wood toy giraffe

Giraffe Toy

The Giraffe

aka Mr. Long Neck

aka Stretch

aka How’s The Weather Up There

We just love giraffes here at the Bungalow.  At our local zoo you can feed the giraffes a little giraffe cracker.  Right out of the palm of your hand!  How cool is that?

Happy Bungalow’s giraffe is crafted from hickory, sanded smooth, and finished with a beeswax polish we make ourselves.  Pick up your own giraffe toy from our online toy shop.

giraffe toy

wood toy animal warthog

Wood Animal Toy Warthog

Introducing the warthog!  Now, to be honest, we haven’t had a lot of demand for a warthog toy, but now that we’ve made one, people just love them.  They are so darn cute!  Real-life warthogs,

[insert 80’s movie record screech]

Q:  Wait, where’s the warthog?  I only see is a rhino.
A:  Well, you know, rendered in wood, warthogs and rhinos look strikingly similar.  We create all our animal patterns from scratch, tweaking real-life animal profiles to conform to the realities of wood toys.  So you can call it a warthog or a baby rhino (as paired with our purpose-crafted rhino toy).  We call this little wooden animal fun.

Take home your own wood animal toy warthog from our online toy shop today!wood animal toy warthogLooking for a wooden toy rhino?  Pick it up here.

wood toy rhino toy for boys

Wooden Toy Rhino

Most animals are better admired from the far.  The rhinoceros, weighing “a million pounds” and armed with “giant sword horns” is certainly an animal better admired from afar.  Even without the exaggerated quotes from small children.

This rhino toy was one of Happy Bugnalow’s first animal toys and still one of our most popular.  We craft our rhino from red oak, carefully sand all corners smooth, and finish it off with a beeswax polish we make ourselves.  As with all our toys, it’s made to be passed along to another generation.

Take home your own wooden toy rhino from our online toy shop today!wooden toy rhino

decorative circle

One Simple Trick to Happiness

One Simple Trick to Happiness

You can’t flip through a family magazine, play a parenting podcast, or tune into a talkshow without being bombarded with advice, tips, tricks, and strategies to spend more time with your family and lead a happier life.

Want to spend more time with your children?  Have more quality family time, happiness, and all that?  Forget all the articles and books you’ve seen.  When it comes to spending more time with your family there is only ONE SIMPLE TRICK you need to know.

And honestly, feel free to substitute anything you’d like in place of spending time with your family.  This simple trick is fairly universal.

And unlike all those silly internet advertisements, this simple trick is real.

Looking for a way to spend more time with your children?  It’s easy:  JUST SPEND MORE TIME WITH YOUR CHILDREN.

But before the spade of “buts” come, there is one simple catch that accompanies this one simple trick:  YOU’LL ALMOST CERTAINLY EARN LESS MONEY AND HAVE LESS TIME FOR YOURSELF.

My wife, Liz, and I have been testing this trick since the day our oldest child was born.  We work(ed) very hard to spend a lot of time with our children.  On workdays we have breakfast at home, some days we even make pancakes or waffles from scratch.  We hunt for bugs under rocks or blow bubbles on the porch.  At a time when most people are still working at their desks, we’re sitting down to dinner.

The best of all, with few exceptions either Liz or I, if not both, have spent Fridays with our children.  For us three day weekends are the norm.  For us Fridays aren’t that slackadasical last day of the work week, instead they’re trips to the less-crowded zoos and museums, picnics in the park, hikes in the woods, puzzle-building in the dining room, block building in the living room, and all around fun-having.

Though we didn’t take up this grand experiment so willingly.  Initially we had no choice in the lifestyle.  I was laid off from my job as an architect when our oldest child was just four months old.  I made due with part time and odd jobs for a few years and in doing so Liz and I came to cherish all the time we had together with our growing family.  It’s nice to be up every morning before the sun is.

I had time to make some playthings for the Kids and heard a few too many “you should sell these” comments.  So I did.  Thus Happy Bungalow (famous wooden toy company) was born in our basement.  It has been a tremendous amount of work, but has allowed me to earn enough money while working from home and spending more time with my family.

Now every morning isn’t berry topped oatmeal for breakfast.  And every Friday isn’t a Mary Poppins inspired romp through the chalk drawings.  We have to leave early or work late sometimes.  Fridays see sick or grouchy kids (or parents).  And now that our oldest is in school, mornings have become much tighter (and funny enough, the school doesn’t subscribe to our three-day weekend schedule).

The catch though?  Working less to spend more time with our children means earning less money.  This means we’ve become even handier at fixing lawn-mowers, repairing leaky gutters and toilets, and getting by with clothing that’s more worn than we’d like.  We make pancakes from scratch, because it’s so much cheaper (they taste pretty darn good too).  We eat in more because we can’t afford to eat out as often as we did pre-children.

Then there’s the stress, the worry, the anxiety, and the occasional fight.  Liz has had a full time (though flexible) job throughout our children’s lives, but I’ve largely had unpredictable work.  Initially as a part time architect, then as a newbie professional toy-maker.  So for several years the burden of supporting the family financially fell on Liz.  Again, very stressful for everyone.

BUT WE’VE MADE IT WORK

Sticking with this lifestyle hasn’t been easy on the accounting end, but it’s been wonderful on the personal side.  Our children will only be young for so long.  We’ll play catch-up on the monetary side in a few more years when the Kids aren’t so into spending an afternoon playing made-up adventure games in the park.

