It’s Here! it’s Here!

Oh, happy day, I got the scrapbooking tool of my dreams! It showed up at my door pretending to be a cardboard box.  I opened up that box and there it was in its plastic covered glory. I bought myself a We R Memory Keepers Photo Sleeve Fuse which have just become available in stores. I am pretty busy these days but I kind of want to clear my schedule and play for a day.

Photo Sleeve Fuse Tool | Melanie Ritchie

So, what does this handy tool do, you ask? It is a burn tool that lets you seal off memorabilia and journal cards in page protectors. You can custom make your pockets  in the protectors. If you’re not a scrapbooker, just nod encouragingly, ok? If you ARE a scrapbooker (particularly of the pocket page/project life variety) you’ll understand WHY this is such a big deal.

I am looking to using this project because:

  • I won’t have to stress over how my portrait or landscape photos are going to fit  on the same page. As in, it used to be impossible.
  • I can use odd sized papers.
  • I can totally seal off sections. A locket of my daughter’s first curl. Sequins.
  • SEQUINS. Yes, I plan to fill pockets with pretty sequins and things that appear suspended in mid-air. It will be lovely.
  • I can seal off a bit of the top or side of open pockets where the paper or photo is always slipping out.

Freakin’ genius technology that is going to make this girl smile from ear to ear when she finally sits down at that craft table (eyeing it longingly right now).

That’s all for now. I’ll post again soon with a full report on the awesomeness of this tool.


Mail from Japan! xoxo

The doorbell rang. It was the postman with a package sent all the way from Japan. Ooooooh, what IS it? Why I wouldn’t remember what it was is a bit confusing to me, but I’ve been rather flustered lately so I let it go. A couple weeks ago in a moment of self-indulgence, I ordered washi tape. I’m sure Maslow would have rated it as quite important in his “hierachy of needs”, right? Sure.

So, this wasn’t just any tape. This is SHINZI KATOH tape! Yeah, I know, pretty cool, right?

Ok, I’ll fill you in. Shinzi Katoh is an artist from Japan. He’s illustrated children’s books, is a fine artist, and a surface pattern designer for many different types of goods. Last year when I was at the World Showcase in Epcot, I saw a huge selection of his products being sold at the Japan Pavilion. Bags, cards, note paper, calendars, but NO washi tape. That is what I really wanted.

For some reason, a couple weeks ago I decided to google his name and found out I can buy directly from his online shop in Japan. All sorts of lovely stuff for sale.

This is what I bought for myself . Happy Valentine’s Day to me!

My Shinzi Katoh Washi Tape by Melanie Ritchie

Here is the whole assortment. Yes, I splurged! I got a 5-pack of thin tapes. I can’t wait to try those out.
In case you’re admiring the items behind the tape, I’ll explain. I like to tape things. Next to my super awesome Barbapapa mug is a pencil holder I got from the union where I used to work. It was kind of ugly but very functional. So one day I covered it in washi tape and added a sticker. Next to that container are three Tetley tea containers. Once I drank all the tea, I rinsed and dried them. Then I covered one in mac & cheese duct tape, another in rainbow washi tape (that reminds me of 1985), and another with valentines tape. See, I NEED washi tape! Who knows what I’ll tape next!
My Shinzi Katoh Washi Tape by Melanie Ritchie

I bought a set of 3 Christmas themed tapes. Shinzi Katoh has such a unique and whimsical style. The one with the monkey and banana on it can be seen here. It has safari animals on it. The tape is made from banana trees after harvest in Zambia. It’s a fair trade paper helping to give jobs to people in Zambia and to prevent deforestation and animal extinction. I like that!

My Shinzi Katoh Washi Tape by Melanie Ritchie
I love all of these tapes but I have a soft spot for anything with phrases on it like the tape on the bottom right. I had stationery and t-shirts like this when I lived in Japan. They always made me laugh with their randomness.

Well, that’s what I’m sharing today! Have a great day!

Exploration and TMI?

Admit it, your curiosity is totally piqued. Why doesn’t curiosity have a “u” in it? I won’t be answering that question in this post.

Really, I just want to talk about plans for 2015.

I jumped on the One Little Word bandwagon again this year. My first year I chose the word “Authentic”. I was struggling with being myself and caring too much about whether others accepted me. It was the right word to play around with for 2013. Last year, I chose the word “Release”. I didn’t do most of the monthly assignments. My goal was to accept being “imperfect” and not feel I had to say yes to everything. It was a year to accept that things change and time moves on. Honestly, starting 2015 I do feel I’ve let go of a lot of baggage and expectations. Maybe a month ago I came up with my word for 2015. I had no plans for taking the OLW class. Then last week, I thought “what the heck, why not?” and signed up.

