Big catch up…

DSC00095

It is now almost two weeks since my children returned to school, after a three week Easter break. I can’t believe I haven’t written here for well over a month! 😦 There just hasn’t been a spare moment to dedicate to the luxury of writing here. Any spare time has been dedicated to essay writing and I have had other pressing matters to occupy my time and headspace too….

But finally, here I am and it’s so good to be back 🙂 I am going to write a single post about the past month, because time is short these days and I don’t know when I will write again. I do hope to get back to posting weekly and even finishing off my US travel posts (!) but right now I am doing a lot of writing for different reasons, so we shall see… I live in hope! Anyway, in the unforgettable words of  “the Sound of Music!”

 Let’s start at the very beginning…

As I mentioned in my last post, my daughters were both in a play in the final week of last term. In Steiner (Waldorf) schools, each class puts on a play every year and they form part of their main lesson for half a term. The children learn their lines remarkably quickly and it is a wonderful achievement that they can be proud of.

DSC09900

My eldest, who at 11 years is in fifth grade, has been learning about Ancient Civilisations this year (amongst other things) and the class has also been taught some ancient Greek, so it was decided that they would put on a play of ” The Adventures of Odysseus.”

DSC09904
DSC09903

There was chanting in ancient Greek and great passion and action. The play was really well put together and the scenery was painted and designed by the class. Such an achievement. A boy in the upper classes even did the lighting so there was plenty of atmosphere too.

DSC09908

The children really did themselves proud and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  They put on three shows: one for the lower and middle school; one for the parents and one for the upper school, with some of the middle school children choosing to see it again!

DSC09911

My daughter used to be very shy and only wanted small parts in plays, but she has been growing in confidence every year and asked for a bigger part this time. She did a marvellous job, speaking clearly and with feeling. I was so proud of her. Steiner (Waldorf) schools are such a great environment for bringing out the best in a child. I am a passionate advocate for this type of education.

My youngest daughter, who at eight years old is in the second grade, has been learning about the Saints this year. The class put on a play about St Francis of Assisi. The children did two performances: one for the classes and one for the parents and took on two different roles, one in each performance. My daughter was due to be a baker in the performance we were watching, but at the last minute she had to take on the role of a Nun, as one of the children was ill and they all had to swap around .

DSC09897

Luckily the children all know each other’s lines (more or less) so she did really well. I was very impressed by the way she stepped in. She is also quite shy at times, but she didn’t want to let anyone down. It was a wonderful play with proper scenery, costumes and good humour.

DSC09899

Easter came right after we broke up from school, which felt rather strange as there was no time for Easter crafts beforehand.

DSC09979

We did do a little egg blowing and decorating one afternoon as the girls insisted on it but we were all out of breath after one egg, so we left it at that !!

We stayed at home for the whole holiday, which is quite unlike us as we love to travel and see new sights and sounds, but it felt like the sensible option; having a young puppy and wanting to get her settled. We saw plenty of friends over the three weeks.

DSC00031

DSC00061

DSC09997

DSC09984

 and had a sleepover party with a friend each, including a fun trip to the circus.

We have also spent time getting to know Millie better. She has doubled in size and is such a sweetheart and so friendly with people and dogs. We feel truely blessed. She is happy as long as there is a soft spot to rest, including cushions fallen under the table, a bundle of wet laundry or a pile of leaves. These are all a perfect resting spot! 🙂

She is surprisingly fast and loves nothing better than running on the cliffs with the children or going for country walks. Some have been very muddy, bless her heart!

DSC00027

As for Easter, we had a lovely quiet weekend, just the four of us. The Easter hare paid us a visit and the children were delighted to find this little rabbit statue left as a surprise. 🙂

DSC09945

There wasn’t much time for present making, but my daughters still managed to make each other a gift in secret. My eldest sewed her sister two skirts for her toys, using this pretty fabric.

DSC09949

My youngest was very specific about what she wanted to make for her sister, so with my help she created a little garden for two felt rabbits and some needle felted Easter Eggs. She made it all by herself, except for my cutting out the felt and sewing the grass to the base on Easter Saturday evening (!) due to time constraints. The vision was entirely hers 🙂 Her sister was truely delighted and enchanted by it!

DSC09970

They also made us a few very simple ornaments for the Easter tree.

And of course there were cards for us and for the Easter hare 🙂

Considering they only started their work on Good Friday, I was really impressed by their efforts and determination!

Unfortunately due to my studies and other matters, I did not find a spare moment, (where I had the time or energy) to make my daughters anything 😦 I did give both girls a meditation shawl as they have long wrapped themselves in mine when they feel tired or unwell and I always fill their papier mache eggs with a few goodies, which they appreciate.

DSC09948

It was a joy to finally decorate the Nature Table for spring and bring out fresh green cloths and soft yellows to reflect the colours in the outside world. I was also pleased to be reacquainted with the flower children I made last year  🙂

DSC09960

DSC09957

DSC09961

DSC09962

DSC09965

We also made our usual carob sweets in Easter moulds

DSC09914

and coverered date truffles  with dyed coconut shavings.

DSC09916

We used:

  • A teaspoon of spirulina powder mixed with a little water for the GREEN
  • A teaspoon of turmeric powder mixed with a little water for the YELLOW
  • Hand squeezed grated carrot for the ORANGEY/YELLOW
  • Hand squeezed grated beetroot for the PINK – a messy job indeed!
  • Squashed frozen blackberry juice for the PURPLE

We needed very little of the ingredients to achieve the desired colour. Once we were happy with the colour, I placed the shavings in our dehydrator for a couple of hours to dry them.  A low oven would also work.

DSC09912

After rolling the date truffles in the coloured shavings, we stored the rest in a jar so we can ‘jazz up’ Daddy’s birthday cake this week 🙂 A healthy option to sugary sprinkles and fun to make besides!

Apart from Easter things, we have been on several lovely walks.

Spring is finally in the air, although today is freezing!

The sight of the new buds, the catkins, the carpets of wood anenomes, the wild primroses, celandines and violets filled our hearts with joy. It has been a long bleak winter – the flowers are such a welcome sight!

We have been renewing our love for the Herb Fairies series, now that all the fresh herbs and flowers have returned for inspiration 🙂

DSC00071

We picked some violets on one of our walks and have pressed them, drawn them and done some colouring in. We also made some pretty ice cubes (for a party we are having this weekend), and stirred up some violet and dandelion honey, that the girls have been enjoying this week.

 We have a full week coming up; with my husband’s birthday on Wednesday, the children need to finish their costumes for a Children’s Parade on Saturday, after which they will have friends over for a sleepover and if that’s not enough (!), we are hosting a party for Daddy on Sunday! Yes lots to do and to look forward to 🙂

I am sorry for the long absence. I hope to be back soon! I have missed it far too much to stay away so long again 🙂 This space reminds me of all that is good in my life and that joy can be as simple as a walk in nature, a cuddle with a puppy or sweet times spent with my family or friends. And with that I leave you with a lovely photo of my youngest and Millie on a recent hot and sunny day 🙂

DSC00156

PS: For friends who visit regularly, I passed my exams really well! So pleased and kind of surprised, (considering how little time I managed to revise for). I must know more than I give myself credit for 🙂

Memories of Christmas 2017

DSC09110

It is the sixth day of Christmas and the New Year is almost upon us so I thought I would pop in to share a few of our Christmas memories from this year.

DSC09070

We made it to the cinema on the 22nd to see White Christmas and it was a lovely experience for us all. I have never been so immersed in the film (I am usually knitting or multi-tasking in some way!) and I found it very funny and heartwarming. We had a break half way through too so we could stretch our legs and have a drink and munch on the popcorn we had brought with us. T’was fun!

