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Natural Kids

Natural Kids: January 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

CPSIA Blog-in

As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.

The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.

How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students:
Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader:
Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all.
Article from the American Library Association

To the Lover of All Things Handmade:
Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist:
Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper:
Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur:
Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector:
Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.”

To the American Economy:
Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy:
Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.

If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes.

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law.

Did you know?


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Have info from suppliers?

Help us make a one-stop database of information from natural suppliers. Know the answers to "Is your wool tested?" or "Does your doll skin include lead?" Add them to our database so we can all be informed!

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Mini Monday : BuzzHandmade

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

My name is Janina and I am a stay at home mom of 2 beautiful little girls. We love to spend our time creating things and playing.
We try to use natural products as much as we can in our daily living, and we have learned to make many of them, the ones that we love, we would like to share with you here. All of our items contain bee products, and the beeswax is locally sourced from a friend of mine that keeps bees and lives just down the road.
If you are new to the magic of bees or are interested in finding out why I think these products are so amazing, shoot me a convo or google any of my ingredients for more information.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

January meeting ~ in February!


Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Interview with Butterfly Design

1.Tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when did you get started with arts and crafts?
I am a middle school librarian from Boston MA. I started knitting scarves during grad school to help me concentrate during lectures. I found that when my hands were busy I could listen better. But soon my friends got sick of me giving them as gifts, and then when they started to get married, well I had an entire new generation to knit for.

2.What is the main thing you make and sell in your shop? What else do you make or sell?
I mostly sell cotton and organic cotton handknit baby hats. I also sell handknit baby sweaters.

3.Where do you get your inspiration?
I love bright fun colors, and as a children's librarian I get a lot of inspiration from picture book art, so I enjoy selling hat and books sets.

4.What are your favorite materials?
The organic cotton. It took a while, but I found a really snuggly-soft brand, and I like knowing that I am doing something good for the environment as I make a product.

5.What advice would you give other Etsy sellers and those interested in opening up a shop?
Take the time to do it right. Make a banner, list your location, take good pictures in good light, and be accurate in your descriptions. Prompt responses and attention to your customer goes a long way. There is a debate as to relist every day or several times a day, I just relist as things are going to expire, but I have enough options in my shop to do so. I find having at least a couple of pages of options is preferable to sear
ching. And use your tags wisely, what best describes your item? I am a little biased, as I do keyword searching all day, and teach it to students, but I try to think of accurate keywords to describe my hats as someone would search them.

6.What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you?
My Etsy shop address is and I am known as butterflydesign.
I also have the domain name that links right to Etsy. I have listings at other places, but no real sales, not like on Etsy.
My blog is at

7.How did you come up with the name of your shop? What does it mean?
My grandmother calls me her "Little Butterfly" so I have alwa
ys loved them. It just seemed right to have the word Butterfly in the name of my shop.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The German Dollmaker' s Reflections On Inauguration Day

I don't know about you. But I think if you were not watching the inauguration ceremony in Washington DC or glued to a TV set like the rest of the world yesterday you must have had a pretty good reason...
I sat at home. Alone. Curled up in front of our TV. A cup of coffee clutched in my hand.

I don't think I ever told any of you that I actually have a Master's Degree from the Free University in Berlin. Before I moved to the US I studied at the John F. Kennedy Institute in Berlin. The study of history has always been one of my favorites. That's why I chose to write my thesis on US history. The title of my project was: From Chattel to Customer: African Americans in Advertising. It covered a huge period of time starting with early colonial ads in which Slave owners offered rewards for the return of run-away slaves, and then went all the way to ads in which African Americans were courted as customers after the Civil Rights movement had made its impact on US society. Truly fascinating read if you ever have time...

My thesis is sitting somewhere on one of the many bookshelves in our house, probably all covered in dust. I can't even find it. But then. Who cares? It is all history now!

So what of it now? President Obama's speech was very little about that. It was about the new challenges the US and all of us living on this planet face. He barely touched the subject of racism. The fact that he is president now has laid the world's doubts to rest. In America anyone can become what he wants to be. Everyone's dream can come true!

