Nearly There



Phew!...

Mrs Fox's blog has been quiet for a couple of days as we sent out the final few items before closing our Folksy store for the Christmas Hols.   We all seem to have been getting, or fighting off, colds and exhaustion and this is the first morning I have got home after the school run and sat down with a coffee and a bit of free time.  

So, now it's all about our festive foxy family time.  Presents are bought and mostly wrapped, I'll do the last few with the little fox's tonight.  Tomorrow we head off to Granny North's house to celebrate the festive season with Mr Fox's side of the family.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the last 12 months as we've started our venture, bought handmade items from our Handmade Christmas store, commissioned a party or party box, we've loads of ideas for crafts, parties and fun so join us next year.  Please do. 

Merry Christmas!


from

Mrs Fox
xxx

p.s.
I'm putting up this link to our FREE Christmas gift tags 
for you to download in case your still wrapping up your pressies.


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Mrs Fox's Folksy Finds

This morning I was busy making up two felt leaf crowns (£12) for one of our Folksy customers.   She's bought them for Christmas for 2 brothers and wants different colours.  I've had to stop for a bit as I have just picked up little Louis Fox from nursery and he needs a little mummy time, but I shall finish them this evening to mail out tomorrow.

Mrs Fox's felt crowns on Folksy

Mrs Fox's is a member of UK Handmade and we support their campaign to buy handmade this Christmas.  As well as selling Mrs Fox's Handmade on our own website we also sell on the marketplace site; Folksy.  It's a great place to find interesting and unique handmade gifts and crafts.

Here are some of our favourite stores and our selection of their best items this Festive Season:


Set of Scandinavian Christmas toys - Father and Mother Christmas and Angels
Jane Foster Designs
Love her designs for Clothkit and these Christmas toys are beautiful.  But you need to visit her store to see more of her Scandinavian inspired cloth toys, soft furnishings and prints. 


Little TOFFEE lakeland terrier on wheels
Northfield Primitives
These beautiful vintage feel pieces are made by Sarah Pinney. They are not really toys, more collector's items made on Sarah's old Singer treadle sewing machine. I like her style and one day one of these beautiful creatures will be mine.

Cushion Cover - Starry Starry Circus Night
Butterscotch and Beestings
Oh the fantastical world of Betty Butterscotch and Bumblewick Beesting and their confectionary, toys, bits and pieces.


Mini-Friend Red Riding Hood
Keke-Kaka
We love their cotton message dolls, deliver your message in a little brown paper-mache box with a blank message card.



Angelic Christmas Hand Printed Card
Lil Sonny Sky
Hand squeegied by Lisa Stubbs with quality acrylic, card and elbow grease and carefully make sure each one has a tiny imperfection to make it unique!





Robot Fabric Badge Set
Kaela Mills 
The badges are great for party bags (and in loads more designs) Kaela Mills also makes clips, buttons, earring and pocket mirrors by the Sea in Bexhill, East Sussex.




Christmas Raindeer Paper Ornaments
Happythought Paper Crafts
Three kings, gingerbread houses or angels are amongst Happythought Paper's Crafts printable templates available for you download, print and put together yourself. 

Red Felt Dinosaur Kit for Kids
Kitty Kay Make & Sew
"Learn to sew"  kits in soft bright felt, designed to teach children an essential skill from an early age.



Christmas Garland - Lino Printed
Zebedee
Zoe Badger's limited edition images are hand pressed using water based pigment inks.







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Jack Frost was here this morning

This morning's dog walk was beautiful.   It looked like an image from my Ladybird book, What to Look For in Winter.

Winter, Hertfordshire

Jack Frost was at his most artistic:



Blogger Lemon Layer Cake says it was a "hoar frost" and describes what that is in her post.  Apparently the word hoar comes from the old English adjective meaning to show signs of old age.  Whatever it was it was beautiful.
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Ladybird Tuesday - What to Look For in Winter

This morning the walk to school was truly COLD, even the snow last week was not as chilly, so that has helped me decide the book to be part of this weeks Ladybird Tuesday.

