8/12/20

Construction Paper Anchor

Today's craft, a construction paper anchor, is inspired by Rhode Island. Despite the fact that 30 of the 50 states have a coastline, Rhode Island is the only state whose flag features an anchor. (Slightly random, but read here to learn why it is impossible to measure the length of a coastline. It's fascinating.)

Anyway, the flag of Rhode Island is white with a gold anchor and the word HOPE on a blue ribbon. It was adopted in 1877 and based on the state seal. The seal was first adopted in 1664 for the colony, a good 120+ years before Rhode Island became a state. It is believed that the word HOPE was taken as the colony-then-state motto from Hebrews 6:19 - "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." Affiliate links below.




Construction Paper Anchor



Materials:


Steps:


Turn a piece of grey construction paper vertically. Use a ruler and a pencil to draw a cross, leaving a 2" gap at the top and extending all the way to the bottom. Approximately 1/2" from the bottom, draw a smile that intersects the cross. 


Use the ruler to draw lines 1/2" to the left, right, top, and bottom of the cross. Mark spots 1/2" above the smile, then connect them into a curve. Draw arrow points at the ends of the smile. Round off the ends of the anchor's cross piece, then add a point to the bottom. Round off the top of the anchor, then add an oval in the rounded portion. 


Use microtip scissors to cut out the anchor, saving the scraps. Cut the scraps into strips approximately 1/2" x 4". Make a chain by inserting one strip through the hole at the top of the anchor, then gluing the ends together. Insert a new strip through that hole and glue it together. Continue until the chain reaches the desired length. 

 

In addition to a study of Rhode Island, this would be a fun project for a pirate-themed party, to say bon voyage, or to count down to a cruise! 


8/11/20

Happy #Quaranteen Birthday

Celebrating anything under quarantine is far from ideal, but we made the best of it for Trevor's 14th birthday with a 'when life gives you lemons... share them with friends' theme. This is the layout I made from his special day.

Happy #Quaranteen Birthday (affiliate link)

I'm so thankful for friends who helped make his day special (from a distance). 

8/10/20

Watermelon Felt Coaster and a Special Christmas Treat

Today I'm sharing Felt Fruit Coaster #6, Watermelon. (Here are the tutorials for the lemon, lime, orange, apple, and kiwi coasters.) Affiliate links below. Along with the watermelon coaster, I'm sharing a very special watermelon Christmas treat. 


Watermelon, for Christmas? Yep! When I was a kid, my grandparents had a huge garden (bigger than whatever you're imagining) at their home near Seattle, Washington. My grandma would preserve 90% of what they grew to enjoy during the winter, including melons. She'd use a melon baller to make perfect spheres and pop them into the freezer. On Christmas, she would fill the crystal glasses with melon balls, then pour ginger ale over the top. It was such a treat having melon in the winter and the only time I can ever remember having soda of any kind at my grandparents' house. Everything about this treat was special. 

Steve and Trevor never had Grandma's melon balls with ginger ale (she died 6 weeks before my wedding), so when I stitched the watermelon coaster, I knew that Grandma's special treat would be perfect to share along with the tutorial. Sure enough, it transported me right back to my childhood Christmases in Washington. 

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Watermelon Felt Coaster



Materials:



Steps: 


Cut out a circle of green felt, approximately 4" in diameter. Cut out a circle of white felt that is slightly smaller than the green circle. Cut a pink circle that is slightly smaller than the white circle. Set the white and green circles aside.  

Use all six strands of black embroidery floss to sew seeds onto the pink circle. Each seed is made with three satin stitches, with the center one the longest. Vary the size and orientation of the seeds. 

When you've competed the seeds, use pink thread to sew the pink felt to the white felt. Then use white thread to sew the white felt to the green felt. 

8/7/20

The Ten Most-Visited States in the US

I covered the ten least-visited states in the US, so I wanted to take a look at the most-visited states. I thought finding data about the most-visited states would be easy, but it turns out that it is not so straightforward. A quick Google search reveals dozens of lists of the most-visited states that are completely different from one another. Huh? This baffled me at first.

