5/21/24

Thoughts on State Colors

Until very recently, I assumed all 50 states had official state colors. Nope. Not even close. California has had official state colors since 1951 (and unofficially since 1875). Blue represents our beautiful sky and Gold represents the mineral that caused everyone to rush here in 1849, leading to statehood in 1850. Blue and Gold could just as easily represent the blue of our oceans and our golden hills. Together, these colors have always meant California to me.


Shockingly (to me anyway), only 13 states have official state colors. They include: California, Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Indiana, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Delaware. They are colored green on the map below. 


The states marked in yellow (Wyoming, Minnesota, Vermont, and New Hampshire) proposed the state colors shown, but the measures failed. Three other states (Ohio, New York, and Maryland), marked with pink, have unofficial colors that are used in state branding. 

Blue and Gold are so integral to California that I have a hard time understanding how so many states have not adopted state colors. On the other hand, I imagine that choosing colors could lead to two problems: similarity or unnecessary controversy. 

Similarity:
Look at the states that do have official colors. There's a lot of blue and gold. And many other states could make a good case for adopting blue and gold as well. Just like California, Alaska has blue skies and a major Gold Rush. Nebraska has its blue skies and golden wheat fields. Kansas, the Sunflower State, has huge blue skies and fields of golden flowers. If a majority of states choose the same official colors, what's the point of having them at all?

Controversy:
Minnesota's failed attempt to declare purple their state color demonstrates the potential controversy that comes from trying to get a bunch of legislators, each representing thousands of constituents, to agree on something that ultimately doesn't matter. Some were adamant that purple (representing both the artist Prince and the Minnesota Vikings) was the perfect choice, while others pointed out that Minnesota already has two named colors and that these represent the timeless beauty of Minnesota rather than modern culture. Perhaps most states are avoiding the inevitable fighting that would come with prioritizing one facet of their state over another. 

Like most things, it's more complicated than it appears at first glance. 

5/20/24

Grasshopper on the Glove

About a month ago, I shared a picture of Trevor holding a Swainson's hawk, which was one of the highlights of his year-long Senior Project. I scrapped that photo for the National Scrapbook Day Sketch Layout Challenge


This is the sketch we had to use: 


As you can see, I used a single 4x4 photo for my page, as well as horizontal strips of patterned paper above and below it. I rotated the tag and put my title on it, then scooted everything to the center of the page. Another fun challenge completed!

5/17/24

Very Cherry Color Palette Challenge

The Very Cherry Color Palette Challenge asked us to make something inspired by one of six gorgeous cherry-themed palettes: Cherry Blossom, Cherry Pie, Cherry Cabinets, Cherry Tomatoes, Cherry Limeade, and A Cherry on Top. Guess which I chose! 

Cherry Color Palette (affiliate link)

The answer, of course, is Cherry Limeade! As you can see, I used the darker red plus two of the greens to make my card. The punched circle was inspired by the cherry itself. 


We were allowed to use a single neutral (in my case, white) but very sparingly. I had to fight the temptation to add more. I could have put a strip of white behind the red washi tape so that the dots ended up white instead of green, but putting it directly on the pale green was more in line with the spirit of the assignment. This was a really fun challenge that pushed me creatively. I love that.

5/16/24

Choose a Number Challenge

Many of the challenges during the National Scrapbook Day event at A Cherry on Top specifically required scrapbooking, but others included cards or other papercrafting projects. The Choose a Number Challenge was all about cards. We had to choose a number that would determine what the card sketch and theme we'd be using. 

This is the card I entered in the challenge. Can you guess the required design elements and theme?

Cupcake Card (affiliate link)

Before you guess, take a look at this card. Each participant could only enter once, but since I had my cardmaking supplies out, I wanted to challenge myself to follow the same requirements in a way that would look completely different. 

Happy Birthday (affiliate link)

I'm sure by now you've guessed that the required theme was birthday. Did you also guess that the sketch had a horizontal band anchoring two different sized circles?  



