11.18.2013

a long distance advent calendar.


A few years ago, I made an intense advent calendar for Gabe. It involved 24 separate gifts, a mini-Christmas tree and lots of wrapping. Oh, and arranging it all in a box which could be shipped to Iraq for less than $50.

Ahem, overachiever.

But....now that we've been married for nearly two years, there's less pomp and circumstance in our relationship. Isn't that the way it goes? :) He'll be back in the US four days before Christmas, but will spend most of the holiday season in Afghanistan...so, I wanted to send a little cheer and make him feel remembered.
 
While perusing the local craft store, I stumbled on a burlap bag garland...24 bags on a lengthy string. The perfect little advent calendar. So, I popped down a few aisles to grab some faux greenery for $1.50 and a pack of scrapbooking numbers for $2.39.
 
Can you believe that $5 of sequined trim found it's way into my basket? So unexpected, I know. :)

 
The bags were dressed up quickly with a hot glue gun, the few items I'd picked up at the store and some ribbons from my craft hoard. Then, rather than spending money on tons of different candy or gifts...and since holiday activities aren't an option given distance...I decided to fill each little pocket with love and memories. I trimmed cream cardstock to fit the 2"x 3" bags, and then wrote out twelve things I love about my husband + twelve of my favorite memories together.
 
I kept most of my "memories" holiday related, and my "loves" were simply his most endearing qualities.

 
Into each bag, I slid one note and a tiny candy cane or mini Ghirardelli chocolate bar. (Ghirardelli has a special place in our hearts since we spent our first New Years Eve at the Fairmont Ghirardelli in San Francisco. And also, it's delicious.)
 
 
It's mushy. But it's such a quick craft and a great way to make someone feel remembered...especially if they're far away this holiday season. So long as you can list a handful of favorite memories and their endearing qualities, you could gift this to a far-away friend, your at-a-distance mom or even your kid who's off to college until right before Christmas.
 
A few suggestions:
 
If you can't find a burlap bag garland at your local craft store (I've spotted them at Beverly's and Michaels), but still want a rustic look...check Amazon for small muslin or burlap bags like these. The top of the back side of the bag can quickly be hot glued or sewn onto a piece of twine!
 
If you're a girl on a budget and fabric bags are too pricey, try a pack of small glassine envelopes or pretty kraft paper bags...both of which can likely be found at Paper Source, Michaels, etc. Decorate + number the outside, then just attach to twine with glittered clothes pins.
 
 
Also, this baby was a breeze to ship since nothing was perishable or breakable, and all the materials were very light. I just coiled the garland around a piece of cardboard and taped down both ends of the twine.
 
Ta-da.
 
Now to shop for a real gift for my husband. (Is it just me, or are men hard to shop for?)
 
P.S. Hi again. Thanks to the kind people who gently (or not so gently) nudged me to start blogging again. And to the person who called my mom to make sure I was still alive. ;) I attempted to write a post to explain my 5 month absence, but it was just so long. So very, very long. Eventually, I just said "Screw it, let's start by 'doing' rather than talking about 'doing'."
 
So...that's that. How are you?

91 comments:

  1. What a gorgeous advent calendar!!!! I have missed your blog during these last 5 months and i shrieked when i saw your post in my Blogger reading list! :)) I'm so happy that you're back and with an adorable first post!! <3

    XOXO

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    1. Thank you so much, Laura! Haha...and thanks for the joyful shriek! It feels good to be blogging again! :)

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  2. i miss your blog and your writing so much! welcome back :D

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    1. Thanks for coming back to read despite the long absence! :)

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  3. This is such a brilliant idea, and has inspired me for this year! Thank you!

    And I am SO HAPPY you're back! You've always been one of my favourite bloggers!! (Btw: My Fella and I have moved in together!...still in Australia, though... x)

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    1. HOORAY for your life update! :) So happy for you! I fell behind on lots of blog reading, so I need to pop over and catch up tonight! :)

      Thanks so much for reading here...even if I disappear for a while. :)

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  4. oh hey! glad to see you're back!

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    1. Hi! :) Thanks for coming back to read! :)

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  5. A lovely, thoughtful calendar!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Robyn! Hope Kuwait is treating you well. :)

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  6. Yay! I've been reading your blog for a while now but don't comment often...but I wanted to just let you know how excited I was to see you pop back into my feedly this morning! :) Glad to see you back, and still creating beautiful things!

