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Guest Post by Amber Smith from Mama Nature and a Giveaway

Today we have Amber joining us for a guest post on Natural Suburbia, she is a very creative and talented woman who loves nature and blogs over at Mama Nature.

In Amber’s words:

Who I am: I am simply aesthetic, spiritual, intuitive and imaginative. I support our local Farmer’s Markets.  I am a newly discovered community artisan! I believe in creating physically and spiritually. I want to inspire people to take whatever idea I share and make it their own and make it personal to them.
What I create:  I have been creating for my family the past year and it wasn’t until recently that I felt very encouraged by my friends and community to branch out and sell some of my creations. Things I create for my family: garden art, felt toys, polymer dolls and jewelry, knitted clothing (my favorite being the little red riding hood), upcycled patch-work clothing, quilt mandalas, illustrations for there bedroom walls, and stories that teach real value. Yes, I am a busy lady and I always try to involve my children in what I do. Most people may think being this busy might make life more complex but for me and my family it actually brings a simplicity and balance! It exercises our self-sufficiency, self discipline, self-awareness, self-discovery, our heart, our family’s quality of time and of course our creativity. I’m so thankful for the opportunities I’ve received in my life and I’m even more thankful for the supportive people in my life!
 “Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture your heart…”
Native American saying
What inspires me: Three things that inspire me: my children, my community and mama nature. I don’t think you can get any more simple than that! My favorite musician is Jack Johnson and we start nearly every day listening to his music and allowing it to ground us and prepare our hearts for the day. I also have been a member of his All At Once Community for a couple years now. Other things that inspire me: my heritage & home, this waldorf, and wildlife

What is my crafting space like? Space is so important. It’s nearly a source of inspiration itself! A majority of my art doesn’t happen in my home – it happens outdoors or in our community! Occasionally, in the evenings or early morning I will construct a new felt creation. And my family has been very supportive in giving me quiet time for a couple hours Tuesdays and Thursday evenings. This is when I blog, craft and reach out to people outside of our home.
Craft Tutorial: 
This is a very open craft tutorial. If you aren’t afraid of using your intuition and prefer being natural over uniform and perfect – then you may really enjoy this tutorial!  There are no real rules for this but I will try to share how it worked for me! Go ahead and free your creativity – exercise your problem solving skills and make something unique and creative!
flexible tree branch
multiple strands of yarn

#1 First bend your branch into a circle. Then use some yarn to creatively wrap and hold the ends together. Next use a second piece of yarn to create grass by wrapping it half way down one end and up the other.
#2 Now choose the color for your tree. Once you have selected the color yarn of your choice cut 5 strands of equal length depending on the size of your branch. The center strand must be about 12 inches longer than the rest because you will use the center strand to wrap around all 5 pieces to create a tree trunk effect.

#3 Attach the longest strand to the center using the larks head knot technique
#4 Attach the remaining pieces *two on each side of the center strand* using the same larks head knot technique.

#5 Gather the strands at the bottom of the branch tightly. Use the long center strand to wrap and attach to the bottom of your branch.
#6 Once the strands are securely attached at the bottom continue to wrap the long center strand up about half way and back down again. Tie the center strand tightly.

#7 Choose a variety of colored yarn. The yarn can be all lengths or you can cut them to equal 24 inch lengths. Attach the yarn to one end near the larks head knot.
#8 Begin weaving and adding more yarn until finished!
Links for Mama Nature:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs.
Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs are people who come alive.”
-my grandma/
Robert Henri, The Art Spirit
Amber is giving away this incredibly cute handmade Bigfoot toy. If you would like to enter this giveaway, please like her facebook page and leave a comment below saying you have liked the page:) If you are not on Facebook, you can Tweet about the giveaway or choose one of the additional entries below:)
For additional entries you can choose to either ‘share’ her Facebook page, follow her blog Mama Nature or heart her Etsy shop.
Please remember to leave a comment for each entry.
The winner will be announced here in this post on Sunday, please ensure you leave an email address so that I can contact you if you are the winner.

Congratulations to:

I love every shop you all feature. So many creative people out there, Mama Nature included. I just went by and “liked” their facebook page. Thanks for the giveaway!

Amber, thank you so much for sharing here today on Natural Suburbia.

