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Natural Kids

Natural Kids: October 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sankt Martin

If you should ever get the chance to visit the area in Germany where I grew up, you will notice one thing upon entering one of these small communities. As you drive into a small town you will notice a distinct feature on the horizon: two church steeples, one belonging to the Catholic church - the other to a Protestant church. Animosities and downright hostilities between the followers of either religious denomination have lasted for centuries. May God forbid that a Catholic girl should ever wed a Protestant man ( or vice versa), as my mother did, for she might become an outcast in her family...Despite the fact that most Protestants do not recognize saints and may even ridicule the Catholic practice of saint worship, there is one celebration in November they will not shun! On the evening of November 11, you will find Protestant and Catholic children alike going on lantern walks at night to celebrate the life of Sankt Martinus.
According to legend, St. Martin started out as a Roman soldier, was baptized as an adult, and became a monk. "It is understood that he was a kind man who led a quiet and simple life. The most famous legend of his life is that he once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from dying of the cold. That night he dreamed that Jesus was wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away. Martin heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised he has clothed me." (quoted form Wikipedia)

Most of the lanterns the children carry they craft lovingly at home or in art class at school. The lanterns are usually made of paper with beautiful cut-out designs that look like the lead glass windows of a church. The lanterns are attached with wire to the end of a dowel. Little tea-lights are used to make them glow in the dark. The children walk from their houses and meet at the market place, or the school building. From there they follow a rider on a white horse, dressed like a Roman soldier, marching towards the outskirts of town. While walking the children sing songs about St. Martin and songs about their lanterns. The destination of their march is a huge bonfire. The children gather around the bonfire. After a dramatic reenactment of the most famous scene from St. Martin's life, cutting his coat in half and sharing it with the beggar, all children receive a sweet treat. Each child gets handed a figure made of a yeasty bread dough with raisins for eyes.

I so loved this tradition as a child. There was always such a wonderful sense of community in this celebration. What better way to celebrate simple acts of human kindness?

Wishing you lots of light, human warmth and kindness for this season!

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Interview with Dayanra of Pin Pon

Today's interview is with NaturalKids team member Dayanra of the Etsy shop, Pin Pon. Dayanra is the creator of wonderfully original and whimsical plushies that all seem to have an such an innate sweetness of spirit that just perusing her shop will brighten your day! So let's get to know her a little better......

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when did you get started with arts and crafts?

Hi! My name is Dayanara Garcia. I grew up in North Suburban Chicago; I now live in the city. Well, I first discovered my artistic abilities when I was about 7 years old in Mrs. Levy’s 3rd grade class. I went to Columbia College, and studied Illustration and Advertising Art there. I also have a CDA certificate in Early Childhood Education.
So the story is, a friend let me borrow a sewing machine one day, and I never gave it back! I later bought her a new one. I shut myself in a room and taught myself how to sew. A local Artist Rep saw my work at a small store and took everything off the wall and put it in her Showroom, and that was the start of my doll making business. My style has evolved since then.

What is the main thing you make and sell in your store? What else do you make and/or sell?
I make and sell handmade dolls and softies that I design myself, mostly spontaneous, and I only make patterns for some, just to make them more one of a kind and after making dozens of the same doll for years, I can‘t do it anymore, it burned me out! I also venture into painting, beading, and making fun party hats.

Who if anyone has been instrumental in helping you hone your craft?
My Parents have always encouraged me, and let me do my own thing when I was growing up. I was the only 10 year old with a field easel at the park, while others played. Also my Young Women Leaders at church helped me develop my “talents” through Personal Progress, which is like earning your Eagle Scouts badge in Boy Scouts. When I moved to California, I started working at Handmade Galleries (Sherman Oaks, on Ventura Blvd.). The support and friendships that developed there have been so important to me in my craft and the way I conduct business. Great people.

What are your favorite materials?

I mostly work with cotton fabrics, but I always try to use natural materials. I do this because they are the most comforting to children, and also I remember having really awful skin irritations, allergies, and asthma as a kid and anything could set it off, except cotton! Cotton is still my best friend.

What advice would you give other Etsy sellers and those interested in opening up a shop?

The only advice I can give to anyone who wants to sell their work is, don’t quit your day job. It takes time to develop your own identity, and take a business class. I learned the hard way. Be true to yourself and always be open to new ideas and mediums, inspiration can come from anywhere. If it’s no longer making you happy stop, do something else and it will always come back better and with greater purpose.

What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you?
You can find my stuff at:
You can convo me for more info, or if you just want to talk
If you’re in the Chicago area you can come by any of the Events and Openings at The Cuentos Foundation, I’ll be there.

Thanks for reading another Friday Interview!


