This page has moved to a new address.

Natural Kids

Natural Kids: December 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Not -Too- Noisy Noise Maker Tutorial

This week's How-To is a Not-Too-Noisy Noise Maker Tutorial by Natalie from Woolhalla.

With New Year's Eve just around the corner I wanted to create a noise maker, but decided on a not-too-noisy variety (I'm sure I'm not the only one who appreciates a little peace & quiet!). Here's what it looks like:
Wool Felt covered tube with 'noisy stuff' to shake inside.

For this tutorial you'll need: (1) a tube (mine is a poster tube end 3 x 5 "/10 x 15 cm), you can use paper towel tube, empty wrapping paper tube, etc. (2) some carton or construction paper for ends. (3) tape. (4)paper scissors. (5) pencil. (6) wool felt [mine is marine blue & yellow]. (7) noisy stuff, I used some stale popcorn. Hard beans and that sort of thing work great too. (8) sewing supplies incl. thread, pin, needle, scissors, etc.
If you don't have any wool felt you can do the steps until covering with felt and substitute for paper. You can glue the paper on.

Place the end of your tube on the carton or construction paper. Trace around it with pencil. Then make the circle larger by about an inch (2 cm) and cut out.

Cut little triangular wedges in from the outer edge to the original traced circle.
Place on one end of the tube, fold the cut sides down over the tube. Tape. Use lots of tape to hold down, you don't want your ends popping up.

Add noise making substance. I used about a quarter cup of popcorn. You want it to be able to move around and make noise, so don't overload!
The put the other end on the same way you made the first end.

Cut a piece of felt the length of your tube, making sure it will fit all the way around. Trace the ends of the tube onto the felt and cut around to make two round ends. Start decorating your felt covering! I chose a star, and the template is below to print out.

I also added some backstitches with embroidery floss to make it look more like a shooting star.

Put the felt piece over the tube and blanket stitch in place. Once the felt tube is on put your round felt end pieces on and blanket stitch around. That's it! All done!!

Star template to print out

Here is mine all done. Already thinking of making some in other colours...

This tutorial is brought to you by Natalie, of Woolhalla (my shop).
You can also visit my blog at: Woolhalla

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mini Wenesday - Harvest Moon by Hand


Meet  Ann of  Harvest  Moon by Hand  :

I am a stay-at-home mom who homeschools my two daughters (ages 9 and 7). Both of my daughters were born in China, and adopted at 11 months and 10 months respectively.

My approach to homeschooling is rather eclectic - combining Waldorf, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, and unit study approaches. This combination works well with both daughters. Harvest Moon by Hand offers some of the items that I have created for an at-home learning environment.

I have always enjoyed crafting – especially embroidery, needle-felting, needlepoint, crocheting, and cross-stitching. I hope to pass the joy I feel when I craft along to those who purchase my items.

Because both my daughters love to play and use their imagination, I have been making more of their toys and quilts by hand – all from natural materials (primarily wool and cotton). We also enjoy decorating the windows with colorful window stars and creating seasonal nature tables for them.

Knowing they have quality, safe (and lead-free) toys and quilts is important. My hope is that the toys last and can be passed along to their children…thereby becoming family heirlooms.

article by prettydreamer  


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Healthy Carrots and Apple Salad

I don't know about you, but over here it's about high time to lay off the sugar and get the family back on the right track after all the Christmas snacking and unhealthy eating that comes with the season. New Year is coming and with it the resolutions - plans to lose those extra pounds we put on... So if you need a recipe that is both healthy and loved by children try this one:

You need only a few items:

  • carrots
  • apples
  • raisins
  • chopped nuts or almonds
  • lemon juice
  • honey
  • apple cider vinegar
  • vegetable oil
  • pepper and salt

I am not giving any measurements here. Our kids love this salad which is commonly known as a "Rohkostsalat" = in translation raw foods salad - in Germany. They make it on their own by just throwing the above ingredients together as they please...

Of course, the apples and carrots need to be washed, peeled, and grated. But once that is done, it's just up to the chef to add other things. Throw in a couple of handfuls of chopped nuts. If you love raisins, like we do, put in a few tablespoons of those. Add a bit of lemon juice to keep the apples from turning brown and some honey for sweetening.

