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Sending Love & Prayers

Being in the heart of areas that have either faced severe (and sometimes) catastrophic damage is devastating, but it can also be disheartening to those preparing for storms to hit or even for those watching from the sidelines.

It is during this time that we must not forget our faith or our resilience.  We are all more capable than we may feel are.  Trust me, I know.  Too often I flim-flam between ‘I got this’ and “I can’t do this’. It is during the latter times that I must reach deep within me an remember I have been through hard times before and I made it though.  I’m sure many of you reading this know that feeling.

So we just want to encourage you during this difficult time. Do not despair, do not isolate yourself…reach out!

Be safe and God Bless!

Sending Love and Prayers

Ideas, Inspiration, LoveNotes

Ideas: 20 Fun Outdoor Nighttime Activities to try with your kids

It’s really fun finding things to do outside with the kids and grandkids during the day, especially as the weather warms up in the Spring or the weather cools down in the fall. And while daytime activities are plentiful, sometimes it’s not as easy to come up with things to do during twilight or evening hours so I created a list of possibilities.

Here’s a quick run down of the activities.  If you need more instructions…keep reading! Plus don’t miss two fun bonus ideas at the end!

Nighttime fun with kids!

 

1. Flashlight tag: this one is simple enough. One child gets to be “it”… the others run around like crazy trying to avoid getting “hit” by the light. Whoever is “hit” by the light is out, (unless, of course, they make it to “base”.) This continues until every kid is out. Last one out is “it” and game play starts all over.

2. Flashlight Limbo: This one works best with a smaller flashlight with a more streamlined beam. Just like regular limbo, the goal is to go under the Limbo light without touching it. Touch the light and you’re out! Play the song “Limbo Rock” in the background for even more fun!

3. Catch & Chase the Light: This is the reverse of Flashlight tag. In this version of the game the person who is “it” tried to avoid the other players who are trying to “catch the light”. No rules here they can jump in front of it or catch it with their head, hands feet etc. you may want to have a referee handy to make sure they kids are playing safely and there’s no cheating.

4. Chase & Catch each other’s Shadows: Every player will need a flashlight for this one. Players create shadows of other players and do their best to “catch” them. Again, just like Catch the Light it doesn’t matter how they “catch” them so long as some part of their body is touching a shadow. This would also make a great game for teams. Teams can strategize the best way to capture their opponent’s shadows.

5. Shadow Puppets: I remember being a kid and my mom or dad would make shadow animals on the wall. I found it so fascinating. Fast forward many years later and children everywhere are still fascinated by these fun and simple to do hand puppets. A simple search online for “shadow puppets” will reveal websites and videos to help you.

6. “Spooky Faces”: Using a flashlight, make spooky faces around a campfire while telling scary stories. Just hold the flashlight under your chin and let the shadows dance on your face.

7. “Shadow Theater”: Use a white sheet strung from two opposite sides and place a lamp or large flashlight behind it. Anyone standing behind the sheet and in front of the lamp will create a shadow against the sheet. Let the kids experiment getting closer the lamp (which makes them appear bigger) and getting closer to the sheet(which makes them appear smaller). They can also create flat paper puppets and other shapes that will also appear

8. Glow Stick Hide and Seek: This one is a favorite of my grandkids and can keep them occupied for a very long time! Get a glow stick, the larger ones are best, and hide it somewhere in the yard and let them find it.

9. Glow Stick Dance Party: Have your own clean version of a “rave party”.  This will be so much fun with different colored glow sticks as bracelets and necklaces worn stacked high. As a pre-party activity let the kids make their own t-shirts using glow in the dark fabric paint.  add even more fun to the party with non-toxic glow-in-the-dark powders they can toss at each other while dancing around. Hook up the music and watch the magic happen!