The Fairies Nest

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday Treasuries

Well, I think we have only one new Treasury for Thursday, but it's a lovely one!

Poor winsomehollow is black and blue all over... but in such a beautiful way:


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ode to all the hard working Moms!

What inspires you to make art? Who are the people in your life that have been important when it comes to your craft? That is one of the questions we ask artists from our group in our Friday feature interview.
Back when I was interviewed I said my mother. But there was not enough room to count the many ways in which she inspired me and made me become the person that I am now. I think of her every day. She passed away from cancer 4 years ago. But every time I pick up a needle and sew, I think of her. I know she would be so proud of me, and what I do.

Trees by

My mom did not make a living as a seamstress. She always told me that she wanted to learn the trade. But she grew up in a household with 10 children. There was never any money. Often not enough food to go around the table. Especially during the war. They slept 5 children to a bed. Can you imagine that? Being the oldest girl, she was 13 years old, when her father sent her to live with another family. She became their maid. Cleaned, cooked, washed their clothes. On weekends she'd be home to help with chores. Hard times. She was not allowed to become an apprentice to a seamstress. The trade she would have chosen if she had had a choice. All she knew about needlework and sewing came to her through her grandmother, from her father's side.
With my post today I want to honor all the hard working mothers with children. Like my mom who raised 5 daughters, and the members from the naturalKids team who are mothers and struggling to raise a family on a small income. These are hard economic times. So please, consider in your Christmas shopping to support a small family business like and many others on this team!

Take Care,
Ulla, the German Dollmaker

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday Treasuries

A cornucopia of goodies for you this wonderful Tuesday! Click and enjoy...

First, TheSingingBird brings us a Golden Orange Harvest, featuring some gorgeous autumn colors.

A gorgeous and craft-filled treasury from OritDotanDolls introduces us to Waldorf Arts and Crafts.

Lastly, TheSingingBird takes us on a very soothing trip to a land of Sweet Baby Blues.

Until next Tuesday!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mini Monday: ZuZusPetal!

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Meet Caron, aka ZuzusPetal!

My name is Caron. I was born in England, I studied fine art in England and Canada. I sort of fell into toy design about 20 years ago, I like the toys from the 30s particularly, and am mostly influenced by that era.

I just love everything about Art. it's the hub of my world and all I want to do apart from adore my kids, is draw, paint, sculpt, design stuff, make stuff, figure out how to make stuff and make that stuff too.

Your Mini Monday correspondent...


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday Treasuries

Some great new treasuries to check out for today...

Winsomehollow captures the soft and beautiful essence of our team in Hushed Autumn Dawning...

The Fog Crept in on Little Cat Feet, a pretty poem and even lovelier treasury from TheSingingBird...

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Life as a Waldorf "Short Order" Cook

The other day my daughter was asking me:"Mom, what are all those little sticky notes on the window behind your sewing machine?" I responded:"Oh, those are the custom orders I received and need to finish for Christmas."

If you are an artist/crafter and offer custom work in your etsy shop, life in the months before Christmas can get pretty complicated and hectic.

You may find yourself worrying and asking the following questions:

How many custom items should I offer?

Do I have all the materials to make them?

Do I have enough shipping materials, and will I be able to ship it on time?

How do I keep my store stocked at the same time?

How do I balance the custom work with my desire to create new items?Should I just skip sleep and work 24 hours? Now is the time, right?

I have been struggling with these questions since August. I would really like some input from other crafters who offer custom work. How do you stay organized and make it through this busy season?

Sometimes I get so tired of the balance act I am performing that I want to stop taking customs orders altogether! But then I get some wonderful Feedback or a really sweet message from someone who received their doll, and I forget all about the stress.

I find, that the challenges of custom orders bring out the best in me. Often customers come to me with ideas I never would have come up with myself! Or they point out how one of my items sold previously was so great because of a certain feature and why don't I combine it with this other feature...I think my customers make me a better artist. Even when I find myself grumbling at times about a difficult request...

My favorite kind of dolls are ethnic dolls. I made the Asian dolls you see in the pictures for children adopted from China. There is a great need for such items because it is hard to find dolls with Asian and other ethnic features on a regular store shelf. I feel that my work is important and appreciated by the children and parents alike!

But I am only one woman. I wish I had some elves to help. Maybe some day my daughter will be old enough to help. But for now it is just me.

Later I might post a picture of all my little sticky notes in the window of my "studio". I feel like a short order cook at times. Which is a funny way to put it since my orders take hours to complete. =)

Hope to hear some opinions from all of you who do customs!

Love, Ulla

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday Treasuries

Just one treasury today--but the Treasury is expiring today, so make sure you give it some love. I also anticipate more NaturalKids treasuries tonight, as the main Treasury should open in about 6 hours...

