Sunday, August 11, 2013

Rapunzel Party Series -- Part 3: Clothing

Welcome back to my Rapunzel party series! For part 3, we are focusing on the clothing. I decided to make the birthday girl her very own Rapunzel skirt using sheets and some quilting cotton.

I used sheets to make the table runner (I used sheets because the only Rapunzel fabric I could find was fleece or flannel) and I had enough left over to make a skirt.

The skirt features Rapunzel on the front and back in a heart and I added a ruffle at the bottom with some coordinating fabric that I used to make myself a skirt (the same New Look skirt I have been wearing all summer) and my youngest daughter a romper.

The romper is a variation of McCall's M6733. I made view C out of some Riley Blake fabric I purchased from a quilting store that was going out of business. 

The top of the romper featured a 1/4-inch elastic casing and it was so difficult getting the elastic in that when I went to make the Rapunzel version, I made the casing at the top and waist a bit bigger thinking I had the room to shorten the romper overall. Well when she tried it on, the shorts were waaaaayyyyy too short. The rest of it fit fine, so I decided to add 1/4-inch elastic to the hem that already existed in the bottom of each short leg and created a super cute romper with elastic in the legs! It worked perfectly. I actually think I like this version better!

I took the elastic out of the Rapunzel skirt and reused it because the birthday girl obviously won't wear that again, but the little one and I have worn our outfits countless times!

All-in-all, our outfits were a matching success!

The sewing took no time at all! The decorations and desserts were really the most time-consuming. Don't miss the Part 4: Rapunzel Thank You Notes, coming soon and if haven't already, check out Part 1: Rapunzel Invitations and Part 2: Rapunzel Desserts and Decorations.

Till next time!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Book Review: The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman -- ★★★★

To make dull activities a bit more exciting (think cleaning, driving, exercising), I like to listen to audiobooks. Actually, my whole affair with the Harry Potter series started with the audiobooks. But I got so obsessed so quickly that I would pick up reading where the audiobook left off when listening to earphones didn't really make sense.

After I finished the Harry Potter series, I frantically searched for other audiobooks I could listen to that would fill the giant gaping hole Harry left. I had heard the Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy was an amazing audiobook collection, so I immediately tried it, but stopped very soon after starting because I didn't like it. I soon realized the reason I didn't like it was because it wasn't the Harry Potter series. Nothing that I listened to at that point would have please me other than another addition to the Harry Potter series.

So a month ago, I felt the urge to listen to another audiobook series while walking at night, so I did a Google search on best audiobooks and this trilogy came up almost immediately. I decided to give it a try and I have to say I am glad I did.


The first book in the series, The Golden Compass (titled The Northern Lights in other countries), features a young girl, Lyra, who is happily living parentless at Jordan College among the scholars of Oxford. Her uncle, Lord Asriel, visits every so often to check in on her and her daemon. But soon, her peaceful life is thrown into a vortex of Gobblers, stolen children, witches and armored bears, as she finds herself headed to the frigid North to become a part of something unimaginable.


This book clearly falls into the fantasy genre.  In the opening paragraphs, Pullman introduces us to Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon. At first, I was really confused and remember I was listening to this -- not reading it -- so every time I heard daemon, I heard demon. So, of course, I was thinking something dark and treacherous, when in fact a daemon is attached to every human, sort of like a pet, but more like an attached twin. Each human and its daemon shares each other's thoughts, feels each other's pain and most importantly, protects each other. In other words, daemons are good.

How cool is that?

The books takes place in a modern world that sort of resembles our own, but there is magic, and armored bears who talk and live amongst themselves in their own kingdom. There are witch clans who live for hundreds of years and fight good, evil and each other. The combination of worlds is so amazing. Pullman has a gift for story-telling and it's so engrossing that you find yourself listening so intently that you're liable to clean the sink with a toilet wand or walk into the middle of oncoming traffic without knowing.

