Tutorial: Easy Last-Minute Fairy Wings

Posted by on Jul 29, 2013 in children's toys, craft | 7 comments

Yesterday was Magic and Mischief weekend at the Royal Botanical Gardens – an event we look forward to ALL YEAR LONG. So you would think, with 52 weeks to prepare since last year’s event, that I would have thought, just maybe, to get proper wings for the girls in advance.


Well in my defence, we did have one pair – but they made a flight up to my mother’s house on Saturday and forgot to return home. Nope, I was left with two wingless fairies on my hands.

I wanted to get some gorgeous silk wings from Citizen Kid here in Hamilton. But when I casually mentioned them to my husband, he casually mentioned the garage door that broke last week. And the iPhone that I shattered on the weekend. Not exactly the best week to be buying fancy costumes.

So, with a mopey face better suited to a six year than an adult, I sat down at my computer to look at the pretty wings once more. And then – an epiphany! I realized that the wings were pretty simple. And that I can could make some myself from playsilks that we already have.

It took all of 45 seconds to make a pair of wings for The Princess. And they were SO CUTE!

What are playsilks? They are  colourfully-dyed  pieces of silk that children can play with.  Most of our playsilks come from Sarah’s Silks at Citizen Kid or from Beneath the Rowan Tree - this is an amazing site to check out. The site even has a Playsilk Shopping Guide if you’re interested in learning more. My girls use them as super hero capes, doll blankets, wrapping paper for pretend birthday parties, fancy head scarves, snowy scenery for the train set, and “water” for their stuffed animals in need of a bath. They can be used for pretty much anything. Including last minute fairy wings.


The Oh-Shoot-I-Need-That-Yesterday Guide to Super-Easy, Last-Minute Fairy Wings

Things You Will Need

  • One large square piece of silk or other gauzy, light fabric – 35″ x 35″
  • One small square piece of silk or other gauzy, light fabric – 10″ x 10″
  • One long piece of ribbon – approximately 50″ inches long
  • Two short pieces of ribbon – approximately 20″ inches long

1. On the small square, tie two corners together in a double knot.


2. Pull the large square half way through the hole on the small square and spread the fabric out. Feel free to close your eyes and dance dreamily in the wind during this step. Or not.


3. Tie a loose knot in the top two corners of the large square.


4. Thread a small ribbon through each of the two knots, then tighten the knots so that they will not slip out. These are the ribbons that you will tie on your child’s wrists.

5. Thread the large ribbon through the hole in the small square. This is the ribbon that will go up over your child’s shoulders, cross over their chest, and then tie in the back.

If you are uncomfortable with things tied around your child’s neck, you can skip this ribbon and pin the wings to your child’s shirt, or just let the middle hang down unfastened. It’s cute either way.


That’s it. Your done. Don’t you love the way they billow in the breeze?

Magic and Mischief at the RBG in Hamilton/Burlington




The BEST part about this costume is that the knots come undone and you can use the silks for regular play again when you’re finished. My favourite kind of toy.

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Making Hand-Dipped Beeswax Candles – or – How I Almost Destroyed My Laptop

Posted by on Feb 22, 2013 in being a mom, craft, domestic diva, Hamilton Blog (#HamOnt), peaceful living | 1 comment

Please check out my first guest post on the Hamilton momstown blog today too!


We’ve recently started burning a candle each night during supper as part of our evening ritual, and so I thought it might be fun to spend the evening making our homemade candles with The Princess.

As far as crafts go, this one is super simple. We learned how to make hand-dipped beeswax candles at the Halton Waldorf School back in December; I remember that the entire process was very relaxing. And I already had a brick of beeswax left over from making hand lotions last month, so all I needed was a wick.

Which was a bit more complicated than I thought.

I read that cotton wicks are the best for beeswax candles. They don’t burn as hot as the wicks with metal and they don’t contain lead. After calling every candle and craft and health food store in Hamilton, I finally found some at Dutchman’s Gold out in Carlisle, which is a pleasant 20 minute trip from our house. We headed out on our country drive as soon as The Princess finished school, and we bought our wicks and some Blueberry Blossom honey too. Yum.

