My family’s Journey to America

This isn’t a typical post for my blog, but it is such an inspiring story I am compelled to share it with you all.

As a young girl, my family never talked about how they came to America.  I knew they came by boat to flee Vietnam after the war but that was about it.  I was sure it was a hard journey and an emotional event to recall – so I never asked. It was not until 10 years ago that I got the courage to ask if they could tell me more about it. I interviewed my grandfather, parents, aunts and uncles. The stories and recollections that came out were sad, courageous and inspiring. At the time, I had ambitious intentions to compile the videos together as a documentary for my family.  Needless to say, this documentary has been on my to-do list for 10 years.  A few weeks ago, I finally put in the time. I sat down to review all the footage and listen to their stories – 8 hrs worth.

After many late nights of editing, I managed to create 2 documentaries. First, I made a long video, compiling all the interviews and photos. I desperately wanted a way to share their story with my kids, but I knew it would be hard (well, impossible at this age) for them to sit through a 1.5hr video AND read subtitles. I was on a mission to create a simple video for my kids, their cousins and all the generations that will come to enjoy – this is the result.

 

The ABC’s of Affirmations

Each day our children are affected by the world around us, encountering both positive and negative situations. Instilling positive affirmations into our children have a powerful way of building a positive mind and raising confident children. With the rise of bullying, self-confidence is the very thing that will empower them with positive beliefs and help them deal with hard situations. Just a few positive words spoken to ourselves each day can make an amazing impact on our entire life.

We hope this inspires you to make affirmations a part of your life.

DIY Wooden Photo Ornament

Each holiday we have two important traditions:

1. Make ornaments for our tree.
2. Add an ornament with our family photo.

This year I combined the two and made a wooden photo ornament that we LOVE. I’m so thrilled with how it turned out especially since I ordered one last year and was disappointed by it. The photo was printed directly on the block making the details faded and hard to see.

This project is easy, inexpensive and makes for great gifts! Here’s the breakdown of how to make one for yourself:

Video Tutorial:

Detailed Instructions:

Supplies:

  • Wooden block (The one I used is 2inches and purchased from Michaels for $1.50)
  • Screw eyelets (Purchased from Home Depot – $1 for pack of 8)
  • Mod Podge (I had this but you can find it at Michaels or any craft store)
  • Foam Brush (same as above)
  • Ribbon
  • Scrapbook paper and photos cut to size of block

  • Use the foam brush to add a thin layer of Mod Podge to block and add photos/paper one side at a time.
  • Add 1-2 layers of Mod Podge over the photo/paper. Let dry in between each layer.

Drill a small hole in the center of the top.

Screw in the eyelet.

Tie your ribbon.

And … there you have it. A beautiful wooden ornament with clear photos of your loved ones.

Easy peasy, right?! Hope this inspires you to make one or a dozen like I did this year.

For more DIY ornaments check out what we’ve made in years past.

Our Halloween Costumes were featured on…

We are honored and totally stoked for our Halloween costumes to be featured on…

MSN – 15 Best Family Halloween Costumes

Huffington Post – 59 Family Halloween Costumes that are Clever, Cool and Extra Cute

We were interviewed from The Penny Hoarder for this article: 6 Costume Contests with Cash Prizes

Last year, our Games costumes won 2nd place for this contest on Costume Works.

Making Halloween costumes each year has become such a fun tradition for us – we love it! So happy to be sharing this love of creating with you all.

 

DIY Star Wars Costumes

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We had the opportunity to go to Comic-con this year and of course, we had to make our Star Wars cosplay for it! We’ll try to write instructions on how we made these costumes as best as possible as we didn’t document the process by photos.

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Ewok Hood:

  • Cut hood and ear pieces. Pin and sew together.
  • Cut face opening – raw fabric edges make a nice touch for this costume
  • Hand stitch black embroidery thread to front of hood

Ewok Staff:

  • We had this bamboo stick
  • Covered one end with duct tape and hot glued twine around it
  • Blade is made from an old foam floor mat

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Princess Leia Dress:

  • Sewed her dress (using an existing shirt as a template)
  • Added elastic gold trim around waist

Hair Buns:

  • Cover a basic plastic headband with brown felt
  • To start the buns, cut some circular cardboard pieces and glue them to the sides of the headband
  • Using brown yarn, make 2 very long braids.
  • Hot glue one end of braid to the center of the circular cardboard. Gradually glue and wrap around until you’ve reached the outer edge of the cardboard.

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Luke Skywalker Costume:

Shirt is a large rectangle, folded in half with slits cut in the sides to insert a belt.

Green part that covers hat is foam covered with duct tape.

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R2D2 Costume:

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Used a basic white tank top.

Sew a strip/tube of blue fabric (I used part of an old shirt) to skirt as follows.

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Attach the other end of the blue fabric to the tank top.

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This is how it looks when sewing is complete.

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Added a pocket in the back to hold my phone and wallet!

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The details are made from fabric cut and glued to outfit. Also used permanent marker to draw in black lines.

We made 2 different head pieces. The larger one was made from a large plastic bowl. Thought it might be hard to walk around Comic-con with this so we made the smaller one from an old baseball cap. Used a headlight and draped fabric over it. Then glued on the additional blue/red pieces of fabric.

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“Obi-Wan, you’re my only hope.”

Hope this helps and inspires you to make some fun Star Wars costumes for you and your littles.

