Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bertle the Turtle

Months ago, I decided that Bert would be a turtle for Halloween. I figured it would be pretty simple, and fitting since he has been really interested in watching Cash swim around his tank, even saying his version of turtle: something like "ter-ul."

I thought the simplest approach would be to get him a little green sweatsuit and then have some kind of shell he could wear over it. Would you guess that it is really difficult to find a plain green outfit, without writing or any graphics? After checking Target, Osh-Kosh, nearby outlets, thrift stores, and even Walmart (yes, I crossed the threshold of Walmart), we finally settled on a green long-sleeved onesie from Carter's that was a decent match to some other green sweatpants he already had.

While at Goodwill looking for the green outfit, I picked up a 97-cent basket I thought I could make into a shell. Along with two pieces of textured felt from Michael's, some other brown felt I had hanging around, twine, and hot glue, the basket turned into a passable turtle shell.

First, I used one piece of felt to make Bert's turtle belly. Initially, I was going to adhere this right to his onesie, but then I decided I could attach the basket to it and have a kind of turtle "vest" and then he would still have the onesie for everyday wear.

I simply snipped small crosshairs into each corner of the belly, to thread the twine through.

Then I pulled the twine through the gaps in the basket and the felt, trying it on Bert to find a good length so it hung correctly. The top two twines were tied to make straps, while the bottom two were left open so we could tie them when we went out trick-or-treating. I wanted the shell to be removable so we could still put Bert in his stroller, then easily slip it on and fasten the bottom two twines when we arrived.

Next, I cut strips of the brown felt and covered the sides of the basket and used the textured felt to make the top of the shell and some sections around the sides.

Last night was downtown trick-or-treating at all the stores, so that was his big debut. We should have taken photos while we were there, but we snapped a few when we got back to the house. We were too lazy and Bert was too fidgety to get the bottom ties in place, so his shell looks a little floppy.

Here he is with his fancy pumpkin...

And checking out his daddy's Halloween football...

With a lollipop from his stash (he was really kind of confused by trick-or-treating, so we didn't stop at many stores)...

And examining his pumpkin again...

Total on the costume: $3. Well, that's not entirely so. The green onesie was in a pack of four for $15, but I'm not counting that because he wears them all the time. Having a few strangers say, "That's so cute! Did you make it?": priceless.

Tonight is neighborhood trick-or-treating, but I think we will stay put and just hand out candy. Bert doesn't eat candy yet anyway (and how many tootsie rolls do I need?), and last night he spent most of the evening with his hands in his mouth so we didn't really want him reaching into candy bowls and sliming things up for the other kids. Bertle the Turtle was short-lived, but memorable.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkin Time!

Over the weekend, we took our fall drive (there will be a post on that sometime soon) and before coming home, we stopped to pick out a pumpkin. Seeing a sign for a pick-your-own patch not too far from home, we pulled in. It was getting close to Bert's nap time though and we opted to just grab one of the already picked pumpkins. When we got to the check-out, it set us back $10. Ridiculous. Won't be going back there next year. But, it is a nice pumpkin.

Oh, and Bert got to put his face in this funny scarecrow cut-out.

I thought about letting Bert finger-paint his pumpkin, but let's be honest: I'm not that patient. I couldn't stand the thought of the mess. Instead, I bought a pack of foam stickers shaped like owls, moons, trees, and stars and let him put them on.

He was a bit perturbed that the stickers stuck to his fingers. There was a lot of Clark Griswold-style hand flapping going on.

There were also a few attempts at picking up the pumpkin and hugging it.

Bert's attention span was pretty short, so he got a little help finishing up. All the more reason not to go with the finger paint.

And in case you are wondering, he isn't going to be Superman for Halloween. More to follow on that...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

In the Trenches

At least a year ago, I was given this trench coat. It was longer than I liked, but trench coats never go out of style so I figured I would hold on to it. 

It has hung in the closet ever since, never worn. I kept thinking I could shorten it, and the other week I finally got my ducks in a row and got it done. I certainly wouldn't call it a professional job, but at least I'll wear it now. In fact, I've worn it twice already.

The coat has a lining, so I had to detach that first.

Then I picked apart the hem a bit to see what was going on.

I had decided that I wanted to hem it just below the pockets so that it would hit about mid-thigh. And I didn't want to mess with the pockets. I measured 13" from the bottom all the way around the coat. I have no idea what that other little mark you can see in the picture is.

Then I drew a line to connect all my marks so that I could cut along it.

Chop chop!

Next I pinned the lining to the coat, flipped it over, and cut the extra lining off.

I folded the hem over, ironed and pinned it.

Then I simply sewed the hem. It got a little crooked because the fabric is heavy duty, quality stuff and was about the max of what my sewing machine likes to handle, especially when I got to the seams. So if you are ever walking behind me, don't look too closely at the hem. It might look a little wonky.

