Small paper bag advent calendar.

 

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For Munchkin’s first Advent (we didn’t do one last year) I wanted something she could have a great time opening and, most likely, destroying in the process. So I came up with the concept of making up 24 little paper bags. Each a different design. We then filled them with little toys, Duplo and a couple of chocolates on surprise days.
 

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I modified my Pretty Patterned Paper Bag template and print them out on 30 pieces of A4 printer paper. The larger bags need to be printed over two pieces and glued together. I then cut them out using an x-acto knife and glued them together using a Pritt stick (paper glue stick).
 

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They’re quite easy and only took me a few hours in front of the television to put them together one evening. I’ve made the template available below in PDF form for you to print out and make up yourself! I hope your little ones have as much fun with this as Munchkin is having. She’s just demolished bag number one.
 

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Geometric Bee Invitation Suite

 

Geometric Bee Invitation Suite

 

It’s been a couple of months since Munchkin’s first birthday and I’m finally getting around to sharing with you the Invitation Suite I designed for it. I created an Invitation and Thank You Notelet with matching envelopes and a Wrapping Paper/ Envelope Insert. The Geometric Bee Gift Box I created can be found here.

They’d make a really cute invite for many events, not just a first birthday. Or as personalised stationery.

 

Geometric Bee Invitation Suite

 

It’s exceedingly easy to do. I’ve included both PDF and JPG files of all of the items. So you can either print off all the PDF files and write your text in by hand, or pull the JPG files into your favourite editing software to add your preferred text. Then print and cut them out, do a little assembly work and your done!

I decorated both the inside of my envelopes and my invitations with faux gold leaf to add a little something special.

I also printed the Wrapping paper/ Envelope Insert print on the reverse of my Thank you Envelope so it had the honeycomb print on the inside.

 

Geometric Bee Invitation Suite

 

And whilst I ran out of time to make all of my Invitation Envelopes, I’ve included them in the suite for you. They’re lined with the Wrapping paper/ Envelope Insert print and also decorated with a little faux gold leaf.

 

Geometric Bee Invitation Suite

 

Spending a little time adding the gold leaf really make the invites sparkle! The little bees were the most fiddly and time consuming, but I’m really happy with how they turned out. Read more

Crafting & unhealthy comparison

 

Cotton Yarn

 

Over the last few weeks and months I’ve read quite a number of news stories and Facebook posts about how Pinterest and ‘Mommy blogs’ are making life hard for mothers. Most with an underlying theme that those of us who DIY and make are all A-type overachievers with nothing more to do than to compete at motherhood.

This one, was posted yesterday on the Facebook page of a Mommy blogger and clearly states in its title that Modern Moms are looking for perfection in all the wrong places.

I feel compelled to comment. Particularly as of late, I’ve had a number of people not so subtly hint that I’m creating problems for other mothers.

Yes I bake elaborate cakes, host themed parties, host dinner parties, create invites, paper art, sew, crochet, embroider, knit, letterpress, re-purpose, eat mostly organic and entirely gluten-free. Then I post the things I make, create and host on this blog. I share my creations and give most of them away for free. I’m starting a small business selling a few of them.

And I’m a Mum!

I do what I do because I love it. I relax and enjoy creating. I love the space I go to in my mind when I’m making. I enjoy the process of creating as much as the finished product. For me, putting together a party is as much fun as the actual event! I find inspiration and genuine pleasure when I see what others have made and so share what I do to feed into that inspirational pool.

I don’t do these things to make others feel bad.

I don’t feel like I’m entering a competition.

I did ALL of these things before I had Munchkin and now I do many of them for her.

Lately I’m starting to feel pressure to apologise continually for my creations. But I don’t need to apologise, nor do I want to.

I’m far from perfect. My house is often a mess. I never make it through my to-do lists. I often don’t get the exercise I need. My projects sometimes belong on Pinterest Fails or Cake Wrecks. My daughter watches more television than I’d like. Munchkin sometimes eats one pot, heat and serve meals when I’m seriously short on time. My friends know that it’s just as likely that they’ll arrive at my house for coffee to find it clean and tidy and be served freshly baked cake as it is that I’ll put out a box of chocolates and ask that they ignore the clutter. I often feel like I’m struggling to find a balance between being Mother/ Wife/ Self that is akin to finding the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. And a multitude of other stresses, private issues, disappointments and frustrations.

I don’t post these things on Facebook or my blog. There is no point. It’s not constructive, nor, I believe, healthy to do so. I wouldn’t walk down the street telling strangers my problems so why would I post it publicly?

Why can’t we all realise that very few of us post/ share the bad things, and recognise that we all have private, sometimes chaotic lives?

I don’t care how you choose to live your life. If you chose to buy a birthday cake from the grocery store or make one. If you chose to feed your children organic, vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free, or entirely from the frozen food aisle. Unless what you’re doing is exceedingly dangerous I would never consider commenting on it.

