I know, I know. It’s been a really long time since I’ve been on here and written anything at all. I’m sorry about that. Really, I am.
It’s been a crazy few months around here! September was rough. I started working graveyards at my “day” job. I love working the graves shift, but my family hates it so much. I get it, I do. I sleep all day, I’m up all night, and I’m practically a zombie on my days off – if I’m not prepping to work an on call shift. September was a rough adjustment month. Of course, by the time I started feeling normal on graves, my 3-month term was up – but more on that later. September, my son turned 12! Oh my gosh, he’s almost a teenager! He has the attitude to match, for sure. He’s gotten so moody and hormonal lately. I am not prepared for this. At first I wondered if maybe his meds were off, but his doctor assured me all was fine and this was “normal.” Um, okay? I guess?
October I decided to be super woman and hand make my kids’ Halloween costumes. What was I thinking? Not only was I halfway through my graves shift, and a walking zombie, but we also had family come visit for 4 days in the middle of the month. Miss B begged and begged and begged to be Moana for Halloween. I looked at all the costumes at the stores, but they were all really cheap looking – even the $50 one at the Disney store – so I decided I could probably whip something passable up with my sewing skillz. I bought some stretchy/gauzy fabric (honestly, I’m not even sure what it was, it was just the right color and in the apparel section at Joann’s), and some canvas and beads, and got to work.
The first step was to make the grass skirt. I went to my local floral and bought a yard of jute (after measuring my kiddo’s waist – bigger waist, you’ll need more jute, just sayin’) and a package of raffia. I did not need the whole package of raffia, but it was nice to have the extra just in case. I followed the same wrapping technique I show in my Independence Day Bandana Wreath tutorial to wrap the the raffia around the jute. Basically, the jute is acting like the waistband, which you’ll tie around the wearer’s waist, and the raffia is making the skirt.
Next I figured out how to make the top and sash. Basically, it’s just a tube. I did leave the back a little longer at the top, in case I needed to add straps to help keep it up, but ended up just folding that over to the inside, and sewing some elastic into the top between the folded fabric and the back side. It sounds confusing – it was. I seriously made like 3 of these stupid tubes of fabric before I finally got it to the shape and size I wanted. My biggest suggestion would be to make sure you cut it big enough it’ll stretch over her head/arms, but tight enough it won’t fall off her every 5 seconds. I did buy a nude-colored t-shirt for her to wear underneath, just for added coverage, and that helped with the fit as well. Also, remember that I did this whole costume for like less than $40 at the time, so I was running on a budget and wasn’t trying to make it all fancy. Yet (we’ll get to that part of the story soon enough!)
I used Tulip brand fabric paint in a brown to do the painting. And, I used foam brushes. I bought a pack of assorted sizes and found one I liked to do the design at the bottom and top edges, and then just used a bigger foam brush to fill in the design across the chest in the middle. It was a lot of painting. And yes, I painted after I’d sewn the fabric into the top, to make sure that everything lined up the way I wanted it to.
I strung the beads on last, using a brown thread. There’s a teeny, tiny stitch between each bead. So, I came up from the back of the fabric, put a bead on, then went back down super close to the edge of the bead, then came back up really close to where I went down before stringing another bead on. That gives it the look of being strung closely together, but also holds them in place. One thing I did notice was that between wearing it all day at school and going to Trunk or Treat that night, one of the knots popped through the top of the fabric and we lost a bead. NBD. It still looked fine. And it’s an easy enough fix. I bought a couple of sets of strung beads from Joann’s for this, and I had some extras left over so I can fix it if she wants to wear it again next year.
For the sash, I cut really long piece of the fabric I used for the top. I only painted on the one edge, because the plan was to fold the sash in half before tying. I believe the fabric I used was 60 inches wide, so I just cut a 6 inch wide strip of that, but I don’t remember for sure – and I’m too lazy to go pull it out of the costume storage bin in the other room to check. Sorry! Really, just wing it. Whatever size you’re going for, just make sure you have plenty of length to wrap around the person’s body, knot it, and have some sort of tails to hang down for effect.
