Archive | December 2013

Christmas Reunion

The holidays have been downright crazy-town for both the Bordeaux and Johnson families this year, but we somehow managed to have the happy fortune to end up in the same town on the same day once again. This time we were both in Columbus visiting our parents for Christmas and managed to get a couple of hours this past rainy Saturday afternoon to catch up and do important things such as a grocery run, discount-store shopping and a cup of pay-by-the-ounce yogurt.

When I went by to pick Mary-Hall up for our all-important errand excursion, Ransom, the cutest three year old on the planet, said my name which pretty much made me melt in to a puddle of joy. “Bethany….come over here and see my trains!” That sweet little chirpy voice. I can’t stand it. {also, when MH told him that we were going shopping and would be back later he said “ok. I’m gonna stay here with the boys. We’ll be working.” which also pretty much made me want to squeeze him.}

I know things have been quiet on the blog-front recently. We’ve been slammed with work and well, life. But we’re excited to kick of 2014 with some bloggy goodness….we each have big trips planned, MH had lots of baby crafts and nursery decorating escapades up her sleeve and I’m hoping to get a few DIY things done myself. So stay tuned because the girls are back. And to prove it, I bring you this quality photograph. We can’t wait to spend another year with you guys!

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Easy DIY Nutcracker / Toy Soldier Costume

Recently I found myself in need of a 3-year-old sized toy soldier costume – specifically, a cheap one that could be constructed in the course of an evening or two.  The “event” was just over the horizon, so there wasn’t time to order one.  Party City was a complete letdown.  And I thought Target might have at least SOMETHING fun, you know, hanging next to their vast selection of reindeer antler headbands.  But alas, no.

But there in the Target kids clothes section, I had an epiphany.  It was nothing short of a Christmas miracle.  And I was pretty pleased with the end result.  Here is Ransom doing his best ‘nutcracker’ face:

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So here you go – all you Moms, teachers, and Scout Troop leaders in need a soldier, nut cracker, or you know, marching band outfits for preschoolers.  (I know, obviously a LARGE target audience.) Here is how you can crank out a pretty cute outfit with just the usual home crafting supplies plus a couple of life-saver purchases.

First, you just need a little boy’s sport coat.  I used a size ’18-months’ sport coat (left over from Easter 2012) for my 3-year old.  He wore it like a shirt rather than a coat, so too small was a-okay.  Open the lapel, pop the collar, and iron.  Like so.

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Step Two: Change the buttons to something more festive, and add a new top button to hold that lapel flat.  My top button is fake, with velcro actually doing the work.  I don’t know how to cut a real button hole.  I used some leftover red and white buttons I already had, but brass would be perfect.

Step Three:  Bling it out!  I grabbed 3 yards of various gold trims from the craft store {like a kid in a candy store.  What could be better than oodles of gold trim?}.  I attached these to the coat using hot glue or needle-n-thread or my sewing machine, whichever was be easiest depending on the trim.  The possibilities are endless here – google up some pictures of nutcrackers if you need inspiration.  I think the little shoulder details are pretty critical.

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Step Four:  The sleeves were too short, so I added a 3-inch wide loop of felt at the bottom of each, with a fake button.  No hemming needed for felt!

The key to keeping this economical is to use what you’ve got.  No Christmas buttons?  Paint what you’ve got with nail polish.

For accessories, I purchased a $5 pair of track pants (from Target) – they have several colors with plain white stripes down the side, so pick one to coordinate with your coat.  Ransom wore his rain boots, and I spray painted a $2 pop gun.  The hat is a combination of: one cool whip tub, poster board, felt, and a piece of elastic, and a considerable amount of hot glue.

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So simple and so fun.  I do believe I missed my calling as a cheap, easy costume inventor.  Is there a job market for such skills?

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Music Review: Songs from Along the Way

Bethany’s CD has been out for a little over a week and its been in steady rotation in the Johnson household since it arrived at our doorstep.  And so here is my attempt at a “music review”.

Bethany has many accomplishments along her musical journey.  She has played her own bridesmaid entrance processional (i.e. playing while walking).  She has played in a faux backup band for Kellie Pickler and Taylor Swift (i.e. playing while acting).  She has played the Rankin County Barnyard Opry (i.e. playing while keeping a straight face).  But this CD – ‘Songs from Along the Way’… this is my favorite yet.

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First, the album packaging and photography are lovely.  Having grown up with her, hotglueing faux fur to house slippers and whatnot, my first reaction opening the package was along the lines of ‘oh wow this is really a legitimate product.’  It was even shrink-wrapped.  But I mean really, I would expect no less. The music though – Guys, it is killer.  I’m not just saying that because the artist is one of my closest friends on the entire planet.  Seriously.

The whole CD is enjoyable from start to finish.  Bethany is rocking it on the violin, and the guitar and piano players are no slouches. The guitar provides a steady driving undertone, harmonic complements come from the piano, all the while Bethany’s violin soars fast and free, up and down, in and out.  Little bits of added percussion here and there tie it all together.

The more upbeat tracks leave you with no choice but to tap your foot and nod your head, at a minimum.  Those less inhibited (3 year olds especially) will break into an all-out jig.  The lively party tracks are balanced out by several slower, more introspective passages.  Among my favorites of these is #4 Ashokan Farewell – so much emotion wrapped in there like only a violin can deliver.

This is perfect music to have playing in the background during a dinner party.  Your guests will think you’re smart for listening to instrumental music.  Other recommended uses:  Saturday morning cleaning, airplane takeoffs and landings, and while reviewing endless Excel spreadsheets.  Basically I haven’t found an inappropriate venue yet.

So there you have it.  I’m giving Bethany’s freshman album ‘Songs from Along the Way’ a big 5 stars for excellence all around.  Buy one and see for yourself.
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