“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”*

This weekend, our family continued a 13-year-old tradition of volunteering at Shakespeare Festival St Louis in Forest Park. It’s a lot of fun, and the plays are amazing. This year, they are performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Merkin admitted that it’s not his favorite of Shakespeare’s plays, but they really did a great job. I laughed so hard, I could scarcely breathe. Here’s a shot of the stage before the performance:

STL Shakespeare Festival 2016

And I found these photos on the internet:

Puck and Oberon

I wondered about all the lamps, but then BratzBasher pointed out that they looked a bit like toadstools. The trees on stage and around the sides of the platforms are all “re-purposed” trees from Forest Park. There are also several doors set into the wall on three different levels, plus a mini stage set a few rows into the audience.

New this year: decorations were extended throughout Shakespeare’s Glen in the form of notices posted on trees, regarding auditions for entertainment at the royal wedding, and several fairy houses hiding under trees. I’m afraid I don’t have any photos of those, but they were adorable. Mustardseed appears to have opened up a little shop with shelves full of tiny jars of mustard.

Of course, we purchased t-shirts to add to our collection. We haven’t been able to get them every year because they often run out of our sizes by the time we go. I’ve actually picked up a shirt at Goodwill from the year they did both Henry IV and Henry V. It’s not large enough to fit any of us, but I have visions of a Shakespeare Festival t-shirt quilt in our future. I’d love to have shirts from all of the plays we’ve seen. I’m still missing Macbeth and Othello. Actually, I’m also missing Romeo and Juliet, but I don’t really like that play anyway. This year’s design looks pretty much like the poster:

Midsummer Night's Dream 2016

There are a lot of great scenes in this production, including a surprise at the end which I will not spoil. I will, however, tell you that the main fight scene between Hermia and Helena is very well choreographed, and the performance of Pyramus and Thisbe absolutely steals the show — I’m telling you IT IS EPIC. “Come, blade…s, my breast…s imbrue” is now one of my favorite lines. 

If you live in the St Louis area, the play is performed nightly (except Tuesdays) through June 26th. You should not miss it.

*This quote is spoken by Puck in Act III. scene II.


I’m going to pretend it’s still May.

That way I can still claim to be posting at least once a month.

I thought I should probably post photos of BratzBasher’s completed kimono (Simplicity pattern 4080). It was an absolute bear, I tell you. Right to the bitter end. When I’d finally sewn the last stitch, I told BB, “I’m never making another one of these unless someone offers me hundreds of dollars and at least a pound of gourmet chocolate. Here is the finished result (please ignore background clutter):

kimono front

 

kimono back

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. BB’s bangs are that long because she’d been growing them out for months in anticipation of attending the first day of AnimeCon as Undertaker from Black Butler. Here’s a photo of that costume. I’m really only responsible for the coat, but I consider it to be a feat of refashioning awesomeness.

Undertaker

When BB told me she wanted to dress up as Undertaker last Halloween, I balked at the task of finding anything remotely resembling that coat with the overlong sleeves. I certainly had no intention of creating one from scratch. Luckily, Goodwill came to the rescue. I don’t have any before pics, but the coat was cobbled together from a blazer, a long skirt, a pair of slacks (Yes, those sleeves are actually pant legs!), a zipper, and some velcro. I am a genius. The sash is a twin size flat sheet — no cutting or sewing necessary, though I did snip off the tag.


This is me.

That’s exactly what I thought when I saw today’s xkcd. I could very well be the “professor” teaching this class — or maybe the respectful student whose words appear at the bottom of panel five.

“If a wild bun is sighted, a nice gesture of respect is to send a ‘BUN ALERT’ message to friends and family, with photographs documenting the bun’s location and rank. If no photographs are possible, emoji may be substituted.”

(For those of you unfamiliar with this comic, the above quote is the bonus bit revealed when you *hover your cursor over the strip. That particular feature isn’t available in the embedded strip, but I cared enough about you to copy it out for your continued amusement. You’re welcome.)

I’ve been a big fan of this strip for years, though I admit I don’t always understand the ones about math and computer programming. The comic’s creator, Randall Munroe, also has a second series called what if? which offers “serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions” such as “Could a bird deliver a standard 20″ New York-style cheese pizza in a box? And if so, what kind of bird would it take?” or “How much force power can Yoda output?” Explanations are accompanied by graphs, mathematical formulae, and amusing illustrations. If you check it out, don’t forget to hover your cursor over the illustrations. Each one has another bonus message/caption. The archive is at http://what-if.xkcd.com/archive/. I’d put a link here, but WordPress won’t let me do more than one link per post, for some reason. Weird.