Once the top and sash were done, I set to working on the skirts. Yes, skirts. If you’ve ever seen Moana, she has 3. The grass skirt (which we’ve already made) and 2 other skirts. 1 is shorter, and 1 is longer. Both have a chevron edge and decorative stitching/painting on them. I seriously spent hours studying close up images on the internet of her skirts. Like, it was a lot of time. You’d think I was trying to make it historically accurate or something. Anyway, I ended up using a natural colored canvas fabric, and cut the skirts a little bigger than needed. I used velcro to fit them down to Miss B’s waist later. I cut the triangle shapes and the cut-outs out first. But, hindsight is always 20/20, and I probably would do the stitching first and the cut-outs second next time around.
Yes, you read that right. Stitching. I was initially going to paint the designs on and call it good, but I thought it would look better if I stitched it all using embroidery floss. I spent so much dang money on floss. Seriously. I wiped my local Joann’s out of white and yellow not once, but twice. Yes, twice. I actually ran out for the last flower on the larger skirt and had to use a slightly lighter yellow. It ended up being fine, but I know it’s different, and that bother’s my OCD just a little.
As you can see, Miss B is modeling this thing and she looks just too dang cute! It ended up fitting quite well, but I didn’t think the whole going to bathroom thing through all the way. Poor kiddo couldn’t go potty all day at 1st grade without worrying if her grass skirt was going to fall in the toilet. If I did it again, I’d probably make an under layer that would assist with this problem, so she wouldn’t have to take it all off just to go. But, I’m probably not going to make it again. HAHA
So I finally get Miss B’s costume done, after hours of stitching through stiff canvas and I literally had no fingers left, when family comes to visit in October. The week before Halloween. And of course, Mr M decides to change his mind 8 million times about what he wants to be for Halloween. He finally settles on Luigi, and I go buy a pattern to make the overalls. But guess what? I get the pattern all cut out to the XS size, and it’s long enough to fit my husband! WTH?! So I totally scrap that and decide to just run to the thrift store to see what I can find. Bless whoever made Mario/Luigi costumes and donated them that year, because I found a pair of homemade blue overalls that fit the child, and a solid colored red t-shirt. Yep. Red. Because by this time, I didn’t have time to make a green hat that said “L” on it, and Mr M already had a red Mario hat so…..there we are. He got what he got, and he was sad for a minute. I also bought a pair of white gloves at the Dollar Tree to finish the costume off.
Don’t they just look so cute?! As you can see, on the Moana costume, I chose not to make the necklace. I got super ambitious and thought about it for like 2 seconds, until the skirts took 90 million years to stitch. So instead, I bought the wig at Walmart and the necklace off Amazon. The wig is insane. That hair went everywhere!
So, after all’s said and done, I probably spent as much (more) on Miss B’s costume as if I’d bought the deluxe $50 Disney store one. But, I made up for it on Mr M’s costume, because the thrift store came through and it literally cost me $8 for the whole thing!
And that brings us to November. At the beginning of November, we were given a tip about an awesome house in an older neighborhood of the city my kids’ school is in. It is literally up the street from their school. The rent was less than what we were paying already, and it was a 3 bed 1 bath (as opposed to the 2 bed 1-1/2 bath we were living in) with a huge car port, cellar, and tons of storage space. Did I mention it had a fenced yard? Yeah, it was like a dream come true. Only problem? There was someone else ahead of us in line, and they decided they wanted it.
I got all depressed because we didn’t get the house, and put Christmas up on Election Night (because that was depressing as well). My tree looked so dang cute!
We went on with our regularly scheduled lives, and then, the week before Thanksgiving, I woke up for my graveyard shift to find a text: “Hey, the other couple fell through. Do you still want the house?”
