family…Dungeons & Dragons party

I've decided to post about this little shindig this year instead of NEXT, which seems to be my mode regarding parties. We kept it pretty simple this year. I was too busy with work to pull out the stops, and I just wasn't feeling D&D creatively. 

Despite all my reservations about a D&D party, it was a success! All the credit goes to D and the Dungeon Master. D spent a lot of time creating characters for his friends, and our Dungeon Master conceived a fantastic "campaign" that kept the boys riveted for 3 hours! 

Of course, I added my crafty bits to the party with the help of my printer,  Silhouette Cameo, and whatever materials I had on hand. I leveraged the most recognizable and essential part of the game, the dice! Who knew there were so many?  The most iconic is the D20, a 20 sided dice. I also threw a game map into the mix to change up the visuals.

Snacks and food were easy, too. I acquiesced to D's request of pizza, root beer and donuts. I was a bit disappointed he didn't request a homemade cake by mama. When I asked why, he said, "A cake isn't special when you bake it all the time." Hmphhh…he had a point…donuts it is!

Some of the boys were new to D&D, others quite familiar and play regularly, but all seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. I'd peek in frequently to see them crowding around the table drawing their fantasy world. I could hear them speaking in character. And I observed them figuring out how to work together to conquer some monster or complete a task. It was fun to see their enthusiasm, and I was happy that D got to share his love of D&D with his buddies.

Now…onto Halloween…my favorite time of year!

TASTY THINGS…MO JAM

Our cupboards were still overflowing from our 2012 jamming efforts, so I skipped my usual summer canning for 2013. Now, with cupboards bare, I happily resumed my regular summer routine.

Since I mostly make jams from fruit we actually pick, the variety was pretty slim this year. Apricots and plums from my mom's trees and farmer's market figs were all that we could manage. Truth be told; these are my favorite, so I wasn't overly disappointed when we missed the ollaileberry and blackberry picking season. 

I always have an abundance of apricot jam, and I love to give jars as little, unexpected gifts to friends. Some even put in requests ahead of time to ensure they get their fix. One such friend is a graphic designer whose wife has a serious love of my apricot jam. I must admit that this apricot jam is pretty damn tasty…not too sweet with just the right amount of tartness.  As "payment", he designed the Mo Jam labels and tags for me. The play on words is perfect as is the design! 

It's so satisfying to plop those kraft circles on each lid. It's the best part of the whole canning process and the cleanest! Producing the labels and tags are pretty easy.  I edit the type of preserve in Adobe Illustrator, print and use the Silhouette Connect plug-in to cut the tags directly from Illustrator. The labels I also print directly from Illustrator using the Avery Kraft 22808 paper and template. 

I'm looking forward to Fall fruits: apples, pears, persimmons and quince! I've included my recipe for apricot jam. I use the same quantities and technique for plum jam, except I add in a cinnamon stick or two during maceration and cooking. Enjoy!!

Apricot Jam

4 pounds apricots, halved & pitted
3 cups sugar (the original recipe calls for 6 cups)
Juice of one lemon
Cut apricots in half, pour sugar and lemon juice over fruit, stir well and place in refrigerator overnight. Cook the apricot mixture in a wide heavy bottom pot for 45 to 50 minutes, skimming off the foam regularly. When the jam starts to thicken, keep your eye on it and stir frequently. I freeze a plate to test “jam consistency”.  I put a spoonful of the jam on the plate and let it cool slightly.  I run a finger through it to see if it holds it shape and doesn't weep too much. 

Can the perseveres following proper canning techniques. Visit the USDA Center for Home Preservation for instructions and information. Food in Jars is my favorite site for tips, techniques and recipes.

 

crafty things…Bunny bags

Make it stop! Everything I see is a potential canvas for screening. It's so addicting. These bunny bags were so easy whip up, I made big stack using 18x18 wool felt from a previously abandoned project. These guys will be for D, his cousins (8 boys!), and a few friends.

