Joanna Anastasia


Easy DIY advent calendar

This easy DIY advent calendar is a great way of adding some festive cheer to your everyday! Come grab a free printable to make your own easy advent calendar

I always wanted to make my own advent calendar. I loved the idea of counting down to Christmas with kids, of building up the excitement and adding a bit of magic do dark and cold winter mornings. But I couldn’t imagine myself sewing up 24 little bags or buying a ton of small and useless toys. I needed an easy DIY advent calendar idea. So when I figured out how to make this easy advent calendar, I new I needed to share it with you!

Because I really think that counting down to Christmas, one day at a time, is one of the best joys of childhood, and one of the pleasures of motherhood. And looking at my kids exited faces in the morning is what I love the most during the holiday season!

And now, it’s not surprising that getting the advent calendar out off the living room coffee table, is one of our very favorite family traditions! Every day of December, in the early morning, my two daughters will be getting up all exited and will wake me up, begging to finally go downstairs and see the advent calendar. Some days they’ll find candy (just don’t tell them it’s their Halloween leftover candy!) and some days they’ll find stickers, temporary tattoos, or tiny little figurines.

Honestly I don’t think it really matters what they find , as the magic lays in anticipation and surprise! And so, thanks to the advent calendar, the excitement for Xmas builds up gradually. And their huge smiles brighten my dark December mornings, as we go downstairs to count the days left until Xmas!

So this year I made this printable that you too can use to make your own easy DIY advent calendar!

easy DIY advent calendar , and a free printable

You can find the full detailed tutorial as well as the printable to download at home, in our Hello Holiday Guide, here!

And I think that for kids the magic of Christmas lays in the little things, in time they spend with family and in the excitement and preparation! So don’t worry if you don’t have time to do all the Christmas activities from Pinterest, and bake all the cookies and prepare Elf on the shelf, because sometimes what kids will remember the most are the little family rituals like this one. Happy holidays!

<em>Photos in this post where captured by <a href=”; target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Donna Griffith</a>.</em>

How to start your first garden

It’s been a while since I wanted to start a garden, a real one, with fresh tomatoes, lettuce and strawberries. I was imagining getting up in the morning and picking up fresh fruits with my daughters for breakfast.

How to start your first garden, build a raised bed, plant and make garden markers.

I know, I’m imagining a tv commercial, but I can’t help it, I still want us to get fresh produce from our garden! There was just two problems: squirrels living in my garden and a groundhog living in my neighbor’s garden. Apparently the squirrels are usually eating the tomatoes and the groundhog loves lettuce.

So we decided to build a raised bed, because it gets the job of stealing our food more difficult. And planting in a raised bed is easier on your back ( big point for me!). Also, by planting in a raised bed you don’t need to consider the quality of your soil because you basically put whatever type of soil you need inside.

  1. Building a raised bed :

Now, if you’d like to know if it’s difficult to make a raised bed, I’ll tell you that it looks quite easy! And my husband says it really is, especially if you have the right tools and someone to help you. Well, if it would be me trying to make one, I don’t think it would take only a few hours.


  • Wood for the sides. We recycled old 6 in. cedar siding for it’s mold resistance, but you can do it with 2×8 or 2×12 lumber of hemlock. Pine and spruce are not recommended.
  • some extra 2×4 for the corners, or corner brackets
  • geotextile fabric
  • earth, a lot of earth


First, decide what dimensions you need and start cutting your lumber. Keep the bed width below 4 foot to avoid stepping inside to maintain it. Cut small pieces of 2×4 to hold the corners.

Build a raised bed

Build a raised bed


The recycled planks required a bit more assembling… and pre-drilling to avoid cracking. We used 2 screws per plank at each joint and corner.

Build a raised bed

Build a raised bed

Once everything is assembled, you can stain it for the look, but we decided not to.

Build a raised bed

To prevent tree roots and grass from traveling up your soil and competing with your vegetables, lay a geotextile fabric at the bottom of your box.

Build a raised bed

Building is done! Now just fill it with rich soil that is at least 25% compost.

      2. Starting seeds and planting:

Instead of spending money on little degradable pots, I think it’s better to use an old egg container. All you need to do is to pierce the bottom of every egg hole ( for draining ) and then just put some rich soil and a seed. Water every day, and keep in a sunny spot. Seedlings need at least 6 hours of direct light a day!

The best time to plant outside is when the temperature gets warm, and there is no danger of frost (that might kill your seedling).

Also, don’t plant veggies that grow high next to veggies that stay low ( like tomatoes and strawberries) because they might hide the sun from each other.

And make sure that you have good quality, rich soil! Check with your local garden store if they deliver large quantities of garden soil, they might have a much better price then a hardware store that sells soil in bags!

       3. Making garden markers:

Get some wooden planks and paint them. Or let your kids do so. If they can’t spell, they could try drawing the plant that you’re growing (although it might be unrecognizable 😉 ). So the safest way to know what you’ve planted and where is to actually write it.

