This year we went as characters from the movie The Greatest Showman. I was the bearded lady, Derek was the ringmaster, Lillian was the acrobat, Arthur was the strong man and Alan was the small man dressed as Napoleon. I feel like our costumes turned out great and you can read on to see how I pulled it all together!
The ringmaster costume was easy. Derek already has a top hat and cane as well as black pants and boots and a white shirt so, I just ordered him a jacket from Amazon. It looked great and was cheap. Done.
My costume was also relatively easy. I thought I would luck out and find a cheap prom dress at Goodwill but that did not work out and I ended up buying a cheap dress on Amazon along with a taffeta underskirt. I already had some flowers for my hair. For the beard, I researched how to apply a fake beard which is surprisingly easy. You can see the video I used here. All I needed was fake hair and spirit gum. Done.
The strong man costume was also pretty quick and easy. I did take a few liberties and went with a more traditional strong man costume, omitting the tattoos because it seemed like a lot of work and I was not feeling it. I purchased his muscle suit, red shorts, and inflatable bar bell on Amazon, drew a mustache on his face with some waterproof eyeliner, slicked his hair back and done. Yes...I know his shoes are on the wrong feet. We are working on that. He just likes them that way. lol.
The acrobat costume took a bit more work. I ordered a leotard, cape and pink wig on Amazon but the cape and leotard needed to be embellished. I went to Hobby Lobby and purchased some gold trim and purple ruffle material and hand sewed them onto the leg holes of the leotard and the neckline. I also glued on gems onto the mesh portion of the neckline. I added the gold to the edge of the cape as well but got lazy there and just hot glued it. I gave her a little bit of pretty makeup and pulled the hair back after attaching it to her head and done.
The Napoleon costume took the most effort. I had to make it entirely from scratch but, it also turned out to be the most awesome one in my opinion. I used a Martha Stewart tutorial as my guide but did make some changes to the steps. I purchased a navy blue long sleeved shirt and cut it down the middle creating a curved edge on both sides. Then, I glued bias tape to the cut edge on both sides. After that, I cut out red felt with angled edges, double layered it and then hot glued it to the neck of the cut shirt. Then, I hot glued little gold buttons on both sides of the cut shirt. To finish off the jacket, I took navy blue felt and created epaulets to which I added some gold fringe and then hot glued those to the shoulders of the shirt. Finally, I followed the Martha Stewart tutorial exactly for the hat using black felt, hot glue and gold trim. I put him in blue pants with blue rain boots and a white button up shirt to finish it off. I did not modify the white shirt because I felt like it was unnecessary and would ruin the shirt for future use.
I was super happy with how all of our costumes turned out this year! I hope you had a great Halloween too!
As you might already know, I am a high school teacher. This week we had parent-teacher conferences on Tuesday and then had Wednesday off so, while sitting in my classroom between parent meetings I worked on a little plan for entertaining my kids and keeping my sanity during our day off together. As always, we didn't finish everything but, we did have a lot of fun that was pretty low effort on my part and extremely inexpensive too! You can print out my plan at the end of this post!
We started the morning with some indoor fun because it was a bit chilly outside. So, I set up an invitation to play with play dough by giving them some spider rings, plastic eyeballs, gems, silk flowers and orange play dough and asked them to make me a monster. You can give them any doo dads you think they might like. I hit up the halloween aisle at Wal-Mart to have a few spooky things like the rings and eyeballs.
After the play dough fun, we headed outside for a little bit of messier play. I set up a container with colored water and googly eyes and placed a few large spoons next to it for them to create an eyeball stew. I also had a pumpkin painting station, pumpkin washing station and a pumpkin hammering station. For the washing station I just filled a container with soapy water and for the hammering station I provided a few small hammers and golf tees. They all enjoyed various areas more than others and they were all entertained for almost two hours!
We also made some boo hand print art and were going to make a monster wreath but, Arthur wasn't interested and wanted to play with play dough more and Lillian didn't want to make a monster wreath. Instead, she made a "pretty" wreath using ribbon and glue. They were happy so I was happy. If we end up with some free time before Halloween I will try to do the activities we didn't have time for and I'll post about it if I do. There are several fun science ones that I couldn't do because I didn't have any vinegar! So be sure to check out the document for those!
