Archive for April 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How to DIY a Mad Hatter Tea Party

If there is one thing I am passionate about, it's a PARTY!  It's not just the fun of the days events that really gets me excited but all the preparation that happens before hand.  There are themes to choose and ideas to gather, guests to invite and party favors to organize.  Paint, wood, jigsaws and screws all play a large role in any celebration I plan.

I can't help my freaky party passion.

I was born that way!

I must admit, my addiction is no longer confined to weddings and birthday parties for families.  Having visited Horticulture Shows and famous gardens the world over, I realized that theme's are not just for private functions.  They actually play a very large part in how we create joy and wonder even in our own business.  So we decided to try our hand at creating a little theatrical fun in our neck of the woods but on a shoe string budget.

If you have stopped by the store lately, you may have noticed a "Mad Hatter Tea Party" theme going on. We scrounged up a few old pieces of plywood that were laying around, pulled out the jigsaw and started cutting.

I was successfully able to accomplish this task without losing a finger!

Next to Home Depot for some perfect paints to help us set the tone for our fanciful Wonderland landscape.

A few nights of fun and our mushrooms are all finished!

 Personally, I find THIS part of the project super simple.

It's THIS part of the project that I can't wrap my mind around.  Perhaps because it requires a whole lot of brawny strength to achieve.  It's always very handy to have the Big Guy around to get the REAL WORK done.

 As you can imagine, a few mushrooms on a hill out back do NOT a total THEME make so.....

Using a VERY OLD can of black paint with a thick dry skin was easy on the budget but tough on the painter.
we had to get busy on making a bunch more characters to include in unexpected places.  Of course, our Cheshire Cat hangs out in the old Chestnut trees along the road where they spin in the wind, appearing and disappearing like magic.

Once again, the Big Guy climbs to great heights to get things done!
My favorite part of the whole theme is the Croquet Game.  My inspiration came from Pinterest, as all good ideas do.

A few Card Soldiers cut out of Coroplast
A few dashes of red paint and some bamboo stakes to secure them in the garden and our Mad Hatter Tea Party is ready for the show!

This past weekend was a busy one for us at the store since the Easter Bunny popped by to join the fun!  We had tons of toddlers searching for eggs and getting their photos taken in the garden.

Cotton Candy and helium balloons definitely made this a REAL party!

Let me assure you, hopping around in THIS outfit is a fantastic AEROBIC WORKOUT!

 I hope everyone one had a good time because WE sure did!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pinterest Inspired Easter Photo Shoot

A Pinterest inspired photo shoot

Are you a Pinterest Junky?  Do you troll for endless hours looking at all the beautiful images that inspire you to create amazing things just to find out that in reality, it's not as easy to re-create that perfect shot as you thought it was going to be?  I believe that those of us in the crowd who might call ourselves slightly addicted share a few similar traits......

1.  Eternal Optimism
2.  Boundless Enthusiasm
3.  Panaglossianism

NOTE:  I had to do a little research on that last word but as a mom of 2 College kids, I thought I should show them that I too can use big words in a meaningful way.  I think it will help them relate better to their mother when they return home for Summer break!

Pinterest is our Utopia.

Pinterest gives us hope.

This week found my daughter and I trying to take some photos for our Easter advertising campaign using my favourite model, Wee Three.  We both understood that this wasn't going to be easy.  We had planned 3 different settings based on Pinterest photos we thought were ADORABLE.  All that remained was the execution.  How hard can it BE to photograph an 8 month old in bunny ears?!

Piece of cake, right?

This was one of our Pinterest inspiration photos

Right from the start it became evident that at 8 months old, Wee Three is easily distracted.

I was the photographers assistant.

My model was determined to see what was going on behind her.

I think I may have to take a few classes in the art of baby photography if we ever try this again.

This Pinterest photo gave us our second setting

Our next shot was even more challenging due to the fact that Wee Three was not particularly excited about wearing a hat......

and as I was the photographer's assistant, it was my job to keep it on her.

Unfortunately, there was the added complication of a big brother wandering around the studio in search of stray easter eggs and generally creating as much havoc as possible.

At one point in the session I was so focused on keeping our subject in line that I tripped over something and nearly broke a leg to avoid landing on the white back drop for fear of making it dirty.

I wasn't worried about landing on Wee Three.  She has so much extra padding she is like one of those Sponge Towel guys.  She would cushion my fall no problem.

