When did toys become so complicated and where did the imagination of play go? I have asked myself this on numerous occasions (more so on birthdays and Christmas) when I see my daughter open all her gifts of toys. With each unwrapping, the toys look more sophisticated and more high-tech. Then I reminisce on the days where I played with the most simple to use toys and they were my very favorite.
Those toys allowed me to imagine, inspire and learn on my own. It was such a simple time. This is why when I was introduced to PlaSmart Inc last year, I was intrigued to what they were offering.
PlaSmart Inc is a global toy distributor specializing in smart, simple, toys and games. PlaSmart began its journey to worldwide success with the introduction of The Original PlasmaCar in 2003 and today its products can be found in more than sixty countries on five continents.
PlaSmart’s innovative and quality products have won numerous and prestigious toy awards. The company focuses on toys that develop motor and dexterity skills, balance, creative and imaginative play, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills and, of course, entertainment.
So what did we try at Momma Braga? We actually won the PlaSmart’s Smart Mat in a Twitter chat last year and we were super excited. Not only because we never win anything but that we were looking for a mat for our daughter’s playtime.
When the Smart Mat arrived and we unwrapped it, our first thought was wow! We have seen many playmats and in all honesty they don’t give you the quality that you need for a young child’s rough play at times. However, the quality of the Smart Mat was really great. You can tell that it is durable and it was a great size mat too!
We opened it up and placed it on the ground and my daughter was so excited to have a place to sit and play on. We couldn’t help but fall in love with the design of the mat which is called Happyville. Not only can you play using the design as your background but you can use the Smart Mat for so many purposes. There is never a limit to a child’s imagination which makes it so fun!
We have had the Smart Mat for almost six months already and it has been amazing for us. It is durable, very easy to clean and easy to store. It is also suitable for kids of all ages! We truly love it and it still looks as great as when we first got it.
So what does PlaSmart’s Smart Mat rate on the Momma Braga meter?
We give it 5+++ Smarts out of 5 for the durability, size, quality and the easy clean up. It truly is one of the best mats I have seen and I have seen many. Smart Mat is very colorful and very appealing to the eye. This is one mat that I don’t think I could ever part with and if you are looking for a great mat to invest for your little one, then don’t look any further than PlaSmart Inc.
PlaSmart Inc is bringing simplicity and the fun of imagination back into playtime and I commend them for it! Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest to see the latest to inspire young minds.
Laughter is said to be the best type of medicine and who doesn’t like a good laugh?! I know that I love laughing and definitely like to make the people around me laugh.
This is why when I met Stef from A Little Leafy at the Baby Show in Toronto this year, I fell in love with her business! So what happens when Momma Braga likes a company, we write about it of course!
We had the sincere pleasure to interview the creator and business owner, Stef who gives us the inside scoop on everything, A Little Leafy.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“My name is Stef and growing up I was the kid who spent her days drawing and wanting to make everyone laugh. That creative passion is what drove me to be accepted into an arts program which lead to graduating as a Graphic Designer. My motto is “a little can do a lot,” not only because I am quite little in size, but also because I believe a little chuckle can go a long way in brightening someone’s day – and that is why I do what I do!”
Tell me a little bit about, A Little Leafy and the products you sell.
“A Little Leafy is where you can find “punnies” that have come to life. The majority of my illustrations include a pun or cheesy joke, accompanied by a smirking comical character! My illustrations are available on a wide range of ever expanding products! Some fan favourites are Mugs, Cards, Prints and my all new Stickers!”
What inspired you to create your business?
“Two years ago, right before I opened my shop, I was severely injured, I slipped a disc in my back and had to leave my job. I was instructed to stay laying down in my room as my back recovered, and this led to my illustrating some punny comics to cheer myself up and release my creativity. I’ve combined my love for a good laugh with my art and so began A Little Leafy!”
What do you hope your customers get from purchasing your products?
“My biggest goal is to spread smiles, and I love that I am able to make someone laugh through one of my punny creations. It really is the littlest things sometimes that can make a bad day into a good one (nudging back to my shop motto), and whether I get a smile, chuckle or slapping your knees laughter – I’m honoured to be part of that reason!”
