More Crazy DIY Cardboard Costumes

Last June I set out to make some fairly large cabbage costumes but didn’t want to involveScreen Shot 2017-11-04 at 5.01.36 PM chicken wire or other things like that. When it comes to costume making (& most other things) I try to use what I’ve got and well, the Menne’s have plenty of purple cardboard boxes (thanks to my obsession with jet.com). I have already done Lego costumes with cardboard boxes so how card can it be right?

Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 5.02.25 PMAnyway, I searched the internet doing my homework to see if it was possible to take a rectangular box and turn it into a ball and wouldn’t ya know it’s totally possible and even easy! In fact making these cabbage costumes inspired two of our family halloween costumes BB8 and the head of R2D2. (more info on how I did that below the how to section).

 

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How to:

Supplies: Cardboard boxes, box cutter, duct tape (FYI the real stuff holds better trust me), marker, tape measure.

Optional supplies: Papier-mâché mix (flour, water, glue), newspaper, spray paint.

1. Find some boxes. I honestly break down boxes flat and store them for rainy day play or random costumes.

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2. Open the boxes flat and determine the size of pieces you’ll need. Be sure you cut the pieces so the corrugated flutes are going left to right. This is so you can get the pieces to bend to create the round ball shape.
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Think of a beach ball. The pieces need to be long enough to fit the person you are making it for and need to be able to be rounded to connect. Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 4.39.20 PM

3. Draw the shape the size you like. I have used pencils, markers and sharpies and tend to like the regular Crayola type markers because those marks are easier to cover up later on.

4. Cut your first strip carefully. (I like to put more cardboard under the piece I’m cutting on when cutting in the house. Otherwise I’d advice cutting on the lawn to avoid scratches on your flooring.)

5. Use that strip as a template to trace and cut more strips. The number of strips you’ll need depends on the size and look you are going for. More strips do make it a bit bigger but more thin strips make a much rounder ball shape. (I learned that the hard way.) I have used anywhere from 8-12 strips on various projects.

6. Roll the strips to make a curve. This is where the corrugated flutes come into play. I tend to use the edge of a countertop to help save my hands some of the work. Making the shapes slightly rounded helps when taping the pieces together.

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7. Now for the fun part. Tape 2 strips together. The side with the smaller flat end will be your ‘head’ end and the other end with the larger flat end will be the ‘leg’ end.

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This was my first ball and in retrospect made the strips far too wide.

8. Continue to add strips on one at a time using the duct tape to connect. If you feel the need you can tape from both the inside and outside. It truly depends on how sturdy you wish for the ball to be.

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I used packaging tape for my first ball and can assure you duct tape is superior.

9. Finally decide where to put them and cut arm holes. (even if you don’t think you need them it’s a good idea for safety incase the person inside falls over they can catch themselves a bit).

10. Adjust the head hole and the leg holes. I like to use a stake knife to cut these because it seems to cut through tape and cardboard a bit better than the box cutters. I also tape the edges of the head and leg holes to add comfort for the wearer.

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My first two costumes were from a large box from our new wash machine

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11. Use newspaper or whatever paper to Papier-mâché the exterior of the ball. I use the packaging paper from my Jet.com purchases…and no I get no perks for promoting them I just love to shop purple)

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Drying the layer of papier-mâché

12. Paint it. I like to spray paint because it’s quick.

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This one has ‘leaves’ to look like a cabbage.

13. Make it your own! You can go nuts adding whatever detail you want.

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My first go at this I made two of the cabbage costumes.

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The smiling cabbage is my second cardboard ball costume.

Star Wars Cardboard Costumes

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R2D2 & BB8

BB8

I used the same directions as shown above to make the body of BB8. I then made a smaller ball shape and cut it to the right size for BB8’s head. I then inverted the portion I had cut off and placed it inside the ‘head’ and then hot-glued a bike helmet into. I also hot glued straws wrapped in duct tape for the antenna. I hand painted the details on BB8 which got old real fast. 😦

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BB8’s head.

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Spray painted with matte white and then penciled in the details before painting.

R2D2

I started with a 14″ Sono tube from Menard’s but you can find those types of concrete tubes at your local hardware store. I cut it to the right size for my son, cut a couple arm holes and then spray painted it. I used blue duct tape, gray duct tape and a couple sharpie’s to add all of the detail.

For the head I used a similar process as I did for the BB8 head but used more strips to create the looks of R2’s head. I ran out of hot glue so I actually used duct tape to tape the bike helmet in the R2 head.  I then found metallic spray paint at my local hardware store Bender’s True Value. Once again I used blue duct tape for details and cut a few holes to look the part and also serve as a safety feature for him to look out when he wanted to pull his head in.  Finally I got some pieces of foam from Menard’s and cut them to look like R2D2’s legs and then duct taped the heck out of them. Finally I added straws to look like the wires. The boys both loved their costumes.

