Friday, May 20, 2011

puppet play: diana schoenbrun guest post!

If you're anything like me, you have any number of stray socks and mittens lying around the house that have sadly lost their mates. In the new book Puppet Play20 Puppet Projects Made with Recycled Mittens, Towels, Socks, and More, author Diana Schoenbrun shows her readers how to make super cute and easy puppets from these and other recycled materials.

Since many crafters are interested in the creative process behind a craft book like this, Diana is here at the honeybee blog today to tell us how she came up with the inspiration for her book.

PS--if you'd like to try out a couple of sample projects from Puppet Play, including the quirky striped elephant puppet on the book cover, please visit the links below!

Crazy Cat Puppet
Betty the Elephant Puppet

From Diana Schoenbrun:

I came up with the idea for Puppet Play a few years ago.

I had taught a puppet and playwriting classes for children ages five to seven. They wrote a short play with characters and created puppets from materials found around the house. I enjoyed making puppets with the children and wanted to take this idea further. Why not use gloves, mittens, scarves, towels and other materials to build toy puppets for playtime? I wanted the materials to be easily accessible and found at home. I tried to incorporate found objects and repurpose other materials. Of course, it helps if you are a pack rat and save things for a rainy day.

Here’s some fun background information about the book. I used a green bandana from hiking trips for the frog puppet. Some cans from my leftover meals were used for a Robot puppet. The Roslyn Raccoon puppet is based on my sister. The original book title was “Take Those Stinky Socks Off!”

Check out the past blog tour stops below. Learn about how I store my supplies at Whip Up, check out how I came up with ideas at SewMamaSew, and how my mom influenced me at Oh My Handmade. Leave a message on my blog and Puppet Play Facebook page and I will choose one winner on May 27th to receive a free book.

Diana Schoenbrun is the author of Beasties: How to Make 22 Mischievous Monsters That Go Bump in the Night and Puppet Play: 20 Puppet Projects Made with Recycled Mittens, Towels, Socks, and More. Visit her online on her websiteblog, and Facebook page.

Other stops on Diana's blog tour:

Craft Test Dummies
Cute Everything
Progressive Pioneer
Pink and Green Mama
Craft Gossip

Photographs courtesy of Diana Schoenbrun and Andrews McMeel Publishing.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

peacocks in the park

Well, it's been a busy few weeks for us with a guest in town and all other kinds of goings on...I hope you've all been doing well!

Here are a few photos from an outing to the Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Garden last weekend. I did take photos of various flora, but I was mostly taken by the many peacocks that were just wandering around the grounds unattended. They made the funniest noises all day long and didn't seem to be afraid of people at all...except once my husband got too close to one when he wasn't paying attention and the peacock turned and fanned all its tail feathers out at him in a big huff. Touchy, touchy!

Please be sure to stop by tomorrow, when author Diana Schoenburn stops by the blog to do a guest post. She'll be talking about her adorable book Puppet Play, which you can preview by clicking on the link.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

birthday weekend

A few snapshots from the weekend. Lovely cards, a panama hat and clothes from a clever husband (he had the dress made and screen-printed for me at one of my favorite shops!), a beautiful brunch at José Andrés Tres complete with mimosas and bloody marys, and sweet presents from dear friends.

Hope you've had a wonderful weekend, too!

Monday, April 25, 2011

unexpected easter

My husband has been away for three weeks...and since I actually like my husband, that's a pretty long time. He was away for both his birthday and for Easter, so my rather sad dinner last night consisted of two slices of toast and some tea and chocolate biscuits.

It was therefore a lovely surprise to go outside just now and find a little present hanging on the door. Our former neighbor left a small basket filled with pysanky eggs, fun clips, and a large nut-covered penuchi that I'm pretty sure she made herself.

It was such a sweet and so thoughtful thing for her to do...and certainly teaches me to try and leave the house every once in awhile.

mini cake bunting

These are terrible, terrible photos of something I made that I actually really liked.

I've always wanted to try making mini cake bunting, so I decided to host a swap for it, thinking it would force me to commit to actually doing it. My partner crafty cupcake likes a lot of feminine and vintage things, so I decided to make hers out of pretty printed fabric, vintage lace, beads, and vintage flowers.

The problem was that I've been so distracted lately that I left the project until pretty late in the game and didn't have the chance to take proper photos of it! Silly me. Oh well, I'm glad I have some photographic record of it...and I suppose I could actually make myself one sometime, too.

Friday, April 22, 2011

calling cards, squared

I received a lovely set of name cards from my partner for the Laura's Old-Fashioned Calling Cards swap that I hosted.

My partner catsandbutterflys made me a dozen cards printed on nicely textured beige card stock in a rather unusual square shape and stamped with a pretty border. Best of all, the cunning little images are color plates from a decoupage book from the 1970s that she carefully cut out and pasted, which of course is a perfect choice for someone who enjoys vintage as much as I do. I wouldn't have thought to make squared off cards, but my partner explained that though the shape was somewhat unconventional, she thought it showed off the images better...and I absolutely agree.

I love seeing how different people interpret the same idea. Aren't these cards beautiful? I can't wait to use them as gift enclosures or swap cards!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

story-inspired recipes

One of the great pleasures of reading for me is having the chance to do some vicarious eating. My husband and I often read at bedtime, and we've discovered that many of the books I read mention food but very few of his ever do. (Hm!) My earliest memory of food in books was Ramona Quimby talking about how her father used to bring home a white paper sack of gummy bears as a treat, and of course reading about Mrs. James Wilder's groaning feasts just encouraged this fixation on food further.

As such, it was only natural that our little children's swap group would do a trade for recipes inspired by children's books. I printed mine at home and included recipes for Anne Shirley's raspberry cordial, Ma Ingalls' vanity cakes, and Mary Poppins' thin, crisp gingerbread cookies.

