Advent Calendar 2016

Hey, friends!  Tomorrow is December 1st, can you believe it???

Here are a couple of pics of our advent calendar for this year.  This has become a tradition for us, and although I **thought** maybe my kids were too old for this, they insisted on it!!  We love to celebrate the coming of Christmas in this way.


(Ha – I guess as the kids get bigger the advent calendar does, too!)

This year, like previous years, there is either a small gift, candy, or and activity to do in each of the bags.  See this post if you want more info on that and some other advent calendar ideas we’ve done in the past!

The white bags I bought at Michael’s and I simply used a chalkboard paint marker to dress them up.  Then I chalked the numbers on them – sooo simple!!  I used a store-bought chalkboard banner and christmas-y mini clothes pins that I bought on clearance last year for the finishing details.  The bags are clipped and/or taped to a twine rope that is hung on the wall with 3M removable hooks.

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The kids can’t wait to get started tomorrow!!

Happy December!

trying something new

So July kind of stunk (mostly) because of an unexpected hospital stay early in the month. I had what was to be a simple outpatient surgery late in June (don’t ask, it’s a long story) and about 24 hours later was in the ER with sepsis.  No fun.  It took me nearly all of July to recover.  On the bright side, since I spent so much time on the couch, it gave me plenty of time to practice a new hobby- hand lettering.

I’m hoping to use this to make some decorative signs and gifts.  This is definitely something that needs to be practiced.   I’ve noticed the more I do it, the better it gets.  And bonus- I think it could help with scripture memorization, too!  Bible journaling, anyone?

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I bought an art journal and pens to practice with and here are some shots of my practicing… What do you think?

Back-to-school Teacher Gift

I’ve got a quick, cute back-to-school teacher gift for you!

back-to-school teacher gift

Get yourself some school-themed scrapbooking paper, some white cardstock, ribbon, and a frame.

Go to this awesome blog to print out the art for FREE!  (Thank you, bitsycreations!)

Put it in the frame and dress it up however you like, and there you have it – another quick & easy gift!

Quick and Easy Teacher Appreciation Gift

It’s National Teacher Appreciation Week!

And because I am never on-the-ball enough to have things ready beforehand, here I am again with a post you probably won’t be able to use until next year!

{be sure to Pin it!}

OR, this is so quick – if you have the materials and a free half-hour before school pickup this afternoon… you can get these done!



What you need:

Cardstock (white, blue, yellow or lime green would be good!)


Glue Stick


brads (optional)

circle cutter (optional)

drink mix singles

water bottles

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Download this word document, edit if you like (you might want to add your child’s or your family name?), and print the labels.  File is here:  water labels

Cut out labels – circles look great.

Cut a 3″ by 8 1/2″ wide strip of cardstock – this will be your tag.

Cut out a circle near the top to fit over the neck of the water  bottle.

Fold the bottom up about 2 1/2 inches and glue sides in order to form the pocket.

Add brads if desired.

Glue circle labels onto the front of the pocket.

Stick the drink mix single into the pocket, hang it on the water bottle, and voila!  Your gift is done – enjoy your handiwork!


P.S. – I am so thankful for my children’s teachers.  Please don’t think that because this gift is prepared quickly that I overlook their importance in my children’s lives!  God Bless them – I know I have a hard time spending all day with my children – and they have my kids plus a classroom full of other kids, too!  And they do this job because they love the kids and love to see them learn.  We are blessed, and have been blessed, by fabulous teachers for my kids.  So, thank you teachers! 🙂




Memorial Pendants

Sometime last year, I saw this photo of memorial pendants on Pinterest.  These are pendants that have a loved one’s writing on it.

As with many ideas I see, I thought, “I can make that myself!”  And I thought it would be a perfect gift for my mom for Christmas – with my Dad’s handwriting.

The photo I saw stated that the pendants were made from salt dough.  So I googled a recipe and whipped some up.

I spent a while in my garage, digging through boxes, to find some letters my father had written me while I was in college.

My Dad was on disability all the years I was in college, so he had a lot of time on his hands.  He wrote me a lot of letters.  And being the packrat that I am, I kept all of them.   I tell you what, finding and reading all those letters was really special.  That was my Christmas gift to me!   My Dad was known for signing his letters and cards with “all my love”.