After a closer look, I discovered subtle differences between the lists: some record international travelers only, some differentiate between lengths of stays (e.g., a single trip that lasts 5 nights 'counts' as five visits instead of one), some don't count visitors from within that own state, and some rank the states by amount of money spent vs. number of travelers spending that money. I even found one list that ranked the most-visited states based on surveys asking people where they like to vacation! It is clear that some tourism-based companies are motivated to get their state onto a most-visited list by tinkering with the data until it says what they want it to say. Obviously, there's no motivation to appear on a least-visited list, so finding accurate data is much easier.

In the end, I went with this list by the World Atlas. Before reading on, care to guess which states made the Top Ten?




10. Hawaii


We love Hawaii! I'm not surprised it made the Top Ten, despite being so far from most of the US (although we're actually closer to Hawaii than we are to New England). We've traveled to Hawaii twice since Trevor was born and loved every minute. You can find all my recommendations listed by island here


9. Georgia


We haven't traveled to Georgia yet, but we can't wait to visit! Besides the Capitol, there are at least a dozen must-see places in Atlanta (MLK Jr. National Historic Park, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Carter Presidential Library, World of Coca-Cola, Atlanta Botanical GardenPonce City Market, and so much more). 


8. Arizona


There is so much to do and see in Arizona! I've loved all of my visits there. You can read all about my favorite places to go in the Phoenix area


7. South Carolina


I wouldn't have expected South Carolina to appear so high on the most-visited list, but that's probably because I've never been there and don't know everything it has to offer! I can't wait to visit and check it all out. 


6. Virginia


Virginia has the distinction of being the only state that all three deRosiers have visited, but never with each other! I hope to fix that with a family trip someday. In the meantime, you can read my recommendations from my own travels in Virginia


5. New York


I expected New York to rank higher than #5 on the most-visited list. There is so much to see and do! I haven't spent time outside of New York City, so even though I love it there, I'm hoping to tour the rest of the state someday.  


4. Texas


We absolutely loved our Austin trip in 2018! But it's a huge state. There's a whole lot more of Texas that we need to explore in the future. 


3. Nevada


I'm sure that Las Vegas is the primary reason that Nevada ranks #3, although Lake Tahoe and Reno certainly draw people as well. If you're looking for somewhere else in Nevada to visit, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the state capital, Carson City.  


2. Florida


Disney World is the most-visited theme park in the world, so it's not surprising that Florida would rank so high. There's so much else to see in Florida, including fabulous beach towns along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. I've never been to the Panhandle though, and hope to make it someday. 


1. California


Did you guess that California is #1? I knew it! The Golden State has it all, no matter what you want to see. I love it here and am not surprised that people from all around the world flock to see everything that California has to offer. 

8/6/20

Faux Food Crafts

I've added a new category to my Fun with Food page. It's all the crafts I've made that look like food but aren't.


Head over to the Faux Food Crafts page and tell me what food is missing that I should make. I have a bunch of sketches and ideas, but I'd love your input. Thanks!

8/5/20

Pandemic Scouting

COVID-19 has had an effect on pretty much every aspect of our lives, including Scouting. Trevor's troop hasn't met in person since early March and it doesn't look like we'll be getting together anytime soon. The Scouts now meet weekly via Zoom, and their monthly campouts have turned into 'camp-ins.' I made this layout to document what Pandemic Scouting looks like in the deRosier house: 

Pandemic Scouting (affiliate link)

Steve bought a new family tent online recently, so we set it up for the first time in the backyard for Trevor's first camp-in. It is laughably huge. Our family of three could do aerobics in that tent with plenty of space for others to join us. That's it in the top two photos. The other two photos show Trevor in a Scout Zoom meeting and us roasting marshmallows over our gas stove. We're doing our best to make sure Trevor continues to have a great experience in Scouting. 

You might not have noticed my absolute favorite part of the layout. If you look carefully, you can see that I dotted the i in Scouting with a tiny little campfire sticker. It makes me smile. 

