Queen of Konmari Challenge Stage 4: Komono (Miscellany)

Right, so sorting through komono, or miscellaneous items, this is the biggest and most time-consuming stage of the Queen of Konmari challenge, because it basically encompasses everything in the house, except for sentimental items.

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Sorting through various categories of komono

I have to say that this stage, although it was challenging, was made MUCH easier because of the moral support I had from the Konmari Facebook group that I formed with my friends (more on this in Five Tips to Getting Started). Additionally, I was gaining momentum after going through the first three stages of the Konmari process, so deciding what was worth keeping was much easier.

Looking back at my contributions to the Facebook group during this part of the process, it’s interesting to see my thought processes as I worked my way through the house!

Thoughts upon clearing the home office and living room –

  • Day 1: Can I win the prize for Most Impressive Media Mountain? I have not even included the [CDs] from in the car.
  • Day 2: I just organised the CDs into boxes. Labelled by genre and arranged roughly alphabetically. I used IKEA KASATTE boxes and shoeboxes.
  • Day 4: Yesterday, I picked out a really nice hardcover notebook (that I’d actually already started using for recipes), and copied/pasted recipes in it from other notebooks/loose paper bits. Used washi tape to label the spine. School logo notebooks/jotter books/blank diaries, I kept to use for the kids for their doodling/as scratch paper. New notebooks still in wrapper, kept for later. Blank sketchbooks also kept for kids drawings. Generic notebooks that were given to me free with company logos and slogans or notebooks with designs that I don’t like, I’m going to give away. I have so many half used school logo notebooks, I don’t need these blank books as scratch paper. Also, two small blank ‘acid free’ books are inside my ‘to do’ box. Going to fill them with kids photos and give them to the grandparents/godparents as gifts.
  • Day 5: Hitting a wall. It’s because I haven’t really found a logical place to keep the things I’m going to keep yet because those places are full of junk waiting to be sorted through. I put all my husband’s papers in one big box. But yeah, there are CDs and DVDs waiting his approval before I can get rid of them so my spare room space which I’m using to konmari is getting very crowded. Maybe I’ll pile them in the study this evening, get him to look at them.
  • Day 7: I just realised that craft supplies falls under this category! *crying* I don’t want to look into the craft cupboard! Banning myself from accepting more craft supplies as handmedowns or gifts! Thoughts for ‘extra’ coloured pencils/broken and stubby crayons/markers, crappy pencil sharpeners and colourful but inadequate erasers – separating these into plastic takeaway containers. Going to put them in the box of party supplies to bring out during parties for general entertainment. Check them when gathering up party supplies and bin the rubbish ones.

Thoughts upon clearing the kitchen – 

  • Day 1: Going to start this by giving away unused appliances. Why do I have 20+ wineglasses?! WE DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO DRINK WINE IN THIS HOUSE because we are such plebs. Going to give away wineglasses and just keep the ones we were given as wedding gifts for whenever we feel fancy. Also, I found my glass jug so I’m happy now. I’m going to get it out so we can use it when guests come over.
  • Day 2: Feeling very tempted to go back and do kids clothes instead of dealing with the tupperware cupboard. Definitely questioning my life choices right now. For some reason I have seen fit to collect rectangular takeaway lids but not the actual containers.
    I am trying to find space to put all the stuff that goes on the countertop. I think I can put the bottles of oil and seasoning into ikea bins and put them in a low cupboard. I think. The problem I’m having is finding a good space to put my cookbooks.
    Decided to put cookbooks in the space next to the oven. Tried to free cycle/donate the random bento boxes and takeaway containers that I amassed, to no avail, going to leave them next to the recycle bin downstairs to see if anyone claims it.
  • Day 3: I’m going to go through the utensils today!!!! I WILL DO THIS!! Why do I have 15 wooden spoons?!
  • Day 4: I think I’m done with this! I did manage to clear the countertops so only my microwave, toaster one and thermomix are out, as well as the soap dispensers. I don’t have many kitchen gadgets or that many utensils so this was not painful for me. I didn’t do the ‘lay everything on the floor ‘ thing for kitchen. I had to just go cupboard by cupboard.
  • Day 5: I just realised that ‘reusable shopping bags’ is under this category. In which case, I am SO not done with this.   Dividing paper and plastic bags up into two categories: 1) Suitable as gift bags 2)Suitable as misc bags.
  • Day 6: Sorted through the reusable bags and coolers – kept my jute bag collection – going to give away all the NTUC ones. Also, sorted through the dishcloths – decided to get rid of the non-pretty ones. Thinking that I may upcycle my muslin cloths into dishcloths. And getting rid of the rice bins since I’ve actually started using old CNY cookie tubs for that.

