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Bringing Spirit Into Your Seasonal Celebrations

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about marking seasonal transitions in your family after I had written a letter to my friend about the same. She and I are both leading our children through Waldorf inspired homeschooling and family life but neither of us have any particular religious leaning and we both have struggled with the role of festivals, as most of the festivals typically celebrated by the Waldorf community seem Christian based. Even those celebrated with mass appeal (Christmas, Easter, etc) come from a Christian stand point. So, why celebrate them at all, if you can’t relate? Or celebrate them in purely a nature based way. You could do this, and believe me I found this tempting, but I think if we do that we miss all that these festivities have to offer.
I have always had the philosophy that life is worth celebrating and these celebrations need to serve as the cornerstones of our year. Grace, of the blog ‘Uncommon Grace‘ writes “If there is one thing that I would like to share with any young family just finding its way, it’s this: seek celebration, and embrace it. You will be blessed many times over.” And I wholeheartedly agree! But how are we to relate to any of them? For me, the most important to celebrate are those that highlight essential elements of the human spirit and help to align our spirits to the natural and cosmic world.

With my children we are taking them one by one, not all, at least not all at once. And feeling out how they pertain to us and how they can enrich our lives. I am also reexamining many that we have taken for granted over the years and celebrated in ways typical to our culture.  Last winter we started with St Lucia Day, St. Nicholas Day and the Winter Solstice. You can find my reflections on putting spirit and sacredness back into our celebrations here. I didn’t want to celebrate these days with the focus of materialism,  but wanted to truly emphasize the reason for celebration. If you follow the links for each day you can read how we brought meaning into them for ourselves. St. Lucia can remind us all to be a shining light in the world and the giving spirit of St. Nicholas is something we all should foster in ourselves. What lives to celebrate and emulate!

This week we are joining in Michaelmas celebrations for the first time. This festival really speaks to me. It focuses on taming or slaying our inner dragons and gearing up our courage and strength as we proceed into the dark of the year. The archetype figure associated with Michaelmas is, of course, Michael, the archangel responsible for throwing Lucifer into hell and is usually portrayed carrying a sword and slaying a dragon. “He is the Angel of Courage, the Angel of the Fight Against Evil.” But, it is not necessary to view Michael in literal terms. He is a representation of basic human qualities that each of us must reach deep into ourselves and find in our time of need, in this time of coming darkness.

In our home we focusing our homeschooling activities around Michaelmas this week, learning songs, telling the stories of George and the Dragon, Story of the Star Children and *The Story of the Harvest Loaf. Our crafting is also Michaelmas themed. I don’t expect my small children to fully be able to grasp the significance of this festival, or any of them, but we start slowly and are laying a foundation of celebration and seeking what is holy and sacred in life. In time, as they grow, the meaning will come and, I believe, will enrich and nourish their souls.

Below you will find resources that may help you further understand and incorporate more festivals and celebrations into your own life.

Festivals General

*All Year Round– A book filled with seasonal stories, activities, crafts, poems and recipes.

Anthroposophy and Waldorf Education: Do the Festivals have a Future?– Article

Festivals– Understanding how the festivals relate to us and the changing seasons.

The Inner Year– The soul’s calender of enlightenment, healing and creativity

Festivals, Family and Food–  Another book of seasonal stories, activities, crafts, poems and recipes.

Michaelmas (articles)

Michaelmas- The Soul’s Season of Dragons and Courage

Michealmas Is Coming!

Celebrating Michaelmas

Michaelmas Thoughts on “The festival of Human Becoming”

Julie Hunter is a single mama raising 3 spirited girls, two babydoll sheep, angora rabbits and a gaggle of chickens and ducks in the North Carolina Foothills. She spends her days at home, crafting with her children, homeschooling, taking long gathering walks in the woods and knitting Waldorf-inspired toys. You can find her blogging and keeping shop at This Cosy Life.

