28.2.11

Yum Yum Dim Sum

Today we're having dim sum.
Look, there's the rolling cart!
Papa says that dim sum means
"A little bit of heart..."

Why, oh why, my little siu mai,
Why do I love you so?
What treasure hides, jing cha siu bao,
Pillowed in your dough?

I love this little board book about dim sum. It's really very funny, and better yet, part of a series! The other titles in the series are First Book of Sushi, Hola! Jalapeno, Mangia Mangia!, Chaat and Sweets, Let's Nosh!, and A Little Bit of Soul Food. Have you ever had dim sum? It's a traditional Chinese brunch -- the waiters roll little carts through the restaurant and when the cart comes by your table, they lift the lids off the small, round bamboo steam boxes so you can have a peek inside at the dumplings. If they look good to you, the server plops the bamboo steam box on your table. Then everyone grabs their chopsticks, plucks up the dumplings and pops them in their mouths! My favorites are the Shanghai dumplings filled with soup. It was such a mystery to me the first time I had them. How did they get soup inside the dumplings? I finally figured it out, but it's a secret. Maybe I'll tell, and maybe I won't!

So, this is what we did for my birthday -- we went out to my favorite restaurant for dim sum!

Little Mr. B. worked very hard trying to use his chopsticks, and finally... success!

Then we swung by my favorite tide pools. Oh, it was windy and cold, cold, cold! We said hello to sea anemones & starfish, the limpets, wee periwinkle snails and hermit crabs. We waved at the soulful-eyed sea lions bobbing in the water only 30 feet away from where we stood, and Little Mr. B., with his sharp eyes, spotted the tiniest funny fish in one of the pools!

It was a marvelous birthday, made even better by all the kind wishes and greetings I received on Saturdays post. Thank you, thank you one and all! You helped make my day even more wonderful...

26.2.11

From the Stars I Did Come Down...


From the stars
I did come down
bearing my light
to light a crown
of shimmering stars
to shine on earth;
today's the day I came to birth.

As an adult, it's not considered diplomatic to announce your birthday. For children, birthdays are exciting, and exuberant announcements are not frowned upon... But I love birthdays. Why should we stop celebrating our yearly milestones?

So, happy birthday to me!

22.2.11

Making Peg Dolls

  
In 2013 Hawthorn Press  released Making Peg Dolls.  It's 192 pages of peg doll love, with patterns for over 60 different doll designs, step by step instructions, and everything!  The book can be ordered from The Book Depository, Bookstore at Rudolf Steiner College, Steiner Books, Waldorf BooksBooktopia, Amazon, or your favorite local book seller. The book is also carried by retailers who specialize in Waldorf Education and natural craft supplies such as Bella Luna Toys and A Child's Dream Come True.



Here's an animated trailer for the book.
It was fun to make & I hope you will like it, too.


And now, for more peg doll fun, I have a new book titled Making Peg Dolls & More set to be released Autumn 2014. The premise behind the new book is this:  I wanted to bring peg dolls off the shelf and out of the doll house to spin, fly and travel about in the larger world.   Between the covers of the book there are patterns for dolls to sit on your pincushion & help mind your stitches, dolls flying through the air on dragons and bright winged birds, dolls to accompany children through the day as they face the world and through the night as they dream on their pillows, plus so much more.

Currently, Making Peg Dolls & More is set to release December 1st, 2014 -- just in time for holiday gift-giving.  I will keep you posted with more details as they become available.



21.2.11

Making Peg Dolls


In 2013 Hawthorn Press  released Making Peg Dolls.  It's 192 pages of peg doll love, with patterns for over 60 different doll designs, step by step instructions, and everything!  The book can be ordered from The Book Depository, Bookstore at Rudolf Steiner College, Steiner Books, Waldorf BooksBooktopia, Amazon, or your favorite local book seller. The book is also carried by retailers who specialize in Waldorf Education and natural craft supplies such as Bella Luna Toys and A Child's Dream Come True.



Here's an animated trailer for the book.
It was fun to make & I hope you will like it, too.


And now, for more peg doll fun, I have a new book titled Making Peg Dolls & More set to be released Autumn 2014. The premise behind the new book is this:  I wanted to bring peg dolls off the shelf and out of the doll house to spin, fly and travel about in the larger world.   Between the covers of the book there are patterns for dolls to sit on your pincushion & help mind your stitches, dolls flying through the air on dragons and bright winged birds, dolls to accompany children through the day as they face the world and through the night as they dream on their pillows, plus so much more.