Munchkin won’t care if she’s at her own birthday party with home-made cake or at a friends eating store-bought ice-cream cake. She’ll adore both parties. And I’ll adore that your little one invited Munchkin, that you went to the effort to generously host a party, that she had a ball, ate ice-cream and played with her friends. I don’t think that any party, dinner party or other project is any less worthy because the host decided to buy a cake and hates crafting. And there is no reason anyone should feel pressure to do anything they don’t want to.

I’m a firm believer that everyone should prioritise the things that matter to them and let others make their own priorities. We all chose to do things differently. It’s what makes us wonderfully interesting human beings.

So please, mother or not, if reading my blog, looking at Pinterest or another Mum is making you feel badly or like a failure, stop reading it, delete your account, ignore them and live your life as you see fit. Because I fully intend to happily live mine as I choose. And I choose to bake my daughter’s birthday cakes, host themed parties, sew, knit, crochet and anything else creative I can think of and can find time to do.

Not because I’m expected to, but because I want to and thoroughly enjoy the process.

If you don’t enjoy it. It’s simple. Don’t do it!

When we all stop turning our mere existence into a competition and comparing ourselves to everyone else, we’ll all be so much happier!

Animal Parade Carousel Cake

 

Meri Meri Animal Parade Carousel Cake

 
I hope you’re having a splendid weekend? Mine has been gorgeous and full of festivities. It started Friday with DM’s and my wedding anniversary. DM has been at a conference in Dublin all week and only arrived home on Friday, so we didn’t do much on the actual day, we were both too tired. But we belatedly celebrated today when we went for a gorgeous brunch at one of our favourite hotels and then watched a Wes Andersen film whilst Munchkin napped.
 

Meri Meri Animal Parade Carousel Cake

 
The festivities continued yesterday afternoon when we attended Munchkin’s friends first birthday party. His mother and I had arranged a skills swap, she decorated the amazing cookies for Munchkin’s birthday and in return, I decorated her little boys first birthday cake.

I made the decorations out of modelling chocolate and placed them on a buttercream frosting base. Both the cake and the buttercream were made by Nikki. I was unable to sample it as it contained gluten, but both DM and Munchkin thought it delicious! Munchkin loved it so much she polished off an entire piece and, only with extreme reluctance, shared with one of their cute but very eager dogs.
 

Meri Meri Animal Parade Carousel Cake

 
Nikki had purchased a really cute suite of decorations called Animal Parade from Meri Meri, and made up really sweet cookies with the giraffe and zebra patterns. I took the designs of the animals and incorporated them into the cake.

I very rarely decorate cakes (though it appears I’ll be getting more and more practice in future! ;)) and so I’m pretty rusty. I’m really happy with how the animals turned out but not quite so happy with the top of the carousel, I made the panels smaller than the bunting surrounding it to allow the frosting to show through. But in hindsight I should have made larger panels and covered the top completely. I wanted to remake it but I ran out of time (and energy).
 

Meri Meri Animal Parade Carousel Cake

 
Finally, we’ve a little celebration for my birthday tomorrow. I’ve been banished from the studio and I’m blogging in the lounge whilst trying very hard not to listen to DM and Munchkin make me a birthday surprise. It sounds perfectly splendid. It seems to involve quite a lot of chatting from Munchkin, laughter from DM and a fair bit of bashing. I’m trying very hard not to guess at what it is! I kind of want to join in the fun, but it would mean spoiling the surprise.

After the long weekend of festivities, I’m preparing for a severe case of Tuesday-itis and so am planning on sewing up yet another cute birthday present for another of Munchkin’s friends celebrating her first birthday next week. November is a popular month!
 

Advent Calendar Inspiration

I had intended to put my bee themed invitations and thank you cards up for this weeks blog post, and to have a baking post for you! But this week has been chaotic!

DM has been away at a conference in Dublin so I’ve been looking after Munchkin full-time. This isn’t a problem, but it does mean I don’t sleep as well, so I’m not as on the ball as usual.

I’ve also been busy making cute little modelling chocolate cake decorations for a first birthday party in my spare time. They’re for a cake to match these sweet party decorations from Meri Meri.  I’ve also been trying to make a Christmas/ Birthday present for another little lady who is about to turn one too!

And this morning the lady who gives me a couple of hours help once a week cancelled, meaning I have to clean my house instead of blogging and baking. Again, just a first world problem and not a big one at that! But it does mean I’m going to have to take a rain check and post this weeks post next week.

I’ve also been thinking about advent calendars for this year. These are my previous ones, they’re both now available on my store.
 

Robot Advent 2012
Advent Calendar 2012 craft gawker

 
I’d like to make something for Munchkin that is a bit easier to get into. And that doesn’t take endless hours to put together as my daughter appears to have a love of packaging (just like her mother!) but they often don’t survive said loving. It also needs to be big enough to hold something other than lollies as I really don’t want to give her sugar every day.
I’ve been wracking my brain and as yet haven’t come up with anything fabulous. I really like these ideas (click on images to go to photo websites).
 

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Zenzi Adventswolke
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Modern-Advent-Calendar 4
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What do you think? What kind of Advent calendar are you making this year? I’d love to see them! Post a link in the comments and show me?