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Natural Kids, Literally!!

KIDS!! Aren’t they just the cutest!! Recently I made a little trip to a mountainside home (yes, that’s snow on the goats!) to meet some charming furry kids. It’s not so surprising that our own young have acquired this name as well, you only have to spend a short amount of time with some furry kids to see the similarities of fun, playfulness and sometimes mischievous with our non-furry (human) kids.

The goats you see below are for milking and some of their milk also is made into yogurt and kefir. They live outside in a lovely large fenced area to keep them safe from predators in the area (cougars, coyotes, etc). They will soon have a rooftop area to climb up to and enjoy… call it a deluxe playground for furry kids… with a view.
Kids are very curious and anything dangly was in danger of getting nibbled. Okay, maybe my kids (non-furry!) don’t really nibble clothing, strings, etc…

I think mama might be saying, “I’ve got my eye on you…”!!
On second though maybe I was getting eyed up for some butting…
“Hey chickens come back here, you’re really interesting” . These chickens co-habitate with kids and I have to say they are pretty good sports about it.

I think we had a collective thought: “more snow…again…”

You can see the teeny-tiny horns growing on the (awfully cute!) little one and some larger ones on the one below.
Goats are fun to spend time around, unless they butt you! Now is a great time to go to a farm or a petting zoo with your kids (non-furry) if you have one nearby as there are usually kids (furry) and they are a blast to watch.

For some nifty ‘GOAT’ items from the NaturalKids Team members you can connect to the shops below (hopefully I didn’t miss any!):
This post is brought to you by Natalie, of Woolhalla
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Blossoms for Birds Tutorial

This week’s How-To is Blossoms for Birds Tutorial by Donni, from Fairyfolk from the Natural Kids Team. Where I live the birds are just coming back, the flowers beginning to pop their heads out of the ground, so I can sure use this great post now! Hope you enjoy this installment of the Spring & Easter Themed tutorials.

Blossoms for Birds:

Here in Southern California, Spring has definitely arrived! Our nights are cool, our mornings are crisp and our days are warm and sunny… it’s lovely weather, my favorite time of the year. The squirrels come out, the jasmine blooms and the birds start collecting treasures to build their nests with.

We have a spring tradition that we call ‘Blossoms for Birds’. Each year as Spring approaches and we start to notice the birds building their nests, we decorate a bare tree branch with lovely soft wool for them. We find a branch.

Saw it to the right length for little people to reach even the top branches.
And then we put the bare branch in a spot in the garden, just beyond our deck, where we can watch it from our dining room. It’s best to put the branch in a visible place, somewhere where you can watch it, undetected by the outside creatures.
Collect a basket of spring-colored wool scraps. I let K choose any color she wanted from my precious stash.
Decorate the bare tree with the wool, winding it around the branches and twigs.
Timone, our squirrel, came to see what we were doing.
She caused great distress by climbing down our Blossoms for Birds tree, nearly knocking it over and making K very angry… “This is for the BIRDS, Timone!” K scolded.
We were able to placate her with a few nuts while we finished decorating our wool tree.
It looks so pretty, covered in colorful tufts of wool, however, a pretty tree is not why we made our Blossoms for Birds Tree… it’s for the birds to build their nests with!
All Spring long, we’ll watch from our dining room table as the neighborhood birds are attracted to the colorful wool. They’ll twitter about in a frenzy of excitement at the lovely soft wool they’ve found. They’ll take a colorful bundle in their beak and fly off with it to build their nests. Just imagine what their nests will look like… pink, blue yellow… so pretty and soft for the sweet little baby birds.
I know that not many of you will have colorful wool roving scraps lying around, so I have listed for purchase a few packets of colorful wool bits in my shop. Enjoy!

Blessings and magic! Donni
This tutorial is brought to you by Natalie, of Woolhalla

Please visit Donni at her blog The Magic Onions where you can see the original post, plus other great tutorials and share the “magical journey of childhood with us”

Check out her Etsy shop Fairyfolk where you beautiful needle felted items, including some super sweet bunnies and chicks.

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Easter Nest and Egg Pattern Tutorial

This week’s How-To is Easter Nest and Egg Tutorial by Linda, from Mamma4earth here on the Natural Kids Team. This darling little knitted tutorial is just the thing if you like to knit… and I can just imagine all the amazing colour variations if using variegated yarn. Hope you enjoy this weeks Spring and Easter craft tutorial!

