A springtime welcome!

Springtime front porch

We’ve had an extraordinary weekend of sunshine where spring has whispered beguilingly that it is finally on its way. Frosty mornings, still – but mornings now with birdsong and shafts of sunlight piercing through the curtains (annoying and heartening in equal measure!).

It sparked me to give our brand new front door a springtime look, so we went for a foraging walk around the garden to find moss and twigs and branches to weave into a wreath (full DIY below).

I planted our bay trees with handfuls of tulips; I was too late to plant  bulbs so I cheated by transplanting garden centre pots of already-sprouting Dutch bulbs in what I hope will be candy-coloured, feathered explosions of spring colour.  The dogs have been adorned with spring baskets (bought cheaply in a post-Easter sale last year), filled with dried limes for a zing of both colour and scent…

front door dogs with easter baskets front door stone dogs with easter baskets

And then hung in pride of place in the centre, our new early-spring wreath complete with a special pair of visitors…

spring wreath accent

To make the wreath I used…

  • A 14″ copper florist wreath
  • Handfuls of moss; some scraped from the lawn and some bought from the garden centre
  • Fallen branches of weeping willow (but any willow or pliable twigs will do)
  • Pheasant feathers and lengths of mossy twig
  • A mixture of real and faux spring branches
  • Two decorative birds and faux eggs from my local craft store

wreath tutorial

To make the wreath, I first wrapped handfuls of moss around the wire frame, securing it with florist wire.  It’s messy this bit, so do it outside, far from your husband who is inclined to hover, tut-tutting whenever you attempt such things indoors.

Then take lengths of your willow and bend it gently around the frame, wrapping your wire around it to bind it into shape.  Stand back every so often and check that your bunching looks even, and build it up where you need to.  Tuck in some short pieces of mossy twig as you go.

Hopefully you’ll end up with something that goes from this…


…to this…


When you’ve got to this stage it ceases to be hard work and becomes entirely fun.  Adorn the wreath with whatever other bits of greenery you can find and then craft a tiny nest by binding a fistful of willow together (you can find my older DIYs on nest-making here  – or you can very reasonably cheat and buy one,  We will not breathe a word to anyone).

Add in a couple of eggs and a pair of birds – mine were salvaged from our Christmas fir lady – and you’re done.

Instant springtime, right there on the front door!

Springtime front door wreath


For more seasonal DIYs, do type ‘spring’ into the blog search engine, or come and find me over at Pinterest or on Instagram – and thank you for your patience whilst I’ve been wrestling the blog back into shape after horrible hacking and gremlins; thank you to those who reached out to me to warn me that you were unwittingly rerouted to gambling sites.  I protest no responsibility for this at all… unless you won anything, in which case I take full responsibility and 50% commission. Ahem.

Have a lovely week, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing

handbag logo

DIY Vintage Kitchen Wreath (for the holidays and beyond!)

DIY Vintage Kitchen Wreath

Just completed, this has immediately become one of my favourite projects, not least because of the hunting and gathering involved!

A vintage-style culinary wreath, adorned with cookie cutters, wooden spoons, corks and whisks; pastry brushes, sieves, butter knives and fish moulds; lemon juicers, mushroom brushes, pie-toppers… you name it.  Basically; the contents of the junk bins of every charity shop I have passed by since the summer.  My only threshold was that everything had to be around £1 or less (or sourced from my own kitchen cupboards and drawers..);

kitchen utensils 1

Some of these are treasures (the silver fish!), others plain or even plain ugly (chipped wooden spoons; greasy, rusted cutters) – but somehow they are look magical and festive when strung together.

kitchen utensils

I used a grapevine wreath as my base, which worked beautifully because the woven, twisted stems were perfect for wiring all of the tools and kitchenalia onto.  Before you begin, make a strong loop of wire and weave it through the back ready to hang – much easier than trying to do this afterwards, I can assure you..

