The Best Halloween Costume Ever *Final Edits*


I have been dreaming of a particular costume for years, as in at least 11 years.  Due to a change of plans I have the opportunity to make the costume and use it this year.  In four days.  Can I do it?  As I was cutting up the material I wondered how I would be able to fit it on myself.   It is probably a good thing I don’t like to follow instructions…a pattern would really complicate things.  Then I remembered something I learned in 4H.  Well, I learned it when my step daughter was in 4H.  I can make a dummy of my body using duct tape and a tee-shirt. Ready, set go!


1.  Make dress maker’s dummy without suffocating myself or cutting off important body parts.


I needed something to pin it on for size since I couldn’t very well pin it on myself, and so I could see that it wouldn’t slide down in the front…This is a poor example of what the 4H gal turned in as a dress maker’s dummy.  Try to wrap yourself in duct tape and see what you think, a job best done with a friend.

2.  Put top together.  Without pattern.  It is a little breezy around the armpits, but then try putting sleeves in a outfit you didn’t have a pattern for.  I think I will just wear a shirt underneath. 

3.  Rent part of the costume so I can make the skirt

3a.  Buy Dryel…that stuff is not cheap!

4.  Do stuff at school and take Jane to art class.



5.  Cut out huge skirt without pattern Dryel (is that a verb?) and sew together.  It took me about an hour’s worth of math before I decided to cut into the fabric.  It was so long and so thick I used my husband’s 4′ level as a cutting guide.

***The Dryel didn’t really take the smoke smell out, but the smell is at least 12 years old, so it isn’t horrible.  The Dryel did however perk the color of the curtains up remarkably.  Several pieces went from orange to pink or even back to red.  Thanks for the idea, Beth.****

6.  Swimming lessons and do stuff at school.

7.  Clean house and plan menu for this weekend.  Scrape pumpkin off floor.

8.  Carve pumpkins.


Leo wanted me to make feet for some reason.  We carved a couple more little ones too. Part way through the process I couldn’t figure out what the dots were in the middle of Snow White’s face.  As you can see, they should have been the nose.  Our pumpkin was really too little for that pattern.


9.  Do more stuff at school.

10.  Pin flounces and sew flounces. I had a friend wear the skirt while I pinned the flounce on.

11.  Make hat and look for gloves.

12.  Learn how to imbed video on Xanga.  Have someone take a photo of me in the costume.

13.  Make kids clean house this time.

****I have been saving this material since we moved into our house.  As you can see it is truly lovely, and obviously exactly what I would choose to decorate my living room.  That is why it has been in my closet since 1998.  If you offer me money I will tell you how I made the hat.  Money or a great recipe.

The iphone takes good photos, but it takes some getting used to.  I had a friend take photos with her camera, which should be clearer than this one, but I wanted you to see.  Several people asked me if I was “curtains.”  Leave it to me to choose what is essentially an inside joke for a halloween costume.  Carol Burnett playing Scarlet O’Hara.******



  • Curtains- Goodwill wouldn’t have taken them on a bet
  • Sewing materials- on hand
  • Replacement rotary cutter blade- ?
  • Duct tape- free (notice it is silver not pink hence not mine!)
  • Old Tee shirt- now I have one less night gown
  • Rented hoop skirt- $7.50 plus tax
  • Dryel-$11 something plus tax.
  • Curtain rod furnished by gentlemen after they bent the snot out of it.


halloween party -37 halloween party -39

Paul spent most of the night under my skirts.

Did you notice that hoop skirts went out of fashion before the automobile, and NEVER came back?  They are nearly impossible to get under the steering wheel.

Thank God for ADA, or I would never have gotten out of the bathroom.



I saw it in the window and I just couldn’t resist it.

Trick or Treat!


We attended a Halloween birthday party last weekend.  I think this is the last year I will be able to get Paul in pantyhose.  Too bad he wouldn’t have anything to do with the hard hat.


