Best Shops to Buy Paint Your Own Wooden Toys

Sometimes you want wooden toys to be in your own color scheme. Or you want them cheaper than the major brands. Or you want to go crazy with the limited time of raising that you decide painting 100 little mushrooms is a *good idea*.

I’ve been there and back. Painting your own wooden toys take time and effort. What paints to use, what sealants to use, and where to buy from.

I put together this list of Etsy sellers who make their own wooden toys. You can purchase them unfinished, sand them, paint them, and seal them to your own color scheme.

I choose only small businesses because 1. support small business!, 2. skips out on “made in we don’t know where” products. All the products listed are made by artisans themselves. Some are in the US, a couple in the UK, and a few in Russia.

If you have a photo you’d like to share of your wooden creation, please contact me and I’d be happy to post it here.

Disclosure: The links to purchase these toys at Etsy are affiliate. I make a tiny amount of commission for each sale made through the links below. It costs you nothing but helps me cover my costs to continue writing and maintaining this site. Thank you for the support!

Orlando Wooden Toys – Recommended products: 9 piece wood semicircle, 12 piece wooden rainbows (disappears from stock quickly!), 6 piece Wooden Wave Stacker Toy. Plus, plenty of super cute teethers. Buy them unfinished if you want to paint them.

Clickity Clack – SO MANY PRETTY THINGS. They come unfinished so you may need to sand some items. All my peg dolls are from here and oh my, the baby bumble bees are the cutest.

I went through each peg doll listing and pulled their dimensions. This should help you when building your collection. Below is a photo I took of all the Clickity Clack people I own. They #1, #4, #5, #2, and #10.

No. 1 Large Angel/Woman peg dolls measuring 3-1/2 inches tall and 1-1/2 inches wide.

No. 4 Tall Man Peg Dolls measuring 3 9/16 inches tall.

#5 Large Boy Peg Doll is 2-5/16 inches tall with a 7/8 inch base

The #8 Small Boy Peg Doll is 1-11/16 inches tall and 5/8 inches wide.

#11 Hard Hat Guy/Helmet Head Peg Dolls – 2-1/8 inches tall with a ¾ inch base and a 1-1/16 diameter hat.

#2 Small Angel/Girl – 2 inches tall and 7/8 inches wide

No. 6 Little Woman peg dolls measuring 2 -1/4 inches tall and 3/4 inches wide. They have a flat bottom.

#3 Girl with Skirt Peg Dolls measuring 2 inches tall with a 5/8 inch diameter base.

#7 Little Tots Peg Doll is 1-3/16 inches tall and 5/8 inches wide.

#10 Bumble bee/baby – 1-3/16 tall like the Little Tots, but has a curved body that is 5/8 inch at the widest point. They have a flat bottom only 3/8 inch wide. Chocking hazard! One of the kids favorite peg people.

They also sell vehicles that match to the sizes of the people (READ the listing properly!). Go crazy, the prices are great and they are made in the USA.

Cedar Oaks– They make wine racks but they also make peg dolls. Sizes are pretty standard and below are the sizes currently for sale. Of course confirm with the owner in case you need the peg doll to fit something specific.

Dads – 2-3/8″ tall x 7/8″ wide
Moms – 2-1/4″ tall x 3/4″ wide
Girls – 2″ tall x 7/8″ wide
Boys – 1-11/16″ tall x 5/8″ wide
Babies – 1-1/8″ tall x 5/8″ wide

ROSTOKToys – The prices are amazing. I have the sorting bowls with mushrooms, rattle, lacing vegetable beads, and nesting dolls. The shipping will cost a lot as with most of the other shops, but I love the quality. Made in Russia by a family, all the products are popular with the kiddos.

I Used to be a Tree – The name of the store is adorable. I haven’t shopped here personally, but I am eyeing the wooden acorns and kokeshi dolls. Who wouldn’t fall in love with the roundness?!

Kokeshi doll sizes: 1 Large – 4″ Tall
1 Medium – 3 1/4″ Tall
1 Small – 2 1/2″ Tall
1 Teeny – 2 1/8: Tall
1 Tiny – 1 1/2″ Tall

Crafty Wool Felt – The owner has a beautiful collection of felt products. Felt balls and sheets and ready made pieces – it’s all eye candy. She also has a small collection of wooden items: people, trees, spools, beads, snowmen.

House Mountain Natural – Delightful wooden food, eco friendly baby gift sets, and paint your own wood pieces, Ross has a lovely collection.