10. “Hot Peas and Butter”: Before the game begins, ask the children to pick an area that will act as Homebase. Then, just like Glow Stick Hide and Seek, this game requires that the stick is hidden by the person who is “it” while the other children look away.  Once the stick is well hidden the person who is “it” yells- “Hot peas and butter come and get your supper!”  The other kids come running and try to find the hidden glow stick.  The person who is “it” lets them know how close they are by saying: “You’re cold” if they’re not even close or “You’re warm” if they’re getting closer.  If a player is really close they say “You’re hot!”. This continues until a player finds the glow stick, now they’re “it”. The player then tries to tag another person to be “it” before everyone else gets to back to HomeBase.

11.  Catch fireflies (then let them go): This one is relatively easy.  I recommend clear plastic jars for the children’s safety and an adult can put some holes in the cap for air flow.  Just make sure to let them go afterward since fireflies will not last in captivity.

12. Outdoor Movie Night: If you have a projector and a sheet, this one can be great fun for the whole neighborhood!  If not, an inexpensive portable DVD player, a tablet, laptop or even a smartphone will do- as long as the family is together and cuddled up!

13. Make smores and share stories or songs around a campfire in the backyard:  Making a backyard fire is relatively easy.  If you’re not sure how to do it, a quick search will yield pages of how-to’s and you can even find some on Youtube.  Be sure to check with your city’s ordinances on open fires before you begin.  If you are able to make a fire, be sure to follow safety precautions – especially when dealing with children.  I also suggest that before you begin to make your smores that you prepare by creating individual baggies filled with the smores ingredients (Marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers) ahead of time or if you’d prefer, just fill the baggies with marshmallows to roast.  The individual baggies keep arguing to a minimum (because everything is distributed equally.) Although part of the fun is finding your own stick, you may want to have roasting sticks ready to go.  Remember, little ones will need adult supervision with this one. Enjoy!

14. Glow in the dark bowling, basketball, soccer, or volleyball ( be creative): These days it’s not too hard to find glow-in-the-dark sports balls, but if you can’t there’s always glow in the dark paint! you can even get packs to colored glow sticks and each team can be their own color. Go ahead, get your favorite ball and have some fun!

15. *Stargazing* or a Constellation/Planet Hunt: Laying in the grass, or on a rooftop, looking up at the stars is fun all by itself – I know – I do it often.  You can add to the fun by learning about the constellations and the planets (Venus, being the brightest) then together go on a “hunt” for them!  Make it fun…first one to find 5 wins a snacky prize!

16. “Capture The Flag” Game: One of my kids favorite game to play is Black Ops on the computer.  One year we decided to make the game come to life “Capture the Flag” style.  You’ll need two teams and a base area for each of them.  Make flags for your teams ( or let them do it themselves with some glow in the dark paint). Place flags in the center of “base” for each team.  The flags should be visible.  The goal is each team captures the other team’s flag.  Whichever team accomplishes the goal first – Wins! The way to add a Black Ops twist is to add in some key elements: Water guns, water balloons(grenades). silly string (or a net) to capture opponents and  flashlights or glow sticks to act as light bombs ( to temporarily freeze opponents.)  Discuss the rules before game play then Capture that Flag!

17. Do a Nature Walk: Ever notice how the neighborhood looks completely different at night? Night time is a neat way to show the kids the difference. Nighttime is also a unique time to listen for animal sounds or look for nocturnal animals because there are animals that are rarely seen or heard during the day.

18. Nighttime Hide & Seek: Just like regular Hide and Seek, except this game is best played in a closed in area where it is safe for children to wander around and hide.  If your backyard or your neighbor’s backyard has a bunch of trees or places to hide – go for it!

19. Nighttime “Marco Polo” (not in the pool): This is a fun variation on the summertime pool game “Marco Polo”.  Blindfold whoever is “it”.  The other players all hide.  The person who is “it” calls out, “Marco” and the other players call out “Polo” in an attempt to help the blindfolded person find them. The first person found and captured is now ‘it’ and gameplay restarts.  Be sure to remove any debris or large items in the area to keep the child tagged as ‘it’ safe from injury.

