We haven’t gone away- we’ve just moved!

Have you noticed things have been a bit quiet lately?

That’s because we’ve moved to a brand, spanking new website.

You can find all the old stuff, and heaps of great new posts too, over at

WWW.THISWHOLEHOME.COM

There’s lots of new info on canning and homeschooling, and it’s all much easier to find with the new format. There’s a great community building over there too πŸ™‚

Hope to see you over there soon

Kirstee xx

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Homestead Challenge: Level-Toddler

I love reading homestead blogs and looking at all of the lovely pictures of people living such wholesome, meaningful lives. Life. Goals.

Seeing productive gardens that feed families inspires me to get out there and get dirt under my nails!

But in my garden, if you look just a little closer…you will find…

That the toddler fed my favourite hand cultivator to the dog. But it’s totally still usable πŸ˜‰


Meanwhile in the kitchen, I am getting my homestead groove on and cooking up a storm. It’s often in the kitchen that I feel like I am acing this homesteading gig. 

There is tomato sauce bubbling away on the stove, a couple of batches of biscuits cooling on the bench and I am using the blackened bananas to bake up my favourite banana cake recipe. Waste not want not, right! Only…

I keep tripping over because the toddler who never sleeps has decided this is the perfect time and place to take a nap πŸ˜€ To be fair, she is probably worn out from helping with the chores. Today she fed the chickens all by herself!

It’s just a shame she dug up my cauliflower seedlings to feed to them. But it’s not like she could feed them the layer mash. She spilt that all over the ground while trying to pour it into the watering can πŸ˜‚

On a positive note,  I do have half a dozen volunteer tomato plants coming up in the middle of winter thanks to her squishing green tomatoes all over the ground in her last attempt to feed the chooks πŸ˜‰

But maybe tomorrow will run a little smoother. We finally found her missing elephant. She just can’t sleep without her. It took me two days to find it…

Hiding in the onion drawer of the pantry. And the sad part is, I go into this drawer every.single.day and I didn’t notice her there. 
Because I’m just a little tired.

Because simple living is hard work.

Because life gets busy and we mamas are juggling a lot of plates in the air.
But it’s also fun and worthwhile. These crazy moments make me laugh. And I wouldn’t want life any other way πŸ’š
I’d love to hear about the challenges you face as a homesteading parent!

Replacing the daily grind with a daily rhythm

The other day I shared my tips for creating a peaceful atmosphere in the home. One idea I kept returning to was the idea of rhythm. Sounds simple enough, right? Just find your rhythm. But what is it and how do you get it?

Put simply, rhythm is the flow of your days, your week and your year. It’s not as rigid as a schedule,  nor as chaotic as flying by the seat of your pants. It’s the steady in and out breath of homelife, held together by purpose and predictability.

Children in particular tend to thrive on knowing what comes next. As an adult I still find I feel calmer if I know both what needs to be done, and that I will have enough time in my day to do it. This is the purpose of rhythm.

Rhythm allows a sense of calm to settle on us and our homes.

Finding rhythm in the home comes naturally for some, but if this is new to you, or even if you just need a hand to tweak your exisiting rhythm, these ideas can get you started.

1. Make a list

Grab a pen and paper and settle yourself down in a quiet, sunny spot where you can think. Start jotting down what you need to do each day. For me this looks like chores, formal lesson time for my son, feeding animals, putting the wee one down for her nap, preparing meals, spending too much time on Instagram… :-p

2. Find the touchstones

Your touchstones are the moments that happen at roughly the same time every day; day in and day out. Waking up, eating meals together, bedtimes. If these are all over the place, making these moments predictable is where you need to start.

Create a bedtime ritual and set a rough time for meals. If there is predictability in these moments, your whole day will run smoother. Build your rhythm around these touchstones.

Build your day around meals and bedtimes. Create rituals for these everyday happenings. These are the touchstones which will hold your daily rhythm together.

