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DIY Darth Vader and Baby R2D2 Costumes

Whelp here is one whopper of a #latergram.  I meant to post these costumes last October but ended up working on the baby’s until you know, midnight on 10/30.  Then I intended to post as a May the 4th celebration.  And now here we are, a full year later.

But hey, Star Wars mania is in full force, and these are two kid costumes you can literally turn out at the last second if you ha.

My older son was dead set on Darth Vader for weeks ahead of time so I was prepared for that one.

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What you need for Preschool Darth Vader:

  • Black t-shirt and sweatpants (got mine at Wal-mart)
  • Black gloves (Target has these for $1)
  • Embellishments: I used cheapo craft felt, plus a section of black strap I found on the cord aisle at Joann.
  • Black satiny fabric for cape
  • Velcro
  • Lightsaber (which we already had) and helmet (which cost more than the entire rest of the costume but it gets a lot of use.  It does the Darth Vader voice effect, so yeah, worth it.)

The cape is velcro’d on at the shoulders so it can come off if needed.  The felt decor and belt were just pinned in place then slowly sewed right around the edges with my sewing machine.  Boom.  Most impressive. (That is a Darth Vader quote, Bethany.)

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For poor Davis, we had decided to stick with the villain theme and make him a Jabba the Hutt tail to wear.  At that point in his life, Davis and Jabba sort of had similar body types. You know, the “rolls on top of rolls” look.  (I miss those rolls!!)  But then it was turning chilly and the Jabba tail just wasn’t coming together well.

And I ran across a picture of an R2D2 onesie on pinterest on approximately 10/29 that was just too cute.

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So for this Baby R2-D2 costume you will need:

  • White onesie
  • Gray pants (Also wal-mart)
  • Gray knit fabric to make your own infant cap
  • Blue, black, gray, red felt for decorations

Decorating the onesie is easy: cut out the felt, pin it in place, and then sew around the edges with coordinating thread on the sewing machine.  I had to sew the pieces on the arms by hand because the sleeve of the onesie was too tiny to fit my sewing machine. The sewing by-hand is a little tedious, but with the machine its shockingly easy.

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Now about the hat… I searched the tri-county area for a gray infant cap but alas the ONLY available colors are pink, blue, and yellow. After panicking a bit, the fog cleared and I realized that such a thing could be made from scratch.  Here is the tutorial and pattern I used, although I upsized it by about half an inch to fit a 6-month old (sniff sniff). The hat probably took an hour to figure out, and as any DIYer knows, an hour is practically nothing at all. I believe the entire R2D2 outfit took from about 9pm-midnight on Halloween Eve with at least 2 scrapped hats along the way.

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And that’s what we did in 2014.  I’ll be back in a year to show you what I’m sewing this week. (more capes, duh!) Happy Halloween and may the force be with your sewing machine between now and then!

Methuselah

In November of 2012, my dad turned 70.  Since it’s not often that one turns 70, I decided to throw him a big birthday bash and collect as many members of the family as I could.  About twenty of us gathered to eat and celebrate and generally have a good time.  Because my dad loves to fish, I decided I’d loosely theme the party around fishing.  For party snacks, I set out large bowls of Swedish fish candy and goldfish crackers and for the birthday cake, Elizabeth at the Puffy Muffin (who also did my wedding cake) did the most amazing fishing cake ever complete with realistic looking waves, fishing pole, bobber and lures.  We added a few extra guests at the last minute, so I grabbed a half dozen cupcakes while I was at the bakery and added Swedish fish as toppers.

Dad's fishing cake by Elizabeth at the Puffy Muffin.

Dad’s fishing cake by Elizabeth at the Puffy Muffin.  Call her for all your cake needs, big or small.  seriously.

However, finding fishing themed party items that didn’t revolve around Finding Nemo or other characters only suitable for preschoolers, proved to be quite a challenge. (side note, if you ARE planning a kid party, here’s a great party snack from Mary-Hall from our archives).  I ended up going simple and making a happy birthday banner out of burlap and aqua colored felt, serving drinks in Mason jars (my dad’s name is Mason…..clever, huh?) and making two giant fluffy blue tissue paper flowers/orbs/decorative things to put on the food table.

