Today is the Jewish holiday of Purim so I baked hamentashen using a basic sugar cookie recipe (like this one) plus whatever jam I happened to have in the refrigerator (this week, Four Fruits Preserves from Bonne Maman).  However, Deb Perelman of the blog Smitten Kitchen posted this amazing recipe for apricot hazelnut brown butter hamentaschen, and next year I might have to try it.

Happy Purim!


tutorial :: dream catcher

My sons attend a Charter School where families are invited to volunteer as much as they wish (or are able), which adds a richness to the educational community; I volunteer by co-facilitating a series of hand-craft seminars for the kindergarten and first grade classes.  In our seminars, the children decorate peg dolls, construct peg doll houses from boxes, and learn to use a French knitting machine, but the favorite craft this year has been making dream catchers.

I start off by explaining to the classes that dream catchers were woven by the grandfathers and grandmothers of the Ojibwa, Chippewa and Lakota Native American Indian Tribes for their grandchildren.  The dream catchers were hung above beds, and children would be comforted by the idea that bad dreams could be caught in the spider's web at the center of the dream catcher, while good & peaceful dreams would filter down through the feathers fluttering at the bottom.

Hemp, jute or paper wrapped 18 gauge floral wire (we use THIS)

Blunt metal tapestry needles

Yarn of various colors

A wire cutter




STEP 1 :: Use a wire cutter to cut your hemp or jute wrapped floral wire into 36 inch (1 meter) lengths and then twist the lengths into circles approx. 5 inches (13 cm) in diameter. Once your circle is formed, twist the remaining ends around the circle (see photos above).

STEP 2 :: Cut 4 ft. lengths of yarn, and thread onto needles (if you are making one dream catcher, you will need only one piece of yarn and one needle, however, for a class of children, you will, of course, need yarn and needles for all the children!).

This is a great opportunity to teach children to tie knots.  Have the children knot the ends of their yarn to a spot on the dream catcher, and then show them how to find a loop between the wires at the opposite sides of their circles, and pull their needle through the small loop of wire (see photo above).

If the children would like to add beads, show them how to thread a bead over their needle before they run the needle through a loop on the opposite side of their dream catcher circle.

After each child has finished weaving a spider web inside their dream catcher, you will have to help them secure the end of their yarn with a knot (leaving enough yarn at the end to tie a loop for hanging).  Once the end of the yarn is secured, the children can slide the beads around in an arrangement which pleases them.

STEP 3 :: Cut 3 lengths of yarn per dream catcher, approx. 8 inches (20 cm) each, and tie a feather to one end. Then tie the yarn to the bottoms of the dream catchers (a great opportunity for the children to practice their knot-tying skills).

STEP 4 :: After the children have admired their fine work, it's fun to ask them questions about their dreams and also have them draw pictures of their dreams.  Then the children can take their dream catchers home and hang them above their own beds.



Brown and furry
Caterpillar in a hurry,
Take your walk
To the shady leaf, or stalk,
Or what not,
Which may be the chosen spot.
No toad spy you,
Hovering bird of prey pass by you;
Spin and die,
To live again a butterfly.

-- Christina Rosetti

Happy first day of spring...


blueberry crumble pi

Happy Pi Day!  To celebrate, I'm planning to make pizza pi for supper and have just baked a blueberry crumble pi (fondly referred to as humble crumble pie) for dessert.

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup raw/turbinado sugar
     (plus 1 TBL for sprinkling)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp lemon zest
1 TBL lemon juice
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tsp corn starch

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.  Butter and flour a shallow pie dish or tart pan (you can also cover the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper and then butter the parchment if you wish).

Whisk together the flour, 1/2 cup turbinado sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk the egg, lemon zest and vanilla in a small bowl, dice the butter into small cubes and then add the diced butter and egg mixture into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients.  Use a fork (or your fingers) to cut the cubes of butter into the dry ingredients until your dough mixture resembles coarse crumbs with pea-sized bits of butter.

Scoop HALF the dough mixture into your prepared pan, and use your fingers to gently press it evenly into the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

Put the berries into a medium sized bowl, sprinkle the corn starch, lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup turbinado sugar (you can use less sugar if you prefer) over the berries. Toss gently with a spoon and then arrange the berries in an even layer over the dough in the pan.  Squeeze the remaining dough mixture with your fingers to form some larger clumps, then distribute the clumps & crumbs in a layer over the berries.  Sprinkle a tablespoon of turbinado sugar over the top and place in the pre-heated oven for approx. 35 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and the berries are bubbling a bit around the edges.


Allow to cool for a few minutes before cutting wedges.  Serve with scoops of vanilla ice cream (and eat the leftovers for breakfast with tea).


sarah's silks

We love Sarah's Silks.
Love. Love. Love.

We love the parachute toys, the skytails, the wizard star cape, and the giant rainbow Silk Scapes (one of these Silk Scapes even made appearances on pages 62 and 65 in my first book)!

So imagine my surprise when I received an email about a month ago from Sarah herself asking whether I would be willing make a few sample peg dolls to help highlight a new product she was launching.  My answer? Yes!  I'd be honored and pleased.

Sarah's new product is a Mini-Playhouse Kit.  The kit includes a wooden base, a 10"x 20" play silk, two rope arches, two wooden peg people, plus wool and silk pieces for decorating the people and furnishing the house.  You can purchase the kit via the Sarah's Silks website and it should be available soon on other sites as well (plus right now, Sarah is offering an Easter Sale 20% off coupon code).  Do you love Sarah's Silks as much as we do?  What's your favorite silk toy?

note: I received no compensation whatsoever for endorsing the products of Sarah's Silks.  All opinions expressed in this blog post are entirely my own.