Wednesday, 29 February 2012

World Book Day

Tomorrow (Thursday 1st March) is World Book Day - Whoop, whoop!

A celebration of books, of authors, of illustrators and of reading!

Designated by UNESCO as a World celebration of books, marked by 100 countries.

Check out for more information, including resources, games and more.  

Even if you are a Stay-at-home-mum and not involved in any special organised activity, there's nothing to stop you celebrating the day in some way.
Try the following:

  • set up a little tent in the bedroom or sitting room, put in a couple of cushions and a basket of books and make a "reading nook" for the day.
  • Phone your local library in the morning to find out what events and activities they might be running during the day that you can take your child/ren along to.
  • Act out scenes from favourite books with dressing-up, dolls, small-world toys or puppets.
  • visit a book shop and select a few new books

Sunday, 26 February 2012

A few little successes.

A few little successes make all the difference to your state of mind.  

On Friday night I finally finished Molly Dolly (1st Birthday present for Sis) and last night I finally finished the dress also:

Yesterday C and I made the birthday cake (it sunk a little on removal from the oven, but hey, you can't have everything!  We decorated it together this morning - he helped beat the buttercream, painted the cake with heated apricot jam, helped roll out the marzipan and the icing, and mixed in the food colouring... and licked the spoon.  It looks very "Mel" - which means very obviously home-made and not all that good, but I don't care because it went down well, we made it ourselves and it tasted yummy:

This afternoon we had a little  first birthday party.  Four little friends and their Mummies and Daddies, they played with the dressing up box, then we did some painting with glitter paints on canvas (something for them to take home - I don't do party bags), and then we ate!  Can't go wrong:

And based on those three little successes, I feel great.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A little distraction

I posted yesterday about how my current knitting project, a doll for Sis for her 1st birthday, was not yet complete.  I thought I'd post today about one of the reasons (apart from not being motivated and organised to start earlier) it isn't finished.  No more words, the pictures say it all.  Knitting can only be done when they are asleep!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Birthday Girl!

The way it works is this... if I don't post for a while, it's either because I'm away somewhere, or more likely because some defect in my personal organisation means that I've been frantically trying to get something done in time which should have been done and finished ages ago.  This time it's the second.  Here's the project:

As you can see it still isn't finished.  It's Sis's 1st birthday today and I still haven't finished making her present.  What a bad mummy I am.  With any luck and some more frantic knitting and sewing it should be done by the party on Sunday.

That's right, you read me correctly, Sis is one already!  Where has the year flown by?  I have absolutely no idea.  But here is a little homage to my little monkey.  I adore her.

February 2011 - newborn

March 2011
April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011
January 2012

Birthday girl! February 2012

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Simple creative craft for toddlers - pine cone mouse

C found the pine cone and wanted to keep it.  
I said, "Why don't we make it into a mouse when we get home?"

Equipment needed:
  • one pine cone
  • short length of string (about 10cm)
  • scraps of felt
  • scrap of pink or red felt or wool
  • 2 googly eyes (available from craft shops by the packet, will suit many projects) 
  • PVA glue
  1. Get your toddler to splodge some glue to the rounded end of the pine cone and stick one end of the string on for the tail.
  2. Now get them to splodge some glue to the back of the eyes and stick them in place. 
  3. Cut out some rounded ear shapes from the felt, apply glue to one end and stick in place.
  4. You can leave it here, it looks perfectly mouse-like, but C insisted that "Mousie needs a mouth".  You can either use wool in pink or red for lips as we did, or you can cut another rounded shape of pink or red felt and stick on as a tongue.
  5. Voila!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

How to be Free - End Class War

I’ve mentioned Tom Hodgkinson on here before.  He’s the editor of The Idler, and has written books “How to Be Idle”, “How to be Free” and “The Idle Parent”.  I love the principles expressed in “How to be Free” (though not all the ideas in the book), and while I don’t agree with the term Idle I think The Idle Parent is a must-read and describes well how I was brought up and how I wish to bring up my own children.

I’m writing a series of blog posts exploring these two books, and the ideas contained in them further, in the hope that this will help me to explore further the principles behind my own way of living and parenting.

How to be free

Chapter 6 - End Class War - BE BOHEMIAN

Our class system originated in the middle ages, where the classes were approximately: peasants, who worked the land; clerics, who read, wrote, prayed and looked after the poor; and nobles, who owned the land and rode around dining and fighting.  Our current class system is still three tiers: working class, do a boring job and get into debt; middle class, do a boring job and get into more debt; and upper class, lounge around, arguing with the family and selling off the property to pay the tax bill.  Ideally we would aim to combine the best aspects of all three: working the land and doing crafts; reading, writing, reflecting and helping the poor; and the odd bit of lounging around… Is this what is meant by being bohemian?

I’ve just looked it up in the Heinemann English Dictionary, where it says that a bohemian is an artistic or intellectual individual who disregards conventional standards of behaviour – Hmmmm, I like the sound of that!

