Saturday, December 14, 2013

Science Toys: Plush Poison Dart Frogs

In addition to offering eco-friendly, US-made toys, The Toy Cove provides toys to encourage your child's interest in science.

My favorite biology-based toys are the poison dart frogs (and the non-poisonous Milk Frog).
 
Plush Amazon Milk Frog
Blue Amazon Milk Frog

Orange Plush Poison Dart Frog
Orange Poison Dart Frog

Neon Green Plush Poison Dart Frog
Neon Green Poison Dart Frog

Yellow and Black Plush Poison Dart Frog
Yellow and Black Poison Dart Frog
These brightly colored, super-soft stuffed animals are a full 11'' inches long, and crafted from Eco-Fi felt, a fabric constructed from recycled plastics.

Then there's the Mama Poison Dart Frog. Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs are incredible parents. Dad carries water in his mouth to keep the eggs covered, and later he and Mom carry their baby tadpoles on their backs from pool to pool, until they sprout legs and set off on their own adventures.

Teach your little tadpoles about these amazing amphibians with The Toy Cove's larger-than-life version:


Mama's three little tadpoles stick to the soft velcro hearts on her back.

And off they go!

Educational, Environmentally Friendly, and US-made, only at The Toy Cove.

(Remember to check out our coupon post for great holiday savings!)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Coupons

You've only got a few days left to order presents online, and you're still not sure what to buy. You want something thoughtful, something they'll use, something that wasn't made in China by an underpaid factory worker.

Well, never worry, because at The Toy Cove, your plush friends and I aim to please. Free shipping? Of course! Use the code FIRSTCLASS at checkout to get free First Class domestic (USA) shipping. This code expires on December 20th, but I highly recommend you order before December 18th, to ensure Christmas delivery.

But maybe The Toy Cove's typical $2.75 shipping doesn't sound so bad. How about an item discount instead? 'Like' The Toy Cove on Facebook to get a 25% off code, good for any item in the Etsy shop (including gift certificates). Don't have a Facebook account? Just leave me a comment below. Expires December 31st, 2013.

Go on. Give your loved one (or yourself) an eco-friendly, US-made handcrafted plush this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Stuffie Stories: Leah

Leah is a rescue bear. She, like thousands of other stuffed bears, was created in a factory.


The teddies made in plushie mills are neglected, stored in horrible conditions, only to be shipped off to chain stores as seasonal items. The bears receive no better treatment there, and those that are not sold are sometimes shipped back to their distributors to sit in dark, cramped storage for another year.

photo by Michael Wolf
See more at http://photomichaelwolf.com/#the-real-toy-story-factories/10

I found Leah on a Christmas clearance at a grocery store. I hate to support plushie mills, but she looked so starved for love that I couldn't bear to see her shipped back to storage. I paid for her, and brought her home. Like most factory-produced bears, Leah was nervous and easily frightened. With the help of my other stuffies, she has adjusted well, and is happy and carefree as any lovingly made toy.

Aside from the obvious harm to the plushie, factories like the one Leah was made in are usually harmful to the human workers as well. Many factory hands in various parts of the world are subjected to poor and hazardous working conditions, and are paid only a pittance for their labor. But because it is cheaper to hire workers in other countries, rather than US workers (who require a minimum wage and workplace safety measures), the majority of stuffed animal providers use such factories.

This is why I do what I do. And it's also one of the reasons I use all US-made materials when crafting my plushies, because US workers are far more likely to have their rights upheld. So, next time you buy a plushie, consider buying from a local, small business. Not only are handcrafted toys are routinely of a higher quality than those from plushie mills, you'll be supporting an artisan, rather than a conglomerate who couldn't care less about workers rights and safety.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stuffie Stories: Beauregard

I can't help looking at the plushies when I'm out at a thrift store. The toys there all have their stories, though most of them are sad.

Beauregard is a well-loved plush dog I found at Goodwill. Although I wasn't really looking to adopt that day, I knew the moment I saw him, before I even picked him up, that he needed to come home with me.

Beauregard, The Toy Cove
You can spot a beloved toy no matter what circumstances he's fallen into. Beau's once-plush fur was thoroughly matted and tangled, but he had that unmistakeable "knowing expression"* in his eyes, declaring that he had once been loved dearly enough to be made Real.

"I declare if that old Bunny hasn't got quite a knowing expression!"

After I paid his adoption fee and got him home, a closer inspection revealed that Beauregard had likely been the favorite pet of a little girl, as evident by the stick-on earring on the underside of his left ear.



Only Beau and his former owner know how he ended up in a basket at Goodwill, but I like to think the little girl wasn't given a say in the matter. Maybe her parents told her she was too old for toys and had to give him away. Or maybe they 'cleaned up' her room one day when she was out. Sometimes I wonder if he was accidentally left somewhere and unable to be retrieved. Whatever the reason, I hope she wasn't too sad. I know I still miss my plush friends who've been lost over the years.

And even if Beau's story was one like Jesse's from A Toy Story, no amount of 'growing up' could change the years the little girl spent taking care of him and loving him.



