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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wacky Wednesday #75—Christmas Tree Hat

Surprise! I’m back with another blog post, even though last week I threatened to take a two week break from blogging. But you see, I came across some battery-operated lights at home, and they demanded to be worn and before I knew it, I was repurposing a Wacky Wednesday hat from a few months back…into a Christmas tree!

Last week I felt ready to take a break from costumes for a couple of weeks. I had zero intention of making something to wear today. But yesterday I had an unsettling realization. I noticed that I’d posted blogs 49 times in 2016, and somehow this did not sit well with me. That number felt anticlimactic. Unfinished. 50 sounded like a complete set, so I decided I could squeeze out one more post this calendar year. Yep, I know that’s a strange reason for posting, but hey, I’m being honest, and my strangeness is just one of the reasons you love me!

It took only fifteen minutes to turn this hat into its current incarnation. Usually I glue my costumes and hats but this one is intended to be temporary and under those circumstances, duct tape is an excellent solution: fast and strong, but temporary. I felt victorious. With only fifteen minutes I’d created a tall, festive hat, and since all supplies used were already on hand, this cost $0 to create. I did a Christmas happy dance.

And then the photo session began. That’s when the trouble started. Apparently it’s an airtight law of the universe that when your costume only takes 15 minutes to make, capturing it in a photo takes a zillion hours. Sigh. The first photos weren’t bad, but I felt like they didn’t capture how bright the lights were. So I took some photos in a darkened room. All were annoyingly blurry. I attempted to persuade one of my kids to take my photo. Major resistance. Then I decided that I didn’t like the way the lights were spaced on the tree so I took it apart and started again. I made the room darker to showcase the lights. More blurry photos. I set up the camera in a new spot and promptly tripped over a big crate I’d forgotten I’d left on the floor. “SON OF A REINDEER!” I shrieked with frustration. Next came photos with the tip of the tree cut off. Photos with the right side of the tree missing. I glared at my camera and through clenched teeth growled, “You piece of candy cane!” Finally I had a few photos I could use, but at what cost? I was exhausted, as though I’d given birth to a six-foot tall Santa, complete with beard and hat.

Yet the show must go on. And now that I’m sitting down again, downloading photos, I feel fine. Here are a few photos that (kind of) capture the magic of my Christmas Tree Hat. 

Hey—anybody have a sleigh and reindeer I can borrow?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wacky Wednesday #74—Twelve Days of Christmas

I love a good story. Writing one. Reading one. Or wearing one.

Today’s dress is a story—a song you can wear.

Many people are familiar with the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” but in case you are not, here is a brief description. The song tells about different presents given each day for twelve days. The tune repeats and it is simultaneously sweet and funny (especially if you forget which line comes next, as I often do). Months ago I decided that in December I would create a dress illustrating all the gifts given for twelve days.

I drew and/or painted all the images for this dress, but I have to admit I took a shortcut. I Googled “pipers piping” and some images showed bagpipers and others showed musicians with horns. By that time I just didn’t have it in me to create eleven sets of bagpipes! So I have elevens “pipers” with instruments. And don’t get me started on twelve drummers drumming.

Below are photos of everything on my dress.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

…twelve drummers drumming…

…eleven pipers piping…


…ten lords a-leaping…

 ...nine ladies dancing…


…eight maids a-milking…
…seven swans a-swimming…
…six geese a-laying…

...five gold rings!

…four calling birds…


 …three French hens…


…two turtle doves…

…and a partridge in a pear tree…

While doing research for this blog post, I found a charming version of the song done by the late John Denver and the Muppets, in 1979. This playful crew of animals makes everything better.

(Spoiler alert: at some point I will devote an entire blog post to the fabulous and fierce, the bold and sassy, the one and only Miss Piggy.)

Here is the Muppets’ rendition of this song.

It is likely that I will take off the next two Wednesdays from costumes and/or blogging, but I’ll be back the first Wednesday of January.

Until then, Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you from this wacky-dressing, Muppet-loving gal.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wacky Wednesday #73—Paint Deck

You are what you wear, as the famous saying goes.

What’s that? This isn’t how the famous saying goes?

