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A day at the office, 3 parts //mosey handmade, morning glory garden & mama

merry spring//bread day
merry spring//bread day

 

We have an early start to our day around here…

early light//sleepy heads
early light//sleepy heads
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naptime//mealtime

The littles wake with the sun, and there is work to be done. We have a little school in our house! This means many things, like bread day, soup day and rice day. All with their own set of recipes and each with their very own song.
we chippity chop, we kneed the dough and stir that rice pot.

table set//bunny hop
table set//bunny hop

Our school follows the rhythm of a Waldorf kindergarten and that means that as much as we work we also play!
There are carts of wool to be sorted, towers to be built, train rides to take and even some traveling to far away lands, like Boston!

polishing day//birthday
polishing day//birthday

We have a full day here in this house, me with my youngest on my back and my oldest playing about with her friends.
And at the end of that day a new day begins, one of snuggles and books read, one where usually my two little children curl up and fall fast asleep and then my life as a crafter and blogger begins. i have joked many times that my bed is my desk and in many ways it is. My children all nested in and my computer perched on the edge, me sitting Indian style on the floor rearranging my etsy shop or writing a blog post.

my littlest//bed as a desk
my littlest//bed as a desk

This is how we live and work. This is how I help support my family and stay centered, this is also in many ways my “me” time. My time to step away for a minute as wife and mother, and work at my craft. Then I suppose in someways isn’t it all a *mother’s craft*? The toast cut just right in the morning, the outfits for the children laid out and ready, the songs we sing and the way we apply ice pack after a fall and kisses after a scuffle. The way we write our to do list and check it off and gently add to it all day long.

setting the table//fancy slippers
setting the table//fancy slippers

that’s the thing about being a mother, it doesn’t have an ending. there is no closed sign to be turned over, and the lights may go out but we are always open for business.
and in a world that tries to put a name on what a wife and mother should be i say we are all crafters, lovingly eeking out what it means to us to be a family, and i hope a beautiful one at that.

You can read more about our days here:
www.littlebitsandbobbin.blogspot.com
See our little school here:
https://www.facebook.com/morningglorygarden

See what we sew and create at our etsy shop:

www.mosey.etsy.com

Follow us on instagram to see all the amazing dinners my husband cooks me! #morningglorywaldorfschool

 

 

 

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MamaWestWind, Stories…

Once there was and once there was not, a magical meadow on the edge of an enchanted forest. The forest was home to many magical beings. MamaWestWind knew them all…

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I fell in love with story when I was little.  As a child I loved nothing better than to lay outside under my favorite horse chestnut tree, feel the cool breeze on my skin, smell that green earthy smell of the grass, wildflowers & trees and be carried away by a book.  In my books I could travel to distant times and places all over the world.

When I became a Mom I really wanted to impart my love of story to my children.  One of the books that has captured our hearts is “Old Mother West Wind” by Thornton Burgess.  My boys and I really love the creative way in which the forces of nature are personified.  There is Old Mother West Wind who is the wind, her children the Merry Little Breezes, Old Dame Nature, Old Mother Moon and many others.

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So when I began making peg dolls for my three year old son and couldn’t stop, I knew an etsy shop had been born.  I didn’t have to look very far for the name of my shop, MamaWestWind.   I loved the idea that “Old Mother West Wind” being the wind, the very air around us, would know every creature in the forest. She would know the animals, the gnomes, fairies & all. My littles call me “Mama” & so MamaWestWind became my alter ego, my friend, my creative outlet & so began her story.

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Since that time my little shop has grown and I am so ecstatic to be doing what I love.  I get the privilege of creating little playthings, friends. that children then take into their worlds and imagine the most wonderful stories.  And so the circle is complete.

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(picture by a happy customer & photographer Jacqueline Leigh)

Please visit me at my blog, Chocolate Eyes where I blog about crafting, homeschooling, gardening , just life with three boys in the sunny Southwest.  I recently wrote a post about my brand new studio, so come for a tour!  Also check out my shop MamaWestWind on etsy.   For shop updates and giveaways “like” my MamaWestWind Facebook page.

