Friday, December 2, 2016

DIY Playsilks

How to make your own playsilks!

Since my kids were very little, playsilks (classic Waldorf toys) have been a big hit. They’ve functioned as everything from superhero capes, to playscapes and tent building supplies. I love that they are open ended, made from natural materials and that they encourage children use their imaginations. One year we even made them as gifts for all of our friends!

Playsilks can be purchased ready made (Sara’s Silks but they are usually pretty pricey. Luckily, they are super easy to make on your own! There are many methods and techniques out there for dying playsilks (for example with Kool aid, fabric die and so on).
I’ve tried them all. Here is what works the best!

I have found that the following method produces the longest lasting and most vibrant colors.

Here’s what you’ll need:

White vinegar
Get at least a gallon of it if you plan on making several scarves. I usually keep a few gallons on hand, just so that I don’t run out. It’s cheap and easy to get in the grocery store (look near the distilled water).

Good quality food coloring
I like to use gel color, and in particular this brand:

A medium size pot


Optional: rubber gloves to protect hands from dye

White Habotai Scarves
I like to use a variety of sizes. There are many different sizes available. Here are a few examples:

This website is also a good source for plain silk scarves (you will just have to pay shipping):

Rubber bands (if you want a marbled/ tie-die effect)


Wash your scarves in warm/ hot water. I just toss mine in the washing machine with regular detergent. Or you could wash by hand, but you must wash them. I skipped this step once, and the color didn’t stick nearly as well. You can dry them too, but it’s not necessary.


Heat up a pot of 1/2 parts white vinegar, 1/2 parts water (I usually use about 1 cup of each). Then add a generous amount of food coloring, in the color of your choice. I usually heat mine to boiling (or nearly boiling).

Make the magic happen:

Gently add one of your scarves to the hot mixture. I like to swirl them around with a whisk to ensure uniform color. I usually turn down the heat and let it sit in there for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.



Remove your playsilk from the pot and place in the sink. Rub it under cool water, rinsing until the water runs clear (or nearly clear).

Then, to seal in the color even more I like to run my (wet) scarves through the dryer on a hot setting. They should be dry within just a few minutes.


They will come out wrinkled, and perhaps not as “silky” as you’d hoped for. Luckily a quick once-over with a hot iron easily changes this! Sometimes it helps to use the steam setting on your iron.

Play and enjoy!


While solid colored playsilks are a lot of fun and have many uses, you can easily create even more intricate ones with there methods!

For a marbled look, before placing it in the die bath, scrunch up sections of your scarf and secure with rubber bands. I especially like to do this when dying a scarf blue because it produces an effect that resembles clouds and sky.

To get a classic tie-die spiral, first die your scarf one solid light color (I like to use yellow). Then rinse, lay the wet scarf flat and pinch the middle. Holding onto the middle, begin to twist and rotate the fabric until you have a circle/ disk like shape. Secure the disk by wrapping several rubber bands around it. Then place in a darker color dye bath (as described above). I like to use dark blues and or vibrant rich greens. Let it soak for a few minutes, remove from hot water, cut off rubber bands, rinse and dry.

Rainbow (or multicolored) silks seem daunting, but they are actually very doable too.

Starting with red dye (for example), dip just one end of your scarf into the dye bath. let it sit for a while, and then rinse with cool water. Miix up another batch of die bath in the next color you’d like to use, for example orange). Then dip the next section into that color. It’s even okay if the two colors overlap a bit, as this gives it a nice blended look.

Sometimes I like to mix up smaller batches of die for this purpose. I just use mason jars and then lower them into a larger pot of hot water (see pic).

A word of WARNING: Be SURE to turn off the burner on your stove before attempting to dip sections of your scarf into the pot (and leaving other sections out). Chances are that sections of it will drape over the side, and they can catch fire, easily. I speak from experience!


Lastly, the issue paper method can be a neat way for making unique playsilks too. Using this special tissue paper you can get some really neat looks:

Simply lay down some cardboard (or use a surface that you don’t care about getting messy). Then lay down some sheets of this "bleeding" tissue paper. It’s fun to use a variety of colors. Next, lay your scarf on top of the paper and cover the top with more tissue paper. Take care that the colors on top correspond with the colors on the bottom.

Then, using a spray bottle, generously spray the whole thing with white vinegar. Really soak it!

Allow it to sit and dry for at least ten minutes. The rinse under cold water, dry and iron.

Then, create a fun way to store you silks, play and enjoy!

That's all for today, thanks for stopping by!

Linking up to these fun parties:

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Narwhal Natural; A Great Subscription Service!

Left to their own devices, my kids would probably chose to play on the computer all day long. But, that is not the childhood that I want for them. Screen time overload is not the hope and dream that I have for their days.

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Instead, I want them to love learning and to experience nature and all her glory. I yearn for them to interact with and “get to know” the natural world.

narwhal natural
This is why I am SO EXCITED to be a part of a new subscription service for children! Starting immediately, a dear friend and I will be offering this lovely service to families nationwide. 