Bob Hudson Wood Crafts – Need wooden animals? Why yes, you do. Bob makes lots of wooden animals and wooden Christmas pieces. Based in Connecticut, it’s another made in the USA toy.

Have a shop I should include or photos to share? Let me know!

The Christmas Gift Guide for Newborns to 1 Year Olds

Can I tell you a secret? A secret you can share with a new mom. In fact, promise me you’ll share this with another mom.

You don’t need fancy toys to entertain a baby.

Say it again with me, YOU DON’T NEED FANCY TOYS TO ENTERTAIN A BABY!

First of all, newborns only care about three things: milk (from your boob or a bottle), snuggling and cuddling with a warm body, and having their diaper changed. When it comes to entertainment, newborns love being outside, they love looking at trees and leaves, and they love looking at faces. Guess what, all these things are free!

Now, here’s when life gets tricky. Babies evoke ALL THE FEELS in us. Utter happiness, misery, sleeplessness, joy, pain, you name it. We also all want what’s best for our babies, so we tend to over shop. Families too.

My list here is a combination of things you can find at home and simply elegant toys. They are not battery operated, they are not over-colored willy nilly junk, these are toys that benefit their development without overwhelming them (and you).

A word of warning. A lot of Amazon listed toys today come from unbranded/off brand companies from China. They’re Chinese companies selling plastic and wood toys at a fraction of the price. Do your research. Amazon does not check compliance for meeting toy safety standards for the US or the EU (in the same they don’t check for copyright infringement and fake books)

Make sure you, family, and friends understand the need to purchase quality, well known brands (more on popular brands coming soon in a post) because of counterfeiting, evasion of toy safety standards, and in some cases, poor human rights records.

If you want an easy list of good retailers, check out my Cyber Monday list supporting small businesses.

Now on to the good stuff! The 0-12 month period for a baby

Tupperware, pots and pans, wooden spoons, kitchen utensils – Notice something here? They’re all things you can find in the kitchen! Look no further than your cabinets to entertain a crawling/sitting baby.

Teething? No problem. Give them a wooden spoon or a silicon straw.

Want to make noise? Fill a tupperware with dry beans and seal it shut with tape (avoid the choking hazard). Give them a few pots and a few wood spoons and let them bang on them. They will probably bang on your cabinets, the floor, you, and themselves, but guess what? You can teach them about density and materials composition? “Ohhh, I see you found the tile floor. How does the wooden spoon sound when you bang on it? Your kiddo won’t answer btw, but probably giggle. “Look at that! A metal spoon on a metal pot, that’s pretty loud!”

Want to teach them colors and food? Grab a bunch of different dry beans and pastas and put them in containers. Seal them with tape and hand them to baby. You can talk about colors, sizes, shapes, whatever you want.

Now for toys you can buy. These are developmentally appropriate, foster thinking and curiously, and lack the flashy beeps and bops of traditional battery operated toys.

LOVEVERY Play Subscription – Go on autopilot with this nice collection of curated toys for newborns to two years old. Easy for family to pitch in and you get just a few toys every month. Some of the toys are inspired by Montesorri ideas (like the Imbucare box, circles), others are Waldorf inspired (e.g. blocks).

Grimms Pebbles – Are they rocks? Are they plastic? No, they’re wood! Light and soft, the Grimms pebbles are fun for stacking, matching colors, and even a little chewing. As your baby gets older, the pebbles can be used in imaginary play as grass, water, sand, and whatever your child conjures.

Jellycat Tails books – I never knew the magic of crinkle books until I was gifted the Jellycat tails books. Rainbow tails, farm tails, jungle tails, the series is a hoot. Babies love the books to chew on, crush with their fingers, and throw. The whole series is fun, so pick one you like.

Plan Toys Baby Key Rattle – Just like the plastic counterpart from popular brands, this sweet wood key rattle is perfect for teething babies. And babies who want throw stuff (which, by the way, are all babies). Good for 4 months old and up.

Stacking bowls and boxes – Stacking blocks, stacking bowls, stacking cubes, stacking cups, stacking pacifiers, you name it and a toddler will stack it. I love the black and white Grimms stacking bowls and nesting cubes. Yes, they are pricey, but they will last several years. They are durable and are multi-functional. Babies, toddlers, and even young children love stacking filling containers and moving them around.

