New Website!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

House of Little Tomato is making a move, to a new website! 

For new content, follow the link to House of Little Tomato: www.houseoflittletomato.com

Party kits are also now available on my Etsy shop at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HouseOfLittleTomato

The Escape from Wizard Prison Game kit is also now available in the shop! 


Wizard School Party Kit!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

It has been 'radio silent' here for a while, life has been busy! Many knitting projects have been completed, work has been humming, and it was the most drawn-out winter weather in my memory... but I have also been working on party kits!

Wizard School Hunt Party Kit
The first kit 'ready to go' is the "Wizard School Hunt." Now live on the Etsy shop HERE.

The kit includes instructions on the gameplay & setup of the room, all puzzles & clues needed to play the game, and solutions pages for all included puzzles, riddles & clues. I have tweaked the game components for easier setup and minimizing 'outside purchases.' While theme-related props will add to the party fun and challenge of finding clues, they are not required to play the game.

The Wizard School Hunt is a 'middle-grade' level game, suitable for 9-13 year olds. The gameplay, clues, and puzzles are more simple than our harder puzzle-based games. The clues in this game are a mix of 'scavenger hunt' straightforward clues, riddle-based clues, and elementary level math & logic puzzles (1 each).

The Chamber of Secrets Hunt Kit contains:

Instructions for gameplay & setup
Clue & puzzle solutions

(1) Printed checklist (PDF included with purchase to print additional sheets as needed).
(1) Diary page to start the game
(16) Clue cards
(22) Suspect, Beast, & Location cards
(2)  Logic puzzle cards (PDF worksheet included with purchase to print additional worksheets as needed)
(1) Booklist
(1) Math puzzle
(1) Math puzzle lock tag
(1) Floo Powder label sticker

*Qty. (3) Three-digit combination locks are needed for gameplay, not included. This keeps the cost of both the kit and shipping down.

These are professionally printed on a luxurious soft matte thick cardstock. I'm not going to lie, they're quite dreamy. 😉

For more details on the party in action, check out THIS post.

Next up, the Escape from Wizard Prison Party Game Kit! This will be a more challenging game kit, heavily puzzle-based, and ideally launching later this year.




Luna Lion Hat, Part 3: Complete!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Part 1, Supplies: HERE
Part 2, Process: HERE



Hear it ROAR: 



"I'm supporting Gryffindor," said Luna, pointing unnecessarily at her hat. "Look what it does..." She reached up and tapped the hat with her wand. It opened it's mouth wide and gave an extremely realistic roar that made everyone in the vicinity jump."


- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling

Since the last post, I have done some minor tweaking:

I took a hammer to the head. Since the hat was already fairly complete, only minor shaping was possible at this point. So I took a hammer and pounded the foam ball portion of the head (*lightly*) to do some minor additional shaping.

The eyes were REALLY bothering me. They were a tad large, and seemed to be 'glued-to,' rather than 'set-into,' the head... which they basically were. And it annoyed me. So I ripped / cut them out of the head, pounded the eye holes a bit to make them more inset, molded and painted new eyes, and added the new eyes to the head.

I also needed to add the earrings to the ear. It was difficult to find rings large enough to fit the ear, and  I didn't want to pay $$ for large hoop earrings either. I ended up finding silicone rolling pin guide rings at Hobby Lobby that were the right size and thickness. I painted them gold and then attached them to the ear.

Finally, I added a 'Weasley is our King' pin to the opposite ear... because it totally fits. I may move it to my sweater when I have the full costume going, but at the moment it is in the ear. Pin can be found at LitJoy Crate, if they are still in stock, HERE.

Luna Lion Hat, Part 2: Design Process

Sunday, January 13, 2019

“She had managed to procure a hat shaped like a life-sized lion’s head, which was perched precariously on her head.”

See post 1 with the supply list HERE.

Jumping in, the first step to making the hat was to saw off the bottom part of the foam ball and duct tape it to the helmet.

Yes, the project started with duct taping a foam ball to a bike helmet.

I had debated whether to only purchase a half ball, as they were less expensive, but I determined that more than half of the ball was needed to get the shape I wanted. I cut off approximately 1/4 of the ball.


