50 Miler

Last spring, Trevor's Scout troop did a 50 mile bike ride. Impressive enough, but more so knowing Trevor did the first 30 miles on a fixed-gear bike. Another boy (Ryan) was riding on a bike that was too small for him, so at Mile 30 Ryan took the bike his dad (Carlo) was riding, gave his bike to Trevor, and Carlo rode along in the chase vehicle.  

50 Miler (affiliate link)

The top photo is from the start of the ride and the lower photo is at the end. I resisted the temptation to add some of the other photos and left lots of white space as well as plenty of room for journaling. The tiny embellishment cluster in the upper right is my favorite part. 


Festive Holiday Sweater Cookies

My grocery store has a small alcove where they put clearance items. Most people walk right by it, as it looks like an employee-only area. It's the best place to find all sorts of amazing bargains, particularly after holidays. My latest find? This!

The Best Before date was still four months away. The kit wasn't damaged. There was literally nothing wrong with it except for that people don't decorate cookies to look like sweaters after December. But why not? It's still sweater weather, there are holidays coming up, and decorating cookies is always fun! Besides, it cost something like $2, which would be worth it even if I threw everything else out and kept the sprinkles for next Christmas. Of course I bought it!

The kit had six large cookies (3 bags of 2 cookies each, about the size of my hand), three tubes of fine-tip icing (red, white, and green), a package of white icing, and two bags of Christmas sprinkles. Definitely worth $2!

I put away the Christmas sprinkles and got out the giant collection of sprinkles I keep on hand. (You never know when a sprinkle emergency will arise. Plus, I get a lot of sprinkle samples as a blogger.) I tested the various icings on the first two cookies and discovered that the bag of frosting was a bit too thick for much other than eating, but that the fine-tipped icings were awesome. Once I got the hang of them, I decorated the remaining cookies with four upcoming (potentially) sweater-weather holidays: Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras, Pi Day, and St. Patrick's Day. I thought it would be really limiting only having green, red, and white icing with a very fine tip, but that just forced me to be creative. Check out my festive sweater cookies!

Happily, the cookies are delicious and surprisingly fresh-tasting. The icing is yummy, too. And I had a lot of fun decorating them.

I've linked some of my favorite cookie decorating supplies below, along with the exact same Ugly Sweater Cookie Kit as mine, but branded differently. I hope I've inspired you to extend your cookie decorating beyond Christmas and throughout the year!


My Version of the Stitched Bucilla Camper

Recently, the Plaid Ambassadors received something exciting in the mail. We're calling it a BORC (pronounced bork), which stands for 'Box of Random Challenge.' Each ambassador's BORC was specially curated to contain Plaid items that the recipient doesn't normally use, with the goal of challenging us to see what we can create. My box held all sorts of interesting items, including this camper-themed Bucilla embroidery kit (affiliate link here and throughout the post). 

I didn't want to just complete the kit as is. In the spirit of the BORC, I used Fabric Creations fabric inks for the first time. I used brush to paint the inks onto the unstitched canvas, let it dry, and was delighted to find that the inks covered perfectly in a single coat and the fabric remained soft and flexible. 

On to the stitching! Because the design is printed on the canvas, I opted not to use the directions to determine which stitch to use where and instead did whatever stitch I felt like using. 

I did my stitching in the evening. Thank goodness for my Brightech lamp! It makes stitching so much easier, not to mention the fact that I can thread a needle in a single attempt when I use the magnifying lamp. It's almost like being young again, LOL!

The kit comes with a wood frame, but again, I didn't want to just use it as is. I dug around through my ever-increasing stash of Plaid products and found Folk Art Transparent Soft Gel Paint in sepia. I used a cotton ball to rub the gel into the wood, then let it dry before framing my stitching. Here is my completed project:

And for comparison, here is the picture on the front of the package next to what I made. 

I had a lot of fun with this quick and easy project. I particularly love that it gave me the chance to try two types of colorants that were totally new to me. I'm looking forward to my next BORC project!


Football Diamond Art

I'm not a sports fan, but Steve and all of my inlaws are rabid 49ers fans. They were thrilled that the 49ers were in the Super Bowl, but obviously not particularly happy about the outcome. Maybe next year! 

