DESIGN STUFF

Design, art & crafts I’ve created, or stuff by others I dig.

A Totally Awesome Birthday Party 50 Years in the Making

July 30, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

Around this time last year, I was feeling weighed down by both my age and my weight. The strain of my mental and physical health was taking a toll, and I was becoming increasingly less social. So when my husband asked what I wanted to do for my 50th birthday, I half-heartedly suggested a trip. I was in no mood for a big party, to be the center of attention, to spend hours around other people pretending to be upbeat and happy.

Then somewhere along the way, I took some much-needed steps to resetting my life. As these steps grew into leaps and bounds, I gained confidence, got excited about life again, and determined that I did, in fact, want a party. Inspired by a friend’s 90s-themed birthday, I decided to show these Millennials how it’s done and throw the most bodacious 80s-themed party ever!

Birthday Party

If I’ve learned anything these past nine years of fatherhood, it’s that pampering yourself, partying with friends and blowing off steam are VITAL to being an effective, happy and sane parent. Having also been in a creative slump, this birthday party became a great outlet for me to flex my design muscles in fab, fun ways.

If you were there, thanks for celebrating with me! If not, here’s a taste of how much fun I had turning 50… and here’s to 50 more!

[click all pics to enlarge]

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WANNA’ BE STARTIN’ SOMETHIN’

The invitation was going to se the tone — and hopefully get folks excited to come — so the pressure was on for it to be beyond tubular. A few selfies, a little retro font hunting and a bit of Photoshop later, and voilà!

50th Birthday Party Invitation

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SuperLunchNotes: LGBTQ Superheroes Edition

June 25, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

LGBTQ Superheroes

As a gay dad, teaching my son to celebrate the LGBTQ community has been a top priority from the beginning. Doing so not only ensures he feels proud of his own family, but it also reinforces the compassion I want him to show to others, including those that are bullied or excluded because of who they are or who they love.

Once again, pop culture has proven to be a fun and creative tool to introduce my son to all manner of colorful, queer characters. Not surprisingly, they made their way onto quite a few of the notes I put in my kid’s lunchbox, which I’ve pulled together in this list of LGBTQ superheroes.

Some of these may come as a surprise, as they are depicted as LGBTQ in certain media but not in others. Unfortunately, few are clearly and consistently portrayed as queer, so I’ve provided context and resources when warranted.

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Avenge the Fallen: Nursery Rhymes Edition

March 29, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

We’re less than a month from the premier of Avengers: Endgame, and the MCU is at peak zeitgeist. You probably saw Avengers: Infinity War (it made over $2 billion, so the odds are you did). If you’re like me, you’ve been awaiting this follow up film with gamma ray-levels of anticipation. I’m assuming you’ve also seen the Endgame trailer… along with 80 million other folks, and counting.

You may have also come across the Avenge the Fallen posters. They feature the heroes that survived Thanos’ universe-altering snap in full color; those that got dusted are in a somber shade of black and white. Cool stuff.

The Internet definitely saw the posters, and has been meme-ing the bejesus out of them. You can check out a few of the funnier versions here and here. Among the lampooned are Game of Thrones, Lion King, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and of course the Life Alert commercials.

Being the superhero fan that I am… and the lover of puns… AND a dad — I had to toss my two cents into the mix. So without further fanfare, here is my fatherly homage to The Fallen…

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AVENGE THE FALLEN: NURSERY RHYMES EDITION

 

Avenge the Fallen Nursery Rhymes

1. Humpty Dumpty

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Superpowers: Excellent climbing skills, high source of protein
Weaknesses: sitting, balance
How he fell: his butt is super round
Current status: scrambled
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SuperLunchNotes: Black Superheroes Edition

February 20, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, POP CULTURE

There are lots of ways to teach children about diversity… and not just during Black History Month. Certainly it’s important to introduce your kids to African-American culture through leaders like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Dr. King. But I’ve found some of the most effective lessons are those integrated into everyday life.

As a family of gay fathers and an adopted son, it was vital to ensure our child felt visible, included and loved. Beyond surrounding ourselves with other queer and adoptive families, we also made racial diversity a priority. This has informed all aspects of our lives — from where we chose to live, to the friends we made, to the school our son attends. It also factors into the books, TV shows and movies we expose our son to. And of course it includes superheroes.

black superheroes

For those new to the blog, I’ve been creating superhero lunch notes for my son since pre-school. They’ve been a great way not only to send him a bit of encouragement (or remind him to flush), but also a fun tool to introduce him to a wide array of heroes. And since this is Black History Month, I thought I’d highlight some of the awesome black characters I’ve doodled for my kid over the years.

