Wednesday, March 26, 2014


This blog is moving to:

Maison des Jeunes FrenchRobin

Hope you come by to visit.  New look, new topics, photos, tips, and articles.

Cheers --

Friday, March 21, 2014

5 Great Teen Boy Parties

In my last post I shared about my son's upcoming birthday.  He's turning 17 and it is such an awesome age.

But throwing a party for a 17 year old boy can be a challenge.  Parties themes of the past (trains, army, and Lego no longer hold an appeal.  Wonder why?  Jumpy houses are fun but what teenager wants one for their birthday party?

Here are some of my ideas for a great teen boy party.  No parents allowed unless absolutely necessary.  I know my son loves me but he doesn't want me hanging out at the pool with him and his friends.  :D

1.  Pool Party and BBQ

My kids love to swim.  If your teen has a birthday during the warmer months a pool party and BBQ is a wonderful solution.  No decorations necessary, just music, sunscreen, towels, and food.  Lots and lots of food.  Don't forget the squirt guns, soakers, pool toys, and pool rules.

2.  Gaming Marathon

What teenager doesn't like to game?  Ask your son's friends to bring their gaming consoles over, network them, and the kids can have a group gaming party.  The majority of teens are very knowledgeable about networking -- so don't worry -- let your teen do all the work.  Don't forget the food.  Did I say lots of food?

3.  Beach Party

Send the kids to the beach for the day.  Pack deli sandwiches, drinks, and snacks.  The teens can pack all their desired accessories:  shovels, buckets, towels, whatever they want to have a day at the beach.  My son and his friends love to dig holes and build "sandcastles" and act like goofballs.

4.  Game Day

Does your child have a favorite sports team?  Buy him a few tickets to an upcoming game.  He and his friends will love to see a live game, dinner, stadium food, and a night away from home. 

5.  Concert Time

Just like the sports team, purchase tickets to an upcoming concert for your son and friends.  You may not like the band but he will!  Even if your teen drives you may want to attend yourself as a chaperone -- especially for an overnight trip.  You never know, you may find a new band to love!

Hope these ideas help you plan your next teenagers birthday! 

Cheers -

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Teen Boy Birthday Challenge

Teen boy birthday gifts are a challenge for me.  I have four kids.  Yes. Four -- two girls and two boys.  And I have always struggled to purchase gifts for one of my boys.  He is my second child (first son), is about 6' 2" tall, turning 17 in a few days, and one of the most difficult people to shop for -- ever.

This year, as he approaches adulthood, he is very clear about his latest passion.  His truck.  His exact words, "Mom, my life is all about my truck."  So true.

We agreed to help him pay for some kind of new exhaust thing on the truck.  I have no idea what it is; I'm sure it is loud and annoying, but I'm just glad I don't have to shop for the kid.

However, he must have some kind of gift to open on his birthday (I can't wrap an exhaust system). 

To the rescue is my  9 year-old daughter (the little sister).  She and I put together a wonderful bag of treats that every 17 year-old boy wants and needs for his cool vehicle.  There is nothing more fun than shopping with a tween for her teen brother's gag gift. 

Hee hee hee.


We found fantastic Elton John glasses (here's a fun video about the history of Elton John's glasses),  a great battery-operated fan (because his truck's air conditioning is not working), glow sticks for night vision, and a train horn.

Yes, a train horn.  Because the boy keeps asking if he can put a compressor-operated train horn on his truck.

The answer is no, you may not.

I'll be picking up the dashboard hula girl tomorrow.  Promise!

I must say this is one of the funnest ages for a teen boy -- especially my son.  His sense of humor and fun is delightful.  I know he will be puzzled and then laugh at his birthday treats.  He may even use most of them.

Hope you have fun with your teen son as he matures and develops a good sense of humor.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Great Photography Part 2

This week I devoted much attention and time to reading my new book "How to Create Stunning Digital Photography" by Tony Northrup.  I LOVE this book.  Just a few chapters into the book and my photos have improved tremendously.

Tony Northrup is a great instructor and writer.  The book includes several video clips that expound on the chapter information.  These videos of Tony Northrup are very helpful with example photos, demonstrations, and other tips and tidbits.

Here are some photos I've taken this past week.  A few of these photos were taken while practicing aperture (Chapter 4).  Others were photographed after reading Chapters 1-3 on controlling the background.

This week practice will include aperture, ISO, shutter speeds, and exposure compensation.  Wish me luck!!

 Going on a photo walk downtown was so much fun.  This photo was taken early in the morning before many of the tourists and business were up and going.  This is a very old building on our downtown square.  I adore the foreground focus with the blurred background (aperture!!).  

I think this part of the process will require more time and patience.  Fortunately, the book provides great "homework" and practice projects.  Yea!

This photo is of my daughter and her best friend.  They are standing on a cement wall dated August 5, 1911 looking into the overflow from our lake.

Here I practiced flower close-ups (aka simplifying the photo).  I think concentrating on the flower rather than the background really captures the beauty of the center and petals.

Next up, for me is to starting taking photos of new products.  I am so excited to use my new skills to take amazing product photos.

