Annual “WELCOME FALL!” Picnic

[CLICK ON ANY PHOTO, for a more detailed & larger view]

This weekend was our Annual “WELCOME FALL!” Picnic at The Seasonal Home… a celebration that I started, several years ago, with the daughters of one of my best friends (who happens to live next door). The first year, it was simply my way of giving her a little parent-break, but has now become an annual tradition. Once my boys were grown, I really missed the creativity of doing fun things like this so now, I’m creating new memories with my 2 sweet neighbors – Emme and Gretta.

This celebration is our way of welcoming in the Autumnal Equinox (a/k/a Fall) and even though it is usually still hot outside, a good fan and our imaginations help us pretend that it’s breezy & cool. Here’s a peek at some of our fun, in case you want to start this tradition yourself.

We always have our picnic first. This year, we decided to make grilled cheese sandwiches (cut into pumpkins), homemade sweet potato fries (Sandra Lee’s recipe, Food Network), and diced apples over graham cracker crumbs with a drizzle of hot caramel (an idea we thought up ourselves). P.S. If you ever want to see a young child have fun, give them some graham crackers in a plastic bag and show them how to turn them into crumbs, using a wooden rolling pin – hilarious!

For dessert, we made a healthier chocolate muffin from a new mix called “Simple Mornings”. They served as our cupcakes, topped with a little homemade cream cheese frosting (Food Network recipe), sprinkles and a small, candy pumpkin.

We had SO much fun making all the food… together!

Of course, we decorated for our picnic too! I found over-sized, felt, fall leaves (in 3 different colors) at The Dollar Tree and we simply used a piece of fishing line to hang them from the pergola beams.

They looked so pretty (moving), when a breeze finally kicked up! Check it out in this short YouTube video I made:

With the addition of a few scarecrows, pumpkins and fall flowers, we were ready to enjoy our “WELCOME FALL” picnic.

And funny enough, every year, we seem to be visited by a representative of Mother Nature. Last year, it was a caterpillar and this year, we enjoyed the company of a beautiful & HUGE Swallowtail Butterfly, who really liked the flowers in my up-cycled wheelbarrow Fairy Garden.

And he didn’t even seem to mind that I was following him around with my camera.

The girls were really hoping he would land on their fingers.

Once he fluttered off, it was time for lunch!

Uhhh… please ignore the well done sweet potato fries – they were the unfortunate casualty of our hectic kitchen preparation.

Once we saw that a few of our fries were slightly overcooked, the girls tried to make lemonade out of lemons by suggesting that “maybe adding some ketchup will help”…. soooooo sweet!

After we ate, it was time for crafts and games! We usually have an apple bobbing contest, but little Gretta is about to lose a front tooth, so we decided to try some new things this year.

So, first up…. a little painting of face masks.

And ta-dum…. the cute, personalized results. Hey, that looks a awful lot like my hair!!

Next, a competitive game of Halloween B-I-N-G-O. Check out the concentration on their faces (LOL).

And last, but not least…. a game of PIN THE HAT ON THE WITCH.

I’m not sure who was the best spinner or worst pin-er, but when you’re having fun, the results don’t really matter.

First up was Gretta….

Hmmm… close! Then, it was Emme’s turn.

In the end, it really didn’t matter who won because I had gathered a few inexpensive, special treats, as a surprise for both of the girls.

I found a cute $1.00 pumpkin box (Wal mart) to place them all in and added a “Happy 1st Day of Fall” note to each.

Once we headed back inside (we had enjoyed the Florida heat & humidity quite enough, thank you very much!), the girls had fun opening their goodie boxes.

Two of their favorite things were the Spider rings, modeled here by Emme –

and a small bag of the newest M & M flavor “Candy Corn White Chocolate”…. YUM!

In the end, we all agreed we had tons of fun and that cupcakes taste even better in air-conditioned comfort! (LOL)

I hope we inspired you to consider starting your own “Welcome Fall Picnic” tradition. 🙂

Enjoy the Creativity!


Mother’s Day Brunch in a Up-cycled Garden

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This post is a double-feature… an idea for a Mother’s Day celebration AND some up-cycling ideas for your garden!

First, the Garden ideas.  I’ve been busy this spring, up-cycling some items (I already own) to stay within my budget.   Before I talk about those projects, I have to share with you a bargain I found last fall.  I got SO lucky and spotted this gorgeous, cedar pergola at Sam’s Club (on sale) for around $200.   Have you priced these things?   If you have, you’ll understand what a bargain this was!  So, my advice is to watch the post-summer sales at the shopping clubs and grab a deal for yourself. 🙂

Now that I have a garden focal point, in my pergola… it’s time to add a fountain!  I was inspired by a blue ceramic, bubbler fountain at Lowe’s.  But, at $130, I decided to  instead up-cycle my old birdbath that I had turned into a planter years ago.  So, using my glue gun, I closed the drainage holes (previously created), spray painted it blue, added a small pump, “Welcome” rock (from my front garden) and added 2 bags of smaller rocks from the Dollar Tree to turn it into a simple, blue fountain.  

