Lego Marvel Sets Not Only Your Children Will Enjoy, You Will As Well!

If there’s one thing everyone knows, it’s that the Marvel Universe will have you wishing that superheroes were real and although we know that’s not a possibility, you can try to bring them to life with the help of Lego. If you’re the type of person that likes taking on side projects, finishing an entire Lego set can be quite rewarding, but when you’re creating Marvel characters, it makes it even more fun. No matter if you’re looking for a gift for your kids or if you want a new activity to do during your downtime, you should definitely check out the following Lego Marvel sets.

1. Lego Marvel Super Heroes Avengers: Infinity War Hulkbuster

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Avengers: Infinity War The Hulkbuster Smash-Up 76104 Building Kit (375 Piece)

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The Lego Marvel Super Heroes Avengers: Infinity War Hulkbuster gives you the ability to craft one of Tony Stark’s most interesting developments, the Hulkbuster. You’ll also have access to a functioning cockpit, gun turret, and bashing arm function, not to mention it’s also equipped with a ball shooter and a special Infinity Stone compartment.

In the package, you’ll receive four different figures from Infinity War including Proxima Midnight, Falcon, Bruce Banner, and an Outrider as well. With an average of 375 pieces, this particular set is recommended for kids between the ages of 7 and 14 and the kids are sure to appreciate how playable the Lego Marvel Super Heroes Avengers: Infinity War Hulkbuster is.

2. Lego Marvel Super Heroes Avengers: Infinity War Thanos: Ultimate Battle

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Avengers: Infinity War Thanos: Ultimate Battle 76107 Building Kit

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As one of the most iconic scenes in the entire Infinity War movie, your kids will love being able to put together the Thanos: Ultimate Battle scene to help them get excited about the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War film. In the set, you’ll be able to build the Guardians’ ship and it comes with plenty of functional features including a rear compartment, storage room, adjustable wings, an opening cockpit, and stud shooters.

When you buy it you’ll receive four figurines which include a big Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet, Iron Man, Star-Lord, and Gamora. The entire set has 674 pieces and recommended for ages 8 to 14, and the entire set is compatible with the other Lego Marvel Super Heroes Avengers: Infinity War sets.

3. Lego Marvel Super Heroes Avengers: Infinity War Sanctum Sanctorum Showdown

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Avengers- Infinity War Sanctum Sanctorum Showdown 76108 Building Kit

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If you’ve always been a fan of Doctor Strange, imagine having the ability to create your very own Sanctum Sanctorum which is a three-level building in New York City. Within the building, you’ll also find there’s a pizzeria, Peter Parker’s apartment with exploding window exploders, and one of the Infinity Stones.

Aside from the functioning features, you’ll also receive five different Infinity War figures including a large Cull Obsidian, Iron Spider-Man, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and Ebony Maw. With 1004 pieces, you can recreate some of the most compelling and suspenseful scenes from Infinity War, and this set is recommended for kids between 8 and 14.

4. Lego Marvel Super Heroes Rhino Face-Off

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Rhino Face-Off by the Mine 76099 Building Kit

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Ideal for the Black Panther fans out there, the Lego Marvel Super Heroes Rhino Face-Off is another phenomenal scene that you can recreate with the help of Lego. You’ll not only be able to build Black Panther’s personal rhino with included stud shooters, but you can also create the stellar mine cart with a functioning tipping motion. You’ll also love the bright vibranium nuggets that will engage the track to explode to knock the cart over.

There aren’t as many figurines included with the Lego Marvel Super Heroes Rhino Face-Off as the other Lego Marvel sets on this list, however, there are far more functional pieces that make the set fun to play with. In terms of figurines, you will receive Killmonger, Black Panther, and Okoye with a spear.

There are 229 pieces with the Lego Marvel Super Heroes Rhino Face-Off, which makes this the perfect set for younger kids aged between 6 and 12 and all of the pieces are also compatible with every other Lego set on the market.

5. Lego Super Heroes Captain America Jet Pursuit

Lego Super Heroes Captain America Jet Pursuit

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Who wouldn’t love to have a great display of Captain America to show off to their friends and to add to other Marvel Lego sets that they may have in their home? The Lego Super Heroes Captain America Jet Pursuit is equally as fun to play with as it is fun to build as it only has 160 pieces, which won’t take up too much of your time and the kids won’t lose interest.

Equipped with dual disc shooters, a functioning cockpit, and mini figures that include Super-Adaptoid, Ms. Marvel, and Captain America, there are plenty of great features you’re sure to love.

6. Lego Super Heroes ATM Heist Battle

LEGO Super Heroes ATM Heist Battle 76082 Building Kit

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Finally, a list of Marvel Lego wouldn’t be complete without a special Spider-Man set that was surely a showstopper during the movie. You’ll be able to build the bank which has a variety of easy-to-use functions such as exploding windows, opening doors, Lego cash pieces, two ATMs, and a fire hydrant. You’ll also receive 3 mini figurines including two masked robbers and Spider-Man himself.

Once built, the Lego Super Heroes Captain America Jet Pursuit also has different weapons included such as 3 of Spider-Man’s power blasts and a hybrid-tech chain gun from the robbers used to try to drag the ATM out of the bank. If you’re looking for a play set that your kids will love to add to their other Marvel scenes, this is one of the best on this list as there are plenty of usable features that are perfect for play.

Final Thoughts

Lego is something that has been incredibly popular ever since its creation and if you’re looking for a way to enjoy some downtime and build scenes from your favorite comics, all of these Marvel Lego kits are a great choice. From Doctor Strange to Spider-Man, there’s something for everyone, and you can guarantee that there are dozens of other kits that you can get your hands on to create your very own at-home Marvel Universe.

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Our Favorite Christmas Tree Ideas: Let’s Do Something Unusual This Year!

As the years go on, people are always looking for ways to put a spin on traditional elements of the holidays and this year, we say it’s time to try something unusual and unique in replacement of a traditional Christmas tree. There are hundreds of different interesting crafts and projects that you can embark on to give your home a little bit of extra flair this holiday season and even if you don’t opt to forego a traditional tree, you can still use these fantastic projects to add more decorations to your home.

