Ladybird Tuesday - Birds & How They Live

Only a day late!  This month the theme for Mrs Fox's Crafty Boxes is flying animals, so how could I not pick Birds & How They Live for this week's Ladybird Tuesday post.  This is one of the books from my childhood Ladybird collection.  Written by F E Newing, BSc and Richard Bowood and illustrated by Ronald Lampitt again this book was first published in 1966.

"Almost everyone has some interest in birds and bird life, and this is  book which will give pleasure and much fascinating information to readers of all ages.

With a simple and clear text and superb colour illustrations, it describes feathers and flight, beaks and bills, feet and legs, eyes and ears, nests, songs, food and defence against enemies, and rouses enthusiasm for further study."
And that last quote just about sums it up.  I'm not a 'twitcher' by any stretch of the imagination but I loved natural history as a child, wanted to grow up to be a vet for a long time, and this book was a fantastic way to learn about birds.

The inside cover, as with many of these natural history books, is illustrations with line drawings of bird's skeletons, feather and wing structure.

Starting with a page on the definition of a bird and their evolution, the book defines first feathers, then wings and tails and then flight.  

And this is what I love about Ladybird books.  As the books readers are children the explanation of how birds fly is in simple scientific terms, as follows;   
" level flight the flow of air over and under the wing surfaces, and the angle at which the wing is tilted, cause a lower pressure to exist above the wing than under it.  This gives what is 'lift', which balances the weight of the bird."
The explanation is clear, the language is precise and there has been no attempt to "dumb-down".  The child that reads this explanation of flight is expected to try and understand this level of language and scientific thought.  As a result he or she will come away with a clear understanding of flight, and how birds manage to defy gravity.

In Ronald Lampitt's illustrations there is great detail and information for the young ornithologist and for the young artist examples of skillfully drawn, beautiful images.  I remember drawing copies of the bird heads below as a child.

This book taught me so much and I am really happy to share it as part of the Ladybird Tuesday linky started on the Being Mrs C blog, take a look at her posts here.

The rest of Mrs Fox's Ladybird Tuesday posts are here and if you have a collection of Ladybird books, please do feel free to join in.

Flying things

Mrs Fox's Crafty Boxes - Flying Things Part I, June 2013

Whew, what a week that was!

As we worked our little paws off at Mrs Fox's HQ getting this month's Crafty Boxes ready for  subscribers it was one disaster after another.  Everything from locking myself out of the house/studio, and then out of my bank account, to a power surge that led to a power cut in the village which appears to have permanently knocked out our printer.

But the last of the boxes went out only a day late and as I cleared up the chaos in the studio on Saturday my little fox, Una, suddenly decided to take over my making table and have a go at some of the crafts.

Without any help/interference from me and with such sweet, quiet, seriousness she made some of our birds.  And as I watched her l felt inspired rather than just tired, really proud of her, and proud of our crafty boxes too.  My daughter loves making things already, but, the boxes give her ideas, teach her new crafting skills and are that extra stimulation of an interest/talent she already has.

She got involved in some of the planning on this one too, again without any specific encouragement from me.  Honestly, I am not running a sweat shop full of little crafty children.  Una drew designs for some of the toilet roll owls inspired by a birthday card that I had received, here they are:

And here is her finished product:

Una added feathers to her owl as ears and is also working on another owl that has wings she has made in cardboard to slot into the side of the toilet roll.

If you're interested in joining our exclusive little crafting circle, Mrs Fox's Crafty Boxes go out once a month for the price of £10.50 +p&p(£4.95) or you can buy individual boxes for £12 +p&p.  A limited number of this month's box, Flying Things Part I, are on sale on our website now, right HERE!


Flappy Bugs

The theme for this month's Crafty Box is Flight, more specifically Flying Animals.  Still enthused from last months growing theme that had us looking at the natural world for crafty inspiration, this month we have found flying insects, birds and fish to create.

