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The Butterflies film festival: films we ought to have seen, but haven’t

20/04/2017

If the sudden flurry of blog posts hadn’t given it away, this week I’m on holiday.  I should have been working yesterday and Tuesday but a case settled and suddenly a long weekend turned into a whole week off.  We thought long and hard about going on an adventure, but northern France was nixed by my current lack of passport, the weather wasn’t entirely tempting for the UK, and we decided that the grown up, responsible, buying a house sort of a thing to do would be to have a staycation.  At the beginning of the week I unearthed our local Ordnance Survey map and started planning some new to us circular walks to get us all out and about in the sunshine. Yesterday we headed back to the yellow fields of my Siblings photos to see where the path went, and had a wonderful walk ending up in a picnic by the little lake, and today we’re planning on heading a little way away to Hatton, where the canal rises 45 metres through 21 locks over about about a two mile span.  It’s crazy wonderful engineering and a favourite spot of ours.

And when the children head off to bed I’ve been rediscovering what an evening without work looks like.  John and I have been hosting our very own tv and film festival.  We may not have a cinema in the basement, or something like a UHD TV Panasonic, it’s just us curled up on the sofa with a bottle of beer, a glass of pink for me, a little something purloined from the children’s Easter Egg hunt booty, and our version of cinema lighting – keeping the little spotlight on so I can see to knit, but it’s a lot of fun.  Years ago we had another mini film festival in which we watched a whole load of classics that one or both of us hadn’t seen, the sort that get quoted or referred to all the time but it turns out that you’ve never actually seen.  I can genuinely say that I’ve seen Casablanca (and loved it), and Brief Encounter (and loved the Victoria Wood spoof more), as well as Meet me in St Louis and all four hours of Gone with the Wind .  This week we decided to repeat it, albeit that some of the choices are a little bit more modern than last time.

So, this is our list for this week: another five films we really ought to have seen, but haven’t yet:

Space for the Butterflies - a festival of the films we've never watched, but really ought to see

The Breakfast Club

It’s no secret that Pitch Perfect is one of my favourite films; I love both the first film and the sequel, I’m very curious to see what they do with the third film, and the soundtrack has been the background to many a late night tapping away at the laptop.  The Breakfast Club is part of the inspiration for the Barden Bella’s finale (and yes, a plot device to get the two leads back together, but we can forgive them that).  I know very little about it, I think I only heard of it from Pitch Perfect; but surely one good film could only recommend another?

Dirty Dancing

I know what you’re thinking; I’m a child of the 80’s, how have I not seen Dirty Dancing? It’s a bit like admitting you haven’t seen Top Gun (which I have to the point that I can quote large chunks of it – sometimes it’s worrying what your brain chooses to retain), and in truth I suspect that I’ve seen snippets when I was in my teens, just not enough to have enough conscious recollection of the plot to tie together the fragments.  I suspect and hope in equal parts that it will be utterly 80’s cheese, although both John and I retain a full veto if something is just too corny to cope with.

The Ladykillers

We’re talking the original 1955 Ealing version here.  I have actually seen this before but John hasn’t so it makes the list.  I think I was relatively young when I first saw this, probably in my early teens, along with Kind Hearts and Coronets which should definitely be the second film in an Alec Guiness double bill.  It’s a brilliantly dark film and hilariously funny and knocks the 2004 remake into a cocked hat.

When Harry Met Sally

Well yes, I’ve seen that lunch scene, because you really have to have been living under a rock not to have at least encountered a clip in passing, but truly I’ve never seen the whole film so I have very little idea how it works in context.  It’s another 80’s effort, which seems to be a popular theme for this week’s festival so I’m hoping for big hair and giant mobile phones as well as a very good Nora Ephron plot.

Pool of London

Of a fairly eclectic selection, this takes the crown for unexpected. Pool of London is another 50’s film from Ealing studios; this time a drama about a heist in the City.  It gets fairly good reviews but we know if from Compton Verney.  Last year the featured exhibition was all about 50’s style and design.  It was beautifully curated, especially the mocked up rooms and the enviable collection of vintage dresses, and it only reinforced my love of mid century design.  In one corner was a mocked up 50’s cinema, complete with vintage red velvet seats and a projector showing Pool of London.  It’s not exactly a film for the tiniest among us, so we watched for a little bit and then headed onwards, and ever since I’ve had the IMDb page open on my phone to remind me that we really are going to watch it all the way through, and so it makes our list.

