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Kid Craft: Felt Landscape Fun

Monday Craft Fun: Be Inspired By the Seasons, Felt Landscape Fun for the Whole Family by Tiffany of Fair Trade Family

As an artisan I go back and forth between complicated patterns (such as when I am knitting socks or baby sweaters) and free-form fun (which is how most of my play foods come together). As a mom of 4 growing boys I find that the more complicated a project is the more I end up doing the work, or the more the older boys end up telling the younger ones what to do (sometimes in a less than kind way). Since we have been working on honoring each other in our family, and we value creating things together as a team while each person contributes artistically, we were drawn to the felt.

We used simple, inexpensive felt. There are nicer 100% wool felts out there, too, but we were on a more limited budget and were just having fun. We purchased four of the stiffer pieces of felt (each about 8″ x 10″). We used these as a base for creating our little landscapes.

Ours were inspired by the four seasons since the youngest of our four boys is focusing on the seasons in his homeschooling. When our kids were little we did simple felt boards and we could focus on a color, or shapes, or some other theme.

Each child then went to work on creating their own little pieces to add to each board. The littlest made the simplest flowers in a single color,

while the 12 year-old drew more complicated objects like a reindeer and carefully cut them out of the felt pieces.

The 10 year-old spent a long time on his jack-o-lanterns for the fall theme.

Each child took his own time creating their pieces and we fit them on the board. It really made the seasons come alive for our 5 year old and they had FUN doing it.

I don’t have any templates for any of the cut-outs because it really was an open-ended activity but I would love to offer a free pattern for one of my play foods instead! Have fun with your kids. Be inspired to do a craft that all the kids can do together, each contributing something bright and bold and fun. And then make a nice cup of herbal tea or a green smoothie, some fuzzy merino wool, and a crochet hook and settle down for a little crafting time of your own.

Fair Trade Family has been offering a menu of unique play foods since 2005: from simple wool fruits and vegetables to vegan-friendly cotton avocados and artichokes and complicated ethnic food feasts. Fair Trade Family also offers custom hand knit and crocheted longies, shorties, and skirts for cloth diapering. Artisan and operator, Tiffany Nixon, dreamed of running a store where she would sell crocheted goodies in the mid 80s (long before the internet) when she was only 10 years old. She has been a vegetarian since 1996 and recently converted to raw food vegan but still loves crafting nachos and chili and cupcakes from yarn. Tiffany has been married for almost 14 years and her four sons are 12, 10, 8, and almost 6…. and they are all creative in different ways.

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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

Apples

* 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

Cake

* 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

Directions

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,
Donni

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Cornstarch play

This activity is perfect for a hot sunny day. Here’s what we did…you can modify amounts depending on how many children are around!
Recipe:

7 children
5 boxes cornstarch
Aprox. the same amount of water.
Method:
Dump your cornstarch into a large container. Hold one box in reserve just in case you add too much water. Start adding water gradually while the children mix with their hands.


Add water and keep mixing until it is the consistency of pancake batter. Your mixture will become more fluid as the kids work it with their hands.

Cornstarch and water make a magical concoction. If you hit it with your hand, it feels hard. If you grab a clump, it feels thick like clay and if you try to pick it up, it dribbles from your hands in streams.

The kids loved pouring it on their hands and legs and even rubbing it on their faces. It dries very quickly to a clean powder. I had a group of kids aged 3-10 and they all had fun playing with this stuff!

The kids in my backyard used a 100 gallon horse trough to clean up. I used a garden hose to spray the picnic table clean and the leftover gunk went into the compost heap!

Add some watermelon slices and your sunny afternoon is complete!

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Make a No-Knit Yarn Nest.

Hi, I’m Donni from The Magic Onions blog. My shop is Fairyfolk.

A few weeks ago, to K’s utter delight, we discovered a little nest in the eves inside our front porch. We have been watching Mr and Mrs House Finch building this nest from our front window. K has been consumed… it reminds me, a little uncomfortably, of myself when the first Big Brother came out.
Whenever I ask if she’d like to make something, the answer is always… ‘a nest! Oh please, Mommy, can we make a nest?’
So today, we made a nest.
As I’m no knitter… (I can’t knit… shock horror!) I have been thinking of ways to make a nest using yarn that doesn’t require knitting. This is what we came up with…
What you’ll need is:
* Glue or Hodge Podge
* Water
* A baloon
* Scissors
* Yarn

We blew up the balloons to the right size for a nest.
We cut long strips of the yarn.
I lined a glass dish with a plastic packet for easy clean-up later and filled it with glue. I added enough water to the glue to make it about the consistency of milk.
We dipped the yarn into the glue mixture and wrapped it around the balloon, making sure to keep the yarn in a nest shape.
When our nests were wrapped around the balloons, we set them in the sun to dry.

When they were dry, we popped the balloons with a pin and our perfect little nest were left.

