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Marking Seasonal Transitions

As we begin to enter yet another seasonal shift, transition has been on my mind. In many subtle ways we shift easily into one season and out of another, with a change of clothing, adjustment of temperature in our homes, perhaps a new variety of foods grace our tables. But, how are you celebrating and marking the seasonal shifts with your children? Are you bringing their attention to signs and changes? Are you making them aware of how these shifts affect them in their own spirits? All too often we are disconnected from the natural world and we loose sight of what it all means and how it really affects us. We are unprepared for the pull of the season on our spirit and loose our balance with nature.

A dear friend wrote to me recently, stumped on marking the seasonal transitions and making them meaningful for her family. I gave this much thought and wrote back to her with some different ways we bring focus to the changing seasons in my home. I would like to share some of the points of my letter to her with you here.

Right now in the northern hemisphere we are about to go into Autumn. The equinox is on the 23rd of September. But how about beginning some preparations now? In our home we have a nature shelf. We don’t have space for a table and my toddler would make it impossible to have one right now, anyway. A shelf, placed in a focal spot of the home, is a good alternative. Make sure your children, that you feel are old enough to handle things gently and respectfully, are able to reach it so that they may contribute little things they find as they want to.

On it we place any items that represent the season to us. Some are items we buy or mama makes, but much of it is things my girls and I have made together or we have found when gathering.  You could begin by going out for gathering expeditions. Gather up and encourage your children to do the same, anything you think speaks of autumn and you could use in crafting.  The Children’s Year is an excellent resource for seasonal crafts.
You can go ahead and begin creating things together for your nature table (or shelf), putting them aside until fall is actually here. For my own children this builds up an excitement and awareness of the changing season and they keep  wondering ‘Is Fall here, yet?’ Going out and gathering, looking for certain things that say fall to them make them eagerly on the lookout for the subtle changes that occur.

On the night before the equinox or solstice I pull everything from our shelf, so, when they wake in the morning it’s ready to be filled with all of the things we have been collecting and making. It’s such a joy to see all of the new things up and things that I have purchased or made without showing it to them previously, that they are not sad to see the other things go away.

Also, I have explained to my children what is occurring with the sun (waning days) and during the various times of the yr, as they wax and wan, my girls  have become very aware of this. Even with young children you can talk to them about it in the simplest of terms just to make them aware. Maybe say something at a certain point each evening (dinner?) about where the sun is that day and eventually they will catch on that the days have gotten shorter or longer. It could become a little ritual. The point is, to draw their attention to these seasonal changes so they can experience them and be connected.
Another way we mark the transition is through food. I’ve mentioned here before, for breakfast we have eggs and toast one day and oatmeal the next, and we go back and forth. Once or twice a week we change it up with muffins or biscuits or fruit smoothies… things like that. But as the seasons shift I like to include something very seasonally specific. Such as, often with our muffins this summer we put berries in them, strawberries, blueberries. For fall we will make apple muffins, letting the girls help me chop and I always love to do just about anything with pumpkin! Just little additions that bring a little bit of the season to the table.

Gentle, subtle changes in your home are going to make your children aware of the changes that are occurring and will help your whole family find balance with nature.

There is a part two to my letter to my friend, a few thought on seasonal festivities and how we can relate to them, regardless of religious/spiritual leanings. I will be sure to follow up with that  next week.


Julie Hunter is a single mama raising 3 spirited girls, two babydoll sheep, angora rabbits and a gaggle of chickens and ducks in the North Carolina Foothills. She spends her days at home, crafting with her children, homeschooling, taking long gathering walks in the woods and knitting Waldorf-inspired toys. You can find her blogging and keeping shop at This Cosy Life.

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What’s New, and, Well, Natural from the Natural Kids Team on Etsy

Welcome! I continue my trek backwards through the alphabet to bring to you the most wonderful and imaginative treasures. They are all handmade with natural materials from…yes! the NaturalKids Team on Etsy! This week, we feature wonderful variety of artist from who have one thing in common – they all work with natural materials!

Chimera   is the home of wool felt toys, roving and handspun yarn, accessories for knitters and spinners. Great gifts for your fiber loving friends!  Hailing from New Jersey, Kersin says, “I’ve been playing with fiber and crafting my entire life. Wool is my favorite material because it is so versatile. With wool I can make a silky scarf, spin colorful yarn, sculpt a landscape or felt a durable rug. Adding to the fun is the ability to dye wool any colors I choose, and to add in other fibers to create something truly unique.” Here is her latest…The Secret Cave Needle Felted Playmat.
 BostonBeanies specializes in practical and whimsical baby hats from, well, beantown. Rebecca is of course from Boston, and in her words, “I started knitting in grad school to keep my fingers busy so I could concentrate on the lectures. My friends got sick of me giving them scarves as gifts all the time, and then they started getting married and having babies, so I started making gifts for the next generation. I love the creative outlet of designing my own hats, and as a children’s librarian, I love the connection of wearable art and picture book art. So take a look, and enjoy a bit of whimsy!” Here is her Boston Beanies Knit Lavender Blossom Hat.

