CategoryJust for Fun

Summer Flowers 2017

I usually share my gardening adventures each summer. Here’s a peek at this year’s flowers.

Since we went on vacation at the beginning of summer, I held off on planting until mid-June. It was hard to wait, but important. Because I waited, I didn’t get any pansies this year. I mostly found petunias when it was time to shop. They are always a nice pop of color, though.

Things are a little behind where they’d normally be, but they will be beautiful by the end of summer. I’ll enjoy them along the way.

I started my flowerbed almost ten years ago with some plants shared from friends and family. Now there isn’t much room for anything new. It’s fun to see how it’s matured. Now onto the maintenance (aka weeding)…

My Takeaway: Sometimes waiting is the best approach. You can give things the attention they deserve.

Pokemon Cakes

This year, we celebrated my son’s ninth birthday with a Pokemon theme. There are some pretty amazing sculpted cake ideas out there, but I like to keep it simple.

For his friend party, we made Pokeball cupcakes. These are really simple, half red, half white. Put a stripe of black down the middle, and a dot of black in the middle with an upside down white chocolate chip.

On his actualy birthday, we made a Pikachu cake. This, too, was really simple. It started with two nine inch round cakes. We trimmed the ears from one cake. You need a lot of yellow frosting, and then little bits of black, red and white (which we had left from the cupcakes, yay!).

My trip for creating the face is so draw the outline with a toothpick in the yellow frosting. Then you have a line to follow when drawing the rest. (If you don’t like it, you can smooth it over and try again.)

My Designer Takeaway: Keep it simple and tasty.

Pretending to be a Photographer 2.0

Over the holidays, we stopped at the beautiful Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa. With warmth, butterflies and flowers in the middle of winter, this place is very inviting and inspiring!

Here are a few of my favorite shots from our visit:

butterfly1

butterfly2

butterfly3

butterfly4
My designer takeaway: Practice makes us better, and sometimes it’s even fun to practice!

Our BB8 Cake

I always love to surprise my family with a fun birthday cake or cupcakes. When my husband’s birthday rolled around this year, I really wanted to make him a BB8 (the robot from Star Wars) cake. I hunted around the internet, and I just couldn’t find anything simple enough that I felt like we could tackle it. Most of them were 3D made with two ball-shaped cakes. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there. And, I don’t do fondant, which ruled out a lot. But, I finally found some flat examples that we based our cake on.

Here is what we came up with:

bb8

This is just two round cakes. One pan was slightly smaller. I chopped about a third off the smaller cake and angled the bottom edges. We frosted it all in white. Then I drew the details into the white frosting with a tooth pick.

My mom (aka Grandma) with her steady hand and my kids traced on the orange and gray details.

We were all pretty pleased and eager to show it off to the birthday boy, who loved it.

BB8Adam

My designer takeaway: Research and then simplify!

Groundhog Birthday Cupcakes

My mom’s birthday is February 2, Groundhog’s Day. While we have teased her every year about seeing her shadow, we have never gone so far as to incorporate a groundhog into her cake. This year, I went there (and then I promised her to never do it again). 🙂

groundhogs

I found this cute little cupcake tutorial on Pinterest for groundhog cupcakes. They were pretty simple. I just had to buy a few kinds of candy and cookies. (And, I used cookies rather than peanut butter cups for the head because we have a nut allergy in our family.)

To build these cute little heads, you use melted chocolate chips for glue. Boy did it hold well!

groundhog

Sorry mom, but it was just too much fun! (She loved them!)

My designer takeaway: Go ahead and make the obvious every once in awhile.

