Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Torn Paper Footprint Horse

After completing all the fun activities in the Kentucky Little Passports state journal, Trevor and I were inspired to make a horse craft. Look carefully at the face. Can you tell how we got the shape?

It's a footprint! I love doing footprint crafts with Trevor. It's so much fun looking back on his older projects and comparing how tiny his feet were to how big they're getting now. 

We made our horses using the same technique we used to make pandas 5 years ago. (Trevor looks SO little in those photos!) To make your own footprint horse, you need cheap construction paper (the cheaper the better), a q-tip, twine, and glue. 

Use a pen to trace your footprint on brown construction paper, then go over the line you drew with a wet q-tip. If you have really poor quality construction paper, one time will do. If you have better quality construction paper, trace the line a second time. 

Give a gentle tug and the construction paper will separate along the wet line. 

Mine came out easily, but if yours gets stuck somewhere, just re-wet the area. 

Now cut two triangle ears and two oval eyelids from the brown. No need to draw them first - just draw the shape you want with the q-tip, then tear. Make a large oval on the remaining brown construction paper and tear it out. This will be the horse's neck. 

Use the same q-tip technique to make two round eyes from white construction paper. Then use black construction paper to make two pupils and two nostrils. 

Cut lengths of twine about 4" long, then untwist them to make the horse's mane. 

Now assemble the pieces. Glue the neck of the horse to a background paper, then add twine for the mane. Glue the eyes, eyelids, nostrils, and ears to the horse's head, add a forelock of twine between the years, then glue the assembled head onto the neck. 

This is my horse. That's Trevor's at the top of the post. 

Have fun making your own torn paper footprint horse!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Exploring Kentucky Through Little Passports

Our family will be spending five days in Kentucky in August and we can't wait! We'll be splitting our time between Frankfort and Louisville. Each has so many fun things to do that I'm really struggling to narrow down where we'll go. I was happy to see that the Kentucky Little Passports was the next on our list to complete, as each State Journal we've done has given me lots of places to put on our must-visit list. 

The model was of Fort Knox and there was a crossword puzzle about it, too. We won't be going there during our trip. Unfortunately, the Patton Museum at Ft. Knox is currently closed for renovations and obviously they don't let the public tour the Ft. Knox Bullion Depository. I can't imagine what security would be like if they did!

Somewhere we will be going? Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, pictured on the front cover of the State Journal. Trevor solved a logic puzzle to learn the name of the fireworks show that kicks off the Kentucky Derby each year. The next activity, also inspired by racehorses, was making a thaumatrope device that tricks the eye into seeing two separate images as one. 

I had no idea that the red, yellow, and green traffic signals that we see at intersections have their origins in Kentucky. They were invented by Garrett Morgan and operated by a hand crank. After solving a map puzzle, we learned that Morgan also invented a breathing device that was used to save the lives of men trapped underground while building a tunnel!

Thomas Edison displayed nearly 5000 of his recently-invented incandescent light bulbs in Louisville during the Southern Exposition from 1883-1887. With Steve's help, Trevor followed the directions to put together a model of an incandescent light bulb. It's handy when Dad has all the equipment you need for an experiment and the knowledge to help extend the learning. 

It works! That's a mechanical pencil lead burning in there. 

Trevor's light bulb burned brightly for about 10 seconds. Fun fact: My hometown of Livermore, California is home of the world's longest burning light bulb. It's been glowing for 117 years. 

Trevor solved a maze about Daniel Boone's Wilderness Road, completed a story about Abraham Lincoln's childhood home, and read about the famous events in Kentucky history. We learned that Kentucky's state slogan is "United We Stand, Divided We Fall," that the happy birthday song was written by two sisters from Louisville, and that Joe Bowen set the world record for the longest distance traveled on stilts when he walked over 3000 miles from Los Angeles to his hometown of Bowen, Kentucky. 

Not surprisingly, the recipe in the Kentucky State Journal was for fried chicken. Here's Trevor creating the breading for our chicken by measuring the ingredients directly into a paper bag. He'd never seen anything breaded like this!

We had a great time exploring Kentucky through Little Passports. If anything, we're even more excited for our real-life adventures next month in the Bluegrass State! Thanks, Little Passports!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Between the Folds

Our family just watched an amazing documentary about origami called 'Between the Folds.' It came out in 2009, so it's possible some of you have already seen it, but in case any of you have not, I just had to tell you about it. 

"Origami: It's no longer just paper cranes. A determined group of theoretical scientists and fine artists have abandoned conventional careers to forge unlikely new lives as modern paper folders. These intrepid individuals are interpreting the world in paper, creating a wild mix of sensibilities that redefine art, science and creativity."
This fascinating documentary looks at ten people, scientists and artists, who are exploring origami in new ways. The ten are as different as could be and their origami reflects their unique perspectives, interests, and talents. Any one of them is interesting enough for a stand-alone documentary, but together they show the breadth of what paper folding has been, is, and might become. Some of the origami they create is stunningly beautiful. Others are shockingly time-consuming and more precise than you'd expect a human could do. Some are practical, like the scientist who explained the role origami has in figuring out the best way to pack an airbag so that it is compact and unfolds in the most efficient way. Every story was so interesting.

