Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

What we thought would be a pretty uneventful weekend turned in to a bunch of fun & laughs with family & friends.  
I firmly believe that some of the best times are those that just "happen" rather than being planned. 
First things first. I want to remember those who fight every day for our freedom. I'm the proud daughter, granddaughter, sister, cousin, and friend of a veteran. We cannot thank them enough for the freedoms we have because of their service.

My Dad in Vietnam:

My brother served in the 101st division of the 82nd Airborne. 
I can't believe he used to jump out of planes for a living.

We had my Mom's birthday party at our house on Saturday. I'd been working on a project for about a month for her birthday and I'm happy to say that it was a hit! She was super-surprised & touched by all the kind thoughts & words.

 I found an idea on Pinterest (I know, shocker!) for a birthday surprise. The original idea is here . I contacted as many people as I could think of that would have some sort of personal tie with my Mom and got a good mix of people from the past & present. I was so touched that so many people participated!

I began my project by making a list of people to try & contact. Thank goodness for the internet! I also did some facebook creeping on my Mom's page to find friends & relatives I might not have on my list. I sent group and individual messages that looked like this:

Hello everyone!

As you may know, my Mom, Kathy is turning 60 next month (I’m sure she’d be so happy that I am reminding everyone!) To celebrate her birthday, I'd like to put together a little surprise to let her know that her nearest and dearest are thinking of her. I’m going to try and create a "60 Years of Memories" project by filling as many envelopes as I can with memories her friends and family have of her.

And this is where you come in!

If you have a spare moment in the next few days, I would be so grateful if you'd jot down a favorite memory you have of my mom and put it in the mail. It doesn't have to be anything fancy -- you can just write it down on a piece of paper and sign your name. You can mention anything you like -- although the more nostalgic the better! Please absolutely feel free to send more than one memory (in fact, I welcome it – I’ve got envelopes to fill!), but make sure you write them on different pieces of paper (and sign your name to each) so I can split them up. Also: if you know of anyone from our Mom’s past who may want to contribute, please pass this message along -the more responses the better!

Thank you so, so, so much for participating -- I know everyone is busy with their own lives, and I do appreciate you taking a few minutes to do this; it will be so worth it when she reads all the memories people have of her! (Please don't forget to keep it a surprise until then, though!) I’ll be sure to take lots of photos of her opening (and reading) her surprise!

Thank you so much again.


I also provided postal & email addresses for responses

As the responses began to come in I got more & more excited. I would say I had as many, or more people e-mail their responses, which worked out really well! I printed them with different fonts & they looked nice. 

As she began to read the letters, I saw face light up as she laughed, blushed, got teary, and smiled. It was fun to read about things she did (and how at one time, she was quite the daredevil). She said she's going to put the letters in a scrapbook (which would have been a nice accompanying gift for any of you who might try this project).

As promised: here are the pictures of her surprise:

...and to top off her evening, we presented her with a Kindle Fire! She was so excited!

We were missing Kari, Katie, and Billy, but even with the five of us, we still had fun! 

My nephew, Ian, provides us with a never-ending supply of things to laugh about. He's quite the character. He will be 3 in October and he is constantly on the go! On a whim, I picked up a little inflatable pool & some squirt guns before the party. As you'll see in the following photos, they were thoroughly enjoyed! :) 

My brother mentioned earlier in the day that he found something cool in the trunk of his car. For Christmas, I got him one of those tubes you can drop mentos in to diet coke to make a geyser! Have you ever heard of this? It's nuts! Of course, we had to try it out.

I'm pretty sure you have to use the minty-mentos. Here is the tube we used:

We set it up in the yard. It was pretty neat!

You load the mentos in the tube that has a pin through it that's on a string. You pull the string, which releases the mints into the diet coke...and the madness begins..

It's fun! Quick fun, but fun, nonetheless.

Yesterday, we spent the day on Salt Fork Lake and it was heaven!

Boating, floating, sun & fun! I need more days like this in my life!

I think today is going to be the uneventful day I had envisioned. I've got a sunburnt hubby, a mountain of laundry, and master's degree assignments to do. 

Tell me, how was YOUR weekend?


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sunday's Project: An Herb Garden Wall

A few months ago I went "junking" in my Grandma's garage and came up with a bunch of old mason jars my Grandpa used to collect. I knew that I could find something on Pinterest to do with them, and I did!

I searched for "mason jars" and found a bunch of cute ideas, but one that stuck with me was making an herb garden in individual jars. You needed some jars, a few scraps of old wood (which I had), some broken pottery to absorb moisture, some hose clamps, some cable staples, and some herbs.

As if I haven't been to the greenhouse enough this year :) I lured Billy out with the promise of lunch if he would go with me. We drove out to McDaniels's and picked out a flat of assorted herbs. While we were in Rix Mills, we also stopped at Terra Cotta Vineyards (where we were married) for a couple of bottles of wine & to take in the amazing view! It was a gorgeous day!

I live in a part of Ohio once-famous for it's pottery. We have a couple of pottery retailers pretty close. I knew I needed some pieces of pottery for the bottom of my jars to absorb excess moisture since there's no drainage. I had intended to find some "seconds" pots and bash them up. When I told the cashier my intentions she informed me that I could buy a 10 pound box of pottery shards for 5 bucks! Deal!

Inside were some of the neatest things!

A nearly perfect, plain, crock

Broken Fiestaware!

and my favorite: a broken garden gnome that looks astonishingly like George W. Bush!

I began the project by staining my wood pieces. 


...and after:

Then I used  wire staples to affix the hose clamps on the wood pieces. I put my jars on the wood to see where I needed the clamp to go. Either around the top, or in the middle.

There very well may be a better gadget to use for securing the clamps to the wood, but I found that even though these were a little bulky, they allowed for me to adjust the clamp, which came in handy!

I used a hammer and broke up some of the pottery pieces to go in the bottom of the jars.

I put a nice layer of potting soil in the jar ( I used Miracle-Gro Moisture Control) and potted a plant! I found a nice assortment at the greenhouse and they were buy 4- get 1 free! :)

I topped them off with a little more soil & tightened the hose-clamps. Voila!

Beware! You CAN overtighten... at least, I think that's what happened. It was the first one I did! I was planting some other plants & heard a POP! The top just popped off! Whoops.

I used all the wood I had and made about 5 boards & jars. I hung them on an east-facing wall outside & can't wait to start snipping! I'm envisioning caprese salads with fresh basil, mojitos with fresh mint, and new recipes with marjoram- an herb I'm not very familiar with.

That's it! It was a fairly easy, cheap, and fun project! Jane, my Mother-In-Law brought me 10 new plants on Tuesday night- so it's back to Grandma's for more jars!

Happy almost-Memorial day weekend!