How About A Halloween Blast From The Past

The boys are all getting big now and with how busy everyone has been, we just did not get around to making those special costumes for this year and the boys are going to use their Renaissance Faire garb for the holiday.  So I thought that I would just post a few of the pictures from yesteryear just to remember why I try to find the time to do the costumes.  So here goes. . . . .

In the beginning we went store-bought.

One of my favorites is the first costume we ever got for Vash.  His favorite toy in the world when he was little was his Chicken Elmo (who wore a chicken suit and did the chicken dance).  While running through stores looking for something we finally found him a duck suit which looked more like Chicken Elmo’s chicken suit than the white chicken pajamas did, so we grabbed it.  He loved that costume so much he just walked around the house carrying it for days afterwards and even slept with it at night.

Chicken Vash and Chicken Elmo

Chicken Vash and Chicken Elmo

Markus was Superman that year and Jesse was his very favorite character at the time. . . Thomas the Tank Engine!!

Superman and Thomas the Tank Engine

Superman and Thomas the Tank Engine

The following year I was working in New York City on Halloween and Chip handled the holiday at home.  That year we had Lions and Tiggers and Thomas!!  Oh My!!  I think this was 2007

Lions and Tiggers and Thomas!  Oh My !!

Lions and Tiggers and Thomas! Oh My !!

The following year Chip made one of my all time favorite costumes EVER!! with just a box, some spray paint, some foam and some green duct tape.  He did this for Vash so he could be his very FAVORITE character in the world at the time. . . .




While we still bought costumes for the other two boys that year, Chip’s homemade costume was so much better than any of the other Wall-E’s we saw that it sparked the costume making bug in us.

That year Jesse finally left his Thomas behind and moved onto Superman.  Markus opted for Batman (and so the epic superhero debate would begin at a young age. . . . . )

One of these things is not like the other. . . . .

One of these things is not like the other. . . . .

I expect at this point I am missing a year – not that we don’t have pictures, just that I think they are in a box that is waiting to be sorted and put into the albums.  So we will jump ahead to 2010 which was the year that I had two pirates and a ghost.  I posted one of those pictures on the blog I posted earlier this week with LadyBug.  Chip had an entire story line built around the pirates searching for buried treasure that was being guarded by the ghost.  He even had the boys act it out while I videotaped them.

As an aside, layering cheesecloth will give you a great flow-y ghost.  Just staple it onto a foam hat to keep it in place or you will lose your eye holes.

Arrrrrgh!!  Booooooo!!

Arrrrrgh!! Booooooo!!

This is also the same year that Chip created the gaping mouth of the beast on our front steps – complete with lower tusks and a slide/tongue!!

Do you dare to walk into the mouth of the beast?

Do you dare to walk into the mouth of the beast?

2011 was the year we made our most viewed costume yet – the Orange Storm costume – which was an orange tornado and the mascot of our youth football team.  Vash just really wanted to be this and I said “sure, we can do this” – and somehow we did.  He won first prize at our local fire department costume contest for this.

The Orange Storm costume

The Orange Storm costume

Markus also had one of his best costumes this year – Harry Potter.  What made this costume so great was the fact that his friends and teachers had no idea it was him, the transformation was so complete.  We made this one too.

Our very own Harry

Our very own Harry

Who is that kid?!!

Who is that kid?!!

Jesse also picked a costume that took alot of time – this was his leopard year – which meant that he was following in our family tradition of being a leopard.  His big brother Christopher, his Uncle Ricky, his Aunt Danielle, his Aunt Liana and I had all worn leopard costumes as kids.

Jesse at his feline best

Jesse at his feline best

In 2012 Jesse left the animal world behind and took his place besides Harry as his best friend Ron Weasley.

Harry and Ron - an unbeatable pair

Harry and Ron – an unbeatable pair

Vash, of course, took his rightful place as a dementor intent upon bringing them down – or at least annoying him.

Hey - why pick on the little dementor?

Hey – why pick on the little dementor?

In 2013 the boys had moved on to The Lord of the Rings.  Markus became Legolas – and spent the year growing out his hair just so he could have the Legolas braid.

Markus as Legolas

Markus as Legolas

back view of the Legolas costume

back view of the Legolas costume

Jesse was Frodo.  Can we just say that we had moved way beyond the days of store-bought super heroes by this point.

Jesse as Frodo

Jesse as Frodo

Look at that face!!

Look at that face!!

And Vash – again – took on the role of the bane of their existence – the Witch King – the King of the Ringwraiths!!

Beware the Witch King!!

Beware the Witch King!!