(Not to leave my mom out of this – she also wrote me a ton of letters – probably even more than my Dad!  I am sorry that I didn’t appreciate it then, but I do now.  I thanked her recently – and joked that she either really loves me or she was just suffering from the empty nest syndrome!)


Anyways, this is what my first version of the memorial pendant looked like – made out of salt dough.  I just wasn’t what I was hoping for.



The salt dough was hard to work with – it was particularly hard to get perfectly flat.  It is also somewhat brittle once it dries – so I didn’t think it would hold up well.  I had spray painted it with silver spray paint, then inked the handwriting, and then sprayed it with a clear sealant.  It just didn’t have the polished look I wanted.  (I will note that these would make great Christmas tree ornaments if made just a bit larger.  I even made some of these family fingerprint ornaments with my extra salt dough!)


So I took a different approach.  I went to Michael’s and bought silver clay.  The clay was much easier to work with and came out much smoother.  It was also easier to “write” on.

The steps I used:

(1)  Roll out the clay to about 1/8 inch thick (or whatever thickness you desire)

(2) Cut out circle shapes.  I used a bottle cap!  Use a toothpick to make a hole in the top for hanging.

(3)  A note about the handwriting – I initially thought I’d be able to kind of “imprint” the writing onto the pendant by tracing the handwriting over the pendant, and then carve it out.  I couldn’t find a way to get this method to work, though.  I couldn’t get an imprint by tracing that was actually useable and didn’t smoosh the pendant.  So I ended up just practicing the handwriting over and over myself, then carving it by hand on the pendant using a toothpick.

(4)  Bake using the manufacturer’s directions.

(5)  Use a nail file to smooth any rough edges or extra clay around the handwriting.

(5)  I used black acrylic paint to paint over the top of the pendant.  I wiped off the paint from the surface, leaving the paint in the handwriting to make it stand out a bit more.

(6)  Spray with sealant.


I also bought a chain and other jewelry supplies (rings and  charms) at Michael’s and here’s the finished product:



I love it and so did my mom!  A little piece of Dad, close to her heart.  ❤


(If you are interested in doing something like this and want another idea – these pendants are also something I’m thinking about trying next!  It would be a bit simpler – just make a copy of the handwriting you want, then use it – no forming or baking involved!)


Holiday Prep

The problem with having a blog is that there is this pressure to have something profound to say.

Unfortunately I’ve got nothin’.

So I’ll leave you with some glimpses of what I’ve been up to lately.  Prepping for Christmas by making some handmade gifts.  I’m including links, of course, to the sites where I got the original ideas!

This is an anniversary ornament I made last year for a friend of mine that incorporated her wedding invitation.  I’m making another this year for a special couple for Christmas!  I got the inspiration and instructions here.


Working on a memorial pendant for my mom that has my Dad’s handwriting on it.  This is my first try… not happy with it because it isn’t smooth enough so I’ll be trying another version today.  Will keep you updated!


Crocheting up a storm for gifts.  Ruffly scarves (instructions here) and owl hats.


!!!!Spoiler alert!!!! 

Gifties for friends – fuzzy socks and nail polish.  Aren’t these the cutest?  Free printable tags here.




And last, but not least, just in case you’ve started thinking I’m one of those women who have it all together – crafting handmade gifts, perfectly well-behaved children, and a picture-perfect home – well, think again.  Those of you who know me well know that cleaning is always last on my list!

This is what my living room looks like this morning:


Yes, yes, those are dirty clothes on the floor, a mound of knotted yarn under the tree, and books, legos, movies, a tape measure, blankies, and shoes that have not found their true home yet.

Maybe I’d better get off the computer.  😉




Advent Calendar Ideas

This week I will be working on this year’s advent calendar for the kiddos.  Can’t believe it’s almost December already!

Hope you all had lovely Thanksgiving celebrations!

Here are a couple of handmade advent calendars we’ve done in past years:

::Christmas Tree Advent::

::Clothespin Advent::

We will be using the Clothespin Advent Calendar again this year… but with a couple of new twists!

Instead of paper bags, I will be using toilet paper tubes, decorated for Christmas and used as gift boxes!  (see this tutorial).

I try to have a good mix of both goodies and activities for the kids to do.  I found this fabulous printable list of advent activities that is going to be perfect.  Not to mention it’s going to save me some time and energy!

{By the way, both of those blogs are wonderful – I am a regular reader of both and I’m so thankful for awesome bloggers who are willing to share their great ideas!}