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Doll Fashion

I believe a great deal of wonderful articles have already been written on the topic of Waldorf doll-making and, seeing that my own dolls follow closely in the steps of tradition in terms of their anatomy, with the same tightly-rolled wool for the head and similar stylized arms and legs, all made from natural materials, I have decided, instead, to write on doll fashion.
It is the making of a doll’s wardrobe which allows me to fully pursue my creative fancies and develop my own ideas. After perusing many fashion catalogs and blogs, I strive to create garments which would reflect my love of the simple and yet elegant, of beautiful warm color combinations, and of small intricate details. I make doll dresses with the same careful attention and love with which I clothed my own daughters when they were younger. Sometimes, I may be inspired by a simple combination of colors, such as a pattern of complementary bright orange and blue which I used in creating Solène. Placed side-by-side, they seem to invigorate each other and endow the doll with a unique personality of its own, bright and sunny as her name implies.

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Other times, my eye may be caught by a work of art in a museum, such as a masterpiece by Amedeo Modigliani, in which I, again, may fall in love with the color scheme. One of my earlier dolls, another redhead, reveals this love of mine for working with soft yellows and browns.


Although I prefer working with contemporary styles, sometimes, especially after visiting an exhibition featuring historical fashion, I may get inspired to re-introduce a style from the past. The blue lace dress I recently made, for example, was inspired by a 19th-century French ball gown, and, in making it, I used the finest silk, lace, and delicate little pearls I could find to create the most authentic experience possible for the doll which had decided to grace a ballroom with her presence.

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Sometimes, a character from a story may strike my imagination, such as in the case of Sarah from A Little Princess by Frances Burnett. In her white silk, pleated, low-waist dress, soft linen coat, and small hat, she envelops herself in elegance and grace so appropriate for a little princess.

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Finally, I love finishing off monochromatic outfits with a bright dab of color. With her bright red beret to set off her black-and-white couture dress, this doll seems ready to join the casual strollers in the boulevards of Paris.

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As a thank you to all of you, wonderful doll-makers and doll-lovers, I would like to offer a give-away of one of my tutorials/patterns to dress your doll. The winner will have the option of choosing between a Dress or a Hooded-coat pattern found in NobbyOrganics etsy shop, which will be sent via email as a pdf file. Both patterns are for a 18-20” doll and are easy to follow.

To enter, visit the shop, then come back here and leave a comment saying which of the two patterns is your favorite, along with a way for me to contact you if you win. The giveaway will run until 9:00 pm EST June 10, 2013. The winning comment will be selected using a random number generator, and announced here on Tuesday, June 11.

If you would like to learn more about my work please visit Petit Gosset Blog and FB Page! Thank you!

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My New Favorite Herb—Chives

Do you ever find yourself in a food rut? I used to all the time. I’d grab the same thing for breakfast every day and limited myself to a small list of options for lunch and dinner. I eat a paleo diet, and while most think that to be quite limiting, it’s honestly not. I was limiting. I did it out of boredom and convenience, plain and simple. When you are chasing after three kids, homeschooling and running your own business, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to make things easy.

I’ve was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, a thyroid auto-immune disease, two and a half years ago and with it brought a whole host of issues including a leaky gut (really that came first, I just didn’t know it) and food intolerances. And guess what causes food intolerances? Yup, you guessed it, limiting your diet.

Eating the same thing often is not only boring, it’s not healthy! For the past two months I’ve been doing an elimination rotation diet. What that means is I don’t eat anything that I had become intolerant to—through testing I discovered I have intolerances to gluten, eggs, dairy, all nuts and sweet potatoes—and I don’t eat anything twice in a four day time frame. No more eating the same breakfast every day or the same lunch just because it’s easy and convenient.

I was eating super healthy, just not with enough variety. I have found the best way to add variety to my diet is through the flavor palate. It’s easy to rotate through a different protein and couple of veggies every meal, but I began to crave new flavor combinations as well.

Chives are an herb that I have grown in the past, but never really enjoyed. Suddenly I love them!

Chives

I’m an avid albeit fairly novice gardener, so first off, the crop I planted of them last year winterized so it was like a gardening bonus this spring. Booyah! Turns out that they are a perennial bulb like others in the onion and garlic family. Duh, I should have thought of that when I first planted them, but the bulb is so small it’s easy to miss. I love a plant that will winterize since here in NY that can be tough.

Second, the flower is equally yummy as the typical leaf that you normally see. It’s big and purple much like a standard Allium, just not quite that large. It’s a beautiful herb and a nice visual addition to the garden.