My word? Are you ready? It is EXPLORE. Yes, this is my year for trying out new things and seeing what works and what doesn’t. It’s my year for deciding what I like doing the best and then actively pursuing it.

What does that mean for you, dear blog reader? It means, you’ll get small doses of different types of content. One of the areas I want to focus on is my blog. I want to see what I like writing about and what I like creating. Expect to see my journey documented here. That’s where the TMI comes into play. Maybe it is just too much info that you don’t care for when I share my favourite body wash with you. Or maybe you’re just not into the wonders of gouache. Who knows, maybe I’m not either. Let’s find out together!

So with that, I will share three products I’m in love with at the moment. No, I didn’t receive them for free and the companies have no idea I care. Just sharing for the sake of “exploration”.

1. Satsuma body wash by Body Shop. So my day goes like this: Get up, drink coffee, get kids ready for school (yes, coffee comes first), freeze outside in the cold at the bus stop, come home and hop into the HOT shower. I treated myself to a bottle of this awesomely smelling body wash during Black Friday sales. It reminds me of junior high when The Body Shop was the “IT” place to shop. Back then I’d spend my allowance on lip balm and a bar of soap. I wish they still made Raspberry Ripple bubble bath.


2. Pureness Balancing Softener by Shiseido. So I get out of the shower feeling all blissful and relaxed and smelling of an orange grove. Then I slap a little toner on my face. In the winter my face gets dry and itchy, especially after I wash it.I don’t care for the feel of anything on my face like heavy moisturizers (or makeup for that matter). I bought this product in the summer when they had an awesome sale. It is amazing stuff. A little bit goes a long way and my face feels soft and perfectly balanced. I can only tell I have something on my face because my skin feels good. Nothing more.

shiseido pureness softener


3. Fairy Godmother Soap by Lush. So in the evening I sometimes have a bath to relax my weary bones and calm my anxious nature. I like candy and even better than that, I like smelling like candy. This soap doesn’t dry out my skin like other soap can. Just plain delightful, it is. I received it as a gift and I love, love, love it.

Fairy Godmother Soap by LushI’d love to hear what body product you love and why. Hook me up in the comments.

Are you participating in One Little Word? What’s your word? I’d love to hear it.

Did you love playing board games as a kid?

I did and I still do. I have so many good memories of them. Well, except for the game “Aggravation”. I detest that game. I won’t even go into it. Recently, I received a copy of “Monopoly Junior” from Hasbro because I am a reviewer/tester for Influenster. I don’t like blathering on too much about promotional products I receive but I was asked to talk about which game I loved as a kid. That type of question is right up my alley. I thought it would make a good scrapbook layout, which I will soon make. In the meantime, I thought a blog post might be fun too.

First, I had to see which games are made by Hasbro. Luckily, they make a lot of the games I loved as a kid.

Here are my memories of some of their games. Maybe this will give you some Christmas list ideas!

1. Chutes & Ladders. This is one of the first games I remember playing. My grandparents owned a copy and kept it in their coffee table in the basement. It was such an awesome mid-century modern piece of furniture. Not that I thought so at the time. Then it was just a place to hold board games and crossword puzzles. I liked Chutes & Ladders because it makes me think of my Grandma because she was really good about playing games with us (me, my sister, and my two cousins). I didn’t like the snakes though. 1. They scared me. 2. They make you lose!

2. Candy Land. I loved Candy Land! I remember playing it at a classmate’s house in kindergarten. Yummy candy pictures all over the board. My imagination loved it. It is a great “first” board game as you don’t need to know how to read. Very simple to play. Fun, bright colours. Perfect for 3-5 years of age. By six, I remember thinking it was pretty boring.

3. Operation. I got this for Christmas one year. I LOVED IT SO MUCH! It appealed to my love of small tiny pieces and electronics. I didn’t really like the buzzing noise because I startled easily. I did love the little tweezers and picking out the little body parts out of the poor guy’s body. Super fun game! Also great because a kid can play it by themselves or with friends. Nowadays, they have themed versions. My son has a Tow Mater version. I’ve seen a Buzz Lightyear one too.

4. Hungry Hungry Hippos. The game kids love and parents love to hate. It’s loud, obnoxious, and WAY too much fun! Oh man, that was an awesome game! I loved playing it with my sister and cousins. Bang,  bang, bang! There is something so rewarding about getting your prettily coloured hippo to eat all those balls up before anyone else has a chance. I love how the mouth extends. Snap, snap, snap! My kids love it too. However, I’ve noticed the marbles are now made of plastic and I think it affects how easily the balls are eaten. Something about the weight of the marbles. Maybe that’s just me.

