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sicky kids and hot water bottle covers

21 Sep
When you’re a new parent, everything is significant.  And nothing is more nerve-racking for both child and parent than a high fever and its companion, the hair-trigger temper and its attendant crying fit (again, for both child and parent).  So in the Daley history books, the second week of September will from here on be known as the time of Cold/Flu Number Two.
Hot Water Bottle Monster by Jaffajaf, Etsy

So what have I learned? First, I’ve got one tough kid.  I’m really proud of him.  And, second, I never knew how many folk remedies my husband can whip up.  While I was surfing the web about antibiotics and second-opinions, my lovely husband was busy in the kitchen, formulating one of his many lemon-and-honey based concoctions.   And although Fionn didn’t really get into the whole chicken broth – tea – Vapo-Rub under the warm towel thing, it sure comforted us.  For what it’s worth, Daddy’s remedies made me feel a heck of a lot better…  (Have I mentioned lately how much I love Lancashire?  Guess the wet North has something to say about keeping kids warm and dry).

And this experience has also made me curious about getting a custom cover for our tough red rubber hot water bottle so Fionn could use it too.  I’m leaning towards the Hot Water Bottle Monster by Jaffajaf, available on Etsy (where else?) for $25.  Based in Brisbane (where else… Australia really has a hold on cool kids stuff right now), Jaffajaf is the nanna-granddaughter team of Yvonne and Debbie.  They’ve got a fantastic touch and I’d highly recommend checking out their online shop.  Their felted dinosaurs are especially wonderful.

Alpaca/Merino Bottle Cover,

Looking to go a bit more luxe for your little one?  How about a merino/alpaca wool blend to carefully caress your hot water bottle?  It’s from DWR, and at $70, it’s more of a gift than an everyday purchase, but I can imagine how soft and warm this would be.   And the wool’s got quite a pedigree; apparently, “when not operating their ski lift, four generations of the Steiner family have been spinning, weaving, milling and refining fine woolen cloth at the foot of the Dachstein mountain in the Austrian Alps. Legendary designers and companies like Yves St. Laurent, Bogner, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana and others have used the high-quality fabrics for their fashions.” 

Pirate Mouse,

But to be honest, I think I’m more of a Pirate Mouse kind of gal.  I’m not sure he’s made near the Swiss Alps, but he is German, if that helps anyone…  Available on for $25.95, I think he could easily become a bedtime favorite (with or without the hot water).

Aran "Jumper" Cover, A Crooked Sixpence, Etsy

If you’re into something more traditional, I’d recommend one of these ‘knitted sweaters’ made expressly for hot water bottles.  The Internet is full of instructions on how to do it yourself (which seems to be a lot of fun to make).  But if you’re like me, and would rather reward those who have perfected the craft, you may want to head over to the shop on Etsy called A Crooked Sixpence.  Above, this is their Aran jumper in the White Chocolate color, for $36.

Red Cashmere Cozy by Honeycreweller, Etsy

But my absolute favorite?  (Yes, I know I started this post talking about my son).   An ‘upcycled’ cashmere sweater.   Taking the logic one step further, why knit when you’ve got perfectly wonderful cashmere right at your fingertips?  The Honeycreweller shop on Etsy offers this one in red for $32; there are other colors available as well.

Ribbon detail, courtesy Honeycreweller

I especially love the contrasting satin ribbon and button closure detail and the blue cotton lining.  Because I know when I’m feeling sicky, beautiful fabrics and coordinating materials really cheer me up.   For Fionn, I think the hot water bottle monster would be a surer bet.


Warhol-inspired silver pillows

26 Feb

Throw Cushion, Zid Zid Kids, $174

This morning, I spotted these mod-yet-eclectic silver round pillows by Zid Zid Kids. The first thing I thought of? Andy Warhol.

It’s amazing how the simplest things can make the greatest impressions. It must have been almost ten years ago that I was sent to Pittsburgh, the hometown of Mr Warhola, for a work assignment. I was lucky enough to have an afternoon free to check out his eponymous museum, where I first encountered this:

Permanent installation, Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh

Tasputen, who posted the following video to YouTube, provides background.

