Urban Adventure Quest, Sacramento

A few months ago, friends of ours told us about a smartphone-based challenge called Urban Adventure Quest they'd completed in Sacramento. It sounded like so much fun! I looked into it and ended up buying it as a gift for my inlaws to do with us over Trevor's spring break. It was so fabulous that I have to tell you all about it!

After paying, I received log-in information and instructions. We went to the designated start location (Capitol Avenue and 16th Street) and eagerly read the instructions for our first of 17 challenges. The timer started and we were off!

Each challenge took a bit of searching, counting, calculating, and/or puzzling, but none was so difficult for us to need a hint. But hints and support are available for anyone who needs either. There were also four bonus questions interspersed amongst the challenges.

Our group of five is very familiar with Sacramento, yet the challenges were still challenging. We didn't automatically know the answers most of the time, nor necessarily where exactly to find them! 

The challenges taught us a lot about a city we know well. I can only imagine how neat it would be to visit a new-to-me city as a tourist and complete an Urban Adventure Quest! 

Two Quest challenges took us inside the Capitol. While Trevor has seen the outside of the Capitol dozens of times and explored the Capitol grounds a handful of times, he'd never actually been inside. 

Last year, in conjunction with his Little Passports album, we started making a point to take Trevor to each Capitol building as we visit a new-to-him state. Obviously California isn't a new-to-him state, but I'm glad he's finally seen the inside of the Capitol building. It is quite different from the others he's seen, which in turn have been quite different from each other.

The Sacramento quest covered 2 miles, essentially down Capitol Avenue from 16th Street to 1st Street in Old Sacramento. We strolled at a leisurely pace. (Note Steve's knee brace and the walking stick he's using as a cane in the photo below. As a not-unrelated aside, did I mention that Steve and I started taking ice skating lessons two weeks ago?)

We completed the whole Quest, with all challenges and bonuses answered correctly, in exactly 2 hours, 4 minutes and 2 seconds. You can see how we rank compared to all those who have completed the Sacramento Quest by clicking here. We're Team deRosier. 

You might be saying, "This sounds great, but I do not live near Sacramento and have no plans to visit your lovely capital city." To this I say, "Check out the dozens of Urban Adventure Quest locations to find one near you!" If you're in the US, that is. If you're not in the US, come visit! Urban Adventure Quest is adding 10 new locations in 2016 on top of the many already available. 

Unfortunately, when I contacted Urban Adventure Quest to ask about whether they had an affiliate program (because I knew I'd be glowing about them on my blog!), I learned that they do not have nor want an affiliate program. Drat! But they were kind enough to send me a discount code to share with all of you! To get 25% off an Urban Adventure Quest, use the code CINDY25.

Let me know if you end up doing an Urban Adventure Quest! We're going to do at least one this summer and I hope to eventually do lots more!


Foiled Birthday Button

In an ideal world, I would finish a project, then immediately photograph it, upload the photos, and create and schedule a blog post. Sometimes this happens. Often it doesn't. Many times, I make projects and set them aside to wait for better light. There's really no point taking pictures at night or when it's stormy out because the photos are going to be terrible and I'll end up redoing them. Sometimes I'm able to take pictures right away, but can't upload them and watermark them because I'm away from my computer. Sometimes I've finished a project, photographed it, added watermarks and even uploaded the photos, but other responsibilities mean I can't write the blog post right away. You get the idea. And if you're a craft blogger, I'm sure you have the same issues. Anyway, that's all a long explanation of why I'm blogging about a craft I made for Leap Day.

My sister-in-law, Teri, is a leap year baby. This year, she turned 36 in normal-person years, but it was only her 9th birthday. I made her a button to wear on the big day. Obviously, this project would work well for any celebrant, no matter how old or what time of year.