MamaWestWindblog

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My Enchanted Life

As the weather gets warmer my days get busier so I need meals to be simple. I run a full time business, The Enchanted Cupboard, while running my household and homeschooling 4 children. I need to keep our meals healthy and nutrition filled! I love this recipe because it is what I make with the last 2 chicken breast when I am doing big batch cooking and it is packed full of yummy veggies. Dicing up the veggies and adding it to chicken salad is a great way to boast your kids diet with lots of color that are full of antioxidants! I serve this for lunch on whole wheat bread and a cup fruit salad. You could easily make this low carb. and gluten free by serving it on big lettuce leaves like a wrap! If you like this easy recipe and want more come checkout my own blog and see what is cooking in my kitchen.

Mama’s Chicken Salad

Ingredients

2 skinless boneless precooked chicken, diced
2 stalk celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 med. size onion dice
1/2 red pepper
1/2 yellow or orange pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 cup prepared or homemade mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a mixing bowl, toss together the chicken, veggies and herbs. Set aside.
Add mayo and mix gently until combined.  Salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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On my work table I often have much smaller versions of play food just right for Waldorf Style dolls. I work with wood and paper clay to make play food.

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This sweet little set is made of wood and is just right for doll house dolls. I so enjoy creating for this miniature world of childhood play. Come on over to the Nature Table and see what is cooking at the Acorn Cafe.

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The Acorn Cafe

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On the first day of Spring the world was a buzz of activity at the Acorn Cafe.

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Everyone was enjoying the wonderful food made by Miss Dandelion.

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Grandpa was having his favorite tomato sandwich.

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A few fairies stopped in for tea and sweets.

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Four forest friends enjoyed an after noon treat.

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All were happy on this bright spring day.

Items on the Nature Table:

Wooden toys, playsilks, and dolls can be found at The Enchanted Cupboard.

Felt Woodland Friends can be found at Muddyfeet.

Acorn Cafe  and table & chairs were created by Willodel.

 

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Handmade Holidays: Tutorial for Sweater Pants

Pants made out of sweater sleeve is a classic in our house. They are comfortable, cheap and easy to make. I always get compliments on them when my little guy is wearing some. When I explained how easy it is, they all say : What a great idea!

This is a very easy and quick project that the even the I-barely-ever-touched-a-sewing-machine beginner can do.

You’ll need:

  • Sweaters
  • Thin or wide elastic for the waist.
  • The recipiant children’s pair of pants for a guide.

Cut out the sleeves of your sweater. The older the child, the bigger sweater you’d like to use.

Fold guide pants in half and place over sleeve. Cut.

Turn once sleeve inside out. Put the right side out sleeve into the inside out one.

Sew along.

For the waist, Method 1:

Serge the waist or double fold it. Sew along leaving a place to insert the elastic.

The elastic should be the circumference of the waist. Insert, sew both ends of the elastic and close the whole.

Method 2 : this one is less pretty, but it’s useful when you know there won’t be enough room for the butt if you fold at the waist. Some might want to use a coordonating color one. You can easily dye elastics. Ultimately it doesn’t show when there’s a shirt over it.

Take a wider elastic and sew ends together. Place wrong side facing elastic over right side facing pants and sew or serge around.

Now you know what to make of that pile of sweater people always give you ( I know I’m not alone! Someone even gave me only the sleeves…) I always make a pair of those for the Winter Solstice morning and they are always a hit.

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Make a Jacaranda Seedpod Gnome

It’s the time of the year where the Jacaranda tree is starting to get its summer blossoms here in the Southern Hemisphere and the seedpods are starting to fall.  The Jacaranda Tree is a beautiful subtropical tree with gorgeous purple flowers that bloom two times in a year, in early spring before the leaves return, and then again in summer after the leaves have grown.

The seedpods are perfect to craft with and create cute little gnome ornaments.  They are perfect for the Nature Table, Christmas tree, or just as a playful ornament around the house.  Here’s a brief tutorial for a craft you can do together with your kids.