3. Breathe in and breathe out

Look at the activities you listed in step one. Split them in to two groups. One group is your outwardly focussed activities, the second for inwardly focused activities. Another way to look at this in the context of running a home could be energetic activities compared to peaceful activities. You want to alternate between these throughout the day.

Follow a breathing in activity with a breathing out activity . You’re not looking to schedule in times, just to create an order for events to occur in. This will give your day flow. Write down your order of events in respect to your touchstone moments.

Alternate breathing in actions with breathing out actions to give your days a sense of flow.

And you’ve done it!

Everyday doesn’t need to look the same. You may find you need to change the middle of each day depending on what you have on. Just try to keep those touchstone moments in place and try to maintain the balance of in and out breath to the day.

Here’s a look at our daily rhythm.

This is our rhythm Monday to Wednesday (days we hold Main Lessons)

Tip!
Creating rituals around activities can help to anchor them in your day and make the mundane a little more special. Perhaps a little verse when you serve lunch, or a particular apron you like to wear to do the housework?

Our weeks and years have a ryhthm of their own too.  I’ll be chatting about those another time πŸ™‚

Kirstee xx

A recipe for fun: MUD KITCHENS!Β 

There are some beautiful, fancy mud kitchens turning up on Pinterest. Looking at them you could almost be forgiven for thinking a mud kitchen is just too expensive or too much hard work. But out here in the real world, mud kitchens are just good, clean fun. Well, not clean exactly πŸ˜€

So what do you really need to make a truly awesome mud kitchen? It really only takes THREE things…

1. Mud

Dirt + water = mud. It’s free. It’s fun. I’m sure you have some lying around. If not, pick up a cheap bag of garden soil from Bunnings and dump it in your designated spot. That brings us to number…

2. A place to get muddy

Choose your spot wisely. Near a hose is good. Near the clothesline you hang your white linen on? Not so much. You only need enough room for a kid, the mud and…


3. Junk from the kitchen

Think old pots and pans with scorched bottoms,  rusted patty cake tins, that old broken wooden spoon you didn’t want to just throw away. If you can put mud in it or stir mud with it, it is perfect!


And that’s it. No pinterest required. Have fun!

Changing the feel of your home

“Your home is always so peaceful and calm”.

I laughed when he said it because the kids had been screaming ten minutes before The Mister and His Mate walked in. But when I stopped laughing for a moment and looked around my home, soaking up the feel of it, I realised he was right. Somehow over the last year these four walls had become a haven of calm in a never-endingly busy world (tantrums notwithstanding). How had this happened?

The changes happened so slowly, so organically, that it felt like they happened all on their own. I wondered, was it the renovations? I suppose that helped. There is a lot more natural light now. I certainly don’t miss the carpet. Or that wall we apparently  didn’t need πŸ˜‰

But it was more than that. Simpler than that. It was a changing of the culture of our home that has brought this feeling of calm, of quiet purpose, of peace. And as luck would have it, they were changes anyone can make regardless of budget or whether you are owning or renting. No renos required.

5 Ways to Create a Peaceful Home

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1. No t.v.

Ok so we have a tv. We even watch it *gasp*. We just don’t watch a lot of it and we very rarely watch it during the day anymore. Actually we rarely watch tv at all on weekdays. Movie night has become something to look forward to.

This is the number one change we have made that completely altered the feel of our home. It’s astonishing how noisy it feels even having it on quietly in the background now. It puts me on edge. We do often have calming music on low instead but it is always something relaxing and unobtrusive.

2. Clean and uncluttered

It’s amazing how much STUFF we can accumulate over the years. Pointless, expensive, takes-up-too-much-space stuff. Trust me- you will feel better and your home will feel calmer if you declutter. One of my favourite things about my home is the feeling of space and airiness. That all comes down to less stuff.

Jumping off the consumer bandwagon isn’t just good for the sense of calm it can bring to your home. It will save you $$$. It will also minimise your carbon footprint because less stuff equals less landfill, and less resources used in manufacturing things we really don’t need.