We had friends over later that afternoon so we spent some time baking and making sweet treats on the 21st December, which was enjoyable – both the baking and sampling 🙂

 

The stars and heart biscuits are a German recipe. The Germans I know bake a wide variety of delicious “Plaetzchen” (in their hundreds) during Advent to offer around at their cosy Advent get togethers. I have memories of looking into the biscuit tin with wide eyes, not knowing what to pick first – you are so spoilt for choice! I imagine I took a fair few! 🙂 Many have ground nuts in them, which mine do too, instead of flour which makes them nice and chewy – yum! We also made more carob sweets ( I shared the recipe here) and date truffles (the recipe is here), which were both suitable for our guests who are gluten intolerant/vegan/avoiding sugar.

 

For us, Christmas really starts on Christmas Eve when we attend a Christingle Service at a local church. The service is geared towards children and there is a lovely storyteller who weaves the story of the Nativity beautifully. We never grow tired of it. Each child is allowed to add a figurine to the Nativity scene at the front of the church and they also each received a Christingle. The service always sets a reverent mood which we appreciate.

Of course the children were also eagerly anticipating Father Christmas’s visit. We follow his journey using the Norad Santa Tracker and we always leave him and Rudolph a snack.  Father Christmas has a penchant for Baileys we think 😉 Before bedtime, we spent a little time sitting by the fire singing all the carols we know and other Christmas songs we enjoy before trying to get the girls to bed – hmmn…needless to say they were rather too excited to have an early night!!

We were up bright and early and the girls ran into the lounge with glee to discover that the magic had happened overnight- I just love to see the wonder in their eyes. With my eldest being eleven, I am very conscious that this could well be the last ‘magical’ year for her, but I think she has a strong wish to believe, so you never know….I think I was over twelve….time will tell.

 

The magic also happened on the Nature Table as we welcomed dear baby Jesus to the stable.

DSC09095

The shepherds (and sheep!) arrived the next day

DSC09150

and the Kings started their journey to Bethlehem and will arrive at Epiphany.

DSC09152

We spent a really peaceful Christmas Day in each others company. It was lovely to have a slow day after a busy Advent. We opened presents, had a delicious breakfast made by Daddy and went out to see a brass band perform Christmas songs at a bandstand half an hours drive from where we live. We do this every year for a change of scene and some fresh air and it is a really fun experience as the conductor gets everyone dancing and interracting with the band in various fun ways. We brought along some coffee and Baileys (for the adults) and mulled apple juice for the girls and some home made biscuits of course 🙂

 

Then we came home to eat lunch, followed by several games of charades – we do love a game of charades 🙂 As it grew dark, we went for a walk around our area to look at the Christmas lights, singing a few carols as we walked.

DSC09119

And later that evening, we cosied up on the sofa to watch a ballet film performance of the The Nutcracker  (from 1993 with Macauley Culkin) on YouTube. We found it a couple of years ago and it is a really lovely film for children to watch at this time of year, especially if they don’t have access to the Ballet locally. My daughters love the costumes and dancing and the choreography and casting is great. Very magical.

As for homemade presents, I actually managed to finish the Teddy Bears on the 23rd December!!! It did surprise me!  It was a close call and I promised myself I wouldn’t be up late on Christmas Eve finishing them off as I was last year, so I was open to finishing them off by the New Year, but somehow it all fell into place. A little Christmas Miracle 😉

My daughters love them so it was worth redoing them from scratch; starting again just over a week before Christmas – eek! Anyway without further ado, Meet Milly and Molly 🙂

DSC09130

Milly in the green is a little smaller than Molly due to the green yarn knitting up differently, but no matter.

DSC09132

I added little ribbons to their heads so they appear more feminine. I wasn’t sure about the way they looked initially as I was making them so quickly, but I am happy with them now. The main thing is that the girls are smitten 🙂

DSC09135

The girls sewed and knitted us some little presents. They didn’t have much time, but we were really pleased with what they made.

 

A double sided gingerbread house for Daddy from our youngest daughter, complete with little gingerbread man and lady and a gingerbread lady for me.

 

Our eldest daughter knitted me a hairband and made Daddy a cute felt snowman.

We also spent Boxing Day by ourselves because the girls wanted to spend the whole day in pyjamas and we realised we were craving this sort of family time. We saw a couple of friends on the 27th and 28th, which was a nice contrast. We also took our friends for a walk in our locality to look at the lights including a model village that some people had set up in their front porch in aid of charity.

 

I must say, those model villages do bring out the childhood wonder in me – I could have gazed at all the detail for hours! 🙂

Well, I had better be going as we might be heading to sunnier climes tomorrow. The trip is in  doubt at the moment, despite being all packed, as my husband might be coming down with something and my mother can’t go as she is ill (we have been on several winter holidays where my husband has been ill for the entire time – poor him 😦 – so we won’t risk it if he isn’t well tomorrow morning….) So I am still unsure where we will see the New Year in. I wrote about how we celebrate New Year’s Eve here incase anyone is looking for some nice ideas of how to make it more meaningful.

Well, I shall leave you now and wish you all a wonderful New Year 2018! May it be a blessed year for you all. 

Linking with Ginx Yarn Monthly Link Party and Crafting on at FrontierDreams.

December already!

DSC08896

It’s Wednesday evening, my daughters have broken up from school and I finally have time to reflect on what we’ve been up to since I last wrote…in November!….Goodness, how can it be that we are already in mid-December! The last week passed in a bit of a blur with a sickness bug affecting all our family in turn. I became sick on Monday (missing my usual spot for writing here) and by the time I was feeling better on Wednesday, my youngest took over and we spent a whole long night in and out of the bathroom 😦 This weekend it was the turn of my eldest. I think we are all on the mend now and are hoping to stay well for the rest of December!!!

Somehow we have still been keeping up with our Advent traditions. This period is so precious to us, we wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂  I wrote at length about these traditions here, but here are a few glimpses:

We have been reading our Christmas books– we found a use for the failed papier mache lantern – it’s now a beautiful bowl to hold our Christmas book ‘lucky dip’ 🙂

All the different ways we mark the passing days of December/Advent.

Mary is travelling on her Star path towards the stable. Due to illness, we have had a few false starts (!) and she has remained on a particular star for a couple of nights…but we help her catch up 🙂 We dim the lights before bedtime, light the candles (according to the weeks of Advent) and sing “Mary’s Starpath” as one of my daughters moves Mary forward to the next star.  It creates such a beautiful reverent mood, I really appreciate it.  As you can see, the path is filling up slowly; with crytals and golden shells (placed in the  first week of Advent) and pinecones, little trees and golden hazelnuts this week. Toadstools are on their way 🙂 These are added by the “elves” overnight, both to our main Nature Table in the lounge and to my daughters’ own Nature Tables in their rooms. The elves have been known to forget (especially when they don’t want to disturb sick children!) but generally they know how important their job is 😉

Steiner attributed each week of Advent to a different Kingdom and I base my Advent activities and additions to the Nature table around this:

The first light of Advent is the light of stones,
Stones that live in crystals, seashells and bones.

The second light of Advent is the light of plants,
Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.

The third light of Advent is the light of beasts,
All await the birth, from the greatest to the least.

The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind,
The light of hope, that we may learn to love and understand.

This Advent, there are only three weeks in total due to the fourth Sunday in Advent falling on Christmas Eve, so we will start the arrival of the animals to the Nature Table a little earlier so there is enough time to add the humans too!

