Thursday, November 29, 2012

Spiritual Advent {A Christmas Tip}

Last Sunday I was gathering our items to celebrate Advent

Advent usually starts the last Sunday in November.{4 Sundays out from Christmas}

Then I realised there are four Sundays before Christmas in December this year!

This year Advent starts December 2

So it gave me extra time to prepare and I'm glad because this week I came across this really easy Advent Devotional.

My kids love the weekly burning of the candles... but I think they humour me on the devotional and singing hymns part. I used this book (I bought it but I see its free online!) last year for daily advents but think I might opt for this easier to remember one.

So if you would like to celebrate a more spiritual Christmas I find Advent helps me out.

You need:
4 Candles (Red but any colour would do)
A ring/wreath (optional or make it out of a paper plate)
Chosen carols

Each Sunday we light one of the candles {progressing to 2 the next week then 3 and lastly 4}.
Advent means 'coming or arrival' so we light the candles in anticipation of celebrating the coming birth of Christ.

Week ONE is the Good NEWS candle
Explain the prophets of old told of the coming of christ.
(choose any scripture/s you like eg Isaiah 9:6)

Week TWO is the HOPE candle
Jesus gave hope to people that God still loved and cared for them.
The angles told the good news that Jesus had come (Luke 2:8-11)

Week THREE is the JOY candle
When the shepherds heard the good news they rejoiced and went to tell others (Luke 2:15-20)

Week FOUR is the LOVE candle
God shows his love through Jesus Christ. His Son and helps us to show love to others
(John 3:16)

You can add as little or as much information, scriptures, hymns to these four topics.
Search your own scriptures to match. I'd also love to do a more involved one for myself and The Mr.

See here for Previous Advent Ideas I've tried
Advent how to 2008  and 2010

You'd think with all the Christmas stuff I do that I'm like a crazy christmas lady doing too much. There's a reason I like to have my craft done, presents bought, traditions lined out in November...

Each year I think we are too busy and we need to slow down and remember the real meaning of Christmas and spend time as a family focusing inwards. I try hard but we fail each year (so many parties! we even have several birthday party invites and engagements amongst christmas ones, so much on the to do list in December!)

This year I've declared December will be TV and computer free in the evenings. We have candles to burn, christmas books to read, treats to eat sitting around together and fairy lights to admire.

I hope I'm successful.

And Advent will be a nice addition to Sunday Evenings.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pillowcase Sacks {A Christmas Tip}

Each year in November we sew Christmas Pillowcases.

The girls pick the material and we sew them up for the children to have

"wonderful Christmas Dreams"
{makes me think of The night before christmas - visions of sugar plums danced in their heads}

My nine year old daughter swears they work and she doesn't have a single nightmare the whole time her head is on one of these apparently! The pillowcases are much loved and this time the older two practically sewed them by themselves {yay!}

However I am starting to accumulate quite a few {almost 20 now!!}

After seeing this idea on soulemama I've started using them as gift wrapping.

I makes it all quite easy. Most toys, boxes, fit in the pillowcase and I tie it shut with a string.

Eventually I could also use them to wrap our Christmas books. 25 books each in its own bag.

And think of all the wrapping paper that will be saved over the years. The planet thanks you.

I pick them back up after Christmas and store them with the Christmas boxes ready for next year.

But onto a Tutorial on how to make your own christmas pillow case in the case you would like 
your own Christmas Dreams...

just under 1 metre of christmas material per pillowcase
Sewing machine and cotton

Use an existing pillowcase to use as a guide. I folded my material in half and then laid the pillowcase on top. I then cut around the pillowcase {leaving 2cm border for sewing} and having a 15cm extra on the top {which will be the 'flap' that keeps the pillow inside}

After cutting around the guide pillowcase you will now have two pieces of material. I trim one so it is shorter than the other. The longer piece forms the flap.

