Countdown to Christmas! DIY Christmas Advent Calendar

“Haul out the holly; Put up the tree … Fill up the stocking.  I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now.  Santa, dear, we’re in a hurry.”  I am in a hurry!  I planned on showing you how to make this charming and nostalgic Advent Calendar on the first day of December!  However, the countdown to Christmas continues and this Calendar is so easy and fun to make, you’ll be able to enjoy it for the rest of the season and psssst! …. your “kids” of all ages “from 1 to 92” will love playing catch-up when you finish making it and opening several envelopes at once! (;

Santa envelopes

Click on the following link Ella Claire Free Printable Vintage Christmas Advent Calendar for complete instructions and a free printable for making the envelopes and cards.  I love these miniature envelopes and the little pine cone sprig on the card insert.  I’m already planning other “fun” ways to use them!  The printable is free and I chose a creamy 8 1/2″ x 11″ card stock paper from Michael’s to print my envelopes and cards on.

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 This is a sample of what the envelope looks like after I cut out the pattern.  I’ve penciled in dashed lines to show you where to fold your envelopes.  Note: The vertical fold-line on both sides is where the rounded slope of the paper meets the straight cut!  The card stock paper I used was thick and I used the plastic grip of my scissors to firmly crease each fold. (Hey, I just thought of a stocking stuffer I need … a bone folder! (: ) I didn’t want to wait for my envelopes to dry so instead of using glue, I taped my envelopes together with clear Scotch tape.

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After you finish making all your envelopes, write different Christmas activities you would enjoy doing on each of the 25 cards and slip the card into a corresponding envelope. e.g. pop some popcorn and watch a Hallmark Christmas movie … make hot chocolate, top with Cool Whip, decorate with lots of sprinkles and sip with a peppermint straw! … put the kids in their pajamas and go for a drive to look at Christmas lights!   I wrote my activity on the card that wasn’t dated, so it will be easy to use the same calendar next year and I can easily re-arrange my activities. cards and envelopes snowman.png

 I also tucked a little “trinket” in each envelope. Little gifts of candy, Christmas cookie cutters and tiny ornaments for a special tiny Christmas tree for little folks!

Miss Mouse

I nailed my ribbons (needed for hanging the envelopes) to the frame of my “4 the seasons” chalkboard I love this rustic chalkboard with it’s natural cedar frame that a dear friend made for me.  I added some “chalk art” before nailing in my ribbon … with the heading “Countdown to Christmas” and a border of holly leaves.  Ella draped her calendar over a vintage ladder; you can hang your advent calendar across a mirror, on a bulletin board, or on a door in your family room.

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And … all the envelopes “were hung by the ‘chalkboard’ with care.” (;

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I set up our Advent Calendar on a little table in our screened porch where Richard and I sit and have our morning coffee.  Our Texas winter’s are so delightful, we enjoy sitting out here every season, especially since we have an electric reproduction stove with “pretend” flames for the coldest days! (;

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A little “Holly Jolly” cuteness to start the day!

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 Daisy, our little grand dog … waiting for Santa!

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You know one of my favorite decorating “tricks” is using every day objects in unusual ways.  I filled this wrought iron planter with Christmas books and a basket of poinsettias … handy, and “at the ready” beside our chairs for reading!  I think it’s a perfect book cache for our outdoor room!

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“Have a holly, jolly Christmas; It’s the best time of the year …” 

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“I don’t know if there’ll be snow but have a cup of cheer …”

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Sweet little envelopes all pinned up on a ribbon clothesline … Countdown to Christmas!

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Get your paper and printer ready, make yourself a large “cup of cheer,” put your feet up and have fun making this Advent Calendar … 

“For we need a little Christmas

Right this very minute,

Candles in the window,

Carols at the spinet.

Yes, we need a little Christmas

Right this very minute.

It hasn’t snowed a single flurry,

But Santa, dear, we’re in a hurry;

So climb down the chimney;

Put up the brightest string of lights I’ve ever seen.

Slice up the fruitcake;

It’s time we hung some tinsel on that evergreen bough …”

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As this Christmas season of busy-ness begins, my desire is to have my heart “tuned” to focus on Jesus, the reason for the season!  These words from our Choir Christmas Cantata written by Sue Smith haunt me.  “There was no room in the inn.  No room for Heaven’s amazing gift of love.  No room for the long-awaited Messiah.  No room for our only hope of salvation.  No room.  Time and again these two simple words stir our hearts, and we vow to make sure it never happens with us.” 

These words are a solemn reminder; my prayer this Christmas is … Lord, whatever I do or don’t get done during this Christmas season, let my focus be on YOU!  I want Him to know … I have a room reserved just for Him; there IS room in the Inn! ❤

“O come let us adore Him … Christ the Lord!