Thoughts upon clearing the pantry: 

  • Day 1: Threw out expired meds. Threw out the spice rack which I never used and all the expired spices.
  • Day 2: Spent an hour reorganising the pantry. I have more space in there now that I have emptied the two shelves of bags! Realised afterwards that I still actually have another pantry shelf behind the fridge that I have mostly ignored because that is where [the Barn Owl] keeps the Sugar For The Coffee.
  • Day 3: Why do I have an UNOPENED tube of ‘Desitin’ that expired in 2013?! I don’t even use it so I don’t remember buying it. It’s still in it’s sealed box!

Thoughts upon clearing the household supplies:

  • Day 1: After going through all my stuff, I have realised that I have 8 empty spray bottles and 2 empty pump bottles and about 5 half empty bottles of various types of bathroom and all purpose cleaner. Going to hang onto the empty spray bottles for now until I make sure I don’t need them for diluting things. For some reason I thought it was a great idea to stuff things between the pipes under the sink. Bleagh!
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From Top Left: Put up pretty pictures and postcards on the inside of our wardrobe. The media mountain, organised into boxes. Found Great Grandmother’s shoes. The Barn Owl’s full collection of socks.

Thoughts upon clearing the tools:

  • Day 1: Argh I just realised that cables is in this category. OH NO. Avoidance – going to go through [Thumper’s] clothes instead.
  • Day 5: Okay it turns out that it’s pretty easy to throw away cables when they are from old Nokia phones that you don’t even own anymore.
  • Day 20: Once I chucked out the ones that were gross and melty, there weren’t that many left. So I’ve bundled the ones we don’t use daily inside a clear daiso box and added it to the Man Drawer.
  • Day 25: Had a bit of a narrow scare today! Thought I threw away the [Barn Owl’s] beard clipper charger. Turns out I left it near the area where he usually leaves it instead of with all the rest of the chargers and wires near his bedside, which is where he looked for it first. This is why placing small items by category instead of ‘by flow’ works better.
  • Day 30: Found my husband’s tool bag, which is basically a disintegrating Border’s plastic bag. Threw away all the dried up superglues and anything that looked like it was mouldering and repackaged the whole lot into a clean shoebox fitted with a plastic stationery divider that I found. At least he won’t impale himself on a screwdriver the next time he looks for another Allen key. I didn’t dare to throw away any of the multiple screwdrivers or wrenches, though. They are all in pretty good repair and seem to be of different sizes.

Thoughts upon clearing the bathroom:

  • Day 1: Threw away some mouldering soaps and a random collection of empty toothpaste tubes that the kids stashed under the sink. And all the empty pump bottles that the kids have been playing with. Realised that we have 3 half empty bottles of 1L Dove Soap?! I’ve decided to throw the current empty ones out since they will soon be replaced anyway. [The kids] don’t need 20 pump bottles.
  • Day 3: I probably should tackle my washcloths. I don’t know why I have 3 drawers of them!
  • Day 7: I didn’t realise linens were part of this. I guess I’ll sort through the bed linens too. I’m going to get rid of my pre-marriage bed linens. They never get used anyway and are looking sad.

