Several things

by kath_red on 13/12/2012

in Newsletter

Just a few things that are on my mind and on my to-do list. [In preparation for a year long road trip — count down 4 weeks to go]

  • Tax … almost have this ticked off, just a few things to finish off before sending it off to my accountant.
  • New homes ~ Piano … hopefully we have someone willing to give our old and heavy piano a new home. Ditto to our Muscovy duck family, looking for a new home for them right now. Freecycle is great isn’t it?! (we also just found a new home for our son’s loft bed).
  • All the musicales and recitals and shows are finishing up this week, just two more events and then we are done for the year.
  • In the middle of a pile of boxes, a trailer load full and ready to go to the tip, bags of things to take to the second hand shop. Feeling slightly overwhelmed for sure.
  • Craft supplies, fabric, quilts — all packed up. But have left a sewing machine out for last minute repairs, projects and ideas. Need to cut down some sheets and make some fitted sheets for camping stretchers for kids.

Books to finish up the year … maybe add to your christmas wish list!?

Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Crochet and Encyclopedia of Knitting [Leisure Arts]. I very much like both of these books. They are big! And include lots of stitch diagrams, charts, sweater patterns and tutorials. I love the baggy hat in the knitting books and the circle blanket in the crochet book.

Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit by Creek Stewart [Betterway Books (May 18, 2012)]. Seriously great book for survivalists, or weekend campers. ‘Bugging out': to abandone your home due to unexpected emergency. Not such an unlikely scenario. Did you know that pretty much all of New Zealand is prepped for disaster with a 72 hour survival kit. So This book will show you the best multi-use items to have in your bug out bag as well as tell you how to use them.

The Twelve Knits of Christmas by Fiona Goble [Andrews McMeel Publishing (October 30, 2012)]. Based on the song ’12 days of christmas’, lots of fun and cute knits in here, and you can sing along as you knit!

Drawing Comics Lab: 52 Exercises on Characters, Panels, Storytelling, Publishing & Professional Practices by Robyn Chapman [Quarry Books (November 1, 2012)] Not just another how-to-draw book. This book covers the whole gamut of constructing a comic — the storyline, creating the atmosphere and characters, developing your style and personality, how to tell stories. Plus lots of examples and exercises — great gift for the budding comic book author. I really liked this book!

In the Studio with Angela Walters: Machine-Quilting Design Concepts Add Movement, Contrast, Depth & More [C&T Publishing (December 16, 2012)]. Oh what a treat this book is. One of the most useful books on machine quilting at home I have seen in a while. It includes styles, methods and purposes of quilting as well as providing patterns and lots of examples and how-tos. Love the sketchbooks too!

Cool things that I like

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Giving handmade gifts at this time of year can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand it is so lovely to devote yourself to handmade gift giving, on the other hand where did all the time go?!

You might want to make a big batch of these ginger cookies — wrap them in pretty ribbon and give half a dozen to all your friends — also makes a great hostess or teacher gift! This ginger snap cookie recipe is from the Celebration mega issue of Action Pack from last year, and contains a whole bunch more cookie recipes and holiday decorations from around the world. Click on the link above to take you to a print ready pdf of the recipe.


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Can you feel the energy that this time of year brings? There is almost a vibration in the air as everyone gears up for end of year events, school performances, end of year concerts, parties, dinners, picnics and pool parties for some and snow days and fireside warm drinks for others. It feels so frantic but exciting and fun too. There are secretive packages being stowed, and holiday cooking in action, the tree and decorations come out, holiday drinks are mandatory (and some songs too). What are you doing at this time of year? are you up to your eyeballs or trying hard to avoid it all?

W generally try to have a pretty low key Christmas, we have a tree, and big lunch and we exchange presents, I bake. This year we are in the midst of packing up our house for our road trip next year, and so we will be even more minimal than usual — not a lot of baking (and it has become hot here already) but we will have our favourite ginger cookies (which I included in our Celebration Action Pack from last year).

But naturally I have to have homemade gifts for friends and family (and teachers) — and most everyone will be getting some Homemade Apothecary salves and lotions and bath salts and lip balms.

What are your homemade holiday making plans? I have a couple of pinterest boards you might like for this time of year – DIY holiday crafts and DIY gifts, cards and packaging. I am loving the idea of spices and pinecones and oranges as a holiday theme — simple and natural. Pom pom berry wreath :: toothpick stars :: string art tree :: cardboard roll stars.

Are you planning on giving foodie gifts? Mulling spice packs :: Salted hot caramel mix :: Chai concentrate :: Vanilla caramel sauce :: Homemade Nutella :: Peppermint bark

Stuff I have been doing

  • Book reviews: Push series :: five knitting books :: three textile craft books
  • Mentioned our Year of Reading Out Loud — and posted a book list for 10 years and up for our family to read out loud together.
  • What is a magazine for kids — do you have any favourites or suggestions?
  • At whipup the knitting designer series finished up – and I am thinking of another series for next year — any ideas? Anyone want to contribute?
  • Working through corrections for my upcoming quilt book, will be coming out with Stash mid next year — very excited about this one! (and as you can see from the pic above, I was checking my twitter at the same time!)

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Right now I am immersed in a pile of boxes. Packing for our one year road trip (Jan 2012 to Jan 2013 oops I meant 2013 to 2014 – the whole of next year!). Packing up the house to go into storage is not a simple process, I have been sorting and purging at the same time, but still the stuff that we have collected since we moved here just over 10 years ago is incredible. When we first moved in we had a 1 year old baby, now we have 2 very close to teenage kids — and they sure do have a lot of stuff — and none of it is toys, but there are boxes and boxes (and boxes) of books and board games, and craft supplies and teddies and collections of rocks and carved sticks and bird skeletons and vintage compasses and jewellery making supplies and — “Orlando can I toss out this clay sculpture from second grade?” “no way, you have to pack that carefully — I made that!”.

And so it is these little details — some chaos and some good memories — that make up the big picture.

So a few trips to the charity shop later, a few trailer loads of junk to the rubbish tip, and we are probably only half way there. My husband has decided to spend every waking moment in the shed making camping and storage boxes for our trip, and I have lost all motivation to cook dinner. I know next year … next year … I can relax, I will enjoy sitting by the campfire with a book or a craft project, or else walking along the beach. But that doesn’t help the fact that I feel ever so slightly overwhelmed right now!

So today, I am writing, because that helps calm me, list making is cathartic too, writing lists makes me feel like I am achieving things – I make sure to put finished items on the list so they can be ticked off straight away. Then stuff happens — unexpected things that were not on the list — things that require urgent attention right now. The car breaking down, the computer dying, the ducklings hatching, getting a migraine, and I am back to before I was before … less than no progress at all.

On my list for today: Do my tax (at least find all the paperwork), find out why the online banking is being weird, do three loads of laundry, pack away and sort out children’s clothing, write some blog posts, finish article for magazine, answer some emails, clean the *&%$# kitchen and bathrooms, and I probably should do some groceries soon too.

First though I will take a moment breath … and to enjoy the garden right now — it is at its best at this time of year.

Stuff I have been doing


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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