Hen Crafted: Making Magic

Dear Friends,
For a long time I have been enamored with the type of fabulous creations that are found in toy catalogs like Magic Cabin. When they appear in my mailbox I hide them from my children until I’ve had a chance to drool over the gorgeous spreads depicted on the glossy pages. Oh, the lovely absence of plastic! The loose concepts leaving lots of room for childish ideas! The enticing colors and knobby shapes just right for little hands!

Alas, my household budget doesn’t allow for such luxurious expenditures. So I pass the tempting book with it’s elusive playthings to the three pairs of little hands that flap about my house. They are sure to drive the poor periodical to a quick end with sloppy circles of all the things they like, countless sticky fingerprints, tears wrought from frequent bouts of tug-a-war. They will love it to death before I ever get the chance to change my mind and snatch back the order form.

I almost give in to the whim of a foolhardy shopping spree when I glimpse the fairy house sets staring out at me from the corner of the page my youngest is busy chewing up.

Who cares if it melts my credit card! Look at that tree fort kit, it’s calling me-- Oops, can’t see it anymore for the marker scribbles.

My children save me once again. [whew]

So instead, today we’ll reach for what we can have. What we do have. What we can do. We take a quick inventory and gather the supplies. 

 Some wrought iron serving racks I had in the storage closet.

 Fridge clips and clothes pins.

Ribbons, silk rose petals, and a stack of colorful scraps of fabric leftover from other crafting projects.

A few buttons, beads, charms and such “treasures”. My scrapbooking supply shelves can bear the loss.

Flower iron-ons my daughter begged for the last time I let her come with me to the sewing isle.

A basket of Fall leaves.

A handful of acorns.

Pipe-cleaners, a favorite of my three turkeys.

Sheets of cardstock, brown paper, and some stickers depicting cute kiddos. These were from a collection called The Dimple Street Gang by Tie Me To The Moon.

A few pinecones and snips of greenery.

Some small gauge wire, a green blanket and a pair of scissors.

Time to plop the baby into his highchair with a snack a few interesting bits of this and that and some containers to put them into, making him feel like he is part of the action. Thank you, Tupperware.

Then let the fun began. And the story weaving. All the time we are working on our project I tell my two older children a story about the world we are building.

When you are four and six everything is full of magic. It doesn’t take much to paint a fairytale before their eyes. It’s easy business to capture their agile minds with wondrous words. The only roadblock is the challenge of racking my frazzled brain for a story that will please both the roguish nature of my hooligan son and the princess that flutters and dances within my daughter’s willowy frame.

Today it comes down to Pan.

Peter Pan, that is. Some say James M. Barrie wasn’t quite right in the head but you have to give him credit for being a genius storyteller. Neverland is the perfect enchantment for boys and girls alike. Mermaids, pirates, fairies, Indians, runaways-- it’s all there. My two love it. It’s been a while since we listened to audio book I am free to take as much artist’s license as my motherhood-warped memory requires.
Laying the green blanket out for the grassy ground. 
Once upon a time there was a boy named Peter Pan. He was a rascal.

Wiring leaves in bunches.
Peter loved living in Neverland because as long as he stayed there he would never grow into a man. He would never face the work and worries that come with growing-up. Neverland was beautiful and covered with every kind of landscape. Mountains, rivers, beaches and plenty of forest.

Adding the leaf bunches to the top of the wrought iron stand.
Peter was a great favorite with the fairies. He was the only one that they would let have a peek inside the secret tree village where they lived. They loved his handsome face and would gladly give him their precious fairy-dust so he could fly with them whenever he liked. Tinkerbell loved him best of all.

Wrapping the “trunks” with brown paper and entwining them with wire “vines”.
The lost boys lived in a tree as well. It was a fabulous fort with ladders, sliding poles, a look out plateform and no mothers to tell the boys to pick-up their toys.  

Attaching cloth “floors” with clips and clothespins.
The Fairies often traded food they had gathered in the woods for treasures and trinkets The Lost Boys had stolen from the pirates.
Meeting the characters-- stickers on cardstock we cut-out with rose petal wings added to the fairies.

