tutorial :: garden stepping stones

Years ago, when we first bought our house, I made stepping stones for the garden. The old stones are mossy & weathered, and when I told my children I had made them, they decided they wanted to make some, too.  So, a few weeks ago I gathered supplies, invited over a friend of my older son and we got to work.

An assortment of glass tiles & flattened glass marbles
Clear vinyl pot saucers (we used these)
A bag of cement
A bucket for mixing cement
Rubber gloves and some cleaning rags

STEP 1 :: Scoop several cups of cement into your bucket. Add water and stir. For best results, put on rubber gloves and mix by hand.  Keep adding small amounts of water or cement as needed until the cement is the approximate consistency of thick cake batter.

STEP 2 ::  Scoop cement into your clear vinyl pot saucers until 1 cm below the brim.

STEP 3 ::  Have children add tiles & marbles, etc... to decorate.  Be sure the items are pressed in firmly with the edges slightly submerged or the items might fall out once the cement is dry.

STEP 4 ::  Once the design is completed, use a damp rag to gently wipe any cement smudges off the tops of the tiles and marbles.

STEP 5 ::  Allow to dry several days, remove from the molds and find homes for your beautiful stepping stones in the garden.


tutorial :: a heart welcome-mat

Hello!  Today I thought I'd draw your attention to one of my favorite tutorials from several years back.  Every time I cross the threshold of my house, I am reminded of how much I enjoyed making this super-easy doormat.  However, the doormat I made 4 years ago was looking tired, so a few weeks ago I made a new one, and this time, instead of being strapped into a baby swing, my little guy was able to lend a hand. You can find the tutorial here.  If you try this project, let me know how it turns out (wouldn't it make a nice housewarming gift?)

What's currently by your front door to welcome family & friends?


bloom boys

It's been a while since I've written a proper blog post -- not just posted photos, but written actual paragraphs.  There have been some fluctuations in the land of Bloom so it feels like a good time to chatter. Here goes...

Do you ever read the acknowledgement sections at ends of books?  I always read them because I'm curious whom the author will thank and how they will thank them.  I'm not sure when my curiosity about author's acknowledgements started -- was it before or after I had written an acknowledgement section of my own?  At any rate, have you ever taken a look at the acknowledgement section in my first book?  The first person I thank is my younger son.  Why?  I never could have written that book unless he was a prodigious sleeper: 10-11 hours every night and 3 hours every afternoon. It was during those hours in the afternoon when I got most of my work done... but guess who stopped sleeping in the afternoon 3 months ago? Of course it was bound to happen, but now I'm sorely missing time for focused work and feel like I haven't had two consecutive moments in which to string together a coherent thought.  Meanwhile, my afternoons (and kitchen table) are filled with endless perler beads (glow-in-the-dark), pony beads (glow-in-the-dark), sculpy clay (glow-in-the-dark!), Spirograph (we have this set and this set), water colors, plus crayons and other drawing implements of every sort.  Even the occasional peg doll has been painted, however I still haven't finished the proposal for book number 3... sigh. 

Besides our fun afternoons, the upside is we are now able to undertake more ambitious adventures. My little one was the sort of child who really needed his daytime sleep, and needed to sleep at home, which was very limiting.  All adventures ended at 1:00 promptly, or a certain small person fell to pieces.  As soon as this was no longer the case we were off and running, and what an amazing spring break we had! After 4+ years staying close to home, I've still barely recovered from our spring break adventures here & here.

All to say, I know how much you love tutorials (as much as I love creating and posting them, I suspect).  I'm feeling a bit forlorn that I haven't been able to post any really nice ones lately, but perhaps you can bear with me until the autumn when my little one starts kindergarten (!)

As inevitable as it was that my pre-schooler would stop napping during the day, so was it inevitable that the shoe-size of my older son would suddenly surpass my own. I had inklings of this in late fall when he out-grew a new pair of shoes after just a few weeks.  And now he has grown 2 inches in height and increased 2 shoe sizes over the past two months. Yikes.  I can no longer rest my chin on the top of his mopsy head and, at the rate he's going, I wonder whether he will be taller than I am by end of summer. (He is currently 5'2". I am slightly over 5'6".)  Inevitable, of course, but still shocking when it happens...