Where possible I used existing holes on the items, or wrapped wire tightly around the handles and stems of each piece.  The arranging is haphazard and organic; experiment and try different placements, working out what feels the most stable as well as the most aesthetically pleasing..

Wired vintage kitchenalia wreath

Up close, you can see my rather haphazard and substantial wiring, but step a pace backward (and have a glass of wine), and it rapidly becomes invisible :-)

vintage kitchen wreath DIY

I used hot glue for the final pieces that had no obvious way of being wired (the corks, and tiny pastry tins), and then gave the wreath a good shake, to see if anything fell off.

Then gathered up all of the kitchen implements that had crashed to the floor, and rewired more firmly.

Then shook again, slightly less hard.

Then gave myself a small round of applause and hung it on the kitchen wall.

The beauty of this is that you can knock one up just for the holiday season, using things you already own but can manage without for a month or two (but do give it some thought – you don’t want to be carefully snipping off critical gadgets when in mid-culinary whirl), or you can gradually hunt and gather bits and pieces to make a permanent, celebratory wreath for the heart of your kitchen… the collecting is definitely half the fun!

DIY vintage kitchen wreath for the holidays

Have a wonderful week.

handbag logo

DIY Pom-Pom and Faux Succulent Wreath

DIY pom-pom and succulent wreath

It’s that time of year where the mornings start with a crisp chill and the colours shift almost imperceptibly from the warm, vibrant tones of autumn towards the cold, clear bright greens and whites of winter.  We have a new front door, and so wreaths are on my mind; in particular a show-stopper, oversized wreath that will last through the season and offer a cheery welcome to all of those who pass through.

This is my pom-pom and faux succulent wreath, made by hot-gluing a forest of springy, homemade pom-poms onto a wooden floral wreath form,  interspersed with faux succulent stems from a local garden centre.  The tonal shades of the pom-poms look mossy and help to highlight the vibrance of the plants, and the whole wreath has a delicious tactile appeal; I can’t help but stroke it whenever I pass by!  It’s also a giant, stretching to 36″ in diameter – but fully scaleable of course, so you can make this to any size.

Making the wreath…

I started by gathering all sorts of bits and bobs of wool.  One or two balls I bought, but the others were sourced from charity shop bins; the beauty of pom-poms is that you need very little wool and can combine colours and mix it all up.  I used these pom-pom makers (have you tried them?  I am quietly addicted to the rhythmic wrapping and grand reveal moment at the end where they pop out…), and made a pile of about 40 pom-poms in different sizes whilst curled up in front of the TV.  My largest were palm-sized beauties; the smallest the size of a plum.

Pom Poms for a winter wreath

As I completed each few pom-poms, I began to lay them out on the floor in wreath shape to play with colours and placement:

making a DIY pom pom wreath


I used a large wooden florist’s wreath form with pre-drilled holes for the base (like this one below; available from craft stores and floral supplies), and painted it a forest green to ensure none of the wood showed through.

Screen Shot 2018-10-26 at 08.34.41

I chose 8 small faux succulent sprigs from a range of silk flowers at my local garden centre; I peeled back the rubber from their stems and pushed them through the drilled holes, hot-gluing them in place.

Fuax succulent sprigsIMG_2358

And then I trimmed the base off each pom-pom and hot-glued them around the plants, overlapping them and alternating colours and sizes.  The effect is rather beautiful;

Making a DIY pompom wreath

DIY pompom and faux succulent wreath

Finally, I cut a large circle of green felt and glued it to the back of the wreath to hide the floral wires and ensure no scratches to the door – and now it’s ready to hang!

Have a wonderful weekend, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

handbag logo

It’s beginning to feel a lot like…

Fir Lady 2017…Christmas!

