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Yes, I am going to go on as if this fun little imagination series of posts was not Rudely Interrupted by reality. So I’m sorry I’ve been gone but really; in the words of Han Solo “It’s not my fault.”

Imagination is a very powerful tool. So very powerful that it is important to remember to use it mindfully. Not carefully, imagination should be allowed to soar and swoop and go to places never before visited . . . but mindfully.

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Sam, Bangs & Moonshine is the story of a fisherman’s daughter Sam (Samantha) who has a expansive imagination. She tells people her mother is a mermaid, that she owns a kangaroo and she talks to her cat (Bangs) who understands and talks back.

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Sam spends her days riding in her dragon-drawn chariot and telling her friend Thomas to go to different places to search for the kangaroo (who’s always just stepped out).

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Her father tells Sam all the time to “talk real” and “stop all the moonshine”. Sam doesn’t listen much, she’s too busy playing imagining games.

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One day without thinking about it, she tells Thomas that the kangaroo went out to Blue Rock, which is far out in the harbor. A bad storm blows in and puts Thomas in terrible danger.

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Sam feels terrible and scared and tells her Father who rushes out into the storm and saves Thomas. Sam has learned a Valuable lesson about real and not-real. From now on she knows to use imagination in a mindful manner.

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The next day Sam’s father brings her a little animal he found on a banana boat while it was unloading. She says it’s a kangaroo, he says “No, it’s a gerbil.” She takes it over to Thomas who is very sick in bed and gives it to him.

This wonderful book shows us how vital it is to not lose sight of what’s around us while we are indulging in imaginative play. Don’t put yourself or others in danger, don’t forget that something is cooking on the stove, don’t forget to cage up the baby in the playpen so it can’t hurt itself, don’t ignore the baby if it needs a change or snack, and don’t sit on the dog/cat. But also do not forget to play around in your imagination, no matter how busy your everyday life gets. Make some time to play.

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I really like the illustrations in this book. The choice of doing them in pen and ink with ink washes and having only one other color (an olive green) really emphasizes that it’s the mind of the reader/imaginer that is populating this world.

Gosh, this has been a really herky-jerky post. I hope you have enjoyed Sam, Bangs & Moonshine any way. If you liked it enough to want a copy you can find a copy pretty easily on ebay or the net. I got mine years ago at a library sale — don’t you just love the library sales? So many books, so little space to put them in my little house.

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Imagination is so very powerful and it is a skill that requires practice and should be encouraged. Playing imagination games with simple things that would ordinarily be thrown away is one of the greatest pleasures of childhood. That is what today’s story is all about.

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Christina Katerina & the Box is all about the fact that little children just love cardboard boxes. It begins with a new refrigerator being delivered down the street from Christina’s house. Her mother is all in awe of the new appliance but all Christina can see is the box, which she promptly gloms onto.

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First (with some help from her Dad) she turns it into a castle . . .

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Where she plays happily until her friend in the neighborhood comes home from vacation. Then the box becomes a clubhouse.

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That lasts for while, then in a disagreement over club procedures her friend sits on the roof and squashes the box.

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So she makes it into a race car. That lasts until the box finally collapses; but Christina still won’t let her Mother throw away the box.

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She colors it to make a mansion floor.

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Where everybody has a grand party. After the party her friend cleans up and the mansion floor gets wet and disintegrates. Raking up the box remains Christina’s Mother is glad that the box adventures are over.

But wait, Christina’s friends Mother just got a new washer and dryer . . .

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So off they go on an ocean voyage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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is a cute book in the vein of the Brambley Hedge books. The main difference between the two series is that the Foxwood books include different types of animals living in the community instead of the all mice residents of Brambley Hedge.

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The Foxwood titles were released as small individual titles and then later as two big collections of stories. This is one of the smaller books. I picked it up because I love little anthromorphic animals, what a shocker. The illustrations are really cute and I love the style. Also all the different little animals.

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Like these hedgehogs at the beginning of Treasure. That stone stove is incredible. Take a look at momma hedgehogs prickles sticking through her hat — how precious is that?