An added benefit is I am addicted to photography outside the shop.

This is a fun photo.  I never expected to "freeze" the water from the fountain.  The water drop and splashes really make this photo.

I ADORE my new hobby.  Looking forward to seeing your new photos.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Learning Awesome Photography

Of late I have been yearning to learn how to use my new camera properly.  I received a Nikon D3100 DSLR camera last year for my birthday.  It is the first DSLR I've owned and seemed like a great camera to start learning.


To date I have relied on the auto settings only because I don't know how to use the manual settings.  It is a completely foreign language!  Aperture, IOS, depth of field, and f-stops

But I am determined.  I love photography!  I love art and beautiful, interesting images.  And I want to capture some of those images myself.

Since receiving my camera (which I LOVE!) I have been fortunate to receive two more great lenses and a great tripod. 

Searching the Internet for "DSLR photography for beginners" brings up a slew of options.  But I really want something more than what I found.  I really wanted a at-my-own-pace course -- with assignments.  And I was looking for something that is easy to understand and teaches -- not tells - me how to take fantastic photos.

I really liked reading this course but wanted something with more practice and interactive options -  Digital Photography School

I am feeling pressure and a time crunch, however.  My niece is getting married in a few months and the bridal shower in right around the corner.  My goal is to learn and practice indoor shots to capture the shower while honing my outdoor shots for the wedding.  Tall order!

To help with the learning process, and after a visit to my local library, I found a highly recommended book with video on Amazon. 

So, to start my learning process I downloaded "How to Create Stunning Digital Photography" by Tony Northrup. 

Starting Chapter 1 I already love this book.  In the download copy I can click on videos to get more information.


Today, I am out in the field with my husband with the intention to practice what I'm learning.  This should be a lot of fun and I can't wait to share with you.

This learning process will be terrific for my Etsy shop and photographing jewelry pieces to show their best attributes.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

French Country & Pantone Spring 2014

We've heard a lot lately about  Pantone Spring 2014 color trends.  Radiant Orchid is the color getting the most attention.

Now, I love French Country style.  My house is decorated in muted colors of blue, gray, greens, yellows.  I just love the elegance of French decor and French Country allows a rustic, simple twist to the ornate, formal French style.

When Pantone announced the Spring 2014 colors I was a little stumbled.  How to incorporate Radiant Orchid into a French Country decor?  

Pantone Spring 2014

I found great examples incorporating these new colors without compromising the French Country look.  For example, Radiant Orchid is a color found in lavender -- very French!  Freesia is found in different depths of color in flowers.  And Celosia Orange is a wonderful accent color

radiant orchid french country cottage decor lilac soft purple pastel bellflower "Dusky Lavender" shabby chic garden flower photography 5x7

Lavender is a wonderful flower accent, ribbons, vase, framed art, pillow with lavender accents, and more.

Pantone Spring 2014 Colour Report | SouthBound Bride
Hemlock & Celosia Orange  -- Southern

pantone intimacy color trend mood board
Soft gray, lavender, gentle rose, powder blues -- Fabulous!!  Sample

Here's how I incorporated these great colors into my new kitchen hutch.

I started by painting an existing cabinet a pretty gray color.  My kitchen cabinets are the same color.  It is a great neutral color!
I replaced the back with a pretty white bead board sheet.  Just the country touch it needed!

Then I added accent pieces (my latest collection - china tea cups), silver serving pieces, even art work.

For a extra touch I covered wood letters in scrapbook paper and Mod Podge for coasters and to tell my family I LOVE them!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Jewelry Cleaning and Care Tips

It can be frustrating for a favorite piece of jewelry to become soiled and not know how to clean it.  Or for a lovely piece of sterling silver to tarnish and be fearful to clean it.

Ice Blue Silver Rhodium and Cubic Zirconia Dangles

Here's a quick and easy guide, courtesy of Tiffany, to help care for your precious metals, semi-precious, and precious gemstones. 

Antique Silver Iolite & Citrine Dangle

General Care
Over time, fine jewelry can become a treasured family heirloom if it is cared for properly. Dust, pollution and daily wear all conspire to cloud the brilliance of gemstones. The surface of gold, platinum and silver jewelry can become dulled. Timeworn prongs and clasps can result in the loss of a stone or an entire piece of jewelry.

Professional cleanings are recommended as often as once a year. 

Tangerine Orange, Rhodium Silver, and Cubic Zirconia Dangles

Sterling Silver
Sterling silver, one of the most beautiful and lustrous of all metals will tarnish over time. With proper care, your silver will retain its beauty and character for many generations to come.  Other options are rhodium which protects the silver from tarnish.
The First Rule Of Silver Care
Sterling silver tarnishes, especially when exposed to salt air and products containing sulfur, such as rubber bands and some papers. However, silver that is regularly used typically needs less care.  Use or wear your silver every day.
Washing Silver
Wash silver by hand in warm water with a mild detergent. Because many food acids and gases in the air can have a corrosive effect, we suggest that you wash your silver immediately after use. To avoid spotting, it is important to dry your silver immediately after washing. 

