Twine Creations

Lately, I’ve been playing around with twine to make even more handmade creations. Twine is a great material to use for crafting, especially if you want to create a rustic or natural look. It is cheap to buy and really simple to use.  I like to make shapes out of wire then wrap twine, rope or string around it. Here’s a couple of my recent creations.

A string and wire fairy.

A string and wire fairy.

A wire and twine person.

A wire and twine person.

I like the way their heads look a bit like dream catchers. They make great hanging decorations for the garden, and they also look lovely sitting next to the fish bowl in the living room.

I also upcycled an old glass jar today. I used wire, twine and white craft tissue paper to make a very attractive glass jar tealight holder.

Upcycled glass jar tealight holder, made with wire, twine and craft tissue paper.

Upcycled glass jar tealight holder, made with wire, twine and craft tissue paper.

This upcycled glass jar tealight holder is available to buy in my Etsy shop.

I love recycling glass jars. There are so many different ways to turn an empty glass jar into something to treasure forever.


Life’s unanswerable questions

I chose to reblog this post as I totally agree with the points raised in it. And it is so well written. When I try to write about serious issues that deserve debate, I tend to waffle on too much. Whereas this post managed to discuss an important point in just a few short paragraphs.

So, what's wrong with school?

A longish life has taught me the answer to many of life’s imponderables. How long is a piece of string? (about 2 inches shorter than you need it to be) Riding a motorcycle in Kenya taught me the answer to: why did the chicken cross the road? (…because it is a stupid animal with a death wish) Being a parent taught me the answer to: how many beans make five? (…please stop whingeing and just eat them) But I have never solved the question: Why do seemingly intelligent people, when given charge of a countries education system, so often screw it up.

Let’s take the great initiative of forcing those who fail GCSE maths and English to keep retaking them until they pass…(assuming they ever do) Dead horses do not begin to canter just because we flog them, to paraphrase  Michael Duane

First we have the assumption that…

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Upcycled Tealight Holders

I think it’s a shame that so many jam jars and tin cans just get thrown away when they’re empty. Here’s what I’ve started to do with all mine.

Recycled Tin Can Tealight Holder

First I ate the grapefruit, then I upcycled the empty tin can. After washing and drying it, I wrapped garden twine and ribbon around the tin can, securing the ends with a dab of glue. It makes an attractive, natural looking tealight holder.

Recycled Jam Jar Tealight Holder

This is a fabulous way of recycling an empty jam jar. I simply used garden wire to make the shape of the heart and the handle, then wrapped garden twine all around the wire. This upcycled jam jar tealight holder looks great outside. I’d like to hang it from a tree branch with lots of others, but I haven’t got a big enough tree in my garden.

These are just a couple of ideas for recycling empty jam jars and tin cans. There are many more ways of recycling old glass jars and tin cans. The possibilities are endless.

Favourite Photos

Here are some photos that I’ve taken, that I really like, but have not had the chance to use on my blog.

I'm Keeping An Eye On You!

I’m Keeping An Eye On You!

William Wizzing!

William Wizzing!

I Love Tulips

I Love Tulips

On Holiday In Wales.

On Holiday In Wales.

William And I In Granny's Hot Tub

William And I In Granny’s Hot Tub

A Watercolour And Thread Picture.

A Watercolour And Thread Picture.


I Love Growing Tulips.

I Love Growing Tulips.

"Are You Sure I'm Big Enough For This Slide, Muuumm"?

“Are You Sure I’m Big Enough For This Slide, Muuumm”?

Homegrown Tomatoes Ripening On The Window Sill.

Homegrown Tomatoes Ripening On The Window Sill.

William Took This Photo Of Tractor Tyre Marks On A Walk.

William Took This Photo Of Tractor Tyre Marks On A Walk.

A 60 Minute Education. And Then The Rest!

Every child is born to be something; something talented. It is a parents duty to discover, allow and nurture that talent…whatever it may be!

