Saturday, November 30, 2013

November at Our House

It has been a month full of notable quotables around here!

M: "If our wall was this color pink {holds up leg near the wall}, I would blend in."

After bath time, I discovered him holding a plastic spoon over one nipple and his hand over the other.
Naturally, I asked, "What are you doing?"
L: "Covering these up."
Me: "Well, let's get you dressed then."

M: "Look how fancy I am now -- 3 headbands!"

While cutting his hair, the stylist was chatting with him about Halloween and asked what his sister had been.
L: "A witch!" 
Unfortunately, I was the only person in the whole salon who heard the "b" sound. They all burst out laughing.

L {looking outside}: "Wait, wait, wait. I know what happened. The rain frozed-ed and now it's ice -- so it must be Christmas!"

M {very mad}: "The helicopter made me hit my head!" (Apparently the noise of a helicopter flying over the house startled her and distracted her from building with her Legos. I have no clue why, though, because they fly over pretty regularly and nothing like that has happened before.)

L: "Ow! It hurts when I put my teeth on myself." (Yes, child, it does.)

L {showing me where to put lotion}: "On my bender part." {points to his knee}

L: "When I grow up, I'm going to build my own house near a BIG water park!" (Obviously.)

L: "Uh oh! I swallowed my whole candy." (hard candy)
Me: "Is it stuck in your throat?"
L {shakes head "no"}: "My stomach is really BIG!"

Returning home from Thanksgiving dinner, it was close to bedtime and quite dark by the time we made it to the freeway. Despite this, the kids seemed pretty wired, and we soon heard a little voice in the backseat.
M: "I feel like we're nocturnal." 

Friday, November 29, 2013

DIY Poodle Skirt (No-Sew!)

Last Friday was Mia's 50th day of school, and her first grade class was celebrating with a 50's theme. She had asked me if she could have a poodle skirt, and initially I thought there was no way I could pull that off with only a couple days notice. Then, I checked my craft stash and came across plenty of pink felt and a black iron-on poodle and some white pearl trim for the leash. Yes, I had actually hoped to make myself a poodle skirt several years ago, (like, B.C. -- Before Children era -- years ago). My sewing skills are not the greatest so I never got past the point of purchasing the materials!

Deciding that I had very little to lose here, I found an online tutorial for making a NO-SEW poodle skirt. The only thing I needed to purchase was some iron-on Velcro. The directions said that I would only need 2 inches, so instead of purchasing an entire package, I got 8 inches at the cutting counter at Jo-Ann. (I figured it was best to buy a bit extra just in case!) With my coupon, this cost me a grand total of 91 cents, so again, I felt that I had little to lose if it didn't go well. Actually, I guess that's not completely true. While at Michaels (which is right next to Jo-Ann, so I couldn't very well go to one and not pop into the other), I found some cute rhinestone ribbon trim in the $1 section. I couldn't resist getting this even though I knew I would use very little for this particular project. Honestly, it was a good deal, and I know it will get used for something else, but if you really want to know what I spent on this project it would be fair to share that.

I am happy to say that this project was a huge success, which I owe to my daughter who was entirely confident that I would produce a wearable skirt despite having never made her any type of clothing in the past. Her belief in me helped me feel that I could achieve what I had set out to do. Now that I have managed to make one cute little poodle skirt, I am thinking I should be able to finally make one for myself. I even have plenty of time to get it done before Halloween!

{Happy 50th Day of School!}

  • 1 yard pink felt (or color of your choice -- this is the just color and amount I used)
  • scissors (I suppose fabric scissors are optimal; I used my regular old scissors.)
  • iron-on poodle applique (or use the template provided by obSEUSSed with your own felt)
  • pearl trim for leash (ribbon or other trim would work, as well)
  • iron-on Velcro (I used 3 inches total)
  • ruler (or measuring tape, if you have one)
  • iron
  • hot glue gun
  • black pom pom for tail (optional)
  • rhinestone trim for collar (or sequined trim, optional)

