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….. We make
….. We explore
….. We nuture

Three children (16, 14, 12)*** Two parents *** one dog *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010, about everyday happenings that bring us joy.

You can find me here

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Just a thought….

“A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe.”

 

Thank you….

  • Carol Not only is your bag practical, it is also very cute. Most reuseable bags aren't very attractive but I use them anyway. 16 Jul
  • Crummy Mummy We've been up at our allotment watering every day too - could really do with some meaningful rain now, although I'm not complaining! #MMBC 16 Jul
  • Kim Carberry What a fantastic idea and a fab looking bag. So pretty. I love your sewing machine too. x 15 Jul
  • sam What a well timed shot X #mmbc 15 Jul
  • Craft Mother I really hope you do get the gardening bug. Wonderful way to spend your time. 15 Jul
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Sticky

sewing

I made a produce bag

Anyone else trying to cut back on their single use plastics? It’s an ongoing process for me, but #PlasticFreeJuly is this month and it’s encouraging me. I’m under no illusions that I can eliminate all the single use overnight. It will take longer. One item at a time.

Today, I checked reusable produce bags off my list. Instead of using the plastic or paper bags when I buy fruit and veg, I can use my produce bag. A drawstring bag, made from light weight fabric. It’s not transparent, but see through enough for a shop’s checkout staff to see how many peaches are in the bag.

I used a toggle and elastic rescued from a small bag that held one of the children’s waterproof coats. The fabric is a net curtain from when we lived in Italy, when I was a child. I call them net curtains but they were more cosmetic. All the windows had fixed mosquito nets and heavy metal roller venetian blinds, blocking the view. These nets used to hang at the side to soften the look, especially in the bedrooms. Thinking back, I’m not sure it worked.

(One summer, I remember a swarm of bees taking up residence in the box casing for the blinds, in one of the bedrooms, making it unusable. The bees rather objected to their hive being invaded by a clanking metal structure, every morning. If memory serves me right, that bedroom was out of action for a while. No-one went in there. I don’t remember what happened in the end.)

Anyway. Not your classic British net curtains. The fabric is more lightweight chiffon. Like a scarf. The curtains had a channel at the top for the pole or elastic that it used to hang from. I re used that part for the drawstring. Fortunately the elastic I had, was just a little bit shorter than the width of the curtain, giving the final bag a bunched opening, which doesn’t flop. I cut the fabric to make a square bag and sewed around, leaving the top open.

It was lovely weather, this weekend, and I took my hand cranked Singer machine outside to sew. I used French seams. The fabric tends to fray and is see through, so I wanted to hide the edges. I also think it makes the join stronger and less likely to break. An advantage to making your own. I know it will hold a good number of apples and not split as I put it in my basket. Chasing renegade apples, making a break for freedom around a market floor, is not top of my list of things to do.

The bag was quick to make. Works a dream for the peaches I tried it out with. I have enough fabric left to make several bags. I plan to make one for a baguette too, rather than the long plastic bags that they use in shops. When did they stop wrapping them with a small square of paper for handling purposes? (Showing my age?)

This bag is on a mission today. Youngest is making fruit crumble in food tech at school. The fruit is measured out and in the bag, waiting to be taken in. No single use bags. After that, I’ll roll it up and keep it in my bag, so I don’t forget it when I’m shopping. Added bonus, it will be easy to wash.

This is not the only single use plastic I’ve swapped this month, but the list can wait to a later time. I’m pleased with my home made bags. I’ve recycled fabric and fixings that could easily have been thrown out as their original use had long since gone. They are pretty too. A win-win all round!

The proof will be the eating of the pudding, as they say. Do you use re-usable produce bags?

All about the tablecloth

Almost to the day, two years ago, I found a hand embroidered tablecloth in a local charity shop. The stitches were beautiful. Clusters of flowers, joined by ribbons and bows. I cannot imagine how long it took the stitcher to stitch the whole cloth. It looks like love has been poured into the piece. All those little, precise stitches sewn in colourful threads. It hadn’t faded either.

I could be over romanticizing it, of course. It has been known. The embroiderer might have hated it. Completing it under duress. Stabbing the linen with each stitch, but I don’t think so. Something made them finish it. The stitches are too good. I can’t believe they didn’t feel some joy while making it. That’s good enough for me. I’m going with the love.  Just look at those flowers. I’d be proud to make it.

Needless to say, I wasn’t going to allow it to languish on the charity shop shelf any longer. It needed to be used and admired.

So I brought it home. Washed it. Used it once. Then put it away in the cupboard and there it stayed.

Sigh.

