Saturday, December 12, 2015

Oh, Internet... {83}

*gratuitous adorable toddler photo*
Aaaaaand we survived another week!  Every year I say I'm going to buy Christmas presents before Advent even starts, and every year I fail miserably.  I checked a few more off my list this week, but this weekend I plan to get the rest done- to include the ones I'm making myself.  Wish me luck!

The internet was way more productive than me this week.  Take a look!

Rabia at The Lieber Family (hey girl, I see you!) talked about creating a family time capsule- such a cool idea!

I wish Kendra at Catholic All Year would throw a Pride and Prejudice birthday party for me!

I love the look of this disco ball wreath from A Beautiful Mess!

Mary at Better Than Eden shared a beautiful reflection on how motherhood is a muscle.

Leslie at Life in Every Limb talked about That Time I Did Not Advent Right and I identified with every single word.

Along similar lines, Molly Makes Do reminded us that a little goes a long way when it comes to Advent.

Tacy at Picture a Skyline talked about The Difference Between Proselytizing and Witnessing- an important distinction to remember in an era of intense political arguments.

What awesome things happened on your internet this week?

Much love,
The Geeks

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Fashion Adventures: Sweater Skirt

So remember that time I turned an old dress into a skirt for Chief?  Well, I did it again, only this time I used an old green sweater.  Once again I used this tutorial from Make It and Love It, only I also added a bit of lace trim to the hem just to boost the cuteness factor.

Last time, she wasn't so eager to pose for pictures.  This time, she saw me taking pictures of those pumpkin pie brownies and came up to me and said "Take a picture me!"  So we went out into the backyard because it might be December, but don't tell the weather that, and she smiled and waved for the camera.  She wanted to dictate where she would stand and how she would pose, and fashion bloggers, take note- this little girl can strike a pose like the best of them!  Enjoy the results of our photoshoot!

Shirt: Target
Skirt: Handmade
Stockings: Target
Boots: Shoe Station

Have you sewn anything for your little one lately?

Much love,
The Geeks

Monday, December 7, 2015

Culinary Adventures: Pumpkin Pie Brownies

As those of you who follow me on Instagram know, when I made cupcakes for Chief's class for her birthday, I totally used boxed cake mix and pre-made frosting because as much as I love baking from scratch, ain't nobody got time for that on a Monday night.  But you see, when I purchased said boxed cake mix from the grocery store, the grocery store was having a sale...4 boxes for some amount which was less than what 4 boxes would normally cost, and I figured, "Sure!  We need 4 boxes of cake mix!  Cake for everyone!"

Box number 1 became the Sesame Street cupcakes.  The rest sat there for almost a month in the pantry, staring down at me from the baking shelf every time I opened the door as if to say, "So, about dem cakes..."

Well, Saturday night, we were invited to a pre-Christmas party- "we" as in all three of us, so we were actually able to attend!  But because our dear friends didn't know what they were getting themselves into, inviting a 2-year-old to their pristine apartment for an event that would extend past her bedtime, I figured I should bring something tasty.

Enter: box number 2 of cake mix.

I just so happened to have a can of pumpkin on my shelf, as well, because this is the time of year when one buys canned pumpkin with no concrete plan for it because it's winter time, you'll figure something out, and I had seen pumpkin brownies on Pinterest, though I never actually read the recipe, so I figured hey, I should give it a shot.

I'm not sure if this is anything like that other recipe, but if you'd like some cake-like brownies that have what is essentially pumpkin pie filling sandwiched in the center, this is what you're looking for.

*personal photo*
Pumpkin Pie Brownies

For the brownie batter:
-1 box chocolate cake mix (I used a brand that "has pudding in the mix!")
-1/2 C vegetable oil
-2 Tbsp water
-2 eggs

For the pumpkin pie filling:
-1 C pumpkin puree (NOT canned pumpkin pie filling)
-2 Tbsp sugar
-1 egg
-1 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

-Preheat oven to 325F (you might want it hotter if you're not using a dark/nonstick pan).  Line a square brownie baking dish with parchment paper, letting just a little bit peek out over the sides to make cleanup easier!

-Combine all of the brownie ingredients in one bowl and all of the pumpkin ingredients in another.  The brownie batter will be thick; you can add up to 1 C of water if you'd like the resulting brownies to be more fudge-like and less cake-like, but I really wanted something to stand up to the moistness of the pumpkin.

-Spread about 3/4 of the brownie mixture in the bottom of the pan.  Spread the pumpkin mixture evenly on top.  Spread the rest of the brownie mixture over the top in as even a layer as possible.  (I was going for a literal sandwich effect here, but as you can see, my layers were not very even.  It's cool- they're rustic.)

-Bake for 45-47 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Set the pan on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes, then lift the brownies out of the pan using the overhanging parchment paper and cool completely on the wire rack.  Then slice and enjoy!

What non-cake desserts do you like to make with boxed cake mix?

Much love,
The Geeks

Friday, November 27, 2015

Oh, Internet... {82}

Well, we survived Thanksgiving.  *phew*  So now it's time to get ready for Advent!

The ladies at Catholic Sistas are hosting an Advent Instagram challenge, and I plan to play along!  You should join in, too!

Here's some other awesome things happening on the internet this week:

Shayla at Northern Exposure celebrated her little girl's second birthday with a beautiful reflection on the past two years.

I love every way Jamie at Petite Panoply styled this awesome burgundy faux leather jacket- probably because it's such an amazing color with her hair.

"I firmly believe that a troubled world is all the more reason to keep having babies. They bring our family so much joy."  Catholic All Year shared her thoughts on having children in a scary, chaotic world.

The "war" we should be concerned about during the holiday season is the one on Advent- it's not Christmas yet!!  Read more on The Huff Post Blog.

The Whitford Life shared this really helpful guide to Advent for beginners.

