Saturday, November 5, 2011

November Jubilee Giveaway: You're Inspired

I am excited to announce our November Giveaway! We are adding a new feature as well. We plan to introduce a family-run business each month that we personally and highly recommend because of their sustainable-materials ethics and quality workmanship.

This month our featured shop is of my favorite places of all time: You're Inspired. We are giving away a $25 gift certificate to Jessica's You're Inspired Etsy shop. 

A few months ago I was looking for some homeschool supplies that would span the ages from toddler to preschooler to kindergartener. I found You're Inspired and just fell in love with Jessica's handmade wood creations. I think you will too. All her toys are made from sustainable and renewable resources. 

Here is Jessica's shop announcement:

While the wooden toy market is plentiful, the majority are coated in a thick layer of paint. If the wood is no longer exposed, our precious little ones are not actually touching the wooden toy; they are essentially playing with the paint or varnish coating. While many polyurethanes varnishes and paints state they are "water based", the truth is they are full of chemicals and are probably no safer than the plastic toy you were trying to avoid in the first place.

After seeing thousands of wooden toys recalled due to toxic lead paint, I set out on the venture of creating natural toys for my daughter. All my wooden toys are made from locally purchased lumber, and my hardwoods are all sustainably harvested. I am committed to using AP certified non-toxic waterbased paints, which use plant gum as binders, instead of "non-toxic" acrylic paints, which are plastic based. All toys are sealed using my homemade wood creme, consisting of pure beeswax, expeller-pressed jojoba oil and just a hint of sweet orange essential oil.

I have spent many hours trying different techniques to find the perfect method to avoid the dreaded "bleeding" that natural wooden toys are infamous for. This new method involves a watered wash of paint to deeply penetrate the grain of the wood (creating a stain, instead of a coating over the wood), followed by a protective sealing of beeswax wood creme which is then heatset to stabilize the paint. Finally another coating of wood creme is applied and buffed for the finishing touch. The result is a natural toy that is water resistant which means no more paint rubbing onto little fingers, clothes or your carpet!

Please note that Mother Nature has not yet created a way to completely waterproof wood. While my painted toys are water-resistant, they are not water-proof and I would still not recommend my toys for water play or as a constant teething toy as colors may eventually fade. I do offer many unpainted toys as an alternative for those who are interested.

I love custom orders, so if you have an idea or want something altered, just let me know!

Didn't I tell you Jessica is awesome? Read on to learn more about how she creates her whimsical and wonderful art.

How did you get into wood carving?

After our daughter (Azure) was born, I noticed it was really hard to find wooden toys that didn't have a thick coat of paint over them. Azure chewed on EVERYTHING and that paint kept chipping off. I made a commitment to be a stay at home mom when Azure was born, and funds were limited to purchase the toys I ogled I decided to try my hand at making my own!
My first toys were made using a handheld jigsaw and were crooked. I used food coloring to paint the toys which worked great, until the toys got even the slightest bit damp--and then they bled horribly! I invested in a scrollsaw for $20 off Craigslist, which was a great investment. I then started using watercolors to stain the toys, which worked much better. I was really set that I didn't want to use a lacquer, even if waterbased, to seal the toys-- and it took a bit to learn the right ratio of water/paint to use, and the trick of heatsetting the paint to finally create toys that didn't bleed. I first started trading the toys in crafting swaps, and the demand was so huge I decided to start selling on etsy.

Will you walk us through your work day?
The lovely thing about selling on etsy is I can set my own hours, and take breaks or quit if needed. Some days I won't work at all, or only for a few hours. Usually around Christmas though I will end up working for days on end. The great thing is that I am a night owl by nature, so even when I have huge orders, I can work mainly at night or during Azure's naps so I can still spend time with my family.

Where do you find inspiration?

I love designing toys and in the beginning my mind was constantly full of ideas. I couldn't wait to try out new designs create them. After awhile though I would be so busy filling orders I didn't really make the time to try new ideas. So honestly now, my inspiration comes from customers! I love when people request items and I get to design new toys again. Sometimes people request things I have been meaning to get around to, or they will request toys I would have never thought to make (such as the viking set, which is now one of my best sellers!). 

How is your daughter involved in your creative process?

Azure loves to help me sand. But other than that, honestly, Azure isn't that interested in the toys. I had visions of her helping me more indepth (and I am still hoping that day will come), but sadly she doesn't even really like to play with the toys! I have tried creating toys for her based on her favorite characters...but even those seem to just sit there and gather dust. She enjoys stacking with the block sets and playing with kitchen food, but has never really roleplayed with any of her toys with the exception of "babies" and her kitchen. She just turned 4, and is finally starting to show interest--so I am hoping things will change! When other kids are around while I am working, they seem really excited and ooh and aah and want to help. I wonder sometimes if because she is around the toys so much, they have just lost their luster!

Thank you Jessica for giving us a glimpse into your charming world! I hope others will find as much inspiration as I have from you. Our family feels good about supporting a stay-at-home mama who is committed to using sustainable and non-toxic materials. Our little ones love your beautiful wooden animals and they play with them everyday. It is truly a joy to observe them running their small hands over the wood grain and even breathing in the scent of the wood. We all love how you create happy, peaceful expressions on the faces of the animals, too.


How To Enter to Win a $25 Gift Certificate to You're Inspired:

Subscribe to my blog and leave a comment telling me you did. Hint: Look to the right bar of my blog toward the top of the page for a Subscribe box. Just enter your email address, hit Enter and you'll be subscribed. You can unsubscribe at any time.
That's it!

Want Even More Entries?

You know you do! 

The fine print: You must leave a separate comment for each extra entry.

1. Blog about my giveaway and link back to my giveaway on your blog. Be sure to add the link to your blog post in a comment below.

2. Leave a comment to share one thing you have done in the past week towards sustainability OR a frugal organic housekeeping tip OR a Real Food recipe your family loves.

3. Email 3 friends about my giveaway, making sure to include the link to my giveaway in your email. Leave a comment letting me know you did.

4. Subscribe to my Feedburner updates. Look to the right and you will see where you can enter your email address to subscribe to my Feedburner updates.

That makes 5 total possible entries for each person.

I like those odds!

Entries will close midnight Tuesday November 8th, 2011 (PST). I will use a random number generator to find the winners. Check back here Wednesday morning for an announcement of the winner.

Comments closed.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hey! Blogged about your fun giveaway.

  3. Emailed friends the link to your giveaway. ;)

  4. I subscribed to your Feedburner updates.

  5. One thing we've done in the past week towards sustainability is PLANT OUR GARLIC! :-)

  6. I subscribed! We have several of Jessica's toys and they are beautifully crafted. So many wonderful things about having living toys in your home. I don't mind finding them all over the house for one. Unlike the plastic garbage toys that drive me nuts when I see them laying around!

  7. Here's my recipe for Bean & Pasta Soup. We love it!

  8. I have blogged about your giveaway. I love Waldorf Inspired toys.
    Here is my link:

  9. I have also sent 3 friends that also appreciate Waldorf toys an email about your giveaway with a link to your site and to hers.

  10. Ok, can't subscribe to your blog or feedburner cuzz I already do, :)
    but, I can say that I actively composting all food scraps that are compostable and I separated all recyclables. kc

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.