Cork Mouse

I've had this little cork mouse sitting on my desk for years... decades, probably.  I think I made him when I was about 10.  His whiskers are a little bent and his tail is a bit ratty, but he's held up well considering his age.  He was made with leftovers from a leathercraft project, but you could make it with other materials you have on hand.

Materials: a tapered cork, black seed beads (2 tiny for eyes, 1 small for nose), stiff fabric for ears, lacing for tail, fine gauge wire for whiskers, scissors, awl/piercing tool, and glue.  

Begin by using scissors to cut round mouse ears from the fabric.  Leave a small flap of fabric at the bottom of each ear, which will be poked into the cork to hold it in place.  Trim the wire into 2 or 3 short pieces to make whiskers.  Cut the tail to the desired length.

Use the awl to poke a hole in the center of the wide end of the tapered cork.  This is where the tail will go.  Use the awl to poke five holes for the face.  The ears should have deep holes and the eyes and nose should have shallow holes. 

Put a drop of glue into the large bead and insert whiskers.  Set aside.  Put glue into ear and tail holes.  Use the awl to push the appropriate pieces firmly into place.  Put a drop of glue where the eyes and nose will go, then carefully put each in place.  Let dry completely.


Project 41: October

Of course, my Project 41 companion for October was Trevor.  Our tradition of going to Baskin-Robbins for Trick OREO Treat ice cream every October is what inspired Project 41.  

Trick OREO Treat is vanilla ice cream with orange creme-filled Oreos and chunks of Baby Ruth and Butterfingers candy bars.  It's really yummy.  This year, it seemed like there were way fewer candy bar and cookie chunks mixed in than in years past.  (Check out this layout about last year's visit to compare pictures.)  It made me wonder how they suspend the pieces in a giant mixture and what efforts are made to be sure every scoop gets a reasonable amount of mix-ins.  It seems like it would be very hard to ensure consistency.

Here we are.  Trevor always chooses to get his ice cream in a cup instead of a cone, as it is neater.  I'm about 75/25 on cone vs. cup.

We had a wonderful time together, of course, as we always do.  It was nice to sit and enjoy a treat together and chat.  Thanks to Baskin-Robbins for Trick OREO Treat and the fun tradition Trevor and I have of enjoying it together every year!


School Lunch

When I was a kid in elementary school in the 70's, school lunch meant raising my hand in the morning for Lunch Count, then standing in a long line in the cafeteria, giving the lunch lady the money that I'd carefully kept in my pocket all morning (75 cents, I think, or 25 cents for just milk), and walking along the line as lunch ladies handed me a tired hamburger then scooped ladles of soggy tater tots and grey green beans onto my tray.  I didn't buy school lunch very often.  

When I was a teacher in elementary school in the 90's and early 00's, school lunch meant taking Lunch Count each morning, collecting money from the kids ($1.50 for full lunch, 40 cents for reduced lunch and 25 cents for just milk), reconciling the money, and sending the order and money to the office.  I took the kids to the cafeteria, where the correct number of hot lunches and my order form were waiting at their table.  As soon as I passed out the lunches, I was free to leave and eat my own lunch.  I occasionally ate the hot lunch, though not very often.  Some of the items were really good, but most were just ok.  All of them were significantly better than the food from my childhood school lunch experience.

Last year as a first grader, Trevor ate school lunch for the first time.  For him, that meant standing in a line to collect a debit card preloaded with money, swiping it ($2.50 for full lunch, 40 cents for reduced lunch and 25 cents for just milk), and then choosing from one of four entrees.  After collecting an entree, there was a choice of dozens of fruits and vegetables, then a choice of drinks.  He loved everything about it and raved about the food.

After his first school lunch, he came home so excited about it that he asked me to write down how much he loved the chicken with whole wheat roll so that he'd remember to get it every time it was served.  I made a little dot in orange on his menu next to the chicken and shaded in the box.  He thought that was a great system and decided that we'd use green to remember which foods he didn't like.  By April, he'd had school lunch about 45 times (about twice a week) and had only marked a single item green (the whole wheat bagel dog).  

