Gonna Write you a Letter

8 weeks away from my due date and I’m starting to get nervous!  The baby’s room is nowhere near done, Julius’ birthday is unplanned, and I haven’t started on our Halloween costumes yet!  Well, I guess we did completely clean out the baby’s room.  That was a big step because it used to be the office and involved completely moving Will’s desk and a number of other things.  In the process we donated 10 huge boxes of books to the library, which felt liberating.  I’m working on Julius’ birthday, but we have no idea what we are going to do covid-wise.  Virtual is out of the question, Julius can’t sit still in front of skype for more than 5 minutes.  But, we have been such hermits, it is hard to gauge what others would consider normal.  Even if we invite just one family over to celebrate with us, I’m not sure if that is in people’s comfort zone.

One thing is checked off the list though – DanyCon!  It was certainly a lot less work this year because it was virtual but because I had to mail out the swag bags it also meant I couldn’t procrastinate up until the night before.  I did start everything well in advance of DanyCon, but still ended up staying up late the night before my (self imposed) mailing deadline.   As for give aways, I think the custom Collins/Colton copy of love letter is my favorite so far.  It was a lot of work, but I think it ultimately took me less time than printing and cutting out copies of Secret Hitler for everyone.  We have introduced everyone to Love Letter many years ago and given many copies of Love Letter out as prizes for both DanyCon and our Medieval party.  I’m pretty sure everyone in the Collins/Colton tribe already owns Love Letter… but now they own a super cool DanyCon custom copy!  Also as a side-bar isn’t it amazing that I had/was able to get pictures of almost everyone in Ren Attire?

DanyCon Custom Love Letter

Even though I have all the templates saved, I don’t want this to be a substitute for buying the actual game… so if you make your own custom copy you’ll have to do the work of making the card art yourself.

Custom Loveletter

What You’ll Need (for each copy):

  1. Design cards. Design loveletter cards on paint.net.  I used one picture for each character, and changed them all using the “oil paintings” effect.  Then I layered over each card the number, name and description.  I made each canvas 2.5″x3.5″.  I designed the back of the cards as well.
  2. Print cards.  I moved all the cards one by one into MS Word and adjusted the margins so I could fix 9 per page in a 3×3 grid.  I then printed the front side of the cards, inserted the pages back in upside down and printed backs on each.
  3. Finish cards.  I next inserted each page into a laminating pouch and put it through the laminator on the highest setting.  I then fed it through a second time for good measure.  Finally I cut out the cards using my paper cutter, and trimmed the ends.
  4. Make pouch. Fold fabric in half to form 6″x5″ rectangle.  Stitch side seams together, .5″ seam allowance, leaving 1.25″ open at the top.  Press seams. Fold top of bag down .75″ each side.  Stitch .5″ from the fold.
  5. Finish pouch.  Feed one length of ribbon through front of bag from left to right, and then back of bag from right to left.  Tie ends together.  Feed second length of ribbon through front of bag from right to left and then back of bag from left to right.  Tie ends together.
  6. Assemble. Insert cards, 13 heart tokens, and rules (if you made them) into pouch. Find some friends to play with.  (Or play virtually on BGA.)
Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 4 Comments

DanyCon 2020 (or how to host a virtual board game convention)

Well last weekend we held Virtual DanyCon 2020!  The first event of it’s kind!  As you know if you’re a regular blog reader every year we hold a board game convention for the Collins and Colton siblings to get together and have some fun.  The convention was started after we got our lovable corgi Dany, well before children.  Usually I make all the food everyone flies in from every corner of the globe to spend a 3 day weekend together.  This year covid made that impossible, so we had to improvise.  While we didn’t get to see each other in person I think it is safe to say that everyone had an awesome time!  It was so much fun Will and I are contemplating holding a virtual DanyCon weekend once a year in addition to the full DanyCon – covid or not!

Meemah and Meepah watched Julius and Dany for most of the weekend so we could play board games, but here’s our family photo!

30 weeks pregnant for DanyCon 2020!

Rubbing the bellies of my two favorite puppies.


