July 2022 Create Date: Starting a Photo Collage Wall

When we arrived home from Seattle it was July 28th. I knew that I wanted to create the start of a photo collage wall with some of our trip photos, so we immediately started trying to narrow down our choices. If you have read all of my July Adventure Date blogs, you know that we had some gorgeous photos – and the best ones weren’t the ones I posted here from my phone. I knew it was going to be a struggle, but I did not foresee my husband testing positive for COVID two days later. That definitely stalled our date opportunities. We did, finally, narrow our choices down to 3 photos that represented the core of our trip. Our first choice is this beauty that has Chihuly and The Space Needle both represented.

Our second choice was this shot of an Orca from our FRS Skipper Whale Watching Tour.

Rounding out our pics is this gorgeous shot of Mount Rainier with some tiny rapids and waterfalls in front from our time in Paradise.

We added our bicycle spin art to the wall as well – might as well make it about as many Create Dates as we can, right? We also added a little painting that we bought with 2 ladybugs because it reminds us of a story Keith used to tell the girls when they were younger. I LOVE how it turned out and I can’t wait to continue adding to it. We may go back and add some things from previous trips, or we may wait to add new adventures to it. Only time will tell. πŸ™‚

Do you ever display photographs from trips? Do you have a photo wall? I would love to see and hear about it in the comments! πŸ™‚

June 2022 Create Date – Pandora Bead Class at Glass Axis

In April, I tried to set up 3 months worth of Create and Adventure dates. At that time, we were supposed to take this Pandora Bead class at Glass Axis in May, but it got postponed to early June. That left us scrambling a bit for a May date, but it made things really easy this month as I was at a dead end with the company I tried to work with for June. So, we made the trip over to Franklinton for our class. We were pretty excited to find out that we were the only ones signed up, so we got a lot of attention and tips from our wonderful instructor, Helen.

To get us started, Helen explained the tools and supplies we would be using. Neither of us had worked with a flame so closely before, so I know there were definitely nerves involved. We chose our colors and got all set up.

After we had our colors in front of us, Helen gave us examples of a couple of techniques we would be using. Then it was trial by fire to create 5 beads each.

After we finished each bead, it was labeled and then placed in the kiln to safely cool over the course of a week. We were able to pick them up about a week later, and I am so very proud of both of us! I think they turned out fantastic and I can’t wait to maybe wear some and give some as a gift. There was one bead that broke, but everything else turned out better than expected. πŸ™‚

All in all, I found the process of making the beads pretty meditative. You had a lot to think about (preheating, always rotating, keeping things hot but not too hot, mixing colors, etc…) but it was also easy to get into a rhythm. I would definitely do this again, and I’m pretty sure Keith feels the same.

Have you ever done any flame work? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below! πŸ™‚

May 2022 Create Date – Sweet & Savory Grilling Class at Sur La Table

We did it! It was the last few hours of the month. It was the day we had to be up at 3:30 to take Charlotte to the airport. But we totally did a create date for May. Originally, we were supposed to make Pandora Beads at Glass Axis a week ago. That class was moved to next week by Glass Axis, though, so I was scrambling a bit to find something we could do. Then I remembered how much we liked out last cooking class at Sur La Table. After checking their website last week, I signed us up to do their Sweet & Savory Grilling class because it was definitely a new technique we’ve not tried. We don’t even own a grill anymore, but we have been toying with the idea of getting a new one. So, I thought this would convince us one way or the other.

Our class tonight was small – only 4 students – but it was really nice because I feel like we learned a lot and got to try everything. We started by chopping and prepping all of the ingredients for our dishes. Once everything was prepped, we were given a demonstration of how easy it is to make homemade whipped cream – and we got to try vanilla paste for the first time. I loved that we put cinnamon and cardamom in it – so yummy! That was quickly put into the fridge to wait for dessert. Our first creation was sweet pea and mint puree in a small food processor. We spread that on grilled bread and then topped with parmesan cheese, radish slices, olive oil and salt/pepper. It was amazing – I can definitely see us doing that again.

The next thing we did was chargrill corn, cherry tomatoes, and red onion slices to make a refreshing salad/salsa. A little basil chiffonade, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt/pepper mixed in and it was one of my favorite parts of the meal. We ate it with the grilled salmon, and it was a really refreshing combination.

The final part of our meal was grilled nectarine halves. The nectarine halves were soaked in honey and Grand Marnier before being grilled. We topped it with the whipped cream we made earlier in class and it was divine. I would seriously recreate this entire meal – and it wouldn’t even take that long.

Overall, we give this class 5 out of 5 stars. The chef was very knowledgeable and I feel like we learned lessons that we can use to make variations on the recipes. We also learned a lot about grill pans and knives, which I appreciated. Last of all, she gave us the best idea for a gift for my Dad – but I can’t reveal that before Father’s Day/his birthday this month.

