Friday, October 31, 2014

Pumpkin Picking, Pumpkin Carving, and the Anarchy and Socialist Anti-Religion Agenda of Curious George Boo Fest

-- 1. Pumpkin Picking --

We had Frankie's birthday party last weekend and the husband has been out of town this week, so our first chance to get pumpkins was Thursday. I suppose it's just as well, because I've learned the hard way what happens when you carve pumpkins too early in Southern California.

We looked at our calendar for the day, which included morning Mass, school for mom and kids, work for dad, two naps, taking the car in to get new brakes, two sports practices, and two sports games. The window for pumpkin picking turned out to be 8:30 - 9:00 am.
So, the Tierneys went to the grocery store en masse. Precious childhood memories. We got 'em.

-- 2. Pumpkin Carving --

And then, this afternoon, in shifts between shuttling various kids to various sports, and threats about Halloween being cancelled if that math/Latin/grammar didn't get finished . . . pumpkins were carved.

-- 3. Capsule Wardrobe --

The big capsule wardrobe reveal post was yesterday. This whole experience has been great, but especially getting to share it with all of you.

If you're interested in learning more about the concept, check out my capsule wardrobe link-up. Or if you have a post of your own (old or new) about your wardrobe or simple living, link it up.

I've really enjoyed reading your posts. A couple highlights are . . .

At House for Five, Deme breaks it all down, with great advice about shopping, returns, and how many hangers you should have. I have too many hangers.

Hannah at Gokie Notes makes some really excellent points about being sentimental about clothes. Spoiler: she says knock it off.

-- 4. Catholic Costume Contest --

Speaking of community. We are the COOLEST. I have gotten dozens of awesome submissions already for the Catholic Costume Contest. They have ALL been great. Here's just a sample . . .

From top left: Baby St. Olaf, Baby Blessed Mother (with even tinier baby Jesus), St. George + St. Michael + Bl. Pierre Georgio Frassati (with pipe) + St. Rose of Lima, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Isidore of Madrid + St. Gianna Molla, St. Catherine Laboure, Young JPII (at Sometime Martha Always Mary), St. Gianna + St. Dominic + St. Maria Goretti + Our Lady, kid-made St. Kateri (at Blair's Blessings).

If you or your kids are dressing up Catholic for Halloween or All Saints Day, share your photos with us on Facebook or Instagram! Be sure to use the hashtag #catholiccostume . Can we get it trending? I don't even know what that is. But I want us to do it.

You can also email them to me. Please let me know if you prefer I don't share them on the blog. That's allowed. You can still win.

Speaking of that, the winner will get a three month subscription to Saint Mail, my favorite solution for moms who want all of the liturgical living and none of the prep work.

-- 5. Curious George --

As you may recall, a couple of weeks ago, I posted my reviews of ALL the Halloween-themed shows available on Netflix streaming, including the ones I hadn't actually watched.

One show that got a sight-unseen thumbs down was Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest. I hadn't seen it, but I am in general not a fan of the consequence-free "mischief" that is Curious George. I like a naughty anthropomorphic animal as much as the next mom, but I normally require that he get what's coming to him, a la Peter Rabbit.

Anyway, people were shocked. SHOCKED. And rushed to his defense. And Bonnie, with whom I have a history of cinematic disagreement (and a friendship) insisted that if I was going to hate on George, I should at least watch it. So I said I would.

And then, life (and Once Upon a Time) got in the way. I kept figuring I'd watch it with the kids, but we never had a chance. So, last night, while I was sewing, because of my great dedication to the integrity of this blog and because I ran out of episodes of Once Upon a Time . . . I fired up Curious George Boo Fest and watched it all by myself.

I have to say that the mayhem created by George's extraordinary lack of self-control and wanton disregard of all rules and laws and basic principles of civilized behavior in the books pales in comparison to what he exhibits in this movie. And everyone around him, but especially the man in the yellow hat, thinks it's adorable.

The man rakes up the leaves, George jumps in the pile. The man tells him not to, he does it again. And again. So the man gives him ten bucks and sends him to the pumpkin patch. Are you paying attention kids? Disobedience = money and outings.

