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Natural Kids

Natural Kids: April 2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Make a Strawberry Fruit Tart

Today's recipe is by Cyn of FairiesNest (be sure to check out her lovely shop here). The timing for this recipe is perfect with so much local fruit just coming into season (can't wait for our local organic strawberries in June). It would make a delightful Mother's Day surprise too.

Recipe for a Strawberry Fruit Tart

The strawberries in our part of the world are coming in fast and furious. To make this fruit tart, you start with a pre baked tart shell, preferably a sweet shortcrust. My favorite one is from the book Festive Tarts by Sylvia Thompson. (This is a fantastic tart book that I highly recommend and although it's out of print you can find cheap used copies).

1 2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
10 tablespoons butter
pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons cream

Combine the dry, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles cornmeal, add the wet and mix lightly until a ball of dough forms. refrigerate for 15-30 mins. Roll out and place in tart form. Stick in the freezer for 30 mins and then bake in a 400 degree F oven with pie weights (or dried beans) on a piece of parchment inside. After 15 mins remove the weights and bake for 12 more mins. Cool and fill!

photo via Flickr

Cut up enough fruit to fill your tart; peaches, berries, plums, all of one kind or a mix ...whatever you think is yummy. Mix together 1 cup sugar with 3 cups of orange juise and 4 tablespoon cornstarch in a saucepan. Heat this stirring constantly until it thickens. Put about 1/3 of the mixture in the bottom of the tart. Now place in the fruit in a pretty pattern or all mixed up, it doesn't matter. Then carefully cover all the fruit with the rest of the OJ sauce. Refrigerate for at least an hour, but not more than 4 or 5 because you don't want it to get soggy...though it will still taste good! One little trick; if you're using fruit that might brown, like peaches, toss them with the OJ first and then drain them and proceed. It also gives the OJ a great peachy taste... This works well for freezing peaches too!

Here's a sweet spring flower pixie from Cyn's shop!

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring / Summer Acorn Gnome Tutorial

My children and I have been collecting acorns and designing outfits for our little Acorn Gnomes... We re-used materials we had from around our home and the garden...

Spare felt pieces
Small tack nails
Needle and thread

Attach the acorn to the cork with a metal pin / tack.

Cut a piece of felt the height of your cork and wrap it around before you cut it to make sure it fits all the way around.

I have sewed it on with blanket stitch.

Cut another wider piece for your gnomes jacket, also the height of your cork.

Sew along the top of the jacket / cape and then pull your sewing thread tight to gather the felt.

Sew on the cape.

Sew around the cape in blanket stitch.

Cut out little petal shapes from your felt pieces. (I always save my scraps of felt:)

Start sewing them together on the top.

  All sewn together with a green felt stem on the top.

Fold two petals back and sew them securely where the little gnomies face will be.

And there he is!


Etsy Shop: Mamma4earth 
Blog: Natural Suburbia

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Listings from the Natural Kids Team

Found at Etsy when using the search words "naturalkids team" ~

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mini Monday - Polar Bear Creations

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Meet Sue of Polar Bear Creations :

I’m a stay at home mom of 3 great boys, happily married and currently living for 4 years in beautiful Florida before heading back to Canada. I’m originally from Germany, where I was introduced to the Steiner/Waldorf Philosophy when my little sister attended a Waldorf school.

That’s when I fell in love with the Waldorf Philosophy and Waldorf toys. Especially Waldorf inspired dolls have become a big part of my life.These dolls with their simple, lovely faces give children lots of room for imaginative play. Creative playing helps children to develop nurturing and a sense of their own “self”. Isn’t that something we need more of in our world today??

My main focus these days is to create Waldorf inspired dolls and toys that are made with lots of love and care, from natural materials, which are unique and safe for children of all ages.

My website : and blog: are also in German, since I am from Germany.

article by prettydreamer


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Earth Day Winner

The winner of our Earth Day blog contest was comment #80 by The Han Family.


Thanks to all who entered and Happy Earth Day!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Friday Feature with Willowbaus

Tell us little about yourself! 
I am a beekeeper's daughter, born in a tent, and grew up in the desert and high desert of Arizona and Eastern Oregon. Now I am a mom staying at home with my two toddler boys while my husband goes out to defend the safe passage of wild salmon through the dams and rivers.

We live a stone's throw from the Willamette River just outside of Portland, OR. Our life is pretty much centered around the river and the woods around our house. Yes, we live in the burbs, but we fantasize about getting back to the country someday soon- a barn filled with rusty objects and a tire swing hanging from a weeping willow are a must for any rowdy boy or girl!

