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Photos of 2016

Posted by on Jan 16, 2017 in Life, Travel | 5 comments

Best nine 2016

Near the end of 2015, I posted the collage of Instagram photos the Best Nine app considered my best nine. (I think they’re just the most liked.)

Looking at the collage, it didn’t feel very representative of my year, though.

So, with encouragement from Traci and others, I decided to choose one of my Instagram photos every month that felt significant or like it just fit, and then compare it to my Best Nine at the end of the year.

The photos at the top are my “best nine”, and here are the ones I chose for each month…

2016 photo collage

They don’t really overlap, except for that weather-beaten tree. I remember almost choosing some of the same ones the app did – some months had a couple photos that seemed like a good fit for that month.

I’m still on the fence about whether I want to do this again, but it is really cool to look back and see snapshots of the past year this way.

Locations of Best Nine photos (l-r, from top):

  1. Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, AZ
  2. Seven Magic Mountains, near Las Vegas, NV
  3. Our Airbnb rental [referral discount] in Tucson, AZ 
  4. Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, NV
  5. Kehinde Wiley exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum, AZ
  6. Nothing, AZ
  7. Downtown Las Vegas, NV
  8. Barrick Museum at UNLV, NV
  9. Phoenix Chile Pepper Festival, Phoenix, AZ


My monthly photos from 2016: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December.

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Make a Euro-Inspired Mini Lamp Garland

Posted by on Jan 12, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

I stumbled across a tutorial on a site called Taylor Made Creates to make this mini lamp garland, using plastic cups and mismatched fabric on string lights. Seems like a great way to use leftover fabric and put holiday lights to use in the off-season!

Mini Lamp DIY by Taylor Made Creates

It also reminded me of the photos I saw last year of the (much larger) colorful lampshades of Linen Lux.
Linen Lux

If you won’t be in Paris when the lamps go back on display January 19, you can make your own miniature version and bring a bit of the City of Light into your home.

A photo posted by Christoph Jakob (@el_kalam) on

For a (more) boho look, add some fringe or lace scraps, like these string lights at Brückenfestival, a 2-day music festival in Nuremberg, Germany that also has a thing for lamps.

A photo posted by Agi 🌸 (@leucht_auge) on

– More info –

1. Taylor Made Creates
2. European Linen and Hemp
3. Christoph Jakob (@el_kalam)
4. Agi (@leucht_auge)

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Happenings: Winter 2017 #tcjhappenings

Posted by on Jan 5, 2017 in Happenings List | 0 comments

Yuma farm

The Happenings List

This is our handpicked list of upcoming events, starting January 2017, for makers and explorers. While I’ve done my best to be accurate, sometimes things change or aren’t listed correctly. So consider this your starting point, double check the details, and then venture forth and tell us all about it!

Asterisked (**) items link to related posts on Travelcraft Journal.


Boyce Thompson Arboretum


Phoenix Art Museum

  • Now – Mar 12. Horacio Zabala: Mapping the Monochrome.
  • Now – Apr 9. INFOCUS: Juried Exhibition of Self-Published Photobooks.

**Opening night of the Kehinde Wiley exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum.

Picket Post Mansion Tour

Jan 7-8
Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

Rare opportunity to walk through Colonel William Boyce Thompson’s mansion on the cliffs overlooking the Arboretum. Tours were last offered in 2011! Purchase tickets at the Arboretum gift shop on the day of the tour – they will not be sold in advance. Tour tickets $20 plus Arbotetum admission.
**Australia Day at the Arboretum.

New Year Canoe Trip

Jan 7, 12pm
West Wetlands Park, Yuma

Afternoon canoe trip with guided tour. Ages 6+. Call Parks and Recreation at (928) 373-5200 to register. Fee $20.


2nd Mondays, 6pm
Gangplank Chandler
Free monthly meet-up of artists and crafters. Learn something new or bring your own project to work on!
Upcoming dates:

Field to Feast Tour

Jan 11, 12, 18, 19, 21, 25
Feb 2, 4, 8, 9, 11, 15, 18
Mar 1, 2, 4
Visitor Information Center at Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park (201 N. 4th Ave., Yuma)

Half-day farm tour. Hands-on harvesting instruction from a local grower followed by lunch made from the produce you picked. Includes transportation, some veggies to take home, and the field-fresh lunch. Tickets $50.
**Exploring Yuma and its agriculture.

Star Wars: The Music

Jan 13, 7:30pm
Phoenix Symphony Hall

The Phoenix Symphony performs music from the Star Wars saga, including The Force Awakens. Tickets $25-83.
**Star Wars and Star Trek Music at the Phoenix Symphony.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum Art Classes

  • Jan 14, 12pm. Smart Phone Photography with Lisa Langell: Learn how to take better photos with your phone by going beyond basic settings, improving your composition, and editing pictures right on your phone! Fee $40 plus Arbotetum admission.
  • Feb 11. Paint + Wine Class with Carla Keaton: Paint a simplified scene from the Arboretum. Includes use of art supplies. Fee $35-45 plus Arbotetum admission.

yuma city hall

Savor Yuma

Jan 17
Feb 7, 23
Mar 2, 14, 30
Yuma Visitors Bureau admin office (180 W. 1st Street, Yuma)

Progressive dinner tour. Visit three different restaurants and enjoy a multi-course meal. Price includes meal, two adult beverages, and transportation. Tickets $55.

Arizona Game Fair

Jan 21-22
Mesa Convention Center

Tabletop gaming convention. Open gaming (with a library of board and card games available), vendors, events, and game industry guests. Full event badge $30.
**Community garden in Downtown Mesa.

Quilt, Craft & Sewing Festival

Jan 26-28
Arizona State Fairgrounds, Phoenix
Expo with sewing, quilting, needlework, and craft supply vendors (both local and national), as well as workshops and presentations. Admission $10 or $9 with online coupon (printable PDF).
**The 2016 Festival in Phoenix.
Florence courthouse

32nd Annual Historic Florence Home Tour

Feb 11, 10am
Downtown Florence
Tour of 17 homes and historical structures and see performances by the community.
**More to see in Florence, Arizona.

Festival Luna Llena – Art Music Love at the Garden

Feb 11, 7pm
Mesa Urban Garden, Downtown Mesa

Full Moon Festival with live music, art by local artists, telescope viewing, and origami paper lantern group craft project. Partial proceeds from the sale of artists’ work and raffle tickets benefit the garden!

**Mesa Urban Garden.

Art in the Park

Feb 12, 12pm
Gateway Park, Yuma

Fine arts festival alongside the banks of the Colorado River, a la A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. Wander through art displays with a glass of wine or a mimosa. Free admission.
Old Tucson

Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention

Mar 3-5
Old Tucson

Steampunk convention with contests, panels and workshops, fashion show, vehicle exhibition, vendors, entertainment and rides, tea dueling, artists, authors, performers, and Cthulhu running for president. Tickets: 1-day $41, full event $55-125.

McDowell Mountain Music Festival

Mar 3-5
Margaret T. Hance Park, Phoenix
Music festival featuring headliners Flume, The Shins, Chromeo, and Grouplove, as well as local artists like Bear Ghost, CooBee Coo and RUCA. 100% of the proceeds go to local nonprofits Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation and UMOM New Day Center. Tickets: 1-day $40-170, full event $80-510. Service charges: $15-25/ticket.

Southwest Maker Fest

Mar 11, 12pm
Downtown Mesa

Collaborative, one-day festival of makers seeking to achieve the vision of a connected community, empowered by creativity.

**My travel journal workshop at SWMF.


Art Detour 29

March 16-19, 2017
Downtown Phoenix

  • March 16, 5pm. Art D’Core Gala.
  • March 17, 6pm. Pre-Detour Third Friday.
  • March 18-19. Art Detour! Studio and art space tours.


MCAS Yuma Airshow

Mar 17-18
Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma

Airshow featuring both military and civilian demonstrations, including the Patriots Jet Team, the Misty Blues All Women Skydiving Team, and the famous Wall of Fire, which is planning to break a Guinness World Record. Ticket prices TBA.
**Staying and sightseeing near MCAS Yuma.

Phoenix Comicon

May 25-28
Phoenix Convention Center
Pop culture convention featuring actors, top comic book writers and artists, programming, and vendors. Full event passes $55 through January 31.
**Phoenix Comicon 2016.



June 22-24
Hilton Bonnet Creek, Orlando

Annual conference for online content creators. Early bird blogger/influencer passes $249.



