December 16, 2015

Mini Stocking Advent Calendar

The Christmas season is such a lovely time of year.  I truly enjoy teaching my children about Christ's birth, and the joy of giving.  As my girls get older, it is great to involve them in gifting, service, and learning during Christmas.  

One of the ways I enjoy doing this, is through an advent calendar!  We do have an advent calendar with cubbies, but I wanted to do just a 12 days of Christmas advent calendar this year.  Plus, we had this perfect spot on the mantel, just begging for a cute strand of mini stockings!

These little stockings hold a small piece of chocolate candy for each of the girls, and a little card that gives an activity that we'll do that day.  We have things like make cookies and deliver them to neighbors, visit relatives, attend our church Christmas party, act out the nativity, watch a Christmas movie, make gifts for siblings, and things like that.  So far, it has been really fun.  

So here's a quick how-to:

For each stocking, I cut 2 pieces of lining fabric, and 2 pieces of outer fabric.  The shape of the stocking can be found here.

For the outer fabric, put right sides together and sew around the stocking with 1/4" seam allowance (leaving the top of the stocking unsewn, like a regular sock).
For the lining fabric put right sides together and sew around the stocking with 1/4" seam allowance, but leave a 1" gap at the bottom of the stocking for turning.  Leave the top of the stocking unsewn, like a regular sock.

Turn the outside of the stocking right side out.  Then stuff it inside the lining fabric (which you have left inside out).  See above.  Line up the top opening of the stocking.  Then, sew around that top edge with 1/4" seam allowance.  

Pull the whole thing right side out through that hole you left in the lining fabric.  It will look like the middle stocking above when you have pulled it out.
Below, you can see that I then sewed the hole in the lining closed.
Then, push the lining fabric inside the outer fabric, and fold the top down a bit.  It will look like the stocking on the right in the photo above.

Here are a bunch of them made and folded over.

To add the numbers I found numbers that I liked on the computer, made them the right size, and printed them out.
Next, I ironed heat n' bond on the back of a piece of dark fabric, and traced the numbers onto it.
If you are tracing numbers onto the back of heat n' bond, make sure you trace them upside down.  That way when, you cut out the number, and iron it down to the stocking, it will be the correct direction.  This is a good time to iron your whole stocking nice and flat.

Finally, I sewed a little loop of twine into the top side of each stocking for hanging.  Then, I strung them on a longer piece of twine.

I love the way they look and the girls are so excited to open them find their candy and activity each day.  

Do you do an advent calendar in your home?  What kinds of things do you put inside?

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December 3, 2015

Uncommon Goods - Your new favorite gift giving site!

Hello friends!  Now that we are in the midst of the gift giving season, I have to ask you --
have you visited Uncommon Goods???

If not, you are going to love me.  This site is fabulous.  It is the best collection of quirky, fun, unique, useful gifts I've seen.  

If you’re looking for a gift that will spark your child’s imagination, and keep them occupied for hours – check out the kid’s section by clicking here.  I swear, I want every single item there!
This mechanical music box looks fun!  And the OgoBild below would keep my kids occupied for a long time, I have no doubt.   

There are tons of craft and art projects - which is right up my daughter's alley.  And maybe I'd say that the stop motion animation kit was for my girls, but I think it would really be for me - it looks so fun!

And how about that ever elusive gift idea for the teen in your life?  I’m telling you, if I was a teenager, I’d want my presents coming from here ;)  There are so many cool, unique things to choose from!!  

 Drumstick pens.  I think yes.  Or these iPhone charger stickers.  Funny!
 And here is one of those quirky and useful gifts.  A ball jar amplifier speaker.

Seriously, I am having so much fun browsing their stock.  As if you need one more website to get sucked into.  But I’m telling you, this one will get the creative juices flowing, and have you even more excited about gift giving.  
Some of my favorites are the really quirky stuff.  You can even search specifically in the geek section here :)

 Tube Wringer anyone?  Or these Shower Squids?  Seriously useful for the pool or vacation!
 I love clocks.  And this one is geekily awesome.  
 And believe it or not, I think I found my husband's Christmas gift.  He loves grilled cheese.  He usually uses a frying pan - but this utensil is actually MADE for cheese grilling!  I can't believe it.  
And you still have plenty of time to order for before the winter holidays.  Use their useful sorting tools to narrow down your search, and have fun!

The amazing thing about Uncommon Goods is that many items have a designer story with it.  You can see the talent behind these amazing items and celebrate the artists who work hard to create them.  And Uncommon Goods has a great story behind their brand.  This is the kind of company you can feel good about supporting – which means a lot these days!  They think about sustainability, being fair to artists, and giving back to the community.  Awesome!

And for me? I'm thinking about some jewelry from here ;)

Then again, this handcrafted hanging planter is gorgeous!

Oh boy, decisions, decisions!

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Compensation received for this post, but all opinions are my own.  
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November 1, 2015

Happy Halloween 2015: Peter Pan

Happy Halloween!
For several years, my oldest daughter has been the mastermind behind our family themed Halloween costumes.
We've been a Harry Potter theme, Super Mario Brothers, Toy Story, and more!

This year, she decided on a Peter Pan theme - and we got everyone involved.  Even the dog!!

The three older girls were Wendy, John, and Michael.  They were so cute.  For Wendy and John, I got clothes from Goodwill and modified them.  A blue nightgown taken in for Wendy, plus blue ribbon for the waist and hair.

John was a large men's shirt, with the sides taken in, and the sleeves shortened.  The glasses were from the dress up box, and luckily, the craft store had a foam top hat!  I think this costume might have been my favorite ;)  With the trick or treat bag and umbrella (which we ended up using on rainy Halloween night) she really looked like John!

