the zookeeper’s wild day

halloween story 2014 halloween story 2014 HALLOWEEN halloween story 2014 halloween story 2014 halloween story 2014 halloween story 2014 halloween story 2014 halloween story 2014 halloween story 2014 halloween story 2014 halloween story 2014 halloween story 2014 halloween story 2014 halloween story 2014 halloween story 2014 halloween story 2014 Written by True Bratcher
Illustration of Dr. Mechanical Blah Kah Kink by True Bratcher

Our Glow loves animals. Her last two birthdays were spent at the zoo, so True built this story around her. We saw the zookeeper costume at the San Diego Zoo, and we knew this was totally her, so we bought it. Then, True created the story around Glow being the zookeeper. The girls still were able to each pick their own costume too, and while True didn’t want to be an animal exactly, she worked the story to be able to be her new favorite hero, White Tiger. We had some masks, but had to order a few extra. It was a lot less sewing for me this year (I’m so thankful!), but we were still able to put our own spin on it, and we have another family Halloween story for the books.

Have a look back at some of our past Halloween stories…
2013: The Mystery of Pinkie Pielilocks and the Three Bears
2012: The Adventures of Spider-Girl & She-ra
2011: Barbershop Quartet
2010: The Three Little Piggies
2009: Hannah and Gretel
2008: The Untold Story of Oz
2007: Little Red Riding Hood

Happy Halloween friends!

on me: zebra shirt, old navy. zebra mask, amazon. on true: white top and leggings, old navy, and decorated with grey duct tape. mask, michael’s craft store. on brave: black shirt and leggings, old navy, and decorated with orange duct tape. foam tiger mask. tail, made by sisters. on soul: leopard dress (out of stock, but this is similar) and leopard shoes, old navy. foam leopard mask, amazon. tail, made by sisters. on glow: zookeeper costume and monkey from San Diego Zoo (similar here). high-tops, c/o old navy. on ben: panda mask, amazon. giants shirt, vintage.



diy: recycled cardboard dollhouse

recycled cardboard dollhouse Recycled Cardboard Dollhouse

Cardboard Dollhouse Template (the biggest piece is about 20″ x 20″)
Recycled cardboard from a box
Box cutter
Self-healing mat

recycled cardboard dollhouse Directions:
Download the Cardboard Dollhouse Template and you will need to take it to a copy center to get it printed. The largest piece measures about 20″ x 20″, but if you want a smaller house to accommodate a smaller box size, I would just have the template size decreased by 25% or 50%, or whatever your need may be. The template can be used later to make wall paper and floor for the house by gluing it onto the cardboard.

Break down your cardboard box into flat pieces and trace the templates onto your cardboard. With a box cutter, cut out each house piece: 1-center, 2-exterior, 3-house floors. If you want to create small stairs for the interior, cut out a 3 1/2″ x 5″ piece and cut two slits on one side (about 1 1/2″ apart) , and three on the other side (between the slits on the opposite side), then accordion fold them. You can easily create some stairs by accordion folding some scrap pieces of cardstock too!

Note: When you cut out the connecting slits for the house pieces, you will want to be sure that the slit you create accounts for the thickness of the cardboard you use. Depending the type of box you use, your slits might need to be slightly thicker or thinner.

recycled cardboard dollhouse recycled cardboard dollhouse recycled cardboard dollhouse recycled cardboard dollhouse To put it together:
Slot together the center piece with the exterior pieces. Be sure the doors and windows of the exterior pieces parallel one another. Slot each floor onto the house.

recycled cardboard dollhouse recycled cardboard dollhouse recycled cardboard dollhouse recycled cardboard dollhouse recycled cardboard dollhouse Tada! It’s such an easy dollhouse to create and put together. Your children will be oh-ing and ah-ing about how clever you are, at least mine did. Not only is this a eco-friendly way of creating something your children will love, but it will allow them to stretch the creative muscles decorating the house however they wish. We decided to outline all the openings with duct tape (always use a pair of non-stick scissors when dealing with duct tape). They started scavenging around the house to find things to use to make rugs and other furniture pieces for their dollhouse.