As for caring for your home, a daily rhythm will help you stay on top of chores without it feeling overwhelming. My home always starts to feel chaotic if I’ve strayed from our rhythm for more than a day.

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Rhonda’s book is a must read

Rhonda Hetzel of ‘Down to Earth’ fame talks about the acceptance of housework as an everyday part of life being a mindset change, and that was a light bulb moment for me. Instead of wasting our energy resenting the time and effort it takes, we can instead incorporate housework into our daily rhythm. We can take pleasure in a job well done and enjoy the resulting peace in our home.

A rhythm to our days, our weeks, the seasons, brings a sense of peace and purposefulness all of its own.

3. Organised homeschool materials

This one has taken a bit of trial and error to find what works for us, and will certainly look different depending on the style of homeschool you subscribe to. For us moving our formal activities into the kitchen, into the heart of our home, has meant that mama gets more done in a day. And that certainly helps.

It has also necessitated a change in the way we organise our materials. A pretty basket is the lynch pin of our system. I’ll chat more about the specifics of our bags and baskets another day, but the important part to note is that having a system keeps us neat and tidy, and most of all, organised. Chaos feels…well, chaotic. Organisation feels calm.

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Our homeschool basket keeps all of our materials on hand and tidy

No matter what materials you use, how many materials you have, or where in the home you ‘school’, make sure there is ‘a place for everything, and everything in its place’. Baskets are invaluable. Remember that πŸ˜‰

For those who don’t homeschool,  the same principle applies to books and toys. Reduce the volume,  organise what you have and display attractively. You’ll see more use, more respect for belongings, and won’t feel overwhelmed by ‘kid things’ taking over your home.

4. Smells of beeswax, cut flowers and homecooking

Forgetting how delicious a made-from-scratch dinner smells, what is just as important is what our home DOESN’T smell like. It doesn’t smell like harsh cleaning chemicals or synthetic fragrances. We make most of our own cleaning products now. It’s cheaper and the smell isn’t stuck in your nostrils for days.

Our children draw with beeswax crayons, and warm beeswax on the windowsill and in their soft hands to model with (think playdough for big kids, but better). We burn beeswax candles instead of turning on lights in the evening.

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Beeswax candles smell amazing and contain no nasty petrochemicals

Bunches of cut flowers from the Farmer’s Market fill vases on the kitchen bench. Herbs hang to dry in the sunroom windows. Fresh air streams in through gauzy curtains and wide open windows. The home smells fresh and alive.

5. A sense of quiet purpose

Maybe I should have put this one straight after ‘No T.V.’ because this is what has filled the space. Before, there never seemed to be enough time. Time to relax or time for hobbies. Often there didn’t even seem enough time for chores.

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Baking days are a set part of our rhythm

While the chores are still there, there is now a whole lot of time that we didn’t have before. Those hours we spent watching T.V. are now spent playing games, gardening, reading, baking together, preserving food and taking up crafts. The home hums along to the steady ryhthm of these activities. The dishes in the morning, the knitting in the evening.

And that’s the key, I think. The rhythm of the home.

Homesteading and homeschooling together have given us new rhythms and a new raison d’Γͺtre.

Have you found your rhythm?

101 ways to HOMESTEAD in the SUBURBS

Homesteading in the ‘burbs is all about becoming as self-sufficient as you can on a small parcel of land. We may not have rolling green hills for a herd of cattle, or acres of land for planting, but there is still a lot we can do with what we have.

Bloom where you are planted!

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Bonus idea! Grow sunflowers to supplement your chook feed

Not everyone is going to be able to do all of these. Not everyone is going to want to! And that’s ok.Β  I certainly haven’t managed them all and some that I try…well, I’m just not very good at *blush*

Don’t look at this as a to-do list. Rather, these are just some ideas to get you going. Most importantly,Β  remember homesteading is a mindset and should ultimately be about making your life better.

