Tag Archives: Sewing

Because We’re Happyyyyy…

Yesterday was one of the most joyous days we’ve had in a long time!  🙂 Maybe because it was a beautiful spring day?  Or maybe because I ditched all work (apart from an hour writing my blog in the morning and half an hour cooking dinner in the evening)?  Maybe it was because J played chase with them in the garden rather than taking them out (because they didn’t want to go out)?  Or maybe because I prioritised playing on the girls’ makeshift boat and actually got into it rather than thinking of a thousand other things I could be doing instead?  Or maybe it was because I played happy tunes on Spotify while the girls made art in the kitchen and we all sang and danced along?  Or maybe all of it 🙂

Whatever it was, M was practically bouncing off the walls, shouting ‘I’m so happy!’.  The energy of the day really reminded me of when we first began home educating: it was summer so the girls could run in and out of the house; I was fired up with excitement because of our recent decision to HE and I was strewing like mad, thinking about all things we could DO; both girls were filled with relief and happiness at not having to go to school anymore.  I still remember the day I turned around to look at M in the back of the car (grey faced, dead-eyed, utterly miserable, looking like she was about to be fed to the lions), D was crying and so I turned the car around and they never went back.

I wish all children had the right to be home educated.  Oh right, they do!  Ok, I wish more parents understood it and saw it as a valid alternative to school.  I wish everyone would take their school goggles off and realise that education doesn’t have to be so pressurised and robotic and that there is more to life than SATs and GCSEs.  Oh yes, and that there are other ways to socialise than with 29 other people your own age (because we all do that as adults, right?).

Anyway, back to our happy day yesterday: I always feel it’s a pity there aren’t two of me – one could do the energy filled play days, while the other lies down to recover.  They could take it in turns.  I’m highly introverted and I need a lot of time to be on my own!  Or at least just thinking my own thoughts rather than dealing with everyone else’s.  Hence, these magical energetic days don’t happen all the time as I would probably go insane, or more likely, depressed.

I’ve been making a concerted effort to just play the last week or so.  I find it so easy to do craft, or artwork, or taking them on a day trip, but I find simple imaginary play so hard, and a little boring if I’m honest.  So yesterday I pulled a long forgotten toy out of the basket and joined the girls in a game on the boat.  M isn’t big on imaginary play either but she joined in too and was soon in a heap of silent laughter as D entertained us with a hilarious role play with her toy rabbit, Cute Twitchy.  I actually found myself really enjoying it. 🙂

I’ve also been trying to say ‘yes’ more to D (I’m on a constant quest to say yes more, as a small voice inside me is saying ‘actually I would like to sit down and have a cup of tea’).  So when D asked me to make Cute Twitchy a toy carrot I inwardly groaned (imagining myself to be sewing on my own for hours after D gets bored and wanders off) but I said ‘yes’.  D actually did a fair amount of the work but got tired of sewing at the end so I finished it off for her.  M also got engrossed in making a top for her toy, Pink Teddy, but got stuck when deciding which buttons to use from her beautiful collection.  I’m sure she’ll get there eventually.

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We also did another D-inspired activity: she had asked for a pestle and mortar for Christmas, after seeing a scientist grind lapis lazuli on a science program.  It’s been sitting on the shelf for a long time so I suggested she might like to pick some grass to grind.  Luckily, I had accidentally bought two so M could join in as well.  They crushed grass, dandelions, daisies and few early forget-me-nots.  Then D moved onto spices and she tried poppy seeds, cloves, and fennel seeds.  We enjoyed the smells (they even ate a clove each!) and chatted about why lapis would have been so prized (M was disappointed she couldn’t make a blue sky).

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We then watched a couple of films before returning to the kitchen to do more grinding and painting.  We had a quick read of this article, before having a go at using white vinegar instead of water to make the paint – it really lightens the colour.  M noticed I had chopped a red onion and asked if she could make paint from the skin.  D used uncooked skin, and then I boiled the rest and M crushed that.  It turns out that boiling it first makes a much deeper, pink paint!  We’re really looking forward to getting some berries to have a go at crushing next. 🙂

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The day finished with another game on the boat, and then D decided she’d like to teach me and M about numbers instead of having a bedtime story.  I could hardly stand it, she was so unbearably cute while she patiently explained to me all about the patterns she can see in numbers and what the bigger numbers look like.

