2/23/24

Bash Bowl 2024: Happy Holidays 2023

After scrapping our family photo from Christmas for Bash Bowl Game 1, I used the prompt a second time to scrap our holiday card. Between the colors I used and the fact that the photo was taken in July, this is officially the least-Christmasy Christmas layout I've ever made. 

Happy Holidays 2023 (affiliate link)

I used three of the Game 1 prompts for this page. Maybe. Let me know if you think I deserve all three points. 
  • I feel confident that the "may your days be merry & bright" sticker counts for a song lyric. That's one point. 
  • I'm fairly confident that the metallic star stickers are shiny. Two points. 
  • Do my background stripes count as a rainbow? I cut apart a striped paper and rearranged the colors into rainbow order. Without red, orange, or purple, it's half a rainbow at best. But it wouldn't be on my page that way without the prompt. I don't think half points are allowed, but I'm calling this two and a half points!
Trevor has had the previous week off from high school (college classes still met), so he and I took two local field trips as part of his Senior Project. I'll tell you about them next week. 

2/22/24

Bash Bowl 2024: Christmas 2023

Bash Bowl is back and I'm excited to be playing along! There are some changes this year: there are three 1-point elements (previously there were five) and one 2-point element per game with a 5-point touchdown (instead of 7); we do not need to submit a 'before' photo; and each game is only three days long. I'm playing for the Scrappin' Banshees this year. Goooo Banshees!

Here is the playbook for Game 1: 


I was not happy when I saw this first playbook. The pictures I printed wouldn't make sense with a rainbow, and I couldn't think of any song lyrics or quotes that fit them either. I don't use a lot of shiny stuff in general, and I don't like interactive elements that get hidden in a page protector. Ugh. I could force all of those onto a page, but I wouldn't be happy with the results. I decided to just go for a single point: shiny. 

I matted our group photo from Christmas, then used shiny gold tape and a fun patterned paper to create a background that looked like gift wrap. As I was looking for embellishments, I found a vellum sticker with Christmas song lyrics on it! I adhered it directly to the photo, added the other embellishments, and finished with the date. Two points for the Banshees!

Christmas 2023 (affiliate link)

This is a rare page from me with no journaling. But I felt like whatever I would write ("We hosted Steve's family for Christmas 2023.") wouldn't add anything to the page. One could argue that future generations won't recognize the people, but: a) I have no confidence that my only child is going to keep my scrapbooks and pass them on to those future generations; b) everyone's name appears on other pages within the same scrapbook; and c) I can just list the names here. Top row left: Steve's sister Teri, his aunt Lois, his mom Pat, his dad Dave, and Steve. Bottom row: Steve's wife Cindy (aka, me) and his son Trevor. Everyone has the last name deRosier - Pat and me by marriage and everyone else by birth. You're welcome, future generations!

2/21/24

CreativeLive: iPhone Photography and Mobile Photography

One of my creative resolutions for 2024 is to take two creative classes. I intentionally left that goal broad (as opposed to specifying something like painting or cake decorating) so that I could take advantage of opportunities as they arose. I'm glad I did. Otherwise, I wouldn't necessarily have stumbled on this outstanding iPhone Photography and Mobile Photography class by Philip Ebiner for CreativeLive (affiliate link here and below). 


After a lifetime of using a proper camera, I've only starting using my phone for photography fairly recently. I know the basics, but definitely needed this class to help me realize the full potential of my iPhone. After a great introduction to the benefits of mobile photography, this class started with technical basics (exposure, focal length, lighting) before moving on to the more creative basics (composition and story). The instructor did an amazing job of presenting a topic, then walking you through it with many examples. I loved all of the real-world practice sessions. The class covered panoramic, portrait, selfie, and timelapse modes, editing options, and different ways of sharing photos. 

This class was exactly what I needed to feel more confident taking photos with my iPhone. I've been practicing a lot and I can definitely see improvements after taking the class. There's one area I'm still struggling with, however, and that is photographing an uncooperative subject. Occasionally I luck out and get acceptable pictures straight out of the camera....

  

... but most of the time I my subject comes racing at me and nose-bonks the camera before I get a shot. These are the best of the many, many nose-bonk shots I've taken. 

  

CreativeLive does offer pet photography classes, but none appears to address the unique challenges of photographing rabbits!

