Not Your Mama’s Crafty Book

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It’s been a while, but I went to a crafty weekend a few weeks back. The second day I had a dire need for adhesive (“How can you need to buy more stuff? You have tons of stuff!” Andy asked. He obviously doesn’t understand adhesive.) I made a run to the craft store, and of course (since I was there ALL ALONE) I had to spend a few minutes or maybe thirty looking at EVERYTHING. It was nice to peruse, but I’m pleased to say the only thing I bought that was not adhesive was a two-pack of 8×8 scrapbooks on clearance for $3.

I thought about using the books to make some gifts, but then I figured maybe Anya would like one. When she saw it, she squealed. And then she claimed BOTH of them. I should not have been surprised. I let her use my funky scissors and gave her some old adhesive tab thingies I got from the free bin and pulled out my paper scrap bag and donated unused pictures from my last book. She worked on her “Crafty Book” for hours. Or at least maybe half an hour. It felt like hours to me. When she got her pages just right, she had her Daddy do the journaling for her, and I made the title for the front: “Crafty Book by Anya.”


After she finished her book, she began assembling her “Crafty Bag.” Into a small tote bag she put the funky scissors, adhesive tabs, picture bits, extra book, some markers, some crayons, some colored pencils, part of an old calendar, and basically half of the contents of her until-then-mostly-organized craft bins.

Today I was talking to one of my crafty friends at lunch about a convention we are going to in August, and Anya demanded to go, too. I said no because I am the Mean Mommie, but it was sort of hard to say it because, dude, she has her own crafty bag!

Miss Fancy Pants

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Anya’s aunt sent her a pretty dress and a zany swimsuit for her birthday. When Anya’s teacher told the class they’d get to play in the sprinklers the next afternoon, Anya knew right away what she was going to wear.

I’m not a big stickler about what Anya wears out of (or in) the house. My requirements are that whatever it is be mostly clean and mostly fit and not be so out of season as to cause fear of heat stroke or frostbite to rise in my heart. So, when Anya came out of her bedroom that morning in just her swimsuit, I paused for a bit. I really did want her to wear a bit more than a swimsuit to school, but I wasn’t sure how to say it without making a big deal out of it. Eventually I somehow managed to convince her that it would probably be nice to wear a dress or something over it until that afternoon when the sprinklers came out.

This is what she came up with.


In case you can’t tell, in addition to her swimsuit, she is wearing a tie-dyed tank top UNDERNEATH the suit and a froofy sparkly skirt pulled up under the tutu on the suit. This kid rocks.

The Cake Boss

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This year for Anya’s birthday party (which was over a month ago, yes), we shared the day with another little girl from school whose birthday is only a few days before Anya’s. They are in different classes, but nearly everyone Anya wanted to invite, the other girl wanted to invite, too, so it seemed like a good way to keep everyone from being over-birthdayed. It was sort of strange to coordinate with another family, especially since we parents don’t know each other all that well. Luckily one thing we two moms had in common was a fairly laid back approach to the event.

I’m not sure if we didn’t do a theme because it would have been tough to get both girls to agree on something or because we moms just didn’t feel like it. Either way, we didn’t have any sort of theme other than lets have some fun! We held the party at the school, and it was definitely nice to not have to worry about having a bunch of people over (no extra cleaning!). Plus there was lots of room for the kids to run around outside (until it started raining, at least).

If you are considering holding a joint birthday party for your child, I will warn you about one thing. Present-opening time is CHAOS. (Perhaps this is a look at what it’s like to have two kids at Christmas?)


Each birthday girl had her own cake. I suppose (going back to the theme thing) if we’d had a theme, we could have made one giant sheet cake, but since we didn’t and since both girls had different ideas about what they wanted and since there were going to be a LOT of people there, we had two cakes. For about two weeks before the event, Anya insisted she wanted a strawberry cake. I even pureed up the last of our frozen garden strawberries to make one, but before I got to that point she changed her mind. She wanted a chocolate cake, of course. I had planned to make the strawberry cake from scratch, but when we switched to chocolate for some reason I felt the need to go with a box mix. We got to the store and, yup, she changed her mind again. She wanted a yellow cake. With chocolate frosting. And strawberries on top. So, I guess in a way all her ideas were mixed into one cake.


