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Natural Kids

Natural Kids: September 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

How To: Wash a Wool Fleece

As a knitter, I have a deep and abiding respect for the amount of work involved in transforming the wild and crazy fleece from the back of a sheep into a neat and tidy sweater. Liz takes on the second step (the first step is getting the fleece off of the sheep) in this recent post on her blog, The Sitting Tree.

I've been waiting all summer for the temperatures to cool off enough so I could wash this dreamy raw Romney fleece I purchased back in May. I got really lucky this time, that I didn't have to do much prep work of picking any straw or burrs out of the wool.

Washing wool is much easier than you'd think, it just takes a long time and smells up the house, causing the husband and children to run for the hills. (Personally, I love the smell of a fresh fleece and always start this project when I need a little time alone!)

So here's how it goes... First, run a tub of very hot water. After you've run the water, add a couple liberal squirts of Dawn dishwashing soap, swishing it around to mix the soap in while trying to avoid the sudsy bubbles. (as you can see I failed the swishing part of the demo) Next, carefully lay your fleece in the hot, soapy water. Now this is very important ~ Do NOT agitate your fleece or you WILL felt your wool ~ trust me! When the wool fibers are shocked by a sudden change in temperature along with movement, their microscopic scales open up and lock onto other neighboring fibers causing the artist heartbreak, tears, tantrums, and undoubtedly a few unseemly words! Just let the wool soak up all the water and you'll be fine...

You don't want to let the water cool off too much or the lanolin will harden again, so after about 15 minutes, drain all the water out and rinse the tub. Carefully pick up the fleece and set it in a colander to strain while you fill the tub up with hot water and soap again. Gently lay the fleece back into the water and let soak for another 15 minutes. You can keep doing this as many times as you need until your fleece is clean. In the past, I've tried using laundry bags to wash the fleece, but found that the inside wool takes a lot longer to clean and laying the fleece out flat uses a lot less water!! This is after the second soaking:

Do a final rinsing soak with hot water and put it in a colander to let as much water drain out as possible. Spread the fleece on a towel and set it outside in the sun to dry!

After two whole days rotating in the sun, it was finally ready! I spent the afternoon in my outdoor studio carding some for the spinning wheel, and the rest I'm going to make into a batch of hand~dyed & felted soaps for the upcoming holiday fair...

Beautiful yarns and patterns as well as finished mittens, longies and soakers are all available in Liz's shop, The Sitting Tree. "I'm inspired by everything nature, and try my darndest to make sure my products reflect the love and respect I have for mother earth."

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mini Wednesday - Maple Shade Kids

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Meet  Wanda of Maple Shade Kids:

Hi! My name is Wanda. I live in New Hampshire with my husband, 9 year old daughter and my 7 year old twin boys.

I unleashed my passion for designing and creating when my family and I moved into our New England farmhouse. It was an open canvas for me. With lots of imagination, a bit of wood, fun papers and earth friendly paint, I was able to transform our rooms and furniture into creative, fun designs that my children/family adore. I haven’t stopped since!

You can also visit Maple Shade Kids here as well :

article by prettydreamer 


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Recipe: Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

I'm sure you've all been wondering: "She posts all these recipes, but what does Emily eat?" Lose sleep no longer: here is my new favorite muffin recipe. Just sharing it with you means I have to make them for breakfast. This article was posted over on my blog, Yarn Miracle.

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

You’ve probably got everything you need in your pantry and ‘fridge. That’s my favorite thing about this recipe – besides the deliciousness. The recipe makes 12. Ellie and I usually half it. She’s going to be good at fractions.

* 3/4 c. some kind of milk (I used almond this time. I like almond milk.)
* 1/2 t. apple cider vinegar

Stir the vinegar into the milk and give it a few minutes to curdle up like buttermilk. Then add:

* 1 c. applesauce (we used unsweetened)
* 3 T. canola oil
* 1/2 c. brown sugar

And stir everything well to combine. Dump in the dry stuff:

* 1 1/2 c. AP flour (we used whole wheat pastry flour this time)
* 2 t. baking powder
* 1/2 t. baking soda
* 1 t. ground cinnamon
* 1/2 t. ground nutmeg
* 1/2 t. salt
* 1 scant cup of oatmeal

Note: the original recipe wants 3/4 c. of oat bran. But you can’t get oat bran at our Winn Dixie so we went with oatmeal.

