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
scissors
glue



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!



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