After supper, The Pixie went to bed and The Princess and I got to work. I had almost a full brick of wax and I started off by grating it like I did when I made lotions.


Once it was grated, we melted the it all. We don’t have a double boiler so we put about an inch of water in a large pot and put a smaller pot inside with the wax. I have to say, it looks like there’s a lot less when the wax is melted down, so we ended up throwing the rest of the brick in the pot. This time, we didn’t bother to grate it. That’s probably just necessary if you need to measure  accurately.


When all the wax had melted, we poured it in an old travel mug that has a broken (ie useless) lid. We wanted something tall and skinny and we thought the double-walled stainless steel mug might even help keep the wax warm.

Next, we dipped the wick into the wax. Again. And again. And again. For ever.

Now, the trick is to dip it in quickly, then keep it out for 5 – 10 seconds until the wax dries. If you leave the wick in the hot wax too long, the wax that’s already on the wick melts back off. At first it feels like nothing is happening, but after awhile your candle begins to take shape and show some character.

Despite how tedious it was, The Princess seemed to really enjoy herself. She is five years old and she is cautious enough that I wasn’t worried about her burning herself – even so, we didn’t leave her alone with it at anytime. The wax is really hot. If you’re doing this with kids, you need to decide first if the children are cautious and careful enough to be safe. And if you haven’t already, making candles with your kids is a great opportunity to talk about the importance of fire safety.


In the end, we made three candles before I sent her off to bed. I love the personality that they have! One candle looks like a gnome and one looks like a tree (we covered the candle in drips of wax to achieve this effect). We also made a third candle by putting a wick in a mason jar and pouring all the excess wax around it so it wouldn’t be wasted.

My kitchen smells SOOOOO GOOD right now. I hope it still smells as lovely tomorrow when I’m picking wax off my dishes and my floor…


Some tips:

  • We tied the wick around a chop stick and let The Princess dip the candle in the cup like a fishing line (you can see this in the picture above). This stopped her fingers from getting anywhere close to the hot wax, but it also made her candle move around a lot more, flinging wax on to the floor. 
  • The floor. Oh my goodness, you cannot imagine how messy my floor got. PUT DOWN SOMETHING UNDERNEATH!
  • And by something, DO NOT USE A LAPTOP. Yup, I know this is what you’ve been waiting for! I foolishly was playing with the mason jar candle while chatting on Twitter and managed to cover my hand, my keyboard and my laptop screen in a whole lot of burning hot wax. The wax oozed under the keys and then solidified, which led to quality tweets like this:

I think it’s okay though. I had to remove some keys but I think it will survive. Lesson learned! And now we have three beautiful new candles to choose from for our dinner tomorrow. Although I might just keep using our old one and treasure these ones for awhile first.

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Making Beautiful Things … And Sometimes Just Average-Looking Ones

Posted by on Jul 10, 2012 in being a mom, children's toys, craft, domestic diva, playful parenting, sewing | 9 comments

Welcome to the July 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Creations

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared crafts, recipes, and philosophies of creativity. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to crafting. Pinterest, of course, is a close second.

I have all sorts of wonderful ideas in my head of things I’d like to make for the girls – costumes, play spaces, toys. I enjoy making lovely things and I know that I can do it well. I love to knit, and sew, and embroider and decoupage. In fact, I originally thought this blog would be a craft blog. As I create handmade gifts for my girls, I eagerly anticipate the look of delight on their faces (which is sometimes closer to dismay, depending on the daughter). Then while they enjoy my gift, I get to snap lots of adorable pictures and post them on my blog or Twitter or Facebook. Sometimes I come up with a especially great idea and then I dream about selling on Etsy or in my store.

I think about all these things while I’m scraping dried oatmeal off the high chair. I don’t really have time to do much beyond dream.

And honestly, if I had the time, I’d still be held back by my obsessive need for perfection. This isn’t new. I wrote about it almost exactly one year ago here. Apparently I have a hard time taking my own advice.

When I think about it, I’d like to spend more time on crafts. It’s important for me and my girls. I’d like them to see me start a project, work on it daily, and finish – it models creativity, contentment, and perseverance for them. (Yeah, I know, you’d all like to see me actually finish something too.) At the same time, I’d like them to see me create things on the fly too – it models resourcefulness and ingenuity.

