Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Final Countdown...

Today I'm wearing my Halloween socks, a Halloween T-shirt:

(it does cover my bump better than that, I didn't realize it was on wonky until AFTER the photo...remember I can't see what's on the underside of it! Including my shoes!)

and a big ol' jack-o-lantern smile, because it's "my Friday!" Tomorrow I'm taking off work to go wild on party preparations (I have a very detailed 4-page "to do" list), and I'm actually in pretty good shape.

Last night I finished everything that was on my list for Monday - Wednesday, so I'm right on track (taking into consideration the things I had to cut for time/budget/weather reasons - such as if had I put outside decorations up, they'd have been blown into Kansas this week, so that all got scrapped). I'm feeling pretty okay as of today, despite spending the night listening to things fall off the wall in the bathroom (Gator Shack needs some repair).

On the list tonight is the final shopping trip for the perishables - bananas and the like - and then I hope to get a start on stashing all the unused props & decorations back up in the witches' tower (BTW - having an attic craft room is awesome when you are sitting up there working...not quite as awesome when you are hauling stuff up and down a full steep set of stairs 300 times. But I still love it).

Tomorrow will be a full day of cleaning & baking, and Saturday will be a blur of boarding the dog, picking up the prepared food, plugging in lights, a few (hopefully easy) cooking projects, and turning on about 2000 battery operated candles. Wish me luck!

I plan to post a lot of photos and tutorials after the event, so check back if you are interested. So far I've had a lot of fun with the N'awlins theme, and I am DYING to see what my creative guests put together for costumes this time around. I'm even pretty happy with mine, despite its last-minute creation. I'm excited to try some new foods (beignets, pralines, bananas foster - not sure if I'll be daring enough to try the gumbo or jambalaya), and just enjoy the evening with friends. We have far too few parties these days.

Hope your Halloween is a howling success...


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sugar & Spice...DESSERT Preview

As I mentioned before, I've cut down somewhat on my offering of high-sugar snacks in favor of a little more "real food" at the Halloween shindig this year - each previous year I've noticed that the savory dishes go fastest. But I can't cut the sweets down too far :) I'm really focused on theme, and tried to pick a mix of classic favorites and some special N'awlins desserts this year. As always, this sneak peek is subject to any and all whims that strike me in the next few days, but as of now here is what I'm planning on serving on the "sweet side" of the buffet table:

Bananas Foster - served over pound cake and/or vanilla ice cream

Mini cheesecakes with strawberry compote

Cupcakes (of course)



Sweet Potato Pie (Thanks to the Lovely Pie Afficinado, Alison)

Fruit Platter

Are you ready?!?!?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Time Out:

My husband has to remind me all too often this time of year that "Halloween is supposed to be FUN!" It's not that I don't love having my party, and egotistically soaking up all the "oohs and ahhs" at the decor and food (I seriously eat that up. Feel free to gush all you want. It validates my efforts :) but sometimes as the date nears, and the panic grows, I focus way too much on what I'm not going to get to or what isn't the way I want it to be.

So yesterday I declared a TIME OUT! Mission: don't forget to ENJOY Halloween!

Step one: giant gooey graveyard cookie from Byerly's:

Can I say again how thankful I am that I passed my glucose test? :)

Hope you're all enjoying your Halloween preparations! I know I'm really looking forward to seeing all my guests in costume (almost nobody has told me what they are going as this year, so lots of surprises ahead!), reconnecting with some people I don't see too often, and making my neighbors wonder once again just who moved in to our quiet little house :)

Monday, October 25, 2010


That's the sound my inner control freak makes when I'm under the gun and know I won't be getting everything done I had planned. It's nothing new, I do it every year - aiming high is good, right? Unfortunately I'm not good at cutting projects or dealing with the emotional effects of not getting everything I wanted accomplished. This year has been obviously a little more of a struggle, being 7+ months pregnant I don't have the strength, endurance, or physical agility to get everything done I usually do. Somehow that message has not made itself clear in my brain yet, and I keep being disappointed when I have to stop and rest or ask for help. I'm working on it. Pregnancy is humbling in all aspects.

