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by Wiley

BABIES! BABIES! BABIES! The world’s crawling with them! Babies and mommies-to-be have been hot topics lately, and I can’t wait to meet all the newly minted 2012 editions.

Earlier this month, Jirat and I threw a baby shower for a friend who’s expecting twins (and who has really been into the color mint).

Party favors included mugs with peppermint tea for the ladies…

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…and giant heart crayons for the kiddies!

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I made sherbet-y bunting…

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…and Jirat made mint-colored poms. We also reused the raincloud poms that Ingo made for Heather’s shower.  (Thanks, Ingo!)

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Party games included “What’s In Mommy’s Purse?,” “Guess Mommy’s Tummy Size,” and a quiz about twins. Game winners took home boxes of Thin Mints.

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Here’s the completed diaper cake that I blogged about a few entries back. It’s decorated with Sukie notecards, felt ribbons from Anthropologie’s Christmas gift wrap, some Medela bottles, and an ark.

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To make the ark, my very wonderful/helpful boyfriend carved a trunk bark stamp  (his very first linocut!) and I printed the image onto some cardstock.

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Jirat was in charge of food, and she really knocked it out of the park. My favorite was the miang kum, a delicious Thai snack that’s made with about 20 different ingredients (if you include all the items you need to make the sauce). She also made a cake with edible flowers…

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…and used her Thai-tanic strength and a giant cleaver to carve up some coconuts.

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A pretty amazing thing happened during the “Guess Mommy’s Tummy Size” game. To play the game, each guest had me cut a piece of string that they hoped would fit around the mommy-to-be’s baby bulge. The youngest party guest (who’s only five) was one of the first people to take the spool. After thinking about it for several minutes, she finally showed me where she wanted me to make the cut. As the spool was then passed around to other attendees, the youngest guest came up to me twice to ask if she could make some adjustments to her original guess. (Both times, she had me cut off TINY increments to her string.) When it finally came time to measure around the guest of honor’s belly, it turned out that all the adults had totally overestimated—but the youngest guest’s guess was uncanny: it wrapped PERFECTLY around MTB’s stomach, end-to-end!

by Wiley

This morning, I got a story on my Facebook newsfeed from a new mom:

<my friend>: Found a use for all the frozen packs of bm sitting in the drawer of our freezer – ice pack for the injured.

It turns out she was talking about breastmilk…but you can imagine all the horrified comments that resulted from the post! (Turns out my friend had never heard of the other poopy meaning for “BM.”)

Anyway, party planning’s in full swing here at Quizzical Creatures. Preparations for another baby shower are underway and, taking Pedro’s lead, I built a friend a (diaper) cake.

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If you do a Google image search for “diaper cakes,” you’ll see a lot of cute cakes made of rubber band-ed diapers. However, there was a dearth of rubber bands in the house, so I experimented to see if there was a way to make a cake without this key component. This easy-peasy tutorial will show you how to fashion a cake using just three simple ingredients!

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You can decorate the cake any way you’d like — with treats interspersed between the nappies, with ribbons, etc. This particular cake will be Noah’s Ark-themed because my friend’s having TWINS!

Every spring, the de Young Museum in San Francisco hosts “Bouquets to Art,” a week-long exhibition where floral designers from around the world use fresh flowers and foliage to reinterpret the museum’s signature pieces.

I recently helped plan the decorations for Heather’s South Bay baby shower and, while brainstorming ideas, I remembered this amazing exhibit. I thought it would be cool to reinterpret Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss using paper flowers. That project is still a work in progress but, as a result of that goal, I took up paper-flower making (with the help of the book Making Paper Flowers by Laurie Cinotto — a book that, for some reason, only seems to be available at Barnes & Noble brick-and-mortar stores).

Laurie’s book included a whole section on crepe paper, where I learned that not all crepe papers are created equal. I also learned that one of the few U.S.-based purveyors of high-quality German crepe paper was right under my very nose!

