During most of 2013, Whipup.net will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

Introducing Mary Jo for the month of April :: The theme for this month is functional creativity.

Mary Jo :: Five Green Acres


I like to think of shelter in terms of the things that we put in our houses that transform them into our homes. What are the pieces that convey in a glance a little bit about a home’s inhabitants? Artwork, naturally. Clutter, or lack of. Colors. Linens. Blankets.

That’s where I’d like to zoom in today: blankets. Inside my own home, I find the most profound shelter in my bed. It’s where we pile up if the day gets so beyond the bounds of sanity that we have to ditch the plans and pop in a movie or huddle with books. It’s where I can’t wait to get to by the end of the day; so delicious is that moment where bare toes burrow into the depth of the blankets. And I like my blankets to be weighty, of substance. Forget the rocking chair by the fire; when the kids hit their own pillows I can’t resist the calling of my own, even if sleep is more than an hour away.

On this refuge of a bed, we have a lofty feather comforter and a run-of-the-mill duvet to enclose it, but it is an awkwardly-similar shade of blue as the walls.  And it’s stained — by paws and sticky fingers. So I set about the very practical task of remaking the duvet, expecting to find some new fabric yardage to quickly sew up a new one. There was plenty that would have worked, but, to quote a dear friend’s handy phrase, there was nothing that “sang Bon Jovi to me.” Hee. (I don’t particularly want my bed singing Bon Jovi, but…) So I looked further.


Linen. I will swoon for linen, actual linen from the flax plant. Antique linen? Better. Homespun French Linen from the late 1800s? Best. I found an Ebay store selling that very thing, and I looked through about 37 pages to be sure I found the right one. For my bed. Somewhere on page 12 or so I saw an antique bed sheet that bore an embroidered initial on the bottom corner in red thread. I love the idea of honoring the makers of old, and such a detail would make the linen even better, I thought.

Then I came upon another bed sheet with different initials, which of course obliged me to look through the whole list, trying to find the best match for our own letters. I found one that came close, got excited, and then found this one, which bore both of our initials, prominently displayed on the top, laid out in the order that corresponds to our own sides of the bed. You might have heard me shriek that day, so excited I was. But it wasn’t quite big enough to fit the whole duvet top, so I looked for a complementing piece to add to it. By this time, I was likely through page 20 of the whole store’s listings, so it wasn’t long before I came upon the antique child-size bed sheet that bore not only my own initials, but my favorite magic number. Hot damn. You probably heard me shriek again. Sold.


In keeping with the sparse design of the embroidered initials, I found some fantastic linen embroidery floss in a similar shade of red. (Yes, a sucker for linen I am.) In keeping with the design of my bedroom, I chose to embroider a double wedding ring motif with a simple running stitch. In keeping with the fact that I raise sheep, I chose to add a lofty layer of wool batting between the linen and the duvet top. Though now I worry that it will make the whole blanket sandwich too hot, so I’m considering the option to make it just a quilt, to add or subtract from the feather comforter, or to be used on its own.


I’ve only completed a small portion of it so far but I am floored by how the whole thing has come together as if by divine intervention. The two antique sheets fit the duvet top perfectly when I took them apart at the (lovely handstitched) seams and rearranged the layout. Once finished and put into service on our bed, I imagine it will increase the bed’s magnetic force over me, if that’s even possible. Whatever the case, it will be the most-used of all handmade things in our home, given my requirement for 9 hours of sleep each night. It doesn’t get more functional than that, does it?


During most of 2013, Whipup.net will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

Introducing Mary Jo for the month of April :: The theme for this month is functional creativity.

Mary Jo :: Five Green Acres

Traditionally, the hearth was the physical center of every home, where the fire was kept to provide heat and cook the food. While the physical presence of the hearth remains in some homes today, the spirit of the hearth can be cultivated even if no actual fireplace exists. I like to think of “hearth” then, as the grounding center of the home as well as the presence of heat and light throughout. Depending on the season, you might find yourself either encouraging the presence of the two or keeping them out as much as possible.

Curtains, then seem a natural extension of Hearth, as are candles, lampshades and light fixtures.Thinking specifically of the “light” aspect of hearth, then, I embraced the opportunity to rewire the lamp which illuminates my desk. If you’ve never rewired a lamp before, fear not; you need not be an electrician to do it safely, but you do need to understand a few simple details about how the wiring works. The rest is mostly structural hardware.

Get your hands on a few old (free, thrifted) lamps, start taking them apart, and you’ll quickly understand how they are put together. The threaded hollow tube that is often found running up the center is called a nipple. A nut threads onto the bottom to keep it secured to the lamp base. There’s another nut securing it at the top of the base. The cord runs up through the center, comes out the top, and is wired onto the socket. You must take care to secure the correct wire of the cord to its corresponding screw, but once you know what you’re looking for, it’s an easy task. That’s about all there is to it. I found this tutorial to be a good resource, as well as this one, which has a great explanation in the comments section about identifying the positive and neutral wires.


With this handful of know-how, you could turn just about anything into a light fixture.

Build the hearth
1. Tripod Lamp Tutorial 
2. DIY Chandelier
3. Chandelier to Lamp
4. Repurposed 

Or maybe you’d like to alter just the shade.