The sketch came from Freshly Made Sketches, which is a new site to me. I poked around a bit and really like it. I especially like that there's so much inspiration for what to do with each sketch. There are some really beautiful cards based on this sketch!

5/15/24

Neighborhood Lawnmowers

I love where we live. Our neighborhood backs up to beautiful hills, green and covered with wildflowers in the late winter and spring, golden in the summer and fall. I love everything about our hills when they're green, but with the gold comes significant fire risk. When I first moved to this area 20+ years ago, city workers would come through and mow the hills regularly. A few years later, they started grazing cattle on the hills. The cows do a good job of keeping the grasses in check. 

This year, we had an especially wet winter and the grasses grew like crazy. We were delighted to see the ranchers dropping off a large flock of sheep, who got right to work. The sheep grazed on one hill for a few days, then the ranchers moved the fences so the sheep could chow down on the next hillside. It took about two weeks for the sheep to mow our hills. I loved walking by to see their progress. 

Neighborhood Lawnmower (affiliate link)

This page was inspired by the "All right, Mr. Demille I'm Ready for my close-up" Layout Challenge for National Scrapbook Day. There was only a single requirement: there must be a close-up photo. When I looked through my unscrapped printed photos, the only close-up I found was of this sheep. I fussy-cut around the sheep, then layered that photo over the photo of the hillside covered in sheep. I love the way the black space between the two pictures puts all the focus on that one particular neighborhood lawnmower. Another fun National Scrapbook Day challenge completed!

5/14/24

California is the Best State

Since I have been to all fifty states, I say with confidence that California is the best state. Now it's documented in the scrapbook. 


I used the P-R-O-M Layout Challenge on National Scrapbook Day to help choose the page elements: something starting with the letters P, R, O, and M. The letter P was easy: I used polka dot patterned paper as the background. Then I cut rectangles (R) of cardstock and used them as mats (M) for my photo collage and journaling box. I added the die-cut pieces to make a super simple visual triangle and loved how the layout looked. The beautiful photos of California totally popped. 

That left letter O. I didn't want to add anything more to the page except for journaling - no random oval or octagon, no octopus or ostrich. There are O items in the photo collage (orange poppies and the ocean) but that's not in the spirit of the challenge. I could use orange ink for the journaling, but I wanted to use red to balance the hearts. That's when I realized that I have a red journaling pen by Ooly. Yes! Challenge complete.

5/13/24

Decoupaged State Flag Heart Magnets

I still have a lot more National Scrapbook Day projects to share, but I wanted to show you a Mod Podge project first. Mod Podge is celebrating its 57th birthday this Friday, May 17. The Plaid Ambassadors are celebrating by using our favorite varieties of Mod Podge on a craft. I used Mod Podge Ultra (affiliate link here and throughout the post) to make state flag heart magnets for Washington, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Nebraska. Each of these states' flags features a design that would be way too difficult to paint like I did with the previous batch of flag magnets. Mod Podge to the rescue!
 



Decoupaged State Flag Heart Magnets


Materials: 


Steps: 


Follow the instructions to make salt dough hearts. When they are completely dry, paint them to match the background color of the flag. If the flag you want to make has a white background (like Massachusetts does), be sure to paint it too, even though the salt dough is white. 

To make the images that you'll be decoupaging onto the hearts, find an image of the flag you're making and copy it. Shrink it to the desired size, then print and cut. 


When the paint is completely dry, protect your work surface (I used newspapers and a box I use for spraying). Place each heart onto a plastic lid or small container so that it is raised off the bottom surface. Follow the directions on the bottle to shake the Mod Podge and spray it onto the hearts. 

Place each cut-out onto the heart while the Mod Podge is still wet. Let it dry, then add another coat over the top. Add an extra coat when that one is dry. 


When the Mod Podge is completely dry, turn over each heart and add a strip of magnet tape. Now your magnets are ready to hang on the fridge. 

