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Stitches and Songs: Alkelda Dolls in October

Greetings to all of you from Alkelda Dolls!  My name is Farida. I make wool felt dolls for children’s creative play and storytelling, though teens and grownups have been known to bring my dolls to their desks for quiet inspiration. The dolls can travel in your pocket, too– just be sure to tuck them into a silken bag to prevent the wool from “pilling.” This is my fourth year with the NaturalKids Team. As a little background to my shop’s name,  when I started on Etsy, “Alkelda” was my username. Alkelda (pronounced “al-kell-dah”) is an apocryphal English saint whose name means “sacred spring” or “holy well,” and whose feast day, March 28,  is my birthday.

Here in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, autumn is in full swing.  I ran by Lake Washington for the first time in months, and was happy to see two of my favorite trees with their vibrant array of red and yellow hues. I was inspired to make these yellow and red leaf babies for the shop:

leafbabies sept13

Yellow and Red Leaf Babies

In the realm of academics, the blue math gnome provides some wise counsel to the Ladybug Witch (with removable hat) and Ladybug Child. The counsel may be this: “Regardless of your natural skill levels, the things worth learning require time, patience, focus, and determination. Ask for help and clarification when you need it, and persistence in learning what you need to know. I am here for you, and you are not alone.” Speaking of witches, I have some salamander and bat themed friends who would be most willing to be part of your Halloween Fairy tradition (whereby the Halloween Fairy gets the child’s candy and receives a present in return).

The Blue Math Gnome has a conversation with the Ladybug Witch and Ladybug Child
orange and black2 oct13
Bat and salamander witches













Elsewhere in the shop, the Black Heart Queen (a tribute to rock and roll musician Joan Jett) and the Grey Knight are in the early stages of courtship. The Grey Knight enjoys composing sweet, sentimental songs on his lyre, while the Black Heart Queen’s songs have a bit more edge to them. Regardless, both kinds of songs celebrate love and friendship.

black heart grey knight sept13
The Black Heart Queen (who is a big Joan Jett fan) converses with the Grey Knight.

Speaking of music, I was fortunate enough to attend a week-long guitar camp this summer. I returned home with renewed interest in learning new skills and new songs. I’ve taken up ukulele as well (I wrote a blog post on Saints and Spinners blog post about that new passion), though guitar will always be my first love. Here I am on Orcas Island, as the sun sets, learning on guitar the chords to Lucky Man, by The Verve:

sunset and guitar 1

This week, I’m playing a William Butler Yeats poem set to  12 bar blues by The Waterboys, called The Lake Isle of Innisfree.  If any of this talk makes you feel like you want to take up an instrument, but you’re not quite sure, I recommend watching The Mighty Uke. Making music is indeed within reach!

As the weeks progress, I will be featuring December festival dolls along the lines of angel-fairies, Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus), St. Lucy (Santa Lucia), and more. Please feel welcome to drop by for a visit. My fellow NaturalKids Team members would enjoy saying hello to you, too.

Warm regards, Farida Dowler

burglar nov12 Farida Dowler of Alkelda Dolls is a musical storyteller and dollmaker in Seattle, Washington, USA. She was recently   featured on Jama’s Alphabet Soup Indie Artist Spotlight. Farida is trained as a children’s librarian, and would enjoy talking about children’s and teen books with you if you were so inclined.

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Harvest Colors by Jess of broodbaby

This time of year I am as busy in the kitchen as I am the studio.  The bounty of the summer garden becomes a harvest that needs to be processed, packaged, and stored so that it can continue to nurture us through the long winter months here in New England.  Tomatoes are simmered into sauce, cucumbers are pickled, and fruits of all kind are frozen.  The bounty of goodies requires that I spend quite a bit of time chopping and slicing, but the rewards are many.  Not only will we have a taste of summer available to us in the dead of winter, but I’m finding I’m inspired by the colors around me in the kitchen.  The rich reds of the tomatoes and coral lusciousness of the peaches: suddenly I know what to do with the brightly toned stash of cashmere sweaters that I wasn’t quite sure how I’d repurpose yet.  A creative appetite has been satiated, as well now, as I envision a neighborhood of little playful houses growing on my studio shelves.

