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Natural Kids

Natural Kids: April 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Make toys for your kids!

Have you been to a big toy chain store lately? You might be surprised by what you find, or rather by what you can’t find. I was astonished recently when I couldn’t find a baby toy that didn’t light up or make noise. Even simple stacking toys and teethers had batteries! I thought back to when I was a new parent and first started making toys-inspired more by necessity than creativity .  Having a baby immediately after buying our first house made for some lean years. We worried as most parents do, about getting everything our baby would need. Newborn babies really don't need much besides their parents attention and care, but they don't stay little for long.  

My son seemed to instantly become a toddler, his play acting becoming more complex and imaginative, often mimicking our actions in his play. I knew he needed toys and wished we could just run off to the store and get whatever he wanted. But our decision to have me stay home permanently as a full time mom made those kinds of expenses beyond our reach at that time. We improvised, often making things out of  cardboard boxes and whatever materials we had on hand. We made a toy stove out of cardboard and my son used my small saucepan and the toaster oven tray for his "cooking", while I cooked our real dinner. He washed dishes in a big bowl of soapy water while I washed dishes. We made a house out of a refrigerator box. It was purely out of necessity that I figured out ways to make toys, but I discovered that I loved to do it, and my son loved to help.  I cut up old clothes  to make (at first very badly sewn!) copies of the creatures my son drew, and characters from his favorite stories. My sewing skills were not very good then and I would have been embarrassed to show them to others, but my son ( and later my daughter)   was no judge of sewing skills and truly loved them. Where my skills left off his imagination took over. All the time we were making these things I was feeling badly that they were just imitations of what I thought my son really wanted. I couldn't get him the expensive toy kitchen or toy house I had seen in a catalog and I felt badly about that.

When my son developed an obsession for trains we would line up rocks on the path outside and pretend they were train cars. Of course he knew all the right noises to make!  For my son's second birthday we were able to buy him a nice big wooden train set. We were so excited to see his reaction, and thought for sure that he would play with it all day for days on end. He was very happy to see it and did play with it. But he soon wanted to go outside to play with his other trains. We were puzzled until we realized that he meant the rocks that we lined up together. Those rocks were really a train to him. Just as fun, or maybe even more fun than the new store bought set he had just received.
Something finally clicked in my head that day. I had been so conditioned to believe that every child should have that plastic rainbow colored set of stacking rings, an Elmo stuffed animal and whatever other toys were being advertised at the time. Our financial difficulties made it impossible for us to get those things, but it never really occurred to me that I shouldn't want to get those things, and that having them all was not really what was best for my son.

 I had been feeling badly about not being able to provide something for my son, when I was actually giving him something much much better. My son, who is now 15, remembers his cardboard house to this day as one of his favorite things ever. He could draw all over the walls and was a part of the creation of that house.  He remembers the stick villages we built in the back yard and the pipe cleaner people.  How lucky we were to have had the challenges we had, for they taught us great lessons. I  encourage all  parents to try making some toys with your children. They will not care if your stitches are uneven, or if a head is not glued on perfectly.  Why should the toy designers have all the fun of creating? Of course you don't have to make ALL of their toys. There are some amazingly talented toy makers on etsy who still know how to make toys that encourage imagination and don't require batteries. 

However, there is nothing like sewing up the finishing stitches of a doll while your daughter anxiously watches and waits, telling  you what color eyes she wants, or where to put a button. How magic you seem to them-conjuring creatures with your hands.  To encourage a lively imagination in your children  is a wonderful gift that will bless them for the rest of their lives. The time spent together creating is something they will never forget.

this post has been brought to you by Kerstin or chimera

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Interview

It's time for another Friday interview! This time it's with one of our new team leaders, Dannielle of the shop Princess Nimble Thimble . Dannielle is the head of the Membership committee and has a wonderful shop full of magical little people. So let's get to know her a bit better...