This salad makes a lovely snack or refreshing side dish for any occasion! Best of all: you can tell the kids to make it on their own! That is, if they are old enough to use a peeler and grating tool!

Labels: ,

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday Treasury - Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday Feature with Meadowsweet Organics

Today's interview is with a new member! Meet Laura, of Meadowsweet Organics. Enjoy!

Tell us little about yourself!

My name is Laura Harris and I live on the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador (most easterly province of Canada) with my husband and two children ages 4 and 7.  After studying Visual Arts, French and Education in university I went on to teach full-time in the public school system. Once my husband and I started our family I decided to stay home to be with our children. During this time I have been able to once again nurture my creative side by taking up sewing, designing and crafting for children and by reflecting on and cherishing our home life through my blog,

What do you make and how long have you been creating?

I design and sew toys, accessories and clothing from organic cotton for children and have been doing so for about the past three years.

What inspires you?

My time at home with my children has been a real creative renewal for me. Children are so naturally creative and everything is such a wonder for them that you can’t help but feel inspired. It brings you back to that time when you didn’t feel any inhibitions, you just created for the pleasure that you got from it.

What got you started working with Organic Cotton?

A few years ago when I started to learn about the importance of eating organic and local for the health of our families and environment, I began to think in these terms about our clothing as well. When I
learned that cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world, it seemed that going local and organic with our clothing would make a lot of sense as well. When I started to look for local and
organic clothing I became somewhat discouraged as I soon discovered (at that time) it simply did not exist. Then I discovered Harmony Art’s line of organic cotton fabrics. Her colorful and bold
nature-inspired designs immediately appealed to me and opened up the whole world of organic fabrics to me. I was so encouraged that there were people out that shared my concerns that it spurred me on to
finally take that bold step of teaching myself to sew.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?

I began on Etsy in 2008 with my first shop, Handmade Naturals. Earlier this year I became Meadowsweet Organics. Etsy has been great for me as it has provided me with a creative outlet that fits in well with my stay-at-home lifestyle. I have also found so many artists and designers through Etsy that inspire me as well. I still see myself in development so no, I’m not making a living from my shop yet, but it is helping me to grow creatively and to interact with others about my

What advice would you have for other Etsians?

Well, the good thing about Etsy is that it can fit into your life however you need it to. Honour your hard work by presenting it with beautiful photographs and value your time as well by not underpricing
your work. If you don’t value your time, no one else will either.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?

Meeting and connecting with likeminded people is one of the main reasons I joined Natural Kids. Working from home on your own can at times be a little isolating so I think joining Natural Kids will help open up a new world for me in that way. Perhaps I can provide some insight with the experiences I’ve had, and I hope to gain that from others as well.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?

I think that children are naturally creative, we just have to provide them the time and the space to play that out. Opt for open ended play when you can as opposed to prescribed play. As for the importance of natural toys, they are just so much safer for our children and help to an appreciation of our natural environment. I think this appreciation helps to make us more grounded and happier as people. I
can not think of a better gift to give a child.

Your links?

Thank you, Laura!
Today's interview was by Kat, of kats in the belfry.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last Minute Door Decoration Tutorial

