blustery benefits

In the making

The severe storms we've experienced this week have left some pretty detritus in it's wake. On my walks I've been pocketing these bits and pieces that are littering the ground. I love them. On one of our windiest, rainiest days this week I got so carried away hunting for these pieces that I walked further than intended and returned home soaked all the way down to my toes, even with wellies on. It was worth it though; when I emptied my pockets and saw my treasure, along with the odd slug too, I was giddy. I put it all on a dish, sat the lichen and myself next to the Rayburn and warmed up. 
This little wreath was easy to make and only a little fiddly, this is how I made it:
  • Gather lichen, preferably after a storm and not during one :) Find it on the ground, it flies off trees easily in windy weather, don't pull it off of branches. Lichen love big old trees like oaks. Our local apple orchard was a good hunting ground too, specifically under the oldest, biggest apple trees.
  • Use wire to thread through the slightly thicker parts of the lichen near where it previously was attached to the tree and just keep threading, like stringing popcorn. Pack the lichen together on the wire firmly but gently. (I'm not sure what gage this wire is, it's thin yet strong enough to poke like a needle through the lichen).
  • When you have enough threaded to make a sturdy circle (my wreath is about 13 inches in diametre) twist the ends but don't cut the wire at the twist, cut a long length about four inches longer than the circumference of the circle.
  • On the under side of the wreath loosely string another circle of wire. No need to thread it through every piece, just in four of five places, this will help the wreath hold it's shape and be sturdier.
  • Twist a small loop in the wire for hanging and trim any excess wire. If you have any slightly bald patches, just glue some loose piece of lichen in here and there.

I added a simple gold ribbon but I think I'd prefer a simple silver one. I might try adding some hawthorne berries like in this picture and when I saw some mother of pearl buttons on my desk I couldn't help thinking how lovely they would be dotted around it instead of berries. 
I'm not sure how long this wreath will hold it's colour, if it were to hang outside I'd have made the wreath with fresh lichen instead of dried. I might have to make one for our tiny garden shed. There are loads of lichen filled trees on a hill where I'll be tomorrow (if the floods allow us to travel), I'd better take big pockets. 
My wreath has four or five different types of lichen, if you want to identify the lichen you find there's a great site I've found and a whole society dedicated to the stuff right here, how cool is that?!
It's been an exciting week of weather around here, if you follow me on Instagram you'll have seen some of the craziness. If you're in the UK, no doubt you've seen it in the news.
Hope you're having a smashing weekend.
PS, Grrrrr to Typepad, it won't let me make paragraph breaks. Also, the colour in the second photo isn't as accurate as in the first photo, if your a lichen lover you probably already guessed that ;)

Tiny toe shoe maker

Tiny toe shoes
Tiny feet

There's a new one for the old résumé. I'm now a skilled tiny toe shoe maker. These shoes were made with embroidery floss and they finished off my spool and doily dancer.

This little dancer is honored to be appearing in Issue Five of CraftSanity Magazine, another crafty venture from Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood. I've been a long-time fan of Jennifer's podcasts, I'm sure I've mentioned before, listening to her fun interviews on my iPod has helped get me through many boring cleaning jobs like grout scrubbing – thank you Jennifer :)

Dancer ornament
Spool & doily dancer

And CraftSanity Magazine is just as fantastic as the podcast. I purchased Issue Four and there are several projects I must find the time for in it, like this huge doily blanket by Lisa Gutierrez of GOODKNITS. I'm eager to start pouring through the pages of Issue Five. I really love this magazine, it's heavy on knitting and crochet pattern content but there's also plenty in there for those that are yarn challenged, including recipes, interviews and other crafts. 

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Yesterday I got out my trusty lino cutter and whipped up a little Christmas card. I'm a bit rusty with the lino cutter and nearly binned my efforts until the children got home and gave me a "you're so brilliant mummy" pep-talk. And honestly, the older they get, the fewer of those pep-talks I get so I listen to them. As T and G believe the cards are more than post worthy, I shall send them – better be quick though because we all know how not-quick Royal Mail is when going overseas.

