Welcome to the Goose In The Woods blog, I hope you will find something here to keep you reading a while. I created Goose In The Woods because I cannot find a blog like it; a blog on mixed interests, one without 100% perfect pictures all the time and one where I’m not an expert at anything either, I’m just a normal girl living an average life and muddling through in a cloud of emotions and daydreams. Goose In The Woods will be true to life, the unedited photos, the craft projects that didn’t go to plan and the scary reality of life with anxiety. It might not be pretty and pink, there’ll be muddy boots a plenty and tears guaranteed, but it’s real and I hope you will join me for my adventure.
It’s that time of year again when there are tempting bushes, ripe with blackberries, around every corner and I can never resist heading out with my traditional washed out ice cream pot to collect as many as I can. The berries just look so juicy and although the bushes are full of thorns, and scratches are inevitable, I just love harvesting these free gems of nature. This year I was lucky enough to have a huge bramble bush grow just next to my house and I frequently checked it to see when the berries were dark and ripe, and as soon as they were I rushed out with my pot, thoughts of blackberry crumble already in mind!
Once gathered up I took my blackberries inside and let them soak in some cold water to get rid of any nasty weevils that might be living in the berries. Some years are better than others for weevils and likewise the location of the bushes can dictate the number of weevils in the berries. I was pleased to find my collection this time around was pretty much weevil free! Weevil test passed with flying colours I popped the berries into a freezing pot and squeezed them into the freezer as I didn’t have any apples on hand to make my crumble right away. Of course it’s always better to use fresh rather than frozen, but nature doesn’t wait for anyone and blackberries will become over-ripe out in the sun, or mouldy left in the fridge. Plus I find frozen berries to have an extremely pleasing aesthetic to them, but maybe that’s just me!
Unfortunately my natural apple supply from the neighbours tree overhanging my garden was eradicated last year by new neighbours, much to my annoyance, so I had to rely on the supermarket for three good size bramley apples to form the base of my apple and blackberry crumble. With all the ingredients at my side it was time to start the baking. Into a big bowl I put 8oz of plain flour, 4oz of sunflower baking margarine and 4oz of sugar, plus a handful of oats to make it a nice chunky crumble topping. I rubbed all the ingredients together with my fingers until they formed breadcrumbs and then I turned my attention to the fruit. After peeling and slicing the apples I layered them into a baking dish with the blackberries straight from the freezer and put the crumble mix on top. A quick pat down and a scattering of oats on top for good measure and the crumble was ready to pop in the oven. I baked it for about 45 minutes until the top was crisp but not burnt.
Once it had cooled slightly and I could resist the delicious fruity smell no longer, I dished up servings of the crumble and topped with hot custard. Ice cream, cream or evaporated milk would make a great topper too and would make the dish more Summer themed as crumble is usually a good Winter warmer, but good fruit is not usually in season then. And there it was, my first blackberry picking expedition and crumble of the season. I’m sure I’ll be off out again soon to stock up the freezer with more of natures harvest while they are perfectly ripe, it seems to be a good year for them this year. Why not grab yourself some free fruit from our hedgerows and forests and make a summer fruit medley or crumble yourself this season? Don’t forget to leave a few berries for our wild birds and mice though!
Emily the Forest Dweller.
In case you were not already aware, the UK bee population is in crisis and declining every year. Of all creatures on Earth the bee is definitely one we don’t want to lose as they are largely responsible for the pollination of our crops and food sources, and as one of my most worn t-shirts says on the front; if they die, they’ll take us all with them. The bees get a tough time these days with our widespread pesticide use and sudden distaste for flowery country gardens it seems all odds are against them. But with just 5 minutes and a tiny amount of cash we can all do our bit to help them and it’s oh-so simple and effective.
Flowers. Bees need flowers, and lots of them. Simply plant some bee friendly flowers in your garden and you’ll have done your bit to help these busy pollinators on their way. It doesn’t even have to be a lot of flowers, just a square metre of garden space or a large container filled with the right seeds can be just the boost the bees need. There are so many lists online that state which flowers are a bees favourite and there’ll be something on the list for everyone to love and squeeze into their garden. As a general rule bees love purple flowers such as lavender and buddleia because they can see the colour purple clearest of all. Another thing they love are tubular shaped flowers such as foxgloves. These are a personal favourite of mine and are great for showing kids the way bees use flowers as it’s great fun to watch the bees sneak in and out of them for nectar. If you want top marks from the bee brigade then you can’t do better than planting a mixture of flowers that bloom at different times throughout the year so there is always something available. A mix of forget-me-nots, aquilegias and fuchsias in the garden could easily do the trick.
