Monday, February 29, 2016

'Super Scout' Banquet Place Cards

Introducing..... Super Scout!


Each year, Cub Scouts celebrate the birth of Scouting in February with an event called the Blue & Gold. Every Pack's Blue & Gold is a bit different. Ours is a big spaghetti dinner and cake auction where we celebrate the boys' accomplishments and another great year of Scouting.

This year's theme is Superheroes. Each den was encouraged to make their own table decorations for our banquet. With Trevor's approval, I came up with Super Scout.

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Super Scout

Materials: empty cardboard tubes, paint (blue and skin tones), Sharpie, glue, googly eyes, yellow felt

Paint the cardboard tubes so that 2/3 is blue and 1/3 is a skin tone. I did this ahead of time so that we wouldn't have to wait for dry time during the meeting. I made a variety of skin tones so that each boy could choose the one he wanted.

Use the Sharpie to add details. For the face, draw a mask, nose and mouth. Draw a line to divide the face from the shirt, then add the features of the shirt, including a collar, pockets and buttons.


Cut a rough semi-circle of yellow felt to make the cape. Add a letter. We used a blue Sharpie and a stencil. 


Glue the googly eyes and cape in place. That's all there is to it! Here are the five boys' Super Scouts. They have so much personality! Can you guess which one is Trevor's?


If you said the center, you're right. Trevor and I have a very similar aesthetic. Here is Trevor's Super Scout (left) next to mine (right). 


Excellent work, Scouts! You're all Super!

Friday, February 26, 2016

43 New-to-Me … The Wrap-Up

My 43 new-to-me birthday challenge has come to an end... and what a year it has been! I've discovered some amazing new favorite foods, as well as some foods that I'll be happy to never eat again as long as I live. For fun, I decided to rank the foods by the rating I gave them, starting off with the best of the best and ending with things that shouldn't even be called foods, in my humble opinion.

10: Bamba Peanut Snack, almond cake rusk, yuzu gummy candy, Orange and Lemon White Balsalmic Cream 
9: Sunkist Pineapple Soda, Thai tomato-flavor crackers, Big Red Soda, soan papdi, Cadbury Crunchie, quince, guanabana, Lemon Pie Sprouted Cookies 
8: black edamame, Peeps Mystery Chicks, nutmeg syrup, feijoa, rambutan, Cracker Nuts, green tea Kit Kat, Coffee Crisp 
7: peanuts in Coke, sunflower seed butter, pichuberry 
6: Birthday Cake M&Ms, rose petal spread 
5: mamey sapote, kombucha, Birne Spirituose pear liqueur, Special Uraro, mulberry berries, Cel-Ray Celery Soda, chia seeds 
4: papdi, boondi, aloe vera drink, green boiled peanuts, pastillas de ube macapuno, kiwano 
3: goji berries 
2: iris water, dried lily bulbs 
1: hemp seeds 
0: galangal, banana blossom

Seeing the list like this is interesting. I'd definitely make changes from my initial ratings on some of the foods. The goji berries, for example, weren't as bad as the green boiled peanuts, but I ranked them lower. I'm surprised I didn't give Big Red Soda a perfect 10. I love it. I think in some instances, the votes of my fellow tasters influenced mine somewhat. It would be fascinating to know how I would have ranked these if I'd tasted them completely alone. That wouldn't have been even a fraction as fun, though! 

And on that note, huge thanks to everyone who played along with my birthday challenge and made it so fun: Steve, Trevor, Mom, Dad, Jonna, Kari, Brian, Timothy, Marcia, JoAnn, Diana, Stephanie, Suzzi, Ronan, Dave, Pat, Rebecca, Cailei, Ken, Sheena, Nancy, Marco, Julia, Jennifer, Janelle, Linda, Evangeline, Lisa, Kelly, Karl, Gayle, Ellen, Tanya, Andi, and Ann.
I have one final page to share from my album. Since I tried 43 foods, that left one empty spot in the final page protector. I added this:

The letter stickers are silver. Not sure why they won't scan properly.