Start a garden

Of course now, my little helper is asking me all the time if the cucumbers and tomatoes are ready, and every day after breakfast we need to check if the groundhog ate our lettuce. No, he did not. But we will add a net, just to make sure!

Are you thinking about starting a vegetable garden? If you already did, why are your tips and tricks to keep the pests off?

Amazing no-sew headband tutorial

No-sew headband

I admit, this title is very enthusiastic, but it’s only because this no-sew headband was so easy to make it really made my day. Since I cut my bangs, I’m mostly annoyed with it, and I just hope for my hair to grow faster. I guess that I didn’t mind having hair in my eyes all the time when I was younger, but now I just don’t feel like suffering for beauty. I might have matured, or I got lazy ;).

And guess what – it’s not that easy to find pretty, but age appropriate headbands when you’re 30! Without flowers and ribbons I mean. And comfortable. Of course there is Etsy, but by the time my headband would be shipped, my hair would probably grow. And then I run across this idea somewhere on Pinterst. I also decided to use a sharpie to paint little black dots. All together it took me not more than 5 minutes!

No-sew headband

What you’ll need :
white tank-top
black sharpie

No-sew headband

Place our t-shirt on flat surface, and measure a thick stripe. To hold your material still you can use regular tape like I did. Draw the lines of your headband (they should be straight, but don’t need to be perfect). Add the dots, on both sides. Cut it out.

No-sew headband

Now fold it in to 8 ( or eternity).

No-sew headband

Fold again.

No-sew headband

Put two extremities together. And voila!

No-sew headband

Now can you tell that I love my new headband? I really do. It’s so comfortable! And it cost me nothing!

No-sew headband

Sharpie painted tea set

Sharpie painted tea set

If you need to make a personalized and modern gift, for an artistic and tea loving family member, what do you do ? A sharpie painted tea set, of course ! And since I’m really in to this black and white decor trend going on right now, I decided to get slightly inspired by the Marimekko designs, and use simple dots and lines for the design.

I usually use special paint for porcelain, but it’s much more time consuming, and with a repetitive motive like this one, I decided to give sharpies a try. Honestly I wasn’t sure if it’s really a durable method, but if you bake ( yes, that’s right, just like a cake) your painted porcelain for a half an hour in 300F, after letting it dry for a day, it should stay resistant. I say should, because I still wouldn’t wash it repetitively in a dishwasher. Just in case.

Sharpie painted tea

I bought simple Ikea tea set. And regular black sharpies. You need some patience too, but unfortunately this one can’t be bought ;).

Sharpie painted tea

If you’re not an artist, that’s totally fine, just set on something simple ( dots are great!) and repeat it :).

After you’re done, put them aside to dry. It may look like they are dry after 30 minutes, but if you want your cups to resist water in the long run, let them dry for 24 hours!
I forgot mine for a week ;).

Sharpie painted tea

Now, put them in the oven, turn the heat on 300F, and when the temperature reaches 300F set the timer on for 30 minutes. After that time turn the oven off, but leave your cups in the oven so they cool down.

Sharpie painted tea

I would still suggest to hand wash your hand made tea set, that way it’ll last a while!

Sharpie painted tea

Easy handmade ornaments

Today is the Holiday Blog hop: which means, that on top of my awesome easy Christmas ornament inspiration, you get to see other Christmas decoration ideas at once ! Yey :)!

Oh, Christmas Trees! Blog HopSo thanks for stopping by our Holiday Blog Hop! If you’re looking for inspiration for your tree, DIY ornaments, or just want to see some really gorgeous, fun, and creative Christmas trees, then you’ll LOVE the hop,

“Oh, Christmas Trees!”

Don’t forget to follow the links at the end of the post to visit all the great blogs!

 Easy Christmas ornaments

I bought these transparent ornaments last year, when I was heavily pregnant and looking for calm activities to do with my toddler. Of course, in the end, we didn’t decorate them at all. I think I overestimated my at the time two year old daughter. And my at the time energy level ( pretty low). So this year, I decided it’s time to paint them!

But, again, in the end we didn’t paint them. We did something better :). We added gold glitter ! And after my daughters suggestion, I decided to offer them as gifts, so I also painted the names of our family members on them, to make them personalized 🙂

 Easy Christmas ornaments

All you need is:

Transparent ornaments

Pour as much glitter as you wish inside the transparent ornament, and personalize it with a hand written name ! And if you’d make it with a three year old like I did, you will have glitter everywhere for a week, including your car. But it’s totally worth it ! 😉

 Easy Christmas ornaments

And here is another Christmas ornament that we did, and this one we managed to make last year :). It’s an air dry clay, that’s super easy to prepare, and once dried really really white. We used cookie cutters, and we had so much fun! It’s really a toddler friendly craft, that you could try this year :). And if you click here you’ll find out how to make them :).

