “Love Songs”) packaged up with a copy of the original album with “your” song on it. Valentine’s Day worthy, right? But don’t stop there! The prints on their own are gorgeous and creative, but when you add in the fact that Rosy will customize them for you, they jump up a few notches on the “perfect gift” scale. You can choose hair colour and style, skin tone as well as include a personalized message that she types on her typewriter and then digitally inserts them into the image. Brilliant!

Love Songs by Rosy Designs - www.canadianhandmade.ca

While we’re talking about love, Rosy has a really lovely selection of wedding-themed prints that are, once again, fully customizable. I love the Bride and Bridesmaids, as well as the happy couple prints (same sex couple options available too! I love Canada.)Bride and Bridesmaids by Rosy Designs - www.canadianhandmade.ca

You can find more (many more) of Rosy Designs in her Cargoh and Etsy shops, as well as keep in touch via Facebook, Twitter and her own website. Visiting RosyDesigns.com where I discovered she and her partner haverecently launched a new joint venture, which you can check out in their new Etsy shop, NicRo Designs.

Share the love,

~Sarah

Reach for the Top!

In less than two weeks my baby girl will be celebrating her first birthday.  In the midst of all those “how did my baby grow up so fast?” moments, I am planning a small but joyful little celebration fit for an energetic, cuddly, and all around amazing little girl.  Yes, I am admittedly biased, but I think that is my prerogative as her mother!  I have a plan for a couple of gifts (handmade, of course!), and intend to bake a delicious cake that I will hopefully manage to transform into a monkey.  But, as this is my first attempt at planning a birthday party for my very. own. child (eek!) there are many details that I haven’t ironed out quite yet.  One of those would be a topper for my hopefully magnificent monkey cake.  So off to the internet I went, and boy, did I hit the jackpot!  Lesley Wellington Cake Toppers (aka: The Cat’s Pajamas), are unique, fun, and super-cute.  Just right for any happy celebration you can possibly imagine.

When you find that perfect person, it's like a puzzle piece just fits!

How perfect to top off a delectable valentines day dessert!

Monkeys. Need I say more?

Lesley also has fabulous ornaments that will capture your heart and personality.  I know it’s a little early for holiday shopping (ok, a LOT early – our 2010 tree is still in our living room), but why not do it now while the holidays are fresh on your mind, and the storage boxes are still easy to reach!

This penguin is so cute, and you can customize it however you like!

Lesley sculpts her little creations from polymer clay at her home in Hamilton, Ontario.  She also welcomes custom work, just let her know what you are looking for, and she can make it happen!

You can learn more about Lesley on her website (it includes fun pictures and a blog), on facebook, or visit the Cat’s Pajamas Etsy shop to see the whole selection of toppers and ornaments.

Here’s to celebrations all year round!
~Jennifer

Keeping it Ethical, Organic and Canadian

Ah, mais oui. Il me fait du bon quand j’ai occasion de parler francais, et à Vancouver il y avait plusieurs vendeurs Québecois tellement doué. One of those vendors from the fair province of Québec was Oöm Ethikwear.

I’ll be honest, I fell in love with a little dress that is currently out of stock (but I’m keeping my eye on it, because there are certain little people who have birthdays coming up!), but the rest of their line intrigued me as well. Lovely designs, and the fabrics were gorgeously soft!

Amour by Oöm Ethikwear - www.canadianhandmade.ca

"L'amour ne se calcule pas"

Penseur by Oöm Ethikwear - www.canadianhandmade.ca

Penseur

Flamenco by Oöm Ethikwear - www.canadianhandmade.ca

Flamenco!

I love that their tagline is “Ethical Organic Canadian”… and they really do stand by their clothing. Not only are they made with organic and environmentally responsible fabrics (recycled cotton etc.), but Oöm offers a $5 gift card for every piece of clothing that the buyer returns to them at the end of it’s life cycle in their closet. This means that they carry the responsibility for their products and their impact on the environment right through it’s life span and ensure that the clothing is integrated back into the marketplace by donation or recycling. It’s also nice to know that since their inception in 2005 they have donated 1% of profits to several chosen charities. All around, the folks at Oöm seem like they’ve got a great attitude about working within, and for, their larger community and environment. Plus, they make really cute clothes!

Robe 60's by Oöm Ethikwear - www.canadianhandmade.ca

Robe 60's Dress

Astronaut by Oöm Ethikwear - www.canadianhandmade.ca

The "Astronaut"

Their children’s line (Bébé Oöm!) is really adorable – I love the superhero jammies, and the designs are young and hip (although I really don’t like that word. Hip. We need to think of another word that means the same thing!) Whatever word we use, any little one sporting Bébé Oöm will be just a little bit cuter than the generic-clad youngster nearby ;) The messages passed on through Oöm aren’t just in the fabric and the business, I also love the little taglines on the clothing – positive, reinforcing, something I’d be proud for my daughters to wear.

Hero by Oöm Ehikwear - www.canadianhandmade.ca

Superhero bébé!

Cleff by Oöm Ethikwear - www.canadianhandmade.ca

The key to my heart...

Souliers by Oöm Ethikwear - www.canadianhandmade.ca

"Mes souliers sont fait pour marcher et ils iront loin!"

You can find out more about Oöm on their website at www.oom.ca (mostly in French) and shop in their online boutique (which is bilingual). They are also on Facebook and Twitter, like everyone else these days :)

Enjoy,
~Sarah