Work in Progress: Poison Ivy Hallowe’en Costume

It’s getting to be that time of year, folks. And the annoying thing about posting seasonal stuff on a blog where you don’t necessarily plan too far ahead is that things like Hallowe’en costumes can’t be posted until *after* Hallowe’en, which is a little lame. But at least they can be inspiration for next year.

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This year, the Pie and I are heading out on vacation and we won’t be home for Hallowe’en. The Pie has a tournament in Toronto that weekend so I’m teaming up with Chel and her friends and we’re doing a group costume: Batman, Robin, and assorted villains. I am unreasonably excited to go as Poison Ivy and join the group. This costume has taken a considerable amount of planning, so it may even top Wolverine as one of my best costumes to date.

I’ll show you what I have come up with so far and hopefully it’ll inspire you as well.

One of the issues with female comic book characters, especially those written by DC, is that they tend to come scantily clad. And I don’t want to show that much skin. There will be children in our group. And sometimes it snows on Hallowe’en in Canada. And nobody likes being naked in the snow. So part of the challenge was to take the traditional PI getup and make it a bit more … modest. Because holy Hanna that is just not my style.

I started off with the basic corset, in green, and I found one on Amazon that also had a wee skirt that came with it (the skirt is MUCH shorter than advertised but oh well).

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After strapping myself into it in a rather undignified manner I realized that the flimsy, slippery ribbons that made up the laces were all that was holding the whole thing together. And I have quite a bit that needs holding in. I could see one of them snapping under the pressure and having a disaster on my hands.

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So I replaced the laces, front and back, with a sturdier material: parachute cord.  Not only was I now more confident that the corset bindings wouldn’t spontaneously explode, but it was actually easier to lace up because there was more friction with the cord.

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Now I could lace it up good and tight and it wasn’t going anywhere. Problem was, this thing is made for people with smaller … assets than I have, and there was some danger of a spill (and there will be children present), so I had to wear a bra underneath to keep everything where it should be. And the bra peeked over the top of the corset. Not good.

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I had to therefore disguise the bra as best I could (because there was no hiding it and I was sure as shooting not going without). Fortunately for me the local Fabricland is about five minutes from our house, so I popped in and found exactly what I needed.

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I basted some trim and sequins onto the bra wherever it was exposed. I also put some more trim at the bottom so that it would blend in with the similar trim at the top of the corset. The sequins might be overkill but I love them.

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Right. I’m not hanging out anywhere now. This is good. But I’m so tightly strapped into this thing that I’m having trouble breathing. It’s not like I can simply loosen the laces – the whole thing will fall off. And it has no give whatsoever. I needed a bit of a release valve built into this to save my lungs. I bought some 6″ wide elastic from Fabricland as well, and I will cut out two of the back panels and replace it with four pieces of sewn-together elastic. This way the corset can still be as tight as it needs to be but my ribcage can also expand and contract as needed. But I had to go out of town twice for work (I’m in Indiana as I write this and as you read this) so it’ll have to wait until I get back.

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Then, there was the issue of hair. PI’s hair is red and long. Mine is short and brown. Normally I dress as a dude for Hallowe’en simply because having short hair makes it easy to do. This year I had to go to extremes. I picked up this wig for super cheap (thanks Amazon), and after an interminable wait it arrived.

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It’s been about ten years since I’ve had hair this long, or this red.

But how am I going to stay warm, you ask? Well I found a pair of green fleece tights and a pair of fingerless green elbow gloves and those are going to be very handy.

And then there’s this. This is an opera cloak hand-sewn by my great grandmother about 100 or so years ago. I used to play dress-up with it all the time and amazingly it’s still in beautiful shape. It hasn’t fit me across the shoulders and chest since I was about nine years old, however (my great-grandmother being one of those tiny elfin type ladies). After some consultation with my mother we decided to remove the sleeves to give me some more room to move around. She’s working on it as we speak.

