Category: Mothering

Superhero Party: Action and the Aftermath

Hello my lovelies! It’s been a while, I think I’ve mostly been in Superhero Birthday Party recovery mode! Actually, I’m buried in costume jobs and my own sewing, a dance show next week that I’m costuming and choreographing for, plus the usual mothering … sigh. But I’m grabbing a moment because I want to share how this party went, it was such a blast! I wrote about the invitations a while ago, now here’s the main event.


I made Superhero Capes for each kid with his or her initial, using a free comic book font I found. I printed the initials out, one per page, and used them as patterns for felt letters. I then hand-stitched them to a nicely contrasting circle of felt and machine stitched the whole thing onto the capes I made. Ta da!

Do I have any really nice, clear photos of the kids in their capes? Of course not! They move way too quickly, and usually don’t have time for posing when good times are afoot. Off the top of the party we played Musical Chairs (Rudi’s favourite game he informed us the day before, I don’t even know where he learned it!), and when you were out you got your cape. I have never seen so many 5-year-olds flopping and pretending they couldn’t find a chair — everyone was in a panic to get out and get a cape! Here are Rudi’s and Gene’s capes laid out on the floor so you can get an idea of the shape. The big one is for the 5-year-old birthday boy, the little one is for the 1-year-old side kick.


I winged the pattern after reading a few other blogs about making capes. I folded one metre of fabric in half for each cape piece (therefore two metres of fabric per cape), drew the longest diagonal that would fit on my fabric and a freehanded the neck line, 20130509-161751.jpgmade a paper pattern from that first one and off I went. I used snaps for attachement as I’d run out of time to sew velcro on — and I really like the result! And yes, I finished the 14th cape half an hour before the party. And yes, I made a friend iron a bunch of them. And pick the stitches out of the two I sewed inside-out at 12:30am. Because I am obviously not a procrastinator at all and am excellent at sticking to production schedules. Ahem. (Thank you over and over Kate!)

Each cape was a different colour with white lining, because Mr. Birthday himself was determined that we should also paint the capes! We ended up using fabric spray paint out on our chilly, barely-spring deck (it was early April and had snowed just two days before!). I cut out a few paper shapes — lightening and such — that way the kids could spray over those and leave a white shape in the negative space. Some, like Rudi, just wanted a glorious mess of colour as you can see here! Either way, it worked well, cheers Tulip fabric spray paint! Capes dried on the line within the hour and went home with each super kid by party’s end.

Loot bags, in my humble opinion, are important. So even though each little super kid got to keep his or her cape, they also got modest super bags and matching bean bags. So cute. And easy as pie. Actually I find pie really challenging to make. These were easier.


I simply folded a sheet of felt in half, machine stitched the bottom and side, and in the same seam stitched in the giant rik rak loop. I cut out a bolt of lightening for each and hot glued it on. Finishing touch: pinking shears to finish the sides.

Superhero lightening bolt bean bags!
Superhero lightening bolt bean bags!

For the contents: super-popping pop rocks in Green Lantern green, classic superhero stickers, a superhero candy stick (which I glued googly eyes to and attached a paper thank you cape to, ridiculous, I know), dollar store finger lights for super E.T. fingers, super bean bags for power tossing (which we used during the party) and a Kinder egg because even superheroes aren’t immune to their charm right?! For the bean bags: same idea as the loot bag. I sewed three sides, left a wee opening, funnelled some beans in, stitched it closed, all on the machine. Finished with pinking shears and a smaller version of the loot bag lightening bolt.

Lastly, the coup de gras, the very best part: super flying photos! In my birthday party planning post, I showed my sad but hilarious test run of the photoshopped “flying” photo idea. Turns out, a dear friend was here with his daughter for the party and has far madder skills on the photoshop than I. So I turned it over to him (thank you Tal!) and we set up a photo studio in Rudi’s room. He took one photo of the background initially and cut and pasted each superhero over that one. He also isolated the two clouds and the plane so he could place them appropriately for each hero. We took the photos from a tripod so that the distance was consistant and covered the stool with a big white comforter so it would be easy to cut out of the picture and more comfortable to “fly” on. I tied long threads to little safety pins and that’s how the capes look like they’re flying — you can see it being held by an adult in one of the before pics. So. Awesome.