Dad surveys all his Birthday decor and treats.

Dad surveys all his Birthday decor and treats.

And THEN…..I took a cue from Mary-Hall, or actually from her mom, from long ago.  1996, to be exact. Remember our crazy high-school social club experience?  Well, since I wasn’t inducted as a member until 10th grade, but Mary-Hall had been “kidnapped” in 8th grade, she got to participate in the 9th grade “presentation” while I sat at her “table” as a guest.  The “tables” were a big deal and many a Mama spent hours (and no doubt serious dollars!) decorating their daughters’ tables.  Mary-Hall’s craftiness was directly inherited from her Mom, who had put together a lovely table for MH….complete with vases of water containing live goldfish.  Well, they were live when the program started, anyway.  Apparently the event was more than the poor fish could handle and by the time the program ended, a few of them had gone-belly up.  Sadly, I can’t find the glorious photo of us, at this blessed event, but here’s a photo of Mary-Hall for your viewing pleasure.  I was so sad I didn’t get one of those green dresses.  Seriously.  So sad.  Now…….notsomuch.

Mary-Hall looking classy.

Mary-Hall looking classy.

Fast-forward 16 years and the possibility of decor-going-dead-in-the-water did not deter me from copying this brilliant decoration at my dad’s party.  My friend Amy and I headed over to the “PetSupermarket” (not making that up) about 20 minutes away and for a grand total of $2.14, purchased 20 goldfish.  “Such a Deal!” as my Mom would say.  (In fact, I’m pretty sure she did actually say those very words in conjunction with said goldfish later on that afternoon.)  I filled up several jars with water and goldfish and arranged them festively on the table as centerpieces.  It looked adorable.  People loved it.  At the end of the day, the fish no longer had a purpose, but I didn’t have the heart to just flush them, so my niece’s then-boyfriend took half home in one of the mason jars, and I took the other half, fully expecting them to all be lifeless by the time we arrived home.

Over the next few days, they went on to that great goldfish-pond in the sky at the rate of about one every 12 hours until it was down to one, lone fish.  But he made it through a whole day alone, and then another and another….in fact he sat in the mason jar on the counter for about a week before I moved him to a larger vase.  And then after about two months, I figured I might as well buy him some goldfish flakes and a real bowl and those little rocks you put in the bottom of the bowl.  Keith laughed at my investment, but since the whole deal only cost $5 at WalMart, I figured might as well.  I gave the fishbowl a home on the piano in my office.  We went out of town for a week and I forgot to tell the housesitter to feed the fish.  To my amazement, he was still kicking, er, swimming when we came home.  I gave him a generous helping of flakes and promised to be a better fish mom.  Finally, on when he turned a year old, I decided to name the darn thing.  Since I’m pretty sure no 11 cent goldfish has EVER lasted this long, I dubbed him Methuselah, after all, I think a year and a half (his current age) is probably equal to 969 goldfish years.

The cat occasionally will hop up on the piano and sniff the bowl and Methuselah always swims over to check him out, as he does when anyone approaches him, but no incident has ever occurred.  I think I’m actually going to be sad when the little guy does pass on.  He brings a smile to my face every time I glance over and see him hanging out in his bowl.  Just taking it all in.

Methuselah, the world's oldest goldfish (maybenot, but close).

Methuselah, the world’s oldest goldfish (maybenot, but close).

Framing the Hens….

Don’t worry.  Despite the title, there’s no “fowl play” going on.  Nobody is blaming my girls for crimes they didn’t commit.  But they DID get framed recently.  Confused?  Let me explain.

