tutorial :: acorn necklace

A few weeks ago I was at a school craft fair and kept seeing people wearing the sweetest necklaces -- acorns with golden caps.  I was trailing after my little son during the fair and so wasn't able to visit the table where students were proudly selling their work, but I was determined to create a few of these baubles at home with my son.

-- Acorns and caps
-- Gold paint & a paint brush
-- An electric drill and vise
-- Small screw-eyes
-- PVS glue
-- Yarn or string

 STEP 1 :: Remove caps from acorns, apply gold paint and allow to dry.

STEP 2 :: Glue the painted caps back onto the acorns and allow to dry.

STEP 3 :: Secure your acorns in a vise (please, please, please be careful of your fingers and use a vise to secure your project when drilling) and use a very small bit to drill a hole down through the cap and into the acorn.

Note: I use vise jaw liner pads similar to these to protect the items I am securing -- otherwise, a tight vise will damage fragile items.  I have heard that you can use a washcloth instead of vise jaw liner pads.

STEP 4 :: Screw the screw-eyes into the drilled holes, cut lengths of cord, ribbon or yarn, and knot to desired length.

Longer pieces of yarn or ribbon will be good for wearing as necklaces, but tied on shorter pieces of cord, these acorns would look pretty on a Christmas tree.  And if you are as fond as I am of shiny gilded objects from nature, you might enjoy clicking HERE to have a look at my tutorial for a golden walnut garland.


happy hanukkah 2017

Happy first night of Hanukkah!  In honor of the holiday, I thought I'd re-post a craft I facilitated in my younger son's kindergarten/1st grade class last year...

For more Hanukkah related crafts on my blog, you can find an acorn-dreidel tutorial HERE and a candle-making tutorial HERE.


--  Large paper (12 in. x 18 in. was available in
     the classroom)

-- Colorful scrapbook or origami paper

-- Orange & yellow paper

-- A paper cutter (essential if prepping this craft for
    a classroom of 22 small children -- not essential
    if doing this craft at home).

-- Scissor

-- Glue stick

STEP 1 :: Cut strips of paper as follows: 2 in. x 14 in. for each hannukiah base, 2 in. x 2 in. for the shammash candle holder, 1 in. x 5 in. for candles (you will need 9 candles for each child's project).

STEP 2 :: Cut 1 inch strips of yellow & orange paper.  Then use a scissors to snip the strips into diamond & triangle shapes for the candle flames.

STEP 3 :: Set out the large sheets of paper, strips of colorful paper, and glue stick then stand back and watch as gorgeous collages are created.

NOTE: I was facilitating this project in a classroom of 5-7 year olds and we allotted approx. 20 minutes for the craft.  If we had had more time for the project, giving the children scissors to cut out their own candles would have been an option.  And certainly, if doing this project with older children, there is no need at all to pre-cut the paper into strips and they can cut the paper into strips themselves.


booktrailer :: this is my dollhouse

If you've been visiting my blog over the past few years, you know how I feel about book trailers (didn't I just share a fantastic one with you last week? Why, yes I did!).  And this book trailer I'm sharing with you today is extra scrumptious because it's about doll houses (there are even instructions for making your own doll house inside the book jacket)!

If you're a new visitor to my blog, you may have missed a doll house tutorial I posted back in July 2015 (plus tutorials for furniture here and here).  And a mermaid dollhouse here!

This is my dollhouse. If you make one, too, I hope you will share it with me...


book trailer :: her right foot by dave eggers

I ran across a trailer for this book a few weeks ago and... wow.  I immediately checked out a copy from the library and found the book even more beautiful and powerful than revealed by the trailer.  As the grandchild of immigrants, the topic, for me, is poignant, and in light of the current political situation in the US, this book offers inspiration and hope.

In addition to the trailer, author Dave Eggers posted a letter to his readers on Amazon.  You can find the letter here (just scroll down a bit and you'll find it). 



Hello -- I'm back!  Have you given up on me? I hope not...

Because of family commitments things have been difficult and busy around here, but I have a number of things I'm looking forward to sharing with you.  Meanwhile... apples!

Apples seem to be late this year.  Every week for the past two months, I've stopped by the local farmer's markets and haven't found what I was looking for.  In early September there were Gravensteins, and then... Ho hum. Not much. Finally, last Saturday I bought those gorgeous Winesaps (in the photo at the top of this post) and Pink Ladies (above).  Pink Ladies are favorites of my little son because he thinks the name is funny, but as far as I'm concerned, the Winesaps and Pink Ladies are both fantastic and worth the wait.

