Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Play Kitchen Series: Wooden Accessories

Other Posts from this Series:

Yesterday I featured Melissa & Doug wooden food sets, but today I want to acknowledge other companies that offer wooden food and kitchen accessories.

Three companies whose toys I'm impressed with are Plan Toys, Educo, and KidKraft.   HABA also has some great options.

Each company has a different range to their product line, but one way to compare them is to look at them side by side:


Plan Toys

Coffee & Tea Sets

Plan Toys


I love the little honey bear by Educo, 
the natural wood grain tea set by Plan, 
and the pretty pink Kidkraft toaster.  
(The Kidkraft mixer is pretty cute too!)
There are also mixers, plates, and food from these four companies on the pinterest board.
I'm sure I've overlooked some great companies, so I want to invite you to pin any sets that I've overlooked onto the public board linked below:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

6 Things I Took Away from the Sister Wives Finale

I know that not everyone loves the show Sister Wives, and I completely understand why it's so polarizing.  However I'm sucked in and watch every episode.

This season's finale showed the homebirth of Solomon - Wife #4's first baby with Kody - and there were a lot of positive things I took away from it:

1) Post Date - or Overdue - Delivery.
I know how stressful it can be to find yourself 2 weeks overdue.  I also know how annoying it can be for people to ask you every 30 seconds if you've had your baby yet.  While placenta function can deteriorate after 40 weeks, with proper monitoring most caregivers are comfortable going to 42 weeks.  Robyn was 2 weeks past her due date with Solomon, and both Janelle and Christine discussed going past their due date as well.  Public exposure to the idea that a 'due date' is an approximation and that the baby can come slightly before or after that date is a good reminder.

2) Natural Home Birth.
It's a given that home birth isn't for everyone, and I know first hand how amazing epidurals can be, however I liked Robyn's commentary that birthing this baby was what her body was built for.  I think it's a good reminder that natural birth is just that - natural, and while you might not choose it for your delivery, it's nice to hear if it IS something you want to pursue.

3) Quiet & Calm Delivery.
I'm amazed at how still and focused Robyn was during the delivery.  All too often we see the image of a sweating & screaming woman that isn't coping well with the pain.  Robyn was amazingly controlled and calm during the final pushes.

4) Delayed Cord Clamping.
Robyn and Kody decided to wait until after the placenta had been delivered before cutting the cord.  While this might not be something you're comfortable with, it does bring up a discussion topic for your birth plan:  When to cut the cord and do you want to donate or bank the cord blood?

Chris and I were torn on this issue.  On one hand we really wanted to donate Hannah's cord blood to the hospital's public bank in case another child needed the stem cells or in order to further research.  Both of those things are important to us.  However we also wanted to wait to cut the cord until it stopped pulsating to ensure that Hannah received that final iron rich blood volume.  There was some discussion of whether or not we could do both, but at the end of the day we were unable to donate because of the infection I developed during labor.  (hospital policy)

There is a new study by Swedish researchers that look at iron concentrations and rates of jaundice with delayed cord clamping.  If it's something you're interested in pursuing, I suggest reading this article:  LINK

5) Surrogacy
While how you grow your family and which fertility treatments you pursue is a deeply personal decision, I SO appreciate that Robyn and Meri discussed surrogacy during the episode - if only just to start the conversation within the general public and to open the door for some education on the topic.  I know what an amazing gesture it is to have someone offer to be your surrogate when dealing with infertility, and knowing that someone loves you enough to make such a sacrifice for you is heartwarming.  I admit that I cried during R&M's discussion.

6) Change of Heart
I remember how emotional Robyn's pregnancy announcement was - especially for Mariah (Meri's daughter who has watched her mom welcome many children from her sister wives, but has not carried another child to term).  It was honest, and real, and I thought that both Meri and Robyn did an amazing job of understanding Mariah's reaction.

