Friday, November 13, 2009

There may still be a few leaves on some of the trees but Holiday Season is soon upon us! Santa is having parade this weekend marking, in my mind at least, the true beginning of festive season.

This time of year is all about getting together, enjoying each others company and yes, even a bit of gift giving. Little Footprints is hoping to make your gift giving easier and greener this year by co-hosting The Eco Family Holiday Sale with our friends Toronto e-tailers KaiKids.

We are coming together to celebrate the season with a one-day sale at 1390 Danforth Avenue, Saturday November 21st ,so save the date and come on by!

Little Footprints, as you already know, is Canada's online eco toy store dedicated to fun and games for kids of all ages; Kai Kids specializes in ethically-made and earth-friendly clothing and accessories for babies to preschoolers and pregnant and nursing moms. Together we will be offering an opportunity to browse and shop a unique selection of sustainable, non-toxic and planet-friendly products for everyone in the family. We’ll have lots of special sales, toys for the kids to try out, and Amanda Pedro of Music Pups will be on hand from 10:30 to 2:30 every hour on the half hour to keep the kids entertained while you shop!

Event Details Snapshot:
The Eco Family Holiday Sale
Saturday - November 21st
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
1390 Danforth Avenue (East of Greenwood)

For more information visit:

If you need any more information, we’d be happy to provide it.
Thank you again, please feel free to pass the info on to your friends as we really appreciate the support.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Little Footprints is out for a 2 day shopping event!

Halloween is over and our bellies are full of chocolate delights, it's time for us to turn our attention back to the shop and prepare for this weeks Childrens Trunk Show this Friday and Saturday. I'll be bringing a selection of our Planet Friendly Fun for Kids of All Ages along with a bunch of other wonderful mama entrepreneurs offering their wares at this seasons Children's Trunk Show @ the Distillery District November 6th and 7th.

Come check out a preview of Little Footprints Top 10 Favorite Toys for the Holiday Season including recent award winners! As always everything is Fun, Funky, Educational and Eco-Friendly!

There will be free haircuts for the kids, Kids & Co. is offering child minding while you shop and proceeds from the door go to Sick Kids.
The space is accessed by the rear parking path to the south west, yup I said parking - they like to make it easy on ya.

You never know, you might even get a jump on your seasonal shopping!

Hope we see you there!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Feels Good

I've been sick for what seems like ages! Our whole little family of 4 has something we are fighting off. I shall not ick you out with any details but we all hope to feel good real soon.

While the body may be weak the soul is feeling good. Fantastic in fact, thanks to a few wonderful mentions of my toyshop Little Footprints Toys and its products over the past few months.

First to find my new online shop and show us some linky love were the uber kewl SweetMama. I've been a faithful subscriber since it's inception just one year ago and was tickled beyond pink to be highlighted in their Road Trip Essentials Guide with our Imagiplay Zoom to the Moon playset in time for summer traveling fun.

And just when I thought that was pretty neat they gave a shout out to our great Primo Calculino Maths Game in their Baby Academy article in this Augusts Play section and then afforded us the highest compliment of them all: named one of their 5 most favorite online eco-kiddie stores in Canada!! Yippee!

But that's not all! Next to find our eco friendly toys and gear is Chirp Magazine! Chirp is one of those wonderful timeless children's must haves. I'll always remember reading their magazines in waiting rooms and now my kids enjoy the magazines just as much as I did.

In this Octobers issue under Chirp's Picks for Going Green you will find Artemis All Natural Body Paints found online with us at Little Footprints! These paints are made from 100% natural plant extracts, not only are the colours wonderful for face painting but by using them you know your putting nothing but natural pigments on your little ones face this Halloween. Chirp knows a great thing when he finds it!

So despite my coughing, achy chest and stuff nose I'm feeling good. I'm honored that these publications like what I offer and choose to highlight it.

Keep it coming folks, I could get used to feeling this good :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Yummy Chocolate Beet Cake

Hello sweet chocolate beet cake, where have you been all our lives? It has taken my daughters extreme pickiness about fruits and veg for me to learn to cook and bake with nutritional foods mixed in 'for good measure' - and I'm beginning to think I might actually have to thank her for it one day.

After all, why not cook with good healthy ingredients baked right in to foods we find yummy?

And by gawsh this is one yummy cake!

And so I came to beetroot cake and my version of the recipe. There are no less than 5 beets in the mix which is enough for 2 cakes or a double decker and honestly probably more beets than our enire family has eaten in their whole lives (until now that is).

