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Natural Kids

Natural Kids: December 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

Mini Monday : Smallestfriend

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Everything in this shop is handmade with love and care! I use super soft organic cotton to carefully knit these little treasures and the animals are stuffed with natural wool.

Although these animals look very nice displayed on a mantle or bookcase, they are still toys! They are quite tough, sturdy, and love to be played with! These sweet little animals are sure to be adored by friends of all sizes.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Wishing You A Wonderful Holidays!

Play silks from Beneath the Rowan Tree

"We need a renaissance of wonder.
We need to renew, in our hearts, and in our souls...
the perennial sense that life is miracle and magic."

e. merrill root

I wanted to share this gem of a quote, tucked in my order of beautiful play silks from Beneath the Rowan Tree.

As part of our magic, I wrapped tiny hand-made treasures in the beautifully dyed play silks for my daughters and nieces. The girls were enthralled with their beautiful gifts. It is a wonderful tip for the next time you are wrapping or preparing an Easter basket. The wrapper or "grass" becomes an additional beautiful gift to be enjoyed for years.

Play silks by Birch Leaf Designs

Our miracle... I am home after six weeks of successful medical treatment and we're enjoying every minute of this wonderful season.

Wishing you a holiday filled with miracle and magic!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Waldorf Toys and the the free play fun over the holidays...

I love to see my children use their beautiful imagination while playing with free play toys and games. I enjoy watching the brilliant process of free-thought and spark cross their faces as they learn to think and be creative.
I want my children to be active in their play!
I want my children to learn through play.
I want to feel confidant that they are happy and engaged.

I also love to give these type of toys to other children and introduce the idea of simple and creative toys to others. I find that parents are very receptive to toys that promote independent thought and NO batteries. Give the gift of exploration and creativity this year!

Here are my top five Waldorf Holiday toys to give over the holidays and for birthdays:

Waldorf Dolls: ( simply beautiful and fosters creative play)
Found Here.

Play silks (Gorgeous!Anything! A Cape! A river! A tent! Clothing!)
Found Here.

Waldorf Wood figures (thoughtful and free play fun! Make up stories! Dream!)
Found Here.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Mini Monday: SnugleHerd!

Meet Beth, the creative mind behind the snuggliest herd of animals ever!

The Snuggle Herd was founded by me, Beth Hempton, & my husband, Patrick, in the summer of 2008. I love painting, drawing, collage-making & sewing. I'm developing a range of products that will allow me to use all of these techniques - I can't settle on just one art form!

I have worked as a graphic designer and as a high school art teacher and enjoyed many aspects of both positions. However, having my own creative business that allows me to draw on all of my skills and interests, and to follow my artistic whims, is the ultimate dream! I am lucky enough to be living this dream right now - shepherding The Snuggle Herd is my full-time job.

Patrick is a web developer, able to turn my design ideas from a layout into a completed, fully-functional website. Check out The Snuggle Herd's website at It will soon have a lot of fun extras that we can't contain on the Etsy site!

Your Mini Monday correspondent...


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Advent Spiral

The "Advent Spiral" or "Spiral of Light" as it is sometimes called is a thing to behold. It marks the lengthening of days and the journey we will all take into the darkness and quiet of winter. It reminds us to take our inner light with us on this journey through the long cold months and longest days of our year and to have a reverence for it.
The apple lanterns have been carved and are ready, the star shaped sugar cookies are warming in the oven, the pine boughs have been cut and layed just so, families gather in a darkened room on a cold December afternoon near to the Winter Solstice.
And so it begins. One at a time, the children walk along the spiral path of boughs leading to one large lit candle. Each holds an unlit candle, even the smallest hands are capable and ready! In the middle of the spiral the children light their candles and then retrace their steps out of the spiral, leaving their lit candle next to the last child's. The room is hushed, sometimes there is faint harp music - light and airy.
As each child passes through the spiral something amazing starts to happen -the room brightens!
After all the children have made there way there is often singing and snacks of cookies and warm apple cider.
The hearts and souls of all who attended are warmed and the children go away with a sense of the light &warmth they have built candle by candle.
The advent spiral can also be done in your own home to prepare the family for winter and bring the cheer to your very own house!
FaerieWaldorf has a wonderful guide for sale in her etsy shop all about preparing and participating in the Advent Spiral!
Soltice Sun King pictured above from PaintingPixie's etsy shop.
Needle felted apple's by CozyCottageCreations
Wooden Spiral by DragonsandMermaids

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday treasuries

Here are some sweet treasuries curated by a few of our talented members, oritdotandolls, naturalstar, and winsomehollow. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mini Monday: oritdotandolls

Meet Orit of oritdotandolls who works magic with wool and makes beautiful waldorf toys!
From Orit's Profile:
"I am a Waldorf handwork teacher, dolls artist and art therapist. I teach and create with soft natural materials in methods of sewing, knitting needle felting,weaving, wet felting and wool painting.
From time to time I create with harder materials as leather and stone.
I used to teach in Waldorf schools and in seminar for training Waldorf teachers, lately I open a private school and I am working with young teachers, children, mothers and grandmothers.
As a teacher I believe I have to be the example of how to create so I practice every single item I teach to create.
In this way teaching and creating handworks and arts in the light of Waldorf education are my inner development and my occupation too."