Hem the top of shorter piece with a fat hem {around 4-5 cm}
Hem the top of the longer piece with a small hem {around 1cm}
I hem by just folding the material over twice to capture the raw edges.

So now you will have two pieces of fabric that have only the top {short edge} hemmed.
Place material pieces together right sides facing inwards
Then fold the longer piece over the shorter piece so its like an envelope
Now straight stitch around three of the sides of the pillowcase. NOT where the flap is!
Then zig zag around the same three sides to prevent fraying.
If you have an overlocker... do it in that!!

And now you are done and you turn the pillowcase back right sides out!!


Your first pillowcase will probably take a little while to work out...
but once you've done it a few times you can make these things in 10 mins!
very easy to sew and satisfying to make.

and soon enough you'll have a big pile like me.

and lots of wonderful Christmas Dreams.......

now I think I need to make me one to rest my head on!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sewn Brown Paper Advent

This idea was all over pinterest. So Pretty!!

I wanted to make it soo bad. I find sewing paper relaxing and fun!

When I finally tracked down some brown paper and got to making though...

 I ended up with flags instead.

This advent calendar is to have things sewn within the flags {or stars like above idea}

Now originally I was going to put our miniture nativity people inside...

But I um did the thing you should NEVER do...

I cut without measuring!


Inside my advent are Christmas Jokes and Tiny silver ornaments
{called Christmas charms from spotlight in the button section}
As the ornaments are from previous years this advent cost me about $4

My girls love jokes so I think it will be a fun advent calendar

Alternatively you could put scriptures inside, small lollies, activities to do.

I love the activities advents with things like:

{paint nails glittery, popcorn strings, watch christmas movies, make wrapping paper, put up the tree, make paper snowflakes, write cards, dance to christmas music, sleep under the tree, go carolling}

How to make a Sewn Paper Advent calendar

Make a template from a piece of paper folded in half. The fold is the top of the flag.

Open up and trace onto card.

You now have a flag template. Use this to cut flags out of brown paper.

Fold your long brown papers in half and you have a double sided flag.

Using number stamps, stamp on numbers 1-25.
I used white paint painted onto the stamp as I did not have a white ink pad.
Alternatively use a white gel pen to just write numbers on.

Keep stamping!!

Place a piece of string or ribbon under the fold of the first flag. Fold flag over ribbon. This is what the flags will 'hang' on. Sew around the three other sides.

zig zag stitch around the flag capturing the string at the top

On the last edge make sure you put something inside the flag
{I was having so much fun sewing I did sew two flags shut without anything inside them!}

Move on to the next flag leaving a small gap between each one.

Continue on till all 25 flags are attached.

{I will say it will get a little tricky the longer your string gets.}

At first I thought it looked a little plain and not as pretty as I hoped so I glued some paper doilies onto the flags in random spots. Embellish as you like. The kids could even stamp all over the flags.

Each day rip or cut into the sewn paper to reveal the mini ornament or joke
{or whatever you put inside}

Here is a list of corny Christmas jokes I found if anyone wants to do the same:

What did Adam say on Christmas night?
"It's Christmas, Eve".
What did Santa say to Mrs. Claus on Christmas Eve?
Looks like rain, dear.
What nationality is Santa Claus?
North Polish.

What do elves learn in school?
The Elf-abet!

What do you call a cat on the beach at Christmastime?
Sandy Claus!

What do snowmen eat for breakfast?

What do you call Santa with
no money?
St. Nickel-less

What do you get if you cross mistletoe and a duck?
A Christmas Quacker.

What do call Santa when he stops moving?
Santa Pause!

Where does a snowman keep his money?
In a snow bank.

Knock knock
*Who's there?
*Mary who?
-Merry Christmas

Knock, knock
Who's there?
Chris who?

