My Childhood in DIY Halloween Costumes

Alternate title to this post: How I Learned the Word 'Derelict' and Other Halloween Memories

The closest I've come to acknowledging October's most famous holiday is making this mod podge pumpkin. So to celebrate the day, I thought I'd give you a glimpse of my childhood through the lens of some DIY Halloween costumes (or at least the ones that I could find pictures of), almost all of which were 100% brainstormed and created by my thrifty, clever mama. When I'm done, I'd love for you to share your favorite or most memorable Halloween costume from your childhood!

Age 2: Pink Mouse. I had a felt piece of cheese in my little tummy pouch.

Age 3: Bashful Flower. The "bashful" part was my own personal interpretation of the costume.

Age 5: Dalmatian...along with my brother and the rest of the neighborhood, and a couple kids we imported from the country. [Hi, Aislinn. :)]. Our numbers were sadly a bit shy of 101, but we did make it into the newspaper.

The dalmatian is, by far, my most memorable costume, because my mom tied strings from our wrists to our little puppy tails. When we turned around to walk away from each door, we would wag our tails by waving our arm. Cute stuff.

Age 7: A Western NY version of Jasmine. I didn't see her wearing thermal underwear when she was careening around the sky on a magic carpet.

Age 8: Mary Poppins! If you haven't noticed, my brother and I were frequently dressed as a pair. For this jolly holiday (har...har...did I really just make such a lame joke?) Brendan was obviously Bert.

 Age 9: Rapunzel. Whose prince may or may not have been Davy Crockett. If he killed him a b'ar when he was only three, don't you think he could have gone spelunking up a giant ponytail? I think so.

So there's my childhood in select DIY Halloween costumes, created by my mom. My mom is also the one who taught me the word "derelict," which is the name she gave to the thankless way-too-old-to-be-trick-or-treating teenagers who showed up at the door with nary a costume in sight and claimed to be collecting candy for their infant siblings. She grew tired of giving the good candy to them and having none for those precious little ballerinas who toddled up with their manners, and, thus, the "Derelict Candy" bowl was born. Think last Halloween's rejected hard candy.

I've known the word "derelict" ever since.

(Isn't it funny how you learn words? My students know "confirm" because of Facebook. I still say Facebook should replace "Like" with "Commend" or something, so they learn that word, too. But I digress.)

How about you? What's YOUR favorite or most memorable Halloween costume? Did you ever resent having to "ruin" your costume by wearing layers under it in the probable event that it would hail, sleet, or dump other undesirable precipitation on your evening? Do share. :)


Passing on an award, and divulging my deepest secrets!

I've had a rough week. Rough as in five referrals in two days. Rough as in every other kid who opens his or her mouth wants to either complain or give me attitude. Rough as in parents are emailing me asking "how their child is expected to pass my class at this point if I won't let them make up the work that was due months ago." The end of the day rolls around, and I just feel like crying. I didn't sign up for this abuse. The Lord must have sent a memo to some people this week telling them that I needed encouragement, though, because over the past two days, I've gotten not one Versatile Blogger Award, but two! On Tuesday I got a nice email from Jo of In Corners of My Mind, and today Kelly at Corner of Main shared the award with me. 


Whoever started this award as a way of encouraging fellow bloggers: to you, and the kind people who pass it on, I say thank you. I think it's an awesome idea. 

That said, I'm choosing to share the love with these kind and friendly bloggers who are either new-ish to me or I don't think have received the award before. If I'm wrong and you already have...that's okay. I hope you appreciate the acknowledgment all the same. :)

*          *          *

Sweet, hilarious Faith. She could write about moldy turnips and I would enjoy it.
Jamie has a great sense of humor and an adorable little son.
Jen & Katie @ Paisley Print Shoes
Jen and Katie are two sisters that I'd accept into my own family in a heartbeat. 
Mallory @ Purplest Pecalin
Mallory lives in Oregon, which isn't conducive to the craft night that we think we should have together.
Elz @ House Pour
 Elz's witty comments here just about always make me laugh.
Anna's a kitty person. Enough said.
Jess is incredibly kind-hearted, and she and her husband are also fixing up an older-than-them house.

*          *          *

I am also supposed to share 7 things about myself. I've attempted to choose seven quasi-interesting-or-maybe-not-interesting-at-all things most of you either A) wouldn't already know about me (since I tend to share my personality freely on this here blog) or B) never needed to know about me. Are you ready?

1. I eat Shredded Wheat for breakfast every morning. Blissfully plain, boring, bite-size Shredded Wheat. NOT the impostor kind that has been tainted with frosting. Gag. No, really. Sicky sweet cereal really makes me gag. But don't go thinking I'm super healthy or anything, because...

2. I have a stash of Twizzlers and Hershey chocolate bars in my desk at school. Some things are just necessary to get you through your day, you know?

3.  I have a pink Discover card. This used to garner a lot of exclamations from cashiers, but apparently I'm not the only cool one anymore because people have stopped commenting.

4.  I have known Rick since I was 12. We were in a musical together. We not only held hands during a dance scene, but also, at one point during rehearsals, I tattled on him to my mother, the director. Why? Because he wouldn't participate in whatever we were practicing and I was apparently a conniving brat. This rendered him afraid of both me and my mom for several years.

5. I love to sing. But not in public. I'm getting better at not being a total basketcase when singing solo or with a small group, partly from being on the worship team at church. However, I have always started shaking badly when I hear my voice alone and people (other than Rick or my family, obviously) are looking at me. An audience of One, people keep telling me, but my vocal chords still rebel. 

6. When I was younger, I wanted to be a librarian. I had visions of a job where you just got to read all day, and to prepare for my Chosen Career, I arranged all of my books alphabetically by author and even developed a check-out system. Babysitter's Club and Boxcar Children, anyone?

7. I've lived in New York my entire life, but I've been to Disneyworld at least 11 times. The combination of nostalgia, cheery atmosphere, and just plain fun makes me love going back again and again. I know it's totally some peoples' idea of a manic tourist trap there to suck you out of every dime, but I adore it. I get teary at the sight of Main Street, USA and at the end of Fantasmic when good conquers evil, in natural Disney style. Go Mickey!

Do any of my 7 things surprise you? Can you relate to any of it? Do share. :)

Thanks again to Kelly and Jo for the kind gesture! :)


Blog Crashing & Please Indulge My Need to Take Millions of Kitten Photos

I'm crashing Strictly Simple Style today, sharing some of of our favorite projects. Karen's blog was one of the first I started reading, mainly because she includes cool ideas like how to make these nailhead pumpkins, this DIY felt pillow, and this no-sew ottoman cover. So go! Check it out!

But before you go: when I'm not A) reading great blogs like Karen's or B) spending time with Rick and family or C) staring in disbelief at a roomful of 10th graders who just told me that Thomas Jefferson discovered electricity, you may find me D) taking pictures of Zoe. If you like small furry things, feel free to indulge me in my recent spree. If you don't like small furry things, don't scroll down. I repeat, do not scroll down.







DSC_0340(Big yawn)


DSC_0299Pay attention to ME.

DSC_0408 Do you think he wants grandkids?

This post was brought to you by a crazy cat mama, the power of electricity, and Thomas Jefferson. I mean Malcom X. (That was their next guess.) Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse than these writing flubs, right?


Jack Nicholson once lurked in our closet, probably.

Dear Blogger: Please do not disable my comments, break my links, and refuse to publish my posts without my permission. If you do this again, I will have to go all Jack Nicholson in The Shining on you. Love, Erin.

In honor of Halloween being right around the corner, I thought I’d share something that is a little strange about our house. Strange as in, reminiscent of a horror movie. Why? Because there was, when we moved in, some form of lock on nine of our interior doors. Yes, I counted. Mainly because I began noticing that many of them were not installed in a way that would lock people out.

They’re to lock people in.

While this type of lock exists on our office, our bathroom, and our back staircase, our favorite one was this closet of yore, which we got rid of when we were renovating our master bedroom a couple months ago. It locked from the outside. What could have been lurking behind this locked door back in the day, back in the day when people said things like “back in the day”?

Maybe this?

Or maybe this, which is less redrum and more odriew:

lampshade closet
Scary, right? (Although not as scary as when I confessed to taking the above photo with a self-timer, of course.)

The Shining, by the way, is one of the creepiest.movies.ever, in my opinion. I don’t even remember why I “watched” it (I’m the one hiding behind pillows and shrieking when the slightest thing moves on the screen), because horror movies and I don’t get along. Toy Story 3 is more my speed, what with its “Mild Peril.”

Does anyone else feel this way? Let’s celebrate our wimpiness, or, as I prefer to call it, our delicate sensitivity.

Actually, I’ve never called it that.

Wimpiness it is.

Who’s with me?


