booktrailer :: this is my dollhouse

If you've been visiting my blog over the past few years, you know how I feel about book trailers (didn't I just share a fantastic one with you last week? Why, yes I did!).  And this book trailer I'm sharing with you today is extra scrumptious because it's about doll houses (there are even instructions for making your own doll house inside the book jacket)!

If you're a new visitor to my blog, you may have missed a doll house tutorial I posted back in July 2015 (plus tutorials for furniture here and here).  And a mermaid dollhouse here!

This is my dollhouse. If you make one, too, I hope you will share it with me...


book trailer :: her right foot by dave eggers

I ran across a trailer for this book a few weeks ago and... wow.  I immediately checked out a copy from the library and found the book even more beautiful and powerful than revealed by the trailer.  As the grandchild of immigrants, the topic, for me, is poignant, and in light of the current political situation in the US, this book offers inspiration and hope.

In addition to the trailer, author Dave Eggers posted a letter to his readers on Amazon.  You can find the letter here (just scroll down a bit and you'll find it). 



Hello -- I'm back!  Have you given up on me? I hope not...

Because of family commitments things have been difficult and busy around here, but I have a number of things I'm looking forward to sharing with you.  Meanwhile... apples!

Apples seem to be late this year.  Every week for the past two months, I've stopped by the local farmer's markets and haven't found what I was looking for.  In early September there were Gravensteins, and then... Ho hum. Not much. Finally, last Saturday I bought those gorgeous Winesaps (in the photo at the top of this post) and Pink Ladies (above).  Pink Ladies are favorites of my little son because he thinks the name is funny, but as far as I'm concerned, the Winesaps and Pink Ladies are both fantastic and worth the wait.

Baking has ensued.  In September I made this apple cake (twice).  Note: I think substituting brown sugar for at least half the sugar called for in the recipe improves the flavor of cake, and instead of baking in a large tube-pan, you might consider (as I did) splitting the batter into two 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake pans.  Next on the list is apple crisp; I cannot find my usual recipe, but this one is similar.  And applesauce. I use Judy Rodgers recipe for roasted applesauce, substituting honey for the sugar.  It's divine.

Can you believe tomorrow is Halloween?  For some reason (I have yet to uncover) my little one insists he doesn't want to go trick-or-treating, but I'm hoping he will change his mind...


a gift

My mother's hair was straight.  Her eyes were brown. Her skin was olive.

My hair is curly.  My eyes are light green.  My skin is pale.

Because of this (and my leggy build), I always thought I favored my father's side of the family.  However, I've spent the past weeks looking through old photos, and suddenly saw what everyone else has been insisting all along;  I am nearly a mirror image of my mother.  I see her in the curve of my cheek, in the line of my chin and the bump on my nose.  I see her in the shape of my eyes and the arc of my lips.

And this is a final gift.  Every time I look in the mirror, I see my mother.

my mother


In 2011 my mother was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer.  We were blessed to have her with us for 6 more years.  Now, for the past three weeks, we have been steadily caring for her and did our best to bring her to peace.

Kel Maleh Rachamim
God, full of mercy, Who dwells above, give rest on the wings of your Divine Presence, amongst the holy who shine like the sky, to the soul of my mother... O Merciful One, please shelter her forever under the wings of Thy presence.  Amen.


book review :: journal sparks

FTC Compliant Disclosure:  I was sent a copy of this book by Storey Publishing Co. to facilitate a review, however, all opinions expressed below are entirely my own.

Nearly 5 years ago Emily Neuburger came out with her first book, Show me a Story.  This book was utterly delightful, so you can imagine how excited I was to hear that Emily had written a new book: Journal Sparks.


These small images I was able to download from Storey Publishing in no way do this book justice.  It's jam-packed full of colorful, whimsical inspiration for "No-Rules Journaling." There are ideas for word-play, color-play, mixed media collage and fanciful imaginings.

In addition to the rainbow-buffet of ideas Emily lays on the table, this volume also contains instructions for building your own journal (instead of buying pre-fabricated notebooks), plus there are contributions from other authors/artists who bring yet more ideas and inspiration.

As I paged through this book, I thought to myself how perfect Journal Sparks would be for any teenage or adult journaling-enthusiast...