Pounding toy – $12.99 on amazon – What better way to bash stuff than to give your young toddler a toy that *can* be bashed! The Melissa and Doug pounding toy is great for those little hands. Good for babies 10 months+, this toy hits its stride with 15 months and up. Make sure to supervise baby so they don’t pound their fingers (or remove the ‘hammer’ and let them use their hands to press the pegs in).

Manhattan Toy Skwish – $13.99-$16.99 depending on color on Amazon – My baby received the Skwish when he was 10 months old. He didn’t really know what to do with it except throw it around. By 12 months old, he loved it! Throwing it, squishing it, stretching it; this was clearly a hit! Having never seen one in my life until then, I eventually ended up three Skwishes (other parent friends getting rid of them). Again, super fun. E

Even when my toddler was 3 years he would play with it. I’d tell him to step on it and stretch it as if he were angry – win on the expressing feelings front!

Teethers – Not just a gift, but to also protect your insanity once baby begins teething and chewing on everything like a wild golden retriever. Freezing teethers can be frozen – your kiddo will have a love/hate relationship but they are worth it because they will last a few years as your little one goes teething nuts. Then they are jelly like keys, wood teethers, silicon based beads, the famous Sophie la Giraffe for babies to chew on. You will want 4-5 of teething items because they get lost easily and your baby will go in phases of what they love. Have them on hand now.

Toothbrush + Toothpaste – You probably can’t believe it, but by the time your newborn becomes a one year old, they will sprout some of teethy fangs. Create good habits with daily brushing. At this time you need a teeny tiny bit of fluoride free toothpaste ( Jill and Jack toothpaste creates eco friendly packaging and products) and a soft toothbrush. You can use a finger toothbrush, a bamboo toothbrush, or a silicon toothbrush. Whatever works for you and baby.

Bonus: for a luxury item, the LOVEVERY play gym.

As always, babies must be supervised when playing.

Small Business Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals

It’s here! Black Friday sales are here! And so are some great deals from small businesses. These are all the ones I know, if you have a company I should, comment below or instagram me @bindisandbottles.

As always, many of the links below are affiliate. This means I make a tiny commission if you buy something through the link. It costs you nothing but helps pay my hosting bills and to keep writing. Thank you for the support!

Danny & Luca – 20% off over $100 purchase. Few items left, subscriptions are sold out though. There will be a restock in a week or two.

Oompa Toys – No sitewide sale but some products are on sale. They have Grimms, HABA, Petit Collage, Wee Gallery. Use my referral code to get $10 off a $50 or more purchase.

Lollipop Sky – Grimms blocks, the dwarf village, pink pebbles, stacking boxes, fire and earth, and large rainbow are available.There are also some Holztiger and Ostheimer left too. Be sure to use my referral code and sign up for the newsletter to get a coupon code.

Dearest Diapers – 20% off with DDBFSALE20, some exclusions. Grapat bowls and nins still in stock, Glückskäfer, Grimms, car seats and lots of other brands.

Meenal Patel Studio – 15% off eligible orders, free shipping on most products. I love Meenal’s illustrations and books. An Indian American, her stories resonate with children of color and anyone who loves a good story.

Orlando Wooden Toys – Etsy – Free shipping on all purchases. Sale currently on, date ending unknown. Know for their elements stackers, rainbow stackers, and vehicles. Can come finished or unfinished.

Mirus Toys – Free shipping – last day for US orders is Dec 2nd for Christmas delivery; International guarantee deadline passed. The prettiest Montessori and Waldorf perpetual calendars you’ve seen.

Happy Tree Store – 20% off wooden toys AND free shipping. Trees, rainbows and lovely open ended wood toys from Russia is hot. Be sure to confirm ship out date to arrive to you by Christmas.

TheWoodPeckerFactory – 10-15% off, free shipping on most products. Great collection of wooden animals.

Wooden Caterpillar – 10-20% off and free shipping on most. German toy shop on Etsy. They have a massive collection of wooden animals. Particular favorites are the animal sets and trees.

Heir Loom Kids USA – Made in the USA wooden toys. They have a few classic Montessori toys: the stackers and shape puzzles along with custom name puzzles, and push toys.

Your Little Doves – Current 20% off sitewide with code SHOPSMALL (exclusions apply). Special Black Friday products will be 50% off (cannot be stacked with sitewide code). Also, you can use my discount code for $10 off (ymmv)

Studio Yali on etsy – Indian goddess peg people! Looking to add diversity and a little mythology to your wooden toy collection? Studio Yali has divine goddesses like Durga, Saraswati, and Lakshmi. You can also buy peg dolls wearing different Indian outfits.

