Harry Potter Wizard Chest – Christmas FTW.


Someone hand me the award. Because I nailed Christmas gifting this year. Totally nailed it.

And I quote … “Mom, you’re the bestest ever! I’m going to keep this FOREVAAAAAHH!”

Bestest. Ever.

DIY Wizard Harry Potter Chest.png

There was a time when I won a different kind of parenting award. The not-good kind. The I-can’t-believe-you-forgot-the-Easter-Bunny-you-terrible-mother kind. But this? This is legit.

Isn’t reading incredible? I love that this Harry Potter journey has been the catalyst to my children’s desire to learn to read. I now have a voracious reader of a daughter and an up-and-coming preschooler boy who is figuring out so many words already. They want to read. And let me tell you, it takes a special kind of book–one that they’ll always remember–that first inspires young readers. Thank you, JK Rowling.

I took a long break from writing the sequel to my novel, Hiding Haelo, to put together the ultimate Harry Potter lover’s chest. This all started with a little pin I saw on Pinterest of a printable Marauder’s MapMy kids will love that, I thought. My kids are obsessed with Harry Potter. I might have encouraged that obsession, but it’s there nonetheless. Well, that Map started a chain effect, which got waaaay outta control. Next thing I knew, I was spending hours a day for way too many days putting together the ultimate Harry Potter wizard kit for each of my two oldest kids. Nailed it, guys. Nailed it.

They LOVE these.

Included in their Wizard kits are:
House Notebooks 
Spell Books
Character/Creature encyclopedias
Marauders Maps
Ministry of Magic Identifications
Leather Bookmarks
Golden Snitches
Sorcerer’s Stones
Harry Glasses/Hermione Time-Turner Necklace 
Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans
DementAway Chocolate
Chocolate Frogs
Hogwarts robes. (Which I’d already made a few months back for Halloween.)

Harry, Hermione, and little Ron-ette. Aren’t they cute!? Look at those faces.
Or this one. Look at this face.
I mean, come on.

So they have everything they need to play wizard. Except, well, magic.

(I came *this* close to sewing invisibility cloaks.)

Disclaimer:  I have a printer, a sewing machine, a hot glue gun, epoxy, and a laminator (okay, my mom has the laminator). A good friend of mine already had the chocolate frog mold, too. I had leftover faux leather from when I cut a leather topper kid-shield for my freshly-stained kitchen table. I also already had off-white cardstock, embroidery thread, gold sewing thread, small glittery ornaments, wire ribbon, chopsticks, spare composition notebooks, wood stain, modpodge, an old leather studded purse, neodymium magnets, Hershey bars (we’re a s’more family) and those little plastic treat bags. The Hogwarts robes, Harry glasses and Hermione necklace we already had from Halloween.

So really, I only had to buy the paperweight “sorcerer’s stones,” the hinged boxes, the photo prints for the encyclopedias (in which I used a 50% off coupon code), photo albums from the dollar store, Bean-Boozled jelly beans, glitter scrapbook foam, and “quills.” The biggest expense by far was when my printer ran out of ink. Because our $30 printer uses $45 ink. Seriously.

So, yes, these kits were relatively inexpensive …  for me and my stocked crafting horde. If you had to buy everything from scratch it could get pretty pricey.

Expense aside… the time put into these was so far beyond reasonable. The encyclopedia alone took me like 5 days of go-to-bed-at-three-in-the-morning. But lucky you, I did it already! So if you want to make these, you just have to print! Go ahead and click on each item to get to the good stuff.

Someone pat me on the back.

After I’d put the whole thing together, I placed the quills (in their packaging) at the bottom of a big box (because they don’t fit in the treasure chests), then placed the chests on top. Then I added the wrapped Funko Pop characters they asked for for Christmas (Quidditch Harry, Sirius Black, Dumbledore, Hagrid, Hermione, and Luna Lovegood) and threw in their Halloween Hogwarts robes to keep all the boxes from shifting around.


Harry Potter FTW. SuperMom FTW.

P.S. Did I mention that a stuffed Hedwig, and a super awesome Firebolt broom might have also been Christmas presents this year? Nailed it. I totally nailed it.

Reading is awesome. My daughter couldn’t read when we started this journey. She had little interest. Now she’s a voracious reader. She got a few different beginner chapter books for christmas from different people and she’s been plowing through them. I’m sure you have those *certain* books from your own childhood that inspired your reading. Yay for that.


Wild Zone!


Wild Zone!

My dad is awesome. He has a hilariously skewed and unexpected sense of humor. He likes the weirdest movies, and proves it with endless obscure movie quotes that almost no one but his family recognizes. Aziz! Liiiight! 

He’s many things: an airline pilot, a stubborn debater, world-class champion of The Look, tinkerer, mechanic, sailor, grandpa, cherisher of my angel of a mother, BYU Cougars fan, intellectual, rock music aficionado, pet scorpion owner,* and secret teddy bear.**

But did you know? He’s also an inventor. No, for real. Like, the man has two patents. The guy could have been a mechanical engineer if the sky hadn’t been calling to him since he was a little tyke.

I’m going to let you in on his best creation (besides us kids, you know). It’s called WILD ZONE!. That punctuation may look funny. It’s because you can’t say “WILD ZONE!” without the “!”

Now, this is a hard pill for me to swallow. I’ve spent years, nigh, decades alongside my siblings in our combined pursuit of OMG-Dad-you’re-so-embarrassing. Wild Zone is one of those things we “tolerated.” Almost like how we barely tolerate the super worn-out overalls he deems worthy of wearing in public. Except, the overalls are truly horrifying, and Wild Zone is actually pretty awesome. But of course, we couldn’t admit that.

Years and years ago, my dad invented a game. And then he had it made. Made. As in he professionally printed his card game. Then life got busy. Four kids and his profession and all other sorts of life responsibilities took precedence, and so the card games never got sold to stores. They wallowed in storage for a very long time. Then one day, his partner-in-crime decided it was pointless paying the storage fee for years on end, so boxes of card games arrived at our house. LOTS of boxes. An INCREDIBLE amount of boxes.

Wild zone storage

This is what’s left after a good 10 years of giving away games whenever possible.

Inside each box are 48 WILD ZONE!’s. We as a family played a lot of WILD ZONE!.

Wild Zone!

What a gem. Straight outta Zack Morris/Kelly Kapowski early 90’s perfection.

Did I mention we have a lot of boxes? Guess what my parents gave out to trick-or-treaters last year? Yep.

It’s a fast game, with simple math, and a whole lot of you snooze, you lose rivalry. If you can add up to 10, can tell the difference between red & blue, and have no problem stealing your own mother’s turn, then you can play.

When Nick and I lived in Hawai’i, my Dad snuck a box of these into our luggage, which we dispersed among friends. Many a get-together resulted in heated WILD ZONE! matches across our coffee table.

My dad named Nick the Vice President of International Sales and Distribution. Which means WILD ZONE FOR EVERYONE!

So, if you want a free card game, hit us up! This is prime Monday FHE material we’re talking about here. Though if you’re a local neighbor of mine, just wait a few weeks until neighborhood Christmas gifts start making their rounds. 🙂 Why didn’t I think of that years ago?


*Yes, my father owned a slew of scorpions for longer than I care to acknowledge. He kept them in a large fish tank on his bathroom counter. And he named them after his daughters’ ex-boyfriends. Except for the one he claimed was a member of a Mexican drug cartel. That one was named “El Jefe.”

**The mother of my childhood best friend once told me that she had always been super intimidated by my Dad. That she thought he was sorta scary. Then she declared, “But really, he’s just a big teddy bear, isn’t he?”



Etsy Shop for Beginners


My novel and query escapades took a rest today while I set out on a new adventure.  Today I opened my first Etsy shop.  I officially joined the artist, hippie, and vintage geekery empire.

It all started last Christmas.  To set the scene: I come from a family of amazing gift givers, like world-class, thoughtful, funny, perfect, inside-joke-but-still-super-useful-and-awesome gift givers.  Most especially my dad, who every year tops everyone else as the best gift giver of all of us in this gift-giving monarchy.  Last year was a prime year for giving my little (twin) sisters a great gift: they were both home from their 18 month church missions and were about to leave for college.  I wanted to get them something 1) cute, 2) super useful and practical, 3) unique, and 4) long-lasting.  After careful thought, I decided to get them a cosmetics bag organizer, since they’d be needing to haul their beauty crap in and out of the communal dorm bathroom every day. My requirements seemed simple enough: secure brush storage that would keep brushes clean and un-feathered, a big zippy pocket for all things not brush-stem-shaped, small zippy pocket for the little things you don’t want to dig for, easy travel, easy wash, hang-up-able for free counter space, and adorable.  After a thorough internet perusal, I decided I’d have to make my own.

Much to my surprise  expectations, they turned out really great!  As a matter of fact, I got a few requests for more.  So my mom and I set up shop in her sewing room and sewed a bunch of them.  Okay, truth be told, it took a lot longer than that last sentence implies.  Today I finally got them posted online.

I’m a shop owner, guys.  A real one.  Now I just need to pose for my Etsy profile photo: a “candid” of me in a fashion scarf, holding an eco-friendly white mug of green tea, with morning sunlight streaming through my hair– maybe then I could up my price by a solid ten percent.  And I’m going to need letter-pressed business cards.