Category Archive: Around the house

Valentine’s Day – Perfect Time for ‘Making’

Christmas-time gets busy with knitting projects for the kids and somehow I never seem to get it together to make candles for Feb 2nd but we have some fun picking and making Valentines. Plus, I have to admit that this year’s constant threat of snow here in the mid-Atlantic has made stand-by snow-day crafts a must.

This year, my little one didn’t seem to like my ideas, so we googled and googled and looked at lots of projects. He saw gardenmama‘s pine cone gnomes and wanted an army of them for his classmates. (He made himself a pumpkin for Valentine’s Day.)

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My oldest wanted to do something a little different and these caught his eye from jen at paint cut paste:

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These were great projects because the kids could do so much. My almost 5-yr old could find the pine cones with his brother and sew and stuff the gnome hats and hearts. (We didn’t make the hearts into pins). My almost 9-yr old found the sticks (in my parents kindling stack) and cut out the arrows and made the labels.

Thanks to gardenmama and jen for inspiring our Valentines!

Non-toxic silverware and dishes for kids

When my daughter started solid foods, of course I wanted to find dishes and spoons (and later, forks) that would be safe and non-toxic, ideally non-plastic. My main objection to plastic stuff for kids was not just about chemicals/safety, but aesthetics and durability. Plastic utensils, especially, seem to get chewed up pretty quickly, and dishes get scratched and just plain don’t last. This stainless steel bowl and spoon, on the other hand, was MY first bowl and spoon, back in the dark ages of the early 1970s; it has held up well enough to be used not only by my younger brother, but now my own daughter, and hopefully more children for years to come.

We started out, of course, with the silicone-tipped Gerber baby spoons everyone uses. When R progressed to more self-feeding, we tried this Safety Fork and Spoon set, but I hated them—the spoon was too flat to actually scoop anything up, and the “safety” tines on the fork made them useless for spearing anything. We also have the Take and Toss set, which I kept in the diaper bag for meals out and travel, but since they’re all plastic, I didn’t want to use them for every day.

Then one day I wandered into Fishs Eddy, one of my favorite stores. They always have a big display of open stock flatware in the front of the store for $0.99 per piece. Demitasse spoons are the perfect size for a toddler or preschooler, and dessert or cocktail forks (or maybe fish forks? no idea what all those different forks are for) work great too. I even picked up a little butter knife for when R is ready to practice using one. Here are the little pieces I picked up, with a full-size dinner fork and knife next to them for comparison:

Browsing around the clearance section at Fishs Eddy, I found some other items that work great repurposed as kid dishes: latte bowls and espresso cups:

You can order from Fishs Eddy online, but a greener option would be to scope out garage and estate sales or flea markets, or even restaurant supply stores, in your area to find odd little flatware items or mini dishes to use. Ceramic ramekins are also great for serving and microwaving baby food.

One last resource I love: Asian markets. Japanese-made kidware is adorable, and I tend to trust its safety (more so than, say, made-in-China stuff) because they just have higher standards than we do—they were way ahead of us on BPA, for example. I got this super cute owl dish at Pearl River Mart here in NYC, where they have so many other great kids’ dishes—don’t you just love these bowls? (I didn’t get them myself because I knew R would constantly be picking them up to look at the animals on the outside!)

Photo: pearlriver.com

Oh, and I have to mention what we do for drinks. Out and about, we love our Kleen Kanteens; around the house (when R is sipping juice on the couch, for example) we use Take and Toss Straw Cups with disposable straws (I know, SO not eco-friendly, but the reusable straws get gross and moldy so easily and I don’t have the patience to clean them properly). But at the table, Rose gets a real glass—the Ikea REKO glasses are stackable, kid-sized, and so cheap ($1.99 for 6!) that I don’t mind if she breaks one every now and then.

What kids’ dishes and utensils do you love? Have you found other “grownup” items that work well for kids?