Thanks for reading! It’s been a great 2011 and we look forward to all that 2012 brings us. Wishing you love, happiness and peace in 2011! XOXO
It’s that time of year again… time for our annual Best of the Year lists on The Shopping Mama. We’ve reflected on the products we’ve tried, tested and abused and are sharing our very favorites. These are products we recommend without reservation, use often and generally really, really like. Here are The Shopping Mama’s Best of 2011 in Children’s Clothing, Shoes and Accessories – in other words, the goodies we stock in our children’s closets and dressers.
Favorite Clothes: Tea Collection. For the second year in a row, Tea Collection tops our Best of 2011 children’s clothing list. There’s just no denying the style, quality or downright perfection of the clothes. We are particularly fond of the Wardrobe Sets – a great way to mix and match and get more wardrobe bang for your buck.
Basics with Flair: American Apparel. When we first checked out American Apparel for Kids & Babies, we expected to find affordable basics in solid colors – a practical find, but nothing particularly exciting. We were wrong. The collection offers patterns, fun and loads of possibilities all at a very affordable price tag.
Best Girly Girl: Kangacoo Designs. Ruffles, pinks and prettiness – oh my! Kangacoo Designs clothing offers a distinct aesthetic and look you won’t find anywhere else. The Footless Ruffle Tights and Summer Tank and Shorts sets are must haves for your girly girl.
Organic Baby Clothes: Finn + Emma. Based on the idea that organic does not equal boring, Finn +Emma creates clothes that balance sustainability and and style. The company uses 100% organic cotton, eco-friendly dyes and provides collections with colors and whimsical design.
Unexpectedly Perfect Shoes: Crocs. From the color-changing Chameleons to perfect for school Slip-Ons to totally wearable Winter Boots, Crocs has delighted our little feet over and over throughout the year. If you think Crocs is limited to summer shoes with lots of holes, think again. You’ll be pleasantly surprised like we are.
Most Stylish Shoes: Venettini. Beloved by celebrity moms and us regular folk alike, Venettini shoes offer a modern, wearable twist on classic shoe styles like the Mary Jane. We adore the unique colors, fine quality construction and overall adorableness of these shoes. They are worth the splurge!
Soft-Soled Shoes: ShooShoos. My kids have enjoyed wearing ShooShoos for years, but this year Malia and Laura’s children also got in on the action. We all agree – ShooShoos are fabulous soft soled baby shoes. They are easy to put on, actually stay on and there’s a great range of cute styles for boys and girls.
Hair Accessories: lizzie, izzie & james. Handmade with love, lizzie, izzie & james headbands and hair clips pack a style punch in a sweet package. The pieces offer unmatched detail, a keen eye for lovely color combinations and we simply can’t get enough.
It’s that time of year again… time for our annual Best of the Year lists on The Shopping Mama. We’ve reflected on the products we’ve tried, tested and abused and are sharing our very favorites. These are products we recommend without reservation, use often and generally really, really like. Here are The Shopping Mama’s Best of 2011 in Children’s Decor and Design – in other words, great things to decorate your child’s nursery, bedroom or playroom.
Best Baby Bedding: Carousel Designs. Because of the innovative and easy to use Design Tool, the crib bedding designs from Carousel Designs are unlimited. You can literally create your own bedding from start to finish and get exactly what you’d like. And, they don’t skimp on quality. The materials are top-notch and worthy of your little prince or princess.
Best Wallpaper: Tempaper. This is not your mama’s wallpaper! Modern, hip designs, easy to install and removable and adjustable – there’s noting Tempaper can’t do. The new Tempaper Tots line is focused on children’s rooms, but we love the “adult” collection and Tempaper “You”, which is a blank canvas for you to design.
Best Wall Decals: weeDECOR. These are not your average wall decals as they are made from eco-friendly fabric in modern and colorful designs. Many styles are available with monogrammed or your child’s name and you can always select colors to make them fit in your tot’s space.
Best Art: ModTots offers hand painted modern and minimalistic artwork that still manages to be childlike and warm making it perfect for children’s spaces.
Best Storage: CompanyKids. Just because it’s functional, storage doesn’t have to be boring. The great storage bins, hooks and coordinating accessories from CompanyKids are proof of that. Maybe your little one will even help put things away knowing they’re going to such a cool container?
Best Personalized Special Touch: Le Papier Studio. We are smitten with the lovely handcrafted silhouette art from Le Papier Studio. The personalized art prints are a lovely personal touch in a child’s room of any age and make a thoughtful new baby gift to adorn a nursery.
