Summer Craft Ideas - Furry Lion

Summer Craft Ideas - Furry Lion

This project is simple and easy to do with toddlers.  You may help  cutting the yarns but letting them glue or color the lion will keep them busy for some time :)

You will need the following:

Yarns – cut into 2 inches, can be any color.  


Print Lion here (Hand Drawn PDF but it should save some time)

Have fun! 

my kids' version :) 

Meet the Maker - Dana Kalatsky of Apple White Handmade

Meet the Maker - Dana Kalatsky of Apple White Handmade

Last year we began our “Meet the Maker” series where we introduced you to a maker who creates items for &NEST.  We are happy to be sharing with you our interview with another creative genius, Dana Kalatsky of Apple White Handmade.  Her &NEST products include the tooth fairy cottage and the tooth fairy teepee.

Born in the Pacific Northwest, Dana studied fine arts in college and currently resides in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband, three children, and three guinea pigs. She started Apple White Handmade when her youngest child began preschool and she was struggling a little with what to do with herself.  We are certainly glad she did, as our customers love her products! Read on for more of Dana’s story.


How did you come up with the idea for the &NEST products, the tooth fairy house and tooth fairy teepee?

I came up with the tooth fairy house because my daughter needed a tooth fairy pillow for her first loose tooth.  She had just drawn me the sweetest little picture of our house. The pattern for the pillow was made directly from that drawing.  The teepee came later after I saw an entire beautiful play teepee village at a craft show. 

That is so sweet you based the tooth fairy house after something your daughter made.  For the patterns, what do you like to work with, and why?

I love patterns and colors.  My favorite pattern is florals, I'm just drawn to them.  I'd have my entire house in florals if my husband would let me (so sad, he won't)!

What inspires you and keeps you going?

I love what I do. I love creating and working with my hands and mind.  I get really antsy if I'm not making things or being creative in some way.  Because Apple White is my very own business, it's easy to spend my time growing and nurturing it.

Do you have a favorite item to create?

I like my tooth fairy pillows the most because I love putting different patterns and colors together and always love how they turn out.  My customers are so grateful for them too. I love that I can bring a little joy to a family.

I recently purchased the tooth fairy teepee as a gift, and it was very well received! I am excited for when my son will be old enough for one.  Can you tell me about customer feedback that has meant the most to you?

I'm constantly amazed by the wonderful feedback I get about my shop and products and am so happy to know that my shop inspires other people.  Sometimes I get overwhelmed and lose track of why I'm doing what I do, and then I'll get a kind note from someone and it reminds me how blessed and grateful I am to be able to do this for a living.

How lovely that you truly enjoy your work.  Now, do you have any thoughts on where you would like to see your business go in the future?

I'm going to keep doing just what I'm doing for now.  Sending things out that were made entirely by my own hands is very important to me and I think people like that too.  Someday I may want to expand, or retire but for now I'm here in my home studio making pretty little things.

Well, we are so happy that you are going to keep creating your products, both for our customers and for ourselves!

Holiday Traditions

Holiday Traditions

Here at &NEST, we love holiday traditions.  Whether it is helping your father hang lights, baking cookies with a family member, or opening a stocking full of stuffers on Christmas morning, it is a comforting feeling to have something to look forward to during this season, year after year.  It is also fun to start new traditions, as we build families of our own.  We were specifically curious about how traditions may vary across the United States, and thought you may be too.  We spoke with three mothers who live in New Jersey, but were born and raised around the country. Here is what they had to say about their childhood traditions including those that they have carried to adulthood, as well as new traditions that they have started with their own children.

Mandy P., Florida

When my parents were first married they didn’t have a lot of money or holiday ornaments to hang on their tree.  They lived on Pensacola beach and would take walks to collect beautiful sand dollars.  They attached a string and hook and their first few trees were covered in these pretty white sand dollars.  Every year we had a couple on my childhood tree, and now I have one on mine. As a child, my family would sit by the Christmas tree and read the night before Christmas and the Bible passage of Jesus birth.  We do that with the kids now and it’s nice to see them enjoy it as much as I did. A new tradition for us is curling up on a cold winter evening watching Christmas classics with our sons.