In any case, I am a painter and I am wearing paint swatches today.
This idea came to me months ago when my artist friends Jeanne and John gave me some art supplies they no longer needed, including two paint decks. (Thanks, J + J!) I immediately saw the potential to turn a deck into a dress. I’m using my favorite colors from the deck, which are the brightest, most colorful ones, rather than all the serious greys and beiges. Bright colors make me happy. If you feel happy in your clothes, your day is more likely to go well. (Wearing paper is not the most comfortable thing ever, but color wins this week!)

By the way, does this outfit make you want to race to your nearest paint store and buy quart after quart of happy colors and paint accent walls different colors all over your house, until it looks as colorful as a candy store? ME TOO!
Happy painting…

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wacky Wednesday # 72—Bubble Wrap

Curious about how and when bubble wrap was invented? It happened in 1957 when inventors Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes tried to create 3-d plastic wallpaper. Eventually their idea morphed into the wrapping material that packs a pop.

Months ago I started saving bubble wrap in preparation for today’s outfit. There are many kinds. Big bubbles. Small bubbles. Green bubbles. Purple bubbles! Clear bubble wrap is standard but it actually comes in at least twelve colors. Did you know that the bubbles come in heart shapes in Italy and Mickey Mouse shapes in Japan? What—are we in the Dark Ages here in the USA? We want shapes, too!

But hey, even the plain old circles are packed with fun if, like me, you enjoy popping them. Of course, popping them takes away their power to cushion whatever you’re wrapping. But that satisfying pop may be worth it.

Another fun fact: the last Monday of January is Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day. If I’d known this before yesterday I might have saved today’s outfit for January. But it was too late to come up with another outfit for today. Last week was Thanksgiving and I was nonstop busy so it didn’t occur to me to check whether there was an official day to honor bubble wrap. Silly me…

Today’s costume came together with a little hot glue (60 cents worth), and since I was reusing bubble wrap I found or already had, that part was free.

As I walked around town today people told me that they liked this outfit, and several people asked to pop a bubble (including a stranger). Of course, I said, “Yes,” since it would be cruel to flaunt the bubbles without allowing popping. It’s impossible to resist.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Recipe for Thanksgiving


I’ll admit it: I’m procrastinating. There is cleaning to be done before guests arrive at my house for Thanksgiving. And I’m finding other (very important) things that must be done before cleaning. Like teaching myself Mandarin Chinese. This skill could be useful for decades to come, whereas a clean house will become unclean within hours. Therefore learning another language is a more responsible choice than cleaning!

Cleaning is just not my favorite thing. I’ve put off certain cleaning tasks in the last week because I told myself that the kids would undo any cleaning efforts I’d made—in a matter of seconds!—so what was the point? But whether I like it or not, the instinct to declutter before guests arrive is simply part of hosting a holiday.

So I’ve decided to take my feet-dragging attitude toward cleaning and find the useful kernel hidden inside the mess. I’m blogging about it today, since many Americans are in the same position I am—finding things to read on the Internet rather than cleaning their homes. Hey—we’ll stuff two birds with one post. I’ll write, you’ll read. Procrastination multitasking. Symbiosis.

In truth, today’s blog post has been forming in my head for the last week. I had three moments inside of twenty four hours that pointed to my internal battle about cleaning and holiday preparation. They rolled themselves into a Thanksgiving recipe, but not in the usual sense. There’s nothing to measure. Nothing to eat afterward. But also, no dirty dishes waiting at the end. This is my playful recipe not for the perfect Thanksgiving, but for a happy gathering. Pressuring ourselves to achieve perfection only results in anxiety beforehand and letdown afterward. But we can aim for a happy Thanksgiving.

This is the time of year when many magazine covers feature the annoyingly named “picture perfect” holiday meals: glossy, golden turkeys, glistening side dishes, kids with clean faces. I’m throwing down the gauntlet and suggesting that this pressure for perfection poisons the experience. I’m going to refuse to feel pressured, and focus on having a good time instead.

