Hot Cocoa Science

As should be fairly obvious by now, I love doing science experiments with kids. So when a request went out for volunteers to lead activities during the Cub Scout Winter Science Night, I signed up right away. I explored the concepts of density and buoyancy using hot cocoa. While I did this activity with 30 Cub Scouts, it's just as much fun at home with your own kid(s). 

Materials: tub of water, assorted household items (coin, dice, Lego, twist tie, piece of styrofoam, bottle cap, paper clip, etc), mug of hot cocoa, assorted candies (I used Starlight Mints, Whoppers, marshmallows and Hershey Kisses)

Begin by talking about why things sink and float. Define density and buoyancy and give examples. (I really like this site as a reference.) One by one, take each household item and have the kids predict whether it will sink or float by moving to one side of the room (representing sink) or the other (representing float). Drop the item in and award a point to anyone on the correct side of the room. Have them return to the middle of the room and repeat with a different object. Continue this for all of the items. Then ask the kids to come up with a true statement based on what they observed using the words density or buoyancy. I was really impressed with what the Cub Scouts were able to share!

Now it's time to pass out the hot cocoa. Be sure not to fill the cups too high, since the fluid (cocoa) will be displaced by the weight of the objects put in it (candy).

Start by holding up the marshmallows. Ask the kids to move to the sink or float side of the room to make their predictions. Most will already know that a marshmallow will float, so see if anyone can explain why. Pass out the marshmallows and have them conduct their own experiment. Bring everyone back to the center of the room and try a different candy. Repeat with as many different candies as you want. Wrap up the activity by enjoying your delicious mug of chocolatey, minty hot cocoa!


Introducing…. a New Logo and my Marketing Coordinator!

Eagle-eyed readers have probably noticed that I've been using a new watermark for the past few weeks. 

Creating my new logo has been a labor of love. While it would have been much easier to hire someone with a lot more experience than I have to make it, I was determined to do it on my own. I used DesignMantic and was very happy with their tools and their customer service (as it was inevitable that I wouldn't be able to figure it all out on my own.) I got a jpeg, pdf and png version of my logo for a very reasonable price. Did you notice that the logo represents the fact that I'm a lefty

I used the new logo to design new business cards:

My new blog header (coming soon) will look similar. 

I intentionally left the logo's pencil hollow so that I'd have options. The cards look good as is, but they are even more fun in a rainbow of colors.

I didn't just get one set of business cards though, which brings me to my big announcement....

I've brought on Tanya Napier as the Marketing Coordinator for My Creative Life! 

I mentioned back in October my plans to monetize the blog, which will be Tanya's main focus. I am thrilled to have her join me! I'll let Tanya introduce herself:
My name is Tanya Napier. I live in Southern California with my husband of 13 years, Will, and our three boys, ages 11, 8 and 4. I am a former preschool teacher and became a stay at home mom when my oldest entered kindergarten. Besides taking care of my own family, I provide childcare for two other families, as well. I love reading, spending time outdoors, drinking coffee and cheering my boys on from the sidelines of many sports. 
I can't remember a time when I wasn't involved in some sort of craft project. Scrapbooking is my first love, but I also enjoy cardmaking, sewing, home decor and kid's crafts. I also dabble in art journaling. Nothing inspires me more than being around crafty people and seeing what and how they create.

Welcome, Tanya! I'm so excited to be working together!


Welcome 2016 Balloon Craft

To enter the Project Penguin craft challenge, go here. All entries are due Sunday, Jan. 3 at noon Pacific.


New Year's Eve is a wonderful time for crafting. (As are the other 364 or 365 days of the year.) Welcome the new year and get a jump on your resolution to spend more time creating with this fun and easy project!

Materials: colorful cardstock or construction paper, scissors, glue, cloud punch, number stickers, and a pen

Start by cutting out ten balloons in different colors. I chose one of my favorite color schemes. Cut an 11th balloon that is significantly smaller than the others. Glue the larger balloons to the middle of a blue background paper. Add some clouds toward the top of the paper. (You can draw them in white or cut them out freehand if you don't have a cloud punch.) Layer the smaller balloon over one of the clouds. Add number stickers to the larger balloons to show the upcoming year (2016). Use a smaller sticker to show the digit of the ending year (5). If you don't have number stickers, just write the numbers. Use a pen to draw the balloon strings. That's all there is to it!


