Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Revisited

This is a repost from 2008.  It also happens to be my second most popular story.  Apparently people are very interested in the Snap Crackle and Pop outfits pictured further down!  So, I figured, what the heck?

Since my kids won't be dressing up, and since I somehow never found the time to make the Liquorville costumes I was hoping to... and since we really don't have a party to wear them to anyway... why not take a little stroll down Halloween-costume-memory-lane?

So now, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy this encore presentation of the very popular Fun Monday, Halloween!

The host for this week's Fun Monday is Sayre of Sayre Smiles. She made me smile when I found out that this weeks participants would be posting pictures of Halloween Costumes! Here's what she says:

"Tell us about your favorite Halloween as a kid (pictures, if you have them!), and show us your costume for this year. If you're not dressing up, show us a picture of a pumpkin carving that really tickled your fancy or how you decorated your house. "

I know, she said my favorite costume, but Halloween is my absolute FAVORITE HOLIDAY and these costumes ... all hand made ... they're like my children, I can't possibly pick a favorite! Growing up, my mother made all of our clothes, so when it came time for Halloween, why wouldn't she make our costumes too? I learned everything I know from her, and continued the tradition of homemade costumes.

So, without further ado, let's bring out our first model...

Here we have my baby sister Vicki modeling a lovely pink pioneer woman dress. This dress, made of cotton candy pink percale, features white ric rack and had a matching bonnet when I originally wore it.

Next up we enter what I like to call my mother's "ethnic years." Here we see me, sporting a lovely bathrobe, magically transformed into a kimono with the use of a scarf, some rubber thongs and a live hibiscus flower. Yes, live.
Moving on, we see Vicki again in another selection from the ethnic collection. This time the fabric is purest white bed sheet, embellished with the finest felt tip markers. Her adorable curly bob is set off with a headband and feather, fashioned from 100% Safeway grocery bag. And pulling this ensemble all together are the blue fuzzy slippers.

Next, we fast forward in time to a David Bowie inspired creation. This stunning silver space suit was the result of finding silver pants at a thrift store for a dollar then spending twenty five more dollars on the silver material, thread, and makeup. A bargain compared to today's prices!

Here we see me sporting a traditional witch costume, lightened up for this festive occasion by the use of a red scarf jauntily looped around the hat, and some red earrings. The real star here is my BFF Kimisue who is channeling Sally Field in her Flying Nun costume. This white, on white on white habit is fashioned again from bedsheet. The hat, or wimple, as it is called, is made from cardboard box, and hours and hours of papier mache.

At yet another party, Kimisue and I are joined by our other BFF Tami! Kimisue, on the left, is respendent in her weathered chaps, with matching hat and ammo belt. Tami, in the middle, 8 months pregnant at the time, was the ball attached by a chain to her convict husband... a costume that proved to be only too prophetic. And here we see the silver pants from the space suit of a couple of years ago repurposed in this ringmaster outfit, complete with red satin waistcoat and tails!

Me again, modeling my whimsical wench wardrobe (at work). This fetching ensemble features a peasant blouse and skirt, dyed to match. Not visible are the white eyelet knee length bloomers which match the perky dust cap which (thankfully) covers my 80s shag haircut. Costume comes with black hose and shoes. Pewter drinking mug and cockney accent optional.

Next up, a splendid recreation of the cereal box heroes - Snap Crackle and Pop. Thats Cathy on the left as Pop! Mary in the middle as Crackle! and on the right, that's me as Snap!

And finally, closing out our Halloween fashion show, the lovely me, in my own rendition of the infamous "picnic dress" worn by Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind.

There's my Halloween repertoire, what's YOUR favorite costume?  And make sure you visit all of the other Fun Monday participants to check out their rogues gallery!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


As autumn closes in, I can already feel the impending chill of winter.  

