Monday, November 30, 2009

Making your own Advent Calendar Tutorial using recycled materials

A few weeks back I came across this idea when reading Good Mourning Glory's blog. On her post she linked to a page of handmade calendars where I found this calendar . I used the template referred to on Julieree's blog which she got from Brownie Point's blog here. So how's that for linking back?

Of course, telling you how to make one of these in the first week of December defeats the purpose of the calendar but I think you can start a little late with the calendar and still have the fun of it. And next year, you can start at the beginning of the month.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been toying with the idea of getting an advent calendar that can be used and re-used for years to come. There are any number of beautiful premade ones on the market, but I like to go the extra mile... (read: I like to do all the extra work. Well actually, I look at an idea and the the amount of work involved doesn't quite click in the head until I'm knee deep in the middle of it). In this case it was so worth the effort and I'm very happy I took on the project.

I used some light weight cardboard in my project as a money saver (I had it on hand and it was going to be recycled anyway which makes it a greener option than using all new supplies.) This calendar will probably last a few years before it will need replacing; which is much better than the cardboard pop out ones that you can find at the corner store, also I'll get to put the kind of chocolate I like in the boxes and forgo the cheap waxy chocolate flavored stuff.

What you'll need:

heavy card stock (I used recycled materials, the backing for a newsprint pad, a frozen pizza box, a cardboard insert from a sticker sheet you'll need enough for 24 boxes)
decorative paper
acid free glue stick
x-acto knife
bone folder
holiday wire hangers (for Christmas decorations)
garland (for hanging you boxes on)
your preferred chocolate and small slips of paper for writing messages and activities

As I mentioned above, I found the template for the boxes I'm using on Brownie Points Blog, you can download the template there. There are three templates on an 8.5" x 11" sheet. Because I was using cardboard from food packaging to make my boxes, I cut out one of the templates onto the board and used that to outline all the boxes on the board before cutting them all out. Use a ruler and an x-acto blade when cutting the boxes out to get straight lines.

To save a step, you can use heavy 8.5" x 11" card stock sheets; printing out the templates directly onto the card. you can find this at art supply and craft stores, then you can decorate using rubber stamps, stickers, pom poms, glitter or whatever you want. You can also try scrap book supply stores for holiday themed papers and attach laminating sheets to the backside to give the boxes support.

I covered my cardboard with some decorative paper using an acid free glue stick. This allowed me to use up some of the decorative origami sheets I've been hoarding for the last 8 years. To apply the paper to the board, apply the glue to one side of the template and apply the decorative paper with the front of sheet facing up. Burnish the paper with the bone folder.

The next step is to mark the fold lines and make the boxes. Use the printout of the template to make the score marks on the card side of the box. Lay the template down on the cut out shape and, using your ruler again, score the fold lines with the bone folder. Use the pointy side of the folder to make the score, then use the flat side to fold along your score.

Attach the hanging wire to the inside of the box using a small strip of tape, the hanging hook will stick out of the top of the box when the box is folded. Once the hook is attached form the box by folding in the walls into shape.

Fill the box with your chocolate and a small slip of paper with a special activity or craft idea to do that day.

Close your box by folding the bottom flaps together and sealing them with a decorative sticker. Each box should have a number from 1 to 24 on the outside. you can hand write the numbers, use rubber stamps or stickers to date each box.

For hanging I picked up a snowflake garland from the Dollar Store and hang each box along the garland, which is hung on one of the shelves in the living room bookcase. I let the Peanut hang each box in random order.

Some of the activities we included in our boxes; are baking days, snowman crafts, going to the Santa Clause Parade, taking a ride on the Bright Lights train, Decorating a Ginger Bread House, Visiting the local heritage town to take a rid on the Carousal and some other fun holiday crafts.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

27 days

As I'm writing this I'm starting my 27th day with a cold that will not quit. Well, it's starting to slow down (This next part will be full of TMI but I'm a sharing kinda gal. I won't share my germs but I'll tell you all about them) I still sound like Bea Arthur when I talk, I'm still feeling the pain in the ol' sinuses and I'm still coughing the big phlegmy coughs but it's not the non stop can't get that stuff out kind of cough any more. I think I see the end of the tunnel.