BEFORE: Super Rudi, behind the magic curtain, pre-photoshop.
BEFORE: Super Rudi, behind the magic curtain, pre-photoshop.
Super Rudi the birthday boy on hi way to save the day! If only I could have gotten him to stretch those legs behind him, he even had red socks on!!!
AFTER: Super Rudi the birthday-boy on his way to save the day!
BEFORE: The littlest super! Wee Gene was not into lying on the stool, so Daddy held him up and the cape out.
BEFORE: The littlest super! Wee Gene was not into lying on the stool, so Daddy held him up and the cape out.
AFTER: the fantastic result. Super-Gene flies into the picture from stage left!
AFTER: the fantastic result. Super-Gene flies into the picture from stage left!

Superhero Party: Plans and Invitations

This time of year is the major party period in our little family: cousin’s birthday, easter, Rudi’s birthday, hubby’s birthday. It’s about to roll out whether I’m ready or not! So I’m prepping, mind whirring, already behind on the crafting schedule!


The biggest excitement brewing is for Mr. Rudi’s 5th birthday. He wants superheros, which I obviously know all about (I do not). I wanted to go non-specific hero, he knows Spiderman and kind of has an idea of Batman and a few others, but I think we’ll keep it general and imaginative. Thus I am working on capes for everyone with their initial on them and we’ll have cape decorating, jumping pardon me, flying contests, speed trials, etc, basically run them ragged!

We’re even planning to set up a flying photo booth where the kids “fly” on a stool. Super RudiI’ll then photoshop the stool out so it looks like they’re flying against Rudi’s newly painted bedroom walls, featuring hills and sky! My photoshop skills are pretty minimal, perhaps even ghetto, but I can (kind of) rock the clone tool! Here’s my rough/feeble test run. But it’s for 5-year-olds, they’ll totally love it, right?!

Of course though, the first step is invitations and I cannot not make a craft project of those. I am incapable. It gives me too much pleasure. Here’s what I came up with:

I downloaded a couple of free comic book fonts for the text, which gave it a good superhero feel!
I downloaded a couple of free comic book fonts which gave the text a superhero feel!
To make it feel even more comic-bookish, I drew a simple map for the location, took a photo of it in Instagram and popped the image into the design.
To make it feel even more comic-bookish, I drew a simple map for the location, took a photo of it in Instagram and popped the image into the design.
I got to this point and felt the capes were too plain. To add a little quick detail I printed red Rs on circular labels (see next photo). Et voila, instant birthday-boy cape!
I got to this point and felt the capes were too plain. To add a little quick detail I printed red Rs on circular labels (see next photo). Et voila, instant birthday-boy cape!
The capes are felt, I drew a little pattern on paper that was the right size. Then they're just stitched over top of the party details text.
The capes are felt. I drew a little pattern on paper that was the right size. Then they’re just stitched over top of the “party details” text.
Because I made the invites longitude-wise, when it came to enveloping time, I was momentarily stumped. But then I realized I could just cut 12"x9" envelopes from top to bottom, tape them with decorative washi tape. Boom, custom envelopes!
I made the invites longitude-wise and when it came to enveloping time I was momentarily stumped. But then I realized I could just cut 12″ x 9″ envelopes from top to bottom, tape them with decorative washi tape and boom, custom envelopes!
All washi-taped and ready for mailing or hand delivery. Invitations sorted, now for the capes ...
All washi-taped and ready for mailing or hand delivery. Invitations sorted.

Being “Served” by One’s 4-Year-Old (Ahem)

rudifacecloseupLast night I got served. That’s correct, I was put-to-rights, read the riot act, shamed, however you like to put it. By a 4-year-old. Of course. It’s spring break (emphasis on the break part, it’s still very wintery here!) and so Rudi’s been home along with his teacher dad. Which is glorious, all my ducks boys in a row, makes me feel that all is right in the world. We’ve kept plans minimal, following our noses, playing with buddies, sewing and business work for me, finishing the home bar for Adam, and generally just being together.

I was on the computer (surprise surprise) yesterday afternoon when I heard a scream. Rudi had squeezed his finger skin while closing the lid of a felt pen. mommyfacecloseupHe came into my work room, I gave him a big hug, kissed the very minor squish mark. He seemed fine, started to leave the room of his own accord, asked me about a broken trophy that I was preparing to glue for my husband (Adam got this ridiculous, chunky basketball trophy from a men’s league a few years back that makes us giggle and should therefore, obviously, grace his new bar. But alas, in the move, the “metal” painted plastic player’s arm broke in the move. Got out the Gorilla, my go-to glue, and we’re off to the races), I explained, he said, “oh,” and off he trotted, back to his drawing business in the basement.