Just to finish, J took the girls to Battersea Park over Easter weekend and they had a go at water-zorbing… I want a go!



Creative, Autonomous Sausages

We’ve had a creative few days – Lego building, sewing, drawing, Minecraft and sewing: M noticed an embroidery hoop in her Stitch by Stitch book and wanted to try using one. So I dug one out and she helped her draw a template for a bird.  She chose the fabric from our scrap bag and taught herself how to do a blanket stitch from her book. Very impressed 🙂

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We tried out an activity at the National Gallery – Drawing Sunday.  This class was all about tone – we examined 3 paintings/drawings and looked at how colours change depending on light and various other things that I have now forgotten!  The class finished with all the children having a go at shading a template of the angel’s face from Da Vinci’s ‘The Virgin of the Rocks.  It was all very interesting for me, even though it was aimed at children :). D was bored to tears but luckily M really enjoyed it.  The classes run every fortnight so I think we’ll definitely try another one out soon.

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When we got back home, D got straight to work playing with her bunnies while M played on Sims Freeplay on the iPad (her new favourite app).  Then J took them to their Aunt Sh’s house and they came back a couple of hours later having made cars out of Lego.  The cars have been played with quite a bit since!  J transformed the lounge into a race track using pans, teddies and piles of DVDs for bridges; blankets and sweets for paths; and cushions for mountains.  It’s still there now although Lollipop Lane has been mysteriously shortened.

M’s Castles and Cannon’s Minecraft course started this week – there doesn’t seem to be anything set to do until next week but M had fun buying things from the ‘shop’ and exploring their server.  I’m really hoping she enjoys this course as she’s really excited about it!

It was back to art class this morning and this afternoon we’ve had to do some homework for Brownies (leaving it until the last minute!). M had to find a picture of a Brownie from another country and write a few details about the country too.  She hasn’t enjoyed it much and I feel resentful too – it brought back memories of ridiculous research homework she’d be given at school, which the parents inevitably ended up doing.  So yes, I have done most of the work and we’ve had a few tears from M about it too.  Humph.

It re-emphasises to me how important autonomy is to the sausages. 🙂

A Week in the Life of a Home Educating Family: Tuesday 2015

We’re still a bit poorly here but things are warming up a bit 🙂

If you missed the previous days, please click on the links below:

Sunday and Monday


I come down late again after a bad night with D.  She was awake for 2 hours in the night because of her cold.  The next 2 hours are a rush of putting food together for our morning out and getting dressed and breakfasted (the girls have art class on Tuesday mornings).  D doesn’t feel well enough to go so J offers to look after her at home but she says she’d rather sit in the car with me.  So she chooses a pile of books and I pack a few activities.


We set off in the car for art class but after 1 minute M says she feels sick!  We deliberate for a few minutes as to whether to continue our journey but in the end I decide that because we’d be out of the house for 3 hours it wouldn’t be good for her to be feeling ropey for all that time.


The girls settle down to their screens: Endless Spanish for M on the iPad and Mario for D on the Nintendo.  Then we watch Princess Bride.  This was the film we were supposed to see at The Barbican yesterday.  They both liked it – yessss!



We watch it again!  There was a lot of explanations of phrases, jokes, immunity, gigantism and the whole plot.


I did some cleaning and D helped me mop the floors – she loves that job.  She then did a few more stitches on her sampler.  J goes out to work.



When the film finishes, M plays on Animal Crossing: we’ve learnt how to time travel so she goes back to Halloween, which she missed because we were out at my sister’s party.  She has to figure out puzzles to win candy.


Spanish is definitely the theme of the day: D picks up words through Dora and M continues to play Endless Spanish.  M is so pleased because she’s learnt about 15 new words and is deciphering the words she hasn’t learnt yet.  She’s also learning the sounds of the Spanish alphabet.  I invest (£9!) in an in-app purchase so she has more words to choose from.


We have to go out to the vet’s for Morris’ myxomatosis injection.