Here's the menu from May.  

Notice the yellow box?  That is from the day that I ate in the cafeteria with Trevor and his friends.  He'd been asking me to come and try the amazing food, so I did.  We dined on hardshell tacos, an apple and chocolate milk.  

It was really, really good.  I was blown away by the number of choices and the quality of the food.  The produce was amazing.  Now I see why Trevor likes school lunch so much.  Boy, have things changed since I was a kid!


Tooth Twins

Trevor is 7 weeks older than my goddaughter Kylinn.  Over the years, they've hit just about every milestone within a few days of each other.  They both lost their first tooth at the same time. Fourteen months later, they both lost their two front teeth at the same time.  Here's my layout about our little Tooth Twins:

I love their beautiful, gap-toothed smiles!


The Career Game

Look what I recently uncovered in my childhood closet! It's a pamphlet called "The Career Game" from 1987.  

I did a quick search and learned that Rick Trow Productions sells modern 
versions of career workbooks movies, and software.  You can find it here.

I was 15 years old in 1987 and was pretty sure what my career was going to be. I was going to go into food science. I loved to cook, was very interested in nutrition, and was fascinated by foods like Tang that were invented to fill a specific need (in this case, the space program). The University of California at Davis had a strong food science program, so that's where I would go.

Food Science was a recent choice. From ages 3-14, I was planning to be an elementary school teacher when I grew up. When I was about 6, I asked my parents to hang a chalkboard in my bedroom. I begged my mom to take me to the district office where they sold discarded textbooks for pennies. I used to drag folding chairs into my bedroom and make the neighborhood kids sit in rows and listen to me teach. Which they did. Often.

Anyway, so when I was 15 I was going to be a Food Scientist. By the time I was 17 and had taken Chemistry in high school, I decided that Food Science didn't interest me nearly as much as I thought and decided to follow a career in International Relations instead. That's where St. Vincent and the Grenadines comes in. But more on that in a future post.     

My 15-year old self filled in all the pages about my interests. For each item, I checked yes or no if I felt strongly about an item and left it blank if I was indifferent. Here's one sample page:


It was absolutely fascinating to go back and see what I said at age 15. I found my 41-year old self arguing with my 15-year old self. "Why didn't you check yes on organizing papers?! Every single piece of paper you owned was alphabetized and labeled!"  

In 1987, I said yes to: playing musical instruments, skiing, meeting new people, 3-dimensional puzzles, illustrating books, interviewing people, making charts, making greeting cards, leading tours, being a camp counselor, keeping a diary, listening to music, saving money, photography, teaching a friend, decorating rooms, making pottery, a neat loose leaf book, math puzzles, working at a church bazaar, being a yearbook manager, using a label maker, drawing, algebra problems, organizing meetings, typing from a Dictaphone, flower arranging, painting by numbers, building model kits, learning the Bill of Rights, playing Monopoly, organizing a work area, doodling, writing letters, making graphs, making lists and collecting stamps.

Here's the analysis:

My top score (green) says, "You enjoy expressing yourself creatively. Unstructured and free-flowing job environments will probably suit you. If you have the talent, a career in the arts would be a likely choice." Second was this (red): "You're a people lover. Your way of problem solving is through discussion and you're probably good at getting your views across. You would enjoy a career that involves training, teaching, developing, or helping others.  

I ended up working and running recreation programs all through college, taught elementary school for 11 years, and now am working in the craft industry, first doing design work and now doing both design and writing.

Interestingly, I went through and answered the questions how I would today. Neither green nor red came out on top! Instead, my top was blue:"You feel the most comfortable doing well-structured tasks. You're likely to be efficient, practical, and orderly in the way you go about your business. Chances are you'll fit into a large organization very nicely." Second was purple: "Economic goals are important to you. You feel comfortable in leadership positions because you enjoy the role of persuader. You're good with words and are more likely to find job happiness working with your mind than with your body."

