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Oct 16, 2010


So I have decided to take up sewing. It's something I have wanted to do for a while and now I have found someone to give me lessons. The only problem is that I will have to bring my daughter with me. Its not a problem per say, but she MUST do everything I do. So when ever I think of sewing with her around scenes fit for a horror movie mar my mind. But I thought of a solution, if I can get her engaged in something else while receive lessons, I may be able to learn something.

Then the light blub went off. the only time I am able to iron with out having to stop and run into the room is when she "irons" with me. When ever she sees me take out the ironing board she runs and gets some clothes out of her draw to press. I brought a toy iron from here on esty about a month ago. Only 5 dollars it was one of my best buys. It started my love affair with esty, one that has yet to disappoint me. Sigh But back to the light blub, I figured I could purchase a toy sewing machine and have her sew with me.

Perhaps she will have such found memories of her times sewing with me that she will pick it up as she gets older (and save me money on things like hijabs and hims, all the reasons why I am learning). And maybe me spending money on a toy will motivate me to continue sewing. (ok that ones a stretch) But the point is, I found some beautiful sewing machines. Their were several toy machines that really sewed, we are clearly not ready for that but they were cute. I also saw a few that were more along the lines of what I was looking for. The prices, were not. So i am still searching, but these are the few I have found thus far.

The first I found from A TOY GARDEN. This 12 inch toy sells for approximately $45. It is handmade in the USA and has a moving "needle". It was featured in the December 2007 issue of Living Craft. It is shown at the right.

My next two finds were on esty. The first is made by Woodclinic. He sells two models shown below. They both have moving parts. But what is special about his sewing machines is that they are made of reclaimed wood. His sewing toys are being sold for $49 and $60. Shown below.

The next esty person I found is SSWoodCraft. His toy have moving parts and ships from Montana for $39. This toy seller has been perfecting his craft for 40 years and it shows in the beauty of his work. It is shown here to the right.

My last find is from a story Wooden Toy Junction. These sewing machines are made of white pine. The wood comes from trees that are substantially harvested. It even ships in water souble biodegradable packing. Plus it is the most pocket friendly at $25.
It is shown to your left.

Oct 11, 2010

The Astronomical Kid - Stop Looking at my Moms

Yummy Vegan/Halal/kosher Gummies

So my mother started buying Welches fruit snacks for my booba. My DD loved them and I loved that she was eating something. That is until I realized they were made with pork gelatin :-(. So I have had it on my to do list to find a suitable alternative and today I did.

First I walked to Trader Joes and was happy to find they had three varieties of fruit snacks. Unfortunately they were all made with animal gelatin. I must say i appreciate the fact that they clearly listed that on their package, unlike Welches. From downtown Brooklyn I traveled to Park Slope. At Back to the Land.(Side note, they sell Qhemet Biologics!) I found what I was looking for, Vegan Gummy bears.

Well actually they were gummy bunnies. Annies Homegrown sells four varieties of their Bunny fruit snacks. So me being the collector and having traveled so far purchased all four varieties, berry patch, tropical treat, sunny citrus and summer strawberry. I must say they were tasty, a little bit stickier and chewier then Welches but yummy none the less. Plus the ingredients were pretty cool, no corn starch or red 40, it was made of cane sugar and fruit juices for color. The sugar and calories and the like were pretty comparable. Now although I was impressed with all of the above, I was not impressed with the price. They were about $5 a box and each box contains 5 individual pouches. Not highway robbery but just not cheap enough for this frugal momma. So I will either be on the hunt for a store that sells them for less.

Now there are some other Vegan/ Halal alternatives.
Edwards and Sons is another highly respected vegan company. They produce three kinds of gummy, regular, sour and jelly. Although I have not tasted them (yet), I have read nothing but good reviews of their gummies.

Surf Sweets. Some of their gummies are vegetarian and some are not. But they clearly state this on their website, again unlike other companies
. The following was taken from their FAQ page.

Are your products Vegetarian?
Five of our products are Vegetarian (Fruity Bears, Gummy Swirls, Jelly Beans, Sour Berry Bears and Sour Worms). Our Gummy Bears and Gummy Worms contain gelatin so they are not vegetarian.

Are your products Vegan? Four of our products are Vegan (Fruity Bears, Gummy Swirls, Sour Berry Bears and Sour Worms).