In the week of stones, I don’t usually do too much craft-wise as the children are still at school and there are a lot of things to organise and events to attend at this time. I do always give the girls a rock to crack (with a hammer) on one of the mornings and they each receive a lovely crystal (I cover the crystal in white clay and leave it to harden).

We sometimes make clay or saltdough ornaments, but due to illness, we had to forgo that this year. No matter…

This week I have a couple of crafts in mind based around plants. I will report back in  my next post. I feel this post is going to be long enough!!!

So to rewind, we had our Gnomes Bonfire on the evening of 30th November to bid farewell to autumn and decay and make way for a peaceful light-filled Advent. We let go of all the dry leaves, acorns and conkers we had collected on our autumn walks and warmed ourselves by the fire accompanied by warm drinks and spicy biscuits 🙂  The girls set the gnomes up and took over  most of the procedure this year. These traditions are so deeply ingrained they always know what to do 🙂

I  felt a strong urge to tidy and clean the house thoroughly in preparation for Advent: It helps to set the mood to one of anticipation when the decks are cleared and the energy is lifted. Things can get quite tired looking at the end of a season, I find.  It is always a joy to set the Nature table up for a new season and there is no season I love more than Advent 🙂

The girls wrote their letters to Father Christmas which the ‘elves’ took during the night. The elves also filled our angel Advent Calendar with ornaments to adorn the bare branches over our Nature Table.

DSC08735

On the 2nd December we had our school Christmas Fayre. We helped set the Fayre up on Friday and my husband did the cooking, as he has done for many years now.

DSC08726

The school looked really fabulous, all decked out in homemade goodness. I always feel so proud of our school at this time of year, when everyone pulls together to make it happen.

DSC08731

We baked some cakes for the cafe as every family does. My daughters were keen to be involved.

I love that my youngest felt she needed to wear high heels for this 🙂

DSC08737

As I mentioned, my eldest daughter had a stall in the Children’s Market.

She sold most of her doll skirts and paper angels and all of her needle felted baubles and window stars and made a grand total of £75! She paid a percentage to the school, paid me back for the materials and gave her sister some money to treat herself with and there was still £55 left for her. She was delighted as you can imagine. The needle felted Christmas pudding my youngest made was one of the first things to sell, so she is considering making more for next year….plans are afoot already 🙂

St Nicholas paid us a visit on 6th December. The girls put their boots out by the back door and were richly rewarded.

“Our” St Nicholas always brings nuts and clementines and a little present. This year he brought a festive glass and a special coin, which the girls were intrigued by.

DSC08874

We like to read this book about dear St Nicholas and his helper Ruprecht. It is in German – it’s a shame it isn’t translated yet.

The girls have also been making presents for their teachers and “secret santa” presents for a particular classmate. They both decided to needle felt something as they were already in the rhythm.

DSC08831

When my youngest started to feel better, but was still too weak to go to school, she sat on the sofa and felted this very cute Christmas elf for her classmate!

Her teacher is receiving another Christmas pudding that she made a little while ago.

For her “secret santa” gift, my eldest needle felted a snowman, with a felt top hat.

DSC08862

She cut a circle of felt out and cut a smaller circle out of the middle. She used the ring of felt for the brim so it fits snuggly over the snowman’s head and used the  small circle for the top of the hat. I helped her cut out a rectangle to create a tube for the middle section. It came out really well I think.

Both of these were made by attaching two polystyrene balls to each other using a cocktail stick – my eldest daughter’s idea. I do feel proud of how they come up with these lovely ideas. They need very little help and what they make is of a really good standard – I am always impressed.

DSC08904

My eldest needle felted her teacher a bauble for her Christmas tree and also gave her one of the beautiful paper angels, that her teacher admired when she popped in to see the children’s work at the Fayre. She was pleased.

I am glad my eldest managed to make these on Saturday morning before she became ill as there was no time between then and now, with all the end of term festivities, carol service, plays etc. It has been a full time and is good to have a little outbreath now from all the activity and errands and take our (favourite) place at home; doing crafts;  baking and enjoying lots of cosy reading by the fire. My kind of happy 🙂

DSC08812

I have been writing my Christmas cards when possible.  Somehow I made an error when I took my letter to the photocopy shop to be copied. I asked for 20 copies of the 4 double sided A4 pages I had written, which would have been 80 pages in all. I agreed a price and the chap said it would take a little while, so I went for a walk. When I returned, I noticed a huge pile of coloured paper collecting on the tray next to the photocopier – he had thought I wanted 80 copies!!! Eeek!! I don’t have 80 friends to send this too – it really is only for my friends abroad. Ooops! What a waste of paper. Of course I paid him as I had agreed the price. I think we shall be using the paper to keep warm this winter 😉

DSC08809

In between illness, the girls have been helping me with packing presents for a couple of friends abroad and for our relatives.They have been busy little elves with the wrapping paper, cellotape and lots of stickers!! 🙂

DSC08847

Well that’s some of my news from the last couple of weeks. To finish, I just wanted to share these fab handmade socks that my daughter came home with from school today!

DSC08840

Rainbow socks – a girl after my own heart 🙂

As for my own makings, things aren’t going too well. I am having second thoughts about the teddy bear making for Christmas. I chose some yarn for the dress and shoes, but knitting it up, it just doesn’t suit the teddy’s colouring 😦 Sob! I have ordered some more yarn to see if I can find a more suitable colourway. Fingers crossed! Not long to go…may have to be a New Year’s present….

Hope you have had a peaceful and joyful Advent so far. Enjoy all that the season has to offer. Many blessings. 

Small joys and deep gratitude

DSC07999

Now that I am studying, I can only realistically devote a couple of hours each week to writing here and last week, I prioritised writing a Christmas letter instead.

I like to write long newsy letters to friends and family abroad at Christmas time and I usually spend considerable periods of time writing them; in coffee shops and at home (accompanied by Christmas tunes to get me in the mood!) Most letters are around four A4 pages long, some more. I started this in my twenties, when I was a prolific letter writer. I have always enjoyed letter writing as a chance to connect and “spend time” with friends who I rarely see. As you can probably imagine, this is rather time consuming, so this year with my study schedule going right up to the 19th December, I decided to handwrite a long “round robin”-style letter instead. It is eight A4 pages long!

Anyone who has visited my blog, will know that I always have a lot to say 😉

There is a lot to recount after a year has passed and I have tried to make the letter as personal as possible, considering it will reach over 25 recipients. I plan to photocopy it onto colourful paper and write a personal message in a Christmas card with a photo of the girls. Hopefully it will be well received.

DSC08681

I don’t usually send a photo of us parents as we don’t change too much from year to year (and besides I don’t even think I have one of the four of us!!) I really should try to get one taken as we now sponsor a little girl in India and I think it would be nice for her to have a photo of our whole family. We sponsored a girl in Africa until she reached sixteen this year, when the sponsorship had to end – Jebbeh received a lot of photos over the years!!

In preparation for Advent and Christmas, I have been looking through all my Christmas books, magazines and my brown leather-bound book, in which I have written all our family traditions. I love spending time preparing for Advent and setting an intention for a peaceful, special time. I have made a few plans for crafting and baking and arranged a couple of family outings, but am trying to keep things relatively simple as energies are low at this time of year.  There is still a lot going on at school until 13th December (when we break up – nice and early, thank goodness!

Our Christmas Fayre is this weekend. My eldest has continued to work on the pretty things that she will sell on her stall in the Children’s market. She has finished her doll skirts, angels and small window stars and this weekend she needle felted some more baubles

DSC08684

Some of these are her sisters, but she is happy to sell them for her. 