5/10/24

#Thwarted (A Story of Bunnyproofing)

This layout about bunnyproofing is a great example of something I never would have made without the challenge prompt. The Blowing Bubbles Challenge required us to make a layout with only round elements. I don't use circles often in scrapbooking, and I'm certain that I've never made a page with nothing but circles. This was such a fun challenge and really pushed me to make something different. 
 
#Thwarted (affiliate link)

We've had a baby gate at the top of our stairs since just after Trevor was born almost 18 years ago. We kept the gate closed briefly when he was crawling and then toddling, but he was such a cautious, rule-following child that we didn't need to close it for long. When Trevor was five, we adopted Trouble and the baby gate went into use full-time. Eventually, Trouble earned upstairs privileges. The gate remained open except when we traveled and reduced Trouble's territory to make it easier on the bunnysitter. 

When we welcomed Brayden into our home, he didn't even know how to use stairs. He was much, much more cautious than Trouble (who had immediately claimed the entire house as his own) and barely left a small area of the living room. So the gate stayed open. 

But Brayden was a quick learner, mastered the stairs, and became extremely interested in exploring the upstairs, which is entirely carpeted. Brayden doesn't like the slippery hardwood we have downstairs, so he's particularly fond of playing upstairs. Unfortunately, he is also fond of chewing the door frames upstairs when he's unsupervised, so the gate had to stay closed. 

But rabbits are nothing if not determined. Brayden, a 3-pound rabbit, figured out that he could just barely squeeze through the 2-inch gaps in the baby gate that kept 6-pound Trouble out. So Steve used a piece of plexiglass to cover the gaps. And with that, Brayden was thwarted. 

For now, anyway. 

5/9/24

Idaho Family Fun

I love a grid. Grids appeal to my love of structure and order. They're also the best way to scrap a lot of photos. I was really happy to see a Grid Layout Challenge on National Scrapbook Day. It gave me the chance to scrap pictures from the winter trip Trevor and I took to visit family in Idaho

Idaho Family Fun (affiliate link)

We were in Idaho from December 30 to January 4 and it snowed two of the days we were there. You probably can't see it in the scan, but the grey paper has a snowflake pattern. I like how subtle it is. The other two papers are from a Christmas collection. I cut the center out of the cream paper, then used the B-side to mat the grey paper and the A-side to make title and journaling blocks. I love the little hint of Christmas theming. I'm happy with how this page turned out. 

5/8/24

Celebrating 52 in Chinatown

This layout, about celebrating my 52nd birthday with a food tour in San Francisco's Chinatown, is a great example of why I love challenges so much. I chose practically every element because of the Mixed Manufacturer Layout Challenge from the National Scrapbook Day event at A Cherry on Top. In this challenge, we had to make a page with items from at least ten different manufacturers. And there's a twist - you also have to use one item you can't buy at a craft store. Can you spot that item?  
If you guessed the dark orange flower, you're right! I made it to coordinate with the two flower stickers. The rest of the items are: 
  1. Bazzill - gold cardstock
  2. Scenic Route - red patterned papers
  3. Echo Park - birthday lion sticker
  4. Jillibean Soup - present and 'One Year Older' die cuts
  5. BasicGrey - large orange flower sticker
  6. PhotoPlay - small yellow flower sticker
  7. We R Memory Keepers - gold washi tape
  8. Bella Blvd - 'adventure' sticker
  9. Me and My Big Ideas - tiny 'love' sticker, 'birthday' sticker, cake sticker, 'Now' sticker
  10. American Crafts - numbers
Technically, I also used four more manufacturers. I cut the papers and homemade flower with my Fiskars trimmer and scissors. I colored the homemade flower with Ohuhu markers and I adhered everything with a Tombow tape runner. For the journaling, I used a Zig pen. 

I'm really happy with how this page came out. It has a lot of elements on it, but ultimately it is still my clean and simple style. What a fun challenge!

5/7/24

Perfectly Imperfect Lionhead

My favorite day of the year, National Scrapbook Day, was on Saturday. As always, I spent the whole day scrapbooking, completing challenges, playing games, and chatting with friends. It was so much fun!

