Happy Halloween!

Well, it wasn't easy, but I completed Trevor's knight costume and am really happy with how it came out!  The chainmail (that took me countless hours and left my hand a gnarled hook) looks great.  The tunic (which, despite its simplicity, challenged my incredibly novice sewing skills), and the shield (the easiest part of the whole thing) came out just how Trevor wanted it. 

I don't have photos to share of Steve's king costume or my damsel costume yet.  We'll take some group photos tonight. 

Happy Halloween everyone!


I ♥ Coloring

I've always loved coloring.  Pens, crayons, colored pencils, coloring books, geometric designs, my own drawings- I love it all.  I find coloring very relaxing.

Trevor loves coloring too.  But while I spent hours and hours coloring on my own as a kid, Trevor considers it a social activity.  He doesn't want to color unless he's coloring next to someone else who is coloring.  So we frequently color together. 

I'm always on the lookout for coloring contests or holiday-themed coloring pages.  When I saw two pages on the Sparky Firepants blog, I immediately printed out copies for Trevor and me.  I love that there are two different styles of pages.  The first is a typical blackline coloring page.



Some people feel that this type of coloring page discourages a child's creativity.  I completely disagree.  Trevor obviously didn't feel limited by conventional colors when he colored.  He didn't happen to add his own details to this page, but he frequently does.  I like this type of coloring page because it helps him develop fine motor skills and allows him to try out new techniques.  See the way he colored the lettering?  He saw me doing mine that way and asked me to teach him how.  I love that he experimented with something new.

The other coloring page we did definitely encouraged our creativity!

(The last one is supposed to be a cow.  I hope the others are more obvious.)


Once again, we inspired each other. Trevor started with the bunny jack-o-lantern.  (It's colored grey, but the scanner didn't pick that up.)  I ran with that idea and made a whole page full of animals.  Trevor used my idea of a pig and a giraffe.  He added the fish, then decided he wanted the last two to just be faces.

I ♥ coloring!


Themed Patterned Paper

I have a problem with themed patterned paper.  No matter how cute it is, I rarely end up using it.  Either my pictures end up clashing with it, or it is too theme-y for the layout, or it just doesn't work for some other reason.  And it ends up sitting in my pile of unused paper.  I've pretty much stopped getting any themed patterned paper unless it has a non-themed pattern on the B-side.  That way I know I can use it for more than just the one topic.

This layout uses paper from Pink Paislee's 'Old School' line.  I wouldn't normally go for school-themed paper for a layout about a boy and his pet bunny, but the B-side worked perfectly.


Combining Photos from Events

I've mentioned before that I have a weird quirk where I will not scrap more than one page for an event, no matter how many photos I took.  A related quirk is that I like to combine photos from similar events into a single page.

We are HUGE fans of fairs.  Most years, we visit two county fairs plus the California State Fair.  I'm guessing a lot of people would scrap that as three separate pages, but I make one page that summarizes them all.

Here's a fairly typical page- this one happens to be from 2008.  Three fairs, four photos.    

And here's the page from this year.  Two fairs, fifteen photos.  One major difference between 2008 and 2011... I realized that I don't have to order every photo as a 4x6!  Printing collages allows me to get so many more photos on the page.


Scrapping Out of Order

I do not scrap in chronological order.  This should come as no surprise to anyone who has read my blog before.  In the past few weeks, I've posted the following layouts in this order: our anniversary (May), a trip to San Jose (June), Trevor at preschool (Sept-April), preschool graduation (May), adopting Trouble (June), a pumpkin patch visit (October), and Trevor's birthday (June).  That's not just the order in which I posted them- it's the order in which I completed them.

Even though I don't scrap in order, I always put the pages in chronological order in the scrapbook.  Here's the system that works for me: I order a stack of prints every 2 or 3 months, sort through them to figure out how many layouts I'll be making, then put post-it flags on my page protectors to show where each page will go.  The top of the album looks like this:

Once all the pages are tagged, I start scrapping, beginning with whatever photos I feel like working on.  When I finish a page, I slide it into the marked spot in the album and remove the post-it note.  Here's the spot where yesterday's layout about Trevor's birthday party will go:

Occasionally I misjudge how many pages I'll be making, but it's very rare.  When that happens, I just move the layouts and post-it notes to make room for the unexpected layout.

Do you scrap chronologically?  If not, do you put the layouts into albums chronologically or in the order in which you finish them?  What system works for you?


Another Finished Layout

It is such a good feeling to finish a layout and get it into an album!  I've been struggling with this one for a few months.  It was hard to pare down the photos to just the seven I included.  Once I settled on the photos, I had trouble finding a place for some accent paper and the journaling without it looking crowded.  I do like the finished page.


Halloween Costumes for your Candy

I have fond childhood memories of wrapping Kleenex around Tootsie Pops to make ghosts.  I decided to challenge myself to dress up some other candy as well!  Here's what I came up with.  I love them!

First, the ghosts.  For each ghost, you need one Kleenex, one Tootsie Pop, some ribbon, and a Sharpie.

Step 1: Peel apart the Kleenex into two plies and stack them as shown.  Use the Sharpie to add a face.

Step 2: Wrap the Kleenex around the Tootsie Pop and tie with the ribbon.  Done!

Next, the pumpkins.  For each pumpkin, you need a square of orange tissue paper, 3 Starbursts, some floral tape, and a Sharpie.

Step 1: Stack the Starbursts in the center of the tissue paper.

Step 2: Twist to secure.

Step 3: Wrap the floral tape around the top of the tissue paper to form a stem.  Bend for a more realistic look.

Step 4: Use the Sharpie to add a face!

Finally, Frankenstein.  You need a Sugar Daddy, green tissue paper, black cardstock, 2 googly eyes, a Sharpie, glue and scissors.

