Takes the Cake

Well I had a lovely birthday.  Julius (and Will) made me a card that he was very proud of.  I knew he had made me a card because the day before my birthday Julius burst into the bathroom while I was brushing my teeth and said “I’m making YOU a card!” and then about faced and ran back to the room where he was making the card.  Then on my actual birthday he was so excited to give the card to me, that he thrust the card at me and said “here is your card”.  And then he shoved some ripped up circles at me and said with extreme excitement and pride “AND BALLOONS”.  Will had Julius color on a piece of paper, and he cut balloon shapes in the front of the card, so the colored in part showed through the balloons.  Apparently Julius had refused to let Will throw the cut out scraps away and insisted on coloring and giving the “balloons” to me with the card.  He was so proud.

Julius doesn’t quite understand birthdays.  He does understand that they involve cake.  I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that I made a cake for GISH and Julius kept asking if it was his birthday.  Well I made a cake for myself (because Julius would not have been convinced it was my birthday without one).  He eats cake very slowly so after I wolfed my cake down he told me “it’s my birthday!”  To which we replied that it was mama’s birthday and that’s why we were eating cake.  He looked at his plate and my plate puzzled and said “but I have cake, you don’t have cake”.  Interesting logic…

For Dada’s birthday we made a card using puffy paint!  Puffy paint was super easy to make and worked really well!  It was a bit hard for Julius to use at this age though, so I expect some more puffy paint is in my future when he gets older.  Julius told Will after we made the card “we made you a cake Dada”. Later today he was checking if the paint was dry and he told me he couldn’t wait to eat it.  That concerned me a bit, so I explained to him again that it was a pretend cake.  He didn’t seem convinced.  Maybe the real sprinkles were not a good idea.

Finished cupcake card!

Cupcake Toddler Card

What you’ll need:

  • shaving cream
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Plastic zip lock bag
  • Cardstock
  • Sprinkles or tiny beads/glitter
  • Cupcake liner
  • glue stick
  • white sticker paper (mine was scrap from some actual stickers)
  1. Fold piece of cardstock in half.  Mix equal parts shaving cream and Elmer’s glue in the zip lock bag to create white puffy paint.  Julius mixed this up by thoroughly squishing them around.  This in an of itself was a good activity.
  2. Cut cupcake liner to form a convincing isosceles-trapezoid 2-d cupcake liner shape.
  3. Have child glue trapezoid onto the bottom half of the card.
  4. Cut off a small part of the bag holding the puffy paint.  Have child squish paint above the cupcake liner as if frosting a cake.

    Concentrating very hard on his cupcake creation

  5. Have child sprinkle sprinkles, beads or glitter onto cupcake like sprinkles.
  6. Let dry 24 hours.
  7. The next day have child color the white sticker paper in color of choice for a candle.  Color a small patch orange for a flame.  Cut out a rectangle form the colored sticker paper for the candle, and a tear-drop shape on the orange part of the sticker paper for the flame

    Sticker paper post cut out from candle and flame

  8. Have child place candle and flame on card.

    Proud of his creation!

Voila!  It looks good enough to eat!  Just don’t let your child eat it.

Julius showing Dada the features of his card


Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 2 Comments


Well, dino week was a disaster.  Remember how I mentioned I’ve been doing themed weeks for Julius?  Last week was supposed to be dinosaur week, so I bought him a bunch of plastic dinosaurs and came up with a bunch of activities that utilized them.  The week started off okay.  On Monday we played with Julius’ magnetic dinosaur set and then Julius told me he wanted to fly.  So we made an impromptu pterodactyl cape and danced around to “Dinosaur Stomp” and “We are the Dinosaurs”.

Tuesday I brought out the “dinosaur dig site” I’d created out of some kinetic sand we’ve had for a while and 2 of the giant plastic dinosaurs.  I covered them up with just two tiny bumps sticking out and he stared at the sand warily.  He wanted to know what was sticking out.  I told him they were dinosaurs and I explained what paleontologists are, then told him he could dig them out to find out what kind they were.  (The dinosaurs came with a neat book with dinosaur facts and to identify the dinosaurs in plastic form and imagined prehistoric form.)  He started digging the first one, and unintentionally his shovel (spoon) scraped off some of the second dinosaur. He freaked out!  I don’t think he realized there were two different dinosaurs.  He basically refused to dig after that, and was terrified that they would jump out at him.  I tried a lot of different tactics over the next 3 days and managed to get him to dig one dinosaur out.  He was really excited with the dinosaur after he got it out of the sand and even took it to bed with him, but he refused to dig the second one out.  Finally, while he protested for me not to, I dug the second dinosaur up this past Saturday and gave it to him.  He went to sleep with this plastic dinosaur too.