I'd heard that A Cherry on Top puts on a great NSD crop, so that's what I did this year. Oh my gosh, it was incredible! There were so many different and creative challenges and games. If I counted correctly, they had SIXTY challenges. And dozens of games. It was almost overwhelming how much was going on. But what a fantastic problem to have! The challenges were the perfect difficulty level for me and I love what I created. And the prizes! ACOT will be awarding 100 prizes once the challenges close. (Most of them are open until May 19 if you want to join in.)

I'll be sharing the projects I made over the next few weeks. Today's is about Brayden and I made it for the Cinco de Mayo Pick Five Challenge. We had to pick five items from a list of 12 to include on our page. I chose: only one picture; white title; punch (the heart); decorative edge scissors (on the right); and grid design paper.


Brayden is a lionhead rabbit, meaning he has a mane like a lion. When we first started fostering him, he was 10.5 months old and just had the mohawk (and whispy "skirt" fluffs on each flank). Right around his first birthday, the rest of Brayden's mane came in. It's super cute, especially when he tosses it like a woman in a shampoo commercial. 

This picture doesn't show the sides of his mane all that well, but it does show that Brayden is brachycephalic. Dog breeds like pugs or French bulldogs are prone to health issues because of the shortened skull; similarly, brachycephalic rabbits can face health issues, usually respiratory or dental. So far, thankfully, Brayden has been perfectly healthy. 

I am strongly opposed to selective breeding to create designer animals with these health risks. Worse, breeders' attempts to meet a breed standard means that any imperfect specimens are rejected. That can mean different things, ranging from bad (selling them as pets when there are already countless domestic rabbits without loving homes) to much, much worse. I don't know the circumstances behind Brayden's birth, but it's possible he's one of the thousands and thousands of lionheads who are intentionally bred and then rejected based on a single physical flaw. It's very upsetting. 

I titled this layout Perfectly Imperfect Lionhead. Brayden is perfectly imperfect. And we love him just the way he is. 

5/6/24

Fingerprint Heart Magnet for Mother's Day

On Friday, I shared an idea for a homemade Mother's Day heart magnet for one child to give to Mom. Today's idea, featuring fingerprint hearts, can be made by a group of siblings (for Mom) or cousins (for Grandma). Or, you can do like I did and include Mom and Dad to make a family heart. Affiliate links below. 




Fingerprint Heart Magnet for Mother's Day



Materials:


Steps: 


Paint the background - a blue sky and green grass. 


When that is dry, add fingerprint roses floating above the grass. To make the rose, add one fingerprint at a 45° angle to the left, then add a second fingerprint at a 45° angle to the right. It is easiest to do with a pointer finger. Use a pinky finger if you need smaller hearts to fit in more people. 


When the fingerprints are dry, paint stems and leaves under each flower. Then use a Sharpie to write each person's name above their flower. I added a dashed border around the edges to finish my heart. 


The final step is adding magnet tape to the back. Display your art on the refrigerator for everyone to enjoy. 

5/3/24

Fingerprint Flower Magnet for Mother's Day

Every mom I know loves gifts that are handmade by their children. This heart-shaped refrigerator magnet features a child's fingerprints, turned into roses. Affiliate links below. 



Fingerprint Flower Magnet for Mother's Day



Materials:


Steps: 


Paint the background of the heart with your desired colors. I made a blue wall and a white tabletop, but you can choose whatever colors you want. Then add a vase toward the right side of the heart. Mine is yellow.

When that is dry, add fingerprint flowers in the space above the vase. If a young child is doing this, they can use their pointer finger. If the child is older with fingers that are less petite, you might want to use the pinky finger. Then use a brush to paint a heart onto the vase.


When the fingerprints are dry, paint medium green leaf shapes in and around the flowers. Don't fill in all the spaces at first. Leave room to add dark green shapes. While I was waiting for the green paint to dry, I added a grey shadow and some texture to the tabletop. This is optional. 

When all the paint is dry, write "Happy Mother's Day!" on the left side using a Sharpie. I added a dashed border around the edges as a final touch. Then turn the heart over and add a strip of magnet tape.


