Earn FREE HAIR COUTURE by hosting a home OR virtual Adam's Blankie party! Email adamsblankie@gmail.com for details!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

and the WINNER is...

Shauna Martone!

Thank you to all who entered this delightful give-away, and many congratulations to Miss Shauna Martone! She won the adorable children's ironing board set from Forever&Afters!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Best Baby Names 2009 - Vote and WIN!

It's always tricky finding the right baby name for your soon-to-be-angel-on-earth, isn't it? You don't want something everyone else has, yet you don't want something too bizarre, you don't want them to be made fun of (like "Sandy Beach" or "Candy Cane" -- no joke, I actually know people with these names!), & you don't want people mispronouncing or misspelling it all the time. What's a couple to do? Here are some interesting names Parents magazine has deemed as the best for '09 depending on the "style" (interesting method, I thought) of a name that you want.

Boys - Denver, Troy, Brooklyn, Houston, Milan, Phoenix, Austin, Dallas, Cairo, Jordan
Girls - Aspen, Florence, Charlotte, London, Kenya, Geneva, Savannah, India, Sydney, Dakota

Boys - Henry, William, Harry, James, Louis, Andrew, George, Edward, Albert, Charles
Girls - Diana, Victoria, Catherine, Mary, Christina, Elizabeth, Isabella, Anastasia, Cleopatra, Anne

"Rock Stars"
Boys - Jagger, Iggy, Sid, Kurt, Elvis, Axl, Rilo, Kanye, Lenny, Billie Joe
Girls - Janis, Stevie, Avril, Miley, Fergie, Alanis, Joss, Beyonce, Madonna, Ashlee

Boys - Charles Xavier, Angel, Logan, Bruce, Kalel, Peter, Clark, Anakin, Hero, Robin
Girls - Elektra, Storm, Rogue, Domino, Buffy, Mystique, Jean Grey, Phoenix, Angela, Shera

"Gods & Goddesses"
Boys - Jove, Jupiter, Apollo, Sol, Tempus, Shai, Kairos, Enamerion, Gleneus, Hercules
Girls - Athena, Calliiope, Chloe, Dia, Gaia, Flora, Helen, Iris, Phoebe, Venus

"Movie Stars"
Boys - Brad, Tom, Johnny, Will, Ashton, Orlando, Clive, Jude, Ethan, Keanu
Girls - Gwyneth, Angelina, Cameron, Uma, Julia, Drew, Demi, Halle, Renee, Scarlett

"Hola, Baby"
Boys - Enrique, Jose, Emilio, Alejandro, Carlos, Eduardo, Miguel, Pedro, Tomas, Javier
Girls - Carmen, Antonia, Luisa, Maribel, Carlota, Valeria, Yolanda, Selena, Esmeralda, Sofia

"American Idols"
Boys - Clay, Ruben, Bo, Taylor, Constantine, Sanjaya, Blake, David, Justin, Chris
Girls - Kelly, Fantasia, Carrie, Jordin, Melinda, Kimberley, Jennifer, Katharine, Lakisha, Syesha

Boys - Francois, Jean-Paul, Gerard, Jacques, Claude, Antoine, Gilles, Marcel, Pierre, Sebastien
Girls - Genevieve, Soleil, Elisa, Amelie, Brigitte, Celine, Dominique, Juliette, Madeleine, Simone

"Country Clubbers"
Boys - Chase, Archer, Alistair, Beaumont, Blair, Barron, Penn, Stanford, Alfie, Harrison
Girls - Avery, Brynley, Ives, Heatherly, Virginia, Grace, Poppy, Eleanor, Paige, Georgia

What do you think? Do you agree? Do you have a better one? I have many pregnant friends clamoring for just the right name, so I thought I'd put the task in your hands to come up with some fantastic ideas! Comment to this post with the name/s you think are best and why ~ I'll sort through the recommendations and pick my Top 5. Those lucky winners will then receive a coupon code for 20% off any one regular-priced item from Adam's Blankie! (Please be sure to leave your email address when commenting, so I have a way of contacting the winners!).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Help Your Kids Learn to Love Veggies

There comes a time when most children reject vegetables as an even remotely close edible option for dinner! (Some kids even reject them right out of the womb!) It's funny how their taste progresses...I remember my son absolutely loved his pureed peas and squash as an infant. Then, in an instant, one day he decides he won't tolerate them. It's maddening for parents, of course, especially when the pediatrician keeps asking about how the veggies are going, right?