And sometimes creating things on the go works out great. For example, I’ve been wanting to make the teepee from the book Cool Spaces for Kids for years, but I’ve never had the time. A couple weeks ago I was particularly annoyed with myself for not getting around to it. The sun was out and I wanted the girls to go out back and play. So I improvised. I tied some twine from the fence to our cherry tree and we threw some sheets over top. Then we strung up the fabric bunting we’d made for The Princess’ birthday a couple years ago. It was totally functional. Pretty, even.

Just call me Mama MacGuvyer.

Another example? Last week The Princess wanted bunny ears. My first thought was of course hand-stitched felt ears, possibly with contrasting fabric, sewed on to a band with a velcro closure to guarantee the perfect fit. But my mommy-sense detected that The Princess wasn’t interested in sourcing 100% pure wool felt at the moment – she wanted to dress up like a bunny. So we grabbed some extra scrapbook paper, cut out some ears and a band, and then (ugh) stapled it all together. Done. And she was thrilled.

The ears have been pretty much destroyed now (how long can stapled scrapbook paper really last?), but I almost feel like I should rescue them from under the couch and mount them on my wall like some sort of easter-coloured hunting trophy, forever reminding me that perfection is not required.

It’s a lesson I’m still working on, and a good one to teach the girls. I don’t want my children to feel that a hobby isn’t worth doing because they aren’t skilled enough, and I know that The Princess in particular feels this way sometimes. In the past, we’ve been given craft kits to do together and The Princess has insisted that I do at least half of the project myself so that it’s “right” – meaning, it will look just like the front cover of the box. While fun for a bit, we’ve kind of moved away from these types of activities, instead spending a lot of time with free-form drawing, colouring and sometimes cutting.

For the most part, I’m happier this way. Still, deep down I know that The Princess enjoys crafts too, so I would like to come up with some more crafts that we can do together. Last week I was reading on Amber Strocel’s blog about monthly eco-friendly craft kits sent in the mail and it occurred to me that I could do something similar myself. I could plan a series of crafts for the summer, buy all the supplies in one trip, and then sort them out so that they’re ready to go. It’s like big-batch freezer cooking but with glitter and crazy glue. I’m going to do it, and while I’m at it, I’m going to pick out a summer knitting project to work on too, something mindless that I can do at the park while I watch the girls play.

Who knows? Maybe this blog will become a craft blog after all.

Any suggestions for my family-friendly craft bin? What do your kids enjoy making?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon July 10 with all the carnival links.)