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Unintended Consequences

Years ago, my daughter was impacted by the lead paint recall in children's toys. A tremendous number of children's toys, including the Dora and Diego lines were part of the massive recall and we were caught in a dilemma. Our daughter's favorite Diego Talking Rescue Center had been purchased 5 months before the recall. Dora's Talking House, a year earlier. Had those toys been checked for lead, as well?

I decided to be proactive and purchase a lead test kit. I was startled to discover that the test kits were single use kits. We had countless pieces to test at considerable cost. Her beloved house and rescue center still sit in the basement, unused and undonated because of their questionable safety.

The Holy Family by Beneath the Rowan Tree

The next Christmas I was more careful. Our family adores toys that foster creativity, inspire imagination and love. In addition to my own creations, I placed orders at Magic Cabin and Chinaberry and my children adored their new toys. Last Christmas, I was introduced to Etsy and this year, to NaturalKids. What a joy it has been to share ideas and creations with like-minded artists.

Walker, a Sweet Waldorf Inspired Doll from germandolls

I welcome the spirit of the CPSIA's attempt to ensure toy safety, but serious concern about costly safety testing driving small toy makers from business is legitimate and surely an unexpected consequence of the CPSIA. Please read the excellent Open Letter in Wednesday's The Storque. I share The Storque's concern that we will be left with few choices for our children, should this legislation stand as written.

Billy, the Flying Bicycle Guy by flyingzoo

Earlier this year, a buyer thanked me for offering treasures that fostered creativity and imagination, items difficult to find in the large chain stores. I have the same warm feeling about our NaturalKids team and NaturalKids Store. Imagine a world where our toy choices are seriously limited. Please contact your legislators. Together, we can make a difference and preserve what we love about Etsy and NaturalKids. Wishing you a wonderful holidays filled with priceless treasures of the season.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Celebrating Santa Lucia Day

Lo, on our theshold there,
White-clad, lights in her hair.
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

I must make an upfront disclaimer--I am not Scandanavian, never celebrated Santa Lucia Day as a child, and have no fond memories or connections to this tradition. But the year Mara was turning three, I was captured by this beautiful tradition, and we have celebrated Lucy ever since.

There are many versions of Lucy's story, but the one that resonnates with me is one that I created for my homeschool group some years ago. 

In our story, a small village on the Swedish coast huddled cold and hungry in the middle of winter. Food was quickly running out, as there had been a bad harvest that year. All of the villagers gathered and shared what they had, but even that was running low. The people despaired--would they have enough food to last until springtime? The days grew darker and darker until one night, it seemed as if the sun would never come back at all. The wise women in the village gathered and sent their prayers to Freya, the Scandanavian goddess of hearth, sun and war, that the sun would return and food would be found. As the village prayed through the longest night of the year, watchers on the shore saw a light appear in the water. What could the glowing on the water be? No one knew. The villagers lit a fire on the shore so that they could see. The light in the water grew brighter and brighter, until they could see that it was a woman with a crown of candles on her head, standing in the prow of a boat that was heading toward the shore. The villagers called out to the boat, and it landed on their shore, full of Italian sailors carrying a boat load of food. "What happened to the woman in the boat?" the villagers asked? The sialors had no idea what the villagers were talking about--but upon hearing the description of the woman, they knew that the villagers had seen their saint, Santa Lucia. The sailors unloaded food from the boat, and the village celebrated, knowing that they would survive the winter.

This week, we will make our Lussekatter, the saffron buns that Lucy carries. The cookies look like eyes (the Italian saint tore out her own eyes--gotta love the lives of saints!), but we like the idea that they are a reflection of Freya's cats that pull her chariot across the sky. Here's our recipe for Lucy's Cats, gleaned from a long-forgotten internet source years and years ago:

1 packet yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
saffron threads (or powdered saffron, about 1/4 tsp.)
4 cups (about 400 grams) all purpose flour
beaten egg (for brushing)
raisins or dried cranberries or currants

Dissolve yeast in warm water (I like to add a bit of honey, too, to make the yeast grow more quickly). Melt the butter, stir in milk, and then add this mixture to the yeast. Beat in the sugar, salt, egg, and saffron, blending until smooth. Add in the flour a cup at a time, and work until smooth. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Turn the dough out and knead. Pinch off small pieces of dough and twist into an "S" shape and place on baking sheet (I like to use a stone). Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 20 minutes in a warm kitchen. reheat oven to 425 degrees. Add raisins in the curves of the "S" and brush with beaten egg. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 2 dozen of Lucy's Cats.

