Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Closet Costumes

Since the baby's due date is so close to Halloween, I won't be dressing up this year. But! That doesn't mean I can let my creative juices flow and help other people make their own original costumes, so every Tuesday in October be sure to check here for an innovative costume idea to get you ready for Halloween. While none of the costumes will take a whole month to make, the ones I demonstrate at the beginning of the month will take more time to put together than the ones at the end of the month, so keep that in mind if you are pressed for time.

This week, I'm going to show you how to make a costume from some pieces you probably already have in your closet. They're perfect for that party you got a last minute invitation to, or if you decided that you really did want to dress up for Halloween after all but there is no time to make something.


Pirate Closet Costume

First up is a pirate costume. For guys, I like a casual button-down shirt that has some of the top buttons undone to mimic the renaissance shirt look. Pair it with some skinny pants and black dress shoes, which you can cover with boot toppers like these. Too late to order covers? Check out this tutorial from Chic Steals for instructions on making your own from an old leather jacket. Alternatively, you could also tear up the bottom of your pants and go barefoot (or wear some thin sandals if you're going to be out on the town.) Complete the look with a fabric sash - check the ladies' department or buy a yard of fabric and cut it down to size - then check the costume department for a spiffy hat, eye patch, and toy sword. Alternatively, you could dress in all black, switch the fabric sash for a belt, change out the hat and eye patch for a black bandanna and mask, add some gloves, and go as the Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride.


For the ladies, I like the look of a peasant blouse with a bohemian skirt, but you could certainly wear a button-down blouse and/or pants as well. If you have a longer skirt, you can pin in up with safety pins. Michelle over at Damsel in this Dress does this all the time to create visual interest in her long skirts. Wear boots if you have them, or you can go barefoot (remember the sandals if you're going to be walking around outside) like I suggested for the guys. Add a scarf on your head and pile on the hoops and bangles for accessories. If you skip the pirate-y accessories, you could tell everyone you went as a gypsy instead.

Olympic Podium Outfits

Team USA Podium Outfit for Halloween

Probably the most comfortable costume you could ever wear is one based on the uniform the American athletes wore when they took the podium at the Olympics this year. Have a gray track jacket and black sweats in your closet? Boom! You're halfway there. (Bonus points if they're Nike brand.) The athletes also wore bright green Nike sneakers, but you could wear whatever sneakers you already own. In order to look more like an Olympic athlete, you'll need to add patches to your jacket like they had. You'll need a regular American flag patch for the left shoulder, which you can find at most craft stores, and the Team USA patch to go over your heart. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this the Team USA shop was out of stock on the patches, but you can make your own by printing out the image on sticker paper. If there's time, you should add a medal to your ensemble. You can make your own using this great tutorial over at Paging Supermom. It's not time consuming, but you will need to allow time for the clay and the paint to dry.

Housewives and Mafia Men

Mad Men closet costume

The last costume isn't necessarily Mad Men specific, but I know the show is popular so I thought I'd play with it a little. (I just admitted that I've never watched Mad Men, for shame!) Gentlemen have it easy, as they should already own almost everything in the ensemble (Really! Every man needs to own at least one suit.) For hair, slick it back a la Draco Malfoy. The only thing you'll need to find - and it really isn't required to pull off the look - is the fedora, which can be tricky to locate, but a trilby will do in a pinch. (Yes, there is a difference.) For ladies, you'll need a dress that is either full on the bottom or a dress that is tight all over, sometimes called a wiggle dress. Either will work. (You can also wear a fitted top with either a tight or a full skirt if you don't own an appropriate dress.) Black pumps are standard, but ballet flats will work too. Finish off the look with pearls and nylons, and don't forget the red lipstick!

I also found this great link for Mad Men accessory tutorials for two of the leading ladies - check it out!

Not quite satisfied with my ideas? Check out my Costume Ideas board on Pinterest! I've got lots of ideas on there that will surely inspire you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tube Dress Costumes

Since the baby's due date is so close to Halloween, I won't be dressing up this year. But! That doesn't mean I can let my creative juices flow and help other people make their own original costumes, so every Tuesday in October be sure to check here for an innovative costume idea to get you ready for Halloween. While none of the costumes will take a whole month to make, the ones I demonstrate at the beginning of the month will take more time to put together than the ones at the end of the month, so keep that in mind if you are pressed for time.

While looking at my own Pinterest board of costume ideas, I noticed I had a lot of costumes that were basically just a tube dress. Tube dresses are really simple to make, regardless of your sewing level.

