Super Mom – No Cape!

One mother sharing her knowledge with others

Archive for September, 2011

When Inspiration Strikes

Posted by supermom on September 30, 2011

Last week, Robin over at RSIslandcrafts posted her sign-up post for this year’s Stocking Giveaway.   The sign-ups are for any blog that wants to host a giveaway for a Christmas Stocking on their blog at the end of November.

Stockings for the giveaway can be handmade or bought.  You can fill them or not.

For more detailed information check out Robin’s post: 2011 Stocking Give Away

The next few months are going to be super busy, so I’ve been holding off signing up to host a Stocking Giveaway because I wanted to be sure I at least had the stocking part figured out.

I knew that I wanted to give away a handmade stocking but there are just so many different patterns and designs to choose from when it comes to stockings.

I also knew that I wanted to use what I had on hand to make the stocking.

Yesterday, I had one of those wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep times, so I got up and started working on some Christmas projects.  I find embroidering to be almost a zen type experience and often when I get into the flow, inspiration will strike.

This is the result of that inspiration and a couple of hours sewing yesterday and this morning.

I’ve still got to sew the two pieces together, make the lining, etc. but I’m super pleased with the QAYG (quilt as you go) that I did for the front and back of the stocking.

If you’d like to host a Stocking Giveaway on your blog in November be sure to sign-up over on Robin’s blog.  She’s making it extra fun by having mini giveaways between now and November for those blogs that are participating.

Now for those of you who don’t have a blog or don’t want to host a giveaway, you can still join in the fun come the end of November by visiting the blogs that are hosting giveaways and entering to win.

Posted in Quilting, Sew easy projects, Sewing | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

I Love Quilt Shops

Posted by supermom on September 27, 2011

Today, Dave and I made a trip down to Costco to pick up some basics that we were starting to run low on.   Costco is right off of Exit 269.  Since Red Hen Fabrics is just at little farther along at Exit 265, I decided we might as well make a stop there too.

I took along the Smiling Sunflower quilt top to see if I could find border fabric that would work with it.

I’m going to say right here and now… I love quilt shops!

Yes, you pay a little more per yard for fabric than when shopping at the big name craft stores but the quality of the fabric is correspondingly better.

However, that’s only part of the reason why I love quilt shops.  Quilt shops are happy places and for the most part, so are the people who work there.  And they go out of their way to help you.

Today, for example, I was wondering around Red Hen with my Smiling Sunflower quilt top draped over my arm when one of the shop’s sales ladies asked if she could help me.

I explained that I was looking for border fabric.  She proceeded to guide me from shelf to shelf around the shop; pulling bolts of fabric and helping me to decide which ones might work.  Then once we’d chosen several bolts, we took them over to the cutting table where she unrolled each bolt so that we could get a better idea of how each looked against my quilt.

It didn’t take long for me to decide which I liked best, but even if it had, there was no pressure for me to make a quick decision.  She seemed just as happy as I was to compare this fabric to that and discuss how each would give the quilt a different feel once completed.

Here’s the one I chose:

Another reason I love quilts shops are the unexpected little treasures that you come across while wondering around enjoying looking at all that fabricy goodness.   I was delighted to discover a display of little purse frames similiar to the one I bought while I was up in Canada.

They didn’t have any that were exactly the same size, so I bought three in a smaller size and one in a slightly larger size.  I’m sure I can adjust the pattern I have to fit these new ones.  Or perhaps, I’ll design an entirely different pattern to fit them.

While I was checking out, there was more discussion with the other shop ladies about my purchases and what my plans were for the little purse frames.

I’m not saying that I’ve stopped shopping at the big name craft stores.  In fact, right after I left the quilt shop, we headed over to Jo-ann’s to check to see if they sold purse making supplies.  Jo-ann’s only had two of the little sew-in purse frames though it did have a selection of different handles, rings, buckles and assorted other hardware that the quilt shop didn’t.

