Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tis' the Season: A Toddlers Christmas Activities

Christmas is nearly here, and I'm definitely on the ride!  We have been having such a fun time with it, visiting Santa Clause:

Cutting down our Christmas tree in the snow packed Pecos National Forest:

We also cut one for my brothers restaurant, The Hollar. It's such a fun tradition to start with your family, and the forest service encourages the cutting of trees to help manage forest fires!  
Why do those trees look so much smaller in the forest?  We totally went overboard, and had to cut some of our tree off to fit it inside, even at the highest point of our living room... nearly 12 ft.  but it is beautiful.  The leftovers are making some really beautiful arrangements.

We had an amazing snow day, just in time for a beautiful white Christmas:

 Isla and I stayed in and baked Christmas cookies, and once I got the hang of doing it with a toddler, it was a blast.  They surely weren't pretty:
But Isla had so much fun, and that's all that mattered.  To help all of you parents out there who might be attempting this, pretend you are playing with play dough!  I ended up giving Isla a large piece of dough, and she just played with the cookie cutters and chocolate chips:

It was truly a disastrous mess, but a lot of fun especially since she had a fever and a little cold!
Today we went on a sledding hike and built a snowman (notice he has a belly button, Isla's creative input):
She had a great time decorating him!
It's been such a fun season so far, look for a post this weekend on the house decorations and a toddler Christmas party we are throwing here tomorrow!  I baked for hours today!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

DIY: Christmas Advent Calendar

We're pretty into Christmas this year, I think it has something to do with our 2 year old getting excited about it, so I really wanted to make it special for her.  The house has been decorated, and we are going to cut our tree this weekend.  My parents always made the holidays really special for us, and an advent calendar was always part of the season.

As a little girl, my brother and I would look forward to the beginning of the Christmas season when our Mom, the day after Thanksgiving, would pull out all the beautiful, sparkly decorations and hang the count down to Christmas advent calendar.  Ours was different then the one I decided to make for our daughter, but the idea is the same.  Mom hung ours right by the front door, and I have vivid memories of leaving for school and moving the quilted present to the next day, getting closer and closer to Christmas, on the way out the door in the morning.  

I looked on etsy to buy one and they were way out of my price range (I now understand why), so I decided to make it.  I looked around for some material, and came across a used painters tarp (we're in the middle of a huge building project so I have lots of stuff like that hanging around).  The first step was to decide the size I wanted.  I made this one 30" x 41" and then decided to make the pockets 2 1/2" x 4". 
As far as sizing goes I would decide that after you choose what figure you want to use to count down the days.  Isla choose a very cool felted Santa head. 

I then cut out 25 rectangles to turn into pockets.  You could do 26 if you want so you end on a 0 instead of a 1, but the spacing worked out better for me this way.

Then placed them together and trimmed them to make sure they were equal sizes.

I then used my fabric pen (that disappears with water) to write the numbers on each pocket.

After I wrote all the numbers I began the process of embroidering the numbers.  I alternated red and green, every other number.

After the numbers were finished, I laid the 25 pockets on the sheet of fabric and got the spacing perfect and began attaching the pockets 1 by 1.

This was a great project to work on with my toddler.  Isla loves to help and be a part of the process, so I safely taught her how to embroider.  She loved it, and did a great job!

After the pockets were attached and the spacing was figured out, I drew a Rudolph the red nosed reindeer scene on the top and a house with a chimney on the number 1 pocket, to represent Santa coming to the house, and then embroidering it the same way as the numbers.

I choose Christmasy colors.  Red, green, white, brown, and baby blue.  You could use all sorts of colors.  Another combination I thought might be nice is using an old white sheet as the fabric and then navy blue and red embroidery thread with pops of gold.  The ideas and scenes you can create are endless.  I choose something a two year old would connect with, but a manger scene would be beautiful as well.

After the embroidery was finished I decided to attach a red ribbon across the top to help with fraying and allow the piece to be hung on the wall.

Hang it on the wall...
and there you have it!

It's such a fun, easy (time consuming, I'll admit, I have about 10 hrs. into it) project, and a really great memory to create with your loved ones.  Enjoy, and post your results here when you are done!
Happy Crafting and Merry Everything!