This week's How-To is a Last Minute Door Decoration Tutorial by Natalie from Woolhalla.
That's right... it's just a few days before Christmas and I've been so busy I haven't done much decorating. This is a simple decoration that I like to do each year, and I just started it this morning (yes, today!) and you can too. If you have access to some trees you can cut, tools to cut, and somewhere to hang what you've cut you can make this decoration in a flash. Then you can add small decorations you have already or make a few small ones to add. Below is a template for a simple FELT GNOME that you or your kids can make to add. Remember, this is supposed to be a fast, fun and easy activity... that's why we don't have our glue guns out!
My front door already has a hook screwed in as I like to hang up things all year round. So put a screw or nail in your door for this if you don't have one. If you're door isn't wood or you can't put something in it, get creative with tape and fishing wire or string.
My door also has splotches from wet tennis balls my kids shoot at it while playing hockey.... oh well!!
Tools you might need. I didn't need the little saw, but if your branch is thicker than your pruners can handle a saw will do the trick.
Here's a lovely fir branch under the snow. It has a fork in the end of it. Other trees that work well are cedar and holly. Use what you have, what you can find, and what you're allowed to cut!
Branch shaken off a little before cutting.
I like to make an offering to the tree I am taking part of. This tree is in my yard and I love looking at it each day, watching birds sit in it, and am very thankful for its beauty and oxygen making :o) Thank You Fir Tree!
After cutting I hang the branch up on the screw on the door. Not only does it look lovely, it covers up those pesky tennis ball splotches!
Depending on your piece of branch you may already have enough decoration already provided by mother nature.
In my case I'd like to add some decorations. Pictured above is a felt gnome I had from last year ready to hang. As the day goes on I'll maybe make some stars or my kids might make some items to hang up. Small tree ornaments always look great too.
Here is a pattern to make your own little felt gnome. You might want to cut the face opening up more for a larger face. You can enlarge the template for bigger gnomes.
To make a gnome: 1) Cut the paper template out. 2) Cut a the shape out of felt with the template. 3) Fold the shape in half (one side will be straight, the other will have the face openings lined up). 4) Sew the top angled piece, which is the hat section. 5) sew the straight piece below the face opening. 5) DO NOT sew the face opening or the bottom, just leave them open. 6) Take a piece of wool roving, a few inches long, fold it in half. Insert it in the bottom of the gnome, pushing up past the face and into the hat. If you don't have enough wool to fill out your gnome, just pluck it out, add more wool and restuff. 7) To give your gnome more definition gather a thread around the 'neck', this is just under the face opening. Pull gently and knot off. 8) Stitch a thread through the peak of the hat to hang. 9) Hang your cute little gnomes up!!

Happy holidays everyone! Hope you have fun decorating!!

This tutorial is brought to you by Natalie, of Woolhalla.
You can also visit my blog at: Woolhalla

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mini Wednesday - Woolhalla


Meet Natalie of  Woolhalla :

With the risk of being struck by a thunderbolt from Thor... the name Woolhalla is a play on the heavenly home of the gods/godesses Valhalla. When I look out my front window across the lake nearby I can see Mt. Loki, named after one of the Norse gods.

For over 10 years I have been making dolls and other creations from natural materials as well as running Bear Dance Crafts. I am a work-at-home mom with three children. I live in a small town in the mountains where I am inspired by the beauty around me. My interests include crafting, dance, reading, films, roller derby and more. 

For my wool felt, doll making supplies, kits and patterns you can also see Natalie's other shop Bear Dance Crafts.

article by prettydreamer  


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christstollen - A Recipe for The Oldest German Christmas Pastry

Christstollen, the Christ Loaf, is the oldest German Christmas pastry - made to resemble the Christchild in his swaddling cloths. Unfortunately there are not too many people in the US who know about it. Lebkuchen has become the standard sweet that people think of when they think of Germany and Christmas. So I wanted to introduce some more people to this wonderful traditional bread.

Are you READY? First you may want to ask yourself: Do I really have time for this project, in the midst of the Christmas insanity, in the middle of writing & mailing out cards, buying & wrapping gifts, taking your kids to Christmas concerts and Nutcracker performances? Are you sure about this?

Well, if your answer is "Yes", you should start shopping for these items now! Might take you a while to scout for the ingredients:

For >>the<< recipe you need:

  • 1 kg flour

  • 450 g butter

  • 1/2 liter warm milk

  • 200 g sugar

  • 100 g of fresh yeast (ca. 5 tsp of dry yeast)

  • 10 g salt

  • spices: 1 tsp each of ginger powder, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg

  • pinch of ground cloves

  • zest of one lemon

  • 100 ml rum (whenever I am not looking my husband adds more to the bowl...)

  • 500 g raisins

  • 150 g corinths (small kind of raisins, I found them at Sprouts)

  • 200 g almond flour

  • 150 g candied lemon peel

  • 150 g candied orange peel

  • logs of marzipan, if you are feeling rich buy 2-3 (You know they keep that stuff hidden in the baking section at the grocery store, I swear. Usually I find it behind a display of some sort on the bottom of the shelves...Make sure you squeeze the package to ensure its freshness. If the paste inside the cardboard and wrapper are rock hard and won't give, don't purchase! Grab the next package and repeat till you find one that is squeezable. Sorry, but I came home many a time with old marzipan. I guess not too many people buy that stuff)

  • 100 g butter

  • powdered sugar

  • Vanilla sugar ( impossible to find in this nation - find a long lost relative in Germany and have them mail it to you!)

