Update to the 50 State Album

Trevor added the 35th page to his 50 States Album

I love looking through this album, perhaps more than any other. While the other family albums are from my perspective, this from Trevor's point of view. I love looking back at the photos he chose to represent each state and what he wrote about each visit. I can't wait until the album is complete. If all goes according to plan, it'll be finished in less than 3 years!


Cereal Box Grocery List Notepad

I raided the recycling bin for today's project, a grocery list notepad. There's a magnet on the back so that it can hang on the fridge. 

You could use the same concept to make a holiday wish list, a place to write phone messages, a to-do list, or anything else. It can hang from a filing cabinet or inside a locker. Affiliate links below. 


Cereal Box Grocery List Notepad



Use scissors to cut out the letters to spell GROCERIES (or whatever title you want). Cut an extra strip from a cereal box that is the same width as the top of the notepad and long enough to hold the entire message. 

Glue the letters to the cardboard strip, then glue the strip to the top of the notepad. Make sure you are adhering it only to the top strip and not to the paper itself. 

Add a generous amount of magnetic tape to the back of the notepad. 

Now all you need to do is to hang your list. Make sure there's a pen or pencil nearby. When it's time to go shopping, just tear off the top sheet and you're good to go. 


Koala Pancakes

I am in awe of the amazingly talented people who create works of art in pancake form. I'm not sure who was first to popularize the technique of using pancake batter on a hot griddle to draw portraits and other intricate designs, but the first I came across was Nathan Shields. His designs are absolutely amazing. I'm blown away by how he achieves such detailed designs by carefully adding lines of batter at just the right time for them to create the dark and light parts of the portrait.   

My brain does not work like that. This koala is my ability level when it comes to creativity with pancakes.

To make your own, make a large round pancake for the face, two smaller round pancakes for the ears, and an oval pancake for the nose. Spread Nutella on the nose, the use dots of Nutella to attach candy eyeballs in place. Add a dollop of whipped cream to the inside of each ear right before serving. 

I wanted to give my koala a mouth, but the only food I had on hand that was shaped like a small smile was a black olive. I don't particularly like olives in places where they belong, so I'm certainly not adding them to pancakes with Nutella and whipped cream. I tried using a toothpick to draw a Nutella mouth, but it needed to be darker to stand out against the pancake. I suppose I could have cut a mouth from an extra pancake, or made a tiny mouth-shaped pancake from the beginning. I'm open to other suggestions!


35 States (So Far!)

Our family's recent trip to Montana inspired this layout. Steve, Trevor, and I have now been to 35 of the 50 states. I marked each state we've visited with a red dot; the date is the first time Trevor visited that state. The blue dots are places we haven't been yet. 

35 States So Far (affiliate link)

We have approximately 2 years and 9 months to visit the remaining 15 states to meet our goal of taking Trevor to every state before he's 18. Several people have told me that we should get an extension on the goal since COVID kept us home for a year and 3 months, but I'm still hoping to meet our June 2024 deadline. I think it's still doable, assuming nothing crazy happens (like, say, a pandemic). 


Whimsical Clay Narwhal

This is not a narwhal. I'm calling it a narwhal, but it's a narwhal in the same sense that Mickey is a mouse and Bugs is a bunny. I've taken some anatomical liberties, to say the least.

A narwhal is an Arctic whale related to the beluga. The body is torpedo-shaped, not round like a ball. A narwhal is not blue; it is white, mottled with brownish-black markings on the dorsal side. Like other whales, its eyes are on the sides of its head, not toward the front. Its most distinguishing characteristic (usually only present in males) is its long, spiral left canine tooth that can grow to be 10 feet long. Since it is a tooth, it protrudes from the mouth, not from the top of the head.
If you are looking for a realistic craft about narwhals, this is not the tutorial for you. This whimiscal version plays on the narwhal's nickname, "the unicorn of the sea." Affiliate links below. 


Whimsical Clay Narwhal



Use the Model Magic to shape the rounded body of the narwhal. Its tail fin should be gently forked. Form two small triangular pectoral fins. Set all three pieces aside to air dry.  

Coat a toothpick with craft glue and twist a piece of embroidery floss around it to form the narwhal's tooth. Set it aside to dry completely. 

Paint the narwhal's tooth an off-white so that the toothpick and the embroidery floss are the same color. Let the paint dry. As you can see, I didn't paint the one end - that's the end I was holding and that would be hidden once I inserted the tooth. 

When everything is dry, assemble the narwhal by gently pushing the toothpick into the narwhal's forehead (again, we're going to "unicorn of the sea," not realism). Glue the eyes in place and give the narwhal a Sharpie smile. Glue the fins to the body. 

If you're looking for other narwhal ideas, check out my ideas for a narwhal-themed party and a Twinkie narwhal. And then look at this fabulous tea infuser - so much fun! 


Larry's Produce

Larry's Produce is a legendary produce stand here in Fairfield, CA. It is open daily from mid-June to mid-December. They stock a huge amount of the freshest fruits and vegetables, most of them grown locally, at ridiculously low prices. Consequently it is always packed. 

