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I guess they missed me. : )

A few pictures of things we’ve done over the last few months.

For Valentine’s Day we made corner bookmarks like this lighthouse one I made for our dear neighbor E. I cut 2.5 inch corners off of envelopes (red ones left over from Christmas cards were especially useful) and then attached 2 inch triangles of a different color or patterned paper to each side. The kids had fun mixing up colors and decorating with stamps, stickers and cut-outs from magazines and catalogs. We found the nursery/seed catalogs and the quilting fabric catalogs to be gold mines for this activity. You can find instructions for a similar corner page marker here at Tally’s Treasury.

lighthouse collage corner page marker bookmark

Then we stuck the bookmarks into these Valentine cards. I think I made up this sentiment myself, but it’s possible I heard it somewhere. In any case I found some free clip art online and made this card. I printed out enough copies for all the students in both of the kids classes and they colored and decorated as desired, making each one special for the recipient.

all occasion card for readers books world bookmark earth

I’m including links to the printable pdf version here if you’d like to use it, just print on cardstock or regular paper, fold in half and in half again. original Valentine’s Card. And the write-your-own-occasion card pictured above.

knitting a tapered skinny scarf with novelty yarn

I knit several skinny scarves out of novelty yarn. This is the sort of yarn that looks pretty or fun but you really don’t know what to do with, or at least I don’t. But I finally figured something out that is easy to make and looks good. With extra large needles, I knit loose garter stitch scarves about 3″ wide with a single ball of novelty yarn, about 75 yards, for a long accessory scarf that can wrap around the neck and hang down fashionably. These won’t keep you warm at all but they are fun to wear. Rather than making a blunt end I figured out how to increase and decrease to make tapered ends that give a little extra finishing touch. My construction notes are on my project page in Ravelry.

hand knit skinny scarf with tapered ends novelty yarn

rock candy crystals homemade kitchen science

The subject of gems and crystals came up and on the way to explaining how crystals grow, I decided we needed to do an experiment. This falls under the category of what I call kitchen science—real experiments you can do with stuff you already have around the house. Even though I know I’ve done this before, it took two tries to produce a sugar solution that grew several of these rock candy sticks. I used the instructions from Our crystals did not retain either the flavoring or coloring that we added to the solution. Nobody complained when it came time to eat them.

smashed pansy bookmark flower ink

I cannot remember why we did this but we had fun. The girl and I picked pansies out of the garden to make some smashed flower art. The colored juices from the plant are transferred to soft paper by force. I used some bookmark sized pieces of heavy paper left over from another project. We used a regular hammer, sandwiching the flower face down on the paper between a piece of paper towel on top and wax paper on the bottom, on top of a scrap piece of wood. I cut the green fleshy calyx off the pansy with sharp scissors after positioning it on the paper. You could use this technique to make cards, placecards for a summer meal, or even art to frame. Get more details on how to make prints from botanicals from this great post by Wendy of Build/Craft/Make/Bake. Too bad I read her post after we did this project but there is plenty of summer and plenty of blooms yet to try!

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I realize it has been a long time since I last posted. An obvious reason is my preoccupation with a certain little boy. It’s hard to craft or cook with one hand while bouncing up and down. There have also been times when we have been crafting but I haven’t taken step-by-step pictures because that does take a bit more time. Having two children who really enjoy “making” means that most of my projects are done with their “help”. And sometimes it’s not worth interrupting the rhythm of their creativity just because I might want to post the results to my blog.


This seems like a good time to remember why I keep this blog. This is mainly a personal record of the things I make with my hands. I used to make thing and then give them away without having taken pictures or adequate notes. Because I rarely follow instructions, I found it difficult to reproduce my creations, or even to remember even vaguely what I had done. So now I try to make a record of most projects. I also try to add links to references or pictures I might have found inspirational or helpful. I often refer to my own blog to remind myself how to do something I’ve done before, or to get started on a new project with roots in a previous project.

I’ve made this journal public because sometimes people ask me how I made something or when or why and it’s nice to have all my notes in one place to refer to or even pass on a link to a post. Because the blog is mainly for my own use, my pictures are not perfect, descriptions may be sketchy on one project, lengthier on another. Some projects may include patterns or tutorials, others may just be a photo reminder. Please feel free to e-mail me if you have questions about something in particular. I do try to answer all e-mails and I do like to provide more information when I have the time and know there is interest. I am constantly surprised and touched that people are interested in my creative process. And I am always happy to hear that you are motivated by a blog post to try something new yourself. Thank you all for reading and thanks especially to those who take the time to leave me a note!

