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October 31, 2013

Link-up Halloween Costume Ideas (Past & Present)

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Little Red Riding Hood Theme
I love when for Halloween our whole family is matching. This is the theme I wanted to go with this year, but with potty training and time I used a lot more of what I had on hand without such a cohesive theme. I thought about having Ty be a princess and that Heber could be Starburst Man or a Sailor.

They had this cute photo background setup so we clicked one of the kiddos.

Cinderella Costume the bodice was made by modifying "E&E's ruffle dress (affiliate link).

The kids were big fans of the carnival.

Ryder's Contractor Apron was made by Momma Shaffer last Christmas and was one of the 3 costumes he had as possibilities this year (Leaf Monster and Cracker Jack Suit were the other two).

I guess I'll have to do Little Red Riding Hood another year because it seemed more useful to make Ty a princess dress. About 3 weeks ago I was given some sky blue knit that I was unsure how to use it, except to make a Cinderella dress. I also had some white shiny slip fabric on hand from when I got married. Yay, Ty's dress was another free project.
Boston's Jean Jacket and Dress came Momma Shaffer she picked it from a thrift store bag sale. After Scary saw it she decided that it would be fine with her costume not being homemade.

Heber in his store bought Horse Costume

The thing I've learned from my sisters is that if you have to make do or get creative, just do what works. Halloween will probably be a whole lot more enjoyable if you're rested and healthy. Also if you know of any local trunk or treating, this is safe and simple. Then make the actual night of full of friends and family fun. I've come to the conclusion that Halloween can be as complicated or as simple as you want it.

Jo's Family: Rogue is a princess, Superman is a Knight (he made it himself), Flash is Mr. Incredible, Ironman is Spiderman, and Hulk (not pictured) was a skeleton.
Here's some flashbacks from years past.

Goldilocks and The 3 Bears
Ty's Goldilocks dress was actually a 2nd birthday present from my mom that she made using the dress she wore on her wedding day (not her wedding dress, but her wedding luncheon dress). Heber was a baby bear using Ryder's bear costume from his first year. Using cheap fleece throws from Walmart, I made Samson a bear Costume and me a bear sweatshirt. Besides Samson's bear costume, it was pretty simple.

The Pink Panther and the Baby Bear
Incognito Themed: Pink Panther, Carmen Sandiego, Big Foot, Where's Waldo
Scary had a lot of fun with her costumes. Since Ryder wanted to be a leaf monster she just ran with it. They all ended up being people in hiding. The pink panther suit was made from pink fleece and a self drafted pattern. She even did cute little contrasted pink hard pads on the feet. To be Carmen Sandiego (doesn't she have the perfect hair for it) Scary used a red coat from mom and a pink thrift store straw hat she spray painted red. Later we added most of a fat quarter to get the yellow band. Ryder wore his leaf monster suit from his birthday and switched the name to Big Foot. Using the remainder of the red spray paint, Scary took a white long sleeve shirt and made stripes out of masking tape then sprayed the shirt. All Waldo needed was a red and white hat (using a red hat on hand and some scraps of white knit cut up to make a pom-pom on top.

Pumpkin Baby- this is what happens when I don't do laundry for a while. Lol.

Leprechaun and Rainbow Lady
If you're wanting to incorporate multiple mischievous holidays into one you could always go St. Patrick's Day Themed.

My freshman year of college I was Albert Einstein
I like Physics enough that one year I got a $5 blazer and tie from a thrift store and dressed up like the incredible genius Albert Einstein. Luckily with my crazy curly hair and experience doing stage makeup, it wasn't very hard. I used some white hair spray color to give the gray tints.

Boise State Bronco Fans
 One year I couldn't come up with a good family theme and I couldn't choose between the horse costume or the cheerleading costume so I did both. Ty was a Broncos Mascot Cheerleader. Samson and I were Boise State fans. I made a blue and orange tulle tutu and we sprayed Samson's hair orange and blue (I'm pretty sure we still have most of the spray left).