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While I'm in love with the original bunny, this hipster bunny (another Shutterstock acquisition) takes the carrot cake for me. Admittedly, this guy was a bit harder to print due to the fine line work and printing on felt was an added challenge. I think I'll have more success printing on a finer cotton or linen. Stay tuned. I'm not done with this bespectacled Bunny yet. 

Being a hipster, this bunny is more likely to be appreciated by D, now, according to him, that he's "not a little kid" anymore.

Since he's such a young gentleman, I added some almost breath mints, lip balm, a handmade handkerchief and chocolates to his bag. I'll fill a few of these up and stuff them in his Easter basket and save them for future Easter Sundays.

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If you want to make some of your own bags - with or without screen printing - you'll need these tools and materials:

  • 18"x18" wool felt [this will yield 3 bags]
  • 24" ribbon per bag
  • rotary cutter with pinking blade + straight edge
  • sewing machine or sewing supplies [thread or embroidery floss & needle]

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Fold fabric in half. Measure and mark at 6" and 12" from short side.
  2. With rotary cutter and straight edge, cut at marks from folded edge to top of fabric. You will now have 3 bags. 
  3. Trim outside edges of two bags with rotary cutter.
  4. Cut ribbon to 24" and fold in half.
  5. Line up edges of bags making sure the scalloped edges are aligned. Pin ribbon 2" from top of bag between layers of fabric on the right side. Place a pin 2" from the top on the left side.
  6. Sew each side of bag from pins to bottom. Make sure you catch the ribbon!
  7. Trim top of bags with rotary cutter.

Happy Crafting,

F&N

crafty things…screen printing the Easter Bunny

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Screen printed notecards.

Continuing our in-house rabbit theme, I screen printed this awesome bunny I purchased at Shutterstock. I've always wanted to learn screen printing, but was a bit put-off by all the materials, space and sink necessary to do it. Then I discovered EZScreenPrint! It's nothing short of life changing…at least in my own craft world. 

It's pretty darn easy to make a screen, but not fool proof. I feel it's on the pricey side, but if you plan to do it a lot of printing, than you may be able to justify the cost. I certainly did with this one stencil. After several cleanings, the screen is still holding its detail. I'm pretty damn happy with it.

So far, I've experimented with paper and fabric. Paper is pretty easy. Fabric takes a bit more practice and results vary from fabric to fabric, but I was able to pull some great prints as the photos show. 

Ceramics are up next for screening. I'll also enlist Doc and D for original artwork. 

Having fun! F&N

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 The screen + squegee + ink

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 Bunny onsies for some special babies.

family…Easter 2014

Each year I share ideas with D and Doc about "Easter themes".

"Let's do bugs, birds, nests, lambs!"

And every year, it's met with the same skeptical look and response, "Whatever you want." 

What this reaction really means is, "You're a bit crazy." As I start to think through the ideas, I realize, begrudgingly, they're right. It's really hard to break away from the iconic symbols of bunnies and eggs, so this year I decided to strike a balance between the bunny and the egg.  

The egg already has  A LOT of love in our house…


Our egg collection has steadily grown over the years. They're beautiful objects with such a range of size and color. I find them fascinating. Our collection includes duck, goose, emu, ostrich, rhea, chicken and some unidentified bird eggs. 

Adding rabbits to the mix was a challenge, and I'm not convinced I've pulled it off. Doc and D are a tough pair with lots of opinions, but they also bring good ideas to the table. I'm sure we'll pull it all together over the next few years.

A bit of change is nice and it definitely added an injection of crafting mojo in other Easter projects which I'll post soon. 

Hoping you have a hopping Easter!  F&N

 

Jack rabbit plates from H&M 


Rabbit cake stands from SHOPBOP.

hello…welcome back!

Where to start? I've had another hiatus from this blog. A very, very long hiatus as the dated entries show. I've been tempted to remove Fiddlesticks&Nonsense from the blog-sphere once and for all, but couldn't bring myself to do it, thanks to little nudges and encouragement from family and friends.

The intent was to take a small break, work on a new layout and find a "focus" for the blog. I believed if I could find that focus or point of view, then creating and sharing content would be easier and simpler. Plus, the blogs I find the most compelling are those with a (mostly) singular focus: food, beauty, health, style.

