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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!

The Perks of Framing Wallflowers

Two Novembers ago my dear friend Jessica and her husband came to visit us.  Jessica has home decor style oozing out her very pores and so I naturally mentioned to her that I was stumped on what to hang above my desk in our office/music room/library.  She suggested that I needed a colorful painting and showed me some floral pieces online by a favorite artist of hers that I loved but couldn’t even begin to afford.  But Jess was completely unphased and said she’d painted a similar piece for her house…what colors did I like?  She bet she could make me one.  Barely 3 days after she got home, a gigantic package showed up on my front porch with a beautiful and bright painting inside.  I loved it and immediately hung it above my desk.  It made me smile every day as I worked.

My happy flower painting by my dear friend Jess.  Girl has an eye for decor...AND some mad painting skills.

My happy flower painting by my dear friend Jess. Girl has an eye for decor…AND some mad painting skills.

Ever since then, I have wanted to make some sort of whitewashed frame to make the happy painting pop even more against the chocolate brown walls.  But as I’m sure many of you have experienced, it just sort of sat at the top of my “to do” list and never got done.  Until I had the trifecta of perfect circumstances that made me put my intentions into action.  First, I had a rare free afternoon. Second, Keith had a few yard projects he wanted to knock out so I was hunting for a DIY to do and third, we’d just gotten some Hatch Show Prints framed on sale at Michael’s so we were in the picture-hanging mood.

I knew that I wanted something with a slightly whitewashed appearance.  Something similar to when my friend Amy and I made a decorative shelf for her bathroom.  I also really love the look of variegated planks (like on our chicken coop) so I decided that instead of doing a frame around the painting, I’d do one behind it out of slats of wood.  I wanted something a little sleeker than palate wood and not as heavy as lumber, so I headed to Michael’s craft store and straight to the model-plane making aisle where I chose 6 slats of ultra-light weight Balsa wood.  I got lucky because my painting was 20″ x 20″ and the Balsa wood slats were 4″ x 24″ inches which meant that 6 of them made a 24″ x 24″ square leaving 2 inches on each side of the painting.  The boards were $3.49 each so with tax the wood for the project cost less than $25.

Balsa wood planks from Michael's.

Balsa wood planks from Michael’s.

I laid out all the planks on a sheet of plastic and decided to go with a light grey paint instead of the minwax stain that I’d used on the shelf project as I felt like it complimented the white flower accents better than a stain would have.  However, I diluted the paint with water to it wouldn’t be so thick and would give more of a stain appearance than a paint appearance.  It worked really well and I painted all the boards with two thin coats.

Painting the boards

Painting the boards

The hardest part about the project by far was centering the boards on the back of the painting.   I laid the painting face down and then measured the slats and the painting to make sure that all sides were equal.  Then starting in the middle and working out, I nailed each slat to the wooden frame of the canvas using tiny tacks and a hammer.  (Make sure your nails are tiny as balsa wood splits easily.)  Then I attached a picture hanger to the back (we had one in the shed, but they are only a dollar or two if you have to buy one) and voila!

The finished product!!  So excited about how it turned out!

The finished product!! So excited about how it turned out!

The Hatch prints we’d gotten framed (that I mentioned at the top of the post) were originally intended to be hung in our living room which has gotten a bit of a facelift as of late.  But as seems to often happen with redecorating, hanging one print turned into an all-out fruit-basket-turnover of wall art throughout the house.  While I loved having the painting from Jess above my desk, I also wanted it somewhere that everyone would see it…not hidden in my office.  So we gave it a home on the most prominent wall in our living room where it will make everyone who comes through our doors smile.  Hanging next to it is my Nickel Creek reunion tour Hatch Print from the Ryman show, while my Eucharisteo painting adorns the wall to the left and a wood-mounted photo of a piano by local photographer Eden Frangipane (it’s the first photo you see if you click here) hangs on the wall opposite.  And our living room is now officially the happiest place to be.  There are definitely perks to having wallflowers.

My happy painting and my favorite chair.  The perfect nook.

My happy painting and my favorite chair. The perfect nook.

 

Out With The Old, In With the…….Older

By now, you’ve probably realized that I can’t keep anything the same for too long when it comes to furniture.  I love swapping out items for something cuter and more functional, particularly if I can get it at a bargain.  But my quest for something new doesn’t always mean actually NEW….just new whatever place in the house needs something different.  In fact, some of my most favorite pieces in our home are old, like a dresser that I’ve been using since just after college.  It was my grandfather’s dresser when I was a kid and sometimes I expect to find his clean white hankies carefully folded in the top left-hand drawer when I open it.

But as all you married folks out there know, one dresser, no matter how fabulous, is not enough for two people.  We’ve been on the hunt for a second dresser for a while now, limping along with a cool, but impractically designed inside, chifferobe that I bought at an antique store for cheap in college.  The problem was that we loved my grandfather’s dresser so much that we didn’t want to give that up, but finding something that matched was impossible and even something that merely complimented it was proving a monumental task.  I was about to just throw in the towel and buy a dresser, any old dresser, just to be able to put my laundry away.

