Be your kid’s Dream Maker (super hero cape tutorial)

One itty bitty question on one itty bitty page of one book made me examine myself as a Mama and Wife today. Jill Savage asks in her book My Heart’s at Home:

Are you a dream maker or a dream taker when it comes to your spouse and kids?

Hmmmm….good question. Have you had people take your dreams away in the past or the present? Sometimes those dreams are plausible ones and you wish that your loved ones would join in and help make them come true. Others will never happen, but you’d much rather find out on your own than to have Debbie Downer list all the ways you’re going to fail at your dreams.

Do I let my husband and my son find out on their own which ones won’t come true or do I rain on their parades? Do I try to help make some of them come true with the resources I have? If I give honest answers, I sure don’t like those answers.

Today I’m doing a little ‘dream making’ for James. (Perhaps cleaning up the mess afterward will move me one step forward to making Toby’s dream of a clean house come true.) James wants to be a super hero and fight bad guys. So I made him a super hero cape out of materials I already possessed: a t-shirt, scissors, Fabric Fusion glue, a piece of felt and Velcro. Here’s how you can make one too, step by step, easy peasy.

Step 1) Take all the dirty dishes off of your kitchen table and load them into dishwasher. Run dishwasher. Ask yourself why you’ve been putting that off all morning.

Step 2) Grab a t-shirt from your husband’s side of the closet. You may or may not want to tell him you are going to destroy his shirt. That’s totally your call. I gave mine notice.

My hubby's red sleeveless t-shirt

Step 4) Discover that your puppy pooped in the floor by the door while you were getting the t-shirt out of the closet. Question your sanity for bringing home a puppy on Christmas day.

Step 5) Cut a cape shape from the back of the shirt, being careful to go all the way around the front collar, leaving it intact with the rest of the cape. Don’t be a perfectionist, this is not an heirloom that your child will pass down to his kids and grandkids. Just freehand it and let it be what it is. It will be good enough, I promise.

Here's how it looks after you cut it.

*Step 5 & 1/2) Cut a small section of the neck out (based on your kid’s neck size) and use the Fabric Fusion to glue Velcro on the neck straps. You may have cut these Velcro pieces off of packaging that you were about to throw in the trash. Pretend this is because you are so super hip and eco-friendly, not because you are too tired to go to the store and buy Velcro. *ahem*

Attach the Velcro strips to the neck straps.

Step 6) Change the baby’s diaper and nurse her. Question why you didn’t get more accomplished before you had children. If only you knew then what you know now…

Step 7) Print ServingPinkLemonade’s template for the Superman logo. Use this to trace on yellow felt or whatever yellow fabric you have on hand. I’m not gonna judge. If you aren’t making a Superman cape, come up with whatever super hero logo you wish.

Step 8) Use Fabric Fusion to glue the logo onto the cape. After 48 hours, the cape will be washable, according to the bottle. If you prefer to sew the logo on, go for it!

Step 9) Find a cute lil super hero to put your cape on. Try to snap his picture while he’s running circles, pretending to fly and chasing bad guys.

Super James is off to save the day!

What are you waiting for? Go dig in your closet and make your Superman or Supergirl’s dream come true.

****UPDATE: Step 5 & 1/2 was added after a friend pointed out a choking concern. If someone steps on your kids cape, the Velcro will unhook and free your kiddo so he won’t get choked. Good thinking, Judy! You sound like you might have raised 2 rough and tumble boys yourself. ;-)****


Happy 2012! Let the organizing and painting begin!

Oh yes, dear friends, it’s that time of the year. When everyone kicks into “New Year’s Resolutions” mode. The exercising, healthy eating, home organization, and decorating begins now…and fades sometime in February.

I’m definitely “in mode” and hoping to see lots of projects through to completion. The first project I took on was to do something about my entry way. This just wasn’t working for me anymore.

Nothing says "Welcome to my home" like a pile of random shoes at the front door.

So I pulled a 6 shelf cubbie from James’ bedroom into my entryway. I’m not finished with it, but my budget (of $0) didn’t allow me to buy the coat rack and cute baskets just yet. Nonetheless, I think this re-purposed items setup is much better than the before, don’t you?

A place for shoes, hooray!

After this little project, as I totally re-oriented my living room, I got to thinking about a wall that was just blank. The cabin fever from staying home with sick preschooler and baby and new puppy started to really set in and I decided (on a whim) to create some artwork on the wall. Follow along and I’ll tell you how you can have a little crafty fun on your walls too!