8/4/20

Tissue Paper Stained Glass

I put my huge stash of crumpled tissue paper I've rescued from gifts to good use and made faux stained glass. You can't even tell that the tissue paper wasn't pristine! This is how it looks flat on the table...


... and this is how it looks in the window with the evening sun shining through. Affiliate links below. 



Tissue Paper Stained Glass



Materials:



Steps: 


Cut a piece of clear contact paper that is twice the size of a piece of black construction paper. Set it aside. 

Use the trimmer to cut out the center of the black construction paper, leaving a frame. Cut the center portion into strips. 

Peel the lining off half of the contact paper and place the construction paper frame on the sticky side. 


Arrange the black strips on the frame, pressing down to secure them in position. 


Trim off the overhanging black strips. Then cut pieces of tissue paper to fit into each of the empty spaces. I found that the easiest way was to cut a piece that was slightly too large, smooth it onto the contact paper, then use the scissors to cut away any excess. 


Continue until you've filled all the spaces. Remove the liner from the other half of the contact paper and fold it over. Smooth everything, then trim off any excess contact paper. Hang your artwork in the window and enjoy!

8/3/20

Iowa's American Gothic House

With this watercolored house drawing inspired by Iowa, I only have six states remaining to meet my goal of at least two crafts per state. Do you recognize this house? Have any clue why it represents Iowa?


Here's a hint: 
  • Grant Wood, who was born in Anamosa, Iowa in 1891 and died in Iowa City, Iowa in 1942, made this house famous. 

Now do you recognize it? Maybe another hint: 
  • Wood painted two people standing in front of that house. He used his dentist and his sister as models. Do they seem familiar?


In case you didn't guess, this is the house that appears in the background of Wood's famous American Gothic painting, first exhibited in 1930. The house still stands in Eldon, Iowa and offers tours and a free visitor center.


I thought it would be neat to make a painting of just the house, without Wood's iconic farm couple. I chose this photo as a reference, then used a ballpoint pen and a ruler to draw the house on watercolor paper. 


If you are saying, "I could never draw that!" I assure you that you are wrong. You CAN draw it, but it takes a lot of patience. I did most of the basic shape in pencil, then I switched over to ballpoint pen because I wasn't being patient. I should have done it all in pencil first, then traced. If you look carefully, you'll see that I made mistakes in pen that I could have fixed if I'd been using a pencil. For example, the front porch roof has the trim of the upper story of the house going through it. The roof line on the right is not quite parallel to the other side of the roof, so I added an extra line. There are other mistakes, too. 

The key to success is to draw what you see. Do not draw what you think a house looks like. Do not draw what you think you see. Look at the drawing and choose a single line. Place your ruler on the paper and draw a line that matches the line you see. Repeat this a hundred times and you'll have the house. Start with the basic shapes and finish with the details. The trickiest part for me was dealing with the roof line of the porch. The lines don't go where my head thinks they should, so I had to force myself to draw what I saw and not what I wanted or expected to see. 

Once I finished the pen drawing, I grabbed my Koi watercolor set (affiliate link). 


I love how portable this kit is. I painted right at my computer (with my drawing on a clipboard) so that I could match all the shadows in the inspiration photo. Again, paint what you actually see, not what you expect to see. It felt weird having the shadows cover only parts of the front of the house, but it ends up looking right if you copy what is there. 


Overall, I'm happy with how my painting turned out. It was a fun challenge and I learned a lot about Grant Wood and his paintings along the way.  

7/31/20

Family Zoom

Neither Trevor nor I had used Zoom before the pandemic hit (Steve had used it for work) and now it's pretty much a daily thing around here. When school went virtual, Trevor's teachers taught via Zoom. Weekly Scout meetings and monthly 'camp-ins' are on Zoom. Our church fellowship hour is on Zoom, immediately after the service (which is live on YouTube). Meetings for work and the various committees we're on take place via Zoom. We use Zoom to keep in touch and play games with friends and family. 

When our extended families did calls via Zoom, we took screenshots. I used those to make this layout. 

