10/16/18

Dimensional Beaver Cards

When I said I'd created gifts for the Beaver Patrol, you knew I'd made coordinating cards, right? 



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Dimensional Beaver Cards



Materials: 

  • brown cardstock
  • white cardstock 
  • paper trimmer
  • scissors
  • brown marker
  • black marker
  • craft glue


Steps: 


Prepare the materials. Use the paper trimmer to cut:
  • brown cardstock - 9" x 3.5"
  • white cardstock - 8.5" x 3" 

With scissors, cut: 
  • two white teeth
  • two white eyes
  • two brown ears
  • one brown nose
  • one brown tail 


Use the brown pen to outline the nose and draw crosshatches on the tail. Use the black pen to draw pupils on the eyes. 


Fold the brown paper into thirds. Glue two teeth onto the top and two ears on the sides. 


Center the white paper on the brown paper and glue it in place. It will trap the ears and the teeth. Refold the brown paper, which will add folds to the white paper that is now glued to it. 

Glue the nose and eyes to the front of the card. 

Fold a small flap on the end of the tail, then glue that tab to the card. You want the tail to flop down when the card is out of its envelope...


.... but fold up for mailing. 



Quick trivia question: What do you call a group of beavers?


Answer: Colony.


Steve used all of the beaver cards I made, but I like them so much I may need to make more. Although now that I think about it, are there occasions that really call for a beaver card? International Beaver Day is April 7, so maybe that's just the occasion I need to justify more cards. 


10/15/18

How to Sew a Drawstring Bag (Even if You Don't Know How To Sew)

If you know how to sew anything more complicated than a straight line, this tutorial is not for you. Feel free to follow one of the many drawstring bag tutorials out there that assumes you speak fluent Sewing and are adept at the basics. My tutorial will be WAY too basic for you.

If you don't know how to sew anything more complicated than a straight line, and (like me) even that is iffy, you've come to the right place! Welcome and read on. I am optimistic that by the end of my tutorial, you will know how to sew a drawstring bag.




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How to Sew a Drawstring Bag



1. Pick your material. Avoid anything slippery, silky, prone to snagging, super thick, or otherwise a pain to sew. In other words, choose a printed cotton. (I used a Mini-C 1815 by Timeless Treasures.)

2. Determine the size you want for your finished drawstring bag. Mine is 6" tall and 4.5" wide. Cut the fabric twice as long as the final length you want plus two inches, and a half-inch wider than the final width you want. So I cut my fabric into a rectangle 14 inches tall (6 x 2 + 2 = 14) and 5 inches wide (4.5 + 0.5 = 5).

3. Choose a coordinating cord for the drawstring. I used this (affiliate link). You will need TWO pieces of cord per bag, each a minimum of 3 times as long as your finished bag is wide. So my cords were about 13.5" (4.5 x 3 = 13.5).

4. Thread your sewing machine and bobbin with a color that goes with your fabric. I used black.

5. Heat your iron to the appropriate setting (cotton, if you followed my advice in Step 1). Even if you hate to iron, don’t skip this step. It makes the sewing so much easier. Put the fabric wrong-side up on the ironing board. Working with the long ends first, fold over 1/4” and iron it flat. Now do the same for the shorter sides.


6. Sew a line down the center of the folds on each short side. This will trap the folds on the long sides. 


7. Fold each of the short ends over 3/4” and iron them flat.


8. Sew the flaps closed by stitching along the seam that is already there. This will leave a large enough pocket to hold the cord. Backstitch each end to reinforce it.


9. Fold the fabric in half with the right sides touching. Orient the pockets you just created toward yourself. Starting at the fold, sew until just before you reach the pocket that will hold the cord and stop. Reinforce the seam. Repeat on the other side.  


10. Trim any threads and then turn the bag right side out.

11. Now it's time to feed the cords through the pockets. I was taught to do this with a safety pin, but it's much easier with a dowel (or a chopstick) because it is difficult to poke through paracord without unraveling it. Tape the end of one piece of cord to the dowel.


12. Thread the cord through one pocket and then the other until both ends are on the same side. Remove the dowel. 


13. Tape the second piece of cord to the dowel and insert it from the opposite side as the previous cord. Continue through the second pocket and out the same side where you started. Remove the dowel. Your cords should look like this:


14. Tie the two ends together on each side of the bag using an overhand knot. Cut off any extra cord close to the knot and use a match to seal the ends. 


As you might have guessed, these were gifts for the Beaver Patrol. I'm ridiculously proud of myself for figuring out how to make them and actually sewing something that Steve would want to give as a gift. I hope the tutorial has helped any of you who feel as incompetent with sewing as I do!

10/12/18

Mini Me

This is the second of the three layouts I finished away from home. I'm particularly proud of this one because I made do with random scraps of paper, a very incomplete alphabet sticker sheet (look closely and you'll see that I had to frankenstein some of the letters I needed), and very limited embellishment choices.

Mini Me (affiliate link)

I'm super happy with this page. Love my little Mini Me!

