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Natural Kids

Natural Kids: July 2010

Saturday, July 31, 2010

This Week's Giveaway is from the Enchanted Cupboard

... a beautiful set of wooden rainbow nesting bowls!

They are hand painted by the talented shop owner, Beccijo and here is a bit more about her and The Enchanted Cupboard ~

When Beccijo was 11 years old she picked up some oil pastels and began to draw everything she saw with her eyes and in her imagination. Her parents saw her talent and signed her up for Art Class at a local Art Studio. She received many Gold Key Awards and donated many of her art works to charity for auctions. Beccijo sold her first painting when she was 17. She went off to study Art at college and was awarded, The Most Outstanding Student of Art for 1991. Since then she has let her heart and her art lead her. Beccijo continues to draw and paint but has now found great passion for toy making and personal custom dolls painted to the likeness of her subject.

As her business has grown it has become a part of the family. Her husband helps with the branding, website, and marketing needs. Her kids love to sort all the unfinished wooden pieces and help put the pieces together for orders.

Beccijo is also very happy and proud to add her parents to the business. This is a wonderful creative outlet for their retirement years.

(felted acorns available from Fairy Folk)

The Enchanted Cupboard is offering this set of six bowls which are great for learning color, sorting, counting, and adding to other elements for preschool learning.

You will get 6:

To enter this week's giveaway, simply visit Beccijo's shop, The Enchanted Cupboard, and leave a comment about your favorite item in her shop. To be entered a second time facebook or twitter about the giveaway (leave another comment that you have). To be entered a third time, blog about this giveaway - be sure to link to this blog entry (leave another comment that you did).

The drawing will be Friday evening at 7:00 pm EST.


And the winner of the giveaway from Eve's Earthlings is....

Momma Rae from the blog, Morning Sun Rae!


Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Feature with Kats In The Belfry

Tell us little about yourself!
Hello, I am the infamous 'Kat' behind 'kats in the belfry'! I live on the Southern California coast with my oh-so-handsome husband & our sweet boys. In a nutshell: I am a mama, vegetarian, homeschooler, environmentalist, writer, artist, urban farmer, & woman who got lucky enough to marry her split-apart. Oh, & I love reading, thrift shopping, spending time with my friends, singing show tunes, & vintage everything. That's probably more than you wanted to know about me :)

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I create beautiful things that are safe for children to play with & love; using predominantly vintage & reclaimed fabric, wool, wood, & paper. I just love the way natural materials feel, look, & smell. Don't you? My toys, kits, & more - all spark the imagination, & enhance creative play. That's important to me.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by my own childhood. My brother & I spent most of our time either playing make-believe, or creating (what we thought were) artistic masterpieces. We were also blessed to have toys that even back then were considered old fashioned. That is the childhood I want for my boys, & that is what I focus on when creating things for 'kats in the belfry'.

What got you started making handmade items?
I made my first crown for my now 12 year old's 6 month unbirthday, & never stopped. Other items (totes, aprons, pencil pouches, art kits, etc) were created for the birthdays of his friends over the years. We didn't have much money, so I cut up old clothes & linens - thus starting my love affair with repurposing. My wooden toys were first created for my son to play with, except my 'people'. They were just for me. I have a thing for words, so wanted to clothe a doll in them. The 'people' dolls are now my biggest sellers. Isn't life funny sometimes?

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I've been on Etsy since 2007, but did not open my shop until the end of 2008. I was just too busy selling at local Waldorf fairs to put things in the shop. Plus, I was a scaredy-kat.

 What advice would you have for other Etsians?
My advice to other Etsians?  Stick with creating what you love. Every time I created what I thought others would like, I was miserable. That doesn't mean to not accept custom orders, nor to not give gifts others would like. Instead I am saying that in whatever you create, stay true to who you are, to what you like. And never ever ever run out of coffee.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
Oh my! I hope for more of the same. This group of talented artisans has been an amazing source of support, inspiration, advice, & friendship. I would not want to continue on Etsy without them. In April my Mother passed away, & I needed advice on using my shop to raise money to get my family to Oregon. Instead of advice, they filled my PayPal with donations & sales. They also filled my heart with joy during the most painful time in my life  - apparently I can be bought ;)

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural handmade products?
Well, I think most parents reading this already know of the importance of natural toys. Just surround your kids with the trappings of a magical childhood, & they'll know what to do.

All you links:
Are you still awake? If so, head over to my shop & blog. Oh, & do say hello - I love hearing from people.

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Homemade Laundry Soap

First published at, The Sitting Tree, this Thursday's tutorial illustrates how economical and easy (and fun) it is to mix up laundry soap by hand!

Fourteen days of camping and hiking in the rain yields A LOT of muddy clothes and wet wool pants. Nothing works better for cleaning dirt and stains out of the laundry like homemade laundry soap. Plus it's cheap and very eco~ friendly! We've tried all kinds but found that the powder version works the best for our family.