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This series definitely came after the Brambley books; proof of that is clearly shown in the jars of jam that are so ubiquitous in the “mouse books”. That aside, the Foxwood books have their own charm and the stories are fun and interesting. The settings are adorable.

Foxwood Treasure starts with Willy the hedgehog being bored and going to visit his grandpa. He and his friends Rue Rabbit and Harvey Mouse are with Grandpa when they find out that the villagers are trying to raise funds to build a village hall. They decide they should do something to help raise money.

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So they go to the library to learn how villagers have made money in the past. I love this library picture! Look at all those little drawers at the base of the shelves. Look at that post and beam construction. A big table to read books at; Wow! If I had a space like this to keep my books in I’d be in heaven.

Anyway back to our story. The kids learn that one of the most successful villagers of the past had an inn where he sold a special lemonade made from his secret recipe.

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So off they go to find and search the (now defunct) old inn. After some adventures, they discover the location of Fox Hall (it was hidden and secret), find the recipe and give it to the village as a whole.

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So they have a party at the newly re-opened Old Fox Inn.

So if you like little animals wearing clothes who live in their own village and are all friends and love to eat, drink and be merry; you should check out this lovely little series of stories/books about the denizens of Foxwood.

 

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Do you love fabric? Do you wish you could get custom printed fabric (or gift wrap or wallpaper)?

Well that is just what Spoonflower is/does.

And right now they are having a wonderful event. 2nd chance at 2 for 1 Fat Quarters of Fabric.  Now until noon EST December 16. Effectively it’s actually 50% off Fat Quarters because when you get to your cart even if you have odd numbers they are all at 50% of regular price.

Usually they do this sale once a year — in November. This year I finally branched out from basic cotton and jersey and got some silk (real silk not polyester) and cotton sateen. They are gorgeous.

They have some truly lovely designs for sale. Just make sure to look at large pieces in the preview as not all designs repeat as well as others. Make sure you like the repeat before ordering.

This are some the currently trending designs:

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And a few (OK more than a few) of the designs from my favorites:

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(I ordered a fat quarter of micro20 after klimt in silk and it is amazing – more pastel than the preview but amazing.) And the captain owl doll in linen canvas (8″ swatch is 1 doll).

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I ordered some dotd skulls black medium in linen canvas last year to make a new skull handbag. Still haven’t made it yet but I’ve got the fabric. Hah!

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Yup, I bought the tiny steampunk octopuses and the exterminate 25cm fabrics this year.

I strongly advise creating an account so that you can make a favorites list; that way when there is a sales event so you’ve got them all in one easy to shop place. I didn’t do this the first year and figuring out what I wanted to order was both time-consuming and frustrating. Still worth it but boy did it eat up time.

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Miss Suzy by Miriam Young, pictures by Arnold Lobel, 1964.

Miss Suzy is a book that makes me feel all warm and safe. So I decided that today is the day to share it with all of you. It is Ucky outside! The story is about a lady squirrel who lives in a lovely tree house and gets chased out by a nasty squirrel gang. Then she ends up spending the winter in the attic of a house living in an old doll house. She befriends a group of toy soldiers who, in the spring, chase the squirrel gang out of her house. And they all live happily ever after.

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It has printed endpapers, which (as I have said before) I just love.

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Here she is in her house in the tree. It is a most charming house in a lush full autumnal-ish tree. It’s golden and inviting. I think that Miss Suzy’s house would make a spectacular doll house even though just the thought of creating at least the top part of the tree with the house is an extremely daunting prospect. Still, it would make an awesome doll house so it would be worth all the work.

Has anybody made this house? Does anybody want to besides me?

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Here she is cooking and cleaning. Her furnishings are minimal and made of the sorts of things a squirrel might find lying around outdoors. Note that the firefly lamps contain real live fireflies, I’m assuming she swaps them out every day or so that she isn’t keeping them caged until they die. She is after all, a kindly squirrel lady.

