The first day of advent (calendars)

I did a couple of advent calendar swaps again this year. Everyday becomes a bit more fun with little gifts to open in the morning πŸ™‚ Obviously I haven’t seen much of the calendars I received yet – I’m resisting the temptation to open everything at once! but I’m pleased with what I sent out so I hope my swap partners are enjoying their advent too.

Full advent calendar, sent to Australia:

I rearranged some of the order after I’d taken the pictures, but the calendar includes note pads, note cards, stickers, craft items, coasters, and a bit of chocolate. I also included a little note for each day, the first advent calendar swap I did a few years ago included notes and it made the calendar extra special, so I try to do the same now.

And of course it all got wrapped up nicely πŸ™‚

The second advent calendar I swapped was slightly different. It’s made up of 4 swaps of 6 items, with a theme for each set. I can’t quite remember now which swap went to who, but I think it ended up mainly within Europe.

Random flat items:

Possibly not all technically flat, but I sent 2 swaps to the same person so it was never going to be a slim package! Includes fabric, beads, stickers, decorative paper, and a clear stamp.

It’s only just December but I’ve already used up several rolls of wrapping paper so far!

I also sent the 6 pairs of socks swap to this swap partner, but I forgot to take a picture before I wrapped them!

Kitchen items:

Cake decorations, cupcake kit, a tea towel, cookie cutters and felt coasters. All very festive and hopefully useful.

Cards with gifts:

I raider my Christmas card stash for an extra festive feel πŸ™‚ Surely everyone has some cards left over from previous years?! Gifts included bath salts, craft items, a face mask, and a bit of tea. I tried to brighten up the plain envelopes too πŸ™‚

I hope the recipients are enjoying starting to open their gifts. I definitely had fun this morning – I got penguin gift tags and an owl key cover πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to see what I get tomorrow!

Quilted Christmas Stocking

I like to make things for my parents, I think they enjoy being able to say that I made whatever it is. Or I hope that’s the case and they’re not just being nice!

I find making for men harder, they don’t seem to need pouches or bags, although I’ll admit there’s only so many small sewn storage solutions that anyone really needs… So this year I made my Dad a stocking – and then got carried away putting little things in it but that’s a separate problem!

I did a quick search and found an idea for a stocking with a quilted star here. I just took the idea from the pictures. I learnt how to make stars whilst working on my quilt, and they’re a quick pattern to add festive detail. I made my stocking 15m/ 8″ across the top then drew a stocking shape to add to the star block on each side. 

I used 3 festive fat quarters – a red and a white snowflake pattern and a red Christmas text pattern.

I have nowhere good to hang a stocking so here it is on a door handle πŸ™‚

I used the great selvage to make the hanging loop. There’s often wonderful little details next to the manufacturer and fabric details.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out. Now there’s only one day left before I hand it over!

Nearly Christmas advent calendar update

I’ve been busy opening my many Swap-bot advent calendars this month πŸ™‚ It still feels surreal that Christmas is so close, so it’s been a regular surprise that there’s little gifts everyday, which is nice but also serves as a reminder of my terrible memory and inability to adjust to new activities… I took a few quick pictures before heading to my parents place for Christmas. I brought the final few days with me, and now there’s only one day left to open!

UK stationery advent calendar:

Stickers, pencils, sticky notes, a note book and little stamping set. There’s also more stickers and a stripy washi tape which somehow escaped my picture taking. I might take some fun pencils to work πŸ™‚ 

European flat items advent calendar:

Stickers, cards, lots of envelopes, a magnet from Prague, gift bag, ribbons and a couple of tags and charms. There’s been a big mix of stuff in this calendar…

International advent calendar:

I’ve been enjoying this calendar. I had one particularly generous partner who sent fabric, socks, a baggage tag, Japanese bowls and a soap and wash puff set πŸ™‚ I’ve also received fun paperclips, tags, a key light and some scrapbooking style stickers.

