A Week of Positives: Gorgeous Blooms, Purples and Blues

Allium

Spring didn’t know we were in a pandemic and pulled out the stops to show off beautiful, aromatic bouquets. Summer continued the performance by dressing up in vivid, almost electric, colors.

 

Top Ten Places to Travel Virtually

Stonehenge

Hon, hope you had a nice July 4th weekend!

This year, though our friends’ holiday bbq was nixed, we still got together, socially distancing of course. Since our school district doesn’t let out until late June, July 4th feels like the official start of summer. But what does this summer hold? Will I return to work or not? Will Elegant Lifestyles publish a September issue? Is it safe to visit family in different states? Will one of my daughters have to quarantine when she returns home after four months away? Will my younger daughter’s college hold classes? The questions go on and on. One thing we can do is travel…virtually. This is a list of places I’d love to go one day. Where would you like to go?

Top Ten Places to Travel Virtually

1. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

David Attenborough leads you on an interactive tour underwater to explore the Great Barrier Reef. Through interactive time-lapses, videos, and weather maps, the tour shows you the Earth’s most bio-diverse ecosystem.

All the while, a tracker notes miles traveled, total sailing time, and the effects of climate change during your “exhibition,” making this a great educational tour for adults and kids alike!

2. The Great Wall of China

China’s most famous attraction offers virtual tours of some of the most visited sections of the wall, 3,000 miles of which are walkable. With much of the country under quarantine measures, the virtual tour offers a reprieve from the crowds who normally come from all over the world to see the 2,000-year-old marvel.

3. Iceland

Welcome to Iceland 360 VR!Select one of hundreds of locations around Iceland in the search field, panorama location list or location map or try out our location basedand themed virtual tours!

4. Taj Mahal, India

Our online virtual tour enables visitors to interactively explore the “UNESCO World Heritage Site”, the Taj Mahal at Agra in India. Visitors may tour 22 different areas of the monument and gardens through 360° panoramas, maps, narrated mini-movies, music and text.

5. Alaska

Experience virtual tours and in-depth educational videos of Kenai Fjords National Park. Journey into the beautiful landscape of Alaska to discover the wonders of the glaciers, local wildlife, geology and so much more!

6. Ireland–25 Virtual Tours

In an attempt to bring those of you that want to be here a little closer to Ireland, we’ve created a guide that’s packed with virtual tours (and 360 photos) for some of Ireland’s best-known attractions.

7. Scotland

“Immerse yourself in the amazing history, cities and landscapes of Scotland from the comfort of your own home…virtual tours of Scotland, including fascinating documentaries and Scottish museums that offer online tours. So sit back, relax, and enjoy your virtual journey through Scotland.

8. Safaris, Africa

Get up close with some of the world’s most amazing animals from the safety of your sofa.

9. Israel

Coronavirus messing up your plans? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Join us for a virtual tour of the most beautiful places in Israel with our popular series, Postcards from Israel.

10. Redwoods, California

Join an interpretive ranger in series of VR episodes about some of the natural and cultural history of the park. Move your mouse, handheld device, or wear VR glasses to experience this in 360 degrees.

 

 

Easy DIY Kids Crafts: Tug-of-War Dog Toy

Lucy loves playing tug-of war.

Therapy Dog

In normal times, I pet and scratch Lucy for my own comfort as well as hers. These aren’t normal times. Everyone in our full house gives Lucy extra hugs and kisses since she’s our very own in-house therapy dog. She has a heart of gold (unless you’re a groundhog), a sweet nature (unless you’re the mailman), and is well trained  (unless you’re eating something she wants).

I was teaching After School Enrichment classes when we adopted Lucy, a Border Collie/Chocolate Lab mixed breed, so I was inspired to teach a Dog Craft Class. One of our projects was this  Tug-of-War Dog Toy. Lucy loved it!

There are two ways to get a similar Tug-of-War Dog Toy. I suspect the second way is a bit sturdier since the ends are braided together.

Version 1 (project for K-2 ASE students)

Supplies:

  • fleece, 3 strips (approximately 4-5 inches by 36 inches) in 3 colors if desired
  • masking tape

Instructions:

  1. Knot 3 strips of fleece together.
  2. Tape to a surface for resistance.
  3. Braid fleece. Knot other end.
  4. Fold braided rope in half. Feed one end of braid in and out of other side, starting in middle of folded rope until two knotted ends meet.
  5. Re-knot ends together and take out separate knots.
Version 2 (Steps and Photos Source-Raising Your Pets Naturally, craft by Tonya Wilhelm)

Supplies:

  • fleece, 3 strips (approximately 4-5 inches by 36 inches) in 3 colors if desired
  • masking tape

Instructions:

  1. Tape three strips of fleece to a surface for resistance but do not knot the end.
  2. “Start your braid from the CENTER of your fabric and braid about 5″ to each side of the center.”
  3. “After you get the center braided (the handle), bring the ends together (3 from one side, 3 from the other) and combine them in pairs so you have 3 doubled parts to continue your braid. Braid the parts together (remember to make each braid taut).”
  4. Knot the end.

