Using Natural Products to Create a Summer Decoration or Gift

While cruising the offerings at some of my favorite local stores (The Stable in Lake Alfred, FL & The Pottery Barn), it’s hard not to notice how adding natural textures, like rope or twine, to a (large or small) candle holder creates an instant summer look.  So, check out the great products I found OR dig out your glue gun to re-purpose a candle holder, you already have, by adding some instant texture… what a great (inexpensive) way to gift yourself or someone else this summer!

And while we’re on the subject of using natural textures to create something special, check out how pairing a little burlap and twine makes a great gift wrap for a bottle of wine…  the perfect summer hostess gift!



What to do with your vacation shell collection

Ahhhhh, summer!  Sooner or later, we all end up at the beach.  And if you’re the typical beach vacationer, you undoubtedly have picked up a few shells along the way, so here’s a few ideas of things you can do with them –

Apothecary Jar fillers

A conversation table

Gorgeous Summer Wreath


A simple centerpiece

An accent for a wall or door decoration

Shell candles for your outdoor OR indoor spaces

A seashell bridal bouquet and boutonniere for your upcoming wedding

A summer theme birthday! Photo courtesy of Coastal Living


A keepsake ornament. Photo courtesy of

While at the beach… don’t forget to create a cool photo for your holiday cards! [photo hint: place your camera close to a small sand snowman to make him appear full-size]
Photo courtesy of

HAPPY SUMMER…. enjoy the creativity!


A Patriotic Pergola Picnic!

This post is all about the ol’ Red, White and Blue and with July 4th around the corner, I hope it inspires you with its patriotic spirit… enjoy!

Feel free to click on any photo for a larger view and if you have any questions (or comments… I “heart” those! 🙂 ), please feel free to share them.

During the year, so many celebrations and holidays call for a “Patriotic” theme (Military Homecoming, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day… even the Olympics!), so here’s some creative ideas to inspire you when it’s time to wave your own flag…  on a budget, as usual! 😉

The FOOD!  Keeping it light…

For your celebration, you might want to consider challenging yourself to come up with a slightly healthier menu, starting with a lighter hotdog.  Then, some unique twists on old favorites like corn on the cob.  I call this recipe “Crunchy Corn on the Cob”.  Instead of rolling it in butter,  sprinkle it with crushed blue corn chips (blue) and a touch of chunky sea salt (white) and paprika (red).  Do this right after the corn leaves the pan, using the hot water (instead of butter) to help the crushed chips stick to the corn.  You won’t believe how incredibly tasty this is and how well the two flavors & textures go together!  Accenting the corn with the flavor of fresh cilantro was yummy too!   And check out how cute Patriotic Skewers work as holders for the corn.

Create a “bite-size” salad with Caprese’ Skewers.  Add another “patriotic twist” with a single blueberry at the end of the fresh basil leaf, mozzarella ball and cherry tomato lineup.  Place the ingredients on Patriotic Pinwheel Skewers (Pier One) for some patriotic pizzazz!  Finally, drizzle a Balsamic Glaze and sprinkle fresh herbs to keep taste high and calories low.

The dessert’s main ingredient is an old family recipe – Amoretto Fruit Cream.  It’s very similar to the one featured court-side at England’s famous Wimbledon Tennis matches, which take place around the U.S.A.’s Independence Day.  So, why not let the fruit cream pull double-duty for you by having a Wimbledon party & serving strawberries & cream?  Check out the RECIPE section of my blog for the super, simple details and directions.  You’ll never serve the old marshmallow-y stuff again! LOL   To drive your theme home even more, add the unexpected – a little, sugary sweet in the center.  I used a patriotic flag cupcake accent (found in the boxed cake section of most grocery chains) and served it all over a slice of Angel Food Loaf Cake (check the bakery dept. of your local grocery store).  