Mary at Better Than Eden shared a free printable Catholic New Year's Resolutions guide that I'm definitely going to use!  (Also- I can't believe it's almost 2016!!)

What awesomeness is happening on your internet?

Much love,
The Geeks

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Holidays

cranberry sauce from last Thanksgiving // *personal photo*
If you wish me a "happy holidays" today, I won't be offended.  It's the day before Thanksgiving today, but Thanksgiving is really only celebrated on the one day, not an entire liturgical season, so I can see why you wouldn't want to wish me a "happy Thanksgiving" today.

Advent starts on Sunday, but there's not really a common joyful greeting for the Advent season.  I guess you could say "blessed Advent," though it doesn't quite roll off the tongue, and that would be an appropriate, specific greeting starting on Sunday, but not today, so I can see why you wouldn't want to wish me a "blessed Advent" today.

The Christmas season starts on December 25 and lasts clear on through the end of January, during which I will greet everyone I meet with a "Merry Christmas!" I don't say this to try to force my religion on you or because I'm making an assumption about which deity you do or do not worship, but rather because for me, it's the Christmas season, and I'm feeling merry, and I want you to feel merry, too.  I could say "Merry Wednesday" to you today because it's Wednesday, whether you recognize it as such or not, and I'd like you to have a merry day.  If you're Jewish, and you choose to wish me a "Happy Hannukah!" during that season, I won't assume you're trying to force your Jewishness on me or suggest that Judaism is the only acceptable holiday.  Rather, I'll take the greeting for what it is- an expression of the joy you feel at that time and your wish for me to feel that joy, too.  But regardless of what the department stores and radio stations want us to think, today, the day before Thanksgiving, is not Christmas.  Christmas doesn't start until, well, Christmas, so I can see why you wouldn't want to wish me a "Merry Christmas" today.

The end of the calendar year- from the beginning of November through early January- is generally recognized as "the holiday season" in America because there are an awful lot of holidays that fall during that time.  Rather than worry about what specific holiday falls on any given day, it's become common to greet each other wish "happy holidays" to convey the general joyfulness felt when the weather starts to get cold and families get back together again to eat ridiculously large meals.  And yes, there are some people who do not celebrate any of the religious holidays this time of year, but they still recognize that this is a season of holidays that gives even their cold little atheist hearts a warm feeling, so they default to "happy holidays" as a way of wishing others well.  It's not meant to be offensive, it's not meant to suggest that whatever specific holiday you are celebrating is less important than any of the others- on the contrary, this greeting recognizes that there are holy days even if they themselves don't feel that way.

So here's the deal- if you're happy today, and if today happens to fall during a specific season, and you want to offer me that seasonally appropriate greeting- I won't be offended!  And I'll respond in kind with my seasonally appropriate greeting (which, today, would probably just be "happy holidays" if we're being honest here.). And if you're happy today and you do not greet me with "Merry Christmas," I will not assume that you are trying to offend me or subvert my religious beliefs- because you know what?  It's not even Christmas yet.  And if it's December 23rd I probably won't say Merry Christmas to you quite yet- because it's not Christmas yet then, either.  But even if, on December 25th, you choose to say "happy holidays" to me, I will smile and be thankful for the greeting, because that is indeed a happy day, and a holy day, too, so you've gotten it right, whether you meant to or not, and I'll respond with "Merry Christmas" because it's Christmas, even if you don't celebrate it, and I want to spread some merriment back to you in return.

Is there a real threat to religious liberty in this country at this time? Yes, there is.  But red cups and department store cashier greetings are not the battlegrounds worth dying on, because the people offering them to you are not the ones fighting you.  So let's all do our part to spread joy this Christmas season- when the season actually starts- by not pitching fits about things that don't matter.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Bookish Adventures: The Martian

*personal photo*
I'm sure you've all seen the movie by now- we haven't, because babysitters are expensive and difficult to come by- and even if you have, you should totally read this book.

The Martian is so incredibly real that there's basically no need to suspend disbelief at all (although apparently the storm that starts the whole adventure is impossible) because Andy Weir really, really did his homework.  But it's not just the fact that this book is more science than fiction that makes it so gripping- our protagonist, Mark Watney, is so well-developed and so gosh-darn likeable that you desperately want to see him succeed, and you're on the edge of your seat the entire time, feverishly biting your nails as if there really were an American astronaut stranded on Mars that we're all trying to rescue.

Some have complained that it's difficult to dive in to the story because there is too much science, but I don't think that's a valid complaint.  No, Mark is writing his log entries with the knowledge that regular people will read it one day- people who are not rocket scientists- so he clearly and patiently describes the reasons behind the pieces of his plan without actually busting out the equations.  If there's anything that might make this book difficult to get into, it might be those log entries themselves- initially, the narration is entirely first person in the form of the mission log Watney is using to record what happened, how he survived, and how he plans to get back home.  These log entries are how we get to know him, and he becomes an incredibly well-developed character who is charming, obviously incredibly intelligent, and a master of dark humor- the quality that keeps his spirit alive against the odds.  But I did worry that this would be the entire book, and that these log entries would get a little old; I didn't want to end up resenting this character I'd fallen in love with because I was tired of being stuck in his head.  Never fear- the narrative style changes before you get a chance to get bored with it, as third person narration and actual dialogue intersperse themselves among the log entries.  In retrospect, that long, unbroken stretch  of log entries is incredibly important to set the tone and create the initial suspense- it's just you and Watney, thus reinforcing that our stranded astronaut is utterly and completely alone, with no other characters in sight, not even a disembodied narrator.  It's incredibly effective from both a character-building and plot-driving standpoint.

All in all, I'm glad I had a chance to read the book first, though I'm sure the movie is just as incredible as the critics have said.  If you're looking for a book to keep you company on your holiday vacation, The Martian is a good one!  (It's especially poignant for Thanksgiving- you'll certainly feel thankful to be surrounded by friends and loved ones, and for a meal consisting of more than just potatoes and protein packs!)

