It's a BOO-tiful Day in the Neighborhood

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Let it never be said that our little town doesn't get into the Halloween spirit.  I have often said that if our neighbors did Halloween this well when we were growing up, I would have been in Halloween heaven. Alas, a lit pumpkin on the porch was about as spooktacular as it ever got back then.  But, my oh my, the times sure have changed. 

And a quick trip around town with my trusty camera was all it took to capture these ghouls, spooks, and specters getting ready for their big night. 

Witches: 

This house always decorates this topiary for the season.  Over the summer, it was a bride, but this witch takes the cake.  I love her and her boots sticking out of the bottom. 


This witch seems to have had a crash landing.  Those legs are pretty sweet, and I love the pumpkin topiaries flanking the doorway. 


And I saw this lovely for the first time yesterday.  No doubt she is resting up for Friday night. 



Spiders: 

I have been in love with this Halloween house for as long as I've lived here.  Those are the biggest spiders I've ever seen, and they descend upon this house about this time every year.  Creepy. 


As you can see, the spiders extend all the way around the house.  


And then a little ways down the street, you run into this house.  Take a look at this spider and it's eerie warning. 


Now, take a look at the house it belongs to.  These spiders have been working overtime.  Under all that spider web, is an actual house.  They definitely win the prize for most use of spider webs. 


Speaking of spider webs, this one belongs to our neighbor.  But I did a double take when I saw their mummy door.  Extra points for that!!


Ghouls from the Great Beyond:

I have actually introduced you to this house once before.  Although you might not recognize it now.  It would seem that this year, the skeletons have taken over for a frightening update to this porch. 


Although, upon closer inspection, I think these skeletons are actually partying.  It would appear that the skeleton in the center is running a DJ booth, while the others are dancing and enjoying the night.  Maybe this isn't quite so scary after all.  


But this house gave me an unexpected surprise.  Amidst the beautiful fall displays stand two life sized mummies on either side of their front door.  


This haunted henchman just showed up recently in our neighborhood.


 As did this spooky graveyard.


But it's not all frightful.  These sweet little dancing ghosts belong to our next door neighbors.



And in case you are wondering what our Halloween display looks like, here you go.  Not at all scary.  Full of pumpkins, including that cute one on Daddy's lap. 


 I hope you too are getting in the spirit.  Only a few days left!

How to Make a Poodle Skirt and Crinoline

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Harris Sister Misty helped to organize a Sock Hop for Charlotte's homeschool group. Of course, this meant that the kiddos would need to come dressed in all the latest 1950's fashions. A poodle skirt and crinoline were in order, and they're super easy to make (very low sew!). So, pin this tutorial for inspiration should you need one for your next Sock Hop, school play, or Halloween costume:


The Poodle Skirt


  • 2 yards of 72" wide felt (in color of your choice)
  • 2 inch wide elastic the same length as child’s waist measurement
  • Measuring tape
  • Sharpie marker
  • Scissors
  • Additional felt in color of your choice for "poodle" accent
  • Ribbon, cord, etc. for the “leash” (should be enough to go from “poodle” to waist of skirt with a few loops and flourishes), if desired
  • Sequins or rhinestone embellishments, if desired
  • Hot glue gun


First, measure the waist of the child you're making the skirt for and measure for the length of the skirt. Write down these two measurements, as you will be referring to them throughout the process of making the skirt.

Lay your large piece of skirt felt on a flat surface. (I used the floor because this is a very large piece of felt.) Find the center of this piece of felt.

Make a circle in the center of the felt that is slightly larger than your child's waist measurement. I used a kitchen mixing bowl that was a larger measurement and traced around that with the Sharpie marker. If you want to go with the "trace around something" route, make sure to measure around the thing you plan on tracing to make sure that it's larger than your child's waist. Remember: measure twice, cut once.


You can see that the circle isn't exactly in the middle, but you'll be cutting away some of the felt at the bottom, so nobody will notice. :-)


Now, you'll need to take out your measuring tape and measure from the center circle, marking the length of the skirt. Do this all the way around the circle, making a mark about every 5 or 6 inches.



