Wednesday, September 30, 2009


This picture of my daughter's zinnias in my arms, was taken by my little boy.

How to Make Little Horse Chestnut Ships

These charming little boats are easy to make. They are an ephemeral toy. They are fun for a little while, and then they will get waterlogged and start to capsize. The lighthouse keeper will be very busy rescuing sailors after that.

We collected some horse chestnuts in the rain.

The children found some toothpicks, picked leaves of different kinds, and peeled the hulls off the chestnuts.

The hulls are soft on the inside, and you can push a toothpick mast in easily. If you are having trouble, a friend can help you with this part.

Make a sail out of a little leaf. A big leaf will make your ship turn over.

If it is a little windy, the ships will sail on a puddle.

If you can use a whole half of a hull, your boat will stay up better.

The quarter hulls tended to tip over when the wind blows hard.

A chestnut ship can be so beautiful, like the one this girl made.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award


Sara from the blog Farmama gave me the Kreativ Blogger Award yesterday. Hooray! Thank you, Sara! Click on the title of this post to visit her wonderful blog about raising a family on a tiny sustainable farm in the southwestern United States.

Here's what Kreativ Blogger Award recipients are supposed to do:

1. Copy the award to your site.

2.Link to the person from whom you received the award.

3. Nominate 7 other bloggers.

4. Link to those sites on your blog.

5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominate.

.....and you are also to list 7 things about yourself.

I haven't figured out how to link within my posts yet! Please click on the blogs below in my blog list on the right hand column.

Here are my Kreativ Blogger Award recipients:

Magic Onions http: //

Using wonderful photographs and two cute children, this blogger shows us a steady stream of creative nature crafts which young children can do. She also hosts a Friday Nature Table, where she invites visiting bloggers to link to their own nature crafts and posts about animals, plants, and bugs. She helps us nature bloggers to find one another. Thank you, Magic Onions!

Down in the Meadow

Suzanne, in South Africa, opens the door to the wonderful world of her home, to the celebrations, special meals, games, and sunlit home-centered activities of her family's days. She has a very special flair for creating a beautiful scene and probably should have her own magazine. I would subscribe!


Syrendell is the blog of a wonderful waldorf homeschooling family. This busy mother, Jennifer, provides an incredible wealth of ideas for educating the children through nature, creativity and art, stories and literature, natural toys, and special seasonal family celebrations. How do they do so much?


Every time I visit Nicole's site I am completely bowled over by the gorgeous photography and words which carry me away to a place of country fun and nature magic. I wish I had a book by this talented blogger. I would love to curl up by the fire and get carried away into her world.

Attic 24

Lucy's blog,which I recently discovered, is chock full of color and I go to it for my morning color vitamin. Her great photographs, her vibrant crochet work, and the threads she strands between different objects which share color bring me inspiration and joy, joy, joy.

5 Orange Potatoes

Another site with amazing photographs, 5 Orange Potatoes features enchanting child-made crafts and fascinating plant lore. A recent post showed how to make a tiny globe ornament terrarium of some of Shakespeare's plants. Very beautiful. I just recently found 5 Orange Potatoes and can't wait to see more.

Frontier Dreams

Another favorite new discovery, Nicole's Frontier Dreams makes me check in every day to see beautiful natural crafts, knitted stuff, waldorf inspiration, and cute little girls in prairie bonnets!

Seven Things About Me

I'm a portrait artist, and have been doing commissioned children's portraits for over twenty years. In recent years I have done series of children wearing costumes, and teens wearing their own individual daily costumes. I am now beginning a series of hand-colored lino prints of children playing.

Because of my husband's love, encouragement, and support, I get to make art everyday, and get to constantly learn and grow as an artist and crafter. I'm very lucky and I know it!

I love to watch my three children grow and develop through their own creativity and inventiveness. This is one of the most wonderful rewards of being a creative mother. Creativity is infectious.

It is also fascinating to watch what we parents pass on in other ways. One of the things I try to teach is "winging it", that is, improvising and figuring things out for yourself when you don't know how to do something.

I love to make things with children, and love to share what I know about nature with them.

I remember exactly what it felt like to be a child alone with a friend in the woods. We were explorers, survivors, pioneers, builders, inventors, and hunters. We were strong and independent and capable, and I think this is the way the woods make children feel if we can give them a chance to play there.

I find more and more that being in the woods or in the country or by the sea unwinds something inside of me, and brings me peace and joy. I need it more and more.

Acorn Pies is bringing many of things I love together in one place: children, families, nature, making toys, knitting, bugs, animals, plants, art, celebrations, the seasons, and stories. I feel my whole life becoming less compartmentalized and more integrated, and I love it!

How to Make a Comet Throw Toy

It is easy to make a wonderful throw toy for children. We call it a comet, and this is how you do it. You need some tough ribbon, some fabric, and some rice.

Cut a rectangle out of the fabric.

Lay three lengths of ribbon across one end of the fabric. Each piece of ribbon is about three or four feet long.

Pin and sew on two sides as marked, letting the ribbons hang out on the unfinished side. I used a sewing machine to sew. Sew and resew over the section holding the ribbon in place. It is going to get some rough treatment.