Just an ordinary wall. And a sick kid in his pajamas playing Angry Birds.

First, find a design you like on the interwebs, then modify it to your heart’s desire. Blow it up and print it out. Use some scissors and tape, a little while later you’ll have a pattern to trace around.

Let your kids watch Netflix and hang out while you position your paper pattern.

After you trace your pattern with a pencil, I highly recommend going back over your outline with Sharpie. Do NOT tell anyone that you are writing on your walls with a Sharpie. Just do it. You have my permission.

Outlined with a Sharpie.

Then when you realize you only have red paint for your Cardinal bird (go STL!) and nothing else to paint with, make sure you have a fab.u.lous neighbor next door who will come to your rescue with some brown and black acrylic paints as well as a variety of paint brushes. Extra points if she tells you how awesome she thinks the whole project is. (Love you so much Kristina!)

"I am the vine; are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

And voila, there you have it! Custom art on your living room wall, or wherever you like it. For just a few dollars (or none if you already have the paint and brushes or have a neighbor who does) you can make your house a little prettier.

Finished branch

Much love to my friend Bethany who inspired the branch and the Scripture verse in the first place. You should see her branch on canvas that she painted, soooo adorable!

Also, is it a little bit wrong that I keep thinking about this episode of Portlandia whenever I see my wall? “Hi, I’m Joanna Samples. I put birds on things! See this wall? It needs sprucing up. Put a bird on it!

2012: The Year of Homemade Gifts

Thanks to inspiration from Pinterest and having made some gifts for Christmas, one of my New Years Resolutions is to see how many gifts I can make this year for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, etc.

Muno, Plex & Toodee pillows from Yo Gabba Gabba, made with felt

There’s something so much more intimate and cool about putting hours of work into a gift, rather than purchasing it at a store. Some of the most memorable and favorite gifts that I’ve received in my lifetime have been homemade. If you visit me, I’ll proudly show you the baby quilts, the crocheted blankets and scarves, the handmade jewelry, the art work that people have made for my family.

To kick off this “Year of Homemade Gifts,” here’s a gift I made for my sweet friend Jenn. She loves Hello Kitty, so this cake was perfect.

Hello Kitty Cake

Jenn blowing out the candles

Instead of going to the store to buy something she may already have or not necessarily need/want, my Mama and I tag-teamed on this present. Mama had the cake pan and cake mix, so she baked it and made the icing (isn’t she the best?). Then I decorated the cake and took it to Jenn. For less than $5 of groceries and an afternoon in the kitchen, we made something beautiful and tasty. Hopefully Jenn tasted the love that went into our baking project, because we love her so much!

Next up: Making a cute gift for my niece Myra. I’d love to show you what I found on Pinterest, but it will have to be a secret until after Myra’s birthday (at the end of this month).

Anyone else care to join me? Are you ready to abandon the retail stores and make your own gifts? My birthday is in June…🙂

Christmas on a shoe thread…How’d I do?

In November I wrote about how we were doing Christmas on a “shoe thread” budget this year. In case you were wondering how that went, here goes…

My initial assumption was that I needed to make all or most of the presents, so I budgeted $10 per homemade present. To my surprise, thanks to online shopping, there were some great gifts for less than $10 with free shipping or free site-to-store delivery! So that $20 Kre-O Transformers set I had my eye on? One day it was $7 on The Easy Bake Oven that was white and green (instead of the pink and purple ones) clearanced down to $5!

I also snagged some $20 Lego sets on a 2-for-$20 sale, a children’s watch for $3, and even a few add-ins from the Dollar Tree. Magazine subscriptions turned out to be my best friend–these ran me anywhere from $3-$5 for a full year subscription (to magazines like Bon Appetit, Better Homes & Garden, Ladies Home Journal, etc.). I gave away some items that I had purchased from a charity auction and bought some items from local momtrepreneurs.

There were a few homemade gifts here and there. Some pillows made from felt and pillow stuffing and sewing kits for our neighbors that said “I’m ‘sew’ glad we’re neighbors.” I had some of the supplies on hand to make these, and the rest of the items I had to purchase to complete them cost just a few dollars.

Muno, Plex & Toodee pillows from Yo Gabba Gabba

Sewing kit

Hope your Christmas was fun and maybe even frugal!

