Thursday, 31 December 2020

A year of completing my unfinished craft projects

At the beginning of 2020 I set myself a challenge to complete one of my unfinished projects each month. Despite all the twists and turns that this year brought I did pretty well with my challenge and was very pleased with all the projects that I managed to tick off my list, as well as finding the time to try out some new crafts. Here's how I got on:

My project for January was this Heart cross stitch. Although I only started it the previous December, I had purchased the pattern at least a year before and was really keen to start working on it. It was bought as a pattern only so I used embroidery floss from my stash, and I love the finished product.

Heart cross stitch circular pattern in embroidery hoop

In February I got out my paintbrushes and worked on this Paint by Numbers Fishing Village. I really enjoyed painting it and in terms of buying craft supplies it was a bargain at only £5 from Hobbycraft. It inspired me to take up painting again, something that I spent a lot of time working on during the first lockdown as I completed my 100 Day Project.

Painting by Numbers Fishing Village from Hobbycraft

During March I tackled this Circular weaving project which I had started a couple of times and given up. I found it difficult attaching the warp threads to the circular ring and keeping them all lined up so that I could weave properly. I enjoy the process of weaving but next time I'll stick with a square or rectangle! But I persevered and I was happy with the result, I particularly like the fluffy trees and the patch of sea that I added in a change in the design from the original kit.

Circular weaving project completed

A bit early perhaps, but I started my Christmas crafting in April with this Mini Christmas cross stitch. I bought this in Hobbycraft a few years ago as part of a 3 for 2 promotion, and gave the other two kits to my friends. It was a very simple project to stitch and didn't take too long, and I finished it off with a simple border before mounting it on some green felt and framing it. It has spent the Christmas period on display on the mantlepiece.

Mini Christmas wreath cross stitch

I was very excited for May craft, this Van Gogh diamond painting which I bought on holiday in Florida last year (it's also available in Hobbycraft). I love diamond painting, such a simple and relaxing craft. This piece is very big and was really enjoyable to work on. I bought a frame for it and is now on display in the kitchen where I can see it as I cook dinner.

Van Gogh Starry Night diamond painting kit complete

In June it was back to Christmas crafting with these Christmas felt kits that I received to review a little while back. Two very sweet and simple decorations which graced our Christmas tree this year.

Christmas crafting felt kits, polar bear and stocking

For July I dug out all the bits and pieces that I had collected for my Smash book and had lots of fun sticking them into place. Now it's a fun book filled with colour and memories.

Double spread Smash Book page

August saw me finishing off some Decopatch projects that had been lying around for too long. I replaced the glue that I'd finished and made this large J among other things. 


In September I turned to my Cross stitch map. I knew that this wasn't a project that I could finish during the month, so I concentrated on filling up a bit more of the space. I'm pleased with how this project is going as it's something that I've made up myself rather than following a kit, but I find it quite difficult to do. Both physically because the fabric is very stiff and can't be held easily, and creatively because I need to come up with the designs myself. So it's a very long term work in progress but I'm pleased with how it's coming along.

Cross stitch travel map in progress

Then as the year began to draw to a close I realised that I didn't really have any more projects lying around that I wanted to complete, instead I wanted to concentrate my crafting on something that I could work on without feeling any pressure. So I opened up the cross stitch kit that I'd had lying around for a couple of years and was desperate to start. It's called the Olde World Map and I really love the design. I've made a good start, and hopefully this project will be keeping me company for the next couple of years or so.

Olde World Map cross stitch project beginning

So that was my year in unfinished projects, and I'm really proud of how well I got on. And I have a few more crafty ideas lined up for the year ahead, now that I've cleared some space in my crafting cupboard!

Monday, 28 December 2020

The good things that happened this year thanks to Covid-19

It has been a strange old year hasn't it? Who could have imagined a year ago how much all our plans for 2020 would change.

Soon we'll be saying goodbye to 2020 and hoping for a much brighter year to come. But while I'm in a reflective mood I thought I'd take a positive look back at some of the things that have happened to me this year thanks to Covid-19. 