 

I seem to enjoy the challenge DIY costumes and hope you can have fun with the process too.

Happy costume making friends!

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Yummy Fresh Bread (step-by-step)

I love to bake and with a big family we eat a lot of bread. I started making our bread a number of years ago and have tried a few recipes and methods and have settled on this one. For me baking loaves of bread is super cheap, easy and very enjoyable. I promise it’s easier than you think. Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh baked bread?!?!? This just might be your gateway to homemade pizza & cinnamon rolls. 😉

If you are a regular reader you know I am an Aldi shopper. They sell yeast packets which make this super easy. I buy my bread flour in bulk at Sam’s club but it’s also sold at Walmart in large bags. (I have found the cheapest price is at Sam’s though) Aldi also carries sugar, salt and shortening. You can find bread pans at your local thrift store or buy them new at your favorite store. I find the thrift stores have nicer pans and a good selection of size. If you are really ambitious you can order larger bread pans & bread bags online. I have 4 larger pans myself but don’t order bags anymore. (They were great, I’m just too cheap)

Traditional White Bread

What you need:

Bread Flour (If you are curious as to why bread flour here you go: Baking 101)

White Sugar

Salt

Lard/Crisco/Shortening (you may substitute with butter or vegetable oil)

Water

#2 9×5 pans

cooking spray

clear wrap or a light cloth

thermometer

Large bowl

Ingredients

I like to start by measuring out all of my ingredients. I use small custard cups and a couple pyrex liquid measuring cups to hold the ingredients. I also like to line them up in order of use. 

  • 2 packets of active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 Cups warm water (110 degrees F )
  • 3 Tablespoons of white sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons shortening melted
  • 6 1/2 Cups of Bread Flour

Step-by-Step Directions

1. Measure out your ingredients

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2. Spray the inside of the large mixing bowl

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3. Attach a dough hook to your stand mixer (you can use a wooden spoon but I assure you the stand mixer will make this much easier)

4. Empty the 2 packets of yeast into a stand mixing bowl (or large mixing bowl)

5. Pour in the sugar

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6. Pour in the warm water.

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7. Start the mixer on ‘stir’ or the lowest setting. Let it mix/stir until the yeast and sugar dissolve.

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8. Add the shortening and salt

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9. Add the flour 2 cups at a time until it reaches a ‘dough’ consistency. 

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10. It takes roughly 6 minutes to kneed in the stand mixer.

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11. Turn it out onto a floured surface. (I use a large cutting board (18×20 3/4″) I found at Ikea). 

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12. Kneed it by hand until smooth and elastic. (I tend to do about 4 turns and it’s ready; however, if you are not using a stand mixer you will need to kneed it by hand for about 8 minutes or so)

*You want to be able to push on it with a finger and it bounces back rather than leaving an indent.

 

13. Make the dough into a ball and place it in the greased bowl.

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14. Cover with clear wrap or a light towel. Let it sit for an hour. It will double in size. 

15. Spray your bread pans with cooking spray (be thorough so the bread doesn’t get stuck)

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16. Punch down the dough.

17. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.

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18. Cut the dough in half and place one piece in each of the bread pans. 

 

*You can roll it up, tuck it under or just drop it in. The appearance is up to you. I used to make 2 batches (1 white and 1 wheat) and then make a swirled loaf but my kids prefer the plain white bread.

19. Cover the loaves with loosely clear wrap or with a light cloth (you want it to have the space to rise so don’t let the clear wrap get too tight)

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20. Let the loaves rise for 45 minutes

21. Move your oven racks down to allow for room for the bread to rise and then preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

22. Remove the clear wrap or light cloth and place in the oven. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes

23. Remove from the oven and place them on their sides. As they cool remove the bread from the pan and then place on the other side to cool. (This is so it doesn’t get too moist on the sides)

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24. Slice and enjoy!

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This may seem like a long process based on how I laid it out here but I assure you that it gets faster and easier each and every time you make it. I started out taking my time and needing to read everything step by step but now I don’t need a recipe anymore and it goes so fast. Give it a whirl!

Patriotic DIY’s For Summer


Summer is here and independence day is right around the corner. What better time for a couple patriotic DIY’s right?

Patriotic Door Hang

The first one I made to use as a door hang for our front door but it could really be used anywhere. I liked it so much a made a few more as gifts for family.

