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…an Outlander dinner

This summer I have been consumed by the Outlander book series. It was on my reading list for quite some time, and as a last minute impulse, I downloaded book one on my Kindle before heading to the Eastern Sierras and Yosemite for two weeks. 

JESUS H. ROOSEVELT CHRIST! I was not prepared for the abandonment of my heart and soul to these books and its characters. In all honesty, I'm a sucker for historical fiction series; First Man in Rome, Shogun, and almost anything by Philippa Gregory. But Outlander bends the rules beyond historical fiction with the combination of time travel, adventure and an epic romance. I mean, what's not to love? 

Ten weeks and eight books later, I'm obsessed with all things Outlander from the new TV series (JESUS H. ROOSEVELT CHRIST!) to the author's Facebook page and an Outlander devoted blog, Outlander Kitchen where the author creates recipes inspired by descriptions or characters from the book. It's such a brilliant premise for a blog. I am inspired by the singularity of it and the delicious recipes!

Our Saturday dinners are now Outlander meals comprised of recipes from OK and capped with watching a new TV episode. It's a nice way to share my Outlander world with Doc & D For episode 2, we devoured shepherd's pie. Our episode 3 meal was this menu: whisky sours, oatcakes + jam and Scotch eggs. 

Whiskey sours …my absolute favorite drink!

Whiskey sours…my absolute favorite drink!

Pumpkin herb oatcakes  with homemade blackberry jam.

Pumpkin herb oatcakes with homemade blackberry jam.

Scotch eggs  + Claire's salad

Scotch eggs + Claire's salad

Because I always need something green on my plate or it just doesn't seem like a proper meal, I tossed up my usual salad and dressing, and aptly renamed it "Claire's salad", to round out the meal. Claire's salad is simple, any fresh leaves and fruit I have on hand, some thinly sliced red onions mixed with a garlic, thyme and curry vinaigrette. 

I wish I could share exact measurements for the dressing. Since we make it so frequently, we don't bother with measuring spoons and cups. We just eyeball measurements and let taste guide the quantities. If you're adventurous, I've listed approximations. Taste often  and adjust the vinegar and curry to your liking.

Garlic, Thyme + Curry vinaigrette - or Claire's dressing

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • a dash (just a dash!!) balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp (at least!) of freshly minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme - you can also use dried thyme, start with a teaspoon then add more if necessary
  • 1 tsp. curry - as curries vary in heat, I suggest you start with a 1/2 tsp.
  • salt + pepper to taste 


My weekly OK meal will have to wait as we'll be at the Northern California Scottish Games. At least we'll get our fix of Highland food…or at least whisky!

Enjoy - F&N!

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!



crafty things…advent calendar


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,



family…almost a pet

This beauty has taken up residence outside our kitchen door. I like to think of her as our guardian and bringer of good luck. Every morning, I check on her and the state of her web. She is meticulous  about keeping her web in tip-top shape, making repairs as necessary. We think she is garden spider.

It's hard to tell scale in the photo, but she is approximitely 2" and her web is probably 20" in diameter. We'll all be sad when she leaves.



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!




crafty things…easter cracker

I came across this cracker template by Mini Eco via Pinterest. Although traditionally used for Christmas, I thought it would be fun to use for an Easter hunt this year. A simple selection of spring inspired papers really makes these feel like oversized wrapped candies. 

Each cracker will be filled with D's favorite sweets [and mine!] from our favorite treat shop, Miette, and hidden throughout the house. I cannot wait for Easter Sunday to arrive.