My Little House Cashmere Pillows have been a delightfully fun community to build.  Each seems to have its own personality, and all have a secret.  The front door to each one is a pocket!  Use it as a tooth pillow or tuck away messages or a favorite charm.  Perhaps a small little snack for later so that the house that was inspired by my kitchen work can repay its creation with afternoon fortifications.


Easy Frozen Peaches:

10 peaches
the juice of 1 lemon
1/8 cup of sugar

Combine the sugar and the lemon juice in a large mixing bowl.
Slice each peach into eighths.
Toss in the lemon and sugar mixture in two or three batches.
Lay the slices out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze.  Once frozen, bag or pack them in containers of your choosing for storage.

Listing link:
Shop link: <>

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~In the forest ….something magic happen !!

Ahhh Summer !!!
Back to school is right around the corner, my DD and I did enjoy one of the last week end of warm weather, we spent a couple of days in the forest ~~ We went camping !! Awww I just loOooove camping !! I don’t know about you but the forest is a place where I deeply feel that this is where I belong….
When I was putting up the tent, my daugther found a little ”fairy house” on a big rock near our camping site, how exciting !! She did work on it the whole day enjoying adding little bedding and a table all made of leaves and mushroom. The little cottage quickly became a palace !! I SO enoy looking at her imaginary world….these moment are preciosu to me. Even more since she is now 12 and I feel like her childhood days are nearing the end…so I cherish these moment dearly !!
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The next day her best friend came over and they created a new little house of their own….very beautifull !!
At dawn, I secretly brought a little apple that I found close to the road….when they discovered it they where SO excited…and thought that it was a fairy present. The next morning, she was very suprise to find a little ”bite” in the apple….a fairy bite !???
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I deeply feel that these little house are great ways of searching for little special things in nature and I truly believe that fairies LOVE to sleep in them while we are sleeping too 😉 !!
I can imagine my fairy dolls having a lot of fun dancing around them too…
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Wishing you a happy back to school everyone <3
Take care,
~Julie xo
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Making Bird Feeders with Harvestmoonbyhand

My daughters and I recently made a variety of homemade feeders and seed mix for the birds. We have enjoyed watching a variety of birds eat at the feeders: nuthatches, blue jays, black-capped chickadees, downy woodpeckers, gray catbirds, house sparrows, and purple finches.

These recipes are easy and fun to make; and watching the birds provides entertainment, enjoyment, and educational value for people of all ages…especially children.

Peanut Butter Bird Seed Balls
Peanut Butter Bird Seed Balls 
before they were placed in the freezer.


2 cups bread crumbs
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour (use whole wheat if possible)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 cup unsalted nuts
4-5 chopped apples
1 cup raisins
1 8 oz. jar chunky peanut butter
1 cup bird seed
1 c. suet


Mix ingredients well. If necessary you can add additional suet or even bacon drippings if it is too crumbly. Shape into balls. Freeze.

These can be placed in a mesh bag and hung outside on a tree limb for the birds to enjoy. Otherwise, do as we did: place them on top of birdseed in an open feeder.

Popcorn Bird Treat

Popcorn Bird Treat before was placed in mesh bags.

Peanut Butter
7 cups popcorn (no salt or butter)
Blanched peanuts, Craisens, raisins, and/or dried blueberries
Egg shells
Cracked corn
Black oil sunflower seed


Mix all together and put in a mesh bag. Hang in the tree for the birds to enjoy.

Hanging the feeder filled with popcorn, fruit, and 
other goodies for the birds.
Suet and Meal Worm Log Feeder

Log – about 2 feet long that is dry
Eye screw
Drill with various size drill bits
Dried meal worms
Twine or heavy yarn

Place eye screw in one end of the log. Using a drill and various size drill bits, place many holes in the log that are about 1/2 deep.

Drilling holes in the log.