Have you read The Martian?  What did you think?  What books have you read lately that you'd recommend?

Much love,
The Geeks

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Oh, Internet... {81}

Today I get to indulge in one of my favorite activities: packing for a road trip.

Because tomorrow- we road trip!

Well, tomorrow night.  Really late tomorrow night.  We're going to put on jammies, stay up past bedtime, and then get in the car and drive and drive and drive (and hopefully someone will sleep and sleep and sleep for a good percentage of it).

So while I pack, you should read!  Specifically, read these awesome things:

Breenah at By Breenah wants to take Jim Gaffigan out to dinner.  (Me too!)

What It's Like to Play for Legendary Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer- we're gonna miss you, Frank.

"You don't want him using you as a pacifier, do you?  Well, yeah.  Kinda I do."  Check out this beautiful reflection on Better than Eden.

Catholic All Year shared How to Advent.  We're working hard to make sure Advent and Christmas are two distinct seasons in our house.

What awesomeness happened on your internet this week?

Much love,
The Geeks

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Last Thankgsiving

first birthday party, thanksgiving 2014 // *personal photo*
Last Thanksgiving, we hosted aaaaaaaaaaall of our family here for a big party for this little goober's first birthday.  This year, we will again be surrounded by the beach!  We're so excited :)

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Much love,
The Geeks

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Oh, Internet... {80}

I realize it's been a while since I did an Oh, Internet... so it's time to rectify that!  Here are some of the most awesome things happening on the internet lately:

Make it and Love it shared a roundup of handmade Christmas gift ideas- time to get started!

Miss Emma at A Pinch of Pixie Dust had the most perfect Hallowe'en costume this year (as always)!

Kendra at Catholic All Year wrote about praying for the dead with children- and how we shouldn't shy away from the topic of death with little ones.

Sterling Jaquith shared five ways to be the peace center of your home- a very timely read for me this week.

Allie at Everyday Adventures shared a beautiful reflection on savoring the simple moments together.

Do you remember the exact moment you discovered you were pregnant?  Daja at The Provision Room does!

Ashley at Between the Linens shared 7 books to read aloud with your spouse.

I'm really getting tired of "the mommy wars".  There's a lot of effort being made to make sure we moms don't feel bad about ourselves if we don't live up to our Pinterest expectations, but now, apparently, it's cool to vilify those moms who are, in fact, mistresses of the domestic arts.  Amy at Motherhood and Miscellany thinks that's ridiculous (and so do I).

Jessica at Little Fiat speculated about why Sherlock Holmes is having a moment right now in pop culture.

What awesomeness happened on your internet the past few weeks?

Much love,
The Geeks

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Currently, Chief is... {2 years}

Two years old.  She's not a baby anymore!  Let's take a look at the past 6 months...

Watching Elmo at 19 months old
Growing at a slower rate now, but she's sooooo tall!  Up until 18 months, she was tracking pretty exactly with the clothing sizes (ie from ages 6-9 months, she was wearing 6-9 month sized clothing) but then by the end of June, she shot up to 2T, and before summer was officially over, she started wearing 3T!  We now have clothing for every season in this size, so hopefully she's still wearing it by the time spring rolls back around!

Swinging at 20 months old
Eating healthy food, thankfully, though if we only ate what she requested, she'd live on a diet of burgers, pizza, and "Chinese food" (which mostly just means rice).  She's not really a picky eater, though on any given day she'll prefer certain things on her plate over others.  When she is acting picky, she's the world's weirdest picky eater- she'll eat all her carrots, for example, and beg for more, and leave the fried chicken untouched.  (Not that I'm complaining- I'm just saying, she's an odd one.)  She knows where the applesauce pouches are stored in the pantry and she can open the door to get to them, so now, before school in the morning, she can bring one to me and ask me to open it.  She's pretty much mastered the use of utensils, though sometimes she gets impatient and digs in with her fingers instead.  She's also mostly mastered drinking from a cup without a lid, but we still encourage the use of straws whenever possible.

Looking at fishies with Nana at 21 months old
Talking pretty much in complete sentences now, and her pronunciation has greatly improved.  She's finally corrected the way she pronounces her own name, and she's slowly starting to get away from speaking in the third person.  She can mostly articulate wants and needs, and while we're not quite at the WHY stage, we are very much at the WHAT stage (though she'll just point and say "That?" to ask what something is).  We're definitely thankful for her ability to communicate, because at least for now, tantrums are few and far between.  (Though we have experienced them, and they are usually caused by being "hangry".)

Learning about airplanes with Daddy at 22 months old
Making facial expressions that look like miniature versions of each of us.  When she smiles, she looks just like me, and when she's concentrating on something or when she's frustrated about something, she looks exactly like her Daddy.

Trick-or-treating at 23 months old
Listening to Elmo, Elmo, and more Elmo.  She'll sing the goofy songs she hears on Sesame Street, whether they're about letters or numbers or the word of the day.  She also sings her nursery rhymes, and she'll try her best to sing the hymns at church (though mostly she'll just sing nonsense words along to the same tune).

Playing in the leaves this weekend
Sleeping all night long, and one nap during the day.  Lately, when she starts to get tired, she'll announce, "No go night-night," before we even have a chance to mention anything.  But bedtime isn't really much of a fight.  She may sit up and play with her stuffed animals for a bit after we put her down, but she'll fall asleep without fussing.  Last night, we gave her a big-girl bed for her birthday.  It's low to the ground and has railings on half of each side, and it still uses her crib mattress.  She was excited about the fact that she could climb in and out on her own, but when it was time to actually go to bed, I think the new-and-different-ness scared her a little bit.  I sat with her and rubbed her back until she decided to lie down, and she slept just fine- and she napped just fine in it this afternoon, too.

cupcakes for the birthday party at daycare
Loving Elmo; books; animals; helping- particularly with housework (though it's debatable how much actual "help" she provides); shopping for shoes (even if she only gets to try them on and we're not buying any that day); babies; hugs; her best friends at school; Elmo; Legos (Mega Bloks and Duplo); pickles; Disney movies featuring one or more animals; Elmo; doing things by herself; carrots; milk; Elmo; counting; identifying numbers on the signs at the store; Elmo; also, Elmo.