Last year the boys repeated these costumes and then this year they are wearing their Renaissance Garb – which looks really really good on them.  Here are a few pictures of them taken by our dear friend Lars over the summer that shows what handsome young men they are in their garb.

Markus - as photographed by Lars

Markus – as photographed by Lars

Jesse at work at the booth

Jesse at work at the booth



Yeah – that one of Jesse looks like a painting.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Lars’ gifting us with these pictures.  I wish I could take pictures like that.

I took this one of Vash

Vash working at the leather bench

Vash working at the leather bench

Luckily I had a really cute subject.

This coming year promises alot more work in the area of garb and costuming as we get ready for our coming year at Faire.  If you like to see what we make and do, please check in with us – more is coming.

Onward and Upward.

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Monday Project Report (Running a Little Late) – Beagle Vampire Cape

As anyone who follows this blog knows, we have a long history with dog rescue. Though we stopped working in rescue about 5 years ago (though I am happy to say that the rescue we founded 11 years ago is still going strong) we are still a definite dog family and our youngest is a beagle person. He just loves beagles!!

This year we both lost our oldest beagle – Lady Bug

Ladybug in her Lady Bug Halloween costume 2010

Ladybug in her Lady Bug Halloween costume 2010

And gained three new beagles – Birdie

Markus holding Birdie

Markus holding Birdie


Jesse and his Mattie

Jesse and his Mattie

and Roxy

Roxie in her favorite place - Vash's lap.

Roxie in her favorite place – Vash’s lap.

They came to us from their Mom, my friend Jessica. The girls had all finished their show ring careers (Birdie had won best of opposites in Westminster in (I think) 2006 and Roxy is a grand champion in her own right – and the daughter of Birdie) and it was time for them to get their own boys.

So why am I telling you about our beagles in the Monday Project Report?

Well, Birdie also had a son – Kirby – who is still tearing up the show rings gathering awards and titles and he still lives with Jessica. This is Kirby when he was a puppy.

Kirby when he was a wee puppy.

Kirby when he was a wee puppy.

Not too long ago Jessica told me that she and Kirby were going to take part in a Halloween walk to raise awareness about domestic violence and she wanted him to have a purple costume to wear for it and could I make him a purple vampire cape. I did not have a lot of time to work on it to get it there on time (okay – I thought he needed it a week later than he did and when I found out the date of the walk – and that I had to mail it to arrive before it – I realized it had to be done that day) so it is fairly simple. However this is the only project I completed last week so . . . . . .

So the first thing I needed was a beagle to size it off of. Kirby is bigger than Roxy so we used Birdie as our model.



I just laid the piece of fabric – a great stretch velvet I found in the Halloween fabric section of Joann’s Fabrics – along her back, using the woven edge of the fabric as the end of the cape – and cut a piece of fabric to fit.

Using Birdie to measure the cape length

Using Birdie to measure the cape length

Then we took a piece of stiffer black felt and basically wrapped it around her neck to determine the size of the collar and then cut it so it would fold in half with the pointed ends.

Cut felt into collar shape

Cut felt into collar shape

Folded felt in half

Folded felt in half

fitting the collar on Birdie

fitting the collar on Birdie

gather top of cape to fit collar base

gather top of cape to fit collar base

Nothing here is being really “finished” – this is only going to be worn once – maybe twice – for less than an hour total so I wasn’t going crazy with this one.

Then I gathered the top of the cape to fit the collar. . . . .

sewing cape onto collar

sewing cape onto collar

and sewed it onto one end of the collar – this I did seam hoping it would give some lift to the collar.

collar sewn onto outside of cape

collar sewn onto outside of cape

Then I folded the other end over the seam, sewed it down, and sewed two ties to the neckline to tie under Kirby’s neck, and two ties for around the belly.

cape with quicky ties

cape with quicky tie

Rather than have the ties under the belly drag, I added velcro strips to the ties.

quick sewn velcro strips

quick sewn velcro strips

Then came the fun of trying to get a beagle to stand still for a picture – especially when the other girls wanted to know what was going on.  After we herded the rest of them into the dining room it got better. . . .

Mom, are you calling all of us?

Mom, are you calling all of us?

What do you want Birdie for?

What do you want Birdie for?

Getting closer

Getting closer

Ta da!!!

Here's our girl looking spooky (Not) - well, at least she is looking purple.

Here’s our girl looking spooky (Not) – well, at least she is looking purple.

The picture shows the cape before I added the velcro, but you get the idea.

The good news is we got it to Kirby in time for his walk, though I don’t have pictures of Kirby in his cape yet. When I get some I will post them.

