Halloween Costume Idea : Circus Strongman

Making the Strongman

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If you do a search for strongman costumes, you’ll find that there are plenty of ideas out there, so we’re just re-inventing the wheel here. Right now my big decisions are which outfit he should wear. I bought the red and navy blue leggings from Old Navy. Note that you have to look in the girls’ section of their site and store for leggings. The tank top onesies are from American Apparel. I used the sharpies to draw tattoos on the women’s stockings. As yet to be completed – his barbell is going to be made from the two styrofoam balls and a shortened segment of the dowel.

I ended up with the two outfits, because I wasn’t sure what I would find at each store, so I thought it was better to have options and I’ll return whatever doesn’t make the cut. I think we’re leaning towards the black stripes and red pants, what do you think? The next choice is whether we cut the pants or not – I think it’ll look good either way. We’ve had some unseasonably warm 70+ degree days here, so I may wait and see what kind of weather we’re dealing with the day of the parade.

As you can see, Alex wasn’t really up for a fashion shoot when we had him try this on. But it was definitely helpful – the stockings are too wide for his arms. On the one hand, this makes it reasonable to have him wear a shirt under the stockings if it’s cold and/or I could stuff them to give him some muscles. Although, I’m also thinking that it could be worth it to buy a pair of small stockings sized for little girls or babies…

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Altering the Strongman

I made the original set shown above out of a pair of women’s stockings, but they were pretty large, so the tattoos were super wrinkly unless I decided to stuff the arms and give him BIG muscles. I thought about stuffing them, but knew that our finicky guy might refuse that look, so I decided to go back to the store and pick up a pair of girl’s stockings.

After buying them, I immediately realized the second benefit – if I turned the stockings upside down, and cut a hole in the crotch area, I could slide the one piece over Alex’s head rather than cut off the stocking legs to create two sleeves (that I would then have to attach to the onesie in order to keep them up)! win. win. In addition to cutting the hole for his head, I cut off the tighter elastic material around the stocking’s waist area as well as cutting off the toe seams.

I then drew the tattoos (a heart, cloud with lightning, kite, mermaid, whale, sailboat, anchor, spiderweb, rose, stars, and a shell). I only drew the tattoos from his shoulder area down to about his wrist, this still left a bit of stocking length, and rather than cut it off, I folded it under the sleeves to create a double layer for added warmth. They were still a touch wide for his arms, but his cuteness totally distracted anyone from noticing ;-).

And speaking of cuteness, here we are on Friday night, just before going trick-or-treating at the most amazing/bizarre house (we only went to two houses, because that was more than enough for the little guy).

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Funny thing, I had just finished Alex’s barbell (two styrofoam balls and a wooden dowel spray painted black), so this is his first time holding it. As we were about to take the picture, we told him to hold his barbell in the air, and he surprised everyone by doing it!  So that’s us, surprise smiling/laughing as he performs on cue.

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After these photos, he was more than happy to walk down the street holding his barbell and lifting it up whenever prompted. What a little guy! And what a great Halloween.

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Halloween Costume Idea : Disco Ball

Happy October! We first posted this a few years ago, but if you need an idea for a little one, it’s not too early to start. Below is a baby Disco Ball and here is a Circus Strongman.

I feel like it’s been so long since I really dressed up for Halloween. For the past few years, we’ve sat around the house (waiting for those dozen or so trick-or-treaters to show) and would throw on something from my bag of old Halloween costume parts from years past. Witch’s hat, Eskimo, and giant pumpkin for the win! This year Calder said we had to get serious – “don’t get out your witch’s hat” may have been a direct order. Luckily, some serendipitous inspiration struck not once, but twice, last weekend.

Moment 1: It began with me ordering this baby jailbird costume out of desperation. Did you see those tattooed arms?! A few hours after placing the order, I remembered Oh Happy Day’s strongman costume from last year – so awesome, right? And perfect for Little A. If he’s a strongman, then I’m happy to partner up as the bearded lady. And now we have a pair of costumes for our town’s Halloween parade.

Moment 2: Calder was randomly telling me that he wanted to bring 70’s fashion back (no joke). Minutes later we wandered into vintage store and found the most amazing 70’s clothes! Calder walked out with a pair of plaid pants and three rayon shirts with extra large lapels. Me? I’m the proud new owner of a psychedelic jumpsuit. All we needed was a disco ball. Enter Alex. And now we have the family costume theme that we needed for a friend’s party next weekend!

Making the Disco Ball

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Little A is a mover, and we have a strong feeling that he’s not going to put up with having a costume with a lot of frills, bulk, or even a hat. So we have to keep everything simple and make sure that it’s still easy for him to move. What we wanted to do here was to make him a sequined shirt that he could still easily move in. We thought about stuffing it to give him more of a ball shape, but his big belly is round enough.

