come sail away, a new project and giveaway

Cork sailors - pirates

The latest Action Pack by Whip-Up is out and this special Water Edition is brilliant, not that they aren't all brilliant. It is full of fantastic water-related projects and activities. As usual, this e-mag is great for a varied age range and I know we will be diving into it time and again.

This edition features a recycled boat making project by me*, and also a Cork Sailors and Pirates tutorial that shows how to make little cork people to ride along in the boats. The Cork Sailors and Pirates project is a special free excerpt from this latest e-mag and publisher, Kathreen is offering it up here.


There are so many wonderful contributors and projects jammed between these virtual pages, it's a pleasure to be part of it once again.

As a special treat to regular readers I'm able to offer two free issues as a giveaway courtesy of Kathreen. And as I'm not blogging as much as I once did due to time constraints followers of this space have dwindled so you have a VERY good chance of winning one of these two free editions.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post by next Thursday, March 7, 2013. The winners will receive this e-mag, all 44 excellent, ad-free pages of it! The e-mag will be delivered in PDF form. I will announce the winners on the evening of March 7, 2013 GMT time.

I have several new makes, a sewing pattern review and an artist review all waiting to be posted here but I just had to share this fun Action Pack first and of course, the giveaway. I highly recommend subscribing to Action Pack if you have children still at home, it's well worth every penny! Don't take my word for it, read what other parents say about it here.

Happy Thursday!


*The boat project first appeared in the Green Parent magazine in the June/July 2010.

roll on spring

Our half-term break has drawn to an end. We enjoyed a quick trip by train to see Nanny and Grandad, baked double batches of chocolate chip cookies, ate double batches of chocolate chip cookies and took in a good dose of sunshine.
Today was the first full day of no commitments in a very long time which meant I could enjoy an extra long walk. And the warmth of the sun and slightly longer daylight allowed for several hours of overdue gardening, lucky me I had a helper. Tris was bashing out a new song while we got busy and his new song kept us going.
This week will be another busy one but I'm committing to finish a few spring-themed fun things that have been swimming round my head.

Hope your week ahead is a grand one too.


roll on spring

roll on spring

roll on spring

trees and skies


Sun tree




It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.  Robert Louis Stevenson

My daily walks have been shorter lately so I'm missing the trees. We've had more amazing skies too and as we often have rain the amazing skies are pretty in puddles too. I recently posted these same images on Instagram in black and white by using Snapseed filters. 

There are so many things I've missed sharing here lately but for lack of time I'd just like to pass on some important and also fun links instead.

Lisa's stone project is still open to join in. She's accepting stones from all corners of the earth that she'll decorate in her own wonderful way. Sonia has a pouch giveaway going on, check it out. Also, I've been a huge fan of Lisa Stevens porcelain bowls and pendants since I first joined Flickr. She now has a Facebook page as well as two Etsy shops. I'll share more of her work soon, but treat yourself to a look through her Seaurchin Flickr photostream. And the Gretel Parker project is still looking for people to spread the word. Give it a read and check out her blog too, her story is one I know well. Help if you can.

We welcomed two new babies to the family in the last couple of weeks. Congratulations to my lovely cousins Joe and wife Bridget on the birth of little Olive and to cousin Kate and Graham on the birth of sweet Josephine. We can't wait to meet them.

The children are off this week for half-term break so it's a crazy mixed up schedule. I'm thinking I might try and squeeze in some finishing this week. There are lots of things I want to start but finishing a few old ones I'm thinking might bring just as much satisfaction as starting something new.

What are you making now?

Happy Tuesday,







above me

Gracie and Katie enjoying a snow day

in the village

Stuggling primulas
primulas staying bright

School view
view from school

me enjoying a snow day

After our share of rain and floods last year I'm enjoying what 2013 has brought us. The children had more snow days this week and we all have loved it. The amount of that's fallen has meant me working from home all week and I've really enjoyed the quiet snow brings. Few vehicles on the roads, the birds hiding away and children out for hours sliding down hills. Yesterday I thought the melt was here and the inevitable slush too but no, half way through my walk this morning the snow began to come down again.