Show and Tell, Loopy Mango Puff Sleeve Top

Hannah wearing Loopy Mango’s Puff Sleeve Top.

 

Hon, there must be a knitting or needlepoint project in the house at all times! Make that several projects. I just finished knitting two of Loopy Mango’s “Mohair Puff Sleeve Tops,” but instead of LM’s mohair I used their Merino No. 5. Hannah gets the gray and Morgan gets the yellow. Once Darcy picks a color, I’ll knit one for her, too.

I’m almost finished knitting two of Loopy Mango’s chunky sweaters (future post), have finished weaving in ends on an infinity scarf, and am finishing up a knit market bag and needlepoint pillow. See, many projects?

Upon hearing about the gifts reserved for future birthdays and holidays, a friend asked how they’re being stored. Good question! The answer? In a bin of aromatic cedar blocks!

Thanks to  Wool & Grace for curbside pickup during quarantine. I actually squealed when they answered the phone!

Hannah wearing my version of Loopy Mango’s Cropped Sweater.

Easy DIY Kids Activities: Paper Plate Crafts

Source: I Heart Craft Things

When I was an assistant pre-school teacher for the Transitional Two’s at HGEEC, the kids made lots of paper plate creations. I Heart Craft Things’ “Paper Plate Fluttering Butterfly Craft,” pictured above, would have gone great with the two, three and four year-old’s butterfly units.  Butterfly habitats were ordered, and the children watched caterpillars eat, form chrysalises, and transform into butterflies. Then they set them free.

Best kid quote: Upon seeing a butterfly open and close its wings, a two-year old girl said, “The butterfly is clapping!” How cute is that?!

Want 8 more imaginative paper plate crafts for kids?

Quill.com’s  Tiffany Jersey said,

If you’ve only used paper plates to simplify the clean-up process after a barbecue, prepare to discover a whole new world. Because they’re plentiful and inexpensive, paper plates make for a fantastic children’s craft supply. When it comes to paper plate crafts, the themes available are nearly endless, from animals and masks to flowers and holiday décor. We’ve rounded up eight creative paper plate craft ideas for kids (although you might find that the whole family wants to get in on the fun).

Note: In addition to scissors and paint or markers, many of the crafts require a few additional supplies. Always supervise little ones as needed.

Click here to find out how to create a paper plate Jellyfish, Fox, Puppy, Hedgehog, Pumpkin, Christmas Trees, Wings and Shaker. 

Happy creating, hon!

Spring Tulips & Shel Silverstein

After a The Max Challenge Zoom workout, the trainer read Shel Silverstein’s poem “The Voice.” The poem spoke to me on several fronts: trying to get through quarantine with a hopeful outlook, helping others with my particular skills, and focusing energy on long-term goals which seem, during this strange and unsettling time, to be floating on waves washing out to sea.

Wishing you a peaceful day filled with beauty in small moments, like noticing how droplets cling to tulip petals.

The Voice
by Shel Silverstein

Road Quotes!

The art may be fleeting, but the sentiment remains.

One of the bright spots in a sea of uncertainty is the chalk art in my neighborhood. When we walk our sweet-angel-aka-barking-maniac Lucy, we look forward to seeing the new creations of some very talented people. Check out the Instagram account @millburnchalklove.

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Easy DIY Kids Crafts: Spring Bling Countertop Container

Glass marble decorated Countertop Container.
Glass marble decorated Countertop Containers.
1. Measure height and circumference of can. 2. Cut cardstock correct measurements to wrap around can. 3. Glue cardstock to can with white glue.
1. Measure height and circumference of can. 2. Cut cardstock to correct measurements to wrap around can.
Glue cardstock onto can.
3. Glue cardstock onto can.

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Let covered can sit for a bit so cardstock is secure before applying glass marbles.
4. Let covered can sit for a bit so cardstock is secure before applying glass marbles.
5. Apply glass marbles in rows from the bottom up.
5. Apply glass marbles in rows from the bottom up.

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Applying glass marbles with glue gun.
Applying glass marbles with glue gun.
Creating a pattern with colors.
Creating a pattern with colors.

Fun and Easy Decorated Containers

One of the highlights in the five weeks since we’ve been quarantined was teaching a Zoom craft class. I had so much fun working with two girls who live in the neighborhood in one class, and my nieces and nephew in another. The idea for these Spring Bling Countertop Containers came from Creative in Chicago and was called “Bling Storage for the Bathroom” so, though this was a project my After School Enrichment 3-5 kids created, it’s a fun project for any age.

