Keeping Up With the Joneses

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Well, it's time for the big reveal! Often imitated, but never duplicated, it's the Walkush Family Halloween costume choices for 2012. Drum roll please . . .


That's right. We were all headed back in time based on one wee person's costume selection. Jaxon was the driving force behind this year's costume choice (if you can believe it). We had shown him the Indiana Jones movies late last year and early this year, and he had his heart set on being Indiana Jones:



Doesn't he look dashing?

So, now what - we asked ourselves. Indiana Jones kind of backed us into a corner costume-wise. Or, so we thought. Based on that costume choice, Ryan had the brilliant idea that we should all go as 1980's movie characters.

I immediately snatched up Marty McFly (who doesn't love Michael J. Fox?):


But what about Dirty Dancing; what about Flashdance?!?! This is a travesty! Well, let's just say that October in North Carolina is usually cold and given the opportunity to layer within an inch of my life (with an orange puffer vest as one of the layers no less!), I took it. Cut-off shorts (Dirty Dancing) or a hacked up sweatshirt (Flashdance) simply wouldn't have "cut" it for the weather this time of year.

Ryan Barrett Walkush called dibs on Maverick (one of his favorite movies is Top Gun):


Just look at that toasty warm jacket he gets to wear. I see you are not judging him. ;-)

And finally Aidyn . . . Aidyn was our hold-out. We thought for sure he would pick Han Solo or even Karate Kid. He was on the fence until late September (and for someone like me who meticulously plans Halloween months in advance when possible, I thought I was going to have a heart attack). But, he finally settled on Bumblebee the Transformer (thankfully, a costume that could be purchased outright, batteries not included BUT no assembly required):


And as per usual Walkush family tradition, we let our fluffy baby Smitty participate in character as Benji. Trust me when I say that his next grooming appointment is scheduled for this Saturday! Poor thing, I don't know if he can even see through all of his fluff:


And here are a few pics of the whole motley crew:


Do you think it's time for tricks or treats yet?


Holy crap, Maverick! We're not outnumbered, but they have weapons! Where's the Delorean when you need it?

Hope your Halloween was everything you wanted it to be. With temperatures in the 40's this year, it turns out that the extra-warm costumes weren't that bad of an idea. We had hardly any trick-or-treaters out and about this year as compared to previous years. More candy for those who were out, I guess!

Check out these other posts for the lowdown on all of our other Halloween family costumes through the years:


Linking to The Mom Creative Annual Halloween Costume Link-Up.

Competing Fairy Tales

Well, it is what it is, I'm afraid.  She couldn't convince me to be her Big Bad Wolf or Grandma to her Little Red Riding Hood, and I couldn't convince her to be my White Rabbit to my Alice.

So it appears that we are at an impasse....




Nonetheless, Happy Halloween to you all!!

Our Hometown High School Produces "Thriller" Video

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

This was the high school attended by all three of the Harris Sisters- Person High School in Roxboro, North Carolina.  I can't believe that their theatre department produced this pretty darn professional video set to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" earlier this year.  

We sure didn't do anything like that when I was a student wandering those hallowed halls.  And for the record, it hasn't been that long ago!



I thought this was perfect for the Halloween season, and a good shout out for the hometown kids too.   If you are from Roxboro, NC, please feel free to share this link.  It's great to see our hometown on the map!  Enjoy!

Hide and Seek

It has come to my attention that I'm missing out on some things in my Facebook newsfeed that I had previously seen on a regular basis. From what I understand, Facebook tracks what you click on, like, comment on, etc. And, if you don't do these things regularly, they use that information to phase out what you see. (I guess the thinking is that if you don't interact with something, you could care less about it.)

So, if you're like me, and just want to get updates, for example, on what deals the local Harris Teeter is running this week, eventually those posts will stop showing up in your newsfeed unless you're the type of person who will give a like to a sale on broccoli or toilet paper on a regular basis. (I am not that person.)

I found this tutorial online that shows how to put all of those "update" type posts into one list that you can then just check in one place. I tried it and it worked!