I’ve been holding onto a sequined dress since high school (thank you Christmas band concert), knowing that it would come in handy eventually. Our plan was to make a simple sequined shirt/vest for Alex to wear over a black shirt and pants. Originally I thought I would use black felt to make the shoulder straps and snaps for closures (shown in the materials photo above), but as it turns out, I didn’t need either!

 

The straps on the top of the dress, are almost perfectly spaced for little A’s shoulders. So, all I had to do was take in the sides slightly, and shorten the dress to the length we wanted. The one challenge to shortening it was that the long zipper. In the photo above on the right, I’m showing you where the zipper ends with my thumb and how short I want it with my finger.

The dress’ sides had been brought in once before (red thread above). I wanted to bring in the seams by another inch or so, and I was going to cut off the excess fabric so that it didn’t add bulk. The one challenge I faced was that the sequins seemed to eat up the thread, and I would end up with gaps without stitching. I was using a cotton thread, maybe there’s a better choice? I handled it by just sewing the same line a few times, and it worked well enough.

The next challenge was the zipper. I’m not a zipper expert, but I do know that these zippers with small-ish plastic teeth are easy to shorten. You begin by marking the point that you want to be the new bottom of the zipper. At that point you’ll sew a bar tack over the zipper’s teeth. To do this, set your machine on a zig-zag stitch that is just wider than the zipper’s teeth with the stitch length as short as it can go (so you’re sewing back and forth over the zipper at the same point). I began by testing the stitch without thread in the needle, manually moving the needle to test stitch widths and making sure that the zipper was perfectly centered so that I wouldn’t hit its teeth with the needle.

After the bar tack is sewn, I cut out the zipper’s extra teeth, keeping my scissors as close to the teeth as possible and leaving the zipper tape intact. To close the hole that was made by the missing zipper, I sewed the excess dress hem (that would have covered the zipper) to the zipper tape on the opposite side, closing that hole. You can see this line of stitching in the photo above on the right. At this point I had a segment of the dress that was the correct width and could be  cut to the right length for the little guy. So, it was time to try it on and get that final length measurement!

He was a willing model first thing in the morning – as long as I didn’t mind him running around with his dog named Cat. He was super excited when he figured out that Cat could ride the bike by sitting in the water bottle holder. With the fitting done, I cut the dress to the length we wanted and our disco ball costume was complete!

 

Here are a few more disco shots, crazy eyes and all!

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Sweater Season

It’s sweater season! … at least for a day. Oh fall, you fickle thing.

I wanted to share the details on two sweaters that I’m excited to start rotating into my wardrobe this season.

Bohus Cowl

First up is the Bohus-inspired cowl neck sweater. It’s from an issue of Vogue Knitting, but lucky for you, the pattern is now available as a free download from their site!

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If you don’t know much about Bohus sweaters, it’s worth going down that rabbit hole and learning about these beautiful designs.

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Recreating Family Portraits Year After Year

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We’ve all seen the amazing examples, family photos taken in the same spot, with the same clothes and poses, a decade spanning the two. We wish we had one of those, but hey, we’re working on it. Year by year we’re taking the time and energy (and appropriate bribing methods) to sit down on the front porch of the beach house and snap a family photo or five.

We don’t bother checking to see who sat where or looked in which direction, however, we’re hoping to amass a large group of photos that depict our growing flock and shifting group of friends who stop by. Sometimes we take a photo during Russian Christmas wearing masks and holding our dogs and other times we scrounge up all the elephant pants we own. Sometimes I accidentally wear a tank top that says fuck on it. It all depends on the month and the amount of caffeine running through our bloodstream.

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Saxis Souvenirs 2017

For the first couple of years that our beach house has been in the family, everyone got homemade t-shirts (first with a sailboat silhouette and then with a blue crab). So as not to overstuff our shirt drawers, we’ve steered away from t-shirts more recently. Last year the souvenirs were canvas bags and water bottles (with clams!).  This year we went with pint glasses for the adults and t-shirts for the kids!

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When thinking about what to put on the souvenirs, Sarah happened to mention that the dragonfly populations were out of control this year. That’s actually a good thing, because the dragonflies love to snack on mosquitos! To add some interest, I played with words and wrote “Where dragons fly.”

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Wildflowers

What are weeds, anyway? I was helping a friend garden when she asked that question. She didn’t want to weed her flower/shrub beds and didn’t really mind the look of the weeds.

Weeds are the opportunists in the plant world. Spreading their seeds far and wide with the hope that something grows. And if there’s a bare patch of dirt getting some water and some sun, it’s likely that something will grow. In terms of ecological succession, most weeds are often considered a “pioneer species”; the first to arrive on a bare patch of dirt.

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Success! Says the weed.

Those opportunists know that they have to act fast. Reach for the sun! Spread out those leaves! Grow just enough roots to get the water you need, because life can be short. Quick, make some seeds and let them fly!

