{ our products }

Mother's Day Gift: Citrus Peel Soap

Calling all dads and children looking for a sweet homemade gift to make for Mother's Day this year. All natural citrus peel soap smells good enough to eat, is rich and nourishing to the skin, and is easy to make. So gather up the ingredients, roll up your sleeves, and head into the kitchen with your little one. This soap contains Olive Oil, rich in vitamins and antioxidants to reduce free radical skin damage; citrus peel, a natural exfoliant and fabulous source of vitamin C, also a strong antioxidant; and lovely essential oils to provide moisture and soothing aromatherapy. Mom will love it.

I always delighted in giving my own mom handmade noodle necklaces, macaroni frames, and giant lumps of fired clay in the shape of ashtrays (she didn't smoke). The homemade gifts were the ones she kept. Long after the gilded spritzer of perfume from Christmas was carefully stored away, the awkward and crooked homemade gifts were the ones permanently displayed on the coffee table. She must have felt the love in them.

You'll Need:
  • 1 lb block soap (olive oil, glycerin, goat's milk are all good choices; available at craft stores)
  • Molds (mini loaf pans, muffin tins or special soap molds are good choices)
  • Turmeric powder (available at herbal and health food stores).
  • Lemon and orange essential oils
  • Fresh lemon and orange
  • Zester
  • Pretty paper and ribbon for wrapping

Try it Now:
  1. Cut a block of soap into approximately 4" x 2" chunks and place in a microwave safe pitcher or bowl. Warm for 30 seconds to one minute, taking care to catch it before it foams over.
  2. Remove from microwave and add 1/8th teaspoon turmeric powder. Stir with a spoon until dissolved.
  3. Add 2-4 drops of orange essential oil until you are satisfied with the smell
  4. Grate 1 tsp of orange zest into the mixture and stir until combined.

5. Pour into selected mold. Let set for 45 minutes and freeze for 10 minutes more before demolding.

6. Repeat with process for another bar of soap with more or less color. Use just a tiny speck of powder for lemon soap and substitute lemon zest and essential oil for orange. Make as many bars as you like.

7. Wrap in pretty paper or tissue and tie with a ribbon.

Zen and the Art of Childhood


The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment, wisely and earnestly.

- Buddha

Children know this already. I am always amazed by their natural and effortless awareness. Watching a colorful mobile spin can be endlessly mesmerizing, and banging a spoon on a pot is pure noisy experience. The transition from meltdown to contentment might be as easy as a cheesy snack, and conflicts over ownership last for a matter of seconds. I can learn a thing or two here.

When my mind isn't racing around lamenting my lack of discipline, regretting a glowering lapse in compassion, or planning supper, I might realize a blessed moment of stillness. Maybe I'll feel the warm sun on my face, relax in traffic when I'm late for an appointment, or notice that i've already eaten plenty of chips. Maybe I've chosen to spend so much time with children because they are better at this than I am, and they provide a little-fingered tap on the shoulder back to the present whenever they're around.

I was lazing around in a hammock last Sunday, with my small friend Isabelle. While I was wondering if I shouldn't be home cleaning the bathroom, she reminded me that we were having a very nice time by chanting "This is fun" at least once every ten minutes. With the effectiveness of a gong, I came back to the hammock and the bathroom faded away.

The learning doesn't stop at mindfulness. Children are jolly good at reminding me of other precious nuggets too:

Curiosity: A child's curiosity is natural and unbridled. Somewhere between asking "What makes it rain?" and "Can I borrow the car?" I lost my obsessive interest in the details. When I remember to pay attention, I begin to remember that I really do care about the spider in my bathtub and if she'll survive in the flowerpot on my porch.

Joy: When was the last time you sang into a hairbrush pretending you were the only girl in the Beach Boys, did cartwheels in your underpants, or laughed so hard you snorted your beverage? For me, it's been double-digit years. That seems like too long. I like to hang out with kids to get back in the swing of joy.

Creativity: Children don't really get that there is a box, so it's easy for them to think outside it. Trees can be purple, grass is sometimes orange and at least one of them has dreamt of launching a cardboard box rocket to the moon. I need to remember where I put those drawings...

Art Space 101: Kids in a Candy Store

photo from Amy Atlas, event planner NYC

Remember that feeling of going into a candy store when you were little? Bright, shiny colors, endless possibilities, and all you wanted to do was get started! Those are the elements I like to keep in mind when setting up a children's art area. You don't need a whole extra room available — a well-thought out nook in the corner, the basement, or under an umbrella in the garden will do. When designing an inspiring art space for your child, keep these ideas in mind:


Creating an art area that is convenient, pretty and manageable is easy if you keep inspiration (for yourself AND your child) in mind. Choose colors that you both love for the walls and furniture, find beautiful, simple and natural materials, and remember to keep open spaces that will make room for new ideas. I frequent blogs like paper scissors oranges and Bloesem Kids for juicy new ideas.