Back in June, Mary-Hall got all crafty and painted four lovely mini-portraits….one of each of our original four hens.  She said the paintings were intended to bring a little lively decor to the inside of our henhouse, but I just couldn’t stand the thought of these lovely little works of art getting potentially ruined over time due to the elements….or….well….the chickens themselves.  (They are sweet little ladies but not exactly careful critters all the time.)  Although I’d looked many times, I couldn’t decide how to frame the paintings, couldn’t find ready-made frames that fit, and couldn’t quite justify spending money on custom framing. So, for months the canvases have been sitting on my desk where I look at them daily and smile at the thought of the sort of friendship that makes one paint pictures of the other one’s pet chickens.

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L to R: Gertrude (now deceased and replaced by Beverly Clucky), Jane, Sylvia & Louisa. Paintings by Mary-Hall.

But then a few weeks ago, two things happened: one, I had a day of super clean-out mood and cleaned everything off my desk leaving the paintings displaced, and two, on a late-night JoAnn’s run for something work-related, I located the perfect framing solution!  Behold….a shadow box!  Intended to frame anything that isn’t flat (such as seashells, or paper embelishments), the shadowbox frame is about an inch and a half deep, and comes in several standard sizes, one of which, 8in x 8in, was just perfect to from my 4, 4in x 4in canvases all in the same frame!  Although the frame was originally $19.99, I had a 50% off coupon and paid just over $10 including tax…and when I looked the product up to link it here for you guys, it looks like it’s currently only $8.00 online, so get it while you can!

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This shadowbox frame perfectly fits the four 4in x 4in mini canvases of my chicken portraits!

The next decision was where to display this tribute to our feathered friends.  Certainly the paintings are adorable and sentimental, but the fact remains that they are of, well, chickens and therefore slightly comical.  I needed a place where everyone would be able to enjoy their charm, but I wouldn’t be the girl with the chicken paintings hanging in the living room…..then it hit me.  There was an empty shelf in the downstairs bathroom just begging for something happy, so I brought the chickens in and bingo!  Perfection.

Our bathroom shelf.....

Our bathroom shelf…..don’t the chickens look so perfect all together in their little frame?

The downstairs bath.  Its so tiny....truly one of my favorite rooms in the house.

The downstairs bath. Its so tiny….truly one of my favorite rooms in the house.

What’s that book on the shelf next to the chicken pictures you ask?  Yes!  It’s a copy of “I Could Pee On This: And Other Poems By Cats.”  If you don’t have it.  You need it.  Trust me.  It’s so hilarious you might pee your pants though, so best to read it while you’re already planning on heading to the bathroom…..Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Keeping it classy.

Keeping it classy.

Update: Keith thinks that Mary-Halls paintings formatted the way I have framed them is very Andy Warhol a la Marilyn Monroe.  What do you guys think?

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DIY “Peter Pan” Necklace

Over Thanksgiving, my niece Emily and I found ourselves with no plans and a yen for a good fashion-accessory craft project.  Fortunately, we were with Keith’s step-mom, Dreama, who is one of the craftiest folks I know and had access to the internet.  Emily is super fashion savvy (see the end of the post for a collage of all the different ways she fixed my hair) and mentioned that she’d really like to make a Peter Pan Collar Necklace.  We did a quick Google image search, and found this particular blog post on “D & I (Design & Inspire) by Laurdiy” that looked not only easy, but like it would turn out a high-quality end product.  We printed out the pattern (and a coupon to JoAnn’s) and headed off to buy some beads.

The necklace-making process and a shot of the finished product.  Isn't my sweet Emmy so beautiful?

The necklace-making process and a shot of the finished product. Isn’t my sweet Emmy so beautiful?

The whole project was fairly cheap, simple, and really fun.  I’d for sure recommend creating with a friend though as gluing all those little beads in place takes a while.  I had lots of fun listening to Emily chatter away about school and friends while we worked.  And, because it’s simple but still stylish, it’s good for miniature and grown-up girls alike (except you might want to monitor tiny friends around the glue gun.)  We spent about $7 total (with our 50% off coupon) and made two necklaces.  Our materials included:

*grosgrain ribbon for neck tie (We stole ours from Dreama’s craft supply closet, but a roll only costs about $1)

*a tub of multi-sized pearl beads (about $6)

*2 beige colored felt squares (per necklace – 29 cents each)

*needle and thread

*hotglue and glue gun

Here are the basic steps that we used:

1. Print out the pattern from D & I and trace it onto the felt.  Cut out two of the felt pattern.  One to glue the beads on, and one to glue on the back to make it look more finished.

