Friday, 30 May 2014

Sorbet Wall Art Collection

Introducing the Sorbet Collection. Cheerful wall art in a white, dusty rose, peach and spearmint. 

Available on Madeit and Etsy.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Baby Play - Four Months Old

The baby in our house is four and a half months old and is getting to a responsive, smiling phase of life. While he is still to little to understand very much of what is going on around him, he does love company and short bursts of play time. Here are ten ways that we play that don't require special toys.

Lie Outside

Put the play mat or bouncinette outside whilst you hang the washing or do some weeding. Baby can enjoy playing in a new environment.


Baby loves your voice. Sing nursery rhymes, your favourite songs, nonsense, it doesn't matter. Bounce baby on your lap at the same time or gently move his arms or legs in time, so that he can have a mini workout.

Make Noisy Toys

Make some impromptu noisy toys using empty plastic bottles and a little rice or oats or beads or something similar. Or give baby some paper to crumple. Baby will love the different noises and enjoy looking at the movement as well.

Go For A Walk

Take baby out in the fresh air in the pusher or carrier. Walk to the park, to the shops, or just around. They'll love seeing all the colours and hearing the sounds, and if they're like my son, will enjoy the wind on them (my daughter hated wind!). And it's good for you too.


Cuddle. And look into each other's eyes. Just because you can.

Read Books

Go to the library and get some high contrast or bright board books that have only a couple of words on each page and read to baby. At this age, ones where babies can touch different textures or where you can make animal noises for them are fun.

Have A Bath Together

Run a deep bath and get in with baby. You can both splash around in warm water and enjoy some nice skin-to-skin contact time. Get someone to take the baby out of the bath, dry them and dress them afterwards to make it a bit easier for you.

Look In The Mirror

Baby isn't quite sure what a mirror is yet, but he knows that it is fun. Look in the mirror together. Baby will enjoy looking at himself in the mirror and seeing another Mum or Dad in the mirror as well.

Do Tummy Time

Putting baby on his tummy is good for his strength. Lie down next to him and show him toys, a mirror, and brightly coloured objects to keep him interested whilst he is getting stronger.


For every one of the above, talk about what you are doing, what baby is seeing, touching, hearing. Even when you are busy doing something else and not directly playing with your baby, talk to him about what you are doing to help him immerse himself in language.

What have I forgotten? In what ways do you play with your baby?

Friday, 23 May 2014

Materials and Techniques - 'Fiddle dee Dee'

So many crafts, so little time! I love finding out about what other people in the creative world are doing, so every second Friday I run a series of interviews about the materials and techniques that others use. Today I am talking with Deanna, who hand-stitches felt food and other toys for children. My three-year-old daughter, sitting on my lap as I type, says that we should get some of these, they look great. Deanna is based in Gainesville, Florida in the United States and her store is Fiddle dee Dee. She is a fellow EtsyKids team member.

 Please tell us a little about yourself. 

My husband and I have been married almost 31 years. We have two wonderful daughters (and two great sons-in-law). Our oldest daughter is expecting in early July – our first grandchild! We enjoy travelling, camping and home DIY. This year the DIY projects are taking most of our spare time – we’ve remodeled our kitchen and are now working on the first of two bathrooms. 

My daughters introduced me to Etsy. That’s when I found the felt food patterns and I knew I wanted to make some. Many of my patterns come from other Etsy sellers. I have modified a few of them, and I’ve also come up with some of my own. Now that our family is growing, I have another reason to continue making felt toys. It will be fun to have my own product testers!

What materials and techniques do you like to use? 

In my handmade shop, Fiddle dee Dee, I use a lot of felt. I discovered felt when I was looking for a project I could take with me on a long flight. I found out very quickly that wool blend is great to work with. It holds up better than the craft-store felt and comes in many more colours! I also use cotton for dolls and for the stamped bags I make for my packaging. Most of the felt food is hand-stitched while I watch TV in the evening. I always have several projects in progress, so I can pick which one I want to work on.

What challenges have you faced in the creative process? 

I have so many ideas for things I want to make, and not enough time to do it all; but my biggest challenge is the marketing. There are so many social media outlets! It’s been fun to get involved with some new people and shops on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Scheduling some of my promoting has also been a real timesaver. I’m also on several good Etsy teams – a great place to find help and support.

What is coming up next?

I recently started my own blog. It is a slow process, because of time constraints, and because the writing doesn’t come easy. I’ve also wanted to open a second shop for a while. I am happy to say that I opened my supply shop, Busy Little Bird, in late March, and I’m looking forward to expanding it over the next few months!

After my husband retires, we’re planning to take some longer trips. Many to visit the grandchildren, I’m sure! I’ll have plenty of time for sewing and working on my shops. No matter what, I know I’ll always be busy!

And some coupon codes for you!

At Fiddle dee Dee, use coupon code FELTFUN15 for 15% off any order.
At Busy Little Bird, use coupon code BUSYBIRD for 10% off any order.

All images provided by Deanna of Fiddle Dee Dee.

Did you enjoy this interview? Want to read some more? Check out the rest of the materials and techniques series. Or let me know if you would like to contribute.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Preschooler Play: Growing Peas

Miss 3 has her own garden bed, in which she has planted carrots and peas. The carrots she planted from seedlings, but she is growing the peas from seeds. For a child, growing from seeds can be a bit boring, since they can't see what is happening until the shoots break out above the soil. So on the same day that we planted the peas in the garden, we did a simple activity so that Miss 3 could watch her peas growing. You can do the same with any large seeds.