To encourage your child's artistic independence, it is important to let go of any expectations for the outcome. For young children, it's the process of creating that is richly developmental. Encourage your child to make choices: the project that lights up their eyes, the materials they fancy, and the final outcome (that part is the hardest for most adults). Arrange art supplies in containers that make the contents visible to your child. Choose safe and age-appropriate materials (child safety scissors, splat mats under the workspace), so that all art time doesn't require such close supervision. A little space goes a long way in creating an independent artist.


Clean and well-organized spaces are respectful of children. They let your artist focus on her ideas, and provide a sense of calm and order to the project at hand. This is not to say the space won't get messy, but your art area will be easier for you and your child to maintain when everything has a proper place. Art messes like spilled paint and glue are also less likely.

  • Choose clear jars for organizing materials by category (markers, crayons, paint, collage materials). I love the 'candy store' look. Or, scour yard sales for baskets, bins and tubs that can be used for art supply storage.
  • Tape a photograph or drawing of each item directly onto your art shelf. Even young child can return items to their proper place by matching the item with its picture.
  • Arrange safe materials at child-height for easy and continuous access

Use Recycled/Found Materials

Your personal recycle bin, community recycling/up-cycling center, or backyard are great sources for art materials. Here are some ideas for items to save/collect/recycle: corks, bottle caps, bubble wrap, leftover kitchen tiles or scrap wood, paper rolls, clothes pins, newspaper, gift boxes, rocks or pebbles, seashells, acorns, popsicle sticks and tongue depressors, pinecones, twigs, leaves, tin foil, ribbons, broken jewelry, used wrapping paper and tissue, shoeboxes, glass jars, string and thread, fabric scraps, yarn and previously enjoyed greeting cards.

Choose Safe Art Supplies

Always make certain that the art supplies you choose are certified nontoxic. The package should be clearly labeled with "conforms to ASTM-D4236," our national, nontoxic standard. I always encourage the use of the most natural and clean art supplies you can find. Clementine, Lyra, Stockmar and Eco-Kids are all terrific, all-natural brands that replace synthetic chemicals and preservatives with only natural ingredients.

Keep it Simple

Children don't need a lot of bells and whistles to participate in the creative process. In fact, simple and easy choices are often the most inspiring and filled with possibility. Cardboard, glue, scissors and a variety of found objects can be the building blocks of the loveliest collage, and a simple sheet of white paper paired with colorful, unique drawing tools may surprise you.

Set the Tone

Independent artists work to please themselves. Children should be encouraged to do the same. When responding to your child's creative efforts, try objective comments like, "Wow! I see you used a big circle of yellow in that painting." Your child will see that you are engaged and paying attention, but will be free to experience her work according to her own set of criteria: emotional response, expressive freedom and personal satisfaction.

Keep it Fresh

Even children get tired of the same old choices day after day. A box of half dried out markers and crumpled sheets of notebook paper fail to provide inspiration and freshness for any artist. Remembering to rotate art materials — putting out crayons one week, and markers or pastels the next — can bring a new interest and attention to your child's art space.

Mix the Arts

Who says art, music, theater and dance can't happen together? Try playing a variety of music (upbeat, classical) in your art area, or making sock puppets for a family show. Surrounding your child with all kinds of artistic mediums and opportunities heightens emotional connection to the experience, and shows children that art can be both purposeful and joyful!


Don't forget to show your child how much you value his artistic expression by celebrating his artwork. Make a home gallery, create a scrapbook, or 'publish' works of art into books at the copy center. Your artist may even give you permission to turn a few pieces of art into gift-wrap, greeting cards, or gifts to share!

Groovy Spin Art: Kid Powered, Planet Approved

Remember when battery powered Spin Art was the craze? I remember making psychedelic, groovy swirls by dripping paint onto a swiftly rotating sheet of cardstock until I was dazzled, or the batteries went dead, which was more often the case.

Our version is stripped-down and kid powered; no batteries required. Spin art allows children to explore cause and effect, patterns, color-mixing, and centrifugal force through play. It's also invites the use of the whole body; great for coordination, timing, strength and balance.

Try It Now:

Salad Spinner (often available at yard sales for pennies)
Squeeze bottles (I like to reuse my agave, mustard or honey bottles)
Paint (try Clementine all-natural paint)
Heavyweight paper or cardstock squares

Put the paper in the salad spinner and drip, drop and squeeze paint on top. You may want to limit your colors to 2 or 3 for a more interesting result, but don't take my word for it. Try it yourself.

After the paint is to your liking, put the cover on the salad spinner and spin away! Be sure the spinner has come to a full stop before you open it to prevent pinched fingers. I love turning the final result into greeting cards, postcards, or mini collages in flea market frames.

Artcycling: Whirligigs and Windmills

Vollis Simpson, a retired farm-equipment repairman, has a found an incredible
use for scrap metal, and a second career as an artist.
I'm so happy to know the story of this inspiring man, via the New York Times.

Curious George

Everyone's favorite little monkey is on display.The exhibition
"Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margret and H.A. Rey"
is on view at the Jewish Museum. This vintage artwork brings
me right back to my childhood. I remember being enthralled
with Curious George; especially with how fearless and naughty he was.