Friday, November 18, 2016

Monster Book Snacks

Hello!

I'm so excited about the upcoming movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I've professed my love for Harry Potter on this blog before... many times... so to have more fiction set in this world is a dream come true. 

To celebrate, I thought I'd share one of our favorite Harry Potter themed snacks to make with kids: the Monster Book of Monsters. 



This recipe is adapted from Rosanna Pansino's Textbook S'mores, which you can see in her video here, or read about in her book Nerdy Nummies. And, of course, the Monster Book of Monsters is from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling.

Supplies:
Graham Crackers
Chocolate Icing
Small Marshmallows
M&Ms


1: Crack your crackers! You'll need to break 1 whole one in half, then ice one side.
2: Place the marshmallows onto your iced graham cracker. Make sure at least one side is even, because these will be your teeth!
3: Ice the other half of your graham cracker, and place it on top of the marshmallows to make a delicious sandwich. Or, in this case, a book!
4: Break your second cracker in half, and then in half again. Ice one side of 1/4th graham cracker with a LOT of icing. Just like when you build a gingerbread house, the icing is your glue.
5: Place the 1/4th cracker on the side of your "book." Hint: pick the side you like the least!
6: Let everything sit and harden for a little bit. This is the perfect time to pick out your M&Ms! They will be your eyes, so pick whatever color and amount you want.
7: Time to ice your book! Once you've covered the top and the graham cracker side, dab at it with your knife. This will give you a great fuzzy texture. Bonus: this method makes hiding mistakes very easy.
8: While your icing is still wet, take the M&Ms you picked in step 6, and place them on top in any pattern you want. 
9: Enjoy, but watch out, it might bite!




We have used this snack multiple times at work, with all ages of kids, and it's always been a hit. It's messy, but isn't that the best kind of fun?








Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Honorable Mentions - Things to do in England

Hello!

Last year my sister was fortunate enough to spend a semester studying abroad in Bath, England. While she was there my husband and I were lucky enough to visit (which you can read about here, here, and here), but she had the opportunity to see SO much more. She also happens to be great with words, so I have asked her to put together a post for my blog. 
__________________________

The time that I spent in England seems like a dream when I look back on it. It has that slippery feeling to it that make you wonder if it actually happened or if it was a creation of your own mind. I think that sometimes my brain has difficulty believing that some of the fantastic and foreign pieces of England were images that I saw with my own eyes. My semester in England was an event I had been anticipating for years, and it became a dynamic sliver of my life.

Some of the most exciting things I did in England of course involved seeing England, traveling to uncharted territories. But today instead of talking about the grand prize winners I am going to talk about the honorable mentions because they aren’t given enough attention when I talk about my time in England. 

One of the very first trips my program took in England was to a little place called Cotswold. The trip to this lovely little place was one of my worst traveling experiences only trumped by my night flight to England on which sleep was unattainable. We road on a bus through the winding country roads and my stomach was rolling. I spent most of the ride concentrating on not throwing up on the floor. When we finally stopped I just wanted off the bus, so I sat down on a bench, had an embarrassing crying session in front of one of the program leaders, and was thankful for my considerate housemates who were nice enough to stay by me while my stomach settled.



This horrible bought of car sickness prevented me from bringing anything off the bus which was a fact that I mourned when we arrived to the Cotswold tower. I can’t remember the history of the tower, but I believe it was built by a wealthy man in order to view his land. In truth the history of in wasn’t what interested me. It was the aesthetic of the place. It was a lone tower on a hill that could have housed Rapunzel. I would gladly have lived it the tower if I had the opportunity. The view from the top was amazing you could see for miles, and it had the lovely patch work fields that I find so charming. The tower felt like you were in the Grimm fairytales or Legends of King Arthur. It felt like magic, ancient and powerful. It was a place that could tell a story and stories are my favorite kind of magic.

If stories are magic then I found a magician in an old manor house. The house was passed down through the family and the old man who owned it seemed to know every story that it held telling each of them remarkably. I don’t remember many details of the stories, but I remember being enthralled by the way he spoke. He knew which words to speak and which tone to use to get the audience’s attention. I made sure to sit by him when we had tea, just so I could keep listening to him. Before we left I made sure to tell him what a lovely story teller he was. He asked me to kiss him on the cheek which was one of the more awkward things that I have done, but his stories were worth a little awkwardness.

