Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Comfy Make: forward planning for Mother's Day

Half term is now a becoming a distant memory, and a level of normality is once again descending on the Comfy Marmalade household.  It's been lovely having the kids around for a week, and it's also lovely to see that they're so happy to be going back to school.  Luckily our two are having a ball at school at the moment - they have good teachers and a good circle of friends, and they go into and come out of school with a smile, which is both a joy and a relief for me.  I know and appreciate that school life may not always be this good for them and that the years ahead will bring challenges as well as good times, but at the moment they are happy and therefore we are happy.  Long may it continue if possible.

And as nice as it's been to have them around, I confess that I am a creature of routine, despite my best intentions, and as such I am enjoying getting back to standard day-to-day life.  I've missed being creative on my own this past week, and I've missed my blogging, which has surprised me and pleased me - I wasn't sure how I would take to this whole blogging thing, but I have to say it brings me a great deal of pleasure, and so as long as I enjoy blogging I will continue to do it!

Spring is showing itself here in our valley - we have tete-a-tete blooming on our kitchen windowsill...

Aren't these beautiful?  Don't they just shout 'Springtime!' to you?
The pre-planted bulbs only cost £1.50 from a local supermarket

...and an amaryllis bought by one of the Husband's lovely customers is also showing much promise.  Bulbs are pushing through the soil in our garden, and the Husband even heard a couple of woodpeckers whilst walking the dog this morning, who I'm sure are earlier than usual.

Amaryllis from a lovely customer, pansies in one of our window boxes,
and spring bulbs about to blossom in our yard.
We found the old chimney pot in a skip and took it (with permission) years ago;
I made the blue planter at a workshop at the Clay Studio in Manchester last year.

As spring approaches with haste, I've been thinking ahead to forthcoming notable dates in the UK calendar, and the next 'biggie' is Mother's Day, also known as Mothering Sunday, which this year falls on 26 March.  I think in the USA it's in May in which case, my American friends, this blog post will enable you to prepare well in advance!  I'm not sure if other countries celebrate Mother's Day, must Google that… 

Mother's Day is always bittersweet for my sister and I, as we lost our Mum when we were both very young - 3 and 5 years. Dad did the most amazing job of bringing up two daughters on his own, with support from grandparents and a wider circle of family and friends.  Dad has always been cynical of celebrations such as Mother's / Father's Day and Valentine's Day, taking the view that card companies and the like promote them for their own profit. Which is probably true.  However, he would not have seen his own mother or mother-in-law go without on Mother's Day, and so this day every year for us was about celebrating the contribution our grandmothers made to our lives, whilst remembering Mum with simple bouquets of flowers.

When I became a mother myself, it made me appreciate even more what our mum missed out on, not being able to watch her own children grow up, and also made me realise just what an amazing job our dad did for us.  Clearly we need to appreciate, love and spoil our mothers throughout the year and not just on Mother's Day.  But I do think there's something nice about marking your affection for your mother with a special day, and even more so if you can side-step the card companies and supermarkets and instead make something unique and personal yourself to give to them.  So although we still have a month or so to go, I thought I might suggest a couple of gift ideas that you could make for your own mother, or that your kids could make for their Gran.

One really simple idea is to get a plain, ideally white, ceramic item - maybe a plant pot or a plate? - and a porcelain pen.

One ceramic white item.  One porcelain pen.
You can pick up ceramic items for a couple of pounds anywhere really, and you can buy porcelain pens online very easily.  Using your porcelain pen, make a pattern or a drawing on your pot.  It could be random, patterned, swirly, spotty - use your imagination and let your pen run wild!  If you want to, mark the bottom of the item with the date and a nice Mother's Day message.

This is a design I popped onto my pot, kinda floral and kinda not...
I quite like this circles and vine design...
Leave it to dry properly for a couple of days and then, following the instructions on the pen, 'bake' the pot in the oven to seal the pen marks (my pen suggests 35 minutes at 150 degrees C).  This idea works especially well when you get the kids involved - the Boy and Girl did a mug each for their grandparents one Christmas, which they absolutely loved.  The Boy's design for Grandad was particularly random, shall we say, and he gave it the very apt title 'A Messy Christmas'! I think, however, that this idea is best kept for an item that doesn't need to be immersed in water very much, as sadly the designs on Grandad's beautiful mugs, which were being used on rotation weekly, did start to wear off after a while which was a real disappointment.

Or how about creating a unique photo or picture frame?  Find a cheap picture frame with a simple design - as plain as possible is best, no lumps, bumps or ridges.  Then, using the decoupage method I described in one of my first ever posts HERE, cover it in scraps of floral or brightly coloured paper.  In true Blue Peter style, here's one I made earlier!

I got the basic frame from a charity shop for a couple of pounds;
the papers I used were all ripped from magazines I've kept especially for this purpose.
The picture came with the frame and I quite like it, however for Mother's Day I would use a
mono (black and white) picture or photograph to make the colours of the frame pop.
Top left corner...
...and top right.
As a contrast, pop a black and white photo of something she loves into it - it could be a photo of her grandkids, a favourite place to visit, maybe even a copy of one of her own wedding photos.  Or perhaps get the kids to make handprints in black paint and write her sweet messages and pop those in.

Finally, how about getting a long, plastic planter, the kind you put on window sills.  You could decorate it, maybe using coloured glass beads, buttons, painted bits of pasta, anything that will make it colourful.  I usually use a black planter as it makes the colourful decorations really stand out.  Then fill the planter with spring plants, which you can buy really cheaply from your local garden centre.  If your mum has a short-ish name, how about spelling her name out with plants?  For example, Nancy: Narcissus, Amaryllis, another Narcissus(!), Calendula, Y... hmm, you've got me there, but you get the idea right? Or maybe find plants that spell out the word 'Mother'?

OK, this is not my planter.  I'm not great at gardening or with plants.
You can find this particular planter over at Hooks and Lattice.
But how thrilled would you be to get something like this for Mother's Day?
Simple but effective.

There is nothing better, I think, as a parent, than getting a card or a present made by someone you love, especially your children.  My kids have gifted me the smallest tokens and, bless their sweet hearts, often make little love notes and surprises for both myself and the Husband.  And I cherish (and keep) every single one, even the scraps of paper and sometimes even the unfinished, interrupted masterpieces.  I treasure them, because I know how fortunate I am to be able to experience moments and days with my children that my own mother sadly did not with hers.

And with that I'll bid you farewell.  Happy creating!

Bye for now xxx

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