In Transition: Female Figurines from the Braunstein Collection

Now – Mar 30, 2017
Barrick Museum at UNLV, Las Vegas

Female figurines from the pre-Hispanic era cultures of Mesoamerica, South America, and Central America. Free ($5 suggested donation).
**Our visits to the Barrick Museum, Downtown Container Park, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and other Las Vegas sights.

Las Vegas Spring Festival

Jan 28, 11am
Downtown Las Vegas and Container Park

Chinese New Year Parade and Party with community cultural performances and concerts.

Red Rock Wildlife Art Workshop

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas
Materials provided. Ages 13+. Registration is required – (702) 515-5367.


va book festival


Virginia Festival of the Book

Mar 22-26
Various locations in Charlottesville/Albemarle County

A week of readings and discussions, book signings, film screenings, and performances.
**3 Sides of Charlottesville, Virginia.


Lamp shades in Paris via Fat Tire Paris


Paris Déco Off

Jan 19-23


Home decor companies open up their Paris showrooms to the public and interior designers to debut new collections. Linen Lux 2017 lamps will be on display, as well.

**Make your own miniature version of the Linen Lux lamps.


Carnival of Venice

Feb 11-28

St. Mark’s Square, Venice

Two weeks of pre-Lenten celebrations with revelers in elaborate masks and costumes.


Virginia Festival of the Book logo via Virginia Festival of the Book. France photo via Fat Tire Paris.

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2017 Wishes

Posted by on Jan 2, 2017 in Life | 7 comments

Sunset in Tucson

Dear Travelcraft Journal community,

What I wish for you – this year and always – is to feel peace in the midst of life’s storms.

I wish for niches in your schedule to be creative, to explore, to experiment, to play.

I wish that whatever life brings you, you’ll be able to find something beautiful there, and that wherever you are, you can take a moment to enjoy the view.

Thanks for being here,





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7 Vegas Things to Do Off the Strip

Posted by on Dec 30, 2016 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments


When we took our road trip to Las Vegas, our brief Bellagio Fountains visit was the most time we spent on the (in)famous Strip, where the supersized casino-resort properties (and, yep, lots of places for weddings) are clustered.

Sangria at firefly

Instead, we played retro arcade games, found some art, explored the desert, and ate some really good food.

Seven magic mountains

So, if ginormous casinos aren’t your thing, read on for awesome places to go in Downtown, near UNLV, and outside of the city altogether.

Bin 702

Downtown Las Vegas

Just north of The Strip is Downtown Las Vegas, which was built first, with casinos along its historic Fremont Street in the wild west days before Nevada was even a state.

Today Downtown includes the area between Washington Avenue and Sahara Avenue, Valley View Boulevard and Eastern Avenue. There is an effort underway to make it more welcoming and walkable, as well as focused on arts and small businesses.

You can still find casinos downtown too. Several of them are linked by the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian walkway, such as Binion’s (home to a free-pull slot machine) and Golden Nugget (home to a waterslide that goes through a shark tank).

Downtown Las Vegas

Downtown Parking

There are several paid parking lots in the Downtown area.

If you’re parking or staying on The Strip, you can take the Deuce bus from there to Downtown. ($8 fare for unlimited rides during a 24-hour period.)

Downtown Las Vegas - Container Park

1. Stroll through Downtown Container Park.

What it is: Three storeys of shipping containers repurposed into locally-owned stores and restaurants surrounding a central plaza and Treehouse playground.

Where: 707 Fremont Street, Las Vegas

Parking: Llama Lot and Fremont Street Experience parking garage (mentioned above) are each about .25 mile away, and you’ll save a few bucks over the Container Park’s own lot ($3/hour). Less money parking means more for things like cheese boards and bath bombs.


Shopping Center –

Monday – Thursday: 11am to 9pm
Friday – Saturday: 10am to 10pm
Sunday: 10am to 8pm

Restaurants + Bars –

Monday – Thursday: 11am to 11pm
Friday – Saturday: 10am to 1am
Sunday: 10am to 11pm

Downtown Las Vegas - Natural Earth Cosmetics
We liked…

  • Art Box for jewelry and artwork from 35 local artists.
  • Natural Earth Cosmetics has handmade natural bath products and cosmetics, knit wash mitts, and other unique gift items – most of it handmade by the owner Michaela.
  • Bin 702 for delicious and adorable montaditos (mini-sandwiches).

Downtown Las Vegas Container Park

  • Phillip wanted me to remind you not to miss the second and third floors. There is more food, more jewelry, clothing, and a cool pet store with reptiles, fish, and seahorses.
  • On the second floor next to The Perch, there’s what looks like a gallery container with a few places to sit, some local artwork, and a view overlooking the courtyard and stage. It may actually be the smoking section and not a gallery. However, when we were there, people were hanging out, eating, and watching the costume contest happening on stage, but I don’t remember seeing anyone actually smoking.
  • The Fire Mantis sculpture in front of the entrance periodically lights up, plays music, and shoots flames from its antennae.
  • Kappa Toys has their own custom pogs and slammers.

Downtown Las Vegas Container Park

2. Find restored historic signs in Downtown’s outdoor Urban Gallery.

What it is: As far as I can tell, this is not a single spot but several outdoor installations.

Nine of the Neon Museum’s vintage signs have been restored to working order and installed around Downtown, including at the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian walkway. Since they’re outside on public streets, you can visit them anytime. Just download a map of their locations and go on a self-guided tour.

Along the way, you’ll probably spot other public art like Bordalo II’s Meerkat mural on the side of an old bus or the world’s largest working fire hydrant in front of a doggy daycare center.

Downtown Las Vegas

Where: Downtown Las Vegas, especially around Las Vegas Boulevard (See PDF map.)

Parking: Fremont Street Experience parking garage or any of the Downtown Parking options above.

Hours: Always open.

Cost: Free.


Around UNLV

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) is east of The Strip and directly north of McCarran International Airport. One of the items below is actually on campus, while the other two are nearby.

Barrick Museum UNLV

3. Visit the Marjorie Barrick Museum at UNLV.

What it is: Small art museum with rotating exhibits inside a former gymnasium.

Where: 4505 S. Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas

Parking (PDF map):

  • Lot I (metered, $1/hour, right outside Musuem)
  • Visitor Lot V (metered, $1/hour)
  • Lot S (free, about 0.7 mile from Museum)


Monday – Friday: 9am to 5pm (Thursdays until 8pm)
Saturday: 12 to 5pm
Closed Sundays

Cost: Free. Suggested contribution: $5.


We liked…

Current exhibitions –

  • In Transition: Ceramic figurines of women in different stages of life from pre-columbian Mesoamerica, South America, and Central America. September 6 – March 30, 2017.
  • Edward Burtynsky: Oil: Photo series on the effects of oil extraction and consumption around the world. September 23 – January 14, 2017.

The ArtBar, where you can create your own art in response to the work on display.

A xeriscape entry garden wraps around the outside of the building with pathways through desert plants.


Pinball Hall of Fame

4. Play games at the Pinball Hall of Fame.

What it is: Not-for-profit, volunteer-run arcade of working (mostly) vintage pinball machines and games like Pac-man, Tetris, and Star Wars.

Where: 1610 E. Tropicana, Las Vegas (North side of Tropicana between Maryland Parkway and Eastern Avenue, about 1.5 mi from The Strip.)

Parking: Free lot on-site.


Sunday – Thursday: 11am to 11pm
Friday – Saturday: 11am to 12am

Cost: Free entrance. Games are 25 cents to $1.


We liked…

  • Playing pinball! We enjoyed the analog machines, as well as the newer movie- and t.v.-themed ones (The Lord of the Rings, Gilligan’s Island, etc.).
  • Indulging our nostalgia for video games we grew up with.
  • Phillip found some quirky old mechanical games, including one where you fly this little metal spaceship and one with a dancing clown that creeped me out.

Vintage arcade game


  • Machines are old and finicky and may eat your quarters. Let the attendant behind the counter know which game it is right away, and they’ll attempt to fix it or refund you.
  • There are change machines near the back.
  • Contrary to rumors that they’re about to close, the Pinball Hall of Fame is actually in the process of expanding into a bigger facility down the street.

Firefly tapas

5. Enjoy small plates at FiREFLY* Tapas Kitchen & Bar

Where: 3824 Paradise Road, Las Vegas

Parking: Free lot on-site.


Monday – Thursday: 11:30am to 1am (Happy hour 3pm – 6pm, 11pm – 1am)
Friday – Saturday: 11:30am to 2am
Sunday: 10am to 1am (Brunch 10am – 2pm)

Firefly tapas

We liked…

  • Sangria, croquettes, bacon-wrapped dates, merguez – everything was so good and reminded me of the flavors of Spain!
  • We ordered a few (5ish) tapas to share. The small plates were great for sampling a variety of things and made a great lunch.

Outside of Town

Red Rock Las Vegas

6. Explore Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Where: 3205 State Route 159, Las Vegas

Parking: Free lot on-site.


Visitors center –
Daily 8am to 4:30pm

Scenic drive –
Daily 6am to 5pm

Cost: $7/vehicle for entry to Visitors Center and scenic drive. Red Rock Scenic Overlook is outside of the fee area, so I believe it’s free to stop there.

Red Rock

We liked…

  • 45-minute scenic drive loop with plenty of places to stop, check out the view, hike, or picnic (see below).
  • Visitors Center with a great picture window and extensive exhibits outside.


  • There’s a desert tortoise habitat outside the Visitors Center, when it’s not too cold for them.
  • We had no cell service out there.
  • While the scenic drive was beautiful at every turn, if you were suuuper pressed for time, you could at least stop at Red Rock Scenic Overlook. You won’t get to see everything, but it would be better than missing out altogether.

We had hoped to squeeze in a quick hike and/or picnic, so I picked out a few options, and then didn’t have time to do either. Anyway, here’s what I found.

Red Rock, Nevada

Easy hikes (and trail map numbers)

  • Overlook Trail (22): Paved, wheelchair-accessible path leading to the top of a small hill with a view of Red Rock Canyon. 0.25 mi.
  • Lost Creek Children’s Discovery Trail (8): Goes from the Lost Creek parking area to a seasonal waterfall. 0.7 mi.
  • Moenkopi Loop (1): Loop from the visitor center with fossils and panoramic views of the Wilson Cliffs. 2 mi.

Red rock

Picnic areas:

There are 4, and all have tables, trash cans, and nearby restrooms.

  • Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center Picnic Area: West of the Visitors Center parking area (with access to Moenkopi and Calico Hills trails).
  • Willow Springs Picnic Area: About halfway around the Scenic Drive (with access to Lost Creek and other trails).
  • Red Rock Scenic Overlook Picnic Area: On State Route 159 with access to Red Rock Scenic Overlook Trail. Some covered tables.
  • The Red Spring Picnic Area: On State Route 159 on Calico Basin Road, two miles east of the Visitors Center. Covered tables.

Seven magic mountains vegas

7. Drive out to Seven Magic Mountains.

30-foot-tall stacks of neon-painted boulders in the desert, a large-scale art installation by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone on display through May 2018.

Where: 10 miles (about 30 minutes) south of Las Vegas off I-15 near Jean Dry Lake.

  • Take Exit 25 at Sloan Rd.
  • It’s on the way to Los Angeles.
  • If you’re headed to Phoenix or just about anywhere else, it’s not on the way, but we thought it was worth the detour!

Parking: Free lot on-site.

Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset (recommended).

Cost: Free.

Seven Magic Mountains Las Vegas

We liked…

  • Seeing the vibrant colors against the muted landscape.
  • Experiencing art large enough to crush us.

Seven magic mountains


  • You can get some background information from either the signage near the parking lot or by calling (702) 381-5182 (English or Spanish).
  • There are no restrooms, water, tables, benches, shelters/shade covers, or anything else on the site. Just you, the art, and the elements in the open desert.
  • The closest public restrooms are 5 miles away in the town of Jean.
  • It was very windy the day we were there. A woman showed up with a yoga mat but didn’t stay long because it was so dusty. Plan for the weather. Don’t plan on doing yoga.

French pastry


A few more Off-Strip eatery options:

  • Delices Gourmands French Bakery (3620 W. Sahara Avenue, Las Vegas) – Stopped here for a pastry and coffee.
  • The Sparklings (8310 S. Rainbow Boulevard, Ste. 100, Las Vegas) – This is where our friend’s wedding was, so we didn’t visit during normal restaurant hours, but it seemed like a neat place.
  • KJ Kitchen (5960 Spring Mountain Road, Chinatown, Las Vegas) – Our Las Vegas friends’ pick for “real Chinese food.”

There are also lots of places to stay that aren’t on The Strip. We opted for a great little Airbnb casita rental near Red Rock.


What are your Off-Strip tips?

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