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    1. Thank you so much, Sarah...and thanks for taking the time to comment! (I am a rare blog commenter, too, so I fully appreciate your comment!) ;)

      I'm so happy to be back, writing + sharing the little things I make! :)

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  7. Yay! So happy to see a post!! Cute project, Bethany your ideas are so sweet.

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    1. Thanks, Kelli! :) It felt great to hit the "post" button again! Now to do it on a regular basis... ;)

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  8. Atta girl! She's back! SO happy to see you on the internets this morning! And back with an adorable project to boot! I need to think of an Advent calendar and soon. Little Gabe is at the *perfect* age for Christmas stuff so I can't wait to get my activities and whatnot in order.

    I'm so excited that he gets to come home for Christmas. That's the sort of thing they write songs about. Heh, get it? Anyway, write more things. And make more things. Please and thank you.

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    1. Thank you, Shan!! As discussed at girls weekend, I kind of thought I might never blog again. Ha. But then randomly last week I decided it was time to get back at it. You know how it goes...sometimes the blog motivation is strong, and sometimes it's completely gone. Or is that just my bi-polar blogging tendencies? ;)

      Little Gabe is totally at the age for advent calendars...you better blog whatever you whip up for him! And yes. Big Gabe will be home just in time. It cannot come fast enough!

      I miss you, and owe you an email! Doing it tonight. Cross my heart and swear on a Bible.

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  9. So glad to see you're back Bethany! I love this calender--simple, elegant, & I love the memories/qualities twist you've taken on it. I want to do this for my husband, who isn't thousands of miles away, but I think it would be a lovely way to help him remember how much/why I love him.

    I also love how inexpensive this little project is! Many craft projects overwhelm me because of their complexity or price point, but this is just perfect.

    So glad you're back! ox

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    1. Thank you, Janae! :) You should definitely make one for your hubby...your little ones could even help fill out a few things they love about their daddy! Even sweeter. :)

      I totally feel you on becoming overwhelmed by crafts...often I skip cute crafts completely if the total for materials is over $25...or if it takes more than a few hours. Crafts should be an inexpensive alternative to buying an overpriced gift! :)

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  10. Ah, I've missed you! This is a great idea. Perhaps I'll do one for my sister who is semi-long distance from me.

    Glad you and Gabe are doing well and it's great that he'll be home for the holidays!

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    1. Thank you, Alli! :) You should definitely make one for your sis...she'd probably love it! And if she doesn't, well, at least she got free candy. ;)

      And yes...I'm so excited for Gabe to be home in time for the holidays. I don't want to rush through the next month of the holiday season...but it's hard not to when there's a husband I haven't seen in 7 months! :)

      PS: Your new pup is so adorable. I'm so ready to adopt a fuzzy friend, but waiting til Gabe is home for good. So, I'm living vicariously through your new family member! :)

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  11. MY CHRISTMAS WISH HAS COME TRUE!!!

    I hope I was in the "not gentle" category. Everything you do is magic. I missed it.

    Thanks for coming back. I know it was difficult but I love you for you, no explanations needed. Just be in my internet space, k?

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    1. Hahaha...you were totally in the not gentle category. And I loved it. (Um, that sounds questionable with no context. But you know what I mean.) ;)

      I cross my heart to be in my internet space, so long as you are in mine. Thanks for the support. :)

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  12. A new post from you was the best surprise this morning! So glad you are back.

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    1. Yay! So happy I could bring you a smile yesterday. Thanks so much for sticking around. :)

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  13. When you tweeted me the other day, I actually was wondering if you'd start blogging again. I figure you had your reasons, be they awesome or not-so-awesome. Glad to hear you're back to it! We missed you :)

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    1. Thanks, Emma! Glad to be back!! The reasons were neither awesome nor not-awesome. They were somewhere in the middle...just readapting to life. Also, I think after a while of blogging, things just get a little tricky. (As a blogger, you know how it is.) You feel that need to define yourself, and you're also much more aware of all the talented people out there who DO have it together. So, it was a lot of sorting through those feelings and just saying "Screw it." :)

      Anyway, thanks for always being a supportive voice and a great person. Happy to have you in my internetz. :)

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  14. Squeeeeeeee- you're back. With your gorgeous photos. This calendar is AMAZING. Love!!
    www.davenportdiy.com

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    1. Thanks so much, Emily! :) Whew, I'm glad my photos were passable. I was so rusty...honestly couldn't quite remember how to shoot in manual...and barely could recall how to edit. It's crazy how much you can forget in a few months!

