northstory notes – Dec 6, 2013


I am one of the only people I know who actually prefers Fall and Winter to Spring and Summer. I love the fallen leaves and snowfalls, otherwise known as hoodie, sweater and boot wearing weather. Work socks inside.

So I am testing out my new BOGS this year to see how they are going to handle our Canadian winter. Which for the record doesn’t seem to be showing up in our Province that much anymore, at least not in the Greater Toronto Area. My friends out towards Western Canada however are probably reading this and about to tell me to shut up. They’re getting a lot of snow. A lot. I am however envious of their Instagram photos. I told you, probably the only person.

But this post isn’t about most people’s nemesis the snow, it’s about an a seriously amazing idea that my Erika posted on her Facebook wall this week and I loved it so much I asked her if I could share it on here.  And it’s how she’s doing her Advent Calendar with her daughter this year.

Here is her story:

A few years ago, we received a traditional Advent Calendar as a gift.  Behind each of the 25 doors, awaited a small treat or trinket for Madeline to open.  The advent calendar soon became a tradition in our home, and the process of purchasing 25 unique little gifts became part of my Christmas gift offerings from me to Madeline.

This year has been a year of gratitude and appreciation for us.  It started on January 1, 2013 – we created jars to keep our “happy moments”.  Each time we did something we enjoyed, or felt gratitude for something we had done, we’d write it on a piece of paper and place it in the jar.  Together, we’ll read our “moments” on New Years Eve, to recount and celebrate all the great things that happened to us throughout the year.

I wished to end the year on a similar high-note, and had hoped to find a way to teach Madeline that the true spirit of Christmas is not about receiving, but in giving to others.  To pay it forward.

So this year, in our traditional advent calendar, I included a small slip of paper with each of the day’s offerings – on it, a “gesture of kindness” that must be performed before the next day’s door is opened.  Still only a few days into the month, there are many opportunities to pay it forward, but so far, she has performed the following:

Advent Calendar activities (4)
– Donate books/toys to a child in need:  Madeline went through her bookshelves and donated a box of books to a woman in our community who was travelling to Uganda to donate books to a local school.  She also cleaned her playroom and gathered 3 bags of toys to donate to Goodwill.

– Complete a household chore that wasn’t asked of her – Madeline chose to vacuum the top floor and clean the dining room

Advent Calendar activities (2)

– Wrote a letter to her teacher explaining all the reasons why she enjoyed being in her class

– Write a letter to a child who is sick and in some cases, fighting cancer -Madeline did some research on and found a little boy, her age, who is suffering from a terminal illness. She wrote him a little letter to wish him a Merry Christmas.

Advent Calendar activities (3)

– Go out of your way to help another child or adult 

It’s been an interesting exercise, and one that has been met with enthusiasm.  I thought at first that she may see these activities as “chores”, but she has been anxious to pay it forward on a daily basis.  

Advent Calendar activities

Now THAT is what I should have put inside my advent calendar this year instead of leftover Halloween candy. Especially when they’re eating Kit Kats at  7 am.

To say this is an amazing idea for a child is an understatement. It’s definitely an Advent Calendar I plan to do in the future.

Thanks for sharing Erika! XO

In this week’s northstory notes:

As someone new to this whole Elf on the Shelf madness (I had no idea what his purpose really was until this year) apparently there is controversy galore of this little guy.

Wood Dowel Wreath with a bit of a modern twist.

Very much like the amazing Christmas bags that you leave in front of your tree for your kids to fill with their old toys, Kate sends her to the Repair Shop at the North Pole.

Stamps you can make for your kids.

Ridiculously cute pom pom trees.

I love a good country Christmas front porch. And then it gets better because there are also home decorations to compliment it.

Mini wreath gift tags – le sigh.

Felt leaf garland that is simple and breathtaking at the same time.

Baking and me are iffy. Making these cake toppers however…

And ever since I discovered these guys on Instagram, the items in their store they take my love of Canadiana to another level – go visit Nineteen Ten.

Happy Weekend!


  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Such an amazing idea (the gratitude jars & acts of kindness advent) definitely something I may do with the fam jam In the future. Thanks for sharing Alex, happy Friday!

    Ps.: the whole +15°C in GTA vs -30°C (& almost 2ft of snow) in NWO is one of many reasons why I feel Ontario should really be 2provinces. It’s like we’re not even in the same planet 😉

  • Reply
    Amy Renea
    December 6, 2013 at 11:29 am

    girl you are good — I clicked on every single one of those links….such cool stuff! …and the advent idea? totally pinning — I need to do that!

  • Reply
    Time With Thea
    December 6, 2013 at 11:46 am

    I just wanted to let you know I so look forward to your Northstory Notes every Friday! Your ‘blog’ love’ is wonderful and loving your writing style! Have a great weekend! PS. It is -42 C Here today with the wind chill. Brrr. ~Thea

  • Reply
    Laurie @ Vin'yet Etc.
    December 6, 2013 at 11:48 am

    That advent concept is so awesome! I adore it, wish my “baby” was still at home! My favorite time of year is fall/winter… oh oh, we really could be neighbors collaborating daily… imagine the possibilities! You rock!

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Hi Alex! I received the blogging Liebster award this week and part of the fun is passing it on! I have picked your blog as one of my nominations. Read how it works and my questions for you here! Enjoy!

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    Your friends daughter sounds like an amazing child. I’m sure she’ll grow up to be an even more amazing adult.

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