Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cast of Characters

Happy Halloween eve! Finally--finally!--I have details to share about the Toy Story character costumes.

The big chick, E, wanted to be Jessie, but the mass-produced versions did not please me. Too much $$, too little quality. I doubted that the Jessie-onesie would make it through a costume party, school day, and then to trick-or-treat. I figured if I could wing it and spend under $20, it was worth my time. My friend Amanda hooked me up with this blog post @ RACKS and Mooby. The post inspired me to scout the Dollar Tree for cowgirl hats in a hunt that ended in success. I used two white shoelaces around the hat's rim for the piping detail. There's a mess of hot glue under there. I cut chaps out of cow print fabric and used my beloved Fray Check potion. Then I stuck them on to E's jeans with stick-on velcro. The shirt is a turtle neck (Target for $4!). I created an iron-on transfer for the yellow backdrop (it kind of sucks; don't look too hard) and pair of buttons. Red puffy paint worked great for the rope detail.  The boots are from ebay for under $10. I accomplished my goal of cheapness!

The middle chick, V, wanted to be "workout Barbie." *heavy sigh* I told her this is absolutely the last year she can be ANYTHING Barbie--until she is 35 and the costume becomes either sexy or ironic. V's Barbie alter ego was definitely the easiest to put together. Teal leotard from ebay for $8. Leggings that we already had. Babylegs leg warmers (which Lil C can use later IRL), a pink belt we already had, and pink dress-up heels we already had. Booya! Done! She'll rock a high ponytail and own this ensemble like there's no tomorrow.

Our boy, W, wanted to be Woody. I ordered his vest from esty. The shirt is orange plaid, which is a deviation from Woody's yellow. Tough. We already had it, and it's adorbs. The bandana was uno dinero from Target. The hat is also a Dollar Tree find. The boots are ebay ($8! WIN!). He'll sport some jeans. The belt is... mine, actually. It was fashionable in 1993, and since the 80s are here again, this belt is going to be HAWT (reprise) in two more years. Trust.

The baber, Lil C, doesn't really have strong opinions about Halloween, so I am forcing her into a Mrs. Potato Head costume before she can voice dissent. This was fun. I cut a big blobby shape out of brown fabric, hand-stitched it *takes a bow*, and added elastic at the bottom for a gathered effect. Then I cut out foam shapes, eyeing the Toy Story 3 DVD cover as I went. They're attached with hot glue and/or fabric adhesive. The little hat we already had. I paid $2 for that felt flower pin-on (which I totally heart). She will wear a white shirt under it, black leggings, and her little red shoes. Er, we have to find the other one before T-or-T tomorrow night!

Holy crap that's a lot of words to describe the fun in this picture:


And there you have it! The G-clan disguises. We'll be rootin-tootin ready Monday night. I hope all of you readers have a super fun Halloween and that your kids get a lot of loot <--because, srsly, that means everyone with a sweet tooth wins. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

On the fray

I'm leaving... on a jet plane... in fewer than 24 hours and won't be back until Sunday evening, so I am in a Halloween costume frenzy.

This product is saving my badonkadonk this year. I have sworn off sewing machines (Who was I kidding? This was a relationship that was never going to work out. I can't think in upside-down mirror images, and I'm not sure that I even want to. So there.). And now I feel empowered in my swearing. Plus I've got BFF-J to help me out when actual seamstressing is necessary. HELLO! JUST NOTICED! Is it a coincidence that "stress" is in "seamstress"? I think not.

I'm putting finishing touches on four really slackerific Toy Story homages this evening. I will try to get pics up before I split for the weekend.

Any of you readers planning on working on costumes into the wee hours? Whatcha got craftin?

Monday, October 17, 2011

When shrubs attack

BG and I have few television loyalties. BG is not really a TV person, and I would be a potato rooted from the couch if I didn't check myself. These factors add up to =  the television generally stays off in our house.* We both make an exception for the History Channel's "Life After People" series. The premise is that humans are gone in one swoop; nature takes over; vegetation destroys everything humankind has created; eventually, it's as if there were never people (except for the legacy of plastic, which sadly lasts FOREVER, btw).

No matter the theme of the episode, there's always a scene at the end that makes me feel a little sick. It hammers home the message People are small and temporary and unimportant. Sometimes truth is terrifying. 

A tiger on the overgrown post-peopled White House lawn! It's like a nightmare!

When we viewed this house back in Feb/March and I told BG the patio was "a little Life after Peopley," he knew exactly what I meant.



Here is where I wish I could say ^that^ pic is at the end of an episode. Alas... this was the state of our patio as recently as this past weekend. The previous owners took great pride in the care of this house and their yard and patio. But two years of no occupancy followed by six months of neglect during the hottest summer on record, and it's shrubs gone wild.

BG and I spent many hours outside Saturday. He handled the chainsaw, and I was the branch mule, lugging limbs and shrubs out to the curb. The artifacts we unearthed delighted and motivated us. A trio of flower pots, a garden hose, a little bird spigot, feature lights that shine upon the tree trunk (they work!), and two lattices for trained vines.