Print making

The temps are feeling very wintery here all of a sudden (2 °C this morning), in fact I have doggie on my lap right now to keep warm, she's way better than a hot water bottle and less effort too. We're off to the school Christmas concert tonight, Tris will play lead guitar and Gracie is in choir... a busy last week of school before their holiday.

Happy Tuesday to you,


I'll get there

Play day
Woodland peg fairy

There were so many things on my to-do list to be finished by the end of this week but as we all know stuff sometimes gets in the way. No need to bore you with a list of stuff.

Sometimes it's best to throw my hands up and sit down to a pile of scraps with daughter and her friend. Making hats with beech tree seed pods, dresses of muslin and painted on faces made us smile. It's been too long since we pulled out our box of peg people parts, we'll have to visit that box more often.

Christmas pattern preview
New pattern sometime soon

One of those to-do list items was this new pattern. Clearly not finished as I thought it might be, but playtime with little G sometimes must shoot to the top of the list, I'm sure you'd all agree :)

Thinking of friends whose families are struggling with illnesses right now, you know who you are and that I send my love.

Also, I forgot to say thanks for sharing your favourite childhood book memories, it was really fun to read them.

Happy weekend,


Found things and painted leaves

Painting leaves

Today we're back to autumn temperatures and it felt right to bring back these very liquid colour leaves from my walk this morning. Autumn leaves are perfect for watercolours.

In the garden today

Finding pretty things on my walk is fun.

 Daughter's pockets

Finding the contents of my daughter's pockets in the washing machine, more funny than fun.

Braided necklace-bracelet

And wearing a pretty AdjustaBraid necklace as a bracelet, very fun. They're available here in this pretty online shop :)

The sun has gone away today so photos are going a little dark and grey :(

Thank you very much for the birthday wishes. I started out celebrating by sharing hot chocolate in bed with my two babes and the rest of my day was just as special.

Happy Tuesday!


PS, New holiday stitching pattern coming later this week.


Finding things

Sample of finds
Quirky & wonderful too

Today was a very good day. It felt like summer again and when I walked puppy this morning early there was no need for even a sweater. As hubby offered to do the school run, I decided to take advantage of my unscheduled and unexpected extra hour. I headed straight for the coast and went to a big boot fair I recently learned about, it's every Wednesday, very unusual day for boot fairs here in the UK. I'd read good things about it and I wasn't disappointed.

I knew my bargain karma was with me when I got a parking spot directly across from the entrance, a perfect location for loading booty. It was great, the old type of boot fair, no antique dealers and market stalls, just lots of other peoples cast offs and old stuff to root around.

Early edition of UK Monopoly

Tristan has recently become crazy into Monopoly. I found this very early UK version for a pound. It was missing the actual board, but all the game pieces and wooden hotels and houses and old style printing was too fun to pass up. There are a few items in the top photo from the game. The £500 note, a wooden house and hotel, a real estate card and of course, the boot.

Type drawers, the objects on top change regularly

I also found a big button tin and a vintage sewing basket full of goodies, always exciting finds. The other objects in the top photo were contents of those two purchases (except the pen and nibs). I probably won't keep the basket because I have too many of them and no remaining space. If postage isn't a killer I'd happily send it to an interested blog reader, though I think far away places might be cost prohibitive.

The tiny photo is a 1940's image of a woman. I'm imagining the wrinkles in it were made by being tucked into a pocket of a WWII serviceman; it was in the sewing basket. There were also two sets of type drawers like the two in the photo above but they had no handles. Although I love mine, I still haven't taken the time to refinish them and of course space is an issue so I left them behind. They couldn't have been a better bargain than the two in this photo though, remember?

Dawn shadows
Dawn shadows

There were a few finds to add to the messy, right side of my fabric cupboard. It's the side where I keep most of my vintage fabrics, linens, and clothes for repurposing; they've been put into a lot of projects lately. I promise the other side is tidy ;)

Next time I will try and photograph the scene at the boot fair. I'd planned to this morning but I was overwhelmed by that, WOW! where do I start feeling. The best part of the morning was going home, knowing I spent so little and anticipating unpacking all my goodies, reliving the excitement of the hunt.

I hope you had a really, very good day too. 