Poinsettia Card

Don't forget about Trevor's Project Penguin craft challenge! You have until Sunday, January 3 to enter.


We have some unusual Christmas traditions in the deRosier house. Probably the most strange is that we don't do Santa, elves, or anything else that takes credit from the person who actually made or purchased each gift. (Trevor always gets strange looks when people ask what Santa brought him and he says, "Nothing.") Another different-than-normal tradition is opening all our presents to each other on December 23. And, we handmake all our thank-you cards on the 22nd or the 23rd. There are others, but today I want to talk about thank-you cards.

I've relaxed my thank-you note policy as Trevor has aged. Until he was about 6, I had him make and write thank-you cards to absolutely everyone who gave him a gift. Now I only require that he mail thank-you cards to people who didn't see him open his gifts in person. Everyone else gets a heartfelt thank-you when he opens it, and often an emailed or phoned thank-you later when he's actually using the gift. 

For the record, I have the same rules for myself. If I open a gift in person, I don't send a thank-you note, but anyone who mails a gift or leaves one for me to open after they've left gets a thank-you note. Here's what I made this year:

Materials: cardstock (white, green, red, yellow), scissors, hole punch, glue, scalloped punch, red marker, thank you stamp and ink

Begin by drawing an ordinary star on the red paper. Make each of the five points into more of a teardrop shape as shown.

Draw another star on red, smaller than the first. Make its points into teardrops too. Then make one larger star on the green cardstock. 

Cut out each star. Bend them slightly at each point to create some dimension. Punch some circles from the yellow cardstock.


Glue the stars to the white cardstock, starting with the largest. Rotate each so that the points don't line up. Use the punch to add a scalloped border on the card front, then run the marker along the bottom inside of the card so that it shows from the front. Stamp the sentiment and it's ready to go.

Trevor's cards combined stamping and coloring:

These thank-you cards give me the chance to say thank you to all of you who read my blog and support my creative endeavors. I am so grateful to you all. I'll be taking a week off from blogging, so I'll see you back late next week. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!


Painted Penguin Container

I'm pretty sure my 2-year old niece doesn't read my blog, so I'm ok sharing her present early. Actually, it's a container that holds her presents, much like a gift bag. So all I'm really doing is showing you a form of gift wrap... no surprise spoiled.

Do you recognize the container? I know it's hard with no sense of scale in the photo, but it's pretty large - almost a foot tall and a foot in diameter.

When Trevor moved his Tinkertoys out of the original package, I grabbed the container and set it aside. I didn't have a plan, but I figured I could do something with it. Then I realized it was big enough to hold Allison's presents and then serve as a container for toys afterward. I got to work.

The first step was a coat of gesso over the entire container, including the metal lid. I thought for awhile and decided that the container would be a penguin. So I painted most of it black.

I painted one section white. In retrospect, I should have left the eyes and beak areas white too, as it took a couple of coats to cover the black. 

I added the eyes and beak. I wanted to add a spray sealant, but we've had non-stop rain, which is not compatible with sealants. If I can't get it sprayed before Christmas, I'll wrap a container of sealant for my sister to deal with. And if it doesn't get sealed, it's no big deal. In fact, it might be fun for Allison to repaint it if the penguin gets damaged.


Beaded Wreath Ornament

If you are looking for the Project Penguin Craft Challenge, go here.


This time of year is tough for craft bloggers. We're making all this awesome stuff to give as gifts, so we can't share it on our blogs without spoiling the surprises. Yet no one is looking for Christmas craft tutorials in January after those gifts have been opened, which means the posts could go largely unnoticed. To share or to wait... that is the question.

I'm going to wait on most of my projects because surprising friends and family is the best part of homemade gifts. But I will share one or two. Today, a beaded wreath ornament. Affiliate links below. 

Beaded Wreath Ornament



Begin by cutting approximately a foot of wire. String 45 green seed beads onto it, then twist the ends to secure the beads in place. Obviously, you can use more beads to make a larger wreath if you want.

Snip any excess wire off one end and curve the other end to form a hook. Shape the wreath into a circle. Attach a second piece of wire at the 1:00 position on the wreath, wrapping it around itself a few times to hold it in place.

Add one red bead, then wrap the wire around the green beads, skipping over a few before adding the next red bead.