I tried sauteeing the vegetables in butter, and adding some brown sugar to cooked carrots, or topping broccoli with melted cheese, but I'm telling you - these "tricks" just did NOT get past my son! (If you find they work for you, though, by all means....!) The one thing I DID find that worked was investing in a juicer. Now I can sneak in any old vegetable, as long as it's with enough fruit! I usually do some apples and oranges alongside veggies like carrots & celery -- you'd be surprised what you can get away with! You really can toss just about any fruit or vegetable in there (except bananas), so you don't have to follow a receipe, per se, although most juicers do come with a recipe book with some great mixing options.

Another alternative, or perhaps, just an "enhancer," if you will, would be purchasing "Henry and the Hidden Veggie Garden." It's a book written by actress and mom Kimberly Williams-Paisley, in an effort to get her own kids to eat their vegetables. Henry rejects vegetables by hiding them under his napkin, but after a visit to his aunt's farm, he discovers something that changes his perception of vegetables. You can purchase the book for only $5.00 at www.loveyourveggiesgrants.org - a small price to pay for investing in your child's health!

Just a few more days before we draw the lucky winner for the children's ironing board set! Make sure to check out the "give-aways" or post from 6/22 to enter for your chance to win!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Conquering the Monsters in the Closet

So if you are the parent of a toddler, you may have already started hearing about how he's scared of the "monsters in the closet" (or under the bed, or behind the door...you name it - they're there!). As adults, of course, we know that these monsters really don't exist, but try proving that to your 3-year old (remember how REAL they seemed to you when you were that little?!)! Of course, it's totally natural, and often times actually good that they have fears (they NEED to be afraid of a hot stove/growling dog/creepy man to keep safe, afterall, right?), but when fears arise, regardless of them being irrational or not, of course we only want to soothe our children and make the fear just go away.

Coping Skills & Physical Aides
With younger kids, say 2 or 3 years old, they are often afraid of things they simply don't understand. So if they hear a thunderstorm, for example, it might sound scary to them, and so they'll be afraid of it. One strategy for this would be to find some books about "happy" thunderstorms, for example, or just to get yourself excited about the storm when it comes and try explaining why thunderstorms are good and that you actually like them! Make sure you don't make them feel silly about being afraid, but let them know that their fear is just a misunderstanding, and that reasons "x, y, and z" are why they needn't be afraid of the storm. For the common fear of the dark, a night-light works wonders, of course. For smaller & tangible things they might fear, you might want to try putting physical "protectors" over the culprit. If kids can just see the protector, that will usually cure the problem. This theory goes hand-in-hand with the generalization that physical items kids can hold on to give them comfort. Take the lovie/security blankies you see many small children carrying around themselves, for example ~ they're an easy, practical solution that bring many kids comfort at a very economical price. (Check out Adam's Blankie for some designer knottie ribbon sensory blankies!)

Facts & Steps Taken
As children get older, their fears become less abstract and more about experiences in life that have already happened to them or their friends, or that they've seen on the television perhaps. One example might be dealing the with death of a grandparent. Psychologist Vicki Panaccione, Ph.D., says it is healthy to discuss death, and that explaining to your child that you intend to live long, and that you've done such things as eating healthy, exercising, for example, to help make sure that happens, will comfort them. For tragedies they might witness on the t.v., you could first and foremost, make sure you know exactly what t.v. shows they're watching, and limit the "scary" things (news being one of them!). But, as we all know, we can only keep them from hearing about and seeing things for so long, so if they've already witnessed a scary hurricane on t.v. that wiped out a town, explaining the rarity of the event, along with explaining steps you've taken to help stay safe should it happen to your family, are helpful.

*Don't forget our current FREE GIVE-AWAY going on - register for your chance to win a children's wooden ironing board set!! (see "give-aways" or post from 6/22)!!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Spotlight On ForeverandAfters - Review & GIVE-AWAY!!!

Today we are showcasing the lovely& quaint ForeverandAfters ~ a small business owned by a woman by the name of Georgia, who hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Raised by a carpenter & machinist father, and a seamstress mother, it seems only natural Georgia would end up where she is today.

