The holidays are almost here – school is out soon – and we go camping for a few days on our way to spend Christmas with my brother and his family.

We got into the Christmas spirit early this year because we were having so much fun putting together the Celebration issue of Action Pack – we created a silvery christmas tree and decorated it with handmade baubles. We also made a nature wreath, did some pavlova taste testing and have been baking ginger snaps as gifts (the recipes and tutorials for these projects appear in the Action Pack along with 20 other projects – it’s a whopper! find out more here).

Getting into all of these projects really kick started our summer of fun (yes it’s summer here) and my son is obsessed with making wire ornaments, while my daughter is hell bent on using up all my embroidery floss to make friendship bands for everyone.

  • This past weekend as well as baking up a storm by making more ginger snaps, I also made Pfeffernüsse for the first time – and they were delicious – I used Martha’s recipe (pictured above).
  • I moved around some furniture and did a bit of spring clean in the mud room and the children’s reading space – I have a big box of things to donate to charity – and I will be adding more coming up to Christmas – its a great time for a clean out – getting ready to start the next year fresh and organised.
  • I read slow love* (a book about finding yourself – I liked it – thoughtful and meditative – this memoir is about a woman who finds solace in her creativity – gardening and cooking and writing after a busy career ends).
  • I made a few lists – we did a flow chart – so we feel more organised and less chaotic – and can plan and prepare towards our goals.
  • I researched more bauble and decoration tutorials – because the kids are so into it that we need to make something new next weekend.
  • We harvested half of the garlic.
  • I spent some time on etsy.
  • Enjoying How to dress for success** – some of the fashion advice from when this book was first published in the 60s is surprisingly still valid today (other advice is so out of date that it provides a really good chuckle)
  • We went to a party – drank a bit of jungle punch and danced to some golden oldies.
  • The boy kicked it at futsal.
  • I refashioned some clothing for the kiddos, bought some new duds at the op-shop (thrift store) and cleared out my closet of the dust gathering garments.
  • Thats about it really – what did you get up to?
Now here are some of those ornaments tutorials I have been researching … get making!
More holiday crafting

*slow love by Dominique Browning (published by Plume 2011) was sent to me by the publisher – the link to Amazon is an affiliate link.

**How to dress for success by Edith head, (was originally published in 1967, this reprint is published by Abrams 2011) was provided by Allen and Unwin Australia. Links are Amazon affiliate links.


This week has been pretty hectic – with self-imposed deadlines and kids end of year school events. I started some holiday gift baking this weekend – what about you? Any recipe recommendations? Presents for neighbours, teachers and friends – a foodie gift is perfect and the end of the year is really sneaking up!

Cookies in a jar || Candied Ginger || Lavender salt || Herbs de provence (pictured – top right) || Lavender sugar || Soup in a jar || Honey and nuts  (pictured – top centre)||

Beetroot relish || Tomato paste || Bacon jam || Spice rub || Christmas butter ||

Polish cookies (pictured – below centre) || Wholemeal cookies || Shortbread  || Cranberry orange shortbread

Raw truffles || Swirly peppermint bark || Caramels (pictured – below right) || Date and rum bonbons || Chocolate salami || Fudge in a jar ||

Alsatian cake: Kugelhopf(pictured top left – I am making this – this weekend) || Kerala plum cake || Stollen || Panforte || Honey cake || Panettone || Christmas london cake || Date and cinnamon tart (pictured bottom left)

KIDDO FOOD GIFTS (to make and eat) :: Give your kids the gift of food
Stained glass window cookies || Pancake mix in a jar || Popcorn || Lollypops || Coconut marshmallows || Cranberry pistachio chocolate bark || Hot chocolate stir sticks || Nutella ||


So much is always going on – do you find it difficult to keep up?

This last week I launched by book at the local bookstore and the blog tour finished up. Its been a busy week and then some. Personally it has been busy too – we are gearing up for the end of the school year here in Australia, plus holidays and Christmas – plays and concerts – decorations and cooking – no wonder I feel a bit overwhelmed. So its time to slow down – spend time with family, not go crazy with shopping and over indulging – instead remember the important things in life – family and health, love and creativity.

[On that note – happy thanksgiving to my USA readers.] 

Here are some back to basics ideas to keep you grounded leading up to this busy and stressful time of the year. Grab a cuppa and follow along…

In other news:

  • My crafternoon book series blog tour is still on – follow along for a chance to win and to see what’s inside these fabulously creative craft books for kids. Also if you were a fan of the Sewing Crafternoon book – the Limby dolls on the cover – designed by Lizette Greco and family are available for sale.
  • I didn’t have time to properly review a fun new kids book that I had the pleasure of being sent – but I highly recommend this book for little ones – its sweet and fun – the kids will adore it – Parrot Carrot (by Jol and Kate Temple and Jon Foye, published by Allen and Unwin), is a wonderfully illustrated picture book – with its own iphone app (developed by Leo Burnett)- check it out.
  • Another book I wanted to tell you about –  ‘Love injections‘ about extraordinary ways to surprise the one you love.
  • I am excited about Dana’s new book
  • Shhh … EcoMilf has 12 days of giveaways coming up (28th of November to the 9th of December) – and you have a chance to win Action pack over there too – amongst lots of other cool things.
  • This Holiday season Loeffler Randall is partnering with creative New York women who inspire them – this week Denise Porcoro, owner of Flower Girl NYC, shows us how to make this beautiful DIY Holiday Wreath.