Fill with suet and dried meal worms.

Placing suet in one of the holes.

Put twine or heavy yarn through the eye screw and hang onto a tree branch. Make sure the branch is thick enough to support the feeder.

Two birds at the feeders.

As a side note, within one minute of coming indoors from hanging the log feeder in the tree, a black-capped chickadee found it. From that point on, there were many bird visitors of different types (mostly chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers).

Ann Rinkenberger is the owner of Harvest Moon by Hand that offers natural, hand-embroidered and needle-felted toys; Waldorf-inspired window stars; and homeschool supplies. 

To see other hands-on projects, tutorials, recipes, and homeschool ideas, please visit Harvest Moon by Hand’s blog. Harvest Moon by Hand also can be found on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

Window stars available through Harvest Moon by Hand.

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Mamma4earth Toys and Patterns and a Giveaway



I’m Linda, founder and owner of Mamma4earth knitted Toys and Patterns. I thought I would tell you a little about myself and my business. My mother taught me to knit when I was 5 years old, I have always enjoyed knitting and what started out as a hobby has now grown into a business that I enjoy tremendously. I can honestly say I love my job! I have connected with amazing people from all over the world and learned so much from many of them.


I am a stay at home mom and I’m so grateful that I can be with my children and work throughout the day, always being here when they need me. I also feel very honored that I can contribute towards our family financially because of my business.


When creating a design, I study an animal’s habits and movement for hours so that I can capture their personality within my stitches and create a design that reflects their true shape and character. When I knit toys for my shop I always use natural materials and stuffing. I like the fact that they will not leave a blemish on the earth one day in a landfill because they are natural…

Glider the WhaleI love knitting custom orders for my customers, it stretches my creativity into new areas and makes me grow:)


Thanks so much for stopping by our natural Kids Team blog here today and visiting…

You can also find me here:

Blog: Natural Suburbia








This is my new Mamma4earth pattern e-book that I have just published. Within the book are these 7 knitting patterns featured in the above photo and a tutorial on how to finish off my knitted toys. I would like to offer 4 of these e-books as a giveaway to 4 readers (1 pattern book per person)

To enter this giveaway, please leave a comment in this post, to earn extra entries please share about this giveaway on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest and leave a comment here for each extra share.

Congratulations to:

Abbe King

Super cute patterns!


Love your realistic looking animals – just the right size for kids to love on! Blessings to you!

Alina Coroian

your toys are beautiful

Susan D1408

Wow they are fantastic! I would love to win this for my auntie Dolly. Everything she makes is for charity.


Thanks so much for entering! I will email your e-books off to you.

Anne, could you send me your email details thanks, and I will send you your pattern book.

Have a wonderful week,

🙂 Linda

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Why I made it: Swaddling Baby

I recently added a new item to my shop. It’s a sweet doll sized swaddling blanket with a miniature baby. It’ s always exciting when you come up with a new idea for your shop. It’s important to keep creating new designs. Why? For one thing, it keeps you from getting bored.Who wants to make the same item over and over again?

Also it keeps your customers excited about your creations when you constantly add new cute products to your shop.

Nk swaddle baby 1


I was inspired to create this particular item in my shop by my youngest sister’s pregnancy. I had recently visited her in Germany. I packed a number of baby items that I had saved for her.

When you are only allowed to carry 25 pounds of luggage it’s hard to decide what to bring…So I mostly took things that I thought would be useful and clothing items that my mother had knitted for my babies.

Our mom passed away in 2004. It’s hard for me to think about how she will never get to see or hold my sister’s baby. It must be sad for my little sister, too. But I know these knitted clothes and baby items that my mother sent to my kids will mean a lot to my sister.

