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*Happy Birthday Bingo Game* – Free Party Printable

Oh! I just realized I’ve never shared the printable birthday party bingo game that I made for Chloe’s 3rd “Rubber Duck” birthday party! The bingo game was a hit, especially because it was easy to do with a big group and even the parents could participate. We used Chloe’s set of washable Dots and Dashes Paint, but I’ve seen real “Bingo” markers at the dollar store, too.

*** Click here to download Happy Birthday Bingo PDF 779 kB ***

To play, cut out the squares on pages 1 and 2 (shown above). These are the call out cards. The caller piles the cards face-down and calls out one image at a time, allowing enough time for all players to check and see if they have a match. If they do, they mark that image on their bingo card. Once a player has found all 9 images and calls out “Bingo!,” that player wins! There are 12 unique bingo cards in all.

This is fun to play as a family, too. Just cut off the portion that says “Happy Birthday Bingo” and you’re good to go. 🙂


For more of our party details see Rubber Duck Party part 1 or part 2 or the flickr set.



Words cannot express how awesome this movie is. The story is one we can all benefit from and the visuals are outstanding. It is simply something that you have to go experience for yourself. And I mean Experience. The 3D effects kept making me say “Oh my God!” over and over in my head. And don’t expect the included RealD glasses to be last generation’s flimsy red lens/blue lens cereal-box junk either. They are actually surprisingly comfortable black plastic, and lightweight enough to make it through the entire movie. Just be sure to recycle them in the designated bin when your done. And don’t forget turn your head for a peek back at the rest of the audience wearing their goofy black glassess, too. 🙂


Cool Online Game


If you haven’t already, check out this creative online game. I can’t believe how well it was designed, with gorgeous graphics and advanced interactive details. It sort of reminds me of Myst. Very impressive for a milk campaign. We came in at about 9400 out of 41,000. How well can you do?


Birthday Freebies

Earlier this month Marcy sent an email saying that you can sign up to get free Cold Stone Creamery ice cream on your birthday. I’m not embarrassed to say that I took advantage of that offer right away. And because my birthday is coming up at the end of this month, I did a little more sleuthing. Other worthwhile birthday offers include Baskin Robbins, Red Robin, and Noodles & Co. In the interest of not getting too much junk email, I only signed up for those, but there are longer lists if you look hard enough. Here’s to free food!

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Just Arrived

Looky here! My very first PIF craft exchange arrival from Denise at Marleymor! Organic chocolates, meditative teas, a darling decorative tile with button magnet (inside the red tissue with raffia. I took the picture before I opened it because it was so pretty) and a sweet pair of rose blush colored earrings! Thanks so much Denise. I can see why everyone gets so excited for these little goodies in the mail. They’re so fun and full of surprises!


Free Holiday Cheer Board Game

Holiday Cheer Game

Holiday Cheer Board Game – download free pdf here

A couple of weeks ago while I was shopping at Michael’s I made several spur of the moment holiday purchases, including 2 foamy-style rubber-stamp blocks and 3 packages of epoxy stickers. I have no idea what made me pick these items up because I don’t stamp, or use stickers (much). There was just something pretty and tactile about them that made reach out and place them on the check stand. (Actually, I was just going to buy one stamp, but it didn’t have a sku tag, so the checkout girl asked if I could grab another. Then I heard myself saying “I’ll just take that one, too”). Thank goodness they didn’t cost much!

So I’ve had these foamy stamp blocks on my desk for a while now. David asked me why I bought them and I guiltily mumbled something about probably returning them, or using them for… something. Later, I found myself tossing one around and noticing how it bounced merrily before settling. Then I thought Eureka! I could design a holiday game for my nephew with it! (Okay, so I didn’t say Eureka!, but that word perfectly described how I felt. As in: Whew! If I can make something useful/fun, then I can be excused for making an impulse buy. After all, it must have been fate at work that day, right?).

This picture is misleading. These are the two stamps I bought, but only one is used for the game.

