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.


 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.

chalkboard art

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!


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!


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 …”


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)



  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


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)


  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!



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!”

gazing ball

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.


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

scripture Halloween


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



This Way to the Easter Egg Hunt! Plus … DIY “Carrot Cutlery” & “Carrot” Bubble Wand

~ Trenda

collage Easter

“The stars at night are big and bright” ‘we Texans love to sing … look below the Red, Lone Star, your egg should be in sight!’  This is a clue from our Annual “Clan” Easter Egg Hunt that all of our family participates in!  Each family member is assigned a particular color of egg and gets a sheet of numbered clues directing them to where their eggs are hidden.  The eggs must be “gathered” in the same order that the clues are given.  Each “participant’s clue sheet is in different order, so everyone is running to different locations at different times and can only pick up their color of egg.  For our littlest ones, I have easier clues and pictures or numbers, marking where their eggs are!  The first one to find all their eggs, gets the grand prize and our Family Egg Trophy to take home and display until the following year.

bunny nest~Holly Pond Hill

Now, for this special Egg Hunt …. our picnic fare and ware has to be as “fun” as the occasion! (:  Look at this bunny caddy crate!  It looks darling loaded with bright green polka dotted plates, lime colored cutlery wrapped in orange napkins and tied with raffia (to look like carrots!) and tucked into this fun carrot vase, befitting any Bunny Picnic!

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For each set of “carrot” tableware … place a green spoon, a green fork, and a green knife on top of an orange paper napkin; roll up so that the cutlery “peeks” out of the top of the napkin, like carrot tops and tie a raffia bow around each set of tableware.

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A little whimsy and favor “For you!” …  Slender orange bubble wands look like a bunch carrots – especially after I added a bit of gauzy green ribbon and a lime green label to each “carrot top!”  To make my tags, I used my Recollections over-sized “punch” die-cutter (I bought mine from Michael’s) and stamped each label with the words “For You.”  A little bubble fantasy and favor for each “participant.” (:

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The Menu …

  • Grilled bratwurst
  • Potato Salad
  • Mr. McGregor’s Carrot & Celery Sticks served in a dipping cup with Ranch dressing
  • Peter Rabbit Carrot Cake Cookies w/Cream Cheese Frosting

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Our Annual Clan Easter Egg Hunt has become one of our favorite family traditions with shouts of laughter and a special camaraderie and competition between the children and the adults!  I love making up the little “sing-song” clues each year -like the sample above (; … that sends everyone scurrying all over the yard, out on the dock, and up the deck stairs looking for their eggs!  From the pictures I take while everyone is dashing about, our son makes a video of the whole event complete with music, captions and headlines for everyone which becomes another treasured volume in our set of “family times.” ❤


P. S.  I already heard that 2 of our Clan are wearing competition tee-shirts they’ve made in keeping with “the spirit of the day!” (:  I can’t wait to see them!

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I’d love to hear about some of your family traditions and hope you’re enjoying this glorious season of the year with loved ones and friends!

From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda 



DIY Easter Bunny Treat Bags


“Here comes Peter Cottontail, hoppin’ down the bunny trail and I am happily preparing for our little bunny’s that are coming to dye dozens of eggs and … all “us bunny’s” here at Cottage Green are anticipating our Family Easter Egg Treasure Hunt, complete with prizes and a trophy! (:  We have been out of town for the last 2 1/2 weeks so this week is going to be especially busy and “filled” with Easter preparations!

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These “Big-earred Bunny Bags are so cute and take just a few minutes to make!  They are reinforced paper sacks and hold lots of Easter goodies, dyed eggs, jelly beans, cupcakes, Peeps, Chicks, and sugary treats!  I bought my treat bags, pink and white gingham ribbon, tissue paper, felt hearts, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes at Michael’s.  (Tip: I used my glue gun instead of Elmer’s Glue-All to make my assembly time faster!) Plus, I also used a pair of scissors and a ruler.

