No Costume? No Excuses! Dress Decade! Toss-Together Costumes in Your Closet.

People say they never know what to wear for a costume. I always tell people just to look in their closets! Do the best you can with what you have. Most any decade costume can be found in a closet. Here are a few, and more are listed at the end of this blog.

Roaring Twenties:

Ladies: Straight or pleated skirt/dress drop-waist, solid color, a bit of fringe accent, a head band with a feather, long beads/party beads. Done. For a guy: part hair down the middle or side and slick back; wear anything with pinstripes, a fedora, black pants, bow tie, a vest; carry a flask and fake (or real) cigarette. Look up: Chicago Musical; Thoroughly Modern Millie; F. Scott Fitzgerald; Zelda Fitzgerald

T in her cute twenties costume, and me in my zuit-suit ‘30s gangster. The only thing I made was the little red neck tie. Cut cardboard and red satin ribbon around it. Matching red around the fedora. Everything else I had in my closet.

Depression/Dust Bowl Thirties:

Unless you want to go sleek satin and suits for the people who had money, go with anything dowdy and brown. Shirt waist dresses, or button down shirt and skirt. Overalls and plaid. Farmer hats, etc. Look up: Grapes of Wrath

Forties:

War-time or swing dance era “Bobby-soxer” – fancy hair? Ladies, “victory roll” or curl your hair and pin top half back. Short and flare/a-line skirts; white tube socks sequins bed down and Keds or black and white wing tipped shoes. Peek-a-boo toed heels. Bright red lipstick. Guys – war-time clothes, slicked back hair; pants, button downs, suspenders, trench coats. Look up: Swing Kids film; Pearl Harbor film; Roger Rabbit

My “Tacky-Older-Office-Lady” costume

I never mind making people laugh – with or at me! Loved this super easy costume!

This is one of my favorites! It was “Grandparents” day during one of the many high school spirit weeks I participated in. (As a former high school English teacher, there was at least one week during the year that had dress-up days leading up to the homecoming parade, game, and dance. I was one of those teachers who always participated.)

Everything in this costume, I had in my closet. I went with “tacky older office lady.” I didn’t have the time or desire to temporarily spray my hair gray, hence the kerchief. Anyway, an elastic waist-skirt, leopard print, a bright pink button down that I never wore, and two square pillows under the elastic skirt made up the outfit. One pillow in front and one in back. A few long necklaces. Maybe rolled down knee-high hose.

This costume took the least time and probably had the most laughs. The ladies in the front office had to have a picture, and they said it looked like I had a hernia (that was the bottom corner of the front pillow.) Score!

Axl and Slash

G & R Fans who weren’t dressed in costume went wild and wanted their picture with us: Axl and Slash!

Axl Rose and Slash! I always wanted to do Axl for Halloween, and I finally got to, two years ago. My husband and I had a date night the weekend before Halloween, and we had plenty of events to choose from in the area. An old I (heart) NY t-shirt, jeans, boots, and my very old black leather bomber jacket, with a red head-band, a few chunky chain necklaces (one big cross) and my old aviator Ray-bans: I got to rock out as Axl. My husband’s costume was a curly rocker wig (the same used for Captain Hook in this costume blog entry), a top hat, and an old necklace of mine around the top. Easy.

Grab a PlayStation or toy guitar, and you’re set. G&N 4-Ever!

Black Cat

Meow!

The most work I put into this was my eye make-up. I bought the gloves with nails at a Halloween store, I’m sure. You can easily buy cat ears and tail for next to nothing. I made these.

More Decade Closet Costume Ideas:

Fifties: if no poodle skirts and black leather jackets are in your closet, guys, toss on a pair of jeans, white t-shirt, slicked back hair, and a small cigarette-sized box rolled in your sleeve! Gals, cropped pants (called petal pushers in the ’50s), a cute top, hair in a ponytail with a scarf tied around it or your neck, and you’re Danny and Sandy! Look up: (seriously? Ok) Grease, West Side Story, Happy Days, etc.

Sixties: mini skirt, shirt, and riding boots! Tease the hair, spray, and done. Guys, similar to fifties, just comb hair in side part and over forehead like the Beatles or Beach Boys. Go hippie look – no bell bottoms? Wear jeans and the ugliest shirt you can find – maybe in Avacado green, mustard yellow, or burnt orange. Look up: (really? Again? Haha. Okay.) Austin Powers, 007 with Sean Connery, Hair the musical (if hippie era), Brady Bunch

Seventies: Hippie era sixties or fabulous Disco! Need I say more? Look up: (ahem) Elton John, Welcome Back Kotter (Show), Brady Bunch, Disco! Saturday Night Fever!

