Doctor Who: Listen and Loneliness

There are a lot of things going on in the 4th episode of series 8, Listen; the music is sparse, and used very carefully; visually, there are a lot of reds and blues; there is a lot of mirroring and parallels in the stories and characters; really too much to cover all in one blog post. So for the sake of this blog, I’m going to focus on the idea of loneliness. Being alone is a universal fear that is especially poignant for the Doctor, and while on the surface it appears that the theme of this episode is fear, I think the deeper theme is the fear of being alone.

This episode starts with the Doctor alone, soliloquizing.  There are two great alone shots here that I’d like to point out

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The first with the Doctor sitting in the lotus position on top of the TARDIS with the earth behind him. Neil Armstrong once said, “”It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth… I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.”*normal_dw804hd0010 Continue reading

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Let’s Take a Look Into the Dalek

“Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes.” –Daniel H. Pink*

Seeing things as they truly are is the theme of Into the Dalek.  This theme is reinforced by eye symbolism and eye/seeing references throughout the episode.  Let’s take a look!

We learn in the very first line that Journey Blue’s ship is called the Aristotle.  Now, I’m not into philosophy, but a little research revealed** that Aristotle thought that when an eye sees something, it becomes that thing.  If it sees the color red, it literally becomes red itself.  This idea, that we become what we see, is reflected several places in this episode.

The first shot once Journey Blue is on the TARDIS is looking up at the console from the floor; we are looking through Journey Blue’s eyes. The next shot is of Journey Blue on the floor, surrounded by little circles of light or little eyes. normal_dw802hd_0059The Doctor: “Dry your eyes, Journey Blue. Crying is for civilians. It’s how we communicate with you lot.”

Continue reading

Doctor Who: Last Christmas

Since Death in Heaven a month ago, I’ve been super excited for the Doctor Who Christmas special, Last Christmas. While others have been counting down days to the holidays, I’ve been counting down days to Doctor Who. So after presents were opened, unboxed, and played with, I changed into my black “twelve jacket”, grabbed my new sonic screwdriver (Thanks honey!) and settled in to what was the real highlight of my Christmas day.

Last Christmas: Trust Nothing

Last Christmas capstoned many of the themes of series 8 involving the relationship between Clara and the Doctor, specifically addressing the lies they told one another at the end of Death in Heaven. While lying became a big part of Clara’s character in series 8, I believe that the events of Last Christmas closed that theme by showing that all falsehood should be stripped away. With the Doctor and Clara struggling to throw off the webs of the Dream Crabs deceptions, the plot of the entire episode literally became – discover the truth or die.normal_dw2014-lastchristmas0012

Only 13 seconds in and we see the yellow lights on the banister. Yellow lights appear throughout the episode, like dream crab spider webs weaving and hanging from every surface. Every dream sequence has them and they don’t disappear until the very final scene. In the “mirror” discussion threads on Gallifrey Base it is largely accepted that often times in Doctor Who, yellow is used to signify death. (On a side note, generally the Doctor is blue, Clara red, and this season yellow was often Danny’s color (especially in In the Forest of the Night). Foreshadowing perhaps?) Anyway, so here we have Clara waking up in a house that has the yellow Dream Crab webs of deception and death. Oh, and a chair lift.

normal_dw2014-lastchristmas0542Enter, Santa. Santa is wearing red. Please note that we don’t see the doctor’s red lining this entire episode, the Doctor is wearing black/blue and Clara is wearing blue (usually the doctor’s color). Clara tells the elves to “shut up” – very doctorish.

The polar base is also full of yellow lights, not just Christmas lights and Christmas trees, but random yellow lights on the consoles and wall, even their head cams when they are activated. The lighting in general on the polar base is fantastic!

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Notice this “morgue” shot is from the Dream Crab’s point of view.

Notice that the crab face people on the beds are covered with sheets. If this were a infirmary you would expect to see blankets (especially on a polar base that is obviously cold), but instead there are sheets, like a morgue.

Clara his haloed by the yellow lights.

Clara is haloed by the yellow lights.

Now back to the lying theme.