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when did you get started with arts and crafts?
I live in St. Louis, MO, with my husband and two children. We're a homeschooling family so my focus tends to be on my children. Creating dolls and toys is, for me, a very natural extension of this focus.

What is the main thing you make and sell in your store? What else do you make and/or sell?
For the past six months or so I've been pretty much making bendy dolls exclusively. I don't know if it's due to the current state of the economy or if they've just caught on but that's where the demand has been. Luckily I never seem to get bored with them.
I also make larger Waldorf-inspired dolls, nature table dolls, felt animals, and I'm working on preparing my felt animal patterns for sale in the near future.

Who if anyone has been instrumental in helping you hone your craft? I suppose I would have to say my husband because he always indulges my desire for more supplies and crafty books.

Where do you get your inspiration? Goodness, I find inspiration so many places. I love a good crafty book. They always get my creative juices flowing. New supplies inspire me, too.
I would have to say my best source of inspiration is my customers. I am sometimes asked to create things that are just outside my comfort zone as well as things that I had never thought to make. My customers have the best ideas!
What are your favorite materials?

I adore wool felt. Hands down it's my favorite material. And, of course, I love my DMC embroidery floss. They just go together and always provide me with endless inspiration.

What advice would you give other Etsy sellers and those interested in opening up a shop?
Goodness, I could go on and on. I'd start with, "Go for it!" for those interested in starting a shop. I suppose I'd end with, "Always put your heart into it, always be completely honest, and always provide excellent customer service.".

What advice would you give to beginners in your main craft?
This advice would really apply to any craft but, "Be patient." is what has served me well. Be patient while your reputation develops and people get to know you. Be patient while you grow in your craft.
If someone is a beginner at making dolls similar to those I make patience is definitely required. They definitely take their fair share of practice in the beginning.

What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you? My Etsy shop, Princess Nimble-Thimble, is found at Right now Etsy is my only venue though I hope to soon join my NaturalKids teammates at our HyenaCart shop,

Thanks so much for sharing Dannielle!!
The Fairies' Nest

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Welcome Wednesday - A Little Peek Part 2

Happy Earth Day everyone! There are some wonderful Earth Day sales going on today in many NaturalKids team members' shops You can find a complete list here.
We took a peek into the shops of 4 new members last week and today we're going to see 3 more. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy perusing these new shops as much as I have, they are full of wonderful, eco-friendly dolls and toys, perfect for celebrating Earth Day!
The Fairies Nest

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday Treasuries

Spring has arrived and our treasury makers have collected so many lovely spring items made by our Natural Kids Team members. Come have a look!

First, Viltalakim brings us some all-natural Happy Easter wishes

Oritdotandolls brings us to a Wonderland and sweet natural playthings.

And woolies gathers together more beautiful natural items.

These delicate spring beauties were collected together by Nishale .

Babus highlights for us some of the shops participating in the Natural Kids Earth Day Sale event which is happening tomorrow!

Thanks for looking!
brought to you by Lynne from Cozy Cottage Creations.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mini Monday: Prettydreamer

Meet another one of our newer members--Prettydreamer!

Do you know that part of you (perhaps that five year old or that eight year old child self) that managed to stay with you through all the years ... well to me, that is the inspiration of Prettydreamer - that open-eyed, eager, curious, precious little being.

Toymaking to me is a way of giving life to the cherished plaything. Kind of an honorable old profession that brought with it a great excitement as birthdays and holidays do for children. Somehow, I hold an image of far away days of workshops and kitchen tables in many close and distant lands where love and imagination crafted and shaped a wonderful plaything.

Now taking this a step further, to take a thought or idea (and all it's small nuances) and with hands, tools, materials, color and intuition to form something you can touch -especially something with its own life such as wood and fiber - wow!

For me, whether making a toy for a child (or the child in us) or something for all that just captures the heart, that is the desire of Prettydreamer!

Your Mini Monday correspondent...


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Friday Feature with Maple Shade Kids

Tell us about yourself and how you became an artist..