This project takes some dexterity, so I'd recommend it for upper elementary age kids and up. Trevor (age 9) did just fine.

When you reach the 11:00 position on the wreath, twist the wire around itself to hold it in place, then snip any extra wire. Cut a piece of red cord and form a bow, then glue it to the wreath, trying to cover the wires at 1:00 and 11:00. 

The three of us whipped out nine wreaths in about 20 minutes, at a total cost of around $5 with plenty of beads, wire and cord left over. They're going to look really cute dangling from our gifts, then eventually hanging from our relatives' Christmas trees.


Hoppy Holidays!

If you are looking for Project Penguin (Trevor's craft challenge for kids), you can find it here.


Each year, I send out Christmas cards with a photo of the three of us. This year, I made an additional photo card for the wonderful people at Contra Costa Rabbit Rescue. We adopted Trouble from CCRR in June 2011. They have been absolutely wonderful over the years, from teaching us about life with a house rabbit to boarding Trouble during long vacations. We are so grateful for everything they do to give rabbits the life they deserve in a loving home.

Making this card gave me another excuse to play with PicMonkey. I've been using it for both work and play for about a month now and I'm still discovering cool features I didn't realize it had. Seriously, PicMonkey should start paying me. I can't shut up about it!


Playing with Type: Ampersands

I'm obsessed with doing the challenges from Lara McCormick's Playing with Type. This challenge was to explore the ampersand form and create a poster.

Here's what I made:

Once again, I used the exercise as an opportunity to become more familiar with PicMonkey. After creating the first four text blocks, changing the color, altering the size and then changing the font, I dug around to see if there was a shortcut, because the process was way too tedious. Sure enough, a simple right click let me duplicate and then change the font. It saved a ton of time. And what a fun way to explore all of the font options! 

My project is digital, but I could totally see printing it out and using it for engagement, wedding or anniversary cards. I probably wouldn't go with the bold blue for any of those, but changing the background to the perfect color for each couple would only take 2 seconds. I might just have to do that.


‘Thanks a Minion!’ Card

Trevor's Cub Scout den needed to make thank-you cards for some wonderful people who have helped us out, so I brought the supplies for 'Thanks a Minion!' cards to a recent meeting.

Materials: white card base, cardstock (white, yellow, blue, black), scissors, glue, small hole punch, Sharpie

I explained to the Scouts how I made my sample. I started with a yellow rectangle that was slightly smaller than the card base, then used the scissors to round off the top. I added a blue rectangle that was a little less than half the height of the yellow and glued it in on top of the yellow. Then I cut two smaller rectangles from the scrap, glued them where the overall straps go, and trimmed the edges so they were flush with the yellow Minion. I punched two circles from white cardstock, glued them to the Minion and used the Sharpie to add pupils and glasses. I made dots for the overall buttons. Then I glued the minion to the card base and glued on some black cardstock hair.  

The boys got right to work, with plenty of chatting and checking out each other's progress.

My #1 rule when crafting with kids is to encourage creativity. If I wanted all the cards to look like mine, I could have just made them myself. I was thrilled that the boys each took their cards in totally different directions. Aren't they adorable?

Trevor's card is second from the right. I love that he made his Minion extend beyond the height of the card base. So creative. We'll need a slightly larger envelope for his card, but that's no problem. Making envelopes is easy. Good work, Scouts!


Crown Rose Brewing

Steve has been brewing his own beer for about 6 months now. Back when he got started, he asked me to help think of a name for his brewery. I came up with Crown Rose Brewing, which is a play on his name. Steven is from the Greek for 'crown', while deRosier is French for 'of the rose.' Therefore, Crown Rose is Steven deRosier.

For my next challenge from Lara McCormick's Playing with Type, I designed a label for Steve to use for his beer. He hasn't seen this yet, so I'm very curious to hear what he thinks and what tweaks he wants. 

This is my latest PicMonkey project. It is seriously fun to play with all the options.


Playing with Type: Food + Type

I hope you enjoyed all ten of Trevor's Project Penguin craft challenges! You have until Sunday, January 3 to enter for a chance to win prizes. 

Today I'm sharing another challenge from Lara McCormick's outstanding book, Playing with Type. This challenge was to combine typography and food to create something amazing. Fun!

