Friday, July 24, 2015

2,303,327

Trevor set a goal for his 3rd grade year of reaching the 2 Million Word mark in Accelerated Reader before the deadline to have his name printed on the t-shirt. He met his goal in plenty of time and continued on to complete 2,303,327 words by the end of May. 


So proud of him! I can't wait to see what he does during his 4th grade year.

Speaking of Trevor, he and I have something special cooked up for August that involves all of you. I'm going to take next week off blogging so that we can prepare. I'll be back in August with all the details!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pumpkin Party 2014

I blogged about our family's (Sort Of) Annual Pumpkin Party back in October. Now the layout is in the album.


I struggled with how to fit my title of "Pumpkin Party" into the space I'd designated for it. I tried a bunch of different stamps, stickers, chipboard letters, etc. and wasn't happy with any of them. Then I realized that I could replace the word "Pumpkin" with an actual pumpkin and that made all the difference.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

11th Anniversary

Steve and I celebrated our 11th anniversary back in May in beautiful Half Moon Bay, California. We stayed at the Landis Shores Inn with an ocean view. We spent 2 days strolling, geocaching, wine tasting, exploring, hiking, watching movies and eating great food. It was wonderful. 


I didn't realize what a great job we'd done color-coordinating our clothes with the blues of the ocean and the sky. I swear it wasn't intentional!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Coloring Eggs, 2015

I got some scrapping time in with my friends Sheena and Jennifer this weekend, which was awesome. We only get together a few times a year and it's always a blast. And I actually managed to get quite a bit done!

The deRosiers colored eggs twice this past Easter, using two different methods. I thought it would be fun to combine the photos on one layout.


This was a fun layout to make. Anyone recognize the patterned paper that I've been hoarding all these years?!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Jeweled Monograms

I like to browse through the clearance aisles at places like Michaels, Target and Walmart. Nine times out of ten I don't find anything, but every once in a while I find a craft treasure. I recently discovered a bin of $.10 plastic initials, the kind you sprinkle plastic bits into and bake to create faux stained glass art. I bought a C, S and T. Even though I had no plan (and no melty plastic bits), for thirty cents I really couldn't go wrong. Unfortunately, I had to spend at least a dollar's worth of un-du to remove the stupid price tags that wouldn't come off. 


Once the initials were all sparkly clean (I really do love un-du), Trevor and I filled each initial with plastic gems, rhinestones, and sequins. We made an effort to fill in as much of the space as possible, putting the largest gems in first and filling in with smaller items. We used our family colors: red for me, green for Steve and blue for Trevor. (Does everyone have family colors, or is it just us?) Once we had the gems just the way we wanted them, we flooded the initials with Diamond Glaze and left them alone overnight to dry completely.


I love how they turned out. My plan is to string them together and hang them, though I'm not sure where yet. Because they are transparent, they look best against a white surface. With the exception of the master bedroom, we don't have any white walls in the house. That might be where they end up, though I'm going to try some other options first.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Book Review: Star Wars Mania

I've already shared with you some of the cool projects I've made from my Fun Family Crafts boss Amanda Formaro's latest books, Paper Fun Mania and Button Mania. Both books are terrific and I highly recommend them. I've had great fun with all the projects I've done so far.

There was a third book that came with the other two in the box from the publisher....


Sigh. I am not a Star Wars fan. Between doing a dozen Star Wars crafts and throwing Trevor a Star Wars birthday party last summer, I thought I was off the hook for Star Wars crafts for a long, long time. Nope!

Trevor was THRILLED to see Star Wars Mania. He happily grabbed it from me and ran off to get his post-it notes. He returned with almost every page marked in the book. Suddenly, I had a lightbulb moment. It's a kid's craft book, Trevor loves crafts and Star Wars, I'm struggling to occupy Trevor so I can work... I should put Trevor in charge of doing the book review!

I helped him gather materials for his first project, Lightsaber Bookmarks. 


The directions say to paint the craft sticks one side at a time, first with a base coat of white, then with a coat or two of glitter paint, then the black handle, and finally the silver accents. Trevor asked if I thought the Crayola Glitter Markers would work instead of having to wait for all those coats of paint to dry. I encouraged him to give it a try. It worked like a charm. The ink went on in one solid coat with no drying time necessary. Within 5 minutes, Trevor had four lightsabers that he loves.


His next project was a Jawa Rock. I'm not sure what a Jawa is, but Trevor assured me that this was a very cool craft idea. Conveniently, we had a rock already painted brown amongst our craft supplies (leftover from the Bear Pet Rocks the Cub Scouts made last year). Encouraged by how well the glitter markers worked on the lightsabers, Trevor decided to try using a Sharpie for both the face and the bandolier. He loved Amanda's tip about using the back of a paintbrush to make the yellow eyes. I use the back of a paintbrush for small things like that all the time, but apparently I've never shown Trevor that trick. This book, like her others, is full of great hints and tips like that. 