Spending more time together as a family

This has to be number one, as it really is the best thing to have come out of this year. Although I admit I do often find it overwhelming having everyone at home, all of the time, it really has been lovely and I think we've all benefited from time spent together. In the summer we went out walking and exploring in the local area and this winter we've been watching films, playing games and reading together.

Children standing on a beach at 2m distance

Exploring new parts of the UK

We had three big holidays booked for 2020, and although we were hoping that at least one of them might be salvaged, in the end we had to accept that it wasn't to be. But we were lucky enough to instead enjoy three lovely holidays in the UK. We spent a week in Westward Ho!, in Hunstanton and in Torquay, each time in self-catered accommodation and in our family bubble. 

Each holiday was a wonderful break. Even though we didn't get out to any of the usual tourist attractions and we mainly went for walks or chilled out in our accommodation it was still fantastic to visit some different parts of the country and spend time exploring and relaxing as a family. 

Making time for new hobbies

I was really pleased to complete a 100 Day Project this spring. Although it was one of my goals for 2020, I honestly don't think I would have done it if I hadn't found myself at home for a long period without any interruptions. At a time when my anxiety levels were super high it really helped me to set aside half an hour or so each day to play around with paints.

Simple watercolour beach scene painting

Spending time in the garden

We spent so much time in the garden this year, far more than we would have normally. Working on the vegetable patch, sitting on a garden chair with a cup of tea and watching Mia playing, having discovered a new found love for our swing set. We enjoyed eating pizzas from our pizza oven, regular barbecues, and we spent time outdoors with friends and family when it was allowed. On the few hot evenings in August which coincided with the Perseid meteor shower we lay out on a blow up mattress and gazed up at the stars.

Decorating and improving the house

When it became obvious that Ram was going to be working from home for the foreseeable future we made the decision to turn one of our upstairs rooms into an office. We bought the desk almost as soon as the first lockdown started, but it wasn't until later in the year that we gave the room a proper clear out and decorated it. The bright pink walls that we inherited from the former owner were replaced by a calming cream and white colour scheme and it's now a pleasant and relaxing place for him to work. At the same time we also decorated our dining room, replacing dark red with the same cream, and it has really opened up the room and made the whole of the downstairs much brighter.

We evaluated the storage in some of the bedrooms and found it lacking, so we bought new drawer units from Ikea which have made a big difference to the tidiness level of the rooms.

Watching theatre from home

I was so excited to have tickets for Hamilton in July, having only started listening to the musical at the beginning of the year. Of course that didn't happen, but my disappointment was somewhat assuaged by the fact that I can now watch the original cast perform on Disney + as often as I like. Over the summer I watched several plays streamed by the National Theatre, including Small Island, Frankenstein and Coriolanus, which I enjoyed very much. 

No more supermarket trips

We used to do a weekly big shop as well as several top up shops during the week. No more! Now we have a regular Tesco delivery, we are organised with what we buy, and when we rarely run out of something we pop to the local Co-op in the village. I've only been to the supermarket when I've needed things that can't be bought online, like school uniform and shoes over the summer that needed to be tried on or at least held up against a child. 

Lots of time reading

I have always used the library fairly regularly, but since the summer I've been in the routine of visiting our local library most weeks. I'm loving the fact that I can reserve books for free, and when it has been open I've been stocking up on big piles of books to keep me going through the weeks when it has had to close for browsing. This year I've read an enormous amount of books, and I want to keep that going. 

Large pile of Christmas books under the Christmas tree

No illness

Luckily none of us have tested positive for Covid. However Ram was very ill in late February with all the Covid symptoms, and both children had symptoms when their school closed in March, with Mia having been sat next to a suspected case. 

I always seem to be ill with a bad cold at Christmas and I never get the full enjoyment from our Christmas dinner and assorted snacks. However I can't even remember the last time I had a cold - I think it may well have been Christmas last year - and although the children both caught a bit of a sniffle when they went back to school in September I have been illness free all year.

I'd love to hear about the positive things that have come out of this year for you!

