Monday, October 29, 2012

Weeping Angel Wings

In a bit of a panic last month, I told my kids that they needed to come up with their own costumes because I didn't think I'd have the time or energy to make something for them.

So of course I've spent the past 2 days creating these Weeping Angel wings:

My oldest daughter wanted to be a Weeping Angel.  She found the perfect grey fabric at the thrift store and agreed to do much of the work on the costume herself.  So I agreed.  

In fairness, she has done a lot of the work.  She sewed the seam in the dress herself (by hand).  She helped paint the shadows and highlights on the dress and she helped me out a little bit with the wings (I had to do most of the wings myself just because I'm like that). 

She actually helped a lot with the wing prep, but I had to scrap our original plan at the last minute.  She helped me cut out and paint foam "feathers" to look like stone, but when applied, they made the wings too heavy.  So I had to do much of this at the last minute.  

I'm going to do her makeup.  She can't wait for Halloween.  Honestly, I can't either.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Halloween is creeping up on us.  It's a favorite holiday here.  I told my kids I just wasn't feeling up to making costumes.  So, of course, now I'm making 2 different costumes which include the most intricate work I've ever done (I can hand stitch [poorly], but I can't use a sewing machine and I've never actually made clothing from scratch).

This ought to be fun where "Fun" means horrifying, anxious, frustrating, and awesome in the end.

Unfortunately, the whole goat rodeo won't coordinate this year (it's so much fun when they do).  My oldest and youngest will, though.  But shhhhhh, no one can know what they're going to be just yet.  Whenever I finally win this battle with mount fabric (aka finally finish these blasted costumes), I'll post pictures.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Conversations at Chez Goat Rodeo

These conversations both happened yesterday.

6-year-old son playing Mad Libs: It asks for a thing.  Everything in the world is a thing.  Even the world is a thing.

Me: The world is a vampire

Later in the day, my son was playing a game with my youngest daughter (age 3).  She won a surprising number of games in a row.  He made a comment in an astonished tone.

Son: You won AGAIN.

Daughter: Sorry. I just can't stop myself. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

If you give a Whovian some sneakers...

For a long time, it seemed as though this blog would become a Harry Potter-themed craft blog.  It did not.

Now, I'm going to risk it becoming a Doctor Who themed craft blog.  Woo hoo!  Come along for the ride.

 I made TARDIS sneakers/trainers for my kids.  I pinned these a few months back.  I loved them and thought I could use them as inspiration.

A few months ago, I found 3 or 4 pairs of Converse sneakers at a children's consignment store for a quarter each.  They included these perfect blue ones.  There was a spot of purple paint in the upper left corner, but I just painted over it with blue paint.

 Using those pinned sneakers as inspiration, I did all the painting freehand (which I think it pretty obvious).  I'm just not much of a planner.  I'd rather get straight to work.  So the outsides of the sneakers have the TARDIS doors painted. I printed the telephone signs on fabric and sewed them on by hand (I used iron-on fabric, but it's too old and doesn't stay put on its own).  I thought the strips on the back worked perfectly for the "Police Pubic Call Box" sign, so I mimicked that.  I'm horrible at copying fonts, but I did my best.  I asked the kids what they wanted written on the white toe portion and they all agreed on "Bad Wolf."

I'd like to replace the white laces with blue ones, but the ones we had on hand were too short.  So I'll need to find longer ones.  Still, I'm very happy with how these turned out.  My kids love 'em.  They fit my oldest, so they can be handed down to all the others (assuming they can keep them in one piece).

These will go nicely with the whole collection of Doctor Who-themed t-shirts I've made them, but that's another post for another day.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How have I survived without this?

We were lucky enough to find a house with a pool when we moved.  I'm a fish (both in that I love the water and I'm a Pisces).  My children are also fish (they all love the water, but only the youngest is a fellow Pisces).  The twins learned to swim years ago in day camp, so they're fine in the pool.  My son is timid and very careful, so he spends most of his time either outside the pool skimming it or in a tube in the pool.  My youngest, however, has no fear and loves the water.  Last year, that meant I had almost no time to myself because all my time in the water was spend holding desperately on to her in an attempt to keep her from diving in face-first.

A friend once posted to Facebook, pictures of her two children wearing these floatation devices I'd seen at the store, but just brushed off as any other device.  In fact, they were a little more expensive than most floaty bathing suit, so I never even considered them.  Then I saw her picture with a comment about how they were the "The best invention EVER."