What to Look For in Winter  is one from my childhood collection, it even has my name written in the front.  It was not one of my favourites as a child and to be honest I think this was mostly because I didn't like the front cover.  I look at it now and I can't quite see what the problem was.  But, I think it looked to me like those Christmas cards you got from old people that showed winter scenes and sometimes a robin perched in the foreground.  I just thought it looked boring.


What to Look For in Winter is written by E. L Grant Watson and illustrated by C F Tunnicliffe, R.A. published in 1959, it is part of Ladybirds' Series 536, which looks to be their natural history series.

Ladybird Tuesday What to Look For in Winter






"Many people seem to think that there  is nothing to see in the countryside during the cold, wet winter months, but this book is designed to show how very many things there are to interest you if you know what to look - for and where to look."













The book itself is quite dense text, I don't remember reading it as a child, and I'm not sure I would have read it for very long.  Maybe as an older child.  Reading it now, it's incredibly informative and really quite poetic.  The flora and fauna of English countryside is part of a wider story of rural life in this book.  The writing reminds me of the voice-over script from a BBC natural history documentary. 

Ladybird Tuesday What to Look For in Winter

As well as the detailed and highly descriptive commentary on the British countryside in the winter months, there are equally well observed illustration.  The pictures are beautifully evocative.  I particularly like the riverside scenes and as I live beside lakes here in rural Hertfordshire, I can vouch for their accuracy.   As with all these Ladybird books there is, in looking at the pictures now, a nostalgia for times past.  The fox hunt in the picture below for example.  Not because I wish for a return to fox hunting, according to the text the fox looks set to elude these hounds, but the woodsman felling trees with their axes and the huntsmen and hounds are not sights I ever see.

Ladybird Tuesday What to Look For in Winter

This post is part of the Ladybird Tuesday started by Being Mrs C.  Her post this weeks post is on the Ladybird book  The Public Services - Electricity


If you have a collection of old Ladybird books then please feel free to join in with Ladybird Tuesday. There are no formal rules to follow, just leave a link to any post you write in the comments below and if you're feeling kind link back to my posts here .
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The Snowman and The Snowdog


The Snowman and Snowdog
We have just had a lovely Sunday.  We went to see a showing of  Channel 4's The Snowman and the Snowdog in Leicester Square.  As we stood outside the theatre snow swirled into the air above us and so the magic began...

The Snowman and The Snowdog is the brand new sequel to the Christmas classic The Snowman and will be shown on Channel 4 at 8.20pm on Christmas Eve.  Both little foxes sat with their mouths open in enraptured silence throughout the film.  






Raymond Briggs' iconic children's book The Snowman was adapted for the screen in Channel 4's first year on air (1982).  The Oscar-nominated film, wordless apart from its evocative theme,  has been screened by Channel 4 every year since this first transmission.

Father Christmas bought this book for our little foxes the year Louis was born.  We have the wordless version, I feel it is somehow easier to deal with the ending this way.  I just answer the children's questions about the pictures and yes it is sad, but...








On the 30th anniversary of the original film, Raymond Briggs has given his blessing to a sequel this time with a new friend, The Snowdog - complete with odd socks for ears and a satsuma for a nose.  Many of the team who worked on the original film have worked on the sequal, in close consultation with Briggs, and the hand drawn animation is wonderful.  

A young boy and his mother move house, the boy discovers a secret box hidden under the floorboards of his bedroom. In the box, he finds a hat, scarf, lumps of coal and a shrivelled tangerine - that we, if not our children, will recognise!  Later that day it starts to snow and the boy builds a Snowman and a Snowdog, t
hat night, at the stroke of midnight, the two magically come to life.   


The boy awakes and joins them on an amazing adventure, flying over modern London and onwards.    We had spent the previous evening in town and driven past many of the London landmarks in the film, so, this gave the children a lovely introduction to the new flying sequence.  The new Snowman is complete with a brand new soundtrack and  ‘Light The Night' which features in the flying sequence is more pop based than the original theme.  Andy Burrows, the former drummer with Razorlight, is the man who has written the song for this sequence and whose voice we hear. 


