Under the Sea Headdress

My under the sea costume headdress is almost done. I finished it yesterday, but it wouldn’t stay upright on my head. I slept on it (the problem, not the headdress) and once again the answer became clear. Instead of using an elasticized headband, I need one that grips the hair and sits upright. I’ll probably cut the elastic off of the band I’m using, and then resew the entire piece on to another headband. Does that make sense?

under the sea headdress underpinnings

Scrap of packaging plastic, festooned with glitter, beads and moss. Sparkle branches, elasticized headband and the secret garden key with a glass heart, once attached to a very special gift.

I started small, then added layers,careful to keep the piece light in weight. Using a piece of plastic from a disposable container, I cut a half-moon shape following the curve of my head. I spritzed it with glue, then added bits of moss, leftover beads from Mike’s helmet, a plastic fish from an earring and lots of sparkle. Once the plastic was dry, I encased it in a pocket of tulle, sewing the edges together after wrapping it around the headband. I added a snippet of blue sparkled branches along the band’s curve. It still needed some volume, so I added more tulle, gathered into a fan shape and sewn to the back. One more piece of glitter branch, also sewn on the back gave it more height. With glitter in my hair, on my face, and down the front of my jeans, I declared the head-piece sufficiently blinged!

under the sea headdress

Under the Sea Headdress

Gloves/Arm Wraps

Using the sleeves of a thrifted gauze shirt, I made a pair of arm covers to emulate gloves. After fitting them to my arms, I added a piece of elastic to keep them in place over my ring fingers. I made a shank style button, joining two buttons together with elastic, then covering them with a scrap of glitter material left over from the top half of the dress.

My son announced that they just ‘look like sleeves and not gloves’ taking the wind right out of my sails. He didn’t mean to be unkind, just passing on his honest opinion. I’ll try them on with the dress this weekend, and if they work well together I’ll use them.

under the sea gloves

Under the sea ‘gloves”

No-Candy Countdown:

Instead of giving out candy this year, I’ve decided to give little bags of pretzels. Pauline suggested bookmarks to go with them, another great idea. I have about nine more days till the wee ghosts and goblins grace my doorstep, so once the costume is a wrap, I’ll come up with a bookmark prototype. This will be another fun way to promote the Little Free Library. Still candy free.

Pumpkins on Parade:

Sad news on the pumpkin front. Like me, their once firm flesh is now soft and wrinkled. I fear one over-zealous costume change may put them out of business for good. A visit to a pumpkin patch is probably in order. Mike will need a bigger canvas for carving next week. For now, I give you Ghoulish Pumpkin.

the ghoulish pumpkin

Dark! Dark! The horror of darkness, like a shroud wraps me and bears me on through mist and cloud.

– Sophocles

If Your Costume Needs Zing, Add Bling

It’s true. A costume isn’t a costume until you add some bling. I spent my in between moments today adding bits of this and that to the dress. It’s fun sorting through my jewelry box for the odd piece. Small treasures also linger in craft bins and my sewing box.

heart bling

Heart Bling, Straight From my Jewelry Box

I popped out last night for a few groceries and picked up a pair of jewelry findings to finish the cape. Using a few strands of green embroidery floss, I attached the flower finding to a silver leaf and added one on either side of the cape.

shoulder leaf bling

Shoulder Bling

package of seeds

Packet of Seeds (A Gift from Alyster the Gnome)

I threw together a headpiece this afternoon, but it’s been a bit of a challenge keeping it upright. If the elastic strap is under my chin it stands up. If it’s behind my ears as it should be it has a bit of a tilt. I’ll figure something out after another night’s sleep.

No-Candy Countdown:

I’ve been so focused on staying away from candy this month, that the subject entered my dreams. I was standing at a counter in a store, and the woman I was with was sharing details of a murder. Then she produced a delicious box of chocolates and I started eating them. Half way through I realized that I was eating out of stress, and worse, that I would have to tell all of you about it.

All you dream diagnosticians can have a field day with this one. In better news, I’m still candy free. Darn that chocolate haunting my dreams.

Pumpkins on Parade:

Today’s pumpkin is a two for one.

Pauline of The Contented Crafter said:

Surely all the aqua loveliness calls for a mermaid pumpkin to celebrate the costume unveiling?

Introducing, Merpumpkin.

Merpumpkin

Merpumpkin

My friend Betsy loves mermaids so hopefully she’s giggling when she sees this. The headdress is part of my costume by the way.I’ll be writing more about it tomorrow.
Marlene of In Search of it All said:

Wonder what would happen if you put the pumpkin on the dress form in costume?