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Baking muesli bars...not one of my better skills πŸ˜‰

Get grubby and try these ideas in the garden πŸ™‚

1. dig a vegetable garden
2. grow edible vines for shade
3. rotate your crops
4. save your seed
5. swap produce with neighbours
6. plant fruit trees
7. fill pots with herbs and edible flowers
8. make weed tea
9. make homemade garden fertilisers
10. make your own mulch
11. DIY potting mix
12. lettuce, tomatoes and strawberries make fabulous pot plants if you are short on space in the ground
13. forage for edible weeds
14. try companion planting
15. explore permaculture
16. make dyes from the plants you grow and forage
17. discover what your weeds are telling you about your soilΒ 
18. compost your scraps

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Don’t forget the animals!

19. create an insect hotel
20. keep bees
21. keep chickens for eggs
22. consider keeping chickens for meat as well
23. learn to despatch your own chooks
24. keep dairy goats if you have the room
25. pigeons and rabbits are good for meat if you are allowed to keep them in your area. Check your local council regulations and remember rabbits are NOT allowed in Queensland
26. try your hand at aquaponics
27. grow cereal crops and greens in your chook runΒ 
28. feed table scraps to your chickens (not too much, mind you)

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Backyard chickens make productive pets

It’s not just about what food you can produce yourself. What you do with it counts too!

29. bake bread
30. cook meals from scratch LIKE A GRANDMA!
31. preserve the harvest
32. make your own condiments
33. learn to properly store food
34. meal plan
35. eat in season
36. bulk buy pantry staples
37. churn your own butter
38. if you buy a snack in a packet, learn to bake it yourself
39. dry your own herbs to use in cooking
40. use leftovers to create a new meal

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Nothing beats the taste and smell of freshly baked bread

Remember homesteading is not all about food…

41. carve your own wooden spoons
42. take up knitting
43. then take up crocheting
44. make your own household cleaners
45. make your own air freshener
46. grow flowers to brighten the home. This is your sanctuary!
47. learn to make home remedies from the herb garden
48. learn to sew your own clothes
49. knit a dishcloth
50. sew a tablecloth
51. mend clothes
52. darn socks
53. repair broken shoes
54. learn to sew a button on

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Knitting dishcloths is an easy beginner project

What about pets?

55. make your own pet food
56. compost pet poo
57. if you have a big block on the edge of town, why not keep sheep to provide your own wool (they can also provide meat, milk and mow the grass for you!)
58. learn to spin
59. learn to felt wool for making your own toys, clothes and bags

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We feed her and she catches mice trying to steal chook food. Win win. Plus she is adorable and weird

And don’t forget the kids πŸ™‚

60. homeschool
61. make toys for your munchkins instead of buying them
62. have your children make gifts for family and friends
63. knit your own baby blankets and booties
64. involve your kids in caring for the home and garden

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Happy homeschool days

But take care of yourself…

65. make your own deoderant
66. make your own soap
67. go one better and make your own cosmetics
68. sew your own menstrual pads

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Reading and crafting make me happy

Homesteading involves the whole home and everyone in it

69. create a chore routine
70. DIY renovations
71. create your own artwork to decorate your home
72. weave a rug for the living room
73. sew curtains
74. make yourown beeswax polish for furniture
75. use solar power
76. make your own laundry powder or detergent
77. ditch the dryer and line dry
78. make your own soy or beeswax
candles
79. sew a quilt to keep you warmΒ  instead of turning on heaters
80. collect and store rainwater
81. utilise your greywater
82. composting toilets and ‘humanure’ are allowed by some councils
83. learn to take care of your own basic car maintenance
84. take up woodworking
85. learn to use handtools
86. sharpen your own gardening tools
87. learn the basics of plumbing
88. do odd jobs yourself instead of calling a handyman

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Learning to renovate is fun and saves money!

Self-sufficiency also means relying less on banks and bosses!

