Halloween – Wakanda fool am I?

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Superheroes keeping the neighborhood safe from too much chocolate

Not having got the whole of Wakandan universe out of my system, I decided to challenge myself to make the Dora Milaje costume.  Out of t-shirts.  Challenge accepted.

 

It all starts with a drawing and a list 

Every creative undertaking starts with a drawing and a list.  And a timeline.  For a creative person I have some really rigid  tendencies.  After all, I was trying to approximate this:

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Without the Hollywood budget.  After mentally toying around with using pleather or vinyl to create the Dora Milaje harness, I wondered if I could modify a T-shirt with some strategic cutting.  From there I figured another T-shirt would do for the skirt.  After that it was a case of that creative hamster on a wheel that comes up with all the ideas, which resulted in this drawing and list:

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Preliminary list. Shut the Front Door means on top of all this I have to decorate the front door, too, dammit.

Harness and top – try it on again, and again and again . . .

Part of the beauty of this idea was I already had a red long sleeved t-shirt, which had already looked upon a previous Halloween as Wonder Woman.  I purchased a brown T-shirt, a man’s medium.  At the last minute I opted not to go for a snug fitting shirt because what if it was too snug?  It’s easier to take something in.  Using my own fitted T-shirt as a guide, I traced its outline with chalk on the wrong side of the brown shirt.  I sewed along the chalk a tried it on for fit.  Satisfied, I used chalk to outline the areas to cut out, referring to the picture of Okoye.  The one mistake I made was outlining the bust too generously.  It made my upper story look too big.  I guess if it were an actual comic book that would be ok but that’s not really my aesthetic.  I eventually had to add back material to the areas I cut so if I could do this over again I would cut conservatively first.  Also, it was going to be dark so no one would see the rough areas.  Since this was T-shirt material and stretchy, I also added interfacing along the bust line for some structure.  Along the way I kept checking fit and I ultimately had to tack some areas to get the harness to fit snugly in the right places.  The harness was my miners canary – if it didn’t work out I was going to stop right there.  However, I was satisfied with how it turned out.

Adding the skirt

I next bought an XL women’s mustard yellow tank top and cut it right below the arm pit to maximize the amount of material I had to work with.  The hem was rounded and high low, so that was favorable.  I took it in a little bit around the waist as if I was fitting a skirt.  After comparing against the picture, I cut away the front of the skirt at an angle and sewed it to the harness.  Believe it or not due to my screwed up brain I had such a hard time figuring out how to pin which side to which side to sew it correctly.  Easy stuff like this confuses me, or rice krispy treats, or jello squares.  Anyway, after 10 billion tries I figured it out.

Tasseled choker

Although the skirt and harness were the most difficult to construct (or destruct in the case of the harness since it was a lot of cutting), I was really stumped on the choker.  There was no way I was going to attempt to garrote myself with a bunch of actual wire. That would be super uncomfortable.  At the fabric store I found some crushed gold material in the fancy section I never shop in, that looked like wires.  Next I found some gold tassels, which in another time would have looked fantastic on some Victorian drapery.  I cut a piece to fit my neck and backed it with muslin to give it some structure then added Velcro to the ends to secure it.  After that it was a simple matter of attaching the tassels to the gold material, and the choker was done.

Bracelets and epaulets

I ended up using the choker material to make bracelets, too.  I intended to use spray painted vinyl but I cut it wrong, and the choker material was quicker to make and stretchier and therefore easier to put on.  However, the vinyl did work well for epaulets.  I cut four trapezoids (two for each arm) from some leftover vinyl I had, and spray painted them gold.  I opted not to hot glue Velcro to the vinyl but instead stapled it.  Not really up to my standards but I know nothing about sewing vinyl and this was not the time to break my machine.  I added Velcro to the brown T-shirt to line up with the epaulets.  In retrospect I should have cut six epaulets and added elastic to go around my bicep on the last one but . . . Next Black Panther movie I guess.

Hangy thing/tabard

I don’t even know what a tabard is, and I refuse to use a word I don’t know.  But hangy thing down the front with beads on it clearly makes me sound … well not like a 44 year old woman who knows what she’s doing.  Nevertheless, I busted out some fabric paint to start making the beaded designs.  Before I added the paint, I did add interfacing to give it some structure and make it hang appropriately, otherwise no one would know it was a hangy thing.  I dotted paint in chevron designs and cut a belt buckle out of gold card stock which ultimately did not make it on the costume.  Uhh, someone, I’m not gonna say who, forgot.  Also, FYI tabard is not what I thought it was but I’m just going to leave it there.

