Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Last Minute DIY Spirited Away Costume

Every time I watch Spirited Away I wind up thinking to myself "Chihiro would be such an easy costume to make." Chihiro, in case you are not familiar, is the adorable main character from this wonderful Hayao Miyazaki animated film. When Chihiro's parents are turned into pigs she will do anything to save them, including caring for a filthy river spirit, defeating a swarm of paper birds, and dealing with adorable soot sprites. Like all of Miyazaki's films, this is a trip into a dreamland that will leave you full of delight and wonder.

But when I actually sat down to think about putting together the costume it always felt too simple, like it was missing a piece. Then, while watching the film at a movie night more recently I realized that Haku the dragon resembled a ribbon when he was flying.  So thus the Haku ribbon dancer prop was born, adding that extra layer of "wow" to a simple-to-make costume.

To make a ribbon dancer you need:
white ribbon, at least 2 yards long
a dowel rod
needle and thread
permanent markers or fabric pins in black, teal, pink and gray

1. Fold the top f the ribbon into a triangle and sew a few stitches to keep it together. Nothing fancy required.
2.  Draw the details of Haku's face. (He has a snout like a dog with two long whiskers coming out of his cheeks, and a mane of teal hair. Definitely look up some reference images for this one.) Shade the leftovers area with black.
3. At the opposite end of the ribbon, cut a taper leading to a feather shape for the tail. Wherever you cut the ribbon, paint the edges with glue to seal.
4. Divide the ribbon in half and then in half again to find leg placement. Draw the legs (which are dog legs), with the feet (chicken feet!) in pink.
4. Color the fur in teal across the top and in gray across the belly. When you reach the end transition the gray fur into teal.
7. Color in the tail (I followed the basic layout of a feather). Feel free to line the whole drawing to make it pop.
9. Attached the ribbon to the dowel. I used an eye hook, but there is a gap the thread can slide off of. You could also use a strong straw or just a plain old stick.

What you need for Chihiro's clothes:
green dye, permanent marker, or fabric paint

The most iconic part of Chihiro's costume is the stripe around her torso and sleeves. Get that and pink shorts and you've pretty much got it.

Add the Haku prop and you'll be instantly recognizable as the beloved character.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Zombie Ball

Come closer to me and sit for a time
and I'll tell a tale of teens cut off in their prime
Battered and bruised and not breathing at all,
but dressed in their finest with heels so tall,
these ghouls came out on a chilly evening in fall,
to dance the night away at a zombie ball!

One night quite a few years ago we were struck with the notion that it would be a grand idea to hold a ball for the undead. I mean, why do the living have all the fun? So we put together a fabulous soirée that left the teenagers talking for months.

For this event, we transformed the basement meeting room into a haunted ballroom. Decorations included cockroaches and maggots, candelabras, an eyeball chandelier, and bones scattered throughout. And of course, our favorite stand-by, cheap plastic table clothes over the lights. This is a great way to add instant atmosphere to any room. You do have to be careful about this and keep an eye on the lights, but we've never had any melt or burn. We also collected all the creepy things we could to set up little sets for photos, including gravestones from the high school's prop room.

We held the event a few days after Halloween, giving us time to raid the clearance. It was especially helpful for makeup, because we had told the participants to come in fancy outfits that they didn't care too much about (we saw a lot of old prom dresses), and we provided the makeup. The first 30 minutes of the event were just kids crowding in our bathrooms, making themselves look like lovely rotting corpses. (Easiest way to do this? Pale your skin and lips, then bruise your eyes. Add a little blood and voila! Undead beauty.)

For entertainment during the ball, we had a XBox 360 set up with Left 4 Dead in the foyer. In the main room we projected Dawn of the Dead onto the wall without sound to help with the ambiance. Of course, food is the most important part of any teen program, so the walls were lined tables full of ghoulish treats. Brain cupcakes, gravestone chocolates, and some sandwich supplies including "rotting" (sprayed with a bit of green food coloring) bread.  We also asked a local flower shop to save their dying flowers and were able to make lovely corsages and bouquets for everyone who attended.

Towards the end of the night we took our zombies for a walk around the town square to get some more photos. It was great to see the reactions of people out and about, and the kids had fun while still being entirely respectful.

I think the best part of this event is that it was all so photogenic. The sets paired with the lighting made for some really awesome shots. This was long enough ago that it was before the whole Instagram phase (I told you it was a while ago!) so I'd almost like to do it again just to give the teens the opportunity for those epic selfies.