It is of course a slightly bitter sweet film.  I was in tears within the first 5 minutes, my children held it together until the end of the film.  Even Mr Fox was glassy eyed as we talked about it after.  It was just lovely, there is no other way to describe it, and we came home and put our Christmas tree up.  Christmas is truly here now!


There is also a Snowman and the Snowdog game for the iphone, ipad, Android phones and tablets that Louis and Una have been hooked on.  Yes, I am one of those mother's who hands her kids her phone to keep them quiet.  And this game  is fab for younger ones.  It has all the characters from the film and is FREE to download from app stores.  It's a little more, shall we say "mellow", than Angry Birds and the like and I am much happier listening to the music from this one than most.


The Snowman and The Snowdog is a Snowdog Enterprises and Lupus Films production.
www.thesnowman.com


We have several Raymond Briggs books and I'll have to do a separate post to cover our love of his work.


 Lupus Films specialises in producing TV programmes and films for children and families, working across all genres and techniques including 2D and 3D animation, puppets, live-action drama and factual entertainment. 
www.lupusfilms.com
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A Skulk of Foxes

I love that "skulk" is the group noun for foxes.

Skulk of Foxes
Christmas Fox Tree Decorations  -  Fox design on a tea towel  -  Fergal Fox


And here are some that Mrs Fox's is happy to call her own.



Mrs Fox’s Christmas fox tree decorations are dry point felted. These little handmade foxes are threaded on gold silks with a red wooden bead and tassel, for you to hang on your Christmas tree.  They stand approx 7.5 cm high.   Each unique little fox is only £7 +p&p and will arrive at your door in a recycled cardboard christmas gift box direct from Mrs Fox's Hertfordshire HQ 
Buy it HERE





Mibo's beautiful fox design on a tea towel is also a sewing project.  The design is printed onto organic cotton and with the addition of some stuffing and basic sewing skills you can create a stuffed toy.  In case you need a little support here's a video showing you how.  Your finished stuffed animal is about 31cm H and only £12 +p&p
Buy it HERE
We also sell Mibo's beautiful paper animals, so, give your fox some little friends.

As winter arrives Mrs Fox's Fergal Fox loves to snuggle by a warm fire, or throw on his scarf and go for long walks.

Fergal is a beautiful hand-sewn felt fox who stands around 30cm high. He is made of red and white felt, polyester filling and has button jointed arms and legs.  Fergal and his sister Ernestine are for sale on our Folksy store for £23 + p&p each.
Buy it HERE

Mrs Fox's felt fox Christmas tree decorations
And finally here are our felt fox Christmas tree decorations waiting to leave Mrs Fox's HQ for trees all over the UK.

All our foxes are made in the UK and are available from Mrs Fox's and Mrs Fox's Handmade.




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Mrs Fox Raps... sorry that's Wraps!

Have I told you about my wrapping fetish?

No, oh well, we have a lot to talk about...

Mrs Fox's Christmas Wrap

It rears it's head every time I have to send out a product from Mrs Fox's Folksy store or one of Mrs Fox's Party Boxes.  I can't just put things into a padded envelope or cardboard box and put them in the mail.  I like to wrap things.  I like opening the package to be as exciting as what's inside (well almost!).

Our red hand-felted fox Christmas Tree decorations, on sale for £7 on Folksy, come in a handmade completely recycled, by your's truly, cardboard gift box, usually covered with hand-made paper or off-cuts of ribbon, tied with fancy string or twine.  It takes almost as long to make the box and pack it into another handmade postal box, wrapped in brown paper secured with Belle and Boo London Umbrella tape, a gummed label and Mrs Fox's stamp, as it does to make the fox.

Mrs Fox's felted fox christmas tree decoration

One of my favourite wrapping projects was a crepe paper elephant head I made for a friend's birthday gift.  It encased a vintage copy of Rudyard Kiplings "Just So Stories", I blog about it here.

