Friday, 18 June 2010

Girl, interrupted

Mr Coffee came home the other day and told me about a friend who works in his building who sewed herself a coat in two evenings.

This led us to a workflow analysis of the Coffee House which concluded that in comparison, people without children could expect to utilise five additional hours in the period described as 'evening'.

And now to the long-winded back-story of why I told you about the woman with the coat. Sorry about this. Did you have somewhere you needed to be?

This week my long-awaited reserved library book arrived.

I have been reading Gretchen Rubin's blog since Susan of Friday Playdate recommended it. Her post coincided with my noticing a general lowness of spirits on some of the blogs I read. Including mine. I could use a Happiness Project of my own.

Chapter 1 starts with getting sleep. And to get sleep, it needs to be dark. D'oh! I've woken at 4am morning after morning as brightness floods through the attic skylight. I needed a book to tell me that the light would wake me up?

I looked on the Velux website and wrote down the eye-watering prices of a small blackout blind, a reachy-pole thing, and a special attachment to the reachy-pole thing with which to close the blackout blind. And then I remembered we needed to pay the mortgage, so I abandoned the idea until I woke up the next morning at 4am and remembered a scene from Frasier where Kelsey Grammar sits up in bed and removes his sleep mask.

Sleep masks were 69p each at Home Bargains. Mr Coffee and I slept like logs. But when we woke, black dye from the cheap sleep masks had come off all over the pillows. Bleaching pillowcases is not mentioned in the book as a route to happiness.

A bit of internetting suggested that making a couple of sleep masks was something even I could do, so at 3.30pm after picking up the Lattes from school I hacked the 69p job up and made a pattern out of it. I got out a bag of bits of fabric and stood in the downstairs toilet with pieces of cloth over my face, turning the light on and off to see if I could see. 

I then spent a while going down the stairs to the basement where the sewing things are kept, and fetching things up onto the kitchen table because there was no room in the basement to work because of other people's stuff.

Then I went outside and blew some more air into the inflatable castle on the lawn. And I cut up some melon and put it in plastic bowls and took it into the garden. And I took a tour around the house looking for scissors, all hidden away in Safe Places in the previous weeks after we started finding locks of Littlest's hair on the stairs.

(I chose a manly navy blue fabric for Mr Coffee's sleep mask, because it is important not to emasculate your man by making him sleep with flowers all over his face.)

At that point a small naked doll turned up - attracted by the piles of fabric and the temptingly sharp shiny things. After pulling lots of things out of the bag she insisted that a dress be created for her from a piece of red corduroy, and work on the mask had to be suspended. At the cutting out stage however she heard the television go on in another room and lost interest.

By then we needed to tidy everything away in order to eat.

After dinner - and some disagreements about what would happen after dinner, and after finding everyone's pyjamas and reading stories and taking in the washing from the line and sorting it all into piles so that people had enough socks - it was time to complete the mask.

The Grandmother came around for a glass of wine and watched my progress with that terrible, frustrated face that older people put on when they can see younger people doing something badly but don't want to annoy them by taking over.

At one point I sewed a seam too far from the edge which made the mask too small. I sat down to unpick the demon seam when a voice was heard from upstairs calling for a glass of water. 

When I returned The Grandmother had helpfully unpicked the demon seam for me, as well as unpicking a seam that I actually wanted to keep. 

I resewed the seam. 

Then all the smoke alarms in the house went off and the children woke up and we wandered up and down the house trying to work out why.

At 11pm the first sleep mask was finally finished. And so ends the tale of why I won't be making myself a coat.

But if anyone wants to join me in getting happy I'd be very glad of the company.


  1. Sleep is good. I sleep best with sunlight in the room, the boyf sleeps best in pitch dark. I helped resolve this discrepancy by sewing him a sleep mask.

    It does have flowers on it, but in a William Morris print, so therefore okay as William Morris is a Design Classic and therefore not emasculating at all. Honest.

  2. I need darkness too, we have blackout blinds, we needed them! I made a mask once and left it as the hospital last time, must make anther. I think I need a little happiness too

  3. Earplugs are my saviour. It's not the light that bothers me, it's little noises (other people's breathing, ticking clocks, traffic noise etc) that keep me from deep slumber - oh, and a 2 year old daughter who likes to sleep on my head!!!!


  4. I'd like to join you.

    The two year old gets up at half past five. The four year old follows soon after. I defy anyone to be happy at that time when your body screams at you to have another hour and a half's sleep. I think she may resist a face mask. I've tried blocking out the light but the thrush who lives in the garden yells TWEET TWEET TWEET outside her window at 5am. Serves me right for trying to make a wildlife garden.

    A mug of tea helps with the happy at that hour though. It helps a lot.

  5. Well your post made me happy so that's a good start. Yes I am awake too at 4 am with the sun shouting through the big bay windows. The best night's sleep I ever had was behind heavy shutters in a hotel in France many years ago pre children. You forget what a difference it makes to your day to have had a proper night's sleep. I'll try the eye mask. Mr U or B brings dozens of them back from business trips but I'm afraid it will swivel round and strangle me because I'm so fidgetty.

