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beds, books and donuts

Today’s recipe (and book suggestion) was originally published by Pamela of Prettydreamer on “Wither Will I Wander”.

While under the weather, sick in bed for three weeks (that is, almost the whole month of April) … there was definitely time to read a lot in bed.

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey had it’s chance for a second time around read. This time read by my child who could mostly read this sweet book herself.

Homer Price contains a series of lovely short stories about life for a young boy from the town of Centerburg. The cast of characters includes: a pet skunk, the string savers club, sandwich advertising man, a comic book super hero, a tinkerer and a hermit inventor and the not to be missed latest, modern “time -saving” machines. Like many of McClosky’s books, “Centerburg Tales” shares
that sweet, slow moving time that children live into.

Now about those donuts ….

Having no new-fangled, modern machinery at my disposal and not wanting to fry donuts in a quart of oil …. I came across this wonderful recipe for baked donuts.

They were very tasty and an important way to end reading about “the donuts”.

“Homer pressed the button marked ‘stop’ and there was a little click, but nothing happened . The rings of batter kept right on dropping…gadgets kept right on turning them over…”

Ingredients

  • 7/8 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk or yogurt
Directions

1- Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

2- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, oil and buttermilk or yogurt until foamy.

3- Pour the liquid ingredients all at once into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.

4- Butter or grease the doughnut pan; non-stick pan spray works well here. Note: even though the pan is non-stick, since the doughnuts are low-fat they may stick unless you grease the pan first.

5- Fill each doughnut form half full.

6 – Bake the doughnuts in a preheated 375°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. When done, they’ll spring back when touched lightly, and will be quite brown on the top.

7- Remove the doughnuts from the oven, remove them from the pan, and allow them to cool on rack. If desired, glaze with icing, or dust with cinnamon-sugar or any non-melting sugar.

This recipe is originally from the King Arthur Flour website.

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How to Make Colored Sand.

Hi, I’m Donni from the Etsy shop Fairyfolk and the blog The Magic Onions.
My son, Mr T, insisted on bringing home a bucket of sand from the beach. Unlike me, he loves sand so much and can play with it for hours. He really doesn’t mind if it gets in his hair, his clothes, his bed!
So, to enthuse with this love, we decided to make colored sand.
This is what we needed;
a bucket of sand
a sieve
6 large Ziploc bags
6 colors of foodcoloring
spoons
paper towels
water

all the ingredients we needed for making colored sand

We made little bowls from the Ziplock bags like this…
ziploc bowls for making colored sand
We set our sieve in the Ziploc bowl and filled it with sand.
making colored sand
As the sand was from the beach, it was full of small shells that we wanted to separate from the sand. T loves to sift stuff. He took this job very seriously and meticulously sifted all the shells from the clean sand.
sifting sea sand
We arranged the sand-filled bags on the grass as the next step is to add the food coloring. We wanted to make sure that a mistake did not mean a permanently colored patio!
Granny helped Mr T wet the sand with water from a jug.
how to make colorful sandWe added enough water to make the sand soggy. Too much water will make it hard for the sand to absorb the food coloring.
K joined us for the fun task of adding color to our soggy sand. We added food coloring liberally.
adding food coloring to color sand
Then we zipped up the bags and massaged the color into the sand. K loved the tactile nature of massaging the sand through the bag. It was cool and squishy and made a wonderful scrunching noise if you listened carefully.
using food coloring to color sand
We added different colors to our bags of sand and then laid them flat for 30 minutes to let the sand absorb the color.
colorful sand
Then we turned each bag out onto a couple of sheets of strong paper towels to dry in the sand.
drying colored sand
It dried in a day and was ready for all sorts of fun activities.
our beautiful colored sand
Look at these posts to see what we used our colored sand for.
Blessings and magic.
Donni of Fairyfolk
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Make tissue paper stained glass


This is Jen, from SewnNatural (you can also check out our blog here to see behind the scenes). Today’s Thursday tutorial is a beautiful craft you can do yourself or with your children (far more fun!) I saw this idea on Artful Parent for using tissue paper to create a child’s stained glass window, and I was thoroughly impressed.

