new direction... wooden toys

Posted on November 23, 2014

Mali and I are always on the lookout for all natural toys (ok, maybe it’s just me, but she is my sidekick).  Learning how to build toys was definitely on my list, but the warm weather had been dictating larger scale, outdoor pieces for our home.

Now that the temperature has dropped significantly, I’ve started to do all of my work inside, which means it is time to scale down the projects that I work on – a perfect opportunity to try my hand at wooden toys.

The goal for this new adventure is to create toys that are simple in design and full of imaginative play.   The first piece in the collection was a no brainer.   Mali is always wanting to get her little hands on our SLR digital camera.  Playing with this piece of equipment is not an option; so I began sketching what Mali’s camera would look like.

Before I started sketching, the first words I jotted down on the page were:

  • simple
  • durable
  • eco-friendly
  • imaginative
  • child friendly

After tinkering with some scrap wood pieces, I came up with a final product.

This concept camera is powered by imagination instead of  batteries.

The natural tone of the wood really looked beautiful, but I thought it would be fun to add some color.  Mali loves to paint and be involved in whatever I am doing, so she helped me dye one set of camera pieces with all natural ingredients.   Here she is mixing a block in a homemade kale concoction.  (Image of green camera to follow; the process is a bit slower and messier with a two year old.)

All of the wooden pieces are finished with a natural bees wax sealant. That sealant really is coming in handy these days!

Right now we are having fun venturing around with our cameras, snapping photos.

This is just the beginning…


Thanks for reading.

Kitchen island

Posted on November 19, 2014

This island is the most used prep space in our kitchen. More importantly, it acts as a bridge for children and toy cars.

The island has been stained, painted and stripped several times. I cannot decide what I want it to look like. Here is a photo of it raw.


The first go around, I painted it light blue; that was a mistake. *It is a good idea to have a plan in mind before you do labor intensive work.  Ha!  The plan to paint it blue was a good one, however it just didn’t look the way I wanted it to in our current kitchen.  So, instead of redesigning the kitchen, I stripped the island. It took almost as long to sand it than it did to build it.

After stripping down the top I realized how beautiful the wood was natural, so I used the bees wax sealant as a protectant. The base of the island is another story. Here’s what it looks like today.

I’m thinking of whitewashing the entire base so it pops. What do you think?

As always, thanks for reading!

How to make a bees wax sealant

This post brings me back to my second grade classroom and the How to…  writing unit of study.  We would start off by giving some examples of how to… tie your shoe; make peanut butter and jelly, etc.   Writing out a step by step process was the concept to be mastered.  As a test to ensure that no steps were forgotten, they had someone actually do it exactly as written.  It was very entertaining to see what second grade students came up with; here are two examples.

The pie, I might try.


The (raw) hot dog…

Nostalgic teacher, I digress.

Mali’s table needed a child safe and eco-friendly sealant.  The little artist’s workspace was routed, sanded (thank you Dad for helping me do this) and ready to be sealed — After reading about all of the natural benefits of using beeswax, a beeswax and olive oil mixture seemed to be the way to go.  Here is the recipe.  (You can let me know if I passed the How to unit of study)

How to make a beeswax sealant

You will need:

  • A sauce pan
  • 1 tempered glass measuring cup
  • 3 cups of water
  • oven mitts
  • 1/4 cup bees wax (you can buy at a health food store or online)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (I used Trade Joe’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 1 mason jar (I used a 8oz)


1.  Measure out approximately 1/4 cup of wax.  It is easiest to cut the bar of wax like you would a hard block of cheese.  Start at the edge and rock the knife back and forth so that the wax crumbles.

you can get this at Whole Foods, or online.

you can get this at Whole Foods, or online.



2.  Next, put the measuring cup of wax into the sauce pan.  Fill the pan with the water so that the waterline is flush to wax in the cup.  Double boil the wax on a low flame.


* The wax melts pretty quickly; ensure that you are gently stirring it until it melts down.  Keep the flame at a low level so that the liquid does not get hotter than 200 degrees F.



3.  Next, slowly and carefully pour 1/2 cup of olive oil into the measuring cup.  It will instantly start to solidify the wax (see clumps below).




4.   Stir the mixture until it is a homogenous liquid.





5.  Now, with your oven mitts on, remove the measuring cup from the sauce pan and let it sit for a moment on a towel.




6.  Still keep those mitts on, and pour the liquid into a tempered glass jar.  (It will keep for several months sealed and in the refrigerator)




7.  Your homemade bees wax sealant is now ready for use.  (First, I did a sample strip on the left hand side to see how it was going to look.)  Here is the table half sealed and half unsealed. (Why I then started on the right is beyond me. ha!) 



The sealant protect the wood from drying out and gives the maple surface a beautiful, smooth, and natural finish. It is eco-friendly, safe, and really simple to make.  If you use this recipe please share photos of your final project.



Thanks for reading.