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BirchLeaf Designs a Farm

Playsilks and Swords and Shields, OH MY! We recently came across a photo of a boy who was not afraid to play. His imagination was wondrous!

Boy who was not afraid to play.
Boy who was not afraid to play.

Wondrous and amazing…very much like this mosaic shield. Made from a blank shield from our shop and then sold at an auction to help raise funds for the Portland Waldorf School in Portland, Oregon.

Mosiac Shield. Photo courtesy Portland Waldorf School.
Mosiac Shield. Photo courtesy Portland Waldorf School.

The mosaic shield reminds me so much of our life…with the family in the center, the heart, the hearth, the fiery life-force. Then, branching off of the heart center are our many activities in which we are involved. Each day is filled with a bit of this and a bit of that…from eating healthy foods, to homeschooling, to farming, to making toys. These past few weeks have found us in the woods. Many blessings are upon us!

Maple Sap is flowing!

Pro Maple sap taster!
Pro Maple sap taster, Kiah.

Little baby chicks are healthy and here!

Baby chicks are a'peepin'.
Baby chicks are a’peepin’.

And little lambs have arrived!

Meet Patience.
Meet Patience.
Kiah and her lamb, Patience.
Kiah and her lamb, Patience.
Milo and his lamb, Temperance.
Milo and his lamb, Temperance.

It only gets livelier from here on out! Garden starts are ready to be planted. Piggies are due to arrive April 20th and bees shortly thereafter. Festivals and art shows are in the not so distant future…which brings us back to our shop…BirchLeaf Designs…Playsilks and Swords and Shields, OH MY…

Wendy, Mojo and their 2 children, Kiah and Milo live, homeschool, farm, and make toys off the grid near Marquette, Michigan. Please visit their shops at and

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Lip Balm recipe and how to

At this time of the year, my lips crack like crazy. It’s very painful, and certainly not beautiful. After buying some fancy homemade balm, and getting them eaten by my kids, I decided to make it myself a try. I’ve looked around on the internet for recipes and made up my own based on those and on what I had on hand.

What you will need:

1½oz of beewax, grated

10z of coconut oil

1 Tsp of Lanolin

1 Tsp of sweet almond oil

10 drops of peppermint oil

A sauce pan

A glass/metal cup


Wooden or metal stick

2 oz jar


What you need to do:

1. Put all ingrediants into glass cup except the essential oil. Put water in sauce pan and put the cup in them, making you a bain-marie.

2.Still with the stick until everything looks homogenus.

3.Remove from heat and stir in your essential oil.

4.Pour into jar.

5.Wait a little for it to harden

6. Enjoy the relief!

It’s very easy to make and I’m happy that I tried. Please tell me if you try this recipe!

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Making Homemade Skin Balm

We use this exclusively in our house for moisturising our skin. It’s made of 3 natural ingredients and very good for you!

The ingredients are:

3/4c beeswax, grated (approx 2x 30g/1oz bars of beeswax)
1c mild olive oil
1/4c coconut oil

1. Grate the beeswax on a cheese grater.
2. Put the oils and the beeswax in a double boiler/bain marie on the stove. This is really just a pot of some water with another pot inside it, so the oils don’t burn. Put the oils in the empty pot which is on top of the pot with water.
3. Heat on low until all melted.  (You could also just melt them in the microwave in a glass measuring jug.)
4. Let cool a minute or so, then pour into jars. The mixture will become more solid as it cools in the jars.

This recipe makes about 2x 200ml jars of skin balm.  Great for dry, winter skin!

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Get rid of Lice Naturally

Our family has been afflicted by very unpleasant companions last month. Well, those with long hair did, and the boys remainded lice-less except for one little guy on Papa’s head. We got rid of it naturally, whitout any chemicals. If you don’t want to use the shampoo from the drugstore (which is not that effective anyway) There’s pretty much 2 ways. A friend of mine and all her kids got them in the same time as us, and she decided to shave everyone’s head. But my hair doesn’t grow 2 inches a month like her, so I decided to take the somewhat less effective way. Here’s the methods I’ve tried and their results for me and my daughter:

1. Covering your head with oil (I used almond oil) and letting it sit overnight.

I don’t know how many I had on my head, but after that precedure I still had about 15 lices when we passed the metal comb. The eggs were falling off easily, thought – and there was so many of them!

2. Shampoo with vinegar +added EO (I used Tea tree, minth, lavender and Geranium)

The point of using vinegar or oil is to drown the lice, because they have a special dispositive not to drown in water and oil or vinegar makes it shot down for good. My hairs were really, really clean after that! But we still found a lot of eggs and 2-3 living lice.

3. Pass the metal comb, twice or thrice a day.

I beleive this is what was the most effective, more then shampooing our hairs with anything. It’s important to use a metal one since they are the ones that will unlodge the eggs.


We’ve been lice-free for more then a week now. Hope this helps!