Easter Nest and Egg Pattern Tutorial:

Hello wonderful friends, thanks so much for visiting:) Today, I have been working on a pattern for Easter crafting. We will soon be setting up our Easter tree and I wanted to make something special, so I have Knitted a nest in handspun Alpaca yarn, spun by my daughter Jenna. Inside the nest are some rainbow eggs. I have knitted the nest with a textured appearance to give it the look of a true nest. I do hope you enjoy knitting these patterns:)

Yarn for the nest, I have used handspun Alpaca
Yarn for eggs, I have used rainbow cotton DK
4.5 mm circular needles
Wool needle for sewing up
Fleece for stuffing the eggs
Cast on 10 stitches
Join for knitting in the round (Magic Loop)
Round 1: Knit
Round 2: Increase into each stitch across the round (20 stitches)
Round 3: Knit
Round 4: (Increase into the first stitch, knit 2 stitches, increase into the next stitch, knit 2 stitches) repeat across the round, knit 1 stitch on the end. (26 stitches)
Round 5: Knit
Round 6: Increase into each stitch. (52 stitches)
Round 7: (Knit 1 stitch, purl 1 stitch) repeat across round.
Round 8: (Purl 1, knit 1) repeat across round.
Round 9: (Knit 1 stitch, purl 1 stitch) repeat across round.
Round 10: (Purl 1, knit 1) repeat across round.
Rounds 11- 14: Knit
Round 15: (Knit 1 stitch, purl 1 stitch) repeat across round.
Round 16: (Purl 1, knit 1) repeat across round.
Round 17: (Knit 1 stitch, purl 1 stitch) repeat across round.
Rounds 18-21: Knit
Rounds 22-23: Purl
Cast off.

Sew in the ends.

Egg Pattern:
Cast on 4 stitches and join for knitting in the round.
Round 1: Knit
Round 2: Increase into each stitch (8 stitches)
Round 3: Knit
Round 4: Increase into each stitch (16 stitches)
Rounds 5-13: Knit
Round 14: (Knit 3 stitches, knit 2 stitches together) repeat across the round, knit 1 stitch on the end.
Round 15: Knit
Round 16: (Knit 1 stitch, knit 2 stitches together) repeat across the round, knit 1 stitch on the end.
Round 17: Knit
Round 18: (Knit 1 stitch, knit 2 stitches together) repeat across the round.
Round 19: Knit
Finishing off:
Break your thread and thread your yarn onto a wool needle and thread your stitches from your circular neeldes onto your wool needle and pull tight to close the opening. I normally fill the egg from this end and make sure the the wide base is firm and then fill the rest of the egg. Close both ends by threading tight in a circle with your thread and pulling tightly closed.

Roll your egg in your hands to get the required egg shape, and there you have an Easter Egg:)

Wishing you all an inspired week.
xo Linda
This tutorial is brought to you by Natalie, of Woolhalla

Please visit Linda at her blog Natural Suburbia where you can see the original post, find a few other wonderful free knitting tutorials, plus other craft life tutorials and more. In her own words Linda is a “homeschooling mother of four little souls from South Africa. I am a knitter, pattern designer, gardener, homesteader and try to be as self sufficient as possible”.

Check out her Etsy shop Mamma4earth where you find more wonderful knitted treasures consisting of Waldorf inspired knitted and wooden farm animals, gnomes and toys.

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Tutorial: Upcycled Easter Baskets

This week’s How-To is Tutorial – Upcycled Easter Baskets by Liz, from The Sitting Tree here on the Natural Kids Team. This great basket tutorial makes a wonderful start of the Spring and Easter themed tutorials I plan to do in the upcoming weeks. It is a perfect size for a child to tote around their natural toys or as a basket for Easter goodies!

Tutorial – Upcycled Easter Baskets:

Looking for an all~natural, eco~friendly alternative to the standard toxic easter baskets you find on the shelves of the big box stores? Make your own this year out of recycled clothing!
1 linen skirt/top at least 18″ wide (or any thin fabric) for the lining
1 thick wool felted sweater/blanket at least 18″ wide for the body

1. Cut out a square 18″ x 18″. Then in each of the 4 corners, cut out a 6″ square. You’ll end up with an x shape. The middle square will be the bottom of the basket, and the outside pieces will fold up to make the sides!

2. Now bring your neighboring corners together. Pin and sew all four edges together.

Repeat these steps again with the thick wool fabric.
3. Cut out two pieces of linen 2.5″ x 5″ for the handles. Press each edge to
the middle and then press the whole thing in half again. Sew them closed.

