Super Mom – No Cape!

One mother sharing her knowledge with others

Christmas Eve Traditions

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on December 21st, 2014

Earlier this month, I received an e-mail from the Marketing Director of Patience Brewster wanting to know if I would be interested in participating with other bloggers in sharing some of our Christmas traditions.

Long time readers will know that for many years we were a military family (my husband Dave served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 25 years before retiring in August 2000.) We were often posted far away from our extended families. Rarely was it possible for us to have the traditional Christmas of spending the day with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The holiday traditions that we adapted/created beginning when our children were very little came to be one of the anchors that they depended on year to year.

I’ve shared some of those traditions in the past during my Christmas on a Budget Series which also includes tutorials for making gifts and decorations.

One of the traditions we adopted and adapted to our needs was from Dave’s childhood. Dave and his brother and sisters were allowed to open one gift each on Christmas Eve. The rest couldn’t be opened until Christmas morning. That one gift was from his paternal grandparents and it always contained new pajamas.

When our children were little and it became apparent that neither of Dave’s parents was going to continue the pj tradition, Dave and I decided to give it our own unique twist.

Christmas Eve would not be Christmas Eve in our house without our drive around the neighborhood after supper to look at all the beautiful light displays. Without fail, once everyone was in the car ready to leave, I discovered that I’d “forgotten” my purse in the house and would have to run back in quickly.

Also without fail, when we returned home, under the tree would be three small identically wrapped packages… one for each child marked:

From the Elves

Inside the packages were new nighties or pajamas.

“Oh,” we’d say, “Santa did came by but there were no children in bed asleep, so his elves left pjs for you. Hurry and get bathed and into your new jammies and after story time it’s off to bed so that Santa can come back.”

Later, once they’d set out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer and were tucked in bed with the lights out, goodnights said, Dave and I would finish preparing for Christmas morning. Throughout those preparations we’d hear whispers and giggles coming from the children’s rooms.

However, if this went on too long, Dave would sneak outside, ring a set of sleigh bells and then rush back inside and call upstairs, “Did you hear that? That was Santa going by. He can’t stop until you kids are all asleep.”

Sleigh Bells

Sometimes it took a couple of bell ringing sessions before all was quiet in their rooms. We would sneak up and peek inside their door to make sure they were asleep. Then it was time for Santa to come.

The next morning when the children woke up they would find only cookie crumbs on the plate and carrots with bite marks nibbled out of them. And of course the stockings would be filled and gifts under the tree that had not been there the night before.

Our children are all grown now. This year, only our middle daughter and son will be with us for Christmas.  And while Santa doesn’t visit anymore… this year, as in years past, when we go out for our drive to see the lights I will forget my purse in the house and then we return we will find that in our absence The Elves have made their yearly visit.

Gifts from the Elves


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Posted in Christmas on a Budget Series | 2 Comments »

Two Super Quick Gifts

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on December 19th, 2014

Since finishing the Trellis Quilt, my new office/sewing room has been turned into Santa’s workshop. I can’t show you the gifts I’ve made for our children until after Christmas because they each read my blog. But I checked with our oldest daughter and future son-in-law only reads it if she shows him a post, so I’m safe sharing a photo of his handmade gifts.

With the expense of the move, gifts this year are small and as much as possible I’m trying to make them from what I have on hand.

Future son-in-law had asked for a fleece hat to match the scarf I made him a few years ago for Christmas. I had just enough grey fleece scraps left to make the one pictured below.

fleece hat and covered journal

The tutorial I used can be found here.

Even if you’re not interested in the pattern, click on over and read through the post.  The work those ladies (and gentlemen) are doing sewing these hats for charity is amazing!

But if you are looking for a super quick gift to make this hat fits the bill. Not counting the time to cut out the pieces, it only took me about 15 minutes with the serger to have a completed hat.

I’ve got quite a bit of fleece in a variety of different colors leftover from other projects and after the Christmas rush is over, I plan to make a bunch more to donate as our coldest months will soon be upon us here in Canada.

The journal cover was also a fairly quick project completed in a little over an hour. To make it, I took tips from several different on-line tutorials. I plan to post my own tutorial in the New Year giving exact measurements for covering a standard composition book.  Most tutorials I read gave measurements that were way to big, leaving you with huge seam allowances to trim away.  When you’re working with scraps, every 1/4 inch (sometimes every 1/8 inch) counts.  The journal above for instance… I had just enough of that dragonfly fabric for the front cover.