Spear, pants, boots, make up and hair – should I shave my skull?

If you’ve read my Black Panther post, you know making a spear ain’t no thang.  A cardboard blade affixed to a slit in a cardboard tube and spray painted silver.  I found some leggings that had some detail that ultimately could not be seen, but made me feel authentic.  I added my rain boots and all costume articles were ready.

Now what to do with the face?  The Dora Milaje are pretty well made up, so I couldn’t go in all naked face, even if it was dark outside.  I did way more eye make up than usual/ever, with some vibranium purple eyeliner and shadow.  I followed that up with a dark lip color to accentuate all of Africa that is housed above my chin and below my nose.

And the hair.  The one time in my life when naturally curly, frizzy, African American hair was a plus.  Just a tad too short to really give that African emphasis.  First I went the Nakia in Korea route and I started looking like Mr. Glass in Unbreakable.  Uh, no.  Shave my head like a real Dora Milaje?  Noooo, I don’t think so.  Bantu knots?  “Knot” enough hair.  Afraux-hawk?  Nope.  I finally did some Afro-punk meets 1940s (just thought that up now, but if I could dress myself the rest of my life according to that mantra I totally freaking would) with three roll ups, like curling the hair minus the rollers, across my crown, and two rows of twist corn rows on the sides.

How’d it go?

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Post trick or treat glory, ready to use my spear on some Almond Joy’s.

The best part was walking around the neighborhood trick or treating like a badass and waiting at the end of each walkway like a bodyguard while the boys hit up the neighbors for candy.  Granted, it didn’t seem like many people knew what I was but I was channeling the two women at the beginning of the film who stroll in and eyeball everyone like don’t F with me.  I forgot to mention as an introvert I NEVER look strangers in the eye, I am strictly “hey, look at that interesting object on the ground.”  So that was a lot of fun.  The best was these two older boys with wolf masks passed that were kind of being obnoxious, and I stared them down until they said “Wakanda Forever” and part of me was like yeah keep walking wolves, and another part was all giddy I finally got some recognition.
So long answer to short question, you can make a Dora Milaje costume out of two t-shirts.  Challenge accepted.  And won.

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The Wakanda Skirt

As I mentioned on my Black Panther party post (God help me every time I say “Black Panther party” I think of Forrest Gump apologizing for having a fight “at your Black Pantha party”), I was inspired to make an African print skirt to wear.  I typically steer away from sewing clothing unless it’s converting t-shirts into skirts.  I’ve made a few of those and got pretty comfortable with that concept so I figured I could maybe make this happen.

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Foolish Forever! Black Panther Birthday

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It’s been so long since I last blogged I have a new job and new co-workers.  And that co-worker keeps asking me to blog.  So this one’s for you Irene!

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Irene is not smaller than me, I just have a bigger skull apparently. Just a little light protest against sexual assault on our break.

So way back in February I and 50 other black people I did not know lived in my neighborhood sat down in the theater to watch Black Panther.  I think it was the movie I have waited my whole black life for.  Where TF was this movie when I was 12???  So I was delighted when Geoffrey asked for a Black Panther birthday.  I brought the full power of my vibranium cranium to the table.

 

The Invite

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Silver acrylic paint on black velvet – noice!

 

Yes, I could have done a easy silver stencil on black card stock and been done a lot quicker.  But this was for Wakanda.  As Okoye would say, “Black card stock.  So primitive.”  I decided to overcomplicate it and stencil black velvet with the Black Panther mask and then glue it to card stock.   On the reverse side I took nerdy pleasure in wittily calling Geoffrey “G’Challa”.  I had the luck to listen to an NPR piece about the costume design for the movie so one thing I was looking to do was try to incorporate the same geometric shapes.  Very happy with how the invite turned out.

 

Birthday Banner and Tablescape

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I decided to use the colors of the ancestral plain at dusk for the sign, so purple, blue, violet, and black paint were used.  For the “10” in the sign I drew a shortened vibranium spear and a shield.  The shield ended up being a tad overworked for my taste but at a certain point I was trying to cover up mistakes so I finally had to stop adding stuff to it.  Overall I still liked it so much I had a hard time throwing it away afterwards.  Like for three weeks I’d just pass by it in the hall, unable to return it to paper’s ancestral plain, er recycle bin.

