Hold on! Holiday Spending

Buy buy buy. Messages urging you to spend money for the holidays can be relentless. Turn on your critical thinking now before you buy more than you intend to.

According to BMO Financial Group, Canadians are ready to spend this holiday season. “Canadians expect to spend an average of $1,610 this holiday season – up from $1,397 in 2011.” Shoppers in the U.S. are expected to spend just about that much with an average of $749 each on gifts and decorations and another $762 each on travel.

Overwhelmed yet?

What better time to watch The Story of Stuff and think about the consequences of consumerism. Yes, have a great holiday season. Yes, give gifts. But, don’t get caught up in buying something you don’t want and won’t ever use for the sake of a sale.

Holiday Open House

Holiday Open House Invitation

On Saturday November 24th we’ll be celebrating the holiday season in Orillia and everyone’s invited. Join us for apple cider, sweets, in-store specials, hourly giveaways and more!

Holiday Fun on Saturday November 24th:

  • Extended store hours! The fun starts at 10am until 6pm.
  • Enjoy apple cider and sweets all day long.
  • Saturday-only savings on gifts they’ll remember. Unique ideas for that special someone (and little one!) on your list.
  • Door prizes drawn every hour on the hour starting at 11am!
  • Wee Piggies & Paws will be available to make a lasting memory of your little ones. Handprint or footprint ornament only $25!
  • Every gift purchase is entered to win a $100 Gift Certificate that we’ll be drawing for on Christmas Eve.
  • Bring a friend and you’ll both receive a special thank you gift.

Event will take place at bynature.ca, 5 Ontario Street, Orillia, Ontario. Store hours for this special Saturday Holiday Event are 10am until 6pm. Everyone is invited!

Any family that drops off a cloth diaper donation for our cloth diaper bank will receive a second entry into our contest to win a $100 Gift Certificate, drawn for on Christmas Eve. Learn more about our cloth diaper bank.

Questions? Please call the store at 705-325-0506, send us a message on Facebook, or email us.

We look forward to celebrating with you!

Raising Thankful Children

Child at Thanksgiving Dinner

When I see my children in unguarded moments thanking one another for the help or kindness they give one another, I am incredibly grateful myself to be able to live in a positive environment where the people most important to me genuinely care for one another.

I didn’t actually witness the specific moment I am thinking of. About a week ago, my children were both so tired and whiny that I asked how they had slept the night before.

“I slept OK,” my daughter told me, “but I didn’t get to sleep until late. J was sad and couldn’t sleep, so I read him stories.”

My poor, tired son just nodded. They didn’t want to wake me or my husband, so she took care of her brother as best she knew how. She did for him the thing that comforts her, and it worked. He had been so tired but sleepless that he was crying, and she calmed him with stories.

How can we ensure that our children are thankful? I don’t think we necessarily can, but I have a few ideas how we might best set the stage for our children’s genuine gratitude.

First Step in Gratitude Is Giving

Before we ask children to focus on what they get, we need to help them focus on giving. For example, I think that my daughter’s desire to give helps her to be a thankful person.

Learning to be thankful is easier if we understand the flow of give and thanks from both directions: as the person who is thankful and the child who experiences others’ thanks for what they have done.

Awareness of Choice

Another important key to being thankful is understanding that others don’t have to give what they do. They choose to give.

If a person feel entitled to what they get, to what others do for them, they don’t necessarily see actions as gifts freely given. To raise a thankful child, help them recognize the choice in giving. Make sure that neither side of the equation—the giving or the thanks—is forced. If they truly understand their own choice in giving, they may be better able to understand that others also give by choice.

Receiving Specific Thanks Feels Good

When a child has experience in giving, they are more likely to know that doing good for others, even giving the smallest kindness, feels good. When someone thanks them for doing good, they get a positive feeling from the giving and the receiving.

A child can begin to see that they have a gift to give with their own thanks. Giving thanks is the gift of acknowledgment.

Model Thanks

If you model the thankful behavior you want to see in your children, they will develop a positive focus on giving and receiving.

Give them opportunities to say that they are thankful. Participate in rituals of gratitude. These could be as simple as going around the table at Thanksgiving and recognizing what each person is thankful for in their life, in the harvest, in their caring circle of family and friends, or on any level. The habit of stopping to recognize what one is thankful for can become ingrained.

Being thankful isn’t necessarily a comparison with others, as in “I’m thankful that we have a bountiful harvest this year because not everyone does.” Statements of thanks are more meaningful when they acknowledge the giving of others, as in “I’m thankful for the corn and potatoes on the table in front of us because my mother carefully tended them in the garden this year.” The more they are exposed to the specific and genuine acknowledgments for what they do, they more likely they will acknowledge and give thanks to others.

It’s the Giving

Raise thankful children by helping them focus on giving, both giving kindness and giving thanks for the kindness of others. When this kind of positive giving becomes a habit, there won’t really be so much distinction between the give and take since it can all be framed as giving.

In anticipation of next week, we wish all of our Canadian readers a very happy and bountiful Thanksgiving.

Image © Dmitriy Shironosov | Dreamstime.com

Children’s Celebrations of Spring

Child picking spring flowers

Do you celebrate spring with your children? My kids are so excited to have the occasional gust of warm air that they are wearing shorts and short sleeves and shivering whenever the temperature goes above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. My children are ready to celebrate spring.