Thoughts upon clearing furniture and decor:

  • Day 1: Hm. Procrastinating by going through the kids clothes again.
  • Day 2: I found some pictures and put them up and that helped
  • Day 14: Wish me luck as I start going through the storeroom. Found boxes of stuff belonging to my parents that I was only supposed to store temporarily!! The boxes are so old that the plastic tape appears to be disintegrating! Will have to unpack the boxes and cart back to my parents house slowly. Look what I just found. My great-grandmothers shoes. Her feet are so tiny!
  • Day 15: I just unearthed a brand new vacuum cleaner, still unopened in the box (given to us by a friend who was leaving town and never used it), and [the Barn Owl] has been complaining that we need to buy one. I’d forgotten that we even had one. Gonna use it! I broke a glass in the kitchen the other day and the clean up was PAINFUL.

P.S. Why am I doing this? Here’s why.

P.P.S. Check out the rest of the Queen of Konmari series here.

If you haven’t read the books already, you can get them here:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up

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Upcycling for Kids: Tie-dyed Muslin Squares

During the course of the Queen of Konmari challenge, I’ve realised that I have accumulated a sizeable stack of muslin squares which I am no longer using since Thumper has outgrown them.

These muslin swaddles were one of my best baby gear investments and they have lasted through three kids and have been washed multiple times and are still in fantastic condition. They are too old to be given away (I mean, who wants used muslin nappy cloths, really), so I decided to see if we could give them a new lease of life as multipurpose kitchen cloths or dishtowels!

I decided to see if we could dye the muslin cotton squares, to make them prettier to look at. I roped the kids in to help me, and I think the final product turned out rather nice!

How to Make Tie-Dyed Muslin Squares

Materials:

  1. Plain cotton muslin squares, washed
  2. Fabric dyes (I got mine from Spotlight)
  3. Rubber bands
  4. Plastic forks
  5. Water
  6. Optional: Plastic ziplock bag

Instructions:

  1. Wet the entire cloth in plain water and wring all of the water out so that the cloth is damp but not sopping wet. This will make the dye soak through evenly later on.
  2. Spread out the cloth flat and place the fork in the centre of the fabric (or any random part of the cloth, depending on where you want the centre of the swirl to be)
  3. Twist the fork round so that the cloth wraps itself around the fork tightly.
  4. Secure the swirled up cloth tightly with several rubber bands. I used four rubber bands to divide up the cloth into 8 equal triangle shaped sections
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  5. Using the fabric dye, fill up one of the triangle sections on one side, then flip the cloth over and fill up the same section on the other side.
  6. You can choose contrasting colours for the other sections, use the same colour or leave them white. Try not to colour two adjacent sections the same colour – leave some white gaps or the swirls will not be so obvious.
  7. (Optional step) Place each cloth in a separate ziplock bag
  8. Put the cloths aside and leave them to ‘set’ overnight. I let them set for 24 hours.
  9. Remove the rubber bands from the cloth and rinse each cloth separately in cold water a few times, squeezing out the excess dye until the water runs more or less clear (or until you get bored. Whichever happens first).
  10. Wash cloths as per washing instructions in your washing machine with an extra rinse, making sure to separate them from the rest of your laundry for the first wash, in case the colour runs!
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  11. Ta-dahhh! Enjoy your new and beautiful cotton multipurpose cloths!

P.S. This turned out to be such a simple and fun craft, that I suggested it to the Aged P who was throwing a baby shower for one of her friends! The Aged P got together with the mom-to-be and her friends to make these gorgeous and unique tie-dyed muslin swaddles for the new baby in a variety of patterns and colour ways. I think tie-dye teeshirts would make a fun kid’s party activity too.

Queen of Konmari Challenge: Stage 2 – Books

Well, I thought that sorting out the books would be a piece of cake, but it turns out I was so, so wrong. Putting my books through the Konmari wringer was very difficult for me, basically because it was just so labour-intensive!

I started off by walking around the house, just picking up every single stray book and putting them on the spare room bed. This took me about half an hour, and as you can see from the picture below, I hadn’t even emptied my book shelves before the bed was completely covered in books.

