New Halloween Traditions

Well we had a lovely Halloween, if not completely traditional.  We carved pumpkins Friday night – one for our house and one for the town pumpkin contest.  Julius first wanted to make “a happy pumpkin” and we together carved a very cute jack o’lantern.  After that Julius told me he wanted to carve “a sad pumpkin” and described how it should look, including making me add tears in some key places.  All his own design…should I be worried?  Next we dropped sad pumpkin off on the town green with his pumpkin friends but Julius thought he was too sad to leave him there by himself in the dark.  After much discussion we convinced him that sad pumpkin was going to have a sleep over party with his pumpkin friends, and that the Halloween decorations across the street were a good night light.  We also agreed to visit him on Halloween night for the contest.

Carving pumpkins

Happy pumpkin and sad pumpkin

On Halloween night itself we had pumpkin fondue for dinner, set up our socially distanced trick or treat table, and lit up the happy jack o’lantern.  Then Julius and I donned our costumes, and Julius got loaded up in the “hay ride” that we made for him from our wagon and a mini bale of straw I bought from Home Depot a month ago.  He was very excited.  We rode up and down the driveway in the hay ride in between our visits to the socially distanced trick or treat table at the bottom of the driveway, our front door, our back door, our porch door and the shed door.  Meanwhile Will changed into different costumes between each door to give out candy to Julius.  I’m pretty sure Julius didn’t know they were all Will, because at one point (after getting some candy from the porch where Will was disguised as a wizard with a big beard) he said “that witch was kind of like Santa”.  And later, before we went into the house, he asked “is there still a witch in our house?”  So overall the door to door trick or treating was a success I think.

Our trick or treating set up

Julius’ hay ride

Getting ready for trick or treating

“Witch” that looked like “Santa”

Terrible picture and probably the worst costume Will wore, but here is Julius collecting candy from the shed.

Do you know what else was a success??  The Colton Costume Contest!  I LOVE costumes (as you probably know) and I wanted an excuse to dress up in ours and see other people’s costumes.  Even on busy years we don’t get more than 8 or 9 trick or treaters, so usually my work Halloween party is where I get to see everyone dressed up in costume.  Of course our office is closed, so no Halloween party this year (and I wouldn’t have gone even if there was one).  That’s when it hit me!  What about a virtual costume contest?  I sent out an email to lots of our friends and family asking them to submit photos of themselves in costume by October 24th.  After the submissions were entered we sent out a link to all the costume pictures (in the order in which they were received) and a Survey Monkey poll to vote for a favorite individual costume, group costume and pet costume.  On Halloween we virtually announced the winners and gave out Amazon gift cards to the victors.  We got lots of notes from people saying that they loved seeing the costumes or loved the excuse to dress up – so I will rate the event a total success!  I think we probably will do it in future years because it allowed us to see photos of friends and family from far and wide!

What traditions did you start this year?


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Rumbly in my Tumbly

Well I can finally tell you all about our costume this year!  When we asked Julius what we should be for Halloween he decided mama could go as Winnie the Pooh.  I asked if he wanted to be Piglet and he said, “no dada will be Piglet”.  To which I asked, then what will you be?  And he responded “Christopher Robin” matter of factly.  Which honestly made a lot of sense.  Much like last year, when I thought I’d be Princess Peach, Julius would be Mario and Will would be Bowser,  I had a different picture of what we would each masquerade as for Halloween.  I thought I’d be Pooh, Julius would be Piglet and Will would be Tigger.  The 6 foot tall Piglet though kind of made the costume.

So as you know, Julius’ drum was for his Christopher Robin costume – which honestly was just a pair of clothes he already had.  I felt better that he asked me to make him an accessory, because really, I didn’t think Christopher Robin had any accessories.  These were some of the easiest costumes I’ve ever put together.  They were almost entirely purchased clothes.  I did buy clothes that we could re-wear again at least.  Next week we’ll cover Piglet, but today I’ll cover Winnie the Pooh.

