Pop’s Top 10: Our Favorite Posts of 2021

12 month 46 hour library 4Wow wowzers wowie WOW are we looking forward to turning the page to 2022! But before we put a lid on 2021, we thought we would revisit some of our favorite posts! Here they are, in no particular order, our Top 10 posts of 2021!

#1 TOTALLY RANDOM


Never in a million years did I think a recycled pasta box would go viral, but this was one of our most popular projects! It’s a simple writing prompt machine, inspired by an arcade claw machine from summer vacations past.

#2 LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND NOBLE


Medieval Vogue front 1

Katie and I had a good time revisiting this fashion-parody-but-it’s-actually-historically-factual magazine. Medieval Vogue was part of a massive 2012 Robin Hood event. You can read more about the event fun here.

#3 DESTINATION: SLEEPY HOLLOW


It’s not everyday you get to check a box on the life list! Visiting Sleepy Hollow, NY has been something I’ve always dreamed of….and our 2021 trip will always be something to remember.

#4 BRINGING LITERATURE TO LIFE


Katie was delighted to interview Australian blogger Bryton Taylor, whose amazing literary parties and original recipes give us much inspiration!

#5 LITERARY AMUSEMENT PARK RIDES


moby dick ride_2

A Top 10 list in a Top 10 list? We couldn’t resist including this one because it was pure joy to research.

#6 FLOWERS FOR FERDINAND


In addition to featuring one of Katie’s favorite picture books, this post was full of hope, spring, and a fantastic wildflower identification app!

#7 FROM FOLKLORE TO FANTASY


Co-hosted with Vineet Chander from Princeton University’s Office of Religious Life, Hindu Life Program, this live Zoom webinar with talented authors Sanyantani DasGupta and Roshani Chokshi was just magical. And the Q&A with the kids was epic! You can find the entire event here.

#8 SPLASHY SPELLING


This one made the list because it was almost a huge fail and it turned my hand pink. Yes, PINK! Though I ultimately managed to produce a cute bath time spelling craft, my digits were blush for days!

#9 PUPPY POST


more puppy post 1Of course we’re going to include the post that introduced Finley, the newest addition to Katie’s family! Look at him, rocking that doggie delivery mailbox! Awwwww!

#10 THE 12 MONTH, 46 HOUR LIBRARY


12 month 46 hour library 4 Otherwise known as the craft kit that almost took Katie down. It might have taken a year, but now we have an adorable physical representation of Katie’s persistence and perseverance (and just look at that cute library ladder)!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! HERE’S TO 2022!

A Piranesi-Inspired Picnic

No need for a basket, this little picnic folds right up into a book! Unfurl your picnic blanket, pull your food from the built-in pockets, and you have yourself a feast with friends!

The inspiration for this project comes from a rather unusual source – a Princeton University Library Special Collections exhibit entitled “Piranesi on the Page.” It details the work of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, the foremost printmaker in 18th-century Europe. Originally seeking to be an architect, Piranesi eventually turned to printmaking and experimented with the architecture of books, innovating on the concept of what a book can be.

An example of this is Ichographia, Campo Marzio dell’antica Roma, created in Rome in 1762. Below you can see a huge map of the Campo Marzio, the ancient district of Rome used as a military training ground.

But what you can’t see at first glance is that this map is also part of a book! The photo was difficult to capture what we me crouching, the low lighting, and a highly reflective case, but hopefully you can see the open book below and how the map extends from it!

Amazing, right? It got me thinking of a huge page unfolding from a book…maps…the great outdoors…picnics…picnic blankets…aha! Today, we bring you…the picnic book!

You’ll need:

  • 1 sheet of posterboard
  • Wrapping paper
  • 1 craft tie or pipe cleaner
  • A set of picnic set templates, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ cardstock
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

First, prepare the cover of your book. Fold an 11″ x 36″ piece of posterboard in half to create a cover, then tape or glue two, 4.5″ x 7.5″ pockets to the inside.

Now for the picnic blanket page! Begin with a 25″ x 31.5″ piece of wrapping paper, laid out flat, design side up…

Fold the right and left sides of the wrapping paper inwards, meeting in the center (apologies for the masking tape rolls…the wrapping paper wouldn’t stay flat for the photo!).

Next fold the top and bottom upwards and downwards, meeting in the center.

Finally, fold the wrapping paper in half, to the right, so it fits inside the book’s cover like a page…

To attach the page to the book cover, use scissors to cut 2 small slits, each about 1″ from the top and bottom of the cover. Make sure to cut through both the cover and the pages!

Now unfold the picnic page, located the slits, and thread the ends of a craft tie or pipe cleaner through both.

Refold the picnic page, close the cover, and locate the two ends of the craft tie. Tab them sharply to the spine of the book cover, and reinforce the connection with tape.

Print as many picnic place settings as you would like from the template, then color and cut them out. Slide them into the pockets of your book.