What goes OH OH OH?
santa walking backwards

What goes red white red white red white?
Santa rolling down a hill

 What is Father Christmas wife called?
Mary Christmas

Where does Santa learn to slide down chimney’s?
A Chimnasium

What do you call Santa’s Dog
Santa Paws

 What falls at the north pole but never gets hurt

 Whats a childs favourite king at Christmas
A stocking

What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations

I always enjoy the countdown to Christmas more than the actual day.....

Nothing like an advent calendar.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Our Hill

Our 'official with ring' engagement anniversary.

This is one of my favourite family traditions. And the kids love it too.
We take them back to the spot Daddy Proposed to Mummy and have a picnic.

Last week we were dropping a friend home and by accident happened to be driving past our hill.

We gave a contended sigh and said 'oh its our hill'

And we knew we would be back shortly.
It had been a year since our last visit and here we drove past twice in a week!

Four days ago The Mr texted me saying happy anniversary..

I was like 'ummmm it's on the 26th....'

He said I always forget the exact day. All I know is that I knew for days beforehand that I had the ring and that I was going to propose and that I was happy nervous all week about it.

It was the last secret I was ever to keep from you.

and my heart melted into a puddle on the floor.

Our yearly picnic and pictures at our hill makes me feel funny.

I don't think about the pressure of parenthood too often. I mean its just my family...

But being there each year makes me look at what our family has become from that first time.

I feel such emotion about making sure I get things right

I see my family before me.

I see what was and what will be.

I see humble beginnings and two people muddling through life together.

It makes me want to be better.

And the kids wrap themselves in blankets and roll down the hill like crazy people.

They make me laugh.

And I love that they love to visit our hill with their nostalgic parents.

And they ask when are we going to visit the tallest hill... .Not THE tallest hill (mt gravatt look out) the other tallest hill.... the tallest hill where daddy gave you the ring...

I love that to a child's eye, a tiny hill in the city is like being so lofty, high in the air.

Just like a young couples goals 14 years ago.

May we be able to stay always on the tallest hill, the happy heights of life together. xx

Class Gifts {A christmas Tip}

I really love the idea of gifts for everyone in the class.

But it can be hard to find that many gifts {at affordable price}

This year I now have 3 kids in school so around 75 gifts are needed! yikes!

I know I swore never to give out a candy cane {here and  here}

Well this year I'm reneging. Sorry! I broke my 4 year ban!! Tsk Tsk!

I love this idea all over pintrest. I filed it away all year. I did want to do it for Valentines but it isn't really celebrated here amongst little kids.

 However...I did think it was a perfect idea for end of year class gifts though

Merry Christmas Photo Candy Cane

Have your child pose for a photo holding their arm out. Try to focus on the hand.

In photoshop or similar Add any font/colour you like saying Merry Christmas
{do not put it near the edge of the photo. It will be cut off like some of mine were}

Print lots !!

Cut a slit above and below the hand

Slip in a candy cane or lollipop
{candy cane must be of the shrink wrapped variety. These are the coles 50 mini candy canes for $4}

Enjoy handing out to your friends!

All the neighbour kids have thought this was such a neat optical illusion so hopefully kids will think they are fun. A gift and card in one.

Previous Class Gift Ideas Here:

Glitter Playdough
Felt Christmas Pencil Toppers
Cinnamon Ornaments

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lolly String Advent

I've had lots of polynesian friends graduating school and seminary.

My facebook is full of people with hoards of  Candy Leis around their necks.

Yum! Jealous!

They reminded me of this idea I saw over at pintrest and I just knew this would be our easy , enough for four kids, lolly advent.

Items needed:
1 sheet of Cellophane per Advent (so I used 4 sheets)
Curling Ribbon
Lollies/Candy/Chocolate/Small gifts
Number Stickers (optional)

Firstly buy hoards of disgusting cheap lollies to ensure crazy kids all holidays
If I was amercian this would be a great use for leftover halloween candy.
If I was rich, or lived in a cooler house I would use fancy chocolate {no go here - Melty mess}

Open a sheet of cellophane and cut in two.

