Sunday, December 8, 2013

Homemade Christmas Cards

Last year I snatched up some of these pine tree discs that were scattered on the ground around the Christmas tree lots - leftovers from trimming the bottoms of Christmas trees that were on their way to new homes. I even went back on a separate day with an empty plastic bag to collect a few more, knowing that these little tree scraps would come in handy for a project, or two. I just had to wait for the inspiration to come. And come it did! The first wave of inspiration came last year when I made these cute little seasonal decor stands

The second wave of inspiration hit more recently however, when the idea suddenly hit me to make these cute little mini forests. Later I decided they would make the perfect build-your-own Christmas card. I hate to say it, but I had to pat myself on the back for this one. Sometimes when ideas like this come, the resulting product isn't at all what I envisioned. But these little tree forests turned out even cuter than I thought they would. 

You never really know with creative projects. Sometimes they turn out to be huge time and money wasters but sometimes they are the best thing since sliced bread. Either way, when an idea comes that will just not leave you alone, you have to go with it. I am really glad I went with this one. And I am equally glad that my packaging idea worked out as well. I found the perfect sized boxes to mail them in at a local office supply store, and they were on sale! Which is a small miracle in itself :-). 

I only wish I had thought of the idea sooner so that I could make and send even more of these little tree forests out into the world. 

Items needed for this project:

Scrap wood Christmas tree bottoms, or any other suitable wood item to act as a stand
Scrap paper from magazines, catalogues, etc.
A free-form tree template (I hand drew mine)
Glue stick
Toothpicks, cut in half with the pointy ends trimmed off
An awl, or pointy tool, to make holes in the bases for the toothpicks to stand in
Your imagination and a sense of adventure

Have fun!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Happy Advent Calendar

(Rörstrand porcelain: Starboy)

Happy first Advent of the season! I truly love this time of year in Stockholm and the Swedes really know how to celebrate it with all of the cozy candlelit cafes filled with delicious warm drinks and saffron buns, just to mention a few of the wonderful treats. Starting today you also begin to see paper star lanterns and advent candlesticks in home and shop windows, emitting a soft warm glow and brightening up the dark winter days. 

And of course, there is the advent calendar. This year I decided to make my own to tick off the days until Christmas. Instead of purchasing a pre-made advent calendar with candies hidden behind a paper lock/door, I thought it would be fun to make an advent calendar with things to do each day as opposed to simply eating a small chocolate. Don't get me wrong, these small actions could easily include a yummy treat, as you'll notice number one below commands you to enjoy a hot chocolate. And that means today in case you were wondering.

So instead of going to yoga class this morning, I sat at my desk cutting out and gluing Christmas-themed symbols to represent each day of my calendar. I also shamelessly admit that I listened to Christmas music as I worked. It was very much a meditative act so I didn't feel so bad about missing yoga, and I did go for a run in the afternoon so it seemed justified. My cat was also very helpful (not). She especially loved when I got to the part of attaching strings to each day's symbol. I finally gave her a piece of the string to go play with, which has since vanished. I hope she didn't eat it! (I am pretty sure she did not eat it). 

Below is my list of action messages for each day. Feel free to follow along, or borrow them for your own daily advent action calendar. You could even write them on a piece of paper and tuck them into your children, your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, or wife's lunches, tuck them under a pillow, or tape the message to the bathroom mirror for someone, even yourself, to find each morning. It warms the spirit to have something happy or positive to think about each day. What is more positive or happy than celebrating fond memories, or creating new ones? 

1. Enjoy a hot chocolate to kick off Advent.

2. Give a surprise treat to someone. 

3. Send a handwritten letter to someone you haven't seen or spoken to in a long time. 

4. Watch a Christmas movie to get into the holiday spirit.

5. Call someone you haven't spoken to in a while to brighten their day. 

6. Drink glögg with a friend or loved one. 

7. Bake homemade cookies. 

8. Write your favorite quote or poem on a piece of paper & leave it somewhere for a stranger to find. 

9. Give someone a compliment.

10. Listen to Christmas music.

11. Make Christmas candy.

12. Go for a walk and look at Christmas lights.

13. Celebrate St. Lucia day.

14. Go get a Christmas tree! 

15. Go to the “Pussstation” (literally: kissing station) at Central Station and kiss under the mistletoe.

16. Take a friend out for coffee or fika & talk about your favorite holiday memories. 

17. Watch the movie "Elf" & have something cozy and warm to drink. 

18. Wrap Christmas presents and listen to Christmas music. 

19. Send someone a secret Santa surprise. (Shhh! Don’t tell… it’s a secret!)

20. Eat gingerbread cookies & blue cheese (yes, together… super yummy!)

21. Decorate clementines with whole cloves & red ribbons. 

22. Drink hot spiced buttered rum & apple cider.

23. Eat hazelnuts and play filipin!

24. Do everything and anything that is Christmas-y!