a little batty :: tutorial


Okay... so yesterday I tantalized you with hints of a tutorial involving knitting and peg dolls.  This is not *that* tutorial, however, I think you might like this one as well.  Halloween is less than two weeks away. Are you ready to go a little batty?

Peg dolls (any size, your choice)
Black paint (I usually use watercolors, but for this project I used acrylics)
Red paint (for the mouths)
Black felt
PVA or other white craft glue
Fabric scissors
Thin wire (optional)

 STEP 1: Paint your peg dolls, leaving room to add faces.

 STEP 2: Add faces.

 STEP 3: Cut ears and wings from black felt.

STEP 4: (optional) If you would like your bats to be able to hang upside down, cut approx. 4 inches (10 cm) thin wire (I used floral wire, colored black with a Sharpie).  Fold the wire in a "U" shape and glue the bend of the "U" beneath the wings as depicted above.

STEP 5: Glue the wings to the backs & the ears to the backs of the heads of your dolls.


 Q: What did one bat say to another?
A: Let's hang around together!

Happy (almost) Halloween...


owl making workshop (and other stuff)

I'm back!  Sorry I've been not quite present, but I haven't forgotten about you.  Somewhat crazy here since the start of school, and then last week my older son received a coveted spot at a local charter school (big surprise as he'd been on the waiting list for over 4 years), so it feels like the start of school all over again...

But you'd probably rather hear about the owl making workshop... It will occur on October 25th at the Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore in Fair Oaks, CA.  After the owl making workshop (for ages 10 and up), there will also be an opportunity for anyone and everyone of all ages to enjoy peg doll crafting.  For more information you can have a look here.  (note: the design of the above owl is based on illustrations from the book Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel... love, love, love this book.)

Besides getting ready for the workshop, my darling husband and I are in post-production for two animated book trailers for the new book.  Post-production is a fancy way of saying that he and I sit in front of the computer fussing over stop-motion clips and still shots. I order him around, insisting, "That zoom was too slow!" or "That fade was too fast!"  and then I get up and make cups of tea while he fusses some more.  The end result, however, should be worth it; I hope you will think so, too.

And besides all that, I have been working on a knitting tutorial which I think is even cuter than the hedgehog patterns I posted last year. Cuter than the hedgehog patterns?  Is this possible?  Yes, I think so, because this new pattern involves knitting and peg dolls (!!)  What could be cuter than that?

On that note, I will leave you in anticipation and promise to be back as soon as possible!




How does my son's orchestra teacher keep things interesting? She shows the class YouTube videos like this. (Gracious -- I thought those cello players were going to break every horsehair on their bows...)


Tashlikh 5775

Shana Tova...

If you would like to read more about our observance of Tashlikh in years past, you can click here and here; and if you are curious about the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, you can have a look here.


welcoming autumn

The latest peg doll fashion...

Leafy acorn caps.

Welcome autumn!


inspiration: mary blair

from The New Golden Song Book
Occasionally I am asked about artistic influences for my peg doll designs. Certainly I'm inspired by lovely traditional Waldorf designs and also by figures from Wendt und Kuehn; however I never felt those sources completely captured what has influenced me most.  I couldn't put my finger on where my inspiration was truly coming from until last March when I saw a newspaper article about a museum exhibit of work by Mary Blair.  Suddenly, it clicked, and I knew, on a deeper level, where much of my inspiration lies.

from The Golden Book of Little Verses

The answer was the art and work of Mary Blair. 

Mary Blair was one of the chief designers on the ride It's a Small World at Disneyland.  She also designed murals for the Disneyland Parks, illustrated children's books and created endless sketches which influenced the colors, tone and overall aesthetic of Disney's animated movies through the 1940's & 50's.

I grew up in Los Angeles, and so visits to Disneyland were an exciting part of my childhood.  My favorite ride has always been It's a Small World, and I remember, as a child, admiring the murals Mary Blair designed.  Sadly, those murals at Disneyland are now gone but Mary Blair's design influence remains). 

Even at home, I had books and albums of music with artwork by Mary Blair.

design sketch for Johnny Appleseed

If you'd like to read more about the design of It's a Small World you can have a look here.

design sketch for Cinderella

And to learn more about Mary Blair, this is a good place to start...


three parcels

This afternoon, just as I was settling my little one down for an afternoon sleep, there was a very loud knock at the door.  I marched downstairs, opened the door (feeling irritated) and asked the delivery man whether he needed my signature.  No -- he said he would leave the three parcels on my doorstep.  Fine.  Thank you.  Good-bye.

