Oh yes, it's yet another installment of the Ralph's-seemingly-never-ending-it-took-on-a-life-of-it's-own Birthday extravaganza. I would like to tell you that this will be the last installment, but I am not making any promises.
I shared with you that I planned, and planned, and planned some more. You've seen the unveiling of the dream-come-true vacation adn the pretty wrappings, as well as the uncorked merriment that ensued on the airplane ride.
I will try (try) to be brief here as I touch on some highlights of the trip.
Suffice to say that we made the most of every moment (literally) of this vacation. The first night (Saturday) we went into Kent (as in the home of Kent State) and partied like rock stars..okay, not so much, but what we did do was go to a very cool brew pub named Bar 145, (recommended by the darling little coed working the front dest at our hotel)and we listened to a three piece band that played original stuff, mixed in with some killer 80's rock. I got myself a sweet tee with their awesome tagline...
...and now I am jonesing for some red Chuck's. (You know I collect white dishes of any kind, right?)
We arrived the next day at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just as they opened, and we were there until they closed. Ohmygosh, if you love rock and roll, put this place on your bucket list.
Not only are there the expected things (Elvis memorobilia, Beatles artifacts...) but the unexpected....
...things like Timothy B.Schmit's room key collection. (Think about it. Kids today do not even know of a time when hotel rooms used real keys, and he collected them from every stop on each tour.) and the ca-razy drum kit that Alex Van Hallen used in the 80's.
Heck, they even had Pink Floyd's, "The Wall" all set up to walk through.
I know. I'm surely dating myself. I wasn't exactly a giant Pink Floyd myself, back in the day, but...wow.
It was amazing.
Along with all of the mind-boggling items to see, and the oodles and toodles of videos to watch, they has some of the most interesting employee hosts I've ever interacted with, all along the way, sharing fascinating details and antecdotes about these legends.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame was a repeat of fabulous-ness, and did not disapoint. We were there from open until very nearly close as well, and as luck would have it, we managed to be there just one week after they had installed the newest NFL video in the theater focused on the fantastic Superbowl XLVIII, which was all about those Seahawks. This made some of us very happy.
It turns out the third day of our trip is a post in itself, so I'm glad I didn't promise this was the last installment.
Tomorrow we'll be talking thrift shops, bakeries, weather, and horses and buggies, folks. Trust me, you don't wanna miss it.
I've shared the wrap job for the presents, and the totally-Tracey way that I presented the surprise trip. Today I am going to share some of the details that started the trip off on a high note.
Because I started planning oh, so far in advance, I kept coming up with more ideas, for each and every moment of the trip, and I had a blast every step of the way. (The hardest part was not letting anything slip out in conversation during those long months!)
If you clicked on the link in yesterday's post to read the book I created, you know that one part of the big birthday surprise was that my Rock and Roll Buddy's best guy-friend came along with us on the trip.
You see, they were friends from way back, as well as band mates in their earlier days of rocking and rolling. While looking for something on my computer, I came upon two old photos of them setting up band gear in what appears to be a country field but was actually Ralph's sisters yard. A couple of years ago, his brother in law had given me a lot of old pictures and these were in the folder.
I printed copies of those photos, with rock and roll quotes below them to use as fun labels on one side of the goodie bags I made up for the long plane ride. On the other side I had a different fun quote about the birthday boy.
I somehow never photographed the goodie bags with my camera, so the only memento of the goodie bags that I have to share is the one and only picture I took with my phone to share with a gal-pal while I was organizing things the day before we flew out.
Sorry 'bout that. You'll have to picture the details in your mind.
When we got ready to board the first flight I gave them each their treat bag with the old photos facing away from the guys, and once we were air born, they both took a peek inside the bags at all of the treats. Now, Ralph is accustomed to having a lil' sumthin' sumthin' as a surprise (usually peanut M&Ms...) on pretty much every plane trip we take, because...well, that's what I like to do for him. His buddy Mike was a bit more gobsmacked by the surprises awaiting him in his custom goodie bag.
It was easy to make ordinary snacks special. I made simple tags and attached them with a hole punch and a small piece of ribbon - "You're all that and a bag of chips" on bags of chips (what else?) and "Sometimes you feel like a nut" on peanut M&Ms and chocolate covered peanuts. Ear-buds so we could all watch TV on the computer (I bought this way-cool amplifier/splitter thingamajig that allowed three sets of ear-buds to plug into one laptop for easy viewing. What will they think of next?!)
I also had a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Trivia calendar for me to test their rock and roll knowledge, and I have to say, they didn't disappoint. They knew most every answer, and it inspired lots of old stories and belly laughs.
