DIY American Girl Box Halloween Costume

Tonight I am meeting a self-imposed deadline of sharing my daughter's DIY costume before Halloween.  

By my clock I am sneaking in about three hours before midnight.


Due to the late hour I'm going to keep the commentary brief.  

I do want to say that this project was suggested to me by a friend and it is not original.  In fact, we had both pinned a version of it at one time or another.

So in the interest of giving credit where credit is due, check out other versions of the project HERE, HERE, HERE & HERE.

Now all of those other kind people gave great instructions, many of which we followed, so I think I can give an abbreviated tutorial.

First my friend picked up two boxes from the local U-Haul Store. Using a bowl as our guide, we cut out holes for the faces.

After priming the boxes so you could no longer see the word U-Haul, we spray painted them bright pink.  (They look extra bright in these iphone pictures.)

When that paint was dry, we taped off a stripe in the middle, and painted it maroon.

We waited a day before adding white duct-tape edging and vinyl letters for the logo, names, and ages.  (Made on the Silhouette, of course.)

White tempera paint outlines the circle around the face.

We placed foam and vinyl stars on the sides for decoration.  Also on the sides are arm holes which my daughter will be using in order to carry her candy bag.

Really they're more like arm flaps so you can keep your hands out:

...or you can keep them in:

Also important to note are the duct tape straps that we made on the inside so the boxes don't rest on their heads.

We reinforced the straps with these cute button-shaped brads which just happen to match the box perfectly.

Needless to say my American Girl is very happy with her costume!

Happy Halloween, everyone!



Googly-Eyed Door Monster

Check out the impulse buy I made at Michael's today.

I saw them just as I was swinging around the corner to check out. That's right: giant googly eyes!

Not buying them was simply not an option.

(Especially since they were staring at me so longingly.)

They have adhesive backing just like the little googly eyes do, but I decided to tape them on my window instead.  Then I added cardstock behind them to make it look like they belong to a big green monster.

Wouldn't you know that out of all of my Halloween decorations, the cheapest, easiest and fastest is probably my favorite.

Story of my life...

(Don't have a Michael's nearby?  You can buy similar eyes HERE.)




DIY "Chalkboard" Runner for Halloween

Oh, Halloween!

You are so full of... sugar.

And I like sugar; don't get me wrong.  But I also recognize the benefit of getting a little protein (and perhaps a vegetable or two) down my daughters' throats before sending them out to collect their sugary bounty.

The trick, as I'm sure you can imagine, is getting two excited girls to sit still long enough to consume that healthier fare.

In past years I've discovered that a festive Halloween table is just the thing to get them to slow down and eat before trick-or-treating.

This year's table will be set with something that I love: a "chalkboard runner."

I got the idea from The Paper Source, a store that makes me drool despite (or perhaps even because of) the cost of its wares.

It's those exorbitant prices that got me thinking outside the box: how could I make my own chalkboard runner for less than $35 (+shipping)?

The answer (for me) was black bulletin board paper.  Available at any teacher supply store, black bulletin board paper is significantly less expensive than the Paper Source's product.   (This roll from Amazon is only $2.90 for 12 ft.)

Just roll it out on your table, and then decorate it however you like.  I'm not so great at the chalk lettering so I went pretty simple: I used a chalk pencil (buy yours HERE) to outline the rectangular "placemats."  Then I added some simple lettering and a few cobwebs.  I followed that up with white plastic spiders, Halloween candles, and paper plates from the dollar store.

I really like the effect and think it will definitely inspire my kids to sit awhile (well, at least long enough to eat a vegetable or two...)

(And if I leave the pencils out for the kids to doodle with, I bet I can get them to stick around even longer!)

Happy Halloween, everyone!



Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

I want to start this post with a big shout-out to all the people who called and emailed to make sure I wasn't dead.  It's nice to know that I'm missed when I don't post for awhile.

I was hoping that, upon my return, I would be able to write a nice long post to get back into the swing of things.

But alas, that is not meant to be.

I'm burning the candle at both ends these days and while most of what I'm doing is pretty fun (and even blog-worthy), it does not, unfortunately, leave me a lot of time to write.

One of those fun-yet-time-consuming projects was a fundraiser benefiting both our neighborhood elementary school and a local organization devoted to fostering homeless pets.  It was the brainchild of a group of third grade girls (including my daughter) who, inspired by their teacher, wanted to make a difference within the community.

The girls, led by one particularly devoted parent, did lots of hard work preparing for the big day.

In addition to making posters, distributing flyers, and soliciting donations, each girl made or donated dog treats to sell at the event.

I was intrigued by the process (which my daughters and I engaged in together) and pleased with the results.  

The recipe was supplied by Furry Foster and seems to be a common one floating around the web.  I can't find a definitive source, so I will just provide the recipe here:

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

1/2 cups water
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
3 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup oats

Cooking Directions:
  • Blend wet ingredients together. 
  • Whisk dry ingredients together and mix into wet mixture to form a ball of dough. 
  • Roll out and shape. (We used dog bone cookie cutters.  Buy yours here.)
  • Put onto a non-­stick, lightly greased cookie tray. 
  • Cook 15 minutes at 400F.

After they cooled I took it upon myself to cute things up a bit with some baker's twine and personalized labels (made using my Silhouette, of course).  

Sadly our family doesn't have a dog.  Beyond that, we were so busy at the fundraiser we weren't able to watch our furry customers sample the wares. 

So if you end up making them please let me know how your dog likes them!   (And while you're at it, you might just want to check in and make sure that I'm okay; I have a feeling it might be awhile until I post again...  Thanks!)