Then there were some songs that were fortunately not catchy enough to be memorable or I might have had to go listen to Fulwiler's shoe song again to get THAT (awesome) stuck in my head for another week.

And THEN we get the plot. There is a legend of a scarecrow called No Noggin, who, angry that his pumpkin head was eaten by a deer, kicks the hats off of unsuspecting revelers on Halloween. Now, *I* prefer Halloween bad guys who want to actually steal your actual head, so he's already starting to lose me.

But, okay. Hat kicking. Let's see where this goes.

The man believes No Noggin to be just a story, but when he finds a photo that proves the legend isn't true, it makes everyone in town, all the ADULTS, really . . . sad.

Then, in an extraordinary display of disobedience, sneakiness, and wanton property damage, George inadvertently restores everyone's belief in No Noggin, and, as a result, their enjoyment of Halloween. So George decides that the charitable thing to do is to protect the poor grownups and the false beliefs that they need to be able to enjoy a holiday.

It's not a question of adults protecting a fairy tale belief for their children, it's a "child" knowing that to disabuse his "father" of his beliefs would make him sad. George knows the truth, but the adults around him need the lie. The opiate of the masses and all that.

Socialist cartoons. First Babar, now George. <sigh>

And, in case it's not clear, I'm kidding-not-kidding about this whole thing. But I stand behind my original, unseen, assessment that it's not a very good movie and we can do better for our Halloween entertainment. Now I've seen it and I get to not like it.

-- 6. Addams Family --

I also watched The Addams Family and my suspicion that Common Sense Media just wasn't getting the joke was . . . confirmed.

I thought it was a fun, satirical, opposite world movie. And it has the sweetest happy ending ever.

That said, I was uncomfortable with the live auction scene in which, while it's clear that the married couple are not in fact engaging in any physical romantic activity in public . . . it sure SOUNDS like they are.

The humor is sophisticated and nuanced and endearing. But it's meant to be shocking, and it is. I would let my over tens watch it. I'd fast forward through the auction scene though. Awkward.

-- 7. Once Upon a Time --

There's a whole post on Once Upon a Time in the works, don't you worry about that, because, in my professional PAID opinion, it's the best non-BBC show on television. I do have to say, though, I'm not loving the "hey, you just need to get over that whole wanting to be with your baby thing."

If I need to mix it up with a Snow Queen or a forest-dwelling ruffian, I'll just put my baby in the Ergo. That's what it's FOR. I came here to nurse this baby and kick butt, . . . and the baby just fell asleep.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Capsule Wardrobe Post In Which I Show You ALL My Clothing, 'Cause That's Totally Not Weird

Alright. The big capsule wardrobe reveal is here. And, yes, I know how silly this is. But, really, I can see why the internet is abuzz with capsule wardrobes. We are a people living under the yoke of luxury. Even those of us who aren't rich. We don't know when to replace and when to reuse. We don't know what to save and what to share. We want to be generous but also responsible. We feel burdened by all our stuff. Yes it's a #firstworldproblem but that doesn't mean it's not #alsoarealproblem.

On my first post about what a capsule wardrobe is and why I wanted to do it, I asked you to link up any of your wardrobe posts, new or old. They've been really inspiring to read. The link-up is still open. I'm linking this post up. Please continue to link yours up. Let's do this crazy together. And if you need more inspiration, keep checking back there.

So, step one for me was deciding what kind of capsule wardrobe I wanted to do. There's Courtney's Project 333 method which is more about decluttering your life than on having a perfect wardrobe. She encourages people to work with what they have, and not buy anything new for their first capsule. Or there's Caroline's Unfancy method, where you dump a significant percentage of your wardrobe and start over, with pieces that you love and that mix and match and that fit your current body and current lifestyle. And that you'll hope to use again in future capsules.

It's easy to say that Project 333 is the right approach and Unfancy isn't. Especially since her budget for clothing is significantly higher than many of us. But I don't think it's quite that simple. I know that, for me, I needed to do this in a way that I would love it and stick with it. So, I went with someplace in the middle. (Hey, I feel like I've said that before . . . )

I wanted to mostly work with what I already had, but also supplement with a few new things. I wanted to end up with things in my closet that were useful and, whenever possible, beautiful. And only that. But that's what I've always wanted. I've cleaned out my closet a dozen times and always ended up right back in the same place.

