Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Here comes the Sun little Darlin' - Be Safe in it!

Photo by Jes Anthonis from Mosey Handmade on Etsy

Flashback Mother's Day 2011: My 10 year-old daughter got a sunburn. I felt like the worst mother ever. How could I let this happen? Well, it was the first sunny day of the year, and my daughter went to a friend's house to play. I had given her instructions that if they were going to play outside she needed to ask her friend's mom for some sunscreen. Of course, she didn't!
Lesson learned: Don't expect other people to be aware of your child's needs! Maybe the other mother thought it was okay because her kids have a darker complexion and don't get sunburned easily. You and your child alone are responsible and will suffer the consequences...

So we applied lots of aloe - freshly squeezed from the leaves of our houseplant and were glad there was no blistering, and the redness went away after 3 days. We skipped Field Day at school the next day. Everybody knows that one shouldn't go out and catch more sun when burned already, right?

So in order to do some penance here and to help out other parents I investigated the subject some more. I found a great site called: Healthy Child that you should visit. You will find many articles about sunscreens and protecting your kids from the sun. But here is the sum of the knowledge I gathered for those of you with little time:

SUN SAFETY TIPS:

1. Avoidance:
Stay out of the sun as much as possible, particularly between the hours of 10AM to 4 PM when the sun is strongest. If you must go outside, find shade as much as possible!

Check the UV index  when planning outdoor activities.

Keep infants and very young children, in particular, out of sun completely!

2. Cover up.
The less skin gets exposed to damaging UV rays the less likely skin will get sunburned and damaged. Protect skin and eyes!

Clothing: wear brimmed hats and shirts made of fabrics that are dark colored and have a dense weave! Were sunglasses to protect eyes.

There are some companies that sell protective shirts and swimwear. I have not tried them myself, but what I read on their sites made a lot of sense to me. There is a reason why I see many farm workers in Colorado wear hoodies in the midday heat while working out in the fields. I am pretty sure they are not doing it as a fashion statement...

3. The Skinny on Sunscreens.
Help! It's so confusing. What do I buy?

Fact is that 85% of sunscreens sold in the US do not protect you at all. Why?

- people don't put on enough sunscreen to begin with. People put only 1/4 - 2/3 of what they should . Of course, that stuff is expensive and who can afford to keep buying it?

- manufacturers give us a false sense of protection with claims of 30, 50, 70, 90, or even 100 SPF factors. People using the higher numbered ones tend to reapply less often and stay in the sun much longer.

4. What's in a Sunscreen? Horrible chemicals that you definitely don't want to eat, breathe in, or leave on your skin for too long...

•The Environmental Working Group’s comprehensive scientific review indicates that 85% of 993 sunscreen products offer inadequate protection from the sun or contain ingredients with significant safety concerns.

->A new study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that nearly all Americans are contaminated with oxybenzone, a
 sunscreen chemical that has been linked to allergies, hormone disruption, cell damage, and low birth weight.

Use the sunscreens with SPF 30 rather than the higher ones because they have less chemicals. It's better to apply a lower numbered sunscreen more often than to use the high numbered ones only once.

Don't use the kind that you can spray on!!!It has small particles and people inhale those scary nanoparticles when spraying the stuff on. They still don't know what the long term health effects are. Fact is: chemicals build up in our systems.

Wash the sunscreen off after done playing in the sun!



5. What brands/ sunscreens? I found the following list on the website I mentioned above:

Top Ten Sunscreens recommended by the Environmental Working Group

1. Keys Soap Solar Rx Therapeutic Sunblock, SPF 30
2. Trukid Sunny Days Facestick Mineral Sunscreen UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum, SPF 30+
3. California Baby Sunblock Stick No Fragrance, SPF 30+
4. Badger Sunscreen, SPF 30
5. Marie Veronique Skin Therapy Sun Serum
6. Lavera Sunscreen Neutral, SPF 40
7. Vanicream Sunscreen, SPF 35
8. UV Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
9. Sun Science Sport Formula, SPF 30
10. Soleo Organics Sunscreen all natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+

I hope you find this article useful and tell a friend about it. I spent 13 hours at baseball this past weekend. Unfortunately we cannot live our lives indoors... We can only try and protect the people we love. It's hard to stand by and watch all these kids running around without protection or infants being sprayed with sunscreen. How do you tell people without offending them?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Celebrate my Flickr: Giveaway

This is the first picture I ever posted on my flickr account. Since then ( April 12, 2008) I have added hundreds more. I have been busy, can you tell?

I usually don't make dolls with noses on them. Can you find the couple of dolls that actually have a nose on them? Maybe there were two or even three photos among all photos on my Flickr account. Find the nose doll(s) pictures and email me the link(s). I will draw a name from all correct entries sent to me.

Please, do leave a comment about the noses not where the doll is located! Do you prefer noses or are you a fan of the noseless kind of doll. You may hint at what the doll is wearing or something like that. Just don't give away the answer in your comment! It's more fun that way! =)

Drawing will be held July 4th! You will win something as sweet and cute as this first outfit I posted! Promise!
ulrike.seckler@msn.com

Friday, June 17, 2011

Summer is for Salads!


