Category Archives: That's so cool!

Fun with Explosives

I was searching through the greeting cards at Target the other day, looking for a birthday card to send to my step-brother that I have only met once. Yeah. They don’t really make cards for that particular market. Anyway…I found one that I thought looked fun, but it was very poorly made. I said to myself, “I can make this way better for way less than $4.99.” So I did. Here’s the finished product:

manly-birthday-card

I found the explosion graphic by Googling “kaboom” images. The one in the store was attached by a very wimpy coil of wire that kept twisting the wrong way so the word was upside down. Yes, I checked, and all of them were like that. I solved this problem by using a spiral paperclip from my scrapbooking supply heap and stretching it out a bit. Much better. It doesn’t have the sproing-y motion of the longer, thinner wire, but it does pop out immediately when the card is opened. Plus, the word is very much in the upright position. I think I found a legitimate use for Comic Sans, too. The spark on the bomb is a tiny, star-shaped brad. Too bad I’ve already mailed it. I just realized I should’ve added Wily E. Coyote to the front — or maybe an Acme box. Next time.

Advertisements

I think I may have blinked too often.

BratzBasher

is 18 years old today!

18, people!

In a lot of ways, it feels like this has snuck up on me somehow. Like every time I blinked, she grew a couple inches and a couple years. She’s no longer growing taller, but she still hasn’t agreed to stop getting older. Not that it was ever a real possibility, but a mother can dream.

Part of me is enjoying BB at this age. I’ve tried to enjoy all the ages, but some have been easier than others. I think I’ve almost gotten over that gut-wrenching instinct to bundle her up in bubble wrap and insert myself between her and the rest of the world. I think that’s partly due to her no longer being in high school marching band. That was an unnecessarily toxic environment (for which we all blame the high school’s concert band director). Now that she’s taking band at the community college (plus an additional course there each semester), things have improved a great deal. She’s no longer spending so much time in bully territory, and she’s gaining experience in an environment more conducive to learning and being who she wants to be.

BB has been tutoring at the elementary school nearest to her high school. She works with one first grade class three afternoons each week. She says it’s been very good for her depression (as service often is). The kids all call her “Miss BB” (except they use her actual name), and the teacher is very grateful to see her each time she comes. BB normally provides one on one assistance with math, and sometimes she confides to me that it can be frustrating working with kids whose light bulbs have yet to actually turn on. Some days she isn’t sure if some of the bulbs are even screwed in all the way yet, but it’s fun when the switch finally flicks to the “on” position. In the meantime, she’s learning patience and how to explain the same concept several different ways.

BB’s driving now, too. She just recently got her learner’s permit and has logged about three hours of behind-the-wheel practice so far — with her father, of course. I’ve been wisely forbidden to ride with her until she’s reached a certain level of competency. I’m completely on board with that plan.

For her main birthday present, Merkin hauled a giant army surplus ammo can in from the garage. It’s a time capsule we assembled during her first few years of life and saved for today. We filled it with little souvenirs like the hospital ID bands from the day she was born and her “Special Delivery by Dr. Irion” t-shirt (the first item of clothing she ever wore), various magazines and newspapers showing the world as it was in November 1998, a package of twinkies (which was, thankfully, more petrified than moldy), a copy of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (once owned by her great-grandfather on Merkin’s mother’s side) that was over 100 years old when we first added it to the capsule, a notebook containing messages from various friends and relatives — including some of the kids in Merkin’s Sunday school class that year…all sorts of crazy treasures. Her first pair of “Doh-tee shoes”, the sparkling ruby slippers from her Halloween costume that she loved so much (and I’d accidentally made so big) that she wound up wearing it for years and wore through five different pairs of Doh-tee shoes before finally packing it away, was near the top. There was also a McDonald’s Happy Meal bag with various non-perishable items from that particular lunch visit: placemat, napkin, fry bag, chicken nugget box, coffee stirrer with the restaurant’s logo on one end (We don’t drink coffee, but BB liked tiny things)…the toy was still in its original packaging. She wasn’t particularly interested in owning a plastic figure of Nickelodeon’s Doug when it was new, so I kept it in the bag with the paper products and the tiny pepper packets that BB seemed to find oddly fascinating tonight as she pointed out that each one had two, tiny separate compartments of the spice.

She took a couple of items from the time capsule with her to the Young Women’s meeting tonight, including a special edition of Teen People devoted to Prince William. She found it hilarious, and I’m sure all of the other girls will have a good laugh over it, too.

18 years ago, a newborn baby girl napped in the arms of whichever volunteer grandma won the arm wrestling competition in the maternity ward nursery that evening while her two new parents sat exhausted and shell-shocked and wondered what they had gotten themselves into. Now that baby girl is officially an adult with ideas and opinions and a basic plan for her immediate future and no idea what she’ll be doing in the long term. I imagine she might find herself lying in bed tonight and wondering what she’s gotten herself into agreeing to come down to this earth and live a whole life filled with choices and obstacles and all kinds of wonders she can’t even begin to anticipate. Or — and this is much more likely — she’ll eat an extra slice of chocolate pie (her birthday cake of choice this year), take a nice hot shower, and pick out one of her new anime t-shirts from Hot Topic for tomorrow’s wardrobe before wading through her disaster of a bedroom and climbing into bed to sleep the sleep of the unemployed and still dependent. Growing up can wait until at least the end of high school, right?

 


“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.


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.


Merry Christmas!

corn husk nativity

               (This colorful nativity set was crafted from corn husks in Mexico.)