DIY Advent Calendar(s) With Illustrated Windows

I have started two years ago a tradition (it seems) in our household to make each year a DIY advent calendar for my little one(s).

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This year the book shop and publisher Artforum was giving away printed pictures of Vladimir Kral’s illustrations from the wonderful Slovak version of the Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder (in honour of it’s this year’s reprint) to cut out and use for your DIY Advent Calendar. So I just had to use those (since Vladimir Kral’s illustrations are just truly wonderful!).

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Somehow I had set my mind on making paper houses this year. Of course, I did not realize what it meant to make 24 paper houses, before I started. Haha. I’m just crazy, really. I drafted, cut and glued them all myself. But it was fun! It meant 3 nights with little sleep, but still it was fun! :-)

But I have to admit, had I started to do them earlier, it might be without the sleep deprivation. Though, then again…. naaah, who am I kidding… I know myself, I just would do it the same way, even if I had more time. I just can’t stop, once I start doing something (like this).

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Since it was not done in one night, Liv saw the making of her advent calendar. First, she said she didn’t want one. I said ok, I’ll do it for myself then. On the next day however, she already saw three finished houses. And she loved them right away.

Right away she wanted to add to the process of making them and said she will paint them. Though, my intention was to leave them white, I love that she wanted to do it with me, so I didn’t tell her anything. And she started to draw on them. And glue on them. And put surprises inside of them for me! How wonderful is that!

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This house already has it’s own garden and a drawing with daddy.

I do love the fact that it’s going to be something we both worked on! I know she will in time probably paint them all… And I’m so looking forward to it! Though I did not at all intend it that way, I think it’s so much better when she takes something I created for her and turns it into something else!

Call me crazy, but I also did a second advent calendar. Yes, I am cockoo.

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(Work in progress)

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Though I have two kids now, one doesn’t need an advent calendar yet. Still, I had those extra pictures… And I just wanted to try a second thing with them. Last year I wanted to make an advent calendar with toilet rolls, but we didn’t have enough rolls at home (and I decided to make it last minute, so there was no time to collect them), so I made something else. So this year I had put away toilet rolls throughout the year, and now I had a huge bunch of them stored away. And I just had my mind set on using them too. So I did.

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I did decide to use it somewhat differently though. This one is not full of things. It is actually empty. Yes, you heard (read) me right. One side is open. It is a calendar of Thankfulness. Because there is so much to be thankful for… and it has been on my mind this year a lot. We have been through such a difficult year, but I very strongly feel, that still, no matter our hardships to almost even put food on the table in a certain period of this year, we still have so much. So much. As opposed to others in this world, who struggle even so much more.
I know Liv is still young to fully understand this, but she has already such difficult themes going through her head, I thought it might be a good idea to bring in this idea of thankfulness. So each day, we say one thing what we are thankful for. And “put” it inside. In the end it will be (hopefully) full. And we can read all of the things we were thankful for on Christmas Eve.

I hope it will work out. :-)

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It can be any little thing. I don’t interfere with what she says she’s thankful for. Today for example it was that daddy bought new plasters (band-aids). :-)

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(Liv also came up with taping over the numbers of the days gone by, to see better the countdown of left days till Christmas. What a good idea!)

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Oh, almost forgot. What did we put inside this year?

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Well, actually Liv really needed new socks, panties and (less needed, but still) slippers. So not wanting to buy too many un-needed stuff, and not wanting to spend too much (and having to buy those anyway) I took advantage of that and put it in there. Also, I saw those cute wooden traffic signs somewhere for 6 euros. Liv loves to play with cars and she’s very interested in traffic signs lately. When we go somewhere we talk a lot about what those signs mean. So I bought those. And divided these into a few days. 11, to be exact. :-)

The rest is some little things. A play-dough, two lollipops, chocolate lollipop and two chocolate coins, a stamp, a cookie cutter, a jingle bell, a cute little striped suitcase, a wooden whale to paint on, decorative tapes, cooked chestnuts (Liv loves those), modeling clay and this thingy you can look through different glasses you add to see how insects see (cool, not?).

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I didn’t put numbers on the houses this time. I meant to. But then I thought… ah who cares, it doesn’t matter in what order she will open them.