We made a two layer cake, but I’d planned on a big sheet cake so we had extra batter. A few cupcakes and a tiny space ship cake later, the batter (GREEN) was in the oven. After it cooled, which took FOREVER according to Anya, we frosted it and went to sleep. What a day!


The next morning, I whipped up some frosting and colored it according to Anya’s wishes. I filled up the decorating bags, and then Anya took over. I did help her squeeze the frosting out on the main cake, but she did all the designing. I was really impressed with how well she did. When she was satisfied with the frosting decoration, she added strawberries, and then TADA!


Anya decorated the cupcakes completely on her own. I got distracted doing something else, and then I turned around and BOOM. She was done. The cake was awesome, but the cupcakes were even more fabulously decorated. Perhaps from now on I should have her make my birthday cakes instead of Andy?



Her real birthday was on a school day, so we made some chocolate chip cookies to take to class.


Then we skipped out early, and Anya, Gramma, Grampa and I did what every normal person does for a 6-year-old’s birthday. We went to a plant nursery. What? Don’t you celebrate birthdays with plants? (I remember one birthday of mine about ten years ago, some of my friends in MI kidnapped me and took me to a nursery for my birthday. One of the plants I got that day is growing right now in my backyard, and I think of those friends every time I see it.) This nursery had about a dozen greenhouses in two rows, each with a number on it. Anya ran from greenhouse to greenhouse (in order, of course!) and squealed when she entered each one. She picked out some tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, cucumbers, herbs, and a LOT of different kinds of flowers.


That night we opened a few more presents.


And played with some presents.


And went to sleep happy.

Everything old is new again

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Last weekend I finished putting down the pictures for my 2010 scrapbook. (If you know anything about folks who scrapbook, you’ll know we are almost always behind. And we really like to talk about adhesives.) So, unlike most scrapbook folks I’ve met, I approach my books with an assembly-line mentality.

Step 1: organize all pictures and memorabilia chronologically
Step 2: put down all pictures with some decorative paper
Step 3: journal on all pages (that’s where you write the wordy stuff)
Step 4: add all titles

This works for me. I’ve found that each of these steps requires a different sort of thinking and way of working, and when I tried to do all the steps for each set of pages one spread at a time, I got bogged down. I’m going to say that learning this (how I work) is why I am three years behind. Yeah, that’s why. (Of course there are those rare people — I know only one — who are current on their books, so they can do one spread at a time, all parts at once, easy peasy.)

So yeah, last weekend I finished Step 2 on 2010. To prepare for Step 3, I printed out all my 2010 blog posts. What a great help that is for me to remember what was going on in all those cool pictures. Today I started journaling for 2010 and was all, “Yay! Happy blog posts to help me” and then I was all, “Damn, I’ve only written about 10 posts in 2012 and 2013 combined. What the bleep will I write in those books?” This is a realization I have every six months or so, and then I start blogging again really faithfully. For about a week and a half. And then I forget. And then I finish Steps 1 and 2 of the next book. And then I remember.

An interesting thing about this is that by writing this post about how I haven’t been writing posts, I am fulfilling an inner need to write a post. But I’m not really writing about anything that would help with my next scrapbook. Unless I decided to make a scrapbook about scrapbooking. (I just had to google “a scrapbook about making a scrapbook.” I didn’t really find anything, but I didn’t try too hard.)

If I made a scrapbook of scrapbooking, what would I put on the cover page? It’d be neat to take a photo of the finished book for the cover, but how can I take a picture of it if I need the picture of it to finish it so I can take the picture so I can finish it? This is harder than I imagined!

So, the first spread could be of me going to the store to buy a book. I could include my sales receipt and maybe a copy of the craft store flier for that week; a copy of the coupon I used. I suppose before that I could have a photo of me digging through my stuff to see if I already had a book I could use, but then I’d have to take a picture of me throwing my arms up in resignation after three giant bags of yarn and a dozen paint bottles fall on my head when I open the craft closet.