From new team member WrenWillow, enjoy some lovelies with No Preservatives Added.

Until next Tuesday!


Monday, October 13, 2008

Mini Monday: TheMoonGoat!

This Monday we meet TheMoonGoat, aka CrazyMamaProductions!

I have been felting for 14 years. I started making toys about 20 yrs ago and started a business 7 yrs ago. I have been selling my toys and child oriented artwork in my etsy shop CrazyMommaProduction for over a year.

As my children get older, I am finding a need to explore the more funky side of art and am truly enjoying myself. So, I decided to start the Moon Goat to explore that side of my art and open a venue to sell it.

As for more personal profile information, I am homeschooling my young children this year and learning to juggle my passion for creating art with schooling my lovely gaggle of children.

I hope you enjoy my store, I really enjoy making art and sharing it and hope that it brings a smile to your face :-)


Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Interview with MaDau Creations

Today's interview is with the co owners, Cat and Dodi, of MaDau Creations whose lovely Waldorf dolls have a certain joyful innocence about them that is so wonderful to see. So let's get to know them a little better....

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when did you get started with arts and crafts?
MaDau Creations is a Mother & Daughter Team consisting of Dodi Moody and her daughter Cat Macri. We began MaDau Creations by creating items for Cat’s children for Christmas. Friends and family then asked for similar items, we grew from there and hopefully will continue to grow in the Etsy community. Dodi has been crafty her whole life, she paints, sews, does a multitude of things with fiber arts, scrapbooks and makes cards. Cat dabbles in many mediums; drawing, painting, scrapbooking, digital scrapbooking, desktop publishing, crocheting, knitting and felting. She just likes to experiment with her creativity and searches out new ways to express herself often.

What is the main thing you make and sell in your store? What else do you make and/or sell?
Currently in our Etsy store we sell Waldorf Style dolls and accessories. We have a variety of different sized dolls listed as well as clothing for those dolls. Dodi paints all kinds of decorative items and has another business called Pretty Wooden Plates. Cat knits, crochets, weaves and creates items of magic wool for her children during the home schooling day. We both are very busy creating something most days though you won’t often see our handiwork on Etsy. Currently our Etsy creations are fixated on Dolls.

Who if anyone has been instrumental in helping you hone your craft?
Cat’s children are really instrumental in developing new ideas for our creations. They play and pick up something and request that we help them make say a cat or doll and next week that item is in the project of our home schooling week. If it inspires further creative juices we go from there. Our Princess and the Pea doll was inspired by a game we play at home called “Sleepy Princess and the Pea” we had been reading the fairy tale and the kids asked to play this game we have from Haba toys. Later I noticed them playing with pillows and a doll we had made them for Christmas and acting out the story. Dodi thought Wow what a great doll idea and we ran with it from there.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Books, nature, my children’s imaginative play, other etsian artists. There are so many fellow NaturalKids Team members with grand imaginations they inspire me to work hard.

What are your favorite materials?
Alpaca & Angora! For dolls we stick to wool, cotton and silk. Sometimes we use bamboo and other exotics but we are hoping to make something warm and cozy with Alpaca wool or Angora soon! They are just so soft!

What advice would you give other Etsy sellers and those interested in opening up a shop?
Keep at it. Advertise your shop with your friends and family, through email correspondence just by signing all your email correspondence with your etsy shop name and link. Perhaps join in coop advertising with your team members and relist your items often. That is the advice I have been given by Natural Kids Team member, Blossombabies, and I am trying to keep at it.

What advice would you give to beginners in your main craft?
It is hard work and takes time to get it right but once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to make some beautiful creations. Make mistakes, get your hands dirty, mistakes spawn grand ideas and new ways to do things so don’t be afraid to make them.

What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you? Our dolls can also be found at Butterfly Baby on Congress Street in Portland, Maine. Dodi’s commemorative plates can be found at

I hope you enjoyed meeting Cat and Dodi, I certainly did!

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Trip Down Memory Lane...

October is a hard month for me. I love the fall season so much because it reminds me of Germany. Finally - a spell of cold - after a long hot summer. The falling leaves of the oak trees in front of my house serve as a reminder of the changing season.
Who would have thought I'd ever miss the rain and cold, the overcast days, and the ever shorter dark days in Germany?

