Quick Look Inside “When ‘Aliens’ Move into Your Dorm Room”

If you have used, shared or even browsed through the original “When Aliens Take Your Friends and leave jerks at your lunch table” you know that I developed it using creative activities to help young women and girls work through some of the tough times that can occur in middle and high school.

The 2nd installment in this series edition is focused on older girls who have graduated high school and are living in a college dorm, sharing an apartment with roommates, or living on a military installation when “Aliens” (my term for mean girls, or rough times) invade their lives. Similar to the original “Aliens” project, it suggests creative activities as a path to a better place. In this edition, the activities are higher level, a little harder (not too much harder – just enough to be interesting) and provide a sense of accomplishment when you are finished!

This edition also features a theme of “giving back” so that the activities are done with the intention of giving most of the completed items away. A forgiveness exercise similar to the original ‘paper doll’ exercise from the first edition is also included.

Here’s a sneak peek into one of the activities presented in the 2nd edition. These are my ideas, and you are free to use them for non-profit purposes, with acknowledgment (link back to this site).

NOTE: in the final edition there will be photos provided at key steps – this is still in draft format

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It’s time to focus on a ‘cause’. Different from the first Activity Pack (When Aliens Take Your Friends,…) which is focused on reconnecting with yourself and who you are on the inside, this installment takes that concept to the next level: reaching out and giving back.

There is always a way to reach out; formally, through an agency or informally, person to person.

For Exercise 1 the focus is pets/animals. You may choose to do this activity for a family pet, a pet who belongs to someone you know or for pets being cared for in a local animal shelter (any agency that rescues strays, surrendered and abandoned animals and works to find them “forever homes”).

In this exercise you will make cat toys out of recycled denim. Animal shelters often feature a “wish list” on their web site that helps people who want to donate provide needed items (if you are not familiar with any shelters near you, Google “local animal shelters”). All shelters accept donations of time and money and many also seek things like cat toys, blankets and other items to help the pets feel less like they are being warehoused, and more like they are loved.

To begin, find an old, discarded pair of jeans in the back of your dresser, or closet. If you’re living in a dorm or other multi-housing situation, you may be able to find more than a pair if you ask around, but to start, 1 pair is enough.

You will need the following supplies:

  • Paper (for tracing patterns – newspaper, notebook or computer paper)
  • Scissors
  • Denim (from old jeans or skirts)
  • Catnip (available online or at pet, hardware or discount stores)
  • Sharpie permanent marker in black or other dark color
  • Sewing needle
  • Sewing thread (color to match or coordinate with denim)
  • Piece of leather cord (for mouse tail, only – not needed for fish)
  • Optional: straight or safety pin (to hold fabric together while stitching)

Choose a pattern (below) – in this sneak peek, there’s only the fish… to use the pattern from this website, RIGHT-click on the fish image, choose ‘Save As’ and save the image file to your computer. You can size it up or down using your printer settings when you print out the pattern.

Cut out the paper pattern, and then cut out 2 denim shapes, following the pattern.

If you have never used a needle and thread, preview this short video: Demo of Running Stitch & Back Stitch

Take the 2 denim pieces and lay them together with the right sides to the outside. We will be stitching on the outside, and the finished piece will have ragged edges.

Thread your needle with about 18” of thread. Tie a knot at the end of the thread so it does not pull through the fabric when you begin. Following the suggested outline on the pattern (the dotted lines), insert your needle in between the 2 pieces of denim at one of the squiggly lines (this hides your starting thread tail between the fabric pieces); then stitch the 2 pieces together using the running stitch, moving AWAY from the other squiggly line and around the shape. Stop stitching when you get all the way back around to the 2nd squiggly line area on the pattern, but don’t remove the thread from your needle.

Now it’s time to fill the fish with catnip. You may need to use a pencil to help push some of the catnip into the tail or other narrow parts of the fish.

Once you have it filled to a point where you are happy with it, it’s time to finish stitching the toy closed between the 2 squiggly lines on the pattern.

Add the eyes and smile with a marker and voila! You have a cat toy that any feline would be proud to own!!

Fish pattern

Important note: all cats or dogs toys should be used with supervision! Animal care experts at shelters know this, but if you are giving your toy to a family member or friend, tuck in a little note to remind them.

Now, you have a great way to recycle old jeans, and make some kitty-cats really happy! Happy Kitty (Figgy)

New! (coming soon)

How often do you read that you should “follow your bliss” as Joseph Campbell termed it, or “do what you love, and the money will follow”? Probably more than once.

Have you then tried to think about what it is that you want to do with your life, just to come up with a resounding “Uh,…hmmmmm,… I dunno.” ?

What *is* your bliss, anyway?

A lot of us have trouble answering that very question…

Coming this Summer,…. SmarttChick presents the tool to help you identify your bliss; your ‘sweet spot’. Follow this blog, or sign up on to follow me on Twitter to be among the first to have access to this simple, but powerful tool – so you can FIND the bliss that is right there in front of you, and follow it.free_sunset_road_shutterstock_52140070_web

p.s. and it’s smaller than a breadbox, and is priced at less than a night at the movies…