Michele Pacey merrily explores the crafty possibilities of simple materials (especially those found in her recycling bin) on her blog: (Michele Made Me). She has just recently opened a little tutorial and pattern shop: (The Tute ‘n Pattern).

A Milk Carton Sun Wreath

In my world, the ideal craft is like a treasure-hunt-science-experiment. It involves scrounging around the house for something I already own, and then taking that thing and turning it into something else entirely. There’s so much fun in that, I find. My crafty adventures very often lead me here, to my basement, where I park my significant recyclable stash, a collection of junk from toilet rolls to candy wrappers and everything in between. And, speak of the devil, here’s a little family of empty milk cartons just waiting to come into their own. Come on. I have an idea… Let’s build something together.

Tutorial: Milk Carton Sun Wreath

For this project you will need:

  • 3 empty and clean milk cartons
  • String
  • Cereal Box
  • Ribbon
  • Large-eyed needle
  • Pair of scissors/Exacto knife
  • Ruler
  • Marker (I love my Sharpie)
  • Carpenter’s glue
  • Circle templates (I used two different bowls)

1. Use an Exacto knife to remove both the tops and bottoms from all three milk cartons. Clean up the edges with scissors if necessary.

2. With a marker, draw pairs of horizontal lines around each milk carton as follows:
Milk Carton 1 (MC1): draw lines at 2 inches (5 cm) and 2-1/2 inches (6.4 cm)
Milk Carton 2 (MC2): draw lines at 2-3/4 inches (7 cm) and 3-1/8 inches (8 cm)
Milk Carton 3 (MC3): draw lines at 3-1/2 inches (9 cm) and 3-3/4 (9.5 cm)

3. For each milk carton: make a set of vertical cuts every 3/16 inches (4 mm) all around each carton and from the top edge of the carton to the nearest marker line. Do not cross the marker line while cutting. You must not cut through the zone between the two marker lines. Flip the milk carton over, and make a second set of vertical cuts from the top edge of the carton to the nearest marker line. Again do not cross the line. (Step 3 will take some time. Be patient, do one milk carton at a time, have a spot of tea with cookies, and keep at it!)

4. Once a carton is cut up, work the zone between the marker lines with your fingers, until the carton is nicely rounded.

5. Now, fold down all the rays to make a double-layered sun shape. Repeat steps 4 to 5 for Milk Cartons 2 and 3.

6. With your scissors, cut open Milk Carton 2 (MC2). Thread a large eyed-needle with some string. Use the needle to poke a hole in each side of MC2. Thread the string through these holes.

7. Now slip MC2 around MC1 between the top and bottom rays of MC1 and bring the string around and over the rays of MC1.

8. Tie off the ends of the string with a tight knot so that MC2 is nestled snuggly around MC1. Trim the ends of the string.

9. Repeat steps 6 through 8 with Milk Carton 3.

10. Draw out a ring on a cereal box using your circle templates (or some bowls). The ring must be larger than the diameter of the inner hole of the wreath. Cut out the ring. Glue it with carpenter’s glue to the back of your wreath. This will help the wreath hold its lovely round shape.

Behold! You have successfully wrested a wreath from those old milk cartons. Add a pretty ribbon, hang up your wreath, and enjoy!


November (and a little bit into December) is book month at

The Art-Full Tree; ornaments to make.  Jan Gilliam and Christina Westenberger.  The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2011.

If your thoughts are turning to decorating your tree this year, you might like to have a look at The Art-Full Tree, which is inspired by objects in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.

The book begins with a quick history of the museum, that was started by Abby Aldrich Rockerfeller who started collecting and exhibiting folk art in the 1920’s, at a time when common crafts and amateur arts were not highly valued.  She left her collection to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and this collection forms the core of the current Folk Art Museum in Willamsburg, Virginia.

The museum has had a long and treasured tradition of decorating a holiday tree every year with ornaments made by staff, volunteers and guests of the museum.  Some of these ornaments are inspired by items in the collection, and others are based on the skills of each contributor.

The Art-Full Tree presents 33 ornament projects that have been inspired by some of the most popular items in the museum collection.  The book is an interesting combination of museum catalogue, inspiration notebook, project instructions and stitch guide and template sections.

Each project features the original artwork, with a short history of the item and some information on the artist or style of art.  There is a very detailed materials list, and step by step instructions and photographs on making each ornament.

There is a wide range of crafting techniques used in the creation of the ornament projects, including needlepoint, paper craft, punch needle embroidery, foil work, metal punching, painting and collage.  My favourite ornaments are Recycled-Card star (inspired by a compass design quilt), Scherenscnitte Birds (inspired by a cutwork picture), and Aluminium Butterfly (inspired by a metal weathervane).

I really like the process of taking a formal artwork in a formal setting, that is meaningful to the people around it, and appropriating all or part of the work to inspire the creation of anther objet, in this case tree ornaments.  I feel that readers of The Art-Full Tree will be inspired to look around them, in their local museums, public spaces, or around their own treasured and meaningful objects, and to create ornaments for their own family trees that are small and perfect reminders of things that they love.

To win a copy of The Art-Full Tree, please leave a comment on this review.  The comments will be open for 72 hours, and a winner will be selected at random.  Good luck!  Congratulations to Becky!

About the reviewer: Kate is a busy mother of four with many craft projects on the go, including, but not limited to, crochet, knitting, sewing, dyeing, paper making, spinning, felting and bookbinding. Kate has challenges in the areas of finishing things, saying no and craft supplies storage. She also has a very very patient and tolerant husband.