Apparently, I forgot to take a photo of hemming the lining but it was pretty much the same process. And it definitely got a little wonky because it was silky and kept sliding around on me. Kind of went from one end of the spectrum to the other with fabric on this project.

And now for the finished product! Thank you, Keith, for chopping off my head.

Actually, I did one more thing. I took off the shoulder tabs and the little straps around the cuffs because in person it seemed a little bulky. Maybe I'll wear it and have Keith take another photo so you can catch the really finished project in another post.

This was another one of those projects I put off for a long time only to discover that an hour or so gets it done.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Squash Success

Last fall, we bought a few butternut squashes to make baby food for Bert. Keith was resourceful and saved the seeds to plant this year. Unfortunately, they got a late start and didn't produce anything. But, a volunteer plant that we let go because we were curious as to what it was, managed to yield a half dozen  squashes, though they are a little on the small side. We figure it must have started from seeds that didn't fully compost over the winter.

Since we have no need for baby food this year, I had to find something else to do with it. And while that squash spoon bread from last winter was delicious, I wasn't really into another four hour ordeal for a side dish. I flipped through my cook books and found this:

Squash, Pear, and Onion au Gratin
Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book

1 1/2 lbs. butternut, buttercup, or banana squash
1 large onion, sliced and separated into rings (1 cup)
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 medium pear, peeled and thinly sliced (1 cup)
3 Tbsp. fine dry bread crumbs
3 slices bacon, crisp-cooked, drained, and crumbled
2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp. grated Romano cheese
1 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley (optional)

Peel squash, slice crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. If using butternut squash, first cut the squash in half lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds. Set squash aside.

Cook onion rings in the 1 tablespoon hot butter for 5 to 10 minutes or until tender.

Arranged half of the squash slices in the bottom of an 8x8x2-inch baking dish. Top with half the pear slices. Repeat layers. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

Cover with the cooked onions. Bake, covered, in a 350 degree oven about 45 minutes or until nearly tender.

In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, bacon, walnuts, cheese, and 1 tablespoon melted butter; sprinkle over vegetables. Bake, uncovered, about 15 minutes more or until tender. Sprinkle with parsley.

I skipped the bacon and walnuts, because Keith's cholesterol doesn't need the bacon and I was out of walnuts, and it was still very good. I think it would be great with a bit of brown sugar sprinkled over the squash so I will do that next time (and I'm certain there will be a next time). The biggest fan though was Bert. He devoured the squash and asked for more. Really, he points and says, "Mo! Mo!" until he gets what he wants. And when it's vegetables he wants, I'm pretty happy to comply.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Stir 'Em Up

Chocolaty? Check.
Salty? Check.
Crunchy? Check.
Teeny bit gooey? Check.

Chocolate Clusters
(Makes a lot, so feel free to cut recipe in half. Or make the whole thing and share them.)

2 lb. chocolate wafers (I use dark, because then you add "health benefits" to the above checklist)
1 c. peanut butter
2 c. salted, dry roasted peanuts
3 c. miniature marshmallows
4 c. crisp rice cereal
1/2 to 1 c. dried cranberries (again with the healthy thing)

Melt chocolate and peanut butter in a microwave or double boiler, stirring often to mix well.

Remove from heat and add all remaining ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon to coat evenly.

Drop by teaspoonful onto wax paper-covered cookie sheets; place in freezer to harden.

Bert was in the kitchen while I was stirring these up and has developed a fondness for mini marshmallows. His eyes get big, his eyebrows go up and he sucks his cheeks in, savoring every last  particle of sugar. It's adorable. Then he cries until you give him another. Not so cute but a monster of my making, I suppose.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bert Speak

These days, Bert is a little chatterbox. I'm told Keith was the same way as a kid, constantly asking questions, and I was known to yammer away as well, so I don't think things will quiet down anytime soon. Most of his "talking" is just gibberish, but he is getting a few words under his belt. Or out of his mouth, as the case may be. Here's the rundown (with translations if he doesn't say them clearly yet).

Book (his first official word)
Dat (cat)
Wow (cow)
Orrs (horse)
Dacdor (tractor)
Mee (monkey)
Mah (milk)
Ma (mom)
Da (dad)
Dir-ee (dirty)
Ffff (woof, when asked what the dog says)
Neigh (when asked what the horse says)
Mmm (moo, when asked what the cow says)
Baa (when asked what the sheep says)
Meh (when asked what the goat says)

Is it completely obvious how much time we spend looking at his farm book? There are a few other words he gets on occasion, but those are the ones he knows best. Lately all Bert wants to do is look at his books and be read to, and he seems to be picking up new words all the time. Take a look:

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