So, step two was to commit to the method. I don't know why, but I feel WAY more motivated to do this now that it's a THING. It has a name, and rules, and a community. It's more than just a general awareness that my wardrobe is out of control, which I've had for YEARS. It's a plan of action, with a proven track record of success. Also rules. Have I mentioned I like rules?

But the problem is that the rules vary. Some people do thirty-three, some thirty-seven, some more. Some include formalwear, shoes, coats, and accessories in that count, some don't. Most have four seasonal capsules, and that's it. But I knew I was going to have to account more for seasons of life (because nursing, pregnant, both, neither) and less for seasons of the year (because Southern California).

My plan was to get down to forty pieces, inclusive of formalwear and coats and shoes, excluding running clothes and accessories.

Step three was to actually DO IT. And there I had some help. My friend Crysta Halpin, aka The Wardrobe Weeder, is starting a wardrobe consulting/styling business and I got to be one of her guinea pigs. (Need help? In SoCal? Email her. She will help you:  crystahalpin @ yahoo . com) Also, I blogged it. And if I blog it, I do it.

Also part of the closet now: entire empty sections of closet! One bajillion empty hangers! A tiny tuxedo and part of a St. Olaf Costume!

Crysta came over and we followed Caroline's basic method: EVERYTHING OUT OF THE CLOSET. Everything. Out.

We made piles on the bed of . . . LOVE IT: Fall, Winter, Spring/Summer, and Maternity/Postpartum, a MAYBE pile, and a TOSS IT pile.

From the LOVE IT Fall pile, I tried stuff on and we made outfits, and took some photos. I actually wish we'd thought to take more. I'm not sure I remember them all correctly. We would grab a thing here or there out of the MAYBE pile, and even once from the TOSS IT pile, to make complete outfits. Things that I love, that fit now, that I can nurse in, and that are seasonally appropriate went onto hangers and into the closet. I ended up with forty-two pieces at that time, and instructions to get four new things to round out the capsule.

Then we went through the other LOVE IT piles again, to be sure I really did love those things, they were in good enough shape to hold on to, and they fit into outfits. I saved twenty to twenty-five pieces each for winter, spring/summer, and maternity/postpartum. I have two deep drawers in my closet, so off-season stuff went in those, and the maternity pieces went into a storage tub on one of the shelves. Shoes I wanted to save for other seasons went onto a different shelf, but pushed way to the back so I can't really see them. When the time comes to switch to a different capsule, I'll keep some things from my current capsule in the rotation, and I'll supplement with some new things.

Which brings me to . . . step four: Buy some new things.

Here's what I got. (Amazon Associate links.)

I spent a total of $164.

In the interest of full disclosure, and in case you want to be twinsies . . . these items are also pretty new. I got them for my birthday last month.

Step five was to sit with my choices for a few days. My new things came (I heart you Amazon Prime). I saw what I felt like wearing and what I thought maybe could still go, so I weeded a few more things out. I'm officially down to forty pieces now.

And here they are . . . 

sleeveless navy tee
band-waist coral tee
ruffle neck white blouse
high neck lace ivory blouse
sleeveless tie neck blouse
ivory and taupe stripe long sleeve tee
white long sleeve tee

slouchy rainbow cardigan
slouchy taupe pullover
whimsical dot cardigan
drapey off white cardigan
library cardigan
short sleeve cowl neck pullover in olive
multicolor zigzag cardigan

patterned ankle boyfriend jeans
skinny capri jeans in olive
annunciation stained glass leggings
wide leg trousers in citrine
high waist skinny jeans
black capri leggings

patterned circle skirt in ivory and orange
high waist stretch denim pencil skirt
brown velvet appliqué a-line skirt
hight waist pleated khaki skirt

metallic ballet flats
neutral elastic espadrilles
leopard ankle strap wedges
navy dot platform espadrilles
laser cut tall leather boots
suede ankle booties
olive green sneakers

stretch navy blazer
patterned short sleeve twill blazer
high neck waterproof coat
shawl neck sweater coat

dolman sleeve gathered waist dress in plum
red floral silk dress
chiffon mini shirt dress
denim shirt dress
library dress

My final thoughts on the process are . . . I am really, really glad I did this. If anything, I wish I could have extricated myself from a few more things. Maybe thirty-three IS the magic number. Even down to forty items, I still feel like I have more than I need, and certainly more than most women have had throughout history and all over the world. BUT. It's a huge step in the right direction. I feel so, so, so much better about my closet now.

