25 DIY Advent Calendars

I have never done an advent calendar before. Truthfully I never even heard of one until a few years ago. But now that I have kids, every holiday seems more fun and magical, and at this age it's fun to see their excitement and anticipation build for these special celebrations. Drake has been talking about Christmas, especially his elf who is scheduled to visit again after Thanksgiving since early October, so I feel like this year he really understands the idea of the coming holidays. He is learning months and days of the week at school so that helps when we tell him Christmas only happens in December and he knows December follows after November. I would love to try an advent calendar with Drake & Juliet and I always love a good DIY, so I have been scouring the web to look for ideas.

I love this muffin tin advent simply because it's simple. I already own a muffin tin and a hole punch so it wouldn't take me long to whip up at all. I found these tiny little animal erasers on Amazon and think this might be perfect for my animal loving Drake. I can't imagine his anticipation everyday to see what new animal shows up in his tin. I don't love the idea of doing little gifts every Christmas since Christmas is already pretty gift laden, but I also know the wonder of childhood will only last so long too, so maybe it's best to enjoy it when they are young enough to still appreciate the magic as well.

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What To Do About Winter Hat Hair

Winter hat hair. It's sorta like a big messy Monday that happens almost everyday of the winter - it's unavoidable and inevitable. So after, blankity-blank (I'm modest like that) years "enjoying" (cough) winters, I have sorta figured out how to deal with messy winter hair. Or at least how to ignore it, but ignoring is still a coping skill, and when it comes to hair I don't think it's an unhealthy one. *The above image is from Cara Loren, who makes winter hat hair look pretty darn amazing.

Here are a few great hairstyles to help with that that inevitable hat hair....

- This is a great style if you wear a lot of scarves. Keep that hair off your neck to avoid that nape of the neck hair bird's nest. I know you know what I'm talking about. If your hair isn't crazy thick (and if it is, I'm personally very jealous), this should fit nicely under a winter hat and stay pretty well intact all day. And hey look, there is even a tutorial from Camille Styles.

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10 Minute Salted Caramel Popcorn

Mr. O and I have a wicked sweet tooth, and we're always on the lookout for new snack ideas. While I'm always game for a batch of chocolate chip cookies or a heaping bowl of ice cream, sometimes I'm craving something a little bit different. I came across this recipe for salted caramel popcorn from Gordon Ramsey, and after seeing the ingredients required (only 6!) and the time needed (10 minutes!), I knew I had to give it a try. And while the instructions might sound a bit complicated, I promise, once you've tried it, you'll be whipping up caramel corn for every occasion.

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The Elf on the Shelf... Does Good Deeds

It started almost four years ago when Mini Michelangelo was gifted an Elf on the Shelf. It seemed innocent enough—every day the elf would hang out in your house, watching the going-ons... then every night he or she would fly back to the North Pole and report in to Santa. The next morning, we would awake to discover the elf in a new perch, ready to see what the new day brought.

Simple enough. (If you were accepting of the fact that Santa had essentially sent a spy to your house for the season. But that's a conversation for another day, no?!)

But. Kids talk. And apparently, some of these elves were very, very "silly." (I personally would call them naughty... but tomato/tomahto.) Mini wondered why his elf wasn't silly! His elf just jumped from spot to spot. He wasn't TPing the tree, or drawing mustaches on the family portraits, or eating all the cookies in the cookie jar. Heck, sometimes he even fell asleep watching Law & Order and found himself in the same spot the following day! (Oops.)

After a few days of sharing stories at snack time, Mini came home and declared that he needed a new elf. His elf was clearly not doing a satisfactory job, and therefore needed to be replaced. Instead of firing our elf, we chose to sit our elf down and tell him about some of the antics the other elves were up to and encourage him to mix it up a bit. We made it clear that we wouldn't appreciate anything mean, or malicious... or anything that would get a little boy in trouble if he were to mimic it. (So, TPing the tree was out. As was anything involving a marker of any sort.)

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DIY Felt Tree Scape Advent Calendar

Ever since I can remember, we have had advent calendars at my house. Some involved gifts, some were handmade, some have been filled with chocolate, and some are connected to activities or Scripture. And a few have remained more special than others. I especially like handmade calendars, but I never manage to make them in time for December 1st. It's cutting it close this year, but you can still make this felt advent calendar and use it with your family for years to come.

If you make your calendar exactly as shown above, it will take a couple evenings to complete. But if you skip the stitching, the entire calendar will be finished in a few hours!

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Educational Gifts for Pre-Schoolers

Drake is at a wonderful age for learning. I have always leaned toward educational toys, but now that he is going to school and picking up things left and right as well as expressing an interest in certain topics (animals), I have been trying to look at toys tailored to meet his growing interests. This is a small list of items I have been eyeing for Drake for now and a little later as he grows.

1) Maps - Drake has this map puzzle of the United States given to him by his aunt and uncle after Juliet was born. He has pretty much mastered making it himself and he surprised us when we told him we were going to Disneyworld this summer in Florida, and he said it was the one that had the rockets on his puzzle. Before our road trip we did the puzzle and showed him all the states we would be going through and pointed them out to him as we hit them on our drive down. Drake has also started to get a broader idea of countries because he understands animals live in different areas of the world. In line with that I am eyeing this puzzle map of the world with animals on them. When he gets a bit older I would love to get him a globe as well. The electronic ones seem to be very pricey, so I'm going to hold off a few more years until Drake is more ready.

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Little Stroller's Orange Big Boy Bedroom

When Little Stroller moved to his big new bedroom this summer, he enthusiastically requested an orange room with "choo-choo flags." I planned to reuse as much as possible from his navy & white nursery since I had spent so much time sewing before his arrival, so we decided on a navy, orange & white color scheme. There's really only one orange fan in this house, so rather than paint the entire room a blinding orange, I decided on an orange ceiling. Judging from his reaction, it was just what he envisioned!

However, the crisp orange ceiling (Benjamin Moore Sweet Orange - not too bright, but not flesh colored) made the walls look a bit dingy and too pale. I hadn't planned to repaint the walls, especially in the middle of my second trimester, so I just went one shade darker than their previous color from "Seafoam" to "Ocean Air." Going just one shade darker meant I only had to roll on one coat and still got great coverage using a high quality paint.

Sewing "choo-choo flags," which is Little S speak for the pennant flags hanging over the lap pool we frequented this summer, proved to be a much bigger project. Little S and I chose about a dozen different navy or orange fabrics from both my fabric stash and online and bought 1/2 yard of each. I made a cardstock triangle template that would maximize the number of flags from each piece of fabric and got to work cutting. And sewing. And turning. Then I made a gazillion miles of bias tape from a couple of yards of navy polka dot fabric from my stash. Then I sewed some more. And over two months later we had choochoo flags long enough to span the entire perimeter of Little S's orange bedroom. They were the crowning touch, tying everything together. I call them his choo-choo flag crown molding. We love them.

Come check out Little S's big orange bedroom!

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