It is as if we are suspended for a moment, while autumn exhales a long sigh of submission, at the same time winter is inhaling its first eager, icy breath. Skies turn grey, leaves turn brown, and people turn inward. In this instant, poised between light and dark, between abundance and death, transformation is all around us.
Last night, my husband and I attended a memorial service for a vivacious 17-year old girl, who died suddenly this week of a brain aneurysm. She was the daughter of dear friends, but also a theatre kid, so she might as well have been ours. As we took our seats among the 1,000 others gathered there, the shock and raw grief was palpable, as was the regret for lost chances and missed opportunities. It brought into stark clarity the need to live in the moment as much as possible. But as we listened to the stories told by friends, and teachers, and songs sung by cast-mates, we began to take what comfort we could in their common message, best summed up by her principal, who wished he would have said sooner, “Thank you. You made me a better person than I truly am.” In her short time among us, this bright and lively spirit, transformed us all.

Autumn is change; a closing, a shift. It is a kind of acceptance of the passage of time, of our own mortality, which does not necessarily herald the end, but merely a part of a never ending cycle. Life never really stands still, and we never know when that last warm day will be, or when that last hug is truly the last. So how do we cope with the whims of fate and the relentless advance of time? Live in the moment. Seize the day. Make the most of now. There are simple moments every day to enjoy while they last. In time, another transformation will take place, the sun will shine, the birds will return, the leaves will grow again, and the cycle of life will go on.

Charli pays tribute with a song from "Hairspray"

"There's a cry
In the distance
It's a voice
That comes from deep within
There's a cry
Asking why
I pray the answer's up ahead
'Cause I know where I've been"

The pink in this picture is inspired by Beverly at How Sweet The Sound's Pink Saturday

Saturday, October 22, 2011


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and everywhere there are benefits and fundraisers.  Here in the FM all month long, teams and individuals can be found raising money and awareness by collecting old BRAs and of course money for our local FUNdraiser
BRAs of every size shape and color are strung together to create a BRA Garland that is draped across the front and sides of the Hotel Donaldson during the week of October 23rd in support of breast cancer 
awareness month.
Last night, a group of BRAve and BRAssy broads gathered for a BRAnd new kind of party we called BRA-VADA.

Our BRAinchild was to use all of the spare b
eads, BRAcelets and BRAid we had lying around to make sure the BRAs we donated could be seen among the thousands in the BRA garland.
There was a lot of BRAgging, some BRAndishing of hot glue guns, but luckily no BRAwls broke out.
The end result was amazing! 

Some were demure and almost wearable.

Some were fabulous.

Some BRAzen,  

We weren't afraid to BRAnch out, and try new things. 

In fact we had so much fun we're going to make this an annual event!
BRAce yourself!


The pink in these pictures is inspired by Beverly at How Sweet The Sound's Pink Saturday
The shameless self promotion is inspired by Mrs. G at Derfwad Manor's Showboat Saturday

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Do We Really Need to Keep That?

I was raised by the generation that survived the depression.  Both of my parents had learned, and continued to live by the old adage: make-do or do-without. They rarely threw anything away, in fact our family was reducing, reusing, and repurposing way ahead of today's recycling game. 

When you'd paid good money for something that happened to break, or outlive it's usefulness, or (heaven forbid) wear out, my parents' generation knew there was a good chance you could fix it, or - better yet - make it into something else.

Old magazines were craftily folded and spray painted to become Christmas choir boys;

newspapers not only lined shelves and bird cages, but became papier mache strips; bleach bottles became piggy banks.

I once talked my mom into buying me a rather spendy (at the time) clear plastic raincoat, just like the one my best friend had. Unfortunately, polymers in the 60s not being what they are today, my beautiful mod raincoat began to crack.  Frugal mom to the rescue!  She took black electricians tape, and covered not only the cracks, but artfully lined the seams, cuffs and pockets, giving my already cool outerwear it's own individuality, and style!

Whatever happened to all of those magical creations, I can't quite recall... probably eventually ended up in a landfill I suppose.  Which is too bad, not only for the environment, but because the coat pictured above is from a current designer's uber spendy collection, and I swear the one artfully altered by my own mother looked just like that!

I may have carried some of my parents' spendthrift tendencies into my own adult life... which prompts Downtown Dad to ask, in an oh-so respectful and I assume rhetorical manner, "do we really need to keep that?" I will confess that on the off chance I may need them someday, I do store a lot of things in our basement, and by things I mean items that were made or purchased, and now for one reason or another aren't currently being used. This does NOT mean that those items are useLESS!

For example, along with admitted trash, like the two fried computer cases, three monitors, and stray keyboards; and items such as boxes of important things like macrame books, unfinished needlework projects, and mugs from the 2005 Renaissance Faire; there hangs in the rafters a group of items with which I will not part...

every costume my kids wore in 6 years of theatre!  

I do understand that there is little to no chance I will ever find a use for a two-tailed, orange fur Cowardly Lion costume that still retains the smell of 10 August performances; or a preteen lady-in-waiting dress; or a High School Musical Wildcats track suit - even if it has been to Scotland. I have, however, used quite a few of the 200 large safety pins that festooned a punk crow costume.  And best of all, when a small cast in our local children's theatre production of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves afforded my son the chance for 2nd billing as not one but all 40 of the thieves, we became the proud owners of a 4' tall, hand-painted, round canvas, um ....cylinder.  That cylinder, with the proper top rigging, and just the right kind of bulb, is destined for another starring role, as a floor lamp in our family room!  

Boom! Why, yes, as a matter of fact we do need to keep that!

Be honest, what strange things are you not willing to part with?  And, for extra bonus points - what creative ways can you think of to use those things to give them a second life?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pink Inspiration

This week, I'm linking to Pink Saturday where Beverly invites us to Share Our Pink Inspiration.

Well, this week, my inspiration happens to be my blog, where a lot of   changing   swearing   reinvention is going on! Mainly because a lot of the aforementioned is also going on in my own life. So, excuse the "dust."

I firmly believe that just because a person is of a "certain age" doesn't mean she has to stop having fun, or being funny. There is a lot of potential for humor in the things I   complain  worry   dream  care about, and I'm willing to bet its the same for you. I'm aiming for this blog to be a place where it's less of a speech, and more of a community - or better, a conversation like you'd have with girlfriends over coffee... or wine... or martinis!

So, this week my girlfriends and I are planning for a party we will be hosting together at my house.  Its a fun FUNdraiser for an annual event that takes place here at a local downtown hotel called Bras On Broadway.  They literally drape the building with a bra-garland in order to draw attention to the fight against breast cancer.  And DRAW ATTENTION they do!

Last year they had over 3,000 bras in the garland, and raised over $62,000!  The focus of the event is on the artistic reinvention of the bra. Inside the building, at the actual event, local artists donate wearable and non wearable art bras which are modeled and then auctioned off.  All proceeds are donated to the American Cancer Society to support local women in our area who are fighting breast cancer.

Teams form in the weeks before the actual event to gather donations and old broken down bras for the garland.  The party we're hosting is a PRE-fundraiser we're calling Bra-vada.  We'll collect donations, and bras, then over coffee, or wine, or martinis and a few hors d'oeuvres, we'll decorate, bedazzle, adorn, embellish... in other words - prettify our cast off brassieres to add to the bra garland and wave in the wind with the others!  Be sure to check in next week - I'm sure I'll have at least one pink bedazzled bra to share!

Pretty cool huh?  What do you think?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Harvest Chili

When the seasons change, especially from late summer to fall, I start to crave the tastes, smells, sounds and colors that are associated with that season.

Over the weekend we changed our front porch decor, we lit the pumpkin and apple scented candles from last year, and we listened to the rustle and crunch of leaves (in the dining room, kitchen and living room, that the dogs had carried in on their fur) and later, the roar of leaf blowers and vacuum cleaners. The only sense I hadn't indulged yet was taste, so - In response to this month's The GOOD 30-Day Challenge (#30DaysofGOOD)  Day 9 - Make a Big Batch of Soup.   I decided to try a recipe I found in this month's Better Homes and Gardens magazine for Harvest Chili.

Now being born and raised in Southern California, I have to admit that to me, Chili ain't Chili unless it is a big beefy bowl of red  - WITH beans thank you very much.  So I must say that after looking at the list of ingredients which included squash, and apples, I entered into this with more than just a little trepidation.

I've linked the recipe above, and if you try it, you should know that it came together amazingly well.  The finished product was a lovely golden color, and the combination of spicy cayenne, and chili powder with the sweetness of the squash and apples was the perfect way to top off a lovely autumn evening, with more than enough leftovers for lunch the next day!