I may have bitten off more than I can chew with a new project for the holidays. Last year we did all our shopping handmade online, with a few exceptions. This year we're doing it all over again except that most of our gifts will be handmade by us, either in the form of a family portrait that I will be setting up in the next week or so (thank all Gods for the timed shutter release) or tree ornaments/ sun catchers that we are putting together. Doing the handmade online thing leaves so much more room to celebrate the season without the stress. We'll be spending more time together as a family baking, decorating and visiting the Bright Lights train and adding some new activities to the list of family time, which leads me to the project that is turning out to be more work that I thought when I decided to do it.

I'm making a handmade advent calendar to help us count down through holidays. Growing up my parents used to bring us the calendars with the cardboard pop out doors filled with cheap chocolate molded into sometimes unrecognizable holiday shapes with the one big door for the 24th. I always wanted to be able to reuse them (I'm a bit of a pack rat). Last year we bought one of them for the Peanut and I got the idea that I should buy a wooden one to reuse every year but with money being so tight I never got around to it. Then a few weeks back I came across a do it yourself version that I thought looked pretty simple...

Well I'm in the midst of making one and I'll be documenting all the bits for another DIY tutorial coming up this week.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A thousand Words

the sun broke out for a little while the other day and lit
the drops hanging off the Japanese Maple up like diamonds.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hungry hungry hippos and candlelight baths

This year I'm gifting for my sister. What can I say about my sister? She's the baby in the family and one of the toughest cookies I know. She doesn't pull any punches and will tell you exactly what's on her mind, she'll also say things just for the shock value when someone is being rude. She's mom to my three fantastic nephews and she's a rabid collector of Hippos.

In the past, I've gotten her a hand carved soapstone hippo and she's got a massive collection of toys, collectibles and photographs of hippos. I could shop for hippo things for her, and hippo is one of the search terms I plan on using. But she's just not all about the hippos, she also enjoys a good bath, with nice scented stuff and candles.

Here are a few things that came up in my searches:

Hippo Ring from Jujulee: Zoo rings are here! Hippo ring made from acrylic
glass 1/8 inch thick,Acrylic is light weight and very sturdy. I now offer all my rings
in many
colors: black, white, clear, blue, bronze, brown, orange, yellow, and red.

The above ring would have been perfect but my sister refuses to wear rings that stand up from her finger. She prefers simple bands on her fingers. I thought the ring was super cool though, and the rest of the items in Jujulee's shop are equally fantastic and well worth a look.

The Hippo from MDSparks: I love love love this cute little hippo charm.
Attached to a sterling silver bail and hung it onto a 16 inch sterling silver chain
that closes with a hook and eye clasp. A cute little hippopotamus for your collection!

This is an adorable option which would probably make it into everyday wear for my sister. and there are some gorgeous pieces that are not-hippo related in MDsparks as well.

Vintage Wade Porcelain Miniature Animal
Collection Lot from
ChaoticWhimsey: My mom is an antique
dealer. As a
child I would go with her to antique shows and look for little
treasures. What I ended
up collecting was Wade porcelain miniatures- they were inexpensive,small, and just
difficult enough to find to keep it interesting. 20 years later and I have
a plethora of the little
The fruits of all my searching include this cute little collection of 6 miniature
Wade porcelain animals. It includes a rabbit, gorilla, camel, beaver,
hippo and zebra.

These miniatures looked promising. ChaoticWhimsey has so many fantastic items that I've added her to my list of favourites to check out again and again.

There were so many listings on my search for Hippos on Etsy which was wonderful. Searching in malls and more mainstream stores for Hippo related items is more challenging and finding something that is a little unique on top of that can be a hair pulling experience. None of the above items made it to my short short list and are all up for grabs as I write this.

Searching for bath goods to contribute to a little self indulgence turned up heaps and heaps of items to choose from. Here are a few:

Vanilla Noir Sugar Scrub Cubes by WickedSoaps: Vanilla Noir brings to
mind the glamour of Ava Gardner or Rita Hayworth and the reminder of a bygone era.
Madagascar Vanilla, Dark Vanilla Bean, Black Plum are mixed with Bergamot
Orange and Warm Musk to bring you this dark, sophisticated scent. A wicked blend of creamy
goat's milk soap, skin loving shea butter, and pure granulated sugar, for a convenient body
wash that will leave your skin gently exfoliated and glowing.