I stumbled upon her shop in my never-ending search for adorable yet practical & whimsical children's toys for my son. I love natural toys, so it is no surprise really that I ran into ForeverandAfters on Etsy. Last week we received the "Sack Lunch" toy from her shop. It is comprised of a brown fabric sack, peanut butter & jelly sandwich, banana, juice box with straw, & a gingham napkin. Everything is handcrafted by Georgia herself, using only woods & fabrics for inspiring your child's imagination and being natural at the same time. The effect is a collaboration of textures that is quite vitalizing, and the whole set elicits a comforting & primitive, vintage feel. I love that the PB&J sandwich is stackable, too, as it helps your child develop his coordination and sequencing skills. How can we go wrong here? Natural toys that *DON'T* make noise, and help teach your children practical skills?? This would make a fantastic birthday present for a toddler, by the way, or a great addition to any chidren's kitchen play set.

Through an interview with her, I have developed a fondness for her business of making heirloom, quality, handcrafted toys, and can't wait to share her journey into the business of toy-making with you!

How did your business start and when? "It seems that I have been making toys for as long as I have been a parent...which is longer than I will disclose. We had 4 childen in 8 years. Dollars rarely went far enough and it was just a natural to put creativity and my children's needs together. Then I began working in the educational world and nothing had really changed. Dollars were still short. So I began making things for my classrooms and the preschools that I directed. One of the real frustrations of parenting and the preschool directorates was that the toys cost so much, but they lasted for seconds. So, it seemed like a natural to put my knowledge of children, my love for sewing and woodworking, and the desire to present a better option to budgeting parents and schools to work by creating toys and furniture that would be durable and economical."

How did you come up with your business name? "By divine inspiration, I think. That's what happens when you scream for help. As I stated previously, I was very interested in providing better options to the noisy, 'don't need no imagination', break in a heartbeat toys that are so frequently available for kids. There is nothing worse than watching a child fall in love with a toy and then having to reassure them that you will try to fix it 20 minutes later when it breaks. I wanted the products that I make to be heirlooms, something a mom could give to her little tike while saying, "I played with this when I was your age." Hence, Forever and Afters. Granted, it may cost a little more right now, but you only have to buy it once!"

How long have you been making your creations? "I started making toys when I turned my first cardboard box upside down as a little girl and used the round trademark printed on the bottom as the heating element for my 'kitchen range'! I think I've been doing something of the kind ever since."

What mediums do you use to create your products? "I like to mix color and wood tones. I like the lines to flow under the tools. So I'm not really big on hardwoods. (Besides, I've seen what they can do in the hands of an angry child!) So we use a bit of hardwoods, a little poplar, but mostly pine and aspen. I like to add bright colors, and a splash of fabric to my creations. I want to give the child enough to work with for really good, imaginative play, but not so much that they don't have to build a sense of creativity.

Is there any other advice you'd like to share with our blog readers? "I do want to urge parents to put things in their children's reach that will give them opportunities to develop the wonderful power that is in their hearts and between their ears. The mess they make will be far less than the ones they find themselves in when they don't have the creativity, small motor skills, imagination, and determination to make it work in a few years and even later in life. Spread a drop cloth, take out the play dough and the cookie cutters, and stand back. You will have hours of "fight and fright" free time, too, when your little ones are engrossed in productive, character-building play."

Georgia has also graciously offered any blog readers who place a first-time order with her 10% off their total purchase. In order to receive the discount, please just mention this blog in the comments to the notes to the seller upon check-out. As an added bonus, she will be GIVING AWAY the Ironing Set (retail value of $35.00)!

Here is how you can enter for your chance to win this amazing set!
*Visit ForeverandAfters and then come back to this blog and post a comment on this thread, stating your favorite item from her shop AND why. (You must state both the item AND WHY to be entered for a chance to win!). Make sure to leave your email address for purposes of contacting the winner.

Once you have visited ForeverandAfters and commented on your favorite item and why, you can do the following for more entries in the drawing:
*Become a follower of the Haute Tot & Baby Couture blog
*Blog about this give-away (make sure to post the link to your blog)
*Tweet about this give-away (make sure to post the link to your tweet)
*Copy my Adam's Blankie & Haute Tot Couture blog buttons and post on your own webpage (make sure to post the link to your site)

The winner will be drawn & notified on Tuesday, June 30th! Good luck!

