family + crafty things…creepy, crawly birthday

One of our highlights of 2011 was D's birthday party. He's not a birthday party kind of guy. I find this extremely ironic since I love to put on a good party. Anyhow, he initiated the idea of an all boys party which included his classmates and other friends outside of school. 


Since our place is small for a group that size, I had to find a alternate location or park. Unable to reserve a park spot and nervous about the possibility of rain, we ended up booking the party room at Paxton Gate Kids in the Mission. In the end we combined Paxton Gate's beetle pinning activity with a reptile show presented by Owen, owner of the East Bay Vivarium

Having a party offsite had it's benefits, but it meant I had to keep things simple and transportable. Decorations were minimal, huge black balloons with silhouettes of insects and reptiles. 

Dirt parfaits were the dessert treat served with a bottle of bug juice to wash it down. I used Smitten Kitchen's vanilla pudding recipe [easy and tasty!] layered with Oreo cookies that have been refrigerated and zapped in a food processor. Goody bags were sewn and stenciled by yours truly. Each bag had a composition notebook with custom cover and back I printed and spray mounted, a bug jar with custom label and fact sheet, a pencil and sharpener, and gummy worms. Bug Crunch was the snack and I used this recipe as my guide, substituting chocolate covered raisins and cranberries for all the candy.

It was so much fun, I want to do the same for my birthday. Of course I'll have to substitue the bug juice for booze.




Paxton Gate Kids did a terrific job hosting our party and engaging the boys. They were extremely helpful before the party assiting me with balloons and setting out all the food and goodie bags. A big thumbs-up for the crew and the store.

Owen is AMAZING! He is so informative, witty, and entertaining. The love and respect he has for his animals is inspiring. If you live in the Bay Area, and are looking for a different type of entertainment, give him a call. Better yet, head over to Berkley to check out his store.

For those of you worried about the beetles, they were already expired. The "pinning" consisted of rehydrating the insects in hot water so that the legs and antennae become pliable. The boys used tweezers to pull and arrange the legs then used pins to keep them in place. The pins actually don't go through the insect, they criscross each other over the legs and antennae to keep them in place while they dry. It's a really fun activity. If you're interested you can get some home kits from here.


I've missed writing and sharing on the blog. I hoped last year there would be more focus for Fiddlesticks & Nonsense. Instead of figuring out what that could be, I abandoned the site altogether. So, I'm back…again…thanks to encouragement from family and friends.

Honesly, the biggest kick-in-the pants I neeeded to post again was the tiniest mention in Martha Stewart Living magazine thanks to my cousin-in-law, Jessie Randall. She is a kindred crafter and designer, and her annual Valentine Sock Hop she throws for her boys and their friends is featured in the current issue of MSL.

Jessie made Brownie Burgers for the Sock Hop, and she was sweet enough to mention that she borrowed the idea from F&N. Thanks again Jessie!


Hamburger Cookies Recipe / Instructions

around town…moss beach

It seems like summer weather has arrived in SF. This year was particularly cold and foggy. I attributed our gloomy summer to our new geographic location, but it truly was a colder than usual summer. 

So when the sunny, warm weather arrived, we headed down Highway 1 to Moss Beach, or the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. As a teenager we use to come here to play and explore the tidepools looking for the biggest sea anemone, various starfish and batfish, sea urchins and hermit crabs. Even now, I still love the excitement and anticipation of what the tide pools hold. 

This trip we took a new gadget. I'm told it's a snipe. It's made of 4" pvc tubing with a 1/4" acrylic bottom that serves as a window. It was given to D by a colleague of mine. You simply dip the tube in the water and explore the bottom. I'm also convinced that it acted as a microscope, enlarging whatever was in the viewing window.

I'll never leave home without this when headed to the beach! Super fun. More pictures of our discoveries below.

That's a sea anemone! It's a medium sized green anemone. It's fun to touch the tentacles and see the anemone close around your hand. You can even feel the resistance of their sticky, stinging tentacles. Don't worry, these guys won't harm humans.

D spotted the only urchin of the day. Urchins are my favorite. Their color and shape mesmerize me. These guys are hard and pointy, but still fun to gently touch.

Sea urchin shells. These were all over the place, in the water and on the beach. I find these even more beautiful than the creature itself. Nice variety of color and textures.

Interesting find. It looks like a little clam was growing on old, empty clam shell?

The faceted thing in the middle of the picture is a chiton. I thought it was a fossil because it looked like stone, but Doc quickly corrected me. It was pretty big, about 4 inches long. Chitons are really cool and there is a large variety. More research on these guys is in order.

Just a poetic moment.


TIPS: If you go, make sure to check the tide tables or tidelogs to ensure you'll be able to see the pools while the tide is low. Also, go the website, for more information. Make sure to wear shoes you can walk and climb around in and you don't mind getting wet. Rain boots, rubber boots, water shoes I highly recommend. Also, while you can bring chairs and towels, there is very little beach and the sand is very coarse. I think this is more of an exploring beach than lounging. Either way, it's still beautiful and inspiring.

