Welcome to our blog.

….. 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

  • RSS Feed for Posts
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Flickr
  • Instagram

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
  • Older »

Sticky

frugal living

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?

Felted Soap on the rope

Move over shower gel and hand soap in plastic bottles. You’re scrubbed off my shopping list. There’s a new kid in town. One that doesn’t need a pump mechanism, or leave a trail of packaging. We call it soap.  A bar of soap.

Ok. Maybe not so new. I mean, when I was growing up, a bar of soap, on the side of the sink, was a pretty common sight. That’s how you got your hands clean. Public loos might have a soap dispenser on the wall, but not private homes. The humble bar dealt with the dirt.

With the tide turning, soap bars are back in favour. Rising demand as people look to cut their plastic buying habits. People are using special formulated soap bars to shampoo their hair. Removing another plastic bottle from the bathroom

There is one problem with the bars. Arguably more, but I’m thinking about the way it sits in its own wet puddle and disintegrates, if you’re not careful. Imagine you’re in the shower. You lather up the soap and put it down in a soap dish, or just on the side, and use the soap on your hands to wash with. The soap bar is wet. It sits there, slowly dissolving in its puddle of water, reducing its useful life. Not a good idea and it can be avoided.

(When you are a family of five, sharing one bathroom, ugly, soggy soap ends up being pushed to one side. I’m saving you from a photo of it, at this point!)

Soap needs to dry out in between uses, in order to extend its life. Lots of ingenious ways of achieving this, including special dishes and bottle tops to sit on. I’m going to suggest another way. Felted soap on a rope.

There are lots of reasons that felted soap works well.

Acts as a flannel and gentle exfoliator
Colourful
Natural material
Include scrappy bits of soap, that would otherwise be thrown away.
Allows the soap to dry out
Brilliant crafting activity to do with children of all ages (including teens)
Cleans up your hands as you make it (great after gardening)

It is really easy to make. All you need is a bar of soap, wool roving, netting or pair of old tights, bit of rope and warm water. Wool roving is the fibre you get in felting kits. Felting wool, if you prefer. It is 100% wool, which felts when it’s plunged in hand hot water, soap added and rubbed. Bit like when you put a wool jumper in a hot wash. It shrinks. Making it a tight fit around the soap and sealing it in. Lots of craft shops now stock felting fibre and there are also plenty of online sources too. Alternatively, make friends with a sheep farmer.

Now for the fun part.

How to make a felted soap on the rope

1. Tie the rope around the soap and secure with a knot. Leave a long tail for hanging up the finished soap.

2. Take a length of the wool and tease it out into a long, wide, flat as a pancake strip. It should be wispy, like the teal strip above. The trick is to have lots of thin layers. If the layers are two thick, they will be harder to felt and you’ll end up with ridges and gaps. At this stage, wispy is your friend!

3. Wrap the wool around the soap, making sure the rope tail is not caught up. Keep adding more wool strips, in different directions each time, until the soap is covered and you can see no more soap. Add another two or more layers of wool to build up a thicker wool covering.

4. Wrap the wool covered soap with the netting. An easier option it to put it in the toe of a pair of old tights.

5. Briefly plunge the soap into a bowl of hand hot water and out again. Rub the wool covered soap gently in your hands. The wool will begin to felt, as the soap suds start to appear. Keep going. Allow 5 minutes. (previous child friendly soap felting activity) Test by removing part of the netting and pinching the surface. If the wool pulls away like a cobweb and doesn’t look smoothly matted together, wrap the netting around again and rub the surface again.

6. Once it’s felted, remove the netting completely and run under cold water to remove the suds on the surface.

Your felted soap on the rope is ready to be hung up in the bathroom and used. Hanging it up will allow it to dry between uses. I’ve not tried it, but I’m sure felted soaps can be made using shampoo bars too. Once dry they can be stored away in a cupboard.

I love using felted soap. Every member of the family can have one. It cuts down on the mountain of wet flannels that grows in our bathroom. Once the soap is finished, either slice the felted wool open and add another soap (or ends of soap), or use the wool case for something else. It can be put in the compost heap once it is beyond all conceivable usefulness.

Middle teen and I made these two soaps this afternoon. She’s happy to be cutting down on the plastic bottles in the bathroom , as much as I am. Can’t wait to put them to use.

——–

Joining in with Rosie’s Going Green linky. This month is Plastic Free July. I’d love to know if you are joining in and any tips you have.

Yarn Along March – Purple cardigan

I finished knitting my purple cardigan. I love it. It could very well be the best thing I’ve ever knitted. I’m really happy with the fit and love wearing it. From my notes, I reckon it’s taken me eight weeks to knit, which is impressive for me.

The only part I need to work on is the curling hem. I have blocked it, but not enough, it seems. If anyone has got a tried and tested method to make the hem behave, please let me know.

I used King Cole Merino blend dk. 100% wool. It is now my favourite yarn to use. A real pleasure to knit with. I’ve made hats with it before as it’s anti-tickle, and have often thought it would be good for something bigger. I bought the yarn in the sales, which reduced the cost down to a do-able price. I’ve found it priced at anything between £3 to £3.79 per ball. Back in January, I bought it for £1.79 per ball making the cardigan work out at just over £25 to make, instead of the usual £42. Perfect!

The cardigan pattern is King Cole 4076. There is a choice of a cardigan or jumper. Both are long line with side vents. I found the pattern straightforward. The cable panel is easy once you get into the swing of it. After a while, I stopped referring to the instructions, as the it’s obvious what to do from the previous row, if you see what I mean. Total joy to knit.So on to the next knit. Yes, I’ve cast on, but the photo really doesn’t give a fair representation of the amount of time it has taken. I’m using Wendy air yarn. It is wispy thin. Never underestimate how long it can take to find the start of the yarn in a ball like this. Lots. I’ve tried the first row a few times, but undone it. I’m not charging ahead with this one. I’m sure I’ll find my way with it. Eventually. It is such a contrast from my last project.

As it’s Yarn Along time again, I’m including my book, which I am loving. Matt Haig’s How to Stop Time. I’ve nearly finished it and am dragging out the end, because I don’t want to finish it yet. Savouring every last page. It is difficult to put down. It’s so good, I find myself reading and preparing the evening meal at the same time. The book in one hand and a spoon in the other. Children mumbling that I’m ignoring them.

Last photo of my cardigan. I’ve ordered some more wool to make the jumper version next. I’ve found it again at the same price, so hopefully they have enough of the same dye lot, which caught me out last time. I had to change colours. Fingers crossed. It is such a good pattern.

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along. What have you got on the needles at the moment? Are you reading a good book? Oh, and any advise on my curling hem, would be much appreciated.

 

Photos

There have been cases when people lifted my photos and words, and used them without credit to me or asking permission first. Using them for their own commercial gain. I have now added a level of security to deter people from doing this. Apologies to people who do play nicely. If you would like to use any of my photos, please contact me.

Copyright notice:

All my words and photos are copyrighted to me. They cannot be used for commercial benefit by anyone else. If you would like to use any of them, then please ask me first and don’t just take. Written permission only. Don’t pass my words, photos or ideas off as your own. It’s not nice.

Cookie Policy

Our web pages do not use cookies however this website uses Google Analytics, a web analytics service provided by Google, Inc. Google Analytics uses cookies to help us analyse how people use our site. The use of cookies by Google Analytics is subject to change.