Secondhand Lighting & The Garage Sale on Steroids

I’ve declared 2011 as The Year of the Secondhand Lighting. Why? Because we have acquired five secondhand lighting fixtures within the past 4 months. If you’re feeling like one of my argumentative students, you might take this opportunity to point out that it should, therefore, actually be “The 4 Months of the Secondhand Lighting”…but that just doesn’t have a ring to it. Plus, I don’t like argumentative students. This lack of ring is probably the same reason why the star-nosed mole didn’t make it into the Chinese New Year rotations. Year of the Rabbit…Year of the Dragon…Year of the Star-Nosed Mole? Not so much. (I wouldn't recommend googling said critter, by the way, unless you like creepy deformed things.)

Anyway, of the five ridiculously cheap new-to-us light sources that we’ve acquired, you may know of one of them: this lamp.

Of the remaining four, three were picked up this past Friday at the Garage Sale on Steroids. Seriously, it’s in a 14,000 square foot building. It’s like a giant thrift store minus the outrageous prices and the weird smell. (You know the scent I’m referring to, the one Yankee Candle won’t be snatching up anytime soon?) Here’s a picture I found online from last year:

No joke; it’s an annual event benefiting the local Ronald McDonald House and it is massive. We went last year, houseless and clueless, and were totally overwhelmed. I exercised restraint this year, however, and shopped with purpose (as opposed to shopping with no discernable plan or path, which Rick frequently accuses me of as he attempts to follow me around the mall), leaving only with the aforementioned lights and two small ceramic planters for some succulents I picked up this summer. The last thing we need around here is to encourage my hoarding of useless items that “Have So Much Potential."
So at this Garage Sale on Steroids, we got this chandelier for our upstairs foyer. Gingerbread was too excited about it to pose nicely.

We also got this never-been used ceiling lantern, possibly for our downstairs foyer.

I decided that this super retro tension pole lamp had the potential to be cool, and for only $4, it wouldn’t hurt too much if I was wrong.

This pair of sconces was only $3 at a regular old non-beefy yard sale this summer. I’m thinking future master bathroom.

They all need a coat of spray paint to make them my style, but the fact that it is so easy and cheap to change these things is exactly why I love shopping for second-hand stuff so much. We only spent $38 on all of them.
Oh, and then there was this Goodwill lamp, the sight of which made me immediately regret not bringing my camera along like a weirdo. If you can’t tell from the bad cell phone picture that I had to settle for, I’m standing next to a my-size floor lamp complete with sculpted dolphins, coral and a mermaid fin bottom.

I’m not sure that even spray paint could save that aquatic beast.

So it’s the Year of the Secondhand Lighting for us…what is it for you? The Year of the Pillows? The Year of the Painted Furniture? The Year of the Ocean Lamp on Steroids?


Stray kitten, welcome to our bathroom.

Alternate Title: And Then There Were Three.

We "accidentally" gained another member of the family over the weekend. Meet Zoe:

Rick spotted her from my parents’ back deck and made oogly sad eyes at me. Let me tell you, Rick does not make oogly sad eyes over small furry things. Power tools and cars, yes. Small furry things, no. He’s always the one rolling his eyes at my cooing, saying “Erin, we already have two cats.” He’s the strong, sensible one who can turn a blind eye to fuzzy tails and big eyes.

Until now, apparently. Because before I knew it, we were hunched in the neighbors’ driveway, dangling a string and attempting to lure the cat out from underneath their car. And then I was in our car, driving home, with approximately 2 pounds of life on my lap. And then she was in our bathroom, where she'll stay until we're 100% confident that she's litter-trained and her little ringworm infection is cleared up.

She wouldn’t let us touch her at first (we had to use a humane small animal trap to get her), but now she won’t stop purring and just wants to be loved. She has a thing for small spaces and always crawls underneath our legs when we sit down.

Rick has claimed her as “his cat.” (Apparently I hog the other two? Who, me?) Judging from the way she mews whenever he leaves the room, and how she even watches him brush his teeth, she’s totally OK with being a daddy’s girl.

Other than the ringworm, she got a clean bill of health from the vet this morning, where we also found out that she’s about 9 weeks old. We don’t know what her story is or how she ended up in the neighbors’ garage, because there was no mama kitty or other kittens around, and hadn’t been for the 2 weeks that they said she’d been there.

What we do know, however, is that her story from now on will be one of a perfectly happy and content little kitty. This is because I am planning on reading her Mr. Buffy Moves to Dubai, like the cat lady I mentioned in this post. Rick says this isn’t a good idea. I asked Zoegirl what she thought and this is how she responded.

Okay, okay. I can take the hint.