Now, go back into the recesses of your mind and try to remember what Pee Wee Herman instructed us to do with dots. That's right! "Connect the dots, La-la-la-la!" :-) This will form your outer circle - the hemline of your skirt.


When you're finished, you should have something that looks like this:


Cut out the outer and inner circles:


Next, you'll need to cut your elastic for the waist and do the only bit of sewing required for the whole project. Cut the elastic the same size as the waist measurement. Overlap it by 1 inch and sew it into a circle, making sure to sew down both overlapping edges to make the waistband sturdy. Use this tutorial from Dana Made It to pin and sew the elastic waistband to the skirt.


To embellish the skirt, choose a design that will complement the style of the era. Most people would opt for a poodle here, but Charlotte is a cat lover, so I hunted down a cat design that reminded me of Kitty Boo Boo from Laverne and Shirley.

Here are some free patterns for you to consider for your skirt. Remember, what you choose for your skirt can help distinguish you from the other gals, so while a poodle might be the "go-to" choice, there are other options that would be just as cute. Be creative:


I could not find a cat pattern that looked vintage enough for this skirt, so I opted to print an image of a vintage birthday card that had a cat on it

After you've chosen your image, print it to size, cut it out, flip it over, and use the Sharpie marker to trace it onto your contrasting felt. (You'll trace on the back side so that any errant Sharpie marks can be flipped to the back side when you're done.) Cut out your image, position it on your skirt (typically lower left corner) and hot glue it in place.

Embellish with ribbons, sequins, rhinestones, etc. Here, I used sequins for the cat's eyes and hot glued a ribbon tied into a bow onto the cat's neck.



The skirt is done and you can wear it as is OR you can step it up a notch and add a no sew crinoline.

The Crinoline

  • 20 yards of tulle in color of choice
  • Elastic or ribbon for waistband
  • Cutting mat
  • Rotary cutter
Remember the two measurements you took at the beginning of your project? (Waist measurement and length of skirt measurement.)

Take the length of skirt measurement and multiply it by two. Add four inches to that measurement. Use rotary cutter and cutting mat to cut the tulle into strips that are that length. Set aside.

Cut each strip into thinner strips on the cutting mat. Note: strips do not have to be a uniform width. You'll get into a groove when cutting!

Measure out elastic or ribbon for waistband. For a completely no sew project, plan to tie these to form the waist. If using elastic and you don't mind sewing, then measure, cut, and sew the elastic in the same manner as described above for the poodle skirt.

Use the tutorial from Living Well Spending Less to assemble the skirt. And for all of you paying attention, yes, this is basically a longer version of a no sew tutu. But it works perfectly to give the effect of a crinoline in this costume!




And here's the finished project in action:






The Devil's in the Details

Now that you've got your snazzy poodle skirt AND crinoline, don't forget the other accessories. Here's how Charlotte accessorized her costume:

  • vintage cat's eye glasses (found at Daddy's house - you can try Goodwill)
  • matching neck scarf
  • high ponytail
  • hand painted saddle shoes (paint white shoes with craft paint in the color of your choice)
  • bobby (ankle) socks
  • matching belt

Pumpkin Decorating Party

Saturday, October 25, 2014

We Walkushes have thrown a Pumpkin Carving Party for 13 years now. Our annual party was supposed to have happened this evening. But, as luck would have it, Aidyn woke up with a high fever that we didn't want to pass along to all of our guests (I mean, what a horrible way to celebrate Halloween).

So, instead, I sent an email first thing to cancel the party and made a doctors appointment. When we arrived at the appointment, we were utterly surprised to see that they'd been decorating pumpkins themselves and boy do they look professional. I thought I'd share them with you! Many have no carving involved and would be easy for kids to help with. Take a look!

Both Olaf and Sven were there. Olaf is three pumpkins stacked and painted. He has twig arms, felt and pompom features, a scarf, and googly eyes:


Sven is a squash and a pumpkin with felt features, eyelash yarn hair and eyebrows, and twig antlers:


Their other Disney pal, Nemo, was also there. His fins looked like they might be made of modeling clay:


Other character pumpkins included Cookie Monster, M&Ms, and Mario. Cookie Monster was painted blue and had ping pong ball eyes. His mouth was carved and stuffed full of cookies. :-)


The M&M display included one large pumpkin painted like the M&M mascot (note: she's dressed like a bunny for Halloween!) and 6 mini pumpkins painted like regular M&Ms.


