Thursday, September 30, 2010

Let Me Entertain You...2010 Party Entertainment

This will be our 4th annual Halloween party, and each year has been much bigger and more elaborate than the year before. It started with a small non-themed gathering with food and a bonfire. The next year was the first year we tried a theme, and I also tarted a tradition of bringing in some form of entertainment. The "entertainment" hasn't always matched the theme, but it's worked. For Haunted Hollywood, I ordered a shot luge from an ice carver. Last year I rented the arcade version of "Dance, Dance, Revolution."

And this year....

Drumroll?

This year we're turning down the volume just a bit. We're going to get more personal - maybe even creepy personal. Prepare for spine tingling, bone chilling, hair on the back of your neck standing, because this year, none of your secrets are safe:



I've invited a very special guest, Madame Penny! (cue some sort of ominous music here) FYI, none of these photos are really her. But I kinda do hope she looks a little wack-a-doodle, don't you? I think it would just be more fun if she's got a thick fake accent, crystal ball, and lots of gaudy jewelry. But we shall see, since she's actually kind of a professional - yeah, she has a MASTERS DEGREE, and probably some other stealthy powers, so don't cross her. Check out her resume:



Penny's Bio
I believe everyone is born with psychic abilities, and we each experience them differently. I started experiencing and using mine at a young age, but didn’t label them until later in life. My abilities are clairaudience (clear hearing), clairvoyance (clear seeing), clairsentience (clear sensing), clairscent (clear smell), empathic (feeling) and others.

I have a Masters in Para Psychic Science from AIHT (American Institute of Holistic Theology). I began more formal studies of psychic and metaphysical phenomena in 1996, and specific areas have included palmistry, tarot, auras, chakras, helping spirits cross over, crystals, aromatherapy, and hands-on healing. I have been a member of MNPIG (Minnesota Paranormal Investigative Group). Some of my coursework has been through the Australasian College, and other classes have been from teachers such as Echo Bodine and Carol Lowell.

When I work with my clients, I am aided by several Native American spirit guides and a guardian angel. They provide information that helps to determine what is needed and how best to serve my clients.




She'll be doing palmistry and tarot readings from 8:30 - 10:30, so get there early to make sure you learn what's in store for your future...and nobody is allowed to ask if my kid will be a brat, if I will survive childbirth, or anything else that I really can't handle knowing yet :) House rule: stick to your own futures, people!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

NOLA Costume Ideas: Shifters, Weres, and Wolves (True Blood + More)

Vampires and telepaths aren't the only supernatural creatures roaming around the Big Easy, so today let's take a look at some of their furry friends - werewolves, shapeshifters, and other were-animals.

While sources for images are cited, I haven't purchased from nor can I vouch for the validity of any of these sellers, photos are mainly for inspirational purposes.

Werewolf:
Werewolves are arguably as hot as vampires these days, which means that the costume companies are jumping on the trend with some decent looking off-the-rack options - much easier than juggling a bunch of spirit gum and prosthetics:



$34.00 @ Target



$45.45 @ buy.com

You'd still need some makeup skills with this next one I think, but it actually comes with all the pieces shown, including the pants (most the rest do not), and it's not a full mask, so it might be more comfortable/cooler:



$68 @ Summit Fashions

I'm not sure why they are all wearing flannel, but that would be easy enough to change - and a fun way to customize your look. How about a couple costume of a Saint's football player and cheerleader - during the full moon? Or a Mardi Gras reveler, chef, pop singer...the opportunities are endless.

Were Panther:
Crystal Norris of True Blood is one of these:



as are most of her in-bred hillbilly family members in the small town of "Hotshot", outside of Bon Temps. While a sleek and powerful predator seems as far as you could get from a meth-making band of misfits, somehow these are two sides of the same coin - and the panther side seems much more appealing.



Assemble it easily:


(source)

paired with something like:



(source)

Flocked panther mask, under $7, velour jogging suit $35 (used), a tail out of a scrap would be quick and easy to round out the look (you wouldn't even need to sew, consider fusible webbing and just iron it together).