The price was $2 less per frame but once I got them home and could compare them side by side… the quality wasn’t quite as good nor did they have the intricate details the ones from the quilt shop had.   Still they’ll work for some ideas I have for purses made out of the scraps I have leftover from recovering the lawn chair cushions.

So while I’ll continue to shop at the big name craft stores, I definitely prefer shopping in quilt shops.

Posted in Quilting, Sewing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Christmas on a Budget – Decorating the Tree

Posted by supermom on September 25, 2011

Last month, for my Christmas on a Budget Series, I wrote about Building Traditions by repeating memory building activities year after year.  One tradition that I started when our children were little was to make them a new Christmas ornament every year to hang on the tree.

The idea was that by the time they left home, they would each have a collection of handmade ornaments to hang on their first tree in their first apartment or house.  And then each Christmas after that, no matter where they were in the world or where Dave and I were; they would have those little pieces of Christmas past.

And even now that our two oldest have homes of their own and our youngest is attending college, I continue to make them a new ornament to add to their collection each year.

None of these ornaments were/are expensive to make.  In fact, many of them cost only pennies.

All that’s needed to make the crocheted ornaments pictured above and below is a pattern, some crochet cotton and a stiffening agent.  There are tons of free patterns available on the net.

I embroidered four of these two Christmases ago; one for each child and one for our own tree.

The top two oraments are done on 10 count plastic canvas with yarn while the bottom one is worked on a finer mesh plastic canvas using embroidery floss.

Now you may be thinking to yourself, “But I don’t know how to crochet or embroider or cross stitch.”

For this next ornament I simply cut a yard of lace, folded over 1/3 lengthwise, ran a gathering stitch along the edge of the fold with needle and thread and then pulled the thread tight and knotted it.  The lace circle was then glued onto a circle cut from white cardstock.  You could also cut a circle from an old Christmas card.

I finished the center of the ornament by gluing on some loops of ribbon and the little bear. A short length of ribbon was glued between the lace and the card stock to hang the ornament.

And think of all the ornaments you can make with no more than a pair of scissors, some glue and squares of felt.

Transform a couple of pieces of felt into a dove or cardinal like the ones pictured below:

Templates for these birds can be found at:

Remember the paper chains we made in grade school?   This would be a great project to do with your children or grandchildren.

Here’s a link to a how-to using old books.

I’ve also seen paper chains made out of sheet music.

Don’t happen to have any old sheet music laying around the house?  Print some vintage sheet music courtesy of the Graphics Fairy.

And while you’re printing off sheet music to make paper chains print a few extra pages to make some small wreaths from this tutorial:

Finally I’d like to share with you one more simple idea using no more than a few rolls of wired ribbon you can find at the dollar store and a bit of floral wire (or I must confess… the twist ties from bread.)

To make the bows, cut a 2 ft or 3 ft length of the wire ribbon depending on how long you want the tails to be.   Make two loops and wrap a piece of wire around the middle to form the bow.  Wire the bows to the tree.

For a few dollars you can make enough to cover the entire tree.

If you have a few more dollars, pick up some Christmas floral picks and add them in between the bows like this:

I hope I’ve  inspired you to make some Christmas ornaments this year; either for your own tree, for your children for their future trees or to give as gifts to family and friends.    Join me again next month for more Christmas on a Budget ideas.

Past Christmas on a Budget Series posts can be found by clicking on these links:

Building Traditions

Two No-Sew Christmas Ideas

Buy Christmas Fabric Only When On Sale

Christmas Fabric – Part 2

Gifts for Less than $2 Each

Homemade Gift Tags

Post #1

Posted in Christmas on a Budget Series, Gift Ideas | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

New Option to Follow SuperMomNoCape

Posted by supermom on September 25, 2011

This is almost too embarrassing to admit but since I’ve now learned how, I can confess that until recently I had no idea how people followed other people’s blogs or how to set my blog up so that others could follow mine.