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I have some other grand plans including temporary tattoos, fake vines, and lots and lots of glitter. I’ll keep you posted about how they turn out!

Bedroom FANdango

I’m sure you’ve seen something like this all over the internet. I was *going* to make this originally for the back wall in my partner’s office but now that he’s gone I had to save it all for myself.

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When we moved into the Tower, for the first time ever, we actually had enough wall space to display every single one of our framed pictures. We even had some blank space, and one of those spaces was in the bedroom behind our bed. We needed something big. I already put up that odd abstract painting, which is growing on me and is next to my side of the bed. And then I put up those lovely milk art watercolours, on the Pie’s side. But there was a giant space in the middle, directly above the bed. Just a big expanse of gray.

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So I’m going to fix it, and for cheap. And easily. You can do it too, if you have a big space that needs filling. All you need is some regular weight copy paper (A4, US Letter, it doesn’t matter), a stapler (with staples), and a bone folder for crispness.

Bedroom FANdango 1

The bone folder is optional but I find it really helps. You’re going to want to go ahead and fold your sheet (long side or short side) into a fan.

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I find it easiest to simply fold the paper in half, then  half again, and then backwards on itself …

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… and then take the half that doesn’t make a nice zig-zag and fold it backwards. That way all the sections are even.

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Then grab your little accordion and bend it from the centre so the ends touch.

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Crease that fold as much as you can. Don’t worry if it’s a little wobbly.

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Pinch together the two edges in the centre of the fan and shove a staple in there to hold it together. You can use tape if you want, but staples are more expedient.

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Now do that whole thing with two more sheets of paper.

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Next, take one of the open ends of one fan and staple it to one of the open ends of another fan.

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Use the third fan to close the circle.

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When you flip it over you should have all the staples hidden.

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I did this a million more times, sometimes folding the long side of the paper and sometimes the short end, and I ended up with two different sizes of bunting, in four different colours: light blue, dark blue, gray, and white.

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To put it up on the wall I decided to use simple sewing pins, because they didn’t leave a big hole in the wall and because they were long enough to give the circles some movement and allow me to layer them on top of each other. I used a thimble to push the pins carefully halfway into the wall.

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Then I stuck up some more.

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And some more. I didn’t worry about pattern or where things were. I kind of winged it and went for something assymetrical and disordered.

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I’m quite pleased with the final result, and both the Pie and I are happy to have that big blank space finally filled.

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So I went to Atlanta in August


Part of my job entails traveling around Canada and the United States to teach people how to use the custom software we make. I’m usually gone at least one week a month, sometimes two. Most of the time I end up in Toronto, for some reason (and other than hanging out with my squishee Chel I’m not a huge fan of the city). Or I end up in places that would be nice if I weren’t there at that particular time. Like when I went to Winnipeg. In February.


Or Atlanta, in August. If you follow me on instagram you may have seen a daily photo diary I posted while I was there, but I thought I’d fill you in a bit more on the trip. If I’m traveling more, then I can’t be cooking and crafting so you’ll just have to get me as tour guide instead sometimes. 20150819_081822 Anyway, I went to Atlanta in the last week of August. I thought about posting this back then but I got busy and you know how stuff like this happens …


If you’re not used to southern American climates, I wouldn’t recommend going to Atlanta in August. Every day I was there, it was 100% humidity with lows of about 29°C and highs of 35°C. I spent much of my day sweating while traveling between air-conditioned locations. And every night it rained. Like, FLOODED. I had to learn how to un-soak my shoes with my hotel hairdryer. Every night.


But Atlanta (at least, the downtown area where I stayed), is a very interesting city. To give you a bit of background, all the architecture within the central city limits is all new. Atlanta, a railroad town, was invaded during the American Civil War in 1864 and they burned down EVERYTHING. So Atlantans don’t have a huge attachment to historical architecture, and the modernistic style that has taken over much of the downtown core makes me feel a little bit like I’m walking through some dystopian film set. I was working in the Capital Hill area so most of the buildings I passed every day looked like this.