It began at 7:24 AM like this…

2.5 hours later here we are…

What have we learned?  Julius is terrified of things hiding in sand.  Not dinosaurs themselves.  He hasn’t read Dune or anything yet to my knowledge, so I think he’s pretty smart.  Who knows when a sandworm might jump out of the playground.  We can also take away from dino-week that Julius loves stomping around like a dinosaur.  Plus the pterodactyl wings worked out great!  You can make some yourself too (for you or your child)!  I made these in about 10 minutes, with Julius watching/helping.

Spread those wings and fly

Pten Minute Pterodactyl Wings

What you’ll need:

  • ~ half a yard of scrap fabric – I used some blue fleece that my coworker gave to me.
  • about 2 feet of elastic (I know, this one is controversial in a time when we’re all conserving our elastic for masks… but my MiL was nice enough to ship me a roll of 110 yards of elastic…  You could instead use ribbon and tie the wings onto your child)
  1. Have your child put their arms out to the sides (as if they were flying – like the picture above) and measure your child from wrist to wrist.
  2. Mark this length on the top of your scrap fabric.
  3. Draw out a roughly dinosaur-wing shape complete with tail that extends about half the length of the wingspan (or measure from the nape of the neck to the child’s bum and use that measurement).  I found it easiest to make this symmetric by folding in half and then drawing and cutting.
  4. Cut 2 pieces of elastic 4″ long and 2 pieces 5″ long.  (Note, you may need to make this measurement larger or smaller.)
  5. Stitch one piece of 4″ elastic at either end of the wing tips, perpendicular to the top of the wings.  I folded the top of the wings down over one end of elastic and stitched in place, then tacked down the second part 1/4″ from the bottom of the elastic.
  6. Have child put on wings, and mark on the wings where their armpits are.
  7. Stitch 5″ elastic at the markings as in step 5.
  8. Let your little dinosaur be free.


Posted in Crafts & Sewing | Leave a comment

Let me tell you about nightmares

Julius has been struggling with nightmares lately.  Will just told me that every night before bed Julius asks, “Dada, will you take the nightmares away?”  To which Will responds, “of course”.  Will later said to me “what kind of father wouldn’t take away their child’s nightmares?”  Definitely not one even close to as good as you babe.

Speaking of nightmares and fatherhood, Will is getting ready to be a dad to baby number 2.  Which means I’m carrying around baby #2.  We’re really excited.  Though talk about a nightmare in terms of stress…  We found out I was pregnant 2 weeks before the outbreak started to flare in the US and I have been stressed ever since.  I’m a naturally stressed out person, even though I work really hard not to be (oxymoron?).  Unfortunately, this is a whole new level of stress.  Will, Julius and I haven’t gone anywhere, with the exception of me, who has only gone to and from pre-natal appointments.  My first pre-natal appointment was the first time I’d left the house in two weeks and I almost had a panic attack in the waiting room from anxiety.  When they got me in to check my vitals they told me my blood pressure was really high and I told them honestly that it was because I was terrified.

There is already so much to be terrified about during pregnancy, that lumping a pandemic into the mix is not so great downright shitty.  We’re really lucky that both Will and my jobs allowed us to work from home before, during and after stay-at-home orders were mandated.  Both companies will even continue to allow working from home through the end of the year.  On top of that, even before telling my co-workers I was pregnant, they all backed me up on being ultra-paranoid.  Many of them are doing the same thing.  And the best part?  My anxiety has gotten better.  I’m used to this weird parallel universe quarantine situation where I leave packages in the garage for 72 hours before touching them, strip down and shower whenever I come back from a jaunt in the contaminated outside world, and our only contact with neighbors is by shouting at them from across the street.  I feel pseudo-safe and content, like I’m living on a spaceship.