Where would you like to see your business in five years?
“I hope that my punnies will spread laughter from home to home, and grow to reach new people! I absolutely love being a small business owner and being able to use my art to make others smile, so if I can continue to do so and extend the amount of people my company can reach – I would be ecstatic! I love doing this, and my shop is not just what I do, it is me!”
If someone is interested in purchasing products from you, where should they go? Do you do custom orders?
“I currently have an online shop linked on my website where you can purchase my products! For my local friends I also have a shop nook inside Arts Market on 846 College Street in Toronto – and in addition to that I am always popping up at a local market and love meeting my customers! Custom orders are always welcome, I love personalizing my designs to fit my customer’s needs!”
You are a young and inspiring woman, what advice can you give to a young person who may want to pursue their own business?
“My advice would be to go for it, no matter what. I have had to deal with many people, and I still do to this day, that will want to give you their opinion. In most cases unfortunately it’s negative, because the truth is most people don’t like taking risks. If you never try, you’ll never know and worse than that – you’ll regret never trying. Just keep powering through, keep being positive and keep doing you, because those same people will come to you at the end and instead of saying you can’t, they’ll be asking how!”
What would you say has been the biggest help in you pursuing your dreams?
“The biggest help for me is definitely my family. They not only encourage me, my family also stays up late keeping my inventory organized. I bounce my ideas off of them and not only do they help me physically putting up and taking down show set-ups – but they are also by my side helping me sell! A Little Leafy would not be where it is today without my little sister, Tori. She helps me literally almost every single day, with anything I need. She’s been my biggest supporter from the beginning and I’m truly grateful to have been blessed with an amazing sister. In all fairness I DID ask Santa for her when I was 3…”
Lastly, is there anything you would like to add for our readers?
“I would love to say thank you! Thank you so much for taking the time to learn more about me, thank you for smiling at my punnies and thank you for supporting my dream! It truly means the world to me!”
Thank you Stef for giving us the opportunity to interview you and your amazing business!
It is hard not to giggle or smile when you see a creation by A Little Leafy! I loved it so much that I had purchased a mug and a bib from them with some really punny creations on it. I have also included them in my gift giving this year.
What stands out with A Little Leafy is something that you can’t really buy and that is passion. When you meet Stef or when you deal with her company, you can’t help but notice the heart she puts behind everything she creates. She honestly LOVES (I think more than I do of my blog – didn’t think that was possible) what she does and it is reflected in her creations and in her interactions with her customers. That in itself is what makes A Little Leafy part of Momma Braga’s Recommended List.
If you are looking to see the products available you can check out her Etsy shop, or her location at 846 College Street in Toronto. But A Little Leafy also shows up at local events and some that she will be at this November are the following:
Saturday November 4 from 9am to 1:30 pm at The Vaughan Market Place, 1 Villa Royale Ave., Woodbridge, ON.
November 17, 18 and 10 at the Seasons Christmas Show at the International Convention Centre.
Make sure to pass by and say that you read about her on Momma Braga! 😉 Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Can’t wait to get my products for my loved ones for Christmas!
Many parents have not heard of Plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome) which is a surprise but one that I would like to bring to light.
According to The Baby Centre, Plagiocephaly is a condition that causes a baby’s head to have a flat spot (flat head syndrome) or be misshapen. The most common form is positional plagiocephaly. It occurs when a baby’s head develops a flat spot due to pressure on that area. Babies are vulnerable as their skulls are soft and pliable when they’re born.
Positional plagiocephaly typically develops after birth when babies spend time in a position that puts pressure on one part of the skull. As babies spend so much time lying on their back, for example, they may develop a flat spot where their head presses against the mattress.
What many parents also don’t know is that there is a way to prevent Plagiocephaly which comes in a form of a pillow. I am delighted to introduce you to Mimos Pillows Canada.