Part of the problem was that I wanted to use it outside. Now we tend to use a parasol for the tables outside, to provide extra shade. Any cloth we use would need a hole slap bang in the middle, which my rescued table cloth did not have.

A couple of days ago, inspiration struck. I’d make a hole. Not a big light bulb moment, admittedly, but maybe I needed the two years to realise I wasn’t going to use the table cloth for anything else, and it wasn’t going to be used unless a hole was cut.

Deep breath. Scissors out. Snip.

To tidy the cut edges and stop it fraying, I encased them in bias binding. I had just enough off-white coloured binding for the straight edges. I used a dark red to go round the hole. I hand stitched most of it, as I wanted to keep it true to its original making style.

Diving into my ribbon drawer, I found two pieces of red gingham ribbon. Different widths, but I decided the smaller one would look good at the table cloth edge without overpowering the surrounding flowers and the wider one would work in the centre.
They don’t distract from the embroidered flowers.

Final touch was to make a cream tea and serve it outside today. (Scones, with jam and cream, and tea.) I think it was a bit of a surprise for the children when they got in from school. Fine china and cream teas is not an every day occurrence.  Never to miss out on a good thing, the children seemed to take the change of routine in their stride. Scones soon disappeared. Let’s hope they don’t expect this every day from now on.

I’m so glad I gave the table cloth a new lease of life. It should stay on more times out of ten, against the wind too. I don’t know the story behind the cloth and how it ended up in a charity shop, but I hope the person who made it would appreciate the care I’ve taken and the use it will now get.

 

Pie dishes and car boot sale

We went to a local car boot sale over the weekend. It’s been a while. I warned the children not to expect to buy anything. Always go with a minimal, mental list of things you’d like to find and avoid impulse buying, otherwise all you’re doing is moving clutter from one home to another. Shifting the problem. It works if one person’s clutter becomes your desired purchase. Everyone wins that way.

So included on my list were garden tools (I could do with another fork), a tailors dummy (I live in hope) and individual pie dishes. I know I could buy all these first hand very easily and have it all straight away, but that’s daft if I can help someone else clear their clutter and save it going to a landfill. It’s one of the reasons I try to buy nothing new.

I’m patient. I can wait to find the right solution.

(Unless it’s fabric. Then the conversation in my head, about the gorgeous new fabric in my hands, goes on a whole heap longer and can get heated. Fabric is my weakness, but I’m working on it)

Also I find items fall off the list after a while, proving I really didn’t need them.

I think by the end, the children were more than ready to go home. They chattered happily in the car about the strange things they’d seen for sale, conversations they’d overheard and no one was upset about coming home empty handed.

Nestled by my feet, were a stack of small pie dishes.

Six of them.

They are the ceramic dishes that Charlie Bingham’s pies come in. I’ve never tried this range of pies. I like to make my own. I’m assuming that the owner of the stall must have absolutely loved them, as she had a box brimming over with these dishes. Empty and clean! Perfect for my pie making. I bought 6 for £1.

Last night, I used them to make fruit crumble. Using up leftovers before my supermarket delivery arrives today. I mixed pears, blueberries and raspberries, with a dash of almond essence. I’m not sure if it was the new dishes, the stormy weather raging outside or the fruit combination, but everyone really loved the crumble. Bowls were cleaned.

The new dishes have given me the chance to try out something else that’s been on my list – bowl cosies. Especially important as the dishes are coming straight out of the Aga and I wanted to protect everyone’s hands.  Turns out that bowl cosies are ridiculously easy to make. A few darts and the flat square turn into a bowl, with the perfect dimensions for my new individual pie dishes.

I’ve made one so far, as a proof of concept. I’m using Aldi fat quarters, with cotton wadding. Sewn up with cotton thread. The theory is that by avoiding mademade fibres, I can put these in the microwave or my lower oven, without fear of anything melting. It makes it easier to lift the hot bowls out. The cosies can either be held by two diagonal corners or in the palm of your hands. Even if it spills, the fabric catches most of the hot splashes before they can hit anyone. Usually me, to be honest.

It’s reversible too. I’m not sure how important that feels to me at the moment. I guess that some dishes will look better against the yellow and others with the blue. Flexibility to change the colour may be nice, but I’m more interesting in making a set of cosies that complement each other but not match. I am not a matching kind of person.

Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. I’m quite happy with my new pie dishes. Love that it pushed me to dabble in a new sewing project too. It seems to have gone down well with everyone. Even had requests for customised bowl cosies. I like that. It means they are already picturing themselves using these cosies for late evening, garden eating.

Oh. Roll on summer!

PoCoLo

Going Green

Photos

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