A Herd of Cows

This summer we went to Dress like a Cow customer appreciation day at Chic-fil-A. It took about 20 minutes to transform the group into cows. A herd of cows would be a fun family costume idea.

Here is a flash back way into yester year when Momma Shaffer made our Halloween costumes. I remember that we could be what ever we wanted for the school celebration but the requirement for night time trick or treating in elementary is that you had to be able to fit a snowsuit under it.
Here we are in the gas station/c-store in our very warm Halloween costumes. Top: Bubba, Jo Bottom: Al & Scary
I can't wait to see what you did for Halloween. Share your link ups below.

October 29, 2013

Quick tip Tuesday: Saving money and my morning sanity on Sack Lunches for school

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I have 3 children to get up, get dressed, get fed, get backpacks, and get out the door- all while trying to remain calm and show them love, so they can have a good day at school.  I don't know why this sometimes proves difficult, but it does.
Ideally our morning starts at 6 am, with a 30 minute run.  This is to help the boys consentrate at school and get their blood flowing.  Then we get every body together for our morning devotional and family prayers.  At about 7 the kids get ready for school and I make a quick breakfast.  By 7:15 we are eating.  By 7:45 we are getting shoes, backpacks, teeth brushed, hair combed, kisses.  At 8:00 we should be out in the car and headed to school.
Notice I said "IDEALLY".  Yeah, it rarely looks like that.  But, it is good to have a goal, right?
All of that said, Last week, I got caught empty handed.  I was getting my superheros ready for school, when I realized we had no bread, peanut butter, apples, or carrots- for lunches.  Which means, I had to cough up $12 for their school lunches.  That is right! $4 a piece.  Well, I tell you, that hurt a little- since our weekly budget is $100.  That could not happen again!  Between tight budgets and a busy morning routine, I decided to plan ahead.
First, I bought 5 loaves of bread=$4.70.  Ingredients for rice krispy treats=$3.98.  Ingredients for cookies = $3.80. Corn chips= $2.  Pop corn kernals= $1.75.  3 16 oz jars of peanut butter=$9.50.  I pulled 5 8 oz. jars of apricot jam out of the freezer =$4.00.
I also made sure I had tons of sandwich bags on hand about 200-$4.00.
So add it up, the total cost going in to the lunches is $33.68.  Now, that seems like a lot, unless of course you compare it to school lunches.  Then you recognize that it is actually only less than three days of hot lunch for three kids.
OK, here is what you do next.  You have each superhero make an entire loaf of sandwiches by themselves.  That is 11 sandwiches per loaf.  There are a couple tips here.  Like peanut butter both sides, and then spread the jelly- 1 tsp over the peanut butter.  That keeps the jelly from sogging the bread.  Make sandwiches along side of them, to keep them focussed and it helps to manage the mess.  Next tip- pre-bag each sandwich, then put each sandwich bag in the the original loaf bag from the store.  Seal it and put it in the deep freeze.  Now that you have all 5 loaves made into sandwiches, and frozen, you can feel your first sense of accomplishment.  55 sandwiches that is 18 days of school lunch sandwiches, prepped and ready.  Great job!  Take a break, wash the table, sweep the floor, and get ready for more crazy.

Now make rice krispy treats.  flatten them out in a giant roll pan.  cut them.  You can get about 30 treats.  bag them and freeze them.
Now make popcorn.  35 servings is about $1.75.  Bag them.   Throw them in a grocery bag and put them in the deep freeze.
1 bag of Corn chips.  Put a hand ful in each sandwich bag.  You can get 20.  Throw the bags in the freezer.
Make the cookies.  The smaller you make them, the more cookies you get.  I can fit these into the snack bags.  1 made 4 dozen.  48 cookies.   bag 'em, bag 'em, freeze 'em.