Add a title to the front of your book, tuck it under you arm, and head out for a picnic with your favorite friends or stuffed animals!

If you’re feeling extra creative and Piranesi-inspired, instead of having a picnic blanket with a wrapping paper design, flip it over to the blank side and draw a map leading to your favorite picnic spot or literary landscape!

The 12 Month, 46 Hour Library

When Katie saw this DIY miniature library online, she  was entranced. It’s perfectly adorable with its tiny little books and knick knacks on the bookshelves and darling framed pictures and actual working chandelier with four lights. But she did NOT love the lengthy process of constructing it. It took 46 hours. 46 HOURS. Katie, share with us your epic journey…


I built the Rolifé DIY Miniature House: Sam’s Study (DG102), which can be purchased on the Rolifé website for $47.99. There is another company, Hands Craft, that makes a similar, if not identical kit. You can purchase their version of Sam’s Study on Amazon for $35.85. There is an age suggestion of 14+.

The kit arrives with a multitude of wood, fabric, and paper parts and pieces to construct the library, as well as small bottles of white latex and liquid glue, tweezers, white paint and a small paint brush. You will need to have a few additional tools to help with the construction: a ruler with millimeters, scissors, needle nose pliers, screwdriver, pencil and a binder clip.

I also highly suggest having a glue stick, another option of super glue (I used Krazy glue with an applicator brush), and a pair of small sharp scissors (I bought a pair of 4.5 inch nano detail scissors). Even though the kit claims batteries are included, you may need to purchase a pair of CR2032 Lithium 3V batteries for the chandelier.

There is an instruction manual packed with photographs and detailed steps to create the miniature library. I followed the manual very closely, making sure I had the correct pieces for each of the cabinets by using the included part number illustration paper.

So many pieces! So much glue! Oftentimes I had to be creative with figuring out ways to assist the various parts to hold together as the glue dried. Elastic hair bands for the win!
When I reached the section to build the sofa – it’s actually a wingback armchair – I was riding a wave of confidence. I had put together six dressers, cabinets, and bookshelves and a ladder without much difficulty.

The petite handles for the doors and drawers were a challenge, but I was able to create them. Surely I could make an armchair.

Surely not.

I created one side of the armchair and my fingers were so completely covered in glue, I was forced to give up. I couldn’t pick up the red fabric or the bottle of glue without it being nearly impossible to put back down. Defeated, I set aside the armchair.

My next challenge was cutting, folding and pasting the roughly 130 paper books, boxes and paintings that fill the shelves and walls of the bookstore. I started snipping with my 9 inch pair of scissors, and it didn’t take me long to realize I needed a much smaller pair in order to save time and my sanity. I was able to cut through the paper much faster with the 4.5 inch scissors, but it took a while to fold the little books and boxes and glue them all together. I used the glue stick and a q-tip to apply glue to the narrow paper edges, which greatly helped speed up the process.

The pièce de résistance was constructing the walls and floor of the bookstore, as well as creating the realistic chandelier that provided the gentle glowing light. The bookstore was relatively easy. The chandelier was complicated. And frustrating. And it nearly didn’t happen because I almost ran out of wire necessary to provide electricity to the bulbs.

Despite trying to be very careful while cutting and stringing the fragile wires, I cut some and broke others. It took many long hours (and the utterance of many bad words) to bring the light to life. I can fully understand why some who left online reviews of the kit simply gave up on the chandelier. Trust me, I almost did.

finished walls and light 2I was just about ready to furbish the bookstore, but I still had to finish the wing back armchair. The various bits and pieces of the chair were ready to go, but I was not looking forward to the actual construction. Begrudgingly, I used every last bit of my dogged patience to put the chair together. It’s not pretty, in fact it’s far from perfect. One side of the chair is slightly taller than the other and there are many areas of the wood frame showing through the red cloth, but I finished it.

Now came the fun part – decorating! The instruction manual had generic photos showing where the furniture needed to go, but you can decide where the books and decorations go. There were many times I needed to use the provided tweezers to glue a tiny framed picture on the wall next to a bookshelf, place a minuscule pamphlet in a specific area, or put the bitty silver coffee mug on top of a book. After all of the irritation I had while building the kit, decorating the bookstore was quite cathartic.

The miniature library is amazing. There are so many charming little touches and details that you could stare at it for hours. Even the red wing back armchair, in all its misshapen glory, looks fantastic nestled in the corner with a pile of books resting on the seat.

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Dr. Dana and I had a bet as to how long it was going to take me to finish the library. She said 25 hours, I guessed it would take much longer. I was right – it took nearly 46 hours.
Now that I am done putting the kit together, I think it is safe to say that I completely overestimated my technical crafting abilities when manipulating small parts and pieces. It is also safe for me to say that I will try to avoid doing another one of these types of projects in the future. I would recommend it for adults who have tremendous patience and dedication to lengthy projects.

May the teeny-tiny crafting kit odds be ever in your favor.