Very Hungry Caterpillar Card Using Souvenirs from Massachusetts

I don't usually buy souvenirs when we travel. Steve buys pins, and Trevor buys decks of cards, flags, and pressed pennies. Although it is really rare for me to buy something, I couldn't resist doing a little shopping when we visited The Carle in June. 

I used my goodies to make this card for a baby shower:   

I got a super cute pack of Eric Carle origami paper, plus a pack of Very Hungry Caterpillar die-cuts (affiliate link here and below). 

I made a card base using the white cardstock I now use for everything, trimmed a sheet of origami paper to fit, then added the caterpillar. I chose the one who is just about to make his chrysalis to symbolize that the baby is almost here. I thought about using the chrysalis itself, but it didn't make a very cute card. So I went with the caterpillar.

This was probably the easiest card I've ever made, but I think it's really cute. Best of all, the parents-to-be liked it. 


Alameda County Fair, 2023

I've mentioned many times how much I love the county fair. Last month, Trevor and I met up with my sister and niece at the Alameda County Fair. 
Alameda County Fair (affiliate link)

We're not rides people and I don't go to the fair to shop. Our top two favorite fair activities are looking at exhibits and eating fair food. (I miss the days when Trevor was young enough to enter the kids' tablesetting competition!) I entered a dozen or so crafts in the fair this year, so it was fun seeing which of my entries placed. But it was even more fun seeing Allison's first-ever entry, a display of her keychain collection. As for fair food, we had gyros and Dole Whips, both amazing. All in all, it was a great day and I'm happy to have it documented in a scrapbook.


Christmas Tree at Night, Made with Paint Pens

It might be a little early for Christmas crafts, but this idea popped into my head while playing with the Apple Barrel Paint Pens I shared yesterday and I was eager to try it out. It's really easy to do and I love how it turned out! Affiliate links below. 

Christmas Tree at Night



Use painter's tape to form a triangle on the cardstock in the shape of a Christmas tree. Working with one paint pen at at time, add dots of color right up to the edges of the tape. 

Continue until you have filled in the inside of the triangle. Be sure that you've gone up to the edges with your dots of color. 

Peel away the tape and use the yellow paint pen to draw a star at the top of the tree. When that is dry, use a q-tip to outline the tree with yellow pastel chalk to mimic the glow the lights would be giving off. 

I added a few swipes of chalk under the base of the tree to give a hint of the ground it's sitting on. 

I'm having fun playing with the paint pens. Expect to see more projects featuring them some time in the future!


Plastic Lid Flower, Made with Apple Barrel Paint Pens

 I've been playing with the new Apple Barrel paint pens!

I'm a Plaid Ambassador, which means I get to try out all sorts of new goodies from one of my favorite companies ever! Affiliate links here and throughout the post. 

I received two sets of Apple Barrel fine-tip paint pens (the Basic colors and the Neon set). According to the package, they're intended for use on fabric, wood, paper, glass, rock, metal, and much more. I decided to swatch my colors on three surfaces: newspaper, a plastic lid, and aluminum foil. The colors were beautiful on all the surfaces and the coverage was excellent. 

Here are some swatches with the neon colors. Fabulous!

After I took that photo, I ran my finger across all of the swatches to see how well they dried on each surface. I'm happy to report that they were all perfect! No smearing, nothing. 

But that was with a few minutes of drying time. What would happen if I made dots in quick succession, allowed no drying time, and then rubbed my finger through them? This: 

By the time I made the 8th dot (purple), the first five dots were completely dry and did not smear when I rubbed them. Impressive! Green, which was the 6th dot, was dry on the outside but not in the inside in just the time it took for me to make blue and purple dots. Not bad at all! I didn't expect the paint to set as quickly as it did. 

Time to move on to my project. I grabbed a random plastic lid (because craft bloggers hoard plastic lids in their craft rooms) and taped the lid over this pattern by Bella Savoy. And then I started dotting. 

Dot, dot, dot, dot... I had intended to fill in the whole design, but changed my mind and stopped at this point. Such a cute flower!

I flipped the lid over and colored the back of the flower and leaves with a white paint pen. This really helped the colors pop. Then I colored around the outline with sky blue. I used microtip scissors to cut out the shape, leaving me with this: 

Not bad for a plastic lid! I love trash-to-treasure projects like this. And I love the Apple Barrel Paint Pens. I used them for a second project right away; I'll share that tomorrow.


Family Fun in the Dakotas, Part 10: Fargo, North Dakota and the Long Trip Home

This is the tenth and final post about our family's visit to the Dakotas. I suggest reading the firstsecondthird, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth trip posts before this one. Because I blog about educational travel, I received free admission tickets, media rates, discounts, and other benefits for some of the places we visited during the trip. Other places we went are free for everyone. We paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. 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, regardless of how much I paid or didn't pay.


Fargo, North Dakota and the Long Trip Home

On Thursday, August 3 we slept in and relaxed at the hotel for a bit. We only had three places visit before our 5:00 pm flight home. What a treat to have a leisurely morning! We packed, checked out, and then drove just under a mile across the North Dakota - Minnesota border to the town of Moorhead. Our destination was the Hjemkomst Center

The Hjemkomst Center is home to the Hjemkomst Viking Ship.

