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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.)

The 125th Celebration Identity Package

At work, my department usually gets handed the unusual, one-time projects or events for the state government that don’t seem to have a natural landing place. One of those just happened, the state of Wyoming celebrated it’s 125th anniversary of statehood. It was a whirlwind event that turned out great. Here are visuals I created for this event based on a tourism sticker celebrating the 125th anniversary. (I didn’t create the sticker. It was selected by the 125th committee to serve as the event “logo”.)

sticker

As far as the eye-catching quality, it’s hard to miss the yellow and black combination! I pulled colors from the logo/sticker. Color is mostly what I used to grab attention.

I mixed in a little of our traditional western fonts for that “Wyoming” feel. Overall, I kept the design really simple and tried to ensure the basic/essential information was the star of the show. There wasn’t a lot of time to ponder options on this project. The first meeting I went to I brought two flyer options. Instead of saying which option they preferred, the committee asked how soon they could have it.

Wyoming-125th-celebration-2015--flyer---letter-size

Initially, we didn’t have all the activities nailed down, but we wanted to start promoting the event. I created some simple icons to illustrate the activities for the event, trying to keep them similar to the style of the logo/sticker.

We hit just about every media outlet we could. I assisted with printed newspaper ads, banners around town and created and maintained a Facebook page for the event.

For the event itself, we created a lot of signage. Here is a sample.

My designer takeaway: The pace of this event planning was fast. What I learned was “go now, and don’t overthink it.”

Summer Flowers 2015

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

We had a weird, cold entire month of May, and it left me not in the mood for gardening. I went really simple this year, mostly sticking with pansies and petunias. They are sure pretty now, though.

I also tore out a big weedy/grassy chunk in the middle of my flowerbed. The ground was so wet from our cold rainy May that it was easy. I decided to leave it bare for this summer and keep pulling the weeds from that area. Hopefully next summer it will be ready for something new.

My designer takeaway: This summer’s lessons were (1) to just keep going (when I really didn’t feel like planting because the effort was worth it in time), and (2) it’s okay to rip it all out and start over!

Pretending to be a Photographer

I love to play around with photography every now and then. I wish I did it more often (because I’d probably be much better at it). Anyway, this week, I thought I’d share a few of my better shots from our recent camping trip into the mountains. It was so beautiful there that it was hard not to take photos! How’s that for inspiration!

I played around with natural lighting with these (and usually that meant waiting for a cloud to cover the bright sun so I could get a richer tone to my photos).

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

3 Free Nature Textures

Apparently I’m still on a texture kick (not really a surprise). We recently took a family camping trip into the mountains. I found myself snapping close ups of rocks and bark to use as background texture for future work projects. I find all kinds of uses for nature images in my day job. I’m excited to have some new options available whenever I need them.

I picked a few of those images to share with you here. Download them, and use them anywhere you need a little natural texture!

My designer takeaway: Always good to beef up your supply of background textures for a future use!

3 Free Textures

I believe I’ve said it before, but I love using visual texture in my design work. Often it’s just a background that no one would even notice, but it adds depth to the piece.

So today I want to share three free textures for you to use anyway you can dream up.

Download the red fleece, cardboard and canvas.

My designer takeaway: A little texture in the background can often enhance any design.

Second Class – Flower Arranging

flower-arrangement

I just took my second flower arranging class, and I love how much it overlaps with graphic design. This class was part of the “Life Enrichment” class offered by our local community college, and the teacher is also from the community college. He’s very excited and passionate about good flower design. It’s really fun and eye opening.

This class was based on a design for a mason jar. All the flowers and tools were provided. The the theme was doing a “hand tie” design. It took me a bit to get this meaning, but it shouldn’t have. 🙂 It just meant we started with a bunch “tied” together like a bride’s bouquet. We took that bunch and inserted it in the center and then built around it.

He talked about building vertical and horizontal lines for visual interest. Although this style of bouquet is more symmetrical, he assured us it would have plenty of visual interest.

We worked in layers after that. He’d give us one type of greenery and suggest the area for it’s use, like around the bottom edge or immediately around the center to help hold it upright. This is where everyone’s started to take its own shape.

We talked about how much interest the greenery adds with all the different textures. It builds a lot of depth into the arrangement.

Then we added three long grass blades. This felt like such a funny step to me, but they made a big impact. Mine arched outward. Others’ stood up nice and tall. He had me work mine so they arched at three different heights.

The second to last step was to insert the second row of flowers. I did mine all about the same height and in between the grasses. Others did theirs in a spiral, or stair step, around it.

Lastly, we checked for holes or areas that needed a little more greenery for balance.

flower-arrangement2

I could tell that I felt much more comfortable this class than the first one. I just might develop an eye for this. Time will tell. I think there will be more classes in my future, though.

My designer takeaway: Texture and layers are always a good thing!

Holiday Card Challenge – Post 4

holiday-card-challenge-7-10

Here are the last three designs in my holiday card challenge = 50 cards total, 10 designs, 5 of each design. In case you missed my first three posts with cards one through seven, they are here, here and here.

This week, I went for variations of the traditional rich holiday color tones, the red, green and gold. And I also wanted to use some of brad/eyelet stash. 🙂

holiday-card-challenge-7

This first card uses on the techniques I love, creating visual texture with words and fonts. Here it’s a nice layer that you almost don’t notice, but makes a really simple card a little more interesting.

holiday-card-challenge-10

For the second card, I decided to use some kind of phrase on it, since I really haven’t done that on any of the others. I did a little online search and found one I liked. I highlighted some words with a typeface change. Here I also used symmetry, which is not something I normally do, but it’s playful in this instance with the bright colors and contemporary shapes. Layering the text and adding the eyelets gives this some dimension.

holiday-card-challenge-8

The third card I created based on my snowflake brads. I thought it would be fun just to cover the whole card in snowflakes, which was actually a bit time consuming as I played around with what size/rotation should go where. I could have spent more time adjusting all of these! The I picked three spots, deleted my vector snowflake and left a spot for the brad. My hope was that the brads would sort of blend in, but then add a surprise 3D visual. This may or may not have been successful, but it was still fun.

My designer takeaway: Playfulness can be a good design element: play with your typefaces, play with your colors and play with the arrangement!

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