For some reason loo rolls seem to feature heavily in our materials this month.  While Mrs Fox's kid's craft boxes always have at least one craft where we provide you with all the materials, we also have ideas for crafts that use items you will find around your home, usually in the recycling pile.  In this month's box loo rolls are the big thing.  As you can see, they are the main ingredient to make the flappy bugs above.

You will need:
loo roll
additional cardboard for the wings and antennae
string or wool
paint or felt pens
a large darning needle & beads (optional)

I should add something my dad always insisted we remember when approaching an activity using instructions... 'Read the instructions twice before starting, make sure you know where you are going...'

1.  I painted my loo roll a single colour first and let it dry.  Then cut out wings and antenna in cardboard and decorated these.  The Bee wings I just scribbled with a marker pen, but the butterfly wings Louis finger-painted one then took a mirror print from this on the second wing.  Make two small holes in the wings per the diagram below.

2.  Next, take your loo roll and draw an L-shape 7cm long with an approx 1cm long base, do another L-shape 3cm from the first, see below:

3. Cut along your L shaped line and carefully fold in the L-shaped cut so that you have 2 little shelves inside your loo roll.  At this point I would use pens or paints to decorate the body of your bug and draw on a face, the cuts you have made will be at the back of the bug.

4. This step is a little fiddly, the last picture above shows you what it should look like when you have finished.
Take one wing and line up the inner of the two holes on your wings to the little shelf of the body, making sure the wing is in the right position on the body of your bug that the wings can move up and down smoothly.  Using the wing hole as a guide, make a hole through the shelf with the point of your scissors or a large darning needle.  Tie a double knot at one end of your string string or wool & thread the string through these holes from the underside.  Pull tight and tie another double knot, then cut the thread, securing your wing to the loo roll.  Do the same with the other wing.  You then need to thread your string through the remaining two holes on the wings, securing them to each other.

Take your remaining piece of string or wool and tie it to the thread holding the wings together, leaving lengths of thread to hang below the bug.  You can thread beads onto the end of this or cut out some leaves or flowers from the same cardboard you've used on the wings and tie these to the string.  Attach the antenna with glue to the inside of the top of the loo roll.

We came up with so many craft ideas for the theme of flight that we have had to divide them into two boxes over June and July, so look out for next months


Pirate Party Ideas & FREE printables

Mrs Fox's Pirate Party Box

Why are pirates called pirates?

...Because they ARRGHHH!

Ahem, right ho!  I've been a bit rubbish, so, I thought I'd start with a joke - a bad one, I know.

Mrs Fox's pirate parties are our most popular I blogged about them last year and I promised to put up printables for the invitations and thank you cards and other pirate party ideas.  Since then we have done several more pirate parties and I have re-designed our pirate themed Mrs Fox's Pirate Party Box .  The new designs are illustrated in the image below. At the bottom of this post are those printables I promised.

For whatever reason the Pirate Party is a firm favourite with children, boys and girls alike.  When we run our pirate parties, along with giving the traditional party games a pirate theme we use our very successful Pirate Treasure Hunt, which we tailor to the age range of the children.  Using the map below we hide wooden letters that spell the world PARTY for the older kids, or just use the pictures hidden around the venue for pre-schoolers.  The treasure is always chocolate gold coins in a wooden treasure chest.

Take a look at the range of co-ordinated pirate themed party items in our store and pick the things you like.  Then with a bit of craftiness on your part and the help of our free printables below you can run your own Mrs Fox's Pirate Party.

Mrs Fox's Pirate Party

From here you can download, for FREE, a versions of the; invitation, thank you card & party bag labels. Everything is designed to be printed onto A4 paper. There are conditions of use for all of Mrs Fox’s downloadable files, and here they are, please read:
These PDF files are for personal use only.  Design and concept is copyright Mrs Fox’s 2013.   Please do not redistribute the file or sell printed materials for profit. Thank you!
Mrs Fox's Pirate Party - Thankyou Card
Thank You Cards - Click HERE to download
Invitations - Click HERE to download

Party Bag Labels -  Click HERE to download
The labels are smaller versions of the thank you card, we cut them out and stick them onto plain craft paper bags (see the image below).  You can do this, or punch a hole in the top, thread them with string and tie them onto the handles if you prefer. 

