dill pickles

 Wow -- who knew that pickling cucumbers was so easy?  I followed this recipe here over at Smitten Kitchen and now I'm a convert to homemade pickles.  The recipe was a little on the salty side for my taste, but that can be easily adjusted in my next batch...

FYI, definitely go for the Kirby cucumbers if you can find them.


spool knitting

Every time I pull out knitting my 4-year-old wants to join in, and so I searched my mind for a way he could participate. Then I remembered "spool knitting," and this little mushroom spool knitter from from Bella Luna Toys is perfect in every way. It's pleasing to the eye and to the touch; however, if you are interested in exploring other types you can do an internet search for "Knitting Nancy," "Spool Knitting," "French Knitting Doll," "Strickliesel," or "Knitting Tower."

Of course, I had to buy two of these mushrooms, because I knew that, once I started with my little one, my big boy would want to try.  My younger son is using a light weight sock yarn with his mushroom and this seems a little thin, while my older son is using a worsted from Noro which is a little heavy.  And so I would recommend using a sport or DK weight with these knitters.

My four year old cannot manage this craft on his own, but in tandem we work well together. I hold the mushroom and wrap the yarn over the wire hooks, and then my little one uses the wooden knitting needle to bring the loops of yarn over the hooks. I was surprised at how quickly he mastered the skill of manipulating the yarn with the knitting needle, and we both enjoy seeing the yarn "snake" grow in length. He is using rainbow yarn, so it's fun to see how the the colors of the snake evolve as we work.  And as we work, my 4-year-old often interjects, "I love this mushroom! I love knitting!" I feel the same way.

And here are the beautiful hands of my big boy. At some point soon I'd like to transition him to using two needles; I think this has been a good start and he's ready for the next step.  Meanwhile, we have also been trying out knitting looms...

Otherwise, things have been quiet around here this summer.  No big adventures or plans, and yet our days seem full.  How has your summer been so far?



Happy Birthday to my own little Yankee Doodle Dandy!


You're growing up so big & beautiful... we love you so...


perfect square

Another good book trailer (this book happens to be a current favorite in our house...)


plant a kiss

I always love a good book trailer, don't you?


a dangerous cake

This is a dangerous cake.  I know. It doesn't look dangerous.  It's looks like an innocent bundt cake -- retro, simple, and a little boring, but it was really, really good.

I needed to whip up a quick cake last weekend for a birthday brunch and wasn't up to anything which would require whipping egg whites, frosting or decoration.  I had never made a bundt cake, but as soon as I stumbled across this recipe for Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake on Epicurious, I dashed out to our local kitchen-wares shop and bought one of these cake pans.  I had planned to drizzle the top with melted white chocolate, but didn't even have time to do that. So I dumped some powdered sugar into a sieve, gave the top a dusting and that was good enough.

The only change I made to the recipe was substituting cognac for whiskey.  The aroma while this thing was in the oven drove us all a bit insane.  Buttery, chocolate, caramelized, boozy, oh my.

I love Epicurious.  Apparently 111 people have left reviews for this recipe, and 94% would make it again.  I would make it again, too.


a small parcel

A few weeks ago Castle in the Air celebrated it's 13th anniversary.  In honor of this anniversary some fabulous treasures were given away, and I was lucky enough to receive a small parcel containing one such treasure...


Glowan is an accordion-style book from the hand and imagination of Karima Cammell (owner of Castle in the Air and founder of Dromedary Press).


It's a gorgeous little journey, from dawn to dusk, through fairy land...

The next time you are in the SF Bay Area, I highly recommend a visit to the Castle. They offer an exquisite & expansive selection of books, craft kits, European crepe paper, Dresden trim, paper toys & theaters, etc...  If you are not planning a trip to California any time soon, there is always their online shoppe (and blog).


pegdoll swap 2014 :: photos

Below you will find photos of dolls made by some of the participants in this year's pegdoll-style swap.  I am always charmed by the originality of the designs, and what really makes me smile is the generosity of the participants.  It seems that peg dolls often travel in pairs or trios, sometimes accompanied by accessories such as books, candle holders, pincushions, and other assorted accoutrements!

I hope you enjoy the photos below. For future reference, these photos will also be posted in the pegdoll swap photo gallery.

Flower fairies by Lenka (USA) :: Forest Fairy Crafts.

 Mr. & Mrs. Gnome by Maureen (Canada) :: Twig and Toadstool.

A set of weather-pegs, season-pegs, plus a "Princess & the Pea" softie by Aimee (NZ) :: Small Steps Big Noises.


"Pixie-Puffball" garlands by Keri (UK) :: Two Little Flowers and Etsy shop

 Daffodil Girls & Strawberry Girls by Lucy (Wales, UK)

Peter Rabbit (and a vegetable garden created from recycled felt) by Jannell (USA).  Jannell also included in her parcels a copy of Peter Rabbit, plus a mystery book featuring a sleuthing Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig Albert titled The Tale of Hilltop Farm  :: Artteajannell


 Witches by Karen Traversy (USA) :: Bridgit's Bell Etsy shop

Lobsters and Mermaidens by Cindi (USA) :: I wanted to make something that represents my dear state of Maine, so I chose a mermaid.  I am unsure if she is gaudy or beautiful, sort of like a real mermaid!! And I didn't want her to travel alone so I sent along a Maine lobster with VERY big eyes.

A moose and frogs by Heidi (Canada).

 Little Lions by Megan (USA) :: Giants, Wizards & Dweebs

Pegdolls dressed in elegant fabrics & trims, plus an acorn capped wizard and his disciple by Phoebe (USA)

Strawberry Fairies by Brooke (Canada): The wings are water colored -- salt technique on the front and birchbark from a fallen tree on the back. The fairies are quite busy this time of year helping the strawberries bloom and it looks like there should be a good crop soon.

Butterflies by Casey (USA) :: Sesame Seed Designs

Lilac & strawberry pegdolls, fresh from the garden by Emily (USA).

A matryoshka-style pegdoll & ornament by Sara (USA) :: This Mom Loves.

Pegdoll-style refrigerator magnets by Michelle (USA).

Festival Gnomes by Julie (USA) -- based on the wonderful patterns at Wee Folk Art

Matrioshka-style zippered pouches and brooches by Ronnie (Australia)

A pegdoll-style needle case by Clare (Australia).  Clare also created felted pincushions & scissor keepers for her swap-partners...


hand-print family portrait for father's day

Apply paint in an even coat to hand, press hand to paper, and allow to dry.

Doodle away!



eleven times 'round the sun...
happy birthday to my beautiful big boy!