If you'd like to host your own zombie ball and are looking for some books to fit the theme, here is a great list we put together for our Tumblr.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Thoughts About the Baby: Before

First of all, FAQ's.

When are you due? October 8th! (Yeah, the day this is posting! Send good vibes!)

Boy or girl? Boy!

Are you excited? Is there a word for excited and terrified at the same time? That. We're that.

Do you have a name picked out? Yes and no. We have a list, and we're waiting to see if something fits when we see him. I'll tell you a secret though: I do have a favorite.

Does the baby have a nickname? We affectionately call him monster. I tried to get everyone to call him goa'uld (Stargate, anyone?) but it didn't stick.

How did your pregnancy go? Quite easily, actually. The only things I can really complain about are heartburn and swollen... well everything. I never got nauseous really, and I was able to work up until this week, so I'd say I was lucky.

Did you have any weird cravings? No weird ones, but I did jump around between some abnormal food obsessions. There was a week or two when I had Starburst constantly. Bacon, cottage cheese, and lemonade also had their shining moments.

Is the nursery ready? So relieved to finally be able to say almost!

Whats the theme? Dragons! Subtly. Also monsters... and dinosaurs.... so basically mythical/extinct creatures?

Are you worried about the cats? Kinda. We have backup plans if everything goes horribly wrong, but obviously I'm hoping for as smooth of a transition as possible. But with two weird cats, who knows.

Am I ready to get him out of me? Yes and no. I'm terrified of labor, which is a given. So obviously not thrilled about that part. But the part where I get to meet this little guy and slowly learn what kind of person he's going to become? That sounds awesome. I'm sure I'll get swept up into the giggles and the coos and how great it feels to be near him when he's finally here, but right now I'm also trying to enjoy just sitting on the couch in the quiet, cuddling with my cats. I'm taking it one day at a time over here, especially with this being our first. I have no idea what the future has in store, but I'm fairly confident that we will be able to get through whatever challenges life throws at us.

Other random thoughts:

Water is constantly seeping out of every pore. If I lay my hand down on something it will have a thin sheen left when I pick it up. It's like the worlds worst superpower.

I miss my ankles.

My nails are FANTASTIC, which someone pointed out could just be because of the vitamins. Touche, and I guess I should look into vitamins for later.

Even though there are so many adorable things you see in these pictures, just know there are about twenty Ikea/Amazon boxes laying around my house. I mean, we take them out every week. They just multiply.

Favorite joke right now: "I'm basically a time lord." "Yeah? How?" "I have two heartbeats."

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Brawl of the B Movies Printable Party Kit

Ah, October. The time of all things spooky, where skulls are an accepted item of decor and dressing in all black just means you're in the spirit. There's a not so little (read: huge) side of me that revels in October and all of its witchiness. I just love drinking warm cider, throwing stuff into bonfires, and dreaming of amazingly over-the-top but always awesome costumes.

October is also the PERFECT time to enjoy terrible B monster movies. Nowadays these movies are easy to get a hold of (hint: check your local library), and taking the time out to watch one or two is always worth it. As long as you don't take it too seriously.

To help make sure that doesn't happen, I've created a "Brawl of the B Movies" party kit. This printable kit an easy way to add an extra bit of flair to your screening with not a lot of effort.

This printable kit has a ton of stuff in it, including a "B Movie Bingo" card, blank signs, decorations, a "Scream-O-Meter," and rating cards. Personally, the Scream-O-Meter might be my favorite part. Whenever the someone screams, rate it. Whichever movie has the best screams wins. Or you could just add up the screams, and when you hit ten everyone has to do something silly. There's a lot of options!

Some other ideas to make your night even more memorable:

-Set out things to throw at the screen. At events where we have done this, we have use stale marshmallows, cotton balls, or crumpled up bits of paper. Is the lead doing something ridiculous? Throw something at them!
- I've left in a few blank signs, which are perfect for writing out little phrases that could be held up at appropriate times. We had a "JUST KISS ALREADY" sign that we held up whenever the monster and the main villain were on screen. What can I say? They had chemistry!
- If you ACTUALLY want it to be a brawl, the bingo card and the Scream-O-Meter could be used as a scoring device. Whoever fills in the most boxes wins!

You could also download this kit just for the bingo card. I think it could make a cute, easy date night!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Art Storytime and Activities

We love mixing storytime with activities at my library, and one of my favorite themes is (obviously) art! There are really great books out there to sneakily teach aspiring artists some of the fundamentals of art while still holding their attention, and a lot of these books have some awesome activities we've used to really drive the lessons home. 