Family Zoom (affiliate link)

The top photo is my extended family, calling in from their homes in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, plus us in California. The bottom photo is Steve's extended family, chatting from Texas, South Dakota, and Washington DC, in addition to California. Thank goodness for technology. I can't imagine going through this pandemic without seeing the faces of friends and family. It's not the same as seeing them in person, but it's the next best thing. 

7/30/20

Kiwi Felt Coaster

I love kiwis. So does Trevor. Steve doesn't like them, which is weird because they are totally delicious. But him not eating them means more for Trevor and me, so I can't complain. We used to get our kiwis from a kiwi farm three miles from our house, but they closed up operations a few years back. As far as I know, no one else local is growing kiwis commercially, which is a shame since they grow well here. It's also a shame because they are ridiculously expensive at the grocery store compared to what they cost directly from the farmer. 

We're not in kiwi season right now (late October through December in Northern California) so I don't have a recipe to share with my latest fruit coaster, which is (obviously) a kiwi. Affiliate links below. 



Kiwi Felt Coaster



Materials:



Steps: 


Cut out a circle of brown felt, approximately 4" in diameter. Cut out a circle of light green felt that is slightly smaller than the brown circle. Cut an irregular oval from cream felt for the center of the kiwi. 

Use cream thread to sew the cream center to the green felt. Divide the embroidery floss into three strands, then make two circles of small stitches pointing in toward the center. Don't aim for perfection; in a real kiwi, the seeds are irregular. When you've competed the seeds, use green thread to sew the green felt to the brown felt. 

7/29/20

The Ten Least-Visited States in the US

Obviously, now is not the time to travel, but there's nothing wrong with using the time at home to think about future travel. As you know, our plan is to take Trevor to all fifty states before he's 18. We'd expected to knock a few more states off the to-visit list in 2020, but life is nothing if not unpredictable. Once it's completely safe to travel, we'll have to adjust our plans to visit all of the remaining 16 states.

I came across this interesting article that lists the least-visited states in the US. It actually includes the 20 least visited, but I'm going to focus on the top (bottom?) ten. Before I proceed, can you guess what state is #1?



10. Oklahoma


We haven't visited Oklahoma yet, but when we do I think we'll end up spending the bulk of our time in Oklahoma City. Besides the Capitol and Oklahoma History Center, I'm most interested in seeing the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the OKC National Memorial and Museum, and the American Banjo Museum. And I really want to take a tour on the Bricktown Water Taxi!


9. Nebraska


I'm not surprised Nebraska is #9, as so many people (even Nebraskans) were surprised we'd vacation there. But it was fantastic! We could have spent weeks in Omaha and not run out of things to do and see. Go here to read about all of our Nebraska favorites.


8. Iowa


We only spent a day and a half in Iowa, which is obviously not nearly enough time. But we were impressed with everything we saw and did. There's a lot more than corn in Iowa (although we saw that, too)! Read about our favorite things to do in Iowa.


7. West Virginia


Our time in West Virginia was short, but we made the most of it. I'd recommend going just for the (free!) West Virginia State Museum. It's one of the best museums I've ever seen. Here's everything we did in West Virginia.


6. South Dakota


We haven't visited South Dakota yet, but as of a month or so ago, we have more reason than ever to plan a trip there. Our nephew, Ian, is now stationed in Rapid City. He and his wife, Rachel, are expecting their first baby at the end of the year!


5. Vermont


We haven't been to Vermont yet, but I've mapped out the route we'll take when we do. Highlights include the Vermont State House and Ben & Jerry's factory tour and Flavor Graveyard, with a possible diversion to see the world's tallest filing cabinet.


4. Montana


This one is heartbreaking, as we were supposed to be arriving in Montana this week. We'd planned four days in Missoula, then a day in Helena, then on to two days in Yellowstone, and then Grand Teton. I hated having to cancel.


3. Delaware


We spent one day in Delaware in October 2017. We focused on the Dover area and enjoyed our visit. Read about our stops here.


