Ren Fest, All Hallows’ Eve Weekend

On Sunday, Willy and I attended Ren Fest for a few short hours. We had planned to be there all day but since it was pouring down rain in the morning, I thought we weren’t getting to go at all. Fortunately, it let up about noon and we headed out to the festival.

This year I decided I really wanted to attend on All Hallows’ as a way to sneak a second Halloween costume in for the year. I always go to Fest in costume but I really wanted to do something outside of my norm: The Raven.

I have had the nickname of Raven for so many years but I have never dressed as one, until now.
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to incorporate my husband in the costuming, we decided he’d go as Edgar Allan Poe. (the other option, a Khaki Scout ala Moonrise Kingdom, wasn’t very appealing to him)

This costume was definitely a labor of love. I made my tutu by following a tutorial for a very full tutu. The tutorial is for toddler sizes so I didn’t really do the math about how much tulle I would need to make one for myself, in total around 200 yards. A shopkeep at festival didn’t believe me when I told him it was that much but each strip is anywhere from 3-4 feet long and there are two strips in each little hole, stacked three deep, all the way around my waist.
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I really didn’t want any “wardrobe malfunctions” so my hindparts were VERY covered. The only other drawback to this plan? Bathroom breaks were a total pain! The tulle grabbed my tights and it was A LOT of fluff to try and wrangle into a stall.

My make-up is from another tutorial. I modified it to fit the products (mostly) I had on hand, didn’t need a beak because I already had one and also, I didn’t want to change my eyebrows so I just darkened them.
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I did a make-up test and then decided I needed to add some more product. On my face I’m wearing Colorstay foundation, NYX black gel smudger, NYX milk eye pencil, Eyeco fat eyestick in Old Gold, Almay Intense Eyes for green eyes, Hard Candy eyeshadow in Space Cadet, NYX Glam Liner in Glam Platnum, Almay black liquid liner, Almay black kohl liner and Physician’s Formula green gel liner.

It was hard to capture the detail of the mask and my make-up at the same time
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because I’m so pale and it’s so intensely dark.

The mask was originally supposed to be an entire cowl piece but it was WAY TOO HOT HERE (stupid Texas) so I adapted and created a head piece instead.
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(it’s currently sitting on this skull because I don’t have a mannequin head and want to keep the shape)

The back of the mask is a sleep mask from United Airlines First Class.
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It worked perfectly.

I layered several different types and shapes of feathers over the mask and added some buttons for the eyes. The beak I cut off a Venetian style plaster mask that came white but I painted it black by hand and then spray painted a clear coat on top to give it the glossy effect.
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Willy’s Poe costume was very easy to put together with a vest we purchased (this will work for our actual Halloween costumes as well) some smudged eye shadow around his eyes, a normal button down shirt, a strip of black fabric for his ascot and a feather as his quill pen.

This is probably my most favorite costume to date and we had a lovely afternoon at Fest.
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Normally I would wear something else our second trip to Fest,next month,
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Other costume notes: my little shawl thing reminded me of wings and is actually a faux fur wrap that attaches to my leather jacket, I just tied it on with some ribbon. the waist cincher is by Renaissance Leather. the black belt, mug holder and pouch I used for my phone are from Ravenswood, my boots are old Airwalk from Payless, tights are Vera Wang from Kohl’s and my mug is from Wondrous Works in Wood (it’s a purple heart wood)

the walkers

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I’m not sure how long ago I committed to walking the dogs every morning but it’s been long enough to make it a solid habit now. So much so that the dogs get antsy the same time every morning and Maddie (the black dog) starts slapping me if I’m not up and getting ready to go “on time”. We had to pause for Maddie’s surgery and her recovery but I went by myself during that time and I thought she would burst from happiness on our first day back out there, they really do love it that much. I’ve even forced Sprog to drag his teenage hide out there by himself and take them when I’ve had other commitments that prevented me from doing it.

