Monthly Archives: October 2013

Awaiting the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary? Do this now:

Tardis Pumpkin

That’s supposed to be a TARDIS pumpkin, but you knew that, right? I’m just catching up on the last few Doctor Who episodes, and just in time for Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor in 3D, the 50th anniversary special event showing in select theaters nationwide. I already have my tickets in hand! I’m a just teeny bit worried, to be honest, that I may miss some references to classic Doctor Who canon, since I’ve only been along for the ride since the new series began in 2005. Thankfully, Kyle Anderson has been hard at work over Nerdist, writing the Companion’s Companion, a perfect way to completely catch up on all of the classic Doctor Who story lines from every season without needing to cram in a quarter of a century’s worth of TV shows in under a month. If we read just one or two of these posts a day, we’ll be totally caught up to speed, just in the nick of time. Want to join me? Okay, now….RUN!

Previously on Secret Dad Society:

Homemade Doctor Who and Dalek Costumes 

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Homemade Doctor Who and Dalek Costumes

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The Cardboard Keep has toppled. It wasn’t due to poor construction, or even an enemy invasion. No, the Cardboard Keep was pillaged by my own two hands, as evidenced by the quantity of paper cuts.

A bit of background: It was last Friday, and I had just learned that my local comic book store was participating in Halloween ComicFest, which included a costume contest among other fun things. I was brainstorming costume ideas for the kids throughout the day, with no clear winners coming to mind. It was while I was on hold, buying movie tickets to the much anticipated Doctor Who 50th anniversary special event in 3D, that these two thoughts melded so beautifully in my mind. Indeed, the kids will go as the Doctor and a Dalek!

The Doctor was a piece of cake. I had already made the 4th Doctor’s scarf, and the rest of the outfit was easily pulled from our closets within minutes. What I didn’t have on hand was a stockpile of cardboard and other materials for the Dalek. If I was going to pull this off I had to make haste. I ransacked the place for materials: a metal pot lid, plastic easter eggs, a honey stick, a plastic serving spoon, a plastic bowl, a whisk, broken lamp parts, and a plastic salt and pepper shaker set.

Dalek partsFinally, the Cardboard Keep had to come down. I tried not to think of it as destruction, but more like a metamorphosis (try leaning on that analogy with a two and five-year-old). A lot of hot glue and the majority of my weekend later, and the costumes were complete.

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IMG_5693 IMG_5682We didn’t even make it into the store and someone stopped us for a picture, which made the kids as proud as peacocks. We’re anxiously waiting to hear who won!

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Sudsy. The Other Friendly Ghost

Soap Carving

I finally tackled an easy project that I’ve long wanted to do: soap carving. I figured that Halloween would be a perfect time, with ghosts, skulls, and skeletons providing the perfect inspiration for my white slab of Dove soap.

You really don’t need much at all to get started with your own soap creations, just grab a bar of soap and some clay sculpting tools (orangewood sticks used for manicures are said to work well, but I didn’t have any on hand).

Dove Bar

I learned that it is extremely important to go slow, removing just a little bit of soap at a time, in order to prevent breaking. Some people sketch out their ideas on paper and then use the template to score the designs directly onto the soap. You can also use a vice to hold the soap and a coping saw to cut out the basic shape. I didn’t try either technique, choosing instead to forego proper planning and simply jump right in.

Ghost soap

It didn’t turn out so bad considering I was making it up as I went along. If you keep the original soap box and repackage the finished project, perhaps adding some wrapping paper and a bow, your handmade piece of art could make a great gift for that special someone. If you make your own soap carvings, send me a picture of your finished products and I’ll post them!

Just Enough Fun

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My family had a blast at Hershey’s Chocolate World last weekend. We went for the S’mores Campfire Party, an outdoor event held every fall at Hershey’s Chocolate World. This year it lasts from October 15-November 3rd. It’s chock full of fun activities like live music, scary stories, and of course, a bonfire for making s’mores. Best of all, admission is free (s’mores kits cost $3, which also includes hot cocoa or chocolate milk).

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During the entertainment, the kids had front row seats atop hay bales, while camp chairs were scattered about for parents. My kids loved making the s’mores, although to our surprise, they didn’t want to eat any their hard work! Instead, they ate the graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate individually.

