Thursday, May 26, 2016

Exploring California Through Little Passports

Trevor received his final Little Passports USA Edition kit a few months ago and we were both sad to see it end. But then we realized... why does the fun need to end? There's so much packed into each state that we didn't do every single activity the first time around. We decided to go back and complete the things we didn't do the first time and repeat our favorites!

Note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning that I will receive payment for any Little Passports purchases made through the links. All opinions are always my own.

Trevor and I started with our home state of California. He was in 3rd grade when that packet originally arrived; now that he's in 4th grade, he's been studying California state history and was eager to see how the Little Passports activities matched up with what he'd been studying in school. We went through the Journal together and redid the puzzles and activities. He was delighted to see that he knew the answers to questions he'd had to decode or work out last year.

Then we dug out the pop-out cable car model he'd made last year. It was even more cool to him now that he's actually ridden on one of San Francisco's famed cable cars.

Trevor had a great time cooking buñuelos when studying the California Missions, so he was eager to make the recipe in the Little Passports California Journal: tortillas. We chose a day when Trevor's grandparents and Aunt Teri (the one who gave him the Little Passports subscription) would be over. Teri and Trevor worked together to make the dough and shape it.  
Here's Trevor with a plate of tortillas ready to be cooked. 

He's getting more and more comfortable with the stove. He's still nervous, but his confidence is growing. He did a good job getting a perfect golden brown on the tortillas.

Trevor opted to sample a tortilla before dinner to make sure they'd be tasty enough for the family to enjoy. They passed the test!

The final activity in the California Journal was a science experiment. Trevor loves science and this one was so easy. We took a dish, needle, and magnet into the backyard. Trevor put water in the dish, picked a leaf, followed the directions to magnetize the needle, and then set the needle on the leaf. We watched as it turned to point north. Cool!

This is the experiment he demonstrated to the Cub Scouts during our Geology unit. It was a hit.

Our final activity was to make handprint art inspired by the Chinese Theater. I used a foam brush to paint Trevor's hands. He pressed them on grey cardstock, washed up, then used a paintbrush to add his name and the date. 

Expect more Little Passports adventures from Trevor and me in the near future!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

National Scrapbook Day: Let's Get Inky (Mixed Media) Challenge

For me, a big part of National Scrapbook Day is working way outside my comfort zone, which is why I attempted the mixed media challenge at There are a lot of reasons I don't work in mixed media when scrapbooking: I prefer a clean look when photos are involved; I don't like dealing with drying time; and I don't like dimensional items on my scrapbook layouts. That said, I do think it is really fun! For the challenge, I tried to create a layout that matched my style but still used mixed media products and techniques. A hybrid, of sorts:

In choosing a paper, I looked for something that I could keep mostly clean but still add mixed media techniques. The ampersand paper was perfect. Well, almost. While I liked the design, I didn't like the original color combination of peach and aqua. The first step was using a brown pen to color in the aqua. It created an interesting deep dark blue.

Then I chose the two largest chipboard letters I could find and painted them - pink for Allison (my niece) and blue for Trevor. When the paint was dry, I used embossing paste and stencils to add patterns on the letters. When the paste was dry, I added ink. The drying time was ridiculous- I finished three whole layouts just waiting for paint and paste to dry. Worse, I'm not crazy about how the letters came out, reinforcing why I don't do mixed media when scrapbooking! Still, I'm glad it's done and that I tried it. And I'm very happy to have the cute photos of the happy cousins in the album. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

National Scrapbook Day: The Paws Have It (Pet-Themed) Challenge

Back to my National Scrapbook Day projects! I made this simple page for's pet-themed challenge.

It literally took less than 10 minutes, making it the fastest page I've ever made by far. I think it helps that my subject is so photogenic. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Inspirational Canvas Baptism Gifts

Remember the canvas I painted during my experimentation with expressive flower art? I made two more using different color combinations. Here are all three together: 


I turned them into inspirational canvases as gifts for my goddaughters, Kylinn and Ellia, and their mom, Courteney. Yesterday marked 5 years since their baptisms

This one is for my goddaughter, Kylinn. I think this verse suits her perfectly. 

This one is for Ellia. She's beautiful inside and out, and the love of God shines through her. 

This one is for Courteney. Again, strength. Her path hasn't always been easy, but she remains positive and is always a pleasure to be around. 