 Easy Christmas ornaments

And as you can see, this year my simple & rustic Christmas tree is rather small, but it’s because I needed to put it out of my crawling babies way 🙂 but I still love it, especially because of our hand made ornaments that I did together with Lili :).

 Easy Christmas ornaments

For more fabulous Christmas inspiration, check out these blogs!

Create and Babble

Denise Designed

Lazy Mom’s Blog

Blue Willow House

My Patch of Blue Sky

I am Homemaker

Hand Made Holidays Blog Hop: Lemon & poppyseed soap

Handmade Holidays 2014 Hop Logo

I’m so happy to be a part of this years 4th Annual Handmade Holidays Blog Hop! This amazing idea was brought to life a couple of years ago while looking for hand made gift ideas. So here it is, a resource dedicated JUST to handmade gift ideas. With over 100 amazing, creative bloggers in the craft industry, as well as some cool product manufacturers, this Handmade Holidays Blog Hop is a plethora of inspiring gift ideas! And all of them you can actually make to give to your friends, family, and colleagues.

I invite you to Pin and bookmark these ideas for this holiday season and to use throughout the year! Each day of the hop features approximately 30 gift projects and you can “hop” from one blog to another to check them all out.

So now, let’s start with my handmade gift idea:

lemon & poppyseed goat milk soap !
This all natural, exfoliating, lemon & poppyseed soap bars are so easy to make, and make for a perfect little handmade gift.

Lemon poppyseed soap

All you need are these three ingredients :

Goat milk soap base
Lemon zest

Lemon poppyseed soap

Start by cutting the soap base in to cubes. I used one third of the packaged ( 3 cups of soap base) for the first poppyseed layer, and then I used another one third for the lemon layer.

Lemon poppyseed soap

Melt your soap base in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir it, melt again for 30 seconds and stir again. Repeat until liquid.

Lemon poppyseed soap

Add lemon zest and poppy seeds, stir, and pour in your mould. I used a simple baking dish.

Lemon poppyseed soap

For a second layer repeat all of the above, just forget the poppy seeds, and double the lemon zest. I sprinkled some more poppy seeds on top, just because it’s more pretty like that :).

Lemon poppyseed soap

Give it around an hour to set, and then simply cut the pieces out, like you would a cake !

Lemon poppyseed soap

I think that these rustic, lemon & poppyseed soap bars are so pretty that they don’t need much gift wrap. Just a simple string and a piece of fresh spruce.

Lemon poppyseed soap

So my handmade gift is done, simply wrapped and handed with a hand made Christmas card . And I’m pretty sure that my friends and your friends will love these little lemon & poppyseed soaps, that feel and smell like they came from a very fancy spa!

Lemon soap

Are you ready for lots more creative handmade gift ideas and projects??
Follow along on our blog hop! Simply click on each of the links below to be taken to that post with additional information and photos on how to create a handmade gift project. Have fun and pin away!
Ellison Educational Equipment
Walnut Hollow 
Neat and TangledTherm O Web
Elizabeth Craft Designs
Pink and Main
The Buckle Boutique
Scrapbook Adhesives by 3L
Rowland Technologies
ICE Resin
Hydrangea Hippo
Clearsnap – Suzanne Austin
Stencil1 – Ed Roth 
Graphic 45 -Nadya Lifa
Cupcakes and Crinoline – Mary Beth Sharkey 
Lazy Mom’s – Joanna Grzeszczak
Homemade Ginger – Megan Kapple
Scrapbook Adhesives by 3L – Asia King
Ellison Educational Equipment – Anna-Karin Evaldsson
One Artsy Mama- Amy Latta
Lovely Etc – Carrie Spalding
ICE Resin – Clare Horner
The Buckle Boutique – Stephanie Nericcio
Modern Surrealist – Marisa Pawelko
A Little Craft In Your Day – Tanner Bell 
Artsy Findings – Cheryl Waters
Stampin Mindy – Mindy Baxter
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow our Handmade Holidays Gift Ideas Pinterest board for even more inspiration!

Follow Jennifer Priest of RainMaker Media Works + Hydrangea Hippo’s board Handmade Holidays on Pinterest.

A huge thank you to our sponsors for this hop – please visit their blogs below and follow them. And be sure to come back tomorrow for another 30+ amazing Handmade Gift Ideas!

Handmade Holidays 2014 Hop Logo SPONSORS 300dpi

Clearsnap || Ellison Educational Equipment || Walnut Hollow || Graphic45 || Westcott || ICE Resin || Therm O Web || Rowland Industries || Scrapbook Adhesives by 3L || Pink and Main || Elizabeth Craft Designs || The Buckle Boutique || Neat and Tangled

Additional Sponsorship provided to bloggers by:

Sakura || Fairfield Processing

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