Currently, Making Peg Dolls & More is set to release December 1st, 2014 -- just in time for holiday gift-giving.  I will keep you posted with more details as they become available.



20.2.11

An Invitation: Join me for a wee, tiny peg-folk exchange

...Goldie got out her paints and carefully mixed a flesh color for the doll. She covered its face, neck, and ears, its arms and hands with the rosy tan paint, and then waited for it to dry.

As the day went on, Goldie ate buns and drank tea, and painted the doll's curls a glossy dark brown. She painted a white camisole and matching knickers on the doll's body, gray stockings on her legs and pretty black shoes on her feet. Then she painted a little gleaming black eye on either side of the doll's nose and finally, holding it firmly around the waist with one hand, Goldie smiled and smiled into the doll's eyes in the friendliest, sweetest way, and she painted a smile right back to herself on the little doll's face.

From Goldie the Dollmaker by M. B. Goffstein


For a craft swap this past autumn I created a little sprite and became hooked on making peg-dolls... It's amazing how such tiny dolls can tell such big stories!
And so I have dreamed up a swap... I hope you will dive into your imagination and join me.
For this swap each participant will be in a swap group of 5 or 6 (so each participant will send and receive 4 or 5 dolls.) Once swap-groups are allocated, you may mail the dolls you create directly to your swap partners and they will be mailing dolls directly to you.

Along with each doll, please include a poem or story which might have inspired you to create your dolls... Inspiration can come to us in so many ways... It can come from the seasons in nature, from the poetry & stories we read... Or perhaps you would like to create your dolls and then let them whisper into your ear (and into your dreams) their own new & original stories.


Will you be inspired by a season? (Autumn woodland scene by Wee Folk Art...)

Will you be inspired by a story? (Inspired by Elsa Beskow's book Peter in Blueberry Land, Sara of Paper and Cloth created doll-versions of Peter & his friend Blueberry Boy!)
Or will you be inspired by a dream?
This swap is open to all who are interested. It's likely there will be a large number of participants from a variety of countries so please be prepared to post your dolls overseas! The main requirement is the dolls you send should be handmade my you with love and care (no prior crafting skills or experiences are required.)

Any shape wooden doll base 3 1/2 inches (9cm) or smaller may be used. You can see the simple wooden doll-bases I've used in my photos... You might also use gnome doll bases or small wooden finger puppet bases, however, please do not use the tall "clothes-pin" type wooden bases.
The swap opens today, February 20, 2011. Sign-ups will close March 2nd and ideally dolls will be put in the post by March 14 so they arrive in time for the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere or Autumnal Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere. Partners will be allocated as soon as sign-ups close, but if you are concerned about having enough time to create your dolls, you may start creating right away!
If you would like to participate, please send an email to me: margaret(at)flyingteapot(dot) com. In your email please be sure to include your name, mailing address, email address & blog URL (if you have one.)
Over the next two days I will be posting tutorials and links for further ideas and inspiration (such as a link to Shannon at Rhythm & Rhyme to make a tiny daffodil hat!) Please come back and have a look... And feel free to email me with any thoughts or questions you might have!

Thank you Shannon for partnering up with me on this -- for lending me support and sending me pure inspiration in the form of a stone last November...


I hope this will be a chance to meet and inspire new friends through a poem, a story, through a small doll, brought forth from your dreams & imagination...
** Sign-ups for this swap are now closed. My apologies if you were hoping to join in. However, please check back here if you'd like to have a peek at photos of dolls made by participants in the swap! **

17.2.11

Wonderful



I love youtube! It's amazing what you can find... I stumbled across this delightful animation to advertise Hilary Lang's book Wee Wonderfuls. If you have one minute and 18 seconds, just clickety-click-click to revel in some super-duper cuteness!

One World One Heart Event Comes to an End!

The One World One Heart event has come to an end and we have randomly selected a name for the prize giveaway. The winner is Cameron of Paint Myself Pretty. Hooray, hooray -- Two little flower fairies will be flying your way soon...

Thank you to everyone who visited me and left such kind postings through OWOH!

15.2.11

Gnomeo, Gnomeo, Wherefore art Thou...

To prepare for a visit to the cinema last Friday, my older son & I skimmed through this nicely edited volume of Romeo & Juliet. It was a perfect preparation for the film. My son ended up familiar with some of the characters (esp. Tybalt, who is a sort of bad guy) and recognized several famous speeches & plot points (the best, in this movie, as far as I'm concerned, was the use of the prologue from the play!)

Anyhow, if you're a fan of ridiculous lawn ornaments or silly gnome-related humor, grab your favorite child by the hand & head to the theater for a perfect, rainy-day escape...

12.2.11

Someone Ate the Baby


Someone ate the baby.
 It's rather sad to say.
 Someone ate the baby
 So she won't be out to play.
 We'll never hear her whiney cry
 Or have to feel if she is dry.
 We'll never hear her asking "Why?"
 Someone ate the baby.

 Someone ate the baby.
 It's absolutely clear
 Someone ate the baby
 'Cause the baby isn't here.
 We'll give away her toys and clothes.
 We'll never have to wipe her nose.
 Dad says, "That's the way it goes."
 Someone ate the baby.

 Someone ate the baby.
 What a frightful thing to eat!
 Someone ate the baby
 Though she wasn't very sweet.
 It was a heartless thing to do.
 The policemen haven't got a clue.
 I simply can't imagine who
 Would go and (burp) eat the baby.
(Shel Silverstein from Where the Sidewalk Ends)

To cap off my undergraduate work at university, I wrote a senior thesis. My topic? Images of mothers consuming their children in the poetry of Sylvia Plath and other modern women poets. Really... you might think I'm joking, but truly, I'm not! Anyhow, undergraduate pretentiousness aside... Even after writing this grand & erudite (snigger, snigger) thesis, I had no inkling of what would drive a person to nibble on the tiny, tender tips of a baby's fingers until I had my first son. I suddenly understood why my own mother gave me endless love-bites when I was small. And now, as the mother of a little one, who, in the past week alone, has been alternately pronounced, "tasty," "delicious" and "delectable," I am in the throes of it all once again.

Except that he's grumpy and teething these days (and night times, too.) This leaves me grumpy and slightly irritable during the day, looking for creative ways to shake us both out of our funk. Today's method? Bouncing around the house with the baby cackling with laughter in my arms to some new song lyrics I created just for my plump & "tasty" boy.  Join me, if you will, in singing these rollicking lyrics to the tune of "What Shall We do With a Drunken Sailor..."

(Chorus)
What shall we do with a chubby baby?
What shall we do with a chubby baby?
What shall we do with a chubby baby
Early in the morning?

Spread him on toast with a bit of butter,
Spread him on toast with a bit of butter,
Spread him on toast with a bit of butter
Early in the morning...

(Chorus)

Tuck him in a bun with ketchup & a pickle,
Tuck him in a bun with ketchup & a pickle,
Tuck him in a bun with ketchup & a pickle,
Early in the morning...

(Chorus)

Braise him in wine with sauteed mushrooms,
Braise him in wine with sauteed mushrooms,
Braise him in wine with sauteed mushrooms
Early in the morning...

(Chorus)

Roast him in a pot with red potatoes,
Roast him in a pot with red potatoes,
Roast him in a pot with red potatoes,
Early in the morning...

(Chorus)

Spread him with frosting and add some sprinkles,
Spread him with frosting and add some sprinkles,
Spread him with frosting and add some sprinkles
Early in the morning...

(Chorus)

Top him with cherries and serve him with ice cream,
Top him with cherries and serve him with ice cream,
Top him with cherries and serve him with ice cream
Early in the morning...

* * *

Do you have any additional verses (or recipes) you'd like to add?!

11.2.11

An Arthur Szyk Exhibit at the Palace of Legion of Honor

One of my favorite books as a child was this volume of Andersen's Fairy Tales with illustrations by Arthur Szyk. I love the stories of Hans Christian Andersen and was intrigued Szyk's eerie illustrations. I recently learned that his art was not confined to illustrating children's books. He's famous for anti-Axis political illustrations during WWII as well as illustrations on Jewish religious subjects in the style of illuminated manuscripts.

When I heard there was an exhibit of Szyk's work at The Palace of Legion of Honor, I jumped at the opportunity to see it. Last Saturday, not only did we see the exhibit, we were able to join a tour given by a local rabbi who owns the largest collection of works by Szyk in the world and is a foremost expert on Szyk's work (who knew?!?)

I cannot begin to describe how beautiful & complex Szyk's illustrations are. I could try but would not do justice to the topic. Suffice to say, Szyk was passionate about unmasking social injustice; many of his illustrations speak directly of atrocities which occurred during WWII, and the manner in which he spoke out against unnecessary human suffering still holds current relevance.
And, exciting news: A new publication of Szyk's Haggadah will be available in April. Szyk created these Haggadah illustrations in Poland during the time of Hitler's rise to power. Through his illustrations, he drew parallels between the Nazis and the ancient Egyptians of the book of Exodus. Not only will this be a usable Haggadah, it will also contain information and commentary explaining Passover traditions.