We have four learning days a week, every week. During the morning of a learning day, my 6 year old son and I spend 60 minutes sitting at the table, learning our numbers and letters, times tables and handwriting, sums and spelling. We believe that four hours a week is all that is required to match the actual amount of similar learning that is achieved by an average 6 year old in a classroom setting, during a typical school week.

But this is not the only learning that we do.

One of our main reasons for home educating William was our belief that the school taught, government led, national curriculum was far too rigid in its approach, too assessment based, and too narrow-minded and restrictive in its deliverance, with very little scope for tailoring to individual interests, needs or talents.

A Picture

So, what we really like most about home educating our son, is that he has the opportunity to go on an amazing learning journey, where he is free to wander in whichever direction he wants to, staying in certain places of interest for however long he chooses, and quickly scrambling over vast expanses of dull terrain that he need never have to think about ever again.

Along with the essential, school type learning that William does, he also keeps an ‘Out And About’ scrapbook/journal, which he writes in regularly. He really enjoys taking photos and drawing pictures to stick into it. He delights in showing it to friends and family, and anybody else who comes to the house.

We love books, and spend about an hour reading library books, information books, magazines, comics, nursery rhymes and jokes everyday – not just on learning days. Sometimes we read on the sofa, sometimes on one of the beds, and sometimes we read in the garden. Occasionally we’ll build a den and read in there. Usually I’ll read a story to William first, then he’ll practice his reading. Then we’ll flick through some pages of an information book, mostly looking at the pictures and reading a few interesting facts. At the moment William likes finding out about dinosaurs, space and big buildings. We tend to end our reading hour by reading and acting out funny nursery rhymes and jokes. William also enjoys me reading a bedtime story to him most nights.

Other activities that we like to do on learning days include playing word games, like hangman, playing card games, board games, doing calculator practice, playing educational computer games and maths practice. We also have lots of building fun, playing with Lego and building blocks.

Painting A Picture

William also likes to paint really colourful pictures, inside and out in the garden. He also spends time crafting at the table, cutting things up and sticking them all back together in a strange fashion, to make futuristic buildings and alien houses.

We always have a big learning project on the go, which we work on whenever William wants to. William picks the project and we all work on it together. For our first big learning project, we turned Great granny’s dilapidated, old shed into a shop for William. You can read about it here.

As William is enthusiastic about past times, kings and queens, and how children lived in the olden days’, we are currently learning about ‘Victorian Britain’, as an early history topic.

We go to the park most days, play on the swings, the climbing frames and the zipwire. William loves it when we play hide and seek amongst the trees and bushes. And we play football together, even though I’m terrible at it. Sandbach park and library can be very quiet on school days, which can be nice, but sometimes it’s also good to go on saturday mornings, when the market is on. The park is busier then, and there are more children there for William to play with.

Some of our learning is structured, but much of it is not. This mixed approach to home education suits us as a family. We feel that a little bit of routine on a daily basis helps us to focus on the essential aspects of education, like numeracy and literacy.

I’m a big believer in life-long learning, and want to ensure that Williams passions, curiosities and thirst for knowledge do not diminish as the years go by. I never want him to stop asking questions. I hope that by making learning fun, natural and always accessible, William will go through life always wanting to know more: more about topics that interest him, more about how the world around him works, more about everything.

Learning shouldn’t be a closed book, just because you’ve left school with a list of exams you’ve passed.

I strongly believe that it is my responsibility as a parent, and no-one elses, to ensure that my son receives a level of education that I feel he is entitled to. As I felt dissatisfied, disheartened and uninspired with the education which William was recieving at school, I had to act on my gut instinct as a parent, and I had to take my son out of that educational environment. 9 months on, I am really glad that I followed my gut instinct.

Learning Project – Shop

It’s been a long time since I blogged specifically about home education and our learning journey. It’s not that we haven’t been learning, I just haven’t done much blogging.

We dipped twine into a mixture of paint and glue, then stuck it down to make the letters.

