Poppies, workshops and fabulous felting!

I love Autumn; its a time of nesting, gathering ripe blackberries to create jams and jellies, pickling onions and cucumbers: the anticipation of cosy nights by the fire crocheting or knitting while the cold nights stay outside the warm glow of the windows. The summer activities are winding down, my focus turns to creating a comfortable cosy home, and crafting.  
I have been speaking to Clothkits and Eternal Maker about running workshops, the first of which will be needle felting poppies for remembrance day in November. Its the centenary of the start of the first World War this year, the BBC have been running such interesting programmes about the lives of ordinary men and women a hundred years ago.  Yet in recent years, we are still seeing soldiers return home injured or worse, it has begun to feel less like history, and lamentable that we are still engaged in conflict today. I hope to give a donation to the Poppy appeal as it is such a great cause. 

I really enjoy needle felting, it is so satisfying to be able to replicate the beauty of flowers and leaves so easily, blending colours, shaping the wool; it’s a pleasurable way to spend half an hour, the projects evolve very quickly and easily. (You just have to keep your fingers out of the way!) 
If you would like to try this yourself, I can recommend Gillian Harris’s book Felting Fabulous flowers, the projects are delightful and the step by step instructions are easy to follow. You can purchase a copy on amazon.

Garden flowers – spring through to summer

What a wonderful summer it has been, the cherry season seems to have gone on forever, and the blackberries are showing promise but aren’t yet ripened. The gardens have been stunning, the weather has brightened not just the gardens, everyone is happy and smiling. 
There is nothing more pleasurable than having vases of flowers indoors that are home grown.  These peonies were lovely back in May, we have clumps of them in many different beds. We had some wet days,  so I rescued these from the ground their heads were so full of water – they brightened up the kitchen for a good ten days. 


 Peace lilies are so stunning, the flowers are huge – I think they are my favourite lily. We have several clumps but the blooms this year seem to have been extraordinary – the gardener kindly gave me a few enjoy. I am planning to do a drawing study, but time runs away with me.

 The poppies were also abundant, we have a huge bed out the front which was alive with the lovely pink flowers dancing in the breeze.

They have seeded all over the gardens and I spotted them in at least six places, must be the birds!

These are the more traditional poppies I could not resist taking a picture.

The roses were also stunning in June, this one has the most delightful sent. It is amazing just how much nature puts on a display every year, creating such beauty that was hidden under the frost and snow.
The thing I most enjoy about the gardens is that as one flower fades another takes its place. 

In August the hyacinths are all in flower, they make the most magnificent bouquets they are such huge flower heads this vase has only four blooms! Ours all seem to be pink, I think it depends on the soil. 

As the summer is drawing to a close, it won’t be long before the trees change colour – my favourite time of the year. I used to think gardening was boring when I was younger, but now I find I love the ever changing beds. 

Paper flower bouquets tutorial

My daughter is having a Steam punk wedding so I made these little bouquets for her bridesmaids. They are made from an old card games book! I have to admit I had to overcome a lot of hesitation to actually tear out the pages of a book, but the paper was a dream to work with. 

To make your own bouquet you need, 
1 old book with parchment type paper
I flower punch 
11 Brass buttons
1 dried flower cone
Florist wire
Florist tape
Matching ribbon

Wire cutters 
Round nosed pliers
Glue gun


I have a wonderful clutter bug which made the cutting out of the flowers very easy but any flower punch will do or you can just use the template on this tutorial and use scissors. You can stack the pages to make it easier and cut a few out at a time.

Then take a button and place it in the centre of the flower and pass the wire through the back of the flower. There are two types of button the ones that work best have a shank at the back that makes it easy to pass the wire through. If you have a normal two or four holed button then pass the wire through two holes and then push the wire through the centre of the flower from the front to the back. 
Using the florist tape wind the tape around both wires to secure the button, work up slowly until the tape has secured the button to the flower. Cut the ends of the wire to size. 
Gently fold the flower petals upwards so they curve gently round the flower. If you are using wider petals (like roses) you can use an embossing tool to gently smooth the outer edges of the flowers which gives a realistic curve. 
If you want a more aged effect you can gently brush the outer edges of the petal with some distressing ink. 