Seitenbacher is another company that sells gummies. On their site I counted 15 different flavors! Although they do not come in the cute individual bags like Annies, baggies work just fine.
Goody Good stuff is another brand that has received vegetarian certification. 8 flavorsere vegetarian approved and 4 were vegan approved. They are gelatin free.

One major candy company has jumped on the bandwagon, Haribo candies now sells a kosher and a halal version of their gummy bears. Their halal version is only produced in Turkey, but can be purch as ed in the North West. They are come in 8 flavors and are gelatin free. Here is their FAQ page.

Heavenly Delights is an Halal sweets company. They unlike the previously mentioned candies use gelatin and so they are not Vegetarian friendly. Still they are Halal their website states" All gelatin is from Pakistan and is approved by S.A.N.H.A (South African National Halaal Authority). You can also rest assured that the whole production process for Heavenly Delights confectionery is monitored by qualified scholars."

You may also go the kosher route.

Oh nuts is a store based in Brooklyn. They sell Kosher certified gummy bears. They are made using fish gelatin.

Simcha Sweets
is another New York store. They sell kosher gummy bears. What is cool about their site is they tell you the name of the Rabbis in charge of ensuring they are kosher.

Schneider Gummy Planet is the last that I will list for now. They van be purchased at Park East Kosher store.

Now you should be aware that although Vegetarian, Vegan, Halal and Kosher often overlap they are not always the same. Vegan is always vegetarian as, it has no animal products. However Vegetarian is not always Vegan,( a vegetarian could drink milk as it is not meat, but a vegan wouldn't because it comes from an animal. ) Similarly Vegetarian, vegan and kosher products may be Halal since they will not use pork. However they are not necessarily halal as they may use alcohol. So be responsible and read the box before you purchase and always feel free to call companies and ask them directly.

Oct 9, 2010

Snapaholics Sale

Snapaholics is having a one week sale.. This is the first sale they have ever had, I almost wish I had a need for new hair snaps. But instead of spending, I will share the love. For 20% off put FIRSTSALE in the coupon code section, sale ends OCt. 14. Let me just say I love their snaps, I live in New York, they capitol of everything and haven't found such cute, perfectly sized, affordable hair snaps for my babe. My favorite are the hearts and Style 12 flower snaps. Check out their sister blog, Keep Me Curly too.

Legos and arts n crafts

My daughter and I went to the Children's Museum of the Arts earlier this week. The museum was ok, I think I was expecting more after recently visiting the 5 floored Children's Museum of Manhattan and being familiar with the Brooklyn Children's Museum. It was very small in comparison to both and I was far from dressed appropriately for the paint splattered place(beige jilbab and coach bag far from a good move). I did appreciate the pay what you will on Thursdays between 4 and 6. This may be our new Thursday go to spot, particularly since it will soon be too chilly for our Tuesday Botanical gardens outings.

Most importantly my booba enjoyed herself and I noticed I few things about my booba. She loves organization(She insisted on putting away the chalk and pushing all chairs in), hates getting her hands dirty(a drop of glue or paint and she was off to the sink) and she gravitated towards legos (this combined with the organization caused her to fuss at a boy playing with legos outside of the lego section until he put them where they belonged). I left the museum inspired.

I came home and searched for my brothers old lego set. (Just because I had to wait to have a little brother before I discovered blocks, legos and cars doesn't mean my booba has not wait) I sorted through the set for the large legos. Their weren't many, and after about 18 years of after their purchase many were quite faded in color, but they will due the job. We washed them together and got to work building.

The lego's lead me to an arts n craft project. I decided to re-purpose a wipes container. Not just re-purpose, but decorate. Today we are taking bits of construction paper and making a collage on the box. When we are done I'll put up a picture of our creations.

Oct 7, 2010

I love my hair Sesame Street

I came across this on Beads Braids and Beyond and had to share. Sesame Street is one of three shows my DD watches. I loved it as a child and now as a parent. Where else would you find this video? I love my hair speaks for its self, enjoy! If you are interested in books that talk about hair check out my Listmania on amazon Hair Library

Oct 6, 2010

Why their are so few female engineers

If you are a frequent follower of my blog (if your not please click the little button at the very bottom of the page that says follow) you know that recently I have been looking for toys that encourage various skill sets. To make a long story short I came across this political cartoon and I think it sums up my last two post, Pink planes trains and cars oh my! and Raising balanced, high achieving girls through play.

