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One minute you're decorating a nursery for your baby-to-be with two of your closest work friends, and the next minute you're writing about it while planning her second birthday party. How did that happen? Luckily I have photos to help me reminisce about her first room. And oh those Blik wall decals! How fun it was to figure out how to put them up, and how complicated we made deciding which shapes should go where. Luckily my friend Wendy, graphic designer by day, stuffed animal savior by night, was on hand to tell us a story with the shapes' placement, which actually did help us decide which ones to put where.  These chores can become tedious, or they can be tons of fun. You decide.  ~ Parents: How did you decorate your tot's first room? ~

 
 
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Credit: Chic Baby Rose
Whether you call them barrettes, hair-slides or hair clips, the most important thing is that they be cute!  There are a lot of hair clips to choose from these days, and at the top of the cute clip spectrum are those by Chic Baby Rose.  Their wool felt clips come in a variety of shapes, from fruits and treats, to days of the week and holiday themes. Kristyn, the creative force behind it all, can give a smiling personality to a carton of milk (goes great with a cookie) and a sunny disposition to a rain cloud.  Tiny loves her pink owl and alligator clips, and I was curious about which ones other kids like. Kristyn said that the the pink owl is indeed one of her most popular right now, along with the other birds. The Hello Kitty clips and personalized name clips are popular right now as well.  Better get to shopping at a rapid clip.  ~ Parents: What accessories are your tots enjoying right now? ~

 
 
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Credit: Curly Cupcakes
Just the other day, after buying Tiny some cute Hello Kitty plastic storage bags, I was thinking about how much money we all spend on things we know we are going to eventually throw out.  Paper towels, plastic bags, gift wrap. Yes, some can be reused or recycled, but eventually we toss it all. The very same day I found out about Curly Cupcakes from my friends at the apparel company One Eared Cat.  Austin-based Curly Cupcakes makes reusable cloth versions of everyday household items such as Sandwich Wraps, Cloth Wipes and UnPaper towels. I asked the founders for the inspiration behind their ingenious creations. Here is what co-owner Courtney Power-Freeman shared with me:  Our inspiration comes from other mamas, actually.  We are very active in the local mama community, and we heard several mothers wanting to purchase sandwich wraps and snack bags.  My business partner and I were already making UnPaper Towels, Cloth Wipes and Wet Bags, all reusable products made out of designer fabrics.  We knew we could add snack bags and sandwich wraps to the product line to fill the needs of the market. The mamas we made them for loved them, and so we went into business producing more.  They really are the hipper picker-upper.  ~ Parents: Do you have tips for getting more than one use out of common everyday items? ~

 
 
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Credit: Plastica
I was first introduced to Plastica by my friend Wendy, both an admirer and creator of all things plush, be they animal, vegetable, mineral...or chicken!  I had no words to describe the cuteness that was this "stuffed" poultry.  I looked around the site some more, and asked Carla at their shop which toys they have been selling a lot of this season. She said that the most popular toys have been the following: the inflatable Rody ride-on toy; Playforever vintage style vehicles; Soopsori wooden animals with blocks; Kid O floating ducks and the build-it-yourself Totem Tree by KIDSONROOF.  I find the wooden animals and floating ducks to be especially adorable, and the Totem Tree to be so original.  ~ Parents: What unique toys have you found this year? ~

 
 
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Credit: Anne Kiel Jewelry
I was late to get on the "wear your child's name on a charm" bandwagon. I just hadn't found I liked yet, but thanks to a good friend, I was set on that path with a beautiful charm from etsy.  All on my own, I bought an adorable charm from Anne Kiel stamped with "Mon Bebe" for Tiny for last Mother's Day.  I have also been a long time fan of her initial charms which friends and family both young and old can attest to! And it looks like literally defining ourselves by our jewelry is here to stay. So I decided to ask Anne about her new Mother's Endearments and Romance Language lines. I was curious about whether women are buying these for themselves, or hinting about receiving them as gifts!  She said she had so many custom requests for gifts for new moms that she started the separate mothers' line. She said that moms are also "definitely buying the Endearments and the Initial Necklaces on their own to 'celebrate' their own kids." ~ Parents: Have you bought or received such personalized jewelry? ~

 
 
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Credit: Arboretum Skin Care
I asked the owner of Arboretum Skin Care, Olga, what types of ingredients we should avoid using on young children. While she only creates skin care solutions and remedies for adults, she is both my aunt and a molecular biologist, so I value her opinion! She said that babies and kids should avoid ingredients such as PABA, sodium lauryl sulfate, mineral oil, lanolin, perfumes, pigments and dyes.  She added that preservatives such as formaldehyde, parabens and diazolidinyl urea should be avoided as well.  She explained that all of these ingredients can cause allergies and contact dermatitis. She also said that most of the time petroleum jelly (Vaseline) is pretty harmless, but that it can clog pores. ~ Parents: Have you found any baby bath or skin care products that you especially like? ~

 
 
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My friend Sara received a one-of-a-kind PachaMamma plush toy and wanted me to see how cute they are! I asked the company's owner, Janie, what kinds of fabric are best for these unique buddies.  She said that "stuffed animals can be made from just about any fabric: 100% cotton, corduroy, minky, knit fabric and more! Although my favorite fabric to make stuffed animals with is corduroy!  It gives a soft, sweet look while providing a little texture.  Parents could send me a specific fabric, or I am able to get more fabrics at my local fabric stores!  Stuffed animals, or any product from my store can be personalized.  A great option for gifts!" Sounds like another great opportunity for "Upcycling" some favorite baby clothes or blankets.  ~ Parents: Have you turned any favorite baby items into keepsakes? ~

 
 
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Credit: Textile Fetish
Tiny recently received a bag of hand-me-downs from her six-year-old cousin. The bag included a couple of things that I had given her over the years, so it will be nice to see them on my own daughter as well. One of those was a sock monkey patchwork skirt (similar to the one seen here) made by Textile Fetish.  I recently asked the company owner, Jennifer Ramos, if she had any special washing instructions for this "vintage" patchwork skirt, and she said to wash as I would anything else.  I still remember buying it at The Work*Shop in Austin, TX along with some knit cat ears. I was (and still am) doing my part to "Keep Austin Weird!"  ~ Parents: What hand-me-down items have you been excited to receive? ~

 
 
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Credit: Ruby's Garden
I asked Mae, co-owner of Ruby's Garden, what tips they have for parents shopping for used children's clothing.  They have recently started carrying second-hand clothing, and here is what Mae said. "Finding great second-hand clothes for your kids starts with going to a source you trust.  If you don't have time to wade through racks and racks of clothes, avoid thrift stores and go straight to boutiques which buy styles that suit your tasted and quality expectations.  You'll save time and money by buying pieces your child will actually wear, and higher quality clothing will last long enough for you to sell it back when your child outgrows it!  Most gently-used departments are organized by gender and size, but be sure to check both boys and girls racks in your child's size so you don't miss the more unisex styles.  Finally, if you have time, browse outside the official size your child is wearing, since sizing can vary widely among different brands." ~ Parents: What other tips do you have for shopping for used kids' clothing? ~