So, this year, I sucked it up and bought a Stearns 3D Puddle Jumper and I agree with her completely.

We've used floatation bathing suits and they're just okay. They provide a wee bit of extra safety, but they were never great.  They still require watching like a hawk because they have a tendency to push your child's face in the water.

This, however, actually hold my daughter up and keep her face and shoulders up straight.  My 3-year-old is learning to kick and she feels completely independent in the water.  I don't have to hold her the entire time, so we can all have fun swimming together.  I could kiss whoever invented this thing.

I like that it's not attached to a bathing suit.  Have you ever tried to wash one of those floatation suits with the built-in styrofoam?  It's a pest.  It floats in the washing machine, so it doesn't come completely clean plus the machine can damage it.  Plus we swim A LOT and needing one specific suit is a problem.  We have a number that we use and then toss in the machine.  So being able to just put this on my daughter with whatever suit she happens to be wearing helps a lot.

This thing is awesome.  I can't put into words how much it saved my summer.  I've been able to actually swim in our pool rather than just drag my daughter around the shallow end.  I do wish they were cuter (we have that frog one and it's okay, but nowhere near adorable) and I sometimes worry about catching my fingers in the clip in the back, but those are the only drawbacks (and so far so good).  It's a little pricey too ($19.96 at Walmart and $18.99 at Target) which is the biggest con for me, but I found out in the end that it's so very worth it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Give me a head with hair...

There are a number of things you don't typically think much about until you have kids. Other people's haircuts fall into that category for me.
My twins didn't have much hair as babies. They were constantly referred to as, "Boys," because they had barely any hair. So when they got older and suddenly had some hair, I was thrilled. By the time she was 6, the younger of the pair (who was bald until she was a toddler) had a head full of gorgeous blonde curls.

 Now, my theory on most things parenting is, "It's your body. It's your decision." It was awfully difficult to hold to that, though, when my middle daughter came to me asking for a haircut when she was 7. I loved her hair. We had waited so very long for it to grow out. I desperately wanted to make her leave it alone. Yet, I had to remind myself that it was her body and her decision. So she got a few inches cut off. A month later, she asked for more. So she got it chopped up to her ears. She loved it. I preferred it longer, but I kept my thoughts to myself and reminded myself that it was her body and her decision.


A few months back, my son (who has always had a head full of gorgeous curls that makes people stop and comment on them) asked for his hair to be cut "Like daddy," (aka super short). I hemmed and hawed, but eventually agreed to it. I couldn't stand it, but he loved it. Again, his body, his decision.

This past week, both my big girls asked for haircuts and my son asked for a mohawk.

My girls had quite a bit of hair chopped off. I actually love their haircuts, but they look so mature. My son's mohawk suits him well. I still miss his curls, but it looks cute on him.

My shaggy-haired son

Mohawk boy

I want them to be able to express themselves. I don't want to be the over-bearing parent who forces her ideas on her kids. Sometimes, it can be tricky to find a balance between the two.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Harry Potter and the painted t-shirt

I realize this blog is on the verge of becoming exclusively about our Harry Potter obsession. I'm sorry about that. I swear I'll fix that soon, just not today.

 We leave for our surprise vacation  to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in ONE DAY.  I'm so freaking excited.

Remember, we're going in honor of our twins turning 9 and 3/4.  Through Pinterest, I found this awesome 9 and 3/4 shirt.  I decided to follow her lead and make one of my own (well, two, since they were for twins).  I, however, cannot leave well enough alone.

So I ran with that idea and decided to make a HP charm necklace shirt complete with 9 and 3/4 painted on the side.

I admit I did a somewhat sloppy job.  The red "beads" are dots of red paint, but the paint was too watery and they bled a bit.  The blue chain is painted using a straw as a stamp.  I love the way it turned out.  
Can you identify all the charms?  
I was particularlly interested in whether or not people had any clue what the blue shape next to Luna's glasses was.  
Any guesses?  

Spoiler alert

Take a guess.

Okay, if you're here, I assume either you guessed or you gave up.  It's Merlin's Pants.  Yes, I realize "Pants" refers to underwear, but I left that up to my kids and they decided they didn't want a pair of underwear on their shirt.  So American pants it is.  

Let me identify them all for you.

Gold "Chain":
That is, of course, the symbol of the Deathly Hallows.  It's also traced in glow-in-the-dark paint so it will, (duh) glow in the dark.