My youngest treated herself to an elf costume with some money left over from her Birthday. I think the girls are planning to do another Christmas play for us. Here they both are with their “elving” 🙂

The temperatures here have plummeted to 6 C and we even had ice on our pond.

DSC08675

It has been so mild this autumn, it feels good to have colder weather in the lead up to Advent and I am sure our Christmas Fayre this weekend will put us further in the mood.

I am treating us to the Jacquie Lawson Electronic Advent Calendar again this year. It is so beautiful and my daughters look forward to it year after year. Originally a grandmother at our school treated us to one every year, which we so appreciated, but as she died last autumn, I have taken it upon myself to treat her grandchildren and some of my lovely friends’ children to keep up the tradition. 🙂

DSC08430
One of my greatest joys in autumn and winter is to experience the sunrise and sunset – both of which are during our waking hours. The sun rises after seven now and sets around 4.15pm. We often gasp at the wonderful colours as we drive home from school; ranging from vibrant fiery reds and oranges to soft pastel pinks and blues. It is a real joy to experience such beauty in nature – it fills us with much needed reverence.

DSC08608

DSC08607

Another moment of reverence the other day was peering in at our home from the outside. I had just been in our studio and it was raining and windy outside. As I looked towards our warm, cosy and colourful home, I felt such deep gratitude for this shelter; this refuge from the cold and rain and the outside world.

DSC08662

I was walking around our City the other day and I was struck at how many homeless people there are. I always am in the winter months – it must be so tough on them, huddled in doorways in the cold, watching everyone hurrying by, doing their Christmas shopping and seeing people sitting in warm comfortable cafes. I am often considering ways to help. I plan to contribute some funds so that a few people can spend the festive season at one of the Crisis centres – a fantastic organisation that helps bring humanity and hope to the homeless. We are also planning to give a big box of food to one of the soup kitchens, who feed the homeless in the evenings. Sometimes I give a few pounds to individuals, but it never feels like it’s enough. The government needs to do something – this needs bigger solutions than I am able to offer….but I can send them my prayers, love and hope. That is what I shall do…. and make sure I always return a smile.

DSC08656

I have been enjoying studying a couple of hours each day (but not on weekends). I recently spoke with a friend (and mentor) about how I struggle with concentrating for long periods of time and how, after my long day of lectures, I had craved using my hands to craft and relax my tired brain.  My friend had a really great suggestion for me!  She informed me that the brain is only able to receive information for 45 minutes at a time before it needs a break, so she suggested I study for 45 minutes – putting a timer on – and then craft or do something I enjoy for 15 minutes – again using a timer – before returning to my studies and repeating this as often as I have time for.  It is WONDERFUL!!! I enjoy the study and love the break. This week, I had time to fold lots of kite paper so I can make small window stars to include in some of my Christmas letters. Such joy 🙂

DSC08654

I also finished knitting an Infinity Cowl for my youngest that has been sitting on the needles for far to long and it now very much needed!

DSC08685

and last week I made some lantern “children”.

DSC08691

Although Martinmas itself had long passed, I still felt that the Nature Table by our dining table would be enhanced by some lantern “children” 🙂

DSC08690

Besides, our school lantern walk only took place last Friday (due to staff illness on two other occasions), so lanterns are still very much current here!

DSC08666

I made them using peg dolls that I have had for ages. I just cut out some felt to fit the doll and glued it on with a hot glue gun (as I didn’t have high tack glue and PVA glue doesn’t work on felt). I also cut out some felt for a cape and hood. I sewed the hat together along the top using blanket stitch and then attached the hood to the cape with a running stitch. leaving two long ends on either side that I pulled together and tied at the front. The woollen hair was stuck on with hot glue, but I think a high tack glue would have been better. We gave the children a shorter hair do as the longer hair didn’t show and was bulky underneath.

My daughters liked them so much that they both made one for their own Nature Tables in their rooms 🙂 It feels good to add something new to the Nature Table every season. We have quite a collection!!

It is such a joy to make time to craft. I make sure I have the materials at hand so whenever I take a break from study, I don’t need to go anywhere (except to make a cup of tea!) and it makes the experience very enjoyable. I highly recommend it!

On the subject of joy and gratitude, we just recently received a new recyling bin. I know it doesn’t sound too thrilling, but it has made me so happy to be able to finally recycle plastic packaging (including fruit punnets, yoghurt pots, bottle tops etc). Until now, we have only been able to recycle glass, cardboard, paper, tin cans and plastic bottles and it has really bothered me not having anywhere to recycle all the other plastic. Friends and family in London have been able to recycle these for a while, so on my trips to visit them, I have sometimes been known to bring a big bag of plastic containers with me! (yes I really do!) I have also taken plastic lids with me to France to recycle!!!

Germany is amazing with its recycling. You can recycle pretty much everything which is astounding and I hope the way we will be heading.  Ideally I would prefer less packaging all round and we often have a fruit/veg box delivered in the winter months to help cut things down (and it has been a way to recycle the plastic punnets).

So right now I am feeling grateful for a lot of things, small things really, but they all add up, I find.

 There is always much to be grateful for if we look for it, isn’t there? 

DSC08000

 

Joining the crafty folks at Frontier Dreams Crafting On

 

 

Creative time …

DSC08558

I was mentioning changes here in yesterday’s post and forgot to mention that I have started a course of study in Naturopathic Medicine, which is taking me away from home one weekend per month (lectures are from 10am – 6pm on both days – quite a marathon let me tell you!). I am studying Physiology and Biomedicine this year – all very interesting, but it does feel rather taxing for my brain after an eleven year hiatus. I studied this material when I became pregnant with my eldest daughter in 2006, so it isnt totally foreign to me, but it does still feel like I am starting from scratch again. Originally I was interested in becoming a Nutritional Therapist, but since discovering the wonder of herbs, I feel more inclined to study Naturopathy with Herbal Medicine. Let’s see…I need to take one year at a time and things will become clearer if this is the path for me. It is a part-time course so will take several years. I felt it was the right time to start doing something for myself as my children are getting older and need me a bit less and it still allows me plenty of time for family life and homemaking which I love:-)

DSC08576

The long lecture days are very tiring for me and by 3pm, I don’t feel I am taking anything in anymore 😦 I always feel so glad to be home at the end of the day, where it is warm, cosy and colourful – just the right combination to relax me after a long day indoors looking at a big screen under artificial lighting! It really has been a while since I have been in a classroom environment and things have changed a lot in 11 years! (everything is on Power Point for a start!) 😉

My sweet daughters, knowing that I am struggling a bit with the change of environment, draw me sweet pictures to take with me 🙂

On Saturday evening, all I wanted to do was work with my hands, so I sewed some little beech and oak “leaf children” to hang from the branches on our Nature Table. I must say after a day of study, working with my hands was very soothing.

DSC08569

I really wanted to make something autumnal and since I have been making a lot of flower children this year, leaf children felt like the next step 🙂

Basically, I traced a couple of leaves onto paper, pinned the paper to wool felt and cut two leaves out per “child”. The child is made out of a 2cm diameter bead and a pipe cleaner for structure (see above). The pipe cleaner is popped inside between the leaves (it acts as a shoulder) and then the leaf is sewn together around all the sides using blanket stitch. At this point I glued wool on for hair and used a glue gun to stick the acorn or beech nut hat on. I sewed some simple vein lines on too.

I rather like them and am pleased how they turned out 🙂

DSC08448

My youngest daughter was keen to have a go and made a couple over the weekend too. She wanted to draw faces on hers and the beech child has hands. Here they are suspended from branches on her own nature table amongst a paraphanelia of other random “precious” items 🙂

DSC08573

My eldest daughter needed a quick project as she was busy making things to sell on  her stall at our school Christmas Fayre (like last year), so she whipped up a little pine cone ‘child’ in a few minutes! So simple and sweet 🙂

DSC08469

For two weekends now, my daughter has been working on her “wares”. She has sewn some doll skirts again as they sold well last year and has made lots of lovely paper angels for the same reason. She has also started needle felting little Christmas baubles and seems to have other plans too. Let’s see what she manages to get done in the next couple of weeks.

DSC08462

She is a fast and determined maker and is very motivated to earn some real money!

DSC08464

My youngest had a go at needle felting a few things too. Here she is working on a Christmas pudding 🙂

We had friends over the weekend before last to celebrate their daughter’s Birthday (she was born 4 days after my eldest and they have known each other all their lives). We had a lovely time, playing, eating and drinking and there were some fireworks and sparklers too as it was the 5th November.

DSC08493

At some point we noticed the children had gone quiet for a while, so I went upstairs to find them on the bed quietly weaving Ojos de Dios!

DSC08482

They look so pretty, I had to display them 🙂

DSC08504

Apart from these endeavours, it was Martinmas on Sunday. I wrote at length about Martinmas last year so won’t go into any detail here. We have been on a couple of walks up to our local park with our lanterns over the past week and are due to go for a (postponed) lantern walk with my youngest daughter’s class this Friday. It is so lovely to be out in the darkness with our lanterns lighting the way and sweet songs on our lips. 🙂

We attempted to make papier mache lanterns this year, but unfortunately the tutorial we were following wasn’t very detailed, so the lanterns weren’t a great success. 😦 It didn’t mention to use several layers of light coloured tissue paper all over (but then again not too many – I think six is probably about right), so we guessed…One lantern is rather dark – we cut some moons in there to disperse the light – and the other was too flimsy at the top, so my daughter cut the top off making it rather shallow. The girls enjoyed the process, but were a bit disappointed. Note to self to look at more than one tutorial!!! 

Any tips on making one of these would be welcome as we plan to have another go next year 🙂

To make up for this, we made some star paper lanterns for the table yesterday after school using this very detailed video tutorial. 

We all had a go and with a bit of help, we all managed to make these lovely little lanterns to adorn our dining table. We are rather pleased with the results.

DSC08589

Well that’s the round up of our creative time this week. I hope you are enjoying some cosy creative moments at home too. Joining Nicole for Crafting On.

 

Autumn Joys

DSC07959

It’s already October! Michaelmas has passed and autumn is starting to become fully fledged here, with cooler days, coloured leaves dancing in the breeze, shiny conkers on the ground and jewel like berries in every hedgerow. What a rich pallette of colour this time of year bestows on us – it really is a feast for the eyes 🙂

DSC07949

I do so love autumn – it feels so bountiful, so generous, so full of goodness.

We have been enjoying our weekend walks in the surrounding countryside and have been richly rewarded with more rosehips to dry, acorns galore and horse chestnuts to crunch underfoot to reveal gleaming conkers.

DSC07898

We have been gathering leaves to dry and use for various activities, including our favourite beeswax leaf dipping. 🙂

DSC07951

I just press them between the pages of old cookbooks.

On the subject of outings, my husband and I have made a pact to start dating again! We can’t get babysitters in the evenings as our daughters don’t feel comfortable with the idea and besides they don’t go to sleep until 9pm, by which time we are too tired to have a good time out anyway! So now we are sneaking away on fortnightly “adventures” during school/working hours. It feels so good!  It is so easy not to prioritise this time together and we have been guilty of that in the past, but we have realised as the children are getting older, we are getting less and less time to ourselves in the evening and in general, so we need to make the effort. So far we have been on a couple of hikes in the countryside which has been fun and good to chat and explore new areas.

DSC07571

My husband is going to take charge of our next date, so let’s see what that brings 🙂

We celebrated Michaelmas on Friday 29th September. At home we enjoyed baking “Dragon bread”

DSC07840

and my daughters dressed up in red for school as is the tradition. In the evening they did a little show for me, singing all the songs that they know ending with lots of enthusiastic shouting of “Michael the Victorious”. T’was fun! 🙂

:Firmly on the Earth I stand.

Michael’s sword within my hand.

When I conquer fear, the dragon’s chains I tightly bind!

Michael’s light is in my mind.

Last year I wrote a long post about Michaelmas and why and how we celebrate it. Our traditions are very similar year on year with the same Nature Table set up and mood, so I won’t risk repeating myself here (!) but here are some Michaelmas daisies from our front garden because you can never tire of their beauty at this time of year 🙂

DSC07961

Whilst my daughters worked to beautify and tidy their school, I did some tidying up in the garden and around the house. We are still picking small tubs full of fruit and vegetables every couple of days which is pleasing and the strawberries have decided to fruit again!!

DSC07834

DSC07810

DSC07904

As it was quite mild at the weekend, we sat out in the garden in the evening and had an impromptu bbq by candlelight, which was a lovely 🙂

The spontaneous times are the most memorable, I find.

As for crafts, I have been making steady progress on the pullover I am making for my eldest, fitting in some knitting here and there.

DSC07957

DSC07952

I only need to finish the garter stitch border and that will be one birthday present completed. Hurrah!

DSC07953

I am working on my second Wurm hat. I am not sure if it will be for me or my youngest yet. She has her eye on it, although she has decided she would prefer light purple to be the dominant colour. Let’s see…

Apart from knitting, I have finally finished our dining room cushions:

DSC07839

DSC07835

I backed the front with felt as I couldn’t find any other batting in town. I quilted in straight lines round the whole cushion at approx 1.5 cm intervals, as the cushion needs to be durable since we are sitting on it. I also did a simple envelope opening at  the back using fabric I already had. I have to say they are such an upgrade to what we had previously!

I also finally got around to making the crotchet granny squares I made last summer into cushions!!!! I was using them on the arms of the sofa as a colourful addition, hoping one day to get around to making them into cushions. I don’t know what took me so long!?! Luckily as I was already in the swing of making cushions, I just got on with it and it didn’t take much time at all. I backed them with soft fleecy fabric with an envelope opening (as usual!). It’s so satisfying to finish a long lingering project!!

DSC07954

My daughters have started making large conker webs in beautiful colours chosen from the big basket of scrap yarn that I am using for my long-term scrap blanket project.

They are so cheery and will look beautiful pinned up on the wall once they are completed. We aim for cosy and colourful here 🙂

I hope autumn is treating you well and you are enjoying some cosy crafting time.

Sharing at Frontier Dreams Crafting On

Crafting on…on holiday

DSC00402

I am finally back here after a six week break. It feels good to be back!

I had originally planned to write a weekly update on our five week road trip in the States; a diary of sorts, but I got the distinct feeling that things were conspiring against me on that front:  Firstly we left the power cable for my husband’s computer at home, then the wifi wasn’t great in the places when I did have a few moments to write (once we had power), not to mention it taking me far too long to upload even a few photos onto my site. After a few failed attempts, I resigned myself to an enforced rest from all things technological. It freed me to be more present in the moment and to take a break from outside input, except that from my immediate vicinity. So in that way it was a proper break 🙂 I do so benefit from a break from technology – I think we all do!  We can switch off completely in a way that doesn’t seem possible otherwise, despite our best efforts.

DSC00003
I have sooooo many photos – over 700 – and really don’t have the time to write about our trip now, but it was an adventure; fun, wondrous, surprising, interesting and at times very challenging and exhausting.

