Hibernating with the small ones

Well, happy new year lovelies! It is exactly a month since my last blog post: Christmas has been and gone, following such a flurry of last minute December custom orders that I found myself barely able to do anything other than plan, cut, sew and rush to the post office at regular intervals. With Dinosaur-boy still at school for only half a day it was a bitter-sweet time of happiness - I was delighted to have the work, but very aware of how unfortunate the timing was, knowing that once he was full-time in January the likelihood was that my busyness would die down to something more resembling the pace of a snail. So when I posted my last order off on the 20th December I crashed somewhat and seized some much needed hibernation time with Zebra-girl and Dinosaur-boy. I made these tissue-paper and pipe-cleaner flowers at school as a child and Zebra-girl was just as delighted by the process as I remember being myself (so much opportunity for colour-matching!). Dinosaur-boy joined us when he saw the bouquet that was rapidly forming on the bedroom floor and they each filled a small glass vase with them to give as a gift for Mr Teacakes' birthday shortly after Christmas.

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


  1. Do some research on cats and you will probably find that there is a breed that does not climb very much. I'm sure I remember reading about such a thing. An alternat could be a hand reared bird. They bring a lot of joy and can be handled as well. Cherrie

  2. We have three cats :) And if you get one that has been well handled since birth you will find they are much easier for you and your little ones to cope with :)

    To be honest I have very rarely has to tell ours off for clawing my fabric or the cotton reels, they know they will get shouted at!

    I love sitting with Baggy on my lap, it really is wonderful and relaxing :)

    Do you know anyone who has a cat that you could sit with for a while? It may be an idea for you at least :)

  3. Happy New Year. Enjoy being slakerish as it never seems to last for long. I dreaded my youngest going full time at school and that part of life being over, but now 2 years on it's hard to remember what it was like. They've changed and I've changed with them. Doesn't mean I haven't been really broody in between times, but I keep having a stern word with myself.

    The cat thing - great for all the right reasons, but now I'm wiping muddy paws or ours walks mud over eveything. She thinks I'm a pyscho lurking by the door with a cloth. She has also been sick over the radiator and so it smells a lot which doesn't really make me like her a lot at the moment. Anyway she is my youngests cat and she adores her so that makes her important around here. So just hide your lovely fabrics up on a higher shelf that's all I can say.

  4. Those few extra hours a day will race by Florence. The worst of it is how tired and good for nothing they are when you do get them home.

    I struggle with the much desired cat for similar reasons - clawed furniture anyone?

  5. Hello Florence. Thank you for saying what I so often feel about being at home. Evwn though I rarely stop and love what I do, I always feel it sounds like playing!

    Little Lucy and I had a lovely time making tissue paper flowers and you have reminded me to give them another go. The colours are so reminiscent of Spring.

    As to cats, I love them and have three BUT they are easily kept from the sewing room as the thought of sending packages off with hairs on me chills me to the bone. What about an older cat from a home? Maybe one that's past the kitten stage would be good and personally I find males the easiest - less demanding and sleep all day! Great to see you back Florence xx

  6. The tissue flowers are beautiful. Don't underestimate the value of what you do at home Florence. You will find your days full and that they disappear as quickly as ever.

  7. I just noticed your wedding cake flowers in your side bat. I still have mine and it will be my 15th wedding anniversary in February!

  8. What a lovely Christmas, I do love your felt necklace, very cute indeed. I don't have a cat only 2 very small dogs but a great friend has one very spoilt cat and has a constantly changing array of fabrics draped every where and puss takes no notice what so ever. Not sure if she's a one off or just maybe a very lazy puss.

  9. I'm sure you will soon fill your days up with many things both enjoyable and not so (paperwork is my nemisis!). Enjoy the time. x ps am with you on the cat issue. mine have stepped it up a gear and want not one, but two dogs! And from the RSPCA just to employ that extra bit of child manipulation.....

  10. Welcome back!

    We have 6 cats and could not live with out them. Our children's lives are so enriched by them and there are days when they just make us LAUGH! My best advice would be to get a cat over one year old and if you do, get one on the plump side because it will not climb and hang from anything! Cutting their claws often will help. I must say though when ever I am in my craft room sewing they just LOVE to come and visit and think it is their right to sit on what ever I am sewing (or ironing) and watch me. They have a way of claiming things! They will not bother with your cottons unless you give them an old reel to scoot along the floor.

    On another note it is hard to see the little ones go off to school,but you will love the solitude time to visit with friends, sew and just listen to the peace and quiet in the house and then you will love to see them come home again.A cat would be very good company for you too!!

    I loved the tissue flowers. My little ones are fast outgrowing the simple crafts. My daughter does love to scrapbook though and wants to sew along beside me. (we need another machine to do this though)

    Looking forward to seeing more of your crafts....

  11. we have 2 cats and they're not real climbers and tend to leave most of my craft stuff alone - they're most fascinated by phone chargers!

    April xx

  12. I've heard - and your going to love this idea - that getting two kittens at once means that the kittens will play with each other and not play on your furniture or curtains or kimonos ;-) I certainly had no problems with my two kittens being destructive with things around the house - and maybe this was why? I was also pretty clear with them about what they were allowed to do etc and they were really very good. I loved my cats. We now have a little pooch - he is rather super too ... if my husband wasn't anti hair everywhere - I'd probably have kitties as well!

  13. what a lovely post...beautiful flowers, great tips for children's craft books too, am off to amazon immediately I click submit! my eldest has recently been given the role of "primary carer" for our 12 year old cat - her chest swelled with pride and she is taking it very seriously indeed. not sure how kittens and crafts mix but 12 year old lazy cats and crafts do just fine together!

    happy new year btw

  14. You could rescue an older calm cat, and give it a nice catnip bed in your craft area so it will not wreck! I know what you mean about enjoying them as a child, but it is different when you are older. I got a kitten a few years ago (sadly no longer with us) and had her house trained in no time. Unfortunately she presumed all boxes were for going in, and I came home one night to find a turd on top of the newspaper rack. Even worse a few months later I took my hibernating sewing machine out of its box to find it had been peed over many times. Took a while to sort that, I didn't tell the repair man why it had seized up!

  15. happy new year!! we have a new black kitten in our house, so far so good!

  16. It's lovely to see you back in the land of blog.
    Thank you so much for you're Christmas card.
    Sounds like you've had a fabulous time.
    Don't feel to down about all the time you have on you're hands.
    Just think of all the wonderful things you can when you're all together. And the big smiles you get when picking him up from school.
    Good luck with all the new ideas for you're beautiful website.
    Maybe you could make coffee packet holders? I'd buy one.
    Happy new year sweet lady.
    Catherine x
    If you're ever this way drop me a line we can go for coffee in Rochester.

  17. Happy new year and happy crafting for you and your little ones! These projects are wondeful!


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