Shape Shifter:

True Blood uses live animals for their weres & shape shifters when in their non-human form, but Halloween leaves a little more room for interpretation. Basically you could create a humanoid version of nearly any animal and I'd consider you right on theme this year. If you'd like to work towards specific characters, how about a Merlotte's black (busboy) shirt, dog collar with a "tommy" nametag, pit bull ears and a little face paint to become Tommy Mickens, Sam Merlotte's younger brother:



All of the party stores have packages of noses, ears, and tails that can transform you into a were cat, mouse, leopard, etc., and most are pretty economical. How about picking up a snout and curly tail to go as Daphne when she appeared to Tara as (BEST QUOTE EVER) the "big @$$ mutha f!@#ing Paul Bunyan Pig!"

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Halloween is HAPPENING (finally!)

Huzzah! Finally, a productive day! I still went to bed at 9pm, but at least I had gotten a few things accomplished at that point! Without giving too much away yet, Halloween is finally unfolding and I'm feeling much more hopeful than last week:

1. I settled on a costume - it was my 35th different idea, and not the most creative, but with the time and budget crunch I've found myself in, decisions needed to be made - I settled for practical. I'm using a few pieces I already have, and ordered a maternity dress on Ebay for the base that I'll hopefully be able to wear a few more times over the holidays - that makes my $$ go a little further, and I don't have to find time to sew/build/glue anything together. Here's the dress (hope it fits!):



You'll just have to wonder about the rest of the ensemble for a while. :)

2. I finished the invitations! Major celebration! I'll be hand-delivering about half of them as I see people this week, and the rest should go in the mail tomorrow - be on the look out, they involve army of these little dudes:



They've been stuffed, sewed, and shipped off with the party details, but be careful when casting your voodoo spells, I can't be held liable for unstoppable curses :)


3. I contacted a Cajun caterer:

and started planning my menu. Not sure how much I'll be "outsourcing" this year, but I've never even tasted much creole food, let alone tried to cook it. Take out for the theme-related dishes just may be the safest option for all of us :) I also know there is no way I'll have the time/energy for the baking spree the past few years have brought, so this is my time management solution. Let's hope it's worth it!

These were three pretty major items to check off my list, and let's hope the momentum keeps up!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Case of the Rapidly Vanishing Weekends...

I had big plans this weekend. They mostly involved finishing up Halloween invitations and getting started on the actual party prep, seeing as our party is just over A MONTH away (ouch). I had a couple other commitments to work around, but I was confident I could make some progress...

HA HA HA HA HA. Clearly I forgot that I was pregnant.

And exhausted.

And emotional.

So Friday night, after an unexpectedly crazy week at work (that SHOULD have been a total cakewalk), I came home and crashed at 6pm. No, seriously, I did. I think I woke up at some point to put on my PJs, but that was it for the evening. Goodbye, Friday.

Saturday morning we had an ALL DAY birthing class. 9-5. And that was the short version. I went into it with a mild mix of curiosity and dread, knowing that I'm an awful patient, a confirmed fainter, and somewhat in denial of labor. But we gathered up our pregnancy manual, blanket, and two pillows, and ventured to the basement of our hospital to be enlightened. We learned all sorts of "interesting" little gems, such as the encouraging news that "the human vagina is built for accommodation, and has no trouble birthing a 15 lb baby." Unfortunately, though, your pelvis is not so accommodating and vehemently disagrees. Within the first hour, this little demonstration was passed around:



Well, not exactly this one, I wasn't taking snapshots - but this little setup found here is pretty much what we passed around the room in order to play "mash the baby through the pelvis."

That first photo makes it seem much less traumatic than it is, that pelvis is barely wider than the baby's head, and jr. has to twist and turn to wiggle through, so here's another illustration



[found here]

While we were lucky in that our instructor didn't have the adorable placenta piece of the playset, it was still enough to make me sweaty...and fainty...and run to the bathroom with dry heaves.

This bodes really well for me and the whole ACTUAL labor process, right? I told you I was a bad patient. But seriously, has anyone seen the head sizes in my husband's family? I'm getting sick again thinking about it...

