Balloon Rally

balloon profile @designerssweetspot.com

I have been taking it easy lately. It feels good to spend time out doors, and catch up on things behind the scenes. My son and I took a side trip to see the Balloon Rally going on in the Monroe, WI. It’s a lovely small town in the southern part of our state. We ate hamburgers and ice cream from the food vendors, and listened to live jazz and blues music while we watched the balloons. A perfect summer’s evening in my book.

Blue balloon stripes

I have always wanted to see the Balloon Festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I had no idea such a thing existed here in Wisconsin. I happened to see an ad for this event that they haven’t had in almost 5 years. What are the odds?

Balloons rising

We arrived at the fair grounds just in time to see the balloons filling up and taking off into the horizon.

black balloon rising

They are of course absolutely huge!  So graceful and beautiful!

Pilots in the balloon basket

We were fortunate enough to be right below the flight path….

Bottom view of balloon basket

You would be surprised how loud they are as they release the hot air into the balloon. It seemed like we were so close we could have touched the basket!

2 balloons

Have you ever read Around the World in 80 Days? Seeing the balloons makes me want to read it again, such a great book!

Balloon glow

balloon profile

As the balloons disappeared behind us, we would turn around and there would be another one up in the air ready to take off. There were 6-8 balloons total. They all took off at once and made a short 6 mile trip into the countryside. Then they descend to the ground, pack up the balloon, and bring it back to the rally for another go. The last take off of the day is just before sunset. They call it “The Balloon Glow”.

Rainbow balloon overhead

This balloon was even more beautiful than the first! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to go for a ride in a hot air balloon? Definitely on my bucket list! #yesIamcrazy

Balloons on the horizon

There were dozens of photographers at this event. I couldn’t wait to see how the pictures came out. I wasn’t disappointed.

Tuscan sunset balloon3

The last balloon to take off was named Tequila Sunrise. What a great name! Such summer fun! What are you doing for fun this summer?

 

 

 

Preparing for a Blog Conference

Suitcases ready to go to a blog conference by designerssweetspot.com

I have been running about getting ready for my next blog conference. Preparing is time consuming, it always takes more organization than I planned. I decided that if I wrote a blog post about it, I could just refer to my post when time was short. I am sure there are other bloggers who feel the same way and are scrambling at the last minute.

small suitcase inside a large suitcase

 

First order of business is the luggage. I have been searching the thrift stores for an extra large suitcase with wheels. The insider blogging trick is to bring two suitcases, one large, one small to the conference. By putting one suitcase inside the other for the trip, you will have less baggage to worry about. For the return trip, the large suitcase is used to hold swag, that is all the products the wonderful sponsors supply us with at the conference. The small bag is used for the rest of your belongings, which is a test of your true packing ability. Don’t forget to label your base with name, address, cell phone number and blog name.

 

Minimal Conference blogger essentials include:

At least 100 business cards

Cell phone and USB charger

Wireless charger for use during the lectures

Head phones

Power strip for charging multiple devices in your hotel room with your roommates

iPad or laptop (I use mine for taking notes and pictures during the conference).

Tote bag for picking up swag at the vendor booths, mine has my logo on it.

blue top with a cowboy hat

 

Wardrobe essentials:

Layers are preferred, it gets cool sitting in those large con fence rooms. I always bring a light sweater or denim jacket in case I need it. I prefer tops or blouses with short sleeves in case I get too warm, I won’t feel uncomfortable to take off a layer.

Comfortable shoes for walking. We leave the hotel a couple of times for dinner out, plan to walk several blocks and save the heels for dance night!

Dancing clothes, there is always at least one dance night with a party theme. This year it’s flamingoes, so pack your flamingo attire and be ready to meet people and have fun!

A small handbag for evening is essential, I like one that holds my keys, phone and credit card for the dance event. A wallet bag with a wrist strap is a good idea so you can keep it with you at all times.

