Folded Surprise Fish

Have you ever tried making a Folded Surprise animal? They're totally a thing and they're awesome. I think the fish is the original, but I've seen many clever interpretations. Basically, the folded artwork looks like a benign animal, but when you unfold the paper, there's a surprise inside. 

You can make these as large or small as you want, using whatever art materials you'd like to add color. I painted mine, which made it easy to blend some fun colors. Affiliate links below.


Folded Surprise Animal



Fold the paper in half to make a valley. Keeping the paper folded, fold each side down, making two mountains. 

Flatten the paper so that the two mountains touch. The valley portion will be hidden in the back. Draw an animal on the folded paper.

Open up the paper. Using the lines you've already drawn, create the hidden portion of the animal. (You can tell I took these pictures out of order, because I have the eyeball and gills in the photo above. I'd forgotten to take a picture of the folded fish.)

Now paint your artwork! I only used three colors. The orange comes from blending Daffodil Yellow and Fire Coral. I made the polka dots with the handle of a paintbrush. 

Don't fold your painted fish until it is completely dry.

Try making your own Folded Surprise Fish! Or challenge yourself to make another Folded Surprise animal. They're a lot of fun.


'I Love You' Carved Tree Card

Today, Steve and I celebrate our 15th anniversary. I would NEVER carve a love message in a tree, but this paper version is a fun way to tell Steve just how much I love him. This card works well for Valentine's Day, or even Mother's Day or Father's Day. Affiliate links below.

'I Love You' Carved Tree Card



Cut and fold the cardstock to make the base for your card. Cut the wood grain paper so that it is slightly smaller than the card base.

Punch a heart from scratch paper, then use the paper as a tracer to draw a heart on the back of the wood grain paper. Cut out the heart.

Position the wood grain paper on the card base, then write your message in the empty space.

Turn the wood grain paper over and apply foam tape to the back. This will give dimension and make it look like your message is carved into the tree. If you are concerned that the white tape will show, color the edges with the brown pen before you apply it.

Attach the wood grain paper to the base, being sure to position it so the message shows.


Happy anniversary, Steve! We've had so much fun together and I am excited to see what adventures the next 15 years have in store for us. 


Trouble is 8

The National Scrapbook Day birthday challenge at Scrapbook and Cards Today seemed easy enough, but I didn't have any birthday photos printed. At least, not of the humans! I'd printed a photo of Trouble napping in his farm box, legs sticking out, that was taken right around his 8th birthday. I decided to use that photo to tell the story of how we've added rugs and runners on the hardwood floor to make it easier for our sweet bunny to hop.

Trouble is 8 (affiliate link)

Fun fact about rabbits: they don't have pads on the bottom of their feet, as Trouble is so kindly demonstrating in the picture. Because of this, most rabbits struggle on smooth floors; some refuse to go on them at all. Not Trouble. He didn't really care about slippery paws on the hardwood floor when he was younger, but he struggles now as he's aging. The rugs help enormously. He can hop from one to the next and goes out of his way to avoid the slippery floor. All the rugs and runners make it much harder to sweep/vacuum, plus they are not exactly enhancing our interior decor, but I don't care. It's a small price to pay for the furry member of our family as he enters his golden years.   


Alfredo Linguini

At first, I was stumped by the Scrapbook and Cards Today Disney challenge for National Scrapbook Day. I didn't have any printed photos from Disney trips and no untold stories. And then I realized that Pixar counts as Disney, and that I still needed to scrap the pictures of Trevor's Ratatouille-inspired Halloween costume. Woo hoo!

Alfredo Linguini (affiliate link)

I went with black and white only so as not to overwhelm the nighttime photo. The gingham paper suggests the checked pants that chefs often wear. I'm really happy with the idea to dot the final i in the title with a chef's hat sticker. 

Here's the tutorial in case you'd like to make your own Linguini and Remy costume. It's one of the easiest costumes I've ever done. 

Trevor will be 13 soon, so I don't know what his plans are going to be for Halloween this year. I hope he still dresses up, regardless of whatever he decides to do. We always have so much fun designing and making his costume together. 