20 Nighttime Treasure Hunt: Using glow in the dark items, (simple toys painted with glow in the dark paint or wrapped in glow sticks will work fine) hide them throughout your yard and invite the kids to come find them.  You can take it a step further by creating a treasure map they can to follow to one big treasure- or- tie each item with string and wrap the string throughout the yard.  Let the kids follow their string with a flashlight. This idea is great for birthday parties since at the end of the string they will find their treasure -a party favor bag, perhaps?

BONUS IDEAS

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Bonus Idea #1: Sparklers!! Who doesn’t just love sparklers?! Whether you just let the kids hold them and dance around with them or get extra fancy with your camera and take pictures of them creating designs and words, sparklers definitely make for nighttime fun with kids!

Bonus Idea #2: Outdoor Painting!  Our team learned first hand how much fun it can be to paint out side at night!  Check it out here: “Moonlight Painting in the Park”©

We hope you enjoyed this! Let us know in the comments if you’ve tried any of these ideas!

DIY, Tutorials

Wooden Plaque Redo

dandelion pic

I was given a nice set of wooden plaques/pictures similar to the ones pictured above.  I liked them, but they didn’t quite fit my decor.  Have you ever had that issue before?   Well, I decided to do something about it and it was easier than you might think…
You will need some supplies, like:
~ Spray on Primer
~ A quart or smaller container of a water based enamel paint in your choice of color(s)
&/or a Spray Paint color or your choice.  If you choose to use spray paint be sure to choose one one that coats with one coat.  I chose one of each.
~ Another color for accent
~ 1″-2″ paintbrush – don’t get a cheap one or you may have issues with the bristles falling off, making your work harder.
~ Smaller paint brushes for detailing
~ A Container to hold water for clean-up
~ Paper towels or a rag
**If you have little ones around – something to keep them entertained
(I’m a mom so first priority is to keep the little one entertained…  I chose paper and watercolor paints:)

 

The first thing you’ll want to do is prime all the plaques with two coats of the spray on primer. The key is to do thin even layers, from top to bottom – only slightly overlapping the layer before it.  Do not spray on too heavily or the paint will puddle or drip.  Follow the directions on the can.  Spray in an open area – cover anything you do not want to be damaged by the overspray.  You can also use a brush on primer, but it may take longer to dry.  Apply the second coat like the first.

 

For my plaques, I had two smaller plaques and two longer ones.  The longer plaques had small mirrors but I chose to spray over them.  Otherwise, I would have covered each mirror individually with tape.  It was more work than I wanted to put in.  For the smaller plaques, I spray painted them a nice aqua bluish color using the same technique I used with the primer – making sure I waited for each layer to dry.

 

Next, I used my paintbrush and enamel to paint the longer plaques red.  Just a word of caution here – do not use too much paint.  As I mentioned before, the plaques had mirrors, so there were deep “wells” where the mirrors sat and paint can puddle in these areas.  I used the smaller paint brushes to spread the paint around when this happened.

After I applied one layer I allowed it to dry before applying the second layer. This is
such harder than using spray paint since you can get brush strokes.  If you prefer a smoother finish, I suggest spray paint.

 

I then touched up any edges or areas that didn’t have paint or needed a touch-up.

Lastly, I got out the gold paint and began doing the accents.  To be honest, this part was the most tedious, so much so, I stopped midway through.  One of my daughter’s finished the job though and then hung up our lovely paintings next to one of my original pieces of art!

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Voila!

Picture8Oh, Aiko the crafty dog helped with this one…

I hope you liked this tutorial if you have any questions or have something you’d like to add – just leave us a comment below.  Also, let us know what other kinds of tutorials you’d like to see!

DIY, Floral, Tutorials

Floral/Silk – Fancy Ribbon Wrap on a Silk Wedding Bouquet

On occasion, I do have the wonderful opportunity to create floral designs, both fresh and artificial for weddings.  On this occasion, the bride had a very specific request for royal blue flowers and she wanted a fancy ribbon wrap, which can be difficult to achieve with silks because of their very thin stems.