I hope all is well with you and yours.  Please do say hello and send me your own updates if you're so inclined. I always love hearing from you.


we had fun

This is where we've been the past few days. We had fun. Okay... serious understatement. We had A LOT of fun!


road trip

My boys and I just returned from a 2 day road-trip visiting dear friends -- so dear we would travel even to the moon to visit them. Luckily, they don't live as far away as the moon -- they live in Sebastapol (where my big boy ate the best grilled cheese sandwich. ever.)


what is dance

Christian Robinson, the illustrator of this book, this book, this book, this book (and quite a few others) will be giving a presentation at my older son's school this week. Do you think anyone would notice if I sneaked in to have a look & listen, too?

If you would like to learn more about Christian Robinson, you can visit his website The Art of Fun. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy these marvelous animations he created. 


sparkle stories kickstarter campaign!

Do you know about Sparkle Stories

Sparkle Stories produces original audio stories for children and families around the world. Their stories are simple, delightful and filled with a sense of wonder - they inspire children to play, to marvel, to laugh, and to be kind. You can subscribe to any of their twelve original Story Series and hear new stories each Friday, try one of their many Audio Books, or sample a free story on the Sparkle iTunes Podcast! (My family's favorites are So Many Fairies and Saturday Sparkle... How about you? Do you have a favorite series?)

Now for the big news... They just launched a Kickstarter Campaign to build a much needed Story App and I really want them to succeed.

I hope you will join me in supporting the Sparkle Stories Kickstarter Campaign. If you participate in their Kickstarter Campaign they have many wonderful rewards.  To start, for $2 or more you can enjoy a free story -- and you'll be helping Sparkle bring their stories to more and more families! You'll also be making the world a better place, as they are changing the face of children's media, by creating kinder, gentler stories for children.

To learn more about the campaign and watch their delightful Kickstarter video you can click HERE (and if you first want to start off by browsing the Sparkle Stories website, you can click HERE).

Thank you to David and Lisabeth for bringing Sparkle Stories to the world, and thank you, dear readers, for helping David and Lisabeth build their Story App! (Did you miss the link?  Click HERE to learn more...)


april 1st announcement

The cover of my new book!

p.s. happy april 1st...


for the birds

At the start of the month, I peeked inside the three bird houses in our garden to make sure they were dry and in good shape for springtime nesting.  Last week, I still hadn't noticed any nesting-action so I decided to sweeten the deal by filling up our birdfeeders and decorating the trees with some festive nesting materials.

I remembered seeing this blog post in 2010 and thought it was a nice idea to wrap tree branches with wool roving, so my little one & I started our project by heading to the garden for a suitable fallen branch.  I set out the materials on the kitchen table and my little one was able to secure wool to the branch on his own.

After that, we went back outside and I tied the decorated branch to a tree. But it seems my helper wasn't finished yet...

He had the clever idea of tucking bits of roving and short lengths of wool yarn into the crevices of a few pine cones.

What I loved most is that I was able to give my son the materials and, with minimal guidance & assistance from me, he was able complete both these projects.

After he was done snipping bits of yarn and tucking everything into place, we went back outside and hung the pine cones near our decorated branch.

But it seems my helper still wasn't finished...

"What about making peanut butter pine cones?" he asked.  So we hunted down more pine cones and I set him back at the table with a butter knife, a bowl of peanut butter and a small bowl of seeds.

Another project which required minimal assistance from me...

We've been having fun watching the birds and squirrels eating the seeds and taking bits of wool. The naughty squirrels like chewing (and stealing) the yarn which ties the wool-wrapped pine cones to the tree, so every few days we hear the pine cones come crashing down onto the front porch, and last night some naughty squirrels stole the seeded pine cones, but we don't mind...  Do you have any favorite springtime bird-projects?


song of the sea

We watched this movie last night.  It is sweet, sad, and heart-warming in all the right ways.  Plus the artwork & design is mesmerizing, and the interwoven Irish folklore gives the story an intriguing layer of mystery and depth.  Definitely recommend this for anyone age 6 and up (the more melancholy and tension fraught moments provoked some anxiety in my 4 year old).

If you really love this, another great movie based on selkie folklore is The Secret of Roan Innish.