During lockdown, they started offering $30 no-contact produce boxes for sale. Every box was jam-packed with gorgeous produce worth that would cost easily double or triple that in the grocery store. True, you couldn't choose what was in your box, but opening up the box at home and discovering what was inside was half the fun. Needless to say, their boxes were VERY popular. Order online, drive to Larry's, pop the trunk, and off you go with a box of great stuff really cheap. What's not to love?

We bought a box every 10 days from April 2020 until June 2021, when they opened for the season and stopped selling boxes. I LOVED the challenge of cooking with the bounty and letting nothing go to waste. I photographed every box we got and used two photos in this layout:

Larry's Produce (affiliate link)

I really hope Larry's resumes selling produce boxes again, particularly after our family's summer garden slows down a bit. It was especially nice having such wonderful produce during the winter when there isn't as much in our garden and the local farmers' markets and other produce stands aren't open. 


Puzzle Piece Minions

From aliens to monarchs, puzzle pieces can be just about anything with a little paint and the proper accessories. They make adorable minions. Affiliate links below. 

Puzzle Piece Minions



Put a coat of white gesso onto the puzzle pieces. When it is dry, sketch the design you want for each minion, then paint the skin yellow and the overalls blue. 

When the paint is completely dry, use a black Sharpie to color their gloves and add buttons and pockets to the overalls. 

Draw a horizontal band across each face, then glue googly eyes in place (one or two per minion). Draw mouths beneath the eyes. 

Finally, snip short lengths of embroidery floss and glue them behind the heads. Vary the length of the hair from minion to minion, and separate the strands of floss on some and leave them together on others. 

Which minions are your favorites? I'm partial to the two on the top. 


Celebrate 17 Together

Steve and I usually celebrate our anniversary with a quick getaway for the two of us. We pick a town within an hour or two drive, drop Trevor off with grandparents, and spend time exploring the town, eating well, and just hanging out enjoying each other's company. It's something we both really enjoy and it makes our anniversary special. 

In 17 years of marriage, we've done that 14 times. We didn't go anywhere for our 2nd anniversary because I was 9 months pregnant. We were in COVID lockdown for our 16th anniversary. Rather than have another anniversary celebration at home for three, we decided to celebrate our 17th anniversary with friends instead. We hadn't seen Suzzi and Ronan since we'd evacuated to their house in August 2020, so it was wonderful to spend time with them for a happier reason. 

Celebrate 17 Together (affiliate link)

I started out with the intention of making the layout entirely black and white so that the photos would really pop. I wanted the title to be 'Celebrate 17 Together.' When I looked through my stickers, I realized the teal 17 was the perfect size to go with Celebrate and Together. Rather than having a single teal element, I added that thin cardstock strip to the left and a tiny heart sticker next to the caption on the photo of Steve and me poolside. I'm really happy with the layout.

Hopefully we can get back to anniversary getaways in 2022 for our 18th.


Protractor Name Art

Today's name art project uses a protractor, but not for its primary purpose of drawing and measuring angles.

Protractor Name Art


  • drawing paper
  • protractor
  • pens


Position the protractor in the bottom left of the paper. Use the arc to write your name in block letters. I strongly recommend using pencil so you can correct mistakes. I used a pen so that it would show up in the photos. 

Draw a dot in the hole at the base of the protractor.

Use the straight edge of the protractor to connect that dot with each of the corners of the bottom of the letters. 

For letters that don't have corners (like the C in my name), connect the dot to where the base of the letter would be if it were flat. Once you've connected all the letters, color in your design. 

I intentionally made this project very simple. If you'd prefer a more dimensional look with a little more difficulty, connect every corner of each letter to the point, like I did in this name art project. Either way, it's a fun project that kids will like. 

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Another Sympathy Card

I hardly ever use my stamps, but there's something about sympathy cards that leads me straight to stamps and ink. There are two stamps on this card, the large floral background and the sentiment. The heart is a sticker. 

While the design is simple, it took me a long time to make. It typically takes me at least double the time to make a sympathy card as to make a birthday card. The obvious solution to this would be to make a large batch of sympathy cards once I find a design I like, but I can't bring myself to do that. Making a sympathy card is part of my grieving and that can't be done in bulk.


Trevor at 15

Time for my annual "Trevor at" layout! This time it's Trevor at 15. 

Trevor at 15 (affiliate link)

As always, I didn't look back on the adjectives I used to describe him until after I'd scanned the layout. Of course, most of the same words appear year after year. This time, I described him as kind, dependable, smart, curious, talented, quiet, trustworthy, steady, funny, and happy. I should have added awesome - he's a really great kid.


Family Fun in Idaho and Montana: Craters of the Moon, then West toward Boise (Part 7)

This is the seventh post (and final) about our family's 2021 travels to Idaho and Montana. Start by reading with the first, secondthird, fourth, fifth, and sixth posts about this trip if you haven't already. Because I blog about educational travel, I received admission tickets, discounts, media rates, and similar benefits from some locations. Other attractions are free to everyone, and I paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. Everything that I share is something that I fully recommend.


