Mac: Cutest Houseguest Ever

Last month, right before we left for our New England adventure, we had a houseguest. A fuzzy, feisty, and fearless houseguest. Meet Mac.  

Mac (affiliate link)

Mac is a 4-year old Netherland Dwarf. His family was moving, so we kept him for a week while they were between homes. It was wonderful having a rabbit in the house again, but Mac really kept us on our toes. Unfortunately, he did not demonstrate the same impeccable litterbox habits that Trouble had and he was into everything. He particularly loved going up and down the stairs, climbing onto the couch and leaping off it, and figuring out ways to get to high places. Even though he was a lot of work, I loved having Mac here. Cutest houseguest ever.

I will be taking a much-needed blog break over the next two weeks. I'll be back with a new post on Monday, August 14. 


New Folk Art Matte Colors by Plaid

My go-to paint for all of my crafts is Folk Art by Plaid. I love the quality, the price, and the huge range of products. I've been using Folk Art for decades, long before I became an ambassador for Plaid. There are 13 different formulas of Folk Art and I've tried them all. The ones I use most often are Acrylic, Multi-Surface, and Extreme Glitter, in that order. Affiliate links here and throughout the post. 

As a Plaid Creator, I occasionally get products from Plaid to try out. I was really excited when a box of 17 of their latest colors of acrylic showed up at my house. Look at all the pretty new colors! 

Doubly lucky me - I received another box of 19 bottles of paint from them the following day! Those weren't newly released shades, but rather a selection of some of their most popular colors. I put all the bottles together when my friends Jennifer and Sheena were over for a craft day. Long story short: Each of us put together a color combination that we loved from the 36 bottles on the table. Steve and Trevor did the same. I photographed each trio. 

Here are the five different combinations each of us made. Can you guess which one (A, B, C, D, or E) is mine? Go ahead and try to guess the others too! I've listed the color names for each combination; those with an asterisk are the newest colors. 

A: Daffodil Yellow, *Deep Viridian, *Blue Odyssey

B: Aqua, Coffee Latte, *Green Whisper


C: Lime Green, *Mango Mambo, *Blue Hyacinth

D: *Watery Blue, *Sand Dollar, *Peach Breeze

E: Aqua, Ultramarine, Bright Pink


Ready for the answers? My color combination is C. Steve is A, Sheena is B, Jennifer is D, and Trevor is E. Let me know in the comments if you guessed correctly!

After everyone made their combinations, I put together my wedding colors. I just love pink, purple, and orange together!

Bright Pink, Lavender, Pure Orange

I made a few combinations to see how the rest of the new colors look with each other and with the classics. It's so interesting to see how different combinations bring out different things from a given shade. Any favorites? 

Medium Gray, *Orchid Wisp, *Gray Frost

*Mango Mambo, *Deep Viridian, Pure Orange

Linen, *Green Whisper, *Hazy Horizon

*Smoke Screen, *Blue Odyssey, *Creamy Coral

*Peach Breeze, *Empress Teal, *Papaya Whip

*Papaya Whip, *Coffee Grounds, *Newport Blue

I'm really excited to have all these fun new shades in my Folk Art collection! If you're a fan of Plaid products, have a blog or a large social media following, and like getting free stuff sent to you (US addresses only), you may be interested in becoming a Plaid Creator. If you apply, be sure to tell them that Cindy deRosier sent you!


The Mystery of the "Maple Syrup on Pancakes" Preschool Craft

Not long ago, I became aware of an unsolved mystery in the world of preschool crafts. It involves a pancake craft. This project looks great for preschoolers. Glue some brown circles to a paper plate, add a small square of yellow for the butter, and drizzle on the faux maple syrup. Cute, easy, and fun!

The mystery is what was used to make the maple syrup. There are no instructions of how to make it or what materials to use. Since I've had maple on my mind ever since our visit to the maple museum and maple farm in Vermont, I put on my detective hat, grabbed my magnifying glass, and took a closer look at the original image to see what clues I could find. (Affiliate links here and throughout the post.)

I decided that the pancakes and butter were made from craft foam. The paper plate was, obviously, a paper plate. But then there's the syrup. Surely it's not real maple syrup? Not only would that be a waste of food, it wouldn't dry and would be covered in ants within the hour. That can't be what it is. 

It was time for an experiment, so I removed my detective hat and put on my lab coat. I hoped one of the dimensional adhesives I had on hand might be the maple syrup substitute.

