envelopesJK

Hello everyone!

Christmas is around the corner!  And nothing is more exciting than counting down the days for Christmas with an Advent Calendar right?

Keeping the tradition  I crafted a new one this year too, for something unique, special and interesting :). 

Well, at a first glance, it looks complicated and without much resemblance to an Advent Calendar…

The idea started from those socks I made a couple of years ago (to refresh your memory: each day my daughters would find a paper with an image inside the mini socks showing where I placed the small gift-of-the-day). My oldest daughter is a a first grader now and husband suggested I could make some type of riddle for each day, to practice her reading and calculating skills (yea, we are such nerds…).

So how to do that in a sane way? Inventing a game of course! More like a letter puzzle (hangman anyone?).

joulupostilaatikko1

 

2012 Advent Calendar – Letter Puzzle game 

  • Each day my girls will receive one envelope (numbered from 1 to 24) containing a card with a question and a letter-sticker. Simple math problems or matching games to practice letters and words. I added couple of “easy” ones for my 5 yo daughter too. 

    “How many (snowflakes)?”

    question1JK

     

    “Is the image a : skier, skater or runner?”

    questionJKhiihtaja

     

    “How many syllables are in the word snowman?”

    questionJK

     

  • Solving the question of the day will show them where to glue the sticker-letter in the puzzle display board. By completing the diagram they will be capable to read the “mysterious sentence” : The present (the Advent Calendar big gift) is hidden at grandpa´s place (written in Finnish conveniently using 24 elements :)

    joulukalenteri12

     

  • We thought that getting a “big” gift instead of little small things each day is as well fun. Besides, a “pre” Christmas present is not that bad (stand the wait for Santa!!)  and everyone can enjoy it together. The gift is a board game to be played on Christmas Eve ^_^. 

  • And! To deliver the envelopes, a Christmas mailbox I crafted using an empty cereal box and red card stock. Awesome isn´t it? The front door is attached with magnets (Oh…  I am so happy with the result!). Maybe my daughters will find some treats there too… who knows? ;)
joulupostilaatikko

For now, fingers crossed the girls will enjoy this year´s Advent Calendar. Poor little ones to have such mad mad loony mother … >.<

Happy December friends! 

 

PS. Isn’t that polka dot fabric tape the cutest? ha!

 

This post was written by karaimame exclusively for Acquiring Taste. All writing, images and other materials in this blog remain the property of Acquiring Taste and cannot be used without permission.

2011 Advent Calendar - 2011 Joulukalenteri

December tomorrow!

Tell me what that means… Christmas is coming! Am I stressed? Nah…

This time I decided to take it easier… too much happened during the second half of the year, end of it should be more relaxing… (< did you just giggle there? I mean, I think I saw you smiling at least :)

Eh

As I told before, I invented this tradition to make a homemade Advent Calendar every year. After many rejected ideas (the most from my husband I must say :P) I decided for this Christmas Wreath, not as superb as the previous calendars, yet hopefully good enough to celebrate each day of the month and the most important: to get my girls excited about the upcoming holiday :)

I really considered skipping the tradition this year. I changed my mind when the other day, while browsing for ready chocolate-filled Advent Calendars at a shop, I was asked by my daughters if I was going make one for them… “because they still remember how the last year´s was”… *swoon* I melted.

2011 Advent Calendar - 2011 Joulukalenteri

2011 Advent Calendar – Christmas Wreath

Keeping in mind “it must be easy and fun”, this no-frills calendar was quite quick to assemble. I used a silver vine wreath (from a craft shop), “goodies” wrapped with red crêpe paper, wires and embellishments.

Brilliant right?! :D

I diminish the amount of treats they will receive each day considerably. Pretty much into a no-waste/keepsake style, using a 250 pieces puzzle for the filling (and plus! I can keep the wreath afterwards! Yay!). My girls love puzzles (we recently built a 1000 pieces puzzle together) and I thought it will be thrilling for them to build the puzzle during the countdown, not actually knowing what the final image is. Once I used the same idea with small Lego kits (Technic and Star Wars) and the results were quite funny and interesting!