 

Items needed: jacaranda tree seedpods (remove the seeds if the pod is opened up) that have some of the stem still attached, wooden beads (14/15mm), felt, thread/embroidery floss, needle, scissors, craft knife and craft glue.

 

First, select a seedpod that you want to work with and check if the bead fits over the little stem.  Shave some of the stem off with the craft knife in case that the joint is to think (be careful though!).

Cut a piece of felt in shape of a triangle that will be the gnome hat.  We made a long pointy hat, but you can shape it as you want.  Thread a needle with embroidery floss or a few strands of thread and sew the hat.  We used the blanket stitch to do this.

Put some craft glue on the stem of the seed and slide the bead on it.  Let it dry.

 

Take another piece of thread – this will be the loop from the head on which the gnome hangs – and thread the needle.  From the inside of the hat, find the top and stick the needle through, pull the thread through and then stick the needle back into the top of the hat again – a loop had formed on the top of the hat.  Take the two ends on the ‘inside’ of the hat and knot them securely together a few times so that the knot is large enough to not slip through the top of the hat.

Put some craft glue on the top of the bead and place the hat on it, let it dry thoroughly and you are ready.

 

 

In case you have no Jacaranda Seedpods available, you can also find the ready made gnomes in the ziezo shop

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Thrift, Repurpose & Beautify

Earth Day is coming up.  I love to think about how I can live more simply and enjoy what I have.  I like finding ways to get the things I need for less and beautifying what I already have.  In line with this I recently did a project I’d love to share.

I wanted a painting bin.  When we do our watercolor paintings, in our Waldorf inspired home school, I am forever looking for our supplies and making multiple trips from our art closet to the table.  A simple cardboard box would have been fine to keep all my materials together but I love beautifully crafted things.  I wanted a paint box that inspired us to paint!  With this thought I found my way to the thrift store and picked up a possibility.  This sturdy wooden garden caddy was only a $4.  I brought it home cleaned it up and set to work.

This project has so many possibilities and variations to think about.  Art bins, garden bins, anything you need to organize can find a beautiful home.  I did a similar project, though not quite as thrifty, making a beeswax crayon caddy out of an herb box.  You can see that project on my blog, Chocolate Eyes.  I can imagine finding an old wooden box to plant veggies in and beautifying it.  Recently I found a wooden cd crate that is going to be a perfect home for a couple of herb pots.  I’ll be wood-burning that as well. Warning: once you get the wood burning bug it’s hard to shake.

For this project Beatrix Potter kept coming to mind.  We love Beatrix Potter books!  So giving a nod to the garden aspect of my garden caddy and the painting aspect of Beatrix Potter’s beautiful watercolor illustrations, I chose an illustration from The Tale of Benjamin Bunny. In this Illustration Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny have found Peter’s clothes and are now stealing onions from Mr. McGregor’s garden. Those mischievous rabbits remind me of my two little ones.

  • Begin by finding your inspiration.  Draw something or find something online that you would like to add to your wooden item.  Google “coloring pages” of the theme you’re interested in and you’ll find all sorts of free print outs.  Here’s one with fairies, dragons, elves & all things magical.   And here’s another for Peter Rabbit coloring pages.  This is where I found my line drawing print out. You can do something very simple like a flower or a few leaves, a sun, moon, rainbow or a henna-like design of dots, whatever sparks your imagination & is meaningful to you!
  • Also before beginning look at your wooden item.  Is it unfinished wood?  Does it already have a stain on it?  Does it need sanding?  If it has a patina than it’s probably been stained. If you want to paint it using watercolor you may need to lightly sand it for the watercolor to sink in the wood. Or you can use acrylic paint and not worry about sanding it.  Your choice.


  • Gather your materials.  You will need…
    a freshly sharpened pencil, powdered graphite or graphite sticks or charcoal, scissors, tape, wood burner & watercolors or acrylics, if you want to paint it. Plus beeswax wood polish to seal the wood.

