Bandon Family Reunion

I’ve had photos from our 2017 family reunion in Bandon, Oregon cropped and mounted to black cardstock for a REALLY long time. I finally forced myself to sit down and make a title card and journaling card to complete the layout. 

Bandon Family Reunion (affiliate link)

I don't love it, but I'm happy to have it in the album. 


Scrabble Tile Hanging Welcome Sign

I love Scrabble. I have a huge bag of Scrabble tiles and racks that I got at a thrift store years ago (in addition to the 8 Scrabble boards I own) and was recently digging through them for a collaborative project I'm doing with a friend. After setting aside the letters I needed for that project, I decided to make a welcome sign. Affiliate links below. 


Scrabble Tile Hanging Welcome Sign



Use the craft drill to bore holes 1/4" from each end of the rack. I put a piece of cork beneath the rack, then set it on top of a cardboard box. Oh, the horror stories I've heard about people using the craft drill on their dining room table! 

Paint the blank tile pink and set it aside to dry. Punch a star from the black cardstock. Arrange the Scrabble tile in the rack to spell WELCOME, centering them as best you can. Remove one tile, add Supertite glue, then replace it. Do this for the remaining tiles. 

Thread the ends of the twine down through the two holes on the rack. Tie a knot in each end. Tie another knot at what will be the top of the hanger to form a loop. Now it's time for glue. Put a dab of glue above the two end knots, then pull snugly against the rack. Add a very small amount of glue to the top of the rack directly to the left of the W and to the right of the E. Press the twine to the glue. This will help it hang upright without tilting. Finally, fold the loop over to make a bow shape and glue it in place.  

Glue the black star to the front of the now-pink tile, then glue the tile to the wooden bead.

When everything is dry, it's time to hang your sign. I originally planned to hang the wooden bead on a nail, then hang the welcome sign on that. It worked fine, but I ended up preferring to use a small picture hanger. I put the sign up first, then added the bead to the hanger. 

It occurred to me while I was writing the post that I could have added a second rack that hangs below the first to create WELCOME FRIENDS. My sign is already glued in place, but if I ever make another I'm going to do it that way. 

I'd planned to end my post after the last sentence, but I couldn't get the WELCOME FRIENDS idea out of my head, so I make a really quick digital mock-up. 

I like it. I just might have to make one. 


Rotating Tabletop for Jigsaw Puzzle Fans

I've told you guys before about the beautiful woodwork my dad has done. Now that my parents moved out of state into a smaller house, his garage workspace is significantly smaller than the workshop he used to have. Fortunately, he still has room for some tinkering. He sent me photos of his latest creation, a rotating tabletop for jigsaw puzzles, thinking I might want to share it with you all. Here it is, sitting on top of a card table.

To work on another section of the puzzle, simply rotate the tabletop.

Cool idea! Here are the plans in case you'd like to make your own.

This is the underside. The felt pads are there so it doesn't harm the table underneath it.

This is what the top looks like when there isn't a puzzle on it. 

Obviously, you could paint it whatever color you want. You could use a solid board instead of pegboard if you want a smooth tabletop, but the finished product will be a lot heavier. As is, it's about 7 pounds, making it easy to move and store. 

Dad also gave me the cost breakdown. He found everything at Lowe's. 

  • Pegboard $16.48 (comes as a 4'x8' sheet but they will cut it to size for free)
  • Metal Lazy Susan $7.65
  • Flat head screw machine screws $1.79 (comes in a package of six sets)
  • Felt pads $4.95 (comes in a package of twelve)
Did you happen to notice the blue sorting bins in the photos at the top of the post? We gave those to Dad for Christmas and they are a hit. They interlock and stack, which is so handy. He recommends getting two sets of six. Here's an affiliate link:

Let me know if you end up making your own rotating puzzle tabletop. Thanks for sharing your design, Dad!


Pinners Conference California Trip: Sightseeing in San Bernadino County

Rather than spend a second day at Pinners Conference, Jennifer and I played tourist in Ontario and nearby San Bernadino. Jennifer's high school friend, Sandy, joined us for an epic day. I'd never met Sandy before, but we hit it off right away. We both have house rabbits! Check out her awesome sweater. I need one with grey bunnies.

You might think from the photo that we started our morning with Egg McMuffins. Absolutely not! Breakfast was included at the hotel, but even if it hadn't been, we wouldn't have gone to McDonald's. I could do that at home. When I travel, I want something I can't eat at home. So while I had no interest in visiting McDonald's for food, I was all about going to the museum at the site of the first McDonald's restaurant, located in nearby San Bernadino.

