Repurposing and mopping up


Today we quickly whipped up three easy items from one leg of an old pair of Gracie's jeans.

It started when I used the old jeans to make a coaster. I simply sewed two denim discs together then stitched on a vintage doily. I liked the way the denim went with the natural colour of the linen thread the doily was crocheted with.

Secondly, noticing the left-over long, sturdy seam that was scrap, I trimmed the seam close on both edges. Then sewed (with my machine) a buttonhole on one end and an orange, glass button on the other to make an ankle bracelet for Gracie. No need to even take this one off at bath time :)

And lastly, a new bone for Pippi. Denim is a great, sturdy fabric for dog toys. I made a simple bone shape with chalk on the remaining scrap, double-stitched around the shape and turned it. Then the kids stuffed it tightly with fabric scraps. After ladder-stitching up the opening she enjoyed a little chew time. This will be her craft room toy, no dragging it into the garden to hide it from us.

Denim will always be one of my favourite fabrics to sew with, it's uses are endless. Which reminds me, I love this denim necklace and this little denim number too.

Lichen liken the weather

And yay! The sun peeped through this afternoon. We've had very little let up from the rain until today. It rained so hard two nights ago that the chimney above our stove had water pouring down it puddling under the oven, splashing over the stove into our dinner which was cooking away and also into a pool on the kitchen floor (it ended up being a perfect opportunity to give that grimy area a good clean).

Thistles showered

Having a week of heavy rain makes me feel even more sadness for people in Pakistan who are living in the floods and rain with no homes. I know the British people have been big supporters of the relief efforts, I hope it continues.

On another note, a couple of Gracie's favourite summer reads have been The tail of Emily Windsnap by, Liz Kessler and Kensuke's Kingdom by, Michael Morpurgo. She also whizzed through one of the Wimpy Kid books and howled all the way. Tristan isn't a lover of reading, never has been, but he does enjoy Chris Ryan books, lots of action.

Back to school soon. Hopefully the sun will keep on shining and we'll have a chance to hit the beach a few more times before going back.

Happy weekend to you!

Twig flower pots for giving, or keeping: a tutorial

Twig flower pot

I like to give plants to friends or family instead of cut flowers. Plastic pots aren't pretty so I usually wrap them in something like hessian (burlap) and tie them with nice string. I recently tried repurposing laundry detergent containers and dressed them up with twigs - I liked the results. 

They're very easy to make, here's how:

Supplies: Small saw (optional), hessian, a straight sided container, twigs or small branches that are fairly straight, jute twine, glue gun or string


Gather a pile of twigs and cut them down to roughly the same length; you'll want them a little taller than your container. You could forgo the saw and break them if you like.


Take a long piece of twine (about a metre and a half) and at the middle of your piece of twine begin tying the sticks together. Tie near one end of the twigs, single knots should be fine.

Continue tying your remaining twigs until you have long row of them, then gently wrap them around your container to check the length; the twigs should meet but not overlap. In the image above you can see there's no need to remove smaller twigs, I left a few on. 


After checking the length, tie the twigs again at the other end.


Cover a straight sided container with a strip of hessian (burlap). I folded under the bottom edge and tucked in the top edge. I secured it with a glue gun but you could stitch it or tie it on with string. No need to be perfect, it's getting covered anyway. I just pop the plastic pot inside this one but if you plant your flower in this container be sure to poke drain holes in the bottom. 


Now just wrap the twigs around and tie it on.

Told you it was easy!

These are also great to use as vases, if they're too light pop a couple of large stones inside to help weigh them down. When I bring flowers to school to decorate the entrance these are perfect because I can just leave them behind.

This is also a nice project for children who are old enough to tie a simple knot - you may want to help out with the saw though ;) 

Note: The sculpture in the top image is by Dutch artist Toos Bressers, previously seen here.


Don't forget to enter the NM blog birthday giveaway, ends June 18.



Themed birthday giveaway & download - twit twooooo

Prize Part One: Two Owl Egg Cozies 

Finally getting around to posting this little birthday blog contest, and May has already come and gone. Clearly, still on the owl theme around here.

There will be one winner and the winner will receive all of the prizes listed in this post: Two owl egg cozies, two owl egg cups and a textile bundle. The contest is open to everyone, I'll post worldwide. The contest ends on Friday, June 18th. 