Wendy, of Birchleaf Designs in Michigan, offers you whimisical, natural wood and fabric playthings and some housewares as well. Everything from silks to swords…her shop is a real treasure trove of natural goodies from a business run by a family that literally lives off the grid! Here is her newest offering…the Reusable, Replayable, Rewrappable Trio of Playsilks for Spring!  
Those are the featured new items for this week, from one of a kind needle felted treasures, to lovely baby hat to play silks, all from natural materials and from the hands of folks who love nature, children and open ended toys. This is just a small sample of the quality and variety our customers enjoy from the fine crafters and artists of the NaturalKids team.

Thanks for joining us this week and please do return again next Monday as we continue to feature all the wonderful members of the Naturakids team on Etsy! Til then, I invite you to browse all our wonderful shops.

Rebecca aka Nushkie
Nushkie on Facebook

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How To: Make an Autumn Wreath

Once again, Donni of The Magic Onions has created a beautiful, seasonal tutorial. You can view the original post with even more of her stunning pictures here.

Our door says… WELCOME AUTUMN!

One of the ways we notice the changing of the season in our home is to make and decorated a door wreath for each season. As we collect the nature bits for it, we talk about how our world is changing with the new season. We talk about what we loved about the outgoing season, what we will miss about it and what we look forward to when it returns. As we make our new wreath, we talk about what the new season means to us, what new things we see around us, what other new things we will expect to see. This is one of the ways my children and I notice and ‘feel’ the seasons.

Today, we made our Autumn wreath.

We started with
* straw wreath (from a craft store)
* Autumn looking fabric
* Scissors
* hot glue gun
* nature bits collected from the world around us
* red wood beads (from my necklace that broke)

Kitty cut the fabric into strips. Each strip was about 2 inches wide and as long as you want (ours was about 18 inches long). I put a glob of glue onto the wreath from my hot glue gun. We stuck one end of a fabric strip to the wreath.

Then we wound the fabric tightly around the straw wreath. When a strip of fabric ended, I stuck another, different, one to the end of the last and started the tight winding again, sticking the last of the wrapping fabric down with my glue gun.

Then came the ‘really’ fun part. Kitty and Teddy selected which nature bits to go where. I administered a dab of hot glue in the exact spot they had designated and they carefully stuck their bit into place… acorns, moss and Goblin Balls, leaves and beads.

We hung our wreath on our door and sat back to admire it and welcome in the new season…

Welcome Autumn!

Fairyfolk, Donni’s shop, is filled with colorful felted acorns, felted stones and a world of needle felted toys. Everything listed is Waldorf inspired, all natural, handmade, eco-friendly and absolutely beautiful.

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Recipe: Apple Skillet Cake

To me, there is nothing better than a crisp, juicy apple. Unless, of course, that apple is turned into pie, cobbler, applesauce or cake! Pamela of Whither Will I Wander has provided today’s applicious recipe. You can visit her original post for additional tempting pictures.

This apple cake recipe was adapted from a recipe found here. Once written the other way round, but on a whim it was turned round once so that our apple cake could be crowned with a spiral of golden apples.

Apple Skillet Cake


* 2 or 3 medium tart apples (such as Mac), cored/ sliced
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* 3 tablespoons orange juice or apple cider
* generous sprinkling of your favorite combination of sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmrg, cloves, cardamon, ginger, etc)
* ¼ teaspoon salt


* 1 1/3 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2/3 cup warm milk
* 1 large egg
* 6 tablespoons melted butter
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 ½” to 10″ (2″ deep) cast-iron skillet; or a 9″ square cake pan.

2) Combine the apples with the brown sugar, orange juice/cider, spices, and salt. Set aside.

3) Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

4) Mix the warm milk, egg, melted butter, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture, stirring to combine. Pour into the prepared skillet.

5) Arrange the apple at the bottom of the skillet in single layer pattern. Over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes let apple mixture caramelize and brown.

6) Pour the batter on top and bake the cake for about 40 to 55 minutes until it is a light golden

7) Remove from the oven, and cool for about 5 minutes. Loosen the edges of the cake from the pan, and place a large plate on top of skillet, turn over and serve.

Prettydreamer, Pamela’s Etsy shop, is located at the place where form and function meet. She creates wooden toys and housewares from solid wood and finishes them with care and an eye for beauty. The simplicity of line and judicious use of color gives each object an aura of tranquility.

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Let’s preserve Autumn leaves with Beeswax.

Hi, this is Donni from The Magic Onions. When we go for our daily walks, we always take a basket for our special finds. Lately, it has been all kinds and colors of Autumn leaves.

Today, we preserved our favorites, dipping them in melted beeswax. Aren’t they beautiful…

To preserve leaves in beeswax, you will need;
*Beeswax (buy online or at craft stores. I carry these beeswax blocks in my shop, Fairyfolk)
* Collected Leaves with stems
* A bowl
* A plastic bag.

Put the plastic bag inside the bowl. you will pour the melted beeswax into the plastic lined bowl. The plastic will prevent your bowl from being ruined by the wax. When you are finished, all you do is let the leftover wax in the plastic bag cool. When it is cold, it comes away from the plastic easily and can be reused for another beeswax craft.