Atlanta 2015

Atlanta 2015

I would hang out with Jimmy Carter in the mornings and check my email before going to work.

Atlanta 2015

I never notice all the big grandstanding touristy things. The stuff I notice when I travel is all little. Like this tiny mosaic embedded in a sidewalk.


And the fact that all the shrubbery is holly. ALL OF IT. I’m used to just seeing this stuff at Christmas.


This 9/11 tribute really struck me.


I went to the Georgia Aquarium as well. I did think that some of the tanks looked a little small for the size and amount of animals in them, but the displays were cool.




You can also go behind the scenes and see how everything is maintained.


When I left the aquarium it was absolutely pouring rain. Of course.


I also visited the Coca-Cola Museum, which is neat. Coke was born in Atlanta, and you can learn all about the history of it in the place. You also get to sample Coke products from all over the world.




And the gift shop is a little nuts.


Of course when I left it was pouring rain. If you’re planning to do more than one touristy thing in Atlanta (I would have but I ran out of time), then I would recommend getting a CityPass. These attractions are expensive and this will save you a bit of cash.


I also popped into Twin Smokers BBQ and had the absolute best bourbon milkshake of my life. I highly recommend. Plus they give you a carousel of the barbecue sauces of your choice.


Everyone was so nice. I gave directions to another lady visiting the city (thank you Google Maps) and dinner recommendations to a Floridian tourist. At one point I was walking down the sketchy part of Peachtree on my way to work and I stopped to answer a text message. One of the habitants of the street asked me if I was okay and if I needed help, simply because I’d stopped walking. Even the rampant homeless population was nothing but cordial.

Atlanta 2015

Thanks for a great visit Atlanta!


Handy Items: Circle Cutter

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This right here is a circle cutter, and it’s a pretty ingenious device, which is deceptively simple to use. This one in particular is made by Martha Stewart, and we all know she has her sh*t together when it comes to handy tools.

Circle Cutter 1

So you have this ring, which holds a clear disc inside with a million holes in a spiral. The centre disc spins inside the ring.

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And you have this tiny witchy yet super sharp wee blade on a small handle, which also spins.

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And you have your thing that you want to cut. In my case this is Con-Tact paper made to look like stainless steel. I originally tried to do this with my 2″ circle punch, but things went badly.

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On a reliable and steady cutting surface, place your material. Top with the ring, and figure out how big you want the diameter of your circle to be. Insert the tiny evil blade into the requisite hole in the disc that matches that measurement.

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Then carefully draw your hand around in a circle. The blade will rotate as you go, and the disc will spin. And then all of a sudden you have a perfect circle.

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I’m making quite a few of these. It’s not as fast a process as it would have been with a circle punch but I like the flexibility to make my circles any size I want. I’ll keep you posted as to what I plan to do with them.

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Ain’t it funny how things change

Things Change 1

This past May I dropped out of grad school. I was seven years into a PhD thesis that I no longer loved, that some academic with better funding had scooped me on three years previously, and it was time to move on. There had been too many delays in the project; some were of my doing, but others were out of my control, and in the intervening time, my priorities had shifted. I no longer wanted to try to prove anything to the academic community, and I definitely did not want to try my limited chances at getting a tenured position in academia. So I left the program. The thesis remains half-finished, and my standing is A.B.D., which means that technically I can go back and finish it at some point if I wanted to. I don’t think I will. And I don’t regret my decision.

Things Change 2

It’s just weird that it was such a huge focus of my life for so long. It was the reason we moved to Newfoundland and had all those amazing experiences. And now it’s over. And this giant shelf that is double stacked with books on the subject no longer needs to fill this particular purpose. I’m not getting rid of the books, but I don’t need them to sit there every day and remind me of something I never finished.