recycled cardboard dollhouse recycled cardboard dollhouse When I was asked the kids what was on their Christmas list, they told me they wanted a dollhouse for their My Little Ponies. I told them we don’t need to buy that, but we could make that using things we already have. My kids love boxes, what kid doesn’t?! Sometimes a box gets played with longer than their toys. Thus, I thought it would be great to create a dollhouse out of some boxes we already had. We are big at recycling and reusing in our house, we have a big basket next to the trash can for recycling (and we recycle all we can), so I love saving boxes and pieces of things that I think can be used for something else. We had this large box from a light fixture we ordered (and I had been saving it for awhile), and it ended up being perfect for this eco-friendly dollhouse. My children have been working on making things for inside their house, and once they are all done with that, I will share it with you!

Lots of waste is created everyday, and little things like reusing a cardboard box into a dollhouse helps promote sustainability. We’ve also been knee deep in other projects, but we have plans to make our compost bin (finally!) soon. This will really help us reduce the amount of waste in our house. The girls and I have done projects from this book, which we have shared about here and here, and it has helped make use more aware.

With that, I’m happy to partner with Target’s EcoSet Initiative. All props, furniture, and clothing from their sets are donated to local partners so they can be given to those in need. Constructed elements of a set, like walls, flooring, or other art props are donated to local artists, filmmakers, and theaters. Even packaging materials, and things like rope, or lights are donated to those who can reuse it. My girls take toilet paper rolls and make them binoculars, or telescopes, and when they are done with those, we make sure to recycle them. It’s about thinking about things as a cycle and trying to give things the longest life possible. Thus, I’m happy when my children can use their imagination and turn boxes and things toilet paper rolls into toys.

This post is brought to you by Target. With helping hands, Target is committed to building healthy and sustainable communities. Thank you for the support you give this space and brands I collaborate with. 



wine, cheese, and craft night

wine, cheese, and craft night! wine, cheese, and craft night! wine, cheese, and craft night! wine, cheese, and craft night! wine, cheese, and craft night! wine, cheese, and craft night! wine, cheese, and craft night! wine, cheese, and craft night wine, cheese, and craft night! Erin, Melissa, Lauren, and I live relatively close to each other (for SoCal and traffic), so we had been wanting to get together. After a couple cancellations, we finally made it happen (third time’s a charm). They all came over to my house, and we hung out in the backyard over wine, cheese, and some crafting.

We’ve been following each other for awhile via blog and instagram, so it was so weird to see each other in real life. At first, you just wanna stare and say, “You’re real.” Actually, I did that. HA! Then, you get to see their movements and hear their voice, and it’s really so interesting to have the online world and real life collide. Lauren and I already knew each other (so I already knew how sweet she is), but this was my first time meeting Melissa and Erin are both are just as lovely as they are online (even more so in person!).

They brought some necklace beads, and I had some ready to share, and we made simple beaded necklaces as we chatted. I enjoyed getting to know these creative ladies, and chat about random things like malls, birthing, and social media.I set out some mini pumpkins we had, a few tea lights (the wind blew most of them out), and a little vase of flowers made for a simple table set up. I have this pretty bark cheeseboard, and used it for cheese (duh!) and crackers. I also served some hummus and pita bread, and the girls and I made Trader Joe’s pumpkin bread. Santa Margherita sent me this bottle of wine awhile back, and so I opened it up for the occasion.