Foiled Birthday Button

Materials: gold paint, chipboard number, 2 chipboard circles (preferably one slightly smaller than the other), round punch (same size as larger chipboard circle), iCraft EZ Cut AdhesiveiCraft Deco Foil, ribbon, strong glue, safety pin

Start by painting the chipboard number gold. Set it aside to dry. Punch a circle from the EZ Cut Adhesive. Apply it to the larger chipboard circle. Rub gold Deco Foil over the adhesive, then gently lift the liner away. 

Cut two piece of ribbon. Glue them to the back of the chipboard circle with a strong glue, then glue the second chipboard circle to sandwich the ribbon. Glue the number to the front and the safety pin to the back.


The iCraft products I used were part of a large package of goodies that Therm O Web generously sent me after the FaveCrafts Blogger Networking Event. I'm already a fan of their adhesives, but their Deco Foil is new to me. It comes in a lot of fun shades, including rainbow: 

I've been having a lot of fun playing with it. Huge thanks to Therm O Web for your generosity!


"I'm a Little Teapot" Craft

I can honestly say I've never done a teapot craft before. I'd intended to turn a fuzzy red pom pom and a red pipe cleaner into some sort of alien or monster, but I kept seeing a teapot instead. So I went for it.


Pom Pom Teapot

Materials: pom pom, pipe cleaner, wire cutters, glue

Using the wire cutters, snip a 1/2" piece of pipe cleaner and set it aside. Trim two 1.5" pieces of pipe cleaner. Bend one into a C to form the handle. Bend another into a J to make the spout. Glue them in place. A hot glue gun* makes the job quick and easy, but craft glue works too. Just give it plenty of drying time and provide support to the handle and spout while they dry.

So what does one do with a doll-sized teapot? I suppose you could use it for a doll's tea party. But I actually think it would be best as an activity at a pre-teen girl's themed birthday party. School-age kids would be old enough to cut pipe cleaner and use hot glue. Glue it to the top of a pencil for a super cute party favor!  

*At CHA, I tried out the AdTech Mini Precision Pro Glue Gun and felt in love. The fine tip was awesome. What a world of difference from a standard glue gun! And I love that it has a base and sits upright. If you'd like to get one, please consider using my link as I'll receive a small portion of the sale. Thanks!


First Day of 4th Grade

Trevor is almost done with 4th grade, but the first day is now officially in the scrapbook.

Perhaps I should work on some of the 2013 and 2014 stuff that isn't scrapped yet...


“Bread” - The Fail That Wasn't

I really enjoy trying out new recipes, even if I'm sure they're going to fail. Such was the case with a recipe simply called "Bread" that I found on Cooks.com. The ingredient list includes exactly four items: butter, sugar, yeast and milk. You don't need much baking experience to know that mixing any amounts of those four items is not going to yield anything that would traditionally be called bread. Without some sort of flour or flour-like substance, you simply can't turn yeasty, sweet, milky butter into bread. 

However, four sentences into the cooking instructions mentions self-rising flour. Aha! Now we potentially have the makings of a bread. There's no amount given (simply 'enough'), but at least bread is now possible. But several other things about the recipe gave me pause. First, it's unusual to have a recipe with yeast but absolutely no rising time. And doubly weird to mix yeast and self-rising flour in the same recipe. And even weirder to melt AN ENTIRE STICK of butter in a loaf pan, then pour it out and save it to pour on top of the dough before baking. 

Naturally, I decided to try this recipe when we'd have guests over. Dinner for 12, in fact. Because what fun is a weird recipe that can't possibly work if you don't have 11 dining companions to share it with? None, I say.

I mixed up the bread dough, opting to put in slightly over 2 cups of self-rising flour. With no guidelines for how much was 'enough', I could only make my best guess. Then I poured the melted butter over the top. I'm a big fan of butter, but this did not look promising.

I popped the bread into the oven. During the required 30 minutes, many of my guests peeked through the oven door to see if the butter-pool would somehow turn the dough into bread. No one was especially optimistic, but....

It worked! The loaf smelled amazing and had a buttery, crispy top over a biscuit-like bread. It was very rich, so I cut it into fairly small pieces and advised that no one bother buttering it. Next time I'll try a bit less butter.