This is not meant to be a how-to post – I know this could be made much better. But this is what we do around here. Someone suggests a project and we try to do it. Sometimes it is great – like our orange tornado costume – and sometimes it is just okay – like the doggy cape. But it made Jessica happy, it helped Kirby be purple for his walk and it was pretty inexpensive since I only bought a half yard of fabric, still have most of it left and everything else was in my craft supplies. The boys were instrumental in keeping the beagles steady while I was measuring and fitting and most importantly taking pictures. All of the dogs wanted to get in on the dog treats that we were using to keep Birdie still (Hah!)

Hope you all are having a great October.

Onward and Upward . . . . . . .

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Monday Project Report – Hawk Banner

Life is starting the transition to the next phase. Every time I think I want to change my “job” I start planning and working in that direction 5-10 years ahead of when I am going to make the change. Now I am looking toward that point when the kids are out of school and I can be more mobile. I fully realize that there is going to be a point where my business takes a back seat to Chip’s business of Hawk Studio so I am starting to work with that transition now.

To start that process we finally went back to the Renaissance Faire this year. (I will write more about it in later blogs.) Funny how once we knew we were going back I was not worried about making our garb or product for the booth – I was worried about getting the banner done.

The way it works is that every day someone from your booth has to carry a banner in a villagers’ parade that precedes the Queen onto the Joust Field. We didn’t have a banner.

For some reason, that was the biggest hurdle to get past to do the Faire in my mind.   Should it be leather or fabric, rough edge or Renaissance, how big, what shape, what design. Chip was no help initially. I think he had an idea for it but he wasn’t telling me. I finally decided it had to be made of fabric because I don’t sew (yet) on leather and I was making it so that was that! I wanted it to be readable so we just went with the word Hawk instead of trying to fit Hawk Studio on the top. We used the flying hawk silhouettes to symbolize Chip and his three sons (Vash is the contrary one so I had him flying in the opposite direction of the rest – hah!) but what for the other side.

Hawks fly together - almost

Hawks fly together – almost

I could not get anything out of Chip so I was thinking I would do a fabric portrait of him (which was not something I felt confident about) and had purchased everything to do this when he told me that was not what he wanted. Aaaaack!!  You can’t leave it up to me and then tell me you hate what I thought of!!!  Now what. . . .

Two more days of debate before Chip said he was thinking of something more heraldic – and it hit me that I could just do stripes in his colors – green and brown on a field of yellow/gold for me (well, I WAS the one making it after all and my favorite color is yellow – and I am such a sunny person (HAH!!)) and we had the design.

As we lie in Fields of Gold. . . . .

As we lie in Fields of Gold. . . . .

The execution was not that hard. I did not take pictures while doing it – things were just so rushed at the time that I was not thinking blogging or memorializing any of it – just get it done so we can get to the next project before the Faire opened. However I will tell you that double-sided fusible interfacing with a paper backing was the greatest find of this entire process and is what allowed me to produce the letters and the hawks for the banner and to adhere them with minimal sewing – which mattered because I did not want the stitches to take away from the design.

So here is the final product!!

Our Hawk Banner

Our Hawk Banner

Chip made the wooden pole to carry it through the Faire. We used a tab/button top so we could adjust it down the road. Because I used a rubber backed upholstery fabric for the base I did not have to sew in button holes – just cut them in.

Buttoned on Banner

Buttoned on Banner

We left the banner on the side of the booth when it was not in use.

Here Fly Hawks

Here Fly Hawks

What was interesting is how many folks came up to the booth asking if they could buy the banner. Hmmmm. Maybe a banner booth down the road? It certainly has me thinking. It would push me to be more creative and allow me to work with the fabrics I enjoy working with. It is a back burner idea now but one I am giving some serious contemplation to. I may make a few and list them in the Escape to Evermore Shop on Etsy to see what response they get. I will let you know if I do.

So that is today’s project report.

Onward and Upward. . . . . . . .

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I Hear A Symphony . . . . . . .

Wow!! Has it ever been busy. But I have been gone too long and folks have been kind enough to keep visiting this blog and following this blog and commenting still and I feel that I need to find time to keep up this blog because you are all so nice to care. This blog is really just about what life is like in a busy crafting family full of growing boys and dogs and all we do just to keep afloat. Blogging makes me stop and look at it and let you know what it feels like to be in the middle of this life. It also helps me keep all that we do organized and recorded somewhere. Things are just moving at a fast pace and hopefully it will still be of interest to most of you.

I have to say that there was an event which kick-started this. One of those things that just needs to be shouted about.  Well, okay, maybe not shouted about but at least mentioned with a “hee hee!!”