Monday, 21 December 2020

This year's gingerbread houses

Every year I make a gingerbread house for the children to decorate. Last year I even made gingerbread houses for my friends and I to decorate one evening, in what I hoped might become a yearly tradition. But this year I just wasn't feeling the inspiration to make one and so I kept quiet, until Mia asked me when we would be making them. And I'm so glad that she encouraged me because it would be a shame to break the tradition, and I really enjoyed making them with the children.

I use an old Tesco recipe to make the gingerbread, which I have printed out and can't find it online anymore so I had better keep hold of it! I make the gingerbread pieces the day before so that they have time to harden, and I bought some gingerbread house biscuit cutters in the US last year which makes it easier when cutting out the pieces.

So here are this year's efforts!

Two children holding gingerbread houses

Yes, they are still in their pyjamas. Well it is 2020! I did decide not to incorporate any 2020 themes into the houses though, so we don't have any neatly piped facemasks or coronavirus shaped motifs. 

Close up of two gingerbread houses

Now I just need to persuade the children to share them with me!

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Simple Cricut Mini craft - Washi tape gift tags

I was recently lucky enough to receive a fabulous Cricut Mini to review. While I'm getting to know the machine I've been making a few little projects, and I'm sharing my very first one here. I recently discovered washi tape, and I've been using for a few little crafty makes. These little gift tags are made with washi tape on card stock and cut out using the Cricut. Of course, if you don't have a Cricut, you can just cut them out by hand.

Washi tape gift tags made using the Cricut Mini

Watch my how to video for a full demonstration and to see the Cricut Mini in action:


The gift tags are very simple to make up. Take a sheet of light cardstock and run a few strips of washi tape across the top. Make sure to stick it down firmly. Lay it down on the cutting mat and open up the Cricut Craft room software on the PC.

Washi tape gift tags made using the Cricut Mini

For the gift tag template I used a shape that came free with the Cricut Mini. It's from the Something to Celebrate cartridge. Under the D├ęcor tab, it's called HvngPrty. I enlarged it slightly, then copied and pasted it across the screen to make three tags. The layout on your screen corresponds exactly to the cutting mat that you are using so you can work out where to position your shapes.

Washi tape gift tags made using the Cricut Mini

I used the setting for medium card stock which worked fine and the shapes were cut beautifully.

Washi tape gift tags made using the Cricut Mini

Once the card stock is removed from the machines, peel it away and reveal your lovely gift tags! I added some ribbon through the top. The space at the bottom is perfect for adding the name of the recipient.

Washi tape gift tags made using the Cricut Mini

If you have a Cricut or similar cutting machine there are many different craft projects that they can be used for. If you are looking for downloadable SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic) files that you can use for all sorts of crafts like bags, shirts and mugs, have a look here for some options - Design Bundles SVGs.

Thursday, 10 December 2020

What I've been up to lately

This post contains Amazon affiliate links in case you are interested in finding out more about any of the things I mention!

I haven't blogged for ages!

I've been quite busy with some transcription work that I do for a home working company but that's no excuse, I've also found plenty of time for doom scrolling on Twitter. The truth is that it feels as though we haven't done anything very exciting over the last few months and I've lost a bit of my blogging motivation. But I've missed writing here, and so I thought I'd come back with a little post about all the the things that have been keeping my busy and entertained lately.

Watching 


We've enjoyed watching a few of our favourite television series which have returned. We watch The Mandalorian together and it's pretty entertaining even though every episode is basically the same plot. Ram and I binge watched The Crown which we also enjoyed very much although I would have liked to have seen more of the Queen. I love all the domestic scenes where they sit around lunching, drinking tea and playing parlour games. Finally we are all enjoying the latest episodes of His Dark Materials. I'm quite familiar with the books and I'm loving how the writers have added extra material which expands the world and the characters, like when Mrs Coulter sees how her life could have been different in an alternative world.

Reading


I have been reading so much lately! I go to the library once every week or so and return with a bulging bag filled with books. There are too many to list so I'll just share a few that I've given five stars to on Goodreads recently (affiliate links):

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach - I wasn't sure about this one when I picked it up but I really enjoyed it!