I'm pretty sure the Husband would have been more than willing to leave at that point, but we stuck it out. There were actually some fairly helpful and surprising ideas raised, such as during the labor simulation (mostly a waste, since I have no idea what a contraction will feel like and consequently how far off the deep end it will send me). This is the iconic part of the class where you sit in front of your partner with your pillows and he's supposed to soothe you through your contractions.

HA HA HA HA.

Remember previously when I was confused about the "soft music" recommendation? It's for this part. Also suggested were "low lighting, aromatherapy, and soothing massage." We did an exercise with ice in our hands to determine what helped us cope with stressful/painful situations.

All of the above annoyed the !@#$ out of me.

It's not a huge surprise.

But what I did find out I appreciated was movement. Namely, playing with these guys:



Birthing balls = mega fun. At least when you're not birthing, for that confirmation I'll have to get back to you. But with my antsy high strung personality, I loved being able to bounce and rock and roll around. I'm highly considering replacing my desk chair with one, like they did on DeGrassi:



(source - and a funny account of visiting the DeGrassi set)

And with that, worth considering is that once you have an epidural, they pry the birthing ball out of your hands for the rest of the labor and make you sit in bed tethered to an IV, fetal monitor, and urinary catheter. It has something to do with being numb from abdomen to thigh, not really conducive to bouncing or walking (or holding your urine) and apparently a bit of a liability for hospitals. So something to ponder - what will be more comforting to me, movement or medication? Prior to this class I was leaning towards the epidural, but now I'm considering other pain medications as well.

The truth is I still have no !@#$ing idea, and really can't decide till we get in the moment.

And the point of this meandering story was that I didn't get anything done on Saturday either. By the time we got home from our class, I was completely wiped out. And maybe crying in the fetal position.

Sunday we went to the Renaissance Festival, which was equally traumatizing but for completely different reasons (I'm not saying I didn't have a bad outfit phase in college, but let's all agree not everyone should wear corsets. Or chain maille. Or crop tops.) It was mega crowded, and my patience for crowds (short as it was) came to an abrupt end months ago, as did my tolerance for incense, cigarette smoke, and most heinously, cigars. Who smokes cigars in the middle of a bunch of kids?!?!? Argggggh! We also parked 6 miles away, so I was tired by the time we got in the front gates.

And then I fell asleep at 9 while trying to watch Madmen, and had a dream I was asleep in my office at work.

AAACCCCCK! How am I going to get all of my Halloween projects done in a month?!?!? Adrenaline, don't fail me now!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Confession: Heather's life is often neither creative nor exciting...

This week marked my annual Costco pilgrimage to replenish our household stash of:













Not to mention a 5 pack of deodorant, 500 Ziploc bags...Super sexy, right? Not exactly the most fun shopping trip, and I'll admit in my hormonal state I cried a little when I got home and realized how much all this not-fun-old-fogey-necessity stuff set back my bank account, but at least I don't have to worry about paper products and the like until the babe is sleeping through the night (fingers crossed). And speaking of the little one, one new addition to the super-sized shopping spree:



Yeah, that's 900 baby wipes. I had a coupon. From what I hear, that might only last about a week, but at least it's a start. And the box weighs as much as a sack of potatoes.

And to round out the disappointing nature of my purchases, I threw in some giant underwear. Remember when new underwear made you kind of happy? That doesn't seem to happen during pregnancy. It's more like waving a white flag and giving up on something. But at least they're comfortable.

The one fun purchase I threw in the mix:



I had just discovered this raspberry lemonade when grabbing a drink at the gas station last week ($1.79 single serving) and since I'm still loving all things sour, I was overjoyed to find a 3 pack of full sized bottles for under $6! Score!

In addition to my disappointingly-grown-up shopping trip, I also got my flu shot this week (prego = high risk, working with high schoolers = even higher), organized and mailed off a bunch of bills, and we have a "childbirth preparation" class this weekend. Clearly, I've been much too responsible, and hope to spend the rest of the weekend on FUN and FRIVOLOUS projects, namely completing my Halloween invitations (so close!). I did get my first shipment of "supplies" for the Mardi Gras room, and would love to spend some craft time on my VooDoo shop.