Clara: So we’re dying then
Doctor: Yes
Clara: Why
Doctor: Oh, it’s complicated (Notice the vague answer. That comes into play later)
Clara: How long do we have
Doctor: No idea.
Clara: Just, Doctor, give me something to do.
Doctor: Trust nothing. Accept nothing you see. Whatever happens – interrogate everything.
Clara: In case it’s a lie.
Doctor: In case it’s a lie.

So to live, to combat the dying, they must not trust lies.

normal_dw2014-lastchristmas1475The Doctor later talks about the Dream Crab keeping you in a relaxed state, they keep you happy. He even describes it as merciful, as they dissolve your brain.  The lies told in Death in Heaven were like this. Both Clara and the Doctor wanted the other to be happy; they were trying to be merciful. But in the end they hurt each other.

The scene where Clara is attacked by the dream crab is both beautiful and heart breaking. The lighting is incredible. The white light coming from above as she hides from the table and the illuminated crab slime is perfect!   And here we get to the very core of Clara. She’s sorry. She’s sorry for all the lies she told Danny. Her lies resulted in his death. She’s not concerned for her own life as much as in her last minutes she is seeking forgiveness for the lies.

normal_dw2014-lastchristmas1513In Clara’s dream state there are yellow circles on the curtains and Danny enters wearing red.  Danny is Santa and Santa’s roll in the dream state is to provide salvation. This is fitting for Danny. He is no longer in yellow; He is now wearing the red of the martyr.

There are more yellow dream crab webs of deception and death, handing akimbo from the ceilings and walls. Can I just add that the sound editing,  is fabulous when the doctor’s voice, distorted, is trying to break through, and then it all fading away into Clara’s theme.

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Entering Clara’s dream, the Doctor talks again about how the dream crabs deception is an “antiseptic”. Lies are an antiseptic to mask and cover pain and hurt. Lies don’t prevent it; they just cover it while it gets worse.

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After waking from the Danny dream there is a great eye shot of Clara. Looking someone in the eye is a metaphor for seeing the truth.   In this shot Clara tells us that she is not okay, truth, and also she sees that they are still in a dream, truth.

Look yourself in the eye.

Look yourself in the eye.

The manuals they read that predict their death are what color?

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And the flare that Ashley lights?

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Now in the sleigh the dominant colors are blue and red: the Doctor and Clara. It is also where they are reconciled. They see the truth more clearly now.

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normal_dw2014-lastchristmas3633In Old Clara’s home the dream crabs web of deception and death are still present. The Doctor put a yellow paper hat on Clara’s head. Old Clara is close to death. The Christmas cracker is yellow and reminiscent of Clara opening a cracker with old Eleven before he regenerated.

normal_dw2014-lastchristmas3757In the last and true wakening, The Doctor wakes up In a sea of red (the volcano?), and Clara’s bedroom is blue. There are no yellow lights.   Clara asks for a mirror. She wants to see herself clearly. She wants to see who she truly is with all the lies swept away. She smiles and declares it “good”.   She is redeemed.

The episode ends with Clara and the Doctor running off hand in hand. Clara is in white, the doctor black, the Yin and Yang together again. They are light, and happy, unburdened finally from all the deception and lies. The Doctor talks of second chances, and isn’t that what redemption is after all?

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Bonus:  Look at this wonderful shot of the doctor framed in a chaos of blue lights. Credit for all screen shots goes to screencapped.net

Bonus: Look at this wonderful shot of the doctor framed in a chaos of blue lights. Credit for all screen shots goes to screencapped.net

Doctor Who: Deep Breath

Deep Breath: Who Frowned Me This Face?

Now that series 8 is over, and we only have the Christmas special to go, I thought I’d do a rewatch of the series to see all the little nuggets of goodness that Moffat has left for us that we missed on first viewing. Like all other who fans, I was very excited, and a bit trepidatious, to see what this new doctor would bring.