Once I started emptying my bookshelves, that’s when I started feeling nauseous and lightheaded. My thoughts were all over the place. How could I possible get rid of any of these precious books?! It was unthinkable! What am I doing? WHY am I doing this? THESE ARE BOOKS!! Also, why have I put random bits of paper and all sorts of rubbish around my books?

I was almost going to stop, but I decided to press on. I broke out into a cold sweat and started retching whilst trying to get all the books out of the cupboard and into stacks as quickly as possible. I also managed to gather together a bag of garbage, mostly half written notes, receipts or grocery lists, even junk mail that had somehow found their way into the pages of my books.

It took me a whole hour to get all my books together.

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On left: All the books from around the house. On Right: All the books.

After I emptied my bookshelves, I had so many books stacked on the floor and on the bed, that I had essentially blocked off my exit from the spare bedroom! Additionally, the books on the bed weren’t staying in neat stacks but had started to slide all over the place, and I risked knocking the whole lot onto the floor.

This is probably why Konmari advises one to lay everything out on the floor. It’s much easier to step around piles on the floor to get things that are out of arms’ reach, and if anything starts to tip over, at least it won’t fall too far! I shall keep this in mind once I reach the part where I have to handle breakables.

Fortunately, the spare room is connected to the children’s room by a balcony, so I had the kids let me in through their balcony (you can see how this could have gone VERY wrong, huh?).

I shut the spare room door and told the kids not to enter, then I went to get a drink of water and sit down for a few minutes to calm down. Then, I threw away the bag of rubbish that I accumulated. That was where I decided to stop for the day, because I knew I didn’t have the emotional strength in me to start sorting through the books as well.

The next morning, I was feeling slightly better, so I started out by going through the children’s books first. I slowly took out books that I never really liked, completed books that the kids would be unlikely to read again, or books that were repeats (surprisingly we had many of these). I kept all the books that I loved and that I loved to read to the kids, or books that I loved to see the children reading on their own.

Then, I went back and looked through the stack of children’s books that I didn’t like, and removed all of the ones that I knew that the children loved.

Then I sorted the ‘keepers’ into piles using my Volcano Method. This is when I pile stuff of the same category together until they form a chain of volcanos. Eventually, things start to flow down the sides to form new islands of interrelated topics. You can see in the picture below, the neat stacks of book volcanoes on the far left.

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Sorting the books using the Volcano Method

At the end of the second hour-long tidying session, I had a tall stack of children’s books that I (and the children – I let them eyeball the books first) had decided not to keep but could be donated or given away (you can see them in the pictures above), some random textbooks that could probably be given away, and a bunch of books that needed to be returned to my friends! I also kept finding random brochures and magazines which totalled TWELVE plastic bags! I threw all of those into the recycling bin.

I spent the third session just putting all the children’s books back into the cupboards. By this time, the cupboards had been well aired out, and I’d also replaced the dehumidifiers to keep the books from getting musty.

I organised the books by reading level, and I’d also tried to arrange them vaguely by height, putting the taller books to the right of the cupboard. I put books that I wanted the kids to read at their eye level – that is, picture books right at the bottom for 1 year old Thumper, early readers and easy chapter books for 5 year old Little E on the bottom and middle shelves, advanced books on the top shelf for 8 year old J.

The next two sessions were spent sorting through and organising our collection of novels and reference books. I took all the books that I wasn’t terribly interested in and showed them to the Barn Owl, and he decided which ones he still wanted to keep. I got rid of all our outdated textbooks and manuals. I listed all the novels that we didn’t want (and weren’t worth keeping for the kids) to be given away on a freecycling website – and someone picked them up at the end of the week.

I put all our books back into the cupboards, making sure that our favourite books were at eye-level, and putting darker coloured books or book series towards the left, lighter coloured books towards the right.

Here’s what our shelves looks like now:

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Tidy and organised!

I have to find some props to hold the books up so that they don’t fall over, but the best thing about all this is that I’ve now got some space for more lovely books! YAY!

I’m really glad that I kept the books that were the kid’s favourites, even if they weren’t my favourites. They were so happy to see their beloved books displayed neatly on the shelves, it was totally worth it.