You can order Mrs Fox's filled pirate party bags for £4. 50 + p&p each.  Mrs Fox’s Pirate Party Bags contain; personalised brown paper craft bag with name tag, felt eye patch, MYO pirate moustache, beard & telescope kit, treasure map, pirate stickers and sweeties, (chocolate coins, sardines & crazy jelly fish)

There is another way:  

If you would prefer we can personalise the PDF files with your child’s name and the details of your party and then you can print them out on your printer at home, or take them to a high street printer if you would prefer.  We’ll even throw in instructions and the PDF image files you need to create your own Mrs Fox’s Pirate Treasure Hunt & our Piratey Moustache, Beard & Telescope Kit.  There is a flat fee of £5 for this and here’s how it works:
  1. Email us and let us know your child’s name and party details. 
  2. We'll send you an invoice.  Make your purchase and within 48 hours (but usually sooner) we will email you your Pirate PDF files.
  3. You are now ready to print your pirate party.  They can be printed onto A4 paper or taken to a high street printer and include full and easy instructions. 

Or order a Pirate Party Box

Our usual personal service means everything is included with as little effort as possible, we’ll put the whole party box together and mail it straight to your home. 
The Pirate Party Box contains:
Personalised printed invitations, thank you cards & envelopes
Personalised handmade paper bunting
Balloons x 20
Paper plates & cups in red and navy along with pirate treasure map napkins
Pirate hats
Pirate cup cake kit, makes 24
Mrs Fox’s Pirate Treasure Hunt kit
Mrs Fox’s Pirate Party Bags; personalised brown paper craft bag with name tag, felt eye patch, MYO pirate moustache, beard & telescope kit, pirate stickers and sweeties, (chocolate coins, sardines & lollies)
10 red spotty birthday candles
Mrs Fox's will put the whole party box together and mail it straight to your home.  You can purchase the Pirate Party Box for 8, 16 or 24 children right here.  Or if your number of invitees falls somewhere between these numbers please email us and we can send you a quote for a Pirate Party Box for the number of children you wish to invite.

Here’s how it works:
  1. Purchase your party box for 8, 16 or 24 children.  (Or if your number of invitees is substantially different email us first)
  2. Email us at and let us know your child’s name and party details and the number of children you plan to invite.
  3. We’ll send your invitations out within 3 days (but usually sooner) and the rest of your party box can then be sent out very soon after.
Which would you prefer?

Mrs Fox's is always happy to work up a new party theme with you.  We understand how busy you are so with Mrs Fox's Party Boxes you will get everything you need to run a party and it's as easy as 1, 2, 3...

How does your garden grow?

We live in an old house.  Just as our home tells the stories of the people that have lived here before us, so too does our garden. 

When we moved into our house the garden was a bit of a mess.  The previous owners had obviously stopped caring for it, at least during the long process of selling.  When they left they decided to have a big bonfire on the small lawn, take up the patio and dig up some large plants that they wanted in the garden of their new home.

In the garden that remained there was also clearly still the mark of the owner previous to them.  A man called John, who owned two Rottweilers, who is at least a generation older than us, an avid gardener, with quite a traditional English tastes in gardening.  My neighbour, Jean, who is in her 70's, often bemoaned the ‘lovely’ garden John had left behind.  She also told me about the Rottweilers who are apparently buried under some rose bushes.  John loved roses, had a veggie patch at the back and liked privet and little brick walls.  I know the latter not from Jean but from what my garden has revealed over the years.  

Jean’s garden is how I imagine mine used to look.  Boarders along each side packed with perennial shrubs and every flower of every colour she can fit.  A lot of hard landscaping, including a few 'interesting' statues and perfectly clipped lawn.  

I have two red rose bushes; a rambling rose and stately hybrid tea rose (I think) that marks the Rottweilers' resting spot.  Two white rose bushes; a climber (above) that we have not quite persuaded to take flight over the pergola and another hybrid tea rose (I think) with a dusky pink centre that is highly perfumed(below).