And now if you dare, and you should - the recipe:

Sweet Valentine Chocolate Surprise Cake

the ingredients:

for the cake:
oven preheated to 375

wet ingredients:
1 cup softened unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs -room temp
1 1/2 oz. dark chocolate (bittersweet or unsweetened you choice)
5 medium beets prepared into 2 cups pureed beets
1 tsp vanilla extract

dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
cocoa and butter to grease and dust the pans

the frosting:
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
3 tbs cocoa
1/4 cup softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 - 4 tbs heavy cream
few tbs hot water as needed

the making:
beet root puree:
In a large pot simmer in water 5 beets, tops and roots removed and quartered. I use local candy stripe beets from the ever awesome farmers market hosted by My Market & the DECA but any beets should do. Don't worry about the skins, you will peel them off with ease after.

Simmer for about 50 minutes till just fork tender.

Drain the beets and let cool to handle. The skins will peel off very easy now.

Cut into smaller pieces and puree with your blender, or handy magic bullet.
you can make this well in advance, even freezes well. pink pancakes with leftovers anyone?

the cake
cream together the sugar with 3/4 cups of the butter, add the eggs and mix well and set aside.

microwave on med-high the chocolate with the remaining butter until melted. let cool slightly.

while the chocolate butter is cooling mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.

butter and dust with coca 2x 8" pans and tap the remaining cocoa into the dry ingredients

add the cooled choco-butter to the beet puree along with the vanilla, mix & add into the butter/sugar mixture.

mix it well. it will look grainy but have faith.

add the flour mixture, ending with a throughout mixing on medium high to bring in some extra air.
it will be the most fabulous pink colour now.

split mix into the 2 pans and bake for 35 minutes or just until a toothpick comes out dry.

surprise! it's now a purply chocolate colour.
let cool and turn out onto a cooling rack.

*do not try the cake now if you don't want to taste the beets* warm you can taste them a bit, I don't mind it myself but my daughter would probably protest it seemed odd at this point if tasted. My son eats the mix raw - clearly he's fine with it... you are your own judge.

the frosting: easy. add all the ingredients except the water in mixer and beat till mixed well adding drops of water as needed to get a smooth creamy consistency.

As an after dinner cake we make 2 iced single layer cakes in our house. One for us and one to share, but there is more than enough frosting for a nicely frosted double decker for sure.

Now let your family have at it!

...I'm already thinking about my midnight snack/second helping!
hey wait my hubby beat me to it!


Let Me Introduce You to Our Little Friend

Here she is, a new member of our little family. Her name is Rachel and she is a Pitcher Plant. Isn't she the prettiest thing?

We found her on the Danforth and fell in love instantly. My kids have been begging for a pet for a while now and I thought this would be an interesting start. Dubbing her 'Pet Level 1' we took her home.

My daughter named her Rachel, after one of the girls in the Rainbow Series of stories and we hung her out in a nice spot in on our deck.

Ever since Rachel has been a great contributor to the happiness of our family. she attracts and gobbles up wasps, flies, mozzies, earwigs and more into her pitchers - awesome - and the kids love checking out whats going on in Rachel's digestive cycle, learning as they go.

This fall Rachel will come inside and take care of winter house bugs.

This is a pet I can get used to. And no picking up poop necessary.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I scream, you scream we all crank our ice cream

My first born refused to try ice cream till she was more than 2 years old and now extols its virtues in song, my second is a connoisseur from a very early age. So since I've been itching for one for a while now - we bought an ice cream maker. Oh how wonderful it has been.

Our machine is a hand crank and my kids clamor for their turn to crank. We bought a manual one on purpose to involve the kids in the process and the activity. 'Turn 3 times and wait 2 minutes' is quickly becoming a mantra in our house as we watch our fresh ingredients go from liquid to creamy yumminess in 20 minutes of cranking and a dinner-times worth of chilling in the cooler bucket. Then it is ready for desert!

Now I'm all sweet on finding great recipes and so far the best have come from my 2nd hand book buy. The Old Fashioned Homemade Ice Cream Cookbook by J&C Dueker was published in '74 and sold for $3.95 new. I bought it 35 years later for the same price and it has been money well spent!

There is a whole section devoted to coffee ice cream which I love and an entire chapter on Hawiian ice cream, which thanks 'speedy air travel' for the ability to find some of their fruits on the 'mainland'.

So far my hybrid mocha espresso, plain vanilla and most recent vanilla Clodhopper ice creams have been the favorites in the house. But for me, I have been super happy to not taste the greasy taste & aftertaste I've been noticing in the store bought ice creams lately and I'm also loving the fun family activity it has become.