Abby wrote an interesting post about author's photos on blogs and arounna had a great post about the real value of handmade. Though I don't blog for a living and make and sell very little, I found both posts thought provoking, you might too. See, I'm already following Abby's advice, Gracie snapped photos and video of me tobogganing (see above), the video is a little... loud.

Happy weekend.



long weekends

Having Friday off school due to snow has led to a fun extended weekend for us. Friday was a fantastic yet exhausting day of tobogganing culminating in an impromptu sleep-over with five teenage boys, equally as exhausting - for me. They made a pancake feast Saturday morning and sort of even tidied up afterwards, in a teenage boy kind of way.

Riding for G on Saturday turned into mostly more tobogganing on the fantastic Quantock hills. Now some of the snow has melted but it's still so pretty. More is forecast for tomorrow so the children are crossing every finger and toe for an even longer weekend.

Today mummy has refused to go anywhere. After doing the usual morning chores and returning the most necessary emails I've snuck back to bed with my coffee and stitching. I've been into faces lately, not sure why the faces haven't become complete dollies but I'm sure they will eventually.

Though I've been working a lot lately, this week I'll enjoy squeezing in a project for Whip Up, Action Pack; they have a "water" issue coming up and I know it will be another great one.

I hope your weekend has been fun filled too.


PS, I'm trying out the Typepad app for iPhone, I can't see a way to make links in it and this post might end up looking odd too!

long weekends

long weekends

long weekends

long weekends

still here

Banksy was here (Bristol Museum)

For those of you who have emailed concern about where I've been, no worries, I'm still here. I've needed to take on regular work and therefore am left with even less time for the little things I love to squeeze in here and there like making and blogging. In addition to a part-time job more workshop teaching has been coming my way and the organising of those takes time. But workshops are so fun to do, I love meeting fellow makers.

Some of the locals (Bristol Museum)

Though life is decidedly hectic, we're doing well around here. As always, I find myself trying to give my kids as much time as possible. With every new year I'm acutely aware that they won't be with me forever and they'll fly the coop before I know it. (And I'm very aware that I say that a lot.) Like my niece Claire, who recently graduated from Uni (early) and is already employed (but not close to home). Congratulations Claire! We love you sweet girl.

Bristol cathedral
Bristol Cathedral

The Christmas holidays came and went in a flash. We visited my sister and family in Texas, unfortunately we were ill for most of it but it was still nice to be with everyone (though I'm not sure they felt the same as we left them our coughs ;) I already miss them so much.

Early Flight, Bristol Museum

When we returned I took the kids to Bristol for the day before they went back to school. We felt like we needed a quick adventure. It's such a fun university town with plenty of history and culture and right around the corner from us. We look forward to many more visits. Bristol has plenty of what T and G love best, good food, great music shops and museums. You can probably guess which child likes which attraction most.

The River Avon, Bristol

I'm still very much in the discovery stage of learning about all the South West has to offer and so far, I really truly love it.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that the New Year brings you much joy.

Happy weekend,


candlelight, crafts and mulled wine

Candlelight fair
Candlelight fair in the village church

The first glass of mulled wine always makes me feel like the festivities have truly begun and this week I had one at the village Christmas fair. As this is our first December in the village we get to take part in all the festivities for the first time. 

Our stall
Our table

The candlelight Christmas fair in the village church was a real treat and we were invited to share space on a friend's stall. Gracie and I did some last minute making and nearly sold out which was really fun. She's a born salesperson. At the end of the evening she had a handful of her hand painted bookmarks left so as I was packing away she walked around to the other stall holders and sold them all!

We forgot to take pictures of our things so this is at the end of the fair.

Gift making

Now I'm stitching away at gifts ordered by other people and I'm not too sure if any of my own gift list will get made this year. 

Paint pallettes
Improvised palette

Gracie loves to use real palettes but instead of the bought kind we experimented with turning milk bottles into palettes and found they work brilliantly. The curve of the bottle and the opening is a perfect shape for a thumb. If you paint and have plastic bottles in the house, give it a try.