I still have a few more gifts to finish making.  Thank goodness Dave has taken over the Christmas cookie baking this year!

How is your Christmas gift making/buying coming along?



Note: About a month and a half ago, my e-mail newsletters stopped being delivered to subscribers as they were supposed to. It’s taken lots of time by my web designer extraordinaire working with both the server and the plug-in support teams but we think we might have found a solution. So fingers crossed that this post goes out to all subscribers as scheduled.


This post has been added to the following link parties:

Finish It Up Friday

Ho Ho Ho and On We Sew

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Posted in Christmas on a Budget Series, Sew easy projects, Sewing | 2 Comments »

Vintage Embroidery Monday – Holly and Candles

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on December 15th, 2014

These Holly and Candles patterns would look so pretty embroidered on a matching set of Christmas napkins, tea towel and tablecloth increasing the size of the pattern used to match the item being embroidered.

vintage Holly and Candle pattern in three sizes The pattern for the candles is available as a pdf to download here.

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Posted in Embroidery | No Comments »

A Really Satisfying Finish!

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on December 12th, 2014

Today’s finish has been a long time coming and is all the more satisfying because of that.

I started this quilt back in April of 2009 as part of a quilt-a-long hosted by Amanda Jean over at crazy mom quilts. The idea was to sew one nine-patch block per day. By July, I’d completed the 70 nine patches needed for the quilt and then those blocks sat until November 2009 when I finally figured out how I wanted to lay them out.

It then took until May of 2011 before I got around to making a back for the quilt. I used a white thrifted sheet to which I added a row of leftover fabrics from the quilt top. I also added three appliqué hearts to cover some small stains that were on the sheet.

Then it was time to sandwich and hand-baste the quilt.

Once again the quilt got folded and set aside while I tried to figure out how to quilt it.

In the meantime, Dave’s contract with the company he’d been working for in the US since 2003 ended. He did have another job offer at the time but it wasn’t due to start for a few months so we had to return to Canada in order not to violate the terms of his work visa. Everything was packed up and moved into what we thought was going to be temporary storage.

Three years and many adventures later plus a major move just completed and I rediscovered the quilt packed in the same box as the cabinet that houses my Singer 15-91.

The last week and a half has been spent quilting and binding it. I finished hand sewing the last stitch of the binding at 2 am this morning.

I should probably have waited until a sunny day to photograph it but Amanda Jean is hosting her Finish It Up Friday link party today and what more appropriate finish than to share a quilt that got its start on one of her quilt-a-longs.

The quilt finished at approximately 66” X 89”. Dave had to stand on top of something to hold it up.

Trellis Quilt finished

One of the ladies who pinned a photo of the quilt top  called it a Trellis quilt so I’ve decided that’s what I’m going to name it when I have time to embroidery the label for it.

Those hearts make such a cute addition to the back.

Back of Trellis Quilt

Here’s a close of the simple yet effective straight line quilting.

Close up of Trellis Quilt

And a close up of the cute rainbow dotted fabric I used for the binding:

Binding on Trellis Quilt

I’m hoping that because all the fabrics were pre-washed that it doesn’t shrink too much after it’s done washing and drying. (Three years in storage and it does need to be freshened up to be ready for company.) The quilt is more than long enough for the full sized bed it will be gracing but there’ll only about a 5 inch overhang on the sides. I’ll post a photo once I have the guest bedroom company ready.

And now it’s back to working on gifts. I can’t believe Christmas is less than 2 weeks away!


This post has been added to the following link parties:

Finish It Up Friday

Show and Tell Tuesday

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Posted in Quilting, Sewing | 5 Comments »

Vintage Embroidery Monday – Ornaments

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on December 8th, 2014

This week I have a Christmas ornament design in three different sizes for you to stitch.

Vintage Christmas tree ornament pattern in three sizes

The pattern for the vintage ornaments is available as a pdf to download here.

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Posted in Embroidery | No Comments »

FNwFs – Working on the Nine Patch

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on December 7th, 2014

On the first Friday of every month, Cheryll over at Gone Stitchin hosts Friday Night with Friends where people from around the world sign up for an evening of crafting.  And then over the weekend everyone posts about what they worked on.   It’s been ages since I’ve joined one of these Friday night virtual get togethers but as I’m wanting to finish that nine patch quilt I mentioned in this post, I thought it would be great motivation for me to keep quilting away on it.

