making peg dolls :: new paperback edition!

There is some exciting news in the world of peg dolls!  My first book, Making Peg Dolls, has been reprinted yet again, and this time Hawthorn Press has issued it in paperback.  The layout inside the new edition is the same as the hard cover, however the paperback version feels fresh & modern, and the cover has a new tag-line, "Over 60 fun, creative projects for children and adults." 

Inside, there is a fancy jacket-flap with photos and text...

And, of course, all the excitement over the new edition has inevitably led to a session of peg doll painting.

Thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy of one (or both) of my books; your support is deeply appreciated!  And now a request: if you haven't already done so, it would be amazing if you could possibly write a review on Amazon, A Child's Dream, Bella Luna Toys or any other online store which stocks my books.  Fair and honest reviews help immensely with book sales; this keeps publishers in business, which, in turn, enables authors to write more books (hint, hint)!  My gratitude always... xo


something soft

Tomorrow my little one is having surgery to correct his herniated belly button.  I fussed at the pediatrician, "His belly button has been fine, just as it is, for nearly 6 years -- why should we fix it now!?" However both he and the consulting surgeon agreed that there was risk of a small section of intestine becoming trapped in the opening. 

For the hospital visit, I decided that my son should have something new & soft to snuggle, so I used this fabric (which I purchased for this project) to sew a "sleepy heart" inspired by drawings he's created.  I wanted to make the mouth smiling, but my son insisted on a round, snoring mouth; he even demonstrated, with his own face, exactly how the stuffed heart should look.

Actually, what I really wanted to do was surprise him on the morning of the surgery with these new soft toys, but I've had a horrible cold, so by the time my little son is in bed (and I am free to work in secret), I've also needed to go to bed.  In a way it was fortuitous because my son truly enjoyed helping with this project: arranging the pins in my pin cushion, lowering and lifting the foot on the sewing machine and stuffing the toys.

I will miss my little one's funny, bulgy belly button, but at least we have some new friends who will join us at the hospital and cheer us along.

P.S. The new kitty is named Charlie because it looks just like our real kitty (also named Charlie) who follows us around the house purring & demanding we nuzzle his ears.

P.P.S.  I would refer you to the book where I found the pattern for this kitty, but the pattern design was so horrible, that I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this book or pattern to anyone.  In fact, I'm thinking of donating the book to the local library bookshop, but then someone else might buy it, suffer though the terrible pattern & instructions, and, despite meticulous effort, end up with an oddly shaped stuffed toy.  I might have to shred the book.


garden stepping stones :: tutorial re-post


After allowing our vegetable garden to lie fallow the past two years due to drought in California, we decided to plant a modest garden: 3 tomato plants and 6 blue-lake green bean vines.  With careful, targeted irrigation through a drip system, we hope our little plot won't require too much water.

I was so excited to once again fill this dedicated vegetable garden space with green things that I decided to do some sprucing up and make our little plot a festive place. I planted a passel of climbing nasturtiums to fill in & ramble over the spaces we would not be planting...

And also decided that some new stepping stones were in order... hence a repeat of this tutorial from last May.

An assortment of glass tiles & flattened glass marbles

Clear vinyl pot saucers (we used these)

A bag of cement. Try to get the kind of cement that is smooth -- i.e. no little rocks.  By accident, I bought cement which is full of little rocks and it's annoying -- not as easy to work with.

A bucket for mixing cement

A plastic bag for lining the bucket (optional)

Rubber gloves and some cleaning rags

STEP 1 :: Line your bucket with a plastic garbage bag for easier clean up (this is optional). Scoop several cups of cement into your bucket. Add water and stir. For best results, put on rubber gloves and mix by hand.  Keep adding small amounts of water or cement as needed until the cement is the approximate consistency of thick cake batter.

STEP 2 ::  Scoop cement into your clear vinyl pot saucers until 1 cm below the brim.

STEP 3 ::  Have children add tiles & marbles, etc... to decorate.  Be sure the items are pressed in firmly with the edges slightly submerged or the items might fall out once the cement is dry.

STEP 4 ::  Once the design is completed, use a damp rag to gently wipe any cement smudges off the tops of the tiles and marbles.