 

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The tablescape may have been the thing I was most excited about.  I had a really fantastic idea for the purple flower which ultimately did not work out but it still came out awesome.  I digress.  I started with about 4 yards of muslin, because it’s cheap.  I wanted to cover the hideous table the party venue provided and I didn’t think a Party City table cloth would be long enough.  Eh, I just wanted to make my own, who are we kidding.  I used the invite stencil to spray paint a pattern along the edge, then decided to add some color using geometric sponge stamps.  Unfortunately two things happened.  One I got paint on the driveway which has not faded (sorry HOA).  Second, the triangles I put around the mask looked like clown hair, like T’Challa and Pennywise switched DNA.  So I had to go back and add more paint/stencils and finally stop, much like the banner.

 

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Next were the runners.  They were supposed to be tapestries but I found out I couldn’t tape anything to the walls of the venue.  In any case, I took some black burlap and taped off geometric shapes with masking tape and spray painted them silver.  Done.  Good enough for T’Challa’s throne room at least.

My new coworkers know me so well that when Pepsi saw some large foam circles by the recycle bin, well . . . He immediate thought of me and said, I think you can do something with these.  I sat on them for months and then it was time to make them into a shield.  Since the masking tape stencil worked so well on the runners, I replicated it here after gluing brown craft paper to the foam so I could spray paint.  Since this was a Dora Milaje shield that doesn’t exist in the movie, I felt free to paint it red.  I made two spears from tightly rolled craft paper and added a cardboard blade to a slit at the top of the tube, and then spray painted of course.  My neighbors are so used to the sight, smell and sound of me spray painting.  I added an image I saw on Pinterest with the Wakanda salute to the shield and that was good to go.

 

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You might be thinking this is more than enough by now.  Nah-uh.  Nope.  I wanted glowing purple flowers in a mortar and pestle.  Who doesn’t?  My idea was to dip a wax calla lily in purple glow stick juice but I could only find silk flowers.  I tried to waterproof them with paint and modge podge but it did not work too well.  Additionally, dipping them in glow juice did not work.  I refused to let this idea go.  I had gone to the thrift store to find wooden bowls and scored big time.  After toying with purple aquarium sand, purple glass stones and ultimately dismissing them as too expensive, I bought some artificial ivy type leaves and filled the bowls with those.  I filled the bottom of the bowls with a crap ton of purple glow sticks and an LED tea light for good measure, as well as inserting a glow stick inside the flower for some extra oomph.  A final touch were some large banana-type leaves under each bowl.  I was really, really pleased with how this turned out.

 

Goody bags

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Ok this time I did go with the simple stencil on a black bag.  I was either out of ideas or time or both.  I wanted to make claw necklaces, but that was more complicated than I had time for.  I did make some kimoyo beads by you guessed it, spray painting!  some wooden beads and then adding a blue communication dot.  I wanted to put all the little designs on them but it did not show up well and it was really hard on a curved surface.   I threaded elastic string through them and tied it off.  Kids loved them.  Next were some purple vibranium coins, aka chocolate.  I wanted to put some grape juice so the kids could drink the powers of the Black Panther but ultimately opted not to.  I didn’t know what else to put in when I came up with Wakanda salutes, which are pretzel twists that I thought looked like the crossed arm salute.  I thought that was kind of inspired.  Desperate, whatever.

 

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Well, that was about it for the party.  The venue took care of everything else.  There was no Black Panther design at the bakery, so I did add some elements (shhh – I took a party napkin and glued a “10” cutout to cardboard and toothpicks), but nothing fancy.  All in all it was a successful party, and I swaggered around like Okoye and Nakia wrapped up in one.  Actually this movie inspired me so much to get in touch with my African roots I made what I call an African skirt to wear to the party and ultimately a Halloween costume.  But that’s another post.  Wakanda Forever!

A Foolish Inspiration; or a message/inspiration board

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So . . . this is WordPress?  I say that because I am pretty sure I last posted something in August.  Maybe.  Thank goodness I remembered my password.  To be honest, there hasn’t been a lot of time for creativity lately, which is probably why I have been so cranky.  Well that’s my excuse.  Clearly somewhere between August and November, I realized I had gift cards from my birthday nearly a year ago that I should probably use, one of which was for the fabric store.  I knew I should use the card for myself — normally at the fabric store I am buying fabric to make something for someone else.  So this was a real exercise in selfishness.  Me.  Me me me me all me.  I discarded several notions and came up with creating myself a message board, if nothing else to take up space on the blank wall above my sewing table, where I could pin lists, timelines,  scraps, ideas etc.  At first it was going to be just fabric on cork board, bam I’m done.  But it is never that simple.  I’m a complicated simpleton.