The first inspiration for my Thanksgiving recipe came one afternoon last week when I was in a store, waiting in line at the register. In front of me was a man with a service dog. Just as someone got in line behind me, I realized that the dog had gas. I’ve never had a dog but even I know that man’s best friend sometimes has the worst gas. Ever. There I was, sandwiched between a stinky dog and another customer. My immediate reaction was to hope that the person behind me didn’t think that I was responsible for the smell. Within a second I plotted my two options. I could turn to the person behind me and jokingly warn about Fido’s fierce farts. But would my explanation look like a cover up? Sure, blame the dog. He can’t defend himself. Shoot--I was in a pickle. The other option was to ignore the matter and hope that Fido soon left the building. I went with that choice. Because even if the customer behind me blamed me for the aroma, was it the end of the world? No. I vowed to worry only about what’s really important. Since I wasn’t actually shopping for The Big Day, you may wonder what this story has to do with Thanksgiving. Don’t worry. I’m getting to get to that.

The second piece of today’s recipe formed the following morning, when I asked an acquaintance about his Thanksgiving plans. He said that his family’s Thanksgiving tradition came about by accident one year when plans to go to someone’s house fell through at the last minute. There were no more turkeys available so they made lasagna instead. Now it’s their annual Thanksgiving meal.

The third piece of this post fell into place later the same morning, when I was at the pharmacy and joked with a woman about the cleaning I needed to do before Thanksgiving. She said, “Oh, I know how you feel. You want it to look perfect.” To which I replied, “Actually, no. I just want it to look slightly better than it does right now!” We laughed, but I realized I was serious, too. Sure, before the guests appear I could do all the deep cleaning I don’t like doing. I could go crazy with scrubbing and dusting and end up with a massive allergy attack and a short fuse as the guests arrive. Or I could tidy up somewhat and say, “That’s good enough.” Some might call it a cop-out but I’m calling it Sanity Prevention. My being in a good mood will relax my guests and they’ll feel more comfortable, which beats my being an exhausted, grouchy host with a spotless house.

My “worry less” approach is not one I’ve had my whole life. For many years I pressured myself to be perfect, and not to make mistakes. I wanted to be loved and not to be judged as lacking. But all the pressure I put on myself didn’t end up in my feeling happy. It made me anxious and ruined the fun of whatever I was trying to do. So I’ve broken up with perfection and I’m applying what I’ve learned to Thanksgiving. A happy holiday shouldn’t be about the spotless house, festive decorations or the quest for the perfect dinner. I think it should be about enjoying the day. And if you’re aiming for perfection you’re weighted down by pressure. Where’s the enjoyment in that?

So let me bring together my three ingredients in my recipe for a good Thanksgiving:

1)      If a dog farts in a checkout line and no one hears it, don’t worry that you’ll be blamed. Save energy for what matters. Likewise, don’t worry about impeccable table settings, the “perfect” turkey, ideal side dishes and flawless desserts. Just aim for good and don’t give yourself an ulcer in the quest for the Holy Grail.

2)      If your turkey gets too dry, don’t fret. Call the main dish Authentic Turkey Jerky. Laugh about it. And fill up on side dishes. Or make lasagna.

3)      Don’t make yourself miserable agonizing about whether your home is dust-free, polished to perfection and company-ready. Our enjoyment of Thanksgiving has nothing to do with the house looking like a glossy magazine photo.

Recipe aside, if nothing else, I hope this story has given you a laugh. In my mind, humor is probably the most important ingredient in any celebration. I wish you a beautifully imperfect, laughter-filled, memorable, happy Thanksgiving…

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wacky Wednesday #71—Falling Leaves


I’ll be honest—I feel slightly guilty for doing a WW post that is similar (in concept and name) to one I did a year ago. So let’s just get that out there. An almost-repeat feels weird for someone who strives for originality. Last November I did WW accessories made of leaves I’d painted, whereas today’s leaves are silk. Different enough? Who knows? But hey, I’m human and it’s going to be okay.

And now to the outfit. Today I’m wearing silk leaves I found at a garage sale several months back. On a broiling summer morning it felt odd to buy fall leaves, but we scavengers find our inspirations when and where they are, regardless of season.