1) (Note: I appreciate that obSEUSSed came up with this easy way to figure out how much felt to use.) Measure your child from the waist to her knees. I actually have a dressmaker's measuring tape somewhere... not sure where, though, so I used a plain old ruler. (See, I swear anyone can do this, and you do NOT need sewing skills!) My girl is petite so it was only 14 inches. I double that to get 28 and then added 8 more to come up with a total of 36. I used a white pencil and my ruler to help me figure out how to get a 36 inch square from my bundle of felt and then cut it out (using regular scissors, NOT fabric scissors, and it came out just fine for this non-sewing mama). Note: The blog post I got this from said she made a 42 inch felt square for her daughter, so make sure you take measurements before buying fabric as there is quite a bit of difference among children's sizes.
2) Fold the fabric twice to make a square half the size of the original. (Mine was 18 inches. Hers was 21 inches.)
3) On the edge that is NOT folded, cut a curved line from one corner to the other. (obSEUESSed includes a photo if you want to see how this looks.)
4) This is the part that confused me at first, and I had to have Brett read the directions and explain them to me, "While folded, mark 4 inches from the folded corner on both folded sides. Cut a curved line from each mark. This creates a 16 inch waist opening. It will be adjustable." (quote from obSEUSSed)
Now that I read this again, it makes sense. Basically, you are cutting away a section that has two straight lines and one curved line that has a 4 inch radius. Once you unfold the fabric it turns out to be a full circle with a 16 diameter. (Again, check her photos if you need clarification.)

5) With the fabric unfolded, cut a line from the outside edge to the inside edge. It doesn't matter where you cut, but I did try to get a relatively straight line. Now you have made the basic skirt, and you are on to the easy (and fun!) part: embellishment!

6) I decided that I wanted the cut part to be in the back of the skirt, and then I decided to place the poodle on the lower right are of the skirt (as seen when she is wearing it.) Since my applique was an iron-on, I just heated up my iron and followed the package directions, flipping over the fabric and ironing from the reverse side. It said to apply heat for just 30 seconds I believe, but I found that it took 3 repetitions before it was set. To be on the safe side, I had a kitchen towel in between my iron and the felt so that may have been the reason for the delay. (Note: While it saved me time, using the applique was more expensive that her version with the homemade poodle. Even though, I didn't buy it recently, it seems fair to mention that I priced this out at around $6 at Jo-Ann.)

7) Once the poodle was placed, I laid out my pearl trim and arranged it to make a couple of fun loops, making its way to the upper left corner of the skirt. After my glue gun was hot, I used it to adhere the pearl trim in my chosen design. (Note: Again, I had purchased this long ago, and I did not occur to me to figure out a price. I think I used just under a yard of the stuff, which is essentially the same as a little girl's pearl necklace except that it is broken. Well, I am pretty sure we have a broken necklace laying around somewhere that I could have used if I were being more frugal!)

8) I blinged out the poodle further with a black pom pom (already had this) for the tail, and that cute turquoise rhinestone trim, both of which I applied with my hot glue gun.

{After adding the poodle and trim}

9) For the closure, I did it differently that obSEUSSed. She just used two 1-inch sections of the "pokey" side of the Velcro, which she says will cling to the material and make it adjustable. I used 3 inches of both sides for extra security since she was going to wear it ALL day at school. I had extra left over, so I can always adjust the sizing down the road, since this is bound to become a Halloween costume at some point. First, I used a 1 inch section of the soft side and ironed it to the the inside corner (so that when she would wear the skirt, the other end would fold over it -- this was where I ironed the corresponding 1 inch section of the "pokey" side of the Velcro. (Per directions on the package at the store, I flipped the fabric over and ironed from the reverse side, holding it down for 90 seconds.) Then, I had Mia try the skirt on, and I decided to place another set of 1 inch Velcro tabs, so that there was about 2 1/2" gap between them. There was a lot of excess material, so I cut away some from the inside fold so that it would lay better. Then, I added another set of hook/loop closures to the bottom of the skirt. The placement was determined by where the material was hitting, kind of the opposite of what I had done with the waist closure.

