Sixth Birthday Gift: Lord of the Rings Peg Dolls


My little guy turns 6 in a few days. I’ve been making gifts and planning his party. Here’s a sneak-peek of one gift I’ve made. Shhh! Don’t tell him.




Do you recognize the characters? I’ve painted a set of nine peg dolls to look like the Fellowship of the Ring characters. Gandalf’s hat is made out of sculpey clay. He just didn’t look like Gandalf to me without a hat. I’m pretty happy with these. I need to do a bit of touch up work and then varnish them. Think I should make Gollum, too? I think I might, if I have time.

Another day this week, I’ll share the another gift I’ve been working on.

Growth and Change


I try not to get too sentimental about my children growing up. They grow. They are made to. They strive and learn and change and discover and grow every day, with or without my consent. And I approve. Most of the time I am too busy being astounded and amazed by their leaps of intelligence, judgement, compassion, and understanding, and feats of strength and skill to be the least bit sad about their not being babies anymore.

These are pants and shorts and pajamas that my mother and I have for Asher to wear. They were sewn for him and made with love (and in my case, with mistakes and a fair amount of learning frustration). They are all too small for Asher now, and I have sent them on their merry way to another sweet boy (and his baby sister) who may get some further use out of them. They are not the first set of handmades to be passed along, and they certainly won’t be the last. Growth and change are guaranteed.

Nevertheless, I was sentimental enough to take a photo before passing them on. These clothes are loved, soft and colorful, and unique in the world. They are special not only because they once covered my sweet son’s soft skin, but because they were created with loving hands and clever tools and eyes for detail. They are special because they were made first in our hearts before they came to be objects in the world.

May they be useful in the years to come, until they are once again outgrown.


Handmade Birthday Gifts for Asher

Mama-made Alphabet Stones

Today is my baby boy’s fifth birthday. I am over the moon with excitement for him. I live for this stuff, I think. Anyway, over the last several days, I’ve been scrambling to make some gifts for him.

Mama-made Alphabet Stones

I made these alphabet stones for him using rocks from my yard and my paints. I got this idea from a photo I saw on Pinterest, which I believe is originally from this blog. I am grateful for the fun idea. Asher is five, so I don’t know how or if he will connect with these letters yet, but even if he doesn’t, they are still fun to hold and look at. I think manipulating them to make short words will be fun, and that’s all that matters at this age.

Mama-made Alphabet Stones

Each stone has its lowercase letter on the other side.

Mama-made Dragon Hat

Thanks to a lot of help from my mother and her nifty, first-class serger, I made this fleece dragon hat and a matching pair of mittens. I’ve never done anything like this before and the mittens in particular were challenging for me. But a more accomplished sewist (“sewer” just doesn’t look that great even though it’s correct, does it?) would have an easy time of it, I think. I just traced Asher’s hands and made a paper pattern, adding a good 1/2 inch for the seem. I also made the wrist portion wider to ensure that he could get his hand into the mittens. Fortunately, fleece is slightly stretchy and it’s pretty dreamy to sew because it doesn’t fray, so you don’t have to be as nitpicky as with other fabrics. BUT—like I said, we serged these! And my goodness, what a dream of a machine that is! This was the very first time my mama let me touch her serger. (Machines and I don’t always see eye to eye.)

Mama-made Dragon Hat and Mittens

OK, the back of the mittens look best. Anyway, he went off to school this morning wearing them!

Crayon Holder for Asher's 5th Birthday

And finally, here is a crayon holder I made for his brand-new birthday block crayons. We have block crayons in this house, but technically they belong to Lucas. I thought Asher might like to have his own and a special place to keep them safe. (I don’t know if he WILL keep them safe, but with the crayon holder’s pockets he COULD.)

Crayon Holder for Asher's 5th Birthday

This item has 22 wee pockets, with six that are empty now so he could add to it later. And to be honest, I still have to sew a ribbon tie on one end of the crayon holder before I can wrap this up. So, I’d better go do that.

Today is for writing, wrapping, baking a cake, and baking a class set of muffins for tomorrow’s Kindergarten celebration. Tonight we’ll have a small family celebration with Asher’s choice of dinners—Daddy’s stir fry with Chinese noodles.

Halloween Fairy’s Gifts

Gifts from the Halloween Fairy

Frankly, it took my children a while to remember to put their candy out for the Halloween Fairy. I didn’t mind, I know she’s busy; I have it on good authority that fairies are often overworked and running a tad behind schedule. I knew the kids would remember eventually. In the intervening eight days since Halloween, my boys have remembered that there was Halloween candy in the house and asked for a piece exactly twice.

Last night we sorted through the loot. So. Much. Candy. What’s with people these days? Whole Snickers bars? Full-size Hershey’s bars? I watched both of my kids struggle with this candy sacrifice more than ever before. Lucas had been saying he was going to give up 100 percent of his candy to get “something really good.” (Talk like that makes a mama proud, but a Halloween Fairy somewhat nervous.) When it came down to it, though, giving up the candy was harder than he expected. He had to be coaxed to put the bulk of the candy into the sacrifice bowl for her. I do not use the word sacrifice lightly here.

