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….. Making pretty things
….. Simple living
….. Growing a family

Three children (17, 15, 13)*** 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.

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


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recycle crafting

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?


Joining in with Rosie’s Going Green linky.

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.


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.


Maps and sea glass. A recycling project.

Two of my favourite things. Maps and sea glass. I mainly craft with textiles, but I could give it all up for this kind of crafting. This project was such fun and there was an unexpected twist to it too, but I’m jumping ahead as usual.

At the beginning of the holiday, I took the children down to Hobby Craft and bought a few projects to do over the holiday. It was so much fun shopping with them. OK. A few ideas I vetoed, but on the whole they chose well. Then the inevitable happened, I spotted something not on my list. I’d been so good up to that point. Anyway, there it was. A grey shadow box in the half price bin. Perfect for covering the frame with sea glass, because grey is major boring. I could add an inspirational quote in the middle.

Once I got home, I realised the sea glass did not work, but world maps were the way to go. Still inspired by the map man we saw in Hay-on-Wye. Fortunately, on my list had been a large bottle of decoupage glue. I spent a happy afternoon gluing. Rather regret not wearing gloves, as I was peeling glue off  my fingers for ever. Youngest had his own sticky project (more about that another time), so we worked happily together. I love crafting with the children when they really get their teeth into a project. They chatter happily away, making them excellent company.

The old map was perfect. I went for the tear and stick method. A mish mash of images. Reworking the world atlas in an afternoon. Imagining how world politics would change if Syria was positioned next to Brazil, or Mexico was overlapping Canada and Germany, and so on.

Next up, the picture. Seems a tad back to front way to do it, I’ll admit. The frame before the picture, but that’s how it goes. I popped the empty frame up on the wall for a few days, hoping that inspiration would hit me. I contemplated different quotes, single bird feathers and even a lone ticket. The family were beginning to wonder if I would ever put something in it. Then one breakfast, I was playing with a jar of sea glass when it hit me. A picture of the UK. Yes! Well that was it. I couldn’t stop once the idea took hold. I traced the outline of Britain and Ireland (because Northern Ireland looks lonely without Southern Ireland there) and started arranging the sea glass. I kept coming back to it and moving pieces around.

Using PVA glue, I stuck the sea glass on the card stock. Even then, I removed some of the then sticky glass and swapped them around.

Once dry, I added the frame and hung it up in the downstairs loo. I added a note “Make it so”, which is a reference to Star Trek and hopefully will inspire the children. Although, they don’t know the connection to the Sci-fi series/film, unless they are reading this. (In which case, surprise!) My aim is to make them think.

I’ve finished it. No more fiddling with the position of green sea glass. Final act is to stick the picture to the backing, to eliminate the slight bulging edges of the card stock.

Now for the twist. As I prepared the photos to add to this blog post, I spotted something unexpected. Had to check it out with the real picture, to make sure it wasn’t just a trick of the lens, and it isn’t. Not sure why I hadn’t noticed before. In fact, I seem to have positioned the glass bits as if I had done it on purpose. Apparently, my subconscious was working on a whole different project.

Take another look. Can you see it?

It’s a dragon. Puffing smoke rings up into the sky. (Apologies to those who are not familiar with places in the UK, but I hope you get the gist of it.) The top of Scotland is the snout, with the Skye and Inverness/Aviemore making the eyes. Ireland is the wings and Wales are the spikes along the back. Cornwall and Devon are the tail. I could not have positioned the long thin light blue glass, to make a dragon’s belly, better. Can you see it? It’s a dragon, but the UK at the same time. I may never be able to look at the map again, without seeing the dragon too.

Double reason to be happy with my picture. Maybe I should try another country and see what my subconscious makes of it. Sea glass is so much fun to work with. Fun to collect too. A good excuse to head for the coast, me thinks.

What do you think? Dragon or the UK?

Hope you are having a good weekend. Till next time.

A Green and Rosie Life



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