Keep things simple & low-cal by serving water and iced tea.  I found cute patriotic straws (also at Pier 1) and created a hole in the center of a strawberry, to push a straw through, for another decorative touch.  To add some patriotic flair to a dispenser of iced tea, use a shape mold to create “star” ice cubes, in red and blue [note:  juices melt, so if you’re going to use them in clear water, stick to 1 color because mixing colors can give it a murky look].  You’ll find this star mold at most craft stores.  I used a 50% off coupon so my cost was only $5.00.  And since I LOVE two-fers, wouldn’t this be perfect to use during Christmas too?  🙂


A party favor is extra fun & easy when you follow the lead of a theme (enlarge photo to see note card).  The note card sets up the idea behind this favor: “SNAP”  represents small fireworks, “CRACKLE” – is represented by 2 different kinds of sparklers and “POP” – a blue, over-sized blow pop.  Also, knowing how hot it can be, at outdoor parties, a hand “FAN” is a great item to include for your guest’s (individual) comfort.  To create one, cut out the flat, center circle of a sturdy, patriotic theme, paper plate.  When done, glue a wooden tongue depressor to the back.  P.S.  Don’t throw away the leftover paper plate’s outer ring… I have a fun idea for that too!

All of these goodies fit perfectly into a tall, plastic, patriotic container (Wal-Mart Party Dept. – 97 cents) and there’s no need to fill it all the way – just pop a small, red potato in the bottom of each to weight it down.   Wrap the finished favor in clear plastic, add a bow and the “theme” note card (click HERE for a printable version of the theme note card I created for mine).  For apx. $3.00 each, you have a festive party favor that’s not only colorful, but also completely “interactive”!


Check party stores and the Dollar Tree for inexpensive decorations.  I found these paper lanterns and pinwheels at PARTY CITY, for $14 (total).  For the price, they really add a punch of color to a picnic setting.  Be sure to check out my up-cycled thrift store chandelier idea because it looks great in this setting!

Consider a 2nd (side) table to hold and display your dessert, drinks, plastic-ware, etc.  This is also a great place to use your party favors to help you decorate (double-duty!)  More decorating ideas:  a rustic Uncle Sam (made from a fence post) and flag.  The flag is made by wrapping a large piece of foam core board with inexpensive muslin fabric, which is pulled to the back and stapled in place.  For the stripes, untwist lengths of red “twist paper ribbon”.  To create the star, glue white buttons onto a piece of dark blue construction paper.  Once everything is glued into place and dry, spray paint a light coat of “Wood Tone” by Design Master (a thinned-down brown paint), over the entire project, to give it an aged look.

Utilize cake plates, everyday plates and vases from around the house to create varying height on your table… a great technique that caterers use.  It creates visual interest and saves space!

Check discount stores for inexpensive tablecloths.  I found these at Big Lots ($3.25).  The color POP is fantastic and they coordinated perfectly with my hanging decorations.

And doesn’t it seem like every patriotic table-scape you come across features a geranium?  I love how they look also, but they have gotten expensive, so check out all of the other red, summer, flowering plants in the garden shop.  I found this Lantana for 1/3 the cost!

As promised… the reason you saved the outer rings of the paper plates is because nothing goes to waste in The Seasonal Home!  Overlap the ends and staple or tape it back together, to create a circle/ring.  It makes a fun, patriotic hat.

Imagine some of your party-goers wearing these hats while holding their sparklers… turning themselves into the famous MISS LIBERTY herself!

Enjoy the Creativity!


Art Sale Alert!

When I find a nice product at a great price, I like to share…

Summer is the longest season of all and it’s the time when I take a break from seasonal decorating.  During these 4 months, I display simple, happy, cozy and/or functional things on my mantels and save up my creativity for the holidays ahead.

For several months, I’ve been considering an art purchase as something simple to hang above my family room fireplace mantel.  Specifically, I’ve been eying a print at Pier 1, titled “Happy Tree” because it is the perfect complement to my area rug.  This print already had a budget-friendly price, but once I noticed it on sale, I was off to Pier 1 immediately!  I love it when they have a sale because I love their merchandise.  As a matter of fact, it’s a good thing that I don’t work there because I would never take my paycheck home ;-).Their “Happy Tree” print measures 24″ x 24″ and is available in 4 different background colors, so you could also choose 3 or all to display together, vertically or horizontally.  The original price was $29.99 and now, it’s only $19.99.   To compare  – on-line, the cost to purchase a BLANK 24″ x 24″ canvas ranges from $33 – $39, so this is a great deal if you like the print and the price works with your budget.   Another thing I liked about this print – if some of the colors (on the tree branches) don’t work perfectly for you, but the background color does, simply grab some acrylic paint, a brush and change them (LOL)!  Here’s how it looks in my family room ….