How I made it:

  • Dealing with the treats: after cutting the colored paper into 24 large squares, I put about 10 puzzle pieces in each, wrapping to form a ball, twisting the ends. Note!!! Sharp pieces and crêpe paper are a no-no combo… I totally recommend to use gifts that won’t rip the paper :P. Perhaps a cool option would be to use that sort of metallic plastic wrapping paper, if you have it on hands (I didn’t)
  • Now the hard work. Using a craft wire (0.3mm), which I found to be more controllable than thread, I tied the little packages to the wreath, firmly so they stay on place. Be careful to hide the wire ends when done with the attaching.
  • Finishing it: I decorated with small polka dots jingle bells, sparkling snow flake stickers, ribbons and a red bell. At very last, I added the numbers on each paper-ball.
  • Done!!

I think it will be very easy just to pull apart the little packages from the wreath during the countdown… let´s see! ;)

Happy December friends!

This post was written by karaimame exclusively for Acquiring Taste. All writing, images and other materials in this blog remain the property of Acquiring Taste and cannot be used without permission.

Finger puppets - Christmas gifts

Hello everyone!

New Year, new post! Yay!

I will start this year by sharing what I’ve crafted for the girls as their Christmas gifts ^_^. I think it was a bit mad project once I decided to make it at the last responsible moment. Yep, the idea was in my mind for long but I only started making it couple of days before Christmas (ahahaha, didn’t I tell you I am _that_ type of lazy person?)

Hubs and I bought a very nice Finnish Animals Stories book and … I wanted to make finger puppets from the main characters (the brown bear and the fox) to be given together with it. I also crafted some other characters, inspired by books we had already. Girls could use the tales they’ve heard previously in addition to the new ones (or invent their own ^_^)

Introducing my finger puppets, I made a short comic page from three stories. :)

…And how the bear lost its tail

Original title of the story “Karhun kalanpyynti” (The bear went fishing) – from the book “Suomen Lasten Eläinsadut” (Finnish Children´s Animal stories).

 

Waking up from its winter sleep, the bear came by a fox eating some fishes. The hungry bear asked:

- Oh wow, you have plenty of fish! I can eat some of yours if you don’t mind! Where did you get them?

The fox, annoyed by the fact the bear was big and afraid it would eat all the fishes quickly answered:

- I went fishing in the farmer´s ice hole (avanto in Finnish). I used my tail as fishing equipment and because the sky was so clear and full of stars, the fishes were enough hungry they just bit my beautiful tail fur and in the morning, I had fishes all over it!

The bear believed in the story (it still had a long tail) and headed to the ice hole on the frozen lake. He sat by the hole and put his tail in it, according to what the fox instructed.The sky was all clear and the cold weather, very severe.

After a while, the bear felt some pinching in its tail. The surface of the hole was getting all frozen but the bear was happy believing it was the fishes grabbing his tail.

In the morning, the deceiving fox went to sneak a look at the bear sitting on the lake. “Yes, he is stuck!” and rushed to the farmer´s house screaming “There´s a bear messing your ice hole, ohoi! A bear is messing your ice hole!”

Meanwhile, the bear was getting bored about sitting on the lake. He tried to move the tail but it was so numb it felt very heavy. “I must sit a bit more, my catch is indeed big!”

Suddenly some huge noise could be heard from the lake shore. The farmer and his family, carrying huge sticks started to beat the bear out from their avanto. The bear tried hard to pull itself free, so hard its tail snapped and remained in the frozen ice hole. The terrified bear ran to the forest but his tail stayed behind.

Since then, the bear doesn’t have tail at all ^_^.

Finger puppets - Christmas gifts

The bear tail is attached to the bear with magnets :).

Three wishes (Kolme toivomusta)

From the book “Iloiset eläinsadut” (original book “Richard Scarry´s Animal Nursery Tales”). The original story is also known as “The Sausage nose”

 

Once upon a time there was a very poor woodcutter. He lived with his wife in a very humble cottage in the woods.

One day while working, he whined how nice it would be if he could have anything he wanted, once he had nothing at all.

A fairy, listening to that, appeared to the man and granted him three wishes.

- I make three wishes come true! But use them wisely or you end up a fool!

Happily, the man hurried home to tell the news to his wife. They couldn’t think what they could wish first so they decided to have supper and think better later.

Seeing not much to eat on the table besides soup, the man sighed “Wish we could have a big fat sausage for dinner instead”. In a blink of an eye, the sausage appeared on their dinner table.

His wife got really angry: “You foolish man! Look now! Our first wish gone because of a stupid sausage!”