In the end, the poodle skirt didn't fit her quite as well as I had hoped, but it was definitely good enough for a "costume." I simply told her that she had to wear leggings underneath, just in case. Fortunately, she didn't mind and she was really thrilled to have her very own poodle skirt, enthusing that she had "always wanted one!" (This was news to me, but I was happy that she was happy. Also, I made a poodle skirt! Who wouldn't be excited to realize she could do that?!)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Turkey Table Toppers

Here's an easy craft to keep the kids busy this Thanksgiving. Once again, this idea is brought to you by our wonderful library lady, Mrs. D. (I hope she isn't offended that I love her ideas and run with them!) These turkey table toppers are fairly quick and easy for little ones to create without too much parent prep. I think that it would be cute to have child-made place cards for everyone by simply adding names to the tail feathers. That would surely make for a happy Thanksgiving table.

The good news is that most of the items needed for this project are things you likely have at home. The only item you may not have are the Bingo markers. I assume that the library ordered these Bingo daubers, but my suggestion is that you save yourself a lot of money and get some from Dollar Tree! I bought ours there over two years ago and they are still working great. (I normally see these in the school supply aisle.) We have red, orange, green, blue, and purple. The only color I have seen at Dollar Tree that I did not purchase was black since I figured that would have limited craft possibilities. Personally, I think this was a great investment for kids' crafts so I would definitely recommend getting some!

{Turkeys by Logan, 4, and Mia, 6}
  • TP tube
  • small paper plate
  • scissors
  • tacky glue (or school glue)
  • yellow/orange construction paper
  • brown construction paper
  • pencil
  • 2 googly eyes (or eyeball stickers)
  • Bingo markers (or regular markers)
  • red pipe cleaner (or construction paper)
  • something to protect work surface (optional)
  1. Cut a small paper plate in half. One half is needed per turkey, so if you are only making one turkey, set this aside for another project. (One option is this paper plate turkey.)
  2. Cut a toilet paper tube in half. If you want to make lots of turkeys but you are short on TP tubes, you can also cut them into thirds. Using your scissors, make two small notches on one end of the tube, about 1/4" deep. They will be spaced equally apart so that the paper plate will be able to slide into the notches after it is decorated. (If you need a project for leftover tube sections, try making bird feeders.)
  3. Make a beak out of yellow (or orange) construction paper. The easiest way to do this is to cut a strip of paper and then cut a smaller rectangle from the strip. Then, fold the rectangle and cut a triangle so that the fold is the base of the triangle. When glued onto paper, this will make a 3-D beak.
  4. Draw and cut out a turkey body from brown construction paper. The basic shape is a small circle on top of a larger circle and it should be about 4 1/2" tall. (Note: Mrs. D.'s is thinner and reminds me of a bowling pin and mine looks a bit more like a fat pear, but I think they both are fine. Also, hers is flat on the bottom and mine is rounded, and they both seem to stand up nicely, so take your pick.) Tip: If you are planning to make more than one turkey, use the first one as a template and trace around it to make more.
  5. For the wattle, we used a scrap of red pipe cleaner. If you want to use pipe cleaner, you may need to cut a piece about 1" long. Tip: I keep left over bits of them in an old plastic peanut butter jar for times when we need just a small piece. This way, we don't have to cut up a perfectly good pipe cleaner. Tip: If you don't have pipe cleaners, you could also make a wattle from red construction paper, cut into a kidney bean shape.
  6. Have your child decorate the half paper plate using the Bingo markers. It doesn't matter which side of the plate gets decorated. Tell kids that they do NOT need to press hard. Tip: If the ink isn't flowing well, make sure the cap is secure, and shake the Bingo markers. If this doesn't work, gently tap, tap, tap the marker until the ink starts flowing. Set aside to dry. Tip: Sometimes markers will bleed through, so you might want to protect your table before starting. I like to use cereal box liners, but you can also use newspaper, an old vinyl tablecloth, or wax paper. Tip: If you don't have Bingo markers, let your child decorate the plate with regular markers.
    {Mia made a rainbow turkey.}
  7. Have your child decorate the turkey's body. Mrs. D. provided eyeball stickers for a no-mess option. (Logan's make me smile because one is upside down.) Mia used googly eyes and adhered them with tacky glue. (Tip: If you don't have eyeball stickers or googly eyes, use a black marker to draw eyes.) Next, both kids glued down their beaks. Mia then added her red pipe cleaner wattle. (Tip: If you don't have a pipe cleaner, use red construction paper or draw one with a red marker.) Lay flat until glue is completely dry.
  8. Kids may need help with assembling their turkeys. Place some glue on the back of the turkey's body and affix it to the tube, making sure that the two slits are on the top of the tube, and are to the left and right of the body. Slide the paper plate, flat side down, into the two slits so that the colorful side is facing the front.
  9. Display your child's turkey table topper. You may want to make several for all of your Thanksgiving guests.
One final thought: I know it has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, but Mia's rainbow tail feathers inspired me, and I could totally see tweaking this craft and making it into a showy peacock. To do this, use pretty blue paper in place of brown. Skip the wattle, and add lots of colorful Bingo marker dots to the body. For a final flourish, add a blue feather on top of the peacock's head, and voila! A pretty peacock!

