For My Baby Niece

In the midst of all the planting, patio installation, cleaning and catering to our little pooch, there was a NYC Baby Shower to go to!  My big brother (Chris to the world; “Tif” to family) is going to become a dad this very August and he and his gorgeous wife (Sondra to the world, “Estra” to me and Jake sometimes :-)) live in the Big Apple.  They are expecting a little girl and I just knew that in addition to whatever necessities they would be registering for I wanted to make something special for my baby niece.

Sondra and Tif are wonderful, wonderful people.  They love to laugh and have a good time and never seem to take themselves too seriously.  They are going to be wonderful parents!  They really are an inspired couple and appreciate things that instill dedication, love, honesty, and drive in themselves or others.  I wanted to create something that captured the two of their spirits, but gave something inspirational for this little girl to look to as well.

While drumming around for ideas, I came across this post and the saying gave me goosebumps and a little prickle of tears in my eyes.  I knew that it was perfect and that I would make a version of it that captured Tif and Sondra.


The letters are from maps and are all places the Tif and Sondra have lived, have significance, or have traveled to together.  That was probably the most time consuming part!  The rest was pretty easy and fun to put together.  If you wanted to make your own, you’ll need:

  • A canvas (mine was 24×20)
  • Maps or decorative paper for the letters (even photographs might work!)
  • Printer to create stencils (you could buy them, but I couldn’t find any the right size)
  • X-acto knife and surface to cut on
  • Paints and brushes
  • Mod Podge
  • A level, ruler or yard stick (something straight!)

I started out by painting the canvas with two coats of a really dark purple and topping that with a lighter color that sorta came through mildly in spots with some strategic brush strokes.  My sister-in-law really likes purple and was looking at those shades in the bedding so I wanted to compliment that.



I printed the letters off on card stock on my home printer and cut them out with an x-acto knife carefully.  Then I laid them on the canvas to be sure it was all the right size.  Oh, for some reason my printer won’t print black right now, so I printed the letters off in colors.  Use what you got, right?

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I spent a great deal of time looking at maps.  If you’re trying to make this something personal  this is where the thinking comes in!  I had armfuls of maps of NYC, CA, Europe, subways, the Caribbean, etc.  I was really struggle to find state maps that all had the same sort of look so this didn’t come out too messy.  Then I spied the bin of map posters and found two antiqued maps of the USA and the world and though I could combine them in a meaningful way.  The colors were nice blues, oranges, pinks, and greens that complimented the canvas really well too, so I snatched those up.  Oh! While I was thinking about this, I even thought of how fun it might be to use something like menus from all their favorite restaurants or a combination of different materials like that!


So I laid the letters out on different locations that represented them, and started tracing and cutting them out with the x-acto. I used a straight edge for most letters, but “O’s” and “S’s” were freehand. Your hand will cramp up.  It’s to be expected.  Seems to be a trend with my gifts to them since I wood-burned their wedding invitations by hand too, but that’s another project!

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So after they are all cut out line them up on the canvas again and sort out the spacing.


Now it’s time for the Mod Podge.  I started with “She Will Move Mountains” since I really wanted to be sure that fit across the canvas.  Using a level I just lined up the letters straight, applied some Mod Podge to the back of each and laid them down to dry.

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When that had dried completely I also applied a couple of light coats to the entire canvas on top of all the letters to protect and seal it a bit more.  It also gave it more of a finished look that I liked.  Then I wrapped it all up, the ladies and I headed to NYC for the weekend and we had a wonderful baby shower!  Seriously it was so fun my face hurt from smiling so much!


My brother may or may not have done this to his “baby” bear while competing in a diaper/dressing game, but I’m confident he’ll do much better with his little girl!  🙂



Tif and Sondra – you are truly beautiful and amazing people and I know this little girl you bring into this world will be an inspiration to us all! I can’t wait to meet her! Love, love, love you all so much!

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  1. I love, love, LOVE, this blog! You are an amazing woman and a fabulous aunt! That is one lucky little girl! XXOO

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