I honestly can't imagine anyone not enjoying this documentary. Even children, particularly those who have tried origami, will like it. The theoretical concepts will go over their heads, but heck, they went over mine too, and I still loved it.

Today is Amazon Prime Day, which makes it the perfect time to order Between the Folds. (These links, and the others in this paragraph are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small commission.) This riveting show is free with a Prime membership. If you're not a Prime member, you can rent or buy Between the Folds quite inexpensively. Or, try a 30-day free trial and see if Prime is right for you.

If you do watch Between the Folds, let me know what you think. And if you have any recommendations for must-see documentaries, I'll happily take them!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Nutter Butter People

In addition to being a delicious cookie, Nutter Butters are fabulous for crafting. Over at Fun Family Crafts, we have around 20 adorable (and delicious!) Nutter Butter craft ideas, ranging from an alligator to acorns, from Frankenstein to football players. My favorite are the Nutter Butter cleats. And, of course, the bunnies. So cute.

I'd never crafted with Nutter Butters, so it was time to buy a package and give it a try. I challenged myself to see what I could make from Nutter Butters, candy eyeballs, Tootsie Rolls, sprinkles, and any other candy we had on hand. And because I love to stretch creatively, I upped the ante and decided I needed to craft human characters, then give them names and a backstory. 



Nora is 26. She works as a veterinary assistant, which she finds very fulfilling. She's headed out on a quick jog through the park near her house before she heads to work. She enjoys this morning routine. It helps set the right tone for her day.

All the characters I made, including Nora, have a Nutter Butter face and candy eyeballs. Nora's hair is made from a Tootsie Roll. Use a sharp knife to cut the Tootsie Roll into planks, then into strips, just like you'd julienne a carrot. Stick them together and shape. Her ponytail holder and her nose are both sprinkles. Her mouth is half of an M&M. (They cut nicely if you use a sharp knife.)



Wade's passion is surfing, and yes, he's heard all the jokes about 'wading.' He doesn't mind though, and will chuckle whenever someone thinks they're the first to point it out. His personality is easygoing, but he works hard and he plays hard. He's headed to college soon, where he'll be studying journalism. 

Wade's hair is Nora's ponytail, repurposed. They share a nose as well. Wade's mouth is a piece of cherry Starburst that I cut, rolled, and curved.



Brent is a 6th grade history teacher. He wears a mustache because otherwise he looks like a middle schooler himself, even though he's 31. He really enjoys his job and hopes to stay at the same school until he retires. No two days are ever the same as a teacher, which keeps him on his toes.

Brent's hair and mustache are made from a lemon Tootsie Roll. His nose is a sprinkle and his mouth is from the same cherry Starburst.



Geoffrey is a worrier. Always has been, always will be. He's 54 and works repairing photocopiers. Photocopiers always break down, so work is steady, but Geoffrey still manages to worry that soon technology will make him obsolete. 

Geoffrey's eyebrows are made from Brent's mustache. His nose is a flat sprinkle (do the types of sprinkles have names?), and his mouth is a chocolate covered sunflower seed.


Arthur (aka Sparky the Clown)

His given name is Arthur, but only his mom has ever called him that. Everyone else called him Artie until a kid in middle school misheard and thought his name was Sparky. The nickname stuck. Sparky works as a clown at festivals, carnivals, and birthday parties. 

Sparky's eyebrows are the same as Geoffrey's, whose mouth became Sparky's nose. His hair is Brent's, cut down. His mouth is cut from a cherry Starburst and there are star-shaped sprinkles above his eyes.



Donovan is a quiet kid, content to stay in his room for hours practicing guitar or writing songs. Sometimes he feels invisible, like there's nothing about him that makes him stand out in a crowd. But that will change. He's a really talented musician and it's only a matter of time before the world notices him. 

Donovan's hair is cut down from Wade's hair. His nose is Sparky's, turned 90 degrees. His mouth is a small piece of Tootsie Roll. 



Lorraine did her hair and put on her favorite earrings before heading to the passport office. She's traveling for her new job soon, which will be her first time out of the country. She touched up her lipstick just before it was time to get her photo taken - why wouldn't they let her smile when they took her photo?

Lorraine's hair is Donovan's and Nora's rearranged, held in place by Sparky's smile. Her nose is a sprinkle and her earrings are chocolate covered sunflower seeds. Her mouth is Nora's, turned cut side down. 