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post (be sure you have an email address, not just a Typepad profile so that I can contact you.)

These two owl egg cozies are made from felted wool and they're perched on a root I dug up while working in the garden. Several pieces fell off the root after drying out but the owls still like it. Clearing beds of roots, weeds and flint the size of footballs has kept me very busy during every spare hour - I've even made a fence to keep bunnies out of our tiny vegetable garden. 

Posts are backed up and visits to blog friends overdue, but the third birthday of NM reminds me once again of all the wonderful people I've "met" through this space. Thanks to all who visit and an even bigger thanks to those who have taken time to interact.

Prize Part Two: Owl Egg Cups, Cornish Pottery

I picked up these egg cups while in Cornwall at Easter. Very handsome little guys don't you think?

Prize Part Three: Textile Bundle 

Nice soft felted wool from a jumper, the large front and back piece. Also a piece of Liberty floral, two large, vintage buttons (3cm diam), a small square of brown felted wool and a piece of pale green vintage braid.

I put this bundle together with a large owl softie in mind - can't you see owl eyes in those buttons? They could of course be used in so many other ways too.

Owl Box Template: Free Download 

And here's a special birthday download for everyone. I thought the stout shape of an owl lent itself well to a box design. I've been mulling it over for a while, and now here it is. 

Owl-Box-thmbnl This template can be printed onto card stock at 100% for a small box or enlarge the template, cut it out and trace around it onto large card for a bigger version. There is a plain design or patterned, might be nice for party favours. And children might like dressing up the plain design.

Click this image of the template to download.

Have a warm and wonderful weekend, a new tutorial is on the way next.

J x

Greenhouse effect


This is our humble little greenhouse, purchased because the old glass greenhouse it's standing in has no walls left making it a chilly, breezy place for young seedlings just starting out. The start of our crop is ready to plant out, with more to come, but we're busy rabbit proofing before this can happen. I swear those weeds swallowing it up weren't there just a couple weeks ago.

Mini greenhouses like these, usually with the plastic lost can be seen languishing at the back of gardens all over the UK. Probably because the plastic covers are pretty flimsy or the gardeners take them off for winter and forget where they stored them when spring rolls around.

We bought ours at a local shop and while Gracie and I slotted it together we realised it was a very handy size and we knew another way we could put the greenhouse to good use.

Gracie's bedroom is too small for a decent size wardrobe and 17th century cottages don't have them built in. We've looked around for the perfect storage for her since we moved in 8 months ago with no success, until we got our greenhouse. 


So we purchased another greenhouse, put it together and removed a couple of bars and shelves. Then we bought some heavy cotton calico for a steal on eBay and whipped up a cover by copying the plastic one. I added pockets to the sides and some loops to hang scarves and belts and Gracie is so happy with the outcome.

We'd planned on appliqueing a "G" at the top but Gracie was too excited to finally have space for her hanging clothes that she put it up before I could even press out the seams. I love the fact that when she no longer needs this storage it will fit easily into other rooms and can be quickly disassembled for moving. 

So if you have a lonely greenhouse at the back of your garden, bring it indoors for a new life. It's very sturdy and the total cost for the whole thing was only £23.50 - bargain!

I'll be back soon with a blog birthday giveaway and a fun download.

Flowers sunshine and smiles

Ink bottle bouquet

April showers certainly brought May flowers. Suddenly colour is bursting everywhere, especially in a little wooded area that happily escapes the lawn mower. Ink bottles are perfect vases for tiny posies of buttercups, daisies and forget-me-nots.

The flowers remind me of this sweet little poem Sonia sent me.

by Cicely Mary Barker

So small, so blue, in grassy places,
My flowers raise
Their tiny faces.

By streams my bigger sisters grow,
And smile in gardens,
In a row.

I've never seen a garden plot;
But though I'm small,
Forget me not !

Not a lot to say about what we're getting up to around here. We're in the middle of a busy end of the school term so instead, some images.

Sun brewed tea

Some very warm weather allowed for a sunshine brew.

Nature's portrait

Photo taken by Gracie during her week away on a school trip.

