Archive | October, 2010

How to Have – or even make – a Fantastic Halloween Costume! (For cheap!)

5 Oct

Now, I’m going to be real here: I was never a huge Halloween fan. Sure, I did my fair share of dressing up in my formative years, but as I got older, I was just as content to sit on the couch with my parents and pass out candy while I watched the Halloween special of my favorite sitcom. Family Matters, if you were wondering. And while that clip looks corny, it gave me SERIOUS nightmares as a child, every year! But anyway, I was never too excited about the dressing up thing: I always put that off until the last-minute and it forced me to deal with the slim pickings left in the party store. Last year, I made my costume (last-minute, of course…) and I went as…wait for it…Disco Fever Minnie Mouse. This year, I’m going a bit more simple, and I’m dressing up as my favorite non-fictional animal, a peacock.

While your preferences may not be as..out there as mine (I love Donna Summer, so sue me), it really isn’t too hard to whip up your own costume from things you can get from your own closet or at a discount store. And I have absolutely no sewing experience, so don’t worry about it – there will be no crafting here (Sorry!).

Plus, if all else fails, you can go out and buy your own costume. See? No risk!

How do I start? I have no ideas!

Well, I’m here to help!

Here are some places to start:

Halloween Stores – Okay, so this runs against what I said before, but bear with me: Halloween stores are a great place for inspiration. I decided on my peacock costume when I stumbled upon this on Spirit Halloween. While it’s a great idea, it’s short, tight, requires tons of boobage – and for $60.00, how many times am I seriously going to wear this thing? Cost per wear, I always say. But if you don’t have a single idea, try there!

Pop Culture – While a Lady Gaga or Nicki Minaj costume may be too elaborate for your taste, there are plenty of pop culture figures just ripe for the picking. While a Taylor Swift/Kanye West couples costume may not be the most topical (seriously guys…it’s really old.), you can always turn to programs like The Soup or Best Week Ever. Plus, plenty of television and movie characters dress in average clothing but are still highly recognizable. Get creative!

Nostalgia – And who says your pop culture reference has to be recent? Mine your childhood for ideas. As a child of the 90’s, my second idea – after the peacock, of course – was to be a contestant on Legends of the Hidden Temple. And no, I’m not kidding. Watch for it next year. That, or Lana Kane from Archer.

Your Closet – Last year, when I wore the aforementioned Minnie Mouse costume, the inspiration had struck from a sole item in my closet: a pair of silver sequined mouse ears. Do you have a pair of novelty cat-eye glasses that look distinctly Hon-like (or am I being too regional…hmm?) If your mother holds onto her old clothes like mine does, you could create an amazing retro look. If not, try a thrift store! (more on that below)

Where do I get my things?

So you have an idea: that’s great! Well, now get cracking! If you have some of the supplies necessary for your outfit in your own closet, you’re already part-way there!

If not, you can always start at…

The Thrift Store – Probably the best place to go. Many thrift stores anticipate a Halloween rush and stock accordingly. Don’t miss out – you can get some real gems for cheap!

Discount Retailers (HM, F21) – I’m going to be honest, this is where the bulk of my costume comes from. Fast fashion is flashy, cheap – and can often serve your purposes. Last year, I wore a silver tutu from H&M. While H&M doesn’t have online shopping (at least stateside!) so you’re limited to what’s in-store, there is a TON of clothing on Plus, you might be able to wear it again depending on how you like it.

Goodwill – Similar to the thrift store. If you’re looking for an “authentic” look, this is where to start.

Yeah…I still got nothin’.

No ideas? Well, here are some quick costumes that shouldn’t take too much of your time and resources:

Legends of the Hidden Temple Contestant – Snag a T-Shirt from this or another retailer, grab a pair of khaki shorts and get yourself a skating helmet. Done! That site also sells Global GUTS shirts if that’s more your style.

Mummy – Two words: Ace bandages. It’s simple, it’s easy, it’s classic.

Grecian Woman: Speaking of simple, easy and classic – just refashion one of your bedsheets. Don’t have laurel? Make your own!

Athlete: Do you have an old athletic uniform? Or at least, one that you can borrow? Then you’re set. Bonus if you have pads.