I understand that pregnancy announcements can be tough to see and hear when infertility is involved.  It was nice to see how Mariah's emotions had developed over the course of the pregnancy though, and I'm pretty sure that somehow Mariah was even more excited than Meri to hold Solomon - and Meri was very excited about this baby, so that's saying a lot.

It was a good reminder that even though the initial announcement might sting, we're not upset about the baby, we LOVE babies!, we just sometimes need a minute to be sad for our situation, and it has nothing to do with how excited we are for your pregnancy.

Sister Wives is on TLC and the Season Three Finale aired on November 27, 2011.

Play Kitchen Series: Melissa & Doug Toys

Other Posts from this Series:

Melissa and Doug have a lot of great play food and accessory options and are some of the cutest sets on the market.  Below are some that you might consider adding to the play kitchens we discussed yesterday.

Melissa & Doug's Safety Statement


Melissa & Doug Kids Toy Shopping Cart - $70
Hannah loves rolling her {vintage from my childhood} shopping cart up and down the hallway.  Even better - I've taught her to 'clean up' her toys by putting them in the shopping cart and pushing the toys back to her room.  Best Trick Ever.  For that reason alone, the M&D shopping cart might just be worth it's weight in gold.   Unless you like picking up toys all day long...
Kitchen Accessory Set - $30
This 8 piece set includes a fry pan, a sauce pan and stock pot with lids, a wooden slotted spatula and wooden spoon, and an oven mitt.  Hannah is ALL about wearing oven mitts when we're cooking, and I like that the set is made of wood.  The red color might clash with some pink kitchen sets, but that might not be a big deal to you.

Basic Food Sets:

Food Groups - $20
WOOD  - Bread, Meat, Fruits&Veggies, and Dairy
are all featured in this 21 piece set.

Dry Goods Set - $20
WOOD  - This 9-piece wooden set of dry goods includes tuna, ketchup, spaghetti, soup, sugar, crackers, salad dressing, mustard and cereal.
Fridge Foods Set - $20
WOOD  - This 8-piece wooden set include orange juice, waffles, milk, ice cream, cheese, yogurt, frozen vegetables and butter.

Sandwich Making Set - $20
WOOD - This 16-piece set includes all the fixin's you'd need to make a sandwich and velcro to hold the pieces together.
Cutting Food Set - $20

Cutting Fruit Set - $20

WOOD - These sets feature Velcro-like closures that provide a nice 'crunch' sound when they're sliced.  These sets are a great way to introduce your child to fractions - the loaf is cut in fifths, the cantaloupe is cut in fourths, the tomato in thirds, the pear in half, etc.

Play-Time Produce Farm Fresh Vegetables - $20
Play-Time Produce Farm Fresh Fruit - $20

These are molded plastic and might have some questionable contents if your child mouths the toys.  The package is clearly marked 3+, so if your child is younger, you might look into a wooden alternative.

Specialty Food Sets:
Stir Fry Slicing Set - $20
Although this set includes a wooden spoon, knife and a large bowl which would be great additions to your kitchen, this set isn't food heavy.  However, if your family prepares stir fries often, your child might like to mimic that.
Grill Set - $20
If your child loves lacing beads, 
this set would be a great addition to your playroom. 
Sushi Slicing Play Set - $20
Pickled ginger and wasabi!  Swoon. 


I never realized how many dessert sets M&D carried.    For the sake of brevity (which is laughable considering how long this post already is) I'm only going to feature three sets that I might consider buying Hannah.

Scoop & Stack Ice Cream Cone Set - $30
This set would encourage eye hand coordination, balance,
and 'Clean Up!' as we put all the pieces back in the container.  
Wooden Doughnuts - $20
Six doughnuts and 12 toppings are included in this set.  I would prefer in the toppings could be used in matching games, but it appears that each topping is different.  However, there are not a many small pieces, so this might be a good set for younger children.  For these reasons, I'd rather buy the brownie or cookie sets.