  • Tutorial on eHow for sewing a tube dress
  • Another eHow tutorial for a no-sew tube dress
  • If you fit into a pillowcase, you can rip open the top seam and attach elastic there for an easy tube dress - plus, pillowcases can be dyed to just about any color.
  • Or skip the fabric altogether and make it from duct tape!
Alternatively, you could use a solid colored shirt with matching colored shorts/skirt/pants for nearly all of these costume ideas. Decide what you would be more comfortable wearing, and take a look in your closet for more inspiration.


A crayon is becoming a popular costume because it's fairly easy to make and looks great in a group.  To make the hat, you can get a party hat or a small witch hat and cover it with the same fabric you used in your dress. I liked this photo because it shows a t-shirt version of the same costume idea.

Sauce Packets

This was the first tube dress costume I found, and I love how ... "saucy" it is. Cut out letters and a text box from white fabric, and print out the Taco Bell logo on printable paper. Write a clever statement in the text box. Sew down or hot glue all fabric elements.


Duct tape dresses in action! The plastic appearance of the tape really works for costumes like this. Be sure to click on the "via" link under the picture, which goes into a little more detail on making a dress like this, and also has more last-minute costumes ideas.


This clever iPhone costume was made out of a dress already in her closet and lots of felt (which can be purchased at most craft stores for 20-25 cents a sheet.)


With so many soda flavors out there, soda pop dresses would be a great idea for a group costume. All it takes is some fabric, fabric paint, and patience to trace out those logos. Do you and your friends already have t-shirts proclaiming your favorite bubbly beverage? Check out this t-shirt and shorts costume of soda cans. They even included nutrition facts on the back!

There are other great costume ideas made from a simple tube dress, many of which I have pinned on my Costume Ideas board on Pinterest. Be sure and check it out!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Run or Shoot? UPDATE

Remember at the beginning of the month when I posted that I was going to be playing original Left 4 Dead maps on Expert to try to get the "What are you trying to prove?" achievement?

Well, yesterday afternoon while doing a single-player run, I finished the Death Toll map. So, basically, I did an expert campaign by myself because we all know those AIs are kind of clueless when it comes to helping you finish. Yeah. I'm awesome.

I am already doing some practice work on the finale of the last map, but I seriously doubt I'll be able to beat it before 6:00 Sunday night ... which is when I go to the hospital. Kind of freaking out here.

original here
edited by me

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


aka: Appointment at 38 Weeks

Here's the very basic run-down of today's appointment:
  • There is still no change
  • I will be induced
However, the induction will happen much sooner than I originally anticipated.

See, I told the doctor that I had gone to the hospital late Friday night because I couldn't feel the baby moving. I also told her that sometimes I can get the kick counts just fine, and other times I have to try again. (The little bugger just does not want me to feel him move anymore.) So she sent me over for another non-stress test and ultrasound.

I really don't like getting non-stress tests done at the clinic, because the belts they use to strap on the monitors are super itchy. I end up giving in and scratching, which makes the heartbeat monitor mess up and then the machine beeps because it can't locate the baby's heartbeat. And I have to sit there for an hour! Just staring at the ceiling! So boring! #FirstWorldProblems

Even though his little heart is doing just fantastic, the ultrasound worried everyone. Nothing was really wrong, but he just wouldn't move. Even after she applied this buzzer thing to my stomach to get the baby to move, he just kept sleeping. Eventually he opened his eyes, but then he drifted right back to sleep.

So my doctor wants to take him out sooner, which is fine by me - more time to wear his My First Halloween onesie that my momma bought for him. The concern is that, since I can't feel him as well, a problem could arise and I wouldn't be aware of it until it was too late. She made a call to the hospital for an appointment to induce after I left, so I'm waiting for them to call me and let me know when the induction is, but I could be there as early as Sunday night.

Suddenly, I feel less prepared.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Game On!

Since the baby's due date is so close to Halloween, I won't be dressing up this year. But! That doesn't mean I can let my creative juices flow and help other people make their own original costumes, so every Tuesday in October be sure to check here for an innovative costume idea to get you ready for Halloween. While none of the costumes will take a whole month to make, the ones I demonstrate at the beginning of the month will take more time to put together than the ones at the end of the month, so keep that in mind if you are pressed for time.