Hating standing or sitting still for any reason; the suggestion that it might be bedtime soon; not being allowed to live on a diet of yogurt and applesauce exclusively; not being allowed to talk; turning off Elmo.

And now she's 2!  I can't believe she's so big!

What is your toddler currently in to?

Much love,
The Geeks

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Mother's Day 2015 // *personal photo*
We have a two-year-old now.

She's so smart- smarter than us, even, at times.  And she's so goofy- she might have my smile, but when she wrinkles up her nose and does a silly voice, she's 100% your daughter.  And she's so loving and affectionate- she'll wave at strangers and hug her best friend at the end of the day and kiss pictures of puppies on the computer screen.  And she's so, so beautiful.  This will all be a lethal combination when she's a teenager, I'm sure.  Let's not think about that.

This year was fun.  I've lost track of how many zoos and aquariums we've been to as a family now, each more exciting than the last, and the countless hours we've spent talking about fish and turtles.  And we've watched her learn how to walk and then immediately start running around the house, around the playground, around the grocery store.  We've ridden on airplanes, looked at spaceships, built block towers taller than she was, and watched all the Disney animated classics- with all the excitement and enthusiasm as if we were experiencing them for the first time, because it was her first time.

This year was hard, too.  We had to make difficult decisions.  We've each had to put the family before our individual selves.  We've had to put some dreams on hold.  We've had to bust our respective butts, and we've gotten very little sleep- and not because of the toddler.

But when I look back on this year, what I remember most is the fun.

When I look back on this year, I notice something else, too.

I got really good at being a mom this year, but I didn't necessarily get any better at being a wife.  You've been amazing at both parenthood and marriage this year- you've handled public meltdowns like a champ, you've sat through countless hours of Elmo, you continue to buy me flowers for no reason, you do an unfairly large share of the housework, and you drop whatever it is that you're doing to let me vent to you when I've had an awful day at work (which is all the time).

So here's the deal: for year 4, I promise to step up my game.  Remember how we used to gross out my sisters with the hand-holding and forehead-kissing and sitting-in-laps?  Let's go back to that.  And I should shut up every now and then and let you vent about your day (or, you know, play some Halo as that helps you unwind better than talking about your feelings). And maybe- just maybe- I'll do the dishes more often, too.  I mean, I'm not a miracle worker, so that last one might be pushing it, but I sure can try.

Here's to another super fun year.  I'm sure there will be hard times, we'll probably have to survive more tantrums (the 2-year-old might even be responsible for some), but if you hold my hand the whole time, we can keep laughing through it.

I love you, I love being married to you, I love being a parent with you.  Let's keep learning and growing and getting better at this, together.

photo via One Photo Gallery

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Playing the Villain

*personal photo*

Our Hallowe'en was so much fun.  How about yours?

Much love,
The Geeks

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Crafting Adventures: Treebeard

Yesterday I showed you the costumes that my daughter and I wore to the Maryland Renaissance Festival this year.  But what did Mr. Geek wear?

Why he was Treebeard, of course!

Whenever Mr. Geek convinces Chief to ride around on his shoulders, he always says, "Don't be hasty, little hobbit," which is what Treebeard says to Merry and Pippin as he carries them through the forest.  So I figured it would be perfect for the two of them to dress as Merry and Treebeard!  At first, I thought I'd go as Arwen or something, but then I figured I should pick a character who was with the two of them at some point in the story.  That left Gandalf...or Pippin.  Mr. Geek was okay with wearing a beard, but I wasn't ;)

So how did I make that beard?

Well first, I found a brown zip-up hoodie.  The hoodie was so comfortable and fit him so well that I didn't want to forever tarnish it with tree-pieces (or should I say Ent-pieces), so I knew it had to be something easily removable.

So I decided to just make a beard covered in faux leaves that buttoned on to the hood.  That way, he could unbutton it to eat lunch, and when the Faire was over, all I needed to do was remove the buttons with a seam ripper and it'd be like nothing was ever attached.

The beard was really simple.  I picked up a few fat quarters in various fall colors.  I took the brown and green and cut a vaguely beard-shaped piece out of each, making sure it was wide enough that I could attach it to buttons sewn just on the inside of the hood on both sides.  Then I took the other colors and cut similar beard-shaped pieces that were all a little shorter than the brown and green.  Then I laid everything on top of each other, with the brown on top, and all of the other colors (except the green) slightly farther down than the next, and stitched them all together.

Then I cut a rectangle out of the top portion so Mr. Geek's mouth wouldn't be covered- I left about an inch on the top and on the sides.  Next, I arranged my faux leaves over the beard, including a couple on the "mustache" portion.  Finally, I attached buttons on the inside of the hood and put button holes on the beard so that the beard lined up properly on Mr. Geek's face.  In the words of my toddler- "All done!"

Are you doing any family costumes this year?

Much love,
The Geeks

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Crafting Adventures: A Pair of Hobbits

So I know I promised to share our Ren Faire costumes with you last week and then...I didn't blog at all last week >.<  Oops!

But if you follow me on Instagram, you saw our costumes the day of!