The second spread would be me picking out which pictures to send to print and then getting the package in the mail and then sorting the pictures. Again we’re back to the chicken and the egg thing because I’d have to wait until I was done with the book so I had pictures to print so I could take pictures of me printing the pictures.

What next? Perhaps a spread where I take a scrapbook hiatus and make cards for a few months? Or maybe a montage from all the times I missed scrapbook opportunities with my friends because I was (a) sick, (b) snowed in, (c) out of town, (d) busy with a school or other kid-related function, or (c) incredibly forgetful.

I’d definitely need to include a spread or two of me going back to the craft store a few dozen times to get the doodads I need. And some of me climbing through the craft closets and stomping my feet when I can’t find what I need (which, of course, means I need to go back to the craft store). Perhaps I could write a short poem for this section called, “Where the bleep is my adhesive gun?”

There’d be a few pages of me cropping pictures and cutting paper and staring at paper and cutting more paper and sticking pictures and paper on cardstock and holding the results in the air and blinking a lot and sighing and pondering and going to get a snack.

Of course there would be some pages about crops/crafty days with friends. I’d journal some of the gossip (names removed to protect the innocent). I’d rate the comfort level of the chairs at the different crop locations. If I was feeling particularly spunky, perhaps I’d even do something daring like snitch one embellishment from each cropper present to use on these pages. Well, no. I’d probably just ask each person for something, and they’d give me something because crafters are generally like that.

And there would be some really dark pages there towards the end. From when I hit that super bleak spot around the end of Step 3 when I realize all I have left (ALL! HA!) is cutting 30+ titles out on the cricut and then xyroning them onto the pages. These would be tales of torture. Of the taunting light at the end of the tunnel hovering just out of reach, and no matter how fast you run the tunnel keeps getting longer so the light is always the same distance away and it’s just you stuck in that tunnel with the mechanical whine of the cricut and then you put the letters in the xyron backwards or you lose the “o” for “Snow Day” and you are all out of the exact right shade of white that you used for “Snw Day” or even worse yet your letters get all mixed up and you forget what you spelled out and then you have to play a twisted game of “Wheel of Fortune” to try and figure out what you wanted to say. These pages would be on black card stock.

The next spread would be the one where I start to wonder if the book really needs titles at all. There’d be pictures of me sitting, gazing off into the distance, thinking very hard about calling the book done as is. But then there would be a photo of me with a look of resolve on my face and maybe a rainbow sticker over my head as I realize I just need to push on.

At the end, I’d probably need to do a page with gratitude and acknowledgement of all those who’d helped me. Perhaps a list of the supplies I’d used. Because that’s what scrapbook people do. “This is the Smooshie line of paper from X,Y, and Z company. And the flower embellishments came from Flibbertygibbets.” Of course my list would be more like, “I used some paper I got from the free pile at the last crop, and the flowers were from…oh wait, was I supposed to put embellishments on this thing? Crap! Does that meant there is a Step 5? Am I not done yet! What the FNURFLE?”

The very, very last page, the one at the end that isn’t a spread but is just one page…that would be a photo of me with a gleam in my eye as I hold a stack of photos and another empty book and there would be a thought bubble over my head that says, “YAY! Time to start a new book! I can’t wait!”


Blub Blub

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Ever since The Winter of Aquatic Death, I’ve been ignoring the aquarium. We are down to two tiny fish, a swarm of planaria, and some algae. Both the light bulbs burnt out several weeks ago. The water was a bit cloudy. I was even starting to use my secret mind powers (which I generally only use on dishes and laundry) to make the entire aquarium disappear. Anya told me she wanted to get some more fish, but I’m not going to put them into a home that resembles an underwater Dickinson orphanage. What do I do when things get messy? Clean Sweep ’em!

I couldn’t really take everything out of the tank and put it into piles, so instead I went to the pet store and bought new light bulbs. I am so wild and crazy. Even wilder and crazier than that? I didn’t leave the light bulbs in the car for two weeks. I didn’t let them get lost on the kitchen table for an entire season! Nope. I replaced the light bulbs right when I got home. I walked in the door, dropped my stuff on the floor, and changed those light bulbs! I really think I deserve a gold star for that alone, but it doesn’t stop there. Oh no, it does not.