Craters of the Moon, then West toward Boise

Steve has wanted to visit Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve for a long, long time. Friday, July 30 was the day he finally did. We had a short drive from Arco and arrived at the Visitor Center just after its 9:00 am opening. After a quick orientation, we headed out on the 7-mile Loop Road. 

Our plan was to park and hike at each of the seven stops. Steve suggested we skip the easiest stop for now and head directly to the steepest trail while it was still cool outside, so our first hike was Inferno Cone. The path is short but steep. For perspective, check out these two photos. Steve took the picture of Trevor and me about 1/4 of the way up the trail at the same time that I took the photo of Steve (wearing orange). 

The trail is deceptive; it looks like the peak is right there, but you reach one fake-summit after another. Trevor scurried it up like a mountain goat. There he is, far above me. 

The view at the top was spectacular. 

I wasn't expecting there to be so much vegetation at Craters of the Moon, so it was a wonderful surprise to see trees, shrubs, and flowers growing from the volcanic rock. 


After hiking down Inferno Cone, we continued on the Loop Road, stopping at each of the remaining six parking lots in order to hike the trails. It was neat. Not only were we surprised by the vegetation, but the diversity of the geological features was surprising, too. 

I should point out that we stayed on trails the entire time. The formations are fragile. 

It was getting quite warm when we left Craters toward our next destination, my parents' house in Eagle, Idaho. We hadn't seen them since July 2019. COVID canceled their visit to California for Trevor's original confirmation ceremony in March 2020 and the rescheduled March 2021 date, as well as our planned cruise for my parents' 50th anniversary in June 2020 and the rescheduled June 2021 date. We were so excited to finally get to see them. 

We stopped for a late lunch at the delightful 93 Bar and Grill in Carey, then made it to my parents' house just before dinnertime. We spent that evening, and then two full days with my parents and my sister's family. It was wonderful. 

Of course, we took family photos of the whole group...

Grandpa, Grandma, and the grandkids...

... and a stacked photo showing how much everyone has grown. As you can see from the picture above, Timothy is quite a bit taller than Trevor and was crouching for this photo. Grr. I wish I'd noticed that then. Don't mess around with a scrapbooker's photos!

During our visit, we played a lot of board games...

... the cousins swam together...

... and we celebrated Kari and Brian's 25th anniversary. 

Part of the celebration included Allison trying on my mom's wedding dress (it almost fits and Allison is only 8) and my grandma's wedding dress (way too big). 

We ate a lot of really good food when we were there (part of our continuing efforts to only eat what we can't get at home when we travel). Our favorite was Coned Pizza. It's probably a good thing it isn't local to me. I LOVED Coned. Steve thinks we should open a franchise when he retires. Alas, he's only 45, so there's no pizza business in our near future. 


Another fun meal was Pie-O-Neer Pies. We'd planned to visit their restaurant during our next trip to Idaho to try their delicious-sounding meat pies, but they closed during COVID. Fortunately, they now sell their pies at grocery stores and other locations. I sent my dad on a quest to find all the flavors so we could try them. They were delicious!

Because my sister's kids are basically nocturnal, we used the mornings while they were still asleep for the three of us to do some touristy things. We LOVED the Idaho State Museum in Boise. 

The museum is large and very well-maintained, with all sorts of interesting interactive exhibits. I loved the unique touches. For example, you can sit on (stationary) chair lifts to watch this video about skiing in Idaho. 

There was something neat around every turn. 

The temporary exhibit about the trailblazing women of Idaho was outstanding. We learned so much. This activity was really neat. Each post represents one of the traits shown by these women (courage, determination, creativity, etc) and visitors were asked to mark their own path. It was cool. 

Our other outing took us to the Albertsons Market Street store. Ordinarily, I don't blog about visiting the grocery store, but this store is special. 

First and foremost, it is huge. Pictures don't show the magnitude, so you'll have to trust me. This is about 20% of the bakery counter...

... and this is the popcorn counter, where you can buy different flavors of freshly popped corn. 

There's an entire food court within the grocery store.

There's a refrigerated room within the store for all the wine. There was some high-end stuff there. The bottles of wine we drink have 2-digit prices, not 4-digit prices.

The international section has speciality items for many different cuisines. I would have SO much fun with this if it were local. 

My grocery store doesn't have a sock aisle. 

Nor does it have video story time for kids. 

I have to go elsewhere for my small appliances.

We spent over an hour walking up and down every aisle. It was incredible - a foodie paradise. The best part was all of my usual products were there, for the same prices. There was just so much more in addition to those. No matter what you're looking for, at any price point, it's probably at Albertson's Market Street. 

All too soon, it was time to head home. Fortunately, thanks to Steve's excellent driving and audiobooks for entertainment, the day of travel wasn't too bad. And now that I'm home, I'm eager to start planning our next trip!