Sapphire Blue Rhodium Silver, Cubic Zirconia Dangles

Gold, Platinum
Between professional servicing, most gold and platinum jewelry can be maintained with a non-abrasive cleaner. Examine your jewelry regularly to make sure settings are snug and clasps and joints are secure.

Avoid exposing gold jewelry to household bleach, which will quickly cause gold to discolor and possibly disintegrate.

Jewelry storage is important as well. Use a protective box, case, or tarnish-resistant pouch. Between wearings, place it back in its original case or another suitably lined box or pouch. 

Various Gemstone and Gold-Filled Bangles

Certain basic precautions should be taken with all of your jewelry. However, some gemstones, as outlined in this section, require special care.

Take care to protect your jewelry from impact against hard surfaces and avoid contact with abrasive surfaces. Even a diamond can chip if hit with enough force or at just the right angle. Many stones such as amethyst, emerald, kunzite, opal, pearl, peridot, tanzanite and tourmaline are very delicate and easily abraded. Enamel can also chip or scratch when struck. Gemstones can scratch other gemstones and wear away at precious metals. Therefore, avoid stacking those rings and bracelets that would be vulnerable to such abrasion. Extreme temperatures, perfumes, cosmetics, ultrasonic cleaning and household chemicals can also damage jewelry.

To clean diamonds, use a mild solution of six parts water to one part ammonia and apply with a soft bristle brush.

If worn often, pearls should be cleaned and restrung professionally once a year. Between cleanings, wipe pearls gently with a damp cloth.

External elements such as excessive heat or moisture can affect the overall look of your accessory. Following proper care and storage guidelines will ensure the longevity of this exceptional product. When not in use, store your item in the protective dust bag provided.
Calf And Grain Leather
Leather has inherent slight variations and imperfections, which are normal and add to the beauty of each piece. The grain leather is treated naturally, so color and texture may change over time, darkening and softening to create an elegant patina. If scuffs or bruises occur, rub the affected area with a soft, dry white cloth. 
Now wear that jewelry and look stunning!

Friday, February 7, 2014


Love is in the air.  With Valentine's Day next week I wanted to do some decorating but make it versatile enough for every day.

This is a fun and easy project.  Wood letters, scrapbook paper, Mod Podge, ribbon, and Xacto knife.  That's it!

I found this great scrapbook paper and the letters at Michaels.  The paper matches the colors of my kitchen perfectly.

I just applied Mod Podge to the letters and placed a sheet of scrapbook paper over the letter.  Make sure you place the paper where you want it on the letter.  You'll see why.  Then I applied a coat of Mod Podge over the paper.

I went back and added another coat and let it dry.  Using my Xacto knife I carefully trimmed the paper by tracing the letter (from the back) with my knife.  This is where placing your paper where you want it is important.  I made sure to place the graphic on my letter "L" so it would stay.

Make sure you put something thick onto your surface before cutting!

After removing the excess paper I applied another coat of Mod Podge and 2 more coats on the edges of the letters (to make sure the edges adhered nice and good).

When the letters were dry I added some cute, Valentine's Day ribbon.

I L.O.V.E. these letters and I know they will look great in my living room or kitchen year round.

I may even do these in our family mantra "Forever Young".  

Cheers -- 

Friday, January 31, 2014

10 Favorite Superbowl Pins

The Super Bowl is here and I know you are planning a party.  What is the Super Bowl without friends, food, and fun?

I found great ideas for Super Bowl parties.  If you are looking for ideas for your party of 2 or 20 any of these should be great.  All of these ideas were found on Pinterest but where possible I have linked the original webpage or blog.

Favorite #1:

Treat Display

 Love, love, love this display.  So great for the party and after.  And it has that farmhouse, shabby chic vibe.

Favorite #2:

Food Stadium

These are very popular this year.  The stadium can be individual size or something huge for a large crowd.  I love it can include the food you like and stations around the stadium.

So fun and interactive!

Favorite #3:

Nail Art

Every game gal needs a team spirit manicure.  I love the humor of these choices.  And they are perfect for after the game too!

Favorite #4:

Individual Three Layer Dip

Everyone loves layered dips but they are mess and hard to eat when in a big container.  These individual dips are genius!

 Favorite #5:

Kid Friendly

 Can't forget the kids.  This is a great, simple solution to including the kids during the game while making it as mess-free as possible.  

Favorite #6

The Table

Awesome table scape and decorations.  Just the perfect touch to set everyone in the game mood!

Wedding Elegance
Favorite #7


Who doesn't love bingo?  This game is a great, interactive treat for the young and old.  It can be customized for game plays or commercials.   The kids can even make the cards.  Love!

Camp Kurtz

Favorite #8

Pin the Field Goal

Another terrific game for the kids and adults.  Super easy to make and manage too.

Favorite #9

Paper Chain!

Perfect activity for the kids.  A great way to involve them in the party planning and set up.  Make sure you use your favorite team colors.


Favorite #10

Playing Field Table

Love this table cloth.  It is perfect for any field game and just in time for the Super Bowl.

I hope your Super Bowl party is great fun.  Gathering friends and family to share the game, food, and fun games.  What could be better on a Sunday?