I am so pleased to introduce:

Narwhal’s mission is to create unique opportunities for children to unlock learning and creativity inspired by a love of nature. We strive to nurture a child’s creative spirit, while simultaneously connecting them with the natural and scientific world. 

narwhal natural

Our monthly mail order subscription service (The Terra Crate) uses natural items like wood, shells, rocks, etc. combined with quality arts and crafts supplies to guide students in creating hands on projects that are beautiful, educational and often functional. Our projects are open ended and leave plenty of room for imagination. We bringing together art and the natural sciences through the study of nature and hands on experiences.

 Terra Crate, narwhal natural Terra Crate, narwhal natural

We also offer a regular blog with creative project ideas for both children and adults. Please stop by anytime to check out this free and fun resource! 

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You can find the Narwhal Natural blog and tutorials here:

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We look forward to providing your children with hours of creative inspiration!

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Terra Crate, narwhal natural

Terra Crate, narwhal natural

Thanks for stopping by, and happy crafting!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Easy (Homemade) Canned Apple Pie Filling

This is the time of year for delicious ripe apples!

They’ve soaked up the last rays of summer sun. Now they wait for us in the trees, delicious, crunchy and sweet!

We had such a great time with friends the other day when we went to a local farm to pick apples! And, while apples kept in the refrigerator can keep for up to many months, I still found myself with an abundance of apples after our enthusiastic picking session.

Photo Credit

One easy thing to do with apples (to make them last all year) is to make canned apple pie filling.
Then store it away for anytime that you want a warm homemade apple pie!
It’s so easy! Just open the jar, dump the apple mixture into a pie crust and bake!

Here’s how I made mine:


6 lbs apples

3 cups white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup cornstarch
*or (if you have it) it's better to use: 1 cup ClearJel® (a cooking starch used for preserving)

1 teaspoon salt

2-1/2 cups unsweetened apple juice

1-1/2 cups cold water

1 cup lemon juice (divided into two halves)

About 10 cups water (for sterilizing) 

Materials needed:

You can purchase an entire canning set inexpensively:

Or, if you already have a large pot (tall enough to cover jars with 1" water) then all you will need is the accessories:

Mason Jars (the larger quart size)

Cute Labels:

And, while not necessary, this little gadget will save you a lot of time!

I used Granny Smith and (a few Gala) apples for this project. Generally tart/ green apples work the best for baking.

Also, in case you are not able to weigh your apples, note that 1 pound (of apples) is equal to about 3 medium-sized apples. So, for this recipe you will need about 18 medium sized apples. If your apples are large of small, you can simply adjust the amount accordingly. One nice thing is that it doesn't need to be exact!


-Start by sterilizing 6 quart size jars and lids. I just run mine through the dishwasher (on steam setting).

-You can also sterilize by washing them with soap and water and putting them in the oven at 215 degrees (for a minimun of 15 minutes). You can even leave them in the oven until you are ready to take them out. Also, sterilize the metal rims and lid by boiling them for about 5 minutes. Use the metal magnet tool to remove them from the hot water and place a clean surface (like a clean dishtowel).

-Peel apples. For fun, I like to see if I can peel the whole thing in one continuos spiral! For me a small sharp steak knife works the best.

-Next, core and slice apples. Make slices about 1/2 inch thick, or use the tool linked to above. While I worked I sealed, freshly cut apples in plastic bags so that they would not turn brown.

-Blanch apple slices. Working with about 6 cups at a time, submerse apples in a large pot of boiling water and 1/2 cup of lemon juice for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm in a covered bowl. This will sterilize them and help prevent browning.


-Combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cornstarch and salt in large pot (but not the pot you will use for canning later).

-Add cold water and apple juice. Cook on high heat, stirring frequently at first and then constantly until it boils. Let it boil for about a minute, at this point it should be nice and thick. Stir in 1/2 cup lemon juice.

-Add apple pieces, and stir to combine.

-If it won't all fit in the one pot, you can mix more sauce and apples together in a regular mixing bowl. But, ideally you want the apples evenly coated and warmed by the sauce.

-Ladle hot apple pie filling into hot jars, leaving 1 inch headspace.

--Remove air bubbles, one of the tools is made for this purpose. Swirl it around the outer edges of each jar to remove bubbles.

-Wipe rims/ edges with a clean cloth or paper towel.

-Center lids on jars. Apply bands until the fit is fingertip tight. Take care not to over tighten them.

     **An alternate method (I have not tried this) is to NOT mix apples and sauce together first. Instead pack apples in jars and fill jars with sauce just to the bottom rung of the mouth of the jar. Use a wooden spoon to push the apples down. Do NOT fill them any higher! 

-Process jars in hot water bath for 25 minutes. To so this, submerse jars in a boiling water canner (or your large pot, with at least an inch of water above the lids) for 25 minutes, adjusting for altitude as needed.

-Remove jars (using grasping tool) and cool.

-You will know they are sealing when you here the center of the lids make a "pop" noise.

-Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
If it pushes down, it didn't seal. I've never had this happen. So far, they always seal right away. But if any of them don't seal, then just refrigerate for up to a few days and use immediately to make a pie.

-To make mine extra cute, I like to first shine the lids and jars with a rag and white vinegar. Then I add a cute label to the lid, writing what it contains and the date. For added flair add a cute bow around the rim too!