And I'm feeling inclined to wear more cute stuff more often. Here are my capsule wardrobe outfits so far (two pairs of shoes in these photos didn't make the final cut):

Simplicity is a virtue. Having a more simple wardrobe means that more of my time and energy can be devoted to more important things than clothing choices. Generosity is a virtue. Some of the things I did not keep were really nice things. But they didn't work for me. Hopefully they will work for someone else. Prudence is a virtue. So I didn't just chuck it all. I could become pregnant again, so I saved some maternity clothes. Even though it's eighty degrees here in LA again, odds are I will need those sweaters at some point, so I kept a few. Trust is also a virtue, and it's maybe the most important one for me throughout this process. In the past, I kept so much of that stuff because of What Ifs. What if I gain weight? What if I lose weight? What if I move someplace cold again? What if get invited to a ball? But all those What Ifs were weighing me down. I made the best choices I could for my current state of life, and the reasonably foreseeable future. And the rest I got rid of. I have to trust that what I have will be enough. And more than enough.

It is SO NICE to be rid of FOUR garbage bags of clothing.

I think Betty is the next stop on the capsule wardrobe train. 'Tweens are really hard to dress. So probably I'll be blogging that at you too. Stay tuned.

And here's why I think any of this matters at all:



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cranky Frankie Turns 3: a little monster birthday party

On Sunday, Frankie turned three years old. You can imagine his excitement.

We threw him a Little Monster-themed birthday party. Here's how it went down.


Red tissue balls and green hanging fans, fabric circus bunting, a mini monsters banner, a homemade personalized Happy Birthday Frankie banner, and many MANY trash monsters made for the occasion by Bobby and Gus.


The food was selected by the birthday boy. His initial request was for "raisins and string cheese." I was able to talk him into a few more choices.

Chilling Chips
Shocking String Cheese
Scary Salad
Hair-Raising Raisins
Fried Monster
Creepy Carrots
Dreadful Dip
Weird Water 
Beastly Biscuits
Monster Mash -ed Potatoes
Petrifying Punch
Frightening Fruit

The punch was really fun, here's how I did it:

My other favorite was the watermelon monster. These are SO EASY, way easier than carving pumpkins. I was going to buy a watermelon for the fruit salad anyway, so making it into a decoration was free!


As usual, Jack was our Master of Ceremonies. This time, he planned a Feed-the-Monster bean bag toss game:

And a Pin-the-Eyeball-on-the-Monster game:

The cutest thing about that one was that at the end, he announced that every kid had gotten his eyeball in just the right place, so they each won a prize. (One of those little pinwheels.)


Inspired by this pin, the big kids set up a Monster Headband Making station.

I cut felt rectangles and sewed elastic to the sides. The kids cut out bunches of eyes, noses, mouths, and fangs. Plus we had feathers and puff balls and pipe cleaners. We used glue dots, which are SO EASY and don't require drying, but they didn't keep the felt pieces together all that long. It was fine for the party, but I think, over-all, glue would have been a better choice.


Betty made the cupcakes. They were simple to make, but turned out quite professional looking!

And that was that. A good time was had by all.

Even the birthday boy!

Other posts to check out here:

Click on the "Cakes and Parties" tab at the top for more. We throw a lot of parties.

And YES, I know I owe you a Capsule Wardrobe post. I'm working on it! It will be up Thursday or Friday. In the meantime, please link up YOUR capsule wardrobe posts here.

And don't forget about the Catholic All Year Catholic Costume Contest! Share a photo of your child in a Catholic Costume for Halloween or All Saints Day, on the Catholic All Year Facebook page, on Instagram with hashtag #catholiccostume, or via email at catholicallyear @ gmail . com. Inspire those around you! Win a fabulous prize!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Last Minute Twofer Costumes for Halloween AND All Saints Day: and a Catholic Costume Contest!