Third, they are super easy to grow organically. Literally plant and water. They don’t need a heavy dose of fertilizer, they need very little  maintenance and pests leave them alone. Cut them about 1-2″ above the ground when you harvest (only cut what you need at that time and you can continue to have some all season) and once they flower you can cut the plant way down in preparation for next year, or do what I do and just continue to harvest until you put the garden to bed for the winter. They can be thinned at any time, and should be every 2-3 years, so they are easy to thin and share with other herb gardeners.

The flavor is milder than green onions in my opinion and excellent in stir fry dishes, on veggies, eggs, chicken, beef or pork, soups of all kinds,  and they make a great addition to pretty much any salad. I use my kitchen sheers, cut the long leaves up and shred the flower for my salads, along with some thai basil, cilantro and dill. Yum.

Chives have been around for about 5,000 years originating in China. Adding them to your foods can lower blood pressure and aid in digestion. They can be frozen or freeze dried, but they don’t dehydrate well. Bummer too since I love to use my dehydrator on my herbs.

So I highly recommend this herb as both a tasty and beautiful addition to your garden this year. And please leave a comment and let me know what herbs you are loving right now, I’m always on the hunt for more to add to our repertoire!


Chives

Chives

 

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Meet Rebecca of Little River Dolls

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Hi Natural kids blog readers! My name is Rebecca and I am owner/creator of Little River Dolls! I love making natural soft wool filled dolls for my son and his friends and my shop! It is so pleasurable to see the wee dolls come to life in my hands and each has such unique personalities that are easy to see. I love making them so much and I hope you can feel the love I have put into each and every one!

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Recently I have been trying to find the perfect teacher gift for my son’s wonderful teachers at his Waldorf Kindergarten. At first I knitted a couple pairs of socks but then I felt that wasn’t personal enough for his main teacher so I found a pattern for a wonderful doll- but all made of wool and needle felted! I have needle felted a couple small things before for presents like hearts and pumpkins but never such a large one! But it came out just perfect, soft and warm and Waldorf-y, it will hopefully bring a smile to her! What kind of presents are you giving your teachers this year?

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Recycling & Upcycling the Kenyan Way

After Jess’ account earlier this week of thrifting the American way, here’s a brief update on the Kenyan way.

Living in Kenya provides a whole different perspective on the consumption society.  Recycling and reinvention of items are the matter of the day especially since new goods are generally very expensive.

Shopping in the piles of clothing
Shopping in the piles of clothing

The solution for the average person here is to shop for used goods.  From toys, to shoes, to furniture, clothing, etc., basically everything you can find in a thrift shop in the Western World.  It is that world where most of the items here come from.  Kenya is among the largest recipients of used goods, especially clothing and cars.  I am sure that we all have seen containers placed in certain parts of large cities in Europe and the USA inviting us to throw in our unwanted clothes, shoes and even other items.  Most of what we would throw into these containers finds its way to Africa – and most often to Kenya.   The charities, who collect clothes in the containers sell the goods (=funds raised for the charity) to an intermediary, who then sorts and sells the goods to vendors here in East Africa.  The goods are packed in large bundles, which then find their way to the Mitumba (which literally translates into Bundle) markets across Kenya.  At a Mitumba market, the average person can pick up a nice outfit for a decent price.  Depending on the quality of the item, you can get a shirt for 10 Kenyan Shillings (US$ 0,11), or spend as much as 1000 Kenyan Shillings (US$ 11).  The latter items would be rather upmarket and brands of high recognition.

Impressions of Toi Market - A Mitumba Market in Nairobi
Impressions of Toi Market – A Mitumba Market in Nairobi

As a crafter the Mitumba market is ideal place for me to find nice fabrics and materials to upcycle and use in my creations.  For those who know my Etsy shop, you can immediately find a combination of traditional East African materials with upcycled materials.  The yoga mat carriers as well as the pencil rolls are a perfect example. My personal love for jeans as well as colourful kikoy is reflected  in those items.

Yoga Mat Carrier
Yoga Mat Carrier
Kikoy & Jeans Pencil Rolls
Kikoy & Jeans Pencil Rolls

The ziezo Designs bunting baby dolls were born on the Mitumba Market by seeing a pile of wonderful wool jumpers, some felted, others not.  The felted wool was the perfect material to make lovely soft baby dolls children across the world would enjoy.