Fun fact for the end. I put each slipper in a different house (because the houses were too small to put in both into one). Ha. :-)

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7 Fun Surfaces To Paint On

So I’ll be honest with you. If you’ve been following my blog, you might have noticed, it’s been somewhat quiet around here. Life with a baby and a 3,5 year-old is pretty fun, but tiresome. If you’re a parent, you know what I’m talking about. If not, well, you sure have heard of it… or you’ll have to believe me. So, my activity, not only on this blog, but overall in doing creative stuff is somewhat lower than I would like it to be. But I know it will come back.

Not only is it the life-with-kids part. Here comes the being-honest-with-you part. We also have had a rather somewhat difficult situation at home, which included our finances. So as a result of all these things, we’ve been rather doing low-key things around here.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Low-key can be good. Can make you do fun stuff. And that’s why I want to share with you a few things in the coming time, what we’ve done, all very cheap, easy and fun. I hope you will enjoy them!

Well, I felt like I should write a broader introduction since I haven’t written for a while, but let’s talk more about what you’re here for.

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Painting can be fun, right? I don’t know about you, but we love painting. Ever since Liv was a baby, we started painting with edible paints on paper and in the tub, and she loved it ever since. Nowadays, I rarely “prepare” something as a painting activity. She has her own paints, pencils, brushes, etc., and a little desk for her “work” in our workroom. She comes and does whatever she wants with them whenever she feels like it.

But from time to time, it can be pretty fun to paint on something else, rather than on paper. So here’s some ideas!

Plant pots

This was a wonderful summer activity for us. We have actually painted on a few, some in my parent’s garden, some at home on our balcony. Some were “washed clean” again by the rain, but that’s ok. The experience, the fun are important, not the outcome, or as in this case, the lasting of it.

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(Btw, no, that is not a filter on the photo, my phone just took it as it is… I guess it doesn’t handle too much light.. but now it just feels like summer, doesn’t it?)

Rocks

We have painted on rocks numerous times. Especially in summer, again. So simple. And you have the additional fun of collecting the rocks and picking for example only flat ones, or whatever you choose are the ones you want. Or, for example, going barefoot through a stream, then finding a nice big rock and leaving a message behind… (Liv was here) ;-)

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Cardboard, boxes and cardboard boxes

Cardboard (boxes) are great to paint on, similar like paper (of course), yet you get a different feeling somehow. Of course, you can buy a lot of pretty storage boxes at stores like IKEA or any other shop, really. But when you think about it, there are actually a lot of boxes lying around that you can use. Whether it be from some kind of food, or a box from shoes or something else you bought. We recycled and reused a lot of boxes lately for different purposes. And it’s really nice to add a little touch to them with paint (and paint over those ugly inscriptions and images to hide, of course).

So this is Liv’s new box for her art stuff.

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Small box from phone, I think… For small things to put away.

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Boxes from a warm drink tasting similar to coffee, except it’s not coffee, but something plant-based. I used to drink it a lot after giving birth, when I wanted to have a placebo feeling of drinking coffee, but tried to drink minimum of it. Now we painted on the boxes and made toys for Sebastian out of it.

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(No, that’s not supposed to go in it. That’s one of my weights for sewing. Funny though she tried to put it in..)

A piece of cardboard. Liv’s first drawing of a figure. (If you want to know, it’s actually Tefiti from the movie Moana, coming out of the water. You can even see her green heart. Haha, who would have told that would be my daughter’s first figure drawing…)

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Also a piece of cardboard. Liv can put on shoes by herself by now, but she still has trouble deciding which shoe goes on which foot. I made the shoe steps drawing around her actual shoes and then tracing her foot on it, Liv painted the base on which we glued these on.

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Wooden boxes from fruits

Similar to cardboard boxes, really.. You buy fruits like oranges or strawberries or whatever in it often. And what do you do with it? We like to paint on it.

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Tea-set

I’ve written about this on a post earlier, but I wanted to include it here in this list, since it was such a fun experience! Liv was very interested in pouring into glasses some time ago and we had this old tea-set, which we never used, so one day we decided to decorate it a bit and leave it for Liv to play with.

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Fabric

This too, I have written in a separate post, when we made with Liv a shawl for my mother. Liv loved doing this… We should absolutely repeat that some time soon.