Spirited by Julie Cohen

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke - came highly recommended by my sister, I must confess that it's a bit of a strange read but it's very compelling!

House of Glass by Susan Fletcher

Mudlarking by Lara Maiklem - last but not least, a non-fiction book about the discoveries that can be made along the shores of the Thames. A fascinating read, also packed with lots of tales of London history.

I've just realised that half of the above books are historical novels about women experiencing mysterious happenings, that must be a genre that particularly appeals to me. Now I've just been to the library and stocked up on a nice new pile of books, including some lovely, festive reading!

Pile of festive books under the Christmas tree

Playing


We are all still playing Animal Crossing, and I set aside at least half an hour every day to catch up with my island, harvest my pumpkins (it's a great way to make easy money if you are a player yourself!) and chat to my villager friends.

Out and about


Obviously not much of that lately. But I did have an exciting day this week. Harry's piano exam in Worthing was cancelled at the last minute last month, but we managed to rebook at a centre in Brighton. The two of us went over on the train (our first time on a train since February) and although we didn't stop there for long, as he had to get back to school, it did feel like an exciting outing! He was quite positive about the exam, so fingers crossed we won't have long to wait for the results. 

Crafting


I set myself a challenge this year to complete an unfinished craft project each month, although I came a stop when I realised that I'd completed everything. So last week I pulled out a brand new cross stitch that I've had in my stash for a little while now and have been looking forward to starting. The Olde World Map (affiliate link) is a nice big piece with lots of lovely detail that should keep me busy for a while!

Olde World Map cross stitch project in progress

Celebrating


So it's nearly Christmas, and like the rest of the world it's a bit of a different one this year.
 
Last week we had a pre-Christmas meet up with other family members in a local playground. We stood in the rain huddled under umbrellas drinking hot drinks from our Thermos and swapping bags of Christmas presents. We aren't forming a bubble for Christmas so it will just be the four of us together for the three week school holiday. We have booked a few days away, and then we'll be hunkering down with the chocolate biscuits and the gin.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Waves on the beach

We've not been up to much at all lately. We had just started getting back into the gym and taking the children swimming, but of course it has closed again now. We have our shopping delivered, we've not been socialising with others, so apart from taking the children to school and back, along with some exercise, we haven't left the house. 

I'm really glad that the children are able to go to school, it's definitely needed for both their education and their mental health. They had to miss a few days before half-term because we had to isolate for a few days while awaiting a test result after Harry developed a temperature, but both schools have remained open so far with no problems.

Last week I was really hoping that Harry would be able to sit his long delayed piano exam. Unfortunately it was cancelled at the very last minute. It was due to be held in a church and I assume they weren't allowed to host it. We have him rebooked next month at a different, not very local, venue but I'm not convinced it will actually go ahead - fingers tightly crossed!

I mentioned leaving the house for exercise - this is one habit that I started when the children went back to school in September and I've successfully continued. I have designated Monday, Wednesday and Friday as exercise days. I usually go out for a run in the streets around my house, and I aim to run at least 5 kilometres, but usually between 6 and 7. It's a distance that I can now run quite comfortably, it's enough to feel like a good workout but not so challenging that I struggle and avoid it. If the weather isn't looking great I've been doing a Joe Wicks workout on YouTube - they are definitely not for the fainthearted, they are very tough and they leave me struggling to walk the next day!

Waves on the beach in Worthing

I'm lucky that my husband usually drops the children off at school in the morning. But when I do find myself on the morning school run I've been parking up on the seafront and going for a run along the promenade. It's a lovely clear run with plenty of space, a nice view, and when I've finished I can have a little sit on the pebbles and watch the waves which I find very calming. 

Like everyone, it's difficult to make plans at the moment without knowing what will be happening over the next few weeks. We have a short break booked just before Christmas and then we are planning for a Christmas at home just the four of us. This weekend we'll be putting up the Christmas decorations, I think we are definitely ready for something sparkly to cheer us all up a bit as the dark evenings draw in!