There is no going back to store bought for us now. Ya gotta give it a go!


Friday, May 1, 2009

Sweet Savings

Recently we enjoyed a day at the Bruce Mill conservation area checking out the sugarbush and consuming silly amounts of maple syrup. In a city of over 2 million people we were rather amazingly able to bump into friends of ours as soon as we arrived and the beautiful sunny day turned into a complete pleasure!

Now in our house we love maple syrup and probably have home-made pancakes once a week or so. If not pancakes it's french toast or waffles but it always has maple syrup!

Not only is it yummy but local. Problem is - it ain't cheap! In fact we are noticing a steep increase in the price. Last year it was due to unfavorable weather conditions but this years price hike is a mystery to me.

But we have found a way to save half the price of the golden nectar in the shops thanks to a tip from the gals at the maple shop.

At the sugarbushes and sometimes the country stores you can find them selling bulk syrup in huge 4 ltr. jugs. Grab one! It's often half the price per litre or even more!

Now here is the tip. Have a smaller container, like an older syrup bottle and fill it up. Take the remaining and grab a few mason jars or plastic bags for freezing and measure out just under the the fillable amount of your smaller container into each jar or bag. Then pop them in the freezer to store till you need them. The packs will stay fresh and be ready to use in a few minutes when you need them keeping your fridge space free.

We divvied ours up today and had pancakes too - boy it was yummy!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


My kids love what we call Dutch pancakes - crepes - with Nutella. It has been real fun watching them make their own Nutella roll-ups but the pancakes end up with way too much in them and that I wasn't too happy about.

Today I made the pancakes but this time rather than a butter knife and the jar I pulled out 2 silicone basting brushes and warmed the Nutella in a small bowl in the microwave.

Viola! Warm gooey melty Nutella easily painted on lovely round pancake canvases. Oh what fun it was! Kids were thrilled, mess was a minimum and just the right amount of Nutella was applied to please all!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Charlie, my new best office friend

This is Charlie, my new favorite office toy.

Yes he is plastic. And no he isn't even recyclable plastic but I still love him.


Because he is my new stapleless stapler!

And yeah, because he is purple and a really cute puppy too.

Charlie, here - and I do not know why I named him Charlie but there you have it, can fold together about 5 pages with this real cool punch flap system, so easy even my 5 year old can do it. In fact we even used it to make the envelopes for her thank you cards from her Birthday party and had lots of fun doing it.

So now not only do I never have to go looking for staples in my office but I don't try to shred metal staples anymore and both my shredder and my eardrums thank me for that.

Yup that makes me happy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cotton Kisses

Every morning when my daughter gives me my morning kiss and hug she smells like cotton. Warm, fresh and earthy she smells just lovely.

I didn't realize that this would be an added benefit of deciding that she would get a cotton futon as her new 'big girl' mattress along with her new 'big girl bed' she got for her birthday, but it is.

After researching my choices and realizing that we just could not afford to purchase a natural latex or organic mattress at this time we -well I -elected to go with a natural cotton futon sans foam core from the oldest futon shop in Toronto, my 3rd purchased there if I think about it actually. Given that I didn't want foam it was a special order - 'yes, I know it lasts longer sir, but thats why I don't want it!' and took a week which gave us time to purchase a captains bed made in Canada with low VOC particleboard from a Canadian retailer. And topped it off with new cotton sheets and a natural down duvet & pillow.

My daughter is thrilled with her new bed and so am I knowing it is cotton she breathes and not synthetics (I do recognize that the mattress does have fire retardants in it but an organic wool mattress out of our reach right now.)

As for my little son, I think he likes his sisters bed too since we finding trying to pretend he is sleeping there every night! I see another cotton futon in our future!
The captains bed off-gassed a bit but it was not that bad and I expected that but I really didn't expect my kid to take on the cotton smell and I am so glad she has and I love lying on her bed smelling the lovely cotton and daydreaming!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Rare Honor!

I had the privileged of being a guest editor for Rare Birds Finds this week! I've been an avid reader of theirs for some time now so being able to contribute was lots of fun.

Thanks Mei-Lynn and Sharla! Love to do it again sometime!

As always,

CPSIA Affects Canadians

On February 10th yet another phase of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) will go into effect in the United States. Born out of the well intended principal that all children's products be free on lead, this new regulation is likely to harm the children's industry in
North America more than help - at least in it's current form.