P.S. Why am I doing this? Here’s why.

P.P.S. Check out the rest of the Queen of Konmari series here.

If you haven’t read the books already, you can get them here:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up

Upcycling for Kids (Using Teeshirts) Part 4: No-Sew Braided Rug

Perhaps you have got a few Teeshirts that are very worn out and not even worth giving away. You could rip them up and use them as cleaning rags, or you can try extending their usefulness by braiding them into a nifty rug, old-school style!

I actually tried making a similar rug earlier this year using old towels, but sewing the towel braid together hurt my fingers – and the rug didn’t hold together as well as I liked.

Using old teeshirts for this braided rug worked better for me, because the braid was easier to work with, and I could weave the rug together – no fussing about with needles and other pointy hurty things. This craft turned out to be straightforward enough for Little E to do it on her own! We ended up with a lovely, soft rug which made a great bathmat – and it’s washable too.

In this tutorial, I use a four strand braided technique (like a ‘fishtail’ braid), because I feel this gives a wider and flatter weave, but you can use a three stranded braid if you feel that a puffier rug works for you.

How to make an Old-School Braided Rug from Old Teeshirts

Materials:

  1. Old Teeshirts (I used about 3 large men’s tees to make a round floormatbut you can use more if you want a bigger rug)
  2. Scissors

Instructions:

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  1. Cut the tees into 1.5-2 inch strips widthwise so that you end up with a bunch of loops
  2. Stretch the loops as far as they will go until the fabric rolls in on itself
  3. Cut the loops open on one end so that you are left with long strings
  4. Choose 4 strings and knot them together. I decided to go with 2 strings of contrasting colours to get a nice chevron pattern.fishtail-braid-four-strand-rug-tee-shirt
  5. Cross the outer (green in the picture above) strings over each other, right string over the left to form an X.
  6. Take the next set of outer strings (dark blue in the picture above). Cross them over the centre of the braid, right over left, to form a second X.
  7. Take the following set of outer strings (green) and cross them in the centre again, right string over left, to form a third X. You are now back to your original position, having done three layers of braiding!
  8. After you have done about 4-5 inches of braid, roll the braid into a spiral, with the original knot in the spiral centre. Now you can weave the free braid together to form the rug.
  9. Take the string that is closest to the centre of the spiral and pass it through one of the loops of braid that it is nearest to it (see the picture below).
  10. Pull the string tight to secure the free section to the rest of the rug.
  11. Continue to braid, securing each section every 1.5-2 inches.braided-teeshirt-rug-upcycle-recycle
  12. When the lengths of string become too short to braid, you can add another string to it by knotting the ends together. To make a less bulky knot, snip a small hole about 0.5 inches from the end of both strings that you wish to join together.
  13. Pass the end of the old string through the hole in the new string.
  14. Then, push the other end of the new string through the hole in the old string
  15. Pull tight and it should form a small, tight knot!
  16. Continue braiding your rug until it reaches a size that you are happy with
  17. To finish off the rug, knot the ends of the free braid to one of the loops from the braid next to it, securing the end of the braid to the rest of the rug. You can then trim off any excess string or tuck the strings into the rest of the rug to make them neat.
  18. Enjoy your soft new floormat!

    braided-rug-teeshirt-upcycling-repurpose

    Left: Eleanor braiding using two sets of contrasting colours to form chevrons, Right: Another rug that we made using four different colours

Queen of Clean Konmari Challenge: The Book Reviews

Okay, so following the success of the Happy Family Plan, one of my cousins bought me Konmari’s books, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising“and “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up“, as gifts for Christmas.

Now, I actually put these books on my Christmas wish list because I had come across Marie Kondo‘s home organisation technique whilst completing the Happy Family Plan. I mean, if you google ‘decluttering’ or ‘tidying’, you will eventually come across her books sooner or later.