How to Play: Here was my thought process. The foamy stamp block would work like a die that you roll (there is a snowman side, a snowflake side, a kid’s face, the words “Let it Snow,” and two blank sides). Whatever lands face up is the icon that you’d move your game piece forward to on the board. Sounds pretty easy right? The only kicker is that when you roll a blank side you lose that turn and don’t get to move forward. I designed the whole game board with this idea in mind.

I should mention here that I don’t know anything about three and a half year old boys, or any kids at all for that matter (although two of my good friends are now expecting!). Paolo, our nephew, lives in Austin and we rarely see him. I could be totally wrong about skills at that age or his interest in something like this. However, the other night when I explained this game to Marcy, she said it sounded like Candyland, which I looked up and is rated for ages 3+, which is perfect.

To make a long story short, you can download my Holiday Cheer Game here. It’s pretty large, with a full size of 17 x 22″ so it has to be printed out (or tiled) in four sections if you’re printing it out on regular letter-sized paper, like I did. Then I pasted the sheets to a larger piece of thin cardstock for durability/foldability.

Playing Cards: Unless you happen to find the same stamp block at Michael’s, the best way to play is to print out a second set of pages and cut out the squares from the game board to use as cards. Instead of rolling a die, you would set the stack of “cards” face down and each player would draw a card and then move his or her game piece forward to the nearest icon indicated. You would also have to cut out some “blank” cards to use as “lose a turn.”

Holiday Cheer Game

These are the simple plastic playing pieces I made . I would have preferred something more 3D, but they seem to work okay.

Game Pieces: I made game pieces out of Shrinky Dinks plastic (I am having such fun with that stuff!), but any small objects will do. Playing pieces from another game, a set of erasers, coins, bottle caps or anything that will fit on the squares should work.

Advanced Play: Depending on the level of the players, you can make the game harder by adding additional rules. For example, instead of two players sharing a square, maybe the original player gets kicked off his space and moved backward to the nearest same icon. Or maybe he moves all the way back to start! It’s up to you.

Have fun!


Unique & Funky Halloween Candy Alternatives

eye balls bowl
Last year we did not give out candy for Halloween. Instead we found a package of 80 mini play-dohs in a variety of colors at our local Costco. It was nice to give out something different for a change, and the neighborhood kids were really excited to be getting items other than the same old traditional candy.

This year I was hoping to find another interesting, yet affordable alternative. If only I had stocked up during some of the back-to-school sales this fall! There were bins filled with fun pencils, erasers, mini-notebooks, crayons, and stickers for cheap. Now, they’re no where to be had. Party store favors would be a good place to check – a flyer that came today featured a 60ct bag of plastic spider rings for 99¢ (although these might be a possible choking hazard). And Target sells this pack of 24ct party bubbles for $3.99.

party bubbles


eye balls candy

Anyway, today at Costco, I decided to revert to candy. Despite this post, I’m not against candy. I’m just against the boring, uninspired kind. For $8.99 comes this pack of 90ct individually wrapped Absolute Sweet “Eye Ballzz” gummy candy. Aren’t they so funky and gross? David tried one, and yes, they’re edible. I don’t know how many parents will actually let their kids eat them, but I’m sure the kids will get a kick out of getting them!

Meanwhile, for those of you who would truly like to give candy alternatives, here is a list compiled from nationalserviceresources.org and palmettohealth.org.

