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I cook poorly, I craft obsessively and I love the look of a retro cocktail. When I am feeling guilty about taking time away from my family with my obsessions, I make videos about my guilt as "The Guilty Crafter" or I blog here. Thanks for stopping by!


Anatomy of an April Fools' Day Lunch, Year 4

For the past few years, I've blogged about the lunches I pack for my kids on April Fools' Day. I thought I may have outdone myself last year with the pet food containers I very carefully cleaned out and filled with (wrapped!) lunch foods. I giggled about that one all day as I thought of them opening their lunches in front of their friends and teachers.

This year, we have an unexpected bonus. We're hosting a Japanese exchange student for the week who is not expecting anything. My daughter said there was no way I could pull the same prank I pulled on my husband and son this morning. Can you imagine?! I'd have to dig through his suitcase which *might* be taking things too far.  But lunch? That I can do.  Naturally, I am considering this an educational and cultural lesson.  I even thought of a very American spin on the whole concept- junk food! 

Now I will be giggling all day thinking of our sweet exchange student opening his lunch. I put a note in his that says "What is April Fools' Day?" hoping he'd have the presence of mind to ask one of his tour chaperones. This is just too good. I've been trying very hard to act normal since he got here but I guess today we are moving on to a new level in our relationship. 

Really. I am giggling.


1 dress, 3 Looks

Working for Rit Dye has been going great. I love a totally open-ended product. I've been dyeing like a crazy woman. My latest fun has been this dress project ($14 from Ebay- Call me, Ebay Stories!) where I am planning on using color remover and dye to dye the same dress for different occasions all year long.

You can read my inaugural Rit Studio blog post about the project HERE. And yes, I really AM wearing this dress around town. I wore the fushcia version to my kiddo's school Valentine's Day party and yesterday, I insisted our whole family headed over to the local Irish pub and pretend we like Irish food and dark beer.* 

*I actually like shepherd's pie but only because I hope the meat is beef rather than the lamb I suspect it is. And only those few moments before my kids start insisting what I'm eating is actually german shepherd pie and is made of dog. They enjoy eating with an adult who is a pickier eater than they are. Kids are evil.



DIY Colonial-style Wig Made from Paper

The most dreaded sentence of parenthood: "Mom, I need a costume...for tomorrow." I can't even imagine not being a crafty mom in these situations. Luckily I usually have the right supplies on hand to whip something out in the time it takes Kiddo1 & Kiddo2 to eat their morning cereal. But for this project, even the most resolutely non-crafty parent can pull it all together in a few minutes.

Kiddo2 has a speech this week about a colonial loyalist (is that an oxymoron?). With no notice, I simply cut several 3" strips of paper from a few sheets of computer paper and taped them on to a hotel shower cap (that part was Kiddo2's idea). To curl the strips, I wound the ends of the paper around a thick marker. The bow is cut from black craft paper.

I might get into this paper wig making thing. No one loves a crazy wig more than I do!


I am Newsworthy. Kinda.

This past Friday, I received a phone call from the producer of a local morning news show here in Portland asking if I would be interested in coming on and doing a craft segment. Um, YES! I love adding weird life experience to my "done-that" list. "Great!" she said, "See you Tuesday!" Wait. Did she just say Tuesday? THIS Tuesday?!

[Scramble, scramble, minor freak-out...]

And then, just like that, I'm in the green room with one of my first Portland-area friends (thanks for coming, Kim!). I was decked out in a retro cocktail dress while gearing myself up to crank up the kooky. And then we met the other 3 guests of the day: The elegant and spiritual Germaine Parra, author of "Searching for the Caravan: A Reconciliation with Love, Science and Divinity," the warm and charming Mantu Joshi whose book " The Resilient Parent: Everday Wisdom for Life with Your Exceptional Child" was written in his limited spare time as he stays home to raise his family's 3 small children. And then there was the high-energy duo of Lisa Cohn and her little boy Michael who have co-authored a children's book about how to deal with the loss of a pet ("Bash and Lucy"). Michael is 5. FIVE. So yeah.

Oh, and me? I made a bottle cap to hang off of some booze. (See the picture below to put that into perspective). Naturally I started humming this tune and dialed myself back at bit on the kooky factor. But still. Good times. I loved the experience and what wonderful people to hang out with on a random Tuesday morning in my new hometown. Afterwards, Kim and I went to breakfast and then did a little shopping at Goodwill with me still wearing my retro cocktail dress and sparkly tights- no one so much as batted an eye. I love this town.

Oh- and you can catch my segment online here (and yes, my hair was crazy. I haven't found a hairstylist here that can take me at a moment's notice. See also: humidity.):

Guests' projects, in clockwise order, starting at the top left: spiritual, caring and helpful, moving and inspirational. And my booze charm. Nice.