      Glad you love the calendar, and thanks for popping over! :)

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  15. I'm not sure if I've commented before, but I have been a stalker for quite some time...and I just wanted to say I'm very happy you're back :) You have a wonderful writing 'voice' and your story is inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Also, I wanted a unicorn to get his wings.

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    2. Thank you, Carrie! I'm a bit of a sensitive soul, so blogging can get a discouraging for me...it's easy to feel like I have nothing unique or special to share. (Hence my blogging hiatus!) So, your kind words are really appreciated and I cannot thank you enough for your support! :)


      Thanks so much for being a sweet stalker. Also, the unicorn thanks you for his newly adorned wings. ;)

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  16. Super cute advent calendar! What an awesome burlap bag find and the chocolate is a perfect touch and fit. Also, I can't believe that you've been married for almost 2 years. How time flies! :)

    P.S. - No need to write a post about living your life off of the blog. We're just loving that you're back! Yay!

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    1. When I wrote this, I had the same reaction to typing "nearly two years". Whaaa? How is that even possible? I was momentarily bummed that I'm no longer a newlywed. ;)

      Glad you like the advent calendar...I was beyond jazzed that the chocolate fit perfectly. :)

      And thank you so much! I feel like as women we often feel the need to offer explanations for everything...rather than simply knowing that "life happens" and everyone understands. :) Thanks for your support!

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    2. In a way, I was secretly happy that you weren't posting. I figured it meant that you were having tons of fun finally being at home! In the past year since I started my own blog, I TOTALLY gained a greater appreciation for the work that goes into a single post. Breaktime is totally necessary!

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  17. Welcome back! So nice to see you blogging again and what a fabulous 'first' post. As you know, I've been embracing the simplicity of our American life and this blog post has expressed exactly the way I feel. So meaningful, so precious, so thoughtful, but simple and from the heart. Love this idea and I'm sure Gabe will too.

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    1. Thanks so much, AG!! :)

      I so agree about the simplicity found back in the US! It's refreshing. I'd much rather make something thoughtful and heartfelt than wander into a store and buy something random. (Um, exactly what I did for the holidays last year in Kuwait. Ha.) Also, the supplies are so much cheaper and easily found, so that helps. ;)

      Hope you're enjoying the start of the holiday season in your new home! :)

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  18. oh bethany it is so wonderful to see you back blogging again! I've missed your posts, insights, and crafty DIY projects :) I particularly love this idea, it's special and touching! Gabe will love it and the days will by much more quickly reading the memories and loves! and...Welcome back, and always know that your readers will always welcome you with open arms! *cheers* and happy tuesday!

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    1. Thank you, Ka'ili!! :) I hope Gabe loves it...and really wishing for the days between now and when Gabe comes home to fly by. :)

      You're always so positive and supportive, and I appreciate it so much. Thanks for being in my internet world! :)

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  19. Welcome back! You have been missed. I am so happy to be reading your stories again.

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    1. ps-My husband is in Afghanistan for the holidays too. But he will be home in January and I am so grateful for that!

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    2. Thanks for the warm welcome back, Jenelle! :)

      Please thank your husband for his service, and keep yourself busy for the next few weeks so you don't miss him too much! :) I'm so happy that he'll be home shortly after the holidays. Is he home for good in January, or just for leave? :)

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  20. I literally just came by this morning to make sure I hadn't been missing your posts and then this one popped up. Glad you're still with us and your DIY is SO very adorable.

    Rebecca {at} Preppy Panache

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    1. We must be in sync! :) Thank you so much for coming by...and for loving this DIY! Have a perfect day, Rebecca! :)

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  21. I missed your blog! Glad to see you are back. :)

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    1. Thanks so much! It feels good to be back! :)

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  22. I am glad you are back! I've enjoyed reading you for a while now and was missing your posts.

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    1. Thank you, Jill, for reading and for the warm welcome back to blogging! :) Have a great day!

