Tag Archives: birthdays

Books, Faeries and a Mad Hatters Tea Party

I am very aware that my being a Barefoot Books Ambassador has sort of taken over this blog lately. So much so that I’m actually in the process of creating a whole new website for my work from home business (more on that later). That doesn’t mean that Barefoot Books has totally taken over our lives. In fact it’s quite the opposite.

The main thing that’s been keeping me from updating this blog is that there’s just been too much other stuff going on. Take the Plymouth International Book Festival for example. I was lucky enough to have a Barefoot Books stall at the Plymouth Artists Book Fair but the girls and I got the opportunity to participate in a fantastic range of events and workshops too.

There was plenty of free stuff happening such as a comic making workshop for kids from the Etherington Brothers (creators of Monkey Nuts and Baggage) and the Making Great Illustration exhibition which featured work by Quentin Blake, Oliver Jeffers and Rob Ryan. I also got to attend a talk entitled “How Short can a Short Story Get” from the fabulous short story writer, Tania Hershman (apologies again for the coughing fit during her reading of Einstein Plays Guitar).


There were so many amazing things happening over the week of the book festival, I wish I could have gone to every event. I was gutted to have missed talks by Babette Cole and Audrey Niffenegger but there are only so many hours in the day! If I could have taken a whole week off from life and immersed myself fully in the festival I would have done. But home schooling and work had to be squeezed in somewhere, and as I had been booked for my first ever Barefoot birthday party I had to restrain myself.

Fortunately the Book Festival provided me the perfect opportunity to research for my faerie themed birthday party because BRIAN FROUD was there. He gave a q&a session before a special showing of The Dark Crystal. A once in a lifetime chance to meet one of the most influential artists of my childhood.

So… according to my eldest daughter I turn into a blushing, gibbering, shaking wreck when I meet one of my heroes. I did manage to hold it together long enough to ask him to sign my copy of his book Good Faeries, Bad Faeries. If only I’d managed to tell him that my daughter is also a bit of a faery expert. She has actually seen one after all.

The 150th Anniversary of Alice in Wonderland

Us home-schoolers also managed to hold our own little “unofficial” Book Festival event too. Inspired by the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland events that The Story Museum, Oxford held over the summer, we decided to do the same.

The idea was to bring the book to life with a “not-back-to-school” Mad Hatters Tea Party in a local Plymouth park. Everyone brought along food and tea-cups and dressed up as characters from the much loved tale. Our party feast consisted of jam tarts (of course), cucumber sandwiches, bread and butter flies – we even had blue bread caterpillars to munch upon, as well as organic squash to drink (I must admit the bottles of squash do look like wine bottles in the pics – I assure you it’s not alcoholic!)

The day before the party the kids and I made up a bottle of crazy coloured liquid with a “Drink Me” label tied to it. We designed our fancy dress, created a pocket watch which told the day of the month rather that the hour of the day and made our plans to recreate as much of the book as we could.

For the party we hired a giant mushroom from Plymouth Play Association & Scrapstore (where we also get all our craft materials) and dressed it with an ornamental hookah and a variety of different editions of the book. The kids decorated biscuits with the words “Eat Me”. We had a Caucus Race, tried to perform The Lobster Quadrille and played human croquet by dividing into teams of hedgehogs and playing cards as balls and hoops. We even found a real live caterpillar while we were roaming round the park. It was a brilliant afternoon – thank you everyone who came and made it special!

So yeh, once again I’ve been neglecting this blog somewhat but I hope I can be forgiven. When my new Barefoot Naomi website is launched I should be back on track with recording some more of our adventures in sustainable living here at My Borrowed Planet. In the meantime, I’m going to keep on juggling home-school, my Barefoot Books business and making the most of all of the opportunities life offers us.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” Native American proverb

Birthdays the Frugal Way

Wow it’s been a really busy couple of weeks at the My Borrowed Planet house and the icing (literally) on the cake was both my girls having their birthdays this week.  Quite a few people have expressed their surprise (OMG!) at the fact there is only one day between each of their special days.  Yes family planning was not my strong point, but one thing I know is that birthdays don’t have to be expensive.

I guess I am lucky in a lot of ways.  My girls don’t expect a lot in the way of gifts – even my eldest who I must admit received far more presents in the 6 years before her little sister came along than she ever has since.  In fact, my 10 year old is now soo anti-corporate it makes me smile. She can often be heard exclaiming “How much? What a waste of money for a load of plastic rubbish!” when she sees adverts for the latest must-have toy on the telly.  My youngest is just happy, pretty much all the time.

I have what I consider to be a reasonably large budget for their birthdays of around £40 each.  Their gifts tend to be a mixture of new and second hand and naturally include a lot of the home school resources we will use over the coming 6 months such as games, puzzles and books.  By that time its Christmas of course so having their birthdays so close together actually works out pretty well.  Our extended family and friends also tend to give gifts that will enhance our play based learning curriculum so I’m really grateful to them too.  Crystal growing kits, flower presses and art materials are the perfect gifts and the girls are looking forward to a trip out to a rare breed’s centre where they will get to feed wallabies with their granddad as an extra special birthday treat.

The only downside to having two birthdays so close together is the slight overload of cake, but to be completely honest it’s not really a hardship.  Their dad made some amazing creations this year (he’s gotten so into baking since he’s been unable to work) and made the TARDIS console for my eldest and a pink Dalek for the littley.  They cost less than £3 each and tasted awesome (I must post some pics).

Of course, we should really be getting back into our normal homeschool curriculum today, but to be honest we’re all suffering with festival flu and are absolutely exhausted.  The weather outside is rubbish too so I thought I’d catch up with some blogging and let them spend the day playing.  After all, isn’t that what play-based learning is all about?  I will go and join them in a minute, just as soon as I finish this post.

I’d be interested to know, however, what you think of our low cost birthdays.  How much do you spend on birthdays and what do you get up to?  Do you think I’m an old meanie for keeping things simple or is it a refreshing change in today’s increasingly hectic (and expensive) lifestyle?  Please leave your comments below! x

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