Place a lolly in the middle and wrap it around and secure with some curling ribbon.

Continue on placing a lolly and tieing it off.

When you get towards the end of the first cellophane piece double over both sheets and secure the new sheet of cellophane to the last lolly on the first sheet and they will join together.


And they will look like this! Enjoy!

Hang them on the wall, Lay them across the mantle/bookshelf, Wear as a necklace


Now mine only contain 12 Lollies. 
BUT you certainly can keep going to 24 {your advent will be very long - around 2 metres or so!}

Last year I switched over to a 12 Days of Christmas Advent Calendar and it worked real well.

That way their interest didn't peak, the countdown started around the same time school holidays started, less lollies to consume, and gave me more time to make the advent calendar. After an initial why don't we have an advent calendar yet whinge the kids were totally fine with it when I said it was the 12 days of Christmas and started on December 14.

This year December 14 is a Friday and the last day of school. Perfect time to start I say.

But there is still time for them to convince me to add more to their lolly String Calendar :)

Our house is a magnet for the local children and I had a few wide eyed ones here yesterday eyeing off our calendars. They all thought they were amazing! And were jealous! So hopefully that means they have kid approval and if you make one everyone will love it! I've got leftover lollies and will use it to make a calendar to give to one of the neighbour kids. Because I'm kind like that.

Crazy Candy Calendar for your Crazy Kids!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Religious Advent Calendar {A Christmas Tip}

I love advent calendars

It's like a sport.

Each year I have to make a new one... or five.

There are so many types out there I'll never get through them all.

I have three in the works for this year and hope to share them this coming week

'Cause December 1st is NOT FAR AWAY!

I've been making these Jesus Gift Tags/Ornaments for about 9 years now!?

To make a Jesus Tag

Cut pictures from the Ensign Magazine {we borrowed from Grandma's stash}or print some

I just used a glue stick to stick the picture onto regular white copy paper

Cut around leaving a small border of white

Glue onto cardstock. I used what I had on hand - Dark Blue and Gold

Cut again leaving another small border.


Cut around lamination, add a bow {12 for $2}by piercing a hole at the top.

Add a string.

And you have a Jesus Ornament, Gift Tag etc

We did this for family home evening and I discovered that I had 24 exactly and the thought came to me to make them into an Advent calendar.

So all I did was add a number sticker on the back

And paint some twigs/branches from our back yard white

And here is a Christ Centred/spiritual Advent Calendar

This is very basic as there is nothing that goes along with it, and I'm sure the children will be more interested in their lolly one, but the trying is what matters when building Christ Centred Christmas Traditions. If you wanted to go further you could:

Attach matching scriptures for each day
Discuss what is happening in each picture
Reuse as an Easter Countdown too!

Or just use as a decoration. My 9 year old came home to find it all set up on our mantle and say wow thats really pretty! Lets hope her admiration continues in December ;)

Note* it's really hard to photograph sticks. I promise it looks much cuter in real life

Previous Advent Calendars

Bon Bon Advent
Envelope Tree Advent 
Lolly Cup Advent
Filter Paper Advent
Christmas book-a-day Advent

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bunting {A Christmas Tip}

With like 5 weeks left till Christmas I'm starting on my Christmas posts.
Previously under the 12 Days of Christmas this year I'm calling them Christmas Tips

Christmas tips could be anything - craft, presents, decorating, food etc but I'm putting them all under one topic for ease and if there are more or less than 12 this year!

On Friday night I taught a Christmas Bunting Class at a Midnight Madness activity and thought I would share it here. With the left over scraps of material I made some mini bunting (about 8cm high)

I used a rotary cutter and mat to cut triangles but scissors would work fine.
 I made a template from a piece of cardboard to cut around.
I personally prefer isosceles shaped triangles to equilateral.