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  23. I am so very glad you are back blogging again! I love your blog, your beautiful posts and your long distance love story (it helped to read about someone also doing it. Though I am lucky my man is not in Afghanistan). Happy start to the holiday season!

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    1. Thanks so much! Long distance is a beast...and I agree, it's so helpful to know that other sane individuals are doing it, too! :) Happy holidays to you, too! :)

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  24. You are THE most creative and thoughtful person ever! I love this idea! I'm also so happy for both you and Gabe and the fact that you get to spend the holiday together. Glad to see you back to blogging as well... I've missed reading :)

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    1. Oh gosh, thank you! I think I'm less creative and thoughtful, and more "likes to peruse craft stores and can't leave without buying stuff". ;)

      We cannot wait to be back together for the holidays. Gabe has been keeping a countdown and updates me daily on the number. :)

      Thanks so much for reading regularly, and for your kind words! :)

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  25. Yay! So happy you're back :) I love reading your posts.

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  26. So, so happy you're back. And with an awesome gift idea, too. If I had time to make one right now I'd be all over that. ;-)

    And, sometimes I think 'doing' rather than talking about 'doing' is the best way to go... when you start trying to explain everything in minute detail it can get really overwhelming, fast. I have tried to do a similar thing on my blog before and it just. didn't. work. Even if you never get to "explaining" things, we are just happy to have you back here!

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    1. Thanks, Kaitlyn! :)

      I so agree about "doing" vs "talking about doing". I often fall into doing the latter on my blog...and it usually just confuses me even more, or overwhelms me to the point that I don't want to "do" whatever I wrote about doing. Also, I'm coming to realize that in our oversharing culture...it's totally okay to keep some emotions, experiences and thoughts private. Even if it's just for the sake of keeping yourself sane. :)

      Anyway, my new motto shall be reminiscent of Nike: Just do it. :)

      Thanks for the support! :)

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  27. Welcome back, dear. You are such a thoughtful person; I know he'll love it.

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    1. Thank you, Kelly! :) I mostly just love having an excuse to craft cheesy little things that he has to love. :)

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  28. Sooo so happy that you're back =) and I love this idea so much! Such a thoughtful and sweet project <3 and that sequined trim...ugh, it's perfection.

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    1. Thank you, Kelsey!! :) It really is such an easy craft, and it packs a lot of sweetness for someone who might need a little extra love! :)

      The sequined trim...I am obsessed with it. It was only $2/yard...and I feel like I might need to buy more. Right? I need more, right? ;)

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  29. you just made me the happiest girl to see new posts on your blog again : ) hi! and and i think it goes without saying that this is just absolutely amazing and you should get a little (ok huge) plaque with 'wife/crafter of the year' award

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    1. Aww, I swear you are the nicest person on the internet, Chelsea!! :) Thank you so much for the support!

      Haha...I do not think I've earned that plaque, but I will wear it...and I will hot glue lots + lots of sequins on it. :)

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  30. I am SO happy you're back. I've missed your beautiful blog!!

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    1. Thank you so much, Amy! You know what I realized? I totally missed blogging. It's good to be back. :)

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  31. I am so glad you're back!

    This post is lovely and made me smile.

    P.S. You also inspired my post tonight, so I put your blog link in it where I mentioned you. Thanks for inspiring.

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    1. Thanks so much for your support, Sarah! :) Glad I could bring you a smile.

      I hopped over and finished my thoughts over on your latest blog post! :)

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  32. Do you need my address in Kuwait to send my package? ;p You remind me of my Grandmother who was also very creative and thoughtful. She had a sewing / craft room that I loved to play in as a child. I'm a painter and I miss having a studio here in Kuwait.

    It's lovely to read a post from you again and we all understand your absence was due to enjoying your new life back in Cali. I don't think I would ever have the time to blog if I was back in the US. There is just too much to do with family, friends, events, etc. compared to Kuwait.

