Wednesday, November 16, 2011

All about Advent... and a calendar round-up

Last year, one of my facebook friends made an incredibly awesome Advent Calendar and I was totally inspired. Honestly, I really wasn't even sure what Advent was, we never celebrated it when I was a child, but all I knew was that she made a really cool looking calendar with pockets and I wanted in on the fun! Of course, it was too late in the season to make one last year, but I've been eagerly anticipating the start of this Christmas season so that our little family could participate.

But, first things first. What is Advent?

Quite simply, Advent is a countdown to Christmas. It's traditionally a time for Christians to reflect on the birth of Christ and to prepare for his coming. Advent is taken from the latin word "adventus" which literally means "coming". Advent actually begins the 4th Sunday before Christmas, but Advent calendars begin on December 1st.

The Advent Calendar is simply a physical way to countdown the 24 days of December leading up to Christmas and there are literally a hundred different ways you can do it. There is no right or wrong way and it can be a simple or elaborate as you want it to be. In most cases, the calendar contains 24 vessels of some sort - one for each day of December. Pockets, drawers, cones, stockings, envelopes, get the idea. Alternatively, the advent calendar could be something that is added too every day until it is finally completed on the 24th. An example of that kind of calendar would be a mini tree that gets an ornament each day.

The web is chock full of amazing homemade calendars and fabulous ideas for celebrating advent and there are plenty of other calendar round-ups, but here are some interesting ones that I thought were worth sharing.

Make an Advent Calendar:

This is about the cutest thing I've ever seen - A felt garland of bulb lights. You've got to click over and check it out. If we had a mantel, I'd totally go that route.

I'm really leaning toward making something similar to this for our calendar this year. Love, love it.

This activity advent calendar requires a minimal amount of sewing and is totally functional AND adorable.

Here is a basic quilted calendar with pockets - there are so many variations to this calendar!

Another cute non-quilted hanging calendar with pockets. Love the linen look!

No sew, easy advent calendar ideas:No sew, easy advent calendar ideas:

Paper Chain - It doesn't get much simpler than that! We used to make a paper chain to countdown to birthdays and other exciting events when I was little. This would be a great way to get the kids involved in making the calendar - have them decorate paper to be cut into strips and linked together. As a twist, write an activity (or the first clue for a scavenger hunt!) on the inside of each chain. Each day as the links are removed, the child can find out what fun activity is planned for the day.

Paper Origami Boxes - This is a particularly cute little paper calendar.

Paper Cones - Okay, this is adorable. You could just as easily make this into a garland for the mantel or staircase.

Buy a Calendar or Kit*:

These are all from Etsy, because 1) Etsy is awesome and 2) supporting local, home-based businesses is so vital at Christmas time!

This one is PDF file that walks you through printing little paper boxes that can be arranged anyway you want:

Here's another DIY kit that is SUPER cute. This one has a pocket with a ornament that signifies a different part of the Christmas story that can be hung on the tree each day.

This one is another garland version with little distressed tags for each day of Advent.

Another garland with a pennant look. This DIY kit includes Bible verses paraphrasing the Christmas story for each day.

*Note: I found all these calendars just by browsing on Etsy, I've never ordered from these sellers and thus can't personally recommend them - I just think their stuff is super cute. ;)

I think I've finally decided on plan for our advent calendar this year - I have fabric ordered and list started for activities and gifts for Madeline. But I think I'll save all that for another post - this is getting lengthy! Look for that post next week.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dresden Plate fun...

Since I've begun dabbling in quilting, I've been dying to try out the dresden plate block. It's so very vintage, but can still be modern and fun with the right fabric choices. (side note, the more I sew, the more I realize how much it really, really is all about the fabric)

I made this little table topper for my sister's birthday - she just did a little kitchen revamp and I tried to tie in a lot of the colors she chose.

Dresden Plate table topper

I intended to just quilt an outline around the flower, but I got carried away and ended up carrying the zig zagging pattern all the way to the edges of the topper. I kind of love it.

Dresden Plate table topper - details

My "to-do" list is a mile long, but I'm still hoping to make a Christmas version of this for my table.

Doesn't it look cute on my sister's corner table?

Dresden Plate table topper


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Little Bo Peep and Her Sheep

It's been a busy summer. And a busy beginning of fall (can someone please tell me how it can possibly be November?). Anyway, that's my excuse for being so absent. But November seems like a good place to get back in the swing of things in bloggy land. Also, yesterday was Halloween...and that's my weak segue into sharing pictures of my cutie pies in their costumes.

Meet Little Bo Peep and her sheep. They make a cute pair, no?

I know that my days of dressing them in coordinating costumes are numbered, so I figured I would take advantage while Maddie can still be easily persuaded. She was honestly excited that her brother was going to be her little sheep.

Will was a little angel and didn't fuss at all about wearing a hood and hooves.

Will the sheep

Madeline had SUCH a good time trick or treating (this was her first year), that I have a feeling that I'm going to be hearing about it for weeks to come.

Her costume is a doctored up version of The Precious Dress, which you know I just love. I've lost count of how many times I've used it, but you can see a couple versions here. I also borrowed some ideas from the Cinderella dress you can find over here. I searched high and low, but I couldn't find a tutorial for exactly what I wanted for her bonnet, so I just winged it. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, even though I was totally improvising as I went.

Maddie's eyes lit up when she looked at herself in the mirror after trying on her costume - and that always makes those hours behind the sewing machine worth it. As a bonus for Mommy, this dress will also double as her Plow Days dress for next spring.

Little Bo Peep and her sheep

Will's lamb costume is a Tom Arma costume I scored off of ebay on the cheap. Love that!

I really have been busy in the past few months doing all sorts of crafty things, including a complete bedroom set for Will, so I have plenty to share - just need to carve out the time for blogging! Wiping noses and filling bellies always comes first, you know. ;)