For Christmas I sometimes get the little foxes to make print our Christmas wrapping paper, using simple potato printing or similar.  This year I've got a couple of ideas in the mix:



I've designed some "Happy, Happy, Joy Joy", "Merry and Bright" retro gift tags that I'll be using.  They are in our shop as a FREE downloadable PDF, so feel free to share.

I've printed them out on glossy photographic paper.  You can cut them out with scissors or scalpel, punch a hole in the top tie with fancy string, and adorn your gifts with Mrs Fox's gift tags.



I've bought some beautiful coloured hemp string and I'm going to use wrapping paper that is brown craft paper on one side and red on the other.

I have finished a ceramics project at a crafting evening I go to; the Fiver Club at the Forge Museum in Much Hadham; and the result will be part of this years wrapping too.

I've also been making little red pom poms, which I have started to get a bit obsessed with.  So much so that I now want to try and make a red pom pom Christmas wreath, or maybe bunting.  I have a pom pom making method that means they are incredibly quick and simple to make.  Here it is:


You will need:

ball of wool
a fork
scissors

1. Take a ball of wool and wrap the it around the prongs of the fork.  When you have a decent quantity of wool, you'll have to experiment as it depends on the size of the fork, snip it off the ball.

2. Now take another piece of the wool and slip the end through the central prongs at the bottom of your bundle of wool, bring it around the back of the fork through the same two prongs at the top of your bundle of wool pull it tight and tie it tightly in a double knot.

3. Snip the the loops of wool carefully, don't cut the piece you've just tied around your bundle of wool, fluff out the ends, give it a trim and there you have a pom pom.

Mrs Fox's Christmas wrapping ideas

I'll post some results of my wrapping later in the week.  I've promised little Una Fox that she can help so, I have to wait until we have a bit of time after school.  A girl after my own heart xxx
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Ladybird Tuesday: Toys and Games to Make

I thought that I remembered this book from my childhood, but, it looks like I bought this one in a charity shop.  So, I can only assume that Blue Peter must have pinched a lot of the ideas or something because I'm sure I remember making many of them.

Toys and Games to Make










"Here is another Ladybird book which will keep children happily occupied for many hours.  All materies needed are simple inexpensive and readily available"











Published in 1966 and written by James Webster, with illustrations by Robert Ayton, this is one of Ladybirds' series 633 which includes Things to Make  which being Mrs C reviewed on her Ladybird Tuesday blog post last week.  It also includes the truly 70's classic, Indoor Gardening, which I did have as a child and spent hours trying to get my mother to give me her glass demijohns in order to make bottle gardens.


Each double spread has instructions and a picture describing a toy or game that can be made at home.   I have to show you this picture, not because what is being made is particularly clever, but, because this is what I looked like in the 70's!

The ideas themselves are simple and well explained, and with a little adaptation would still keep a child interested and occupied.  The "readily available items" needed to create the toys are probably not quite so readily available in the modern home. The most obvious of these is the vast quantity of cotton reels needed.  I guess this was an era when mothers were still making their own and their children's clothes.


There are also knitting needles, matches and corks regularly required.  The Cargo Boat on P32 includes "A cigarette-packet - preferably the "flip-top" kind", match-box, matches and corks.  Well I guess, where the corks are concerned things haven't changed so much!


There is a safety disclaimer at the front of the book reminding parents to use spent not live matches and never to suspend the foil snake (made on p14) over "any electrical heater or any other naked flame apart from a night light", but the picture shows it spinning madly over a candle.

Don't get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with the use of these materials, or indeed the safety reminder at the front, but I'm pretty sure they would be edited out of any kind of children's craft book published now.  And for no good reason that I can see.

I especially like that a lot of the things made would appeal to boys as well as girls, as there is often an assumption that boys don't like "crafting".  There is definitely a practical, mechanical and educational bent to many of the toys and games and I know that the working tractor and tank would appeal to my son.  Not specifically because they are vehicles (although that would definitely be the hook) but because he likes things that move, and he likes to figure out how they move and why.


So, I intend to make the working tractor and tank just as soon as I have collected enough cotton reels, empty date boxes, cigarette packets, and found a metal skewer and penknife.

For the rest of Mrs Fox's Ladybird Tuesday posts click HERE.

and

HERE is Mrs C's Ladybird Tuesday post this week, Learning With Mother, Book 2



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Choirs of angels.



Last year I spent many evenings designing and making 6 delicate paper angels to use as mantlepiece decorations or to pop on top of a tree.  

My middle and most creative little Eve fox, then aged 4, was desperate to join in and make some too so I devised a simple paper fairy cone angel which she found so easy to make that we ended up with about 20 of them along the window sill.  She made quite a large number to give to her teacher and friends at school too.

This year, as soon as Christmas had been mentioned, she started making more!  I had to refine the fairy cone idea so that I didn’t have to be on hand every 10 minutes to cut the bottom off and roll and stick the paper into a cone shape.  Not that I mind helping but when a child is this prolific, reducing my input on each fairy saves me more than just a few moments.

This is such a fun simple project which requires little more than paper, sticky tape (double sided if possible) and colouring medium, be it pens, pencils or paint.  Basically, if you have paper, crayons and sticky tape, you are good to go.

What I have started to do is pre-cut the circular cone shape (before I would just roll an A4 piece of paper into a cone and cut the bottom off at the end) and run a strip of double sided tape along one edge.

If you need more support to create paper angels, take a look at the other Mrs Fox's paper angel post below, we're doing a special 2 for 1 deal on our paper angel kits for our loyal blog followers.
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Mrs Fox's Paper Angels

As a child I used to make paper angels at Christmas.  They are a classic and really simple Christmas craft.   Just a cone of paper coloured in and we kept them and brought them out year after year.  I have ended up doing the same with my children, sometimes I hang them, but they are just as beautiful adorning a book shelf.  I've even seen the same basic design being sold in the shops (for a small fortune) as name place cards.

Mr Fox sells kits to make 4 angels, they are available here for £3.50 inclu p&p.  As a special treat for our loyal blog followers, if you place and order and then leave a message on this post we will include an extra pack of 4 for FREE.

Mr Fox's Paper Angels

Last Thursday I went into little Louis Fox's nursery class to make angels with the children.  The nursery children are mostly 3 years old so I made the template larger than usual so they could better colour them in.  The angels they created were beautiful.  With no interest in realistic colour these angels had green and red faces, technicolour hair and glitter in every crease.  They were wonderful!  I had such a good time making them and we hung some of them over the stable that they have constructed in the corner of one of their rooms.



At Mrs Fox's we've also used this idea to design a make mini ballerina and samurai gift tags that we use on our party sweetie bags.

1

The Rise of the Guardians


UK Cinema Release Date :  TODAY - Friday 30th November 2012
3D computer animated fantasy adventure film by Dreamworks, directed by Peter Ramsey
Ok, so, I didn't love this film, but, I enjoyed it.  It's no Monsters Inc, or Rango, or Toy Story.  But it is a good family Christmas film, sweet enough but not too sacharinne and great for little ones who will like the odd action sequence.  The animation is beautiful the details of background and characters fluid and gorgeously rendered.

Based on the idea that the man in the moon has chosen a group of Guardians to care for the children of the world.  When the evil Pitch Black (Jude Law) trys to expell hope and wonder and replace it with fear and disbelief the immortal Guardians spring into action.

There is a new Guardian in the team, Jack Frost, with the voice of (Chris Pine).  Jack has spent 300 years having fun, causing mischief and is not too keen on becoming a Guardian. The other Guardians are sure that he has been chosen for a reason and he needs to understand what is at his "centre".  

His new workmates include the half hummingbird Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) and the silent Sandman.  Their leader is Father Christmas (Alec Baldwin), a tattooed Russian sounding warrior.  The subversion of the usual characterisation of these childhood heros is one of the best parts of the film.  The easter bunny is a 6ft, boomerang welding Aussie.