Step 1: Wrap the green tissue paper around the Sugar Daddy.  (This would be easier with a pack of gum or anything else rectangular, as you wouldn't need to work around the stick.)

Step 2:  Use the Sharpie to add hair, eyebrows, a nose, and a mouth.

Step 3: Cut bolts from the black cardstock and glue to the back.  Glue on the eyes.

I seriously love how these turned out!  I'm hoping they'll be a hit at our MOMS Club Halloween party.


Happy Birthday Trouble!

Four months ago, we adopted an eight-month old rabbit named Trouble.  That very day, Trevor checked the calendar to see when we would hold Trouble's birthday party.  He's been planning the details for months.  Finally, the big day came.

Trevor and I made cards:

And Grandma even sent a card in the mail!

We baked Bunny Biscuits for Trouble....

and Carrot Cupcakes for the humans.

We set the cards and food on Trevor's picnic table....

and the presents on the grass.

The Guest of Honor LOVED his bunny biscuits.

All that were left were crumbs.

Trevor read the cards to Trouble, who listened attentively.

Trouble wasn't sure what to do with his presents.  He sniffed them and nudged them a little bit, but didn't open them.

Trevor eventually opened them for Trouble.

Happy first birthday Trouble!  We're so happy to be your Forever Family.


"I'm a Pumpkin!"

Trevor and I love pumpkin patches.  We visit at least 3 different patches each October.  As soon as we arrive, I pose Trevor amongst the pumpkins, hoping for that perfect picture with gorgeous colors, ideal lighting, and his winning smile.  Of course, he'd much rather play than pose for pictures.  I usually get one or two acceptable photos before he zips off to enjoy the pumpkin bowling, corn bath, or hay mazes.

During our first pumpkin patch visit of the year, he sat nicely for one obligatory photo, then proceeded to pretend he was a pumpkin in all subsequent photos.  It was so funny.  Even better was the way he announced, "I'm a pumpkin!" each time. 

I used this sketch from Shannon White.


What a fun sketch!  I love the way it turned out.


Pipe Cleaner Spiders

Many years ago, I used to do a really cute pipe cleaner spider craft with my fifth graders. I love seeing my sample each year when I unbox the Halloween decorations.


Pipe Cleaner Spider


  • 4-hole black button
  • four pipe cleaners
  • two googly eyes
  • craft glue


Bend each pipe cleaner in half and force the bent end through one of the holes of the button. It should protrude about 1/2 inch or so, depending on the size of your button. This step is either easy or very difficult depending on the size of the buttonholes. If it is a very tight fit, try rotating the pipe cleaner as you push it through. Repeat with the other three pipe cleaners.

Bend the ends of the pipe cleaners down to cover the button.

Bend the legs to form the shape of the spider.

Glue on eyes.


It's been at least a decade since I've made one of these, so I'd forgotten that a few of the steps are a little tricky. Trevor wasn't able to thread the bent pipe cleaners through the buttonholes, so we adapted the project to match a kindergartener's dexterity. 

Start with the same supplies, but instead of bending the pipe cleaners, leave them straight. Thread each of the four pipe cleaners through a buttonhole.

Working with one pipe cleaner at a time, twist the two ends around each other to secure them to the button. Bend the pipe cleaners to form the spider legs.

(For this picture, I removed the other three pipe cleaners to make it easier to see what to do.)

Continue to twist and then bend all eight legs.

Add eyes and you're done!


My Very First Pet Page

Look- my first pet page ever! 

This was another of the 18 unfinished layouts that had been sitting on my desk for 2 months.  I'd done everything except embellish it.  I knew I needed whatever embellishment I put in the upper left to hold part of my title, but nothing inspired me.  As I was cleaning up from another project, I found the Jillibean corrugated buttons that I'd won at a Scrap Again crop.  The larger one housed my title perfectly.  I used my Fiskars squeeze punch to add some other circles in different shades of brown.

I love the way it turned out!


Tomato Soup

The weather around here has been really unpredictable- rainy and 50° one day, sunny and 80° the next. I've been harvesting from the garden on the warm sunny days, then using those items to make soup on the cold rainy days. Here's some tomato soup I made, based loosely on a recipe from Bon Appetit.

Tomato Soup

                                        2 T. olive oil                                                 3 slices bread, cubed
                                        1/2 c. chopped onion                                4 c. vegetable broth
                                        1 clove garlic, minced                               fresh basil, slivered
                                        1 lb. chopped tomatoes                           grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, bread and broth. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer approximately 10 minutes. Use an immersion blender to puree soup to desired consistency. Divide basil between bowls, then ladle soup over the basil. Sprinkle with cheese. Serves 3.

There weren't any leftovers, so for my next tomato soup recipe I used this:

To make this!

Tomato Soup Cake is so good! I have no idea where I originally got the recipe, as I've been making it for decades. I like to bring it to potlucks- no one ever guesses the 'secret' ingredient.  

Tomato Soup Cake

                                    2 c. flour                                                 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
                                    1 1/3 c. sugar                                         1 can (10 3/4 oz.) condensed tomato soup
                                    4 tsp. baking powder                           1/2 c. shortening
                                    2 tsp. ground allspice                           2 eggs
                                    1 tsp. baking soda                                 1/4 c. water                               
                                    1 tsp. cinnamon

Grease and lightly flour two 8" round cake pans and set aside. Mix dry ingredients. Add soup, shortening, eggs and water. Beat at high speed for 4 minutes. Pour into pans and bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire racks. Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

                                    4 oz. cream cheese                             2 c. powdered sugar
                                    4 oz. butter                                           1 tsp. vanilla

Beat together cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add powdered sugar 1/2 c. at a time. When sugar is incorporated, beat in vanilla.