It's fun to dress up as a character from your favorite video game for Halloween, especially because they are usually recognizable but not overdone - you know there won't be 15 people at the party wearing the same costume as you. I've gathered some ideas that I hope will help or at least inspire you to create your own.



You might be thinking, "But ... Mario? He's kinda cliché for a costume list, don't you think?" And I'd agree with you. There are quite a lot of how-to blog posts dedicated to him, so I won't bore you by filling up space with another one, but I did want to share the site where I bought some caps for my nephews costumes. e4hats.com has some newsboy-styled caps in the perfect shades for Mario, Luigi, and Wario (sorry, you'll have to dye a cap purple if you have a Waluigi.) The link will take you directly to the particular hat that I used, but there is also a bigger size and a youth size if you need it. Just do a search on the site.


Harvest Moon

This one might be a little harder for people to recognize, but the ones who do might be very excited to see it. The hardest part to find might be the baseball cap, but if you live close to a Hobby Lobby then you can dye one of the plain white caps that they sell. You'll get bonus points if you can either (1) carry around a cute farm animal with your costume or (2) get a girl to dress up as one of the ladies you can marry in the game. A lifetime supply of cookies will be awarded to the people who do both.

Team Fortress 2

Not all TF2 costumes will be easy to recreate in time for Halloween (especially if you try to recreate some of their weapons) but there are some that are a little easier than others. Kali did a great photo tutorial of her Scout costume on her blog, Made By Kali. Also? There is a tumblr dedicated to TF2 cosplay help. Click it!


Hunter (Left 4 Dead)

Speaking of Valve costumes, the Hunter is a pretty easy one to recreate. You can find a nice dark blue zip-up hoodie at Walmart right now, just fade it in the wash by adding some bleach to it. D. Vanderbleek has a great tutorial for a Hunter from Left 4 Dead 2, and a lot of the same principles can be applied to the Hunter costume for the original too. (The original Hunter is what I used for my picture on the right.)


Lara Croft

There are many versions of Lara Croft's costumes, but the classic blue tank is my favorite. If you have trouble locating a tank top in the right color, most craft stores will sell white ones year-round along with dye so you can get it the right shade. Add to it brown shorts, some fake pistols, and a long braid (or a ponytail extension if your hair isn't long enough) and you've got one strong and sexy character costume.

There are tons of other great costumes inspired by video games. Need more inspiration? Check out my Pinterest boards!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

You Could Say It Was A Busy Night

Baby Cousin was born last night at 8:20pm!

Ryker Lee, born October 5th, 7lbs 5oz, 19.5 inches
I wish I could have been there to show support and to be there for his big day. This day is the most important day in his life, and one of the most important days in his parents' lives. My sister-in-law is so blessed to have so many family members who care about her and her baby.

Mark and I also ended up going to the hospital last night when, after two hours, I wasn't feeling the baby move. It was a pretty nerve-wracking experience, but the nurse I had was incredibly nice about the whole thing, as were the people at the desks (since it was almost 1:00am when I got there, I had to go through the emergency room.) It reaffirmed that I made an excellent choice about the hospital where I'm going to be giving birth.

This is actually a picture of the birthing suite, but my room looked very similar. I was in one of their "holding rooms" where they put you when you first check in. They're mostly for non-stress tests (like what I needed) and for checking a patient before deciding whether or not she's progressed enough to admit her into Labor and Delivery. The only thing that wasn't in my room was the baby checking station ... thing.

I really do have a way with words, don't I?

Anyway, I hoping that by me going in last night and answering a bunch of medical and family history questions for them that they'll keep that in my file and I won't have to go through it all again when I'm there for the big event.

If you've never had a non-stress test done at a hospital, basically what happened was that I was wheeled up to Labor and Delivery in a wheel chair per the hospital's policy - which was a little embarrassing because I was obviously very pregnant and very NOT in labor - and checked in there. They took my weight, then showed me my room where I had to change into a gown and also leave a urine sample. The nurse came in and the first thing she did was put two monitors on my stomach, which displayed their results on a screen next to my bed. You can see it in the photo above. The top graph is the baby's heartbeat, which gets higher when he's moving and drops when he's resting. The bottom graph shows if I'm contracting (which I wasn't. I'm starting to think my body doesn't know what to do with a baby once one gets in there.) Once she heard the heartbeat she went about asking me the standard medical and family history questions and took my blood pressure. She had to leave soon after because another patient needed her attention, so Mark and I had the room to ourselves for an hour. Near the end of the hour, the nurse came back and finished asking her questions and took off the monitors. She said that everything looked great and that the doctor on duty would probably send me home after he looked at my results. Which he did. But of course, I didn't really feel much movement at all during the non-stress test, and I'm not feeling just a ton now, so I don't really feel any better about it. I mentioned to the nurse that I still hadn't been feeling many movements so she felt around my stomach to try to get an idea of his position. She said she couldn't feel his limbs so he must be facing my spine instead of lying on one side like he had been.

At this point I'm trying to take note of the occasional movements that I do feel, and trying to accept that I may just be unable to feel him for a while. I hope he comes soon. I can't help but think that I'll be a little more at ease when I can see his chest rising and falling, and feel the air going in and out through his nostrils. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Letter to the Baby, part 4

Dear Baby,

Sometimes you push so hard it feels like your trying to punch your way out through my belly. Sometimes I feel really achy, like I've got the flu, and all I want to do is snuggle under the covers until it goes away. And sometimes, when I hurt the worst or when I've gotten my heart rate up during exercise, you quit moving. And that scares the crap out of me.

Then I go looking on Google to see what's normal and what's not and Google pretty much says you'll either make your appearance within the hour, or you're dying. Either way it says I should have gone to the hospital, like, yesterday.


So this week, let's both chill out for a little bit. Not so much that you don't move around, but I mean, you don't have to act like Uma Thurman in that scene from Kill Bill Vol. 2 where she punches her way out of that coffin. That's a little excessive.

Your baby cousin should be here soon. You don't have to race him anymore. He might win the speed competition, but you'll totally win endurance. That's what Jeff said, and that's how we're going to think about it.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Appointment at 37 Weeks

Another appointment this week! Still no change from last week, but since I went in feeling like there wouldn't be any change, I didn't get discouraged this time. It's funny how sometimes you can just tell if your body is different without actually doing anything to find out.

Mark's sister went to the hospital on Monday because of some strong and close contractions, but ended up getting sent home. I think she'll have our nephew soon, probably within a week. While I'm a little bummed that she'll get all the attention first, I like that there will probably be plenty of space between births. Then Mark's parents and family won't have to split their attention between us.

One thing the doctor told me at this appointment is that if I still haven't made any progress at next week's appointment (scheduled for the 10th) then we will talk about scheduling an induction. She kept pointing to the 25th and 26th on her desk calendar, so I've been telling our parents that is most likely when my induction will be if he isn't here before then.

I know there are lots of moms who are against inductions and believe that the baby will come when he is ready, but honestly, it's a huge comfort to me to know that there is a definite end in sight. This way Mark will be able to contact his professors in advance so he can get his work ahead of time. My parents and in-laws will be able to make any arrangements they need so that they can be there. And an added bonus? I won't be a freaking basket case if/when he doesn't arrive on his due date. "It's okay, Baby. You'll be here by the weekend."

"Gearing" Up For Halloween

Halloween is my second favorite holiday, right after Christmas. Why? Because I love seeing all the clever and creative ideas that people have this time of year! I really enjoy seeing the costumes that people make for parties and trick-or-treating because they can be absolutely ingenious.

Since the baby's due date is so close to Halloween, I won't be dressing up this year. But! That doesn't mean I can let my creative juices flow and help other people make their own original costumes, so every Tuesday in October be sure to check here for an innovative costume idea to get you ready for Halloween. While none of the costumes will take a whole month to make, the ones I demonstrate at the beginning of the month will take more time to put together than the ones at the end of the month, so keep that in mind if you are pressed for time.

I'm going to be adventurous and start off this series with a costume idea that's been around for a while but is steadily increasing in popularity: Steampunk!

Before you get intimidated at the idea of buying (or making) a corset, I want to tell you that I'm going to try to stick with things you should already have in your closet. The base costume consists of a white button-down blouse, some khaki pants, and boots. This will be more of a Steampunk adventurer or explorer and less of an aristocrat.

Steampunk Base Set

For this set I'm going to be sticking with a very neutral color palette, but keep in mind that Steampunk doesn't have to be just sepia tones. It can incorporate many colors, particularly fabulous gem tones that are always prominent during the fall.