October is a special time in the little communities where I grew up. I was raised in the Rhineland-Palatinate or Rheinland-Pfalz, if you would like to try to pronounce that. It is a famous wine growing region in the West of Germany.
This time of year , as a child, I would be helping with the grape harvest. Even young children would participate. Once you were old enough to hold the clippers for cutting grapes, you'd go out and help. I remember my infant sister being carried in around the vineyard in her bassinet. Every helper would receive a bucket and a pair of clippers You'd be assigned a partner and a row of grape vines to harvest from together. It was hard work. Often we would work in pouring rain. Filling our buckets with grapes, over and over again. Once your bucket was full, you would call out for the "Legelträger," a person carrying a special bigger bucket strapped to his back, and empty your grapes into the receptacle as he would kneel down in front of you. He then would empty his bucket into a giant green vat. And when that was full, we would all be called on to jump into the vat and mash down the grapes to make space for more grapes.

My husband always jokes about it. He says the only reason I survived was because of my long legs.
It was a pretty sticky business. By the end of the day, you'd be tired and covered in grape juice and have grape leaves stuck in your hair. The smell of the harvest would penetrate deeply into your skin. But the hard labor would be rewarded with a small sum of money - which seemed huge for me as a child.
Now that I am older I fondly remember those days spent outdoors, working and playing in the vineyards.
Some people say that children in the modern world have lost touch with nature. They spend most of their time in front of TV and computer screens. I recently read an article which claimed that the average American child spends between 4-6 hours in front of a screen of one sort or another (Nintendo, other handheld games, Wii) . The article also stated that many children are losing touch with nature because of it.

Why care about the environment if you never spent time outdoors?
I wonder if things have changed in Germany and my memories are just that. Memories. Maybe the modern German child does not participate in the grape harvest. My sisters don't live that region any more. Maybe machines do all the work now...
I guess what I am trying to say here is: It is important to teach children a connection to nature!" It is so important to play and to work with them outdoors! I am convinced that I would be a very different person if I had not spent so much time surrounded by the soft rolling hills of the German country side where I grew up.

Have a wonderful week! And remember to turn that computer or TV off, and send the kids outside to rake some leaves with you!
Love, Ulla

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Mini Monday: NaturalStar!

Meet Brenda, the mind behind NaturalStar!

I live in the beautiful garden city of Christchurch in New Zealand. I am married with two children, a boy and a girl.

My materials are all New Zealand sourced and are of the highest quality that NZ has to offer. My garments are made in my smokefree home studio.

I own the Trademark Natural Star™.

I stand behind my products 100%. You are buying a garment made by a professional knitter who is also a perfectionist. Therefore, all garments are of high quality materials and professional workmanship.

I will be adding more certified organic clothing to my shop as I knit them up. This organic wool is perfect for babies, toddlers, kids and adults! Soft, chemical and pesticide free. Nature at its best!


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Taking Breaks....

And the winner is....sorry, the drawing will be this afternoon when my daughter returns from school. She insisted to be the one to draw the name out of the hat. So stay tuned! I will contact the winner later today! The answer was of course: BTRT also known as

One has to simply love the bright colors she uses on her felted toys!

OMG. I cannot believe it is October 1. The Christmas madness has started. So many projects on my workbench. Anyone know where to find some elves? Can't keep up with custom orders. Got to send those pictures to FaerieRebecca for the advertising campaign. Finish the bio. Order more business cards. Order more boxes and shipping supplies. Write the Wednesday Blog entry...Make more doll clothes and stock up the store. 100 items. The magic number, they say. What? I have only one Christmas item in my store so far? What is wrong with you? All big stores have their Christmas displays going already. In the US the Christmas season starts in July, right?

I am so00000000 stressed! I don't want to yell at the kids but find myself doing it anyways.

So to all you hard working etsy shop owners and mamas I want to say: Don't forget to relax!

It is important to take breaks! You feel like you should be making items 24 hours a day. Now is the time when people want it. But don't forget the family! And don't forget to take good care of yourself! Hence, I put the picture above. Take a relaxing shower and put some of that cream on those aching, hard working muscles. Please, WE NEED MORE listings for THESE!

Have a cup of tea! Take your kid for a walk to the park instead of making another little doll dress. Spend an evening with a good book instead of sewing...

I know it's hard, when you feel there is so much to do and not enough time to do it. But last night I started in on this amazing, wonderful book by Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake. If you are looking for a good read: Go for that one! It explains a lot about the immigrant experience. OMG, was that me talking in that book?

Take Care and have Great Week!

Hugs, Ulla

Tuesday Treasuries

A light day for our treasury makers, which means lots of time for you to give love to our three team treasuries!

Just like Dorothy (or FreedomRainbow, if you like) said, "There's no place like gnome..."

Her alter-ego, MangoPeachWalnut, found some Bandits sure to steal your very heart!

Lastly, Weebeaks brings us Gorgeous fall, some lovely harvest offerings...

Until next Tuesday!