89. make a plan and work towards getting out of debt. It may take a long time, but keep going in the right direction
90. learn to budget
91. save for a rainy day
92. start a home-based business, maybe taking advantage of some of your developing craft skills!
93. stockpile basic food in case of job loss or natural disaster

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Free fun helps the budget

Remember becoming more self-sufficient doesn’t mean doing everything yourself. Learn to rely on your community instead of on corporations.

94. shop at farmers markets
95. buy from the farm door
96. meet your neighbours and help them out when you can. They’ll hopefully return the favour
97. join community organisations
98. share what you know with others then share your mistakes with them too! We can learn from each other πŸ™‚
99. organise a seed swap
100. barter
101. exchange

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I dried a bootload of rosemary a friend was giving away

There you have it! 101 ideas for homesteading in the suburbs. I’ll bet you can think of a few more and I’d love to hear them so please share your ideas below.

Happy homesteading xx

Shared on:
Our Simple Homestead Bloghop

Homesteading- what is it?

You’ve heard me talk about it. Suburban homesteading. But what is it?

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If you get up in the morning and put on gumboots instead of slippers, you might just be a homesteader.

If you ready your kids for school and find yourselves sitting around the kitchen table ready to start your lessons, you might just be a homesteader.

If it’s time to put dinner on and you send the kids outside to collect what you need from the garden, you might just be a homesteader.

If the change in seasons means something to you beyond a change in wardrobe…
If a hole in a sweater means work not shopping…
If you keep animals but not just pets…
YOU MIGHT JUST BE A HOMESTEADER.

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Homesteading- it’s a bit of a buzzword. You’ve probably heard it more than once, even sussed out that it refers to living a more self-sufficient lifestyle. I’d wager you could even list off a half dozen or so activities you think it includes. And you wouldn’t be alone if you’re still a little…vague about the idea.

And that’s because homesteading is more than a location. More than a set of actions. It’s a lifestyle, but more importantly it’s a mindset. And that’s why homesteading can happen on a farm or in your suburban home. And it’s why anyone can do it!

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To be a homesteader all you need is the drive to become a more self-sufficient. That’s it! If you want to live more naturally, be less reliant on shops, save yourself some money, and become a maker not a buyer, then you’re set to be a homesteader!

And because this is a mindset change,Β  these pearls of wisdom may come in handy πŸ˜‰

“Use it up, wear it out. Make do or do without”

And

“It’s not about where your home is, it’s about where your head is”  ~Rhonda Hetzel

So- are you a homesteader?

Shared on
Our Simple Homestead Bloghop

Seasonal Craft: quick knit an Easter Bunny

Easter is almost here but there is still enough time to quickly whip up one of these cute knitted bunnies!

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These are quite possibly the EASIEST  toy you can make. Even a novice knitter can manage these as it’s simply a square of garter stitch.

I’ve done the sewing part in purple so you can see easily,  but you would generally want to use the same colour as your knitting so that the stitches are invisible when you are finished.

Step 1
Knit a square of garter stitch. That’s just rows of knit stitch (no purling). You can knit any sized square you like. The bigger the square, the bigger the finished bunny. I cast on 30 stitches and then kept going until I had a square. No counting rows required. Doesn’t get any easier than that! When you have your square, cast off and weave in your ends.

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Step 2
Run a thread through the knitting in the triangle you see below. The thread runs across the middle of the square, up to the midline,  then back down to the start to complete the triangle.

Quick tip! Easiest way to find the middle is to simply fold your square in half. No need to measure or count rows πŸ˜‰

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Step 3
Pull on the ends of the thread and magically a head shape will start to form!

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The two little corner triangles become the ears, the large triangle in the middle is the head. Stuff the head as you go. Wool batting would be perfect, but I’m using siliconised soft fill as it is all that was available at my local fabric store.

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Step 4
Secure the stitching around the head and then begin to stitch along the back, filling the body with stuffing as you go.

