Fourth Celebration

The Fourth of July in America is a special holiday-it’s the day we celebrate our birth as a nation.  While we’ve come a long way since our birth, we have a long way to go before we create an America the founding fathers would be pleased with.  This Fourth, have some food, decorations and fun with your friends and family.


Family Fun shares star cookies, red white & blue ice cream sandwiches, red white & blue fruit salad, Uncle Sam ice cream cones, patriotic ice pops, and a patriotic drink.

Kaboose shares orange creme popsicles, iced peach tea with blueberries, red & blue “popsicles“, and personal red white & blue trifles.

Martha shares summer shortcake, fruit & cheesecake flag, red white and blue parfaits, and vanilla cabinets with fresh fruit.

King Arthur shares lemon-blueberry trifles, and Food Network shares a Fourth of July cocktail.

Fireworks, Stars & Decorations

Awesome punch cup idea for saving cups as well as decorating and personalizing, starry luminaries, string of stars, American cross stitch, patriotic window clings, knitted napkin rings, place cards, fourth tray, star table runner, star table runner, star glasses, and bandana party invites.


Rocket balloons, star stilts, a flag flag, and flag tag from Family Fun.

Patriotic toss game from JoAnn, holiday lanterns from Martha Stewart, and bubble wands from Better Homes & Gardens.

Are you ready to celebrate the Fourth of July, Independence Day?  I’m not quite ready yet, so stay tuned Friday for a family-friendly post too.

Summer Fun for the Kids

If you’ve got kids, you know they’re off for the summer, they’re probably yelling and playing in the background now.  If you haven’t had a chance to think of what you’re going to do with them for the next two months, here are some of my favorite ideas.

-magazines of all kinds are a great distraction.  Not only can kids put beautiful collages together, you can also get fun craft ideas from magazines like Oriental Trading, Country Home, SmileMakers and other crafty magazines.  So don’t throw those magazines out, but keep them in a special place where the kids know that the magazines safe to cut up and play with are (so they don’t attack your new ones you haven’t read yet).  If you have some kid-appropriate ones they can also work on their reading!  You can also do lots of other fun things with magazines, like cutouts for doll houses, ideas for painting and labels for toy storage.

-food!  Food is a fun way to keep them entertained and a great way to have them help you with the cooking.  You can check out this fun post with creative food ideas to get you started.

-outdoor games, activities and crafts.  There are so many fun things the kids can do outside.  From playing with water to building sand castles and tree forts, there should be no end to the adventures of imagination your kids can experience!

-there are tons of resources and ideas on line too.  Some of my favorites are FamilyFun, Kaboose, Food Network, King Arthur, Michaels, and Martha.

I’ll also be sharing specific craft, food and fun ideas throughout the summer that would be fun to do too, so stay tuned!

Do you have a favorite activity that you do with your kids over the summer months?  Share your ideas below 🙂

FF: Jane Small Fine Art

Happy Friday!  Today’s guest is Jane Small.  I love the beautiful things she does with color!  Jane has shared some thoughts about techniques and her unique perspective on art.

Why are you passionate about art?

I have to be very honest here and say that it isn’t actually “art” that I’m passionate about. What I am passionate about is the mystery that makes art possible. Many years ago, I suffered from acute anxiety and depression.  I had felt that way for 16 years.  Without going into too much detail, one day, I had an experience of healing that affected my perception so instantly and profoundly that my life totally changed. I still experienced to some degree, some of the original anxiety, but it was no longer a problem!  It just felt like a small thing in a much greater perspective. The greater perspective showed me that life was in fact an awesome mystery, full of hope and beauty. I started to really “see”. I noticed everything in much more detail; spiders webs, ants, a drop of rain water, shadows cast by the light on a plain wall. All these things now seemed beautiful and the stiller I became and the more I looked, the more I noticed. Colours in particular now had a particular impact. I was especially in awe of the colour “mauve”. When I was very young, I had worn a mauve dress once and my mother had told me I looked very sickly in it!  She didn’t like that colour and it was one of those little things that get lodged in the mind. I had disliked mauve ever since. Now, it was like I was making up for having missed out on “seeing” that colour, and wherever I saw it, whether as a flower, or lampshade, or whatever, it would stop me in my tracks and I would look and look. My life now became focused on exploring the mystery behind what had happened. My husband Simon had been so astonished by the transformation, that he too was drawn to seek with me.  It became a wonderful journey of discovery and ever more questions. For him, the journey came together in a creative sense, via the beautiful and mysterious mystical novel that he wrote, “Star Pilgrim.”