When we first moved in I was not a massive fan of roses, mostly because I am a little intimidated by them.  There seemed to be a lot you have to do to look after them.  I didn’t want to remove them straight away, mostly because I was a little scared of finding the Rottweiler skeletons.  But they were very thorny and I had an unsteady toddler.  They were also rather leggy, covered in black spot, whitefly and with very few flowers the first year.  But, with a little pruning and feeding they have worked their magic on me.  This year the white ones have just started to bloom and they have already made me glad I kept them.

And what I can’t show you is the beautiful smell; cut roses do not have it; rose water and eau de cologne doesn't capture it either.  But a bit of rain, a warmish evening and you understand why they are the flower of love.  The smell is so wonderful.  

So, thank you John for our roses, aren't they beautiful?

I took all these pictures this week and other than a bit of edge blur, I've only done digital touching up on this last shot.  I only say this because the beauty in the pictures really is entirely down to the beautiful roses themselves and some lovely light in the garden on Tuesday evening - thanks for the tip Mammasaurus.

And for some more gorgeous gardens this post is part of Mammasaurus', How does your garden grow... linky.

Mammasaurus - How Does Your Garden Grow?

Ladybird Tuesday - Animals And How They Live

This week's Ladybird book, Animals and How They Live was bought for me by my brother and sister in law and my niece Sasha for my birthday this year.  They know about my obsession with Ladybird books.  As the title sugests this is another Ladybird Natural History Book, written by F E Newing, B.Sc. and Richard Bowood with illustrations by Ronald Lampitt.  This book is part of Ladybird's Series 651, published pre-1970's as the price on the cover is pre-decimal (2'6 NET in case you are interested).

"It is not just a book about animals, it is much more; it is the story told in simple language, of how animals live, and how they have evolved to suit their way of life.  It is, in fact, a book about the evolution of mammals."

On the front inside cover of the book is this great picture of animal skeletons.

The book begins; " Everything can be divided into 'animal, vegetable or mineral', as in the game.  The animal we mean is any creature which can move of it's own free will, including birds, fishes, reptiles and insects.  When we speak of animals in the ordinary way we really mean mammals, which are all the animals which produce their young complete, and nourish them in infancy on their mothers' milk,  This book is about those animals, the mammals."
The book then goes through the biology of mammals and through page titles like; Hooves and Paws, Claws and Teeth , Tusks and Horns, Eyes, Ears, Noses, Voices and Tails; explaining the process of evolution by natural selection.

There are the usual wonderful illustrations displaying the magnificent diversity of the animal kingdom.

The book ends with the typical human preoccupation of our own similarity, yet difference, to the rest of the animal kingdom.  Having explained what instinct and knowledge are and that animals operate mostly on instinct the author does recognise that some young animals are taught by their parents as children are;  "A mother bear teaches her cubs to stay with her, to remain quiet and to hunt, and if they are disobedient she picks them up and spanks them - hard." 
However, "The top order of the mammals is called the primates, and includes monkeys apes and Man.  These have the most highly developed hands which they use in varying degrees under the direction of the brain...  Intelligence depends on using the brain to think and reason, instead of relying only on natural instincts."
It's quite interesting that intelligence is being defined like this, as the co-ordination of brain and hand.  I think more modern books would probably place more emphasis on the brain and the animals ability to communicate.

In my collection of Ladybird books from childhood I have more of their Natural History series than any of their other non-fiction series.  The last Ladybird Tuesday I joined in with was a post on one of the other books in this series, Plants and How They Grow, and I think next week I will post on Birds and How They Live.

This post is part of the Ladybird Tuesday linky started on the Being Mrs C blog, take a look at her posts here.

The rest of Mrs Fox's Ladybird Tuesday posts are here and if you have a collection of Ladybird books, please do feel free to join in.

Auntie Mims' Spoon Heads - Great Idea for Father's Day

Auntie Mims personalised spoons

I love buying things from small independent makers and Auntie Mims personalised gifts are just gorgeous.  I bought the two spoons above for my friends when they moved into their little dream cottage in East Sussex.  They were so appropriate for the two of them and their new home.   But they would make a great Father's Day gift too wouldn't they?