4. With right sides together, match up the corners and pin lining to the body.

Pin the handles upside down, in between the two fabrics. Do the same thing on the opposite side. Sew along the edge of THREE SIDES ONLY {Make sure to include both handled edges in three sides ~ I didn’t of course!}

Next, take out all your pins and turn the basket right side out. Press your top seam flat and adjust the lining. Hand sew the opening closed and you’re done! {My wool was so thick that the top seam didn’t want to stay flat so I stitched along the top again to hold it down}
Not just for Spring, these upcycled baskets are great for home organizing and storage too! Fill them with toys, food, or {gasp} yarn!!

Need a few non~toxic, all~natural items to compliment your new basket?? I’ve added several new Spring items to my shop this week ~ Bunnies, eggs, and a seriously sweet pinafore!

This tutorial is brought to you by Natalie, of Woolhalla

Please visit Liz at her blog The Sitting Tree where you can see her original post and get to know her better and “for stories about my life as a wife to my best friend, proud mama of three homeschooled boys, obsessed knitter and lover of Mother Earth”

Visit her Etsy shop at The Sitting Tree “handmade, free spirited design”.

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Make a No-Knit Yarn Nest.

Hi, I’m Donni from The Magic Onions blog. My shop is Fairyfolk.

A few weeks ago, to K’s utter delight, we discovered a little nest in the eves inside our front porch. We have been watching Mr and Mrs House Finch building this nest from our front window. K has been consumed… it reminds me, a little uncomfortably, of myself when the first Big Brother came out.
Whenever I ask if she’d like to make something, the answer is always… ‘a nest! Oh please, Mommy, can we make a nest?’
So today, we made a nest.
As I’m no knitter… (I can’t knit… shock horror!) I have been thinking of ways to make a nest using yarn that doesn’t require knitting. This is what we came up with…
What you’ll need is:
* Glue or Hodge Podge
* Water
* A baloon
* Scissors
* Yarn

We blew up the balloons to the right size for a nest.
We cut long strips of the yarn.
I lined a glass dish with a plastic packet for easy clean-up later and filled it with glue. I added enough water to the glue to make it about the consistency of milk.
We dipped the yarn into the glue mixture and wrapped it around the balloon, making sure to keep the yarn in a nest shape.
When our nests were wrapped around the balloons, we set them in the sun to dry.

When they were dry, we popped the balloons with a pin and our perfect little nest were left.

They have been treasured playthings all day and K is so delighted to be able to play ‘Birdie-in-a-nest’!
Visit The Magic Onions to see our post on our real nest of chicks and how we watched them grow from eggs to fledgelings.
Blessings and magic.
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Make a Strawberry Fruit Tart

Today’s recipe is by Cyn of FairiesNest (be sure to check out her lovely shop here). The timing for this recipe is perfect with so much local fruit just coming into season (can’t wait for our local organic strawberries in June). It would make a delightful Mother’s Day surprise too.

Recipe for a Strawberry Fruit Tart

The strawberries in our part of the world are coming in fast and furious. To make this fruit tart, you start with a pre baked tart shell, preferably a sweet shortcrust. My favorite one is from the book Festive Tarts by Sylvia Thompson. (This is a fantastic tart book that I highly recommend and although it’s out of print you can find cheap used copies).

1 2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
10 tablespoons butter
pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons cream

Combine the dry, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles cornmeal, add the wet and mix lightly until a ball of dough forms. refrigerate for 15-30 mins. Roll out and place in tart form. Stick in the freezer for 30 mins and then bake in a 400 degree F oven with pie weights (or dried beans) on a piece of parchment inside. After 15 mins remove the weights and bake for 12 more mins. Cool and fill!

photo via Flickr

Cut up enough fruit to fill your tart; peaches, berries, plums, all of one kind or a mix …whatever you think is yummy. Mix together 1 cup sugar with 3 cups of orange juise and 4 tablespoon cornstarch in a saucepan. Heat this stirring constantly until it thickens. Put about 1/3 of the mixture in the bottom of the tart. Now place in the fruit in a pretty pattern or all mixed up, it doesn’t matter. Then carefully cover all the fruit with the rest of the OJ sauce. Refrigerate for at least an hour, but not more than 4 or 5 because you don’t want it to get soggy…though it will still taste good! One little trick; if you’re using fruit that might brown, like peaches, toss them with the OJ first and then drain them and proceed. It also gives the OJ a great peachy taste… This works well for freezing peaches too!

Here‘s a sweet spring flower pixie from Cyn’s shop!

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Easter/Spring NaturalKids Team Blog-A-Thon

The NaturalKids Team was started by woodmouse in 2007. Early members included faerierebecca, fairiesnest, cozycottage. It was a small group, with a small presence on etsy. Since that time members have come and gone but our mission has stayed the same. To be a group of sellers dedicated to creating natural products for children. We are a diverse group of artisans who make natural toys, utensils, clothing and accessories for kids. Our sellers work with materials from the Earth, such as wool, cotton, silk and wood. Our goal is to support, promote and have fun together while building our businesses. 