Since I knew I would be doing 2 sets of costumes this year, I had to make sure neither set was particularly complicated.  As it turned out, I did more sewing for the Ren Faire costumes than what was involved for our Hallowe'en costumes!  Today I want to show you what Lil Chief and I wore, and tomorrow I'll show you how I made Mr. Geek's costume to round out the family photos.

image by New Line Cinema
So we are nowhere near the same height (okay fine, she's just over half my height, whaaaaaaaaat?) but I decided that my almost-2-year-old and I would go as Merry (her) and Pippin (me) from Fellowship of the Ring.  Here's the result:

Most of my costume was store-bought.  I wore jean leggings, a white button-down blouse, a blue blazer that I picked up at Goodwill, and a grey scarf I found at Target.  The only thing I needed to make was the cloak, and here's how I did it:

I bought a yard and a half of a brown fleece (on sale!) because I'm just over 5 feet tall.  (The width of the fabric bolt was the perfect size to wrap around myself, so I could make it from one piece.)  Because it's fleece, I didn't have to worry about finishing the edges (they won't fray) and because this was intended to be just a one-time-use costume, I wasn't concerned with the hood looking perfect- in fact, the hood was just for show, I never actually wore it.  (It got hot at the Renn Faire in early October!)  I only made one cut on my piece of fleece.  I measured the approximate distance from my collarbone to my ankle (let's call it h for this diagram) and cut the fleece there.  The h portion would be the body of the cloak and the smaller portion would be the hood.

I took the hood portion of the fleece and cut it in half width-wise.  Then I stitched the two pieces together along the long side (labeled s in the image) and one of the short sides.  If I had a serger, I would have used that, but I don't, so I used a zig-zag stitch instead.  (Fleece is heavy, and you want a strong stitch to hold it together.)  Now, technically, I didn't stitch perfectly along the edges.  Instead of making an L shape with the seam, I stitched a curve- like the curve of my head that the hood would be covering.  (If you don't stitch along a curve, you'll end up with a pointy hood.)  Then I trimmed the excess fabric and turned it inside out.

So now that I had a complete hood (the seam represented by the dotted line in this image), all that was left was to attach it by sewing the bottom (labeled b) to the short end of the cloak body.  After that, all I had to do was attach a closure.  I found a big round decorative button that sort of looked like stone (it was definitely plastic) and attached it at the point just beneath where the hood was connected.  Done!

Little Merry needed a cloak, too.  I made hers first, and I was stupid when I planned it out- I went with a lightweight grey cotton instead of a fleece.  This meant I needed to finish the edges, but it also meant my little hobbit wasn't sweltering when the weather warmed up during the day!

I made my measurements the exact same way I did for mine, except I added an inch on both sides to this rectangle (to allow for a 1/2 inch seam on all sides), and I needed to cut the width down because the bolt of fabric was way larger than my toddler.  I assembled the cloak the exact same way, but I used straight stitches (with white thread because, like I said, I'm stupid- I didn't buy matching thread!) and did something different for the closure.

You can't tell in the above photo, but Merry's cloak actually has 2 buttons.  I couldn't really figure out exactly how the costumers did it for the film, but it looked like there was some sort of tab with 2 buttons and you could tighten the cloak based on which button you that's what I made.

I laid my two buttons side by side with a decent amount of room in between them (perhaps a whole button's width- so this image is not to scale) and then drew a rectangle around them.  I cut two identical rectangles this size, stitched them together along 3 sides, turned them inside out, and stitched the fourth side closed.  (If I wanted this cloak to be worn more than once, I probably would have strengthened my little button placket with some fusible fleece in the middle of this rectangle, but that was too much work for me.)  I attached this little placket to the cloak on one side, then I attached the two buttons to either end and created a button hole on the other side of the cloak.  Done!

The rest of Chief's costume was store-bought- I got her the eleven leaf pin, a little boy's yellow vest, a white button-down blouse, and khaki pants.  I couldn't find a green toddler-sized blazer anywhere, so I did something absolutely insane.

This is a green ladies' size 4 blazer that I got for a few dollars at Goodwill.

I cut it to fit her.

Again, this costume was just for the one day, so it was acceptable for it to be kind of wonky, in my opinion.

U jelly of my artistic genius?
I turned the jacket inside out, and I took her coat and turned it inside out and laid it on top.  It wasn't quite the drastic difference as in the image, but the blazer was quite a bit larger than a coat that fit my almost-2-year-old.  First, I cut the bottom so that the coat would be the right length (just above her knees).  Then, I cut the sleeves to just a bit longer than the sleeves of her coat- I had no intention of actually finishing the edges, I just rolled the cuffs up.  Finally, making sure the center lines of the jackets were perfectly matched, I measured the distance between the shoulder of one jacket and the same shoulder of the other.  (Three inches.)  I folded the blazer in half, measured 3" in from the fold, and ran a zigzag stitch the length of the coat at that mark.  It made the collar all wonky, but it worked!  Of course, the sleeves themselves were still much too large, though they were the right length, but this jacket had padded shoulders and I was not going to mess with adjusting the armholes because, again- it was a one-day costume.

Here's how the finished product looked!

Check back tomorrow to see what Mr. Geek was dressed as- and how I made it!

Have you ever been to a Renaissance Faire?  Did you make your own costume?  What are you going to be for Hallowe'en?

Much love,
The Geeks

*all photos personal unless otherwise noted*

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I'm not gonna lie- Hallowe'en is my favorite holiday.  I have always loved dressing up in elaborate costumes and putting on a show- hence my love of ballet recitals starting at age 3 and that time I wrote and staged a musical for the neighborhood kids to star in (too bad said neighborhood kids were too lazy to rehearse or perform it with me).  Also, walking around and demanding candy which people are obligated to give you?  Count me in!

When we first found out we were pregnant with Little Chief, one of the things I looked forward to the most was family Hallowe'en costumes.  Last year was our first experience creating and assembling a family costume, and we didn't even do proper trick-or-treating.  This year, we get two opportunities to dress up as a family- we're heading to the Maryland Renaissance Festival next weekend and going in costume, in addition to really-for-real trick-or-treating on Hallowe'en!