I love electrical tape.


Jane as a Gypsy…


Mae just wants to have fu-un!


Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school. Albert Einstein


OBL asked us to expound on education a couple of weeks ago.  Coincidentally my husband brought that subject up last night, so I will start with him.


Part One, GrandpaDaddy Experience rather than education lead him to his career


GD’s family emphasized work (mostly farm work) over education.  Never much of a student, that was okay with GD.  In his younger years he had the same lousy grammar school teacher for several grades in a one room schoolhouse.  After high school he took a couple of semesters of general studies at a community college.  During the next 20 years he worked at a meat packing plant, then a filling station/contractor as a bulk fuel delivery driver and pipeline installer, then as a shop manager at a tire store and finally as the store manager at the tire store. 


Each job for him was a step up, and he started pretty much at the bottom, maybe not pay-wise but definitely physical work-wise.  He said, “I never could have walked off the street and been hired to do this.”  He’s probably right.  His strengths are in understanding numbers, being enthusiastic about whatever product he is selling and in customer relations.  Had he taken courses in business, he might have started where he is now, but as it is he has valuable experience in mechanics and working with tires.  He doesn’t wander out to the shop in his Dockers and penny loafers to point stuff out to his employees; he crawls under the truck and shows them the easiest way to do the job, (and thank God he has a uniform service to do his laundry).  He plumbed and wired our addition.  He can fix our furnace and vehicles.  He did take propane classes, but he learned everything else the hard way.


My husband was not a great student; he wasn’t likely to complete the course to become a vet tech.  I think education is what you make of it.  Sometimes you can study hard and get a degree in your dream field and end up doing something completely different.  Here are some other course changes I know of:


– degree in political science now works with computers

– degree in education now politician

– master’s in psychology now cleans houses (and counsels people)

– degree in finance now a receptionist

– degree in finance now rancher/museum curator

– degree in microbiology also museum curator

– degree in agriculture/wildlife now a teacher

– degree in agriculture was delivery company manager now the guy who checks scales around the state

– degree in agriculture now mother, wait I still deal with diets, poop and herd dynamics, maybe it isn’t so far off after all


Part Two, Wildflowersp Education opened the door, curiosity led her down the hall


I was lucky.  I did not know what I wanted to be when I hit college but the Range Department made a practice of offering naïve freshmen $50 to declare Range then take a beginning course on the topic.  It was exactly what I wanted; I just didn’t know what to call it.


Somewhere along about my sophomore year in college everything began falling together.  We studied photosynthesis in general biology, one of my range classes and also in botany.  It made studying easy that semester.  But most of my professors, in soils, general bio, and chem, assured me that their field of study was integral to, possibly solely responsible for the very function of the Earth and existence of life itself.  I became concerned my badminton teacher would try to impress on me the importance of racquet sports on the future of civilization. 


It is likely that I have used some information from each of my classes in my everyday life, with the possible exception of chem.  I had two lousy teachers (one for two classes) so I managed to come out of my education with little knowledge of chemistry, however if I don’t know something, I am not afraid to learn about it.


I am still puzzled by the fact that I never took creative writing in high school.  An extra English/writing course really would not have fit in at college, in fact somehow I escaped Sci-Tech writing, but I have no excuse for high school. Because I was on the speech team my major prof let me skip Public Speaking too, and that turned out okay, I am a fearless public speaker.  


So my college resume reads: a bachelor in science from one university, an odd range class from a state college, an art class, two writing classes and a computer class from a community college and a welding class from another community college.  I could go broke getting official transcripts! I look at the community college pamphlet every semester when it comes out, waiting for the time I can work on my conversational Spanish or learn about philosophy, or maybe the basal ganglia (maybe not).  I didn’t quit learning when I got out of school.