Trouble - Forever Family

I made this layout for the third timed National Scrapbook Day challenge at Scrapbook.com

Trouble - Forever Family (affiliate link)

The challenge was an "any way but" sketch, meaning that we had to follow this sketch, but couldn't use it as is. As you can see, I flipped it, used two photos instead of three, lowered the banners, and dropped the title onto the photo.

This was a really fun challenge. I enjoy using sketches to push myself creatively and I'm very happy with the completed layout. It's a rare page without any journaling, but I'm ok with that. In this case, it's all about the cute photos and not a particular story to tell.


Snail Name Art

I love name art. This time, I used my name to create the patterns on a snail's shell. 


Snail Name Art


  • construction paper - kraft, green, blue
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • brown marker
  • craft glue


Cut the kraft paper. You'll need a flattened oval for the shell, a rounded head, a pointed tail, and two antennae. Use the pencil to draw a swirl on the shell. 

Trace your swirl with the brown pen. Now fill in the spaces between the swirl by writing your name in capital letters. Each letter should stretch to fill the vertical distance. Keep repeating your name, without leaving spaces, until you reach the end. Write lightly; you might need to make adjustments. 

When you're happy with how it looks, trace over your name using the brown pen. Add eyes and a smile to the snail's face. Glue the parts of the snail together.

Glue a strip of green construction paper to the blue, then position the snail to cover the line where the grass meets the sky. 

Couldn't be easier! 


Trouble on the Landing

The first timed National Scrapbook Day challenge at Scrapbook.com was ridiculously easy. The second timed challenge made up for that! The goal was to include washi tape, embossing, and a stencil on a single layout... three things I almost never put on layouts. Fortunately, I have plenty of washi tape, a handful of stencils, and a stash of cardstock scraps that I embossed with a friend's machine years ago, specifically to have on hand for occasions like this.

Here's what I made:

Trouble on the Landing (affiliate link)

It's not something I would have made without the challenge, which is the very reason I do challenges. I'm happy with how it turned out. Really, you can't go wrong with a layout featuring a picture of the world's cutest rabbit lounging on the landing in his Superman pose. 


Prime Blogger Conference

I recently joined 24 other bloggers for the inaugural Prime Blogger Conference in Chicago, Illinois. It was fantastic and I'm so excited to tell you all about it! 

I flew into O'Hare on Wednesday, May 15. My wonderful friend, Betsy Burnett, went out of her way to drive me and Marie Segares to the host hotel, the Courtyard Marriott in Deerfield. (A word about the hotel: I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and was fully satisfied with the room, the cleanliness, and the amenities. However, checking in and out was a hassle. They insisted on creating separate accounts for my roommate and me rather than just letting us work it out between us, then managed to mangle the split that they had insisted on. I'm still dealing with the billing. Super annoying.) Anyway, when I got to the room, I found a nice surprise from my roommate.

Jessie Rayot is a crochet blogger who has christened me Honorary Crochet Blogger and welcomed me enthusiastically into the fold, even though I don't know how to crochet. Actually, Jessie taught me the basics using my new kit, so I actually do (sort of) know how to crochet now! Let's just say I need to practice a bit more before I can actually be anything other than Honorary. 

On Thursday, May 16, a shuttle picked us up at 7:30 am to go to Prime Publishing headquarters where the conference was held. We had a wonderful breakfast spread, sponsored by Tonic Studios

All of our classes took place in the conference room. That empty chair in the front is my spot. 

The opening keynote was by Addie Gundry. I recognized her from her appearances on Food Network Star and Cutthroat Kitchen. She is awesome. (And quite pregnant.) After her keynote, she did a Facebook Live, demonstrating oxidizing finishing kits. (Affiliate link here, and throughout the post.)

Our first session was "Content 101: How to Choose What Content to Create and Update." I'm confident in my more recent content, but this session was very valuable in deciding what to do with older content that needs updating. I put a lot of items on my to-do list during this session!

Lunch was at Portillo's. I highly recommend it. 


