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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How to make your own board game

Fresh off the heels of Christmas, here is a step-by-step guide to creating your own "opoly" for your family, friends, sorority, twitter buddies... the sky is the limit. My game is based mainly on location (Properties become more expensive as you move around the board and are personalized to the people that live in each area) but you can base yours on anything. All the property amounts remain the same and it is meant to be played exactly like Monopoly (except for a few fun twists on the Community Chest/Chance cards).

To see how the finished product comes together in awesome, please take a look at yesterday's post. To get cracking, here are the directions.


Note - all templates mentioned are at the bottom of this post. 

For the game pieces -
1) A Black Sharpie
2) A Metallic Sharpie (I used Silver)
3) A pack of small wooden circles (Mine were $3 from Michael's in the wood section)
4) .75" by .75" photos of every person who will be on a game piece 
5) Scissors

For the game board, box, and cards - 
1) Brand new Monopoly Game ($9 at Target)
2) Scrapbooking stickers (I used a travel themed scrapbooking set for $6 also from Michael's)
3) Raised Scrapbooking Varsity Letters (These were a $5 set in the Martha Stewart Collection from Michael's)
4) Printed panels, Community Chest/Card text, printed labels for the title cards, and printed location titles (nearly all provided as templates below)
5) Neutral-colored cardstock (for the sides of the box and a frame beneath the main board photo)
6) Photo of your entire family (or group) that's at least 4x6" printed on regular paper
7) Repositionable spray adhesive

For the money -
1) Photos you'd like to use of the family
2) Templates for money that I've provided
3) Computer paper and printer


To make the game pieces - 
1) Using a black sharpie, color one side and the edge of the wooden circle completely. Repeat for every game piece you intend to create.
2) Taking your .75" by .75" inch photo of someone, use the wooden circle to carefully cut the photo into a circle that will fit on top.
3) Use modge podge to glue to the photo to the un-sharpied side of the wooden circle.
4) Seal on top with another coat of modge podge.
5) If you desire, on the black sharpied side, use a metallic Sharpie to write each person's name. Once dry, modge podge that side to protect your text.

6) Repeat for every person you are making a game piece for.

To make the game box - 
1) Use spray adhesive to carefully affix your scrapbook paper or cardstock to the Monopoly box. The design is completely up to you. I used two pieces of scrapbook picture and added a chipboard "tag" that came with the scrapbook page set I bought.
2) Press on raised adhesive letter stickers to incidate the name of your game.

To make the monopoly money -
1) Use the templates at the end of the post as a starting point. Insert your own photos over them using Microsoft Word or another application.
2) Print in the denominations that correspond to the money that came with your monopoly set.
3) Cut all of the bills out (an exacto knife is very helpful here) then rubber band together for your game. 

To make the properties and railroads for the physical game board -
1) Create your own property spaces or customize my templates at the bottom of the post. You can use a location theme like I did or choose not to divide up the board at all. I would recommend keeping the monetary amounts the same as the ones in monopoly so you can play it according to those rules easily.

2) Print your spaces on regular computer paper and cut all of them out (preferably with an exacto... it'll make your life way easier).
3) Using spray adhesive, carefully adhere your spaces to the corresponding spots on the board.

To change the title cards to reflect your new properties and railroads on the board - 
1) Use my templates or create your own new title deed labels.
2) Print and cut out two copies of the labels (one for the front and back of each card).
3) Using spray adhesive, adhere the new title to the front and back of each title deed card - thereby covering up the old names for the properties. 

To change the Community Chest and Chance Cards (if you'd like to) - 
1) Templates are below if you'd like to do this. I did only about 9 cards, leaving the rest just as they are from the Monopoly game.
2) Print your new text and adhere it to your specific cards using spray adhesive.
3) Slide these revised cards in with the rest of the deck.

To further decorate the board - 
1) Using neutral cardstock, cut a rectangle that will cover the place where it says Monopoly on the game board and glue it down. (Spray adhesive did not work well with such big pieces).
2) Then glue your photo of your family/group in the middle of the rectangle, framing it in the middle of the board.
3) Use stickers or hand-write the name of your new game beneath the photo.

Last steps before you box it up again - 
Make sure you score (cut) lines in the middle of the family photo/the cardstock frame/any properties that run into the creases of the board. You want to be able to fold it so think about where the board naturally needs to break down and score lines in your new properties and the photo to make sure it can be folded down and reassembled.

And that's it! This project took me roughly 4-5 evenings to complete and I had a lovely little Franceschi helper who especially came in handy when cutting out all the money. Good luck on your own games! Hope they'll bring your family years of fun :)

Templates (text from my game included) -
Money Templates are below - click to view them actual size

Sizes for your own templates if you'd like to create them (all the templates above are sized properly):
Game Board Property, 2"x1.5"
Game Board Railroad, 2.5" by 1.5"
Title Deed Card Label (just covering the text with your new property name), .5" by 1.5"
Monopoly Money, 2.25" by 4"

Other resources:
Wikipedia on Monopoly (Complete with a layout to the current (2008) Edition of the game, complete with property amounts)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Craftiest Christmas Yet

After being inspired by Angela at a Bushel and a Peck a few weeks ago, I decided to make Gus's parents and family a board game personalized to their awesomeness. There are tons of kits to do this but of course, I dived in pretty much from scratch to make sure I had total DIY control over the look of everything. This, of course, was before I realized just how many bills are in the bank of Monopoly!

Today, the big reveal! Tomorrow, come back for the DIY tutorial, complete with all panel templates and instructions on how to customize your own little version of Monopoly. Enjoy and I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas!

The game board, customized with properties that were named after everyone in the family. Locations move from least expensive to most expensive, corresponding to where everyone lives in the country (except Firenze, which was a vacation spot)

A few select Community Chest cards are changed to have challenges to get that cash. Sadly, I didn't get to see anyone improvise a family song!

Wooden circles, printed photos, and little modge podge became excellent little game tokens - one for everybody (and two girlfriends, huzzah!)

All smiles from the parents. Hurray, a complete crafty success!

Now, what the heck will I do next year?

See you tomorrow when I'll give the lowdown on exactly how to do this project and create family board game fun for a lifetime.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Baked Oatmeal (in a pinch)

One of my friends from college makes a great baked oatmeal. It feeds tons of people and is super yummy topped with milk or ice cream. Never had baked oatmeal before? Boy, you have not lived until you have tried it. Imagine something the consistency of an oatmeal cookie topped with baked cinnamon and sugar - nom!

Here's the recipe from my friend (who got it from a friend of his). Be sure to size this down and note my awesome substitute for milk!

Krista's Baked Oatmeal (provided to me by M@)

1 1/4 C oil
2 1/2  C milk (or French vanilla ice cream which I subbed in a pinch)
2 Tbs cinnamon
2 1/2 C sugar (brown or white) (I like a mixture of both)
2 1/2 tsp salt
5 eggs (beaten)
7 1/2 C oatmeal (dry)
5 tsp baking powder 

Cream together sugar, oil, and eggs. Add oatmeal, baking powder, salt, milk and cinnamon. Put in 9 x 13 in pan that has been greased. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. ENJOY! 

I like to eat mine with ice cream... and apparently, bake it with ice cream too. Delish! Happy breakfast.  


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Annie - the award-winnning baker

I was hoping this day would come at some point in my life- the day I’d actually win an award for something I whipped up! Indeed, that day has come. Last week, I made my own spin on Bakerella’s cake pops – Mickey and Minnie Cake Pops – for our Charity Bake Sale. They turned out great and much to my delight, I was awarded a Golden Spoon (an amazing wooden spoon wonderfully spray-painted in gold) for “Best Candy.” Yeah, I still got it.

Anyway, here’s a brief rundown and the recipe if you’d like to make your own this holiday season!

Cake Balls are basically just cake mixed with frosting, rolled into balls, then dipped in chocolate. They are a staple of an amazing baker/blogger known as Bakerella. If you'd like more background on them, check out my earlier post- Cake Balls of Deliciousness.

If you'd like to make these scrumptious award-winnng Disney-themed pops, here's what you'll need:

For the cake and cake/frosting mixture  -
- Devil's food cake mix
- Eggs and vegetable oil (enough to bake the mix as normal)
- 1 can of Cream Cheese Frosting

For decorating the cake balls - 

- One box of Junior Mints
- Red heart sprinkles
- Wilton's (or any other brand) dark cocoa melting chocolate
- Lollipop sticks
- Red sugar sprinkles (optional)

For presentation - 
- A long foam block
- Gift wrap

1. Prepare cake as directed and allow to cool for at least an hour.
2. Crumble cake into fine particles with your hands into a large bowl.
3. Add an entire can of cream cheese frosting. Mix evenly.
4. Roll the mixture into small, 1 inch balls and place on wax paper. Refrigerate (overnight) if you can.

5. When you're ready to decorate, melt your melting chocolate in a deep bowl according to the directions on the package.
6. Dip the tip of each lollipop stick into the melted chocolate then straight down into the cake balls on your wax paper. You are making cake on a stick here, essentially.
7. Once you've completed that step and the melted chocolate on the stick has been able to set, use the lollipop stick to dip the cake ball into the chocolate. Tap the stick towards the top (towards the cake ball) to drip off excess chocolate.
8. Working VERY quickly, attach two Junior mints as the ears (be sure to press down a little bit into the chocolate/cake ball) then two red heart sprinkles sideways to form a Minnie bow (if you are making Minnie). The chocolate dries in a matter of seconds! If it sets before you can get the bows on (which happened to me several times), dip one side of the red heart sprinkles back in the chocolate and use it as glue to attach. Repeat the same for any ears that might fall off.
9. Allow to dry by stuffing the lollipop stick down into a large foam block. It should hold the pop in place when it dries. Repeat! Just one box of cake mix will literally make nearly 50 pops if you need em so get crackin.

10. To make the display, remove all the pops from the foam block and lay them on wax paper (as long as they have set, they will be fine for the time being).
11. Wrap the box in your chosen gift wrap (I used holiday theme). Then set the pops back down into the styrofoam - and voila, cake pop display!

Alternative: You can also cut out circular labels and poke a hole in the top and bottom for the pop to go through. Great for giving individual pops as gifts!

That's it for me today. Hope you have fun making your own cake pops! Good luck on getting your own golden utensils. I heart mine.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wacka wacka wacka

This year, Disney held a "decorate an ornament" silent auction. I barely got my baked goods ready in time for the bake sale on the same day so I wasn't going to participate. 

But then, inspiration struck/my desire to contribute overcame me. But what could I make with such limited supplies (sharpies, white out, file folders, and glue) on limited time (mere hours)? The answer was staring me plain in the face- what was the color of the ornament? None other than Fozzie Bear!

This lovely ornament was crafted from nothing other than a brown paper covered ornament, sharpies, white out, glue, and a dark brown file folder in less than two hours. Both the hat and the ears are simply cut outs from the file folder and glued to the top of the ornament. White out stood in for eye paint.

Fozzie faired well at auction and sold for $20 (the starting bid was $5!) Just goes to show you that sometimes inspiration comes when you least expect it and yields very creative and fruitful results.

Wacka, wacka.

A Few Updates

Ello friends. As we approach the holidays this week, I'd like to let you all know what to expect from Living with Annie and what awesome I have in store.

Today through Wednesday of this week, visit me for some fabulous LwA posts including a new super-cute recipe, exciting award-winning news, and more. This Thursday and Friday, due to traveling to Iowa and you know - Christmas - I will be away on vacation.

Be sure to check back in after Christmas. You don’t want to miss my posts that will finally show off all the creative little projects I did as gifts this year (complete with tutorials!). Post-Christmas, Living with Annie will be back, and better than ever, with new posts on Tuesday, Dec. 29.

Wishing everyone good luck on their last bits of shopping and, if you’re like me, on those massive project/presents you started and need to finish by Thursday!


Friday, December 18, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like a living room

Today, I'd like to share my apartment-in-development with you. It's not anywhere near fully decorated - it's bare bones with some lovely tealights thrown in to mask the fact that absolutely NOTHING is hanging from my walls yet.

Please take a look around my humble abode and let me know your ideas! In a few weeks, I'll be painting so I'm especially interested in your color ideas for scheme and paint choices. I'm kind of tired of the whole brown/light blue thing so it's definitely time for something new.









So yes, please chime in with your design ideas and inspiration! PS - How lovely is my Pottery Barn duvet? Looooove it.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Morning all

Good morning everyone! Not feeling too great today so my post will be brief. Please check back tomorrow for an exciting look at my Apartment Design plan of attack :)

Today, Slashfilm is featuring a lovely graphic detailing the "Morgan Freeman Chain of Command." Check it out if you have a few minutes - wonderfully clever.

Have a great Thursday!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thinking of You - Puzzle Photo Postcards

During the holidays this year, I’ve realized how tough it is to be away from family and friends. Currently, I’m living thousands of miles away from many people I love and this year is the first that I won’t be home for Christmas with them.

Even though I’m far away, I still want them to know I’m thinking about them. This got me thinking about a great project to share with all of you that I did in college when my friend Chrissy studied abroad in Scotland for a semester.

This is a wonderful, creative way to share some love across the miles (and oceans) if you are separated from anyone. Heck, it’s a pretty fun idea even if you live down the street from the person.

“Thinking of You” Puzzle Photo Postcards

Send your friend or family member a secret message, spelled out only when they’ve received all the postcards you’ve sent.


1)   Friend who is of some distance away from you
2)  3 additional friends who are somewhat flexible and have some time on their hands
3)  A camera (preferably digital)
4)  A way to print photographs
5)  4x6” cut piece of white cardstock (enough for every letter of your message)
6)  White glue or your preferred method of durable adhesive
7)  Appropriate amount of postage


1)   You will be forming letters out your and your friends’ bodies to form the entire alphabet (now you see why I said flexible!). We used three people to make letters. You’ll also need an additional person to stand from a high elevation (like a 2nd story of a building) to take photos of each letter as you form them.
2)  Carefully pose as each letter of the alphabet, making sure you have all 26. If you are daring, make a few punctuation marks. We made an exclamation mark and quotations. This process is extremely fun, btw.
3)  Choose what message you would like to send via postcards – we did, “We love you Chrissy!” Therefore, we had to print three 4x6” photos of the “O”, one of the “W,” etc. so we had enough to spell the message. You can print via your preferred method- we used Target.
4)  Using glue, attach each photo to a 4x6” piece of white cardstock.
5)  Draw a line on the white cardstock to indicate the space for your postcard message vis-à-vis the address you are sending it to/area for postage.
6)  Divide up the postcards between your group of friends or fill them all out yourself. Some of us wrote funny song lyrics, etc. – anything to let your recipient know you are thinking of them.
7)  Stagger when you mail out your postcards and make sure through the post office that you are using the right amount of postage. You may want to send your recipient one postcard first that explains you are sending a secret message and how many postcards to expect!

You can find a whole post on other DIY Photo Gifts here.

By the way, I'm entering this post in Today's Creative Blog Give-away...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oh Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel - I made you out of chocolate

Martha Stewart is without a doubt incredibly inspirational. While winging our way back from NC over Thanksgiving, I found this great idea of making dreidels from marshmallows and Hershey kisses.

I took a chance and surprised my group of 20-something friends with the dessert activity of making them. Would this group take to making the dreidels as a silly, more 6 year-old appropriate, dessert craft? You betcha.

And I quote one party-goer,
“the most fun I’ve ever had making dessert.”

Here’s how you can get your own Martha on this Hanukkah:

Ingredients –

1 can of chocolate frosting (your preference, I chose Milk Chocolate Whipped since it’s easy to spread and delish)
1 package of large marshmallows
1 package of pretzel sticks
1 package of Hershey Kisses (your preference, I went with the classic milk chocolate variety)
Strawberries (optional)

Directions – 

1) TAKE one marshmallow and apply frosting to the bottom of it.

2) ATTACH one Hershey kiss and attach its bottom to the frosting.

3) INSERT a pretzel stick down into the center of the marshmallow (to be the dreidel top).

4) EAT! Or…

5) COVER the entire thing in chocolate frosting. Then EAT!

6) Or… (you’re seeing now why this is a fun activity, right?) Instead of the Hershey kiss, attach a fresh strawberry, cover in chocolate, then EAT!

Ah, sweetness and something to do. That’s what I call a great craft. Thanks Martha. Happy fifth night of Hanukkah to all!

Check out my spiffy impromptu tealight menorah below. Not being able to find my real menorah was definitely a big inspiration here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Potato Pancake Perfection

Happy 4th night of Hanukkah tonight to everyone!

This weekend, Gus and I made delicious latkes (potato pancakes) for brunch and they were mucho yummy. I dare to say that they are perhaps the best latkes I've ever made or eaten! I'm especially proud because I concocted my own recipe AND managed to make them gluten-free. Huzzah, I am officially the coolest Hanukkah chef ever.

Anyway, without further adieu, here is how you can master amazing latkes with my official recipe! 

One short warning before you get started - frying these will make your house smell intensely like a restaurant and oil will penetrate everything! Literally, my bathroom towel smelled like latkes. I recommend keeping your windows open, running the fan, and saying a prayer or two. 

The best remedy for the smell ironically seemed to be cooking something different - in my case, ordering pizza soaked up everything well. I also think some vanilla candles helped. :)

- 2 cups frozen shredded potatoes (defrosted/thawed to room temp)
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoons of Gluten-free baking mix OR all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup of chopped yellow onions
- Vegetable oil
- Your seasoning preference amount of salt, black pepper, and garlic powder
- Scallions (optional)


COMBINE the potatoes, eggs, baking mix (or flour), onions, and your desired amounts of salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. I used a small sprinkling of each seasoning. 

HEAT a medium-sized skillet on medium-high heat with about 1/2 - 1 cup of oil. Use enough so there's is 1/4inch of oil covering the bottom of the skillet.

Once the oil is sufficiently hot enough, DROP a small spoonful of your potato mixture into the oil. Use a fork to press down on the patty and let it sit for 1-2 minutes (or until the side in the oil turns golden brown). FLIP the patty when ready and allow it to get golden on the other side.

REMOVE the potato pancake from the oil and allow to drain on paper towels.

TOP with a sprinkling of salt, a few chopped scallions, and serve warm. Nom!

Tune in tomorrow for a Hanukkah treat that has been deemed by a friend, "the most fun I've ever had making dessert!"

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