Matchbox Advent Calendar

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A couple of years ago, actually it was the last Tuesday in November, I decided I wanted to make an Advent Calendar.  I remember exactly when it was because I had just finished watching an episode of "Packed to the Rafters" where they talked and laughed about their family's Advent Calendar and the memories around it (and the arguments they had over who's turn it was to open a box!).  It was so adorable and such a lovely Christmas tradition that I set about making one straight away.  To be honest, and this is probably ridiculously unbelievable to most of you, I didn't even know what an Advent Calendar was before watching that episode.  We didn't have one growing up and neither did any of my friends so not only did I enjoy some TV that night, I actually learnt something too.  And, the best thing is, three Christmas's later, it's still in use, still looks perfectly fine and my son can't wait for it to go up (he'll get a nice surprise when he gets home from school today!).

I wasn't actually sure where to start so I did a bit of a search and used this one as my inspiration.  I loved everything about the matchboxes - the look, the texture, their compactness and because I was in a wee bit of a hurry with only days to go before December 1st, I knew I could source them easily at my local Spotlight.  I did, however, want the calendar to be portable so I bought a cheap frame, spray-painted it white, removed the glass and covered the backing board with some hessian (burlap) for a bit of added interest and texture.

This year's goodies

I then made a start on those gorgeous little boxes.  I bought a whole range of bits & pieces from Spotlight - mini Christmas decorations, buttons, string, rub-on numbers, ribbons and felt balls and over two nights in front of the TV, I decorated away, getting 24 completed on November 30th!  Each little box is filled with either a treat (chocolate), a note ("Xmas Movie Night", "Do some Christmas Craft", "Go and see the Xmas Lights" etc), a decoration (for my kids to place on the tree) or a little toy (this year I've chosen "Crazy Bones" to add to my son's collection).  For the notes, I used the free printables at A Little Delightful and to keep track of the activities I have promised within the calendar, because in the craziness of the December month I would absolutely totally forget, I also use A Little Delightful's Christmas Calendar printable (thanks Bianca - you make it so easy for us!) to jot down what's happening on what day.  I also add in other commitments and social events otherwise my brain gets a bit overwhelmed and has a tendency to go into hiding, plus this way we're all clear on what's going on in the household.



So, I've gone from not knowing what the heck an Advent Calendar was to it becoming a new family tradition which is now in its third year.  Thank you, "Packed to the Rafters" and Channel 7 - you educated me, inspired me and introduced my family to a whole lot of Christmas loveliness!

Take care and enjoy this very special, family time.

PS:  Hot tip: if I was to make this particular style of calendar again, I would leave bigger gaps between the boxes which would make it easier to insert the goodies.

Christmas Gift Wrapping

Friday, November 23, 2012

One of my beautiful craft BFF's always, always, always wraps her presents beautifully.  It doesn't matter what the occasion - it could be a one year old's birthday, a Kris Kringle or just a random gift, her wrapping is impeccable, always, without fail.  She probably wouldn't know this but after seeing the effort she put into wrapping my son's first birthday present four years ago, I made a quiet pact with myself to lift my gift-wrapping game and to add a bit of personality, love and "spunk" to each little parcel I gifted from that moment on. 

For the past few years I have been approaching Christmas wrapping in the same way - putting a little love, thought and colour into the equation - and while I haven't decided yet what this year's wrapping theme will be, I thought I would share with you some of my favourite, totally gorgeous, Christmas wrapping "candy". 

Be warned, these images might make your heart beat a little faster than normal and you might feel compelled to break the speed limit on the way to your nearest craft store. Take a deep breath ... you'll be okay.  Honestly.


Source: Katla Adams via Nikki on Pinterest
This could easily be adapted for Christmas by just changing out the patterned paper and message.
Source: Eighteen 25 Blog via Nikki on Pinterest

Source: Eden Rose Blog via Nikki on Pinterest
Source: Older & Wisor Blog via Nikki on Pinterest
Source: Google
Source: Etsy - Vol 25 via Nikki on Pinterest
My personal fave.  How fresh & zesty is it? Source; The 36th Avenue Blog via Nikki on Pinterest
So simple but so sweeeeeeeet. Source: Older and Wisor Blog via Nikki on Pinterest
Love the big labels, handwritten names and foliage touch. Source: via Nikki on Pinterest
The little details make a big difference, don't you think?  And it doesn't have to be super fancy, super difficult or super expensive.  In fact, most of the above are super simple & really quite plain but they just "feel" all loved up and cleverly crafty (have you worked out I have a bit of a thing for Kraft paper?).
How about you?  Have you got Christmas all "wrapped up"?
Take care and enjoy the Christmas lead up.