Thank you so much for joining us for this special "Spotlight" today, and thank you so much also to Georgia for sharing a little bit about herself & her inspirational business! I know I'll be looking forward to perusing her shop for future purchases myself!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fast Food Fixes

Here are some items that you should always keep in-stock at your house to keep away hunger pains & do so in a jiffy! They are basic, simple items, and allow your child to be able to mix & match among them.

whole wheat pitas*/bread
sliced deli meat
pre-cooked chicken strips (NOT breaded)
peanut or almond butter
Fruits: (you can cut up & toss together an assortment of these in a small container when you get back from the grocery store to make snack time or on-the-go outings a cinch!)
grapes (great to freeze, by the way!)
orange slices
apple wedges
dried variety

Vegetables: (use the same method as mentioned with fruits)
baby carrots
snap peas

whole-wheat crackers or pretzels
graham crackers
mozzarella cheese sticks
granola/granola bars (you can cut up these for a bite-size snack)
mini chocolate chips
fig newtons

ranch sauce

With a little extra time, you can add these items that most kids like:
eggs (try hard-boiled (eat as is or make egg salad), or scrambled/omelet style to sneak in some healthy veggies or deli meat they might otherwise not eat alone
whole-wheat pasta

Pita Chips:
you can slice the pitas into wedges (8 per pita - just cut like a pizza), brush with olive oil, sprinkle with some salt and herbs and bake about 7-8 minutes per side in a 400 degree oven to make your own pita chips to go with hummus or another dip!

Granola Mixes:
1) pretzels, cashews & dried cranberries & blueberries
2) mini chocolate chips, dried mango, almonds
3) dried papaya, cereal, raisins
4) sesame sticks, chopped granola bar, dried pineapple
5) sunflower seeds, dried apricots, macadamia nuts

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Last Segment of our Natural Cleaners Series

I've so enjoyed bringing you some more natural and cost-effective cleaners that you can make yourself at home, and I certainly hope you've enjoyed them (and used them!), as well! This last segment includes a few random items probably lying around your house that you can use in a few surprising ways!
White Bread - dust an oil painting with a slice of white bread by gently dabbing it over the painting. It will pick up dirt & grime!
Ketchup - You can remove tarnish on copper and brass cookware with this! Just squeeze some ketchup onto a cloth and rub onto your pots & pans. Within minutes, you'll see the coppery finish return. Rinse with warm water and dry.
Rice - Ever wonder how you can clean the inside of a narrow vase? Just fill the vase 3/4 of the way full, toss in a tablespoon of rice, & shake vigorously. Dump out and rinse.
Oatmeal - Scrub dirty hands with your own oatmeal & water paste. Rinse.
Tea - Scour rusty gardening tools with a few pots of strong black tea. Just toss the tools into a bucket and let soak for a few hours. With gloves on (you don't want your hands to get stained!), remove each tool and wipe clean.
Glycerin - Use this to remove stuck-on candlewax drippings from your candlestick holders. Peel or chip off as much wax as possible first (I advise placing in freezer first - this seems to work wonders!), then moisten a cotton ball with glycerin and wipe off until clean.
Cornstarch - use this to clean grease spills from carpets; simply pour the cornstarch onto the spot and let sit 15-30 minutes; vacuum.
Club Soda - Use to make your stainless steel sink shine; just moisten a cloth with some club soda and buff away. Wipe dry with a different cloth afterwards.
Hydrogen peroxide - You can disinfect a keyboard with this stuff by dipping a cotton swab into it to fit into the small spaces between the keys.
Rubbing Alcohol - From finished wood floors or solid-surface countertops, you can remove permanent marker stain by applying a cotton ball that's been doused with rubbing alcohol.

Ideas are courtesy of Real Simple magazine.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Labels to Customize (and not lose!) Your Children's Personal Items

So a huge pet peeve of mine is losing any of my son's cups, books, clothes...you name it! After losing the 3rd or so cup from the church nursery, I decided enough was enough, and I was going to purchase labels for all his things we took everywhere on the go. I've listed a few different options below, depending on your own budget, need or preferred style. I think they're all spectacular ideas, and REALLY helpful on the budget, not to mention keeping germs away by making sure little Johnny doesn't use your kid's cup in school.