Me "ignoring" my tragic son and the broken trophy in exquisite detail.
Me “ignoring” my tragic son and the broken trophy, exquisitely detailed.

Rudi emerged a few minutes later with break-your-heart kitten eyes and a tiny, remember-your-son-you-computer-prioritizing-mother voice and presented me with the drawing above saying, “this is what just happened mom!” You can see me, beautifully illustrated with my long, graceful model’s legs (very accurate to life of course!) at my computer happily typing away, the statue, impressively  rendered from memory, with the broken-off arm to the left of it, and the hard-done-by Rudi on the far left — the first sad face and tears I’ve known him to draw! I had a pang, but mostly just screamed with laughter!

The actual trophy (hideous, I know, it's too good to hide!) with the arm now solidly back in place. I include it to show that Rudi really did a great job of capturing it in his drawing!
The actual trophy (hideous, I know, it’s too good to hide!) with the arm now solidly back in place. I include it to show that Rudi really did a great job of capturing it!

I’m happy to report that Rudi’s glum flipped to giggles and we had a laugh and another hug. And I asked him if I should hang out with him now but he told me no, he was busy with his drawing now thanks. Apparently I missed the boat. Note to self, step away from the computer next time and take just a minute longer with the boy. She says as she sits at the computer blogging about it, ahem … oh modern motherhood.

Served through art. This one’s on my bulletin board for good!

Threading the Needle, Hitting the Floor

A month ago I got moving again. It was about 16 months post-baby and I was suddenly so ready to move, stretch, find my body again beyond the cozy curl of nursing and snuggling and nurturing my wee boy. Funnily enough, it was the same trajectory with my first son, 16 months curved around him and his wee yet all-encompassing world, which was all I wanted to do, but then it was time, and now again, it is time. I’ve been taking classes with the lovely Sarah Lochhead and her Barrie dance company Simcoe Contemporary Dancers, remembering that I love to dance, simply and truly, it is my first and longest lasting passion.

photo (4)I’ve also been taking Moksha Yoga, hot yoga. Which, if you know me, is pretty amusing. Because til now I’ve liked yoga but never gone way out of my way for it, and I h-a-t-e heat. Being overheated is just about my worst nightmare. But I thought I’d give it the old  college try for the introductory month and (in my face) I love it. Absolutely. It’s been a revelation to find myself so fully and quickly, strength and flexibility roaring back into my limbs and core. It’s also resulting in some mental serenity here and there, a good balance with the mothering all day and the sewing in stolen moments.

photo (6)So I’ve been threading the needle on my machine and also “threading the needle” (a tangled-leg hip-opening stretch!) a lot of late and feeling good for it on both fronts. Stay tuned, the needle threading is resulting in some lovely burping pads for my Etsy store, due to open next week!

Quinoa Brownie Success (Avec Vegetables!)

I don’t often post about cooking or baking, because while I an a tolerably good cook and a moderately successful baker, I am not exceptional. I’m too busy crafting and choreographing! However, I signed up for Rudi’s school bake sale. I said I wouldn’t, trying to dial down the volunteering in order to focus on my own work, but then he filled in the form himself with mystery 4-year-old letters and I felt bad returning it without being a joiner.

Quinoa Brownies in the morning sun. Yes, it's true/obvious, I did indeed get an iPhone for christmas. And yes I'm currently obsessed with taking pictures of food and daily minutia on Instagram and Hipstamatic. It may or may not pass ...
Quinoa Brownies in the morning sun. Yes, it’s true, er, obvious: I did indeed get an iPhone for xmas. And yes, that’s correct, I’m currently obsessed with taking pictures of food and daily minutia on Instagram and Hipstamatic. It may or may not pass …

What to make? Well, I thought I’d try chocolate quinoa brownies I’d seen on the PC site! A lot of the comments said that they were too wet so I immediately added some psyllium and flax to mine to bulk them up. Plus Rudi can always use a bit of extra fibre (can’t we all?!). And I thought I might as well try adding some vegetable-matter as well, in a for a penny, in for a pound. They turned out great! They’re lighter in texture than a standard brownie but quite satisfying. I’ve made them a few times now and always play with the veggie/fruit content depending on what I have lying around.