Nk swaddle baby 2

So upon my return I realized I forgot a thing or two. One forgets so much…I had not thought about nursing bras in years.  My sister still needed one. They are quite expensive in Germany. I still had one laying around in a drawer. Why does one hang on to those things? Why can’t we let go of stuff? I fondly remember the days of nursing my two children. How can you throw it away? And who would want a used nursing bra anywasy? It’s an item you can only pass along to a sister or very good friend. 😉

NK rosalind with baby 3


As I wrapped up the nursing bra and some washable nursing bra pads my eyes spotted a swaddling blanket. I instantly knew my sister would need one of those. I had never seen one in Germany. They are not handed out in hospitals to new mothers like they do in the US. It is probably one of my fondest memories: Recieving my newborn babe wrapped in a little swaddling blanket.

Next an idea hit me: why not make a tiny swaddle blanket for my miniature pocket dolls? That would be so cute gift for an expecting mother or a sibling gift. And I had just the right fabric to do so. The little sweet pea blankets come in a blue-green or pink version.

NK green swaddle baby 3 copy

My sister loved the little green sprout I sent her for practice along with the bigger blanket that will soon hold her sweet new baby boy.


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Weekend Tradition

Our family lives far far away from our relatives.  While we live as expats in Kenya, the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all live in the Netherlands, Germany or the USA.

Our kids are growing up in a mix of Dutch, German and host culture traditions and customs and they have been third-culture children their entire life.  We have five different countries of birth among the six of us and four different nationalities (our latest addition is still in process and you can read more about it here)

Since we are so far away from our families, my husband and I feel the need to create a lot of family traditions and ground the children in their various cultural backgrounds.  One of our traditions is a nice weekend breakfast!  It’s an activity that involves the entire family in the preparation.  Our current favourites are either thin pancakes, from a Dutch recipe that our nine-year old has down to a science, or German waffles!  The latter involves a lot more adult assistance and supervision, but the results meet an exciting crowd each time.


Our waffle iron is the exact same waffle iron that my husband had waffles from when he grew up in Germany.  My dear mother-in-law brought it over to Kenya at one point in time as she saw it to be more useful here in Kenya, than it would be in Germany between her and my father-in-law.  Boy, was she right and her grand-kids have been very grateful for that!  The 70’s waffle iron gets pulled out on a regular basis and we enjoy the German waffles!

Do you feel inspired to make waffles sometimes?  Then try this lovely recipe for some yummy waffles!  It was originally from a German Cookbook, but has been altered (or perfected?) to suit our family’s taste!

  • 125 g softened butter
  • 50 g sugar
  • 1 packet of vanilla sugar (or 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence)
  • 4 eggs
  • 250 g flour
  • 375 ml buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. First split the eggs (egg whites in one bowl, egg yolks into another small bowl).  Add the salt to the egg whites and beat them until they are stiff.  Place the bowl in the refrigerator.
  2. Mix the butter, sugar and vanilla sugar until creamy
  3. Add the egg yolks to the butter mixture and beat until creamy
  4. Slowly add the flour and buttermilk to the butter mixture until all are incorporated
  5. Carefully fold the stiffened egg whites under the dough

Preheat the waffle iron and put about 3 table spoons of dough into the iron for yummy waffles!

Delicious with powdered sugar / lemon juice and sugar / maple syrup / honey!


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A Weekend At Baker Creek

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company pretty much does just one thing – selling traditional heirloom seeds to a worldwide customer base. The seeds are not genetically modified and are not modern hybrid varieties. Instead, they are traditional seeds, passed down from generations of farmers: they’re the kinds of seeds you’d have traded with your neighbors for in less modern times. Because of that singular focus, they are able to take a strong stance against genetically-engineered food. The best way to make a difference is often through consistent, quiet work with an outstanding commitment to quality.

In the fifteen years since the seed store was founded, they have grown to offer almost 1500 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Their website can be found at

Pioneer Village

Baker Creek Pioneer Village

Baker Creek is replete with a Pioneer Village. There we found many interesting shops to visit; a seed store filled with heirloom seeds, gardening books and locally made items (the soaps smelled amazing.) There is also a mercantile and an herbal apothecary. And the freshly baked cinnamon buns at the natural bakery were, by far, the best we’ve ever tasted.  The Asian restaurant generously serves free tea and vegetarian lunches. At the outskirts of the village there are different animals to see including historic breeds of poultry. Our boys watched in fascination as the peacocks  showed off their colorful feathers.