Total spent: $1. 50 (leaves plus hot glue sticks)

And maybe it’s okay to do near repeats of costumes. Fall leaves are gorgeous and finding them inspirational is a natural nature. Also tucked into this outfit are a few leaves I found on the ground in front of my neighbor’s house. Adding genuine imitation leaves to genuine leaves—best of both worlds.
Of course, the irony is that in San Diego we’ve had 90-degree days even in the last week so it’s not feeling fallish in the way you might think (dropping temperatures, hot drinks, fireplaces burning logs, sweaters coming out of their hibernation). The leaves may be falling--yet my ceiling fan has been spinning for weeks.
But today, it’s twenty degrees cooler than it was earlier this week. Who knew I had the power to influence temperatures? As the famous saying goes, if you wear fall, it will arrive. (Or maybe it was a saying about building something, but let’s not get sidetracked…)
Whether you spend next week with a hot drink or one filled with ice—with snow or in the surf-- wherever you are, have a beautiful fall and a happy Thanksgiving….

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Wacky Wednesday #70—Lily Pads

This costume started with bath time.

A few months back I found a rubber frog bath toy given to us when the kids were smaller. It sparked an idea: me, covered in lily pads, with a frog or two.

Slowly the idea changed and I’m not wearing the frog, as originally planned. The focus is the lily pads. But soon the plan grew from just lily pads to lotus and lily (which sounds like the name of a boutique). Making lotus flowers would be a fun challenge, I thought. These flowers are pretty, but I also like their symbolism: flowers emerging from murky water, somehow fresh and clean, signifying rebirth and enlightenment.
Can you see me in the photo below? It’s taken from above. The pink lotus flower is on my head.
I created the lily pads from rectangles of green foam, which I cut and painted with acrylic paint. The flowers are made of paper and felt, which I had in my craft stash. My oversized necklace is made of approximately twenty lily pads. Total spent: $2.

Unfortunately, it’s H-O-T today (92 degrees) in San Diego, where my lily pads and I are anchored. So I’ve been suffering for my art, walking around in a foam outfit that traps heat a little too efficiently on a warm day.

Maybe it’s a sign that I need to fully immerse myself in the lily pad experience, and sink into a shallow pool of water. So for my next trick, I will turn my bathtub into a lily pond….

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween 2016: Lucy Van Pelt and all the Advice you can Take!

Pass the peanuts. Charles M. Schulz’ comic The Peanuts, that is.


Today I am dressed as Lucy, the famous know-it-all, and her Psychiatric Help booth.

Side note: I don’t like how bossy Lucy is such a bully. My dressing as Lucy doesn’t condone meanness. But as far as funny, iconic Halloween costumes go—this one had real appeal. And so I set to work.

For Lucy’s booth I dug out a huge cardboard box I’d saved. It was from the water heater we had to replace a while back. Note: one of the only benefits of having to buy a new water heater is that the giant box it comes in is big enough to make a booth to wear at Halloween. Getting hot water again is nice, too, of course. Having the old water heater flood the garage? Not so nice. But back to costumes.

As I do for many of my costumes, I hit the thrift store for a dress. Finding a dress similar to what Lucy wore was a bit of a challenge. Thrift stores offer a charmingly bizarre combination of ‘80s power suits, sparkly club wear and vintage mumus. Finding an adult-sized solid-colored, puffed-sleeve dress a child would have worn in the 60s was a tall order.

But I found a long red dress, which I bought, brought home, and promptly cut up. I shortened the dress, and made a Peter Pan color from scraps from my stash. Next I created some puffed sleeves from the excess red material and put some lace on the front and a zipper in the back. Didn’t have time to fashion Saddle shoes, but hey, I’m only human.

The dress--before its makeover....
Rounding out the effect is my pal, Charlie Brown (aka Blockhead). As Lucy, I’m bestowing my sage advice upon him because I am, after all, two weeks older than he is, which means I know everything. Obviously.

Please note that I had to update my rate from five cents to five dollars.

Inflation, baby.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

All in the Family

What’s it like growing up in a family of twelve? Busy.

Or so I’d guess. I grew up with one sister, so how would I know? Today’s post is a Q and A with someone who knows exactly what it’s like to grow up in a big family. My friend Diane is one of ten siblings. When I discovered this fact, questions instantly ricocheted around my brain. I had to know more, so I announced to Diane that I was going to interview her, and sweetheart that she is, she agreed.