It's a list of all the other foods that either I'd hoped to try or that others recommended I try. Just because my birthday project has ended doesn't mean the fun stops. Quite the opposite!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

43 New-to-Me… #43 Sprouted Cookies

Time for the last item from my 43 new-to-me birthday challenge, raw sprouted lemon pie cookies. I like lemon, I like pie, and I like cookies. As for sprouted? Sure. 



While very tasty, these did not remind me much of cookies. They were more like crackers, very thin and crisp. But that didn't stop the three of us from eating almost the whole bag. They only have four ingredients (coconut, sesame seeds, dates and lemon oil), so I didn't feel too guilty about that. All three of us gave them a 9 - an excellent way to end a very fun project!

Tomorrow I'll share a wrap up of the 43 foods from my project and show you the final page in the album.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

43 New-to-Me … #42 Guanabana

Item #42 in my 43 new-to-me birthday challenge was guanabana, aka soursop. I tried to find fresh guanabana, but was happy enough to get both guanabana nectar and frozen guanabana puree. Guanabana. It's a fun name. 

 
So how did it taste? Yummy! It was sweet and tropical and fruity (as you'd expect from a tropical fruit). It tasted a little bit like papaya, banana and pineapple had a baby. I liked it a lot and gave it a 9. Andi gave it a perfect 10! Ann had a totally different reaction. She liked the nectar, giving it an 8. But she absolutely hated the pulp and gave it a 1. Both Andi and I thought the nectar and pulp tasted pretty much the same. One of the most interesting things about this project has been seeing how different people really do taste things differently from each other.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Reverse Picture Frame: Cousins

I always struggle with what to do with photo Christmas cards after the season is over. Because of the holiday messages, they aren't great for displaying year-round. This year, I came up with an idea: a reverse picture frame. I call it a reverse picture frame because the photos are ON the frame rather than IN the frame.



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Reverse Picture Frame

Materials: photo cards and/or wallet photos, wood frame with a heart-shaped opening, black Folk Art paint, scissors, tape runner, Sharpie, cardstock, letter stickers (underlined items are affiliate links)

Start by painting the frame black. I only painted the front and sides, which is fine if you're going to display the frame against a wall. Paint the back also if you'll be putting the frame on a tabletop where the back is visible.

When the paint is dry, arrange the photos to fit on the wood part of the frame. It's OK if part of a photo hangs over into the opening as long as the faces are not going to be cut off. When you're happy with how they look, adhere them lightly to the frame. Use repositionable tape or a small amount of permanent tape. As you can see, I added a small rectangle to the right of the heart to hold the space for where I'd write the date.


Turn the frame upside down. Use a Sharpie to trace the shape of the cut-out heart.


Turn the frame right-side up. Remove each photo that overlaps into the cut-out heart and trim just inside the Sharpie line. That will leave a tiny border of black on the frame. Use a strong adhesive to secure all photos to the frame. You could use a sealant over the top if you want it to be very durable, but I just left it as is. 

Cut a piece of cardstock to fit inside the cut-out heart. Add a title with letter stickers, then insert it into the frame. 


I love how it turned out!

Monday, February 22, 2016

CreativeLive: #28toMake, Week 3

Time to share my projects from week 3 of the CreativeLive class, 28 to Make! Monday's assignment was to make a mind map. I've done this many times before. Since my mind is pretty much always on food lately, I chose the word 'Yum' and branched off from there. I intentionally left off desserts. That could fill a whole 'Yum' chart on its own.


Tuesday's assignment was to create a found poem using printed material. I chose an article from our local newspaper about California's drought. Using a Sharpie, I boxed each word that I wanted for my poem, then blacked out the rest. After scanning, I digitally darkened the Sharpie to make it recede ever further from the poem. 

                                              Dying, dry, hard-hit state:
                                              California.
                                              Long-term drought.
                                              Rain. Snow.
                                              Raising hopes.
Wednesday's assignment was to play with tangrams. Again, this was something I've done many, many times - as a kid, as a teacher, and as a mom. There are a lot of tangram sets around our house, so I grabbed one. It happened to have a sketch of a rabbit Trevor had designed folded neatly inside the baggie, so I followed the sketch to make it. 


Then I made a fish. 


Next, a barn.