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What I’m Loving- Michaelmas


Dragon Egg – Blue

$20.00

Needle Felted Wool…

$485.00

Hand Painted Silk C…

$150.00

St. George and the …

$124.00

Waldorf Toy , The O…

$14.00

FIRE of 4 – traditi…

$18.90

Wooden sword and le…

$35.00

Angels playing the …

$10.00

Waldorf Autumn Cand…

$14.95

Wooden Egg Baby Rat…

$30.00

Felt Autumn Fairy W…

$15.00

Gold Window Star Wa…

$9.00

Knitted Goosey Gand…

$22.00

Needle Felted Campf…

$12.00

Felt Doll- Red Fire…

$18.00

Set of (2) Needle f…

$14.00

Michaelmas… an Etsy treasury created by This Cosy Life

Since Michaelmas is coming up on Thursday I thought I would share some links that may inspire your celebrations.

♥I think we will be making a candle for Michaelmas next week using this ingenious tutorial

♥How wonderful is this  this dragon bread?!

♥Dye golden capes with goldenrod

♥St. Michael’s Harvest Song

♥A recipe for dragon soup

♥Sew a felt dragon

♥Bake a Michaelmas pie

Feel free to share your on links you plan to use for your Michaelmas festivities!

 

 Julie Hunter is a single mama raising 3 spirited girls, two babydoll sheep, angora rabbits and a gaggle of chickens and ducks in the North Carolina Foothills. She spends her days at home, crafting with her children, homeschooling, taking long gathering walks in the woods and knitting Waldorf-inspired toys. You can find her blogging and keeping shop at This Cosy Life.

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Long Mountain Art Interview and Giveaway

This week’s member giveaway is coming from Brittaini, who runs the Etsy shop Long Mountain Art.

Hi there I am Brittaini from Long Mountain Art.  I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my boyfriend Aaron and our son Santiago who is 7 and our daughter Adelina who is 15 months.  I grew up in Farmington, Michigan and when I graduated high school I attended Capital University here in Columbus with an Art Education degree.  I just started my 9th year of teaching high school art for Columbus City Schools.  My desire to be an artist has always kind of been my driving force.

I have always been a creator for as long as I can remember.  I am very lucky to be a part of a family of creative people with multiple Aunts, Uncles and some Grandparents having unique talents. I love creating with my hands and dabble in a bit too many mediums.  I had started my independent career by making and selling pottery and jewelry but that felt like too much of my soul to be selling away.  I needed to find a medium that I could not only make money at but that I felt represented me philosophically as well.

I have always been into natural living and knew that is how I wanted to raise my children.  When I was pregnant with my son, I did everything as natural as possible including not finding out the sex which created some problems when trying to prepare for him.  There was such a lack of gender neutral clothing and I felt like I was left out…like the commercialism of gender identity in the marketplace was more important than my feelings of wanting that big surprise moment.  It became worse when my son was born.  We are tatooed and pierced parents…boring trucks and played out dinos were way too boring for us!  My son was the inspiration for my clothing line; he is the reason I was able to focus on this medium and try to make something more out of it.  To create clothing that is interesting and different while being good to the earth and feeling absolutely luxurious against the skin. Its so interesting how for so many years I couldn’t focus on one material.  I was pretty good at a lot of stuff but not a master at anything.  Having children helped me to shift and consolidate my thoughts into one force although I by no means am a supermama.  Working full time during the school year and trying to run a business part time while running a household and trying to follow as much attachment parenting as I can is hard work…but all worth it.

Today Brittaini is giving away the above zebra shirt, in the winner’s choice of size. It is available in onesie, toddler or youth shirt.

Here’s how to enter;
Visit Long Mountain Art and leave us a comment letting us know what your favorite item in her shop is.

For additional entries;

(leave a separate comment for each entry, if you don’t, they count as one)

Tweet this (include @NK_Store in your tweet

Share on Facebook

Blog this giveaway

Follow the NaturalKids blog

 

Giveaway is open wordwide.

We will choose a winner randomly on October 29, 2011. (Please, make sure we have a way to contact you!)

Julie Hunter is a single mama raising 3 spirited girls, two babydoll sheep, angora rabbits and a gaggle of chickens and ducks in the North Carolina Foothills. She spends her days at home, crafting with her children, homeschooling, taking long gathering walks in the woods and knitting Waldorf-inspired toys. You can find her blogging and keeping shop at This Cosy Life.