Here's hoping you have fun weekend plans,

-H

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

NOLA Costume Ideas - WIN True Blood Costumes!


Feelin' lucky, punk?

Then hop over to HBO and register to win "straight from the set" (and mostly bloody) costumes from this past season of True Blood. Sadly, I'm guessing all the ladies in the cast are about the circumference of my leg, so none of it would FIT, but I surely wouldn't pass up Eric's leather jacket :) Contest page here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Next Nursery Project - PAINT!

We really hadn't done much in way of preparing the nursery yet other than tearing down the wallpaper a few weeks ago. So last we left it, the walls were an icky pale pink:



We decided not to worry about infant bedding, since they don't use the quilts, the bumpers are controversial, and you can hardly see the crib sheets (we'll just get solid sheets and skip the rest). Instead, way back at the beginning of the pregnancy, I bought a cute comforter for the twin bed that will also be in the room, and will be much more practical and visible. Before we even knew if we were having a boy or girl, we decided on a pirates & mermaids theme, and I fell in love with this bedding:



And back on the day we heard the heartbeat for the 2nd time (14 weeks?), I splurged on my first big accessory, this alligator fan:



That pretty much brings us up to this past week, when hubby and I finally decided on a paint color - "tantalizing teal" from Sherwin Williams, and I scooped up a gallon ("Harmony" = low VOC's, in a eggshell finish). I was excited, but a little scared when I opened up the lid to really face how bright it was:



Eeeep! But there was no turning back now. I ended up wearing some old pajamas for the job, so forgive the lack of glamour - when you only have a few pairs of pants that fit and can't afford to ruin any of them with paint, you have to get creative :) I taped off all the trim, stacked up the furniture, and used old "scene setters" from Halloween as drop cloths (thus the bats and ghosts on the floor. Yay recycling! Yay not having to buy drop cloths!)



Oh my goodness, this is really bright...



There were a few moments of wondering if I had made a huge mistake - I clearly hadn't done enough (or anything) to the walls after tearing down the wallpaper (oops), so there were a few areas where the finish was strange (wallpaper glue?). The walls are plaster and lightly textured, so there were areas that just didn't seem to take paint right away and had to be retouched a few times. Al came over and helped me with the "cutting in" (and fixed my streaky lines) and we were finished with the whole thing in under 2 hours. The room looks like a giant Tiffany box, but I think it will be really cute once everything is assembled:



I am DYING to go shopping now for fun accessories, but luckily I'm broke, so no budget busting shopping sprees for me. All in good time, I'm sure. For now, I'm doing a lot of "window" shopping and dreaming on Etsy, and I have a few plans in the works.

Hope you like it, little one! Can't wait for you to see your new home :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Playlist...and a lot of talk about placenta...

You might think that if you wait till you're 30 to have a baby, you'd know everything and sail through the process. Turns out, there are about 300 things so far that have surprised the hell out of me, with new items added to the list every day. In retrospect, this shouldn't be all that hard to believe, since really neither the hubby nor I have been around actual babies since...well...maybe when my 21 year old brother was an infant. And I was...9. Yeah, so I should have expected the confusion...but I was blinded by my ignorance.

Luckily now-a-days we're blessed to have "all the answers" at the tip of our fingers. Strange symptom? GOOGLE IT. And you will generally always find out that your worst fears are confirmed, and both you and your baby will die.

And then your doctor will tell you to knock it off, and stay off the internet. Which works for about a week.

BUT, where else would I have learned about episiotomy, vaginal tearing, afterbirth, and placenta smoothies? Because Lord knows polite Lutherans never talked about such things. But mommybloggers do. A LOT. Even ones I like. (BTW, blogger does not know how to spell episiotomy, but I'm imploring you, don't plug it in your search bar just to check the spelling like I did - you can't unsee the diagrams and pictures that come flying up. Damn speedy Google).

One day I did sit down and read the final chapters of the two baby books we've been sort of relying on, which was a lot like reading The Monster at the End of This Book. (Internet, whatever damage you have done to my psyche by convincing me I am always dying is redeemed by having this book online at my fingertips). Anyways, I knew I shouldn't keep turning each page, but I did anyways. And at some point the hubby came home to find me in a pile of tissues sobbing about ultimate impending destruction of my whoo-ha and life as I know it.