5. Connect 4. I think this might have been my sister’s game. Oooh, I love that game! This is one of those games that never gets old. I like playing it with my kids. I like games where I can put things in a row or make patterns. It’s a great introduction to strategy games. My six year old is learning how to play it properly. Earlier than six, kids like to place the tokens but they don’t play it with rules. This game is also now available in lots of themes. I saw a My Little Pony version recently. Don’t tell my daughter!

6. Memory. I remember playing that on Christmas with my cousins. I’m all about memory matching. Again, I like looking for patterns. Memory games are fun and very educational. It’s a great beginner game but big kids like it too. When I was young, there was just one generic game. Now it comes in nearly a million (slight exaggeration) different versions. Name a character you like and there is probably a Memory game available. We have a Christmas Disney version that I bring out every December. It is a very affordable game and you can keep it simple (only play with a few matches) or make it more challenging using all the pieces. I played this game a lot in Japan with my young students.

7. Perfection.  My sister had this game. I had a love/hate relationship with it. I loved playing with the pieces and putting them in their correct places but I HATE being startled. It gave me anxiety to race against the clock to get all the pieces in place before the pieces all flew up towards me. Almost as scary as a jack-in-the-box. Both are fascinating and terrifying all at the same time. Funny thing. My son has this game and he is like me. He insists we keep the timer turned off. He just wants to put the pieces in their correct spots without being startled. I’d say this game is good for ages 4 and up.

8. Twister. This game always feels so retro. I think it did even when I was a kid. It’s fun for a bit. Good for sleepovers and birthday parties, if I recall correctly.

9. Yahtzee. This was another game my grandparents had in their coffee table. I never liked the brown/orange/yellow box it came in. I overdosed on those colours in the 1970s. Aside from that, it was mostly fun. Part of my issue as a child, was that I had bit of a short attention span. Also, I’m not overly fond of numbers, especially odd ones. Yahtzee is all about numbers. It’s like a card game but with dice. My favourite part was shaking them in the cup and rolling them onto the table. I also liked saying “YAHTZEE!” Last year I bought a PacMan Yahtzee for my husband at Christmas. It is awesome. The cup to hold the dice is actually a big PacMan head. How cool is that? They have all sorts of themed versions now. It’s a good game for older kids. My 6 year old played with us last week but she got bored after a few rolls. Maybe when she is 7 or 8 she’ll be more into it.

10. Trouble. Sorry. Games that are named after a negative word aren’t fun. Did I mention the game “Aggravation”? It’s like “Trouble” and “Sorry”. They’re all games where I get frustrated and lose. Every. Time. But hey, don’t let that stop you… the rest of my family LOVES these games. Maybe cuz, they, uh, always win? Maybe you will too.

11. Battleship. When I hear this game mentioned, I always want to say “You sunk my battleship!” Always. I have strong memories of this game. I am very tactile and visual. I loved the ship pieces and the little pegs. I liked the blue board the pieces stuck into. Oooh, pretty. As a kid, I had a hard time playing the game and I couldn’t sit still for the whole game. However, I think it is a great game. Especially for rainy days and snowstorms. I’ll buy it for my kids if they ever show an interest.

12. Clue. Another awesome game! I think I got this when I was around 10 or 11 for Christmas. I can vividly remember sitting on our living room floor playing for the entire visit with my cousins. We were obsessed with it. I love the mystery aspect of it. It’s like a logic problem. I loved the board with all the different rooms on it, and all the characters and weapon pieces. The only downfall was that I played it SO much, it got old. Really fun game!

7. Scrabble. If you could only ever have one board game, I would pick this one. That’s all I have to say about that.

8. Monopoly. This was a game I played with my parents and sister on weekends when I was young. It would take all day. Maybe all weekend. I’d quit long before they were finished. I was the youngest so I’d get frustrated when they all understood the rules better than I did. It is a hard game to grasp when you’re little. That’s why I really love the Monopoly Junior version that is meant for younger kids. Now that I’m older I love Monopoly. I have a Coca-Cola version and a Rudolph version.

9. Trivial Pursuit. I remember the year this game was released. It was so popular. All the parents of my friends were having Trivial Pursuit parties. My family would play it at holiday gatherings. The kids would play too but we’d probably only get a rare question correct. Luckily now there are so many versions, any age group can play. My husband will probably always win though. He has a lot of knowledge in his noggin’.