Monday, 9 November 2020

Beachcombing

This post contains an Amazon affiliate link.

I'm very lucky in that as well as living close to the sea I've also had the opportunity to visit and spend time on beaches across the world. I love how each beach is different, and as soon as you step onto the sand or the pebbles you are face to face with the unique features of that part of the coast. For example, on my local beaches near Worthing you can hardly move for mermaid's purses (egg cases for sharks and skates) and cuttlefish, but it's unusual to find an intact shell more interesting than the slipper limpet. In contrast, on our recent holiday to Hunstanton the beaches were thick with razor shells, which I've never seen down here. 

I particularly love to find sea glass, but I've found that beaches either have it or they don't - Barcelona beach was a particular hot spot, perhaps because it's in the middle of the city, as well as beaches on the Isle of Wight. I'm also desperate to find some sea pottery, but I've had no luck yet!

Pebbles and stones on a sandy beach with waves coming in
 
Despite spending a lot of time hunting for treasures I feel that I'm not very good at it, perhaps I'm still developing my eye. I'd love to find a fossil, or even some interesting things like on the Lego beaches in Cornwall. Luckily I don't tend to see much rubbish washed up by the sea. 

I'm a bit squeamish when it comes to finding parts of dead crab, although I was relieved to read recently (see my book recommendation below) that they are more likely to be crab moults rather than actual dead crabs. We did pick up this interesting 'skull' which was later identified by my wildlife expert friend as a herring gull pelvis. 

Child holding a skeleton piece found on the beach

I think that most people, even those that don't live by the sea, have some kind of receptacle in their home where they keep shells and stones that they've collected. I have several vases and bowls scattered throughout the house with no kind of order to them. One day I'll get around to doing something crafty with everything! Here is just a small selection of my Hunstanton bits and pieces, I found such a lovely variety.

Collection of shells and stones found while beachcombing

When we got back from holiday I bought this brilliant book - Beachcombing and the Strandline (affiliate link) - which is an excellent read if you are interested in the things that wash up on beaches. It doesn't just cover the things that should be there like shells and seaweed, it also helps you to identify pieces of beach rubbish like security seals and tags from the fishing industry and pieces of lobster and crab traps. Although it's focussed on British beaches there's also a section on the more exotic finds from around the world that occasionally wash up, and it also has information on common marine wildlife. 

Beachcombing book and shells on display in a large wine glass

Now I'm all inspired to jump in the car and head down to the beach again!

 

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

A short break away to Norfolk

It's fair to say that this year didn't go quite as planned when it came to global travel. We have had three big holidays cancelled this year, and have nothing booked for next year which is unheard of for us. We've been lucky though, we managed to get away at the beginning of July for a lovely last minute week in Westward Ho! and we've just returned from a week in a bungalow on the Norfolk coast. 

Our trip to Norfolk wasn't quite the one that we had planned. It was intended to be a joint holiday, with extended family members staying in accommodation nearby. Unfortunately due to tier restrictions and isolation requirements the rest of the family had to cancel, so just the four of us went. But even if we had all been able to make it, with the rule of six in effect we wouldn't have been able to spend time together anyway. 

Old Hunstanton beach at sunset

We stayed in a lovely little bungalow in Old Hunstanton, just a few minutes walk from the beach. We do live quite close to the sea but I love visiting different parts of the coastline, especially when you can walk easily from where you are staying. The weather wasn't that great but we were able to get out for a walk on the beach every day, and several days I took myself out late afternoon to watch the sunset. I love wandering slowly by the edge of the sea searching for shells and pretty stones.

Sandringham Estate playground swing

We didn't venture out very much as we are wary of crowded places, so we spent most of our time going for local walks and relaxing in the bungalow. I read a book almost every day and also worked on my cross stitch, the children played on their iPads and we watched some films together. I even managed to get out for a couple of runs along the promenade. One morning we drove out to the Sandringham Estate, the house and gardens were closed but we went for a walk in the grounds and the children enjoyed the playground.

It was a really lovely spot for a holiday, and although not what we had planned we had a lovely week away. It was wonderful to have a change of scenery and spend time together.