Luckily, I found a solution! (There are “pre-made” holders you can purchase. I, however, found this to be a prettier solution.)

For this bouquet you will need the following:

~ Wire cutters
~ Floral Tape
~ Hot Glue Gun and hot glue sticks
~ Scissors
~ 2 paper towel tubes
~ Tissue paper or newspaper wrap
~ 1 roll of medium width decorative satin ribbon – the smaller the width, the more you will need and the wider widths are awkward to work with.
~ 2 bunches of silk flowers, any color – bloomed roses are the best if you want to do a rounded bouquet as shown here.

~optional – decorative feathers and rhinestones for the bouquet base and additional rhinestones to decorate the rose centers.

*This tutorial requires an intermediate to advanced knowledge of floral design since I will not be showing you how to create the bouquet from the beginning.

To begin, remove all the stems from the plastic bases.  Remove excess leaves from the stems. Then wrap each rose with floral tape.  I also suggest carefully gluing the flowers/roses to their stems, since they tend to pop off.

Once wrapped, arrange the flowers in desired bouquet shape.  I chose a rounded bouquet shape. Trim the bottoms of the stems so they are even and short enough to hold comfortably. Using floral tape, tape the stems together and set aside.

 

 

Next, take one of your paper towel tubes and measure the length you want your bouquet to be and add one inch. (Don’t make it too short or you won’t be able to see your design – too long and it will look and feel awkward). Once you have your desired length, cut straight across taking care not to flatten the tube.   Now on one end cut four slits into the tube.  Fold the slits over each other as shown in the picture below.  Glue in place.

 

 

Cut a two-inch piece of ribbon and fold it over the bottom of the folded tube, as shown. Glue down the ends. Now wrap the remainder of the tube with ribbon, starting from the bottom.

 

 

Flatten the second tube and then fold in half, cut slightly shorter than the length of the bouquet stems.  Wrap the flattened tube around the stems of the bouquet, hold firmly in place. Wrap paper around the flattened tube – this acts as a filler. (Trust me, you’ll want the folded tube since it will expand once inside the first tube and make the fit even tighter.)

Place the bouquet with the paper wrap all the way into the first tube.  The tube should reach all the way to the top, if not cut the stems on the bouquet shorter.  The decorative ribbon should be just under the base of the flowers.

Once it fits correctly, place hot glue inside the tube to keep the bouquet in place. If you’d prefer, you can carefully remove the bouquet and cover the paper with glue.  Just be careful not to burn yourself or get glue on your pretty ribbon.

 

 

Now that it’s firmly in place you add your decorations to the “front” of your holder.  I used a combination of feather and rhinestone decorations.

 

 

Finally, check one last time that the bouquet is firmly in place by carefully holding it upside down.  If it’s not, glue it some more. Finally, accent your bouquet with rhinestones.  I just added one to the center of each rose.

As an added bonus for the bride, I took some extra flowers and made a mini toss bouquet.  I just wrapped the stems with the left over ribbon.

We hope you liked this tutorial. If you have any questions or have something you’d like to add – just leave us a comment below.  Also, let us know what other kinds of tutorials you’d like to see!

 

DIY, Floral, Tutorials

Silk Graveside Flowers

Occasionally, I am asked to make artificial flower arrangements for different occasions. In this case, I made four matching graveside memorial arrangements – two in pink and two in blue.  This a quick is a quick tutorial on how I made them.

(*Please note: this is for those with Intermediate to Advanced skills in floral design since there aren’t any step by step instructions for the actual design. If you would like to learn how to create one of your own and need more instruction, email us and let us know you’d like to take a class.)

To start with you’ll need:
2 bunches of artificial flowers – preferably one with a mix of flowers
Foam for artificial flowers
wire cutters
hot glue and a hot glue gun
long wood picks
Plastic Graveside flower holder
Scissors/ or a utility knife
breathing mask (not shown)


To start you’ll need a stable place to put your floral holder. In my case, I work on a desk made from a reclaimed door so my holder fits right inside the old doorknob hole.