Beau remembers his last owner with love and fondness. But he's living in his retirement home now, with all my other plushies and me, secure in the knowledge he'll never be let go of again.

This is the point in my blog where I usually direct you to my shop and encourage you to buy a new, eco-friendly plush from me. But, this time, I'd like to ask you to consider adopting a "used" stuffed animal this holiday season, one who needs to be loved again. Check your local thrift stores or yard sales. Every plushie needs a loving home. :)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

From Plastic to Plush

Have you ever wanted to know how recycled plastic bottles are transformed into the soft, colorful felt used in The Toy Cove's plushies? Check out this video detailing the process at Foss Manufacturing:

Turning Bottles into Fabric

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Black Friday Sales

Are you excited about the insane sales you're going to find at The Toy Cove on Black Friday? If you aren't, you should be.

Starting on Friday, November 29th and continuing through Monday, December 1st, all of The Toy Cove's items on Etsy will be 25% off.


Yes, that includes sale items.

 It even includes gift certificates.


That's right. Get a $25 gift certificate for only $18.75.

What could be better, you ask? How about taking another 25% off of that? Help The Toy Cove reach 100 likes on Facebook (super easy, since we only have 9 more to go) and receive a 25% off coupon code.

That makes a mini owl $3.95,

a $25 gift certificate $14.07,

and a $50 gift certificate $28.13.

So visit The Toy Cove on Facebook, like us, invite your friends, or share a status, to give your family (or yourself) an eco-friendly, handcrafted holiday gift for the lowest price of the year.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Black Cat on the Hearth

No picture-perfect autumn day is complete without a little black cat curled up in a corner or sitting on the windowsill.


The Toy Cove is offering two sprightly black kitty cats this Halloween season.

 Green-eyed kitty sits 11'' tall and wears a delighted little smile, her long tail twitching in excitement.

Yellow-eyed kitten is perfectly pint-sized at 8.5''. Her sparkling eyes and curious little mind are fixed on something just out of sight, while her wispy kitten tail curls behind her.


 As always, all Toy Cove plushies are hand crafted from all new Eco-fi felt and other US-made materials.

Both kitties are available for adoption from The Toy Cove on Etsy.

Monday, September 16, 2013

By the pricking of my thumbs...

Something spooky this way comes!

The Toy Cove's first wave of Halloween plushies have arrived. I am pleased to introduce you to the Sugar Skull Dolls:



Feliz Dia de los Muertos!
Una Calavera de AzĂșcar
Spooky sweet!
They're a most delicious way to celebrate the Day of the Dead. Handcrafted with super-soft eco fi felt, and sporting detailed hand-stitched embroidered applique features, these little skeletons add a festive feel to any room.


I'm ready to celebrate this fall. Are you?



Available for adoption at TheToyCove.Etsy.com


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Last Call!

This is the last call on The Toy Cove's rag doll clearance. For a very limited time, you can still get a lovingly handmade rag doll for 56% off! Once they're gone, they won't be available again.The little dolls who don't find a home through Etsy will be donated to a child or senior in need.

Isobel, Adelaide, and Anne are still looking for homes!

Isobel

Adelaide

Anne

You can adopt one of these little rag girls from The Toy Cove on Etsy.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rag Doll Clearance!

Now that summer's here, these little girls are ready to go outside and play!

From now until June 11th, all rag dolls at The Toy Cove are only $10! That's a 56% savings!


Head on over to The Toy Cove on Etsy to take advantage of this great deal!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Removing Fuzzballs from Felt Toys

If you read this blog regularly, you know I love felt. Nearly all of The Toy Cove's plushies are made from this wonderful material. It's eco-friendly, colorful, and versitile, but it does have a downside. It accumulates pills faster than any other fabric, making a young stuffie look old and worn out before its time.

New plushie on the left, played-with plushie on the right

 BUT, even this has an upside. It's extremely easy to remove fuzzballs and make your plushie look brand new again. It only takes a pair of scissors and a few minutes.

1. Start with a fuzzed-up stuffed animal.

 
Felt toys gather fuzzballs easily.


2. Hold him/her up to a light background to see the pills more clearly...

and snip off the pills.


3. For fuzzballs that are very close to the plushie's body, lie them flat against the light background.

You can cut very close to the body without worry, as long as you don't tilt your scissors downward and into the body. Just keep your scissors level and cut away.



In just a few minutes, your toy will look brand spanking new again:



Before:

After:
New plushie on the left, new-looking plushie on the right.
And that's just one more reason I love working with felt. A pair of scissors, a few minutes' time, and you've got a completely refurbished plushie. You can repeat this process again and again and again. It's not so with furry plush animals, which either have their plush rubbed off or matted, and can't be fixed without a lot of effort*.

* (Of course, this doesn't really matter, and is nothing more than a cosmetic issue. As The Skin Horse said, "Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.")

The toys in this post can be found at The Toy Cove.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Plush Amazon Milk Frog

He's here! The darling Amazon Milk Frog plushie I've been working on. As soon as I became aware of these adorable little creatures, I knew I had to add one to The Toy Cove's frog collection.