Sarah: You grew up in a family of ten siblings. Where were you in the lineup?

Diane: I am one of three girls, and we have seven brothers. I was born seventh.

S: Your parents married young, and started their family the following year. Tell me about their early years.

D: My parents, Robert and Norma, married soon after my mom’s high school graduation. Mom was still seventeen and Dad was twenty. Their first child arrived when Mom and Dad were eighteen and twenty-one. In the next seventeen years they had a total of ten kids. The closest siblings in age are my older brother and me, and we are thirteen months apart, to the day.

S: When did your parents move into the house in which you grew up?

D: When my oldest brothers were small, my parents moved into their house in Paradise Hills, a neighborhood in southeast San Diego. My dad was a mechanical engineer at Rohr. My mom worked when her first kids were young. Once the family became larger she stopped working outside the home until we were much older. Although my parents didn’t come from big families, large families were not unusual in Paradise Hills in the 1960s and 70s. We knew families in our area with thirteen or sixteen kids or more. To us, a family with only five or six kids was small!

S: What was your neighborhood like when you were a child?

D: When I was very small, the neighborhood was mostly Caucasian, but as I grew a little older there was a lot of cultural diversity. We kids had friends of various nationalities, and we liked the diversity. My parents lived in the same house for more than thirty years, and they were quite friendly with their neighbors throughout the time there. Although our family does not own that house anymore, one of my sisters lives two doors away from our childhood home.

S: The house you grew up in was approximately 1,000 square feet, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Who slept where?

D: My two sisters and I always shared a bedroom. My parents had a room, and some of my brothers shared another room. Eventually we needed another bedroom so the garage was converted into a fourth bedroom, where four of my brothers slept in two sets of bunk beds.

S: Your neighbors helped convert the garage into a bedroom.

D: Yes, one neighbor was an architect, and drew up the plans to convert the garage. Another neighbor was an engineer, like my dad, and they worked together to turn the garage into a new bedroom. Many neighbors helped. It was that kind of neighborhood. Neighbors always helped one another.

S: Still, even with an additional bedroom, it was a full house. One man I met from a family of fourteen said they ate dinner in shifts. How did all of you manage mealtimes, and all the ins and outs of daily life?

D: Breakfast was usually a quick meal. We each packed our own lunches for school. All of us had chores, mostly driven by our ages. Before dinner, the younger kids peeled potatoes and carrots. Older siblings were allowed to cut vegetables. Mom delegated and she did the cooking, and as we became older she taught us to cook. Dad cooked, too. Whoever was home at dinner time sat and ate. We had a big horseshoe-shaped booth and whoever was home sat there for dinner. My older siblings reheated dinner when they came back from sports practice.

S: What about other chores?

D: In our house, when you turned twelve, you entered into the dish-washing rotation. I hated washing dishes! There were always so many dishes, and big pots, too. You could trade which day you did dishes, but no one got out of doing dishes. Eventually we got a dishwasher, which made a difference.

S: Speaking of cooking, grocery shopping must have been a frequent activity. Your family grew up in the 1950s and 60s, and Costco didn’t open in San Diego until 1983. Bulk buying wasn’t the option that is today. Did your mom shop daily?

D: We did go to the store regularly, and we always went in teams of at least two, since we needed two shopping carts. Sometimes my parents went grocery shopping together at night, as kind of a date night. But we were fortunate to have my grandparents nearby, and they had a huge garden at home, so we got a lot of vegetables from them. We considered ourselves lower-middle class—we weren’t wealthy—but we always had enough to eat. Occasionally we’d go to a restaurant, and I remember the Mexican restaurant near our house. To this day I measure all Mexican food against that place.

S: Did your family have a washer/dryer at home? Were these machines running 24/7?

D: Yes! Once you were in high school you were expected to do your own laundry.

S: Not only did your parents raise their ten kids, but at times there were also friends living with your family.

D: Yes, there often was an extra boy or two living with us. If a friend was going through a rough patch at home, my parents opened up our house to our friends.

S: Wow. They had big hearts. They died young but they made an impact while they were living.