Despite my limitations, I did manage to make the most of my last weekend of work time - all of my pre-shopping is done, the Mardi Gras and Voodoo rooms are done, half of the pieces for the front yard are finished, and the glue is drying on this year's costume awards:

More voodoo dolls! These guys are a little bigger than the invitation , around 14", and I whipped them together tonight when my plan of working on the basement fell through (I ran out of staples. How do I not have staples?!?!?) I stuck with the three main awards I've established - the obvious "Best Costume" award:

I also like to give out a "Most Creative", and each year there have been SO MANY deserving candidates. This year's award looks like:

And finally is the "Best Couple or Group" costume award, so far it's always gone to a couple living in the same house, which is fortuitous since it's only one "trophy", but not necessarily a requirement. Perhaps a shared custody agreement could be arranged for non-spousal winners. Or there's always the possibility of surgery, though I worked hard to stitch these two voodoo dolls TOGETHER:

Not the best photos, but you get the idea - now I just can't wait to see all of the costumes!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday night = craft night

Thursday nights are my "forced" crafting night, since our DVR is full of colliding "can't miss" shows. So in order to catch Vampire Diaries (not-so-secret shame) I head up to my craft room (AKA, "the witches' tower") to watch it on the non-cable equipped TV. While I'm up there, I might as well get a few things accomplished, right? So last night I took about 20 of these:

and turned them into potion and ingredient bottles for the voodoo room. I'll post some pics after the party, not ready to give it all away quite yet.

Then I "repurposed" some foam tombstones, painting over the goofy names & puns I had previously scrawled on them, so that I can add some more "theme appropriate" names to the cemetary this year...for inspiration I'll consult this video:

Then I assembled some Mardi-Gras place cards to label each of the yummy dishes I'm serving, before heading back downstairs to place a ton of these guys:

all around the voodoo room, drape the walls in fabric and scary artifacts, and otherwise make it into an anti-nursery. I fully intend to crash after this party, but hopefully I'll have enough energy left to restore Cupcake's room to a more baby-friendly status!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Got my flash on, it's true, need that picture of you...

For clarity, the child shall henceforth be known on this blog as "The Cupcake." There is no grand reason, but it solves this dilemma.

Now, speaking of The Cupcake:
Since I had some sort of iffy "low placenta", she got another photo shoot yesterday morning, and here are a few of the highlights:

1. she's still a girl

2. she sucks her toes (maybe my circus school experience did something to my genes? Because clearly I was not that flexible)

3. the offending placenta moved sufficiently out of the danger zone, and....

4. the kid officially has HAIR. Hair that is perceptible on the ultrasound. Measurable hair. It's only 1/2 cm so far, but I suppose since the whole cupcake is only about 2 1/2 lbs, it's still proportional. And the heartburn hasn't been in vain :)

Only 82 days left in the oven, give or take! See you soon, kid!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NOLA Costume Ideas: From the Swamp - Bayou Babes & Handsome Hillbillies

So I titled the party "Romp in the Swamp" and then sort of abandoned the slimy bayou in favor of NOLA's more urban side, be it the sparkly fun of Mardi Gras or the dark appeal of vampires. Clearly this was unintentional, and to remedy the situation, here are some costume ideas for swamp-romping folk:

Couple's Costume: Shotgun Wedding


A pregnant bride - whether your bump be real or padding - is easy to put together. Goodwill stores are teeming with wedding dresses right now, but even a white sundress will do - after all, it's sort of a "spur of the moment" event, right? A chunk of tulle makes a cheap and effective veil, a bunch of weeds or dead flowers can be your bouquet, and you can find hillbilly teeth or tooth blacking makeup at most Halloween stores right now. Don't worry about shoes, barefoot works best.