1 bar of handmade soap (approx 2 C.)
1 C. Borax (deodorizes and acts as an alternative to color safe bleach)
1 C. Washing Soda (used as a natural stain remover and softener in hard water)

First we start by finely grating a bar of our handmade castile soap. We are in love with Patchouli~Vanilla. Yummm. Sweet and spicy laundry fresh off the line. Almost makes me excited to do a tub full in the morning!

Then we measure out the Borax and Washing Soda (Borax may irritate little fingers, so older kids or adults should probably measure out this part). Pour all the ingredients into a glass, air tight canister.

Seal up the lid, put on some dancin' music, and let the kids shake it all up...

We do all our laundry in the tub and use a quarter cup per half a tub full, so probably a few tablespoons for a washing machine. It works great in cold water and I assume it works for front loaders also, just use a little less. (If you have one of these fancy electric contraptions you know how it works!) This jar will last us about two weeks if I do a load every day and the total cost is about $2.

Elizabeth knits anywhere & everywhere, except while riding her bike (but only because she hasn't worked out how to do that yet). Her handmade soap and hand knit woolen longies can be found on Etsy at thesittingtree.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

cottage life

Eve's Little Earthlings' upcycled wool art caught the eye of none other than Cottage Life Magazine's Managing Editor last week.

As Michelle Kelly wrote on her blog, "Thanks to reader Sue Richards who tipped me off to the cutest lit­tle wool toys and pil­lows I ever did see. Hand­made in Guelph by artist Eve Geisler from reused and felted wool sweaters, Eve’s Lit­tle Earth­lings make the per­fect gift for a favourite lit­tle cot­tager or object of whimsy on your cot­tage couch."

Anyone who's seen (nevermind owned) her fabulous pieces would definitely have to agree.

Inspired by Eve's work and her (fabulous) Cottage Life Mag press, here are some other lovely cottage picks from the NaturalKids team on Etsy:

toadstool cottage by BeneathTheRowanTree

oak leaf cutting board by prettydreamer

wooden puzzle by JustHatched

short-sleeved yoked sweater by thesittingtree

waffle weave leggings by MerinoMe

shells for nature table play from oritdotandolls

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday Giveaway - Eve's Little Earthlings

Eve's Little Earthlings, a member of the Natural Kids team, makes Waldorf inspired children's toys, pillows and home decor made from re-used and felted wool sweaters.

About Eve's Little Earthlings in Eve's words ~

I can't stop making stuff! I was originally trained as a potter and worked at that craft for 15 years. I started sewing and creating different animals for my children to play with. From a simple bunny pattern that I found in a book, I began designing my own little animals. Each one has its own unique appearance. My favourite part of the process is adding the eyes and nose, which just seems to bring the creatures to life. Every year I add a few more species to my repetoire. My kids are teenagers now, but I am still sewing and stuffing! All of Eve's Little Earthlings creations are made with repurposed materials whenever possible. They are all stuffed with wool fleece. I use only 100% felted wool fabric for the bodies of my animals unless otherwise stated.It is a fun challenge hunting down the perfect used sweaters for my creations! Although I am new to Etsy, I have been designing, making and selling Little Earthlings for over 10 years. Little Earthlings are sturdy and meant to be played with. When I'm not sewing, I'm doing mom stuff or working in our large urban garden.

Here is what Eve is offering for this giveaway~

Is it a toy or is it a real chimpunk? This toy chipmunk was out on an excursion and went for a little runabout on a fence rail. I love the way this little guy is scurrying along. His posture really suggests movement!

This toy chipmunk is made from a felted, repurposed sweater. Its stripes are cut out of a another patterned sweater. It is stuffed with wool fleece and embroidery floss is used for eyes and nose. It is suitable as a toy for all ages, or would be a sweet addition to a nature table or collection. Chipmunk is 3.5" long and 3.5" tall to the tip of its tail. Machine wash cold on delicate or hand wash. Air dry only.

To win this adorable chipmunk, please visit Eve's Little Earthlings and then come back and leave a comment about one of her amazing creations. The drawing will be held next Saturday morning, July 31 at 7:00 am.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Party Time

This tutorial first appeared as a blog post at Imagination Kids. It is 'reprinted' with permission, but for a complete set of pictures in all their brightly colored glory, be sure to take a peek a Erin's original article.

My newest favorite party decoration are tissue paper poms. I first saw them on Etsy and was able to track down instructions on how to make them on Martha Stewart. Since then I’ve made a bunch for different parties and they’ve been a huge hit! So much so, that the four I made for Stella’s birthday party are still hanging in my kitchen. When our friend decided to have a “yellow” themed birthday party I offered to make her some yellow poms because they were so much fun to make.