Mix everything up until it is just combined. Ellie was helping, so the pictured batch is over-mixed and didn’t rise as well as it could have. Looks aren’t everything.

Scoop the batter into a greased muffin pan (or cupcake liners if the condition of your muffin pan is starting to Concern you) and pop it in a 350F oven for 30 minutes. Don’t be afraid to let them get a little dark – it makes the tops crunchy yummy omnomnom.

The original muffin recipe is found in Veganomicon. If I could only have one animal-free cookbook, Veganomicon would be it. The majority of the recipes are for things Ellie actually eats and use ingredients that can be found in a grocery store. My kid is a less picky eater than some, but what two year old eats Kumquat and Chipotle Relish on a Bed of Kale?

I totally made that last one up.

Yarn Miracle specializes in comfortable, conscious companion animals hand knit from natural, sustainable, humanely grown fibers and fillings. Every purchase of a full sized Companion or Itty Bitty Playset helps real companion animals (the kind that eat kibble and shed) find homes through Emily's local humane society BARC.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Making Felted Soap

This is an activity that is easy to do with young kids, though they might get a tiny bit wet! These would be cute gifts to make for grandparents.
To get started you need:
-A bar of soap
-1-2 ounces of wool-a soft fiber such as merino
(avoid superwash which won't wet felt)
-A ziploc bag
-Dish soap, or another bar of soap
-A towel
-vegetable peeler

If your soap is rectangular, first take a vegetable peeler and to round the edges a bit. This will make it easier to cover the soap bar completely without any corners peeking out.

Now you can begin wrapping the bar of soap with wool. I usually start with a base layer of plain white fiber, though any color is fine. Pull off pieces of wool roving that are about one inch thick and two feet long to make this easier. Try to wrap tightly without twisting the fibers to help keep the surface as smooth as possible.

Once you have wrapped the soap going in one direction (vertically), flip it to the side and wrap it in the opposite direction (horizontally).

Now wrap it vertically again, make sure to cover the narrow sides too. This makes for three layers so far and should be good enough for the base layer.

The fun part is adding your design layer. Layer on any colors you want and any direction-just try to keep the layers as smooth as possible.

Here you can see just how much bigger the wrapped soap looks before it is felted. It will have shrunk quite a bit when you are done.

Carefully place the wrapped soap inside a ziploc bag. Add some dish soap to a few cups of warm water and pour some water into the bag to fully wet the wool. Let the excess water run out and seal the bag closed. With the bag on the counter, gently rub your hand back and forth over the surface, turning to get all sides of the wrapped soap. Then gently toss the bag bag and for between your two hands, left to right, right to left for about 20 tosses.

Open the bag, and add more hot soapy water, let the extra drain and seal it again. Now begin to roll the bagged soap in your hands, like you do with a regular bar of soap when washing your hands.
Change directions frequently, roll the soap lengthwise. Do this for a few minutes. The wool should be starting to shrink now.

Remove the soap from the bag and do the pinch test. Does the top layer of fibers lift up, or does it seem attached to the base as one layer? If the fibers lift up you need to work a little bit more. You can put the soap back in the bag with more hot soapy water, or you can suds up your hands and roll it around in all directions. Surface friction is the goal. For wool to wet felt it needs friction, and hot soapy water.

When the felt passes the pinch test, rinse it as best as you can with cold water, You will never get all of the soap out, as by this point the bar of soap will have started to suds up inside the wool. Roll the felted soap inside a towel to get as much water out as possible and dry on a rack.

If you want to make something fancier you can try needle felting a design on some layers of loose wool. Lay this design over the base layer of the soap, wrapping the edges of the wool to the back before felting.

Posted by Kerstin Of Chimera Fibers

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Oh what beautiful things you can find on Etsy!