I think it’s more than just a gimmick that Deep Breath starts with a dinosaur.  I think it’s a reminder that the doctor, even though he has been a young man for the past couple regenerations, is really an old and ancient creature, and now his new face better reflects his actual age. The theme of faces, as a reflection of the true nature of individuals, seems to caries throughout the episode. vlcsnap-2014-08-24-23h38m20s112_zps7cd9e9ae

Capaldi just explodes out of the TARDIS, he owns the stage from the first word. At first he can’t seem to differentiate the faces of his friends. He doesn’t remember Clara’s name, and he calls Vastra and Jenny the “green one and the white one”, referring to the colors of their faces.

vlcsnap-2014-08-23-23h52m38s105_zpsf1cdc16fBack at Vastra’s we get face references, “the mirror is furious” and Vastra covering hers with a veil as a judgement against Clara. Clara throws Vastra’s arguments back at her by commenting about her own “pretty face,”  and we are again reminded that Jenna Coleman can talk really really fast.

vlcsnap-2014-08-24-00h07m36s127_zpsf131cad3 Is it just a funny joke when Clara gets hit in the face with the newspaper or is it a symbol of what this experience is like for her?  Then Strax gives Clara an exam, looks in her eyes and tells her about her own personality. Amazing the things we can tell about people by looking them in the face.

In the alleyway, the doctor refers to the air as “bitty” – another face reference. Then the doctor gives a great speech about faces.  “Why did I choose this face? It’s like I’m trying to tell myself something.”  The conclusion of the speech is that he doesn’t like his face.  He doesn’t like his new self, and this is a theme we see developed throughout the series with the “Am I a Good Man?” arc introduced in the next episode.

Clara finds the newspaper advertisement for the Impossible Girl.  We know now, that that ad was placed by Missy. So somewhere, vlcsnap-2014-08-26-22h20m21s128_zps9754acb4Missy is running around Victorian London. Perhaps that is where she got that smashing dress and hat?  This whole aspect of the Missy plot is a bit weak, but as they say on Verity Podcast, we will do some “hand wavery” and not worry about that.

vlcsnap-2014-08-24-00h29m50s150_zps41b794baOn to the table scene, one of the best scenes in the whole series.  This is our first really good look at the fabulous chemistry that Miss Coleman and Mr Capaldi have.  And have you noticed how low Jenna Coleman’s voice can get? This sexy low voice coming from such a small woman?  Anyway, the Doctor finally exposes the truth of what is truly going on in the restaurant by ripping the face off of the waiter, seeing what’s behind his face. Clara calls is a “mask” but then the Doctor puts the face on Clara saying, “look, it’s a face.”   Clara is disgusted by the idea of the false face, and casts it aside.

vlcsnap-2014-08-24-00h35m55s228_zps5c9f2fb9vlcsnap-2014-08-24-00h35m02s211_zps49dfc037Now we meet the clockwork faced man. Half human face, half robot face (amazing special effects here). It’s a robot that is trying to change who he is inside by changing his face on the outside. But it doesn’t work that way, does it? The Doctor comments that the robot’s eyes look “fresh.” There is some great eye symbolism in this room and we see both Clara and the Doctor become the pupil, or focus of the eye.  If eye’s are the windows of the face to the soul, then both Clara and the Doctor take that role.  We see Clara’s inner eye, in her flashback of her first day of teaching, and then Clara awakes, the center of a circle, made of circles – the center of an eye made of eyes.deep breath eyes

The Doctor enters wearing a false face and then removes that face to confront the clockwork man. The Doctor has revealed his true face, which also reveals his true nature as the hero of this story.  He tosses the face to Clara who, for the second time this episode, casts the false face aside. She is unable to hide her face, or her true feelings of unease with this new Doctor.

vlcsnap-2014-08-24-08h06m00s201_zps0fa01c5cThe Doctor and Clockwork Man have a great conversation about trading faces.  Of course this is all a discourse about the Doctor and his regenerations.   Can you change faces the same way you change broom handles? If you change your body 13 times are you still the same man?  “There’s not a piece of you left. You probably can’t even remember where you got that face from.”   And then there is that great camera shot of the clockwork man looking at his face in the mirror, and on the other side the Doctor is also looking at his own face in the mirror.  They are the same.

tumblr_inline_nax9wtXSKe1rq1srg After the phone call at the end the Doctor accuses Clara of not seeing him and begs her to “Just see [him].”   She responds by walking up to him and looking very intently at his face.  Then she hugs him.  We learn in Death in Heaven that the Doctor doesn’t like hugs because it is a way to “hide your face.”

Clara will spend the rest of series 8 trying to see the Doctor’s face, to see the Doctor for who he really is, at the same time, Clara will try on a few new faces of her own. At the same time the Doctor will spend the rest of series 8 questioning what his own face means, what kind of man is he?