Already brands like Europe's renowned Selecta have pulled out of the north American market rather than suffer the cost of testing every component of every product - soon most if not all of the hand made toy creators in the States will fall prey to the cost of having their material components tested or be criminally responsible.

Sure the idea is good - test everything - make it safe - hold someone - anyone? -responsible. But it is flawed. Large companies - the ones who's toys have been recalled for example - can afford the testing - while a maker of cotton knit soft toys may neither be able to afford it nor logically need the testing (there is very little likelihood of cotton fibers, dyed or not, retaining any appreciable lead). Store owners will be responsible for the products they sell. Sounds good in principal, but liable if something contains lead? - with out without their knowing about it? Does a small shopkeeper need to have their own lab at their disposal? In one breath a clarification on this particular subject states that a shopkeeper will 'not be responsible for testing their inventory... however, cannot sell products that exceed the lead limit...Those resellers that do sell products in violation...could face civil and/or criminal penalties.' Seems like a very fine line to tread as a retailer.

The regulation covers everything intended for use by children 12 and under. Toys, clothes, beds, furniture, towels, cloth diapers, boardgames, books....

Not to mention, I have yet to understand how singular testing on a product sample can confirm continued safety - one of the toys in our house had been recalled for lead - just not our toys lot number - different batch of yellow paint apparently (yeah, we don't play with that anymore and yeah, it's a mass produced plastic thing). Testing the end product is not the same as testing the material component.

So, small business making safe toys will go down because they can't afford the cost, about $70 to $350 US per material component plus on if it is a lead test or bpa, and we here in Canada loose out too - no longer able to get the products like Selecta, all the wonderful Etsy crafters who make hand made goodies, the small American craftsmen - who can't risk the lawsuits even though they make natural wood toys with no finishes, and even our own Canadian manufacturers who are at risk of loosing the US market - inherently safe products or not. All because another countries material manufactures with questionable business practices made things on the cheap and cut corners for crazy cheap prices.

Who'd'a thought that cheap could mean quality concerns?

What can we do
As Canadians we have to decide if we want to continue to lavish our children with mountains of plastic toys, reasonably cheap to buy and super cheap to make, or be more selective about what we introduce into our playtime and buy feewer quality small run products whose price might be a bit higher but who's profit ratio is smaller, supporting small and medium sized business and ethical manufacturing.

Buy Canadian, American & European made

Buy Fairly Traded and Responsibly Made - just look at the packinging most will tell you if they are.

We can have our voice heard as their neighbours, go to The Handmade Toy Alliance to find out more.

Buying less of the over-blinged stuff that got in trouble in the 1st place is a way to speak with our wallet and speaks as to our concerns and choices as parents.

To find out more about the new regulations in the States go here.

**and just a note: the cash register shown is from Selecta, my daughter has it and loves it. So do I, it makes the most pleasant 'bing!' and does not require batteries. She had a plastic one that lasted about 2 years before it broke, when she saw this one she thought it was the 'coolest ever!' and has been playing, adding and writing ever since. Shame that thanks to a poorly thought out law I won't be able to get more of these, and so much more like it, in the shop!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The FDA is OK with Melamine in Baby Formula, are you?

In the United States this month the FDA has released additional information regarding melamine in infants formula. Astonishingly, the problem is not limited to Chinese practices but extends as far as North American formula manufacturing as well. Three products available right now on your American grocers shelf have tested positive for melamine or cyanuric acid (think bleach, disinfectants and herbicides) - and no, they do not plan to do anything about it.

According to the FDA Enfamil with Iron & Enfamil Lipil with Iron tested positive for cyanuric acid and Nestle Good Start Supreme with Iron tested positive for melamine; however the FDA believes that the products need not be pulled from the shelves given that a) that the melamine and cyanuric acid were never both found present at the same time in any of the tested formulas and B) the individual levels found were 'believed' to not pose any health hazards. In case your wondering it has been determined that it is the combination of the two together that makes one sick.

Now granted, the levels found in the American made formulas were significantly less than the 1 part per million considered safe for baby formula by the FDA and yes it is about 10,000 times lower that the levels found in China's tainted formula scandal and yes, the two compounds were not found present together in one package but I'm not sure that is good enough for me.

In fact I know it isn't good enough for me.