Heritage Festivals

The first Sunday of each month, they host Heritage Days Festivals. And the first Sunday and Monday in May is the biggest festival, the Spring Planting Festival. The festival was complete with world-renowned speakers, old-time musicians, and over 40 artisans creating hand-made goods.

baker-creek-table-setupBorn At Home Toys was there, too. The Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri are the perfect backdrop to sell earth-friendly, natural toys.


This is our favorite of festivals, both to attend and at which to be a vendor.


Sand Pit

There is also a kids’ tent with face painting, live music, and other activities. Our boys spent many fun-filled hours in the gigantic mound of play sand.


In nearby Mansfield is the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum. If you’ve ever read the Little House books or watched “Little House on the Prairie”, you might recognize the name. This is where Laura and her husband, Almanzo, spent most of their life and where the Little House books were written. We didn’t have time to go because we were busy selling toys, but hear it’s a fascinating place. More can be found at their website:

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The Wonder and Why of the Willodel Shop

I love any opportunity to reach out to all the wonderful people who share common ideals of embracing what is best for our children, our homes and the planet.  And in the very heart of this matter,  is what my work and the Willodel shop is all about. All my life I have been passionate about the natural world, about art, about self-sufficiency, about creativity and original thought.  What began as “play” as a child when  I asked to build things out of wood and was given my grandfather’s old woodworking hand tools, turned into a life long journey and “work” that helped me raise a family and support myself all along the way. I was also given encouragement and freedom to make art and sew. This kind of path and journey is one that I think all children should have the opportunity to explore, to find things they love doing and that they develop into life long passions.  This is a primary reason that on my blogs I regularly create tutorials for families to learn new things and learn from what I have learned.  I hope to make more learning materials in my shop as well.

This is a learning set of the metamorphosis life cycle. It includes all the stages of the moth, a pouch to put them in and wooden branch hook to hang it  on. Also an information sheet.
This is a learning set of the metamorphosis life cycle. It includes all the stages of the moth, a pouch to put them in and wooden branch hook to hang it on. Also an information sheet.
This piece is made from hand gathered, windfall aspen and hand milled cedar. It is sealed with beeswax and natural oils.
This piece is made from hand gathered, windfall aspen and hand milled cedar. It is sealed with beeswax and natural oils.

I have found that if children are encouraged to develop their natural inclinations through their play, they develop a “can do “ attitude towards life and also take pride in their accomplishments. I think this is just as important for adults, to find creative processes which give them that sense of accomplishment and fulfillment .  I encourage this activity through my blog tutorials.

Wonderful "dishes" can readily be made with handtools out of seed pods such as acorn caps and gum nuts. This is a lovely adventure of gathering, making and using!
Wonderful “dishes” can readily be made with handtools out of seed pods such as acorn caps and gum nuts. This is a lovely adventure of gathering, making and using!


Developing the yard for natural habitat and making it a wondrous play space that children can help with is delightful!
Developing the yard for natural habitat and making it a wondrous play space that children can help with is delightful!

In the Willodel shop you find ususual things, made to inspire, to delight and to learn from and with.  They embody the spirit and beauty of Nature, whimsy to stir the imagination and provoke creative play. They also invite  making things to go with the pieces themselves.  The materials, natural wood and bent twigs, hand made felt and wool naturally dyed wool, lovely artwork and wee folk, create a stage upon which stories and adventure can come to life. Everything you find in my shop are things that I love and have a great desire to share and inspire more of it’s kind.  The colors, the textures and the feel of it all is very important. It is as unique as the each of our souls are unique and as different as the individual story we each have to tell.

The Gypsy Wagon! Stirring romantic notions in us all! The Elves, the Wrens, the Gnomes~ they all want to come!
The Gypsy Wagon! Stirring romantic notions in us all! The Elves, the Wrens, the Gnomes~ they all want to come!