Your groom has several options - he could dress traditionally, and just look terrified all night, preferably with a backwoods father-in-law prodding him on with a shotgun. Or he could also don some hillbilly finery, such as Seal did for he & Heidi's "Trailer Trash" vow renewal:


He's sporting shorts, a mullet wig, and several mismatched shirts. Also highly appropriate would be the classic overalls, or if you have the "build" for it, how about these fancy pants:


If you're not into assembling your own outfit, here's the "off the rack" costume version:

- seems to be out of stock/discontinued on a lot of sites, but you might have luck on Ebay or Amazon.

Other backwoods fringe folk:

Apparently there's a TV show called "Swamp People" featuring these guys:


The overalls seem to be key.

Or how about a gator wrestler:


You could get one of these pool toys and battle it all evening:

$13.95 at Ebay

Of course, people aren't the only inhabitants of the bayou...

Creatures of the Swamp:

$24.49 on

This guy seems to be available at a lot of the larger retailers - Kmart, ToysRUs, etc:

If you're feeling more inspired, here's an incredible step-by-step tutorial on becoming this guy:

find the details here.

Here's a good blog post with links to inspiration & shopping sites with swamp monster pieces.

11 days till Halloween, just 10 until my party - definitely time to get hopping if you're still on the fence about a costume!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bedtime Stories

Last night was a "last supper" of sorts, since my gestational diabetes test is tomorrow I have a whacked out idea that if I avoid sugaring-it-up for 24 hours or so I might have a chance of passing. By all accounts my eating patterns today wouldn't really change anything, if I have GD I have it (and a 12 lb baby to look forward to) but if it makes me feel better, we'll go with it. While I've managed to blissfully cope with the idea of labor (mostly through denial) the thought of a strict bland diet for the next 3 months sends me fully over the edge into despair.

For my "last supper" hubby and I went with apple crisp. Not for dessert, just apple crisp for dinner. With vanilla Hagen Daz ice cream. Actually, its probably more healthy than my McDonald's lunch was (banner day, in retrospect - where do I get my mommy of the year award?), what with all the fruit & calcium and lack of deep frying...And in an interesting twist of fate, the apple crisp didn't result in any heart burn. Could that mean a full night of sleep???

Um, no, of course not. First there was the midnight potty break (and cursing myself for not turning on the heat once again, since I was perfectly cozy under my blankets, but the thought of leaving them for the chilly night air was not appealing). Then there was the 4am bloody nose, and the resulting quest for Kleenex, made all the more sporting by my reluctance to turn on a light and not being conscious enough to find my glasses. Pretty sure I let the dog out around that time too, and hopped around freezing on the porch until he was done sniffing the perimeter of the fence before heading back to bed. Exhausted. And that's about when the aching in my hips reached epic proportions so that I was flopping from one side to the other about every 30 minutes. Till I overslept. And thus today I feel like I got hit by a truck.

I'm ready for my happily ever after now!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The glass is half full...of milk...with a Tums chaser :)

Things I did wrong this weekend:

- thought a few dips of cheese bread in pizza sauce couldn't possibly give me raging heartburn...till I was up from midnight - 4am praying for a quick death.

- assumed the pizza sauce was the culprit of said heartburn disaster, and there was no harm in finishing the cheesebread by itself the next day...turns out, the garlic alone is perfectly capable of causing great pain. If this keeps up, I fully expect my child to look like Rapunzel.

- figured that with my new pregnancy blood volume (150% of a normal person) and the space heater growing in my belly, I'd be plenty warm on a 39 degree evening without the heat on. And then I woke up shivering violently at 4am, contemplating any and all alternatives to leaving my blankets for a potty break.

Funny how they all result in a significant lack of sleep :) Oh well, guess if I can wean myself off of needing rest now, it'll all be easier later, right?!?!

And now that the negatives are out of the way, can I please get one of these:

Actually, I might need five or six of them, because there were a helluva lotta things I did RIGHT this weekend too! WHOO HOO! Namely:

- Finally returned leftover invitation materials to Michael's...after driving them around in my car for a month!

