happy 2015

From our circus tent to yours -- all the best wishes!


redwood trees

Do you have a favorite place near your home you vow to visit more often?  A place which brings feelings of happiness and peace? 


pegdoll families

dolls & photo :: mother goose online

Every so often, I get a request for some sort of tutorial, and a while back I received an email asking about making peg doll families.  With many children off school for another week & parents looking for fun activities to do together, I thought it might be a good time to write about this project.

dolls & photo :: make it your own

I've posted photos and several of these are linked to tutorials on other blogs, however, here is my own quick summary:

1) Gather a selection of peg dolls which correspond roughly to the sizes of your various family members (small pegs for children, taller ones for the parents.)

2) Paint hair & eye colors to match those of your family members.

3) What does everyone like to wear?  Do the children in your family like to wear super hero capes?  Does your husband always wear blue jeans? Perhaps he has a mustache & beard? Does anyone in the family wear glasses? (glasses can be drawn on peg dolls with a sharp pencil). Do you like to wear a tiara while folding the laundry? Add decorations accordingly.

And that's it!

dolls & photo :: the green dragon fly

dolls & photo :: pink & green mama

dolls & photo :: my poppet

dolls & photo :: tea & biscuits with k.d.


gingerbread man puppet

I spotted some photos of a gingerbread man softie here & on pinterest. The design, by Cathy Gaubert, is from this book, and as soon as I saw the photos, I decided I had to make one. Immediately.  Only, if you know me, you know I cannot just follow a pattern...

And so I ended up with this!  A finger-legs puppet!! Yes, a gingerbread man who can really run away.

Here he is from the back so you can see the finger-pockets to make him run.

If you would like to make you own run-away gingerbread man, have a look at this tutorial I created in July, 2013, and also this tutorial on Wee Folk Art. If you are downloading the free pattern from Wee Folk Art, all you need to do is pull out some brown felt, cut off those bunny ears, stitch him up, and you've got yourself a run-away gingerbread man, too...

We like this version of the story by Jan Brett.  Do you have a favorite version of the run-away gingerbread man?

Run, run as fast as you can,
You can't catch me, 
I'm the gingerbread man!


mice are nice

I've been busy stitching tiny mice.  They look really sweet in grey with pink ears...

And they are lots of fun in assorted colors, too.

I used a pattern from this book, and packed up mice for gift-giving with copies of my favorite mouse-related books: Tumtum & Nutmeg by Emily Bearn, The Mousewife by Rumer Godden and Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel.

I made an adjustment to the pattern and added a bit of extra fabric to the base, so these tiny pocket-friends are also finger puppets.

 Someone around here is fond of this blue one. This mouse will be staying at our house...


upcycled mason jar cozy :: tutorial

How about an idea for making gifts out of old socks?  I'm serious.  I buy Smart Wool socks for my older son because they keep his feet from smelling bad (TMI?), and also because the stripes are cool.  But Smart Wool socks aren't cheap, so when he wears holes in them, I cannot throw them away.  Enter the upcycled-sock mason jar cozy (and the easiest tutorial ever).

-- A sock or two with holes worn in the heels and/or toes.
-- Needle and thread
-- Scissors

Step 1 ::  Cut off the top of the socks, just above the reinforced heel.

Step 2 :: If your sock does not have a thick cuff (where the fabric is doubled), turn sock inside out, roll a 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) hem and pin in place.  If your sock does have a thick cuff, turn the sock inside out, bring the edge up to meet the bottom of the cuff, and pin in place.  Use a needle and thread to stitch hem. (If you've never sewn a hem stitch, here's a link for how to do it.)

Step 3 :: All done!  Now you or your gift recipient will not burn fingers on hot jars of coffee or tea (and no one needs to know that their gift originated as an old, worn out sock... shhhh...I won't tell.)

Hey! Are you noticing that cool drinking lid cover in the photo above?  It's called a Cuppow and I love it. You can buy Cuppow lids to fit regular mouth jars or wide mouth jars -- and then you never have to use a disposable cup again.

Another use for old socks?  The cutest knee patches ever for the bluejeans of a certain small boy.


happy hanukkah!

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah.  We will be lighting the Hanukkiah, eating latkes, spinning dreidels, eating chocolate coins, singing songs, and maybe even opening a few gifts in my house.  Happy Hanukkah to everyone else celebrating the festival of lights!

Note: this peg doll Hanukkiah is a project from my first book.  In my second book there is a dreidel project!

solstice sun catcher :: tutorial

Hello Dear Friends!  Winter Solstice is nearly upon us... Here is a quick project in time to bring a few rainbows, even during the darkest days of the year (or brightest days of summer solstice, if you are in the southern hemisphere).  I've hung my sun catchers in the window, but you could also hang them on a Christmas tree.