In 2007, there was actually a movie, The Golden Compass, made starring Nicole Kidman, but the two sequels have been cancelled due to anti-religious (more specifically, anti-Catholicism) themes. Bill Donohue, the head of the Catholic League, protested the movie for two months saying:
The trilogy, His Dark Materials, was written to promote atheism and denigrate Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism. The target audience is children and adolescents. Each book becomes progressively more aggressive in its denigration of Christianity and promotion of atheism: The Subtle Knife is more provocative than The Golden Compass and The Amber Spyglass is the most in-your-face assault on Christian sensibilities of the three volumes. Atheism for kids. That is what Philip Pullman sells.
It's true that there is an anti-religion theme to the book, but do I have to repeat that it's clear these books fall into the fantasy realm? I listened as intent as the most intent person in the world and as a Catholic, I don't feel like running to my church and denouncing God. This book was beautifully written and imaginative, but in no way do I think that Philip Pullman, a devout atheist, is trying to lure young children into his stark world of no religion. For a much more inspiring take, see this page. Furthermore, I visited the Catholic League website and the first headline I read was: Gays Bully Catholic School. Um, yeah, I think pretty much sums up what Bill Donohue is all about -- stupidity.

True, it seems, that The Golden Compass, according to all accounts is the least anti-religious of the trilogy and I have only listened to the first one. It will be interesting to see how my opinion changes on the trilogy (not this Donohue clown) after listening to the second and third installment.

I mean, instead of bullying brilliant pieces of literature, Bill Donohue should be attacking someone like Robin Thicke, who in his number one selling song says, "You're the hottest bitch in town." And has been quoted as saying, "What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman." And on the Today show, said it was a bad joke, because degrading women is so funny, right? No, no, dehumanizing women doesn't interest Bill Donohue, fantastical children's literature does though, I guess. 

Verdict: Definitely recommend, especially the audiobook. Fantastic story. Absolutely riveting.
Rating: ✭✭

Monday, July 29, 2013

Completed: Butterick B5367 View B + Makeup Bag

I made a bag! Can you believe it? I can't. Well, I guess I can, since I did it.

I was in search of a bag to match my orange polka dot skirt I made in April, but I needed one with two side pockets deep enough to fit two water bottles because my children always are in need of water and when I carry their water bottles inside of my bag, they spill all over the place getting things that shouldn't like, ahem, iPads, wet. So I was searching the web for patterns (instead of my own patterns) and found nothing. Then I decided to see what I had and I found the perfect bag to make.

The view I made is the zebra print on with the crazy buttons. I decided to keep it simple and used a home decor fabric for the outside -- all of the same -- and the quilting cotton weight orange polka dot cotton for the inside and pocket linings. I chose not add buttons.

The bottom is fit with a large piece of heavy-duty cardboard and I used a craft weight interfacing. It sits up pretty well, but not all of the way.

The pockets work great, but I do wish they were a bit deeper. At time it feels like the water bottles may fall out, though they never have.

I added a little pocket on the inside which has come in handy for quick retrieval of my phone and keys.

The straps are really weird. It required 1/2" cording, which I used, but the place it is attached to the actual purse, I know will tear some day soon. The cording is round and at the point where it meets the purse, it is cut flat, quite severely. If you're carrying something heavy, as I always am, the law of physics begs for it to tear.

I would probably make this again with different straps, different interfacing to achieve a stiffer end product and deeper side pockets.

I also made a matching makeup pouch from this tutorial. What's weird is that she uses the same material in the tutorial, which was a total coincidence and I didn't even notice until I was almost finished with it.

As you can see, I changed the top so it wasn't so deep and I added a non-functioning button.

I like it a lot. It closes with velcro and really keeps all of my travel makeup together in one spot.

I made a wallet too from this tutorial, with less than desirable results.

The top doesn't close properly because of the button -- it doesn't lay flat. And everything falls right out of the top of it and lands in a heap at the bottom of my bag.