About the Mimos Pillow
In 2007 Electronic Engineer David Verde and his wife, Molecular Biologist Yin Chen Law of Spain, noticed their three month old baby had an abnormal head shape. When their son was 5 months old their baby’s flat head worsened. They eventually went through the agonizing and very expensive process of getting their son an orthopedic helmet. The initial casting of the helmet was very upsetting for their son and after two months of treatment their son had dermatitis, redness and broken skin. There had to be a better way. It was at that moment that the idea for the Mimos Pillow was born!
Now a Class 1 Medical Device in Canada, their mission at Mimos Pillow Canada is to lower the astounding 47% of babies that develop cranial deformities (flat-head syndrome). The Mimos Pillow is the only medical baby pillow recommended by health professionals around the world and thoroughly tested for safety by international laboratories (breathability, anti-suffocation and the risk of CO2 rebreathing).
What Does Mimos Pillows Do?
The Mimos Pillow both prevents and corrects positional skull deformities. It is recommended for all babies from the newborn stage onwards to help avoid flat spots altogether by pediatricians and neurosurgeons and is available in 25 countries around the world.
Here is a great video on how Mimos Pillows work.
#MelandNikkiReview on Mimos Pillows
We had an opportunity to review this product in person and we are thrilled that we did! The pillow is perfect for a baby’s developing head and the material is breathable, comfortable and soft. It is easy to care for as it can be cleaned and it dries quickly. It is a compact size which can make it easy to transport with. The Mimos Pillow allows the head to grow normally and round out to its natural shape. The best part of this pillow is that it prevents and also corrects flat head. In my books that is amazing just in itself. We give Mimos Pillow 5+++ ZZZZZ’s out of 5 and they have just been added to our recommended list.
This would make a great gift to an expecting parent or if you are expecting we do recommend this product. For Momma Braga readers, there is a special promotion available to you. Enter code MommaBraga under ‘discount’ for $10 OFF on your purchase (click here). You definitely don’t want to miss out on this chance to buy a Mimos Pillow for your little one.
This isn’t the last that you hear about Mimos Pillow Canada as we got an exclusive interview with the people behind the Canadian business of it. You won’t want to miss this article coming soon!
Growing up in a Portuguese household it was a special treat when my mom would make us malasadas to eat. For those who may not know, a malasada is a Portuguese confection, made of egg-sized balls of yeast dough that are deep-fried in oil and coated with granulated sugar. It really is delicious and it is well known to be a delight that was created from the Azores and Madeira.
Therefore, when I heard about a place called Malasada World, I was extremely excited! How could I have not known that there was a place that specialized in malasadas and where exactly was this place???
Malasada World is located at 33 Ainslie St N in Cambridge (formerly known as Galt City). They are located in a perfect spot, downtown.
So this meant that Momma Braga had to take a road trip! I couldn’t try this place on my own so I had to bring my entourage (my family) with me.
We planned a Saturday outing to Cambridge which is about a 45 minute drive from where we live. We found a parking lot just a few minutes North from where Malasada World is located and it is free for the first two hours (not bad considering that when you park in downtown Toronto, it is never free). Even though we had a gloomy and rainy day, we were still all excited to try a malasada.
We arrived and were greeted by the friendly staff and we got to meet Steve, the face that runs Malasada World!
My impression of Steve surpassed my expectations as he is a nice and humble person to meet. He has a great sense of humor and if you are at his shop and you don’t want your family to know, he will keep your secret! 😉 He is also the one at the back working really hard to delight your taste buds. You can say that he made a great first impression on all of us.
Now it was time for the true test…the taste test. Was the malasada going to pass the Momma Braga taste test? Will Malasada World make it on the #MelandNikkiReview?
Yes! Yes it did!
Since I have been known for my candid honesty on my blog, I have to say that the traditional malasada that I tried was much better than any other malasada that I have ever had before (sorry mom!). It was fluffy, light and had just the right amount of sugar. It was perfection! I don’t say that often but I can in this case. Everyone in my group loved it as much as I did and my group is one of the hardest critics to please, so bravo Malasada World!
