Admiring Zelda Spellman’s Wardrobe

I realise that being bored of the whole COVID thing is a luxury; I am lucky I don’t work in frontline services and have to face the draining and constant horror of it all and for us, it’s just about surviving in our own little world of the ‘house’. I also feel lucky the boys are older and can (mostly) get on with school work on their own, and I am pleased I’m not currently doing the hideous double school run that was really stressing me out; but, (along with half the planet) I am fed-up of it all now and this is definitely more difficult then the first lockdown. Also, who knew that teenagers, just like toddlers, can pick the exact moment you nip to the loo to BOTH suddenly urgently need you…surely they grow out of this!….At least I can just tell them to bugger off when they come knocking on the bathroom door these days. I want my quiet, sometimes clean and tidy house back.

I keep myself positive with little ‘treats’ which can range from eating a bit of cake (yep, I am a comfort eater and I’m happily adding to the COVID 15 tally) to evenings watching some utter silly rubbish on Netflix.

I’ve done Bridgerton, The Queen’s Gambit and Cobra Kai and I’m currently on Snowpiercer, The Great (Channel 4) and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Actually, I’ve just finished Sabrina and I’m at that moment of loss you feel when you’ve got really involved in a (somewhat silly teen but fun) world and all it’s inhabitants and then it’s over, never to return in this case. I am a sucker for comic based stuff, sci-fi and also period drama so this really filled the spot, especially as it’s just daft at the same time so not too taxing on the brain or draining; since watching, I’ve developed a crush on Zelda Spellman’s wardrobe – see above for why!

Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that I do love dressing up but that I don’t get to do it very often as I don’t get out much, boo hoo. I also love clothes but I’m not interested in current fashion, I collect vintage clothing (and have done since I was a teenager) and if buying new I’ll often go for things that are a bit more expensive and timeless; I don’t buy clothes often so I need them to last.

With this in mind, at the same time as my Sabrina watching I was searching for something nice to buy with Christmas money I’d been given and I was drawn to the LK Bennett sale. Full price their clothes are way out of my reach but in the sale, it’s doable and it hits my usual vintage vibe and my new Zelda adoration. Their clothes are really well made, I think, although I have a hatred of dry clean only things (I can’t afford to have things dry cleaned). I didn’t buy all the above, obviously, but they are all dresses I’d happy own if money were no option and I ever actually left the house and so needed to put proper clothes on.

Other discoveries from my recent online browsing are Lola Ramona shoes of Copenhagen, some awesome vintage vibes there.

and if I were robbing a bank, these beauties from Freya Rose, London. I mean, check out those heels! A girl can dream.

Anyhow, back to reality and pyjamas every day (this isn’t actually true, I do dress but it tends to be on the ‘comfy’ side of things at the moment!), another thing currently bringing me joy are gel nails. Bloody awful photo here, but I am too lazy to take a better one. I bought a Mylee gel nail set, again with Christmas money and I’m really enjoying it! As a rule, I normally only paint my nails a handful of times a year as I can’t keep standard polish on, it chips in an instant and I’ve only had gel nails done twice at a salon but this I am loving, especially in the dark colours. Glitter dark blue next!

As for the rest of life, I am still revamping my studio with new cupboards and shelves (an Ikea Billy hack) on either side. I will fully photograph it soon but it’s proving really difficult to finish, especially with the new lockdown. I closed the shop up as I didn’t want to keep making unnecessary trips to the post office but I need to get back to selling so I may reopen Folksy and sell small items only that can go into the local post box. On the shop sewing front I am attempting to stash bust to make more space so there will be lots of smaller, quick to sew items coming up.

Right, back to the endless grind of tidying up after teenage boys. Ooh and Marcella is back so that’s another thing to add to the TV list!

Catching Up

This post is really for me so I can see what was missed in my blogging hiatus. Sorry it’s a bit dull!

I have surprisingly few photos from the past year.

I’ve been working away but mostly sewing curtains and when I have been doing more interesting work I’ve not taken many photos (lovely choice of curtain fabric above).

There has been the constant ploughing through open work (will these purses EVER be finished!) as well as some new things,

and we’ve also had our fair share of drama, starting with Birdie attempting near death.

She burst a lung falling from a height, basically, and I was told she was moments away from dying when I found her and rushed her to the vets who were amazing, and with emergency surgery, saved her life.