Supplies needed:

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    To begin … adhere a pink felt heart in the center of each bag, for the bunny’s nose.  Position and glue 2 googly eyes above each nose.  Then, pull out two strands of shredded color paper.  Fold both shredded tissue strands in half to make 4 whiskers for each side of the bunny’s nose.  Place the 4 whiskers on one side of the heart, where they touch the “heart nose” and glue in place.  Repeat process, and glue 4 more whiskers on the other side of the heart nose.  Trim whiskers to desired length.

whiskers.pngSimple Bow instructions:

  1. Measure and cut a 12″ length of ribbon.  Glue ends together to form a loop.
  2. Gather ribbon together in the middle of the circled loop.
  3. Hold tightly with fingers and secure with a pipe cleaner and twist.
  4. Trim the two ends of the pipe cleaner near the “twist” with scissors or wire cutters for a neat presentation.
  5. Cut another length of ribbon, approximately 2″ in length.
  6. Fold ribbon in thirds, lengthwise and glue edges together.  
  7. Wrap this short length of ribbon around the pipe cleaner.  Glue it on the underneath side of your bow, making sure it covers all of the pipe cleaner. 
  8. Glue bow to the top of your Bunny Treat Bag. (Since I have both little boy and little girl “bunny’s” … I made some of my Bunny Treat Bags without hair bows!)


instructions.pngTo complete my Bunny Treat Bags I “stuffed” each bag with bunny ears made from gift wrap tissue paper.  I  cut one sheet of white tissue paper in half and formed a “bunny ear” by grasping the 1/2 sheet of tissue paper in the center.  Then, while holding the center portion of the paper in one hand, I ran my other hand up over the tissue, while grasping it lightly to make loose folds.  Then, I stuffed my “ear” into the treat bag so that the pointy ends of the tissue were sticking out to resemble a long ear.  I repeated the entire process for the 2nd bunny ear, using the other 1/2 of the tissue paper.  To form the pink “interior ears” I  used my pink or my gingham gift tissue.  Again, I cut each piece of gift tissue in half, “fluffed” my tissue and inserted into the bag, in front of the white outer ears.  Use your imagination, they do look like Easter bunny ears!(;

gift bag.png Last touch … I “stuck” one more felt heart on the back of my Bunny Treat Bag (I used the same color heart as I used for the bunny’s nose) and placed it near the bottom of the treat bag. Then I glued a little pom pom on the heart to make a fuzzy little bunny tail! (:

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Get ready for more fun and festive ideas coming this week ’cause … “hippity, hoppity Easter’s on it’s way!” (;

Today was another glorious Sunday at our church with Richard and I having the added joy of singing with our choir and presenting our Easter cantata Hope Alive In Me by Travis Cottrell.  I love every aspect of Easter!  The bunnies, the baskets, the eggs … the Cross, the Tomb, and the resurrection of Jesus … The “Hope Alive in Me!”  It’s not all about the bunny, Easter is about The Lamb.” ❤ 


Thank you for spending some time with me today!

From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda




Easy Thanksgiving favors & DIY Autumn Wreath

by Trenda


Today our first dear arrivals are coming for a much anticipated Thanksgiving week of being t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r!  I still have too many things that haven’t been crossed off of my “To do” list, but I have finished some of those special projects that I love doing from my “wanna-do” list. (:

Look at these cute little favor bags!  They were so fun and easy to put together … I made them the night before everyone arrived!  I’ve displayed them in a dear, quirky, turkey wicker basket that my husband found and bought for me at a garage sale, years ago.  Tom has been a regular at our Thanksgiving get-together’s ever-since, and he looks adorable sitting on the counter, filled with Thanksgiving paper napkins, or today … filled with little paper favor sacks.

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Each little bag is filled with a sweet mixture of tiny maple cream cookies, some maple peanut clusters, Sixlets in sparkly autumn colors I found at Cracker Barrel and some darling maple leaf-shaped chocolates that Richard found for me at World Market … all in the “flavors of autumn!”