Image from http://www.reptilegardens.com/
And here he is:



He's available for adoption via The Toy Cove on Etsy. As far as I can find, he's the only plush Amazon Milk Frog available online, so if you're looking for a truly unique gift for a science major or frog enthusiast, you've found it.

Like all of The Toy Cove's frogs, he's made from all new, US-made materials, including Eco-Fi rainbow felt.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mama Dart Frog Revised

Following the suggestions from some fans/buyers, I decided to redesign Mama poison dart frog. A couple of people said her legs seemed too complicated, and that a smoother design (like the regular poison dart frogs) would be better.

Original Mama frog, with legs folded underneath.
Here's the new look:



What do you think?

Settling in

Well, the moment arrived a couple of weeks ago for this hermit crab to switch shells again. After hurriedly moving out of an unsafe living situation, I stayed in my parents' basement for a few months. I looked for a house to rent for a while, then finally decided to get another apartment. I ended up with a lovely, spacious, quiet place in a quiet part of town. All the toys seem very happy here.

Of course, relocating in the middle of April meant devoting far less time to The Toy Cove's buy 1, give 1 project. Now that the studio is set up again (minus the sewing machine table, which should be coming over later today), I'm diving back in, but I'm still not sure about whether or not to extend the April promotion into May. I feel like I want to give it a better chance.

I'll have more news and pictures later!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Plushies for Seniors

To elaborate a little on the reasoning behind The Toy Cove's current Buy 1 Give 1 promotion, I've compiled the following list of articles about senior citizens and plush toys.

This is a personal story that touches on the difficulty of seeing a loved one change due to dementia. The author is, at first, uncomfortable with the thought of giving her boyfriend, now suffering from Alzheimer's, a stuffed animal.
I immediately told myself I was crazy and that he'd feel insulted and become irate if I gave him a stuffed animal. But finally, on a whim and against my better judgment, I decided to buy one...
On the way to the nursing home, I kept wondering what a 92-year-old man was going to do with a stuffed animal that peeped. That former erudite scholar, lawyer, and professor of French? The man who'd had such a brilliant mind?
It's a touching, brief story that shows the importance of meeting a loved ones needs, no matter how they differ from our expectations and desires.


One important concern is addressed on this page of Best Alzheimer's Products, under the section "Demeaning or Dignifying?": 
Probably more than with any other recommendation for Alzheimer's care, the concern will be raised here about the appropriateness of using toys in treatment. This is understandable. No one likes to see a loved one regress into a childlike state. Unfortunately, that is what is happening.
The arguments in favor of toys as therapy center around the patient. It is our firm conviction that stage-appropriate activities, including toys, enhance the quality of life of persons with dementia.

This article from The State Journal is the story of how two sisters started Memorable Pets, stuffed toys designed specifically for people with Alzheimer's.

Caldonia [the stuffed cat] served as a source of comfort for Rusher’s mother, Betty Dickson, in the months before she died of Alzheimer’s in 2010. As her mother’s memory and motor skills deteriorated, her love for Caldonia never changed.


An article by Rebecca Rosenberg: Experts prescribe children's toys for Alzheimer's patients 
An aversion to the use of toys sometimes stems from the denial that a loved one has become like a child, said Gary Small, a psychiatrist at University of California at Los Angeles.
“A PET scan of a person with advanced Alzheimer’s and a young child’s brain looks very much the same,” he said. “People need to put it in perspective. If a patient is childlike, that’s what’s upsetting, but not the toys. If anything comforts the patient, that’s good.”

An older newspaper article from Beaver County Times (via Google), sharing the story of how Kathy Hall initiated "Fuzzy Therapy for Seniors."


I hope these stories explain why this project is so important to me. :)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Buy 1 Give 1

Hello plush lovers,

I'm really pleased to announce that for the month of April, The Toy Cove will be running a "buy one, give one" special on every single toy purchased.

It's a simple, wonderful concept that's far from new, but it's a first for the Cove. For all of April, when you purchase a toy through The Toy Cove, I'll send another toy to a child (or adult) in need. No matter where you buy (Etsy, Ebay, Goodsmiths, thetoycove.com, etc), you'll be getting one plushie for yourself and giving one to someone else who needs a friend.

Same price, double the love.

About a year and a half ago, when The Toy Cove was first starting up, I had the opportunity to give a Christmas gift to an anonymous local senior who had no family to care for her at Christmastime. She had requested, simply, "a stuffed animal." Plushies provide a sense of security and love in even the most stressful and frightening situations. Many charities already exist helping young children and senior citizens who can benefit from having a plush companion. Children who have been removed from their home, who live in war zones, or who have lost everything due to disaster are just some. To a senior living in a nursing home, a soft toy can be a much-needed companion.

"I have so many hugs to give!"
"I'll always be here to listen."
<3



Some of my favorites charities (and the ones I'll be using) include:
SAFE: Stuffed Animals For Emergencies
Loving Hugs
Stories for Seniors

So spread the news! Treat yourself to a sweet plush pal, and help someone who's scared feel a little bit safer, and give someone lonely a faithful friend.

You can also like The Toy Cove on Facebook to keep up with this project.