-Then store in a cool place (I just use a lower kitchen cupboard) for up to a year and enjoy!

Image Credit
Also, these jars of canned apple pie filling make great gifts! Tie a cute bow around the top and this makes for the perfect festive hostess gift! I like to keep several on hand for the holiday season.

That's all, happy cooking and thanks for stopping by!

If you STILL have apples to use, you might enjoy these other fun tutorials!

Dried Apple Garland Tutorial

Homemade Apple Sauce

Linking up to these fun parties:

Monday, September 12, 2016

Just Add Color

I'm not sure what it is (there must be something in the air) but right now it seems like I'm seeing used patio furniture for sale all over the place! Be it via Facebook, Craigslist or thrift stores, my neighbors are purging their unwanted yard furniture.

Summer isn't officially over until the 22nd, so there is still have time to enjoy the outdoors. Luckily, even if it's a bit weathered, used patio furniture is fast and easy to update!

spray painted furniture

First, I gathered up several pieces of wicker furniture, all used (and/ or bought second-hand).

I chose furniture that was all made of the same material (wooden wicker), but yours doesn't have to all be the same. As long as you eventually paint it with corresponding colors, you can mix and match metal, wood, and even plastic furniture. The great thing about the paint we'll use is that it sticks to just about everything!

If you do go with wicker, check to be sure that it isn't unraveling or broken. Usually the first place you'll notice damage is on the legs. If it's starting to unravel, skip it. But, don't worry about chipped/ faded paint. We'll fix that part!

Next, I used 100 grit sandpaper to lightly and quickly remove flaking paint, dirt and spider webs from each piece. Just a quick once-over was enough to remove the worst of it. You don't need to sand everything off, just aim for the loose stuff.

Now the fun part!

Work outdoors, and cover an area about twice the size of the furniture with a protective surface (to avoid painting your patio too). I like to use old cardboard for this purpose. I find it's easier to work with than newspaper because it doesn't blow around and get stuck in wet paint.

If you have an Amazon habit like I do, then you probably have no shortage of boxes laying around! But if you are short on cardboard, I've also used large pieces of butcher paper with success (see link below).

Next gather your paint. Here is what I used for this project:

For the largest chair, I used three cans of Rustoleum "Oasis Blue" spray paint. I like the "paint plus primer" (called "2X") because it is durable and easy to use. Painting wicker soaks up a lot of paint. There are so many nooks and crannies that you go through a lot of paint (several cans).
If your chair is just wood or plastic, you could probably get by with only using two cans. 

Then, for the child size rocking chair, I used one whole can of the same brand of paint. This time I used the "Magenta" color. One can was just enough to cover the chair because it was already red. But, if your chair is white (or a very different color) to begin with, then you'll want at least two cans, just to be safe.

Lastly, I used a different brand of paint for the side table, because I liked the way that the color looked with the other two.
This time I used Krylon Paint and Primer in "Sea Glass".  It took about 3 cans to completely cover piece (inside and out). The coverage wasn't quite as good as the Rustoleum (I had to do one more layer), but the hue looked great with the other two I'd chosen.

You can use a glossy finish if you like, but I prefer a satin finish. I feel like matt (satin) finishes have a more sophisticated look and hold up better over time. 

I started painting each piece upside down first. To avoid drips use a quick sweeping motion, holding the can about 9" away from the furniture. 
Starting with the bottom will give you a chance to "feel it out" and get an idea of how to best apply the paint. And, being that it won't really show on the bottom, you will find painting the underside first to be more forgiving of mistakes and/ or drips. If they're on the bottom, then they won't show as much. Once you feel confident in your technique you can flip the chair over and paint the top. 

spray painted furniture

I like to really saturate my wicker furniture with paint, so I added 3 (and in some places 4) coats of paint. Pay attention to detail. Make sure that you are getting even the small areas like edges, corners and legs. Paint each coat from a different angel, to assure good coverage.

spray painted furniture

If it's a sunny, warm and dry day I don't usually bother to let the paint dry between coats. It dries so fast! On a cloudy damp day, you'll want to wait at least five to ten minutes between each coat of paint. 

Once covered in paint, allow the furniture to dry completely. 

spray painted furniture
Spray painted furniture 

For fun, I decided to paint the inside of the side table blue, and the outside green. It made for a fun surprise when you opened the little door.
Add a pot colorful pot of (easy to grow) succulents to the mix, and you have a fresh set of furniture that's perfect for cheering up any space! 

spray painted furniture

Lastly, I tend to be kind of a sloppy painter. At the end of this project my right hand was tinted blue from the overspray, and I had magenta spots up and down my arm. Luckily I have figured out the best way to get any paint off of your hands. Use this stuff:

And scrub it onto your hands with one of these:

It works like a charm every time, and smells so heavenly!

Before and After

Sometimes I like to use painted patio furniture inside the house for an unexpected pop of color. Or it's also right at home on a porch, patio or lawn.

Sit back, relax and enjoy!


spray painted furniture

That's all for today! Thanks for stopping by, and happy painting!

spray painted furniture
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