Despite the snowflakes I saw today, my flowers have certainly embraced spring as I see little purple faces peeking through the dirt all over.

Seasons Tree

The Creative Family book cover

When my children were very young, we always had a seasons tree to decorate as seasons changed. For spring, we blew eggs out of their shells and colored them to hang on the tree. When we moved to the desert, we started using carefully pruned tumbleweeds as our seasons tree! In the past couple of years, we have decorated the tree in our yard with colorful fabric scraps, which the magpies love to steal thread by thread.

A Seasons Tree is one of the suggestions Amanda Blake Soule makes in The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections.

The Seasons Tree is a perfect place to display your dyed, painted, and decorated eggs. Just glue a bit of ribbon, string, or fishing wire to the top of each egg, creating a loop for hanging on the branch (p133).

She also suggests bringing in some of those signs of spring to decorate your nature table: a budding leaf, growing wheatgrass, and a green play silk.

Birthdays and holidays are opportunities to acknowledge the spiraling of time and connect with the people we want to share our time. Whatever way you celebrate spring with your children, help them pause, breathe in the newly warmed air, and mark the rebirth of nature.

More Spring Celebration Ideas

More from The Creative Family

Image © Frolov Andrey | Dreamstime.com

Natural Egg Dyes

Natural Egg Dyes

If you are preparing for Spring holidays, chances are you will be dying eggs with your children. I’m always hesitant to you commercial egg dyes. If you are looking for more natural solutions as well, simple natural dyes can give you beautiful, subtle pastel colors of Spring.

Why Eggs in Spring?

Before commercial egg laying, Spring was the time for a chicken to lay the most eggs. They need a certain amount of sunlight per day, and they would anticipate enough time in the year to raise chicks to survive the next winter. The presence of eggs from birds of all kinds was a sign of spring. It makes sense that this and other signs of new life have been adopted to symbolize the season with the world begins to warm and wake from winter.

The subtlety of natural dyes on spring eggs makes a nice contrast to the bright colors of petrochem dyes. Natural dyes also give you and your children a chance to experiment and play in creating your spring decorations.

Basic Preparation

  • Eggs
  • Vinegar
  • Dye stuffs
  • Saucepan(s)
  • Glass jars (so your child can see the eggs taking on the color)
  • Slotted spoon
  • Tray for drying (egg carton will work, but I don’t like the smudges it can make. I like a wire rack)

If using Cool Dip method, hard boil the eggs.

White eggs show subtle colors better, but brown eggs still make nice, earthy colors.

Whether cooked or raw, clean the eggs in slightly soapy water to remove any oils or anything else that could resist color.

Dry thoroughly.

Two methods

Hot Method for more intense, sometimes mottled colors

  • Put one layer of uncooked eggs into a pan. Be careful not to crack the shells or you will dye your hard-boiled eggs as well as the shells, and you will just break your uncooked eggs.
  • Add enough water to cover eggs plus ½”.
  • Add 1 teaspoon – 2 tablespoons of vinegar. 1 Tbs works for nearly all dyes (see below).
  • Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer.
  • Simmer 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove eggs from pan with a slotted spoon.

If colors aren’t dark enough yet, put eggs and dye liquid in the refrigerator overnight.

If you leave an egg in vinegar long enough, the shell will dissolve. Don’t leave the eggs sitting in dye longer than overnight.

Cool Dip Method for lighter, smoother colors with pre-boiled eggs

  • Add 3-4 cups of water to a saucepan.
  • Add your dye stuffs.
  • Boil the dye for 30 minutes.
  • Cool dye (it doesn’t have to be cool but at least take the dye off the heat before adding hard-boiled eggs).
  • Add 2-3 teaspoons of vinegar.
  • Put dye in a clear jar for easy viewing.
  • Carefully lower hard-boiled eggs into dye with a slotted spoon.
  • Leave at least 30 minutes, though you can leave the eggs overnight.


Use 1-4 cups of vegetable stuffs or 1-2 tablespoons spices.

Yellow – Turmeric
Gold/Orange – Onion Skins (vinegar moves the color toward brown)
Pink - grated Beets, crushed fresh Cranberries, canned Cherries
Purple - Grape Juice
Blue – Red Cabbage (boil 30 minutes before adding eggs)
Green – Spinach
Brown – Coffee, Black Tea

Combine for other colors. Red Cabbage plus Turmeric, for example, make green.


Use a clear, white, or light crayon to create resist patterns. Exciting for a child just learning to write her name. Useful for making dyed eggs look like natural, speckled eggs. For an older child up for a challenge, show him pysanky (Ukrainian egg decorating) for inspiration.

User rubber bands to create simple stripes. This is a striking effect and easy to do with children.

Keep Track

This is a great opportunity for your child to learn some of the art and science behind dyes. Have them come up with a hypothesis then test it with the dyes. Does red cabbage, for example, make red dye? (It doesn’t. It makes blue dye.)

If you are going to experiment with dyes from your own garden or from your local area, you might want to keep track of the recipes whose results you most like.

What dye stuffs did I use?
What method did I use?
What was my recipe?
How long did leave the egg?
Did a different length of time result in a different color?
What do I think of the results?
Add a photo if you can.

Next year, add to your egg dye recipe book.

Throughout March we will offer guides to getting started with some of the basic practices of attachment parenting and sustainable living. This is Spring Week with ideas, crafts, and recipes.

Image © Darryl Brooks | Dreamstime.com