I think learning is more important than education, but you don’t have to be in class to learn things.  Developing a desire to find out how and why things work is more important than being able to fill in the correct small circles with a number two pencil.  That being said, a certain amount of education is necessary, and if it is a struggle from the beginning, I think I would do my best to foster my child’s curiosity outside of school.  

Twenty-five cents


My husband told me a sort-of-funny story today.  He works at a place where they fix trucks and sell tires.  They have a back lot that several truckers have the key to so they can sleep out there from time to time.  Truckers sometimes have a hard time finding a safe place to sleep.  It seems like they have their beds with them, how hard can that be, just stop somewhere.  Well, I guess if you park your truck next to some other truck you can siphon his diesel while the other guy sleeps none the wiser.  It happens in truck stops, and lots of other places don’t really welcome trucks parked overnight.  That little bit of information really doesn’t pertain to the story. 

A couple of weeks ago two of the truckers told GD that someone had been driving around in his lot, suspicious-like, and they got a plate number.  GD called a connection and got the name and address of the owner.  He told the police, but they weren’t inclined to do much about it, so I suggested taking a company pickup to his house and driving into his yard and sitting there a while then driving off.  It would scare the crap out of me.

Of course a couple of days later some tires or rims or something went missing.  GD has a building to store tires in, but he has many more tires than fit in the building.   He keeps most of the rest of them in a chain link pen but through the years people have cut the wire or the padlock, in fact entire truckloads of tires have driven off.  Truck tires cost maybe $400 per tire, so if you can steal them you can fence them for quite a bit. 


A little eye candy for those of you not so interested in mermaids.

GD’s business is in an industrial park with about seven or eight other truck or farm related businesses.  The police think it is too far from town to patrol often, and thieves have caught on.  So the business across the road from GD got broken into last night.  The guy stole a bunch of brake pad cores.  (don’t worry, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what they are, I don’t either)  So Matt, from across the road, called around and found out that someone had sold the scrap metal dealer about the same number of brake pad cores today.  They had pried off the rivets that hold the brake pads on, which would take some time and effort.  For the time and effort of stealing them, and removing the pads, the guy got paid $.25 per brake core.  If he stole 30 that would be $7.50.  The scrap dealer said he would keep an eye out for this guy.  I hope it is the same guy and they can nab him, but if he has any brains he won’t steal brake cores again. 

Now I am off to check prices on game cameras from Cabela’s.  How expensive can they be, and why doesn’t GD have one up?

Seems like I should write something


Hmm.  So what has happened in my life lately?  Well not much interesting or I would have told you sooner.  I did meet my first Xangon in real life.  Prairiecowboy (I was going to tag him, but I see he is not my friend, according to Xanga.  I guess you can’t tag subs.  Sorry ’bout that.) was pretty much like he is in his blog, and his wife was pretty much like I expected too.  They were from North Dakota so of course they were nice.  They were on their way to their son’s graduation from basic training, and were driving practically right past my house. 

I finally got caught back up on the Bible.  Well, except for Isaiah.  I am going to read a couple chapters a week to finish that up independently of the rest of the schedule.  Rather than having us read Psalms twice (which I have not been doing) they should break Isaiah up over the second six months.  I will not let myself give up now.  I literally have two-and-a-half months left.  This Bible thing has left my other book reading in shambles.  Now I am reading something about Mr. Biswas, it isn’t bad, but it doesn’t fly.  I don’t believe Oprah mentioned it one way or another, but it got a Nobel prize (almost as good a recommendation as Oprah’s–this from a stay at home mother who has only watched one episode of Oprah)  I would like to read some easy things to bump my numbers a little.  Maybe I will hit the library tomorrow.  I can do that before I donate blood so I have something to read.  If I don’t squeeze the ball too often maybe I can get an extra five minutes of quiet… 

I like my iphone.  I haven’t added any music to it or any of those 4,000,000 apps they keep talking about.  I am trying to figure out what I would use, and I am embarrassed about the digital music I do have.  Speaking of dated media, I watched Auntie Mame this weekend.  My mother remembers it as hilarious.  It was funny, but I think it would have been funnier in the 1950s or 60s whenever it came out. It was about 3 hours long.  Julie and Julia was funny in 2009.  Really funny.  It irritates me when someone has an original but very simple idea (the idea was simple, not the process) to write something.  Cook all of the recipes in Julia Child’s book and write about it.  Now why didn’t I think of that?  We probably don’t have the ingredients here anyway.