So how did Malasada World begin and who exactly is Steve? I got the inside scoop to share with all of you!
Tell me a little about yourself.
“I am a first generation Portuguese Canadian, born in Cambridge Ontario. I am a 43 year old father of two wonderful young women. My family is from Santa Maria in the Azores, Portugal. I am a classic trained Chef with just over 20 years of experience in different segments of the food and hospitality business. Food and hospitality industry runs in the family.”
What inspired you to call your shop, Malasada World?
“I was thinking of a name that would really help make the brand/concept stand out and speak for itself. I narrowed it down to three names. Luso Donuts and Tia Maria’s Malasadas were the others. I even did a little survey on Facebook to see what my friends would pick. In the end, we picked Malasada World! It was the one that made the most sense after much thought.”
When did you start your business?
“I started the vision for this business concept many years ago! About 11 years ago, I told one of my colleagues it would be nice to just make donuts for the rest of my career. That was Chef Andrew Dymond at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The first time I made them for sale was about five years ago in Prince Edward County at a friend’s farm called, Vicki’s Veggies. Our shop in Cambridge has just recently celebrated its one year anniversary! We opened on Portugal Day in 2016.”
Tell me a little bit about what you serve.
“At the shop we offer everything the MALASADA has to offer! Different varieties including the Traditional Style I grew up with. We also make the Hawaiian style that are enjoyed today in bakeries all over Hawaii. We have developed our very own version of the Malasada with different toppings and refer to these as our “Signature Style.” Our most popular is called the DoughNATA. It is a hybrid of the famous Portuguese custard tart called a “Pastel de Nata” and our Malasada. It’s kind of both put together (minus the puff pastry)!
I have also taken the Malasada dough and developed a line of Baked Malasada Buns and Loaves. This Malasada bread is showcased and used in our daily sandwich menu. We are MALASADA WORLD!”
What do you hope your business accomplishes?
“I want Malasada World to be recognized for being the BEST Portuguese inspired fast casual specialty donut shop! I also hope to achieve international success with a location in Sao Miguel in the future.”
Where would you like to see your business in five years?
“I hope to grow the business and have additional locations in and around Southern Ontario. I am currently looking for the right investors to team up with.”
Anything new on the horizon for Malasada World that we can officially announce on Momma Braga?
“We are currently working on the business plan for a mobile unit for Malasada World. Either a food truck or trailer. We would then be able to serve our customers at private parties and corporate events!”
How important was it for you to bring a piece of your culture to share with the world?
“It was very important for me to somehow include my cultural background and family food experiences into my business model. I think that Portuguese cuisine in general is under represented and is not as familiar as other cuisine’s of the world to the general public. Portuguese cuisine is wonderful and I would like to showcase it more.”
Thank you so much Steve for the inside scoop and for allowing Momma Braga the opportunity to feature you!
For this #MelandNikkiReview we give Malasada World, a 5+ DoghNATAs out of 5! This is the first review over 5 and it is much deserved. Malasada World has made it on the #MommaBragaApproved and #Recommended lists. If you are looking for a taste of culture done at its finest then Malasada World is for you! Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and please note their posts may cause you to drool.
A Momma Braga tip is to order your malasadas in advance especially if you are travelling from afar as they do sell out fast! To avoid disappointment, feel free to call them at 519.267.7177 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Walk-ins are always welcomed but you will need to arrive early to taste some malasada goodness!
Once again thank you Malasada World and Cambridge for having us and I will be back!
Until next time…Happy Parenting!
*Please note that this is not a paid or sponsored post. Momma Braga did not receive any form of compensation in exchange for this review and all opinions in this post are my own honest opinions.
For the past few weeks, I have had the pleasure of using Scent Fill in my Air Wick warmer in my home. I had the opportunity to pick three scents and I picked the Lavender Vanilla, Relax Blend and Island Essence to try.
I truly enjoy anything that makes my home smell extra nice and the Scent Fills do exactly that. I was surprised how long they lasted too. Normally the refills from other brands last about 4 days but the Scent Fills last about two weeks and the scent stays for just as long.