It looks cute, but it is far from functional! I don't use this at all. You win some; you lose some! Thankfully my wins outweigh my losses.

Now that fall is approaching, which is sad, I see the opportunity to make some bags to match my outerwear!

Till next time,

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Book Review: The House Girl, by Tara Conklin -- ★★½

I pulled this book off of the HOT fiction shelf at the library, along with Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker.  I didn't really have any idea what either book was about.

I started Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, but I couldn't finish it. It was slow moving and I thought the portrayal of Mrs. Lincoln was weird. She seemed frantic. I didn't like it; it seemed unnatural.  And then I skipped ahead and found out that something bad happens to the main character and I didn't really feel like going down such a path with her. I liked her too much. So I stopped reading it.

 I did, however, finish The House Girl. 


In 2004, Lina Sparrow, an attorney, is tasked with researching American slavery for a class action lawsuit, seeking reparations for the descendants of American slaves. She stumbles upon slave Josephine Bell, who in 1852 served as the house girl for the Bell Farm and is now being held responsible for creating the art previously thought to have come from her Mistress slave owner, LuAnne Bell.

Told from parallel points-of-view, the story takes us down a rocky path of American history. We learn about Josephine and her escape from slavery, while Lina learns a lot about herself.

Review -- Spoilers

The reason I only gave this two and a half stars is because I was 3/4 of the way through and I felt like nothing had happened in the story. The beginning moved very quickly and we learned a lot about Josephine and her experience as a house girl slave in the mid-1800s. We also learn about Lina and her mother's death. I felt, though, that it took 3/4 of the book to get somewhere -- for something to actually happen.

Lina's story also seemed like a stretch. For 20 years, she thought her mother was dead and now she finds out she's alive? She happens to meet the man of her dreams, who also happens to be the direct descendant of Josephine Bell? He's a musician, but also a librarian....? It seemed sketchy.

Josephine Bell's story, though, was breathtaking. I wanted to follow her story more closely. In fact, I wished she was the main narrator. Her story was knee-deep in fact. It was a sad story that makes you shake your head and wonder how in the world could anyone ever think it was ok to own another human being? The characters that came along with Josephine Bell's story, Dorothea and Jack Harper were rivoting as well. Even LuAnne and Robert Bell had more oomph than present-day Lina and gang.  My favorite part of the book came at the end, in the form of Caleb Harper's letter.

And then, unfortunately, we were whisked back to 2004 where more ridiculousness was happening. The lawsuit was postponed, Lina quit her job and decided to call her mother that she thought was dead for 20 years. It all seemed just a bit preposterous.

So that's why I was torn. Basically, I guess you can say that I liked half of this book!

Verdict: Recommend. If you can take Lina's story with a grain of salt, Josephine's tale is well worth reading.
Rating: ✭✭

Till next time,

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Rapunzel Party Series -- Part 2: Desserts and Decorations

Welcome back to the Rapunzel Party Series! In this installment,  Part 2: Desserts and Decorations, I am going to detail a few of the decorations we made and show all of the desserts I pretty much copied off of Pinterest!

Hanging Lanterns

I had this bright idea to make the hanging lanterns that surround Rapunzel and Eugene when they are on their boat singing, I See the Light.

Even though my daughter wanted to hang real lanterns with real flames from the ceiling, I had to put the kibosh on that idea for obvious reasons. So after much thought, I figured out the perfect way to recreate the hanging lanterns. And it was probably the easiest thing I did for the party!

I bought a pack of yellow craft bags from Michaels that measured 4 5/8" x 2 7/8" x 8 5/8."

I cut the bottom off, right at the fold.

Then I opened up the bag so it was 3-dimensional.

I bought the Cricut cartridge Life is A Beach (on sale!) specifically for the sun symbol because is resembled the sun from Tangled so strongly. I cut out two different sizes of suns (3" and 5") on purple card stock and removed the inside face so it was empty in the middle. And then my daughter glued them onto the middle of each lantern on both sides using a glue stick.

