Nov 30, 2010

Activity based Advent Calendar

The count down begins!

As you know from previous posts, we love advent calendars at our house.  The kids each have their own candy countdown and I've been known to make a new one every now and then.  Here's the one we are currently using, it is activity based.

To make it, I took a sturdy box that a birthday gift came in and cut off the two ends and one of the long sides.  Then I attached the remaining ends together to form a triangle.  This became the base of the count down.

From there I covered the base with paper using mod-podge.  Next I added 24 sheets of paper, each with an envelope of some sort.  Here's a few so you get the idea.  In some cases I just used an envelope I had on hand, for others I made the envelopes or pockets myself.

Besides just using pattern paper and cardstock for the backgrounds, I also used transparencies.  I like crafting with transparencies as there is a lot you can do with it.  For this page I painted my foam stamps and stamped the word "Merry". Then I used StazOn ink and stamped snowflakes as well.  I like how the page underneath peeks through. 


So, how does it work?  Each envelope has an activity that we will do as a family each day.  It may be something as simple as making gourmet hot cocoa or going ice skating.  We also have stories to share, crafts to make, treats to deliver, etc... as we get closer to Christmas the focus will shift to activities geared around Christ.

The basics of the count down are really very simple.  Each envelope has a number on it, that number is the number of days remaining until Christmas.  Also listed is the actual date we will need to open each envelope.  This was important for me so I could align the activities with what was already scheduled for our family.  For instant, we wouldn't go ice skating on Sunday so I needed to make sure that was scheduled for a Friday or Saturday. 

It's fun to plan ahead and the girls are so excited to start counting down.  This certainly helps the time pass quicker and in so many ways keeps me sane because I have plan and schedule to keep them busy.

Let the count down begin!


Nov 23, 2010

China or Chinet?

So, do you pull out the good china for 
Thanksgiving or do you buy Chinet?

Ya, I don't even own china so you can figure out pretty quickly what we use.  However, we do dress it up and here's an idea you can do too:

Turn your paper plates into turkeys!

This works great if you will be entertaining small children.  Cut out several different turkey parts: feathers, heads, waddles, beaks, feet, etc... from pieces of cardstock.   Just make a big pile of each.  Then, as your guests arrive have them make a turkey out of their paper plate and place it on the table at the place they'd like to sit.  Because they've picked their place, you won't need name cards or assignments.  And, the cute little turkeys act as table decor.  Plus, it gives the little ones something to do while they wait for the yummy food to be served. 

Enjoy!  And Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 22, 2010

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

My house smells WONDERFUL!!!

I made up a small batch of Cinnamon Applesauce ornaments last night. These are the easiest, yummiest smelling things you'll ever create - at least that is my opinion.

Want to make some? Here's what you do....

Gather your ingredients:
Elmer's Glue

I made a small batch which actually produced quite a few medium sized stars but you can adjust the amounts to what ever you feel is best.  Here are the measurements for the batch I made last night.

Mix 1/2 cup applesauce and 1/2 cup cinnamon together.  Then add 2 TBSP of glue and mix well. You want a dough that can be rolled out so if it is too runny, add more cinnamon.  (I used homemade applesauce which usually is a little more runny than store bought so I did need to add more cinnamon into my dough.)

Once the mixture has formed into a dough ball, remove it from the bowl and place it onto wax paper.  Slightly press the ball down and cover with another sheet of wax paper.


Then, with a rolling pin, roll out the dough.  You want it anywhere in between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch thick.   Remove the top piece of wax paper and cut out shapes.

After you have several shapes cut out, carefully remove the excess dough from around each shape and start the process over until all the dough is used.  Be sure to add a small hole in each of the shapes so you'll have somewhere to attach ribbon.

Next you will take your shapes and place them on a cookie sheet and bake at 150 degrees for 2 hours.  Then, turn off the heat in the oven and leave the pan in the warm oven for 5 to 6 hours.  I just left mine in the oven overnight.

TIP:  you can leave them on the wax paper when you cook them, however it is best to remove the wax paper after one hour of cooking, otherwise it is hard to get off later.  Also, depending on your shape, the edges may curl during cooking.  After an hour of cooking just turn the shapes over and they will most likely flatten back out.

If you pull them out of the oven and they are still somewhat moist, let them set out on your counter until they are completely dry.  It may take a few extra hours.

Once the ornaments have hardened, remove from pan and attach ribbon or string, or whatever you'd like, to turn them into ornaments.

See, easy!  I promise you'll love the smell - it's wonderful!  And, the smell last forever.  You can store them in ziplock bags with your Christmas items and they will still smell good next year too.

You can do a lot with these things:  I like to wrap up brown paper packages with raffia and use them as accents that hang from the bow.  It's a very rustic country look but I think it's heartwarming.


You can also string several of them together and either make a garland for your mantle or a wall decor.  I currently have this hanging on our closet door and I love how it smells when we walk by.  mmmm good!

And then of course there is the simple, traditional Christmas tree ornament.


Nov 19, 2010

more countdowns

I kind of really like count downs.  The kiddos have a lot of fun with them so why can't adults too?  These are just another spin on the classic Christmas countdown however for these I made them and then sent one of them off to Grandma and Grandpa and one to a friend.  They were planning to come visit my family and we wanted them to know we were excited about their visits so we made these.

If you want to do this, it's super easy and cheap, too.  Especially if you already have some scrapbooking items.

- First, you'll need to cut down one side of a cereal box.  This will become the back panel.  Once it is the size you want, cover it with decorative papers.  I mod-podged mine for extra strength.

- Next, add your candies.  I used Andies mints, mostly because of their shape, well, and they taste good too. I just wrapped some scrap paper around them, added a date with a stamp and attached them to the back panel.