Once the ball was securely mounted to the helmet, I sketched out the muzzle front onto cardboard and cut it out. It was also duct taped to the helmet. With the muzzle on the helmet, I sketched out a nose bridge onto cardboard as well, and duct taped this to attach the muzzle and foam ball.


If I were to do this again (which I will NOT), I would have made the nose bridge less steep. In retrospect, this bridge was too gradual and appears more 'bearlike' than lion for my extremely neurotic tendencies.

Muzzle:


I used tracing paper to trace the muzzle and then cut out the shape in both batting and the lion face fabric, a wool felt (this was leftover yardage from another project, years ago).

* Wool felt is more structurally stable than synthetic felt, so seams are stronger and it doesn't melt or go wonky with hot glue.. Essentially, I would highly recommend that you use the 'real' stuff for the face. It is a lot easier to work with. 
** Also, a word of caution:  If you use any woven textile (flannel included), there is the possibility of unraveling and/or curling of the exposed edges.

I also cut out the nose/  mouth pieces in black felt and hot glued them to the felt muzzle. I added a little extra stuffing in the nose cavity too, to make it 'pop.'

The batting and felt were lightly sewn together with an opening at the top so I could stuff it lightly with some 'Cluster Stuff,' polyester fiberfill. The original hat muzzle has some 'softness' to it, so I did not want the muzzle to be directly applied to a stiff piece of cardboard.


Face:

From this point, I draped some batting on top of the hat and used a sharpie to sketch out the shape I wanted the side face panels to hold. When I cut out the shapes, I pinned them to the head to make sure they worked properly IN BATTING before I made the commitment to cut them out in the felt.


With the 'pattern' that I used for the pieces, I left what I am loosely calling a 'seam allowance' on the fabric. I knew where I wanted each piece to end, but the other pieces would overlap this one and I allowed for a 'fudge factor' to trim the finished face as needed.

Once the side panels were finished, I started gluing the pieces to the head.

The first piece to glue was the muzzle.

The second were the two side face panels.

The third was the middle of the head/ nose bridge. This allowed them to stack how I wanted the exposed edges to stack.


Once the face was finished, I constructed the ears. These were made by sketching out the shape and size onto tracing paper, and cutting out four pieces in the 'face' color.

I left a seam allowance, as I sewed together two pieces (outer ear shape, wrong sides facing), turned right-side-out, then sewed an inner ear line.

I stuffed between the outer and inner ear to make them full.

Once the ears were stuffed, I glued a contrasting felt fabric piece into the inner ear and glued the ears to the head.

I sketched an eye shape onto tracing paper, then once the eye shape was to my liking, I cut out two into black felt and glued them to the head as well.


Finally, I used the same method of batting draped over the head to sketch out and piece together the back of the head. Though the mane covers it, I wanted to have a finished head, in case you see any of the head through the mane.


Whiskers, Eyes & Teeth:

The whiskers were made with a long floral wire. I had a few of these on hand. These were painted black (general acrylic black paint), cut to length, and stuck into the face. The wire sticks into the foam ball and stays in place. I was not too worried about shaping them at this point, as they were certain to get bent around while I continued to work on the head.

* I ended up adding a bead of hot glue on the ends of each of the sharp ends of the whiskers, as they kept scratching me while I was turning the head later. The bead isn't very noticeable, but definitely made a difference on the annoyance of the whiskers.

The eyes and teeth were sculpted out of Sculpey clay (oven bake clay). I had white clay in my stash. The teeth were free formed and baked. The eyes were sculpted by putting the clay in a measuring spoon, so they were equally round on the face of them. I popped the clay out of the measuring spoons and did a little smoothing then baked the eyes. Once the eyes were cool, I used gold and black acrylic paints to paint the color of the eyes onto the clay.

Face Details:

A yellow-gold embroidery floss was used to highlight the nose, eyes and face of the lion. The floss outlined the nose and eyes, and then traced the seam lines of the face pieces to accentuate the seam lines. The seam stitching on the original lion head looked hand-stitched, so I tried to simulate that look, though the actual adhesion of the face is glue.