She’s fine now, although she rarely leaves the house these days, I think there are too many male cats around with 5 boys living on the short terrace who like to kick off a bit, she prefers a quieter life sleeping indoors.

We had lucky timing and bought some new chickens just before COVID as mine were all quite old and not really laying any more and then in a rather devastating moment lost the lot overnight when a fox in and ate them all.

I was gutted, we’d had some of the chickens for many years and we treat them all as pets, including a few I’d hatched from eggs. We managed to replace them eventually and we currently have 9 hens; a mixture of pure breeds, and two hybrids (who never lay any eggs!) who live separately and with my remaining cockerel.

Next came a bit of a shocker. Pre-COVID we found out that my youngest son’s long term back ache wasn’t from carrying heavy school bags (as the doctor – and to be fair, I – had thought) but rather he had spinal tumours. It was originally diagnosed as Fibrous Dysplasia (VERY rare in that part of the spine) but a later CT scan to monitor the FD showed it to be ABC (Aneurysmal Bone Cysts) that needed to be removed as they are aggressive growing.

C had the ABC removed over the summer and his spine re-enforced with a graft from his hip. It involved a stay at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, whose specialist care he is under (during Lockdown). It went really well and although he can’t carry heavy bags or do sport, all is good at the moment. The children’s wing of the hospital is full of beautiful murals taken from The Book of Lost Words by Jackie Morris.

Some of the sewing I’ve been doing has inevitably been masks, above a bundle for me and the boys.

I will add these to the shop in the next week or so, although I don’t plan to stay open too much longer, I’d like a proper break for Christmas.

I’ve also been doing a lot of DIY. We were in isolation most of Summer, as we had to isolate before C’s surgery, which got cancelled two days before, then isolate again for the next operation date so it’s been Lockdown, isolation, isolation again, Lockdown 2 and now Tier 3 for us! One great thing is I’ve finally tackled the studio with an Ikea Billy Bookcase hack so that’s one to photograph and share when I have some time.

Despite is all sounding a bit bleak, we have no complaints. We are healthy and happy and just getting on with it, like everyone else. Onwards and upwards!

O (fake plastic) Christmas Tree, O (fake plastic ) Christmas Tree!

I know how long it has been. What can I say? No excuses really except COVID!!!! Yep, let’s blame it for EVERYTHING including my inability to write blog posts (seems fair…right?!).

Anyhow, (pathetic) excuses made, on with the post.

Due to dreariness of Lockdown (and now Tier 3) like the rest of the county we were game for some early Festive cheer to bring a bit of sparkle to our lives, starting with a tree.

I love a real tree and in truth, I’ve always been a bit of a Christmas tree snob and I NEVER thought I’d go for plastic but the fact is, even when looked after carefully (bottom cut off and kept in water) real trees just don’t last all that long, especially with our underfloor heating so this year I decided to delve into plastic.

This is how I understand it to be. Trees are made entirely from PVE or they have PE tips. PVE is like the above – flat bits of even coloured green twisted plastic, like a bottle brush.

PE is moulded plastic (in some cases with a mould taken directly from a real tree) and, it’s said, feels like a real tree (I’m not sure about that bit!).

For trees with PE, only the tips are PE, with the main inside body of the tree still being PVE.

After a bit of research the tree make getting a lot of positive reviews seems to be the Kaemingk brand, specifically the Everlands Grandis Fir, which is what we went for as I found it quite cheap (£130 for a 6ft tree from Tong Garden Centre, which was a good price in comparison to other places). I liked the fact it appeared to have a more natural shape, I’m not really interested in perfect triangles.

When you first start putting the tree up it looks really crap, basically; you really do have to ‘fluff’ up the branches.

And then it looks pretty decent.

by the time it’s decorated you can’t really see it’s ‘fake’.

As always, we went with ‘Tat’ theme – all plastic and glitter from the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s.

I’m not sure it’s the very best tree out there, I did fancy John Lewis’s ‘Peruvian Pine’ as above (too expensive and I wasn’t sure it’d be better) and we should have gone for 7 ft (I forgot that when I buy our usual 6 ft real tree it goes in a pot, off the ground by quite a bit so adding false height).

All our other usual decorations have come out, including the ‘evil’ fairies (as my kids call them).