I couldn't believe it. I was sure we had a Fail on our hands, but it turned out to be The Fail That Wasn't.

And my review:


40-4-Steve: Homemade Gnocchi and Caramel Sauce

Don't be concerned by the title of this post: we did not put caramel sauce on gnocchi. Rather, making homemade gnocchi and homemade caramel sauce were the next two items on the 40-4-Steve challenge.

Steve had been wanting to make gnocchi for years, so we finally just picked a day and made it happen. Trevor and I acted as sous chefs and photographers. Steve made a brown butter sage sauce for the gnocchi. Heavenly!

But even better was the homemade caramel sauce. We poured it over Steve's favorite ice cream, Moose Tracks. It was amazing. If you've never made your own caramel before, give it a try. It's ridiculously easy and tastes so good.

Delicious! Four challenges down, 36 to go!


40-4-Steve: Charles Schulz Museum

Number 3 on the list of 40-4-Steve was a visit to the Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, just under an hour from home. What a great museum! We happily spent about 5 hours there, including exploring the galleries, listening to a cartoonist lecture, playing with props and sets from The Peanuts Movie, completing a scavenger hunt, walking a Snoopy-shaped labyrinth, creating in the art room, and enjoying lunch at the Warm Puppy Cafe while watching a hockey game on the ice rink.

I had a hard time narrowing down the photos for this layout, but knew that I wanted one with each of us in it. I love the photo of Trevor dressed as the WWI Flying Ace. He's sitting on Snoopy's doghouse, though you can't see that in the picture. Steve and I are with cutouts that were used to promote The Peanuts Movie. The sticker in the lower right is the sticker we wore to show we'd paid admission. The Snoopy sticker beside the title is a vintage Hallmark sticker from the early 80's. I fussy-cut it to remove the background, which left just a small yellow outline that works really well with the yellows on the page. A fun page for a really fun day!


Do Not Try This Egg Dyeing Technique

I like to try different techniques for egg dyeing. Over the years, we've had some big successes. Last year's rice dyeing was awesome. We've tried contact paper masks, spray mists, stamping and hand-painting... all with great success. This year's experiment? Fail.

It started out promising. I've always wanted to try the classic rubber cement resist technique, but I didn't have rubber cement. I did, however, have clear Elmer's glue that makes an awesome resist on fabric. Simply draw on your design, dye it, then wash the glue out. Brilliant! No reason it wouldn't work just as well on eggs! And bonus that it is non-toxic! I decided to dedicate six eggs to my experiment.

I actually thought through the most obvious pitfall- drying time. The glue would take quite some time to dry, so I did the glueing the day before the dyeing. Of course, I couldn't just stick gluey eggs into their slots in the carton. So I carefully propped the eggs, drizzled on my glue designs and let them dry in place. So far, so good.

After a few hours, the glue was completely dry, so I put the eggs back into their carton and put the carton in the fridge. The next day, I pulled the carton out while Trevor prepped the dye. The eggs looked cool. I lifted each one out to admire how the glue had dried. They had fun glue designs on them and surely would turn out beautifully!

Steve and Trevor started dyeing the rest of the eggs while I took photos and supervised Trouble. After about 10 minutes, I was ready to start dyeing my special eggs. Uh oh. I hadn't accounted for what happens to eggs when they come out of a chilly refrigerator and sit for awhile. The condensation made the previously-dry glue sticky. I was able to ease five of the eggs out of the carton, but the sixth left a chunk of eggshell behind. Aargh!

I put my five now-sticky eggs into the dyes. If the glue had been dry, the few minutes in the dye might not have done much to the glue, but the sticky glue just got stickier in the dye. Sigh. I pulled out my eggs and propped them up to let them dry.

The final step was washing off the glue. At least it washed off easily. And it did function somewhat as a resist, though the designs were far less awesome than they'd been when I applied the glue. I suppose it wasn't a total fail.

If you're interested in making some glue-resist eggs, I'd strongly recommend going with the rubber cement. Or, make sure to avoid the condensation pitfall that did me in. Better yet, try contact paper, rubber bands, crayons or any of a number of other items to do the resist.