After the tank was once again illuminated, I could see how much algae was growing on the sides, so I decided to scrub that off. Then I noticed all the flotsam dangling off the plastic plants and the princess castle. Those definitely needed to come out for a good washing. And heck, if I’m going to do that, why not break out the gravel sucker and suck up some muck? WOO! I really need to remember how much fun gravel muck sucking is because if I do, maybe I’d do it more often. It’s so much fun it’s sort of dangerous since I can easily get distracted by all the fun and suck up a fish or suck out so much water the fish end up flopping around on the gravel like in that horrible asthma commercial. Don’t worry. I managed to contain my fun adequately.

The aquarium is now beautiful and clean and tidy. I even rearranged the plants and other decorative items to give it a total Clean Sweep make over. The fish seem happy. I’m not so sure about the planaria, and I’m hoping the algae has suffered serious setbacks. But who cares about them? It’s time for more fish!

IMG_0036 (Any store is a toy store when you are Anya.)

Yearlong Crafty Swap – Month 2

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My packet maker, Ginger, is a big-time stamper, and so it makes sense that my swap packet has a lot of stamped images. See, you don’t actually have to give someone the stamp for them to use the image. You can stamp the images on card stock and share them. Makes total sense, but for some reason this never occurred to me until I starting hanging out with Ginger. (Did you know there are digital stamps? Of course there are.) I haven’t done a lot with stamps even though I have quite a few. [There was that time I made my own stamps out of all sorts of weird things like pine needles and soda cups and clay pressed into air vent grates, but that’s sort of different.] This month’s swap I decided I’d take some stamped images on my journey out of my comfort zone.

While there are a billion different colors of stamp pads out there, stamped images definitely aren’t limited to just the one color that the stamp is stamped in. That is definitely an option, as is using markers to color onto the stamp to make the image. But as long as you are just stamping, there’s all that white space in the images just begging for color. Ginger and Kristy (another big-time stamper) spend a lot of time coloring, and while I like coloring myself, I generally prefer the crayon-in-book sort. Not only is my stamp-coloring-in experience newbie level, so is my stamp-coloring-in marker collection.

Although our swap cards don’t have to be the same for all 6 cards we make each month, I personally like it when the ones I am making are. I didn’t have six of any one image, but I had two very similar images with three copies each. I colored the images, and with each one finished my appreciation grew for the skill and work Ginger and Kristy (and other stampers) put into their colored images.


The colored images were okay, but I was deeply bothered by the vampire-pale skin the girls had. My marker collection didn’t have anything remotely skin toned that wouldn’t cover up the face details. I pondered colored pencils, but somehow mixing pencils and markers seemed a lot like putting oregano on strawberry cake. (Anya has been bugging me to make strawberry cake for about two weeks. But not with oregano.) The images sat for about a week until I had a little bit of time to myself, and then I started heating up the kettle.

I decided to give my painstakingly colored gals a tea bath. I thought the markers I’d used were non-water-soluable, but since I didn’t have any images to spare I didn’t want to take a chance. I used my keen experimenting skills and created some sample pieces to use with different tea-staining methods.


In this image, the rainbow strip on the bottom was directly submersed into the tea. The colors ran a lot. I tried another strip where I blotted the tea onto the paper with a paintbrush. The colors still ran, but the borders seemed to hold better. I tried using the paintbrush blotting on one image, and although the colors ran more than I wanted, I was sort of committed. By the time I’d finished all six pieces, I was feeling better about how the images looked. In fact, I was really digging how the colors washed out so the stamped details below came through. I also liked how the borders ran together and how everything was softer and less bright-n-fresh-n-new looking.


After the images dried, they were a bit curled. I roughed up the edges with my edge-distressing thingy (does it have a real name?), and I pondered leaving the images like that. But, it just didn’t seem quite right. I put the images back in the bag and pondered some more. And went to Michael’s. And bought Modge Podge. I don’t think I’ve used Modge Podge since I was a kid and my Mom helped me decoupage some favorite post cards onto wooden plaques to hang on the wall. I put the images onto some orange card stock and then modged over the whole thing.