And for younger children, too... The moment my 6-year old lay eyes on the book, he claimed it as his own.

We started off constructing tiny journals out of printer-paper, which my little one immediately filled with washi-tape, rubber-stamps and pencil-doodles.  So we quickly upgraded to THESE lovely spiral-bound, watercolor paper journals.

"Hope" is the thing with feathers... (Emily Dickinson)

And here's where I admit to you that I am not a journaling-enthusiast.  I haven't kept any sort of journal since my years at university, but Emily's Journal Sparks brought back to me the memory of my favorite sort of journal: the florilegium.  Florilegia is a Medieval Latin term describing books in which are written small extracts from other works; in my own little florilegium, I scribbled favorite quotes and short passages.

I am blinded by the glare of all the silver linings. (Elizabeth Cohen)

I'm having so much fun adding watercolor and collage illustrations to my favorite quotes, and am grateful to Emily for inspiring my return to this journaling tradition.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone who loves to journal, for anyone who loves to create mixed media art, for anyone who loves to doodle and for anyone who thinks they cannot do any of these things but might like to give it go!


hans my hedgehog :: en español!

Este patrón es la traducción al español del original “Hans My Hedgehog”:

Nos complacería que compartieras tus erizos en Ravelry. ¡Gracias! 

-- Dos tonos de la gama tierra (oscuro para el cuerpo, más claro para la cabeza) de una lana DK o Worsted (grosor medio). La cantidad dependerá de la tensión utilizada, yo usé aproximadamente 20 gr. de Drops Alaska para el erizo grande.

-- Un poco de fieltro marrón para las orejas

-- Unos 50cm de hilo de algodón para los ojos. También podrías usar pequeños botones o abalorios negros.

Utilizar una medida ligeramente inferior a lo que la lana requiere para que no se vea el relleno, en este caso la lana requiere una aguja 3.5 - 4mm (US 4 – 6) y utilizamos una de 3.25mm (US 3). El patrón se trabaja en plano y se cose al final. 

PD: Punto derecho  
2PR: 2 puntos revés
PR: Punto revés  
2PDj: 2 puntos derechos juntos
2PD : 2 puntos derechos 
2PRj: 2 puntos revés juntos

Punto de arroz
Trabajar las hileras como sigue: 
1ª h y todas las del derecho: *1 PD, 1 PR*; repetir de *a* hasta el final.

2ª h y todas las del revés: contrariando los puntos, es decir, *1 PR, 1 PD*; repetir de *a* hasta el final.

Es decir, se teje del revés en los PD y del derecho en los PR

Punto jersey
Alternar hileras de punto derecho y punto revés.

Erizo grande (aproximadamente 9cm de longitud)
Montar 24 puntos utilizando la lana de tono más oscuro para tejer el cuerpo del erizo.
Hileras 1 a 18: Punto de arroz : alternar una hilera *pd, pr* (repetir de *a* hasta el final) con una hilera de *pr, pd* (repetir de *a* hasta el final)
Hilera 19: Cambiar a la lana en tono más claro y *2PD, 2PDj* (repetir de *a* hasta el final) (18 puntos)
Hilera 20: PR
Hilera 21: *2PD, 2PDj* (repetir de *a* hasta el final) (14 puntos)
Hilera 22: PR
Hilera 23: *2PD, 2PDj* (repetir de *a* hasta el final)
Hilera 24: PR
Hilera 25: 2PDj toda la hilera (6 puntos)
Hilera 26: PR
Hilera 27: 2PDj toda la hilera, usando una aguja de tapicería, pasar la hebra por los 3 puntos restantes para cerrarlos.

Utilizando la hebra de color más claro, unir las dos mitades del hocico del erizo entre si y entretejer el cabo. Utilizando la hebra de color más oscuro que parte desde el punto donde se une el cuerpo al hocico, unir las dos mitades del cuerpo entre sí y entretejer el cabo.

Rellenar el erizo, pero que no quede demasiado “hinchado”. Utilizando la hebra sobrante del montaje de puntos, cerrar el cuerpo del erizo por la parte inferior con la aguja de tapicería (basta con pasar el hilo por la parte externa de cada punto, desde dentro hacia afuera) y entretejer el cabo.