I won't spoil the surprise for our Renn Faire costumes, but I will say that they're not quite historical- though that's not to say we won't fit in.  Stay tuned for pictures and a tutorial or two!

I've finished those costumes, so now it's time to start building the Hallowe'en costumes!  Needless to say, things are pretty busy around here lately, hence the lack of posting.  (Also Mr. Geek got me Disney Infinity 3.0, but I'm sure the lack of blog posts has little to do with that fact.)

To tide you over, if you're looking for ideas for your own little family costumes, check out last year's set:

*personal photo*
We were Han, Leia, and our little ewok friend, fighting together to bring down the Empire.

What are you going to be for Hallowe'en this year?

Much love,
The Geeks

Friday, September 25, 2015

Oh, Internet... {79}

First of all- thanks so much for all who entered the gift card giveaway last week- the winner has been notified!  I'd say it was a pretty successful first attempt at a giveaway, so I'll do another one soon!

Lots of awesome things happened on the internet this week- here are some of my favorites:

Miss Emma at a Pinch of Pixie Dust offered a review of the Legoland Hotel in Florida.  Obviously nothing can beat a Disney resort, but this still looks like a pretty fun place to stay!

A Beautiful Mess shared an awesome DIY for dressing up plain closet doors!

This article on clearly explains what Attachment Parenting is not.

Jamie at Petite Panoply looked adorable in this yellow shift dress.  (That silhouette has never been flattering on me but looks great on her!)

Catholic All Year talked about Enforcing the Rules When Family Isn't Supportive (which I'm sure is advice that we will never have to use in our household...)

Mary from Better than Eden posted on Elizabeth Ministry about Learning to Love in All the Wrong (to us) Ways.  I think something that a lot of people miss in discussions of the Love Languages philosophy is that marriage purposefully makes us live outside our respective comfort zones, and that challenges in learning to love each other is not a detriment to marriage- it's the whole point of marriage!

Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas is a nerd after my own heart- this week she wrote about How Hogwarts Prepared Me for the Liturgical Year.

And in honor of this week's historic visit by Pope Francis- 6 Times You Were Flat-Out Lied to About Pope Francis.  Silly media.

What awesome things happened on your internet this week?

Much love,
The Geeks

Monday, September 21, 2015

Bookish Adventures: The Paper Magician

*personal photo*
I really wanted to like this book.  (That's an ominous way to start a review, isn't it?)

The Paper Magician follows a young woman as she enters into an apprenticeship with one of the last magicians who uses paper as the medium for his magic, though she had always dreamed of bonding to metal.  Just as she starts to master the basics of paper magic, her master is attacked by a woman who has become an Excisioner- a magician who uses human blood as the medium for her magic. Our headstrong heroine embarks on a journey to rescue the stolen heart of her teacher- by finding herself inside of it.

Like I said, I wanted to like this book.  The author put a creative new spin on magic, with magicians becoming experts in one material or another.  This means that paper magicians are able to do incredibly complicated origami that comes to life, and they are also able to bring into existence words that are written on paper.  Much of it appears to be frivolous parlor tricks- both to our disgruntled heroine and to the reader- but the practical aspects eventually show themselves.  (A giant paper airplane you can ride?  I could find uses for that…)  Our heroine is relatable- a headstrong 18-year-old with her nose to the grindstone to make a living for herself and feel less like a burden on her underprivileged parents.

But for me, that's where her likeable traits end. 

I don't always have to like a main character in order to enjoy a book- Game of Thrones is chock full of characters who are obvious villains that I would never consider friends in real life, but that doesn't stop me from sitting on the edge of my seat as I read about their adventures.  But it's kind of a requirement for a main character to not be utterly annoying, especially if we never have a chance to escape her at any course of the narration.  (Like a certain Katniss Everdeen- I almost didn't finish Mockingjay because holy crap what a whiny, annoying baby.). I can't quite put a finger on what makes this girl so annoying, but I think it comes down to the way she is written.

Charlie is a clever nickname for the author, perhaps used in an effort to combat the cliché that an author will sell more books if the reader believes she is a man- but you didn't fool me, honey.  You're definitely a girl.  Know how I know?

Because Ceony is a classic example of what fanfiction authors refer to as a Mary Sue- a fictional representation of the author herself so that the author might live vicariously through this creation and do whatever it is that the author has never been able to do, which, in most cases (as in this book), is win the heart of the hot guy.  (Another famous Mary Sue you may be familiar with is a certain Bella Swan- a girl whose personality has been peppered with flaws so that the author can say See, she's so realistic! even as she gets everything she wants throughout the course of the story and can seemingly do no wrong on her thinly-veiled romantic exploits that we're supposed to pretend are totally empowering adventures.)

Because yes, ladies and gentlemen, at the end of the day, when our intrepid magician-in-training finds herself inside her teacher's literal heart, she falls in luuuuuurve with him.  She discovers that she wants to rescue his heart so that she might have it for herself; yes, this awkward-yet-incredibly-intelligent teenage girl who would never consider herself to be attractive though she has perfect hair and soft skin and a tiny waist that we are constantly reminded of as we read about the skirts and blouses she clothes herself in every day- she hopes that this much older man who has been married once before and who is her teacher and also, obviously, incredibly attractive…she hopes he'll fall in luuuurve with her, too, and take her as his second wife.

And it's not like you don't see the romance coming from a mile away. 

The thing about Harlequin romance stories is that they all follow a pattern.  When we meet the two characters who are destined for a tumble in the sheets before the third chapter, we are greeted with a more detailed physical description than those of the other characters (unless, of course, those characters are temporary romantic diversions for our main character).  Our soon-to-be lovers are always thrown into ridiculous, completely unrealistic scenarios that no sane woman would want to find herself in because in real life he's a rapist, not the man of your dreams (I'm looking at you, Christian Grey) that lead to increasingly annoying sexual tension before the inevitable overly-dramatic bedroom shenanigans.  And finally, there's always some hint of danger about the hunk of man-meat that our heroine lusts after- for one reason or another, this relationship seems forbidden, and that's what ends up making it so delicious, to borrow every romance author's favorite adjective.

