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!

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!



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.

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!



crafty things…a book bag

It was time for a new book bag for D. His previous was so dirty and tattered, and I had a need to "make" something.  

I FINALLY used the wax paper stenciling technique, and I love it! I'm extremely pleased with the results. The handles were made from an old belt of D's cut in half which provided the perfect length handles and a ring to clip his water bottle or various Star Wars key chains. 

While I did consider buying a back pack for him, I still think he is too small. The packs that do fit his body really don't hold his library books and other school papers, and he still doesn't have patience to actually unzip the pack. He likes to just dump everything in the bag and run. 

Frankly, this might be the last book bag for him. Sniff, sniff. He's taking control of his wardrobe, and I'm sure the desire for the Spider Man backpack will be to strong to deny. 

Happy Crafting,


small stuff…an art space

D is growing in all ways, and his art space needs to grow too. He outgrew his old table and chair, and his supplies and scraps were overtaking our craft room. So we dropped some cash, made a few upgrades and additions, and now we're all happy.

His old set-up in his old room.


His new set-up in our new craft room.


Close-up of desk and taborets.

We reused the IKEA legs from his old table [NOTE: I cut these with a hacksaw to standard height for a child's table] and replaced the yellow egg table with stainless steel one, again from IKEA. [NOTE AGAIN: I did not pay the web price in-store. I got lucky and only payed $60…I think.] I'm sure you all recognize the shell chair from Modernica and the Bisley taborets. 

I'm a big fan of the shell chairs. First, they are practically indestructible. Second, they are both kid and adult comfy. Even with the low base, it's quite comfortable for an adult to sit and lounge in. In fact, we swapped out the rocker base on an arm shell chair in our living room with the low rod base so D had some lounge furniture of his own.

The magnetic blackboard is an old steel top from a worktable painted with chalkboard paint.


The pen cubbies are Ikea kitchen storage items. TIP: if you use these, adding an adhesive felt "dot" to the back at the bottom will protect your walls!

While it might seem like a steep price to pay for an upgrade, we believe, like most of you I'm sure, that children deserve good design too. The advantage of each of these pieces is that they will grow with D and be useful for Doc and I when D is out on his own. The table top will eventually need new legs again, and we'll have to switch out the base on the chair for proper desk chair, but I think we're good for the next few years.

Best of all, the three of us can fit into one room comfortably and craft away.

Thanks for stopping by!


object love…PlayShapes

I spotted these in the fall/winter issue New York Times Style magazine. These wood blocks are wonderful and a refreshing departure from unit blocks. Don't get me wrong, unit blocks are still the toy of choice in our house, but PlayShapes are, as the name says, playful. 

Some of my favorite configurations by the creators and designers of PlayShapes, MillerGoodman.

Make sure to visit their  Flickr group for more amazing ensembles.

I cannot wait to get these under the tree for D!

Happy Building,


family + tasty things…a "day of rest" cake

Shortly before summer vacation began, D had a day off from school. It was called "a day of rest".  Of course, I turned to baking as an activity the two of us could do to start our day, and after a very short discussion, D made up his mind he wanted a chocolate cake. The first recipe that came to mind was Nigella's honey chocolate cake…it's very easy, moist and tasty. 

Now that D expresses his thoughts and ideas clearly, baking together is not as easy as it once was. As we gathered our ingredients and tools, D began improvising, "let's use a square pan instead of a round pan! Let's make cupcakes! Let's add dried cranberries!" I somehow managed to keep him on track or rather distract him while I quickly measured, mixed and poured. Here is what the kitchen looked like by the time the cake batter made it to the oven!

The recipe calls for a honey glaze/icing which I usually skip because the cake is tasty without it, and, mostly, I'm too lazy to make it. D was insistent on having the icing. In my haste, I forgot to sift the powdered sugar…very bad! 

Doesn't it look awful! It's pimply and cracked! Appearance aside, it tasted delicious as usual. Now, we call this our "day of rest" cake, even though there was nothing restful about making it.



more kite stuff

Kites have been a hot topic around here since our beach day. Did you know kites were invented in China? Well, that seems to be a popular theory. Based on my reading, the general consensus is the kite has been around for approximately 2,000 years. Did you also know there is a National Kite month?

Coincidentally, D pulled this book from our borrowed library books which are way, way, way, waaaay overdue! I had completely forgotten about it. We love all these books about the Kang boys and how their mischievous adventures result in a famous invention. What I like best are the author's note and project at the end of each book. 

The book reminded me of a great kite shop in Chinatown, and shortly after, we found ourselves here. 

I wished I had done more research as there is quite a variety of kites for various wind conditions. With some assistance, we chose some fine beginner kites! I'm fairly certain there will be a kite project occurring here during the summer. 

Some resources:

20 Kids • 20 Kites • 20 Minutes 

Sun Kite

Happy Flying!



small stuff…hypotrochoid art set

Lately, D and I have been changing up the bedtime routine. Instead of book time, we do drawing time. I like to pull out this hypotrochoid art set and a sheet of bristol board so D and I crank something out in silence, side by side before we say good night.

D still needs some practice to master the gears. He works hard to go around and around and around trying to keep the gears interlocked. I can see it's a fine line between being challenged and being frustrated. And this is when I have to admit to myself that I'm a "pusher"; I push things on D that I want or like.

In the meantime, while he learns to master the gears, I will be sneaking it out of his room and reliving moments from my childhood.  

Check out this amazing Spirograph collection.