2/20/24

Annual Survey of Museum-Goers

Each year, the American Alliance of Museums conducts a survey of museum-goers on behalf of participating member museums.  


I visit a LOT of museums each year, so it's not unusual for me to receive surveys from a handful of different museums. Each collects and interprets their own data. While I don't think less of non-participating museums (many are already great and packed with visitors), I do appreciate those museums who opt to participate. They obviously value their guests' opinions and are striving to improve. 

I just received my first AAM survey of 2024. It happened to come from the outstanding Nascar Hall of Fame, which we visited in January 2022. I have nothing but good things to say about the Nascar HOF. Even people with zero interest in car racing (like me) will enjoy the diversity of exhibits that cover the history, technological advances, key people, and necessary skill that goes into the sport. Anyway, I took the 10-minute survey and thought it would be fun to share a few of the non-site-specific questions (and my answers) with you. 


This was hard to answer. My response varies a lot depending on the type of museum. A hands-on science museum that targets children (like Museum of Discovery) could not be more different in audience, needs, and purpose than the Legacy Museum. A museum that covers a narrow subject (like Mill City Museum) is completely different than a museum that showcases a huge subject (like the Harvard Museum of Natural History.) I want different things from art museums than I do from history museums, science museums, or pop culture museums. Of the nine possible choices (besides None and Other), I selected six and I'm still wondering if I shouldn't have answered differently. 


I don't visit most museums more than once, but it's not because I don't want to. It's because they're thousands of miles from home. For the purposes of this question, I ignored all the museums I've visited that are more than an hour or two from home and answered just based on local museums. 


I visit around 40 different museums a year. While I may want to go more often, "Professional Museum Attendee" is not a paid job, as far as I'm aware. I'm visiting as many museums as is possible for a person who has a job, family, and household responsibilities. 


I wanted a choice of "All of the above" but settled for picking the two that matter most to me right now, in this stage of life. I would have answered differently 25 years ago, when I was more likely to visit museums alone (or with 32 children at a time). 


This question threw me at first. Do I use my imagination in museums? At first I thought I didn't, but then I realized that good, immersive history museums are all about imagination. Art museums inspire me to create, which definitely uses imagination. I'm not a "time travel to the future" kind of person, so that doesn't appeal to me. 

There were a lot more questions, but I'm going to stop here. If this interested you, I strongly recommend reading the following reports: 

I'd love to hear your thoughts!


2/19/24

Bread Rose Wreath

Remember the rose wreath that I made out of air-dry clay? I made an edible version (bread dough instead of clay). 


The shaping process was somewhat similar, but the bread dough was much more difficult to manipulate than the clay. Still, it was a fun experiment with delicious results. I used the same basic recipe as for the Sixty-Minute Cloverleaf Rolls, then veered off in a different direction for the shaping and baking. 


---------


Bread Rose Wreath


                                                    3.5 to 4.5 cups flour                            1 cup milk
                                                    3 tablespoons sugar                            1/2 cup water
                                                    1 teaspoon salt                                    1/4 cup butter
                                                    2 packages Fleishmann's yeast


In a large bowl, mix 1.5 cups flour with the sugar, salt, and yeast. Set it aside. Combine milk, water, and butter in a saucepan (or microwavable bowl) and heat until liquids are 120-130°F. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat at medium speed for two minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 0.5 cup flour and beat at high speed for two minutes. Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead until soft and elastic, approximately 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover, then place in a warm place (approximately 98°F) for 15 minutes. 

Turn the dough out onto the floured baking mat. Divide dough in quarters, then divide each quarter into three equal pieces. You should have 12 balls of dough, each the same size. Roll 9 of the balls into long ropes, approximately 18" long. Braid three ropes together. 


Curl the braid into a wreath and place it on a Silpat-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other 6 ropes to make three wreaths in all. 

Divide each remaining dough ball into 9 pieces. Roll the pieces into balls, then smoosh them with the ball of your hand to make petals. 


Pick up one petal, then roll it up to form the inside of the rose. Pick up the next petal and roll it around the center of the rose. Continue the process with the rest of the petals. Place the finished rose on the baking sheet.  

Loosely cover the dough and let rise in a warm place, for approximately 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F. Bake for 15, then check the roses for doneness. Remove them from the oven and bake the wreaths for another 10 minutes or until done. While the wreaths are still hot, nestle the roses into the wreaths. Let the bread cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. 


Shop my affiliate links! 