Peter was the leader of the Lost Boys. He liked to boss them all around, sometimes sending them all to bed just for the fun of it. The boys said they liked having no mother but they liked having someone to take care of them all the same. Sometimes they would say, “Oh Peter, please tell us to wash our hands!” or, “Please, do the one where you take away all the sweets we stole from the pirates because we didn’t clean our rooms! Oh, please!” Because, after all, children love order and crave leadership. And Peter would crow his famous rooster crow and gladly give them chores to do and put them in time-out.

Making comfy hammocks and sumptuous fairy-nest beds.
Oh, yes, PIRATES! Hook was the worst of them. Peter fought a mighty sword fight with Captain Hook once and it ended with Peter feeding the Pirate captain’s hand to a crocodile. [gasp] Then Hook had a hook for a hand and that is why he was called----well--- Hook.

Hanging ribbons and pipe cleaners for ladders and fairy finery.
The mermaids loved Peter too. They waited, sunning themselves on the rocks by the sea for his boyish smiles. Then when Pan arrived they would dive into the waves and swim away as fast as they could. Peter would chase them, flying just above the water, skimming his toes in their wake. He would laugh as they raced along, arcing their graceful bodies in and out of the water always just out of his reach. They knew if he caught them he would steal a kiss but all the same sometimes one of the silliest of the mermaids would let him catch her just to see what happened. [giggle]

Hooking up a swinging ribbon bridge linking the fairy’s home and the Lost Boy’s realm-- spanning the blue silk swirls of a pond, pine[cone] trees and a prickly berry patch.
The Lost Boys spent their days playing games with their many friends. The Indians loved to play with them. They took turns capturing each other; tracking subtle footprints through the forest, sneaking up and then pretending to burn the enemy at the stake, getting away in the end every time. Oh yes, very good friends they were.

And there we are. Now for the playing. Fairy’s going about their fairy business. Lost Boy’s keeping watch, eating sweets, and playing their wild games.

My favorite parts?

Overhearing my children adding their own touches of imagination to the basic storyline I had told them-- just as they had added their own trinkets and personal flourishes to the wrought iron framework of the tiny new world I had laid out from them.

Laughing quietly when I noticed that T-boy had traded a few of his Lost Boys for a couple of Lissie’s fairies incorporating them seamlessly into his feverish flurry of play. All that, despite the huge smile that had split his face-- showing all three of his dimples-- when I painted the word picture of an all-boy fort and the blatant absence of mothers. It always makes me happy to notice my children exercising mental flexibility. And a good story is a perfect playground for the restless brains of the young. Or not so young.

The moral of the story?

With a little stretch and a touch of creativity you can make magic.

And it doesn’t have to cost a dime.
My checkbook lives to tell another tale.

Impish Smiles in Nebraska


  1. I get Magic Cabin too, and I try not to covet. It is the magazine that Desmond gets to look at while I'm pouring over scrapbooking magazines to find ideas to scraplift. He also gets to take this magazine to the bathroom to look at as he sits upon his bright red potty chair.

  2. We just got our first Magic Cabin magazine the other day. It is fun!

    And you did a great job with your
    'toys" And love that it didn't cost a dime!

  3. I loved to listen to my two youngest play with their little people toys. We bought a huge lot of playmobil from ebay and legos were birthday gifts. It took them a long way. I especially remember the time the bad guys were rubberbanded to the high chair legs. Strangely, they never played much girl stuff, because my daughter was the little one.

  4. Well, I think I want to come play at your house!! How fun!
    (And I've never heard of or seen Magic cabin....I'm sure I'd have a problem too!

  5. dear Story teller,

    I can just hear you weaving your story as you went along,creating an enchanting little world to play in. I bet they had a grand time and will never forget times like that. I really like how you photographed it all so well.

    Weaving the magic, passing it down

  6. Ummmm... can I come live at your house?!

  7. Imaginations at work - I love it!


Thank you for stopping by. Your comments make me smile.