First, she put peas on a sheet of adhesive.

Then she folded two sheets of absorbent paper in half and lay them over the peas. Next, she squirted water onto the paper, so that it was wet, but not sodden.

Then we stuck the whole thing to the window. I put some painter's tape around the outside to keep it water tight (no need to top up the water). And we watched them grow. Look at the fascination in that little face! And she can touch them as they grow.

Miss 3 planted two different kinds of peas, onward and bantum (the bantum peas grew better). It took only three days for the first roots to form and we grew the peas for three weeks before we moved them to the garden.

And surprisingly, the peas in the garden poke through at about the same rate as the shoots formed on the peas inside. We are having a very warm May.

Read up on more children's activities.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

This Is My Family

Back in August last year, I showed you our renovated study and said that I would tell you more about the tree later. Well, after more than half a year of nagging relatives for photos, here it is, our family tree. Five generations in photos. The leaves of the tree are thumb prints of our friends and family - if you are visiting our house, please do make sure that you add some leaves to the tree.

This is my husband's side of the family, all born in Australia. The blue arrows help you navigate who begat whom.. We are missing photos of both of his paternal great-grandfathers, both of whom appear to have disappeared before anyone caught them on film.

And my side of the family. We are missing my maternal great-grandfather's photo, but do have photos of my paternal great-great-grandparents to compensate. My maternal side are from Ireland, Jamaica and China, and paternal side are from Australia, England and Switzerland.

We have a photo at the bottom of us with Miss 3 (then nearly one year old). Need to update with the four of us - perhaps a yearly replacement photo as the children grow?

Friday, 9 May 2014

Materials and Techniques - 'Hearts Desire'

Here on the kaetoo Blog, I run a series of interviews talking to other crafters about how they do what they do. Today I am talking to Karen, who is based in East Douglas, MA in the United States. Karen and her husband create a wide range of wooden products for their store Hearts Desire, including home decor, perpetual calendars and kitchen accessories, but since Karen is a fellow EtsyKids team member, today she is talking about the toy side of their business.

Please tell us a little about yourself. 

Hearts Desire is a husband and wife team that began many years ago. When my husband and I first met we discovered that our talents really complemented each other. He was fascinated by my talent in painting, which I did a great deal of then, and he began presenting me with pieces of his own design carefully handcrafted from wood. I didn’t know it then but I quickly learned that he was the fussiest, most determined and creative woodworker I’ve ever met. I remember I kept telling him that my paintbrushes had found a true friend indeed. His craftsmanship is impeccable! 

Going through life, children, jobs, etc we tried our hand at selling our creations, but back then it was difficult to find a market for them. Wow! Have things changed since the wonderful world of the Internet! We have truly found a home on Etsy.
It’s rather ironic though, we didn’t open our shop to sell children’s toys. It wasn’t until one of our customers who purchased our toaster tongs, contacted us and suggested that we sell them for children, since they made great tools for picking things up, going on nature walks and developing eye-hand coordination. It was suggested that we look into the wonderful world of Waldorf inspired toys.

And hence, our Grabbies were introduced! They weren’t any different than our toaster tongs, yet giving the idea that they were great for children started our venture in toy making. We, as parents of five (now grown) children, were always interested in the classics. We reached back into our memories and started writing down all the toys we enjoyed as kids, and the toys that we enjoyed giving to our children. We found the list to be endless. So, with all these great ideas in mind, and a lot of encouragement from our friends, family and customers, The Toy Store was born. We have truly found our passion and our niche.

What materials and techniques do you like to use?

Wood of all varieties is most definitely our material of choice. We have used all types of hardwood and softwood from pine, to poplar, to maple and many more. My husband chooses the best wood for its application, whether it be toys or keepsake boxes. I have a passion for paper as well and enjoy creating greeting cards, photo albums and the like. As much as I would like to pursue that part of me a little more, for the time being, I’m having too much fun creating for children! 

What challenges have you faced in the creative process?

The number one challenge we face, and like so many others I’m sure, is TIME! There never seem to be enough hours in the day, or perhaps it’s just that our imaginations never stop! It’s difficult to stay focused sometimes wanting to create new product and keeping up with inventory. It’s a learning process for sure, and we strive to do the best we possibly can, while still enjoying what we do! 

What drives you to create? 

Inspiration is everywhere! It just all depends on your view and how you see and interpret things. We are constantly brainstorming, searching the internet, reading parenting magazines, and researching fun and unusual games and toys. Our eyes and ears are always open and we happily accept suggestions from anyone, shop owners and customers alike. Doing custom work is one of our specialties, so we’re very in tuned to our customers and their needs and desires. We really hate saying “No”.

What is coming up next? 

More toys!!! We’d like to eventually start offering more games and craft projects for the older child from ages seven and up. We already have some things in the works, and as time allows we will begin offering them in our shop. Always feel free to stop by and see what’s happening. The other plan I have is to really vamp up our website and be more committed to writing a Blog. But, as I said, time is our biggest challenge! ;)

All images provided by Karen of Hearts Desire.

Want more materials and techniques interviews? Read the archive. Or leave a comment if you want to contribute.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Friday, 2 May 2014

Forest Wall Art Collection

Introducing the Forest Collection. Beautiful wall art in white, pistachio, green and brown.


Available at the kaetoo Etsy and Madeit stores.