'A Handmade Harvest' by theenchantedcupboard

I just love this time of year!

Autumn Leaf Child T...


Heart of the Fall F...


Green Acorn Pocketd...


Noodle stoneware Se...


Boston Beanies Cott...


Pumpkins for Fall, ...


Colorblocked in Cha...


Acorn Girl Bendy Do...




Carrot House Play S...


Fox and Dragonfly C...


Autumn Crochet Pump...


Tiny Acorns -8 doze...


Fall Pixie


Leaf Acorn Charm Br...


Lovely Autumn Tree ...


Generated using Treasury HTML code generator by Whale Shark Websites.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

NaturalKids Book Review

Children Make Terrible Pets
By Peter Brown

This new release from author Illustrator Peter Brown is a wonderful read. I’m a big fan of his Chowder books, and his first book Fight Of The Dodo. They are all funny and charming, and his illustrations speak just as much as the text.

This book stars Lucy a very adorable bear who discovers a little secret admirer while practicing her twirls in the woods. She decides to make him her pet and takes him home and names him Squeaker. She feeds, plays with, takes a nap with, and even tries to potty train Squeaker. When Squeaker goes missing , she looks for him high and low, and finally finds him picnicking with his family. Saddened by having to say good bye to her friend she talks to her mother who comforts her and teaches her that having a little human boy for a pet was not a good idea. don’t worry she finds a good replacement at the end.

This is a great picture book for children 3 and up. The Illustrations are not as lush as his other books, its more brown and earthy, but they fit the story and are just as beautiful.  a great book to curl up and read to your kids under a warm blanket. I assure you that when you read this book you will go to your local library or book store and look for his other selections.

Dayanara Garcia/ Pin Pon

Here are some great Natural Kids picks you might enjoy:




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Thursday, September 23, 2010

How To: Nurture Art Appreciation in Kids

Muddy Feet and More is a rare treat: dragonflies, butterflies, foster animals and paper cutters all receive equal time. For the complete version of today's How To, be sure to take a look at Kelly's original post. There are even more great cloud pictures to 'oooh' and 'ahhh' over!

The development of art was one one of the first steps that mankind took on his path to civilization. Throughout history, great value has been placed on beauty, originality, and creativity. From cave paintings, shell beads and tattoos to modern day architecture, advertisements and photography, art is all around us, and in fact, embedded deep into our very being.

Exposure and communication. That is all we need to appreciate art. Exposure is easy, it's all around, right? You just need to look at things in a new way. Look at everything for the art in it, listen and feel too! Use your senses. The communication may be a little more difficult. We are a verbal species. We need to learn the terms for communicating what we are experiencing. We need to learn what questions to ask to evoke responses in ourselves and the children we are with. Okay, that's really pretty easy when you get the hang of it too!

So where to begin? Outside. No, really! Go. Visit the ever changing multi-sensory work of art that nature provides us with, that nature IS. For the first assignment, take a step back. Look up. Every day, the sky is different. Even here in Phoenix the sky is never quite the same shade of blue. The sunsets are never quite the same. Even the night skies are changing, moving. Rather than seeing sky, or clouds, or the moon, you are seeing art. Now discuss that. Ask questions. Make statements. Even get excited. Do this whenever you are outside.

"Wow, look at the cloud in front of the sun! It's really beautiful!
I like the way the edge is so bright. It really contrasts with the darkness
of the inside of the cloud and makes it stand out from the other clouds!
What do you think?"

"I really like the different cloud shapes and colors. Which ones
are your favorites? There are so many shades of gray in the clouds,
and so many layers. The blue sky behind is so bright. It isn't like
the paler blue we saw yesterday, is it?"

"Amazing! Going outside is like walking into a sepia photograph!"
(Actual conversation last night.) "The sun is being filtered by all
of the dust in the air, turning the sky this unusual color!"
(The next photo is actual color, it has not been changed.
It was taken with the same camera just a few hours after the ones above.)

"Isn't is amazing how many colors nature gives us?!"