I haven’t quilted very many full size quilts so I underestimated the amount of time it would take me to quilt it.  I had thought that if I joined the ladies on Thursday evening (Friday evening down under) and then again on Friday evening in my part of the world that I would be able to finish all the lines that run across the quilt.  But it actually took those two nights, plus a good part of Saturday to complete them.

And then Saturday evening and today were spent burying all the threads before I start on the lines that will run up and down the quilt.  Burying threads is my least favorite part of quilting.  I try to break that task up so that I don’t have it all to do at once.

Here’s a couple of photos of the quilting so far.

Nine Patch quilting in progress

Close up of straight line stitching on Nine Patch quilt.

Nothing fancy… just straight line quilting on either side of the seams using the edge of the walking foot as a guide.    I’m hoping that two more days of quilting (with breaks in between) and I’ll be able to start binding it.

If you want to see what everyone else worked on, pop over here.


Posted in Quilting | 1 Comment »

Christmas Pips

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on December 5th, 2014

For those long road trips earlier this month in the car and then in the moving truck, I made up little “kits” for making some Christmas Pips using the same pattern as my Thimble Pip Tutorial.

Or at least that was the plan. I was able to work on them on the way down in the car, but I discovered that trying to sew in the rougher ride of the moving truck was hazardous to my fingers. After poking myself several times, I gave up and spent that leg of the trip reading.

I did manage to get four of the smaller 1.5 pips done and have been working to finish the rest in the evenings after we finished either unpacking or cleaning for the day. Some of these need to go in the mail in order to arrive in time for Christmas so this morning I added the hangers and took all of them outside to photograph on the evergreen in the front yard.

These first two Christmas Pips were made using 2.5 inch outer forms.

Santa Christmas Pip

Red & Gold Christmas Pip

The rest of the pips were all made using 1.5 inch outer forms.

Frozen Christmas Pip

It wasn’t my intention when I chose this fabric, but after I finished it I realized that this would be the perfect ornament to give a little girl who loves the movie Frozen.

Cardinal Christmas Pip

Tree Christmas Pip

Light Bulb Christmas Pip

This Pip has a different colored light bulb on each side.

Three Fabric Christmas Pip

For this Christmas Pip, I used a different fabric for each side and then embroidered a herringbone stitch along two sides but not on the side that opens.

I had so much fun picking out the different fabrics to use to make these. The only difference when making them as opposed to making the Thimble Pips is that you want to make sure that if you’re fussy cutting a novelty fabric, position the print vertically on the pip rather than horizontally.

Tip when using lighter weight fabrics:  Adding lightweight fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric prevented the plastic from poking through at the pointed ends.

These last two Christmas Pips, you may have already seen without their hangers in the Thimble Pip Tutorial post.

Green and Gold Swirl Christmas Pip

This is another one where I embroidered along each side except the one that opens.

Pointsettia Christmas Pip

The two larger Christmas Pips and three of the smaller ones are being mailed off to a very special family in Nebraska with a little something extra tucked inside each pip.


This post has been added to the following link parties:

Finish It Up Friday

Sew Darn Crafty Linky Party


Posted in Christmas on a Budget Series, Sewing | 4 Comments »

Update – Our Latest Adventure

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on December 4th, 2014

This post has proven to be more challenging to write than I’d anticipated. I mentioned back a while ago that Dave and I were off on a new adventure. It was an adventure that was not entirely of our own choosing.

Last spring when Dave was offered and accepted the long term contract with another US company, we thought that the gypsy lifestyle that we’d led since December of 2011 was coming to an end. As I sat down to write this post, I struggled with just how much to share of our experience of the past few months. In the end, because we don’t completely understand ourselves the events that occurred, I decided that it was best just to say that as sometimes happens with a new employer, the fit was not a good one and things didn’t work out the way we had hoped and leave it at that.

Before I go on to tell you about the rest of our adventure, I do want to say that the people we met during our time in Grand Island, Nebraska were the most amazing people we’ve met in any of our travels throughout the world. From the moment we arrived until the moment we left, both Dave and I were treated with a kindness and open friendliness that touched our hearts deeply. Everywhere we went, we were welcomed and made to feel at home. I am sure that somewhere in Grand Island there must be grouchy, unkind people but if there are, we certainly did not encounter them in the six months we lived there.