Only £5 from

But Auntie Mims genius is not limited to wooden spoons, oh no, she is great at finding retro fabrics and make beautiful things from them:

The deer are part of a collection of retro wooden animals that include a lion, rabbit and flying ducks, great for the nursery or the living room for that matter.  Her toy tubs are so useful and can be personalised.  There are always great offers on Auntie Mims' Facebook page , in fact I notice on FB there is 25% off these animals at them moment, so it is well worth popping over to like her and take a look at what is going on in the lovely world of Auntie Mims.



Mrs Fox's May Crafty Box was all about growing things. And two of our clever little crafty foxes have emailed us a picture of their herbs already growing.

Along with the seeds, decorating a growing chart and making a dragonfly mobile this box contained a recipe for savoury muffins, which includes the use of fresh herbs.   The recipe is one that we use at home quite often, great for breakfast and a clever way to sneak a few extra veggies into the little foxes diets.  I got the recipe years ago from our friend Rachel, so we call them Rachie Rach's Scrumptious Savoury Muffins.  And don't they look great baked in the little pots we gave our little foxes for their seeds.

If you would like to join the fun and subscribe to Mrs Fox's kid's craft box scheme follow the link here for more details.  They cost £10.50 a month +p&p, or you can buy individual boxes for £12, but we only make a few extras so you have to get in there quick.


Where is Elmer Fudd when you need him?

Beau the Patterdale terrier
Photograph by Little Louis Fox
You see how our dog Beau (or Killer as we sometimes jokingly call him) is smiling?  Well that is because I just told him he IS allowed to kill rabbits after all.

Does that sound harsh?  I mean, Bugs Bunny is (or maybe now was) my favourite Loony.  I love those giant Belgian Hares in the children's zoo at the local garden centre.  One of my best and most loved friends and her beautiful children have a house rabbit, called Bun, who I will admit is gorgeous, and in a non-lapin-a-la-casserole kind of a way.  Come on, I am a Mrs Fox.  BUT...  

Image from:
And I apologise to those of you, and your children, who have a bunny as a pet.  

I never thought I would be so intolerant.  I believe in non-violence, I do.  I love nature, the great outdoors, am an environmentalist through and through.  I believe in sustainable and organic gardening on my allotment.  BUT... Dogs are organic right?  And really those bloody rabbits are just not sustainable.

I went to the allotment after last weeks “How does your garden grow...” post and I spent a lovely afternoon planting up peas, onions (Yes, I know late, or way too early depending on how you look at it but it’s been a funny year right!) and beetroot.  I went back this Monday expecting to take some great pictures and do a little tour of the allotment for this weeks post.  And in the meantime someone had stolen the metal fencing along one side of our allotment, the rabbits had got in and had a party.  

Now, I am usually all for parties, love 'em.  BUT... not at the expense of my beautiful, carefully nurtured, diligently tended, much loved baby plants.  I cannot repeat what I said upon seeing the devastation.  I cannot show you a picture, because I didn’t have the heart to take one, and even if I had I could not have put it on this blog, because I couldn’t take the daily reminder of my distress.

Do you know how long it takes to plant 8 rows of 10 - 12 onions out?  That’s over 80 onions they ate, 80, aaaaaggghhhhh!

I have no love left in my heart for rabbits, I’m sorry.   

I don't much like the people who stole the fencing either, but, they are long gone, if I thought my dogs could take them on, well, I go no further as I could incriminate myself and my dogs.

So here are some pretty flowers from my garden, they are all that is keeping me from taking Beau and his girlfriend, Bea, over to the allotment right now to begin the Bunny Shock and Awe Campaign.

And just on a final note, I took this picture today, look at this daffodil, what a weird year, how often do you get daffs in June!

P.S. No rabbits were actually hurt in the writing of this post.  And if you want to see some beautiful non-rabbit devastated gardens whose owners do not rant, try here:

Mammasaurus - How Does Your Garden Grow?
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