What got you started with art and being creative as a hobby/business?

As a bi product of this quest, I found myself drawn to express the enchantment and beauty that I was noticing, through art. For years I painted in soft pastel and sold my work as originals, prints and cards. My pictures always had a meditative or mystical quality to them.  I also worked in water colour, sometimes on silk, and in acrylic. I also experimented with batik. Then, I found a book one day about encaustic art. I was interested to try it. This involves painting in coloured beeswax and using a variety of heated tools for melting and working with the wax. The American way and the European way of encaustic are different. In America it is popular to use heat guns and more powerful tools,and to paint on absorbant panels. In Europe,it is more common to use a small iron, heated stylus, hot plate and hog hair brushes, and to paint on a clay coated encaustic non absorbant card. This is a big generalization as of course individuals everywhere are using different approaches. For some years now I have focused on painting with beeswax, because it makes an interesting change. I love the way the colours merge and blend and its slightly quirky, unpredictable nature.

Do you have any tips/inspiration to share?

I noticed on the internet that the European way is often derided as “not the real thing”! This might be in part because a lot of people who do encaustic over here, make no claim to be artists. They just love messing around with beeswax and enjoy the special effects you can make.They paint numerous fairy castles, dragons, fox gloves and dragonflies! And I think thats great. However, I felt from the beginning that a lot more could be achieved with these simple tools for anyone who was a natural artist and who wanted to do more specific and detailed work. So really, I just went ahead and did my own thing!  And basically that involves an enormous amount of practise and experimentation to find your own style. Maybe a class for beginners could be useful but then just experiment! You can use other media with the wax too such as oil pastels and its common to add wax to photographs. A word of caution about oil pastel. It never completely dries so the finished work would have to be framed behind glass. This is not necessary if you stick to pure beeswax. Quite a lot of detail can be achieved in wax by using an encaustic stylus. And the finished work can be buffed up so it really shines.

Do you have a favourite piece you have created?

My favorite piece is always my current one! Because it is such a joy in the moment to produce something totally unique and new. However people who like my work do have favorites. This varies enormously, but without doubt, my top, best selling print and card is “Inner Peace.”  This was painted years ago, shortly after my healing experience. It is executed in acrylic, using a water colour method.

What exciting future plans do you have for your work?

Well, the exciting thing is that I don’t plan! And that’s when the best things seem to happen. I’m an absolute menace with any kind of technology which of course includes computers. I have never had much to do with them. I had an offer of help to set up my enchantment fine art blog. And it has been amazing, the interest I have had from people all over the world who are interested in encaustic art. Or people who just like meditative, calming images, something a bit mystical. This is already opening new doors. And I have started writing Haiku to resonate with the images as they seem to really suit that style of verse. I can’t write them “cold”. They come to mind when I look into each painting after it is completed.

You can connect with Jane on her website, Twitter and her flickr gallery.

Thank you Jane!  I would love to try working with beeswax someday, I think it would be a lot of fun.  You do beautiful and inspirational work!

Creative Fruits and Vegetables

One of the awesome opportunities June brings us is fruit and vegetable month.  I’ve found some fun and creative ideas as well as some yummy recipes to share with you today!  I’d love to hear your creative ideas with fruit and vegetables too!

Fruit and Vegetable Fun

Fruit Pizza!

Add your favorite vegetables to these vegetable flowers.

These mice are yummy to have in the kitchen.

Add a face to your tomatoes.

Fruits and vegetables are sharing the love here.

Make a snack mix with dried fruit.

Love these hearts!

Slice up a couple fruits for this snack.

Sandwiches with vegetables are yummy on a stick.

Make your favorite shape in watermelon or another fruit or vegetable.  .

Fruit Recipes

What will you do with a blueberry or two?

Try this fun and creative fruit cake!

Too hot for you?  Try frozen fruit bites.

Add something special to these strawberries.

How about a pineapple decoration good enough for a gift?

You won’t trifle long over this fruity dessert.

Tropical fruit with lime will get you in the summer mood.

What flower will you make?