To me the most amazing thing about his speech was how he found a way to address everybody and be all inclusive. He talks about " The Makers of Things" in America who toil in obscurity. Hey, that is us! Doll makers and artists on Etsy!
He talks about the immigrants who crossed dangerous waters leaving family, friends, everything behind. Arriving with nothing but a suitcase. Hey, that is me too! I am the modern day immigrant. I came with one suitcase of clothes. I had to make some hard choices. I shipped my favorite books only!
So what does this speech mean to me?
It is all about hard work and hope! Mr. Obama tells us that we must work hard to make our dreams come true. I feel like I have been doing that. I have worked to so hard to get my little business off the ground. But now it is threatened by a crazy law that did not take into account people like us, the Natural Kids team.

So my plea is to you, Mr President, to hear our voices! The voices of the people, crafters, stay-at-home mothers, small business owners to amend this law. So we can get our due measure of happiness which we have been working so hard for. We don't want hand-outs from the government. All we want is the right to continue doing our job: Which is creating wonderful children's items out of natural fibers and recycled, or up cycled materials. There must be a place for us in this new, better, greener world - under your reign.

Oh, and here is a picture of Haddy's wonderful creation. I love that gnome in the orange jumpsuit! Please, help us free the gnome from his shackles so we all can say:

Free at last! Free at last! Free at last! from this mindless horrible law!

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Tuesday Treasuries

Our treasury makers were busy this week! Here are some lovely treasury creations....

winsomehollow brings us some sweet items with magic to share.

mamaroots urges us to Help Save Handmade Toys from the CPSIA

and Haddy2Dogs further brings the point home with her plea to save the the world and Free Norm the Gnome!

brought to you by Lynne from Cozy Cottage Creations


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Friday Interview with Cozy Cottage Creations

Today we're going to meet Lynne of cozycottagecreations , or as we call her Cozy! And "cozy" perfectly describes her lovely felted wool creations...along with warm, delightful, and fun! See for yourself...

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

My name is Lynne and I'm a stay-at-home Mommy to two little girls, ages almost-8 and almost-6. I have always gravitated towards anything that involves creating something new. I love making stuff! Like a lot of people here on Etsy and on the team, it was my kids who led me toward doing what I'm doing now. My business really began when my oldest was 3 and I enrolled in the parent-tot program at a nearby Waldorf School. A few weeks into the session the teacher passed out yarn and knitting needles to all of the mothers. She told us that with our knitting, we would be doing our work while our children did their work, which was to play. I fell in love with Waldorf Education right then and there. I had learned to knit at some point in my childhood and I was so thrilled to be picking it up again. When I finished my knitting project - a little kitty cat - I couldn't wait to make other. Pretty soon I had two families of four cats (which, five years later, my girls still play with) and was looking for what else I could make. It didn't take long to realize I wanted to create a business making things for children.

What is the main thing you make and sell in your store? What else do you make and/or sell?
I make items for children and their families out of wool. All of my items are felted using various techniques. My knitting led me to try felting what I had knit. That inspired me to embellish my items with needle felted designs. From there I began making needle-felted sculptured pieces. And eventually I delved into the exciting process of wet felting. Basically it's been one big experiment followed by another big experiment. I have found that the more I explore what wool can do, the more there is to explore! I like to try new techniques and create products I think a naturally-minded family would want for their home and for their children.

Who if anyone has been instrumental in helping you hone your craft?
No one person in particular. I feel very inspired by the work of my fellow teammates. Being on the NaturalKids Team makes me always want to do my best work.
Also, I seem to be following in my grandmother's (my mother's mother) footsteps. She was incredibly creative and was always making something. One of the first times I had my mother to my house after I had felted something, I apologized for the wet-wool smell. She said, "Oh, I don't mind it - it reminds me of when my mother used to make hooked rugs out of boiled wool". I never knew my grandmother had done that.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Mainly from nature, and also from the desire to create a home filled with natural goodness. I remember as a child going to my grandparents (my father's parents) house. My father would refer to this house as "the museum" because it was filled with treasures no one was allowed to touch. As much as I loved my grandparents, I'm wanting to give my kids more of a "hands on" childhood. And I feel it's important to honor and nurture their spirits with products that are from or reflect the natural world.

What are your favorite materials?
Wool - I'm obsessed with it. To me it's a magical material. It can transform into anything you want. It's so important to me for my girls to know that from this pile of wool, anything can arise as long as you have the vision and patience to bring it to life.