Baking has ensued.  In September I made this apple cake (twice).  Note: I think substituting brown sugar for at least half the sugar called for in the recipe improves the flavor of cake, and instead of baking in a large tube-pan, you might consider (as I did) splitting the batter into two 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake pans.  Next on the list is apple crisp; I cannot find my usual recipe, but this one is similar.  And applesauce. I use Judy Rodgers recipe for roasted applesauce, substituting honey for the sugar.  It's divine.

Can you believe tomorrow is Halloween?  For some reason (I have yet to uncover) my little one insists he doesn't want to go trick-or-treating, but I'm hoping he will change his mind...


a gift

My mother's hair was straight.  Her eyes were brown. Her skin was olive.

My hair is curly.  My eyes are light green.  My skin is pale.

Because of this (and my leggy build), I always thought I favored my father's side of the family.  However, I've spent the past weeks looking through old photos, and suddenly saw what everyone else has been insisting all along;  I am nearly a mirror image of my mother.  I see her in the curve of my cheek, in the line of my chin and the bump on my nose.  I see her in the shape of my eyes and the arc of my lips.

And this is a final gift.  Every time I look in the mirror, I see my mother.

my mother


In 2011 my mother was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer.  We were blessed to have her with us for 6 more years.  Now, for the past three weeks, we have been steadily caring for her and did our best to bring her to peace.

Kel Maleh Rachamim
God, full of mercy, Who dwells above, give rest on the wings of your Divine Presence, amongst the holy who shine like the sky, to the soul of my mother... O Merciful One, please shelter her forever under the wings of Thy presence.  Amen.


book review :: journal sparks

FTC Compliant Disclosure:  I was sent a copy of this book by Storey Publishing Co. to facilitate a review, however, all opinions expressed below are entirely my own.

Nearly 5 years ago Emily Neuburger came out with her first book, Show me a Story.  This book was utterly delightful, so you can imagine how excited I was to hear that Emily had written a new book: Journal Sparks.


These small images I was able to download from Storey Publishing in no way do this book justice.  It's jam-packed full of colorful, whimsical inspiration for "No-Rules Journaling." There are ideas for word-play, color-play, mixed media collage and fanciful imaginings.

In addition to the rainbow-buffet of ideas Emily lays on the table, this volume also contains instructions for building your own journal (instead of buying pre-fabricated notebooks), plus there are contributions from other authors/artists who bring yet more ideas and inspiration.

As I paged through this book, I thought to myself how perfect Journal Sparks would be for any teenage or adult journaling-enthusiast...


And for younger children, too... The moment my 6-year old lay eyes on the book, he claimed it as his own.

We started off constructing tiny journals out of printer-paper, which my little one immediately filled with washi-tape, rubber-stamps and pencil-doodles.  So we quickly upgraded to THESE lovely spiral-bound, watercolor paper journals.

"Hope" is the thing with feathers... (Emily Dickinson)

And here's where I admit to you that I am not a journaling-enthusiast.  I haven't kept any sort of journal since my years at university, but Emily's Journal Sparks brought back to me the memory of my favorite sort of journal: the florilegium.  Florilegia is a Medieval Latin term describing books in which are written small extracts from other works; in my own little florilegium, I scribbled favorite quotes and short passages.

I am blinded by the glare of all the silver linings. (Elizabeth Cohen)

I'm having so much fun adding watercolor and collage illustrations to my favorite quotes, and am grateful to Emily for inspiring my return to this journaling tradition.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone who loves to journal, for anyone who loves to create mixed media art, for anyone who loves to doodle and for anyone who thinks they cannot do any of these things but might like to give it go!


hans my hedgehog :: en español!

Este patrón es la traducción al español del original “Hans My Hedgehog”:

Nos complacería que compartieras tus erizos en Ravelry. ¡Gracias! 

-- Dos tonos de la gama tierra (oscuro para el cuerpo, más claro para la cabeza) de una lana DK o Worsted (grosor medio). La cantidad dependerá de la tensión utilizada, yo usé aproximadamente 20 gr. de Drops Alaska para el erizo grande.

-- Un poco de fieltro marrón para las orejas

-- Unos 50cm de hilo de algodón para los ojos. También podrías usar pequeños botones o abalorios negros.

Utilizar una medida ligeramente inferior a lo que la lana requiere para que no se vea el relleno, en este caso la lana requiere una aguja 3.5 - 4mm (US 4 – 6) y utilizamos una de 3.25mm (US 3). El patrón se trabaja en plano y se cose al final. 