My name is Wanda Hirsch and I live in Derry, New Hampshire with my 4 business partners.
• My husband, who is my patient teacher, providing me with all the skills needed to use saws, drills, and power tools.

• My 8-year old daughter, who is a great source of inspiration and full of wonderful advice. She is still asking for business cards with her name on them. ☺
• My 5 year old identical twin boys, who always provide me great feedback along with lots of wonderful hugs when I am feeling a bit

Growing Up
As a child, I grew up in rural Maine clim
bing apple trees, skipping stones, balancing on old rock walls, and creating lots of gifts for family members. These gifts ranged from paintings and collages to wood boxes and baskets – you name it, I did it. My most precious creation, to this point, was a painting of my grandfather’s childhood farmhouse (very amateur I must admit). However, it was hung proudly in my grandparent’s home until they passed away and now hangs in my mom’s home. My grandfather used to say he wouldn’t sell it if someone had offered him a million dollars. This filled me with such joy! This is the same feeling I have today when I send one of my products to a mom creating a special nursery or a parent and child working on a “big kids” room.

An Artist? I would call myself a designer and creator. I have a degree in nutrition and worked several years as a Registered Dietitian. First, working in a hospital, then teaching low-income inner city moms, and lastly working on a breast cancer research study. It was 6 years ago that we moved into our 1830’s New England farmhouse and I rekindled my passion for designing and creating. With lots of imagination, a little non-toxic paint and colorful papers, I was able to transform neglected bedrooms and old dressers into creative, fun designs that my children adore. When I started “redesigning” my children’s bedrooms and furniture, I knew it was time to extend my craving for design into products for others. So, here I am designing, creating and loving life!

Tell us about Maple Shade Kids and What you make and sell?

At Maple Shade Kids you will find unique, earth friendly wooden children’s décor and art. In my designs, I strive to elicit joy, nature and love by combining the natural beauty of wood grains along with fun patterns and colors in paper. This combination creates such a happy and organic feel.

How did you become inspired to make your wares?

My motivation to create comes from my desire to bring a little bit of love and happiness to a person’s home. I tell my husband if we ever become independently rich (yeah right!), I will continue to create, but give m
y products away. It fills me with so much pleasure to know that I can bring a smile to someone’s face. I get excited to take a beautiful piece of wood, turn it into something that is fun and unique and have it placed into a special child’s room.

I’m inspired by beautiful paper, colorful fabric, the beautiful 200 year old maple trees surrounding our home, the little critters livi
ng in them and many amazing children’s illustrators. My children have learned that it can take a bit of time to get through our nighttime ritual of reading books as I often stop on each page and think out loud of the how the colors and textures work together. I’ve rubbed off on them as you will often hear them say things like, “Mommy, look how beautiful this picture is. I just love the colors!”

What are the materials you use in your products?

My products are created from a combination of FSC-certified wood and rescued wood. FSC certified wood is sustainably harvested wood coming from well managed forests and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The FSC works to eliminate habitat destruction, water pollution, displacement of indigenous people and violence against people and wildlife. Most of the rescued wood I use in my designs comes from a ship builder’s scrap pile. .

Any Advice for anyone interested in starting to sell on Etsy?

Etsy is the perfect place to set up shop and try selling your handcrafted products, vintage items or crafting supplies. It is full of so much support and community! I would recommend that anyone interested check out “The Etsy Seller’s Handbook”. It is full of great information, both for the newbie, (w
hich I still consider myself) and the veteran seller. You can find it at:

My personal advice:
• Create a product that you love and that makes you proud.
• Learn how to take great pictures. Pictures are so important when it comes to selling on-line. Again, refer to the Etsy Seller’s Handbook for some great picture taking tips!

• Think of the whole package! Packaging is the extension of your product. Give your customers a feeling they are receiving a gift versus just a product. Try to put as much love and thought into your packaging as you do your product. Carefully wrap each purchase, enclose a personal thank you letter or card, and maybe give them a small gift letting them know how much you appreciate their business. I believe this type of care and concern, along with a quality product, is what brings customers back.
• Find balance. Don’t work too hard or too little, write lists, set small daily goals, and have fun!