I wanted something usable, practical, and easy to hang.  Molly screws and drills intimidate me, and when I start a project I just want to get it done.  So I elected to use foam-backed poster board and hang it up with ribbon (which didn’t happen.  Not to give away the surprise ending or anything).

Now what to cover the poster board with?  What was my theme?  At first I was going to buy some of that beautiful brocade fabric I always drool over, but then I realized I do not want to be damaging this material poking holes in it with push pins.  So the French message board with padding and fabric and ribbon went out the window.  I considered other themes, such as a Turkish message board with crisp white linen, tassels and a jaunty fez, but I managed to be talked off the ledge on that one.  So I opted for rustic burlap.  Now here’s where I got stupid.  I could have just bought printed burlap and been done with it.  But I wanted to do something way more personalized (read: time-involved).  So I decided to paint my Crafting Fool on it instead.

With this idea in mind, I gathered my supplies:

  • Two 24 by 36 foam poster boards
  • 2 yards of burlap
  • hot glue gun
  • stapler
  • black glossy acrylic paint
  • fabric medium
  • decorative ribbon

I attached the two boards together on the short side by hot gluing a piece of sturdy cardboard where the two pieces met.  I attempted to iron the more obvious wrinkles out of the burlap, and then laid it down with the poster board on top and trimmed it with a good 2-3 inches clearance on all sides.  Starting from the middle and pulling the burlap as tight as possible,  I stapled the top and bottom center, and then the center of the sides, until all the edges were stapled.

 

I tested out the acrylic paint by itself and with the fabric medium on a scrap of burlap, and both seemed fine. I opted to go with the medium because I was afraid the paint alone would crack over time.  I traced the outline of a jester (a Fool, if you will) with a Sharpie, followed by a paint palette, scissors, and a sewing machine.

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These I filled in with black paint, and accented the palette and scissor handles with color.  I considered adding some color to the Fool, but I think I just like the silhouette.

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Now here is where I got a little Valerie Clark creative.  I took some very thin ribbon and hot glued it in a vine-like fashion away from the needle on the sewing machine as if the thread was unspooling from the machine.  Normally you would not want this to happen with your machine because it means either it is: 1) in desperate need of maintenance, 2) hopped up on meth in its downtime, 3) a Bizarro machine in which everything works backwards, or 4) in need of an exorcist because it is spewing thread.  However, I like to think that the wayward ribbon represents the flow of ideas that usually develop when one is being creative.   That last bit is why those who know my thoughts and writing best say I could go either way in the advertising world, depending on if I’m in a pessimistic or optimistic mood.  When you could describe your bathroom wall color as either chocolate pudding or dookie colored . . . well, we all have choices.

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Back to practicalities, the ribbon also took up some dead space as well as added some color.  In keeping with this idea of colorful dead space, I added some two inch wide ribbon to the opposite corner to either tuck larger pieces of fabric, or photographs, or whatever the hell else it is you would do, and because I had extra ribbon, I added some purely decorative red bows from the thin ribbon I used to represent thread.

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Since hot gluing the board to the wall is not an option (but an interesting one), I bought some old-fashioned antique-finish binder clips, and clipped them to the top of the board.  From there it was a simple question of marking with a pencil on the wall where I wanted to put the nails.  From there it was a not so simple question of getting the holes level without the use of a level, because who wants to walk down three flights of stairs to rummage in the cold garage for a level designed for exactly this purpose when you could hammer ten holes in the wall trying to get it straight?

In any case, I am now the proud owner and creator of a personalized Crafting Fool message board.  My next step is to make a companion, Frenched-up board for the opposite wall with white burlap and the two inch wide ribbon.  But for now, message board impossible is complete – cue the Lalo Schifrin Mission Impossible music.  Excuse me while I get my bongo drums.