Doctor Who: Death in Heaven and Princess Aprons part 2

This will be my fourth viewing of Death in Heaven.  This one didn’t resonate with me as, Dark Water,  but it seems to improve with each viewing.

We start this episode with Clara’s statement that sent fandom reeling when the trailer was released: “Clara Oswald has never existed.”  She follows it up with, “I’m the Doctor,” and my brain starts to question and quickly scans all the past episodes. Was there something I missed?  In this panic I didn’t see the opening credits where Clara’s eyes appear rather than the Doctors.  Probably best that it happened that way.  I think it’s easy to forget what state Clara is in at this point. It was only an hour or so ago that she was throwing TARDIS keys into the lava, and only a few minutes ago she was talking to her dead boyfriend.  So while I think Clara comes across a tad irritating here, I have to give her credit for thinking on her feet.

I’d be taking a selfie with the cybermen too, if I saw them in the street, but these aren’t tourists, but UNIT.  Kate Stewart has one of the best character entrances this season, and I totally love her saying, “haircut?” to acknowledge that the Doctor has regenerated but she recognizes that it is him.   The opening of the dome of St. Paul’s is a cool little special effect, and there is some great witty dialogue here, what Moffat is famous for. Not to mention the great cyberman theme playing over and over dramatically.

kate

Enter Seb, and Danny.  This is where things get fuzzy and you can’t think about the plot too much, because it’s full of holes and confusions.  Rather than ripping the concepts of cybermen needing consciousnesses, being seeded by rain (where does the metal come from?), and in the end they are puppets, we will suspend our criticisms and just enjoy the character stories.

The whole concept of the water coming down and raising the dead made me think of the Christian idea of Christ being living water that grants eternal life (John 4:14).   But we know that sometimes evil copies good, so here is some evil water that grants a sort of eternal or extended life, but not in a good way.  There are some Christian visual symbols here too, crosses in the graveyard, an all seeing eye on the wall of the mortuary, a burial cloth (John 11:44)left on the table after the ‘resurrection’ of Danny.

water napkin

Notice the burial cloth on the table, and the eye on the wall to the left of the mirror.

The scene cuts back to the Doctor who is revived and lead to an airplane.   I want to squee when he corrects Kate and calls Clara “my friend.”  Do you notice the Doctor putting like 10 cubes of sugar into his tea cup, and then picking up the saucer to drink from?

my friend 2

Clara rattles off facts about the Doctor and we are reminded how much Clara knows about the Doctor, also how fast Jenna Coleman can talk and then cyber-Danny just blows the heck out of the other cybermen. Nice!

In the belly of the airplane is where Michelle Gomez really shines as Missy.  She is witty, bananas, and incredibly frightening all at the same time.  The Doctors line about becoming president of the Earth and Missy’s face was priceless.

Now we get to the creepy graveyard scene.  Lots of people have talked about how much they liked how they shot the cybermen crawling out of graves, but I found the creepy music, and shaky hand-held camera work a little too campy for my taste.

hey missy

These are the worst guards of all time.  They just stand there while Missy manipulates Oswin and escapes her bonds.  RIP Oswin.  The fact that Moffet killed off the character that symbolizes the fandom is very meta.

Clara bookends the friendship arc by her speech to cyber-Danny claiming that the Doctor his her best friend. Contrast this to Mummy on the Orient Express where she said the Doctor “isn’t [her] anything.”

he's my best friend

Unfortunately this little speech seems to push cyber-Danny over the edge.  When he takes off his mask (since when to cybermen helmets come apart this way?) we get the feeling that he is not coming back.  Up to this point we though that maybe he might come back, but now, with his rotting flesh on display we get the sense that this is the end of him.   Clara is basically suicidal at this point, which is proven by how violently she throws her phone(no person in their right mind would throw their phone that way).

When first watched this, and Kate is sucked out of the airplane I think that maybe there will be a time reset in this episode. I mean, look at the body count.  I am both hoping and not wanting a time reset.

I don’t have a lot to say about the Doctor diving into his TARDIS while the James Bond type music plays.  Again, a little too campy for my tastes.