Have a blessed and safe Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cupcake Liner Owl Craft

This cute craft is brought to you by our lovely library lady. During story time, Logan (my kid who is actually not all that into crafting) happily produced this cheery bird. I think that he loves Mrs. D., so she motivates him to be creative, which is great. The cupcake liner eyes are perfectly adorable, and I only wish that I had thought of it myself!

{Cupcake Owl by Logan, Age 4}
Mia liked this feathery fellow, too, so we made a few more to hang in the window. For most of them, I just traced the original to get the body's shape. However, she wanted one baby owl, so I drew a smaller body.

{Red Owl by Logan}
  • construction paper
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • glue (tacky glue works best)
  • 2 googly eyes (or paper circles)
  • feathers (or paper strips)
  • 2 cupcake liners (we used both regular size and mini)

  1. Draw and cut out the owl body. If you are making several, you may want to keep the first cut-out and use it for a template. The basic shape is an oval. On one end, instead of rounding it, create a pointed triangle shape. Fold this down for the owl's head. (My kids ended up wanting these to hang out like a flap instead of being secured, so I am not sure that is what Mrs. D. intended, but it wasn't worth arguing.)
  2. For feathers, Mrs. D. had cut several strips of construction paper in brown, black, tan, gray, and white. If planning to use paper feathers, cut these in advance and curl them around your finger or a pencil.
  3. Cut diamond shapes for the beaks. To make several, I first cut a strip of paper, then cut smaller rectangles. I folded each rectangle in half (hamburger fold) and then cut a triangle, leaving the fold in tact. Once unfolded, these formed the beaks. We used yellow and orange construction paper. Mrs. D. had also cut out brown construction paper feet, which we skipped. If you don't want to use googly eyes, cut black paper circles.
  4. Have your child assemble his owl. Glue two cupcake liners to the head to make the eyes. Then add the googly eyes or paper circles to the centers. Next, glue down the beak. If you are including feet, now is a good time to glue them to the bottom of the owls' body, either on the front or the back. Then, add feathers. We used actual feathers, which is why tacky glue worked the best, but the paper strips can be adhered easily using school glue or a glue stick. (Glue stick is the least messy.) 
    {One of Mia's owls, which I call "Showgirl."}
  5. Allow glue to dry before displaying your owl craft. 
    {Mama & Baby Owls by Mia, Age 6}
Other Ideas: I decided that it would be fun to perch the owls on actual twigs, and I envisioned using pipe cleaner legs to secure them. However, Mia was happy to make owls without feet so I never mentioned this. I also came up with the idea to use paper (or fabric) flowers for the eyes, and Mia made one very showy owl that had pink feathers and paper flower eyes with jeweled centers (from my scrapbooking supplies), which ended up being her absolute favorite.