The problem now is that the economy is opening back up, everywhere.  Cue the return of anxiety.  The distressing part is that we all know the economy is not opening back up because we’ve kicked the pandemic in the butt, but because the current establishment doesn’t want to lose the next election for bringing about an economic depression.  But even though many people know not to trust the establishment, they are getting antsy.  They want to see their extended families.  They want to play with their grandchildren.  They want to leave their houses and go to a park with their children.  They want to bring their children back to daycare so they don’t have to juggle 8-9 hours of work a day with 12 hours of half-assed childcare.  I want all those things too, but I’m not ready yet.  I want to just stay in my spaceship with my two fellow astronauts until someone finds a vaccine.  Please just let us stay like this and don’t make us leave the house without a spacesuit, I really can’t handle any more stress.

One of the bonuses of being at home in my spaceship is I’ve started working on theme weeks for Julius.  We did crafts and activities about rainbows for 2 weeks in honor of pride month and now we’re onto dinosaurs.  Space and underwater will come next.  For Father’s day we paused the rainbow crafts for a day so Julius could help me make Yoda cards.  They came out so darn cute.  I haven’t seen this one before so thought I’d share it.  I tried to get Julius to put his hand print down in the ASL sign for “y” but he couldn’t do it.  It was kind of adorable.  We settled on painting just his pinky, thumb and palm and pressing the whole palm flat.  This worked great.

Yoda Best! Toddler Father’s Day Card

What you’ll need:

  • White cardstock
  • light green washable tempera paint
  • sponge
  • 2 googley eyes
  • small piece of brown construction paper (mine was recycled from the Totoro Tree, which was in turn recycled from a Halloween Tree)
  • glue stick
  • Elmer’s white glue
  • black marker
  • toddler
  1. Fold white cardstock in half to form a tall card.
  2. Have toddler open their palm then paint toddler’s palm, pinkie and thumb with the sponge and green paint.
  3. Press toddler’s hand onto the top front of card to form Yoda’s head.  Let dry.
  4. When Yoda’s head is dry, cut out proportionally sized robe for Yoda using scrap brown paper.  Have toddler glue robe on with glue stick.  (Julius loves glue sticks)
  5. Glue googley eyes in place by dotting Elmer’s glue and allowing child to press the eye in place. Let dry.
  6. When everything is dry, add “Yoda Best” in your best Star Wars-esque font.
  7. Give to your favorite dad/grandpa/great grandpa.

Julius was trying out the failed technique that we tried first. He had a lot of trouble keeping his fingers in the “y” shape.

Perfecting the second method.

Pressing down Yoda’s robe.

Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 2 Comments


Well it’s June, so I figure it’s high time I tell you how I the Easter Bunny made those slippers in Julius’ Easter basket.  In all honesty they aren’t my best work.  They are a bit uneven and wonky looking, but that doesn’t both Julius.  He is quite proud of his slippers.  In fact Julius is already outgrowing the slippers but he still likes to put them on and prance around the house.  Have I mentioned how making things for a toddler is really rewarding?

If I make these slippers again there are a lot of things I’ll do differently – mainly I’ll try to find a better way to attach the top to the bottom of the slipper because hand stitching is a pain.

Toddler Slippers

What you’ll need (size US 6 toddler slipper):

  • fat quarter size of fleece for inside
  • fat quarter size of “vegan suede”
  • Pattern here
  1. Cut out all pattern pieces as marked.  Note you will need to flip the pattern over to cut out pieces for the opposite shoe.
  2. Assemble the shoe sides.  Place long strip of leather on top of long strip of fleece, right sides together.  Pin the top and stitch.
  3. Open out and stitch the fold in half so leather ends meet and fleece ends meet.  Stitch down this side, following the edge (it will form a slight ‘v’) then trim.
  4. Turn right side out and stitch 1/4″ from the top to form decorative stay-stitching.
  5. Place sole of slipper on top of flannel sole, wrong sides together and stitch 1/4″ from the edges.
  6. Pin sole of slipper to sides of slipper, right sides together.  Make sure the end with the seam is towards the heel of the shoe.  Stitch.
  7. Place the leather for the top of shoe on top of the flannel.  Stitch around the toe end.
  8. Turn right side out, fold under the open end and stay stitch close to all edges.
  9. Place top of shoe onto the toe area of the slipper, so the flannel side is inside.  Hand stitch around the top of the slipper to attach it to the bottom of the slipper.  Leave a 1/2″ gap from the start and end of the top of the shoe, for ease of inserting one’s foot. 
  10. Repeat steps 2-9 for second shoe. 