When the Modge Podge dried, I finally felt like the images were done. Phew. I pulled out some patterned paper from my swap packet and then dug into my collection for blank cards, some twine (that came with the tags I bought for Month 1), pattern-cutting scissors, and the corner rounder. Wham! Bam! Tie! Glue! Snip!


I handed out four of the six cards at our crafty day yesterday. The cards are definitely more awesome in person than in these not-so-awesome photos. Everyone seemed to like them. At least, no one used their card as a coaster or a blotter or a shim under a wobbly table leg.

So, that’s Month 2 done and here’s March only a wee bit done. Dare I start Month 3, or should I wait to spread out the fun?

The Pot Maker

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I bet if everyone knew you could buy a Pot Maker, which turns ordinary newspaper into ordinary pot, well, I bet things would be different.


Darn. I really feel like I should be able to come up with some awesome pot jokes given this great prop, but I see now that I didn’t even take the photo correctly. You can’t even tell it’s a Pot Maker. It could be a Bot Maker or a Rot Maker or a rare and coveted 3ot Maker.

So, Spring is on the horizon, and [even though I told Andy at one point last summer when the weeds had taken over and the groundhogs had eaten the last cucumber vine: “the gardening part of me is dead”] I decided to give gardening another go this year. Ever since we moved here oh so many years ago (SEVEN!), we’ve tried to garden and mostly failed. Last year was the best, but still pretty much all we got were potatoes and pumpkins. This is sort of embarrassing what with me supposedly being a Master Gardener(tm). This year, though…this year is going to be different! Yah! We’ll have potatoes AND pumpkins AND one more thing! It may even be something we like to eat!

I’ve had my Bot Maker for probably about 15 years, and I’ve never used it. What with my newly found gardening zest and determination, now seemed like a good time to break it in. Anya is absolutely in love with the Rot Maker. Even though we didn’t have any newspaper last night, we still had to make some pot…s. We used some drawing paper she’d doodled on, and it worked really well. Then today, we had to take it to school to show everyone how to make pot….s. I guess there wasn’t time to in class today to learn about making pot…..s, but the teacher said she’d love to have us bring the 3ot maker back another time. I don’t really intend to grow any plants from seeds, so I’m not sure what we’ll do with all the finished pot…..s. Want some?

Too much of anything, even pot making, is not good for anyone. [Plus we haven’t finished reading the weekly local newspaper yet. It just arrived today, and there’s a sudoku puzzle in there!] Because it’s still way too early here to plant anything and I want to keep my excitement alive and educate the kid and actually do something I’ve pinned on Pinterest….I bring you my Great Bean Experiment.


The original looks a bit more interesting. I clearly have too large a container and too small a bean to ever have my experiment Pinned. Hrmpf. I wonder if I get extra points for having FOUR beans instead of just one?

The experiment started yesterday, and not much has happened yet. No wee green sprouts. No fuzzy white mold. No giant stalks shooting up into the sky, which I freely admit I am glad about because we got a bunch of snow yesterday and it is COLD and I am pretty sure our insurance wouldn’t cover that. I suppose if one day the beans do sprout, we’ll be prepared what with all the pot….s.

The only rule in Chess Club is…

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Actually there are quite a few rules in Chess Club because…well, chess, you know? You can’t be moving your pieces about willy nilly and you can’t be calling the knights “horsies” or the rooks “castles” or the pawns the “lowly peons.”

Can you believe my kid is in Chess Club? This is the part where it would be fun to tell you about how Anya is a chess genius and how she plans to sweep the world’s chess tournaments in 2013, but pretty much she plays a beginner’s chess game with her buddy E. for about half an hour and then runs around chasing balloons. Also, apparently, there may be cookies involved. (No one told me this, or I’d have joined Chess Club, too.) Balloon chasing and cookies aside, I still think it’s pretty cool.


It all started the Thursday afternoon before the school’s Mardi Gras Ball. (If you haven’t read about it, you should. It was a blast! Don’t worry if you missed it; you can join us next year!) I was running around school putting things together to take over the hall for the party, and Anya stumbled upon Chess Club, where three of her friends were engrossed over a game. Anya asked me if she could watch them, and she did. She stayed the whole time, and afterwards she asked me if she could join. And also, could we get a chess board, please?