African Baby Bunting Dolls
African Baby Bunting Dolls

On my most recent trip to the market I picked up some lovely flower fabrics in the form of a skirt, some pillow cases and a dress.  I have plans to create a fabric bunting with these great fabrics, a different take on my traditional bandanna buntings like these:

Reusable Bandanna Party Bunting
Reusable Bandanna Party Bunting

Keep your eyes on the ziezo Etsy shop!  Soon there will be more upcycled products made with the donations that started in the Western world, which were then commercially passed on to those shopping at the Mitumba markets.  It might actually be made out of something that you donated!

Interested in learning a little more about living in Kenya?  Visit my personal blog “ziezo – Crafting and Living in Kenya

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New Designs for Spring by broodbaby

 

 With the Arrival of Spring, New Designs Break Ground

When I first met my husband we quickly made scavenging the local flea markets a favorite past time.  He’d routinely select some item from a vendor’s cache and ask me what I saw.  I’d respond shoe form, wrench, or whatever else the item happened to be.  “No,” he’d say.  “That’s what it is.  I want to know what it could be.”  Such a simple statement that became the cornerstone of my point of view in all my ensuing design challenges.

We live a pretty earth friendly life.  My husband spends a good part of the year chopping the wood we use to heat our home through the New England winters.  I manage the kitchen; cooking and baking our breads, snacks, meals with an emphatic keeping to organic and local ingredients.  We know our farmers.  We are fanatic recyclers.  We drive a hybrid.  So, it should come as no surprise that when I started my fiber and textile business my materials would continue in the vein in which we live our life.  The fabrics and yarn I work with are all organic, natural, fair trade, recycled, and/or re-purposed.  With a steady eye on quality of both my designs and my materials, my constant challenge is to eek out the best of possibilities from my cottons or woolens.  What shape will my collected treasures take next in their recycled evolution?

Quite honestly, I can’t even recall how I first started working with sweaters, but somehow I started collecting beautiful wool, cashmere, fair isle, aran—exquisite sweaters that for some reason or another were being discarded.  Sifting through thrift shops and rummage sales became a favorite activity.  And my husband’s first questions that he posed during our courtship became a constant echo.  What’s next?  What’s next?  And then one day designs started falling from mind’s eye to my pencil and paper to my cutting table.  Cashmere bunnies, and fair isle elephants all started to take shape.  Pigs and starfish and puppy dogs began to fill the studio.  My little gallery now hosts a community of little friends to join the community of our littlest treasures:  our kids.
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This incredibly soft Cashmere Bunny satisfies her sweet tooth with Cupcakes, which are also made with bits and pieces of recycled sweaters.

 

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A gentle elephant springs to life with cheery thanks to a wool fair isle sweater.

 

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Everything starts with the washing and felting of the sweaters and very frequently some design detail in them–be it a placket or a seam–will inspire the Sweet Critter that it will become.

Jess Wrobel:  A lifelong creative type, my studio is filled with an enormity of wonders from the fiber world from which I create my knitwear and pattern designs and textile art pieces.  With my husband as my cohort, we reclaim, repurpose, and salvage old pieces into new functional home decor and furniture works.    I teach, and write, and enjoy meeting everyone in person at artisan shows. Please visit www.Jwrobel.com <http://www.Jwrobel.com>  or follow me on www.facebook.com/JwrobelStudio <http://www.facebook.com/JwrobelStudio>  to learn more.

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Mothers Day – by Little Jenny Wren

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Mothers Day for me , here in Tasmania was spent travelling to the south of the island to visit my two sons who attend University in the state’s capital Hobart

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We travelled through the mists and autumn leaves and small villages

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and arrived in Hobart to perfect, still, sunshiny autumn weather
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we ate lunch at an outside cafe then strolled around the docks
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to the ice cream parlour
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Such a beautiful day with my beautiful family in such beautiful surroundings.
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Hope you all had a Happy Mothers Day!
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Hello, this is me, Nalina

 

Hello!

 

I’m Pia from Nalina Puppen. We haven’t met yet – not officially at least. So, hello. It’s really nice to meet you. As this is our first time together, I thought I might share a little about Nalina, and I hope that you’ll connect with me, through comments or social media.