Castle in the Air is “a studio for the imagination” that’s located in Berkeley’s 4th Street district. The small shop is overflowing with specialty stationary, supple leather journals, gorgeous lino prints, and whimsical displays like  19th-century marionettes and papier-mâché mannequins. Upstairs, there’s a small gallery and a backroom workshop for classes. The merchandise isn’t cheap — but, for the most part, the products also aren’t things you’d be able to find at your run-of-the-mill Michaels or Jo-Ann. The store has a quirky sensibility and an extremely well curated selection of craft supplies; after I walked in, I immediately sensed that a lot of thought and heart went into planning the shop.

After making flowers with the kind of crepe paper you can find at party stores, I decided to test the waters with the German stuff. I visited Castle in the Air one Sunday to check out their selection of heavyweight crepe paper. The colors available were a lot more muted and nuanced than what I’d been working with (e.g., “pineapple” and “coral” vs. “yellow” and “pink”), and I could definitely feel the difference in texture and quality. As I spoke to the proprietress about colors, she offered to take me to her (amazing!) back room so that I could see the full selection.

Earlier on, I’d already visited the upstairs gallery and had been blown away by the exhibit. So when the owner took me to the back room to show me the rows and rows of gorgeous paper stacked up all the way to the ceiling, I felt lucky to get a backstage pass to the inner workings of such an awesome local shop.

The image below is a picture of a photo that was in the newspaper that was in the gallery. (Phew!) Berkeley artist and self-proclaimed vegan taxidermist Aimée Baldwin uses the German crepe paper to meticulously handcraft life-sized birds:

Some of Aimée’s fine-feathered friends in the upstairs gallery:

Anyway, back to the baby shower. The party’s hostess said the party’s theme colors were coral and aqua. (The baby’s nursery is based on Heather’s Anthropologie vase, which Jirat also happened to own and let me borrow as inspiration for the party decorations.)

These chocolate butterflies were made with red Wilton candy melts and a silicone insect mold.

I made these felt mums for Ingo’s bridal shower last year, and the bunting was made using the process outlined here.

Here are flowers made out of thin crepe paper. The material is easy to work with, has a lovely translucence, and is quite inexpensive.

These blooms are made with the heavyweight German crepe paper. The material is stretchier and more durable.

These flowers are made with supplies that came in the B&N kit. I definitely recommend the book for anyone who wants to make their foray into flower making!

by Ingo

Heather asked me to plan one of her baby showers.  Wiley planned the other one in South Bay which I’m sure was a baby shower to end all baby showers.  Actually, I’m really glad I’m posting about this one before she posts about hers!

The only baby shower I’ve attended before Heathers was a quick thing put together in a stranger’s house for someone I didn’t really know.  The only thing I remember from that day was that I willingly submitted to being blindfolded.  Someone stuck my hands in rice where I halfheartedly looked for safety pins.  If aliens are watching us, they are probably writing 100 page theses on why we do this.

I vaguely understood this practice as an activity that had to be done because drinking punch, eating cookies, and making light conversation was not stimulating enough.  However, standing up was far too stimulating so women had to think of things to do while sitting down.

As I was planning Heather’s shower, I toyed with a few ideas that seemed more fun than finding safety pins in rice.  Those ideas involved women wrestling each other with their shirts stuffed with pillows and exercise weights strapped to their ankles, with Heather belligerently refereeing.  We would feel empathy for pregnancy and Heather would get to see a bunch of her friends wrestle!  This idea, however, violated the law that not sitting is far too stimulating for women during the afternoon.

As I was thinking about activities to plan for the shower, I had an epiphany about why women plan showers.  Check it:  I have the power to make these women do whatever I want as long as they are sitting down.  WHATEVER.  I.  WANT.  And they would submit to it as long as their surroundings were decorated nicely with cute things.  So what did I make them do?  I made them eat baby food and diaper, while I watched smugly from a corner.  Granted, Heather would have probably been game to do both those things even if it wasn’t a baby shower.  That is why I love her.

First, the cute things strewn about:

Because watching smugly from a corner wasn’t enough, I had to take trophy pictures and share them all with you.

What? NO! They’re having fun?  This isn’t going as I planned.

Our MC for the day, looking resplendent while she makes people listen to Justin Bieber and Brittany Spears.

The beautiful mother to be.  She’s going to be so good at this… clearly.

by Ingo

I’m planning a friend’s baby shower and found this cool idea to make a rain shower the theme.

Brilliant!        http://www2.fiskars.com/Activities/Crafting/Articles/Baby-Shower

I made a couple modifications.  Instead of simply using blue paper for the raindrops, I painted on water color paper to give the raindrops a watery look.  I also used red and white baker’s twine to hang the raindrops because I wanted to tie in the color red a little more consistently.  I purchased red and white straws and cherry lollypops to go with the party.  More pictures to come.  For now, a few with the funky iPhone camera.

[editor’s note: Wiley wrote the title of this post; Ingo’s not patting herself on the back! 🙂 ]

by Ingo

I decided to make terrariums a theme for my wedding centerpieces and wedding invitations.   Terrariums are awesome- they are portable, pretty and you can put all sorts of weird things inside (like plastic dinosaurs!).  In order to make these centerpieces as economical and sustainable as possible, I spent a good 6 months covertly stealing plant cuttings from neighbor’s yards and restaurant windows.  By the time the wedding rolled around, all of my pockets were filled with a fine layer of dirt and a few dead forgotten succulents.

Succulent terrariums are pretty easy to keep alive.  They really only need enough sunlight so that they don’t get “leggy”.  The non-succulent terrariums took a little more trial and error.  I basically planted whatever plant I found, watched it die, then replaced it, then watched it grow mold, then replaced it.  Eventually some things stayed alive!  There are a bunch of really good terrarium tutorials out there so don’t do what I did.  My head was wedding panic crazy so I threw things together, but now I wish I had followed instructions more closely since they have a propensity to grow mold when the top is closed.

I hollowed out a lightbulb and stuffed some dried billyballs and reindeer moss inside.  It was a dangerous experience that included a few splinters of glass barely missing my eyeballs.  You should try it too!

The crab shell was collected in Aruba during our last destination wedding shoot.  The smooth wood piece was collected in Tahoe during our annual snow boarding trip.  See?  Stealing from other people and from nature is way better than buying.

Now… wedding invitations.  The project started out with the wise decision to make something simple since people are going to throw them out anyway.  Then somehow I got really ambitious (crazy wedding brain) and decided on abnormal sheet dimensions that could not be cut with a traditional paper cutter.  Then I wanted to die.  Then I decided I was going to send out Evites instead.  Then Jerry nursed my brain back to health, and I finished the project.

These bad boys are printed with a combination of Lino-blocks and Gocco Machine.  I hand-sized and mounted three linoleum pieces on masonite and carved three blocks:
1. off-white layer (the jar)
2. light pool layer (stuff inside the terrarium)
3. brown layer (all the lines)

Then I cleaned off the light pool paint on block#2 and only inked a portion of it red, to create the red accents.
Then I cleaned off the red paint and inked a portion sage green to create more accents.
THEN, I hand painted in some of the lighter red/orange accents.

Each block has to be individually inked and pressed for each print, which was very time consuming.  Each print had 5 ink blocked layers and one hand painted layer.  And I made 90 prints, which comes out to 450 separate inkings and printings!
After all of my prints dried for the 6th time, I started to gocco in the text.  I used two colors, the same pool blue and an off white. A hurdle that I encountered was that the oil based gocco paint dried extremely light on my kraft paper, even after 2-3 separate applications.  I emailed Yale a frantic panicky email with tears in my eyes and she responded with the elegant solution of using my water based linoblock ink (that’s why I am so glad she’s my partner!).  For all you gocco-ers out there, you don’t need to use the expensive gocco ink!  As long as the ink has some thickness to it, you can probably use to for gocco.  Oil based inks probably work better because they don’t run as easily as water based ones.
Here, a fancy looking squirrel holding up a sign for the address:

I can with complete certainty say that it was because of these invitations that I am still backed up with work I didn’t do last summer.  I shake my fist at you horrible beautiful lovingly crafted invitations!

-Ingo

by Wiley

My South Pole Santa’s heading to Antarctica for an annual research expedition that, to my understanding, involves a ton of pub trivia, freshly baked cookies, and four square meals a day. (As far as I can tell, the only downside to being a South Pole researcher is that one of your fellow scientists might in fact be a parasitic extraterrestrial that yoinks your snickerdoodle.)

Last winter, his deployment date fell around his birthday so we celebrated the occasion with a surprise Antarctica-themed going away/birthday party.

(pics by Ingo of Jerry Yoon Photographers)

WELCOME SIGN: Welcome to Walt’s Totally Lovely Antarctic Wonderland. WALT TLAW is a magical, palindromic place with a name that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. But that’s okay, because if you rolled your tongue out in WALT TLAW, it might get stuck on a flagpole. We hope you enjoy your stay! And please–DO NOT eat the yellow snow.

MENU: During your visit, you’re invited to:
**Hope aboard the POLAR BRIE EXPRESS (raspberry jam and baked Brie)
**Hunt for the EMPANADOMINABLE SNOWMAN (spiced beef empanadas)
**Ski alongide SOUTHPOLE CHICKIES (tequila-lime wings)
**Cozy up under our FIGS IN A BLANKET (prosciutto-wrapped figs)
**Take a stroll in our WINTER GARDEN (arugula and beet salad)
**Ride an ICICLE BUILT FOR TWO (white chocolate pretzel sticks)
**Pan for YUKON GOLD NUGGETS (seasoned potato wedges)
**Join the MARCH OF THE PENGUINS (vanilla cupcakes)
**Lob some ITALIAN SNOWBALLS (fresh mozzarella with herbs)

Here are some penguin cupcakes bringing home the catch of the day (gummy fishies), as inspired by Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. These penguins were made with vanilla cupcakes, frosting, a splash of black food coloring, marshmallows, yellow Starbursts, chocolate cookies, and mini chocolate chips.

These “icicles” are homemade white chocolate-covered pretzel rods with crushed almonds. The rock candy sticks were just a nickel at Michael’s.

It rained the day of the party so this abominable snowbeast pinata currently resides in my bedroom, along with a mysteriously diminishing supply of candy.

The snowflake pendants were made with a Gocco, a Japanese screen-printing machine. The mantel was decorated with books designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith, Rosanna ceramics, and hydrangeas in a Spanish glass vase.

My friend Joelle baked a pistachio ice cream cake, and I made laminated mini flags to decorate her delicious creation. The cake represents Antarctica and the flags represent the 12 signatory states of the Antarctic Treaty. Did you know that there are two South Poles? There’s the Ceremonial South Pole and the Geographic South Pole. The Geographic South Pole is repositioned every New Year’s Day to account for the shifting of the ice during the prior year.

(pic by Steve Spiker of Stealing Beauty Photography)

Walt’s mom lent me some childhood photos for the party (as well as the episode of Super Sloppy Double Dare that Walt appeared on when he was a kid!).

This eco-friendly chandelier’s made out of tissue paper and coffee filters and strung underneath the real chandelier.

by Wiley

Duct tape came to the rescue not once, not three times, but TWICE this Halloween.

Hm, maybe that sentence was not the best way to start this entry. But onwards!

1) In what’s becoming an annual tradition, Walt and I waited until the day of to solidify what we’d be doing for Halloween and then improvised costumes last minute (well, last half hour).  With the help of duct tape, coffee filters, and a bit of muslin, we hastily pulled together bee/beekeeper outfits for the Gaskell Costume Ball in Oakland. I’d teach you how to make the coffee filter wings, except that ThreadBanger has a good tutorial to make much better fancy fairy wings (if you’re ever in the market for some glittery aerial appendages). The one revision I’d make to their video is to use heavy-gauge floral wire instead of old coat hangers. Easier to twist and shape.

2) At work, lots of people pitched in to prepare for the Halloween party. This included a group pumpkin-carving session.

Michelangelo once said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” With Michelangelo’s inspiring words in mind, I picked a pumpkin and started chiseling away. I knew that  if I approached the task with a pure heart and a steady hand, I might liberate an ochre masterpiece that might charm, frighten, or stupefy onlookers.