Here is my complete list of what to bring:

2 pairs black pants

1 pair jeans

Denim jacket

2 short sleeve tops

1 long sleeve blouse

1 dressy evening outfit and heels

1 casual evening outfit for dinner out

Pajamas

Work out clothes (some die hard fitness bloggers work out together at the conference)

Personal care items

Evening handbag

Tote bag

Raincoat or umbrella

Little gifts for your roommates

 

That’s about it! It may sound over whelming but after you have been to a conference you know what to expect. Of course, being yourself is important. Don’t stress about having to bring items that you know you will not use. There are lots of bloggers who do their own thing, just do what makes you comfortable.

See you at the conference!

 

Why Vacation Makes Me Loose My Mind

I have been avoiding the computer lately. This is unlike me, and I am not quite sure of the root of the problem. It seems that since we got back from our recent Florida east coast vacation, writing has been difficult. It seems like the longer we are away, the harder it is to get back to reality.

 

While we were at the beach, our daily routine was simple. Early morning walks on the beach were followed by leisurely breakfast and excursions to see the local sights. Shopping was a splendid past time, and I don’t normally do a lot of it, so it was a welcome way to spend the mornings.

Many of our lunches were eaten on the road, another welcome break from my everyday routine. We love exploring little Mom And Pop type family restraunts along the coast line. Our favorite place was closed the day we were there, I missed eating along the water with the lovely view of the yachts.

We stayed with our son who is in college. He and his roommates have rented a sweet little house by the beach. I am envious. I could get used to a place like this. I love the hot orange shade in his bathroom. Not really beachy, but it made me feel warm and sunny the entire time we were visiting.
The kitchen was just as nice. Even though we didn’t cook a lot, it was nice to use good quality appliances and beautiful granite counter tops for a little while.
I am envious.
After lunch we would head out to the beach for more walks or playing in the waves.
It was in the 80’s the entire time we were there. We spent Christmas Day surfing among the waves, strolling on the beach and picking up sea shells.
I have never spent a December in such a warm climate. It seemed odd at first, but I am quick to adjust.
I am envious of those who live in warm places. I can’t help myself.
Even getting stung by a Man Of War jelly fish didn’t detour us from the water. This little guy washed up on the beach after high tide one day.
He is beautiful in blue with just a touch of pink to accessorize.
Perfect in his creation.

I enjoy watching the creatures along the sea. I don’t know that I would ever get tired of it. This flock of Sand Pipers made me laugh. The run in between the waves to find food, then all turn around at the same time and run away when the waves get too close.

 

Most afternoons I would read on the beach until dusk. I found a thrift store nearby that had some of our favorite Stephanie Plum detective novels. They are so light hearted and entertaining. And only a little bit trashy. I read several of them while we were away.

By the time the sun went down each day, we were exhausted in a good way. We like to turn in early so we can get a good view of the sunrise the next day.

I am envious. Our subzero weather here in Wisconsin has me dreaming of the beach again. I miss being outside. I miss long walks on the beach, and warm sunshine. I miss how far away all the cares of everyday life seemed, for now that we are back home, they weigh heavily on my mind.

Vacation makes me loose my mind. I guess that’s the reason why we need it so badly. We have to learn to unplug, relax and focus on the things that really matter. We need to cast our cares onto the shoulders of the One who should be carrying them to begin with, our God and Savior.

 

The rainbow is a promise of Gods provision. We just need to step aside and let Him take over. Loose our mind, so to speak. I struggle in this way. It is something I work on every day, somehow it doesn’t come naturally. But, I will continue to try.

I can’t wait to completely loose my mind again, and go to the beach. And read some more trashy detective novels.

Do you have travel plans this season? Where are you going? I am envious!

 

City of Lights: St. Augustine, FL

City lights, St. Augustine, Florida by designerssweetspot.com

I love Christmas lights. I am probably the only one in town who dreads putting the lights away for another whole year. I could keep them up all year long, but then the neighbors might think it was a bit odd.

This year I may just put some up after the New Year, because I never got around to putting them up before the holiday. For now, I have to admire everyone else’s’ display.

This is the city of St. Augustine, Florida. St. Augustine has a world famous Festival of Lights nor the holiday season from November to January. Rated by National Geograhic as one of the top ten best light displays in the world, it will not fail to impress. There are 2.5 million lights in the city, can you imagine? They are a sight to behold. I pity the poor soul who has to find that one light bulb that is out!