Hold your babies while they are still babies

Occasionally I get those comments, the “you-need-to-put-your-baby-down-you’re-spoiling-her” kind. Sometimes they are subtle, sometimes they aren’t. Its a pretty funny concept to me, thinking that I’m going to spoil my (almost) 5 month old baby by meeting her needs. No matter how many studies come out showing that babies need to be fed, changed, and have skin-to-skin contact frequently to thrive, the notion that we need to put the baby down and do our own thing (keep a perfect house, become a jiu jitsu black belt, conquer the world, etc.) continues to permeate our culture.

I’m not talking about trying to keep your child from growing up–certainly there is a time to let go of babyhood and celebrate your toddler. Neither am I advocating ignoring your other children or your obligations (those things still demand my attention often throughout the day). But while your baby is still a baby, hold him. Play with his little fingers and toes. Soak in those sweet smiles and giggles. Laugh at the unruly hair or bald head. This phase of life is short, there won’t be a re-do.

Last night Toby, James, Claire and I went Christmas caroling at a nursing home with 16 others from church and the international bible study. In the last room where we sang, we met a lady named Mary. Her eyes were closed, but the minute she heard Claire get a bit fussy she cooed, “It’s ok baby. You need to go to sleep. Come over here and I will hold you. I can rock you to sleep. It’s ok baby, you’re a gift from God.” I went over to Mary and touched her shoulder. She told me that she loves babies and had four of her own. “I miss’em so much.”

Someday, if the Lord allows me to live that long, I may be lying in a nursing home. I can’t imagine that I’ll be thinking, I spent too much time holding my babies. So I’m holding Miss Claire as much as I can today. Telling her she’s a precious gift from God all the while.

Advent, Jesse Tree, Paper Chain…it’s not too late!

In case you’re a procrastinator (like me) and you are kicking yourself that you didn’t make your own homemade Avent calendar or Jesse Tree–have no fear! It’s still December 1st and you can print out something today and get started with your family!

I’m loving this pretty purple and silver Names of Jesus Advent chain.

If your kiddos are into coloring, here’s some square ornaments they can color to make a Jesse Tree.

Money Saving Mom shares some links to 6 free printables for Advent.

If you’re not into doing Advent or Jesse Tree, here’s some free educational Christmas printables for preschoolers.


Goals Not Quite Reached

So, as you may have noticed, I didn’t quite make it to the end of November with my Giving Thanks series. Three little days here at the end flew by without my giving thanks on this blog or Facebook. I did, however, give thanks to some people in person so that will just have to be good enough.

The other big goal that I’m so stinkin’ close to is having all my Christmas shopping done before December 1st. I’m down to one last person (who is tricky to buy for) and my brain is just stumped. Rather than buy a crummy present, I’m gonna keep working on it until I find something this person will truly love and use. All gifts that needed to be shipped are shipped. None of the others are wrapped…but I am hoping to work on that this evening.

Tomorrow starts the Jesse Tree. And more Christmas decorating. Maybe even some baking. And trying to shake this head cold. Hope your day is a happy one!

My fashionable, easy peasy, thrifted tree skirt

What do you do when you have a $3 Goodwill skirt that is pretty, but not so flattering on your body type…


…and a naked Christmas tree?

Answer: You give the tree your skirt!


From cute skirt to cute tree skirt!

No sewing skills required. Just unzip, place skirt over the “feet” of the tree (this is much easier to accomplish before you get the rest of the tree put in place, ask me how I know), zip it back up and arrange. Ta da!

Do you have a unique tree skirt? Let me know about it in a comment.

Giving Thanks: November 25th

Today I’m thankful for crazy adventures. My husband and I got to go on a wonderful date to see “The Muppets” which I absolutely loved, by the way. Then we went to Best Buy and bought a microwave to replace our malfunctioning one. And finally, Jenn styled my hair, applied makeup on my face, dressed me up in a gorgeous wedding gown and shot photos in the woods. Sort of a “trash the dress” session without totally trashing it.

On our way to the photo shoot

Thank you to my mom and sister for watching my kiddos, my husband for flying by the seat of his pants along with me, and Jenn for asking me to be her model and making me look good. What a crazy, wonderful, unforgettable day.

Giving Thanks: November 24th

I am so thankful for my brother-in-law who made our turkey in the turkey fryer, my mother-in-law for making our desserts, my extended family for making us eat even more food, and the buttons on our jeans for not breaking off!

If you’ve never eaten a turkey from the fryer, you are missing out. Tommy has figured out how to marinate it perfectly so it’s flavorful and moist. We’re even making plans to do a Hawaiian marinade (ginger, coconut, pineapple, etc.) in the near future.

Enjoying my full tummy and getting ready to catch a nap before doing some Black Friday online shopping. 🙂