DIY Advent Calendar Village

I have promised to post about our this year’s Advent calendar, so here we go. Ever since I have kids, each year I make a DIY Advent calendar (you can all see them in the DIY section).

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We had a lovely Advent Houses calendar last year, which you can see here.  Some houses got damaged and were thrown away, but most of them I put away in a box, so we could reuse them this year. There were 16 houses preserved, so I had to make 8 more things to go with them.

I decided not to make more houses again, but instead to add a little bit of landscape to it. Also, there were a few things I got as calendar stuffers, that didn’t fit into the houses anyway (like the bottle of bubble bath, plastelines, kaleidoscopes…), so I had to make something bigger to hide them.

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I really wanted to make those cone-shaped trees and the hills in the back from the beginning. Funny were those kaleidoscopes. They actually didn’t fit into any of those trees either, not to mention if I even tried to put them together. Also I was kind of short on coloured paper (and on time… and on ideas…), so I ended up just rolling them into red paper… and then making at least an arch out of it. To add a Christmas-y feeling to it, I added a yellow star on the arch. Which actually looked like an ode to communism on the red background, haha, definitely not what I intended, so I added a comet-tail behind it. ;-)

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Also the tattoos didn’t go anywhere, since I didn’t want to break the surface, so I made an ice-skating area out of them.

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Fun fact: Liv hasn’t discovered it yet, but underneath the big mountain, there’s a treasure chest hidden. I was going to go for an owl or something like that, but then I put those Chocolate gold coins in there and it just called for a treasure… hah.

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So yeah. That’s about it. Once again it reminded me that paper + glue + super precise work is not exactly my piano forte. But my kids are not harsh critics (yet), and it is kind of fun anyway.

(Btw, this is my favourite of all houses… One that Liv took last year and draw on it and added the green roof and yard!) <3

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And if you haven’t read my post on what we put inside, here is a detailed post about it. As always, I tried to go for stuff they either needed, or I knew wanted but also would get used, something more or less creative… and a few sweets, to make them happy after all. It’s funny how I’m always anxious in the beginning to find enough meaningful little things that would go in there beside sweets (want to narrow them down to rather less than more), and in the end it always seems that I found/got rather more things than I intended…

Anyway. Here’s the whole picture again of everything we put inside this year.

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Have a wonderful Advent!

DIY Advent Calendar Stuffing Ideas

Hello friends!

Need a last-minute inspiration for your DIY Advent calendar stuffers? Here’s what I got my kids this year.
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  • Gloves (because they need them!)
  • Glitter paint (hey, after all, it’s Christmas time..) for Liv and marbles for Sebi
  • Some sweets
  • Chocolate gold coins
  • Play-doh
  • Bath-tub paints
  • Beads and sequins
  • Christmas lights! (’cause who doesn’t love those!:-)
  • Llama and horse-shaped stick-its
  • Kids-friendly temporary tattoos
  • Sylvanian family hedgehogs (actually, this one is from my mum)
  • Grape-sugar lollipops
  • Paper straws (though, I’m not a big fan of straws, they love them, so at least a bit more eco friendly version of that…)
  • Bubble bath
  • Colours for decorating cookies
  • Kaleidoscopes (those are actually too from my mum)
  • Stamps (one saying “Made with love” … :-)
  • Toy car and trucks (call me cheap, but I found those in my parent’s cellar and took them.. :-)
  • Lego princes figures (ok, those are more for Liv, because her princesses need men, haha, but anyway..)
  • Paper cut-outs
  • Lip balms
  • Kid-friendly nail polish (only because Liv started asking for one not long ago…)
  • Deco tapes
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I’d love to hear what you made/got for your kids this year!

A whole post on our this year’s Advent calendar will come soon (tomorrow?). So keep tuned! :-)

DIY Advent Calendar Idea!

Hey there! Do you like to do your own Advent Calendar for your kids? Need a last minute idea to give it a special tweak? :-)

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Since I have kids, I do our advent calendars myself… This one, however, is not for us. (For my kids, I am doing an update on our last year’s Advent House Village… but a full post about that is [hopefully] going to come tomorrow.

This one I made for my friend and her two lovely kids! She called me 2 days ago with this idea to make a Santa backdrop on which she would attach her own packages and asked me to help her make the backdrop.

It was actually so much fun! I hadn’t done any such large(r)-scale painting for a very long time, so it was fun to get back to something like that.

The Santas are about 1m high, made out of something we call here Kappa Board. (Cardboard with foam in the middle… usually used for model-making.) You could use any cardboard really, but this one has the advantage that you can just pin the packages (if they’re little) on it if you want, since there’s foam in between the paper-sheets. And it’s great to work with. And also, I just happened to have it at home, so it was convenient, hah.

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I’m not a very big fan of the whole Santa Claus-y thing, but this was really fun. Found a pretty illustration on pinterest, and I liked the fact that it’s not the classic Santa in red..

I will write an update on this, when I get a photo from my friend with the packages on it. Just thought, this might be a fun last-minute thing someone might want to do with their advent calendars. :-) My kids (Liv) sure want that for next year! It was hard keeping them away from it :-)

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. :-)

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.

Toddler Backpack

When Liv started to show interest in packing her own things too when we would go somewhere (or also when we wouldn’t go anywhere) a while ago, I decided it was the right time to make her a toddler backpack.

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I saw this pattern from Made by Rae, which seemed to be a fine one, so I decided it would be easier to try the pattern rather than trying to make your own.

Though from the beginning on, it seemed like it would come out a little too big for my slender girl, I wanted to see how it would look when finished. So I just went with the original pattern without changing it. Even though, it turned out I was right. It is somewhat too big for her. But fortunately not too big so it would be unusable for us.

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I bought this fabric from Art Gallery, called Hello Bear, Hello Forest, which I loved ever since I first saw it. I always wanted to use it for something, but it was cotton fabric and the animals are too big to be used as something for Liv to wear (and I rarely make other things than clothes… exception is this toddler backpack and the Christmas gift series that is still a work in progress to be put on the blog). So I was waiting for a chance to use this lovely fabric. And this seemed perfect for it.

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Have I ever told you how I love Art Gallery fabrics? No, I do not get any commission or free stuff or anything else from them or anyone else. This is purely me telling you about my experience. They are so soft and wonderful, good quality and nice designs… I just love them. Every single one I ever bought was wonderful.

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But back to the backpack. So I used the pattern and went pretty much what it said… Well, ok, I rarely read instructions, which can backfire on me sometimes. I think I had a moment here too, where I did something and only after did I look up something in the instructions, only to find I should have done it the other way round. But whatever.

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Because the Art Gallery fabric is rather thin though, I put a sturdier plain white cotton fabric in the inside. I probably might have used even some more reinforcement as a middle layer, so it would hold form better. But it’s ok even as it is, I don’t miss it that much.

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Though a little bit too big yet for Liv’s slender back, we still love it. She even wants to take it with her somewhere once in a while, or she just packs it with toys at home and plays that she’s going somewhere. And it even served us well to put just enough toys and books to take with us on two vacations. So one might say it serves its purpose.

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I plan on making another, smaller one. Though, who knows if she won’t rather grow into the size of this one before I will get to do that. But we shall see. :-)