Thursday, April 29, 2010

Recycled Packaging


A few days ago I received my package from http://www.katsinthebelfry.etsy.com/. Kat is one of my NaturalKids team mates. Sadly, she lost her mother recently, so the whole team chipped in and bought items at her lovely shop to help her family pay for the trip to her mom's funeral. I am so proud to be on this awesome and very supportive team!
I LOVED the upcycled packaging/envelope my purchase, a cool pouch, came in. Who knew that an old papersack could have so much charme? I really like the images of old cars, explorers, and inventors. Now I just need to find a Trader Joe's store or some other store that has cool papersacks...
Maybe the papersack I received my fabric in from the Fancy Tiger will work. I am looking forward to making my own recycled envelope soon..

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Japanese Fabric...

Oh dear, I did it again. I bought more fabric. Only 5 yards I swear! I found it at my favorite store in all of Denver, the "Fancy Tiger". Great place. I can never get out without buying something...

Remember my post from the beginning of the year? I was going on a fabric diet. I have entirely too much fabric in my house. My husband is complaining about all the bins with fabric that clutter every corner in the house..

But what can you do, when you get tempted at every corner?

Here are the pictures of the cute pocketdress I made from one of the fabrics.
My kids love slug bugs. You know that game where you slap people when you see a " slug bug" on the road. I love those cars! Some day I'd like to have one. Two of my uncles had a Volkswagen Kaefer (German word for bug) when I was growing up. I sure loved getting a ride in them.

Bees at Work

I saw this great photo on flickr with a bee sitting on a purple flower getting nectar. How in the world did the photographer capture the moment? I am not that great...


Here is my pathetic attempt to capture the moment. I took some pictures of the entrance to the top bar hive. Maybe it's time to get a new camera. I had a very hard time getting a good shot of the small details...


>

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ready for Shipping...




I just finished this cute baby doll for a little girl. I think she turned out so sweet in her spring birds Pocketdress and matching needlefelted birdshoes. What do you think? You can find some more pictures of her on my flickr photostream...



Sunday, April 25, 2010

New Bees for Our Hive

I am so excited! Today we received a new swarm of bees to replace the bees that died over the winter. My husband prepared some sugar water this morning as a welcome cocktail for the new bees. The bees will live on the sugar water until they get used to their new home and figure out where to find food. They arrived traveling in the back seet of a pick-up truck. Our friends John and Jane ordered them from a supplier in California. Today John and Jane installed five different swarms all over town - spreading the bee love. We where happy to receive our share of 10,000 new pets.

This time around the queen bee was marked with a blue dot of paint, so we can keep taps on mom at all times. Can you see it in the picture? The queen comes in a small cage. The cage has a hatch that is closed with a piece of cork. Once the bee folks arrive at their new home, the cork is replaced with a piece of marshmallow. The little cage hangs suspended from one of the top bars/slats of the top bar hive. The bee queen remains there until the worker bees chew through the marshmallow plug. After a day or two the bees usually get the job done. Once the queen bee is freed from her little cage, the worker bees will be ready to serve and attend to her majesty. Pretty cool!


I am looking forward to watching our new friends comings and goings. Only a few more weeks till they start collecting pollen - looking like clowns in their big orange yellow pants. =)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wrapping your Wares...

Do you sell your crafts online? How do you wrap your wares? I try to keep it fairly simple and "green" if possible. See also Kat's great post about recycled envelopes on the NaturalKids Blog
http://www.natural-kids.blogspot.com/2010/04/earth-day-how-to-make-upcycled-shipping.html

I like to use as little plastic as possible. Ideally I would like to find a way to ship without using plastic at all. At the same time, I want my wares to be protected and look pretty when they arrive at their destination.

If you are mainly an on-line shopper, I would love to hear your opinion. I think my worst experience as a shopper was a package I once received from an etsy seller, who wrapped my item in several layers of cardboard and taped it like a mummy. I loved the item I ordered, but boy, was it a challenge to get it out of it's package. You really don't want to make your customer dripping with sweat - worried sick they will destroy the item in the process of unwrapping it...


So I have come to the conclusion that there are some strategies one should avoid at all cost:


  • Recycling is wonderful, but don't sent your beautiful handmade item in a crummy old cerial box.

  • It's good to protect your goods, but don't turn them into mummies!

  • Don't forget to add a personal note to your order expressing that you care about this sale. I always add a handwritten "Thank You" note card. I, as a customer, really appreciate that personal touch. I feel more obliged to go back to a store when they show me they do care about my purchase.

  • If you sell fabric, please do wrap my yardage in plastic or some protective layer. I know you like to get as much yardage into that free cardboard envelope by the postoffice, but they often get destroyed en route and my fabric may arrive stained =(.