 

  1. Chalkboard tree

This is a particularly great idea if you have kids that love drawing or that have always been interested in having their own Christmas tree in their room. Instead of putting up a regular tree that you decorate with ornaments, why not draw a Christmas tree that your whole family can contribute to?

 

Step 1: Gather your supplies

First, you’re going to have to get all of the supplies that you’ll need for the job, which includes chalkboard paint, different colored chalk, and paint brushes. You’re also going to want to choose a wall in your house that you can paint.

 

Step 2: Painting the wall

You’re now going to want to use the chalkboard paint to paint the entire wall or a section of the wall depending on your preferences. Make sure that you follow the instructions on the can to make sure it can thoroughly dry before you start drawing.

 

Step 3: Drawing and decorating the tree

Once the paint has dried, you can then use the chalk to construct an outline of the tree and to design your very own ornaments. The best part about this idea is that you can easily erase any mistakes that you make and you won’t have to worry about kids or pets knocking ornaments off onto the floor.

 

  1. Printable Christmas trees

Another task that is great for kids or smaller homes without enough space for a tree is a printable Christmas tree. It’s a little more thorough than the chalkboard wall, however, it’s not a permanent fixture in your home and can easily be stored after the holidays have concluded.

 

Step 1: Gather your materials

There are several things that you’re going to need for this project, including Velcro stickers, printed ornaments, colored pencils (or markers), and a Christmas tree template. Depending on the size of tree you want to construct, you may have to visit a special printing establishment in order to have the perfect sized template.

 

Step 2: Attach the Velcro

Before you start decorating, the first thing you’re going to have to do is attach the Velcro to the ornaments and the tree template, leaving the other half of the Velcro untouched.

 

Step 2: Place the tree template

Now, it’s time to take your Christmas tree template and find the perfect place for you to tape it on the wall. We recommend using any type of tape that has proven to not pull paint off the wall, however, you can also use sticky tack to affix the template so it’s easy to remove.

 

Step 3: Choosing ornament placements

You’re going to want to pick all of the perfect places for hanging your ornaments and by using the other half of the Velcro, stick it in the locations where you’re going to want to attach your decorations.

 

Step 4: Decorate

As the most exciting part of the project, use the colored pencils or markers to fill in the ornaments with colors of your choosing and then once they are completed, affix them to the Velcro pieces on the tree. What we love the most about a Christmas tree template is that your kids can easily remove and rearrange ornaments as they see fit.

 

  1. Book Christmas Tree

Are you someone who has always had an affinity for reading but has never found a purpose for books you’ve finished? Well, it’s time to pull your old books out of storage as a book Christmas tree is the perfect way to show off your interests and to create something unique and interesting in your home. The one thing we love about this idea is that it helps to add to the aesthetic and appeal of your interior decorating during the holiday season and it will surely be a conversation starter with all of your guests.

 

Step 1: Collect the books you need

Depending on your personal preference, you can either use all of the books that you have in your collection or you can purchase books that have a specific color or size. We prefer the idea of using what you have as it’s not only cost effective, but it also makes the tree far more personal.

 

Step 2: Arrange the books

Now, you’re going to want to start with the bottom layer and lie the books flat so that the top corner of the spine is touching the bottom corner of the book beside it and choose the diameter that you think would fit perfectly in the space. You can then add in the other layers of the tree, making sure that you follow the same pattern until you get to a single book on top.

 

Step 3: Decorating the tree

If you want to go for a more minimalistic approach, at this point, all you have to do is drape Christmas lights along the books to add an extra flair to the tree. We also love the idea of putting a traditional star on top of the top book or a natural resource such as a pinecone.

 

Final Thoughts

As long as you are willing to get a little creative, there are plenty of different ways that you can revolutionize the way that you decorate for Christmas. No matter if you have limited space in your living quarters or if you’re someone who has never been interested in the traditional aspects of the holiday season, these three fantastic projects will not only help you to make personal Christmas decorations but ones that will have friends and family members talking all year.

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The 10 Movie Musicals That Should be On Your Holiday Movie List!

The holidays are probably the only regular time of the year when family and friends gather together. It’s a time to catch up and see people who may live hundreds of miles away. It’s also a time for shared experiences, like going for walks or eating a meal, or watching a favorite movie. Nowadays, it has become increasingly rare for people to view movies or television programs and have a shared experience.

The holidays allow us to turn the clock back and enjoy a time from our childhood when everyone would get together and watch and enjoy a movie as a group. What better way to relive those memories than to pop some corn and snuggle up to watch a movie musical. We’ve picked out ten of the best movie musicals that you can sing along with, and help recreate that ‘feel-good’ holiday moment from your youth.

1. My Fair Lady (1964)

My Fair Lady (1964)

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The musical stars Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway and Wilfred Hyde-White. The movie is based on a stage play by George Bernard Shaw called Pygmalion, which is about a lowly London flower girl, Eliza Doolittle played by Hepburn, who wants to better herself, and takes speech lessons from Professor Higgins played by Rex Harrison. The speech coach boasts he can pass her off as a duchess within six months, and so begins the battle of wills between Eliza and Higgins.

Along the way, we are treated to some perennial song favorites, and some lively dialog taken straight from Shaw’s play. The original play was written as an attack on the British class system, and the undertones are still there in the musical, but they don’t overshadow the essentials that this is a gentle underplayed love story. Audrey Hepburn didn’t do the singing as her voice was overdubbed by Marni Nixon, who had already sung for Natalie Wood in West Side Story, and Deborah Kerr in the King and I. Even so, Hepburn owns the movie with her natural beauty and elegance.

It’s more than a hundred years since the play was first produced, and sixty years since it was turned into a musical. However, the themes of nescient feminism and the folly of a class system still ring true today and make the musical more than just a collection of great tunes.

2. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

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Some people say Singin’ In The Rain, is not just one of the greatest musicals ever made but is also without exception one of the best movies ever made. Be that as it may, it’s one of the greatest watches for the whole family. When you consider that only one of the songs in the musical was specially written for it, and when made MGM reused old sets and props, it doesn’t look or feel as if it were second-hand in any way. Quite the contrary, the stars Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and then-newcomer Debbie Reynolds bring vibrancy and vitality to the screen that had never been before or possibly since. The young Debbie Reynolds has her work cut out to keep up with the seasoned professionals Kelly and O’Connor.

