Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mod Podge and a Little Glitter to the Rescue: Ruby Slippers in a Flash...and Cheap!

For those of you who know me well, you may recognize the trait in me that quite often, some of my best work is done in the 11th hour...It's not that I try to procrastinate. Rather, I stew or ponder on things, am busy with a plethora of additional priorities, but finally, when the hour of accountability is here, quick decisions must be made, and I am thrown into action.

My Halloween costumes are no exception! My littlest one wants to be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz this year. Like many people I know, my budget for costumes that might be worn twice EVER is pretty slim. Okay, really slim. I looked for used ruby slippers on Ebay, but even then after shipping, the costs were near $15 to $20. Not sure of how to spend as little as possible and still meet her desires, I put it on the back burner of my brain and let the notion stew...

As I was cleaning out my daughter's closet the other day, I came across this pair of old Sunday shoes with the toes worn out. I was about to toss them into the garbage when the light went off in my head! These were just the Ugly Duckling version of Ruby Slippers!!!

A trip to the store for red glitter and a little digging in my craft closet for Mod Podge and a foam brush, and I was set. Now mind you, glitter is not for the faint of heart...It was easy as pie, although my house is glittering from end to end with sprinkles of red glitter. Ah, vacuums, right?

Just in case you happen to be needing a last-minute costume like me, I've got your back! The first step of "Ruby Slipper Transformation" is to stuff the shoes with newspaper and paint the shoes with a layer of Mod Podge. Sprinkle the red glitter and let dry. Repeat those steps to add a depth of glittery-ness if desired.

When both layers are dry, clap the shoes together outside to shake off the loose glitter, then spray with a coat of polyurethane if you feel up to it. (Not sure that step is necessary, but I had hopes that it would seal the glitter together, preventing excess glitter from getting more-everywhere than it already was.)

Now, these ruby slippers are more for functionality than fashion. The glitter is chipping away in a few spots, and the bottoms got a little goopy with the Mod Podge, but I figure that they are going to be one-time-wonders for my little gal, and they only cost me the price of glitter: $2.99. Bargain.

Today, my challenge is to put together the Dorothy dress...Again, the Ebay prices and store prices were just way more than I was willing to pay. I thought about just figuring out a dress pattern myself, but here in the eleventh hour, thought better of that notion.

So....I did spend a little on this pattern, BUT, I'm considering this an investment, as the pattern is adorable and will be used again and again. I love the work from this gal, Carla C. I have collaborated with her in the past on various projects through You Can Make This, and her work is always top-notch and so very easy to follow and professional.

I'm banking on whipping it up in a flash. I have three hours until my kiddos are home from school to get it done. My Little Missy is very stressed out about this, and keeps reminding me that she doesn't think it will be done in time because "Halloween is only 3 days away!" She just doesn't know me very well yet, does she? ;)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Crazy Halloween Dinner Tradition...Revisited

Last fall, I posted about our family's tradition of the Crazy Halloween Dinner. I had several people contact me for more details, so I thought I'd revisit this post again, but a little earlier in the season. It is such great fun! But BEWARE: After doing it once with your family, you just may be coerced into doing it again and again! Your kiddos and any guestswill love it.

Here is how it works:

As the hostess, begin by planning your menu for the evening. For us it generally consists of regular meal items such as chicken and potatoes, barbecued beef sandwiches, or some type of casserole. But as you can see in the photo above, my niece planned her menu using some unique food choices for the occasion. Either way works great...just don't feel pressure to fix anything out of the ordinary. The food itself is not necessarily the entertaining part of this is how it's presented that makes it such fun!

So, begin listing your menu items so that you have 12 things on your menu, but these will also include a drink, each of your utensils, and a perhaps a napkin. Here is an example:

1. Spaghetti and Meatballs
2. Green salad and dressing
3. Buttered peas
4. Garlic bread
5. Fresh fruit
6. Jello salad
7. Punch to drink
8. Pumpkin cheesecake for dessert
9. Napkin

The next step is to get creative and assign a spooky and crazy name that provides a subtle hint as to what each menu item might be. For example, the garlic bread could be called "Tombstones"; the punch could be "Witches Brew"; and the spaghetti and meatballs...well, I'm sure you could come up with something that sounds totally disgusting!

Now create a menu that lists each of the crazy names on them, and a space in which to write the numbers 1, 2, or 3, which will designate which course that item will be served in. You will be serving 3 courses of four food items. (You could also serve 4 courses of three food items if desired.) Be sure to make a master "key" so you can easily remember what each food items are called!

The following is menu and key from a few years ago that you can use if you'd like. Just click to enlarge, and print.

When your guests arrive, give each person a menu and have them choose their food items for each course by numbering them 1, 2, or 3. The fun of this is that your guests won't know exactly what they are ordering, and little will they know that they are ordering their utensils as well! Be sure that each guest's name is on his or her menu, then collect them before you begin serving.

I line up all the menus on my counter, then dish up each person's plate according to what they ordered, then serve one at a time. After everyone is finished with their first course, I take their plates back (and any utensils they had for that course) and serve them their second course and so on. My hubby usually helps, so it goes quite quickly, and everyone is happy to chat for a bit between courses. And, the family who first introduced this tradition to us gave us this tip...that once a person's drink is served, he can keep his cup for refills throughout the rest of dinner. That is usually very appreciated!

Every year, someone inevitably orders their spoon, a knife, a side dish, and a roll for one course, and in the next they have their dessert, a main dish, a napkin, a drink, and no silverware. Yep, a little crazy, but lots of fun! It's especially entertaining when we have another family over to share the surprises with.

Last year, my niece and her husband hosted our dinner, so it was entertaining for me as well, as I didn't have a clue what I was ordering either! They were great hosts and came up with unique new dishes that our family hadn't tried before, which made it extra fun for us all!

The most popular and talked about dish of the night? The "Kitty Litter!" It consisted of vanilla pudding topped with crushed graham crackers and an occasional melted tootsie roll that looked like...well, you know what. Rather disgusting, but delightful for the youngsters at the same time!

Here is Blondie determining which menu items she wanted for each course:

A.W. had to eat his "Ogre Buttocks" (ham) and "Sliced Snail" (pumpkin roll) with a knife:

And by the time Blondie got to this course, she had no silverware!

It was a great night, and filled with some entertaining memories! The Crazy Halloween Dinner is a now a standard tradition in our home. If you give it a try, I would love to hear about your menus and how you made it special for your family.

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