It’s really nice to have little surprises every day to cheer me up when I’m tired. I suppose a calendar for every month would be a bit too much! It would be fun to keep going to New Year or when the weather improves πŸ™‚

Chatsworth at Christmas

I’d heard about the beautiful Christmas decorations at Chatsworth House, but until recently I’d only visited in the summer. This years theme is ‘The Nutcracker’ – cue ballerinas and nutcracker soldiers, along with all the trees, light and baubles necessary for an amazing Christmas event! Chatsworth is a beautiful place normally, but the Christmas decorations made the visit extra special. Only part of the house is open in the winter (some rooms are already closed for cleaning and renovation) but there’s still plenty of festive rooms to admire. I might have found a new festive tradition πŸ™‚


Advent calendars update

Almost halfway through advent! Last year I don’t think I ever posted the advent calendar I received – I took the last few gifts home for Christmas meaning to take photos of the whole 24 items later on and it just never happened… As today I have time, motivation and some brain power (a rare combination at the moment!) I’ll do an about halfway update on my 3 advent calendars πŸ™‚

The stationery advent calendar:

Lots of nice goodies here! Stickers, sticky notes, lots of great tapes, pens and a candy cane pencil! I’ve already started using some of the tapes and stickers πŸ™‚ A pegasus is the closest thing I had to a unicorn!

The European flat items calendar:

More lovely tapes, including a Moomin tape, a couple of bookmarks, a little notebook, nautical themed ribbon, candle, note cards, and a fountain pen. I’m finding this one a bit mixed…I love the gold leaf bookmark and the patterned tapes, but the dark tape and the pen appear already used – I think I’d mind it less if it wasn’t so obvious!

The international calendar:

Even more mixed in this one so far, but I have hopes for improvement – I’ve tried to open the more obvious or boring looking ones first πŸ™‚ I understand people don’t want to spend much at all on swaps (or so it feels like) but getting clearly used items or part of a stack of sticky notes etc. does bother me, especially when I’ve thought of these as gifts rather than just a few little bits to throw in an envelope. So, in this selection we have: Tapes (possibly not full rolls? turning them into samples might be better if that’s what you’re sending…), sticky notes, scrapbooking stickers, Halloween stickers (?!), candles, confetti, twine and charms, a decoration, and the big surprise – sparklers! I just checked the Royal Mail ‘do not ever post this’ list and as I thought all fireworks are on there. Maybe the restrictions in the Netherlands are looser? I can actually trace all the weird stuff in this calendar to one swapper…

Also in this calendar, selfie cards. I’d never heard of them before, not being a big selfie taker or social media user, but I believe this is what they’re for:

Slightly dissapointed they’re double sided and not postcards. Maybe I could take them if I ever get invited to a party…

Roll on Christmas! Holiday time to sleep in and hopefully get some energy back πŸ™‚

Mincemeat lattic tart

A festive recipe from my Mum’s ancient Good Housekeeping recipe book πŸ™‚

Shortcrust pastry – I used a 500g block of ready made pastry
2 cooking apples – peeled and grated or thinly sliced
Lemon juice
120ml mincemeat – but I used a whole jar…

1. Roll out the pastry and use it to line a greased 20cm pie dish. Trim the dish and keep the trimmings for the lattice
2. Cover the bottom of the dish with the apples and brush with lemonΒ Β  juice (this stops the apples going brown)
3. Spread the mincemeat over the apples – I just aimed for a good thin covering, the raisins expand when cooked
4. Use the left-over pastry in thin strips to create a lattice on top of the tart
5. Bake at 200 degrees C/ 400 degrees F/ gas 6 for 30 minutes
6. Enjoy!

It’s a surprisingly rich dessert. The mincemeat is definitely the dominant flavour, and the apple adds more in texture and sweetness than taste. Great served warm with maybe a little cream or ice cream.

Bling Book jewellery rolls

At the last “make it sew” sewing club I saw a little book on quick Christmas gifts with some great ideas in, so of course I got my own copy of Simply Sewing as soon as I could, just for the free book πŸ™‚

One project I really like is the “bling book” small jewellery roll, so I made a little stack to wrap up and give. They’re not perfect, my sewing is still a bit irregular, but it’s a fun little make.


The little book folds out to reveal 3 clasps for holding necklaces and a pocket to tuck them into, and a pocket at the other end for any other pretty things. There’s a fleece lining to add some padding, next time I’ll spend more money on the fusible fleece and less time poking loose fleece back into the right place…

I added a few little charms and some contrast stitching in places to add a bit of decoration to the inside. Try not to sew through the charms, I’m surprised I didn’t break a needle on one of them!



And then it folds up and closes with a popper. My first time using them and only one went a bit off πŸ™‚


Perfect for a short trip away! I might make a few more if I have time…but another project from the book is waiting to be sewn first!


Advent Calender

Another swap-bot swap sent recently – a home made advent calender! It’s something I’ve fancied doing for a while but never had the chance to do. It was also a great opportunity to raid my stash as well as going shopping, I have so many things tucked away now, but the partner I was paired with likes scrapbooking so most of those gifts are new, and the more Christmas themed items.

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