I know, this isn’t easy, and it may not be possible for you.  Though I will say that before we were put into the situation, we wouldn’t have thought it possible for us.

decorative do-dad

Disposable Stuff – Enough!

The world has enough cheap disposable stuff.  The world needs more hand-me downs – furniture, books, and toys that come with a history.  An object that conjures up a half-dozen stories from grandma.  We craft these memory-holding objects every day.  We call them wooden toys.

Old time? Maybe, but it’s certainly a fun time.

Lost art?  We don’t think so.  At least not while we’re around.

We make quality wooden toys.  Think heirloom without all the overused and ill-applied marketing gimmicks.  Our toys won’t break after a few afternoons of play.  They won’t run out of batteries (because they don’t need them in the first place).  Happy Bungalow’s toys are made to be passed down to the kids, then to the grandkids.

color wheel

Happy Bungalow Makes Fun!

Happy Bungalow makes fun.  We’re not crafters, makers and, even though we work with wood all day, we don’t describe ourselves as wood-workers.  We’re artisans crafting clean, honest toys.  Wooden toys, literally for all ages.  But when you think of wooden toys, don’t think grandpa whittling on the back porch, rather – roaring dinosaurs, zooming fast cars, flittering fairies, and the most awesome robots you’ll find.

We use only natural wood (no stains) and only make toys we want our kids to play with (and yes, that we have fun playing with as well).  We’re an old-fashioned family business – our woodshop is part of our house and holds a number of tools, but no lasers.  Every piece is cut by hand, sanded silky smooth, and finished with love.  Well, linseed oil and beeswax actually – it turns out love doesn’t adhere to wood very well.

circus ring with elephants

Circus in Town – All This Week

Smell the popcorn, taste the cotton candy, and hear the calliope music filling the air! It’s a Three Ring Circus! – right in your home. The circus will always be in town with this fantastic wood play set. The children in your life will love the lions, tigers, elephants, dogs, ponies, and people. And become a kid again as you relive your own circus memories.

Take home the excitement of the circus with Happy Bungalow’s 70+ piece wooden circus toy set.  (click here to purchase)

threee ring circus advertisement

All the World is a Circus

All the World is a Circus

Take home the excitement of the circus with Happy Bungalow’s 70+ piece wooden circus toy set.  (click here to purchase)

All the World is a Circus

wood train buildings

Throw Back Thursday – Too Many Train Buildings

Just because you make it, doesn’t mean they’re going to buy it.  Say like you make 300 and some odd little toy train accessory buildings for your first craft show (that’s modestly attended by the way).  Let’s say you make all these buildings.  Not everyone wants to buy them.  You can worry all you want that you’re not bringing enough product, but there’s no need to.  YOU WON’T RUN OUT.

toy railroad track and buildings

Ok.  I didn’t expect to sell 300 little buildings at my first [small] craft show, but there was like 12 different kinds of buildings, so there’s only 20 of each type . . .

We’ve had big runs on one items at shows before.  You know, big shows in the Fall when people can’t buy enough cool toys.

The train buildings were one of the first Happy Bungalow toys.  The thinking was:  everyone sells those little toy train track and magnetic trains, but accessories are hard to find.  And if you can find any buildings, they’re always painted.  How about some plain and simple accessory buildings?  Guaranteed to sell right?  We identified a product missing in the marketplace.  A NEED that all those business books always talk about.

Being one of our first toy lines, it took a while to figure out just how to cut the wood safely.  The saws in our shop cut fingers just as easily as they cut wood – and these toys are so small – and if you don’t/can’t hold the wood firmly in place it will fly away from the machine at high speed.  So once we figured out the techniques and process we maximized our tool setup overhead and ran off a few hundred buildings.

toy railroad track and buildings

For our first show we put together a train demo display on the ground for the kids to play with (see below).  Then on the table above we lined up a few dozen of the buildings.  We really fussed over the best train layout too.  Probably went through a half dozen configurations beforehand (don’t miss those days).  So it was a lot of work, you follow?  And did it pay off?  Did it pay off?! The NUMBER ONE product people wanted to buy that day?

Yeah, the trains.  The dumb old trains.  The only thing on display that we didn’t make.  [insert Charlie Brown hopeless sigh]

This was the first and only show the train and tracks were ever displayed at.  The buildings come to shows from time to time, and they do well enough.  Though we still have a box full of the suckers.

first art show booth

For all the fussing about the layout we did come up with a cool idea for the table toppers – using a sort of butcher paper that we wrote little product descriptions and prices on.

A note about the first two pictures.  They were part of our first photo shoot.  We drug furniture, ladders, props, and back drops out into the back yard.  Spent and afternoon shooting hundreds of pictures and another afternoon editing them.  Eek.

Read the rest of our Throw Back Thursday series here.

Happy Bungalow

Wooden Toy Safety Warning

So we had a little incident here a few weeks ago; apparently you can have too much fun!  A few hundred toys were gathered, creating a sort of critical mass of fun.  There were a dozen or so rainbows emanating from our living room, and we’re pretty sure we saw a real life fairy.

To be clear, no irreparable damage was done, but the folks from NASA and the NOAA asked us to put a new notice on our toys:

“Playing with Happy Bungalow Toys may open a rift in the PLAY-FUN continuum.”

But we really don’t see the harm in honest play, so we added:

“Please play with joyous abandon!”

Interested in some living room science?  Pick up some toys in our online toy shop.wooden toy safety warning