31.3.15

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 little 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 little helper still wasn't finished yet...


"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?

A note to Ginny S:  I have been receiving your email communications, however, you don't seem to be getting my (multiple) prompt responses!  Perhaps check your spam folder?  

23.3.15

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.

17.3.15

what a wonderful bird the frog are!

What a wonderful bird the frog are!
When he stands he sit almost;
When he hop he fly almost.
He ain't got no sense hardly;
He ain't got no tail hardly either.
When he sit, he sits on what he ain't got almost.
-- Anonymous


It has not been much fun in the land of Bloom for fully the past month.  While things have been perking along merrily here on the blog, Mr. Bloom has been dealing with a case of shingles (we like to say, euphemistically, that he needs to be re-roofed), and on top of that, for the past two weeks Mr. Bloom and I have both had a mysterious complaint leaving us feverish and queasy (a tenacious GI bug, says the MD).  It was enough to put the kabosh on not one but two birthday celebrations (mine and Mr. Bloom's). The cake I baked was carefully wrapped & stashed in the freezer before nary a candle could be lit, and I'm so tired of eating boiled potatoes in broth, rice in broth, noodles in broth and toast (with a side of broth) that I could scream. Yep. We've been a barrel of laughs. One thing to be thankful for -- our children have remained healthy (so I'm not complaining... really!)


Yesterday, in the midst of a feverish haze, I decided we needed some levity & amusement, so I dragged my sewing machine up from the garage, plopped it on the kitchen table and sewed up some silly frogs from this pattern at Purl.  The project was just my speed. And what I love best is that these guys remind me of beanbag frogs from my childhood. I would see them flopping around the houses of friends sewn from the most outrageous paisley fabrics, slightly bizarre and perversely appealing. I coveted them dearly.


I used some Forest Hills from Anna Maria Horner's Folksy Flannel collection, plus plain green flannel and a scrap of calico all from from my stash... but honestly, these frogs would look good sewn from just about anything (even ghastly purple and brown paisleys, I do believe).


The Frog
Be kind and tender to the Frog,
And do not call him names,
As “Slimy skin,” or “Polly-wog,”
Or likewise “Ugly James,”
Or “Gap-a-grin,” or “Toad-gone-wrong,”
Or “Bill Bandy-knees”:
The Frog is justly sensitive
To epithets like these.

No animal will more repay
A treatment kind and fair,
At least so lonely people say
Who keep a frog (and by the way,
they are extremely rare).
--Hillaire Belloc

12.3.15

making peg dolls at tweedle + toots



This Saturday there will be an event at Tweedle + Toots in Burlingame, CA.  Details below:

A Parent + Child Workshop
Saturday, March 14

Margaret Bloom, author of Making Peg Dolls and Making Peg Dolls and More, will show you and your child how to create your very own sweet peg dolls. Purchase a $5 starter set (includes 2 pegs and 4 sheets of decorative paper), and you're ready to go!

11:00 - 11:30 : Making Session 1
11:30 : Storytelling Presentation
12:00 - 12:30 : Making Session 2

We'll also have copies of Making Peg Dolls available for purchase. Let us know if you're coming (RSVP is not required, but is always welcome)!


Tweedle + Toots
277 Primrose Rd
Burlingame, CA  94010
(650) 344-9729

Hope to see you there!

10.3.15

felt wee folk :: blog tour



Today I am excited and honored to be participating in the blog tour for Salley Mavor's new book Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures... And please read to the end of this post because there is a *give-away.*


So, let's talk about Salley's new book. I was expecting an update of the first edition of Felt Wee Folk, but the variety of doll designs in Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures goes far beyond the first book; in the new edition there are doll house families, wedding cake toppers, a nativity scene, nursery rhyme & storybook characters, plus a wide assortment of elfin folk and fairies. The array is enchanting.


And now I have an embarrassing confession to make.  I've owned a copy of the first edition of Wee Felt Folk for nearly four years. I regularly pulled it from the shelf to admire Salley's use of color, the intricacy of her embroidery, and the fanciful scenarios in which her dolls were posed.  I loved the book to bits, but had never made anything from it!  When Salley invited me to participate in her blog tour for the new edition, I knew it was time to get down to brass tacks and actually make a doll (or two) in the style of Salley Mavor!


After my embarrassing confession, I will say right up front that Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures is not just a book to look at -- it is a craft book to be used and loved. These little figures would, indeed, be perfect for a dollhouse family, a pocket friend for a child, or for anyone who would like to add a bit of charm and magic to their surroundings.  


Truly, the most difficult thing about this book was deciding which character(s) to create!  I was drawn to the fairies and elfin folk, but even then, there were so many choices.  I finally settled on creating a pair of elfin brothers, modeled after my own two boys, and narrowed my color choices down to tones of green with some brown embroidery.  Once these decisions were made, all I had to do was follow the clear, step-by-step directions from the book. (And an important note to anyone who might feel intimidated by delicate embroidery; these dolls could be made without any embroidered decorations to their clothing at all, and they would be just as sweet!!)

According to the directions, I used embroidery floss to wrap the wire bodies, and I am pleased to tell you that wrapping the little arms & legs was a much easier process than I had anticipated.  The bodies are quite tiny, so not only did wrapping the limbs require only a small amount of embroidery floss, the process of wrapping took almost no time at all.


Then I moved on to my favorite parts -- painting the faces and embroidering the clothing.


And here is the result -- two tiny elfin brothers!


Posing their wire bodies was a lot of fun, and their mischievous faces makes it appear that they will be up to some naughty pranks at any moment...