2. Wyoming


As I mentioned in my Montana comments above, we had planned to be in Wyoming next week and I'm so disappointed to miss it. Fortunately, we've been to Wyoming before and absolutely loved our day in Cheyenne. We packed a ton into our time there, which you can read about here.


1. Alaska


Did you guess that Alaska would be the least-visited state in the US? I sure didn't! I suppose it makes sense, being that it is both far from the Lower 48 and has the shortest tourist season. We've been to Alaska three times as a family of three (Steve and I had both been to Alaska separately before that) and we've loved every minute. Alaska is beautiful and if you haven't been, you should make plans to go. You can read about our recommendations for places to go and things to do in Alaska here.

7/28/20

Featured on 'Bryan on Scouting'

Remember the Scout-themed mystery hike I shared a few weeks back? It was featured on the Scouting Magazine blog, with Trevor front and center!


I'm really happy with the article and hope that people enjoy either the virtual or in-person versions of my mystery hike. The article outlines the steps I used to create it and includes tips for others to create a mystery hike in their own city. I hope others follow my lead so that I can solve someone else's mystery hike, either virtually or in-person!

7/27/20

The Percentages of Me - Math Practice Art

The other day, I randomly wondered what percentage of my life I've lived in Fairfield, California. I did a quick calculation - I've been here for 23 of my 48 years, or approximately 48% of my life. I've only lived in two other places: Livermore, CA for 37% of my life and Davis, CA for 15% of my life. Interesting!

The next thing I knew, I'd pushed aside the work I'd intended to do and made this:


It struck me that this would make a great math activity for upper elementary and middle school kids. It provides lots of practice converting fractions to percentages, converting those percentages to degrees of a circle, then using a protractor to make the circle graphs.

To begin, brainstorm categories of things with clear start and end times, like cities (or states, or countries) you've lived in, or schools you've attended, or sports teams you've played on. I chose six categories. In addition to where I've lived, I included: 
  • who I've lived with (my parents, roommates, alone, and with Steve)
  • my primary job (student, teacher, blogger)
  • my church home (Holy Cross, St. Marks)
  • my main club/organization (4-H, a ballroom dance troupe, MOMS Club, and BSA)
  • my favorite food (bread)

After choosing your categories, create a chart. Here is the start of my work page. Looking left to right on the first line, you can see the span of years I lived in Livermore (1972-1990), the fraction of my life that represents (18/48), the equivalent percentage (37%), and the number of degrees of a circle that covers (37% of 360° = 133°).


Once all the math is done, draw circles on drawing paper. (In the classroom, we'd use compasses and make proper circles. I just drew mine with a Sharpie, which doesn't look nearly as good.) Label each circle with the category and put the 'answers' underneath. Then use a protractor to divide each circle into the appropriately-sized pieces. 


Now add the title at the top. 


Color it in and you have a cool glimpse at your percentages! Something neat about this is that you can redo it each year and it will look different since your percentages will change. 


This would look so cool on a bulletin board in a classroom. I wish I'd thought of this 15+ years sooner, lol!

7/24/20

Why You Should Keep Googly Eyes on Hand at all Times

There are a lot of craft supplies that I keep on hand at all times: cardstock, construction paper, pipe cleaners, yarn, pom poms, craft sticks, tissue paper, acrylic paint, and a zillion other things. But I would argue that googly eyes are one of the most important. If I had to choose just three items to keep, it would be cardstock, acrylic paint, and googly eyes.

I'm a big fan of using googly eyes in crafts, but that's not the only thing I do with them. For example, check out my all-time favorite googly eye post. But if you want to have some real fun, glue googly eyes to packages in your cupboards and wait for the family to discover them!



It takes some experimenting to find just the right size for the larger logos.


The tiny ones are best for the smallest faces.




The Starbucks mermaid doesn't look that much different with her googly eyes!


When buying googly eyes, I recommend getting a variety pack like this one (affiliate link). The self-adhesive googly eyes are convenient and it covers the range of sizes I keep on hand (4 mm - 25 mm). That's hours of fun you've got there. 