Give it a go and see if you don't feel more informed about the price of broccoli. I know I do. :-)

Homemade Sloppy Joes- Perfect for Halloween Night

I met John right around Halloween-time four years ago, and it was then that he introduced me to his family tradition of making homemade Sloppy Joes on Halloween night each year.  His mom always made them for dinner on Halloween before the kiddos went out trick-or-treating.

And now, the tradition lives on.

(Click on the picture for a larger image of the recipe.)


Isn't it wonderful to share holiday traditions?  We normally eat these outside, sitting by the fire in the front yard, with our bucket of candy as we wait for the neighborhood ghosts and goblins to appear.  


Oh, and it's a requirement that you eat these with salty potato chips.  I guarantee these are far superior to the mix you get out of a can, and literally take about as much effort!  Enjoy!

And if you are interested in taking a look through lots of other tried and true recipes from my mother-in-law who happens to also be a wonderful cook, here's the link to a lot more goodies for you: http://jancooks.blogspot.com/.


I Had a Little Trouble with the Scissors

Monday, October 29, 2012


Hope you are getting into the "spirit" of things!

And for anyone who is interested, ABC is airing "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" on Halloween night at 8 pm ET/ 7 pm CT.  

Halloween Costumes on the Cheap

Sunday, October 28, 2012

We are a little excited about Halloween. (Read that: I am a little cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs about Halloween.) So, I thought I'd talk a little about how to save on Halloween costumes without scrimping on quality.


Reduce

Costumes that you purchase outright are often very expensive. Sometimes it's cheaper to make your own. (And sometimes if you've chosen something obscure, you have no choice.)

In our case, we have a very tall person in our midst. And for some reason, costume makers do not take that into account. So many times, I have had to make Ryan Barrett Walkush's costumes with clothes that will actually fit him.

The year we went as Elvis, I made his costume from black pants and a black jacket purchased from Ross Dress for Less. (Tip: Buy from the cheapest places you can for Halloween attire.) I painted the stitching and jail numbers on with glitter puff paint and sewed the striped shirt myself. The total cost for the costume couldn't have been more than $30 (certainly less than a licensed costume from Elvis Presley Enterprises, and it fit him perfectly!).


Ryan's Freddie from Scooby Doo costume was simply a purchased white sweater from Hamricks (el cheapo grande!), a piece of orange chiffon fabric tied into a scarf, and a blonde wig. We owned the blue collared shirt and jeans. Total cost: $30.

That year, we also made Aidyn's costume because he wanted to be Shaggy. That was a purchase of a lime green t-shirt from AC Moore. We already owned the white undershirt and the corduroy pants. We drew on the soul patch with a makeup pencil and let him grow his hair out. Total cost: $2.50 for green t-shirt. (My agonizing over the extra weeks of unkempt hair = FREE.)


The year we went as SuperFamily - nearly the entire family's costume was DIY. We had just had a baby and pretty much needed to work with what we had. Ryan had the Superman t-shirt and of course, we both had business attire. We popped the lenses out of a pair of old sunglasses for Clark Kent's glasses and designed and printed the Daily Planet press passes ourselves. The baby-sized Superman costume was a gift. We purchased two SuperDog bandannas for our dogs. Total cost: $10 for two dog bandannas.


Reuse

You might have heard me say before that you should try to repurpose your Halloween costume items when you can. If you can invest in pieces that you can use from year to year, then you can amortize the cost of them over more than just one costume and lower the price per use. You'll extend the life of the purchase.

I would like to think Martha would say, "It's a good thing." I would also like to think Snoop would concur, "Fo Shizzle." And in my head, it's a way to get Ryan Barrett Walkush to stop saying, "Elizabeth, I'm coming to join you honey" every time he finds out how much Halloween costumes cost.

Shoes will usually be your biggest investment. And I do believe in making sure your footwear matches your costume when you can. So, if you can get a few different costumes out of your purchase, that's where you can stretch your dollars.