All we need now is for the children to sleep deeply and peacefully tonight and we can declare our festival open.  But if you were doing the same, what would be on your list? What films have you never seen but always meant to?

Thank you to Panasonic who commissioned this article. If you are interested in collaborating on a post, please take a look at my Work With Me page 

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Clothes for tall girls

18/04/2017

My mother made my final primary school summer dress.  At the time I thought that she just loved making clothes for me, and as the apple never falls far from the tree that’s probably fairly true, but looking back I’m beginning to wonder whether it wasn’t more than that – in all the trousers and shorts and sundresses, why did she make a school dress.  Blue gingham and white piping isn’t exactly the first thing you’d reach for as a creative outlet.  I strongly suspect that the answer is that she couldn’t actually get a school dress that was long enough for 10 year old me.  We’d already done the letting down of every available millimetre on my winter pinafore and moving the buttons on the shoulder straps (and the “just pull it down a bit if you walk past the headmistress and I’m sure you’ll be fine”), desperate to eek it out until the end of the Lent term. The previous summer’s dress, which would go on to drown my younger sister, just wan’t going to cut it.

Space for the Butterflies - clothes for tall girls

The benefit of hindsight comes with the realisation that I’m at that stage again, only this time as a mother of a very tall daughter.  I don’t know exactly how tall Kitty is right now, but she’s easily chest height on me and I’m 6’0″. Her Dad is 6’1″, her Grandpa 6’2″ and her Grannie (my mum) was regularly called ‘Little Mama’ coming in at 5’8″.  Kit was never going to be petite, and if she stops anywhere shorter than me I’ll be very surprised.  Last year she started the school year in age 7-8 and finished in age 9 summer dresses, and now, while she doesn’t have a uniform, she’s rapidly growing out of age 10 clothes.

Space for the Butterflies - clothes for tall girls

Which means two things.  Firstly, she’s growing out of the awesome clothes with penguins and robots and yellow submarines. And secondly, it’s becoming really difficult to find age-appropriate clothes that do actually fit her.

I can’t dress her in glittery tweeny clothes, not just because they’re just not appropriate and bring out just a smidgen of feminist rage at the conditioning of young women by the clothing choices available to them, but because they dictate the way in which people react to her.  If you’re out and about with a six year old who looks like she’s a six year old and she started being very six, especially at the end of term when she’s a bit overwhelmed, I imagine that people will give you a wry smile if they’re fellow parents.  A six year old being very six, who looks like she’s easily 10, and you get the looks and all the silent judgment you don’t need.  I’m fairly resilient when it comes to being judged on my parenting by strangers, but it isn’t fair to her.  If she’s having a wobble, the last thing she needs as she tries to get back in control of her emotions is to feel people watching her, and she’s aware enough and smart enough to pick up on that.  I would do her a disservice if I dressed her up to be all grown up before her time.

Space for the Butterflies - clothes for tall girls

To date she’s been forced to continue wearing despite serious shortages in sleeve length grown through some of my favourite baby brands, and it’s always taken me slightly by surprise because in my head she’s exactly the size a six year old ought to be.  When she grows out of her current bits and bobs from Frugi that’s it, there are no more sizes. There’s one more size to go in most of Boden and we’re out of most of the Scandinavian brands, although thank goodness Mini Rodini run on the large size – this penguin shirt is a size 116/122 (usually branded as age 6) and it still just about fits. Just. About. If you don’t look too closely.

Space for the Butterflies - clothes for tall girls

shop Mini Rodini clothing (especially the Unicorn dress which I shall have to hunt down for Kitty – we’re in a very unicorn phase!)

Suddenly I have a lot of sympathy for my mother, who did all of this without the internet, and with fairly limited options nearby (though I had some awesome tie dye thanks to living near Totnes).

I wonder whether it ever crossed my mum’s mind as she taught me how to sew, that one day I might need those very skills (and her very own overlocker) to make clothes for another very tall little girl? I’m very glad she did, though I’m equally glad I’m not called to tackle gingham.