D: My dad died at age forty-five, when I was thirteen. He’d had heart problems. Mom died at fifty-two. Both were amazing. They had tons of patience, and they had great senses of humor.

S: You are an involved, patient mom of two. Do you approach parenting in some of the ways your parents did?

D: My parents were more patient than I am. I guess they had to be! But yes, the two biggest lessons I learned from them were to be patient, and to try to find a way to laugh about the tough things in life. They were encouraging and always supportive. Even when they were mad at us, we always felt loved.

S: With ten kids, how did your family celebrate birthdays?

D: Growing up, we celebrated each child’s birthday, sometimes with a party, sometimes with a family dinner at home with cake. Once we were older we started gathering monthly to celebrate all birthdays in that month.

S: Do any of your siblings have their own large families now?

D: The most any of us has is four kids.

S: How many of the ten siblings still live in this area?

D: Seven of us do. Some of us get together regularly to play low-stakes poker. We play nickel-dime-quarter. I actually learned to play when I was a child, so this is not only fun, but it’s also a connection to the family in which I was raised.

S: Are there other special items or traditions that have been passed down through the family?

D: Two stories come to mind. The first is funny. When I was small Mom made meatloaf a lot, but it wasn’t something I liked. Oddly, my sister makes meatloaf now, using the very same recipe Mom used--and I love my sister’s meatloaf! The second story is about my mom’s china. She had service for twelve, which my parents spent years collecting. When Mom passed away my older sister inherited the china and she enjoyed using it for years. But she recently gave it to me. I’m looking forward to using it for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and one day I’ll pass on my mom’s china to my daughter.

S: It’s a common belief that the youngest child gets away with more than the oldest, or that rules became more relaxed over time. Did this seem true in your family?

D: My older brothers remember our parents being stricter with them, although my parents believed they parented each of us the same way!

S: I’m interested in birth order and how it shapes each person’s personality. But birth order stereotypes only go so far when there are eight middle children.

D: Yes. Middle kids are often peacemakers. Sometimes I fit the peacemaker role but other times it wasn’t me. The dynamic shifted a lot as we grew. 

S: Were all the kids expected to share toys and clothes with siblings? Were there items that clearly were yours—ones that you were not urged to share?

D: Most things were shared but we each had some things that were our own. You learned to find a safe spot to put something special. When we were teens, my sisters and I shared clothes and shoes. We each had our own but sharing was an affordable way to triple our wardrobe.

S: What were the biggest challenges in a family of twelve? Was getting individual attention hard?

D: Actually, my parents somehow found a way to give each of us regular one-on-one attention. I never felt lost in the shuffle. All of us kids did sports, and at least one of our parents made a point to watch at least part of each of our games. The biggest challenges in a family of our size were practical issues like getting shower time, or a ride to practice, or access to the washing machine.

S: How does a family of twelve keep things organized? I misplace things regularly and I have three kids—not ten! Were you parents really tidy?

D: Certain things needed to be put back exactly in their place—like Dad’s tools. With a lot of other things we just did what we could. You were responsible for your own things, but there were plenty of mornings when someone couldn’t find their shoes!

S: Getting a lot of kids out the door to school each morning must have been a challenge. Was your school walking-distance?

D: Yes. We walked a lot. School was nearby. Baseball practice was walking-distance. High school wasn’t close enough to walk to but as kids we walked a lot or rode bikes.
S: I did a little research about large families (defined as having six or more children). Online, there are a lot of theories about kids from large families being at a disadvantage (especially as far as parents’ attention and finances). But one article online pointed out that children in large families have notable advantages. They learn cooperation at an early age (as compared with children in smaller families) because they must learn to get along with many siblings. Children in large families learn responsibility for themselves and often for younger brothers and sisters. These children also tend to have an easier time adapting to change. ( Do you think you are flexible in terms of change?

D: Yes. I do think I’m adaptable to change and I know it’s because we had to be flexible. From the very beginning we learned to compromise, to share and to get along.

S: What are other advantages of being part of a large family?

D: We always had a playmate around. There was always someone to help you if you needed it. Sometimes the disadvantages annoyed me: like my older siblings making me play games they wanted to play. But the advantages far outweighed the challenges. There was a lot of camaraderie. My brothers also taught us girls to play sports and we became good because we were practicing with bigger, more experienced kids.