Posted in Crafts & Sewing | Leave a comment

An Optimization Problem

I finished the closet!  I’m finally ready to show you the closet in all it’s glory.  Stupidly I didn’t take pictures of the closet before I started redoing it, but here are a couple candid pictures to show you how bad it was beforehand.

Trying on dresses for Andrew and Lauren’s wedding. Yes that is a pile of boxes of dresses I ordered.  Note the uneven piles of clothing on the shelves in the background.

Behind the child with the ear thermometer you will notice some of my maxi dresses forced to puddle on the floor.

And here’s some photos to show you how it looked halfway through (if the top of the closet looks neater it’s because I had already started organizing it after installing the shelves).

How could I possibly stack clothes high enough to make that above rack space on the left efficient?

The entire wall on the left was devoted to robes.

What I hated about the old closet is first and foremost that those stupid wire shelves were so slippery that things would fall through the cracks.  Second – we didn’t have any space for folded clothes, that’s why we had mountains of seasonal folding clothes on top of the racks.  Which brings me to problem three – the closet was a HORRIBLE use of vertical space.  As an engineer I wanted to maximize my storage area, so stacking things 5 feet high was the only way to do that.  Five foot stacks though are impossible to retrieve items from and prone to falling over (so now we have an efficiency problem).  Going back to the vertical space problem, since every hanger was at the same height all the way around the closet, there wasn’t a single space for me to put a long dress (problem four).  I had to confiscate one of the other closets in the house to store my long dresses and gowns in, or else let them puddle on the floor.  Which brings me to problem five – that I had absolutely no where to put my shoes except under our clothing.

What I changed…  Mostly I added shelves, and adjusted the heights of the racks.  I concocted a weird scheme that worked out perfectly to maximize space and fit everything we had in our closet all ready and much more.  I originally planned to build everything myself, but eventually decided to go with an Elfa storage solution.  I designed the entire thing myself though instead of talking to the people at the container store.  A word of warning, the Elfa stuff is frustratingly complicated to design with.  There is lots of fine print on what you need to install a single shelf, and very little information on how much clearance you need built into everything.  I actually had to put in a second order to install one set of shelves because the shelves did not come with these tiny clear tabs that are required to mount them.  They cost me $8 to order all of the plastic tabs for all 8 of my shelves, and $13 for shipping.  I was furious since I’d already waited 10 weeks for my shelving order to come in (and seriously… talk about nickle-ing and dime-ing people).  The upside to Elfa?  I could do my crazy quirky customization with a little bit of math, even on a closet that has 4 different wall heights and widths.

Shelves for folding clothes from floor to ceiling.  I also migrated my robes (and scarves hiding underneath) from the adjacent wall, to this spot where an ironing board holder stood.

On the first wall I took out the main rack holding Will’s clothes on the first wall and we had built in shelves installed.  This allowed us no problem getting into the room, and increased our folding clothes storage dramatically.  I also moved the hangers that were taking up an entire wall in the old closet over in front of the shelves where an ironing board rack had been (which never had an iron or ironing board on it the entire time we’ve lived here).

More pictures of the folding clothes storage, and the high/low clothing rack.

The second wall I divided into two sections.  The first was a high/low section for Will’s clothing, which fit all the hanging clothes from the clothing rack we removed.  Next to that I placed a normal-height rack for additional clothing.  Above that section I added two rows of shelves to house my purses.  Doesn’t that just make your engineering brain happy?  It is a way better use of vertical space.

High/low rack plus purse storage.

In the back you can see my dress rack surrounded by hanging storage and shelving.

On the third wall, tucked behind my clothing rack, shoe racks and purses, I installed a small bar for tall hanging dresses.  This space was basically useless last time because it was where two rods intersected.  The rest of that wall I kept at the same height as last time.  I even left a single shoe rack under there.

My shoe wall in all it’s glory.

On the fourth wall (formerly where we hung almost-never-used robes) I put in a floor-to-ceiling shoe rack, which is really just narrow shelving spaced close together.

What do you think?  Does it look like a mad engineer’s project?  All I know is every time I walk into my new closet I smile.



Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 6 Comments

Virtual Ladies’ Night

I spent the past weekend doing a one day version of an online scavenger hunt that my sister in law Erin has been doing for years, called GISH.  It was lots of fun, but also lots of work!  You’re required to do/create lots of silly stuff and post links to videos and pictures for “points”.  The points don’t really matter it seems, but I guess the best photos/videos get street cred.  I picked multiple activities that involve making masks because conveniently I had made mask patterns a couple weeks ago.  I don’t know about you, but I really do think this style of mask is going to come into fashion any day now – and you saw it here first!