Need a party idea or DIY Mother’s Day gift?  Creative In Chicago recommended lining the inside of the can with cardstock paper, then covering that with Modge Podge, but we just worked on the outside of the cans.

Happy creating, hon!

Spring Bling Countertop Containers
Supplies:

–Soup Can (I took the top off with the kind of can opener that lifts the top off rather than slices it, so there were no sharp edges.) A glass jelly jar would also work if you don’t mind seeing glue lines from the inside of the jar.

–Cardstock paper

–Glass Marbles that are flat on one side (called “Decorative Fillers”in many colors at Michael’s craft stores), Other smalls objects would also work, such as pebbles, sea shells, petrified wood, pom-poms, small toys like cute erasers, Legos, etc.

–White Glue and Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks

–scissors, ruler, pencil

Steps:

1. Measure height and circumference of can.

2. Cut cardstock to correct measurements to wrap around can.

3. With white glue, adhere cardstock to can.  Let can sit until glue dries. If using hot glue instead, glue will dry instantly.

4. Apply glass marbles in rows from the bottom up.  (By applying from the bottom, can will sit nicely on a surface. If applied top down, marbles might stick out over the bottom’s edge and the container will wobble.)

6. If there’s a gap in the glass marbles, they can be broken in half to fill the space.

7. Clean up the glue strings.

Enjoy!

Humorous Contradictory Covid-19 Rules

I actually squealed when I found out The Book House in Millburn received a shipment of puzzles!

These “Covid-19 Rules” made me laugh. Shout out to my neighbor, Risha Walden of Walden Interiors for posting these on a local email chain.

The Covid-19 Rules:

1. Basically, you can’t leave the house for any reason, but if you have to, then you can.
2. Masks are useless, but maybe you have to wear one, it can save you, it is useless, but maybe it is mandatory as well.
3. Stores are closed, except those that are open.
4. You should not go to hospitals unless you have to go there. Same applies to doctors, you should only go there in case of emergency, provided you are not too sick.
5. This virus is deadly but still not too scary, except that sometimes it actually leads to a global disaster.
6. Gloves won’t help, but they can still help.
7. Everyone needs to stay HOME, but it’s important to GO OUT.
8. There is no shortage of groceries in the supermarket, but there are many things missing when you go there in the evening, but not in the morning. Sometimes.
9. The virus has no effect on children except those it affects.
10. Animals are not affected, but there is still a cat that tested positive in Belgium in February when no one had been tested, plus a few tigers here and there…
11. You will have many symptoms when you are sick, but you can also get sick without symptoms, have symptoms without being sick, or be contagious without having symptoms. Oh, my..
12. In order not to get sick, you have to eat well and exercise, but eat whatever you have on hand and it’s better not to go out, well, but no…
13. It’s better to get some fresh air, but you get looked at very wrong when you get some fresh air, and most importantly, you don’t go to parks or walk. But don’t sit down, except that you can do that now if you are old, but not for too long or if you are pregnant (but not too old).
14. You can’t go to retirement homes, but you have to take care of the elderly and bring food and medication.
15. If you are sick, you can’t go out, but you can go to the pharmacy.
16. You can get restaurant food delivered to the house, which may have been prepared by people who didn’t wear masks or gloves. But you have to have your groceries decontaminated outside for 3 hours. Pizza too?
17. Every disturbing article or disturbing interview starts with ” I don’t want to trigger panic, but…”
18. You can’t see your older mother or grandmother, but you can take a taxi and meet an older taxi driver.
19. You can walk around with a friend but not with your family if they don’t live under the same roof.
20. You are safe if you maintain the appropriate social distance, but you can’t go out with friends or strangers at the safe social distance.
21. The virus remains active on different surfaces for two hours, no, four, no, six, no, we didn’t say hours, maybe days? But it takes a damp environment. Oh no, not necessarily.
22. The virus stays in the air – well no, or yes, maybe, especially in a closed room, in one hour a sick person can infect ten, so if it falls, all our children were already infected at school before it was closed. But remember, if you stay at the recommended social distance, however in certain circumstances you should maintain a greater distance, which, studies show, the virus can travel further, maybe.
23. We count the number of deaths but we don’t know how many people are infected as we have only tested so far those who were “almost dead” to find out if that’s what they will die of…
24. We have no treatment, except that there may be one that apparently is not dangerous unless you take too much (which is the case with all medications). Orange man bad.
25. We should stay locked up until the virus disappears, but it will only disappear if we achieve collective immunity, so when it circulates… but we must no longer be locked up for that?