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A DIY Costume: Knight In Training

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This year, Bastien and I were determined to make Elise’s Halloween costume. We even explained to her that on Halloween you can dress up as anything or one you want to be. And she told us what she wanted to be – a crocodile! (Of all things, she is both scared and excited by).

We even did this with plenty of time to spare so that we could get started in time, but then her birthday happened and her birthday party (that brought in a staggering 30+ people and me swearing that next year we will not have it in our tiny home) and then a whole household of sicknesses that helped us to make excuses for our procrastination.

So with a month full of excuses in our pocket and one week to go before the candy-filled day, Papa Bastien decided he wanted to make a sword out of some cardboard we had lying around. After the sword, came a shield and a realization that it would be a lot easier to make a knight’s costume than a crocodile costume.

So that’s what happened. With our powers combined, Bastien and I made a pretty awesome looking knights costume using only items we already had in our home. I scrounged around her closet and found some sparkly silver tights and a grey hoodie to keep her warm and silvery. Below, I describe how we put it all together.

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Materials & Supplies
•Medium-weight cardboard (lots and lots of it!)
•Card stock or thick paper
•Duct tape
•Ribbon or thick string
•Scissors

Sword
Trace a sword shape into cardboard, cut it out and then slather it in trusty duct tape. Get your little one in on the fun by getting them to color the bare parts.

Shield
Trace a shield shape (roughly a pentagon shape) into cardboard, cut it out and paint it. Find an emblem that you like on the internet, print it on paper, and cut it out. Paste the cut out shape centered on to the shield and paint around it until area surrounding the shape is covered. After this has dried, use duct tape to make handles on the non painted side so that the child can hold the shield properly. Cut out strips of duct tape and tape them together to make two non-sticky strips. Make sure to leave some sticky visible on each end of the strips so that you can tape the strips on to the cardboard.

Armor
Draw out two rectangles on to cardboard that you think would roughly cover your child’s chest. Using a paper cutter, cut out the shapes. Hold the rectangles up to your child’s chest to see if they are too big and adjust as necessary. Paint rectangles with silver/grey acrylic or oil paint. Once dry, cut out two pieces of ribbon, thick string or yarn and tape them to the back of each rectangle so they are near the edges and you are thereby connecting the two rectangles together.

Watch out! Make sure the ribbon is long enough so that the armor can go over the child’s head easily. We made that mistake and had to make some adjustments so that Elise wouldn’t detest putting the armor on.

Helmet
Tape two pieces of card stock together lengthways with duct tape. Continue to cover the card stock on the same side with duct tape. Once covered, place the paper around child’s head to see how big the helmet should be. Once measured, tape the two ends of the card stock together so it is now a cylinder shape. The next part gets a little funny.

Put the cylinder shaped helmet on the child and using a marker, draw outlines of what where the child’s eyes and mouth are. Once you’ve managed to get the child to stay still for long enough to do that, take the “pre” helmet back off and cut out the eye and mouth holes. Put helmet back on child to see how it looks and make any adjustments as necessary (bigger eye holes, shorter helmet length, etc). To complete the helmet, use the duct tape to make the top by closing up the top hole. Tape the top and then from the inside cover the sticky side with more tape so that you won’t be ripping out any hair when the helmet inevitably comes off later in the evening.

What we loved about it:
•It was so simple and pretty easy to make. If mistakes were made, they were easily fixed.
•It was so cheap! We had all the materials on hand, which is the best kind of project, in my opinion.
•It was so fun!

What we would improve for the next time:
•The armor: We would have loved to put a symbol on the armor but since it was last a minute creation, we were pressed for time. I would also like to try creating a fabric-based armor best time so that it would be more comfortable and movable.
•The shield: We should have painted both sides of the shield and adjusted the handles. The way Elise held the shield most of the time made it just look like cardboard and you missed out on the other awesome-looking side.

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Weekend Wrapup Wednesday: Virginia is for Girls Trips

IMG_1044.JPG What happens when you get 3 long time friends together? That’s right – a girls trip!