My high fashion mask – for all those socially distanced balls you’ll be attending.

Julius loved watching all the videos from the competition – but this one he asked to watch about 100 times calling it “the swingy thing”.  He got to see the whole thing live too, and was very disappointed that after his nap I wouldn’t do it again.  He did seem very confused about the reason I was baking a cake and letting him eat it though.  Julius asked multiple times “is it my birthday?”  To which I had to explain that we were just having a cake for fun.  He got more confused when I showed him this video we made even after I assured him it was not my birthday.  My favorite thing about Julius right now is the phrase “this is SO MUCH FUN” which he squeals with delight in his adorable little toddler voice whenever we are doing something that he thinks is grand (being made into a human burrito, being pushed around on the dog footstool, going in the paddleboat etc).  It is adorable, but we have not managed to capture it on camera yet.

Speaking of fun – I finally held another ladies’ night!  This one was completely virtual, and involved a craft that I was able to mail and which each person could accomplish without any specialized equipment.  It also involved things I already had around the house, so I didn’t have to order anything to make it possible.    Though it took more preparation beforehand for the craft, it was infinitely easier because I didn’t have to plan food.  I did plan out my own personal beverages though and they were well worth it…


I wanted the invitations to be slightly mysterious and keep the craft a surprise.  I didn’t tell anyone I was sending the invitations out, so it was fun to get messages from people when they received them!  You’ll notice I didn’t put an RSVP because I’d already done the prep work and it didn’t matter for logistics how many showed up (though I hoped everyone would of course).


I made up mailers for each invitee (19 total) consisting of the craft packet and invitation.  The weight of each in an A2 envelope, and accounting for hand sorting required because of the lumpiness from the beads, required $.76 of postage (in 2020).  I slapped on a postcard stamp and a first class stamp because that was all I had, wasting 14 cents a card!  A small price to pay to keep the postal service going!

For each guest you will need:

  • 20 beads in one color
  • 12 beads in a complementary color
  • 18″ of nylon cord
  • 12″ of nylon cord
  • tiny zip lock bag
  • invitation printed on 1/4 sheet of 8.5″x11″ cardstock
  • A2 envelope

Package beads and cord up in a zip lock bag, place in A2 envelope with invitation.  Affix postage, accounting for hand cancelling for non-machine sorting.  In 2020 this was 76 cents.

Hosting Technology

I decided to use Google Hangouts instead of Zoom because I’ve been using Hangouts for years, and it is free.  For me the audio and video was great, but most people are more familiar with Zoom at this point and it made things slightly complicated.  I’m not sure what I’d use next time.

Everyone busy at work, while I share my knot. Note Emma’s casual use of fire looking badass. Thanks to Ka for this photo!


We always have wine at ladies’ night so I encouraged everyone to BYOW this time.  I chose a couple of mocktails that were downright delicious.  The first one I whipped up right before the party started, the other I made in advance and stuck in the fridge until my pina colada ran out.

Craft project

I lead everyone through a tutorial of how to make a Morse Code bracelet.  It took about 2 hours total, and I’d guess about 75% of the people finished it on the call.

Here’s my written tutorial if you want to try it yourself!

Everyone holding up their finished (or sort of finished) bracelets!

Closing remarks

It was fun to see everyone, and I think most people had fun doing the craft.  I’m happy so many people turned out for it!

The only downside is that there wasn’t as much chatter as usual for a ladies’ night.  It was mostly a craft project and there were A LOT of people on the call.  (It’s hard to have side conversations on a conference with 12 people.)  It sort of reminded me of a paint nite, where you don’t have much time to side chat because you’re so busy finishing your painting.  Several ladies stayed after the craft to chat and that was definitely the most enjoyable conversation of the night.

Erin’s lovely bracelet! I love how she put the knots between each letter… so you can actually decode it!

Mary showing off her lovely bracelet!

Mary’s bracelet – back view – it came out perfect!

My finished bracelet.

Posted in Crafts & Sewing, Parties | Leave a comment

A Tiny Morse-l

We had a fun weekend, finally getting to spend some time outside as a family!  On Saturday we did a short hike and then had a picnic at a secluded spot on top of a rock outcropping.  Saturday we went to the tiny local airport near us and sat at a picnic table near the runway watching the planes during lunch.  We even got to see a little cessna land, right before we got up to go!  Julius declared afterwards, “I love airplanes”.

