How to Clean – Maple Town Flocked Toys

How to Clean - Maple Town Toys

Have you ever watched Maple Town? It is an animated series from the 1980s featuring anthropomorphic animal characters, within an adorable utopic town, that taught little life lessons in each episode. When I was little, my mom recorded it onto VHS for me and I watched them over and over; I also had several of the toys and I still have them!

These toys have been up in the rafters of our garage for over 20 years! They’ve held up better than my My Little Ponies (see how I cleaned them here), but they are still careworn and very dirty. I want to clean these toys to prepare them for my daughter to love and play with!

If you have any flocked toys, whether they are Maple Town characters, Sylvanians, Calico Critters, So Soft My Little Ponies or another, I’ve created this handy guide to help you give them a good cleaning without removing their flocking. Let’s get started!

FLOCKED TOY
How to Clean - Maple Town Toys
Before cleaning.
How to Clean - Maple Town Toys
After Cleaning.

SUPPLIES

  • Container
  • Powdered OxiClean
  • Toothbrush
  • Paper or dish towels

INSTRUCTIONS

Important! Since flocking is attached to the toys with glue, warm to hot water or air could dissolve the glue and remove the flocking.

  1. If your toy has any clothing, remove it and set it aside (see “Clothing” section below).
  2. In the container, prepare a small batch of the OxiClean per the instructions with warm water. Allow the water to cool completely.
  3. Take the toothbrush, dip it in the OxiClean bath then gently tap the water onto the toy to wet the flocking (this may take several dips and taps to wet the flocking over the whole toy). We are not scrubbing with the toothbrush, just transferring a controlled amount of water onto the toy. 
  4. Use your fingers to rub the OxiClean water into the toy’s fur and set it aside for 10 to 15 minutes. I set mine on a white plate and boy did some dirty water drain off of them (see photo)!
  5. After your toy has sat for 10 to 15 minutes, turn on your tap on the lowest stream it can distribute water, and carefully rinse each character. Take care not to linger too long over joints so water doesn’t leak inside.
  6. With a paper towel or dish towel, gently dab each toy to remove excess water, then set them somewhere safe to dry overnight or longer until they are dry to the touch.
  7. If your toy has any clothing, continue see the “Clothing” section below.
CLOTHING
How to Clean - Maple Town Toys
Maple Town character clothing, before cleaning.

SUPPLIES

  • Container
  • Powdered OxiClean
  • Needle (Optional)
  • Thread (Optional)
  • Scissors (Optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Important! If you’re worried about a particular article of clothing, please do a spot test first, before soaking the whole item.

  1. In the container, prepare the OxiClean per the instructions with warm water.
  2. Place the toy’s clothing in the warm OxiClean mixture to soak. There are some types of fabric that will not react well in OxiClean.
  3. Keep an eye on the clothing and remove it from the bath once clean. Some of my toy’s clothing was clean within 30 minutes, some of them took a couple of hours.
  4. Remove the articles of clothing from the soak and rinse them thoroughly. Squeeze the out the excess water, smooth out any wrinkles, and set them aside to dry.
  5. If there are any loose threads the clothing that will not unravel the garment if cut, you can use the scissors to snip them off.
  6. If there are any tears in the clothing, select thread that is similar in color and thread your needle. Carefully sew the tears back together using appropriate, simple stitches.
  7. After your toy and its clothing are clean and dry, re-dress, and display or enjoy!
How to Clean - Maple Town Toys
How to Clean - Maple Town Toys

Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama Bibliography

Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama Bibliography

I fortuitously found our first Llama Llama book at a local library book sale. It was October and I collected what halloween-themed children’s books I could find, then brought them home. Zoey immediately fell in love with Llama Llama Trick or Treat, handing it to us over and over again until both my husband and I could (and still can) recite it from memory. 

Since October, we have collected Llama Llama Gives Thanks, Jingle Bells, I Love You and Easter Egg. As I researched the author, Anna Dewdney, I was deeply saddened to hear that she has passed away. Her stories and her artwork are so heartfelt and beautiful; we love them, and will continue to collect and read all of her books.