Great idea, Marlene. I’ve been waiting to get the costume in respectable order before giving this idea a try. Aside from the shrunken head and the missing neck, not bad. Her beautiful eyes and blue skin more than make up for that. 😉

Pumpkin Head

Pumpkin Head

If you’re planning your own Halloween costume this year, please let us know what you’re up to in the comments below.

bling

Bling-Bling

 

Under-the-sea Costumes: Home Stretch

We’re almost there. I’ve been working on our under-the-sea costumes for about three or four weeks now. Thursday was the first day that I had several hours of uninterrupted time. What a rare treat to have an afternoon dedicated to getting my creative juices flowing.

Things were humming along with my dress but then I hit a snag. The original plan wasn’t working, or more accurately, I didn’t like it. The overskirt looked bulky, not the smooth, draping look I was after. Furthermore, the layers of sequined panels, reused from part of a thrifted child’s dress, looked messy. What to do, what to do?

gardener of the sea skirt

Overskirt, front panel, seaweed and gardening tools

I went to bed in a funk. It’s a bit of a let down working on something for so long, only to have it disappoint you. The next day I realized the problem: the outer skirt, removed from an extra-large dress, was simply too much fabric. With that sorted out, I removed the original waistband from the skirt and redistributed the fabric more judiciously. Rather than keeping the gathering uniform all the way around, I lined up the side seams of the dress with the over skirt and created a box pleat in the back. Now the skirt flows but without the bulk. In the front I stitched just a few inches of the overskirt to the waistband, then let the excess fabric fall in waves down the front. Much better.

costume details

Costume Details

gardener of the sea

Gardener of the Sea Dress

After removing the sequined fabric from the front of the dress, I replaced it with a panel of material I’m using for the cape. I had just enough left over to make the panel without compromising the flow of the cape. Serendipity! It’s all trick of the eye, as the panel is only 14 inches wide but it works.

With that sorted out, it was time to add some bling. I cut three narrow strips of the cape material, then stretched them to capacity. This created a curled edge and a distressed finish. The idea is to suggest seaweed.  After sewing the strips to the front panel, I added a few green glass beads, some jewelry findings and tied a few knots in the ends.

One of my thrift store finds is an aqua eyeglass lanyard. I sewed that to the front panel as well, and attached my tiny spade key ring. I bought it at a clever shop in Victoria, Canada.  I hope to add another gardening tool but that’s still working itself out in my head.

What’s Left:

My cape: It’s almost done, but I need a pair of buttons and a bit of elastic to attach it to my dress.

Headpiece. I’ve been gathering bits of material and some netting. I’m trying to make something that I can attach to a hair band.

Gloves. I’m still working out the details, but I have the material and a general idea of where I’m going with it.

Mike put the finishing touches on his helmet this weekend and it looks great. He glued bits of moss, some gold jewelry findings and just a hint of glitter. It looks a bit menacing to me with the full mask, but he likes it and that’s what counts.

Guardian of the Sea Mask

Guardian of the Sea Mask

I finished his cape on Thursday, trimmed the tunic and added a few small touches. His costume is essentially done with one exception: I need to sew loops on the cape so it’s removable.

Guardian of the Sea Cape

Guardian of the Sea Cape

Guardian of the Sea Tunic

Guardian of the Sea Tunic

We attend our first of three Halloween parties next Saturday, so with my busy week ahead, I need to carve out time for these last details.

No-Candy Countdown:

no candy countdown october 20

Candy-free Countdown

As my 31-day, no-candy countdown continues, I’m enjoying the feeling of being more in control of my food choices. I hope those of you joining me on the journey are feeling positive as well. Please let me know how you’re doing in the comments below.

Pumpkins on Parade:

pincushion pumpkin

Pincushion Pumpkin

Nothing reminds me of sewing more than a bright red pincushion. Today’s pumpkin should feel right at home.

Thank you for the additional suggestions for pumpkin dress up. I’ll be working on a few of them later this week.

Restoring Order and Some Time at the Machine

This I know for sure: creativity and order are not mutually exclusive.

Since I don’t have a craft room, I improvise in various rooms of the house. I set up my sewing machine in the living room and projects requiring glue, tape or paint happen in the kitchen. We’ve been doing our costume spray painting outside in my newspaper-lined wheelbarrow. Boy, the fumes are nasty. I don’t think I’ve spray-painted in ten years.