Asher was more than a little bewildered about the whole thing. I think he probably doesn’t remember doing this in past years, being only 4 and a half. And now, he’s got all this candy (my Asher has a sweet tooth) and we’re asking him to do what? Are we crazy? It’s a good thing he is so accustomed to following his brother’s lead in all things.

Gifts from the Halloween Fairy

Don’t worry, there is plenty of candy left over to be doled out on special occasions or for a reward for some great behavior. I’m not above using this as an incentive to get Lucas to practice piano.

Gifts from the Halloween Fairy

So, our tradition is to leave the Halloween candy out in a bowl on the back porch for the Halloween Fairy to come and get it. The boys went to sleep last night with this image in mind. This morning we were awakened by Asher’s jumping onto our bed with freezing fingers and shouting, “The Fairy came! The Halloween Fairy came and there’s something outside for us. Can we get it? Can we?” I repeat, freezing fingers. So we layabout parents got up and the kiddos ripped into their presents in the dawn light.

Gifts from the Halloween Fairy

Amazing! A book about a young master of martial arts (first in a series) and a ninja bear for Lucas. A rainbow dragon and book about dragons for Asher. I have assured them that they can both enjoy the dragon book when Lucas asked about it; Lucas is keen to “study dragons.” To our delight, both toys were played with this morning. Apparently the ninja has a magic sword and the dragon can breath fire and shoot lightning from its tail.

This Moment: Some Handmade Play

This Moment: Some Handmade Play

Inspired by SouleMama {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Christmas Projects: Gift Tags

Although I used to go all out when wrapping gifts, in recent years I’ve become … let’s say …  somewhat busier and lacking time for such frippery. In fact, lately, my answer to labeling packages at Christmas has been simply to pull out my black or red Sharpie and scribble directly onto the wrapping paper. Frankly, it kills me to spend money on this stuff.

I’m still lacking time, but this week I had a sick boy home for two days with a fever, and whenever that happens he begs me to come up with things for him to do to pass the time at home while I’m working.

So, we made some simple gift tags from recycled (repurposed?) paper. Not fancy. Not fine. But fun, useful, and it couldn’t be easier.

Gift Tags Project: Repurposed Grocery Bag Gift Tags Project: Repurposed Grocery Bag

Yep. It’s a paper grocery sack, cut roughly into squares and stamped with my two Christmas stamps. My mother-in-law gave me the snowman when she retired from teaching third grade. The tree stamp is one we bought to make gifts about five years ago. I love it when we can do a project without buying anything new.

Gift Tags Project

I’m not sure why, but I love the paper that grocery sacks are made from. Maybe it was all those years I covered my schoolbooks with them. Anyway, if you follow the folds of your grocery sack, you’ll basically cut squares. It wasn’t at all important to me that they be perfectly square or all the same size, or anything like that.

Stamping Gift Tags

Lucas did a great job stamping these. They need only a “To:” and a “From:” added, don’t you think? (There’s a job for my Sharpie!) If you wanted to, you could get fancier and paint on some glitter or something.

Gift Tags

Voilà! We’re one tiny step closer to being ready for Christmas.

Sewing Clam Diggers

This summer I’ve worked on another bunch of clam diggers for Asher, more because I need the sewing practice than he needs the pants.  I’m now working on the fifth pair, every once in a blue moon. If I had a solid free hour, I’d finish them. Here are two pairs that are done. I made a golden pair with yellow stars, too. Too bad “lellow” isn’t his favorite color anymore.

Clamdiggers for Asher

We match colorful pants/clam diggers/shorts with tees like these to make the perfect play clothes for little boys. But aren’t all clothes play clothes when you’re little?

Outfitting Asher: Tees

Magical Rainbow Pony

Knitted Magical Rainbow Pony

My mama, who knits (generously and prolifically) very practical and beautiful things like sweaters, socks, baby blankets, and scarves, asked me, “So, what’s with all the knitted animals?” My answer is, “Because they’re small and cute and fast, and I can justify making them because I have kids (even though my kids don’t play with them). Moreover, I’m practicing simple/basic knitting skills like increasing and decreasing, following a pattern, and counting. Prerequisite skills for knitting anything that might be worn by someone.

In the case of this pony, the pattern (from Toymaking with Children by Freya Jaffke) was just slightly different from the donkey I knitted in June, so I was curious about that. I had the rainbow wool yarn from a felting project I did a couple of years ago. So, why not? Haven’t you always wanted a rainbow pony? I have!

Another Knitted Kitty

Second Knitted Kitty: Right

Yep. I made another one—my second knitted cat. This one is going to live elsewhere as soon as she’s old enough.

  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2018 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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