Materials and supplies needed: treat sacks, stamps, ink pad, twine, table confetti, scissors, hole punch, and ruler



  1. Fill bags with treats before decorating.  Begin by folding over the top of each bag (I bought my treat sacks at Hobby Lobby – $2.49 for 24 count) At the top of each bag, on the folded area, I stamped For You and beneath it I used a Thanksgiving stamp with the words Give Thanks, Gratitude, Blessed, Hayride, Family, Tradition, etc. …  on it.
  2. I punched 2 holes in/and through the folded layer at the top of the bag, with a hole puncher.
  3. For each bag, I cut off 2 1/2 feet of twine (I bought my twine at Michael’s, on sale for only 50 cents!) and “threaded” both ends of twine through the front of my bag; crossed the twine in back and pulled one piece of twine back over the top of the bag and the other twine I wrapped around the back, to meet up with the twine in front.
  4. I bought a small package of table confetti with leaves and acorns (on sale at Michael’s for $1.00) and using my hole puncher, punched a hole in the paper acorns and added those to my twine before tying the two ends of twine, into a bow.

So cute … and these sweet treats all wrapped up and tied in these miniature Kraft bags seem reminiscent of the penny candies that were sold in the old General Stores!

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DIY Autumn Wreath

Now … the instructions I promised you in my last post, on how to make the autumn wreath that I pictured hanging over our living room mirror. (click here to see)


This is my favorite spot to make my wreaths.  It’s in our kitchen over a little cookbook cubby that has a little counter for holding all my supplies and materials needed to make my wreath.  There’s also an outlet for my glue gun and the knob of the upper cabinet is the perfect height for hanging my wreath, while I work on it.  The first thing I do is to wrap a pipe cleaner through the back of my wreath, forming a loop to hang it from.  This pipe cleaner loop is also the hanger I’ll use to display my finished wreath.


Making the bow …

  1.  The first step in making a bow is to pull out the ribbon needed for the “tail” of your bow.  I always “allow” a little extra ribbon since I can trim the length of my “tails” when the bow is completed and it is much easier than having to re-make my bow!  This is not a part of the bow you will be looping and twisting.
  2.  Begin working beyond the ribbon you have extended for the “tail.”  Grasp the length of ribbon (not at the end!) and loop the ribbon over your thumb and grasp the base of the small loop in your fingers.  This will be the center of your bow (the extra ribbon for tail will extend beyond this small center loop)
  3. Make your first bow loop.  This will determine how big your bow is. The larger the loop, the larger the bow.  Gather the ribbon together at the end of the loop and hold tightly in your fingers.
    Make sure your ribbon is facing right side up if you are using a single sided ribbon like mine, with printing facing up.  I slip a pipe cleaner into my center loop at this time.  It will balance there, resting on the twisted folds of ribbon, while you continue forming the bow.   bows.png
  4. Make your second loop on the opposite side, remembering to gather and twist the ribbon together in the middle where the imprinted side is facing up.
  5. Continue making loops, alternating sides until your bow is the size you want.  Make sure you have the same amount of loops on each side.
  6. When the bow is the size you want, allow extra ribbon length for your second “tail” before you cut the ribbon.  Twist the pipe cleaner in the center of your bow tightly (I use a pair of needle-nose pliers) several times to insure that it will hold your twisted ribbon; cut off excess pipe cleaner and push down the cut ends of pipe cleaner, so they won’t scratch you.
  7. Pull loops of bow to “fluff” to desired shape.

Hot glue your bow to your wreath.img_0006

I hot glued green leaves on first, as the “base” of my  wreath, making sure I kept both sides of my wreath balanced and “equal.”


Next, I glued on my colored autumn leaves.

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Last step … I tucked in a few chrysanthemums and some grape clusters, then added my “filler.”  “Filler” is usually diminutive, compared to the rest of the arrangement, and is added to blend and unify the look of the whole wreath.  On this wreath, my “filler” is glittered orange stems and a variegated ivy.


I hope while crossing off  all your “have-to’s” … you get to enjoy some time decorating and creating some fun special “projects” while you are getting everything ready for the ones you love!


From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

Thank you so much for spending some time with me today!  I’d love to hear from you.  Please leave any questions or comments below.