On top of all that, I hosted an online ladies’ night and got to see all my friends!  It was lots of fun and worked out pretty well. But I’ll talk about planning for that next week!  This week I’m going to give you the how-to for the craft I chose for ladies night.  These Morse code bracelets are super cute and also secretly super nerdy!  I’ve made several versions to wear together and I also made versions of these bracelets for mother’s day.  Fun fact – Ezra Cornell (Uncle Ezra) made his money in the telegraph industry and was friends with Samuel Morse.  The ECE department at Cornell (my alma mater) has the telegraph that received the first telegram.  They bring it out every year at the graduating senior ceremony and as an ECE graduate I got to touch it!  Super cool.

Here is the silly card I made for Mothers Day. I attached the bracelet to the card by poking two holes, and pulling part of the bracelet through each hole, and tying in the back of the card with string.

Morse Code Bracelet

What you’ll need:

  • 1mm nylon cording cut into a 12″ and 18″ segment (I used this)
  • 2 colors of glass beads in size 6/0 (I used these)
  • A lighter
  1. Choose a short word or phrase.

    This is an example of one I did – but note I screwed up in the translation, the bracelet is correct… “r” is .-.

  2. Convert into morse code (use this if you don’t feel like thinking, this if you do.)
  3. Convert morse code into beads… I used two dark color beads for a ‘-‘ and one gold bead for a ‘.’.  Note there is no differentiation between letters, so this bracelet will be tricky to decode… but you will know what it says!
  4. String your beads onto the 18″ long cord, careful not to let them slip off.  If you have trouble stringing them, you can place one end of the cord near a flame to melt it and gently press it so it will not unravel when trying to thread your beads.
  5. Fold 18″ cord with beads in half so beads are in half as well.  Where one end of the beads is, tie a knot.
  6. Let beads press firmly against the knot and tie another knot as close as you can to the other end of the beads to prevent them from sliding around.  Use the pearl knotting technique to achieve the tightest fit.
  7. Next, we are going to create a sliding knot using the 12″ cord.
  8. I think this tutorial is the best.  Start by overlapping the ends of the 18″ cord.  Then form a small loop in the 12″ cord and place on top of the overlapped 18″ cord ends.
  9. Take the long end of the looped 12″ cord and wrap it around the other 3 cords 5 times, keeping the loops consecutive.
  10. Thread the long end of the looped cord back through your 5 wrappings.
  11. Gently pull the long end of the looped 12″ cord and the short end of the looped cord until the coils tighten forming a knot.  You want the knot tight enough that there is tension on the cords to hold the bracelet in place.
  12. Tie the bracelet cords together lightly to mark them so you don’t accidentally touch them. Finish off the ends of the 12″ sliding knot cord by pearl knotting very close to the end of each side of the knot.  Trim ends to 2 mm.

    Knots on end of sliding knot before trimming.

  13. Use lighter to melt end of the pearl knots in step 12 so they don’t unravel.  Note you barely need to put the cord near the flame to melt it.
  14. Untie the bracelet cords that you were setting aside.  Adjust the bracelet size to where it will fit easily on and off your wrist.  Make sure the knot and Morse code beading are both centered.
  15. With the bracelet expanded to where it will fit on your wrist, tie a knot close to where one bracelet thread leaves the sliding knot.
  16. Add an additional bead, and then tie a second knot as close as possible to the bead.  Trim to 2mm and melt the ends.
  17. Repeat steps 15&16 for other end of bracelet cord.
  18. Voila!


Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 2 Comments

Remember 2020BC

I have to cut myself off from the internet!  Instead of writing this blog post I spent an entire hour searching the internet for the latest coronavirus data.  Yuck.  Talk about a downer.  You know what else is a downer?  Working weekends.  More yuck*.  It seems like I’ve been in this crunch time at work my entire adult life (it literally started the day stay at home orders were put in place).  So I guess it’s been about 20-25 years or so.  My co-worker started referring to dates before the coronavirus as “2020BC” for “before coronavirus” since as we all know there is some time dilation going on here.  I thought that was hysterical.  I guess that would make us right now “2020CE” for “coronavirus era”.

