November 20, 2019

DIY Gift Giving: Advent Wreaths

DIY Gift Giving: Advent Wreaths

Advent is a Latin word that means coming; during the Christmas season, many Christians recognize the four weeks prior to Christmas day as the Advent season. To mark the time, for many, they will count down the weeks of Advent by lighting a candle on an Advent wreath. For Christmas this year, I wanted to get a little creative with some of my gift-giving and decided to make Advent wreath kits that the recipients could use and enjoy throughout the season. Here's a little d.i.y. and inspiration should you like to make them yourself and give to your loved ones too! To learn more about Advent and what each week celebrates, check out this website here!


Each advent wreath kit contains the following...
  • A tablecloth that is winter or Christmas themed
  • A quilted table runner using holiday fabric scraps and squares
  • A tabletop wreath
  • Weekly candles for each Sunday in the Advent season
  • The Christ candle and its' own holder
  • Labels
  • Ribbon for adornment and packing purposes

The first part of creating the kit was to quilt a patchwork table runner in winter/Christmas themed fabrics. I used this tutorial here for making mine. If you really want to take these kits to the next level of decorating enthusiasm, include a new holiday tablecloth as well. 

DIY Gift Giving: Advent Wreaths

I bought plain votives in bulk and painted labels on them using chalkboard paint, as well as writing out each theme for the four weeks of Advent:

  • Week 1: Hope
  • Week 2: Peace
  • Week 3: Love
  • Week 4: Joy

DIY Gift Giving: Advent Wreaths

DIY Gift Giving: Advent Wreaths

Traditionally the Christ candle sits in the center of the wreath and is lit of Christmas Day to celebrate the birth of Jesus. For these kits, I went with two different styles depending on the recipient--a fancier mercury glass holder or the crown candle holder pictured on the right. Whatever you choose to do, I think it is helpful if you pick something that sets the Christ candle to stand out more than the weekly candles. 

DIY Gift Giving: Advent Wreaths

Next up is the making of the wreath! I went through my fake floral stash and found bits and pieces that looked wintery that I had from previous projects, but you can find those at your local craft stores if you are not a crafter hoarder like myself. 

DIY Gift Giving: Advent Wreaths

Then it is just a matter of layering the bits and pieces as you deem pretty with a hot glue gun...

DIY Gift Giving: Advent Wreaths

Viola! 

DIY Gift Giving: Advent Wreaths

Then it is time to package everything up. Since this is a kit that will likely get used for more than just once, I wanted to make sure I was packing everything in an organized manner that could take some wear and tear (i.e. going beyond a basic cardboard box). Target had some heavy-duty smaller plastic containers in the perfect size for everything. If you want to go in a different route though, I think layering all these items in a basket would be pretty on the presentation front too.  

DIY Gift Giving: Advent Wreaths

I rolled up the tablecloth and table runner then tied them off with some ribbon or twine to go in first along with the candles for each of the Sundays in Advent. Putting these in first is important if you do not want to gift a crushed wreath in your kit. 

DIY Gift Giving: Advent Wreaths

Next goes the wreath and Christ candle!


After everything is all snuggled in, I went ahead and made two different labels: The first is for the inner walls of the container so that if it is kept in a closet somewhere you can see what its contents are without having to open it up. The second is the much larger one shown below which explains the kit in detail along with a Christmas message. 

DIY Gift Giving: Advent Wreaths

Then it is all set and ready to be gifted during the holiday season!

DIY Gift Giving: Advent Wreaths

If you liked this post and found it helpful help encourage me to make more posts similar to it by sharing on your social platform of choice! And if you make a kit yourself tag me in it on Instagram (ngrimm07) or Pinterest (nataliegrimm) so I can your version of it! 

November 13, 2019

Tools for Cultivating 2020 Intentionally

Tools for Cultivating 2020 Intentionally

I have spent the past couple of weeks reflecting on formations, goals, and habits I want to be intentional about cultivating in the next year, 2020. I have found that in the past if I wait until January first, nothing I pick sticks because it is often haphazardly "picked" and often in comparison to what others are "committing" themselves to achieve. And then it inevitably fails because it does not reflect my needs, desires, and season of life. That is why I think it can be of great help to start marinating on the new year a handful of weeks before that New Year countdown starts at 11:59 p.m. January's eve. Here are a handful of the tools and resources I have and will continue to use for 2020:


Powersheets 2020

Powersheets from Cultivate What Matters. I have been using Powersheets for what will be my fourth (or fifth?) year in 2020. They have been incredibly helpful in helping me prioritize and plan goals and formations over the past few years. Powersheets are great for helping you be more intentional with the choices that inform how you live your life in the daily that then add up to our legacies. This year, I'm doing them with a couple of friends, which already, I can tell, is helping even more with me feeling more motivated to take action steps.