The Logistics

Before the game started we requested everyone make 3 different accounts – one on Board Game Arena, one on Yucata, and on on Discord.  On Will’s Discord server he set up 4 virtual break out rooms, so we could pop into a break out room anytime we were playing a separate game.  This worked amazingly well, as discord allows you to switch rooms with just a click.

Here is the DanyCon Discord! You can see that in addition to the General audio channel there are also breakout rooms: Unicorn, Hippogriff, Flumph and Troll (not shown).


DanyCon wouldn’t be the same without swag bags, so this year we mailed everyone their swag bags via the USPS.  We sent them a week ahead of DanyCon and they got to everyone within 3 days!  At a time where the USPS is struggling, I just want to throw a shout out to them for how awesome they have been to us during this pandemic.  For all of the projects I’ve done during covid that required getting things from here to there, I’ve used the USPS – this includes ladies’ nights, virtual retirement celebrations, baby sex reveals among others.  They make it so easy to weigh packages in your home, buy postage, and even schedule a pick up during your normal delivery time at no added cost!  They are awesome!  Will and I in Lancaster are considered on a “rural” postal route so we are even able to order stamps and other supplies just by adding a check with instructions into our mailbox – without going to the post office!  It is awesome.  Okay, you get it, support the USPS.

Contents of DanyCon 2020 swag box!

The swag this year included a t-shirt (purple rainbow – Julius’ choice), matching DanyCon masks, a Collins/Colton themed copy of Love Letter (post will come soon), one free month of Board Game Arena Premium (I just made these cute cards and then venmoed everyone $4 when they opened their bags) and finally DanyCon The Game – which was an awesome themed escape room in a box created by Mark and Erin!

Will and my assembly line for packing swag boxes.


Here’s our DanyCon program, you can see all the fun activities we had planned.


Usually we have a prize table setup at the end of DanyCon and everyone gets to pick a prize based on their rankings in the tournament.  That just wasn’t possible this year, so instead we gave out Amazon gift cards to the first, second and third place winners!  The tournament theme this year was “Push your Luck” and we played several rounds of Can’t Stop (on BGA), Incan Gold (on BGA) and Port Royal (on Yucata), counting the number of first place wins for each person.  The tournament was a nice way to introduce everyone to the two different board game platforms.

DanyCon The Game

Our first activity was to do Erin and Mark’s DanyCon The Game – an escape room in a box.  It was SUPER FUN!  Will and I and Mark and Erin do a lot of games of the escape room in a box genre, and we coordinate purchases and swap games every time we see each other in person.  They did a great job with the game, and I hope they will do a guest post on it (maybe while I’m swamped with a newborn).  There were so many great cards that it was hard to pick my favorite, but this one might be it…

My favorite DanyCon The Game Card <3

Will and I playing DanyCon The Game

Mark and Erin explaining their escape room – they popped in and out of breakout zoom meetings to spy on everyone and provide them help if needed.


Will and I came up with another one off DnD adventure since last year’s was such a hit.  We once again split into two groups and Will and I each were DM for one group.  This adventure wasn’t quite as obviously intertwined between games, though in actuality it was more intertwined… but only the DMs knew.  The game involved both a traitor and time travel mechanics which influenced the games, so Will’s game (the past) started 30 minutes after my game (the future).  Will hosted his game over discord entirely on audio, and I hosted mine on Zoom with video.  If you want to see our write ups and potentially do the same adventure yourself, I have posted them here:  Will DM Past, Lexi DM Future.

Here’s my group solving the main puzzle.


Will made a neat Sporcle-type puzzle where players could individually input answers that had lots of references for the Collins and Colton families.  Will built the entire website from the ground up, and it was lots of fun!  If you want to check it out – here’s the link, but you’ll have to email me (or Will) to request access.


As always, we have some ideas for improvements next time.

First, while Discord was great for switching between rooms easily, and I would definitely use it again for a virtual board game convention, it had some problems.  There were glitches where one person would be unable to hear one other person in the room’s audio.  It was totally bizarre and happened several times over the weekend – luckily the way to fix it was for the person who couldn’t be heard to just to hang up their audio and reconnect.  We also tried Discord’s video option, but it seemed to take up a lot of bandwidth.  Most people don’t have any issues with Zoom but we faced a lot of dropped calls with Discord.