Happy Exploring,



object love…Gerstner tool boxes

Sometime ago, a writer who was interviewing me for the SF Chronicle asked me what was my most favorite object. That was a tough question to answer. In fact, I don't think I ever responded. But, if asked again, my answer would be my Gerstner tool box. It was a Christmas gift [my only gift as I recall] from Doc years ago.

I have a serious love for tools and tool boxes, both new and old. By far, my favorite is my walnut Gerstner tool chest. The utilitarian design coupled with beautiful craftsmanship make them a true design classic. Beauty aside, they are practical and have so many storage uses beyond tools. Mine stores my minimal jewelry collection, small treasured objects, cards and love notes from Doc and D, and any other sentimental, personal things I don't want on display. 

Doc also has his own, but in oak and much smaller. Fortunately, they live in separate rooms, otherwise, I would have to insist both boxes be identical. His box contents are in constant rotation including fly fishing gear, antique tools, receipts, etc. I've recently noticed with his new found hobby, that more and more tools are finding a home inside the green felt lined drawers. While I watch him tinker away, I find myself thinking "I could use one of those at my desk." Hmm…

I do, however, look forward to giving D his own box one day. He's always loved to explore inside the tiny little drawers, and at various times, Doc and I have allowed him to have his own drawer in our respective chests. Perhaps thirteen is a good age, maybe even sooner. Although the price tag is steep, he will have it forever. And hopefully his children will have mine and so on. 


Tooling around,


family…a fresh start

Slipping out of summer and into fall has always been my favorite time of year. This year, it also feels like a fresh start, or perhaps, a return to "normal".  Our remodel is complete and all but one moving box have been unpacked.

Now that everything has a place and all places are functional, we have been enjoying these last weeks of summer lounging around the house getting back into our routine. Crafting and baking have resumed, but I'm still trying to figure out the blogging bit. In any case, it's nice to be back.


around town…hyde street pier


Since summer break is fast approaching, I'd like to share some of our favorite activities and destinations around town. This city has a lot to offer resident and visiting families.

First up is Hyde St. Pier, located next to Aquatic Park and Ghiradelli Square. It was the main automobile ferry pier before the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge were built. Now it's home to the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. This is a great place to explore and step back in time as you board a historical cargo ship, ferry, tug boats and more. 

Numerous snapshots of our last adventure…

These were all taken on the Balcutha, a cargo ship born in Glasgow in 1886. It has a great multi-media exhibit below deck which includes recreated cargo she once shipped. I'd love to have a party on this boat! Apparently, school groups do sleepovers and simulate running the ship. Sounds like fun.


The steam powered tug boat, Hercules, is super fun to climb through. You can see down to the steam engine over an open grate which is a bit unnerving for some. 


This ferry, the Eureka, is my favorite. The exhibit of the old cars is fantastic, and the restoration is inspiring. 


TIPS: If you go, pack a picnic and extra clothes. You can have lunch on the beach and play in the sand, weather permitting. Even if it's blustery out, you'll still see children running and splashing in the water.  

And you can wrap up your field trip with a walk over to Ghiradelli Square and treat yourselves to something sweet and chocolatey.

Have fun,



family…remodel in progress

Our long awaited remodel has finally begun! We knew when we purchased the house that the kitchen and bathrooms were priority number one. All were quite drab, inefficient, and poorly constructed. 

I thought I'd document and share the progress on the blog. Everyone loves a makeover story, right?

Photos at week 1:

Before - the footprint of the kitchen is quite large, but half of it was used for dining. Lame, since there is a formal dining room with a pass through next to the kitchen. How about that soffit? 

Demo - I love it! It made me happy to see all of this junk in bits and pieces. I only wish I could've swung the sledgehammer a few times. D freaked out when he saw this. It took us by surprise because he's use to seeing and being on job-sites. I guess he just wasn't prepared for his own house to be a job-site. I felt bad. Really bad! But when I told him this is the worst part of the project, and that it will only get better from this point forward, he stopped crying. Ughh, bad mom.

Clean-up - Ahh, light at the end of the tunnel. It's just the beginning, I know, but it feels really good to be rid of that old kitchen. 

So, IF all goes well, the job should be completed in six weeks. 



family…easter wrap-up

We made it through the much anticipated Easter Sunday. The rain did disappoint us as our egg hunt had to be moved indoors, and our picnic brunch was cancelled. Nevertheless, we had a good time.

The boys wore their ties [made with purl patterns] with great pride which made me so very happy to see. 

 I'm extremely happy with the fabric "basket". It was filled with all things Japanese. 


I hope your Easter was fun…and dry!



family…easter prep

Geez! As much as I like to plan, I never seem to get ahead. Late nights and early mornings will be the new routine this week as I finish our Easter projects.

This year will be headed to the 'burbs to have an egg hunt and picnic with my mom. Somehow, having our celebration off-site creates more work. Control freak? Yes!

Last Easter, we had the big eggs and oysters. This year, I'm doing a Japanese inspired theme as the three of us love Japanese culture both traditional and pop. I'm told Easter is uneventful in Japan. But they do celebrate the hare,  and that's enough for me. 

I hope your Easter plans are underway!