Mane:

The mane is composed of felt fabric scraps, ribbons, and yarn. This was a complete hodge-poge of what I had laying around. The felt fabric was left-over yardage from old projects, most of the ribbon and yarn were also scraps of what I had laying around. A few (gold) ribbons were bought from Christmas clearance bins.  

I found a 'crochet' scrap of trim at a hobby store on clearance for $0.99 and used this as a base netting that the mane was knotted onto. I secured the netting to the head and then knotted layers of the fabrics, ribbons, and yarns onto the netting in layers, making it thick and diverse in textures and colors. The lower layers are darker (more dark brown and siena tones) and the top layers included lighter tans and ivories. It created more depth of tone and color. 

Once the scraps were on the head, I went back through the layers and trimmed the tips to make them pointy (they are still the blunt strips in the photo below).



The movie version of the hat looked to be comprised of scraps as well. It really appeared to be eclectic blend of miscellaneous textured and colored scraps in brown, tan, cream, and crimson tones. There are some more 'loose wool' almost moss-like layers in the original hat that I am still scouting out. I will likely continue to add random scraps of fabrics and yarns and ribbons as I find them. But it is relatively complete. The original also had two awesome bronze rings on one ear. I found an amazing ring that, unfortunately, was too small for the size of these ears. I'm still scouting that out as well. 

Mane Detail:



Front of the Lion:




I think I am going to do a little touch up to the eyes as well, so the black center of the eye is more 'forward facing.' Minor tweaks are still to come, as I am not completely happy with the final result and I still have *months* before the Halloween party. 

“I’m supporting Gryffindor,” said Luna, pointing unnecessarily at her hat. “Look what it does....” She reached up and tapped the hat with her wand. It opened its mouth wide and gave an extremely realistic roar that made everyone in the vicinity jump.”
From the beginning, I really wanted the hat to RAWR! Though the movie never showed Luna's hat roar, the book CLEARLY noted that Luna made her hat roar. I thought this was such a cute, and Luna thing to do. I had to make mine roar. 

I created a pocket in the helmet to hold the mechanism, and a pocket in the front of the mouth under the front lip to hold the button. This allowed for me to tap the hat with my wand to make it roar, JUST LIKE LUNA.  I did a quick video clip below. A seriously fun nerdy bonus to the hat. 




Luna Lion Hat, Part 1: Supplies Assembled

Friday, January 11, 2019

For our annual Halloween escape room party, Husband and I are typically working out details and building the party props and puzzles. The months leading up to Halloween are full of our usual school year schedule... and party planning.

Then, in the week before the party, we realize... Oh. We didn't really think out a costume.

We end up each throwing on a school robe at the last minute. Everyone shows up in spectacular costumes, and I think,  "Next year, amirite?"

Thus, this year, I decided that I would start our costumes now. You know, why not make your Halloween costume in JANUARY? 😋

I had this idea in mind for a while, but I knew the costume would take a while to make it 'right.'
I bought the supplies I needed and started assembling the random miscellaneous other supplies that I have hoarded over the years. My inability to get rid of miscellaneous leftover project supplies really came in handy this time!


Escape from Azkaban Party: Escape Room Game, Part 9 END GAME!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

** For all Escape from Azkaban party posts, see the Escape from Azkaban section of the blog HERE**

During this second round of rooms, we played off of the idea of the time-turner. The players would be revisiting their past events, looking at them from another angle, and solving what they couldn't before. This could be achieved because they found a time-turner... and a blacklight flashlight. 😉

The previous room held the final two clues needed to reach the end game:

One clue card, a RAT.
An eighth and final key that matched the first seven.

Now... as this game progressed, the groups were collecting small keys. Once they received the blacklight, they also noticed that each of these keys had a number on them (1-8).

In Diagon Alley, there was a bag with a time-turner on it. This bag was locked with a hasp that had 8 matching locks AND a letter lock. This was the final locked item they had not yet broken. With mere minutes (or less!) left, they rushed back to this bag and began to solve for the end game.


If you don't remember (I know, it was 8 posts ago now!), the end game was to find the RAT that framed you. As the final clue card was a rat, it was reasonable to deduce that this bag would contain the rat.

The 8 small keys, numbered 1-8 in blacklight, matched up with the 8 locks on the hasp. As they were not keyed alike, the blacklight helped match the lock to key quickly, rather than trial and error with the keys.

