Please support the last Action Pack Magazine


I was surprised to find a picture from this project I sent off for the Whip Up Action Pack back in 2013 in my Inbox this morning.

Anyone familiar with Whip Up will know that the publisher, Kathreen Ricketson and her husband Rob both sadly died in an accident two years ago. Days after I sent this project off I received that heartbreaking news. 

With the help of Kathreen's family and friends, that issue is now being published. It will be the last Action Pack Magazine published. 

Whip Up was an incubator for the Internet craft movement. And Kathreen was more than a curator of photos and projects. She was a conversation starter, brilliant writer, editor and maker too. 

Many people met through the community built around Whip Up all those years ago when craft blogs were young. I used to check Whip Up each morning, it was a treat to read before starting my day – I'm sure thousands of others did the same. 

Kathreen and Rob's two children will receive all of the proceeds from the sales of Action Pack. What a lovely tribute it would make to help this issue sell like crazy. Please buy it. Even if you have no children, sit down and get stuck into the projects yourself.

Please spread the word. Learn more about Action Pack Magazine here.  And go here to purchase the latest or past issues.

UPDATE: Sadly, Whip Up and Action Pack are no longer available. It became difficult for friends and family to carry on managing the sites. The Whip Up community will be missed, but I'm personally grateful for friends made there and the countless hours of enjoyable reading both provided.

Go on, go share those links.


Fabric gift box or bag, tutorial – in time for Christmas!

Fabric gift box
Fabric box/bag with unfinished edges

I made a necklace for a friend recently and had no spare box or bag to package it in so I thought it was a good time to try out making a gift box I'd been mulling over in my mind for a while. I used buckram to support this box, which really has more of a bag look to it.

Inside gift box
Inside the box is lined

I'd bought buckram to use for making fairy hats for Gracie when she was younger and somewhat girlier and I massively over bought the stuff. The type of buckram I bought is used for making roll-up shades; it's white, thin and foldable (not sure that word exists). I've thought of many uses for it since then but haven't followed through on any ideas yet apart from this one. I know it exists in heavier, more hessian style weights and I'm sure that would be a great support material for larger jobs.

This box is just a few inches tall. I sandwiched the buckram between two layers of fabric using fusible webbing and I left the edges unfinished. I've created a quick template in the actual size I used but it could easily be scaled up or down. As I uploaded these images the box has reminded me of fabric lunchbags so there are probably similar templates around. If you'd like this one here is the Fabric Box Template and tutorial in a PDF file to download.

I also thought they'd be easy to make for wedding favours, they could be dressed up or down with lace or flowers, buttons, rubber stamps...

Grace car driver

Yesterday was spent on some belated birthday present activity, as you can see, Gracie is way beyond the fairy hat making stage, now she prefers being a "Gracecar" driver ;)

Children went back to school today after half-term break, time to catch up.

Have a great week.


Last tooth & tooth fairy pouch tutorial revisit

The last tooth

Gracie has lost her last primary tooth (wisdom teeth aside). She may not be so sorry to see them go as they were enamel deficient and her adult teeth are not, but it can make a mother a bit sad to be leaving the early years behind.

Tomorrow is also the end of primary school as she embarks on her next stage, the start of secondary school. Butterflies have been gathering in the tummy and we've already had restless nights, but I know she'll be okay. It may take a while to feel settled but I know it will happen – besides, she has that younger sibling advantage of having a brother who will be there for her.
Tooth pouch dual
Tooth pouch tutorial

It's hard to believe I created this tooth fairy pouch pattern and tutorial when Gracie lost her very first tooth, it was also the topic of my very first blog post.
Like lots of parents I'm excited for the children to start a new year but already lamenting the loss of varied routines and kicked off shoes. Tomorrow it's back to packed lunches and early rises, the upside being no "I'm starving!" interruptions followed by the lengthly "your quite capable of making your own lunch" discussions. Really, I miss them already.
Next Sunday is the Wiveliscombe Street Fair as part of the 10 parishes festival. We're really excited about Tris performing a whole set on one of the stages – he's also one of the acts that will be broadcast on the local radio station. So if you're in the Wiveliscombe area next Sunday drop by – it's a great day with loads of food stalls, local ales and cider and music all day. Did I mention the ales? 
Also, I've been trying out the Easy Macro lens for my iPhone. It's such an easy and inexpensive solution to trying to get close up shots with a phone camera. I'll update this space with samples from this new little toy soon. At only $15 plus $5 shipping from the States it's already proving to be well worth the investment. And speaking of investment, I noticed the Macro lens people have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the development of their next lens – I hope they do well.
Time to get dinner on and have an early night, school tomorrow!