What a fantastic little tutorial. I did tweak it, since I won’t buy or use liquid starch because most (all?) commercial brands have formaldehyde (and other noxious stuff) in them. So I decided to try to make my own “liquid starch”. You need a gooey starchy liquid to apply as a sort of glue before, and during the process.

Here is what I made up. I brought 3/4 cup of water to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, I mixed 1 tbsp of cornstarch (which is heavily processed, but this is an art project, not a muffin I decided) into 1/4 cup of cold water. I stirred this cornstarch+water until it was all dissolved. When my stovetop water began to boil, I added in this cornstarch liquid, and stirred for a minute or two, then took it off the heat to cool. I put it in a glass mason jar, and used a regular art paintbrush with it. It worked wonderfully!

To start your stained glass project with your child, take a piece of waxed paper, and tape the corners to your work surface so it won’t easily move and will stay flat as it dries (which can take a number of hours at least).

Then rip up pieces of tissue paper – the more colors, the better.

Next, using a brush, apply a thin coat of the homemade liquid starch onto the waxed paper.

Then take the tissue paper pieces and begin applying them, carefully patting each one down. In our first experiment, we brushed some of the liquid starch onto each piece as we applied it, but we found that added up to far too much starch – a gooey mess that wasn’t necessary for “gluing” and that took far too long to dry.

If the paper gets dry during the process, brush some more on, and then one nice coat at the end seemed to do the trick.

Once it’s dry, it can be hung up in a window, and will surely shime some sweet rainbow light into your home.

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Make tie dyed t-shirts

Today’s how-to is by Liz from The Sitting Tree, a shop filled with her beautiful knitted handmade clothes and much more. Liz says: “I knit anywhere & everywhere, except while riding my bike~have not figured that one out yet.” You can also visit her fabulous blog here. Earlier this spring, Liz had some of these hand tie dyed tshirts for sale in her shop, with a part of the profits from their sale donated to their local food shelf, because hunger knows no season.

How to make tie dyed t-shirts

Instead of dyeing eggs every spring, we tie dye t-shirts. Here’s how we do it::

• Collect t-shirts through out the year from Goodwill and thrift shops. The t’s in the photos were donated to me brand new with the tags still on them!! SCORE~ Some are organic and some are from Old Navy (which ordinarily I wouldn’t use except they were shipped with the others)

• Wash shirts to get rid of all the sizing (do not dry)

• Scrunch the shirts into a ball and wrap with rubber bands

• Mix your dye according to directions (We use Jacquard dyes~ low impact & eco friendly)

• Add 1/4c. vinegar, enough water to cover shirts, and dye to pot (don’t use it again for food)

• Boil until all the color is absorbed into the cotton

• Wash shirts again in hot water and dry on the clothes line

Check out The Sitting Tree on Etsy for lots of beautiful knitted clothes and patterns like these custom-made robin red breast wool shorts overalls.

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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…
Materials:

Scissors
Spare felt pieces
Small tack nails
Cork
Acorn
Needle and thread
Hammer

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!

Enjoy!

Warmly
Linda
Etsy Shop: Mamma4earth 
Blog: Natural Suburbia

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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 tape1) 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 insideof 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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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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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.

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

Tools:
A small handsaw/ coping saw
vice
kidsize or smaller hammer
awl or drill
scissors
sandpaper
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!
www.germandolls.etsy.com
www.germandolls.blogspot.com

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Make your own linen freshener (from your garden)

Today’s all-natural tutorial is by Luisa of DanceInMyGarden, her Etsy shop stocked with beautiful flag buntings, and much more. Gardens in Luisa’s home of Australia are in full bloom, while ours in more northern climates are just getting underway. Now we know what we’ll need to plant this spring to use in our linen fresheners!

How to make your own linen freshener from your garden

You can use this laundry freshener in any room of course,
it has a fresh green herbacous scent, and is fun to make with the kids.
You will need 3 things from your garden, and 2 ingredients from your kitchen pantry.
So here it is…


You will need some lavender


some rosemary


bay leaves


Dry out the leaves and lavender heads, and crush them up in your hands.


Then you need to add some rock salt, and whole black pepper.
You don’t need lots and lots, just a couple of tablespoons of each.
The quantity isn’t important, just wing it.
And buy some cheap rock salt, don’t use your expensive organic salt, like I have done!