The Mario pumpkin was hand-painted and probably takes a little more skill than most people have! (Certainly more than I do!)


Finally, here were a few non-character pumpkins that you just won't believe. Here's a witch's cauldron display:


And a giant caramel apple:


And my personal favorite, a box of Dunkin Donuts made with mini pumpkins. I literally did a double-take on this one (Why are there doughnuts on the pumpkin table???):


The pumpkins that the doctors, nurses, and other support staff used for the competition were grown at The Farm at The Children's Home of Winston Salem:


A BIG THANKS to Ford, Simpson, Lively, and Rice for knowing how to put a smile on a kid's face even when he's feeling yucky! Really, hands-down the BEST pediatricians around even when they're not professionally painting pumpkins.

And the moral of this story is that sometimes when life hands you lemons, you're really getting pumpkins - and awesome ones at that.

For those of you interested, Aidyn was diagnosed with a simple virus (not strep and not the flu - woot!). Doctors say that he should be start to feel better by tomorrow. Yay!

Antique and Arts Show Equals Inspiration Galore

Monday, October 20, 2014

If you are a long time follower of the blog, you might remember that I have mentioned the City Farmhouse on more than one occasion.   They are the fabulous local Franklin, Tennessee antique shop that brought us both this prized Halloween photo, as well as our claim-to-fame shabby chic bedroom chair.  

We visited them most recently over the summer, and even then they were telling us that they were hosting a fall-time "pop up show" in the hills of Tennessee that would feature antiques and art from some of the best dealers across the US and abroad.  It just so happens that the show was this past weekend, and we were there.  Let me tell you, it was gorgeous!  One of Nashville's famed record producers offered up his mansion and property as the setting for this beautiful show.  The house was decorated sublimely, but it was the grounds where most of the action was.  Tents filled with treasures dotted the lawn, in addition to a food truck corridor situated just off the entrance to the "secret" garden (which was also open for the event).  Thankfully, we brought along the camera so we could share this event with all of you too. 

Check out this vendor's eyecatching display.  No, babydoll wasn't for sale, but she did attract a lot of attention.  Almost as soon as we plopped her down amidst these pumpkins, she drew a crowd.  I looked up and there were no less than 20 ladies standing there oohing and aahing over her.   Oh my!  Incidentally, these beautiful pumpkins and gourds were for sale.  I think almost everything that wasn't nailed down was for sale, so needless to say, we got babydoll out of there FAST!


Just a few steps further was the band.  They had set up in this great camper with red striped awning.  They weren't playing when I caught these photos, but I loved their look.  



Take a look at their license plate:


And they had their CDs for sale out of these old suitcases.  Too cool!


If it was Halloween you were in the mood for, you were in luck!  There was plenty to be had.  I loved these vintage ghosts. 


And check out the scarecrow.  Loved him too!


Lots of newer artisan type pieces, in addition to the vintage ones.  I loved them too! 


There was inspiration at every turn!


We saw this great pumpkin as we were close to the end of the show, and incidentally it ended up coming home with us.  


For those more interested in decorating and collecting for Christmas, there was plenty of that too!




There was also a ton of everyday decor and furniture, vintage, repurposed, and new.  You name it, it was there.  I fell for this table and chairs.  The set was vintage but newly restored.  And that lazy susan on the tabletop?  You guessed it- it is built in!  Be still my beating heart!!


I also loved this shabby chic set up, and loved how they styled the centerpiece.  Told you there was lots of inspiration there!


Check out this gorgeous display of delicately feathered hair pieces.  Love!!


And this old apple picking ladder and vintage mirrors displayed under a tree.  I couldn't turn a corner without seeing something else I was in love with!


We decided to use this gorgeous place as the backdrop for a few quick pics.  Here's hubby and babydoll showing off in those pretty pumpkins.  


And here are me and my girl exploring that beautiful secret garden I was telling you about.  


What a fun day!  Gorgeous fall weather, fresh air, vintage finds, and decorating inspiration galore!  Doesn't get much better for this girl!