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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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Using a Peg Loom

Growing up, my parents always gave my brother and I a craft to do for Christmas. My husband and I have taken on that tradition ourselves and this year we got our family a peg loom.

Peg looms are a very simple loom design that are often seen in Waldorf kindergartens.  Comprised of a solid base with holes for removable pegs and pegs with a hole in the bottom for the warp to go through, the design really is very simple to make.  The great thing about peg looms is that you only put in as many pegs as you want the width of your project to be.

We got a large loom but started off on our first project with only a few pegs.  Putting the warp thread through the bottom you only have to weave in and out of the pegs back and forth.

When you are done the length you wish, you pull the pegs out slowly and pull the warp thread through carefully.  Then when all the warp threads are through the weft, you tie off their ends and you have your project.  We then felted our project by throwing it in our regular wash and drier and made it in to a doll pillow.

Because it is so simple to use, you can make a project in no time.  My daughter, who is three, made this project in 15 minutes with minimal guidance by herself.  You can make chair cushions out of roving, rugs, and coasters.  We love ours and are looking forward to more creative projects to come.

 

 

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A walk through Nairobi (Toy on a Walk Series)

Hello all!

Greetings from Nairobi, Kenya!  We are bunting baby dolls from the ziezo label and we would like to take you around our garden and neighbourhood, now that we woke from our nap under the baby pawpaw tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the flame tree, with gorgeous red – orange flowers blooming now that we are reaching the end of the long rains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we lay under the pawpaw tree, these are the dark skies of the rainy season. . . the sun is hiding behind the clouds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two of us like to climb trees and bushes, and there are plenty of those around in our neighbourhood and garden.  Here we are in a baby banana tree and a mango tree, unfortunately there are no fruits on them at the moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we are in a small acacia tree.  It’s difficult to climb this one, because of the long thorns.  Did you know that giraffes can eat the leaves from these trees despite the thorns?  There is something in their saliva to soften the thorns and then they pluck the leaves off with their tongue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once in a while we visit the Waldorf Kindergarten in Kileleshwa, and we then like to hang out in this lovely shrub that smells so nice and is commonly called “yesterday, today & tomorrow” (Brunfelsia) because of the different colours the flowers turn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you go for a ride in Nairobi, you have to be ready to wait, traffic jams are the matter of the day because of the number of cars, the state of the roads, and ongoing construction for the “Vision 2030” plan.  Here’s a view of the Nairobi Arboretum at the bottom of the hill, and some of the road construction around it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And in some places the old road has been replaced by a new dirt road to allow for road improvements, while you also can see the rapid construction of new apartment buildings that are replacing the single standing houses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, after a bumper to bumper drive to Karen, reknown from Isak Dinesen’s (a.k.a. Karen Blixen) ‘Out of Africa’ it is also nice to be ending up in the lovely green environment of the Nairobi Waldorf School there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nairobi and its environs have lots of sunshine (even in the rainy season), but one thing that is always certain as you could see in most of the pictures, there is never a lack of some dreamy clouds in the sky with many imaginative creatures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We liked taking you on a short tour and know that we soon join our friends in the ziezo Designs shop to find a new home and explore new places on this lovely earth.  However, now it is time for a nap again. . .

 

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Interview with Oast

This week we take a close up look at Oast with owner and artist Rachel.

Tell us about you
Hi, I am Rachel and I am a Canadian living in the UK. I live in a small farmhouse in rural Kent. We don’t work on the farm but benefit from watching the seasons change in the orchards and the beautiful birthing that takes place with the cows and sheep in the spring. The mark of the land in this area is the oast houses, which are the buildings where hops are dried for making beer. We happen to have a group of them that I look at as I craft and others on the rolling hills beyond the farm. My environment is very important to me and my surroundings are the ideal place for my small family to live. I have one husband, one child, and one one on the way. Another child, not another husband… oh you.

Tell us about your business
Oast is a Waldorf Doll shop. I have focused mostly on dolls for children 0 – 3 years old. That is starting to shift and I am enjoying the process of making jointed dolls for older children but they rarely make it as far as the shop.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in children. I love to watch how they connect with their toys and what they chose to attach themselves to. It is a powerful thing to observe, and often far out of the rationalization of adults. By this I mean, what we would chose for our children seems to rarely be what they would chose for themselves. Like the idea that children like the box a toy comes in more than the toy itself. I see that with dolls as well. Parents are drawn to the dolls with full heads of hair a bit more detailing while their young children are attracted to the simple faces and soft bodies. This helps me trust my craft and inspires me to see the special qualities in each developmental stage that corresponds to certain doll types.

What got you started in your craft?
As is the story of many Waldorf doll makers, I made my first one for my daughter and have been going strong ever sense. It is addictive to create something that a child will grow and share with. After seeing and hearing how children respond to the dolls themselves, I fell even more in love with the process. There is nothing like watching a child hug one of my dolls for the first time.

What’s your favorite thing you have ever made?
My daughter. Seriously the best craft project ever, and the most consuming.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I have been on Etsy nearly a year and I have found it slow going. I sell a product that has a lot of competition and I am just slowly making my way. I enjoy the process of creating and know that as long as I maintain the standards I have set for myself, the rest the sales will continue to come.

