Travelcraft Journal

Navigation Menu

Book Page Garland for a Graduation Party

Posted by on Jul 27, 2017 in Craft | 0 comments

Book page garland

Phillip finished grad school, after seven years of working full time and taking classes part-time. So we needed to have a party.

Graduation cap

We ended up reserving space in a restaurant near where the commencement ceremony was, so friends and family could just go there directly afterward. I wanted to add some festive touches but knew I’d have little to no time to decorate before people got there. (It turned out to be the latter.)

I kept it super simple with a few school-themed items that I could set up in a flash – all using things I had on hand.

Book page garland

How I made the book page pennants:

1. Ripped out several pages of a ridiculous conspiracy theory novel that I had picked up from free bin outside Changing Hands. (I mean, I’m not going to cut up a good book!)

Book page garland

Book page garland

2. Found the center of the page by folding it in half, only creasing the very bottom of it and making a mark. You could also actually measure and/or use a template if you’re into precision.Book page garland

3. Made a cut from the top right corner of the page to my center mark. Then repeated from the top left.

What I wish I would’ve done: cut from the top right and left margins of the page instead, so that the text would run all the way to the edge.

Book page garland

4. Punched a couple holes near the top of each pennant.

Then I just threaded some bakers’ twine through the holes and added the tassels.

Book page garland - tassel

Tassels

In keeping with the graduation theme, I made paper tassels for each end of the garland, loosely based on instructions I found on A Subtle Revelry.

Here’s how I adapted the project:

  1. Cut about 4 thin strips of paper. (These don’t need to be the same width – or even cut straight.)
  2. Folded over 3 of the strips, leaving a loop at the top. I made mine with a smaller loop and longer “tails” than the ones in the tassel tutorial, because I wanted the proportions more like the tassel on a graduation cap.
  3. Fanned out the strips just a bit.
  4. Stapled them in place.
  5. Covered the staple by winding that last paper strip around the tassel and securing it with double stick tape.
  6. Added a tassel to each side of the garland by threading the baker’s twine through the top loop.

Book page craft

What Didn’t Work…

Watercolor

I thought about adding some color with watercolors. However, my test pages totally curled up, even when I used the smallest amount of water possible or painted just part of the page.

Book page garland

The Pages

Another thing that could’ve been cool was using a book or notes from Phillip’s classes. But he didn’t have anything like that around – at least nothing that he was willing to sacrifice to the craft gods.

So I went with the conspiracy book, because I liked the page size.

I tried to make sure there wasn’t any murder on the pages I used, but it was hard to avoid. And there were still black helicopters and government officials typing things out on Blackberries – not very festive or on theme.

Book page garland at grad party

I hoped people would see it as decor and not try to read it.

No such luck.

One family member said they had been trying to figure out if the pages had some significance or clues. (Nope.) Another one asked me what the garland spelled. (Nothing.) It took me awhile to convince her that what she thought were large letters were actually backwards chapter numbers showing through some of the backlit pages.

I obviously should have come up with more for people to do.

image

What Worked (Mostly): The Decoration Bag

I loaded up a large ziploc bag with everything I (or whoever) would need to set up the decorations at the restaurant:

  • Chalkboard sign with “Phillip’s grad party!” already written on it – with chalk markers, so it wouldn’t smear.
  • A jar for markers and pens that had a chalkboard label on the front. I wrote “Please sign the program” on it with a little arrow pointing down.
  • Chalk markers in case one of my signs needed a touch-up.
  • Regular markers and pens, so people could sign the commencement ceremony program like a yearbook. These were just regular kids’ markers you’d find in the back-to-school aisle.
  • A wooden ruler to hold the program open. (Also because it was cute and school-y.)
  • The garland, carefully folded and placed between things so it wouldn’t get crunched up.
  • Washi tape to hang the garland.
  • Scissors.
  • This Yoobi kit in case we required a tiny stapler or scotch tape for some reason.

I had hoped to hand the bag off to my parents, who were designated to get the party started, since I guessed (correcty) that Phillip and I wouldn’t be able to leave the place where the ceremony was and get over there right away. But they were so focused on their mission that they left before I could give them the Decoration Bag.

So I set things up halfway through the party. Less than ideal, but that’s life.

At least having everything in one bag meant I could get it done in record time. And at least the guests didn’t have to wait on the food.
Grad party garland

 

– More info on DIY party decor –

Read More

Solstice Cookies and Solar Cooking

Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 in Craft | 2 comments

Solstice cookies

The forecast high in Phoenix for the longest day of the year was 120F (49C).