I leave you with a few of the final photos that made the grade.  Enjoy and happy PINNING!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Grandfather - a Testimony

My Grandparents with our family in the mid 1970's (that's me in the yellow dress)

A young girl sits awkwardly at the harmonium in her grandfather's basement.  Her short little legs are barely long enough to reach the foot-pedals.   The smell of stale dust blows out of the dry leather bellows and adds an odd whiff of history to that distinct aroma which always pervades the home of the aged.  The whining drone of the reeds, hauntingly similar to the sound of badly tuned bag pipes, puff out an old Genevan tune that immediately bring a river of tears to her eyes.  She only knows 3 chords but she is ever so thankful to the cousin who showed her how to play them one rainy afternoon.  Those 3 chords opened up a world of opportunity to sing in a church choir of her own making.  Transported by the beauty of the harmonies and the power of the words she is half standing and half sitting on the bench looking as if she is riding a bike far too large for her tiny frame.  Her little legs pedal furiously to keep the music flowing.

"As the hart, about to falter,
In its trembling agony,
Longs for flowing streams of water,
So, O God, I long for Thee.
Yes, athirst for Thee I cry;
God of life, O when shall I
Come again to stand before Thee
In Thy temple, and adore Thee?"

Staying with her grandparents for extended visits had become a usual occurrence.  Her Mother and Father were struggling to keep their marriage together.  Her days at school brought rest from the trauma of a tattered marriage bond however many a late night argument violently woke the children from their peaceful sleep.  They huddled together for comfort in their shared bedrooms, awaiting the storms abatement.  Grandfather wanted the children kept from the chaos as much as possible and provided a calm and quiet place of refuge that ensured  stability for the little girl and her siblings.  His was a home where tea time was always at 10 am, the old grandfather clock was wound with perfect precision every evening at 8 pm, and the Bible was read with the regularity of a rooster's crow.

As the Vox Jubilante belts out the sweet refrain, the little girl sings along with a sorrow too deep for her tender age.  

"Bitter tears of lamentation
Are my food by night and day.
In my deep humiliation
“Where is now your God?” they say.
Oh, my soul’s poured out in me,
When I bring to memory
How the throngs I would assemble,
Shouting praises in Thy temple."

Psalm 42 is her favourite psalm. The words contain her inmost thoughts even though they were written thousands of years before by an adult King in a foreign land.  She too, like David, felt deep humiliation.  All the other families in her tightly knit dutch immigrant community lived normal lives together, going to church twice on Sunday, having happy family dinners where they gathered around the table to read and pray with each other.  But she was not like them.  Her family looked very different.  She did not fit in with all the other little girls who had a warm safe place to sleep at night without a care or worry of what the dark night ahead might hold.  No, she slept with one leg dangling over the edge of the bed and one foot firmly planted on the floor, ready to escape at a moments notice.  How she longed for things to be the way they used to be!

Her breathing begins to become laboured and her body to tire as she feeds the old bellows with enough wind to keep up the sad refrain.  There in her Grandfather's basement as the music drones on, she imagines his gnarled hands lovingly holding his tattered Bible, pages scarred by pencil gashes and red ink.  She recalls how after a quiet lunch of white bread and gouda cheese  he humbly dropped to his knees to pray with her, giving thanks for all his blessings.  His head bowed, hair thin and white with age, he spoke quietly of the faithfulness of his Heavenly Father in his own life and those of the generations before and those yet to come.  His God was a faithful God.  His God was her God. 

"O my soul, why are you grieving,
Why disquieted in me?
Hope in God, your faith retrieving:
He will still your refuge be.
I again shall laud His grace
For the comfort of His face:
He will show His help and favour,
For He is my God and Saviour."

As the words fly from her heart and her voice soars above the groaning pipes, she pedals faster.  The bellows huff and puff, the piccolo joins in, the angels pause for a moment to listen.

"But the LORD will send salvation,
And by day His love provide.
He shall be my exultation,
And my song at eventide.
On His praise e’en in the night
I will ponder with delight,
And in prayer, transcending distance,
Seek the God of my existence."

The little girl lies spent, arms stretched out across the quiet keyboard as the last bits of wind escape like a whisper from the empty bellows.  Her heart is beating fast from so much exertion.  She feels that she is not alone in the quiet basement full of old framed photos and antique cupboards bursting with delicate china handed down from an older generation.  She feels the presence of her grandfather and his grandfather before him who faithfully lived lives that testified to something much greater than themselves.  Their testimony was of a faithful God of the Covenant who sent His own Son to die for us that they all might live.  A Father who makes good things out of bad, strong men out of weak, and Saints out of sinners.