Little Michael with his teddy bear was very easy.  I purchased pink footy pajamas and sewed a matching square of fleece on the backside.  A couple of buttons held the flap up, and that was it!
My toddler has really curly hair, so we slicked it back and pinned it to look a little more like Michael.  She had a great time, and was nice and warm ;)

Click here to see how I made their trick-or-treat bags.  That's another thing I do every year, and I'm always happy I did.

Grandma and Grandpa got in on the fun, and played the bad guys!  Hook and Smee were hilarious.  Aren't they good sports?!  And my good friend made this Hook costume.  Amazing detail!!

My husband and I went dressed as Peter Pan and Peter Pan's shadow.  He loved wearing that morph suit cap ;)  The tunic, belt, dagger and hat were all made from felt.  I used a tutorial I found at Make It, Love It for the hat and dagger.  The tunic was just two shirt shapes sewn together, front and back.  Be ware though - felt does not stretch!!  So, when making felt costumes, add several inches when compared to a t-shirt to accommodate the fact that there is no stretching.

Sweet little baby (she's just turning 5 months old!) was Tinker Bell!  The same friend who made the Hook costume made this dress.  She was so generous to let us borrow them (and saved me tons of work).  I made a little felt cover for a beanie to look like a blonde tinker bell bun.  I literally cut and hot glued felt until it looked right.  I covered up some loose edges with the ribbon in the middle, and folded it over at the bottom for a nice rim.  For a few minutes of work, it did the job!

The wings were the wire hanger and tights variety.  Make It, Love It has a tutorial for those also, which is helpful.  I added some glitter glue, and they were very cute.  

And the star of the show was the grandparent's great big Newfoundland dog who played NANA!  I took white fabric and sewed a square for a kerchief.  I gathered the middle a bit, and sewed a large piece of blue ribbon to the kerchief which allowed me to tie it around his gigantic head, and he looked great!  He walked with us on Halloween night, and that was really fun.  

These little Darling children... I love them!
Hope your Halloween was safe and fun!

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October 19, 2015

Review: Chalkola Chalk Markers

Here is a fun product to try!  I received these Chalkola Chalk markers, and I have been having so much fun with them!  The colors are bright, so they stand out really well.  They are like paint pens, so the writing is very easy and fluid.  And the best part: the chalk writing is SO easy to clean up!

Have you ever wanted to write on a window or mirror?  These markers are awesome for writing on glass!  My daughter just turned 3, and it's a tradition in our family to write notes for each other and hang them up around the house.  With these pens, I wrote her little love notes all over the bathroom mirror, and it was so fun!  Once it's dry, you can touch it and it doesn't smear.  And all it takes to clean up is water.  It's amazing!

One of the first things I considered doing with these was writing on the car windows.  I always wondered what people used to write "Just Married!" or "State Champion Volleyball Team!" or something like that on their car windows ;) These Neon window markers are perfect for stuff like that.
I thought it would be silly to write "Honk, I turn 3 years old today" on my car for my daughter ;)

Because the chalk paint doesn't wipe off once it's dry, I even used these to decorate the outside of a ball jar that I had put goodies into for friends.  It's perfect for delivering a personalized gift, but then they can easily wash it off when they're done, and have a perfectly good ball jar to use.  Win-win!

If you want to check out more about Chalkola Markers, visit their website at  Their cute video gives you more great ways to use them.  Seriously, the possibilities are endless.  

Do you want to try them for yourself?  
You can get 20% off at using the code; CHALK20A

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Disclaimer: chalk makers received for an honest review.  
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October 14, 2015

Peter Pan Felt Trick-or-Treat Bags

Our family theme for Halloween this year is Peter Pan - and of course, I had to make felt trick-or-treat bags to go along with!

Making these bags each year has become a tradition, and they are a ton of fun to make.
The three older girls will be Wendy, John and Michael - and since their costumes are fairly simple, I feel like these bags are really going to add a lot to make them recognizable.

These bags are really very simple to make - and so inexpensive, because they're made from felt!

The full tutorial, and tips and tricks from all my past years can be found at the following previous blog posts:

Doggie Treats Bag - With Tutorial
Frozen Halloween Bags
Harry Potter Halloween Bags
Toy Story Halloween Bag 1
Toy Story Halloween Bag 2
Super Mario Brothers Halloween Bags

When I make these bags, I draw out a pattern on scratch paper, and then cut out felt based on my pattern.  Above you can see my template for Michael's teddy bear.
Below is the treasure map that John and Michael play with at the beginning of the Disney movie.
I sew each piece of felt down with coordinating thread.

For Wendy I made a story book, and above you can see the start of Neverland for the back of the bag.  

I did books for Hermione's bag when were were all Harry Potter characters, and my daughter insisted that Wendy have The Adventures of Peter Pan.  Simply sewing black lines on the white felt makes it look like book pages from the side.   And I used a stencil I had cut with my Silhouette to paint the words.

I always like to sew the decorations on my bags, but you certainly could glue the felt on.  I did use glue to secure the tiny pieces, like the fire, the mermaid tail, and the sails in the picture of Neverland, below.

For John's bag, the map, above is pretty recognizable, and I love the bright colors on the white background.  For the back of the bag, I made a feather, like John wears later in the movie.  

And what would Michael be without his trusty teddy bear?!  Rather than have my 3 year old carry a real teddy bear and try to deal with that on Halloween, this is the only thing she'll have to carry, and it completes her costume, as well as holds her candy.  Perfect!

What are your kids going to be for Halloween?  Are you getting ready?

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