For the record- no, this book is definitely not erotica.  There is no sex, explicit or otherwise, though there were several moments when I though that's what the author was leading up towards, as she follows the formula for a classic trashy romance to the letter.  (Also for the record- that's not why I picked this book up.  Nothing about the description makes this story sound like it's meant to be a romance, which is why it's so damn disappointing when it turns out that way.). There's one point in the story where the magician inexplicably leaves for a period of time and his teenage apprentice decides it's a good idea to go poking around his bedroom and cleans his dirty laundry.  And more than one time she watches him working in the middle of the night.  And we discover that, not only is he her master as she completes her study of magic, he is also her benefactor; he funded a scholarship specifically for her after she lost hers when she makes a scene after an important man gropes her in public- a scene which we later find out he actually observed, meaning he's defending her honor in a roundabout way.  And at a time when we're supposed to be caught up in the action and suspense and worried about where the evil villainess is, Ceony has the time to reflect forlornly on the fact that the ex-wife of the man of her dreams has a much larger bosom than she does.

Classic romance novel fodder, there.

It just all speaks to the immaturity of the author, I think.  But more so than the ridiculous romance-novel-y-ness, the author clearly did not do her research about the time and place where her novel is set.

For whatever reason, this story takes place in Victorian England- probably because the author, like everybody else, is obsessed with Downton Abbey.  Again I'll reference my fanfiction-writing-days to define the word Britspeak for you- in the Harry Potter fanfiction community, all of the best authors were hyper-aware of the fact that the story was set in England and all (or most) of the characters were British, and no one wanted the story to sound like it was written by an American teenager, so you would seek out someone to Brit-pick your piece and make sure you didn't make any mistakes in your Britspeak.  In short, there are certain words and idiomatic expressions and slang phrases that are inherently British, and those that are inherently American, and if you wanted to write a convincing story about British teenagers, you wouldn't have them talking about cellphones or pants or cigarettes- they would use the words mobiles and trousers and fags (if those were indeed the words you were looking for- pants mean underpants to Brits, so be aware of the mental image you want to paint when your attractive characters meet in the early morning in your definitely-not-a-romance-novel romance novel).  And then on top of the fact that our author exposes herself as American, she also exposes herself as of the twenty first century through her missteps in word choice. I'm not suggesting that I wish to mistake this author for Jane Austen herself, but the story would be progressing along with a very modern feel and then suddenly there would be a random, off-hand reminder that oh yes, this is supposed to be the turn of the century, though our characters are conversing as if it were 2015 and the setting does absolutely nothing for the plot.

I think what the author was attempting to do was create a steampunk-feeling story, only with magic instead of technology.  She sort of accomplishes this by treating magic as if it's no big deal- the fact that our main character is a magician does not warrant additional explanation because there seems to be no concept of "Muggles" in this world, or of the International Statute of Secrecy (my Potter obsession is showing, isn't it?).  At first, it sort of bothered me that there was no explanation of whether or not people existed in this world who didn’t possess magical ability, and if magicians needed to do anything to hide their magic from them, but eventually I decided to let it go- after all, one of the things I appreciate most about George R. R. Martin's writing is that he doesn't take the time to explain anything to his reader, really, he just respects your intelligence and expects you to keep up. So I'm pretty sure the steampunkishness is the only driving force in the setting of this story- that and the fact that we're supposed to feel that apprenticeships are a normal thing that everybody does.

Between the whole bonding-to-a-material thing and the fact that magic is not an extraordinary gift in this world, you'd think I'd be praising this author for her originality and innovation.  Alas, I can't bring myself to call her original in her rules governing magic because it seems that, in addition to watching Downton Abbey while writing this novel, she was also bingeing on Once Upon a Time.  Yes, our buxom villainess goes around sticking her hands into people's chests and ripping out their hearts, and said people do not cease living.  In a departure from the Evil Queen's magic, however, victims of this empty-chest syndrome are not able to continue walking about as if nothing happened and do suffer in the medical sense.  So. There's that.

All in all, I probably would have enjoyed this book when I was a teenager and was able to enjoy things like Twilight purely as the fluff that they are, but nowadays if I'm going to invest my time in a book, I'd like it to be, I don't know, well-written.  Even just slightly.

Read anything particularly disappointing lately?

Much love,
The Geeks

PS Go enter my  giveaway for a $50 Macy's gift card if you haven't already! 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Trying Something New- a Giveaway!

I've never done a giveaway before on this here little blog.

Normally people run giveaways when they've hit some sort of milestone- a blogiversary, a certain number of followers- but I'm involved in a sort of blogging challenge right now and this week's challenge was to do a post we've never done before we go!

Randomly, out of the blue, I'd like to give away a $50 gift card to Macy's, because I love Macy's, and you love Macy's, and we all love Macy's.  I figure when my husband brings me just-because flowers, those are the best kinds of flowers, so the same rule must apply to just-because shopping sprees, yeah?

Try your luck with the Rafflecopter below!  The contest is open until next Friday, and I'll contact the winner this time next week!  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 18, 2015

Oh, Internet... {78}

Super short Oh, Internet this week but lots of substance!

Infarrantly Creative shared a delicious-looking slow cooker recipe for Thai peanut chicken- have I mentioned how excited I am that it's slow cooker season?!

Love this blue skirt on Jamie over at Petite Panoply- and those shoes!

Oh Joy! has been blogging for 10 years!  Whaaaat?  Go congratulate her!

There's a Hocus Pocus -themed show at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party this year.  Yet another reason why I want to visit Disney in October one year...