Ryan has a pair of costume boots that have seen quite a bit of use. They cost about $60 when we bought them, but we've used them three times thus far - Han Solo, Pirate, and Wolverine (because he is so tall that the costume looked like capri pants on him - and the knee boots covered that nicely). So that averages to $20 per use.


I have a pair of white go-go boots that I've also used three times - Princess Leia, Vegas Elvis, and Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (Go-Go Dancer). About $20 per use at this point.


Hair Extensions and Wigs can also be repurposed if they're not too "out there." For example, the bright orange Daphne wig I purchased when we were the Scooby Doo gang has probably one use. However, when I purchased hair extensions that were the color of my own hair to go with my Wonder Woman costume, I knew that those might be repurposed some day.

And, I was able to reuse those again the year we went as Movie Monsters. I was a mummy and I figured I needed some extra oomph since the costume wrapped around my head and enveloped my own hair without them. They looked great!


Recycle

Of course, make sure your friends and family know to save any costume-worthy clothes, accessories, and shoes for you to build your costume closet. Hey, over the years, I've racked up:

  • some vintage red shoes that I've used as Dorothy's slippers
  • the red Candies that happen to be dead ringers for the shoes Sandy wore in final scene of Grease
  • a cool flower print go-go dress (show above)
  • some strappy shoes that were perfect match for a mummy dress
  • a vintage gold 1970s jumpsuit
  • a beaded bohemian "hippie" top (show accessorized here)
  • a 3/4 sleeve black maxi dress and black witch's boots (shown accessorized here)
  • a short-sleeved red dress with white trim that makes the perfect Little Orphan Annie Dress (show accessorized here)
So, the moral of this story is to save where you can, splurge where you need to, and keep an eye out for hand-me-downs that have potential.

Random Dancing

Saturday, October 27, 2012

As I was digging out the pink candy pumpkin for the school carnival last night, I discovered it has become home to a few 80's stars:


They looked like they needed a dance floor, so I provided them some cardboard.  Emma would be happy putting them in and taking them out of said pink pumpkin.  However, Charlotte turns in to Steven Spielburg! She discovered the video function on the camera.  What started out as some good ol' fashioned California Raisin break dancing, became random dancing with the whole fam:

video

(Howard is good at "leaving it on the floor")





Holy Crap! Charlotte's a Zombie!

This episode of Community (which can be quite hit or miss with the funnies) quickly became legend in our house last summer:


Set to the Mamma Mia soundtrack, they cultivated zombies at a campus Halloween bash, so we thought that we would do the same this Halloween.  Emma Lola developed a nice growl that we all started replicating. Zombies seemed to be everywhere (even in Florida!), but I guess they first started popping up in the ATL (on "The Walking Dead"), so that's where we started:


At the end of summer, when I told Charlotte that she had only a few weeks left before school started to get all of her sleepovers in, she did just that. So to pry them away from the computer, we took a trip to Wally-world and picked up the elaborate costume for this:  shorts and a tank. Then, I hosed down a section in the back yard and let them roll in it.

Ya bit?  Ya bit?!!!


Holy Crap!  Charlotte's a Zombie!


Zombie Attack!






Easy Halloween Costume

Since my family makes such a big deal about keeping our Halloween costumes a secret until Halloween, when we are invited to dress up BEFORE Halloween (as I was for our work costume party this year), I make every effort to come up with an alternate costume without spending an arm and a leg - what with all my Halloween funds having already been spent on the super-secret (and awesome, if I do say so myself) costumes that will be revealed on Halloween.

So this year, I went hunting in my costume closet, and put together this little number inspired by Wham! (because, really, who doesn't get inspired when they hear J-J-J-itterbug . . . ?)