Should-be Sleeping Child: Find your favorite pair of kiddie pajamas, a teddy bear and fuzzy slippers. Security blanket is optional.

Nerd: High waisted shorts, button-up, bow-tie and suspenders. Tape duct tape around the bridge of your glasses (or a fake pair). Get your Urkel game on lock.

Beauty Queen: Ever wondered how you could re-use that high school prom dress? Problem solved.

What are you going to be for Halloween?

xoxo, Tara


Music Feature – Esperanza Spalding

4 Oct

Esperanza Spalding, aside from having an amazing afro, is a jazz musician from Portland, Oregon, and my latest girl-crush. While she’s reached some exposure in the jazz world (and beyond), I still think that she is sorely under-exposed.

More about her, via her official website:

If “esperanza” is the Spanish word for hope, then bassist, vocalist and composer Esperanza Spalding could not have been given a more fitting name at birth. Blessed with uncanny instrumental chops, a multi-lingual voice that is part angel and part siren, and a natural beauty that borders on the hypnotic, the 25-year-old prodigy-turned-pro might well be the hope for the future of jazz and instrumental music.

If “esperanza” is the Spanish word for hope, then bassist, vocalist and composer Esperanza Spalding could not have been given a more fitting name at birth. Blessed with uncanny instrumental chops, a multi-lingual voice that is part angel and part siren, and a natural beauty that borders on the hypnotic, the 25-year-old prodigy-turned-pro might well be the hope for the future of jazz and instrumental music.

I have recently had the pleasure of seeing Esperanza Spalding perform – and she is amazing. Absolutely amazing. This talented bassist (although she plays other instruments too) is only twenty-five (!) and has performed for the likes of President Barack Obama at his Nobel Prize Ceremony.

Even though I went to her concert at the Byham Theater kind of tired – it had been a long day, alright?? – I was captivated by her soulful performance and the sheer passion she exuded. Every note seemed to light her on fire and the radiant smile on her face was a testament to how much she loved music. Even when she paused her playing, she would close her eyes and hum along to her band, the Chamber Music Society. And while she writes her own music, it amazed me how she was able to play intricate musical compositions while singing along. Take it from a former piano player: that is NOT easy. I became an instant fan.

For more information on Esperanza Spalding, check out her official website. To preview more of her music, listen to the player on her website or her fan station on

If you have any music you’d like me to check out, leave me a comment or send me an email! (Contact info in the about me page)



Slowed Down Sunday – 10/3/10

3 Oct

Isn’t that picture awesome? I love Kelis!

So here’s my ode to gratefulness this week:

Fall Break – It’s been a while since I’ve been in Maryland – almost a month! That’s a long time for me, by the way. I miss so many things back there, like my family, boyfriend, my pets and Mongolian barbecue. Thankfully for me, this coming weekend is fall break, and I’m flying home!  I can’t wait to sleep in my bed, eat my parents’ cooking and snuggle with the boyfriend. As if on cue, the Ravens, with a clutch move, defeated the Steelers today. I think it’s a sign.

Blasts of Inspiration – I took some time off from the blog for a couple of reasons: I had very little time to write and I was running out of ideas. I know: excuses, excuses. But after taking time to myself (also known as being on duty), I have had a burst of inspiration to write. More posts forthcoming! I’m excited! Also, if there’s anything you want me to write about, email me or leave me a comment!

Miscellaneous Loves – The scent of freshly done laundry; General Tso’s Chicken (I haven’t had it in a while!); knowing my socks from Sockdreams are on their way (mine are lilac and pink!); THIS HAT (I want it in lilac and pink too…); becoming penpals with the epic Alexandra Franzen; seeing the fantastic Esperanza Spalding in concert – the dinner at Bossa Nova was quite the bonus; WRCT‘s global radio show known as Sound Smorgasbord – the DJ is super-awesome, and the music is fantastic. Listen now!; another grueling session in kickboxing; the possibility of a few amazing trips on the horizon – Florida? California? CANADA?; purchasing RuPaul’s new book – finally; the Fuck Yeah Christmas Tumblr!

What are you grateful for this week? Let me know!

xoxo, Tara