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What I’m Loving This Week


Hooded Bamboo Toddl…

$50.00

STORYTIME ANGEL – n…

$27.00

Billy Goats Gruff -…

$52.00

Natural 7″ Wal…

$22.00

Wood Teether ABC al…

$20.00

Lovely Autumn Waldo…

$28.00

Save

$4.00

Tinder – Upcycled W…

$104.00

Wool Moustache, han…

$10.00

Summer Camp/ Native…

$28.00

Wooden Pull Toy – R…

$24.00

Needle Felted Waldo…

$38.00

Mr. Sun Teething Bl…

$24.00

Tiny wood waldorf e…

$4.50

Sale Today Only – W…

$22.40

Play Crown/Wand Dre…

$27.00

Etsy treasury created by Rjabinnik

This idea for teaching weaving

An apple verse

♥A braided fabric handle to transform a simple basket

♥I’m thinking several of these ‘Quiet Book’ pages will be a wonderful Solstice gift for my busy toddler

♥My girls and I made several of these yarn apples… fun!

♥Teach children to greet the day with yoga

 

What are you loving this week?

 

Julie Hunter is a single mama raising 3 spirited girls, two babydoll sheep, angora rabbits and a gaggle of chickens and ducks in the North Carolina Foothills. She spends her days at home, crafting with her children, homeschooling, taking long gathering walks in the woods and knitting Waldorf-inspired toys. You can find her blogging and keeping shop at This Cosy Life.

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Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

My girls and I picked this sweet book out at the library this week… it’s already a favorite. It tells the story of Fletcher the fox and his favorite tree.

Fletcher begins to notice “The world was changing. Each morning, when Fletcher bounded out of the den, everything seemed just a little bit different.” He begins to notice the once green forest turning to rich shades of gold… including his favorite tree, which was beginning to look “dull, dry and brown”.

Fletcher becomes very worried about his tree, not understanding the changes of autumn. He does everything he can to protect his tree’s leaves from being taken by the woodland animals and blown away by the wind
But, of course, try as he might every last leaf falls from the tree. In the end, autumn’s gold is replaced by the glittering icicles of winter and Fletcher declares “You are more beautiful than ever”.

This is such a  wonderful book to highlight the changing seasons, full of soft, warm images. And, it’s one that I love to read, just as much as my  girls love me reading it to them.

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves is available here, or check your local library.

Julie Hunter is a single mama raising 3 spirited girls, two babydoll sheep, angora rabbits and a gaggle of chickens and ducks in the North Carolina Foothills. She spends her days at home, crafting with her children, homeschooling, taking long gathering walks in the woods and knitting Waldorf-inspired toys. You can find her blogging and keeping shop at This Cosy Life.

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Interview With FeeVertelaine

Today we’re going to meet Julie, who runs the Etsy shop FeeVertelaine. Her sweet shop is full of lovely Waldorf dolls and tiny wooden gnomes. Let get to know Julie, now.

Tell us about you!

My name is Julie, I’m Canadian and I live close to Montreal. I’m a single mother of one daughter. I believe that motherhood is a blessing!! My life completely changed with my daughter’s arrival….I’ve taken the “natural” lifestyle path. I’ve always been creative…drawing was my favorite activity. As a child I drew so much that I developed a little bump on my middle finger…you know where the pencil leans…? So when I grew older I decided to become a fashion designer for children. I loved it!!! It was so much fun to earn a living doing what I loved. But after many years, the rhythm of this job made me sick…. it was RUSH… rush rush all the time. So I had to either stay unhappy or change my life. I chose to change my life!! This is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and my daughter. I’m a strong believer that life can be happy, simple and fun  and that our experiences, if we learn from them , can help us understand who we are and find our path!!!


Tell us about your business!

FeeVertelaine is a business, but it represents much more for me. 🙂 I made my first doll 3 years ago for my daughter as a Christmas gift. She was admitted to a Waldorf school and I took a class to make a doll. It was a revelation for me. After having worked in fashion design I needed to spend time outside and truly connect to the earth, so I worked in landscaping. After 2 years I realized that I needed to create again and dolls came into my life. Everything that I loved about my past work was involved: Choosing fabric, mixing colors, creating new styles, choosing ribbons and accessory….But even more than that my new “natural lifestyle” was nourished by all the natural fibers that are used in a Waldorf inspired doll….I was totally in heaven!!! So I thought that combining the two “jobs” would be perfect…working the earth during summer time and making toys and dolls during winter! I did not know anything about being a “business woman” but I decided to DO it, and followed my bliss!! I created many prototypes to achieve the perfect body for my dolls and a couple of other little toys. I started to sew everything up. When I’m working it really feels like a treat! I cannot be any happier!