PS - Am I the only one Typepad no long gives paragraph breaks to? Sometimes they happen, more often than not, they don't :(

come sail away, a new project and giveaway

Cork sailors - pirates

The latest Action Pack by Whip-Up is out and this special Water Edition is brilliant, not that they aren't all brilliant. It is full of fantastic water-related projects and activities. As usual, this e-mag is great for a varied age range and I know we will be diving into it time and again.

This edition features a recycled boat making project by me*, and also a Cork Sailors and Pirates tutorial that shows how to make little cork people to ride along in the boats. The Cork Sailors and Pirates project is a special free excerpt from this latest e-mag and publisher, Kathreen is offering it up here.


There are so many wonderful contributors and projects jammed between these virtual pages, it's a pleasure to be part of it once again.

As a special treat to regular readers I'm able to offer two free issues as a giveaway courtesy of Kathreen. And as I'm not blogging as much as I once did due to time constraints followers of this space have dwindled so you have a VERY good chance of winning one of these two free editions.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post by next Thursday, March 7, 2013. The winners will receive this e-mag, all 44 excellent, ad-free pages of it! The e-mag will be delivered in PDF form. I will announce the winners on the evening of March 7, 2013 GMT time.

I have several new makes, a sewing pattern review and an artist review all waiting to be posted here but I just had to share this fun Action Pack first and of course, the giveaway. I highly recommend subscribing to Action Pack if you have children still at home, it's well worth every penny! Don't take my word for it, read what other parents say about it here.

Happy Thursday!


*The boat project first appeared in the Green Parent magazine in the June/July 2010.

because you're awesome

Stone trhowin
stone throwing

A happy day to our Halloween birthday girl Gracie. We love you in so many ways. These are a few recent images that are very Gracie. Eleven looks good on you... except in that last photo ;) 

Love you sweet pea.

Mama xoxo

Owl painting
owl painting

Rip stickin
rip sticking

Corpse bride

gifts & blessings

Birthday song
birthday song

Even at the ages of fourteen and 10 my kids still get excited about my birthday and I still don't mind being woken up at the crack of dawn. And I must say the breakfast fare just gets better and better. Coffee in a new cup from my boy with one of his just baked banana & chocolate muffins. And I had the pleasure of Gracie playing Happy Birthday while I blew out the candle.

Morning treat
new mug and Tristan's muffins

 There were more special gifts too, like this Shrinky Dink necklace G made me.

Necklace gift
by Gracie

Later, instead of the beach, we went to the Michaelmas fair at the village church and met up with friends. That would be the vicar there hiding inside the goose suit.

Michaelmas goose fair in the church

The fair gave us a rare chance to climb the bell tower, see the village from above, the Quantocks on one side over to Exmoor and the Blackdown Hills on the other. We were lucky with a super sunny day.

Bell tower
view from the bell tower

Tiny window
tiny window

Edit: oops meant to add this one. We loved this tiny window.

 From the tower

Up the tower
windy at the top

Lovely light
pretty light

Thank you for all those Facebook messages and surprise packages and warmth and good wishes.

Today it's Patty's birthday, love you sis. Then tomorrow it's Dad's, love you too dad.

Hope you have a great week ahead.


autumn begins with silly hats

Last of summer
The last of the summer images have been snapped recently. Some by the river, more at a party for friends. A party that included the most romantic surprise marriage proposal EVER. Congratulations to Naomi and Scott.
Party on
More of some perfect blooms.
But autumn has begun to sneak in. With harvests.
And apples.
And soup making.
Autumn soup already
And back to school this week, not too soon for this little pup.
Because silly hats made from junk out of the recycling bin are not her thing. She's thinking Gracie has too much time on her hands, I'll hide from her between these legs.
Now what?
Didn't hide well enough. Zeesh!
Hope your end of summer has been swell.
See you soon,
PS, Gracie wants you to know that the tiny baseball cap was made with a molded card section from a fruit tray that held peaches and the top hat was made with black card.
Shirring elastic strapped under Pippi's chin kept them each on her head, but then Pippi took them each off about 30 seconds later. Smart dog, disappointed girl.