Fascinating! I think the lesson is that I don't quite fit neatly into a box. I am a very creative person who likes structure and order. I love to lead and/or teach large groups, but I'm not all that social and greatly prefer one-on-one time over parties or bigger get-togethers. I am good with words and enjoy everything about writing, especially the creative aspects of it.

Which description best fits you?


My All-Time Favorite Collection?

Do you have an all-time favorite paper collection?  There are a lot of collections I've loved over the years, but there's one that I have on more layouts than any other, saving every tiny scrap to use somewhere.  I've used this collection for a huge variety of topics, as it seems to go with practically everything.  That collection is Crate Paper's Lemon Grass.

These layouts are almost 100% Lemon Grass. 

These use Lemon Grass embellishments.

And these use some of the neutral papers in the collection.

I'm down to one sheet plus some tiny scraps, and a few embellishments, so I'll probably be able to squeeze one or two more layouts out of that.  

Do you have one collection that you've used more than any other?  I'd love to hear what it is!


You're In the Doghouse Now!

Time for another skip down Memory Lane!  This time, I'm sharing a book I wrote for an elementary school assignment.  Unfortunately, there is no date on it.  But I'm pretty sure it was 4th grade, making me 9 or 10 years old.  My mom kept it all those years, which is awesome.

Our class had been studying idioms.  The assignment was to illustrate some of the many idioms we'd discussed.  Here's the cover of my book, still in remarkably good shape some 31+ years later:

He's on top of the world.

Would you lend me a hand?

The cowboy bit the dust.

Has the cat got your tongue?  (or, as it wrote then, tounge...)

Every night I hit the hay.

I'm in a pretty pickle.

The whole thing cracks me up.  I love looking back on my early artwork.  The short arms, the awkward stances, and the writing guidelines I drew and didn't erase make me both cringe and laugh at the same time.  I'm looking forward to pulling Trevor's artwork out in 3 decades and smiling about it with him.


Christmas Means Family

Here's a simple layout from Christmas 2012.  That's our family of three in the upper right.  The bottom left is us with Steve's parents, sisters, brother-in-law, and nephews.  The bottom right is us with my parents, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew.  

It makes me happy.  As does Trevor's snowman sweater.  If the best thing about Christmas is time with family, the second best thing about Christmas is snowmen.  


Pipe Cleaner Snake

Last summer's Cub Scout Day Camp theme was Jungle Adventure. Steve and I alternated days as a leader and on one of my days, the boys made snakes from pipe cleaners to wear on their name badges. They enjoyed making them and happily put them on their name badges before we set off for a hike. Not five minutes had passed before I started hearing from various boys in our den that their snake had lost his eyes or tongue. Almost no one's snake survived our short hike, including Trevor's, leading me to believe the problem was with the adhesive and not with the boys.

For the last few months, I've been meaning to experiment with this craft to make a version that is more sturdy and just as cute. I finally did just that. Affiliate links below. 


Pipe Cleaner Snake



Twist the two pipe cleaners together to make the snake's stripes. Give an extra twist to the ends so that the pipe cleaners don't come apart. 

Bend about 1/2 inch of one end of the pipe cleaner under itself to start the head. Repeat. Give a slight twist so the face area is flat. 

Coil the remainder of the pipe cleaner to make the snake's body.

Snip a forked tongue from the red felt. Add a drop of glue to the tongue and push it between the coiled pipe cleaners to secure it in place.

Glue on the eyes.  

Allow the glue to dry completely before attempting a hike. Enjoy this easy, fun, and totally cute snake craft!


Trevor at 7

Here's my annual layout with Trevor's birthday portraits.  I described Trevor as smart, kind, talented, mature, happy, creative, honest, curious, trustworthy, clever, calm, and responsible.

I make a point not to look at the previous years' layouts when I come up with my list of adjectives, which makes it really fun to compare from year to year.  Last year at 6, I described him as smart, responsible, honest, creative, funny, trustworthy, careful, curious, helpful, and adorable. (You can see that layout here.)  I was pleasantly surprised to see that I hadn't thought to add 'careful' to this year's list.  Trevor has always been extremely cautious, often to a fault, and it is wonderful to see him starting to outgrow that and beginning to take tiny risks here and there.

