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Dyeing Easter Eggs Naturally

Every spring my kids and I dye eggs for Easter. We do it naturally without chemicals and artificial colors, experimenting with different  herbs and colorful fruits and vegetables.

According to, “Many food colorings contain color additives such as Red No. 3 and Yellow No. 5, which, according to a 1983 study by the FDA, were found to cause tumors (Red No. 3) and hives (Yellow No. 5).”

Last year we had so much fun using the leaves and flowers to get some contrast to the rich sienna color produced from the onion skin, that I would like to share this method with you.

Take 10-12 white eggs. Get some fresh small leaves and tie them to the eggs with a string.  Place the eggs in a single layer in a pan. Add water until the eggs are covered and add the skins of 12-15 small yellow onions. Bring to a gentle boil, then lower heat, and allow the eggs to simmer for 20-30 minutes. The longer you leave the eggs to boil, the deeper the color will be. Remove the eggs, unwrap the string, rinse the eggs in lukewarm water and cool them. If you’d like to add a soft sheen to your eggs, coat them lightly with vegetable oil and polish with a cloth. As a result, you’ll get beautifully decorated Easter eggs! Enjoy!


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Play Food Product Review

My princess is a girl through and through, and one of her favorite things to do is cook for her dolls. We have bought all kinds of play food. In fact, sometimes there is more “food” in her playroom than there is in the kitchen. Some of the play food did not hold up well. Although I love having natural options, felted food pilled and got dirty fast. Soon it looked, well, unappetizing!

We have found that the knitted or crocheted play food holds up the best under heavy play cooking. Our very favorite kind is from Fair Trade Family. We bought this set in November of 2010 and as you can see in the photo they have held up well to serious play time. Fair Trade Family food selection is wonderful and plentiful. Her prices as fair and they certainly last and will become an heirloom toy to cherish.

Cotton Play Food from Fair Trade Family

Beccijo Neff is a toymaker, storyteller, and award winning Artist from Pennsylvania. She homeschools 4 children and is happily married. You can find out more about her life and her work at her blog . To see her enchanting toys stop at her shop, it will brighten and delight your eyes to see all the magical things she creates.

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Why I Made It: Artisans tell the stories that inspired their creations (Part 1)

The collective goal of the Natural Kids Team artisans is to create children’s imaginative toys, decor, and clothes from environmentally-friendly materials. Individually, we have different  inspirations and objectives for why we make what we do.  Recently, I asked my fellow Natural Kids Team members to tell me the stories behind some of their creations. I asked, “Why did you make it?” What follows are five artisans’ answers, including my own.

Sara Sacks of Woolies:

I think in another life I may have been a horse. I was born in the Chinese year of the horse. I’ve been in love with horses since the age of 2. Where our backyard ended, a stable began. My mother used to find me hanging on the fence, just watching the horses. I started riding at 4. I started a horse club at the age of 7. We were only allowed to play ‘horses’. I finally was able to purchase my first real horse at the age of 30. We now have 2 horses. They are the most amazing animals. I adore to make horses, in every color of the rainbow. Here is one of my Earth Ponies:

Rainbow Unicorn Earth Pony by Woolies


 Kristi Ashley of Tickety Bu:

Everything I make has been born out of necessity for our family, but the colors I use in my dyes tell the real stories of our lives. Each colorway has been inspired by an experience, most often with the kids. This one was picked straight from our garden. We spend all our time outside when it’s warm and we are lucky to have lots of heirloom hydrangeas in our garden. We dry the blooms every year and my daughter is especially fond of them. I think of her and all our summer adventures outside each time I dye this up:

Bamboo velour teether in dried hydrangea by Tickety Bu


Julie Ouimet of FeéVertelaine

I gave my daughter a little heart a couple of years ago and I still use it frequently as a little love note. When I make her bed, I leave the gnome on the pillow or I leave him with a little “snack.” It’s become a habit, and my daughter always enjoys this little gesture. The Valentine Love Gnomes I make for the shop leave room for your imagination. They’re good anywhere, just to say I love you!

Valentine Love Gnome by FéeVertelaine


Julie Ouimet's original heart for her daughter


Stephinie Miner of Gypsy Forest:

My Spindrift quilts are the most loved handmade item I offer in my shop. The shape of each quilt is hand drawn with a curvy edge that gives it a soft organic feel. The name spindrift is a nautical term meaning spray blown from crests of waves by the wind and was chosen to honor our family’s deep connection with the sea. The quilt however was inspired by a lovely colorful whole cloth quilt gifted to me over 15 years ago when my first baby came into the world. I was given kind but stern instructions that the quilt be used, and not hung upon the wall. It was a cherished gift that in time swaddled 4 babies, became the roof and walls of many blanket forts, and was clothes-pinned under chins as a cape. I always hope the quilts I send out will receive this much use & love.