2. Cut two same-size pieces of ribbon to use as ties (measure on yourself depending on how long you want the necklace to hang down and how big a bow you want in the back.  I think this is a personal preference thing.)

3. Using the needle and thread, sew one ribbon onto the “back side” (just choose one) of each end of the felt pattern.  Then glue the second piece of felt on the back over the ribbons to make it look finished.

4. Hotglue beads onto the front of the felt collar.  We chose to mix sizes and loved the effect it made.

Wear and enjoy!

A few days later I got these photos with the text "Got my Peter Pan swag on."  Seriously though, isn't she so beautiful?

A few days later I got these photos with the text “Got my Peter Pan swag on.” Love this kid.

If only she lived closer and could be my stylist every day....

If only she lived closer and could be my stylist every day….

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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S’mores

Last night Keith and I hosted a birthday party for two friends who just happen to have birthdays in the same week.  There was lots and lots of yummy food, tortellini soup, cupcakes, baked brie with honey and pecans, pulled pork BBQ…..the girls in charge of the menu went all out!  But one of the snacks was such a cute idea that I had to pass it along to you.

My sweet friend Holli had offered to bring stuff for s’mores, which in MY thought process means grabbing a box of graham crackers and a bag of marshmallows and a few Hershey’s bars at the checkout- line on my way to the party.  Holli however went all out.  She made individual s’mores “kits”  and put them all in a cute wicker basket to pass around the campfire.  Before she headed out the door, I made sure to secure permission to post her cute creations on the blog and she was gracious enough to let me!

What You’ll Need:

*1 bag/package of individually wrapped “fun size” Hershey’s candy bars

*1 box graham crackers

*1 bag jumbo marshmallows

*1 box NON-ZIPLOCKING, FOLD-TOP sandwich bags such as these.

*1 roll of baker’s string, ribbon or twine

*small paper tags such as these.

What To Do:

*in each sandwich bag, place 1 marshmallow, 1 individually wrapped chocolate bar, and 1/2 of a graham cracker.

*tie a short piece of string, twine or ribbon around the bag to seal it (probably about 6 inch lengths would work best)

*choose a number, monogram, or graphic to decorate the tags, then tie one on to the ribbon of each packet.

*place all the s’mores packets into a basket and serve around the campfire!

Because both the birthday boy and girl were turning 32, Holli chose to put the number 32 on each tag.  However, this would be a great way to customize the project to fit your own occasion.  You could easily use the initial of the birthday person, date (birthdate, due date, anniversary, etc.), some sort of cute picture (such as a pink or blue image for a baby shower), a holiday clip art, or even your favorite sports team logo for a fall tailgate!  The sky is totally the limit as far as labels are concerned.  And these cute favors are obviously adaptable to a variety of situations.

I hope you enjoy these around your next campfire as much as we did last night!  And speaking of campfires…..we have a guest blog in the works that might inspire you to put together some s’mores kits and head out to the woods!  Stay tuned!

Individual s'mores kits by Holli!  So yummy and so cute!

Individual s’mores kits by Holli! So yummy and so cute!

Mario O’ Lantern

I know we’ve had sort of a pumpkin theme going on the blog here lately with Mary-Hall’s “How To Eat Your Jack-O-Lantern series (Part 1 and Part 2) and of course the ever-popular (and recently controversial) Paleo Pumpkin Scone post from last year.  But I just had to bring you one more pumpkin related post before letting the topic rest for a bit.