Space for the Butterflies - clothes for tall girls

Space for the Butterflies - clothes for tall girls

And now I’m throwing open the comments for your help.  What do I not know about, what brands are there out there that make gorgeous colourful kid clothes that come in size tall?

Space for the Butterflies - clothes for tall girls

Thank you to Ladida who commissioned this article. If you are interested in collaborating on a post, please take a look at my Work With Me page 

 

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Decluttering and a moving house update

18/02/2017

When we first put the house on the market I was certain that we’d sell ours in a heartbeat and then have nowhere to go.  Now that we’re a good couple of months into this house selling malarkey I lurch between abject fear that we will never ever sell our house never ever ever (highly unlikely given that the viewings haven’t even started to slow down), and we’ll sell it but the perfect house will elude us, or possibly never existed in the first place.  It’s what keeps me glued to RightMove, despite knowing that anything in our price bracket and criteria will pop up on my email, just in case there’s something we’ve missed.  After spending a good chunk of an evening looking at every property for sale in the entire of Worcestershire I was forced to concede that we know the houses on the market right now, we know the ones we want to look at, and the rest will have to wait.

Space for the Butterflies - Wooden Dolls House from Myriad

Truth be told that’s the slightly less daunting side of the coin, if we needed to we would pop some of our things in storage and find a little house to rent near where we need to be and wait for the perfect house rather than just buy something because it had walls and a roof.  The focus now is on making the house look as near as possible to the shiny new show homes just up the road.  We started with the massive decluttering and skip filling last October half term and that did make a huge difference but even after that it’s been amazing how much stuff five people can have tucked away in nooks and crannies.

The next stage was to repaint and we’ve tidied up the garage door (now Oxford blue) and the hall and downstairs bathroom and kitchen and our bedroom all got a lick of paint a couple of weekends ago.  I should say that this is “we” in the matrimonial sense; I haven’t so much as touched a paintbrush, my special skill is trying to hide the kids toys before viewings.

Space for the Butterflies - Wooden Dolls House from Myriad

We’ve got a new carpet coming for the lounge this week which I think should help too; part of me is a little bit nervous because I didn’t choose the colour, and I haven’t seen the colour, and it’s not simply a newer version of the blue we have at the moment.  The carpet we do have has done 11 years in the heart of our home and despite many of my best efforts and the temporary theft of my parents-in-laws’ carpet cleaner, it’s looking more than a little tatty.  The new one is called Barley I think, and will hopefully make our nice bright sunny room even sunnier.  And then no one will be allowed to eat at the dinner table until we move.  After all, it’s going to be summer soon and it’s been mild the last couple of days, I’m sure we could start eating at the garden table in February, no?

Space for the Butterflies - Wooden Dolls House from Myriad

But after painting and carpet the only thing left to do is to have another round of sorting out to see what sparks joy.  It’s not a quest for minimalism; I can see beautiful minimalist homes and think they look incredible, but at the same time I know it’s not a look I could ever pull off.  By the time we count the sports kit (John), enough art materials to launch a shop (also John) and enough fabric, yarn and fluff to launch another (yours truly) all of house searches have included looking for a room to be our new studio and the majority of what is in our house right now probably will come with us.

Space for the Butterflies - Wooden Dolls House from Myriad

But some of it won’t.  In October we skipped, recycled or took things to a charity shop, and as much as I thought about trying to sell some of it either at a car boot sale or online, we both knew that all that would happen was it would sit around in the corner of the garage until we moved out, and then we’d take it to the charity shop.  It was definitely the right decision for then, but I wonder if we come up with a smaller collection of things that do actually have some value, it might be time to have another look at selling things on Ebay. Space for the Butterflies - Wooden Dolls House from Myriad

Perhaps it’s one of those markers that means I’m definitely not a millennial but I’ve never sold anything on Ebay, and only ever bought a couple of things at most.  The things I have bought have all arrived safe and sound (one knitting kit and one vintage horse brass showing a train) but I still read stories about people who’ve sold things and then they’ve got lost in the post, or the buyer says it never turned up and you have no way of knowing where it got to, and wonder if that’s really worth all the hassle.  I suspect I’m hearing about the exception rather than the rule, and companies like Shiply, that get you free quotes from couriers who bid to do the job for you, would definitely add in an extra level of security so if I can convince John that it’s as easy as it looks, that might just buy us a pot of paint for the new house, wherever that turns out to be.