It was hard to coordinate with 3 different time zones, so I left food breaks off the schedule unlike in previous years.  This meant people sort of had to coordinate during free play to make their lunches and dinners.

While we intended to use both Yucata and Board Game Arena, BGA was so much more user friendly that 90% of our games were played on their platform.  Next year I think we should try to play some more on Yucata.

Final Remarks

Overall it was a great weekend!  After the weekend ended, we all started dozens of turn based (non-real time) games with each other.  And as an added bonus – this past Friday a group of us even played more virtual games on BGA because we had so much fun last weekend!


Posted in Parties | 4 Comments

On the case

Will asked for a case for his switch last year at Christmas.  Oops I finally delivered for Will’s birthday this year.  Will was worried about the joysticks and buttons getting mashed in a homemade case so that was my main concern.  After much deliberation and a couple quick prototypes I decided to use some leftover foam from one of the board games we had, and cut indentations into it.  Originally I intended to glue the foam to the outside of the case, but foam is tricky to glue and most of the glue that is okay to use is pretty toxic.  For pregnancy’s safe I didn’t glue it yet, but it seems to be working out well so far.. so I may never glue it.

Fabric Nintendo Switch Case

What you’ll need:

  • 2 pieces of foam – 10″x4.5″x.75″
  • 1/3 yard of cotton material
  • 1/3 yard of heavyweight material – I used upholstery fabric
  • 2 yards of 1/2″ double fold bias tape
  • 6 size 16 snap fasteners
  1. Cut cotton fabric into 4 rectangles 3″x4.5″and one rectangle 10″x17″.  Repeat for heavyweight material.
  2. Pin cotton fabric to heavyweight material for each of the 5 rectangles, right sides facing out.
  3. Finish the large rectangle with bias tape, completely surrounding the perimeter.
  4. Finish the small rectangles with bias tape, leaving one long end of the rectangle open.
  5. Pin small rectangles onto each side of large rectangle, 5.5″ from the top, and 11.5″ from the top. The flap should protrude 1.75″.
  6. Stitch flaps onto bag.
  7. Cut foam pieces to accommodate joysticks and triggers.
  8. Place switch inside foam then place foam sandwiched switch on bottom-most part of case and fold upwards so top flap overlaps bottom by 2/3.
  9. Place two female snaps on one of the side flaps, .5 inches from the edge of each end of the flap.  Place the male snaps on the other flap and make sure to position the male end of the snaps so they align with the female snaps above.  Repeat for other side of case.
  10. Place final two sets of snaps on the bottom portion of the case flap.
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Handmade Thanks

Well right now I’m sitting in the waiting room of the W&I lab and I’ll be here for another three hours… failed my one hour glucose screen again (this time with baby number two)… You better believe I’m wearing my ridiculous painting mask.  Julius gets to hang out with Meemah for some summer house time while I’m here, which he was ecstatic about.  I can’t believe the summer is coming to a close… time flies when you are doing nothing.

A couple weeks ago though I had something on the schedule!  Right before Mandy and Bailey came to visit, I held another Ladies’ Night!  People seemed to enjoy it, and it required far less instruction than the last one… which meant more time for talking.  There were so many moms-to-be and recent moms there that it turned into a lot of discussions on birth… hopefully the candor didn’t scare anyone off.  As for the craft, we made hand embroidered “thank you” cards which I think came out really nice!


For mailings this time I skipped the invitations and instead invited everyone virtually.  The mailers just included what was needed for the craft.  Because I was mailing each person the materials to make a greeting card, I had to use slightly larger envelopes (size A6) to mail the craft. 