I've always loved the anecdote in Mary Poppins when the children are taken to a gingerbread shop, where they choose cookies wrapped in paper gilt stars. Later on that night, Jane and Michael see Mary standing on a tall ladder pasting the silver stars to the sky with a bucket of glue...amazing! If you watch the film and pay attention to the scene when Mary and the children are headed out for errands, there's a mention of stopping by the gingerbread store, although they don't actually show it in the movie.

I also included a recipe for Chicken and Almond Mousse, a recipe I adapted from the Ginnie and Geneva Cookbook. The Ginnie and Geneva series is one of those gems like the Betsy-Tacy books that I'm surprised more people haven't read. Set in the idyllic 1940s and 50s, the books were similar to the Beverly Cleary books in that they are just everyday stories about a girl growing up and her place in the world. Along the way, Ginnie discovers a love for the kitchen in Ginnie and the Cooking Contest  and runs into various trials and tribulations with deciding what recipe she wants to submit.

When I read the book, I dearly wanted to taste what's described as a "rich, succulent concoction" with "tender white meat of chicken, whipped cream, olives, almonds, and flavoring." It wasn't until 20 years later that I discovered that the author had written a cookbook, and I was so happy to find the recipe for chicken loaf in it. I've posted a slightly altered version below in case you'd like to try it out.

Ginnie Fellows' Scrumptious Chicken and Almond Mousse


3 egg yolks
1 cup chicken broth
unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
1 chicken breast, poached and shredded
1/2 cup almond flakes, lightly toasted
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 pint heavy cream
pimento olives, roughly chopped


Beat the egg yolks in a medium heat-proof bowl with a whisk. Add in the chicken broth.

Bring a pot of water (filled 1/3 of the way) to boil and set your bowl on top for a double boiler effect. Cook the mixture until it thickens, stirring every so often.

Dissolve gelatin packet into a small dish with a tablespoon of cold water. Take your egg mixture off the heat and stir in the gelatin. Add the chicken to the mixture, and season with salt and paprika. Let the mixture cool to room temperature using an ice bath, stirring every now and then so it does not set.    

Using a stand or electric mixer, whip the cream until it’s thick and firm and fluffy. Gently fold the cream into the egg mixture along with the chopped olives, but don’t mix too much or the whipped texture will be destroyed. Pour the mousse into a loaf pan sprayed lightly with vegetable oil.

Chill the mousse for several hours until very firm. To unmold, run a knife around the edges of the pan and turn it carefully over onto a serving plate. 

Adapted from the Ginnie and Geneva Cookbook by Catherine Woolley.

This is a really delicious dish that's easy to do but elegant enough for company, and I highly recommend trying it if you're intrigued. With warm weather coming up, it'll be just the thing for a summer evening with a crisp salad and a glass of white wine. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

fairy tale scherenschnitte

As you may have noticed, I'm a devoted fan of the art of paper-cutting. I'm just a beginner myself, but I do enjoy trying out little projects here and there with my trusty knife.

For the fairy tale scherenschnitte swap I hosted recently, my partner mentioned her love of period films and dolls in her profile. This spoke of a certain sense of romance and whimsy to me, so I thought she might like the Cinderella image I came across.  I decided to do a simplified version of an Arthur Rackham silhouette from the early 1900s, cut out from textured white paper and mounted onto pink card stock. I had to add a couple little dabs of additional glue after I took this photo, but overall I think it turned out pretty well (though perhaps could use more added detail in the interior space?) and it's now on its way to my partner in Malaysia. It looks like Cinderella and her prince are having a grand old time at the ball, doesn't it?

I have to apologize for my absence lately, too. I've been a little distracted between lots of good books to read and a little project that I'm launching soon, but I do have photos saved up to share that will hopefully get posted without too much delay.

Monday, April 4, 2011

shopper alert: vintage circus cupcake papers

The circus is in town! Or it's at Michaels, anyway. One of the members of my cupcake toppers group alerted everyone to some super cute cupcake liners that have vintage circus designs. I pawed through a lot of displays by the baking section until I finally found them in the bargain bins at the unbelievable price of $1.50 per 75-count pack! They're adorable, and there are also matching treat bags, stickers, cards, mini journals, and rubber stamps too.

This is going to be great, because I just posted a Mary Poppins circus in the sky pendant necklace swap in our children's lit swap group that I'm very excited about. I can use the stamps and stickers and such to gussy up the package when the time comes. I think I might use a cupcake liner in a craft for a special somebody, too--I'll have to see. In the meantime, the rest go into the baking cupboard. You'd think we baked cupcakes all the time, but it's really just a few times a year. It's so hard to resist a pretty liner, though.

Friday, April 1, 2011

a poem for your pocket

April is National Poetry Month! And April 14 is Poem in Your Pocket Day, when you're encouraged to carry around a poem with you all day long.

I joined a swap recently in which you were to send a children's poem to your partner for this occasion, which is good timing since I recently found these amazing old Junior Classics books at a library sale for a dollar each. One of the books was a volume of Poetry for Young Readers, so I went through and chose "A Seal's Lullaby" by Rudyard Kipling and "The Moon's the North Wind's Cooky" by Vachard Lindsay, both of which I really liked. I also picked a funny Shel Silverstein poem called "How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes" since my partner loves his books.

I thought it'd be fun to make a mini accordian-style poetry book instead of sending just one poem, so I printed everything out onto nice stationery, glued extra end papers and pretty cardstock for covers, and sewed on a bit of ribbon to tie it together. I left a blank page in the middle so my partner can add her own poem if she likes, too! I like the idea of knowing someone will be carrying this with her all day long in a couple of weeks. It'll be fun to see the poem I receive in return, too.

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