Monday, November 18, 2013

21 Things You May Not Know about Me

Have you seen this going around Facebook? People are posting numbered lists of little-known things about themselves. These have been nice to read, giving me insight into my friends' lives without being too personal. I started constructing my own list because I thought that this was a wonderful writing prompt. Then, I finally got somebody to give me a number: 21. (Note: This is the highest number I have seen yet -- most have been around 10 or under -- but I was open and willing to the challenge.) Here is my list. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
  1. My given name is Margaret, after my paternal grandmother (who didn’t even go by that name – she was called Evelyn, which was actually her middle name). So, if I look at you strangely when you call me MEGAN, this is why. It’s not my name!
  2. When I was a baby, my hair was red. It later fell out, came back in blond, and then gradually grew darker.
  3. I bit my nails for 20-odd years. One of my earliest memories is of my mom telling me to stop biting my nails, so I tried to hide in another room in order to bite them in peace.
  4. All of my life, people have called me “skinny.” (Sometimes, with the b-word tagged on the end.) Even when they said this as if it was a compliment, I knew they didn’t mean it that way, so I hate this word!
  5. Sometimes my birthday falls on Mother’s Day. Growing up, my mom was nice enough to let me be the star of the day whenever this happened, but now that I’m the mom, I want 2 separate days for myself -- NOT one conglomeration day!
  6. When I was 16, I met a palm reader on Pennsylvania Ave. She told me that I would marry a man with dark hair and blue eyes (true!), have 2 kids – one of each (true!), and that I would work for a magazine (if everything works out for me, this will eventually be true!)
  7. I began college as an art major before switching to elementary education because it seemed more “practical.” For some reason, I was concerned about “starving” and I thought teaching was a safer alternative! Also, I didn’t smell like patchouli, which seemed to be some sort of art major requirement that nobody had informed me about. Yuck! (Although, I sometimes wish I had stuck with art.)
  8. I went on fifty (50!) job interviews before I got a teaching position (and this was after going back and getting my master’s degree in special education). In retrospect, that should have clued me in to the fact that I was not cut out for it.
  9. I thought that losing my teaching job was the worst thing that would ever happen to me, but when my water broke a few days after the end of that school year (3 MONTHS before Logan’s due date!), I gained some perspective on what is most important in life… 7 weeks in the hospital can do that to a person.
  10. I never intended to be a stay-at-home mom. EVER. Now, I realize that this is the biggest blessing that I could have been handed.
  11. I got engaged during Super Bowl XXXIV, in my parents’ living room, right after Faith Hill had finished singing the National Anthem.
  12. I like to see new places, but I am a terrible traveler. (I am sure Brett can tell you about how hard I squeezed his hand on the return flight from Puerto Rico.)
  13. Despite my hating to fly, I have a strange affinity for winged things, and I have always loved birds, butterflies, and angels. Maybe I wish I could be more like them, but I am much too nervous to be that free.
  14. I am REALLY competitive. I know, I know, I fooled you all into thinking I was nice and complacent. The truth is that Brett will no longer play air hockey with me because I will hurt myself and anybody who gets in the way of my winning!
  15. My guilty pleasure? Watching Toddlers & Tiaras. It convinces me that I am, in fact, an awesome mom, even if I don’t feel like it at the time!
  16. I still sleep with a nightlight.
  17. I LOVE color! In fact, whenever someone asks me my favorite color, I think this is a silly question. Choosing a favorite color would be like choosing a favorite child. (If you don’t believe me, visit my house, and you will see ALL the colors of the rainbow.)
  18. I HATE bananas! Everything about them. The color, the taste, the smell, the texture. Being a mom has helped to desensitize me somewhat. I am now able to handle a banana and NOT immediately wash my hands afterward.
  19. I have a strong belief that I can make just about anything, and most of the time, I am right. I only wish that this self-assurance would transfer to other areas of my life. (Successes that come to mind include the watermelon shark, the rainbow pinata, and the Lightning McQueen Halloween costume. One failure -- and believe me, I have them-- was trying to make homemade lip balm!)
  20. Despite what some people seem to think, I am not Super Mom! For example, I cannot sew, knit, or grow things. Well, okay, I found a rather interesting mold specimen growing in my fridge just the other day, but I doubt that counts since I wasn’t intentionally trying to propagate it.
  21. I have not used shampoo in over 2 years. I make most of my own beauty products. (See # 19) Some examples include: facial cleanser, face oil, eye makeup remover, shaving cream, non-petroleum jelly, and face masks.
Here is a recent photo so you can see the face behind all this wonderful insight (or nuttiness, however you happen to view the stuff I just shared). Note: I have a new bird necklace that makes me very happy!

