a misbehaving beetle, homemade spray starch and 4 more little joys

a guilty little beetle up to no good

He’s done something. I’m sure of it. It’s all over his face.  More about this naughty little beetle  in a minute. First I want to tell you about some simple things that are bringing me joy this spring. Since you found your way here they might be up your alley too:

sewing in bed

1. sewing in bed

It’s always on the joy list, such a gentle way to wake up. Get something ready to sew the night before and there is nothing at all to think about. Just start sewing. My current bed sewing is sails and needle books (I can’t stop making those little pages). Simple, meditative stitching.


tiny rag doll gardening

tiny rag doll sewing pattern

2. the adventures of althea

This is sweet, and beautiful and funny. Dawn Smith has created a magic world for her tiny rag doll  and she photographs Althea’s adventures daily.

Follow her while she has tea and visit friends and gardens. It’s awesome.


lilacs in my studio

3. lilacs

It’s such a glorious smell and gone so quickly. When I wake up to the cool spring lilac air I have no choice but to sew in bed. It’s the only responsible thing to do.


how to make laundry spray starch

4. homemade spray starch

It’s easy to make, cheap, works beautifully and it is non-aerosol and packaging free. Most importantly I did not have to leave my apartment when I ran out of spray starch for my sails.

I love to iron.  I’ve been sorting through sail fabric for ships, ironing it and making neat little piles. This is also called procrastination.  Productive procrastination but still…  Anyway the homemade laundry starch adds even a little more joy to the ironing party.

recreational ironing

The starch is just cornstarch and water. Add a couple drops of lavender oil (or whatever you like) for a glorious fresh laundry smell. Laundry is right up there with lilacs for me smell wise. Plus I feel super thrifty and oldschool.

make some laundry starch:

  • Whisk 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch into 2 and ½ cups water. You’re already almost done.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, boil for about a minute while stirring.
  • Remove from the heat and let is cool to room temperature, add a couple drops of scent if you like and pour it through a strainer into a spray bottle.


5 sketchbook

My daily painting and drawings. It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times, such a huge pain in the a**  when I’m super busy.  But the joy wins. And it makes me a better thinker.


yogi tea

and a little bonus joy:

I love this tea! I drink buckets of it all day long. You can find it in most grocery stores I think.


what’s on my work table this week

hand stitched beetle

You have met the guilty beetle, the naughty little fellow is regretting his mischief.  He is made from gorgeous and very old French scraps. I’m working on lots of misbehaving little french anthropods.

so long little beetle

And ships. I love living with them and have been without a personal fleet for too long. This one has a final layer of old paper collage. Come make beetles and paper ships with me this October – I’m teaching several workshops in LA at French General – find info and registration here.

paper mache ship collaged with antique paper

PS – What are you working on? Have you made a doll bed? What smell transports you?

homemade laundry starch



    I use to make doll beds out of lovely wooden apple baskets. Spray painted them pink. Glued white cotton lace all around the top circumference of the basket. Sewed a mattress and also a simply doll quilt. Made a pillow out of white lace. So femenine (spelling!) and sweet. That was in the 80’s. Sold lots of them and at that time, the selling price was $35.00.

  2. I am making a doll bed right now. Finally got my head wrapped around the instructions correctly! I kept gluing the craft sticks on the wrong side of the notch in the clothespin! It looks like Smooth Sailing now!

  3. If I did not hate so much creepy crawlies, I’d male some like you do. But after living in countries where they are all over the place, especially when you least expect them to be, is insane. SO I cannot stand bugs, of any kind. I still have to deal with snails on my veggie garden though.

  4. Christine Hallam

    When I saw annwoodhandmade in my email inbox just now my heart did a little skip (I’m not joking) because I so enjoy seeing and reading your adventures in craft. I am a 71 yr old, newly returned to crafting now retired with more time. I loved making the little doll and dressing her and last week when a bit under-the-weather sat in the garden resting sewing a little quilt for her. The quilt is all out of proportion to the doll, but is very pretty and so enjoyable to make.

    I passed on your link to a younger crafting friend who’s enjoying it too. Thanks.

  5. Susanna Di Milo

    Your email brightens my week, thank you for that wonderful home starch recipe! I love Lavender too. The lilacs have been blooming outside my lounge window – these fleeting joys are an opportunity to savour the moment. During my daily dog walk, I can see the elderflowers appearing, so I am looking forward to my annual making of elderflower cordial. Like Strawberries in season, these little delights should be fleeting, so that we savour their moments – Like Christmas once a year, it would really ruin the effect if it was Christmas every day? Or the weather in the UK – us Brits get a lot of rain, so when we see the sun, we make the most of it.

    I am so inspired by your sketches – it is on my bucket list, and I am making a little drawing corner in my room to make it easier. I really enjoy your beautiful photographs, thank you for writing your blog and sharing your creative endeavours, it is a delight.

  6. Gretchen

    And I thought I was the only one who liked to iron❣️

  7. Your delight in whimsy is contagious. It is so cheerful. I share your blog posts with my daughters and their children and we have such fun playing. Thank you for reminding me that play is so important.

  8. Will you be offering a pattern or kit for the irresponsible little beetle? So adorable!!

  9. Norma S

    Hi Ann,

    Oh I love that beetle!
    Will you be offering a pattern for it?
    Love your blog and everything you create. 🙂

  10. Lori France

    I cannot stop making the little needlebook too! These are great for quietly sewing by hand, I LOVE handwork……the added plus is that my favorite little scraps are ending up in these adorable little gifts….

  11. I might need to try your recipe for spray starch. My husband starches his button down shirts and he goes through a ton of starch. It’s not expensive, but when he runs out, maybe this could be the solution. Thank you.

  12. Your emails are my little dose of inspiration, love the ships and wondering if you will be creating any new cats in the future, thanks for the starch recipe, ironing was my chore growing up and I still love hanging clothes on the cloths line and pressing the clothes that smell like sunshine.
    MARY P

  13. Theresa Ryan

    Your post was a bit of sunshine on a Monday morning workday. Now I can’t wait to get home and make some spray starch. I think I’ll make mine lemon scented.

  14. I love the feel and scent of freshly laundered linens after they’ve spent the day drying in the sunshine. It makes a seemingly mundane task quite magical. Thank you for creating such a sweet tiny doll pattern, I finally finished mine – even though I didn’t quite manage all the clothes this time – and shared her here on my blog. I think she’d like some friends – preferably wearing more detailed attire! http://blueskiesandapplepie.blogspot.com/2019/05/making-tiny-rag-doll.html

  15. Yes! Naked rag dolls, I’ve waiting and hoping for them forever. Even saving slightly transparent material for a risque peignoir.
    My lilac was so old it didn’t want to hardly bloom, so my best friend talked me into chopping it down last fall. The new growth this spring is 3′ tall and she promises that next year I’ll start getting blooms again. Fingers crossed.

  16. Oh my! Somehow I have missed this post until now. I can’t imagine how. You must think I am terribly ungrateful. Thank you so much for featuring Althea and your lovely words about her. Your patterns continually delight me.

  17. Shirley Donovan

    Don’t usually comment on these things but did want you to know that I made 16 to 20 chickens and gave them to friends (what else would you do with them?) and they really loved them. Also made that many lambs, they liked those also. I’m making smaller “things” now that I have more than enough quilts. So any small items would be delightful. The bugs are cute – sorta creepy but fun.
    Thanks for doing all you do, I’ve enjoyed making the chickens & lambs and bunnies.

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