So that’s Zoe. I’m sure she will continue to make an appearance on the blog, seeing as how we have already taken at least 30 photos of her and she’s been in our possession for less than 48 hours. She’s just so darn cute; I can’t help it.

Has anyone else ever made sad oogly eyes in an attempt to convince your spouse that there is, in fact, room for one more in your house? Can stray furry things work their way into your heart as easily as Zoe worked her way into ours, or are you the strong, sensible type? :)


Why do you live where you live?

I have a 40 minute commute to work. The nearest Wegmans is 25 minutes away. The closest thing to “entertainment” is the yard sale down the road. This all, for many people, begs the question: so why do you live there?
The answer is simple. We bought this house for the house itself, with its 1897 charm...
...and its roomy but manageable backyard...
...and the fact that this lake is about 100 feet from said roomy backyard.
But living here also means that we live 12 minutes from these people...
...and 18 minutes from these people (minus Tigger, obviously)…
...and that makes every minute of my morning commute and every missed sale at Joann Fabric's completely, 100% worth it.

The one person missing from all of these photographs is my brother Brendan, who is currently living in Phoenix, Arizona, in his first year of Teach for America. I hope he has the choice of living near family someday, because I wouldn’t want our kids to grow up without knowing the distinct sense of humor and wisdom of my little brother.
Chicago 2011 001
So why do we live here? Because we’d rather commute to work than Sunday dinner. Because we don’t need a Target within walking distance to be happy. Because I'd rather see my mom than a movie.
Because we’ve been blessed with two amazing families that not only love us but each other as well, and our jobs allowed us to stay in this area.
Why do you live where you live? I’d love to hear your stories. :)

Family photos, with the exception of the somewhat crazy brother-in-law love photo, compliments of our joint 2009 trip to Disney World. :)

Weekend Bloggy Reading


Old Lady Fun with Mod Podge and a Pumpkin

Our house is in no way ready to be accessorized, but this year, I thought I’d have some fun with a few fall crafts. (Okay, I thought I’d have fun with one fall craft. I won’t get ahead of myself.) Inspired by these pumpkin projects in Country Living’s October issue, I broke out the Mod Podge, some old books, and a fake pumpkin that I bought after Halloween last year for 90% off, and spent the next two hours of my life wondering when this “easy craft project” would be finished.

mod podge a fake pumpkin
Turns out that decoupaging a pumpkin is neither speedy nor brainless, two qualities of craft projects that I tend to enjoy. Oh well.

mod podge a fake pumpkin (2)
It’s covered in bits of paper from two art books that the art teacher was throwing away at the end of last school year. The pages are definitely a heavier weight than a normal book, which may be why my images refused to cling perfectly to the pumpkin’s contours. Live and learn.

mod podge a pumpkin
My imperfect pumpkin definitely whispers “This was handmade by someone who has only a partial clue about how to decoupage.” Someone with more patience and skill and/or the name Martha and/or a career at Country Living could probably make these look absolutely stunning.

This poor reindeer missed the memo that Christmas is still three months away. Someday it will wonder why it is plastered to a pumpkin.

Rick says my pumpkin looks like something a granny would put in her house. I tend to agree a little bit. I can totally picture it snuggled up with some knitting needles and a tube of Poligrip.

Yep, it totally works.

However, when something takes me two hours to complete, I can overlook these things. Sort of like when someone brings muffins to a department meeting. I can overlook a lot for a muffin.

Here’s my pumpkin before it aged:

And after a tumultuous but exhilarating life in which it learned all sorts of fascinating things like what it feels like to be called insubordinate and stubborn by an ignorant Mod Podge-wielding youngster:

So that’s my First Official Cheap Fall Craft Project and my First Official Granny Pumpkin. (No joke: the folder with the pictures of it is labeled Granny Pumpkin, so as not to be confused with Hip, Cool Pumpkin and Mid-Life Crisis Pumpkin.) And speaking of grannies, one year for Halloween, Rick participated in pharmacy school festivities and dressed up like a stereotypical granny, complete with wig, slouchy knee highs, and saggy boobs.

That’s the kind of outfit I’d wear if I became a cat lady.

The best part, though, is that he then proceeded to lock his keys in his car and AAA had to come rescue him. No, he didn’t have a change of clothes. I’m not sure he learned his lesson, because the next year, he went as a nun.

Boys these days.

What fall crafts have you been up to? Do you have any tips for decoupaging a non-flat object, in the event that someone feeds me muffins and I become submissive to their every crafting whim? What are you willing to overlook for a muffin?

I'm linking this up to the fall crafts party at Centsational Girl!

Want to read more?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...