We went to Goodwill for halloween shopping.  We are going to have two cute girls. I will post photos closer to the date.  I bought an extra fire fighter’s hat because the ladies dress up all the time, and the gentlemen want to play with them, but their choices are limited to tutus and the ladybug costume.  Even a man with strong self esteem can only wear a tutu so many times before losing his dignity.  Maybe Santa will bring some cowboy duds or something.  I think Spiderman may have (pardon the pun, and I know it isn’t technically correct) bugged out on me to be a fire fighter again, with the new hat.  I was going to cover his red sweatpants in electrical tape.  Easy, warm, what’s not to like?  At least I still have some control over the youngest.  I am sure he won’t let me dress him in green pantyhose next year, we have to strike while the iron is hot! 



We took the ladies on vacation for a week to Disney World in Florida and came back with a ton of dirty laundry.  We managed to run into someone who lives just up the road from us, and the entire population of Ohio.  It was lots of fun.


GD had a customer who offered to take us out on his boat while we were in the vicinity, so we drove over to south of Tampa to see him.  He took us to eat somewhere that has been immortalized by Jimmy Buffet, (in Florida? Seriously?) where we ate shrimp that were bigger than GD’s thumb.  Our chauffeur then took us to a sand bar in the bay somewhere.  On the way there we saw four groups of dolphins and even jellyfish in the water.  GD and his sharp eyes saw a stingray too.  We floated in the water and found all kinds of shells.  I have walked maybe 10 beaches on two oceans and the gulf and never have I found shells like these.  There were tons of conch shells, many complete with the original owner.  We found a couple empties and one with a hermit crab in it.  It was crazy; my kids are ruined, now they will always expect real shells rather than broken oyster shells and the occasional tiny clam shell I was used to as a child.


GD came back from the farm with a tiny baby kitty a couple of weeks ago.  I kept her for a week then Sister-in-Law Annette babysat her while we were on vacation.  In the mean time SIL litter trained her. (Yay!)  I started feeding her formula in a dish instead of the bottle when we got home, and today I fed her some canned dog food.  She scarfed that down, so it must have been the right thing to do. She is still tiny, but she is fat now too.  We call her Pumpkin.  She is really sweet.  Paul is head over heels in love with her, and she seems to tolerate him. So what is really the difference between canned cat food and canned dog food?  I think a trucker gave this to us, so it was free.  I guess if she starts barking at the road-grader I will go buy some canned cat food.


I am reading Lizzie’s War, which turns out to be a good book, her husband has a delightful sense of humor, but he is in VietNam, so things don’t look good for him, does anybody ever come back alive in a war book?  I kinda got behind (again) on my Bible reading while I was on vacation, I left my handy bookmark at home so I had no real guidance on what I should read each day.  I am pretty much caught up except I still have half of Isaiah to read.  This of course is what I should be reading, not novels.  At the end of the month, my reading year will be done, I run on the federal government’s fiscal year you see.  I am ahead of last year, but still in the double digits.  The Pilot’s Wife was good even though Oprah liked it and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was good too.


I have to tell you a funny story.  I thought the ladies had worms, there was a lot of scratching and so on, and from my experience that meant worms.  I collected a poop sample from a random un-named daughter and made appointment for said daughter with the Dr.  I told the daughter to get the sample out of the freezer and described where she could find it.  She put it in a non-see through type grocery bag and off we went.  The Dr examined her and said he thought she had a yeast thing going on, and he could prescribe a salve, but he would look at the sample just incase.  A couple of minutes later he came back with a weird look on his face and said, “You may have put me off food forever.  I looked at the sample and looked again and, well, here it is.”  He held up a bag with three pieces of frozen sausage from a long ago breakfast. 