Utilizando el hilo de algodón negro, decorar los ojos y el hocico. Si quieres que el hocico del erizo quede hacia arriba, hazlo con la costura del cuerpo mirando hacia arriba. 

Añade las orejas utilizando pequeños trozos redondeados de fieltro.

Erizo pequeño (aproximadamente 6cm de longitud)
Montar 16 puntos utilizando la lana de tono más oscuro para tejer el cuerpo del erizo.
Hileras 1 a 12: Punto de arroz : alternar una hilera *pd, pr* (repetir de *a* hasta el final) con una hilera de *pr, pd* (repetir de *a* hasta el final )
Hilera 13: Cambiar a la lana en tono más claro y *2PD, 2PDj* (repetir de *a* hasta el final) (12 puntos)
Hilera 14: PR
Hilera 15: *2PD, 2PDj* (repetir de *a* hasta el final) (9 puntos)
Hilera 16: PR
Hilera 17: 2PDj 2 veces, PD, 2PDj 2 veces
Hilera 18: 2PRj, 1PR, 2PRj

Usando una aguja de tapicería, pasar la hebra por los 3 puntos restantes para cerrarlos.

Ver instrucciones del erizo grande para el acabado.

Muchas gracias a "lokeando" (de Ravelry) por la traducción!


creative form drawing

After school, while I prepare something for my younger son to eat, he usually rummages for a book to read or some art supplies.  Lately his favorite activity involves crayons and the book Creative Form Drawing (Workbook 1) by Angela Lord.   In fact, he likes this book so much, it has taken up permanent residence on the kitchen table.

The book is broken down into lessons by age, with a gorgeous array of colorful drawings to illustrate the forms and principles.  Each lesson is methodically outlined by age/grade level and very clear; however, my son and I prefer to leaf through the book, choose a page of designs which appeal to us at that moment, and use the illustrations as inspirational launching points for our own kaleidoscope experiments.

While coloring books are a popular trend, the designs in this book take the user beyond mere coloring projects; with this book, my son & I feel encouraged to try our own original variations of each form. 

For our drawings, we adore the beeswax aroma of Stockmar crayons, however, our box of  regular crayons is too irresistible to leave on the shelf.  My son's favorite color is called "macaroni and cheese," while I keep coming back to the colors "tickle me pink," "dandelion," "wisteria" and "purple mountain majesty."

We might not bother to wait until he's 10 to get a copy of Workbook 2...


paper dolls

We have been big fans of The Paper Princess by Elisa Kleven for many years...

And recently this sweet book came across our radar (The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson).

Our own paper doll adventures ensued...


peg doll skipping rope

There is this thing which sometimes happens to me.  A friend casually says, "Have you ever thought of making Halloween bats?"  "Pilgrims?"  "Turkeys?!"  "A doll house and furniture for peg dolls?" "A mermaid grotto?"  "Sushi!"  "Wouldn't that be cute?"  My immediate response is to put my hands over my ears and shout, "NO NO NO! Why did you say that!!? I don't have time for this project right now!!!" Then I say words which are not suitable for reprint here on my blog.  Because, inevitably, the idea gets stuck in my head and I will not rest until the concept is brought to life.

And so it was that, a few weeks ago, my friend Heather said, "How about a jump rope with peg doll handles?!"  I muttered some rude words (not suitable for saying in front of children), but you know what happened next..

If you are inclined to make a peg doll jump rope for a very lucky child (or yourself), my tutorial for making skipping ropes can be found HERE.  And large size peg dolls are available for purchase HERE and HERE.

Thank you, Heather, for the truly lovely and wonderfully inspired idea!!  (Please let's set a date this summer for you to bring your girls over to make skipping rope handles, and we can all skip rope together...)


... and speaking of skipping ropes

Andy Spandy Sugardy Candy
French Almond Rock!
Bread and Butter for your Supper's
All Your Mother's GOT!

My son & I have been skipping rope and you can read about how we made our own skipping ropes HERE. Our new favorite book is Elsie Piddock Skips in her Sleep by Eleanor Farjeon, because what could be more delightful than a story about a little girl who skips rope with the fairies? We love the rhyme Elsie Piddock sings about Andy Spandy -- did you know that Andy Spandy is the Fairy Skipping-Master? Plus, in the story, there is another special skipping song taught to Elsie by the fairies...