7/23/20

Wax Paper Diamond Inspired by Arkansas' Crater of Diamonds State Park

It's time to check in on my progress toward creating at least two crafts inspired by each of the 50 states. Back in March, I shared my chart showing 32 states with two or more projects. In four months, I've brought the total up to 42 states, leaving just eight to go. Actually, only seven remain because today's craft, a wax paper diamond, is inspired by Arkansas. 

Did you know that Arkansas has one of the only places in the world where anyone can search for diamonds from their original source? People come to Crater of Diamonds State Park from all over the world to search 37 acres for diamonds that are theirs to keep. We haven't traveled to Arkansas yet, but when we do, I hope we're able to include Crater of Diamonds on our itinerary. 



Wax Paper Diamond


Materials:

  • lined paper
  • mechanical pencil or ballpoint pen
  • ruler
  • wax paper
  • scissors
  • black construction paper
  • glue
  • toothpick


Steps:


Draw an elongated hexagon on lined paper. Divide the bottom line into three equal parts. Draw a quadrilateral (specifically, a trapezoid) extending down from the middle section. (I didn't use a ruler, but you should. You should also draw in pencil so you can make adjustments. I did mine in Sharpie so that it would show up better in the photos.) 


Add four more quadrilaterals below the initial hexagon. 


Make a point directly below the center of the hexagon, then connect each of the bottom points of the quadrilaterals to that point. 


Place a piece of wax paper over the diamond you've drawn. Retract the lead of a mechanical pencil (or retract the tip of a ballpoint pen) and use it to trace over each line of the diamond. A ruler or other straight edge is essential. Press firmly.


After you've traced all the lines, remove the wax paper. Carefully cut around the outside edge. If you want to display your diamond vertically, mount it to black construction paper by using a toothpick to place the tiniest amount of glue possible along the underside of some of the traced lines. 


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Out of curiosity, I checked to see if you can buy real diamonds on Amazon. What was I thinking? Of course you can. You can buy (almost) anything on Amazon. In fact, there were so many diamond options that I ended up in a bit of a rabbit hole. Here are affiliate links for the most expensive diamond ring I could find, as well as the most expensive diamond watch. (Interestingly, I found watches that are more expensive but don't have diamonds on them.) Either of those would give me a pretty nice commission, lol. If you're looking to waste time, poke around and see if you can find a more expensive diamond ring or watch and let me know in the comments.

7/22/20

Battle of the Books

Back in December, Trevor joined his middle school's Battle of the Books team. Every two weeks, all of the Battle of the Books participants received a new book, which they needed to read and study. On Battle days, Trevor's school (B. Gale Wilson) and the other 5 middle schools in the district competed against each other in dual meets. After each team had competed against all the others once, there would be a championship meet between the two top teams. The BGW team met twice a week after school to discuss the books in depth and brainstorm questions that might appear. They were well-prepared and worked really well as a team. So well, in fact, that they went into the Championship Battle undefeated.

The Championship Battle, scheduled for April 2, never happened.

Obviously, this is an extremely minor disappointment compared to all the other things canceled due to the pandemic. But I feel bad for those kids who worked so hard and were having so much fun. It was their last year of middle school, so there's no looking forward to next year's team. They hadn't taken their team photos for the yearbook yet, or even posed for a group photo before school was abruptly moved to distance learning. All I have are a few lousy snapshots from the meets.





Why am I bringing up the Battle of the Books now, months later? Because I recently finished reading what should have been the championship book (along with the other three books in the series). I loved it. I loved all of the Battle books. Even though Trevor and the BGW team didn't get to finish their season, they are all better for having read and studied some really great books.

I don't know who selected the Battle books, but they couldn't have made better choices. They're as enjoyable for adults as they are for teens. I loved each of the books enough to search out and read more by each author. Below are affiliate links for all of the books. I highly recommend you give them a read.



When I drafted this post, I mistakenly included one that I'd thought was a Battle book, but was actually from Trevor's book club. It was fantastic. 


Have you read anything great recently? Let me know in the comments. Happy reading!