After little one was settled to sleep, I went back downstairs and opened the door to discover three very large, securely wrapped parcels.  Until I carefully examined the labels I was feeling perplexed, and then... with shaking hands, I attacked one of the parcels with a pair of scissors, got it open as quickly as possible and did a little happy dance!  I wasn't expecting to receive parcels like these for at least another 3 weeks.

Look! Here's the cover...

The title page...

And the back cover!

If you would like a copy for yourself, here's the scoop: The release date for the UK is December 1st, but, for the rest of the world, release dates are still uncertain (early 2015 is the latest projection).  This might seem like bad news for anyone outside the UK, however the silver lining is this: Book Depository, UK, offers free delivery world wide.  If you would like to have a copy of my second book in December, you can pre-order here!

I hope to have more news and updates about the new book in the coming weeks, but for today, perhaps you will join me and do a little happy dance, too...


in the kitchen

The materials for my second book were mostly ready by March, but the editing, proofreading & fine-tooth-combing continued through July.  The final finishing work came only in fits and starts, but by the time all was said and done, I had a serious case of burnout.  This was reflected by my inability to function in the kitchen, and so, for several months, dinner options in my house consisted of pasta with boring-sauce, pizza, more pasta with boring sauce or take-out burritos.  However, a few weeks ago I got my kitchen-mojo back.  It all started with a tomato galette. Coming out of the oven, it looked impressive (despite my dodgy photo) and was lots of fun to make (a certain pre-schooler had a grand time helping me roll the dough for crust, spread the filling, sprinkle marjoram leaves and dot tomatoes over the filling);  however, despite the joy of making the galette, we did not like it much.  The soft ricotta cheese filling with sauteed leeks & marjoram was just not our "thing" (we would have been happier all around with a simple layer of melted Gruyere beneath the tomatoes).

Still, the galette was a kick-start, and I have since tried several other new recipes which are now favorites in my house. I am slightly obsessed with this salad and also this Basque pie (note: friends brought me smoked paprika from Spain, but I think you can get it on Amazon... don't skip the  smoked paprika!)  I have also been having success with a number of recipes from Budget Bytes: this one, this one, and this one, for example. And then there is this recipe which was posted on Orangette way back in June 2013 (don't skip any of the ingredients for this recipe either -- especially not the feta & pine nuts -- but do consider making half the recipe as the full recipe makes an absurd quantity of food).

Now that I've been flexing my muscles in the kitchen for the past few weeks, I wonder what I should make for supper tonight. (sigh. maybe we'll just get take-out from the local Burmese restaurant.)  Have you tried any new recipes lately which you'd recommend? 



Nearly a year ago I shared a trailer for Aaron Becker's first book titled Journey.  Now he has released a new book and it's as breathtaking as his first.


to the sea


I must go down to the sea again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
 (from Sea Fever by by John Masefield)

Hello! I can hardly believe it's been a month since I posted.  With my children off school I haven't had much time to myself, and even while my little one has been having his mid-day sleeps, I decided to set a good example for my big boy.  Instead of tapping away on the computer, I've spent my time flopped with him on the sofa immersed in books.

Now it's the end of August and today we had a last hurrah at the beach; we often visit this one because of the tide pools.  Plus I love the curious sea lions who swim as close at they dare, poking their heads out of the water to gaze at us with round, black eyes as we search for shy sculpins and admire scuttling hermit crabs (I'm convinced some of those sea lions are selkies).

Of course a day at the beach is always made better by the presence of friends.  Today we met up with my friend Caroline and her two boys -- and you should know that, besides being a wonderful person, Caroline has been an indispensable resource for me while working on my books.  I'm convinced that every craft book writer should have a friend like Caroline.  She has an amazing craft stash (white boucle yarn for tiny Nativity sheep?  Thanks Caroline!), and she's an excellent resource for ideas, skills & techniques.  Have I mentioned that she helps me test my patterns, too?  My books are better because of Caroline.

I hope you've had a wonderful summer with many good adventures, and if you are in the southern hemisphere, I wish you a wonderful spring!