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Herbal Tummy Tea Recipe

When my children complain of tummy aches, like most things, I prefer to reach for a natural home remedy. There’s an herb for just about any complaint and many to soothe upset  stomachs. Some you may have growing in your own garden, some you may find growing wildly. Dried herbs may also be purchased from your local health food store or online through a source like Mountain Rose Herbs. If you are gathering from the wild, please do take care that you can properly identify a plant before you harvest it.
For a children’s tea I use about a 1/4 teaspoon of each of the following herbs. You don’t have to have all of them, just use which ones you have.

Mexican Tarragon (has a lovely anise taste)

Lemon Balm


Mint ( I use wild growing Mountain Mint)



Pour boiling water over the herbs and allow them to steep for about 15 minutes. For loose herbs I like to use my mini french press. A reusable tea bag or tea ball would work as well. Strain and sweeten with honey, if desired.

My children really enjoy the taste of this mellow tea and it never fails to settle their tummies. Do you have any natural remedies for tummy aches?

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Make it yourself: Toothpaste

One of the reason I hated to brush my teeth as a kid was the taste. Synthetic mint that leaves your mouth almost burned and aseptic never felt good to me, and the huge toothbrush made me gag (I’m still using kid sized one, I have a little mouth!). I stumbled upon a recipe for homemade toothpaste on pinterest once and tried it that very night after. After making it several times and adjusting it to my taste, I have for you my somewhat “final” recipe. It’s VERY easy to make, you’ll see!

You need:

  • A tea spoon of baking soda
  • 2 tea spoon of coconut oil
  • 2-3 tea spoon of cinnamon, or cinnamon essential oil (add drops to your taste), or mint oil, whatever fits your taste.

You mix with a fork and it’s really do use!

It seems a little but for my 4 person family it last a week. You don’t need lot on your brush. You get used really fast to the texture and salty taste.

And your teeth feel clean afterwards, without the aggressive aftertaste of commercial products. You can add stevia powder for remineralization of the teeth.

Of course there are some people who don’t agree with making your own toothpaste, so please inform yourself to make an informed choice if you want to use it.

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sharing the work










aprons for us all


the smallest things are not lost on our children. they have been watching our actions since the day they were born …how we talk, how we move, even the smallest blink of our eyes, they  are taking note

with fresh eyes taking in all sorts of details to map out this new world of theirs

sometimes it strikes me as funny, that these little people play at what we call work…

if only we would grow and find the same fun, in sweeping the floor, dusting the shelves and hanging the laundry

alongside us they find their place to work and grow through the day and years….
















now off to garden we two go to see what might have  come up…










hello,  I am Pamela of  prettydreamer.   I am mama to a lovely prettydreamer  of my own.  I am still in love with toys,  storybooks and fairy tales of all kind.  I love trees, rocks, maps and unknown places and stumbling upon ideas turned upside-down, folk hands  and honest traditions that run deep and all the other friendly playful things that function or are simply made to bring joy



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Helping Garden Friends For Earth Day

The celebration of Earth Day and the gift of Spring it is a wonderful time to focus on what I call “garden friends” with family and friends. These are the creatures that Mother Nature created to keep balance, health & harmony in our garden and yards and beyond. Learning about them and being aware of them fosters understanding and compassion towards the Earth we are all a part of.

Wild life such as the common songbirds, that can even be found in urban areas, and native toads found in more rural areas are tremendously helpful to all yards and gardens. And on the smaller side, lady bugs, praying mantis & dragon flies do their part in consuming harmful bugs and garden pests as well. Honey bees, native bees & butterflies pollinate our crops for us. It is always nice for children to learn about how helpful insects can be and to respect them and care for them. The experience of watching a pair of House Wrens build a nest, sit on the next and feed their young until they leave the nest is something they will always remember. They can watch how busy mother and father wren are, collecting insects to feed the young. When children learn about these creatures at an early age, to love and respect them and think of them as friends, it establishes a life long relationship with nature and a sense of being apart of this greater family.

