A Different Kind of Selfie

A selfie is a photo of oneself taken with a smart phone for posting to social media.

This is a different kind of selfie.

It’s soft and full-bodied like me and it closely approximates my size. This selfie, however, is headless.

[cue the horror movie soundtrack]

Introducing my body double:

dress form box

Dress Form Selfie

While working on a degree in theatre arts, I learned a variety of pattern-making techniques. In the fashion industry, the person making patterns is a pattern maker, however in theatre we’re referred to as cutters. In addition to flat patterns, you can create costumes by draping fabric on a dress form. I fell in love with this technique working summer stock. I draped half a dozen, bias-cut, ball gowns for a scene in the Sound of Music. I’ve lusted after a dress-making form ever since.

The theatrical versions are heavy and I assumed quite pricey.They also come in pre-determined sizes so costume shops have several. Then I found this:

dress maker form

Singer Dress Form Selfie

I looked at several versions on different sites and finally decided upon the Singer. It was on sale for $107, no tax and free shipping. Score!!!

The form has several adjustable dials so you can get a more precise fit. You can adjust the height, the neck and the bust, waist and hips. Most importantly for me, the length. I have a long torso and find it challenging getting the right fit. I’m really having fun with her.

No-Candy Countdown:

Throughout October, I’m keeping track of the candy I **don’t** eat.  Candy is not my friend. I’m trying to whittle my waistline and develop better eating habits. Please join me in the countdown.

Yesterday I tried downloading several calendars for my countdown. Everyone else makes it look so easy but in my ineptness, I finally gave up. I’ve just re-read yesterdays blog and saw the dangling sentence suggesting as much.  Oops. Sorry about that.

I mentioned that I was looking for a candy alternative to give out Halloween night and Pauline had this to say:

Congrats for the ‘so-far-so-good’ score on no candy. And kudos for considering a swap for something else. Not having the foggiest notion of what else might work, I Googled and found this site: Family Education and thought maybe you could offer a bookmark with those pretzels?

Thanks, Pauline. I love that idea, and many of the others featured in the article.  If you’re looking for a candy alternative for the door-to-door goblins, please give it a look.

Under-the-sea Costume Updates:

Now that I’ve assembled my form and it accurately reflects my size I’m ready to drape my costume. I’m starting with this peacock patterned dress from The Cancer Society store. I picked it up for $9.

under the sea costume fabric

Under the Sea Costume Components

I’ll be layering from here, using the chiffon from the bottom half of a second dress, and making trim from a third dress. I shopped at three different thrift stores and made purchases for a song: two yards of silky aqua fabric for $4, another panel of fabric for $3 and the dress. I spent much less than I would spend in a fabric store, and the money goes to a variety of non-profits.

Pumpkins on Parade:

Special thanks to LB of Life on the Bike for the third suggestion this month. LB says:

Well, you know I’m going to suggest a helmet … bicycle, motorcycle, whatever!
Looking forward to your Halloween blog take over!

pumpkin biker

Biker Pumpkin

You can read more about pumpkin-dress up month at, NEWS FLASH! Halloween Takes Over Gardening Blog.

If you have any suggestions for ‘pumpkin costume of the day’ please let me know. I’ll see what I can do.

NEWS FLASH! Halloween Takes Over Gardening Blog

One of Mike's carvings: pumpkin campfire

One of Mike’s carvings: pumpkin campfire

We interrupt this regularly scheduled gardening blog to bring you…Halloween!

You may have noticed a few changes, right off the bat.

Everyone’s welcome, whether you’re dropping by in the present or visiting from your ghostly past… or back from the future. This pumpkin-loving gardener is setting the stage for a spooky month.

First up, what exactly is Halloween? In a recent international Skype session with several of my favorite bloggers we talked a bit about the tradition. The Wikipedia article linked here is both fascinating and extensive with nearly 200 citations. If you have the time, it’s a great read.

Who has time you say?

Point taken.

So, here are a few notes from the site Halloween at the Party Spot

  • Trick or treating comes from the Middle-Age practice of the poor dressing up in costumes and going around door to door during Hallowmas begging for food or money in exchange for prayers. The food given was often a Soul Cake, which was a small round cake which represented a soul being freed from Purgatory when the cake was eaten.
  • Halloween is also known by other names:
    All Hallows Eve, Samhain, All Hallowtide, The Feast of the Dead, The Day of the Dead
  • Halloween is recognized as the 3rd biggest party day after New Year’s and Super Bowl Sunday.
  • Halloween is Oct. 31 – the last day of the Celtic calendar. It actually was a pagan holiday honoring the dead.
  • Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to placate spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain, a sacred festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year.
  • Halloween is correctly spelt as Hallowe’en.
  • Halloween is one of the oldest celebrations in the world, dating back over 2000 years to the time of the Celts who lived in Britain.
  • More than 93 percent of children go trick-or-treating each year. (source: NCA)

Read more at Halloween at the Party Spot.