DSC_0026-001

After weeks of setting up Halloween, dressing up pumpkins, making cards, sewing our costumes, I could take the chaos no longer. I sorted, cleaned, straightened and did the family laundry while I was at it. When I found one of the buttons to Mike’s costume at the bottom of the washing machine, a barely flinched. How it got there is anyone’s guess. I’m just glad I found it.

With order restored, I felt the calm descend. I threaded the machine, pinned some fabric into place, and I sewed. Yippee! Life is good.

sewing fabric

No-Candy Countdown:

Thanks for cheering me on with my no-candy countdown. Marlene, Diane and a few others are doing the same. Support and accountability help me stay strong. I’m sleeping better, not so driven by my cravings and the scale moved south, just a bit. With three Halloween parties to attend, I’m planning a good dinner ahead of time to limit my junk-food intake once there.

Under-the-sea Costume Update:

I completed all the machine sewing on Mike’s tunic today. The medallion is sewn in place along with the buttons to support the cape. I plan to add ‘seaweed’ to his tunic and some sparkle to give it a sense of movement. Additionally, I cut the fabric for his cape, but need him to try it on before I finish the shoulder details. It’s fun seeing it come together.

Men's under the sea costume

Under the sea costume progress

Pumpkins on Parade:

Introducing the ghost of the mystery pumpkin patch.

ghost pumpkin

Ghost pumpkin

One of my boys insisted on dressing up as a ghost one Halloween, though quickly realized how difficult it was to see. Lessons learned. I’ve kept the ‘costume’ all these years, and use it in a variety of ways. This year it’s draped over the wicker chair on the front deck. Other years I’ve used it as a part of a group of layered table cloths for our Halloween party. The year that our magic cauldron leaked, the ghost soaked up the water along with orange and purple dye from something on the table. After a wash, it still had just a trace of those colors. Our ghost continues to improve with age.

Please keep sharing your ideas for pumpkin dress up. I’ll be catching up on comments and your posts over the next few days, but I’ll be back here at Gardening Nirvana on Monday. I hope to see you then.

Sentimental Thrifting: Kicking Shame to the Curb

Thrift store shopping is all the rage. Clothing and household goods get a second life, proceeds from purchases usually benefit a non-profit, and for those who can’t afford new clothes for themselves or their family, they’re a boon.They’re also an excellent place to shop for Halloween.

In the year leading up to my father’s death, most of our purchases came from a thrift store. After Dad died and Mom had three young girls to raise, our clothes and shoes came from the local St. Vincent de Paul. We enjoyed going there and the kind treatment by the woman who volunteered for the store.

We didn’t own a car, and within a few weeks of our dad dying, mom loaded us girls with arms of his clothing, and we walked to the store to donate them. I’ll never forget the pain of that day. When we walked in the door, she asked us how our dad was.  I couldn’t possibly say ‘he died’ so instead I said “he’s fine” and fled to the back of the store as the tears welled up yet again. I turned ten a few months later.

In my early teens, I was more aware of the scarcity around us. That’s when the shame set in. We lived in affluent Millbrae, but on the ‘wrong’ side of the tracks. Girls would ask if my dress was new and I never knew how to respond. It wasn’t new of course, just new to me. I felt trapped between telling the truth and my personal shame. The last time I shopped at that local thrift, I went in to find a pair of overalls. They were all the rage in the day, so I hoped to find a pair of my own.

When I walked out of the store, a school bus drove by and I imagined everyone on that bus looking at me with judgment. I jumped back into the shop, my heart pounding and waited for the bus to pass.

I was in college before I mustered the courage to enter a thrift store again. I found several treasures for a few dollars, and brought them home to decorate my room. The problem, though, was that smell.  It’s a mix of stale fabrics, moth balls and the collective journey of donated items.  It’s also the smell of loss and shame and grief.

It’s wonderful to have worked through so much of those feelings as I continue a path of healing. I’m able to embrace the thrift store experience once again. Not only is it trendy to recycle fashion, it’s practical, economical and green. Items get a second life.

So, with that in mind, I’ve been haunting local thrift stores in search of the perfect find. Once I get past the smell, those thrift stores no longer haunt me.

No-Candy Countdown:

Throughout October, I’m keeping track of the candy I **don’t** eat.I’m feeling great, losing weight and enjoying the sense of control I’ve gained over my extra-curricular eating.I’m rewarding myself with a happy face stamp. It’s fun and a way to stay self-aware.

