Friday, February 5, 2016

43 New-to-Me ... #37 Kiwano

Next up for my 43 New-to-Me birthday challenge is #37, kiwano. This fruit is part of the cucumber and melon family, but it's the exterior that made me buy it.

I like cucumbers and I like melons, but I wasn't crazy about the kiwano. To me, it tasted more like banana than melon. I don't love bananas. It definitely had a squash taste, but the texture was unfamiliar. The jelly simply did not want to separate from the seeds. The seeds are edible, but too large for me to want to eat. I gave the kiwano a 4. Steve said 3 and Trevor said 5. So not the worst thing I've tried by far, but not the best either.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

CreativeLive: #28toMake, Project 1 and 2

I've been a big fan of CreativeLive for awhile now. I had the amazing experience of being one of six people in the studio audience for Lain Ehmann's 'Scrapbook Your Story' in 2014. Over the past two years, I've taken probably a dozen CreativeLive classes (all excellent). Each time they send me an email about upcoming classes, I check them out and make time for the ones that are the best fit for me. 

The most recent email was advertising a completely different format of class than their usual live weekday workshops. The class is called 28 to Make, inspired by the belief that it takes 28 days to make or break a habit. It consists of 28 daily creative projects. The assignments are sent by email to complete at your leisure. The projects are designed to be quick and doable (20 minutes max) and are presented by five different teachers (including Lara McCormick, author of the Playing with Type book I love).

You might be thinking, "What is the cost for this month-long class? Surely I can't afford it." You can. It's free. Seriously. No catch. There are over 12,000 students right now and that number keeps growing. If this even remotely interests you, head over there and sign up. You have nothing to lose.

I'll be sharing my projects in batches, starting with the first two today. The Day 1 assignment was to draw your drink. I've been drinking Celestial Seasonings Cinnamon Apple Spice Herbal Tea obsessively for about a year, after my doctor said I needed to dramatically increase my liquids. At first, I drank more milk, juice, lemonade, cocoa and other drinks I love, but the caloric implications of that caught up with me. (Sigh.) I had to find a tolerable zero-calorie option that I'd like enough to actually voluntarily drink. After trying practically everything on the market, I found this tea.

Rather than drawing my mug, I chose to draw the box with one tea bag underneath it. I used black pens and a Strathmore sketch pad that were in my Michaels swag bag from CHA (thanks Michaels!). I added a title, the date and the 28toMake hashtag, then made a border using the ingredients in the tea. It took about 15 minutes.

The assignment on Day 2 was to sketch a houseplant. My favorite houseplant is one we call the Umbrella Plant. I don't know what it actually is, but it droops slightly when it needs water (like an umbrella starting to close). It's a great reminder to me to water all the houseplants. Since getting the umbrella plant, I haven't lost a single houseplant to thirst because it is so good about telling me exactly when it wants water. This sketch took about 10 minutes.

Neither sketch is a masterpiece, but they're at least recognizable and a good step outside my comfort zone. Best of all, it was a lot of fun.

Have I convinced any of you to sign up? 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

My Favorites, Inspired by The Scrap Gals Podcast #61

I'm continuing to work my way through episodes of The Scrap Gals Podcast. If you haven't checked it out, you should.

I'm now caught up through March 2015, so it shouldn't be too long before I'm hearing the episodes as they're released. I really enjoy the variety of topics, the interaction between Tiffany and Tracie, and the pace and length of each episode.

Episode 61 is titled "Our Favorites" and it is 55 minutes of Tiffany and Tracie answering readers' prompts about all their scrapbook favorites. As usual, I find myself one part Tiffany (the photo-driven, journaling-heavy part), one part Tracie (the planning, want-it-to-be-just-right, organized part), and another part neither of them. I thought it would be fun to answer the same prompts they did, so I took notes during the episode.

Some of the categories I've already answered in a blog post. My favorite adhesives haven't changed, nor my favorite toolI still love Echo Park paper (with Simple Stories a very close second), Bazzill cardstock, my Fiskars bypass trimmer and Simple Stories' stickers. With those out of the way, let's move on to the rest of the questions!