As I mentioned in Friday's post, our local friends warned us that San Bernadino has a reputation for crime. A bit of googling reveals that San Bernadino is ranked the most dangerous city in California. Alarming at first glance, but take it with a grain of salt. Vallejo is listed as the #4 most dangerous city in California. I taught there for 11 years and felt perfectly safe (and was perfectly safe) every single day. Most cities have neighborhoods that are better or worse than the others. Oakland and San Francisco (ranked #1 and #7 for crime respectively) are both examples of cities with extreme differences between the best and worst parts of town. And even in the poorer parts of town, common sense goes a long way. Visit during the daytime, travel with others, avoid displaying expensive stuff, and remain aware of your surroundings. Don't buy or sell drugs, don't hang out with gang members, and stay indoors at 2:00 am and you'll significantly reduce your chances of being a victim of a crime in the "most dangerous" cities. 

The neighborhood around the McDonald's museum has definitely seen better days (as is true of most areas along Route 66). There are some boarded up buildings and vacant lots and it looks rundown. It's not a place I would walk around alone at night, but it felt perfectly safe during the day. The museum itself is fenced and very well-maintained. Definitely go!

I am not exaggerating when I say that we spent 20 minutes walking around the building before we ever went in. Not only are there a bunch of retro McDonald's rides throughout the grounds, but the building is covered in the most amazing mural I have ever seen. We took a ton of photos and kept spotting things to point out to each other. 

A sign declared it, "The World's Most Detailed Mural." It definitely is. I wish I'd put my hand up against the mural to give you a sense of scale. The level of detail was amazing.

Jennifer and I were excited to find Vince's Spaghetti in the mural, where we'd eaten two days earlier. I didn't realize it at the time, but the yellow building pictured to the right of Vince's would be our next stop after the McDonald's Museum!

Sandy and I spent all day long calling out, "Bunny!" whenever we saw one. This one, located on the opposite wall from "The World's Most Detailed Mural," was easy to spot.

Time to pose in the Golden Arches before heading indoors.

The building was jam-packed with everything you can imagine having to do with McDonald's. 

We saw menus, food wrappers, advertising posters, restaurant rides, Happy Meal toys, promotional items, and so much more. 

There was a section dedicated to The Founder (affiliate link), which Jennifer had coincidentally just watched. I was fascinated and will be watching the movie this week. There was another area about now-famous people who once worked at McDonald's. There were souvenirs from the Olympics that McDonald's sponsored.

I loved it all, but my absolute favorite were the displays about McDonald's restaurants outside the US. There were shelves dedicated to dozens of countries, showing their food wrappers, promotional items, and not-found-here menu items. There was a whole shelf of pie wrappers from around the world. I only ever remember seeing apple pie, but apparently there are places where you can get taro pie, pineapple pie, and corn pie, among many others. (It made me think of the McDonald's burrito in Albuquerque!) 

In the same building as the McDonald's Museum, there is a small room dedicated to the history of Juan Pollo, which is a Mexican-style rotisserie chicken restaurant chain. The owner of Juan Pollo, Albert Okura, also owns the McDonald's Museum. Mr. Okura is a very interesting man, a third-generation Japanese American who is very active in restoring and revitalizing Route 66.

We left the McDonald's Museum and drove to another location along Route 66, the beautifully restored Cucamonga Service Station

I remember when gas cost under a dollar, but I definitely don't remember when it was 17 cents! 

Alas, there is no gas for sale here anymore! The museum is very small, but there is lots to see inside. I got a kick out of these Route 66 soda bottles.  

Our next stop was at Ontario's oldest business, Graber Olive House. They've been selling olives continually since 1894. 

We browsed the grounds and the gift shop while waiting for the guided tour. 

The tour took us to see the machinery the seasonal workers use to grade, cure, and can the olives.

During harvest season (October through December), visitors get to watch the process. If you visit in March like we did, the equipment is empty and the machinery is quiet. 

After the tour ended, we poked around in Graber's small museum. 

By this point, it was after 2:00 pm and we were starving. Where to eat? Juan Pollo, of course! Jennifer and I had never heard of it before visiting the McDonald's Museum and Sandy had seen it but never eaten there. 

I ordered "Juan's Bowl" which was absolutely delicious, but enough food for at least three meals. Seriously, if I'd had Steve and Trevor with me, the three of us would have been satisfied!

Sandy had nachos, which I did not photograph, and Jennifer had rotisserie chicken. I had a bite and it was fantastic. Everything was fresh and delicious and very affordable. 

We arrived at the Ontario Museum of History and Art at 3:00 pm, aware that we only had one hour until they closed. 

The museum is housed inside the former City Hall building. It has two wings connected by a center portion. One wing has two large galleries for temporary exhibits. We saw "Jerry Weems: Visual Histories" and "Danny Lyon: Memories of Southern Civil Rights." Both were so impactful and well worth a visit. 

The other wing has a permanent exhibit about the history of Ontario. They are renovating it, so about half was closed. While I would have loved to have seen it, we were short on time so it might have been a blessing in disguise. The part that was open was very well done and I learned a lot about the area. Note the Graber's Olives in the lower right!