Then I attached thread to each side using double-sided tape and taped them randomly to the ceiling at different heights.

Bunting Banner

I also decided to make a bunting banner similar to the one found in the actual movie. Instead of putting sun images on the whole thing, I decided to make it say 'Happy Birthday.'

I cut the triangles out of purple card stock. The bottom of the triangle is 4" which means the top point of each triangle to each corner is 2". Wow. I know there's some sort of equation out there using words like hypotenuse and Pythagorean theorem, but I can't translate that to this triangle. If you make a diagonal cut every 2" you'll be in good shape for a triangle.

I connected each triangle with thread I pulled through holes I punched in each corner.

I cut out 3" letters using my Cuttin' Up Cricut cartridge for my message and cut out 2" sun images for each side from the Life is A Beach cartridge.

Then I cut golden sixes from glitter paper and stuck it between words.

I used double-sided tape to attach all of the images, letters and numbers. I hung it in a doorway between the living room and dining room using a Command hook. When I took off one hook, I totally ripped off all of the paint and some drywall.

So that was nice. I will say I used tons of these on the ceiling for my Under the Sea party decorations and I had none rip. I guess I got a lemon.

Rapunzel Hair

I made a 50 ft rapunzel hair that I braided with ribbon. If you follow me on Instagram, you know all about it. I used on huge pound of golden yarn.

And I basically unwound the whole thing in 150" increments. So each side was 150" and the entire cut strand (rounded at the top) made the whole thing 300" long. I followed this tutorial

Quite honestly, I was unhappy with the way it turned out. It wasn't smooth at all and there was really no way to smooth it out without creating a terrible, terrible mess of knots. I think this may have happened because I did it by myself. It started with my older daughter and me, but then I heard myself saying things like, "If you don't stop fooling around and make it straight, I am going to throw this hair in the garbage." I didn't want to create those types of birthday memories, so I released her from duty and kept on by myself.

I ran it along the dessert table and stuck some golden sixes in it, so for the most part, you couldn't see how unsmooth it really was, but nonetheless, it was not my favorite part of the party.

Rapunzel Table Runner

I also created a table runner from Rapunzel sheets I ordered online. I basically just cut off one half and hemmed the other side. The sheets worked great.

Cupcake Toppers

I printed the images for the cupcake toppers from here. Then I punched them out using a 2" circle punch. I made another circle measuring 3 3/4" using my Celebrations cartridge and then a 3" scallop from the same cartridge. I used the blackout feature for each shape. I attached all of them together using double-sided tape and then taped the whole thing to a lollipop stick.

I alternated the papers for a little pizazz.


I copied the desserts from Pinterest. And I have no shame!

I obviously made cupcakes that I topped with purple icing and sprinkled with edible gold glitter. I made ice cream cone towers loosely based on this tutorial.

And I made the tower cake based on this tutorial.

But of course, I had to use way more pecan rolls because I wanted the tower to be really really tall. Because I used too thin of a dowel, I was turning away from the cake at one point to get some frosting and I heard a strange noise coming from its direction. I turned and the dowel was bending so severely, I actually started laughing. I ended up taking off around 8 pecan rolls and using ten compared to the tutorial's six. I also covered two styrofoam circles with green construction paper to get a bit more height.

I was desperately running out of time, so I slathered green frosting on all of the tower-like desserts to resemble grass. Not too shabby for a non-cake decorator!

I also made those little cute boats using blue jello, but no one had idea what they were supposed to represent except for my 8-year-old niece. I made little flags to go on top of them with leftover card stock.

That's it for Part 2: Desserts and Decorations. If you missed it, you can view Part 1: Invitations here. And stay tuned for Part 3: Clothing and Part 4: Thank You Notes.

Till next time,

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