I had the latest issue of Rolling Stone as well as a Seahawk themed magazine for some theme focused light reading, although we were laughing and talking far too much to ever crack the cover on either one of them.
They loved all of the airplane surprises and snacks, but when I told them to flip the bags around to see the photos, they both had a good laugh, (The groovy overalls, the long and possibly-even-permed hair, the vintage equipment...) and we took a mini vacation down memory lane.
I nailed it on that one, if I do say so myself.
That is, until my friend at work came up with the perfect gift...
She suggested I take him to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
"Where is that?!" I asked, realizing we had just struck gold.
"Detroit", she replied.
Well, not quite.
I googled it and it turned out that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, Ohio.
(Of course, it is. Cleveland rocks, after all.)
And so, the idea was born, early last October. (It was a no-brainer, what with his background in music, and being a Beatles fan since the age of six...)
The real kicker came less than a week later, when I discovered a thing called a Hall Pass on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website. A Hall Pass is a ticket you purchase that gets you into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Shut the door.
Oh yeah, I knew then that I had the makings of an epic birthday present, and for once, I was planning things far enough out to leave no detail to chance.I decided it would be a total surprise, with us flying out the morning before his birthday, and I would give him his present the night before we would fly out.(Wow. I made that sound more complicated than it was. I gave him the presnt Frday night, we flew out Saturday morning at Oh-dark-thirty, and his birthday was Sunday.)
Week by week, I planned and plotted, becoming quite well acquainted with the folks at the Rock Hall via email. (They were the ones who recommended we stay in Fairlawn Ohio because it is halfway between Canton and Cleveland.) The trip became more and more elaborate, and all of the teeny-tiniest details became focal points for me. (Things like Goody-Bags for the plane ride, and printed movie schedules, and thrift store and brew pub maps...)
As the time for the surprise birthday trip neared, I realized I needed a fantastic-never-to-be-forgotten way of presenting his present.
That's when I found this company. (Thank you, Pinterest. And as it turned out, they are just outside of Portland, Oregon...I love this place.)
I designed and ordered a teaser slide show from them to get things started. (It's so easy! You can use photos, or colored backdrops, and you can add text over any of them!)
There were so many details I felt I needed to share with him before we took off, that I decided to create a book from my most favorite book design company.
I ended up crafting this book with all of the pages done in a chalkboard backdrop, and creamy letters, with pops of orange throughout. I answred the who-what-when-where-and-why's and then walked him through the day-by-day itinerary of the milestone birthday surprise. You can see (and read!)my book creation here.
I will be editing this post and adding another set of collage pics tonight, but suffice to say, the presentation of my Rock and Roll Buddy's Big 6-0 Birthday present was spot on!
I'm a little over-the-top like that.
Here's the thing you need to know. Once his birthday passed last year, he mentioned (more than once) that he didn't want a big party with black balloons and over-the-hill banners, with a cake all ablaze with a gajillion candles and people singing.
And, because I know him well, I knew he meant that.
Still, he knows me just as well, and so he knows that I struggle to not make every occasion, big or small, a major event.
Anyway, I was determined to make his milestone birthday a moment to rememeber forever, in a way he would love, and I had an idea, way back last fall.
I thought I would take him to a fantastic concert. A band or singer he hadn't seen and would be gobsmacked to know we had tickets for.
Only, I couldn't find such a thing.
And so, I moaned and groaned and whined quite a little bit, and thought and thought, and still, nothing came to mind.
And that's when one of my gal-pals at work ignited an idea that exploded into the perfect present for Mister I-don't-want-a-party.
I'll share her nearly-too-perfect-for-words idea tomorrow, but for today, I thought I would start by sharing the birthday boy's present's wrap job.
(Are you wondering what she came up with?)
So, let's talk gift wrap.
And making your presents extra special by customizing the wrap job.
My signature wrap is brown kraft paper, and then I embellish things from there. In this case, there were two very special packages to be wrapped.
I wrapped the first present in my kraft paper. I added black and white gingham ribbon, and shred. I layered torn paper streamers, and followed this with some black satin ribbon, along with a homemade tag that I knew would make him chuckle.
The smaller present came to me in a small white box, so all I did was find a perfect picture online. (I googled electric guitars in "Images" online and then added my own text in my cheesy print program, but sites like PicMonkey can do the same thing for you.)
Once I printed the picture, I mounted it on black paper and glued it to the top of the box. Once this was done, I turned the box upside down and added a ribbon and another great little homemade tag with a small clue as to what might be coming his way.
(Can you guess?)