“In April of 1966, the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York opened an exhibit by the true Jay Gatsby of American art, Andy Warhol. Silver Clouds, as it was called, consisted in its entirety of a roomful of silver, metalized plastic pillow-shaped balloons inflated with helium and oxygen. They floated . . . that’s all they did . . . held aloft by the gallery’s own air vents.”

Here’s the original.

Silver Flotations, Leo Castelli Gallery, 1966

Simple, yet mesmerizing in some strange way. In Pittsburgh, you’re encouraged to interact with the pillow-cloud-balloons. And just like playing in the snow, you lose track of yourself, your self-consciousness dissolves, and you find yourself standing there, looking up, waiting for the next weightless cloud to fall.

Why not bring this feeling indoors?

BlissLiving Rocco Silver 12×20 Pillow, Walmart, $65

Found this beautifully understated pillow (if that’s possible in silver) at Walmart, of all places. It’s faux-leather and down-filled. For girls, it could make for a bright contrast in a pale-hued room, adding some much-needed modernity if you’re drowning in princess gear. For boys, you can really play up the industrial side of the metallic tone, even pairing with the robots featured in an earlier post.

Metahlowski pillow in Silvi, Fatboy, $339

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Fatboy range of products, but I could really go for this silver body pillow in lieu of another chair.

The Home Centric, Etsy, $21-$28

Lastly, the best deal comes again from Etsy, where I’ve been finding all my bargains lately. Check out these pillow covers from the Home Centric. They’re the creations of a woman named Urvi, who works in Pune, India. These are just a sampling of her designs. I know they’re a bit intricate, and perhaps delicate, for kids’ rooms, but how can you go wrong for $28 dollars? I especially covet the pillow on the lower right that’s covered in baubles. It makes me happy to look at it, just like the Warhol clouds do.

lets go to the races

21 Feb

There’s an amazing little spot on Atlantic Avenue in the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn called Vintage Signage. I hesitate to call it a ‘store’ because it doesn’t seem like they actually sell anything there. Packed to the rafters with everything from vintage Bibendum figurines to just-plain-old Keith Richards posters, the store literally spills out onto the sidewalk in front. However, nothing in this closet-like space seems to feature an actual price tag. In following that old adage about ‘if you have to ask..,’ I’ve never ventured beyond browsing.

Walking by the shop the other day, I just had to stop and take a few pictures of this odd piece of hardware. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. And if it’s still there when I walk by again later this week, I’m going to find out how much it costs.

Twelve race horses with numbered red jackets are attached to spokes. The whole thing is metal, and it spins around a mounted base. I have no idea what it is. My dad suggested that it was probably attached to a game in the old penny arcades. If it’s not too heavy, I think it’d be perfect to mount sideways on a wall as both decorative toy and folk art. I could see an entire room designed around it – reds and whites, flags and jockeys’ uniform patterns.

In related news…

You’ve probably heard of Little Sapling Toys, makers of the coolest handmade stackers, teethers and rattles. If you haven’t yet, check out their shop on Etsy.

Mod Toddler Rocking Horse, Little Sapling Toys, Etsy, $65

In keeping with the race horse theme, I discovered their beautiful Mod Toddler Rocking Horse. It’s a beautiful piece of handmade woodwork. At $65 you’ll have a unique heirloom to treasure, long after your kids have outgrown it. Plus, with every toy sold, Little Sapling plants a tree through Trees for the Future.

Stumbled upon any other equestrian finds? Let me know in the comments section.

to the moon

4 Feb

Space Duck by Bud,, $10

Do kids still dream of being astronauts? I really hope so. Say what you will about the American space program, I think everyone would agree that learning about space is one of the best parts of being a kid.

It feels like Space Week here at the Daley household. (Actually, that’s not totally accurate. If it were up to my husband, it’d be Space Week EVERY week. For All Mankind is already in constant DVD rotation, and Failure is Not an Option by Gene Krantz is currently on the nightstand. If you’re a space fan, please check out both. You won’t be sorry).