Hanging from the long blue "chain"
You'll find an owl.  I used iron-on fabric patches that you can find at most grocery stores.  This particular one was purchased at a Shop Rite 25 years ago, but, hey, it worked.  I sewed buttons and felt on for eyes.  There was a felt beak, but it fell off in the wash, so I'm just going to paint one on.

Towards the right, you'll see an F and G from the same iron-on patch.  Those are, of course, for Fred and George, or Gred and Forge.  My twins refer to themselves as Fred and George.  At camp, some of their friends didn't know their real names.  They knew them only as Fred and George.

 Red charm necklace

Starting from the upper left is an orange sock.  It's a sock for Dobby.  It's orange because Ron loves the Chudley Cannons and orange is their color.  

Next is a crown because "Weasley is our king."  

Next to that is a pair of glasses and a lighting bolt for Harry.  

Next comes a time turner.  I was inspired by this one on etsy.  I drew it with paint marker on iron on fabric transfer paper (It's not transfer paper where you have to print backwards and iron it on to fabric.  It's actual fabric treated on the back with iron-on webbing.  You're supposed to print directly on it and then iron it on.  I don't know if they still make this stuff.  It's from my stash and it's really old)  and then used some fabric paint and added glitter.  I then ironed it all on when it was done.  It was the only way I could think of to contain the glitter to a specific area and not get it all over the shirt.  I originally painted a light bulb there for Hermione, the "Brightest witch" of her age, but I didn't like the way it looked.  So I ironed the time turner over that.  

The next one says 62442 which not only spells "Magic" on the telephone, but is also the code used to access the Ministry of Magic from the guest entrance.  I used the same technique with iron-on fabric and wrote the numbers with marker.  

Next to that is an HP for "Harry Potter."  

After that you'll see Trevor, Neville's toad.  It's actually a frog charm that broke off of one of my daughters' necklaces.  I sewed it on through the ring and added a bit of stitch glue for added security.  

Then we have Merlin's pants.  I cut the shape out from the same patch used for the owl.  These are covering up a snitch I tried to paint, but which came out looking awful.  

Next are Luna's spectrespecs.  You might recognize those because I've crafted with them in the past.  I did these freehand using just the tip of the handle of the paintbrush.  

You'll see a lightning bolt next for Harry's scar.  

On the far upper right is a black cauldron.

Yellow "chain" in the center:

On the far left is a spider both for Aragog and for Ron's fear of them.

Center is a winged key from the challenge in the Sorcer's Stone.  That's another one I did freehand using inspiration from the Graphics Fairy and the tip of my paint brush handle.

Could you tell that was the sorting hat?  I added that to cover one of the warped wings from the snitch.  I think it turned out okay, but I'm not certain if everyone can identify it as such.

And, of course, there's the 9 and 3/4 painted on the side.

I want to add an F and G to the back of the shirts (I have another HP-themed t-shirt not shown here), but I haven't yet.

I should get on that, shouldn't I?  I'm running out of time.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

On Valentine's Day

When I was in high school, I wore black and protested the stupid made up commercialized holiday that is Valentine's Day.  When my husband and I started dating, we found we shared the same view of the day, so we never celebrated.

Once we had kids, though, my attitude changed.  I found myself longing for the school parties, the hand-made valentines covered in glitter and glue, the heart-shaped cookies.  The more I thought about it, the more those were all very much NOT what the day had come to symbolize for so many (expensive dinner and flowers or jewelry to flaunt in front of everyone else.  I saw someone share a photo of roses today with the note, "I have a good husband."  Um...what?  "Sit!  Stay!  Buy roses!  Good, boy.  Good husband.").  I can get behind a celebration that's about friendship and love.

We do tend to give the kids little trinkets, but that's not all the day's about.  Yes, one year, the big girls got giraffe rain boots they wanted, but another year, they got book marks I made out of cardboard, ribbons and stickers.  This year, they all got recorders I bought for 50 cents.

They decorated and sent cards to their grandparents and some friends.  Last year, we went to a party with one of our homeschool groups (and we all had a blast!  That was probably the most fun I've had on Valentine's Day as an adult).  Everyone gave and received tons of cards, we all shared awesome snacks, and we had a blast playing and chatting.

This year, I see more people than ever venting about Valentine's Day (or "Single Awareness Day").  Oh how I understand!  I am not at all a fan of what the day has come to symbolize.  But, hey, the day is what you make of it.  Cover it in glitter and top it off with heart-shaped cookies and you might just find you enjoy the day.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wizarding World Of Harry Potter, here we come.