PD: Punto derecho  
2PR: 2 puntos revés
PR: Punto revés  
2PDj: 2 puntos derechos juntos
2PD : 2 puntos derechos 
2PRj: 2 puntos revés juntos

Punto de arroz
Trabajar las hileras como sigue: 
1ª h y todas las del derecho: *1 PD, 1 PR*; repetir de *a* hasta el final.

2ª h y todas las del revés: contrariando los puntos, es decir, *1 PR, 1 PD*; repetir de *a* hasta el final.

Es decir, se teje del revés en los PD y del derecho en los PR

Punto jersey
Alternar hileras de punto derecho y punto revés.

Erizo grande (aproximadamente 9cm de longitud)
Montar 24 puntos utilizando la lana de tono más oscuro para tejer el cuerpo del erizo.
Hileras 1 a 18: Punto de arroz : alternar una hilera *pd, pr* (repetir de *a* hasta el final) con una hilera de *pr, pd* (repetir de *a* hasta el final)
Hilera 19: Cambiar a la lana en tono más claro y *2PD, 2PDj* (repetir de *a* hasta el final) (18 puntos)
Hilera 20: PR
Hilera 21: *2PD, 2PDj* (repetir de *a* hasta el final) (14 puntos)
Hilera 22: PR
Hilera 23: *2PD, 2PDj* (repetir de *a* hasta el final)
Hilera 24: PR
Hilera 25: 2PDj toda la hilera (6 puntos)
Hilera 26: PR
Hilera 27: 2PDj toda la hilera, usando una aguja de tapicería, pasar la hebra por los 3 puntos restantes para cerrarlos.

Utilizando la hebra de color más claro, unir las dos mitades del hocico del erizo entre si y entretejer el cabo. Utilizando la hebra de color más oscuro que parte desde el punto donde se une el cuerpo al hocico, unir las dos mitades del cuerpo entre sí y entretejer el cabo.

Rellenar el erizo, pero que no quede demasiado “hinchado”. Utilizando la hebra sobrante del montaje de puntos, cerrar el cuerpo del erizo por la parte inferior con la aguja de tapicería (basta con pasar el hilo por la parte externa de cada punto, desde dentro hacia afuera) y entretejer el cabo.

Utilizando el hilo de algodón negro, decorar los ojos y el hocico. Si quieres que el hocico del erizo quede hacia arriba, hazlo con la costura del cuerpo mirando hacia arriba. 

Añade las orejas utilizando pequeños trozos redondeados de fieltro.

Erizo pequeño (aproximadamente 6cm de longitud)
Montar 16 puntos utilizando la lana de tono más oscuro para tejer el cuerpo del erizo.
Hileras 1 a 12: Punto de arroz : alternar una hilera *pd, pr* (repetir de *a* hasta el final) con una hilera de *pr, pd* (repetir de *a* hasta el final )
Hilera 13: Cambiar a la lana en tono más claro y *2PD, 2PDj* (repetir de *a* hasta el final) (12 puntos)
Hilera 14: PR
Hilera 15: *2PD, 2PDj* (repetir de *a* hasta el final) (9 puntos)
Hilera 16: PR
Hilera 17: 2PDj 2 veces, PD, 2PDj 2 veces
Hilera 18: 2PRj, 1PR, 2PRj

Usando una aguja de tapicería, pasar la hebra por los 3 puntos restantes para cerrarlos.

Ver instrucciones del erizo grande para el acabado.

Muchas gracias a "lokeando" (de Ravelry) por la traducción!


creative form drawing

After school, while I prepare something for my younger son to eat, he usually rummages for a book to read or some art supplies.  Lately his favorite activity involves crayons and the book Creative Form Drawing (Workbook 1) by Angela Lord.   In fact, he likes this book so much, it has taken up permanent residence on the kitchen table.

The book is broken down into lessons by age, with a gorgeous array of colorful drawings to illustrate the forms and principles.  Each lesson is methodically outlined by age/grade level and very clear; however, my son and I prefer to leaf through the book, choose a page of designs which appeal to us at that moment, and use the illustrations as inspirational launching points for our own kaleidoscope experiments.

While coloring books are a popular trend, the designs in this book take the user beyond mere coloring projects; with this book, my son & I feel encouraged to try our own original variations of each form. 

For our drawings, we adore the beeswax aroma of Stockmar crayons, however, our box of  regular crayons is too irresistible to leave on the shelf.  My son's favorite color is called "macaroni and cheese," while I keep coming back to the colors "tickle me pink," "dandelion," "wisteria" and "purple mountain majesty."

We might not bother to wait until he's 10 to get a copy of Workbook 2...