The song and dance numbers are some of the best every photographed. Donald O’Connor’s acrobatic ‘Make ‘em Laugh’ number is only topped by the balletic Gene Kelly in his tour de force performance of the title number ‘Singin’ In The Rain’. And what of the plot you may ask? Well, it’s a nicely contrived tale of silent movie stars coming to terms with the talkies. Gene Kelly’s character Don Lockwood is romantically linked on screen and off the screen with his co-star Lina Lamont, only to have the partnership fall apart when Lina’s grating New York accent fails to win over the fans. In steps Debbie Reynolds’ character Kathy Selden to provide the sweet voice that can be dubbed.

All is revealed in a finale when Lina has to sing to a crowd, with Kathy behind a curtain. As the song gets underway, the curtain falls, and the ruse is uncovered. Needless to say, the guy gets the girl in the end, and everyone lives happily ever after, well maybe not Lina, but by the time the movie ends, we don’t really care about her.

3. Mamma Mia (2008)

Mamma Mia (2008)

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When a stage musical sells 30 million tickets, you know there is an audience. So, after record-breaking runs in London, New York, and many other cities around the world, it does not surprise that the hit musical was turned into a movie. Rather than starting with a story, the musical set out to create a story around the songs of Swedish pop group ABBA.

The songs were already well known; it was just about contriving a story that would link them all together. The premise turns out to be just as dreamlike as most musicals. Donna played by Meryl Streep is running a holiday hotel on a Greek island. Her daughter Sophie, played by Amanda Seyfried is about to get married, and she invites the three men who could be her father to the wedding. The arrival of Donna’s former lovers, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, and Pierce Brosnan turns the small island world upside down, not to mention Donna’s plans for the wedding.

What little there is in the story doesn’t really matter as the songs keep on coming, driving the films energy and exuberance. Shot on the Greek island of Skopelos, the idyllic, sun-drenched locations add to the movie’s vibrancy. That shot of Mediterranean sunshine is what everyone needs on a cold gray winter’s day.

4. Oklahoma! (1955)

Oklahoma! (1955)

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Right from the opening shot of Oklahoma! you know you’re in for something special. The Rogers and Hammerstein stage musical was given the Hollywood treatment to showcase a new widescreen 70mm format called Todd-AO. That’s why watching it again at home on a modern high definition flat screen TV makes so much sense. The richness of the color and the sound come through so much better than it was first small screen appearance back in 1970. The story is based around two cowboys in turn of the century Oklahoma, and the courtship of their sweethearts.

Of course, nothing goes exactly to plan with baddies trying to steal the girl. The songs are classics, and I dare anyone to say they won’t be humming ‘Oh What a Lovely Morning’ when they get up the next day. Unlike many stage to movie adaptations, Oklahoma! Sticks closely to what audiences would have seen in the theater. Nobody will say that this is a perfect movie or even a perfect musical, but what everyone will agree is that it has a feel good factor that can’t be beaten.

5. Grease (1978)

Grease (1978)

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Nobody is going to say Grease is the best musical ever. The acting is not particularly wonderful, with a couple of notable exceptions, and the direction can be pedestrian at times, nevertheless the package works. The nostalgia for the 1950s is something that has transcended the 1970s and is just as vivid today as it was when the movie was made. The story centers around the newest student at a high school in Southern California.

The squeaky-clean Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) has transferred from Australia and she and greaser Danny (John Travolta) have a summer romance, never to meet again. But as the new school year starts the two are thrust back together, which plays havoc with Danny’s tough guy image. The on-off relationship between the two makes for some great songs and dance routines. If there is one major flaw in the movie in that all the seventeen-year-olds look at least ten years older. Maybe that adds to the idyll of wanting to return to a youth were things were much simpler. T

ravolta comes across as a modern-day Elvis Presley, whereas Olivia Newton-John shines as the demure Sandy, but has a harder time being the vamp Sandy at the end of the movie, even though she had to be sewn into the tight pants she wears for the climax. It may be kitsch, it may be overblown in parts, but Grease stands out for its memorable sing-a-long songs.

6. Moulin Rouge (2001)

Moulin Rouge (2001)

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In its own gorgeously brash way Moulin Rouge re-wrote the movie musical style book. Australian director Baz Luhrmann created a vibrant, sparky musical uniquely filled with pop tunes. Moulin Rouge tells the story of writer Christian, played by Ewan McGregor, who travels to Bohemian Paris and falls in with the group of eccentrics including Toulouse Lautrec.

He becomes beguiled by Satine, played by Nicole Kidman, a singer and courtesan at the famous Moulin Rouge. Satine keeps a secret from Christian as he falls deeper and deeper in love with her. While the film is set in the 1890s, the music is straight out of the 1980s with songs from artists such as Madonna, Elton John, the Police, and Queen. The film is wonderfully colorful, and is reminiscent of the Technicolor musicals of the 1950s were rich hues jumped out from the screen. However, it is cut more like a pop video which adds to the pace of the movie.

As a musical, the movie pays homage to Victorian operettas, and 50s musicals while at the same time creating its own fantasy Paris that grabs the audiences and never let’s go from the first frame until the last.

7. Chicago (2002)

Chicago (2002)

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It’s been said that the change in movie musicals which started with Moulin Rouge continued the following year with the release of Chicago. It was the first musical to win the best picture Oscar in more than 30 years, probably partly because it harked back to the dazzling song and dance musicals from MGM in the 1950s, and partly how the songs move the story rather than the dialog. Based on the hit stage musical by Bob Fosse and Fred Ebbs, Chicago follows two ‘good-time’ girls accused of murder, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Rene Zellweger, and their crooked lawyer played by Richard Gere.

Bob Fosse captures the era of Chicago in the 30s and 40s in the original stage musical, and it is passed on to the movie. Veteran stage director Rob Marshall, making his first movie, gives the film pace and the bravado needed to move from musical number to the next with the shortest of gaps.