We’ve been home educating our son, William, who’s 6 and a half, for 8 months now, and a few months ago we accidentally started our first big learning project. It all began when we acquired a bigger shed. We emptied our little shed and half filled the big shed. We wondered what to do with the little shed. We were definitely going to keep it, as it’s sort of a family heirloom. It was first built around 20 years ago, and lived in Great Granny’s garden. Then, when Great Granny no longer needed it, it came to live with us. That was several years ago. This shed has survived many house moves, been dismantled and fixed together again, been pushed around the garden when it needed moving and we couldn’t be bothered to dismantle it, and been battered by the British weather for 20 years. The shed wasn’t looking it’s best. But we loved it. So, we wondered what to do with it. Then, William said, “I want it to be my shop”.

So, we based our first big learning project around turning Great Granny’s dilapidated, old shed into William’s shop.

Great Granny's Old Shed

William helped Dad build an extension on the side of the shed. They knocked one of the windows out, so that William can climb through onto the top of the extension. This is his lookout, where he watches out for customers coming.

Then William and I painted it, outside and in. We made some paper chain decorations out of old magazine pages cut into strips. We covered the ceiling inside with old hessian bean sacks.



Paper Chain

During the weeks we spent fixing and decorating Granny’s shed we did some written work on our project. William learnt about money: ancient coins, old money, new money, how money is made, and how to count money.

Learning Money

Little Shop Of Curios

Shop Party

William also wrote about how we turned Great Granny’s old shed into the ‘Little Shop Of Curios’. We chose some products to make that we could sell in the shop, and bought some items. We made finger puppets, rock paperweights, made ‘Moon Rock’, found some books and little toys that William no longer wanted, and filled a bargain bucket. We bought lots of sweets, made some sweet cones out of left over wallpaper and filled them up. William wrapped some garden pebbles in kitchen foil to make the ‘Moon Rock’, and told his friends he’d had a special delivery from the moon. He sold the moon rock for 1p each, buy-one-get-one-free.

Price List

We held a grand opening party for the shop. William wrote invitations to his friends, family and neighbours, and also organised some games with prizes.



On the day of shop party we made some homemade lemon fizz and baked some Gingerbread Men. Granny baked some lovely cupcakes. Everyone had a drink and a goody on arrival. Once everyone had played some games and had a drink and a goody, William cut the ribbon and declared his shop open.

Cutting The Ribbon

Announcing The Winner Of The Sweet Jar

Announcing The Winner Of The Sweet Jar

We had a hook the duck game – 10p a go. You hooked a duck, then picked a sock off the washing line. Every sock had a prize. Some had sweets in, others had balls of scrunched up newspaper in. William thought it was really funny when someone won a sock with paper in. We also had a ‘Guess How Many Sweets Are In The Jar’ game. It was 10p a go, and the winner won the jar of sweets. One of Williams older friends was in charge of the sweet jar game. Some of the older children also helped William with the money in the shop. William was brilliant at selling, but not so good at giving customers the correct change. I really liked that the older children were helping William and looking out for the younger ones. It felt marvellous to see William so confident, happy and proud during his shop party.

Williams smile gets bigger and bigger as his money bowl gets fuller. All those 10p’s add up!

William loved that his friends and neighbours enjoyed the party games, he was so natural at selling, and made sure his friends dug deep into their pockets that day. He was absolutely delighted with how much money he made in just 1 hour.

Shop Party Takings

Thank you to everyone who came. The party was a wonderful way to wrap up a very special learning project.

Home schooling – where do you find the courage?

I have rebloged this post by Ross Mountney, as I think the advice in it is fantastic and encouraging for anyone who is considering home educating their child.

Ross Mountney's Notebook

People say to me sometimes ‘I’d like to home educate but cannot find the courage to do something so unusual and out of mainstream’.

My answer: You usually get to the point where you feel so strongly there’s no choice; you’re moved to do it, usually by strong gut feelings and principles – they’re worth listening to.

But if you’re considering home education and are looking some rational ways to make the leap here are some tips:

–          Research. Find out as much as you can about it. Home schooling approaches vary as much as parenting approaches so it’s a good idea to look at a variety of sites. There are formal ones giving information and statistics and there are home educating family blogs that give a mass of ideas, approaches and activities which build up a picture of how it works. Having information and understanding is the first…

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