Melt the beeswax using a homemade bain-marie and pour the melted wax in to the plastic lined bowl.

Hold each leaf by it’s stem and carefully dip it into the beeswax. Submerge each leaf fully.

Lay the wax coated leaves on waxpaper to cool.

Voila! You have beautifully preserved your Autumn leaves to enjoy long after the trees outside are bare and the snow is like a blanket of white across the lawn.

Visit The Magic Onions for more crafts to do with your children.
To see my felted acorns and needle felted toys, visit my Etsy shop Fairyfolk.
Blessings and magic to you,

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Sankt Martin

If you should ever get the chance to visit the area in Germany where I grew up, you will notice one thing upon entering one of these small communities. As you drive into a small town you will notice a distinct feature on the horizon: two church steeples, one belonging to the Catholic church – the other to a Protestant church. Animosities and downright hostilities between the followers of either religious denomination have lasted for centuries. May God forbid that a Catholic girl should ever wed a Protestant man ( or vice versa), as my mother did, for she might become an outcast in her family…Despite the fact that most Protestants do not recognize saints and may even ridicule the Catholic practice of saint worship, there is one celebration in November they will not shun! On the evening of November 11, you will find Protestant and Catholic children alike going on lantern walks at night to celebrate the life of Sankt Martinus.
According to legend, St. Martin started out as a Roman soldier, was baptized as an adult, and became a monk. “It is understood that he was a kind man who led a quiet and simple life. The most famous legend of his life is that he once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from dying of the cold. That night he dreamed that Jesus was wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away. Martin heard Jesus say to the angels: “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised he has clothed me.” (quoted form Wikipedia)

Most of the lanterns the children carry they craft lovingly at home or in art class at school. The lanterns are usually made of paper with beautiful cut-out designs that look like the lead glass windows of a church. The lanterns are attached with wire to the end of a dowel. Little tea-lights are used to make them glow in the dark. The children walk from their houses and meet at the market place, or the school building. From there they follow a rider on a white horse, dressed like a Roman soldier, marching towards the outskirts of town. While walking the children sing songs about St. Martin and songs about their lanterns. The destination of their march is a huge bonfire. The children gather around the bonfire. After a dramatic reenactment of the most famous scene from St. Martin’s life, cutting his coat in half and sharing it with the beggar, all children receive a sweet treat. Each child gets handed a figure made of a yeasty bread dough with raisins for eyes.

I so loved this tradition as a child. There was always such a wonderful sense of community in this celebration. What better way to celebrate simple acts of human kindness?

Wishing you lots of light, human warmth and kindness for this season!


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Trip Down Memory Lane…

October is a hard month for me. I love the fall season so much because it reminds me of Germany. Finally – a spell of cold – after a long hot summer. The falling leaves of the oak trees in front of my house serve as a reminder of the changing season.
Who would have thought I’d ever miss the rain and cold, the overcast days, and the ever shorter dark days in Germany?

October is a special time in the little communities where I grew up. I was raised in the Rhineland-Palatinate or Rheinland-Pfalz, if you would like to try to pronounce that. It is a famous wine growing region in the West of Germany.

This time of year , as a child, I would be helping with the grape harvest. Even young children would participate. Once you were old enough to hold the clippers for cutting grapes, you’d go out and help. I remember my infant sister being carried in around the vineyard in her bassinet. Every helper would receive a bucket and a pair of clippers You’d be assigned a partner and a row of grape vines to harvest from together. It was hard work. Often we would work in pouring rain. Filling our buckets with grapes, over and over again. Once your bucket was full, you would call out for the “Legelträger,” a person carrying a special bigger bucket strapped to his back, and empty your grapes into the receptacle as he would kneel down in front of you. He then would empty his bucket into a giant green vat. And when that was full, we would all be called on to jump into the vat and mash down the grapes to make space for more grapes.

My husband always jokes about it. He says the only reason I survived was because of my long legs.
It was a pretty sticky business. By the end of the day, you’d be tired and covered in grape juice and have grape leaves stuck in your hair. The smell of the harvest would penetrate deeply into your skin. But the hard labor would be rewarded with a small sum of money – which seemed huge for me as a child.
Now that I am older I fondly remember those days spent outdoors, working and playing in the vineyards.
Some people say that children in the modern world have lost touch with nature. They spend most of their time in front of TV and computer screens. I recently read an article which claimed that the average American child spends between 4-6 hours in front of a screen of one sort or another (Nintendo, other handheld games, Wii) . The article also stated that many children are losing touch with nature because of it.
Why care about the environment if you never spent time outdoors?
I wonder if things have changed in Germany and my memories are just that. Memories. Maybe the modern German child does not participate in the grape harvest. My sisters don’t live that region any more. Maybe machines do all the work now…
I guess what I am trying to say here is: It is important to teach children a connection to nature!” It is so important to play and to work with them outdoors! I am convinced that I would be a very different person if I had not spent so much time surrounded by the soft rolling hills of the German country side where I grew up.
Have a wonderful week! And remember to turn that computer or TV off, and send the kids outside to rake some leaves with you!
Love, Ulla