I shall no doubt write about it as a record of what we did, but I will need time for that (I have so many photos to look through for starters!!) So for now I thought I would drop in and write a little about the crafts we did on holiday 🙂

Because we were only staying for three nights at each location, we settled into a little routine of having a “home day” on the first day. We found the girls needed it; to settle, play and get their bearings. On the second day, we typically went on an outing; to a National Park, to visit a beach or take a hike. It worked out well that way and we did make a few things on those home days.

My daughters completed the pom pom garland by the second house we stayed in and after that we hung it up on our arrival at all the holiday properties 🙂

We also started collecting things for a little nature table which we set up in every holiday home. By the end of the trip we had a quite a little collection of drift wood, redwood bark, blue jay feathers, pine cones and shells – and a borrowed lighthouse:-)

DSC01087

We made some little felt Daisy ‘girls’ when we had a full day of rain, whilst staying in our cosy holiday home in Williams, Arizona (luckily we had sunshine the day after for our visit to the Grand Canyon!). We loved sitting on the porch where we could stay dry despite the rain. Porches are such a lovely addition to any house – you feel more connected to the outside world, yet totally at home.

By the time we got to the next place, the little daisy population had doubled in size – after all daisies always come in little clusters 🙂 I particularly like the ‘girl’ with the purple hair my youngest made.

DSC00421

And here is our nature table in various locations, growing steadily with each journey

A couple more weeks into our trip, we added the felt Dandelion ‘girls’  when we had another quiet day at home and the girls weren’t playing.

DSC01088

The Dandelion and Daisy Children are both made very similarly to the Felt Flower Children I made here, We added hair this time as it felt right with the hats being rather flat. We are thinking of making Poppy Children next 🙂

The girls and Daddy also enjoyed making some tiny things out of Fimo clay for the few Sylvanian family friends they had brought with them. These were dried in the oven.

DSC00048

DSC00057

My daughters also finished sewing their quilts by hand, except for the final quilting, which I will probably do by machine at some point.


DSC01081

As planned we did some tie dyeing!

DSC01275

We managed to find a tie dye kit in colours the girls loved, a lovely purple bucket (!) and some cheap white T-shirts so we were all set :-).

DSC00637

Luckily the house we were staying in had a big outside area and a great washing machine and dryer, so it went pretty effortlessly. We watched a couple of tutorials on youtube, but basically just followed the instructions in the kit.

DSC00718

DSC00719

The girls are really pleased with the results so we bought a selection of satchets of  Koolaid ‘flavours’ from the supermarket to try some more dyeing at home when the opportunity presents itself. Tie dyeing is quite addictive we find!

I also made myself another purple knitted item!

DSC00606

DSC00612

It’s an adult version of this sweater that I made my daughter in June. I just used the child’s pattern and worked out the stitches for a 36 inch bust. It was pretty straightforward. I added another section of the yoke pattern to it as I was unsure of having just three sections over the bust and I added two more button holes, but to be honest, I think it would have looked just fine having the three panels and three buttons as per the original design, but I couldn’t work it out at the time even when trying it on. Laura was very helpful with advice. My eldest daughter has her eye on the short sleeved pullover  version that Laura recently  released. I might try to make it for her Birthday in October. Let’s see.

DSC00624

DSC00628

It took me about three weeks of knitting on the 4-5 hour drives we were taking every few days.

DSC00171

It was an enjoyable knit and I am pleased with the way it turned out. I look forward to wearing it over long sleeved tops come autumn and winter 🙂 I think I may try to find some nicer buttons as the colourful plastic ones are all I had on hand. They look jolly though.

DSC01091

I also knitted myself another Wurm hat.

DSC00683

My friend in Colorado rather liked the turquoise Wurm that I made earlier this year, so as I didn’t get any wear out of it (it being almost summer!), I am going to send it to her as a surprise. This one has a bit more subdued colours, but I like the two colours together. I am going to make another in pink and purple next I think.

DSC01109

DSC01100

I love this pattern as you can guess!

I think that pretty much covers our craft efforts on holiday 🙂 I will be back soon with more updates as the time presents itself. For now we are feeling very jet lagged and things are slow and rather disorientating, but it is good to be back home 🙂

DSC01310

 

 

On Midsummer’s Eve…

DSC09475

My eldest daughter returned home from her class camp, just in time for my Birthday on Saturday (Midsummer’s Eve and St. Johns – I shared more about this festival here). 

She had a wondeful time. The weather was very hot, which was perhaps not ideal, but she enjoyed the water sports and swimming to cool down and particularly liked the extensive gardens surrounding her teacher’s house. Her teacher is fortunate to live in a beautiful location, surrounded by forests. It was a real gift to the children to have all that space to play in and explore. They could relax and feel more spacious than at school and my daughter said it was a good class bonding experience, which is just what her particular class needed. There is also something about visiting your teacher’s home and seeing where and how they live that opens up another aspect to that person. Teachers can seem like such a mystery.

DSC09376

The children camped on one of the lawns,

DSC09375

and enjoyed exploring the grounds and taking walks through the woods, accompanied on occasion by the six resident dogs 🙂

The teacher also has several bee hives on her property and the children were allowed to examine them, if they wore a beekeeping outfit.

I visited on Wednesday, but I didn’t manage to take part in the walk as they left a lot later than planned. The heat was getting to some of the children so a slow pace was required, but it was fun to spend time with the class and get to know them better.

Whilst my eldest was at camp, we spent some special times with our youngest. We went to the sea for a paddle,

DSC09360

DSC09359

played games and made home made pizza and all her favourite dishes – very much like last year really! As it wasn’t the first time her sister has been away, she adapted very quickly and also had a few friends over to play which kept her happily entertained. Last year C was still in Kindergarten. I can see she has taken a big leap in her maturity recently.

My eldest daughter returned from camp on Thursday evening with plenty of stories of camp life – memories to cherish for another year. 

On Friday our school celebrated St John’s festival,  which included wearing fiery colours, circle dancing and leaping over a small central fire. They were also allowed to put any wishes into the fire. My girls later told me, separately, that they had both wished that Delilah (our hen that died recently) was happy now. So sweet.

We are no longer allowed to take photos at our festivals, but I shared a couple on my Midsummer post last year

Our Nature Table is very red and fiery. The strawberry family are back,

DSC09479

and Mother Earth and her children have built a big bonfire for Midsummer 🙂

DSC09480

I had a lovely Birthday on Saturday with my little family and was really touched by everyone’s efforts. I have been feeling very low in energy recently and have been feeling quite emotional too, so I think everyone really wanted to make an effort to cheer me up and give me a lovely day. They certainly achieved that 🌈 They decorated the place themselves, remembering how I always do it.

DSC09481

The detail is ingrained on their memories 🙂

They even made a sweet collage of old baby photos they found of me!

DSC09451

The presents were prettily wrapped with fragrant bunches of lavender that the girls picked from our garden (to keep you calm mummy)!

DSC09392

and the vase of flowers in the Birthday ring was also fresh from our garden.

DSC09393

So many beautiful touches – it was so lovely to be celebrated in this way!

My daughters only made their presents on Friday afternoon because there was no time beforehand with my eldest in camp. Considering the limited time they had, I was amazed at what they acheived!

DSC09456

My eldest quickly whipped up some bunting for me,

DSC09472

and my youngest made me a mobile for our bedroom 🙂 Bless them.

My eldest also wrote me a quick poem on Saturday morning. As I have mentioned before she hasn’t been keen to read and write, but she really wanted to write a poem for me. I was really touched. She says she will write it again on card so I can frame it 🙂

DSC09396

That’s one to melt a mama’s heart – a definite keeper! 🙂

Unfortunately the weather had turned by the weekend and it was much cooler and quite breezy. We still had a good day though. We went out for brunch and played cards and then visited a favourite garden, with a beautiful wildflower meadow, for a couple of hours. It was so uplifting to see these beautiful flowers.