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“Come, let us bow down in worship. let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker …”  Psalm 95:6

From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda 

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Halloween Tablescape “Trick or Treat … Give Me Something Good to Eat!”

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Just in time for Halloween night S’more Ghost Peeps and Candy Coated Pretzel Wands are easy to make.  These festive looking treats are perfect to grab “on the go” or to serve after your Halloween dinner and they are “something good to eat!”

S’more Peeps – The best part of these adorable treats … there is  “no baking” required!  Just “gather” ingredients and put them into treat bags!

 

Ingredients & Supplies:

  • graham crackers
  • fun size Hershey bars
  • Ghost Peeps
  • favor bags (I used Wilton’s small, clear, favor bags from the baking aisle in Michael’s)
  • Halloween ribbon
  • package of blank gift tags or tag punch (I used my Recollection tag punch)
  • Halloween stamps
  • ink pad
  • standard hole punch
  • Halloween plastic rings (I bought mine from the Dollar Tree)

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Instructions:

  1.  Open gift tags or punch out gift tags, using a die-cut punch  
  2. Stamp each tag with a Halloween stamp of your choice (since I was adding spider rings to my treat bags, I stamped each tag with a picture of a spider
  3. Using a standard hole punch, punch a hole in the top of each tag
  4. Break a graham cracker sheet into 2 squares and slide both squares into a clear favor bag
  5. Place 2 fun size Hershey bars on top of the graham crackers
  6. Top Hershey bars with one Ghost Peep
  7. Tie top of bag with Halloween ribbon in a simple knot
  8. Slide tag onto ribbon and knot again
  9. Slip Halloween ring over knot

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Candy Coated Pretzel Wands

Ingredients & Supplies

  • 1 bag of Salted Pretzel rods
  • Wilton vanilla baking chips (I used bright green and purple)
  • Halloween sprinkles and nonpareils 
  • large treat bags, large enough to cover entire pretzel (I used Wilton’s large favor bags located on the baking aisle in Michael’s)
  • Halloween ribbon
  • black tulle 
  • Halloween plastic rings (I bought mine at Dollar Tree)

Directions: 

  1. Melt baking chips according to directions on package (I used a tall mug to melt my baking chips)
  2. After baking chips are melted, insert pretzel rod into candy and swirl to cover. 
  3. Place candy covered pretzel on wax paper placed on a cookie sheet 
  4. Repeat until pretzels are all covered with candy
  5. If you are only coating your pretzels with one coat of candy and one color, sprinkle the warm candy coating with decorations and nonpareils.  Do not sprinkle decorations on the pretzels that you want to coat with a 2nd layer of melted candy. (See picture below)
  6. Place cookie sheet in freezer to speed up hardening of candy
  7. If you would like a 2nd color of candy coating on your pretzel, repeat process of melting baking chips and dipping pretzel, after the first coating has hardened (10-15 minutes in freezer)
  8. Sprinkle 2nd coating of candy with sprinkles or nonpareils
  9. Cool until candy hardens.  NOTE: I placed my cookie sheet filled with pretzels into the freezer to harden.  If cooling in freezer, do not place pretzels in favor bags until coating has reached room temperature to prevent condensation from forming in favor bag!
  10. Slide candy coated pretzel into favor bag and close the opening by tying with a 7-8″ strip of black tulle and Halloween ribbon.
  11. Place Halloween ring over the knot in the ribbon

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 Ready to eat!

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It’s Halloween!!!  Time to …

“Unfurl the tablecloth, set out the plates!

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Put out the punch bowl, if tarnished, that’s great!”  It’s Halloween Night! by Trenda

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Glitzy Spider Napkin Rings add a little bling to black and white napkins covered with bats.

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Little Ghost S’mores don’t scare anyone, but they look so cute standing upright on a antique relish tray, next to a twinkly gazing ball.  Candied Pretzel Wands are tucked into a copper canister with Boo! tags, spiders, and bats …”oh my!”

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Dangling from spooky branches painted black our Treat Bags are filled and ready to be “picked” by our kids and grand kids, coming for Halloween dinner.

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Hope you have a spook-tacular Halloween with plenty of “sweets” and even sweeter moments to look back on.  

From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

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Thank you for reading my blog!  To have all my posts delivered directly to your email address, just click FOLLOW in my post above … or click on my site: cottagegreenonthelake.com

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This week I’m joining Chloe Crabtree with Celebrate & Decorate  

 

 

“The Cottage Series”…….. by Trenda

cot·tage /ˈkädij/ noun

  1. a small simple house, typically one near a lake or beach.
    • a dwelling forming part of a farm establishment, used by a worker.  “farm cottages”
synonyms: cabin, lodge, bungalow, country house, shack, chantey

Cottage decorating is an unpretentious approach of displaying collected treasures and keepsakes that have been accumulated over the years, or that have been passed down through the generations.  Each objet d’art in our home is reminiscent of our family’s lives together and reflects cherished memories.  Tucked away in kitchen cupboards, displayed on bookshelves, or in free standing vignettes, I love and display these memories in what I call … “the Cottage style.”