Recycled Gift Tags

Monday, November 19, 2012

How seriously cute are these "Run Scotty Run" clothing tags?  Too cute to throw away, that's for sure.  Today I decided to get them out of their little tin and recycle them as special little gift tags.  I have been saving them for a while.  I'm not a hoarder, seriously (although if you saw my earlier "Monica Closet" post you would probably disagree), I just find it hard to part with things that are cute and MAY someday have another purpose.

The one side was perfect already - just a plain, bright colour - but the underneath, where the price and other information is printed, needed to be covered up. I decided to use some scrapbooking paper I already had for the underside.  I then just used a very sharp pencil, traced around the shape and using small, sharp scissors I cut it out.  I did try cutting it out with a cutting knife but I found I had less control and kept moving away from the line.  I used spray adhesive to join the two together, which worked perfectly - no messy blobbiness or residue.

Now look at them. All prettied up and ready to be used in some gift taggin' goodness! And I just happened to have a party to go to so this particular little Run Scotty Run tag had his first assignment - a one year old's birthday party ... and he performed beautifully!


How about you? Are you like me and have difficulty throwing out the "cute & adorables", keeping them for another day and another project? Or are you the "out with the old, in with the new" type?  If you are the latter, and you happen to be throwing out some RSR tags, please message me first!

Take care and enjoy the little things ...

Liebster Blog Award Nomination

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I am very excited, surprised and just a teensy weensy bit chuffed to have been nominated for the Liebster Blog Award.  A lovely big thank-you to Susan at Achieving Creative Order for nominating this little blog of mine.

The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated, and to help spread the word about new blogs.

There are some rules that go along with it...
1.  You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2.  Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
3.  Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4.  Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
5.  No tag back.
Okay, then. Let's get started.
11 Random Things About Me
My pet peeve (actually I have many) is people who don't know how to merge in traffic.
My wardrobe is frequently a mess.
I love old chairs.  I have 3 in the shed waiting to be DIY'd.  They've been waiting for about two years now!
I am not as strict with my daughter as I was with my son.
I love to smell my children.
I once saved a fly from a spider's web then felt sorry for the spider so threw in an ant!
I've slept in a subway in Madrid.
If my house is a mess, my brain is a mess.
I've climbed 3 mountains.
I wanted to be ABBA when I was young.
I LOVE a good cup of coffee ... oh, and donuts!
Susan's questions for me
What is your biggest regret in life? Oooooo, I don't like this question.  You can almost always learn from something that you might have done in your life that didn't go exactly to plan or caused you some sort of discomfort so to "regret" it would mean not accepting growth and learning from it.  This is probably getting way too deep now (sad face!) so let's just say I wish I had gone to university (which would've meant missing out on years of travelling ... see, tough question!).
If you had one word to describe yourself, what would it be? Loyal.
Who is your favorite actor? I have many faves but Morgan Freeman would be up there.

What is your favorite midnight snack? Midnight?  Really?  This mumma is never up at midnight.

Do you like to sing in the shower? If so, what do you like to sing?  Nope.  I rest, recuperate and relax in there.  It's my end of day therapy. :)
What experience(s) have marked you the most? Hands down our son being diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Are you a night owl or a morning person?  Ummmm, neither.  I'm tired in the morning and tired at night.  Does that make me an afternoon person?
How superstitious are you? Not very although I probably wouldn't walk under a ladder.  
What is your one achievement that makes you most proud? Bringing two beautiful little humans into this world and providing a loving, balanced, nurturing, healthy family environment for them to live in (I know that's probably extremely soppy & corny but it's true).
What was your worst dating experience? Whoa, let's NOT go there. If my mum or sister are reading this, they will totally understand. 
What three things would you take with you on an island? Bear Grylls, my pillow & a hair tie (oh, wait, what about clean knickers ... especially with Bear Grylls as your companion!).
My questions for my Nominees
Is blogging what you thought it would be?
If you could choose any profession in the world, anything, what would it be?
Jeans and a tee-shirt or a lovely dress?
Do you make your bed in the morning?
How would you spend your perfect day?
What do you like best about being a blogger?
What is your most favourite food in all the world?
Who would you like to be trapped in an elevator with?
What's the craziest thing you have done in your life?
What totally gives you the irrits?
What are you wearing right now?
And my 11 nominations for super-duper, lovely little bloggie blogs are:
Thanks again, Susan, and all the best to everyone nominated.
Lots of warm & fuzzies to you!

