Animal Advent Calendar

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You might not think a shark is particularly Christmassy or a rhino, erm . . . . how about a crab? Well, my eldest boy loves ALL the animals so, mix them up with some Christmas stars and it’s an Animal Advent Calendar.

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I do like the chocolate ones and ‘Yes! I would like a chocolate Advent Calendar thank you very much’  but until Rupes cottons on to the chocolate element, there  won’t be any in these pockets.  He is desperate to look in all the pockets as it is, so if chocolate were involved it might just tip him over the edge. Lots of people do the advent book thing, which is nice and the books don’t have to be new. Other people give something each day rather than getting anything at all, which I would like to do with my boys when they are older and understand more. We are also pegging out a family photo a day, on a little string, in the lead up to Christmas, like this, my favourite picture of my grandparents:

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I’ve always enjoyed watching the passage of time with an Advent calendar, so I wanted something physical and visual which would appeal to a toddler.  I also like the idea of getting something out year, after year and making simple family traditions.

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I started making the calendar when I was pregnant with the twins but never really got it together in time for last year.  I had every intention of hand sewing little, felt decorations to go in the pockets, probably after seeing one on Pinterest.  All those twin hormones clearly made me completely over ambitious. It may still happen one day in the distant future but for now, there are plastic animals, purchased for the bargain price of five for a pound, and Christmas stars adorning the tree.

I’ve found life with a toddler to be full of extreme emotions, but everything about Christmas so far, with an almost three year old is well and truly bringing the magic back.

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Knitflix and cowl

 

 

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Trump. Shit. Some people go running to deal with this kind of thing, some people drink copious amounts of alcohol and some people, like me, binge watch Netflix or, as I like to call it, ‘Knitflix’ and get their craft on.  I’ve been doing a lot of crochet lately.  This is mostly because it’s a really portable and pretty sociable craft.  I can crochet sitting on the sofa, outside, for 10 minutes between feeding or changing babies and before my toddler notices what I’m doing.  Also, designing stuff is my favourite thing to do and crochet is pretty flexible in terms of what you can produce.

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I find crochet to be super therapeutic and I always do it when I feel stressed or sometimes to just wind down from the day.  I’ve been tweaking this particular design for a couple of years and I’m happy with this year’s run in neutral colours.

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They are reversible and warmer than traditional scarves and cowls because of the two layer system.

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The outer layer is crocheted in an alpaca/wool mix and the inner layer is luxury faux fur.

I have just opened my Etsy shop for the winter and these are the first items to be listed.

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They remind me a lot of the natural landscape and walking on the beach in winter, hence why I have named them after some of my favourite beaches.  This also echoes my unstoppable desire to be near the sea, I can’t explain it, maybe it’s just a case of you can take the girl out of Cornwall . . . Matt would definitely blame it on my Cornish ways (I like to think he means my endearing ways, not sure if he does though!) personally I think it’s probably down to all the sea water I ingested as a small child.  When I was a girl, I could step out of my front door and see the sea, I spent hours on boats and surrounded by maritime paraphenalia. The first thing I wanted to do for myself after giving birth was to go and walk near the sea, albeit slightly uncomfortably. I don’t think I could live somewhere for very long if I had to travel far to get to it.  As it is now, occasionally, if the conditions are right, I can hear the waves from beyond the burrows when I go to sleep.  It’s a ridiculously romantic notion, but by hook or by crook, the sea salt has gotten into my system and I think it’s there to stay.

 

Twin Set Cardigan Tutorial

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What do you do when you are really very pregnant and can’t move? (That’s from about half way through when pregnant with twins!) Well, apparently what I do is A LOT of crochet.  So much so, in fact, that this happened when the twins were born:

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I made these cardies in two in different colours:  mustard and grey.

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I also made little hats:

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and here is the link to that free pattern.

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I have to say that crocheting helped keep me sane towards the end of my pregnancy (even if that picture of little E above suggests otherwise) when I could barely climb the stairs without getting short of breath or get out of bed unaided. Needless to say twin pregnancy is nothing if not challenging, but crochet was the shit when I needed some preggo-craft therapy!

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If you want to make this cardigan for a new baby you know (or are about to know!) I suggest using a nice soft wool maybe with merino or cashmere as it’s so lovely for a newbies skin.  It doesn’t come cheap, but you can find good deals and you only need a small amount for baby clothes.  Ultimately, my advice is to just get the nicest and softest wool you can afford.  It’s also amazing for new mums and dads if you can find a super-wash merino or equivalent because you can then wash it at 40 degrees.  However, unless it gets dirty, you don’t need to wash it as often as other clothes.

I have written this pattern in UK crochet terms and in terms of difficulty, you just need to know how the basic stitches of chain, double crochet and treble crochet.