I had at one point added the RSS subscribe button in my sidebar but to be honest because it wasn’t something I personally used, I had no idea how it worked.

Then last weekend, a comment by Donna on my FNSI Result post mentioning that she wanted to follow my blog but didn’t know how prompted me to enlist the help of our son, the Web Design and Internet Applications college student, to explain to me what I needed to do to add a Follow by E-Mail option to my sidebar.

It’s over there now… in the top corner of the right-hand side bar for anyone who’d like to sign-up.

And to those who do, I will simply say Thank You!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

QAYG Blocks Are Now a Quilt

Posted by supermom on September 23, 2011

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember these Quilt-As-You-Go blocks and the roll of binding that I sent off to Jan Mac of Oz Comfort Quilts to be made into a quilt for those who were affected by the horrible flooding that occurred in Australia earlier this year.

If you click over here, you can see the quilt she just finished making with them.

I do feel a little bad because she mentions that she had to add a block from other donated blocks to make up the 35 blocks needed to complete one quilt.  I was sure that I had made and mailed 35 blocks but I must have miscounted.

All the same, Jan did a good job of finding a block that would fit in with my other colourful blocks.   And a big thanks to Jan for all the work she does in finishing these quilts from donated QAYG blocks and giving those of us who live half a world away a means to contribute.

Posted in Quilting | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

How to Pressure Can Homemade Stock

Posted by supermom on September 22, 2011

Tuesday, I described how we make our own homemade stock.  Today, I’m going to show you how we preserve that stock for future use by pressure canning it.

A note before we get started:   Despite what our grandmothers may have done or the canning methods they may have used, modern canning methods require all low acid foods such as those containing meat and vegetables to be pressure canned.    Home canned food is perfectly safe to eat, if the proper canning procedures are followed.

As a second note:  When I first started pressure canning I heard all sorts of stories from people saying that they were too scared to pressure can because Grandma or Great Aunt or whoever had a pressure canner explode on them.    Today’s modern pressure canners have safety features that prevent that from ever happening.

That said, let’s begin:

Wash the jars in hot, soapy water.  Rinse thoroughly.  And then place in a sink filled with hot water.

Keeping the jars in hot water helps to prevent thermal shock when filling the jars.

Place your stock on the burner and bring it back up to a gentle boil.  You don’t want or need a hard boil as that can cause your stock to get cloudy.  It would still be perfectly fine to eat, it just wouldn’t look as pretty.

While the stock is heating, get the canning station ready with measuring cup, canning funnel, bowl of vinegar and a bowl with canning lids.  I always put in a few more lids than I think I’ll need.

Pour boiling water over the canning lids and allow to sit for at least 7 to 10 minutes to soften the rubber on the lids.

You’ll also want to get your pressure canner set up on a burner with the rack in the bottom.  Add the recommended amount of hot water to the bottom.  My pressure canner is an All American canner and the instructions call for 1 1/2″ of water.   Use whatever amount is required for your canner.  Turn the burner on to medium (which is 5 on my stove.)

Once the stock has come to a boil, it’s time to start filling jars.

Fill the jars leaving 1 inch head space.

The great thing about using a canning funnel is that the funnel sits in the jar such that if you fill the jar to the bottom of the funnel, you have your one inch head space; no guess work or measuring involved.

Wipe the rims of the jars with a cloth dipped in vinegar.

Wiping the rim ensures that there will be a clean surface for the rubber of the lid to seal against.  The vinegar cuts through any fat that may be in the stock.

Add lids and tighten finger tight.

Place the jars in the canner.

Our canner holds 18 pint jars stacked in a double layer with a second rack between the layers.

Once the canner is full or you’ve run out of stock to fill jars with; put the lid on the canner.

Adjust the knobs so that the lid sits evenly.

Allow the canner to vent for 7 minutes.   Begin timing once you see a steady stream of steam coming out of the vent.

I found it impossible to get a clear picture of the steam venting, but trust me, steam is coming out of the vent on the right.