Once you have made your eleven (or any odd number) of flowers, press them into your cone, start with one in the middle then add three in equal parts around it, then fill in the spaces with other flowers until you have a pleasing bunch.

It helps if you put the cone in a tall glass or vase to keep it steady and upright while you work. 
Finally cut out the leaves, using the template and attach one half then using the cut, shape the leaf and glue the other half so that the leaves are curved. You can use more leaves if you wish but four makes it look fairly even. Use a paint brush and distressing ink to age the leaves if you wish. 
Wrap the ribbon round the stem of the holder, gluing as you go. It might help to start with a small strip across the end, then use a sharp angle to wrap the ribbon along the base finishing just under the leaves. 
Templates for flowers and leaves can be emailed on request. 

Table revamp

I love the curves of this table, painting furniture white always brings out the form of a piece of furniture and I find it extremely satisfying. I drew the design using a sharpie pen, just doodling the flowers and the birds. Afterwards I sealed the pen design with clear varnish. It is such an easy thing to do, and it really can transform an ordinary object into a work of art. 

I had a little rose tree

My son bought me this little tree, it was an Easter decoration in John Lewis I do adore it. It looks lovely with all the little eggs hanging since it was June I thought it would be a little rose tree to celebrate its life after a rather sad accident. It used to have a stand and unluckily it got caught up and ended up broken on the floor. I decided that it needed a new stand and found the pretty little bowl in the local charity shop. I sunk it in some plaster of paris and then put some pretty glass beads on the surface. Now it is back to its lovely self. The roses in the bowl are not fixed, just temporary. 
I think the roses look nice I did not realise just how many rose themed possessions I have the little china cup has a beautiful rose design and is Edwardian around 1911. They are delightful to drink tea from as they cool very quickly. The basket is also a charity shop find, one of many I cannot resist baskets! I am not entirely sure what to do with it yet. The same goes for the little ginger jar, another charity shop buy which has a lovely chrysanthemum design on it, not quite roses but lovely all the same. 
I think I might try and find a bigger version of this tree so I can use it for Christmas, so much better for the environment. 

Small Pleasures

This is the view of my kitchen window sill, I thought I would post it here, because it was while I was doing the washing up last night that the title of this post occurred to me. 

I have been on quite a journey two years ago I was living in a large detached house with a garden and a large art studio, but when I left I spent a year living with other people. It isn’t until you have to cook in someone else’s kitchen that you begin to really appreciate your own. 

I know the view from my window isn’t rolling hills, and my kitchen is a quarter of the size I used to have, but, as I washed the dishes by hand I realised I had learned a good lesson, happiness is found in small pleasures.

I remember a time when I would stack dishes in the dishwasher it would be a chore, but now, I wash my dishes by hand as I don’t have room for a dishwasher, and it has surprised me just what a simple pleasure it is. I am connected to my beautiful things, it is only as I am putting loving care into cleaning my favourite pan, that I remember what a pleasure it is to use it. My plates are very pretty and as I wash them and wipe them clean, I am given a moment of the joy of owning such a charming pattern. I am connected with small things that make me happy. 

We are bombarded with images of large houses and big gardens, but I am happier now in my small flat than I ever was living in that large house. I don’t spend my weekends worrying about the garden, weeding and watering. Yes, I do miss sitting out in the fresh air, but if I really want to do that I can sit in the communal gardens and enjoy them while the gardener cuts the grass. It takes me no more than an hour to clean my flat, but in a large house, it never seemed to get tidy. 

That isn’t to say I don’t miss some things, like having a fresh egg from my own chickens, or having room for a big party, but on the whole, I feel happier and more content that I have in years. 


The larger bottle is de-ionised water that I have collected from my tumble dryer, and the other little bottle is vinegar, the best cleaner by far. Washing up uses less water than a dishwasher, and now because I don’t have a big house to keep clean, I often use my airing cupboard to dry most of my clothes, again, as I hang them to dry, I can appreciate them, rather than throwing them in the dryer. I love pretty bottles, it makes cleaning a pleasure, and it is magical to clean my possessions as I spent a year without them. I do enjoy having appliances that make life easier, but I think we also lose that connection with our possessions. 

More is not always better, some times it is about finding the simple pleasures.