-  Then you add some ribbon so it will hang and any other embellishments to make it pretty and that's it, you're done.

If you don't plan to buy an advent calendar this year, this would be a good alternative and one you could easily make.  The majority of the expense was in the candy as I had everything else on hand.


Nov 16, 2010


We have a fun thing coming up at my church and the committee in charge has asked for people to lend them their advent calendars to be used as decorations and table center pieces.  Because of this I've got advent calendars on my brain!

We actually have 4 of them and we use all 4!  Crazy, right?  Each child has their own that is a candy countdown and then we have a family activity advent that helps us focus more on togetherness and Christ at Christmas.  I made that one but it is on loan right now so I can't show it yet, however, if you are up for making your own cute and easy countdown, here's an idea I've done in the past... 

If you want to make your own you'll need:

1 - 10x10 dry-erase easel board, it's made by
Expo and looks like this:

- Scrapbook papers
- rub-ons, stickers or stamps for the numbers
- chipboard or pieces of cardboard cut to size
- ribbon and other decorative things, like ribbon
- adhesive (I used those little sticky tabs but double sided tape works great too)
- magnets and ink for distressing

So, in a nut shell, the expo board is magnetic and you just decorate your pieces, and magnets to the backs of each piece, cover the board with paper and then stick your pieces to your board.  As you countdown, you remove one piece a day and place it on the back of the board.

The cool thing I love about these is that once you are done, you just fold in down and store it for next year.  It's also not huge so you could use it on your desk at work or in other small spaces.


Nov 12, 2010

Creating your own paper

Sooo, this week has been crazy at my house.  So much going on.  School parties, birthdays, work, etc... you know how it is.  Some weeks are just crazier than others.  Because of this I'm digging into the archives for today's post.  I'm thinking now is a good time as many of you may be trying to come up with your holiday card ideas and this idea just might help you out. 

I'm a big fan of text.  I like the graphic look of typography and I like to use it in various places.  And one of  the places I use it most is in my paper crafting.  I like to to make my own paper designs. If I didn't tell you, would you have known that I had made my the paper designs below?  I hope not.

Here's what you do:

1- Open a text program, something like MS Word or whatever you are most comfortable working with.

2- Start typing.  Pick random words that apply to the theme of your project.  The images above both were for Christmas so they have Christmas words.

3- Once you filled up a line or two with random words go back and change the font styles on a few of those words.  You can also bold them, Italic them, or even change the color.

4- Once you get those lines how you like them, then just copy and paste them all the way down the paper until you have filled the whole space. You'll end up with something like the image on the right.

5- Next, use your newly designed paper for anything you wish.

NOTE:   You can print text on anything, really.  For the card above I just used white cardstock but for the layout I printed it over top of a pattern paper and I love how the green still shows through.  You can also print on a transparency too, which looks really cool.

Ok, I'm off to celebrate my twins birthday and make our traditional money cake. Perhaps I'll share that too...


Nov 10, 2010

Harvest Snack Mix

So today is Harvest day at my daughter's school.  They have Harvest day instead of Halloween or Thanksgiving celebrations.  I have mixed feelings about that but I go with the flow and it is much easier to plan just one party instead of two. 

Today I have an hour with the kids and we are doing four different activities.  I hope it will all go well.  One of the things we are doing is making a Harvest Snack Mix.  I've seen it online listed as a Blessing mix and they use different items that represent blessings related to Thanksgiving.  However, for school, since we can't really do religious things, I pared it back a bit and changed it from "blessing" to just snack mix. 

The kids will make their own mix by following a recipe and mixing it in a sandwich bag.   It consists of pretzels, seeds, candy corn and raisins.

Then after they have followed the recipe they will put it in a brown lunch bag and attach a scarecrow to the front with a twist tie - I found some twist ties in autumn colors, so cool!.  I also found the scarecrows at Walmart on clearance for .50 cents.  (Total bargain!)  And, after the scarecrow is attached they will add the tag and their snack mix is ready to be sent home.

Pretty easy and the cool thing is I've been looking for a little "thank you" gift for a couple of friends who don't really like baked treats.  So, when I get home from the school party I'm going to change the tag and make a "blessing" mix and deliver these to my friends as thank you gifts.


Nov 9, 2010

Count down book

A while back my good friend turned 50 and I wanted to do something really awesome for her.  It's one thing to throw jabs about always being younger and I could have bought her a bunch of over-the-hill items but she isn't that kind of person.  She's the kind of person that every year of her life has blessed countless amounts of people.  Friends, family, strangers.  She pretty much opens her arms and loves everyone she meets and I wanted to celebrate that side of her.

So I came up with this:

I contacted 50 of her closest friends, relatives, and even some of her best customers at her gift shop and asked them all to write Judy a note.  Some of them were heartfelt tear-jerkers and others were just simple happy birthday wishes. 

Once I got them all, I made a book of various envelopes and put one message in each.  There were 50 messages and she opened one envelope a day for 50 days prior to her birthday.  It was awesome.  Quite possibly it was more fun for me than for her but I know she loved reading those messages.  I also know that it helped her cross that 50th birthday milestone in a pleasant way instead of a dreadful way.



I'm sharing this now because I will be adapting this idea to make a countdown to Christmas for my family.  Each envelope will contain an activity, a scripture, a story, or my testimony of the Savior and my kids can open an envelope each day.  I'm excited to do this and hope it makes our holiday season more meaningful.


Nov 5, 2010

House Guests

We've had house guest the last couple of days so please hang tight and check back... I'll be back on Monday.

Nov 2, 2010

it's a sad day

I'm in mourning... my favorite pair of jeans died!  Ok, so I'm being a bit dramatic but seriously, I loved these jeans.  On the bright side though, I can turn them into something else. 

Stay tuned as it's already in the works....