So here she is; the Fir Lady returned in from the cold, this year with an old and much-mended sack as her elegant shawl, and a sprinkling of dried limes and pinecones to decorate her skirts.  Oh, and twinkling lights of course, because everyone deserves to sparkle at Christmas.  This year she’s taken up residence in the hallway, where she lights up the entrance and welcomes friends in from the cold.  And also in the hall;

IMG_3039An oversized wire star (from here), threaded with white lights and hung against a wall of logs, catching my eye and making me smile whenever I move about the kitchen.

IMG_3002In the bedroom, a more tranquil nod to the holidays; a simple driftwood wreath on the mantel.

Christmas mantelAnd then in readiness for the weekend …festive baking!

rosemary christmas cakeI decorated this simple jam sponge with thick white icing, a rosemary-sprig forest (topped with tiny pieces of gold leaf) and amaretti biscuits providing a rocky woodland path for the miniature model deer.  And then I took it all off and experimented with something a little different; a felt-mouse snowball fight!  I still haven’t decided which topping to go with…

Fun and festive Christmas cake

Making notes, for the creatively-minded

- The fir lady is an annual creation, made using branches of fir (from my local garden centre) wired around an old shop mannequin.  I secure a length of chicken wire around her waist and then attach the branches one by one, overlapping and occasionally trimming branches which stick out at peculiar angles.  After the first year, I learned to wear rubber gloves to avoid becoming a human pin cushion.

- I used a string of 750 warm white lights to wrap around the hallway star, and then taped the cable to the floor with transparent packaging tape for safety’s sake.  The star is hang on a wooden baton secured between the logs, but for an ordinary wall just use a standard picture hook.

- For the cake, I wired stems of rosemary to cocktail sticks to stop them wilting, and pushed the sticks into the cake.  A light sprinkling of powdered sugar simulates snow.  The paper tape and ribbon wrapped around the cake are previous year’s purchases from Anthropologie and John Lewis.

- for the ‘snowball’ cake, I used felted mouse tree-decorations and snipped off the hanging cord, sticking them into place on the cake top with a dab of icing.  The snowballs are made of fondant paste, and the rosemary makes a reappearance as the forest backdrop.  Felted holiday ornaments are everywhere this year; try White Stuff, Anthropologie, Oka, Pottery Barn and John Lewis.

….and now the weekend is here, and school is at last finished for the year for a jubilant, exhausted Harry.  I have a few more days of work to go, but before then a weekend filled with friends and family, with the making of eucalyptus garlands and stringing of ornaments and mulling of wine, and of log fires and duvets.  And possibly, just possibly……snow!

IMG_7556Have a wonderful weekend wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

handbag logo

January Colour


I can’t decide whether the greyest month of the year here in England is January or February.  Certainly both seem a little bleak and colourless after the intensity of Australia.  Last weekend I was at the supermarket,  wandering around aimlessly  choosing ingredients for dinner when I saw a rack of chillies on sale.  They looked vibrant and gorgeous.  I can’t remember the last time I used any sizeable amount of chillies in my cooking, but they looked so good that I bought them all; all ten packs (this is why you’re supposed to go armed with a shopping list).

Red chillies

I bought bay leaves too (the kind you find in slim packs in the herb section)…

Bay leaves

And then strung the chillies together along a length of florists wire with the bay leaves and some leftover dried orange slices;

Making a chilli wreath How to make a wreath step 1

Then I twisted the wired bunches around a simple wreath frame, lifting it up every now and then to check that they stayed in place and were secure.

Building a wreath

Winter wreath

Then when I ran out of chillies and oranges, I wrapped the last bit of the frame in ribbon..

Chilli Orange and Bay Wreath

If you don’t have a Greek god available to wear your chilli, bay and orange wreath once it is completed, can I suggest hanging it in the kitchen?  That’s where mine is now, and it catches my eye and makes me smile and think of summer.

Greek god

Have a wonderful weekend when it comes; I’ve been travelling for work this week and am now just back home, eagerly awaiting Harry’s return from school.

Thanks again for the wonderful suggestions in last week’s post; we’ve a trip planned to the library and the bookstore tomorrow!

handbag logo