Patriotic candle

The second DIY craft I made just to add to the table to complement the rustic looking flag bunting we have hanging on our mantle.

letter: I got the letter from Hobby Lobby for about $4. The paints are about $1 each and can be found at most craft stores. I was going for a rustic look so I used country red, uniform blue and white wash. If you are like me you have a drawer filled with various colors from other craft projects. The stars are actually stick on stars from the craft section of Hobby Lobby but I have seen them at other stores as well. They were $2.99 for a bag which was enough to make 3 letters although it depends on how you want to configure yours. I used painters tape to ensure straight lines and again I did have a few rolls of that in a drawer. (I was shocked to discover the kids hadn’t commandeered it yet. It seems kids inevitably find any and all tape in our house…) I added some twine which can be found at the dollar store in the craft aisle.

  1. Draw lines in the upper right hand corner to create a square of sorts.
  2. Paint that square blue & then let dry.
  3. Use painters tape to create vertical stripes.
  4. Paint white stripes in between the painters tape. Be sure to remember the sides as well.
  5. Before the white is dried carefully pull off the tape. (if you wait until it dries it tends to clump and pull the paint off with it…just trust me on this one)
  6. Allow time for the white stripes to fully dry.
  7. Paint the red stripes carefully using a thin brush. It’s easy to fix any mis-haps with the white if need be. Again don’t forget to paint the edges.
  8. After all the paint is dried apply the white stars as you desire. As a DIY Art/Deco project you have free reign to use your artistic desires no need to over analyze the placement of a few stars. 🙂
  9. After everything is completed and dried I wrapped a few pieces of twine/Jute around the line that separates the blue from the red/white stripes. You can tie a knot on the front or hide the knot in the back. Either way looks great.
  10. I choose to hang mine with some burlap ribbon that had stars on it but you can also use the twine/Jut. I think the hanging method depends upon the letter some are more symmetrical and hand easier than others. When I made a letter “C” I used the twine/Jute. I used a regular stapler to attach the ribbon and twine for hanging.
  11. Hang and admire your work. 😉

Candle: The table decor is super simple and super cheap. I already had the glass jars on hand left from table decor I used for a party. They can be found at the dollar store. The candles I used are also from the dollar store but really any candle could be used. The burlap ribbon is from Hobby Lobby and was about $6. The twine/jute is again from the dollar store. The sand is actually from our sandbox but you could also use rocks which are available at the dollar store in the craft aisle. I made two of them to decorate our dinner table.

  1. Measure & cut your ribbon. Make sure you have enough to go around the jar and overlap but.
  2. Measure and cut your twine/Jute with the same idea in mind.
  3. Fold one end of the ribbon and make sure that part is on top when you wrap the ribbon around the jar.
  4. Wrap the twine/jute around the ribbon on the jar and tie to hold the ribbon on. (You could use hot glue here if you wanted too but I tend to reuse items and wanted to be able to remove these in the future.)
  5. Cut a small circle out of cardboard.
  6. Use a lighter to melt a small portion of the bottom of the candle then while still hot gently press it onto the cardboard. This creates a holder of sorts.
  7. Put your candle/cardboard into the car and pour the sand in. The sand will help hold the candle in place.
  8. Enjoy!

Please share your ideas/feedback in the reply section of this post. Happy crafting!

DIY Tractor Cake

I have a few little boys who are in-love with John Deere and all things tractor. In their minds it must be yellow and green! I have done a few John Deere themed parties but prefer not to pay for the actual John Deere party favors and cakes. For this one I decided to give a DIY tractor cake a try and here is how it turned out.

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I baked two 9×13 cakes & then cut them to stack up the pieces in order to make the right shape. I used toothpicks & skewers to support the frosting holding it together.

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I used the Wilton small star tip to frost most of it & the small round tip to make the lines & write. The small front tires are made of Hostess chocolate donettes.

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It was a pretty big cake but turned out alright. He loved it and that’s all that mattered to me. 🙂

 

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Happy baking!

DIY Laundry Detergent

Doing laundry for 8 people can get overwhelming so I do about 1-2 loads each day to keep it under control. Doing laundry daily means lots of laundry detergent.  I started making my own soap about a year ago because buying detergent frequently was getting annoying & frankly expensive. I talked it over with a good friend of mine and we thought it didn’t seem too difficult and we were right. I found a few recipes I thought looked manageable and ended up going with this one. It yields 10 gallons of soap because it is concentrated. It IS safe for use in high-efficiency washers and as mom of 5 boys I can also attest to its ability to get out stains.

DIY Liquid Laundry Detergent:

1 Cup 20 Mule Team Borax

1  1/2 Cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

1 Bar Fels- Naptha Soap**

#1 5-Gallon Bucket with a lid (Don’t forget the lid it is VERY important!!)