Back from the vets and I start to cook dinner.  Morris is peeved and won’t communicate with any of us so M goes off to practice her Spanish.  D wants to do her sewing but I can’t help her at the moment so she watches more Dora instead.


We’re back in the car again and on our way to Brownies.  It is possible to walk there but it’s dark and wet so we drive.  We discuss hurricanes and try to remember the different wind levels from our How the World Works book.


Back home again and D declares it’s wonderful for us to have some time alone together.  Hilariously, she then puts Dora back on.  I make her some Nutella on toast while she watches.  We then watch My Little Pony together and D delightedly explains the plot as we watch.


Out in the car again to pick M up from Brownies.  M is so excited because she’s got a new badge – World Traveler.  She had to count to 10 in Spanish, make a passport and write a postcard. 🙂


It’s time for their bedtime stories – the day seemed to go so fast!  D chooses to play Lumino City instead of having a story so we play together for 20 minutes and then I read Heidi to M.  I leave D playing on her My Little Pony game, while M plays her current favourite card game: solitaire.

It is now 10:50 and the sausages are still awake!  Time for us all to go to bed.  🙂

A Week in the Life of a Home Educating Family: Monday 2015

Blimey, what a day.  Not one I would use to advertise the gloriousness of home ed but there you go.  Actually, today goes to show that some days can really turn out to be pants but that the flexibility of home ed makes even pants days easier.  I thought we’d be having a lovely day out in London today, but D got a lurgy…

If you missed yesterday’s post, you can see it here.


I come down having had a rough night with D who has been vomiting since 4am.  I feed some very hungry rabbits and sit down with a cup of tea to do some admin on my laptop.


D and M come down.  D is still feeling poorly so she rests on the sofa and J puts My Little Pony on for her.  After M’s usual routine of feeding the rabbits and having breakfast, she begins her cross-stitching again.  I continue to work on my laptop: doing a bit of data entry for J, some online banking and then finishing off the online food shop.  Today, we were supposed to be going to see a free film (Princess Bride!) at the Barbican cinema as part of the Into Film Festival but we obviously can’t go to that now.


J has to go out to meet a client and decides to take M with him so she can have a treat in the coffee shop.  While they’re out D is sick again for what turns out to be the last time today, thank goodness!  As soon as the sick is done it’s like a light goes on inside her and she wants to know what number all our birthdays add up to (110 including the bunnies, if you want to know) and then we have a long discussion on birthdays as she doesn’t understand why they’re only once a year.  This leads on to a question about why the seasons always go in order so I do a little diagram and get the globe out to demonstrate how the axis changes the amount of sunlight we get throughout the year, thus creating the seasons.


Quite an impressive amount of learning considering how ill she is. 🙂


M comes back with J.  M and D play with the bunnies and then decide to finish off their tree decoration by adding glitter.  There’s quite a bit of discussion as to how best to do it – the whole project has made for a lovely bit of team work and the tree is pretty good too!



M then goes off to play Lego.  D wants to start a cross-stitch project after seeing the Stitch by Stitch book I rediscovered and displayed on a shelf yesterday.  She does about 10 stitches and then is too tired to continue so plays on a My Little Pony game on the iPad for a while.


D then asks for baked beans and toast but she only has a few bites before she feels sick again, the poor sausage.  She does a bit more cross-stitching and then asks to watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  We haven’t watched it for almost a year but I think it’s comforting for her to watch something simple when ill.  When I switch on the telly, the weather comes on and we all have a conversation about floods and hurricane Barney.


I don’t know where the last two hours have gone?!  I think I was doing various things like browsing Facebook, helping M and having a coffee.  Anyhoo, I go upstairs to have a shower and do some cleaning.  M says she has a tummy ache now too so I give her a hot water bottle and she plays Minecraft on the laptop.


M is feeling better and asks for dry toast and clementines.  She then gets back to her cross-stitching.


Jake and the Neverland Pirates is still on.  After seeing a volcano on there, M asks if volcanoes always smoke before erupting so we Google the answer.  The next few hours go by in a haze of more telly watching (M puts in a request to watch an episode of Heidi and then D sees some Dora the Explorer episodes she hasn’t seen before – more comfort TV!).  I play Brainmaster and Downfall with M and she beats me at both, of course.