FREE address labels - just make a donation to any organization that sends out all those address labels for you, but give the donation in your child's name. You can not only feel good about receiving a bundle of free labels in the mail sporadically, but also feel good about helping out a beneficial organization (e.g. wildlife, diseases, animal rescue agencies).

Labels for every occasion from stuckonyou.biz. I ordered some labels from Stuck-on-You for my son and absolutely love them. They have lasted over a couple years now, and have been through the dishwasher umpteen times and still look brand new and haven't started peeling at all! Stuck-on-You even offers shoe dot labels & iron-on clothing labels, not to mention you get to pick the shape, color & image to go along with your child's name!

BumpyName Orbit Labels - these are non-adhesive and reusable labels you can use for cups, bottles & sippy cups. You just stretch and release to apply around the cups. They are also dishwasher and microwave-safe. You can purchase from inchbug.com.

So go check these labels out, and may you never lose another one of your child's personal belongings again!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lessons a Mommy Can Learn from Her Little One

So of course we as parents have so much knowledge, skills & life lessons to teach and pass on to our children. BUT, what about lessons they can teach us? I found these quotes from a Parents magazine, and thought they were so adorable and insightful so wanted to pass them on to you. Just imagine your little one saying (or thinking) them...they're just so precious and really make you think.

"Love me, even when I'm naughty. I'll only be this age once."
"Be patient. I do everything for a reason, but I don't know enough words yet to give you an explanation."
"Don't expect too much from me. I want to do what you ask and make you happy, but I'm still little."
"Keep your promises. It's all about trust. When I'm a teenager, you'll understand why it's so important."
"Let me do it. I know you can do it faster and better, but sometimes experience is the best teacher."
"Stop freaking out about the mess! There's always time to clean - but how often do we get to make mud pies?"
"Don't try to reason with me when I'm having a tantrum. Trust me - I can't hear you over my own screaming."
"Don't let me think that you're perfect. I feel a lot better knowing I'm not the only one who makes mistakes sometimes."
"Set limits. I can't actually eat a whole box of cookies - I just want to see if I'd get away with it."

(by Mary Mohler)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cherishing Your Children's Doodle Art

So your child is an artist, and ohhhh, how to display the masterpieces being created on a weekly basis?? Here are a few fantasticly chic ways to display & cherish your children's artwork:

"Instant Masterpiece" - it's an inflatable old-world style frame for really bringing that "Monet" print into a museum-style format. Purchase for just $8.95 from Brooklyn5and10.com.

"Clips on a Clothesline" - I personally love this idea, and am looking to putting something like this in my own son's room. You just take some fishline, buy some cute clips and hang the artwork from the fishline in their own bedroom or craft room, should you be so lucky to have one of those! You can purchase the clips and line from Land of Nod for $12.95.

My personal favorite - "Jewelry Art" - the most clever way to show off and forever cherish the masterpiece: have it made into a jewelry piece! Mommytags.com has one they call "Doodle Tags" ($95) that inscribes the art on a sterling pendant, or you can visit any number of Etsy shops (if you know me at all, you know I love Etsy!), like Eclisse Creazioni for the art to be permanently stuck onto tile pendant bracelets, charms or necklaces (range about $25-85).

Friday, June 12, 2009

DIY: Playdough Recipes

What child doesn't love playdough? Here's an easy way to make your own without breaking the bank. These also make fabulous party favors at birthday parties, too, might I add... Following are a variety of recipes, depending on what you're looking for:

Traditional PlayDough
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • food coloring
Mix all ingredients, adding the food coloring last. Heat over medium heat on the stove, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from the pan and knead until it's smooth. Store in plastic bag or other airtight container.

Earth-Friendly PlayDough
  • 1 cup flour (not self-rising)
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Over low heat, mix ingredients in a saucepan. Once it rolls into a ball, dough is ready. For different colors, add food coloring last while mixing over heat. Store in airtight container.

Kool-Aid PlayDough
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 package unsweetened Kool-Aid
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar & Kool-Aid in medium pot. Add the water and oil. Stir for 3-5 minutes over medium heat. Remove from pot once it forms into a ball. Knead until smooth, place in plastic bag or other airtight container and refrigerate.