However, after putting a dot of each onto white paper, yellow craft foam, and brown craft foam, I learned that none of them were the answer to the mystery. Just to be certain, I used a pipette to add drops of real maple syrup (two different grades) onto more paper and foam for comparison. None of the adhesives matched the amber color of the syrups. The closest is the Mod Podge.

I had one more idea: Gorilla Glue. I ran my test and it was successful! Gorilla Glue looked just like what was used in the photo and was a perfect match for the darker of the two real maple syrups! I drizzled a generous amount onto the faux pancakes I'd prepared and snapped a quick photo. 

It was so satisfying to have solved the mystery. 

But wait! There's a twist... and you won't like it. Because THIS is what the craft looks like after the Gorilla Glue dries. 

As you can see, the Gorilla Glue puffed up significantly and lightened in color. What a disappointment. 

The mystery remains. Did the original crafter use Gorilla Glue and only shared a photo when it was wet? Or was a different product used? Perhaps we'll never know. 

If you make this craft, use Mod Podge Dimensional Magic. It won't look quite as good as the Gorilla Glue while it's wet, but it will look much better after it's dried. If you have another adhesive idea and want me to check it out, let me know in the comments. 


The Story of Ramen - A Hands-on Experience in San Francisco

How does this bowl of ramen look to you?   

If you said it looks delicious, you are correct. I made that ramen during a super fun cooking class at The Story of Ramen.

Steve was introduced to The Story of Ramen during a team-building activity with his coworkers. He enjoyed it so much that he surprised Trevor and me with a gift certificate so that we could experience it too. It was so much fun! 

When you arrive, you're greeted with gyoza and instructions to fill out the wrapper on your chopsticks. This lets them know the levels of spice and salt that you prefer, along with whether or not you want a soft-boiled egg in your ramen. (Correct answer: Yes.) 


After an introduction, it's time to head to the kitchen! You work in pairs (or in our case, a trio) to first make the dough for the noodles. 


Next comes kneading, rolling, and cutting. The KitchenAid (affiliate link) makes it quick and easy. 

The hot broth went into our bowls, which we adjusted to our desired spice/salt levels. Then we boiled our freshly-made noodles. It only takes 90 seconds. 

We prepped pork belly and added it to our ramen, along with our choice of mushrooms, scallions, bamboo shoots, and soft-boiled eggs. 

We returned to our seats to enjoy the ramen we made. It was very filling, but none of us left a single drop!


We had mochi ice cream for dessert. 

We were the only family group there during our session, but if you have teens I highly recommend The Story of Ramen. It was such a unique way to spend time as a family. It would also be great fun for couples, friend groups, or practically anyone!



Felt Cardinal Pencil Topper

I think it's so weird that we talk about most animals year-round, while there are others we've assigned to a certain season. It's as if rabbits and chicks only exist in the spring, flamingoes and tropical fish disappear if it isn't summer, bats and owls are only alive in the fall, and penguins and polar bears vanish when winter ends. I get that some of that is based on climate; tropical fish live in warm water and polar bears live in cold water. But they live there year-round! 

Despite existing year-round with quite a large range, cardinals are considered part of the winter animal category. If there is an image of a cardinal on a card, the sentiment probably references Christmas or winter. You don't see cardinals on Easter greetings, even though baby cardinals start hatching then, just like baby chickens. It's weird. 

All this to say that I made a cardinal craft during the summer. And you can too. Affiliate links below. 

Felt Cardinal Pencil Topper



To make the cardinal, you will need two red felt bodies, two red wings, two black faces, and one orange beak. I recommend using scratch paper to make a template for yourself, unless you want to just wing it (pun intended) like I did.

Use floral tape to wrap a stem of leaves to a pencil. I used an artificial rose I had laying around and just pulled the flower off to save for a different use. 

Glue the face and wings to the two body parts.

Add an eye to each face. If you're using self-adhesive enamel dots, proceed. If you're using Enamel Accents, let them dry completely. 

Put a line of glue around the inside of one body piece, leaving the belly area open. Put the beak in place, then add a line of glue onto the part of the beak that will be covered by the second body piece. Set that piece on top of the first, essentially making a beak sandwich. Let the glue dry completely. 

Add as much or as little stuffing as you want, then add a generous amount of glue to the opening. Place it onto the prepared pencil, clamp it closed, and let the glue dry completely.  

Perfect for any time of year! This craft is particularly great if you live in one of the seven states (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia) that have named the cardinal as their state bird, or if you're a fan of the any of the Cardinals sports teams!