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On a Facebook thread, a friend of mine recommends an app her children are enjoying called Endless Spanish.  I install it for M and she loves it.  We both try to dissect the sentences, trying to work out the words inbetween the key words we’re supposed to be learning.  M learns that the Spanish have a different sentence structure to us.


I eventually persuade D to come to bed.  She can barely keep her eyes open to listen to her book (Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?) and is asleep minutes after I finish.  M isn’t really into fact books but for some reason this book grabs her attention tonight and she looks amazed at the comparative sizes of the animals and things in the book.  I read Heidi to M.


I leave M upstairs trying to learn more Spanish on the iPad but soon she’s back downstairs again in tears because she “can’t possibly ever learn all the words”.  She’s looks exhausted from last night’s lack of sleep (one of the very few problems of co-sleeping: if one is awake then we’re all awake!) so after a cuddle I convince her to go to sleep.

It wasn’t the day I had planned, and I’m sorry I missed our day out, but I hope D feels better tomorrow.

A Week in the Life of a Home Educating Family: Sunday 2015

It’s that time of year again!  This time last year I wrote a very descriptive account of what we got up to each day (click here to read it) and I thought I’d have a crack at it again this year.  For me, it will be interesting to see if there are any changes or similarities in our lives.  Of course, the girls are a year older (M is now 8 and D is 6), but M was still deschooling and we’re deeper into unschooling than we were then.

This time, rather than do a 5 day account, I thought I’d try for 7 days – as regular readers will know, J is now self-employed so works more over the weekend and his working hours during the week aren’t so rigid.  On the one hand this means we see more of him, on the other hand I don’t have a clearly defined weekend break anymore, so now I can account for their weekend activities too.

So here we go, Day 1!


D and I come downstairs, M is still sleeping.  I make myself tea (nothing happens before tea) and feed and let the rabbits out.  The rabbits now stay out all day, in fact they practically own our front room, which now resembles an over-sized hutch.


D is definitely a lark, she is so sunny and chirpy as soon as she wakes up. When I come into the lounge she wants me to point out Whitby on the globe (we’re going next year).  We also talk about Spain as we’re going there next year too.  D asks if she can decide where we go on holiday after that, to which I respond that we all have to agree and we have to check whether we have enough money.  D tells me that when she has a child, they will get to choose the holiday. I try to find a Spanish tourism video on YouTube to show her but she spots Lapin Cretin and immediately wants to watch.


M comes down with J and gives the rabbits a few peanuts. They hop around her feet when she comes down in the morning, making her look like Snow White, surrounded by little animals.  M has breakfast straight away (she can’t function before a bowl of Coco-Pops) and then she watches a bit of Lapin Cretin with D but soon gets bored of it so she goes off to play the piano instead.  I clean the kitchen inbetween helping her to remember how to play Jingle Bells.  M then teaches J how to play a tune.


The girls’ Aunt Sh pops round to say hello and the girls perform their Strictly Come Dancing routine for her and M shows her what she can play on the piano.


J takes the girls to church to light a candle for the people in Paris.  He isn’t a regular church-goer by any means (and I don’t go at all!) but he felt moved to go today.  They then go the park.



The sausages are back home for a few minutes before going to their Aunt Sh’s house to make paper chains and angels.  They’re there for hours!  I make the most of the time alone to get some online Christmas shopping done, check Facebook and do some cleaning.



They return home again and M plays Beggar My Neighbour first with J and then with me.  Amazingly, she loses both games – this hardly ever happens.  D doesn’t really do competitive games so she stands on the sidelines cheering M on and booing me.


J puts Tinkerbell on and they both watch while doing Lego and sewing.  After that he puts another film on (he does like films a lot) which is Toy Story 3.

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Once all the films and activities are finished, M decides to make Aunty Sh a card to say thank you for buying her a theatre ticket for Annie last week, but then she gets distracted by the Christmas tree that she and D are making.  Last week we made 3D snowflakes as she wanted to put one on top of her tree.  They’re very easy to make but M wanted one small enough to fit on top of the tree so it took a long time.  They both get soo excited about sticking all the shiny stuff onto the tree and D sings a very cute Christmas song she’s made up (she wants to be a singer when she grows up).