What advice would you give other Etsy sellers and those interested in opening up a shop?
Well, basically to go for it. When I first started I had no idea where it would lead me. I had no idea if I'd have any sales. Now I have a bona fide business and a wonderful camaraderie with like-minded artisans. The experience has been ten-fold what I was looking for. And with that in mind, it does take work. You get out as much as you put in. You can't expect to open up a shop and be carried along by Etsy. It's very true here that the more you contribute, the more you get back.

What advice would you give to beginners in your main craft?
Experiment with your materials as much as you can. If you have something in mind you'd like to make, you'll get there if you allow yourself some mistakes and to learn from them.

What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you? You can find me here on Etsy! Thanks for reading my interview!

And thank you Cozy!
Cynthia/ fairiesnest

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Stoking the Creative Fires

Wanted to share a little bit on how I keep making stuff fun!
I happened upon a radio program the other day the other day where a Native Canadian was speaking about what winter means to her and her people. The snow blankets the land to put it into a deep sleep to help it rejuvenate for the next year. Her people spend long days in close quarters with one another, telling stories, preparing food, cleaning, and resting. Sounds like a plan.
I plan on using a typically slow time and cold weather to it's full advantage. This past winter season was the first for me to participate in craft shows and having no idea what to expect I pushed my little production line (me) on full tilt. I didn't have any time to explore other ideas that would pop up while I was busy sewing 20 little hats, 40 legs, 34 totes... I have always been a painter and since babies, painting has not come easy for me but thankfully, I have always been in the practice of keeping up a sketch book to make sure I jot or draw these ideas to pull from when the timing is right. (So many people tell me they can't draw so they don't keep a sketch book but remember, your sketch book is for you, as long as you can tell what it is, great :)
Tidy up
Before I can get down to starting new projects I always need to totally pull apart and organize my work space. Depending on how much space you have, this can take awhile but oh how satisfying to see all that fabric neatly folded up and organized into wonderful colourful piles. It's also nice to know where that vintage polka dot yellow ribbon has been hiding out. My brain appreciates a clean slate and work surface so I can take stock on what I may need for the next project.
Do you have something on your mind that you've been dying to work on? Do you keep a sketch book or journal with different ideas? Not to stress if you don't, there are so many places to look for inspiration. (I'd also highly recommend getting that sketch book/journal if you don't have one already :)

Surf the web with no agenda, follow those links from your favorite blog, get lost on flickr... I usually like to give myself a time limet as it can be overwhelming sometimes. Keeping track and bookmarking my web inspiration is also made easy with There are also lots of leads to follow there as well.
Get out and go shopping but leave the money and any expectations of buying anything at home. Do bring a camera to capture anything that may inspire. It's fun to see what is out there and I can find inspiration in a variety of stores from ceramic tile shops to high end furniture boutiques.
Maybe your over thinking it, you could try renting a movie from your childhood that holds special meaning. My brothers, sisiters and I watched "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" when we were kids close to a million times and every once in awhile I love to watch it and lose myself in the costumes, the songs, that crazy log dance! There are so many small details in movies or books or poetry that could start an avalanche of ideas.
Hit the library. We have a fantastic resource library in Toronto and I love flipping thru microfilms of old magazines. Not to mention all those art books with the wonderful full colour pictures. (renaissance lives!)
Get to it
Once your revved and ready to go, most importantly, don't be afraid of making mistakes. Just because you spent 4 hours on making a sleeve for an outfit and it looks awful is not a cause to be hard on yourself. Everything is a learning process and that's what makes it so fun. (it's fun remember!)
Come spring I know I'll be needing to devote more time to my business. I feel it's important to remember to fill your creative cup and not forget about tending to it. I make sure to clear a special time every week for a few hours devoted to just that. Let my busy fingers do as they may. Learn to crochet? Potato printing some dish towels? Sure, why not. Usually I have 3 little helpers creating along with me and its challenging to adapt whatever project I'm working on for the munchkins but well worth it when I see there little faces concentrating on towering cotton balls.
Where do you seek inspiration?
How do you keep creating fun and fresh?