Honestly, they’re not Rudi’s favourite. He’ll eat ’em sometimes but doesn’t adore them. However, adults seen to LOVE them! A bunch of the staff at his school all wanted the recipe (so now I’m a popular mom, operation-joiner was a success!) and when I typed it up I thought I might as well share it here too. So enjoy, play with it, tell me if your kids actually ends up loving them … if they don’t I’m pretty sure you will!

Paint Sample Valentine Bunting


Happy Valentine’s Day! Yes, the big V day is here and I do so love to embrace the day of love, not so much in the couple-y sense, but in the wider, appreciating the people and things around me sort of a way.

And it inspires all sorts of craftiness in people far and wide, which is so excellent!

I, along with the rest of the crafty world, have fallen for buntings in the past couple of years and envisioned this one just last week while standing in front of the paint samples at Rona. Didn’t know if I’d have time to make it happen but I squeezed it in, threading hearts in the driveway while my sons pretended to drive in my stationary car (side note/free parenting tip: this is an excellent way to buy some time, just let them sit in the driver’s seat and go go go til they’re spent. If the horn honks, it just spices up the neighbourhood). My husband brought in a couple of snowy, errant hearts that I’d dropped when he came home later, hazards of crafting on the go.


I adore paint samples. The the graduation in colour, the heavy texture of the paper, the free-ness, the often-ridiculous commercial names of the colours. Here are some good ones from this bunting: Irish RoseGrape Vineyard (is there any other kind?!), Satin Serenade, Ballerina Slipper (waaaay off, much darker than an actual ballerina), Very Pink (in case of confusion), Grape Jamboree, Vintage Violet (exactly as you’d imagine), Strawberry CrushFrankly Scarlet (could you settle for any other red after reading that?), Valhalla (Norse gods always make me think violent fuchsia, of course they do!), Canterbury Lane, Peppermint Pink (nice contrast in terms), RedfeatherPurple Polka (I’d take that dance), Vibrato, Regal Robe (just to end on operatic notes). Names aside, I simply find paint samples satisfying to look at. Plus they are a great, free art/crafting resource. One that I take liberal advantage of.

Here’s a little howto:

1: get yourself a big stack of purple and pink paint samples

2: cut out a heart template that fits on your paint sample. Since my samples were rectangle, I made a heart that fit twice on each page

3: cut out a lot of hearts!


4: hole punch 2 holes in each heart (that sounds so harsh!), one in each hump (that word alway sounds dirty to me …)

5: thread a ribbon or a piece of bias tape — I found some excess burgundy bias tape lying around that did the trick — and cut to desired length


6: thread ribbon through holes in hearts starting from back-to-front so that the heart looks “stitched” across the two humps


7: et voilà! Valentine bunting! And you can store it away for next year, leaving time for new love crafts …


Love Bugs Abound!

With Rudi in his first year of school, sharing Valentine cards en mass is suddenly an important issue in our household! I took to the internet searching for a non-commercial, non-saccharine option and I found this wonderful Love Bug Jar idea from Danyelle at Dandee Designs, who generously shared her template with the world (I highly recommend checking it out immediately).


Rudi is very excited about writing, he can make most letters, uppercase and lower, from memory when I recite them out loud to him in the order of a name, which totally, utterly astounds me. Such fast learning. Oh to be four!


He was very taken with the bug idea but didn’t want any “creepy” bugs, so we went with butterflies and ladybugs. He toiled away, writing his name on the back of each jar (after a love from by me because he declared that to be “too many words for a boy to write.”) and wrote the recipient names on every single jar card in just two sittings. So proud I have a major crafty-boy with super-craft-stamina on my hands!


He loved the glueing. I accidentally used wood glue that I thought was craft glue so it looks yellow — I guess that can be the creepy bit on these cards, and Rudi doesn’t care! I’d put a dot of glue down and he’d carefully place the bug, deciding out-loud which way it should face. He also decided we should use the same ink as colour of bug. I’d suggested opposite colours but he said, “same would be better for sure.” Fair enough! Ta-da — heaps of wonderful valentines for the class, now we’re working on more for cousins and friends.



And a little added love bonus from my friend Lindsay and her project The Love Lettering Project: she’ll send you a package of letters so you can spread your own anonymous love letters to the people, places, things that you love! You should totally do it! Click on the photo for more info:


Rearview Fridays: Potato Stamp Wrapping Paper

Ahhhhhhhh (sigh of comfort and decompression) I am back in the saddle — ish. Actually I’m more clinging to the edge of the saddle on the galloping horse that is my life, but none the less, I am here again. Our computer is set up in this new home on a new street in a new city, the internet is connected and it’s time for a Rearview Friday!


