Saturday, October 30, 2010

Review and Giveaway

I was approached by Laura who writes the New Age Mama blog about having a review of the toys in my etsy shop Simply Playing. Laura reviews all sorts of products and usually hosts a giveaway along with the review. I sent her out a heart wand, knitted play crown and a gnome doll for her young daughter to try out. Thankfully, she really liked all of them, especially the gnome (because really who doesn't like gnomes?) and wrote up a lovely review. The good news for you is she is hosting a giveaway for one of my Golden Star Rainbow Magic Wands! Just visit this link to her blog and find out the many ways you can enter to win. Good luck to you all!

A Time For Puzzles

The days are getting pretty dark here in the upper Midwest. Not much light to play outside after dinner, so what to do? It's the time to bring out the puzzles! Sam has really gotten into working on puzzles - even by himself! If you have an only child you know how rare the "Mama come play with me." broken record turns off. Don't get me wrong, I love playing with my son, but it's such a pleasure to watch him get COMPLETELY engrossed in play.

We have two different kinds of puzzles - wooden and paperboard. The wooden ones are beautifully made by the people living at Community Homestead in Osceola, Wisconsin. Community Homestead is a non-profit rural community living and working with people with special needs. They sell there wares at Sam's Waldorf School's Holiday Fair in winter and May Fair in the Spring. The puzzles are painted with watercolor so the wood's grain shines through the color. I find them just breathtaking! Here are the two Sam has so far.

This one with the fairy in the boat I usually pair with reading Elsa Beskow's book Peter in Blueberry Land. As Peter takes a ride in a boat that uses a leaf for a sail with the Blueberry King's sons.

Sam received this puzzle for his birthday after we stayed a weekend at Farmer's Inn in Viroqua, Wisconsin. I find it fun to have memories tied into the toys Sam plays with as it makes them have more of an alive quality.

Then of course there are the paperboard puzzles form Ravensburger. While not nearly as atheistically pleasing as the wooden ones, they are of very good quality and available in many different difficulty levels to match to your child's ability.

Here is Sam at his "desk" putting together his 60 piece Ravensburger dinosaur puzzle. He's learning about doing the edges first and then filling in the middle. Although, sometimes he just likes starting with the T. Rex (his favorite dinosaur.)

It really is fun seeing his mind work to figure out what piece goes where. And best of all, it's a great quiet activity before bedtime, which for us makes the transition all the more easy. What puzzles do your kids play with?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Many Moods of Sam

As many of you know Sam is my 4 year old son; my one and only. He is who I started making toys for until there were just too many gnomes in the house (it's still a contention in our house if there can EVER be too many gnomes.) Then I started making toys for the rest of the world by selling them in my etsy store Simply Playing. One of the items I carry is knitted play crowns, and I've tried using Sam as a model for these crowns. This is not an uncommon practice, using your our child as a model, but I feel I don't quite get the results others do. Simply put, Sam does not want to be a model. I have to bribe him with a little screen time of Thomas the Tank Engine (not very Waldorf of me I know.) So, our photo shoots are a very quick affair with lots of direction and not a lot of listening. But, I feel it's important to give the buyer an idea of how the crown looks on a child, not just laying flat on my counter. What I'm wondering is should I use his photo for my main picture (this is the only picture that is shown to the viewer on etsy until they select that item and see the other detail photos) or should I use the flat crown photo? Here are a few pictures showing the many moods of Sam to give you an idea of what I'm working with:

Are they endearing to others and not just his Mama, or do they just look unprofessional? Her's the flat only crown photo for comparison:

Which photo would draw more people in to look further? I've tried posting a mix of the two types of photos, but I can't tell the difference. Let me know what you think.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Peace Wand

I had a special order request this week at my etsy shop. She wanted a peace sign wand in colors to match her daughter's Halloween costume. How could I refuse such a fun project!
Here's a few pictures on how it turned out.

Overall, I'm very pleased and now just have to wait to find out what whether my customer approves. I'd like to try making more peace wands but in green and yellow felt with blue stitching. What do you all think? Should I carry these as a regular item?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Wonderment is our local natural toy store. It resides in the Linden Hills neighborhood of South Minneapolis. Imaginative toys are stocked there in abundance: Ostheimer wooden animals, marble runs, natural wood dollhouses and simply lovable Waldorf Dolls. They even have a dress up section now complete with my felt wands and knitted crowns. Yes, I've gone wholesale!

I met one of the owners at my son's Waldorf School's May Fair Celebration. Lisa was one of the vendors selling her lovely wares - mainly wooden swords and crossbows to the 2nd grade boys who were ready for action! I occupied the table next to her selling my plant dyed wool felt wands, knitted crowns, gnomes and cats. We got to talking during the lulls and she said she'd love to have my wands and crowns in her store. Needless to say I was thrilled!

So, now you can find my handmade items in my etsy store, or at Wonderment if you happen to be in the Minneapolis area.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I'm Back

Hello Everyone! Sorry to have been absent for such a long period of time. My life with my family took over as it is wont to do, but I'm back and gearing up for the holidays by making lots and lots of wands.

I've kept to the same shapes, but have started adding new color combinations to hopefully have something for everyone. Making wands is such fun for me. I love pretty much every part - from trying to get as much cut out from a piece of felt as I possibly can, to wrapping the dowels with yarn, sewing all the pieces together and finally stuffing and gluing the shape on top. My son already has 2 so my only option after I gave one to every child I knew was to sell them. This is my first Holiday Season having them listed in my etsy shop and I'm excited to see how they sell. Here's a few pictures of my latest creations:

I'm also thinking of making a red and yellow star as well as my yellow and blue one. I did try a clover shape this last spring, but it really didn't sell well so I decided to discontinue that style. If you have any suggestions on something you'd like to see in a wand please let me know!