And the vintage mini tree with all my mercury glass and another ‘evil’ fairy on top!

It has really cheered me having the decorations up and we were lucky to buy our tree just ahead of the curve, as I see many places are now sold out. I’ve made a sterling effort with getting gifts ordered early and we just need to make it though the final weeks of school (if the boys actually get to go to school and aren’t permanently at home isolating!), mock GCSE’s and us all being cooped up together for even longer then roll on 2021 and let’s hope it’s better then 2020!

House Renovation: The Bedroom – part 2

There is another alcove in my bedroom that I didn’t show in the last post, it’s quite a difficult space as it doesn’t get a lot of natural light and it’s an awkward shape due to it being where the chimney breast runs up the house. dsc_0098_1502728683After a lot of thought, I fell in love with the idea of a glass display cabinet, ideally full of rows of my shoes. Yes, shoes again. I have a lot of them. To be fair I’ve been collecting them for years and years it’s very rare these days that I spend any money on myself, but the joy of my liking retro style heals is they never go out of fashion (as they are rarely in fashion!).dsc_0096_1502728672-1I spent a lot of time hunting on eBay for the perfect piece at the right price. The big problem is obviously no-one is willing to deliver glass so I got very excited when I found a cabinet on a charity auction site with postage costs and at a very reasonable price. It was in a bit of a state so was going to be a gamble, but the low price meant it wouldn’t be disastrous if it didn’t work out.s-l1600 copyIt was delivered by Parcelforce (I’m not kidding!) wrapped in a lot of bubble wrap and cardboard but survived intact. The wrapping was genius, if I remember correctly.

DSC_0172The first job was to try and revive the very scratched woodwork. For this, I went old school, and rubbed it down with an oil and vinegar mix and wow! DSC_0031What a difference it made. It was an almost miraculous recovery. It was so long ago that I’m not fully sure, but I think I then gave it two coats of Danish Oil before hunting down some old lock escutcheons on eBay. They were very cheap and once they arrived, I  liked the bakelite one best.DSC_0033As the door stayed shut nicely, I  just added a modern brass rabbit knob instead of trying to find a replacement key for the lock….just look at how pretty the wood looks in comparison to the top eBay sale photos.DSC_0042There is a matching rabbit used as a knob on the eaves cover just to the left. I used up all my leftover brass furniture handles and knobs on the eaves doors, so it’s quite nice as they are mostly mismatched, which I like; it was coincidence these two ended up near each other.DSC_0025I love this piece of furniture. It cost very little and works really well to fill the dark space as it allows light to pass through, is quite shallow in depth and, most importantly, I get to put pretty things on display!DSC_0038DSC_0032The light on top came from Graham and Green and the gorgeous candle which smells amazing as well as being beautiful was a Christmas present (it’s by Fornasetti).IMG_20190222_111532These were the original pictures in the space, but I’d promised myself that one treat when the room was complete would be buying new images as pay off for all the hard work (these ones have gone somewhere else – the wedding photo was my 18th birthday gift from my Mum, she found it in an antique shop and knew I’d like it, the tapestry was stitched by my Gran and used to be in my bedroom when I was a kid).DSC_0036 2The two framed photos are from King and McGaw and I absolutely LOVE them. They are both vintage Vogue photos.Screenshot 2019-06-28 at 14.06.40Vogue Early September 1960 by Don HoneymanScreenshot 2019-06-28 at 14.05.04and Felt and velvet mandarin hat by John French. They would really be nicer as larger images but I had to stay smaller to fit in the space.DSC_0056The final thing to go on the wall is a little frame with some of my vintage brooches on.DSC_0065It’s just a cheap photo frame from Sainsbury’s taken apart and a chunk of cork board covered with white linen put back in where the glass should be. It allows me to display my brooches but also take them down easily to wear and the sparkle from the stones is really nice in the darkened corner.

House Renovations: The Bedroom part 1

This is going to be a very photo heavy post and slightly for my own records really, so, sorry.