Eighties: Beads. Necklaces. Tons of bracelets. White socks and heels. Big hair! Off the shoulder with a bra strap showing. Mini skirts. Guys: jeans. T shirt. Blazer. Look Up: Miami Vice. Ah-ha. St. Elmo’s Fire. Any Molly Ringwald movie. (Hello, Duckie!) Flashdance. Michael Jackson (before he was weird)

I will stop here. I graduated 1995, and I had a kid come into my classroom in Birkenstocks, jeans, and a Green Day concert t-shirt on decade day, one of my last years teaching. He looked like my Senior year of high school. The first time I saw my decade as a costume! O_o I almost kicked him out of class. (Just kidding.)

Okay! No excuses! You always have a costume at hand if you look in your closet. So…have fun this Halloween season! Always plenty of events to go to!

Happy Haunting!

J.

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Costume Making Time

Me as a bat and my parents, circa 1979…and my dad’s hat was the real deal. No costume, but the style of the time. I wish I had that hat, still!

My mom always made my costumes! She was amazing at it. I’ll never forget being fascinated at her drawing my bat wings for this costume using a bar of soap and explaining it was so she could see the line on the black material to cut. She attached it to my black ballet leotard, and I was a bat!

Vintage Captain Hook pattern by Simplicity.
Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and Tinker Bell, Halloween, 2017.
A good shot to see the wings. Peter Pan with a candy face!
The croc. My husband’s idea!!

While I have been putting my own costumes together going back to my college days, and I stitch and sew, this This Captain Hook costume was the first true sewing pattern I ever followed, and it was vintage!

I wanted to use the Captain Hook costume that really resembled the Disney version, and all I could find to put together was this pattern. I learned not to question the pattern or try and figure it out, just follow directions and it all works! I learned how to make sleeves! That was huge.

I made my son’s Peter Pan tunic, which he still wears while pretending to be Peter Pan around the house, from a scratch pattern. I did that first. The sleeves were awkward to assemble and I wish I had done the pattern from the Hook costume, first.

My tinker bell is made from a t-shirt. The wings were the best! They light up and we’re fun to make. Here’s the YouTube tutorial on how to make them.

This year, I am making my second costume from a pattern. Mac wants to be a ninja, so a visit to Hobby Lobby, and here I am! Wish me luck. I’ll post updates and I am going to also post on my other past costume projects. More to come!

Next project: ninja! Simplicity sewing pattern.

Happy sewing!

J

Meeting My Potential

My dad and me rafting the Nantahala, my high school spring break, freshman year, 1992.

So, I don’t talk cancer. I don’t think cancer. I don’t even say the word. I don’t do races, charities, talks, or posts.

And, I don’t know why now I’m writing about my losses to cancer. I have no idea why I’m writing. As I write, I dread what’s going to come next.

In a quarterly magazine I manage and edit, there was this beautifully written memoriam to a very kind and helpful man – a lawyer – who passed away with cancer. We typically don’t publish pieces like this. But, we are in this fall issue. I read and reread it in my various editing stages. This man accomplished so much in his life. He really lived to his full potential.

I am 42. Almost nine years ago, my dad passed away after a decade battle with cancer. It was the worst year of my life.

Lately, I have been challeneged to live to my full potential. I have a different daily life, and a different workload, which is a good different. Things are changing and growing, and my work life is exciting. And I keep meeting this theme in all areas of my life: meet your potential. Don’t just meet it…surpass it!

My dad passed away too young. He could’ve done more. Now I’m in the middle of my life, and I’m so grateful for what I have – a loving husband and son and opportunity. When he was around my age, my dad was essentially starting over.

What is living to our potential? Do we ever really live to our full potential? I mean, I used to think that once I was published, that would be it. I first published nearly a decade ago. I had feedback from people that what I wrote meant something to them. I still write and publish. So, is meeting my potential in all areas of life – art, music, writing at a professional level truly and fully realizing my potential? Is it to solely make a living off my writing? I’m still working toward that goal, but I think it’s more than that.

What is it?

We are taking a much needed vacation in 8 days. Much needed for my husband who hasn’t had a true vacation in 5 years. We are taking off and boating our way along the intercoastal to Pensacola. We’ve never spent much time there. Recently, our plans changed so that we are departing on September 28th. The anniversary of my father’s death. As I said, the worst year of my life.