I got my Kromski.

For those who don’t know, Kromski makes spinning wheels – and they are made in Poland. And I have wanted one since I first learned about spinning. And the Kromski I wanted was the Symphony.

To begin the story, I was at the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend – otherwise known as “Rhinebeck” in the wooly arts world – and I went to a booth for Misty Mountain Farms (Led Zeppelin reference? Was to me – obviously a sign) where they had the Symphony on a shelf with a sign “Show Special”.

I stopped.

That’s a Symphony.

Regular $715, on sale for $595. Plus they covered the sales tax. Plus you get a free pound of fiber. It comes with the lazy kate and two more bobbins.  I was with my Mom.

Should I get it Mom? Yes.

I walked away. I shouldn’t get it.

Kept going. Being good. Not really spending money. Well, we could go look at it again. Still there. Hmmm.

Texted Chip. They got my Kromski. What do you think. Should I get it?  Yes, and I have a friend who might want to buy your Ashford.

And as you already know, I did it. Heeeeeeeee!!!!!

My Kromski Symphony

My Kromski Symphony

That’s my Symphony.  I’m still a little giddy.

So today I went back to meet with his friend (who is now my friend) who might want to buy the Ashford and brought it to her so she could take it home and try it out. And we both went shopping for roving. Have I mentioned that I LOVE roving? I do. I really really do. And we had a ball as we went from booth to booth petting and pulling and buying roving. We were good – we said no much more often than we said yes – but we still said yes a lot. We had soooooo much fun.

So here is the roving haul I brought home today.

2015 roving from Rhinebeck

2015 roving from Rhinebeck

The grey and white is icelandic wool, there is a Fiber Optic gradient merino roving there, another gradient loose orange-red merino/bamboo roving, a white Finn roving, a white Wesleydale roving, a grey Gotland roving, some merino silk rovings (green, brown, multi-colored) and a merino cashmere roving (red blend).

I have written about the zen of spinning before. It is one of those things I do when I have the time to just be. Nothing else. Just watch as the fiber moves through my hands and my foot taps the rhythm of the wheel. . . . . .

I can make yarn this way – but it really isn’t necessary in terms of my love of spinning. It is one of the few things I do that does not have to have an end purpose. I am not trying to sell it. I certainly don’t need more yarn. I just love the act itself.

These are days that I miss my Gram. She would have loved to have seen me spin. She would have loved that the wheel came from Poland.

This weekend a little bit of Poland entered my home. Seemed like the time to restart the blog.

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Monday Project Report – The Prudence Vest

Okay, today’s post is a quicky for a couple of reasons.

First, I finished this vest last year and don’t really remember alot about it at this point and second, my real job insisted on taking my time and attention today.  I represent kids in Court and sometimes you have to just jump in and work the phones and do some investigating and schmooze and threaten and persuade and, if none of that works run into court and beg the judge to force everyone else to bend to your will.  I did everything but run into court today – and some of it worked but not all so tomorrow I will be running into court – wearing my lawyer costume.  🙂

I guess that also explains why I knit this particular vest.  When I meet with kids I don’t dress in a lawyer suit – what 6 year old is going to feel relaxed with that.  So I usually wear my good blue jeans (no holes) and a sweater or vest.  When I saw this particular pattern it just looked like it would work – it is casual and comfy.

It is the Prudence Vest pattern by Berroco and it is a free pattern on their website.

I had previously posted pictures as I was working on the back of this vest – here is how it ended up.

prudence vest backKinda boring, right?  Well it is better in the front.

prudence vest frontI never like having to pick up stitches around a neckline to add ribbing or a collar but it wasn’t that bad in this.  It all fit pretty easily.

The negative is the yarn – which has since been discontinued by Berroco.  It doesn’t really hold its shape and when it gets wet it loses all structure and has to be completely reblocked.

But it’s comfy, and mom-like and perfect for my life.  So I am happy with it.

Okay, I better get back to work on my second knee sock – I’m on the gusset now.  I would love to be able to show you that as a project report sometime in 2014.  Hoping your projects are moving faster than mine.

Onward and Upward.

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Food on Friday – Strawberry Almond Chocolate Chip Muffins

Markus has turned into our baker and has been very busy lately baking muffins – which in turn has had everyone in the house very busy eating muffins. So this week, armed with both his mixing bowls and my camera, we turned over the Food on Friday blog post to him to memorialize his wonderful strawberry/almond/chocolate chip muffins.