Felt Rabbit Electronics Case

Remember the cute rabbit finger puppet that Trevor made? It was inspired by the Monster Finger Puppets in the book, Crafting with Felt (affiliate link). Today, I'm sharing Trevor's next project from the same book. It's an felt electronics case. And, of course, it's shaped like a bunny.

The book has patterns and detailed instructions to make four different felt phone cases: a lion, a bear, a frog and a pig. You can see them on the upper left of the front cover:

Crafting with Felt

They are adorable, but around here it's all rabbit, all the time. Trevor does not have a phone, so he decided that his rabbit would be a case for his DS and the charger.


Felt Rabbit Electronics Case

Materials: felt (grey, pink, white, black), scissors, black Sharpie, hot glue, needle, grey embroidery floss, white pom pom

Step one was carefully reading the directions. Trevor does not have much sewing experience, so I told him to read the directions out loud for the animal that was the closest to what he was picturing in his head for the rabbit. That was the bear. The directions were easy to understand. We talked about how to adapt the ears from bear to rabbit, how the face would differ, and what changes Trevor would need to make for the fact that his DS is larger and thicker than a phone. Once I was confident he knew what he was doing, I got out the materials he needed and he dove right in.

Trevor began by putting his DS and charger on a piece of scratch paper to see what size he needed. Then he cut two pieces of grey felt to that size. He cut two grey ears, two black eyes, a pink nose, two pink inner ears, and a white tummy.

He used hot glue to attach the facial features, the tummy, and the ears to one piece of grey felt. He glued the pom pom to the other piece of felt. Then it was time to tackle the sewing. Crafting with Felt has handy illustrations of the various embroidery stitches, so Trevor was able to look at the picture to figure out how to make a blanket stitch. 

It was hard for him at first. He took a break at the halfway point, but came back 15 minutes later and finished the rest quickly. 

The photo at the top of the post has the DS and the charger inside the rabbit case. Here's the rabbit sitting next to the DS and charger:

And the back:

We've had a lot of fun with this book. Big thanks again to Leisure Arts for providing us with it! Leisure Arts has a fantastic collection of craft books and coloring books for all ages. Trevor and I will be reviewing a different book in April, so be sure to check back. In the meantime, head over to Leisure Arts to see if anything catches your eye!



40-4-Steve: Bottega

Steve, Trevor and I are major foodies. So when it came time to brainstorm a list of 40 new-to-him experiences for Steve's 40th birthday celebration, Trevor and I put a handful of famous restaurants on the list. We are fortunate to live close to the Napa Valley and some of the best restaurants in the world. For years, Steve has been wanting to visit Bottega, Michael Chiarello's upscale Italian restaurant in Yountville, so that's where we went for Steve's actual birthday surprise (as opposed to the surprise party the night BEFORE his actual birthday). 

We were expecting outstanding food and stellar service. We were NOT expecting Michael Chiarello to actually be there and we certainly weren't expecting him to come over to Trevor (the only child in the restaurant) and introduce himself! After assuring him he needed no introduction, I told him we were there to celebrate Steve's 40th birthday. As it turns out, it was Chef Chiarello's 54th birthday that day. What a fun coincidence that he and Steve share a birthday!

Our evening at Bottega exceeded our wildest dreams. The food was incredible and meeting Michael Chiarello was a thrill. It got 40-4-Steve off to a great start!


Miniature Edible Jelly Bean Bouquet

Here's a fun and easy gift idea for spring! Or anytime, really. Because who wouldn't want a miniature edible bouquet made of candy to brighten their day? Nobody, that's who. Affiliate links below.

Miniature Edible Jelly Belly Bouquet



Pour your Jelly Bellies out on a clean surface. Pick out the shades that are best for flowers and leaves and set them aside. I used Cotton Candy, Orange Sherbet, Bubble Gum, Very Cherry, Lemon, French Vanilla and Green Apple. Eat the rest. Except for Buttered Popcorn and Top Banana. Those are completely disgusting.