  • Cut your print out to the dimensions of your wooden box or bin. Then darken the back of your print out by using the side of a graphite pencil. Or you can use graphite or charcoal sticks or powdered graphite, whatever you have on hand.  If all you have is a no 2 pencil that that will work just fine.  I had some powdered graphite so I used that. Fill in the back of your print out with your chosen graphite or charcoal.  Cover the entire back, leaving no white.

  • Then draw over all of the lines in your print out with a freshly sharpened pencil.   This will leave a pencil line on your wooden item.  Make sure to tape it down so it doesn’t move. When you feel you’ve gone over every line check for lines you may have missed by pulling up one end & peaking under.  There are always a few lines missed.

Here is the penciled illustration. It looks dingy because of the graphite. (Sorry for the glare.)

  • Then go over your lines with your wood burner.  I use the flat edge tip on my wood burner because I like the clean line it makes.  If this is your first time using a wood burner practice on a scrap piece of wood first.  Try burning long lines, short lines, wide and narrow curves.   Twirl the burner on its tip to make dots.  Go slow and have fun with it! ( If you don’t want to wood burn you could even use a permanent marker to draw your design.)
  • When finished with the wood burning clean the graphite or charcoal off with a damp rag and a mild cleaner.  I like to use vinegar & water.

  • Then you can decide whether you want to paint it.  I added a little color with Stockmar watercolors.  I like how it makes the illustration pop.  Once it dries, go over your painting & the entire item with beeswax wood polish.  You can make your own, here’s a recipe from this blog.  Or you can buy from an etsy seller like Natural Kids Team shop, Birch Leaf Designs.

Here’s my caddy mostly filled and ready to be used!  It could even fit a small pad of paper inside.

I hope this gets you thinking about what you can thrift and beautify.  Let’s care for and give new life to the material items already on this earth. Make the earth happy and have a happy Earth Day!

 

 

 

Becca Thornton is a creative stay at home Mama of two sweet, little boys & wife to her high school sweetheart. They are Northeast transplants living in the sunny   Southwest.  A typical day finds them soaking up the sun playing, gardening, baking, crafting & homeschooling.  Find her at her blog, Chocolate Eyes. & visit her shop, Mama West Wind, where she upcycles wool & sells Waldorf inspired toys & decor.

 

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Eat Local – Support your Famer’s Market

Friday is an exciting day as I plan to do my shopping in the morning at my Local Farmer’s Market. I love all the fresh and yummy food but I also love getting to talk to the local farmers. Since we are in the planning stage of our future farm the local farmers are a wealth of information. Supporting local businesses is the best way to improve the economy.
I also like to find plants that are not going to be at my “big box” garden center. I picked out some berry bushes and the kids got popcorn plants. We love getting to see how these new items will work in our garden. It is also great homeschool research work for the kids to look up how to care for the new plants. So this week skip the grocery store and shop at your local farmer’s market. Find local Farmers Markets in your area, LocalHarvest.org!




Produce you will find in the Spring:
(some of these are not found here in the East but may be found in your area)
Baby Lettuce Mixes ~Early Spring and again through Summer and Fall
Broccoli ~ Early Spring and again in late Fall and Winter
Broccoli Raab ~ Early Spring and again in late Fall and Winter
Fava beans ~Through early Summer
Fennel ~Early Spring and again through Summer and Fall
Garden Peas/Petit Pois ~Through early Summer
Morels ~Maybe be found as early as late winter depending on the weather
Mustard Greens ~Early Spring and again in Fall
New Potatoes and then other varieties ~Through Summer
Radishes ~Early Spring and again in Fall
Ramps ~Also known as the Wild Leeks of the Appalachia
Snow Peas ~Through early Summer
Sugar Snap Peas ~Through early Summer
Asparagus
Amaranth Greens ~Through Fall
Artichokes ~ Spring and again in early Fall
Arugula/Rocket ~Through Fall, but most tender in Spring
Carrots ~ Spring and again in late Summer
Celeriac Root
Chives ~Spring through Fall
Collards ~ Spring and again in Fall
Dandelion Greens
Fiddlehead Ferns
Garlic ~ Spring and again in Summer and early Fall
Green Onions, Sweet Onions such as Vidalias
and Other Varieties
~Through Fall
Lemons ~ Spring and again in Fall
Mangoes ~ Spring and again in Summer
Pineapple ~ Spring and again in Summer
Rhubarb ~Through Summer
Sorrel ~ Spring and again in Summer and Fall
Spinach ~ Spring and again in Fall
Turnips ~ Spring and again in Fall
Watercress ~ Spring and again in Fall
Apricots ~Through mid Summer
Blueberries ~Though Summer
Boysenberries ~Through mid Summer
Cardoons ~Through late Fall
Chard ~Through Winter
Cherries ~Through early Summer
Loganberries ~ Through mid Summer
Olallieberries ~ Through mid Summer
Plums ~ Through early Fall
Pluots ~ Through early Fall
Raspberries ~Through early Fall
Strawberries ~Through early Summer