Despite that little change, Trevor's personality has basically been consistent his entire life. 

At 20 months, I described him as intelligent, happy, trustworthy, funny, cooperative, organized, helpful, careful, athletic, curious and affectionate... fairly similar to this year's list.  

I'm a very lucky mommy.


Lots of Halloween Crafting

Our house has been full of Halloween decorations for about three weeks now.  I love having the house decorated for Halloween.  At least 95% of our decorations are homemade, which makes it especially fun.  Trevor LOVES getting out the Halloween boxes each year, pulling out the items, and seeing the artwork he made in previous years.  There's always some fun commentary.  "I actually thought pumpkins looked like this when I was two?!"  or "Why did I put these bats upside down when I was three?!" or "Look at the cool witch legs I made last year!  I can't even tell which are mine and which are yours!"  It's fantastic.  

Here are some of my favorite Halloween crafts from the past few years, currently decorating our walls and countertops:


I try to make sure Trevor writes his name and the date on the back of all his projects.  It's so fun to see how his skills have improved over the years.  

One more photo to share:

Remember the Bendable Monkeys we made for Trevor's 5th birthday?  When we were making our Name Skeletons, Trevor cut out an extra skull, taped it to a toothpick, and curled the monkey's hand around it.  So creative!  It's now hanging from our chandelier.  Fun, huh?!


Legoland 2012

While we were at Disneyland last year, we took a one-day side trip to Legoland. Here's the layout.  

It's inspired by a Becky Higgins layout ("Why We Love Summer") published in Creating Keepsakes in Aug. 2008. I loved her grid design with black pen lines separating the photos. After adhering the photos and drawing the lines, I used my light box to trace the Legoland logo, colored it in with pens and added Stickles to the sun. I wrote out my journaling, then added the minifig sticker and speech bubble.

I seriously love Legoland. I can't wait to go back.


Disneyland '12

Each year, my parents take our family and my sister's family on a trip to Disneyland.  Here's the layout from our 2012 visit:

There are a few details I'd like to point out.  First, the title.  The yellow part is stickers, but the black part is just pen.  I printed out the logo, taped it to the back of my patterned paper, put it on the light box and traced.  Then I transferred it to the desk and colored in the traced letters. Quick and easy.      

Next, the Mickey embellishment in the top right.  It's just a scrap of black cardstock that I punched 7 times (two small circles, one larger circle slightly overlapping them, and the corner rounder on all four corners).  I backed that with a scrap of yellow and added the '12 rub-ons.  

Finally, washi tape.  Two of the four strips of "patterned paper" are actually washi tape.  Can you tell which ones?  It's the black dot on the far left and the red dot under the embellishment. The yellow stripe and other red dot are paper.


Clergy Appreciation Month

This post contains affiliate links. 

Did you know that October is Clergy Appreciation Month? Me neither, until I was assigned to write an article about it for Scrapjazz. Despite being a lifelong churchgoer, I hadn't even heard about Clergy Appreciation Month and had certainly never done anything special for the occasion. Time to remedy that. I definitely appreciate my pastor.  He's awesome.

Here's the card I made for Pastor Todd. I used the scraps from my goddaughters' baptism card to make the cross. I ran the base through a friend's Texture Boutique using the 'Swirls and Dots' folder, orienting it so that the dots were toward the top (in other words, upside down). I glued a cardstock butterfly in place, then added a line of glue just along the body and carefully placed a vellum butterfly on top. I gently folded up the wings to provide dimension and a sense of movement.  I'm happy with how it turned out: simple, elegant, and uplifting.    


If you have a religious leader in your life, I encourage you to take the time during Clergy Appreciation Month to show your thanks for all that he/she does!