{Here I am! Thanks for reading.}

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Apple Cider Beef Stew

Fall means lots yummy flavors, and a particular fall favorite in our household is apple cider. While this recipe is not exactly one of the kids' preferences, it is growing on them, and I think the cider is the reason. It makes this stew both savory and sweet. This simple meal is easily thrown together in the morning when I know that we're in for a busy night (which, for us this school year is Wednesday evening, when Mia has her dance classes).


  • 1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil (I like EVOO.)
  • 4 carrots, chopped (The original recipe also suggests parsnips as an alternative -- haven't tried it.)
  • 2 medium red potatoes, chopped (I have also used 4 small potatoes)
  • 2 small apples, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (Firm apples like Granny Smith or Gala work best, in my opinion. Also, my apples are usually a bit larger.)
  • 1/2 white onion (The original recipe says 2 WHOLE onions -- That is a LOT of onion, which I cannot get away with in this house! Also, I am not sure why you would want that much onion, anyway.)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1 cup apple cider (or apple juice will work in a pinch!)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons instant beef bouillon granules (I have also made it with bouillon cubes.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper (I don't usually measure this -- just a dash.)


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet and then brown the stew meat, half at a time. Drain off fat. (I also like to caramelize the onion while I brown the beef because this makes it sweeter.)
  2. In a 3 1/2 to 5 quart slow cooker, place carrots, potatoes, apples, and celery. Sprinkle tapioca on top. Then add meat (and onions, if you like them caramelized, too). 
  3. In a small bowl, combine the apple cider, water, bouillon granules, dried thyme, and pepper. Pour over the contents of the crock pot.
  4. Cover and cook on low heat for about 8-10 hours or on high heat for around 4-5 hours. I can usually get away with a little bit shorter cooking time, if needed, too.

Friday, November 8, 2013

DIY Lightning McQueen Halloween Costume

When my little man asked me to make him a race car costume for this past Halloween, I was secretly thankful that he didn't request something that required sewing! It's like he somehow knew that this was not exactly one of my best strengths, and he instead chose to play to a particular skill that I possess: making cool stuff out of cardboard. More likely, it was just that he really wanted to be his favorite character, Lightning McQueen. My inspiration was the Lightning McQueen pinata that I had made for his third birthday party. Having already accomplished that, I was pretty sure I could pull this off. After many hours, I had created a costume that we were both pretty excited about (and it only cost me $3 for two cans of red spray paint)!

{The finished costume!}
  • cardboard box
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • masking tape
  • red spray paint
  • acrylic paint: black, white, red, orange, yellow, turquoise
  • paint brushes/paint trays (old Styrofoam trays)
  • black Sharpie marker
  • hot glue gun
  • wide red ribbon
  • craft knife
  • Mod Podge
  • computer/printer
  • scratch paper (optional)
  • tracing paper (optional)
  • clear spray shellac (optional)