For a 0-3 months cardigan, you will need:

2 x 50g balls of wool for the main body of the cardigan (I used SMC Select Super-wash Merino)

1 contrasting ball of wool for the border (I used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino) and you will have plenty left over.

4mm crochet hook

6 buttons

V-stitch:  1 treble crochet, chain 1, another treble crochet in the same stitch.

Step 1:  main body of cardigan

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Round 1: Ch 3, counts as 1st stitch here and in every row, 6 tr c, V st, 9 trc, V st, 14 trc, V st, 9 trc, V st, 7 trc.  Turn.
Round 2-6: Ch 3, trc in each trc and V stitch in each V stitch and turn at the end of each row. (This will slowly increase the size of your work)
Round 7: Ch 3, trc to first V stitch, folding so 1st and 2nd V stitches are together trc in both to join them, trc to next V stitch and join 3rd and 4th V stitch in same manner, trc to end and join
Note: This creates the armholes, you will add the sleeves in the next step.
Round 8-18: Trc in each trc, skipping the armholes
Round 19: Ch 2, turn.  dc all the way up the front of the cardigan, round the neck and back down the front on the other side, end.  I think this gives the front a nicer finish.
Step 2:  add the sleeves
Going through both V stitches where the sleeves were joined in the underarm, join yarn, if you don’t do this there will be a hole in the underarm
Rd 1-11: ch 3, trc in each stitch, Check to make sure you have 22 stitches and end.
Step 3:  add the contrasting border and buttons.
Make sure your cardigan is right side out.  Begin with your contrasting colour on the front right side of your cardigan at the bottom left
Round 1:  Ch 2, then dc all the way up the front around the neck, down the front of the other side and around the bottom, when you get to the end, slip stitch to join.  On the corners make 2-3 dc in 1 stitch to round them nicely.
Round 2:  Repeat round 1 until you begin to descend the front left of your cardigan as you need to make the buttonholes.  Dc around the corner and make 1 dc followed by ch 2, then dc 5 and ch 2 until you have 6 buttonholes.  Continue to dc as in round 1 and join.
Round 3:  Repeat round 1
Round 4: Dc the front right side ONLY.  End.
Finishing: You just need to sew in the ends and sew on your buttons very securely.  I also added two rows of dc to the sleeves in the contrasting yarn 🙂
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I would love to see your finished creations, so please let me know if you make this! You can Instagram #zoedidit
If you have any trouble with the pattern, or would like me to make one for you, comment below or get in touch at zoediditemail@gmail.com.  Happy hooking! x
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Drowning in cardboard

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(Cardboard sculpture by Australian artist Annalise Rees)

If like me, you are drowning in cardboard on a weekly basis (I blame the babies in my house) then here is some cool stuff to do with it all.  You could do something altogether over half term if you have kids to entertain or just on your own this weekend if you don’t. So much of what we already have in the house is reusable and these ideas need mostly cardboard, paint and maybe some other bits you might have lying around. First though, some inspiration:

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French sculptor, Eva Jospin’s deep, dark forests made from cardboard are amazing and beautiful , see more here.

However, perhaps the ideas below are more achievable for the next few days.

I love these underwater creatures with peg people:

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Look at these light up houses made from milk cartons!

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This Fox marionette would be fun to make with older children:image

Or this:

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Toddlers would really love this ball maze:

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This cardboard camper is so cool!

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A Cardboard kaleidoscope!

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You could easily extend play too as suggested in the original post.

If you are feeling really industrious and have just moved house (!) you could make a cardboard box maze once the kids have gone to bed!

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I love the one above but I can’t find the original source, such a good idea! Alternatively you could make one in the garden:

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Here is the original post showing children decorating this elaborate garden maze.

We did this once and it was amazing, but I’m not suggesting you give it a go, as it’s probably disaster waiting to happen. When some friends did it a long time ago I think the radiator came off the wall, but alcohol rather than rice cakes was probably involved.

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Bank Holiday Inspiration

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What I will probably be doing this weekend is feeding babies, changing nappies etc, lots of walking about with my boys, maybe a bit of beach time and brunch time if I’m lucky.

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I will also be thoroughly enjoying the fact that we have Daddy around for an extra day.

But here are some crafty things I might be doing if I didn’t have three children under three as bank holidays are always good for getting your craft on. I am happy to spend the time I am stuck sitting feeding these little bundles finding cool stuff to do, even if I can’t do it myself just yet. I’m thinking we might manage one of the food related items on the list, Matt is a good baker!  And maybe you would like to do some of it, let me know how it goes if you do!