This project is easily adapted for many other holidays and occasions. Birthdays, Valentine's Day, and even graduation come to mind. Just change out the message!

5/2/24

Rabbit Speed Dating (and Big News!)

We had been fostering Brayden for just under 7 months when we got a request to bring him to the next rabbit speed dating event with Contra Costa Rabbit Rescue. Hana, a 2-year old female rabbit, was looking for a companion. Maybe she and Brayden would hit it off and could be bonded. 

On April 27, I loaded Brayden into his carrier and took him to Pet Food Express in Walnut Creek. 


To be perfectly honest, I didn't want to bring him. Steve, Trevor, and I have grown very attached to Brayden and had talked a lot about adopting him ourselves. But we felt like we owed Brayden the chance to find a loving rabbit companion. By the time we got to Walnut Creek, I decided that this was it. If Brayden was meant to go to another home, so be it. But if he didn't hit it off with the bachelorette, we would adopt him. 

After securing Brayden in his enclosure, I met Hana and her family. I felt comfortable with them right away. It was clear they were loving bunny parents who could provide an excellent home for whatever bunny Hana selected. And Hana was just darling. 


Hana was a little nervous in this strange place and took about an hour to relax. In the meantime, Brayden had a pedicure and a photoshoot. 



I spent some time getting to know some of the other adoptable rabbits. This is Clover. He's really friendly and had been binkying all over the place just before he flopped and I took this photo. 


This picture shows most of the Butterscotch Teens. The last time Brayden went to an adoption event, they were babies and there just for socialization. Now they're grown up, neutered, and ready to find their forever homes. 


We call this "bunstruction." Rabbits love destroying cardboard boxes - even the ones they rest in. 


These are the Butter Babies. They are the slightly younger siblings of the Butterscotch Teens. 




Their pregnant mother was rescued from a bad situation, then soon gave birth to the litter now known as the Butterscotch Teens. A month later, she had another litter, the Butter Babies. It's unknown if they're full- or half-siblings, but we do know that Mom was pregnant with both sets when she was rescued. Rabbits have a double uterus and are induced ovulators. Combined, those characteristics lead to a lot of baby rabbits. In this case, a single rescued rabbit ended up requiring vaccinations, neuter surgeries, and attempts to find homes for 16 rabbits instead of just the one. And this is not an unusual situation. Thank goodness for rabbit rescues who care for all these rabbits and do their best to find them good homes. 

Peach is a really sweet bun. His foster mom thought he was a girl, but when she took him for a spay, the vet got a surprise. Peach is intersex, with internal anatomy that is (well, was) 80% male. So Peach uses he/him pronouns. 


Scarlet and Violet are a bonded pair. Bonded rabbits cannot be adopted separately. If someone is looking to bond a single rabbit with an existing pair, the pair is treated as one entity. With luck, they become a bonded trio. There are special ways to bond two pairs into a quad


After plenty of time to get comfortable, Hana was relaxed and ready to start dating. Julie (Bunny Bonder Extraordinaire) is in the cage with the buns while Hana's parents look on. So far, so good!


One by one, Hana met potential friends. Most of the dates went fine, with the rabbits coexisting comfortably in the same space. 


Brayden was the seventh rabbit that Hana met. At first, Brayden was interacting with Julie and seemingly oblivious to Hana. 



He wanted to sniff every inch of the cage. 


Finally, some interaction! 


And then Brayden went back to sniffing the cage. Sigh. 


He wasn't the only one who mostly ignored his date. 


Hana and Samuel seemed to hit it off. 


When an initial date goes well, there is usually a second date, and then the real work begins. Good luck, Hana!

When the event ended, I brought Brayden home. When Steve and Trevor got home from their Scout trip, we discussed it and decided to make it official. Introducing Brayden deRosier!


Brayden will continue to be an only bun for awhile, but we hope to start taking him on speed dates of his own in the fall. I'm excited for the possibility of helping to rescue another deserving rabbit.