Planning a Star Wars Party? Check out this post for some fun ideas.

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See the video on how we made this giant AT AT head from start to finish:

 

Star Wars Party Ideas for Boys + Girls

This year BOTH of our kids wanted Star Wars birthday parties. Here are some ideas on how we made it happen for them…

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We made the Ewok hood and staff for Zander. He wore his Chewbacca jammies with it, which worked perfectly.

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We made Zoey’s Princess Leia dress and hair buns and painted her water gun blaster black.

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Made these simple light saber napkins using a printable found online.

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Created some signs for food/utensils.

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Found some hexagon crackers to use for Tie Fighters. Used cream cheese to ‘glue’ it all together.

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Made these cupcake toppers square because they are much easier to cut than circular ones!

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For Zoey, we made Princess Leia cupcakes. These were incredibly easy to make!

Instructions:

  1. Frost entire cupcake with white frosting
  2. Create hair using chocolate frosting. I put some in a ziplock bag, cut a small hole in the corner and squeezed the frosting out of the hole.
  3. Eyes are mini chocolate chips
  4. Mouth is heart shaped sprinkles
  5. To add Oreo hair buns, insert a toothpick into the center of the cookie, then insert the opposite side of the toothpick into the cupcake.

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For Zander, we made made light saber cupcakes. Again, easy and self explanatory.

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Hung up some Death Star beach balls and toy Tie Fighters for decor.

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Made a giant AT AT head out of cardboard. When attached to our grey play structure it looks like a giant AT AT in our backyard! Check out the video on how it was made.

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Darth Vader made a special appearance and had some fun of his own.

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We had the fun opportunity to go to Comic-Con this year and these were our cosplay costumes. Check out the tutorials.

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Check out our YouTube page to see this AT AT head being made from start to finish.

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Made this cardboard X-Wing fighter for Zander, also. See the post here.

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Converted some boys Star Wars shirts to girls for Zoey. See how to make them here.

Hope this gave you some great ideas for you Star Wars party. Would love you hear from you and see your own creations!

DIY Cardboard Star Wars X-Wing Fighter

Here’s a fun cardboard creation for your Star Wars loving kids OR I’m sure it can be scaled up for adults, too 🙂

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Only 3 items needed to make this sweet spacecraft:

  • Cardboard
  • Tape
  • Shoe String

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A closeup of how the wings are attached.

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View from the back. Note, the strings on the back are attached to the wings to help them stay up. May work better if attached to the middle of the wing. You’ll have to test and redesign as needed.

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This little pilot is ready for battle.

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Hope this inspires you to make something from nothing, PLAY more and CREATE more!

 

DIY Star Wars AT-AT

Our son loves Star Wars and he wanted a SIxTH (6th) birthday party. We had everything planned from Empire decorations, DeathStar inflatables, hanging Tie Fighters to a guest appearance from the Sith Lord himself, Darth Vader. But we wanted a memorable centerpiece  for the party. So we set out to make a giant AT-AT head to add to our existing gray treehouse. The build was fun and it was awesome seeing our son’s face as well as the guests’ amazement walking into our yard seeing this giant AT-AT greeting you. All that was missing was a circling snow speeder.

See it come together from start to finish…

Halloween 2016 – Space

This year our son’s school requested for peaceful costumes of someone from history that made a difference in our lives. Mission: our costumes had to revolve around him being an astronaut. Lo and behold our Space Themed costumes this year!

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The most hilarious costume of the bunch. See the full tutorial on how we made this moon.

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The most realistic costume of the bunch. See the full tutorial on how we made this astronaut illusion costume.

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The cutest costume of the bunch. See the full tutorial on how we made this space shuttle costume.

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The easy and artful costume of the bunch. See the full tutorial on how we made this big dipper constellation.

Hope this inspires you to make something and create lasting memories for you family.

DIY Space Shuttle Costume

This little space shuttle is ready for lift off.

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Again, we couldn’t find many good tutorials on how to make a wearable space shuttle so we’re glad to be offering this to you all.

We completely forgot to take early photos of the construction but we’ll try to explain as best we can.

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Find a good sized box (we happen to have this cranberry juice box from a trip to Costco). Cut an opening (toward the front of the box) large enough for child to fit through. Bottom of box is open. Cut and add cardboard for front and wings. We used packing tape but use duct tape if you can, it’s stronger. Two engine compartments in the back are made with card stock paper.

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To bend the cardboard in the front, first score the cardboard.

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Wrapped everything in lightweight white fabric using hot glue.

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Cut slits in cups. Use pipe cleaners and straws to hold them in place.

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Hot glue some red, yellow or orange tissue paper inside cups.

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Cover two toilet paper rolls with black duct tape and glue inside engine compartments. Full disclaimer, I think space shuttles only have 3 engines so this may not be accurate.

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We didn’t think our 3yr old would keep straps on well so we made a little tank she could easily wear and keep on.

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Added windows and details around wings with black felt. Hand drew the lines using black marker. Printed and glued space shuttle logos to make it look legit.

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Off she goes. The most adorable space shuttle astronaut ever.

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Time and cost breakdown:

This costume took about 8hrs to make and $5 was spent on materials (cups $1, tissue paper $1 and white fabric $3).

Hope this inspires you to make something you and your kiddos will love.

This costume was 1 of 4 space themed costumes we made for our family this year.

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Check out tutorials for the moon, astronaut and big dipper constellation costumes.

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