Thursday's assignment was something I've never done: translate four different sounds into a visual image. I decided to create each using a single, continuous line from a black Sharpie. Would I be able to create enough difference between the four to represent the sounds? Let's find out! Can you tell which of my drawings represents waves? Children playing? A jackhammer? Paper being crumpled? Here they are with the answers blacked out:


And with the answers revealed. 


How did you do? Or, more accurately, how did I do in conveying the sounds?

Friday's assignment was called 'Notes in the Wild.' The object was to leave a sticky note for others to interact with. I decided to make a note for Trouble. For 4 years, he has had free run of the downstairs, but not been allowed upstairs. When we had our house power-washed and painted recently, Trouble was absolutely terrified. So I brought him upstairs to sit with me while I worked. He loved being near me and I loved having him here. So now he's allowed in my office area upstairs so he can hang out with me during the day. But he is not allowed in the bedrooms. He knows this, but could use some reminding.


I keep expecting to see nibbles from the post-it, but so far he's left it alone.

Saturday's assignment was another people-watching Mad Lib. We went to my niece's 3rd birthday party, where there were loud guests, a delicious cake, cousins bouncing in a bounce house, and the blank stare of tired parents.


Sunday's reflection questions were the same as before, so again I'll only answer those that have changed.


Which project from this past week most closely addressed your drive to make?
I think it was the mind map. It took the longest and pushed me the most. I kept thinking of more things to add and how I wanted to organize them. I had to keep the overall design in mind so that I didn't run out of space or end up with a lopsided map. 
If you had an extra hour to focus on any one of this week’s projects, which one would you pick? Why?
I'd probably make another found poem. I don't love my finished poem and would like to try more inspiring source material.
Was there project this week that rubbed you the wrong way? If so, why do you think that was?
I was a bit disappointed that so many of the projects were things I've done in the past many times. But while I might have preferred something totally new to me, there was value in everything I made. In a way, it pushed me even more to make something different than before.
If you could ask any one historical figure to do any one of this week’s projects, who would you choose and which project would you have them do?
This question does not get easier week after week. I'd love to see what pretty much any historical figure would put on a mind map with the prompt of 'Yum.' How would the maps differ by region or time period? That would be fascinating.

Friday, February 19, 2016

43 New-to-Me … #41 Hemp and Chia Seeds

Have you noticed that seeds are everywhere lately? Pretty much anywhere you can buy food, you can buy seeds with claims of all sorts of healthy benefits. I've eaten most of them, but I was pretty sure I'd never had hemp or chia seeds, so I got both. Together, they make up #41 in my 43 new-to-me challenge

We sprinkled our seeds on plain Greek yogurt and then tried a handful plain. 



The chia seeds were what I expected - plain and pretty neutral. I gave them a 5. Andi said 9 and Ann said 8. On the other hand, I absolutely HATED the hemp seeds. Hated them. They tasted sour, almost rancid, and just awful. I gave them a 1. Andi said they tasted like almost-rancid almonds, but still gave them a 5. Ann liked them just fine and gave them a 6. I couldn't get either of them to take the extras home though!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Faux Stained Glass from a Coloring Book

As I mentioned in my Craft and Hobby Association Mega Show wrap-up post, I attended the Blogger Networking Event hosted by Prime Publishing and FaveCrafts. This event brings together craft bloggers and the manufacturers who want to work with craft bloggers. This year's companies included:




Some of the manufacturers had products with them to give to us as we visited their table. Such was the case with Leisure Arts. They are right on trend with the current coloring book craze! They had samples of their various coloring books for us to take. My favorite was this one, Art of Coloring Animals.



I like coloring books and always have. While I think it's great that coloring books are so popular right now, particularly for adults, one of the problems with everyone jumping on the bandwagon is that many aren't doing it correctly. Some of the biggest sins I see over and over as I thumb through coloring books? Cheap papers that bleed through to the next page, back-to-back printing, and pages that can't be easily removed. Ugh. Fortunately, Leisure Arts is doing it right. The pages in the coloring books are thick and printed on only a single side. They are perforated to make it easy to remove the page. For my first project from the book, I decided to do something I haven't done since elementary school.