8. Cabaret (1972)

Cabaret (1972)

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When English writer Brian Roberts (Michael York) visits Berlin in the dying days of the Weimar Republic he falls under the spell of American cabaret singer Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli). The two start an affair and the musical charts that relationship, along with the changing world around them as the Nazis rise to power.

Almost all of the musical is set in a seedy cabaret club in Berlin, overseen by the dominant MC played by Joel Grey. The cinematography of Geoffrey Unsworth and the direction of Bob Fosse bring the vitality of the cabaret culture of the time to life. However, the dark undercurrent of Nazism is never far away, and as the movie progresses, Sally’s life becomes more and more detached from the reality around her. It is, without doubt, the defining performance of Liza Minnelli’s career, and she won the best actress Oscar for it. Her co-star Joel Grey won the best supporting actor award. While we’re on the subject of Academy Awards, director Bob Fosse also picked up the Oscar for best director.

At the time this was a ground-breaking musical, and it stands the test of time well, it’s one of those movies you have to see at least once in your life.

9. Dreamgirls (2006)

Dreamgirls (2006)

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With both a good story and great songs seamlessly tied to the plot, even those who would usually turn their noses up at musicals will really enjoy Dreamgirls. The movie is set in 1960s Detroit and follows the rising fortunes of an all-girl pop group, and their manager and record label owner. Parallels to Motown Records and The Supremes are plain to see. Three girls, Effie played by Jennifer Hudson, Deena played by Beyonce Knowles, and Lorell played by Anika Noni Rose, are spotted by entrepreneur Curtis Taylor played by Jamie Foxx.

The group signs to his label Rainbow Records and they take off on a rollercoaster ride through the 1960s. The girls’ career is intertwined with that of Jimmy Early played by Eddie Murphy as a very dark and troubled character, so different from his comedic achievements. The costumes and sets of the musical evoke the 60s so well, but it’s the characters that drive the story and sweep you up into the world of pop music. Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar for her breakout performance, thumbing her nose after being dumped from American Idol. This is one of the few musicals where the characters become flesh and blood, and as an audience, we empathize with all of their trials and tribulations. It’s another must-see for the holiday season.

10. The Sound of Music (1965)

The Sound of Music (1965)

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We leave what is arguably the best until last. The Sound of Music has been described as the ‘epitome of the movie musical’. It has certainly stood the test of time, partly in thanks to the stand-out performance of Julie Andrews as the postulate nun Maria who becomes a governess. Set in 1930s Austria, wayward Maria is sent from her convent to become the governess to a family of children whose mother recently died. The father Captain Von Trapp, played by Christopher Plummer, is a hard taskmaster, and likes military precision around the home.

Maria comes in like a breath of wind and turns the place upside down, getting the children to sing and play. Overshadowing the whole story is the rise of Nazism and the impending takeover of Austria by Nazi Germany. The score by Rogers and Hammerstein has so many sing-along favorites it’s difficult to pick out anyone as being the high point of the musical. However, you know you’re in for something special with the opening, when Julie Andrews sings the title song in a high Alpine meadow with breathtaking scenery. As dark clouds form over Austria, anti-Nazi Captain Von Trapp and his family must make a stand.

They do so near the end of the musical when performing at the Salzburg Festival, and astound the audience of mostly Nazis by singing Edelweiss. The heart-warming tale and the host of songs that everyone has come to know and love means The Sound of Music never grows old and is, therefore, one of the mainstay musicals for the holiday season.

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How to transfer a photo to wood: DIY tutorial & great gift idea