*For those of you viewing the strip on your phone, you can still access the bonus message by holding your finger down on the image as if to right-click on it. BratzBasher figured that out for me. Aren’t kids smart?


Correct me if I’m wrong, but…

I saw this sticker on a car while out and about today:

save_a_life_spay_neuter_stickerFirst of all, I’d like to point out that I’m all in favor of spaying and neutering your pets to prevent unwanted pet progeny. The bottom line on this sticker is a great message; however (and I admit I’m nit picking here), I’m having a little difficulty with the accuracy of the first three words at the top. Whose life are we saving by spaying or neutering our pets? Theirs? Ours? No. I believe the idea is that the act of spaying or neutering will prevent innocent, unwanted kitties and puppies from being killed — whether in shelters or the harsh life of the streets. How are we preventing this murder? By preventing the kitties and puppies from ever being born. Shouldn’t we be saying, “Prevent a Life So We Don’t Have to Kill It”?

My apologies if you are an animal lover/animal rights activist/anyone who is offended by talk of killing puppies/kitties. I’m just bugged by weird things like inaccurate bumper sticker statements.


Ever been sucked into the YouTube Abyss?

Whenever BratzBasher catches me watching YouTube videos, she says, “Don’t get sucked in!” It’s usually too late. If she comes back and I’m still at it, she tries to physically remove me from temptation. Sometimes it works. Sometimes I say, “You have to see this!” and she gets sucked in, too.

Yesterday, I discovered “Kid Snippets” by Bored Shorts TV. They record kids acting out scenarios (without a script) and then dub the audio onto a second video recording of adults acting out the parts. It’s dang funny. One of my favorites is the Batman v Superman Trailer. I haven’t seen that particular movie, but perhaps this parody trailer will prove more entertaining.

It occurs to me that these videos are most easily appreciated by parents who have heard/seen their own kids playing pretend — whether making up their own stories or already using well established fandoms. The things kids ad lib can be pretty hysterical, such as in the Kid Snippets version of the famous Star Wars Cantina scene when Obi Wan and Luke try to place an order at the bar and are told there’s only “blue milk”.

If you’re a parent, or someone who can appreciate children’s improv, and have some time to spare — or, better yet, have a buddy that will agree to come pull you out of the abyss if they haven’t heard from you after a certain time period has passed — check out Bored Shorts TV on YouTube. It’s pretty awesome.


More Upcycled Jackets — and a dress

As promised, here are three more projects that I completed for the fundraiser’s silent auction. I don’t know what people wound up paying for them because I wasn’t paying attention to the auction sheets at the end, but I doubt any of them went for less than it cost to make. In the end, I had three jackets and a baby dress. (See previous post for jacket #1, which turned out to be my favorite.) As usual, you can click on any image to enlarge it.

Floral Patch Jacket:

Floral Heart jacket

The graphic was originally off-white with a navy blue outline of the flowers, but I colored it in with fabric markers. The colors were pretty saturated at first, but I ran it through the wash to get this cool watercolor effect before the ink fully set. Yeah, I totally did that on purpose. Can’t you tell? Trust me — it looks way better now.

Frozen Jacket:

Frozen jacket

I found the t-shirt I used for the patch at one of our local Goodwill stores. There were about a dozen of the same shirt, and all of them had the same manufacturing defect: patchy lettering. The letters were originally a thick, sparkly turquoise. I embroidered over them with a satin stitch, and they look better than the original would have, I think. I also embroidered a large snowflake at the top of each sleeve. I’d purchased some snowflake iron-on patches from Hobby Lobby, but I decided that they didn’t really work after all. I think this jacket turned out great. There were a couple of moms in a bidding war over it — don’t know how heated. I heard the winner’s little girl wore it almost the entire next day. That made me happy.

Fairy Dress:

Fairy Wings dress

I found this dress at Hobby Lobby. On the front, I embroidered a pixie dust border graphic I found on the internet. On the back, I used the same colors to embroider wings. The outline of the wings and the stars from the pixie dust are in glow-in-the-dark thread. This dress was the most time consuming of all the projects, but it turned out pretty great. I used the top of a onesie to line the dress so the threads wouldn’t irritate the wearer’s skin. Sorry I didn’t get any pics of this one in the dark.