  • Garden Soup — Bailey finds a way to help momma Katy (from Muse of a Daffodil) in the garden.
  • This One Time, I Tried To Make a Car — Ashley at Domestic Chaos tries once again to make something crafty from stuff around the house.
  • Pin-tastic creative ideas — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares how Pinterest is inspiring creativity in her family this summer.
  • Baby Hiccups In The Womb — Alinka at Baby Web shares one of the ways she bonds with her unborn baby.
  • Turtle Mosaics — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school and her little family spend a quiet hour making a turtle mosaic inspired by the work of Melanie Mikecz.
  • Edible Art Plus 8 Art Supply Recipes — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares some natural, chemical-free art supply alternatives, which are gauranteed to be tons of fun for children or all ages. They taste great too!
  • A surprise art lesson — Tat at Mum in search has been taking art lessons from her 5-year-old son.
  • Memory Creation — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen talks about how her family aims to create as many memories as they can as a family.
  • A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words — Melissa at Momma Beer tries to replace cars with crafts.
  • My Creative Family: Sometimes Messy, Always Fun — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM embraces the messes that sometimes accompany creative play but admits you don’t always have to get dirty to have fun.
  • Fun Family Learning: Constellation Cave Tutorial — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter gives step-by-step instructions for building a fun new twist on a cardboard box playhouse.
  • Cooking… Kind Of — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings makes pizza with her daughter, hoping to inspire a love of cooking and encourage a bigger interest in food. As well as making mess and having lots of fun, of course!
  • Crockpot Refried BeansThat Mama Gretchen‘s family loves to experiment with new recipes, and today she’s sharing a kitchen success!
  • Creating Memories — Andrea at Tales of Goodness reflects on how the best creations can emerge from just letting kids be kids.
  • Making Beautiful Things … And Sometimes Just Average-Looking Ones — Tamara at Tea for Three looks for ways to add more craft and creativity into every day family life.
  • Making Fruit Leather Together — When Amy Willa at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work took some time to involve her children in the process of finally trying a fruit leather recipe stored on her Pinterest food board, she got more than just a scrumptious homemade snack as a result!
  • Making Glasses from Children’s Art — Mandy at Living Peacefuly with Children used her children’s artwork to make some very special glasses for her husband for Father’s Day.
  • Preparing Family Meals Together — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares how she started the tradition of creating meals together with her children, which makes family gatherings more fun.
  • It’s a trap! — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares the innovative snares her son and husband have set for her.
  • How To Make The Most Of A Very Wet Summer — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shows us the first few weeks of the Summer Camp At Home project for keeping boredom at bay.
  • Creating with… well, what do we have? — If necessity is the mother of invention, Momma Jorje thinks perhaps boredom is (or at least can be) the mother of creativity. In a pinch, she got creative with a household item to entertain herself and her toddler.
  • Creating Joy! Felt Counting Fish and other Fun — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle started creating Felt Counting Fish and then fell down the rabbit hole of fun with a number of other games.
  • I Am Going! (A Code Name: Mama Homemade Theater Production of Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie book) — This might be the finest example of child and baby acting ever recorded. Enjoy this Mo Willems treasure via video from Dionna at Code Name: Mama.
  • DIY Summer Sleep Sack for Baby Tutorial — Shannon at GrowingSlower made an organic summer sleep sack for baby, and you can too with her easy tutorial.
  • Chalk It Up! — Amy at Anktangle recounts how an impulse buy has turned into a fun collaborative activity that she hopes will continue to foster creativity in the whole family.
  • The Family Garden — Excited that her son has been a big help in the garden this year, Ana at Pandamoly shares how her garden grows and offers up some secrets on how a toddler can be a great assistant in the garden.
  • Getting my craft on — Jona at Life, Intertwined takes a trip down memory lane — and finds it in stitches.
  • Easy DIY Sandpit for Toddler Play — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares her easy DIY toddler sandpit tutorial.
  • Building Without Nails — Laura at Laura’s Blog builds a swinging bar using just sticks and twine.
  • Family Talent Show — Erika at Cinco de Mommy holds an after-dinner family talent show.
  • Ar matey! Fun and Learning with Pirate Play. Positive Parenting Connection is sharing lots of really fun Pirate-themed learning activities for the whole family.


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The Fanciest Tent I Ever Made (Do You Know Where this is Going?)

Posted by on Aug 14, 2011 in being a mom, children's toys, craft, sewing | 3 comments

Remember the fabulous twirly skirt I made that my daughter loved for thirty seconds and then discarded in favour of a princess gown? It turns out I haven’t learned my lesson.

This weekend I made my daughter a small hula hoop tent. All you do is hem the end of a bed sheet and thread it with some rope. Then, tie it up and spread the fabric over a hula hoop that has been strung from the ceiling with some more rope. Easy peasy. I added a strand of fancy jewels that I knew my daughter would love, but other than that I left it as simple as I could. The full instructions are found in the book Cool Spaces for Kids, which has so many more clever ideas – such a great resource. I’ve been wanting to make this tent for awhile, and since I had a couple of hours to myself on Friday, I thought it would be a a great quick and crafty project.

I love that the tent can be taken down easily and doesn’t take up too much room. I do wish I had used a bigger sheet so it would spread out more at the bottom, but I was just using what I had on hand.

As for my spirited daughter, she seems to be okay with it. She cried for awhile because I had the audacity to move the glider from one side of her room to the other, but I was sort of expecting that. She doesn’t deal with change well – I mean, this is the girl that cries when I hang up a picture in my house because everything is suddenly *so* different. But it did make me wonder why I even bother.