Directions for Making a Car Costume:
  1. First I found a box that was in good condition and was large enough. A clerk at Meijer happily gave me this when I asked about boxes.
  2. Then, I removed all of the tape. I also took off the labels as best as I could.
  3. Next, I cut off two of the four flaps from the bottom of the box and set them aside. (This was so that he could easily fit his legs through the bottom, but it would still have some cardboard to give it structure.)
  4. I flattened the box and drew a car shape on one side like I had done when I made the Lightning McQueen pinata. Then, I cut around the lines, leaving the other sides of the box in tact. I used some scratch paper, traced the car shape, cut it out, and then used it for a template to draw the same same on the reverse side. I cut that out and then I had two sides of the car that matched up.
  5. After that, I measured my son to determine how big of a hole I would approximately need for the center. He's pretty thin, so I just ended up tracing around a big bowl and cutting out the circle from the top of the box.
  6. Next, I re-taped the bottom of the box, using many strips of masking tape along the seams. This made it easier to do the next step. To make the taping stage go more smoothly, I tore off many, many strips of tape and then draped them along the edges of my table before starting.
  7. To shape the car, I started with the back section of the body (the flat side that I had drawn on) and I bent the top panel of the box down (easily) to meet the side. Then, I taped it, first with many short pieces of tape going up and over, then with longer strips going lengthwise over the top. A way to describe this more visually would be that it resembles stitches. I did the same to the opposite side of the car.
    {Shaping the side}
  8. For the top of the car, I taped the flaps together around the cut-out circle, making adjustments with my scissors as needed. 
  9. Then, I reinforced all of the inside seams with tape "stitches" and added another layer of tape "stitches" to the outer seams.
  10. For the front end of the car, I cut about 3 inches off the flap (that would be the hood section), and this may have been slightly more than I needed to trim. Then, I folded it down to meet the top and sides and taped everything in place using my "stitches" method.
    {Shaping the front end}
  11. To make the tail fin, I flipped the box over and used the blade of my scissors to score the inside of the flap, about 2 1/2" inches in. I did this along the entire length of the flap and then flipped it right side up and easily pushed the section of the box down along the scored section, making a peak. Then, I just taped the rest of the rear end of the car in place, again using my "stitches" technique. (Note: This was the end of shaping the box into a car. I would have liked the front end to be more rounded to look more like Lightning McQueen, but given time constraints, I decided this was good enough. Plus, it was still reasonably sturdy and I didn't want to tamper with that aspect considering it would be worn several times by my 4-year-old and I needed it to hold up!)
    {Shaping the tail fin}
  12. I took the box car outside and spray painted it red. Once the first coat was dry, I applied a second coat. After that, I finished it with a third coat of spray paint. In all, this was more than one can, but less than two cans of paint. This was enough to get good coverage, hiding any writing on the box, and filling in all the taped areas which were initially much lighter than the cardboard. By this point, it was looking more like a race car, but it definitely needed some special details to be transformed into his favorite character!
Directions for Decorating the Costume:
  1. The front end: I traced a plastic bottle cap for the eyes and a button for the pupils. The rest of the eye area I drew freehand. I painted this with white acrylic paint and turquoise acrylic paint, and outlined it all with black Sharpie, including filling in the pupils. I drew the mouth freehand and painted it white and then outlined it with Sharpie. The Rust-eze logo on the "hood" is one I printed from the Internet and just sized the way I wanted in Microsoft Word. I applied it with a foam paintbrush and Mod Podge.
  2. The sides: I drew the side windows freehand and painted them gray by mixing black and white acrylic paints. Then, I went around the outsides with black Sharpie. The lightning bolt I also drew freehand, and then I used tracing paper to trace it and reverse it for the opposite side of the car, which was a big sanity and time saver! I painted these with a gradation of color from orange to yellow, with the two blended in the middle. Then I Mod Podged my number 95 "decals" on. Again, these were copied from the Internet and pasted in Microsoft Word, where I could size them the way I wanted. After applying the "decals," I outlined the lightning bolts with my black Sharpie.
  3. The tail fin: This Rust-eze logo was found online and printed off. I cut it out with scissors (and a craft knife for some of the smaller spots) and then decoupaged it on the front of the fin.
  4. The back end: Admittedly, by this point, I was getting worn out, so I simplified the tail end a bit. I included another Rust-eze logo like the one on the tail fin. Then, I drew "tail lights" and painted them orange and yellow, outlining them with my black Sharpie.
    {The rear view}
  5. The tires: Deciding it wasn't worth my time or energy to reinvent the wheel, I pulled the two rear wheels from this party game. For the front tires, I traced a pan or a bowl onto one of the flaps of cardboard that were left over from step 3 for shaping my box car. Whatever it was, I chose it because it was the largest round object in my kitchen that would fit onto that cardboard flap. After cutting out both circles, I painted them and added details just as I had done for the Pit Stop party game (and if you need directions, just click the link). I used my hot glue gun to adhere all four tires to the car.
  6. The straps: I used two lengths of 1 1/2" wired red ribbon that I had on hand. I had him wear the costume so I could tell wear to place the straps, and I made pencil marks where I would put holes. To make the holes, I used a craft knife to make a small "x" in each spot I had marked. Then, I pushed the ribbon through the tops of the holes and knotted on the underside. I used masking tape to hold the extra ribbon on the insides of the car, rather than cutting it, just in case I needed to adjust the lengths on Halloween night. (In Michigan, we never know if it will be 60 degrees or if they will be wearing snowsuits!)
  7. Finishing the costume: For good measure, I applied a coat of clear spray shellac. (Again, this was something I already had on hand.) It turned out that was a good precaution because it was a very, very rainy Halloween! Once he put the costume on, we realized it was hanging slightly funny, and we decided it was because the straps were spaced slightly too far apart for his narrow shoulders. (Remember, I had to make the opening kind of big in case he was going to wear five layers!) I fixed this problem by grabbing some red and white bakers twine and tying the twos straps together in the back. He was able to slip in on and off without adjusting anything, but it stayed in place well while he was wearing the costume.
{Don't they look so happy together?}