I love gathering people and gift-giving like it is a second job, so for 2020 I'm going to try out The Celebrations Binder from Cultivate What Matters and see if it is a good fit in keeping me organized and ahead of the game in my planning for the various occasions through the year. 

2020 Year Task Planner

When I left elementary teaching a little over a year ago, it was time to figure out a different planner style that worked for a new season in my career and as a grad student. I had randomly heard Annie mention the task planner from Apptnd on one of her Instagram stories and it sounded like it was a potentially good fit for me for this past year--and it definitely was! So much so that I am continuing to use it for 2020 as well. I really appreciate its' simplicity and no-nonsense approach in its' design and functions. Planners that have a lot of extra stuff in them drive me bonkers by mid-March. Motivational quotes and rainbows belong in other people's planners, but not mine!

Write the Word Journals

She Reads Truth Bible. It was finally time to put up my ESV on the shelf and pick-up a new Bible for studying purposes that wasn't shedding everywhere I went (last time I go faux leather). Hello pretty new linen CBS translation, hello 2020 studying and reading!

Write the Word Journals from Cultivate What Matters. This year I needed to really simplify my "quiet time" (or whatever you want to call it) as a part of my faith daily practice, and I found that the Write the Word Journals really helpful in aiding that. I'll finish up the ones I am currently in--Cultivate Renewal and Cultivate Hope--and then in the spring I already have the special Garden edition (looks at all the scriptures in the Bible that have to do with growth and gardens) journal to dive into. They are so pretty and well constructed too, and that has been just another great reason why I have given these to friends throughout this year as gifts too! They have kiddo versions if you have little in your life and world as well. To learn more about these journals here are a couple of lovely blog posts to check out and see if they're a good match for yourself:


One Little Word 2020

A handful of months I stumbled across the One Little Word Project from Ali Edwards and decided it fit in really well with my Powersheets in extending the activity of picking a word to journey with for the year. I will hopefully get around to posting more about the project in a handful of weeks, but I have already picked up a thin little journal and decorated it with my 2020 word: Good. 

Tools for Cultivating 2020 Intentionally

If you found anything in this post helpful, then please feel free to share on your favorite chosen social sites. And if there are any tools or resources you'd like to share that I or others might like to hear about, please give a shout-out in the comments below! I can't wait to hear your ideas!

November 7, 2019

Celebrating the Christmas Season Intentionally

Celebrating the Christmas Season Intentionally

Decking the halls has commenced a wee bit around my home--and I make no apologies for it. Why you wouldn't want your house to smell like a Christmas tree farm all year long is truly mind-boggling to me... While I am not ready to go all the way with decorating or even attempt to start the list of cookies to be baked and promptly consumed, I am gathering together a few tools and resources that I want to use during this Advent and Christmas season in order to celebrate the joy, love, hope, and peace it brings with intentionality; and I wanted to share them with anyone who may want to do the same!

Hidden Christmas Tim Keller

A short little book by a favored author of mine, Tim Keller, that takes a deep dive look at the background of the Nativity story. Really looking forward to reading this one on some cold weekend afternoon!

She Reads Truth Advent 2019

During Advent, I find it helpful to have some type of daily practice to keep my focus on the truest meaning of Christmas, and this year I am going to use the She Read Truth Advent study A Thrill of Hope which is a scripture reading plan, but it also has other seasonal recipes and crafts to try alongside some more in-depth study of the theme of Advent. 

Little Women Christmas

The holidays just seem like the most perfect time of year to enjoy those fiction "cozy" books. With the new Little Women movie being release this December, it seemed fitting to re-visit the childhood favorite and classic before heading to the theaters. The whole atmosphere of Little Women has always felt very Christmas-y to me, so it is a must-read this season. 