We ended the day with a trip to chikfila and I have to say, it was a pretty great day!
Download my very basic but serviceable plan below and enjoy!
It's been a busy and kinda rough last few months. My Mother-in-Law has been very ill and passed away on Friday. My grandfather also passed away only two days before on Wednesday. My husband and I both agreed to put our Valentine's Day on hold but, I knew that I wanted my kids to keep some semblance of normalcy and have a bit of fun to take their mind off of the very heavy things that have happened. Plus, I hoped to involve my Father-in-Law and Sister-in-Law as well to give them something to keep them occupied with the tragedy so fresh and it being the day of love as well as my FiL's 55th birthday.
So, I perused Pinterest for some ideas and decided on a fancy family dinner and for the morning, the kids had a scavenger hunt to find their gifts. Walmart had some pretty legit stuffed animals for only $15 so they received those in their favorite animals, some Valentine's Day themed socks and a package of edible bubbles. (I know, I was unaware this was a thing too. They seem pretty neat.)
For his birthday, my husband had a great idea of gifting his Dad with a giant, ultra, mega Nerf gun and got one for each kid too. This turned out to be the best idea. Even though the joy was brief, there was joy, and his Dad even laughed out loud several times in reaction to my squealing kids running in fear of being pelted with a nerf dart. Everyone enjoyed the dinner and our plan is to have a weekly dinner where they come and have a Nerf battle and an opportunity to be happy for a bit instead of grieving.
The family dinner was such a success that I think we'll do it every year. I made it fun with a sequin table cloth, other decorations, a custom menu and fizzy juice for the kids. I also acted as a waiter, complete with a proper silly voice, for them and let them order off of their menus which they thought was fantastic.
Oh, and I had no idea that I was supposed to send a Valentine's Day box with my son until I picked him up the day before (Usually my husband drops him off and picks him up so the info fell through the cracks.) So, I ended up making a pretty adorable dino box for him. He is obsessed with dinosaurs. When my husband got him to school the next day, he said that most of the kids literally just had a box. Not a decorated one. Just a box. lol. I'm glad I was over-prepared and stressed to make it the night before.
With three kids taking adorable photos can get a bit hard. But, I managed to scrape together a few great ones using my awesome trick of pretty wrapping paper for a background. I dressed the kids in some adorable clothes, bribed them with the promise of candy at the end of the ordeal and quickly captured their adorable little faces with my phone camera before anyone had a meltdown.
I even managed without anyone making silly faces or sounds behind me this time! After selecting my favorites and running them through my favorite photo filter app, Rookie Camera, I ended up with photos that I really like and only cost me some time, a little sanity and $4 for the wrapping paper. Enjoy!
Since I was not looking photo ready during our session, I left the wrapping paper up and captured a few more photos the next day too.
As a Spanish teacher, I always spend the week of Cinco de Mayo teaching my students about the holiday and allowing them to make piñatas. This year instead of paper maché we made paper bag piñatas. They were incredibly easy and gave us more time to learn about Mexican culture and make more crafts. We discussed the history of the sarapé (you might also know it as a poncho) and the sombrero. Then we made some for ourselves to wear during our fiesta! My students, who are ages 15-18 loved the activities and left with a better understanding of the holiday. I also brought the crafts and knowledge home for my kids who also loved them!
If you are one of those people that likes to throw the term "cultural appropriation" around in regards to Americans wearing sombreros on Cinco de Mayo, I have an opinion I'd like to share with you.
Sombreros and sarapés are a part of Mexican history. During the Battle of Puebla (The event that Cinco de Mayo celebrates.) Mexicans actually did wear sombreros and sarapés. Of course they are not part of the general attire now but, we, as Americans don't walk around in Pilgrim garb anymore either. However, we are not offended at Thanksgiving when children dress up like pilgrims. I think that if we teach our children how to respect others culture while learning about it that there is no harm in enjoying that culture. The act of making these items, putting time, effort and care into a project based on the culture of someone else can actually help you understand and appreciate that culture more. Just as with everything, be respectful and develop an understanding of the culture. Don't just steal it and mock it with stereotypical behavior.
