Monday, 23 October 2017

Creative indoors on a stormy weekend

I had plans for this past weekend, had the weather been good.  I really, really wanted to get outside with my camera to capture the last hurrahs of the autumnal colours, however Storm Brian had other ideas.  Saturday morning was reasonably OK, but by mid-afternoon we were being battered by incredibly strong winds and driving rain, which not only scuppered any photography plans I had but also whipped every last leaf off the trees, leaving them looking very bare and sorry for themselves.  Ho hum, I guess that's the beauty of early autumn over and done with for another year… incredible to think that it was only last weekend that I took the kids to the park in flip flops!

A photo I took a couple of weeks ago of a beautiful leaf in our local park -
sadly I suspect I won't get any opportunity to photograph such a fine specimen until next year now 

I took this photo a week last Sunday, when it was so warm that I abandoned the boots and
donned the flipflops - what a difference a week makes!

As Brian did his worst, we 'battened down the hatches' and basically hibernated for a couple of days.  It can be challenging at the best of times to amuse a 5-year old boy and an 11-year old girl stuck indoors for 48 hours, but we managed - just.  We resisted the temptation to take the easy option and let electronic gadgets amuse them, and I'm glad we stuck to our guns.  Both kids stated they were bored on a number of occasions, but rather than chucking an iPad or phone at them for some peace and quiet, we gently suggested that they try and find something in the house to amuse them rather than looking to us for entertainment.  And lo and behold - after five minutes of grumbling they got off their bums and did just that!  I'd much rather they were able to self-amuse, even if they do complain about it at first. They even played with each other for a while which, as they get older, is becoming more of a rare event.  The wooden train set was dusted off and they spent a while playing with it together.

The Girl and the Boy will still occasionally play together,
as evidenced here as they set up the train tracks

They dipped in and out of some of their current favourite books...

The BFG is the Boy's current favourite, and the Dork Diaries series is the Girl's

...and we did some papercrafting on Saturday afternoon.  This is one of our favourite family crafting activities and it's well worth giving it a go with your own young charges - it's cheap, colourful and more than a bit messy, but the end results are fab.

If you have the space, try and keep a stash of crafting paper.  Or just rip colourful pages
out of magazines or save wallpaper scraps.  Papercrafting is one of our favourite crafty pastimes!

Over the years I've collected pages and snippets of colourful paper from various sources - sometimes craft paper but more often than not I've also cut colourful photographs or full pages out of magazines, collected wallpaper samples or saved funky packaging. I use them for my own crafts, and the kids love using them in their creative endeavours, too.  This weekend, the Girl personalised one of her many notebooks using small pieces of paper she'd cut from random sheets (and she drew the person in the centre of the photo herself - clever girl)…

I love the hand-drawn picture of the person in the middle!

… and the Boy created this minimalist masterpiece (and a whole lot of mess!)

Simple but effective.  I have no idea what it's supposed to represent, but I like it!

I decided to update my decorative branch, which sits on our mantelpiece in an old milk bottle. Up until now it's been festooned with felt leaves tied on with embroidery thread, but it was looking a little jaded.

I drew a leaf shape freehand and made a cardboard template, and then sifted through my paper stash and chose a selection of sheets that complemented each other. I chose sheets with a pattern on both sides, so that the leaves look pretty whichever angle you view them from. I used the template to cut out the leaves, then hole punched each one. I think the branch looks really lovely and much more colourful now - what do you think?  The papercrafts went down a treat and kept us amused for a good few hours.

I love these paper leaves, so simple and cheap to make and very eye-catching

We've also had some precious time with family and friends this weekend, some planned and some unexpected. On Saturday I dropped off a couple of Dad's teapots with a friend, Sarah, who I know will cherish them. I took the Boy with me and we were invited to stay for a while. As the Boy played with Sarah's son, Joe and the wind howled outside, Sarah and I enjoyed a really good chat over a cup of tea.  Sarah and her family will be relocating to the Isle of Skye shortly so time with them is invaluable. We will miss them…

On Sunday afternoon we played host to a cousin of mine and her family as they called in to collect a beanbag I'd mended for them.  They came armed with a fox-shaped chocolate cake, made by their gorgeous daughter Lizzie, which I really should have taken a photo of before we dived into it.  The Husband had also made a lemon drizzle cake (my favourite!), and warming drinks were enjoyed.

And later that day we were pleasantly surprised by a visit from the Girl's best friend, Charlotte, who was making the most of the improved weather on a bike ride with her dad and popped in to say hello.  The Girl was delighted and it was lovely to see Charlotte, who is a much loved member of our extended family.  Happy, happy times.

With the weather so cold, dark and dismal this weekend it really has made me think about all things cosy and comforting as we head rapidly towards winter.  I've loved cosying up under my selection of homemade crocheted blankets these past two days - the explosion of colours really cheer me up no end, and they are so very warm.

My blankets [puffs up chest with pride]
So proud that I made every single one of these colourful lovelies

I've also been flicking through a new magazine called Creative Countryside.  There's every chance you may not have heard of it, as this is issue 1.

Creative Countryside magazine, a gem of a find. It's blinkin' good

I came across it because Sarah (who I mentioned earlier), is Nature Editor. It's a gorgeous quarterly publication: no adverts, weighty good quality paper and a range of interesting articles (accompanied by beautiful photos) which focus on the simpler things in life.  I believe edition one, which focuses on autumn, has now sold out and am very much looking forward to the winter edition. I've managed to snatch an hour or so this weekend to read it, curled up on Dad's old chair, with blanket and brew. Bliss.

What else have we done to cheer ourselves up this damp and dreary weekend? Well, we've supped warming soup and been treated to the Husband's legendary fish pie…

Soup, hearty and warming. Best served with a couple of slices of buttery toast. Yum.

The Husband's fish pie - absolutely delicious

…we visited our local Home Bargains to see if we could find anything cheap and cheerful to amuse us, and bought the Boy a Minions poster book, which he loved. But he loved the price sticker more and insisted on wearing it all day Saturday…

Cuteness personified #1. I think he's worth every penny.

…we've fussed over the dog, who has been most put out by the weather but who has been treated to extra hugs from us all and many sofa cuddles as a consolation…

Cuteness personified #2. The dog was mightily hacked off by the weather.
Here he is looking grumpy (but still cute as a button)

…and of course we've danced until we could dance no more to Strictly Come Dancing! Non-participation is not an option in our household…

We've managed to make the most out of what might have proved to be a couple of days of miserable-ness. I hope those caught up in Brian's storminess managed to stay safe and dry, and I wish you all a happy week ahead.

Bye for now xx

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