The Hjemkompst (Norwegian for 'homecoming') is a full-scale replica of a Viking ship from approximately 800 CE. What is it doing in western Minnesota? In 1971, Robert Asp decided to build this ship and sail it to his ancestral homeland in Norway. 

Asp lived long enough to complete the ship, but died before it sailed. His four children and 8 others successfully sailed to Norway in 1982. This video is absolutely fascinating. 

Tight quarters for 12 people. I can't even imagine doing this voluntarily. 

The Hjemkomst Center is also home to the Moorhead Stave Church. It is a replica of the Hopperstad Stave Church in Vik, Norway. We took a guided tour. 


Since this was our second stave church tour in five days, we recognized this little window right away. 


There are two floors of exhibits about Moorhead and Clay County at the Hjemkomst Center as well. 

We crossed back into Fargo for lunch at the Sons of Norway Kringen Lodge. I'd read that it was a great place to get Norwegian dishes and that they serve excellent pie on Thursday. 

It's not a conventional restaurant experience, as it is a fraternal lodge first and a restaurant second. You pick up sides and desserts from a buffet, order your entrees, pay, and sit. They bring the entrees to you when they're ready. 

The decor is very Norwegian. I am not very Norwegian (Ancestry.com says 2%). 

The menu changes often, so we weren't able to try some of the Norwegian dishes we were most curious about, but we did have really good food. We shared two entrees (meatballs with lingonberries and an Uff-da burger, which is a burger with onions and lingonberry sauce), chicken and wild rice soup, and two slices of pie. 

See that shirt Steve is wearing? I actually made two different sets of matching t-shirts for us to wear on the trip. The second set looks like this:

Our last destination was the Fargo Air Museum. It's located next to the airport, making it a great place to visit right before we turned in our rental car. 

The museum includes two large hangars with aircraft, educational displays, and more. 

They were running a summer camp while we were there. The campers were having a paper airplane contest that looked like a lot of fun. 

My favorite exhibit was this one about Andrew DeLaPena

They were playing the movie in a kids' corner. 

After an enjoyable visit at the Fargo Air Museum, we drove the short distance to the airport, turned in our rental car, and went to check in our baggage. We were literally the only people there. It was so weird. 

One person showed up as we were leaving the area. Now instead of being the only three people in the airport, there was a fourth!

We headed to security and found this: 

No passengers. No TSA agents. A big gate across the security entrance. It was baffling. Security was closed? How? Why? Now what? 

We stood there for a few minutes before a TSA agent came over and said they were on break and would open up in 45 minutes or so. He guessed (correctly, because there are so few flights out of Fargo) that we were on the 5:04 flight to Denver. He told us to sit. We sat. Alone. No sign of the woman that checked her baggage. She had to have been in the Food/Lounge, Gift Shop, or outdoors the whole time; we could see the restrooms from where we were sitting and there's literally nowhere else to go.  

After about 40 minutes, there were a handful of other passengers (literally 5) waiting for the security checkpoint to open. It did and we got through quickly. We went to Gate 5 (of 5) to wait for our plane. Eventually the gate area filled and it was almost time to go.

When we should have been boarding, we learned that there were storms in Denver and that we were delayed. Our connection from Denver to Sacramento was still possible, but tight. Then, a ground stop in Denver that made it impossible to catch our connection. Steve booked a later connection; there are many flights each day from Denver to Sac. Our flight was further delayed. Eventually, after 3 hours of delays, we boarded. We could make our connection, maybe, but barely....

And then as we were on the runway, the captain announced another there was another ground stop in Denver. Aargh. They turned off the fasten seatbelt sign, encouraged us to get up, and brought around snacks. The plane stayed right there on the runway; no other flights were taking off or landing any time soon. Hedging our bets that our flight would eventually go but that we couldn't catch our connection, Steve booked a hotel in Denver. We rebooked our connection for the following morning and made sure our checked luggage would come off the plane with us in Denver. Our flight did go and we landed safely around 10:00 pm local. I had not planned for Colorado to be a part of this trip, but there we were. 

Our luggage was supposed to be on the carousel, but it wasn't. Our air tags showed they were indeed with us in Denver, but nowhere near baggage claim. The person at the claims desk said there was as 4-6 hour backlog in getting luggage onto the carousel. We noped out of there and waited with thousands of other stranded passengers trying to get to hotels. We finally made it around 11:30 pm. I was the only one of the three of us who had toiletries in my carry-on and none of us had a change of clothes. The hotel gave Steve and Trevor toothpaste, toothbrushes, a comb, and 5 bars of soap. (??) We crashed into bed.

And so it was that we were waiting for a shuttle to the Denver airport on Friday, August 4, wearing the same clothes as the previous day. 

The airport was crowded, but we'd allowed plenty of time to get through security. We checked our air tags when we got to the airport and learned that our luggage had taken the first flight to Sacramento, beating us by many hours. 

Fortunately, our flight left on time, our baggage was waiting for us in Sacramento, and our amazing friend Suzzi was there to pick us up. 

Traveling home was a pain, but the trip as a whole was fantastic. We have so many great memories of our time in the Dakotas!