                                  Silpat                                            Sili Bake                                         Fleischmann's Yeast

2/16/24

Johnny Cash Has Been Everywhere... But Have I?

Over Christmas, Trevor introduced me to Jet Lag: The Game. It's basically Gen Z YouTubers playing a much shorter version of the Amazing Race. Three friends (and sometimes a fourth guest) compete, solving challenges as they travel. I started watching the current season and am now going back to watch the first seasons. In one episode, one of the duos had to memorize all of the place names in Johnny Cash's version of "I've Been Everywhere." 

This is not an easy task. Take a listen. 

 

Before I go on, I want to acknowledge that this is not the original version of the song. The original I've Been Everywhere was written in 1959 by Geoff Mack, featuring Australian place names. After becoming a hit in Australia, Mack rewrote the lyrics for Canadian musician Hank Snow in 1962, using a North American atlas. Johnny Cash did not release his recording until 1996. There are actually at least 131 versions of the song that exist, adapted for New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, Finland, Germany, and many other places. In short, a lot of different people have recorded a lot of different versions of this novelty song. 

Just looking at Cash's version the song, there's some disagreement about some of the locations. Between possible mispronunciations and multiple places with the same name, it's unclear exactly what Mack intended. This website tracks Cash's distance traveled, but some of the places are different than appear in this List Challenge, for example. You can see some of the discrepancies in the notes on the Wikipedia page. This is Wikipedia's map:


I was curious to see if I'd been "everywhere." Below you'll find "everywhere" that Johnny Cash has been, divided by verse. I've highlighted all the places I've been, with links to the ones I've mentioned on the blog. 


I've Been Everywhere


Verse 1:
Winnemucca, Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota, Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma, Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma, Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo, Tocopilla, Barranquilla, Padilla

(Nine out of 24. I'm not off to a very good start. And now I can officially say I have not been everywhere.)

Verse 2:
Boston, Charleston, Dayton, Louisiana, Washington, Houston, Kingston, Texarkana, Monterey, Ferriday, Santa Fe, Tallapoosa, Glen Rock, Black Rock, Little Rock, Oskaloosa, Tennessee, Hennessey, Chicopee, Spirit Lake, Grand Lake, Devils Lake, Crater Lake.

(Ten, for a total of 19 out of 47.)

Verse 3:
Louisville, Nashville, Knoxville, Ombabika, Schefferville, Jacksonville, Waterville, Costa Rica, Pittsfield, Springfield, Bakersfield, Shreveport, Hackensack, Cadillac, Fond du Lac, Davenport, Idaho, Jellico, Argentina, Diamantina, Pasadena, Catalina

(Seven this time. I've been to the biggest Springfield, but apparently not the right one. 26 out of 69.) 

Verse 4:
Pittsburgh, Parkersburg, Gravelbourg, Colorado, Ellensburg, Rexburg, Vicksburg, El Dorado, Larimore, Atmore, Haverstraw, Chatanika, Chaska, Nebraska, Alaska, Opelika, Baraboo, Waterloo, Kalamazoo, Kansas City, Sioux City, Cedar City, and Dodge City.

 (Only five more. 31 out of 92.)


I've officially been to 33.7% of everywhere. Not great, but it's a start. Quite a few locations are on my Future Travels list, so I should be able to bump up my percentage in the next few years. 

2/15/24

Biodiversity Museum Day at UC Davis

Last Saturday, Trevor and I went to Biodiversity Museum Day at UC Davis. This kid-friendly, free Open House event is on a much, much smaller scale than Picnic Day, but is another great opportunity for the public to learn more about the incredible teaching and research that takes place at UCD. This was the 13th year of Biodiversity Museum Day, but the first time we attended. 


Trevor has applied to UC Davis in hopes of studying Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, (he should hear in mid-March.... fingers crossed!) so this was a great opportunity for him to check out the department and see the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, which is not normally open to the public. 

We worked a shift at the Food Bank with the Scouts that morning and the Scouts served at a crab feed in the evening, so unfortunately we didn't have time to visit all of the offerings at Biodiversity Museum Day. But what we did see was great. We started with the Phaff Yeast Culture Collection at the Robert Mondavi Institute. We toured the brewery and food processing plant, looked at a bunch of exhibits, and took an incredibly difficult trivia quiz about yeast. 