(Edible) Jell-O PlayDough
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
  • 1 (3-1/2 oz.) package "unsweetened" Jell-O
Over medium heat, mix all ingredients, stirring constantly. Once the consistency is like that of mashed potatoes, remove from heat. Let cool & knead with floured hands. Let cool completely before storing in airtight container.

Peanut Butter PlayDough
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup instant nonfat dry milk*
Mix all ingredients until smooth. *If your child has milk allergies, use flour instead of the nonfat dry milk. Do not use for kids with peanut allergies, of course.

Gluten-Free PlayDough
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tarter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • Food coloring, if desired
Mix ingredients; cook over medium heat, and stir for about 3 minutes until mixture forms into a ball. Cool & store in airtight container.

No-Cook ClayDough
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 cups salt
  • 3 tablespoons alum
Combine all ingredients and slowly add water, little by little. Mix with a spoon. Continue mixing with your hands until you begin to feel a clay-like texture. If it's too dry, add water; if it's too sticky, add equal parts salt and flour.

Of course, if you would rather purchase playdough, I recommend checking a couple Etsy stores: Tickled Pink and Blue
Moody Gurl
Mama K's
American Green Kids

They offer everything from gluten-free, organic and scented options! I also am a huge advocate of supporting small businesses, too, and always love that they're handmade, of course.

And for those of you who don't like the mess, I'll be bringing you a FREE TUTORIAL next week on creating your own playdough mat!

Happy sculpting & enjoy!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Natural Cleaners Part V: Liquid Castile Soap

Part V of our "Natural Cleaners" contines with the natural cleaning power of liquid castile soap. This is a plant-based soap, like others, but is gentler than them so doesn't dull surfaces.

Use liquid castile soap to clean the following (courtesy of Real Simple magazine):
*car - mix 1/4 cup liquid Castile soap with hot water in a bucket. Rub the solution on the car surface, including hubcaps, windshield, and tires. Rinse off.
*floors - mix 1/4 cup liquid Castile soap with 2 gallons warm water. Adding 1/4 cup white vinegar to the mix will help cut grease, as well.
*leather upholstery - add just 2 drops of liquid Castile soap to 1 quart of warm water and apply with a damp sponge.
*marble countertops - stir 1 tablespoon of liquid Castile soap into 1 quart of warm water. With a damp cloth, wipe the surface of the countertops, rinse, and finally dry with clean cloth.
*sinks, showers, ceramic tile & tubs - combine 1 tablespoon liquid Castile soap with 1/3 cup baking soda, and scrub on!
*stovetop - take just a few squirts of liquid Castile soap & mix with 2 cups of hot water. Apply solution to the stovetop, burners & vent hood to rid grease.

Happy cleaning! Stay tuned for next Thursday, June 18th, when we wrap up the series with a few more surprising items from you pantry that are great grease and dirt-fighting stars!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Binkie & Tooth Fairy Pillows

All right. Any parent out there who has had to tear their 2 or 3-year old child away from his or her "binkie" (pacifier) knows how difficult this dreadful time is for both child and parent alike. "Why can't there be an easier way to do this?!" you ask.

Adam's Blankie has your answer:

Binkie Fairy Pillows
When the time arrives that you think is paramount for weaning your child from his binkie, you are to wrap up as a gift and present your child with the Binkie Fairy Pillow. Upon opening, explain to your child that he is a "Big Boy" now and that his binkie is now needed for the new babies being born who don't have binkies yet. That night, have your toddler place his binkie into his new Binkie Fairy Pillow and then have him hang it from his doorknob. Explain that the "Binkie Fairy" will come that night and in exchange will bring him a toy! In the morning, your toddler awakens with sheer delight that he has both helped a newborn find comfort in his old binkie (well, okay. this part might take a while) and that the "Binkie Fairy" has gifted upon him a new toy!

This very pillow can later double as the Tooth Fairy Pillow. This time, though, your child is placing her missing tooth in the pillow for the "Tooth Fairy" to take in exchange for some coins.

"Sounds good. So how much do the
"Binkie Fairy" and "Tooth Fairy" bring to kids these days?"

Good question! Obviously this will vary by household, but a survey done by Parents magazing in late 2008 showed the following averages for teeth and other items:

Tooth Fairy - $1/tooth
Allowance - 50 cents- $1 per week for each year of age
Party present - $15 for preschooler
Teacher Gift - No consensus. Parents recommended $10 giftcard to Starbucks or $20 giftcard to bookstore.
Babysitting - $8-$10/hour for suburbs, and up to $20/hour in big cities (e.g. New York)

To purchase the Binkie Fairy/Tooth Fairy pillow, please visit Adam's Blankie.

