DIY Halloween Costume Ideas

Each Halloween, our boys tell us what they want to dress up as, and we’ve had adorably kooky ideas throughout the years.  And each year, I do my best to turn their ideas into reality, and this year was by far my most time-consuming adventure.  This year one wanted to be a bag of Skittles, then the other asked to be his favorite candy, a Milky Way.

Skittles Bag

Naively, or stupidly, I thought they’d be quick to make.  I wouldn’t say difficult, but I would say time-consuming.  Drawing the lettering, cutting the felt, then hand stitching on the small details before using a sewing machine for the bigger details all took a decent chunk of time.


And the entire dining table while getting everything ready.


After multiple days of intermittent work, both costumes are completely done, and we have two happy boys.


The goal:

Milky Way Bar

And the reality:


Our Milky Way has a hard time not talking while getting a picture taken, hence the not-quite-a-smile smile.  Ben thought I was certifiable for adding the lettering shadows and the registration mark, but I’ve always cared about the tiny details.

If your Halloween costumes are still up in the air, there’s still time!  Here are our past years of costumes, all DIY, to get the creative juices flowing.  We have a Minecraft Zombie and Steve:


A Lego brick and light switch:


A 9 volt Duracell battery and rain cloud with rainbow:


A Rubik’s cube:


And a yellow Angry Bird:


A stop light (and Thor but he was too blurry):


A credit card:

Credit Card Costume

And finally, baby Hulk Hogan:

Hulk Hogan Costume

Wishing everyone a fun and safe Halloween.  May your kids get plenty of your favorite candy that you can sneak while they sleep.


Planning for Electrical

You may have noticed that we’ve been plugging away on the pool house projects.  It’s far from speedy progress, but so far we’ve covered the ceiling in tongue and groove planks and painted it white. We followed that up by widening the door connecting the main house and pool, tore up the old outdoor carpet, and broke up the original tile.  Other than planning for the pretty finishes for the main space, as well as the bathroom and kitchen areas, we’re still in the ugly, dirty stage of remodel.  Each finished task feels like a victory right now, so wrapping up the additional framing and electrical allows us to move forward to insulating.

Bathroom electrical included installing a new bath fan, venting it to the exterior (and not just the attic space).  Two sconces flank either side of the (future) bathroom mirror.  A horizontal 2 by 4 wall allows us to hide the plumbing in the wall, which was hidden in the cabinet before.


Hidden plumbing is necessary for our open vanity plan:


On the other side of the bathroom wall, the working part of the kitchen has outlets and wiring for under shelf lighting.


The guts are all in place to create this set up:


Directly across from the range wall will be a kitchen seating area, complete with sconce boxes for accent lighting.



Due to the six-foot square skylight above, an overhead light isn’t possible, but we didn’t want to rely strictly on the recessed ceiling lighting.


A 17″ tall bench will line the left and back walls, so our outlets are placed just above, if someone wanted to plug-in a phone or computer in this area.


At the far back corner was an in ground hot tub, but it hadn’t worked in at least 15 years.


Knowing how plumbing can fail, we opted to remove the old tub and instead will replace it with a standalone unit.  A pair of outlets designated for the future hot tub plug-in are at the bottom of the back wall.



Another pair of sconces will softly light this area.  Determining placement was interesting because of the height of the window in this area.


Everything that goes on inside the walls is incredibly important for the function of the room, but are easily taken for granted once closed off.  I’m hoping we can cruise through the insulation installation and start closing up the walls with our exterior grade A/C plywood.  From that point on, progress will be much prettier and far more noticeable.

Coffee Table Photo Books

Obviously, based on the content of this blog, it’s clear Ben and I devote a large amount of time (and money) to fixing up our home.  We’ve made it our financial priority to fix up and pay off our home as quickly as possible.  To do so, we do sacrifice expensive family vacations, with the hope that as our kids get older, traveling will be easier, more enjoyable, and they’ll actually remember the trip.  On our previous travels, I have purchased a coffee table photo book of the area we’ve visited.

With that said, in August, we took a family trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.  It was a week of camping, sight-seeing, and about 1,000 photos taken.  Yes, I have an addiction, but it’s easier to take more and delete later.   Upon returning home, I loaded the photos on my computer and picked out my favorites.


I enlarged one and turned it into art for our basement theater space.


Another sits in a DIY frame on our entertainment center shelf.


Two down, only 998 left to get out of my computer and into regular view.  I didn’t buy a photo book while on vacation, as I planned to create our own, using our photos and memories.  After some research, with a coupon in hand, I ordered a photo book through ShutterflyNo, this is not a sponsored post; I purchased the books with my own money and simply love this product.


After loading my edited photos into my project, I set about creating a design with few words and as many photos as possible.  To create as professional looking book as possible, I picked one picture to fill the front and back covers.


Using Photoshop on a near daily basis, I didn’t like how limiting the standard editing mode was, so I switched to Advanced Editing.  From there, I stretched the photo to cover the entire front.


A simple title in a coordinating color overlays the pale sky of the photo.


Shutterfly offers a wide variety of page layout options, but again, I found some to be limiting to photo orientation.  I found it easiest and quickest to load the photos chronologically onto each page, grouping based on the site location.


Before arranging the images, I first filled all 20 pages with pictures so I knew they’d all fit in my book.


I found it so easy to arrange photos, as the software keeps the photos in the proper proportions.  In some cases, I stretched a vertical photo to fit my layout or zoom in on an interesting area.