Ummmmm….YES! So we rushed over, took a look at the house, said we wanted it, and started the approval process. So, here’s the sitch with the house: It’s owned by the city. So the council has to approve tenants. NBD. I work at Dispatch for the PD, my husband is a native, and we both have major ties to the community. My mother-in-law literally knows everyone in town – or at least most everyone in town. So we had to wait for the next council meeting which was . . . . wait for it . . . . . the day before Thanksgiving. Council meeting comes, we get approved, we sign the lease, and I text my current landlord that we’ll be moving out.
Here’s where things got tricky for us. We’d lived there for nearly 10 years. We were the longest tenants they’d had. And, the swamp cooler (which had been removed when they installed an AC unit on the side of the building) had been leaking for maybe half of that – at least. We’d called and texted and complained, and every time they’d told us there was nothing more they could do. “We’ve been up there and can’t find the leak.” “We’re selling the building as-is and aren’t going to put any more money into it. You’ll have to bring it up with the new owners when the sale goes through.” Yeah, that last one was what we heard in October. With every rainstorm, I’d sit at work and wonder if I’d come home to my ceiling on the floor because the sheetrock at the edge of the vent had started to swell and curl back, with what looked like black mold growing through it. I don’t even want to think what the inside looked like!
So we were kind of going into this whole moving thing with the thought that they’d let us out of our month-to-month contract with very limited time since they needed to repair the ceiling before they could rent it out. Right?
Well, yes and no. It took some negotiating (and sharing of the above photo), but they finally agreed to let us out on December 1st. Yep. So here we are, the day before Thanksgiving, and I now have 8 days to pack and move out. Oh joy! I didn’t even have moving boxes!! Needless to say, the last week of November was a nightmare. I was packing and moving things over to the new place in between sleeping and working my graveyard shift. Out of sheer coincidence, I’d gotten the 30th of November off for a girls’ trip we were taking down south, which ended up getting cancelled last minute. Thank goodness! Because when we started moving out the large furniture pieces in our bedroom We found a fuzzy, black mold colony. Behind where our dresser and bed were. I even tried to clean some of it up when we moved out and spent a day cleaning, but I did not have the right cleaners to combat that at all. We found a similar, smaller spot in the back of the closet behind where we kept the electric and acoustic guitars, too. Weird thing, both corners are on the outside wall of the house. Makes me think maybe the siding was leaking? I don’t know. Anyway, we told the landlord about that when we left. I don’t know how, or if, they fixed it, but the new tenants moved in on the 2nd, and we were gone by the end of the night on the 30th so . . . . best guess there? Probably not.
And then December came and I switched shifts from graves to days, just as my body was finally starting to sleep well during the day. Ugh. This day shift thing is killing me. I have a near-constant headache from the glare from the windows on my computer screens. I need to find my special computer glasses. They’re probably in a box somewhere. Why? because I still have 16 boxes to unpack! Here we are, the middle of January, and I still have boxes that need unpacking. My house is still in complete chaos (hence the no photos yet), and I can’t find anything anywhere because it’s not where I’m used to it being. But, we’re in a 3 bed, 1 bath and it has tons of storage and I find myself wondering daily how I ever managed to fit all this crap into 900 square feet.
Oh, but we did get a new member of our family, so it’s all good! We adopted a kitten from a local shelter. I told my husband if we ever got a cat it needed to meet three criteria: be a female, be a black cat, and be a rescue. Her name is Sabrina (Brina for short) and she is the sweetest dang thing ever. She is very loving and social, but she does well being left alone while everyone is at school or work. Santa Paws even brought her some toys for her Christmas stocking.
Mr M has been having some anxiety issues, and it really seems like the cat has helped that a lot, too – at least, according to the school counselor’s notes.
And that puts us to here, mid-January. Halfway through my stint on days, in a new house, with a new kitten, with a bunch of new goals. But don’t worry, I won’t get into that here!
Thanks for reading. And, if you’ve stuck with me this far, I’d love to hear what your New Year’s Resolutions are! I’ll be doing a different post on mine, but let’s hear yours in the comments, okay?