When we moved here the house was pretty much an empty shell, one of the bigger jobs was to convert the loft space and create a master bedroom, with en-suite bathroom.DSC_0285_2It was very exciting at the time (nearly 14  years ago, I guess).DSC_0223.JPGAll the plaster in the house was sprayed white at the very beginning and that’s pretty much where it ended in the bedroom. Even the blind was one I’d removed from the old house and adjusted to fit. The room didn’t even get skirting boards.DSC_0023Come 4 years ago and it was very much on my hit list to be done. I’ve become quite handy with basic woodwork so I put on all the skirting, sanded and oiled the remaining flooring (most had been done but there were a few patches still to do) and then moved onto the painting.DSC_0027One of the joys of being single is I get to do whatever I like to the house. I love that. After 10 years of all white, I was getting a bit bored and was in the mood for some colour. I took a lead from this fabulous vintage barkcloth fabric which I had in my stash (and hoped to use for the blind) and a notion that I really wanted to introduce some green to the room.DSC_0025 2After lots of tester tins, I went with Farrow & Ball Green Blue. It was only ever for the end wall and the alcoves, the other walls I intended to keep neutral.IMG_20170226_085538(1)The floating bookshelves are Umbra Concealed Floating Bookshelves (you can buy them on Amazon) and the watercolour is a vintage one by Yorkshire artist Angus Rands. I liked the colours in the painting (it’s one I inherited from Mum) and it’s propped there so I can use the colours as inspiration. I often do that, base a rooms colours on some fabric, or a painting.il_570xN.1084519279_sj9cThe problem was, I  struggled with the new paint colour. It felt slightly cold (this was back in March 2017, I think, – oh yes, that’s how long it can take me to finish and blog a project!) and when I’d been searching for fabric for blinds, I’d fallen in love with this amazing original barkcloth on Etsy. It nearly killed me to buy a second tin of paint and re-paint the wall, partly due to the cost of Farrow & Ball paint, but I  changed it to Breakfast Room Green and ordered the new fabric and then took that as my colour lead for the rest of the room. I am dying to use Arsenic somewhere in the house, but it didn’t go with the new fabric, sadly.DSC_0029The other walls were painted in Slipper Satin, which I love and use a lot.DSC_0007I had the added complication of needing to make a blind for the internal window that overlooks the studio (this was me creating the paper pattern). There wasn’t enough of the lovely floral fabric to use it on its ownDSC_0010so I paired it with some dark green linen and some amazing  Robert Kaufman Essex Yarn dyed linen/cotton which has a gold metallic thread running through it in Dusty Rose.DSC_0022The blind is attached with gold hoops stitched on with gold thread and hooked over gold capped mirror screws. It’s hard to explain but it folds back on itself and then gets hooked up onto the wall to ‘open’ the blind. If I’m honest, I rarely open it as the room gets quite good light from the windows and velux and I’m too lazy, even though it only takes a moment.DSC_0017The gold thread in the top pink fabric makes it hard to photograph as it reflects the camera flash and yes, that is some of my extensive Chie Mihara shoe collection. I refer to it as my ‘shoe shop’ corner, complete with a seat ready for trying on – ha ha.DSC_0045I’ve owned the chest of drawers for years – it’s from Habitat, as is the light.DSC_0052The dressing table is also quite old now and originally came from Made (along with the stool). The silk bedspread is one of my favourite things and was bought for a fantastic clearance price from Soak and Sleep.DSC_0061The little vintage vanity case is another of my favourite things and I keep my makeup in it as well as the ‘B’ case which came from Anthropologie.DSC_0059I especially like having some sentimental pieces around and this one was Mum’s – she gave it to me when I was a teenager and I’ve had it ever since, I believe it’s from the 1960s.

You can’t see it (as I forgot to photograph it!) but there are a number of hatches in this room allowing access to the small eaves spaces. I took all the fussy architraving off these and painted them in Elephant’s Breath (also by F&B) which is a kind of pink/grey colour. I just wanted the room to have clean lines and blocks of colour and I think it works really well, I’m very happy with it.

There is a part  2 to this post but I’ll keep it separate as it also contains a lot of photos 🙂

Catch-up

Just had a mild panic there…thought I’d lost access to my own blog due to inactivity but was being a mumpty and using the wrong ID, phew!

It’s been an age, I know and I am also aware I start every blog post with this comment, I really am struggling to balance everything at the moment, but enough of my excuses, we’ll just crack on!