The wonderful people that I have met through my work enriches my life every way. Their joy and thoughts forever inspire and provoke me to make and share more!  Without them this work would not be the same. The interaction with the families that receive my pieces is part of the larger picture of the whole process. It is the great vision of the beautiful network of people embracing similar values and desires , very much strengthening the belief that what is truly good is still very safe in the hearts of many.  This contact inspires more and greater creations, just as each time a piece of my work travels to a new and loving home and spreads happiness and joy, it is a completion of a circle.  This, of course, confirms that I am doing exactly the right thing!  Thank you all and keep busy with all the wonderful things you aspire to do!

I am a great believer in the "play mat". I think it creates a  special space and place for the stirring of the imagination and ones own creative ideas. It also is an opportunity to work with wool and felt, which I love just as much as wood.
I am a great believer in the “play mat”. I think it creates a special space and place for the stirring of the imagination and ones own creative ideas. It also is an opportunity to work with wool and felt, which I love just as much as wood.
This is a project I am working on now, with home dyed natural felt, the inspiration being wild peony flowers, which are felted on the sides and the roof.
This is a project I am working on now, with home dyed natural felt, the inspiration being wild peony flowers, which are felted on the sides and the roof.


The Fairy Garden is our Summer project. It was started in a large rectangular cement mixing tub, so it can theoretically be moved in winter. Adding details  such as a creek and a pond and many small things will be endless fun!
The Fairy Garden is our Summer project. It was started in a large rectangular cement mixing tub, so it can theoretically be moved in winter. Adding details such as a creek and a pond and many small things will be endless fun!

For more inspiration and information, please follow these links and thank you so much!

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Introduction to Outside Everywhere

We’re still fairly new members here in the Natural Kids Team, so I thought I would start off with a little introduction to our family and our shop.

I’m Allison – the designer and one of the makers here at Outside Everywhere. Daniel, my partner, is the wood-cutter and sander. Our nearly 7 year old son, Eden, gives us ideas for toys to make, and sometimes he helps paint toys as well.


Our home is in Asheville, North Carolina. We feel so blessed to live in such a beautiful place surrounded by absolutely breath-taking mountain views in every direction.  I stay home with Eden,and this year we’ve begun homeschooling. We’re having a great time figuring it all out. Daniel works during the days at a local natural foods store. In the afternoons, we are most often found in our backyard outside of our home studio. We spread out blankets, have picnics, sand toys, and take breaks to play with our dogs.

We consider our pets members of our family, so I just had to include them here…and plus, they’re really cute!
We have 3 dogs: Mason, India, and Gemma. We also have 2 cats, Beatrix and Poki.


Here are a few fun little things about us:
I love: cats (I’ve been obsessed since age 5), succulents, and I collect vintage pyrex dishes.
I do not love: onions, snakes with triangle heads, hot hot weather.

Eden loves: cats (he is his mama’s son, for sure!), bird-watching, and nature hikes.
Eden does not love: getting water up his nose, growling dogs, and brushing his hair.

Daniel loves: Harry Potter, reading books about religion, and birds.
Daniel does not love: being cold, impatient drivers, and cheap beer.

For the past few years we have been very fortunate to have an opportunity to take a vacation at the coast with my best friends. We all live so spread apart (Portland, Oregon; Columbus, Ohio; Charleston, South Carolina; and us here in Asheville, NC) that this trip is often the one time a year that we get to see each other. It’s so, so wonderful to be able to be with my closest friends and their families for an entire week. This year I got to meet the new daughter of one of my friends, as well as see another friend’s daughter I haven’t seen since she was 6 months old.




In thinking about our upcoming trip, we were inspired to make a few beach-related animals.

This great white shark is one of them:


We spent our vacation in Folly Beach, which is a turtle nesting site. Here’s our sweet little turtle:


And how could we resist making an animal as adorable as the manatee:


We came home with some new toy ideas -they will be in our shop soon!

You can find our shop, Outside Everywhere here
You can keep up-to-date on our shop stuff on our facebook page here
And here is our very new, still in progress blog here