IMG_3826Inside Chocolate World there were even more activities, including the free Trick-Or-Treat Adventure. Children 12 and under receive a candy bag and have to make their way around to a few scattered stations. Costumes were encouraged, but not required, which was great because we hadn’t come prepared anyway.

Of course, no trip to Chocolate World is complete without taking the tour ride at least once. This has become one of their absolute favorite things to do. My son is such a Chocolate World fanatic that he randomly yells “Chocolate World!” whenever he gets excited, in place of more standard cries of joy, like “hooray” or “yippee”.

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Upon exiting the tour, we came around behind the cookie shop (another one of our ritual stops) which overlooks the kitchen area. While peeking down into the magical cookie baking area I noticed an infographic intended for employees.

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With some closer inspection, and with the help of my camera zoom, I saw that it was a guide to coating cupcakes with sprinkles. “Too much fun, not enough fun, and just enough fun.” My wife and I thought this was pretty cool, even though we strongly disagreed with the general premise of the poster. I mean, how can you possibly have too much fun when it comes to a cupcake!? Can you guess which one my kids wanted to eat?

Attack of the Killer Sweet Potoatoes

IMG_3426Over the last few years, my kids and I have dabbled in gardening. This season started on a nearly catastrophic note when severe thunderstorm winds launched our seed starter box off the patio table and into the air, sprinkling our seedlings across our patio.  These events rendered my hand-drawn diagram completely useless, and forced us to plant our seedlings in a completely random layout. We dubbed it the Garden of Mysteries.

Oh, well. All’s well that ends well. We soon had cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and a variety of herbs popping up everywhere. Some gardening highlights include making our first batch of real homemade tomato sauce, as well as some hot pepper relish from our cute little cayenne peppers. What we grew most obsessed about as the gardening season progressed were the sweet potatoes, even though my kids won’t eat them. I, myself, have been really enjoying eating sweet potatoes for lunch with just a some butter and cinnamon. Yum!

The kids have no interest sharing a sweet potato lunch with me, but their curiosity grew as we tended to the garden. This was due to the very quickly growing vines and the large mound that became the focal point of the garden, commanding any onlooker’s attention. We could hardly stand the anticipation, and dug into the soil when the leaves first began to yellow, a tell-tale sign the potatoes were ready to harvest.

We placed our bets on how many sweet potatoes we would find, and after taking turns loosening the soil, we finally pulled out this:

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Now, I’m not sure whether it was something we did, or whether our garden was situated over an old meteor crash site that contaminated our backyard soil with alien matter. Whatever the case, this was the most freakish looking vegetable that I’ve ever seen! Not in the slightest does did it resemble the sweet potatoes that I had grown to love.

We brought them inside and set them on the counter, where they sat, untouched, for almost two weeks. It became a conversation piece, not to mention the butt of many bad jokes. We even debated the winner of a hypothetical Alien Sweet Potato versus Swamp Thing match.

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The day finally came where my wife gave me an ultimatum (it’s me or the potato), and since I couldn’t work up the nerve to  prepare them in my normal manner,  I decided to try making something special and fun for the kids – sweet potato chips! One nice thing about the strange shape of these potatoes was that were perfect for slicing into small chips. I tossed them in olive oil with some salt and rosemary and baked them until lightly browned. Everyone, even the kids, enjoyed the sweet potato chips.

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In the end, what started as the stuff garden nightmares are made of became a culinary miracle. The question is, can we recreate the same gardening magic next year?

The Unicorn Horn

Amera

My daughter was thrilled to pick up a “unicorn” for a whopping fifty cents at a yard sale this weekend. Wasting no time, I felt it my fatherly duty to explain to my her that, without a horn, it was technically just a pretty white horse.

Pretty White Horse

My daughter was having none of it. Meanwhile, I realized this to be a parenting blunder that could have easily been avoided if I’d just kept my stupid mouth shut. Next, just to seal my fate, I arranged a quick check of the Barbie of Swan Lake DVD cover, which further confirmed my daughter’s worst fear: Daddy was right. She had, in fact, bought just another pretty white horse.

There was no need to fear, however, because I’d already devised a plan to get myself out of this predicament and to make all parties happy. I had a stash of polymer clay sitting in the craft drawer for several months now, without an ounce inspiration for how to use it. A few globs of clay, a small screw, and fifteen minutes in the oven, and Amera was born (If my memory serves me right, the unicorn in the Barbie movie was named Lila. Not that it matters – I’m partial to Amera).

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