There are so many pregnant Winnie the Pooh costumes on Pinterest, and they all look so darn adorable.  This is my version.  I bought a mustard colored maternity dress on Amazon that I also wore to the sprinkle my sister in law and sister threw for me (which was bee themed).  I considered wearing it for the photo shoot we did a couple weeks ago, but at the last minute picked a different dress.  For Pooh’s red top I picked a super cheap top that was non-maternity and I could certain wear again.  The only thing I made for my costume were the ears and I included the instructions below.  The finishing touch was a dab of black face paint on my nose.

Definitely rumbly in my tumbly

Winnie the Pooh Ears

What you’ll need:

  • black headband
  • 1 sheet mustard yellow felt
  • a small amount of stuffing
  • hot glue
  • pattern here
  1. Cut out 4 ears from felt.
  2. Place 2 pieces of felt together and stitch, between two markings, leaving the bottom opened.  Trim. Turn right side out.
  3. Repeat for second ear.
  4. Stuff ears with a small amount of stuffing until they are pleasantly plump.
  5. Place one ear slightly off center from the top of the headband.
  6. Put glue on the headband, fold one flap over, add glue to the top of flap and fold over top second flap on top, so ear encircles the headband.
  7. Place other ear equidistant from the center of the headband on the other side and repeat step 6.


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Little Drummer Boy

This weekend was definitely peak foliage in Lancaster.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  We did another bike ride to George Hill Orchards again to get some lunch, cider, cider donuts and sugar pumpkins.  The views from their hilly farm were spectacular.  I don’t know what we’re going to do when the picking season ends.  It’s one of the few places that we feel fairly comfortable “in public”.

At this point in time we have acquired a large quantity of squash, gourds, pumpkins and apples between our CSA and our weekly farm trips.  It’s like fall has exploded inside the house.  I can’t show you a picture or you’d be embarrassed for me.  For perspective I’m sitting at the kitchen island and there are 14 pumpkins/squash sitting next to me.  And trust me that is just the tip of the iceberg, there are more on the other counters and in the other rooms and outside as decorations.  It makes me so happy.  (I might be a pumpkin hoarder?  Is that a thing?)

Well speaking of pumpkins and fall… I don’t think I need to remind you that my favorite holiday is coming up!!  I don’t want to ruin any surprises about our family costume this year… but let’s just say it involves a drum.  I had actually completely forgotten it involved a drum until Julius asked me “but where is my drum” when trying on his costume.  All will be revealed next week, but now I’m going to show you how to make a drum for a toddler.  This was completely free for me to make as I had everything on hand, but it was actually a bit time consuming.  If you can guess who’s drum it is (and I haven’t already told you) I’ll send you a prize.

Also I have to tell you one more cute thing.  Upon presenting Julius the drum after his naptime with the words “I made you this” (and probably by making him lots of other things) I may have accidentally convinced him that I am capable of making all his toys.  He started looking at the Amazon wish catalog the other day and pointing to things saying “I want you to make this for me”.  One of the things was a robotic hand, and he asked me “could you make this one?”  I skirted the question by telling him that I went to school for robotics and sometimes worked on things like the robot hand.  He surely knows I didn’t make all his toys, right?  I’m not sure I did a good job convincing him, but do I really want to destroy the image that mama can make anything…?

Toddler Drum

What you’ll need:

  • 2 sheets of red paper
  • 1 26 oz coffee can (my mom always has the chock full o’ nuts cans)
  • 3/8″ yellow ribbon
  • brown cord or yarn
  • yarn needle or very large embroidery needle
  • 2 small clasps (I used these swivel clasps that I had leftover from past projects)
  • 2 small eye hooks and 2 small cubes of wood
  • 1-1.5 yards of tan ribbon 1″ wide (mine was saved from old Williams-Sonoma gift packaging)
  • chop sticks
  • hot glue gun
  1. Holding the paper horizontally, mark the height of your coffee can on the paper, so the paper will be between the top and bottom metal lips of the can.

    Mark the height of the coffee can

  2. Cut both pieces of paper to this height.

    Cut paper to marked height.