After the seven minutes is up, place the weight over the vent.

For our altitude, we use 10 lbs pressure.  Be sure to check the manual for your canner to determine what weight is needed for your altitude.

Slowly bring the canner up to pressure.

You'll see that the gauge on my pressure canner reads 11 lbs. This is a factory setting and is correct for my canner.

It’s tempting to turn the burner up to bring the canner up to pressure faster, but I’ve learned through experience that lower and slower is better and requires less adjusting of temperature once the correct pressure is reached.

Begin timing when the weight starts to jiggle.  Pints take 20 minutes, quarts take 25.

The weight should jiggle one to four times per minute.  If it’s jiggling more frequently or constantly, gradually adjust the burner temperature downwards.

After the timer goes off, turn off the burner and allow the pressure to fall on its own.  Do NOT move the canner during this cooling process.

Once the pressure gauge reaches zero, remove the weight from the vent wearing an oven mitt.

Undo the knobs, turn the lid and lift off.

Always remove the lid with the lid facing away from you; that steam is super hot and you don’t want to get burned.

Remove the jars from the canner and place on a towel to cool.

We have a small kitchen with limited counter space, so I place a large towel, folded double on the dining room table.  On top of that I place a piece of ¼” plywood and then put another large towel folded double on top of that.  This may seem like overkill, but those jars are really hot coming out of the canner and I don’t want that heat transferring to my table and leaving marks. (The towel under the plywood is to keep the wood from scratching the table.)

I love hearing the pinging sound as each jar seals.

Allow the jars of stock to cool overnight.

The next day, I check to make sure that all the jars have sealed properly.

In the center of each lid there is a tiny “button” that during the sealing process is sucked down.   If you push on that button and it moves up and down, the jars have not sealed.

Then I unscrew the lids, wash the jars with warm, soapy water and allow them to dry completely before labelling with the contents and date.  I keep six jars in a cupboard in the kitchen and the rest are stored in a dark, cool closet in the spare bedroom that Dave has added extra shelves to for storing all our home canned foods.

Posted in Canning and Preserving | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

How to Make Homemade Stock

Posted by supermom on September 20, 2011

My blog Super Mom – No Cape and all its content has moved to

For the contents of this particular post click on the link below:

How to Make Homemade Stock



Posted in Budget Savers, Canning and Preserving, Recipes | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

FNSI Results – The Plan Changed

Posted by supermom on September 17, 2011

I didn’t get the table runners done, but I did manage to get the little clutch purse finished.

Earlier in the week, when I was cutting out the pattern pieces for the purse so that they’d be ready for Friday night, I decided I should take some scrap fabric and make a test of the pattern.  Good thing I did because there were a couple of easily fixed errors but ones that you wouldn’t want to happen if you were cutting into your good fabric.

Once I’d finished the tester, I figured why waste it as it would work for a lining and so I found some more scraps leftover from making a gift bag and made the outside of the purse.  I was quite pleased with how the fabric part of the purse turned out.

I fussy cut the fabric so that the dragonfly would be in the center.

I can picture all sorts of these little clutch purses with fussy cut fronts and different combinations of fabric for the front and sides.

I only had one of the clutch purse frames and I wanted to save that as I had purchased it to go with the blue ladybug fabric.  But having almost completed one purse, I figured putting the one together last night would be a breeze.   I mean, all I had to do was make another fabric purse and sew it to the frame.   What could be so hard about that, right?

And the fabric part of the purse did go together fairly easily.  The taffeta that I used for the lining is less forgiving than cotton in that it’s slipperier and as you remove the pins when sewing, it can shift a bit.

Some unpicking action had to take place to remove a pucker in the bottom curve of the lining but other than that it was pretty smooth sewing.

Then it was time to sew the purse to the frame.  Yeah… that’s where things got tricky.

