Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday SALE!

Well, thank you all who took advantage of my Thanksgiving Weekend Sale! It was very successful. So much so that I decided to have another sale for today only as it's Cyber Monday. Pick up some great deals on selected gnomes, cats, crowns and even a few wands. All items can be found in the CYBER MONDAY SALE section in my etsy shop and are marked down by $2.00 each.

Thanks again for all the support which keeps my little shop running. It may be a small business but it means so much to me to be able to contribute to my family's well being. Have a lovely week everyone!

Friday, November 26, 2010

SALE at Simply Playing

Hello All! I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving. To celebrate and share I decided to have a sale in my etsy shop Simply Playing. Etsy is now offering coupon codes for shop owners as a way to promote a sale. This way you get your discount right away instead of as a refund through Paypal.

My coupon code is simply "Thanksgiving2010" for a 10% discount on everything in my store! So, if there has been something you've been eyeing now is the time to buy! Enjoy this shopping weekend everyone!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Finding Balance

Like most mamas I have many roles that I play: I'm a mama, wife, daughter, homemaker, toymaker, artist assistant and school volunteer. Whoa, what a mouthful! Lately, I've been having trouble balancing all these identities. With the holiday season coming quickly upon us the toymaker in me has been taking over rushing to get more magic wands and crowns made. What I've noticed recently is I let all my other roles fall by the wayside trying to accomplish just this one task. Putting housekeeping aside, letting my mother (who lives with us) cook the meals, passing by my husband in the evening as we try to get stuff done, telling my son I'm too busy to play etc. This last one I acutely felt as Sam said the other day "Why don't you play with me Mama?' - ouch!

Sam is and will be our only biological child. We're hoping to adopt, but with the bills left over from our infertility treatments that's on hold. We worked so hard to have this wonderful child and I'm telling him I don't have time to play because I'm making toys for other people's children. Hmm...doesn't sound quite right. So, I took a step back and reevaluated all the things I do which make me me. The one I'm most proud of is being a mother. I'm sure this is true for many of you as well. It was literally the hardest thing I've ever accomplished, but I need to remember it's ongoing and didn't just end with the birth. Sam doesn't require 100% of my attention 100% of the time to be a good mama to him, but maybe a little more would be a good idea.

So, I sat down with pen and paper to draw up a plan/schedule for myself. There simply was not enough hours in the day to do everything to the extent I would like to do them. So, I dropped out of one of the Waldorf School Holiday Fairs I was going to sell my work at and decided just keeping up with etsy, at least for this year, would be enough for the toymaker in me, I talked to my mother about splitting the meal preparation so as not to take advantage of her help. Trying to spend more time in the evening talking to my husband, not just focusing on what I can get done in that quiet time when Sam is asleep. Keeping my volunteer and assistant work within the time frame I've allowed for them as both could easily take as much time as I could give them. I even decided that a little mess in the house is o.k., but daily, not weekly, management is needed.

Sounds so easy on paper, but it's still a struggle. I'm glad Sam awakened me to my tendency to go overboard in one direction. Like in meditation, it's that constant reminder to come back to center that's important, not just being in the center, because life happens. What do you do to keep yourself balanced in your life?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Yarn Along and Handmade Holidays

I found out about this Yarn Along from Tonya over at Plain and Joyful Living, but it originates from Ginny of the blog, Small Things. It's a simple picture to share the books we are currently reading and what is on your needles. These are both pursuits that I enjoy especially knitting during this dark colder time of year here in the Upper Midwest.

I'm currently, or I should say still, knitting a striped scarf for my husband for Christmas (hence this also being my Handmade Holiday post). It was supposed to be his gift last year, but seed stitch seems to take me an inordinately long time to knit. My husband does not like wool as he says "It's itchy!" so this scarf is a test of the supposedly non-itchy merino wool. The owner of Linden Hills Yarn and Textile Design LTD remarked when I told her of my dilemma that what my husband is reacting to are the "barr" hairs (the hairs that make the wool fuzzy) that exist in most wools. So, she recommended the Karabella brand's merino wool, and I have to say it is certainly soft! Dan and I choose colors we both like so if the scarf does not work out for him it will then pass on to me. I'm hoping it doesn't itch and he loves it as I plan to secretly make him some fingerless mitts to match as well.