Once arranged, I selected a hard cover upgrade and submitted my order.  Having never ordered a photo book before, I waited until this one arrived to assess the quality and my feeling about it.  When it arrived, I tore open the box and flipped through the book.  I loved it, but wished I upgraded to a matte cover.


Ben loved it, the boys loved it, so I went through photos from previous vacations and ordered three more, this time springing for the matte covers.


It’s a subtle change, but does feel much higher in quality.


For a cohesive collection, I chose the same spine, fonts, and filled the covers with a single large photo.  The backs are single images as well.


This stack lives on our stump coffee table in the family room, readily available to flip through.



As the saying goes, “a picture is worth 1,000 words” so I kept the text brief with only a location and date.


At first, I worried the 8 by 11 book size would make the images too small, but I’m thrilled with the size.  By enlarging favorite photos and keeping the supporting photos smaller, it’s a great balance.

How do you deal with the photos you take?  It’s sad, but so many great photos sit on our computers, forgotten about for who knows how long.

DIY State ‘Flag’ Art

What do you hang over a bed?  Oddly enough, I don’t have much experience in this department as our bedroom has a window above.


Even our previous home had a window, thus limiting the placement of art to the sides.


Heck, our guest bedroom is surrounded by built-in bookshelves, again not allowing art to be hung over the bed.


All that to say, I’ve had a hard time figuring out what to add above the basement bedroom bed.  I started with a print from a very talented fellow Montanan, Annie Bailey.  While I love the art, the dimensions weren’t right for this elongated space.


I also don’t like hanging detailed art high up or in a place you can’t stand right in front and soak it all in.  Basically, I wanted/needed something long and narrow, simple, but still interesting.


After considering another engineer print, I decided to go a different route with a ‘flag’.  Quotes because it isn’t really a flag, but it is a design on fabric.  Ideally, the Montana state flag would be beautiful, but it’s a far cry from the well designed California flag.  Haha, maybe we can have a do over?


Instead, I opened Photoshop and created a simple, graphic design that I feel is representative of Montana.

Montana Flag Art Design.jpg

With the design ready, I printed it out on sheets of paper and taped them all together in a Frankenstein’s monster way.  Then I dug through my fabric remnants and found a piece of natural linen slightly larger than my desired finish size of 18 inches tall by 45 inches wide.  Ironing linen is incredibly annoying, so I helped the process along with spray starch.  Once my design and fabric were ready, I taped the design to the fabric and traced to transfer.


Using left over paint from the main bathroom vanity, I filled in the design and allowed it to dry overnight.  Then I pinned and sewed the two short sides as well as the bottom, leaving the top unfinished.


To hang the fabric, I had a few options to consider.  One, a dowel through a pocket at the top.  Two, stapled to a thin strip like the engineer print.  Three, wrapped around a frame, similar to a canvas.  Four, tacked to the wall at the corners.  Or five, wrapped over a thin strip at the top, which is what I chose.  Because this is fabric, I wanted the piece to have a little movement when the air picks up.


To do this, I rummaged through our scrap pile and found a strip of 1 by 2 pine and cut it one inch shorter than the fabric width.  I wrapped the fabric over the front and top of the board, stapling the fabric to the back to secure in place.


A saw tooth hook attached at the center of the wood easily hangs from a nail in the wall.

If seen from the side, a little bit of the wood peeks out.


The thickness of the board holds the fabric off the wall, giving a slight shadow.


Unlike the framed print before, this wider design fills the wide, squatty space.


Still on my to do list is find similar night stands, but for now a petite dresser and a thrifted sewing table work.



It’s simple enough not to compete with the art on the sides, but still noticeable from a distance.  Any artful additions to your home recently?  Don’t be afraid to think outside the frame and embrace a unique hanging method.

A Quick, Easy DIY Frame

When I shared our new entertainment center, I quickly touched on the styling of it.  I love the look of art layered in bookshelves, so I snatched this almost panoramic sized black and white photo off our bedroom wall.  It fit perfectly, but I wanted the shelves to feel symmetrical and only had one.


I love odd dimensions, but it’s not a standard size frame, so DIY to the rescuuuue!  Don’t feel limited to the cheap frames big box stores carry.  Or custom frames that can get expensive really quickly.


This is the quickest way to make a custom sized frame.  Head out to Home Depot or Lowe’s and get a stick or two of Outside Corner Moulding.  I chose the smallest at 3/4 inch by 3/4 inch to better match the other frame, though the larger sizes would work well for bigger frames.


When cutting, I like to keep the trim with one side tight against the saw, and the other face up.


Keeping it like this makes cutting safer, but also easier to remember which way you have to cut it.


Once cut to size at a 45 degree angle, apply wood glue to the insides of the cuts, press firmly together, and clamp in place until dry.


While the glue dries, cut a piece of foam core to the inside dimension of the picture frame.  Apply double-sided tape around the perimeter of the print, then carefully line up the backing and press together.  Now you have a backing and the art is held in place.

DIY-Light-Weight-Frame Foam Backing

I chose not to add glass to my frame, as my other was also without.  To secure the back in place, you have a few options.  Either gently staple just above, tap small nails in place, or, if the contents are light enough, take the laziest way out: masking tape.


Yep, so, so fancy around here-ha!


After about 30 minutes of work time and roughly 9 bucks, I have a finished frame and art.  In fact, this was so simple I have plans to make more to replace the art stolen from our bedroom.