DSC09410

DSC09408

DSC09411

DSC09412

There was no rushing about (except for the children’s running!) – just a slow quiet day with my favourite people!

DSC09406

with plenty of time to smell the roses 🙂

DSC09427

DSC09430

DSC09428

I don’t know if you know, but the Fairies always have a big celebration on Midsummer’s night! We invite the fairies to celebrate in our garden by setting up a party area for them. My daughters set it all up by themselves this year amongst the flowers and it was just perfect for their fairy friends 🙂

DSC09439

There was a seating area,

DSC09437

two fairy dance floors,

DSC09435

and a fairy feast

DSC09444

and a bathing area with poppy petals floating on it for the fairies to rest on.

DSC09458

In the morning it was clear there had been guests that night. Things had been moved and green fairy dust was scattered all over. They even left us two little green crystals in the walnut bowls the girls had left out for them. My daughters adore the magic of this night. I remember as a child feeling that Midsummer’s night held a special quality too. Some books I would recommend to share on Midsummer’s Eve with children are:

Little Fairy Can’t Sleep by Daniela Drescher and The Flower’s Festival by Elsa Beskow.

The next evening I met up with a few friends for a Birthday drink by the beach. It was quite breezy, but at the end of the evening the wind had quietened and we marvelled at the evening sky and the twinkling stars. We are so small in this great vast universe and yet so interconnected to everything.

DSC09462

We spent a little time throwing pebbles in the sea, making wishes and with each throw, letting go of things that no longer serve us. We all found it very cathartic. I would highly recommend it!

DSC09464

Now just a little bit about what I have been making so this can count as a weekly round up/craft post (!)

I finished the Geranium dress for my eldest. She is really pleased with it and wore it straight away. Here she is on my birthday wearing the dress

DSC09403

DSC09404

and briefly from the back, here she is wearing the Front Range sweater in the short sleeved version.

DSC09397

I didn’t manage to capture her wearing it from the front as she soon decided it was too warm to wear all those layers.

I have also finally finished knitting my first sweater for myself.

DSC09468

I am really pleased with it. I just need to block it a bit to stop the hem riding up, but it looks great on – a lovely flattering fit I find.

And now to think of new projects. The girls would like me to make little sweaters for their dolls in the left over yarn. And I have some lovely soft alpaca yarn that would be perfect for a shawl…hmmnn let’s see….

I hope you are enjoying whatever you are working on. Joining Nicole for Crafting On. 

 

Spring felt flower children

 

DSC07842

A little while ago, I wrote that I was making some little felt ‘flower children’ to adorn our Nature Table. I have since made three more daffodils (during the time they were abundant in nature) and this weekend I made three bluebells and another tulip child. I have had the felt cut out since our holiday in Cornwall, but I never found the time to sew them up somehow. We had a quiet weekend at home, so I finally had a chance to finish them off and add them to our nature table.

DSC08623

I started making these ‘flower children’ before I realised there were instructions in the wonderful Waldorf craft resource All Year Round . As I made them up myself, my measurements and directions are a little different. There are instructions for making snowdrop, primrose and crocus ‘fairies’ in the book, so I won’t share how I made those, but I thought I would share a little tutorial on how I made the bluebells, tulips (and daffodils) with you as they are still abundant and spring is still in the air 🙂

DSC08210

DSC07914

For this project, I would recommend using 100% wool felt. I buy mine from Myriad Natural Toys. Items made from 100% wool felt look lovely for a long time; there is no degradation or pilling  – except if you have a moth in your nature table box like my eldest did – several of her wool decorations have been nibbled at 😦

DSC07778

Materials for flower children:

* 100% wool felt in the colours of your choice.
*  Flesh coloured stockinette – I used this fabric left over from making our Waldorf dolls, but any light coloured stretchy fabric would work.
*  Cotton thread in green,  thread to match the felt chosen and a strong cotton thread.
*   Stuffing wool (or toy stuffing).

All the heads are made as follows. I made several at once in a mini production line:

  • Cut a 7cm x 7cm square of stockinette. Take a small amount of sheepswool and place it in the centre of the stockinette.

DSC07781

  • Bring all the sides together and hold firmly as you tie a strong cotton thread a couple of times around the neck until it feels firm. Tie a knot and cut.

DSC07782

I am going to give detailed instructions for making the tulip child. The other flower children are made in a very similar way, except for the hats, which I will describe separately.

For the Tulip, you will need to cut

  • 8cm x 6cm of red/purple/orange etc felt for the body
  • 8cm x 3.5cm of medium green felt for the leaves
  • 14cm x 3.5cm of red/purple/orange etc felt for the hat

DSC07783

  1. Cut the felt into the shapes shown above for the leaves and hat petals.

DSC07784

2. Knot a length of green thread and sew the green leaves onto body using a simple running stitch at the top. Leave a long thread on the needle.

DSC07788

2.    Use a separate needle and thread to sew the short sides of the body together to form a tube. This can be done with blanket stitch or any preferred joining stitch. Secure thread.

DSC07789

3.    Place the head inside the body and using the green thread from stage 2, pull the thread tightly to hold the head in place. When you are happy, take the needle through all the layers – neck, body and leaves – several times at different angles to make sure the head stays in place.

DSC07791

DSC07792

4.   For the hat, place the head on the felt and roll it around the head. There will be two layers. Try to ensure that the petals aren’t right on top each other for the best effect.

DSC07795

DSC07797

5. Once you have worked out the size of the hat, remove it. Take a thread in a similar colour to the felt and sew the hat together as seen below, going through both layers,  using your preferred joining stitch.

DSC07798

DSC07799

6. Place the hat back on the head and using the same thread sew through all the layers including the head several times to secure the hat to the head. NB: best to match up the bodyseam with the hat seam.

DSC07800

DSC08622

7. Place some stuffing wool inside the body so it can stand happily.

DSC07801

DSC08617

And here you have your proud tulip children

For the bluebell child, cut:

  • 8cm x 6cm of purple felt for the body
  • 8cm x 3.5cm of medium green felt for the leaves
  • 8cm x 3.5cm of purple felt for the hat

 

DSC07825

  • Follow the instructions for the head and body as shown with the tulip child, cutting the felt out as shown above.
  • For the hat, knot the thread at one end and do a running stitch along the top.

DSC07826

  • Pull the stitches tight and pull the thread through the top from one side to the other side of the hat a couple of times to make it secure.

DSC07830

  • Using the same thread, secure the hat to the head by sewing through the hat and the head a few times.  

DSC07831

And here is the finished product 🙂

DSC08618

For the Daffodil child, you will need to cut:

  • 8cm x 6cm of yellow felt for the body
  • 8cm x 3.5cm of medium green felt for the leaves
  • 8cmx 3.5cm of yellow/white felt for the daffodil hat
  • 4cm x 1.5cm of yellow/orange felt for the daffodil trumpet

DSC07822

1.  Follow the instructions for the head and body as shown with the tulip child, cutting the felt out as shown above. There should ideally be six petals.

DSC07832

2.  For the hat, knot the thread at one end and do a running stitch along the top. Pull a little together but wait to insert the trumpet before closing the gap.

DSC07834

3.  For the trumpet, sew both short sides together as shown.

DSC07835

4.  Do a running stitch along the bottom with the same thread and pull it tight and secure.

DSC07837

5.  Insert the trumpet into the petal part and pull the thread (from stage 2) tight around the trumpet as shown.
DSC07838

6.  Sew the hat onto the head, by sewing through the hat and head several times at a  pleasing angle.

DSC08621

DSC08620

I love these bright and cheery daffodil children!