Wooden Bake & Serve Brownies - $20
Alternatively, I think the brownie set could be used in numerous ways.  Six brownies and 18 toppings (six each of three patterns) are included, as well as a tray, box to contain the pieces, spatula, knife, and oven mitt. This set appears to be a great deal.

Slice and Bake Cookie Set - $20
12 cookies, 12 toppings, cookie sheet, spatula, knife, and oven mitt.  
Similar to the brownie set in it's usefulness and value.

Felt Food!

I'm a sucker for felt food.  It's cute, soft, relatively chemical free, and - perhaps most importantly - it doesn't hurt to step on when your child misses a piece during clean up.

Melissa and Doug currently carries three felt food sets:

Felt Play Food - $20
I love that it includes white and wheat bread, a pita pocket and a sub sandwich roll.

Cookie Decorating Set - $20
Perfect for a pretend version of Christmas sugar cookies.
Pizza Set - $20
With 42 pieces, this set might be a little much for your child to keep track of, but it would be a great set for fractions, and 'same vs different' exercises.  

All of these accessories and food sets, and MORE, 
will be included on a Pinterest board.  Just click the link below:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Maggie Gyllenhaal's Pregnancy Announcement

Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal and husband Peter Sarsgaard have announced the pregnancy of their second child.

Maggie is best known for 2002's Secretary and 2008's The Dark Night.  {IMDB and Wikipedia links.}

Sarsgaard is one of those actors whose name I can't connect to his face, but when I see a picture I think 'Ohhhhh - him!'.  I know him from 2005's Jarhead and 2009's An Education.   {IMDB and Wikipedia links.}

The couple is said to be 6 months pregnant.

Their first child, daughter Ramona Sarsgaard, was born on October 3, 2006.

[Photo - Yahoo Movies]
[Photo - PopSugar]

Play Kitchen Series: Wooden Kitchen Sets

Other Posts from this Series:

Portland Craigslist is going to issue a restraining order any day now because I am literally stalking the kid's page for wooden kitchen postings.  THREE listings have already been swiped between the "yep it's still available!" email and the time I get to their doorstep.  It's amazing what moms will go through for the perfect Christmas present, and Craigslist has been beyond annoying, but that rant is for another entry.

There are numerous options for wooden play kitchens at the $150 and under price point.

However, before I list those, I want to post a picture of the Pottery Barn Kids option which, at $747 for the three pieces, is ridiculously priced, but you have to admit that it IS pretty cute.

Other cute, but overpriced, sets include two from Land of Nod:

What's Cookin' Kitchen Appliances
$478 for the two pieces

Guess Who's Pretending to Come to Dinner
$199 each piece = $597 for the three piece set

Okay, moving on to viable options:

Ikea Duktig Mini Kitchen
IKEA has a sleek sink/stove/oven kitchen for $99 with an optional microwave hutch for $39.   Total is $140 (I included $2 towards lingonberry soda and a hot dog, but if you want the Swedish meatballs, it might cost more).

Educo - My Creative Cookery Club
I wasn't familiar with Educo toys before I started research for this blog, but there is something endearing about the little set with it's green accents.


Melissa & Doug Wooden Corner Kitchen
I'll talk more about Melissa & Doug later this week, however, their little corner kitchen deserves a spot in today's post.   I love all the storage space, the gender neutral colors, and the fact that the sink is removable for cleaning.  Fabulous.

Wonderworld Eco-Friendly Cooking Center
I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of this kitchen.  I don't like the boxy faucet and chunky knobs, but after reading an Amazon review that the blue and orange accents were foam, I crossed this set completely off my list.  Hannah is in this weird gnawing phase where even her flip flops aren't safe from her teething gums.  There is no way I'm spending $150-$170 on this kitchen for it to have bite marks the next day.

