How To Make A Cereal Box Puppet (even if you have no craft supplies!) + an Ethel Merman Impression

I was gifted with 32 miniature boxes of cereal, which immediately threw me back into the summer vacations of my childhood. My mother used to pick up packs of miniature cereal boxes as a treat when we were at the lake. I didn't love it because of the cereal, though. I loved it because it meant I could make puppets out of the cereal boxes.

I have no idea if I made this up or if someone taught me how, but it turns out that it’s still a lot of fun 30 years later, even if you find out that you’re completely out of glue, construction paper, or any other serviceable craft supplies.
 

How To Make A Cereal Box Puppet
(even if you have no craft supplies!)

One: Get a miniature cereal box

Get yourself a miniature box of cereal. My cereal boxes came in a variety pack, so I chose to destroy a box of raisin bran, because bran turns my guts into cement and raisins are evil. If you hate the cereal inside the box you are destroying, too, feel free to take perverse pleasure in it. It’s not weird. Really. I just did it.

Two: Saw through the front and sides

Use a serrated knife to saw the box through the middle width-wise. Take care only to saw through the cardboard on the front and sides of the box, because you need the back side of the box to remain intact.

Three: Empty the box

Empty the box of all of its contents, including the plastic liner.

Four: Fold the box in half

Fold the box in half and press a tidy crease along the fold.

See? Potential!

Five: Paint the box or cover it in paper (or peanut butter)

This is where the project has the opportunity to go a little off the rails if you, like me, find out that your glue is ten years old, you’ve lost your construction paper somehow, and your markers and craft paints have all dried up.

Personally, I would suggest that you paint the box with craft paints or cover it with glue and paper. Being out of all of those things, though, I, of course, went the peanut butter route en lieu of glue.

And, because I am ever so resourceful, I, of course, decided to use the bran flakes en lieu of paper.

Are you still with me?

Six: Give your puppet a face

Now you’re ready to decorate your puppet with eyes, ears, hair, antlers, and whatever else you feel moved to use to create your character.

I found out that the bran flakes made gluing on extra features a little difficult, so I chose to settle for two eyes made out of the raisins. Really, at this point, I wasn’t making myself any promises. I was covered in peanut butter up to my wrists and had bran flakes stuck between my toes.

But it worked, and voilà! Birdie was born!

Seven: Let your puppet express itself

Birdie wanted to show off her Ethel Merman impression while singing a morbid song from her childhood, so I gave her the stage. She does go on a bit, and her Merman could use some work, but it’s worth the full two minutes, I swear. Her timing near the end is impeccable.

Take it away, Birdie!


The above entry's original version was published at Aiming Low in October 2011.

I Went to My First Corn Maze, and It Was A-maize-ing.

I have a now-secret life list, and one of the items on that list is to visit a corn maze.

I grew up primarily in cities, but both sides of my family, before my parents moved to the city, were farmers, and my family travelled north to Prince Albert National Park every summer, where I would pack sandwiches and disappear for hours by myself into the tamer edges of the woods. My heart and mind marry when I am surrounded by plant life and soil. I can't keep a houseplant alive for more than a couple of months, but drop me into a field, even one so manicured as a corn maze, and I become one.

I had the great honour of being invited along to this corn maze by Risa and her brilliant children, Gaia and Ever, and then we ran into Gaia's friend and her family, so we made a party of it. 

I wanted to wander quietly into the corn and lie down among the mushy, end-of-season cobs, just stare at the blue until the sun went down. I think the guy below was contemplating the same thing, because he stood out in the middle of the stalks and looked at the hills for a long time. I tracked his bald head as we wound around him.

But I couldn't run off across the prairie to become one with the earth, because kids! I almost never get to hang out with kids. Due to various issues of my own stemming from health and identity issues, I distanced myself from families with children for a number of years, but now I miss the drum of feet and sticky fingers and upturned faces and dramatic twists that I grew up with in a childhood home that doubled as a daycare. 

Kids are pretty cool.

Without kids around, I'm far less likely to do most of the following: we jumped on this giant, inflated tarp pillow, and we walked through the corn maze, and we went on a hayride,

and we watched the autumn sun slowly slant low over the fields,

and I dreamed about living in a hillside house painted red,

and I showed Ever how you can wave at each others' reflections in creeks,

and we pet a tiny horse,

and we let this sheep lick us after a happy neck rub. It turns out that being licked by an affectionate sheep is delightful.

I entertained the idea of sneaking off into the corn and going all unbathed wild woman living on berries and gophers for a few weeks, but I like a pillow when I sleep, and my skin breaks out if I don't use my Philosophy facial scrub, and I'm a cat lady who doesn't like to be away from her monsters, so I settled for a few last shots of pretty things on our way out to the car.

Plants dying in the middle of fall look more beautiful to me than new flowers in spring. There is something warm and established about them, no matter how ephemeral their crisp leaves and loosening seeds.

And that was my first time at a corn maze. It was a-maize-ing. Ba dum tsh.

Thank you, Risa, Gaia, and Ever!

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5 Random Facts About Me

My friend Rilla tapped me in a meme to share 5 random facts about myself, and I say yes when Rilla asks me to do stuff, so here goes:

my forehead and night hair

my forehead and night hair

One.

I had a near death experience at the age of nine that wrecked my ability to hold onto religious belief but confirmed for me that we do have some form of continued existence after death. This is not a spiritual idea, it's just what happens in the same way that we have all been born to get here. Belief changes nothing. This can make my atheism a complicated creature to discuss.

And that's about all I will say about that for now, because I haven't figured out how to write about that experience yet.

Two.

I like putting IKEA furniture together. I really like putting IKEA furniture together. I love matching up the list of pieces with what arrived in the box. I love turning the instructions over and around to figure out what the hell they're going on about. I love the little Allen wrenches that come in the little plastic baggies full of fittings.

If I plan and remain patient, everything comes together, orderly, perfectly aligned, and smelling faintly of sweet wood.

Three.

I used to hate tea. I couldn't comprehend why someone would want the watery, ineffectiveness of tea when one could have the rich, meatiness of coffee to get them going. And then I met Irish Breakfast Cream tea from McQuarries Tea & Coffee Merchants. Now I think about it like I think about chocolate cake.

(By the way, this is not an ad. I just really like Irish Breakfast Cream tea.)

Four.

Last night I dreamed that there was a taxidermied squirrel on wheels hiding giant, dehydrated raspberries for winter. Aidan and the squirrel had developed a strong friendship that was making Aidan question the value of human love as well as living anywhere but San Francisco.

This dream is only notable because it is the first vivid dream I have both had and remembered in months, and it is actually a sign of better mental health. The truth is weird.

Five.

I wear Aidan's clothes when he's not home, because it makes me feel close to him.
Thankfully, marriage makes me look more like a wife than a creepy stalker with a fetish.


And now, as per the rules, I must tap five of you to share five random facts. Have at it Suebob, Alexis Hinde, Eden Riley, Susan Goldberg, and Vikki Reich!


UPDATE: They're doing it! They're doing it!