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Miss Suzy tucked up warm and cosy in her bed. Don’t you just want to climb in there and go to sleep?

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This is the doll house where she lives for the winter. She found the group of toy soldiers while exploring the attic for things she could use. They had been waiting a long time for someone to find them and play with them. So it worked out well for all of them and they spent the long winter together.

I love the illustrations in this book. The full color images are jewel-like and the limited color images balance the color pictures so that you don’t overload on color and become desensitized to it. By combining both types of pictures the book ends up being more than the sum of it’s parts.

I hope that you have enjoyed Miss Suzy, and remember if you want your own copy it turns up on Ebay and Amazon Marketplace regularly at reasonable prices. (No, I don’t get a cut — I just like to see good books find their people.)

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Love those little goblins peaking out from behind the big pumpkin moon.

And a silly spooky Blythe dress:

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Yes, that is my handy dandy headless Blythe body which I got so I could fit patterns on it without risking scratching a great big Blythe noggin.

About a week or so ago I was doing some recreational browsing, which is kinda like retail therapy except you don’t generally buy anything. When I spotted this cool small scale skull fabric and thought I have got to make something out of that, at the counter I noticed that it had a tag on the bolt that said “Glow-in-the-Dark”. So I bought some and went home, dug thru my pattern stash and decided to make this yoked dress. Then I did a little google search to see if anyone made glow-in-the-dark thread and found out that DMC does. Wow! Back to the fabric store to get some and also pick up some lace for the bottom of the dress. A few, well several, hours later — ta da, Spooky Blythe Halloween dress.

Which I posted off to Arlene, who got the package, opened it, picked up the phone and Sqwee! She really liked it. Photo of her doll wearing the dress properly accessorized to come later.

A note about that DMC floss: it’s from their Light Effects collection and it’s number E940. It looks white in daylight but it Glows-in-the-Dark. Hooray! Also it’s made of polyester not cotton which means it’s fiddley to work with so for what it’s worth here are my tips for use. Use shorter lengths than you would for cotton floss, this stuff likes to unwind and tangle. Also try to only touch the needle not the floss as this stuff snags on everything, my hands aren’t the smoothest but they aren’t that rough and the floss kept catching on my fingers. Polyester floss is a booger to stitch with until you get the hang of it, but the final effect is worth it.

 

UPDATE:     Here are Arlene’s Blythe dolls all dressed up for Halloween.

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Right up front I’m going to totally own that I have a vested interest in this particular magazine project. ‘Cause J and I are massively addicted to this fairly new humor magazine “American Bystander” and want many, many more issues to be published so we can hug them in our greedy arms and croon over them in joy and laughter. We aren’t affiliated in any way with it’s creators or their publishing venture. We just really, really want them to be able to keep this wonderful magazine going.

American Bystander is a rare beastie: the print humor magazine. Decades ago there were these cool things that came in the mail or that you picked up from the newsstand that your mother hated and you and all your friends loved. These odd paper bundles were filled with funny articles, comics and fake ads that made people howl and roll around holding their stomachs. It was great. But those days are gone.

Flash forward. Now there is a chance to revive the printed humor magazine. American Bystander in Kickstarter for the funding of printing issue #3.

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This is a wicked funny magazine. J and I have issues #1 and #2 and love, love, love them.

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Issue #1 has a viciously funny parody of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Here’s a pic of an article from issue #2:

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This fake ad appears in both issues:

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So why am I posting this appeal to fund this project? Oh come on, you had to know where I was going with this. I was shocked today to go to the project page and find that with only five days to go they haven’t yet met their goal. So many people loved #1 and #2 that I was sure that #3 would fund with no problems.

Now I’m worried. So pretty please go fund this. And then share it with all your friends and ask them to fund it too. Then share it with your enemies, your grandma, your brewista, and the guy down the hall, oh and don’t forget that co-worker who always asks you to buy cookies from his kid.

Do it for me, do it for you, just do it damn it!

 

Oh and you can get #3 and pdfs of #1 and #2 for only $30.     Hooray!

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