HINT:  spray paint the pump electrical cord the same color to camouflage it.  

I hung an old farmhouse window (from the back side of the pergola), above the fountain, to create a “back wall” to my new garden room and gathered all of my larger clay pots, spray painting the 2 white ones (blue) also.  And I filled several of my large pots with lettuce & tomatoes so I can have a homegrown salad soon!

You might also recognize the garden outdoor furniture set I up-cycled and featured in a post (last year) by spray painting it black and recovering the cushions.  And since a portion of my first (glass) gazing ball holder disintegrated, I removed the ball and replaced it with a clay pot, highlighting one of my pretty plants.

I also wanted to create some shade because it gets HOT in Florida! (LOL)  I found a pre-made cover at Lowe’s for $99, but it had no tethers or weights to keep it in place…. hmmm… the first wind will turn that into a sail!  Luckily, Lowe’s also carries the shade fabric (cuts sun & heat by 75% and is super-easy to sew, but you could also use velcro to create a customized cover) by itself for a lot less, I decided to make my own.  I measured, cut & sewed the lightweight fabric to match the dimensions of my pergola roof and added a pocket (on each end) so I could insert a piece of poplar wood (the least expensive way to weight each side down).  By the way, Lowe’s will also cut-to-size any piece of wood for about 25 cents… what a deal!   The fabric works AND looks great! [check out my $7 paper lantern too].  The rug is one I found (last year – post summer) and because it’s small enough to roll it up and store, I just bring it out for special occasions like this one.  Speaking of that — I can also roll up & remove the shade cover if a storm is headed my way (yay!)

And now, for the Mother’s Day celebration idea – creating a little bit ‘o Heaven in my backyard (on a budget) inspired me to invite my Mom over and spend some time with her going through old photos, reminiscing and enjoying some lunchtime treats for Mother’s Day…. an “ahhhhhh” day for both of us… with no standing in line and no reservation required!

Happy Mother’s Day and –

enjoy the Creativity!


The Bench Orphan

For 2+ years of blog posts & photos, my readers have often seen an unusual “what in the world is that?!” piece of concrete outside The Seasonal Home’s front door.  And just in case you’ve ever wondered… it’s just my little Bench Orphan.  Before I explain what a Bench Orphan is, I should provide you with its background –

My sweet Grandmother (Nonie) was our family’s “Holiday Queen” and the inspiration for my love of seasonal decorating.  When she passed away 26 years ago, I asked for her concrete bench.  Ever since I can remember, this big concrete bench, with beautifully cast roses on each leg, was in her back yard.  It sat in an all-day shady spot (this is important in Florida! lol), which provided the perfect resting place after our annual Easter Egg Hunts as well as many other backyard family gatherings.  But, my fondest memory (as a little girl) is of sitting on the bench and drinking homemade lemonade, while my Grandmother told me stories or handed out sage advice as she hung up her laundry on the clothesline or gardened a little… tending to her many beautiful & unusual plants, including a small grapevine.  After she finished, she would always sit down next to me (on the bench) and finish her stories while sipping her homemade lemonade.

A few years after I became the proud owner of my Grandmother’s bench – the seat broke.  I may have positioned the bench legs too far apart… I’m not sure… but as it fell to one side, it landed on one of the support legs and also broke that.  I suppose most people would have thrown the remaining support leg away but to me, that would have been like throwing out memories of my sweet Grandma Nonie, who I dearly loved and miss to this day.  So, whenever you see the big, rose-adorned concrete bench leg next to my front door (in any of my photos), please don’t think I’ve lost my decorating mind.  It’s just an orphan from my Grandmother’s bench and having it there to greet me everyday keeps my Grandma close to my heart.  🙂


UPDATE:  I just had to share with my readers something my 4 sweet sons gifted me with this past Christmas…. a new bench for new memories.   No wonder I love them!!!

A Snowman Breakfast

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Often, I receive requests for fundraiser donations and here’s one that turned out cute, so I’m sharing! 🙂  And I’m posting this holiday gift idea early so you’ll have time to gather the ingredients.

This would be a great gift (basket) for a family, like a relative, friend or neighbor that you want to “gift” with a new tradition.  This idea started when I came across a set of very reasonably-priced, Snowman themed dishes (by Debbie Mumm), titled “Snowflake” & “Snowman”.  P.S. they’re on the internet (eBay) if you like them too.