Here is my little patch of cornflowers I grew from seed this year to help the bees. It’s not much but I also have buddleia bushes, lavenders and foxgloves planted in my flower beds and have patches of wildflowers here and there too. In Spring my garden comes alive with daffodils and early flowering plants to help those first few bees out after winter. Just this one box of cornflowers makes a difference though and it’s always alive with bees and butterflies as you can see from my photos. For the price of a packet of seeds, some soil from the end of the garden and an old box scavenged from a skip, I made a difference to the lives of Britain’s bees and you can too. Please plant for our pollinators, they need us now more than ever!
Thanks for reading,
Emily The Forest Dweller.
A strange title and an even stranger analogy you might be thinking, but let me explain before you go. I suffer from severe anxiety and it affects me daily. It’s always a struggle to explain why I can’t just see the reason and logic like everybody else and believe things are going to be okay. So I compared it to an ant in a herd of elephants. It’s not a comparison you’re just going to understand unexplained but once you do understand it, I think it’s a pretty good way to imagine it, or it is for me at least.
So lets begin with the ant. He represents the logic in a situation, the thing most likely to happen and things being alright once this worrying event has passed.
Then come the elephants, they represent the anxiety, all the worries and ‘what if’s’ that float about and cloud our minds.
This bit is where the analogy makes a little bit of sense, hopefully!
I (an anxiety sufferer) and someone without anxiety are each looking at a wide open plain. They can see the ant clearly on their plain and they know exactly where he is because there are no elephants in the way, nothing to block the view. Maybe sometimes he hides under a leaf so they can’t see him for a while but more or less he’s always there.
Then there’s my plain, never without an elephant and often with so many crowding it, it becomes hard to see the ground at all. Where’s the ant? There are hoards of elephants and there’s no hope of seeing the ant in there. It seems like he doesn’t exist at all, and I may give up finding him in favour of being swept up by the herd of elephants. The other person can’t see these elephants, can’t understand why I can’t pick out the ant in the plain.
When people say ‘it’s going to be okay’ to me it’s the equivalent of that other person pointing vaguely into my melee of elephants and saying ‘the ant is right there, look’. It doesn’t make any difference. I can’t see the ant just because you say he’s there. I can’t believe he’s there if I’ve never seen him.
If the elephants left, I’d see the ant, and I would believe it would be okay. But they never leave and so the ant is always out of sight and I am always worried. And that is how trying to stay calm and logical with anxiety is like trying to see an ant in a herd of elephants. You just can’t. But maybe one day those elephants will wander off and I’ll see my ant again. I can only hope.
I recently learned of junk journalling when customers on my Etsy store started buying my products to use in their junk journal projects. A few internet searches later and I was in love with the idea and desperate to start constructing one myself (as if I needed another hobby)! So after watching a few tutorials and reading up online I decided on a method and began.
First of all I found an empty book cover that was left over from other crafting exercises and making shop products. I chose this large one because it had plenty of room for pages and it was clean and a lovely tan colour. The scruffy edges where the pages were taken out can easily be covered over with ribbon and decoration later on and so are not a big issue for me. I know some people like to start from scratch and not use an old cover but for my first try I thought it would be much easier.
The second thing I found was a selection ‘junk’ pages taken from books, scavenged from around the house or purchased for the sole purpose of junk journalling. I chose to use vintage pages and sort of scruffy looking ones to give it the older, messier kind of look I saw online, but I know lots of people use modern day paper scraps such as take-away flyers and business envelopes. It’s something I’d like to try in the future as well, especially if I could gather an assortment of pages related to a specific holiday or event and then use the finished journal to write about it inside. With my selection of pages all sorted out I began to fold them all and trim little bits off of the edges so they would fit in the book cover neatly, I really do hate overhanging pages!
