Christmas is looking a lot like this at our house. It seems like there’s always a cat in the tree! We have it anchored, but I’m still half listening for the sound of it falling. And now they’ve discovered the fun of unwrapping gifts! Riiiiiip! Oh, the season of joy! (The upper right photo is from last year. Look how he’s grown!)
I love using advent calendars to track the days to Christmas. Mr. Printables has this free printable Christmas Street Advent Calendar available in black and white or with pops of accent color. Your city grows by a building each day, and every building is a tiny box if you’d like to include a small gift. Just print them on cardstock, cut them out, score along the dotted lines to help in folding and add a couple pieces of tape here and there. (I used the blunt tip of a knitting needle to score mine.) In no time at all, you’ll have your own gorgeous little city!
This morning I made some vanilla extract to give as Christmas gifts to family, friends and neighbors. I followed the directions I found on Joy the Baker and used the bottles and ingredients she suggested. The labels are from Avery. Through the Avery website, you can enter the number code of your labels and design your own personalized labels to print. I made labels for the front and back of each bottle as I found I had a lot to say.
Some extra vanilla beans were used to make vanilla sugar. I used one bean for about 1.5 cups of sugar. Just cut the pods open, scrape out the seeds and mix them well into the sugar. Cut the pods in half and throw them, too. Store for a week in an airtight container and the sugar will be ready to use in baking or stir into your coffee. Mmm!
This one is for my sister in law who wanted to learn to make cinnamon ornaments — it’s so easy and is a great project to do with kids!
First, you can find a lot of different recipes, but it’s pretty basic. Mix equal parts of cinnamon and apple sauce, maybe a cup of each. You can add in a tablespoon each of ground cloves and nutmeg and also a couple tablespoons of regular white school glue if you like. (This is the recipe I used.) Mix the ingredients together until they form a smooth dough. If it’s too sticky, add a bit more cinnamon. If it crumbles apart, blend in a little more applesauce. After a little stirring and kneading, it should look like this:
Sprinkle a little cinnamon on a rolling pin and roll out the dough. You’ll want to keep it at least a quarter inch thick so your ornaments won’t be too fragile after they dry. Then use cookie cutters or freehand cut out shapes. (I used a wine glass and a smaller glass to shape simple wreaths.)
Use a pencil/chopstick/dowel/straw/whatever to make a little hole in each ornament for hanging. Knead the scraps back together and roll it back out again to use as much of it as possible. Keep dusting cinnamon on your rolling pin as needed to avoid sticking.
Transfer them to an ungreased cookie sheet. You can either leave them out for a couple days until they dry, or bake them at very low heat (200F) for several hours. When they’re completely dry, they’re ready to use.
You’ll end up with wonderfully scented ornaments for your tree or package tie-ons!
Polar fleece scarves are warm and bright, and you can have a stack of them made up in no time for last minute Christmas gifts! Polar fleece doesn’t fray, so you won’t have any hemming to worry about. I estimated the length after wrapping a little around my own neck, and cut widths from six inches for the oldest child down to four inches wide for the littlest toddler. Cut squares for the pockets an inch less than the width of the scarf, then sew them on about an inch from the bottom of the scarf.
For a completely no-sew version, just cut lengths of polar fleece, then fringe the ends by cutting strips about a quarter to a half inch wide across either end.
This time of year you can find so many different polar fleece patterns and colors at the fabric store. Be sure to check the remnants bin because you can often find all you need for your scarves right there! (I did!)