Find a nice bowl to put the pot pourri into and voila! You are done.
Now, wasn’t that easy peasy?
If you want you can also add a little orris root powder as a fixative, but I didn’t.


Sweet smelling linen and towels.


Bag up the rest, and save for later, or give-away little bundles wrapped in muslin.

Oh, every now and then, when you go into your laundry cupboard to pick up a fresh item, and you see your little bowl, remember to crush the dried leaves to release their scent.
You could also add some drops of essentials oils of lavender, rosemary, to make it smell a bit stronger, and it will last a lot longer.

What’s in DanceInMyGarden’s handmade shop? Here’s a beautiful bunting, perfect for ushering in spring to our backyards!

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Make Wet-Felted Rainbow Eggs

Wet Felted Rainbow Cracked Egg tutorial by Jen from SewnNatural

Spring brings new babies throughout nature, and the magical, enchanting process of watching wee ones hatch from eggs. There’s a turtle sanctuary on an island near where we live, and my daughter loves discovering the beautiful white eggshells left behind. Here’s how to make a wet felted, rainbow wool egg for gentle play, your nature table and even spring celebrations like Easter and Passover.

You’ll need:
• an egg to wet felt around (we use old marble eggs we have around, you can also use a plastic egg shape, or even a real egg, but I’ve never tried it with a real egg)

• wool roving and various bits of colored feltable wool (Corriedale is one of our favorites, but Merino and others work too)

• organic, non toxic soap

• 2 big bowls of water, or 1 bowl + kitchen sink

• towels to mop up the inevitable spills and to dry the egg afterwards

• a little elbow grease

My daughter says the most enjoyable part of the process is actually choosing the colors for her egg.

Next take your egg shape (we use a small-sized one for the kid projects) and wrap wool roving around it, placing narrow pieces of wool in different directions, wrapping it neither super tighthly, nor super loosely.

It’s far from an exact science, and the felting process will make the apparent “messiness” of the wrapping disappear.

The thicker the wool coat on the egg, the thicker and sturdier your final rainbow egg will be. You should not be able see the egg clearly through the wool (that would mean it’s best to add more wool).

Now hold the wrapped egg in one hand, and have your child (or your other hand) pour some liquid soap right onto it, turning the egg as the soap is applied. I’ve found this to be an easier method to felt the eggs.

I have yet to use too much soap in felting!

Now quickly immerse the egg in hot, hot water. Gently squeeze the soap egg, turning it in your hands (or your child’s hands). Keep the wooly coat on the egg warm by dipping it into the hot water every so often (the warm/hot water relaxes the fibres of the wool which allows for easier felting).

Keep gently squeezing and patting the wool, and as you work and the wool begins to felt you can work it more vigorously. This process take a little bit of time, but the results are well worth it!

Once you begin to feel the fibres felting around the egg, and solidifying somewhat, it’s time to add the “rainbow”. Your child can gently rip off small pieces of colored wool, and place them onto the egg in varying directions.

The wispier and more spread out the wool bits, the better (the more easily they will felt to the woolen egg).

Then pour some soap onto the egg, immerse gently in hot water, and gently squeeze the soapy egg to help felt the rainbow wisps together to the wool roving.

Keep squeezing and rubbing it vigorously in your hands.

You can also use something with texture to help felt the fibers of the wool. I use an old wire rack for this, and roll the egg around on the rack for a few minutes. Then I take it back into my hands, warming up the wool in hot water, and squeeze it some more.

Once you’re done, you can dip it into cold water to help strengthen the felting. The shock of the cold water tightens the fibres.

I wrap the egg in a dishcloth to remove some excess water, and place it near a vent to dry.

Once it’s dry (anywhere from a few hours to a day or so), you or your child can carefully cut the egg open, either in a straight line across the long part of the egg, or a cracked jagged line.

The cut need not extend the length of the egg, just enough to “birth” the egg from it’s woolen coat, so to speak.

You may also choose to blanket stitch the edge of the cracked part of the egg with embroidery thread, but my daughter prefers her “au naturel.”

You can find more how-to’s and eco living articles on our blog, the SewnNaturalstudio.