Old Hunstanton beach huts

Monday, 2 November 2020

Scandi inspired Christmas crafts using Hama beads

Scandi inspired Hama bead Christmas crafts

I love the red and white Scandi style at Christmas, so simple yet you can create so many different variations on a theme. Regular readers of the blog will know how much I enjoy crafting with Hama beads, and over the last couple of years I've designed several different Hama bead Christmas crafts with a Scandi feel, using red and white beads. I've rounded them all up here in case you are looking to update your decor this Christmas!


Scandi inspired Hama bead mat

I use this mat for my daily hot chocolate at Christmas time. It's made with a simple Hama bead red and white striped base, then I used red and white embroidery thread to mark out some different designs. The holes in the Hama bead design are perfect for trying out some cross stitch and other simple stitches, and I love the contrast in textures and colours. The mat is perfect for both hot and cold drinks.

Scandi inspired Hama bead red and white mat

Scandi inspired Christmas baubles using Hama beads

These Hama bead baubles are really easy to make, and although I've provided some patterns in my post you can create a huge number of variations. They are designed to have a ribbon tied around the top and then they can be hung from the Christmas tree, or you could string them to create some Scandi Christmas bunting for the mantlepiece.

Hama bead baubles with Scandi inspiration and free pattern

Hama bead Scandi inspired battery tea light holders

Note - these Hama bead candle holders are designed for battery tea lights only - it would be very dangerous to use them with real candles!

This simple wrap design is a perfect way to add a bit of interest to your battery tea lights and they look so pretty with the light shining through the holes created by the Hama bead design. Again, there are so many options for different patterns and designs.

Scandi themed Hama bead Christmas battery candle wraps

If you enjoyed these Scandi themed crafts using Hama beads then you might also like some of my other Hama bead Christmas crafts. You can find a full round up here - Hama bead Christmas crafts.

Hama bead Christmas crafts collection for children

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Things to fill a wooden Advent calendar this Christmas

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Ideas for filling a wooden Advent calendar

A few months after I started blogging I wrote a blog post full of ideas for things to fill a wooden Advent calendar. At that time, the idea of giving a small gift for each day leading up to Christmas was quite new and children usually just had a picture or chocolate Advent calendar. In the last few years things have really taken off in the world of Advent calendars, especially when it comes to Advent calendars for adults, and so I thought I'd write an updated version of my post with some new ideas and links to products that might be useful if you are looking for inspiration for how to fill those wooden boxes.

 All Amazon links are affiliate links. This makes no difference to you as a buyer, but I earn a small amount from a purchase made through this link.

My own wooden Advent calendar is one that I decorated myself from Hobbycraft. You can see how I did it here - Decorating a Hobbycraft wooden Advent calendar. It has a small box for each day of December, and the boxes are a good size for filling with small treats.

Wooden Advent calendar decorated from Hobbycraft

There are lots of different styles of wooden Advent calendar available and I've shared a few below. A little tip, the ones shaped like a tall Christmas tree like I have can be a little unstable. If you are buying one for a younger child I'd look for the more squat versions, like the house or the train, that won't be knocked over easily.



Collectable toys


A few years ago we bought a big pack of mixed Pokemon figures. We had enough Pokemon to fill two Advent calendars with plenty left over which we used as party bag favours for years, and the children still play with them. It was perfect because we only needed to buy one bag, and it had enough variety to make each day interesting. It's easy to find big packs of small toys like this on a variety of themes. Just check the delivery dates as some of these are shipped from China and so can take a little while to arrive, order in plenty of time.



Other small toys


There are lots of other small toys that can be bought in bulk. If you don't want too much repetition in the gifts, you could always get together with a friend or two and swap, so that each child receives an assortment of gifts. And there are some toys, like cars, that it seems children can never have too many of!



Stationery


Children love collecting erasers, and there are some really pretty ones available which come in a range of different designs so they won't be too similar each day. You could also think about mini gel pens or highlighters, tiny decorated adhesive note blocks, little notebooks, decorative paper clips or magnetic clips, magnets or keyrings.