Using the edge of your scissors or your utility knife, you’ll want to take a piece of the foam and shave it down to fit inside the holder… let me warn you this is VERY messy. You’ll want to want to wear a breathing mask since the small particles get everywhere.

With your wire cutters, begin to cut the flowers off of the bunch – be sure to leave the greenery on since this will cover most of your mechanics.  If some of the stems have extra greenery remove it- again these will serve to cover the foam and mechanics afterward.

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Decide where you want to place your flowers.  If they are not tall enough you’ll need to extend them with your wooden sticks, either way, each stem will need a wood stick so that they do not spin in the foam.  If the sticks are too long just cut them with your wire cutter.  Also, do not worry about wrapping the sticks with tape since these arrangements are meant to be placed outside.

Once you’re happy with the design and where you want to put the flowers – place them in the foam.  **Make sure you decide where you want to place the flowers before you begin sticking them into the foam since the foam is fragile and you will have a very small space to work with.  With all the flowers in place, use the glue gun to glue them into the foam. Use the extra leaves to cover any exposed foam.

 

Voila, your arrangement is ready to be placed graveside!

We hope you liked this tutorial. If you have any questions or have something you’d like to add – just leave us a comment below.  Also, let us know what other kinds of tutorials you’d like to see!

LoveNotes

Where Is Your Joy?

The news these days is filled with so many bad messages and bad reports that I don’t watch it at all. Even on my Facebook page, I have to scroll through, or sometimes block, the many negative images that try to inundate my feed. Plus, if you’re a believer and you know what the Word says, it’s hard to bypass the fact that we are truly entering into the end times.  With all of this coming at us it’s easy to despair and allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by it all.  I know I have.

Recently, however, while I was praying, I heard the Lord say -‘Where is your Joy?’

The Word says… “The Joy of the Lord is our strength”  (Neh 8:10).  It also says “Rejoice in the Lord…Always” (Phil 4:4) and by always He means ALWAYS, but I know first hand how hard that can be.  Yet, the Lord in His Love and His Mercy is showing me that it’s okay to be joy-full because it’s all a part of His plan and His plan is always for our ultimate good.

So, I had to do some soul-searching and some research.  I prayed and asked for guidance and understanding, but most of all I asked for assistance in finding His Peace and His Joy in the midst of what appears to be pure chaos.  I found a book that seems to be helping me understand Revelations/prophecy better it’s called “The Merciful God of Prophecy” by Tim LaHaye, the writer of the Left Behind series.  While I haven’t finished it yet, I can say it’s very encouraging.

That’s why I’m writing today and going back to writing in general.  The first step in finding Joy (after receiving Christ) is serving others and I hope that through my obedience in writing, I am serving anyone that stops by this blog and is in need of an encouraging word or just food for thought.

See just like all of you, I go through hard times and I have moments when things aren’t the way I want them to be or the way I think they should be, but that’s when I have to turn to the source of all and remember: HE HAS A PLAN. It’s not easy, I know, to trust the plan, especially when you don’t know all the details and that’s okay.  Just know that all will unfold just as it’s supposed to.  Your job is to keep your eyes focused on the “prize” and find Joy in the midst of it all.  Encourage a friend or stranger, have dinner with your family, listen to a baby laugh or scroll through pictures of animals with funny faces; whatever you need to do, just find a way to smile and know that our Father in heaven loves us (yes, even you) and He loves to see us smile.

If you’re going through something today, know that you didn’t stumble on this post by accident.  I pray that our all knowing, all merciful God will help you find your way back to letting Joy into your life, again.  Children don’t need a reason to smile, they just do. I pray you find that child-like part of yourself and see the bright side of life, again. In Jesus, name, I pray. Amen.

If you’re one of those people that have the Joy of the Lord always or you always see the bright side of things – Great! Now, share some that with the rest of us!

Either way, Be Blessed!woman-570883_1280