Octopus in the Sea Spindrift Quilt by Gypsy Forest


Farida Dowler of Alkelda Dolls:

I wish I could have been one of those children who loved math from the beginning and learned to use it as a tool to comprehend the science I wanted to study. I wish I’d had a math gnome nearby to inspire and encourage me to persevere and be patient with myself when I puzzled over (and sometimes cried over) fractions, theorems, and story problems. As a grownup, I  was inspired by the math gnomes used in the Waldorf educational curriculum to make math-themed dolls for children, teens, and adults who would like some company during homework, check-book-balancing, and tax return times. I know I still do!

Math Gnome by Alkelda Dolls

These are just some of the stories my fellow artisans have shared with me. I look forward to bringing you more of their stories.

Farida Dowler of Alkelda Dolls lives in Seattle, Washington, USA, with her husband and daughter.  Saints and Spinners is her song and storytelling blog. Her favorite math songs are “Ten Tiny Turtles” and “Ladybug Picnic” by Don Hadley and Bud Luckey.


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Nativity in the Snow: a stop motion animation

I’ve always been fascinated with stop motion (or stop action) animation. Stop-motion is the process of filming stationary objects frame by frame to create the illusion of movement. One of the most famous early films to use stop motion animation was the original King Kong, made in 1933. Some of my favorite stop motion pieces are the claymation short films of Nick Park, creator of Wallace and Grommit. Wikipedia has an extensive list of films that use stop motion techniques, which you may read here.

Last month, I filmed a little video with the full nativity set I made with Bossy’s Feltworks, and used the wintery trees from the shop of Natural Kids Team member The Enchanted Cupboard. Other members of the Natural Kids Team are planning to make stop-action animation videos, too, so keep your eyes open for their creations! We plan to share them on this blog.

Happy December!



Farida Dowler is a musical storyteller in Seattle, Washington. She makes wool felt dolls for children and grownups. Her  Etsy shop is called Alkelda. Farida maintains a storytelling and song blog at Saints and Spinners.

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maybe not..

“Maybe?” I asked myself as I was sewing yesterday.
I pondered the reason why I put such a statement  on something I love to do so much.
I placed this sticker on my machine, sometime last year. I found it in some awesome junk mail. You know, the kind that gives you stickers?  {{{Stickers}}}
There was a NO sticker, a YES sticker and of course, the MAYBE sticker. I took the stickers and placed them in various areas in our home. I think I meant for it to be a joke at time.
The YES sticker was placed in the dish washing area. Yes was meant as an invitation for anyone whom, would like to nominate themselves for dish washing! {the real joke}
The NO sticker was placed at the bill desk. Bills…ugh…. need I to say more?
And MAYBE was placed on my sewing machine, because MAYBE I will get to have some real fun and sew today. But…maybe not.

Recently, many of my post this month on my blog have been about mindfulness and mortality. I seemingly have been growing in a new light and perspective of my life around me. I have caught a glimpse of what it might look like, when I’m in the last moments of my life, looking back on what I had and what I choose to do with it and feeling regret for not seeing what was really important in life. Be it the dirty laundry piling up sky high or the the little child who needs some help working out an idea.

As I continued to sew, that MAYBE sticker just wasn’t suited for me any longer. The sticker that should have been on all the things I love to do is YES. Always YES.     Saying no or maybe later reminded me of a quote that Marianne Williamson once said:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne WilliamsonA Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles

Suddenly, the mundane cleaning and chores just don’t seem important  anymore. Sure, they need to be done here and there. But, seriously…am I going to hang for not doing the laundry today? But will I regret it later when I missed being with my children or filling their lives with as much laughter as I could? My eyes are wide open. It is really that simple. The hard part is to remember it and then practice it.

 In this moment, beauty is before us, when we stop and remember where we are. It is why I love sewing so much. I find that sewing is an exercise in spirituality, a practice of being present in the act of sewing. Some days, I find myself in autopilot, walking around without any real awareness of what I’m doing or just a human-doing rather human-being. The art of sewing and the art of living happily are the same. The common denominator is the mantra.. I am here.

When I am here, I see the sun, the trees and the sky…and I am happy.

I see all the true joy is around us. Our family and connection with loved ones.

Its those pretty little crafting messes that are just so colorful and free and full of life. I inhale these moments into my heart and mind.