This time the trip was filled to the brim with activities – the beach, DC, baseball game, the Smithsonian and lots of delicious food, food, food.

IMG_1049.JPG The Highlights:

Virginia Beach – We arrived there late Thursday night and took a beach walk to the pier. The moon cast a beautiful, eeiry glow on the water and the laughter of teenagers enjoying the last of their summers filled the air. When we arrived back to the hotel, we were disappointed to find out that a very large portion of the beach was “banned” from wading and swimming due to higher than normal levels of bacteria. After we got over the ick factor, we realized we would need to go only a few blocks south to be able to swim in the safe areas of the water.

The next day, we spent our time lounging on the beach, talking about weddings and sipping on some crazy vodka-coke concoctions.

DC: Saturday morning we ventured to DC, checked into our hotel and made our way to the metro. I somehow become the metro guide (probably because I was carrying the metro map, but I’d like to think it was because I have so much experience navigating the  Paris metro) and landed ourselves right beside the Nationals baseball stadium with a fair amount of ease. We made it to the stadium with lots of time to spare so once they opened the gates we did a couple laps to explore our food and beverage options. Let me just say, the beer was absurdly expensive, but, dear me, there was so much time to kill – and come to find out, I really can’t concentrate on baseball, like not.at.all. So I may have had one or two too many overpriced drinks by the end of the night. And oh yeah, the home team won in the 9th inning, just by a hair. 

The next day we visited the Smithsonian Musuem of American History. My fave had to be the Emancipation Proclomation exhibit that gave a brief but inspirational history of slavery, emancipation and the march on Washington in 1963. The original Star-Spangled Banner was also on display and a very large, seemingly endless exhibit on transportation in America. Afterwards, we had lunch with a college buddy of mine and her husband at the Elephant and Castle, which had the most fluffy, salty, perfect pretzels ever.

But eventually the fun had to end and we had to make our way back home. Good times were had, good stories were told and new ones were made.

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Note: During much of our “down” time we ended up playing this ridiculously fun game called Heads Up. If you haven’t played it, download it now, grab a friend and get ready for a ton of tears-inducing laughter.

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Eating Healthy & Saving Moolah on Vacation

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Today I head to Virginia to hang out with some high school buddies and have a fabulous ladies trip to the beach and DC. While I’m totally psyched to have this time to hang out and catch up with old friends, I’m also a wee bit nervous about my spendings since I’m unemployed and starting to feel the financial crunch. I would’ve tried to reschedule it but we’ve been planning this trip for months and so it just didn’t feel right.

But in an effort to cut down on my spendings (which will mostly be gas and food), I’ve decided to make a bunch of food that I can take with me so that I will be able to order less food when we invariably go out to eat.

On my ladies trip to the beach a month ago, I got some pretty good practice at making travel-worthy, healthy, easy food. My advice? When in doubt, cook some meat that is yummy cold (like pork tenderloin) and prep some hard veggies and fruit. Here’s what I’m taking on this go round:

•Massaged Kale salad
GF bread for sandwiches 
•Bell peppers (red are my favorite for snacking!)
•Homemade black bean hummus
•Apples (Granny Smiths are great!)
•Almond butter
•Yogurt + granola
•Mango+banana bars from Trader Joes
•Lots of water 

What kind of healthy, whole food fuels you when you’re on the go? Do you have any tried and true tricks that you use? I’d love to hear about them!

See you on the road!
<3

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Reflection Friday: On Ideas, Creation & Showing Off

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I have been struggling with the process of idea to action to publication. Does that ever happen to you? You have a great idea (or what seems great in your head) and you know you’ve got to do it. You even have the energy to make sure you have all the tools to make the idea a reality and so you start making it.

You think – awesome! I’m doing it!

But then you get stuck. You’ve thought of it, created it, maybe even taken pictures of it and now you’re thinking – what now?

Maybe you start jotting down a few lines of text that would go along with this creation, but your flow just doesn’t seem right or your written voice sounds more robotic than what you actually sound like. Sound familiar?