Some pictures of the yard in spring bloom—the perfect sprig of lilac flowers, a chive blossom complete with spider silk lines, Solomon’s seal bending over the hostas on the north wall.

lilac in bloom chive flower edible

Solomons seal and variegated hosta foundation planting

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raised bed garden

grew these:

home grown roma tomatoes

and became this:

tomato sauce from home grown garden tomatoes

About three times over the course of the last few months. All from three roma tomato plants. I was also able to throw in our own parsley and chives into several batches of tomato sauce. And I even added some puréed squash to the last batch. Next year I’ll be looking for one of those handcranked tomato presses. The zucchini and the cucumbers didn’t produce much, maybe the heat? And an unknown visitor kept sampling the beans, but otherwise we had very little problem with pests. Fresh mint and dill made it to the table quite a few times, mmmm.

We haven’t had a really hard frost but enough to wilt most of the tender garden. The parsley will produce until it gets buried in snow. This is the first year we’ve had a garden in several years and I’m looking forward to next year already.


It’s been several years since we’ve had a vegetable garden. Not since we moved in fact. So this spring as I was moving perennials around, I was also contemplating where to put in a raised bed. I decided to remove a tired flower bed that had been taken over by primroses. They were quite a sight in bloom but not so much to look at the rest of the summer and a black hole for balls, toys and the feet and even backsides of children running through the yard. I gave away at least 50 bags of the plants through our local freecycle exposing a large area of dirt. So when we decided on the spot for the raised bed, Rich removed the sod before putting the wooden frame in place and I transplanted the chunks of sod to the site of the former flower bed. It worked wonderfully.

digging up sod for a raised garden bed

Two months later we are enjoying the fruits of our labor, a few purchased seedlings and a number of gifted transplants (and a yard+ of loam/compost). The blackberries came from a few old plants barely visible among the brambles at the edge of the woods behind the house. We’ve also enjoyed fresh dill, chives and greens this summer. I’m waiting on more cukes, zukes, ‘maters and squash to ripen in the coming weeks. The peppers, alas, have shown little inclination to do anything. I may pot them and bring them inside.



I don’t have a lot of pictures to show for it just yet but I’ve been spending a lot of time bent over a shovel out in the yard. I’m going to share with you the best gardening tip ever, received from my mother, who doesn’t think she’s creative. Divide hostas using a cordless saw. Now if that’s not creative thinking, what is??

dividing hostas with a cordless reciprocating saw

Of course I didn’t have the foresight to strip the sod out of the desired planting area beforehand. When the kids (my two and one of the neighbor’s) asked to help plant the chunks of hosta I just had to dig the holes as fast as I could and let them plunk the hostas into the ground. I also received some Solomon’s seal from a freecycler and put those in behind, also some upright phlox which I hope will flower white. I do plan on removing the rest of the sod and filling in with some lily of the valley that are not happy in their current location, and perhaps some white tulips and then a really short groundcover if necessary. Maybe just mulch. Anyway, the north end of the house, once bare, is now beginning to take on my vision of a green and white shade garden.

hostas and solomon's seal


last remnants of snow in the shade
last patch of snow in the shade

bulb shoots poking up through the soil
bulb sprouts poking up through the soil

our neighbor’s cat lazing in the sun
cat lazing in the sun

newfallen and weathered pine cones brought home to grace our table
newfallen and weathered pine cones

two drakes chasing a hen on the river, not interested in our bread crumb offerings
two drakes chasing a hen ducks on the water

It’s too soon to say we’ll have no more snow this year but there are certainly signs of spring all around. The birds are noisier, the squirrels are running for fun, dogs are out with their people, deer have been spotted slipping through the neighborhood. We are spending more time outside, pretending that our bare hands are not too cold to throw the ball one more time before the sun goes down.

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skeletonized maple leaf against the snow

We haven’t had any new snow for quite a while. A few light dustings. Still the wind blows and animals leave their footprints.

skeletonized maple leaf and animal footprints in the snow rabbit

A tiny maple leaf, skeletonized by time and weather. Could those be rabbit footprints?

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mushroom in the leaves blue boots splashing in a puddle of leaves last zinnia of summer

A mushroom (or toadstool according to our neighbor E.), blue boots splashing in a puddle, one last zinnia of summer

autumn leaves on the wet pavement one green leaf in a puddle of autumn leaves white fungus growing out of a stump

leaves on the wet pavement, one last green leaf, fungus growing on a stump

autumn road into the old cemetery squirrel sitting up on haunches eating an acorn

looking down the lane into the old cemetery, a little friend getting fat

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This cut-and-color activity was originally created to accompany a lesson on the parable of the mustard seed (Mark 4:30). I found the wonderful black and white illustrations on an educational site allowing use of the images for personal or educational use. I chose pairs of young and adult animals and plants that have fairly different looking forms.

random-charm's cut-and-color matching game, young and adult animals and plants

I did this activity with several kids ages 4-7 and it was challenging enough to all of them to make and to play. If you are making these with more than one child in the same house, use different colors of cardstock for the backing so that each child will know which set is theirs. You can play at least two different games with these cards and I’m sure they will spark interesting conversations, walks outdoors and field trips! Enjoy!