Each mailer contained:

  • White A2 Envelope
  • 80 lb colored cardstock sheet folded in quarters
  • white card, with stylized “Thank you” printed in reverse.
  • size 8 embroidery needle, enclosed in a tiny paper case
  • Single strand embroidery thread

Each mailer contained thread, needle (in yellow packet, envelope, folded cardstock, and cardstock template


  • Hand Embroidered Thank You Card
  • White A2 Envelope
  • 80 lb colored cardstock
  • 110 lb white sheet of cardstock
  • size 8 embroidery needle
  • Single strand embroidery thread to match colored cardstock
  • Glue Stick
  • Template here
  1. Fold colored cardstock in half width-wise to form a 5.5”x8.5” rectangle. Fold in half again to form a 5.5”x4.25” card.
  2. Use the template above to print out thank you embroidery template.
  3. Cut out embroidery template in a 4.5”x 3.25” rectangle with wording centered.
  4. Using the embroidery needle poke holes all along the cursive reversed “thank you” words, 1-2mm apart. (The side with the words will be the back, and will not be seen when card is constructed.)
  5. Thread your needle. Starting on the right hand side of the white “Thank you” wording, insert needle through the second hole from the right.  Pull thread through the hole, leaving a 1” tail, then insert back through the first hole around the front.  Pull tight, leaving the 1” tail.  Push needle through third hole, and back through the second hole, pulling tight.  Continue in this method, skipping a hole on the back and going back to previous hole on the right.
  6. Continue until you reach the end of the lettering, making sure to end on the back of the paper. Trim the tail.
  7. Using a glue stick, cover the back of the embroidered template in glue, be sure to encompass the tails.
  8. Center white embroidered template on your cardstock and press firmly.


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Quick Snippets

Well sorry folks, I’m going to have to make this a quick one!  I had to work late, and we have Danycon coming up in a couple weeks, so we’re finishing up some last minute preparations!  (But get ready for all those great posts!)

Let me tell you quickly some adorable Julius anecdotes.  A couple days ago Julius was laying on the floor of our screen porch underneath the pillow from one of the sofas.  This was the conversation that ensued:

Me: Julius, you look kind of tired.

Julius: I look kind of tired, but I am going to teach you how to fly a helicopter.

I need to get him some caffeine if he’s going to start teaching helicopter lessons before nap time.

Will witnessed another hilarious conversation that Julius was having with himself.  Julius was peering into the mirror while holding a measuring tape to “measure” himself.  After he “measured” himself in the mirror he looked at the tape and exclaimed “sixty pounds?!”  I have no idea where he got that from because I’m pretty sure I haven’t weighed myself in front of him.  I do empathize on unit conversion though.  I frequently get confused if oz are a weight or a volume, and really can’t tell from context clues.

I can tell you that my closet organization though is all about increasing volume without clutter.  One of the last things I did for the closet was add a couple boxes for my swimsuits.  I used a swimsuit and some pretty wrapping paper recycled from a gift from my mother in law.  It was incredibly easy and took me maybe 10 minutes total.  I was planning to do some decoupage, but this came out so great and took me far less time…

Close up of my stylish organizer…

Papered Trinket Box

What you’ll need:

  • old shoe box
  • recycled wrapping paper
  • hot glue
  1. Take your shoe box and remove the lid.  Mine had an attached lid, so I simply cut it off.

    Remove cover from box – for me this meant cutting the cover off.

  2. Place the box centered on top of your recycled wrapping paper.
  3. Pipe a strip of glue the inside portion of one long side of the shoe box at the top.  Gently press paper onto the glue.  Let dry.

    Hot glue the inside of the box.

  4. Make sure paper is pulled flush, then repeat for opposite side of shoe box.

    View of the small side of the box, with the long ends glued. You can see on the right that I have already started folding the excess material in.

  5. For the short ends of the shoe box, fold in excess paper on one side of one end so outer paper folds up flush to the end of the shoe box.

    After tucking in the extra paper on the small side of the box, fold the outside material up to meet the corner.

  6. Repeat for other side.
  7. Trim the paper, leaving about 1″ of excess fold up and over the side of the box.  Fold and glue.

    Cutting off the excess paper before folding.

  8. Repeat steps 5-7 for other short end.

    Finished organizer – note that it is unlined. If you will see the inside of the box, you may consider lining it.

  9. If I was feeling fancier I would have lined the inside of the box, but since I wasn’t going to see inside it anyway, I opted for the less paper method!

    Recycled shoe boxes make stylish organizers!


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One Small Step

We had a vacation!  We went down to visit my parents in RI, and my sister and her girlfriend drove all the way here from Colorado.  It was lots of fun, and perhaps more importantly almost felt normal.  Mandy and Bailey were extra careful because they know I’m so paranoid, so they quarantined for 14 days before they came up and then to be extra cautious took a covid test the day before they left.  One bonus to them driving over half the country was that they were able to bring their dogs!