The reason all of this is going in the deep freeze is A) out of sight out of mind B) it stays fresh C) there is room D) all of the above!
I also pre-peel about 5 lbs. of carrots.  My kids like the big carrots.  So I peel them, cut them in thirds, add some water to a sandwich bag, put them in the bag, and throw them in the crisper.
I also keep apples on hand.  Usually about 15 lbs. of apples lasts us a week.
Now the kids pull a sandwich, chips or popcorn, cookie or rise krispy treat, out of the freezer.  Then they go in the house and get an apple or carrots.  And they are done.  They love the choices.  I love that there is no mess and no stress.
So, if we tally the food, minus the fresh stuff, we can make 55 lunches, with some left over treats for about $.60 a lunch.  Again the total is $33.68 or you can purchase 55 hot lunches for $220.  That is a savings of $186.52 just over 18 days worth of lunches.  That is money you can take to the bank!
Any way, hope you enjoyed this motivator!
with love,

October 25, 2013

I still don't know what to do! Against Bullying Series:Part 1

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When my sisters, brother, and I were younger, we got picked on quite a bit.  Little things, like spitting in our hair, or food, or pulling down our pants, or calling us names.

This is Bubba, Jo, and Scary-we were pretty cool!
 Oh the names.  Like warthog, I hated to be called warthog!  But, when your hands and arms have warts on them, what can you do, you must be a warthog.  I also have a pretty rare genetic mutation, that makes it so I have white spots on my legs, and a white streak in my hair.  The white streak in my hair made me look, to an elementary child, like a skunk.  So, skunk was a common nickname.  And the white spots on my legs made people follow me around in stores and stare, or in swimming lessons, kids sort of treated me like a leper.  


Don't I look like a fat, skunky warthog?  No?, that is what I thought then.  My hair is short in this
picture, because a girl decided to be my friend one day, in second grade, if I didn't have a white streak,  so we took scissors to the bathroom at school and tried to cut it off.   It looked so bad, she changed her mind. 

I didn't really know what to do about it.  I found out quickly that if you cried or complained to a teacher or your parent, the next time they bullied, it would be much much worse.  What can you do?  Its hard to laugh.  And, walking away doesn't really work, because they follow you- until they see you crying, and then they tease about that.
If no one will swing on the swing you sat on or use the same toilet stall, because they don't want to get warts, or let you slide on the slide, because they would get your germs, how can they play "ring around the Rosie", or tag with you?  Pretty soon everything you come to accept as normal and good starts to be questioned.  Are you normal, are you good, are home sewn clothes normal, are they good, is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich normal and good when everyone else eats hot lunch,  is your hair normal, is being taller than all of the other girls normal, is turning the other cheek normal?  And, then, at least for me, it turned into a huge cycle of self loathing.  Would I ever be a short girl, or a skinny girl?  Would anyone ever be brave enough to be my friend?
Aren't my parents so cool?!
There were several children who made my elementary years a nightmare.  I am sure they did for others too, but I couldn't see others pain, past my own.  I am sure that is why the kids who weren't bullies didn't step in and help-they didn't want to be the next target of ridicule.
Jo, Al, and Scary.  Scary was still bullied in to highschool.  By the time we took this picture I was dating my husband, in college. 
Even though writing this, makes me sad, for that little lonely girl, I am not her anymore.  My husband and children love me.  I have friends that I am still amazed, like me, for me!  And, besides the occasional moment of "not feeling good enough", I am a happy, hard working, goal oriented, spiritual, beautiful person.  So, why bring up these childhood memories?  Because of what happened today.
Today my sweet Hulk got up at 6 am to make pizza for a school market day.  While we were making the pizza's, he told me that maybe no one would buy them, because one of the girls at school told everyone they would be gross.  I told him that was OK, because then he could bring them all home and we could eat them. We laughed about it, and he seemed fine.  He made a couple of signs, and a table cloth, and three pizzas.  He wore an apron, and he was ready for business.  He kept telling me, "it doesn't matter what happens at school today, because I had the best time making pizzas with you mom!"