Enjoy the Creativity!


Recycling to create an Outdoor Chandelier

This is what I started with – a $4.98 chandelier from a thrift store

And here’s how I took it apart to turn it into an outdoor chandelier

Avoid rust (from moisture inside cups) by coating with hot glue and then time to paint!

Hang your new recycled creation wherever you need some beautiful, (non-electric) eco-friendly, outdoor lighting to create instant ambiance and…

ENJOY!   🙂

Spring Garden Project

Do you have some mis-matched plates, saucers, bowls, cups or votive cups tucked way in the back of your cabinets?  Or, maybe you have a chipped or cracked plate that you inherited from a relative and just can’t throw away?  Even if you don’t have any of these items, you can still enjoy the following project, I saw at my local garden shop, by shopping for the ingredients at thrift stores or garage sales and the end result will be an adorable keepsake for your garden.

When looking for the ingredients to make these flowers, the best combination is typically a dinner-size plate, bowl, tea cup, votive cup, old vase or salt-cellar.  Tap into your own style & creativity, however, keep in mind that coordinating colors makes for the best & most attractive combination.  Also consider colored glass (as one of the pieces) to create the most artistic drama in the sunlight.

Sometimes, people drill holes in the center of each ingredient and then bolt them together, however, it is much easier to glue each of the ingredients together using a weatherproof, clear adhesive called GE silicone II for Windows & Doors.  The flowers above were professionally made and the artist went to the trouble of crafting green metal leaves to weld onto a green metal stem, but that is totally beyond my own capability and I’m guessing yours as well.  So my solution is to purchase re bar (available at hardware stores) and spray paint it green.  I also love the ease (shown in photo on right) of gluing a small, straight-sided vase to the back plate of your flower (upside down) so your creation can be easily propped on top of your newly green, re bar stem before placing it in the garden.

Some helpful hints: 

  • ONLY work in a well-ventilated area (like outside)
  • Protect your work surface
  • Have a cloth rag handy to wipe any excess glue, especially off of you (lol)
  • Practice first!  Put your combinations together, before gluing, until you are happy with the completed flower look you create
  • As you place your combinations together, use chalk, a pencil or masking tape to mark around the outside of each area where the glue will attach, so you won’t have to re-position the pieces
  • Apply the adhesive to the back of each piece, at the highest, protruding point
  • Press each piece gently & firmly in place and wait at least 10-15 minutes between placements for the silicone adhesive to set up.  If it doesn’t set up in apx. 10-15 minutes, it may be old and you should return it to the store.
  • Wait 48 hours before placing the finished flower in the garden.  Use this time to spray paint your re bar green!
  • Consider using several different lengths of re bar to create different flower heights in your garden

Below are some closeups, you can click on to see a larger view and more detail.  Hopefully, they will inspire your own creations… they certainly inspired me! 🙂


Enjoy the Creativity!


Easy S’more Amore’!

It’s SUMMER!  And that means… trips to the beach, cookouts and camping trips.  What do all 3 of those activities have in common – roasting marshmallows and making S’mores! 

Lately, things seems to be getting BIGGER and evidently marshmallows aren’t any exception.  I found 2 new fun products in the store.

One is this package of GIANT ROASTER MARSHMALLOWS.  These are definitely big (think Stay Puff Marshmallow Man) and would be much easier to skewer AND remove after the trusty campfire has worked its magic!  At the very least, they’ll make your edible Snowman creations much easier, this Christmas!

Click on photo for directions

And if you enjoy making S’mores, then here’s the perfect product for those (are you also asking yourself why no one thought of these before?)… STACKER MARSHMALLOWS!

CLICK for s'more ideas on

Just imagine how easy this product will make your next batch of S’mores.

Finally, if you’re planning a Summer dinner party instead of a cookout, consider the Adult S’more recipe I found in the Recipe Box of (right click on any of the website-linked photos to choose “open in new window” so you won’t leave this page):

CLICK on photo for recipe at

Enjoy the Creativity!

Ideas for your Summer Yard

During the summer, flowers are the “star” of the show.  And it’s so much fun to explore new flowers (hybrids on the market) as well as display ideas, so here are a few suggestions, from The Seasonal Home, for you to try…

First of all, because there are 4 Patriotic holidays surrounding summertime (Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Labor Day), it’s nice to have something (on display) in patriotic colors.  Here is a display of Plumbago (blue flower) and the new red shade of Vinca together.  Both are pretty heat/sun tolerant, so they are a perfect pairing for the summer.