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Eggs

Now I know, Christmas is around the corner and I’m talking about painting eggs, right? However, even though, it’s something usually done before Easter, you can totally do it any time in the year… right? This was actually on Liv’s bidding. She found paints for painting eggs and really begged me to do this for a few times. I always told her, not right now, because she would come up with it just before we had to go to sleep, or before we had to leave for somewhere. But then finally, the time was right for once and we did it. Who cares it’s middle of autumn… It’s fun to do any time of the year!

Crap, I have however forgotten to do some photos of this, so I’ll have to add those lateeer… sorry for that :-)

Now, I know, all those are nothing ground-breaking. But, as I said in the beginning, we went very low-key, so they’re all things you probably got lying around at home. It might feel refreshing though to look around and see stuff outside the box what you might use.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve had some fun surfaces to paint on! Anything goes! :-)

 

Making a DIY Stamped Shawl With a Toddler

I love it when Liv gets in the mood of creating something together with me. Of course, when you’re creating something together with a toddler, you have to be more patient and forget about creating something “perfect”. Though, that is a very relative word, since for me something she has made is of course more perfect than anything else. I should rather say, don’t expect it to be “Pinterest-perfect”, as I have recently seen someone use.

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Just today we have been with Liv at a kids-friendly cafe near us, where there was a young woman prepared to make paper flowers with kids who would be interested. Liv was. So she sat down with her and made one. I sat there, watching them and it stroke me then how I did not like her (the young woman’s) approach to working with kids. Sure, she was friendly and everything. But she did most of the work herself, not leaving much room for Liv to do anything. Maybe it was just that the project was for a bit older kids. Though, I would wonder she would choose something like that for a place where most kids are 3 and under, since above 3 usually kids go to kindergartens/preschool in the mornings, not to cafes with their moms. Or it might have been that she was a bit in a hurry since we were the last ones to do something there with her and then she put everything away and left. It seemed though like she was more worried to make a pretty flower that could be photographed into a crafts book, rather than letting children try to do it on their own (or with less help).

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When you do something with kids, you have to learn to be (very) patient. (Little) kids (often) do take a long time to do something. Sure, they often have short attention spans, and you might have to remind them what you are going to do, or do a lot of it yourself in the end. Sometimes that’s how it works. Also, whatever you had on your mind you were doing, it will come out different than you had envisioned. Different does not mean worse. It’s just… different. :-) I admit, it does take me by surprise sometimes. Yet, I always love to see what that little mind of my daughter’s comes up with.

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By my experience, it’s best to just let go of your visions and go with (more or less) whatever your child comes up with. The outcome might surprise you and you may like it even more, because you know (your) child (or whoever you are doing it with) has put some of their thoughts and ideas, a part of him or her, into it. And the child will like and enjoy it the more, because they are not just pushed into doing something but they were able to make their own choices and add their ideas to the project.

I do not mean to preach. I hope it did not come out like it. And if it did, I’m sorry. It was just a train of thoughts that came out of me after today’s experience.

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My initial intention was to share with you something we did together. It was actually a Christmas present for my mother.

Mine was the idea. The outcome is Liv’s doing. It is quite different than I had envisioned. But I love it the more for it. I believe, my mother does too.

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Liv did pretty much almost all of the choices. I basically helped her do it. She chose the fabric we would make the shawl out of. I just gave her a few to choose from. She sat with me behind the sewing machine, as we sewed together around the edges. She helped me push buttons on the sewing machine. (And change all the settings on my overlock machine, while being a bit bored while I was sewing, to make it more interesting for me the next time I would need to use the overlock.)

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She chose a lot of the colours we used. Then we took the wooden stamps she got in one of her packages of her Advent Calendar and did the stamping together. I showed her how to use them, but then she did it pretty much on her own a lot of the time. Here and there I would help her. And in the meanwhile I added some on my own.

Liv also added her own drawings and signatures to it.

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And in the end she chose what trim we would use for the short edges.

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I would have chosen different ones for my mum. But does it matter? No. I would have done a lot of things differently if it was just me doing it. But I so love the outcome. I love that it was pretty much her doing.

DIY Felt Indian Headbands

For about five minutes I was sitting there thinking about it, if it was OK to write Indian or if I should rather use Native American. Seriously. Then I just decided to leave it be. I hope nobody gets offended by it.

