Last night we went out to a friend's house for a delicious rabbit supper, and afterwards, while the adults chatted, Meggie discovered some enormous and quite frightening masks in the sitting room. "What that, Mummy?" she asked in a small, worried voice. "That's a mask, Meggie," I replied, trying to sound neutral (the masks were kind of scary). "People put masks on their faces sometimes, and then they might dance about or pretend to be an animal." "What that, Mummy?" she asked, pointing at another strange mask. "That one looks like a birdie, doesn't it? It's a birdie mask." I had to add the "ie" to the end of bird to make it sound super-cute and friendly. "I don't like masks, Mummy." "Fair enough, Meggie."
So today I decided I needed to introduce Meggie to the fun of masks, to teach her not to be afraid of them. Cunningly, I didn't launch right in at the deep end, but instead got Meg to help me to make a sheep. We cut card, and squeezed a bottle of PVA glue, and spread it about with a spatula, then I let Meg stick the cotton wool balls on without any interference from me. I cut out a black paper face, and invited her to stick the goggly eyes where she thought they should go (with very realistic results - much more side-of-the-face than I would have ventured - but that is, in fact, where sheep keep their eyes). We used pegs for the legs (and it sort of stands up on its own, if you're very patient) - and here it is drying above the wood burner (with an extra couple of pegs pinning it to the line to confuse things):
She was very pleased indeed with the sheep. I was a little disappointed that it only took about seven minutes to make, having somehow wrongly imagined that it would be a merry half hour filled up with crafty goodness and sticky joy. Then I made my move. I brought a mask down from upstairs and showed her how silly I looked in it, and tied to imply that there was a lot of fun to be found just behind it. She was very firm about it. "No, Mummy. Horrible. Put mask away. I don't like masks." I got Daddy to put it on, and he pretended to enjoy it too, but again Meggie was unconvinced. I informed her that Mummy was going to help her to make a sheep mask, and she shook her head and demanded to watch Pingu on Daddy's "yaptop."
So I made the mask, and tried to get her to wear it. She wouldn't touch it, but she was starting to think it was funny when I had it on. And to cut a long story short, she wouldn't wear it, no, she wouldn't wear it, she didn't want to wear it, Mummy, so I stopped asking and did some washing up and in the meantime she suddenly forgot that she wouldn't wear it and put it on.
So I seized the moment and grabbed my camera:
And lo, Meggie's fear of masks was conquered (sort of) in an afternoon of craftiness and woolly delight.
And later, after she'd gone to bed, I celebrated the fact that today I found a long-feared-lost bag of felt offcuts by making a goggly-eyed grey mouse badge thing (which took much longer than it should have, but is quite cute) which might become a prototype for various Christmas presents (sorry, I said that word, but I suppose it is November) for Meggie and/or her toddler friends.
What have you been crafting lately? Do you also start to crave a busy-fingered creativity as the evenings draw in? Will you be making any Christmas presents this year?
Look what we've harvested from the polytunnel! A whole wheelbarrow full of giant winter squash, which will hopefully brighten up our meals throughout the darker months. All originating from the Real Seed Catalogue, there are Anna Swartz Hubbard Squash, Waltham Butternut, Burgess Vine Buttercup, Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato (an acorn-type squash) and one which we can't seem to identify - a mystery squash, if you will.
The polytunnel is looking bare after the abundance of greenery which filled it until a couple of weeks ago. This year we are going to try to grow as much as we can over winter, inspired by this book:
I'm not sure how the three months of No Direct Sunlight (thanks to the hill to our south) will affect the growth of the rainbow chard, lettuce, broad beans and so on, but we're determined to give it a go. Today I'm planning on buying a trio of garlic bulbs from the Co-op in order to plant them out. Last winter's garlic did OK (particularly the shop-bought stuff, unfortunately not so much the expensive organic elephant garlic), we just didn't plant enough of it.
I have been looking forward to getting into my birthday present from myself - How to Grow Perennial Vegetables by Martin Crawford - and hoping that perennial vegetables might form part of the solution to the problems we had this spring - the slugs destroying baby seedlings, the rain saturating the soil and the lack of summer sunshine retarding growth. Which reminds me, we need to dig up some of the Jerusalem artichokes and see whether or not their debut season has been successful!
I still want to tell you about the fantastic apple juice we made using donated apples and a borrowed press, but I shall leave that for another day - until then, here's a little taster: