welcoming autumn

The latest peg doll fashion...

Leafy acorn caps.

Welcome autumn!


inspiration: mary blair

from The New Golden Song Book
Occasionally I am asked about artistic influences for my peg doll designs. Certainly I'm inspired by lovely traditional Waldorf designs and also by figures from Wendt und Kuehn; however I never felt those sources completely captured what has influenced me most.  I couldn't put my finger on where my inspiration was truly coming from until last March when I saw a newspaper article about a museum exhibit of work by Mary Blair.  Suddenly, it clicked, and I knew, on a deeper level, where much of my inspiration lies.

from The Golden Book of Little Verses

The answer was the art and work of Mary Blair. 

Mary Blair was one of the chief designers on the ride It's a Small World at Disneyland.  She also designed murals for the Disneyland Parks, illustrated children's books and created endless sketches which influenced the colors, tone and overall aesthetic of Disney's animated movies through the 1940's & 50's.

I grew up in Los Angeles, and so visits to Disneyland were an exciting part of my childhood.  My favorite ride has always been It's a Small World, and I remember, as a child, admiring the murals Mary Blair designed.  Sadly, those murals at Disneyland are now gone but Mary Blair's design influence remains). 

Even at home, I had books and albums of music with artwork by Mary Blair.

design sketch for Johnny Appleseed

If you'd like to read more about the design of It's a Small World you can have a look here.

design sketch for Cinderella

And to learn more about Mary Blair, this is a good place to start...


three parcels

This afternoon, just as I was settling my little one down for an afternoon sleep, there was a very loud knock at the door.  I marched downstairs, opened the door (feeling irritated) and asked the delivery man whether he needed my signature.  No -- he said he would leave the three parcels on my doorstep.  Fine.  Thank you.  Good-bye.

After little one was settled to sleep, I went back downstairs and opened the door to discover three very large, securely wrapped parcels.  Until I carefully examined the labels I was feeling perplexed, and then... with shaking hands, I attacked one of the parcels with a pair of scissors, got it open as quickly as possible and did a little happy dance!  I wasn't expecting to receive parcels like these for at least another 3 weeks.

Look! Here's the cover...

The title page...

And the back cover!

If you would like a copy for yourself, here's the scoop: The release date for the UK is December 1st, but, for the rest of the world, release dates are still uncertain (early 2015 is the latest projection).  This might seem like bad news for anyone outside the UK, however the silver lining is this: Book Depository, UK, offers free delivery world wide.  If you would like to have a copy of my second book in December, you can pre-order here!

I hope to have more news and updates about the new book in the coming weeks, but for today, perhaps you will join me and do a little happy dance, too...


in the kitchen

The materials for my second book were mostly ready by March, but the editing, proofreading & fine-tooth-combing continued through July.  The final finishing work came only in fits and starts, but by the time all was said and done, I had a serious case of burnout.  This was reflected by my inability to function in the kitchen, and so, for several months, dinner options in my house consisted of pasta with boring-sauce, pizza, more pasta with boring sauce or take-out burritos.  However, a few weeks ago I got my kitchen-mojo back.  It all started with a tomato galette. Coming out of the oven, it looked impressive (despite my dodgy photo) and was lots of fun to make (a certain pre-schooler had a grand time helping me roll the dough for crust, spread the filling, sprinkle marjoram leaves and dot tomatoes over the filling);  however, despite the joy of making the galette, we did not like it much.  The soft ricotta cheese filling with sauteed leeks & marjoram was just not our "thing" (we would have been happier all around with a simple layer of melted Gruyere beneath the tomatoes).

Still, the galette was a kick-start, and I have since tried several other new recipes which are now favorites in my house. I am slightly obsessed with this salad and also this Basque pie (note: friends brought me smoked paprika from Spain, but I think you can get it on Amazon... don't skip the  smoked paprika!)  I have also been having success with a number of recipes from Budget Bytes: this one, this one, and this one, for example. And then there is this recipe which was posted on Orangette way back in June 2013 (don't skip any of the ingredients for this recipe either -- especially not the feta & pine nuts -- but do consider making half the recipe as the full recipe makes an absurd quantity of food).

Now that I've been flexing my muscles in the kitchen for the past few weeks, I wonder what I should make for supper tonight. (sigh. maybe we'll just get take-out from the local Burmese restaurant.)  Have you tried any new recipes lately which you'd recommend? 



Nearly a year ago I shared a trailer for Aaron Becker's first book titled Journey.  Now he has released a new book and it's as breathtaking as his first.