If we are always worrying about offending someone by even bringing up the items labelled as "stereotypical" in someone's culture then we may never be able to become comfortable with them or understand them. Opening up the conversation and allowing children to explore and investigate is the only way for them to learn.
Ok, now, if you don't agree then you can stop reading since you probably think I'm a horrible person for making these crafts. Otherwise, keep on to learn how to make the crafts as well as get links to the information I used to teach my students about the holiday and Mexican culture.
Paper Bag Piñata
You will need:
- paper bag
- hole punch
- tissue paper and/or streamers
1. Fill your bag with candy (not too much!) Then fold down the top and staple.
2. Decorate! Use whatever you like! My students got pretty creative and made things varying from a penguin to an emoji!
3. Punch a hole in the top and string it.
4. Bust it! With my students, we hung it in a tree outside of the school. For my kids I just held it out for them. You can also blind fold and spin the hitter for extra fun and cultural appropriateness.
If you want to learn about the art of making piñatas in Mexico you can watch this video.
You will need:
- brown craft paper
- tissue paper and/or streamers
1. Cut a piece of craft paper that is the appropriate width for your torso.
2. Fold in half and cut a half circle. (This will be the neck hole.)
3. Decorate! Some students made a themed sarapé others simply decorated with streamers and tissue paper. Some even added paper flowers. My children used crayons to draw a pattern and color it in.
If you want to learn about the history of the sarapé you can read about it here.
Paper Plate Sombrero
You will need:
- paper plate (I used white to make it easier to decorate but you can use colored ones too.)
- paper cup
- hot glue
- hole punch
- streamers and/or tissue paper, ribbon etc.
1. Hot glue the cup to the plate. The lip of the cup will be glued to the top, center of the plate.
2. Decorate! Some students had streamers dangling down. Others made paper flowers or covered it in streamers and tissue paper.
3. Punch hole in either side and add a string.
If you would like to learn about the history of the sombrero click here.
Thanks for visiting!
Who doesn't love a good excuse for day drinking and getting dressed up?! Ever since the invention of Galentine's Day by our friends at "Parks and Rec" we now have a perfect reason to listen to the Spice Girls, eat yummy food and day drink! I hosted a Galentine's Day party this weekend with a few of my closest friends and you can too!
It doesn't take much to have a fun time with the girls. Simply select a few food items, throw together a photo booth for next to nothing and provide supplies for creating Valentine's.
I decided to make paleo egg cups, breakfast potatoes, vanilla baked donuts, chocolate covered strawberries and a fruit salad. I also had the choice of a raspberry champagne or mango champagne floats (inspired by the raspberry ones using white bubbly and mango sorbet). It was all relatively easy and everyone enjoyed it!
I've been looking for an excuse to purchase a gold sequin tablecloth forever and finally had a perfect excuse! I got it for only $17 on amazon and I'll be able to use it for a million other things in the future. I also picked up some Valentine's flowers at Kroger. Then I sprinkled some fake flower petals and some golden confetti on the table with some red candle holders for the center. My co-host also made a few paper heart cone trees that I added. I purchased a fringe banner and dangled it around the chandelier above the table and that completed the table decor.
For the photo booth I taped a plastic red and white polka dot table cloth on the wall width wise for the background and then printed off these free Photo Booth props and hotglued them to skewer sticks. I also added a few feather boas and some tiaras to the dress up table for extra fun.
I created a Galentine's playlist to listen to while we visited and got crafty. Then I set up a Valentine making table with colored paper, scissors, glue, stickers, pom pom balls and more for us to create Valentine's for our loved ones.
It was a fun excuse to hang with my favorite ladies and I think everyone enjoyed the festivities. Good luck with your party planning and let me know if you use any of my ideas!
I'm always looking for something fun to do with the kids. I stumbled upon the fun idea of using chalk to create scenes and then take photos with the scenes as a backdrop. So, I straight up copied this from someone else but, I thought I'd share my photos and experience.