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Faux Stained Glass

Materials: coloring page, something to color with, newspaper or newsprint, a cotton ball or cotton pad, vegetable oil, and tape.

Start by coloring your design. I chose butterflies and colored them in with my Prismacolor markers. I left the background blank.


My design had three butterflies. I chose to cut them apart to make three smaller projects rather than one large one. 


Turn your design upside down on the newsprint. Moisten the cotton with the oil (moist, not dripping). Rub the backside of the design. You'll see the colors pop and the black lines begin to show through. Continue until the whole paper has been rubbed with oil. Turn it right-side up on a clean spot on the newsprint to allow any excess oil to be absorbed. 


Tape the design to a window and enjoy! When the sun shines through, it looks just like stained glass.


What do you think? If you're into the coloring book craze, give it a try! Click the image below to browse through all the coloring books that Leisure Arts has to offer. This is an affiliate link; I will receive a small portion of any sales made through this link. 

Adult Coloring Book - Small

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

43 New-to-Me … #40 Dried Lily Bulbs

My first reaction when I saw a bag of dried lily bulbs at the Asian market was, "Aren't lilies poisonous?" Next, "What on earth do you do with them?" And finally, "I'm definitely buying these!"

This is the kind of insanity that happens when you do a project like 43 New-to-Me. But the beauty of it is that you occasionally find some amazing foods that you had no idea even existed. Unfortunately, that was not the case this time.

 

I did a bunch of research before trying them (as I still had a nagging feeling lilies were poisonous) and learned that dried lily bulbs are used in long-cooked soups, stews and desserts. They are, allegedly, a good source of fiber (which was no surprise to me after I opened the package. They looked a lot like toenail clippings). They had a very strange, very difficult-to-describe smell that had some tartness and sourness going on. I chose to make Lily Bulb Congee, reasoning that it wouldn't mask the flavor of lily bulbs the way a recipe with other flavorful ingredients might. 

My friends, Andi, Ann and I tried a bite of dried lily bulb and the prepared congee with a bit of trepidation. Once you get past the toenail thing (admittedly hard to get past), the flavor wasn't much of anything. Until suddenly it was. It was weird, as one bulb would have literally no flavor and the next would be pungent and sour-tangy. The majority were essentially flavorless (and thus fine), but the ones that were strong were awful. I gave them a 2, as I didn't have to spit them out, but it was close. Andi and Ann both also rated them a 2. 

Perhaps the next new-to-me food will be a treasure...

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

43 New-to-Me ... #39 Coffee Crisp

Funny story about new-to-me food #39. The story starts back in December with a foreign stranger and involves me showing up uninvited to a gathering for Canadians only. But I'm ahead of myself.

There is a Facebook group for Craft and Hobby Association members. It is very active leading up to the big CHA Mega Show in January. I saw a post from someone I didn't know named Roberta, who asked if anyone wanted her to bring them food from Canada that you can't get in the US. Do I? Are you kidding me?!? YES! We became Facebook friends and sent messages back and forth, with plans to meet up during the show. But by the 5th day of the show, we still hadn't managed to coordinate our schedules. At this point, I was NOT going to leave without meeting her and taking a Canadian food that she'd schlepped all the way to Anaheim. So I showed up, uninvited and unexpected, at the meeting of the CHA Canada Members, hoping to find her there. Success!

Roberta was busy (it was a meeting, after all), so I chatted with the various people who were milling around the food. They all thought it was hilarious that an American had crashed their meeting and assured me I was welcome. Canadians are famous for their politeness for a reason! They named me an Honourary Canadian (complete with the U). Thanks, guys! 

I finally got the chance to meet Roberta in person. She gave me some Coffee Crisp candy bars before we each had to run off to classes. That evening, when Tanya and I met to debrief, I pulled out the Coffee Crisp and split it with her.



I'm not sure why I didn't get that this is coffee-flavored. For some reason, I had it in my mind that it was to eat with coffee (like coffee cake) rather than flavored with coffee. As it turns out, the coffee flavor is very mild and has a delightful butterscotch note going on. The candy was crisp and sweet and yum. Tanya gave it a 9 and I gave it an 8. Thanks again, Roberta!