Photo by thejoyfulhomeblog.com

Tenica P., Southern California

As a child, every year my family drove by a street named St. Albans, where these giant trees are lit up in lights.  It’s one of the most beautiful streets in town.  My mother also liked for us to see a Christmas show at the community theatre. Now, living in New Jersey, we like to go into the city at Christmas to see the Rockefeller center tree once during the holiday season, which is sort of like my family’s St. Albans tradition. Now my parents actually come to New Jersey since it’s hard to travel with our three girls, and they take part in our traditions.  They help move the elf at night, and they go sledding with the girls.  

Photo by Andres Kudacki / AP

Heather Bennington, Washington State
The childhood holiday tradition that sticks out most to me, is going into downtown Seattle each December with my parents, brothers, and sister to look at the holiday lights and decorations.  Sometimes the weather wasn’t great (rainy!) but we always had a fun time. I also loved baking and decorating various Christmas cookies with my family, which I now do every year with my mother-in-law. Although I wasn’t raised to believe in Santa, my husband and I are raising our son to believe.  The popular “Elf on the Shelf” game is a tradition that we are starting this year with our soon-to-be two year-old.

Photo via Pinterest

We hope that whatever traditions you are carrying on bring you much joy this holiday season! If you’re looking to build new traditions, here are some ideas we’ve gathered for those local to New Jersey/NYC.

Holiday Light Spectacular, Turtle Back Zoo {West Orange, NJ}

A family friendly outdoor lights event is on display from 5:00-9:00pm through January 1st.  Admission is free, with food and clothing donations appreciated.

Holiday Train Show, New York Botanical Gardens {Bronx, NY}

Model trains travel through a display of 150 landmarks, each re-created with bark, leaves, and other natural materials. This year’s exhibition features Midtown Manhattan’s skyscrapers and other architectural works.

The Polar Express Train Ride {Whippany, NJ}

Take a one-hour train trip to the North Pole to meet Santa! Each guest is given hot chocolate, a cookie, and the first gift of Christmas - a silver sleigh bell.

The Rockefeller Center Tree {New York, NY}

For over 75 years, an enormous tree has been decorated with twinkling lights, and overlooks the ice rink at Rockefeller Center. It is a spectacular sight to be seen!

The Bryant Park Winter Village {New York, NY}

The Winter Village features a 17,000 square-foot ice-skating rink and more than 150 shopping kiosks and artisanal food vendors.  Admission is free at the Rink and you may bring your own skates or rent for $20.  It is truly Manhattan's winter wonderland.

Help Us Give

Help Us Give

Hello Friends,

I believe that teaching our children to choose healthy and nutritious food is the foundation for raising strong and happy kids.  However, many children in America simply don't have the choice. In fact, one in six kids struggles with hunger. No child should grow up hungry in America. Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign is helping to end childhood hunger in America by connecting kids in need with nutritious food and teaching families how to cook healthy and affordable meals. You can help surround kids with healthy food where they live, learn, and play.

A portion of proceeds this weekend (‪Nov 24th to Nov 26th‬) will be donated to No Kid Hungry Campaign by Share Our Strength.

Please help us give this holiday season.

Thank you & Have a happy Thanksgiving!


Meet the Maker - LuLu Gonzalez from Lululuvs

Meet the Maker - LuLu Gonzalez from Lululuvs

Do you ever wonder who makes your favorite &NEST items, and how they come to be? This is our first post for our “Meet the Maker” series, where we’ll be asking makers of our products what you’ve always wanted to know.

Lulu Gonzalez, owner of the Brooklyn-based hair accessories company LuluLuvs, was born in Singapore and moved to New York City as a teenager.  She has two daughters with her Argentinian husband. Lulu first started her business by making chunky hand knit scarves and hats in the winter of 2011.  However, due to the seasonality of these items, she started thinking about something she could make to sell during the warmer months.  Inspired by her daughters, she figured hair accessories were a great addition to the brand.  We certainly agree!  Read on for more of our conversation with Lulu.