Drawing the scenes took very little time and the kids were eager to help. I grabbed a ladder and climbed to the top in order to take the pics and didn't really do much editing at all other than cropping them afterwards. It was very quick, easy and cheap. The kids had fun participating and we'll always have the fun photos to look back on!
If you loved my DIY Easy-Change Gallery Wall I thought you might like to see what changes I've made for the Christmas season. (I changed pics and art for Thanksgiving too but didn't post about it.) I decided that a Christmas countdown would be fun and started brainstorming ways to incorporate that into my gallery wall. I decided to buy a chalkboard from Hobby Lobby for 14.99 (I used the 40% off coupon though and got it for about $9!) Then I switched the chalkboard for the framed art that I had anchoring the wall display. I sketched a tree shape out of numbers inside boxes and it was done! I also swapped photos and art for ones with a Christmas theme using some free printables I found on Pinterest and family photos from years past. I love it and still love my easy-change gallery wall. It's so fun to change it with each season!
Last week I posted about my FREE Christmas Mommy Camp for this year. This week I thought I'd share with you some of the fun we had participating in all of the MC activities, art and science. We made soap dough, fake snow, snow paint, played Santa says, made scrub brush paint wreaths, paper plate christmas trees and Santa beards and we learned about how crystals form by making borax crystal ornaments. We didn't even finish all of the activities! So, eventhough it's Christmas Eve and the holidays are alomst over you can still have fun with many of the activities that are not specific to Christmas or you can save it for next year! You can find the FREE Mommy Camp download here! Merry Christmas!
Now that my kids are out for Christmas break I know I'm going to want some things to keep them entertained and maintain my sanity. If you've been following my blog or have checked out my site, you'll see that I've made several Mommy Camps for various holidays as well as the summer. Each time I've made one I've learned how to better organize my information and select the activities. So, eventhough I made one for Christmas last year I decided to make a new one for this year that is both better formatted and contains different activities that will fit my kids better.
I organized the Christmas Mommy Camp into three sections: Art, Science and Activities. To give you options as to what you and your kids do. I've also included links to the original idea/blog post for you to visit if you like. We've already done the Santa's Frozen Glove activity as well as the Fizzy Christmas Science and they were huge successess. My husband was in awe as he watched the excitement on our kids faces while they literally watched ice melt for 45 minutes. So, with just a little planning you can give your kids and yourself some Christmas fun! Download the Mommy Camp Christmas PDF by clicking the image above or the link below and enjoy!
To check out the other fun activities you can find in the FREE download visit this post!
This year I decided to decorate my mantle with a woodland/tree theme. I figured I could easily find different types of trees to make it look rich and diverse. I started with two pre-lit white trees that I already owned and added a garland with gold ribbon and lights that already had as well. Target helped me take care of the rest. They ran a sale on the Saturday after black Friday where you could get $50 off of $100 spent in their Christmas department so I made sure to pick that day for my purchases. I selected two small bottle brush style trees for $3 each, a pair of mini bottle brush trees (they were actually ornaments and sold in a pair for $3), two slightly green trees with a burlap wrapped base and pinecones for $3 each and two larger threes with wooden bases, pinecones and faux ice/snow for $18 each. I also found two glittery deer ornaments that I felt would add nicely.
Then I began arranging them on my mantle until I liked what I had. I ended up having a dead space in the middle and dug out a very old mini artificial tree and added lights and some gold pinecones. To finish, I added our star stocking hangers and the new stockings I purchased to which I added gold initials to each to denote the owner. Finally, I hung a banner that was meant to be a craft project from Target. I liked the letters because they were a two tone metallic and I felt it would go really well but, I am super disappointed with them. The string included with the kit was horrible so I used twine instead and the letters aren't a very sturdy material so they may not make it to next year.