As we continue to introduce Zoey to more Llama Llama stories, I’ve created a bibliography of Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama series. Please feel free to use it too if you need it! Her estate has released some books posthumously and I’ve decided to include those that have the same look and feel as the originals.

Posthumously

Please take a look at other Children’s book author bibliographies I’ve created here:

Mercer Mayer Core Little Critter Bibliography

Mercer Mayer Core Little Critter Bibliography

Mercer Mayer’s core Little Critter books are another staple series of my childhood!

I fondly remember my mom reading All by Myself, Just Me and My Dad, Just Me and My Mom, Just Grandma and Me, and (my personal favorite) Just Go To Bed! The stories felt so relatable and cozy and the artwork, although quirky, was also very warm and welcoming.

As I research this series, I realize that as much as I loved the books I knew, there are so many more I’ve never had the pleasure of reading! I am starting to collect Little Critter books to read to my daughter, so I’ve created this one-page handy dandy bibliography to keep track as I go! Please feel free to use it too if you need it!

See my Bill Peet bibliography here, and my Dr. Seuss bibliography here!

How to dye Easter eggs with food coloring!

Dyeing Easter Eggs with Food Coloring

I had every intention of making naturally dyed eggs this year. Every. Intention. Then I realized I did not leave myself enough time to prepare and create the dyes. Going natural is a labor of love that I would still love to do…next year.

This year, I dyed a small amount of eggs using food coloring, vinegar and water. It was a lot quicker, a lot simpler, and I was pretty happy with the results!

Dyeing Easter Eggs with Food Coloring
SUPPLIES
  • 4 16 ounce mason jars
  • 8 teaspoons of vinegar (2 for each color/jar)
  • 4 cups of water (1 for each color/jar)
  • Food coloring of your choice
  • 8 hard boiled eggs
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Prepare each mason jar by adding two teaspoons of vinegar to each one.
  2. Boil the four cups of water and carefully pour one cup into each mason jar.
  3. Add drops of food coloring to create the desired shade (don’t be afraid to add a lot, I used 40 drops of blue in one jar) and stir until the color, vinegar and water are well incorporated.
  4. Gently add two eggs to each color, allow the the water to cool slightly, then seal the lids and put them in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. Remove the mason jars from the refrigerator and carefully remove the eggs from the dye, then drain the rest.
  6. Rinse the eggs, gently rubbing with your fingers to remove the darker colored film covering the eggs.
  7. Gently pat the eggs dry with paper towels.

I used the mason jars I had available, which were 16 ounces with regular mouths. I dyed two eggs within each jar; I probably could have crammed 3 eggs into each jar, but I didn’t think that would have given them an even coating of the dye. Please feel free to multiply the recipe and enjoy!

A Sweet and Simple Toddler Easter Basket

Dear Easter Bunny,

Thank you and your helpers for all that you do! Since I was a little girl, your operation has grown into something that could rival Christmas morning! It’s enthusiastic and impressive to say the least, but I don’t think our little girl needs all the bells and whistles this year.

My daughter is a 19th month old toddler this Easter and I would like to request up to six items for her Easter Basket that are simple, sweet and more useful than not!

Thank you for taking a look!

DIY Spring Sensory Bottle

Happy Spring everyone! Spring has now sprung and it’s a time for fresh growth, vibrant colors and new life! Part of the fun in raising Zoey is making things that teach and fascinate her. And, if I’m being completely honest, I find sensory bottles fascinating too, so let’s make one!

SUPPLIES

  • A 16 ounce clear, plastic bottle
  • A funnel
  • 1 1/2 cups of white rice
  • 3/4 teaspoon of white vinegar
  • Green food coloring
  • Miniature insect (or other spring inspired) erasers 
  • Glue (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the rice in a resealable plastic sandwich bag.
  2. Add the vinegar and food coloring to the rice. You can add however many drops of food coloring you’d like, I added 20 drops.
  3. Seal the bag and shake well until the color is well dispersed throughout.
  4. Spread the rice onto a baking sheet and allow it to dry overnight.
  5. Place the funnel in the mouth of your bottle and use it to fill the bottle with half of the rice.
  6. Remove the funnel and add half of the insect erasers.
  7. Screw the lid back onto the bottle and shake until well incorporated, then remove the lid and replace the funnel.
  8. Add the rest of the rice and the rest of the insect erasers.
  9. Replace the lid onto the bottle and shake well again until well incorporated.
  10. If your child is older and you worry about him/her undoing the lid, you can coat the inside of the lid with glue, then screw it back onto the bottle. This will secure the lid and make it harder for little ones to unscrew the lid and create a leak or spill the bottle’s contents.