How to Decorate Free Slippers

If you're having a really good (fancy) vacation, someone, at some point, is going to give you free, white slippers. You might get a pair while you're luxuriating at a spa, you might find some waiting in your swanky hotel or you might be given a less fluffy pair after you've gotten a fancy pedicure. Or maybe you just buy yourself a clearance rack pair of white slippers at Macys and pretend that you've been on a fancy vacation (guilty). The common theme is, they're always white. *Yawn.*

Check out how I jazzed up the pair of plain white slippers I received while I was out of town earlier this week. I do work for Rit Dye so you know I can't be content with just plain, old white, right? It's as easy as using a cosmetic sponge to color the slippers in any hue that you like. The only crafty curve-ball I added to this project was using Elmer's blue gel glue to act as a resist to the dye. Put the glue wherever you don't want dye and they sky is the limit on design options. I went for my go-to fave: polka dots.

P.S. You can always peek at more of my Rit Dye work via my Rit Studio at:

P.P.S. You can buy Rit Dye in a variety of colors and the Elmer's gel glue at your local Walmart, Michaels or Joann Stores.



Lessons I've Learned being the Mom of a Teenager

Today it's official. I am the mom of the dreaded genus of human beings: the Teenager. So far, I'm about 2 hours into this experience and, despite all the alarming articles I've read on the HuffPost and over at, it's been really great. So great in fact, that I've only learned one big lesson so far. And I'd like to share that with you so here it is:

Be very specific when you order a cake from an ice cream shop you haven't patronized previously. You may have gotten the EXACT same cake for the past few years for your kiddo- the only consistent thing he requests every year for his birthday- at your local shop but if you move (or even if you're on the other side of town on a lark): ask to see that book of cake examples. Point specifically to what you want. If you want, hypothetically, a cake with ice cream cones on top, don't assume they know what you mean. Just because you don't use the word "clown" or you are too new in your relationship to the cashier at the new Baskin Robbins to have shared your fear of dolls (and by natural extention, their close cousins - clowns), don't assume this shop isn't clown-centric.

On the plus side, this will be a good footnote in my kiddo's future memoir. Classy, pratically sophisticated cake from ages 1-12, scary/infantile cake for year 13. At least it tastes the same. Except for the eyes. Don't eat ice cream clown eyes. They're terrible.


Custom Dyed Buttons/ I'm a Ritster

It's a few days before Christmas which means it's the most natural time in the world for me to start crafting. Anything to avoid holiday cooking, cleaning and gift wrapping. It happens every year. This week I was particularly inspired to craft because I just got back from learning some techniques to working with Rit Dye as part of my new relationship with Rit as their "DYE-signer Network Curator" (and yes, they let me invent my own title, wasn't that nice?). More on that later, back to procrastination...

Here's how this project happened- I was on my way back from an appointment and was racing against the clock to get home and participate in a conference call. Holiday traffic, being what it is, conspired to get me stuck in the car for my conference call- RIGHT next to my favorite local thrift store. So, yes, I have more important things to do but it did really seems as though it was fate to run into the thrift store when my call was over. And that's where I found this super lovely Elevenses jacket. I know the brand from my many dream shopping trips through Anthropologie so I scooped it up and raced to the checkstand. It was missing a few buttons but other than that, it's in excellent shape so I figured I'd buy new buttons on the way home (procrastinating even more, see how I am?).

At the fabric store, I'm sure they thought I was shoplifting. I stayed in the button aisle for at least 1/2 hour. I put buttons all over my jacket, took photos, uploaded the best photo to Facebook to ask my online friends their opinion. I eventually decided that some big wood buttons were sort of okay but they only had 2 and I needed 5. Ugh. But then it dawned on me- DYE my own with all the dye I got this week at training! DUH! (and shout out to my fave buttons- Blumenhthal Lansing- I bought a few cards of their natual wood buttons but they've send me buttons in the past and they are the nicest people).

So that's what you see here. Quickly dyed buttons (directions in my Rit Studio if you want the specs- it's crazy how little there is to do to dye wood well), new-to-me jacket and a WHOLE lot of holiday chores left undone while I look around the house for other things to dye. Tis the season!


Mad Men Retro Cocktail Party Menu

As I continue to adjust to life in a new city, I have tried to make good on my vow to throw myself into social activities to make friends. Don't misunderstand me, there's a reason I spend so much of my time on Facebook and writing blog posts. Don't tell anyone but I'm a little bit shy- don't let all the crazy photos here fool you, I have to work at being social until I feel really comfortable with a group of people. So when my kiddo's elementary school announced they would be selling tickets to their annual fall dinner/auction fundraiser, I promised myself I would go. When I heard the event was going to be Mad Men themed, I WANTED to go. A retro themed party where attendees are encouraged to wear 60's era clothing? Yes please.

