In Search of Wildflowers

What makes you feel peaceful?  Do you enjoy cooking?  Do you like fishing?  Are you a fan of live music?  Based on my mood, I like different things at different times.  I think this is how most people function and I’m not the only one.  Another thing that I have enjoyed lately is making sure our backyard patio table has a steady supply of fresh wildflowers. When I look outside, I smile because of how lovely it looks.  Since we have a rhubarb plant out back, I decided to learn how to harvest it.  As a bonus, I used the flowers in my arrangement.

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The picnic table arrangement

I will share with you a few tips about the rhubarb and the flowers too.  First of all, make sure you do not eat the leaves because these are poisonous!  I also found out that flowering isn’t desirable and requires more of the plant’s energy so cutting this back is smart.  Since I didn’t know this before today, I decided to make the most of the already existing flowers and use on the patio. I didn’t really like the lack of color though which led McKinley (my schnauzer child) and I on a journey in search of wildflowers.  You know the little things in life can be so much fun.

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McKinley enjoys our trips in search of wildflowers.

Lastly, since the sun goes down around 11:30 p.m. and the sun rises around 4:30 a.m., we have many light hours each day to go exploring. We luckily found some cute purple ones!  While on the road, I thought about how the process of looking for these flowers reminded me of the times when my dad, mom, sister, and I would go riding around in the country looking for wild plums to pick.  This was such a fun activity forever etched in my memories.

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I will leave you with a poem I thought of while out today.

 

IN SEARCH OF WILDFLOWERS

By: Mel on 6/17/2018

 

Fresh air and colors,

Raging waters and wind,

Somewhere out there is a girl on the move, based on a whim.

 

Whatever makes you happy,

Seek and find.

In the end,

We can reminisce about it through rewind.

 

That moment will be gone forever very soon.

Then, we will be happy we made the move.

 

Hugs,

Mel

At-Home Ladies Paint Nights

Red Dress
“Girl got Booty!”

I have so much to share with you but have been very busy teaching classes.  I was asked to take on some additional courses this term which has me busier than usual.  However, I still make time for my family and fun activities.

The most recent activity I decided to complete was a painting on canvas.  My daughter was given a neat painting set for Christmas but hasn’t broken it in, so I decided to be the first one to do so.  Since I have never painted at home without being guided (like in community PaintNite classes), I decided to consult YouTube.  Did you know there are tons of painting instructions on YouTube?  You can even have a fun Ladies night at home by choosing one of the great step-by-step options on any one of the many channels.

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Start to Finish

 

I decided to paint “Lady with Black Umbrella, Acrylic Painting“ by Acrylic Painting Techniques.  The YouTube channel link is below.  I know mine isn’t as dynamic as hers; however, I really like the end result.  My lady seems to have more “junk in the trunk” but I actually like that better anyway.  I call her “Girl got Booty!”  I think she is authentic and powerful in that red dress!

Lady with Black Umbrella, Acrylic Painting

Peace and Happiness,

Mel

Easy to Make Headboard for under $20!

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Since we are making Alaska our temporary home, I decided spending a lot of money on furniture would be a waste.  This is because we aren’t planning on taking very much of what we have here back to the lower 48 when we eventually return. I brainstormed for a while about doing something with our bedroom.  It was so “blah!”  Then, the answer came to me one lovely evening while cleaning up after Christmas.

My mom gave my husband an awesome sled for his gift and that sled came in a huge cardboard box. (You probably know where I am going with this.)  I got the bright idea to stop by a fabric store for backing and fabric and transform that disposable box into a headboard.  Since I love sharing with you all, I want to show step-by-step how I transformed our bed.  This project would be great for anyone living somewhere temporarily who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money for decor.

Items Needed:

Cardboard box

X-Acto Knife

Duct Tape

Fabric of your Choice

Backing

Long Nails

2-4 Decorator Flowers

Hot Glue Gun

 

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First, find a large cardboard box that meets the size headboard you want
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Take an X-Acto and cut two pieces of board the same size to make your headboard sturdy
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Take some duct tape and go around both pieces of cardboard to secure together
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After taping the pieces together, add the backing by also taping it to the cardboard. (One side will not be neat and doesn’t have to be.  It will show all the taped pieces!)
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Make sure to iron your fabric before placement or it will not look neat
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The back of the headboard isn’t very attractive.
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The final product looks neat and most people will have no idea your headboard is a cardboard box! After you nail in the headboard, hot glue two flowers matching your bedspread over the nail heads.  Then, if you have matching pillows, hot glue the other two flowers to your decorative pillows to pull everything together.
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One final view…