The man, annoyed by all the nagging shouted “Wish that sausage was stuck to your nose!”. And the sausage got stuck to his wife´s nose and they couldn´t get it off…

“We still have one wish to make… we need to think wise”.

“There´s no thinking here! I don´t want to live with the sausage on my nose forever!”

So the man wished the sausage to be gone from his wife´s nose.

The sausage was gone, so their three wishes.

Finger puppets - Christmas gifts

The sausage is removable with the help of magnets too.

The Gingerbread Man

Because it was Christmas and my girls like this tale a lot, I made characters for this story too.

 

I think most of you know how the tale goes, if not check here. However, this version in my comics is based from the short story included in “Iloiset eläinsadut” (original book “Richard Scarry´s Animal Nursery Tales”).

In the very end, when the gingerbread man is running away from the city people, he ends up by the riverbank, where a fox offers help as a ferry to cross the river. After tricking the gingerbread “not to get wet” by getting him nearer and nearer his mouth, the gingerbread man finds himself eaten mid-stream. ^_^

Finger puppets - Christmas gifts

The girls didn’t give much attention to my present during the Christmas gift sharing but in the same night, before going to bed, they played with the finger puppets and created their “own” stories. ^_^

*Happy mom*

Finger puppets - Christmas gifts

Have a great year my friends!

Gingerbread - Piparkakkuja

Christmas is time for gingerbread cookies. These cookies are very popular during the holidays in Finland and they are very delicious.

I wrote “Finnish” style gingerbread because in my opinion the way it is made differs a bit from other recipes I’ ve seen. Also, they tend to be crisper and spicier … which I enjoy a lot ^_^.  I am not sure, but this type of gingerbread can be found in all others Scandinavian countries as well.

Besides making “normal” gingerbread with cookie cutters, the recipe yields enough dough to construct a small gingerbread house. If you really desire to use this dough to make some bigger construction, I suggest you to substitute the butter in the recipe for baking margarine or shortening. And yep, it won´t taste as good as if it would be made with butter, but it will be stronger for your gingerbread project.

Piparkakkutaikina – Gingerbread dough

slightly adapted from here

  • 200 g unsalted butter
  • 1 dl of dark syrup (molasses). 1dl equals 100ml.
  • 2 1 / 2 dl sugar. 1 dl sugar = 85g
  • 1 1 / 2 tbsp gingerbread spice mix. (It is Finnish style mixture, about : 2 tsp ginger powder, 1 tsp cloves powder, 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp pomeranssi powder. Pomeranssi is called “bitter orange” in english. If you find it difficult to get it, substitute for grated orange zest or skip it). You could also add 1 tsp cardamon, 1/8 tsp all spice and cracked pepper, but the mentioned above is the most used spice mix.
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1 / 2 tsp baking soda
  • about 9 dl wheat flour. 1dl flour = 65g

Prepare the dough in advance (at least one day before). It will allow the dough to rest and form a good structure for rolling out.  Cut the butter into pieces and place in a large saucepan. Add syrup, sugar and spices. Heat, stirring constantly. Bring to boil (but don’t burn!)

Remove from heat and let the mixture cool until lukewarm temperature. Add eggs and beat well (use a hand mixer if you prefer). It is important that the liquid is cold enough not to “cook” the eggs.

Combine the flour and baking soda in a separate bowl. Sift the dry ingredients over the syrup and egg mixture very slowly. Mix until well combined. The dough will look very soft (and weird! ^_^).

Cover dough with plastic film. Let cool and put in the fridge to rest.

To make the cookies:

Preheat oven 175 °C

Work in batches. Take a small piece of dough at a time (leave the rest in the fridge). Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to  2-3 mm thick.

Cut with cookie cutters.

Place the cookies on a baking tray with the help of a spatula. If you’re baking cookies of different sizes, try to put the same sized ones together.

Bake large pieces for 12-15 minutes and smaller cookies for 5-10 minutes (until slightly browned). They burn very easily, so it is recommendable to keep an eye on your batch.

Remove from oven and let cool on a flat surface.

Decorate the cookies when they are completely cold.

My girls decorated these ones:

Pipariukko ja piparkakkutalo. Gingebread men and small houses

In my opinion they are the best! ^_^

My notes about the recipe:

Due to ingredient differences it might be necessary to adjust the amount of flour of the recipe. The dough looks very soft just after making it but as Finnish bakers say “the dough develops a structure when it is left to rest and set”… that is true. Trust me ^_^.