Reading time is something that is hard for me to find time for, hence I have been "reading" this book for quite awhile and I'm still only 30 pages into it. The book is Homemaking as a Social Art - Creating a Home for Body Soul and Spirit by Veronika Van Duin. It talks a lot about rhythm, relationships, artistic environment, caring, self development and more. The Spiritual side of this book is taken in most part from Rudolph Steiner's work, which is how I stumbled across it at our Waldorf School.

I'm hoping to have both finished this book and scarf by Christmas. I just need to eek out some time here and there. How and when do you find time to read?

Monday, November 1, 2010

My Dragon and Halloween

Here's my little red dragon getting ready for the Halloween Walk his Waldorf School hosts every year.

The Halloween Walk or "Friends in the Forest" is a Spring Hill Waldorf School holiday tradition. It's a lovely magical walk through the Baker Park Reserve woods here in Minnesota. The path is lit only by jack - o - lanterns and candles which the kids and families of the school carve. Along the way he met many characters starting with Mother Nature who talked about safety in the woods as her pixies and sprites can leave rocks, roots and sticks in the paths. Next, was Mother Goose sitting by a fire needing help with her rhymes. The kids really loved shouting out the answers to the familiar stories. Then we saw a play about two sister rivers needing each other to have the strength to flow into the sea done by the 4th and 5th graders. Next, was another short play about the North Wind and the Sun. We learned that gentle persuasion is better than force as they both tried to get a traveler to take off his cloak and sit a spell. A shadow puppet theater was next along the path in one of the little cabins sprinkled throughout the woods. Two wonderful mothers put on the story of the Sun Egg by Elsa Beskow and gave the kids a cookie as they left to discover who else they might meet in the woods. This next play confused Sam a bit as it was Jacqueline and the Bean Stalk and not Jack and the Bean Stalk. Why this switch in genders? Well, the eighth grade class is made up of all girls and only 1 boy who wanted to play the chicken who laid the golden eggs. What happened to the goose - I don't know.

As we continued on our walk we ran into a very confused Scarecrow who didn't know which way we should go and told us a story about fire safety as he was scared of fire his being stuffed with dried leaves and all. We then saw a play about 2 stars rescuing the sun prince who had been turned into a dragon and another play with King Arthur and Merlin the Magician both set off by fire light. Next, it was inside again to another cabin for a puppet show of a Native American story about how strawberries came to be told with beautiful Waldorf needled felted table puppets. Lastly, we came to Mother Earth as she was weaving her blanket to keep all her children warm over the winter months. Two stars came out to sing to us and they passed out wooden necklaces to the children, with a moon and a star burned into them, to remember their magical night walking in the woods.

We then went back to the main lodge where our walk began to enjoy some friendship, hot cider and popcorn. Sam wanted to go on the walk all over again, but as it was already way past his bedtime we had to say no to his sweet request. What amazes me most about this Halloween walk is how the children are completely drawn into the plays and puppet shows even though some of the material is in language they are not familiar with. They just soak in the atmosphere and enjoy running to the next production. Sam also enjoyed finding the pumpkins we had carved along the way pointing them out with pride to his friends.

I really feel The Friends in the Forest walk was the best way to experience the holiday in an imaginative, non scary way, which is just perfect for little ones. What events do you go with your children to celebrate Halloween? Although, it wouldn't be Halloween without a bit of neighborhood trick - o - treating. Sam and Dan went out for about an hour teaming up with some other kids, or "new friends" as Sam says, along they way. He was very excited about how much candy he received, but was even more excited about the Halloween Fairy who exchanges a gift for all that candy. Of course Sam kept a few pieces to enjoy, but tonight we will leave out the rest of his candy stash by the back door for the Halloween Fairy. I wonder what she will bring?