I’m nostalgic for things to go back to normal, but I am jumping on the “I’m not leaving my house until we have a vaccine train”.  I don’t know if one of those trains exists yet, but if not, you can jump on mine – just make sure you wear a mask and stand 6 feet away from me.  Speaking of masks, I finally made some cloth ones.  Massachusetts is requiring mask wearing now, so I figured it was past time.  Only one for each of us so far since I’m still experimenting with designs.  Julius got to pick out his fabric.  For this first batch I decided to make the quicky surgeon-mask type covering.  I also added a pocket so I could insert some additional protection as desired.  (If you craft along with me – you’ll have some leftover oly-fun which is a non-woven synthetic and thus slightly better protection against viruses).  The maiden voyage went well apparently.  According to Will Julius wore his mask the entire walk today!

There are a lot of tutorials out there, so I’ll show you first how I measured Will and Julius for the covering, and then how to construct it. 

Multi-sized Pocket Mask

What you’ll need:

  • 1 foot or less of 1/2″ or 1/4″ elastic (I reclaimed several feet of 1/2″ elastic from the fitted sheet I used to make Totoro)
  • less than a square foot of woven cotton fabric
  1. Measure from the bridge of the nose to the underside of the chin where it meets the neck.  Add 1″. This will be measurement “A”.
  2. Measure from ear to ear, crossing over the tip of the nose (or the part of the nose that protrudes the most if not the tip).  This will be measurement “B”.
  3. Cut two rectangles out of cotton material.
  4. Decide on the height of your mask.  This part I fudged a bit.  You’ll want it slightly larger than the size of your ear, but much smaller than measurement “A”.  About half the size of measurement “A” is a safe bet.  Call this measurement “C”.
  5. Iron your fabric in half lengthwise to mark the center, then fold a single box pleat up to the center, leaving your fabric height “C” high.  Baste on either edge. 
  6. Repeat above for second piece of fabric, but make a box pleat on the wrong side of the fabric (an inverted pleat).
  7. Fold short end of one rectangle under 1/2″.  Stitch.  Repeat for second rectangle. 
  8. Place fabric rectangles, right sides together, with finished ends matching. 
  9. Stitch long edges of rectangle.
  10. Cut two pieces of elastic.  This is when it would be good to determine how the mask fits on your face to this point.    I would start with elastics 5″ each
  11. Place one piece of elastic inside the mask, on the unfinished end.  Line the elastic up to match the unfinished end of the elastic to the unfinished end of the rectangle, right next to the stitching on the long end of the rectangle.  Pin. 
  12. Repeat for other end of the elastic, on opposite end of the same unfinished side.  Make sure your elastic isn’t twisted.  Pin and stitch entire unfinished side backstitching at elastic.
  13. Turn right side out.  This part is easier.  Place unfinished end of elastic into opening on pocket end of mask, close to the the seam on the long end. Stitch, backstitching over entire end of elastic.  Repeat on far end of pocket, taking care to avoid twisting the elastic. 

Finished Mask!

He’s saying “cheese” under that bandana.

*I know, I know working weekends sucks, but I am lucky to have a job!

Posted in Crafts & Sewing | Leave a comment

To all the baby’s mamas’ mamas

Hello dear friends!  I hope all you mother’s had a great mother’s day!  I definitely did!  On top of taking care of Julius and buying me some lovely presents, Will even made me dinner!  It was delightful.  Julius made me a card and a cute heart picture and gave me lots of hugs and kisses.

The little man had an exciting day as well, because he got to go to MooMoo Town (Davis Farmland) on a car safari to see MooMoo Town (Moo Moo the cow) and other farm animals.  They opened the road outside Davis Farmland for a member’s only event since the park has not yet opened and would have opened for over a month now…  Julius asks us weekly if MooMoo Town is opened yet and is sad (but very understanding) when we tell him they are closed because they can’t risk getting the animals sick.  So when we told him we were going to go on a safari to see the animals, Julius interpreted that as “checking on the animals”.  The first animal that we asked him about checking on?  “Crocodiles” was his reply.  (They do have alligators which are basically the same.)  First animal he mentioned when asked what he saw on the safari?  “Crocodiles”.  They did not have any crocodiles (or alligators) out for the safari.

Since we’re trying to avoid leaving our house, Julius and I made the moms in our family cards and gifts for Mother’s Day. I will show you the gifts in a later post, but today I’ll show you the cards that Julius made for everyone! 