We go when it’s cold. We go when it’s crazy windy.
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Today thanks to DST was the first time I’ve been out before the sun was actually up
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and we almost caught Willy leaving for work. He was turning the corner right as we were about to cross the street and Maddie spotted his car and started to run for him. So cute and slightly dangerous. Thankfully I always walk the girls on the leash :-)

Over the weekend I shot an outdoor wedding and as I currently have a sinus infection, it knocked me down pretty hard but we had plans with friends that evening to see another one of our friends do an acoustic set here before heading on to SXSW shows and I didn’t want to cancel. I’m really glad I went because not only was it a crazy evening for the record books but I also had a couple of people tell me how much they love seeing our morning walk pictures and it really made my night. I didn’t plan on it turning into a “project” but somehow it has morphed into something that I not only look forward to every day but that I get excited about documenting and putting out there into the world. The fact that other people are enjoying it too? It’s just icing on the cake and brings a smile to my face.

meeting miss katie

Our friend Amanda and her husband Vic have been down here this week looking for employment. They currently live in a small town in west Texas and want to live somewhere that has better role-models for their daughter Katie.

Their daughter is adopted and in their town they aren’t finding a lot in the way of positive role-models of the same ethnicity. Amanda and Vic are committed to ensuring that Katie is raised knowing her culture and having as many advantages as she can.

I am so excited for her new life and for them and I wanted to try and get some pictures, of her, while they were here. This was no easy task as she’s a bundle of energy but we got a few. (more than a few, honestly) She has SUCH personality, I tried to capture as much of it as I could. Here is a sampling of some of them.

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in a sea of sunflowers

I meant to post these yesterday and obvs that didn’t happen. I got bogged down posting some pics that I took of a friend’s daughter and then hashing out the details of some fabric flower bouquets and boutonnieres that I am making for another friend’s upcoming (SOON VERY SOON) wedding.

So you get them today, copyrighted (almost no thanks to photoshop) even.

Willy and I stumbled across this field of sunflowers over the weekend while heading back home from a whirlwind visit for a friend’s engagement party and I had to hop out of the car and snap some pics. I am so excited with how they turned out. First the sappy stuff

Me and Willy

A Girl and Her Camera
(photo by Willy) (excuse the black bar caused by my haphazard screen shot, there)

And now the real pics

LOVE them!

housekeeping

bullet pointed for your pleasure (not much with the caps or grammar or punctuation though, fair warning)

* my back has been kicking my butt for over two weeks now with little to no improvement. I’ve had x-rays and multiple dr appts. I’ve had multiple medications. I’ve had an MRI and fights with my insurance. Last night it was decided I will now be doing PT for at least the next two weeks if not more. Good times.

* yesterday was my 7 year wedding anniversary to my most excellent husband. we didn’t do anything and I’m totally okay with that. we hopefully will get a date night this weekend, instead.
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* my most excellent husband still gave me a gift anyway, a pair of the new strappy Toms wedges, I heart them long time.
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* our Keurig is leaking water all over the counter. this is the second morning in a row without coffee (this would be the reason I can’t be bothered to care about the rules of proper writing)

* attended the lovely engagement party for Kristie and Duvain hosted by A’Dell and Jennie. I love them all and I hate that I don’t get to see them more often. I miss being around people I like.
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* On the way back from the engagement party we happened across a CRAZY HUGE field of sunflowers, it was amazing and I had a ball taking pics. I got some really good shots. I’ll share those tomorrow.

* Flip flop swap match e-mails have all been sent (it wasn’t until they were all sent that I realized I called it the scarf swap in the first sentence. SEE NO COFFEE)

it’s a dog’s life

So, our computer exploded last week. Not literally but close enough to it…because as I was in the midst of editing photos it began to crash in such a spectacular and rapid fashion that I had a little emotional break down. It happened multiple times (13 times in fact) so i finally gave up and left it for dead until my husband could deal with it himself. He’s made some changes and *knock on wood* I seem to be back this week.

Over the weekend we were in kid birthday party hell (one jumper place, one party playland place) and I’ll talk about and share photos from that later, but for now, I’d like to talk about cupcakes because what is better than cupcakes? Cupcakes for dogs.