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To the gardener this can be a problem because the weeds are taking the sunlight, space, and water that should be helping your slower-growing showy plants. The ones that are putting much of their energy into beautiful flowers and the roots below ground that will allow them to come back year after year. With enough time, weeds can choke out a previously well-manicured flower bed.

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. -A.A. Milne

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But, I have a secret, in my garden there are always some weeds worth keeping. This bunch of Queen Anne’s Lace didn’t exist when we moved it. Isn’t it beautiful? I saw them growing and turned my back. As other plants started to suffer, I transplanted them to a safer place and left the weeds alone. And now, look, this is the most prolific flowering patch in my garden.

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The weeds know what they’re doing, and if left to stay, they’ll put down some hardy roots and pay you in beautiful, bountiful blooms. Success!

 

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Vacation Family Photo Tips (from an amateur)

If you’re interested in photography, you can find many of our archived posts here. And particularly relevant for today’s post are Sarah’s tips for taking better kid candids.

Hello! We’re back from our vacation and still recovering from all that fun. Today I wanted to pop in and share a few photos and tips from a quick and successful family photo session attempt. Since Sarah is the trained photographer in the family and I only take photos for my own enjoyment, I’m calling myself an amateur. Although, I think a lot of Sarah’s skills have rubbed off on me, so (hopefully) this advice has some merit.

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The Situation

Most of the family was together for the 4th of July and we wanted to take a few group photos. We talked about taking pics in the days leading up to the 4th, but never did it. Then the holiday came and we were adamant that we had to take some before the day was over. We just had to work around naps, trips to the beach, bike rides, and other shenanigans.

P1240316I knew that whenever we finally had a the chance to take photos, we had to keep it simple, relatively fast/efficient, and not make too many kids people cry or stomp off. It happens.

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Chive Blossom Fritters

It’s Pollinator Week, and we’re sharing pics of bees and one of their favorite early summer treats in our yard. Coincidence? Possibly.

Chive fritters, because it’s fair season, and just like pickles, cheese, and ice cream, even flowers can be fried. Classy? No. Maybe. Delicious? Definitely.

Our house came with large patches of chives that produce an overabundance of beautiful edible blossoms every spring. I love the chives, but they also drive me slightly crazy because I feel bad when I’m not making use of the bunch. One of the easiest things to do is sending Alex out to pick chive and dandelion blossoms for our salads. He loves the independence that comes with being sent to do a job like this. I’ve also experimented with chive-infused vinegar. Remember the dressing in our pollinator salad? These fritters are yet another good use for the blossoms. chive_fritters1

But as it often happens happens, when I’m outside picking the blossoms, the bees are buzzing. They’re gently collecting pollen as they move from one flower to the next, and it’s then that I’m reminded that it’s perfectly fine to take a handful or two and just let the rest be. {Look at that bee bum!}

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DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner with Essential Oils

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Hey y’all! It’s been a minute since we shared a DIY, but clear off that kitchen counter because this one is easy and essential {har har}! A while back, Katie walked us through different uses for essential oils.  We’ve used them in sunscreen, body scrubs, cleaners and perfumes and today we’ll mix up a potion of DIY yoga mat cleaner that not only cleanses, but also offers the benefits of aromatherapy. I practice on my deck and this DIY yoga mat cleaner cuts through not only my sweat, but also the grime, dust and dirt that builds up on the underside of my mat.

While most studios will have cleansers for you to use after class, I prefer to clean my mat at home. After cleaning, I like to hang my mat on a rack or over a chair for at least twenty minutes so it can dry properly before rolling it up for storage. If I clean my mat in the studio, I never remember to roll it out at home to make sure it dries fully; that’s my brain on yoga drugs. Besides a nice proper cleansing, this DIY yoga mat cleaner is easily customizable. You get to create your own aroma and mood with each batch. Let me walk you through it :

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Easter Basket Idea : Bugs!

I’m so excited about this post! It may leave some of you squirming in your seats, but this sort of themed gift with unexpected items makes me so happy.

If you’ve been following us for a little while, you know that the boys in my house are really into bugs (and any animal, really).  They like looking at them, holding them, talking, and reading about them. Our boys are 2 and 4, so I geared this basket theme for that age, but I do think this basket could easily be scaled up or down depending upon the books you choose.

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The basket above looks innocent enough, right? Look closer, and you’ll see the edible insects!

When I saw packs edible of insects at our local nature center, I was so excited to pick up a few boxes for the boys! And since Easter’s right around the corner, I realized that they would make perfect crazy treats for their baskets.

I love the idea of introducing them to edible insects at this age because they are adventurous eaters… they already think that they’re eating worms when they eat long pieces of pork in the fried rice from our local restaurant. (We’re either awesome or horrible parents.) Anyway, I’m hoping these edible insects will be well-received and lead to conversations about eating bugs and how people in different parts of the world eat bugs every day. And, it’ll also give me a good excuse to show them some of Sarah’s photos from the Thai markets!

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