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I make classic toys with a modern twist. I began with selling bird mobiles like the ones I made for my boys when they were born, and have moved onto sailboats, balls, wagons, and other ideas as time goes on. I like to keep with the idea of wood and colorful natural fabric, and being as eco-conscious as possible. I am a nut about toxins around my children and our beautiful river, and I am perfectly comfortable with my boys licking and chewing on the products I make.

What inspires you? 
Beautiful fabric, my children, other children, elements in nature like wind, water, fire, and as corny as it sounds- innocence! I love that my son doesn't know the words gun or knife- they are pokers and shooters;) I just want my toys to help children hold onto that sweetness.

What got you started working with fabric and wood?
I have been sewing for years, working as an apparel and accessory designer and dressmaker for a decade prior to having my boys, so the fabric part comes very naturally. The woodcutting is done by my husband, uncle, father in law and a Buddhist monk that is a friend of a friend. I'm pretty much always recruiting woodcutters. I am terrified of power tools, but hope to take a class soon and get over that! That said, I think like a sculptor and love the process of taking a rectangle of fabric and a hunk of wood and transforming it into something beautiful and fun.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far? 
I just had my 1 year anniversary on Etsy. I think it is an absolute God-send for people like me who have the need to be a worker bee and have a creative outlet, but want to be home with their children. I have a hard time thinking about going back to the 9-5 life now that I know I can earn a living on my own. The customers are usually very creative as well, and wonderful to work with. It is a lot less stressful to make toys than to make clothing, toys are pretty much a happy pill.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?
I think it is really important to take your customer feedback seriously. I have greatly improved my product and presentation since the beginning thanks to some great comments and feedback I have received along the way. Also, remember that the customer is always right. Knowing that makes it easier to figure out how to handle situations (lost packages,etc.) when they arise.

  • Another thing is to make something unique. When I have a new idea, I do a search for it first to see if anyone else is doing it already. If so, think of a way to do it differently.
  • Also, make sure to put a fair price on your items- pay yourself and you will be happier doing it. 
  • Last, network by joining teams and doing showcases. Being a part of Natural Kids has been the best advertising for me.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
I have gained a lot of exposure- to the point that I will be focusing my advertising budget here going forward.
I love having the network of people that are pretty much in the same shoes as me that I can ask questions to, and hopefully answer questions for.With a busy shop and 2 boys 3 and 1.5 I am pretty overwhelmed at the moment, but I hope to give back to the team more in the future.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
I just took a big stand against the TV when I noticed first hand how my older son would pretty much start drooling on himself while sitting there watching cartoons. Very upsetting to see!

Now that we are TV free, it is amazing to see how he has become much more engaged in the world around him. I consider battery plastic toys to be like the TV- it all spelled out for them, they don't have to think when using them. With a wooden car or boat- the world is a river or street, they make their own sounds and their brain is doing the work. I just gave my sons the simple wooden horses that I sell with the wagons (from TNT toys, another Etsy shop)and they just love the solid smoothness of the horses and carry them everywhere.
Your items can be found where:

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

happy earth day, today and every day

From all of us on the NaturalKids team on Etsy... may today be a day of connecting and reconnecting to nature and celebrating our earth as we protect it for generations and generations to come.

(photo above by Fairyfolk)

We've tried to make it a little easier for families to choose all-natural, eco friendly gear for their kids and homes by having a gigantic 56-shop-wide sale, so please check our shops out for all the details or search on Etsy for "naturalkids team earth day".

And you can receive a free e-book filled with tutorials, kids crafts how-tos, ideas on connecting to nature and fantastic, wholesome recipes... just by finding a drawn gnome hidden in the listings of so many of our shops.


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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

masterpiece painting

this project is one of my son's favorites. i honestly cannot recall how many times over the years he painted this way on totes & shirts for people. definitely long after he learned to paint within the lines ;)

what you'll need:

* fabric paint
* paint brushes (1 for each child)
* cotton tote bag (1 for each child)
* used newspaper, or grocery bags (i used a grocery bag, cut into 5 sections)
* masking tape

1) insert a folded section of newspaper, or piece of a grocery bag into your tote. this is to keep the paint from seeping through to the other side.

2) create a square, or rectangle, on the front of your tote. this will be where you'll paint your masterpiece. to do this lay 4 pieces of newspaper, or grocery bags, into the shape & size you want your painting to be. once you're happy with that, tape each section down with masking tape on the inside of your shape.

3) make sure there are no gaps in the tape by running your finger firmly along all four sides.