- Battled the "free sample Saturday" crowd at Costco to scoop up the savory dips for my party (lobster spread and spinach dip, yum!), as well as Christmas gifts for all the nieces - double "to do list" success!

- Made a list of all the serving utensils & dishes I need for the Halloween party and borrowed most of it from my mother (I love that she has a whole drawer of ladles. And another one of trays. And a whole cupboard for chafing dishes).

- Stopped by Cajun Potluck to put a down payment on the Cajun catering, as well as snag some Cajun BBQ sauce and Cajun seasoning for other dishes I'm making.

- Threw a Mardi Gras parade in my living room. 9 1/2 hours of work and the decorating is *mostly* that first room. As usual, my plan was much more time consuming than I had thought, but it's off to a good start. Now if only I had a few more weekends...and could still take ibuprofen for my aching back...

I'm realistic in doubting I'll get much accomplished this evening, in general Mondays are just about survival for me right now :) But with only one more weekend to actually work (and one of those days already tied up) I'll have to push through some of these evenings and pick up the pace. Only 12 days left!!!!


I totally forgot to mention I solved 1/2 of my costume crisis! Goodwill to the rescue once again, I scooped up a $20 ballgown, grabbed some accessories at Party City, and I'm on my way to a classic Mardi Gras Ball outfit :) Whoo hoo!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

PEOPLE's Halloween Inspiration Photos

I somehow ended up browsing People Magazine online this week, and thought I'd cross link to a couple of their fun Halloween photo albums that were pretty fun:

Celebs in their Halloween best

Everyday Joes dressed in their CELEBRITY best

Friday, October 15, 2010

One step forward, two steps back...

That sounds more melancholy than I actually feel right now, but it's still true. Last night things were accomplished, then other things were dis-accomplished. Unaccomplished. Moved back onto the "to do" list. Drat!

Good news first:

- assembled two big wire shelving units for the laundry room

- moved the giant pile of clean blankets, sheets, tablecloths, and pillowcases off the bar, where they've been living for far too long to their new home on the laundry room shelves

- washed 2 loads of laundry, put away 4

- took down the blacklights from last year's party, the remaining 3M hooks, and replaced the ceiling tiles in the basement - so it's ready to decorate for this year!

- replaced all lights around the bar with red bulbs

- ate a few cheeseburgers

...and then I decided to try on my costume.

...and it wasn't very cute. Definitely not cute enough. Hmmmm. while I was thinking of it, I had hubby try on his costume...which didn't fit.

AT ALL. He couldn't even get into it, let alone zip it up.

So...there was definitely progress made, after which I was feeling pretty proud of myself, and even the things that ended up undone (back to the drawing board on costumes) were better discovered at this point than in the hours just before the party. Guess I have some more shopping to do!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Preliminary Menu Sneak Peek: The "real" food

Can I get a drumroll? Or maybe a first line jazz parade? (I'm not really sure what that is, but I saw it on one of the few episodes of "Treme" I watched, so I know it's something N'awlins related). After much hard work and deliberation, I think I've finally narrowed down my menu, and assuming that it all works and I can stay awake long enough to pull it off, here are my preliminary plans for the "real" food (sweets sneak peek still to come) :

Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

Crawfish Gumbo

Cajun pork sandwiches

Hush puppies

Cajun potato wedges*

Confetti rice*

Cheddar biscuits*

Veggies & creole mustard dip*

*denotes vegetarian dish

What do you think? It will be partially catered, and partially prepped by my loving hands, and of course subject to vetoes and adjustments as the party nears, but I think I have a pretty good spread going! Two things I've tried to improve on each year are:

#1 focusing more on food than sweets, though everyone loves the sweets and I feel more confident making them, it's the non-sugary dishes that really go first,


#2 really spending time crafting the menu according to the theme. This was a little scary with Cajun cuisine, which I don't think I've ever tasted, but I think this could work! And I even managed to find some good vegetarian options for my meat-challenged friends! :)

Check another big item off my planning list!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Reminder to self:

...remember this post. Surround yourself with things/people who make you happy. Don't waste time on those who don't - you have no obligations to such people. Life is too short. Spend as much of it laughing as you can.