{Everyone agreed that this was a very cool costume!}

Monday, November 4, 2013

How to Accessorize a Witch Hat (for a Particularly Fashionable Girl)

I got pretty lucky this year in that I didn't have to spend very much money to come up with Halloween costumes that made the kids quite happy. Mia wore a cute black and orange witch dress that my mom had found at a garage sale. She paired that with sparkly black tights (which she already owned), a long-sleeve black shirt (new, but very practical, so worth a few dollars investment), black shoes (which she already owned), and a black flower belt (also new, but again, she has already worn it several times, so totally worth a few dollars), which helped with fit since the dress was a teensy bit large. She also accessorized with a charming little broom that we had found at a garage sale for 75 cents.

The only thing I had to recently purchase specifically for costume wear was a witch hat. (I had actually gotten one at that same garage sale where we found the broom -- 50 cents. However, when we got it out and examined it, we found that it was a) falling apart and b) much too big. The redeeming quality is that it had some black sequined trim on the brim, which having been sloppily hot glued, was easy to remove.) I bought a new hat for her at Dollar Tree. It was orange with a spider web lace all over it and it fit her well. The only problem was that she felt it was a bit on the plain side.


I decided that it would be easy enough to trim it out and make it more acceptable to my little fashionista. We already had the black sequined trim, which laid nicely along the brim, making it simple to adhere with hot glue. Unfortunately, it only went around half of the hat, and left the rest looking very unfinished. I ended up buying a roll of black tulle at Walmart for about $3. (Ironically, this trim item was the single most expensive thing I purchased for either of the kids' Halloween costumes this year!) I bunched it up and applied it along the rest of the brim using my hot glue gun.

Then, we went through our craft stash and selected other items to accessorize the hat: three black feathers, a small scrap of orange tulle, a black and orange star-shaped button, and some ribbon that said "Trick or Treat" with candy corn on it. To complete the hat, I layered on some embellishments starting with the black tulle, making two lengths that hang down, and affixed them with hot glue. On top of the tulle, I placed the decorative ribbon, again with two lengths. Next, I fanned out the three black feathers and adhered them. I followed that with a little "flower" that I made by pinching the orange tulle into a round shape. After it was glued down, I added the button for the center, and voila -- an adorable witch hat for my sweet little witch!


While I wasn't originally planning to spend anything more than the cost of the hat, I think this impromptu project made a big impact. With a bit of my time and some hot glue, I was able to transform that witch hat from drab to fab for just a few dollars. This project cost me about $4.50 -- $1 for the hat, $3 for the black tulle, and 50 cents for that sequined trim that I got from the discarded hat. It was completely worth it to see my little girl's big smile when she tried on her newly accessorized hat!

{My sweet little witch}