First, you need a white or ivory button-down top (or any other color, really.) In my opinion, white looks pretty bright here, so I would probably tea dye the top just to tone the color down. You can leave the top as is if you want, or you can "victorianize" it by adding lace trim to the cuffs with fabric glue or by stitching it. Note: If you use glue, be sure to give it plenty of time to dry! You'll also need to glue it in segments so that the trim will stay in place. If you have the ability and the time, you could even replace your plain buttons with brassy ones - just be sure they are about the same size so that they'll fit through the buttonhole!

Want a button-down with some real interest that you won't have to modify? Look at the Ruffle-back Poplin Shirt at Victoria's Secret, currently $49.50.

When it comes to khaki pants, I like the kind that fit snugly. This way, they'll be easier to tuck in your boots. For boots, I like the brown ones I used in my set because of the buckle accents, but you could use plain ones instead if you already own a pair. Add some interest to them by epoxying on gears (available at Hobby Lobby in the clock-making section) or if you're really pressed for time, I once got dog collars in a similar shade to my boots and strapped those on at the ankles.

Now, the belt. You have two options here: You can either go with something that cinches at the waist and leave the shirt untucked (like I did in my set above) or you can tuck in your shirt and wear the belt on your pants. You can make a plain belt interesting by dangling a pocket watch from it, or adding pouches. Of course, your outfit will look more Steampunk if you are wearing some type of corset, but they can get expensive and might be difficult to find as it gets closer to Halloween. If you already own one, by all means, wear it.

As you know, what really makes a Steampunk costume is the accessories....


There are tons of shops on Etsy and ArtFire that sell beautiful Steampunk jewelry, but you can make your own too. Wandering around Michael's and Hobby Lobby's beading and jewelry department always gives me lots of ideas, especially since Steampunk is becoming more mainstream so there are more charms and pendants that would make a great addition to your outfit. Also check out the clock making section, because there are some great pieces made from clock hands and faces!


What's the most popular gun that Steampunkers carry? The N-Strike Maverick REV-6, of course. Some paint can really transform this neon shooter into a neo-Victorian beauty, and this tutorial on Weekly Geek can show you how to take one apart to make painting easier. You can add some etchings to it to make it look prettier, or a even fake wood grain. You can make it look aged by adding a black layer of paint over a metallic color, then wiping off the black paint before it dries.

Cover Your Head!

During the Victorian Era, one was not seen bare-headed in public. That's just the way it was! Top hats are popular in Steampunk culture, and can be found in a variety of colors on buycostumes.com. In the dolls sections of craft stores, you can also find miniature top hats, which some people like to wear instead. Add some details like feathers, flowers, and a veil to dress it up. You can change the color of your hat by covering it with felt - just be sure to clean up your hot glue strings! And of course, you should try to find some welder's goggles to go with it as well.

Hopefully I've given you enough inspiration to start working on your Steampunk costume. I've also created a new Pinterest board dedicated to Steampunk lovelies to further motivate and inspire you, so go check it out! And if you go trick-or-treating, consider adding one of these amazing Steampunk pumpkin buckets to your outfit!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Run or Shoot?

Raise your hand if you have Left 4 Dead on Steam.

Not Left 4 Dead 2. The original one.

Yeah, I know they ported all the maps from the original to the second one. I DON'T CARE.

Before 2008 (or was it 2009...?) I didn't really play any first-person shooters. My husband kept trying to get me interested in them by having me play Golden Eye and Perfect Dark on the N64. Unfortunately, I never played console games growing up.

Side Note: I KNOW, RIGHT? My parents thought that console gaming was too violent, but PC games were okay. To this day I'm still pretty klutzy with classic controllers.

Anyway, so trying to play a shooter with someone who grew up playing this game was less than fun. But I digress.

At some point my husband bought Left 4 Dead on Steam because of it's clever AI, which controls the level pacing and item placement. The game practically punishes you if you spend too long in an area.

I downplayed any interest I had in the game for a few months, but eventually asked if I could play on his account.

And that's how I got hooked.

Eventually I got a copy for myself, but didn't play a lot since the Left 4 Dead 2 came out a few months later. So I'm missing a lot of achievements. One of them that I'm missing is completely all campaigns on Expert. I have No Mercy and Dead Air, but am still missing Death Toll and Blood Harvest. So for a few hours every day in October (until the baby arrives) I'm going to be trying to get those last two campaigns, starting with Death Toll. And I'll need help. How can you help? First off, you'll probably need to add me on Steam. At the bottom of the page I have a link to my Steam profile, so check that out. When you see me playing, join my game. TOGETHER, WE WILL VANQUISH THE ZOMBIE HORDE.

I call Zoey!