So, we load the car, and all of the kids and go to school.  Then, I spot the mean girl.  She is standing there at the door of the school, hands on her hips, and snotty expression on her face, entourage in toe.  "So, what did you bring for market day?" she snarls.  "Pizza"!  He says, with the excitement that hard work produces.  "EEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWW Sick Gross Pizza!  That is going to be sooo disgusting since you made it with your!"
  Do you know what I wanted to do?  I really wanted to just punch her in the nose.  All of those old bullied emotions came flooding back.  Then I wanted to pick up my little boy and his pizzas and bring him home for the most fun pizza party he had ever had.  He still had a smile on his face and he walked past her like a champ.  He put his stuff away, and he was so excited.  I, on the other hand, got in my car and sulked all of the way home.  Then I called my sisters, and we talked about bullying.  We talked about some of the oger bullies that messed with us when we were kids, and how we have made peace with them.   They told me all about the bullying drama in the blog sphere right now.  We talked about how sad it was, and even to this day, we still don't know really what to do.
So, I am asking for ideas. What do you do when your kids bully or are bullied?  What do you do when adults bully adults, or adults bully kids?   I still don't know what to do!
with love,
October 23, 2013

Embroidery is a Bad Word...

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So as usual life is crazy for the Shaffer Sisters. This week Jo finished her final shopping list for her home birth (in about two weeks). Scary and I are going hardcore and trying to potty train the little ones. Let me tell you it is an endurance race for an unknown length of time (that's probably what makes it the hardest). We will have a series to come with potty training tips and stories.
So today as I was talking to Scary about the Bumble Bee Dress she is working on, Ryder overheard the conversation and decided to inject.  Lately Ryder (4 years-old) has been correcting all of us if we say words like stupid, dumb, hate, or fat (even if you're talking about the food group) by saying, "Don't say (fill in the blank)." This isn't the worst thing until you hear this following almost every statement you make. 
So back to today, Scary was telling me about the embroidery she was planning for the dress. As we were talking I heard Ryder over the phone say, "Don't say embroidery. Embroidery is a bad word." Despite our attempts to tell him it wasn't bad we couldn't convince him. The poor kid is going to grow up with this misconception for the rest of his life.

Hope you enjoyed the little blurp from our life.
With Love,
October 21, 2013

No Stress Guide Family Picture Success {Family Photo Stitched w/ Love}

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Check out our Group Pinterest Board for Family Photo Ideas. If you would like to be added as a contributor like the board and then send us an e-mail at shaffer dot sisters at gmail dot com, with your Pinterest Url and we will add you to the board.