I thought about how hard it is to corral young ones at the breakfast table (Christmas morning) with so many wonderful gifts tempting them under the tree.  But, I think this “Snowman Breakfast” idea could solve that problem by creating FUN and MEMORIES!  The basket contents provide the main items a family would need to make & serve Snowman-shaped Chocolate Chip pancakes on Christmas morning, followed by a cozy, winter beverage.  YUM!  What child could resist, and this would be a fun, Christmas morning tradition for a family to enjoy for years to come! 

In the basket, I placed:

Not shown in basket:

And here’s the finished product:

Enjoy the Creativity!



This idea has been a tradition at THE SEASONAL HOME for the past 4 years.  Having 4 sons, I spent many years doing “boy” things for Fall and Halloween.  So, when they grew up and moved away, I switched things up and started something new… a gathering for the neighborhood “girls” (on my street) to enjoy each others company in a “WELCOME FALL” picnic!   Because it’s still so warm, during the first few weeks of Fall – in Florida – we all secretly hope this tradition works (along the lines of a rain dance) and brings us some cooler weather (lol) soon!

Do I see ghosts floating in this photo? EEK!

The first order of Fall business is a menu for the picnic.  We keep it simple, inexpensive and anyone who wants to make something to bring does.  Because the oldest in our group (Emmeline) can now bake, she made our frosted brownies that accompanied pumpkin-shaped PB&J sandwiches, watermelon and popcorn. 

The girls also had the awesome idea of bringing sparkly water and food color so we could make our drinks any color we chose –

Funny how food coloring turned the drinks into spooky potions!

I found some fun, Fall-theme headbands in the Target’s $1.00 bins (front of the store) for the girls to wear.  And a couple of coupons (I had) guided our “activity” choices: a $1.00 off fresh produce coupon from Target made a small bag of apples less than $2.00 so the girls could enjoy the traditional Fall game of bobbing for apples.

And at Michael’s craft store, I scooped up a “Pin the Nose on the Pumpkin” game for only $1.80 (using a 40% off coupon) for the girls to enjoy –

During our picnic, we had an unexpected, multi-legged visitor show up, on the arm of Stella… EEK again!!

In the end, I kept within my budget so well, I hit the Target “dollar” bins again as well as their Halloween Dept. where I found multi-party-packs of fun toys and writing pads.  For a few dollars, I created some sweet, take-home gifts for the girls to remember our “WELCOME FALL” picnic by.  I hope you like our annual Fall tradition idea well enough to try it yourself.


Enjoy the Creativity,


Creative Wall Art

Here are a few creative wall art ideas I think my readers will enjoy.  Not only do they demonstrate creative re-purposing, but they are also budget-minded.

First, if you have or find some old frames (maybe chunky, dated gold ones?), head to your DIY store for a can of spray paint.  After a few coats of paint…Presto!  You’ll have a whole new look!  Don’t have anything to place inside them yet?  Use scrapbook paper!  If you have more than one frame, choose coordinated (by color) patterns, keeping in mind that they will really POP if you make sure that they include the color of the wall (you’re hanging them on).


This idea is a wonderful everyday look, especially when paired with a framed mirror in the same color.  You could also change things up by centering a family photo or die-cut holiday creature in the center of one or all 3 of these frames.  Simply place and mount them in front of the scrapbook paper.


Also, if you have some odd-colored framed metal work wall art, once again… spray paint is your answer!  And why not go one step further by drilling a small hole in the middle of the framed art and a painted, rosette (wood block), which can then be glued to the back of the metal art center.  Next, purchase and install a clock kit through the center of both.  You’ll have wall art in a color you like AND it will be useful too!


Here’s one more idea, which is an inexpensive way to display a few family photos (possibly of your children or grandchildren) in combination with your favorite saying.   Type the favorite saying into a word document on a computer, breaking it up (by page) in any way that fits your framed display.  Next, increase the font to the best size for your display, print and frame.  Combine this saying with your family photos, in coordinated frames, to create a heartfelt wall display for all to enjoy!

As always, click on any of the photos above to view them larger & in greater detail.

Enjoy the Creativity!


A “Heritage Wedding Gift” Tradition

See the WEDDINGS Category for details about the Wedding Gift Box, pictured on the right of the gift basket

This year, I attended a wonderful wedding and as expected, the gifts (guests brought for the Bride & Groom) were all beautifully wrapped, in a sea of silvers, golds and white on the reception table.


Click on any Photo, for a larger view

But, there was one gift that caught everyone’s attention.  It was SO unique , not only in its color and gift wrap, but also in its contents.  It was brought from Holland by the Dutch relatives of the Groom’s Mother. 🙂  Before these relatives traveled from Holland to attend the wedding, they purchased and then, stuffed their suitcases with every possible Dutch product they could fit in.   The gift basket overflowed with all of their thoughtful goodies… things like a clock and cups, with the traditional Dutch Delft pattern on them.  But, there were also many traditional Dutch treats (cheeses, chocolates, tea and crackers, etc.) that the Groom was familiar with because his mother made sure he was continually aware of his heritage, while growing up.

