Friday, February 17, 2012

Carnival Beads

We've loving embraced a Waldorf inspired daily, weekly, yearly rhythm in our home. In choosing this lifestyle we've added elements to our day for our creative nurturing. Today is Friday so today we have handwork. Since I am learning more skills in this particular area, we are limited in what I can teach and experience with the littles. Felting, however, is one of my favorite activities and I couldn't wait to share it with my littlest children. My older two, who have experienced felting thanks to their days at our local Waldorf school, equally enjoy this modality of creativity. I know they are eager to get in on the 'rolling' when they return from school today!

Since I am only me I was not able to take pictures of our entire felting process; from roving to felted ball! Therefore I am providing a link to a great site that has step by step instructions for those of you new to this process. Knitty; little purls of wisdom

In our yearly rhythm celebrations we try to include many festivals and holy days (holidays) from many cultures. Carnival or Karneval (as it is known in Germany) is the week leading up to Ash Wednesday. The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday ( which marks the beginning of the Lenten season) are known as Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday in many cultures. Aside from eating pancakes! many celebrations include a celebratory parade, costumes, and masks. Our beaded necklaces will adorn our Seasonal Table and I'm sure will be dangling from the necks of my littles........they needn't any excuses to dress up!

The following excerpt is from an article written by my son's Waldorf Kindergarten teacher on the idea of wool felting as handwork. You can read the rest of the article here

"Wool felting is a dynamic activity for the young child. It combines a connection with the element of water and repetitive motion working in the limbs - the interaction of friction between the two makes the fibers lock on a molecular level. We can realize and give thanks for the gifts of mother earth and our animal brothers and sisters as we experience shearing in the spring or plant gathering for dye in the fall. Fleece can be washed out of doors and dried in the sun by many busy hands. Carding is a rhythmic and peaceful ongoing activity that is very satisfying to the sense of touch in the young child. In the felting itself, there is the magic submersion of limbs into warm water and soapy bubbles that fills the need for true sensory experience.

The finished project often reveals much about the child who worked it - a simple felt ball can remain soft
and fleece-like, or be packed as tight as a golf ball. The will working within each child leaves a mark on
the end product, but this is not to say that we enter in to the activity for the end product! It is the process
of becoming that is paramount in the young child's experience and development. All activity must be
taken up with great joy and purpose."

I've been able to find wool roving locally by visiting our local Waldorf school's supply store. Here are a few beautiful online resources to help with your search for roving if this is an activity that interests you!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spring Lambs

Our celebration of Candlemas continues this week as we think about all the newness that is preparing to surround us. The snowdrops, the crocus, the baby lambs!!!

We live on a farm with a myriad of creatures, one being sheep. Oh how we love the sheep. Their 'maaaing', their gentle faces, their curious nature and mischievous ways! Springtime is lambing time and the children are always eager to learn the news of  the birth of a new lamb.

A simple and sweet craft one can make in honor of the new life that is upon us, the Light and new beginnings that Candlemas ushers in, is a felted lamb toy. It is a super simple and quick crafting that takes only a piece of wool felt, wool or cotton stuffing, some thread and a needle, and a template the shape of a lamb.

Make yourself an outline of a lamb out of card stock or cardboard. Trace your outline onto your wool felt, twice. Match up the pieces together and begin to sew a simple stitch around the border. Leave a small opening before you finish to fill your lamb with your cotton or wool stuffing. Sew up the lamb and voila! You have a simple, handmade, felt toy that your child will love to add to their seasonal collection of toys. Our lamb, the one that is pictured was made for our neighbor (who is the devoted Shepherd to the sheep) who needed a sign asking folks who might stop by to return again later. So, we added some simple threading and a handmade sign that asked their visitors to "Please come Again".

I wish for you a peaceful day as you contemplate all the new things that are awaiting your discovery. It would be wonderful to hear of all the exciting new things that have popped up for all of you, so please leave a comment and let us know what's peeking around the corner!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Welcome to the Year of the Dragon

The Chinese New Year is considered the most important and is the longest celebration within the Chinese calendar. The New Year celebrations last 15 days; days which are full to the brim of special meals, parades, honoring spirits, visiting family and friends, and lastly a lantern festival. Everyday of the New Year is honored and each meal has meaning, what is eaten and not eaten is all for a reason, whether to bring bounty, health, love, wealth, protection. These are sacred days for those that celebrate the Chinese New Year; bright colors (specifically red), lights, lanterns, fireworks, dances and flowers. Nothing is spared and every detail is well thought out and planned.

The Year of the Dragon (which is the only mythical animal portrayed in the Chinese Calendar) is particularly special for us at It's a Simple Life as our eldest child was born in this year. Those born with the Dragon sign are said to embody the ability to soar to the highest mountains and dive to the deepest depths of the sea. Within them lies the balance to exist on land and in water. What a beautiful trait to have the gift to shape shift from one element to the other.......have you ever seen this at work within 'Dragons' you may know? When my son was young, around 1 1/2-2 years old he had no fear of water and literally could go from land to water without fear or question. It was an amazing sight to be next to him, paddling and floating along as if he had done it for eons. I guess, maybe he had!

Other traits consistent with The Dragon, and which I can attest to with my own Dragon are: uninhibited, a night owl, following rules that are deemed acceptable my them while breaking ones that are seen otherwise, a wonderful ally, charismatic but impulsive, generous but egotistical, and fiercely independent.

Today, in honor of this New Year celebration we have made fortune cookies. A traditional Chinese gift and treat that offers a notion of good fortune and tidings for the receiver. These cookies are hot to handle so please be careful if working with small children. The mixing and making of the fortunes is a good place to have those wee ones help out, and then the eating of course!

Chinese New Year Fortune Cookies
makes about 12-16 cookies
*Preheat your oven to 400 degrees


2 egg whites
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
pinch of salt
2 tbsp. of water
*little strips of paper with messages to use as your fortunes*

First, make your fortunes to go inside your cookies

To make your batter, begin by whisking your egg whites until foamy

Now, whisk in your flour, powdered sugar, almond extract, salt and water until
it makes a nice smooth batter.

Pour your batter by the tablespoonful onto your prepared cookie sheet. (I placed a piece of parchment down and greased the top because the recipe called for a silicone mat which I did not have). The recipe also suggests pouring just two cookies at a time as once your pour the batter you're to spread it around until it forms a 4 inch circle.

Next, bake from a few minutes, until the edges are nice and golden. Lay your fortune
across the top of the cookie,

Fold your cookie in half. They are very hot so please  be careful and do not allow little
hands to touch!

Next, fold the pointed ends together. I found this takes a little practice......and patience.
Some will fold nicely, others won't. It depends on perfect baking time and
batter consistency. I placed the folded cookies into a muffin tin to help them retain their shape.

The Dragon is a symbol of power. How does this feel to you? What types of power and energy do you put towards your life, your friends, your family? Do you allow your soft spots to show and be vulnerable or are you always guarded? Maybe there is an unbalance between what you should be 'doing' and the energy that you're putting elsewhere.......or maybe you'd like to 'do' something but can't muster the power, the courage, the energy. Embrace this New Year......embrace the Year of the Dragon and allow this to be the year to enable to your heart to bear it's gifts into reality. 

I wish you a Happy New Year! Let me know what you're wishes are for this Year of the Dragon.
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