From all the three scents I have tried, I can not pick a favorite one as they are all so wonderful! Each one smelled so great and it kept my home smelling amazing! I have to be honest and say that every time I entered the room with the Scent Fill it did improve my mood dramatically. It is amazing what the sense of smell can do for us.
What I love the best about Scent Fill is that they are a small business that operates in the US. Their mission is to bring high quality, universal fit, captivating aromatic scented oil refills to your space easily, naturally and affordably. Scent Fill offers a variety of scented oil fragrances available through as a recurring subscription service or a one time purchase. Their scented essential oil refills provide aromatic fragrances in your space, improving your mood and sense of well-being.
The Scent Fill Difference
The first 100% natural plug in air freshener refills available.
Scent Fill is a patented, universal fit refill that can be used with your existing Glad, Air Wick and more.
Single orders or subscribe and save 5% and never run out again. You control your subscription and can pause, cancel or change selections at any time.
Scent Fill refills contain more essential oils than store brands, as shown in testing, and will leave your space smelling great and deodorized.
The only plug in refill manufactured and assembled in the US.
Scent Fill refills highlight responsibly harvested essential oils found in naturally aromatic plants, woods, flowers, barks and seeds around the world.
We give Scent Fills 5 magical scents out of 5 as we have enjoyed the three that we had so far and we can truly see and smell the difference in our home.
So where can you purchase these wonderful scent fills?
You can purchase them directly online and are available to order from the US and Canada (Shipping cost to Canada is calculated during checkout. We charge are actual shipping cost around $14.00 and up depending on weight. Shipment is by USPS and Canada post).
“Yourbaby’s relationship with food starts with her first bite.”
I had the recent pleasure of reading, Baby Self-Feeding, by Nancy Ripton and feeding therapist Melanie Potock (Coach Mel), MA, CCC-SLP. This book provides solutions to help empower parents to create lifelong, healthy eating habits for their children.
It was an easy and enjoyable read from beginning to end. The book provides practical solutions and step-by-step ways to transition your baby to early solid foods and smart-start purees. This book sets your child up for a lifetime of healthy, adventurous eating by letting her lead the way. It puts your child in the driver’s seat, helping to establish a positive relationship with what’s on her plate. This book helps parents encourage a confident and healthy eater at an early age and some of this books features are: valuable self-regulatory skills; mindful eating strategies; 25 baby tested and approved functional food recipes; smart-start purees and healthy finger foods, and how to introduce them; ways to avoid picky eating; methods for avoiding food allergies and reducing choking hazards; and mess-free tips for dining out.
This book appears to cover it all and they do a great job at it too! I love how they provide great recipes to try and even specified ages for each recipe section (6 to 9 months; 10 to 12 months; and 13 to 18 months). I also loved seeing one of my favorite products featured in the book, the EZPZ Happy Mat.
Throughout, Baby Self-Feeding, there is a lot that they touch upon and as you read this book you may learn new things that you never knew before. I know I learned a great deal and here are some learning highlights for me. 1) It is important to repeat exposure of foods that your kids dislike as it takes time for them to like them. Could take 8 to 15 times before they will accept it. 2) Don’t pressure feed and offer food in a positive, non-judgemental environment. 3) There is a helpful self-feeding checklist that you can use to see if your child is ready. There is so much more that I learned; however, I don’t want to spoil the whole book for you. 😉
My favorite part of the book is the tips for dining out with your kids as it provides success secrets that I just love!
I give this book 5 healthy fingers out of 5! It truly covers so much more than I expected such as vegetarian diets, babies who are breastfeed and those who are formula feed, just to name a few. It was inclusive to everyone and was done in a positive manner. This was such a great book and one that I would recommend to everyone that I know.
If you are interested in purchasing this book please click here.
To follow Melanie Potock (Coach Mel) and learn how to raise adventurous eaters, follow Parenting in the Kitchen on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. To learn more about feeding therapy and extreme picky eating, join Coach Mel at My Munch Bug on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.