One of our 1st Team Blog Post read as below and it is still true today….
We are a diverse bunch from all over the globe who have at least one thing in common:  we all work with natural materials in our products for children.  Oh yeah, and we’re all pretty darn crafty & talented too!  Wool, wood, cotton…just simple materials direct from the Earth.  

So who are we?  
Some of us are mothers of small children.
Some of us are mothers of grown children.
Some of us make dolls, some of us make hats, some of us make toys.
Some of us have been selling our wares for many years.
Some of us are just starting to discover our talents and start selling.
Some of us work with natural materials for environmental reasons.
Some of us work with natural materials as part of the Waldorf educational philosophy.
Some of us work with natural materials because we believe they are healthier and safer.
Some of us just like working with natural materials.
Some of us sell our wares for a living.
Some of us sell our wares as a hobby.

Since that time, some of us are fathers.

To see more items from The NaturalKids Team go here!

Thank you for reading and now join in the fun to take a trip to see what you may find at these NaturalKids Team Members Blogs! Happy Spring!!!
Visit these Blogs:


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Make Wet-Felted Rainbow Eggs

Wet Felted Rainbow Cracked Egg tutorial by Jen from SewnNatural

Spring brings new babies throughout nature, and the magical, enchanting process of watching wee ones hatch from eggs. There’s a turtle sanctuary on an island near where we live, and my daughter loves discovering the beautiful white eggshells left behind. Here’s how to make a wet felted, rainbow wool egg for gentle play, your nature table and even spring celebrations like Easter and Passover.

You’ll need:
• an egg to wet felt around (we use old marble eggs we have around, you can also use a plastic egg shape, or even a real egg, but I’ve never tried it with a real egg)

• wool roving and various bits of colored feltable wool (Corriedale is one of our favorites, but Merino and others work too)

• organic, non toxic soap

• 2 big bowls of water, or 1 bowl + kitchen sink

• towels to mop up the inevitable spills and to dry the egg afterwards

• a little elbow grease

My daughter says the most enjoyable part of the process is actually choosing the colors for her egg.

Next take your egg shape (we use a small-sized one for the kid projects) and wrap wool roving around it, placing narrow pieces of wool in different directions, wrapping it neither super tighthly, nor super loosely.

It’s far from an exact science, and the felting process will make the apparent “messiness” of the wrapping disappear.

The thicker the wool coat on the egg, the thicker and sturdier your final rainbow egg will be. You should not be able see the egg clearly through the wool (that would mean it’s best to add more wool).

Now hold the wrapped egg in one hand, and have your child (or your other hand) pour some liquid soap right onto it, turning the egg as the soap is applied. I’ve found this to be an easier method to felt the eggs.

I have yet to use too much soap in felting!

Now quickly immerse the egg in hot, hot water. Gently squeeze the soap egg, turning it in your hands (or your child’s hands). Keep the wooly coat on the egg warm by dipping it into the hot water every so often (the warm/hot water relaxes the fibres of the wool which allows for easier felting).

Keep gently squeezing and patting the wool, and as you work and the wool begins to felt you can work it more vigorously. This process take a little bit of time, but the results are well worth it!

Once you begin to feel the fibres felting around the egg, and solidifying somewhat, it’s time to add the “rainbow”. Your child can gently rip off small pieces of colored wool, and place them onto the egg in varying directions.

The wispier and more spread out the wool bits, the better (the more easily they will felt to the woolen egg).

Then pour some soap onto the egg, immerse gently in hot water, and gently squeeze the soapy egg to help felt the rainbow wisps together to the wool roving.

Keep squeezing and rubbing it vigorously in your hands.

You can also use something with texture to help felt the fibers of the wool. I use an old wire rack for this, and roll the egg around on the rack for a few minutes. Then I take it back into my hands, warming up the wool in hot water, and squeeze it some more.

Once you’re done, you can dip it into cold water to help strengthen the felting. The shock of the cold water tightens the fibres.

I wrap the egg in a dishcloth to remove some excess water, and place it near a vent to dry.

Once it’s dry (anywhere from a few hours to a day or so), you or your child can carefully cut the egg open, either in a straight line across the long part of the egg, or a cracked jagged line.

The cut need not extend the length of the egg, just enough to “birth” the egg from it’s woolen coat, so to speak.

You may also choose to blanket stitch the edge of the cracked part of the egg with embroidery thread, but my daughter prefers her “au naturel.”

You can find more how-to’s and eco living articles on our blog, the SewnNaturalstudio.