Thursday, 11 September 2014

Movie Review: The Lego Movie

We’ve been sent a copy of The Lego Movie*, or as it’s known in our house the “AWESOME MOVIE!” (said in movie preview style American voice) to review.  I should first state that this is in no way an objective review because IT'S AWESOME!  

It made us laugh, it made us cry (mostly with laughter).  Despite the characters being little animated plastic people (and things) there was real jeopardy, real triumph, real adventure.  And did I mention, it made us laugh?

So, there is an ordinary guy (made of Lego) who is told he’s the special, the greatest Master Builder of them all, who must save the (Lego) Universe from the evil of Lord Business, who is bent on ultimate control of everything, and everyone Lego.  And that just about sums up the plot of the lego movie, but doesn’t even begin to describe this fantastic, subversive satire about the drawbacks of conformity and the power of the imagination.

Despite a baddie called Lord Business, this film could easily have simply become an over long advert for the Lego brand.  Leaving us parents feeling like we had been slightly stitched up by the powerful combination of, toy manufacturing multi-national and Hollywood studio. But instead, this is an entertaining, creative movie that children and adults can enjoy together.  Doing that clever thing that Toystory pulls off so well, allowing us to laugh at the same joke from a slightly different point of view.  This joyous movie celebrates the imagination of our childhood and glories in it’s zany logic.

We loved it the first time we saw it at the cinema as Mr Fox’s birthday treat.  That’s what I mean about it appealing to both children and the child in the adult.  The nostalgic stop-frame style animation, the in jokes, the pop culture references and the genre smashing storyline appeals to the adults, while the vivid colour, superheroes, unicorns, good v evil, slapstick storyline appeals to the kids.

We love Lego in this house.  Both the little foxes have played with it from their early Duplo days, to the complete worlds they now create, that take up the whole playroom floor and that I am not allowed to put away for weeks on end.   

My only, only, issue with the movie is that with it’s positive message of creative play and building free form creations rather than following the instructions, the Lego playsets that came out after the movie to exploit it’s success were of exactly the latter type.  But, it did make us go to the Lego website, ignore the movie tie ins and seek out the Bricks & More Range that gives you all the loose Lego bricks you could want to make your own Lego creations come to life.

And finally any review of this film simply would not be complete without mention of the song, yes, that AWESOME song that my children sang repeatedly for weeks after, and anytime the word AWESOME is said since.  I can say little to describe it's awesomeness, instead, here, see what you think...

*We were sent this movie to review by

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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Evie & Rex Paper Dolls

A few weeks ago we were approached by the lovely people at Folksy's blog to contribute to their summer holiday children's craft tutorials. The little foxes and I had had such a good time last school holidays making paper dolls from Sweet Paul's website, that I fancied designing a paper doll for Mrs Fox's.

So here are Evie & Rex in paper:

Their design is a mash up of Evie and Rex our handmade dolls that we sell on Folksy, my beautiful little girl Una May and her dog Bea. If you'd like to make your own you can download the template from Folksy, paint cut out and play.  Super simple to make, great for the school holidays.

All You Will Need is:
paper & card
paint, coloured pencils or pens

1.  Download the PDF (2 pages; Evie & Rex and one page of her clothes) print onto white paper.

2.  Colour Evie, her friend Rex the dog and her clothes however you wish.

3.  To make Evie and Rex stand up, glue then onto card - you can use an old cereal box it’s the right thickness.  Leave a strip of card about 3cm wide at the bottom that you can fold into a stand - see below:

TIP:  I cut Evie out roughly first, leaving 1/2cm of white paper around the edge.  Then I glued her to the card.  Once she'd dried I cut her out again, this time trimming right up to the edge of the doll. 

4.  Cut out Evie’s clothes and fold the tabs over the edge of the doll to dress her.  Have fun designing and making your own outfits for Evie.

Making the paper Evie has also fed into the design process of the party gang cloth dolls which are about to go through a bit of a makeover.  Just as soon the school holidays are over!

All our designs are entirely our own so please leave a comment below if you do decide to download them - we just love a little love!

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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Last Day of Half Term is Paper Craft Day!

kids crafting

"Craft day please mummy!" was the cry of my little foxes when I asked them what they'd like to do yesterday, the last day of half term.

I'm in the midsts of a bit of a project in the studio, so it's a mess and that's where most of the craft stuff lives.  But, at a clear out at my mum's some months ago I found an old art box of mine from when I was a kid.

1980s kids paint box

My little foxes have done most of Mrs Fox's crafts 100 times already and they wanted something new. So, I decided to look online for some other paper crafts that could be downloaded and printed out.  I wanted something that we could do at the kitchen table, that required no more than scissors, glue and the paints from my old art box.

We came up with, four projects from craft blogs and online sites (follow the links if you fancy having a go yourself); we spent the whole day doing these - wonderful day!  Here they all are:

A Paper Doll

from Sweet Paul

London Paper Doll by Lova Blåvarg
We made the London paper doll by Lova Blåvarg. Two A sheets of doll, clothes and props.  London could be a boy or girl, s/he is beautiful, and I have to admit I printed one for me to paint and make up too.  We also downloaded Brooklyn, Lova's other paper doll, for a bit of craftyness today.

Brooklyn Paper Doll by Lova Blåvarg
I remember making paper dolls as a child, and had as much fun doing this one as I ever remember as a kid.  We mounted the doll onto some card and created a stand for her.  This was my favourite of our projects.