DIY Tribal Print Glass Canister

Ever since I curated a collection of Sharpie projects for Looksi, I've been itching to play with a tribal print.  The exact inspiration was this cellphone case made by the talented Denise at Unexpected Expectations

My project started with this beautiful, oval-shaped jar procured after I put out a call on a neighborhood website asking for people's empties. This was the first one I received and I immediately fell in love with its shape.  

When I made my original request, I thought I was going to be stenciling letters on the jars with my Sharpie Paint Pens.  I quickly realized, however, that despite its inherent appeal, the oval shape was going to make lettering tricky.  That's when I remembered the tribal print.   It was a great choice because I knew that, unlike the lettering, a tribal print doesn't need to be "perfect."  In fact, I wanted it to be a little wonky so it would look more... oh, I don't know... tribal, I guess.

But I didn't want it to be a hot mess either so I made a rough guide with these rubber bands in order to draw my horizontal lines around the perimeter of the glass.  

You can see that the rubber bands are not perfectly placed and that was by design.

Then it was just a matter of deciding on my pattern and getting to work.  (And yes, I did use the Sharpie Paint Pens.  Get yours HERE.)

There's not much more to say beyond that.  This is the finished product which I have filled with sushi rice.  (Yes, sushi rice is its own special rice.  And when a wife--hypothetically--uses her husband's specially-purchased sushi rice for say, some rice & beans, she might get in trouble.  I'm happy to report that that will no longer be a problem now that the sushi rice has its own, special container.)



"Poison" Bottles for Halloween

While browsing my blog roll a few weeks ago I spotted THIS post by my friend Megan at Our Pinteresting Family.  

As soon as I saw it I knew I would be doing something similar.  The reason?  Well, beyond the fact that it's a cool idea (and it's October...)  there was the fact that I had a couple of old bottles -- thrift store finds -- sitting in the garage.  (Shocking, I know.)

I thought about making labels with my Silhouette (like Megan did) but I've been doing a lot of Silhouette-label-on-bottle-projects lately, and I was looking to do something different.  

So I Googled up "Poison Labels" and found a ton of great (& free!) printables.

Ultimately I printed out THIS ONE from Country Living and THIS ONE from The Graphics Fairy

After that I Modge Podged the labels onto the bottles and voila! instant Halloween decorations.  I'm thinking about filling them with colored water and making a spooky vignette in my foyer for trick-or-treaters to admire. 

Another possibility is to fill them with candy but given that the bottles are from the thrift store (and a little tricky to clean) I think I'll skip the edibles.

I'm open to suggestions, though.  What would you do with some "poison" bottles?



Ten IKEA Expedit Styling Tips & Hacks

Is it weird to be obsessed with a piece of furniture?

On second thought, don't answer that.

(I don't want to know.)

Because, you see, I happen to be obsessed with IKEA's Expedit.

Tell me you understand.

I mean, just look at it: the clean lines; the thick, sturdy walls; all of those fabulously uniform little cubbies in which you can store things?  How can you not be obsessed??

In an attempt to turn my obsession into something a little more (ahem) healthy, today I'm curating a collection of IKEA Expedit Styling Tips and Hacks over on LooksiSquare.  

(Just click on the link above and scroll down until you see the image below.)

You will be amazed at some of the cool things people do with their Expedits.

In fact I was so inspired that I went out and bought one of my own:

Okay, fine.

I don't actually have room for an Expedit in my house right now.

But that is my Expedit you see above...

...and below:

Is it weird that a grown woman went out and bought herself a dollhouse sized Expedit?

Wait, don't answer that...



Introducing LooksiBite!

Although `a casarella tends to focus on crafty things, I do occasionally like to throw in a recipe for flavor.

(Pun intended.)

The very first recipe I ever posted was for crockpot stuffed peppers.

And since people seemed to like those, I was then inspired to share this recipe for "Mediterranean Chicken."

And of course if you're going to share dinner recipes, it's only fair that you share dessert as well.

How about a raspberry brownie cake?  

(I have two to choose from.)

Or perhaps cookies are more your thing?

Well, if these are the types of posts that attract your attention, allow me to introduce you to my newest addiction: LooksiBite.

LooksiBite, like its sister site LooksiSquare, is a submission-based website. But instead of sharing crafts, people go to LooksiBite to share mouthwatering photos from fabulous recipes.

Now, technically the site doesn't launch for another five days.

(Kind of a disappointment, I know.)

But lucky for you, you know people in high places!

(Yes, I'm referring to me.  Stop laughing.)

As an early submitter to LooksiBite (as well as a big-huge-fan), I'm inviting you to take a sneak peek right now!  (You can even submit your own images if you have some.)

Just follow this link and enjoy!



Favor Bags for a Makeup Party

Here's a little project that took no time at all.

A friend's teenage daughter was having a "makeup party."  A professional cosmetologist (and family friend) took the party-goers makeup shopping for a few key pieces, helping each girl pick out the right products for her coloring, etc.

Then she took them back to the birthday girl's house where she taught them how to properly apply said makeup.

The makeup was the party favor (and an extremely generous one at that) but the birthday girl's mother was looking for a little something else.  After a brainstorming session, I offered to make these:

I had her order some inexpensive plastic makeup bags from Amazon.  (Similar ones found HERE.)

Then I personalized them with my Silhouette and added colorful tissue to make the names pop. That way each girl had a cute case in which she could store her makeup!

My only regret is that we were out of town and missed the whole event.  I'm looking forward to seeing pictures and hearing how it all turned out.

(For more fun party ideas check out these posts:  New Year's Eve Themed Bash, Red Carpet Party, Slumber Party Birthday Cake.)

(For more things you can do with your Silhouette, check out these posts:  Pickle Jar Fish Bowl, Random Art, Painted Milk Bottles.)


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