Start by pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees.  Grab some parchment paper muffin cup liners and put them in your muffin tin. Then gather the ingredients.

muffin ingredients

You start by creaming 6 tablespoons (3/4 of a stick) of butter at room temperature in your mixing bowl.

creamed butter

Then cream ½ of a cup of sugar into the butter

creamed butter with sugar

Next you beat one egg – we prefer eggs laid by colorful hens such as this red one here . . . .

red egg

and add it into the butter and sugar.

butter, sugar and egg

Next beat in 5/8ths of a cup of milk (which is ½ a cup plus 1/8th cup or 2 tablespoons).

butter, sugar, egg, milk

The milk never beats in completely and it will look lumpy.
Add ½ teaspoon vanilla . . . .

butter, sugar, egg, milk, vanilla

And then add your 2 cups of filling – in this case 1 cup of chopped fresh strawberries. . . .

chopped strawberries

½ cup of toasted almonds. . . .

toasted almonds

and ½ cup of chocolate chips. Markus forgot to get a picture of the chocolate chips – but I am sure you can visualize this part pretty well on your own. 🙂

Mix the fillings with the wet batter.

fillings mixed into basic muffin batter

You mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. I use my whisk to blend them all together.
Mix together the following:
2 cups of unbleached white flour – pastry or all-purpose
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder (optional)

Then you pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and very gently mix the two together.

muffin batter

Fill each muffin cup about 2/3rds full and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.

muffins right out of the oven

These muffins do not rise a lot but they are surprisingly soft in texture.

single muffin

And are full of wonderful ingredients in every bite.

open muffin

We hope you like Markus’s muffins. He took all the pictures for this blog post and will be doing more in the future. He gets full credit since I never even entered the kitchen while he was working on this.  I fully believe in supporting a budding baker in our midst.

This recipe is a fairly basic muffin recipe that allows you to improvise to your heart’s content  You can change up this recipe by using different filling combinations. I like doing straight blueberry muffins with this recipe, as well as mixing of peaches with walnuts or pecans. We are going to try banana walnut using this recipe soon. Mangos would be real interesting too. Let me know if you come up with more interesting fillings.

Have a great weekend. I appreciate your stopping by and checking our blog. Markus really appreciates it because he is betting Chip that he can get more views on his post than Chip got for his Hawk Studio post yesterday. 😀 Nothing like a little blogging rivalry in the family.

Onward and Upward. . . . .

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Hawk Studio – Leather Braiding – The Mystery Braid

Chip showing the boys how to mystery braid

Ahhhhh – the question that always arises whenever someone sees a belt or a strap in which Chip has incorporated the mystery braid – “How did he do that?!!” Well, pay attention, because he is going to tell you how right here.

A mystery braid is a braid that is inserted into a solid strap of leather with no breaks at either end.

The mystery braid

The strips are cut into the leather with a strap cutter.

cutting straps into the belt

a belt which has been cut into strips

This is Chip’s strap cutter.

Chip's Strap Cutter

You can’t buy it. It is custom made for this type of work.

First – Chip is left handed so he had to have one made that would work in the direction he cuts.

chip holding strap cutter

Second, a commercial strap cutter contains a guard over the razor blade so you don’t cut your hand to smithereens. For a mystery braid, you need the blade exposed to cut the strands of leather inside of the belt.

exposed blade on strap cutter

It also needs to be adjustable to account for the varying widths you have to cut.

adjustment portion of the strap cutter

Next, you need to know that to make this work you have to cut an odd number of strands for the braid.  It can be five or eleven – but it can’t be four or ten.

varying amounts of strands

Once you cut your strands, you start to braid them.

braiding the strands

Next is the secret – after doing a bit of braiding, you take one of your ends and flip it through the braid.

flipping the belt through first time

And then you braid again – and flip again.

second flip through the belt

Then you kind of shake it out to level the braid.

shaking out the braid

You need to do an even number of flips through the braid. The more flips, the tighter the braid. Here is a 5 strand braid with differing numbers of flips.

2 flip and 4 flip braids

When Chip and I got married, our wedding bands were leather mystery braids. My beloved husband did a 5 strand mystery braid in a quarter inch wide piece of leather for me for that day. Not surprisingly, it did not hold up very long just because the leather was sooooo thin that it wore apart. He made me several more over the years until we finally found our current metal bands that we agreed to use instead. We did our engagement belts (yes, we both had matching engagement belts) using the mystery braid and it is incorporated into all of my bags. I love that idea of the continuous, unbroken piece of leather that still travels about itself in the center.

So that is Chip’s gift to you all today – the secret of the mystery braid.

Tomorrow – Markus shares his strawberry, almond, chocolate chip muffins with you. I just love my family.

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