  • Temporary tattoos
  • Stickers
  • Pencils
  • Fancy erasers
  • Pencil toppers
  • Crayons
  • Coins (pennies, nickels, dimes)
  • Small novelty toys
  • False teeth
  • Superballs
  • “Slime”
  • Miniature magnifying glasses
  • Plastic jewelry/decoder rings
  • Necklaces
  • Glow-sticks
  • Sugar-free candy
  • Tiny decks of cards
  • Plastic medals
  • Fake money
  • Origami paper & instructions
  • Bubbles
  • Granola bars
  • pretzels
  • cheese and cracker packs
  • sugar free gum
  • packets of instant hot chocolate or cider
  • miniature raisin boxes
  • single serving nut packets

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Cirque du Soliel's "Corteo"


Yay! We just purchased tickets to see Cirque du Soliel’s Corteo when it comes to Portland in March 2008. It sucks to have to buy tickets so far in advance, but they sell out so quickly! I’ve been lucky to see several Cirque du Soliel performances in my life including Allegria, Quidam, Varekai, Dralion, Mystere, and my absolute favorite show of all time, “O,” which I saw last year at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The acting, colors, props, costumes, music, stunts… all of it is mind blowing! They create this whole other world, and transport you for a couple hours into an alternate reality of beauty, action and sound. It’s magical – truly the best show on earth.

I can hardly wait!

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David and I, A Simpson's Portrait

David & Emily

David simpsonized us the other day after taking two bad head-shots of us first thing in the morning. I was barely awake when he said “hold still” and stuck the camera in my face. It didn’t take too long to upload the photos, but despite the many options I don’t really feel that I look quite right. Part of it is the dress. Normally I don’t wear dresses, although I wore one very similar to this one last week for Marcy and Alex’s marriage at the courthouse. But I almost always wear V-necks and this was the only outfit that had one. I do wear a set of pearl earrings fairly often. David looks okay, but he doesn’t own a pair of black shorts and he’d wear flip-flops with that outfit instead. An interesting 20 minute diversion nonetheless.


Pay It Forward Craft Exchange – Handmade for you!

I was reading pricklypearbloom’s post about something called the Pay It Forward Craft Exchange. This paragraph sums it up:

I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week… LOL… but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

So basically, if you comment, I’ll send you something crafty that I’ll make. Once you sign up, copy and paste the above paragraph on your blog, and three other lucky people will be recipients of your handmade work. And thus the cycle continues. I just signed up at woolliemind, marleymor and esmereldaknits. How fun is that?


Melting a Vinyl Record into a Bowl

Melted Vinyl Bowl Record

David made the funniest things yesterday. He found directions on how to melt old records and by the time I came home a copy of Sheena Easton, Eurythmics and Village People had been turned into objets d’art.

He said making them is really easy. All you need is an oven and an oven-proof “form” for the record to melt onto for shape. In this case, David used our glass set of mixing bowls. First heat the oven to 200 degrees and place the glass bowl inside, upside-down, to pre-heat. Once heated, set the record on top of the warmed bowl, making sure to center it. After just a few minutes the record will start to soften and drape onto the glass bowl. At this point you can quickly reach in and adjust some of the folds, but you won’t have a lot of time before they harden into place. David achieved the best result by pre-heating two nesting glass bowls (one slightly smaller than the other). The smaller bowl was on the bottom (still upside down) and once the record started to melt, he placed the larger bowl on top of it to help even out the natural ruffle shape that occurs. Voila!

melted vinyl record bowls

melted vinyl record bowl sideview

I’m not sure the exact site that David used, but these directions come with good photos. I also found directions on how to make an awesome looking vinyl record wrist cuff. Good thing we have such a large collection of records to experiment with.

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Day Trippin' – Hood River, Maryhill and Stonehenge

Today we decided to go to Maryhill Museum in Goldendale, Washington, about 1 1/2hrs from Portland. The drive took us through the magnificent Columbia River Gorge, past incredible waterfalls (like the famous Multnomah, the second highest year-round waterfall in the United States), two huge dams (the Bonneville and the Dalles, where Google’s new 30 acre campus is located), and mountainous rock walls and sparkling river views.

Columbia River Gorge Farm Breakfast

We’ve explored the Gorge on many previous trips, so today we drove straight through, except for one important detour to the Historic Columbia Gorge Hotel, located in Hood River. I had heard about their “World Famous Farm Breakfast” and thought it would be a perfect way to start the morning, especially since we would have already been on the road for about an hour.