And then a few weeks ago I came across another magical book about skipping rope... The Fox Wish by Kimiko Aman.

What were your favorite skipping rope rhymes as a child?  I'd love to know about them in any comments you'd care to leave below!


tutorial :: skipping rope

I'm always trying to think of new ways for my bouncy boy to spend time outdoors, and our new favorite activity is skipping rope.  I searched online to buy a jump rope for each of us, and wasn't excited by what I saw, so decided it would be fun to make our own.

I was able to find most of the supplies for these skipping ropes in our garage, and picked up a few other odds & ends (such as the claw clasp swivel clips) from a local hardware store.  Our skipping ropes turned out so lovely that I'm thinking of making a few extra as birthday gifts for friends.

-- an old broomstick or a 1 in. (2 cm) diameter dowel
-- braided cotton clothesline, 9-10 ft. (3 m) per jump rope
-- split metal key rings
-- swivel eye snap hooks (or claw clasp swivel clips)
    (you can buy sets of snap hooks + key rings HERE)
-- 1 1/8 in. (2.9 cm) eye screws
-- a pencil
-- small handsaw
-- hand drill
-- clamp to hold wood
-- sand paper
-- paint + paint brush
-- beeswax wood polish (optional)

STEP 1 :: Use a pencil to mark off 7 in. (18 cm) lengths on your old broom handle or dowel. Clamp your broomstick/dowel to a work bench or sawhorse and use a small handsaw to cut 7 in. (18 cm) pieces of wood.

STEP 2 :: Secure dowel pieces with a clamp, and drill small holes into one end of each piece (see photos below).

STEP 3 :: Use sand paper to smooth the ends of the dowel pieces, and if you've used an old broom stick, you can also apply the sandpaper to smooth the weathered exterior of the wood.

 STEP 4 :: Twist eye screws into the ends of your dowel pieces where you drilled the small holes.

STEP 5 :: Paint your dowels any pretty color your heart desires.  If you use watercolors to paint the dowels, you might want to rub them with beeswax polish once the paint is dry.  My recipe for beeswax polish can be found HERE.

 STEP 6 :: Add split metal key rings to the eye screws at the ends of your dowels.

NOTE :: We found that, if we just used the split metal key rings between the eye screws & ropes, the ropes would sometimes twirl up the handles as we jumped.   Adding swivel eye snap hooks (also called lobster/claw clasp swivel clips) prevented this problem. The skipping rope will work without the swivel clips, but if you have a problem with the rope getting wound up the handles, you might want to pick up a few swivel clips at the hardware store.  You can also order swivel clips (sold as a set along with split metal key rings) HERE.

STEP 7 :: Now it's time to add rope to your wooden handles!  I was surprised to discover that it's easier to skip with a rope which seems much too long.  Originally, I cut 8 1/2 feet of rope for my son. After allowing 6 in. at either end for knots, the length of the rope between his handles was approx. 7 1/2 feet long; however he kept complaining that it was too short.  I finally cut a new piece of rope for him which measured 9 feet (again, allowing 6 in. on either side for knotting).  I think my rope measured 10 or 10 1/2 ft. before knotting.  And never mind if you cut your rope too long and then need to shorten it; it's better to start with a longer rope and trim it down then to cut it too short to begin with.

If the ends of your rope begin to fray, you can wrap a small piece of cellophane sticky tape around the tips.

Here are a few traditional jump rope rhymes to get you started:

Down by the river,
Down by the sea.
Mama went fishing
With Papa & me.
How many fish did Mama get?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7...

Bubblegum, bubblegum, in a dish
How many pieces do you wish?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7...

What shall I name my little pup?
I'll have to think a good one up.
A, B, C, D, E, F, G...
(when the jumper misses, make up a 
name beginning with that letter.)

ABC's and vegetable goop.
What will I find in my alphabet soup?
 A, B, C, D, E, F, G...
(when the jumper misses, make up 
something silly beginning with that letter)

Mabel, Mabel set the table,
Just as fast as you are able.
Don't forget the salt, sugar, vinegar, mustard,

Mama sent me to the store.
This is what she sent me for:
To get some coffee, tea & RED HOT PEPPER!
(note: after saying the word PEPPER, the jumper 
speeds up the rope and jumps as fast as possible!)