No-Candy Countdown:

Over the next 31 days, I’m keeping track of the candy I **don’t** eat.  I’m going to enjoy all the things I love about October while continuing to lose the extra pounds. I’m feeling virtuous today, mostly because it’s day one. That said, I didn’t have a day-before-binge either so I think I’m on to something.

Under-the-sea Costume Updates:

This year I’m creating a costume from my imagination: an under-the-sea gardener.  I’ll share my progress throughout the month. The first party is October 25th.

Thrift Store Finds

Thrift Store Finds

I love dressing-up. It was great fun as a child, and the passion continued to adulthood. In my youth I enjoyed sketching dresses and sewing clothes for my dolls. In college I studied costume design and fabrication. I worked as a costume cutter, assistant cutter and stitcher at various theatre companies in my early twenties.  Those years are among my most treasured memories.

I drifted out of theatre a few years after graduating college. I lacked the stamina for the transient nature of the work, the mediocre pay, etc. Growing up in poverty lead me to realize that I crave stability. I never lost my love of the art though.

Getting Silly with Our Pumpkins:

If you’re a regular reader, you know all the fuss that went into my pumpkins this summer. If not, you can read about the squash bug debacle here and here. In the end, three survived, each about the size of a cantaloupe.  Aren’t they sweet?

pumpkins 2014

This Year’s Pumpkin Crop

I’ve been known to dress up my pumpkins too, so watch for future silliness. Here are some highlights from past years:

Pumpkins Ready for a Party

Pumpkins Ready for a Party

If you have any suggestions for ‘pumpkin costume of the day’ please let me know. I’ll see what I can do.

Coming Full Circle and a Blogger Surprise

Party girl, 1920's style

Party girl, 1920’s style

Boy am I tuckered out!  We attended two Halloween parties this past weekend, our own kid-friendly party and another one hosted for adults. Great fun.

I finished my Halloween costume Friday night, but for a few hand-stitches the next morning. Talk about cutting it close.  Party guests arrived here at 1:00 pm Saturday.  Nothing like a little pressure to keep your energy up and your adrenaline pumping.

We host a Halloween party every year for our boys.  We invite adults, too, but the focus is on the younger ones.

Later that night we attended an adults-only party, just a couple of houses away.  It was fun wearing my ‘party dress’ all day.  It’s not often you get to wear pink shoes, false eyelashes and a petticoat.

Many moons ago I attended San Jose State’s Theater Arts program.  Everyone studied a little of everything including acting, literature, backstage work and technical theater, but costumes are my first love.

Coming Full Circle

The inspiration for this year’s costume came from my dear friend Boomdee.  When she visited here in May, she brought me a beautiful hand-made easel decorated with lace paper, ribbons and bows along with tiny hearts and roses.  Featured on the easel: a lovely dancer from the 1920’s, dressed in soft pinks.  She chose the paper with my theater background as inspiration.  Now it’s both art and costume.

costume and muse

My costume muse

cottage craft flowers

I found these flowers at Cottage Craft

Lindy on the petticoat

Lindy is rethinking her costume…or simply keeping my petticoat warm.

Blogger Surprise

As if back-to-back parties weren’t enough excitement, an amazing treat arrived in the mail from Catja at Gjeometry.  Her tag line says it all: It’s in the Lines……hem, seam, stitching, grain, style.  I made it on to her Craft-it-Forward list earlier in the year.  She blew me away!

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the full reveal.  Meanwhile, Catja, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Halloween Countdown:

mini pumpkin patch

My son set up our ‘pumpkin patch’. Individual pumpkin creativity ensued

The Sweetest of Peas

While shopping for ‘bedding plants’ (take two) I bought this small trellis.

garden trellis

Garden trellis

It was an afterthought.  I spotted it as I was checking out, fell in love and grabbed it. Now it’s the focal point of the curb garden. Funny how things work out.

The long, narrow bed definitely needed some height and character. Originally I thought I would accomplish that with one large plant, but I’m really liking this alternative.

I planted garden peas from seed in late August, and they’re already three feet tall. The first of the blooms arrived this week, which means delicious, garden-fresh peas will soon follow. As fall descends and the tomatoes go fallow, it’s delightful having this little garden oasis.

Peas on the trellis

Peas on the trellis

Flowering peas

Flowering peas

pea flower

A pea is sure to follow

Work on my Halloween costume continues. Here is a sneak peek at my costume inspiration: this beautiful piece of art by our good friend over at Boomdeeadda. Isn’t it stunning?