We did poorly on the quiz, but had a lot of fun. The prizes were these budding Super Yeast guys. 


I would have loved to have walked the length of the Arboretum and checked out their Habitat Garden exhibits, but I had to settle for a quick view from a bridge. 


Next stop: the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology. 


As I said before, this museum is not open to the public, so it is not set up for hundreds of people trying to see the exhibits. I didn't get photos of most of the displays. 


Other things I intentionally didn't photograph. In one space, there were about a dozen museum interns each preparing a wide variety of animal specimens for display. While it was extremely interesting, it was quite gruesome. For me, anyway. I'm not a blood and guts kind of person. 

The completed specimens were fascinating. I had a lot of questions. 


This exhibit is about identifying diving ducks.


The Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology was born in 1972, just like me. I literally didn't know it existed the entire time I was a student, as I never took any classes in the department. 


This was fascinating. Did you know that there's a peak date for passerine bird singing? It's June 13. Mark your calendars!


Our next stop was the Bohart Museum of Entomology



It was packed. So much so, that as I waited for my turn to squeeze through and glance at the exhibits, I spent time browsing their fascinating library. I would not have expected a 2" thick book on Mosquitos of the World, let alone two volumes! (Lucky you - that's an affiliate link, meaning you can buy the 2-volume set on Amazon. It's a bit pricy, so maybe you'd prefer the much more affordable and more kid-friendly Cricketology. )


There wasn't any maggot art, but I enjoyed this display of entomology origami. I especially like that there is a full tick and a hungry tick. 


Speaking of hungry, Trevor and I were. We would have loved to eat in the Dining Commons again, but since we were short on time, we took advantage of the quick service at a food truck. After eating, we went to see the Nematode Collection. (Insects before lunch, worms after lunch. Nothing weird about that.) No photos - it was ridiculously crowded. I did take a photo outside. It was a gorgeous day. 


Our final stop on Biodiversity Museum Day was at the California Raptor Center

  


This is where Trevor did his Eagle Scout project, two years ago. It was really neat to see so many people posing in front of the silhouettes. 


It was also great to see the gorgeous tile wall they've added to the museum! 



So what didn't we see during our time at Biodiversity Museum Day? A lot. We skipped the Anthropology Museum, the Arboretum, the Botanical Conservatory, the Center for Plant Diversity, and the Paleontology Collection. Maybe next year! 


2/14/24

Lucky Numbers Math Game for Kids (Decimal Place Value + Probability)

Back in my teaching days, I loved playing games with my students. It's such a fun way to introduce or reinforce a concept. I particularly enjoyed math games, as did the kids. One of our favorites was one I called Lucky Numbers. 

The beauty of Lucky Numbers is that you can play with any size group - we regularly played as a whole classroom. A single round is really short, so you can squeeze in a game in the awkward three minutes before dismissal, or during a 10-minute rainy day recess. All you need is a single 10-sided die (affiliate link here and below). 


Before I get to the game, I have to talk about kids and dice. Kids LOVE dice. Every single student I ever had liked playing with ordinary 6-sided dice. When I pulled out the 10-sided dice or the fraction dice, they'd go nuts. Kids who weren't ordinarily engaged during math time were practically falling out of their seats waiting for me to pass out the special dice and teach them the game we'd be playing. I never thought to do it, but honestly, I should have bought a bunch of dice and used them as rewards. Or a fundraiser! If I'd thought to have my students sell sparkly 10-sided dice back in the day, we could have paid for all of our field trips. These colorful 10-sided dice cost less than 13 cents a piece. I guarantee you we could have easily sold them for a dollar a piece. And if we'd done a blind purchase, where you pay your dollar to reach into the bag and pick a random color, we could have sold even more as people tried to get their favorite colors. 

Anyway, on to the game. The objective of Lucky Numbers is for students to learn decimal place value to the hundred thousandths, to understand what each position means, and to be able to accurately read a number with a decimal place. To play, each student needs a piece of paper and something to write with.  

On the chalkboard, draw a number of lines representing how many digits are in the target number. Around 5 is best. Have the kids copy this onto their paper. As an example, let's start with a number with three places to the left of the decimal points (hundreds) and two to the right of the decimal (hundredths). 


Roll the die and announce the number. (These huge dice are a hit in the classroom.) All players need to write that digit into one of the empty positions, trying to make the largest number possible. So if the digit is 9, the smartest location to put it is in the hundreds place. If the digit is 0, you'd put it in the hundredths place. Those are obvious - the other digits take some logic and some luck!