Jens Pretty Pegs – Free shipping for most purchases. Jen’s hand-painted pegs are TO DIE FOR. Seriously, if you want beautiful peg people, go to her.

The Natural Baby Co – 15% OFF STOREWIDE* Fri., Nov. 29TH(12:01 AM ET) Through Mon., Dec. 2 (11:59 PM ET). *Excludes Jellycat, Grimms, Veer, Lilly & River, Wobble. GroVia 20% Off. Sale Category 50% Off. Referral code here should give you free shipping. Gluckskafer, Ostheimer, and more.

Rose & Rex – Sale over. My referral code with give you 15% off. They have WaytoPlay (though check pricing), Gluckskafer, and Grapat.

LOVEVERY – Sale over but plenty of things around!

Sanskar Teaching – Needing to learn Gujarati? Or freshen up? Enjoy 50% all week on the long and short classes. Use code HALF

Dyper – Not toy related, but diapers! Not any old diapers, bamboo diapers that are compostable. They can go in a home compost or be sent off for composting. (I’m not sure if they can be used in the city compost bin. Still, a way more environmentally friendly than any other company.

Why and Whale – 15% off sitewide with BLACKFRIDAY.

I also want to mention Nest.ca as a lovely store too. They aren’t doing Black Friday sales per se, but they have fantastic service and great prices.

That’s all for now! Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for supporting me!

/Preeti


http://i.refs.cc/7livserj?smile_ref=eyJzbWlsZV9zb3VyY2UiOiJzbWlsZV91aSIsInNtaWxlX21lZGl1bSI6IiIsInNtaWxlX2NhbXBhaWduIjoicmVmZXJyYWxfcHJvZ3JhbSIsInNtaWxlX2N1c3RvbWVyX2lkIjozODcwMzYyODl9

$50 & Under Gifts for 3-5 Year Olds {Christmas Gift Guide!}

It’s that time of year! The stores are full of toys and kids are full of imagination from toy catalogs to what’s a la mode.

Here’s the deal, you know, and I know, that the majority of toys advertised on TV, in the catalogs, and by other kids, are junk. Noisy, small pieces, gimmicky, things that have no value after a couple weeks of play. Does these toys delight little kids? Absolutely. Are they really a good idea? No, not really.

If you need to send family or friends Christmas ideas that aren’t character branded, Disney slathered, Marvel Comics pumped, then I have a list for you. All the toys are under $50, they’re great quality, and they will last your kids years, not days. Please bear in mind that while some of these toys don’t look exciting to *you*, does not mean they won’t be beautifully loved for years to come.

Sometimes the best toys are the most simple and elegant ones.

Grab the link and share!

Disclosure: Most of these toys are my or my child’s favorites. The links to purchase these toys at Amazon or Natural Baby Co are affiliate. I make a tiny amount of commission for each sale made through the links below. It costs you nothing but helps me cover my costs to continue writing and maintaining this site. Thank you for the support!

Play Kitchen – Of all the toy play kitchens on the market, the best by far is from IKEA. It is elegant, aesthetically pleasing, and mostly wood (a couple pieces are plastic. There are no stickers and crazy colors, the IKEA toy kitchen is a calming place to play.

To fill that kitchen, you need some basic items. Goodwill or the thrift store is great for buying real objects: utensils, little plates, and kitchen knick-knacks. For something more specialty, Plan Toys has a sweet tea set made from wood. It’s gender neutral and perfect for all ages and genders. Hape also makes lots of wooden fruits and veggies and tea sets.

Whatever you choose to buy for the play kitchen, be intentional in purchasing non-gender conforming colors. The days of pink cups are over. Girls AND boys play with tea sets and dolls, so please don’t be the person limiting your child’s interests.

Bruder dump truck – $49.99 on Amazon – Bruder is my go-to toy truck company. While you can get them on Amazon and at some specialty toy stores, the best place to score a Bruder truck is at the Home Goods store. They are well made, a mix between plastic parts and metal parts, and many of the models are still made in Germany.

Snap Circuits – $20.99 on sale at Amazon – Get your child involved in electrical engineering with Snap Circuits. Good for kids 4 years and up (5 years is recommended on the box), this junior will pique your little ones interest in building and engineering.

Sneaky, Snacky, Squirrel Game – A collaborative board game, little kids will love the sneak squirrel. More for aged 4+.