My idea of tidying was to put all the mess out of sight as quickly as possible, which is only a short term measure of keeping things neat and organised.  Soon, the cupboards and drawers were beginning to spill over all over the house again. In fact, when I was completing my Happy Family Plan, I realised halfway through that I was becoming fatigued and overwhelmed. This was because I was trying to do everything all at once and it wasn’t working for me.

For example, I really wanted to reorganise my cupboards, so I started out reorganising the Craft Cupboard, and soon this expanded to ‘reorganisation of the Games Cupboard’ which led to the ‘reorganisation of the Mementos Cupboard and Household Tools Cupboard’.  I ended up with a bunch of half-organised, half-full cupboards, and a bunch of half-organised, overflowing cupboards. At one point, I found myself spending a whole hour just emptying and repacking the same things into different cupboards like a crazy person.

Eventually, I decided to call a stop to the reorganisation of the cupboards and just move on with the rest of the Happy Family Plan.

I wanted to read Marie Kondo’s books because she claims to have a ‘ONCE AND FOR ALL TIME’ plan. You complete her method ONCE AND FOR ALL TIME and never return to your previous state of disorganisation and mess. And because I am an inherently lazy person, I like the idea of doing things only once.

So, I have read both of her books, and I have come to the conclusion that:

  1. Yes, they are very useful because they set down a very clear and logical framework that you can follow.
  2. Yes, if you really want to follow her plan, buy both books.
  3. The Konmari method works especially well if you are the sort of person who tends to procrastinate, if you are constantly looking for good storage solutions and if you feel guilt about your messy house but you are not a tidy person by nature.

And now, my thoughts on each book:

Thoughts on The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising

Okay, the biggest criticism that this book has is that it uses some flower child hippie descriptive language. I mean, there is literally a whole paragraph in the book dedicated to examining the inner feelings of socks and the horror and abuse that is balling your socks up in the drawer.

Well, the first thing to remember is that this book is written primarily for a Japanese audience, and that culturally, all objects in Japan are described as having a spiritual nature. So in order to reach the heart of her audience, Konmari very cleverly appeals to the Japanese innate appreciation of objects as well as for all things cute and cuddly, in order to achieve to change in psychological mindset.

If you strip away all of that, what you are left with is a very concise and logical method of managing the task of curating and organising personal possessions as well as household items. Marie Kondo explains the development process behind her method, and understanding the theory does help you focus on tackling the problem of household mess in a positive and manageable way. Additionally, I think that following her advice on how to store or display items (or fold clothes) will actually help you to prolong the lifespan of your treasured possessions. She also has some very useful advice on what to do with items that have outlived their usefulness, things that you are holding onto out of guilt or some other emotional reason, or that you are keeping in store for a rainy day.

Conclusion: This book is very useful if you do not like tidying, and you need some help getting started.

Thoughts on Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up

I think that this book is only helpful if you have already started to tidy your house via the Konmari method, or if you have read the first book and you have more questions.

This book is written as a companion to the first one. It already assumes that you have read Marie Kondo’s book, and so it proceeds to explain everything in much more detail. It covers her entire method in a very thorough and detailed manner – with pictures, descriptions and very practical, helpful tips to help you along if you start feeling discouraged.

However, if you don’t understand the theory behind the Konmari method or if you have an obsessive personality, this book will hinder more than it helps as the amount of information it contains will be too overwhelming.

Conclusion: This book is immensely helpful as a quick reference guide for people who are already committed to the Konmari method.

So, Meimei, now I have completed reviewing the Konmari books as per the Queen of Clean challenge. Haha!

Author Showcase: Chris Haughton – Children’s Book author and illustrator

Last year, we were very fortunate to have been able to attend a workshop at the Singapore Writer’s Festival led by one of our favourite authors, Chris Haughton.

J and Little E were ecstatic when I told them that we were going to meet the author of one of their favourite books A Bit Lost – a charming story of a sleepy little owl looking for it’s mummy with some help from a friendly but confused squirrel.

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At the Closetful of Books pop-up store, holding their precious copy of ‘A Bit Lost’

We got to the workshop early so I had some time to browse some of Chris Haughton’s other award-winning books at the pop-up bookstore run by Closetful of Books.