That’s right. Saturday night we tried the recently opened Sprinkles Cupcakes in town (You should know that I remain loyal to Crave at this point, but the dog cupcakes are a slight point in their favor)
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and after placing our order I spotted two remaining Doggie Cupcakes and had to bring them home for our girls
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because as confirmed by the packaging, doggies love cupcakes too.

And as soon as we got home, before they had even had their dinner, we set about giving them their cupcake, with me photographing it, of course. Now the me photographing it part made the process take QUITE a long time and by the end the girls were RATHER PEEVED about the whole thing because, to be fair, they were WAY too excited in the beginning and it was all one big damn blur but once we got them calmed down

Doggie cupcake
magic happened!

Of course, their magic would be once the cupcake actually made it into their faceholes.
Maddie's turn!

BEST DAY EVER

The dogs do indeed love cupcakes too.

What they don’t love? Are the baths they received yesterday.
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Not even a little bit.

go fly a kite

Saturday was a really windy day and things have been very stressful around here so I had what I thought was a genius idea for some family time and we ran up to Costco to grab some kites, a family pack of fancy popcorn and a gift for my nephew’s b-day party this weekend (but that’s not really relevant to this post) and set off.

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Sprog was less than thrilled to be included in this prospect and with no desire of his own to fly a kite, he was tasked with babysitting the dogs.
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Can you FEEL the excitement? Maddie (the black dog) was actually in heaven as she loves being outside with every fiber of her being. Mayday (the white dog) HATES the outdoors with a flaming passion because THE BUGS. THE BUGS!! Plus, PEOPLE. So she wanted back in the air conditioning within about a minute.

The intrepid kite fliers didn’t fare much better I’m afraid
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even though I was able to get mine up in the air several times without it divebombing to the ground (Willy’s owl kite has a death wish) the wind even though strong was more gusty than sustained and it was just too difficult to keep them in the air so after about an hour and a half of various attempts we gave up (the dogs and Sprog had been released before then) we gave up and went inside to scarf our popcorn.

I still had fun and would do it again and hope to soon since we have our own fancy kites.
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the weekend in pictures

First a brief thank you for the support I received yesterday, here and on twitter, life goes on and all that but it’s nice to have all the same.

As an antidote to the morose of yesterday, here are some snaps from how we spent our weekend.

Friday we went to the restaurant were we had our first date and not only had a tasty dinner but also some giant slices of cake.
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Saturday after the shit news we went to Chuy’s and had some medically necessary margaritas
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And I don’t know about y’all but when I’m stressed, I shop so I threw #wys right out the window and went summer clothes shopping while day drunk
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obviously Elizabeth’s uniform was fresh on my mind as I bought a navy blue shirt and orange shorts.

I also bought some new summer skirts, shortish ones (it’s already not getting below 75 at night, this summer is going to SUCK BALLS) and I wore one to breakfast that I forced the sleepy hubs to take me to the next day
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For dinner that night I made homemade garlic croutons from some homemade bread to go on some spinach salad and lo, it was good
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I also played around with the camera in the backyard again while the husband worked on the fence.
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Another day, another dandelion captured

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titles are for royalty

Coming up with titles is sometimes hard enough that it will dissuade me from blogging at all, such is my lack of motivation these days. Bleh.

Anyway.

Over the weekend, I hopped back in my car and drove back to Austin. Jennie and Kristie were in town for the 3M Marathon and Maryann had put together a largish blogger dinner and I needed to get the heck out of dodge, even if only for a night and even if I had only just been there two weeks prior…

The ever lovely and kind Natalie took me in and let me crash in the back house with Jennie and Kristie and her adorable wee ones adopted me as one of their own from the moment I walked in the door on Saturday afternoon and was instantly directed to play ponies in the castle. It seems that miss Adele bonded the most completely with me and when Jennie and Kristie arrived I was deep into reading her a story as she sat by my side and occasionally patted my leg or pointed things out in the book. Oh the void in my “always wanted a little girl” heart just tinged away the whole weekend, I can’t even tell you. And, their house, yard and back house is pretty much my ideal everything and spent many hours yammering on about it to my husband upon my return.