Pink Planes,Trains and Cars Oh My!

So ever since I walked in upon my daughter playing with a toy car at school I have been itching to buy her some to join the car she owns. So here is a list of my top three cars, planes and trains designed with little girls in mind. If your daughter has not already drunk the cool aid(or should I say pink lemonade), don't by any means limit her to the pink and purple toys you see below. In- fact even if she has I would encourage you to include other color transportation toys in her collection. I wanted to list them because they are more difficult to find then the readily available primary color toys. These will serve as a nice addition to an already established collection or a starting point for a child who may not have otherwise considered playing with them. Still before going on a pink buying frenzy you may want to read Reene Carver analysis of construction and building sets designed for girls(after my post of-course) .


My favorite, for its ability to be taken a part and put back together is are Automoblox by Manhattan toy(side note, my babes first doll is by them).
As the name suggest Automoblex are a combination of cars and blocks. This car is about $37. The body is made of wood and the parts are compatible with other automoblex cars. So you can put the extra large rims from the purple X9 SUV on the pink C9 Sports car. (These two are on my to obtain in the future list). They also have a smaller car and many more color options. The Automoblex mini in pink available at Land of the Nod These cars would fit in two learning skills categories disguised in my previous post Raising balanced, high achieving daughters through play.

Approximately 5.5 inches long by 2 inches tall the Brio Race car (left) is a sleek option. It is designed for 12 months and up and comes in pink and other colors. You can find this wooden car for $3.50 to 7.50.

Do you prefer a more old fashion styled car? How about this Citron. You could get this toy for $18 to 30. Like the two above it is said to be the perfect first car, as it is large and easy to grip. And much to my liken made from wood. They also produce a lighter pink car.

The Whittle Shortline Railroad pink train set is simple beautiful. This company has been around for a long time and has a history of building long lasting wooden trains. For those who want to buy U.S. this company is in the Midwest. You can find this birchwood toy for 40 to 50 dollars.

If you do not have the room for such a long train you can purchase an engine for about $14. The BigJigs wooden pink train engine has nice bright yellow and red accents.It is also compatible with most tracks sets.(left)

If your daughter is a fan of Thomas the train she will adore Rosie. Designed by Learning Curve Rosie ranges in price from $5 to $12. Rosie is characterized as a Tom Boy on the show. She is also jut as big and strong as Thomas! If you search you may be able to find Lady a purple engine who has been retired by Learning Curve.

This pink planes simplicity made it a winner for me. I first noticed it on this Mommy Brain Reports. At $12 the Ribbon Plane by Monkey Business Sports is affordable, classic and cute. It is made of foam, making it light and able to glide through the air.(As it is also made for indoor and outdoor play, the foam is nice to prevent accidents) To play with it you spin it around using the attached string or toss it in the air.

Airflow Collectibles is the maker of this Fantasy Flyer.(to the left) It is a peddle plane, meaning large enough for your Bessie Colemen or Amelia Earheart to fit in. It ranges in price from $315 to 430 and can be purchased at many major stores. They also design other products including 2 peddle cars and 2 tricycles.

American Retro also designed a peddle air plan. It is similar is size and price but with a retro flare. They also have two pink cars available a Sedan and an Estate Wagon.


If you are looking for handmade items do not for get to search esty. And don't be like me and wait too long to purchase can many items are one of a kind (I missed out on a cute three car set). Here are a few I found. A cute helicopter by Birdyboots who also sells pink trucks and cars. A purple push car by DCWoodcrafts. Lastly, this adorable LadyBug car by Toys2Treasures.


The following is a list of non wooden toys. They are not my style but cool enough to mention.

Wow toys offers a few pink car options for younger girls. They are all compatible with other Wow toys and affordable. Their Dynamite Daisy seems particularly popular.

Fisher price has a plastic pink race car. Named the Shake N' Go the more you shake it the longer it races off. It is readily available and several major stores and only $10. They also manufacture a plane Little People Little Movers.

Looking for a remote control car? Kid Galaxy has you covered with My 1st Radio-Control Go Go Bubble Gum Racer.

Based off of the Pikar movie cars. Mattel manufactured a Pink SUV named Prank Pinkerton. Since I mentioned Mattel, I suspect you can find several pink Barbie Cars if it was desired.