I can’t cut any more corners, I am in a circle!


  Featured Grownup’s topic this month is thrift.  We have been pretty fortunate during this financial down turn.  My husband is employed securely in an industry that is not likely to be much affected, and we bought a side of beef from someone who keeps forgetting to charge us.  I am wondering how many times you have to remind someone they gave you several hundred pounds of beef before you drop the subject.  Guilt keeps us asking him every few months.

I have read with interest for some time of people going a month or a year without spending, except on food and toilet paper etc.  Some day I would like to try it.  I am sure it would be a good exercise, but I am not ready to try it just yet.  Since I am not in the middle of a noteworthy experiment, and not really in reduced means, I will offer some random thoughts on the matter of finances.

I think Christmas becomes a huge guilt trip for people.  We manage to buy gifts for as few people as we can, and I am not afraid to recycle a hand-me-down toy under the tree.  My grandmother doesn’t really have the space for much stuff, so I make bread for her and give her homemade jelly too (our 2007 stash is running low).  If my other grandparents lived any closer I would do the same for them.  As it is, they get a cheery card.  We buy gifts for my parents, our kids, and our lovely granddaughter.  I always try to make some candy and cookies should an emergency gift-giving occasion occur. 

My husband (Grandpa Daddy) has a huge family; ten siblings and all the nieces and nephews that go with those numbers.  Christmas could get out of hand pretty quickly in this atmosphere, even if we drew names.  Fortunately, GD’s family tries to get together at Easter or Thanksgiving.  We get gifts for my MIL and GD’s two relatives who celebrate Christmas with us.  Nobody gets birthday gifts (well our kids do, but not the nieces and nephews). 

Last year I gave the ladies’ teachers a cutting off a house plant for Christmas.  The plant has been in my family for generations, and with clearance pots, it was a bargain.  This year we are working on dried flower bookmarks, maybe a leaf one for Ed the busdriver.

Building your own costumes is another money saver if your kids play dress up like mine do.  I made princess dresses two years ago, and they are both in great shape.  If we had spent $80 on those princess costumes Disney is so proud of I am sure they would not have withstood the day in and day out use my homemade ones did.  When you start sewing, you realize that patterns and fabric are not the bargains they once were, but if you aren’t picky or can be patient about the fabric you can find all kinds of stuff on clearance.  This year Leo is going to wear a purchased red sweatshirt and sweat pants (we are from Nebraska, they will get used again) covered with electrical tape to be Spiderman.  Last year I got what used to be a first-communion dress from Goodwill for my daughter to be a bride. 


(I made the mermaid costume on the left.  Not as authentic as the other one, but more practical for trick or treat purposes.)DSC01181

Pocanantas costume made from ugly curtains the people before us had in the kitchen.  I tied the doll to a backpack for papoose.

Having a handy husband helps save money too.  Mine can do anything from electrical wiring to plumbing to general mechanical work to basic construction, so we rarely have anyone repair our stuff.  I was surprised to find out that lots of guys can’t do these things.

My title came from my friend Jean.  I lived with her for a while in college and she taught me the practical points of cooking,  Mom had already taken care of the finer points.  Jean showed me that cooking was not a mystery, “just heat something up.” While Mom taught me to use a recipe, Jean taught me to wing it.  This information served me well when I lived in an apartment in college.  Jean might be the queen of thrift.  She once told me, “I can’t cut any more corners, we are in a circle!”  Her daughter stayed with us for a week one summer.  We asked her what kind of pizza she liked and she said, “Oh, I like them all, hamburger pizza, hot dog pizza…”  If I am ever in a corner, I will be calling her for advice.