Talk about a monster at the end of the book...

My original strategy of denying any knowledge of the birth process was CLEARLY the way to go. Were I to do it over again, I'd argue fervently (with myself) to assume magical fairies just hand me a baby at the end of the story, which truly is not any more strange and unbelievable than what "really" happens, but definitely sounds more pleasant. And by the time I were to realize that's not really how the gig would go down, it would be too late to lament it anyways.

Instead, I'm terrified. And now, as we're closing down on "V-Day" I need to make a birth plan. And rather than focusing on "important" stuff which makes me rock back and forth catatonic (drugs? natural? interventions? huh?), I'm filling out the "easy" parts first.

Except I don't really get them either.

So, mommies and others, explain to me why I need "soothing music" for this endeavor? Once again my lack of experience and understanding is clearly showing through, because to me, this seems counter-intuitive. Wouldn't I want stadium rock, like a workout playlist (or what my never-been-in-a-gym-self assumes a workout playlist to consist of)? I look at labor as a horrific athletic endeavor - you use muscles, endure pain, push your limits, and probably collapse in a puddle of your own bodily fluids...wouldn't fast, inspiring, angry music be better for that? Wouldn't I feel better focusing on the pounding beat of Green Day and Rancid than people counting and telling me when to breathe over the soft (annoying) sounds of Enya?

Please explain.

And help me build my playlist.

Because I refuse to acknowledge most of the rest of the decisions I have to make for my birth plan :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Tantalizing" Weekend Plans

We picked a color for the nursery, and I'm *hoping* to paint this weekend.


Check out "tantalizing teal" - kind of a provocative name for an infant's room, but hubby thought all the lighter tones I picked out looked "like a hospital" and I'm terrified of going too dark and creating a cave. So we met somewhere in between, at a color that happens to perfectly match the happy little octopus guy that is all over our pirate-themed bedding (we're doing pirates & mermaids).

So now that the act of painting is actually getting close, I'm kind of scared.

I've never actually painted a room in my house before. I've only recently had "my house" and it's still kind of unreal that I can actually alter things to my liking. Even permanently. I sort of feel like I'm playing dress up in mother's high heels.

And I really hope I don't end up spilling a gallon of paint, falling off a ladder, or otherwise playing out the comedy of errors that seems much too possible right now...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

NOLA Costume Ideas: More True Blood - Supporting Characters

Alas, with last night's finale, we're going to be sans True Blood again until next summer, boo hoo! I'm not giving up any spoilers, but I do think it's a good time to revisit some Louisiana costume ideas inspired by True Blood - this time, let's look at some of the lesser known characters:

Pam is one of my favorite characters, but I'm not sure she'd be easily recognizable as she doesn't really have an exaggerated look. She's generally well dressed, alternating between smart suits and some campy vamp-wear at the bar, but then there's this gem:

Pam's Disco Night at Fantasia sequin jumpsuit:



My all time favorite True Blood costume, and it was only shown in passing on one episode. I'm guessing you could find a vintage pattern and recreate it if you were truly motivated.

Ginger, however, is the ESSENCE of a caricature (rather than just a character), and should be fairly easy to mock. She's a human waitress at Fangtasia and has been "Glamored" so often she's a few fries short of a Happy Meal. Just please, go easy on the screaming:



The key is the short bleach blond wig. Here's one a little long, but with good feathering. A blond bob wig should work too.



A vacant expression and any assortment of barely-there clothes should round out her look.

Fans of the Sookie Stackhouse NOVELS will definitely recognize "Bubba" - a character not (yet?) appearing in the HBO series, but would DEFINITELY be a perfect costume choice. See, Bubba is really this guy:



Who was turned into a vampire, but "something went wrong" so he's a little screwy too. This would be a super fun and easy costume - Elvis jumpsuit, wig, and fangs.