Is your kiwi happy or mad?

Add a little something special to your drink with rainbow ice cubes.

Fruity desserts including shortcake, dessert nachos, and pear and cranberry crisps.

Grill pound cake and add your favorite fruits.

Want to make homemade ice pops?  Try these with real fruit!

Add a little fruit to a guilty pleasure, ice cream! (try it with frozen yogurt to make it a little less guilty)

Still want more?  Here are 24 amazing ideas including banana splits, fruit skewers, strawberry jelly and gelato with fruit salad!

Vegetable Recipes

Lookout for this potato volcano!

Get creative with peas.  Try adding cheese and tomatoes if your kids don’t like peppers and almonds.

Add carrots to their own dip for a bunny-ready treat!

Make a hungry octopus from a pepper.

Stuck on broccoli? They’re really trees now.

I hope you enjoyed these recipes and were inspired by the creative ideas.  Have you ever done something creative with food for your guests or your kids?  I’d love to hear your ideas below.

Summer Inspired Creativity

The summer is filled with opportunities to be inspired creatively.  Grab your camera, sketch pad and favorite creative tools and come along for the ride!

Go to the…

beach and see seagulls, surf, volleyball, people running, seashells, and fishermen.

backyard and see kids, birds, bunnies, chipmunks, flowers, grass, and growing vegetables.

pool and see splashes,kids playing, laughing faces, sunlight reflecting, floats floating and sunscreen sitting.

Go on…

vacation and see faraway lands, different people, new colors, strange animals, awesome natural creations.

morning walks and see neighbors, dogs, flowers, trees, children laughing, and fun chalk drawings.

Observe the…

water falling, crashing, dripping and still.

wind rocking boats, pushing trees and cooling people.

sun warming the earth, coloring skin, and growing plants.

animals playing, making babies, living naturally and eating.

food being eaten, created, decorated, enjoyed, and shared.

plants growing, being eaten, running wild, and changing colors.


friends laughing, living, joking, and crying.

kids learning, changing, relaxing, and playing.

your partner strong, brave, challenged and tired.

family new, old, together, and apart.

strangers as you drive and walk, in the office, down the street, and on vacation.

What will you do with your summer?  Where will creativity strike you and will you be ready?

FF: Yesterday’s Trash Art

Happy Friday! Today we’re talking with Michelle Bernard of Yesterday’s Trash Art.  She does what’s called “mixed media art” and has created some very interesting things!

Why are you passionate about mixed media art?

It’s funny because when I first started liking art, I had no idea this was where my creativity would end up! I knew from an early age that I liked to be creative visually. I tried drawing, but felt like it was too difficult for me. Later on in High School, I discovered graphic design. That was exciting for me because, well… I didn’t have to draw anything. I also spent some time taking Photography in College. Over the years I also took some local craft classes in things like jewelry, stamping, card-making, altered books and such. But then I disovered Art & Soul Mixed Media Art Retreats. And it all made sense. I could combine all of my interests and all of the mediums I liked to work with! I didn’t have to choose just one thing. It was perfect.

What got you started with art and being creative as a hobby/business?

For most of my career I have been a Graphic Artist, and spent my life being creative for other people. Eventually I felt the need to express my own personal creativity in my very own way, so I started to dabble in art projects after work and on the weekends. Working in the genre of mixed media meant there was no limit to what I could create, and I began to come up with all kinds of ideas…more ideas than I had time for. I knew that creating something from nothing was what I was meant to do for a living, and I didn’t want to spend one more minute not doing it! I had a little bit of a nest egg saved up and so I decided to take the leap and try to make my art a way of life. I quit my job last Summer and have been making mixed media jewelry, collage, assemblage, dolls and more ever since!  The name of my business is Yesterday’s Trash. I love taking old, antique, found and otherwise discarded objects, and showcasing them in a new, interesting way. Almost as if to say, “Someone thought this had no value, but look how special it really is!”

Do you have a favorite piece you’ve created?

One of the things I love to do is make something from scratch that looks like it was made decades ago – like an antique someone found. I also like creating in the folk art style (really that’s because I can pretend I don’t know what I’m doing and still like what I’m making!). Recently, I combined those two passions and made a Conjoined Twins Sideshow Assemblage. I really do love getting lost in the details of how to make it look old, and enjoy the challenge of that process. Some of my other favorites are 20 funky flowers and a voodoo doll.