How did you learn your craft?

It was really a lot of trial and error. I have to admit the first few ones were not too pretty. But after making thousands of bows by hand myself, you just get the feel for it!

Do you have a favorite type of bow to create?

It's hard to pick a favorite, but I think my favorite hair accessories right now are the Bar Clips. I make them with Liberty of London floral fabrics, and also solid fabrics. The alligator clips are wrapped entirely with fabric and lined with non-slip grip for a very secure hold. They're classic, pretty and go with everything!o

What type of positive feedback have you received from customers?

My customers are looking for well-made, classic hair accessories, and I try my hardest to deliver that season after season. Many have said that my clips are the only ones that stay on their daughters' hair, or that their daughters only want to wear my hair accessories. I continue to strive to design and make hair accessories that both moms and daughters love! 

That’s great.  So it sounds like you have a lot of repeat business?

Yes I do! Before having my own website, I was on Etsy and I've had customers whose daughters have grown with me over the years. They started with the smallest itty bitty bows as babies, and are now graduating onto the big girl accessories. I love that!

Where do you see your business going?

I want to keep doing what I'm doing. Many have asked when I'll start hiring seamstresses, but I truly love and enjoy each and every step of the process, from sourcing fabrics, to trying out new designs, and making each and every bow! I truly love my job!

Well we love your bows, and your enthusiasm for making them.  Thanks for sharing with us!                                                     

Fall Inspired Breakfast - Sweet Potato Oatmeal

Fall Inspired Breakfast - Sweet Potato Oatmeal

"I can smell autumn dancing in the breeze.  The sweet chill of pumpkin and crisp sun burnt leaves" - Unknown

It's officially Fall friends!  Back to school, back to routine.  What better way to start the new season than a delicious and nutritious breakfast.  Here is a recipe that my family loves and I hope you will too. 

Sweet Potato Oatmeal

Serving Size 4 

  • 2 cup rolled oats
  • 3 1/4 cups water (more if you wish to have softer consistency)
  • 1 large roasted/steamed sweet potato, mashed (bake the sweet potato the night before. (380 degrees for 60 minutes)
  • 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
  • optional: Raisins
  • optional: 1 Tbsp chia seeds/flax seeds
  • optional: Favorite berries
  1. To roast your sweet potato, preheat oven to 380 degrees and place the whole potato on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 60 minutes or until soft and tender. (Most recipes recommend 400 degrees but I find that usually burns the potatos).  
  2. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Once boiling add your oats and reduce heat to medium. Stir frequently until the oats have absorbed most of the water. 
  3. Mashed your sweet potato and measure out roughly 1 cup. 
  4. Once your oats are just about done, add the sweet potato puree, raisins, pumpkin spice or cinnamon and chia or flax seeds and stir to combine. Taste and adjust flavor as desired. To thin, add a bit of almond milk.  

Happy Cooking!  Happy Fall! 

Summer Pop-up

Summer Pop-up

Mark your calendars NJ friends!  Come by and say hi!  Did you know we offer free local delivery?  


Spring Pop-up

Spring Pop-up

We will be at this year's MayFest in Maplewood, NJ.  There will be food, shopping and activities for everyone!  Come and join the fun!

Date: Sunday, May 21st

Time: 11am - 5pm 


"I CHOO CHOO CHOOSE YOU" Free Printable Card

It has been a solid two-year love affair that my son has with his Thomas trains.  For Valentine's this year,  I was inspired by the post from hello, wonderful co. of her "You make my heart race" card and wanted to make something similar but with trains. 

These Mini Thomas Trains came 30 of them for about $23.  I also had some neon color elastic cords and gold stripe washi tape.  The card is simple and easy to do.  It is a great activity to do with toddlers.

You can download the template here.

Enjoy and Happy Valentine's Day!