To help establish this awareness and care, there are simple things families can do to participate in the support and longevity of these creatures. It is very important to find a balance of this kind of activity so that human intervention does not create a co-dependency of wild life on mankind, but rather encourages them to care for themselves naturally by supporting and protecting a healthy wild life habitat. A simple example of this would be feeding the birds. It is better to plant flowers and vegetables that are favored by the birds, such sunflowers, coneflowers, rudbeckias and elderberries instead of putting out commercial birdseed regularly. I only put out birdseed in deep winter when there is snow on the ground. Sometimes birds that should have migrated south & do not, like robins, need our help to get through the winter. Over all want to make wild life strong, but not dependent on us. We want to protect and create ideal habitat for them so they can prosper. Human development of homes and commercialization of land is one of the main problems for loss of natural habitat. Many common birds are what are called “cavity dwelling “ birds and their natural habitat is a hollow tree. As one can imagine, there are fewer and fewer hollow trees. We can help remedy this situation by putting up birdhouses, often called “ nesting boxes” or “bird boxes”, all being the same idea. This is a tremendous help to native bird populations and has helped bring back our native bluebird populations. The important note here is that the bird house is of the right dimension and design and mounted in the proper way. This information is readily available on line and in books. In a similar vein, nesting boxes can be put up for native bees, which are also called solitary bees. They are great pollinators and are very non-aggressive and do not live in hives. A native bee house can be hung in an orchard to great benefit of all. Houses and water can also be put out for our native toad population. Often referred to as the “the gardeners greatest friend” the common toad, harmless to all but the bugs— will consume literally thousands of bug a month. Native toads were once everywhere, have diminished from disease The toads diet includes all of our gardens greatest pests, such as earwigs, snails, slugs, squash and rose beetles, flies and many more!They feed mostly at night and only need a small water source for soaking in, such as a pot tray or crockery dish. Toads respond to human kindness in amazing ways, even learning to come when called for a bit to eat. They live 35 yrs or more in the same place and always come back to it after winter hibernation. To help toads we can create habitats for them with a water source, a house or place for them to dwell and lots of plants for them to find food around. My experience has always been that when I created a toad habitat, with water, vegetation, shady places, etc. toads would always come! Imagine the the excitement!

I will be going into more detail of how to create habitats for these garden friends in future postings! Please feel free to contact me with questions.


For further learning you can go here: Garden Toad Watch.




Lucinda Macy has been making delightful, functional & eco friendly homes out of found wood and recycled materials for many years…….time tested and loved by all. To learn more please visit her websites;




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A Year in the Garden, Part 3

My seedlings are growing strong inside and all signs of freezing night weather have passed, so it’s time to plant my cool weather crops outside! I’m very excited in case you couldn’t tell. Earth Day activities always get me in the mood for planting and gardening in general.

In our family, we eat a big salad every day and we like a variety of baby greens, so we are planning to plant spinach and 3 kinds of lettuce this year. As I mentioned a few posts ago, last year I finally reclaimed a prime area of our yard for my garden. We follow the Square Foot Garden methodology by Mel Bartholomew. I highly recommend his book if you like to garden and are short on space. Heck, even with 3 acres, we use this method, as it’s easy peasy and pretty darn fool proof. Last year was the labor-intensive year, as we had to build our raised beds and mix our soil. This year, I get to reap the rewards though as my garden is ready to plant with no work needed at all. I merely evened out the soil with my hands and the beds were ready for seeds.

So lets get started! With the amount of lettuce we go through, I have an entire 4’x5’ bed dedicated to lettuces and spinach. That bed isn’t divided into 1’x1′ squares like my other beds. That’s because I plant a whole row of each lettuce type and I find it easy this way given that the bed is dedicated to lettuces. I also planted 4 other square feet with lettuce since it will be a few months before the summer watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkin crops can be planted there.

Lettuce seeds are tiny, so it’s hard to sow just one in each hole for planting. Never fear, you can cut the weaker ones that sprout once you see what it coming up. I’ve even had good luck transplanting little seedlings to other spots where a seed failed to sprout. This is a great thing to get the kids involved with too. Every child can drop seeds into the holes, no matter the age. My 8 year old pokes the holes, and the 5 and 3 year olds drop in the seeds.

I have a sprinkler set up in the garden and hooked to the hose is a timer so the seeds can get daily water, but not too much. I’m eventually going to do a drip irrigation system in the garden hooked up to a rain barrel to maximize our water conservation efforts, but that’s for another year. 

When it gets a bit warmer, we’ll plant more of the garden, some summer crops this time. I’m itching to get the tomatoes and peppers that I’ve started into the ground, they are all growing indoors quite nicely.

Now is a great time too to firm up your garden plans, and decide what you are planting and where it should go. Don’t forget some flowers too, they are great for attracting bees, and annuals like marigolds are good deterrents for aphids and other bugs that you don’t want in the garden.

Kristi Ashley is a homeschooling mom of three who spends time in the garden or hiking nearby her Hudson Valley, New York home. She is fabric artist, amateur photographer, scrapbooker and avid reader. Find her work and blog at Tickety Bu.

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Never Ending Onion Dip

This is one of our families New Favorite recipes. It is very simple, 3 ingredients, and super yum! It is also a great treat to serve on Earth Day. We love this with raw veggies but it is also good on chips.


Never Ending Onion Dip


1 Bunch of Green Onions ( tops only)

2 cups of sour cream

Sea Salt to taste


Finely chop green onions. Mix in sour cream. Salt to taste



Now here is the never ending part. Take the onion bottoms and add then to a recycled jar ( we used jelly jars ) half filled with marbles, find out about my Marble Relocation Program here. Fill water only to the top of the marble level. Place jar in a sunny window and the green tops will keep growing back!! We have several jars going at the same time and just cut off what we need with scissors.

What could be more EARTHY on Earth day, we recycled and reused!! ENJOY!



Article written by Beccijo. Find her creations at The Enchanted Cupboard and blogging here.