Oct 5, 2010

raising balanced, high achieving daughters through play

If you have been reading my blogs you know that I put a lot of thought into the toys I allow my daughter to play with. I prefer toys that are natural because they stimulate the mind encouraging the child to think and discover, with out over stimulating. They also tend to provide a way to develop the life skills that children tend to naturally imitate you(and those around them). With my daughter imitating me she tends to do things that are stereotypically girly. Before I proceed, I am not against my daughter developing nurturing habits, in-fact I think it is desirable. Still, I sometimes wonder if I am providing her with enough opportunities to develop other skills. As an educator I am fully aware that girls lag behind in math and science skills. I feel we play a role in what types of thinkers we raise. If we limit our daughters to "girl toys" we will be limiting them to the house, or at minimum forcing them to run up hill if they choose a job that is not in a field that women traditionally work.

I am now challenging myself to encourage other types of play(while not discouraging her current play patterns). I took out the play doe and ball and purchased a set of Melissa and Doug Blocks on Wheels(a big hit). Still I was running into a brick wall and then I remembered a book I read when I was pregnant and decided to skim back through it.

The book I am referring to is Entitled Growing A Girl: Seven Strategies For Raising A strong, Spirited Daughter, by Dr. Barbara Mackoff. The chapter that I have re and re read several times is Chapter 17, Teach Her to learn Through Play. This chapter discusses what children learn during play, how toys socialize and develop or limit skills. It challenges the parent to look at the products they have been buying for their girl. She gives you several examples on how to use toys to raise a thinker. Here I will post a part of a section, What Toys Teach, that I found particularly useful.

Spatial Skills- Three-dimensional space, distance
Blocks, Tinkertoys, Legos, Erector sets, Lincoln Logs, Bowling sets,basket- balls, T-ball, puzzles, Duplos, transportation toys:trains, trucks, cars.

Relationship/Nurturing Skills- role-playing, empathy care-taking: Dolls, puppets, stuffed animals, and animal figurines.

Science Skills- Collecting, identifying, observing, classifying:
Magnets. chemistry sets, ant farm, magnifying glass, binoculars, telescope, shell or rock collection.

Verbal Skills/ Linguistic Skills.- Spelling, vocabulary, reading:
Alphabet puzzles and games, puppet theater, Scrabble.

Mechanical Concepts Skills- tinkering, fixing assembling:
Model trains, tool kits, model car and airplane kits.

Math Skills- estimating, counting, distance, weight, volume, patterns:
Dominoes, Chutes and Ladders, Candy land, cooking sets.

Creativity- storytelling, picturing, portraying
puppets, modeling paints, crayons, craft kits.

Strategic Problem solving- tic-tac-toe, Uno, Connect Four, chess checkers.

Dr. Mackoff's list is a good place to start. Rereading this chapter has inspired me to reflect on the toys my daughter owns and the ones I have been thinking of buying. As I already think about what skills a toys develops when I shop, I think before I shop I should think what skills is she not developing though her play and then look for things to meet that need.

The perfect hat for my perfect baby

So a friend and I were talking about how glad we were that we have winter coats for our little ones, now that the weather has made such a quick switch in temperature. I am proud to say that I will save on a winter coat this year since the one I brought last winter was on the big side and she is still able to fit it. She also still fits her winter hats, but sadly they don't fit her.

What I mean is although they do a good job at keeping her head warm, they do nothing for her natural hair. In fact they wreck havoc on it. Us naturally kinky and curly haired women know that the same soft fleece goodness that keeps our heads and ears nice and warm also suck all the moisture out of our hair. I tried several things to prevent this last year, from putting tons of leave in conditioner and moisturizer to putting a sleeping cap under her hat. All failed attempts.

Fortunately, someone was genius enough to come up with a solution. SATIN-LINED HATS! I promise you one day I am going to invent something revolutionary. But this time around Curly Zebra beat me to the punch. I must say I'm glad they did because these hats are super cute. They come in three styles pillbox, chullo and stocking. My favorite ones all happen to be chullo, perhaps because my daughter is still young enough to yank hats off.

What is even more fabulous then a fabulous hat you ask? A free fabulous hat! You can win one for free at one of my favorite blogs Happy Girl Hair.

Oct 4, 2010

Lets cook!!!