DSC_0026

Under-the-sea Costume Update:

I had all kinds of fun last Friday, and again over the weekend. I planned out the rest of the details for my costume, draping and pinning as I went along. I ran out of safety pins, so had a few ‘tender’ moments getting the dress on and off. I picked up a bag of pins on Sunday.

under the sea draping collage

Thrift store finds: Purple dress, two sections of fabric and a pair of unique earrings

I cut the smaller of the two pieces of fabric in half, then draped it over the shoulder of the dress to create a short-sleeved top. I’m using the longer length of fabric for a cape. I found a unique pair of earrings for two dollars. I removed the earring and used the rest as faux fasteners for the cape.

Mike’s getting into the spirit of  dressing up this year and he’s having fun. We went back to Savers and bought a pant suit, soon to be converted into his cape. The dark green and swirly pattern are perfect. The thrift store pricing fit the bill too. Don’t worry, it will be manly when I’m done with it, with zero trace of this suit.

under the sea cape material

Thrift store finds: Green and Gold chiffon pantsuit

Pumpkins on Parade:

Will of Marking Our Territory had the following to say about this year’s crop:

Halloween beats out all but two holiday for parties? I’m seriously impressed. (Side note: the 3/4 pumpkin in the lower left corner is my favorite – it’s got character)

Will has wonderful character so he should know.

three quarters pumpkin

3/4 Pumpkin

Please keep sharing your ideas for pumpkin dress up.

Spiders and Lizards and Rats, Oh My!

My version of Halloween is pretend-scary. I trot out the plastic spiders and the rubber rats, then I fill in liberally with pumpkins.

Yesterday, life was having none of that.

Bungee Spiders

It finally cooled down by ten degrees spurring us into decorating action. My son set up his inflatables while I rearranged the deck furniture. I took my baskets of succulents from the hooks, gave them a quick tap, then set them in the kitchen sink for a cool drink. I put them out back this time of year to make room for decorating.

Giant cat inflatable and the great white hunter

Giant cat inflatable and the great white hunter

I saw a quick movement emerging from the stems and a spider *jumped* out of the plant. Spiders climb and swing in my experience, but this one jumped. It went from the plant into the sink, then half way out of the sink it jumped again. Yikes. I quickly gathered my wits and grabbed my spider catcher, keeping an eye on the jumper at all times. With the spider safely ensconced, I walked quickly to the back of the garden and released it on the rock wall. The bungee spider jumped one more time, turned in my direction and looked right at me with… blue eyes!!!  That really creeped me out.

Addendum: I’ve since learned that my bungee spider is none other than Phidippus audax. Based on the orange legs, my little visitor is a juvenile.  His eyes aren’t blue, but his chelicerae are. Feel free to use that word in a sentence over the next few days. According to Wiki:

Phidippus audax is a common jumping spider of North America. It is commonly referred to as the daring jumping spider, or bold jumping spider. The average size of adults ranges from roughly 13–20 millimetres (0.51–0.79 in) in length. They are typically black with a pattern of spots and striped on their abdomen and legs. Often these spots are orange-tinted in juveniles, turning white as the spider matures. The spider belongs to the genus Phidippus, a group of jumping spiders easily identified both by their relatively large size and their iridescent chelicerae. In the case of P. audax, these chelicerae are a bright, metallic green or blue.

Lizards are us

Mighty Mouse, our friendly neighborhood cat, brings us lizards. It’s happened so often in the past few months, that my boys simply call out ‘lizard!’ and I’m spurred into action. Protocol is as follows:

  • Confine the cat in a bedroom while someone else keeps an eye on the lizard.
  • Assess the size of the lizard, and find an appropriate plastic container, preferably with a view.
  • Grab a piece of cardboard and tiptoe behind the frightened and temporarily paralyzed little critter.
  • Pounce! I can’t stress this step enough. Otherwise the lizard goes skittering all over the place and my only option is to gradually coax a terrified and sometimes hissing lizard towards an open door.
  • Relocate the lizard in the back of the garden and hope he finds his way to safety.
Tiny lizard catching sun on the rock wall

Tiny lizard catching sun on the rock wall

Rat a Shoe-y

7:30 each morning is a flurry. Boys grabbing backpacks and lunches, putting on shoes and heading out the door for the carpool. It was the same this morning, but for one exception. My son put on his first shoe without a problem. When he stepped into his second shoe he could feel something at the end. He picked it up, looked inside and found himself gazing at a live rat. Startled of course, he screamed and tossed the shoe into the air and off scurried the rat.