Here's a display about Vince's Spaghetti! It's clearly an institution and I'm so glad we ate there. 

 When the museum closed, we crossed the street and walked a block to this interesting structure.

"What is it?" you ask. A monument to the Mule Car.

From 1888 to 1895, the Mule Car provided public transportation up and down Euclid Avenue. The mule pulled the car up a 1000 foot incline (which took an hour) then rode on a platform behind the car for the gravity-powered return ride (which took 20 minutes). In 1895, when electricity powered the cars, the mules were sold to a farmer. He soon complained that the mules would only pull the plow one direction before expecting a ride back the other way! 

Our final stop in our epic tour was just a block away. Logan's Candies has been making candy by hand since 1933. 

They host very popular candy making demonstrations in November and December. But there's still plenty to see during the other months. The highlight for me was the "World's Largest Homemade Candy Cane," which is six feet long. That and tasting their ribbon candy. Delicious! 

After Logan's, we headed back to the hotel room and collapsed, thrilled with everything we got to see and do. I'm so glad we had a free day to explore the area. It would have been sad to travel there and only see the inside of the Convention Center. 

You might have noticed that I didn't mention the admission fees we paid for the three museums or the factory tour. That's because there aren't any admission fees. The McDonald's Museum, the Cucamonga Service Station, the Ontario Museum of History and Art, and the tour at Graber's are all free. It's amazing to me that such high-quality, interesting, and informative places don't charge admission. What a treasure! Definitely visit if you can.


Pinners Conference California Trip: Day 2

On Friday 3/8, Jennifer and I woke up to a beautiful day in Ontario, California. After breakfast at the hotel, we walked across the street to the convention center where Pinners Conference was held. 

Checking in was quick and easy.

The VIPs (including presenters) had early access to the shopping floor before general admission started. I really appreciated the chance to see everything before it got crowded.

The floor had around 160 booths selling a wide variety of items, including She Sheds...

 ... kitchen supplies...

 ... jewelry and trinkets...

... and LOTS of painted, chalked, and/or decorated wood signs. 

There were booths selling makeup, hair accessories, clothing, protein powder, marshmallows, shoe insoles, massage pillows, totes, books, and more. We saw a lot of bunnies, which was awesome. I think that is because of the time of year more than anything. 

Some of the booths were offering make-and-takes in addition to selling product. Most of the make-and-takes were either jewelry-related or stenciling on wood. Most cost $10. Many were similar to, or the same as, the projects we'd made the night before at the VIP Party.

It took about 90 minutes for Jennifer and me to see everything on the show floor, which was perfect timing. We headed to our first class: "How to Create Unique Cookies." It was demonstration-style (rather than hands-on) with two large screens that allowed us to see what the instructor was doing. 

There is a 30 minute break between classes, which is supposed to allow 15 minutes for the previous instructor to clean up and 15 minutes for the next instructor to set up. In my case, it took 29 minutes for the previous instructors to clear out, leaving me just a minute to get myself ready to present. Fortunately, I didn't have materials to set up and was not selling class kits, so it wasn't a major issue. My class, "Destination Discovery: Family-Friendly Educational Travel," went well. I didn't have very many attendees, but those that I did have seemed to enjoy it and asked fantastic questions. 

Jennifer and I made a quick trip back to the hotel to drop off my laptop and other supplies from my class, then headed to our next class. We'd hoped to take a sewing class together, but it was full. We split up. I went to another lecture-style class, "Lifestyle Photography for Branded Content Creation." It was excellent. Jennifer went to a hands-on class to make a "Let Love Grow Chalkboard Sign." She learned a lot and had a good time.  

We went back to the shopping floor to look around and noticed there was another cookie class in progress. The room was 90% empty, so we went in and sat down. During the last five minutes of the class, the instructor let us come up and try our hand at decorating. So much fun! 

I've never piped with flooding glaze before. As you can see, I need to practice! I had a hard time keeping my initial barrier line straight, as I'm used to piping with thick icing that holds its shape. The instructor made it look easy!

After class, we walked a short distance to Spires Restaurant to meet up with 6 of our Southern California friends from back in our Fiskateer days. One of them had suggested Spires for its hearty, inexpensive, tasty diner food. 

The food was just as promised - hearty, classic comfort food like you'd expect to find in a diner. The eight of us had a wonderful time eating and chatting and catching up. 

Over dinner, Jennifer and I mentioned our plans for the following day. We'd be playing tourist, visiting a bunch of locations in the area, including San Bernadino. We had no idea, but apparently San Bernadino has a bit of a bad reputation. We promised our friends that we'd go during daylight and let them know that we made it back safely. Spoiler alert: We made it back safely! In fact, we had no problems whatsoever, and I'm going to do my convince you to add a specific San Bernadino location to your Southern California travel plans. I'll tell you all about it on Monday.