There are times when you take a picture you just know it will be worth having everyone see. There are other times when your photo can be so personal that it should be shared with the people you love. OK, so you can get a print, frame it, and hang it on the wall, just give a copy to a loved one. But is that enough to show how much you care about the picture and what it means. Transferring it to a piece of wood can turn it into an artwork to hang on the wall, or a souvenir to give to friends or family, or even a decoration for the holidays. Transferring a photo to a piece of wood couldn’t be simpler. There are a number of different ways to do this as you will discover.
Getting the Picture Right
When creating a transfer of any kind, the picture you see will be a mirror image of the original unless you do some manipulation first. Think of it this way, you print an image to be transferred, and the image you see will be nearest the surface of the material you are transferring onto. This means that you will see what can be described as the back of the image, in other words, it’s the mirror image of reality. What is on the left is seen on the right, and vice versa. This is fine for close-ups of objects that have no specific left and right side or symmetry, but if it were your house, or car for example, then it would certainly look odd. It may not look too bad with photos of people, as they are generally symmetrical, but any background could spoil the illusion, or if the person is wearing a t-shirt with words on it.
Getting over this mirror image issue is no problem at all. All computers, tablets or smartphones come with photo manipulation software of some kind these days. Use whichever one you are comfortable with to simply flip the photo to its mirror image before you set about creating a transfer. If you are unfamiliar with photo software, there are a number of free and simple to use programs you can download and use for free such as Irfanview or Picmonkey.
Getting the Wood Right
Pictures can be transferred onto any type of wood, provided the surface is not too uneven and free from any dirt or resin. Many craft stores sell prepared wood slices that can take a small photo. These are ideal for gifts or as hanging decorations. Some methods, as you will see, require a gel medium to coat the surface of the wood before transfer, others allow the ink to penetrate the wood itself to give a faded, distressed look.
Wax Paper Transfer
The first technique we are going to explore is the wax paper transfer method, and it is probably the easiest for a beginner. It gives a distressed shabby chic look which is often what we are looking for. Other techniques give more defined and crisp lines. You’ll need some wax paper that can be bought from most supermarkets and an inkjet printer. The sort of printer most homes have these days. You’re going to print onto the wax paper, so it’s probably better to stick the wax paper onto a sheet of regular printer paper so it can run through the machine easily. When you print a picture onto the wax paper using the inkjet, the ink doesn’t get absorbed because of the wax and sits on the surface. You have to be very careful with the image at this point as it can be easily smudged.
Once you have your picture inked onto the wax paper, it’s a simple matter of flipping it onto the piece of wood you’re using and rub. Make sure not to move the paper when you are rubbing as it will blur and smear the image. Once you have rubbed the whole image, peel back the paper and the printed picture will be left behind on the wood.
As an alternative to wax paper method, you can use any paper with a glossy surface the ink from the printer will not absorb. The backing paper for stickers, such as Avery labels, as well as the backing from vinyl coverings works just as well.
Mod Podge
As the wax paper technique is quick and simple, the Mod Podge technique takes more time, but does come up with clearer and more defined pictures. If you are looking for the clearest possible image on the wood, then this is probably the best technique to use. For this technique to work correctly, you will need a laser printer rather than an inkjet printer. It is also better to find an image that fits the piece of wood you are going use, as the picture will need to be trimmed down to match the size.
Mod Podge is an all-in-one glue and sealant and should be applied liberally to the surface you want the picture to adhere to. Make sure there is a good layer of Mod Podge on the wood, and the lay the photo on the Mod Podge and press it until any bubbles or wrinkles are evened out. You may have to weight it down to make sure the paper has smoothly adhered to the surface of the wood. Then you should wait for about 24 hours before removing the weight and then dampening the paper. Once the paper is wet, it should rub off leaving the picture adhered to the wood surface. The Mod Podge seals the pigments of the image onto the wood, allowing the paper to be removed. It may take two or three applications of water to the paper to get it all off, so be patient and do a little at a time. If there are any bubbles or creases in the paper, you will get blank spaces where the picture has not adhered to the wood. The results of this technique can be stunning, as the Mod Podge allows the grain of the wood to show through the picture like a watermark, which can be very appealing.
Tattoo Paper
As kids, we all probably played with tattoo transfers that use a water slide technique to fix to the skin for a temporary, sometimes extremely temporary, tattoo. This is a very similar technique using the same sort of tattoo transfer paper, and rather than applying to the skin, applying to a wooden surface. The secret in getting this technique is preparing the surface of the wood, so it’s as smooth as possible. A generous coating of Mod Podge will do the trick. Without a smooth surface, the paper will not release the image onto the wood.
For this technique you can use an inkjet printer, as lying the picture onto the tattoo paper will not cause it to smudge if touched like the wax paper method. Make sure the Mod Podge on the wood is completely dry before laying the tattoo paper with the image down onto it. Once in place wet the paper thoroughly and then press hard to transfer the image to the wood. Try not to rub as this can move the paper and cause the image to blur. Take your time, and keep pressing. Once the image has stuck to the wood, the paper can be peeled back as one sheet. The picture quality may not be quite as sharp as the Mod Podge technique with a laser printed image, but it does still allow the beauty of the wood grain to show through.
Photo Transfer Medium
There are products such as photo transfer medium and gel medium that are specifically designed for transferring pictures to a wooden, or even a metal surface. For best results, the piece of wood needs to be coated with the medium, and then the picture applied to the surface. Like using Mod Podge, the image should have been printed using a laser printer on regular paper. Once the paper has been applied to the wood, it should be pressed down hard, and left for at least 24 hours. As with the other technique the paper needs to be soaked so it can be rubbed off leaving the image adhered to the surface of the wood.
This provides the best image of all the methods. However, that does mean that the grain of the wood does not show through. If you want a more rustic or shabby chic look, you won’t get it with this method as it is more photorealistic.
Finishing
No matter what technique you use, you’ll need to give the image a final coat of varnish to stop the image peeling or wearing off. You can use Mod Podge as a sealant, or there are other brands of clear wood varnish that would do the job just as well. You can also get soft wax, which is used with chalk paints, that can have a pigment to give an antique or ‘cut-back’ look to the image. These are applied with a soft brush like a paint.

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The Art of Drinking Tea: How to Prepare Tea the Right Way

 

 

If you are used to ordering your favorite tea drink at your local tea or coffee shop, we don’t blame you. You just can’t beat the convenience of enjoying a nice drink without having to deal with making it yourself! However, while you can’t beat the convenience, you may be able to beat the taste by learning how to make it yourself.

 

If you think that making tea just means placing a tea bag in some hot water, you have much to learn! While you can certainly brew tea that way, the truth is that preparing tea the right way is much more of an art form, and there is much more involved!

 

For any avid tea drinker, they will understand the nuances of brewing tea. From the water temperature, to steeping the leaves, the amount of time needed based on the type of tea, what to add to the tea, there is a lot to consider!

 

Are you interested in learning the art of drinking tea? Would you like to learn how to prepare it properly so that you next cup is all that more delicious? You’ve come to the right place! Brewing tea at home is almost sure to result in better tasting tea, and saving money in the long run instead of always purchasing it while you are out!

 

Here are all the steps you need to know in order to prepare tea the right way.

 

The Water

 

To start off with, you want to have the best quality water to brew the perfect cup of tea. Believe it or not you should actually start off with cold water! It may be tempting to warm the water up in your faucet first, but stick with fresh cold water instead. Preferably you should use filtered water, and not water from the tap, as that water could not only have contaminants, it could alter the taste of the tea.

 

The Boiling Process

 

All you’ve got to do is bring your water to a boil, right? Nope- it’s a bit more complex than that! In fact, you can actually heat your water up too much. You do not want to bring your water to a strong rolling boil, as that can actually reduce the flavor of the tea. Instead, shoot for gentle just boiled water.

 

Part of this depends on the actual tea you are brewing. Believe it or not, each type of tea typically needs a specific temperature of water if you are in search of the perfect cup! Here is a general guideline to follow based on the most common types of teas:

 

Black Tea: 180-212 degrees Fahrenheit

White Tea: 160 degrees Fahrenheit

Herbal Tea: 212 degrees Fahrenheit

Green Tea: 150-180 degrees Fahrenheit

Oolong Tea: 190-200 degrees Fahrenheit

 

You can check out this cool temperature guide for more information on the specifics based on the type of tea you are brewing.

 

Another tip when boiling your water is to actually look at the brewing instructions! Yes, the tea you want to brew comes with instructions. Even if it is very basic tea in a tea bag from the grocery store, it will have recommended instructions. Follow them!