Here's a game in progress. Our pretend classroom is on our fourth round of the day. The student did great on their first round. 96.837 is a high number, but anyone who put the 9 in the tens place and the 8 in the ones place will beat it. The second round did not go well for this student, who was betting on a high digit coming up for the hundreds place and ended up with a 3. (Once a digit is written, you can't move it). In the third round, the student got the fourth highest possible number (9.820 would win, 9.802 and 8.920 would beat it). 


In the current (fourth) round, our pretend student put the four in the ones place. This is a good move. The next roll was a 5, which they put in the tens place. Now there's a three. Where should it go? Do you put it in the tenths place and hope that the next two rolls are higher than 3? Statistically speaking, yes, that's what you should do.

After the final roll, there are always immediate groans and cheers. After writing in my final digit, I would model how to read my number, then call on students to read their numbers. I emphasized using the place value chart to help them say the number correctly, which included saying "and" for the decimal point instead of "point." So 8.902 should be "8 and 902 thousandths" not "8 point 902." 


Anyone who scored higher than me AND could correctly pronounce their number (with help, if necessary) would earn a point. If I got the highest possible number, I earned the point. The points didn't really matter, of course, but the kids always got a kick out of beating me. And I got a kick out of seeing them learning while having so much fun. 

2/13/24

Welcome, Brayden!

For four and a half months, we've been sharing our house with a delightful foster rabbit named Brayden. He is absolutely adorable and I've taken a ton of pictures of him. I have a lot of ideas for layouts I want to make about Brayden. I started with a page featuring the photos from his first days here. 
 
Welcome, Brayden (affiliate link)

I like the page, but actually wish I had written less. No, that's not quite true. I wish I had written smaller. I'm happy with the story I told and wouldn't want to eliminate any of the details, but if I'd written smaller, there would be more white space at the bottom to balance things out. It's a minor thing, and the risk I take by leaving my journaling until the end and not pre-planning it in any way.

2/12/24

Atari Breakout Name Art

I was born in 1972, which means I was four years old when Atari Breakout debuted in 1976. I never played that original version with 8 rows of bricks. The Breakout of my childhood, with a 6-row rainbow of colors, was released in 1978 for the Atari 2600. I'm not sure exactly when our family got our Atari, but I'm guessing 1979. Breakout quickly became one of my favorite games. (Other games I remember playing a lot include: Adventure, Pitfall, Outlaw, Haunted House, and Night Driver.) I have a lot of fond memories of playing Atari with family and friends. Hence, Breakout Name Art. Affiliate links below. 

Name art inspired by Atari Breakout


Atari Breakout Name Art


Materials: 


Steps:


Use the paper trimmer to cut a piece of black cardstock so that it is approximately 10.5 x 11". You will be gluing it to a sheet of 12x12" grey paper. (Change the measurements accordingly if you're starting with paper that isn't 12x12". Basically, you want a wide border of grey to show on the top and narrow borders of grey to show on the sides.) Set the grey aside for now. 

Cut strips of red, pink, orange, yellow, green, and blue cardstock that are 3/8" tall and 11" wide. Glue them to the black cardstock. 


Use a piece of graph paper to translate your name into pixels. It may take some experimentation to get the spacing right. If you're struggling with a letter, try switching the capitalization; some letters are easier using either uppercase or lowercase. 

When you're happy with your name, transfer it (in pencil) to your Breakout rainbow. I colored in each letter as I went because I was confident about the spacing. You can see below that I've colored in CIND and that the Y is ready for black ink. 


Cut a strip of red paper for the paddle and glue it to the paper. Then cut a single pixel from the grey background paper and glue it in place. This is the ball. Orient the grey paper so that the cut part is at the bottom, then glue the black paper on top. This will hide the missing part of the grey paper. 

Name art inspired by Atari Breakout

If you're feeling nostalgia for Breakout (or never played it because you're too young), I strongly recommend getting an Atari Flashback! Yes, they are for sale and yes, they are just as awesome as you remember. Better, actually, because the games are preloaded instead of having to switch out cartridges. I even found a Breakout t-shirt on Amazon. It's available in a lot of colors, which I'd ordinarily appreciate, but Breakout has to have a black background or it's just not Breakout. I'm a purist that way.