Stick Chic

Painted SticksDo you ever feel like your subconscious is leaking out?

I was researching decorations for my dear friend’s wedding when I got kind of stuck on sticks. Here’s my pinterest page on stick decorating.

My kids never saw any of this, but somehow, they seemed to know about it, because later that day, after hubs had trimmed some bushes, they hunted down the paint and began decorating these sticks. I’m loving the Dr. Seuss vibe.

I also chopped (with the trimmer) a bunch of sticks into shorter segments for us to make into a new winter wreath. Our old one is kind of sad and decrepit.

I’m alllllllmost finished with a dress I’m making. Just three more buttons! I can’t believe I actually made 9 successful buttonholes. This is a new milestone.

Meanwhile, I hope a certain little ninja will appreciate his costume that’s nearly finished. Who am I kidding? Kids have no idea the work that goes into costume-making. That’s okay. I’ve had fun making it, and I’ve kept it really low-key. I may make a little tutorial about the tunic part of it.

I’m still plugging away at my writing projects. Trying to keep my nose to the grindstone. And made Foster’s Market Jamaican black bean soup last night. Also put up some pesto. Yum!

Cardboard Robots, Take Two

Cardboard Robot

I’m sorry to have been away so long—I’ve missed being here in this space. I’ve been very busy on my writing projects and trying to use my days to work on them. But don’t worry, I’m still here.

My six-year-old made this robot, with just a tiny bit of help from his older sister on the hands. I love it! I think he must’ve been inspired by this robot display photo, sent to us by a friend while she was in London. The robot a continuation of the Cardboard Factory that hatched in our dining room over the summer.

I’ve been sewing a little, trying to screw up my courage to make some buttonholes (an Achilles heel of mine) on a dress. Also, I’ve been working on another Halloween ninja costume.

I’m a little stuck in the cooking department, having most days used my creative energy to write. But it’s got to change, because I get tired of the same old stuff. Any great fall ideas for vegetable dishes?

On the reading front: NEWSFLASH! It’s now scientifically documented that reading literary fiction promotes emotional intelligence. Read all about it here. I understand from a psychologist friend that Eleanor Estes’ The Hundred Dresses (not mentioned in the article) was used in this study.

I recently received Colette Sewing Handbook as a gift. I’m loving it. It’s so nicely laid out, and already there are so many little details that I’m learning about the sewing process that I never knew before. It comes with five patterns.

In other completely random news, Trader Joe’s is giving me no money to say this, but I’ve found a couple of new-to-me great things there lately. Their Five Country Blend whole bean espresso is totally awesome, as good as Illy. And I found a Hungarian gruener veltliner wine (Floriana) that reminds us of minerally, grassy, Austrian ones we’ve had but can’t find here. In our TJ’s, it’s in the German wine section, but the shelf label is French, so it’s not so easy to find, but well, there you go. Good luck.

Have a great weekend! Oh, and I’ve been a bit more active on Instagram and Twitter lately, so meet me there if you want to see more of what I’ve been up to.

Favorite Craft Books for Kids, Old and New

Craft Books for Kids

I love looking at craft books almost as much (okay, sometimes more) than crafting. In my house growing up, my mom and I always called these “make it/ do it” books, after two of our favorites, her own McCall’s Giant Make It Book (1953) and my Great Big Golden Make It & Do It Book (1980).

Many happy hours were spent poring over those pages. Most of the projects I never made or did, but just knowing that I could, imagining them, and looking over the pictures and instructions was (is) very satisfying.

Kids' Craft Books

I still love make it/ do it books, and in the stack are a few more recent favorites.

Made to Play  by blogger Joel Henriques. This book, given to us by a good friend, inspired our cardboard factory last summer. The author’s blog is madebyjoel.

Sticks & Stones & Ice Cream Cones by Phyllis Fioratta is another childhood favorite.

Oodles to Do with Loo-Loo and Boo by Denis Roche, a Vermont College friend of mine. This one has great illustrations and fun characters who guide you throughout as you make arts and crafts with easy-to-find and recyclable items.

Things to Do Book by Jennie Maizels. I love, love this concept for a book. Each illustrated spread has a theme (“in the car,” “in the garden”) picturing various activities in a particular setting. There are little flaps to lift that are like secret treasures. In concept, it’s a little like a Richard Scarry book with activities to do instead of labels. Perfect for those “I don’t have anything to do!” moments.

I also remember loving A Boat, A Bat, and A Beanie: Things to Make from Newspaper from the library back in the day. It shows you how to make great stuff (sandals! a wig!) out of, yes, newspaper. I think I need to order a copy of it. I love getting copies of old library books I used to check out over and over.

Below: It was so well-loved, we had to re-cover mom’s copy of the McCall’s Giant Make It Book:

Recovered Book

Here are a few of the inside pages:

Vintage Craft Book

Vintage Children's Craft Book

Vintage Children's Craft Book

Ach! There’s just something about these glowing 50s illustrations that just gets me every time. Everything looks so fun! The clothes so quaint! I just want to jump into the pictures, like Mary Poppins’ chalk drawings.

There’s a little video about the McCall’s book here.

What about you? Do you have any favorite craft books of your own, or do your kids? I think craft books make great gifts.

For more kid craft posts, click here.

Hope you have a great weekend. I’m off to the Carolinas conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Lucky for me, it’s right here in town.