 

If you brew your tea exactly as you are supposed to and don’t like the taste, feel free to experiment. Make your water a little hotter or cooler and see how that impacts the taste. After all, you are the one drinking it, you should enjoy what you sip on!

 

The Tea Pot

 

Now that you know how hot to heat your tea, what do you heat it in? While you might want to be lazy and use the microwave, that is certainly not the proper technique. Using a teapot and heating your water on the stove is the traditional, best way to heat your water.

 

There are two main types of tea pots- porcelain and metal. You might not think it matters, but it does! Metal teapots are best if you are brewing a tea like a black tea that needs water at a higher temperature- as metal teapots can hold in heat better. Porcelain pots do not hold heat as well, so they are a better choice when you are boiling your water to a lower temperature for something like green or white tea.

 

You might not think it matters, but small details like this all add up to make your tea truly the right way! It does make a difference, try it to believe us!

 

The Amount of Water

 

Now your water is the perfect temperature- before you can actually steep your tea leaves, how much water do you need? This is a crucial step in the tea making process. More water will dilute your tea, where as you will have stronger tea with less water.

 

Most of this depends on personal preference, but a good rule of thumb is to have about 6-8 ounces of water. This is a standard amount and will fit in any standard sized mug. This amount will work for 1 tea bag, or if you are using loose tea, you should measure out about 1 teaspoon of tea. Again, check your specific tea to see what it recommends!

 

Start off by following the instructions, and then adjust to your taste. You may prefer slightly more water, for example.

 

The Actual Brewing/Infusing

 

Once you’ve brought your water to the perfect temperature and know how much to pour out, it’s time to actually make your tea! Essentially all you are doing here is placing your tea leaves in the water and having the flavor of the leaves infuse the water. Even if you use a tea bag, that is the process that is going on!

 

Each type of tea will require a different amount of time that will result in the perfect cup of tea. How you infuse your tea leaves can also make a difference. If you use a tea bag that is more straightforward, but if you have loose tea leaves, you have several options!

 

Typically lighter, fresher teas like green tea and white tea need less time to infuse, where as darker teas like black tea require a bit more time. Like mentioned before, follow the instructions that you have with your specific tea! Once you reach the recommended time, remove the tea bag or leaves! Do not leave it in there- it may be more convenient if you have a tea bag, but that is not proper technique!

 

Consider getting a metal tea baller if you have loose leaf tea, or consider investing in an actual tea infusion device that will hold your tea leaves and hot water. When you’ve reached the correct infusing time, you place the device on top of your mug and the tea pours out, leaving the tea leaves behind!

 

Wrapping Up

 

So there you have it! Did you learn some new tips you didn’t know before? It may be hard to believe, but the truth is that subtle changes in things like water temperature or water source can make a big difference when brewing your tea!

 

By following these steps you will be preparing your tea the proper way, and are sure to end up with an excellent cup. Once you do it the proper way, you can make small adjustments to your personal liking in order to have your own personal method for brewing the perfect cup of tea!

 

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Searching for a Gift for an Impossible Guy? Check Out Our List!

At times, finding the perfect gift for a male friend loved one, or colleague can seem relatively impossible, especially if they’re the type of person that already has everything they need. You would be amazed at how often it is that people find themselves searching for the perfect gift only to come up empty and wind up settling for a gift card. If you’re in that boat, there’s no need to worry as we’ve found five phenomenal gifts that any guy is sure to love, and you can bet they likely don’t already own them!

 

  1. 13-in-1 Multitool

Buying a guy a multitool might seem like something that is relatively conventional, however, you’ve most likely never seen a 13-in-1 multitool before. Not only will they have access to the generic things such as a knife and pliers, but there are several other tools they can use to their advantage, including a Philips screwdriver, bottle opener, wood sharpener, and even fish scaling tool. Above all else, it also comes with a LED flashlight that they can use in the event of an emergency.

This 13-in-1 multitool is designed for absolutely any situation that they might come across and even the flashlight is more advanced than conventional models. Not only will you have the regular strobe of light, but two other lighting modes to where you can even emit SOS signals.

It’s the type of gift that they can either carry with them in their pocket or that they can keep in the trunk of their car in the event of an emergency, which not only makes it the coolest but also the most useful gift that would make the ideal gift for any occasion.

 

  1. Holy Stone RC Drone HS100

Drones had a boom in popularity a few years ago and now that the technology is a little more well-known, they’ve come down in price. With that being said, the Holy Stone RC Drone HS100 is one of the more expensive gifts on this list, but it is well worth the investment, especially if you’re looking for a gift for a guy that loves to play with toys. What makes this drone unique is that it can also be used for professional tasks, as it has a wide variety of features that they’ll be sure to appreciate, including:

  • GPS-assist: When in flight, the drone will give you immediate details about its positioning and it offers a return-to-home function in the event that you lose sight of the device. Its integrated GPS feedback also helps to make sure that the drone returns home in the event of a low battery or loss of range.
  • High-quality camera: With a 720p 120-degree FOV/FPV WiFi camera, you’ll be able to capture a wide variety of scenes while piloting the drone. It gives you an incredibly high-quality birds-eye perspective without needing to fine-tune any settings.
  • Multiple operating modes: Aside from the generic piloting mode, you’ll also be able to take advantage of altitude hold, one-key takeoff, and headless mode. There’s also a “follow me” mode where the drone will automatically follow your every movement.

 

  1. Beardclass Organic Bamboo Beard Kit

Beards are back in style and in order to make sure you always look your best, you’re going to need to invest in some beard grooming tools. If the person you’re buying for is someone who takes pride in their beard growth, the Beardclass Organic Bamboo Beard Kit is a phenomenal gift as it comes with plenty of different components designed for maintaining facial hair.

In the kit, you will receive a wooden beard comb, beard/mustache/nose scissors, mustache comb, keychain, and the revolutionary Beardclass beard brush. What makes the beard brush so unique is that it’s crafted using wild boar hair bristles with a superior curvature, so you can perfectly comb through your beard with little to no issues.