Sunday we both felt like we had been stomped on by angry giants, but I think the end result was worth it:


Though we still have some work to do--knotty stumps have buckled parts of the patio foundation and roots have taken up residence in the resting place of ghosts of flowerbeds past--the kids have been in absolute heaven with the reclaimed play space. They took their breakfast on the patio Sunday morning. They have been riding scooters and throwing balls and singing "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" as they skip across the pavers. It's in these moments that I can quiet the too-big thoughts about temporality. It doesn't matter what happens in life after people. In this life, I can delight in helping our little people collect the gumballs purged by the sweetgum tree. 

*I totally turn it on when the kids go to bed.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I love a gourd. Every fall, I re-read this blog post, shared by a friend, dedicated to the season's most ubiquitous symbol. WARNING: LINK NOT FAMILY FRIENDLY! CONTAINS ADULT LANGUAGE! LOTS OF IT! 

Isn't that inspirational? It makes me want to get my fall on and reminds me that Halloween is just around the corner. And it's lucky I've got something to light a fire under me because our neighbors really up the ante for seasonal decorating. We moved in this past April, when everyone had gorgeous yards and smart spring landscaping. Now it's October, and there are scarecrows, pumpkins, and hay stacks as far as the eye can see. We prettied up our porch a little, with black urns, mums by the gallon, and a pair of asparagus ferns in an old basket, as well as a gourd topiary (that's my fave, a fairytale pumpkin, on the bottom):



But I yearned for something a little macabre. What's Halloween without a touch of dark and scary? And as it goes--ask and ye shall receive--mother nature presented me with a little gift.

Outside with the kids one evening, we were collecting leaves. They are not the beautiful reds and golds you find in most of the country. Here we get brown leaves prized more for their kinesthetic crunch than their ochre and umber. Our boy, W, who is just shy of three and finds joy in the simple things, was particularly excited about his collection and sorted through it proudly when, at once, his older sisters shrieked in his direction.

Among the leaves rested a dessicated frog body--shaped and colored so much like a leaf, it was easy to see how W mistook it for one. Its eyeballs were long gone, transported from their sockets in speck-sized loads by the ants in the neighborhood. With a sudden awareness that he possessed an object worthy of ridicule, W kicked at the dead amphibian. Our baby pointed with her chubby index finger and begged in curiosity and confusion, "Dis? Dis?" The older girls ran screaming in circles, wishing it away.

As for me, I shoved it in my pocket. Sorry, folks, this is NOT going to be a giveaway! In a jar, labeled "SPECIMEN," I think it will be just the ghastly touch we need in our Halloween decor.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


I've been dreaming about a certain lampshade all my life. Or, OK, since April.  I've tried other lampshades on for size and failed. That was probably an act of self-sabotage, as I was seeking validation that the black drum shade was the only contender. The problem with the obvious solution of buying such a lampshade has been my unwillingness to spend more than [the completely random limit of] $20 on it.

Enter Lowe's.

I was there to procure cheap mums and pumpkins for our fall porch. Blog post to come, if I can get it into some sort of condition worth sharing. I meandered through the rows of the nursery, found myself in the Halloween section, and suddenly was pulled toward lighting. "This is silly," I thought. "Why would Lowe's have the lampshade? Do they even have lampshades?" Is it all plywood and mums and bbq pits and tile and carpet and paint and window treatments and magazines and markers and washing detergent and lawnmowers and the kitchen sink and everything except the perfect lampshade? That's just my luck. 

The pessimist in me was heckling... me. And she continued feeding off of the experience. Yes, there are lampshades. Probably a hundred different styles. Look at all these lovely lampshades. Heh, and not even one of them will work. Silly to even bother. The pessimist has mastered baiting me with split infinitives; she's passive-aggressive.

Then the realist piped up with a series of observations. Wow, that's weird. There's a row of about 10 navy blue lampshades. They're drum shades and the perfect size. But why would anyone want a blue drum shade--unless they work for Nautica or have a beach house decorated in blues and white, which could actually be really pretty if predictable. 

Then the optimist took a turn. Maybe it's not navy! Maybe it's black! And maybe there are so many of them because they look navy when everyone knows a black shade is the ultimate choice for epic win! *Peels back protective wrapping in a sneaky and discrete manner* 

LITEOPIA! For $15. Finally. A large. Black. Drum. Shade. 

The realist and the optimist did a little victory dance in the aisle while the pessimist refrained. She just knew we'd get busted and embarrass us all.

The foyer is almost complete! For real this time!

^I'm still hunting for just the right--much larger--vessel to sit under the console table. For now I cannot STAND the sight of the lamp cord, so the smallish basket will have to do :) It is holding a couple of spare umbrellas plus a rain stick. Yin and yang, baby.

On the table top, from left to right:

A clock with timezones around the world, a sterling silver shot glass (big question for the day: what do you call a shot glass that isn't glass? hmmm?) a college friend brought back for me from Germany, and a resin "G" that I thought was so bad-azz I couldn't resist it for 50% off at a craft store.


A Moroccan-inspired vase. Moroccan probably doesn't make you think "modern Southern transitional," but the little cut-away pattern reminds me of damask, so it works.