Things Change 3

As I said, my priorities are shifting. The Pie and I are looking for a house to buy but until then we’re stuck in the Tower, which I am growing to dislike more with every passing month. But I don’t want to go through the time and expense of moving. Again. So we make do. And we shuffle things around.

Things Change 5

We only really have one common space with room to move around in and that’s our living room, which is the same room as our dining room. So when the Pie has the boys over and they’re playing games and making noise I wanted a place for myself where I can do my projects (for you, dear readers) and maybe binge-watch a bit of Netflix while I’m at it. Our bedroom is actually the largest room in the house, so we made the decision recently to buy a second TV (don’t judge me), and put it in the bedroom (I can hear you judging me).

Things Change 7

So I ditched the makeshift vanity that I realized I was never going to make (because I would never use it) and shuffled some things around.

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It’s not perfect, and it’s not pretty, but it’s making do with what I have and it’ll do until we move and I can set up something that I like better. For now I’m pretty impressed with how many moves that bookshelf and those two bedside tables have survived.

Things Change 8

Fun with Adhesive Vinyl

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The Pie and I are really enjoying all the cool things that can be done with our new Silhouette Cameo die cutter. And now that everyone we know knows that we have one, we’re fully expecting people to flood us with ideas of things to make. For them. But for now we’re still making stuff just for us. This past weekend we created some decals for the Pie’s new batting helmet, complete with his team logo on the front and his name and number as well.

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And requisite hidden corgi inside.

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I also have a huge blank space inside my office above my whiteboard. In our office the whiteboards often have inspirational sayings on them, mostly to do with sales or customer service or opportunity or whatever. Mine is thankfully blank. And I like the idea of putting words up on the wall but I’m not a huge fan of the flowery sayings that people use and then spread all over Pinterest. It’s just not my style.

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So I got a little creative with my thinking and went with something a bit different, to remind me to simply chill out when dealing with my particularly challenging clients.

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It was kind of a pain to put up and it’s a little crooked but I love it.

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I used the extra space on the vinyl to add some Space Invaders as well. Also crooked. Crooked is definitely my style.

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Everyone in the office over the age of 25 comes in and goes, “SPACE INVADERS! AWESOME!” and everyone under the age of 25 comes into the office and goes, “CRAY CRAY! AWESOME!” So at least I know I’m hitting all the demographics.

Fast Tip Friday: Filing in a Flash

This is a work-related post which is extra-sweet specifically because I am not at work today – I’m watching the Blue Jays hopefully kick some butt on their final home stand of the regular season. I was going to make this for my messy partner at work while I was decorating his office but he’s leaving us (tragedy!) so I’m making it for myself. I work in a mostly paperless office but sometimes you need to print things out to use them for reference (like phone lists) or a client still insists on seeing a hard copy of something or another. So I don’t need a whole filing cabinet, or even a drawer (I DO have a filing drawer, but currently it is filled with snacks). I just need a few files, preferably some place I can reach them on my way out the door. For this you just need some file folders (any size, any colour) and some tape (I have here washi tape for the decorative parts and double-sided tape for the sticking-things-together parts). Maybe a ruler if you feel like being measure-y.

Filing on the Wall 1

My office actually uses these pretty blue and teal files for storage so they were on hand, and I simply arranged them in a pattern and orientation that I found pleasing (Chel I can see you making use of a nice rainbow one someday).

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I measured and marked them (okay, so you need a pencil too) so they’d be evenly spaced.

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Then I used copious amounts of double-sided tape on the back to stick all the folders together.

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Now I need to do something about the open flappy sides. I was originally going to poke holes and kind of lace them together but I decided that was too much effort for work decor.

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Washi tape to the rescue! I love it because it’s so light and comes in millions of colours. Thanks Japan for yet again making functional things pretty as well.

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I did a couple of layers for security.

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All ready for the bus ride to work!

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I used 3M command strips to stick it to the wall next to my door. It works great!

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adventures in grown-up living


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