The next few scenes are excellently acted.  Jenna, pulls out all the stops again. Seriously, this girl must have been swollen eyed and crying for days to film this.  The conclusion of this heartbreaking conflict is that Clara is an officer.  The Doctor walks away and Clara does what she has to do for the greater good.  Her confession that “she wasn’t very good at it” but she did love Danny, was perhaps the truest thing she has said this whole season.

i did love youi did love you

But while all this is well acted, it doesn’t strike a cord with me like I think it should.  I find that I’m not as invested in Danny Pink as maybe I could be, and his criticizing the Doctor up until the very end hasn’t helped.  Clara spends the rest of the episode basically shut down emotionally.

When Missy gives the cyberman controller to the Doctor I’m truly confused.  I do love her sing-song line, “I need my friend back.”   I also love the flashbacks of the major themes of the series; as a die-hard fan I’ve already made these connections, but still it’s nice to see them tied in here.

The Doctors conclusion that he is an “idiot with a box” feels like a bit of a cop-out.  If anything, this episode proved that the Doctor is an officer, after all, in the end he gives the command to Danny, the soldier, to solve the conflict.

solute

The cyber-Brigadier appearance was a big moment for a lot of fans.  I’ve watched enough classic Who to know who the Brigadier was, but not enough to have the affection for him so many others have evidently.  I did like that the Doctor solutes cyber-Brigadier as a show of respect for soldiers, a nice turn around from his anti-soldier attitudes all season.

hug

This last scene is the only one this episode that brings tears to my eyes.  They’ve spent so much time lying to each other all season, but here they are lying to protect each other.   It was pointed out on this thread at Gallifrey Base there is a white clock on the wall behind Clara, who is dressed in white, and a black chalkboard behind the Doctor, who is dressed in black.  The Doctor even tells Clara that she’s “on the clock.” The chalkboard has been associated with the Doctor since Deep Breath, but how is Clara represented by a clock?  Perhaps because Clara’s time is coming to an end??

The Project

aprons ideas

I’ve taken some time to sketch out my ideas and make an accounting of what I already own and what I need to buy.

Starting on the Rapunzel apron, I cut across right where the ties attach.  Then I cut the front in half up and down and sew a pizza shape piece of pink fabric into it. I’ve gathered the “skirt” and then resewed it back onto the top part.   I’m really  just making this up as I go, but so far so good.

purple apron

Here is what I’ve got so far.

Doctor Who: Dark Water and Princess Aprons part 1

Confession: since it was aired six days ago I’ve watched Dark Water five times, and yes, that’s right, I’m going to watch it again. I’m also starting a new project today, Princess Aprons for my teenage daughters and not be left out, a Minecraft Apron for my son  (I considered a prince apron for him, Hans maybe, but he’d never go for it).

The TV Show

So when I went to watch this episode for the first time, I considered grabbing some tissues as I headed for the couch but then thought, “no, it’s the first half of a two-parter. I won’t need tissues until the second part.”  And then there I was, 15 minutes in, crying my eyes out, running for TP in the bathroom because, stupidly, I don’t keep a tissue box downstairs.  That’s a fine start.  Even now, I can’t take out my project until I get past the volcano and Clara/Twelve scenes.

There are so many great bits here:

The sticky tabs on the bookshelf,

clara tabs

Clara’s halo, or crown,

halo

Clara’s eyes, dark and large when she talks to the Doctor on the phone.

clara's eyes

Dark water anyone?

Did you catch the key in The Time Traveler’s Wife? Interestingly, the only modern looking book on the Doctor’s shelves.

Both, Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi are acting there socks off here and they totally sell the volcano scene, a scene that could have felt fake or forced, is beautiful and tragic all at the same time.

clara key clara leaf 1

“A future that never got lived, days that should have been that never were, This isn’t just the past, it’s a whole future that never happened.” Rings of Akhaten

inner eye 1inner eye

Clara’s dream patch, reminded me of this scene from Fires of Pompeii.

Ok, yeah, I’m tearing up again. Will I ever watch this Doctor/Clara exchange without getting emotional? Perhaps not.