I was very inspired by some artwork by designer David Schwen:

Here are the ones I made:

Not only was it a lot of fun, but it gave me a chance to play around with the my new Royale Membership at PicMonkey. I wish I'd gotten it sooner. It has so many cool features and would have saved me hours and hours of time (and frustration) in the past. At only $33/year, it is well worth it. (For the record, no one is paying me to say this. I was beginning to sound a bit like a commercial.)

Anyone else inspired to turn their favorite foods into a graphic like this? If you do, be sure to let me know!


Project Penguin #10: Perler Bead Winter Art

Hello! Trevor again. Welcome back to the last day of Project Penguin! Today we are making Perler bead winter art. I made a penguin who is dressed as Santa.

My mom made a bunny wearing a scarf.

Materials: Perler bead supplies, an iron

Come up with your own idea to make a Perler bead project that has something to do with winter. Then iron it. Make sure you have an adult to help you if you need it. Photograph it and link it below for a chance to win!

Thanks for playing along with Project Penguin. Remember, you have until January 3 to submit all of your Project Penguin crafts. I will have another post announcing the prize winners on January 4, so make sure you enter. I will have a random winner and a winner that I have chosen. Good luck!


Project Penguin #9: Midnight Snow Scene

Hello! Welcome back to Project Penguin! Trevor again. Today we are making midnight snow scenes.

Materials: black construction paper, white crayon

Today's project is super easy. All you need to do is draw on the black paper with the white crayon! You could draw a Christmas tree, a full moon, a snowman, a North Pole sign, presents, a cabin, a sleigh or reindeer. Those are the things that we made, but you can make whatever you want.

My art is at the top. This is my mom's:

Now it's your turn! Make a midnight snow scene or something inspired by it by January 3 for a chance to win.


Project Penguin #8: Quilled Holly Gift Tags

Hello! This is Trevor again! Welcome back to Project Penguin. Today we are making quilled holly gift tags! 

Materials: strips of red and green copy paper (construction paper and cardstock are too thick), glue, quilling tool (or a toothpick works, too!), white cardstock, pen

Use the quilling tool (or toothpick) to quill the red paper into a tight circle. 

Add glue to the end and attach it. Hold it for about 10 seconds, then slide it off the quilling tool.

Make two more tight circles. These are the berries for the holly. Put a green strip of paper on the quilling tool and quill it, but don't hold as tightly as you did for the red. 

Release the circle before you glue it together. Add glue to the end and press it together. Hold for 10 seconds. Use your hand to pinch together the center of the circle.

While still pinching, use your other hand to squeeze one side and push it toward the middle. Repeat with the other side.

It should a little bit like this:
Write 'to' and 'from' on the white cardstock. Glue the holly and the berries onto the cardstock and it is done! Mine is at the top of the post. Here's another look from a different angle.

This is my mom's. You can make yours vertical (like mine) or horizontal (like my mom's). 

You can punch a hole to add or a string or just tape it on a gift. 

Now it's your turn! Make a quilled holly gift tag like mine or inspired by mine and link it below by January 3 for a chance to win.


Project Penguin #7 : Candy Cane Soft Pretzels

Hello! This is Trevor again. Today for Project Penguin we are making candy cane soft pretzels!

I invited a friend over and we made it together. Here we are kneading the dough.

Now, we are dividing the dough.


Here we are shaping the dough.


When all the dough was shaped, we used food coloring mixed with egg to paint the stripes on the candy cane.

Here are all the pretzels, ready for the oven!

Here's the recipe so you can make your own.

Soft Pretzels

                                                1 pkg yeast                           1.5 tsp. sugar
                                                1.5 c. water                          4 c. flour
                                                3/4 tsp. salt                          1 egg
                                                red food color

Heat water to approximately 110˚F and add yeast. Stir until dissolved. Add salt, sugar, and flour, then stir to combine. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic (approximately 10 minutes). Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a pencil-shaped roll, approximately 12 inches long. Split the roll in half, then twist the two pieces together. Place the pretzel on an ungreased pan, curving the top to form the crook of the candy cane. Beat the egg, then add a small amount of red food color. When the egg is the shade you want, use a food-safe paintbrush to paint the egg on every other stripe of the candy cane. Sprinkle lightly with salt (optional). Bake at 400˚F for 12 to 15 minutes.


Now it's your turn! Make candy cane soft pretzels or something inspired by them for a chance to win. Take a photo and link it below by January 3.