 

A Minimalist Harry Potter Birthday; or a fool’s Felix Felicis

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Dearest WordPress — so surprised that I even remember my password, it has been so long.  Almost 3 months.  Coincidentally, the length of time I have been living in this funky 1000 sq. foot apartment with 3 boys just waiting to get the hell out of here and live in a bigger place.  So on the eve of our move across town, it is the perfect time to post a blog and pretend like i don’t have to pack all this crap up again.  This should be called the Crafting Procrastinator, not the Crafting Fool.  Anyway, since we were in transition this summer, I called a temporary halt to all my normal birthday craftiness.  However, Big Bro wanted a Harry Potter birthday — I mean if you want a theme that stimulates the imagination, HP is it. As much as I wanted to go full blown, I knew I had to take it down a notch, so I distilled it to its minimalist essentials, goody bags for classmates and a cake for Big Bro for his family birthday party.

Hedwig Goody Bags/Paper bag craft

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The goody bags were a lot of fun, but in retrospect I might have rethought doing this for a class of 25.  I was up till two in the morning making them.  Anyway I used:

  1. white paper craft bag
  2. 16 1.5 inch white paper circles
  3. 2 1.5 inch black paper circles
  4. 2 2.5 inch orange paper circles

They are pretty simple to make.  I folded the top corners of the paper bag to make a triangle shape, and folded the point down to what I thought was a pleasing, owlish, if you will, level on the front of the paper bag to make the beak.  Starting from the bottom of the front of the bag, I glued four circles across the front of the bag to mimic feathers, and repeated this again with an overlapping layer of 4 circles until I reached what I thought was a good place to stop under the beak, which was four rows of feathers.  If you calculate this in terms of 16 feathers per goody bag and you made 25 of them . . . well I know 16 times 20 is 320, so this crazy lady punched out over 320 circles for these goody bags.  That is where I started to question my sanity and berate myself.  I might as well have gone out and hand plucked an owl for the individual feathers by that point.  After the feathers were completed, I glued the large orange circles under the beak, and then placed the black circles inside to make a suitably fierce owl scowl.  I know Hedwig has yellow eyes.  And now you know Melody had only orange paper handy.  So guess what?  Hedwig got orange eyes.  I folded the beak down for good and used a Sharpie to color in the triangle for the tip of her beak.  It would have been great if I had enough of those round double-sided velcro pieces to keep the beak down, but as it was I used some double sided tape instead.  Goody bag done.

Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans

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  1. Sheet of address labels
  2. Confectioners-looking scrapbook paper cut into 2 inch strips.
  3. Snack size ziploc bags.
  4. 2-3 bags of jelly beans.

Super duper easy.  Using Word I printed “Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans” on the address labels.  I cut the scrapbook paper in strips, and then measured the width of the snack bags to make a piece big enough to fold over the top of the ziploc bag.  I then divided up the jelly beans amongst the bags, selflessly sampling each color to ensure they deserved the Bertie Bott name, and then folded each scrapbook strip over the opening and stapled it.  Last touch was affixing the address labels to the scrapbook strip.  Every Flavor beans, done.

Pencil Wands

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Supplies:

  1. pencils
  2. brown and gold paint
  3. brown yarn
  4. hot glue

Ah, the pencil wand.  It developed out of knowing a wand needed to be included but not wanting a bunch of 7 year olds running around with pointy painted chopsticks inflicting damage on each other quicker than you can say “Stupefy!”  I thought a pencil might be economical and hey at least one end is cushioned with an eraser.  To mimic the wand handle, I wrapped the eraser end of the pencil with brown yarn about two inches up the pencil.  At the same time I had the glue gun warming and affixed the end of the yarn with a dab of glue.  That I managed to do this without burning myself is anyone’s guess — that’s usually how my adventures with a glue gun turn out.  I have no fingerprints left because of this.  On my off days I’m a cat burglar.  No trace. Anyways, after I affixed the end of the yarn, I rotated the wand (Pand?  Wencil? It was a weird hybrid at this point, neither wand nor pencil, and just looking for a place to belong.) while dribbling hot glue on it to make it look more like knotty wood, and less like a No. 2 Ticonderoga unsharpened.   I broke out the brown paint and started painting.  This was definitely a step where spray paint and a space to spray would have been great, but that was not going to happen.  After painting them brown, I took some gold metallic paint and applied some antique-y looking detail to the hot glue part.  Following the advice from a blog that now I can’t find (sorry blogger, not trying to steal your thunder), I poked holes in a drumstick box that we selflessly emptied of drumsticks (also part of the directions from that blog) to place the wands in while they dried.  Wands, done.