  6. Ah yes, sleep. It's a good thing. I can sleep in broad daylight if need be, but sadly, my sinuses won't let me. I plan on being very happy in the Autumn (once all the pollen has gone).

  7. Girl, you are so funny!

    Yes, I sympathize on the lack of sleep, the interruptions of little people and the foibles of more "experienced" family members.

    And no, I won't be sewing myself a coat anytime soon although I am working on some heavy curtains to assist in the quest for a good night's sleep.

    A little extra happiness is always welcome too.


  8. You hit the nail on the head! Nail? What nail? If only we had a life without other obligations, but what fun would that be? So, anyway, I absolutely loved your post and out of curiosity am going to look for the book at my library.

  9. Great project! I've been following her blog for a bit and really like her ideas.

    I used to get ill every June until we made blackout shades for our bedroom. It really makes a world of difference!

  10. What a fab post! I'm with Jill - earplugs are my thing. I literally cannot get to sleep without them, though possibly a pillow to stifle Mr DC's snores might work ... I digress. I'm waking regularly at 5.15 recently - and this morning I was so sick of trying to go back to sleep that I got up and went off on my bike for five minutes. Yes, I can hear you groaning from here.

    I read a bit of the Happiness blog and thought it made a lot of sense. But then I've also found that Club Penguin is consistently giving me some quiet time too, though I won't be winning any parenting points there. Again.

    And reading back over this it seems I've now lost my ability to write coherently. That's what early mornings will do for you.

  11. Life is complicated. Beyond that I have no helpful advice.

  12. Are you telling me they don't have Rolladens in England? Oh, hell. We may have to rethink moving there next summer.

    I needs mah sleep.

    PS-Brilliant post. Lovely sleep masks.

  13. Okay, sign me up. Maybe I'll be better at this than I was at modeling in the Changing Room.

    (This blog post was delightful in every possible way.)

    (But I still think you are an Impostor in the I Am Hopelessly Un-Crafty Club.)

  14. Is it wrong to laugh, because I am. Laughing my head off.

    Did the dye seep into you eyes as well and make you look like a deranged panda? My son would no doubt consider that "well cool".

    I would then disown him.

  15. I'm pretty sure even if I didn't have interrupting children I still couldn't make a coat in 2 days. Maybe that work colleague is a bit of a show-off? Although otherwise charming in every way, obvs.

    Last night I found out you shouldn't stay up till the wee smalls trying to finish off a skirt if you have an early morning chiropractic appointment the next day, because then the bags under your eyes get dreadful creases in them from lying face down on the table.

  16. Brilliant.

    Can't wait for chapter 2

  17. I hope you slept well!
    last night I was kept awake by things blowing round the garden in a storm.......... but I couldnt manage to drag myself out of bed to close the window so I guess my sleep deprivation is mostly my fault......

  18. I did make two sleep masks last year following the Amy Butler pattern--to match the Lounge Pants, surprise, surprise! But then I found I couldn't sleep with something on my face. Bah!

    K x

  19. You have made my grumpy Saturday a lot less frowny and cross. Thank you so much for a very funny post.

    However, the pics of the black sleepmasks are a little bit disturbing and now I may not get a good nights sleep tonight having nightmares about them...
    Please make the next one pink and fluffy. Ax

  20. Yes there is a lot to do when your children are little and demanding but when it passes you can be sad about having a bit too much time on your hands. Strangely I think I did more then than now.

  21. May I just say: we have a Velux roof window (read: fancy skylight which opens) over our bed and have rigged a hardware store shade on it with no special tools/accessories...which is not to say that your sleep mask is not a work of, um, art.

  22. Oh I would like those five hours back please.

    The little one has a blackout blind so he at least sleeps til 6.30.

    Take comfort - it's the longest day today so we're once again sliding into darkness, so you might get a second sleepmask finished just in time for Winter solstice. Next summer will be a breeze.

  23. Truer words, Coffee Lady, truer words... This was hilarious and the Grandmother part had giggling here at work. Shhh!

    Also pressed for time, I think I should skip the sewing and buy the hubs a non-emasculating mask because I like to wake up to light and he does not. We have curtain wars. This could save our marriage.

    I'm also looking into the Happiness Project. Thanks!

  24. Great blog!


  25. Oh how this post resonates! I have so many projects on the go that just don't get finished due to the endless interuptions. And if i do by some miracle get an hour or so of me time when any one of the projects could get finished, i procastinate about which one and then do none. Bugger.

  26. But did your new and improved sleep masks do the trick? I hope that you are getting more sleep and happiness levels are rising.

  27. exactly. thank you for explaining why there are unfinished projects all over the house, and not a coat (or sweater, or bassinet cover, or handmade birthday gifts) in sight.

    i found your blog from kat/slugs and i like it very much.

    congratulations on getting the masks finished at all!

  28. However, the pics of the black sleepmasks are a little bit disturbing and now I may not get a good nights sleep tonight having nightmares about them..


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