The third and last adventure I am going to talk about is my class trip back to Oxford. I say back because one of the first trips we took in England was to Oxford. Going back was intriguing in and of itself because I knew where we were as we went through the city. I recognized a foreign city in a foreign country, and that still amazes me even now when I left the country months ago.

The Story Museum was a someplace that I had not seen yet. The Story Museum was just as it sounds. It was filled with rooms that had different themes to them and in these rooms they had pictures of authors dressed up as their favorite characters from literature. Every part of the place had something to do with books and words making it into a librarians dream. 

My three favorite parts, though everything was amazing, were the story machine, the children’s bedroom, and the wardrobe room. The story machine was in a room filled with costumes and had a red carpet leading up to a throne. If you approached the throne holding a story made in the story area next to the costumes trumpets would sound and a voice would read the story to you. The story machine itself was a contraption made of random odds and ends, and resting on this contraption is a story of an author who had lost the skills to write. So this author invented this machine that runs on children’s imagination and wrote the stories for him.



The next room was the children’s bedroom. It had multicolored canopies hanging from the ceiling and children’s books on shelfs and best of all in the middle of the room was a gigantic patchwork quilt covered bed. It was an awesome place for bed time stories with dim lighting and some nighties to wear hanging on the walls.

The wardrobe room was one of those amazing places in the world that actually feels like magic. The entrance is a wardrobe filled with fur coats and as you step through it you find your feet landing on powdery snow. When you look up trees with twinkling light surround you and not too far away a sleigh is settled in the snow next to a glowing lamp post. After you’ve noticed all of these details you find that there is a chill in the air and you know that you have stepped into Narnia.

The Story Museum was a place made by people who love literature and you could tell in the small details like the giant playing cards stacked next to the stair case and the portrait of a wizard down an ivy covered castle hallway. It didn’t have as many rooms as it needed, but it was still in progress when we visited, so there is sure to be more to come. Soon the Story Museum could be on par with the Magic House or the City Museum.



My time in England was full of adventures and experiences that I never would have had if I had stayed in the United States, and I am so thankful to have gone. I grew as a person so much that semester and I feel that that is something we forget that we need to do. So go take an adventure and learn something new. Experience life because why not. It’s there and you don’t need dragons and knights to have an adventure.




Tuesday, November 8, 2016

De-Stressing DIY - Coloring Sheet Printables

Today is a stressful day. Not just for those in the US, but for people around the world. So tonight, as you watch then numbers pour in from all over the country, try coloring a few of these sheets. Maybe it'll help to keep your mind relaxed. Or maybe trying to stay in the lines will infuriate you, distracting from the worry. I don't know if it will work, but it's worth a try.



Download the Floral Coloring Sheet
PDF // PNG

Download the Art Deco Coloring Sheet
PDF // PNG

Download the Swirls Coloring Sheet
PDF // PNG

Friday, November 4, 2016

Ten Things


I've still got those Halloween vibes.
Also tacos. Always a fan of tacos.



Wasteland Weekend is this crazy Mad Max inspired weekend full of awesome costumes and mind blowing sculptures. So of course I want to go.

I love this tutorial for Gilded Insect Taxidermy from The Gathered Home. It's the perfect balance of creepy and classy.

The Mini Boden x Roald Dahl collection is gorgeous, and leaves me wishes they had adult sizes. It's  such a tasteful nod to one of my favorite children's authors.

This Illidan statue from the game World of Warcraft is so beautiful that I'm still tempted to get it, even after looking at the price.

Morgan Stern's Alchima collection is so utterly inspirational. It's beautiful, functional, and a totally new twist on an old subject. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Inspire Me: Cajun Captain Cosplay

I can't believe October is over already, but I'm really excited to share our last cosplay interview with you guys! It has been a lot of fun to be able to find out the why's and how's behind these artist's beautiful work. I hope that I've shown you what a diverse and creative culture surrounds cosplay, and all of the hard work that goes into those amazing outfits!

Our last cosplayer is Cajun Captain Cosplay. Enjoy!



How did you get into cosplay?
I first got into cosplay when I went to my first anime convention in New Orleans, Mechacon, in 2014. That was my first convention I had ever been to and I didn’t have a costume. I didn’t really know much about it but seeing all of my friends and attendees in these awesome costumes made me feel left out! So I decided that the next event I went to I would definitely cosplay. And now I’ve been cosplaying for almost 3 years and have amassed 7 different cosplays!



