My daughter Shelby LOVES horror movies and recently she discovered the cult classic “Donnie Darko“.  Up to this point she was undecided as to what she wanted to be for Halloween but after seeing the movie she was determined to be Donnie Darko aka Frank the Rabbit. So, it was up to me to figure out a way to find a Donnie Darko Costume we could afford.

After doing some online searches I realized that I was NOT going to pay $160 for a Frank Donnie Darko Costume.  I also was NOT going to pay $60 for a Donnie Darko Frank Mask.  I mean really?  Who buys these things?

I did some more searching to see if I could find a DIY type of thing on how to make a Frank Mask but all of the ones I found were just too detailed, time consuming and expensive.  Sigh. I just needed a SIMPLE plan because I am just not an artsy-craftsy type of person, you know?

I called my oldest daughter, Louise, who has done a TON of costuming and asked her to brainstorm with me and this is what we came up with.

It cost me a total of $11 or so. It took about 3 hours for the first steps, then let it dry overnight.  The next day took about an hour to finish it.

Most of the stuff came from the Dollar tree or we had it at home already.  The cloth, fur, gloves and puffy paint came from JoAnn Fabrics.  This was cheaper to make than some crappy costume from one of the “mart” stores!

Supplies (some are not in the picture as I realized we needed them later in the process):

Needle nosed pliers & wire clippers COST:  0 we already had them

silicone headband (black) COST:  $.33  from Dollar Tree

grey gloves COST:  $1 at JoAnn Fabrics

school glue (like elmers) COST :  0  we already had it

three black plastic forks COST: 0 we had some

two wire coat hangers COST: 0 we had these

1/3 yard of black shiny wet look cloth COST:  $1.66 at JoAnn Fabrics

duct tape COST:  $1 at Dollar Tree

white puffy paint COST:  $1.29 at JoAnn Fabrics

two white plastic spoons COST:  0 we had some

newspaper COST:  0 we had some

clear tape (just regular stuff – like scotch tape) COST:  0 we had it

black thread, white thread and a sewing needle COST: 0 we had it

binder clips or clothes pins COST: 0 we had it

exacto knife or some sharp object to make precise cuts with COST: 0 we had it

phillips head screwdriver COST: 0 we had it

1/3 yard white fur COST:  $2.99

two plastic zombie masks COST:  $2 at Dollar Tree

black electrical tape COST:  0 we had some

black leggings COST:  0 my daughter already had some

dark grey hoodie type sweatshirt COST:  0 she borrowed mine

HERE IS WHAT I DID:

Sit the two masks inside each other so you have a double layer of mask.  This will make the Frank Mask stronger.  Cut the wire hangers so that you have two long pieces of wire.  Bend them into the shape you want and then make another bend at about 1 inch from the opposite end of the wire.  This 1 inch bend is going to be taped to the inside of the mask in order to attach the ears to the mask (See picture below)

After securing the wire to the mask with either electrical tape or duct tape, flip it back over so you are looking at the front.

Now you need to use the newspaper to build up the forehead and ears of the Donnie Darko Frank Mask.  The easiest way is to fold it into the shape you want around the wire and then use small pieces of tape to hold it in place for the moment.

Once you get the ears and forehead the way you want them, you need to cover the ENTIRE mask and ears with duct tape (BUT DO NOT COVER THE EYE HOLES).  Make sure that when covering the ears you use some pieces of duct tape on the BACK side at the bottom of the ears to create some support when attaching them to the Frank Mask.

Take the plastic spoons and cut the long ends off so that you are just left with the rounded pieces.  Place these over the BOTTOM 3/4 parts of the eye holes that are already in the Donnie Darko mask.  This should leave a slits at the top of the eye holes that you will be able to see thru.  Use regular clear tape around the edges of the spoon parts to attach them to the mask and then hold it up to your face to make sure you can see.  If not, just keep replacing the spoon parts until you get them in the right position so you can see.

Take a screwdriver or other straight object and poke thru the duct tape to make nose holes.

Once you are done with this step the mask should look like the picture below and the ears should NOT be loose or wiggling around anymore.  The whole thing should be pretty sturdy and the ears should stand up fine.  If not, go back and use more duct tape.

Now we all know that Franks Mask was silver in the movie, but for some reason everyone thinks the Donnie Darko rabbit mask  is black or dark grey.  So, get your black cloth and you are going to cut one piece big enough to cover the face part with and then use the remaining cloth to cut into two pieces, one for each ear. MAKE SURE TO CUT THE CLOTH INTO LARGER PIECES THAN YOU THINK YOU WILL NEED!  You want to have “extra” to wrinkle and make sure it covers the entire mask.  Sit those to the side.

Dump your bottle of glue into a bowl and mix it with an equal amount of water.  Mix it well.

Take one piece of cloth for the ears and soak it with the glue mixture, then wring it out.  Drape the cloth over one ear from the front.  Make sure to wrinkle it !  Flip the Donnie Darko mask over and just loosely sew the pieces of cloth together so that it stays on the ears.  Use black thread and don’t worry about it being perfect.  Then repeat the same process on the other ear.

