Advent Calendar Saga, part last

Well, it’s not really an epic saga… But it sure felt like it when I was in the middle of it!

I finished the calendar on Monday night, Dec 1st, after my boy had gone to bed. I had got all the pockets on during the day, and few of the buttons to hang the ornaments on, so we were able to do our first day’s devotional. I finished sewing the rest of the buttons on later that night.

Final result:

Not bad for three nights’ worth of work! šŸ™‚ I was right about the acrylic felt, though, the pockets are quickly stretching out of shape. I might have to replace them with wool felt ones. But not this year.

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Advent calendar saga, part 1

J is three years old, and this is the first year he’s really looking forward to Christmas. He’s constantly asking “is it Christmas today?” when he wakes up in the morning, and keeps asking about Christmas tree and decorating. So I thought it would be nice to have an advent calendar for him, to keep track of days. I didn’t want a chocolate one, though… When I was a kid we always had those paper calendars where you open a flap, and then there’s a part of a story or a picture underneath. Our local little Christian bookstore has had them in the past, so we went looking for one last week. ButĀ they were sold out!

Well, I had already told J about the calendar so now we needed to get one. I had a DIY inspirationĀ moment, and hit Pinterest for ideas. There are lots of lovely ideas to choose from. And really, how hard could it be…?

I decided to make a calendar like this, with the Jesse Tree ornaments and story. Jesse Tree tells the stories of waiting for the Messiah in the Old Testament, and then the story of Jesus’ birth, the fulfilment of all the waiting. Even in my most ambitious DIY moments I usually manage to keep some sense of reality (hah!), so I found printableĀ ornaments for the tree here, and maybe I’ll make felt ones or something next year.

So, I just need to make the calendar itself this year. December 1st is Monday. I started on Thursday, after J had gone to bed, and cut out all the felt rectangles for the pockets.

Since it was only 10 pm when I was done, I decided to cut out the numbers too. That shouldn’t take too long, right?

At around midnight I decided to leave the rest for later. Cutting out little bits is a LOT slower than cutting out rectangles!

Friday. I managed to cut out the rest of the numbers in the afternoon, and went to the fabric store to pick up some canvas for the background as well as a bigger piece of green felt for the tree. In the evening I had no time to do anything at all – I had to get ready for a craft fair on Saturday.

Saturday. I pulled out the hot glue gun after J had gone to bed, and started attaching the numbers on the pockets. An hour and a few minor burns later they were done. Whoever designed the hot glue gun probably didn’t envision it being used to glue on tiny, floppy pieces of felt… It was just about impossible to hold on to a number and put glue on it without getting some on my fingertips.

So now it’s Sunday. Sewing day! First I cut out the tree (the easiest part of the whole process so far) and the background piece. Then I started pinning the pockets on the background. I quickly noticed that the canvas piece wasn’t quite wide enough, and I had to trim the pockets a little to make them fit. Good thing too, because they weren’t exactly all the same size. Ahem… One of these days I’ll learn to measure my projects properly before cutting…

The tree and 1/3 of the pockets have finally been attached to the background. The rest will have to wait – it’s 11 pm and I can’t sew a straight line anymore… One thing I may regret later is using cheap craft felt instead of the better wool stuff. I had lots and lots of felt at home, so I used it for the pockets, and bought more of the same for the tree. But it stretches out when I sew – I’m afraid this might not become an heirloom after all… But at this point I fail to care. The main goal is to get it done.

The Best Gingerbread Cookies

Sorry I’ve been so silent. Life has been busy, and I just haven’t had much to say.

Here’s something, though… My friend and I have spent two days this week baking cookies. This gingerbread cookie recipe is my mom’s, and it’s the best I’ve ever tasted. It’s a bit of work but so worth it!

Gingies

Gingies

150 ml molasses
200 g sugar (approx. 250 ml)
250 g butter
2 tsp each, cinnamon, cloves and ginger
1 tbsp powdered orange peel (I haven’t been able to find this anywhere! The recipe works well without)
2 eggs
500 g all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking soda

Melt the butter in a kettle. Add in molasses, sugar, and spices, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool down for 10 min.

Add eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition. Stir in the flour and baking soda. Let the dough chill until the next day.

Cut the dough in four or five parts (depending on your counter space). Roll it out to approx. 2 mm for crispy, thin cookies or 5 mm for thicker, chewier cookies. Cut out shapes and bake them in 175C / 350F for 5-8 min, depending on the thickness.

Decorate the cooled down cookies with royal icing (blend of icing sugar and water, with food colouring if desired). This recipe makes about 100 thin cookies. You can also use the dough for a gingerbread house – in that case roll the dough thicker.

Enjoy! Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Christmas with cats

Since yesterday, we have

  • put away the Christmas stockings. One has puncture holes, and some embellishments areĀ missing.
  • evacuated our half-a-meter Christmas tree to the top of a book shelf where the cats can’t get it. Some ornaments are still missing.
  • taken down my lovely Finnish Christmas stars made of straw – they were hanging on the kitchen cabinet doors. J. rescued them after finding pieces of straw on the floor.
  • noticed the bite marks in the candles on the coffee table. I don’t think they tasted very good…

Is there anyone out thereĀ who would like to adopt a cat? Or at least take one or two for a loooong visit? Anyone?