Enjoy!

The Benefits of Reading to Children

Stack of Children's BooksZoey’s Bedtime Story is a nighttime ritual I started last year, and this year, the adventure continues! I made a New Year’s resolution to read to Zoey every night this year and we have yet to miss a day!

Reading has always been very special to me. I remember my mom reading to me as a child and I believe it had a profound impact on my love for reading and books, not to mention my performance in school. I want to continue that tradition with Zoey. I want her to hear my voice, hear the diction and the pronunciation, see the beautiful images and eventually enjoy the stories. I imagine her sitting in my lap or lying cozy in her bed while I sit next to her and read, her eyes on the book with rapt attention. In reality, she sits on my lap for about five to ten seconds then tootles all over the room while I keep reading and trying to pull her attention back. I keep going because I know tat the more we read, the more she’ll settle in and pay attention.

There are many benefits of reading to children, no matter their age!

  • Increased attention span
  • Bonding between parent/guardian and child
  • Cognitive and language development
  • Creativity
  • Expanded vocabulary
  • Life lessons
  • Listening skills
  • Social and emotional development

So if you haven’t started reading to your little one(s) it’s not too late to start today! And if you’ve started reading to your little one(s) and their attention is anywhere but on you and the book don’t give up! Consistency is the key!

Please come follow along on my Instagram where I post which book we’re reading each night in my story, and every book I’ve read to her has been saved to the highlights on my profile.

I’ve started a Pinterest Board of all the books I would like to read to Zoey or share with her someday. Check it out to get inspired and please let me know if there are any children books you would recommend; we love sharing stories!

A Dr. Seuss Children’s Book Bibliography

Dr. Seuss Children's Book Bibliography

Another of my favorite children’s authors is Dr. Seuss!

See my Bill Peet bibliography here!

So many of this man’s books were read to me throughout my childhood and I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience! The artwork is uniquely appealing, his wordplay is masterful (have you read Fox in Socks?) and above all each story has a good moral that can teach all who read it!

I am starting to collect Dr. Seuss books to read to my daughter, so I’ve created this one-page handy dandy bibliography to keep track as I go! Please feel free to use it too if you need it!

POSTHUMOUSLY

A Bill Peet Children’s Book Bibliography

Bill Peet Bibliography

One of my favorite children’s authors is (you guessed it) Bill Peet!

I remember my mom and I would make frequent trips to the library throughout my childhood and I would always borrow as many Bill Peet books as I could find each time. Every story is entertaining and has a good moral, but most of all I love the art!

I am starting to collect Bill Peet books to read to my daughter, so I’ve created this one-page handy dandy bibliography to keep track as I go! Please feel free to use it too if you need it! We currently own Chester the Worldly Pig and Kermit the Hermit, but I’m always keeping a look out for more!

What’s your favorite Bill Peet book? It’s so hard to pick a favorite, but I believe mine is The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg.

Family Friendly Christmas Movies and Specials – G Rated

Family Friendly Christmas Movies and Specials - G Rated
Welcome to the cozy and magical month of December my friends!

My family and I have created a list of family friendly Christmas movies and specials for you and yours! Christmas may be celebrated a little differently this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t kindle a little Christmas spirit!

This year we’ve decided to focus on movies and specials that are rated G for general audiences, or good for all ages. Some of the older content has never been rated, but they were created under the Motion Picture Production Code, which was a set of moral guidelines used by motion picture studios from 1934 to 1968, and are thus pretty tame.

Please let us know if we missed or left out any of your family friendly (G-rated) Christmas favorites you feel should be included! We’d love to hear from you!

Organized alphabetically by title: