Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Inspired by Art

Last Friday, my seven year old son, Samuel, walked into the kitchen and asked me a question.

"Mom, have you ever heard of Pierre Auguste Renoir?"

Sam never ceases to amaze me. His pronunciation of this famed French impressionist's name was perfect! He actually said " Pee-err Ah-goost Re-nwah". As a francophone, it truly warmed my heart!

As it turned out, we happened to be visiting family in a city with a world class art museum. I decided to take Sam to see an actual Renoir in person. So we hopped on the Metro to the Louvre and then...

Just kidding! We were not in Paris. We were visiting our family in Michigan! But the Toledo Museum of Art is just a short drive away. And in front of the museum, this "Metro station" is actually an illusion of the famous Parisian subway.

If you ever get a chance to visit this museum, you will not be disappointed! I have had the honor of visiting museums around the world...Paris, London, Chicago, Montreal, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and many more. The Toledo Museum of Art has a special place in my heart. I love the Impressionist galleries, with Monet's Water Lilies, Van Gogh's wheat fields, Degas' dancers, and of course, Renoir.

Sam was most impressed! Now he has something to tell his elementary art teacher when he returns to school in the fall! This is what educators call a "teachable moment". I'm so glad that we had the opportunity to show Sam his Pierre Auguste Renoir that day! (Special thanks to my sister, Jenny, and her boys, Joey and James, for making it happen!)

The entrance to the museum has this wonderful red sculpture outside. That's my son, John, to the left, and Sam in the background.

I made a card today that was inspired by this bold red statement!

{recipe: Timeless Treasures (SU), Frames with a Flourish (SU), Shape of Things (SU), white card stock, riding hood red ink, black ink, Dymo label maker}

This Clean and Simple card is also a one layer wonder!

Hope your day is "fantastique!"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shirley Ann's Garden

I had a great time visiting Shirley Ann's garden last weekend. She always has such flair when it comes to designing her gardens! From the potting sheds to the garden statues, everything is just perfectly placed and surrounded by lovely flowers.

I always leave Shirley Ann's garden filled with inspiration. Mostly, I'm inspired to go home, do some weeding and pruning, and wish that I had a bigger budget for more flowers! ha ha

In March, I posted a card that was inspired by Beatrix Potter. Remember when I mentioned Shirley Ann's life-size Peter Rabbit? Well, here he is, having a good time with Sam.

Is it my imagination, or does that bunny have two sets of bunny ears?

A Super Summer Salad

Summer is here! Aah, the season of cookouts, picnics, and potlucks. But wait? Did I hear someone say "What about the 'Pitch-in'?" You see, I'm a native Michigander, raised in church halls where the ladies had a "potluck" on every special occasion on the church calendar. When I moved to Indiana three years ago, I was introduced to a new term...the "pitch-in". A "pitch-in" is a feast where everyone contributes, or "pitches in". It makes sense to me. Of course, I still chuckle whenever I hear the term. I'm a potlucker, plain and simple.

This simple cucumber salad is a summertime favorite in my family. We were first introduced to this delicious concoction by Pat, my sister Jenny's mother-in-law. And then Jenny began to make it regularly. And then my mom began to make it regularly. And now I make it regularly. It is soooo good.

I made this dish for a father's day dinner last Sunday. I made it for my father-in-law's family in Tipp City, Ohio. They loved it, and requested to keep the leftovers. That's a good sign!

I make this salad now to remember Pat, who passed away in 2010, and my father, who passed away in 2007. My father was dying of cancer that summer, and he was just a shell of himself, weighing no more than 125 pounds. My mother tried to fix him his favorite foods, just to give him something nutritious. What did he request on his death bed? Cucumber salad. I don't know why, but this makes me smile whenever I think of it. I love this salad just as much as my Dad, and I'd probably request it with one of my last meals, too.

Cucumber Salad

3 cucumbers, peeled and sliced ( I like to slice mine in half again)
1 sweet vidalia onion, chopped
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 pepper, chopped (I used a yellow pepper for the pretty color!)
1 bottle Old Dutch brand Sweet and Sour Dressing

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerator for at least three hours before serving. Toss occasionally to coat all vegetables. Enjoy!

It can sometimes be difficult to find this brand of dressing, so I'm showing you the bottle here so that you'll know what to look for. You'll usually find it in the same department as the salad dressings. Locally, I found that Kroger did not carry it, but Marsh stores did.

It's a beautiful summer day today...the sun is shining, the lawn mowers are buzzing, and my son is wearing his swimming trunks "just in case". Hope your day is blessed like mine!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day Fun

Are you ready for a not-so-typical Father's Day card? I made this for my husband, using a bike theme. This card is totally Stampin' Up!

{recipe: Life Cycles, Teeny Tiny Wishes, Sweet Slumber designer papers, baja breeze card stock, wild wasabi card stock, choc. chip card stock, my way arrow punch, scallop circle and circle punch, flower punch, black ink}

And here's a view of the inside:

The boys gave their Dad a new bike shirt and bike shorts as a gift. I totally surprised my husband by giving him the gift of last three paychecks! He's been wanting a new road bike for some time, but it's never in the family budget. So I decided to do some scrimping and saving to make it happen this summer. He's very excited! This will be our last big splurge before the financial pinch of two college tuitions. I figure my husband will need the new bike as a stress reliever. :)

Happy Trails, Hon!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

How Much Is That Cupcake In The Window?'s me! Sheepishly peeking around the corner of the cafe to see if anyone has noticed that I haven't been around for a week. What can I say? It's summer time!

Where have I been for the past week? Well, funny you should ask! Last Sunday, my husband and I took a long bike ride on the Monon Trail, the rails to trails biking/walking path that runs through the heart of Indianapolis. We started in the area of Broad Ripple, biked along the canals of the White River, and ended at a nice cafe in the neighborhood of Meridian-Kessler. As I was enjoying a wonderful iced mocha java chip frappucino, I wandered down the street and found the most adorable cupcake shop in the world!

The window display was filled with the cutest assortment of vintage items, all fashioned around the theme of carnival.

I really loved this color combination of turquoise blue and red! Add some polka dots and roses, and I was smitten!

The minute I saw it, I started fashioning a card in my head. Today, I finally got a chance to have a little fun in my studio. Here's the card that was inspired by the cupcake shop!

{recipe: all products from Stampin' Up!, Baby Blossoms stamp set, Teeny Tiny Wishes stamp set, tempting turquoise ink and card stock, riding hood red ink and taffeta ribbon, pink pirouette ink, kiwi kiss ink, white card stock, Bella Rose designer papers, scallop edge punch, stampin' dimensionals}

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Friday, June 10, 2011


Yesterday was a day for visitors. In the morning, I looked outside on the front porch and saw this little kitty who had come by just to say hello.

Now that the weather is warm and the porch is nice and cozy with chairs, pillows, and rugs, this kitty seems to think it's a nice place to spend the morning.

Kitty certainly made himself right at home!

This week, Sam is attending Track Camp. He's been having fun despite the heat. Yesterday was overcast and breezy, at last. While all the kids were participating in camp at one end of the track and field...

...I looked down at the other end of the field and saw this unlikely visitor!

Could it be? I had to get closer to make certain...

Yep! A fox had wandered onto the track! He also looked as if he'd been making himself at home there for quite some time. He seemed a little put out by all the hubbub at the other end of the field. We watched him walk off the track, through the parking lot, and off into the adjoining neighborhood.

I've decided to dedicate myself to keeping my boys busy this summer. With all of the sports camps, vacation bible schools, trips to the pool and library and such, I figured it was time to say goodbye to the part-time job for a while. I'm only one woman, and can only fit so much into the daily routine. So for now, I am happily unemployed. When summer is over and the boys are off to college and school, then I will look for whatever new opportunities God has planned for me.

In the meantime, I plan on puttering around the house and garden, doing a lot of reading and stitching and crafting, and visiting family back in Michigan as often as possible.

I've prayed on it, and I just felt that God was telling me to let go of this one thing because He has something bigger planned for me. I'm walking out in faith and enjoying this sweet summer life one day at a time.

Thanks for being my visitor today!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Of Food and Festivals

Here in small town America, summertime means festivals. And in my small town, we proudly announce the upcoming festivals with flags attached to lampposts. We hold most of our festivals at the "courthouse square". If you've ever seen "Back to the Future" and the 1950s town with the clock tower, then you have a pretty good mental picture of my little town. This weekend, we're looking forward to the Old Mill Festival. But thoughts of next weekend's festival already have us salivating.

You see, every year, the old church ladies gather under big white tents to make hundreds of bowls of the best Strawberry Shortcake this side of heaven. Think homemade short cake. Think locally grown strawberries. Think yummy vanilla ice cream and homemade whipping cream. It's to die for.

Last year, I was polite. I won't order my own. No, I'll just have a bite of yours, dear. My poor husband was being forked for the last bite! This year, I'm ordering the whole enchilada!

I made today's card to send to our family in Ohio. They also enjoy their very own Strawberry Festival in Troy, Ohio. Today, I'm thinking of family, but truthfully, I'm also thinking about that strawberry shortcake!

{recipe: Tart and Tangy (soon to be retired from Stampin Up!), Teeny Tiny Wishes (SU), Summer Picnic paper (SU), black, real red and old olive ink, paper piercing tool, square punch,
foam dimensionals}

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tools of the Trade

I've been working in the garden the last few days. I don't know how the weather is in your neck of the woods, but here in Indiana it is H-O-T! So I've been working in the mornings and evenings when it's a bit cooler.

I have a few trusty tools I use when I'm outdoors. First, I slather on the Aveeno SPF55 sunscreen first thing every morning. Then, I plop on my favorite hat (from Vera Bradley on clearance last it!). Then, I usually slip on my garden clogs and put on a bug band.

Have you found Bug Bands in your stores? With this wet spring, the mosquitoes have been ferocious. Consequently, the Bug Bands are selling out in the stores. But I managed to snag the last three on the shelf on Memorial Day. They work great! Wear it as a bracelet or anklet, loop it on your belt or on the handle of a baby's stroller, and you're good to go. Keep them in their plastic cases when not in use, and they'll last for up to 120 hours of protection, DEET free. Safe for the little ones, too!

I'm not a fan of the mosquitoes, but the bees in the garden don't seem to bother me. Yesterday, I was dead-heading the roses, and the bees were humming along with me. I decided to make a "sweet" card for today's sketch challenge!

{recipe: So Very (SU), Nature Walk (SU), Daffodil Delight card stock, Cosmo Cricket Garden Variety paper, black ink, amuse twinkles}

Hope your day is sweet!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Everything's Coming Up Roses

This has been a week where everything was related to roses (more about that later!). I was inspired to make something with one of my favorite stamp sets, "A Rose is a Rose". This is a tag, not a card. Thought it would make a cute addition to a gift bag in the future.

{recipe: A Rose is a Rose (SU), Noteworthy, so saffron ink and card stock, black ink and card stock, old olive ink, First Edition papers, Le Jardin papers, confetti cream card stock, lace edge punch, ivory seam binding, pearl}

So, last week my husband was in New York City for business. "Bring me back a souvenir!" I tell him. I think I'm going to get an "I Heart NY" t-shirt. No, he bought me this amazing necklace instead! It's from the famous Macy's at Herald Square (home of Miracle on 34th ST, and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!).

I love this necklace! I've been wearing it every day! It' so light and delicate. That husband of mine, he's a keeper!

Then my mom came to town last week and gave me this amazing milk bottle that she found at an antique store!

It's hard to read the words on the glass in this photo, but here's a closeup:

The milk bottle says "Rosebud Creamery" and has a detail of roses on the front. Isn't that the cutest thing you've ever seen? My husband (and my sister, Jenny's family) often call me Rosebud. This milk bottle will make a great flower vase this summer. Thanks again, Mom! You're the best Mom ever!

And now, here are the roses that made their glorious appearance last week. I wish these photos had Smellovision because these beauties are so fragrant! These are my beloved David Austin English roses that I just planted last year. They seem very happy in their sunny spot!

Can you spot which variety inspired my rose tag? Yep! It was the Graham Thomas variety of yellow rose that has a distinct tea fragrance. So lovely! You can find a full selection of David Austin roses at the website:

Thanks for visiting my rose garden today! Blessings on your weekend!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Signs of Summer

Yes, I know that it is not officially summer yet. But when the calendar flips to the month of June and the temps are near ninety, then the mind naturally travels to the season ahead.

Nothing says summer for me like a tennis racket and a hot, sunny day. A sweating water bottle, the fumy smell of a new can of tennis balls, and heat radiating from the baseline.

I've enjoyed introducing my sons to this simple sport. This week, Sam is beginning his tennis camp, and he's showing a lot of promise. He keeps his racket level, he doesn't swing at the tennis ball as if he's going for the home run, and he's managing to get them over the net without faulting.

That is a boy in need of a serious summer haircut! ha ha!

Watching him play this week has got me anxious to grab my racket and hit a few balls myself. Time to get all my boys motivated.

Sam's school system offers free sports camps throughout the summer. Isn't that wonderful? I signed him up for basketball camp, tennis camp, soccer camp, track camp, softball camp, and bowling camp. He's been having a great time learning these new sports, and it gives him something to look forward to every day.

This is my secret weapon to combat the "I'm Bored Blues". For the last few weeks, I've been scouring the local newspapers and websites for activities in June, July and August. Then, I fill my calendar with all of the free and cheap programs at the area parks and attractions. Free days at the zoo and museums. Campfire programs for kids at the parks. Free concerts. Free sports camps. Vacation Bible School.

I'm a big fan of "free" entertainment! With two sons in college this fall, I'm embracing free in a big way! With a little planning, families can have fun together for next to nothing. For example, the "Kids Bowl Free" program is nationwide. You can check out their website for a location near you.

Today is the first official day of summer break. Before tennis camp begins, Sam and I will head over to the local library to sign up for the summer reading program. No summer brain drain here!

Tell me, what's your favorite free activity to do in the summer?