Mother’s Day Card – Toddler Craft

What You’ll Need

  • Reused tissue paper (don’t use new, you’re just going to crumple it anyway!  I’ve been saving it for use in kids crafts like this!)
  • Construction paper in your choice of color
  • Glue
  • Glue Stick
  • Cardstock
  • Gold Sharpie Paint Marker
  1. Rip tissue paper into squares roughly 1.5″x1.5″.  Julius enjoyed this part.
  2. Fold Cardstock in half to form a card.
  3. Cut a vase shape (mine looks more like a cauldron) out of the construction paper.
  4. Have child apply glue stick to the back and then apply to card.
  5. Have adult apply glue above the vase all over.
  6. Have child take a square of tissue paper and crumple it into a ball.

    Julius is carefully crumpling

  7. Apply crumpled “flower” to the glue.

    Julius applying flowers to card.

  8. Repeat until desired bouquet is completed.  Let dry completely.
  9. Have adult write “Happy Mother’s Day” on the vase/cauldron.


Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 2 Comments

Under Wraps

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous!  We’ve been eating dinner on our screen porch the last two nights and loving it!  It feels like early summer – I don’t know whether to be worried or enjoy it so I’m doing both.

Instead of enjoying the outside as much as possible, I’ve been spending my spare time inside my closet, where I cannot possibly see the outside.  Right before the pandemic I started redesigning our closet, and after deciding I didn’t feel like building everything from scratch I finally caved and ordered a whole bunch of Elfa shelving from the Container Store.  I’ll talk about the closet design in a later post, but it’s been 5 weeks since I ordered and I’m still missing 1/4 of it so who knows when it will actually be finished.  It was poor planning to order shelving at the start of a pandemic.  On the bright side, I managed to get everything back in the closet except shoes and only have one wall left to go!

Julius has wanted to help with the closet.  Yesterday after his nap he refused to go hang out with Dada while I was using power tools.  He just wanted to sit in the closet and watch me work.  I explained to him the importance of wearing safety goggles and some other safety measures and then he asked to help me.  I let him put the end caps on the clothing rods we purchased, but before he did so he picked up a pair of safety goggles and put them on.  Smart man.  They were huge, so they kept falling off his face while he tried to put the end caps on.  One hand on the glasses, on hand on the end cap (though adorable) wasn’t particularly productive so I finally held them onto his face.  I’m proud he listened to how important eye protection is.

Speaking of protection, the other day I had to go get some bloodwork done so I wore my P99 workworking/painting mask (I haven’t gotten around to making any masks yet).  To make it look less ridiculous (this is the exact model I have) I wrapped one of my pashmina scarves around it to cover it up.  I figured it would make it look less weird. When I got into the office the receptionist took one look at my face and then asked if I wanted a mask.  I said that I was okay, and she said “are you sure?” and then gestured to my scarf laden face.  I quickly told her there was a respirator underneath.  I’m not sure she believed me but when I left the office and looked in the car mirror I burst out laughing.  I might have hidden the respirator too well… someone may very well imagine I had wrapped my face 6 inches thick in scarves.

Anyway, my pashmina scarf worked great!  Good thing too because I have about 25 of them.  I love them.  Everytime I go to NYC or someone I know goes to NYC I ask them to get me a new one in a different color scheme.  Paisleys are my favorite!  Anyway – I decided to make an impromptu hanger last weekend to organize all my scarves.  I used a shoelace, a 3/4″ diameter dowel and shower curtain hooks I had bought at a thrift store and never ended up using.  IT WORKS GREAT.  I highly recommend it, and it is stylish too.

Hanging Scarf Holder

What you’ll need:

  • ~2.5 feet of 3/4″ dowel
  • 1 long thick shoelace (4′ long)
  • shower curtain hooks or curtain hooks with alligator clips
  1. Decide where your scarves will hang and measure the horizontal space.  Cut off 6″ from that measurement and cut your dowel down to that size.
  2. Drill 1/4″ holes through the dowel 1″ from each end.  Sand
  3. Thread one end of shoelace through one hole, and other end through other hole.
  4. Pull shoelace on each side through the holes until the bottom forms a half circle. Knot the laces above the dowel.
  5. Knot the ends of the shoelace together.
  6. Clip alligator clips of the curtain hooks onto shoelace at equidistant intervals.  You’ll need as many hooks as you have scarves.
  7. Thread scarves through the circle of the curtain hook where the rod would normally go.
  8. Hang.
Posted in Crafts & Sewing | Leave a comment