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A Pumpkin Two Ways

Just before Halloween my girls and I went to a pumpkin patch for a hayride and we each brought home one pie pumpkin. The girls all carved theirs and set them out for Halloween but I kept mine back to make something sweet and a little crafting.
First things first we cut it open and cleaned out all the goop and seeds. We put the pumpkin in the oven to become soft and, after cleaning them, we briefly dried the seeds in the oven as well.

Once our seeds were nice and dry we covered them in an Autumn wash of watercolor paints and then let the paint dry. Meanwhile I took blank note cards and drew a tree branch on each with gel glue. We covered the glue with brown glitter and then let that dry, as well.

We then glued on all of our seed ‘leaves’. These beautiful note cards (with envelopes) will be the girls’ Winter Solstice gift to a friend of ours.

For the pumpkin itself we tried out this pumpkin bread recipe.

 

From this one little pumpkin we got beautiful note cards and this delicious bread. What will you make with a pumpkin?

 

 

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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Making a November Banner

I really love the month of November. It feels like a quite moment just before the busy bustling of the winter holidays start up. My daughters and I made a very simple little banner to welcome November. We started by gathering many leaves and then turning them face down on the table where we would be laying the cloth. I then cut a piece of white muslin (size is unimportant, just whatever works best for your space) and layed it over the leaves, making sure there was a leaf under every bit of it. I chose not to hem my cloth but you could if you wanted to.
We took our crayons rocks (though, you could also use block crayons or stick crayons, paper removed and rub the side) and lightly rubbed over the entire piece. I did have to remind them not to use the tip and not too rub too hard. It was also very pretty to layer the colors a bit.

We we had colored over the entire piece I wrote the word ‘November’  with gel glue. Next we brought out the glitter shakers and covered all of the glue in Autumn colored glitter.

After letting it dry I shook the excess glitter off and hung our banner over our nature shelf.

Welcome November!

 

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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Harvest Time Gift Guide is now ready!


 

 

 

 

The Autumn harvest is a time of shortening days, falling leaves, apple cider, and hay rides.  We hope you enjoy these wonderful picks from the NaturalKids Team that embody the essence of Autumn.

Let us know below if see anything that you just love, or if there was something you wish was offered – we have lots of members who love the challenge of new or unusual items!

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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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Book Review: Snipp, Snapp, Snurr Learn to Swim

This book was first published in the USA in 1946, and earlier in Sweden. It is part of a series of books about boy triplets and their adventures. I love them all, they are fun, and all available as reasonably priced paperbacks today. Snipp, Snapp and Snurr are the names of the boys (there is a girl series too) and Maj Lindman sure knew what trouble boys could get up to!

Take, for instance the above title. It is a great summer read, especially as a ‘first reader’, and I love the antics of these boys as they have a little vacation at the cottage with Nanny. The book comes with a little disclaimer at the beginning about safety and here is why…

It is 2011 out there!! These boys go play in/on the water and can’t swim and let me tell you, there isn’t even a hint of a PFD (personal flotation device). No pool noodles. No inflatable dolphins. I know!!! There is a boat, a tub, a sailboat and some good ole fashioned fun with a rescue and all… and then there are swimming lessons. Whew! You won’t learn to swim with this book, but you will take a pleasant little trip back to when things were just a little simpler~ maybe not safer though!!

Hope you have fun at the beach and play safe (ie: sunscreen & pfd’s!).
Natalie of Woolhalla
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Fairy Gardens

Talk about small-scale gardening! Making a fairy garden together with your child(ren) can be a lot of fun. It can happen in a small space, including inside in a planter, so you can make one anywhere really.

Below are some photos from The Magic Onions blog, from team member Donni at Fairyfolk.

A little moment of tranquility…

Here is an outside planter box/barrel of strawberries.
Mmm… I think fairies like strawberries a lot!!
Find a little spot to create your fairy garden.