Of course, I did spend time with other people, that aforementioned blogger dinner and all, but I didn’t get ONE picture with anyone else. I’m trying this new thing when I am in large groups where I don’t immediately dive for my phone and am trying to stay more connected to the people immediately in front of me. The unfortunate side effect of that is not taking any photos with people I really wish I would’ve. I really need to try and figure out what my balance point is…maybe pics first and then phone away? Otherwise, I fear I’ll totally forget about my phone altogether which was the case this weekend.

But fortunately for me, at least one pic was taken at dinner (which was HILARIOUS as it was being attempted and also AWKWARD as the whole patio STARED SILENTLY AT US)

Peeps!

Evidence! I was out! With people!

I was also wearing a dress I’ve had in my closet for TWO YEARS (I think, at least I’m pretty sure) and haven’t worn, tags still on it and all. I got it on clearance for $7. I have probably about 10 items in my closet, if not more, that I have never worn and I am making a concerted effort to wear them this year.

I posted on Style Lush recently about a skirt I purchased asking for help on how to wear it, if you have an opinion, you can weigh in here.

encouraging a child to learn

Some of the digi photog kids

My sister teaches in a school district that could be considered less than stellar. There are metal detectors at the doors, the kids have to carry mesh back-packs, they aren’t allowed lockers and must wear uniforms to school. They are also given a complementary breakfast and .10 lunches because that is just the level of poverty of the greater majority of her students. Sometimes there are far greater disadvantages than just the poverty levels of the kids and sometimes there are just some bad apples as well.

She’s been through some riots. She’s been through some lock-downs on campus. There have been some even scarier moments in her ample career with these kids given all the insane changes happening in Texas education, but she still tries to engage them and keep them somewhat interested in learning. It helps, I’m sure that she has the Pre-ap and GT kids but even some of the kids in regular classes seemed really interested in our project today, which is encouraging, given the conditions and situation.

Our project, for the past few years, is to use digital photography as a way to introduce and strengthen science concepts with her kids. I volunteer after school and on weekends to teach them how to work with a camera (I have two point-and-shoots and she has two as well and then whatever cameras they hopefully have-which can mean upwards of 40 kids trying to use less than 8 cameras) to capture physical and life science concepts. My sister, of course, handles all the science aspects. The photos are then printed, matted and entered into Science Fair and also into a photography contest at a local park (if they so choose).

The kids are so incredibly grateful and polite, it just blows my mind every time. They gave me flowers and a card today for my help and one girl gave me a hug. I also get a hug every time a kid from last year comes back to visit. Seeing them at the local arboretum is so heart-warming/wrenching it was like Disneyland for some of the kids (of course not all of the kids were so sheltered) they couldn’t imagine something so beautiful, well-tended and manicured being free to the public.

Today I went to the school for their in School Science Fair where we judged their photos and picked the kids that will go on to the District Science Fair in a few weeks. Some of the kids didn’t come to any of our group sessions and their pictures really showed it, which made me feel good to a point, I didn’t want any of the kids to feel like I wasn’t a value add for them (ACK PROJECT MANAGEMENT REARS IT’S UGLY HEAD) but I don’t like any kids in that kind of situation to feel worse. When I wandered the room “judging” it was more talking to the kids about how they got the picture they got and quick tips about what they could do better, how they could try it differently in the future, if they wanted to.

There are several kids that have a natural talent and several more that worked really hard at getting a good picture. I am really proud of the work that they are putting out there. I can’t wait to see how they do at District. I really hope they do well, it will be such a great esteem boost!

They’ve done some fundraising and so far they’ve raised enough to get one new camera (or maybe some used ones if we hit a pawn shop or something) which is awesome, I mean every little bit helps. Some teachers inquired about buying prints, but no one came through on that end once my sister actually offered it, hopefully that changes and the kids will get more cameras, it’s a bit of a goat rodeo to work with the small numbers we have, but you do what you can.