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I think a lot of writers, bloggers and makers go thru this, but don’t talk about it enough. To us, those other bloggers seem to create awesome, relatable, yet aesthetically pleasing content on the daily (or what feels like daily) and you’re left feeling like a poser – like how in the world can you create some awesome stories? Why does it take you so long and why do you struggle so much with getting these awesome stories and ideas out of your head and out for the rest of the world to see and be inspired?

No? Yes? Sometimes? Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t believe that. Or maybe, reader, you’re just a reader, or a creator, and not a look at me, look at me person who feels like they should be showing off to the world what they are doing, making and loving on the regular.

Well, that’s how I often feel, dear reader, like I’m trying to show something off the world, but I’m not so certain what I should be “showing off”. Sometimes that feeling is stronger than others, and sometimes it’s just my ego making me doubt myself.

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How do I get to the other side? By simply working through those feelings and start writing. Write, write and write a little more. Look over it. It may not be perfect, but no one is, so to at least some extent it is reflective of you. Accept it and move and continue to create and write. Keep on doing it and you’ll get to the other side.

My mantra to myself and you for today, friends: Accept, continue and you’ll get there.
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Awesome Things Thursday

In an effort to be more organized with what I’m posting here, I am testing out some “themes” for each day of the (work) week. And for Thursdays, I am thinking of posting my (mostly) regular mish mash of things and links I’m digging. So here’s a little list of what I’m digging, reading listening to, and testing out this week (long story short, it’s pretty much all Design Sponge):

20140731-121914-44354480.jpgA perfect healthy treat or breakfast dish

20140731-122442-44682437.jpg I was literally about to email Grace Bonney proposing a blog post about my hometown of Asheville, but it looks like Macon York beat me to it. Dang

20140731-122809-44889557.jpg Some cute DIY marbled coasters

20140731-122957-44997455.jpg Pretty much everything Jess Lively writes and says is awesome and inspirational. I listen to her podcasts regularly and am totally obsessed with her latest intention tattoo launch.

And speaking of bloggers who I love to listen to via podcast, Grace Bonney of Design Sponge is another one that fits that bill. The podcast I listened to yesterday about turning jealousy into inspiration was, well, inspiring. 

I hope you’re having an inspirational and awesome week, y’all!
<3

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Eat This: Oven Dried Tomatoes

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Although we are growing tomatoes in our container garden and we have been picking them off slowly (and usually devouring them raw with a salad or a la carte over the sink), we haven’t had such a tremendous bounty that we have needed to find ways to use them or preserve them.

Despite this fact, I made a batch of oven-dried tomatoes. I adore the sweetness of the sun-dried ones you can buy from the grocery store, and I even adore the texture. This batch that I made, actually came from a bushel that my parents bought and split with us. When we got them, there were already some that were getting soft, so I thought that this would make the perfect opportunity excuse to try my hand at oven roasting them.

I searched around Pinterest and found this recipe that seemed simple enough – no dehydrator necessary (just what I like!). I modified the recipe a wee bit by adding some of our garden-fresh basil and rosemary. And I have to tell you folks, these were so good that they were literally gone by the end of the night (which is saying something because they took nearly all day to “cook”):

Oven Dried Tomatoes (based upon Cook Like a Champion’s recipe)

  • Tomatoes (I used about 3-4 and they made 2 baking sheets full)
  • Coarse salt
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh herbs of your choice

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to lowest temperature possible. (Usually around 170ºF.)
  2. Wash and dry tomatoes, then slice them thinly as possible.
  3. Place on a foiled baking sheet cut side up.
  4. Sprinkle with salt, then drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Place herbs on top of tomatoes.
  6. Bake for 8-12 hours. (This will depend largely on the size of your tomatoes and what temperature you choose to bake them.) The tomatoes should be flexible with curled edges, and no juice should run out when you press on them.
  7. Cool on racks. Once completely cooled, store tomatoes in an airtight container in the pantry or freezer. (Or eat them all in one setting, you know, whichever you prefer).

I still have plenty of tomatoes leftover and plan on making another batch, but this time I will make sure they stick around a bit longer – maybe.

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