So those are my most recent, completed projects. Now I’m back to working on BratzBasher’s kimono. I’m using Simplicity 4080 for the pattern and some gorgeous brocade in a dragonfly pattern I found at JoAnn a couple of years ago. I’ll post pics when I’m done.


Upcycling, which is way better than chucking(…or “up”chucking)

I’m starting to think it might be a realistic goal to post once a month. We’ll see.

I wanted to show you a bit of what I’ve been up to lately. I have two major projects on my front burner: BratzBasher’s deluxe kimono and a new cover for my dad’s patio swing. Both of these have been temporarily put on the back burner so I can whip up a few things for the silent auction our church ward is having to raise money for youth camps this summer. It’ll be going on in the background during Trivia Night this Friday.

Merkin is in charge of the kitchens Friday night, and he has appointed BB as kitchen manager, or something. He is, of course, “executive chef”. He’s actually got everything organized like a real restaurant so that the kids on his staff can gain real job experience. He’s offering professional referrals to anyone who does a good job. But I’m not involved in the kitchen stuff, so I’m not going to elaborate on any more of that. Instead, I will show you one of the five projects I’m donating to the auction. It was inspired by BratzBasher’s Killer Rabbit jacket, and it’s already my favorite item. I hope other people like it as much as I do — like enough to pay good money for it and help send kids to camp.

I started with a basic denim jacket from Baby Gap (size 2T/3T), a graphic t-shirt, and a really cool iron-on applique from Hobby Lobby. Sorry, no pictures of the process, but you don’t need photos for this project because it’s super simple. Here’s my technique:

  1. Cut the front graphic from the t-shirt (I basically just removed the front of the shirt from the rest, so I still had plenty of margin to work with) and apply fusible interfacing to the back of the entire piece for stability.
  2. Trim the image to the size you want. It’s easiest to work with just a basic rectangle, so I used a rotary cutter and straight edge.
  3. Position patch on back of jacket and pin in place. I like to pin all over, not just around the edges, so that the piece really stays put during the next step, which is…
  4. Sew patch to jacket with a straight stitch all the way around the edge, leaving a margin of about 1/4″. When you get all the way around the four edges, keep going maybe an inch past the first stitch and then backstitch to lock everything in place. You can use matching or contrasting thread. I prefer to use contrasting because I like the “obviously customized by a cool person” look. Be mindful of the tag inside the jacket during this step. You don’t want to wind up sewing your care instructions face down onto the fabric. Depending on where your stitching and tag are, you may need to pin your tag up or down out of the way. In my case, I had to pin it down.
  5. Remove pins (except for the one keeping your tag in the desired position) and sew all the way around the edge of the patch again, using a zig-zag stitch. I set my stitch width to 4 and the length to 1. Again, I didn’t want it to look too professional. Center the zig-zag stitching between the previous straight stitch and the raw edge of the patch. Backstitch at the end, same as in the last step. Because the backstitching is more obvious on the zig-zag, you will probably want to start/finish in a lower corner. (In the photos below, you can kind of see where the stitching is darker/denser in the lower left corner.)
  6. Extras: I added the awesome “ROCK” applique I got from Hobby Lobby. I had originally thought it would go on the front, but the jacket had pockets on the chest with big snap closures. BB suggested I put it on the upper arm instead, and I think that’s much better. It’s an iron-on, but I never trust those — especially ones with odd shapes that could peel up around the edges, so I hand stitched it in place after ironing it on.

Here are photos of the finished product. I had a terrible time getting the flash working right, so the only one that’s true to color is the close-up of the ROCK applique. The lightning bolts on the patch are neon green, and the patch is hot pink with black, purple, pink, and blue print. Click on an image to see it full size.

girl's rocker jacket

left sleeve

Rock!

 

Girls Rock patch

Jacket: $3 (Goodwill); T-shirt: $2 (Goodwill); Applique: $1.99+ $0.16 tax (Hobby Lobby); Black Thread and Fusible Interfacing from my stash: FREE!

Total Cost: $7.15

Having the most rockin’ jacket on the playground: Priceless

It’s a shame I didn’t stick something like a dollar bill next to the jacket for size comparison. It’s even cuter when you realize how small it is. Maybe I’ll have to take another pic and update this post. So what do you think? I don’t think it took me an hour from start to finish. Stitching the applique on was the most time-consuming part, and that was because it was so intricate. I’ll post pics of the other projects when they’re completed. There’s even a little  dress with glow-in-the-dark embroidery. You’ll love it.


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