Space for the Butterflies - Wooden Dolls House from Myriad

And in the meantime we love this little house of ours, even in all its new clothes it’s home, our little haven, and it’s no hardship to be here while we wait for the next chapter to start.

While we wait, tell me your success stories about Ebay, and help me convince John that it would be worth all of the effort: what sort of things have you sold, and was it as easy as I think it’s going to be?

Thank you to Shiply who commissioned this article. If you are interested in collaborating on a post, please take a look at my Work With Me page 

 

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Once upon a time there was a stationery addict

09/08/2016

Space for the Butterflies - Basic Invite Baby Announcements

When I was a little girl, birthday party invitations meant choosing between the three options in the little stationers in town (pirate, princesses or the jungle).  Your mum would write them out neatly in her very best handwriting and send them with you to school, and then you’d watch and wait for the little tear off slips to be brought back to you over the course of the next week.  We all had the same, except for one girl.  A friend of her family was in the printing trade and her party invites were, to my four to eleven year old self, a thing of beauty and loveliness.  Little cards about the side of your hand, with tightly scalloped edges, and blank swirly printed script in the middle.  The centre of the card was white but the borders were ombre; each year a different colour.

They were in a different class to all of our invitations, and as having anything personalised is just about the most exciting thing ever when you’re in primary school, we were all wildly impressed. It’s funny what your brain remembers, I don’t remember much about the birthday parties, but I could make you a mock up of the invitation pretty quickly. Perhaps it’s because they stood out so much, or perhaps it’s because they sang to the embryo stationery addict in me; the one that was already collecting up beautiful writing paper and cards, and then having to force herself to use it because nothing ever truly seemed quite good enough an occasion, and hoarding and writing are not the same thing.

To that little girl, the idea that in the future you could design your own invitations or announcements from the colour of the envelope up, with more pretty templates in any colour you want than it’s possible to look at in a lunch hour, would have seemed a far off impossible dream.

Space for the Butterflies - Basic Invite Baby Shower invitation

It was in fact nothing short of miraculous even so recently as when I was expecting Kitty. A very dear friend and colleague was trying to talk me into having a baby shower, but I was a little reluctant; I’d never been to one before, I didn’t know whether it was too American or just too un-English, and it hung in the balance until on one lunch break we started exploring the possibility of a very beautiful invitation.

Twenty minutes later I was completely sold on the whole concept, including an invitation decorated with turquoise butterflies – what can I say, I’m nothing if not consistent.

And for the record, it was a truly lovely tea party with some of my very favourite people – I’m so very glad the invitation tempted me.

Space for the Butterflies - Basic Invite Baby Announcement

Since then I’ve had family Christmas cards with Kitty’s beaming face smiling out from underneath a hand knit candy striped hat; her beautiful first birthday invitations, with a photo that took a whole morning to persuade her to sit still and smile when there was so much mud in the garden to go and crawl into; and Elma’s first birthday invitations with added snowflakes and sparkle for my winter baby.

Pip, being the third baby, got neither personalised invitation nor party for his first birthday for which I can only hope that he will in time forgive me.  We’d just got back from travelling last summer and we decided we’d much rather spend the day as a family.  Perhaps having two older sisters dancing to your tune all day and satisfying your every wish counts as a party anyway.

Space for the Butterflies - Basic Invite Birthday Party Invitation

Our general rule has been to have a first birthday party and then not bother with birthday parties until they’re well into school, or at the very least until I can muster up enough courage to host an entire class, but I’m wondering whether Pip should get a party between now and then to make up.

So this is my question for the day – how suspicious would it be to host a party because you just happen to have seen the perfect invitation?

Thank you to Basic Invite who commissioned this article. If you are interested in collaborating on a post, please take a look at my Work With Me page 

 

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Helping the incredible non sleeping baby to sleep

11/02/2016

Last night Pip was the last of my children to join H and me in our bed.  That it was actually morning is a wonderful thing, and that it would have been even more wonderful had we not already been being prodded and poked by the big sisters is a minor fact which we shall happily gloss over.

