From the contents of pockets

otter-pool(Otter Pool Galloway Forest)

Beside my washing machine are two little piles that gradually grow as the months go by, until I sweep them up and rehome the contents. The first pile consists of small stones, some rounded, some with hints of fossils and others glisten with minerals.

waterfall-galloway-forest-wood-of-cree(RSPB Wood of Cree)

The second pile is of little sticks, pine cones and other seeds. There is a third pile but that is swept away once the washing machine is loaded and running. No need to keep the tissues, pieces of crumpled paper and similar.

galloway-forestThe contents of all three piles, as you have probably guessed by now, come from the pockets of clothes worn on our many walks and adventures. The children take after me. They cannot resist bringing back interesting nature finds.

But what to do with them all? I have jam jars full of stones and sea glass of all descriptions, so some are redistributed around the garden. I have baskets of acorns, walnuts and other seeds on our shelves, which are great for crafting.

cafe-at-merrick-trailIt is fun to search and collect the pieces, but our house would soon feel crowded if we didn’t use them for something.

preparing-firestartersThis weekend we have been reducing our collection of pine cones, and scrap brown paper, to make beautifully scented firestarters.

Years ago, before children, we went to New England around leaf peeping season. It was a fabulous holiday and I’d love to go back. One of the souvenirs I brought back was a cupcake shape firestarter, with a pine cone in the middle. The fragrance was absolutely amazing compared to the white version we use at home. I have looked high and low for something similar, but no luck so far.

adding-fragrance-in-firestarterIn the meantime, we make our own.

how-to-make-homemade-firestartersWe used:

an old muffin tin
an old coffee scoop
thick, brown paper bags
old birthday candles and other wax ends
bits of string
old potpourri refresher oils
pine cones, twigs and dried herb leaves from the pile
dried ends of lemons and limes (left over from squeezing) and clementine peel

Step one: cut the paper into squares to fit the muffin tray holes and line the tray with the paper.
Step two: wrap string around pine cone, pushing the string into the cone and leaving a wick at the top, ready for lighting.
Step three: divide the cone, twigs, leaves and peel between each of the paper holders.
Step four: melt candle bits in jam jar. I pop this in the Aga, but I have used the microwave before.
Step five: once it is melted, I laddle the wax over the cones carefully, using the old coffee scoop to coat them. No need to fill the hole. There will be a small puddle of wax at the bottom.
Step six: leave to set

homemade-firestartersOnce set, I like to pop them in a basket, ready for use. They scent the room and add a bit of rustic charm, while they wait for their moment in the flame.


There will be more walks. There will be more finds. Already the washing machine nature piles grow again (I’m sure there is a name for them), just from dog walking over this weekend.

The children enjoyed making these. We talked about the three things you need for fire – fuel, spark/warmth and oxygen. What happens when one is missing.Why the wax didn’t burst into flames as it melted. We also talked about a very neat experiment that we want to do, which I hope to share soon.


I have a feeling they have started searching for just the right nature finds to go in our homemade firestarters. Hmm. Not exactly what I intended, but at least they have fun looking when they are out and about.

Autumn trees


Country Kids
Trash 2 Treasure

36 thoughts on “From the contents of pockets

  • Sunday 27 November, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    I once made festive smelling parcels for the fire so i think i will rry something like this again. They look fab just as decorations!

    • Sunday 27 November, 2016 at 5:20 pm

      I thought that too. Probably the prettiest ones I’ve made so far. All depends on what’s to hand!

  • Sunday 27 November, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    Ohh wow, these are spectacular. I never seen anything like them before but it is a super idea. I empty the pockets and chuck all the bits outside my front door where we have a stone border! lol Mich x

    • Monday 28 November, 2016 at 12:59 am

      Oh, thank you Michelle! Yes, our stone pile tends to end up among the stone border too. A couple of times the children have come running in with a new/old stone re-find!

  • Monday 28 November, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    This is fabulous, thanks so much for sharing on craft schooling Sunday! Have a wonderful holiday season and looking forward to reconnecting in 2017 when the party resumes after a December break.

    • Monday 28 November, 2016 at 2:07 pm

      Thank you Sara. You too. 🙂

  • Tuesday 29 November, 2016 at 11:52 am

    I love this and the smell must be wonderful and very Christmassy with the peal and oils in too. A perfect way to use those nature treasures. they look a lovely way to spend a crafty afternoon and I should think even storing them by the log pile would begin to release the fragrance. Move over cheap white firelighters!

    Thank you for joining in with #CountryKids and do join me for December’s #Trash2Treasure with this one too, a great upcycle.

    • Thursday 1 December, 2016 at 12:07 pm

      They did have fun making them. Also re-living the walks we had been on. I’m hoping that the commercial fire lighters will be a thing of the past in our household, now I remember how easy it is to make these.

  • Tuesday 29 November, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    I love these photos… looks like you had a great time. waterfalls are very relaxing.

    Coming to you from #CountryKids 🙂

    • Thursday 1 December, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      Certainly enough of them on this walk to feel quite relaxed.

  • Tuesday 29 November, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    I can just imagine a house pilled with nature stuff everywhere now! At least you check the pockets and don’t wash it all, i guess a habit you have had to get into!! love this idea though I’m sure I’ve done it similar before but can’t remember what we used. #countrykids

    • Thursday 1 December, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      I think the beauty of these is that they will be diffferent each time. Depending on what you have on hand.

  • Tuesday 29 November, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    We’re the same and often come home with pockets full of lovely stuff which just piles up at home! I really love the idea of the scented firestarters. Those photos are stunning by the way! It looks like a really gorgeous place to visit. #countrykids

    • Thursday 1 December, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      The photos are frm two walks that I just had no time to write up, but were excellent for nature finds. Lovely memories!

    • Thursday 1 December, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      Thanks Jenni

  • Thursday 1 December, 2016 at 1:42 am

    Oh, I love this idea! They must smell wonderful and what a fantastic use for all the ‘nature’ that comes home in pockets 🙂 #countrykids

    • Thursday 1 December, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      They do smell good. They scent the room wonderfully before the fire, as well as when you light it.

  • Thursday 1 December, 2016 at 9:06 am

    What a good idea – I have honestly never heard of these but they look lovely and I imagine they smell lovely as they burn too? What a great way to use up all those bits of treasure from your walks. Ours end up scattered throughout the house! #CountryKids

    • Thursday 1 December, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      They do scent the room as the fire starts. Children are convinced it carries on all evening, but I’m not convinced. I’m happy not to use the shop-bought, white version

  • Thursday 1 December, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    I need to start collecting some fo these things! At the moment we use dried orangle peels and papers to help get the fire started but always need some bought firelighters too.

    • Wednesday 7 December, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      The melted birthday candles and candle stubs make the difference. Not many other good uses for them once they reach this point, so I’m very happy to use them as an alternative to the shop bought variety.

  • Friday 2 December, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    This is inspired – love it. We have a woodburner so I am not sure we’d smell them as they burn but I could keep a pile of them by the fire ready and they would scent the room. Now I am trying to think where there is are any pine trees locally!

    Thank you so much, Cheryl, for adding this natural crafts (and washing machine piles) post to the first #GoingGreenLinky and I hope you’ll join up again in January.

    • Wednesday 7 December, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      We have a woodburner too. It does cut the smell down unfortunately, but so much nicer when coming home and the fire has just been lit. Very fragrant smoke as you walk up the path! Also when putting more wood on. I really don’t like the shop bought ones. I have to store them so I can’t smell them. Yuk!

  • Saturday 3 December, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    Love the fire starters …they may make a useful Christmas gift for the girls to make… (Just what’s needed for a gift I was puzzling over thank you!)

    You are very good at checking pockets …I’m scared to confess how much treasure I’ve washed and the washing machine and the offspring are equally unimpressed….

    • Wednesday 7 December, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      I think they would make wonderful present. If you used interesting recycled packaging, then I think they make a most welcome gift. Might need a packet of marshmallows and toasting fork to go with them though!

  • Sunday 4 December, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Aw I so need to try this, we have a log burner and these would be perfect x

    • Wednesday 7 December, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      They are fun. The children love seeing what colour the flames will be.

  • Monday 5 December, 2016 at 10:14 am

    I’ve never seen or heard of these – what a lovely idea! My sons bring home things too (so does the dog…)but they are bones and skulls and rusty finds, the dog tends to drag home huge sticks … not quite as appealing as your treasures! 😛

    • Wednesday 7 December, 2016 at 2:30 pm

      Ha! No I don’t think those would work as well, although very interesting in their own right.

  • Tuesday 6 December, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Yay, so pleased you popped back and aded these to #Trash2Treasure. Such a great upcycle and wonderful way to make your fire smell all festive.

    • Wednesday 7 December, 2016 at 3:39 pm

      It does smell very festive, and what else would I do with all those bits and pieces?

  • Wednesday 7 December, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    What a wonderful way to teach your children about the world we live in. #Trash2Treasure

    • Thursday 8 December, 2016 at 1:55 pm

      I think every day is a learning day.

  • Sunday 11 December, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    I used to find all manner of things in my kids’ pockets. Great that you were able to do something practical with yours. #Trash2Treasure

    • Wednesday 14 December, 2016 at 9:16 pm

      I’m sure some items would be more challenging! 🙂

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