Annual “WELCOME FALL!” Picnic

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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!

EILEEN

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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!

ENJOY THE CREATIVITY!

Eileen

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).  

The BEVERAGES!

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?  🙂

PARTY FAVORS!  

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”!

Time to DECORATE!

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!

Eileen

http://www.TheSeasonalHome.com


Budget Wedding Idea

June is still the most popular month for weddings, so I thought now would be a good time to share this idea, as inspiration for anyone with a super-tight wedding budget.

A friend of mine was making plans to renew her wedding vows.  She envisioned the ceremony taking place, under the vine-covered arbor, in the back yard of another friend and asked for my help dressing it up.

She was definitely on a tight budget (ahhhh… I love a challenge!), so we assessed what each of us already had to use and what else might be needed to turn the arbor into a sanctuary for their ceremony.  One friend had a white, paper aisle runner (from her own wedding), a pedestal table (to hold the ceremony items), and I had a few white paper bells.  Also, I went by a warehouse store (COSTCO) to purchase one of their fabulous 50-yard rolls of wired ribbon and we were set!

I cut the aisle runner to hang one-half on the front & the other half on the back (of the arbor).  Next, I made several bows for accenting the white paper runner and paper bells and Viola’!  A backyard ceremony site was set.  Simple and beautiful!

I used the leftover scraps of ribbon to create rose petals, placed them in the skirt of a piece of statuary (I found in the yard) and then moved it near the walkway/aisle – instant flower girl! 😉

Sometimes, I wish more couples would consider holding their weddings at home.  There’s no pressure, no rules… just love and togetherness.  Oh, and the final total to ready the arbor (for the wedding ceremony) was merely the price of the ribbon $8!   I think the next photo demonstrates the grace that was bestowed on my friend and her hubby that day.  Congrats to them both for a long, wonderful marriage together, with wishes for many more years of wedded bliss!

Enjoy the creativity!

Eileen

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!   🙂

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!

Eileen

Recycle a Furniture Castoff into a Creative Potting Bench

This project turned out to be one of my favorites!   A month ago, I potted some veggies and created a space for them, on the side of my house.  As I was running between my garage and vegetable garden (to bring tools, fertilizer, potting soil, pruners and gloves to the garden, as needed), I realized how nice it would be to have a potting bench with some storage.   I also knew that it was not a project I could build myself and didn’t feel it was so necessary to spend considerable money on it either.  So, I went back to my love of recycling and repurposing and hit the garage sales, one fine Saturday.  As luck would have it, I struck gold my first time out and found an older IKEA desk top for only $4.00.

It had a work surface and plenty of storage, including dry storage (in the form of a cubby with a door), which I knew would be the perfect spot to store my garden gloves, to keep them out of the weather.

STEP #1 – a light sanding with a fine grade of sand paper, making sure I hit all surfaces, corners and crevices!

STEP #2 – remove the dust created by sanding with a slightly damp cloth.

STEP #3 – I chose a green, semi-gloss acrylic paint so my potting & storage bench would blend into the background.  However, I also gave it a sense of fun by free-painting some flowers, fauna and garden creatures to dress it up and express my creativity, using some leftover bottles of acrylic craft paint I had.  (paint used – apx. $7.00)    I have to say this was my favorite part of the project.  Not only did I enjoy the zen-ness while painting on my own, but when the adorable children I live next to caught a glimpse of what I was doing, they joined in and added a little of their own artistry.  It didn’t matter that we ended up with a hot pink & orange flower or a blue butterfly because it was simply a fun day for all of us!

Here is the result of our creative art —

POTTING BENCH - Left Side

POTTING BENCH - Left Side

POTTING BENCH TOP

POTTING BENCH - Right Side

THE FINISHED PROJECT!

STEP #4 – Drill a small hole for an inexpensive (87 cents) pink ceramic, weatherproof knob for the cabinet door and seal the potting bench with INDOOR/OUTDOOR Helmsman Spar Urethane ($10) to protect my finished project from the weather and elements.  Because the cabinet is such an inexpensive piece of furniture, it’s made from compressed wood particle board with a laminate cover.  I think the weather will eventually take its toll on my sweet potting bench, but the clear satin sealant should buy me a couple of seasons at least, I hope!  PROJECT TOTAL -apx. $22.00.

The bench is so useful because it has already saved me many back & forth trips to the garage for garden tools and necessities.  Now, they are all close by and at hand and SOOOO convenient!

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