CRAFTS: How to make a "GIR" Dog costume from the show "Invader Zim"

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For those of you that follow this blog regularly, I am sure you are not surprised to see this post. Every Halloween my daughter comes up with costumes that are from some under ground, cult character from books, video games or shows. Most of these characters' costumess you cannot buy at your local store, you have to get pretty creative to make them. This year we are in the middle of making a costume from a very underground video game called "OFF". This post was our project last year. If you have a quirky creative kid who perhaps wants to be GIR for Halloween, you have come to the right place.

GIR from Invader Zim is about as cult-y as you can get. This weird little character is pretty cute and silly (he is a robot who disguises himself as a dog among humans, so making a costume of a costume is pretty meta). His costume consists of big bulging eyes, a pink tongue, a giant zipper and black arms and legs. As there is no pattern out there for this, I had to use a giant sweater dress to use as a pattern, and used images from the show as reference. I also had an old pattern kit for a giant rabbit costume that I used for the hood, the mittens and the spats.  So if you aren't confident to do those by eye, grab a cheap pattern from the sewing shop that contains those pieces, and the rest you can use a big sweater of sweatshirt as a pattern. I originally had planned to make the green top be as long as GIR wears it, but my daughter thought it was too long and made her look like a barge. So we hemmed it up a few nights before Halloween. You can make yours as long or as short as your little GIR wants, but it does seem that the original GIR wears it almost to just above his knee. But who can say? I mean, he's a robot dressing up as a dog. SO your guess is as good as mine.

What else will you need?

Black fabric puffy paint
2-3 yards of green fleece
1-2 yards of black fleece
thread and sewing tools (pins, green and black thread, needle or a sewing machine, scissors)
Silver metallic or grey shiny fabric remnant for the zipper
foam board, black sharpie and silver metallic marker
fabric glue
white china marker or seamstress chalk
a Styrofoam ball (white) cut in half
a small bag of poly fill
2 stiff black felt squares
2 black pipe cleaners
1 pink felt square
a green hoodie with string from the thrift store that you will cut up
1/4" elastic for the mittens and the spats

1: Lay your green fleece down, wrong side out, and make sure it is folded so you have a front and back once you are done. Lay your pattern guide over it. You see I am using that large sweater dress as my guide, I checked to make sure it would fit my daughter. Cut around with a 1/2 seam allowance around the whole thing, and only cut the bodice. The sleeves you will use black fleece. I used a sharpie to draw then I cut, knowing I was drawing on the wrong side it wouldn't matter.

2: Next, use the sleeves of whatever you are using as your pattern, and draw and cut sleeves. Double up your fleece so you have front and backs, wrong side out. Make two. Allow for a 1/2 seam allowance.

3: Now GIR has these notched sleeve caps on him, so I took my black sleeves, laid them on green, wrong side out, and drew and cut these by eye. Then I laid the prepped and cut caps on top of the black, right side up and pinned them on the front sleeves only.

 4: Now working inside out, I pinned everything together, sleeves to bodice, and bodice front and back along the sides. Then I ran it all under the sewing machine using green thread.

 5: Then I took the neckline and pinned it down for a seam.

6: Then I used my hood pattern pieces to cut the top part of the hood. I pinned it inside out, sewed the seams inside out and flipped it right side up.

 7: Next I took a green hoodie I bought for 2 bucks at a thrift shop, and cut the hoodie part off just under the neckline. I pinned the thrift store hoodie to the top of the fleece hoodie, right sides together, just along the outside part that goes around the head. Then I ran it under a sewing machine as well. Turned it right side out, and then it was ready to be filled with some poly fill.

8: Fill the hoodie from the bottom, and fill it only as much as your GIR wants. The original GIR has a huge head, so I filled it pretty full at first. Of course my tweener kid was horrified. SO we went way more subtle with the POOFY head. Once it is filled, pin the hood to the waiting neckline of the pullover, wrong side together, then run that under the sewing machine. 

9: Now take the black fabric puffy paint, and draw dashed lines and a little triangle for GIR's nose a few inches above the top of the hood. Let dry.

10: Next, take your two halved styrofoam balls glue them on top of the hoodie using fabric glue. Let set. Then using the black fabric puffy paint, draw a large circle at the center of the ball, and a careful black outline around the balls.

11: Cut a tongue out of the pink felt, and using fabric glue stick it to the center top of the hoodie hanging down. Using black puffy paint, draw a center line on the tongue and let it dry.

12: Now GIR's ears pose a problem because they do stick up and is part of his charm. So we cut (by eye) the ears in the stiff felt (not the soft felt, the stiff squares). I added an inch on the bottom to fold down and make a surface to glue the ears to the hoodie. Then I glued pipe cleaners along the back of the ears and down to the inch flap, folding the pipe cleaner along with the tab of the felt. I let these dry overnight.

13: Next is GIR's zipper, which is a big part of his costume. The over sized zipper is kind of hilarious. I printed a zipper VERY large on a printer, like 8-10" long, glued it to some 1/2" foam core, drew over it with a sharpie and metallic marker, and cut it out. I also cut a long strip of sliver metallic fabric so that it fit nicely at the center of the pullover.