This gingerbread is a very good addition when serving cheese, together with other crackers, nuts, fruits and marmalade. Leave them without icing for this purpose.

Gingerbread man and snowflakes

This might be my last post before Christmas. Writing in my own blog has been so far a very delightful experience for me. The start was slow and full of doubts but now I feel more confident on keeping this alive.

I want to thank my family and friends that have been always encouraging me, giving me support, leaving so nice comments. Without you readers, I wouldn’t have enough inspiration for anything.

Merry Christmas and hope the New Year comes with all good to you and your loved ones :).

2010 Advent Calendar - 2010 Joulukalenteri

Phew. I´ve been working in this project for almost the whole November. I managed to craft it, a little at a time in my spare time.

Making the Advent Calendar has become a tradition in my family. Before having children we didn’t care much about it, that´s true. We used to get those ready ones from the supermarket, filled with “candy-chocolate” small figures. Chocolate wasn’t that good but served for the purpose =).

I started making it by myself about 3 years ago. The first one was made with small cardboard boxes (all kinds of packing boxes), cut in same depth, wrapped with recycled/leftovers Christmas gift papers. One side was totally open, making super easy just to pop the wrapping paper and access the little goodies. To make it less boring, I assembled the little “presents” in a locomotive shape =). Aha, yep I spent couple of hours trying to figure out a good structure for the calendar. :P

The second handmade Advent Calendar wasn’t suppose to happen. I was too busy with two little girls but I decided to craft a quick one. Oldest daughter was big enough and I thought it would be nice to introduce some sort of “activity” for her during the waiting for Christmas. I made 24 little origami bells and put little gifts in 24 little paper bags. I glued one sticker inside the bell and the same sticker to one paper bag. Luonnonvoima just needed to play “find a match” with the sticker pairs.  ^_^

Last year´s Calendar was a hit. I crafted little snowmen using the papier-mâché technique. The little snowmen were basically mini “piñatas”, made of tissue paper and diluted white glue on small balloons. You can check out more detailed pictures in my Flickr set for the Snowmen.

Previous Advent Calendars

I was so lazy to start making the calendar this year! I had some ideas, but all required TOO much time to construct them. October went, November started and it was just getting on my nerves. Finally, I came up with this idea and stayed on it. ^_^

2010 Advent Calendar – Little wool socks

2010 Advent Calendar - 2010 Joulukalenteri

My girls like to play treasure hunting a lot. My little pirates just go crazy if you give them a map to find some hidden “treasure”. Luonnonvoima can draw a map for herself (including the “X” for the treasure), hide some little toy and play with Pikkusiili for a while.

Based on that, I decided to incorporate the treasure hunt to my Christmas Calendar this year. No, I am not crazy (well, not yet. Or, maybe I am :D).

The Advent Calendar consists of 24 little wool socks (I knitted them using the yarn I had at home) clipped to a thread using mini clothespins that I decorated too. I labeled each clothespin with a number, corresponding to the 24 days for Christmas.

Now, the treasure hunt part: girls will find a small note inside each little sock. Because they still don’t know how to read, instead of a word clue, I simply drew one object from our home. They will need to recognize the object and go for it. A little package with goodies will be placed where the hint sends them to.

Fun isn´t it? The disadvantage of this type of calendar is that I need to keep a list showing where I should hide the package for the day. Hehe, I can only complicate things… I really hope my girls will enjoy it!

Contents of the calendar: chocolates, candies, stickers, a puzzle (about three pieces a day), toy jewelry and hairpins. The other years: lego kits, small play dough, DIY finger puppets, magnet alphabet letters, toothbrushes, socks, candies, hairpins. I tend to put some activity everyone in the family can participate (it is specially good during these dark days here where I live).

When they get older, I will try to put a list of activities instead of objects. For example “bake gingerbread men”, “gaze at the stars”, “laugh until you belly hurts”. Those kind of things. :D

Tomorrow starts the countdown. You still have time to make an advent calendar! For reals. Grab colored papers, draw socks, cut them out. Mark an activity behind it, or use my treasure hunt idea. It is all about making the waiting for Christmas more bearable for the little ones ^_^.

2010 Advent Calendar - 2010 Joulukalenteri

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