Mabel Makes: Paper Pinecones.

Deeply inspired by the newest issue of Mollie Makes, though we hadn’t the materials suggested.
Proudly presenting Mae-Mae’s first guest blog.

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Mabel’s Instructions: ‘Get the little scissors and the piece of paper and cut dem, and then I sticked it together, and then get Mama to help you. I love glitter! I sticked it with glitter. It’s pretty. It’s blue. There was a stick in the photo. I got one from the garden and I put it on’.

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‘I wanted to make them because I did’.

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Making Things: Stitchin’ Illustrations by Clever Friends #1

 

Say hello to this dapper little fellow. He was terribly fun to make. He likes crosswords and Russian literature and Chet Baker. He’s embroidered and appliqued on vintage bed sheets. He has a reoccurring dream where he’s in an old wooden house, overlooking the ocean.

Original Illustration by Julia Croucher.

“Let me fall out the window / with confetti in my hair” – Tom Waits. / We Make: giant wall confetti.

You will need:
Sheets of card in your desired colour way.
I went with for sort of toned down disco. Like, disco for ladies. You want to dance all night, but you also make a hell of an ice tea. Do not feel limited to using card. Fabrics. Maps. Wrapping papers. Pages from children’s books. Though you may need to back these for weight. A texture wall would be great in a kids room. Or for drunk people at parties. Confetti made of fake fur. Foil. Sequins and sparkles under Duraseal. Let your imagination run wild. Channel Yayoi Kusama. Invite me over.

A pen, scissors and a template in your desired size. A side plate is perfect.

Blu-tak. Those tiny stick dots they use for photographs, maybe? I don’t know. The preferred adhesive of the person who owns the walls you are about to confetti.

 

 

You will need to:
Bake a large cake. Lay out a drop cloth on the floor in front of the television. Find the least watched most watched children’s animated feature you have. On drop cloth lay all the items the children could ask you for in an hour. Water. Face cloths. Batteries. Remove all items you would usually confiscate in an hour. Water. Face cloths. Batteries. Give the children half the cake each. Roll film.
Draw as many circles as you can fit on your card. This will take some time, but will be strangely fulfilling in the way repetitive menial tasks can be. Cut out all of the circles you have drawn. This will take some time, but will be oddly meditative in the way strangely fulfilling way repetitive menial tasks can be. Breath in and out uninterrupted. Then confetti what needs confetti-ing.

 

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We Make: Mistakes. A Pantry Make-Over. And a Give-Away.

 

Step 1: Find, in your possession, some adorable kitchen labels from Stuck on You.

Step 2: Stand, forlorn, in front of your woefully disorganised pantry. Your Spare-Room Policy of ‘if an area is a total mess, but I don’t have to look at it, does the mess really exist?’ has clearly been extended here. Look from your pantry, to the cuteness of the kitchen labels, and back to your pantry. Resolve that drastic action must be taken.

Step 3: In a flurry of activity, remove every item from your pantry and place them, haphazardly, all over your kitchen surfaces. Preferably an hour or so before you must prepare a meal for your family. This will lead you to discover that the lid of the washing machine makes a perfectly adequate chopping board.

Step 4: With hot soapy water, scrub all hardened jam, flour, crumbs and fingerprints until sparkling clean. As if on cue, have your cat walk over your freshly washed surfaces. Rinse and repeat.

Step 5: Get up at 5.30am, two days in a row, to undercoat your pantry before the children wake up and try to ‘help you’.

Step 6: Go to your local paint store for test-pots. Do not let the fact that, on returning home, you discover you do not have any of the other tools required for painting a decorative feature. You know, like painters tape. Or a ruler. This is the point where most people, on having a freshly painted pantry, all white and inviting, would just say, hey, maybe I don’t need to paint a Chevron stripe in here. But you are not most people.  Devise that, alongside your can-do attitude, a record sleeve and some ordinary cellotape will do just fine to fashion a guide for your stripe. Be pleasantly surprised with the results. Feel a little smug once you have finished. Go and have a shower. I can’t believe you left the house like that.

Step 7: As you stand under the warm water trying to wash the paint out of your hair, think to yourself what a shame it is that it overcast; that now you will have to wait until tomorrow for your paint work to be dry enough to get to the fun part of the make-over – the organising! Wonder if it’s normal to feel so genuinely excited about your kitchen cupboards. Realise suddenly that you seem to have completed a whole thought. This has not been possible during the children’s waking hours…ever before. Feel immediately and overwhelmingly suspicious.

 

 

Step 8: Expletives.

Step 9: Thank your ‘helpers’ for the ‘fine job’ they did ‘helping you’. Worry that perhaps the tone in which you write about parenting on the internet is somehow drawing these experiences to you. Try not to think too much about Thomas theorem.

Step 10: Spend another two days preparing all the meals in the wash-house because you cannot face painting the pantry for the eighth time.

Step 11: Just do it already. This is getting ridiculous. You haven’t seen the bench in a week.

 

Re-Re-Painted Pantry.

 

Step 12: Paint over Jackson Pollock Jr and Jackson Pollock Jr. Jr.’s masterpiece, ignoring their cries of protest. Realise this may well be the first in series of instances wherein you ‘don’t understand their art’.

 

 

Step 13: Once your pantry is completely dry, enjoy with great relish the grand reorganisation. Know now that this was the reason you had been hoarding all those jars. Stand back often to admire your work and to take a series of poorly lit photographs. Ignore the realisation that you could have just used washi or another decorative tape to create your Chevron stripe, and saved yourself a whole heap of trouble.

But where’s the fun in that?

 

The End.

 

And now! A  Give-Away!