Julius had a blast!  He was so happy to see everyone, hang out on the lake, pretend to be a dog, etc.  On the last night of the trip (extended by one day because at the last minute I found out I didn’t have to work on Sunday) he said to me, pensively “we are not leaving today, but we are leaving tomorrow”.  I told him that yes we were leaving tomorrow and asked how that made him feel.  He reflected, “I think it makes me feel sad.”  It was just about the cutest, most heartbreaking thing ever.

I’m going to have to come up with some great activities over the coming weeks, to get him through.  Apparently RI got added to the do not travel list in MA, after we’d already been there for a while, so now we have to quarantine for 14 days.  And to think that I was just starting to get over my covid induced anxiety…

One of the better activities I came up with for Julius recently was a color your own face mask.  I had all these fabric markers left over from Erin’s baby shower, and I just quickly made Julius a plain white mask.  Julius colored on it, and I think it looks pretty great.  It did take some encouragement to get him to use anything but a brown marker though.

Kid’s Color-Your-Own Mask

What You’ll Need

  • Plain White Mask – pattern here
  • Scrap paper
  • Fabric markers

Insert scrap paper into your plain white mask (if your mask has a removable layer like the pattern above).

Let child color on front of mask as desired.  Launder as recommended before wearing.

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My mom retired this year!  She’s been working as a nurse for 41 years at Women and Infants Hospital (where Julius was born, not a coincidence).  She didn’t want a big send off because of all the hardships nurses and hospital employees have been putting up with for the last several months.  Since we were all in separate states, we decided to throw her a virtual retirement party!  Below is all the silly stuff we did for her retirement “party”.

Here are the boxes I sent out!

Here were the contents for each guest!


really wanted to mail everyone cake in a jar, but I could not figure out how to get it there fresh!  Instead Will and I tried many iterations of microwave mug cake – we decided on a very slightly modified version of this cake.  I mailed the dry mix packets out, and warned everyone they needed eggs, milk and butter.  Everyone liked the cake – even my nephew who had a version made with applesauce instead of eggs!

Celebration Cake Dry Mix Packets

Ingredients (for each cake)

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon decorator sprinkles

Mix ingredients together, place in individual candy bags, tied with a ribbon and the instructions below.

Cake Mix in progress

Cake Mix with Instructions!


Use the instruction labels here, with the text below:

Celebration Mug Cake!


  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 large Egg Yolk
  • 1 Tbsp Milk
  • Dry ingredient packet

Place butter into 12-ounce coffee mug; microwave 30-45 seconds or until melted. Add all remaining cake ingredients; mix well with fork.

Microwave 45-60 seconds or until cake pulls away from sides and top is dry. (Do not overcook.) Cool 1 minute. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, as desired. Serve warm.


For decor – we gave party guests silly nurse caps, and little toothpick inserts for their mug cakes to make them more festive!  For my mom we also added in a “Happy Retirement” banner!

Silly Nurse Cap Party Hats

I used this tutorial to fold the hats, and it went very quickly!

Retirement Toothpicks

  • Cardstock (I used black)
  • Colored paper (I used purple)
  • Toothpicks
  • Glue Stick
  • Hot glue
  • Cricut Pattern
  1. Use cricut to cut out this pattern on cardstock.  
  2. Use cricut to cut out this pattern on paper.
  3. Remove paper and cardstock from excess paper then use glue stick to attach paper to cardstock. 
  4. Hot glue the toothpick onto the back of the “Happy Retirement” paper and while the glue is still hot, cover with a scrap piece of cardstock.  

Happy Retirement Banner

Cut letters out of colored paper using cricut.  Thread ribbon through holes in letters. 



A party isn’t complete without games!  We did a silly “Who Knows the Retiree” game (see here if you’re interested) as well as a version of Bingo we got at a thrift store (it was actually called Bardo – and had Shakespeare trivia built in).

Retirement party in action! Note the great games (Bingo and Who knows the Retiree Best?)


