Toymaker's Christmas

What is the perfect holiday gift for children? One that engages their creativity, imagination and innate playfulness? I think Marilyn Scott Waters new book The Toymakers Christmas fits that bill perfectly!

My favorite project? The little singing angels... What's your favorite?


Giving Gifts

Do you have a favorite gift you love to give? A gift which is eagerly anticipated by its recipients year after year? My favorite gift to give is potted flower bulbs.

Every year, in early October I buy several bags of bulbs. I rummage through my old pots and pick up a few extras as needed. I shovel a little dirt & sprinkle some water. Then, I wait. Within weeks I see tiny green shoots. All that is required of the recipient is to give a little bit of water, a little sunshine, patience...

And, ta-daaaa!

This gift is a mix of faith & magic... Faith that after the dark of winter, spring will arrive and these small, quiet bulbs will sprout and bloom. Magic? Because what could be more magical than nature. A little sunshine, a little water and... magic! (note: The flowers in the photos above are from last year... we will have to wait until March for more flowers. As I mentioned above, this is a gift which requires patience...)

Another favorite gift around here is books. This year for Hanukkah I gave Mr. Bloom three books: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan and Await your Reply by Dan Chaon (yes, my husband likes exciting books!) I also gave my brother a copy of Eating Animals plus a copy of Best Food Writing 2010 edited by Holly Hughes (reading about good food is almost as fun as eating good food...)

Wishing you a holiday full of light, magic and meaningful gifts... gifts of the spirit & gifts of the heart...


Festival of Light

Wednesday, December 1st was the first night of Hanukkah this year.

On Wednesday afternoon, Little Mr. and I settled in for a fun project to bring in the light -- We made candle lanterns from recycled jam jars, kite paper & Mod Podge.

Then something ironic happened. On this first eve of Hanukkah we had a power outage which resulted in a black out... Luckily we had our new, pretty candle holders all lined up and ready to brighten our night.

One little problem, however... The power outage hit just as I was getting ready to fire up the stove to make vegetable soup and potato latkes for supper. So, off we went to a new little taqueria we'd been wanting to try. Our dinner for the first night of Hanukkah? Enchiladas, quesadillas and a tamale.

Wishing you light, laughter, love & adventure this holiday season!


Southern Hemisphere Seasonal Exchange

No, I have not moved to the southern hemisphere, but this swap over at Rhythm and Rhyme has had me thinking about summer.

Southern hemisphere seasons are opposite northern hemisphere seasons so the the crafted items in this swap are connected to the theme of summer. At first I wasn't sure that, as a northern hemisphere resident, I could join in the fun, but when I read that the swap was open to everyone, my mind starting spinning with ideas. Around here, we kissed summer good-bye about 2 months ago. Now I'm surrounded by autumn foliage & pumpkins (and looking toward sparkling winter) so it's been an interesting challenge to think about summer-related projects.

I delved into summer by opening my copy of A Child's Seasonal Treasury by Betty Jones. These two finger-play poems sent my imagination dancing with sweet summertime seashore images.

The Golden Boat

This is the boat, the golden boat,
That sails the silver sea.
These are the oars of ivory white,
That lift and dip, that lift and dip.
These are the ten little ferrymen,
To take the oars of ivory white,
That lift and dip, that lift and dip,
That move the boat, the golden boat,
Over the silver sea.

The Sea

Here is the deep blue sea.
Here is the boat and here is me.
And all the fishes down below,
Wriggle their tails and away they go!

I grew up in Los Angeles a few miles from the ocean. Wide, warm, sunny beaches are a big part of my childhood memories.

Now I live in Northern California, 10 miles on a small, winding road from the ocean.

Northern California beaches are a far cry from the beaches of my childhood; Around here we dress in wool caps and pullovers when we head to the shore.

Our beaches are blustery and rocky, teeming with tide pools and wild life. My favorites are the soulful-eyed sea lions, ever present, basking in thin rays of sunlight on rocks nearby.

But, I digress. Returning to the topic of the swap... I'd been thinking for some time about making solstice lanterns from recycled glass jars, Mod Podge and kite paper. Instead, with summertime spinning my imagination, I began dreaming up seashore scenes.

I started by cutting shapes and laying them out on white paper.

Having the company of a curious kitty is always nice, don't you think?

After that, it was just a matter of brushing Mod Podge on my jar & applying the paper cut-outs. After it had all dried I gave it a second, all-over application of Mod Podge.

The little lantern looked like a mess while it was drying, but once everything had dried completely, the result was lovely!

Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos while I was creating this little water sprite... Now that her paint is dry, she has whispered in my ear that she is looking forward to testing the waters in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland (that's where she's headed!) She says the water around here is too chilly for her taste and she's longing for warmer climes.

As part of the Southern Hemisphere Seasonal Exchange we may send 5 items total. Not all of them are required to be hand made so I am including a beeswax votive (for the lantern) and two stones from our wild, rocky shores. I hope my exchange partner will enjoy bringing the seashore to her nature table.

Goodbye little water sprite. Safe journeys to you -- I wish you happy swimming in the sparkling Coral Sea, far from our misty shores...