I was completely overwhelmed by the huge menu and confusing ordering windows, but once I got things figured out, I couldn't have been happier. The Chopped Salad was absolutely perfect. If I were local, I'd be eating this ALL THE TIME. 

We returned to Prime for our next session, "SEO Need to Know: An In-Depth Look at SEO Tools and Strategies." It was incredibly helpful. You should see my to-do list!

Each of our breaks was sponsored by a different company. Thursday afternoon's was sponsored by Leisure Arts, one of my favorite blog partners. 

Next, we had a hands-on workshop. We got together in small groups to work on specific issues we had. I worked with Ann Strecko Koeman and Betsy Burnett. We were the only three at the conference who use Blogger (most use Wordpress, but Squarespace and a few others were represented), so we were able to work together to figure out some Blogger-specific tweaks we each needed. 

This is my friend Janet Van Lone Trieschman pretending like she didn't notice my camera. 

There's Laura Kelly Walters! You may recognize her licensed art. It's adorable. 

The Prime staff worked their way around the room helping groups as needed. The very affordable conference fee would have been worth it simply for this one-on-one help. 

At 5:00, the shuttles took us back to the hotel. We each left with a swag bag stuffed full of goodies. Spot anything in there that interests you? (If you said no, I'm not sure why you read my blog, but thanks!)

Dinner was at Saranello's

The food was incredible. We started with antipasti and bread, both amazing. Then, chopped salad. My entree was eggplant parmesan and the table shared platters of gnocci with tomato vodka sauce. Dessert was apple crostada. Everything was SO good. Wine flowed generously throughout the evening... perhaps too generously, as my glass never dropped below 2/3 full, no matter how much I drank!  

We were up bright and early on Friday, May 17 to catch the shuttle to Prime. When we arrived, we found a delicious breakfast in the kitchen and painting supplies on our tables. 

The make-and-take was sponsored by DecoArt. We used stencils to paint designs on wood panels. This is Tamara Kelly from Moogly. (Tag line: Crochet. Knitting. World Domination.)

Here's mine, in progress. 

Our first seminar of the day was "Start Spreading the News: How to Get Eyes on Your Page." This was very valuable for me. I feel like my blog is chock-full of great content, but hardly anyone sees it. I'm going to be implementing some changes to see if I can do something about that. 

We went next door to the craft studio for a Facebook Live, where we learned how to use Therm O Web's fabulous foils and flocking.   

Then we got to play. 

Some people finished their projects quickly and started working on their blogs. Others went back to painting. From left: Shirley Mathistad (no blog yet, but hopefully coming soon!), Linda Dean, Michele Brosius, Beth Watson, and Ann Butler


Lunch was from Lou Malnati's. You may recall that I've had their deep-dish pizza before and I am a fan

So is Betsy.

After lunch, we had a link-building and newsletter workshop. After this valuable workshop, I have started the steps to debut my newsletter. (Coming soon!) The next session was "Get Paid: Additional Ways to Monetize and Promote Your Blog." Then, the closing keynote by Stuart Hochwert, President of Prime Publishing.   

Our closing party was sponsored by Oliso

And with that, PrimeCon officially ended. It went by in a flash. Fortunately, most of us weren't leaving until the next day, so the party continued. Literally! We stopped by Portillo's on the way back to the hotel to pick up three of their famous chocolate cakes. 

Good cake need not be justified, but in this case, we did actually have something specific to celebrate: Jessie's birthday! 

We stayed up late chatting, playing games, and hanging out. My fellow bloggers are really awesome people. 

If you're looking for some great blogs to read, here's a complete list of the attendees' blogs. Check them out! 

I flew home on Saturday, May 18 and was in bed by 7:00 pm. The trip was a whirlwind, in all the best ways. I learned so much, reconnected with old friends, and met new friends. I left with specific things I need to do to be a better blogger and I'm excited to put them in place. If you are a blogger, I highly recommend attending a future PrimeCon. You won't be disappointed! Thanks to everyone at Prime for all your hard work.