On the day the tickets went on sale, I stayed home. I figured I'd pick up a pair the next day. I still hadn't broken the news to Mr. Angela Daniels that there was a vintage smoking jacket and ascot in his future AND I was planning on making him be charming for a whole evening filled with strangers and awkard first-time meetings. Then I got the email that the event had sold out. SOLD OUT. First day. I was relieved/disappointed. But there was nothing else for me to do but to follow-through on my second vow of living in this new city- volunteering as a way to meet people. In keeping with that spirit, I created this for the event:

The organizers chose the drinks and found the photos and I created the menu, adding in the ingredients for each retro cocktail. Pretty darn cute, I think. Notice the Sterling Cooper logo at the bottom? And you know what? I created the whole thing on my computer at home and didn't meet a single person as I worked via email on revisions with the party organizers. The road to Hell and all that...

Anyway, to make up for missing this fun party, I'm thinking of recreating it myself one of these days and I thought someone out there might be planning their own Mad Men cocktail party so I thought I'd share the menu to save you some time. You can find the 4x6 printable version here. And when you're making out your invitations, maybe consider a secretly shy blogger. We're pretty fun in person- once we take that first step. Cheers.


Printable Flamingo Friday Flyer

After posting here and here about my successful attempts at bringing Flamingo Fridays to my old neighborhood and now to my new one, I've had a lot of people ask if they can have a copy of the flyer I created. Mine had our names, the date of the event and our address on it but I have modified my original flyer a bit so that you can simply print it off and deliver to your neighbors. Community mailboxes are a great place to let everyone know about Flamingo Fridays too. Just click the link below, choose "Printable Flamingo Friday Flyer" and print:

Printable Flamingo Friday Flyer


I'm a Mother Flocker

After months of craziness, we're finally settling into our new hometown. Last Thursday, I was still one day away from getting all of my craft supplies delivered from storage (that's 4 months of no crafting supplies which is about 3 months longer than celebrities go through rehab for their addictions, by the way) but I DID manage to pull off a creative event this past Friday in our new neighborhood.

Remember a few years ago, I blogged about Flamingo Fridays (seriously, go ahead and click and read it, I'll wait) and how our new neighbor and my dear friend Marion had brought the tradition with her from another state? Well, now it was my turn to bring the traditon to my new state. The goal, as always, is a stress-free, casual event that encourages neighbors to get together a few times during the summer. I typed up a quick flyer (so quick that my first set said "Flaming Fridays" which I think is a whole other kind of thing I would also enjoy but doesn't have the same wide appeal) that explained the whole event.

I was panicking all week- I couldn't find my (many) plastic pink flamingos to decorate our yard, we were anticipating a big moving truck and lots of work unloading all day Friday and I just didn't feel up to making a drink, making myself look presentable and hosting an event after such a long day. I almost ditched the idea several times (like after the typo on the flyer and also when the printer ran out of ink and I had to hand-color the flamingos pink- I can't be sure but I may be the only mom in existence who has muttered strings of profanity about cartoon flamingos while coloring them). But I did it anyway because I didn't want to spend too long on our new street not knowing anyone and, more importantly, I wanted my kids to get a sense of community immediately in our new neighborhood. And besides, they were pestering me like crazy to do it so they volunteered to deliver all the flyers for me.

Got that? It wasn't convenient, I didn't feel like I had enough time or energy but I did it anyway. That's the key. And you know what happened? Neighbors came. They said things like, "Wow. This is SUCH a great idea, I've always meant to meet everyone but never found the right time." You know what else? We were introducing neighbors to each other who had lived, side-by-side, for 7 years. Years. They didn't even know each other's names. And the best thing? Turns out there were kids hiding in these houses all summer. They didn't even realize there were more kids on the same street until they came over for Flamingo Friday.

Fast-forward a few days and now I know who I'm waving to as I walk my kiddo to the bus. One neighbor brought me homegrown tomatoes and a basil plant so I could try the recipe she had mentioned on Friday night. Another neighbor made us a huge and delicious Persian dish when I commented that I love Persian food. When I walked over to pick up my big kid from his first day of school, he had already started walking home with another kid who lives across the street.

I am so happy that I ignored my initial instincts to simply live here and not make the first move to meet my neighbors. Sometimes it takes just a tiny bit of effort to change the dynamic of a neighborhood. Even if it means you have to accept that you may become known on your street as the mother flocker. I don't know about you but I've been called worse.

Feel free to print out the Flamingo Friday Flyer I created here (if you do, please do share how your first FF goes!):

Printable Flamingo Friday Flyer

P.S. I'll post my go-to, pink "Flamingo Friday" drink soon. It's so good. With or without the vodka shots. But mostly with.