What Tom Hodgkinson argues in this chapter is that we don’t need to get rid of our Class System.  There’s nothing wrong with people having money and sitting around, for with the money and the large houses comes quite a bit of hassle.  The aristocrats look after our heritage, do work for charity and hold festivals – good!  Instead of resenting the other classes, thinking they have it easier than we do, and generally moaning about the fetters we find ourselves in, we should simply do things whichever way we want, live according to whatever means we can and mix freely with whomsoever we want. 

How does this match up with the Ink Spots and Grass Stains life?

I personally think this is all well and good, but if your education and your background mean that you lack the means, self-esteem or imagination to come up with your own way of earning a living, and nobody is prepared to give you a job or pay you more than a pittance, then you are pretty much stuck in your lot, and it isn’t all that joyful.  For some people, poverty is not a choice.

I do like the idea that we shouldn’t just mix with those from our own background; that we should do what fits our aims in life, our morals and our principles, not just follow the path that appears to have been set out for one in our “station”.   I think it’s easy to be bohemian if every day isn’t a struggle to decide whether the money in your pocket should go to the heating bill or to buy food.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Dolls House - bedroom

I am very proud of this project.  Not so much because of what we've made today, but because of what it's the start of.  

Today C and I made a bedroom from a child's shoe box.  Next time apparently we are going to make a sitting room.  Then a kitchen.  The room is very basic, the furniture even more so.  But because each room is made from a shoe box, we can redecorate or add another room whenever we feel like it (and have a shoe box to spare).  Furniture and people can be made or bought.  As Little Sis gets older they can both make and decorate a room each, and can keep a house each in their room or combine rooms to make a really big house.  If a room gets trashed, it's not a problem, we can make another.  We're talking the ultimate flexible dolls house arrangement.  What's more, the children get to use their own creativity and making skills to put together each room, so the whole thing is a learning, doing and playing experience.
Here's what we did today.  We kept things very simple - he's only two and a half after all!

First I provided a shoe box and asked him which room we should make.  I also picked up two Duplo characters to act as our inhabitants to begin with.  He said we should make a bedroom.

I showed him the pile of felt and he chose the colour of the carpet.  I then showed him how to draw around the box so that we could cut the carpet the right size - he was trying to put the whole piece of felt in.  He squeezed the glue into the box and we put the carpet in together.

Next I showed him a few bits of paper of various colours and patterns and he chose some yellow for the wallpaper.  I showed him again how to draw around the box to cut the wallpaper to the right size, and again he glued the walls of the box and we stuck the paper in.

We had a rummage through the recycling to find something suitable for a bed.  I showed him that the first few suggestions were too big (by trying to put them in the box unsuccessfully) and then suggested that we could cut down the cup-a-soup box and that might be a good size.  He liked this idea.

Once the bed was in the bedroom I suggested that we needed some bedding.  He quite liked the idea of an entire piece of A4 paper for a duvet, but I suggested that we might like something softer, and with great subtlety moved the remainder of the piece of felt so that it was in front of him.  The hint was taken, and we cut out two pillows and a duvet.

I asked what other furniture we should have in a bedroom, and at this stage the only thing he felt was important was a clock.  I showed him how to draw around a small selotape reel to make a small circle, and then we looked together at the kitchen clock to see where the numbers should go.  He told me we should make it seven o'clock so that it could be bedtime or time to get up.

He's absolutely delighted with his bedroom, loves that it comes with a lid, and has repeatedly got the couple up and put them back to bed.  He's now looking forward to making some more rooms to add to it to make a house.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

My Bucket List

I saw a Bucket List here on No Wooden Spoons, and was inspired to make my own.

For anybody who doesn't know what a Bucket List is, it comes from the film "The Bucket List" starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.  It's a list of things to do before you kick the bucket.  In the film the two stars play a pair of terminally ill men who go on a trip trying to do the things on their Bucket Lists.

I first wrote my Bucket List not long after my first marriage ended in 2003 (it wasn't called that then, it was just "The List").  I added to it in 2007 and I'm pretty sure that it hasn't had anything new added to it since then.  Here it is:
Make babies - achieved!  July 2009 and Feb 2011
see the Corryvreckan whirlpool
see the Northern Lights
see an Osprey
go in a hot air balloon
drive a digger
see a real live bear in the wild
go in a helicopter
visit St Petersburg
go to India - achieved! (Summer 2008)
get a book published
go swimming with dolphins

cycle Lands End to John O'Groats - achieved!  Summer 2004

be fit, slim and healthy (not very measurable I guess!)
get a Masters in Literature
Visit San Francisco - achieved! (December 2008)
have a house with a garden with a pond, strawberries, potatoes and a compost bin
achieved all except the pond, and that's going to happen at some point (Sept 2007)
have a cafe-bookshop
trek in the Himalayas - achieved! (Summer 2008)
visit Prague

visit New York - achieved! Summer 2004
see a whale in the wild

walk the West Highland Way - achieved!  2004
skydive - achieved! 2004