I managed to get about 20 minutes of work time in before Trevor needed my help on his 3rd project from Star Wars Mania, a Duct Tape Lightsaber. He has difficulty unrolling duct tape and tearing it off without it getting all twisted and stuck together. With my help, he finished in about 10 minutes. He couldn't wait to take it out back for a photo shoot. 


After we came back inside, I asked Trevor to type up a review and email it to me. Here's what I received:
"Star Wars Mania is a very good Star Wars craft book. It has clear writing and It's easy to understand, so you should try it! It has lots of things like duct tape lightsabers, Jawa rocks, and even model TIE fighters! When you buy it, you get over 40 Star Wars craft ideas!"

So there you have it. The deRosiers officially recommend Star Wars Mania! It is available for pre-order on Amazon (affiliate link below) and will be in stores in August. I'm sure I'll be sharing more Star Wars crafts inspired by Amanda's book in the near future.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Entering a Collection, Year 2

Last summer, I entered a collection in the county fair for the first time. I was very annoyed when the display case I was assigned did not match the published dimensions AT ALL and my carefully-arranged collection did not fit. Trevor had the same problem with his collection. (Go here for details about what we entered and why it didn't fit and here for how we did.)

Sure enough, when the entry guidebook came out, the dimensions listed were the same as the year before. Did this mean that they had cases that actually matched those dimensions, or that they hadn't changed the printed dimensions to match reality like they promised they'd do last year? I had my suspicions that it was the latter, but didn't want to risk cutting a base to the wrong size again. Grrr.

The collection cases were (allegedly) 1' x 3', 2' x 3' and 3' x 3'. Trevor wanted to do a 2' x 3' display of University of California Davis items he'd collected, mostly at Picnic Day. I helped him tape a 2' x 3' rectangle on his bedroom floor and he carefully arranged his items in the space. 


I taped out a 1' x 3' rectangle near the craft table to hold some of my most unique Disneyland souvenirs. 


When we went to set up our displays, guess what? They didn't fit! Sigh. It's a long story involving a few cases that actually were the advertised space but were 'reserved' for others to use, despite us being there at the earliest possible time for first-come-first-served pick of cases. We both ended up making due with the longer and narrower than advertised cases we'd used last year. Grr again.

I wasn't allowed in the kids' area to photograph Trevor's, but I did snap a few photos of how mine turned out. The lighting was terrible and I couldn't back up any farther, but this gives you the idea. Compare it to how I'd planned the display in the picture above. 


I didn't cut my base fabric ahead of time in anticipation of having an unknown size, but that meant I had to cut on the fly without proper space or materials. I covered the rough edges with washi tape.

Here are each of the journaling cards I made. This is about my Dream Fastpass from 2008.


This button is from the Inaugural Voyage of the Nemo version of the submarine ride in 2007.


This is about the Disney name artwork I made.


This is about the gold 50th anniversary Mickey ears that I got for not-yet-born Trevor in 2005.


I'll let you know how both of our collections do in a few weeks.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Button Flowers

While this was happening....


I was doing this.


Trevor has Junior Giants twice a week. I like watching him practice and the games are even more fun to watch. But crafting at the same time is the best of all. 


As you can see, I've been bringing my craft tote to the ball field. After unloading the supplies for the paper plate sunflower, I loaded it back up with supplies to make more button crafts from Amanda Formaro's outstanding book, Button Mania. As usual, I took inspiration from one of her projects, but made it my own. 

Materials: buttons, green Twisteezwire, wire cutters, mini basket, styrofoam, ribbon

The button flowers are very easy to make. Layer a larger button (I used whites, pinks and reds) with a smaller yellow button. Cut a small length of green Twisteezwire and feed it up and then down through the button holes. Sometimes the holes of the two buttons lined up perfectly and I was able to thread through all four holes, but more often they didn't, so I just used two holes. Twist the extra wire together. Cut styrofoam to fit in a mini basket, then poke the flowers into the styrofoam in an attractive arrangement. Add a coordinating bow. Done!


Another great project inspired by Button Mania!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

43 New-to-Me: #24 Cel-Ray

In June, we went to Colorado to visit our friends Nancy, Marco and Julia. You may remember the 2nd Annual(ish) Cookie Bake-Off that we had while we visited. We did a lot of other things besides baking while we were there. We hiked, did the Celestial Seasonings Factory Tour and visited the outstanding Denver Museum of Nature and Science. We swam, played at the park, and ate great food. Oh, and we stopped into this interesting shop along the Pearl Street Mall.