 

  1. S.T.E.A.M. Line Toys UGears Mechanical U-9 Grand Prix Car

Keeping your mind occupied with hobbies is one of the best ways to de-stress after a long day of work, which is why we love the idea of the S.T.E.A.M. Line Toys UGears Mechanical U-9 Grand Prix Car as a gift for the impossible man. Even if they’ve never had the ability to build a wooden puzzle before, you’ll be giving them an activity that they are sure to appreciate over the years.

Perfect for the type of guy that likes to spend time crafting unique objects, this high-quality project is designed to emulate the real-life mechanism that you would find in a U-9 Grand Prix Car. Above all else, it’s not only a model that will sit on your shelf, but it’s also a self-propelled mechanical wooden model that actually works, making it a great project for the entire family.

 

  1. APEMAN Dash Cam

Having an added layer of protection when it comes to driving is of the utmost importance, especially with more new drivers on the road every day. The superior technology of dash cams gives you the ability to not only ensure that accidents are captured on film, but it also gives you the ability to constantly monitor activity around your vehicle or capture picturesque moments when on the road.

The APEMAN Dash Cam is one of the better models that you can find as it offers an easy-to-use 3-inch LCD screen and a 170-degree wide angle lens, making it perfect for capturing all activity around your vehicle. With added benefits such as motion detection and parking monitors, you’ll be able to keep an eye on your vehicle no matter where it’s parked. With 1080p resolution and a built-in G-sensor, you’ll be giving the gift of protection which is something that every driver deserves to have at their disposal.

 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to finding the perfect gift for someone that seemingly already owns everything, you just have to open your mind to a couple of other interesting gift ideas. With the help of these five gifts, you’ll have more than enough inspiration for finding the perfect present that will not only be put to good use but that will also be appreciated for many years to come.

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The 5 New York Times’ Best Sellers Books to Read in November

Unless you’re someone who constantly stays up to date with new and popular book releases, picking one off of the shelves that you will actually enjoy reading can be pretty difficult. Even when you look at Best Sellers’ lists, not all of the titles are something that you’ll actually be able to lose yourself in, which is why getting advice on some great reads is exactly what you need! We’ve found the top 5 New York Times’ Best Sellers Books that you have to get your hands on and read in November, especially if you’re looking for novels that you can recommend to friends and family.

 

  1. Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan

With its original release in 2013, “Crazy Rich Asians” was a book that didn’t catapult into popularity until the film adaptation that came out this year. With that being said, as with most movies, the book is by far more involved versions of the characters you fall in love with on the big screen. What makes this novel so interesting is that it gives you an in-depth understanding of the insanely rich families in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore. The entire novel is told from the perspective of five different characters and revolves around an over-the-top wedding with the most eligible bachelor in all of Singapore.

At the end of the day, it’s a very unique twist on the traditional “poor character meets rich character and falls in love”, but in a nouveau way that modernized readers are going to surely appreciate. Created with the initial intention of introducing North American audiences to the rich culture of Asia, “Crazy Rich Asians” is surely a book to delve into.

 

  1. Educated: A Memoir – Tara Westover

If you’re the type of person that’s really interested in novels that revolve around interesting societies and groups of people that you never knew existed until now, “Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover is another great read. It’s a full account of how Tara Westover grew up within a survivalist family with little to no insight into education and how she grows to move away from her family and obtain her Ph.D. from Cambridge.

What makes “Educated: A Memoir” so refreshing is that there are hundreds of thousands of survivalists that live in the same conditions as she once did, with plenty of children wondering what else the world has to offer. It’s a healthy combination between a “breaking free” situation and a coming of age novel, however, it’s all based on real-life situations that Westover grew up with. We love the uniqueness and familiarity of some of the obstacles she faces throughout the novel, making it a relatable read for absolutely anyone.

 

  1. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing – Hank Green

What we love the most about all of Hank Green’s novels is that they are so relatable for readers of various ages and they are incredibly in-tune with what the world currently is. “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing” is another one of his New York Times Best Sellers and it’s certainly the type of book that is going to entangle you in its plot and have you wishing the chapters would never end.

In “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing”, 23-year-old April May comes across a sculpture after finishing work very early in the morning. April and her friend Andy decide that the next best thing to do would be to take a video with the brilliant sculpture and wind up uploading the video to YouTube, only to find that the video becomes a viral sensation overnight. Even though the idea of becoming a viral sensation is something that most millennials in today’s day and age wish they could have, this novel shines a very realistic light on the situation.

Not only does April May have to deal with pressure in her personal life, but she also begins to question who she is as a person and whether she can continue living the way she always has. It’s a very interesting twist on the word “famous” and what it really means to live your life online.

 

  1. Juror #3 – James Patterson and Nancy Allen

James Patterson is certainly one of the best selling authors in the entire world and you can guarantee that the vast majority of his novels will take you on an adventurous ride that you’ve never experienced before. “Juror #3” revolves around a small town in Mississippi where a woman was murdered. Ruby Bozarth, the main character, is new to town and also newly deemed a lawyer who is responsible for helping to find the murderer to close the case.

What makes the novel so interesting is that since the murdered woman is from one of the most prominent families in the community, you can guarantee that everyone is out for blood and between the pressure of the town and the pressure of the prosecuting attorney, Ruby needs to figure out a way to figure out what secrets are being hidden and why.

 

  1. In His Father’s Footsteps – Danielle Steel

Last, but certainly not least, we have “In His Father’s Footsteps” by Danielle Steel. It’s a very powerful read that will bring up emotions that you might have never known you had before, especially as it has to deal with a World War II concentration camp. Revolving around the two survivors and how they build a brand new life together, their son begins to go through an ample amount of struggles trying to adapt to the life of being a first-generation American citizen.

If you’re looking for a book that is going to make you truly feel the raw emotions and understand what it means to start anew in a foreign land, this is one of the best reads to take under your wing.

 

Final Thoughts

With millions of books in the world, you can bet that every week you’re missing out on a new title that is sure to entice your curiosity. With these five books, you’ll be able to read some of the best novels during the month of November and get an idea of authors that you should keep an eye out for in the future.

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10 ideas for the most original Halloween costumes for this year!