The city is built around an old town square with loads of beautiful shops, galleries and restaurants. It would be easy to spend your days on the beach and explore the city at night.

There are lots of interesting Windows to shop at after dark, I love,this stained glass window in an old church on the square. There were lots of people taking in the lights after dark, so be sure to go early and find a place to park. You can also take a trolley ride around town to see the lights for $12.00 per person.

All for now, it’s time to get back to the beach!

Enjoy your New Year!

 

Kid’s Travel Pillow

This easy to make kids travel pillow does double duty as a toy for entertainment and a neck pillow for when your child finally falls asleep on those long road trips.

Kids Travel Pillow|Designers Sweet Spot|www.designerssweetspot.com

 

 

Kids Travel Pillow

It’s time for Week 2 of the So You Think Your Crafty Contest! If you missed last week’s project, click here!

This week’s theme is “Kids Can Do”.

How fun is that?

One of my favorite kids projects involves socks. They are so easy to make! Click To Tweet

I decided on a Kid’s Travel Pillow for this project, because it’s so hard to keep kids entertained while traveling in the car.

Kids Travel Pillow materials

To make the pillow you will need:

A pair of argyle soccer socks (any size, I chose a size large since my kids are older) You can order these green ones on this website.

Red and Pink craft felt

Poly-fiberfill stuffing

Wiggly Eyes in two colors

Craft Heat Bond, Craft Glue or Fabric Glue

Large needle and embroidery floss (to match your socks)

Small pieces of stick on velcro (optional)

heat bond

To make the mouth, cut two pieces of the red felt into ovals. Trace the red felt pieces onto the pink felt for the interior part of the mouth. Cut the pink felt, with the red being slightly smaller so you can see the two colors. Pink felt first, then the red on top will make an interesting mouth design.

Cut out two tongue pieces from the red felt. Cut the heat bond for each mouth piece, making it slightly smaller than the felt so it won’t show around the edges. Cut two small pieces for the very end of the tongue, the rest of the tongue will be free and wiggly. I love things that wiggle, don’t you?

ironing the mouth

Adhere the pieces together with Craft Heat Bond using a warm iron, or if your kids are too young to handle an iron, use craft glue or fabric glue. Be sure to iron both sides for maximum adhesion.

mouth placement

Attach to the bottom of the foot part of the sock with either method. I like how the sock has different colors at the toe and heal, it helps to define the mouth area.

iron the mouth

Again, iron both sides of the sock for maximum adhesion.

fold the sock for the mouth

eye placement

After the sock has cooled, put the sock on your hand like a puppet, to find the correct eye placement. Glue eyes in place with craft glue. If you have a very young child, draw them on with a fabric marker instead. I placed my eyes right above the black sock toe.

stuffed and pinned

Stuff your snake with the fiberfill stuffing. Check to be certain the snake will still form around the neck by pinning the two socks together and checking the fit and function. If it is too big, you can over lap the ends of the sock at the back of the neck until it is the right size, then re-pin in place.

sew the head

Use the needle and embroidery floss to slip stitch the sock ends together at the back of the neck. This helps hold the head in place so you can see his adorable wiggly eyes.

WIGGLY EYES = ADORABLE

sew the mouth

Using more embroidery floss, make a few stitches at the side of the mouth to hold his adorable mouth into position. Cut and trim threads.

This is a good opportunity to teach your kids to sew. Don’t be a perfectionist about this, let your child take a few stitches, the unpredictable nature of the needle and thread will only add to your snake’s character.

Kids Travel Pillow finished

Optional: Use two small pieces of stick on velcro (you may have to glue them on) to hold the snake heads together at the front of the neck, or you can let them hang loose for play.

snake pillow

Time to travel with your new Kids Pillow!!

If you would like to see the other projects in this week’s contest, check out the So You Think Your Crafty Blog.

 

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Kids Travel Pillow|Designers Sweet Spot|www.designerssweetspot.com