I finished these canvases the day before our church was blindsided by some terrible news. I'm glad these were finished and that I had a few days with them before giving them away. I'm going to make one for myself once I figure out what verse to use.

Want to make your own? Obviously, you're not limited to choosing Bible verses. Consider inspirational quotes, uplifting messages, or even something silly that makes you smile.  


Inspirational Canvas 

Materials: blank canvas (mine is 5" x 7"), white gesso, acrylic paints (around 5 colors, including black), paintbrush, palette (or Frisbee), paper trimmer, colored cardstock that coordinates with one color of paint, black cardstock, pen, craft glue

  1. Prime your canvas with gesso and let it dry. 
  2. Put a small amount of each paint onto your palette. Create shades of each by blending the colors with each other. Cover the entire canvas with swaths of color. Rinse your brush. Let the background dry.
  3. Add large flowers and small flowers to the canvas, covering about 60% of the background. Do not clean the brush. You'll get interesting colors when dipping into a new color with a hint of the previous color on the brush. Continue to add layers of paint to the canvas. Some flowers will get covered, which is fine. Vary the sizes and shapes for an expressive look. 
  4. Add centers to the flowers using just a dab of light-colored paints. Set the canvas aside and clean the brush.
  5. When the canvas is dry, use your finger to run black paint along the edges to clean it up and give a more finished look.
  6. Select an inspirational verse or quote and write it on strips of cardstock. Mat the cardstock strips with black cardstock.
  7. When the canvas is completely dry, glue the cardstock strips to the canvas.

If you make one, please let me know! I'd love to see a photo.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Cub Scouts: Earth Rocks!

Trevor's Webelos den (aka, the 4th grade Cub Scout group) is flying through their requirements before they graduate from Cub Scouts and into Boy Scouts next March. I've been in charge of teaching the "Earth Rocks!" (geology) unit this month. You might recall that I did a Geology Belt Loop Night for the same group of boys last year (before belt loops went away). The challenge with "Earth Rocks!" was to come up with completely different activities for the boys to cover much of the same material, but at a deeper level.

We started with a field trip to a nearby rock store. Calling it a 'rock store' is a bit misleading though. It is absolutely huge, a former fruit packing factory. There are different rooms, many themed areas, and literally thousands of different kinds of rocks on display. My favorite is the amethyst room. It is stunning. If you're at all local, go.

At our next meeting, we decorated an egg carton to house a den rock collection. (I painted it with white gesso ahead of time and let it dry so that the boys could decorate it with crayons and color pencils during the meeting.

We consulted maps to identify geologic features...

.... and took a hike into the hills near our house to make observations.

We stopped on a hilltop with an amazing view and talked about different forces that could shape the landscape as we see it. Wind, fire, rain and earthquakes all occur here; each (along with human and/or animal influence) can impact the land. 

When we finished our hike, we collected different rocks along a trail and from neighbors' yards (with permission, of course). The boys found 12 different rocks and created a label for each with the sample number, description (color, size, etc), and the date and location of collection.

For our third meeting, I turned our backyard into a geology laboratory. Working in teams of two, the boys selected a rock from the collection and ran it through a series of tests, gathering and recording the data.

They used magnifying glasses to check the structure of the crystals, checked the luster, streak and cleavage on the patio, dripped vinegar to check for the presence of calcite, used Mohs tests for hardness, and finally used a rock ID book to make a tentative identification. Each pair tested six of the rocks from our den's rock collection.

For our final "Earth Rocks!" meeting, we started with a demonstration by Trevor about making a compass from a needle, magnet and leaf. Each time I've led a Cub Scout adventure, I've tried to include Trevor in the leadership. He's an excellent teacher and a big help.

We opened the geodes that Grandma had put in Trevor's Easter eggs (GREAT idea for a non-candy Easter egg idea, by the way). He'd wanted to save them all this time to open them during our Geology unit.

We played a geology version of Four Corners Trivia and the winner got to keep our den's rock collection. The lucky winner was SO happy! Next, we did an Edible Geology activity that was a lot of fun. I swapped out green Tootsie Rolls for the saltwater taffy.

Trevor led the final activity: a geology wordsearch that led to a hidden treasure: polished rocks for the Scouts to keep. They were in the treasure chest I made about 5 years ago. That thing has gotten a LOT of use over the years!

Another super fun month with the Cub Scouts!