Handmade Advent Calendar

The weeks leading up to Christmas seem to get faster and faster but this year instead of adding our usual advent calendars to the end of our online grocery shop, I wanted to make something a little more special for our daughters, something they could keep for years to come. 

  
Materials –

1/2 m hessian fabric

Scissors

Ruler

Pencil

Sewing machine

Pole (I used part of a clothes hanger)

Dressmaking pins

Pattern paper (I used baking paper) 

Ribbons

Felt fabric advent numbers

Felt fabric (christmas colours)

Ribbons

Bias binding (5m)

String

Fabric glue

  
I started off by doing a quick sketch of design I wanted 

  

Once happy with the design, I drew it out onto pattern paper (I used baking paper)

  

Cut out all the pieces – one large back piece and 6 strips for the pockets 

   

Sew bias binding on the two longest sides of the pocket strips

 

Add decorative ribbon to the top sides

  

It is possible to buy felt advent calendar numbers but I made my own, – Use a paper template and cut numbers out of white felt fabric

  

Glue down the numbers and once dry machine stitch. 

Make small marks for the vertical stitched lines that divide the pockets

  

Pin in place and stitch on the reverse along the bottom of the pocket pieces. 

Test that the pockets are the right way around before sewing.

  

It should look like this when finished and ready to turn up and reveal the numbers. Pin in place.

Pin and stitch binding around edge

  

Tie bows and stitch in place. Alternatively, festive felt shapes can be used.

Stitch vertical lines for the pocket dividers

  

Fold over and stitch top section leaving enough room for pole to be inserted. 

  

Tie string and advent calendar is ready to hang and fill with goodies 

 

  

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Love in the small print

  
There have been so many adverts for LOVE over the last few days as well as images representing hope, peace and unity but in some of the attached exchange of comments there have been sparks of hate. It makes me glad we don’t have access to our own private armies, we’d be launching attacks left, right and centre! 

How can we claim we love when we slam the door on people’s opinions just because they differ from ours? 

How can we claim to want unity when we divide by viciously telling people to go away when they hold different views? 

How can we claim peace when we are quick to call and respond to each other with horrid names? 

Everyone’s story is valid, no one is more important than another. We all have the ability and intelligence to accept or reject people’s point of view, that is our human right, but sometimes we throw out the person along with their opinions. Before discarding the person, LISTEN. Really listen. Listen to their story. Ask questions. Open up. Share. It’s so amazing when we break that first barrier and we don’t let our preconceptions get in the way. Fear puts up angry barriers, love breaks them down. People will always have different views and make different choices, those are the results of the incredible gift of free will. 

Like all of us I know how to love, but I am continually questioning – am I loving as fully as I could today? Is it “love” to shower it generously on my loved ones but then hold it back at someone who I feel offended by? One thing I know is that LOVE HAS NO PARTIALITY. What good are the big displays of love if we don’t have it written in the small print of our hearts? I think the difference I can make today is to make sure I am loving fully, make sure that I’m giving love in the small details of life. To love not only the people who are easy to love but the people who are difficult to love. I know this is only possible not by my weak and pathetic standards of love but but by keeping my heart entrusted to Jesus, who enables all that do to love like him – fully, powerfully and without limits, everyday allowing him to soften and mould our hearts to be humble, gentle and kind. 

“As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34)

A Thankful Heart

  
I’m good at grumbling, I’m so naturally great at it I make Morrissey look like Mary Berry. A couple of weekends back I’d had enough of my chronic illness. Tired & grumpy I left my husband & children and charged back off to bed. As I lay in bed frowning at the ceiling I prayed, “Seriously Lord, you give me 3 children to care for, how am I supposed to do that when my body won’t let me! I know you can heal me in a breath, why aren’t you healing me? I can’t take this pain anymore! Lord what do I do?!” Then my exhausted heart calmed “what do I do?” Suddenly peace fell upon me and a list of so many things I had to be grateful for started flooding into my mind. All these wonderful gifts I’d taken for granted since I’d woken that morning;- the gift that I’d opened my eyes, I was able to enjoy the soft sparkle of the sun. Blood rushing through my body, my heartbeat, oxygen, cells. Underneath my skin there was a busy network of a million miracles continuously taking place, keeping me alive. The part of my body that wasn’t functioning properly had grown so big in my mind that it had taken over my day but in that moment it shrank so minute in comparison to all the wonderful things that I had to be grateful for (in my body alone!) In life there will be hardships but there is always certainty in times of uncertainty -Jesus is enough to carry us through. His peace surpasses all understanding. He was not only reminding me to trust and be thankful, he was enabling me to do so.

“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:26-27) 
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10). 

The immense power of his love for all of us has made it possible to dance in our turmoils, sing in our heartbreak, smile through our pain and have the wonderful gift of a thankful heart. What a faith building experience! 

Banana pancakes

Don’t you love those mornings when you break from the old routine? We came down for breakfast and as I headed to the cereal cupboard I shouted “Who wants PANCAKES?!” This was met with squeals of “yeeeessss, Mummy, yay, yay, yay, PANCAKES!” This is a great recipe for all to get involved.

Ingredients

20g butter

130g self raising flour

1/2 tbsp baking powder

1 egg

150ml milk

2 tbsp golden caster sugar

Drop of vanilla extract

Cinnamon

I banana (chopped)

Sunflower oil

Chocolate to melt (optional)

 

Method

  • Melt butter in large frying pan
  • Add milk to whisked egg and mix
  • Add drop of vanilla extract

  

  • Tip flour, baking powder and sugar in bowl

  • Mash banana

    

  • Make well in flour mix and slowly combine milk mixture

  

  • Once you have a smooth batter, add a dash of cinnamon 

  

  • Fold in the banana
  • Melt chocolate in a Bain Marie or microwave
  • Heat oil in large frying pan. Turn down to medium heat. Using large spoon drop spoonfuls of mixture into pan.

  

  • Once golden brown on both sides serve with a drizzle of melted chocolate

 

Hand printed Christmas Cards

To make lino print Christmas cards you will need –

  • Soft Lino block sheet (grey)
  • 4″ brayer / roller
  • Lino cutting tool set
  • A4 sheet acrylic perspex (3mm thick)
  • A6 cards
  • C5 envelopes
  • Pencil
  • Lino printing ink
  • Baren
  • Greeting message stamp and ink pad

*there are different types of starter kits available too.
You will need a good sized surface to work on and make sure to protect table if necessary. 

Pencil sketch design onto lino sheet. Images and text need to be in reverse. Once happy with design, carve out all the areas that will be blank. You may want to practice on spare lino first to get used to the right pressure needed to cut and size of tools needed. *Always cut away from body and other hand*

  
Using a small amount of ink, roll out onto acrylic perspex sheet making sure there is only a fine and even layer on roller. 

Roll the ink evenly onto lino design. 

Place lino block on a test sheet, use baren to give an even print. 

Carefully peel away lino and if happy reapply thin layer of ink to roller and print onto card. Each time reapplying ink and using baren for even print.  

Keep an eye on paint on fingers, being careful not to get fingerprints on cards.

  

When cards are dry, stamp in greeting massage. 

  

My cards are available at http://www.etsy.com/shop/thechrissiewhiteshop