I had a blast creating these characters and dreaming up their backstories. Grab the kids and give it a try!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Yarn Flower Cards

No matter what craft(s) you do, you probably generate a fair amount of scraps. The eternal debate is what to do with scraps. How small is too small to save? How do you store them? How long do you keep them? And, of course, how will you use them?

My favorite way to use scraps is to make a card.


Yarn Flower Card


  • cardstock, construction paper, or patterned paper (blue, brown)
  • card base
  • scissors
  • yarn (white, yellow, green)
  • craft glue


Cut the blue paper to fit on the card base. 

Spread glue on the paper where you would like the flowers. Starting from the center, coil the yarn into the glue, pressing firmly. You can switch colors like I did, or use a single color. I chose to overlap my flowers for extra dimension. To do this, do the flowers in the background first, then add glue over the portion of those flowers you want covered and make the final flower.

Make the flower stems one of two ways. Either tie a bow in the center of a single piece of green yarn (left) or tie a bow around a separate piece of green yarn (right). I like the right option because you can slide the 'leaves' to the height you want, plus I think the tails of the bows look cute. 

Put a line of glue below each flower and press the stem in place. Trim any extra length. 

Tear a piece of brown paper and glue it at the bottom of the card over the stems of the flowers. Trim the edges flush with the blue paper.

Glue the blue paper to a card base and it's ready to send.

It's easy to adapt this project for a completely different look. Change the colors, reduce or increase the number of flowers, make a horizontal card instead of a vertical one... the possibilities are endless!

Shop Your Fav Brands at

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


I went through so many emotions as I scrapped the photos of our time in Baltimore last October, remembering how scared I was as the Atlas Fire burned so close to our home. I see us smiling in the photos, genuinely having a great time in a fantastic city. But I can still feel the fear and the sense of helplessness about being 3000 miles away as the fires moved closer to home. I also recall the gratitude and love for friends and neighbors who offered to help us however they could. I remember how grateful I was for the strangers in Baltimore who were so compassionate when they learned that neighborhoods near ours were evacuating. There's a lot more to this page than meets the eye. I included a bit of this in the journaling, but focused primarily on the positive memories from Charm City. 


I'm very happy to have this page in the album. One more layout to go to meet my self-imposed deadline of completing the trip before our upcoming 6-state adventure!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


Back in June I gave myself six weeks to finish scrapping about our 4-state adventure last October. That meant completing pages about our time in Maryland and Pennsylvania. I decided to do two one-page layouts for Maryland (one for Annapolis and one for Baltimore) and a single two-page spread for Pennsylvania. My self-imposed deadline is fast approaching. So far, Annapolis is in the album.

Annapolis (affiliate link)

We spent only 24 hours in Annapolis, but we packed in a lot! I picked seven photos that represent some of the different things we did. I'm not in any of them. I usually try to make sure each person is shown at least once, but in this case it was more important to me to show the diversity of what we did than to make sure I chose a photo that had me in it. I used first person in my journaling, so that's good enough for me to be represented!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Exploring New York Through Little Passports

Technically, Trevor has been to New York. Our epic New England trip in 2014 ended in New York City, but we didn't do anything there except drive through it on the way to the airport to fly home. Fortunately, Trevor will have a proper visit to New York next spring when he takes a trip there with his school. In the meantime, Trevor and I had a lot of fun taking a virtual trip together through Little Passports! 

After building the model (a taxicab), we worked on an activity about transportation in New York. Next was a puzzle based on a famous bridge in New York. Then he solved a dot-to-dot to learn about the state animal. It's a beaver! Expect to see quite a few beaver-themed crafts from me in the upcoming months, for reasons I will explain later. 

Next, we made an origami boat. This was inspired by the boats at Niagara Falls that get you close enough to the fastest waterfalls in the world so that you can feel the "mist" on your face. We did this during our trip, but from the Canada side instead of the US side. If you've taken this boat ride, you understand why I put "mist" in quotation marks. You can read about Trevor's interpretation of the "mist" here

We read about Central Park and the many plants and animals that call it home. Then we searched for hidden letters in an illustration of Syracuse University's library. Next, science! There were three simple experiments based on static electricity. They were inspired by Joseph Henry (scientist, inventor, and first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution), who was born in Albany, NY and contributed greatly to the development of modern electricity. 

Next, we read about famous events in New York. Trevor was very interested in the 1902 entry depicting New York's first skyscraper, the Flatiron Building. He didn't agree that it is shaped like an iron (no matter how much I explained it to him), arguing that irons are never taller than they are wide. My literal child!

Finally, we made New York Pizza. Yum!

Trevor chose to leave half just cheese, and put yellow tomatoes and basil from our garden on the other half. It was fantastic. In fact, our family of three *might* have polished off the entire thing in mere minutes!