Monday, February 15, 2016

CreativeLive: #28toMake, Week 2

Today I'm sharing my projects from week 2 of the CreativeLive class, 28 to Make. Monday's challenge was called 30 Circles. The assignment was to fill in 30 circles with whatever patterns or designs you can think of, as quickly as you can. This didn't appeal to me much, so I changed the assignment completely. I gathered a wide variety of round objects and sketched them. I stopped after 15. 


Here's a photo of the objects I sketched, in the same order and orientation:


Tuesday's assignment was called Scribbles & Shapes. The assignment was to turn a child's scribbles into something recognizable. I keep Trevor's early artwork in my file cabinet, so I selected one and scanned it. Trevor made this on his first day of 4-year-old preschool. It's a maze (he was obsessed with mazes at age 4... and beyond). He labeled the start for me (STrT) and folded the whole thing into a 'spyscope' (another thing he loved at age 4).


Here's what I saw in his drawing:


Wednesday's assignment was a Blind Contour Self Portrait. In other words, draw a picture of yourself without looking at the paper and without lifting the pen. It's hard not to lift the pen. I caught myself doing it accidentally a few times. 


Thursday's project was Photo Doodles. Just as it sounds, the instructions were to doodle on a photo. I found two 4x6 photos that didn't make it into the scrapbook (because I realized I needed a different size after printing). First, Trevor gold panning at Columbia State Park. You can see the original photo on my layout from that trip. While he did find some tiny pieces of gold to take home, I thought it would be fun to make his efforts appear more lucrative.


Here's Trevor in the Bahamas during our Disney cruise in 2013. The original photo has a bar in the background on the right. I covered it, as well as some buoys and other distractions, with palm-covered islands. Much better!


Friday's project was Exquisite Corpse. That's the childhood game where one person draws a head, folds it over and passes it the next person, who draws a torso, then folds it over and passes it to a third person, who draws legs. I just drew the head portion, rather than trying to wrangle others to help with my assignment.

 
Saturday's assignment was a repeat of last Saturday's, the People-Watching Mad Libs. Steve, Trevor and I spent the day at the fabulous Charles Schultz Museum (more about that when I scrap it). There were plenty of people to observe. In the education room, I saw a whiny child asking his mom to stop interfering with his artwork, a talented teenaged artist doing digital drawings, a cartoon playing where Lucy and the gang dug up Charlie Brown's pitcher's mound to plant a tree for Arbor Day, and a man carefully cutting out Snoopy's doghouse from red construction paper.

 
Sunday's reflection questions were the same as last week. For some, my answer hasn't changed, so I'll only answer those that are different. 

Which project from this past week most closely addressed your drive to make?
That would have to be my modification of the 30 Circles assignment. But, since I didn't follow the directions at all, I suppose I should pick something else. I'll go with the Photo Doodles.
If you had an extra hour to focus on any one of this week’s projects, which one would you pick? Why?
I'd keep drawing circular items, because it is challenging and I want to keep developing both my observational and sketching skills. Again though, since that wasn't the actual assignment, I'll pick the Scribbles & Shapes. It was fun, although my favorite part was going through Trevor's artwork from when he was little.
Was there project this week that rubbed you the wrong way? If so, why do you think that was?
I know that the 30 Circles was supposed to get ideas out of me in a fast, brainstorming-type manner, but I'm not short on ideas. I want to improve my technical skill more than I want to generate even more ideas (as I have way more ideas than I will ever get to in my life), which is why I went my own direction. The Exquisite Corpse was really irritating because it assumed that you have two willing participants to join in the project. I could easily have found some, but this class is for me and something I'm doing on my own.
If you could ask any one historical figure to do any one of this week’s projects, who would you choose and which project would you have them do?
Uh... I suppose it would be very interesting to see what any famous artist would have done with Trevor's maze to transform it into a recognizable item. How would Charles Schultz have incorporated it into the Peanuts world?
Did any friends, neighbors, or family members come to mind while you were working on any of this week’s projects? If so, write their name down. 
Many of the circular items are Trevor's, so I thought of him a lot. Steve as well. Obviously, Trevor's artwork inspired the frog and he is the subject of both Photo Doodles projects. Steve's outside the frame during gold panning. In the Bahamas, Steve, my parents and my sister's family are also outside the frame. The Exquisite Corpse made me think of my students, as we did this occasionally for fun. And it's similar to drawings my middle school friends and I would make on our lunch bags. Good times.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Pinewood Derby Car: The E-RACE-R

It's Pinewood Derby season again! As usual, Trevor came up with a really creative design. This year, it's the E-RACE-R.