The 5-course breakfast is a fun treat for $30/person. Seating is in a “morning room” to the left of the main dining area with beautiful views of the river and the hotel’s well-maintainged landscape. When you arrive the table is preset with a pedestal fruit tray, then comes a whole baked apple and delicious crispy apple fritter, oatmeal with brown sugar, a choice of entree – I chose the rainbow trout with 3 farm eggs and hashbrowns and David chose the croissant with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, and to finish a country biscuit with butter and local wildflower honey. A lot of food, but all so scrumptous! Afterwards, we spent a little time exploring the gardens and grounds, including the view of the 207-ft Wah-Gwin-Gwin Falls. I can see why this hotel is so popular for weddings and other special occasions.

Maryhill Museum of Art was maybe another half hour east of Hood River. The museum collection was nice, but not one I would likely visit again, although they did have a nice collection of Faberge, Rodin sculptures, and memorable international chess sets among the other fine art. I preferred the view and the outdoors, especially the current Outdoor Sculpture Invitational. And curiously, there were quite a few wild peacocks randomly roaming around. Their call is something awful and I was startled more than once by an eruption of loud barking screams. They seem to wander freely and we were able to get surprisingly close.

Maryhill, Peacock, Scenic View

Another unique part of Maryhill is its full-scale replica of England’s Stonehenge. Apparently Sam Hill, the wealthy entrepreneur who bought the 6,000 acres of land overlooking the Columbia River, erected the structure as a world war 1 memorial as a reminder that ‘humanity is still being sacrificed to the god of war.” I wonder how he’d feel knowing that almost 100 years later, that remains to be true.

Maryhill, Stonehenge, Scenic View

The winds at Stonehenge were so fierce while we were there that we stayed only long enough to snap a few photos and take in the blustery view. We could barely stand in one place, so we decided to head back to Hood River for dinner and a little shopping in their charming historic district. Being Sunday, many shops were closed by the time we arrived, so I definitely plan to come back and look around more another time. David chose the Full Sail Brewery for dinner and were we lucked out with the best two person table in the house – right next to the large back windows with a perfect view of windsurfers and kite boarders in the distance. We even talked about looking into a lesson one day soon.

Columbia River Gorge Scenic Views

After living here for 7 years it is hard to believe there are so many trips like this still out there waiting for us, a mere couple hours away. And the variety of it all, beaches, mountains, canyons, waterfalls, forests, rivers, lakes… there is just so much to see and and experience. Its too easy to think ‘someday I’ll do that…’ instead of making time to do it. So right now I’m really proud of us, and satisfied that our day was so well spent and rewarded.

 All these photos and more can be seen here through my flickr account.


Dewey Color System Profile

Neenah Paper's Dewey Color Book

This morning David and I had breakfast at the Hawthorne Cafe where West Coast Paper Rep Laura Waxlax and Neenah Paper Rep Kerrie Bonner presented great new samples including the new/updated Eames line – which carries some of my favorite papers.

Neenah does a great job designing their samples and they’re always fun to get. This set included an interesting book developed from a simplified version of the Dewey Color System by Dewey Sadka. Dewey’ owns an incredibly succesful employment agency worth millions. He believes that a person’s color preferences can be used as a tool to interpret their personality. Neenah’s version only reveals positve information (naturally).

There are three easy steps to find your profile:

  1. The first choice is between Yellow, Blue or Red. I chose Blue and the paragraph begins by saying “You are a dreamer and a visionary – wistful, imaginative and eccentric…”
  2. The second choice is between Green, Purple or Orange. I chose Green: “You have fun nurturing and supporting others…”
  3. The third and final choice is between black, white or brown. I chose Brown: “Even when they don’t ask, you’re able to tell others what they need. Your amazing awareness instantly identifies practical solutions. Issues are resolved more quickly thanks to your realistic approach and clear understanding of what’s actually required to complete a task. This is your great talent. Use it to promote sound business practices and positive work environments. You are the dream-maker. Everyone benefits from your sound advice, especially you.”