Now for details about the *give-away*: please leave a comment below for an opportunity to win a copy of Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures. And just for fun, in your comment, you can state which doll/ character you would choose to make first from this delightful book.  If the winner is a USA resident, they will receive a hard-copy, and if outside the USA, the winner will be sent an e-book version.  The winner will be chosen by random number generator after one week.  Good luck to all!

COMMENTS FOR THE GIVE-AWAY ARE NOW CLOSED.  Congratulations to Ginny who wrote, "Love how your little elfin guys came out.  I would make flower fairies to start. Have a request for fairies from the grands!"  Ginny, please email me your address so C&T can send you a book!


If you are too eager to wait for the results of the give-aways, you can purchase a signed copy of Salley's book here through her etsy shop (and with book purchases through her etsy shop, Salley will also include a poster, notecard and faux-flowers for fairy-making).  Additionally, books and all supplies for making dolls can be purchased at A Child's Dream (this craft basket includes a copy of the book and has everything you would need to make dozens of dolls). And, of course, Salley's book may also be purchased from Amazon.


Below is a list of blogs participating in the tour.  There will be a book give-away at each blog plus new insights and perspectives on Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures during the journey, so you might want to follow along. C&T publishing is generously supplying books for every stop during the blog tour -- hard copies for winners in USA and e-books for international winners!

March 3 :: Mary Corbet - Needle n’ Thread
March 6 :: Mimi Kirchner - Doll 
March 10 :: Margaret Bloom – we bloom here 
March 12 :: C&T Publishing Blog 
March 13 :: Kimara – Wee Folk Art 
March 15 :: Phoebe Wahl

5.3.15

doll books



Once there was a little doll who belonged in a pocket.  That was what she thought. Everyone else thought she belonged in a dolls' house. They put her in one but, as you will see, she ended up in a pocket.


-- From the story of Impunity Jane by Rumer Godden


The Mousewife by Rumer Godden has been one of my favorite books for many years.  Recently I picked up a copy of The Fairy Doll -- a reissue of Rumer Godden's doll stories collected together in one volume.  I was delighted.


My favorite story is about a very determined little doll called Impunity Jane who knows she is destined to have adventures riding in the pocket of a child.  Despite the fact that she spends many years sitting on an uncomfortable beaded cushion inside a doll house, she is not discouraged, and eventually does have exciting escapades with a little boy named Gideon.


I also enjoyed the story of Miss Happiness and Miss Flower.  If you love doll-stories as much as I do, I highly recommend it.


More delightful doll books:

Goldie the Dollmaker by M. B. Goffstein (this is another of my very favorite doll stories)

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field

Patty Reeds Doll by Rachel K. Laurgaard

Racketty-Packetty House by Frances Hodgeson Burnett

The Best Loved Doll by Rebecca Caudill

The Doll People by Ann M. Martin

3.3.15

today










Mr. Bloom (my husband, not my son!) needs some new specs so we popped in at the local Warby Parker shop. Hayes Street in SF is always fun... and as a treat before heading home, we stopped in at Miette Confiserie (yay!)

2.3.15

up, up & away



Every few months, my big boy goes down to LA with Mr. Bloom to see his grandmother, but our little one hasn't been down to visit in well over 2 years.  We planned to go this past weekend. Tickets were purchased, bags were packed and all arrangements were made.  Then Mr. Bloom fell ill, so I mustered my courage and hopped on the plane -- just me and the 2 boys.  All went well.  The boys were stellar and Mr. Bloom had lots of time alone at home to rest.


The hardest part of the entire weekend was during the flight to LA (and home again), decoding pictographs on the aircraft safety card for my little one.  He was fascinated.  I was terrified.  I don't like flying in airplanes to begin with, so reviewing every possible disaster, over and over and over again was... ugh.  He was very insistent and enjoyed asking lots of questions about every picture.  At least this kept him quiet and amused for the duration of the journey.


The clouds were beautiful though.  Whenever I've flown above the clouds, I think about my favorite part of James & the Giant Peach. Approximately 2/3 of the way through the book, the peach is floating across the sky tied to a flock of seagulls, and Roald Dahl describes it as follows:

Clouds like mountains towered high above their heads on all sides, mysterious, menacing, overwhelming. Gradually it grew darker and darker, and then a pale three-quarter moon came up over the tops of the clouds and cast an eerie light over the whole scene.  The giant peach swayed gently from side to side as it floated along...

Then the Cloud-Men are spotted and things get a little scary.  But I have to admit that I still love searching the clouds for Cloud-Men (and if I'm lucky, maybe I'll catch them painting a rainbow).


When we got to grandmother's house, oh, such hugging and kissing and happiness.  Definitely worth the journey.

28.2.15

gargoyles




This blog post here by lovely Molly of Remedial Eating got me thinking about gargoyles... and peg dolls.

Toward the bottom of the post, you will see a photo of peg dolls created by Molly's son based on the four elements: earth, fire, wind, and (not pictured) air.  Peg dolls in the guise of the four elements led me to ponder a uniquely medieval concept: the four humors. Blood, phlegm, bile and... what was the fourth one... earwax? Ah, yes. That would be blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile (musn't forget about black bile).


Discussion of black bile and earwax aside, if you know me, you know I cannot resist suggestions for making peculiar peg dolls.  I get an idea in my head, it has to be done, and sometimes I end up with peg dolls like these.  Hence today, gargoyle peg dolls. (Will peg dolls based on the the four humors be far behind?  Something to ponder.  I will leave that one up to your imagination.)