This one I’ve been  saving. Last year when I was home on mat leave with then 3-month-old Gene and 3-year-old Rudi we made potato stamp wrapping paper. We had time in the schedule, space on the table and walls (for drying, this is key!) and had a rip-roarin’ good time. I fully plan to do it next year when we are not moving in the middle of the holiday season, whew.


If you can believe it, Miss Crafty 5000 herself had never made potato stamps! So it was time. They were easy to carve and I bought lots of potatoes in case of mistakes. The snowflake was my runaway favourite design in print.


I ended up using the Mala drawing paper roll from Ikea. It’s cheap and maybe tears a bit too easily for wrapping paper, but I liked how soft the texture was, it held the paint well and dried quickly. And I used whatever tempera paint we had around, just spread it thinly on a plate and then stamped away! I ended up drying the paper by taping it to the walls. It looked beautiful, magical.


This was a great activity for a 3-year-old and also, ahem, for an adult! It felt extra special to clad our gifts in our original paper designs. And the stamps preserved pretty well for about a week. I kept them in a tupperware in the fridge with damp towels over the stamp cut-outs so they wouldn’t wither. Alas, this year it’s a mix of left-over wrapping paper from the drug store and brown paper, but I’ll dig out the fancy ribbon to jazz it up!


Headboard and the Angry Baby

Oh clever me. As the title suggests, this post is about a headboard. It’s not really about an angry baby, but an angry baby and a bolt of questionable inspiration at 3:17am during a 2 hour mystery screaming festival last night brought to me (unexpectedly) by my one-year-old and his sponsors did in fact lead to this brilliant title. I was lying beside my inconsolable son, vacillating between sympathy and rage, frustration and acceptance. During a period of apathy I was escape-thinking. My brain wandered to my blog and reminded me that I really should write about my headboard. I was composing brilliant, hilarious text in my head (if only I could remember it now) and I thought of this title. I felt very satisfied with myself. And yes it’s an homage to Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which has nothing to do with headboards or babies. But is a truly awesome play and movie.

So on to the headboard. I made a headboard. An awesome headboard! I was not planning to make a headboard. But earlier this fall we decided to sell our house and move north to a smaller city full of family, more affordable housing with big yards and enough rooms for me to have a workroom that’s not our dining room (yay!), closer to the cottage, still a city full of art, still close to Toronto for when we need a dose of big city goodness and the awesome people that live here.

Thus my plan to open an Etsy store and hang out my virtual/literal virtual shingle got back-burnered til we move and I can spread out into the permanent work room. My autumn days have been been filled with 1-year-old Gene and prepping the house for sale. And we really needed a headboard. I don’t like ostentatious, padded ones, but I do like a significant headboard. So husband Adam and I got some plywood, made a tolerable standing apparatus on the back and covered it with this AWESOME fabric from Ikea, which looks like the end of a wood pile.

Looks great huh? And we topped it off with a long lusted-after pin-tucked duvet cover from West Elm. Oh sigh, a grown up room at last! Our house is now on the market (sweet relief) and it looks so good. I am ridiculously proud of it and we are enjoying living in the serene, non-reality of the staged version of our home. Which reminds me, I have a date with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (so gross, so effective, so ruining my hands) and the Swiffer, then I gotta empty some garbages, boil some cinnamon sticks and exit the building. More next week about staging with small children if I can get it together, it is total insanity! Happy Friday, boil some cinnamon, your nose will thank you.

Rearview Fridays: Felt Pentagon Ball

I am excited about this Rearview Fridays post — it’s a very old project, I made this  felt pentagon ball when I was about 10! Earlier this year I wrote about some toys, balls and animals, that I’d made when I was in grade 4. And this is the ball I couldn’t find to include in that post, it’s the 5th toy I made that year.

This one is really precious to me, I was so proud of it. First I stitched the five-petaled flowers on each of the 12 pentagons and then sewed all 12 pieces together, by hand of course (it was Waldorf school after all)! It’s stuffed with fleece and has a bell in the middle. I’m sure there was a math lesson attached to this creation in addition to the sewing aspect! I do remember thinking I wanted to keep it for when I had kids (I was a planner!) and I managed that — both the having kids part and the keeping the ball bit! Gene and I tossed it around yesterday and he loves the bell.

I’m blowing kisses into the past towards my younger self, planning, stitching, filling a cold day with a delightful project, just as she would be 25 years later.