WickedSoaps has a wide assortment of luxurious bath products that made me salivate, (I'm a soak in the tub with candle light kind of girl too). As an added bonus you can take advantage of the Thanksgiving Weekend Sale of 25% off everything in the shop! The sale runs from Wednesday, November 25th through Monday, November 30th. If you've got a bather on your list get over there now.

Sand Dollar Lavendar Herbal Sachet by Willywaw: The soothing smell
of lavender is as relaxing as a summer day. This herbal sachet is hand
screen printed on linen union cloth with a cornflower blue sand dollar and filled
with a mixture of lavender and buckwheat hulls. Measures 5 x 5 inches, printed
on the front and back is plain with a Willywaw label. Listing is for one sachet.

Willywaw is another shop with an excellent variety of hand made items.

To find out more about the items and shops I've mentioned here click on the pictures to visit the shops.

MIA why I haven't been posting

When I get sick it's a long drawn out affair which lasts way longer than most people's battles with the cold and flu. My body likes to attack the Neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) in my system so my abilities to fight off illness is a little compromised depending on whether the roller coaster ride that is my my white blood count is on a rise or heading downhill. The good thing, according the the hematologist we went to last fall, is that my body does reproduce the cells, but I get my blood tested every four months to keep track of the ups and downs.

So I'm heading into week three of a coughing, hacking, nose blowing, sinus head aches and sore throat bonanza. I'm on antibiotics this week though, after two separate visits to the clinic last week. These visits really illustrate how the whole H1N1 scare is affecting people. The first involved the Dr standing as far away from me as possible, asking a few questions, treating me like I was wasting his time and putting him in danger of catching something with the advice to come back if it didn't get better in a week. The second visit with another Dr involved a look at my throat, in my ears and a thorough listen to my lungs with a prescription for strep throat and advice to come in again if I experienced pain when breathing and or blood when coughing.

And I haven't really felt up to posting, the laptop has actually been closed most of the week while I've travelled to and from the pharmacy to pick up more tissues, cough drops and some vitamin C for the Peanut who had a fever for three days last week and is now stuffed up. I've been reading my favourite blogs and commenting here and there but posting myself has seemed like too much work. I'm hoping that this week I'll be feeling more up to it, as well as getting the house decked out for winter celebrations.

How are you faring with all the bugs and ickies floating around?

Monday, November 16, 2009

there's a beluga

hanging out in my sinus cavities. That's how I've finally managed to describe how Mommy is feeling to the Peanut. It's kind of backfired though, she wants me to take it out so she can take care of it. on the plus side the barnacle in my throat seems to be shrinking, now if I could just get rid of the bend you over, breath stealing coughing fits I'll almost be feeling back to normal. Of course the cold meds are to be thanked for that.

I'm just pleased that the Peanut has so far managed to avoid the bug from us. keeping our fingers crossed and washing our hands like we bought shares in the hand soap industry. We got started on our holiday shopping on the weekend. We're going handmade/vintage wherever possible this year. We have three gifts off the list and about ten more to go not including the Peanut or ourselves. Next on the list is for the nephews we have six on the list, the rest are on the gift draw (wow time flies it seems like yesterday that they were watching Mumbo on the VCR and crawling into my lap for a story) I'll be doing another gift giving post in the next few days if the cold doesn't tackle me again. hope you are all feeling well and keeping the flu and the cold bugs at bay

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thousand Words Thursday

I'll keep this short, I'm battling a bug, coughing, sore throat and sinus problems are keeping me under the radar. Fortunately the Peanut doesn't seem to have a barnacle in her throat (the peanut's way of saying I have a sore throat) yet so she me get our of this unscathed, I'm keeping my fingers crossed. and limiting lovin's to kisses on the cheeks and foretheads (the Peanut's word for forehead) and hugs and snuggles whenever they're required.

