Best Kids Stuff from 2011

These book clubs, products and party ideas made parents' lives a little easier in 2011.
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Best "Mini Me" Trend
Book Groups for Children

For Seattle’s subadult set, 2011 was the year of the book...group. Across the city, kids are huddling in circles to discuss everything from Hunger Games to graphic novels to Daisy Dawson stories. Best of all: Mockingbird Books' free book group, complete with free pizza, just for tween boys the third Friday of every month. (Green Lake, 7220 Woodlawn Ave. NE; 206.518.5886; mockingbirdbooksgl.com) Another notable page turner: At Secret Garden Books (Ballard, 2214 NW Market St.; 206.789.5006; secretgardenbooks.com), teens nosh on Snoose Junction pizza while discussing the hottest YA titles (free; last Wednesday of the month); a young readers’ club is also in the works.

Best Nesting Assist
SwaddleDesigns’ Angry Bird Blankets

For years, we’ve loved Seattle’s SwaddleDesigns for its big, soft, square swaddling blankets with step-by-step baby-enchilada instructions sewn right onto the blanket. Now, blankies meet birdies with a flock of new designs featuring critters from the obsession-inducing smartphone game Angry Birds. Put a bird on your blanket ($28), burpie ($20), baby sack ($38), lovie ($20) and other items to honor those nesting instincts. Tukwila, 480 Andover Park East; 206.525.0400; swaddledesigns.com

Best Plush Lovie
Friends of Socktopus Wiener Dogs

Face it: Wiener dogs are funny. But in the hands of Clarity Miller, owner of Anacortes-based Friends of Socktopus, they go from silly to stylish. Handsewn in scads of fashion-forward cotton fabric options, these 16–inch-long doggies are about 5 inches tall, thus preserving the correct height/length ratio for optimum wiener-dog cuteness. $26; etsy.com, search “wiener dog paisley”

 

Best Birthday Party Idea

Moonie Icy Tunes’ Ice Cream Truck

Ice cream season is long past, but that won’t put the brakes on this truck, which delivers ice cream treats, old-school ice cream truck style, to screaming fans at parties. Beloved by summertime birthday party planners (and goers) citywide (book now for next summer!), Moonie Icy Tunes is trying something new this year: staying open for business all winter, too. “We’re already getting bookings well into December,” says Sharon Crosetto, a Redmond mom who runs the business with her daughter Melissa. Besides the iconic Good Humor bars, Moonie rolls out high-end treats, such as profiteroles and a limoncello dessert served in a glass flute, from her refurbished postal Jeep. “The novelty of it brings back something pleasant for people,” says Crosetto, like sweet memories of summer in the dead of winter. 425.223.1890; moonieicytunes.com

Eddie Bauer Releases EB Originals Collection

Eddie Bauer Releases EB Originals Collection

The retailer returns to its roots with iconic designs
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Wares from Eddie Bauer's latest collection, releasing today

Seattle-based men's and women's outerwear and apparel retailer Eddie Bauer is going back to its Northwest roots, when Eddie was a guy who ran a sporting goods store on downtown's Seneca Street in 1920. The brand has gone through some transition years, but it’s returning to the brand that outfitted the first American expedition to K2.

On Tuesday, September 27, the retailer is releasing its EB Originals Collection, a line that's inspired by EB's founder and the early, iconic designs from its nearly 100-year-old history.

The first patented down jacket, the 1936 Skyliner, is reincarnated with modern styling. Same for the 1942 Yukon--the top seller for more than 30 years--and the B-9 Parka, which originally kept U.S. airmen warm in -70 temperatures in their uninsulated bombers.

For Northwest street cred, the most striking piece is the limited-edition version of the Skyliner, that's lined with Pendleton wool in eight national park-inspired patterns from Portland's Pendleton Woolen Mills. What's more, it’s reversible, so you can wear your Rainier Pendleton Skyliner in multiple ways. Expect this limited-edition gem on October 18. $400 at eddiebauer.com.