Once I had my pages all ready I sorted them into little bundles of around six sheets or so and layered them up. In order to keep them together and make my journal as sturdy as possible I decided on the stitching option to hold my little bundles together. After piercing guide holes through all of the sheets, I put three large stitches in my first bundle by hand using an embroidery needle and some linen thread. It would have been much easier to use a sewing machine for that part but they seemed secure enough so I continued this sewing method until I had made around 10 stitched up page bundles.
The next thing I did was start to arrange the page bundles in my book cover to see how well they fitted and if I’d need any more. I discovered the ones I had fitted well, and they did fill most of the gap, but I saw room for more and the more the merrier, right? So this is where I’m at now, you can see me shuffling bundles in and a few loose pages I’m yet to sew into bundles. Over all I’m super happy with how it’s going and I can’t wait to stick the bundles into the cover and begin adding pockets and decorations! Once I’m done finding new pages and I start sticking in I’ll be back to show you how it’s coming along so watch out for part two!
Bye for now,
Emily The Forest Dweller.
Washi tapes have fast become a staple of all stationery drawers and can be found across the internet used in all sorts of projects, and it’s not hard to see why. With such a vast range of styles, sizes, colours and patterns there is a never ending supply to fuel the hoarding habits of many crafters. Pretty as they may be, they are not cheap in most online and retail shops, with one roll setting you back at least a couple of UK pounds. It doesn’t seem like much, but add it up over a collection like mine of around 40 rolls and you’re looking at around £80 spent on some colourful masking tape! But fear not for I have a few quick tips on how to build your washi collection without spending a fortune, my stash below comes in at well under the £20 mark and I’ve acquired them all in a fairly short space of time. So read on my budget crafting friends!
Tip One: Buy in bulk
Whilst a few of my tapes are more expensive, hand picked ones I bought at my local craft shop, most are from bulk bundles bought online or in pound stores on the high street. Bundles of tapes sold as mystery selection or just as large job lots are usually so much cheaper than picking out individual styles and you get the fun of never knowing what you’re getting. Yes, you may get doubles or triples in your rolls but I recently bought a pack of 10 rolls of tape for just £1 at a local unbranded pound store! No one can argue with the value in that, I got 6 styles of tape in that bundle, all for £1, and my doubles can easily be sent to pen pals or just used up over time. The same goes for buying mystery bundles online on some of our most well known auction sites. The tapes often come from abroad and may take some time to arrive in the post but it’s such great fun to open up your package and see which designs you got! Of course the big down side of mystery buying is you’re unlikely to get your favourite style, so be prepared for that, but you save a load of cash in the long run and build up a good collection fast, besides you can easily splash out every once in a while on that extra special washi you’ve been eyeing up!
Tip Two: Check the size of the rolls
This one is especially important when shopping online as many sneaky sellers will hide the roll size at the bottom of a page or in a blurry photograph. Sometimes something that seems like a great deal will turn out to be pretty rubbish when you see how much you’re really getting for your money. Rolls usually come in 10, 5 or 3 metres but can be other sizes too such as ‘tester’ size of 1 metre or less which won’t last long at all. Watch out for hidden sizes and misleading photographs that make rolls look much bigger than they really are and double check that great deal before you buy to avoid being disappointed.
Tip Three: Look where you least expect it
We all know of some big retailers on the UK high street and online sites where washi can be found in huge stashes but to get the best deals and some unusual designs you need to look in some different locations. Bargain shops such as pound stores and cut price outlets often offer cheap alternatives to the popular branded tapes at less than half the price. I recently picked up three rolls of fabric washi for £1 whilst browsing in a local pound store for other items. They were hidden away on a bottom shelf and hadn’t even been touched. Make sure you search all around any stores you think might potentially carry washi tape lines as sometimes they will sell them off cheap if they’ve not sold many. The same goes for discontinued lines, if shops have only one or two of a specific style left they’ll often put them on a reduced to clear aisle to clear room for new stock and you’ll be able to pick up a unique tape for bargain prices. The same goes for reduced lines on websites and during sales, you’ve got to be on the ball and checking regularly to nab that kitty cat washi at a discount price.
So there are my top three tips for buying bargain washi on a budget, I hope you’ve learned something new to help you pick up a few more tapes for your collection. Below is my current and ever expanding stash of washi tapes and a stick from the forest I am attempting to store them on, I think I may need a couple more, don’t you?
Goodbye and Good Luck washi hunters.
Emily The Forest Dweller. 🙂