Though they are expensive, I do so love my Moo cards. I started using them about two years ago. They may be small, but they sure add a special touch to my products. I wrap my miniature dolls and doll clothes in a sheet of tissue paper, use a piece of wool yarn, and tie a personal " Thank You" note plus moo card to he package. I often get compliments from people. So I guess I am doing all right. But I'd love to hear from others how they wrap things up. Maybe you would like to share your idea of the perfectly wrapped package?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!!!


It's the last Day of my Earth Day promotional sale today! So if you were thinking of buying something from my germandolls etsy shop, shop today to get your 10% discount. But there are so many lovely shops from my Etsy NaturalKids team who are having sales also. You can find the list here:blogger.

In order to do something good for the earth, I ordered these gorgeous snack bags from

http://www.wastenotsaks.etsy.com
I think using them will safe our family a lot of money, as well as keep a lot of plastic trash out of the landfill...



Happy Earth Day!

Useful Books about Blogging


Since people asked me, I thought I give you a list of the books on blogging I checked out from the library:

My Favorites are:

Blogging for Dummies by Susannah Gardner
Blogging for Bliss by Tara Frey
Clear Blogging by Bob Walsh
Blogging for Business by Shel Holtz and Ted Demopoulos

If you know of others, please do list them in your comments!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Banner?


I have been reading a lot about blogging lately. I am not very good when it comes to the technical stuff...But I am so happy that I finally I figured out how to make a personlized banner for my blog. The first time around I cropped a picture of some spools of thread I took. What do you think?

Next I cropped a picture of my Pocketdolls tucked into a hat. It's not quite perfect yet, but I am happy to have pictures of my dollies, instead of the canned banner that came with this template. Now for the backgrounds. How does one change them? It will take me a while to figure that one out. LOL Any suggestions? I could use some help from experts...

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Doll Clothes on Miss Corolle and Madame Alexander Dolls

Recently I have received more orders by people who don't own Waldorf style dolls. To my own surprise the doll clothes I make looked great on various types of cloth and vinyl dolls. Just because a doll is made of plastic doesn't mean she won't enjoy a German Dolls Pocketdress... The Miss Corolle Dolls look so sweet wearing my pocketdresses....=)Last fall I made some doll clothes for a Madame Alexander Baby Doll. My 12 inch pocketdress and diaperset fit the doll perfectly!







Friday, April 16, 2010

Save the Planet: Bring a Bag for your Groceries!

I would like to find more Earth friendly ways of wrapping and shipping my product. The other day I found this really cool tutorial on how to make your own envelopes by NaturalKids Team friend Katsinthebelfry. http://natural-kids.blogspot.com/2010/04/earth-day-how-to-make-upcycled-shipping.html
Once I run out of my envelopes, I will definitely give it a shot. The only problem is I never get paper sacks at the store. I bring cloth bags. Duh! http://www.etsy.com/shop/katsinthebelfry

I am often stunned at, how many people in this nation still go shopping every day and DON'T bring a bag. I see people with shopping carts loaded to the brim, yet they did not bring a SINGLE bag. Did they not know they were going grocery shopping that day? I mean, I understand forgetting a bag once in while. I am not perfect myself. If I ever forget, I can politely ask for a papersack and use it for the envelopes mentioned above!

Did you know that in Germany they actually charge you money for the bags at the check-out lane. I am not sure, how much it costs these days. But before I moved away the price was up to 15 cents per bag. I wonder how many people in Greeley, Colorado would do a better job of remembering to bring their bags, if it cost them a few dollars more to haul home their pile of groceries in planet polluting plastic bags?

People here seem to have it all backwards. Most people don't even know that the grocery stores here give you 5 cents per bag for every bag you bring with you. When I first heard it, I was in shock: "Wait a minute. You are telling me that I get paid here for bringing my bags - as opposed to paying for being a "Umweltschwein"? Yes, there is actually a word in the German language to describe people, who are selfish and don't think of the ramifications of their actions. If you don't bring your grocery bags you are a environmental pig or hog! I know that in some areas in the US plastic bags became such a huge problem that they were outlawed (e.g. San Francisco).

I will keep chugging along, bringing my own grocery bags, and trying to set a good example. Maybe on Earth Day I could start a campaign and hand out some flyers about plastic bags and how much pollution they cause. I am scared though. Most people in this town are very conservative and set in their ways. They already think I am a freak because I have a German accent...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

blue baby with eyebrows 2


blue baby with eyebrows 2, originally uploaded by germandolls.