I’d just seen Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark, and I had high hopes for my gourd. Here’s what went through my head as I worked on my pumpkin: “I’ll make a silhouette of Indiana Jones snapping around a mighty whip in a dense jungle forest!..Hmmm, this might be too ambitious. I’ll make Totoro standing underneath a leaf umbrella!…Okay, this is harder that I thought it would be. I’ll just make Totoro’s face…This doesn’t look right. I guess I’ll make a cat’s face…Oh no! My pumpkin just collapsed in on itself!…Judges, my entry for this year’s contest is a big gaping hole.”

Actually, since the cat’s face had fallen into the pumpkin, I rounded out the outer ears and made a hapless Winnie the Pooh. My friend Jackie had given me a tiny pumpkin earlier that day, so I scrawled the word “HUNNY” on the small gourd and called it a day.

Needless to say, I didn’t place in the  competition. Alas, if there was a contest for whose pumpkin was the best at: 1) filling up entirely with mold over the course of just one weekend because so much surface area was exposed to oxygen; and 2) softening up and decomposing in a translucent pool of liquid, ostensibly because even the pumpkin’s own juices wanted to flee from the horrors within, I would have won hands down, head lowered, shoulders stooped, back hunched, in defeat.

My other contribution to the party decorations fared better. A coworker and I were in charge of the voting booths so, using designs inspired by Dana Tanamachi’s chalk drawings, I used a Sharpie, construction paper, and duct tape to make signs for the booth. If you want to give your kid’s fridge art some pizzazz, just border the artwork with patterned duct tape and round out the corners with a corner punch. Cheap, simple, and eye-catching!

by Ingo

The hubby and I happen to have our birthdays only a week apart.   Jerry’s birthday is earlier than mine and that is lucky for me because I have figured out how to use his birthday as a sweet opportunity to trick/guilt/mind control him into doing something extremely awesome for me.  This is what happens.  I throw a lavishly creative party for him that involves tons of balloons and pinatas and candy and myself photoshopped to look like a man (see below).  This overwhelms him and make him realize (if only subconsciously) how many hours I spent and bloody tears I shed to celebrate his birthday.  (I make sure to show him my paper cuts.)  The day after his festivities, a mild guilt settles in and over the course of the next 6 days, develops into panic to do something even cooler for me.  And, that’s how I get really rad birthday parties!

This year, my birthday landed around Easter.  serendipitous bunny ears showed up unplanned and voila!

The bunny on the top right went around biting people and we had to put him down by the end of the night.

The bunny (top middle) with the face tats… he scares me.

Pistachio shortbread and yalee’s awesome spice cake with caramel frosting, featured here!

Robin’s nest cupcakes with jelly beans!

After we finished gorging ourselves on meats and baked goods, Jerry made us play games.  I say “made” because he promised that stuffing our faces in baking pans full of flour to find jolly ranchers would be fun…Jolly Ranchers that other people have grazed with their tongues and drooled on.  When all of us looked at him like he was crazy, he no longer made it optional.

For Jerry’s birthday, I made him an expansion pack for the game “Heart Throb” featuring people he knew, including his dad, friends, and myself.  All the people on the cards had to be men, so I photoshopped myself to look like a man!  Upsettingly, making myself look like a man was very easy.

If I had taken pictures to document the process of getting these bad boys printed and looking legitimately like they were printed in the 90’s, you would be looking at a picture of me, lying fetal position in the middle of the floor at 4 am, crying into multiple botched copies of Cowboy Clayton.

by Wiley Ingo’s just six days away from saying “I do” to her most favorite creature! Meanwhile, yesterday, my best boy and I celebrated our anniversary. 366 days ago, the funniest, kindest, wisest, sweetest guy I’ve ever known fell out of the sky and onto my front porch (wearing a cowboy hat). We enjoyed a marathon first date, which culminated in a midnight viewing of Toy Story 3, which had just come out earlier that day.

In celebration of hitting the one year mark, I commissioned our super talented Pixar animator friend Austin to create a drawing that commemorated my and Walt’s first date. The only direction I gave Austin was “something Toy Story 3 related…maybe including the three aliens…and maybe somehow incorporating this picture (see below).”

Here’s what Austin came up with (in oh…about half an hour!):

…final draft! Can you spot Mickey?