If you or someone in your life is a football fan, you're definitely going to want to check out the NFL series by Leisure Arts (affiliate link here and throughout the post). I used the 49ers kit, then framed it with a wood panel and poured paints by Plaid. 

I started by completing the Diamond Art kit, which was straightforward and relatively quick. The kit includes everything you need. Next, I cut out away the background fabric with my microtip scissors. I LOVE them. 

My goal in cutting away the background fabric was two-fold. First, I wanted to be able to fit the design in the square panel, and second, I wanted to have a less busy background. Cutting out the basic shapes was quick and easy. 

Cutting out the inner parts was not. It took a really, REALLY long time to carefully cut away all of the inner fabric using a sharp craft knife and a self-healing mat

Once everything was cut, I turned my attention to the frame. I mixed the pouring medium into Folk Art acrylics (yellow, red, and black) and drizzled them over the frame until I was happy with the marbling. Once the paint was dry, I added the cardstock and the Diamond Art pieces with Supertite.

Now that this is done, I'm looking forward to starting my next Diamond Art project. What to make though? I have a few kits I could start (including this one that I love), or I could do a freestyle design. So many options!


Christmas 2018

Christmas 2018 is in the album!

Christmas 2018

For this page, I really wanted to use the newsprint patterned paper as my background, but I only had a single sheet. With some careful cutting, I used it across the top of both pages, then did the same thing with the red paper at the bottom. I'd originally had the photo blocks flipped (intending to put a title in the top left and the journaling would be in the bottom right), but by inverting them and using the patterned paper as a title, the little bird at the top of the tree is looking directly at the title. The snowflakes form a visual triangle along with the title and bird, which also highlights the gift my inlaws had just opened (a slightly modified version of this, which they'd requested). I'm happy with how this turned out.

Incidentally, you may have noticed that I added a Scrapbooking tab to my website. I've posted a (very) small sample of the layouts I've made that represent my style, as well as links to my favorite basic scrapbook supplies.


Magazine Heart Valentine Tree

Need a quick and easy valentine idea? It took me under 15 minutes to make this and I love how it turned out. 

Magazine Heart Valentine


  • magazine
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • heart punches (optional)
  • craft glue


Cut a tree trunk shape from a page of magazine text. I chose mine from an article about how people met their spouses that I really liked. Glue it just left of center on a piece of construction paper. 

Punch (or cut) small hearts from a red area in the magazine. Check ads - many feature red because it is eye-catching. Glue the hearts to the tree to make leaves. 

Punch (or cut) a large heart, then search the magazine for text to spell the rest of your message. I found the letters I, O, and U plus an exclamation point in red, but I couldn't find a Y. I solved that problem by cutting part of an H off. If you can't find the letters you want, just cut what you need from a solid block of color, or handwrite your message!


Family Faves, Fruit Edition

For a long time, I've wanted to make a layout comparing the foods that everyone in our family likes and dislikes. (Yes, of course Trouble is a member of the family.) When my friends at Paper House Productions sent me sheets of fruit stickers, I made this. 

Family Faves (affiliate link)

I started by digging through the bin of printed photos that I never scrapped to find a picture of each of us that I could cut into a square. Then I arranged the fruits in the proper places below the little thumbs up and thumbs down stickers. As you can see, all four of us are fans of apples, pears, and strawberries. (And pineapple, but that wasn't on the sticker sheet.)

I think this might be the first layout I've ever made that has 'journaling' in the form of stickers. I didn't write a single word on this page, yet there's a lot of information there. I'm really happy with how it turned out. 


Splatter Painted Galaxy

The beautiful photography in Astronomy Fluxx inspired me to make my own galaxy painting. Give it a try! Affiliate links below.


Splatter Painted Galaxy



First, a warning. This craft can get messy. Cover your workspace. 

Tape your black paper to your work surface. Dip the stencil brush in white paint, then pounce it on the paper, a bit off-center. Continue to pounce around this area without adding more paint to the brush. This will be the brightest spot in the painting. 