Family Fun in New England, Part 16: Boston

This is my sixteenth and final post about our family's visit to New England. I suggest reading the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixthseventheighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth posts from the trip before this one. Because I blog about educational travel, I was given admission tickets, media rates, discounts, and other benefits for some of the places we visited during our trip. Some places are free for everyone; we paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I'm share is something that I recommend without hesitation. If you see any gaps in my narrative, it is because I didn't love that particular attraction, restaurant, or hotel enough to recommend it to you, regardless of how much I paid or didn't pay.


Boston, Massachusetts

Our first destination on Monday, June 26 was the New England Aquarium. It is steps away from the Marriott Long Wharf, so once again spending a little more money on the hotel for such a convenient location was well worth it. Particularly since my foot was still swollen and discolored. 

Wow - what an aquarium! All three of us absolutely loved it. We started with the penguins. This was the single best penguin exhibit I have ever seen. Their enclosure is enormous, essentially wrapping around the center of the floor level. 

I highly recommend watching penguin feeding time. The keeper hand fed each of the penguins as much as they wanted, noting who ate how much. 

There are 50+ penguins (two different species) at the aquarium. Each penguin has a colored bracelet on one of their wings to help identify them. Females have bracelets on their right wing while males wear theirs on their left. 

A bonded pair shares the same color bracelets. Here, the male is grooming his mate. 

We watched the penguins for at least 30 minutes. It was hard to pull ourselves away, but we had so much more to see. Like harbor seals. 

And jellies. 


And sea horses. 


And sea turtles. 

The sea turtles live in a four-story tank that is 23 feet deep and 40 feet wide. It has 200,000 gallons of water. It is spectacular. Viewing it from each of the four stories gives a different perspective. 

We absolutely loved the New England Aquarium. 

Next, we took the Old Town Trolley Tour. This hop-on-hop-off bus ride is a great way to get an overview of the city, learn tons of interesting information, and get from place to place. We've done a lot of HOHO tours like this in the past and the round-trip loop is typically around an hour. This was a two-hour loop, so budget your time accordingly. Our driver was outstanding and we enjoyed his narration so much that we were never tempted to hop off!

Note the steam coming out of the teapot. It was made in 1873. 

As we rode, we saw many examples of why Boston is ranked the 2nd worst traffic in the US (behind Chicago). I would have guessed New York City before I'd spent time in Boston. I'm surprised Boston isn't #1. Maybe right now it is. 

Seriously. Do not even think about driving in Boston. 

After the Trolley Tour, we walked to the Massachusetts State House. See that gate behind where we're standing? They don’t use it. Or, rather, they use it for three occasions: the day a governor leaves on their last day in office; when a new regimental flag is honored; or when a standing president makes an official visit. (The last one who did that was Taft.) For all other occasions, everyone uses a side entrance. 

We enjoyed looking around. It's a neat building and has some features we haven't seen in other Capitols. 

Topping the list of "things we haven't seen in other Capitols" is the large wooden Sacred Cod that hangs in the House chambers. 

There's a Holy Mackerel in the Senate chamber, but it wasn’t open to the public so we couldn’t see it. Another thing we didn't see: the Liberty Bell replica. It’s being refurbished.

From there, we walked to Cheers. We went in to look around, but did not stay to eat. It was really crowded. 

We walked through Boston Public Garden and stopped at the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture to say hi to Mrs. Mallard and her 8 kids, Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack.

Then we walked to Boston Common, which is where the Boston Freedom Trail Urban Adventure Quest starts. 

This Quest follows the Freedom Trail (obviously) and led us to many of the most important locations in Boston's history. And a lot more cows. 


One of the Quest questions asked about the two rival bakeries we'd visited last night, so it was fun to know the answers to that! Here's another famous food-related place in Boston. Not only is the Omni Parker House Hotel the oldest continuously operating hotel in the US, but it is also the birthplace of two beloved culinary creations: Boston Cream Pie and Parker House Rolls. 

This is the Paul Revere House, which he owned from 1770-1800. It is the oldest remaining structure in downtown Boston.

As always, the Quest took us to all sorts of places we wouldn't have seen otherwise and was a lot of fun. 

We ate dinner at the Green Dragon Tavern, a favorite place of Paul Revere and John Hancock. 

We returned to our hotel, finished up the last of our pastries, and spent our final night in Boston. In the morning, we took the ferry to Logan airport. It boarded a few feet from our hotel, was relatively inexpensive, surprisingly quick, and infinitely more pleasant than driving would have been. As soon as we docked, there was a bus waiting to drive us the mile or so directly to the terminal. It really couldn't have been easier. The flight home was long but uneventful. 

We had so much fun exploring New England and can't wait to return!