One amazing series of books is the Dot, Sky Color, and Ish by Peter Reynolds. All of these books address different issues with art creation and getting over little speed bumps that trip us all up. The Dot has potential for a lot of really great activities, but really all you have to do is draw a circle on the page and let them go to town.

Another good set of books is Mix It Up and Press Here by  Hervé Tullet. These books teach colors and color mixing in a fun and interactive way. When we did a painting activity later, one of the kids said "I know red and blue makes purple because of that book." Pretty good for a preschooler!

Art's Supplies by Chris Tougas is a humorous adventure into the world of Art and his talking art supplies. But on a deeper level, this book talks about and has examples of many of the basic art supplies we use on a regular basis. 

A great book for teaching that accepting mistakes in art is sometimes a good thing, A Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg is a book that is a must have for any child that is too focused on coloring inside of the lines. It's the perfect book to read when your child is upset because their art didn't turn out just the way they wanted.

Finally, we love the book I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont. Not only does it teach the age old lesson of "you can't paint on the walls" in a fun way, it also has a great rhythm that makes it so much fun to read aloud. For this storytime we printed out a blank picture of the main character and had the kid's draw on him as we read the story. 

As our big activity, we had the kids puff paint some board book covers. We used the Microwave Puffy Paint recipe from the Artful Parent, and it worked like a charm. The only drawback was that since we used board books the cover would warp as you microwaved it, but in the end it still looked cool, and the pages themselves weren't damaged.

If you'd like to replicated this activity, here's a link for Blank Board Books from Wal-Mart

Friday, September 22, 2017

Billy Bookcase Storage

While designing my nursery I was presented with a problem. I already had a bookcase in the room: a nice, subtle BILLY from Ikea that I thought would fit in quite well. But when I started to search for storage options I ran into a wall. While there are a million and one options for the KALLAX/EXPEDIT series, finding a single box that could fit on the Billy took me hours. In my search, I finally came up with a formula that brought me lots of options, so I've picked out the cutest to share with you!

I ended up getting number 8, the gray fabric storage bins. They're coated with plastic on the inside and fit 4 to a shelf comfortably. They fit the vibe I was going for, and they didn't break the bank! 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mood Board #2

Normally my mood boards for the fall are darker, but this season I've been feeling really colorful. I have to blame A Kailo Chic Life, Oh Happy Day! and Aww Sam for that. If you haven't checked out their colorful worlds yet, take this time to do yourself a favor and click on those names. Totally worth it.

This blend of colors just generally leaves me smiling, and as a result, the stuff I picked for this board has a super fun vibe. It makes me want to wear colorful outfits and play with some super modern children's Cblock sets.

This is the studio of Shanna Van Maurik (nogobed on Instagram) and it is constantly a flood of colorful inspiration, and even more so when she photographs the vivid candy-colored sunsets seen out her wonderful windows.

This is the kitchen from the studio of Aww Sam, and wow is it amazing, and this is only half done! I can't wait to see the completed project.

This adorably painted planter is made even better with the gorgeous painted background. From A Beautiful Mess.

I can't get over this wall from Sara Blumer of That's What Sarah Said. It's such a statement, and the fact that the door is painted too makes it the best.

These colorful pumpkins were posted today, and as soon as I saw them I knew that I had enough inspiration for another mood board. They're from A Kalio Chic Life, and I those colors are just perfect.

This super cute rainbow painting DIY Rainbow Paint Scrape was on one of my favorite blogs, Handmade Charlotte. I just love those colors!

This fur clutch from Aww Sam is too cute. She actually had a few examples of this project, but there's something about this rainbow one that makes me want to make one SO. BAD.

I have always been fascinated by art installations. There's something about immersing yourself in the artist's vision that is just so cool. And the only thing that makes that better is when the installations are interactive. Such is the case with this amazing block wall, a part of Spark, which is an annex of the Brooklyn Children's Museum. This specific piece is called "Sky Villages" and is by James Paulius.

Other things that fit this vibe:

Modernmaven's Instagram. Like, the whole thing. This packed up their Colorado life, took a chance and moved out to Hawaii, and it seems to have worked out. Their new life totally fits their colorful and happy lifestyle.

This adorable manicure from So Nailicious. I don't paint my nails, but this color scheme is too great.

This POP UP cookbook by Katherine Sabbath. How amazing is this? Will I ever tire of her wonderful creations? Probably not.
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