Hmm, I guess I should take my advice more often then.

You can go to the Dewey Color System website to get your own free profile overview.

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Easy Mother's Day Gift: Eyeglass Necklace

Handmade Eyeglass Necklace Lariat

I just made the easiest Mother’s Day gift. I got the idea after perusing RedEnvelope.com which has been a great source of special occasion gifts in the past (including this adorable lamb baby blanket personalized with name and birthdate that I just bought for my friend Janine). They sell a pearl eyeglass lariat necklace for $110 that not only looks great, but is also functional (my favorite). My mom wears reading glasses and I know she has nothing like this. But what I don’t know is if this would be something she’d actually use.

Instead of gambling on a hundred dollar necklace, and after making the mother’s day cards (see previous post), I felt like this might be something I could make myself. At our nearby craft store I picked up two 14″ lengths of blue and amethyst crystal glass beads and a package of metal flower-shaped toggles, all by Blue Moon Beads. Once home I used some of my husband’s steelhead fishing line to string it all together, making the toggle the pendant and focal point. This would be what holds a pair of reading glasses. I can’t believe how easy it was, plus I was lucky to find all the items on sale. I paid less than $10 for everything.

My mom pretty much never wears fake jewelry and I’m not sure she is going to wear this. But if she does find it useful then I’ll seriously consider getting her a designer version later. I’d love to make one for my mother-in-law, too, but David and I remembered that she had corrective vision surgery a while back and we’re not sure if she still uses reading glasses. And I don’t know why, but David doesn’t want to ask. I’ve never done anything like this before, but it was pretty fun, and something I’ll likely try again.

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Making Modern Mother's Day Cards

Handmade Mother's Day Cards

With Mother’s Day only a week away, I spent some time making cards for both my mother and mother-in-law. I briefly thought about buying new, which is something I really enjoy considering the many boutique-style card shops in Portland, but the ones I like always seem ridiculously expensive, not to mention that greeting cards aren’t very environmentally friendly. Truthfully, I have SO many old blank cards, note cards, fancy papers, saved cards, envelopes, embellishments and art supplies that I basically own my own mini-boutique. I decided to simply recycle and use what I already have.

I started with two blank white cards (left over from our handmade wedding thanks you’s from three years ago – a sign of how long I tend to keep things). For the flower card, I used a pre-made package of paper and rhinestone flower embellishments that I’ve had laying around forever. I cut the adhesive backing into pieces so I could arrange them in a pleasing shape before I stuck them on. Easy.

For the next card, I recycled a used one that someone once sent and cut out the three circles and butterfly. Then I attached them with small white foam squares to add dimension. One of the benefits of using this particular card stock is that it already has an embossed texture, including a frame in the middle to help direct the eye. Without it, I would have had to do a little more work with the design, but in this case simplicity works wonderfully.

For writing the message on the inside I usually like to use GellyRoll Glaze pens, which when dry leave a raised line that you can feel – almost like thermography. Instead I found better color matches with my Costco set of Gel’n Roll glitter/metallic pens (a bargain for a set of 50+ colors). After addressing and adding the extra postage for square envelopes, they are ready to be shipped off, right on time.


"One Word" – Email Fun!

A co-worker of mine sent me this great email. It reads like this:

The Game is on !!!

Describe me in one word…. just one single word. Send it to me and to me only.

Then send this message to all your friends and see how many strange & interesting things they say about you. This is really fun.

Here’s how:

1. Hit the reply key and send me my one word.

2. Then return to this message, and forward it to your friends (including me) and see what people say about you when limited to one word !!!

I thought for a minute and replied to her with the word “enlightened” and she wrote back to me with the word “stylish.” Then I sent it out to a few other trusted friends and got the words gardener, steam, charming, complex, and lover (this word from my husband, naturally!). It is so interesting to find out which words people choose, yet easy because there is no need for them to explain themselves. (Thanks Anne!)

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