Edit: Just decided to catch up on "This American Life", how hilarious is it that this is the most recent podcast?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sweet Thoughts

I just drank a big gulp of expired milk, but I'm willing to look past it because I'm munching another one of these:

Mmmmm, monster cookie.

I'm in a particularly cheerful (and uncharacteristic) mood today, most likely because I slept for 14 hours last night. I will eventually regret that move and begin to stress double time about everything I'm behind on and should have been doing, i.e. I had hoped to have my menu nailed down yesterday and that is not quite the truth. Food has basically been my nemesis for 6+ months now, so I'm finding it hard to take joy in the planning. Also complicating factors is my inner Martha wanting to make adorable theme-related Cajun dishes, and my outward picky eater knowing I won't actually eat any of them :) Ahh, dilemma...

Luckily Cajun DESSERTS seem to pass my muster just fine, I'm currently contemplating these fine treats:

Crockpot Bananas Foster
Mardi Gras Cupcakes

(Cupcakes had to be in there somewhere, I can't resist. And luckily, neither can most of my guests!)

This is just the tip of the iceberg, of course, but hopefully it's a little something to look forward to - in just 18 days! Eek!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lest you think I'm a complete downer...

Super HAPPY things this week

- Monster cookies from Mom! Was going to take a photo to post...but I couldn't wait to eat it for breakfast...I have a lot in common with this guy:

- 3rd trimester becomes official - and we're under 100 days till the babe makes her appearance! Holy cats! And dogs! And kicks to my bladder, oh my! In honor of this (and my increasing forgetfulness) I've posted a ticker on the very bottom of this page showing you the approximate size of my fetus in fruit and vegetables. Because apparently that's what all the cool mommies do. And I'm slightly frightened of both babies and veggies, so maybe this will be like desensitization therapy.

 BabyFruit Ticker

- Lemonade, my first prego love, is OUT (due to the roaring of heartburn it brings on), but Mandarin oranges are totally in! Yay for finding a snack I love, crave, and generally keep down without issue - ahh, light syrup, I drink you happily:

- Martha's Halloween Show was on last night, and forgive me for loving her totally wooden and cheesy "acting," but it cracks me up. Not a ton of new ideas, but it's sort of a Halloween tradition for me, like others watch "The Great Pumpkin" :)

Things that made me cry this weekend: TGI Fridays

Okay, it's not that hard to do right now, and more often than not seems to relate to food issues - specifically I think I've cried when the husband threw out my raspberry compote, when we ran out of milk, and again this morning when I accidentally dropped half a cookie in the garbage can while taking the trash out. But Sunday's "incident" was a little more serious:

I am a picky eater. Add in the pregnancy, which removes the joy & ease of caffeine and lunch meat from the equation, along with most red-sauces (heartburn), citrus drinks (including lemonade now - boo hoo hoo!) and there are about 6 things left on the menu that I'll stomach. Near the top of my preferences was TGI Friday's Gourmet Mac & Cheese, which I hadn't had all pregnancy (there was some discussion of whether or not the Gorgonzola was pasteurized, but I've yet to find any used in American restaurants that isn't, plus it's baked), until we set out there for dinner last night.

And then I cried a little.

Because it's no longer on the menu.

RIP, cheesy bacony awesomeness. I hope that you and the Oreo ice cream sandwich are up in Friday's heaven somewhere sipping pina coladas.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Costume Ideas - using graduation/choir robes

As I mentioned, I've been spending more and more time at the Goodwill lately, scouring for Halloween bargains. Particularly I think this location does a good job of hauling in TONS of costume inspiring pieces:

St. Paul
553 Fairview Ave. N
St. Paul, MN 55104
(651) 379-5808

(I've called it the "University Avenue store", though its technically set back off the main street and the address is Fairview).