I found some random photos in my Library from past months…

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I’ve been tidying through the house (in between sewing, looking after the boys and re-decorating – our home is getting past it’s best and looking very shabby in places and I can’t afford for anyone else to do the work so I’m becoming a whizz with power tools!). The boys, being autistic, don’t like change and it can be very difficult to get them to throw anything out but I’ve persuaded them both to clear through their things as long as I then agree to store them and these little mice turned up. I’d forgotten I’d made a bat mouse (or ‘Supermice’) for them all those years ago….three will be a green Supermouse and a vampire mouse somewhere too. Cute.IMG_20180909_152233New buckles for a beloved coat my Sister gave me – how lucky to find EXACTLY the same ones on the internet! What did we do before online shopping?IMG_20180913_150645IMG_20180913_154312IMG_20180924_124902And another great internet find, imperial size cover buttons so I could repair my vintage jacket (it’s only been in the repair pile for about 4 years or so now!).Pretzels

Last, a little pretzel message for me from my youngest – mad my day 🙂

Lots more posts to come as I’m quite ill with a stinking cold so I’m taking the day off sewing or painting or packing up lego to catch up with blogging….I’m at the repeat hacking cough stage…glad I do my Kegels!

Roses are Red

I am so sorry, I am late with the winner of the Rabbit Egg Cosy Giveaway. The main reason is I’m ripping out and replacing the lower bathroom, all the way back to removing and re-laying the subfloor so I get up each day, eat dust and try not to cry (I love doing things myself as it’s a great feeling  to learn and master new skills but boy, is this one steep learning curve! Thank goodness for the internet and if I could afford to pay someone to do it for me, I would.).Screenshot 2019-02-04 at 06.23.29The winner was comment 12, (Jan, I’ve emailed you directly for your address). Thanks, everyone that took time to say ‘hello’ and for all your lovely comments.RedRoseBroochAs I’m doing DIY during school hours, I have to hand sew in the afternoon and evenings (when I’m multi-tasking with Mum duties) and I was trying to get a new batch of double red rose brooches finished in time for Valentine’s Day.DSC_0050I’d normally be photo editing and updating social media at this time, hence the slip on blog writing etc.DSC_0035Then I remembered that I rarely sell to men/partners anyway….as in pretty much never….so I don’t think worrying about Valentine’s is really the right focus, I should be making more Linen Rabbit Egg Cosies as they have all gone!IMG_20170930_093804The plan is to keep going on the bathroom this week, then I’ll flip back to sewing during the day next week and get my evenings back for internet stuff. Maybe I’ll actually get on with the new tweed rose bags I started over 6 years ago…..maybe 🙂

Christmas decorations 2018…

Yet again we have gone with ‘tat’ tree this year, decorated with an assortment of ‘vintage’ tinsel, plastic and glitter. It’s interesting how taste can change, a few years ago my tree had a kind of colourful but matched nature/Scandi feel but now I’m all for bright and garish all the way with plenty of clashes.IMG_20181202_170256I guess it’s just an extension of how my general taste has changed. This house was all white with wooden floors (a definite and intended Scandi feel) and although I’ve always liked bright accents of colour, colour is now creeping onto the walls too with bold colours in the kids’ bedrooms and green walls in mine.IMG_20181202_170900Some of the old favourites are back, though, including baubles on ‘the dog’.IMG_20181202_171338and a knitted Santa that my Gran made and that was always in my room at Christmas when I was a kid.IMG_20181211_124111The Pelham puppets are up again in the kitchen…the star lights never actually came down!IMG_20181211_124138 And some of my really old decorations have gone on a tinsel tree in the kitchen this year.IMG_20181211_124208When I think of Christmas I think of the colours of a box of Quality Street, all foil and bright with purples, greens, blues and golds. I guess it’s a childhood nostalgia thing. I recently bought a box of Quality Street to use as props for photos (of the Christmas Stockings) and it sadly reminded me that although I like the wrapper colours I don’t actually like the chocolates inside!IMG_20181209_104632So instead, I’m going to think of this bowl of Lindt chocolates bought for me as a gift last weekend….there is an entire Lindt shop in Bluewater – who knew! I just LOVE the colours (and the chocolate) and I have some plans for Shop makes for next season that will definitely be inspired by these.