So, you're all set for Hallowtide, right? Your kids have got a Halloween costume and an All Saints Day costume all set and ready to go?


Not to worry. These costumes can be thrown together in a couple of days, and if you have Amazon Prime, you might not even need to leave the house.

And in case you need a little MORE motivation to get your act together . . . we're having a Catholic Costume Contest, with a prize that will help your kids live the liturgical year in your home, without YOU having to do ANY of the prep work. But I'm going to make you read all the way to the bottom to find out how.

Our homeschool group's weekly parkday is on Friday. So this year our All Saints Pageant and Carnival will be held on Halloween. So . . . that's a whole lot of party for one day. At least we have a history of making All Saints costumes that can double as Halloween costumes. This year, we're really going to need it.

1. Herminone / St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Any sort of a black robe will work for this. I went ahead and got Betty the Gryffindor Robe, because she's been asking for a Harry Potter-themed birthday in February.

For the Hermione costume, we added her own shirt and skirt, her brother's tie, her dad's socks, and a homemade wand made from a rolled up piece of paper and some hot glue. We made her hair frizzy by putting a bunch of braids in her slightly damp hair before bedtime.

For Elizabeth Ann Seton, we replaced the tie with a black ribbon, and covered up the Hogwarts patch on the robe by pulling the other side of the robe across the patch and pinning it closed. I found the bonnet on Amazon for cheaper than I could sew one myself, but if you don't want to sew OR buy one, you could use a loosely tied black handkerchief or piece of fabric. In images, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is usually holding a rosary and a book or piece of paper.

2. Jedi / Bl. Fra Angelico

The basis of this costume is the Hooded Jedi Robe. You could sew one yourself, but I think it's cheaper to buy one. For the Jedi, I put him in a khaki t-shirt and brown pants shorts (Bobby couldn't find the pants, so he went for more of a California Jedi), and added our existing lightsaber toy.

Fra Angelico was a monk, so we closed up the robe with a rope belt and a rosary. He was also a painter, so we added a homemade cardboard palette and a paintbrush.

3. Jedi / St. Francis of Assisi

A Hooded Jedi Robe can be the start of ANY monk costume. This one my mom sewed for Gus when HE was two. But you could also use a too-big solid brown t-shirt, they sell them at fabric and craft stores.

Frankie wanted to be his name saint, so we added a rope belt, a rosary, and a little bird for his shoulder. Depending on how committed you are to this costume, you could shave his head into a tonsure. But that's your call.

4. St. Clare of Assisi

No St. Francis would be complete without his St. Clare. My mom sewed this costume for Anita when she was four months old, Lulu is almost a year and it does NOT fit her. But we're going with it.

For Halloween, Lulu will be "A baby who is already sound asleep in her crib."

5. Anna from Frozen / St. Sunniva

Thank God that there is a Norwegian Princess saint, because it was Anna from Frozen or bust for my five year old this Halloween. This dress is adorable, machine washable and $20: Scandinavian Princess Dress

If you're not interested in really confusing yarn wig tutorials, just skip the next paragraph.

For Anna, I used orange and white yarn and a headband to make her an Anna wig. I found a one inch wide headband with a rough, glittery surface that holds on to the yarn really well. To make it, I measured the total length of yarn I'd need: from one end of one braid, up over her head, to the end of the other braid. Then I put two chairs that distance apart, tied one end of the yard to one chair, then wrapped the yard around and around the two backs of the chairs, to get the length I needed. I used almost the whole small skein of orange yarn (saving out about 10 feet or so to make the bangs) then about four loops around of the white yarn, to make the white stripe in Anna's hair. Once all the loops were on, I tied a six inch length of orange yarn around all of the loops, a little to the right of center between the chairs, since Anna has a side part. Then I looped the remaining 10 feet of orange around a small shoebox lid, for the bangs, and tied the end of it in a knot around all the loops, leaving a six inch tail. I arranged the long pieces on the headband, with the tie a little to the side for a side part. Because of the rough surface of the headband, I just had to tie the piece of yarn I used to make the part around the headband and the sides just kind of stick on it. Then I cut the loops on both ends, and pulled all of the white yarn to one side. I put the headband on my own head and braided it, tying each end with a piece of orange yarn. Done. I found the yarn on clearance, so the whole thing was less than $5.