Our plans for our surprise vacation are moving along swimmingly thus far.  We bought plane tickets and have a rental car reserved.  We're currently scanning deals for a place to stay in or around Orlando.  One of my awesome cousins (who I adore, but don't get to see nearly often enough) offered to let us stay with her for the second half of the trip.

Our flight leaves early in the morning, so we're limited in what we can do for our big reveal.  That means there won't be time for a big Harry Potter-themed scavenger hunt or anything of the sort.  

So I think what we'll do is pack the van the night before while the kids are sleeping.  Then, in the morning, get them up and tell them we need to go out.  I think I'll ask them to check the mailbox where they'll find envelopes addressed to the big three (the 2-year-old will get over the fact that she doesn't have one, I assure you).  

I spent an hour last night creating the text for the envelopes and finding playing around with fonts so that they're very similar to Hogwarts acceptance letters.  Our twin daughters will get letters explaining that this is in honor of them turning 9 and 3/4.  I even used graphics from The Graphics Fairy to design tickets to mimic the Hogwarts' Express ones (my favorite part is the bottom portion. The original ticket from the movie read "Journey subject to the rules and regulations of the Hogwarts Express Railway Corporation."  Ours says,  "Journey subject to the rules and regulations of your parents.")  

Our son will get a letter which explains his dearest wish is coming true.  
You see, the last time we got Chinese food, his fortune read, "Your dearest wish will come true."  He hung that up on the fridge and announced, "My dearest wish is to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter."  SWEET!  So his letter works with that.  He made it easy on us.  I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what his letter would say until he made that wish.  Thanks, kid.  
This is one of his sisters' letters (identifying information has been removed): 
The geek in me must note that I'm assuming McGonagall would still be headmistress by this point.  Jo Rowling has said she wouldn't be in 2017, but I'm going to assume McGonagall would be in 2012.  And yes, I realize that the deputy headmistress/master is usually the one responsible for sending the letters, but I don't know for certain who that would be (Flitwick?  Sprout? Sprout would make sense because we know Neville takes her position in 2017, but we just don't know for sure).  So I took some creative liberty with that portion of the letter.  Let's wait and see how long it takes my middle daughter to pick up on that and argue about it.

I am SO freaking excited about this trip.  We're going to have a blast.  We've never been able to do anything like this for the kids and I can't wait until we tell them.  I've almost slipped up a few times, so I need to be careful or I'll spoil the surprise.

This will be our first ever family vacation AND we'll be able to surprise our kids with something they want so badly.  I'm so freaking excited about this.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cancer and loss

Cancer is taking a friend of mine.

Here I am making plans for a vacation, trying to decide if I want to venture out on the snowy roads, trying to find time to write, bundling kids up to play in the snow, going about my usual routine and a friend of mine is dying.

This is not, by far, my first experience losing someone to cancer.  I've lost grandparents, cousins, aunts, even my brother to cancer.  A number of my friends have lost their mothers to various forms recently.

Still, this shakes me to the core.  Losing others doesn't diminish the loss of this soul.  I really thought she'd beat it.  She and her family have the strength, resources, and the knowledge to do anything and everything possible and they have done just that.

I'm so heartbroken and so sorry for her and her family.

Please daven (pray) for her and her family.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pinterest: Tips & Tricks

I'm addicted to Pinterest and have been for quite a while.  It's incredibly useful for collecting links and making them accessible from any computer plus it's a fantastic way to find new ideas.  Nearly all of my recent projects, crafts, and decor have been inspired by Pinterest.

There are a few tips and tricks that not everyone seems to know and I've wanted to compile them all for some time.  So here we go.

#1.  Pin the direct link.  I've seen this rule broken time and time again and it makes it impossible to find the project, image, or link pinned.  For the love of all that is holy, do NOT pin the entire freaking blog.

The easiest way to do this is to click the title of the post.  For instance, if you wanted to pin my Lumos canvas, you don't want to pin  You also don't want to search "canvas" and then pin the search result page.  Nor do you want to click a photo and pin just that.  Click on the title and pin the direct link.  At the bottom of most blog post, you'll find the date and/or time or a link title, "Trackback."  Clicking any of those will bring you to the blog post.  Pin from there.

On Tumblr, it depends on the layout.  On some layouts, you can click the date/time on top of the post and that will take you to a direct link.  If that's not there,  look towards the bottom of that particular post.  You'll see "Notes."  That will take you to a direct link.  Click that and then pin from there.