I’ve listed family-friendly sources under each note so you and your kids can learn/watch/read more about these heroes. Feel free to copy or print the notes for your family’s lunches — be sure to send me a photo if you make your own!

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BLACK PANTHER

Black Superheroes

This is the black superhero everyone now knows, thanks to the record-breaking, history-making Black Panther film. WAKANDA FOREVER! GOOD LUCK AT THE OSCARS!

FUN FACT: Black Panther was originally conceived by artist Jack Kirby as a character named “Coal Tiger.”
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SuperLunchNotes: Polar Vortex Edition

January 31, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

POLAR VORTEX! SNOW SQUALL!! THUNDER SNOW!!! As much of the country is plunged into the coldest winter in recent history, I thought it would help pass the stay-indoors-at-all-costs time to share some of my favorite chilly-themed lunch notes.

Living in the northeast, we get more than our fair share of snow days. We’ve even had a couple of school closings due to extreme cold and/or wind (like this week). But mostly we still cart our kids off to school a) so that they don’t end up attending classes until the fourth of July, and b) so the teachers can get on with enjoying their all-too-brief summers.

I’ve pulled together some of the lunch notes I’ve done for my son over the years — on days when he needs to bundle up a little tighter and hopefully not lose his thirteenth pair of gloves.

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MR. FREEZE
Yo, VIP! Let’s kick it off with a Vanilla Ice pun!

polar vortex lunch notes

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Depression Survey: You’re Not Alone

March 13, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

depression survey

I was compensated by Med-IQ through a grant from Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc. and Lundbeck to write about depression awareness. All my opinions are my own. 

Touched By Depression

Just before Thanksgiving, I shared about my struggle with depression, and what I did to find help. If you missed that, you can read about it here.

I also encouraged readers to take a survey by Med-IQ, an accredited company that provides continuing education courses for healthcare professionals. The questionnaire served as a tool to determine whether someone might be suffering from depression and what treatment options are available.

Thank you to all who took the survey! The number of responses far surpassed our goals, and I wanted to share the results gleaned from the almost 4,000 completed.

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Life & Lunch Notes: Mystery, Wrestling, and Gay Penguins

February 25, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

These recaps centered around my son’s lunch notes have been evolving, hence the new title, “Life & Lunch Notes.” Lately I tend to freeze up or get busy or easily distracted, and end up not writing about a lot of the things happening in life or bouncing around in my head. Yet they often find their way here, attached to a note.

So I hope someone is finding these posts. And not only enjoying the silly pictures, but the small snapshots of life between lunches.

Welcome, 2018! January SuperLunchNotes, unpacked…

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1.2 Unikitty

January SuperLunchNotes: Unikitty

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December SuperLunchNotes: Making Mealtime Merry!

January 8, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

December flew by like an icy, winter wind, scattering wrapping paper, dried up pine needles, and a smattering of holiday-themed lunch notes. So before I get too mired in the new year, here are December’s SuperLunchNotes!

I didn’t try to force themes onto each week, mainly because there were very few full weeks in December due to regular recurrences of holidays, bad weather, and sickness. Yet each note did have a bit of Christmas flair… or Hanukkah pizzaz in one case.

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12.1 Star Butterfly

December SuperLunchNotes Star vs the Forces of Evil

Star Butterfly is the lead character in Star vs. the Forces of Evil, one of the new batch of weird and wacky cartoons Jon has been watching lately. Though odd, I dig that Star is a powerful princess who takes no guff AND has a super sparkly wand! And several head-only Unicorns as pets. Like I said… odd.

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November SuperLunchNotes: Hero Flicks & Birthdays!

December 1, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

The last couple months of the year are a downhill avalanche of festivities for our little fam. Halloween quickly gives way to Jon’s birthday week, which then steamrolls into Thanksgiving, and then it’s just all-holidays all-the-time until January 2nd. Mixed in with the holidays and birthdays was a lot of movie-going — all of which provided some great lunchtime inspiration. So grab some popcorn, a turkey leg, and a slice of birthday cake — here comes November’s SuperLunchNotes!

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11.1 Thor  |  11.2 Hulk  |  11.3 Hela

November superlunchnotes

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October SuperLunchNotes: A Month of Villains!

November 1, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

Admit it — villains are more fun sometimes. They get all the good lines, they have the coolest gadgets and flashiest costumes, and they always go out with a bang. So in honor of Halloween and all things villainous, October SuperLunchNotes were ALL BAD GUYS ALL THE TIME. So sit back in your high-backed chair, stroke your white cat or twirl your mustache, and enjoy these devious doodles.

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10.2 Cruella de Vil

October SuperLunchNotes

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