Maxim's Enterprise Kitchen Center 
This kitchen just doesn't do it for me.  I appreciate the gender neutral colors and I like the microwave, but I'm not a huge fan of the hanging bar above the sink (I'd prefer a shelf), and I don't like the fabric curtain in the storage area.  At $100-$130, I think you can find a better option, but to each their own.
TreeHaus Wooden Play kitchen
This kitchen is available on and in most Bed Bath and Beyond stores for $80-$100.  This is also the set that Chris and I purchased as back up in case craigslist doesn't come through for me.  I like the natural wood, and it doesn't look flimsy or cheap.  The down side is that I think I'd eventually like to add a fridge or pantry for extra storage, and it'd be hard to match the wood tone.

KIDKRAFT has the market cornered on wooden kitchen sets.   They have sets in all shapes, configurations and colors, and all are at fairly reasonable prices.  My favorite though, and the one that keeps getting 'stolen' from me on craigslist is:

The Pink Retro Kitchen and Refrigerator
I like the storage space under the sink, I love the refrigerator, and frankly it looks strikingly similar to the Pottery Barn set, but costs a fraction of the price.  

All these sets, and MORE, have been wrangled into one spot - a pinterest board.  You can visually compare models side by side and find links to purchase them once you've found your favorite. 
Just click the pinterest link below!


Today's post was the first in a week-long series all about 'green-ish' play kitchens and accessories.  Tomorrow I'll be taking a look at Melissa and Doug food sets.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

10 Things to Keep in your Guest Bathroom

The holidays are upon us, and with big meals and family get togethers comes an opportunity to really wow your guests.  A great place to start is by setting up a welcoming, functional, and prepared guest bathroom.  Here is the top ten things you should keep on hand in the guest bath:

1. Toilet Paper - and lots of it.  
Don't make your guests do the awkward shout through the door, or act like Elaine and beg if you 'have 1 square to spare'.  Keep a fully stocked roll on the dispenser and plenty more in a visible space.  If you're going to hide it in a drawer or cabinet, make sure ALL your drawers and cabinets are presentable - because chances are they're not going to find it on the first shot.

2. Feminine Hygiene Products.  
Please do your female guest a favor and have a variety of pads and tampons available under the sink - don't make them have to pull you aside and ask.  I recently had this happen at a friend's barbecue.  I couldn't find anything in any of her drawers.  Thankfully I had some in my diaper bag - in the living room.  Talk about a walk of shame.  A few weeks later I tried to mention it, as tactfully as possible, and she's since moved a portion of her stash from the bedroom and into the bathroom.

Big meals, especially stuffing with fresh herbs and corn based dishes, will leave someone begging for floss after dinner.  Leave a roll out on the counter, and make sure there is a trash can for them to dispose of it.

4. Hand Towels.
I know we all bust out our nicest towels when we have large groups of guests coming over, but make sure there is at least one hand towel that looks usable.  Maybe you slightly crumple the one closest to the sink, maybe you lay it nicely on the counter.  If I have to choose between wiping my wet hands off on my pants or messing up your pretty towel display - I'll choose the towels, but I'll feel slightly guilty about it.

5. Usable soap.
I love a beautifully milled bar of soap as much as the next girl, but some guests feel guilty about using your 'fancy' soap.  I like to leave out a pump dispenser of foaming hand soap in a seasonally appropriate scent - bright and fruity for summer, deeper and, perhaps, spicy for the winter.  Bath and body works always have a wide selection of scents to choose from.

6. Plunger.  
The only thing more mortifying than clogging the toilet at someone else's house is having to ask the host for help.  Make it easy for them to solve the problem themselves and stick a plunger behind the toilet.  Better prepared than embarrassed.

7. Air Freshener.  
This goes without saying.  You might have a bowl of potpourri setting out, but make sure to also give your guest the option of quickly spraying away any odors before rejoining the group.  This is especially true as your guest list gets longer and the chances for a bathroom line forming increases.

8. Contact Solution.  
Between allergies, overnight guests, and dry winter air, sometimes your just need contact solution.  If no one in your household wears contacts, you can pick up a travel sized bottle for under $2.  I promise you - when you need contact solution you need it immediately.  Your guest will thank you for being so prepared.

