Parental Trolling, lvl 50

This is a story of how my parents trolled me…on my birthday, no less!

You may remember that one of my pet peeves is cute holiday imagery of penguins and polar bears living together in harmony, because as a biologist I know that penguins and polar bears do not overlap in the wild.  Penguins live in the south pole (only Galápagos penguins live near the equator), and polar bears live in the Arctic.  Never the twain shall meet.

My mom also makes me a creative birthday cake every year.  She’s done Jane Austen books, a Skellig Michael landscape, and even jungle animals. After I analyzed the species of the jungle animals, I think she assumed I’ll always be blogging about her cakes.

So here’s what I got this year:

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Yes, she spent hours making these intricate cupcakes, just for the sake of irritating me by putting polar bears and penguins together.  She has whole books full of cupcake designs, so I imagine that once she saw these two animals she couldn’t resist.

To be fair, they were really cute, and also tasty.

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Homemade dice bag

Honestly, I’m not sure I ever thought I would be at the level of geek where I sewed a bag to hold dice for a role-playing game.  But here we are.

My husband B has played Dungeons & Dragons since before I met him in middle school.  He recently started a game of Exalted, another table-top RPG, with some friends; this game requires, like, three sets of d10 dice or something ridiculous.  He wanted a separate bag for these dice, and drew up a picture of what he wanted.

dice bag

It looked pretty simple, so I told him we could make it.  We bought some fabric but then never got around to doing anything with it.

Just before last Christmas, B was gone for business for about a week, and I saw an opportunity.  I have a terrible time surprising him with anything, because he notices the tiniest details and changes, but he is excellent at surprises for me.  I figured I could make a dice bag in a couple of days (I also enlisted my mom’s help in planning).

We made a quick pattern out of newspaper, basing the size of the bag off another dice bag B uses (that one is made of chain mail…).  I cut out the colored triangles and sewed them together as shown in his design.  Then I cut a black lining approximately the same size, sewed the two “inside” faces together.  I added an extra seam at the top and threaded some black string though.

I did this bag quickly, so it’s not perfect.  My grandmother is turning over in her grave because my seams didn’t match up in some places.

But I did finish it in time, and B was definitely surprised.  He’s been using it for his Exalted dice ever since.  I didn’t add any decal to the front yet, but he’s said that instead of the dice in his sketch, he wants a yellow circle like a sun, which is the symbol of his Exalted character’s caste, Zenith.

Some action shots:

Skellig Michael Birthday Cake

Are you sick of hearing about Skellig Michael on my blog yet?  Yes?  Well, too bad!

My mom made another of her amazing cakes for my birthday.  It was a “traditional” Funfetti cake that she decorated to look like Skellig Michael, where the ending scene of The Force Awakens was filmed and which I visited last summer in a very memorable experience.  

She used some small Bundt molds to make the mounds for Skellig Michael (on the right with the puffins and steps) and Little Skellig (on the left with the seals).

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Can’t you just see Rey walking up those steps?

 

She knew I was going to blog about this, so she made sure to put only ecologically accurate animals on (though the proportions are still a bit off…)

We have:

The puffins were hand-made out of marzipan, so they were tasty as well as adorable.  The cake itself was delicious, though the icing made our mouths turn blue.  

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I ate some of Skellig Michael with a puffin.

 

The lettering says “Breithlá Sona” which is apparently an Irish translation of “Happy Birthday” (at least according to Google 😉 ).  

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Winnie-the-Pooh cross stitch for Baby Girl

The holidays were a great time to work on some crafty projects.  I just finished up a wall hanging for the baby of a dear friend.  I’ve done a Winnie-the-Pooh cross stitch for each of her children, and this was for her first girl.

I got the pattern from a book called “P is for Pooh” that I bought a few years back.  I actually mixed two patterns: the Pooh+flowers design is from one pattern, and border is from another.  I adjusted the size of the border to fit the frame and mat I bought.  The text font is actually from a third pattern.

I love doing these for friends and family, but I’m a little behind.  I haven’t even started the kit I bought for my niece that was born last year!

Step-by-step scrapbook page design

Last weekend I attended a scrapbooking retreat, which is exactly like it sounds.  I made a quick album of my photos from last year’s trip to Disney World and Harry Potter World at Universal (using this pre-designed album from Creative Memories).

I love making scrapbooks, and I’ve done all kinds.  Besides obvious ones for vacations and my wedding, I also made one of pictures of my cat when she passed away, and I made one of favorite places in my Florida hometown when I moved to Ohio.  For me it’s always been a great way to relive meaningful memories while using some artistic creativity.

I use pre-designed pages and digital software a lot, but I also just enjoy starting with some printed 4×6 pictures and a blank page and decorating from there.  Here’s my step-by-step process for scrapbook page design that gives me something a little different every time.

1.Sort photos and group them onto pages.

I’m a planner, so I like to set out which pictures are going on which pages; otherwise I would run out of pages!  This often results in my putting up to 10 pictures on one page, which is fine, I just have to get creative about placement.  I usually work in double page spreads for coordination, even if the two pages are about different events.

2. Crop photos.

Unless I already had a specific layout in mind for the page, I usually just crop each photo for content and focus in the best way I can.  Sometimes I do all squares or something, but usually it’s a mix of shapes.

3. Lay out photos, etc. on the page.

This is the fun part where I actually have to fit all the photos on the page, while ideally leaving some room somewhere for writing, and any other memorabilia that go on the page.  These pages of 6 and 8 photos are pretty typical for me (that’s why cropping is so important!).  I am not a fast scrapbooker (or “scrapper”); this step can take me a while.  There’s always that one photo that just doesn’t want to fit.

I often take a picture of the page at this point so I can remember how I had everything arranged, because I’ll have to move the photos to add any paper behind them.

4. Add decoration.

Now I’ll select background paper, borders, or stickers based on the colors or theme of the photos.  I rarely “wallpaper,” or put a whole sheet of paper covering the white page behind the photos; I typically just add some photo mats and pieces and parts here and there.  I’m always saving scraps from previous pages because you never know when they’ll come in handy.

Sometimes I’ll use coordinating papers/embellishments I purchased as a set, but more often I just go through my whole stash and find things I like together (I don’t think any of the embellishments above are from the same “set”).

I’ll also do some journaling on the page; writing is an extremely important part of scrapbooking.  Looking at photos is cool, but it’s even better if you know who exactly is in the photos and why you were taking them.

Do you guys like to scrapbook? Do you prefer digital or “traditional” scrapbooking?  Do you prefer pre-designed pages or designing your own?