Natural Suburbia Sponsor Giveaway from Armadillo Dreams

Today, I would like to introduce you to our newest Natural Suburbia sponsor, Armadillo Dreams and their beautiful wooden treasures that they sell in their Etsy shop.
Natural Suburbia:
Tell us about the beginnings of your business and how it has developed and grown.
Armadillo Dreams:
Armadillo Dreams began as a way for us to combine our skills into an etsy shop that we could run together. I (Dustin) found a love for woodworking after building our chicken coop, and Amanda wanted a child centered creative outlet.  We thought it might help to bring in a little income on the side and a way to provide our kids with natural toys on a limited budget. The success we were able to achieve in our first year of business far exceeded our expectations! After having gotten through the 2011 holiday season (whew) we are now working on more new toys, expanding the wood shop and preparing to launch our own shop/blog on Our main goal in 2012 is to turn Armadillo Dreams into a sustainable business that can support our family financially.
Natural Suburbia: 
Who or what is your inspiration?
Armadillo Dreams:
Our two children are our hugest inspirations. We have a daughter named Lucy who is almost 5 and a son named Lincoln who is 1 ½. Watching them play and imagine gives us lots of ideas for toys. We live in beautiful Central Oregon where we are surrounded by forest, desert, lakes, rivers, mountains and the Pacific Ocean just a few hours drive away. Being in nature is always inspiring.
Natural Suburbia:
What is your creative process and how long have you been creating these beautiful wooden treasures?
Armadillo Dreams:
We have been making handmade wooden toys for almost a year and a half. Amanda comes up with a lot of the designs for the toys. She never knows when inspiration will strike and is constantly inspired by little things – just this or that. She usually will let an idea marinate in her head for a while until she is ready to try it out (with gusto). I like to tease her for being impulsive but she insists she’s not. Once the idea is drawn out on paper the design is transferred onto wood and we work as a team turning the idea into a physical toy. 
Natural Suburbia:
What do you enjoy most about your business?
Armadillo Dreams:
My number one favorite thing about our shops by far is all of the great feedback we receive from our customers! I love receiving it and reading over it. It’s really nice when people take time out of their day to tell a shop owner how much they enjoyed the products they received or to tell about their shopping experience. I especially enjoy the stories of their children playing with our toys. In my previous professions I had never heard such nice things from customers. I used to have way more negative customer interactions than positive interactions. To be able to devote myself to Armadillo Dreams is like a breath of fresh air. The world needs more people like Etsy customers! 
Natural Suburbia:
 Are there any new and exciting products you would like to tell us about?
Armadillo Dreams:
We just recently launched our Spring/Easter line. Spring starts on March 20th (our daughter’s birthday!) and these items are perfect for spring nature tables and as gifts for Easter baskets! We always have new product lines for each season. We also come out with fun, new toys for every season and many holidays. Our product line is constantly evolving so there’s always something new!
 Isn’t this Pirate Ship just gorgeous!!
You can also find Armadillo Dreams here:


Armadillo Dreams is giving away this beautifully made, wooden Montessori Weather Set to one reader.
To enter, leave a comment below, to earn extra entries, you can Tweet, Facebook or blog about this giveaway and please remember to comment each time you share the giveaway for more entries.
The winner will be chosen on Tuesday, the 13th of March and will be announced here in this post.
PS If you are reading this post in Google Reader in your email inbox, you need to click on the title of the post and it will bring you here to the actual blog post and you will be able to comment there to enter.

Congratulations to:

These are fine toys. I like when something so simple is so much fun
Please could you email me your postal details:)
Thanks so much
Discount Offer:
Armadillo Dreams is offering a special discount to Natural Suburbia readers! Enter code “NS312” during checkout to receive 10% off of your order!
Thank you so much to both Dustin and Amanda for joining us here today and sharing their thoughts and wonderful work with us.I wish you all the best with your beautiful business!
If you would like to become a sponsor here on Natural Suburbia, you can contact me at:

~~ Natural Suburbia Blog Anniversary Giveaway~~

It’s hard to believe that it has been four years since I started this blog. I began blogging to create a visual diary for our family, it has become that and so much more. The amount of time I spend blogging each day is very precious to me, it allows me to consciously look at our life as a family and plot our journey through each week and year, the ups and downs, knitting, celebrations, birthdays and our garden etc… as we travel this path together. The time has flown, I never knew how many wonderful, kind and talented people I would encounter and connect with. You have all enriched my life tremendously by your encouraging words that you leave in this space. I thank you all, really, I am so honoured and blessed that you are a part of my life. Your generous words are truly a balm for my soul…

I would like to thank you all by offering a special giveaway, because in a way you have come along on this journey with us through this blog and it’s a comfort to me to know that there are friends all over the world, from so many countries, it’s wonderful…

This is an international giveaway, open to all.
I am offering this giveaway to one person.
To enter, just leave a comment, for extra entries, you are welcome to Tweet, Facebook or blog about the giveaway, just remember to let me know each time via a comment that you shared about the giveaway.

People who are following this blog in an email reader: please could you leave a comment here in this giveaway post, you can just click on the title of the post in your reader email, that will bring you through to the post to leave a comment. You will find the comment button below the blog post, just click on it and it will take you to a comment form. The random generator will then be able to count your comment when the winner is chosen on Saturday.

The winner will be chosen on Saturday the 10th of March and announced in this blog post.

Congratulations to:

Hi Linda I’m a email reader and I wish you and your family much more years of blogging I love to read your blog, and you have a great give-away.
Thank you so much to everyone who entered the giveaway! Your kind words mean so much to me xo

Here are the giveaway items:

A Maxwell Williams mug to sit and drink tea from while you knit…
Elizabeth Zimmermann’s, Knitter’s Almanac. Don’t you just love reading Elizabeth’s books?
A skein of naturally dyed cochineal Merino yarn.
This pattern has not been released yet, Max, the Meerkat …

Drifter the Whale and Petunia the Pig patterns.