The light outside our window was just too good to miss, the dark
looming clouds and the glowing autumnal leaves begged to be
photographed, so I obliged

Monday, November 9, 2009

The candy coma

is continuing here but only because I've hidden the goods from the Peanut and the husband. Last week was a rough one, as was the week before with sudden cases of bad sinus colds and too much to do and a lot of it not getting done.

On a positive note our Toilet has been revamped with water saving plumbing type things, the wall behind the tank is sparkly clean as is the back of the tank since we took the opportunity of getting a good bathroom cleaning in while the the toilet was in pieces. My husband is not a plumber but he did an awesome job and there is no longer the soothing sound of running water coming from the bathroom.

This week we start our holiday shopping. On my side of the family we draw names. With one grandma, two parents, an uncle, four siblings and their significant others, and 10 kids the holidays could get pretty pricey so we draw names. My husbands side of the family is a little easier and a little trickier but there are less of them.

This year the husband got my Pa. Pa is my second dad. He's a rough gruff cowboy farmer who thinks that a covered wagon camping trip is the epitome of camping, with a wagon that includes a small battery run fridge and heat and a fold down bed from an old camper I don't think he's that far off. He built his covered wagon from the base of an vintage wagon and added a hand sewn canvas my Uncle (a upholsterer and glass artist) made and slowly added little luxuries as he thought of them so that he could entice my Mom into going with him.

He keeps Draught horses and a few cows and he's the mighty machine Grampa in the family.

This year we're doing the buy hand-made route again adding to that we've included vintage to the list of acceptable purchases for gifts as well. To look for Pa we looked in both handmade as well as in the Vintage section of Etsy. Without giving away what we've decided on I've listed a few picks to suit the Pa. When possible I'll be browsing local artists and arts and crafts venues.

When I'm buying for someone on Etsy I take into account their hobbies and personality, among a few different terms that fit the Pa, I also went looking for "covered wagon" in the Etsy search. This term brought up these things from Susantique, MaineMooseToys and CountryWindows on Etsy:

Prairie Chick...Vintage Covered Wagon Still Bank by Banthrico
if Chicago from Susantique
: Vintage covered wagon still bank by
Banthrico Inc. of Chicago.Lots of detail cast in base metal with what appears
to be a copperwash, and there is a lot of patination that has occurred
over the years. Coin slot is on the bottom. Key is long since gone.

Measures 4 1/2" x 4" x 2 3/4".

was first sold in 1970 and last sold in 1971.
Dark amber glass bottom,white painted top,gold cap,
with Original box. Around 4 1/2 inches long.

Old Wagonin Sepia from CountryWindows:
An old wagon that did havethe cover on it at one time, bu was
taken off. The days when peope traveled across country in
covered wagons. This print is 8x10 inches

Of course there was a lot to choose from on Etsy but these items really caught my eye and were on the short list. The final picks aren't here. My Mom reads the blog and you never know who may be looking over her shoulder. I will post links to the shops that we did buy from once we've made our purchases, in the meantime the shops listed here have some pretty incredible items to choose from. If you have the rough gruff cowboy/farmer type on your list these are pretty good places to start your gift search.

Are you buying online and handmade this year?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Thousand Words: Light show

fireworks on Halloween

what you get if you give a 3 year old a glow stick at
bedtime to ward off the scary dark

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I had meant to follow-up on the blog-house-keeping from Monday yesterday but I was sidetracked with Mom duties. There were scissors, glue, glitter, paint and marbles involved and it was super fun. There was also outdoor fun with the magnifying glass.

Juggling online work and Mom duties can be kind of tough, there are days when I feel that the Peanut has ingested entirely too much PBS or CBC kids for any one's good just so that I can finish writing a listing description or a blog feature, other days I have a nice balance and still others I just want to devote 100% to the Peanut.

So back to housekeeping:

During Mrs. B's 31 days of Halloween I entered a lot of the giveaways, there were so many great items up for grabs that I couldn't wait to check in each morning to see what the prizes were. I've already mentioned that I won two fabulous prizes. My ghost ornament has taken up permanent residence in the kitchen window above the sink.