Christmas Field Notes

A new project I am starting this year is Christmas field notes. I have enjoyed watching friends participate in Ali Edwards' December Daily project, but the set-up of that project I don't foresee working for me. I cannot commit to making a mini scrapbook each December every year given that I can be an all-or-nothing type of person when it comes to memory keeping projects. Over the past couple of years though I have tossed around the idea of making a book that records family Christmas traditions and a book talking about the stories behind each of the ornaments in my collection. So this year I decided to start field notebooks for both of these, and an additional one for recipes that are only made during the holiday season in my house. I have no idea how far I will get with them this year, but I will just keep working on them here and there until they get done... even if that ends up being June 2025. I do like how they will be keepsakes when they are finished and how they will help me to focus on the joys the years have brought. 

Celebrating the Christmas Season Intentionally

What about you? What tools or projects are you working on this holiday season to stay mindful and celebrate what truly matters? Share in the comments below!

October 17, 2019

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

I have always loved old vintage and folk-style candy buckets, and while these are by no means replicas of those antiques, I wanted to try my hand at making my own papier-mache treat buckets with my own spin on them. Turns out it was a fairly easy process with a little patience and a whole lot of messy hands. 

Items to gather...

  • Plastic pumpkin candy buckets
  • Celluclay
  • Elmers Glue
  • Masking Tape
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Ribbon
  • Drill with bit

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

I used these plastic buckets as my form to keep the pumpkin shape which you can pick up for a dollar at many craft or dollar stores. Before covering them with the paper mache, I did a layer of masking tape in order for the pulp to adhere better to the form (the plastic pumpkins).

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

Follow the directions to mix the celluclay, and then add a couple of tablespoons of elemers glue. I've found this help everything to stick and stay in place while working. The first layer of papier-mache was just a thin layer to cover everything...

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

Then I went back and did a second layer to add all the dimensional and definition aspects to it based off of a couple sketches I made:

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

Next, I painted them! 

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

The final step then was to drill holes on the side and thread in the ribbon to make them into candy buckets.

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

Viola! All done!

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets
Pin Me! -Pumpkin Candy Buckets 

October 15, 2019

Bats, Spiders, and Caves! Oh My!

Below is a collection of activities I integrated into the curriculum over the years to make the month of October a little bit more spooky with Halloween on the horizon, without doing many outright Halloween projects.

We used Stellaluna to do a variety of reading activities using the curriculum from Linda Kamp that is excellent in its' content for students. 

Stellaluna Anchor Chart

We read a couple of books on canes and watched some YouTube videos (click here for video clips) for each student to then make a tree chart showcasing what they learned

Cave Tree Chart

For both spiders and bats (after doing a little research reading) students had to draw and label a picture of said arachnid and mammal, followed by an informational paragraph. 

Scientific Bat Writing

We read did various STEM activities at the end of the day that were slightly Halloween themed. For instance, students had to designed a suspended spider web using only dental floss and a few pieces of masking tape. They tested their webs then by placing this spider to see if it would hold:

Spider STEM

For the month of October, I transformed the reading tent into a reading cave with paper, spider web, and twinkle lights. Inside was a bin with cave specific books and a flashlight. Students took turns spending reading workshop in the reading cave throughout the month.

From Tent to Cave

Cave Readers Workshop

Before students got to paint the mini pumpkins, they first had to practice their description skills:

Pumpkin Investigation

We did three different related art projects during the month of October, beginning with pumpkin critters. Each student received a mini pumpkin to create a woodland creature of their choice along with paint and construction paper. Here are a few:

Mini Pumpkin Painting


Then we made some spooky haunted scene pictures. I diluted black paint to make it super thin, then students used straws to blow the paint around to create the creepy trees. We let them dry, and then they took sharpies to complete their scenes:

Haunted Halloween Painting


Haunted Halloween Painting

Finally, some colorful spider webs! Students drew their web art on construction paper with crayons first and then they watercolored over the webbing: 

Watercolor Spider Webs

During social studies, we were looking at resources from Williamsburg during our American Revolutionary War unit when we came across this little clip about tinsmithing. We made up some quick lanterns and students wrote about their favorite fall memory on these caramel apples to help decorate a hallway wall.

Caramel Apple Writing Activity

Finally, for older students, I loved using this Literature Unit for The Widow's Broom from Michael Frieman-- the excellent quality and my 4th grader loved it!
© Natalie Grimm. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.