Why do we do things if our children don’t appreciate them? Why did I spend an evening making this tent, or a week making her a skirt, or even an hour each night making supper that often gets one or two bites and then goes cold? I’m not really sure. I guess when you’re madly in love with your kids you just love to see them smile. Maybe that’s why we all spend hours making goofy faces at our babies, or spend countless days at the park, pushing our kids on the swings. They may not seem to appreciate any of it, but just the possibility of catching a look of joy on their faces is all the motivation we need.

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The Fanciest Skirt I Ever Made (and She Doesn’t Want to Wear It)

Posted by on Jul 26, 2011 in being a mom, craft, girly-girl, sewing | 0 comments

A couple weeks ago I found a whole bunch of wonderful fabric on sale at Fabricland, and I pretty much bought it all. I mean, who can resist a great ladybug print or some wacky birds? It all begged to be made into a fantastic twirly skirt for my sweet girl.

It took me a full week to make the skirt. Looking back, that doesn’t really seem too long, but to me it felt like forever. I was doing bits and pieces during my baby’s 10 minute catnaps, and I was sure it would never be done. But last night I was able to finish with a flourish and I proudly handed the skirt to my daughter. Who refused to wear it. “Maybe tomorrow”, she said.

Seriously, why do I even bother?

So this morning I hopefully handed her the skirt, and after a bit of a fuss, I was able to coax (bribe) her to wear it, and I even got to take some pictures. :)

Twirly skirts of course are good for all sorts of activities. Making pained faces while mama takes a picture, playing with the doll house, twirly around for the amusement of your baby sister, even riding a bike.

As soon as we got home, though, the skirt came off. It appears that no degree of twirliness can compete with a good princess gown.

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Embracing Imperfection

Posted by on Jul 12, 2011 in being a mom, craft, domestic diva, peaceful living, sewing | 0 comments

When my older daughter was little I wanted to get her a kid sized table that she could use for arts and crafts and meals and tea parties and all those other fun things that kids do. Because she was still learning how to walk, and with memories of a bad fall still fresh in mind, I decided to buy the plastic table and chairs from Ikea. I figured that if she fell on it, the plastic would be more forgiving than wood.

And I’ve regretted that decision ever since. I hate that table and chair set (apologies to everyone else who has it, which is pretty much everyone I know). I’m not a fan of plastic to begin with, and for the last three years they’ve been the sore thumb sticking out in my kitchen or living room. I mean, you can’t really miss bright green and red.

There was another set at Ikea that I liked a lot more – just plain wood. Simple. Cute. And guess what? This week it all went on sale – 100 bucks off! Score!

My mother tried to talk me out of it at first – after all, I really don’t need a table and chairs for the girls when I have a perfectly good adequate one already. Besides, bringing in new furniture is definitely not helping me in my quest to declutter my home. Lucky for me I ignored my inner voice of reason and bought the new set anyway. After all, I’ll probably have a children’s table and chairs on my main floor for at least another three years, so it might as well be one that I like.

When I set it up in our living room however, I was kind of bummed at how bland the space suddenly looked. At least the plastic set brought some colour into the room. So I quickly decided that the only logical solution was to sew up some seat cushions to bring a splash of colour.

Enter silly obsessive perfectionism.

When I do anything, I want it to be perfect. I haven’t finished a million projects because they aren’t up to my ridiculous standards. Knitting projects are the worst – I’m sure every project that I finish has been restarted five or six times because I can’t stand mistakes.

But you know what? I’ve come to realize that it’s silly to be obsessed with perfection. When things look perfect, nobody even knows that you made them yourself. Its the little flaws that give things character, and I’m actually big on character. And its not like my daughter is ever going to notice one way or the other. So I decided to ditch the obsessive perfectionism and embrace a zen-like state of craft-induced bliss. At least until I get through this next batch of projects.

So, when I couldn’t find fabric in the exact shade of daffodil yellow I wanted with large pink flowers, I took a deep cleansing breath and instead took the bright pink fabric that I knew my daughter would love. I brought it home and I made two seat cushions. The stitching isn’t perfect and the straps on one cushion are a quarter inch wider than on the other. But unless you’re as anal as I am (or you read my blog), you’d never know.

And I love the way they look. I’m coming to realize that if I aim for 85% instead of that perfect 100, I can get a lot more done. And in the end, I enjoy the process so much more.

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