For some reason, certain Tumblr accounts won't pin.  I don't know why this is, but I found a way around it.  Go to "Notes," and click one of the others who reblogged it.  Click their link and it will open up a new blog, but the same graphic post. Try pinning from there.  That usually works.

If you Google an image, please click the link to go to the website or directly to the image (it may be necessary to follow the steps already mentioned to get a direct link).  Please don't pin the Google Image results.  Click through to the link and pin there.

#2.  When repinning, please change the text to something suitable and accurate.  In some cases, you can leave what others have written.  For instance, if you repin a recipe and someone used the title of the recipe in the description, you go right ahead and keep that.  If, however, someone has a personal note on that photo, please don't just repin with the exact same personal note.

This can cause confusion for everyone.

One of the great features of Pinterest is that you have the ability to search a ton of creative ideas.  That search, though, relies on accurate descriptions.  So please keep that in mind when you pin.

#3.  If you highlight text within a link before you click "Pin it," that text is automatically entered in the description box.  That's an easy way to avoid problems with #2.

#4. Pinning existing links is more useful than uploading your own images.  Don't upload something unless it's not already available on the web.  User uploaded pins are a pest.  Sure, they're pretty, but they don't provide any additional information.  If you made it yourself and you don't have a blog, upload away.  If you downloaded the photo from another site, please search for it and pin the link.  Professor Google is your friend.  Finding the link (see #1) is always best.

You'll notice both images I used here were uploaded by users, so I haven't been able to accurately credit them (although I tried).

#5.  Ask for an invitation.  If you don't have a Pinterest account, don't suffer in silence.  When you request an account through, it can take quite a while before you're approved.  If a friend, who already has an account, sends you an invitation, though, you're in instantly.  An invitation is so much faster.  So post on FB asking if any of your friends can help.  Tweet about your burning desire to be part of the few, the proud, the pinning.  People WILL help you out.

#6. At least for the first few weeks that you have an account, activate your notifications so that you can see when someone repins one of your pins or follows your boards.  When you get the notification, click their name and check out their boards.  There's a good chance you'll find that they have a board you want to follow as well and/or that they've pinned something you'll want to repin.

I've found TONS of people and boards to follow this way.

It can get overwhelming once your boards become popular (you could get quite a few notifications every day), so you may want to stop then, but at least early on, it's very helpful.

#7.  If you find a pin you like, check out the "Also from" on the left side of the pin.  That shows other pins from the same domain.  If you like a recipe pinned from one blog, chances are you might like another one that shows up under the "Also from" tab.  This is another reason #1 is so important.  If you don't accurately pin a link, it may not show under the related domain.

If you want to immediately see what pins are pinnned from a specific site, you can see the results by going to

For instance, if you go here:, you can see all the pins from people who didn't follow rule #1 and pinned google results rather than a direct link.

#8. Change your boards to suit you.  Don't be afraid to create more if you need to.  Don't just limit yourself to the default titles and number of boards.  Change them to suit your needs, wants, and sense of humor.

#9.  Every once in a while, check out everyone.  By default, Pinterest shows you those you follow.  There's a whole world of pins out there that you're missing.  Along the top, it gives the option of clicking "Everyone" and then use the drop-down menu to find something that interests you (DIY & Craft is my favorite).  Then have a look around.

#10.  Categorize your boards.  I realize it isn't always possible to find one category that fits the board, but go with one that seems to fit the best.  That makes #9 easier for everyone.

#11.  If you're inspired to make/do/cook something by a pin, give credit to the original creator/blog/website.  It only takes a second to add a link in your blog post.

#12.  You can add prices and tags to your pins.  $ before an amount will show a price in the corner of the image.  # before a word creates a text tag.  If someone is following you, you can tag them in your pin to make sure they see it.  Type @ and begin to type in their user name.  If they're following you, their name will auto fill.  Just be careful with that because not everyone gets notifications about their tags.

So realize that there's a chance they won't see it.  If you @ tagged your best friend when you pinned that horribly ugly hat because it was just perfect for her, but she never commented, don't get offended.  She may have missed the tagged entirely.  Then again, maybe she did see it and she thought you were out of your ever-loving mind for assuming she'd love that leopard print disaster.

This is what I have thus far.  Anyone else?  I reserve the right to come back and add more as I think of them or as others share them.

Image from the title courtesy of The Graphics Fairy