I found out very early on in my relationship with Keith that he was the pumpkin master.  The man in known for turning out incredibly artistic pumpkins each year and thus when we became family, he imparted all his pumpkin carving secrets to me and it’s become quite the family tradition now.  This past Saturday night we headed over to visit with our friends David and Amanda for their annual “Pumpkin Carv-inival.”  We’ve had some fairly epic (in my opinion) pumpkins in the past so we knew we had to bring it this year.  Before I show you our creations from this year, lets take a stroll down Bordeaux-Pumpkin memory lane, shall we?

2006 - Peace Sign

2006 – Peace Sign – Keith Bordeaux

2007 - Jesus - Keith Bordeaux

2007 – Jesus (or a young Bob Seger) – Keith Bordeaux

2008 - President Obama - Keith Bordeaux

2008 – President Obama – Keith Bordeaux

2009 - Dwight Schrute - Keith Bordeaux

2009 – Dwight Schrute – Keith Bordeaux

2010 - "BooGrrrr"  (in honor of Booger the Cat, of course) - Keith & Bethany Bordeaux

2010 – “BooGrrrr” (in honor of Booger the Cat, of course) – Keith & Bethany Bordeaux

2011 - Steve Jobs (Keith Bordeaux) & the Red Angry Bird (Bethany Bordeaux)

2011 – Steve Jobs (Keith Bordeaux) & the Red Angry Bird (Bethany Bordeaux)

Sadly, 2012 was a pumpkin-less year.  So much going on.  No time to carve the pumpkins.

I’m not a good decision maker when it comes to stuff like this…choosing a pumpkin pattern was eclipsed only by the difficulty of choosing a costume for tonight’s costume party (I’ll bring you photos from that later on this week)…but after much deliberation, I settled on keeping with the cartoon character theme I began in 2011 with my Angry Birds pumpkin and chose Mario from the original Super Mario Brothers Nintendo game.  I’m a child of the 80s.  What can I say?  Keith decided to go with the main character from one of his favorite shows…

2013 - Walter White (Breaking Bad) - Keith Bordeaux

2013 – Walter White (Breaking Bad) – Keith Bordeaux

2013 - Mario (Super Mario Brothers) - Bethany Bordeaux

2013 – Mario (Super Mario Brothers) – Bethany Bordeaux

In case you want to get all fancy-town with your pumpkins this year, I’ll leave you with a few tips.

1. Choose a pattern to sketch onto your pumpkin first.  We have had great success with the Zombie Pumpkin website.  You have to pay to download them, but the rates are pretty reasonable.  $2 for 2 patterns, or $5 for 25 patterns.  They also have them ranked by difficulty level so if you’re just starting out, you can choose a simple one, or get all crazy with it if you’re feeling up to the challenge.  Just tape the pattern on the the pumpkin, use a toothpick to punch small holes to make a dotted “outline” of the pattern on the pumpkin, then remove the pattern and use it as a guide as you cut.  MAKE SURE YOU DOUBLE CHECK WHICH AREAS STAY AND WHICH ARE CUT OUT!  (Our friend Blake had his daughter draw a picture and used that as the pattern for the pumpkin.  It turned out super cute and is a great way to have a cheap pattern as well as getting your kids involved without handing them a knife.)

2. Instead of cutting out the top of the pumpkin to make a lid, cut out the bottom of the pumpkin and throw it away.  This way the stem of the pumpkin is the “handle.”  Simply light a candle (or place a flashlight or other electric light) on your front step or wherever you choose to display your pumpkin, and then use the stem as a handle to set the pumpkin on top of the light source.  So easy.

3. Scoop out as much as you can to make carving simple.  Obviously you’ll want to scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff.  But if you keep on going and remove some of the meat as well, then it makes carving a whole lot easier since you don’t have as much to cut through.  Also, if your pattern calls for shading, making the wall thinner will help the light shine through and show more detail.