I'm working on expanding my customizable printable party and entertaining creations in my etsy shop, and just when I was running out of ideas, I received an opportunity to share an idea related to pirates, or fairies, or both, as the all-new Disney movie, The Pirate Fairy is set to come out on DVD.
All the ideas will be shared on a Disney Pinterest board very soon, and there is even a FaceBook page dedicated to Disney Fairies.
I knew exactly what I wanted to create. You see, when my son was in kindergarten, we had a pirate birthday party for him, complete with a treasure chest, eye patches, pirate hats, and treasure maps in bottles for the invitations. Now, keep in mind that this was long, long before any of us had a laptop, or Pinterest. I hand drew the map invitations and then had copies made (at the copy store) and then hand colored them all in, before rolling them up and tucking them in bottles with a little sand and sea shells.
I decided to design the 2014 version of the treasure map invitation, and I really like the way it came out. I printed it on a ledger style scrapbook paper for a more rustic look, but really, these could be printed on any color paper you like.
I rolled them up, and popped them inside the bottles, along with some sand, and seashells, and even some plastic pearls.
I popped in the cork and added the "Open me" tag.
How much fun would it be to host a Pirate Fairy movie party, complete with these invites, and possibly some cupcakes topped with candy shells and pearls?
Use a bold red and white, or black and white striped fabric for a table topper, and give all of your little guests pirate hats and eye patches.
Oh, and maybe even have a photo area to take some memorable shots of the little pirate crew...some to keep, and one to use on a thank you for coming to our party cards.
How fun does this all sound?
I think I will add some printable bottle or juice box wraps, and cupcake flags to round out this printable set...can you think of anything I've missed?
As we were watching a re-run of the Goldbergs on TV last night, I was looking through iphoto on my Mac and I stumbled across a photo shoot I did of a birthday cake I had made for my daughter. My mouth started to water, and I suddenly was overcome with the incredible urge to bake.
Only I was too tired at that moment.
Do you do that? Get all inspired to do something you love (bake, clean, rearrange things, start that book you've had on the night table for three months, or whatever.)when you're already in your jammies and robe, and too tired to actually get off of the sofa and do that thing. (unless it's to get a bowl of almond pistachio ice cream.)
I know that I have the same number of hours in my day as Thomas Edison, and Oprah, but I never seem to be able to get everything accomplished that I want to. Life is just so...full.
(in a good way, but still....full.)
I keep thinking, if I just had three more hours, oh! The things I could do.
Baking another coconut cake would be on the top of the list.
I couldn't resist this latest sign I found at Camas Antiques for the frat house. With four boys sharing a bathroom, this was a definite gotta-have for above the toilet, don'tcha think?
I think it's one of her best works, myself. Love the colors and the prints. Love the precision straight pieces of fabric, and the incredible workmanship. You can see all the love that went into this project.
(Did I mention that she let me hand pick the fabrics for her?)
Yep, I did.
(I do not have the patience to sew anything, not even a hem, but I have an eye for color, and prints, and patterns.
I chose to go with the colors that were in the newest little man's nursery. Shades of whites, grays, and a pop of mustard.
The sewing queen came up with the fantastic idea of the monogram "K".
And, she brought it to life.
Like I said...Lovin' it.
They don't call her the Sewing Queen for nothin'.
By that I mean that you can make anything special by simply taking a few moments to add a homemade tag with a foofy-la-roo ribbon.
Case in point: A while back one of my work friends posted on Facebook that she wished she had a backscratcher, and I just happened to see her post.
I also just happened to have a backscratcher, among my stash of thrifted wooden back massager thing-a-ma-jigs, just lying there never being used....so I made a cute little tag and tied it with a bow. (It reads,"If it itches, scratch it, Gail Jean"...) It took me all of four minutes.
The next morning at work I set it on her desk before she arrived.
(Pretty sure I made her smile.)
Next time you think of giving something ordinary to a friend (baby clothes your little guy has outgrown, homemade cookies, a DVD you're done enjoying...whatever.) think about adding a ribbon and a homemade tag, with a quote, the word thanks, or enjoy, or their name. It will look like a million bucks and the recipient will feel extra special.
Here are some pictures of the latest transformation my little booth case at Camas Antiques has made.
My grown up girl job over the past few weeks taken on a whole new level of busy. While I truly love what I do for a living, keeping up (or at least me doing something that remotely resembles me trying to keep up) is stressful in a way that is a world away from my comfort zone.
Doing things with family and frineds after work and on weekends helps bring me back to center, and puts things a bit more in perspective, as to where my priorities lie. I try to be fully present in the moment, and not think on the pile of duties mounting each moment I am not at work.