Lemon Sugar Hand Scrub

Friday, November 9, 2012

If you're looking for a simple, lovely & quick homemade gift for someone, this "Lemon Sugar Hand Scrub" is perfect. 

I found the original recipe here (thank you, Stephanie Lynn!) but have since noticed it all over the www.  I made some last year for a work colleague and for my Mum, and the other day I made another batch for a very special, very pregnant friend (she will also be able to use it on her tired, aching feet!) and for my son's Kindy class who have decided on a "glass jar stall" for their school fete this weekend.  We were asked to fill a jar with something - size, shape and what went inside was completely up to us.  I decided not to fill the jar with lollies or toys but to aim my little jar of goodness at the beautiful Mummy's out there.

The scrub is made up of just 3 ingredients - Lemon, Olive Oil & Sugar - all of which you most probably have in your pantry.  I added a few drops of Lemon Myrtle essential oil (for extra yumminess) because I just happened to have some in my cupboard.  Despite its simpleness, the scrub is not only effective at removing dirt, grime, glue, paint or whatever else it is that gets on our hands from crafting, sewing, DIY'ing, gardening, playing etc but it also leaves them feeling silky smooth and looking loved.  Happiness in a jar.

If you'd like to give this easy-peasey lemon-squeezy scrub as a gift and don't have the time (or the inclination) to whip up a cute little gift tag, I have included mine here for you. I haven't added Lemon Myrtle in the ingredient list, just in case it's not something you have laying around.

Yours in hand health,

World Map for Kids

Monday, November 5, 2012

Our 5 year old frequently asks questions about the world, Australia and where we sit in relation to other countries.  He will say "Can we drive to Canada to see Nanny & Poppy, Mum?", "Can we go there on the weekend?", "Is Sydney in Australia?", "I really want to go to Bali with my cousins - can we visit them tomorrow?", "We're learning to speak Italian at school - where is Italy, Mum?" ... and so on.

To help him better understand the world and its vast expanse and that, no, you can't drive to Canada or just pop around to see his cousins in Bali, we bought him his very own world map.

I bought it online from Mapworks and then had it mounted on 10mm foamcore for sturdiness and durability without being heavy.  To further improve his understanding of the world and his place in it, and to make the map personally interesting to him, I made up some personalised "pins" for him.  I made up five:

  1. My FAMILY lives here (my husband is Canadian so we have families on both sides of the world. Hello Canadian family!!)
  2. I've VISITED here
  3. My FRIENDS live here
  4. I'm LEARNING about here
  5. My MUM & DAD met here (my personal fave!)


I designed them using Avery's Design & Print online program using their L7105 round labels.  I then laminated the labels, again for durability and longevity, and cut them out.   I attached the pins to the map using velcro dots, which I actually think I have a bit of a crush on.  How super handy and versatile are they?  I've added some spare pins to the side of the map using 3m hooks and bulldog clips  - you know, just in case we get our "travel on" soon and need to add a stack more pins.  Oh, those were the days.

Now he can see for himself where Italy is.
Little sister getting in on the action - placing Family in Argentina!
Please excuse the rudey-tudey lamp shade.  I sent my husband out for fire wood and that's what he came home with!
We all love the map and not only is it educational but it also adds a lovely, big-boy touch to our son's room and allows him to see at a glance where in the world he has been, where his family lives and where he might like to learn about or travel to one day (but not tomorrow).

So, a fun little project that turned out exactly how I had envisaged (love that) although what I didn't count on was our son noticing just how close Bali actually is to Australia and now he REALLY, REALLY wants to go there!  Oh dear, he's learning faster than I expected.

And because I like to share with you the things that didn't work particularly well, if I were to do this project again I would probably:

  1. Not have a border around my round label.  It is very difficult (read impossible) to get the alignment perfect when printing
  2. Make the pins a bit smaller - perhaps half the size
  3. Use Word which I think would be quicker than the Avery system

If you're thinking of putting a map in your child's bedroom or in their playroom and you want to use my pins, please feel free - download away.  You can either print them directly onto the L7105 round labels or just print them out on paper - up to you.  And don't worry, the little black marks you see around the centre drawing do not print out.  I have no idea what they are. 

Enjoy the world, and happy pinning!