May the creative muses always continue to inspire!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday Treasuries

Enjoy these treasuries created by our NaturalKids Team members!

First, Orit of Orit Dotan Dolls brings us some of her favorite finds from both the NaturalKids and Nfest (Needle Felting) Teams.

Next, Lori from BeneathTheRowanTree invites us to "toy with her" by highlighting some of the wonderful handmade toys which will be affected by the upcoming CPSIA law going into effect on February 10th.

Wishing a Happy Tuesday to All!
Blessings, Lynne from Cozy Cottage Creations


Monday, January 12, 2009

Mini Monday : Natural Inspirations

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

What is the difference in *my Amber necklaces*?

I use natural harvested Amber that has not been heated, pressed nor reconstituted. Many producers of Amber and Baltic Amber teething necklaces are using pressed Amber. This reduces the healing properties of the Amber. My Amber is weighty, natural and stunning. You will find "debris" in almost every piece of Amber, which gives Amber its character and charm.

Wishing you a great week!

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Interview with BurryBabies

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

I actually have been knitting and crocheting since I was 4 years old. My mother taught me and she had learned from my grandmother, so I really come from a long line of knitters and crocheters. My mother was a very good knitter but until late in life, she followed patterns. I am constitutionally unable to follow patterns. I remember as a child making knitted squares, each with a different stitch, for a supposedly future blanket for my doll. The blanket never got finished for two reasons:
1) I spent a lot of time examining each stitch pattern to see how it developed. This was am
azing to me since I knew that there were basically only two stitches used - knit & purl. My mother would scold me saying, how will you ever finish this if you keep on staring at it instead of knitting? Of course, this close examination of stitches and patterns is how I became a knitwear designer.
2) I spent considerable time purposely dropping stitches so that I could work out a way to pick them up, even over several rows. Naturally, this drove my mother crazy! However, learning to reconstruct and remedy our mistakes is what makes for gre
at knitters, so I just continued dropping and picking up until I had mastered it. Such an irritating child!

I learned to crochet after I learned to knit, but in the same year. Many hours of my childhood were spent designing and crocheting clothing for 10 inch plastic dolls that could be bought inexpensively in the 5 & 10 store (Woolworths) - anyone else remember those wonderful stores? I made my costumes for the dolls in styles from the fairy tales I loved, so they tended to be formal fitted dresses with pantaloons underneath crocheted in medium fine threads.
Later, I started to crochet edgings for linen hand
kerchiefs. These edgings were done in the very finest cotton crochet thread and each one was different. My mother saved those, and I still use them today for formal occasions where I might start tearing up - weddings, classical music concerts, operas, etc.
I am also a self-taught weaver who no longer weaves because of the strain on my back. Weaving was my passion for many years and taught me a lot about fibers and the interaction of colors and textures. I eventually became Vice-
President of the New York Guild of Handweavers. I miss weaving all the time, but returning to my first loves of knitting and crocheting has helped to make up for it.

2.What is the main thing you make and sell in your shop? What else do you make or sell?

In my BurryBabies store I, of course, make baby clothing and accessories. For some reason, my Custom Made Newborn Pixie Hats and my Custom Made Tasseled Baby Hats are my biggest sellers. Mothers love them, but most of my customers seem to be baby photographers. I have to say that some of these photographers have become great friends of mine online and I truly wish we could meet in real life. Many of these photographers have sent me pictures to use in my advertisements and for that I am eternally grateful. These baby hats have been featured in many blogs.
My true joy in life, however, is designing sweaters and dresses for new babies. There's such a creative challenge in making pretty things that will be both comfortable for babies and pleasing for the adults who see them. Most recently I was thrilled to have my Bumble Bee Baby Sweater Set feat
ured on - a great site for parents.

3.Where do you get your inspiration?

Babies themselves are my biggest inspiration at BurryBabies. What is there in life sweeter than a new baby? I had 3 of my own and was a stay-at-home-mother for many years before I resumed my professional work outside the house.
For both my baby clothing and my adult knitwear, I also derive enormous inspiration from color and texture. Yarn stores and online yarn shops send me into a state of ecstasy - I'm not exaggerating. Unfortunately, New York City where I live has lost it's wonderful yarn discounters. There used to be many stores where yarn could be bought by the cone at a fraction of the normal price. These stores no longer exist and I miss them enormously. Similarly, many of the wonderful Southern cotton merc
hants have gone out of business.