Now turn right side out, fill with rice through the open side, fold in the unfinished edges, and sew.

Time for some fun. You need a big open space away from buildings and trees. The children got the comet stuck on some play structures and even a roof. We were lucky to get it back down.



Throw some more! It's fun to play catch, keep away, and throw and chase. You can also use the comet to teach a tiny child to catch a ball. Because of the ribbon, it is easier to catch than a ball, and it won't bounce away.

Watch that comet go!


Giacomo's Toes

I had on a sweater this weekend, but this little friend of mine went barefoot on the beach, waded in the sea, and got all wet. We scurried home as the sun went down and turned on the heat to get warmed up. The wettest children took hot showers and everyone put on dry clothes. We snuggled in and gathered around the table for dinner as the sun went down, turning the sky pink and tangerine, and bringing a frosty feeling to the air. Fall is coming and I love it, as I love every season.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Fresh Air Fund

What kind of summer did you have?

Well, The Fresh Air Fund had a great summer, with 8,000 city children having a barefoot, outdoor summer experience with families all over! Consider being a host family or helping to fund the fun. If you would like to see a summer's worth of smiles, visit The Fresh Air Fund site and check out their new video montage of photos. Just click on the title of this post.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall Colors for Striped Hats

This is the time of year when knitters itch to be knitting again. The air is a little frosty at night. You are thinking of lighting the first fire in the fireplace. Soon you'll be wanting warm new hats for the children.

These three hats were designed for young boys. There are some grape tones, and some people consider purple a girl color, but I think the browns and strong oranges predominate and make them look masculine enough for a boy. All of these hats make me think of Fall days, changing leaves, playing outdoors, and pink cheeks. They are very warm and comfortable.

Pet Bugs: The Ant Lion

This is an ant lion. An ant lion is the larva of the ant lion lacewing. It lives in sandy places, where it digs a pit, and hides under the sand at the bottom of the pit, waiting for an ant to slide down. When the ant lion feels an ant struggling in the pit, it bumps the sand at the bottom, making little earthquakes. If the ant doesn't hurry up and climb out, the venomous pincers of the ant lion will grab the ant and pull it under.

It is safe for you to touch the ant lion. Just handle it carefully because it is a delicate little creature. It is fun to locate the pits of the ant lion in dry, sandy places, usually around anthills. You can catch an ant and bring the ant lion some dinner. Or you can gently, gently catch the ant lion and have a pet for a day.

First collect about four inches of some nice, dry sand in a flat plastic bowl. It the sides are see-through, you may be able to watch the ant lion if he is digging on the sides.

Put an ant into an ant lion pit to figure out where the ant lion is located. Gently scoop him up. You can use a plastic spoon. Sift the ant lion into his new house. You don't want to bury him in the sand. You can pick him up and have a close look if you want. He might be scared and play dead.

Now let him go into the bowl and put the bowl someplace where your baby brother or sister won't disturb it. You want to keep the bowl very still so that the ant lion will adjust and make a beautiful pit.

You must wait very patiently if you want to watch an ant lion dig a pit. There are five ant lions in this boy's bowl. If you look carefully you can see one of the pits in the sunshine on the right-hand side of the bowl. When he put some ants into the bowl, there were many little earthquakes going on as the ant lions hunted for their dinners. Once your ant lion has made a pit, try not to bump into the bowl. The ant lion's pit might collapse on him.

Don't keep your ant lion for more than about a day. After that it is time to release him to the wild where he can find his own food. Take the ant lion back to where you found him. Look at the ant lion on the left. He is back in his habitat and is digging down into the sand, backwards.

You can learn all about what kind of bugs make good pets by reading Sally Kneidel's book, "Pet Bugs: A Kid's Guide to Catching and Keeping Touchable Insects."

How to Finger Knit

Finger knitting is a good introduction to knitting with needles. It shows the basic vertical chain of stitches created as we knit row upon row. A fifth grade girl is going to demonstrate finger knitting, but with some one-on-one attention, a kindergarten boy or girl can learn how to finger knit, too, and they will be very proud of their new skill.

Choose a yarn which is thick. The yarn we used gets about 4.5 stitches per inch. I would prefer using an even thicker yarn, because it will make a neater chain.

Start by making a slip knot. If you already know how to make a slip knot, skip over this part. It is the trickiest part to teach with pictures!

Making a Slip Knot.
Start by looping the yarn over your finger. Wrap the end of the yarn around the long piece.

Push the end of the yarn through the loop you just formed. Hold onto the end and give a tug to tighten it a bit.

Now slide the knot up to your finger. That's a slip knot.

Finger Knitting: Loop the long end of your yarn over the end of your finger.

Pull the inside loop over the outside loop and off the end of your finger. This is a stitch.

Give the chain a little tug.

Repeat many times until you have a chain. What are you going to do with your chain? A chain can be a stuffed animal leash, a bracelet, a hair bow, a toy sword belt, a climbing rope for small dolls, or horse reins for playing pretend horses.

This girl decided to wear her chain in her hair. I have seen kindergarten boys wear their chains like head bands around their heads horizontally.

Now teach someone younger than you how to fingerknit, like the child in the picture below, who is age 7.