Today, I was supposed to be sharing my Family Photo Stitched with Love. But it seems like October has been the month of colds and fatigue at our house. Just as we thought we were recovered from one cold another one came knocking. I tried to think how I could contribute without having the most groggy looking family photo's ever. Then I realized that I could contribute by sharing some life experience. Before I started blogging I would take family and children's photos as a side hobby. I learned a lot from the experience, #1 that I don't have the backbone or courage to be a photographer for a living or even a paid hobby.
The other things I learned will serve as a good guide for you to get great photos as you prepare for your photo shoot, whether that be with a neighbor/friend/family member or professional.
1. Make sure that you and your children can be comfortable around the photographer.
Ty at a few weeks old. I was able to take her pictures on the blanket that Al worked on for the month before she came. (Which she has never shared on the blog, leave a comment below if you want to see it. Maybe we can peer pressure her into finally sharing it).
Often times for family/children photography it requires someone who can entertain the kids/babies for long enough that you get a few good shots. It is always nice for me when my photographer doesn't find themselves above doing a few silly things behind the camera or someone who has a flexible creative vision that can keep up with the kids are doing. If you are looking for candid photos make sure an mention this to your photographer (I think that most outdoor photographers will be relieved that you said this).
I had Richard (the Dad) stand right behind me and make faces. I had a flashing light on my head to keep their attention and we were able to get such a sweet photo.
2.  Over plan for your photo shoot. This doesn't mean that you should come with 100 poses you found on Pinterest. But prepare for the emergencies or schedule conflicts that might come about from working with littles, if pictures are during dinner make sure you feed your kid before and bring a few snacks to keep them going. This might mean packing an extra shirt or pair of pants for your kiddos if they fall into something. This also means that you should plan on photo prep taking longer than you anticipated, which leads me to point 3.
This little Toddler was so interested in the sand on the sand volleyball court that we were able to get a few sweet pictures of him in the sand playing. It ended up being a perfect expression of the age and stage he was at and it kept him happy for the shoot.
This mom had twins so she opted to do an individual photo shoot. We pulled a little chair out from her house and took pictures in the trees near her house. It was a low pressure situation that yielded a lot of great shots out of both kids.
 3. BE ON TIME!!! This one is super important because it shows respect for your photographer. If you are paying someone, being late might cost you money big. Most photographers charge for the time they are there, so if you are late you might lose your full investment or it might cost you double.  If you are having a friend or family member doing it, it might cost you your relationship. Respect that the individual taking your picture agreed on a time because it was best for lighting and/or schedule.
4. Relax. Our kids often feed off our energy. So if you are feeling nervous or stressed try and take a few deep breaths and enjoy yourself. If you relax you will be so much happier with your results.
McKenna & Richard were so relaxed even though there little girl was so tiny she had little head control and all there little boy wanted to do was eat apples. It really helped us get some good photos.
5. Look for a color scheme in the clothes you already own. Once you start looking through your families wardrobe, I bet you will be surprised how much you have that coordinates without spending a dime. I shop for most of our family's clothes so most of them match in some way.
These were all clothes we had on hand, which was nice because I was about 25 weeks pregnant at this point so shopping for something special for a photoshoot could have been an unnecessary expense.  (this photo was taken by McKenna)
6. Research a few poses that you would like to do. Using Pinterest you can find a few poses that you like and if you find a place in the photo shoot to use them pull them out of your sleeve. When McKenna took our pictures I knew it would be a little difficult to keep track of Ryder so I was glad I was prepared with this pose from Pinterest, when he kept running away we applied it in our own way. The picture captured our stage of life perfectly. Ryder was such an active toddler and I felt like I spent my whole pregnancy chasing him around and then packing him back.
via Pinterest
I read somewhere a few years back that when you are doing that perfect family photo it is nice to have no more than two levels and if you can lesson the disparity in size then it is more likely that everyone's face will be in focus.  This is where sitting poses can be really good for families with young children. Or even ones on the ground or blanket.
This is from Al's Family Photo Stitched with Love post.

7. Don't be disappointed if not every picture is a winner.  I figure in a 15 to 20 minute session I should be able to take about 300 shots. Out of those 300, 50 and sometimes as many as 100 of them might not total looser shots because of someone running away, eyes were closed, etc. Then you will probably have 20 out of the 200 that you love. Doesn't seem like a really high percentage, but remember it is 20 more than you had before and what would you really do with 300 pictures. 
This photo is from a trip that we took with Slim Jim's dad and brother to downtown Salt Lake. The whole time Ryder didn't want me to take his pictures, and every time he would hear a click he would run away or come yell in my face, "No pictures." At the time I was a little annoyed but now when I look through the pictures I just smile. And one day I will tell him the stories.
This will be our final installment of a Family Photo Stitched with Love. Though I do hope that in the coming month to have a nice family picture taken for my family at which point I will share it with you and show some fun crafts that you can do with your family photos. Feel free to add your photos to the Flickr group or tag them on instagram with the hashtag #familyphotostitchedwithlove.

With Love,
October 8: Bethany from I Married Superman
October 9: Jo from Shaffer Sisters
October 10: April from Modern Homemade
October 11: Al from Shaffer Sisters
October 14: RaeAnna from Sewing Mama RaeAnna
October 15: Jenn from A Jennuine Life
October 16: Heather from Feathers Flight
October 17: Olga from Kid Approved
October 18: Rebecca from Rock the Stitch
October 21: Scary from Shaffer Sisters
October 18, 2013

Rock the Stitch {Family Photo Stitched w/ Love}

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Today we have Rebecca from Rock the Stitch. I just adore her blog and her style. Her creations for her older boys have so much character and are right on trend without playing it safe. I really hope one day that I can make stuff for Ryder that is half as cool as what Rebecca makes for her guys. Head over to see her darling photos and her talented creations.
To see what I mean check out a few of her awesome posts:
A free tutorial and pattern for this Knock Off Creation
How cool is Study Hall Jacket
Her Cardigans for Selfish Sewing Week.

