Saturday, July 29, 2017

Where Fairies Flutter

Our second annual Ladybug Camp hosted twin sisters, Ava and Angeline, with cousin Kaylee. This four year old trio enjoyed a multi day, overnight affair busy with crafting, baking, play-acting, and exploring. On day two, we ventured into a magical wooded realm - the place where fairies flutter!

My little lady guests arrived well versed on the topic of those daintily winged garden dwelling nymphs, but they were delighted to reexamine their characteristics and the habitats they frequent in pop up books I couldn't resist buying for the occasion!*

This is not a sponsored post, but my, my! Looking to fascinate and educate? This is the set for you! We pored over each page, mesmerizing and rich in three dimensional glory, finding fairies in hidden nooks and crannies.

Gardens, woodlands, and more....I sent each little lady home with her own book (there's a third in the series) to secure delightful memories.

Armed with fresh tips on places to look, off we go a-hunting. Backyard woods held promise for finding fairies of our own.

Nestled in foliage, the first of three petaled sprites awaits discovery! (A favorite moment saw precocious Miss Ava animatedly point out that these fairies were actually not "the real thing!" They were "grandma-made" substitutes that might serve our purpose for today, yet still, not "really real" ones!) And of course, she is correct! Thank you, Ava! :)

Angeline and Kaylee cradle their new friends.

Forging ahead, an enticing vision beckoned! Were guests expected here? With places set for six?

Six indeed! One for each successful fairy finder, another for her newly acquired friend!

Months ago, the thoughtfulness of a cherished blogger friend, Judy, made my dream of today's event even more special. She sent me the tiny tea set pictured here. Her own granddaughter had reached the teenage years, and it was time for pretty vintage pieces to find another home, one where younger girls would take their turn pouring magic tea to serve in teeny tiny portions. This was the perfect occasion to introduce our gift. Thank you, Judy!

Room enough, and food enough for everybody!

Ladybug Campers nibbled cheese wraps and tangerine slices. Pot de creme bowls cradled hummus and baby carrot sticks.

But "real bugs" were not welcome at our repast, so craft punched, flower themed paper covers topped tasty drinks. Friendly butterflies alight on each straw.

Oh, what magic we found today in our foray into the place where (grandma-made!) fairies flutter, little ladies stop to snack in dappled sunlight, and grandma beams away in pride and satisfaction!

My friend, Judy, a master gardener, blogs about beauty in nature, in fabric, and of charming places both near and far at New England Garden and Thread. She is also a fan of fairies. Her 2012 Fairy House Tour  is one of my favorite posts ever!

Fairy dolls are easily made from wooden peg bases found at craft stores. Dress them in petals pulled from silk flowers.

*The three Cicely Mary Barker pop-up fairy books I purchased for my granddaughters can be found on

This is part 3 of my Grandma Camp 2017 series. It begins right here. Click here for part 4.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Grandma Camp Magic!

The best part about performing at our week's end magic show is that we know things mommy and daddy don't! We love to see jaws drop in the audience, followed by the inevitable "How did you do that?" Kids usually don't tell though, responding only with smug, impish grins!

But I don't mind sharing tricks of the trade with other grandmothers. I've experienced the fun and camaraderie of introducing, practicing, and performing a variety of easy to do acts that I've gleaned from several sources: a delightful online site, a purchased kids' magic set, and a goofy idea of my own that resulted in an unsolved mystery!

Got your ticket? Good! Take a seat and enjoy the show! 

Our opener is a crowd pleaser and three times the fun when it's demonstrated in tandem. We present lengths of rope. Each is one piece! Come on up and check them out if you'd like. We've nothing to hide! - well, except for the short extra loops we've hidden in our palms to snip in half! There! See? You thought one piece was cut in two and were totally amazed when we revealed the original, uncut length! Ta da!!!! 😲

I love my free subscription to "Magic Tricks For Kids." It's where you'll find this trick demonstrated step by step - and dozens more to choose from!

"Bree! What are you doing?" One of the twins approaches her in the act of breaking an egg. "Making cookies!" she casually replies. No hanky-panky is suspected when the other twin follows up with, "Need any help?" "Sure," she answers. "I want these eggs cracked!" But no one cracks up more than the little tricksters who reach into the carton, grabbing three to toss to the audience! "Here, dad! Help us out!" they shout as rubber eggs go flying toward a ducking audience! 😲

This crazy idea was my own. I found fake eggs at an online toy retailer. But I've been the victim of a mysterious disappearing act myself! I have yet to locate the third egg after our show. Looked everywhere! It's gone! But unlike our other tricks, there's no explanation for this one! Poof! Real magic!

The easiest way to conjure up a repertoire of cool performance tricks is to buy a kit designed for kids. I did this last year, relying solely on the nifty eye foolers in a great Melissa and Doug set. But this year I found another one I like! "Spectacular Magic Show" is less than $20 and packs 100 cool ideas into a box that also contains an instruction book plus a fun CD that clearly demonstrates them all - plus more!

We chose the easiest among them for this year's event. My favorite was the "Magic Paint Can." A secret compartment that's very well disguised allows water to stay secured when the can is tipped to "prove" it's GONE! A slight twist and an agile "abracadabra" with the included wand makes contents reappear in a sec!

But that's not all! Bree's cousin stepped up and announced he's got something even better to show! His glass of water met a few drops of food coloring secreted inside the can, and the audience gasped when he poured out GREEN PAINT instead of clear liquid!