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The main ingredients are easily found at your local Walmart at a very reasonable price. I don’t have to buy them very often which is great. I have all of the ingredients on hand in my laundry room to make a new batch when I need it.

1. Put 4 Cups of water in a large pot on medium heat.

2. Cut up the bar of soap. You can grade it by hand but I prefer to cut it in half the long way and use an electric grader. It’s so slick!

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“Old Computer” Themed Birthday

My sweet boy turning 8 was so excited to have his ‘Golden Birthday’ he began pondering what theme he wanted for his party months in advance. When he settled on what he referred to as “Old Computer” theme I had to laugh. What is that? He explained to me that he liked old computers and wanted a computer cake. He loves minecraft so I thought he wanted that type of computer theme but he quickly clarified for me. He was thinking of the old Apple II from 1984. HA! This is so far beyond what I thought he knew about the history of technology!! After I wrapped my head around all of that I decide this should be easy and man was it! I started with some old dot matrix printer paper we had gotten from my in-laws. You know, that paper with the holes on each side…yeah that stuff. I printed off banners and signs using the Minecraft font which looks like the hold school font. ( I downloaded it for another Minecraft party I had done). I then glued the words onto the old-school printer paper. Bam, done!  Continue reading

Grocery Shopping for a large family

With such a large family it takes a lot of planning and preparation to feed everyone. I never thought I could get behind a meal planning calendar but for budget’s sake it needed to be done. I had the kids sit down with me and plan a 2 week rotating calendar. We do this in the fall for a winter meals and again in the spring for summer meals. If I or the kids decide a particular meal isn’t working we just change it.
I have the menu on a clip board in the pantry to whomever has the kitchen for their chore that month can get out the ingredients and possibly prep. Under the menu I have the recipes for those meals clipped as well.

imageBelow that clipboard hangs another one. This is the special ‘shopping’ clipboard that has a lovely spreadsheet clipped into it. (Yea, there are probably a few post-it’s on there too so I don’t forget to add things) The spreadsheet includes items we typically buy in alphabetical order as well as a separate list of what I call the ‘target’ items (toothpaste, diapers, etc.). I don’t buy all of those things at Target (after all we are talking cheap) but that seems to sum up the contents of the list for our family budgeting purposes. As we run out of things we can simply mark it on the spreadsheet or add it to the bottom. So each month when we go shopping (yes, it’s a monthly trip) I bring along a clipboard with the items needed highlighted in yellow and as they get tossed into the carts (yup, we require at least 2 carts) I can cross them off with a blue marker.

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I am a BIG FAN of Aldi although most folks think we shop at Sam’s Club or Cosco. The reality is those stores are great for some items but the vast majority of the grocery items are cheaper at Aldi and I can get the family in and out quicker because it’s a smaller store. (They carry all but a couple items on my list it’s just that they don’t carry a bunch of different brands of the same product) What works best for us is bringing 2-3 quarters for carts, 6 laundry baskets and a baby carrier. I can do all the shopping on my own if I put the little one on my back and the toddler in a cart and have one of the older kiddos push the second cart. The Kids are great at helping put items in the cart and have gotten accustomed to how this operation works. We discuss our budget with them and how that whole process works in hopes that they will be fiscally responsible adults. They have fun trying to estimate the cost at the register.

We purchase most of our groceries at Aldi, a few at Walmart and Sam’s club. I try to get most ‘Target’ budget items at the Dollar Store or Walmart. I also LOVE the thrift stores. I have a big selection of thrift stores to shop at and love that I can find treasures at a great price and the little ones can always find a toy of $1 or less.

After pushing 2 or 3 full carts out to the suburban the real fun begins ;). Those laundry baskets I referred to early come into play. I load the groceries up into the baskets in a manner which my hubby calls “Tetrus” but really I just put the cold stuff in 2 baskets, heavy stuff on the bottom and the lighter stuff on top with one basket reserved for chips, breads, etc. This process can be a quick one depending upon the weather and how the kids are behaving. On one occasion I did have a lady sit and watch me load the whole thing because she said she didn’t believe I could fit it all in. (I kinda enjoyed I proving her wrong .)

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When we get home those baskets then get unloaded one at a time placed in a super cool wagon and wheeled up into the kitchen. To get up into the house through the service door I use a ramp my hubby made for the kids to ride their bikes over but it works just fine for my needs. I can get the whole suburban unloaded fairly quickly this way and the organization helps so I can get the cold stuff put away and take my time getting the rest put away.

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I’d love ideas from other large families. How do you do it? Any tips for me?