I'd love to hear how this goes if you do it! email me at adamsblankie@gmail.com

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

DIY: Children's Chalk Table & Chalk Storage Bins

Here is a great project for your budding artist...this will really give him (or her) a large palette in which he (or she) can master those skills!

What you'll need:
*small table
*chalkboard paint
*painter's tape
*paintbrush or roller
*latex paint (also, see previous post about some nontoxic nursery paint as an option!)

How to make it:
1. Find an old small table and tape off a border (about 1" wide) along all 4 sides.
2. Apply some chalkboard paint with a roller inside of the taped-off portion of the table.
3. Let it dry overnight, and then add a second coat the next day.
4. Once the second coat has dried another 24 hours, peel off the tape on the sides.
5. As an added bonus option, you can tape off a portion of the border and paint another colorful border within it. Or use your own artistic skills to perhaps paint in some items that go with the theme of your child's room (also can find stencils if you're afraid of your own skills, or the lack thereof!). No worries - have fun with it - the creativity of you just may inspire your child to become the next Picasso!

Another option: Find some wooden storage bins for your child's room, and again tape off a border (about 1"). Within that border, use the same chalkboard paint to paint the space within the taped portion. Here you can use chalk to write in as a label whatever is to be stored there (for example, blocks, balls, dolls, etcetera).

Monday, June 8, 2009

Instilling Good Values Through Good Reads

Storytelling is such a great tool for teaching invaluable lessons to our children. Sorting through them all & knowing which ones to buy are the challenging parts about it, though. I always have found it best to seek the advice of other parents who have been there and sorted through them already. Another great strategy is seeking out the advice of librarians...here Elizabeth McChesney, a librarian from Chicago, advises as to what she considers her must-reads for kids learning some good values (courtesy of Parents magazine):

A Good Day (Kevin Henkes, ages 2-5)
The friends from this story learn that sometimes what appears to be a bad day is actually one to be grateful for.
Crictor (Tomi Ungerer, ages 6-9)
A boa constrictor from Africa earns respect & gratitude of a French town.

Hooway for Wodney Wat (Helen Lester, ages 2-5)
The boy is this story is teased because of his speech impediment, but he gains respect after saving the class from the bully at school.
Do Unto Otters (Laurie Keller, ages 6-9)
Lessons on how to respect each other are given as funny examples in this book.

Don't Need Friends (Carolyn Crimi, ages 2-5)
At first Rat doesn't want to be a good friend, but he discovers he must in order to help out Dog.
The Bake Shop Ghost (Jacqueline K. Ogburn, ags 6-9)
Miss Cora Lee Merriweather (a ghost) can't leave her former bake shop until her wishes come true, and another special baker must figure out what they are.

Duck & Goose (Tad Hills, ages 2-5)
Waiting for an egg to hatch, Duck & Goose learn about patience.
Frederick (Leo Lionni, ages 6-9)
Frederick is a poet mouse in this story about setting aside things all mice must have to last through tough, cold winters.

Know of some more books to teach our children invaluable lessons?? Please comment below and/or email me at adamsblankie@gmail.com.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Coupon Exclusively for Blog Readers!!

Thank you so much for stopping by to check our blog! I am going to be making a habit of sporadically posting coupon codes EXCLUSIVELY for my blog followers as a "thank you" for your loyalty! Here's your first one!! Please enjoy 15% off any one regular-priced item from either Adam's Blankie OR Haute Tot Couture for any purchases made between 6/5 - 6/11. Please use code: HTBCBLOG in your notes to seller upon checkout. Many thanks, and Happy Shopping!

Cord Blood

Banking your cord blood is always a good idea if you can afford to do so. But because the chances of ever actually needing it for your child are slim, the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't recommend it on a routine basis. That being said, did you know you can donate it, free of charge, and it just might save someone's life? Cord blood is rich in stem cells and can be used to treat lymphoma, leukemia, and bone-marrow cancer among other diseases.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Natural Cleaners Part IV: BORAX

This is the 4th part in our Natural Cleaners series, and today I'm going to bring you ways to implement borax into your cleaning routine at home. Borax is a very useful mineral that is "quite alkaline, so it kills mold and fungus and softens water," says Robert Wolke, Ph.D. the author of What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained ($16).