For St. Sunniva, we just swapped the braids out for a dollar bin crown.

By now you're probably thinking to yourself, "Wait, am I at the right blog? I thought this was the lady who allows her children to dress as all manner of horrifying martyr." To you I say: Don't worry. You're at the right place. May I present to you . . .

6. Random Scary Red Guy / St. Bartholomew 

We saw this statue of St. Bartholomew at St. John Lateran in Rome and, I tell you what, it's not something you soon forget.

To recreate it for All Saints Day, we bought a SecondSkin Suit (ironic, no?) in red to be his skinned self. They HAVE a muscled one, which would allow one to look just like THIS statue of St. Bartholomew. But in an uncharacteristic show of restraint, we decided to go with plain red.

I bought two yards of flesh colored fabric and I traced him. THEN we remembered that we had some iron-on transfer paper left over from another project, and things got . . . a little more interesting. He cut himself out, and fashioned himself a knife. And rolled up a piece of paper. And that's that.

For Halloween, he won't bring the paper. Other than that, it's pretty much set for Halloween. Or maybe he'll leave the skin at home and just tell people he's a splat of ketchup.

7. Roman Soldier / St. Michael, Archangel

Gus is going as an old favorite around here. In fact, it's HIS second go 'round as St. Michael. We had a blue tunic that fits him from another costume <cough> itwasmary <cough> and a fabric chest plate from a St. George costume, and a red cape and skirt from a St. Longinus costume. And some Feather Angel Wings and a sword. Electrical tape turns regular sandals into gladiator sandals (kinda).

You could do this pretty easily with just the wings, a sword, and three T-shirts: a blue for the tunic, a gray to cut into a chest plate and a red to cut into a cape.

We added the coat hanger to the wings so he could wear them outside the cape.

On Halloween, he'll just be a Roman soldier, sans wings.

So that's it for us this year. NOW for the fun part. We're having a costume contest!

If your kids are dressing up for All Saints, I'd love to see it! Share your photos on Instagram with hashtag #catholiccostumes, or share them on the Catholic All Year Facebook page. Or email me at CatholicAllYear @ gmail (.) com and I'll share them for you!

The winner will receive a three month subscription to Saint Mail. I subscribed to Saint Mail for my own kids with my own money, and it has been worth every penny. Each month we receive a package in the mail all about one saint whose feast is that month. There's a letter from the saint with tons of great information, plus crafts, trinkets, and little collectibles that my kids L-O-V-E love.

My kids are learning about the saints (AND are quietly occupied for many many minutes) each month without me having to do ANY of the prep work. Molly from Saint Mail is a Catholic mom who is doing the prep work for you, only way cuter than you'd do it. Tiny San Damiano cross for St. Clare! Awesome leather bracelet with St. Benedict cross medallion for St. Benedict! I cannot recommend Saint Mail enough. It is worth every penny. If you don't win, you really should subscribe. And I'm not getting paid to tell you this. I just really like it that much.

For more on Saint Mail, see this post:


For more ideas for Catholic Costumes see these posts:




Speaking of contests . . . Tracy from A Slice of Smith Life is the big winner of the JPII contest!

If you'd like to keep track of ALL the feasts of the Catholic liturgical year, I've created a wall calendar to help you do it!

It features the all the feasts and fasts of the Universal Calendar and then some, illustrated with images featuring the traditional Catholic monthly devotions. It's an easy visual way to bring liturgical living into your home. You can keep track of the feasts and fasts and seasons of the Catholic year, and be reminded to focus your prayer on a different aspect of our faith each month.
January:The Holy Name of Jesus 
February: The Holy Family 
March: St. Joseph 
April: The Blessed Sacrament 
May: Mary 
June: The Sacred Heart of Jesus 
July: The Precious Blood 
August Immaculate Heart of Mary 
September: The Seven Sorrows of Mary 
October: The Holy Rosary 
November: The Poor Souls in Purgatory 
December: The Immaculate Conception 

As the Church year begins with December, so does this calendar. You get December 2017 through December 2018, thirteen months. Available for purchase here. Thanks!

Linking up with Jen for the first time in forever (oh great, now that's stuck in my head again) for 7 Quick Takes!