The cold hard reality…I'm not a focused gal! I'm way too curious to buckle-down and think about a single topic. I love to learn new skills and crafts, design and create experiences, and explore the outdoors with my family. Fiddlesticks&Nonsense is the sweet spot, the nexus, my happy-place, of all these things I love and enjoy.

So, instead of a refresh, this is "welcome back!"

I made this banner for our friends who have been living abroad for the last several years and just returned to the Bay Area. 

Simple to make. Silhouette Cameo to cut letters and embroidery floss to string them together. Once I had the desired spacing and drape of the message, I knotted the strands of floss and crocheted a chain to finish it off.

Hugs & Kisses!                                         F&N

crafty things…hot coco kits

Christmas is just around the corner! I thought I'd share our version of hot coco kits as Christmas gifts: a hand drawn mug, marshmallows, candy canes, and ohh so yummy hot coco mix. 

D was responsible for drawing on the mugs, and I knew he would love the job. I aslo knew he could easily spend 30 minutes to an hour per mug. Since we needed to make quite a few of these, we needed some simple, quick inspiration. Ed Emberley to the rescue! D grabbed his favorite Ed Emberley books off the shelf and got to work. I think the results are perfect! I hope his cousins and friends enjoy them.

While he was drawing, I was making labels and packaging up the ingredients. Doc packaged them up in shipping boxes and braved the Post Office lines. Phew…pretty good teamwork. 

The Pebeo Porcelaine 150 Paint Marker is easy and fun to use. The possibilities are endless. Here is some Pinterest inspiration.

Merry Crafting & Happy Holidays!

F&N

 

crafty things…advent calendar

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I hope your holidays are off to good start and that the stress that can come along during this time of year is not getting the best of you. For me, our Advent calendar has been a source of stress the past few Christmases. As D got older, I found it challenging to find small gifts that generated enthusiasm each morning leading up to December 25th. The forgotten toys and trinkets became accumulated junk, a reminder of an unsuccessful advent calendar.

Now that D is older, we've switched our Advent focus from "getting things" to "doing things" where the activities are inclusive and all of us can participate and enjoy. This year's calendar consists of little cards with envelopes, courtesy of my Silhouette machine, hung from a branch. Doc or I handwrite the day's activity in the dark morning hours while D is asleep. 

With a little planning,  24 activities aren't as challenging as you might think. Here are some activities in our line-up:

  • "A Christmas Story" movie night with popcorn and eggnog 
  • Writing Christmas cards to our soldiers
  • Ice skating and burgers
  • Make hot chocolate kits for cousins
  • Gifts from the kitchen
  • Decorate Christmas tree and house
  • Dinner around the tree
  • Donate new toys and books

So far it's been a success, and watching D's excitement each morning as he locates the day's envelope has been so fun.

Happy Holidays,

F&N

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family…mother's day picnic

I've been itchin' to throw a picnic for sometime. The unpredictable San Francisco weather and my want-to-create-an-experience behavior work against each other. Determined to host a picnic for my mom this year, I moved our gathering approximately an hour south of SF where the weather is predictable and cooperative and went into full prep mode all week.

I'll give more details about the menu and recipes in a follow-up post, but the food was great. Doc made his version of fried chicken, and I prepared some tried-and-true dishes and experimented with a few new ones too.  

The best part about the picnic was making individual baskets for us. It gave me the opportunity to use some fabulous reversible fabric that has been in my stash forever to sew napkins, a basket liner and a basket wrap. I was so happy with the results, I had to share. 

The "basket wrap", as I called it, is really a Japanese Azuma bag. They are so versatile and easy to sew. If you want to make your own, Coco Stitch has a great tutorial. I use a serger because I'm lazy, but it does add a bit of detail.

Ambatalia has some great Azuma style bags for sale if you don't sew. 

I hope you had an enjoyable Mother's Day. May all your summers picnics be filled with good times and good food!

Best,

F&N