  3. With a drill bit slightly smaller than your eye hook screw, drill 2 holes in the can, about .5″ below the top of the can, 5″ apart.

    Drill holes in can for eye hooks.

  4. Hot glue paper to the can.

    Hot glue paper to can.

  5. Poke screw eyes through paper and screw through the holes you just made in the can.  Screw into tiny bits of wood on the inside of the can to secure.

    Screw through paper and holes you drilled into bits of wood on the inside of the can.

  6. Measure the circumference of your coffee cylinder.  Mine was 19″, so to make it easy I chose to divide this into 6ths for the drum threading, leaving a slight gap at the back of the drum where no one would see it.
  7. Cut one strip of ribbon 1″ longer than the circumference of your cylinder.
  8. For the bottom of the drum you want to create small triangles, so I marked out dots along my strip of ribbon in the following pattern:  1″, 2″, 1″, 2″ until I had 6 2″ long markings

    Mark pattern for drum cording.

  9. Using the yarn needle, poke through the holes, going out at the 1″ markings, and back in at the 2″ markings.  Adjust the yarn or cord so it is about 3″ long at the 2″ markings.

    Leave 3″ loops on ribbon over the 2″ markings, and pull 1″ segments taunt on the backside.

  10. Hot glue the ribbon along the bottom perimeter of the can, covering the bottom metal rim. The brown yard/cord along the 1″ segments should be hidden, and the 3″ segments should be loose towards the top of the can.

    Hot glue ribbon to the bottom of the can.

  11. For the top of the drum, if your top is already yellow (like the choc full of nuts cans) you do not need to use another piece of ribbon, otherwise mark along the ribbon as in step 8.  Mark 6 points,  3″ apart from each other.
  12. Using the yarn needle, poke through the holes, going out at a mark, down to the 3″ yarn/cord segments from the bottom of the can, then back through the same marking.  Repeat for other 5 markings, and other 5 3″ segments.

    Poke through the lib, loop down to catch the bottom triangle, and back up through the hole you exited from.

  13. When you are finished, put the top on the can, making sure to center your top lines in between the bottom 3″ segments.  Pull up the slack so everything is taunt and the top yarn/cord pulls the bottom segments into triangles.
  14. Push one end of your ribbon strap through the loop on one clasp.  Fold 1.5″ up, and then 1/2″ under and stitch down to hold clasp on.  Repeat for second clasp and other end of ribbon.  (You’ll want to see how far down this should come on your child.)

    Fold under ribbon 1/2 and stitch just below fold.

  15. Attach claps to eye hooks.
  16. Present drum and chopsticks (drum sticks) to child and let them parade around the house. 

Ignore the kitchen chaos and just focus on the happy toddler with the drum.

The empty coffee can actually makes a pretty good sound.

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Quite Batty

Well this is going to be a quick one because I’ve been sick the last two days.  In brighter news my sister in law, Erin and my sister, Mandy threw me a virtual “sprinkle” for baby #2 this weekend!  It was a bee-themed family tea party and so very fun and cute.  And despite not having a registry everyone gave the baby girl such sweet and thoughtful things.  On top of all that brightness my co-workers (I shall remind you my co-workers are 70% male) threw me a surprise shower last week complete with silly games.  I had no idea it was coming, and actually had prepared to give a presentation in the meeting (though my manager had urged me to not work too hard on it, suspicious now that I think about it).  They really had me surprised!  I’m so lucky to have such great family, friends and co-workers.

Me and my little bee

Julius and I have been preparing for Halloween.  We decorated the house, and have been acquiring pumpkins, gourds and mums on our bike rides to local farms.  The other day Will, Julius and I were at George Hill Orchards and decided to check out the gourd and ornamental pumpkin patch.  (They have 3 pumpkin patches!)  I picked out a huge swan neck gourd and Will picked it up so I wouldn’t have to carry it.  Then I found this adorable little green warty pumpkin and decided I wanted that one too.  Julius, apparently disappointed he wasn’t carrying anything, grabbed the next little pumpkin he saw (a little sugar pumpkin) and said “and this one is mine”.  Will and I both looked at each other and chuckled and Will said “well if you can carry it, you can take it home”.  And the little guy carried it all the way to the farm store, not a short walk.