Puppy love

Lots of time spent training our new puppy, Pippi. She's happily forcing even more time for us outdoors - we're really pleased she's arrived in spring and not in winter.

School Rock Concert

Amazing show, not just because my favourite guitarist played and sang two of the songs. I don't know how he musters up that confidence, but I'd like him to bottle it and give me a little.

Enjoy the weekend!



Mr Owl: carved paper sculpture tutorial


These eyes have been staring up at me from the recycling bin for the longest time; I've finally attached a body to them.

 Mr Owl was so easy and fun to make I'm now hoarding egg cartons. Egg cartons have such an uneven, sculptural texture that cutting them feels more like carving. I think adults and children alike would enjoy making these owls and it's simple to alter the cutting to make each one unique.

Paint or paper scraps could also be applied to these. I'm picturing a trio painted black with larger feather flaps and votive candles shining through for Halloween. 

To make Mr Owl you simply need:


  • egg carton (I used a 6 egg carton but a 12 egg carton could be cut in half)
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • craft knife (optional)
  • craft glue


Using pencil, draw two shapes from the bottom side of the carton for, 1. the eyes and beak and 2. the ear/feather tufts that go above and behind the eyes and beak. Then cut them out with scissors. 
On one end of the top of the carton, draw a shape sort of like this; then cut the shape out (the head will slot in that section.) When your head is ready, you may need to add a couple of vertical cuts to firmly slot it into the body (see vertical cuts under the beak in the finished, yellow owl picture at the top of the page.)

Next, on the other end of the lid, draw some feet and cut out the section under the feet. Draw in some "U" shaped feathers and use a craft knife to cut around them (probably not a job for young children.) Then bend in the bottom of each side of the lid on a diagonal. The dotted line above indicates where you should bend the carton.

Cut feather shapes around the eyes of your owl if you wish. I cut slits and points and curved them under to give a feather appearance around the eyes. Do the same or create your own eye design. Then cut and gently shape the beak. 

Glue the ear piece behind the eyes. A piece of tape will help hold it in position while it dries.

When it's dry slot it in place on top of the owl body.


I'd love to know if you give these a go :)


We're still seeing our Little Owl friend nearly everyday when we return home from school. He's inspired this and more upcoming projects. Maybe one day Little Owl will let us take a photo of him. He's very cute, but shy - unless you're a mouse!

Pams-shrooms Remember the repurposed storage containers turned toadstools? They were one of the patterns in the Stitch Village pattern book. Pam has made a whole village of them to store her sewing notions. Instead of embroidering lettering she's sewn a sample of the containers contents above each door - genius. It's very sweet and an incredible amount of work.

Go see Pam's whole village!

Current goings-on

It seems an age since I last updated NM. I'm pleased to report the lace across the windows seems to be doing the trick thus far. I've witnessed more than one bird come right for the window and skate away just in time.

Said birds have ushered in spring for our household. I know spring is truly here when the Dawn Chorus wakes our children at unsociable hours.

The above image was a sort of recycled regatta we made for an upcoming GP article. Lucky we had some good friends visiting for the weekend to help out with the sailing. The children spent literally hours playing with these mini boats, even the 11 year olds.

And finally I've been working on learning more than chain stitch in crochet. I've been online, studied books and racked my brains trying to become more proficient (also unintentionally stayed up way too late.) I'm finally learning the language and a bit of pattern reading and just finding that like anything, it takes practice, practice, practice. I can tell you I am now VERY proficient at ripping out stitches.

I set myself a goal, learn how to make one of Lucy's hexagons. My sample took many other forms before reaching full hexagonal glory, still not perfect, but pleasing none-the-less. Her crochet is just so cheerful that following Lucy's tutorial was fun; the fact that she's a fairly recent self-taught hooker also inspired me.

This first hexagon will be a coaster for my desk but I'm now working on creating a scarf out of them in a solid colour for spring. I'll let you know how that goes. Now I feel prepared to tackle more tutorials, like any number of these from Margie.

A fabulous package from Pam arrived in the post for us too. Tins of chocolates for the children and loads of Kool Aid to try this tutorial of hers (we don't get Kool Aid here and my enamel deficient daughter thinks she gets to drink it all instead.) Pam also added some agates found on beaches in Oregon then polished. The frog in the hydrangea image is one of her photos - amazing. Thank you kind Pam, we loved going through your whole lovely parcel. 