Beauty items and jewellery


Look for multi-packs of things like mini nail varnish or lip gloss. I also love the range of tiny Christmas charms that you can buy. You could make the first gift a bracelet, with a new charm to be added each day ready for this Christmas and then to be re-used every year.



Christmas decorations


Christmas decorations make a lovely Advent gift that can be re-used from year to year. I particularly like the blank wooden decorations which the child can decorate as a Christmas activity like the ones that I made here - Decorated wooden Christmas ornaments.



Sweets and chocolates


Probably the most economical way to fill a wooden Advent calendar is with chocolates and sweets. In the supermarkets at Christmas you can easily find net bags of individually foil wrapped chocolates or chocolate coins. I personally love Lindor chocolate balls from Lindt, and would be very happy to receive one of those each day. You could also include mini bags of sweets like Haribo or packs of Love Hearts, treat size chocolate bars or individually wrapped chocolates from a Christmas chocolates tub.

Net bag of Christmas chocolates

Christmas activities


Finally, a free way to fill your Advent calendar is to include a family Christmas activity to do each day. They can be as simple or elaborate as you like, for example doing some Christmas baking, a visit to Santa, a trip out in the car to see some decorated houses in your neighbourhood or writing the Christmas cards.

If you need some inspiration here are some great lists to get you started:

30 fun Advent calendar activities
The ultimate Advent activity list

Other ideas


You could also buy one larger toy, like a Lego set, and include a few pieces each day. This would be a much cheaper alternative to a Lego or Playmobil advent calendar! Another idea is a jigsaw - you could first make the jigsaw yourself and then break it up with the pieces for each row in a separate box. Then the jigsaw will build up over Advent to reveal a festive picture.


Filling a wooden Advent calendar for adults


As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, Advent calendars for adults have become very popular over the last few years. There are many different pre-filled ones available, but although some can represent good value, when it comes to the contents they can work out very expensive.

Many of the gifts above would also be perfect for adults, but some additional ideas you might want to consider could be:

Miniature alcoholic bottles (or even full size ones!), nail varnish, make up, bath bombs, pens and pencils, keyrings, Christmas decorations, jewellery or stationery.

I hope I've given you plenty of ideas - have fun filling up those Advent calendars!

Monday, 12 October 2020

Free cross stitch patterns - Simple small Halloween designs

Today I'm sharing some very simple Halloween pixal art designs that would be perfect for Halloween themed cross stitch samplers or Hama bead projects. Because I designed these patterns originally for Hama beads I've added some pictures so that you can see what they look like made up with both midi and mini Hama beads. I'm planning to use some of them for my cross stitch map, as we have often found ourselves celebrating Halloween while on our travels around the world!

This first set of designs are very small and simple, using just a few colours. I have a cross stitch witch's hat, a skull, witch's face and tiny pumpkin.

Mini cross stitch Halloween designs

These simple designs were used to make these Hama bead Halloween napkin rings, a lovely seasonal decoration for a Halloween themed dinner table. 

Hama bead Halloween themed napkin rings

This next set of Halloween pixel designs are slightly larger. There's a pumpkin, a ghost, skull and witch's hat. 

Halloween free mini cross stitch designs simple

I used these designs to make some Mini Hama bead Halloween pin badges for some spooky Halloween party accessories. 

Mini Hama bead Halloween designs

Finally I designed these simple Halloween sugar skull patterns. The basic pattern can be changed to fit the colours that you have available or that fit your theme. You can use both pastel and bolder colours, and choose contrasting or complementary colours. There are all sorts of ways that it can be adapted!

Free Sugar Skull simple cross stitch design

I used this design to make some larger Hama bead Sugar Skull bunting and I used the midi Hama beads to make tiny Mini Hama bead Sugar Skull earrings.

Hama bead Halloween Sugar Skull designs

I hope that you like these Halloween themed designs! If you make something using them I'd love to see it! 

If you like Halloween style pixel art, you might also like to see some of my other Hama bead crafts for Halloween

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