Friday, June 26, 2015

Paint Balloon Art!

Being that we are in the midst of summer when we planned to have some friends over for a craft + play time I envisioned us doing something with water balloons.  Water balloons filled with paint was my vision.  I knew I had seen something like this before and so I went to handy dandy Pinterest for some specifics on how to accomplish my goal!  

Tempera Paint, a variety of colors
Push pins
Canvas {I chose a 16x20 sized canvas for the boys.}
Water Balloons
Squeeze bottles 

Prepping the Canvas
I was wondering what I would need to do to ensure that the paint balloons would pop on the canvas when I came across this video by Mr Otter Art Studio.  They suggested to poke push pins through the canvas so that when the balloons hit the surface they would pop and splatter.  I probably used 50 push pins on each individual canvas.  

Filling the Balloons
This video by Mr Otter Art Studio gives great tips on how to fill the balloons with paint.  Since I didn't have water bottles with squeeze tops, I used my Wilton Squeeze Bottles to fill the balloons.  I did a 40/60 {or some were 50/50} ratio of paint to water and then shook the bottle to mix the two.  The squeeze bottle's nozzle was the perfect size to fill the water balloon.  In total, I filled around 130 balloons for four boys.

The Instructions
We did a run through with Winston and a few balloons on a small canvas to see his reaction and if this would even work.  It was a success!  He loved it and the effect of the paint on the canvas was super fun!  You set up the canvas against a hard surface and then throw the paint balloon!!

The Clothes
I would suggest wearing swimsuits or clothes that you don't mind getting a little messy for this project.

The Fun!
After instructing the boys not to touch the canvas because they were spiky and to not throw the balloons at their friends, we set them loose to launch their paint balloons!  It was so fun to see their faces when the paint exploded against the canvas!

Clean Up
The best way to get clean after throwing paint balloons and getting splatter every where is to play in the water!!  Splashing is mandatory!

Thanks to our sweet friends for coming over to play with us and to their Moms for not freaking out when I announced we were going to be playing with paint balloons!!  {I did tell them what type of clothes to bring!}  It was a fabulously, fun day and the works of art turned out unique and beautiful!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

San Francisco Day 1: Pier 39, The Bay Aquarium, Boudin Bakery

We took a family vacation to San Francisco!  We were there a total of three days, stayed at an Air BnB location and took Uber cabs everywhere we went.  Since we were there in May, the weather was still a bit on the chilly side.  However, every day the sun was out and the weather was perfect for walking.  

Our first day there was spend at Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, and Ghirardelli Square.  We started at Pier 39 and walked up and down the main drag taking in the sights and sounds.  
Winston woke up at normal home time which translated to 5:30 San Francisco time.  As soon as we hit the Boardwalk we tracked down Trish's Mini Donuts.  They were a delight to the tastebuds and should be a stop sometime during your trip!  They were the perfect marriage of a funnel cake and a donut.  Just heaven!
We had told Winston that we were going to an aquarium as we headed into town and he was super pumped!  We made our way to the Aquarium of the Bay and stayed 1.5 hours.   The tanks were very well kept with a variety of fish, sharks, eels, and starfish.  {Can we also stop here for a minute as I revel in how old my little one is looking?!  He is growing like a weed and while I miss being able to hold all a tiny one close to me, there is something so special when he curls up into a little ball in my arms.  le sigh.}
The aquarium has a great hands on area where sting rays, starfish, and sea cucumbers are available to touch.  This was Winston's favorite part by far.  And still to this day there are times when he'll pretend to be petting the sea cucumber!  
After leaving the Aquarium we headed down the Boardwalk, stopping to take a few family photos courtesy of our selfie stick!  That's Alcatraz in the back left corner of the picture.  :)  
We met up with our dear friends who were also in town for lunch.  We walked with them to Ghirardelli Square and all shared a massive ice cream sundae!  I am probably going to be in the minority when I say this but, I was really underwhelmed by Ghirardelli Square.  While I enjoyed shopping at Lola of North Beach, I was expecting there to be a little more to the whole thing.
Our last stop for the day before heading back to our rental, we stopped at the Boudin Bakery.  They have an amazing glass window that faces that street allowing passer-bys to watch the artists create cool creatures out of sourdough bread!  For $3 a person, they have an upstairs area with the history of the family, the bakery, and the bread.  They have their creatures laid out and a viewing area where you can see their bread making process.  Winston loved the samples and just like his Daddy, enjoyed watching the dance between the people and machines making beautiful bread!  
We purchased a bread turtle to eat with our dinner that night, hailed ourselves an Uber cab and made it back to the house in time for Winston to take a nap.  Our first day out on in San Francisco was full of everything we enjoy: sightseeing, great food, time with friends and ice cream!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Berry Picking at Moorhead's Blueberry Farm

I put berry picking as an item on our summer bucket list because it seemed like an activity that Winston would really get into and enjoy.  After doing a little web search, I came across Moorhead's Blueberry Farm.  It was the closest pick your own place to where we live and open on the weekends.  The weather was calling for rain {and it had rained that morning} but we were all set for any situation as we packed our wellies to come along!

The farm itself is set waaaaay back off the main road.  As we were driving in the middle of what seemed like dirt and sand mounds we kept seeing car after car coming the opposite direction.  We were pleasantly surprised to see how busy it was when we pulled into the parking lot.  Moorhead's has quite a wonderful, organized operation!  Upon arrival you receive a bucket {small or large} and are told which field has the best berries for picking.  However you are allowed to go anywhere you please!  

Bucket in hand, we traipsed off to follow the yellow flags to where the berry picking was best for that day!

Despite there being a good many people there, we found a row that was empty and ripe for the picking.  Winston was adorable in his enthusiasm for finding and picking the little blue berries.  
"Oh, they are so cute!" and "These are so shiny!" he would exclaim.
"Look, Mommy!  There are more blueberries!!  Don't get them Mommy.  I pick them."
"Look Mommy!  Here some for you to pick."
"Over here Daddy!  I found them!"
And our all time favorite one of the day:
"These are just perfect for my treasure chest!!"
Winston had a great eye for finding the blueberries.  And because we have been watching a heap-ton of Jake the Pirate lately, he was full into pretending we were on a treasure hunt!
This is Winston's concentration face.  I am in love with this face.  When he is extremely focused on the task at hand, this is the face he gets.  Winston was very careful to only pick the ripe berries and some how managed not to squish a single one!  He has fierce concentration and gently hands, two things I'm proud to say he gets from his Daddy.
Speaking of, aren't they just the cutest?  

About halfway through our time out picking, it started to drizzle.  We really didn't mind because to us, getting a little sprinkled was better than sweating in 100 degree Texas weather!  After forty-five minutes or so of picking, our tummies were rumbling so we took that as a sign to head to the car.
{Caught mid "Blueberries!"}

Once back at the front, Winston proudly handed his bucket to the man working the counter.  They dumped his berries into a bag and weighted them.  The cost of berries at Moorhead's is $2.50/lb.  They accept cash and checks only.  We happily went on our way with a little over 1.5 pounds of blueberries!

We had a wonderful time together enjoying the great outdoors and a fun activity not far from home.  Winston had such a good time, I guarantee that we will be going back!  
If you are planning a visit to Moorhead's here are a few things I suggest to bring along:
  • Cash
  • Cooler {to keep your berries fresh on the ride home}
  • Wellies {if it has rained or going to rain}
  • Wagon {There were quite a few families with multiple kids who brought a wagon to wheel the kiddos and their buckets around in}
  • Water & snacks
  • Camera
  • Bug spray
Now, does anyone have any great recipes that call for blueberries?!  :)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Guest Post: Vintage Neon Turned Marquee Lights

Y'all, I am happy to say that the love of my life has written a post about our Shine Marquee letters!  I hope you enjoy!
A special How To written by Benjamin

We have a ledge in our entry way that is super high and perfect for decorating!  When the house was being built we added an electrical outlet up incase we would want to do something with Christmas lights someday.  During one of our house brainstorming sessions, Sara and I decided that marquee lights would be the perfect thing for that space.  Picking the word Shine was an easy choice.  It seemed like a fun reminder to let our Light shine on a daily basis.