4.What are your favorite materials?

I am devoted to natural yarns and only infrequently will use a novelty yarn as a trim. My very favorite yarn is Merino wool; it has all the softness and loft of cashmere, but the price is a bit lower, it's a stronger yarn, and it pills much less than cashmere which is especially important for baby wear that I intend to be used by many babies and passed on as family heirlooms. I also adore fine hand-dyed and handspun wools, alpaca for its warmth and softness, and high-quality cotton yarns.
I would like to take the opportunity of this interview to say that I find acrylics to b
e actually immoral. They are made from petro-chemicals which are, of course, what the gas you put in your car is. With the worldwide shortage of petroleum and the ensuing international conflicts over it, I find it hard to justify using a product like that. Also, acrylics, like all plastics, remain in the environment forever, causing tremendous pollution and environmental problems. In addition, acrylics really aren't warm, they make your skin feel clammy, they don't wick moisture, and they're highly flammable. If you hold a piece of wool over the kitchen sink and put a match to the end, the flame will quickly go out and a soft ash will form that easily disintegrates. On the other hand, if you do the same thing with a piece of acrylic yarn, the flame will last for a long time (until you blow it out), and a hard plastic bead will form. I don't like to wear acrylics myself and I certainly wouldn't put them on babies.

Baby clothes are easy to wash by hand, and there are machine washable wools too. High quality wool almost never causes an allergic reaction. If your baby happens to be one of those rare individuals, please use cottons and avoid acrylics.

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

Just do it! There's really nothing much to lose and a lot to gain. Your store can be large or small, you can specialize in just a few things, or you can make only one-of-a-kind items.
The one warning I have for new sellers is to be sure to design your own products. Sellers who use other artist's ideas are not getting the pleasure they could from having a shop. After all, this is not only about making money, though that's nice; it's really about the enjoyment of creating something that's your own original design and interacting with customers to refine that design to meet their needs. I have al
ways kept the design process and my craftsmanship uppermost in my Etsy shop, on my websites, and in all other places that I sell my work.

6.What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you?

* My baby knitwear and crochet shop on Etsy is
* You can also see my custom work at my website
* My adult knitwear and crochet shop on Etsy is
* I have had a website for years where I sell clothing and knitting kits, and also offer free advice and tutorials
* I have just started a shop at Artfire a and will soon be opening
* In addition, I have a blog (much neglected because of time constraints) where I try to take readers inside the mind of a knitwear designer. The blog has the unfortunate but unavoidable name You'll get to know me a lot better if you read it.

* I am on Twitter as and as
Whew! Can you see why I have trouble keeping up with my blog?

I would love for you to take a peek at all of these sites and let me know what you think. I'm always open to suggestions and questions.

7.How did you come up with the name of your shop? What does it mean?

Well, my name is Veena Burry, so the shop is BurryBabies. At one point when my middle son helped me get my BurryBabies website up and running, both he and my daughter had me make them sweaters that said "I'm a BurryBaby" on the front and "" on the back. I wonder if they still wear them? My oldest son, being a college professor, never did ask for one of those sweaters which made a lot of sense to me. It surely would look odd to his students!
As far as my adult website and other shops, the name KnittingGuru just came to me because my initial goal was to mentor new knitters and help them with their questions. I established an A
sk the Guru section and included many knitting tips to aid readers. My most popular essays were the two I wrote on Knitting Ergonomics and Knitting Exercises, and also a tutorial called "Bigger Better Bobbles" which for some reason was on page 1 in Google for a long time.

Finally, I am proud to say that my knitted and crocheted jewelry wa
s featured in two books in 2008 a Jewelry With a Hook (Lark Books) and 1000 Jewelry Inspirations.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tuesday Treasury are back!

After a bit of a Holiday Break, I'm here to bring you our team's Treasuries on Tuesdays! I'm looking forward to bringing you this feature every week!

Here's some All Natural sweetness from NaturalStar:

Keep those treasuries coming and see you next week!
Blessings to you and yours,
Lynne of Cozy Cottage Creations


Thursday, January 1, 2009

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