Poke a toothpick into the end of each Jelly Belly, except for the green ones. Use the knife to split each green Jelly Belly lengthwise, then stick each half horizontally to one of the green toothpicks where leaves would be. It's sticky enough to stay put if you press a bit. Set the toothpicks aside.

Squeeze the marshmallow so that it is smaller in diameter than the condiment cup. Place it in the cup and sprinkle the mini M&Ms around it so the marshmallow isn't visible through the cup. Add extra M&Ms on top to hide the rest of the marshmallow. Now, poke the toothpicks into the marshmallow as if you were arranging flowers. Put them at different heights and mix the colors around. Finally, add a bow. It's ready to give to someone special!

Here's a photo of the bouquet in my hand to give you a sense of scale:

I didn't take photos of the intermediate steps because I was experimenting with a lot of things and wasn't sure what would work. Instead, here's a photo of what it looks like when you pull the marshmallow out of the condiment cup after you've given the completed bouquet away and it's ready to eat.

I could see making a bunch of these as party favors or place cards. I imagine using just one color for all the flowers could be really striking. I might just have to make more of these. Good thing the Jelly Belly Factory is just down the road!


Aware and Care: Simulated Braille Craft

This month, I've had the pleasure of leading Trevor's Cub Scout den as they work on the 'Aware and Care' elective. We've done activities to simulate blindness, including trying to sort and count coins while blindfolded. We've learned about severe visual impairments and made blindfolds for ourselves from plastic wrap to experience what cataracts are like. We've watched a short cartoon with no sound to try to get meaning without the benefit of hearing. We've taped our fingers together to simulate dexterity impairment and tried to write, color, and solve a maze. 

Most recently, we had a wonderful presentation from my goddaughter Kylinn about living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. We tried Kylinn's crutches, boot casts, splints, braces and other medical equipment to simulate mobility impairments. The boys really enjoyed her presentation and asked lots of great questions. 

It's been a joy watching Trevor and his friends show such compassion and caring for those who have different abilities than their own. Here is a craft they did to learn about reading without eyesight.


Simulated Braille Name Craft


  • white index card 
  • black cardstock
  • pen
  • hole punch
  • glue


Write your name on the lower half of the index card. Punch holes from the black paper. Save the holes. Look on a chart to see how each letter of your name is formed in braille. Glue the holes to form the letters.

When the glue is dry, you can run your finger over the card and feel the raised spots. Here are the Cub Scouts with their finished name tags.

The final activity for their Aware and Care elective is a field trip to learn about Guide Dogs for the Blind, from puppy raising through becoming a working guide. I can't wait! 


Is It Possible to Wrap a Gift in Money?

For the past few years, I've been experimenting with different ways to give money as a gift. For the most part, the money itself was the gift until a few months ago, when I used nine dollar bills as the 'ribbon' on a wrapped gift for a friend of Trevor's who was turning 9. It was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

When Trevor had another party to attend, this time for a friend turning 10, I decided to up the ante. Could we actually wrap the gift entirely using 10 dollar bills? Yes!


Money as Gift Wrap

Put ten crisp dollar bills upside down on a table, then use Scotch tape to connect them to form a single sheet. 

Put the gift upside down on the sheet of dollars, then gently tape a sheet of copy paper to cover the bottom of the gift. The gift Trevor had selected for his friend was round (why on earth didn't I push for a rectangular gift that would have made this much easier?!).

Starting with one corner of the dollar bill sheet, wrap it over the gift and tape it in place. Work clockwise around the edges, pleating the bills and taping them down. 

Once the bills were taped in place, this is what it looked like right side up.  

Add some green curling ribbon and the gift is ready!

It was a hit. There were a lot of questions about whether it was real money (yes), whether it could be used after the gift was unwrapped (yes), and how long it took (maybe 10 minutes at most). It easily took as long to untape all the bills after the gift was unwrapped as it had taken to wrap it! I volunteered to do the untaping while the birthday boy moved on to the rest of his presents. 