We are going to be finishing up this series on Monday and then we have some stuff to show you. Can't wait to tell you about it.
October 17, 2013

Kid Approved's {Family Photo Stitched w/ Love)

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Today we get to be graced with the opportunity to introduce you to Olga from Kid Approved. She is incredibly talented and creative. Her style often uses bold fabrics with fun details with a refreshing European style to it. To top it off, she does many up-cycled projects. She's so good at taking something unwanted and unloved and turning it into something incredible.
Make sure that besides stopping by to see the rest of her pictures, that you navigate through her blog. I'm sure you will impressed by her style and intrigued by her stories. As I was looking back through her blog I was reminded of her 80s Project Sewn dress. What a stunning dress and an incredible story. I've heard so much of Russian propaganda from that time, but never straight from someone that has experienced it.
I just can't get over this incredible dress that gives an incredible feminine curve. I love dresses like these. I have never made anything so perfect  for myself.
I think that these Vroom Vroom pants embody childhood, but especially what it's like to be a little boy and be sure that everything makes a vroom sound. I'm definitely going to be making some for my son for Christmas!
I instantly fell in love with this oh so precious vintage pillowcase skirt and will keep my eyes peeled next time I go to a thrift store.
We are sad that the last couple of weeks have gone by so fast (haven't the pictures been so fun?) but we still have a few contributions left to go so stick with us.
With Love,
October 8: Bethany from I Married Superman
October 9: Jo from Shaffer Sisters
October 10: April from Modern Homemade
October 11: Al from Shaffer Sisters
October 14: RaeAnna from Sewing Mama RaeAnna
October 15: Jenn from A Jennuine Life
October 16: Heather from Feathers Flight
October 17: Olga from Kid Approved
October 18: Rebecca from Rock the Stitch
October 21: Scary from Shaffer Sisters
October 22: Highlights from the Flickr Group
October 16, 2013

Feather's Flights {Family Photo Stitched w/ Love}

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Today we have the talented Heather from Feathers Flights. I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting together with Heather in real life and she is a doll. She is one of those people that you spend a couple of hours with and it seems like it has been only a few minutes. She is so knowledgeable in everything sewing and pattern design (she graduated in Clothing Construction). She is has a warm personality and kind smile. She tall like me, so it was pretty exciting walking with her and actually seeing eye to eye.
When you check out her pictures today, make sure and check out the rest of her blog. She is so inspiring! I love the stuff she makes for herself (like I want to snatch it and put it in my wardrobe, but sadly she is so skinny so that isn't going to work) and for her little guy, she even has sewn for her husband! Lucky for her readers she is having a girl, so every post will be something that I could use for any of my family members.
This is a beautiful bereavement gown she made for a friend. I bawled the 5 times I read this post, after 5 times I stopped reading it.
I love this high low chiffon top that she made as shirt-skirt combo or separates. This is one of the shirts that I would take from her if only size permitted.
I feel like her instructions for making a sewing pattern from a favorite tee is one of the best tutorials I have see out there. And she has made some killer dresses and shirts from her pattern pieces. Again more stuff I would take from her if possible.
I can't believe how quick these posts are going. It has been so fun to have new friends here, I wish we could keep doing this forever, but we do have a few more left so please come back and check those out.
With Love, Scary
October 8: Bethany from I Married Superman
October 9: Jo from Shaffer Sisters
October 10: April from Modern Homemade
October 11: Al from Shaffer Sisters
October 14: RaeAnna from Sewing Mama RaeAnna
October 15: Jenn from A Jennuine Life
October 16: Heather from Feathers Flight
October 17: Olga from Kid Approved
October 18: Rebecca from Rock the Stitch
October 21: Scary from Shaffer Sisters
October 22: Highlights from the Flickr Group

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