  1. These fudgy beetroot chocolate muffins look great and are kind of healthy, from the minimalist baker.
  2. This tote bag would be great for kids or an adult magnetic travel scrabble, from ducklings in a row.image
  3. One of these sweet little turtles from the purl bee would be a good weekend project.
  4. These flourless chocolate brownies from running with spoons are amazing! They also don’t contain any black beans, sweet potato or avocado. I like the idea of healthy stuff in brownies, but the reality not so much! After trying them and being disappointed several times, black bean brownies can just do one. These, however, I have tried and tested and are really yum.
  5. How about you crochet some cute slippers from meet me at mike’s, it might be April but I definitely witnessed hail today, so the slippers are here to stay for a while yet! image
  6. Get the kids involved and make these cats from Molly moo crafts so easy anyone can have a go.
  7. These DIY marbled mugs from Mollie makes are also super fast and would be a good way to use up your old nail varnishes.
  8. Or you could have a go at your very own dinosaur terrarium from turtle crafty girl.image

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you get a bit of sunshine and some fun times with good people. x

Dunga-shorts or Shortalls, even John Johns apparently

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I’m not really sure what the correct term for this item of clothing is, but I found all kinds of names whilst trawling the internet for a pattern/tutorial. Anyway, I have been dying to make some, what I like to call, ‘dunga-shorts’ ,ever since the sun has been out in force and I finally found the time at the weekend thanks to super dad.

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Made by Rae is where I found this free pattern and tutorial.  Rae has some really great patterns and how-tos, although this was from a guest blogger, it doesn’t link through anymore though, so I’ve taken you straight to the original on ikatbag’s site.  The instructions are really clear (I only messed up one part!) I did the simpler version without the waistband and just added the side pockets instead of all five. I didn’t want them to stand out, so I used the same fabric.  It would be fun to make lots of variations.

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I also added elastic around the bottom because they now look like those old-fashioned ones, which I just love, and make me want to squish Roo’s little chubby toddler legs even more than usual.

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I did use a contrast fabric for the lining as I thought the colours looked good together and Roo likes birds. The lining is some old (slightly faded if I’m honest) fabric from IKEA and the main fabric is an old shirt of Matt’s.  I used pretty much the whole shirt, whose collar and cuffs really had seen better days.  If I was super-organised, I would now be posting one of those before and after photos, but this week, sorry guys, it was one step too far.  Ah well, there’s always next time! 🙂

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The little fox came from Sass and Belle and was given to me by my lovely friend Laurel when Roo was born.  I have only just got around to making the perfect item of clothing for it to adorn now, 18 months later, but I think the fox was waiting for just the right thing to come along.

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In fact I think I love these so much, I’m feeling the need to make Roo at least two more sets!  I’ll let you know how that goes.

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I also made double amounts of dinner tonight so that my friend who has just had a little girl doesn’t have to cook tomorrow.  All I could think about with a newborn was home-cooked food as I was always starving (that lasted about 3 months!) and I just wanted to give the babe the good stuff.  I’m not able to do things like I used to now we have Roo but batch cooking was a small, but attainable kindness today and  it just feels really good to offer something like that.  So my friend and I both win (unless my cooking is really bad – haha!). I made this Four corners lentil soup, by Sarah Britton which is so yum, easy and quick and the easiest ever soda bread which is a real treat, thanks Laura for introducing me to The River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook.

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Super Easy DIY Fabric Tape

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This really is a super easy project that you can do in under half an hour.  You can definitely do it watching Girls, The Good Wife or The Jinx, which is our current watch list.

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Maybe you, like me, have fabric scraps hanging around from various projects.  Throwing away good fabric, even a small piece seems such a waste, but equally you don’t want it hanging around forever.  This year, for me, is all about using up what I already have and not buying anything new when making things for my home, family and friends.  So I’m going to try and think of projects to use everything up. The stash is getting out of control!  I also have a secret stationary obsession and definitely can’t justify spending any money on really pretty fabric tape.  So I’ll just make my own and you can too.

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I have only suggested you get two pairs of scissors ready as I have ruined a couple of pairs of fabric scissors by using them to cut tape, paper, card etc.  but you can just use normal scissors if you don’t have fabric ones. I think this works best if you choose lightweight cotton fabrics that don’t fray too easily.  I used some scraps left over from the quilt I was making.

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And also a few other bits I had lying around.

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All you need to do is lay your fabric right side down on a flat surface and stick the tape to the edge.

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Then cut the fabric as close to the tape as possible and trim the ends off the tape. That’s it!

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This is a really pretty way of taping up brown paper for special presents or parcels, it even makes newspaper look really pretty if you want to do some eco wrapping.  I used mine for the first time today when I sent off a special letter for the project ’52 Hellos’ from Meet me at Mikes – you can read about the project and get involved too here.

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Stitch your heart out quilt

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So . . . a patchwork quilt, it’s complete and my, oh my it was quite a task.  It’s going to be for Roo’s first proper bed but is doubling as a play mat at the moment, as he is still in his cot.