2 page PDF 5.5 MB download

random-charm's cut-and-color matching game, young and adult animals and plants random-charm's cut-and-color matching game, young and adult animals and plants

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Nasturtiums planted by the boy, too red to be real.
red nasturtiums

Our own peapod clinging valiantly to a brave corn stalk.
young pea pod

Running for joy across the steps of the old meetinghouse.

One picket out of place.
one picket out of place


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salad greens growing in a hanging planter basket

I started container gardening when we moved to our first apartment in Maine. We had a small balcony that got just enough sun for me to grow a few tomato and pepper plants on the railing. I enjoyed how clean and easy this was, no bugs to combat, no bending over. When we moved into a house, Rich built a raised bed and we had several gardens there. That was nice too but I still found it really convenient to grow our salad greens in planters on the front doorstep where I could just snip a salad without putting on my shoes.

This is our first summer in the new house and while I had really hoped to put in a vegetable garden it just hasn’t happened. In hindsight it’s probably better that we didn’t as here we are approaching July and we’ve had about three days of sunshine.

But I did start some salad greens in this hanging basket. I had the seeds and I had the basket and the hooks were still stuck in the ground where they got “planted” on moving day. I should have planted both baskets for a more frequent harvest, I still could given the cool weather here in Maine. But the rain-loving slugs and snails that have been eating everything on the ground haven’t bothered my salad greens at all! Salad greens don’t need a deep container and once the leaves are 3-4″ tall you can harvest once a week or so and they will continue to send up new leaves as long as it doesn’t get too hot. You can even move the baskets or planters around!


One of our favorite walking spots since we moved to Maine is Wolf’s Neck Woods State Park, only minutes from downtown Freeport, home to L.L.Bean which is a sight to see in and of itself. The park trails wind through the woods and down to the rocky shore. The girl struggled to keep up with the boy as they raced up and down the trails past the storm-worn roots of a downed tree, stopping occasionally to check on tiny wild flowers and spy squirrels, chipmunks and birds.

wooded trail in Maine storm-worn roots of a downed tree
purple wild flowers

Reaching the shore, we looked out on a few of the many islands of Casco Bay. Hopping along the rocks, we found tiny shrimp swimming in little pools, barnacle-encrusted shells and tiny periwinkles traveling slowly across the rocks.

on the rocks at Wolf's Neck barnacles on a mussel shell
periwinkles clinging to a rock

My favorite view:

Wolf's Neck Woods State Park

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marigold flower in a paper cone hung on a doorknob

This showed up on our doorknob last week, courtesy of one of the neighborhood kids. I don’t know what the little blue guy represents exactly but the cone was addressed to the boy and the girl and held a single marigold plant with it’s rootball wrapped in aluminum foil. The kids were thrilled and we planted it right away. I thought it was an awfully cute idea and how neighborly!

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. . . in the back yard. We have an empty lot behind us which is kind of nice as it gives our shallow in-town lot the illusion of depth. But let me tell you, there are some strange wild things back there. How about these ghostly looking ferns?

ghostly ferns creepy plant

The creepy plant on the right is a “magic beanstalk” according to the girl. What she does not know is that it is going to grow up into a huge monstrous semi-woody, take-over-anything-in-its-path weed. And since they poked their little red heads up they seem to grow inches everyday. I don’t know what they are or how to combat them but I know we need to come up with a plan fast!

Here’s something prettier: vintage daffodils massed in front of the house. According to our sweet neighbor across the street, they have been here about 50 years. My guess is they were planted by the original owners of the house.


And here are the delicate unfurling ferns that were the inspiration for my fiddlehead pendant.

 young ferns unfurling

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There are a number of traditional signs of spring – crocuses, robins, etc. Since we’ve lived in Maine, one of my personal signs of spring is the appearance of fiddleheads. These are the tightly coiled baby ferns coming up through last year’s blanket of left over leaves. In our old house we had lots of woods surrounding the house and most years we had lovely swathes of ferns spring up in the dappled sun under the barely budding trees.

fiddleheads just coming up

Now that we’ve moved to a house in town I thought we’d left behind this fascinating miracle of spring. I was so excited to discover these tiny fiddleheads just barely peeking out of the dirt at the edge of the trees. Those tall green leaves are some sort of bulb, maybe daffodils?? Usually the fiddleheads are green but I’ve seen them in a coppery color occasionally too. In the above picture you can see the combination of light green stem and light brown tiny feathery parts that will open up into green fronds.

I chose to incorporate a background of a fully opened fern frond which I made by drawing with colored pencils on shrink plastic. I then formed the copper wire into various sizes of fiddlehead shapes and glued them to the baked shrink plastic rectangle, finishing with a small loop of leather for a bail. I like the combination of copper and green with the dark background. I wish I could have taken a clear picture with the sun shining through the pendant to show the full effect but my photography skills were not up to the task. So I’ve photographed it on an envelope for scale.

fiddlehead pendant made of copper wire and shrink plastic

edited: I did it. Here it is in the sunny window!

fiddlehead fern copper wire and shrink plastic pendant

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