I could look at their lovely colours all day...and at times they look oddly real.
Christmas was full of all things lovely: time with family, beautiful gifts, cosy films, scrumptious food and lots of crisp woodland walks. Ian was lucky enough to have nearly ten days off and on his one day in the office, we stayed at home and made bread, a previously unexplored avenue of fun for us. Make any shape you like, I said after we had pounded at our dough for over ten minutes; Zebra-girl was naturally bent on turning her dough ball into something feline.
Before Christmas I found a note in her book bag that was intended for Father Christmas. Dear Father Christmas, please could you bring me a cat because I really love them. Or some kittens. Or actually any animal at all because I would really like a pet. But especially a cat. Thank you. My little Zebra actually knows who the bearded man really is...I can only think that she must have been so desperate when she wrote this that she was willing to suspend all disbelief if the end result might have been a cat on the end of her bed. This has been her main request for the last two years and for the first time we're seriously considering it. It would be difficult for me because I don't have a work room where I can close the door. I think of the thread rack full of cottons on the wall and the cupboards full of fabrics in our bedroom and wonder at how I would keep something kittenish out those places, when the idea of living with closed doors on a long-term basis doesn't appeal. I have visions of the kimonos that hang from the picture rails in our room mid-creation being used as climbing apparatus and want to despair at the very idea. I would love to hear how you cope with the hair and curious paws that come with cat ownership when mixed with a beloved stash of craft materials. Can you train a cat not to come upstairs? But equally I know how much I loved having cats around as a child and how very good for the soul they can be. Oh dear. I am in a quandary. That aside, the bread-cat's ears were very crunchy, but apparently its body was quite the most tasty thing.
I had ordered this wonderful book, Green Crafts for Children, as a gift for a friend, but when it arrived I had a quick look through and was so impressed that I simply had to have a copy for for us too. The projects in it are wonderful, inspired, inventive and nostalgic all at the same time and we were tempted by every single one of them. Each project is beautifully photographed and the instructions are very clear. These papier mache bowls were meant to be made from newspaper and painted with poster paint...but these were our second attempt as we quickly realised that all our paints had dried up after a spell in the garage and our only way of injecting colour was to remake them with tissue papers instead. A deliciously gooey project, with no need for the days of delayed gratification that usually goes hand-in-hand with papier mache as we put them to cook in the oven for an hour instead.
We also made this felt necklace from the book too: a very simple idea, but actually quite difficult for a child to execute, as so much strength was needed to push the needle through the felt sausages to thread them onto the cotton.
Zebra-girl persevered as she was desperate to wear the finished article, but Dinosaur-boy lost patience and went to lie on the playroom floor where he sang the following song very loudly:
Doctor Foster went to Gloucester
All in a shower of rain
He bumped his head
And stayed in Bed
So that he didn't have to do any arts and crafts ever again.
This made us laugh so much that we ended up stabbing our fingers and I have to admit that as we bent a needle for the third time trying to force it through the wodges of felt I would have happily joined Doctor Foster in his bed. But we did all love the end result.
I saw this book in the shops over Christmas too, the ethos of which I love - slightly less beautiful to look at for an adult, but I know that it would delight both my children who love junk modelling and the props for which can be more easily found on covert trips to raid the recycling cupboard when my back is turned, for less ordered, and less mummy-led fun. Zebra hums as she riffles and pillages in an attempt to muffle the rustling noises and then races through the kitchen at dangerous speeds with egg boxes crammed beneath her armpits as though this type of raiding is quite the naughtiest thing a child can do. I think this book would be perfect for her.
Anyway, I have so many grown-up craft-related things to share, but that's another post entirely. My little Dinosaur is now at school all day long, but I've yet to find out quite what that means for me as it has been an odd week, with visits from lovely friends from overseas, and Ian at home with me for a couple of days to celebrate his birthday - so far this has involved games of scrabble, a trip to the cake shop, and a lovely lunch out and some pottering round the shops. What will you do next week? he asked as we stood in a queue in the bank today. Well, I said, I have a friend I want to call in on and another who I might meet up with for lunch and I will finish the doorstop that I'm working on and maybe think about making some bags for spring and perhaps see if I can help in Dinosaur-boy's classroom for an afternoon. And suddenly it all sounded horribly slackerish. Well, you did work very hard in December, Mr Teacakes said indulgently, and I felt hugely grateful to him for being so generous-spirited, for although I am feeling a little glum about the idea of not having a small one at home during the day, I can see that life may not be entirely awful with all this time on my hands to be filled with my own plans and ideas. x