My Pip is a baby of the non-sleeping variety.  Ever since he was born he’s the one who’s wanted to be held and cuddled and swaddled and generally tucked up with Mama, and that’s what we’ve provided, in as far as we can.  I don’t mind that he feels most cosy tucked up in my arms, or that his way of reconnecting with me at the end of a working day is to need a few overnight snuggles.  But at the same time, it is rather nice to get a little bit of evening time to myself, to have time with H or time to write or knit or read or sew or any one of the hundred other things that recharge me to do it all over again tomorrow.

The balance has been that I settle him to sleep in his cot in his room, and resettle him if he needs it during the evening (teeth being the pesky things they are, even if you wait until you’re 17 months to bring in numbers 5 and 6) and then when he wakes up during the night, or possibly even the magical ‘if’, then I tuck him into bed in the crook of my arm and we all go back to sleep until the alarm goes off.

So far, so good.  Until we hit a run of teething and colds and January and goodness knows what and that lovely wee boy of mine developed quite the spectacular startle reflex.  He could be fast asleep in my arms, as in actually properly snoring, floppy arms and all, but as soon as I lifted him up and over the side of the cot, even while clutching him firmly to me, and making sure his head was above his bum, as soon as his sleeping bag hit the mattress, two bright eyes popped open, with a most disapproving glare: ” you weren’t thinking of leaving me were you Mama?”

Course not sweetheart, the thought of the yarn and the bar of chocolate and the chance to chat to your father all waiting for me downstairs never crossed my mind!

Selfish though it sounds, I know that I need that evening time to be the sort of mother that I want to be. No down time and everything feels ten times harder.  So it was time to come up with a solution.  I could just go to bed at 7pm with the kids, and there are days when I’m sorely tempted, but it’s amazing how much space a tiny boy can take up, and we don’t have the room in our room to sidecar his cot onto our bed as a sort of toddler version of a side sleeping crib, so any time that he sleeps in his own bed gives me the chance to stretch out just that little bit more.

Space for the Butterflies - Baby Sleep

But thinking about side sleeping cots, and remembering how well he slept in our battered Moses basket gave us a clue as to what to do.  And so we bit the bullet and took the side off his cot.  And at the same time we also tried to spend a bit more time in his room while he was awake and tried to make it an even snugglier place to just be.

Space for the Butterflies - Baby Sleep

There are the teddys; Doudou and Teddy, and his sheepskin blankie (so wonderfully warm to grab for both of us to wrap up in on a cold night) and his fair isle blankie, and H decorated the furniture with some of the hanging toys that the girls had loved the most so that there’s something to play with.

Space for the Butterflies - Baby Sleep

And whilst I hesitate to write this, so far it seems to have done the trick.  He’s happier about being in bed just generally if he knows that sometimes Mama can be there too, and with the side off, I can scoot him in horizontally, I don’t have to lift him high and then put him down, and if push comes to shove, or I’m just really tired, there’s just enough room for me to cuddle up along side him, even if getting back out again is more of a “throw myself on the floor and hope to miss the stray Duplo” manoeuvre.

For the first couple of weeks whenever he woke up he’d just sit there and wail for me to come and get him, but in the last few days he’s figured out that he can get out of bed and try to come to me – which is why there’s now a stair gate on his door to stop him making too good a bid for the top of the stairs. It’s such a change from Kitty and Elma who were both in and out and in and out on their first ‘side-free’ nights.

Space for the Butterflies - Baby Sleep

I’m trying to tell myself that it’s really early for us to have taken the side off, but I think that’s my subconscious playing tricks on me; Pip still feels in every way still such a baby compared to Elma, who at his age was not far off becoming a big sister, and yet Elma lost her sides when she moved into the girls room and I know we’d taken the sides off Kitty’s cot before Elma was born, so perhaps it isn’t so early after all.  But oh does it make him look so very teeny tiny all snuggled up in a ‘big bed’.

So keep your fingers crossed for all of us- and long may the lovely sleep evenings continue.

thank you to Online4Baby for sponsoring this post, for more information about sponsoring posts, please check out my work with me page