The basic idea when shopping for your mantle is to make sure that you get at least 4 different types of trees in varying sizes and get at least two of each different tree. Keep it simple and don't go for trees that are decorated and instead opt for simple, life-like looking trees. You also don't want to overcrowd the mantle and want to group the items in a natural way with some space between them but not perfectly spaced. You really just have to play with it until you like what you have. I rearranged mine a couple times and for a bit wondered if I hadn't made a mistake with my "genius idea" but I finally got an arrangement I love.
I think my favorite thing about my new mantle is that I can leave it up after christmas if I want. I'll just remove the stockings. It's not overtly Christmassy but still gives a warm and holiday feel. I just love it and I hope you love it too!
When my husband and I first got married we had several college friends who didn't have anyone to celebrate Thanksgiving with. So, we started hosting a Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday evening to give those friends a Thanksgiving experience. When we started hosting this ten years ago we cooked everything but it was only for about six people and we didn't have any children. Now, most of our friends have somewhere to go for Thanksgiving so we've moved the event to the Saturday before Thanksgiving and we invite many more people so it's more of a potluck scenario where we cook the turkey and a few sides. By the way, if you want a fool proof turkey recipe you should try Alton Brown's Good Eats Roast Turkey. It's the recipe we've used every year and it always yields a delicious, juicy and flavorful turkey. Out of the several Thanksgivings we attend it is definitely our favorite. There is such great energy with all of our friends and their kids. It truly feels like an extended family.
This year we got to host it at our new house which made the event even more awesome than ever before because we had more space for everyone including the 10 rowdy kids! With the layout of our new home, the dining room and breakfast nook were both large enough to add an additional table which allowed us to visit in larger groups while eating that in previous years. The house also has a room that is towards the back end of the house and I set that room up as the kids room giving the adults a little distance from the ruckus that they created.
For table decorations I used brown butcher paper to cover our folding tables and then drew place settings with a sharpie. Then I added some white votives and faux fall leaves to the center. I printed out some free napkin rings but they were too big for the paper napkins and plastic silverware I was using so we just laid them across the drawn place setting and put the napkin and silverware on the side. I had a tablecloth and centerpiece on the main dining table and placed golden chargers at each setting with he same napkin ring/decorative paper strip, napkin and silverware and used a ceramic cornucopia filled with fruit for the breakfast nook table.
For the kids tables I copied the adult tables by using craft paper and faux place settings but for the center I placed paper bag teepees made by my daughter and paper finger puppet pilgrims and indians. I also put a snack bag of Kix cereal that was dressed up to look like corn on the cob at each setting. To entertain the kids I provided indian headdresses for them to color and wear and crayons at the center of the tables. I also made a "Stuff the Turkey" game by following this tutorial which entertained the kids for at least a few minutes.
Stuff the turkey was also a quick craft and I only needed a large paper bag, two small paper bags, white tissue paper (I ended up using white paper towels), several sheets of colored paper (for stuffing), a hot glue gun and a stapler. I followed directions found here.
We had a ton of food and a really great time! We even had a small break at around 8:30 for parents to take kids home and put them to bed. Then we reconvened for more adult time while sitters stayed with the sleeping children. It was pretty fun!
Hopefully this event will continue to grow and be as much fun year after year. Enjoy the ideas and have a great Thanksgiving!
Now that I'm in my new house, decorating for holidays is a whole new adventure! I get to rethink and analyze how I can use my old decor to fit the new space. Over the years I have accrued numerous pumpkins for my fall decorating. Some I purchased on sale at Hobby Lobby and some I made using foam pumpkins from the dollar store, white paint and thumbtacks. (You can see a tutorial I used here.) I also had a garland of fall leaves and some sprigs of fall leaves. So, I began playing around with what I had and ended up creating a pretty nice looking miss mash of my old stuff. The only new thing I purchased was the metal "Give Thanks" banner from Target which I got on sale for only $7! The key is to make sure you have a few different sizes and colors of pumpkins to give the mantle the right look. I'm sure I'll change it up every year but, I'm pretty happy with it this year.