Step 1 Put raisins, corinths, chopped candied citrus fruit peel, almond flour, rum, lemon zest in a bowl and soak over night or for a longer time in the refrigerator. Monitor husband and rumbottle closely!

Step 2 Make the pre-dough. put flour in a bowl and make a little well. In the well put a few tablespoons of lukewarm milk mixed with the yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Stir taking small amounts of the flour from the side of your well. Cover with a dusting of flour, put a towel over the bowl, and let it rest in a warm non-drafty place ( are you kiddin' me? there is no non-drafty place when you live in an old house ) for 45 minutes. During that time you can work on those last Christmas cards for the uncle and aunt in Germany you forgot...

Step 3 Go back to your dough and see if any rising action took place. If not, write more cards or wrap another gift. Maybe you could mail that last package to a customer. By now the lines at the post office might be too long.But you got time! If the dough has risen, once you return from your errand, add the rest of the warm milk, spices, butter, sugar, and mix all of in with the flour. You know the real German Hausfrau has big arms from doing this. It's hard labor to move these mountains of stuff and kneed them together. Luckily I own a kitchen aid. My scrawny arms could never manage this. So hopefully you have one of those miracle tools, too! Once everything is nicely mixed together into a sticky ball of dough, let it sit and rise for another hour. During that time you could run out and buy another gift for your husband. If he is deserving...

Step 4 Hopefully you have removed the soaking fruits from the refrigerator - so the warm yeasty dough doesn't suffer too much of a shock from the cold fruit mixture! Your bowl is probably too full already. But you can take out batches of the dough and kneed in the fruit mixture by hand. I like to do it that way because you get a feel for how sticky the dough is. Maybe you want to add some more flour...

Step 5 Make loaves. Split the dough into parts, depending on how many loaves you want to make. I usually make one larger loaf and two small ones. But you can do whatever you want. Roll out the first batch of dough flat. Take the marzipan log out of its package, sprinkle some powdered sugar on your workspace and roll out the marzipan as flat as you can. Move the marzipan over on top of your rolled out yeasty dough pieces and roll the two layers together. Sort of like making a jelly roll. Shape the roll into a nice loaf and place onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Start working on the next loaf. You can bake more than one loaf on a cookie sheet! Put towel over the finished loaves and set them in warm place to rise again! Is it Christmas yet? =)

Step 6 I promise you are almost there...Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit while the loaves are rising once again. Bake them until they are cooked all the way through. Now this is the tricky part. In case you thought the rest was hard... Maybe it's living at high altitude that messes me up each year. Sometime I end up with loaves that are way too dry. Other times they are still sticky despite the fact that I stuck in a knitting needle and tested them. It's really kind of hit or miss. I have baked them for 35 -45 minutes. But I am hoping some day mine will turn out as perfect as my mother's. Sigh!

Step 7 It's the last one I promise, honestly! As soon as the loaves come out of the oven brush the hot loaves with melted butter and sprinkle with vanilla and powdered sugar. Does it look like baby Jesus in his swaddling cloths? Good job! Once they have cooled down wrap the precious loaves tightly, put a bow on them, and give them to a person who has been good to you all year. Or feed them to the family right then! They are probably tired of waiting around for you since you spent most of the day in the kitchen...

If you would like to know more about the history of this traditional German bread please read this blog post from my personal blog here.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, December 20, 2010

Kid Craft: Wrap it Up

We all know presentation is everything.

Try using yarn instead of ribbon for some of your presents this year. I crocheted my thicker cord (the one with the raffia) because it's faster, but Bugs and Fishes has some tips and tricks for braided cords (much more kid-friendly than crochet) all wrapped up in a little tutorial in time for the holidays.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Treasury: Ready to Ship Gifts!

'Ready to Ship gifts for kids' by EvesLittleEarthlings

A collection of gifts for kids, all natural and made with love!

CUSTOM Cotton Play ...


Wee Pocketbaby, Bab...

Small Stocking Stuf...

Mushroom House

Wonderful Woodland ...

Gift Certificate - ...

Up-cycled Wool Sky ...

RESERVED for payann...

Sweet little travel...

Wooden Stacker Toy ...

birthday tiara - cr...

Gift Certificate, ...

Large Stocking Stuf...

Gift Certificates f...

Generated using Treasury HTML code generator by Whale Shark Websites.