I was fortunate enough to be a small part of the gift when the Mother of the Groom asked me to put the finishing (gift wrap) touches on her family’s gift by arranging it in the basket, wrapping it up and making a gift tag and bow to add.  I remember thinking what a great idea this gift was because it not only pleased the Groom, but also provided him with everything he needed to share the story of his heritage and childhood traditions with his new wife.  So, if your family consists of relatives from another country (either in this generation or one in the past), keep this idea in mind when someone in your family gets married.  Consider the idea of beginning a new tradition by giving them their “Heritage” as a wedding gift.  It will be remembered for many more years than a blender, I promise you!


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The world is SO uncertain these days.  That fact, alone, places renewed importance on FAMILY and creating memories.  Of course, my readers know how much I (personally) treasure memory-making, but I also LOVE to give memory-making “Starter Kits” (as gifts) to encourage it in other families… new or established!  So, keep this creative idea in mind as a unique gift for:  New Baby, New Neighbor “WELCOME!”, First Christmas, Baby Shower, First Halloween, Birthday, Mother’s or Father’s Day, First Easter, etc.

In the past, I’ve created some fun-to-give New Baby, New Grandbaby and FAMILY-themed “Starter Kits”.  And these gift baskets always include my book because it contains year-round ideas for making memories plus some great seasonal decorating ideas too!  Below is a basket from another previous post that focused on the family (mainly CHRISTMAS items) and a new one I just created that features year-round family fun:

My latest basket, which I’m donating to RELAY FOR LIFE™, includes year-round memory-making, family fun:

  • Birthday Celebration Photo Frame
  • Halloween Plates, Napkins, Cups, (boney hand) Salad Tongs & Spooky Sounds CD (to recreate my SPOOKY DINNER family tradition)
  • Hallmark Christmas Ornament and Book Combo
  • “FAMILY MEMORIES” Ornament/Sign

Look at the fun Dollar Tree “find” I added as gift basket topper!

Thanksgiving Tablecloth “makes memories!”

This idea, for a new family tradition at Thanksgiving, will bring tons of memories rushing back each year that it’s brought out.  And even better… it’s very simple to do.

To begin:  purchase a new, light-colored tablecloth and some permanent markers, in Fall colors.  After you set your table, for Thanksgiving dinner, scatter the pens across the length (of the table) so everyone can reach them.  Encourage your family and guests to write a personal note, which they should also sign and date.  Suggest that they write something like:

  • something for which they are thankful
  • something they accomplished during the year
  • someONE they are grateful for
  • something (like a special event) they would like to remember

As the messages accumulate, from year-to-year, your family and invited guests will thoroughly enjoy re-visiting their own past  notes, and those of everyone else, as they each add a new one for the current year.  Your inexpensive Thanksgiving tablecloth will become a true time capsule and a treasured keepsake to pass down through the family for years!  A final thought… be sure to place a liner under the tablecloth or sheet to protect your table from marker residue.

Personally…. I’m grateful for all of my wonderful readers and for the overwhelming response I received to my DVD release… thank you all for your support!


Making MORE Memories!

I am firm believer that children, and people in general, remember what you DO much more than what you give.  Because of this philosophy, I receive many requests to create gift baskets filled with items that help us make memories with family and/or friends.  If you would also like to make one of these, here’s how I build one:

I use my book (Creative Family Traditions and Ideas) as the foundation for each basket because it has ideas useful in many different types of  relationships, including simple friendships.  Next, I search out other manufacturers who also sell products encouraging us to focus on the “M” word…. MEMORIES…  not money and include those, thereby supporting my book as well as the products of other deserving companies.  Finally, rather than place the items in a typical basket, I search for “useful” containers.  Before you know it, I have a gift filled with fun and useful items for creating memories or at the very least – items that make life easier for the recipient.

On an even HAPPIER note ~ When I wrote my book, I discovered that raising 4 children on an extremely tight budget provided me with a true “gift”.  Necessity being the mother of invention, my circumstances helped me become creative – teaching me how to spend “time” (on my children).  I developed clever traditions, ideas and problem solvers as well as ways to reinvent new uses for everyday items.  All of my efforts made them feel loved and special.  And now that they are amazing & creative adults themselves, I realize that they benefited tremendously from my situation!  Coming to that conclusion makes me even happier because I realize that today’s tough economic hardships may actually have a silver lining… it gives me hope for the future adults of today’s struggling parents.  I applaud the parents who roll with the punches and dig deep to find their own FREE creativity to “spend” on their children.  I wish I could give every one of them a HUGE HUG and tell them to hang in there.  I want them to know that the end result can be positive and wonderful!

[check out BABY’S 1st GIFT post as well as the 2 baskets (below) that I created for a fund-raiser, this week]



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