Not only did I lose my father, but I also lost my future mother-in-law, and my aunt on either side of his death and within in one year. All to cancer. Bam, bam, bam. Gone, gone, gone. I never thought I’d stop crying.

The best thing about that year, however, was that my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, was with me through it all. And I was with him through his mother’s passing. God purposed that! He brings good out of bad. And there was a lot of bad.

I never go to my father’s grave. It’s in my hometown – Tallahassee – and I can never muster up the gumption to go, sit, and sob. It’s because I know I’ll sit and sob. I tend to remember my father during fun times – I know he’d love “being here right now,” kayaking, boating, surfing, paddling, fishing, cheering at an FSU football game…all the things I most love to do – he’d be right there with me. And I believe he is.

My father was charismatic and he made everyone feel they were his best friend. Because everyone was. He was handsome and fun-loving and people wanted to be around him. He made you feel like you were the most special person in the room. But, he made some heafty mistakes. Mistakes that busted up our home when I was only 15. My world got rocked. Divorce. A move to a new town. Chaos. I was a wreck. I didn’t look it on the outside – I kept it together and was involved in all kinds of extra curricular activities at school and church. But I was a mess.

However, one good thing about my dad was that through it all he loved me and my brother very well and was there for us in ways many fathers aren’t. The greatest legacy he left me was that he lived a life as a good and loyal friend to others. He showed me how to love all people and love them well. And I’m proud I have a lot of his adventerous spirit in me, and in his absence, I hang onto that.

I don’t want to not live up to my full potential. (Forgive the double-negative.) I want my son to be 42 someday and know that his mom did it! She chased her dreams and made them a reality for the betterment of herself, her family, and others in the world.

So, in 8 days, while on our boating adventure, on the 9 year anniversary of my father’s death, I’ll be on the water, living my life and remembering him. And today, as I did yesterday, as I’ll do tomorrow, I will keep plugging away, coming up with ideas, sifting out the good ones from the bad, setting goals, meeting deadlines, and making our lives better by living to my full potential – and hopefully beyond it.

Maybe the most important thing is the journey – not that you meet or exceed your full potential, but how you meet your full potential.

What are your goals? What are you doing to meet them? What people and memories affect your decisions and how?

Blessings,

J.

Impatient or Patient…Which are You?

Patient! Day 3 of baking process – balancing sourdough dough balls in their bannetons on the way to the fridge.

Around here, we subscribe to the little mantra, “good things come to those who wait.” I mean, we were 35 when we got married, I was 38 when my son was born, and we love our slow-cruising pontoon boat life. If we don’t Sous vied almost all our meats, we smoke them. I love a crock pot over the insta pot or (aaahhh) pressure cooker.

Today? Finally, it’s bake day for my sourdough bread! Tonight? Slow smoked beer can chicken on the Joe.

Impatient and patient – day two of sourdough bread process; fall dish towel out a few days early!

But what am I always ready for? What do I get a wee bit impatient about? (Yep, those ended in prepositions, y’all. It’s called colloquialism!) Fall, cooler weather, and all things pumpkin! I am fortunate to be a native, lifelong Floridian. I already have my pumpkin towels out. Front door wreath. And tomorrow? I will sprinkle the house in pumpkin fairy dust, and come Oct. 1st? A little cutesy-spooky Halloween!

Totally impatient – 70 degrees in the morning? Time to put up my fall wreath!

So, I’m a little bit of both. Aren’t we all? The important thing is to admit when you’re impatient and work on it. Like me. What makes you impatient? When are you able to maintain patience without issue?

Happy Friday!

J.

Morning Reading

After reading a blog post about getting back to reading, I realized how little I read books, these days. I start at 3 or 4 am, writing, working out, and working all before my family wakes up. It’s not bad as I am an early riser, naturally, and those are my best hours, creatively. But I am asleep, early, and my day is packed! However, I know I need reading, and I need to read what I love.

This morning, I pulled two favorite authors, Joyce Carol Oates and Sylvia Plath, off my shelf and decided I would read one new short story that I haven’t already read from each book until I finish.

I started inside, early, in my living room, and I moved out to the fire pit and I get to enjoy a glorious sunrise and cool morning weather.

Happy Reading,

J.

Sunday Morning Beignets

Here in north Florida, we are enjoying a decadent Sunday morning breakfast of beignets, mimosas, and coffee, outside!

A good morning sea breeze and cooler morning temps (not 95) is the promise of cool fall days around the corner.