On Saturday morning, Mara will awaken before us all, come down and make the coffee, load a tray with cats, and bring it to Dave and I in bed. She has a garland, but we don't light the candles on her head--just a bit tricky getting up the stairs! But we will light the garland as it sits on the table, and we'll all sing Santa Lucia:

Nightly, go heavy hearts
Round farm and steading
On earth, where sun departs,
shadows are spreading.
Then on our darkest night,
Comes with her shining light
Sankta Lucia! Sankta Lucia!
Then on our darkest night,
Comes with her shining light
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia.

Night-darkling, huge and still.
Hark, something's stirring!
In all our silent rooms,
Wingbeats are whisp'ring!
Stands on our threshold there,
White clad, lights in her hair,
Sankta Lucia! Sankta Lucia!
Stands on our threshold there,
White clad, lights in her hair,
Sankta Lucia! Sankta Lucia!

"Darkness shall fly away
Through earthly portals!"
She brings such wonderful
words to us mortals!
"Daylight, again renewed,
will rise, all rosy-hued!"
Sankta Lucia! Sankta Lucia!
"Daylight, again renewed,
will rise, all rosy-hued!"
Sankta Lucia! Sankta Lucia!

Image credits:
Needlefelted Saint Lucia by Haddy2Dogs
Santa Lucia stuffed doll by FaerieRebecca

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday Treasuries

Welcome to the December 9 edition of Tuesday Treasuries! Enjoy these lovely collections :)

First, Nishale wants to be surrounded with softness.

Orit is all about softness, too, reminding us to use our gentle hands.

And finishing with the soft theme, Birdie feels winter soft upon her skin.

Happy clicking! Until next Tuesday!


Monday, December 8, 2008

Mini Monday : Mosey

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

mosey handmade is inspired by the fabrics from her childhood, calico's
and tiny prints, hand dyed felt. mosey loves working with recycled
materials. dyeing them, cutting them up and fashioning them into new
lovelies. after graduating from the museum school in boston, mosey
dusted off the old sewing machine and got right down to work.
see also: a love of things found in her tiny garden, the ocean or the
forest nearby. natural materials have become a mosey favorite and
she cannot seem to get enough of wool, linen, and cotton.
mosey handmade has been felting recycled sweaters in her washing
machine all fall and winter- and there is nothing like the hum of the
wash and the smell of lavender soap to get one sewing!
all mosey items are handmade in a wee little studio with a view of the
garden and the smell of the ocean.

Your new mini Monday correspondent


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Congrats to Woodmouse!

Congratulations to Amber, aka Woodmouse! For those who don't know, Amber founded the team in January 2008, and does all sorts of promoting for the NattyKids team! Congrats on your moment in the sun. Make sure to head over to the Storque article and comment :)

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Interview with DoSiDough

Today's interview is with Cynthia of DoSiDough who makes the coolest colored chalks and play time doughs I've ever seen. Check out her natural and safe alternatives to the national brands!

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

I am in sunny Phoenix, AZ. As I write this, I am feeling a little warm in short sleeves. We usually have Thanksgiving outside. I was born into arts and crafts. My maternal grandmother was an accomplished oil painter. My paternal grandmother did ceramics. My paternal grandfather painted as well. My mother ( worked in an art gallery while pregnant with me. I think somehow art got into my umbilical cord. She currently is part-owner of picture framing, gallery and art supply stores in Prescott, AZ (of which I managed the art store for several years). My mother also crafted all the time. She spent hours a day making and creating stuff. She can sew anything, and has had magazines feature her beautiful work. She sewed my wedding gown! So, that's how I got started in the arts and crafts: I was born.

What is the main thing you make and sell in your store? What else do you make and/or sell?
The main thing I sell is play dough. Sidewalk chalk and watercolor paints are the only other things currently, but keep an eye out for additional art supplies in the future. Other than that, I've made a couple of babies (but I had a little help in the beginning).