Wrist Rattle Baby Card

I did a simple, cute little project the other day that I thought would be fun to share. I have this stash of gifts in my basement for birthdays, baby showers, etc. I was digging in the pile one day and discovered a package of wrist rattles. I had an idea to turn them into a baby card.

wristrattlecards

Of course I needed a saying for the card, and the song “Shake, Rattle and Roll” popped into my head. Cheesy works, right! I added a little color, some fun fonts (I’m currently addicted to the font Lilly Belle. I could go nuts with this sweet font. If you don’t have it, download it here.), and two holes to wrap the band through. And, TADA!

wristrattlecardinside

I love this card because it has a nice 3D focal point, it looks great on a simple gift bag or wrapping, and it’s a little gift, too.

wristrattlecard

My designer takeaway: Add a little dimension to your work. It may not fit in an envelope, but it might be too fun to be hidden, anyway!

My Favorite Things #1

I love a list of favorites. Don’t you? I usually discover something new with an honest critique/recommendation.

At this time of year, the feeling of beginning again or starting anew, has had a big impact on my favorites. Here is where my heart is at the moment:

1. Decluttering calendar
For the last three years, I have started to follow a calendar like this. Even though I get stopped each time, I love the progress I’ve made and the philosophy of tackling it in little steps each day. Recently, we even organized our junk drawer. I love to open it now!

coloringexample

2. Adult coloring books and this blog post: How to Color Like a Boss
I have given them as gifts, but this year, I received one! I love telling my family to stay out of my coloring book and markers. I love the excuse to enjoy a “child’s activity.” It’s nice to take the time to concentrate on it, even if it’s just five minutes. The activity seems to suck me in, and I lose track of time. It feels like a good test of color combinations and visual depth.

birddrawings

3. Draw a bird each day to avoid depression
I’m not so much worried about avoiding depression, but I love the concept of having one little drawing to do each day (and I love his collection of birds for sale). It’s like an ongoing artist study. We could easily switch this concept to any animal or object.

4. Audiobooks
I love a good story, written or read. Lately, I seem to be stumbling on to audiobooks that are like performances. It makes the experience so much richer than if I had just read the story. Here’s one to try: JoJo Moyes’ “The Girl You Left Behind”

5. Mini canvases
I bought a pack of canvases to try out, but I’ll admit it, I was chicken to start and “waste them.” One day recently, my son asked for something sturdier to paint on, and I busted them out. I love them. I hope to play some more, even if I do waste some.

6. Trying new recipes
I try to use a new recipe most weeks. Lately I’ve been toying with making a new soup each week. If that goes well, I’ll share with you here! But here is this week’s recipe that I’m going to try, Mongolian Beef. I love using a slower cooker!

7. Minute to Win It Games
Every time I host a party, I search for some minute to win it games. I love this concept, silly and fast. They are games that we haven’t done and won’t inherently be good at. They will make everyone cheer and laugh. My son’s school teacher even incorporated some at their last class party. Genius!

guitarvalentines

puppyvalentines

8. Homemade Valentines
Over the years, I/we have made a lot of Valentines for my kids’ classes. We’ve made puppies, ladybugs, rockets, guitars, fish, superheroes, dinosaurs and more. It’s always a lot of fun and a lot of work. I realized as my kids have gotten a little older and more able to help that it’s a good project for them. They get to not only create something, but also think of others and give to them.

fairydoor

9. Fairy Gardens
While I don’t have mine up and running yet, I’ve been collecting items and ideas. I have a lovely front door and a large log with a vision. I hope to share this with you in the summer months.

10. Just Dance
Our Wii has come back into play since we bought a copy of Just Dance (a old edition). It’s a lot fun with some silly moves and, hey, it has to add a little bit of exercise into our playtime. In the winter, we need to get our energy out somehow!

The Pretty Pumpkin Patch

One of my favorite ways to celebrate fall is to visit a nearby pumpkin patch. I love being outside. I love spending the day with my family I love hunting for the perfect pumpkin (It’s all in the stem for me. I like a stem with personality.). I love taking photos.

Here is a little joy from the day at the pumpkin patch.

Love this pumpkin and stem!

Love this pumpkin and stem!

I love gourds. I would take home this whole bin, if I could!