Stuck on You have kindly donated a set of their gorgeous personalised kids pyjamas. Head over to their website and check out all the styles available here. Then come on back leave your preference in the comments for a chance to win. I’m crazy about the Circus themed ones!

The winner will be picked at random next Thursday the 18th of April. Good luck!

For more from Stuck on You checkout their homepage. Or say hi to them on Facebook or Twitter.

We Make: Storage Solutions – A Quick and Easy Toy Box. And my inevitable surrender to clutter.

 

I had Montessori dreams.

The children would only have hand-made toys! From local artisans! It’d be nothing but Constructivism and natural fibres and sustainability around here, baby.

Then I actually had children. And with them came a veritable avalanche of tat.

For a long time, holding dear to my previous ideals, all of their toys were sorted into type and on display. I culled as best I could all the junk that somehow found it’s way into our home. But then they would fall in love with the most ghastly tiny wretched plastic treasure, and though it would break within a week, I still had to find somewhere to put it in the meantime.

It took me a long time to come to terms with the idea of a Toy Box – somewhere to throw it all! Where it cannot be seen! But recently, as I was tearing around the house in a desperate frenzy, just sort of flailing wildly at my intricate system of Piles of Associated Items Ready for Return to Their Rightful Place, and trying to prepare the house for a play-date, I was struck with the beauty of having somewhere to throw it all! Where it cannot be seen!

I found the box that had been used by the children for every purpose imaginable in the time since I bought myself a new hoover for Christmas; every purpose, except one – Storage! I threw everything that belonged in the childrens room in this glorious box and threw it all in everyones secret hiding place for what their lives really look like; the Spare Room.

It was a revelation.

 

But I believe that if you are trapped in a house with tiny dictators all day, the things your home should make you happy. Or perhaps because I have not left the house in 3 years, my Stockholm Syndrome coupled with my Cabin Fever have manifested themselves in wanting to cover everything with with a wipable surface, I naturally had to cover the Toy Box in contact paper.

I also made a fastener by punching a hold in either side of the lid and using a pipe-cleaner to hold a button onto one side and a loop of ribbon onto the other. Because if you are going to do something, you may as well do something that gives opportunity to use all those pipe-cleaners you have.

 

When I showed the children, Mabel was thrilled.

 

Theo was furious that I had defaced his space-ship.

 

You win some, you lose some.

How To: Cure a Hangover.

Spend the evening in charming company. Drink cheap beer and expensive whisky and cider from Sweden. Solve all the worlds problems. Dance in your chairs. Tell each other all your stories until you run out and have to tell all of your secrets. Laugh until you cry and leave before you get thrown out. The radio will play your songs all the way home.

Fall into bed in your clothes. Sleep soundly for two hours and then fitfully for another two. Be unable to get back to sleep after 6am. Using only one eye, check your horoscope from your phone. Make sure to cross-reference it with the Person You Have a Crush On’s to see if today will bode well for postitve vibrations between you. This will also enable you to feel closer to them in the likely event that you are not speaking/they do not know you exsist. Feel free to assume a more preferable horoscope if yours is no good. It is important not to dwell on things when you are in your condition. Get the hell out of bed.

It is critical that you ignore your hangover at this stage. Any attention given to it will only increase its power. This phase is called ‘Action’. Clean your kitchen with great focus. This will serve you later in the day when your hangover evolves. Only when your kitchen is spotless should you allow yourself pause, albeit briefly, to swear and hold your face in your hands and vow never again. Now snap out of it. Make an enormous cup of very sweet tea and wait until it is lukewarm before drinking it. Your body will be very sensitive to liquids at this stage, so you need something non-threathening. DO NOT SIT DOWN. If you stop moving in these early stages you will never get up again. Think of your constant action as penance for posioning your temple.

It is now very important that you go and swim in a very cold ocean. Make it happen. March in with great determination. Do not pussyfoot around. The hardest part will be submurging your bits – this will be unpleasant but it will take your mind off your hangover. Get your head under. What you are doing here is confusing your body into not knowing which of the horrors it is experencing is worse. The cold or the hangover. The cold will win, I promise. The longer you are able to stay in the freezing water, the less hungover you will feel. This is science. When your body is pleasantly numb exit the water. Again, it is important that you do not stop yet. Drink the entire bottle of water you have brought with you and drive directly to the supermarket in your togs.

Do your grocery shopping. Productivity is the perfect thing for you in this state. The key to this, again, is DO NOT STOP. You are a perfect, unfeeling robot of efficency right now. Keep it moving.

The next phase is called ‘Peckish’. Once you have finished your grocery shopping, reward yourself with a very cold coke with lots of ice. It is important to keep your body thoroughly chilled. This will not only serve in assisting you to burn off all the calories of the alcohol you consumed, it will keep you at maximum freshness. By this stage of your hangover you will be ready to eat something. Keep in mind however, that once you begin eating today, you will not be able to stop. You will get stuck in that endless quest for the food item or product that will fix you. No such thing exsists. Bake a cake. Eat a huge meal. Eat a tiny meal. Have a snack. Eat an orange. None of this will fulfil you. But it is part of the process.

Now you are in the final phase; ‘Reward’. You got up…and cleaned your kitchen! You went swimming…in the ocean! You went and did the groceries…on a Sunday morning! All with a raging hangover! You are so good! Look at you! You are a saint. You are now In Credit. Send a few messages you’d usually regret…if you weren’t so virtuous! Eat the entire cake you baked…because you have excercised! Make an elaborate dinner…because you did the groceries! And finally collapse in a heap…because you haven’t stopped all day!

Try it out and report back your findings. Good luck and good livers.