I watched the film with my two little foxes, Una (6) and Louis (3).  Louis was a little scared in parts, although not so bad that he wouldn't watch it, just fingers over his eyes and then insisting he wanted to watch it to the end.   I would say the film is a little too old for his age.

Una, however, said it was "fantastic" her favourite characters were the; "Tooth Fairy because she's pretty" (and she has just had a recent visit from her!) and "Jack because he's funny, he landed and his cloak went over his head..."  She says she wasn't scared but I definitely remember holding her hand at one point.

They both jumped up this morning in excitement to check the windows for signs that Jack Frost had been and may have left some sign of his artistic talents on the window.  So, I guess they both enjoyed it really.

  


Based on William Joyce's The Guardians of Childhood book series and The Man in the Moon short film by Joyce and Reel FX. Peter Ramsey directed the film, while Joyce and Guillermo del Toro were executive producers. Produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures.

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The making of Miggins (and chums).


Following on from our 'Santa's Little Helper' post, here is how I made Miggins, Buba, Pickle, Luna & Jay from the following bits and bobs;
  1. a wooden bead
  2. a cotton reel
  3. green garden twine
  4. garden string
  5. raffia paper and
  6. glue
  7. a little paint (and/or pens) for the reels, hats and facial features
The first thing I did was chose the colour for each elf and paint the reels and hats.  I went for autumnal colours, probably inspired subliminally by the season I was in rather than traditional Christmas colours...
Once the paint was dry, I chose my colour raffia ribbons which I wound with glue around the reels to dress my elves.
Then I cut 2 lengths of garden string and wound one end of each tightly into little flat spirals and glued them solid for the feet.  (A couple of elves got fancy footwear in the end but the others were more modest.)

Once the glued feet were dry, I decided how long I wanted the legs to be and stuck part of the string 'legs/thighs' to the bottom of the reel.  I then snipped off excess twines within the string and threaded the remaining lengths through the middle of the reel - then through the wooden bead head, gluing them to the head to hold it all tightly together from the feet through to the crown.  For some, these were the first strands of their hair.  (I so hope that this leg part makes sense!  The whole thing, although fiddly, is very easy but explaining this finds my words failing...)

I then glued on more string or green garden twine for hair and once the glue was dry, gave it a hair cut. This, for some reason, was my favourite part of the whole process.  Very satisfying indeed.
I wound once, then tied, another length of string under the top rim of the reel closest to the head and left lengths hanging down for arms which I glued into various positions.
Next I gave the elf a face and began work embellishing the hats - my second favourite part of the job.
The tiny paper mache cones which I had earlier painted, I decorated with ribbons before gluing them a'top the head of hair.  This, being the final step, was also satisfying - not unlike putting on fancy shoes and slapping on a lick of lipstick before leaving the house one of those very rare nights out when you've made an effort not to wear jeans and boots.

Before I knew it, I had a group of little elves sitting on my dresser smiling at me - and before long, they all had their little sacks of lavender sitting next to them.
Unfortunately, I think my oldest fox at almost 7 is too old to fall for this one again although he's actually the easiest to get into bed these days - and the earliest to rise... but I think foxes 2 and 3 might really like the idea again this year.  They will keep one eye on the elf, I think, waiting for it to twitch into life while the lavender sack in their bed helps them to calm down and settle into a much needed sleep.

These are not at all complicated to make but if you want to make one and don't have the bits, for £4.25 we can supply you with a kit containing all you need to make your own little elf, excluding paint and glue.  We have small 'small' or large 'small' reels (they are all pretty weeny) so please stipulate if you would like a shorty short or a tall short elf.  Just send us an email or leave us a comment and we will get back to you.

The kit contains;
  • A reel
  • A wooden bead
  • A length of green garden twine
  • A length of garden string
  • A little cone
  • A length of raffia 'ribbon'
  • Fabric for the sack
  • Home picked and dried lavender
  • A length of fine fabric ribbon


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