What do you make and how long have you been creating?

As I mentioned earlier I make natural dolls and little toys. All my creations are done in 100% natural fibers, except for the buttons and velcro. I LOVE wool and I’m really blessed to be working with that precious fiber. It’s soOoo vibrant to create with natural material and I truly believe that the toys are healthier and vibrant. At this moment, I have created two doll styles, one that is fully dressed and measures about 15” and another cuddly doll created specifically for little children that older ones enjoy too! I also make clothing, a little diaper bag set, and many little set of toys . I create ready to go home doll and custom doll as well.

Where do you find inspiration?

My first inspiration was Waldorf toys and dolls. I love their philosophy and that way of life. That being said I’m not a “strict” Waldorf person , that is why my toys are a mixture of Waldorf pedagogy and me. Colors are a real inspiration to me also….I just loOoove vibrant colors. It makes me happy!!! Also fabric…a lot of time fabric will inspire me a specific doll! Of course everything around me inspires me as well…. and yarn… Oh there are so many beautiful yarns out there.

What got you started in your craft?

Curiousness…and LOVE of crafting, creating!!


What’s your favorite thing you have ever made?

Oooh my that is a hard one!!! hmmmmmm …………………………..honestly I don’t know ha!ha!

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?

I think I’ve been on Etsy since spring 2009….but I started to be serious in late fall of the same year. At first it was hard, there were so many things to learn. I remember when I created my shop it was such a BIG thing for me (making a banner, avatar, all the description…ouff!!) but now it’s so easy and simple…I acquired experience. I’m so thankful to Etsy because they gave me the opportunity to reach an audience that I could not have reached any other way, a worldwide audience. This is great! I love it! It is such a great experience and tool. I often make the comparisons of internet selling with throwing a rock in water….at first it just drops on the bottom….but then it starts to make little waves and grow wider, and wider, and wider… You have to believe in yourself and in what you do!


What advice do you have for other Etsy artisans?

Perseverance! Rome was not built in one day. 🙂 You have to create something that you truly enjoy making., because you are going to give it LOTS of hours ha!ha! Then you become better and better in your craft and learn the basic of internet selling ONE thing at a time. Your shop will not be perfect at first, and that should not stop you from starting it! You are going to be more and more experienced with pictures, description and everything else by practicing and reading others advice. Open yourself to create with all your heart and soul…GIVE IT EVERYTHING! People will FEEL that and they will enjoy what you do. BE yourself and honest all the time! Don’t play a game. LOVE yourself enough to create your life and be confident that you deserve to be successful in what you do. NEVER give up on your dream, whatever it may be….my dream was to be happy in everything I do, to be monetary independent and to have flexible working hours. What is your goal? Know your goal!

What do you hope to gain or contribute to the Natural Kids group?

I hope that I can help my team mates when they need some answers, or advice! I don’t consider myself a “pro” but I will always be happy to share what I know 🙂

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?

Natural toys are one of the greatest gifts you can give to your children. LOVE is the most important one 🙂 When we artisans create these toys we give it all we have, heart and soul, and I believe that children FEEL that special energy They will be surrounded by that “splendid” energy and have fun! Naturals fibers and wooden toys are alive in a certain way. They come from the same source as we do, so we can relate to them. We feel better with them around. A plastic doll is so cold and rigid, a wool doll is soft and warm. I think that more comfort emanates from natural toys and a sort of closeness to nature can be felt, too! The more your children will be surrounded by nature the happier they will be!
Share your links:

Julie Ouimet
Poupées FeeVertelaine Waldorf dolls
Etsy Shop
Poupees Fee Vertelaine Dolls
Join me on Facebook
FeeVertelaine is now on Flickr

 

 

Article written by:

Julie Hunter is a single mama raising 3 spirited girls, two babydoll sheep, angora rabbits and a gaggle of chickens and ducks in the North Carolina Foothills. She spends her days at home, crafting with her children, homeschooling, taking long gathering walks in the woods and knitting Waldorf-inspired toys. You can find her blogging and keeping shop at This Cosy Life.