4. Make sure you use the tools of the trade.  Surprisingly enough, I really love those little $4 pumpkin carving kits you get at the grocery store.  We have always had great success with them.  They are easier to maneuver than large knives and you’re less likely to get hurt with the mini saw than a meat cleaver anyway.  You can also find a step up kit for about $15 and they even make little battery-powered saws (although poor Blake was accused of cheating when he whipped one of those out the other night.)  I’ve also heard that tools used in pottery and clay making (Those little wooden and metal-tipped tools) are great for pumpkin carving although I’ve not tried it.

5. Pumpkins don’t last forever.  Just like my beloved Pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, pumpkins don’t stick around forever.  At best, you’ll get a few days out of your creation.  So.  Figure out when to carve your pumpkin depending on when you want it to be displayed.  And, take lots of photos of it while it still looks good!

Best wishes in all your pumpkin carving endeavors.  I’d love to see what you guys come up with!

And in totally unrelated news…..my nieces and my brother-in-law Mark went camping this past weekend with friends, and the following music video was born.  We basically can’t stop watching it.  The “breakdown” that occurs at 2:02 by my niece Abigail is, well, just watch for yourself.  (And don’t forget, if you want to be a fox this year for Halloween, you could totally modify Mary-Hall’s DIY costume pattern.)

Homemade Skunk (Fox? Cat?) Costume

We aren’t really big tradition people over here.  In fact there is very little that we do every year, but as it turns out we now have a tradition of  homemade Halloween costumes in the Johnson residence.  This is largely due to my love for hasty impromptu sewing with faux fur (see also: that time in 10th grade when Bethany and I were dietician cats in a school skit. yeah!)

I get it honest though.  Check out the time I was both Charlotte and her Web back in oh, 1988-ish.

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My mom is the champion of homemade costumes, and mine are much less elaborate for sure.  But there’s something just plain fun about throwing something together without overthinking it, using stuff that’s been laying around plus some store-bought faux fur, obvs.

Here’s a my progress over the last three years:

0 yrs: Pea Pod

0 yrs: Pea Pod

1 yr: Organ Grinder Monkey

1 yr: Organ Grinder Monkey

2 yrs: Bamm Bamm

2 yrs: Bamm Bamm

And also, I totally lucked out this year because Ransom actually requested something really cute all on his own.  I figured this would be our first year of something commercial ala SpiderMan, Bob the Builder, Elmo but I guess we haven’t connected those dots yet and instead he asked to be a skunk.

The kid is really into smells right now.  One of his favorite things to do is exclaim loudly in a crowded room or elevator – “Mama! I smell something STINKY”.  Sometimes he does smell something stinky, ahem.  I usually respond with “I bet its a stinky skunk” which sends him into fits of laughter.  And then we also frequently call him a skunk as a term of endearment aka “Come here you little skunk” when he’s being, well, skunky.

So, I thought a quick easy and cheap skunk costume was a perfect selection for Mr. Ransom.  Here’s the finished product!  Definitely the most time consuming (prob 3 hours or so) and expensive (pushing $25 geez louise but priceless right?)

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To make this costume you will need:

  • A black hoodie and sweatpants – $10 from Wal-mart
  • Black and white felt – $2
  • Black and white faux fur – $7
  • Packing peanuts – $5 (outrageous! I’m sure you can get ’em cheaper than I did)

Plus I had the following laying around:

  • Needle & thread & sewing machine
  • Little bit of fiberfill
  • Fishing line

Piece the tail by making two mirror-image thick “S” shapes for the sides.  For the top and bottom, go for sort of a beaver tail shape, but cut the top and bottom pieces to “match” the upper and lower sides of the tail.  Here’s what my pieces looked like:

pieces Nothing here is critical, dimension-wise.  Just go with it! I drew out patterns on kraft paper, and then just cut out leaving an extra 1/2″ or so for seam allowance.  Flipping the patterns over is the easiest way to make things symmetrical.  Sew all the tail sections with right sides together.  Flip inside out and then stuff with…. packing peanuts!  Fiberfill was too heavy and unwieldy for Ransom and his sweatsuit.  Then sew the base of the tail to the booty of the sweatpants.  Finally, add an 8″ section of black thread or fishing line to each side of the tail at approximately shoulder level to form some supports.