Hugs,

Mel

 

How to Have a “Cookie Baking, Wine Tasting, Snacking” Festivity

how to

Christmas is the time for giving, sharing, and caring. I decided the best way to share some cheer was to host a cooking baking festivity at my house. I invited my immediate next-door neighbor, two neighbors from down the street (I met these two at my first neighbor’s home), and another neighborhood resident I met while walking McKinley the other day. Most of us frequently joke that we never make friends with anyone outside the neighborhood.  This seems to be true, but we are open to making friends with anyone.

To kick off this event, I found some shiny  invitations, filled these out, and dropped off to everyone like the neighborhood Christmas Elf. This was a full 5 days before the event because I made sure to text almost everyone about it as a “Save the Date” heads-up two weeks beforehand. However, call me old-fashioned, but I fully believe a hand-written note/invitation is still warranted and shows the person you think they are worth the time and effort. I sent out 6 invitations and only 4 ladies attended. (Invitation insert wording is listed near the end of this post, if interested in using.) Also, if you decide to host one of these yourself, you’ll definitely want to consider the fact that not everyone you invite will want to attend (or may already be busy.) Regardless of whether you require an RSVP, inevitably, people still won’t let you know whether they can attend. It happens.

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The invitations

Furthermore, I wanted everyone to enjoy some snacks and beverages while baking. I prepared snacks and a wine spritzer, but had plenty of non-alcoholic options too.  My wine spritzer had white wine, pineapple-orange juice, diet sprite, and pure cranberry juice in it. I poured this in my punch dispenser until it tasted acceptable. (You can also add some club soda if you want.) Snacks to fuel all the cooking included: little smokies (which are mini sausages in a low sugar barbecue sauce), chips and salsa, mini French bread baguettes, AND a cheese, cracker, and fruit plate.

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Making the Wine Spritzer
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I love “little smokies” in a crockpot to stay warm the entire time.
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Snacking during baking…
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There are lots of things to do to prepare. I went ahead and put the items needed for my date candies on the kitchen counter.
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Candy cane curtain tie-backs (The details can be fun too.)

Everything turned out great! We had a wonderful time. Although, I believe it would have been helpful to share plans to avoid duplicating recipes. We were lucky. Even though there were two peanut butter items, there were no two identical cookies. We ended up making date balls, peanut butter fudge, peanut butter cookies, thumbprint cookies, ginger cookies with lemon icing, and snowball cookies. Also, I made fruitcake cookies the night before the party to free my oven for others’ items. In the end, I hope this post helps you plan your next ladies event! This would be a great party before Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or even before Thanksgiving.

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We had a variety of candies and cookies.
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I pulled in an extra table for food and icing. Look at these cuties!
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Caris and I had a great time!


Items to Purchase before the Party

Pretty invitations (1 month ahead)
Holiday themed tablecloth (2 weeks before)
Holiday themed plates and cups (2 weeks before)
Plastic Forks
Snacks of your choice (one savory, one sweet, and other snacks planned 3 weeks ahead)
Decorations (if you haven’t decorated already)
Gift bags and tissue paper (for everyone to take cookies home in)

Wording for My Invitation Insert
If you are able to make it on __________, please bring your favorite cookie or candy recipe and the ingredients. (I will have plenty of eggs and milk.) I have a few pans we can use but if you happen to have a baking sheet, bring it as well. We will keep the oven busy! This festivity should be a fun one — no stress! We will learn from one another, share cookies, and socialize! I have already purchased bags and tissue paper for us to use to take home a variety of cookies for our family and friends. Also, I plan on having a yummy beverage for us all (with and without spirits) and a few snacks too. While not required, feel free to bring anything snack-wise or beverage(s) to share. Thanks, _____________.

Lastly, do not forget after the party is over, you can enjoy the cookies for up to 2 weeks during the holiday season. This is a win-win festivity.

Hugs and Cheer,
Mel

Christmas Tree House on a Dime

Christmas Trees

If you didn’t already know, Christmas is my favorite time of year. Well before having my website, I used to create all kinds of fun things for the holidays like fancy cookies, specialty painted signs for our front door (our former home’s front door is shown below), and even handmade gifts for friends and family. However, now that I am chronicling my family adventures, I get to share the behind-the-scenes part of the creativity, which is very exciting to me.