Trevor and I had a great time exploring New York through Little Passports and I am so excited for him to get to actually visit next spring. He's going to love it! I've been to New York five times and I've loved it more each time I've been. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Webelos 2 - The Last Cub Scout Layout

Trevor's time in Cub Scouts ended in March 2017 and I've scrapped quite a few of the adventures he's had since then as a Boy Scout (like Crab Camp!). I finally went back and finished up the final layout from Cub Scouts. It's hard to summarize an entire year in a page, but I think these photos and the journaling hit the highlights. 

Webelos 2 (affiliate link)

Trevor had a wonderful experience in Cub Scouts and so did we. While we miss the friends we had in Cub Scouts, I'm so glad for the new friends and continued adventures we're having in Boy Scouts. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018


Steve has many fond memories of the time he spent working as a lifeguard at Camp Pahatsi. The camp is closed now, but it was important to him to introduce us to this area that held so much meaning for him. We stopped there to do some hiking and explore the property. It truly is a special place. 

Pahatsi (affiliate link)

I would love to revisit the camps that were a big part of my childhood, particularly Las Posadas where I was a camp counselor for years. Hopefully someday. For now, I'm glad to have been able to document Pahatsi for Steve. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Texas Bluebonnet Card

I can't name most state flowers off the top of my head (and if you can, I'm really impressed), but I do know that the state flower of Texas is the bluebonnet. As it turns out, there are actually five types of bluebonnets and as of 1971 all of them are the state flower! Trevor and I worked together to design a simple card inspired by Texas' state flower(s).


Bluebonnet Card


  • blue cardstock
  • paper trimmer
  • watercolor paper
  • paint (blue, green, purple, white)
  • foam brush
  • glue


Cut the blue cardstock to make card bases. We made ours A2, which means the finished card is 4.25" x 5.5" but you can make your cards whatever size you want. Remember to make the base twice as big as the finished card in one direction (either length or width, depending on whether you want the fold on the top or the side). Fold the bases and set them aside.

Cut the watercolor paper into pieces that are slightly smaller than the card bases in both directions. These will be the card fronts. We cut ours to 4" x 5.25", which gave us an eighth of an inch mat on all sides. Moisten the watercolor paper with the foam brush, then add streaks of blue and brush until you have sky blue backgrounds you like. Wash the brush and let the backgrounds dry completely. 

Use the foam brush to make a green stem.

Press the corner of the brush to the paper near the stem, then lift. Rotate the paper and repeat four times to get a five-sided leaf. Add two more leaves. 

Make green lines to connect the stem to the leaves. Dip the handle of the brush in blue paint, then use it to stamp circles on either side of the stem above the leaves.

Dip the side of the handle in white paint and press it to each blue circle to complete the individual flowers. 

When the paint is dry, glue the card front to the base.

Add your messages inside and your cards are ready to send! For extra fun, tuck a packet of bluebonnet seeds in the cards for your recipients to plant. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Exploring Texas Through Little Passports

Our next Little Passports adventure took Trevor and me on a virtual trip to Texas. We learned so much about the Lone Star State! Trevor started by building a model of the Alamo. 

We completed a challenging cattle counting activity to learn a fun fact about Texas. Then we followed the directions to draw a longhorn steer. That's mine on the top (looking a little slender) and Trevor's below. 

And speaking of Longhorns, next Trevor solved a maze inspired by the Texas Longhorns football team. Twelve years old and Trevor still LOVES mazes

We were delighted to see an activity based on the the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, the site of largest urban colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in the United States. We have many fond memories of watching our local bat flyout last summer. I'd love to see the bats' flight in Austin. Someday! I can only imagine what seeing over a million bats must be like. I know that 250,000 was pretty spectacular!

We did an activity about the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, then did a hidden picture activity based on the Fort Worth Rodeo. We did a word search featuring some fun place names in Texas. Did you know that Noodle, Tarzan, Egypt, and Bigfoot are all cities in Texas? I didn't!

Trevor and I read about famous events in Texas history. Then we did an activity together featuring memorable events from our family's history. Finally, we did the cooking project - Pan de Campo. This 'camp bread' is similar to a biscuit and was absolutely delicious served with Taco Soup!

Trevor and I had great fun exploring the Lone Star State through Little Passports. Tomorrow I'll show you the craft we did based on Texas' state flower. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Christmas 2015

I pulled out the Christmas supplies and scrapped the photos from 2015. It feels really good to fill those spots in the album. Here's Christmas morning with my family:

Christmas 2015 (affiliate link)

And here's Christmas dinner with Steve's family:
Christmas 2015 (affiliate link)

They're from the same day and will sit next to each other in the album, but I intentionally used different supplies and different shades of reds and greens to distinguish between the two. I'm particularly happy with the mitten embellishment I made on the second layout. Mostly, I'm really glad the photos are finally in the album.