I'm really having a lot of fun with these money-related gifts!


40-4-Steve: Surprise!

I turned 44 on Saturday. We went to a museum in San Francisco that none of us had visited before (more on that later), Steve made amazing cheese fondue for dinner (bread and cheese are two of my favorite things ever) and we had Baskin-Robbins clown cones for dessert (I'm obsessed with Baskin-Robbins). It was a great birthday!

As you know, I've been working on annual birthday projects since 2012 when I turned 40. They've been awesome. This year, I'm using my 44th as an opportunity to share the experience with Steve, who turned 40 in January. I'm calling it "40-4-Steve" and you can read about it here. Time to start sharing what we've done so far!

Steve's 40th birthday fell on a Tuesday. Months ahead, I written "Something special!" on our shared calendar. I really wanted to throw him a surprise party, but it wouldn't be much of a surprise on his actual birthday. What if I held it a day early? Mondays are our Cub Scout nights. Steve would never suspect a Cub Scout event was actually a surprise party for him!

I made many covert emails and phone calls. (It is very hard to plan a surprise party for someone you're around 24/7). I set up a party at the Food Bank and invited the Cub Scouts, Steve's family, and our friends. I was so nervous. I just about had a heart attack 2 hours before the party when Steve announced that work was crazy and that I might need to just take Trevor to Cub Scouts on my own! Ack! Fortunately, Steve got his work done. What a relief! And to my delight, Steve was completely surprised and thrilled with his party.

I don't know if other county food banks offer birthday parties like ours does, but it's absolutely something to check out. The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano offers free birthday parties for kids and adults in their warehouses. You provide your own food and cake, and the Food Bank provides a meaningful service project for the guests to do. We bagged produce for distribution during Steve's party, which was a lot of fun. They also provide information about hunger in the area and how they help. I asked guests to bring a donation to the Food Bank in lieu of gifts for Steve. The whole evening was a win for everyone. Thanks to everyone who made it great.


Bunny Week, Day 5: Rabbit Finger Puppet

For the final day of Bunny Week 2016, Trevor made a rabbit finger puppet.

The inspiration from this project came from Crafting with Felt (affiliate link).

Crafting with Felt

The fine folks from LeisureArts gave me this book to review. I handed it to Trevor and asked him to mark the projects that interested him. When he returned it to me, there were post-it notes on almost every page! He explained that for some of the projects he wanted to follow the directions exactly, but for others he had his own ideas of how to change them. Awesome! 

For me, craft books like this are more about inspiration than exact steps and patterns, but I do appreciate when a book makes it easy for someone to follow along step-by-step. This book does exactly that. It has beautiful pictures and clear supply lists, as well as an excellent photo-based table of contents. The text is easy to understand. The projects are varied, with plenty that would appeal to both genders. While the book does not have a suggested age, I'd say that it is appropriate for ages 7 and up.

Trevor (age 9) was able to make his bunny version of the monster finger puppet independently. He read the supply list and directions from the book, looked at their patterns for monsters, and then made his own rabbit pattern. Here is his completed puppet sitting on the open book:


Rabbit Finger Puppet

Materials: grey and pink felt, scissors, glue, googly eyes, black pen

1. Draw a simple rabbit shape on a scrap of paper. Use it to cut out a rabbit from the grey felt. 

2. Cut a rectangle of felt that just smaller than the body of the rabbit. This is where your finger will go. Use a strong craft glue or hot glue to attach it on three sides, leaving room for your finger at the bottom.

3. Cut two thin rectangles of grey felt to go behind the ears. They provide stability so that the ears don't flop down. 

4. Turn the rabbit over so the front is facing up. Cut thin strips of pink felt and glue them onto the ears. Cut a tiny triangle of pink felt to make the nose.

5. Glue the googly eyes in place.

6. Draw a mouth and whiskers.


I hope you've enjoyed Bunny Week 2016! You can see all of my rabbit-themed projects, recipes and informational posts here