A few weeks ago when Keith and I were in Mississippi helping with the garage sale at my grandmother’s house, my mom was trying to figure out what to do with the “good furniture.”  We’d been able to sell anything that lacked sentimental or actual value, but there were several pieces remaining in the living room that were legitimately antique,  were still in fabulous shape, and that quite frankly, no one could bear to part with because there were just too many memories attached.  We were able to make space in my parent’s house for a couple of them by rearranging and selling a bookshelf of my mom’s, and several things were earmarked to go to my uncle’s apartment, but a few pieces still needed a place including a beautiful buffet that has been in my grandparent’s dining room as long as I can remember.  It had been given to them by my great-grandmother who had used it in her house, so while I’m not sure exactly how old it is, I’m thinking that 75 years or so at least is a safe estimate.

And then it hit me.  Just because it was intended to house dishes and silverware, china and goblets, didn’t mean it couldn’t be the perfect home for socks and t-shirts and running clothes.  And while my grandmother always adorned the top with a teapot and tea cozy year round and tins upon tins of pecan sandies and other cookies at Christmas, that didn’t mean I couldn’t set all my perfume bottles and jewelry out on an old mirror.  I bought some dark wood Old English scratch cover and polish, gave it a loving coat, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out.  And love that not only is it practical, but it’s a little piece of history as well.

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Kitchen Desk

We have accomplished another goal, nursery-wise.  We finally finished the built-in kitchen desk {that we started in January}!  I’d like to blame this delay on Ransom but honestly we’ve always been a little slow in the construction department.  Chalk it up to 14 combined years of engineering school – we think about things from EVERY angle.  Then one of us continues to deliberate about very small details.  Then the other one has to argue with that one about why we should ignore that particular issue, move on, etc etc.  And then finally we make progress.

8 weeks later we have a perfect little desk.  How is this nursery related?  Well, this computer that was sitting right in the middle of the nursery.  I like its new home here, easy access to online recipes, pandora, etc, right in the main family area.

So, what was once a spot for a stand-up freezer in the “laundry room” is now a built-in desk with two drawers.  I use “quotes” because the laundry room is right in the kitchen, separated only by some air.  In general, we wanted to make this desk simply ‘fit in’ with the rest of the space, so the countertop roughly matches the floor, and we used the same paint color from the cabinets.

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Its sort of a narrow hallway that makes it near impossible to take pictures of.  Oh PS, Ransom is enjoying healthy snacks of course, as per usual – popcorn dipped in sour cream.  I’m kidding about the sour cream, there are actually choco chums in that bowl. 

Also, you can see the much deliberated ‘off-white’ paint in action, next to a healthy dose of ‘butter’ up top.  We’ll bust out the ladder one of these days.

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The desk has two drawers that are pretty useful for storing staplers, pencils, highlighters, etc. There is more work to be done, but at least we’ve got functionality.  First, we need a new printer, either a wireless one that can be tucked away somewhere else, or one that can fit in the adjoining broom closet, perhaps?  How many brooms does one family really need?

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Either way, the current “printer on the floor” solution is just temporary.  The other problem situation is the rat-nest of cords behind the chair.  You can’t see it all that well in this pics, but its there. And finally, we want to add either open shelving or some sort of shelving/mail sorting/router hiding unit up high.  Something like this:

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All in all, we do kind of love little carpentry projects.  Even if we take forever.  Perfectionism is worth the wait?  It is what it is?  Something like that…

Paint Color Selection

I know everybody has been dying to know which color of gray paint we went with, after trying 8 or so different options all over the living room walls.  And we have made a selection, I believe.

Its practically the neutral-est neutral there ever was, I guess.  No risk taking here – this is the Switzerland of paint colors.

Its so neutral that although I liked the looks of the paint chip in the store, I hesitated to try it for fear of being too boring.

The paint is named…

you’ll be shocked by this.

Dragon’s Mist.

..

..

.

.

Nope I’m kidding.

.

.

.

Its called “Off white”.

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In our wacky house with all the fluorescent tube lighting, ‘off white’ does in fact look like a pale gray.  Its certainly an upgrade from the current ‘butter’ color.  And best of all, it doesn’t clash with the 51 cabinets that are already painted a green/gray/khaki color.  And since there are 51 of them, and the paint is in perfect condition, THEY will not be repainted.  They will be worked around.

But agh, is ‘off white’ too bland for all 57,000 square feet of wall space in this room?  Maybe.  But perhaps we have enough going on between the brick and the wood trim and the wood floors.  A little ‘Blah’ may be just the ticket.  Sure hope so.

Here’s a shot of the ‘off white’ right next to some cabinets.

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What we have here is a partially constructed kitchen desk area, which just one step in the plan for the baby nursery.  Hopefully we’ll finish this little project this week, and move on to stuff like putting the crib together.