I also love geraniums during the summer, and here they are potted on The Seasonal Home’s front porch…

Finally, here is a fun way to display flowers inside inexpensive aluminum pails, available at most DIY stores (the most reasonable I found were at Lowes) –

CLICK on photo to visit website

The creative part is using wrought iron hangers, in multiples, to display several of them in a row.

Creative FUN with Old Fashioned Apothecary Jars

I was inspired to add this post to my blog by one of the wonderful participants on my Facebook Community Page (THE SEASONAL HOME).  Like me, she is finding ways to create seasonal magic with the help of some old fashioned Apothecary Jars.

It used to be true that the only place you could find these vintage jars was in an antique shop, left over from a time when 5 & 10 cent store owners and compounding pharmacists utilized these versatile gems.  Later, homemakers put them to good use in the pantry for staples like flour, sugar, etc.   However, with their recent increase in popularity, home decor manufacturers have jumped on board and created replicas (of all types), which are showing up in stores, making them very easy to find.

What’s so great about these nostalgic jars is that they come in all sizes, colors, heights & widths and are typically, very reasonable (around $10+/-).  So basically, whatever your space and decor needs are, there’s a jar out there to match it!  I have about 7 or 8 different sizes and shapes and I use them to help me decorate for the seasons and for utilitarian purposes too.  Below are a few photos of my jars in use.  I hope they inspire you to try them out!


to view more detail

Fall Gourds

Display in Multiples!

Christmas Houses

Display a holiday ornament


Candy Container (creating an old-fashioned store-type of display)

Display a holiday house

Use your jar as part of a seasonal arrangement, on a shelf or table. This arrangement really brightens the bottom shelf of this foyer table.


Contain bath samples in your guest bath

Theme your jar contents to highlight a memorable photo

And for even more creative ideas, check out the ABOUT THE AUTHOR page!

A+ Treasure for an A+ Teacher

Make and display my sweet Back-to-School wreath in your own home until school starts and then give it to a deserving educator to display in their classroom. They’ll love you AND your creativity!

Also, please keep it in mind that some teachers struggle to purchase school supplies as much as parents do, for their children.  I love to stop by my local school early in the summer to donate an armful of bulletin board and room decorations (which the Dollar Tree now carries) as well as a few other inexpensive supplies. Imagine the relief a brand new or struggling teacher might feel to receive your anonymously donated goodies!

CLICK on photo to view Wreath details

You will need:

  • 24-36” Grapevine Wreath
  • 5 yards of Red and White Gingham Wired Ribbon
  • Silk Greenery
  • White Silk Daisies
  • Preserved Plumosis Fern
  • Artificial Red Berry Clusters
  • Unfinished Chalk Board (available at discount or craft stores)
  • Acrylic White Craft Paint
  • Acrylic White Dimensional Craft Paint (with pointed dispenser cap)
  • School-theme Wood Miniatures
  • Low-melt Glue Gun
  • Glue Sticks
  • Thin-gauge Wire


Paint the frame around the chalkboard white. Using the dimensional paint, draw “1 + 1 = 2” and “ABC” on the chalkboard surface. While that is drying, use the glue gun to attach the silk greenery around the entire front side of the wreath. Next, create 2 bows (1 larger & with longer tails than the other) from the wired ribbon. Cut 2 pieces of thin wire, long enough to keep the created bows together and attach them to the wreath.
Attach the larger bow to the wreath at (picturing the face of a clock) 1:00, attach the smaller bow at 5:30.  Attach the wood, school theme miniatures to the (now dry) chalkboard and glue it to the 9:00 area on the front of the wreath. Hot glue the fern, flowers and berries throughout the wreath’s open, unbowed areas and you’re done!

Later in the school year, maybe around the holidays, you could gift your child’s teacher with a few small, silver frames (from your local Dollar Tree store), in which you’ve inserted photos that reflect fun or special moments with her class.  Then, these can then be wired on to the wreath (be sure every student is reflected in a photo).  Doing this will automatically recycle your wreath gift, making it seem brand new to the teacher as well as her class and you’ll be the star for very little money!

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