What exciting future plans do you have for your work?

I have received such a great response from all of my carnival, circus and sideshow-themed art, that I think I am going to continue on in that category. For me it’s perfect because again, I don’t have to choose! I can make themed collages, assemblages, dolls, jewelry and more. In fact, in a few short months a circus-themed hair salon is opening and I’ve been asked to create some actual games, wheels of fortune and a bunch of my arcade-style knock-down dolls! I’m very excited about that.

Do you have any tips/inspiration to share?

As an artist I would say, do what you like and what feels right to you. Sometimes I’ve actually had to stop asking people what they think of my work because it would make me question myself and that is so detrimental to one’s own creative process.

Also, as a “recovering perfectionist” I would like to offer up one word: commit! For my entire life I overthought everything, especially when it came to art. “Should I put this here? What if I don’t like it? What if something else would look better there?” You know the voice. But when I just began creating in the moment and committing (gluing the item down!), it changed everything. It made me a better problem solver, because if I didn’t like it, I’d have to figure out a way to cover it up. I came up with some of my best techniques that way.

You can connect with Michelle and see all of her creative artwork on Twitter, Etsy, Facebook, Youtube, and at her blog and website.

It just goes to show you that you never know what you will find or create!  Thanks for sharing Michelle!

Getting Creative for Summer

We’re rapidly approaching the first day of summer!  I’m super excited as usual!  Most of you don’t enjoy the heat of the summer like I do, so here are some fun and creative ways to stay cool.

Keep those kids busy with creative ideas (and have some fun yourself):

Homemade ice cream.  Maybe this is more food than creative, but add your favorite flavors and it will get pretty exciting.

Suncatcher window crafts.

Salt art.

A whole bunch of fun ideas for wearing and accessorizing.  What does your T-shirt say about you?

Have leftover sand?  Use it to make candles.

Add a little fun to your flip flops!

Don’t forget to send a cheerful summer card to relatives and friends.

Bring the summer indoors with this watermelon step stool.

Do something special for the birds with this cabana bird house.

How about some of those old camp crafts you remember?  Like stick vases, newspaper hat, personalized nature pals, spray painting, homemade finger paints, and friendship sticks?

Summer is a great opportunity to eat too!

Black bean dip.

Grilled shrimp w corn and black bean salad.

Too hot to cook? Have a salad!

Pork kabobs.

Lemon & garlic tiger prawns.

Carrot cake cupcakes.

Chocolate covered banana pops.

Strawberry lemonade ice pops.

Tropical breakfast smoothie.

Raspberry lime rickey.

Cool summer drinks including cherry vanilla smoothie, perfect fruit punch, lemon juice juleps, and sparkling star punch!!

Try something new this summer!  What are your creative plans for this summer?  Share your thoughts below.

Creating Outdoors

June is a perfect opportunity to celebrate the great outdoors! I love being outside, and there’s nothing better than doing a little crafting and creating to go along with it. Some of the ideas are great for kids, others are better for adults, and some are fun for all ages! If you’ve got an outdoor themed creation, share it below!

If you’re a gardener, you’ll enjoy plant pokes.

Try this “permanent” sand sculpture.

If they’ve got to catch those bugs, might as well make a craft out of it!  Don’t forget to release the bugs though.

Need a new friend? How about a pet rock?

Chalk is one awesome creative instrument, make your own!

Show your family what they mean to you with a family plaque. Did I mention rocks are involved?

Don’t forget to be comfy!  Make outdoor pillows.

Spiff up those party lights with some color!

Get festive with butterflies.

Make bamboo into candle holders, add citronella if you want to use them at night!

Tie-dye your own beach towels or clothes.

Use bandanas for more than covering your head while outside.

Don’t forget to have fun!  Make a boomerang for hours of entertainment.

Love Smores?  Make them the eco-friendly way!

Nothing is more fun than chasing bubbles!  Try these two fun experiments.

Use some wood and make something special!

Not near a quarry or dig site?  Create your own fossils!

Let those artists have at it!  You’ll have the best looking rocks in town.

Here’s another great idea for creative lighting.

Decorate with a little flower power.

Try some origami for your next fancy picnic.

Don’t let those bottles sweat at your picnic!  Wrap them!