Adopt an Orphan – Managed by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, the adopt an orphan allows you to contribute to caring for an orphaned elephant, giraffe, or rhino. Through the $50 adoption, you’ll get a certificate, access to updates, and special photos. Teach your children about the importance of saving our wildlife for future generations.

Corolle dolls – My friend introduced me to these dolls as a birthday present present for my 1 year old. It became a hit. My toddler son fell in love too that we had to purchase one for him as well.

Our favorite Corolle are the ones with the weighted bean body. Bonus for being washing machine safe (trust me, they will eventually go to the bubble bath). The company still lacks in having a diverse line-up of different skin toned dolls, but there are a couple at least.

Petit Collage magnetic sets – Going to a restaurant? At the doctor’s office? Need to entertain kids in a mess free, noise free way? These magnetic tins are the best! I like the veterinarian play hospital, funny faces, tree house sets.

Marble runs – The Hape Quadrilla marble run is a feast. The basic set is under $30. With fun add-ons and expansions, the set isn’t cheap, but it’s a great gift from family members for large builds by several children. As a bonus, The Wall Street Journal calls the marble run a STEM coding toy.


Green Toys Car Transporter – $24.99 on Amazon – What makes this plastic toy so great you ask? Well, it’s 100% recycled plastic. And it’s darn good quality. Green Toys is another one of my personal favorite brands and what toddler/young child doesn’t love a car carrier? For an alternative, check out the Melissa and Doug racecar carrier set.

Brio train sets – Trains, trains, more trains. Brio is a Swedish company famous for their train sets. You may have even grown up with them. Either way, trains are still awesome. Get started with a few small sets and build from through secondhand shopping (FB marketplace) and off-brands (okay, I said it). You can also add on with specialty pieces like the Brio bridges, off-brand level stacking (to create multi-level train tracks), cool trains, and switches.

At this point you are probably thinking, “oh no, Thomas the Train, please no no no!” I’m with you on that. I despise the Thomas the Train tv show and I absolutely despise the overpriced trains. Solution? Buy those secondhand. FB marketplace is a treasure trove of other parents dumping their kids Thomas the Train tracks.

Unit blocks – $52.49 on Amazon – The essential building blocks for every child. The natural colored blocks allow children to create cityscapes, farms, oceans, castles, houses, wherever their imagination takes them. For the $50 budget, Melissa and Doug is sure bet, the Bajo Manhattan Skyline (though I’d use it more as supplement, $49.95)as is the 40 piece set from Plan Toys. If your budget has lots of room, you can look to Grimms Large Stepped Pyramid ($199). Fora fun add-on, check out Uncle Goose blocks. These made in the USA blocks (yes! MADE IN USA!) range from beautiful alphabet blocks to planets and moon phases to dinosaurs and ocean blocks.

A word of caution if you are looking on Amazon for unit blocks. There are a lot of off-brand, Chinese companies selling unit block sets. You need to thoroughly check that all the pieces are *not* a chocking hazard. In addition, you should vet the paint and wood used by those companies. Frankly, I don’t trust them, and Amazon reviews won’t help in terms of consumer safety.

Ostheimer wooden animals and figures – $7.95-$25.95 prices vary on style from Natural Baby Company Co – These German handmade animals are a mark of beauty. They are durable, beautifully painted, and if taken care of will last your to your grandchildren’s generation. These wooden animals are not cheap in comparison to plastic stuff, they are an investment for birthdays and holidays each year. You can buy a few at a time or ask each family member to purchase a couple pieces – the collection will grow quickly thanks to a loving family.

If Ostheimer isn’t quite your thing, check out Holztiger, also wooden animals made in Germany. They come in a bit better price point and are just as loved. Perhaps my favorite are the subscription boxes from Danny and Luca. The website shop is run by a mom and she curates these gorgeous Holztiger sets. If you subscribe to a 3 or 6 month box, you’ll be paying $8-9 per piece, a substantial discount over retail.

When you’re starting a wooden animal collection, start by theme. If the kids love farm animals, put farm animals on their wish list. If they love the ocean, fill their gift list with ocean animals.

Duplo – Seriously, can you ever go wrong with Lego Duplo? The building possibilities are endless, there are loads of animals and cars, and so many specialty pieces, your little ones will be busy for hours. As a bonus against Legos, you won’t vacuuming Duplo or stepping on them like spikes in the house! I recommend using Facebook Marketplace to buy loads of mixed up Duplos at rock bottom prices. A grocery bag full of Duplos would cost $20-40. These mixed bags will give you lots of pieces to go build crazy. For specialty sets, buy the boxed Duplo. Some of my favorite are the, Truck excavator, fire station (set 10903), baby animals, and submarine set.