Post by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

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What’s new, and, well, natural from the Naturalkids 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.


Babus – From teethers to felted dolls, everything you see in this shop is made with love and by hand by Michelle in Silver Spring, Maryland. Michelle says,”Using sustainably produced wool yarns, I knit and wet felt all my toys to make them fuzzy, warm, sweet and enduring.”

Here is her Original Baby Chain Wool Felt Toy.

AshperJasper‘s Vicky is an artist/homeschooling Mum (to Asher and Jasper) living in Southern California. Originally from England, she moved here after falling in love with a young American artist on a painting trip to Italy. Her husband has been contributing wooden toys to her store for about a year. Vicky says,”I love that we can work creatively together again! I have to admit that I am a wool addict. I LOVE the stuff. We are a family floating in a sea of wool and wood at all times.” They offer natural wood and wool toys and accessories. Here most recent post to her Etsy shop is an invitation for you to begin felting with her Deluxe Needle Felting Starker Kit for Beginners.

Armadilo Dreams is a husband/wife shop run by Dustin and Amanda. They live in Central Oregon. They say, “We combined our love for our children, natural materials, woodworking and Armadillo Dreams was born! Together we make an awesome team and love to work together as a family.” Here is their Rainbow Birdie and Wooden Egg – Toy Play Set.

Those are the featured new items for this week. What a rainbow of delightful treasures from one of a kind felted baby toys, to felting starter kits to lovely wooden toys! All are made 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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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!

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Nature Table, The Mess of It All

Everything gets a little messy from time to time even our beloved Nature Table. Sticky hands and messy play can do a little damage but never fear all can be cleaned. With a little care your natural toys will last many lifetimes.


Unfinished Wooden Toys:
Regular care: Clean with a damp sponge, but do not soak unfinished wooden toys as they will absorb water. Alternatively, wipe gently with a cotton ball moistened with rubbing alcohol. Wood needs to have its natural moisture replenished in order to prevent it from drying out, warping or cracking. The best way to keep your wooden toys hydrated and well-nourished is with a natural oil or wax, like plain mineral oil or beeswax polish. Periodically rubbing with oil or beeswax will help refresh the wood and provide some protection.

Stains/Discolorations: Fine-grade sandpaper may be used to remove any discolorations/stains (from food, crayons, markers, etc.).

Water Damage: Fine-grade sandpaper may be used to restore the toy to its desired smoothness if the toy has been exposed to water and become rough.

Finished/Painted Wooden Toys:
Regular Care: Wash gently and quickly with soap and water. Please do not soak them.
Stains/Discolorations: Spray and wipe with a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water.
 Play silks
 Recommended care: Hand or delicate cycle cold wash, hang or air dry.
 Felted toys
Care: Spot clean with a damp sponge do not soak in water.  Best kept indoors.

There are other great items from our team members on the NaturalKids Team website:
http://www.naturalkidsstore.com/cat_tables.html

Please leave a comment and share with us some ways you celebrate spring!

Article by Beccijo, The Enchanted Cupboard