In addition to my little haunter I also snagged Yarnigras' super cool Skelepins. Val, of Yarnigras is one busy lady; always working on something whether it's cooking and baking, reading, making mosaics, sewing, or crochet. I received my Skelepins in the mail just in time for Halloween week. I chose one in each colour and then let the Peanut choose which one she wanted on her coat. She of course picked the bejewelled and sparkly red one, I took the more subdued gray and the husband's coat was decked out in the black. We've gotten so many comments on the pins and I can't wait for next year to wear them again. Make sure you go check out Val's blog, it's worth a read just to see all the goodies that she made for the Halloween season.

In addition to winning a few wonderful little Halloween treats on Mrs. B's blog, I also participated by offering a treat of my own. I'm mailing off Ghost Moon to Tywonna; the winner of that giveaway today. I've also included an extra special little treat picked especial for Tywonna; I hope she likes it. Mrs. B will be getting a nice thank-you note in the mail sent today as well. She did such a stellar job of organizing posting and announcing winners that I thought a little more than a thank you message in the comments was called for.

I'm done, Housekeeping all kept, now it's time to set off on a post office adventure with the Peanut.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Heather from Joy de Vivre photo tagged me!

I'm up to the challenge of course.

Here are the rules:

1. Open your first photo folder.

2. Scroll to the 10th photo.

3. Post the photo on your blog and tell the story behind it.

4. Tag people to do the same.

This is the Peanut having her first bath at home. At the time she was less than thrilled and she's probably wishing that it was dinner time instead of bath time here. For the first few months we bathed her on the table in the dining room of our apartment, Other than the fact that this photo brings back so many memories of those first few days as a family instead of a couple, this photograph also features my Dad who passed away when I was 15. An enlargement of his passport photograph is framed int he background.

I'm not much for tagging with these things, If you want in on the photo tag fun follow the rules and let me know, I'll check ou your photograph and the story behind it too.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yesterday was a day of catching up, resting

and recovering. Last week with the husband home sick for two days and getting ready for Saturday's festivities; things got left undone which meant that come Sunday morning the house was a mess and the laundry was in arrears.

So yesterday was catch-up time and nap time and walk down the hill to the independent grocery store and pick up a few things for dinner time.

Our Halloween was the best yet even with the small number of Trick or Treaters we had come to the door. Our neighborhood is surrounded by schools, there are at least three elementary schools within walking distance from our house and I see kids walking to and from school all the time. I was sure that we would be swamped with kids. I even asked our neighbor how many kids she usually gets each year (she said about 100) and we bought for that number and then added more. We were covered in every sense of the word for the onslaught but it didn't come.

We left a little later than I thought we would and we were the only ones on our block for a good 45 minutes. This meant the Peanut was loaded down with treats galore on her travels. We sent the Husband home after 45 minutes to answer the door and hand out our offerings. We loaded his pockets down with treats to make room for more and when it was all said and done the peanut scored a huge salad bowl of chocolate and (as she says it) lommy pops and other candies.

We weren't far behind the Husband on our trick or treating and when we arrived home there had been no-one to the door. We got our first treaters at 8:30 and our last at 10:30. Our visitors reached just below 20 and that's including the 6 university students going door to door to collect for the food bank. So we are loaded down with the Peanut's treats and the left overs from our offerings to the spooky crowds. Our gingerbread house and people will be candied to the Nth degree this year.

In the lower mainland where we live Halloween isn't just about the candy it's also about setting off fireworks and other loud explosives. From our living room window we could see the fireworks going off as close as a few doors down and as far away as the tall condo's by the large shopping center in Burnaby. It made for a very loud night.

Last year the Peanut didn't really "get" Halloween until the part where she started to pay attention to what the nice people were putting into her bag. This year she was excited about the festivities well in advance and is already looking forward to next year's parties, activities and trick or treating. How did your night go? Did you have few visitors to your door this year? Celebrate your beloved dead? Did you go to a party? The Rocky Horror Picture Show? Or did you have a quiet night in with a scary movie?

It wasn't just my laundry and house cleaning that I've been neglecting; I have a few blog housekeeping items that I'll be posting about tomorrow. See you then.
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