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This really was a labour of love, I think this is what mothers do for their children, for no particular reason, just because.  Sometimes mothers do these things and their children probably, no, definitely don’t even want them – hopefully it will stand the test of time and Roo will actually like it one day, he seems to think it’s alright now.

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I used different cotton fabrics collected from all over the place: the florals are new fabrics, the white was a worn out shirt belonging to Matt and the paisley a piece of fabric inherited from my Grandma.  I found the navy backing in a charity shop and the other plaid I have had for a long time, the first item of clothing I made for Rupert, a pair of summer trousers, was made from this.

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I still have to do a little bit of hand sewing to keep the wadding in place, but that’s ok, he hasn’t even got a bed yet!

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I have been reflecting a lot this week on the world’s events and to say it’s been a tough week for a lot of people is a drastic understatement.  It makes me grateful for what I have and without wanting to belittle daily feelings of frustration or tiredness or anxiety, which we all face at times, life is sharply put into perspective when you see others suffering real tragedy.  I recognise that I am small but I also feel an important sense of gratitude to have been able to give my son something I made for him this week, and to have done what I can do, by donating to the plight of the Nepalese.  Here are just two of the places you can do so too: here (Unicef) or here (Red Cross).  Do that and do something for or with someone you love.

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Slow burners!

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Hello you!

Sorry I’ve neglected you, this year has been a bit of a slow burner so far, a bit like my crafting; slow work but working up to a big flame! I found the start to the year quite hard trying to balance work, motherhood and my passions for music and craft, it has been a bit of a juggling act.  I think I’m just about turning the chaos into some kind of order.  It was really good to get some perspective on things when we went away over Easter, it’s so great to get away for a little bit, isn’t it?  We were super lucky to go to New york for 10 days and visit family in Brooklyn.  It was both very exciting and a bit scary to take Roo away for the first time on a big trip, but we had an amazing family time.

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I only went and knitted a gawd, darn sweater!  I have done some (simple) knitting before, mostly things that involve square shapes, but I’ve never knitted a jumper before, so this was a first.

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As a slightly more experienced mum now after a year or so, I knitted this in my favourite merino wool (Tip:  I bought some in bulk online, check wool shop ‘Sale’ sections!) but made sure it was ‘super wash’ so it is a practical jumper as well as a pretty one.  I really feel happier when things are both aesthetically pleasing and practical and I’m not the world’s best at remembering to hand wash, so this was definitely the way to go.

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There was quite a lot of undoing and swearing and starting again, so it went even slower than I expected, but I got there in the end.  I’m really pleased with how it came out and I am feeling satisfied with my efforts although I’m no expert knitter yet!

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I used this free pattern in the largest size and I made up the patterned bit which was fun, just because I wanted a bit of colour and honestly got bored knitting in the same colour. The bits I was worried about actually were easier than anticipated, like the neck and buttonholes. I love, love, love these yellow buttons!

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I had enough wool to make a little jumper for Roo’s new cousin who has just arrived.  Yay!  It’s my favourite jumper to make for babies which I adapted from this pattern to make the Little Cornish Jumper.  Hopefully it will be breathable enough to keep her cosy through the constantly changing Spring temperatures and of a cooler evening but without overheating when it warms up. I kept the front nice and simple.

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But, I added a button at the back (that yellow again!) . . .

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. . .not only because I love the colour combination, but also because it should make it easier to get the jumper over baby’s head.

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Here are a couple of great photos taken by Roo’s uncle on our trip, firstly, Roo is modelling amazing booties by Laurel of Arrietty Exeter:

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. . . and here is little chubby cheeks in his new jumper (that’s Rupert, not his dad, shoving, one of many, amazing NY pastries into his mouth!)

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Daniel the Tiger

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So now the festive season is well and truly over and we have passed the milestone of Roo turning one, I can finally catch my breath and check in here; I’m sorry I’ve neglected you!  I also went back to work at the start of January – it’s been emotional.

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One of our nieces, drew Roo this picture of ‘Daniel’ the tiger before Christmas, he’s so sweet:

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I thought it would be fun to make her drawing into a toy to send to her as a Christmas gift.

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I cut him out of lovely organic linen and embroidered his stripes and face using cotton embroidery thread.

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I added some embroidery on the back and gave him a little knitted jumper to keep him cosy.

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He is a little mischievous though!  When it came to posting time, Daniel had to burn off some of that energy and Christmas excitement before his long trip to the USA.  First I found him here:

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And then here hanging with the swallows:

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It took a while to find him here:

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And here:

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He listened to a couple of his faves before getting into the Christmas spirit and then into the post:

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Making a toy from a child’s drawing was possibly one of the most fun things I’ve done!  I really enjoyed trying to make him resemble the drawing and seeing him come to life.