 14: I quickly made the black mittens and spats according to the pattern directions. I made sure my daughter also had a pair of warm and comfortable black pants to wear.

15: Using fabric glue, turn over the grey strip that is laying down the center of the pullover (the right side down), and fold the outside edges in and down, using the fabric glue. Then flip the strip over and glue it down the center of the pullover.

16: Using the black fabric paint again, draw a thin edge around the grey fabric strip. Then create a blocky zig zag pattern along the center. I did this by eye, using Internet reference of GIR's zipper.

17: Finally, I took a small rectangular piece of silver fabric and made a loop around the hole in the zipper, and with the same fabric glue, glued the top of the loop on the top of the grey strip along the middle of the pullover. I then hemmed the bottom to the length my daughter wanted and that's it! A costume of a costume of a silly robot. 

Phew. Never a dull Halloween around here!

RECIPE: Pumpkin Spice Fritters

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We've been getting bored with our breakfast repertoire. So I decided to throw caution-and my Weight Watchers tracker-to the wind, and made fritters. It was a special mommy daughter weekend after all, and that called for something special to kick start it into gear!

Yes. Puffy, oil drenched, golden, sweet, delicious fritters-speckled with pumpkin spices and wafting with an earthy pumpkin aroma.

These were amazing. And left overs? We had them, and I just warmed them in the oven the next day at a low 250˚. Once warmed, I then rerolled them in sugar to revive them a bit, and voila. Fritters for another morning!

You could have them with some pumpkin spice latte or other pumpkin spiced something that's flooding the market this fall. (It's getting a little ridiculous...actually, pumpkin spice Twinkies? Yeah. No. Just make these fritters and call it a day!)

Pumpkin Spice Fritters

3/4 to 1 cup of milk 
one large egg 
2 cups of flour 
2 tablespoons of caster sugar 
4 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon of salt 
1/4 cup melted butter 
1 teaspoon of vanilla 
3/4 cup pumpkin purée 
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice 
4 to 5 cups of canola oil 

In one bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt, set aside

In another bowl, whisk the egg with the sugar, melted butter, milk, vanilla, pumpkin purée and the pumpkin pie spice until well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

 Heat oil to 350°- use a candy thermometer to keep track of the heat. It's important to keep the oil at 350˚ to make sure the fritters are cooked through. 

Once oil is at the correct temperature, use a tablespoon or an ice cream scoop to scoop out some batter and plop it gently into the hot oil. Fritters will bubble up and use tongs to jostle the fritters in the oil so that they cook evenly until golden brown.

Let them drain on paper towels. Meanwhile mix 1/2-3/4 cups of sugar with a teaspoon of cinnamon in a bowl. 

Once the fritters are drained and are cool enough to handle, roll them while still slightly wet in the sugar-cinnamon mixture and serve warm.

RECIPE: Chicken, Vegetable and Rice Soup with Pastina

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It's comfort food season! A chill has settled into our part of the country and the leaves are changing. Soups are a perfect dinner for this time of year. The one issue with comfort food is that usually, its laden with calories. But this soup caught my eye because it had a great trick to thicken it with flavor yet keep it light. It's done by cooking some rice with some vegetables and pureeing it in a blender. Then adding the puree into the soup. It still has a splash of cream, but not as much as it would typically have. Also, chicken is delicately poached in the broth then pulled out. It made the chicken very tender and not dry.

My daughter slurped it right up, and we enjoyed dunking some multigrain bread in it, too. I froze the leftovers so we can enjoy it again soon.

Chicken, Vegetable and Rice Soup with Pastina
adapted from food network magazine April 2014 


4 cups of low sodium chicken broth 
3 stalks of celery, cut thinly to 1/4" slices 
Bag of pre-cut carrot coins, about 2 1/2 cups (about 5 carrots)
1 1/4 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts 
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper 
1/2 cup of white rice 
1 tablespoon of tomato paste 
14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained 
1 cup of frozen peas 
1/2 cup of heavy cream 
1/4 cup of dried parsley 


Combine the chicken broth, celery and all but 1/2 cup of the carrot coins in a large sauté pan with a cover. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Simmer until vegetables are beginning to soften. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the chicken, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Recover and gently simmer, flipping the chicken midway until just cooked through (about 18 minutes total.) You're basically poaching the chicken and flavoring the broth.

Remove the chicken after 18 minutes and bring it to a cutting board. Let cool slightly. Reserve broth in the pan. You may turn the heat off until you are ready to use it.

Meanwhile, combine 4 cups of water, rice, tomato paste, half the diced tomatoes and the remaining half a cup of chopped carrots in a sauce pan. Cover and bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the rice and carrots are tender. This takes about 15 minutes. Puree the rice mixture in a blender until smooth. Heat up the waiting broth in the sauté pan. Then whisk the rice mixture into the large sauté pan with the broth mixture until smooth and combined. Cook over medium low heat and add the peas, heavy cream and the remaining drained diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Then chop the chicken and return it to the soup and stir in the parsley. Adjust the seasoning.

Meanwhile cook some pastina according to package directions. Drain the pasta and ladle helpings into bowls then ladle the chicken soup on top of the pasta. Serve hot.
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