For the sweat shirt, just cut out white felt stripes and sew them down with your sewing machine.  My cheapo machine hated this for some reason, and there are tension issues galore inside the sweatshirt, but who cares?  For the ears, just cut out two pairs of black triangles and make tiny triangle shaped pillows with fiberfill.  Stitch these on the hood wherever looks the most “realistic”.  Ha.  And finally, sew a couple of buttons right where the collar seam and the shoulder seams of the sweatshirt intersect.  Then you can put loops in the fishing line anchors to hold that stinky skunk tail up just like Pepe Le Pew.  You can see the buttons in this pic but ya can’t see the fishing line, hooray.

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And that’s it.  You could easily modify this to be a fox, cat, racoon, and so forth.  I was *this* close to seeing if Ransom would rather be a more culturally relevant fox.  I resisted.  But YOU could find a brown or red sweatsuit (or dye one), modify the tail pattern to be just red with maybe a white tip, and then train your child to make jibberish noises when asked “What does the Fox say?”  And then y’all will be the coolest on the planet.

Seriously, go sew something with faux fur. Its unbelievably satisfying.

Surprise Chicken Portraits

Well, this surprise/blog post is either incredibly well timed, or incredibly poorly timed.  I’m not sure which one… fingers crossed.

Let’s backup.  As you all know, Bethany recently built a chicken coop and got her first four chickens.  We’re all waiting with baited breath for the first eggs, are we not?  I wanted to make her a little chicken coop warming gift, and I took my inspiration from a collage Bethany made and even had as her facebook header photo for a short time:

The Ladies of the Yellow Barn Poultry Co.

I thought it would be kinda fun and kinda hilarious to convert those photos to miniature portraits of the lovely lady chickens in oils.  Michael’s sells 4″-square canvases for $3 each, and I had all the other stuff in my craft bin.  I used basically the same process as the Homemade Paint By Number, except instead of a projector I just used tracing paper to transfer the photo outlines to the canvas.  Here is the final product:

chicken_portraits

Hope you like them, B!  (You should get them in the mail today.)

Now about that timing issue.  Per social media updates, it seems that the chicken Gertrude actually passed on to chicken heaven just yesterday.   The paintings were already in the mail though, so fingers crossed Bethany is happy to get them and doesn’t burst into tears on the spot.  Ugh.

We’ll miss you Gertrude.  I think her painting is on the far left, based on a different photo.  Guess its appropriate that she’s sort of washed out and heavenly.

One final note:  Sorry about Sylvia the black chicken.  Ransom did that one.  (kidding)  I learned that its VERY hard to paint something that’s so black and not make it look like a kindergarten art project.  Someday maybe I’ll redo her one day.  It didn’t help that her photo was also kinda unfortunate looking, because she is younger than the other 3.  Basically, the other three chickens got lovely Senior Portraits, while Sylvia is stuck with an awkward junior high yearbook photo.

Homemade Paint-By-Number

Sometimes you just need a project.  You know, to keep yourself from trolling Craigslist for furniture that could potentially work for a house that you could potentially buy in a couple of months.. if you know what I mean.  And/or stressing over said house and all the little roller coaster rides that accompany the process.  Let’s just say – rural house buying with just a little acreage ain’t the faint of heart.  So many emails.  So many phone calls. “I have no idea what fire protection zone its in, should I?” Ugh.

This project started with an impromptu trip to the thrift store and ended up as a custom paint-by-number-ish bluebird painting.

startfinish

I took some inspiration from this paint-by-number mural. (Super cool for a kids room right?)  I love that vintage look and thought it would be easy to duplicate with a little help from photoshop.  And, its a pretty simple process that can be easily duplicated by anyone with some time on their hands.  To make it even more awesome, you could use a photo that you actually took, or one of a meaningful place, etc.  Pet portrait?

Ok, I’m putting a break in so I don’t consume the entire front page of the blog. Click through to see what I did, step by step with tons of pictures. Yay!

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