This left one final lock, the letter lock.

As this was a 'time-turner round,' the steps they had taken previously were to be looked at through another light... the blacklight.

Each CLUE CARD they had collected throughout the game lit up under the black light. Each piece was a part of a bigger puzzle...



The image made up a time-turner.

The cards were designed in such a way that ALL cards had to be found to break the letter lock on the end game bag. The image was laid out to ensure that every single card had text that was needed to solve the four letter code.

The central band of the time-turner had the number 4323, but the lock was LETTERED.

The outer band of the time-turner read:

FOUR EQUALS V
ONE PLUS ONE EQUALS "SEA"
AND EYE IN A LETTER EQUALS SIX MINUS THREE

This translated to: V I C I

The four letter code was VICI.

*Fun fact: I'm a nerd. I did not want the final lock to be a 'guess-able' word, but didn't want it to be gibberish either... so I chose VICI, the Latin word for "I conquered." Apt choice, don't you think?


Once this bag was opened, the game was over! The bag contained a toy rat.

The timer was set for 45 minutes at the beginning of the game. Only one of the three groups completed the game in this allotted time, but all groups were finished in under 52 minutes.

And that concludes the Escape from Azkaban Escape Room!



Escape from Azkaban Party: Escape Room Game, Part 8 Divination Classroom Time-Turner Round!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

** For all Escape from Azkaban party posts, see the Escape from Azkaban section of the blog HERE**

During this second round of rooms, we played off of the idea of the time-turner. The players would be revisiting their past events, looking at them from another angle, and solving what they couldn't before. This could be achieved because they found a time-turner... and a blacklight flashlight. 😉

They eye clue card the groups received in Knockturn Alley led back to the Divination classroom...


At this point, the time is running out, they are nearing the finish line...

There was one locked item (with a matching eye on it!) left in the Divination classroom, and it had a four letter lock.

The eye on their clue card also matched the eye on the parchment with holes. The eye had significance.

The groups looked for something with relevance to an eye. This was a relatively simple task for this final hurdle, the logic puzzle that they used on the first visit to the classroom had an eye that matched the clue card AND the parchment.


The parchment matched this paper size exactly. When it was laid on top of this puzzle, the three words that were revealed were, "Solve for SITS."


The four letter lock was opened with the word SITS.

See, this one was quite simple!


This bag held only two items:

One clue card, a RAT.
An eighth and final key that matched the first seven.

Now... as this game progressed, the groups were collecting these small keys. Each conquered step included a key. Once they received the blacklight, they also noticed that each of these keys had a number on them (1-8).

In the first room, Diagon Alley, there was a bag with a time-turner on it. This bag was locked with a hasp that had 8 matching locks AND a letter lock. This was the final locked item they have not yet broken. With mere minutes (or less!) left... back to Diagon Alley!



Escape from Azkaban Party: Escape Room Game, Part 7 Knockturn Alley Time-Turner Round!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

** For all Escape from Azkaban party posts, see the Escape from Azkaban section of the blog HERE**

During this second round of rooms, we played off of the idea of the time-turner. The players would be revisiting their past events, looking at them from another angle, and solving what they couldn't before. This could be achieved because they found a time-turner... and a blacklight flashlight. 😉

The shrunken head clue card in the Gryffindor Common Room led to Knockturn Alley.


The group immediately went to the shrunken head they found in the first round for more clues. That shrunken head did not hold any additional information.

Upon closer examination of the room with the blacklight, they found another shrunken head in Knockturn Alley. The second shop window in the alley had a plexiglass panel over the window to prevent the groups from touching anything in this display. Inside this window display, there were several potion bottles. One of the bottles is in the shape of a shrunken head.


The blacklight illuminated a rune on this bottle...


Using the rune clues that they found in the first round, this rune solved for a three digit number.

The Ancient Rune book lock box that they were unable to open in the first round of Knockturn Alley had a three digit lock... so they used this new 3 digit code to unlock the Ancient Rune book box.


The Ancient Rune lock box contained:

ONE new clue card, an eye.
A seventh small key that matched the first six.
A piece of parchment with three holes cut out. The parchment contained an eye that matched the clue card on a long side of the page (eye not shown, as it was on the opposite side of the paper that is not pictured). 