For Halloween night I ordered a bunch of things from Oriental Trading, and will probably set up a table at the end of the driveway.  You may recall that we get a total of 8 trick-or-treaters every year (and in previous years it was even less) so buying gift bags from Oriental Trading did not break the bank at all.  Plus I can use them for my trick-or-treating idea for Julius!  Since the CDC thinks trick-or-treating is a high risk activity (I’m not 100% sure I agree) and we are avoiding anything above low risk, we are not going to go out.  Instead – we are going to have Julius trick-or-treat from door to door around our house!  We have a front door, side door and porch door as well as a door on our shed.  All total that’s more houses than we hit up last year.  If we’re feeling really up to it I’ll have whoever answers the doors put on a silly disguise at each door.  We may also pop down to meemah and meepah’s house for some treats.

The other day I was staring at the adorable coffee filter butterflies that have been on our sliding glass door, and decided they clashed with the Halloween decor.  Then I had a stroke of genius!  Why not make coffee filter bats?!  We could use the same technique with bat-colored markers.  I put them all up on the window and reused Julius’ moon artwork from earlier this year at daycare!  They look a bit like devils, but I suppose that works for Halloween too.

Bats on a dark night.

Coffee Filter Bats (or Devils)

What you’ll need:

  • coffee filters
  • washable markers in browns, blacks, greys and purples
  • medicine dropper
  • pipe cleaners in corresponding colors
  1. Take coffee filters and cut them in half down the middle in a jagged line.
  2. Have child color on the coffee filters with washable markers.  (The more marker the better – Julius went a bit light on his)

    I love his concentration when coloring.

  3. When they are finished, provide them with a medicine dropper and a cup of water to wet the coffee filter and make the markers bleed.

    Dropping water on his bat wings.

  4. Place coffee filters on towels to dry.

    Letting the wings dry.

  5. When coffee filters are dry, form your bat’s head with pipe cleaner.  Fold pipe cleaner in half and then twist to form a quarter-sized loop.

    Testing wings for dryness.

  6. Form ears onto the loop.

    Form bat head.

  7. Insert coffee filter wings underneath the head in between two tails of pipe cleaner, scrunch slightly.

    Secure wings under bat head.

  8. Twist pipe cleaners together below wings and form legs.

    Form legs.

    Finished bats

    Bats in daylight?! Watch out…

    Julius with our Halloween setup.



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This Pasta is a Disastah! (Not actually unless you eat it.)

We had a great fall weekend again – the weather was so beautiful we were able to do a bike ride to our favorite orchard, George Hill Orchards.  The nice part is it is so huge that even on the weekends I don’t feel unsafe there, and if I ever do, it is very easy to just move away from people somewhere else.  Julius totally understands.  This year we’ve picked blueberries, peaches, apples, pumpkins and gourds there!  I fully intend to go back weekly until they close (or I have this baby).

This week I had a lot of good ideas for a socially distanced Halloween.  I LOVE Halloween.  Have I ever mentioned that?  (Probably.)  It is hands down my favorite holiday – fall, gallivanting outside at night, spooky full moons and black cats, costumes, candy, what isn’t to love?  As you know I love to make costumes, so we of course have been planning ours for months.  They are pretty low key compared to last year, but I’m still excited about them.  Julius’ birthday being only a week away from Halloween makes planning everything a bit challenging… and did I mention my due date is the day before Julius’ birthday?  Because of that I’ve been trying to put together the baby’s room, Julius’ party, a homemade present for Julius, and Halloween costumes all at once.

Last year I started a bunch of projects for Julius’ play kitchen to give him for Christmas or later.  I tucked some of them away for a rainy day, and I was thinking I could give them to him for his birthday this year since he still loves his kitchen.  Well he ended up finding my stash the other day, and he was so excited, that I just let him have a couple things early.  The one I’ll share with you today I made on a plane ride (remember those?)

Felt Farfalle

What you’ll need:

  • off-white felt
  • pinking shears
  • off white thread
  • An empty box of farfalle
  1. Cut 1.75″ wide strips from felt with normal straight edge scissors.
  2. Using the pinking sheers cut strips into 2″ long segments to form 2″x1.75″ rectangles. 
  3. Pinch a rectangle in the center so the pinch forms a “w” shape (or “m” shape depending which way you’re looking at it).
  4. Use off white thread to put a couple quick stitches through the pinch to fit it in place.  I found it nice to hide the tail of the threads inside one of the peaks of the “w”.  
  5. Repeat until you get sick of making pasta.
  6. Place pasta in box. 
  7. Let child’s imagination go wild.

Making us lunch




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Wishing Star

We are not sure what Julius thinks of the fact that he will have a baby sister in a month.  He has wanted to feel the baby kick exactly one time, and is a bit mischievous around my belly.  (Though only upon occasion.)  We decided to buy Julius all these books about being a big sibling, to see what he thought.  Before the book order came in, Julius was looking through the ultrasound photos I keep on my desk (dining room table).  His hands were covered in something, so I told him he could only have one of the photos.  I gave him the one that looked like the baby had her mouth opened, upon which the ultrasound technician had written “hello my brother Julius”.

Well, he was very excited about this photo (even though he cared very little about it months ago when it was taken).  He kept hugging with it and snuggling with it, and when we went up to take a bath he asked to bring it with him in the bathtub.  I told him he could snuggle with it when he was out of the tub and dry.  Then when he went to bed, he asked if he could bring it in the bed with him, like he does with all his favorite toys.  It was adorable!  The books may help too.  His favorite is this adorable book called Poor Louie about a dog becoming a big brother.  Yesterday we read the book three times.  Once when he woke up, once before his nap, and once before bed.  Somehow I still think it’s adorable and haven’t tired of it even after 20,000 readings in 5 days.

I’m finding it harder to capture my little man’s attention as of late.  I have so many ideas for activities to try with him, but frequently he doesn’t want to do anything but play.  He is great at imaginative play, and can entertain himself for hours, so I am really not complaining.  I just want to make sure he gets some additional stimulus and education.  The other day though I did manage to capture his attention with a bubble wand I made, which he dubbed “the wishing star” from Winnie the Pooh.  After I got fancy hangers for my closet I wasn’t sure what to do with all the old wire ones.  I got the idea from this fancy copper wand my mom gave me from my absolute favorite store in the whole wide world that hasn’t existed in a decade “The Silver Dragon”.  This was a good way to use the hangers.  If Julius was having an actual birthday party this year, you bet everyone would be getting a wishing star bubble wand in their favor bags.

Wishing Star Bubble Wand

What You’ll Need:

  • Wire coat hanger
  • 2 pairs of Needle nose/regular pliers
  • a fancy bead (optional – mine was not fancy)
  • hot glue
  1. Unbend coat hanger into a relatively straight shape.  
  2. Starting at one of the bends for the shoulder, form a star shape using the pliers.
  3. When the star is complete, wrap the wire around the opposite end of the star from where you ended, to hold it in place.
  4. Wrap down again around adjacent indent and back to the center.
  5. Form a flourish, and return down the other side to where you started the looping.
  6. Wrap the leftover lengths of coat hanger around each other.  
  7. When you get to the bottom, curl into another loop and add bead to the end as desired.  
  8. Put hot glue onto the tips of the coat hanger if they are in any way sharp (mine were actually coated and not sharp).
  9. If those instructions made no sense, follow the diagram below. 


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Alternative Transport

You know what is really heartwarming?  Julius’ positivity.  When he’s in a good mood it’s like I’ve got my own little cheerleader.  “Oh that is a good idea mama!”  “That looks delicious mama!”  When he’s in a grumpy mood it’s a different story but usually his good moods outweigh the grumpy moods.

Our elliptical broke a month back, which was pretty much my only source of low impact exercise other than yoga.  I’d been doing 30 minutes of elliptical after Julius went to bed, when it was too dark to do anything else.  I’m really desperate not to end up with the crazy amount of swelling I had last pregnancy and I’m hoping exercise will help.  (I’m not sure it is though because I’m already getting carpal tunnel again…but I’m trying to remain positive.)  Either way, I also don’t want to gain 50 pounds again (even if 1/4 of it was water).  I started looking for other ways to exercise while we waited a couple weeks to get a new one.  First I tried power walking with a headlamp, but we don’t actually have any sidewalks around us which made me nervous (well that and paranoid thoughts about insane pregnancy fetishists).  Next I started doing stair walking – I found I can walk up and down the stairs about 75 times in 25 minutes.  (As boring as it sounds I actually didn’t mind that one.)  I also dug out my bike and the ancient Kiddie Kart bike trailer my parents gave to us.  Julius loved it!

We only used the trailer for one weekend when Julius was a little guy and we went to Block Island.  (Sidebar – when this pandemic is over, I am going to Block Island no matter the time of year.  Have I mentioned how it is my favorite place on Earth?)  While trying to find alternate forms of exercise I took him (and sometimes Dany) in it on rides around the neighborhood, to nearby hikes, on picnics, to the ice cream shop and even to our favorite local fruit farm – George Hill Orchards!  The trailer is one that my parents pulled me and my siblings around in when we were little.  It used to have a canopy on it, but that was long lost or torn to shreds.  Before our trip to Block Island I made a new shade canopy out of some waterproof material from an old EZ-up tent whose frame broke.  The material inside the trailer was also torn to shreds, being 3 decades old, so after Julius asked me to fix it, I also replaced that.  A little bit more elbow grease and I don’t think the thing looks half bad!

Getting ready for the maiden voyage. He’s such a little guy. (Before – except with a canopy)

Bike Trailer Remodel

Canopy revamp

For this portion I took the old waterproof material I had from an EZ-up tent canopy and quickly made a pattern by measuring out the back of the trailer, how far I wanted the canopy to cover and calculating a half circle size to make up the canopy.  It looked like the diagram below.  I added ties at the red x’s to attach it to the bike frame, and folded and stitched the long edge under 1.5″ so I could slide a piece of 1/2″ PVC inside to form the hoop structure.  I stitched each end of the hoop enclosure closed, and attached a small length of clothesline rope.  To attach the canopy to the bike I tied the back ties onto the bike trailer poles, and drilled holes to thread the clothesline rope through on either end of the trailer, knotting each side to keep it in place.

Piecing together canopy

Trailer with new canopy

Seat Revamp

The seat was composed of a squishy mousepad-like material covered in a thin fabric layer.  The fabric layer was peeling, so I simply unscrewed the seat from the trailer and peeled the rest of the fabric layer off.  I used the rubber layer to draw a template on some grey upholstery material I had left over from my hatmaking days.  The material was perfect in that it would not fray after being cut.  I cut it out, clipped it to the rubber layer, and stitched around the perimeter of the two pieces.  To attach it to the bike trailer, I used a seam ripper to cut holes for the screws, and lines for the straps.  Then I reattached it using the original screws.

Pinning the rubber/foam backing to the new upholstery.

Stitching around the perimeter of the new upholstery

New upholstery! Ready to be stitch-ripped and attached.

Check out that sweet new interior


Lastly I thought about painting the bike trailer but I’m trying to limit my exposure to paint right now, and I’m lazy.  Instead I decided to remove the ugly stickers on the side that were wearing off.  I just had to use a putty knife and some elbow grease.  Afterwards I slapped on some new bumper stickers that I would put on my car if I were a bumper sticker kind of person and called it good!  I’m pretty proud of how the whole thing came out!

Scraping off the last remnants of the scratched up “Kiddie Kart” lettering.

These stickers pretty much sum up my life views.  Will wanted to get one that said “my other car can do the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs”.  Maybe I’ll find a spot.

Julius in the new spruced up bike trailer!


Posted in Crafts & Sewing, Thrift Finds | 2 Comments

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  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.)
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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!


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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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