 Periodically, I am going to be writing posts about “the Cottage Style” with pictures of cottage decor … simple cottage recipes … how to fill cottage shelves, cache’s, and cupboards with collections and keepsakes … that I am calling “The Cottage Series.”  Let me know how you enjoy this new series!

Rustic Welcome

To display my collection of dishes and other keepsakes, Richard removed some of the doors from our kitchen cabinets.  I have a passion for cubby’s and shelves and just hearing the word “cupboard” my mind conjures up delightful visions of stacked plates, old creamers in the shape of cows or thatched roofed cottages, and folded piles of embroidered tablecloths, cup towels, and napkins edged in carefully stitched crochet!  I painted the interior of these cabinets a deep mulberry color and instantly loved the charm it added and how it made the cabinets look like a built-in hutch.

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I topped my shelves with a grape swag that reminds me of the picturesque vineyards we saw on the hills of Germany, France, Italy, and Spain (a surreal “thrill” from our years of living in Germany!) Among the thatch roof cottage dishes and under the grape clusters seemed the perfect setting for Beau and Belle with their bare feet, wide brimmed hats and a basket of  “just picked grapes” in Belle’s hands.

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The whole cupboard is filled with crystal stemware and different sets of dishes and cookware “at-the-ready” to be used or placed on the table.  Villeroy and Boch dishes are  are a special keepsake and gift from Richard when we visited the little town of Bacharach, Germany located on the Rhine River.  The dishes and cookware shown here are in the “Naif” collection and are designed by Gerard Leplau from Corsica, France.  His paintings feature charming family and village scenes and occasionally biblical motifs, like “Noah’s Ark” pictured on the top shelf.

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 Intermingled among the dishes and adding some whimsy to the cupboard are sweet little gifts given or made for me by our children.  A cherished collection of Boyd’s Bears collectibles, “Words of Wisdom for Mothers” complete with a tiny easel for display, a beloved birdhouse painted by dear little hands, and a miniature tea service.

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A mixed collection of antique thatch-house sugar bowls and creamers look right at home with my village scene dishes.  This cottage creamer is filled with a treasured collection of silver baby spoons, some still bearing sweet indentations of little teeth … and this exciting find at an antique store, one little fork embossed with the word Baby.

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On the bottom shelf are stacks of Kaiser Romantica (I even love the name!) porcelain china in the Marseilles pattern. Pink and blue flowers rim delicate scalloped plates and are sprinkled with tiny pink rosebuds.  Richard and I hand selected each piece of this china from the German Kaiser Porcelain factory, near the Czech border.  I was 9 months pregnant, with our daughter and we didn’t realize so much effort was going to be required, picking out our china. The porcelain pieces were displayed in stacks on shelves of planked wood which were propped up on cinder blocks.  We both began the treasure hunt, but after much bending and the stooping required to find the perfect pieces, I had to finally sit down.  I “passed the baton” on to Richard who finished the selection with precision and zeal!  He finished choosing all of our dishes, a service for 12 complete with all the serving pieces, a coffee and tea service with warming cache’s, a soup tureen with 12 darling soup bowls, a pedestal cake plate, a covered vegetable bowl, platters, serving trays, porcelain napkin rings, and decorative roses to place upon the table.  Every time I set the table with these dishes, I remember his endearing effort and patience while performing the task. ❤

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 An elegant coffee server with a clock is standing in  “good company” with some cabbage-leafed teapots, just the right size for tea parties.  Also, tucked under the cloche is a cherished souvenir glass in a brass stand with an emblem saying “San Francisco Cable Car.”  My father gave this keepsake to me when he came back from a business trip to California, many years ago. ❤

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Displayed in a vignette under the glow of lamplight and basking beneath the golden gleam from the picture frame is a recent “find” at a flea market that was unbelievably priced at only $1.50!!! … a set of silver antique bread and butter knives from England!  I “fell in love” with the little clasped case they came in before I even saw the price!

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From Richard’s and my research, the silver markings on these knives and their deep blue Bakelite handles helped us conclude that they were made around the 1930’s.  However, the age and silk lining of the case and silk “hinges” indicate, they may be even older.

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Hope you enjoyed seeing how I display some of my collections.  Have fun looking over your collections and thinking where you can “showcase” them to enjoy every day in the “Cottage Style” – and yes, I do have folded piles of embroidered tablecloths, cup towels, and napkins edged in carefully stitched crochet … perhaps they’ll be featured in the next “Cottage Series!” (:

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From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

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Thank you for spending some time reading my blog today!  To have all my posts delivered directly to your email address, just click on FOLLOW in the post above … or click on my site: Trenda @cottagegreenonthelake.com

This week I’ll be joining Kelly from The Essence of Home

and Courtney with French Country Cottage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden-themed tabletop caddy … hold and “plant” your silverware and napkins.  