The next day we went to a local place that Sara said sold just what we were looking for: The Happy Peddler in Old Town Spring.  When you walk in you can't miss the letters hanging from the ceiling, resting in the corners, and cascading down the walls in all different fonts, colors and sizes.  Knowing what letters we were after before walking into the store helped keep us from feeling overwhelmed by the selection.  We found an "I" and an "E" that we really liked and as we were waiting in line to hear the prices on them we saw a huge "N" sitting by the counter.  We started chatting with Adam, the owner, and he said he currently had way to many "N's" and we could have this one for $50 if we took it with us today.  Without hesitation we said, "Great!"  We told him we would be needing an "S" and "H" and he said to keep checking his Facebook page because he updates it when new shipments of letters arrive from the scrap yard.  Within the next few weeks we had found an S, but we were still on the hunt for an H.  Tracking letters down like this over the internet proved to be a difficult and very expensive task, with many places wanting hundreds of dollars for the larger letters.  A month or so later I called Adam who said he had a shipment of letters on the way and there was one large H in it.  We scooped it up and could continue with the project.

Since the letters we purchased were old neon letters with no bulbs, we debated how to light them.  We could use neon lights or marquee bulbs.  Many of you know that I love woodworking, but what you probably don't know is that I have a fascination with glass work.  I keep telling Sara that I want this to be my next hobby and she is always quick to remind me that I don't have enough time for all of my current hobbies so the last thing I need is a new one.  I have watched numerous shows on PBS and the History Chanel on glass blowing and thought blowing new glass for neon would be a fun adventure, but Sara was able to convince me that LED bulbs were a smarter choice for this project.

We thought LED globe lights would be nice because they look like vintage marquee lights but are much more energy efficient.  Thankfully Amazon stocks lights like we were looking for year round, and they even had them in varying string colors, hues, and wattages.  We ultimately decided on 5 watt G40 bulbs for the job.  With the bulbs on the way it was time to get the letters ready.

Winston helped me give all the letters a good wash down.  Many of them had been sitting outside or in scrapyards for years, so before we hung them up I wanted to make sure all dirt and critters were gone.  Winston and I tapped out a few large dents but made sure to leave character to each letter. Over the years the letters had all been painted different colors that we thought looked nicely together.  I touched up any areas that had chipped or scratched so that everything would pop.
Next I flipped the letters on their faces on my workbench and marked on the back with a Sharpie where the bulbs should go, making sure to put the bulbs around 6 inches apart.
I then used a 1/8 metal cutting bit to start a small pilot hole for each bulb.  Last year for Christmas my sister and her husband had given me an assortment of drill bits.  This step bit was part of that assortment and   proved to be a perfect bit for the job.  After discerning the proper step I buzzed out 125 holes to make room for the lights.  Working with metal can be a dangerous task, as high temperature pieces of sharp objects are flying in all directions.  Be sure to wear eye protection and close toed shoes while doing nay sort of metal working.  Also, sweeping up the shop immediately afterwards is a must if you share your shop with a toddler like I do.
With the holes drilled and filings cleaned up, it was time to string in the lights.  I avoided stringing multiple letters together until they were up on the wall to help make hanging them an easier task.  After trying to scale an extension ladder while holding a 40 pound letter and a drill gun I quickly realized just how high a 15 foot ledge can be.  I decided that to safely hang the letters I would need scaffolding or a scissor lift.
Give any guy the choice of lugging and assembling scaffolding or driving around a scissor lift and the decision is an easy one.  Thankfully SunBelt Rentals carries a lift that was exactly 1/2 inch smaller than our doorway and proved perfect for the job.  A few quick tips about renting one of these babies: most rental places offer daily rates and are closed on Sundays.  This means you can pick it up at the very end of the day on Friday or first thing Saturday morning and you don't have to return it until Monday at 7:00 with just a single day's rental fee.  Also, they are only front wheel drive, so getting them over a threshold or up and down a ramp can be tricky, so plan accordingly and have plenty of extra lumber on hand if needed.  They will charge you for the lift, a trailer to tow it with, and the chains to secure it to the trailer.  If you call ahead you can likely negotiate a package deal, especially if they have multiple units available to rent that day.  Even Sara wanted to take the lift for a spin!
After getting the lift home and finagling it into the house, hanging the letters proved to be an easy task.  We spaced them on the floor and then took them up one at a time in the lift and fixed them to the wall.  Since the bulbs stuck out just over an inch from the back of each letter, flush mounting them was not an option.  I had scrap 2x4's that I cut into 4 inch pieces and secured into studs in strategic places along the wall.  I then screwed the letters into the blocks to anchor them on the wall and hide the 2x4's from sight.
Since the sign is just over 3 feet by 7 feet in size, we ended up using 5 strings of lights with 25 G40 bulbs rated 5 watts each.  To prevent electrical fires each string of lights has a small fuse in it that I did not want to overload.  To avoid constantly getting the ladder out to change fuses, I daisy chained three strings together in one outlet and two strings together in another.
The project turned out every bit as well as we had hoped.  The letters provide a gentle glow each night that helps create a nice ambiance in our entryway and takes advantage of a space too high for virtually any other purpose.  Special thanks to Adam at The Happy Peddler for his help in tracking down all of the letters.  Also, thanks to Winston for helping me clean and hammer out each of the letters.  Last but not least, thanks to Sara for keeping her cool when I nearly got a 3000 pound scissor lift stuck in our doorway and for constantly guiding but never standing in the way of my DIY spirit.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Five Reasons We Enjoyed Hyatt Lost Pines!