The shelves were full of soda and candy. 




It has a really cool retro vibe. In fact, it was so retro that it had something I haven't seen in decades... candy cigarettes.


It turns out that Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop is franchised all over the United States, including California (though none near us). 


I was giddy.... like the proverbial (43 year old) kid in a candy store. Look at some of these intriguing sodas! Maple soda! Ranch dressing soda! Bacon soda! Peanut butter and jelly soda! They all sound retched and I was dying to try them all.


I couldn't try them all, of course. I decided to pick just one. But what to choose? Coffee soda? Buffalo wing soda?


No. There was one soda that's been on my want-to-try list for years. With fingers crossed, I searched the shelves for Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray (celery-flavored soda). Eureka! Steve found it!


The ingredient list was simple: carbonated water, sugar, citric acid, celery seed extract, natural flavors, a preservative and caramel color.


I was so excited to finally taste it.


And the verdict? Well, it tasted like celery seeds! It was crisp and sharp and not very sweet. It was most similar to ginger ale, if I had to pick something as a comparison. I thought it was OK and gave it a 5. I don't know that I would have finished the whole bottle if I weren't sharing it with five other people. Julia also gave it a 5, while Steve, Trevor and Nancy all rated it a 7. Marco liked it the least, saying it was like 'bad apple juice with a kick.' He gave it a 3.

I'm so glad to have finally tried this odd celery soda. Next time I'm in Boulder, I think I'll try that Ranch Dressing Soda. It sounds awful!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Paper Plate Sunflower

With Trevor on summer break, I'm struggling with finding time to work in between taking him to all his various activities. While I'm fortunate to have a completely flexible work schedule, both jobs require that I work from a computer with internet access, a full keyboard, and a good-sized screen. I also need quiet and relatively few distractions. For those reasons, I can't work when sitting poolside during Trevor's daily 30-minute swim lessons. I can't work during ice skating, golf camp, baseball games or Cub Scouts events. However, I can craft during most of those. 

I try to bring a tote with craft materials to all of Trevor's activities. Two weeks ago, I shared the button bracelets that my friends and I made during a baseball practice. Today, I'm sharing the paper plate sunflower that I made during a day-long playdate. The inspiration came from a project in Amanda Formaro's book Paper Fun Mania called Paper Plate Weaving. I made some changes to turn it into a beautiful, summery sunflower. This easy, portable craft was perfect for pulling out during Trevor's activities.   


Materials: paper plate, yellow paint, scissors, tape, brown yarn, dowel, green yarn

The first step was painting the paper plate yellow. If I'd had a yellow plate, I would have used that, but I didn't. I did that the evening before so it would be dry to go into my craft tote.

Our first adventure of the day took us to the library for a scavenger hunt. Once Trevor and his friends Ronan, Evan and Lauren checked in with the librarian, they did not need supervision, so I sat down with Evan and Lauren's mom, Dawn. While we chatted, I cut 19 deep slits (about 2.5") into the plate all around the perimeter. No measuring. Eyeballing it is totally fine, as long as they're somewhat evenly spaced and there are an odd number of slits. I poked a hole in the center of the plate with the scissors. Then I snipped out the material between the slits to make the long petals of the sunflower.    


After the kids finished their scavenger hunt and got their prizes, we walked to a sandwich shop and then took our lunches to a park. After we finished eating, I thought about pulling out my crafting since the kids were happily playing, but it was way too windy to keep the plate steady enough for weaving. 

Fortunately, our next activity was out of the wind at the trampoline place for a 1.5 hour play session. While the kids bounced and played, I began the weaving portion of my craft. I taped one end of the brown yarn to the back of the plate, then brought it directly across and put it through the opposite slit. I repeated this, moving over one slit each time, until every slit was filled. I put the end of the yarn through the hole and taped it on the back. I tied a new piece of yarn near the center of the plate, then started weaving in a clockwise direction.


I was almost done when the kids' play session was up. Once home, I finished the last bit of weaving, wound green yarn around a dowel, and then attached that to the sunflower. It was the perfect craft to do while chatting and watching Trevor and his friends. It required almost no concentration, was easy to put down and pick back up as needed, and I didn't need to keep a close eye on what I was doing. Thanks to Amanda for another awesome craft idea!

Friday, July 10, 2015

43 New-to-Me... #23 Mulberry Berries

I grew up with a fruitless mulberry tree in the backyard and singing "All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel..." with my friends. But I never gave a thought to what the fruit of a mulberry was actually like. So when I happened upon a package of Mulberry Berries, I simply had to buy them. They became new-to-me food #23 for my 43 New-to-Me project.