Oh side note, the reason why I know we have 51 cabinets is because I just ordered new hardware for them.  NOW for the risk taking.

martha_brassBRASS!  Goodbye brushed nickel.  The knobs will go on the cabinet doors, which means I’ll have to fill 51 now-extraneous holes and paint over them.   Sounds like a perfect maternity leave project, doesn’t it?

Fifty Shades of Gray Paint

This could’ve been a blog post where I explain how to pick the perfect gray paint color and show how grand it looks in our living room, but ahem… Our paint color selection process is not yet over.  Currently we have 5 shades of gray paint doing tryouts in the living room.  (Only 45 more to go.)

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Turns out that picking a gray paint is quite difficult.  I should’ve hired an interior decorator or color expert or whatnot but instead, I’m just going the usual DIY brute force route by staring at paint strips for hours and buying tons of little sample pots (5 so far).  Here is my collection of paint strips, very helpful indeed.

paintchipsI’ll let you guess which one was Ransom’s suggestion. 

Our living room has a lot going on already: pine trim, khaki-ish cabinets, several walls of exposed brick.. i.e. red with gray mortar.  Combine all that with decent daylight but very dim lighting at night (which we plan to replace).  So a nice light shade of neutral is in order, right?  Gray seems like the obvious choice.  Its kind of ‘a thing’ these days, just ask pinterest or google.  It can be ‘neutral’ and ‘interesting’ and ‘unobtrusive’ all at the same time.

But what I’ve learned thus far is, gray paint (grey? greige?) can actually completely transform, right before your very eyes – to pink, blue, green, even purple.  Which direction each paint sample will lean on my walls is totally different from how it looks on the paint strip, so we’re sort of in a guessing game at this point.  And, the colors that look half decent during the day look a lot worse at night, or look at lot worse right next to the cabinetry.

Also there’s the added pressure that this one room is literally 50% of our house, with vaulted ceilings.  i.e. painting will require extension ladders (or scaffolding?) and many gallons of paints..  I.e. lots of both time and money.  OH THE PRESSURE.

And a final tip to anyone else buying paint samples.  You can paint those samples on to white posterboard which can then be moved around, switched in an out, and then conveniently placed in the garbage when you finish.  Thus avoiding the permanent patchwork look in your home.  Here’s an example from the internet:

from here

I knew that trick, but was too lazy to implement since I didn’t have any posterboard on hand…

Later today I’m heading back to Home Depot to gather a few more options.  Maybe ditch gray entirely and go with ‘white’.  Oh but there are so many shades of white too.

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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An Intentional Kid Friendly Advent Plan

Y’all, I’ll be honest.  I’m feeling pretty proud of myself for getting this done(ish) before December 1.  I had the idea last year on, like, 12/3 and it was just didn’t happen.  But that’s probably for the better, Ransom will “get it” much more this year than he would have last year.  And I’m posting it today, rather than in December, in case you also need a reminder to get on ‘that thing’ you meant to do last year but didn’t get around to it.  December is so busy that a little advance preparation is always useful.

For our Christmas season, I wanted to do something to help Ransom understand better what Christmas is.. what we are celebrating.. the meaning behind the gift giving.  My very toy-centric kiddo has a firm grasp on Santa Claus that he has developed all on his own, and he can answer simple questions like “Who’s birthday are we celebrating?” “Who was Jesus’s mother?” But that’s about the extent of it.  And honestly, we adults get fairly lost in the commercialized holiday madness, do we not?

Still, we are a family of Christians and I thought it would be great to try to shift the focus from Mr. Kringle in an intentional way that fits into a 3-year-old’s world.  My idea sprung from the Advent tradition of counting the days from 12/1 to 12/24, opening a small gift or candy on each one.  I like the counting of the days – the building anticipation of Christ’s arrival.  But instead of candy, the focus will be on the Christmas story and all the different players on the scene.

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I hit up Ebay for a fairly complex nativity set.  With a little creativity, I stretched the set into 24 different “pieces”.  We’re going to open one of the nativity pieces each day, loosely in order of their arrival in the Christmas story.  We’ll start with the stable on 12/1, then the stable’s farm animal residents, then the inn keeper, Joseph, Mary, the manger, a big shiny star, an angel or two, shepherds, the three kings of Orient, and then finally Baby Jesus himself on Christmas Eve.  Ransom will open the gift every night at dinner and we’ll discuss who each character is and that part of the Christmas story.

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I set out for a Fontanini-knock-off vein with colorful but realistic plastic figures.  There are a lot of options out there, but the nativity  I ended up with is actually a Playmobil set.  Doesn’t get more kid-friendly than that!  Its been in production for a number of years and still is.  This keeps the price fairly reasonable – mine was $30 for everything with shipping and I’ve seen them go for less.  Then we supplemented with a couple of horses and a “shepherd” from August’s childhood toy stash to get us up to the 24 needed pieces.  And a random Christmas ornament to be the star.  I have plans to make a wooden manger, since the one that came with the set is just paperboard and will not likely survive the entire Advent season.

So, that’s what we’ll be doing to make this Christmas season a little bit special and keep our focus on the Christ child. What about you? Starting any new traditions?

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The shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

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When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

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Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

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.)

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