Now that the heat is here, I find the best thing to make for dinner is salad. I love salads because you can make a big bowl and eat it over a couple of days. If company appears at the doorstep - just throw in more vegetables to stretch the salad.

Here is the recipe for one of our family's favorite Salads: Mediterranean Rice Salad
I adapted this recipe from a Sunset recipe.

Ingredients:
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup of long-grain rice
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice or more
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp of fresh oregano or more if you like
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 cups of fresh chopped spinach leaves
1 bell pepper, yellow orange or red diced
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, chopped finely
1/2 cup of chopped Kalamata olives
1 cup of crumbled feta cheese

1. Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add 1/2 tsp of salt to it. Add rice. Turn heat down to low. Put lid on and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove pot from burner and let the rice sit. I wrap the pot in a thick towel.

2. Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, herbs, pepper, and remaining salt. The original recipe called for 1.5 tsp of salt. Since we are trying to cut down on salt I use only 1/2 tsp or less. The feta cheese and olives usually have enough extra salt...

3. Fluff the rice with a fork. Add the rice to the dressing and mix it together gently. Add spinach, to the still warm rice and toss them together. The warm rice will wilt the spinach slightly. After the rice-spinach mix has completely cooled down add the remaining ingredients and toss again. 

If you like hot food you can throw in some hot red pepper flakes. Since our youngest doesn't like hot food, the rest of the family adds some pepper flakes individually to their salad servings.

This salad is great for parties and potlucks! You can serve it immediately after finishing it, when it's still a bit warm, or serve it cold from the refrigerator.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Stars and Stripes for your Doll

Are you ready to attend the 4th or July parade in your town? I couldn't make it last year because Germany was playing in the World Soccer Cup that day. But I surely won't miss it this year.
Parades are so much fun. I love the colors and the commotion. People, horses, dogs in motion. And the American flag is just so pretty. I always have to buy a few yards of "flag" themed fabric. This year I found a cool one with Peace signs.


You can order my patriotic clothing designs through my Etsy shop and receive Free Shipping through the rest of this month. Just mention my FB post (code: Stars & Stripes) and I'll send you a new invoice upon ordering.

Offer is good for Patriotic Designs only, through he month of June, 2011.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Where is Waldorf? Or The Essence of Doll


When I look at the assortment of dolls that are labeled "Waldorf" on various sites these days I am always amazed. It looks like people are more and more getting away from the original idea of Waldorf. What is that idea?

The two main ideas behind waldorf style toys, I would say, are: Simplicity and Nature.

I have been making dolls in the Waldorf tradition for over 10 years now. It is an old tradition of making cloth dolls developed in Germany, where Waldorf Schools were started in 1919. According to the Waldorf philosophy, dolls should be made from what nature has given us: natural fibers such as sheep's wool, mohair, and cotton.

The dolls have a unique inner head construction which gives form but not detail to the face. The dolls have very simple features, sometimes no features at all. Strict followers of the Waldorf education principles believe that giving too much detail in a toy stifles a person's imagination. When a doll's face is left blank the owner has to fill in the doll's expression. The child fills in whether the doll is happy or sad. If there was a permanent smile painted on the dolls face, it would be hard for the child to imagine a sad doll...


When I encountered my first Waldorf doll in Germany I was instantly smitten. How was it possible that a doll this simple was so beautiful? How could it be that something so basic held such great attraction to a child and the child in me?
This first Waldorf style doll I encountered, made by a mom for her own child, had a simple line for a mouth and two dots for eyes. Her clothes were equally simple. She had a simple dress withouth any thrills.
And the best part of it: She was warm and huggable. Not plasticky and cold.

When I look around at the wide array of dolls sold as Waldorf style these days it makes me kind of cringe...
Often I see dolls that are not made of natural fibers. Sometimes people stuff with fiberfill or use synthetics for the clothing and accessories. I see noses big and small, I see eye browes, dimples, freckles, belly buttons, fingers, toes, and elaborate hairstyles.

I guess some people just prefer details. Does a doll without a nose somehow strike people as crippled or incomplete? Does it offend when a doll has stumps for hands or is missing a belly button?

Hmmm. Wasn't that the original idea? Are you able to fill in the blank and make your imagination soar? If your answer is yes, you may prefer my kind of doll.

I suppose I could add all those details. I have made dolls with noses but it feels weird. I think my reason I am here is to preserve the original idea of Waldorf. I want to stay true to my German roots and a more traditional approach to dollmaking. I don't want the simple dolls to become extinct.

To me less is often more. So I'll keep creating what I perceive as the "essence of doll".

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

LPatriotic jumper 2


LPatriotic jumper 2, originally uploaded by germandolls.

Just finished this cute dress for a large 15-16 Waldorf style Bamboletta. It's such a pretty pattern. Just perfect for 4th of July celebration! Take your doll to the parade!

Natural Kids: The Importance of Natural Play

Natural Kids: 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 s..."