Before kids I never really thought about what was in any of my personal care products, much less suspected that some might contain traces of toxic chemicals. Now I’m not entirely sold on the idea that tiny amounts of some of these chemicals are harmful, but I do my best to avoid them anyway and was concerned when I read that a top producer had harmful chemicals in their popular shampoo (and very glad to hear that they are now removing the toxins thanks to pressure from concerned parents). I’d love to shop “all natural” and “organic” all the time, but some of the products can be prohibitively expensive at $20 and up for a bottle of baby wash. The new Dr. Sears Family Essentials line of Baby Care is great because it’s free of harmful chemicals AND affordable.
The Dr. Sears Family Essentials’ Baby Care line was developed with the expertise of the Sears Family of Pediatricians, who have more than a century of medical knowledge combined. Dr. Bill Sears, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, has treated more than 500,000 babies and counting, and Dr. Jim Sears is the resident pediatrician on the hit show The Doctors.
I’ve been using the Family Essentials’ Baby Care line on baby Kate and I’m loving it. We are mostly using the Wash and Shampoo and Body Lotion and Wipes because, fortunately, she hasn’t needed any diaper area care yet. I love the Body Lotion. I’m a sucker for citrus scent and I love that the scent is noticeable on application but subtle enough that I don’t feel like my baby is perfumed. I don’t notice it on her later in the day, but a friend commented on how good she smells. Of course this friend may just be in the wanting another baby mode. The formula is also really nice. It’s light but hydrating and doesn’t leave a greasy film on baby or my hands like some other products. The Wash and Shampoo works well and is gentle on baby girl’s skin. The wipes clean poo effectively and aren’t irritating and it’s nice to know they are toxin free.
To Buy or Not to Buy
To Buy… The Family Essentials are an affordable non-toxic line of products with a great scent from a trusted name in baby care. They would make a great baby shower gift too.
Not to Buy… If you don’t love citrus as much as I do, you might not love the lotion as much either, but it’s a subtle and light scent, so unless you hate citrus, I think you’ll like the scent.
Samples were provided by Dr Sears Family Essentials. Opinions are my own.
Did you receive an iPhone for Christmas but you’re worried about sharing the smartness with your toddler? Or, are you looking for a way to make your family’s iTouch more toddler-friendly? Infantino has an awesome solution in the toy and app combination known as HappiTaps. We’ve downloaded – and the kids have played with – a countless number of apps and games designed for kids, but we’ve never seen anything quite like HappiTabs. It’s an iPhone / iTouch cover AND a free app that brings the cute bear cover to life.
What is HappiTaps
HappiTaps are the first-of-its-kind toy/app hybrid. A lovable teddy-bear friend that leverages toddlers’ newly found fascination with touchscreen smartphones and the classic comfort of plush, huggable toys creating a truly interactive, lovable companion. Put your iPhone or iPod touch inside a HappiTaps cover, download the free app, and voilà: the 21st century Teddy.
- Uses 3D computer animation in conjunction with the iPhone/iPod Touch cutting technology to create a toy that reacts to a child’s life moments
- Over 150 different expressions to keep kids engaged and learning
- Full of games and activities for engaging play
- 2 Play modes: Toddler Mode and more advanced Manual Mode
- The cover features a lock for the home button to ensure kids stay within the app
- Age recommendation: 18+ months
The Beary Happi Teddy cover is compatible with iPhone 4S, 4, and 3GS as well as 3rd and 4th generation iPod Touch.
Toy + App = Lots of Fun
The first thing you’ll notice is the adorable Beary Happi Teddy cover. In addition to being a cute bear, he protects the iPhone with lots of cushion. We’ve experienced a broken iDevice or two around our house, but I wouldn’t hesitate to hand over the iPhone or iPod to a child with this on it. The bear really comes to life when you download the app. The Beary Happi: Lovable Friend app is basically an adorable teddy bear who talks, laughs and interacts with your child. He’ll ask your child to scratch his ear, when you touch his nose it squeaks and that’s just playing with the bear.
There are actually a number of games and ways to play within the app. My daughter giggles at the bear playing Hide & Seek. My son likes giving Beary food during Feeding Time. I like Story Time – where Bear reads a story – and ABC Pop – which reinforces letter recognition. When my daughter plays with the app we place it on Toddler Mode which automatically goes from one game to the next and doesn’t require her to use the drop down menu bar to change from, say, the Expressions mode to Story Time. My son, on the other hand, is better able to control and maneuver between games on his own so he uses Manual Mode.