What do you hope to gain or contribute to the Natural Kids group?
I am pretty isolated where I live. The UK has amazing fiber arts and a lot of natural crafts people. I don’t have access to them on a regular basis from where I live. I hope to continue to be inspired by the NK community. I love the process of creating and also the professionalism projected by the team. I work very hard at not only making a high quality doll that is safe for children but one that will make many journeys. The Natural Kids group follow this same ethos. The doll makers on the Natural Kids Team are all amazing and I feel so happy to be amongst them. I am hoping that I will be able to contribute to the team through my enthusiasm and love of community.

Share your links:
oast.etsy.com
oast.blogspot.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/58465055@N05/

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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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A Knitted Friend Born from Love!

Every child loves to have something to snuggle and love. I still have my first teddy bear a hand-me-down from my brother but my bear was so loved he hardly has any fur left. For my own children I wanted something that was a little different. I didn’t want something born from a factory.

For my daughter I wanted something made with love, something she would cherish and keep forever. I wanted something born from the love and imagination of the maker. Something made with loving hand that gently took some beautiful yarn carefully selected and then lovingly stuffed with the same care.
 

Etsy is a great place to find such items and Sara was just the right artist to create this toy for my daughter. Words from the artist; “Knitting is my passion – the colors, the textures, I love it all and hope that you do too! My favorite things to knit are animals…” If you don’t know these wonderful toys from sight, then you must take the time to look in a lovely shop, Woolies by Sara.

I highly recommend these wonderful woolies for your next gift giving. Need another reason? Just check out Sara’s feedback to know how much her customers, not just me, love her work. Read what some of her adoring fans have said…

Cutest sheepie I have ever seen! They dont have a button for how positive this sheep is! Thank you so much. She will be loved for years and years :0) she turned out wonderful!”

The best, softest, sweetest monkey! He looks lovely in his purple overalls and he is dearly loved by his new owner! Thank you! The best things do come in brown paper packages tied up in string!!”

He is so adorable I can hardly stand it! He really has so much character, he’s a welcome addition to our home :)”

This is a true and honest product review, all items reviewed were purchased by the writer of this post. Beccijo Neff

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Mini Monday

The journey backwards through the alphabet brings us much delight! All handmade goodies that please Mother Earth and bring smiles to any face! 

Drumroll Please…The NaturalKids Team on Etsy proudly presents:

EntWorks – From the UK, this creative little shop will have any child giddy over her goods!

Dria is a long time lover of dirt, defines herself as a teacher, mother, artisan, wife, scientist, tree hugger, rock collector, friend, and nerd who’s seemingly not outgrown her fondness of frogs.

 

Elemental Handcrafts – Stephanie is from Connecticut and has my heart with her needle-felted pregnant and breastfeeding dolls! She is also Mama to three amazing, home-schooled, environmentalist kiddos. She loves working with her hands and finding fun ways to make new things out of old and creating toys and gifts her kids would enjoy- and therefore other families as well.

Driaa – From Isreal comes Dria. Dria has many sweet things in her shop!  She is a doll maker, and mother of three little girls. She sews when she has some spare time. Dria lives in a small village in the hills of the Galilee, and loves to garden and grow vegetables as well. She uses new, vintage and second hand fabrics, but tries not to mix new and used in the same project.

All of this handmade goodness comes to you from the NaturalKids Team! Thanks for checking out these wonderful shops and we will see you next Monday!

Smiles and warm sunny days,
Wendy with BirchLeaf Designs
BirchLeaf Designs on Facebook
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Natural Kids Giveaway! Happy Earth Day!

From the Natural Kids Team! Fabulous array of gifts to be won – in honor of Earth Day, and because we use all natural materials to create.

Simply go here:
http://www.etsy.com/treasury/4db068be92738eef9319079a/win-this-naturalkids-team-earth-day

And leave a comment to be entered to win. Winner will be chosen April 25th. If you’re not a registered Etsy user, you’ll need to register, which just takes a few seconds, really!

Good Luck, and Happy Earth Day!

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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

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Nature Table, The Sounds of Spring

On Sunday morning you would think it was Christmas here in our house as the sounds of 4 excited children ring out of our rafters. The night before, the Nature Table will be cleared of all signs of Winter and we will clean and pack our items away. Once the children are asleep the Spring decorations will be brought out and a few new items will be left by the Spring Fairies to add to our table this year.

This year, my mother and niece will be joining us for our celebration. Since this has not happened yet, I will share with you today our Spring Ad from the NaturalKids Team. As with the Nature Table, our ad changes with the seasons. This lovely collection of handmade items can be found in out team members shops. There are so many delightful items in our shops you may need 2 tables.

Rocks and Pond by http://www.etsy.com/shop/MuddyFeet
Mushroom House by http://www.etsy.com/shop/cutelittlething
Bendy Princess by http://www.etsy.com/shop/dannielle
Green Play Silk by http://www.etsy.com/shop/birchleafdesigns
Bunny by http://www.etsy.com/shop/fairiesnest
Pink Felt Doll by http://www.etsy.com/shop/alkelda
Hedgehog by http://www.etsy.com/shop/dayanra
Trees, Wooden Fairy Doll, and Shy Playsilk by http://www.etsy.com/shop/theenchantedcupboard

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