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Liv is really getting into Role-Playing-Games lately. Indians, knights, princesses, ballet dancers, pirates, police,… anything, really.

One of her favourite (role playing) games is playing Indians with her dad, where they paint on their faces and catch some little toy animals which get to be tied to little poles with shoelaces. Ok, they’re not shoe-laces really, they’re actually meant for practicing putting beads on, but they look like it.

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So, you may or more probably may not remember, when I wrote about the Advent Calendar I made for Liv this (last) year… well, for this Christmas… I wrote I had the intentions to sew something for at least one of the packages. Of course, I was putting it off until a day or two before she was going to open it, but I did it. And since the above described game is such a favourite, I made two headbands for her (and us).

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I made them out of felt, since it is easy and quick to work with, you don’t need to finish edges or anything, it holds form well enough, but is yet something you don’t need to worry about when in use of little kids. It’s not easy to be crushed or damaged.

The colours I used were chosen on the go, really, whatever combination seemed pleasing to my eye at the moment. So one ended up being in earthy tones, the other one in a combination of blues and yellows. The lighter blue felts were too thin, though, so I had to put another one underneath. This way the headband is a little bit different from each side. The blue and yellow one is also Liv’s favourite.

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I topstiched each “feather” to add a little bit of the feather-like texture, not because it would have been necessary (except the thin ones I had to make double-layered, as mentioned). In a minimalistic sense, of course, as you can see.

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Liv has a head circumference that is 50cm/19.6inches. I used 20cm of elastic band (for each, of course), the rest is two felt stripes sewn together and the “feathers” in between. The feathers were drawn very much “from the eye” as I went, each a little bit different in size.

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I’m happy to say it was one of her favourite packages from the Advent Calendar. :-)

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And though, this little cousin is yet too small to play Indians with Liv, it’s surprisingly the only (usable) photo I have yet where you could see it on Liv’s head.

DIY Stuffed Fabric Whale

The weather seems like it’s turning slowly towards spring, even though it would much more suit me to be winter for just a little while longer. I’ve been very busy (and tired) these last few weeks, so let me catch up on things I’ve wanting to post since December. Ok, since Christmas.

My nephew loves fishes. Loves is probably a bit of a mild word. I should rather say he’s obsessed with fishes. Although I’m not sure if it’s just me or if his obsession is getting weaker. Anyway.

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When I was trying to think about something what to give him for Christmas, it always came down to very few things I could think of he would really like and enjoy (and didn’t already have). And somehow it seemed so much more important to me to make something  (special) for him, rather than buying an expensive toy, even though he doesn’t know the difference nor can appreciate it yet since he’s not even 2 and half (and who knows if he ever will, since he may rather loose interest in it sooner than he might appreciate it). Still here I was, wanting to make something for him, and what else other than something to do with fishes.

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Quite by chance I came upon this wonderful DIY denim whale tutorial by Valaan Villapaita on pinterest while browsing through some random things, and it got me hooked right away.

So here’s my version of it.

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You might or might not find the fabric I used familiar. It’s the one I customized by dyeing when I was doing the little stuffed Rhino. I still had some leftover bits from that, which seemed just perfect for a whale.

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Unlike the tutorial, I stuffed also the tail and fins. The denim of the original whales might be thicker and less lacking in stuffing, but the thin cotton I used for my (nephew’s) whale just seemed too empty and lifeless without it. Also I just drew the eyes with a textile pen, because I didn’t want to sew it on, nor did I have a suitable button I could use.

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Well. He seems like he likes it, so that’s all I could ever hope for. And I’m glad.

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Liv seemed to be a little jealous, also wanting such a whale. Oh, my dear girl, I should kick myself in the butt and finish some of those things I’ve wanted to do for you for some time already too.

(I also made a Montessori ball for his little sister, my lovely little niece, but I don’t have a photo of that… But that I knew from the beginning I would want to do for her. I guess that might become a kind of tradition for new babies in our family. :-)

Easy DIY Advent Calendar

Can you call something a tradition if you have done it once? But then again, everything has to begin somewhere. I have started a tradition in our home last year, by making our own advent calendar.