-- Wooden cut-out shapes such as stars or moons (I used these)
-- Beeswax polish or paint (you can make your own polish or buy some here)
-- Glass crystals (I used 3/4 inch/18 mm crystal beads from my stash)
-- Small beads (1/8 inch/3 mm)
-- Electric drill, small drill bit & workbench vise
-- Heavy weight button thread & needle
-- Ribbon
-- Scissors
-- Pencil

Step 1: Using a pencil, mark where you plan to drill in the center of one of the points of the star, and directly below, where you plan to hang your crystal.

Step 2: Secure your wood piece in a workbench vise and, using a small bit, drill holes. (safety note: to protect your fingers, always secure wood in a vise before drilling!)

Step 3: Rub your wood piece(s) with beeswax polish or paint them if you wish.

Step 4: Draw a 10 inch (25 cm) length of heavy weight button-thread through the bottom hole in your star (or other wooden shape) and tie a knot close to the wood.

Step 5: Thread a needle with both ends of your button-thread.  Run the threaded needle through the crystal and through the small bead.  Decide how long you would like the crystal pendant to hang, and adjust the height of your crystal and bead, then knot the thread above the small bead (the knot will go around the thread between the small bead and the crystal).  After you have securely knotted the thread, run your needle back up through the crystal and cut the threads from the needle just at the top of the crystal.

Step 6: Find a pretty piece of ribbon and thread it through the top hole, then hang your sun catcher in a window where it might find even a bit of sun during the darkest days of winter.  Or pack up your sun catcher and send it to a friend (note: if your initials are ES, you know you shouldn't be peeking at this post, you naughty thing!!)


winter candyland

Marilyn Scott Waters (aka The Toymaker) has a website with the loveliest paper toys which you can download and print out for free.  Her newest creations are Ginger & Snowy in a fun, candyland scene which you or your children can cut out and set up in no time at all.  The figures could be used to play with like paper dolls or they can be set up as decorations.  To find them click here...

 P.S.  Marilyn is also the author of several books.  Her newest one is A Year in the Secret Garden.  You can find out more about it here.



favorite tutorials


Dear Friends -- Are some of you new-ish visitors to we bloom here?  If so, maybe you haven't had a chance to fully explore, so I wanted to draw your attention to a particular area of my blog.  Did you know that there is a place where you can quickly look over the various tutorials I've posted over the years? You can find them right here on my craft tutorials page (usually accessed via the menu bar beneath the photo of those gorgeous golden mirabelles).

Are you looking for some hand-made gift ideas you can quickly whip up?  This list of tutorials might help!

Speaking of tutorials, I've been working on several for you.  I realize that gift-giving season is upon us, and I am running a little late with these; however, between hosting Thanksgiving & children underfoot, things have been delayed (I'm sure you understand...)  Anyhow, please know that I'm doing my best and will have a couple of new ideas for you next week.

Also... a *give-away* on Monday! What am I giving away?  It's a book plus a few more surprises. Not one of my books, but trust me, it's utterly delightful and seriously wish-list worthy. Okay, twist my arm... do you really want to know?  Have a look here...

A final note: did you know that, even if you "Like" we bloom here and/or Making Peg Dolls on Facebook, you may not be seeing updates and messages from me in your Facebook feed?  Here's what you can do so you don't miss anything: once you’ve liked the we bloom here and/or the Making Peg Dolls page (thank you!), use the dropdown menu right under the “liked” button to select “get notifications.” This lets Facebook know, going forward, that you really do want to know when I've posted a new tutorial, give-away, and other assorted nonsense.

Another way you can hear from me is to have a look at the right-hand sidebar of this blog, and find the widget which allows you to "follow by email."  Once you've typed in your email, you will get notifications delivered directly to your inbox.

See you Monday --


photos from new book plus important message

Dear Friends,
For your amusement here are a few photos from the new book, and also an important message.  Did you know that, even if you "Like" we bloom here and/or Making Peg Dolls on Facebook, you may not be seeing updates and messages from me in your Facebook feed?  Did you know that you might be missing tutorials for lovely, quick-to-whip-up gifts? Missing information about the upcoming blog tour? About book give-aways, and other give-aways? (yes, an assortment of give-aways coming soonish!!)  What can you do so you don't miss blog posts, updates & messages from me?  Keep reading...

Here's what you can do so you don't miss anything: once you’ve liked the we bloom here and/or the Making Peg Dolls page (thank you!), use the dropdown menu right under the “liked” button to select “get notifications.” This lets Facebook know, going forward, that you really do want to know when I've posted a new tutorial, give-away, and other assorted nonsense.