Although Halloween is not a national holiday in most parts of the world, it symbolizes the start of the holiday season and the run up to Christmas and New Year celebrations. Halloween goes back to an ancient Celtic festival when people lit bonfires and wear costumes to wear off ghosts and demons. When November 1 was designated All Saints Day, the Celtic Samhain festival was incorporated and so All Hallows Eve became Halloween.
The Halloween celebrations we know today began in the early twentieth century. About a hundred years ago it became a community event with big parades and entertainment, and adults and children would dress up for the street parties. In the 1950s the big parades began to wane, and the celebrations became more school or home-based, and going door to trick-or-treat was revived from decades earlier. Nowadays Halloween is the second largest commercial celebration after Christmas in the United States, with people spending more than $6 billion annually.
Nowadays, Halloween is celebrated in most of the English-speaking world, and many Spanish-speaking or Catholic countries where it is known as the Day of the Dead.
The tradition of dressing up for Halloween goes back to its earliest roots. The idea was to dress in a frightening costume to scare away any evil spirits. When the big Halloween parties started becoming popular in the 1920s, some savvy entrepreneurs realized that costumes could be anything you wanted. Over time it’s morphed into what we know today, and Halloween costumes can be scary devils and skeletons, and characters from the movies, television, and history too. So here are ten ideas for costumes this year for both children and adults, and how you can get the look.
Lego
This is an easy costume for kids of any age and can be made in 10 minutes. You’ll need a large cardboard box, that’s big enough for the wearer to slip inside comfortably, and some small plastic cups or old yogurt containers will work just as well. You’ll also need some glue and brightly colored spray paint. It’s a simple matter of cutting out holes in the box for the head and arms, making sure there is enough room for the wearer to move without obstruction. On one surface of the box, which will be the front, glue the plastic cups, in equally spaced rows down the length. Once the glue is dry, you can spray paint the whole thing. Make sure you do this in a well-ventilated area. After the paint has dried, the costume is ready to wear.
The Rainbow Fish
The classic children’s book about the Rainbow Fish can be the inspiration for a costume for a boy or a girl of any age. The basic to start with is a blue outfit to resemble the body of the Rainbow Fish. It can be a dress, or a t-shirt and trousers, but it really has to be blue. You’ll need some remnants of material in other shades of blue, pink, and silver. These can be cut out into D-shapes, and then applied to the outfit overlapping one another to look like the scales on a fish. The size and number of D-shaped scales will depend on the size of whoever’s wearing the costume. If you want a 360-degree look, you can apply the scales to the back and front.
Rene Magritte Painting
I guess this works best for a man but can work with either sex if desired. We’re going to recreate Rene Magritte’s famous painting of a man wearing a bowler hat and an apple called the Son of Man. It’ll mean a trip to the novelty shop to pick up a bowler hat, and a plastic apple. Both can be picked up for the grand total of about $10. I’ll assume you already have a dark suit, and maybe a red tie. If not, I’m sure you could get a tie from a friend. Make sure the plastic apple is as light as possible, as you will have to cut out a section from the side so it can be slipped over your nose. If you are going to go around wearing it for part of the evening, you don’t want it to feel too heavy or fall off.
Instagram Photo
If you’ve not got much time to prepare, or just forgot you needed a costume for the Halloween party don’t worry as making this is probably as quick as it gets. You can wear it with any clothes you have! First of all, you need to take a screenshot of your Instagram account just after posting a picture. Make sure you have the top and bottom of the screen with all the icons. Your local print shop will be able to print and mount it onto poster board for less than $15. When you get it done, cut out the center picture, and your costume is complete. Hold it up in front of you every time anyone asks what your costume is and they’re bound to get the picture.
50 Shades of Gray
This can work for guys or girls, which is kind of cute. To start creating your costume, you’ll need to take a trip to your local home improvement center. Head to the paint section, and pick up as many of the free sample color swatches you can in various shades of gray. Back home it’s a simple matter of sticking the swathes onto a cheap black t-shirt.
Green with Envy
How about a costume for a couple, that is cheap, simple and witty at the same time. For her, you will need a green t-shirt and maybe a headband or headscarf. For him, a white t-shirt and some iron-on letters. The t-shirts can be something you have in the bottom of the wardrobe, or something bought cheap off eBay or Amazon. You’ll need four iron-on letters to spell the word envy. Just iron the letters onto the white t-shirt, and the costume is done. Walk into the party arm-in-arm, and everyone will know you are green with envy!
Bump in the Night
When you’re pregnant, it’s not easy to find a costume for Halloween that will work. Here’s one that is simple to make, and fits with the theme. The things that go bump in the night are sometimes the most terrifying, so why not make the most of the baby bump. All you need is one of the staples of any wardrobe, a simple black dress. You can either cut out white stars from old material to pin or sew to the clothing or get adhesive stars to stick onto it. Either way, you have a black night sky with stars shining. Voila, you have your very own bump in the night.
Rosie the Riveter
One of the iconic images of the home front during World War Two was Rosie the Riveter. The poster of a female war worker was the inspiration for thousands of women to take on jobs by replacing men who had gone to war. Getting the look right is very simple indeed. First, you need the signature red polka dot headscarf, to wrap the hair. To get the factory worker look to match the posters, you’ll need a jumpsuit in dark blue or any dark color. To add some authenticity to your appearance, how about carrying a classic lunchbox rather than a handbag.
Che Guevara
How about becoming a revolutionary for a night, and donning a Che Guevara costume. For the guys, it’s not that difficult to create the ‘Che’ look. Let’s start with a black beret, with a little star motif or badge on the front. Forget to shave for a couple of days, and you’ll have the right amount of partisan stubble. Then it’s just a matter of green fatigue colored shirt and pants, and maybe a t-shirt to match. If you want to take it a little further, you could always add a Cuban cigar.
Doctor Who
With Jody Whitaker taking over the role of the eponymous Doctor Who, there is now a chance for girls to dress up as the Time Lord. The publicity shots before the premiere of the new series had Doctor Who wearing an outfit that is very easy to replicate. Trousers that are a little short with suspenders, along with socks and boots, and a t-shirt with horizontal stripes and a long overcoat. To complete the look a short blond bob wig, and hey presto you’ve turned yourself into the first female Time Lord in 50 years.

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