There is one very special family in particular who stood by us and supported us in those last weeks leading up to the end of October and we will hold them in our hearts forever.

When it became apparent that things were not going to work out with the new company, we had a very tough decision to make as to what to do next. We played around with the idea of spending another winter in Florida and seeing what the spring brought in the way of contracts. But after much consideration, we decided that we needed some stability in our life, at least for a period of time.

Our youngest son suggested that we all pool our resources and rent a house together in London, Ontario. So the hunt began. We got lucky and within a few days, we had found a house that fitted our needs and would be available late the afternoon of November 15th.

So at the end of October, we put the furniture we’d bought while in Grand Island into a short term storage unit and headed to Florida. We spent a few days visiting friends there before it was time to drive up to Rome, Georgia to pick up the moving truck and vehicle trailer we’d rented. Then with the help of a good friend, we loaded all our furniture that had been in storage there since we left in 2011, loaded the car on the trailer and made the two day trip back to Grand Island to pick up those things.

Another two and a half days of driving took us from Grand Island across the border into Canada to London arriving early in the afternoon of November 15th. Four and a half days of traveling in one of those big 26 ft Penske moving trucks is one adventure that we don’t intend to repeat!! By that final day of driving we were tired and our backs ached from the less than smooth ride.

That first day, with the help of our son, we were able to off load and get our bedroom set up so that we could sleep in the new house that night. The next day, the rest of the truck was unloaded. And then Monday, Dave and I drove the truck back to Port Huron, MI to drop it off. (Penske doesn’t offer residential truck rentals in Canada so we had to return it to the nearest US location.)

The first week in the new house was spent unpacking and organizing. As we unpacked, we purged. After three years of not seeing things on a daily basis we found ourselves looking at things with fresh eyes. We were able to take many boxes of household items and books to Value Village for donation.

We’ve spent the last week and a half giving the house a deep cleaning, but more on that in another post.

I have such mixed feelings about this latest adventure. I feel sad because things didn’t work out with the new company like we’d hoped.  Sad to see one of our dreams slip further away.  I feel sad too to have left behind new friendships.

But on the other hand, I’m enjoying living close to two of our three children. Our son will be moving his things in at the end of December as he had to give 60 days notice at his apartment. And our middle daughter is only a two and a half hour drive away in Toronto. She came last weekend when we celebrated Thanksgiving. (We’ve celebrated American Thanksgiving for so many years now that it just feels right.)  And despite everything that’s happened, we do have so very much to be thankful for.

I’m also enjoying having all our stuff in one location and being able to use them again.

I’m looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with my much loved and missed sewing machines.

For the first time in several moves, I have an office/sewing room that is mine alone. Once it’s organized the way I want it, I’ll share some photos… though that might have to wait until after we paint it. Right now the walls are painted a bright peachy orange!!

I’ve been making a list of all the UFOs (unfinished objects) that I’ve rediscovered while unpacking. The one pictured below I intend to have quilted, bound and on the bed in the spare bedroom before Christmas.

Quilting the Nine Patch

This quilt was started in back in 2009 as part of Amanda Jean of crazy mom quilt’s third quilt-a-long.

You can read about various stages of progress on this quilt here, here, here and here.

My goal is to have all the UFOs finished before we have to move again.

On the side of several of our moving boxes there was this quote… “For every move there is a new beginning.” Since I was born, I’ve lived in 20 different houses/apartments so I know that quote to be true just a truly as with every move there is an ending.

I have no doubt there are more moves in our future… more endings, more beginnings. That gypsy blood that Dave and I both seem to have inherited runs deep. But for now, I’m going to enjoy a period of staying in one place for however long we’re here.

Posted in Our Travels | 4 Comments »

Vintage Embroidery Monday – Candy Canes

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on December 1st, 2014

On Workbasket pattern page #92, there were four small Christmas patterns.   I thought my readers might like to have them in different sizes so Dave enlarged them.  Each pattern I share for the month of December leading up to Christmas will include three sizes of the same design.  Today I’m sharing the candy canes with bows.

Pattern for Candy Canes in three different sizes

The pattern for the bells is available as a pdf to download here.


This post has been added to the following link parties:

Sew Darn Crafty Linky Party

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Posted in Embroidery | 2 Comments »

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on November 27th, 2014

I’d like to wish all those in the US who are celebrating today (or sometime over the next few days) a very

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you be surrounded by the love of family and friends.


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »