Monday, May 21, 2018

Our Garden, 2017: NSD Crafter's Choice Challenge

We plant a vegetables every year and I like to document what worked and what didn't. This layout shows our most successful crops of 2017, along with the fabulous new raised beds that Steve built (which contributed significantly to the success of the garden). 

Our Garden, 2017 (affiliate link)

The background is my last sheet of Crate Paper's Lemongrass collection. I layered three die-cuts together to make the embellishment that holds the title. Lemongrass is one of my all-time favorite collections, but considering it is about 10 years old, it's about time I used it up! 

I entered this layout in the National Scrapbook Day Crafter's Choice Challenge. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Caught Gooing: NSD Scrap and Stitch Challenge

Life with a house rabbit is never dull! One morning last December, I realized Trouble was no longer where I'd last seen him and it was suspiciously quiet. I found him sitting next to my temporary gift wrap station, gooing on the ribbon handles of a gift bag. He looked up at me with an innocent expression... and a ribbon hanging out of his mouth. Thank goodness I had my camera and captured the look on his face. 

Caught Gooing (affiliate link)

This photo was perfect for the NSD Scrap and Stitch Challenge. I used the paper piercer to poke holes in my photo mat and sewed grey floss through the holes. I left one end dangling loose to mimic the ribbon hanging from his mouth. I added a title and a few layers, including one to hold my journaling. I had a lot of fun with the challenge and am so happy to have this page in the album.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Cardboard Tube Honey Bee

What do Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin have in common? Here's a hint:

Each of them has named the honey bee as their state insect! (Well, technically, the honey bee is the State Agricultural Insect of Tennessee, which apparently loves insects so much that it has four different official state insects.) What these 12 states lack in originality, they certainly make up for in non-controversial decision-making. Just about everyone can agree that the honey bee is critical to agriculture and a good insect to have around. (Apparently, however, people cannot agree whether to spell it honeybee or honey bee. I am convinced by this argument and will henceforth include the space.)

Learn how to make your own honey bee using a cardboard tube!


Cardboard Tube Honey Bee


  • cardboard tube
  • scissors
  • acrylic paint
  • black cardstock
  • craft glue
  • vellum (affiliate link)


Cut the cardboard tube in half. You will only need one piece.

Shape the tube so that the bee has three distinct body parts... sort of like a snowman! (Disregard the penny- I thought I'd need it for counterbalance and didn't take a photo without it.)

Paint the bee with a base coat of yellow. Go over the head area with black. Blend some black with yellow and use it to paint the top of the thorax. Use the same mix to add stripes to the abdomen. 

Cut a stinger from cardstock and glue it in place. Cut a pair of wings from the vellum. Make a tiny fold at the narrow ends of each wing and glue just that part to the thorax. 

Cut eight small strips of black cardstock. Two are antennae and six are legs. Glue the antennae to the head and the legs in pairs along the thorax. The hind legs should be where the thorax and abdomen meet.

Finally, cut two large ovals for the honey bee's eyes. Glue them to the head. That's all there is to it!

If you live in one of the 12 states with the honey bee as your state insect, it's a no-brainer that this is the perfect project to do with the kids, whether they're your children, grandchildren, students, etc. But no matter where you are, kids will enjoy making a honey bee craft and learning more about this useful and fascinating insect.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Exploring Alabama Through Little Passports

The next state we visited virtually through Little Passports was Alabama. We learned so much about the Yellowhammer State, beginning with what a yellowhammer is! (It's a type of woodpecker, and is Alabama's state bird... although apparently its 'correct' name is northern flicker.) The first thing Trevor did was build the model. If you look closely, you can see a yellowhammer on the branch. 

We worked together on a challenging hidden picture puzzle about jubilees, the unexpected gathering of sea creatures close to the surface of the water along Alabama's Gulf Coast. I've never heard of this before and was eager to learn more. It turns out a jubilee happens when oxygen levels in the water are low. The animals swim close to the surface where oxygen levels are higher. Unfortunately for them, people fish them out with their bare hands! 

We learned that Alabama is famous for its humidity, with moist and hot summers, cool winters, and two tornado seasons (spring and winter). Trevor did an experiment to learn how the warm water along Alabama's Gulf Coast creates clouds. To try this experiment yourself, put warm water in a glass jar. Drop a lit match into the jar and immediately cover the top with the bag of ice. 

A cloud of water vapor will form. Remove the bag and the cloud rises out of the jar!

Next, we did an activity about Alabama's role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's. It was inspired by the Wall of Tolerance in the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, which sounds like a must-visit when we eventually make it to Alabama. Trevor and I brainstormed a big list of things he and I can do to make the world a better place and added our names to the Wall. 

We worked together on an activity about the Alabama natives, well-known for their pottery, river cane baskets, and wood carvings. Then we did a map activity about the Heart of Dixie. It was easy for Trevor, but my 46-year old eyes had some trouble distinguishing between very close colors in small print. Sigh. Getting older can be frustrating, but as they say, it beats the alternative. 

We solved logic puzzles about Space Camp at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. Then we used musical notes to reveal four genres of music important in Alabama's history. We looked at Alabama's timeline and read about famous events that happened in Alabama. Trevor solved a maze about Alabama's waterways. 

Finally, we did the cooking activity. 

We made Alabama cornbread in a cast iron skillet. It was tasty, but (hide your eyes, Southerners) we prefer our cornbread with sugar. And wheat flour. 

Trevor and I had a great time visiting Alabama through Little Passports and look forward to the day we'll explore the state in person!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

13th Anniversary: NSD Crafter's Choice Challenge

Each year, Steve and I celebrate our anniversary with a trip to a nearby city. Grandma babysits. We visit museums, walk along trails, stroll downtown, find some geocaches, eat really good food, and just enjoy each other's company. For our 13th anniversary (5/30/17), we explored Danville, CA. We had a wonderful time. 

13th Anniversary (affiliate link)

I chose 7 photos, cropped them into squares, and the layout practically made itself. Title in the top left using a journaling card and number stickers, then plenty of space for journaling in the bottom right. I entered this layout in the National Scrapbook Day Crafter's Choice Challenge at 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Easter 2018: NSD Holiday Challenge

Here's another layout from National Scrapbook Day. This was for a holiday challenge.

Easter 2018 (affiliate link)

If you peeled back the layers on this page, you might be surprised at what you'd find! The base paper, with the light blue and the festive banner, actually has a line of houses across the bottom. It's cute, but not for my Easter page. I covered the houses with white cardstock, put the strip of blue polka dot washi on it, then lined up the photos so they touched the washi. (If you look closely, you'll see the white cardstock peeking through between the photos. I'd intended to journal on the white strip at the bottom, but after I added the title and butterfly, the layout looked top-heavy. I added the mint paper and the teeny border strip (cut from the tear-strip). Once I added the journaling, I was much happier about the distribution of weight. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Fair Food: NSD 3-Hour Sketch Challenge

This layout is another National Scrapbook Day sketch challenge:

Fair Food (affiliate link)

This was a 3-hour challenge. Participants had to make a layout based on this sketch... 

... BUT not as is. I flipped the sketch, used one photo instead of two, added a bunch of journaling in the lower photo position, removed some layers, and changed the shape of the text box. I thought the papers worked well with the rainbow of colors in our self-serve shaved ices. By the way, we're obsessed with those and a bunch of other fair foods. Everything in moderation, right? Right.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Always Curious: NSD Color Challenge

This is one of my favorite layouts I made on National Scrapbook Day. It's clean and crisp, simple but not boring, has plenty of journaling, and puts the emphasis fully on the photo of the world's cutest rabbit. And most of the supplies I used are really old, which is always quite satisfying. I'm sure many of you recognize the BasicGrey letters. The background paper is 17 years old, made by a company that has apparently been gone so long that I don't remember at all. Does Sweetwater ring a bell to any of you?  

Always Curious (affiliate link)

For the challenge, I chose between three mood boards to use as inspiration. I selected this one:

It should be fairly obvious, but I was very inspired by the colors. I was also drawn to the strong horizontal lines in three of the photos. And, of course, the simplicity. I'm certain that I wouldn't have gone this direction without the influence of the mood board. That's what I love about challenges.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Exploring Missouri Through Little Passports

Our next virtual trip through Little Passports took us to another state neither Trevor nor I have visited: Missouri. We'll make it there sometime between now and June 2024, of course! In the meantime, it was a lot of fun learning about the Show-Me State through science, puzzles, art, and cooking.

Trevor started by building the model of the Gateway Arch. 

He figured out a number maze using math to learn that the Arch, which stands 630 feet tall, is made of steel and concrete. Then he solved a challenging dot-to-dot of the state insect, the honeybee. Trevor used the Morse code alphabet to decode a message about Missouri's state song, the Missouri Waltz. 

Next, Trevor did a science experiment to learn how natural caves are created by water. Did you know that Missouri has more than 6000 caves, the most of any state? I had no idea. To begin, Trevor moulded white clay around sugar cubes to form a rough, rocky cone shape. 

He put his cave in a tray and covered it with dirt. 

He simulated rain using a watering can. 

After 30 minutes, we returned to look at the cave. Just like water dissolves layers of sedimentary rock to form caves, water dissolved the sugar cubes and left a cave made of clay. Neat! (Unfortunately, the cave reminds me of a monkfish. Anyone else see it?)

While waiting for his cave, Trevor worked on a jigsaw-puzzle activity about the Missouri River, aka The Big Muddy. As he worked, we reminisced about the sightseeing cruise we did along the Missouri during our Nebraska trip last summer. That was a really good trip.

We competed against each other, as we often do, to see who could find the most tornado-related words in the Missouri Word Twister. I won, but barely! We read about famous events in Missouri history, then Trevor completed a fill-in and unscrambling activity to learn about Missouri's state tree. It is the eastern black walnut, but in Trevor's messy handwriting it looks like he wrote 'eastern blue walrus' which totally cracked us up. I'm constantly on him not to be lazy when it comes to writing neatly, so it was a nice change to laugh about his bad writing!

We did a challenging hidden picture puzzle that had us finding animal species that live in the Ozarks. Then we learned more about the physical features of Missouri. We read about Kansas City's many fountains and solved a Venn diagram puzzle to find out the name of the only city in the entire world with more fountains that Kansas City (spoiler: Rome, Italy). I never would have guessed that Kansas City would have so many fountains!

Finally, we did a cooking project inspired by Missouri. The recipe in the State Journal is for fairy floss, served at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. But we were more interested in another food that became famous after the 1904 World's Fair. Here's Trevor, adding vanilla to eggs, sugar, and salt. Can you guess what we made?

Did you say ice cream cones? If so, you're right! Well, sort of. It turns out that rolling searing hot wafer cookies into cones and pinching the ends is too difficult for both Trevor and me, so we pushed our hot cookies into muffin tins and made ice cream cone bowls instead. Much easier and much kinder on our fingers! And just as tasty.  

Trevor and I had a wonderful time together learning all about Missouri. Thanks, Little Passports!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Allison at Easter - NSD 5-Hour Sketch Challenge

Here's another sketch challenge from National Scrapbook Day. I used two photos of my niece, Allison, in her purple Easter dress.

Allison at Easter (affiliate link)

Here's the sketch that I followed:

In addition to following the sketch, we had to use at least two different patterned papers AND use buttons and brads. As you can see, I kept the major elements of the sketch and made little tweaks. I used three patterned papers, added a button center to the flower, and added brads to the horizontal border strips that anchor my title and journaling.

It's not my usual style, which is part of what I love about NSD. It's fun to jump outside my comfort zone and to see what I can create.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Chief Laundry Inspector - NSD Sketch Challenge and Punch Challenge

As always, I had a very fun and extremely productive National Scrapbook Day! I got up at 4:30 am to get a jump on the early East Coast challenges and kept going until around 8:30 pm, with a short break for dinner. I completed 16 layouts based on challenges from three different sites. I finished two more layouts that just need journaling. I'll be sharing the pages I made over the next few weeks, interspersed with other projects.  

This was the first layout I made. 

Chief Laundry Inspector (affiliate link)

The primary inspiration was the Scrapbook Boss Sketch Challenge at Victoria Marie's iNSD 2018 Online Crop. I'd been wanting to scrap this picture of Trouble gooing on our clean laundry for awhile, and this challenge was the perfect occasion. Here is the sketch:

As you can see, I stayed fairly true to the sketch with just a few minor changes. I really like this sketch. It's versatile and appeals to my clean and simple aesthetic.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Happy National Scrapbook Day!

Happy (Inter)National Scrapbook Day to all my papercrafting friends around the world! I hope you have a wonderful and productive day. I look forward to seeing your creations and hearing how you're celebrating!

I'm not exaggerating when I say NSD is my favorite day of the year. I'm celebrating at home, as always. Not only is it easiest to scrap at home, but it is the best way for me to check in and catch up with as many of my scrapbook friends as possible. When I was scrapbooking in the 90's, I didn't know anyone else who made scrapbooks. Photo albums, sure, but not scrapbooks. Finding online communities of people who share my love of paper products and memory keeping was huge for me. Years later, some of my closest friends are people I met online through forums and message boards and I am forever grateful.

Happy National Scrapbook Day!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Exploring Massachusetts Through Little Passports

Our family has spent exactly one day in Massachusetts, which is clearly not enough time to even get a taste of all that it has to offer. Fortunately, we were able to learn a lot more about the Bay State by taking a virtual trip through Little Passports. We started with a word search of Wampanoag words and their English translations. Then we played a game that was played by the Wampanoag at the time the pilgrims arrived in Plymouth. It's basically the same as this game that we've enjoyed before. 

Trevor was eager to do the science experiment, inspired by the many universities in the greater Boston area. In it, he learned how MIT alumni Herbert Kalmus and Daniel Frost Comstock developed Technicolor and changed motion pictures forever. To begin, Trevor cut out wedges of color from construction paper.

He glued them to a CD.

When the wheel spins, the colors blue to create new colors, much like Technicolor on rapidly-moving film strips. Neat!

Our next activity was a dot-to-dot inspired by Massachusetts sports teams- the Celtics, Revolution, Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins. Then we worked on a logic puzzle featuring Cape Cod and the surrounding islands. Cape Cod is a great place for seeing humpback, minke, and fin whales. After identifying each, we used the letters to name the top predator in the Atlantic Ocean, the great white shark.

We read all about famous events that happened in Massachusetts and looked at the state's timeline. Then Trevor solved a puzzle about the Tanglewood Music Festival. He matched 4 famous Massachusetts authors to passages they wrote to decode the name of a fifth author's pseudonym. He did a crossword puzzle and solved a maze, both inspired by spots along the Freedom Trail.

Our final activity was to make Boston Cream Pie, the state dessert of Massachusetts. Rather than making one large cake, we tweaked the recipe to make cupcakes instead. Here's Trevor making the custard filling...

... and the chocolate glaze.

He split each cupcake, then filled it with custard, and topped it with glaze. 

They were delicious! This recipe is a keeper. 

As always, Trevor and I had lots of fun learning together using Little Passports!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Cardboard Tube Firefly

Lately, I've become a little bit obsessed with state symbols. I know all of California's, having grown up here and then taught my 4th and 5th graders about them back in my teaching days, but it wasn't until Steve and I started making an effort to take Trevor to all 50 states that I started really caring about other states' symbols. For example, it was very important to me to eat Maryland's state dessert, Smith Island Cake, during our visit last fall. I'm glad I did. It was delicious. 

I noticed that a lot of states (including California) have a butterfly species as their state insect. But only one state, Pennsylvania, has named the firefly as its sole state insect. (Tennessee has named the firefly as one of four state insects.) I did a firefly craft way back when Trevor was in first grade and writing a report about fireflies. They are such interesting insects! I challenged myself to make a cardboard tube version of a firefly. 

I love how my firefly turned out! If I were an elementary school teacher in Pennsylvania or Tennessee, we would make these in the classroom as part of a study of state symbols. Then I would hang a string of blinking Christmas lights on a bulletin board or window, putting one firefly over each lightbulb. Wouldn't that be awesome?! If you know any elementary school teachers in Pennsylvania or Tennessee, tell them about my idea because I really think this should happen!


Cardboard Tube Firefly


  • cardboard tube
  • scissors
  • acrylic paint (black, red, yellow)
  • paintbrush
  • black cardstock or construction paper
  • craft glue


Cut the cardboard tube in half. You only need one half for each firefly. 

Paint the firefly, using an image for reference. It helps to do a base coat and let it dry completely before adding the other colors. I experimented with different base colors and it didn't make much of a difference. 

I also experimented with rounding off the tube before painting it vs. after. My suggestion is to do the base coat in red or yellow, use the scissors to round off the head, and then paint in the details. When it's dry, use the scissors to perfect the head shape and to add slight rounding to the wings. 

Turn the firefly upside down. Cut eight thin strips of construction paper or cardstock. Two are antennae and six are legs. Glue them in place - antennae on the head and pairs of legs on the in the half closest to the head. 

Now hang some blinking lights and position the fireflies above them. And then send me a photo because I totally want to see how that looks with a whole classroom's worth of fireflies on display! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Autumn Colors in Eastern Canada and New England

I've been completely overwhelmed by the prospect of scrapping our epic Canada and New England adventure from fall 2014. I'd already decided to divide the trip into two layouts (the train travel portion and the cruise portion), but I still had too many fabulous photos that I wanted to include. I pulled all of my favorite photos of the gorgeous fall color and put them together into this layout. 

Autumn Colors (affiliate link)

I've selected the photos for the rest of the trip and will be working on those two layouts soon. Stay tuned!