 

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 Pia and little presents for customers

 

Nalina was born in 2008, when I was studying to be a Waldorf teacher. I started crafting little fairies and gnomes just because I enjoyed the handwork. Doing crafts back then wasn’t so popular as it is now. Knitting and crocheting were considered uncool, but for some reason people wanted to buy my little things. I didn’t understand why people would want to buy them, but I was happy they did. Looking back now, I still don’t understand it. Stitching was all off, products weren’t very unique, but they were made with lots of love. I guess that did it back then. In the years that followed I learned to make Waldorf dolls from my art and crafts teacher at Waldorf seminar, Ms. Thiesen. Watching her paint, draw, and create beautiful crafts with such precision and love was like a pinch of fairy dust to my life. To this day, every time I sit down to create a doll, gnome, fairy… I think of her.

 

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Doll maker in making – from the first doll to the real Nalina Puppen doll

 

This memory helped me go through four years of trial and errors in pursuit of a perfect Nalina Puppen doll. Last year when I create my first doll that could properly sit my world stopped for just a minute. Long enough to know that was it. I came from someone who learned how to make a Waldorf doll to a doll maker – a proper one. I started believing in my work, and my dolls. And getting feedback from happy customers was like a happy pill for my heart.

 

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 Nalina Puppen dolls

 

Though I can make every doll myself I enjoy that this is actually something I often do with my husband. In our crazy computer infested world (he works as senior developer and I as freelance web designer) we take time to be with each other, to talk, watch movies, and ground ourselves, crafting dolls. We were together at seminar for Waldorf teachers, and we are together after all those years, working and learning how to live simple natural life. If you want to know about my creative process as a crafter click here to read the post about it.

 

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 Nalina Puppen boys

 

In search of that life we are moving to Germany in a month, hoping to settle, have a family, and enjoy living. We make a very limited number of dolls per month, making sure each is really well made and infused with all the love our family can hold. We are happy to see them finding new homes all over the world, and In our little country.

 

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 Nalina Puppen gnomes

 

If you want to know more about our stumbling as expats please find me at Joie de vie blog.

 

Until next time, have fun!

 

Pia

 

 

Nalina Puppen on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/shop/nalinapuppen)

 

Pinterest  | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 

Links to put on the social medial names:

 

 

 

 

 

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New Raised Beds

Over spring break our family built new raised beds. It was such a fun project, and the whole family pitched in. Our old raised beds had rotted out after about 5 years of use. They were only 7 inches tall. We decided to make the new beds 10 inches higher. Must be the old woman in me – I really appreciate not having to bend down so far. Raised beds are great in that respect.

Building raised beds is a bit of a time and money commitment. But they are so rewarding when you consider how much more produce you get.  We are hoping that the plants will be able to grow even deeper roots in the taller boxes.

 

Nk rotted wood

 

In the photos you can see the boards of our old beds. They rotted because we used plain untreated wood.  I was a bit sad to see my old garden gate getting dismantled. But I am very happy about the new beds.  The new raised beds are made of redwood.

Of course, they are not treated with chemicals either, yet they are supposed to last a lifetime. The wood was a bit more expensive but hopefully we don’t have to rebuild again in five years.

We built a total of four boxes. It cost us about $300 (for planks of redwood, new fenceposts, and screws) and three days of labor. That includes the time it took to take out the old beds.

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We covered one of the beds with old storm windows we found in our basement. Now the beds work like a miniature greenhouse. On warm days we take the windows off and let the sunshine warm the bed. During the last 3 winterstorms we closed the bed up to shield our small seedlings from the cold and ice.

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NK raised beds

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The children had fun using power tools to help build them. I am looking forward to the spinach, Swiss chard, and Kale already growing. Check out our first little seedlings! I can’t wait to plant more stuff.

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I am getting ready to be in a local art show. It’s been a while since I exhibited my work at Madison& Main gallery. It’s a wonderful artist coop, and if you are in the vicinity make sure you check it out. I figured my little garden fairy would go nicely with this post. Maybe she can sprinkle some magic fairy dust to make our plants grow faster. If you would like to meet this  sweet Garden Fairy in person you will find her after May 1rst at Madison & Main. Unfortunately I’ll have to miss the grand opening of this show since I’ll be traveling in Germany by then.

 

 

 

 

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Meet Rebecca of Handmaiden Canada

Let me introduce myself…

Becky and Dolly
My name is Rebecca, and I live with my husband and 9 children in the “back woods” of Eastern Canada. I grew up here, and I love it. I love that I can sit out on my back porch in the early morning and hear silence. I love that I can walk down the road to a sparkling, clean lake to swim. I love the drama of the seasons.