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Step 5
Attach a pompom for a tail. Cuteness!
Tie a knot in the end of a thread and position the knot in place of an eye. Stitch straight through to the opposite side of the face and knot the other end for the second eye. Cut off the thread.

Alternatively,  you could use stick on eyes or stitch on buttons, but I think knotted eyes are safer if you are giving this to a small child who is likely to put toys in their mouth (I’m looking at you, darling daughter!)

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And voila! Easter bunny done 😊

I’ve made one each for my children to find during their egg hunt on Easter morning. I would love to see what you’ve made and hear about your Easter morning traditions.

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Happy crafting x

Take aim and fire!

I have recently discovered some people find it offensive for a suburban homesteading page to discuss despatching animals to feed your family. Trust facebook to bring out the ugly in people.

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It has me wondering though… are our followers not aware that we here at ‘Forage and Forge’ all about becoming as self-sufficient as we can on our little patch of suburbia OR do people not really know what suburban homesteading is? Maybe people believe we should strive for self-sufficient vegetarianism? Hmmmm

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So I have (of course) decided to write a series of blog posts explaining the how, what and why of suburban homesteading 😊 Which makes NOW the perfect time to ask any questions you have about this way of living.

Fire away!

Beneath the Christmas Tree

With less than a week to go before Christmas, I think it’s about time I got cracking on the gifts. I’ve purchased a few items, but on the whole this will be a handmade Christmas. Excitingly it will also be the closest we have come to a zero waste Christmas too!

Wooden Blocks

$8 worth of pine off-cuts from Bunnings and an hour in the workshop is all this gift costs. Simply use a saw to cut the timber into different shapes and sizes. We’ve decided to make half of the blocks and gift Nikolai with a child-sized set of hand tools with the remainder of the timber. This way we can help him to make some blocks as well.

Magnatiles

Not homemade or zero waste. Actually these are one of only a handful of plastic toys we allow into our home (you can read more about our toy guidelines here), but I am so excited to add these to our small selection of open-ended toys. I purchased ours from Modern Teaching Aids.

Doll

I found this gorgeous handmade doll on Etsy. Crocheted from natural materials,Β  she is soft and warm. I deliberately chose a doll with minimal facial features to allow for more imaginative freedom. A world away from hard, plastic dolls with their painted on features, this doll could just as easily be sad as she could be happy, angry or serene.Β 

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Doll’s Cradle

A tip shop find! My husband spotted this old timber doll’s cradle and brought it home to be nursed back to life. A lick of chalk paint and it will be a beautiful bed for the baby doll.

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Imagine the cradle in a soft, chalky white

Playdough

I’ll be making up large batches of no-cook playdough with Christmas themes: gingerbread, peppermint candycane, orange and cinnamon. Simply add different natural colours and scents. For example white playdough with peppermint oil and red edible glitter makes candycane playdough. Layering the different doughs in a glass jar will make a cheery gift for small nieces and nephews.

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My experienced playdough-making assistant will help make the gifts

Bake-your-own Cookie Jar

Zero-Waste Chef has a lovely recipe for a Choc-chip cookie kit in a jar which will be perfect for older nieces. I’m sure their chocolate mad mama won’t mind helping them bake these!

Homemade Cordial

Forget chemical-laden artificial flavours in a plastic bottle. Homemade cordial is easy to make and tastes divine. Find my recipe here. I’ve been collecting glass bottles to make cordial for all of the grownups πŸ™‚

Bath salts and scrubs

Got salt, sugar, honey? You’ve got everything you need to make these little treats. I haven’t settled ona recipe yet,  but here’s some ideas to get you started

Books

Another gift that is neither zero waste nor homemade, but seriously…BOOKS!

And of course everything will be wrapped in either fabric offcuts, or this lovely paper printed by Nikolai.

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Potato stamping an old roll of brown paper

What treasures are waiting beneath your Christmas tree?