Its those little hands that are always busy, reaching and playing. Coloring and painting. Dancing and singing. Thank you to those little hands.

The MAYBE’s in my life are no longer acceptable practices. I will no longer wait to make time to have a life of joy and wonder. I will take all those things I want to do, down from the shelf of my mind today, and do something, anything that rewards my soul and fills my pitcher.

Our moments to be here are right now. I won’t wait a moment longer to love them all! And remember, when you get lost and forget where you are, just look down at your two feet and say to yourself….

“I am here”. And all is okay.

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Creating for Imagination

I started to create for my daughter. She was 1½ year old, and I stumbled upon gorgeous felt fruits and gave it a try. It was addictive and soon I had made any fruits and veggy on my mind, pastries, cakes… you name it! I looked to Etsy listings of awesome mama-made items and replicate some for my little girl’s joy. Some items had “Waldorf inspired” in their listing title. “Waldorf, what is that?” I wondered. That’s how I learned about that awesome pedagogy, and that’s how I knew I wasn’t so insane for wanting my kids to play with natural, handmade, beautiful toys. I truly feel that without beepy, shaking, overwhelming plastic toys, my children are able to create their own worlds.

Needle felted Waldo…


Wee Ladybug Bendy F…


Natural waldorf toy…


Fly Agaric toadstoo…


Sale Today Only – W…


Waldorf Wooden Rain…


Woodland Toadstool …


Lovely Lavender str…


Needle Felted Waldo…


Mushrooms on a log


wool felt playmat -…


poppy the wee felt …


Three Cute Handmade…




Waldorf Toy – Wool …


Carved Wooden Anima…


Creating for Imagination– Etsy treasury created by demilunes

Handmade playthings feel so much more personal and alive. The fact that they are most likely to be unique, and will wear the signs of good use adds to the special feeling of every pieces you make and acquire. When children see you make things, their brain turns into a real creative mode, where anything is possible. “Mommy, can you make my fairies some pillows?”, my daughter asked yesterday. We browsed through bit of scraps and I made her wee tiny little pillows filled with wool. She was ecstatic and played on her own for an half of hour more.  And what a reward, to see your little ones playing with objects you made from scratch!


Article written by;

Andréann Larouche is a stay at home mommy of two little pixies, sharing her life with her my best friend by the St-Laurent River in the province of Québec.  In the middle of nursing and caring for a toddler’s need,  she sew, draw, paint, create toys and take pictures to tell on her blog Aux DemiLunes. She sells her creations at DemiLunes Dolls.

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Fun In The Sun Natty Kids Style

Check out what the Natty Kids were up to this weekend. What fun things did you and your own natural kids do? We’d love to hear about it!

Whether it be tending the garden

Or admiring the year’s crop.

Bubbles are always a favorite, as is a healthy snack (just not at the same time!)

How about a quiet walk in the woods to spy some fairies?

No fun in the sun is complete without water of course.

Braving something new,

Some sensory play,

Or just the thrill of cooling off.

Fun in the sun is calling, what will you do?

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The Importance of Natural Play

Born into an artistic family, I have, from an early age, learned to love and cherish the creative process with its ups and downs and often surprising results. Having only a limited number of ready-made toys, my family would use different materials found all around our house to make our own toys. My grandmother would collect scraps of cloth and sew dolls for me and my brother, while old shoeboxes and drawers would serve as doll house furniture. As I grew up, I began to make toys myself, transforming old woolen sweaters into blankets and capes for my dolls and digging up clay from our backyard to make figurines and beads. Looking back, I am very grateful to my grandmother for teaching us to view even the tiniest and seemingly useless piece of cloth as a possible prompt for exploration and inspiring us to follow our own fantastic imaginations in our play.

Today everything aims at providing the most realistic experience, with mass-produced toys overflowing with life-like details, thus, totally dismissing the need for imagination. Toys with specific pre-determined functions utilize electronic features such as light, sound, and motors to engage the child, usually making him or her the passive spectator. But, as research has shown, it is very important for the child to actively participate in his own play, to complete a toy using his own imagination, which, in turn, plays a key factor in his social, moral, and physical development. Thus, for example, tying a silk scarf around the shoulders as a cape or placing it on the floor and playing among its folds as if it were a river allow the child to explore the world around him and communicate his feelings in a stress-free environment. Such open-ended toys also allow the child to adapt the toy to whatever game or situation he most relates to at that moment, again aiding in the development of not only his imagination but also his relationship with the adult world.