Who was the first character you wanted to cosplay?
The first cosplay I ever wanted to cosplay, and actually did, was Simon from the anime, Gurren Lagann! My friend and I decided to do two characters who were essentially brothers in the show! It happened to be his first cosplay too! I bought some pieces and modified and made other parts! It was also the first time I ever attempted to style a wig! And at the same time I debuted my other cosplay at the same con, Amon from Avatar Legend of Korra!


If you could cosplay any character from anything, who/what would you choose?
I think my dream cosplay that I have been on and off again for the past year due to time, skills and money, would be the Tier Two Paladin Judgement Armor from the game World of Warcraft! It takes a lot of sewing, armor making, and a huge sword! I still want to do it one day, but for now it’s back on the shelf!


Do you ever put your own spin on a cosplay, or do you like to make sure it's as close to the original as possible?
I try to be as accurate and close to the source material I can be! However, this sometimes causes problems because many characters act in a fictional world with fictional movements and that doesn’t always translate well to real life physics! Some costumes need to be modified to be able to be more mobile while keeping the same design and style of the original! Other times you have to sacrifice mobility for it to look as accurate as possible!



Whats the most uncomfortable outfit you've every worn? Do you have any tips on how to stay cool when you're wearing so many layers?
Well, living in South Louisiana, one of the things you have to put up with is the heat, humidity and sweating! The two cosplays with the most layers are Kylo Ren and Captain America! They are both thick, heavy fabric, have helmets, and props to hold so you start to sweat almost immediately! The only thing I can say is drink plenty of fluids and rest when you can! Some cosplayers build in PC fans to help with ventilation inside of their costumes, though I’ve never been able to use one!



What is your process for putting together an outfit?
My process starts by choosing a character I want to do. I look up images and research them. The more pictures and angles I have, the better! I then go to sketch out what I want it to look like and how I want my version to be! Sometimes it’s like the original, sometimes I will modify to my own liking! I then write down everything I would need or think I need and start planning what pieces I can make and might need to get commissioned or help with (I cannot sew, but have many friends who can). I then start to acquire the parts and pieces and make the armor, or wire some LEDs, or paint and adjust pieces. I try to start putting it all together and do final fitting tests and finally wear it to a convention! Many times I still will adjust and change parts last minute too!


What's your go to place for supplies/components?
I love to shop around online and locally. Hobby Lobby and Amazon are my top two choices as they have almost everything from paint, makeup, LEDs, Velcro and more! Sometimes I will also just Google up what I am looking for if I can’t think of what I need and look through the images and try to find ways to use what I find for what I need! One example is the rifle shells I used for Soldier 76. I walked through Hobby Lobby and found some wooden spools and dowels and foam and figured I could make them from those few things!


The scar for your Soldier 76 is pretty realistic. How much time does it take you to get ready for that specific outfit?
The scar is definitely my favorite part of that costume! Everyone loves it and I always get asked about it! I am no expert in makeup but I looked up a few tutorials online about scar making and the theater makeup, rigid collodion which is how you get the indent effect! Soldier is actually one of the easier costumes to put on, its just the hair and makeup that take the most time! I clean up, style my hair with the silver wax, do my makeup and then get dressed! So all in all, it takes about 45 minutes.


They say the devil is in the details... do you pay attention to the little things?
I always try to remember the little things! It’s what makes your cosplay from good to great, in my opinion! Many people have great cosplays and costumes, but I always try to set myself apart by adding small details! One example is my Captain America cosplay. The shield is able to be hung on my back via a strong rare earth magnet, so I can attach and detach it to my harness just like in the movie! It’s the little things that set you apart! They don’t have to be complex, just unique and creative!


Do you have any tips for someone looking to get into cosplaying?
My advice would be to do it! So many people feel they don’t have the skills or time or money to cosplay, but cosplay is so much more than that! It does not matter if you make everything, buy everything, or a combination of both. It does not matter if you look like the character or not. Your costume does not have to be huge and complex, but it can be simple as pants, a shirt and a pair of glasses, if that is the character you choose to be! At the end of the day we are all just people dressing up in costumes and having fun! I would say to anyone thinking about getting into cosplay, go to a local convention first and enjoy yourself like I did! Then come home with all of your pictures you took with all of the awesome cosplayers and start working on your costume for the next time! And just remember to HAVE FUN!

If you'd like to see more of Cajun Captain Cosplay's work, check out his 
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