Lastly, here's a little tip for making large envelopes, use newspaper.

Gracie had a double birthday party to attend yesterday so these two envelopes were made for the occasion. I'm sure there's no need to walk you through making these, but but just in case you want one, a short explanation is here.

And remember there are templates to make cards for upcoming special occasions here.

Hope you're all enjoying spring as much as we are. With a recent deluge over (hopefully) and the children now off school for Easter break we look forward to a few weeks free to immerse ourselves in the season.

More re-purposing and things

A lot of organizing has been taking place around here. Mainly the kind that bears invisible fruit, like figuring out how to get children to and from school through snow and ice packed roads. But there are a few other items checked off my list that feel somewhat more productive, like the repurposed jean project I'm just finishing for The Green Parent. It's quick, easy and super useful and after I finished the first sample Gracie snapped it up to claim it as her own (she's my personal barometer for success.)

I'd forgotten how lovely it is to work with old denim and I've fallen in love with the soft, worn-in utility fabric all over again; it got my head spinning on to more new projects using the garment remnants. But for now I have a new pattern on the go that I'm loving stitching up - this one is going on an under shirt for Gracie. The design is inspired by Tristan and the art of Mabel Lucie Attwell (lovely, chubby cheeked children.)

After several inches of more snow yesterday, today it seems the melt has begun. Our snow gal is trying to squeeze into her bikini, I think it will happen soon. We can nearly see the road again and the weather report says we might even see sunshine on Sunday.

Meanwhile, my thoughts are with two overseas friends this week who have both said good-bye to their mums, hugs to them from across the pond. Also, with the people of Haiti and the difficulties they're facing; I hope there will be a way for us to help in some small way from a distance.

Happy Thursday to you :)

Sleep-time teddies from outgrown pajamas

Tristan wouldn't give up his favourite brushed-cotton pajamas that he'd long outgrown but a hole in one knee the size of a football made me finally take the scissors to them. Though the fabric was fairly threadbare I salvaged enough to make him a soft teddy so he could still enjoy it. Gracie wanted one too and has the perfect pair of way-too-small jammies with tiny pink rosebuds I couldn't wait to use, but no, she wanted her brother's fabric, and absolutely no pink. Luckily, I was able to maneuver the pattern enough to squeeze out a second teddy.

To make them I drew a simple one-part teddy pattern, cut it out and stitched features on the pieces to keep them entirely soft. I then stitched around it and left a gap for stuffing. I stuffed the head and limbs with soft filler, made a little pouch of the filler and poured in some lavender, then tucked the pouch into the teddy's tummy. I could bearly get the gap stitched up before they were usurped for a cuddle. T & G love the lavender scent and both are snuggling with their new friends as I type.

They're so simple I thought I should share them. My children always appreciate the things we make from re-purposed materials much more than those from new materials; to them the process of transformation is a little bit magical and it is to me too!

The teddies say thank you Sonia for the nature finds they're modeling with ; )

Quick advent calendar


I'm resurrecting this advent calendar idea from a couple of years back. It was first made for a craft magazine and the editor liked colourful materials so we used Christmas themed paper. I think we'll use newspaper this year (we'll sift through our recycle pile to find some without horrible headlines.) Or we'll paint newspaper or brown craft paper for a colourful but more rustic look.

Adventtree_2 For a different magazine I made these packets and a twig tree using tracing paper, that would be fun to use for the bunting too.

We like to create little activities, riddles, or jokes instead of sweets or chocolate because we find there are already plenty of sugary goodies around every where this time of year. Making up knock-knock jokes is big with my two at the moment so I think the bunting might be stuffed with several of them.

If you're as far behind schedule as I am this year and you'd like to make advent bunting here's a handy template for you. Just trace the template on paper of your choice, fold on the dotted lines and punch holes in each one to hang. Here's what you need:

long twine to tie the bunting to • paper for folding • ribbon or string to tie the bunting to the twine • small sweets or chocolate coins and/or lots of jokes, riddles and activities

Have a great Monday everyone, I think I might spy some sun peeking out from behind a black cloud - things are looking up around here but I won't be taking my wellies off just yet.