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Art of Felting Winner

The winner of this beautiful work of art from ‘The Art of Felting’ is…..

 

Cynthia Toy

 

Congratulation, Cynthia! I’ve already contacted you via your Twitter account. You have 48 hours to get back with us

 

Julie Hunter is a single mama raising 3 spirited girls, two babydoll sheep, angora rabbits and a gaggle of chickens and ducks in the North Carolina Foothills. She spends her days at home, crafting with her children, homeschooling, taking long gathering walks in the woods and knitting Waldorf-inspired toys. You can find her blogging and keeping shop at This Cosy Life.

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The Art of Felting Interview and Giveaway

Today’s giveaway is from Daria, who’s Etsy shop is called The Art of Felting. Her shop is full of such wonderful, magical creations, all made from wool. Let’s get to know Daria a little better.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
About myself shortly:
Born in Minsk (Belorussia) I live in Israel. I’m a Mother for three adorable daughters 7, 5 and three year old, studying in Waldorf
educational system. I work mostly with natural fibers (wool, silk and others) and the field of my activity is quite wide, for I create
tapestries, dolls, felted animals and different items for natural tables. It’s hard to say what my favorite is.

What inspires your creations?

I draw my inspiration from the world around me, observing my kids and their friends, from studying the Steiner legacy. Sometimes I
wake up with a ready image in my mind and feel necessity of creating it. One of the most important sources is found in the costumers’
orders and feedback.
How do you balance your family life with creating?

I’m busy all the time with my family and my art. My art is a part
of my life as my family is. My kids play with toys I’ve made and run
natural table with felted items.  Thus it’s hard to say how I balance
it, it comes naturally as breathing.
When did you start creating?

Art was always a big part of my life. I was painting sculpting and working with clay trying, to express myself in different artistic
mediums. I was introduced to the world of felting through the Waldorf community. The kindergarten, which my elder daughter started visiting, did not allow storing bought toys so I made her one, then another one. Next thing, I was making all her friends toys too. Little by little it became not only a hobby, but also a business.
What thoughts do you have for parents on natural toys for creative play?

According to Waldorf education is very important to develop kid’s imagination. The knowledge and experience he/she will purchase with the years, but the importance of childhood is to keep and support the source of creativity by playing with natural toys which inspire imagination.
Today Daria is giving away this needle felted Waldorf King Winter-standing doll-soft sculpture. King Winter is a relative of Santa. Sometimes they come together, but more often King Winter comes earlier and stays longer. The presents he gives are much less personal: white frost decorating the windows in your room, the snow banks shining in the rays of the cool winter sun, and festal white clad trees.

Here’s how to enter;
Visit The Art of Felting and leave us a comment letting us know what your favorite item in her shop is.

For additional entries;

(leave a separate comment for each entry, if you don’t, they count as one)

Tweet this (include @NK_Store in your tweet

Share on Facebook

Blog this giveaway

Follow the NaturalKids blog

 

Giveaway is open wordwide.

We will choose a winner randomly on September 15th, 2011. (Please, make sure we have a way to contact you!)

 
Julie Hunter is a single mama raising 3 spirited girls, two babydoll sheep, angora rabbits and a gaggle of chickens and ducks in the North Carolina Foothills. She spends her days at home, crafting with her children, homeschooling, taking long gathering walks in the woods and knitting Waldorf-inspired toys. You can find her blogging and keeping shop at This Cosy Life.

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Marking Seasonal Transitions

As we begin to enter yet another seasonal shift, transition has been on my mind. In many subtle ways we shift easily into one season and out of another, with a change of clothing, adjustment of temperature in our homes, perhaps a new variety of foods grace our tables. But, how are you celebrating and marking the seasonal shifts with your children? Are you bringing their attention to signs and changes? Are you making them aware of how these shifts affect them in their own spirits? All too often we are disconnected from the natural world and we loose sight of what it all means and how it really affects us. We are unprepared for the pull of the season on our spirit and loose our balance with nature.

A dear friend wrote to me recently, stumped on marking the seasonal transitions and making them meaningful for her family. I gave this much thought and wrote back to her with some different ways we bring focus to the changing seasons in my home. I would like to share some of the points of my letter to her with you here.