Since we have a new house I decided to mix up my Halloween decor this year and I chose a theme. I don't know about you but I have a serious problem with spiders so naturally I think they are super creepy and perfect for Halloween decorations. For my decor this year I found an awesome garland at Hobby Lobby and one at Target as well to hang on my mantel. I also grabbed a spider themed table runner to place on the mantel as the foundation. Then the kids and I added some pipe cleaner spiders to the mantel top as well as a few hanging down from black ribbon. To finish off the mantel I tied black ribbon to my decorative sticks to give the appearance of bats and used sticky tac to adhere some paper bats I made a few years ago to the wall. I also found a great lantern and glass sign for $5 each at Target. It still needed something so I threw in my Dollar Tree black crows as well as three glitter skulls from years past that light up when turned on.
I continued the decor throughout the living room by bringing back my lampshade silhouettes that I made many years ago and adding more bats to my gallery wall. I also changed up my gallery wall art with some Halloween themed art as well as family photos from years past. You can see a tutorial on my gallery wall by clicking here!
We also did some fun spider themed stuff for the outside of the house but I keep forgetting to snap some photos! I'll definitely add them as soon as I can remember to capture the fun!
I get excited every year when it's time to plan and create our Halloween costumes! This year I'm a little less enthused because I will either be gigantically pregnant and overdue by almost one week or I will have JUST had a baby. So, either way trick-or-treating may not be in the cards for me. But, I can still participate in the costume part...maybe. So, when the time came to make a plan I was at a bit of a loss. How do I prepare for two very different costume sizes without making two costumes? After chatting with my daughter and asking her what she would like to be she said she wanted to be Princess Jasmine. That got me thinking. I could be Raja the tiger! An orange t-shirt, black leggings and some face paint and I can either be super huge Raja or Raja with a baby Raja! Perfect. My husband is going to be Aladdin and my son will be Abu the monkey. It's going to be adorable. But, enough about the thought process. You're here to learn about the Jasmine costume.
Usually, I create the entire costume myself but, the Jasmine costumes looked like they would require a bit more sewing than I was interested in and pre-made ones were pretty cheap. So, I purchased this one on Amazon. I opted for a non-navel showing one because, you know, she's six. I also purchased these gold shoes. But, when looking for Jasmine jewelry and accessories I couldn't find any that looked like the actual cartoon. So, I decided I could do it myself.
What You'll Need:
- clip-on earring backs
- 1 sheet blue glitter craft foam
- 1 sheet yellow glitter craft foam
- 1 yellow glitter craft foam visor
- 1 turquoise stretch headband
- hot glue gun and glue sticks
I pulled up an image of Princess Jasmine to make sure I knew what I was doing and then free-handed a rounded edge triangle for the earrings. Then I cut it out and used it as a stencil for my other earring and cut it out too. Once I had my earring shapes I simply glued them to the earring backs and I had my earrings!
Obviously they're not perfect but who cares! They definitely look like Jasmine's earrings. If I'd wanted to I could have made a stencil and created perfectly shaped earrings. But, I didn't feel like it and she loves them as is.
Now, on to the necklace. For the necklace I used the craft visor and simply cut it down to be the shape of Jasmine's necklace. Again, I eye-balled this and didn't use a stencil or anything. I just looked at the Jasmine image and hoped for the best. Once it was cut she could just slip it on as a necklace instead of a visor. Perfect, cheap and easy!
Finally, creating the headband. I cut out a large oval from the yellow glitter foam and then a slightly smaller one from the blue. Then I hot glued them together and glued a safety pin onto the back. Then I pinned the glued ovals onto the headband. Sure, I could have glued it to the headband but, I thought I'd rather have the ability to re-use it.
There ya have it! It only took about 20 minutes and I only spent about $6. I also had plenty of craft foam leftover plus an awesomely cute new headband! She's happy, I'm ecstatic and at least one of us is ready for Halloween!
Stay-tuned for the tutorials for the rest of the family costume tutorials including Raja the tiger, Abu the monkey and Aladdin!
Rachel is a mother of three, high school Spanish teacher and part-time blogger who loves crafting, creating fun and engaging activities for her children and students and hanging with her friends and family. She blogs about what she's doing and her interests at any given time which vary. She's a little OCD and always looking for her next project. Her husband calls it, "focusing her crazy", but she just calls it fun.