Scroll of Spells

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Supplies:

  1. Paper
  2. Tea
  3. Twine

Would that I were not a Muggle so I could conjure up parchment, or the Galleons to purchase said paper from Office Depot, or a Memory Charm so that I could forget how cheap I can be sometimes.  Anyway, I found a list of spells with a description of what they did from the world of Hogwarts, and printed this out on regular paper.  It looked so dull.  So I decided to try a little experiment.  I made a bowl of strong tea with three tea bags (I probably could have used more for a more intense color) and dipped a foam brush into the tea and swiped it over the list of spells to try to make the paper look a little more parchment-y.

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To speed the drying process, I turned on the oven to its lowest setting about 200, 250, got it warmed up, and then turned it off.  I placed the paper in there and this actually had the unintended benefit of kind of wrinkling up the paper so it looked a little aged and crinkly like parchment.

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I would have loved to distress the edges a little bit, but figured I was pushing my luck. I guess since I was using the oven I could have tried a controlled burn, but I think we all know that would not be the brightest idea.  Try to explain that to the hot firefighters.  I rolled up the list and tied it with twine.  Scroll of Spells, done.

Easiest, Felix Felicis, You-Decorate-It Harry Potter Cake

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Supplies:

  1. A store bought cake
  2. Pocky Sticks
  3. Groucho Marx glasses

It might be good to explain at this point, for those of you who may have forgotten, that Felix Felicis is also called Liquid Luck — one swig and you’ll have good luck.  Now I don’t know about all that, but I do know this part turned to pretty well given my last experience with decorating a store-bought cake with a Batman logo in crushed Oreos. Never again.  When I ordered this cake, I asked if they had a Harry Potter design, which they did not.   Plan B.  Here comes the easy part.  You’re gonna beat me up.  I asked them to decorate the cake in red and yellow for Gryffindor, and leave the bottom half of the cake blank for me to decorate.  I went to the party store and found a pair of 40 cent Groucho Marx glasses.  I removed the nose, eyebrows and ear pieces with scissors.  Next I went to the grocery store hoping they had Pocky sticks, which are kind of like a very thin long pretzel-type . . . thing covered in chocolate.  I placed the Pocky stick, which was now a wand, on the cake at an angle, and used some chocolate sprinkles to simulate magic and wonder sprouting from the heart of the Elder Wand.  On the other side, I placed the glasses.  Bam.  Harry Potter Cake — done, y’all.  Was that so hard to do, Safeway?  But then again, that would have denied me the right to uncomfortably but very necessarily crow about decorating a cake and having it turn to right.

I would love to do another Harry Potter party on a larger scale because I saw some fantastic creative ideas on Pinterest, so I guess I’ll have to depend on the boys to have that party, or maybe throw one for myself when I turn 50 — because the “F” in “fifty” means you can do whatever the f you want.  Even act like an f-ing fool.

Portable Rocket Ship Height Chart; or, when crafting calls the fool must answer.

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“Portable” might be stretching it, but when your choice is to take a board or take a wall with your childrens’ height on it, guess which one you can put in the back of a U-haul? We’re packing up our whole house, which is a perfect time to make a height chart, right?  We had been measuring the boys’ heights on the wall, and we wanted to transfer the record so we could take it with us. In fairness, I bought the supplies well before we decided to move, and just now decided to put on the finishing – oh let’s be honest – starting touches.  For the design I tried to think of . . . well, tall things.  Not trees, not giraffes, too cliche, something like reaching for the stars. . . . Rocket ship!  3, 2, 1 and we have crafting lift-off!

Supplies:

6 foot board (1×6 inches)

Acrylic Paint

  • blue for night sky
  • white for ship
  • red or orange for fins
  • gray for windows, bolts
  • yellow for accents

You could paint the background first, or paint the ship first.  I chose the former and as with all first decisions, wish I had done it the other way to save blue paint.  Anyway, I created a ship template on craft paper nearly the length of the board, traced the outline on the board and painted it white.   I then let the board season on the floor of our living room for approximately 2 months.  This was critical.  I have to say that because otherwise it means I procrastinated for no good reason and for two months four people who know my housekeeping style (step over a rubber band on the floor for weeks instead of just picking it up) and random guests who were too well mannered to comment passed by a blue board in the living room.

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Once the procrastinating seasoning was over, I picked today of all days to squeeze past all the crap in my garage to get the board, and cut out parallelograms on craft paper to trace the tail fins.  I know it looked like I just popped up from a post-Target nap and wandered in a silent trance like zombie to the garage to pull out a procrastinated board, but hey.  That’s me.

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Anyway I traced the fins onto the ship and painted them red.  At some point in the process I was lured outside by the boys and finished the painting outside.  I felt like frickin’ Monet, the birds were chirping, the leaves whispered, and of course after the boys went back inside I heard what I tell myself was a squirrel making some menacing chittering noises, so I started to paint faster, images of a sitcom-like situation with the boys watching tv while over their shoulders through the sliding glass door you see me struggling wildly and silently with a aggressive squirrel, covered in paint and squirrel scratches.  Sometimes I think I watch too much TV.  I used a tin can to trace round windows/portholes, and painted them gray.  I am still toying with the idea of decoupaging the boys’ pictures in there, but we’ll see.

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I used a balding pencil (i.e. very little eraser left) to dip in black paint, deciding the gray might not show up too well, and stamp rivets up the middle of the ship.

I then free-handed a crescent moon that started out looking like a gravity-challenged banana in the corner.  In the past, when I painted stars I painted small asterisks and didn’t really like the effect.  The background looked a little plain though without stars, so this time I dipped the handle-end of my paint brush in yellow paint and dotted the background, clustering the stars more closely towards the top and spacing them out further down.  It’s ridiculous to be that pleased about what amounts to polka dots on a 6 foot board when I painted so many other larger things, but the effect was just right.

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I decided the nose of the ship needed some definition, so I Rudolphed it up with some red paint.  I then added in the heights of the boys and then measured them today.  Height chart done.

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I may go back and add in their names somehow as a part of the ship design, or add a name for the ship on the nose, or the aforementioned decoupaged pictures.  For now the height record is preserved — as a historian I know there’s no going back (“scrooch down like it’s October 2013, baby, so I can falsify your height progress”) to capture the moment, so I’m happy we can take this with us when we move.

(Easter) Bunny Money; or fooling my kids into thinking it’s as good as candy

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Hidee ho, there neighbors.  I sit here watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and naturally the next thing that comes to mind is Easter.  Doesn’t everybody combine apes and bunnies in their minds?  OK, maybe not.  However, Easter has been on my mind since Big Bro dug out the Bunny Money I made for him two Easters ago.

What is Bunny Money, you might ask?  It is many things:

  • It is the result of sitting too long at your desk trying to think of alternatives to candy to fill your Easter eggs.
  • It is a good alternative if you know your child will color eggs but not eat them and you want to limit the amount of egg salad you’ll be eating for the next week.
  • It is also a clever play in the term “funny money.”
  • It cannot be used in a majority of fine establishments.  Or Wal-Mart.
  • OK they’re coupons, like the coupons you made for your mom on Mother’s Day:  “Breakfast in bed” “Wash your car”.  But the kids don’t know it.  And besides, it’s the kind of currency they understand.

I started thinking of all the things Big Bro likes to do:  pancakes for dinner, one on one time with Mom or Dad (mostly Dad.  Mom is that lady that nags all the time), Disneyland . . . well that one wasn’t going to happen, but I came up with the following list of things I could live with:

  1. Play ball with Daddy
  2. Paint with Mommy
  3. Pancakes for Dinner
  4. Ice cream cone
  5. Stay Up Extra 30 minutes (Friday or Saturday)
  6. Build a Fort

I then scanned a dollar bill, front and back, and went to work with the clip art in Power Point, trying to find clip art to put in the corners that tied in with the treat on the bill.  I hope my scanning did this justice.  I would have scanned them separately but this scanner was trippin‘, y’all, and it’s 11:30 p.m.  One scan to rule them all seemed adequate.  Anyhoo I’m just prolonging this:

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On the flip side, I included the governing body issuing the currency (United Members of Team [Surname]), as well as Easter related clip art — bunnies, white lilies, Easter eggs, and somehow I managed to find a coin or seal with a bunny.  It’s amazing what random words you type into Google and what you get.

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I rolled them up and put them inside those hinged plastic eggs that somehow linger around the house underfoot for MONTHS.  Now I have to confess, if Geoffrey could have read better two years ago, they might have been a bigger hit.  Now that he is a little older and reading more, I may break them out again or maybe add other things like “movie night” or “go to playground” or “go to zoo” (to see the chimpanzees?  See I told you Planets of the Apes was tied to bunnies).  However, if you are looking for an alternative to candy, this might be your golden egg.

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