I realized this past weekend that my booth space at Camas Antiques is a wonderful respite from that stress as well. Saturday my guy took me to one of my favorite Goodwills (if there is such a thing...sometimes the prices send me into a slow burn, as I shared a long, long time ago....)
Anyway, the Goodwill in the sleepy town of McMinville, Oregon is one of my most favorite to hit. I came out of there last Saturday with three bags, heaping full. (We were in my VW Bug, and so bigs were not an option!)
A pair of 3-6 month Tommy Hilfiger overalls for grand #7, a Melissa and Doug tambourine for the boys at the frat house to add to their musical instrument collection, and just as nice, lots of little treasures for my booth.
I'll price them today, and run down to re-fluff things again, since last Friday was First Friday, and things are likely to be a bit tumbled around.
Just working on my booth space, being creative...is really a great escape for me. I find my sweet spot and things that were in the back of my mind tugging at me to worry, melt away. I get rejuvenated and my mind floods with new ideas and I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
I saw this sign last Saturday when my Rocker Buddy and I were at the old car parts shop getting some much needed items for my old truck, and I knew I had to get it.
With my daughter's fourth baby boy arriving just three weeks ago, clearly the upstairs bathroom was screaming for this sign.
Am I right?
If not on the door, then at least inside the bathroom, between the mirrors, or above the toilet.
Isn't it funny how the teeniest, tiniest thing can completely make your day?
Like a silly smile.
Or a dogs-eating-an-ice-cream-cone video on YouTube or facebook.
Or a handul of kind words.
I've always said I could live for a week off of one good compliment, and I got one this past Tuesday.
You see, I got a new comment on a blog post that was about five years old. When I saw it in my email alerts, (I get those whenever I get a blog comment) I assumed it was one of those annoying Spammers that put all that jibberish or nasty stuff online, so I opened it up right away. (Even if no one is reading my old posts and comments from five years ago, I don't want that garbage on there.)
Anyway, it wasn't a Spammer. It was a very nice, incredibly touching comment from a guy named Ken.
You see, Ken is a fairly new Toastmaster in a town or city somewhere out there, and he was researching for his first big speech, which, in Toastmaster Clubs, is called, "The Icebreaker" speech.
Well, when Ken googled whatever he googled, he ended up on my old blogpost, and he read it. He felt compelled to comment, and well..that little comment was so kind, and sweet, and so what I was needing to hear at that very moment, that I found myself all teary-eyed right there at my work desk.(It's been an extra tough week at work, what can I say?)
Here is what my new cyber-friend Ken said:
Kind, and sweet, and fabulous, right?
Knowing that someone really identifies with me, or feels "drawn in" by what I write...it's like...wow.
While I am basking in the glow of Ken's flattering comment, I realize that it takes only a moment to make someones day..or week.
To give a heartfelt compliment, to leave a post-it note on someone's computer screen at work, or a scribbled sharpie marker message on the bathroom mirror (that's one of my favorite do-it-when-he's-not-expecting-it things, and I like to use song lyrics...) or shoot a quick atta-girl email to a friend, or any other random act of kindness, takes only a moment, and yet, it can be the absolute highlight of their week.
Thanks Ken, for giving me that lovely present of your kind words, and even more, for inspiring me to make it a point to brighten somebody's day, every day.
My daughter's DIY project made it into a regional lifestyle magazine, and even landed her on the cover!(and her family, before bouncing baby boy number 4 arrived a couple of weeks ago!)
She and her hubbs team up to do some pretty aah-mazing handiwork around their home, and as gift items (I've been the recipient of a couple fabulous wood items I will be sharing soon...)
In her article she walks you through how to add wood to the wall for a fantastic vintage feel. It's hard to tell in my photos of her spread, but if you pop over to her blog, you can see that it looks adorable in the new nursery.
Great job, Heather Feather!
We had the luxury of a Sunday with no plans, and added to that, we are having another cold snap of weather. I know, it's not "cold" to many of you, but waking up to low 30's here on a weekend is cause for a roaring fire and old school cocoa with giant marshmallows.
To me anyway.
We also had a cinamon rolls with orange zest frosting, a breakfast treat that we haven't had in more than a year. Mmmm mmm mmmmm.
So yummy. Comfort food,(even if it was a gajillion calories) a big ol' fire, and good company, as we sat all snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug under my favorite blanket throw, with no clock watching to get moving to go anywhere.
If you read my blog regualrly you know that little mister seven just arrived, and we are all waiting on little number eight to arrive at any moment now. (we don't know if it's a little he, or a little she yet!)
What you might not realize, however, is that all eight of my sweet lil' grands have a cousin within a few months of their age.