I love gourds. I would take home this whole bin, if I could!

Big beautiful sunflowers! They amaze me.

Big beautiful sunflowers! They amaze me.

Sunflowers, mountains and sky! Yes, this might be heaven!

Sunflowers, mountains and sky! Yes, this might be heaven!

sunflower-center

The reddish color of this pumpkin provides some nice variety!

The reddish color of this pumpkin provides some nice variety!

My designer takeaway: Find a place you love, and bust out your camera. You won’t regret it.

A Mermaid-Themed Birthday

Last month, I threw a mermaid-themed party for my young daughter. Here are a few highlights of what we did:

sign-4th-birthday

Food: As our friendships have evolved and grown, we have groups with nut and gluten allergies as well as vegan lifestyles. While I can be accommodating to these, I just avoided it with this party. We held it in the morning, ending at noon. We had some simple snacks of watermelon sticks and a homemade party mix, and called it a day.

snacks

Homemade party mix:

  • popcorn
  • Teddy Grahams, honey and chocolate flavors
  • M&Ms

 

Cake: Well, I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. For parties, I prefer cupcakes because they are less messy and quick to pass out. For the cupcakes, I made white chocolate sea shells with a candy mold. I bought some of those pearl sprinkles to add to the shells. They were very pretty! Later on her actual birthday, we made a full on mermaid cake using a shaped cake pan. The mermaid cake was a big hit!

shell-cupcakes mermaid-cake

Activity: I have done many parties in our pole barn, but I just didn’t have the urge to prep all that this time. We held the party at our local botanic gardens, which has a children’s garden, complete with water to play in.

playing

I have been wanting to create a scavenger hunt for a birthday party for ages because my brother and I used to make them for each other growing up. They were so much fun. I decided since my oldest can read, I would make a group scavenger hunt. It was great. I picked three areas of the gardens: the sand area, the tepees and the puppet stage. I had goodies set up with an adult at each part. The first stop included a bucket to hold all of these goodies. Inside the bucket were three shells buried in sand. We did this in the sand area so they could just dump the sand there. Then my son read the next clue, and they were off to the teepees. I had an adult in a teepee with a treasure box filled with goldfish packages and fish-shaped suckers. They read another clue and ran to the puppet show area. There we had spread out these fun beach balls with fish inside. Everyone got to pick one. The scavenger/treasure hunt was a big hit. I would definitely do that again.

scavenger-hunt

Overall, I think the party was a success! It was a nice day with some structured and unstructured activities. The kids ate sugar early in the day, but they ran around too. I got to take it easy the rest of my day. Over and done!

Me designer takeaway: Remember your childhood favorites and re-purpose them for today!

blowing-candles

Entering the County Fair

Our local county fair was held recently. I’ve been trying to make sure I enter something because it means 1) I’m doing something creative at home and 2) I’m finishing projects. It’s fun to share them with the world every now and then. 🙂

cowl-fair-entry-2015

This year I didn’t have much to share in the knitting department. I haven’t finished much, but I have been knitting! I did have this cowl hanging around that was almost done. It just needed buttons. I found these great huge red buttons that were exactly what I was picturing in my mind for finishing it. The buttons are roughly the same size, but vary in design and shade of red. It really pops on the black wool cowl.

butterfly-fair-entry-2015

I also entered a photograph this year. The photography entries for the fair rarely place because there are so many entered, but I had this great photo and thought I’d give it a try. We were given the InsectLore butterfly habitat as a gift. You get caterpillars in the mail and watch them become butterflies. This photograph was from the day we released them. They were hanging out on my daisies in my flowerbed before they flew away. The whole experience was really amazing to watch. We’ll definitely do it again! And, I took a ton of photos!

This year, I also had my son enter in the Lego category. What a great option for kids, huh!

My designer takeaway: Get a little public recognition every now and then. It’s good for the soul. (And it can even be as small scale as the county fair.)

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