Oh No, George! is a funny story about a well-meaning but unfortunate dog who is always getting into scrapes. I love the colours in this one, and I think kids can really relate to George’s many difficulties.

Shh! We Have a Plan is about a group of unsuccessful hunters who keep running into all sorts of trouble whilst attempting to capture a brightly coloured bird. This one is particularly good for reading aloud, and the kids find it absolutely hilarious.

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J reading ‘Shh! We Have a Plan’ to Little E and Thumper

When Chris Haughton arrived, he was utterly captivating from the start, managing to hold both J and Little E’s attention for nearly a whole hour. He talked about the different ways in which he planned and created each book, and the inspiration behind some of his character designs. It was enlightening, listening to him talk about his creative process and watching him engage with the children.

Mr Haughton showed us some pictures that he drew when he was a very young boy. He told us how he loved drawing and would draw all the time, everywhere. This was something that resonated with J especially, who owns a small sketchbook that he takes around with him.

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Dancing, puppetry and general awesomeness

Towards the end of the workshop, Chris Haughton demonstrated how he would use a single picture to tell a complete story. He got children in the audience to shout out ideas for a ridiculous and unlikely method of capturing squirrels, finally settling on the most outlandish idea of all (which you can see in the picture below).

The kids and I stayed until the very end of the workshop, and Mr Haughton was kind enough to autograph our books. He even gave J the picture that he drew during the session! J was so thrilled.

chris-haughton-sketch-author-illustrator-app

Drawing with Chris Haughton

Chris Haughton, is first and foremost, an artist. It just so happens that his work as an artist includes creating children’s books using different mediums.

One of his other works is an app for children called ‘Hat Monkey‘. The app is an interactive story about a little Monkey who needs a lot of help, and kids can feed, sing, dance with and even talk to the little Monkey. Isn’t that cool?

Chris Haughton’s awesomeness doesn’t end there, by the way.

Before Mr Haughton started publishing children’s books, he worked as a volunteer designer for fair-trade organisations for over 10 years. After he published his first book, he went to Nepal and India to work with various fair-trade projects who now produce handmade toys and other products related to his books. These are sold on his personal website (where you can also get signed art prints), and all the profits from each sale goes right back into making more fair-trade projects.

Mr Haughton also set up aother fair-trade project called NODE, which works with a Nepalese non-profit technical school for disadvantaged adults. The employees are all given an education and apart from receiving fair wages, they also support a school and orphanage. The school now produces gorgeous hand woven rugs designed by Mr Haughton (and many other designers who collaborate with NODE to produce custom-made rugs).

I felt really privileged to have had the opportunity to meet with such a lovely person, who is using his skills for good and for awesome!

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Chris Haughton and the Owls Well fan club

Find Chris Haughton’s books here.

Download Hat Monkey here.

Support Chris Haughton’s Fair Trade projects here.

Find out more about NODE handwoven rugs here.

How NOT to Decorate Your Bedroom

Sorry Debs, I didn’t end up going to see Quidam this weekend, as the Boobook and I already had other plans.

We ended up at Pillow Talk, instead, buying sheets for the new Queen bed that we have.  Pillow Talk is by the way an absolutely fantastic place to buy new bedding.  Their clearance aisle is always good for a bargain.  I don’t mind buying shop-soiled and old bedding as the “soiling” is never biological and usually washes out easily.

Also, they have everything, from ugly ornaments and useless bric-a-brac, to duvets and towels, to beautiful bedspreads.

A Becky Lee:  Boobook!  Look at this!  It’s 500 thread count and it’s going for $20.  It’s soooo cheap!

The Boobook: Yes, but it’s also a Playboy bedspread.

A Becky Lee: But it’s cheap and it’ll feel fantastic.

The Boobook:  It’s also a hideous shade of neon Fuchsia.

A Becky Lee: But we sleep with our eyes closed.  We won’t actually have to look at it.

The Boobook:  We are also not a teenage boy.

A Becky Lee:  Point

He didn’t let me buy the bedspread.