We decided to give my mom a subscription to Masterclass, so she could investigate some new fun hobbies that she might want to try.  In addition we also compiled a list of ideas for what to do during her retirement.  We did this by entering items in a google spreadsheet and I then printed them all and put them into a bag.  She could then read them all at once or take them out anytime she needed a “retirement idea”.

Retirement Ideas Bag

Masterclass Card

The retiree!


Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 2 Comments

Reveal Time

Julius has this cute habit lately of finding things around the house and giving them big hugs and telling them he loves them.  It is really adorable and makes me so happy.  Some recent examples;  “I love you snake [maternity] pillow”, “I love you bee [humidifier]”, “I love you bug [bathtub toy]”.   The snake pillow was especially helpful because now I know what to do with that giant pillow after I have the baby!  Throw a slipcover on that thing with eyes and a tongue and -bam- it’s a snake.

I hope Julius likes his new sibling as much as he likes all these inanimate objects!  He’s been really silly – whenever I tickle his belly he shouts “stop! Be careful of the baby.”  I guess I have said that a lot.  That’s pretty much the only time he mentions any sort of baby though, unless I have to leave in the car without him.  Then he asks if I’m getting pictures taken of the baby.  Before the anatomy ultrasound I gave Julius a hug and told him I had to leave to get pictures taken of the baby in my belly.  He cried and said “don’t leave me, I need you”.  I had to explain to him that because of the virus no one could come with me, and that I definitely would have him come with me if it was allowed.  I wonder what he would have thought of the ultrasound.  I think it would have been cool for him to see it; maybe it would have made it more real for him.  Who knows though, he’s a toddler.

Speaking of the baby in my belly, after the ultrasound we sent out gender reveals for our family members.  I don’t know how, but the first time we did this for Julius it worked great and no one spoiled anything for anyone, but this last time was a near disaster.  I won’t go into details, but let me suggest that you mail any gender reveals to people staggered at the times you want them to be opened.  We did scratch off tickets last time, which some people in the older generation were a little confused about – so we decided to go with something more obvious that clearly stated the baby’s sex.  I made 10 party crackers this time around – which I thought everyone has seen in one form or another.  This didn’t go quite as flawlessly as I would have anticipated.  I think only a couple people in the group opened them like actual party crackers – and I think I know why (see below).    Either way I guess it’s good I didn’t waste a whole bunch of money on adding tiny explosive devices so they’d really crack.  Instead the entire project was made from recycled materials and things I had on hand.  I’d like to note that these are not for the feint of heart.  Unlike the scratch offs – which were quick to make, these took me many hours to complete.  This is why I was so heartbroken that the whole secret had nearly been ruined!  Also in our letters to the family we called these Sex Reveal Crackers which is the technically correct terminology, but for the sake of anyone actually finding them on my blog I call them Gender Reveal Crackers below.

Julius helped me put up our banner.

This boy is going to be a big brother!

Gender Reveal Crackers

What you’ll need (for each cracker):

  • fabric and fabric paint in gender stereotypical colors for the sex of your baby (pink for girl, blue for boy)
  • Cereal box thickness cardboard to make a stencil
  • My cricut patterns here and here
  • spouncer
  • pink and blue ribbon
  • 3 cardboard tubes (toilet paper tubes)
  • recycled paper for outside the tube
  • pink and blue paint
  • sponge
  • tissue paper – not pink or blue (again ours was recycled)
  • tape
  • hot glue

Make the banners

  1. With pinking sheers cut out 7 flags for “boy” or 8 flags for “girl”.   I made a ton of flags in equal sizes in a short amount of time by drawing lines spaced 5 inches apart, then marking 4 inch segments along the line.  On the line above I marked the direct center of the 4″ segment from below.  Then I drew a line connecting the two points, forming multiple triangle segments at once.

    form triangles of height 5, base 4.

    It is fastest to draw these all out with a yard stick, and cut them out along the lines.

    Pendants cut using pinking shears

  2. Next I created a stencil by using my Cricut to cut out the letters for “baby girl” on recycled cardboard.

    Using the cricut to make sencils

  3. I used yellow paint and a spouncer to stencil a letter from “baby girl” on each of the 8 triangles for my banner.

    Stenciling a “b” onto the pendant

    Finished stenciling for one banner.