They have been treasured playthings all day and K is so delighted to be able to play ‘Birdie-in-a-nest’!
Visit The Magic Onions to see our post on our real nest of chicks and how we watched them grow from eggs to fledgelings.
Blessings and magic.
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Make a Strawberry Fruit Tart


Today’s recipe is by Cyn of FairiesNest (be sure to check out her lovely shop here). The timing for this recipe is perfect with so much local fruit just coming into season (can’t wait for our local organic strawberries in June). It would make a delightful Mother’s Day surprise too.

Recipe for a Strawberry Fruit Tart

The strawberries in our part of the world are coming in fast and furious. To make this fruit tart, you start with a pre baked tart shell, preferably a sweet shortcrust. My favorite one is from the book Festive Tarts by Sylvia Thompson. (This is a fantastic tart book that I highly recommend and although it’s out of print you can find cheap used copies).

1 2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
10 tablespoons butter
pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons cream

Combine the dry, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles cornmeal, add the wet and mix lightly until a ball of dough forms. refrigerate for 15-30 mins. Roll out and place in tart form. Stick in the freezer for 30 mins and then bake in a 400 degree F oven with pie weights (or dried beans) on a piece of parchment inside. After 15 mins remove the weights and bake for 12 more mins. Cool and fill!


photo via Flickr

Cut up enough fruit to fill your tart; peaches, berries, plums, all of one kind or a mix …whatever you think is yummy. Mix together 1 cup sugar with 3 cups of orange juise and 4 tablespoon cornstarch in a saucepan. Heat this stirring constantly until it thickens. Put about 1/3 of the mixture in the bottom of the tart. Now place in the fruit in a pretty pattern or all mixed up, it doesn’t matter. Then carefully cover all the fruit with the rest of the OJ sauce. Refrigerate for at least an hour, but not more than 4 or 5 because you don’t want it to get soggy…though it will still taste good! One little trick; if you’re using fruit that might brown, like peaches, toss them with the OJ first and then drain them and proceed. It also gives the OJ a great peachy taste… This works well for freezing peaches too!

Here‘s a sweet spring flower pixie from Cyn’s shop!

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Easter/Spring NaturalKids Team Blog-A-Thon

The NaturalKids Team was started by woodmouse in 2007. Early members included faerierebecca, fairiesnest, cozycottage. It was a small group, with a small presence on etsy. Since that time members have come and gone but our mission has stayed the same. To be a group of sellers dedicated to creating natural products for children. We are a diverse group of artisans who make natural toys, utensils, clothing and accessories for kids. Our sellers work with materials from the Earth, such as wool, cotton, silk and wood. Our goal is to support, promote and have fun together while building our businesses. 

One of our 1st Team Blog Post read as below and it is still true today….
We are a diverse bunch from all over the globe who have at least one thing in common:  we all work with natural materials in our products for children.  Oh yeah, and we’re all pretty darn crafty & talented too!  Wool, wood, cotton…just simple materials direct from the Earth.  


So who are we?  
Some of us are mothers of small children.
Some of us are mothers of grown children.
Some of us make dolls, some of us make hats, some of us make toys.
Some of us have been selling our wares for many years.
Some of us are just starting to discover our talents and start selling.
Some of us work with natural materials for environmental reasons.
Some of us work with natural materials as part of the Waldorf educational philosophy.
Some of us work with natural materials because we believe they are healthier and safer.
Some of us just like working with natural materials.
Some of us sell our wares for a living.
Some of us sell our wares as a hobby.

Since that time, some of us are fathers.

To see more items from The NaturalKids Team go here!

Thank you for reading and now join in the fun to take a trip to see what you may find at these NaturalKids Team Members Blogs! Happy Spring!!!
Visit these Blogs:

 

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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.

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The Advent Spiral





The “Advent Spiral” or “Spiral of Light” as it is sometimes called is a thing to behold. It marks the lengthening of days and the journey we will all take into the darkness and quiet of winter. It reminds us to take our inner light with us on this journey through the long cold months and longest days of our year and to have a reverence for it.
The apple lanterns have been carved and are ready, the star shaped sugar cookies are warming in the oven, the pine boughs have been cut and layed just so, families gather in a darkened room on a cold December afternoon near to the Winter Solstice.
And so it begins. One at a time, the children walk along the spiral path of boughs leading to one large lit candle. Each holds an unlit candle, even the smallest hands are capable and ready! In the middle of the spiral the children light their candles and then retrace their steps out of the spiral, leaving their lit candle next to the last child’s. The room is hushed, sometimes there is faint harp music – light and airy.
As each child passes through the spiral something amazing starts to happen -the room brightens!
After all the children have made there way there is often singing and snacks of cookies and warm apple cider.
The hearts and souls of all who attended are warmed and the children go away with a sense of the light &warmth they have built candle by candle.
The advent spiral can also be done in your own home to prepare the family for winter and bring the cheer to your very own house!
FaerieWaldorf has a wonderful guide for sale in her etsy shop all about preparing and participating in the Advent Spiral!
Soltice Sun King pictured above from PaintingPixie’s etsy shop.
Needle felted apple’s by CozyCottageCreations
Wooden Spiral by DragonsandMermaids