Another way you can hear from me is to have a look at the right-hand sidebar of this blog, and find the widget which allows you to "follow by email."  Once you've typed in your email, you will get notifications delivered directly to your inbox.  I don't have access to information about who signs up for email through my blog, so there is no way I could add you to some list and send you junk-mail (not that I would ever consider doing such an annoying thing anyhow, I promise).

I hope your December is off to a good start.  I will be posting some more tutorials soon, and meanwhile, please stop by and say "hi" any time!



another book trailer!

Another book trailer -- hooray! (Did you miss the first book trailer? You can find it here.) But first a bit of happy peg doll information:

1) Making Peg Dolls & More is now available for purchase at the Bookstore at Rudolf Steiner College, Amazon and Book Depository.  Please consider buying books at smaller, independent shops.  Also, you can find supplies at wonderful shops such as this one, this one, this one and this one (plus a list of more shops which stock supplies, including ones in Canada and Australia here).

2) Mark your calendars (or sign up for emails) so you don't forget to come back during the first two weeks of February. There will be ...drum roll... a blog tour for Making Peg Dolls & More; this means visiting some of my favorite blogs to see best-loved projects from the book, give-aways (thanks to the generosity of Hawthorn Press), plus a few other surprises!

Please feel free to re-blog, re-post, and forward this trailer to friends and family alike.  The peg dolls are dancing... won't you join in, as well?


hair-sticks & knitting needles :: tutorial


Are you looking for a super easy, super quick holiday gift?  Here's a good gift for anyone you know with long hair... or someone who knits.

I came up with this project last week after walking around all day with a DPN knitting needle stuck in my hair to hold it off my face.  I've been known to hold back my hair with an assortment of odd items: pencils, paintbrushes, plastic forks and spoons, etc... Before things got too ridiculous, I decided to make something specifically for my hair.


Wooden beads or other small wooden shapes (I used these, these and these)
Dowels 3/16 inch /.5 cm diameter)
An electric drill plus 3/16 inch/.5 cm diameter drill bit (optional if your beads already have 3/16" holes)
Woodworking vise
Small saw (hack saw, carpentry saw, folding saw, etc...)
Sand paper (medium and fine grit)
Pencil sharpener
Paint and paint brushes
Beeswax polish
White craft glue

Safety notice: always use a vise to protect your hands & fingers when using woodworking tools!

Step 1: My wooden beads and mushroom-shaped drawer pulls already had 3/16 inch/.5 cm holes, however, I needed to drill holes in the bases of the peg dolls.  If you are using peg dolls for this project, secure them in a vise (and you might notice that I have lovely yellow vise jaw pads; these vise jaw pads are amazing for protecting wooden pieces from becoming dented and damaged in the vise).

Use a 3/16 inch/.5 cm drill bit to make holes in the bases of the peg dolls.

Step 2: Secure dowels in vise and use a small saw to cut them to size: 10 inches/25 cm for knitting needles and 6.25 inches/16 cm for hair-sticks.  After they have been cut to size, create points on one end of each stick with a pencil sharpener.  Use sandpaper to smooth the sticks and pointed ends. 

Step 3: Paint your beads, dolls, drawer pulls, etc...

And add any small details you wish... (Note: This is where you can let your imagination run wild. I chose to paint faces on my beads, but you could paint stripes, solid colors, abstract designs, add glitter, etc... You could also paint the sticks!)

 Step 4: Rub your sticks with beeswax polish, and if you painted your beads or dolls with watercolors, you can rub them with polish to brighten the paint, too. In case you have never made beeswax polish, here is the (very simple) recipe:

In a double boiler, heat a small amount of beeswax with some almond, jojoba or olive oil.  The usual ratio is 1:3 (one unit beeswax to three units of other oil).  Once the beeswax has melted and combined with the other oil, pour your polish into a small container (a throat lozenge tin or small mason jar works well) and allow to cool.  You will only need tiny amounts of polish at a time and the polish will keep for at least 2 years.  (Or you can buy beeswax polish here or here.)

To use the polish, put a small amount of the beeswax & oil mixture onto a paper towel and rub until there is no excess polish on the wood.  If the surface you are polishing is painted, you will know you are done when very little paint pigment rubs off on a clean piece of towel.

Step 5: Insert the unsharpened ends of your sticks into the holes of your wooden pieces.  My pieces fit so snugly that I did not need glue, however you can put a tiny drop of white craft glue inside each hole before inserting the ends of the dowels.

If the ends of your dowels are too large to fit inside the drilled holes, use sand paper to slightly decrease the diameter of the unsharpened ends.


A note about knitting needles: 3/16 inch/.5 cm diameter dowels correspond with 5 mm metric/European size and US knitting needle size 8.