  4. Next you’ll want to feed ribbon through your pendants to form a banner.  In my prototype I did this by using a tapestry needle, but decided this was way too time consuming.  For the other banners I simply cut two 1/2″ vertical slits into the top of each pendant at either end and fed the ribbon through there.

    This is an example of the banner threaded using a tapestry needle

  5. Continue threading until you have all the letters on the banner equally spaced.  I also had some cute little plastic pacifiers left over from favors from the shower my family threw for me pre-Julius – so I put these in the middle of the words “baby” and “girl” until they ran out.

    Finished banner

  6. Leave at least 6″ of ribbon on each side of the banner for the recipient to hang it up.

Make the wrapping paper

  1. Flatten your recycled white paper out onto a surface (it is way easier to do this in bulk).  You will need an 11″x9″ piece of paper for each tube.
  2. Take the sponge and randomly sponge a pattern of light pink paint onto the paper.  Let dry.

    Sponge paint pink in random patterns

  3. Take the sponge and randomly sponge a pattern of light blue paint onto the paper interspersed and overlapping the pink paint.  Let dry.

    Sponge paint blue over the pink in random patterns.

Assemble the reveal cracker

  1. Cut a 6″ piece of pink ribbon and a 6″ piece of blue ribbon for each cracker.  Tie one to either end of the banner.  This step is only necessary if you used an obvious gender color like pink or blue for the ribbon on the banner.  The ends of the banner from the ribbon are going to poke out of the cracker, so we don’t want to ruin the surprise before anyone opens it…

    Tie decoy ribbon to the ends of the banner.

  2. Fold banner up like an accordion and roll slightly so it will fit inside the cardboard tube.  Then wrap this gently in a single layer of tissue paper. Be sure to tuck the ends of the banner’s ribbon in a bit so only the pink and blue ribbon ends from step 1 poke out.  (This is to prevent anyone peeking in the end of the tube and seeing pink or blue pendants and ruining the surprise.)

    wrap banner gently in a single layer of tissue.

  3. Place tissue paper wrapped banner inside a tube, with pink and blue ribbon ends poking out either end.

    Make sure only blue and pink ribbon ends stick out from the tube.

  4. Center the tube on top of the wrapping paper, so tube is parallel to the 11″ long side. Glue gun the edge of wrapping paper to the tube at one end.

    Glue on the edge of the paper, next to the white tube.

  5. Place two dummy tubes on either end of the cracker tube, then roll the tubes to envelop everything in wrapping paper, then secure with another line of hot glue along the length of the paper.

    Glue the length of the paper.

  6. Pull one of the end tubes out slightly so the edge of the paper overlaps the tube about 1.75″.
  7. Holding the middle cracker tube, and the 1.75″ paper on top of the guide tube, twist in opposite directions.  This should form a nice crisp fold.

    Properly folded ends.

  8. Make sure everything is hidden inside the cracker, and tie a length of blue ribbon around the fold you just created to secure the cracker.  Remove the cardboard tube.
  9. Repeat for the other side of the cracker with pink ribbon.

    Tie folded ends with ribbon

  10. Hot glue the pink and blue ribbons sticking out of the tubes to the inside ends of the cracker, so when they pull the cracker, those come out with it.  **I think this is what confused everyone – a lot of people didn’t open these like normal crackers and instead pulled the ribbons only instead of the entire ends of the crackers.  I would recommend gluing the ribbon down flat to the cracker, not just at the ends of the ribbon so you cannot possibly lift the ribbon up to pull it out!  This would solve that problem – that’s usually how the snaps inside are glued on and no one tries to just pull those…

    Glue the ribbon to the ends of the cracker.

Finally we shipped them all off with these instructions:

If you want to find out baby #2’s sex… make a guess… then grab the ends of the cracker and pull!

Finished crackers.