So many happy things

Sweet Sonia passed on the Happy 101 Blogger Award to me. I've been working obsene hours on a big project but what could be more important than taking time to think about all these happy things?! Nothing :)

The rules of the award are: list 10 things that make you happy and then pass along the award to 10 wonderful bloggers. I can easily overflow pages with what makes me happy and lots of happy bloggers, but here are lists of just 10: Not in order of significance, if they were, T & G would take up all 10 spots!

Vintage buttons

1. I can't tell you the joy I feel when I come across a collection of vintage beauties and even better, a tin packed to the brim that someone's grannie no longer has a use for. Then I have the happy further joy of using them and giving them a new life outside of the old musty tin.

2. A perfectly brewed cup of tea in the morning and again in the afternoon. 

3. The tinge of pink on the horizon before the sun comes up.

4. Walking along the seashore collecting treasure. When I was younger we spent most of the summer by the beach. I used to get up early, grab a bucket and head out to a rocky cove before the tide came up - bliss.

5. Hearing uncontrollable giggles coming from children when they are having fun.

6. Making things with Tristan and Gracie. Anything - cookies, drawings, songs, treasure hunts...


7. Old books. I could do spend hours in old book shops. Even though the must and mold in these places give me a runny nose. I think this love began very early. It's not only the books I like but the history they've had - where were they from and who owned them. My great grandfather, though I never met him, had a huge collection that I used to love to go through. My favourite thing was finding old notes tucked inside. He was a physician, and people often paid him with books, I love the thought of that.

This "101 Things..." book was found at a used book shop, I loved it before I even opened it. I recently saw that it's just been republished. It was gifted to "Janet" in 1940, so Janet probably already knew way more than 101 things to do in war time after already living through the first big war. Sadly, she couldn't have known then that the second one would go on so long.


8. Completing a time consuming project; happy, happy, happy.

9. Popcorn popping in a pan.

10. Seeing the first shoots from spring bulbs coming up.

If time allowed, I'd break the rules and keep on listing... but instead here are the people I pass the award on to. I share the love of people on Sonia's list too, but these are 10 more. 

Mathyld, Encore Petite

11. Reading the words and seeing the images by all of those above makes me happy too. There, I've done it, I've broken the rules.


P.S. back very, very soon with news.

Some jewels of the sea


Inspired by the beautiful assemblages at Resurrection Fern, I decided to create one of my own before packing these little beauties up for a long trip to Canada. Margie will then work her magic on them.

This assortment was chosen for their smoothness and lovely shapes. The one with the hole was added simply because I can never pass up stones with holes and thought Margie might like one too.

The circular one in the centre was included because it's flint and litters the landscape where we live. It's strength and availability has made it an ideal building material here in Kent since Norman times. The stone in the lower left corner is a hard chalk which is what gives the Cliffs of Dover their whiteness. The stony beach where I collected these is just south of Dover.


Many beaches along the channel that separates us from France are stony like this and I find myself looking down on most of my walks along them. There's just too much to discover in their shapes. Not surprisingly my children have inherited my habit of pocketing them along the way, unfortunately it's my pockets they usually drop them into. Perhaps a couple of bags to hold their treasure are in order... I'll put them on my list.

One man's junk, my treasure


My latest treasure which will hold lots of my other "found" treasure.

These weren't inexpensive, they were free. They're very well made drawers that held metal letterpress type. These two cabinets are a fantastic size too, 51cm long. More spacious than my watchmaker's cabinet that holds part of my button collection (and was not a bargain.)

I went to the local tip (known as the "dump" in America.) Our tips are also recycling centres. We don't have recycling collection where we live because we're out in the sticks a bit, so I make this journey to the tip every week or so. This week I grudgingly made the trip because we've had relentless rain and drizzle for weeks, but when I arrived I noticed a man emptying the contents of these drawers into the metal recycling. I made a beeline for him, inquired and found he had an old Adana Letterpress and was dumping it and everything that went with it.


I told him it was all valuable, even though new technology has taken over, there are loads of artists who use and value these old things. Sell it all on Ebay I said, "I can't be bothered" was his response. A small part of me understands, he was older, most English homes are very tight on storage space, and he said " wife will kill me if I bring it back home again." But the waste of it made my heart sink.

I was able to salvage all 5 sets of drawers, but after putting them in my car, I had no room for the press and my children who I was about to pick up from school - I had to choose my children.