I haven’t attempted to make beignets from scratch. I love Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans – my favorite place besides my home here at the beach and Tallahassee (my hometown). So, I use their beignet mix. I mean, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? I have found the mix at Publix, mostly.

We are grateful that hurricane Dorian most likely has turned back to the Atlantic, and I hope my friends and colleagues throughout the state are relaxing this morning, as well. I also hope the storm simply dissipates and does nothing more than provide awesome surf for good folks all along the east coast.

Cheers,

J.

Snake in the Mint

Imagine my surprise when I was watering my front porch potted plants and the one of the pieces of decorative driftwood started to move!

I am not and never intend to be a snake expert. I see a snake and I run. That’s what I did! I ran around the corner of the house, yelling “snake, snake, snake” to my husband who was in the back yard.

He dashed around, as did our son, and announced it was a read rat snake. A “good” snake.

One snapshot later, and he and our neighbor, using a stick of driftwood, were taking it to the woods behind our house.

Such is Florida life!

Cheers,

J.

Stay Strong

One of my favorite verses! When you’re discouraged, look up!

But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength;

They shall mount up with wings like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary,

They shall walk and not faint.

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/114/isa.40.31.nkjv

We have an eagle’s nest and bald eagles in our neighborhood. It is amazing to see them fly. Breathtaking. Everyone stops and points and exclaims, “Look! The eagles!”

Keep looking up! Stay strong!

Love,

J.

Insomniacs Unite

Electric fireplace light feature is always nice to look at.

Can’t sleep?

I go through phases of sleeplessness. My insomnia hits at 2 or 3 in the morning. Lately, it’s been 1 am.

Something wakes me up – a dream. The dog barks occasionally. My kiddo, though it’s rarely him, these days.

“They” say if you wake up, you should lie in bed because even your body is still getting rest although you are awake. So, we start worrying, making to-do lists, planning for future.

Coffee time, of course!

It helps, but it’s still not sleep. And, save a glass of milk, I won’t take anything to help. I rarely do, anyway as I never want to rely on sleep aides.

So, I lie awake. And think. And worry. And pray. And at the acceptable time of 3 am, I get up.

And I write. And Honey, our hamster, sometimes keeps me company. (We’re creatures of the night.) 😉

Honey the hamster. She’s named Honey because she never bites and is very sweet.

Good Morning,

J.

Don’t Blink – You’ll Miss the Legos and Tinker Toys

That Kenny Chesney song, Don’t Blink, always makes me cry. I always change the station if I hear it on the radio.

From the time I was a little girl, I remember my dad would tell me how much he loved me. And I would say it back. And then he would say, “Janellen, I know you love me, but parents love their children in a way that’s different than any other kind of love. Someday…someday you’ll have your own kids, and you’ll understand.”

I wish he had lived to see me become a mom. I would tell him, now, “I get it, Dad. You were so right. Now I understand that love.”

Love is the most powerful force on the planet. Parental love is the most visceral.

I love hearing the words, “Wanna play,” come from my son. Sometimes I’m flat exhausted, sometimes there are dishes to be unloaded from the dishwasher, clothes to be folded, work to be done.

There will be a day when those words don’t come anymore. With our son, I believe that he’ll always love us and want to be with us, but in the natural and healthy course of life, other things will occupy him. And that’s okay.

So when I am unloading the dishwasher, I say, “Yes,” and he’ll wait for me to finish, but more recently, I’ve started to give him little jobs, a plastic bowl, wooden spoons to put away. If I’m working, he knows I need to finish, and he quietly plays in the same room. But then we play!

I believe it’s the important matters that should take precedence over the urgent. What do I mean? Thanks to my college minister, Bill Potts, I have always held this concept close to my heart. Someone will always be urgently knocking at your door, calling your phone, etc. And those urgent things will get done. However, your parents will also call. Your spouse will need to talk. Your child will want to play catch in the back yard, or need help with homework. Those are the important things because those are your relationships – your family. Those are the moments, where if you blink, you’ll miss them. And I think that is what that song is about with raising children: don’t blink. It’s a word of caution: don’t miss the important stuff. Building legos or playing dolls with your kid, especially when invited.

Mac said he was “working to get more money to buy a bunny and a kitten.” When we’re on our computers, we are working, so that’s his concept of earning, right now.

My mom always said, having a boy is finding tinker toys in your potpourri. There will be a day when the potpourri is perfect. When you don’t step on a stray LEGO. And you’ll miss it. So, don’t blink. Don’t miss the important things.