Here are some practical ways to put it to use around the house (courtesy of Real Simple):
*baseboards, countertops & walls: dissolve 1/2 cup borax in 1 gallon hot water and pour into a spray bottle. spritz generously, wipe with a damp cloth & let air-dry.
*china: soak china dishes in a dishpan filled with warm water and 1/2 cup borax. rinse well.
*dishwasher: to get rid of the smell from last night's dinner, sprinkle borax in the bottom of the dishwasher, let it sit overnight, & then wipe with a damp sponge. No rinsing required - just run the next load.
*pots & pans: rub borax into cookware with a damp sponge; rinse well.
*toilet: pour borax into the bowl and let it sit overnight. Use a toilet brush & swish around the bowl. Flush the following day.

Happy (natural!) cleaning, ladies! Stay tuned for next Thursday's Part V: Essential Oils

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

DIY: Baby Block Mirror

This is such a clever idea for decorating any baby's nursery or any child's bedroom. It brightens the room (mirrors reflect light!), adds a pop of color, is both chic & vintage at the same time, not to mention it helps kids learn their ABC's! What's not to like, right? And putting it together couldn't be simpler, really. Here is all you need:

*mirror (with flat sides)
*wooden ABC blocks

Simply take your blocks and glue them around the perimeter of your mirror with some glue - that's it!

Send some pictures my way if you try this out - I'd love to see them! adamsblankie@gmail.com

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

FINALLY: Nontoxic Nursery Paint!!

Of course we all want our baby's room to be bursting with color and filled with a fresh new coat of paint as we anticipate their arrival! Or we're so looking forward to getting rid of the "baby-themed" room our toddler has outgrown, and yet again, can't wait to work the walls over with a fresh coat of paint!

One thing I have learned through my Interior Design school is that paint is, in fact, that easiest (and cheapest!) way to totally transform a room! I couldn't agree more - I absolutely swear by the stuff! But I do not like all the odors and chemicals that come with it, particularly when making over children's bedrooms.

Mythic has come out with a line of high-performance paints that are free of carcinogens and do not have volatile organic compounds or toxins. This is fantastic news, as those toxins have been linked to respiratory illness. Mythic paints are low odor, and were developed at the University of Southern Mississippi in collaboration with scientists.

These gems will run you about $17-$22 for a quart, but well worth the cost in my opinion, especially if your child suffers from asthma or allergies.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Keeping Dad In the Loop

Studies out there are showing that Dads often feel left out of parenting. Add that to statistics pointing out that Dads spend an average of a mere 45 seconds (gasp!) of one-on-one time with their kids each day, and you'll see there's a serious need to keep Dad in the parenting loop.

Here are some tips on doing just that (first 4 ideas are courtesy of Redbook magazine):
*Maintain and protect family time. When Dad comes home, don't get on the computer to chat with another mom or check your email. Do that during the day when your kids are napping or at school. Preserve the family unit, and make sure you have solid family time at night.
*Include Dad in weekend activities. If you're planning an outing with some girlfriends for the upcoming weekend, invite the Dads, too. He can make some new friends and feel he's part of the community instead of a competitor with it.
*Make sure he knows he's valued. You as the Mom probably were the one to read all the "how-to" books on parenting, getting your baby to sleep through the night, potty training, etcetera, so naturally you feel you know more than Dad does. That being said, when Dad makes a suggestion, consider it before blowing it off, and let him know you value his input. Complement the things he does do well with baby, so that he won't be completely deflated when either go to other moms for advice, or you don't take up his suggestion for doing something else a certain way with the kids.
*Cuddle. Make sure you save some time for him and not just baby. Being physically affectionate shows him you care and reassures him how important he is to you.
*Schedule 1-on-1 time with Dad & child. You as Mom get all day long to be with the kids and soak up what they're learning, but with Dad at work all day, he misses out on a lot. Schedule some 1-on-1 time for just Dad and child on an upcoming Saturday. Not only will he feel connected to your child, but you will get a well-deserved break from parenting, as well. If you both work full-time, take turns scheduling one-on-one time for each other with the kids, so you each get both quality time with the kids and alone-time for some R&R.