We have been go, go, go for the first part of the summer.  One of our adventures took us to Hyatt Lost Pines for the A.P Westfall Meeting that the Houston Orthodontic Residency puts together every year. The meeting rotates from place to place.  This year's location is one of my favorites!  My family and I visited Lost Pines the year it opened (!) and it was so fun to go back with Benjamin and Winston.

one || S'mores + Outdoor Movie
I am a huge s'mores fan!  So the Hyatt Lost Pines speaks my love language by providing s'mores every night starting at 7 PM.  The awesome thing about this place is if you have a hankering for a s'more before that time, they keep s'mores kits readily available for your family and the staff is always happy to light the fire for you!  They also set up a family friendly movie on Friday and Saturday nights as well complete with all of the popcorn you can eat!  

two || Keeper Talks and Activities
The Hyatt Lost Pines is extremely family friendly!  They have bikes available for all ages to ride at any time of the day.  They have a great kids activities through Camp Hyatt and the playground.  Along with tons of outdoor activities such as golf, bird watching, horse riding, tennis and the Spa Django there is something for everyone!  The hotel also gives informational talks on animals around the area and allows the kiddos to pet and sit on their resident longhorns T-bone and Ribeye!

three || The Lazy River
The river is perfect for floating.  For floating and relaxing.  For enjoying the sunshine and the family. Lost Pines provides single and double floats for folks to enjoy the river.  There is an adults only pool, a play pool, a sand area and splash pad for kiddos along with a water slide!  

four || The Eateries 
All of the restaurants at Lost Pines have a variety of options and are quite tasty!  The Firewheel offers breakfast and dinner buffets that are free for children 5 and under.  {Awesome!}  They have a general store stocked with Starbucks goodies, breakfast pastries, snacks of all sorts and ice cream!

five || Family Time
Once you drive on to the grounds of Hyatt Lost Pines, you never have to leave!  Everything you could need is there allowing for you to spend time with the ones that you are there to have fun with.  The trees are magnificent, the views are wonderful, the staff is friendly and you can do or not do as much as you want to.  Downtown Austin is a 30 minute drive away if you should need to do a little exploring in the city.  I just adore places where we can enjoy our time together without any rush or hurry in the world!

Linking up today with 5 on Friday: April | Oh Hey, Friday: September Farm + The Farmer's Wife | Friday Favorites: Momfessionals

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Froggy Foot Craft

It was time for us to do a new foot craft and this time Winston chose to make a frog.  First things first, we assembled all of our supplies:
Mod Podge
Martha Stewart Glitter: Blue Apatite
Martha Stewart Paint: Beetle Black, Chamomile, Snow Pea, Scottish Highlands, Green Curry, Green Olive

Since it's summertime, Winston and I decided that our frogs needed to be near a pond to keep them cool during the hot summer days!  :)  Winston made the first steps of the pond with Mod Podge.  He was very methodical and specific on where he wanted them to be.
Next we covered the Mod Podged area in glitter.  Because glitter makes everything more fun!  This was our first time to really go hog wild with it and Winston did a great job making sure none of the white was showing!
We then painted Winston's foot to make the frog's body.  After that dried, I added two circles for the eyes {where they would fit!}, back and front legs.  Winston then glued on the googly eyes.  Then we decided the frogs needed some grass to sit on.  We added the grass and some yellow dots for good measure!  
Since you are making one for yourself, you might as well go ahead and make two or three more.  They make great gifts for family members and they are a frogtastically cute to sit out all summer!
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