10. Scattergories. This is a game I tend to win. I’m good at coming up with words for categories. I like that the game doesn’t really repeat itself. It’s great for big groups and parties. I hope to play it with my whole family at Christmas when the kids are older. That was one of the things I loved most about getting together with family at holidays when I was a kid. We’d all sit around the cleared dining room table and play cards or board games. Anyone could join in. I liked it best when we played a board game as I wasn’t the best at cards.

So, for a little added fun, I went and found some slides to go along with this post.


The top photo is great because it shows several things: 1. My Grandma playing a game with us. 2. The classmate I played CandyLand with on a different occasion, and 3. the living room looks exactly the way it does in my memory when I played Clue at Christmas with my cousins.

The bottom photo is of my dog playing Connect Four.

The middle photo is of me playing with my gum. It has nothing to do with board games but isn’t it funny?

What was your favourite board game as a kid?

“Game Night” with Monopoly Junior

Today, we had “game night” except that it was actually 2pm. Details, details.

Last week I got an email from Influenster asking me to check my mail. On Friday, I opened my mailbox to find a copy of Monopoly Jr. courtesy of Hasbro. As part of their social media campaign, I’ve been asked to test out and review their product.

First thing I did? I yelled “Kids, we got something in the mail!” and let them open the box. They were pretty excited and didn’t even stop to ask why we got a board game in the mail. They were immediately drawn to the little plastic tokens. I agreed they could hold them but advised them not to lose the pieces. My daughter took the orange cat and black dog. My son took the blue boat and green car. I told them they’d have to wait until Sunday to play the game.


As promised, we set up the game today in our basement where we now keep all the toys and play area. It’s a work in progress. Or should I say “mess in progress”. Anyway, here is what I thought about the game.

1. As much as I love board games and playing with my kids, I have childhood memories of Monopoly being the neverending game. I had a moment of dread wondering just how long this game would take. I had meals to make.

2. When we opened the box, there were two sheets of cardboard with pictures of the token animals. Each had to be punched out. No problem for us, as my daughter was thrilled to do it. I opened the cards and placed them on the chance spot. I read the instructions but was distracted with questions from the kids. So, I missed the part that said the game starts by having everyone pick a card to determine which token piece they get. I hadn’t realized there were cards like that and had put them in with the chance cards. Which was just as well as the kids already knew which character token they wanted. Except my son had already lost the blue boat token. Oops! Later when playing the game, I picked up a chance card only to discover it was all in french. Again, I realized I hadn’t been careful and had put all the chance cards together. There was one pack of french and one of english. Oops! It was fine as my husband could read it. It pays to read your instructions carefully.

3. The board is a very simplified version of the regular Monopoly. The board itself is smaller. There are fewer properties. Every property is part of a colour pair and both properties have the same value.  The properties have fun names. When you buy a property, you place a cardboard piece with your token picture on it (ex. orange cat) at the top of the property. When you land on someone’s property, rent is the same cost as the purchase price. If they own both properties, you pay double. There are no utility spots. There is no community chest but there are chance cards. There are no houses or hotels.

I appreciated the simplicity as the kids were easily able to follow the rules. My kids are 4 and 6 and had no problems.


3. The game was engaging. Although, my daughter still had to get up every now and then to perform some dance steps and show us her socks. “Yes, I see your socks. Yes, they are ‘My Little Pony’. Yes, I like them. Please roll, it’s your turn.”

4. The truth? My kids were most interested in taking turns being the banker. I have no idea why that was so fascinating to them. My son was really proud of it. “See Mom, I am really good at this. I’m a good banker.”

5. Anything lacking in the game? My husband was concerned about the kids shifting the board and it being unclear which properties were owned by whom. I said that is pretty standard issue for any board game played by kids. He said it would be helpful if players were to hold onto property cards in addition to the little cardboard piece on the property, just in case the pieces were shifted. I agreed that would be better.

6. We didn’t quite make it to the end. The game was going pretty quickly but my son decided it was time to play another game and my daughter was dancing around a lot between turns, so my husband and I shared a glance that said “yup, that was good” and we finished up. I went to make supper and he played a different game with the kids.

All in all, I’d say that was a very successful game. We’ll definitely play it again and again. I think it is a great way to introduce your kids to Monopoly. I have a Coca Cola version, and a Rudolph version of Monopoly that I hope to play when the kids are older. Until then, I think we’ll get a lot of use out of this one.

Thanks Hasbro! Thanks Influenster!