So I have been on the hunt for a wooden kitchen set for my DD for quite some time now. As you know I am a bit, um particular. I want a wooden kitchen as opposed to a plastic one. My reasoning being they are more solid, beautiful, natural, eco friendly, the list can go on. My only problem is they are also really expensive. Even the cheap mass produced ply wood kitchens cost $125.99 and up. Forget about the handmade or solid wood kitchens those are easily $300 and up. My second problem is room. Kitchens are rather large and we certainly do not have room. So I came up with a solution, bye a portable kitchen. This cut the price and the size. Plus she can use it in her room and in the kitchen with out me having to break my back transporting it.

I have looked at several kitchens and have decided on this one The Little Kitchen by Mama Made Them. This is the only portable kitchen I found with four burners, a sink and an oven!!! I'm thinking we can store the pots and pans I will eventually buy in the oven. What makes it better is handmade. :-D It also doesn't hurt that the person who makes it is a single mother, a more appealing person to give my money to. I am super excited for her kitchen to arrive.

Here are other portable kitchens that were in the running for my money were.

Andrea's Table top wood kitchen, another handmade kitchen.

The Land of the Nod's portable kitchen,

This sleek kitchen is cool, particularly if you have a modern style home.

And if you can spare the expense this Chef's Portable Kitchen is very nice as it pays attention of details.

Lastly, the popular Alex manufactures two small kitchens, In My Kitchen and Wooden Cook Top.

If you want an affordable eco-friendly full sized option you may be interested in reading this aricle by Growing a Green Family.

Since I was in the mood to shop I decided to window shop for a pot and pan set to accompany her kitchen. This of course lead to me purchasing a set. I purchased the Retro Jr. Chef Enamel Cookware Set by Schylling. It won me over with its reasonable price, realistic look and rating on durability. I think the blue will add a pop of color, (and be gender neutral shall I have a son in the future) while the wooden handle and stainless steal utensils will match her kitchen nicely. It is available from several places like Walmart and F.A.O Schwartz, but of-course I brought it for less then 25 at Amazon.

This decision was almost as difficult as my kitchen purchase. There are many options available. Here are a few of my favorites.

The popular Melissa and Doug as the highest rated set I have seen. It is a very cute, sturdy wood set.

Alex has a few stainless steel options ranging in price from $23 to 35. Some of their options include a tea pot and even a baking set.

There are even some eco friendly options. Plantoys and wonderworld also offer eco-friendly wood sets. If you are not opposed to plastics you may be interested in Oopma's set. It is made from recycled milk jugs. The concept is cool and it is a very nice colorful set. ( shown above)

Islamic Introspection

Inspired by khutba given by Imam Sirwaj Wahaj on 9/24/10

I am spiritually inclined to voice what has been sitting heavy on my mind
How is that we are able to find, 1 million things wrong with our brothers and sisters
And not see their beauty inside

Salaams unreturned
Because her jilbab isn’t black
Or worse because her skin is

Segregated masjids
Judgmental statements
As if we are THE authority on what Islam is.

We speak the Quran
But do not listen to what it tells our hearts
We pray without internalizing the words we say

We act like being Muslim is the new fad
Our life in the sunna is limited with those dunya habits that were bad
We push each other away with our poor adab
Act crazy and then wonder why the world looks at us if we are mad

Our character is tragic
On the borderline of munafic

We are on some
Serial monogamy
Undercover polygamist
Drug dealing
Husband stealing
Wife beating
Steady cheating

And we wonder why
Our children do not pray
People come to Islam but so not stay
Why the people in the news have so much negativity to say

Well news flash, the junk in your trunk stinks
And I will be the first to admit so does mine
It is high time; we look at ourselves in the mirror
I stand here before you as your reflection
We need to walk in a new direction
Do some soul searching, some introspection
Purify our hearts and liberate our minds
Practice what we preach
Do some nation building
Reach out for some spiritual healing
Walk the walk, not just talk the talk
Man up to the task
Ask not what your community can do for you
But what you can do for your community
Strive for sincere, not superficial unity
Treat your sister like your sister,
Your, brothers like your brothers
And your elders like your father or mother
Matter of fact treat your mother right

It is time to admit to ourselves
What is wrong is wrong, and what is right is right
If actions speak louder than words
We need to make sure that it is our good deeds that are heard.
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