On a trip to Florida, our old friends stopped by the Kennedy Space Center and attended a lunch with astronaut Al Worden (who flew to the moon on Apollo 15). The space shuttle Endeavour is headed to the International Space Station this Sunday morning. And I discovered this book at Bookcourt, our local, and most amazing, bookstore.

Moonshot by Brian Floca, available on (link at top right)

Elegantly written and illustrated, it celebrates the voyage of Apollo 11 in a heartbreakingly beautiful way, from preparation, through the flight itself and the astronauts’ return to Earth.

Excerpt from Moonshot

So for those future astronauts, here’s a few suggestions for bringing that sense of wonder back home.

Rocketship tent canopy, Pottery Barn Kids, $179

1. A rocketship tent. At almost 8 feet high and nearly 4 feet across, there’s lots of room in here to plan the next mission. (Incidentally, one of my earliest memories is of playing in a ‘rocket’ in nursery school. . . although the memory revolves around me hitting my head and going to see the nurse. Not cut out to be an astronaut, I suppose.) I always wanted a play tent as a child, and I haven’t seen one finer than this one. Pottery Barn also carries other fantastic space-related items, such as a constellation rug and a set of hanging planets.

Blast Off Mini Blue Stuffed Rocket by Mamas Little Monkeys, Etsy, $20

2. Custom rockets. I found these clever little stuffed rocketships on Etsy – they come in a variety of fabrics and sizes, and are made to order. I think they’d stand out as great baby shower or newborn gifts instead of the traditional stuffed animal bear or dog.

Name a Star Gift Box, Red Envelope, $40

3. Your own freakin’ star. As the listing announces, “the majority of stars are unnamed and distinguished only by a catalog number.” For $40, you’re given a star and a guide on how to find it in the night sky. Of course, it’s a bit of a gimmick. But can you imagine being a kid, and getting a certificate saying that Star “Aidan” is now ‘officially’ recognized? It’s got to be exponentially better than a fake birth certificate that came with my Cabbage Patch Kid, and I thought that was pretty amazing at the time.

Moon song, The Mighty Boosh

4. The Mighty Boosh on DVD. Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt know how cool the moon can be.

finishing touches

18 Jan

Malachite gemstone knobs from Knobs & Pulls, $20 each

I’m not clever or handy enough to be a true Ikea hacker (see here for more info). But changing drawer pulls and cabinet knobs, that I can do. Because no matter how simple your furniture is, a slight decorative touch like this can really affect the look and feel of each piece. This is especially true with ‘pre-loved’ or inherited furniture. When we moved into our new apartment last year, one of the first things I did was get online and find new handles for our kitchen doors and drawers (which weren’t AWFUL, mind you, they just annoyed me when I looked at them). Plus, it amused my British husband to NO END when I’d ask him whether he preferred the items at over the ones at Ahem.

Vintage drawer pulls are my favorite. And they’re easy to find at architectural salvage shops, or online at Ebay or even Here are a few that could brighten and add a vintage modern spirit to any kids room.

Bakelite and chrome handles from Bakelite Collector on, $100 for 3

These are the most expensive of the lot, as they’re made of Bakelite (see here to learn more about the world’s first plastic). I just love this rich cornflower blue color and think it could jazz up even the simplest wooden dresser.

Clear glass handles from Lakeway Candles on, $30 for 6

Clear glass is another great option, lending sophistication without feeling too vintage theme-y. They’re great for the grown ups too, and at $30 for 6, it’s almost like they’re paying you to take them. Apparently, the folks at Lakeway Candles have just liquidated an antique shop and they’re passing the savings onto us.

I especially gravitated towards the Gemstone collection (at top) on the Knobs & Pulls website. Like many kids, I used to collect shiny rocks and geodes. Remember those rock tumblers promising to turn ordinary pebbles into treasures? These malachite handles remind me of my childhood. $20 each is a bit steep, but think of it as an investment in science. Agate. Dolomite. Citrine. Repeat.

Knot collection drawer knobs from Rocky Mountain Decor, $18 each

But these are my favorites. Imagine these in a room filled with super hero memorabilia and action figures. Plus, think of the stories you can tell your kids about Dad’s special powers – having transformed ordinary drawer pulls into steel knots whilst they were asleep.