New Design by customer request. Baby with eyebrows. Isn't she cute?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How to make a Woodmouse



I am dedicating this craft to our friend Amber woodmouse, who was one of the original founders of the Etsy NaturalKids Team. Hopefully she will see this post and be proud of our efforts to keep the Naturalkids Team going strong!


I realize that not everybody may own some of the tools used , (vice) but maybe you could pay a visit to grandpa's or an uncle's house and have them do this project with your child. =)

Materials:
scraps of wood, fir or pine wood left over from dad’s projects…
nails with wide heads
pieces of leather
a few drops of wood glue

Tools:
a small handsaw
vice
kidsize hammer
drill or awl
scissors
sandpaper
wood rasp




My son has loved working with wood since he’s been a little fellow, 3 and 4 years old. My husband and I have always encouraged him to work on his little wood projects in the basement. But please, keep in mind that this craft needs quite a bit of adult supervision! You should stay right by your child’s side and help them every step of the way, especially if they are younger! You know your child best! The amount of supervision depends on your child’s skill level and personality. I recommend it for kids 6 and up who like to swing a hammer and have an interest in wood work.

1.Take your piece of scrap wood and put in the vice. You will need rectangular pieces of wood cut into about 3-4 inches long sections. We used some old pieces of pine wood from a yard project. They were slats measuring 1.5x1x10 inches. This great for teaching your child about measuring. You can have them mark off the length off several pieces. Have them draw straight lines across the wood piece and cut along the lines.

2. Since mice have a pointy nose, the front of the mouse body needs to be shaped with two angular cuts. Again, have your child mark off the cuts with a pencil. Just tell them they need to cut off two triangular pieces at the tip and have them cut along these lines. ( Great for learning about geometry. =)

3. With the wood piece mounted in the vice, have your child use a wood rasp to smooth out all the edges. The head section needs to be flattened and shaped into a nice pointy nose. The back end can just be slightly rounded off. Don’t forget the sides!

4. Mark off the position of the eyes, ears, and tail with pencil. Then have your child hammer two nails all the way into the wood piece where you marked the eyes. They should be a closer together than the ears!

5. The next step is probably best done by an adult. Drill three holes in the spot where you marked the ears, and the tail.

6. Cut out ears and long thing piece of leather for the tail. Use a few drops of wood glue and glue the leather pieces onto the mouse body.

7. Finally use small pieces of sandpaper and sand off the rough or marked places. You can make your mouse as smooth and soft as you like. If you want to protect the the body from stains and water you could rub on some mineral oil or beeswax finish with a piece of cloth. We decided we liked the more roughhewn look of our new pets. =)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

What are you reading? A Thousand Splendid Suns!

It's been a while since a book took hold of me completely. In a different life, before I had children, I used to be an avid reader. These days I am lucky if I can manage to get through ten pages before I fall asleep at 9pm on a weekday night. The other day, I came across the book A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini. I admit, I have never read The Kite Runner - Hosseinis other famous book turned into a movie. A little while ago, it seemed, everybody was talking about it: parents at school, people at church, friends and relatives, every reading group in town was discussing it. Except for me. I don't really know why I avoided it.

My husband is an English teacher, so he often leaves "a book or two" around the house. This week I stumbled upon A Thousand Splendid Suns laying on the sofa and started reading it. I could not put it down all afternoon - only stopping for brief periods, when the kids came home from school, or when it was time to cook dinner and set the dinner table. I read until late into the night. I just had to finish it.

A Thousand Splendid Suns tells the story of two Afghan women, during the tomoultous times of Russian occupation and the taliban regime, from the 1960s through 2003.

I guess part of the reason this book totally drew me in, is the fact that I grew up in a very disfunctional household myself, and I could relate to the story on a very personal level...Maybe someday I'll be able to write about it. The harsh images of of physical and emotional abuse described in the novel are certainly not for the faint of heart.


Besides being a great book to learn about recent Afghan history, I recommend this book as a great story of survival. Time magazine's Lev Grossman praised it as a "dense, rich, pressure-packed guide to enduring the unendurable." I couldn't have said it any better. Some passages are hard to get through. The kind of hurt that human beings are capable of doing to one another seems unbelievable. In the end the lesson learned to me is, that it does not matter where you live on this planet, you can find abusive husbands and wicked people in any nation under the sun.
Yet in the harshest of circumstances we must keep our chin up and fight for our happiness. Having a good friend by your side is crucial for survival.
Once we get past all the horrors described, we find that the book is a really a celebration of life. Life - in it's most basic form! Don't you ever forget to cherish the simple things: the splendid sunrise over the city, a cup of tea shared with a friend, or the mere fact that you are able to take a breath! Then get up and walk away from the abuse!