One thing I noticed a ton of on their racks were these:

Robes. Choir robes/graduation robes/clergy robes, they had them in all colors and finishes. And cheap. So I thought I might step away from the NOLA costume ideas, and rack my brain for a few costumes you could create around this easy piece.

1. Graduate

Buy the robe, and take 10 minutes to make up an easy little graduation cap - cover a square piece of cardboard in black (or whatever color robe you decided on) fabric - hot glue works well. Cut a strip just larger than the circumference of your head and secure it in a circle as the cap. Glue on a button & tassel, and you're done.

Jazz it up:
- spell out something obnoxious on your hat (Hi Mom!)

- classic streaker - there's always one guy who decides to go "au natural" under his robe - create the look with an open robe and nude bodysuit underneath.

- set yourself in a different time period - try some big 80's bangs and a side ponytail, jelly bracelets, acid washed jeans tucked into your neon slouch socks, high top sneakers, and add a "Class of 1985 rules!" sticker across your back

- Pick your clique - accessorize with nerd glasses & buck teeth, goth makeup & baggy pants, drama mask and feather boa, etc.

- Politicize it - strap a crushing load of student debt to your back (maybe just a huge backpack that says "STUDENT LOANS." Maybe with blood for emphasis), a "will work for food" sign on your back and a copy of the want ads with lots of red circles and XXs, wear your robe open with the bare minimum cloths underneath and a "will dance for tuition" sign.

- Go (un)dead - zombie or vampire twists are easy to add to any costume, just pick up the appropriate makeup kit at a Walgreens or Target.

2. God-Fearing Folk


- start with a black robe and add a white collar (strip of cardboard) to become a Catholic priest, or drape a sash over your shoulders (vestments? something like that?) with religious symbols to be a minister. Carry a bible (or a black dictionary, or heck, put a paper cover on your copy of "New Moon" and write BIBLE across the spine).

- black robe, white dickie or bib (or you could even cut off the top of a white t-shirt to make the collar), and a habit made of a rectangle of black fabric secured to a white bandanna or knit cap makes you a nun. Best if worn with a stern look, and possibly carry a ruler for rapping knuckles.

- choir singer - carry a book of hymns. Spontaneously sing back the last line of what anyone says to you. (Be prepared to be tossed out of your party early.)

- Mary & Joseph - start with a light blue or brown/gold robe, add a few loops of fabric draped across your body or over your arms and tie at the waist with rope or twine. A chunk of fabric, or in a pinch even a pillowcase can make your head scarf. Mary is a good costume for a pregnant mama, or she could gently swaddle the baby Jesus (doll wrapped in a receiving blanket).

Jazz it up - too many options, and too much room for politics and offense to even get me started. Of course there are the classics - pregnant nun, "excited" priest...but you probably don't have to look too far to come up with a million more statements you can make with a few accessories. I'll let you delve into them on your own.

3. Judge


A black robe easily doubles as a judge's robe (which would look way less stupid than the folks above), and you've always wanted an excuse to carry around and bang a gavel.

Here's a great tutorial on making a barrister's wig out of a Christmas tree skirt, or if you'd rather, create it out of tampons, toilet paper rolls, also here, or most costume shops carry them as well.

Jazz it up:

- protest a particular ruling...though the only ones that I come up with are too offensive to post. Maybe look at some political cartoons for research. Or just add a devil tail peeking out the back, or envelopes of cash bulging out of your robe. Wrap yourself in red electrical tape to protest the inefficiencies of the judicial system.

- Judge Judy - she would require a different wig, but same general idea.

4. Miscellaneous and Whackadoo

Angel - white robe, tinsel halo, and paper wings, just like in your kindergarten Christmas pageant.

The "other" afterlife - It's probably wrong, but I kind of love the idea of a vampire nun or zombie choir singer.