Who if anyone has been instrumental in helping you hone your craft?
My husband puts up with an awful lot of DoSiDough stuff. I have hundreds of tins, stacks of chalk and watercolors, boxes of play dough, papers, supplies and miscellaneous boxes of glitter and glue and labels! Other than him, I must give credit to Stacey of for forcing me to sign up on Etsy.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Inspiration for my store is largely based on color. I peruse the color charts and start envisioning mashing colors together and swirling stuff and adding glitter. It all starts with color. Aside from color, it's motivating to provide safer art/creative products for the hands of children whose bodies are more vulnerable to environmental toxins. My inspiration for life? We'll save that for another time.

What are your favorite materials?
It would be a lie to say play dough is a favorite material of mine. I like to attempt sewing, but I'm terrible at it. I like to cook and bake, so maybe food is my favorite material...?

What advice would you give other Etsy sellers and those interested in opening up a shop?
My advice to potential/new sellers: List often, take phenomenal photos, and at least spend a few minutes a day exploring the other features of Etsy (forums, chat, treasuries, Storque, pounce, gift guides, etc.). Also, it just makes sense to be aware of what (for lack of a better word) "competition" you have. On Etsy, it's not about competing, but I think a basic knowledge of other similar products on the site is beneficial.

What advice would you give to beginners in your main craft?
Invest in good sneakers for standing in, buy a medium sized spoonula (spoon+spatula), wear a mask when mixing up the chalk and have fun!

What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you?
I'm in a congo on Hyena Cart:
I'm also somewhere on Dawanda, but apparently play dough isn't a big deal there.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Get organized!

During Christmas most online sellers experience a high volume of sales. But even if you don't have many sales yet - (don't be sad they will come in time!) - it is crucial to stay organized when you run an online business. So today I want to give a little pep talk on how to keep your ducks in a row. Nothing makes a customer more happy than receiving their order in a speedy fashion. Of course, you want to make sure that while sending things fast you don't send the wrong item to the wrong person.

My first big piece of advice is:
1.Write yourself a note for every order that comes in!
I have a pad of sticky notes on my desk next to the computer. For each order I get I make a note as I receive it. On that note I write the following information:
the name of the buyer - his or her etsy ID,
the item(s) they ordered,
the date of purchase.
the shipping address they give on etsy

I stick these notes on the window behind my sewing machine. Since I work on a "first-come-first-serve basis" I arrange the orders by date they were received on. As I work on the orders and ship the items I take the sticky notes off the window and rearrange them! It really works well!
If it is a bigger custom order I use a big sheet of paper to write every detail down!
2.When I get ready to wrap and ship items I have noticed that it is important to attach the name to each item you wrap up! Nothing more annoying than having a nicely wrapped gift sitting on your table and not knowing who it needs to go to. Or even worse having it all boxed up and taped without the address on the box...That's a real time waster! I like to wrap doll clothes in tissue paper, use organic ruffia for ribbon, and tie a "thank you" note and Moo card with ribbon to it. If the note is personalized - has the name of the buyer - it gives it a nice personal touch while at the same time helping you to identify the wrapped item =).
3. Getting it ready for shipping: Next I take my sticky note with the address, stick it on my outer packaging, cross reference the etsy address with the one given on paypal. Voila! If it all matches I can ship the item out. If not, rats! Now I have to convo the buyer and confirm what address it needs to go to.
4. I take all big orders, doll orders , and international shipments to the Post Office in person. Smaller envelopes I usually hand over to my trusty mail carrier when she delivers my mail.

I think this system of mine works really well. But please feel free to comment and add some tips to my list!

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday Treasuries

Oh my, have our treasury makers been busy little elves this weekend! Enjoy these terrific treasuries from the NaturalKids Team!

Red seems to be the theme of the day, starting with this Natural reds treasury from Vilt ala Kim.

Continuing in the red vein, Orit has quite the collection in her treasury, Red, and...

Chimera has noticed all of the business of the season and wonders, What have those elves been up to?

And finally, Birdie decides to perk up all of our grey skies with and offers us Sunshine on a cloudy day.

Happy clicking! Until next Tuesday!


Monday, December 1, 2008

Mini Monday: ViltalaKim

Meet Kim, one of the newer team members here at the NaturalKids Team. Kim works with felt (or vilt if you're in the Netherlands) and makes lovely creations for the home.

When I was lillte I was always being crafty with origami, filigraan, knitting etc. Later I became creative with flowers and garding. After giving birth to two lovely daughters I became a floristteacher and I have a fulltime job doing that.

My passion now is making felt by the wet-felt technique. I sometimes use the felting needles. Thanks to my friend who moved to Sweden and introduced felting to me. A fine colleque helped me with different feltingtechniques. Felting is so much fun to do! It gives me new energy in this world where everything has to be done fast. Felting is physical hard work and can take a while before it's finished. Never the less Is felting something magic every time. Colors somehow mix together and become new colors.

Your Mini Monday correspondent...