Hopefully now you are beginning to get you child(ren) a little excited, a little involved in communicating about what they see. Don't forget to ask about sounds, feelings and smells too. "Can you smell the rain in the air? How about the dust? Do you hear any birds? Are the crickets chirping? Did you know you can tell how hot it is by how quickly the crickets chirp?" Tie in whatever might interest them. Or you. It's all about making connections. There is beauty in science, creativity in math (how can you solve that equation you've never seen before?!), and originality in writing. Art is everywhere.

What next? Break out that box of crayons, those watercolors (get some good ones - more on that later), construction paper and create something inspired by what you saw. YOU create. Don't just give materials to the kids. Don't even make it into an activity that "we'll all do together" unless you are doing it as a class activity. Kids need to see adults participating in the creative process for it to become something of value. Otherwise it is just "something kids do."

This does not necessarily mean draw clouds. This means use that blue you liked from the sky and the gray from the clouds. Let them mix and join with each other. Or make something abstract. Use the fluffiness of the clouds to inspire a world made of fluff. If you want to do clouds, try out some in different colors, and try to shade the colors in rather than drawing a traditional cloud shape. These activities encourage thinking out of the box. We don't want cookie cutter thinking, we want creativity. This may take time, but the example you set will inspire the children around you.

Muddy Feet, Kelly's Etsy shop, carries hemp jewelry and eco friendly toys in a variety of materials. "By giving children beautiful, creative playthings and showing that these are meaningful ideals to ourselves, they will come to treasure these values, develop them and use them in their own lives."

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mini Wednesday - Mama K

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Meet Kari of Mama K  :

I'm a mama of 2 little ones living in Seattle, WA. I started this whole crazy play clay thing while pregnant with my second baby. I was making it so often for my eldest daughter and her friends, and getting so much good feedback I thought why not put it out there and see what happens? So here I am, fledgling play clay maven of Etsy bringing my yummy smelling play clay to the whole wide world!

A wholesome, all-natural addition to play time, Mama K's Play Clay is a kid-safe clay with subtle aromatherapy oils to soothe the mind. Ingredients include gluten free flours, extra virgin olive oil, vegetable colorants and organic essential oils

You can also visit Mama K here as well : and

article by prettydreamer 


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Recipe: Fauxtato Salad

I like the yuca in my Terra Chips a lot (a LOT a lot), but Kat has used this root in a completely different way! For the original post about her twist on a classic, visit Kat's blog.

doesn't that look like potato salad?? well it is not. that, is yuca salad!

i was introduced to yuca by my dear friend tinker. she brought my family cuban food when we were in our babymoon. it was all so scrumptious, but the fried yuca was my favorite. later, when i was off nightshades, we had it again. this time i realized that the yuca was similar in taste & texture to potato.

it took me awhile to get courageous enough to prepare yuca on my own, but i finally did. i bought mine at whole foods, but i imagine i can find it (for less money) at a hispanic market. here, in los angeles, there are many. look for specialty markets in your area first, because wf charged a pretty penny.

preparing the yuca is simple. shave the skin with a sharp knife, or peeler. you then cut the yuca into thick slices, & drop them carefully into a pot of boiling water. keep an eye on the pot; as you would with potatoes; & drain when fork-tender.

at this point i cut the slices into cubes, & stuck the majority into the fridge. the remainder i fried in olive oil, to eat right then, with salt & pepper mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

the next day i tossed the chilled yucca with the ingredients of my mother's potato salad, & voilá! fauxtato salad for those allergic/sensitive to nightshades.

notes: yuca has a hint of sweetness to it. the salad was delicious, but it needed to be tweaked for balance. next time i'd swap the sweet onions for scallions, perhaps add some chopped olives, or a bit of horseradish?? definitely some crushed garlic. great, now i'm hungry. if you prefer a sweet potato salad, like my mil's, then you could just do a straight yuca-for-tater swap.

what is your favorite cuban treat? fried yuca? fried plantains? do tell!

Kats in the Belfry is home to wool crowns, pencil pouches, stuffed chickens and unique peg dolls. Kat says, "i enjoy making toys that inspire creative play. all creations are made from natural materials: fabric, wood, felt, paper. i strive to make things that spark the imagination, feel good in their hands, & are just plain pretty."