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I was not entirely sure I would make one this year. Due to the joys of a long lasting intense nausea of an early pregnancy, followed closely by very low energy and some work related duties (not to mention those of trying to keep our household at least in a more or less usable shape), I was putting any thoughts of it off. Yes, if you’ve been wondering- or not- that is indeed, why it has been so silent around here since summer. I am getting back to life, though. Finally. Slowly.

Only after talking to a dear friend, who asked if I was going to make an advent calendar this year too, by which time it was end of November, I realized I had only a few days left to make something. And that I would be sorry if I would not do something and leave this “tradition”. That’s a thanks to you, my dear, for that kick in the butt!

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Suddenly in those coming 3 days, I got surprisingly many ideas how to make the calendar, each one totally different. Probably too many ideas. That only meant in the end that I couldn’t decide what to make. So again, I put it off. Until I decided last minute (oh, those last minute projects!) to just go with what I have at home and stay low-key.

So I re-used those brown paper bags from last year, which I decorated simply with strips of Christmas wrapping paper.

Liv is not yet 3 years old and she does not know numbers yet. Ok, she knows a few and she’s quite interested in what is what. But numbers don’t have quite such a big meaning yet as they do for us (beyond 3 or 4, it just gets a lot). So I didn’t want to just paint numbers on the bags, but incorporate also a visual that I think would be more interesting for her. (Actually, it’s still in a similar sense as to why I added the animals last year.)
That’s why I printed some nice pictures with numbers I found on Pinterest on hard paper and added those to the bags.

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After opening a bag we tear off the card with the number and put it back up. The pictures make a nice decoration and it also helps Liv to see how many days have gone by since we started and how many days (packages) left to Christmas.

It’s all very simple, relatively fast done… and it looks nice, even though they’re just hanging there on a string.

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I even already came up with the idea that we will leave the strings hanging there after Christmas (just take down the packages and numbers, of course) and hang there Liv’s paintings and creations. I wanted a place for that anyway for long, just never got to do it. And also I always tend to think of more complicated ideas how to do something, overlooking just the plain simple things that are actually around you which can do the job just as well. So I’m already looking forward to that!

Of course, Liv asks to open more than one package a day at once, but so far she’s done well and accepted if I say we open the next one tomorrow… we do have to talk about it sometimes 10x a day, but she has not opened more at a day yet. Sweet girl.

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I do admit though that it helps that she got another advent calendar from her grandmother, which has tiny books for each day. This way she can open one bag and take out one book each day, which is quite a help in negotiating with Liv.

If you’ve been wondering what I’ve put in those bags… I will tell you. Funny that there’s tons of inspirational pictures of advent calendars, but (almost) nobody wants to share what they put in there. I guess it becomes kind of a bit personal. Of course, you can put in there anything you like. I will share though what I’ve put in there, just in case it might help someone to get a kick as to what the content might be.

I basically had most of the things gathered after a visit to a stationery shop and to a sweet danish shop called Flying Tiger, which by the way the same friend I mentioned before recommended to me. I didn’t know it before, but I have to say it became probably my new favourite shop soon after entering it. They have a lot of cute stuff, lots of DIY aids, a sweet -scandinavian- style, low prizes… No, I am -unfortunately- not getting anything for praising and recommending them.

So, here’s my list:

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  • a castanet (percussion instrument)
  • kaleidoscope
  • chocolate egg
  • stamps (with stamp pillow)
  • a new toothbrush (she needed that anyway)
  • striped socks
  • band-aids (what kid doesn’t love band-aids?)
  • fun stacking pencils (number 8, if you’re wondering)
  • DIY play figures to colour
  • stamps
  • hair-bands
  • wooden stamps for painting on fabrics
  • a lollipop
  • a candle in the shape of an owl (actually I cheated there and took out a leftover candle we used last year as our advent wreath)
  • blowing markers
  • sticky bookmarks
  • washi tapes
  • stickers which you can paint on
  • more stamps
  • a little red suitcase with white dots… what else is there to say except it was too cute not to take it…
  • a hair clip in the shape of a butterfly
  • and more stamps
  • Progresso colouring pencils
  • still to add: something I will sew. Probably clothes for dolls or an Indian headdress.