A few days later, we had this: No Stress Chess. It’s a beginner’s chess game where the players draw cards to determine which piece to move next. Each card also shows you which ways the piece can move. It’s good for learning, but if you already know how to play it’s a bit frustrating; you see a move you could make, but no, you didn’t pick the card for that piece and so you have to move some other piece and then the King runs away and you lose.

Anya has requested to play chess a few times a week since we got the new board. Sometimes we use the cards, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we play by the rules, and sometimes we don’t. And that’s okay because even though there are rules in Chess Club, we don’t worry so much about them at home. Please, don’t tell them I still call the pieces horsies and castles and lowly peons. Shhhhhhhhhhh!

Visiting the Big City – Part 3

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When we last saw our heroes, they were bravely…sleeping.

On our last full day in DC, we awoke and set off in search of food. (I will now take a moment to reflect on how, in such a big city, there are surprisingly few restaurants open on weekend mornings.) We decided to head in the direction of our target, the Museum of Fine Art, and hope that we would stumble across some place to eat. During our travels, we saw and heard our first real-live DC protesters marching along, “Hey! Obama! We don’t need your *mumblemumblemumblesomethingthatrhymeswithobama!”

We ended up in an ORGANIC bistroy-chain-type place. Everything was ORGANIC. The staff wore shirts that said ORGANIC. The menu couldn’t just say, “Everything here is organic.” No, it had to list that the ORGANIC french toast was made from ORGANIC bread made from ORGANIC grains and the syrup was ORGANIC and the water was ORGANIC and the tables and the silverware and the lights and the doorknobs were ORGANIC. The food was good, but the tables were crammed in too closely and as we left, my big ORGANIC butt nearly took out the ORGANIC beverages of our neighboring ORGANIC diners. HA.

Now it is time for a random geeky reference: Look! We found the Tree of Gondor!


We made it to the museum, and the first five minutes were good, but I really should have taken it as a sign we should turn around and leave when I set off an alarm and Andy got reprimanded by a guard (two separate incidents) all before we’d left the first exhibit.

That first exhibit had fancy, old furniture. I was hoping I’d find some items decorated with quilling, but when I saw the embroidered fire screen, I figured that was interesting enough for closer inspection. I leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaned towards the screen to check out the stitching close up and then BEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP! I jumped back and when no one tackled me to the ground I figured I would survive and quickly moved away from the motion sensor guarding the embroidery. I met back up with Andy and Anya just as Andy was putting Anya up on his shoulders so she could peer into a fancy, old game table (checkers AND backgammon!). A guard boomed, “You can’t do that.” Andy put Anya down and there was much, “I’m sorry! She’s short!” The guard glared (he’d probably seen/heard me set off the alarm), and we raced out.

We behaved for a while and looked at all sorts of neat paintings and sculptures and whatnots from olden days. Anya really liked the Degas ballerina sculptures. I really liked the super old books. I’m not sure what Andy really liked, but I’m guessing the naked lady statues. After wandering the mazey building for a while, Anya and I crashed on a couch and waited for Andy to finish exploring. That’s when things really started to get bad. The kid entered meltdown mode.

[In this photo, Anya had not yet melted. I don’t like taking photos in art museums, but in this central atrium place it seemed okay. I do like photos in my posts.]


There are few places actually good for a five-year-old to have a meltdown. The middle of an art museum is definitely not one of them. I had no idea where Andy was, I couldn’t leave the building because we’d checked our coats and Andy had the tickets, people were glaring, the guard was staring, and I was about to scream. I picked up the very unhappy kid and tried to figure out how to get out. (Did I mention the building was a maze?) We made it back to the lobby, I texted Andy “HELP. COME NOW” and I tried to contain the beast until Andy arrived. Thankfully, I didn’t set off any alarms, no guards boomed at me, and Andy arrived before I went to find out if the coat check room took kids.

Andy had been looking forward to this museum the whole trip, and we waited until the last day because a new exhibition was opening that he wanted to see. So, I let him stay and finish up while the kid and I headed back to the hotel. I think she screamed for 15 minutes. I don’t really remember what happened after we got back to the hotel, but I am pretty sure it involved jellybeans and a nap.