9. Stain Remover.  
I know I rarely bring a change of clothing when visiting friends, so if I spill something on myself, I'm going to be wearing it the rest of the night.  Keep a Tide pen or a bottle of club soda on hand.  Worst case scenario - have a men's and women's t-shirt ready in your closet that you can loan a guest.

10. An unexpected Pamper item.  
A nice box of tissue, a bottle of lotion, body spray {perfume-y for women, axe-y for men}, a bowl of mints - something small like this left on the counter is a nice way of letting your guests know that you're glad they came and want to make them feel welcome.
That's my list!  {Can you tell that 'Clean Guest Bath' is on my to-do list for tonight?  It's been a long time since it was freshened up for guests, but I plan to have all of the above ready for them on Thanksgiving morning.}

I hope you have a wonderful Holiday season, 
and a fabulous time with all of your guests. 
Even the ones that clog your toilet.

{ish happens.}

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Just Sent This Email To My Husband

Dearest Husband,

Zulily has Mia Bossi diaper bags

(the same diaper bag that Scott and Stacy had, 
the same bag that I've been COVETING for 5 years!) 

marked down 60%, and yet I'm not buying it because I've agreed to 

'60% off' you say?  
'Go ahead and buy it' you say.

Yeah, before you say that you should know that the 
retail price is $430 and it's on sale for $180.

Even after I use a 10% off code I found and apply my store credit, It's still $98.

Granted it's a real leather bag that is gorgeous and I love it...
But I'm going to refrain from buying it.
...because I've agreed to tighten it up.

I just wanted you to know that the consumer devil is sitting on my shoulder telling me to buy it, and I'm refraining.

and it's hard.
and I'd like some praise or else my resolve is going to falter.

Oh I want it so BAD!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Essie Can Be Fashionable Too!

Do you remember my 'I Can Be Fashionable' post?  It's the one where I took a look at the colors of fall.
I recently bought some Essie nail polish, and the color I'm sporting on my nails - Cocktail Bling - reminds me of that color palette.

So I thought I'd revisit the shades of fall, 
and see if I couldn't find even more 
Essie nail polish matches.

To Remind you:

Let's focus on the Women's colors 
(since Chris wouldn't even consider letting me paint his nails 'raspberry wine') 
and tackle them one by one.

This mustard-y yellow only has two Essie shade options 
 - and both are unavailable - 
so you'd have to look high and low for a salon that still had a bottle:
Shifting power - "a sizzling molten gold cream"
Gold Nuggets - "a glittery bold gold" glitter polish

Although Meet Me At Sunset is a little too orange to be a perfect match 
to emberglow, it IS available on for purchase.

Braziliant is a better match, but is no longer available online.


I love the name of my phlox match - Damsel in a Dress.  Fabulous!


Power Clutch is from the Fall 2011 Carry On collection.  
While it seems to be darker once applied, it does have the 
gray green undertones that speak to Cedar.

Another option is Sew Psyched, available online.


I think the closest match is Dive Bar (great name!) 
with it's 'mysterious blackest blue with shimmer'.
available online.


I couldn't decide, so it's a toss up between Mink Muffs:
I think I prefer Mink Muffs, but it would depend on the outfit.


A 'Rich Camel Beige' Case Study was also a part of the 
Fall '11 Carry On collection, and should still be easily found in {some} stores, 
althought it's not available on 


As I mentioned earlier, within the winter collection - in stores now - 
there is a beautiful color similar to Orchid hush called Cocktail Bling.  
It's described as "a precious pale gray pearl" and makes a beautiful manicure.


Within the winter collection - in stores now - there is a beautiful color 
similar to Quarry called School of Hard Rocks 
It's described as "a midnight malachite"


So that leaves just one - Honeysuckle.
You Choose - or nominate your own selection!

Guilty Pleasures - - - - - - - - - -  Movers and Shakers



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