    I hope Gabe is doing well in Afghanistan and I'm excited for you both that he gets to come home for a few days. Happy Thanksgiving! <3

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    1. Haha! God bless the APO boxes over there, right? :)

      How sweet to have such a wonderful memory of your Grandma! Also, I didn't know that you're a painter! You definitely got your grandmother's creative spirit with your writing and painting. :)

      You're so right...there's just so much to do in the US. You could be busy ALL day, and not see a single mall. I think part of my absence was this huge difference between life in Kuwait and my new life here, and trying to figure out where I fit again. It's a strange thing to wind up exactly where you wanted to be...and still be a little unsure of who you are and what you should be doing. But isn't that just life? :)

      Thanks so much for your support, and for supporting our guys + girls in Kuwait! I love seeing all your updates...it makes me feel like I'm still a bit plugged in to my old life in the desert! :)

      Happy T-day to you, too! :)

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  33. Such a great idea! And perfect for mailing. You have my mind spinning. I also love those little bags.

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    1. Thanks, Kim! :)

      The little bags are fantastic. I might need to buy a few more strands just incase... :)

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  34. Glad to see you back. Miss you since my visit. Love from Wisconsin...BTW I'm her dad, and while some may consider me creepy, I not some creeper on her blog!! :-)

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    1. Haha...thanks, dad. :) We miss you, too! Come back soon for lots of walks and good food! :)

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  35. Yay! You're back! One of my favorite bloggers :)

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    1. Aww, that's so sweet, Flora! Thanks for your encouragement! :)

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  36. YAY!!! You have been very missed! In your last post I was happy to life was on the up with you! Yay for pretty things!

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    1. Thank you so much! :) Life is definitely on the up. It's so good to be back in the US, especially now that the holidays are so close. :)

      And hooray for pretty things, indeed! I love being able to find them so easily in the US!: )

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  37. love that you are back! this is such a cute idea. i will keep my eyes peeled on black friday at jo ann fabrics!

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    1. Definitely check at Jo Anns! I don't have one close to me, but I miss their craft + fabric selection! :)

      Thanks so much for commenting and for sticking with me, even when I disappeared for a bit! :)

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  38. Long time reader, first time commenter! :-) Pleased as punch to see 'Rinse. Repeat' in my feedly! I just want to echo all of the other lovely comments of encouragement and happiness in seeing you here again. Best wishes for a happy holiday season and fingers crossed for more posts! Cheers!

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  39. Thank you for coming back! I missed your blogs :)

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  40. I'm so glad you're back! Yay!
    This is super cute, and I haven't yet decided on an advent calendar for this year, so maybe I'll make one for myself instead of a gift ;]

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  41. So happy to have you back! Whether it's your DIY advice, travel posts, or even the more intimate posts about love, moving, depression, you inspire me. Thank you!

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  42. I was so delighted to see that you had a new post! I've truly missed your blogs.

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  43. Yahoooooo! It's hard being a concerned random stranger... Glad you are back!

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  44. You don't know how many times I've checked for new posts and worried about you...

    I'm so glad to find you're back and "hear" that twinkle in your voice (do voices twinkle?) Wishing the best of all things for you and Gabe in this new year.

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  45. i am here to give testimony of how i got back my husband, we got married for more than 9 years and have gotten two kids. thing were going well with us and we are always happy. until one day my husband started to behave in a way i could not understand, i was very confused by the way he treat me and the kids. later that month he did not come home again and he called me that he want a divorce, i asked him what have i done wrong to deserve this from him, all he was saying is that he want a divorce that he hate me and do not want to see me again in his life, i was mad and also frustrated do not know what to do,i was sick for more than 2 weeks because of the divorce. i love him so much he was everything to me without him my life is incomplete. i told my sister and she told me to contact a spell caster, i never believe in all this spell casting of a thing. i just want to try if something will come out of it. i contacted traditional spell hospital for the return of my husband to me, they told me that my husband have been taken by another woman, that she cast a spell on him that is why he hate me and also want us to divorce. then they told me that they have to cast a spell on him that will make him return to me and the kids, they casted the spell and after 1 week my husband called me and he told me that i should forgive him, he started to apologize on phone and said that he still live me that he did not know what happen to him that he left me. it was the spell that he traditional spell hospital casted on him that make him comeback to me today,me and my family are now happy again today. thank you traditional spell hospital for what you have done for me i would have been nothing today if not for your great spell. i want you my friends who are passing through all this kind of love problem of getting back their husband, wife , or ex boyfriend and girlfriend to contact traditionalspellhospital@gmail.com. and you will see that your problem will be solved without any delay.

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Every time you comment, a unicorn gets his wings. Also, my phone beeps and your words bring me joy. :)

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