My daughter, not surprisingly, was immediately smitten. My son turned 5 earlier this month and he thinks that means he’s very mature and too old for some things now. At first glance, he wasn’t into HappiTaps because of the teddy bear appearance, I think. As soon as he saw it in action he wanted it all to himself. In fact, when he saw my daughter playing with it he said, “I want it because it looks so cool.” Safe to say he’s now hooked as well.
To Buy or Not to Buy
To Buy… The combination of the teddy bear cover and toy with the actual app is pretty awesome. It’s one of the most interactive apps my kids have used and it kept each of them engaged and entertained for quite some time – certainly longer than some other apps we’ve downloaded. This is a great way to make your iPhone or iPod Touch a kid-friendly toy.
Or Not to Buy… The Bar Happi app has some in-app purchases which can add up. The first thing I did was turn those off so that the kids didn’t accidentally on purpose turn our free app into a costly one. The cover makes hitting the home button and some other functionality difficult to get to so is really best suited to using this app and not as a general cover.
I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Infantino HappiTaps and received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.
We’re behind schedule, folks. So sorry! As I’m sure was the case for many of you, the last week has been jam packed with celebrations. I thought I’d keep today simple with a picture post of Charlie’s best Christmas gifts. People were so generous and thoughtful. Charlie made out like a bandit. A cute little bandit.
The Educo Shape Sorter – We also got the Fisher Price version. Charlie had an easier time fitting the shapes into their holes with the FP sorter, but is OBSESSED with the rattles inside each of the pieces in the Educo version. They will both yield hours of fun.
The classic Rock-a-Stack
Early Years Little Shoppers Set – Charlie is way into the rattles inside certain pieces of this set, too. But he also likes the other features, like the peel-able banana and the mirror inside the milk carton. I think it’ll be a fun toy when he’s older and we teach him about going to the farmer’s market!
More Fisher-Price toys. It was amazing how fast Charlie caught on to the cause-and-effect lessons they are meant to teach.
As I hinted in last week’s post, we’re starting a collection for Charlie. A train collection! His first piece is a vintage Tyco car with graffiti work done by local artist Oliver Wright. We’ll display it in his room until he’s big enough to play with it since it fits so well into the “Boy in the City” theme.
But this next one was the gift that took my breath away. It was from his uncle. My brother.
That right there is Derek Jeter’s 1992 rookie baseball card, in mint condition, in the plastic case and everything. I know it’s not a card that’s worth a million dollars or anything, but it could be some day. But more importantly, it was Charlie’s uncle’s way of sharing something that was so important to him (baseball) and to our family (going to Yankees games together) with his nephew. I must have held it in my hand, turning it over and over, for 15 minutes or so just marveling at how awesome of a brother I have.
It’s not out of the box yet, but Charlie also got the Wishbone Flip toy that I mentioned in last week’s post. And my dad opened up an account for Charlie and put some of my mother’s stocks into it. He’d been hanging on to them for just this occasion. Swoon.
Oh, and just for good measure. Here’s Charlie with the most awesome-looking Santa ever. He started wailing right after this shot.
Happy New Year!
Shopping BabySize: my favorite finds for babies, kids and moms based on the approximate size of the wee babe in my belly.
I’m now 29 weeks pregnant, which means the little mover and shaker is 15 inches long from head to heel and weighs about 2.5 pounds – like a Butternut Squash. Remember almost two months ago when the baby was the size of a Spaghetti Squash? My how it’s grown in the squash family!
Butternut Squash Finds
Butternut Squash Octopie Octopus Plush.
Butternut Squash Knit Scarf. Love this! What a great color.
Butternut Squash Decorating Color Palette.
Butternut Squash Tweed Pillow.
Butternut Squash Recipes
Even though cooking is so totally not my thing, I’ve had fun adding some recipes into the weekly finds post so this week is no different. And, as a bonus, it includes a recipe I’ve actually made. Go me. This Roasted and Curried Butternut Squash Soup is so freaking delicious. And I feel tremendously fancy and talented when I make it. (Except the time the yogurt kind of curdled when I added it. That wasn’t cool.)
Butternut Squash Cupcakes?
Butternut Squash Baby Food Recipes.
To see more Butternut Squash finds, check out my Butternut Squash Pinterest Board.
Week 14: Lemon
Week 15: Apple
Week 16: Avocado
Week 17: Turnip
Week 18: Bell Pepper
Week 19: Heirloom Tomato
Week 20: Banana
Week 21: Carrot
Week 22: Spaghetti Squash
Week 23: Mango
Week 24: Corn
Week 25: Rutabaga
Week 26: Cucumber
Week 27: Cauliflower
Week 28: Chinese Cabbage