Now, make two oval stencils/masks from a piece of chipboard that is roughly the size of your black paper. To make mine, I cut the chipboard in half along the diagonal, cut out a large oval from the center, and then taped the original pieces back together. Then I cut the large oval in half lengthwise, cut a smaller oval from the center of it, and then taped the remaining parts of the large oval back together. Put both stencils on top of the black paper.

Dip the brush in paint and use your thumb to pull back on the bristles, sending the paint spattering onto the paper. You should get a very fine mist of paint. Pull back on the bristles again and again until no more paint is spraying. Re-dip and splatter again. Do this until you are satisfied with the coverage. I dipped in fresh paint 8 times. I used white for the first few, then did a yellow, another white, a light blue, and then more white.

Remove the inner stencil and do more splattering. Do about half the amount you did with the center stencil in place. 

Remove the outer stencil and do a few more splatters. 

I ended up with harsh edges on the right side of my galaxy. To make that side look more like the left, I dipped the stencil brush in black paint and pounced to soften the harsh line. Finally, I barely dipped the tip of the handle in paint, then barely touched the paper here and there to add a few closer stars to my galaxy. 

I love how it turned out! 


Astronomy Fluxx

We are a board game and card game family. We play games together whenever we have the chance. Trevor loves games so much that he founded the Games Club at his middle school! If you go my gift guide tab and scroll down to Family Fun, you'll find several dozen of our family's very favorite games, including Fluxx. (Affiliate link here and throughout the post.) 

I first discovered Fluxx sometime around 1998. I love that it is easy to learn (yet ever-changing!) and accommodates any number of players. It's portable and inexpensive. It requires reading, but otherwise is fun for all ages. I introduced Trevor to Fluxx when he was around 5 and he loved it. Since then, he has collected many different versions of Fluxx, including Star Fluxx, Nature Fluxx, and the Fluxx board game. Recently, the folks at Looney Labs have been introducing educational versions of Fluxx. I jumped on the chance to review the latest, Astronomy Fluxx, which was provided to me by Looney Labs. 

Astronomy Fluxx basically plays like all the other versions of Fluxx. You collect Keepers...

.... and use Actions in order to achieve a Goal. If you have the correct Keepers to meet the Goal, you win!

However, the New Rules (and the Goals) change constantly... sometimes in your favor and sometimes not! It's a lot of fun.

Astronomy Fluxx has some neat features that distinguish it from other versions of Fluxx. The first thing I noticed was the gorgeous photography. The Keepers and Goals feature NASA's photographs of planets and the other astronomical objects. Many of the Goals list dates that mark major accomplishments in space exploration; the Quiz Me Action card asks players to name those dates. The Name a Constellation New Rule rewards players for mentioning a constellation that has not yet come up in the game. Simply by playing Astronomy Fluxx, kids (and adults!) will learn so much more about space.

My favorite card is the stunning Galaxy Keeper. In fact, it inspired me to create some artwork that is out of this world. (Ha ha!) I'll teach you how to make it tomorrow.


Sparkly Valentine Heart Note Holder

Marbled Model Magic hearts + clothespins + a jumbo craft stick + glittery paint = a sparkly Valentine note holder for February! Affiliate links below.


Sparkly Valentine Heart Note Holder



Paint the craft stick and the clothespins black. When they are dry, add a coat of Extreme Glitter for sparkle. When that is dry, use Supertite glue to attach one heart to each clothespin. 

Use the centering ruler to determine where to put your clothespins so they are evenly spaced. I used three because there are three of us in the family, but you can add more or fewer so that each family member has their own. 

Lift one clothespin at a time, add glue, and carefully replace it. Let the glue dry completely. 

Glue a length of cord to the back to act as a holder. The centering ruler is helpful for this, too. Honestly, I use my centering ruler all the time. It's so handy.

If hearts aren't your thing, you can easily switch them out for any other shapes. You can use different shapes, or different colors, for different people. There are so many possibilities.


50 State Album: Louisiana and Mississippi


We're now at 34/50 states visited. It's always exciting adding a page to Trevor's album. I love looking through it and reminiscing about our past travels. Seeing the blank pages makes me excited about future adventures!

Speaking of which, we'll be traveling to Montana this summer, but those are the only firm plans we have as of now. I'm hoping to add a least one more new state in 2020.