Next, soak and wring out the cloth for the face, drape it over the mask and make sure it is also wrinkled.  It is okay to cover the eye and nose holes.  Once you have the piece of face cloth on there, where you want it, fold the excess fabric under the mask and use some binder clips or clothes pins to hold it in place around the edges.  Make sure the fabric wrinkles are where you want them because they will dry this way!

Now you are just going to let it dry overnight.

The next day, take an exacto knife or a tiny pair of scissors with a sharp tip and cut out around the eyes so that you are now able to see the white and so that the eye hole to see thru is exposed.  Cut out tiny amounts at a time so as not to expose the duct tape underneath. Also, be careful not to cut thru the clear tape that is holding the eye whites into the Frank mask.

Take a screwdriver and poke thru the nose holes again (from the front side of the mask).  If you want to create a mouth hole, now is the time, but I did not do that.

 

Take the clips off the mask and cut off most of the excess cloth on the inside of the mask but be sure to leave a little edge of fabric.  Take some electrical tape and go over the edge of the fabric and secure it to the mask from the INSIDE of the mask.  This is to trim it and make a smoother surface against your face and also to make sure the fabric doesn’t come off.

Get the silicone headband and cut it so it is one long strip of silicone elastic.  Take a steak knife or pair of scissors and poke a hole on either side of the mask .  You can just tie the headband onto the mask thru these holes and it will work fine.  Just make sure that you adjust it to fit your head correctly before tying it and cutting off the excess.

Flip the mask back over and use the puffy paint to paint the teeth onto the mask.  Let dry overnight.

To complete the Frank Donnie Darko Costume, I took the black plastic forks and broke off the tines.  Then we put those into the grey gloves from the inside, pushing them thru the fingertips of the gloves.  They stayed in place just fine on their own.

For the “costume”, take the dark grey hoodie and just cut a piece of the white fur as big as you would like and LOOSELY stitch the white fur onto the front of the hoodie.  No expert sewing skills needed as long as you use white thread you will not be able to see the stitching.

So, for the final Donnie Darko Costume you wear the black leggings or pants with the hoodie and gloves and the mask.  Hey, it’s not perfect but it worked fine and my daughter loved it!

 

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It used to be that I kept the few (maybe two?) essential charger cords that we used in one drawer in the kitchen.  Well recently that number has gone from two to 22 (not really but it seems like it!) and the cords just get to be a tangled mess.  I looked into getting a charger cord organizer, but I really don’t like spending money on that sort of stuff and we do not need all the cords out all the time plus we don’t have that much counter space to begin with.

I thought about it for a few days then came up with a simple and totally cheap solution.  Zipper bags.  Yep, zipper bags. You know, the plastic sandwich type ones with the sliding zipper lock?  Those!  I got a box of 15 for $1 (one dollar) at the Dollar Tree. I made sure to get the one with the sliding lock so that they were easy to use for the kiddos too.  I put each different charger cord into its own bag and labeled it with a Sharpie (I love sharpies!) and dropped the bags into the same drawer I had been using.

Simple. Cheap. Easy. Done!

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As a mother to four children I can easily understand that the decision about a kids allowance is difficult.  Should kids get an allowance?  On the one hand, kids chores should be done no matter if there is money tied to doing them or not.  Chores are a responsibility and part of being a family.  Everyone has things that they must do for the household, no matter if they get paid or not.  I totally agree with that point of view.  However, I recently changed my mind and here is why:  there is logic to giving allowances.

Out of my four children, two are still at home with me (my 12 year old daughter Shelby and my 8 year old son Ben).  I recently started giving the kids allowance ($5 each per week) because it accomplished several things, all of which are beneficial:

  • It makes them eager to do their chores:  they now understand if they don’t do the work, they don’t get paid or they lose money from their pay.  This is a good basic concept for Ben to learn early! Because he has a learning disability, sometimes it takes longer for things to really take hold for him.
  • It makes saying “No” a LOT easier: “Mom can I buy a book from the book fair?”  “Can I get some candy from the store?” “Can I get a new toy?” – I can freely say NO to all those requests unless the child wants to pay for the items themselves with their allowance!  This has saved me a lot of money!
  • It lightens my chore load : they do some of the things around my house that I had previously done all myself.
  • It holds them responsible:  “Mom can I go outside to play?”  Only if you have done your chores.
  • They learn how to keep house:  If they learn these skills now, they are more likely to take care of their home when they eventually move out on their own.
  • They are learning to save: Ben saved his money until he has enough for the Lego Batman 2 Wii game (he also made sure to use a coupon!) and Shelby saved her money to go buy some new clothes at the mall (she did not spend one cent of her money once we were there – she decided the clothes were too expensive and not worth it!).  When they ask for a large ticket item, I tell them to start saving their money.  If it is important to them, they save for it!

In addition to chores and an allowance, I have recently started a “Kids Cook” night.  One night every week, the kiddos are in charge of cooking dinner and making dessert.  Since I plan my menu in advance, they decide on a few dishes and desserts they would like to make that month and I put them on the menu.  Again, this lightens my load and teaches them life skills and responsibility.

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