Big Ben printable from Paper Toys

Big Ben 
from Paper Toys

Louis' been building a lot just recently so he wanted to make a tower.  On the same site you can download a London taxi and double decker bus which we didn't get round to making.  They print out quite small so you need to scale them up before printing.  But this was Louis' favourite and I've since had to draw him a number of "castles" to paint or colour in too.

Bird Finger Puppets 
from Mr Printable

I LOVE Mr Printable's site.  I have it book marked for a rainy day.  Everything they do is beautiful and this was the easiest project we did, although his beak got a little squished.  You can make 4 birds from this download.  The flamingo is a little too big to fit on small fingers but that just means mummy gets to keep one.  The toucan also conveniently fitted into Una's half-term homework project on Brazil.

Mrs Fox's Articulated Paper Unicorn

Ok, for this one you also need paper fasteners, or you can use pieces of wool or string knotted on either side of the legs.  The children have done them before, but it's one of Una's fav so I printed them out and we made a few more to add to our collection.  I've uploaded one to our website for you to download too.  RIGHT HERE.

Print as many as you like, but please only for personal use.  Drop a comment in the box if you download them, we love to know they're loved.  And if you want to share the love and link to them, please link to this page rather than the PDF itself. Thanks xxx

So, what did you get up to this half term?

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Maya Angelou - 1928 - 2014

Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise. 
What's your favourite Maya Angelou poem?

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Mrs Fox's Felt Menagerie

Mrs Fox's Handmade includes an ever increasing menagerie of needle felted animals that I've been making, and I'm happy to turn my hand to almost anything.  Drop me an email if you don't see what you're after, I take commissions;

This was the first thing I ever needle felted - a little dog for one of my daughter's friends.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Toxic Baby - The things our children teach us.

Many moons ago, in around 2005BC (Before Children), when I had a glamourous job in the media... Ok, well, maybe not that glamourous.  I worked for the BBC making interactive TV (that red button stuff) and lots of video for the internet.  But in 2005 I wrote, produce and directed my biggest (BBC ONE) and favourite (got nominated for a BAFTA for it - woop woop!) project "Shakespeare's Stories". But even more special than BBC ONE and BAFTA nominations I met the most wonderful director, Penelope Jagessar Chaffer, and better yet we became friends.

BAFTA 2005 Shakespeare's Stories Interactive
Don't we look young?  My team of brilliant women at the 2005 BAFTA's - Claudia, Tanya, Vicky, Me and Penny 
The first time I met Penny, I was mostly just impressed at how gorgeous she was, and incredibly impressed that this was within months of giving birth to baby, Zephyr.  I was interviewing Penny with an eye to her being the primary director on my project and pretty early on in the interview she asked if it would be possible for her baby to be on set, as she was still breast feeding.

As a young producer of my first BIG project, I remember a flash of panic as she explained that she would have to stop work and feed Zeph on demand.  I knew there would be BBC healthy and safety issues galore, and I felt responsible for this tiny being's safety.  I knew that he would need space separate, away from the chaos, noise and lights of a set, and Penny's mother would be there with him all day, but then that's another mouth to feed and more responsibility for the Producer, Me.  But after the momentary flash of panic, I thought about how I expected to want to continue my career after a baby, and that if women didn't support other women, how could we expect that support to be forthcoming from society as a whole.

Toxic Baby Penelope Jagessar Chaffer and Zeph

And besides all that she impressed me, as a director, more than any of the other candidates, she listened and 'got' what I had in mind for my project.  Penny had already been nominated for a BAFTA for her debut documentary "Me & My Dad" for Channel 4.  So, was I going to turn down the best person for the job?

I said yes.  Beautiful Zeph was a positive benefit on set.  Yes BBC health and safety was a bit of a nightmare, but, he gave us enforced moments of calm when we were stressed.  Actors and crew would sneak up to check out his latest cuteness.  Penny's mother was a wonderful lady to have around.  Zeph really brought something to the set, there was real camaraderie on set and he helped forge that feeling of family.  And all in all, I got to meet and become friends with an absolutely inspirational woman and her family.

I discovered I was pregnant at the end of the shoot, and I see the situation as a karmic moment in my life.  I learnt a lot from Penny, her mother and Zeph.  Once I told Penny I was pregnant I also found an incredible source of information, recent experience and ancient wisdom right there in Ms Penelope.  My daughter Una was born a year minus a day after Zeph; see what I mean about Karma?!

Zeph and Una, 2007
Una and Zeph

So, to bring all this up to date, since then, Penny has moved to New York, had another baby, Oceana and made an amazing film called Toxic Baby,
"... a cinematic look at how chemicals in our day-to-day lives can affect the health and development of babies and children... an epic detective story that tells the story of environmental chemicals through the science of some of the world's most revolutionary thinkers and seen through the eyes of a surreal cast of characters. ... the film explores breathtaking new scientific concepts to ask the question what does all of this mean, why don't we know about it and what can we do about it?" 

She has gone on to do a TED Talk and is now looking for funding to turn the vast quantity of research and interviews with scientist and experts that went into the making of Toxic Baby into the world's first interactive documentary app for the iPad.

Penny needs support and is seeking financial funding through crowd sourcing at Kickstarter


To find out more about the issue and to contact Penelope Jagessar Chaffer:


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