*note you will get double the amount of triangles from a fabric such as spots, stripes etc - material where the pattern doesn't matter if it is upside down. On fabric with a pattern that must face right way up you will get half the amount of triangles (otherwise the reindeer etc are upside down) so if you are making lots beware you will need more of a fabric in those patterns.

Place TWO triangles together right sides out.
Sew a V down the two long sides of each {pair} triangle. Repeat for every triangle pair.
Trim if necessary.
For large triangles around 14 pairs {so 28} are needed per a 3m packet of bias binding.
For the mini triangles 21 pairs {so 42} per 3m packet of bias binding.

Sew some bias binding closed for about 15-20 cms. Then  place a triangle in between the bias binding. Slowly sew the short side, unsewn end of the triangle inside the bias binding. Leave a finger width or two gap and add another triangle. Continue till end of your bias binding.

Hang and enjoy.
I have one hanging on my fireplace mantle. Decorate the top of a dresser/bookshelf.
Along a window or even on the Christmas tree. Above a child's Bed.

A member of the class ordered 5 kits to give as teacher gifts. I've been able to cut enough tiny triangles that I have enough leftover that I think I might copy that idea. I'll add something else but with four teachers to buy for (one of my children has two part time teachers) I'm happy to have that ticked off my list of things to do.

Red and White Mini Bunting.

So festive I think anyone would love it.

and have your heart melt when your 6 year old makes her own out of the scraps of the scraps.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Clutter. Christmas I blame you.

I love christmas

no surprise to anyone really

BUT I'm starting to get that anxiety, deep breathing, eye twitching itch of craziness that hits me this time of year.

Where in I hate my tiny house - 7 people here effectively living in what feels like a 2 bdr apartment.

Wherein everyday I curse the lack of
study, sewing room, craft room, storage, and wish for large areas in which to decorate

my cupboard is bulging and can barely close due to gifts
I have homemade christmas presents half made skulking around the place
The makings for a pinata on top of the piano
Kits for a christmas bunting class also a top the piano
The makings for 3 advent calendars floating here and there and everywhere
The regular toys that make me question buying more!?!
Christmas Grocery Items and gingerbread house kits on kitchen benches
70 class gifts in a bag in my way

stashes under beds
 a top of bookshelves
on the piano
on the tiny computer desk
a messy kitchen table everyday
walking sideways to get to areas!?!

The one depressing downside to Christmas in my house


and I haven't even started baking yet or crafting with the kids.

I can't stand a cluttered dining table so it is cleared every day... but where to put the stuff!?!

Normally I love my cozy house but this time of year makes me wish that I was getting a proper large house with places for everything from santa

I've been a good girl... I promise.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Photo Family Reunion

Had a bit of a family reunion

Grandparents wedding anniversary, extended family birthdays and more birthdays.

Celebrate it all at once.

It was rainy

The girls had new cute hairclips {ebay christmas present, found by kids}

A good excuse to take some photos

We're all a bit messy in this family. Messy Genes I call it.  {Proven Here}
So when we look even remotely cute its an excuse to take LOTS of photos.
You never know when we may look passable again.

Whenever The Mr is stuck seated next to me I try to take lots of selfies.

But he just won't play along.
It's the day before our 14th engagement anniversary. I want a nice photo with you!?!?!
It's not that much to ask surely.

Goes along with my other problem.

Whenever my girls visit either of their great grandmothers I always desperately try to get a photo of them all together. Never works. Never comes out cute. Always someone crying or refusing the photo{yes grandmas included!} It makes me sad as I know my grandmothers won't be around forever.
But we keep trying right? That's all we can do.

And lastly a reason for perhaps why we are messy.
A rainy day, cute clothes, you gotta jump in puddles right. I can't resist allowing them.
and exactly 40 mins after arriving they looked like drowned dirty rats. But you don't need to see that.

Sadly I had multiple places to be and felt I left the party just as I was warming up.
I shall have to organize another family reunion.
I was just beginning to enjoy myself.
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