And finally, using the same basic Merotte's uniform discussed in the Sookie post and a long red wig (like this one with just a little styling) you could embody brassy waitress Arlene Fowler:



I briefly considered going this route as Arlene is pregnant this season (with a serial killer's demon baby) but since there is some ambiguity as to where the storyline is going, I've decided on another direction :)

I can't believe there is little more than a month until Halloween, where is the time going? I finally sat down and started on my invites this weekend, so hopefully I'll be able to keep up the momentum and really rock out all of my dreams and intentions. Between the time crunch, the exhaustion of pregnancy, and budgetary concerns, it should be quite an adventure to see how this all comes together this year!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bucket List # 101: Officiate a Wedding

On Saturday, August 21, 2010 I checked another biggie off my bucket list - #101, officiate a wedding! I'm a little late in blogging on this, mostly because I didn't have any photos to go along with it (I thought bringing my camera up with me might get in the way), but now that the bride & groom are back from their honeymoon, I've been lucky enough to oooh and ahhh over the professional photos and write up the experience! Warning - this is a GORGEOUS wedding with a BEAUTIFUL bride, you may not be able to look away! But first, here's me in my formal role:



Do I look official enough? I am, indeed, a legally recognized wedding officiant in the states of Minnesota, New York, Wisconsin (with a note), and possibly Iowa, I keep forgetting to check. I became ordained shortly after my own wedding, where the brilliant officiant FORGOT TO FILE THE MARRIAGE LICENSE (legally required within 5 days) until I finally got ahold of him a month later and he recalled it was "in his truck" and he'd been "meaning to get to that." UH, WTF? With my love of event planning and background in public speaking I figured I could at least do a better job than he did, and became ordained through the Universal Life Church. I filed my credentials with the states I wanted to be recognized in, paid some filing fees, and voila! Instant officiant!



Fast forward a few years: I had never really pursued booking a wedding, until one of my closest friends asked if I would perform her marriage. Jana and I had been friends since high school (after a short stint as mortal enemies, which is hilarious in retrospect), and I immediately agreed and was so honored to be a part of her big day. I knew I'd be emotional and a little nervous, but I had no idea when I accepted that I'd be 5 months pregnant and totally hormonal on top of it! Nor did Jana, but for some reason she stayed calm and didn't fire me...



The maid of honor, another high school friend, was supposed to keep me from crying by making faces or some other silliness when I started to crumble...but before we even walked out the door, she burst into tears herself! Oh no! I put on a brave face and marched down the aisle.



That morning had been cool and foggy, but by the time we were about to start the ceremony it was bright and sunny. We stood overlooking the shores of Lake Superior on a large outdoor patio.



I think I was shaking pretty hard as I opened the ceremony, and I flubbed one early line, but somehow the rest of it flowed pretty smoothly. I had written my own opening remarks, a welcome with wishes for the couple that was both funny and heartfelt (I hope - that's what I was going for at least).



We got more laughs in the middle, when Jana tried to put Justin's ring on the wrong hand...which didn't fit, but she wouldn't let that stand, so she basically twisted and wrenched it until she realized the mistake. The sweet groom just stood there and let her abuse him. He's well trained already! It was very funny and memorable, especially when the bride exclaimed, exasperated, "Is this the wrong hand?!?!"



Jana had sent me the vows, but really gave me free reign on the rest of the ceremony. Though I'm not religious, I found a beautiful poem for the closing words that I think fit the occasion perfectly:

The Wedding Prayer, By Robert Louis Stevenson:

Lord, behold our family here assembled.
We thank you for this place in which we dwell,
for the love that unites us,
for the peace accorded us this day,
for the hope with which we expect the morrow,
for the health, the work, the food,
and the bright skies that make our lives delightful;
for our friends in all parts of the earth.
Amen.


And then I got to say those magical words - and they were REAL! - "By the power vested in my by the State of Minnesota, I now pronounce you husband & wife. Would you like to kiss the bride?"



(He did)
(And they lived Happily Ever After)
(And I filed the marriage license on time)

Jana and Justin, thank you so much for including me in your wedding, it was absolutely beautiful. I wish you health, wealth, and happiness for all of your days!

All of the above were shot by John at Celebration Photography.