Other than providing Trevor with the pink paint and showing him how to make a template of the top before doing the lettering to be sure he liked the spacing, I wasn't involved with his car this year. My dad supervised the power tools portion and Steve supervised the wheels and graphite portion. I love that Trevor chose to wear down the corners of his car and smudge them just like a used eraser would look.

His car was not among the fastest, but it was definitely among the most creative.



I'm very tempted to put together a layout of all his Pinewood cars over the years because they've really been fabulous. But since he only has one more year of Cub Scouts before moving up to Boy Scouts, I'm going to hold off and make that layout next year. In the meantime, if you want to see the other Pinewood Derby cars Trevor, Steve and I have made over the years, they're all here

Thursday, February 11, 2016

43 New-to-Me … #38 Green Tea Kit Kat

I didn't have too many ideas of what new-to-me foods I wanted to try when I began my birthday challenge. But it was fairly early on in the Googling that I came across something I definitely wanted to try: Green Tea Kit Kats. I'm not sure why, as I don't like green tea. But I kept seeing them mentioned as something you HAVE to try when visiting Japan and the top request people ask them to bring back from Japan. With no friends heading to Japan and no plans of my own to go there any time soon, I didn't expect to get to try them this year. So I was thrilled when I saw them at an Asian market. 

Literally the day after I bought them, I came across this blog post entitled, "The Shocking Secret of the Green Tea Kit Kat." Which type did I have? I was partly hoping it was the type meant for foreign taste buds (since I don't like green tea), but the fact that I got it at an Asian market suggested it might have been intended for Asian taste buds. 

 
We shared them with our friends, Karl and Gayle and their daughter, Ellen. Gayle is Japanese (though born in the US) and likes mochi, which I despise. Would she and I agree on the Kit Kats? 

Answer: sort of. I was pleasantly surprised that the green tea taste was so weak it was virtually undetectable. It basically tasted like a white chocolate Kit Kat, which is to say inferior to a regular chocolate Kit Kat, but still tasty enough. I gave it an 8, as did Steve. Trevor gave it a 9. Karl was less enamored and gave it a 6. Gayle was also surprised that the green tea taste was so weak, which was the very reason she gave it a 7 instead of a higher rating. Ellen didn't rate them, but she clearly felt very positive about them, based on her interest in continuing to eat them. 

I've since learned that green tea is only the tip of the iceburg when it comes to Japanese Kit Kats. I desperately want to try some of the others, like the Citrus Golden Blend, the Pear, the Cinnamon Cookie and the Brown Sugar Syrup. I'm on the fence about Red Bean Sandwich Kit Kats because, while I know that I would HATE them, I would enjoy finding out just how awful they are. Hook me up if you happen to travel to Japan, please!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pie Crust Crafting

What do you do with scraps of pie crust after making a pie, quiche, etc? Usually I sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar and bake them for a delicious treat. But with the scraps left over from the Helvetica challenge, I tried something different.

I cut the scraps into narrow strips of various sizes, small squares, and little triangles. Then I baked them. It only took about 3 minutes in a 450°F oven before they were ready.


I let them cool for a few minutes, then invited Steve and Trevor to join me in creating art using the pie crust pieces. Trevor made a bunny, a robot, a sun, and our initials.





Steve made a bridge and the space shuttle.



I made a clown and a tic-tac-toe game.



After creating your masterpiece, you can dip the pie crust pieces into a sauce and enjoy a tasty snack. Ideas include marinara sauce, peanut butter, pesto, honey mustard, ranch dressing, or applesauce, just to name a few. Enjoy!