10/11/18

Bear Valley 2018

Usually when I get together with my friends to scrapbook, I will bring a huge stack of photos and spend the day cropping them down, deciding on their physical layout on the page, and selecting patterned papers for each page. I can do all of these easily while chatting. I bring home the big stack of incomplete layouts to do the title work, embellishing, and journaling later. In the case of the title and embellishing, this is because I don't want to schlep every letter sticker and embellishment I own to a crop. With journaling, I have to concentrate in a way I can't when I'm chatting.

Or so I thought.

During our most recent scrapping get-together, I challenged myself to completely finish at least one layout, including journaling. I brought along a few sticker sets and some all-purpose die cuts and forced myself to use them instead of waiting to see if there was a better option at home. I did my journaling on strips, which I glued to the page, instead of writing directly on the layout. That way I could correct a mistake if I needed to, since I wasn't giving 100% of my focus to the journaling.

I am really happy with how my layout turned out.

Bear Valley 2018 (affiliate link)

I was so proud of myself for successfully finishing a page away from home that I kept going and ended up with two other pages 100% done. I'll share those soon. Yea, me!

10/10/18

13 Helpful Tips for Visiting a State Capitol with Kids

Since 2014, our family has visited 20 of the 50 State Capitol buildings. I've learned a lot during those visits and have 13 tips to make your family's Capitol visits as fun, educational, and hassle-free as possible.

Sacramento, California

There are many excellent reasons to visit Capitol buildings when you travel. First, and perhaps most obvious, visiting a Capitol is very educational. Even if you don't take a tour, simply entering the building and poking around a bit reveals so much about the history, economics, resources, and values of that state.

Des Moines, Iowa

But whenever possible, take a tour. Many Capitols offer guided tours and they are always free. I've often called ahead, but none have required reservations for a small family group like ours. Most tours are geared toward kids 4th grade and up. If your kids are 10+, definitely take guided tours whenever they're offered. They often take you into parts of the building that are off-limits without a guide. 

Lincoln, Nebraska

When a guided tour isn't available, ask at the information booth about a self-guided tour. Most states will provide you with a guidebook that tells you everything you'd hear if you were on a guided tour. 

Boise, Idaho

Check the website ahead of time to see if there are special activities for children. We've found scavenger hunts, trivia questions, I-Spy challenges, crossword puzzles, word searches, state symbols coloring pages, and all sorts of other printable materials for kids of all ages. Sometimes there's a small prize for completing them.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Start and end your visit in the Welcome Center, if there is one. This is where you'll find hands-on activities that make the Capitol come alive for kids. By visiting first, they can preview some of what they're going to learn on the tour. Afterward, they'll appreciate the games, models, and toys more after seeing the information firsthand. 

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

When you visit, be sure to tour the grounds as well! Some Capitols have beautiful gardens, interesting statues, inspiring monuments, and other surprises. You'll likely find squirrels, birds, or other local wildlife, too. (We've seen bunnies more than once!)

Charleston, West Virginia

Be prepared when you visit a Capitol. Security varies widely from state to state; you can walk right in to some, others have metal detectors, and some have security that is similar to what you'd experience at the airport. Carry photo ID - passports are best. Leave pocketknives and similar items in your hotel room or in the car. 

Columbus, Ohio

Talk with your kids about the architecture of the Capitol when you visit. Some resemble the US Capitol, with house chambers on either side of a central rotunda with a dome. Others look completely different. See if you can figure out what or who influenced the design. 

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hunt for art throughout the Capitol. You'll find it all over the place, and not just in frames hanging on walls. Check the carpets, door knobs, stair rails, and other fixtures. Look at the ceilings and check the elevators. You might be surprised with what you find. 

Carson City, Nevada

Don't skip the gift shop! It's a great place to find inexpensive souvenirs from the city you're visiting, like a state flag (typically about $3), a pencil, a postcard, or locally made candies or other edible items. 

Phoenix, Arizona

If you want your visit to be 100% free, skip the gift shop and stop by the information desk to get a souvenir stamp from your visit. Each state has one. You don't need to buy the book in order to get the stamp (although we love ours). 

Annapolis, Maryland

Virtually all Capitol buildings are open to the public during normal business hours. Many are open for limited hours on the weekends as well. Check the website ahead of time to determine when a particular Capitol is open. (Typing "visit ____ Capitol building" will usually bring you to the relevant page.)

Denver, Colorado

Expect construction, be flexible, and allow plenty of time. About a third of the Capitol buildings we've visited were under construction at the time. It makes sense, as many of the buildings are well over 100 years old and under constant use. Allow plenty of time to find your way to the entrance, as it might not be where you think it is due to construction!

Indianapolis, Indiana

Figure out your parking ahead of time. Many Capitol buildings are in the heart of a major city, which means parking can be limited. Some have underground parking, others have designated lots for visitors, and some have ample street parking nearby. I almost always call or email to ask where to park. Knowing ahead of time has saved us money, reduced stress, and eliminated bickering about where to park. Better yet, consider public transportation. Capitol buildings are a major destination no matter what city they are in; you can usually find a bus, tram, light rail, etc. that will take you there. 

Dover, Delaware

Our family has had so much fun visiting the Capitols. We've enjoyed each and every one we've toured. Ideally, we'll make it to the remaining 30 someday. I hope I've inspired you to plan a Capitol visit for your own family!