Where can people find you and your products?

Currently, I am strictly selling on Etsy. It’s perfect for me, and fits into my lifestyle beautifully!

Any easy Earth day tips you want to share?

Avoid harmful cleaning products
• Along with spring, comes spring cleaning (who has time, right?). Well, if you do get the spring cleaning bug, try to ditch the harmful chemicals. Vinegar and baking soda can be used to clean almost anything. Mix in a little warm water with either of these and you’ve got yourself an all-purpose cleaner.
Avoid buying plastic water bottles.
• Billions of plastic bottles are thrown in the trash each year and take up valuable landfill. Save some money AND the environment by drinking from the tap. If you are travelling, use a steel water bottle filled with tap water.
Buy organic.
• Try to buy organic when you are able. It isn’t just about avoiding the yucky pesticides that can make us sick. It is also about helping protect our waters and soil, and about creating a healthier environment.
Use reusable sandwich bags/containers
• If possible, avoid or decrease the use of plastic baggies. There are lots of icky toxic chemicals needed to make them and it takes lots of energy to manufacture and transport them. Instead, opt for reusable containers and/or earth friendly reusable sandwich/snack bags. They are available in so many fun colors! Etsy has some great options to choose from.
• Think twice before buying new. I have to confess: One of my favorite pastimes is turning worn furniture, sometime left on the curbside for trash, into pieces I love. Our home is filled with reused stuff. My grandfather’s old wood desk now is my “business station”. An old kitchen table (that came with the house) now works as my art work table. An old buffet from my grandfather’s farmhouse is now painted sunshine yellow and is used to store my children’s school papers, bills, and office supplies. An old window now serves as a unique picture frame. It feels great knowing that I have prevented so many items from being thrown into land fills, plus they are quite unique!
Buy Natural Gifts
• I can’t pass up this opportunity to say buy handmade natural gifts! It’s a win-win situation. We are supporting talented artists AND as a consumer we receive a unique product, full of love that helps preserve our earth by avoiding the mass production of products. This cuts down on global warming in addition to avoiding all that plastic packaging and annoying twisty tags that are nearly impossible to remove!
Together we can make a difference!
• If each of us reduces a bit, recycles a little, avoids toxic cleaners, buys organic/local occasionally, reuses once-in-a-while, and buys natural often, we can make a positive change for our environment and the health of ourselves and families. Happy Earth Day!

Thank You Wanda for a Great Interview!
Visit to see more of Wandas work!
-Sue (Ecoleeko)

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Natural Kids Earth Day Sale!

Hey there, Earth Day is right around the corner! April 22nd, in fact. It's encouraging to see that the fundamentals of Earth Day are becoming every day practices in our lives. As a member of the Natural Kids team, the day just has a special significance for me. My son is the inspiration for the toys I make. It's his future, and all of our kids', at stake: it just makes sense to start good practices with them, surrounding them with natural things made with love, care and respect for the earth. In honor of Earth Day, several Natty Kids shops are throwing celebratory sales! All sales are for April 22nd only, so don't wait! Use the tag "naturalkidssale" to find sale shops and items.

Here's the current list of Etsy shops and their sales:

babus is offering free shipping on everything in the shop.

Barefoot Birthdays and Polka Dot Dragon are both offering free shipping to US and Canada on all shop items.

Beneath the Rowan Tree is offering a free 11" Fairy Silk with every order.

BirchLeaf Designs is offering free shipping on Playsilks.

BuzzHandmade is offering a free beeswax votive candle with every purchase.

Codilollyskye is offering free shipping on everything in the shop.

Dayanra is offering $10 off on purchases of $40 or more.

Dragonflys Hollow is offering free shipping as well...all items that day!

Elemental Handcrafts is offering free shipping on everything in the shop.

FaerieRebecca and FaerieWaldorf are both offering a 4.22% discount on all items.