The girls go upstairs for a bedtime story.  We haven’t quite unschooled bedtime yet but we’ve reached a halfway place that works well for us: we go up at 8pm, I read to them until 9pm and then they can decide when to go to sleep.  The girls are very excited and giggly in a lovely infectious way.  Once they’ve calmed down a bit I read Is a ‘Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?‘ to D and ‘Heidi‘ to M.  We chat about what it was like for children to work as chimney sweeps in response to a question D asked last night (I had to do a bit of research to answer that one).  Strangely, D suddenly gets a really blocked nose and says she feels poorly so I leave her to get off to sleep while M gets on with her sewing.  She’s making a sort of prize ribbon for the next obstacle course race with her cousins in Nottingham. 🙂


Focus on D

I didn’t realise it was so long since my last post!  I just haven’t been in the mood to write lately, even though I’ve had lots of ideas swirling around my head.

Leading on from my last post, we got up at 3am to see the supermoon lunar eclipse – it was a beauty!  We managed to spot some constellations we’d never seen in real life before too – Taurus (D’s favourite), the Seven Sisters and the square of Pegasus!  We managed to stay in the garden for 20 minutes before we all decided to go back to bed.  I tried not to think too much about where we would all be the next time there’s a supermoon blood moon in 20 years – that sort of thing gives me the heebie-jeebies. 😀

As I mentioned last time, D is coming out of her telly phase, and is often looking for activities.  I’m at a bit of a loss with her to tell the truth, her interest in space is waning and we haven’t yet found an interest to fill the gap.  D is quite hard to strew for since she doesn’t readily try new things so there’s been quite a bit of boredom lately!  However, this morning she came up with an idea to make a large golden key (inspired by The Secret Garden and an atmospheric puzzle app we have called ‘The Room’).  She has plans to make a keyhole with a matching symbol next!


Lately, D has also become interested in competitive games – they were always avoided before because of her fear of losing – I’m impressed by how well she can now play Connect 4, all learnt from observing me and M play I think.  She’s also learnt a lot of Super Mario skills from watching M play.  She loves to watch and learn: I think it feels nice and safe to her.


I’ve focused on M a lot over the past 2 years of home edding: working through her anxieties and helping her to blossom.  I think I can safely say M is ‘there’ – or at least, she’s in a place where I feel satisfied she’s open to learning and new experiences, her anxieties are low  and she has excellent social skills.  Further down the line, I think (and the paediatrician thought) some cognitive behavioural therapy could help her with some strategies to deal with her anxieties, but she’s not ready for that yet.

So now I’m looking more closely at D (sorry, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to multi-task as I approach 40 – one issue at a time!!).  I recognise a few Asperger traits in there, but nothing as debilitating as M’s.  I don’t feel she needs a diagnosis, partly because I’m pretty sure she is borderline and partly because she is generally more robust and able to express herself better than M: meaning that it’s easier for me to iron out anxieties and issues rather than fumbling around in the dark as I do with M.  I won’t go into the ins and outs of D’s issues now, I’m sure I’ll cover it in future posts.  Suffice to say, I feel as if D has changed quite a bit over the last few months and my focus will now be on calming her anxieties and expanding her horizons.

Now a few snippets on what we’ve been up to:

D has been playing on Room (an iPad app) and we’ve just downloaded Room 2.  She has some totally out there ideas about how to solve the puzzles and I’m learning to shut-up and let her get on with it as she’s generally right.  She’s also been playing on her favourite maths appTeach Your Monster to Read and the Arithmasticks have been out again.  She also made a rocket, a Christmas bauble, baked cookies and played on Minecraft.  This weekend we had a lovebombing day, although I got the feeling we were just biding our time until M returned from Brownies!  We did lots of sewing together for her bunny’s outfit, as designed by D.

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M has been for a day out with the Brownies (she chose not to spend the weekend there), and loved all the activities.  I had to make a mermaid outfit for the mythical creatures theme – it tested all my abilities since I haven’t made anything for about 10 years!  I could have done a much better job had I had time and patience but M was very pleased with it.