Unfortunately only part of the lizard protocol works when you’re trying to capture a rat: cats confined to the bedroom. The rest is by the seat of your pants.

Unable to stay for further investigation, I left the rat patrol to my husband and quickly fled with the boys.

There are two up-sides to this story. My son is fine. No bites or scratches to his tender toes. Further, I had a proud-mama moment when, once recovered, he worried that he hurt the rat. Mike rearranged the furniture in the most interesting fashion, and in the end, the tiny rat fled through the back door.

The last text from Mike:

The cats did a once over of the living room and declared it boring, which I take as rat-free. I left it in disarray. Sorry. Just push everything back.

rearranged furniture

Rat-free living room

Phew!

No-Candy Countdown:

Throughout October, I’m keeping track of the candy I **don’t** eat.  They say it takes thirty days to make or break a habit, but I must say that eight days in I’m feeling great.  Yesterday I discovered Fat-Bottom-Fifties Get Fierce, via Pauline. M and E are doing their own 30 day challenge and are encouraging others to join in. You can follow along at Getting Fierce Goal-fest! There’s nothing like putting your commitment up on the internet, is there?

Under-the-sea Costume Update:

Since I don’t have the luxury of a crafting room, our living room doubles as my sewing space. This morning I set up my sewing machine, the ironing board, my ‘selfie’ and all my supplies so I’m ready to drape and sew.

Pumpkins on Parade:

Special thanks to Pauline for The Contented Crafter for the fourth suggestion this month. Pauline says:

I very much like your Baker Pumpkin – good on Boomdee for making that pick! – and I would like to suggest a gardening pumpkin in honour of the hard work and the hours you put in to your actual garden and your blog garden 🙂

gardener pumpkin

Garden Pumpkin

Garden Pumpkin Key: Hydrangea hair nestled in my new Flower Arranger. An elaborate collar, also made from hydrangeas, with an Alyssum necklace. Eyebrows crafted from Acer leaves and the lips pouting away between Acer seed pods. The nose leaf comes from one of the Abutilon. Bluebell eyes, punctuated with black flower seeds. Fluttering lashes come from a fern.  That cute little spade: a treasure from my recent trip to Victoria. It’s actually a key chain.  I’m incorporating it into my costume as well. The gardener looks pensive, but she really does have fun playing in the dirt.
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.

September Flew

Metaphorically speaking, the month of September flew. Between back-to-school night, college application night, our anniversary and a trip to the DMV for my son’s driving learners permit, I find myself at the end of the month.

Am I sad? Halloween no!!!

I mean…well, you know what I mean.

October is one of my favorite months. Cooler weather prevails and if we’re lucky, we might get a drop or two of rain. For the past nine years I hosted a Halloween party for our boys. All the children on the block joined. It was loads of fun, but exhausting too, however I always looked forward to the energy of the day. This would have been our tenth year, but alas, tiny children become teenagers and the party this year is a no-go.

Initially disappointed, I quickly rallied when I received a lovely party invitation from my friend, Kirra. The theme: under the sea. Three more party invitations followed and amazingly three of them land on different days.

Realizing all the time and energy I’ll save not planning the party gives me time to make a costume again, but without the mad-dash rush. Plans are already underway.

Of course, the month of October is also filled with land minds: Halloween candy. It’s one of my downfalls.

Chocolate Pumpkin

Chocolate Pumpkin

The other thing that flew this month: seven pounds. I’ve been following a healthy eating plan and slowly the pounds are coming off. The last thing I want to do is reverse that trend eating candy. When I say it’s everywhere, I’m only mildly exaggerating. The grocery stores started stocking bags of it weeks ago. The drugstores have it too. No need to go looking for it as its right there at the check-out aisle. The next land mind arrives closer to Halloween when I buy candy to give away. I’ve learned to stay away from my favorites and that helps. Close to 200 children grace our doorstep over the course of three hours on Halloween night. We give away a lot of candy.

So, starting tomorrow and for the next 31 days, I’m going to keep track of the candy that I **don’t** eat. My Halloween countdown will also include my candy-free countdown as well. If you struggle in a similar fashion, I hope you’ll join me in this challenge.  I’m going to enjoy all the things I love about October while continuing to lose the extra pounds.

Special thanks to Elizabeth Cassidy, Pilates instructor extraordinaire, for her ongoing support.

Here’s what the garden looks like as we head into fall: