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...


The Magenta Crayon

Note to Little Mr. B.:

The next time you put a magenta (or any other color, for that matter) crayon in your pocket, please remove the afore mentioned crayon from said pocket before placing your garment in the laundry.

You are hereby informed that, until further notice, all your favorite school clothes & pajamas (plus some of your brothers clothes and fathers clothes) will now be streaked with magenta.



What a perfect activity for a seven year old (or a twelve year old, a 25 year old, a 45 year old or a 72 year old!) I love that origami teaches Little Mr. B. the skill of carefully reading & following detailed, step-by-step instructions -- the same skill he learns when following instructions for putting together a Lego set. Except that, at the end of a Lego project, he ends up with a big, plastic piece of junk, while when he completes an origami project, he ends up with a lovely bit of paper-art (Me? Biased against Legos? No, not me!)

Besides the pair of technicolor penguins pictured above, we've made...

Mama & baby owls...

Papa & baby hedgehogs...

And a little, purple bat!

There are so many good books for creating origami with children. We found these at our local library:

Super Simple Origami by Irmgard Kneissler
Absolute Beginner's Origami by Nick Robinson
Super Quick Origami Animals by Nick Robinson
Origami for Children by Mari Ono & Roshin Ono
Origami Toys That Tumble, Fly & Spin by Paul Jackson
Making Origami Fish Step by Step by Michael G. LaFosse
Making Origami Birds Step by Step by Michael G. LaFosse


Kewpie Doll

The other night I said to Little Mr. B., "Our baby is like a Kewpie Doll, except he's noisy and he smells funky." Little Mr. (who has never heard of Kewpie Dolls) looked at me with a puzzled expression and queried, "Puke-y doll?" which was very apt given how much this baby spits up...


The Laundry Elves

The other morning Little Mr. B. asked why he had no clothes in his bureau drawers. My response was, "Because all our clothes are in those 3 large laundry baskets sitting on the family room floor." Little Mr. B. asked why I hadn't folded all that laundry. When I informed him that I'm just too busy, he said he might fold it(?!) Well, that was 4 days ago.

Meanwhile, I am still waiting for the laundry-elves to appear in the night to fold the laundry...


Little Red Bird

Little Red Bird (Ushag Veg Ruy)

Little red bird on the lonely moor,
Lonely moor, lonely moor,
Little red bird on the lonely moor,
Where did you sleep in the night?

Out on a gorse bush, dark and wide,
Dark and wide, dark and wide,
Swift rain was falling on every side,
O, hard was my sleep last night...

Did I not sleep on the swaying briar,
Swaying briar, swaying briar,
Tossing about as the winds rose higher,
O, little did I sleep last night...

Did I not sleep on the cold waves crest,
Cold waves crest, cold waves crest,
Where many a man has taken his rest,
O, Little did I sleep last night...

Wrapped in two leaves I lay at ease,
Lay at ease, lay at ease,
Like a babe on his mothers knees,
O, sweet was my sleep last night...

This is a Manx lullaby from the Isle of Man. I'm not sure where I learned it, but it's so beautiful it's impossible to forget. Here is a clip (and another clip) if you want to have a listen.



This morning I woke up to find seashells scattered beneath me across the sheets. Had mermaids swum to my bedside secretly in the night to whisper songs of the sea in my ear as I lay sleeping?

(Or did Little Mr. B. curl up next to me wearing a sweatshirt with pockets full of seashells from an expedition to the beach?)


Gifts from the Earth, Gifts from Afar

Courtesy of a swap dreamed up by Nicole over at Gardenmama, stones from afar have been arriving in my mailbox.

Wrapped in pretty paper & tied with colorful string (sometimes accompanied by a poem) each adorned stone is unique and lovely. Sweet Baby helped me open the little packages which arrived Saturday...

This beautiful stone was sent to me from Massachusetts by Nicole of Gardenmama...

She adorned the other side of the stone, too...

This soft wool-felted stone (accompanied by an Emily Dickinson poem) was sent to me from Louisiana by Rachel of Woolgypsy...

This magical, two-tone, beaded stone was sent to me all the way from Australia by Shannon of Rhythm & Rhyme ...

I'm fascinated & charmed by the little golden-wire swirls on the flip-side of this stone (definitely a "thinking-outside-the-box" stone...)

And finally, this stone came to me from Valaries garden in Tennessee (her blog is A Place Like This...)

Thank you for these gifts from the earth, gifts from afar...


Bad Family Photos

We were a family of three for a long time, so it felt like a rite of passage to take our annual holiday photo as a family of four. Taking our family photo this year was a big event and we had a lot of fun... but most entertaining has been looking over the photos and inserting "thought-bubbles" above Baby Bloom's head. Take, for example the photo below:

"They look like a nice family, but I'm not sure I belong here... Maybe if I stop drooling they'll let me really be in the photo. Meanwhile, I wish that kid in the red shirt would stop using me as a sofa cushion." Yes, this really is an unfortunate photo. And, no, this particular photo will *not* be featured on our holiday card.

After taking some "proper" photos, we got silly and started rolling around on the floor...

Hey, little baby, please let go of those (fragile & expensive) wire frame glasses...


"Hey, where are you going? Come back!"

"How did I get stuck up here, suspended at the top of this photo? Could someone please get me down?"


If I were a Feather Bed

If I Were a Featherbed
by John McCutcheon

If I were a featherbed in your house so fine,
I'd wrap my arms around you tight, keep you warm in the wintertime...

And if I were a woolen rug a-sittin' in your front hall,
I'd reach right up and I'd tickle your toes if you stepped on me at all...

If I were an old banjo, felt your finger on my strings,
I'd play the sweetest little song that a banjo e'er did sing...

If I were a hair ribbon and my color it was blue,
I'd be ten times as beautiful because I'd be wearing you...

If I were a drop of rain trickling down your chin,
I'd run right up and kiss your lips, and kiss them twice again...

If I were a breath of wind on your cheeks as you walked by,
I'd pick you up upon my back and teach you how to fly...

Another favorite lullaby...
Here's a link in case you want to hear some of the melody...


Quote: Dr. Seuss

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. -- Dr. Seuss

I ran across the above quote a few months ago & thought it was pretty great. The quote came to mind again because we've been on a Dr. Seuss kick around here with repeated readings of The Lorax & The Butter Battle Book. There are so many wonderful books by Dr. Seuss, but these are 2 of my favorites and, of course, they elicit the best discussions...

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go. -- Dr. Seuss

What's your favorite Dr. Seuss book?