With the pandemic and all, I’ve had tons of time to make costumes but no place to wear them. Imagine my excitement when I came across a Regency event that was not only nearby, but on my birthday weekend! Clearly, it was a sign from above that it was time to get back into the swing of things! And since it was my birthday, I had the perfect excuse to insist that my husband and daughter accompany me. In costume.
(cue disgusted face from my 9-year-old)
As you may recall, my daughter has never been thrilled about dressing up for historical-themed events, but she can be convinced with the proper incentive. In this case, I told her that her participation could be my birthday present– and promised to work bunnies into the outfit, since she’s really into bunnies right now. And it worked, so the only thing that remained was to find some vaguely appropriate bunny-themed fabric… which was basically impossible. Of course.
My house is full of art, most of it drawn by my 9-year-old (and featuring cats), and almost all of it is currently sitting in a large basket that we periodically go through to make albums of things we want to save long-term. In the meantime, though, she’s had nowhere to display her creations, so it was time for a change.
Her room has a conveniently empty wall that’s just crying out for decoration, so I thought I’d frame some of her work– however, with her rate of production it was clear that changing out the displayed pieces would be a ton of hassle if done on a regular basis, so I decided to make a more versatile display. I picked up a bunch of inexpensive picture frames on Amazon (I bought two sets of five) along with some metal clips, and pulled out some sheets of scrapbooking paper from my stash of art supplies. The procedure is simple:
First I cut my scrapbooking paper (12×12″) down to fit the picture frames. I bought 9×12″ frames, which were the perfect size to display 8.5×11″ drawings, so all I had to do was slice a 3″ strip off of each sheet.
Then I removed the backings from the frames (peeling the plastic film off the plexiglass) and inserted my decorative papers into them. This was to add color and keep things looking nice even when there’s no art currently in the frame.
Finally, I got out my hot glue gun and glued a clip to the top of each frame– on the frame part, not on the plexiglass. I’ve seen other people use Gorilla Glue or E6000, but hot glue worked fine for me and it was really easy to work with.
And that was it! Instant art display frames! They look great, are easy to change up with new art, and can double as art storage since the clips hold a whole bunch of sheets at once.
Every now and then I feel the need to rope my family into my historical costuming hobby… but it’s easier said than done. Men’s outfits are relatively straightforward, but getting a 6-year-old to dress up in something she doesn’t want to wear can be tough– and even if you can manage it, watching her go through her day blithely unaware of the various grass stains and other horrors she’s inflicting on your carefully-chosen outfit is just painful. For that reason, I’ve refrained from ever trying to put my daughter in any genuine antiques, or even things that I’ve made with complicated techniques or particularly nice fabrics. I just know she’ll spoil them and I don’t want to spend my day worrying about it instead of enjoying the event.
But what to do when you’re just dying to attend something as a family, in full get-up? You improvise.
Since I spent some time making a light and airy Edwardian picnic dress for myself, I figured that something similar was in order for the kid. While I’d love to make her a dress laden with hand-embroidery and antique insertion lace, as I mentioned before it’s just not in the cards right now– luckily, many extant dresses rely heavily on pre-embroidered fabric for decoration, which is still widely available, so I decided to go that route.
So remember how last year I let my daughter tell me what she wanted her birthday cake to look like? This year I didn’t even have a chance to ask– she handed me a sketch one day and informed me that this was what I’d be making. It had three tiers (!), was decorated with berries and green icing, and had a fake warning on the outside saying that it most certainly did NOT hide any surprises inside… or did it?
Apparently she decided that what she wanted was a hidden pawprint to surprise her guests. It had to be pink, and it had to show only when the cake was cut into. While I had a general idea as to how to get this done, I turned to the internet and was happy to find a tutorial to give me some details as to how it could be accomplished! Here it is:
I’m not going to bother posting too many step-by-step instructions because honestly, the video is pretty good at explaining what to do.
After Elena of Avalor, the next princess my daughter was dying to be was her sister, Isabel.
This one was the easiest of the three dresses– I just found a basic blue dress with puffed sleeves and ruffles (sadly, Primary.com didn’t have anything that worked, so I had to get it on Amazon), and used some gold fabric paint to make the gold trim on the bodice and the swirls on the ruffled parts.
Our family is going to Disneyworld this fall, and my daughter is (of course) really excited about it. Not just the rides and attractions, but the prospect of meeting Disney princesses. When we first booked the tickets, in a fit of recklessness I promised to make her some princess dresses to wear to the park, so here we are. These aren’t going to be full costume-quality dresses– rather, they’re going to be soft and comfortable knit dresses she can play all day in, with some nods to the princess style.
Her very favorite princess right now is Elena of Avalor, so it was a given that one of her dresses would be Elena’s.
For Halloween this year my daughter emphatically declared that she wanted to be a ninjalino. What is a “ninjalino,” you ask?
So there’s this kids’ show called PJ Masks, involving three kids who fight crime at night while wearing outfits that transform from footie pajamas into superhero costumes. The kids fight a rotating series of super-villain kids, one of whom is Night Ninja, and Night Ninja’s minions (slightly smaller ninjas) are called “ninjalinos.” I’m not exactly sure why my daughter has opted to be a sidekick rather than a villain or hero, but I think it has something to do with the fact that the ninjalinos wear purple (her favorite color) while Night Ninja wears navy blue (boring). In any case, this is what I had to work with this year:
My daughter is going to be a flower girl in my brother’s upcoming wedding– she’s extremely excited about it, of course! We decided that aside from the dress (which is huge and made of yards and yards of ivory tulle), what she really needed was a wreath of flowers for her hair. Because hey, flower girls need flowers, right?
As I mentioned earlier, my daughter is going to be the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland for Halloween this year. She was really excited at the idea– so excited that when the yard of fabric I’d ordered– pink and purple striped faux fur– arrived, she used it as a blanket on her bed until I was ready to sew!
Taking a break from sewing for a while, here’s something sweet!
After I made my Faux Fried Ice Cream Cake I had a decent amount of extra cornflake topping, which I regularly used to make “fried ice cream” on its own by topping vanilla ice cream with the cornflakes and a drizzle of honey. I kept the extra topping in a ziploc bag in the freezer, and when I ran out of vanilla ice cream I just started crunching it by the handful for a treat. Something about the crunchy, buttery, sweet mouthful made it supremely snackable, and I wanted to figure out a format I could use to make an easier-to-eat version.
Imagine my joy when I came across multiple recipes for honey cornflake cookies, which basically sounded like the perfect way to interpret this flavor/texture combination. They couldn’t be easier– only a few ingredients and minimal preparation. I even let my preschooler do the majority of the work, and she loved it! (now, if only I can teach her how to temper chocolate)
These turned out cute, crunchy, and reasonably good. Not “oh my god make these right now” good, but if you’re looking for something simple to make with your kids that won’t overload them with sugar or fat, these would work. Bonus– nut free, egg-free, and they’re made of cereal so you can bill them as “healthy treats” if you bring them to school for a party or something.