The curse curve of the purse (yes there were words spoken) doesn’t match the curve of the frame.   The top part of the purse does fit in the frame but getting it to stay there while at the same time trying to sew it in… that’s the tricky part.  And it took me a few tries to figure that part out.  Did I mention that there were words spoken?

Here’s my solution:

I counted the number of holes in the purse frame.  There were 28.  So I positioned the center of the purse between the 14th and 15th holes and placed a pin in each.  Then I went to each side and pinned those in place.  Next I worked my way towards the center; pushing the purse into the frame and pinning.

Beginning at one side, I sewed in one hole, out the next all the way across (a running stitch), removing pins as I went.  Once I reached the other side, I worked my way back across to fill in the stitches.

Then I repeated those steps for the other half of the purse and frame.  Finished, the little purse looks like this:

To attach the purse to the frame, I used #5 Perle Cotton in a colour to match the frame.

As mentioned above, I used a blue taffeta to line the purse.

I like the contrast between the cotton and the taffeta; a touch of elegance to add to the fun and cuteness of the ladybug print.

By the time I finished sewing the frame to the purse; I’d pretty much had all the sewing I wanted for the evening so I called it a night.

I’ll work on the table runners over the weekend.  Now I’m off to see what everyone else worked on last night.



This post has been added to the Sew Darn Craft Party over at Sew Many Ways

Posted in Friday Night Sew In, Sewing | Tagged: , , , | 18 Comments »

FNSI – The Plan

Posted by supermom on September 16, 2011

I have all the pieces cut out to make the little clutch purse that I picked up the frame for when Sandra, Nancy and I went shopping at Quilt-A-Bag when I was up in Canada.

The ladies at the shop included a free pattern with the purchase of the frame.

And after I’ve finished that, I’m going to be turning these two fabrics into a longer version of the 10 minute table runner.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow when I get to go see what everyone else has been working on.  For now, I’m off to sew!

Posted in Friday Night Sew In, Sewing | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

I Won Some Fat Quarters and WIP Wednesday

Posted by supermom on September 14, 2011

I was going through all the pictures I took last week and realized that I had forgotten to post about the fun surprize in the form of a squishie that was waiting for me when I got home from Canada.

While I was away getting our youngest settled into his second year of college, I got an e-mail from Impera Magna over at The Adventures of the Empress of the Universe telling me that I was one of the winners of 4 Citron/Gray FQs from Michael Miller!

It was so much fun to arrive home after driving for two days and find this parcel waiting for me.

Thank you Freda!

In my comment on the giveaway post, I mentioned that I’d make a tote bag out of the fat quarters if I won, but since I’ve received them it’s been fun to imagine them transformed into all sorts of different things… so for now, I’m just enjoying them as is.

WIP Wednesday

My list of unfinished projects had one more item added to it last week.

I’ve got all the blocks on my Smiling Sunflower quilt sewn together, but after going through my stash, I couldn’t find anything that I had enough of to make the borders.

The fat quarter bundles I used for the quilt were quilt shop fabrics, so I want the borders to be made of the same quality fabric.  And that means waiting until the next time we make a trip that takes us close to a quilt shop.

Then there is this pile of quilts and table runner/toppers in need of quilting and binding.  The table runner/toppers are going to be used to practice some more FMQing on.

I’m also borrowing an idea from Sandra over at Sandra Sews : ).  She makes up project kits that include everything she needs to complete a particular project.

So I’m making up a couple of kits for projects to work on during this month’s Friday Night Sew In.  Have you signed up yet?

Handmade by Heidi

It’s not too late, just click on the button above and it will take you to Handmade by Heidi, then scroll down for the sign up post.

In addition to all the above, it’s time to get back at our Christmas gift list.  That got set aside for the summer while our son was home as I want this year’s Christmas gifts to be surprizes for everyone not just for the recipient.

Needless to say, I have a busy few months ahead of me for sure.

This post has been added to WIP Wednesday #44 over at Freshly Pieced

Posted in Quilting | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »