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Museum match

Has everyone tried the Google Arts and Culture app? We didn’t get any perfect matches, but it was fun to play with.


Magic Brothers

After school Thursday the boys put together a magic show for me.


See there’s nothing in the hat


I say the magic words and reach in…


Jack is reading a book he got for Christmas that rekindled his interest in magic.  He even asked the school librarian to help him find a non-fiction magic book during their weekly class library visit.  He has been practicing sleight of hand tricks, and trying to understand the “tricks” behind each act.  Sam will enthusiastically join Jack with whatsoever he is doing.  Together, their quantity and quality of tricks are increasing, and their flourishes improve too.

gob scarves

It’s only a matter of time, right?


3D Printing

I’ve been learning to use our 3D printer.  Ben has been the primary printer, but I wanted to be able to use it for my own projects.  He’s graciously led me through the process several times.  I don’t understand every aspect of printing – it has many parameters you can customize and many MANY things can go wrong.  But I feel like I have a grasp of the basics.  The first thing I practiced was a Wonder Woman tiara.


It was a basic, medium sized print using PLA in yellow.  I had some trouble with it splitting at the base, and played around with rafts a little.  I also tried various amounts of support material, until I found one I liked.


I ended up making three of them.  One for Amanda and one for me, plus one for Ben’s boss to finish and give his wife.


Here is the finished tiara after sanding, priming with leveling goo, and painting.  The tiaras go perfectly with the Wonder Woman shawl (the two together were a gift to Amanda, and I made myself a set too!).



Next I tried working with ABS.  True to Ben’s warning, this stuff stinks.  Literally.  Very strong chemical vapors while it printed.  It also is more prone to warping and layers not sticking properly.  I printed a set of Halloween pumpkins to practice.


The other interesting property of ABS is you can smooth the ridges between each layer by immersing it in acetone vapors.  I took advantage of the chemistry set on loan from my mom for our Mad Scientist halloween get-up.  I gently heated pure acetone in a beaker to create thick vapor, floating the pumpkins on a foil sheet and covered loosely with foil.  If the acetone touches the ABS it will get tacky, chalky, and lose definition.  Here’s a picture of the set up, btw my fire extinguisher is on the other side of the counter.  I was very nervous about this process.


Here’s a side-by-side of two pumpkins, the shiny one on the left had the acetone bath, the rough one on the right is straight off the printer.


3D printing is fun and addicting, but it’s good to recognize its limits.  I really wanted a brain for our Mad Scientist Lab.  I scoured thingiverse for a brain file I could manage.  They were all dense – using nearly a whole roll of filament, not to mention would be riddled with supports and need a lot of finished.  After a week of hemming and hawing I had an epiphany.


Use cheap, old-fashioned clay I already happened to have in my craft storage.  Duh.


Behold: Old-Timey 3D Printing.

During December I kept busy with knitting full-time.  In the week between Christmas and Ben’s birthday I continued the frenzy, knitting him a fair-isle hat. (I still intend to post a knitting round-up soon).  After the hat, I saw on reddit someone had made a dice tower out of wood.  I had never heard of such a thing.  A dice tower would be perfect for Ben!  He loves gaming and we are teaching the boys to play.  Not only would this curb Jack’s attempts to control his dice rolls, but it would prevent both his and Sam’s tendency to let die scatter onto the floor.

I wondered if I could 3D print that.  A quick search on thingiverse yielded a plethora of files of various designs.  I chose one that looked castle-like, was fairly tall, and had a cool gate.  The gate prints flat in one piece with the tower, printing its own hinge that you can snap up afterward.  This was the first time I printed an object completely by myself.  I only checked in with Ben on the size parameters of our print space and the amount of filament it would take.

I didn’t take any pictures of the process, but in hindsight I should have. I printed the file with no supports, as suggested by others who had done it.  It was an 18 hour print job.  I hadn’t printed anything in a few months.  Despite all those potential issues, it printed BEAUTIFULLY!  Voila!


(Jack insisted the castle needed a knight.)

It’s pretty cool, right?   I used glow-in-the-dark filament because that was the largest spool of PLA I had lying around.  I decided to paint it without sanding or ridge filler. The randomizer is a spiral staircase that runs down the whole tower.  You can see it through the arrowslits.