Right now in the northern hemisphere we are about to go into Autumn. The equinox is on the 23rd of September. But how about beginning some preparations now? In our home we have a nature shelf. We don’t have space for a table and my toddler would make it impossible to have one right now, anyway. A shelf, placed in a focal spot of the home, is a good alternative. Make sure your children, that you feel are old enough to handle things gently and respectfully, are able to reach it so that they may contribute little things they find as they want to.

On it we place any items that represent the season to us. Some are items we buy or mama makes, but much of it is things my girls and I have made together or we have found when gathering.  You could begin by going out for gathering expeditions. Gather up and encourage your children to do the same, anything you think speaks of autumn and you could use in crafting.  The Children’s Year is an excellent resource for seasonal crafts.
You can go ahead and begin creating things together for your nature table (or shelf), putting them aside until fall is actually here. For my own children this builds up an excitement and awareness of the changing season and they keep  wondering ‘Is Fall here, yet?’ Going out and gathering, looking for certain things that say fall to them make them eagerly on the lookout for the subtle changes that occur.

On the night before the equinox or solstice I pull everything from our shelf, so, when they wake in the morning it’s ready to be filled with all of the things we have been collecting and making. It’s such a joy to see all of the new things up and things that I have purchased or made without showing it to them previously, that they are not sad to see the other things go away.

Also, I have explained to my children what is occurring with the sun (waning days) and during the various times of the yr, as they wax and wan, my girls  have become very aware of this. Even with young children you can talk to them about it in the simplest of terms just to make them aware. Maybe say something at a certain point each evening (dinner?) about where the sun is that day and eventually they will catch on that the days have gotten shorter or longer. It could become a little ritual. The point is, to draw their attention to these seasonal changes so they can experience them and be connected.
Another way we mark the transition is through food. I’ve mentioned here before, for breakfast we have eggs and toast one day and oatmeal the next, and we go back and forth. Once or twice a week we change it up with muffins or biscuits or fruit smoothies… things like that. But as the seasons shift I like to include something very seasonally specific. Such as, often with our muffins this summer we put berries in them, strawberries, blueberries. For fall we will make apple muffins, letting the girls help me chop and I always love to do just about anything with pumpkin! Just little additions that bring a little bit of the season to the table.

Gentle, subtle changes in your home are going to make your children aware of the changes that are occurring and will help your whole family find balance with nature.

There is a part two to my letter to my friend, a few thought on seasonal festivities and how we can relate to them, regardless of religious/spiritual leanings. I will be sure to follow up with that  next week.

 

Julie Hunter is a single mama raising 3 spirited girls, two babydoll sheep, angora rabbits and a gaggle of chickens and ducks in the North Carolina Foothills. She spends her days at home, crafting with her children, homeschooling, taking long gathering walks in the woods and knitting Waldorf-inspired toys. You can find her blogging and keeping shop at This Cosy Life.

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What I’m Loving This week


Seashells Sand Glas…

$32.00

Bath Salts, Relaxin…

$9.50

Autumn Glowing Wood…

$14.95

60″ Sun rug, M…

$282.00

Waldorf doll, dollh…

$45.00

Sea Salted Caramel …

$13.00

Poppy Enamel Earrin…

$30.00

Felt Animal – Tiny …

$9.50

Carved Wooden Anima…

$60.00

Waldorf Toy-Autumn …

$10.00

Wool Crayon Holder

$35.00

Baby Bird Mobile in…

$42.00

Waldorf Toy – Woode…

$58.00

Twirling Wand : Twi…

$22.50

Baby Doll – Blue St…

$29.00

Waldorf Doll in Sky…

$20.00

Etsy treasury created by darialvovsky

♥Autumn edition of Rhythm of the Home

Thoughts of upcoming celebrations

♥I really want to make a book bunting!

Halloween goodies from my Natural Kids teammates

This

Mmmm…. I can almost taste Autumn, can’t you?

 

Julie Hunter is a single mama raising 3 spirited girls, two babydoll sheep, angora rabbits and a gaggle of chickens and ducks in the North Carolina Foothills. She spends her days at home, crafting with her children, homeschooling, taking long gathering walks in the woods and knitting Waldorf-inspired toys. You can find her blogging and keeping shop at This Cosy Life.