Halloween Clotheslines

The best part about my job as Editorial Assistant for Fun Family Crafts is getting to see so many awesome and clever craft projects. When I'm reading through blogs, searching through websites, or scouring Pinterest and come across an excellent tutorial that I would like to feature at Fun Family Crafts, the first thing I have to do is search Fun Family Crafts to make sure it (or one just like it) isn't already there. As I scroll through all the projects with the same keywords, my mind is flooded with ideas. Here's one example.

A few weeks ago, I found this clothesline craft at Adventures of an Art Teacher.  It was so cute and each one was so different, which is something I value a lot. I really wanted to feature it. When I searched Fun Family Crafts to make sure we didn't already have something similar, I found this adorable Christmas-themed clothesline craft. I went ahead and submitted the clothesline craft I'd found since it was quite a bit different than the Santa one and now both are on the site.  

I was totally inspired to make a Halloween-themed clothesline craft. My friend Kelly was coming over for brunch and a craft morning, so I decided that we could each work on one when she was here. I dug out my scraps and we got to work. Here's what I made:  

This one is Kelly's:

I'd originally planned to have trees holding up my clothesline, but I made my five items first and then didn't have room for the trees I'd envisioned. So I left them out. Kelly took the tree idea and totally made it work. Interestingly, Kelly's turned out much more like I'd originally envisioned the project than mine did!

When he got home from school, Trevor saw my project on the wall and had to put his two cents in. He asked why the witch would hang her broom, why she left space for a spider to dangle down, and why a ghost would hang itself. He was polite, of course, but essentially told me that Kelly's was much better because it made more sense. That's my boy, always logical. 

I like them both. And it was really fun. Thanks to Kelly for playing along and allowing me to share her awesome (and logical) artwork!


Foil Packet Meals

Last week, our Cub Scout den leader taught the boys how to cook foil packet dinners (and desserts!) outdoors.  They started by layering a cabbage leaf on top of two pieces of foil, then placed a raw hamburger patty on that.  They added salt and pepper and their choice of onions, shredded carrots, shredded potatoes, and mixed vegetables on top.  (Trevor chose everything except onions.)  They carefully wrapped up their packets, sealing the edges, and then put them on the hot grill for about 30 minutes.  

Trevor was so excited to open his up.  It smelled amazing and looked great.  He dug right in and finished the whole thing.
After dinner, they made foil packet desserts.  Each boy put a tortilla on foil, then added either peanut butter or apple pie filling (Trevor chose the apple pie filling), chocolate chips and marshmallows.  They rolled up the tortillas, sealed them in foil, and put them on the grill for about 10 minutes.  They looked, smelled, and tasted fantastic.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a decent picture.  

Steve was on a business trip and missed the Outdoor Cooking den meeting.  Trevor begged me to let him teach Daddy how to make them, so right before Steve was due home, we headed to the store to buy our ingredients.  We used the oven to make our "Welcome Home Daddy" meal.  It was a success. 

Since Trevor had already tried the apple pie version of the dessert tortilla, he wanted to try the peanut butter version.  It was amazing.  Since then, we've experimented with some other variations.  This is raspberry jam, dark chocolate chips, and two large marshmallows broken into pieces.  

This is peanut butter, raspberry jam, and milk chocolate chips.  

Trevor tried grape jelly, white chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, and fruit-flavored marshmallows.

Each was delicious... and so easy!  I've done a lot of foil packet cooking on camping trips, but this was a good reminder that foil packet cooking is just as great for cooking in the oven or on the backyard grill.  We're definitely going to be doing foil packet cooking more often now.  Do any of you have a favorite recipe for foil packet cooking?


Mrs. Forbes, Teacher Extraordinaire

Trevor's first grade teacher, Mrs. Forbes, was one of those teachers you wish every child could have.  She was endlessly patient, cared deeply about her students, and made each child feel loved.  She explained things clearly, made learning fun, and helped each student reach his or her potential.  Trevor really thrived in first grade and I know that Mrs. Forbes was a huge part of that.

Thank you to Mrs. Forbes and all the other wonderful teachers out there who truly make a difference in the lives of children.