Collect some supplies. You can buy cute little things to put in it or make them. Built with popsicle sticks and glue, wool scraps, marbles, moss, whatever you have on hand.


And start building!

Rocks and a bowl can be turned into a cute little fairy scene.

When you’re done, you can make a sign. Then sit back and wait to see if you might catch a glimpse of a fairy in your new little garden!

Photos by Donni at The Magic Onions.
Text by Natalie of Woolhalla.
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Bug Love: Name these Bugs/Insects!

Kids love bugs and insects… well most of them anyways! Summertime is ‘bug season’ in many places and Natural Kids team members have some photos to share… Do you know what they all are? Put your answers in the comments!!

Photo 1: By Donni at Fairyfolk

Photo 2: By Donni at Fairyfolk

Photo 3: By Donni at Fairyfolk

Photo 4: By Donni at Fairyfolk

Photo 5: By Michelle at Babus Toys

Photo 6: By Ann at Harvest Moon by Hand
So what do you think? Do you know what they all are, do your kids know what they are??
Let’s hope I have it right… we’ll see! Post your answers in the comments!!

Thank you team members for sharing your photos!!
Natalie of Woolhalla
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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.


Warmly,
Rebecca aka Nushkie
Nushkie on Facebook

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Natural Kids, Literally!!

KIDS!! Aren’t they just the cutest!! Recently I made a little trip to a mountainside home (yes, that’s snow on the goats!) to meet some charming furry kids. It’s not so surprising that our own young have acquired this name as well, you only have to spend a short amount of time with some furry kids to see the similarities of fun, playfulness and sometimes mischievous with our non-furry (human) kids.

The goats you see below are for milking and some of their milk also is made into yogurt and kefir. They live outside in a lovely large fenced area to keep them safe from predators in the area (cougars, coyotes, etc). They will soon have a rooftop area to climb up to and enjoy… call it a deluxe playground for furry kids… with a view.
Kids are very curious and anything dangly was in danger of getting nibbled. Okay, maybe my kids (non-furry!) don’t really nibble clothing, strings, etc…

I think mama might be saying, “I’ve got my eye on you…”!!
On second though maybe I was getting eyed up for some butting…
“Hey chickens come back here, you’re really interesting” . These chickens co-habitate with kids and I have to say they are pretty good sports about it.

I think we had a collective thought: “more snow…again…”

You can see the teeny-tiny horns growing on the (awfully cute!) little one and some larger ones on the one below.
Goats are fun to spend time around, unless they butt you! Now is a great time to go to a farm or a petting zoo with your kids (non-furry) if you have one nearby as there are usually kids (furry) and they are a blast to watch.

For some nifty ‘GOAT’ items from the NaturalKids Team members you can connect to the shops below (hopefully I didn’t miss any!):
This post is brought to you by Natalie, of Woolhalla
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Nature Table, Keeping it Organized

In the post yesterday I did a craft with kids on how to make these great Seasonal Organizing Storage Boxes

Here are some other great ways that you can store your Handmade items:

Cotton, Knitted Wool, and Organza Bags
Fun Theme Fabric Bags

Today we took some time to organize our Nature Table items. It is important to inspect your handmade items at this time to see if they may need to be repaired or cleaned. Check out this post about how to care for your handmade toys.

Sorting and cleaning felted wool toys.

Cleaning and re-waxing if needed to the wooden toys.

We ended up with some unwelcome guest who thought the fairy could use some company! It is hard to get the kids to focus on our task and they often try to wander away but the dog is harder to get him to work, :).

Not a good helper!

Finally we organized by season! We collected the toys and lined the bottom of the box with that seasons playsilk. Some items were added by themselves, while others we placed in cotton or organza bags.

Autumn

Summer

Labeling was our final step before putting them in their new home under the Nature Table!

Article by Beccijo, The Enchanted Cupboard

Do you have a great tip for organizing your Nature Table toys? Feel free to share with us your ideas and comments!