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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Inspiration: This Year's Tree and Mantel

Just a quick post to share this year's tree and mantel decorations...

Four years ago I switched from a gold/cream/burgundy color scheme to white/silver/clear glass. I had hand-made the stockings for the previous colors many years ago and finally switched to cream and burlap stockings this year. So happy I did- I am totally in love with our new stockings. I also went with a burlap tree skirt and natural crepe bow and streamers for the tree and added some variations to the whites, including cream and ivory ornaments. This year's tree is absolutely my favorite so far. I added one of my paper pennant banners to the mantel that I simply have been unable to convince myself to post in the shop because I love it so very much, lol! Well, It's mine for good now....

One awesome find I wanted to share this year are my new sets of glass icicles purchased from a glass artist, R. Keller, of Keller Glass blowing. Absolutely beautiful and extremely affordable. Make sure to check them out.


Friday, December 20, 2013

This Year's Teacher/Staff Gifts

Kids are home from school and it is officially winter break- Yay!

Today I sent the kids to school bearing gifts and since I have been so bad about blogging, I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to get back on track.

The great thing about this post is that it still can be used as quick, but thoughtful last minute Christmas gift ideas.

Jonathan, who is in middle school, was sent with two plates of home baked cookies- one for the teacher's lounge and one for the office.  I used my vintage seam binding, and handmade tag, and the cookies are on a (parchment lined) silver platter. The platters are a great find from the dollar store.

Bekah's were a little more involved. We bought glass mugs from the dollar store, Nestle hot cocoa mix, ultra mini dark chocolate chips, and mini marshmallows. I also found adorable (individually wrapped) candy cane spoons that I ordered from Oriental Trading Company.

Unfortunately the spoons sold out so no link. I can see why....they're so awesome! Hopefully they will have them back in stock for next year.  The cellophane food bags were purchased from Jo-Ann Fabrics. They came with the silver food grade ties as well.  In one bag I put the cocoa, mini chips, and marshmallows. Then added the spoon and the wrapped cookie. Add the vintage ribbon and the personalized tag, and voila!

Have an Inspired Day!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Urban Goose Chase Review

For those who may be stumped by my title....and asking, "What is an Urban Goose Chase?"  It is a big city "action task" scavenger hunt using mobile devices to run and capture the event.  I will post a link below, but because I saw such a lack of reviews and information on the event outside of their own site, which isn't exactly an "unbiased" opinion, I thought I would give it a go on my blog.

To preface, it was just made official that our team, Suburban Marauders, won 1st place for Saturday's Detroit I will do my very best to be fair in my assessment and maybe give a few tips that will help future urban goose chasers beyond the obvious "Read the FAQ's and rules on the site" ;) Also, a couple observations come from some very deep digging on the net and their facebook page for common complaints.

Shout out to my Suburban Marauders peeps: Marc, Mike, Liz, Vinh, & Team "Captain" Chris!

1. To start:
Well, there is no "Starting Point" in the game.

This leads to some odd situations where people are not doing the hunt completely in the big city limits. However, I would say for the most part that people follow the rules to stay "in the area".  The issue I see arising from this, is some of the tasks are extremely difficult in certain cities, and for that, are high point tasks.  (Such as, finding a gas station or grocery store in downtown Detroit to complete a task.) If someone didn't follow the rules and went outside of the city to complete most of their quests, they could easily find themselves winning the game.  

I think a "start point" would put people on an even playing field.  On the other hand, it was nice to be able to use some level of strategy what part of the city to start in, and alleviated many of the "following" teams that will piggy back on your efforts by simply following you around.  We actually had one team use that strategy yesterday when they realized that we were the leading team at that point. I don't have a problem with using strategy like that...but it would definitely become redundant and would also create a situation where one specific area becomes inundated with the contestants. I am glad that we had the element of surprise and not viewed as more of a nuisance by most of the people we asked for help. Additionally, it allows people to be far more creative with their submissions- which is half the laughs, after all!

In conclusion, no starting point spreads the love all over the city, but maybe an initial gps "check in" should be incorporated in the game so that they can confirm that all contestants are in the city when they start playing.

2. Clear photos are very important.

If you or the person you are asking to take pictures can not click a clear shot, you may be out of luck.  Make sure you have a decent phone and a reliable picture taker. Double check photos before you submit.   Case in point, we all paid to get on the people mover, with the Macarena blaring on a team member phone, and over 8 people doing the Macarena, including two small children sitting in seats (for safety) dancing with their arms. The guy who took the shot only snapped 7 of us, blurry, pretty much arms only.  We had to jump off in a rush next stop, and when we saw the image didn't realize what he had done. We may have done the challenge, but we didn't get the shot approved (which we absolutely agree with that choice by the judges). It was worth a ton of points. Learn from our mistake.

BAD  Photo :(

3. The devil is in the details (kind of)

Be very careful to read the quests. One tiny detail will cause you to have the photo eliminated. Kind of. The judging is NOT equal or fair. Some people got a pass for the same mistakes that we made (example: one of our photos was eliminated because we did everything asked except wear a helmet.  Another team made the same mistake and their photo was not thrown out.)  And there is no way to dispute a judge's decision. So do as many tasks as possible and don't give never know what photos will be thrown out for all the teams.  