Catholic All Year shared her secrets to teaching kids to read.  We're not quite worried about learning to read yet, but we've already started step one!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

Oh, Internet... {77}

I know it's kind of late, but if you're sitting around this Friday evening looking for something to read, look no further:

When Marriage Feels Like Work: what a tragic thing when people encounter difficulty and would rather walk away than face it together, like they said they would at the altar.

Should I Let My Kid Dress Like a Weirdo?  And this is why Simcha Fisher is so awesome, in case you didn't know already.  Crazy hair colors and odd clothing choices do not a bad kid make.

It's OK to Skip Your 20's and Start Your Life: It's like Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas just gets me, you know?

What Does a Doula REALLY Do? I'm thinking maybe next time, we get a doula...especially if she's like Mary...

11 Affordable Online Fabric Sources: It's that time again- Hallowe'en Costume Making Time!!

Jamie at Petite Panoply did an adorable Little Shop of Horrors cosplay!  (And she looks fantastic as a blonde!!!)

What awesome things happened on your internet this week?

Much love,
The Geeks

Friday, September 4, 2015

Oh, Internet... {76}

It's been a couple of weeks since I've done an Oh, Internet... so today I'm bringing you two weeks' worth of awesomeness from across the internet!

For awesomely simple home decor projects, check out:

This incredible starburst ceiling light fixture DIY on A Beautiful Mess.  So simple, so clever!

And ABM also shared a kitchen DIY that completely transforms the walls with just a simple coat of paint!

For random awesomeness, check out:

The xkcd survey.  I'd love if you'd come back here and tell me how you answered some of the questions!

For an awesome family outfit post, check out:

Kaelah Bee and her adorable, fashionable little family.

For awesome parenting advice:

The lovely Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas shared her secrets for road trippin' with tiny kids- which is timely for us, as we just decided to skip the airport and drive straight to Gulf Shores, AL this Thanksgiving!

Kendra at Catholic All Year shared the secret to receiving communion while holding a child (a nursing infant, a struggling toddler, or the hand of a little goober)- receive on your tongue.  I figured that out rather quickly, I'm proud to say, and now it's a pretty natural way for me to receive communion, whether I'm struggling with a toddler or not.

And finally, check out this article on Ethika Politika about how the Duggars get this whole chastity thing completely wrong.  Scandals aside, I've never found it prudent for Catholics to turn to any reality tv star family as models of moral behavior, even if they seem wholesome and harmless on the surface.

What awesome things have you found on the internet lately?

Much love,
The Geeks

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Last Labor Day

*personal photo*
This time last year, this little girl went shopping for her first pair of tennis shoes, felt the excitement of her first college football opening weekend, and had a whole lot less hair on that little bitty head.

Now, shoe shopping is her favorite kind of shopping, she knows the cheers for all her favorite football teams, and she has enough hair for little bitty pigtails (if she lets me do them).

What were you doing on Labor Day last year?  What has changed since then?

Much love,
The Geeks

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Fresh Coat of Paint

It's September.  College football starts this weekend, the smell of pumpkin is in the air (of various restaurants), my morning commute involves waiting half an hour for the school buses to make it through the neighborhood, and a certain scarlett train engine full of excited students left King's Cross Station yesterday on its way to an Unplottable castle.

In the spirit of the fresh-start feeling of back-to-school time, I decided now was a good time to roll out my new blog design!

Also in the spirit of back-to-school- I don't know about you, but I'm always on the lookout for good deals on cute clothes for my little one.  Well what's more perfect for back-to-school shopping than a website that offers insanely good discounts on brand-name children's clothing and donates money to schools?

Enter: Schoola, purveyor of gently-used adorable children's clothing (and some clothes for Mom and Dad, too!).

Follow this link to save $15 on your purchase!  (As this is a referral link, I, too, will receive a $15 credit if you make a purchase after following the link, but at no additional cost to you- it's truly a win-win situation!)

And while we're talking about saving money- have you ever used Ebates?  I honestly thought it was too good to be true- follow a link from Ebates and receive cash back on your purchase- but then I followed my friend's referral link...and y'all, it's awesome.  Follow this link to explore the awesomeness (which, again, is another referral, but again, it doesn't cost you anything more) and trust me- you will never, ever shop online the same way again.

Do you get in back-to-school mode this time of year, even if no one in your household is actually going back to school?  What are your favorite sources of good deals on baby clothes?  And what do you think of the new look?

Much love,
The Geeks

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Oh, Internet... {75}

It's naptime on a Saturday- the perfect time for Mommy to catch up on her blog reading.  Here are some of the best things that happened on the internet this week:

I quite literally laughed out loud at this // *by XKCD*
Shayla shared a beautiful reflection on gardening and life over on Northern Exposure.  This was pretty timely for me, as lately I've been struggling with the need to better provide for my family, and stressing out because it's just not happening fast enough.  Perhaps I should take a deep breath and just grow where I'm planted.

Hallowe'en is right around the corner, which means it's time to blow the dust off my sewing machine and whip up some costumes.  So of course, I'm getting distracted by all sorts of awesomely simple crafting tutorials on the internet...

My little one loves wearing skirts, but she needs to wear shorts underneath.  Enter: this tutorial on Make It and Love It for a simple skirt with shorts attached.  Freaking.  Genius.

Also on Make It and Love It: this elastic bookmark with a big adorable bow!  I know several ladies who would probably appreciate this as a Christmas present...better get to sewing!

Bean in Love (who, by the way, was on the cover of Mobile Bay magazine, what??) shared this genius solution for a temporary change-up to a lamp shade.  (Spoiler alert: it involves elastic.)

And finally, the single best thing that happened on the internet this week (well, for me, anyway):

Catholic All Year shared an absolutely incredible post on How to Raise Good Little Catholics.  If anybody reading this blog is looking for gift ideas for my daughter's birthday and/or Christmas, literally any of the things Kendra links to in this post would be welcome.  Any of them.  (All of them!)

So what happened on your internet this week?

Much love,
The Geeks