Grandma - let's face it, a choir robe is just a mumu before the loud pattern. Remedy that with some fabric paint or iron on appliques, put your hair in curlers and smear a mud mask over your face.

Greek God/Goddess - if you've ever tried to make a bed sheet toga, you know its harder than it would appear. But if you start with a big flowy garment, its a little easier - get a white gown, lop off one sleeve, and wrap gold braided cord around your midsection to "tailor" it to your body. Add a crown of gold leaves and gladiator sandals.

Harry Potter's school uniform - A black robe can be adorned with minimal trim & a Gryffindor emblem to become a Hogwart's cloak.

Speaking of Wizards, create an old school Merlin - long blue robe, paint or iron on white stars, and use cardboard to create the iconic pointy hat. Long white beards can be purchased at any costume shop, or make one out of fiberfill or cotton balls.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

People Who Impress Me: Filth Wizardry

I stumbled on the "Filth Wizardry" blog a while back and knew I had to book mark it right away - this woman and her kids do the most amazing, yet accessible crafts. And they actually play with them, and don't come off all blog-snobby like some mommyblog sites do, where you know that everything is staged perfectly and the kid probably never gets to actually touch the paint. In fact, it appears from many of the photos that they have a stretch of concrete outside their house that is covered with bright paint drops from their various projects, which is all kinds of awesome. Anyways, her daughters are currently into Star Wars, and so she whipped up some Milk Jug Storm Trooper costumes:

Yeah, she totally did that. And she teaches you how too, in a handy little step by step tutorial with photos, HERE.

And her post just before that - just as awesome:

Those are little peg dolls she made into the whole darned cast, INCLUDING HAN SOLO IN CARBONITE.

Wow. Just, wow.

I'm not personally a huge Star Wars nerd, but I can appreciate the culture, and most of all I appreciate that you don't have to be a professional artist to pull these off - they're "REAL" somehow, like with street cred :)

Yes, crafters care about street cred. Or I do anyways. She reminds me of my mom, who seemed to like playing and creating as much (sometimes more) than I did, and whose whole attitude towards messy toys like Playdoh was "eh, let it dry, it'll vacuum up!"

Please give me the patience to be this kind of mom :)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Voodoo on the Bayou

After a less efficient weekend than I had hoped, I finally made some more progress on the Halloween party last night! I don't want to give everything away, but a few sneak peeks:

First up I stopped at the Goodwill again (this time a different one - MN people, the University Avenue Goodwill has a TON of extra Halloween costume stuff out!) since Sundays & Mondays are 50% off days for whatever color price tag is selected that week (yesterday was yellow, in case that matters to you - and today all yellow tag items are just $1.49). I scored some major deals:

- three giant lengths of fabric (not shown - they are going in the wash first), one purple which will be a table cloth, one dark teal and one black which will probably add ambiance to the voodoo shop - $2.99 each

- a blue sparkly wide scarf/table runner, also for the voodoo shop (not shown)- $1.99

- an awesome heavy decanter for just $6.99

- 2 tall silver taper candle holders (one shown) for $6 total (yellow tag!)

- small round vase for $0.24 (yellow tag!)

- a giant 10" glass vase (yellow tag!) $3.49

- little crystal looking candy dish on a pedestal $1.99

- new in package Venetian hand mask $0.99 (not shown)

- two creepy framed art pieces (one shown) $9 total (one was yellow tag!)

Most of this stuff is going into the "voodoo shop" scene...aka, the room formerly (and very temporarily) known as our nursery. It no longer looks at all childlike, unless your child is demon spawn. This is where our Psychic will read palms and tarot cards, and I wanted a creepy eclectic mix of potions, herbs, and artifacts. I hauled in a few shelves from other areas of the house, and after my shopping trip I spent a few hours hauling skulls, Gothic angels, and black crows down from storage. I finally feel like I have a start on at least one of the rooms! I still have a long way to go, and it was definitely a challenge getting up this morning, but I just *might* be able to pull this off :)

Monday, October 04, 2010

She Will Be Loved...and well dressed...