I have grouped the flower children in threes as my husband, who is a Garden Designer has always said three is the magic number for groups of plants. You know I think he is right. 🙂

Of course there are lots of variations on all of these. Daffodils come in all different colours and styles, so I made three different ones to reflect that. Bluebells also come in different shades of purple (and even in pink and white). And tulips of course come in a gorgeous array of colours.

You can add hair to any of these if you like. I prefer them without, but my daughters think they look bald otherwise. Personal preference 🙂

We are thinking of making tiny daisy children and dandelion children for the summer months and perhaps some buttercups 🙂 Let’s see….

Hope this has inspired you to make some more items for your nature table, or just to have a go with a simple craft like this.

I love making time for Nature Table crafts 🙂  

 

Sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party

 

 

 

 

May begins….

DSC08325.JPG

We enjoyed a lovely long weekend, with it being a May Day bank holiday on Monday and my husband’s birthday on Tuesday.

On Saturday I took a trip to London to meet a German friend of mine and her family and be a tourist for a day. We did a lot of walking along the river and caught up on each others lives too, which was nice. Her boys are the same age as my girls and are very sweet. We met them in Germany a couple of years ago and had a lot of fun together. My daughters didn’t want to come this time – they find London too busy, overstimulating and tiring and I must say I came to the same conclusion by the end of the day – I was so exhausted I missed my bus stop twice on the way home!!!

DSC08185

On Sunday we met up with friends in Sussex for a walk amongst the bluebells. What a deep joy it is to see that lovely blue haze amongst the trees. The place was literally carpeted in these beauties.

DSC08202

DSC08214

DSC08210

DSC08225

We met our very best friends with their daughters – who are like sisters to my girls – and we all had a wonderful time, playing fairies and just enjoying each others company amongst wonderful scenery.

DSC08235

DSC08218

I even spied a pheasant taking a stroll through the bluebells.

DSC08226

I love May and bluebell time – it is such a joyful season.

On May Day (1st May – Beltane), I added our little May Pole to the Nature Table.

DSC08312

I made these needle felted children when my eldest was still in Kindergarten and I didn’t have much needle felting experience. I was determined to make some children dancing around the Maypole! They are rather “rustic” and don’t stand up very happily, but as with many of the rustic items for my nature table, they have been imbued with some special quality after years of use and so will continue to dance for  years to come 🙂  Who knows how many more years my daughters will still appreciate the Nature Table? I imagine I will continue to decorate regardless for a while as I love having a Nature Table – it is nourishing for me too!

I did have to make some new decorations for the mobile over our dining table as the tissue paper flowers were looking very worn after years of use.

DSC08267

These paper flowers are so easy to make and bring a smile to my face. The May Day mobile is probably my favourite mobile of the whole year, so it was worth the small effort to make them anew. I thought I would share how I made them, just in case anyone out there fancies having a go and isn’t a regular crafter.

DSC08250

Cut out two identical circles of paper by folding some tissue paper in half and tracing  a circle around a tiny plate, bowl or play doughnut (!)

DSC08252

Cut petal shapes into it or just snip many many times into the sides of the paper for daisy like flowers

DSC08253

Scrunch up a little green piece of tissue paper and stick it in the middle with glue, making sure to putthe glue on the green tissue paper not the flower itself or it may tear.

DSC08256

Take hold of the centre of the flower on the underside and let it fold into itself naturally – when it is opened, it looks very natural that way.

DSC08271

Pin the flower to the mobile – using a pin in green or a similar colour to the flower itself.

DSC08309

Make lots of tissue paper flowers and pin them to your mobile with ribbons for a May Day Maypole effect. Add a candle below and let your mobile dance 🙂

My youngest had a party to go to on Monday, but before she went, she and her sister sowed their beds with (plenty of!!) meadow flower seed. We have given each of them a small bed to grow things in. They have decided to grow flowers this year, with the bees and butterflies in mind and because they, like me, like to bring cut flowers into the home.  My daughters love to watch the visiting wildlife and since it was “flower” day in the biodynamic calendar, we seized the moment!

DSC08273

DSC08277

DSC08279

There is always Maypole dancing at school, which we are invited to, but it will take place later in May this year because of the late Easter. There is quite a bit of practising to do I believe – there are some quite intricate dances! Here is a favourite photo of my daughters dressed in their May Day finery when my eldest was still in Kindergarten. We gave it to Daddy for Father’s Day at the time. They have grown up so much since then….

DSC08314

A favourite book for May Day is Little Grey Rabbit’s May Day

DSC08323

This lovely book tells us of some of the pagan traditions for Beltane. The animals wish to decorate the May tree for May Day and Hare has to ‘obtain’ a couple of Crown Imperials for the top of the crowns. I smiled when I recently discovered this row of Crown Imperials at a garden we visited, They are quite remarkable.

DSC07923.JPG

My husband celebrated his birthday yesterday. We spent a quiet morning together in a village nearby, enjoying a leisurely breakfast and walk.

DSC07571

We picked up our daughters at lunchtime as we always like to celebrate our birthdays as a family – luckily my eldest was only missing out on handwork and eurythmy so it was fine to come home early. We went for an afternoon of fun at a nearby National Trust Property. As it was midweek, it was nice and quiet, so the girls and my husband managed to have the rose garden all to themselves to play chase in. I joined in towards the end to give my husband a break. Great fun!

DSC08295

DSC08285

DSC08294

We were all hot and out of breath by the end of it!

Of course there were the usual birthday traditions and decorations. We wouldn’t have it otherwise 🙂

DSC08300

DSC08301

My eldest made up this cross stitch book mark for her Daddy in a couple of hours on Monday, whilst her sister and I were at the party and my husband was working from home.

DSC08316

I know I am probably biased, but i love it and find her so creative.

DSC08305

and my youngest, knowing there was little time to make a present, chose to make Daddy some birthday bunting in coloured card, which looks lovely and festive and will no doubt take pride of place for many birthdays to come!  🙂

DSC08306

Since I last wrote, I have been doing a fair bit of care for our little guinea pig ‘Pipkin’; dosing him up on medicine and special food via a syringe and also giving him water by a pipette as he wasn’t drinking either. He patiently let me look after him and didn’t struggle when I wrapped him in a towel to keep him still whilst administering all these things.

DSC08138

In fact it has been a really lovely bonding experience. Caring for a sick animal is quite humbling – a real soul to soul experience. My daughters also spent a lot more time than usual with him  (and his friend ‘Bubble’) and we think he is recovering quite well. His abdomen is still a little tender and swollen, but he is eating well now – mainly hay at the moment as we heard that greens, especially new spring grass can be very gassy for guinea pigs.

DSC08177

We have been doing quite a bit of research online – thank goodess for the internet! We have now re-introduced carrot and parsley and have been giving him a twice daily tummy massage with an electric toothbrush, which seems to help and he finds it relaxing!! The things you do for those you love!! 🙂 I do hope we have turned a corner. He certainly seems to be back to his old self – fingers crossed!

Apart from all the above, I have been trying to put the house back together after the school holiday (!) and had a good session sorting our new ‘studio’ space out on Thursday.

DSC08322

It is getting there – it just needs a bit of prettying up and an injection of colour/inspiration, but those are just the finishing touches, important at they are 😉

DSC08318

DSC08319

DSC08321
I am so looking forward to getting some sewing done in there. It has been a while since I have sewn anything much, except little things by hand. My youngest daughter’s birthday is coming up at the end of the month, so I had better get started!

I hope you have had a enjoyable start to the Merry Month of May!