4. People can be haters (sometimes)

Unfortunately, UGC incorporated a up/down voting system on the app photos.  It is totally unnecessary and does not affect the final judging, but what it does do is allow other teams to be negative and spiteful. Remember to not take it personally when you see your photos downvoted on the app and have no idea why (there are no comments, thank goodness). It also allows other teams to be nice, but when it's a competition like this, and people are grumpy about unfair judging, or they want to psych out another team...they let it out the only way they can...down-voting other people's photos.  They will even downvote great photos done within the rules...don't let it get you down.  I think the up and down voting should be completely removed.  It serves no good purpose. So I suggest ignoring the up and down voting completely while you play and after during judging. Remember to just stay upbeat. Smile and wave at all the orange peeps, remembering that the people running around competing against are playing the city jesters just like you!

5. Judging is not always "fair"

Yeah, I know I already said that, but it bears repeating. Be prepared to have fun, be prepared to have a great time with friends, be prepared to walk A LOT, and get out of your comfort zone. But with that said, be prepared to suffer a couple of disappointments and a few surprises at final judging. It's probably simple human oversight for the most part.  I am sure people have lost the winning slot because of unequal judging, and it doesn't look like the owners of UGC will be doing anything about some of the glaring inconsistencies. They state clearly that judging is final and they will not answer emails contesting judging. I hope they will change this, because it stinks. BUT, if you remain focused on just having fun and enjoying the actual competitiveness with other fun-loving people- you are going to have a GREAT time.

6. What watering hole?

It was really a bummer that at the end there was no sponsored eatery with a bar.  I definitely think all cities should have a proposed destination where everyone can meet up after it's over.  Obviously this would be optional, but since there is very little way for people to communicate before and after (besides a very obscure "recent posts" section on their Facebook wall that can be muddled with other unrelated questions, photos, posts, etc.)  I would have loved to toast everyone who played along and share stories and laughs about our day's antics in the big city. While I don't think people should message each other- that could go wrong on so many levels- I do think UGC either should not post on their website that people meet up after at a "watering hole" unless it is easier for one to be met up at, or simply fix this issue. I think it would prove a great promotional benefit if they pulled in the help of an establishment for an "after party" location.

Final thoughts:

I would absolutely do it again, and plan on it. Our team went in not expecting anything but a fantastic day together as friends...we were in shock to find we were battling for 1st place half way through, and while certainly, that made it all the more fun, it would not have changed that this is indeed a tremendous way to spend a Saturday with fellow fun-loving people! Want to join in an Urban Goose Chase near you? Just go to

Happy Chasing!

Celebrating at our watering hole of choice: Detroit Beer Co.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Dollar Bin: Paper Mache' Fruit

Dare I admit that my paper mache' sculptures are sometimes dollar bin finds from Michaels?  Of course!

When I first purchased the paper mache' fruit, I think it sat in my "future use" storage for a few months. Which is actually pretty good, because the average is a couple years unless I am incredibly inspired about something. Sad, I know.  But I have accepted that my inspiration for things can be very overwhelming since I see an idea or tweak in most everything around me. These fun fruits found their way onto my design table faster than most because I was working on cupcake gift boxes.  I had a lot of extra glaze (a special mix I make) so I grabbed the fruit and some vintage paper and got to work.

I have a method to my madness in covering pieces to enhance shape and form and the text from the book I am using, and it does take a lot more time than just slapping on pieces willy nilly.  But willy nilly would work nicely too for those with a little less patience than me.

I haven't made any in a while, but just looking at the photos again reminded me that there are a few more lonely fruits in storage....banana anyone?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Daddy Daughter Dance Layout

I don't often get the chance to create a personal layout these days, but I have found that the best way for me to get out of an artistic block is to pull together a layout from a recent photo.  I struggled with this picture because the backdrop in the photo is garish.

Finding paper or embellishments matching the "neon garden" style requires a little digging. Luckily I remembered purchasing this great Simple Stories line of paper at Scrappy Chic called Fabulous.  And even though the paper was originally for a bedroom decor project in Bekah's room, I had purchased the bright crochet flowers with this layout in mind. They fit perfectly together.  

The kraft tags are stamped with some fun images I have collected over the years from those same dollar bins, and the title is made with Technique Tuesday stamps. Pearls also came from that same famous bin....notice a pattern here? My husband always announces in Michaels when we approach the front to pay for my supplies, "And now 15 minutes to stare at the dollar junk." Then proceeds to start playing a game on his phone.  The craft stores have made a mint off of me from those bins. Of course, I have made some pretty nifty things from them, so the complaints have evolved to a teasing joke :)

On Monday, I will be showing examples of the fun things I have made over the years from the craft store dollar bin. I look forward to having you come share in the inspiration!


Monday, January 7, 2013

Inspiration Tidbit: Vignette Addition

An inspiration tidbit from my home to yours:

A little something I added to my entry vignette :) This is just a quick impromptu blog, so forgive the "less-than-desirable" photos.  The "vintage door knob" hanger was from Hobby Lobby, and the keys were from the dollar bin in Michaels. I tied the keys together with my hand-dyed vintage ribbon- Love how it turned out!  

It was a quick way to make fabulous impact on the overall balance of the vignette design. (Framed photo is photography by: Ara133Photography)

Have an inspired day!