M has been trying to finish off old projects, like the Fimo set she got last year.  She also made her first Christmas decoration and has started learning to touch-type again.  She has mainly been occupied with Super Mario on her Nintendo DS – she has completed 6 of the 8 worlds now and has shown perseverance way beyond my level – I would have thrown the machine through a window by now!  It has also meant that she has begun looking up the ‘walkthroughs’ on YouTube on her own!  She’s never dared to do that before.

We’ve given up on Minecraft school.  Freedom to quit and all that.  The subject matter wasn’t enthralling M and the stuff we had to learn to pass a quiz was exceedingly dry.  As it happens, the course creators sent out an email to say they’d had complaints that the course was too hard so perhaps that was another reason why we weren’t feeling drawn to it.  One week, there was a cartoon about the space race which showed JFK sitting at a desk with a picture of Marilyn Monroe on it… cue half an hour lost while we looked up videos featuring her!  Anyway, M loved the idea of a Minecraft school so I’ll keep an eye out for future courses.

They’ve both been having fun with friends too.  We had a glorious afternoon at the common, we were there for over 4 hours in the end and only left because the sun was beginning to set!

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We also had a great time at our Curious Minds group.  This week, the kids played with boxes and made dens out of them.  In the end, D made a ‘kind monster’ out of hers and we brought it home – she has been decorating it every day since!

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Many Many Activities on the Go

We’re getting to the stage now where M has more and more interests and projects on the go as she dips her toes into anything and everything.  Currently, she’s into: nature walks (big time – she longs to go to the common and would go everyday if she could!); collecting anything of interest on the walks and examining them at home; learning piano tunes; gardening; working her way through New Super Mario Bros on her Nintendo DS2 (and teaching D how to get through the levels too); sewing; Minecraft (she’s currently building her first large-scale house in survival mode); learning about space in Minecraft School; making birthday cards for family members and making Christmas decorations.  She’s also just bought a paper-flower making craft kit and she wants to finish her Fimo kits that she was given for Christmas last year.  Phew!  And that’s not forgetting the stuff she does around all that – watching films, listening to music, singing, dancing, baking, drawing, Facetiming her cousins, playing with the bunnies, playing with D, going to Art class, Brownies, Judo and our social group.  Blimey, she’s one busy girl!  But busy in such a relaxed, meandering way that if I didn’t take note of these activities going on around me, it would seem as if not much is happening at all. 😀

D is slowly emerging from her My Little Pony craze and although this is slightly overlapping with an Alvin and the Chipmunks passion, she is generally more up for other activities and outings than she has been over the past few weeks.  I like that she delves into these programmes with such gusto but I do like a bit of variety!  Recently she’s been making Christmas decorations, playing New Super Mario Bros, playing Teach Your Monster to Read, gardened, making a pop-up card for her cousin and learning how to use the sewing machine.

Both girls have been poorly this week so we’ve actually been taking it quite easy.  D had a tummy bug (now gone) and M has a cold and cough.  We made it out to the common today, although it was a fairly gentle walk with a couple of stops for sketching:


Indoors, I have finally got the sewing machine out because I’ve got to make a mermaid costume for M’s Brownie party (mythical creatures theme) next week.  The girls were so excited and I showed them how to use it – they’ve had loads of fun just making patterns on paper with no thread.


Once I’ve finished the costume, I’ll thread it up for them and get them sewing!  They’re both showing a lot of promise with it – they’ve got very good control.  This is M’s picture, which she then folded and made into a bag with handles.  D’s are brilliant too but she keeps cutting them up so I haven’t managed to get a picture!


We also made a Victorian puzzle purse, as seen in this month’s Aquila magazine.  And as I mentioned before, the girls have begun making Christmas decorations – it’s never too early!!  We went to our gorgeous local art shop and bought some polystyrene stars and balls to decorate.  We always admire their window displays and we chatted to the lady in the shop who showed us an ex-window display item: a quilled letter.  M and me adore quilling and I feel sure we’ll be doing something like this soon.

We were going to go out at dusk tonight to see the moon but M was too tired so we’ll leave it until next week’s supermoon lunar eclipse!