They eye led back to the Divination classroom!




Escape from Azkaban Party: Escape Room Game, Part 6 Divination Classroom & Diagon Alley Time-Turner Round!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

** For all Escape from Azkaban party posts, see the Escape from Azkaban section of the blog HERE**

The clue card in the Gryffindor Common Room led back to the Divination Classroom.

During this second round of rooms, we played off of the idea of the time-turner. The players would be revisiting their past events, looking at them from another angle, and solving what they couldn't before. This could be achieved because they found a time-turner... and a blacklight flashlight. 😉



The "Unfogging the Future" book in the Divination room has an eye in the center. This book was a book lockbox with a keyed lock that was opened with the silver key they obtained with the clue card.


Inside this box was a locked bag that had a Knight Bus on it. The lock was a five lettered lock.


During the last round of the Divination room, they had completed a logic puzzle that provided a key to associate the divination balls with both letters AND numbers. They had used the numbers, but did not yet have a use for letters. The five numbers of the Knight Bus ticket, when translated into the associated letters of the logic puzzle, unlocked this lock. They just had to figure that out!

This second time in the Divination Classroom, the groups had a tool they did not have previously - a blacklight flashlight. When they saw the Knight Bus image, they immediately tried the flashlight on the Knight Bus ticket, but it did not yield any results.

We provided two separate hints to lead them to how to unlock the letter lock. While they could feasibly guess how to open it by finding only one of these hints, finding BOTH gave a clear picture of how to open the lock.

Hint #1: The Knight Bus jigsaw puzzle they assembled at the beginning of the game

The ticket was not blacklight reactive, but they did have the Knight Bus image in another location - the jigsaw puzzle they completed at the beginning of the game. Where the puzzle originally stated to 'Check Your Ticket,' the blacklight revealed a "#" after the text, changing it to read, "Check your Ticket #."

The ticket number (16195), was five digits, but they were looking for a five LETTER code.

Hint #2: The clue card they were provided was also a clear ball with an eye in the middle. 

There were six divination balls in the room. The logic puzzle only solved for the five COLORED balls. The sixth ball in the room was 'white'. It had not yet been used.


As they shined the blacklight onto the divination balls, the non-colored ball was illuminated with a clue, a Knight Bus with the words, "Do I need to SPELL it out for you?"


They now knew to SPELL out their ticket number. A third more subtle hint was that the logic puzzle had an eye (that matched the divination ball clue card eye) at the top of the page. They key to changing the numbers to letters was the logic puzzle.


Inside the locked bag, they found:
A clue card of a shrunken head.
A sixth small key that matched the first five.

The shrunken head lead back to Knockturn Alley... !

Escape from Azkaban Party: Escape Room Game, Part 5 Gryffindor Common Room Time-Turner Round!

Monday, November 19, 2018

** For all Escape from Azkaban party posts, see the Escape from Azkaban section of the blog HERE**

The puzzle box in the Gryffindor Common Room was the turning point of the escape room.


The puzzle box contained:

ONE new clue card, a watch.
A time turner.
A BLACKLIGHT FLASHLIGHT.

For those who are not very familiar with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the time turner was a necklace that Hermione Granger was given to turn back time for her classes. When Sirius Black needed to be saved, Harry and Hermione used the time turner to go back into time (three turns should do it!) and retrace their steps to change the past and save Sirius.

This time turner was a hint of what was to come... but first, the watch!

There was a second puzzle box in the room that had three dials on the lid. The dials each had a dot, and could be rotated around like a clock.


With the new blacklight in hand, the group could look at the room in a new light... literally.

The Gryffindor Common Room had a message board full of flyers. One of the flyers was for the Gryffindor quidditch team practice schedule. The practice schedule had a list of times. A LOT of times. Without the blacklight, we wouldn't know which ones would be relevant, but with the blacklight, three times were underlined.


When the three dials on the box were turned to 9:00, 6:00, & 3:00, the box was opened.


This puzzle box contained:
ONE new clue card, a divination ball with an eye.
A small silver key.
A fifth small key that matched the first four.

The new clue card led back to the Divination Classroom... retracing our steps.

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