The Fairies' Nest is offering free shipping on everything in the shop on that day.

German Dolls is offering free shipping on doll clothes and Wee Pocketdolls.

Lala's Pequenos is offering free shipping on all Organic Noonies.

Lovealittle will be giving away a mini doll with every item purchased from the shop that day.

Lyneya is offering a 5% discount on all items in her shop.

Mamaroots will be giving away a free mini wood monster with any purchase that day. (Chris at mamaroots is also doing an Earth Day giveaway now at!!)

Maple Shade Kids is giving away a free magnet, hand crafted from

rescued wood, with each purchase.

Natural Star is offering free shipping on everything in the shop.

Nushkie will be giving away a Mini Gnome or Fairy with every purchase.

Polar Bear Creations is offering free shipping on everything in the shop.

PrettyDreamer is offering a free gift with every purchase.

pupa pupa is offering free shipping on everything the shop.

Tree Bottom Wool is offering free shipping on all items in the shop.

Weebeaks is offering free shipping on any orders of Reusable Napkins and Table Linens.

Woolies is offering a free knitted acorn with any purchase.

And I believe more shops are going to be part of the stay tuned!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Natural Family Living

Sitting outside today, I found myself wondering what I would write about natural family living. My fingers sifted through the soil, I was planting seeds with my children. Our baby Orion toddled around in the grass while his brother picked up rocks and drove them around in his dump truck. My daughters squabbled mildly over who would do what and when with the pots and soil and seeds and all the while the sun shone down on us and the sweet smelling breeze tickled your neck - one of those beautiful Oregon spring days. I realized then, sitting on a mound of earth with my children and enjoying a moment in nature with my family, that this was exactly the kind of living I was grasping at straws to write a story about. The things that we do, those small choices that we make in our own little families are what create the communities that we are a part of. Connecting with the earth and making natural and sustainable choices is part of a daily impact that we make. The way that we spend our time and what we choose to set as an example is in our behavior. I know that every time I wrap Orion in a soft cloth diaper instead of a crinkly plastic 'disposable' I am teaching natural family living: instilling the value by living the choice. From the smallest seed to the biggest tree, choosing to live naturally is a way of life and every decision we make adds up to a whole lot for our own family, the community that we are connected to, the future of our children and of our earth. Every touch of a natural fiber educates us, it acclimates us to what is acceptable to be around us. So every time we expose a child to a wooden truck instead of a plastic car, a wool felted ball or a soft cloth doll, we are teaching a valuable lesson in living naturally. Hopefully by these small choices and changes we will continue to create healthy families and a healthy planet for them to live in and that is natural family living at it's best. Many Blessings Families, Alyssa of Codilollyskye

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Welcome Wednesday...a little Peek

Today I'm going to give you a peek into the shops of 4 of our new members. I'm sure you'll agree there are lots of beautiful and useful treasures in each one!

Next week we'll take a peek at four more, so stay tuned!
The Fairies Nest

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mini Monday: SweetAlyssumDolls

A bit about Mary, one of our newest team members!

My name is Mary and I am a dollmaker of Waldorf style soft dolls and toys.

As a little child, I first experienced the joy and satisfaction found in creating....whether whimsical or practical 'things' by observing and learning from my grandmother and mother. THEY managed to sew, paint, knit, crochet... anything and everything....all at lightning speed-all the while- carrying on a conversation, keeping track of the 'little ones'...
planning dinner, laying out a plan for world peace and so on....

Father taught us how to celebrate the waxing and waning of the seasons and seek out the miracles just waiting to be discovered in the garden.

My work refects the lessons learned from my 'first teachers', as Waldorf education has so eloquently noted-- and the wisdom at the root of the following quote has shaped many, many lives, including my own.......

If survival depended solely on the triumph of the strong then the species would perish.
So the real reason for survival, the principal factor in the 'struggle of existence,"
is the love of the adult for their young.
-Maria Montessori-

Your Mini Monday correspondent...