Somerset, Summertime

Stone walking
Stone walking, by Dianne

Big fossils
Big ammonite impression, by Dianne

Tris and Rufus
Tris and Rufus


Manx sheep

Feeding time
Feeding time

Hi There

Parcel of kitties
Bundle of kitties

Woods & rays
Woods and rays

Visitors are coming and going as often as the sun around here and we've been enjoying spending time with old friends. Lots of trips out and about have included fossil exploration, visits to our super sweet farm friends, woodland walks, river walks and a castle visit. It's fantastic to take a little breather and explore even more of the beautiful place we now call home.

In between it all it's been difficult to come unglued from the Olympic coverage. We're lucky enough to get to cheer on two countries in our household and boy it's all been so exciting. Though I haven't been online much at all there are a couple of links I've been meaning to pass along and one that I came across this evening that brought back happy memories.

  • This talented lady gives me serious tool envy. The short video in this post I just love, the whole thing, love.
  • Here's one for the kiddos from the Tate, although I must admit I tried to help Alice catch the rabbit myself, several times.
  • This post from npr looks at Lucielle Ball clips on the eve of her 101 birthday. These clips from old shows reminded me of staying home ill from school when I was little and watching rerun after rerun of Lucy – genuis! The being ill part probably not so fun though ;)

Hope you have a great week ahead, must run now so I can get up early and prepare for the next visitors. 






I'm in that mode again. Whittling down all the crap that's accumulated around us over the past two and a half years and getting ready to shove it all in to boxes to move. Some things take me extra time though, like my vintage linens and textiles. Even though it's Sunday I was up at the crack of dawn to sort through some of these in peace, and as usual I'm deciding not to part with most of it. I am parting with some of my more modern fabrics though and as I have no time for selling them I'll divide them up between some of my more keen young students to start their own fabric stashes; Gracie already has a stash of her own started.

On another note, Tristan has posted a tutorial for his indoor shuffleboard type game. It's very detailed, including a fabulous video he put together with his mother as amateur camera woman. Check it out and let him know how you like it if you get a chance.

Hope you're having a restful Sunday. 


more making

Cedar impressions
cedar impressions 

I woke to a flurry of snow this morning, nicely powdering the countryside around us. By afternoon the sun was shining and all the white stuff was gone. The cold got us in the mood for a big pot of tea and one of our favourite crafts at Christmas time, playing with paper clay. Today we made gift tags and ornaments by cutting out simple shapes and making impressions in them. Cedar sprigs worked well because they are somewhat flat.

Cedar tree
cedar tree

We also made cedar trees.

More impressions
doily impressions

And there are so many really beautiful textile textured ceramics around that we had to give doily pressing a go but the simple cedar was still our favourite. 

Clay time
star stacks

Gracie also turned a stack of stars into what will become a photo holder.

Gifting for nieces
gifts made today

More gift making happened today too. I dug out my jewelry making supplies and made a couple of necklaces for nieces, mixing vintage turquoise glass with fresh water pearls. It's been a long time since I've looped headpins on beads and I had lots and lots of rejects before I could happily string them.

I'm now trying to make up some sort of short scarf for my mother-in-law. I'm repurposing some thrifted cashmere lined with a vintage silk scarf. Not too sure about it, I can see it in my head but I'm not sure my fingers will make it a reality, I'm crossing my toes for luck because my fingers are too busy.

While I'm sewing I'm listening to "The People's Post" on Radio Four, interesting history of how receiving post was only for the wealthy until standard fee packets and stamps came in to existence in the 17th century. In the modern world of Internet correspondence and texting I hope good old hand-written post will survive.

Have a lovely weekend – I hope your mail box will be filled with only happy messages :)


PS, I just saw these little birds pop up in Lisa's space. Can't wait to see how they finish up in a dress.