Natural materials such as silk, wool, and wood also provide a very different tactile experience from the plastic usually used for manufactured toys. Besides the comfort and warmth afforded by the natural materials, there is a great variety of textures available for the child to explore, further aiding his development, as opposed to the relatively uniform texture and unnatural coolness of plastic. Moreover, natural toys minimize the child’s exposure to harmful toxins which are abundant in mass-produced plastic toys. Especially dangerous are the dioxins contained in #3 PVC plastics, the Bisphenol-A (BPA) added to #7 plastics to make them rigid, and the synthetic dyes, containing heavy metals, used to produce bright, saturated colors. All of these are considered to be some of the most toxic poisons known to man, and now imagine the harm such chemicals can inflict on the developing body and brain of a child at this especially critical stage of his life.

We as parents should try to resist this new technological impulse, not giving into the temptation of using television and computers to keep our children busy but encouraging natural play. Encourage them to spend more time outside, maybe even helping you with yard-work such as raking and gardening, which provides them with inspiration for their own future games and symbolic play. Chose simple toys and teach them various crafts, all of which develop their imagination as well as offer loads of fun.

This beautiful article was brought to you by Daria. She sells her beautiful dolls and natural children’s items in her Etsyshop NobbyOrganics.

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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.

Rebecca aka Nushkie
Nushkie on Facebook

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Stoking the Creative Fires

Wanted to share a little bit on how I keep making stuff fun!
I happened upon a radio program the other day the other day where a Native Canadian was speaking about what winter means to her and her people. The snow blankets the land to put it into a deep sleep to help it rejuvenate for the next year. Her people spend long days in close quarters with one another, telling stories, preparing food, cleaning, and resting. Sounds like a plan.
I plan on using a typically slow time and cold weather to it’s full advantage. This past winter season was the first for me to participate in craft shows and having no idea what to expect I pushed my little production line (me) on full tilt. I didn’t have any time to explore other ideas that would pop up while I was busy sewing 20 little hats, 40 legs, 34 totes… I have always been a painter and since babies, painting has not come easy for me but thankfully, I have always been in the practice of keeping up a sketch book to make sure I jot or draw these ideas to pull from when the timing is right. (So many people tell me they can’t draw so they don’t keep a sketch book but remember, your sketch book is for you, as long as you can tell what it is, great 🙂
Tidy up
Before I can get down to starting new projects I always need to totally pull apart and organize my work space. Depending on how much space you have, this can take awhile but oh how satisfying to see all that fabric neatly folded up and organized into wonderful colourful piles. It’s also nice to know where that vintage polka dot yellow ribbon has been hiding out. My brain appreciates a clean slate and work surface so I can take stock on what I may need for the next project.
Do you have something on your mind that you’ve been dying to work on? Do you keep a sketch book or journal with different ideas? Not to stress if you don’t, there are so many places to look for inspiration. (I’d also highly recommend getting that sketch book/journal if you don’t have one already 🙂

Surf the web with no agenda, follow those links from your favorite blog, get lost on flickr… I usually like to give myself a time limet as it can be overwhelming sometimes. Keeping track and bookmarking my web inspiration is also made easy with There are also lots of leads to follow there as well.
Get out and go shopping but leave the money and any expectations of buying anything at home. Do bring a camera to capture anything that may inspire. It’s fun to see what is out there and I can find inspiration in a variety of stores from ceramic tile shops to high end furniture boutiques.
Maybe your over thinking it, you could try renting a movie from your childhood that holds special meaning. My brothers, sisiters and I watched “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” when we were kids close to a million times and every once in awhile I love to watch it and lose myself in the costumes, the songs, that crazy log dance! There are so many small details in movies or books or poetry that could start an avalanche of ideas.
Hit the library. We have a fantastic resource library in Toronto and I love flipping thru microfilms of old magazines. Not to mention all those art books with the wonderful full colour pictures. (renaissance lives!)
Get to it
Once your revved and ready to go, most importantly, don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Just because you spent 4 hours on making a sleeve for an outfit and it looks awful is not a cause to be hard on yourself. Everything is a learning process and that’s what makes it so fun. (it’s fun remember!)
Come spring I know I’ll be needing to devote more time to my business. I feel it’s important to remember to fill your creative cup and not forget about tending to it. I make sure to clear a special time every week for a few hours devoted to just that. Let my busy fingers do as they may. Learn to crochet? Potato printing some dish towels? Sure, why not. Usually I have 3 little helpers creating along with me and its challenging to adapt whatever project I’m working on for the munchkins but well worth it when I see there little faces concentrating on towering cotton balls.
Where do you seek inspiration?
How do you keep creating fun and fresh?

May the creative muses always continue to inspire!