My father and mother instilled in me a deep love for all things handmade. My dad was a Luthier. He built gorgeous one of a kind guitars. My mom was the type of “self- sufficient” woman who would make her own granola, hand-smock each one of us dresses for Easter, always had a knitting project on the go, and wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty in the garden. She had me sewing my first outfit when I was six years old. I’ll never forget it. So many seams sewn and then ripped out….and then sewn again. Did I mention she had the patience of a saint!? Creativity was always encouraged in our home. It was a very “organic” process. We had trunks of fabric scraps, yarn and craft supplies always at our disposal and we were encouraged to just “try stuff”. My mother would teach us the skills necessary, and then give us free reign to design and create. Of course she LOVED every single project even more than the last! A woman can always use another pot holder, right?

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What inspired me to start my shop Handmaiden Canada? After six months of my husband being off work with ulcerative colitis and awaiting imminent surgery, I started to rack my brain, trying to think of a way I could make some sort of an income from the home. I have been a stay at home mom for the past 18 years, and though I’m so grateful I’ve had the opportunity to be home with my children during these tender years, I do feel I am a little behind, with very little outside work experience under my belt. I decided to start a business from the home. This was something I could do, even with a nursing baby.  I opened a shop and called it Handmaiden Canada.

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Now, what to sell? I started to experiment. I started knitting wool bags and then felting them. I then started making things with recycled, felted sweaters and that was a lot of fun. Then I discovered Waldorf Dolls, and I fell in love. I have always loved dolls. I watched the way my mom was with my seven younger siblings, and I would imitate her. I  would nurse my baby, change her, and carry her around on my hip, just like my mom did with my baby brothers and sisters. Dolls were my first introduction to motherhood, and they still hold a special place in my heart. But there is something about the simple face, the softness and warmth, the natural materials of a Waldorf doll that sets them apart from any other type of doll. Something that makes you just want to snuggle up with them and tell them all your secrets.



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I had to try my hand at making one. I made one for my daughter for her first birthday, and what a hit that was! Before too long, I was blissfully caught up in a whirlwind of dolly making creativity! I was kept up many a night with visions of my next dolly dancing through my head! It is a process that I don’t think I could ever tire of.  I have now “joined forces” so to speak with my mother. She makes a lot of the doll clothing, and many of the other items in the shop. We get together often, to work on projects, to keep each other motivated and inspired! It is so amazing to be able to collaborate with her in this way.

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My husband and children are also involved in the business. My husband helps me with the shipping. My children (ages 19 down to 3), are my muses, and my helpers. They humour me by modelling things in the shop. Sometimes it is with a promise of a trip to the little candy store, or ice cream shop in town afterwards!

Nadia and her dollies
It truly is a JOY to be able to work from the home, to use my creative abilities to help provide for our family.  I do have to do part-time work outside the home…but I look forward to seeing this handmade business of ours continue to bloom and grow. 

Find these dolls at:

HandMaidenCanada on ETSY

FACEBOOK

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Wooden Spring Toys

I’ve been busy making lots of new toys for spring, and I thought I’d give you a little background on some of them.  Firstly, one of my facebook fans suggested a flower crown girl earlier this year when I was asking for spring ideas. I worked on it for months until I was happy with it. I love how it came out!  I thought it would be nice in a whimsical little set, but it can also be bought on its own.

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I was inspired by my daughters to make these little people. I never told anyone I was thinking of them when I designed them, but when my brother saw them, he said they look like my daughter! I’m so glad he can tell, because they’re meant to!  Here’s the other girl based on my daughter:

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Another suggestion from a facebook fan was a bluebird, so I did that one too!  There are now quite a few of my bluebirds in homes around the world, and I was working on one today as well!

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Ever since I made my Life Cycle of a Butterfly, I’ve wanted to do other life cycles.  I finally made this Life Cycle of a Frog and it’s one of my favorites!  It sparked a lot of learning when I showed it to my girls.  We ended up looking at pictures online of frog’s eggs, tadpoles and frogs, and then in the next few days both my girls were finding pictures of frog metamorphosis in books in our house!

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This next one is another of my favorites.  I love making mommy and baby sets.  I think it started with my babywearing figures, and then I made animal sets, like the mama and baby squirrel, mama and baby hedgehog, and I’ve been just itching to make a mama and baby pig set!

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And last of all, I have to show you my ice cream cone!  I’ve was thinking a lot last summer about making an ice cream cone but never got around to it.  Then a couple weeks ago I just really, really, really wanted to make that ice cream cone, so I did!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing a bit of the background of my newest products.  I’ve enjoyed telling you about them!  For more photos of them, and to see all my other toys, check out my Little Woodlanders Etsy shop!  You can also visit and follow me at these links:

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