Extra credit for Lego being one of the few major toy manufacturers catering to women. Female truck drivers, female doctors, female people of color scuba divers, the company is making big strides forward.

Tegu tram set – $49.99 on Natural Baby Co – Anything Tegu really is super fun.

Melissa & Doug Wood Barn – $39.99 on Amazon – Includes 7 animals, this is a great starter barn set for any creative mind. As your child grows, you can add on more animals, Schleich is great, and wood blocks to create a farm world. Make sure not to buy the *latches* barn; it’s just a barn with a lot of latches!

Magnatiles – Build with magnets! Similar to Tegu, Magnatiles allow you build. Compared to Tegu, Magnatiles are plastic based, build larger systems, yet are trickier in forming complex designs. You could also buy Picasso Tiles, which are a lot cheaper.

Art Supplies – price varies at Amazon &Target – Art supplies of any sort are loved by little ones. Notebooks, crayons, markets, stickers, glue, this is not just a refresh of your kiddo’s book bag, it’s a way for your child to have private space to think and express themselves. Art is therapeutic and developmentally important. Classic Crayola crayons and markets are always a win.

Cuddle + Kind – $52 on Natural Baby Co – These stuffed toys are the cutest! Made in Peru by hand, each purchase provides 10 meals to children in need. You can get the 13” for $52 or the 20” doll for $72. Yes, they are pricey, but they are not made in China and they are not cheap quality. You get what you pay for.

Hope you enjoy this non-mainstream list of toys for your little ones to enjoy this holiday season. Your kids will love you and so will your bank account.

The Holiday Wooden Toy Gift Guide

It’s that time of the year to shop for the loved ones, and little people, in your life. To help support small businesses, I have put together my favorite products from Etsy and other small retailers (though a few are from Amazon for sheer convenience).

As I am part of several wooden toy and open ended play groups, these products come highly recommended.

This Christmas gift guide is ALL about wooden toys. It’s difficult to shop at, and find, businesses that foster a more environmentally friendly, sustainable method of production. Most of the toys listed below are made in Germany, Poland, Russia, and Thailand by small businesses.

This list *isn’t* about the big box manufacturers, it’s about the small, family grown companies that want the toys to last generations.

Skip the beeping and batteries, the branding, the fast fashion and return to the simplicity and elegance of wooden toys.

Share this list with your friends and families needing advice on what to buy for Christmas.

Also check out the Montessori toys & development small business list (coming soon) and the desi/South Asian toy and book lists (coming soon).

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate. It doesn’t cost a penny to you to click and shop, but I get a small commission by purchasing through the links below. This help fuels my sleep-deprived mom of 3 self with caffeine, fruit, and nuts.

Please note that some of these sellers are overseas so shipping times may vary. Also be sure to communicate with the seller if you want a custom order or need rush shipping.

Jen’s Pretty Pegs

It’s ridiculous how cute these peg dolls are. You can buy ready made peg people or have Jen custom make dolls to look like you. Exclamation point!

The Blockbuster Brands of Wooden Toys

Grapat – Made in Spain

Gluckskafer

Grimms – Made with love, and by hand in Germany, Grimms wooden toys is by far the powerhouse of the wooden toy world. Loved by children in endless open ended building of ball runs, peg people, and whatever landscapes a wooden block can bring, the Grimms toys are loved.

I own only a few Grimm’s toys, but expansion is on my horizon. The toys have a higher price point, but if you want quality, know the source of the materials, handmade items, then they are worth every penny.

We LOVE the large rainbow, 1001 nights, building boards, and semi circles. I plan to buy the stepped roofs, large stepped pyramid, moon houses.

Ostheimer – Made in Germany by hand, the gorgeous wooden animals and people are treasured in households across the globe. There’s something magical about holding a handmade wooden animal.

Holztiger – Also a German company making wooden toys by hand, Holztiger is a household name. Available at a more economical price point than Ostheimer, Holztiger animals are uniquely special.

Tegu – Tegu opens the world of wooden builds through magnetic play. Each wood piece have magnets on the ends and can connect with each other. Safe for one year olds and up, Tegu toys hit the stride with 3-6 year olds. While they are on the pricy side, they have good resale value and can be used for years. Like Lego, the Tegu block sets can be combined and built to make massive creations or pocket sizes bits.