Something to look forward to in April... and meanwhile, if you happen to be in San Francisco, the exhibit is at the Palace of Legion of Honor until March 27th. It's worth a visit...
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10.2.11

Fuzzy

Several times a week when I'm out in public, I find myself overhearing a soft sigh & a whisper, "Oh, so fuzzy..." What is it about a baby's little noggin, covered by a halo of fuzz, which invokes such sighs? I don't have an answer to that question, but it makes me sigh, too...

7.2.11

The Legend of the Golden Snail

Snailing Ship, rise and shine,
Hoist the sails and trim them fine,

Taste once more the salty brine,

For with this spell I make you mine!

(From The Legend of the Golden Snail by Graeme Base)

Last night we read the most delightful book at bedtime -- The Legend of the Golden Snail by Graeme Base. The story is about a little boy who goes on a grand adventure. Along the way he assists several magical creatures, who, in turn, help him on his quest. My son and I are always up for a story of grand adventure, and the beautiful illustrations in this book are enchanting. Plus, on every page there is a hidden symbol, so reading the book is also a treasure hunt! For a peek at all the fun, you can visit the authors website.

After school today, we're off to the library to find more books by Graeme Base... How about you?

4.2.11

3.2.11

Valentine Cookies

Several times a year I get busy baking the prettiest cookies I can dream up. They are reserved for special occasions -- Valentines Day, birthdays & Fathers Day. My husband appreciates these cookies so much I joke that my sugar cookies are the main reason he loves me so.

For this batch of cookies I called in my favorite & best assistant. He was so taken with the elegant Crusader graphic on the sack of King Arthur flour, he insisted I feature a photo of it on my blog post. (The flour sack also inspired a post-supper reading from the book Arthur of Albion by John Matthews... tales of the Round Table and the Grail quest perfectly adapted to entice and enchant a 7 year old boy...)

First we whisked together:
3 ¼ cups all-purpose unbleached, white flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
And in a separate bowl, beat together until fluffy & well blended:
20 TBLSP. (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
Then we added and beat until well combined:
1 large egg
2 ½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. finely grated lemon zest (optional)
We divided the dough in half, placed each half between 2 large sheets of wax paper and pressed each half into ½ inch thick discs.

With our rolling pin, we rolled out the dough ¼ inch thick and refrigerated it for approx. 25 minutes.

We cut out cookies leaving half of them plain. In the other half, we cut out "windows" in the centers and transferred the cut-out cookies onto prepared cookie sheets.

There are those of us who prefer sprinkles on our cookies, and so, accordingly, we sprinkled... Then we baked the cookies at 375 degrees for 9 minutes and cooled them on racks.

Next, I decided I felt too lazy to rummage for my double-boiler, so I improvised... We gently heated, until smooth, half a jar of red current jelly (seedless raspberry jam also works well, as does lemon curd, but my favorite is quince jam!)

I spooned a scant tsp. onto the bottoms of the "plain" cookies...

And made pretty sandwiches...

Ta-daaaa!


COOKIE RECIPE
Whisk together:
3 ¼ cups all-purpose unbleached, white flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
In a separate bowl, beat together until fluffy & well blended:
20 TBLSP. (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
Add and beat until well combined:
1 large egg
2 ½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. finely grated lemon zest (optional)
Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until well blended and smooth. Divide dough in half. Place each half between 2 large sheets of wax paper. Press each half into ½ inch thick discs. With rolling pin, roll out dough ¼ inch thick. Refrigerate until cold and slightly firm, approx. 20-30 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets or cover with parchment paper. Working with 1 portion at a time (leave the other portion in the refrigerator) peel away and replace top sheet of the wax paper (this will make it easier to lift cookies from the paper after they’ve been cut out.) Carefully flip over the rolled out dough and peel off (& discard) the second sheet of wax paper. Cut out cookies with 2-or 3-inch cutters. For jam sandwich cookies, leave half your cookies plain and, in half of them, cut out "windows" in the centers. Transfer cut-out cookies onto prepared cookie sheet, spacing 1 inch apart. Roll dough scraps, refrigerate and continue cutting out cookies until all dough is used.
Bake approx. 9 minutes, one pan at a time, until edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool completely on racks.
In a double boiler, gently heat until all lumps are dissolved, half a jar of seedless raspberry or red current jelly, lemon curd, or my favorite... quince jam. Spoon a scant tsp. onto the underside of a "plain" cookie and then place a cookie with a "window" on top of the jam.

Happy (almost) Valentines Day!