Countdown Activities

I told you about our new advent countdown calendar here.

For the cards inside each envelope, I cut cardstock down (but you could use 3.5×5 index cards, too). I used one of 3 stamps (and sometimes drew really bad pictures) on each card, and then wrote out our activity for the day.

Here’s a sampling of some of the cards we have.

Some activities have included:

Now we eat the chocolate!
Tell 5 people you love them
Sing 5 Christmas Carols together – we sang:

  1. Jingle Bells
  2. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
  3. Chestnuts Roasting on the Open Fire
  4. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  5. Happy Xmas (War is Over)

Write a Christmas Haiku


merrily we laugh

singing songs from yesteryear

true holiday joy


Yule tidings and cheer

shiny things to give loved ones

Yes, Virginia. Yes.

Read a Christmas Story Together – and Do a Christmas Mad Libs – We read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, which was also the mad lib text.

‘Twas the age before Christmas, and all through the igloo,
Not a creature was stirring, not even an emu.
The socks were hung by the ottoman with care,
In hopes that St. Paul soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their chifferobes,
While visions of sugar-milks danced in their fingers.
And traveling companion in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the desk to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
scuttled open the shutters, and read up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave the luster of mid-jiffy to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear?
But a delightful horn, and eight tiny sheep.

With a little old driver, so lively and ponderous,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Paul.
More rapid than turtles his sheep they came,
And he whistled, and pasted, and called them by name;

“Now, Dasher! Now, Henry! Now, Pineapple and Vixen!
On, Daughter! On Dog! On, Jerkin and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the tree!
Now converse away! Converse away! Converse away all!”

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the ottoman St. Paul came with a bound.

His eyes — how they turned! His dimples, how lugubrious!
His knees were like flowers, his toe like a sushi!

He spoke not a word but went straight to his work,
And filled all the socks, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his neck aside of his armpit,
And giving a nod, up the ottoman he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a splork,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good age!”

— “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” corrupted and abridged.

Countdown Calendar

I have always loved Advent Calendars ever since I was a kid.

My parents bought me one that you colored in with these beautiful markers.  (I am betting it is in the basement somewhere.)  I really cherished this particular one for some reason.  I also loved opening any windows where you would find chocolate.  The reason for the season?  Chocolate!

When I got married, I wanted to find another special calendar, but this time, it did not have to involve chocolate.  We found one featuring the characters from Sesame Street.  For thirteen years, we have put up this particular calendar.

I started reading craft blogs and found so many cool ideas for advent calendars.  If we had the space, I would probably make one of every kind!  But, I had to narrow it down to just one kind that felt special to us.

I came up with the idea (from several other people’s ideas) of making envelopes and hanging them on a string somehow.  In each envelope, there would be an action to take.  The idea for us was to find activities to do together.  I will make a post on this part next.

I found these envelopes at Go Make Something. There were only four, and I needed five, so I used this image from The Graphics Fairy to make a fifth envelope. For the numbers, I used the circles from this advent kit by Just Something I Made.

I printed them out on white cardstock.  Then I cut each one out, folded and taped them.  I left the top flap straight.  I punched two holes into the top and then threaded each envelope onto some white yarn.

In between each envelope, we used our Cricut machine to make 2.5 inch circles on the red, green, and light green scrapbooking paper.  I also cut two holes into those and put them between the envelopes as I went.

Stay tuned for more about the cards inside each envelope.

Christmas Wreath

Ok – so you saw our new garland here.  Next decoration!

There is another crafty goddess named Alisa Burke.  I really dig her style.  She does the most amazing things with her art.  At first, I just read her blog for the pretty pictures, for the inspiration.  Then one day, I decided to try imitating her style.  I won’t show you my attempt.  While I am proud of it, let’s just say that it is amateur at best, and a child would do better.  But it made me SOOOO happy!When I saw her wreath project here, I had to try it out.  The thing I love drawing most is flowers, so her flower style worked well for me.  I hadn’t used watercolors in a long time, so that was also fun.

First, I painted my pages of music with a white wash.  She didn’t do this step with her book pages, but I wanted to try it out.  After drying, I sketched out the flowers.  I went very slowly with each flower.  Next, red paint was added on the petals.  Then I added in green between the circles in the middle.  I retraced the flowers, and added in the veins next.  Then, I added in the white dots.

The last thing I did were the leaves. Instead of a foam base, I mod podged three layers of poster board cut into a wreath shape together. It is quite sturdy now.  I mod podged the flowers and leaves onto the wreath as well.

This project was incredibly fun, and very time consuming.  If you are short on time, and want to recreate the look yourself, I highly recommend buying her kit here.  For $15, you get “6 sheets of high quality reproductions” all done for you.  When I add up all the time I spent, and count on the fact that you’re getting them from the actual artist, it’s a bargain price.

I will definitely be saving my wreath for many years.

St. Lucia

Over here, I started telling a story about participating in the St. Lucia Festival as a child.  I’d like to talk about it a bit more.

My great grandparents came here from Sweden.  They arrived in Staten Island.  Eventually, they ended up in Western Upstate New York.  To illustrate the connection I feel with them – my great grandparents, their daughter/my grandmother and her husband, my parents, and Skotte and I were all married in the same church.  The first two couples were married in the chapel, and the latter of us in the sanctuary.  My great grandparents were charter members of the VASA Order of America in our city.  The Swedish Lodge hosted the Lucia Fest up until a few years ago.  I was lucky enough to be the Lucia twice as a teenager.  It was a BIG deal for me.  My Swedish heritage is very important to me.

Here is a picture of me participating in the festival. I am not sure how old I was when I first started.  I remember going to the fest before I participated, though, so I might have been around six.  In this picture, I am wearing my very favorite outfit, one with special embroidered trim on it.  I remember waiting to be old enough to wear it, and then sad when I outgrew it. 

The cutie in red is my younger brother, Erik.  He is dressed as a tomte.  (He is also the baby above with the cute bow tie outfit.)

Here we are waiting for our candles to be lit, and then process into the hall singing this song.

Other songs sung:  Midnatt råder, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, O Little Town of Bethlehem, and Silent Night in Swedish.

Someone reads a poem in Swedish and then English, often an exchange student for authenticity.

Each year, I played a solo on my violin. (You can see my brother hiding behind me.)


After we process out, then everyone sits down for a smorgasbord of COOKIES! The adults had the option to buy glögg.  Santa would arrive and give us gold chocolate coins.

Then the dancing would begin!

The Lucia Fest is also where my love of accordions began, as we had *TWO* accordion players to accompany us.

Here is a short video taken at one of the more recent fests.

I hope you enjoy this small look at one family tradition I hold close to my heart.

The Holiday Season has arrived!

We put up our first holiday decoration a couple of days ago.

I read many craft blogs obsessively.  I take notes.  I bookmark pages.  I save things with fervor.  The one thing I am trying to do more of is actually USE and create things!

One blog I read is Happy ZombieMonica Solorio-Snow is the super crafty quilty goddess over there.  I can’t even pretend to be a smidge as fabulous as she is.  My favorite thing about her posts is the COLORS!  The quilts are amazing and colorful.  It’s visual candy for my eyes.  

These tags come from one of her fabric lines, if I’m not mistaken.  I fell instantly in love.

Go here to download the tags and make your own projects!

These are super cute, and our picture doesn’t do them justice.  So please – go to Happy Zombie and see her work there!