STEP 5 ::  Allow to dry several days, remove from the molds and find homes for your beautiful stepping stones in the garden.


re-post :: monarch butterfly peg doll tutorial

All the caterpillars inching around my garden have me thinking about butterflies; so last Friday I re-posted my butterfly brooch tutorial and today I'm re-posting this tutorial for monarch butterfly peg dolls.  I developed the tutorial last summer for a camp where my older son was a counselor and my younger son was participating as a camper.  As you can see from the photos, the butterflies created by the children created were truly delightful.


The local monarch butterfly population has recently flown off to areas where they will lay their eggs, and they will return here (to California) in late summer.  Meanwhile, we can enjoy these monarch butterfly peg dolls...

-- A blank peg doll base, any size

-- A black Sharpie-marker (I usually paint my
    dolls however, for the purposes of this camp
    project, we decided that a black marker would
    be easier for the younger children to control.
    Feel free to use marker or paint -- whichever
    you prefer.)

-- Thick white acrylic paint

-- Colored pencils - black and red

-- A tiny amount of black felt

-- A millinery flower stamen
    (colored black with a Sharpie)

-- A clip-art image of monarch butterfly wings

 -- PVA or other white craft glue

-- Scissors

STEP 1 :: Whenever I'm doing a project based on specific animal from nature, the first thing I do (or should do, at any rate) is look at photographs.  Going into this project, I knew that monarch butterflies had black bodies, but it somehow escaped my notice that their bodies had white polka dots, too.  It's a good thing I looked at some photos, right? Right.

STEP 2 ::  Using a Sharpie or other black marker, draw a large oval or circle around the "face" of your peg doll.

STEP 3 :: Use your black Sharpie/marker to fill in all the areas on your doll except the face (note: you can use paint on your doll, but for the purposes of this camp project, we used Sharpies).  

Now might also be a good time to paint the white polka dots on the body of your doll. I forgot to do this and so added them later.

STEP 4 ::  Add a face to your doll.  Pencils are easier to control than paint or even markers, and so children will usually have more success drawing a face on their doll when using pencils. You can see in the photo above that I like using pencils to draw faces sometimes, too.

(Oops.  Still forgot to add those white polka dots.  If you haven't already painted the dots, go ahead. Grab that thick white acrylic paint and add them to your doll. Or wait until later.)

STEP 5 ::  If you haven't yet colored your flower stamen with a black Sharpie, go ahead and do this. Then cut a circle of felt, small enough to fit on the back of the head of your peg doll.

Fold your millinery flower stamen in half and place a dab of glue on the felt circle. Put the bend of the stamen into the glue, and then glue the felt circle & stamen to the back of your peg doll's head.

STEP 6 :: Use glue to attach clip-art monarch butterfly wings to the back of your doll.  There are good clip-art wings here and here, or you can use Google to find many others. There are also some good choices for wings at craft shops; I used these die-cut, cardstock butterfly wings which were stashed in my craft cupboard.  Something like this, this or this might work, too.

Another idea would be to draw your own wings and add color with crayon, pencil, markers or paint.

STEP 7 ::  Look!  I finally remembered to paint white polka dots on the body of my butterfly!

This project would make a wonderful addition to lessons about butterfly life cycles, the amazing migration patterns of monarchs and the importance of preserving the habitats of these gorgeous pollinators. You can find lots of information at this website here, and for additional lesson planning, I think this book is particularly lovely. This video on YouTube is also quite wonderful.


re-post :: butterfly brooch tutorial

All the caterpillars inching their way along the leaves in my garden put me in mind of the butterflies into which they will soon transform; and so I thought it might be nice to re-post this tutorial from March 2014.


Small scraps of felt in at least three colors

Embroidery floss and a needle

Fabric scissors

Safety pins

To start, I cut the larger circles approx. 33 mm (1 1/4 inches) wide and the smaller circles approx. 27 mm (1 1/8 inches) wide.  The butterfly wings are 40 mm (1 1/2 inches) across.  Depending on your preference, you could cut your pieces slightly larger.

The butterflies are attached to the smaller felt circles by the stitches which form their bodies.  To embroider the bodies, I made one long stitch down the center of each butterfly, and then, on either side of the long stitches, I made stitches which were half the length (see photo above).

The heads are large French knots, and the antennae are stitched using a single strand separated from a piece of 6-strand embroidery floss.

After the heads & bodies were embroidered, I used an applique stitch to sew the smaller circles to the larger circles.

The final step is to carefully sew a safety pin to the back of the brooch; or if you are thinking ahead, you could sew the pin to the larger felt circle before you sew together the larger and smaller circles.

And that's it... you're done!