December skies
December skies

It's been so cold this week but the colour in the skies has been spectacular. The combination of a low winter sun and storms speeding through has made for beautiful views while walking.

Our tree
And the tree goes up

And we got a very pretty tree this year, worth the struggle getting it up too. It's on the large side because we have a tall ceiling but our stand is on the small side; this equals a wobbly situation – it fell twice (me underneath it) but luckily the ornaments weren't on it yet ;) Good thing there's no toddler in the house.

I hope your celebrations are all off to a wonderful start.

Happy Monday,


with the sun comes the cold


We've spent a lot of time behind this door over the last week and a half. The incredible storms that have caused the flooding around here were not to be reckoned with. We tucked up, filled our little coal stove and huddled around it. The wind and rain were intense. I took this photo when the sun started to reappear, not sure I captured the gold and purples showing through the window but the light was amazing. I only noticed afterwards that my larch wreath on the door didn't fair so well, it might need a small repair.


When I did venture out for dog walks and to run (literally) down to the shop we were met with mud, water and more mud. We were stranded for a day or two by roads out of our village into town and T's school closed one day but we got off easy as our village is mostly on a hill. Friends in Devon were stranded by rising streams turned to rivers and another friend nearby flooded by the rising stream near them. But people round here are hardy and made of sturdy stuff. The flooded friends were brought dinner and cake and wine and an industrial pump by a bloke they didn't know.


And though we now have sun, the water is taking it's time receding. On my usual walk through the orchard I came across a rushing stream where there's never been one before which made me then think how stupid I was leaving the house without my wellies just because the sun had come out.

Sunny today

I mentioned to Kristy that the benefit of dull, grey days is that the sun is that much brighter and colours more vibrant when clouds clear, or something to that effect.

But now that our blanket of cloud has cleared, in has come the cold.

First big frost

There was lots of crunching this morning and the rest of the week there will be too. I've even heard the sledge might need dusting off (if I can find it).

Leaf party

Apart from weather, we had an event this week. T got his first series of fittings for braces on Tuesday, and he now has two rather large looking appliances to wear all the time. He's pleasantly surprising me with his dedication so far to wearing them; he's not complaining a bit and coping with the irritating dull ache. He'll be even more handsome when it's all finished :)

With the weather disruption not many of us have thought too much about Christmas around here, it will be a lowkey affair for us anyway, and I'm very okay with that (my children are taking more convincing). Here's a great read about getting priorities right at Christmas time from Kathrin at annekata, it's titled "Golf Balls and Beer" how can you not read that one right?! I loved it and resolved to make it to the pub with a friend this week. And something else I loved, Lisa's snowfolk, click over to them if you need a smile.

Happy Friday,


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 ;)


mollie with her poppy

This weekend the children at the stables made sure all the animals were wearing their poppies and made sure the people had them too. I like that Rememberance Day has a visual symbol. But everyday when I amble through the churchyard at the start of my walk I'm reminded, even when its not Rememberance Day. The huge cross that bears the names of all the villagers who lost their lives in the World Wars looms large. Sometimes I stop and read them, many families lost more than one son, it makes my heart ache. 


Radio Four had a fantastic programme this morning about the Art of Remembrance. One artist and soldier wanted his art to remind people to live full lives so that those who lost theirs didn't die in vain.


I'm also reminded today of one of my favourite books, A Farewell to Arms. A new edition came out a few months back that includes the 47 alternate endings Hemingway wrote for the novel. I've wanted to get it, I love to see an artist's process but I can't help wondering if he would have wanted his readers to see this process. Read more about the new edition here

Autumn ferns

The sun shone brightly yesterday and today so Gracie and I headed out to our favourite wood and took in the colour. Though we got stuck here and there in the squelchy mud it was gorgeous and crisp out.


The dog hopped over branches, we munched on chocolate tucked in our pockets and let the sun shine on our faces. After she found the perfect branch to make herself a new bow we headed home to soak up the warmth of the Rayburn. A perfect kind of autumn day, and one that felt very full indeed.

Way home

I hope yours was very full too.