They weren't at all what I was expecting. Not that I really had an idea what to expect, of course! These chewy, bumpy dried fruits reminded me a little bit of dates. There was a sweetness, but not the berry taste that I was expecting. I gave them a 5. Trevor gave them a 4 and said they didn't remind him of anything. My dad liked them the least, giving them a 3. They reminded him of figs. My mom liked them the most, giving them a 7. She thought they were reminiscent of golden raisins. I'm glad I tried them. 20 more new-to-me foods to go!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hareware

I will freely admit that our family is obsessed with all things rabbit. We recently celebrated the 4th anniversary of the day Trouble joined our family. (Of course we celebrate Trouble's adoption day!) If you haven't before, check out my rabbit-themed crafts, foods, and informational posts.

Anyway.... rabbits. We love them. I spotted this beauty behind the baseball field during one of Trevor's practices. I took more photos of the jackrabbit than I did of Trevor!


This cutie was at the capital building in Denver, Colorado. All the other tourists were facing the capital to take their photos. We were the only ones around who were taking photos bent down, with our backs to the building.


This stepping stone was at the stunning Cheyenne Botanic Gardens in Wyoming. I would have bought it if it were for sale, despite what a challenge it would have been to take home on the plane.


I tell you all this to help you understand something that has made me laugh every day for over a month. Steve is an embedded software engineer who primarily works from home. He frequently gets packages from coworkers, most containing parts for testing. He uses the label maker I bought him years ago to label each item as it comes in. He recently labeled multiple packages of hardware. It wasn't until he'd attached the labels to the boxes that he noticed he'd made a typo on one of the labels. Instead of HARDWARE, it said HAREWARE. I told him that if he peeled it off the box and attached it to the basket we use to hold Trouble's care items, I'd laugh every time I saw it.


It's been well over a month and I'm still giggling.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Vacaville Jacks

Back in spring, the city of Vacaville announced a city-wide public art project called We Know Jack. Twenty-five large fiberglass jackrabbits were given to local professional artists to decorate, then the Jacks were displayed at locations throughout the city. One lucky child would win an iPad for finding all the Jacks and collecting the code phrase from each. Rabbits + art + a citywide treasure hunt with a fabulous prize?! It's like this project was created with the deRosiers in mind!


For our first venture out to find Jacks, we focused on the downtown area. There were six Jacks within walking distance. From the start, we were blown away by the creativity. 







During our second outing, we found five more Jacks.






We found two more Jacks on the way to a Cub Scout den meeting.



The next three Jacks were all in different buildings at the Vacaville Cultural Center.




We found one Jack when we stopped for dinner after ice skating.


This Jack was at the hospital.


Here's another Jack in a restaurant.


I requested that we spent Mother's Day hunting for the final six Jacks. It was a great way to celebrate.







We ended our hunt at the Vacaville Museum, where they had a wonderful exhibit of artwork from each of the featured artists. We loved trying to guess which artist had made each Jack based on their particular style. Another highlight of the exhibit was a 26th Jack, coated with chalkboard paint. Kids were encouraged to decorate their own version of a Jack.


After being on display for several months, the Jacks were auctioned off to benefit the Vacaville Museum. Trevor REALLY wanted to buy one, but I told him that I was pretty sure they were out of our price range. I wasn't wrong. The 25 Jacks raised more than $90,000 (an average of approximately $3,800 per Jack) for the Vacaville Museum. Unfortunately, we do not have thousands of extra dollars to buy rabbit-themed artwork to display in our house where, in all likelihood, it would be subjected to damage by an actual rabbit.

At the auction, they announced the winners of the public vote for Best Jacks. I was rooting for the Jack with a top hat and beautiful scenes of local sites by Donna Covey. Steve's favorite was the Shakespeare-themed Jack by Mernie Bachanan. Trevor's favorite was the stunning Jack featuring the California poppy, painted by Roberta Ahrens. Some of our other favorites included the Velveteen Jack, the red flower Jack, the Jack covered in Jelly Bellies, the Mardi Gras Jack and the Hareshey's chocolate bunny Jack. My favorite, the top hat Jack came in third. The beautiful Mardi Gras Jack by Geraldine Arata took second (and brought in the most money, at $6900) and Steve's pick, the Shakespeare Jack, took 1st. You can see high-quality photos of all 25 Jacks here.


We had so much fun finding the Jacks and enjoying the talents of our local artists. We loved seeing the various materials used and the creative names the artists gave their Jack. What a wonderful project this was! Huge thanks to all involved and congratulations to each of the artists.