Plan Toys Made in Thailand, these wooden toys are made from rubberwood, a renewable resource.

Happy Tree Store

You guessed it, they sell wooden trees. Different shapes and sizes and colors, pair them with wooden blocks, a cityscape or roadway, and the kids are good to go.

The Wood Pecker Factory, based in Romania, also sells a variety of wooden tree toys and wooden animals that have a striking resemblance to a certain German brand.

Myers Natural Rainbows

These rainbows are SO popular that as soon as they appear for sale on Etsy, people snap them up. These toys are made in the USA and are oh so gorgeous. Like Grimm’s rainbows and Ocamora rainbows, Myers have a special place in people’s hearts.

Skandico Toys

Skandico Toys is a Russian toy shop with a focus on blocks and puzzles. Their colors are from Germany and the wood is lime wood, a popular tree used for block making. They have several block sets so they worth investing if you want to keep the same color scheme.

outside everywhere

A made in the USA shop, outside everywhere features lots of different wooden animals. Some are highly detailed in painting while others are simplistic. You’ll find favorites for sure.

White Stork Wood


An up and coming woodworking shop from Russia, their whale, penguins, and ducks have phenomenal detail. Some of their products are one faced painted, so may disappoint if you want them painted on all sides.

Lapps Toys

Want a ball run that is made from wood AND made in the USA? Look towards Amish country and you’ll hit the spot.

Russian Nesting Dolls – ROSTOK Toys

Paint your own Russian Nesting Dolls. These are beautiful and are worth the price tag and the shipping. I have a couple sets and love them…now to just finish painting them!

Star and Moon Stacker – Timber Wolf Concepts

Teaching children how to balance, this stacker will delight little ones (2+ years old). Made in the USA wooden toys.

Wood Toy Car – Timber Wolf Concepts

From the same toymakers as the star stacker, these wooden cars are handmade and perfect for little roadways.

Weather Peg Dolls

There are several peg people artists on Etsy that make weather inspired dolls. My favorite designs are from Artistically Playful, Goodfaith Toys, Daniellasunflower, BettySkyla.

Daniella Sunflower
Goodfaith Toys
Betty Skyla Toys on Etsy
Artistically Playful weather gnomes on Etsy

Wooden Animals

wooden dinosaurs with magnets

wooden vegetables



More toys to be added to the list!

Does Your Doctor Really, Truly Care for You?

I have been pondering this for sometime now. I visit the doctor, rather several doctors, on a regular basis because I am pregnant. OH sooo pregnant! Plus I like to get sick too, so there are always extra visits to the GP (general physician).

Fun stuff!

After reading a book earlier in the year about pregnancy, the author asked if you, the client, truly felt that the doctors you visit care for you. That they get to know you, they are interested in your overall health and well-being. This is not the same as being competent or having good bedside manners. Rather, the author wanted to know if you as the client felt your doctors could advocate for you. They could empathize with you.

They were your advocate.

Over the past few years, I noticed a slight change in doctor-patient visits. They were shorter, by a few minutes, there was more time spent looking at the computer screen, there were fewer questions, and there was a need to move on. For them to move on to the next patient.

I soon figured out that every OB visit I have is allotted 15 minutes between the medical assistant and the doctor. There is an additional 5 minutes for paperwork, walking around, whatever. In all, each OB exam gets 20 minutes at best. The reality though is I get closer to 10 minutes with the OB (though surveys say 13-16 minutes to be the average).

10 minutes to discuss ALL your pregnancy issues, questions, concerns with your OB until they need to leave. And what happens when you do take up more time? The next patient’s appointment is inevitably delayed.

Looking back I realized I should have kept a timekeeping table on the delayed start of every appointment. Some were only 10-15 minutes late, other 60-90 minutes late. 90 minutes late for a 10 minute appointment. An incredible waste of time for everyone. And yet the appointment was less than 10 minutes.

What did we accomplish during those 10 minutes? My blood pressure, temperature, list of medications. Checked for fetal heartbeat. Got to ask my list of questions to ensure rapid fire response.

The point I’m trying to make is that as a patient, do you feel your doctors truly care for you? Or are they just competent and well mannered? And does it matter to you?

While I don’t think my OBs have the full picture of me and my medical history, I think they are knowledgeable people. And they’re kind. And I think they will get the job done safely (keeping the baby and I alive before/during/after labor and delivery).

But I’m not sure on anything else.