1. Rustic Linen Shades
2. Fish Scales
3. Tutorial: Recover a Lampshade
4. Knit Shade Covers 

It’s quite empowering to combine your handmade prowess with old-school-handyman skills, no?


NEW edition of Action Pack Magazine – for EVERYONE!

Family Apothecary – 50+ pages of salves, lotions, balms and crafty projects!

This is an e-magazine – you will receive a download link to a high quality printable pdf [you can save the file to your hard drive and access it, read, and print it anytime and you can view the pdf on a Tablet or iPad].

This issue is pretty amazing – if I do say so myself :) My family and I have had such a lot of fun experimenting and trying out recipes and new (to us) ingredients. I have really enjoyed the process of removing a lot of chemical products from our lives – toothpaste and deodorants for starters (something I have been wanting to do for a long time), and I have loved the smells of herbs and essences pervading the home.


  • An historical name for a medical professional who formulates and dispenses ‘materia medica’.
  • A person who dispensed medicines derived from herbs, plants and roots.
  • One who practices herbalism and sometimes alchemy as well; Ancient word for “pharmacist”.

In our Family Apothecary Action Pack Magazine you’ll find:

[all using herbs and commonly found simple ingredients like beeswax, olive oil and bicarb soda (plus a few special products too — like coconut oil and kaolin clay).]

  • Home herbal medicinal recipes (salves and cold remedies)
  • Eco-home cleaning and freshening ideas (natural cleaning products and washing recipes)
  • Eco beauty treatments (lip balms, creams and hair tonics)
  • Natural personal products (toothpaste and deodorant)

This is an e-magazine – you will receive a download link to a high quality printable pdf [which can also be viewed on a Tablet or iPad].

As well as detailed step-by-step how-to’s you’ll also find a slew of additional tips, ideas and alternative recipes for making some wonderful natural body, home and medicinal products for the whole family — all are easy enough for older kids to try but I know YOU will want to get stuck into this too.

PLUS there are sewing projects — eye mask, sleeping pillow, heat pack and lavender sachets (and more) which are all very easy to make and include detailed instructions.

And there is MORE … Each chapter has fact sheets highlighting some of the products that are used throughout, as well as a printable herbal guide AND each chapter has a page of printable gift tags too!

This is an e-magazine – you will receive a download link to a high quality printable pdf [which can also be viewed on a Tablet or iPad].

Important: The pdf magazine will be automatically delivered via e-mail as soon as your payment is received. The e-mail you receive will include a link to download the file directly to your computer. Please note that the link will only allow you to access the file for a limited period (150 hours or 5 tries), so please make sure to download and save the file on your own computer as soon as you receive it. Lost files may be replaced for a period of 30 days following purchase.


For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

Due to computer issues (broken computer, back up damaged), this issue (and a whole lot of other things that I am too depressed about to discuss) has been delayed. I apologise to those waiting for this issue to come out and I could kick myself for a whole big list of things I could have done differently a couple of weeks ago. Lessons I have learned – stop procrastinating – back up computer regularly – use an external hard drive – be in control. Ack! Good things about no computer though – I have had to let go of some anxiety – what I just could not – can not – control – some lessons indeed! So go and back up your work right now … go!

For many weeks now I have been working on the next edition of Action Pack Magazine – this one is for EVERYONE not just for kids, and I know my whipup audience will especially love it. Family Apothecary – 50+ pages of salves, lotions, balms and crafty projects!


Did you know you can make your own air fresheners and deodorisers for your home using all natural ingredients?


Fill jars with fresh herbs, lemon rinds, orange slices, cinnamon sticks etc, top up with water and leave in various spots around the house to gently scent your home.

Have fun experimenting with different combinations: Lavender, rosemary and lemon; orange, star anise and cinnamon; lime and thyme; Pine needles and bay leaves.


Add fresh herbs and spices, (think cloves, cinnamon sticks and orange rind) to a pot of simmering water and let simmer for a couple of hours. Top up with extra water as you need it. {Try some of the combinations from the Jars of herbs above.}


Place baking soda in an open container in your refrigerators and bathroom to absorb nasty odours.


Dissolve 1/2 a cup of baking soda in 2 cups hot water, add the juice of a lemon, and pour into a spritz bottle and use as spray air freshener.


Light a match for a few moments to soak up bad smelling gases (useful in the toilet) in the air.


Mix a couple of teaspoons of vanilla extract with 2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of baking soda, and use to wipe your fridge, works in the bathroom too!


Sprinkle a cup baking soda mixed lavender essence over your carpets. Leave for half an hour and then vacuum.


Deodorise shoes — in a jar mix 1/2 cup of corn starch (corn flour) with 1/2 cup of baking soda, add a few drops of tea tree oil and clove oil. Put the lid on and shake and mix. Add a few teaspoons to smelly shoes at night.


Action Pack Kids Magazine News


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I have a dilemma … it’s my studio, I love the light and big white walls which I use as a gallery space — but I need more shelves.

I have been pinning at pinterest – check out my studio inspiration boards here … it is a mix of texture, colour, light and storage. What are your priorities when setting up a studio? How much space do you need? Do you crave a warehouse, or do you just want a loft? Do you like a lot of light and big walls or do you like a cosy space filled to the brim with collections and books and textures. I sort of want it all!