So it seemed like a great day to try baking outside.

Burton Barr Library

On the way home from the summer solstice celebration at Burton Barr Library last Tuesday, we picked up chocolate chip cookie dough. I chose that for my solar cooking experiment, because there’s no raw egg in it, and if it doesn’t cook all the way, you end up with doughy cookies – not a bad thing, in my opinion!

I scooped spoonfuls of cookie dough into a reflective aluminum roasting pan, covered the top with plastic wrap, sealed the sides with packing tape to trap the heat, and added a meat thermometer, so I could see how hot it actually got next to the cookies.

Solar baked cookies

I had intended to get an earlier start, but at 3:45pm, it was still 120 degrees out. So I decided to give it a go and set the pan in direct sun on our concrete patio.

The temperature inside the pan got as high as 160. The cookies began to look like they were melting, with the oil separating from the dough.

Baking cookies outside

Four hours later, the sun was low enough in the sky that the whole patio was in the shade. The dough had flattened out into cookie shapes that were somewhat solid but still pretty soft.

Solar baking

So we scooped vanilla frozen yogurt on top (à la pizookie), and it was delicious!

Apparently, a proper solar oven will bake faster, even if it’s not as hot out. But I would try my improvised “oven” again on a day when I could get an earlier start and give it a little more time in the sun.

Phoenix

– More info –

  • The package actually said not to eat the cookie dough raw. That didn’t stop me. But I thought you should know.
  • Many of the solar ovens I saw online have glass on top. If you decide to use plastic wrap like I did (because I didn’t have any glass panes just sitting around), try to get good cling wrap. I used the Target brand, and it was really annoying trying to get it tight across the top. (In the end, it was a wrinkly mess.)

Articles to check out…

Cookie dough

 




Are you on our monthly newsletter list? I’m working on a fun surprise for subscribers in the next one! You can sign up here.

Read More

Chalk Robots

Posted by on Jun 5, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 9 comments

There was a chalk drawing of a robot on the ground. No explanation. Just an arrow.

La Ru robot

So, of course, we followed it – and the next one and the next one – down the steps behind Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Pike Place Market

We tried to guess where they were leading. A street art project? A robot maker? Nowhere? The den of our new robot overlords?

One lead us to turn the corner, and then, “Is that it? Is it a baby store?!!”

Ugly Baby and La Ru, Seattle

Nope. A larger robot drawing pointed inside a store with a chalkboard sign that answered my question: “{Ugly Baby & La Ru} Handmade local art for grown-ups and practically nothing for actual babies.”

Ugly Baby and La Ru chalk art

It was a gift shop owned by two artists – Rosalie Gale (of Ugly baby) and Lauren Rudeck (a.k.a. “La Ru”), who was there in the store that day.

Artist La Ru

Ugly Baby and La Ru, Seattle

She creates illustrations of animals and robots, and seemed delighted to hear her chalk drawings had lead us in. The store was full of craft kits, cards, and mini works of art, and I wanted to buy everything.

Ugly Baby and La Ru, waterproof art

Ugly Baby and La Ru, Seattle

The entire store wouldn’t fit in my suitcase, but I did take home a really great sloth coffee mug.

Coffee sloth!




 

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

Read More

Year Four in Nine Videos

Posted by on Jun 1, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

Today marks the fourth anniversary of Travelcraft Journal! (And the 350th post!) I thought we could take a look back on the past year in 4 places, 4 projects, and 9 videos.
Pasadena City Hall

1. Southern California/Pasadena

First, let’s road trip to Pasadena in one minute. Of course, we’ll stop for date shakes on the way. Once we get there, we can visit the Norton Simon Museum and the jungle garden at the Huntington.

Video: Phoenix to Pasadena in one minute

Project: In honor of sea breezes and Santa Ana winds, make a mobile or wind chime!

Seven Magic Mountains Las Vegas

2. Las Vegas

Next up: Las Vegas. There are lots of awesome things to do off The Strip, including the ArtBar and Downtown Container Park with its giant, music-blaring, fire-shooting praying mantis. If you want to go to The Strip, I can tell you how to get around and how not to get around, as well as why there are so many weddings there.

     
 

Videos:

 
Project: Make a scrapbook with playing cards.

Mount Lemmon trail

3. Tucson

Tucson is the home of Mt. Lemmon, Mission San Xavier del Bac, the annual Agave Heritage Festival, and the world premiere of the Riders of the Purple Sage Opera.
 

 
Videos: Driving to the top of Mt. Lemmon

Project: Try roasting your own agave or make a recipe that uses agave syrup, like a Bloody Mary with Grilled Pipián Mole Shrimp Skewers.
 
Tempe light rail station art - hands

4. Phoenix

Back in Phoenix, ride the light rail to check out the Phoenix Art Museum, a pizza festival, a lunch hour opera, symphony performance, or Phoenix Comicon.


 
Videos:

Project: Make a costume out of duct tape.

Check out our Airbnb recommendations post for places to stay in Pasadena, Tucson, and Las Vegas!

Salem

Bonus: Salem

Okay, no videos with this one, but, if you haven’t yet, check out Jessica Tennant’s posts on Salem, Massachusetts – part 1 and part 2.




Salem photo by Jessica Tennant.

Read More

Vacancy

Posted by on May 8, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 6 comments

Historic hotel in Peoria AZPhillip read an article an old hotel that had been sitting abandoned for years with plans to tear it down when the city decided instead to preserve it.

Historic hotel in Peoria AZ

He wanted to go find the Edwards Hotel on his day off, so we drove to the Peoria address in the article. It wasn’t hard to find.

Edwards hotel

Even from outside the chain link fence, it was interesting to guess what had been there originally and what had been added later.

IMG_9564

Then we took a stroll around Old Town Peoria, where there’s currently not much going on, but they have a revitalization program in the works.

 

Peoria

image

Peoria

State bird quilt

In the meantime, they have ornate, agriculturally-themed bus stops, a handful of historic buildings (including a church that was turning 100 the week we were there),  and a nice little community center with paintings and quilts on display. It was all a cozy contrast to the hollowed-out hotel.

image

Peoria

Peoria

 

Peoria Quilt




 

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

Read More

The Opening Of The Fire Pit

Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

After our morning hike at Tumamoc Hill, we returned to the Mission Garden that evening for demonstrations on agave rope making and roasting, tequila tastings, a display of products made from agave fibers, plant sale, and The Opening of the Fire Pit.

Agave products

Tequila

The day before, probably about the time Phillip and I were driving from Phoenix to Tucson, a group had gathered at the Mission Garden. Jesús García, an Education Specialist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, was demonstrating how to build a fire in a traditional roasting pit and fill it with agaves. They would be covered with metal from the side of an old washing machine and then layers of dirt to keep the heat inside the earth oven.

Jesus Garcia

Other than the repurposed washing machine, the pit would be similar to the ones we had seen evidence of on our hike that morning, the charcoal gray rocks contrasting with the reddish desert clay only hinting at what was under our feet.

Agave plants

We don’t know exactly how the ancient roasting pits worked. Current tribes in the area have not continued this tradition. However, Jesús García pointed out that just a few miles south of the border, “the tradition is still alive.” He talked to his family in Mexico about the process, taking notes and drawing extensive diagrams about every step. Adapting those techniques to the Tucson area has taken some trial and error. Apparently. Last year’s cooking time wasn’t quite enough.

So this year, they would give the agave a full 24 hours to cook underground before literally digging in and opening up the fire pit.

Agave

That must be the magic number. It was soft and slightly sweet. Each variety had a different flavor. One tasted like sweet potatoes.
Roasted agave

So what if you don’t happen to have access to a 5-foot by 6-foot roasting pit?

Carolyn Niethammer shared how she roasts quartered agave heads in her home oven – just roast at 350 for 17 hours (!)

Carolyn cooking demo

Once they’ve been roasted, you can add them into other dishes. With an electric skillet, she demonstrated how to saute up some agave along with nopales (prickly pear pads), peppers, and tepary beans, a drought-tolerant heritage bean that has recently come back into use. It was delicious!

Agave and tepary beans

She followed up by passing around some “Aztec delights,” bite-sized treats she made from amaranth, chia, agave syrup, and chocolate.

Dessert at Mission Garden

It was a sweet finish to our Mission Garden visit.

 

 


Next Agave Heritage Festival events in Downtown Tucson:

  • May 6 + 7, 10am + 1pm: Fibers, Tequila and Fun at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Included with admission.
  • May 6 + 7, 10am: Agave Garden Tours at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Included with admission.
  • May 6 + 7, 10am: Rare + Collectible Agave Sale at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Included with admission.
  • May 6, 6pm: Agave Fest tequila party at Hotel Congress. $35
  • May 7, 11am: Agave Heritage Brunch at Carriage House. Proceeds from this brunch help benefit Mission Garden. $55



We were guests of Hotel Congress and Maynards Market + Kitchen.

Read More