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tuesday Treasuries

Tuesday's here and that means we have more new beautiful treasuries to share!

First, FaerieRebecca brings us a celebration of some of the beautiful work of our new members...

This bright and colorful spring collection is brought to us by Oritdotan.

And our dear friend Oritdotan gathers together more beautiful natural products for our beautiful natural kids.

Thanks for looking!
brought to you by Lynne from Cozy Cottage Creations.

Monday, April 6, 2009

How long does it take to make a German Doll?

Often people will ask me if there is a discount when they buy more than one of my dolls. Then I have to tell them that making a Waldorf style doll takes many hours of work. Most of the work is done by hand. If you know how to sew or have ever attempted the task of making a cloth doll from scratch you may know how hard it is, and how much labor goes into the production of a single doll.
Aside from the fact that the materials I use are high quality, hard to come buy, and mostly shipped to me from faraway places because I cannot buy them at the local store - the price of a Waldorf style doll is mostly explained through the many hours go into making of a doll. Here is a list of the many steps it takes to create a doll:

1. Washing every piece of fabric and materials that goes into the dolls, ironing: 1 hour
2. Tracing and cutting out the body from interlock fabric: 20 minutes
3. Making a shaped doll head : 1 hour
4. Sewing and turning the body: 30 minutes
5. Stuffing the body: 45 minutes
6. Sewing on legs, arms, head: 1 hour
7. Embroidering the face, putting on blusher: 30 minutes
8. Making the hair/wig, sewing it to the head: 1 - 1.5 hours
9. Making the doll clothes: 1-1.5 hours
10. Putting on final touches: 30 minutes
Total: 8 hours
Of course each doll is different. Depending on the clothes and what hairstyle, the production time may vary. But when you look at my list, please understand that I cut no corners. Whether I make 1 or 10 dolls the labor remains the same. Maybe I can save a few minutes if I trace and cut 10 doll bodies and make a number of heads at once. My husband and children find it quite amusing whenever I am having a “ head making day.”
To turn out a high-quality German Doll I must put in at least 8 hours of labor per doll. It also takes time to order and search out materials. After a doll is finished it has to be put on my virtual “store shelf.’ Taking pictures and listing an item is one more step not included on my list. Getting it to the customer all wrapped up and pretty another…
So really when you consider all the hours of labor that go into one of my sweet dolls, my asking price does not seem all that high any more. I have to pay myself at least minimum wage to continue…
Each doll is a little work of art. I enjoy the process of creating each little personality.
I tremendously enjoy being able to stay at home with my kids. I also like being my own boss, manager, advertising agent, photographer, shipper, wrapper, accountant, and and and….
It sure beats working at Walmart…

Your German Doll Maker
Ulla Seckler

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

What's Going on with NaturalKids

Real quick... three updates from the NaturalKids Team on Etsy!

First, we have revamped our collective shop,, adding new members and updating the look of many of the pages. If you get a chance, you must stop by!

Second, we have a stocking opening up in our Hyena Cart shop on Saturday, April 4 (hey, that's today!) at noon. Check out the previews up now, and be ready to snatch up some lovely natural items when the shop goes live!

Third, we are having an awesome giveaway at Woolies blog. Every two weeks you'll find three new prizes just being out-and-out given away! Click through to find out what's happening and to enter.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tutorial Thursday

Pom Pom Chicks! 
Follow the link to learn how to make the cutest pom-pom chicks from Chimera.  This looks like the perfect craft to try with little ones, just in time for Easter!

Chimera's blog 'duckyknits' looks like a fantastic resource for all kinds of crafty fun, thanks for sharing Kerstin.
If you give this craft a try, we'd love to see your chicks, please post a link in the comments to your creations!  Happy pom-pom making!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Welcome Wednesday!

The NaturalKids would like to welcome the following shops to our team! We have quite a large group!

Over the next couple of weeks we'll be peeking into their shops to get acquainted a little better, but in the meantime go and take a look for yourself at these wonderful new additions to our group!