Here is my reasoning:
  • Melamine and Cyanuric Acid have no business in infant formula. While it is reasonable to assume that they found their way there through the ingredients in the formula or leached from the liners of the containers rather than having been added as an ingredient to the formula, I believe that the quality of the ingredients used in infant formula and it's packaging should be of the highest quality and free from anything considered in any way, shape or form to be in any way toxic.
  • Melamine is a protein and protein levels in formula are important and relevant to a babies development. the sheer existence of the melamine in the formula changes, for me at least, the value and quality of the protein given to an infant.
  • While the melamine and the cyanuric acid were never found present in the same formula, thereby making them 'safe', who is to say that a baby may not find themselves drinking from different formulas in the same day?
  • The determination of a safe level for infants is flawed if you ask me, given that it is theoretical analysis and not based on observed fact. The FDA 'believes' it to be safe, but much like giving a baby a CAT Scan they really do not have any imperical data to suggest it really is safe, it's kind of like back in the day when they said tobacco smoke is ok - have you heard of the effects of 3rd hand smoke on little ones lately?
  • And quite finally and simply - I have no interest in feeding my children cheap counter top laminate and it's waste product - especially without my express knowledge.
Both my children were breastfed, one was supplemented with formula, and I am well aware that my milk was not as pure as an Arctic glacier (one wonders how pure that is b.t.w.) but was natural breast milk containing all the good bits breast milk does. For those children who's mother's need offer formula for whatever reason we should be able to rest assured that it contains only good healthy things that will help them thrive, not fill them in any way with empty protein or leave parents with any doubt as to the goodness and nature of the formulas contents.

to see the list of tested products go here

to read the FDA report go here

As always

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's Been a Long Time Coming

Time files quickly - I hardly know where it has gone! to all who may read this - first and foremost Happy New Year, may you and yours feel peace and love.

Now the news:
I have opened a new online toys store called Little Footprints ( I offer Planet Friendly toys for kids of all ages. I'm quite proud of my new little baby and I hope you will stop by and have a look.

The store is all about having fun and being kind to the planet, just like this little blog. I have enjoyed so many hours playing with my children and I have spent perhaps as many hours thinking about what they play with. I enjoyed seeing my kids pleasure playing with their toys but quickly noticed how so many could not hold their interests long term. It also began to bother me that so many toys that they seemed to get were so plastic, cold and really noisy. I began to put painters tape on the speakers to lessen the noise and look for more interesting and inspiring toys that felt better to the touch.

As my firstborn grew we began to teach her to be considerate to the planet. To recycle and not waste, flush only when really necessary, to turn off the lights behind herself,the importance of fresh food. My little boy, only just 2, knows what can be recycled and puts it in the correct bin. And I will admit it makes me proud.

Then one day I began to see images of the great garbage patches in our oceans. The Great Garbage Patches of our oceans. Plastic crap everywhere. Then looked at my den. More plastic crap. My kids were party to mounds of consumer garbage waste that would take centuries to go away to the naked eye but would never fully disappear, their chemicals left in the earth forever filling landfills or, dear gawd no, chewing up the insides of animals. Even buying second hand to take the small footstep of difference in excessive manufacturing can't help this.

But the beautiful wooden toys, cardboard puzzles and cotton loveys we had begun to search out wouldn't leave such a legacy. I was a woman with a mission. They were hard to find, out there and poorly promoted, toys that wee not just natural and fun for kids but better for the planet. Sustainable, Fair Trade, FSC Certified, made from all natural or recycled materials and locally made as well - all kinds of toys, games, kids gear and fun. Wonderful stuff. As I searched for my own interests I realized I was certainly not alone. Parents looking for alternative choices to 'toxic toys' but having a hard time finding them. As long as you were looking for baby clothes and products the choices were phenomenal but finding toys for everyone to have fun with was hard. In the States there were a few online stores and small retailers, in Europe natural toys abounded, but in Canada they were few and far between and catered to baby and toddler and even if there were products for older people they were natural but not planet friendly, and there is a difference. (see my earlier post regarding properly sourced woods)

So, I decided to do it. I have taken everything I know from running my Interior Design consulting firm, going green and being a mum and channeled it into a new business and a new path for myself and my family. It's been a few weeks since I got our virtual doors open and I think it is going well, every day sees more and more visitors and customers. I hope that with each gift given from my shop, someone somewhere will stop and think about the toys kids play with and realize that we need not sacrifice fun and learning to be sustainable, perhaps choosing to take another little step towards changing how we think about what we leave behind when the fun is over.

Goes without saying folks - if your looking for some sustainable eco-friendly fun in Canada, no batteries required, that will be gone before your great grandkids are born (unless you keep it safe of course!) then please pop by and have a peek in my shop, maybe there is something there for you too!

As always, thanks for stopping by & always