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kid Bling By Your NaturalKids Team

A real Sunday Treat: check out these cool Etsy treasuries with items made by our Team. One is fall themed:

Another one has great items for the littlest members in the family. Check out the cute Baby Bling Treasury.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Feature with Dad's Wooden Toys

Today's interview is with our resident poet, Josh, of Dad's Wooden Toys. Enjoy!

Tell us little about yourself!
I am married with 4 wonderful kids
On them I am not taking bids
I have 7 yr old, 2 yr old and 4 yr old twins
each of them special no one of them wins
we live in Michigan just as I did
years ago when I was a kid
My favorite pass times involve the outdoors
that's where I'll be if I'm done with my chores
I love to be with my family camping or hiking
or in our front yard with everyone biking

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
As my name states  "Dads Wooden Toys"
I have play things for both girls and boys
I believe imagination is good
that is why every thing here is all wood
It's natural and nontoxic you see
the way I think more things should be
no chemicals paints or dyes
just wood with out any disguise
My toys are simple yet real
they don't have a cartoony feel
So come take a look at my wood figure zoo
then buy some so you can have wood critters too.

What inspires you?
My kids and their love for all of God's creatures
inspired most of the toys that my shop features
I want for  my kids to actively play
so I avoid toys they would just watch most the day
When you give kids a toy that's hand made
it changes slightly how it gets played.
The toy is a toy but also a reminder
their mind is the actual toy and fun finder
the toy teaches kids that the things they may need
aren't always bought on a treadmill of greed
instead one must give their thinker a chance
to find the solution for their circumstance

What got you started working with wooden toys?
When my wife and I went searching to find
toys that were natural and good for the mind
The toys every where made noise and light
but I think the kids not the toys should be bright
I decided I'd just have to make some instead
Dads Wooden Toys is where all of that led
I started with toys for just my kids
and getting from friends occasional bids
"Your toys should be on Etsy online"
said some whose advice was almost Divine

How long have you been on Etsy, and how has it been for you so far?
I started on Etsy in December 08
My experience I would say has been great
It takes just pennies to open a store
My toys are now seen by people galore
I reached so many places without a sales call
East coast and west coast and no coast at all
I love Etsy for of what it can do
it shows folks my toys the entire globe through
without it I only have so many friends
my income would stop when that list ends

What advice would you have for other Etsians?
I can always think of plenty to say
but there is limited room in this display
I could rant about pricing as I did here
or why competition is reason to cheer
Instead I'll give just this tid bit
do something you love you should enjoy it
getting a sale is the cherry on top
but it is not what gives life or makes it stop
life's greatest joy is in your friends
not how fat your cash roll is when it bends

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
This group of sellers are truly great
every one I consider top rate
I constantly learn from this great crew
daily it seems there is something new
answers to questions I did not yet ask
tips and tricks or advice on a task
a tool or site that will help me to grow
my appreciation I can barely show
I try to contribute what little I know
As others do too even tough answers flow

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
I enjoy the assurance that these toys won't conflict
with the values my family and I want to depict
when buying the latest of a cartoon craze
a parent is tied to the values they praise
if that character lies or sasses its dad
then I promote that to my little lad
The toys in our store don't come from a script
you can rest easy no values are shipped
Our toys come to you, a perfect blank slate
the lessons to learn are yours to create
I also enjoy the comforting fact
that natural toys left long enough stacked
will eventually return into the ground
leaving nothing unhealthy that could be found
many new toys are destined to fill
a garbage dump somewhere disguised as a hill

Is there anything you must have when creating: music, coffee, quiet, etc?
To create, what I need is to be alone.
but, with four kids about who aren't very grown
That doesn't happen until ther're asleep
only then are they still not uttering a peep
Sanders, saw blades, and toddlers don't mix
So it isn't till late that I get my  fix
Of creating new toys to sell you online
I'm up late most nights, but I do not mind


Today's interview by Kat, of kats in the belfry.