The set also includes a well made fake deck of cards and a specially designed case for it. Nick flashed an ace, replaced it, and slid the deck deftly back inside. With a flick of his wrist, the deck disappeared - courtesy of a fake surface on both sides of his prop!

There are a handful of clever tricks demonstrated on the CD that require only simple household items for astonishing a crowd. Here, daddy's been conscripted to choose a crayon from a set of four different colors. Only he and the audience know which one it is. It's placed in Sae's hands, held behind his back. Let the concentrating begin. Our magician closes his eyes. Thinking, thinking, thinking...He dramatically raises one hand to alert the audience he has an answer. "ORANGE!" he triumphantly exclaims. And what do you know? ORANGE it is!

I see a future for this one at restaurants where restless grandchildren are given crayons to keep them busy before meals arrive. Tell grandpa to scrape off a bit of wax while the crayon is behind his back. He can briefly glimpse at it as he flourishes his hand forward to pronounce the correct color!

Nick loved folding a one dollar bill twice to make George Washington turn upside down, and Bree successfully employed a fake plastic thumb to make a silk handkerchief magically reappear. Our audience eagerly gobbled up everything we did!

And then there was Ava! Pictured at top, this little gal has been a fan of magic ever since last year's show when her brothers pulled stuffed bunnies from hats to present to their little sisters. She frequently duplicates this trick at home with toy tigers and Barbie dolls, waving her wand with a pronunciation of "abracadabra!" that she alone has perfected. This year, the right thing to do was give Ava the stage to conclude with her delightful act. She loved every second, and so did we!

Here's part 1 of this year's Grandma Camp series! And here's part 3.

This is not a sponsored post. I just enjoy sharing the success I've had with good products. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Our Little Sparkler!

Independence Day 2017 came in with a BANG for our family! At 8:50 A.M. my tenth grandchild - and sixth grandson - was born. He arrived 19.5" long, weighing a cuddly 6 pounds, 12 ounces.

Tyler Matthew is the son of my youngest daughter, Karen, and her husband, Joe. He is little brother to four year old sister, Kaylee, and two year old brother, Ryan, who eagerly awaited his appearance along with two sets of proud grandparents, one great-grandmother, four aunts, four uncles, and seven excited little cousins!

Now, here's a Fun Fact for you! Mommy was born on New Year's Day when it was her turn to be the third family sibling! I guess some people just like it when the whole world annually celebrates right along with them! :)

I've got lots planned for little Tyler when he's old enough to handle a paintbrush, but for right now, I'm heeding wise grandparent advice. What mommy and daddy need most is not another bib emblazoned with "If you think I'm cute, you should see my grandpa!" (groan!) What they do need, strictly in this order, is:
1) Sleep!
2) Food!
So, grandpa and I have been cooking and babysitting and just enjoying the euphoria that comes along with every beautiful new birth that enters the life of any grandparent! (And you people know who you are!)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Considering Going Solo In The Workforce? You Should!

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This is a sponsored post for which I have been compensated. 
All content and graphics provided by VSP Individual Vision Plans.

If you're like most Americans over 50, you plan to work after retirement in some capacity. You may even be considering changing the way you work and going into business for yourself. Where once that would have been considered a dream job and beyond the realm of reality, thanks to advances in technological innovation, it's not so remote an idea to work "remotely." Here are a few reasons why the solo workforce isn't a fad:

Mobile and online applications use of cloud computing makes it easier than ever to work from home or anywhere. Your "opening act" into the workforce probably involved being tied to a traditional work arrangement. You may have worked in an office or a school. But your "second act" need not tie you to any specific location, allowing you more flexibility and time for the important things in life like time with your grandkids.

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Apps like Experfy, Handy and 99designs make it easy to source services and products in an instant from people in the area and around the globe. A 2015 report from the Freelancers Union and Upwork found that 51% of the freelancers surveyed had gotten a project online, up from 42% the year prior. The technology empowers you to get into business with little or no infrastructure investment, and turns anyone with a mobile device or computer into a potential customer.

It really has never been easier to be self-employed, even if just part time.

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If the idea of owning your own business and being your own boss appeals to you, also consider what goes into being a good boss. A good boss makes sure their employees (or they, themselves) get the insurance coverage they need to live healthy and productive lives. For example, one aspect of coverage all too often overlooked is vision care.

Thanks to VSP Individual Vision Plans, the national leader in eye-care benefits, people who work for themselves can get the same great benefits and savings as they would if they were covered under an employer's plan. As we age, it's more important than ever to take good care of our eyes, as clear vision impacts quality of life. From increased work productivity to fewer headaches from eye strain, the benefits of healthy eyes cannot be overstated. Annual comprehensive eye exams aren't just about vision. They also give your eye doctor a full view of blood vessels, areas that provide clues about your overall health.

But astonishingly, 50% of Americans don't have vision coverage, many of whom are self-employed and may not know how reasonable the cost of such coverage can be or how much money it can save you in the long run.

VSP Individual Vision Plans are available for as little as $17/month and coverage under annual benefits includes:
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  • Access to a network of more than 36,000 doctors

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Visit for more details or to enroll in an individual vision plan today, and click here to download VSPs Benefits Resource Guide for all you need to know about transitioning to working for yourself. Don't wait to start living your dream with your eyes wide open!