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Random Recycling

We just got out of a Southwick’s Zoofari.  Julius had a lot of fun, though he told us he wanted to go back and get a closer look at the hyenas… about 45 minutes after we’d passed the hyenas.  We promised him we would go back someday and see everything up close.  For all the baby animals he said “I bet they love their mommy”.  Which was pretty adorable.  Also speaking of mommies, we were showing Julius some of the equipment for the new baby and we asked him if he remembered drinking mama’s milk,  He said “yeah”.  Then we asked if he remembered drinking milk from mama’s boobies, and he said outraged, “no, not from boobies!”  He might be a little surprised when the new baby comes.

So for a while I’ve wanted to make wrapping paper from the recycled paper I save from packaging.  I usually use the paper to make patterns, because it’s really heavyweight paper that works well for drafting.  Unfortunately, we just get too darn much of the packaging to use for just that.  We’ve also been using it for projects for Julius, but we still have too much.  I finally found another use for Will’s birthday, by making  wrapping paper using a meeple stamp from a piece of packaging foam (it was a two in one recycling project).  It worked really well.  I am definitely going to do this again with other designs and patterns.  And just maybe I’ll make some red and green meeple paper for Christmas.

Finished meeple wrapping paper on Will’s gifts! Plus bonus – reused ribbon.

DIY Recycled Stenciled Wrapping Paper

What you’ll need:

  • squishy foam or sponge (mine was from a computer we purchased)
  • chalk
  • scissors
  • tempera paint
  • recycled paper (mine was from some container store orders)
  1. Draw stamp template on foam in chalk.
  2. Cut around template using scissors. This was actually a bit tricky because my foam was so thick.  I had to take it a layer at a time and taper it down to the silhouette I wanted.
  3. Dip stamp in tempera paint, press firmly onto paper.
  4. Repeat until desired effect is reached.

    You’d never know this was recycled paper!

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Red, White & Blueberries

Well I was going to post about this last week, but I couldn’t decide between the timeliness of our birthdays and the timeliness of the fourth of July.  In lieu of fireworks (which we don’t really like anyway because they scare the dog) Will and I watched Hamilton on the fourth of July.  It was incredible and I loved seeing the original cast perform, but it wasn’t at all the same as a normal theater experience.  I like being able to choose who I’m watching on stage.  I feel like that’s part of the fun of the theater experience, that everyone has a slightly different view.

We watched the Hamilton teaser trailer and Julius really liked it and asked to watch it about 15 times until I told him that was enough.  He doesn’t know it but he loves Lin Manuel Miranda.  Julius asks to listen to the Moana soundtrack every single day from the day he first watched it months ago.  Sorry I digress.  After listening to the Hamilton trailer I tried to explain to Julius who Hamilton was, but that was too deep and convoluted.  Instead I taught him the colors of the American flag.  I am not positive he retained that information but we did lots of crafts to ingrain it in his memory.

First Julius made a “flag”.  I know you might think that this is a picture of fireworks (which would have been a good idea) but this is actually the American flag as interpreted by a toddler who really just wanted to put the entire container of glitter on the flag. Ingredients were red construction paper, white puffy paint and blue glitter.  I put a limited amount of blue glitter into a tiny plastic container with holes poked in the top so he couldn’t just pour the entire thing out in 5 seconds.  Instead it took him about 10.

Diligently sprinkling glitter on

Standing by his work of art

Next we pick some of our white hydrangeas and did a science experiment.  We used blue and red food coloring mixed with water in the first two jars.  After only a couple hours the hydrangeas started becoming tinted blue and red.  We also noticed the red food coloring appeared to be killing the first hydrangea.  Overall though the experiment worked pretty well!

Finished experiment. Red blooms are definitely drooping.

Finally I decided to make a flag dessert for Julius as a surprise.  I used whipped cream left over from my cake frosting, a piping bag and star tip and blueberries and strawberries.  Ours were a bit fancier because I decorated the plates first, but of course I didn’t take a picture of that.  Julius loved the dessert and now asks for all his fruit “with cream”.  (We don’t always indulge him of course.)

My patriotic dessert


The blueberries were not from blueberry picking – which we did the next day!  Yes you read that right, we finally left our house as a family for a short period of time…  Julius was a champion and kept his mask on the entire time with no complaints.  What a good little man.  I’m so proud of my little guy.

Hope you all had a happy fourth of July weekend!

He carried his own basket and everything!

Eating the fruits of his labor


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