Halloween Countdown:

Boomdee

Just a couple of bloggers, wearing wigs and smiles before tea.

Boomdee Crafts

Costume inspiration close-up

Nature’s Costumes: All Set for Halloween

Our kitties are all set for Halloween. They’ve gone the simple route with their costumes, unlike yours truly who likes to complicate things. I managed to alter a pattern and cut the pieces to my dress this weekend, but with my husband traveling out of the country and my busier-than-usual work schedule, I’m down to the wire.  And speaking of wire, our wireless connection went down as soon as he left town.  Nothing makes me feel dumber than trying to trouble shoot modems, routers, wireless connections and the like.

I studied theater arts in college, with an emphasis in costume design, so it’s fun to dust off my sewing skills once a year.  Halloween is the perfect time of year.  So, I’m sticking to the things I do know (sewing and gardening) and through the magic of mobile phones, our internet is finally up and running.

With that wireless business behind me, I’m back to focusing on costumes.

First up, Mouse the Mighty. I know, I know, he’s not even my cat but try telling him that.  Here he is sporting his Inspector Clouseau costume.

My sweet Lindy is taking the softer approach. Here she dons a head full of strawberry plants for that special Strawberry Shortcake look.

Slinky Malinki is all dressed in black. She’s emulating the children’s story book of the same name: Slinky Malinki…

Beijing is a teenager, and a tired one at that. She’s sitting out the whole costume thing this year, preferring instead to monitor the treats. She’s a natural.

Beijing on the sill

Beijing, the teenager

What’s in a name:

Mighty Mouse: He’s named by our neighbor’s daughter.
Lindy: She came home from the Humane Society already named. We also call her Lindy-Lu.
Slinky Malinki:  Once a stray. We named her after a slinky black cat in a children’s story book of the same name.
Beijing:  Also once a stray.  My son named her Beijing, because she’s neither white nor orange, but beige.

Halloween Countdown:

chocolate pumpkin

Chocolate pumpkin. This tasty morsel was a gift from my Pilates instructor. Yes, I do see the irony in this.

Mexican Sage: Low Maintenence Wonder

salvia with bee

Bees are good for the planet

Not everything in the garden takes work.  As flowering plants go, Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha) is a low-maintenance wonder. This glorious specimen lives at the curb.  I bought it for five dollars a decade ago, planted it in a spot without any irrigation, and within a short period of time it tripled in size.

Year after year, it produces glorious purple flowers.  The bees love it and so do the hummingbirds.  It’s also a favorite of a few little girls on the block.  I gave one of them permission several years ago to help herself to a few blooms on her walk.  I appreciated her interest and her lovely manners.  She asked first.

Salvia Leucantha (Mexican Bush Sage)

Salvia Leucantha (Mexican Bush Sage)

Of course you can’t please everyone.  The water meter-reader left a grumpy note one year asking me to “clear the shrubbery” so he could do his work.  The sage is so soft that you can push it aside, or snap off a few twigs.  Perhaps he was just having a bad day.  Early this year, I removed a few lower limbs, knowing it would fill out completely by early fall.  That did the trick.  The plant is full and lush, but the lower branches float above the water meter.

salvia water meter

Water Meter, clear for the reading

salvia leucantha

Attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and bees

vibrant purple

Vibrant purple, soft to touch

Last year my sister dressed up for Halloween as the Corpse Bride from the Tim Burton movie of the same name.  I picked several branches of sage and wrapped them into a headband for her costume.  Once dried, they were a perfect addition to the headpiece.  Her friend Kim designed her makeup and together we created her costume.

Salvia crown

Corpse Bride

Why plant a Mexican Sage:

  • Drought tolerant
  • Low maintenance
  • Attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and bees
  • Soft as velvet with vibrant color
  • Show-stopping beauty
  • Looks great on a costume

DSC_0052

Flowering The Red Carpet

Are you watching the Academy Awards?  I love theater, film and most of all costumes so I tune in for the sound bites and frills. We record the show ahead of time, because, let’s face it, it’s an *awards* show.

While it’s fun to watch the Hollywood A-List stars on the red carpet, double-Spanxed and elegantly dressed, I’ve noticed a distinct lack of floral dresses on display.

Here’s what I was hoping to see instead:

flower dress

Who needs a pair of Spanx when you have a gorgeous bouquet around your midsection?
Photo Credit: Linda Miller, Pinterest

New York couture

Laura Clare: New York Flower Show

trailing flower dress

Floral Dress: Credited to Khun K via Pinterest

They aren’t giving out any awards for “Best Gardening Halloween Costume in a Small Blogging Community” but if they were, I was ready.

Halloween 2010

Halloween 2010