And the Swan Pattern…

You can also find my patterns on Etsy, Craftsy and Ravelry.

PS. I think the Natural Suburbia blog feed is repaired now and if you are subscribed in a reader, you should be receiving your updates in your inbox each time I blog.

Have a wonderful weekend and week.


Natural Suburbia Sponsor Giveaway from The Enchanted Cupboard

It is my great pleasure to introduce you to Beccijo from The Enchanted Cupboard, one of our most recent sponsors on Natural Suburbia.

In Beccijo’s words:

You enter a quaint gift shop at the street corner. You see the gypsy-like shopkeeper, and she smiles at you as you walk further into the room. You feel like you have just entered into a place timeless, magical, yet familiar all at the same time. The woman raises her finger to her lips as if to silence you. Then she looks around the room and points to the back of the store. You see a large old enchanted cupboard with a vast amount of drawers and doors; you walk to it as sweet, whispered words fill your ears,
“Inside you will find your heart’s desire!”

The Enchanted Cupboard is a wonderful mix of handmade items that are truly part of my soul. You will find it full of wonderful wooden toys, custom wedding cake toppers, and a few enchanting things for the young at heart. I specialize in wooden dolls and playsets that work wonderfully with Waldorf nature tables. I have been developing wonderful educational toys that inspire learning while children are having fun. I make custom family dolls and wedding cake toppers that are lovingly painted to look like the people who will receive them.

Natural Suburbia: Tell us about the beginnings of your business and how it has developed and grown over the years.

I started out just making items for my own children, then it grew to other children of friends and family. Soon friends of friends started asking me to make them and from that simple hobby a business started to grow. I found Etsy in 2008 as a customer and then started reading all I could about online selling. I traded a few items in the beginning and then sold my first toy online in 2009.

Natural Suburbia:Who or what is your inspiration?
I have always had a very elaborate imagining. I spent most of my childhood in the woods playing with fairies, trolls, and goblins. I came from a large family with extended family all around and there was always someone to play with. As I grew my Art ability started to blossom and I was able to put my imagination to work on paper and canvas.
As an adult I went to the English Nanny and Governess School to pursue my dream of being a Nanny. I again was able to use my imagination as a source of inspiration for my work. I had a long wonderful career that end a few years after I married and started my own family. Having a lifetime surrounded by children gave me a great opportunity to study how important play was and what was needed to inspire the imagination of a child.
To read more about my life see my website

Natural Suburbia: What is your creative process and how long have you been crafting?
I come from a very creative family and crafting was just part of my life from the beginning. I am a bit of a Mad Hatter when it comes to my creative process. I see something that just sparks something inside me and then like a wildfire it takes off in my brain. In a few moments my brain has connected all the pieces like a puzzle. Not just the what it is but also the why it would work! I get very excited and pace around and start talking to myself. When I think of a toy, it also has a story, a life that goes with it. Sometimes I sketch it out or I might go right to painting and creating. Once I start I can’t stop until I have finished it. After I finish I give it to the children to see what they do and how they react. It is a lovely but wild process!

Natural Suburbia: What do you do to avoid burnout, how do you relax?
Having balance is the key! Making sure I give to all the parts of myself, the mother, the wife, the toy maker, the daughter, etc. and to ME. I learned very early in life that you need to take care of the ME or there will never be enough of yourself to go around for all the parts that you are to others. When in an airplane for safety you are told in a emergency to put your oxygen on first then take care of others. The same is true in life! Doing things that renew your spirit is like giving your life the oxygen you need for emergencies. Some of my favorite ME things is reading and planning our future mini farm. I love using Pinterest to mark all the really great information that I find and all of the inspiring photos. I also make sure I spend time with friends and family that make me feel good when I am with them.

Natural Suburbia: How do you balance mothering, crafting and homemaking?

I am a very organized person. Everything has a place and with 4 kids, 3 being boys, it can be a challenge. I work best when my life has order and then everything falls into place. I also get help when I need it, if my business has a growth and I can’t get to the housekeeping then I hire someone till I can handle it again. I have an assistant who helps out from time to time and that need grows as my business grows. 

Natural Suburbia: Are there any new and exciting products you would like to tell us about?
You can also find Beccijo here:



Congratulations to:

What a generous giveaway! My kids and I look at her shop all the time, ooing and ahhhing at all her creations. Thanks for the chance!

Today, The Enchanted Cupboard is offering a $ 50 shopping spree to one winner!

To enter the giveaway please leave a comment below, the winner will be announced on Tuesday here in this blog post, please ensure I have a way to contact you if you win.
For additional entries, please share this giveaway on Twitter, Facebook etc..or in a blog post, please remember to come back here and comment each time you share about this giveaway.

Thank you so much Beccijo for this lovely interview and wonderful giveaway.

For more information about becoming a sponsor on Natural Suburbia, you can contact me at

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