Here’s a close-up where you can see the stairs meet prison bars to the dungeon.  There’s a little burn spot on the stairs you can see.  I decided painting the interior would be a huge pain, so that will remain glow-in-the-dark.  Needless to say, the boys (including Ben) all think this is SUPER cool.


Ben’s Birthday

Ben had a fun little birthday at home.  Special breakfast and presents to start the day.  Friends and games and cake in the afternoon.  What more could you want?



I have to show off my Baked Alaska I made.  Ben has been wanting a Baked Alaska for years.  I followed the Cook’s Illustrated method, modified for scooping out ice cream from a 1/2 gallon tub rather than using two pints put together.  Not too difficult!


Happy Birthday Ben!

More Christmas pictures

It was a beautiful Christmas. There were tracks in the snow on the ground in the morning that Jack is convinced came from Santa’s reindeer. We had many wonderful presents from many generous family, and the boys were grateful and thrilled with all of their wonders.

Merry merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Pictures from the 23rd (with a surprise snow fall!) and the 24th.

Christmas Vacation is off with a jolly start

We woke on Thursday with no school and snow dusting the ground.  It fell in beautiful crystals.


We took the kids to Hammond’s Candy Factory for a tour and to try their sweets.


(Sam looks tired, but he had a great time too – it just doesn’t show in the pictures).

That night Jack had his first belt testing.  It was a long time for the boys to sit quietly (two hours) but they did very well.  Jack seemed like the top of his belt class to us 😉  He had strong form and was quick to obey commands. While waiting for scores to be tallied Jack gave his brother some pointers.  We will get scores at his next class after Christmas, fingers crossed that he earned his gold belt.



Today we had a sitter come mid-day so Ben and I could do some last minute shopping.  We had a pleasant lunch together, the stores were abustle and our tree is now positively brimming.  I executed the fastest Fancy Tiger visit possible, perhaps ten minutes only.  I was getting some yarn to make Ben a birthday hat.  I must really love to knit.  After Christmas I’ll post pictures of the products of my holiday knit-a-thon.  I’ve done five projects since October 21st.  According to my ravelry notes, and estimating the times I had to re-work the project, I’ve knit approximately 4,092 yards.  That’s equal to 2.325 MILES of yarn.

The Grandparents Masons arrived this afternoon, successfully slipping through the mountains between snow storms.  The boys had their usual fun scurrying around the house with them, showing off and enjoying treats and trinkets.

This evening Amanda came up to share presents before leaving for London.  We had Chinese food a couple days early and watched the Muppet Family Christmas Special.

Have you seen the Potter Puppet Pals on youtube?  Amanda showed it to the boys earlier this year.  They giggled to no end and sang the song for weeks.  She amazed them today by gifting a box of replica puppets she had made.


They are lucky nephews indeed!

Dragon’s Breath

We took the boys up to Flatirons Mall for lunch, dino-land playtime, and to soak up some Holiday Cheer.  On our way out we passed by an intriguing cart selling “Nitro Dragon Breath.”  They explained that this was a Korean cracker cooked in liquid nitrogen that tastes sort of like Cap’n Crunch.  We got a cupful to share and it was super fun!


Not exactly tasty (we skipped the optional dipping sauces), but totally worth $7 for some fun!

Nativity Angels

Tonight our church Christmas party had a formal take on the word “party.”  After visiting Santa at 5:30 (Sam was too shy), late dinner at 6:45, then finally a Nativity program at 7:40.  As you can imagine, the kids were fairly DONE.  But my boys mustered their strength to perform.

Jack received much praise for singing well and dealing with his brother in a very patient and kind manner.  Sam received much praise for standing up with the kids in front of all those people, and for keeping his clothes on.

It was rather late at the end, so we had to grab our dessert to go.  I snagged one of the cupcakes I had contributed. We gobbled our treats, lit the menorah, opened Hanukkah socks, and chucked the kids in bed.


It’s 9pm and the kids are singing Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel loudly, clearly not going to sleep any time soon.  Hoo boy, Christmas excitement is high in the Mason home.

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