My husband, Richard, bought this darling Verdi Green planter for me from T. J Maxx, 2 weeks ago, during the hottest part of our “Dog Days of Summer” here in East Texas.  We had 8 days in a row with temperatures in the 100’s and the heat index being anywhere from 106-109 degrees!  

The following week we were blessed with much cooler weather and a week of rain! (a cause for celebration in August, typically our hottest and driest month here in East Texas!)  I was so tickled with my new planter, I couldn’t wait for cooler temperatures, or for the rain to stop, before I filled it!  

Instead of scooping up potting soil and filling the charming pots with flowers, I “planted” my silverware and napkins in the metal pots and made the planter the focal point of my garden themed tablescape and set it atop our dining room table!

 I didn’t want the top bucket to appear top-heavy, so I filled that flower pot, with napkins.

There, under the sweet little spigot and “blooming” like flower petals, I tucked in white embroidered napkins trimmed with a simple lace corner and a single, pink flower.  

Then I “planted” a few sage green napkins to match the green of the flower pots.

In the lower bucket, I “softened” the look of the metal before adding my silverware by lining it with 2 napkins, one sage green napkin and one white embroidered napkin.  

Then I randomly placed my cutlery in a seemingly haphazard way … some handles up, some down, to create a casual, but elegant display.  

I love the embellished and intricate ends of the silverware, but I also love looking at the gleaming, shiny, blades, tines, and scoops!

A crystal vase holds additional pieces of silver to the right of the cascading flower pots and keeping with my garden theme, I placed two tiny antique books and topped them with a teeny bird and a piece of bark I found in the backyard that was covered in a lovely colored lichen that blended perfectly with the green tones of the flower pots, books, and bird.

I tried out a different look and added a little color while still maintaining the garden theme.  In lieu of the crystal vase filled with cutlery, I displayed two of my favorite bird books … “A Complete Guide to Bird Feeding” and “Beyond the Bird Feeder” both wonderful books illustrated with pictures and written by John V. Dennis. 
Which display do you like better?

To balance out the left side, I placed a silver coffee pot, a silver creamer, and adding some height, I stacked some miniature silver chargers and placed the silver sugar bowl on top. 

My garden themed tabletop, a perfect backdrop for a cool summer lunch of chicken salad croissants, cucumber salad, and deviled eggs … all served with sweet Southern tea!  (:
Hope your enjoying these last days of summer and that you are managing to beat the heat, wherever “home is” for you!  I’m anxiously awaiting to see the first violas, snapdragons, pansies and flowering kale of the season … and my favorite chrysanthemums and purple asters!

Then, I’ll transform my flowering tabletop flower pots and “dress them” to go outside for autumn! (:

Thank you for spending a part of your day with me!

From my cottage to yours ~   Trenda

Cottage Green on the Lake … “Feathering the Nest” by Trenda

Living on the lake, the scenery just beyond our window panes is always the focal point. The beautiful views outside make decorating “within” a challenge.  So, rather than compete with God’s artistry outside … I try to enhance those views by bringing the outside … in!


Thinking about the “feathering of our nest” … I took pictures of all things “birdie” throughout our home.  I wanted you to see how easy it is to incorporate items that are typically associated outside of the home … in our decor.

1) Using garden statuary  …
A cement cherub, playing a fife, looks “at home” and as angelic atop our hall tree, as he does in the garden. 


A bird, made of cement, looks quite content sitting at the base of a crystal vase, among a selection of nesting materials.


2) Using miniature birdbaths and filling them with birdseed, instead of water … 

A rustic bird stands near a crystal ice bucket and a tin bucket covered in moss … nearby, an unusual birdfeeder!


A little silver bird is perched on the edge of his nest, that’s filled with millet.  Above him is a darling cake-plate, adorned with 4 sweet birds and a collection of salt cellars. 


3) Perching teeny birds in unexpected places …
A bird dangles from a pine-flowered swag.  Clutched tightly, he holds a tiny offering of pinecones.


Sitting high above a music armoire is a little bird, just outside his antique cage … and a collection of all things “birdie.”
 4) Tucking bird nests in floral arrangements or peeking out of almost-hidden niches …

A moss-covered nest with a sprinkling of flower buds looks “sweet” in an ornate sugar bowl.


Tucked among some greenery in a silver bucket, a nest adds visual interest to a stack of plates and moss-colored napkins.

What do you enjoy collecting?  Whatever your passion is, use those items to decorate and “cozy up” your home.
I hope you have enjoyed seeing our “feathered nest” and the unexpected ways you can bring “the outside” into your home!

Home is … the perfect nest!


From my cottage to your’s! ~ Trenda