On the Verity! Podcast, Deb commented that the Doctor forgiving Clara made her think of Christianity, and unconditional love. She was shot down by her fellow podcasters, but I have to agree with Deb here, in that I did make a religious connection with the Doctor saying, “Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference.”    This is a religious undertone I caught on to in Kill the Moon when Clara says to the doctor “That was you, my friend, making me scared.”  It made me think of the idea of a Supreme Creator, who supposedly loves us, but then sends us to earth alone, to work things out on our own and to face hardships.  Religion tells us to trust God, that he loves us, but the reality is that even the faithful sometimes feel betrayed and abandoned.   Take that full circle to this episode, and the Doctor’s reassurances to Clara; it feels like a resolution of that subtext.  Even though God leaves people alone, to work out their own issues, he loves them unconditionally.  In this case, the Doctor is willing to, quite literally, go to Hell for Clara.

And then there is the creepy, yet oddly helpful, Seb, and poor Danny in the Nethersphere.  We all suspected we’d be learning about Danny’s bad day since it was first hinted at in Listen, and here is the revelation. No big surprises here.   This is another scene that is sold on the acting chops of Samuel Anderson, and Chris Addison.  It’s nice to see SA get something that he can really sink his teeth into, seeing as his character has been a little flat since The Caretaker.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t a big surprise since BBC has been showing images of Cybermen in promo material for the last month or so. but still, the reveal of the tomb and the throne sitting skeletons was truly creepy.  I was one of the suckers that bought into Missy being a robot (thought I admit I was disappointed- “is that all there is to it?”)

And the Missy/Doctor kiss!  And Clara’s face!  So nice that they give us little comedic breaks between the emotional turmoil.

Dark-Water-kiss

There are hints of cybermen throughout the episode.  In fact, hints have been given throughout the whole series, if you go back and look for them.  I first noticed the eye/teardrop motif on Missy’s wall in The Forest of the Night, but in retrospect it also appeared on the spaceship nav in Robots of Sherwood, on the vault map of Time Heist, and in the promo material for Kill the Moon.  Well played Moffat.

20141013205631!Kill_the_moon

Do you see it there?

But even the densest of fans couldn’t miss this big hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-hammer hint.

cyber-doors-dark-water-300x168

Not just the doors, but the cyberman theme blasting. It wasn’t a smooth music cut either, it just came blasting in very obvious and in a different key.

Meanwhile, Danny and Clara have their heartbreaking conversation.  Gosh Danny, can you not think of one thing to say to Clara that would prove your identity?  Surely, you talked about something for the past year or so, or however long you’ve been dating.  This was the only place in the whole story where I was frustrated a bit with the writing. I really don’t think Danny is that dense.

The slow reveal of the draining water was perfect, perhaps the best reveal of a baddie ever.  And I especially loved the camera work on the focusing on the cyberman behind Clara, and then she turns to see it.  Ah! So great!

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Am I the only one that jumped to the River Song conclusion when Missy said that she was a ‘Time Lady’ that the Doctor had abandoned using a computer to suck up people’s intelligences?  Yes? Well, I can be slow at times.  I’m glad Missy is the Master. There really was no other solution that would be as satisfying. Some twisted River Song, or future Clara gone bad, or new original character would have all been a disappointment (or heartbreak).  But the Master. Yes. Creepy Mary Poppins. So many possibilities! I hope she sticks around for awhile.

The Project

I first saw princess aprons at comic con this summer. They were frilly princess dresses for the little ones.  Then I saw the more practical aprons online for the grown up types, and I thought that they were perfect for my teenage girls, who are, after all, just grownup princesses at heart.  All the kids like cooking and their aprons are pretty old and outdated.

Here are a few images of what has inspired me:

This is a pattern from Etsy

There is a tutorial for this Anna apron here.

And then for my boy:

I can’t find a link for this one, but I grabbed this pic of pinterest.

Now, I could buy fabric and sew these up, cute as could be.  But I want them to be real, usable aprons, that you can get dirty and I also wanted to make them fast and cheep. So I bought some colored aprons off of eBay for like $3.50 each.  Now I just need to look through my fabric scraps and make a plan.

Unfortunately, I got so wrapped up in the episode and posting screen shots, that all I got finished this time is taking the aprons out of the wrappers and sending them through the wash.  They aren’t exactly the colors I wanted, but I will make do.  Hopefully, as I go I will work out a better balance between reviewing and crafting.

Until next time.