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Advent and Christmas are typically high on my list of favorite seasons. This year I wasn’t so sure.

I started a new job at a large church in August. Within two months, my supervisor left and I was made Director of Children’s Ministries. It didn’t feel like a huge shift since I was only given five more hours per week and the responsibilities weren’t more than I’d had at my previous job. That was, until it came to Christmas. High expectations and deeply ingrained tradition. No pressure.

While I struggled to keep my head above water at work, I did manage to eek out some handmade gifts for Christmas. I whipped up hats for my sister-in-law and her husband.

I also knit a similar hat for my father-in-law, but didn’t take a photo.

Made pajamas for the kids. The girls’ were made from an old flannel sheet.

I ran out of sheet, so The Boy’s were made from flannel from the stash.

I cast on socks for the Mister, but haven’t even gotten as far as turning the heel. Good thing winter lasts so long around these parts. Hopefully I can make more progress now and he’ll still get some use out of them before spring.

I turned to the collective wisdom of the blogosphere for last minute giving and made a couple batches of Molly’s caramel corn.  Easy and delicious. This may have to become a holiday tradition.

In the end, the Christmas pageant was lovely. Gifts were finished and delivered on time. We enjoyed the holiday with family and friends. Despite the Christmas day on-set of a cold that kicked my backside, I managed to thoroughly enjoy Christmas after all. Perhaps it should stay at the top of my list.

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve been eying peoplesnotepad projects with increasing interest. A useful and simple gift with endless possibilities for personalization. Originally, when I decided I would make some notepads for teacher gifts, I was thinking I would gocco the cover and upcycle some random office paper for the interior. I was going to use a variety, including plain, lined and quad rule.

Then I stumbled upon a goldmine of scratch pad paper. Literally. I kept tripping over a box of the kids’ old schoolwork. When I finally sat down to sort and purge, I realized how much of it was single-sided copies. As I grumbled about the waste of paper, I had a little light bulb moment.

I used the kids’ old papers for the interior and cut up an old calendar with Hiroshige prints for the cover. Some quality time with the papercutter, a little padding compound and voila!

Here you go, teachers, jot away!

I think I salvaged at least 3 reams of paper (and recycled even more). I have a nagging feeling that there is more lurking somewhere. (Un)fortunately, there’s little risk of me running out of scratch pad materials any time soon.