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Ok, I know there are a lot of stamps in there. That was of course no intention. I first bought the wooden ones to work with fabric. Then I bought a package of 9 stamps which were cute and I divided them into 3 days… since they were each 3 red, 3 green and 3 blue ones. I also might have divided them into 9 days and covered more with one bought thing. But I thought that would make it too many days seem the same. And then I bought the stamps with the ink pillow, which were just too cute not to take. As I think of it, I might have done a stamp advent calendar, where each day there would be just one stamp. Hah. Maybe next time. Year.

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I have to admit, I spent a bit more than I initially wanted for the advent calendar. I got a bit carried away in the stationery shop and the flying tiger. You could easily take the things I got and divide them even more into more days. I also had the intentions of adding more stuff I would yet do for Liv myself. But since I got more things than I meant to, I don’t have to make them anymore, or I will just save them and give them to her for Christmas.

BTW, Liv’s reaction on December 1st, when she found the hanging bags was simply cute. “Does anyone have a birthday?” she yelled excited. :-)

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Oh, and I also made a kind of reverse advent calendar for myself. I took out an empty box and I will put inside something each day and donate it somewhere at the end. I still have to figure out where, but that’s the least concern, really. It’s been bugging me that we have a lot of unused stuff around at home anyway, so this way it will at least help get rid of some of it.

Have you done a DIY advent calendar? I would love to see your versions!

Have a beautiful December!

DIY Baby Doll Stroller Make Over II

Yes, that’s right. Liv has another stroller. And I had to do a make over for this one too. Because I just couldn’t leave it as it was, because… well, because that’s me, I guess. No, seriously, let me explain.

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This one was a gift for Liv from my mom and it’s super cute, I think. The only thing was… I just kind of hated the fabric that the inside was made of. Not only the design, which I could have let it pass… with both eyes closed… but, ok, I mean gooses are nice for kids, right? I guess. Then the kind of aggressive red on the background and on the wheels. Ok, maybe I could still let it go. But to top it all off, and that’s the part that made crazy most of all, the fabric was horrible to touch. No, really. And I’m not at all a very sensitive person to such things. Ok, maybe since I sew more and more, I’ve grown to love more everything that is nice and soft to the touch… But it’s not something I would be obsessed with or something. So when I say the fabric was hard, scratchy and unpleasant… then, it must have been really… not nice.

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That’s the before version

The same goes for that trim of the cover. Just as unpleasant to touch as the fabric. What on earth are they using?!

Therefore, I’ve resolved to make a new cover very soon after we got it.

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When I went through fabrics I had at home, this one was almost immediately my favourite to go with. But I actually let Liv decide. She loves to be able to choose fabrics to sew with… (as long as she isn’t engaged into doing something else at the moment… in which case, she couldn’t care less :-) )

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I gave her two fabrics to choose from. And was happy when she chose the one I liked best too.

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So, I took off the old cover. Carefully cut it up along seams, so I could trace it. And remade a pretty much exact copy… Except in a much prettier and softer and nicer fabric, of course, heh.

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Since I was repainting the other stroller, I took this one right with it. The aggressive red on the wheels just had to go. Originally I went just for creme wheels. But since I used it almost all up to mix the other colours, a hint of blue found it’s way onto my brush when I was doing the second layer, which gave it a slight mint colour. And since I didn’t have almost any untouched creme colour anymore that could cover it, I just had to go with it and get all the wheels mint.

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I’m not complaining, though. I like it as it turned out. Though it’s not a greenish mint as the green on the fabric, it’s actually pretty much the blueish mint like the sheep-buttons holding the strings of the brim.

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Apropos the sheep buttons. Originally there were other buttons attached to the stroller. I have carefully put them aside to put them back on when the new cover will be ready. Only it took me quite a long time until I sat down to sew the new cover. I don’t know how long it’s been. A month for sure, probably more- a few months. They’ve been sitting on my working table all the time, being a lot in my way. Suddenly, when I was finally sewing it, they disappeared. No matter how much I looked, I just couldn’t find them.

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So I had to sew on other buttons. And since we were looking for something else to go on the stroller (with Liv’s help, of course… my loyal little helper), we decided to go with something fun. Like those sheep, which she adores. And I adore her. So, easy choice there, really. ;-)

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This photo was made by Liv!

No, actually they went quite nicely with it. And she always says “the sheep are holding the strings” which is pretty cute I think.

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I like how it’s become quite the eye catcher and kids usually want to play with it when they come to visit or are around it.