The poms are quite simple and inexpensive at just about $1.00 per pom. I think they would make a great project for 6 years old and up with a bit of supervision. Here’s what the finished product looks like.

What you will need to make one large pom:

  • 8-10 pieces of 20×20 tissue paper in any color, the pieces of tissue the fuller your pom will be

  • 5-6″ of thick florists wire or flexible garden tie (I like the garden tie because it won’t accidentally tear the paper)

  • a bit of string to hang your pom with

  • scissors

  • something to cut the wire

First lay out all the pieces of paper you are using to make your pom. Try to make all the edges even. Next fold the tissue paper with approximately 1.5″ accordion style folds. Make sure to crease the folds well. Here’s what you paper should look like after it is all folded:

Now it’s time to cut the wire or garden tie. You’ll need about 5-6″ inches of the wire. Find the middle of the folded paper and wrap the wire around and secure both ends, like this:

Now use your scissors to round both ends of the folded paper. You could make spikes if you wanted a spikey pom. And fan the paper out like this:

Next, carefully separate half the layers of paper by lifting them upwards on one half of the pom. This will create 1/4 of the pom. Now separate The other pieces on the side to create the other 1/4 of the pom. Half your pom is complete!

Now repeat separating the layers of paper on the other half and your pom will be done.


Visit Imagination Kids for toys hand made in Indiana from child and earth friendly materials. Party Packs of beautifully colored wands and other toys are available - you'll need some favors to accompany your brand new set of Party Poms!

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Making Dream Catchers with MuddyFeet

Dream Catchers made by myself and my two boys, ages 9 and 12
I thought I would offer up a little something for the older kids in today's Kid Craft.  This is a wonderful project for quiet summer afternoons, and the dream catchers make great gifts for loved ones (especially a sibling that might have bad dreams!).   Younger kids can do it too, they just might need some extra hands and help.  By the way, this is a perfect activity to tie into a geometry unit.  The spiraling design created by bisecting the line segments is fascinating (to me at least)!

Beads, feathers, string, branches and scissors
are all that's needed!
Materials needed:
    Thin flexible branches (we used suckers off our mesquite tree, but you could use willow or grapevines - just make sure that whatever you choose, it is safe to be handled by children)
    Strong string (we used fine hemp, but waxed linen does the job beautifully.  Kite string or even embroidery floss would work as well).
    Beads and feathers if desired

    To begin, you want to make sure that any leaves are completely removed from the branches.  Also break or cut off any very thin ends.  Our branches were about 12 to 16 inches in length after we removed the tips.  If you are using grapevines or a similar material, you may have to soak them for a while first to make them more flexible.   Have ready a 4 foot piece of string (longer for bigger branches).

    The beginning is perhaps the most difficult part, and it may help to have a couple extra hands here.  You may also want to have some extra branches in case they snap while working them.  Slowly and carefully bend the branches into a circle with the ends slightly overlapping.  You don't need a perfect circle, part of the charm of these are the unique shapes that are formed! 

    When you have your circular shape, tie one end of your string around as tightly as you can (this is where you might need those extra hands).  Don't let go yet!  The branch ends may slip apart, so wrap your string tightly around and around until they feel secure.

    When you are happy with the binding, make one final wrap with your string but don't tighten it.  First bring the end through the loop that you have made, this will help cinch it down in place.

    Now it's time to create the web.  One stitch is used over and over again to make the whole thing!  Start with your string at the front.  Now loop around behind the branch and up through the hole that you created between the string and the branch.   Pull this tight a short distance away from your wrapping. 

    Now continue making those stitches all the way around your circle, perhaps an inch or so apart.

    When you have reached your starting point, rather than working on the branch, you will move to the string.  Make your same little loop that you have been making, but make it around the midpoint of the string segment, then move onto the next midpoint.

    Here is what it should look like when you have gone full circle twice.

    And three and a half times.  You can add a bead (the spider) by just slipping it onto the string (slide it all the way down) and continue on.  When you come back around to your spider, you may be a little confused.  Just pick one side or the other to make your loop around and try to slide the loop as close to the center as possible.

    When you have gone around the web as many times as you want and are happy with the web (or are about out of string), make a little knot by bringing your string through the loop another time.  Pull tight and make sure it is secure.

    If you still want to continue your web, but have run out of string, no worries!  Just make as small and neat a knot as possible when adding another length of string to the first.  The knots will not be too noticeable, especially if you can keep them on the back side. 

    You can tie feathers onto the remainder of the string that is hanging down.  Wrap them with string to really secure them.  Or you can just cut it off and enjoy as is.  If you prefer, you can cut a string for each side of the hoop, tie them on, string beads and tie on feathers.  Go crazy with the beads and feathers or keep it simple, it's up to you!

    All that's left is to tie a loop onto the top for hanging.

    Then find a place to hang and enjoy!  Sweet Dreams!


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