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I painted this Peace and Joy sign for our former house but was only able to bring the small Joy sign with us. (I also painted the Christmas Tree at a painting party with my sister one year.)

As I mentioned in a prior post, we scaled down our Christmas decorations quite a lot this year due to moving. We couldn’t take every item we collected over the past 20+ years or we wouldn’t have had enough room for the necessities like clothes, pots and pans, and furniture. This gave me a goal though. I decided I would create a fabulous Christmas house on a dime. I knew I could do it. After all, I had packed some ribbon, a ruler, red poly mesh, an X-acto knife and had plenty of imagination and heavy cardboard boxes. What more does a lady need?

Even though my husband and I both work, things cost a lot more in Alaska. Thus, if you are like most people, every penny adds up. I didn’t want to sacrifice the Christmas house my family is used to just because I wanted to save a little money. Since I had some boxes and a little time, I sat in the carport brainstorming. The first thing I knew I needed to do was spray paint the boxes green. This was the start of my idea for the Christmas tree theme. You will find the list of items needed below, how to order some of those items, and a photo diary giving the progress from beginning to completion. I hope you enjoy and consider doing for yourself if you need to save some money on decorations this Christmas season!

The total cost of this project was around $5.00 because I had to purchase spray paint and some white poster board for behind the tree box.

Items needed:
Heavy Duty Cardboard Boxes
X-acto knife
Pen/Pencil
Green Spray Paint
Red Poly Mesh Ribbon
White Poster Board
Christmas Lights (optional for lighted tree box)

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Empty boxes and time in the carport was the beginning of this Christmas project
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Green Gloss Spray Paint is needed
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McKinley and I spent some time outside. I sprayed more boxes than I needed. (This was before the first snow day!)
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I used a ruler to make my first tree and then used it as a template.
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Then, just cut, cut, and cut until you have all of your trees cut out.  (The empty box will be used too!)
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It is starting to come together!
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You need poster board unless you leave the tree open and add lights.
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I wasn’t sure if I wanted lights in the box at first.  In the end, I went with a white background.
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I ended up going with the white tree look.
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Wrap the red mesh ribbon around the tree… it will cover any imperfections. Wrap twice.

 

 

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The Christmas trees are my favorite
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The entire look for the fireplace makes me happy.
Side view
Walking from the kitchen to the living room, we have another Christmas “side table.”

Items below if desired:

I sure enjoyed completing this project! I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

Joy and Love,
Mel

Christmas Craft Time

Christmas Wreath

Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year.  When I was younger, I dreamed of one day having my own house and decorating every room with Christmas figurines, statues, and even themed wall art.  If you have ever been to any of our Christmas parties, you know this dream came true.  Outside lights aren’t necessary, but I definitely want the inside to be full of the Christmas essence.

Since we didn’t bring all of our Christmas decorations to Alaska (we would have had to buy another trailer), I decided we would create some.  Additionally, since I don’t like to spend too much money on crafts, I saw the potential in free things outside like spruce cones and branches.

We ended up making ornaments, a wreath, and a pretty basket centerpiece for the kitchen table.  I already had the wreath and bought the basket for $2 at a thrift store. I spent a total of about $15.00 on all of these items but I already owned a hot glue gun and had some glue.

Shopping List:

Hot Glue Gun

Glue

Ornament Hooks

Cotton Balls

Fabric Markers

White felt

Red, Blue, Green, and White Paint

Paint Brushes

Ribbon (Gold, Red, Silver, Green)

Decorations like: Glitter glue, bells, and sequins

Outside Freebies:

Cones

Branches

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Paints are not very expensive and spruce cones are free
Caris loves to paint.
Caris loves to paint.

You will want to separate your cones and make sure you paint all colors on the bigger cones and the smaller cones.

Craft Time
My hands got dirty so you may want to buy some disposable gloves.
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I cut out Santa’s hat from the white felt and used fabric markers to color some of it red.

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If you are interested in a template for Santa’s hat, send me a message and I will send to you.

Listed below is a video on how to make the base for the Christmas trees and how to make Santa’s eyeglasses from paper clips. (Forgive my voice, I have been sick this week.)

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The basket for the center of the table
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Close up of Santas, Trees, and White “Snow” cones
thrift store wreath
This inexpensive wreath form turned into a cute Christmas decoration.
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This wreath looks super cute in our living room.

Hugs,

Mel