Green Foxes and Country Living

I’m ridiculously pleased to have made it into Country Living magazine this month with Mr Badger.MrBadgerCountryLivingI’m very lucky that I’ve been in the magazine before (a few times, actually) but not for some time. In fact, I think it’s a lot harder to get into magazines in general these days, there is so much competition in the handmade market that it’s difficult to stand out and it’s increasingly important to keep up any marketing which is an area I really struggle to find the passion to maintain.il_570xN.509627634_4hdz

It’s given me a well needed kick up the bum to get on with some neglected jobs including listing some things that have been finished for a while but where I simply hadn’t edited the photos (it all takes sooooooo long!)IMG_20170607_135833So, welcome, Mr Fox (in a Green Dandy Suit!).DSC_0003These started with some amazing Liberty Tana Lawn that I bought and imported from Japan. Why are all the nicest Tana Lawns only available abroad? I’ve never figured this out, it seems wrong, especially as it’s such an iconic British brand. Anyway, at much expense my single meter arrived (back in 2010!!!) and it was yelling animal cravats at me, so that’s what I made.GreenFox1With the addition of real leather buttons (I bought the entire remaining stock from Cath Kidston a few years ago when they went into the sale at a silly low price – one of my best buys as before that a lot of the leather buttons I used were vintage and they were getting hard to source at a sensible price).MrFoxNewGreen3There isn’t a lot else to add. Of all the foxes I’ve made, these are my favourite combination (but they don’t beat the wolves!), I really do adore the cravat fabric and bright green is very much my colour. They seem like a summer animal to me.FoxesIt’s likely that the remaining ‘Woodland Animals‘ will be my last.

I love them and they are very much in keeping with The Linen Cat. DSC_0269I’ve been making them in some form or another since 2010, but they take an enormous amount of time to make and the fabric alone is quite expensive so there is little profit.DSC_0017They really are a labour of love.DSC_0019There are still a few to be found in the shop (the badgers are almost gone now!) and some were moved into the Sale section a while ago so there is a bargain of two to be found there.DSC_0017Christmas things are coming next!

Glyndebourne 2018: Saul

It was time for one of my regular yearly outings with a trip to Glyndebourne Opera House. It’s always such a treat as I don’t get out a lot (boo hoo, poor me) and I always make the most of the opportunity to dress up. As all those who regularly read my posts on this subject know you can wear anything you like to Glyndebourne and I embrace that entirely, but I also recycle outfits quite a bit as it’s not practical for me to buy new things each year.IMG_20180722_121318

So, this time it was an old dress (I wore it last year too, as some of you will spot) but new shoes!

IMG_20180722_121206And what shoes they are. Quiet and understated they are not. They’re from Irregular Choice’s Aloha Hula range and I absolutely love them. Clearly, they are not for everyone….some of the ladies I attended Glyndebourne with were not very impressed, but I don’t mind, I don’t dress for other people I dress for myself so I don’t really care. I got lots of positive comments from other Opera goers, mainly elderly ladies some of whom stopped to take photos of my feet!IMG_20180722_124029Here is the rest of the outfit with me attempting to smile (I don’t like taking my own photo). I put these photos up on Instagram and some eagle-eyed folk spotted I have my usual Paperself bird eyelashes on too. Sorry, no close-up photos of the eyes this year as I was too lazy to take one, I also didn’t vintage set my hair as it was simply too hot.

Screen Shot 2018-08-09 at 12.29.49The opera was a delight. I must admit to finding the ‘story’ pace a bit slow in the first half but the music was beautiful and the choral sections were especially good.poaztwm9b0et2l27hoypThe staging was magnificent! 'Saul' Opera performed at Glyndebourne Opera, E Sussex, UKThere was a moment in the second half where I thought we’d swapped to watching an episode of League of Gentlemen (anyone who has seen Glyndebourne’s version of Saul knows exactly what I’m talking about here…’bitty’ *shudder*) but it just added to the slightly bonkers feel of the whole thing.ygtsadzmby0oj4ikgvs7I especially loved the raked ‘soil’ floor, the contrasts of colour against the black background and the mix of modern and period costume. Fabulous.

Anyhow, that’s my yearly outing done (small violin playing in the distance here); the shoes have been put away (actually they haven’t, they are in my newly decorated bathroom, on the shelf, where I can admire them for a bit longer) and it’s back to sewing, surviving the heat and refereeing the kids.