Favorite place to have photos printed:
This is a tough one. I've tried most of the mail-order ones and have had mixed results. I don't like waiting the 5+ days to have them show up, so 99% of the time I just get one-hour photos from somewhere in town. I've tried most of those, too. Occasionally I'll find one that is GREAT and keep using it until all of a sudden it is lousy. Believe it or not, Walmart has the best 1-hour printing right now, but only when a certain employee is working. He is a perfectionist (not something you see at Walmart very often) and CARES that my photos look good. If I need photos during a time he isn't working, I use Costco in the next town over. They're almost as good and right next door to Trevor's ice skating lessons, so it's convenient as well.
Favorite album:
Another tough one. For a long time, I used Mrs. Grossman's Perfect Album, but they've been discontinued for years. I've tried a bunch of others and don't love any of them as much. 
Favorite technique: 
Hmm... maybe inking edges? I love Chestnut Roan ink on pretty much everything! 
Favorite subject to photograph:
That has to be Trevor. I also like taking selfies of Steve and me together. 
Favorite journaling technique: 
I like handwritten paragraphs that tell the story. I write in 1st person and try to work in the details that make the memory special. 
Favorite approach to scrapping:
I'm photo-driven. I always start with the photos when designing a page. The photos illustrate the story I want to tell and dictate what supplies I use.
Favorite colors to scrap:
I use a lot of earth tones in my scrapping, mostly because they look good with our skin tones and don't draw too much attention from the photos. But I really like using other colors if they don't fight with the photos. I'd say my favorite colors to scrap change to be whatever colors I haven't used in awhile!
Favorite go-to page design:
I'm all about the grid. When in doubt, line things up.  
Favorite part of the scrapping process:
I LOVE taking a newly-printed stack of photos, cropping them down and piecing them together on a page, thinking about where my title and journaling will go. It's like a puzzle.
Favorite place to buy scrapbook supplies:
We haven't had a local scrapbook store in ages and I'm not crazy about the selection at the big box stores, so 99.9% of my shopping is through They carry pretty much everything, have excellent customer service, offer frequent deals, and ship things out very promptly. Not to mention the excellently-written product descriptions! (If you see a description in the Superstore that has grammatical errors or is just plain weird, that's not one of mine.)
Favorite place to find inspiration: 
Blogs for sure! I follow most of the manufacturers' blogs, as well as many of my fellow crafters' blogs. I see inspiring projects every single day. 
Favorite people to be inspired by:
Tough question. There are so many people who inspire me. I'm not going to name names, since I would surely leave out too many! 
Favorite time to scrap:
I'm a morning person, so I am most productive then. And I strongly prefer scrapping with natural light, so definitely daytime. But the time I scrap is much less important to me than the conditions under which I scrap. My favorite is to have an entire day, alone in the house, with no interruptions. It's part of why I love National Scrapbook Day so much.

So how about you? I'd love to hear how you'd answer the same questions.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Trouble-Approved Rabbit Gift: The Rabbik's Cube

We're one of those households who considers our pet to be a full-fledged member of the family. We spoil our house rabbit, Trouble, with specialty hays, his favorite treats, and plenty of toys and other things to keep him stimulated and happy. Trevor spent his own money to buy a Cottontail Cottage for Trouble's 5th birthday back in October.

While researching the Cottontail Cottage, we came across the Rabbik's Cube

Sold by Napoleon Bunnyparte. Love that name.

Unfortunately, it was sold out and continued to be as Christmas approached. Trevor asked my dad, Woodworker Extraordinaire, to help him make one to give to Trouble. Here's what they made:

As you can see, they added many of the same elements as the original Rabbik's Cube. All the wood is untreated and safe for gnawing. So how does Trouble like his new toy? A lot. He loves throwing it, carrying it, and gnawing on it. 

A happy, stimulated, entertained rabbit is a non-destructive rabbit. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Candy Cane Taste Test

This year, many of my friends and family received a Candy Cane Taste Test for Christmas. 

The idea was inspired by my sister. For years, Kari has said she doesn't want anything that isn't consumable. (I'm super proud of the edible Seinfeld-themed gift I got her a few years ago.) In September, she said she just wanted a big basket of snack food for Christmas. For the next three months, every time I found an interesting and/or new-to-me snack food, I bought some and tossed it in her basket. 

Along the way, I found some really unique flavors of candy canes. I bought a few packs, thinking I'd pull out a few for Kari, keep one for each of us, and use the rest to decorate other people's gifts. Well, as time went on, I kept finding more and more totally unusual flavors of candy canes. Eventually, I found 24 different ones (23 pictured here):

They include flavors such as hot cocoa, Dr. Pepper, Red Hots, Orange Crush, Sour Patch Kids, and more. With 12 candy canes in a box and 24 different flavors, it was a bit unreasonable to split them just between Kari and the three of us. And that's when I decided to give a bunch of friends a mystery pack of candy canes. 

I used letter stickers to label each candy cane and kept a master list for myself.

I cut chipboard into rectangles and cut cardboard tubes into 2-inch rounds. I painted each black, then used a hot glue gun to attach the tubes to the base. I printed out labels and filled each tube with an assortment of candy canes.

Each person got ten different flavors and instructions to tell me when they're ready to make their guesses.

I was completely unprepared on Christmas morning when my family pooled their candy canes and broke one of each unique flavor to share before 9:00 am! I had to email them the answers when I got home that evening. Other friends have asked for answers one by one, while others have given me their whole list at once. It's been a lot of fun. I highly recommend doing your own candy cane taste test next year!