Here's the cost breakdown:

  • Dress: free (this was actually a hand-me-up from one of my sisters who knows I am always on the lookout for "costume-closet-worthy material")
  • Chain belt: already owned (this is actually a very long necklace)
  • Boots: already owned (these are the same boots I've used twice before for Halloween: as Princess Leia and Vegas Elvis - invest in pieces that can be multi-purpose - these have served me better than my Wonder Woman boots, although they were fabulous)
  • Purple Tights: $10.99 from Amazon (free shipping with a 3-month free membership to Amazon Mom, which they offer periodically)
  • Pillow & Blanket: already owned
  • Hair: free with this tutorial Go-Go Dancer Hairstyle, (already owned hairband)
So, I think that $10.99 total for the whole costume is not bad considering this is technically my second costume for this year. (First one to be revealed to you guys November 1 - don't miss it!)

Other 1980s song-themed costumes that I wouldn't think would be too hard to pull off on the cheap:
  • Purple Rain (umbrella with purple beads attached), 99 Red Balloons (a crap load of red balloons)
  • It's Raining Men (umbrella with cut outs of men attached)
  • Sunglasses at Night (super easy if you're going to a party at night-time!). 


I'm sure there are others - just go through your closet and see what matches up to the hits that you remember from that era.

And because I just know that you've been thinking about it since about paragraph two, I'll leave you with this:
You're welcome.

Floating on a Breeze

Friday, October 26, 2012

Last weekend, John and I did something that's been on our bucket list for a while- a Hot Air Balloon ride through the country.  This was actually John's birthday present from last year, but we wanted to wait to schedule it during the peak fall colors of October.  So away we went.  It wasn't scary at all.  We literally floated on a breeze.

Here is how our afternoon unfolded...

If you ever wondered just how big a hot air balloon is, let me just tell you, it's bigger than you could ever imagine.  Here is our balloon unfolded on the ground, ready for inflating.   This particular balloon holds 120,000 cubic feet of air (meaning you could fit 120,000 basketballs inside it!)

 Oh, and I made the scarf I am wearing in this photo.  More about that later.  :)




We weren't the only balloon hitting the sky last weekend.  There were actually four of them going up at the same time.  Here is John watching the space between these two balloons quickly close in on him.




Also pretty nifty was how they employed the use of passengers to help with the various aspects of setting up and taking down the balloon.  The two people pictured here holding the balloon in place as it filled with air were actually our fellow passengers. 



And this was the entire group of us that went up in this balloon, along with our pilot, of course.  It was a pretty tight fit inside the basket, but as you might imagine, you aren't exactly moving around a lot once you are airborne.





And speaking of airborne, here we are just after take off!









And here is what the views looked like from the air.  


This may very well be my favorite photo of them all.  John took it, and I loved the way the shadow of our balloon lays out over this farm. 











After a perfect afternoon of taking in the sights, it was time to settle in for a landing.  The funny part of that was that you really can't predict "where" you will land.  You are literally at the mercy of the wind to some degree.  We landed in the middle of a road!  So funny!  Actually, the balloon you see in the background of the picture above landed right about where they were there- in someone's yard!  How would you like to look out your window and see that!!

As I said, they used the manpower of our passengers throughout the ride.  Here John helping to steer the balloon back down to the street we landed on.  The basket was already on the ground, but they had to still bring the balloon part back down to earth.  Thank goodness they didn't call on me to actually help with anything!  :)


And this was the deflation process...  Again, John was called upon for his skills and talents. 


And finally, we learned that all Hot Air Balloon rides end with a ceremonious champagne toast!  
Don't mind if I do!  It was a perfect ending to this day. 


Oh, and they sent us away with a little momento.  They turned the champagne cork into a hot air balloon for us to remember them by!



 If you ever find yourself in a hot air balloon, here are a couple things to remember:

1.  It gets HOT up there.  They don't call it "hot" air balloon for nothing.  The burners that heat the air are literally right above your head and are on for the majority of the ride.

2.  There is no wind in a hot air balloon.  You are literally floating "with" the wind, so you don't feel a breeze or any rocking at all.   It was fairly breezy the afternoon we went, and we didn't feel any air movement while we were in the air.

3.  And finally, relax and enjoy.  How many times do you get to cross an item off the old bucket list?  Whenever you do, and whatever it is, just soak up every moment and appreciate the memory in the making!