MonthNovember 2014

Homemade Advent Calendar: Year 3

My pile of finished advent calendars!

My pile of finished advent calendars!

For the third year in a row, I’ve made my kids an advent calendar. I didn’t start out to make this a tradition, but rather, I wanted to make my son a Lego calendar that didn’t cost a fortune. Now, it’s become a fun thing. And this year, I’m not working on it November 30th at 9 p.m.! Yay!

The first year, I made the calendars using mini muffin pans.

Last year, I saw a method where you make punch out cups for each day. This was a disaster. It all came apart!

This year, I tried something I saw in the latest Family Fun magazine. (Have I mentioned I love this magazine? Oh yeah, I have.)

Two sets of advent calendar tubes ready to fill

Two sets of advent calendar tubes ready to fill

So for this concept, you make 24 small tubes of paper and number them. Then you tape the bottom closed. Insert your goodie, and tape the top closed going in the opposite direction of the bottom. It’s really that simple.

The tubes ready to fill.

The tubes ready to fill.

I used some of the scrapbook paper I had on hand (I cut 8 tubes out of one 12 x 12 inch page) and my fun tape.

All the necessary pieces, plus an ever so helpful kitty!

All the necessary pieces, plus an ever so helpful kitty!

For filler, I used two kinds of chocolate, gold coins and snowmen heads, as well as micro machine cars (from my husband’s childhood stash), chapstick and a candy bracelet to top off the last day.

I've had furry helpers throughout the project.

I’ve had furry helpers throughout the project.

This was a project that I would be open to doing again, unlike last year’s. It took a little bit of time (because I had to make two sets), but nothing had to be perfect or precise. I could certainly watch a show as I was making these. I’d recommend it!

We’ll see what the kids think of them.

(These could certainly be fun for other small gifts, such as party goodie bags.)

My designer takeaway: Keep your eyes open for new ideas, even when you think you’re going back to the old way of doing things.

My One Tip for Burnout

My one tip is: Take a break!

Of course, it’s not always that simple, except when it is!

I’ve been a little quiet on the knitting front lately. Honestly, while I loved my challenging knitting classes in 2013, I got burned out. I’ve been taking it easy ever since. I gave myself permission to just enjoy outdoor activities in the summer. Now I’m slowly working my way back into it.


I worked (forever) on this simple block baby blanket over the last year. It was just what I needed, a no-brainer knitting project, after all those challenging ones. No pattern to follow, and I could do it while enjoying a TV show or talking with others.


Then we decided to visit some old friends for the holidays, and I thought I’d like to take the three girls a scarf. I have one done. We’ll see if I can squeeze in two more.

I’m hoping for the new year to finish this two-color knitting project that I started in my Feed Your Creativity knitting class forever ago! Stay tuned. 🙂

My designer takeaway: When you get burned out, take a break!

Adventures in Marbling with Shaving Cream


As I stated in a previous post, I would love to try a new craft with my kids each week. In that spirit, we did one last week! One day when I was picking my daughter up from school, they were marbling with shaving cream and paint on paper. I really wanted to try this.

So I bought some shaving cream (not gel) and then it sat on our counter for a few weeks. So last week I got online and looked for tips (like this one and this one). I found people were using all kinds of paint. I decided to try some finger paints we had on hand.

Boy, did my kids love this!

For materials, we used:
8 x 8 glass pan
Shaving Cream
Wooden Skewer (for mixing)
Paint Stir Stick (for removing)
Newspaper (under the mess)
Cardstock (trimmed down to fit in the pan – 5 x 7-ish)

So we made a layer of shaving cream in the pan and then added some blobs of paint. The kids set off mixing with the wooden skewers. The loved the mixing so much that I had to interrupt to make the print. You just stick the paper right on top of the mixed up mess. After you flip it over, you use a straight edge (paint stir stick for us) to scrap off the shaving cream, and the wonderful marbling is left behind. It’s kind of exciting to watch the unveiling as you scrap the goo away!

And, on one of the tutorials I read, it said to just add a new layer of shaving cream, if you want to start over. Super easy!

Here are some of our prints. Now, for the future, I want to try this alone (sans kids because of the staining factor) with some food coloring. I’m hoping to get some more intense colors.


My designer takeaway: Remember it’s good to make a mess. Some wonderful creations are made when you make a mess (and wonderful memories, too).

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