4) start painting like the wild thing you are! actually this is really for your kids. so, hand over the brush, & let them know they can paint with abandon, not worrying in the least about paint getting onto the paper. i'd even encourage them to fill the space to the edges.

5) keep an eye on the masking tape as they paint, to make sure it hasn't lifted. i didn't pay attention here, & a bit lifted, allowing paint to get beneath. it still turned out beautifully, but some kids aim for perfection. you know yours best.

6) you can gently lift away the tape now. if your artist decided a thicker layer of paint was best, you should wait a little while before lifting the tape.

that's all there is to it! the more colors the kids chose, the more it looks like a bag you'd purchase at some swanky museum. you can see the bit at the top where my paint seeped under the tape. it's not too bad; at least the gnome doesn't seem to mind.
if you have a very thin permanent marker, you can write your child's name in the bottom, right corner, along with the year. this makes it look even more like it came from a museum's shop.
happy painting!
~peace, kat

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

the greening of a family

Today's post about Earth Day and raising eco consciousness in our families is from Amy Turn Sharp of Little Alouette - you can visit their lovely shop of heirloom wooden rattles and toys here.

(photo above from Little Alouette)

Earth Day 2010 celebrates the 40th anniversary of a wonderful movement started by Senator Gaylord Nelson. He had a great idea and kept working at spreading the word in a grassroots way, starting with a Scholastic Magazine article that the schools across America read and shared. It seemed that everyone began working together to focus on starting this special day. It started small but has grown into a promise by many of us to protect and nurture Mother Earth.

photo via Flickr

I love the story of the movement being started by the small ones! Yay for wee ones and educators! You can start today to make life a bit greener in your home in simple and affordable ways. The greening of a family can start slowly with simple deliberate actions.

photo via Flickr

Here are some ideas for raising eco consciousness in your family:

• Make your own household items like detergents and cleaners. I made laundry detergent last year and have fallen in love with the economical and greener clean I get from the mix. Check out our blog here to find out how!

• I like to use vinegar for most of my cleaning. You can dilute it and add water and presto you have a perfect cleaner that is very inexpensive. Baking soda is perfect all-purpose scrub and won’t harm little ones. I love using natural products and I find that adding essential oils can give you a fresher scent and mood lift while cleaning.

• If you can give up a paper towel addiction turn to washable cloths and kitchen towels. I love micro fiber cloths!

• Teach your children well! Talk about recycling and head to a local landfill and recycling center for a field trip. Have a simple recycling center in your home and let even the youngest place items in the bins. Label bins with pictures and word and encourage your children to recycle each day. Try out backyard or kitchen composting. For a load of fun and science try vermicomposting! WORMS! (We do it and it is a blast!)

Art for kiddos- talk to kids about thinking first about the supplies we have in the home for art. The recycling bin is a perfect place to check first.

Check out the Crafty Crow for amazing recycled art activities!
I found this amazing Springtime fun on the site this week....

boats from cork!

Save those corks!

Another fun activity for Earth Day and beyond is stamp making in the recycling bin

You can start small and teach your children that tiny steps in the right direction will help us all and truly honor Mother Earth.

Thanks! Amy Turn Sharp of Little Alouette xo

Be sure to check out Little Alouette's beautiful teething trees, made from Ohio maple wood (and much love), and all the other beautiful handmade pieces in their shop.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Mini Monday - Dance In My Garden

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Meet Luisa of Dance In My Garden :

Over the years, I have dabbled in - mosaics, wet and dry felting, silver wire jewelery making, watercolors, basket weaving, however...... Dormant for a long while laid my humble sewing machine!

Thank goodness for Etsy I say...I feel re-energized and revitalized to sew again, and now I think about all the things I would love to design and make. (this drives me a bit nuts at times!) I enjoy working with fabrics that nod to nature in patterns, and hope to work more with organic and fair trade fabrics. I believe in Joie de vivre and I hope that is reflected in my life and what I make!

I feel very blessed to live in such a beautiful unspoiled part of the world, where nature is everywhere, or not far. Tasmania is a great place to enjoy the four seasons. I love to celebrate them, and marvel at the glory of creation.

article by prettydreamer


Friday, April 16, 2010

Making a Woodmouse

I am dedicating this kid craft project to our friend Amber woodmouse, who was one of the original founders of the Etsy NaturalKids Team. Hopefully she will see this post and be proud of our efforts to keep the Naturalkids Team going strong!