It makes for perfect playmates when they get together.
One and two are about four weeks apart, and three and four are just a hair over four months apart. Numbers five and six are only two months apart, and the newest little babes will be about a month apart (just like numbers one and two!)
One day last week the two toddlers got to play at Little Cups and Grownups while the older boys were in preschool, and I got a few pictures of them.
How fun is this, to have a little cousin, just your age, to stack cups with...
...and check out the little kitchen with...
...and to spot you on the slide?
Life just doesn't any get better than this.
A splash of Robin's egg blue here and there, a vintage ice cream maker and other ice cream themed items, and some vintage creates...
I've got lots more to add as things thin out, and slowly but surely, everything new is arriving with my new tags...
Remember the dream truck we got nearly a year ago, last spring?
A thing of beauty, it was.
Such a fabulous shade of vintage sage green.
It was perfect in every way, all original.
Which sadly, turned out to be a bit of a challenge.
The old school brakes and lack of power steering made for more than a few hair-raising moments on the road.
My Rock n' Roll Buddy gave me one driving lesson, and well, let's just say that there was a lot of dashboard grabbng, and hollering, and tears were shed.
(And that was just Ralph.)
We won't even go into how upset I was.
So, being as driving the truck turned out to be less than ideal (and completely out of my comfort zone.) we came to the conclusion that what I needed was an old classic truck that had been updated.
Modified with power steering.
And disc brakes.
And so, we sold the wonderful sage green truck (and doubled our money, thankyouverymuch.) and I began searching dilegently online for it's replacement.
Finally, after months of searching online, and a few trips around town to look at potential contenders, I found one on craigslist.
After emailing with the owner, and having him send oodles of additional photos of the truck, I decided this just might be the one. We called and spoke with the owner, and at this point I learned a valuable lesson.
The lesson is this: Pay close attention to the location of the item your inquiring about. (unless you like road trips.)
As we reached an agreement on the time we would meet, and at this point the guy asked where we would be coming from.
"Camas," I said.
"Where's that?", he replied.
(Suddenly it occurred to me that I was just assuming the truck was in our area, because it was listed on the Portland craigslsist.)
It turned out that the perfect truck of my dreams was about three hours away, just a few miles from Seattle.
Fortunately, Ralph and I do like road trips. (and it didn't hurt that Ralph has family up in that area.)
We loaded up, and off we went.
We met the guy and the truck in a bank parking lot and inspected the Seahawk blue classic 1952 Chevy Pickup over, inside and out. It looked like a million bucks, (Complete with that adorable sun visor across the top!)and had all the modern day features I was after.
It was even prettier in person than the photos boasted.
It had been well worth the months of online searching, and the long drive.
I fell in love right there in that bank parking lot all over again. This truck is here to stay.
We headed outside to play with our bubbles.
What is it about a simple little plastic bottle of bubbles that is so magical? So fun? So....aah-mazing?
Some of us were skilled enough to blow a bubble and then catch it on our wand...
...and insist that Gramma Cupcake take a picture...and then another picture of this incredible feat...please?
......and still another, again.
Some of us were much more interested in kicking and chasing balls than chasing bubbles...
New grand babies, a new structure for my department at work, and last night I decided I was ready to change the look up in my booth case at Camas Antiques.
Starting with my tags. The girls at the register clip off the price tags when people pay, and drop them in a drawer to keep track of what you sell in a month.
A good system for sure, but my cute tags end up coming back to me, instead of going home with the customer, where thay can look up my website.
I remedied that by making two different tags.
A little extra work, but I like the look, all simple, and clean, and easy to read.
It's funny to me how inspired to create I can become when making one simple paper craft project. I am sure it sounds ridiculous, but I am now inspired to paint up my little file box I keep all of my pricing tags and ribbons in.
I was at my eensy weensy booth case tonight after work, all lickety-split-like, feebly attempting to fluff and perk things up. Between the snow storm, the weather that followed it, and the newest grand's arrival, I hadn't been down there in two full weeks.
I know, pitiful.
Shame on me.
I am making new extra cute price tags and such, and this Thursday night it will all be back to glorious.
(Thursday night is "Dealer Night" and it's such fun chatting with the other junkers, and re-inventing my space. Wait till you see my new colorway for this makeover!)
Anyway, when I was down there I snapped a few pictures of the latest small window display.
I love the black paper against the wall as a chalkboard looking backdrop.
(Some people's creativity absolutely amazes me!!)
And I love all of the different shades of creams and whites and everything in between.
I left the shop all fired up and inspired to create.....do you do that? Get all hooped-ti-do'd over eye candy?
I bet you do.