Picnic disturbed by flying tablecloths?  Worry no more!

Need more pillows?  Here’s another idea.

Make this awesome rug to clean those shoes and feet off before going inside.

For a little more risky creativity, try decorating with bleach!

Bring the outdoors in with this log cabin caddy.

Add a little sunshine to your life!

Still need more?  Try these 14 fun toddler activities.

What will you do to celebrate the outdoors this year?  Share your ideas below.

FF: Sew Chic Boutique

Today’s guest on Feature Friday is Cicely James from sew chic boutique.  Cicely does some amazing things with needle, thread and fabric!

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a mom of 2 third graders, a wife to my wonderful husband Ken for 15 years, and a full-time college student. Many of the bags I make are made from fabric I have designed and had digitally printed, which means it’s printed using an extremely wide computer printer made just for fabric. One thing that’s sort of funny is I sew barefoot because it makes the whole process so relaxing but, a little scary if I drop pins on the floor!

Why are you passionate about sewing and bags?

I am passionate about sewing because it is a from of creativity that allows you to transform a piece of fabric into any 3 dimensional item you can think of. For me it is a form of relaxation from the quiet cutting of the fabric to the hum of the machine while I am sewing a project. I love to sew clothing and things for the home as well as bags, but I love sewing bags because it is an expression of a woman’s fashion sense. I am also addicted to bags and change my bag according to my outfit and mood so sewing them allows me to have as many as I’d like.

What got you started with sewing and being creative as a hobby/business?

I originally took up sewing to be able to create curtains for the home since I was in the military and moved a lot. I figured it would save some money sewing window coverings myself. After a while I moved on to clothing and fashion accessories. I got into sewing as a business by accident when people saw my bags and suggested I should sell them. So with the encouragement of my husband I started sew chic boutique and I am still making bags.

Do you have a favorite bag you’ve created?

My favorite bag is my CiCe Bag in Brown. I have one for myself and carry it in any season of the year. It has a 1950’s vibe to it and is made with an very vintage print of oilcloth fabric.  I also really like the Jodi Hobo Bag

What exciting future plans do you have for your work?

My future plans for my work is to make more make it yourself/ DIY kits so people can create sew chic boutique style. I have many friends that say they can’t be creative and think many people feel that way. I hope that having these kits will help people try making handmade with help from a tutorial and the right materials. I am also planning to make my creations more bohemian, romantic, and feminine because I love to make pretty things.

Do you have any tips/inspiration to share?

My tip to share for those wanting to make a hobby into a business is to never give up on your dream and work at it everyday until you get where you want to go.

You can connect with Cicely on Twitter, Facebook, Etsy and her blog!

~Thanks for sharing Cicely!  I love the idea of DIY kits, it’s always been a passion of mine to bring art and creativity to everyone, even those who don’t think they can do it.  Keep creating those gorgeous bags!  I look forward to seeing what you come up with next.

Celebrating Fathers

Father’s Day is just a few weeks away.  If you haven’t thought about how to celebrate the men in your life, or what you can do to show them your appreciation, here are a few out of the box thoughts to get you started!


Personal Pretzels,a photo bookmark (for his book or the book you’re reading together), notepad for dad, don’t just get him another tie-personalize it,  personalized pub glasses, personal photo blocks, cookie tube for dad, pom-pom tie guy (too cute to not include)


Tape measure, dogs, ties, footprint poem, paper-airplane cards (great for coupons too)


Broccoli, Ham and Cheese Omelet, Asian Meatball Subs, Lobster Rolls, Ale-Brined Roasted-Turkey Sandwich, Grilled Fajitas, PB&J Chocolate Bars, Blondies, BBQ cupcakes.  (Need more? Try these 100 ideas)


-Ice Cream: nothing goes better with a hot June day than ice cream.  You could do the usual sundaes, or you could buy a bunch of little containers (pint size or smaller) of a whole variety and either do a tasting or make sundaes with not-usual flavors.

-Let dad have the day to himself, let him choose where to go, and who to be with.  If the kids want to “take” dad on a special outing, plan it for another day so dad can choose what he wants to do.

-Do a family fun day.  Go to a baseball game, go fishing, go camping, or just hang out as a family at home and watch movies.

Share your ideas too!  Do you have a favorite Father’s Day memory?