I should really come up with a cute moniker to refer to the impending daughter on this blog since I'm resisting using her real name (though it's ADORABLE and I LOVE IT), but I can't seem to commit to anything. Regardless, she will be the first grandchild on my side, and her soon-to-be Grandma appears to be pretty excited. Among many other things, she couldn't resist these adorable footie sleepers for the little one, and presented them to me this weekend:



Panda Bears:

Awwww, don't you just want to pinch her cheeks already? :)

Friday, October 01, 2010

NOLA Costume Ideas: Magical Madames and Mystical Men

You don't have to go supernatural to control the magic of New Orleans, there are plenty of mystical misters & mavens of the more human variety. Consider these costume ideas:

Fortune Tellers:

Whether it's tarot, palmistry, or looking deep into your crystal ball, a fortune teller is an easy costume to put together often from your own closet. But for the sake of ease, let's start with the costume chain stores' "elite" fortune teller ensemble:

$119.99 @ BuyCostumes

Definitely recognizable, and all in one box, but you don't need to shell out nearly that much dough to get a similar look. Find a peasant skirt (also try searching hippie, broomstick, or gypsy skirt), such as this one for just $0.99 on ebay (+4.75 shipping):

Add a poet shirt from an old pirate costume or second hand store (or the 90's, were you the unfortunate dresser I was at the time...), like this one for $19.99 at Factory Card Outlet/Amazon:

Wrap a scarf around your hair and maybe another around your waist, and accessorize with all of your gold jewelry and hoop earrings, maybe some dark and mysterious eye makeup and long lashes. For added impact, carry a crystal ball or tarot deck.

Guys, maybe you want to go a little Johnny Carson/Carnac, for a more humorous version:

Black pants, black turtleneck, and just the over the top hat makes the whole look.

If you're out of time or not feeling crafty, Here's an off-the-rack ready to go costume with a little twist - it even includes the fortune telling BOOTH! Clearly a take on the Zoltar machine in the movie "Big", though it could work equally for a male or female:

$59.99 @ Amazon

VooDoo Priests & Priestesses:

Here's the mass-produced "voodoo man" costume available this year:

(multiple sources, including $59.99 at Kmart) I think it looks pretty good in the photo, but I can't tell if the skeleton top is part of the jacket (in which case it is included) or not (in which case it isn't.) This version DOES come with the hat/mask though, and some I've seen do not, so read the fine print carefully when you order.

I actually have a men's voodoo jacket (shorter like a blazer, printed with skulls) if anyone wants to borrow it this year - let me know. Hubby went a different direction, and his costume is already ordered.

But don't think the dark arts are only for the men, in fact NOLA has a history of very powerful sorceresses , capture their essence with a costume like Tia Dalma from the Pirates of the Caribbean:

This one leans a little more towards the skanky/naked line of costumes that are so popular these days (I blame you, Leg Avenue) but I kind of love the skull print so I'm showing it anyways. And if you have the curves to pull this off, you should totally wear it (I have curves, but not in any of the right places):

$57.99 at Target The dreads are NOT included.

Really the voodoo priestess is a darker version of the fortune teller above, so you could follow the same general idea with a flowy skirt or dress, but choose a blood red, black, or deep purple color. Accessorize with lots of skulls, talismans, voodoo dolls, and potion jars. The Dollar Tree is a great source for cheap plastic bones, skulls, and skeletons you can transform into necklaces, weave into your hair, and probably shove through your nose if you are dedicated enough.

VooDoo Dolls:

This next category isn't exactly human (or alive), but I couldn't help noticing this fun homemade version of a voodoo doll posted on craftster:

(lots more photos and info about making it on the thread)

and I LOVVVVVVVE this darker version of a voodoo doll and priest, as shown in Threads Magazine:

Hope you have your wheels turning - less than a month until you're strolling down Bourbon Street!