Animal Advent Calendar

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You might not think a shark is particularly Christmassy or a rhino, erm . . . . how about a crab? Well, my eldest boy loves ALL the animals so, mix them up with some Christmas stars and it’s an Animal Advent Calendar.

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I do like the chocolate ones and ‘Yes! I would like a chocolate Advent Calendar thank you very much’  but until Rupes cottons on to the chocolate element, there  won’t be any in these pockets.  He is desperate to look in all the pockets as it is, so if chocolate were involved it might just tip him over the edge. Lots of people do the advent book thing, which is nice and the books don’t have to be new. Other people give something each day rather than getting anything at all, which I would like to do with my boys when they are older and understand more. We are also pegging out a family photo a day, on a little string, in the lead up to Christmas, like this, my favourite picture of my grandparents:

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I’ve always enjoyed watching the passage of time with an Advent calendar, so I wanted something physical and visual which would appeal to a toddler.  I also like the idea of getting something out year, after year and making simple family traditions.

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I started making the calendar when I was pregnant with the twins but never really got it together in time for last year.  I had every intention of hand sewing little, felt decorations to go in the pockets, probably after seeing one on Pinterest.  All those twin hormones clearly made me completely over ambitious. It may still happen one day in the distant future but for now, there are plastic animals, purchased for the bargain price of five for a pound, and Christmas stars adorning the tree.

I’ve found life with a toddler to be full of extreme emotions, but everything about Christmas so far, with an almost three year old is well and truly bringing the magic back.

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Daniel the Tiger

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So now the festive season is well and truly over and we have passed the milestone of Roo turning one, I can finally catch my breath and check in here; I’m sorry I’ve neglected you!  I also went back to work at the start of January – it’s been emotional.

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One of our nieces, drew Roo this picture of ‘Daniel’ the tiger before Christmas, he’s so sweet:

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I thought it would be fun to make her drawing into a toy to send to her as a Christmas gift.

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I cut him out of lovely organic linen and embroidered his stripes and face using cotton embroidery thread.

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I added some embroidery on the back and gave him a little knitted jumper to keep him cosy.

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He is a little mischievous though!  When it came to posting time, Daniel had to burn off some of that energy and Christmas excitement before his long trip to the USA.  First I found him here:

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And then here hanging with the swallows:

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It took a while to find him here:

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And here:

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He listened to a couple of his faves before getting into the Christmas spirit and then into the post:

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Making a toy from a child’s drawing was possibly one of the most fun things I’ve done!  I really enjoyed trying to make him resemble the drawing and seeing him come to life.

Perfect Strangers Project, Oh Comely Magazine

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I love ‘Oh Comely’ magazine. I am in fact hoping a certain someone is going to buy me a subscription to it for Christmas, if you haven’t seen it I recommend you check it out.  The folks there run an annual parcel project called Perfect Strangers where you can connect with a stranger via package swapping, snail mail style.  When I read about my swapper, it wasn’t too hard to decide to make her a handmade parcel; in a nutshell it seems she is as crazy about handmade stuff as I am.  It seems like we would get along really well!

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Here is what ‘Oh Comely’ suggest as a starting point for your package:

Dear Perfect Stranger,

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create a parcel full of trinkets and treats for your swapper. Inside could be anything from sweets, a poem, to samples of your favourite tea.

If you’re stuck for ideas, here’s an inspiration list to get you going.

1. A wintry treat

The nights are drawing in, so get something to warm the cockles. The choice is yours, but how about scrumptious hot chocolate, a mini hot water bottle or a small hamster. Just kidding: definitely do not post hamsters. The price guide is £10.

2. A modern-day message in a bottle

For this, you will need an empty spice jar and a memory stick. Record something on the memory stick that you’d like to share: a mixtape, photographs you love, a film. Think about the songs or photos from your collection that you recommend time and again. Pop the memory stick in the jar, and seal it up ready to send into the world.

2. ‘What’s in my bag?’, photocopy edition

Pop into your local copy shop or accomplish this covertly at work. Empty the contents of your handbag, rucksack or favourite pocket onto the photocopier. Remove anything scratchy first, like your keys. Other than that, no cheating. That stray piece of chewing gum stays in, you hear? Make a copy. Now pick a colourful pen and annotate the objects as if you were writing a children’s science book. Lighters with sentimental value, bus tickets to see your Nan: tell ’em all about it.

If you don’t have access to a copier, you could send something you always keep in your bag instead, such as a fresh tube of your favourite hand cream.

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So here is what I put in the parcel:

1. A handmade wintry warmer cowl in black and white chunky knit

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2.  My other passion is music, so the memory stick is full of all time favourite songs along with some tunes to craft to!

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3.  My handbag contents is always ridiculous (thanks for letting me scan it Molly!)

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I thought she would definitely need some of these:

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And also one of these:

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The package would not be the same without these either:

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I’m getting a touch of the Christmas about me already, and yes I do know I’ve really got to keep that urge under control until December!

I also added some chocolate, of course, some cinnamon tea and some sparkly apple Christmas decorations.

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I really hope she liked it and I’d almost forgotten that I would be receiving a parcel too!  It’s a lovely way to get to know someone and this package from Stephanie really cheered up a grey day today, can’t wait to listen to the mix tape:

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Thank you so much for all the lovely things! Hopefully we’ll get to have a cuppa one day soon.

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I’m already in love with this fabric:

 

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She even put in little gifts for my boys:

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This was such a great idea from Oh Comely, I thoroughly recommend that you look out for it and take part next year, I know I definitely will.

Schnuggle-uppagus schnood!

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I remember one of my best friends, Faye, telling me about how her sister has been known to talk in her sleep, which can be embarrassing if you ever share a bed with friends or siblings, especially as you get older.  Thanks to Claire for coining the expression schnuggle-uppagus in dreamland, it’s the best way I can think of to describe this scarf.  I just want to crawl in as soon as the weather turns cold!

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I made this for myself really as it’s the kind of thing I want to wear in the cold, but a few friends and family now have them too.  They have been quite popular, it’s always extra special when you know gifts are very happily received.  I didn’t really want to model this myself, but it was too big for my baby boy and there was no one else around!  I managed to get one ‘normal’ (isn) face’ shot before I could no longer take myself seriously.

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I used a super chunky yarn and a pretty stitch which gives it a nice close weave, sometimes I find crochet can be a little too holey!

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It is a combination of a crocheted shell with a faux fur inner lining which really gives it a luxurious, wintry feel.

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It is completely reversible as well and I kind of like it both ways, you can choose which way to wear it depending on your mood or the air temperature.

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These will be available in two colours, scarlet and navy in my Etsy shop throughout the Autumn and Winter season.

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