Subaru Ascent:

The latest in the Subaru family takes aim at the seven seater market. And for good reason, their last model didn’t do so well.

Subaru is back. And they are playing ball. The brand new Ascent, introduced in 2019, is simple yet big, bold, and fun.

We took a test drive with the Ascent. Here are our thoughts:
The pros:
🚗 Lower anchor latches in both the second and third rows.
🚗 third row seats three
🚗 19 cup holders (!)
🚗 USB charging cable in the third row
🚗 Panoramic roof option.
🚗 Tons of safety features

🚗 All wheel drive on all trim levels (actually, all Subaru cars are AWD)

Cons:
🚗 noisy – you can hear a lot of outside noise leaking in
🚗 very hard suspension – the worst thing for potholes and crack roadways. 🚗 Plastic’y feeling to the interior components. Okay, true, Subaru is not a luxury brand, but the parts just felt too low level for the cost.
🚗 Difficult to get into third row because of car seats.

For the 8 seater Subaru, it can fit plenty of car seats: a maximum of 3 car seats requiring front latches and 3 car seats requiring back tethers.

The 2 row seats move easily but they don’t have a great fold radius. There is the possibility you may have to remove one of child car seats in order to fold the seat itself.

Last, it was recommended to us to stick to the captain’s row and opt for the 7 seater. The 8 seater works if you must fit 8 people, but it’s not advised. And the Ascent doesn’t have the option of removing the 8th seat like the Honda Odyssey does.

Preeti’s verdict: not our choice but this is a great family vehicle for 7-8 people. The ride is a bit splotchy and the interior isn’t refined (then again, Subaru doesn’t pretend to be luxury either).

For cars in this price range, $35,000-$55,000, the Subaru Ascent is a must test drive for families.

Honda Odyssey: Stuff the Kids, the Grandparents, & Soccer Balls

The Honda Odyssey is THE Golden Standard for the soccer parent (formerly known as the soccer mom car). It’s not just a minivan, it’s the minivan of minivans, winning its own Game of Thrones of the 7 kingdoms of parentdom.

There are of course other minivans out there, most notably the Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Pacifica, and Kia Sedona. At this moment, I haven’t been able to check out one of these cars.

We did not have time test drive it, but, here’s the scoop:
The Odyssey is BIG – 203.2 inches long, making it one of the longest 7 seater cars. Longer cars are the true SUV beasts like the Tahoe, Suburban, Explorer.
The Odyssey has one of the largest cargo space area of any vehicle: 32.8 ft³. No joke. You can see in one of the photos how the trunk has a drop to allow even more space!
The interior is spacious and can accommodate 8 people. The middle chair in the second row can be removed to make it a captain’s row.
All 2nd and 3rd row seats have lower anchors #latch for #carseats(unlike the #volkswagon #atlas which lacks 3rd row lower anchors). There are a couple downsides to the Odyssey: AWD is not an option on any trim level. Panoramic roof only comes at the top trim level. And the third row does not have any USB ports. The materials in the car are not luxury but solidly good.
Price wise, the Odyssey is between $35-50K + taxes, putting in the same class as the #hondapilot #vwatlas #toyotasienna #fordexplorer #subaruascent .

Volvo XC 90 Car Review: A 3rd Row Disappointment

We saw the Volvo XC90 finally! Here’s what we thought:
✅ comfortable seats
✅ reasonably spacious third row
✅ extra cargo space under lid
✅ 2nd row middle seat child booster seat option
✅ all wheel drive option

❌ NO 3rd row lower anchors
❌ NO 3rd row back seat tethers
❌ Poor 2nd chair folding – you may have to take out a baby car seat to allow third row access
❌ not a car for 3+ children who require standard car seats.
❌ good interior but not truly luxury

I’ll be posting a video, but considering this is. Swedish brand with a history of safety standards and features, it’s shocking that the 3rd row allows for no car seats. A great car for five people for older children, but definitely not for kids under 4,

Car seat layout is disappointing at best. The middle seat in the second row has to steal from one of the end seats. Also an issue: to access the third row, the second row end seat must be folded; that means TAKING OUT the car seat.

And what parent has time to remove and reinstall a car seat every time the third row is needed?!

The only perk to the XC 90 is the 2nd row middle seat has an optional installed booster (33 lbs+) for older children.

You are still screwed in the 3rd row where no latches are available.

Preeti’s Recommendation:

Great for 2 young children requiring car seats or 3+ older children (boosters).

NOT recommended for families requiring 3 latched car seats.