It was a relaxing evening and we talked about doing it again soon, maybe this time doing some macrame or weaving together. Lauren got bit by the necklace making bug that she did it again with friends a couple days later. If you’re itching for a creative night with some friends, just pick up some simple beads and cording at your local craft store, and get together over food and create necklaces together!




abstract art pumpkins

abstract art pumpkins abstract art pumpkins abstract art pumpkins abstract art pumpkins abstract art pumpkins abstract art pumpkins abstract art pumpkins We were trying to figure out how we wanted to trick out our little pumpkins. We thought about making them a little witch hat and drawing witch faces, or painting them black, or turning them into little vases. In the end, the girls just wanted to paint them. We picked out some pretty colors of craft paint and they made their own little abstract art on the pumpkins.

They were proud of their creations and were asking for more pumpkins to paint. I especially love the messy strokes of paint that ended up on the scratch paper; I think it makes cute wall art. Looking at the pumpkins from the top, they kind of look life flowers.

What do you to decorate your pumpkins? Michael’s is having #trickyourpumpkin contest, so if you share your decorated pumpkins on Instagram, use #TrickYourPumpkin #sweepstakes and tag @MichaelsStores to enter. Get more information on it here.

I’m so happy it’s Friday! This week has felt extra long.




diy: woodland gnome costume

woodland gnome Woodland Gnome Costume

Gnome Beard Template
1/4 yard of silky fleece
1 yard of blue cotton fabric
1/4″ braided elastic
Paper mache cone
Red paint
Hole puncher
Sewing machine
Coordinating thread

Seam allowance: 1/4″

woodland gnome Directions:
1. Paint your cone. We did two coats of red. Once it is completely dry, punch a small hole on one side of the cone for the elastic, and then another hole directly across for the other elastic end. Cut the elastic to a length that would be appropriate for your child’s head (or whoever is going to be wearing it), insert each end through the hole, and knot to secure.

woodland gnome woodland gnome 2. Using the Gnome Beard Template, cut out the beard from the silky fleece fabric. After it is cut, shake off the beard to rid of any excess fleece fibers. Cut the elastic to a length that would be appropriate to be worn on top of the ears and around the back of the head. For my child, 9″ was a sufficient length for the elastic to be snugly worn around. Sew each end of the elastic in its place (see template for placement).

woodland gnome 3. Using a loose shirt or dress as a guide, add an extra 1″ for the seam allowance, and cut out your gnome top in a kimono-like shape. With the right sides together, sew along the shoulders and down the sides of the shirt, turn right side out, and press. I left the neckline, bottom, and sleeve openings raw and unfinished. If unfinished edges drive you crazy, go ahead and fold those openings in 1/4″, press, fold another 1/2″, press, and then edge stitch around.

Typically, I would wash the fabric before sewing, press it, then cut out my pattern and sew it together. This time though, I skipped all of that. I was going for fast and easy!

woodland gnome woodland gnome woodland gnome There you have it… the basics for a whimsical gnome costume. We already had some brown leggings, so we just used that for pants, I cut out a strip of black fabric to be used as a belt, and our gnome was complete. The tricky thing is getting your child to wear the beard (at least it was for me)! She refused to wear it under her nose, so I gladly settled for under her chin. If you think your child won’t want to wear it under his/her nose, don’t bother cutting out a place for their mouth, but as you can see here, you can’t even really see the hole that was cut out for it. And if I were going to do it again, I would have used black elastic instead so it would hide in her hair well.

woodland gnome woodland gnome woodland gnome woodland gnome Make some woodland animal masks for the rest of the family and then you’re ready for a cohesive family costume, or you can even go for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I called this a woodland gnome, but it most certainly could be a garden gnome, and you could make everyone else wear flower masks made from paper plates or something garden-y like that. In addition, I think making the gnome hats and beards would be cute for a woodland or garden party. My friend threw this woodsy one-derland party recently, and I wish I had this costume idea then to share with her.

We are not quite done making our costumes for this year, but I’m excited to share with you the story True wrote for it. As cute as Glow is as a woodland gnome, she won’t be appearing as a gnome for this year’s Halloween story. Do you have your costumes for this year figured out?

This post is part of the Michael’s Maker’s Series.



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