S: What is your favorite memory of growing up in your family?

D: Christmas holds happy, funny memories. Our extended family always came to our house, and everyone piled in. Our dad came up with a tradition for opening Christmas gifts. He’s start with the youngest child, who was required to sing a few lines from a Christmas song before being allowed to open a present. Then, the second youngest would sing part of a different Christmas song before getting to open a gift. And so on. Everyone had to sing a different Christmas song, and this became funnier with each child as we tried to think of a song that hadn’t been sung yet. I think Dad devised this plan to slow things down on Christmas, so that it wasn’t just complete chaos. His tradition forced us to focus on one thing at a time and while it took ages to get through the gifts, there was something fun and special about the system, too. Life was hectic at times, absolutely. But I have many happy memories of growing up in my family….


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wacky Wednesday #69—DVDs

“Oh, I have nothing to wear!” This declaration has been made (mostly) by women, dating back to the days of cavemen and women, when one cavewoman grunted her refusal to wear last year’s animal skin.
The solution? Wear some blank DVDs.

The perks of wearing DVDs:

1)      No one else at the party will be wearing the same outfit as you. (Probably.)

2)      They are lightweight.

3)      Metallic goes with everything.

4)      Pet hair doesn’t stick to them.

5)      They can be worn before or after Labor Day.

6)      If someone says you’re look is “too 90s,” you say confidently, “Yes, in a good way.”

7)      DVDs can be dressed up or down. Add running shoes to wear them to a park. Add high heels for more formal occasions. Easily goes from a day to night look.

8)      Excellent conversation starter, should you need one.

9)      Moths can’t eat this outfit.

10)   PETA won’t hassle you for wearing plastic.

Today’s outfit has its origins a few months ago, when I walked past my neighbor’s blue recycling can. The lid was open and I saw a stack of black DVDs inside. They weren’t movies. They were the rewritable DVDs people use for storing data. At least he was trying to recycle, I thought. But these DVDs silently screamed to me, “Make us over! Rescue us!” And you know I can’t ignore materials begging me to turn them into wearable art.

There was a wardrobe malfunction when some of the DVDs fell from my necklace. This meant that I had to use them as an accessory until I could glue them back to the others. Upside: fun shadows.

And so here I am today, wearing shiny silver discs and feeling like a walking, talking disco ball (in a good way, of course). Office supplies are a lot more exciting than you think.

But I draw the line at wearing staples…

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wacky Wednesday #68—Caution Tape

That’s the message in what I’m wearing today: caution tape.

Different colors of barricade tape indicate different hazards. Yellow tape is used to caution against trip hazards and low hanging objects. This is delightfully ironic as I trip over my own shadow and I am a hazard to my own health! I’m quite accident-prone, constantly banging into things. Could this date back to my first year, when I learned to walk after crawling only briefly? It’s believed that babies who crawl longer develop better spatial awareness, and I am lacking in that department. Or could it be that I am thinking of so many ideas at once and don’t think to look up or down? Either way, I’d do better if the whole world were padded and draped in caution tape.

I have no idea how this idea planted itself in my brain but I jotted it down months ago and ever since then I’ve been collecting caution tape from trees and parks and places where caution tape was used. I don’t take it when it’s still blocking off areas, only when it’s clearly been left behind. You can buy a giant roll of this tape but that doesn’t interest me. I like collecting found objects, and recycling things headed to the dump. Or making my own.

Here’s the cost breakdown on today’s costume:

Caution tape found in public spaces                                       $      0

Yellow plastic tape (on clearance at the 99 cent store)      $   .40

Black clothing worn under the tape (already had)               $      0

Hot glue sticks                                                                             $   .20

Pipe cleaners for hat                                                                  $   .20

Sharpie                                                                                         $ 1.00
Total                                                                                             $ 1.80

I don’t know whether my message of caution is intended for others, or as a reminder to myself, or is just a fun effect with lots of contrast and surprise factor. Maybe all of the above. A win-win-win.

It took me hours to decorate this parking lot to match my outfit, but it was worth it....