[Here’s some art from the hotel. I’m putting the picture here because I thought this post needed more pictures, and I was just talking about art and the hotel. Doesn’t this look like someone slapped a bunch of scrapbook paper on a canvas and framed it?]


Naps make everything better. Dinner is good, too. We decided to try an Italian place near the hotel. The hotel people had said it was “somewhat” child friendly. When we walked in with a kid, I think the staff tried to use their collective mind power to get us to leave. But then the girl with the blue hair and a cow costume came in, and the staff had to divert their super powers…leaving us to have our dinner in psychic peace.

We decided to take the metro to our last museum of the trip, and as we zipped along in warmth and relative comfort I found myself wondering, “WHY haven’t we been taking the metro the whole time???” Alas, our destination was a sad one because the Air and Space Museum was not among those open late on weekends. We peered through the windows a bit and then, after promising Anya we’d see it first the next time we visited DC, we marched back across the mall to the Natural History Museum, which was still open.

We only had about an hour, and we spent it in the history of humans area. Anya was fascinated with ancient humans, and we stayed until we heard that boomy voice all security guards must have as a prerequisite for employment: “CLOSING TIME!” Before we left, though, we did manage to get pictures made of what we’d look like if we had been early humans.


It was all downhill from there. Eating cold leftovers in the hotel room, folding dirty laundry so it would fit in the luggage, stashing the fancy schmancy soap and lotion in our high tech cosmetic case — the ziplock bag. Sleeping, waking, metro to Union Station, back on the bus, back home, barfing in the grocery store, barfing in the car, and, of course, a nap.

The End.

Yearlong Swap – Month 1

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After our holiday tag swap, my crafty group decided we’d keep the swapping going. Because we are all busy folk, and we don’t see each other as often as we like, we decided to make one yearlong swap instead of trying to set up swaps each month or season or whenever we thought of it. Those of us who had swapped material packets last time seemed to have made that look sooo awesometacular that all 7 folks participating in this swap wanted to do it, too.

For this, the First Annual Queen Bee YearLong Swap, we all switched packets. Each month each crafter picks an item off the list (e.g., birthday card, thank you card, gift tag), makes six of those item, and delivers them to the other six folks in the swap.

Here’s my packet from the awesome Ginger:


Ginger and I have different styles, so while everything in this packet is pretty, most of it isn’t stuff I would normally pick out on my own. At first this made me feel a bit uncomfortable, but then I realized this was what I wanted! A chance to try some new things! I also realized that I didn’t have to take the packet literally. That is, I didn’t have to actually use the physical items from the packet to use the packet. (Huh?) I found several pieces of paper in the packet that inspired me, but I didn’t want to use the actual paper. Instead, here is what I did.

First, I used acrylic craft paint to sort of rough coat some store-bought gift tags a pale blue. Then, I found the part of a piece of patterned paper from my packet that had some really pretty flowers on it. I cut out just that part, and then, using carbon paper, I transferred the flower image onto the tags.


There was a part of me that really liked how this looked all on its own but not for this project. I could see myself using this technique again somewhere else and leaving it with just the carbon image. For this project, I bought a copper metallic paint pen and traced over the transferred image. Helpful hint, use a sharpish pencil to transfer the image if you want to cover with a paint pen. Because my pencil grew dull, the transferred image was a bit wide, and the paint pen did not completely cover it in all places. It looked a bit sloppy. Plus, the tag still seemed a bit bleh. So, I dug out my distressing kit next (which isn’t distressing in of itself). I put black distressing ink over top of everything, and that helped the leftover carbon bits blend in. Then I used sandpaper to rough everything up and sort of mix it together so it looked more put together. Finally, I put a little bit of bling on the tags with some little teeny pearly stickons that were in my packet.


The tags I’d bought came with twine, but the finished tags called for something a bit more elegant, so I tied them off with brown ribbon from my stash.


I’m not totally in love with the actual final product because they seem a bit rough to me. Sort of like I needed a bit more practice with what I was doing before making a final product. I really liked the image transferring with the carbon paper, and I definitely want to do that again.