I realize that not everybody may own some of the tools used (for example: a vice) but maybe you could pay a visit to a friend's, grandpa's, or an uncle's house and have them do this project with your child. Know any crafty aunts and grandmas?
Please, don't be scared to try this! I swear I am not much of a woodworker, and if I can do this with the kids, anybody can! This craft is fun for girls and boys alike!
Young and old will be pleased with the results using these simple natural materials.

Scraps of wood, untreated fir or pine scraps leftover from a project
nails with wide heads
scraps of leather
a few drops of wood glue

A small handsaw/ coping saw
kidsize or smaller hammer
awl or drill
wood rasp

My son has loved working with wood since he’s been a little fellow, 3 and 4 years old. My husband and I have always encouraged him to work on wood projects in the our basement. Please, keep in mind that this craft needs quite a bit of adult supervision! You should stay right by your child’s side and help them every step of the way, especially if they are younger! You know your child best! The amount of supervision depends on your child’s skill level and personality. I recommend it for kids 6 and up who like to swing a hammer and have an interest in wood work.

1.Take your piece of scrap wood and put in the vice. You will need rectangular pieces of wood cut into about 3-4 inches long sections. We used some old pieces of pine wood from a yard project. They were slats measuring 1.5x1x10 inches. This craft is great for teaching your child about measuring. You can have them measure and mark off several pieces. Have them draw straight lines across the wood piece and then cut along the lines.

2. Since mice have a pointy nose, the front of the mouse body needs to be shaped with two angular cuts. Again, have your child mark off the cuts with a pencil. Just tell them they need to cut off two triangular pieces at the tip and have them cut along these lines. ( Great for learning about geometry. =)

3. With the wood piece mounted in the vice, have your child use a wood rasp to smooth out all the edges. You may have to change the position of the wood several times. The head section needs to be flattened and shaped into a nice pointy nose. The back end can just be slightly rounded off. Don’t forget the sides!

4. Mark off the position of the eyes, ears, and tail with pencil. Then have your child hammer two nails all the way into the wood piece where you marked the eyes. They should be a closer together than the ears!

5. The next step is probably best done by an adult. Drill three holes in the spot where you marked the ears, and the tail.

6. Cut out ears and long thin piece of leather for the tail. Use a few drops of wood glue and glue the leather pieces onto the mouse body.

7. Finally use small pieces of sandpaper and sand off the rough or marked places. You can make your mouse as smooth and soft as you like. If you want to protect the the body from stains and water you could rub on some mineral oil or beeswax finish with a piece of cloth. We decided we liked the more roughhewn look of our new pets. =)

Happy Crafting!

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Earth Day how-to :: make an upcycled shipping envelope {and another GIVEAWAY!}

Earth Day is just around the corner, and the NaturalKids team here on Etsy is having a huge (56 shops!) sale and promotion to celebrate. With the Earth as our muse, today's tutorial is timely and fabulously functional. It's by Kat from katsinthebelfry, her lovely shop full of gnomes, toys, kits, crowns and more.

Oh, and you can enter another beautiful GIVEAWAY of natural kids toys and more over at the beautiful blog, NaturalSuburbia

(a beautiful playsilk from PolkadotDragon, a felted snail from MuddyFeet and a wooden iron from PrettyDreamer)

Now onto the tutorial....
New (upcycled) shipping envelopes - the tutorial, by Kat

People have been emailing, asking about the envelopes I talked about recently. Since I needed to make a few the other day, I thought I'd photograph the process for you.

*prepare the bag: carefully remove the handles, & toss them into your recycling bin. Next you'll need to cut the bag open; do this by cutting down one corner seam, then around the base. now your bag should lie flat.

* place your item on the bag, & measure 2 inches around. you can either cut out 2 of of this size, or fold your bag over, then cut once. i did the latter here. definitely fold if your item is bulky.

*with your machine set to zig zag, stitch around three sides. leave a bit of a seam allowance, & don't forget to back stitch.

*slip your item in. make sure you ease it to the bottom of your envelope, so you don't accidentally sew through it. for a bit of padding you can first wrap your item in some of the tissue you saved from your birthday prezzies.

*sew the fourth side closed, back stitching once more to avoid ravelling.

*if your bag has a fancy design, as does mine, add a label for the address.

*a reminder to recycle your envelope would be a lovely addition. perhaps i should have gone with a color not in the bag's design.

*make more! my bag made 1 small, & 1 large envelope.

these are fun to make, & take very little time. happy envelope-making!

Here's something lovely from Kat's shop!

Sunee, a Shakespearian wooden doll, clothed in Shakespeare's writing, and sweet as can be!

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