I wish I didn't have to make an instant decision, but I'd already kept the man standing in the rain for a long time and he was eager to go. If he'd brought the press home I'd have gladly picked it up from him later. I only hope the tip attendants who were hearing our conversation jumped in the bin and saved the press - I nearly cried to see it go and keep thinking about it like you would a lost puppy.


There are some amazing book artists who are making beautiful, small run books on old letterpresses. Look at the work of Ellen Knudson, and hear about her process in an interview with Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood recorded for Craftsanity.

These new finds will give me the incentive I need to organize my stock and stash - again!

Click here for free PDFs and details on entering the blogiversary contest.

Something blue and a dolly too


I had a quick trip to a local, year round boot fair this morning and came home with this treasure. It's a very old porcelain necklace which is broken to bits and I love every last scrap of it. Blue and the gold I adore. I'll probably use the parts that still have the gold backing to turn into new necklaces and the spare flowers to decorate other things. The little camel was under the flowers and I really like him too :)

In reality I'll most likely just put it on a shelf and take a peek in the box every once in a while too afraid to use the pieces for fear I'll mess them up or break them. Eventually I'll get over my fear and make something, then be too afraid to wear it for fear of dropping it or Gracie "borrowing it" (the child's never met a necklace she hasn't broken, thinks they all stretch.)

I'd love to know more about the necklace, like when and where it was made, who wore it - did she love it as much as me? My hunch is yes - and I bet it's first purchaser paid more than the £3 that I paid for it.


This is a little doll Gracie and I made together while the boys were out shopping for Tristan's first electric guitar. Yes I know he's only 9, but he's a real little rocker - some day I'll post a video of him playing (if he'll let me.)

I recently saw the tutorial for this dolly by Emily Martin of The Black Apple on Martha Stewart. It was such an easy pattern for a cloth doll I thought Gracie could make most of it (thank you Emily for sharing your template with the world!) We used my favourite antique linen for the face and arms, an old bit of vintage Marks and Spencer curtain fabric for the body and Amy Butler spots for the legs.

Gracie loved it yet quickly turned her attention to accessorizing this goofy little blue bear I made ages ago. It was destined for the charity shop when my hubby said it looked like a blue ET (I agree,) but Gracie loved it.


She fashioned a tiara, choker, sleeping bag (out of a trouser leg from my re-purposed clothing pile,) a pillow and made her first little skirt. She was so busy and just kept saddling up to the sewing machine to work on her creations - might have to look out for a spare machine at boot fairs!

The new dolly is next in the line up for accessorizing, Emily gives some tips on the tutorial but I'm sure Gracie will have a few ideas of her own :) 

Button monograms & vintage linens


My 50th post! I promised I'd show more monogram projects way back in my 6th post when I put up this tutorial. I'm a little slow on the follow-through, but here's one I made a while back - a gift for Dianne. I used a vintage piece of embroidered linen which lent itself nicely to a large "D" right in the middle of it.

A full-on tutorial isn't necessary - this is more a of a tip on using buttons for design, not just function:

  • Cut out the pieces for a cushion cover in any fabric (I like vintage embroidered linen bits for monograms.)
  • Lay the front piece of the cushion fabric out flat with the right side facing up. Position your buttons in a letter shape. When you're pleased with the design pick up each button, one-by-one, put a tiny bit of fabric glue or white craft glue behind it and put it back in position gluing it to the fabric. NOTE: Too much glue may clog the holes and make sewing them difficult.
  • Let the buttons dry then sew them on. The glue lets you position them nicely for sewing without losing your design. This works well for buttons in shapes too - like hearts.

Mother of pearl shirt buttons like these are easy to come by. I usually find them in the big tins of buttons I pick up at boot fairs.

Tphotoalbum_2I doubt anyone could possibly need a cushion making tutorial, so I haven't made one. If anyone does need one, I found this - a great source for cushion making and other home sewing projects.

Oh and another - already? This is Tristan's photo/baby album. I made a very simple "T", same method as above, and covered the album with the fabric I sewed it to. Gracie's still waiting for hers, she's 6.

This is my first autumn with a blog, sure is hard to get the photos done before the sun goes down. I may have to resort to flash soon - ugh!