Have you ever taken a cooking class? Where was it? What did you learn? Leave any and all ideas in the comments – we are always looking for new things to try. πŸ™‚

April 2022 Create Date – Bicycle Spin Art Columbus

Last Sunday, we finally had a chance to do our Create Date for April at Bicycle Spin Art Columbus. The Columbus location opened April 9, 2022, so they don’t have a sign outside yet. You have to enter through Columbus Axe Throwing which was a little bit confusing. I went in just to ask where we needed to go, and that’s when we were directed down the stairs by the bar – after getting a couple drinks, of course.

Upon arrival, we were asked to cover up in coveralls and boots which they provided. We also had to sign waivers and create our name tags. There was a list of artists, a list of bike manufacturers, and then you added the name your kindergarten teacher called you. Keith and I were just called our names, so our tags aren’t the most creative ever…

Our Bicycle Spin Art host, Brooklyn, gave us a run down of how the process works, and then we were set free to experiment. Since I am, by nature, the more chaotic and experimental creator, I went first. I decided to mask the center with letter stickers to spell CREATE, and then I did just that. It was really fun to experiment with how fast or slow to pedal, how to pour the paint, and which direction to spin.

Keith went with a lot more negative space in his painting, and he was a lot better at directing me on the bike. He also had the advantage of all of the experimenting I did, so I think he was able to be a little more precise with his choices. Either way, I think our paintings are pretty much polar opposites. LOL

We really enjoyed this experience! We have even talked about going back as a family to make more. We are planning to add our art to the front room of our house, but it is not a project we are taking on right now. Here is what our final products look like – I love them so much! πŸ™‚

Have you ever done any spin art? Would you love to try it? Let us know in the comments. πŸ™‚

March 2022 Create Date – Glass Axis Sushi Date Night

We recently had the opportunity to take the Sushi Date Night class at Glass Axis. We had been to Glass Axis in 2019 to make Glass Sculpted Shamrocks, but this class is a totally different way to work with glass – glass fusing. Basically, we got to make a picture on glass with glass and then it was all melted together. The evening started with sushi and drinks, but I did not take any photos of that part. We were also given instructions on how to use several glass cutting tools and what types of glass we had at our disposal. Alex was a really helpful teacher and we enjoyed learning from her. After a talking through a few ideas for our design, we settled on a sun and rainbow motif.

Keith worked on the rainbow for the main sushi plate while I worked on the dip bowl. I think that Keith’s idea to make the rainbow a little fractured was brilliant, and I enjoyed doing just a little mosaic work for the sun.

We were told that we needed to wait 2 weeks to pick up our pieces because of the kiln schedule and COVID, so it was really exciting when I got to pick up this week. We love how they turned out, but we definitely have ideas for how we would do things differently if we were to do it again sometime.

Bringing home our pieces inspired an impromptu family sushi snack time, and I am totally here for it. Look how gorgeous this spread is (sushi is from Kroger – I can make it, but chose to buy it this time).

Family sushi snack time!

Incidentally, we will be heading to our favorite local sushi restaurant, Mr. Sushi, this weekend to celebrate our youngest daughter turning 17. Time can slow down a little bit… Do you have a favorite sushi restaurant? Let us know in the comments!

February 2022 Create Date – Columbus Cookie Academy

When everything shut down in March 2020 and Keith was suddenly home for lunch, we started watching television together while we ate everyday. We started with rewatching Community, we’ve watched every season of Taskmaster we can find, we went through as much of the Goldbergs as we could stand, enjoyed Schitt’s Creek, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few. Over the holidays this year, we went through all 5 seasons of the Christmas Cookie Challenge. We loved seeing the techniques the contestants used, and Keith mentioned that he would love to take a cookie decorating class. You know that I was all over that!

After searching a bit on Facebook, I started emailing back and forth with Molly from Columbus Cookie Academy. Keith and I seem to have a lot of meetings these days, but eventually we were able to find a date that worked for us to go try our hand at some icing techniques. That date then had to be pushed back due to the ice and snow storm the beginning of this month, but we were finally able to make up that class this week. We made the drive up to Galena very excited to decorate some cookies.

Molly was so personable and easy to talk to. She had an amazing way of explaining things so we could understand, and she was very sweet to answer any questions we asked. The first thing she did was demonstrate making the royal icing that we would use. She included that recipe and her cookie recipe in the goodie bag we got to take home after the class, and she made sure to walk us through it step by step so that we can replicate it at home. The next thing she helped us with was getting the icing to the right consistency and colors to decorate our cookies.

Next it was time to learn to flood the top of the cookie with icing. We then learned some wet on wet techniques. She seemed to think that Keith and I were naturals – I did volunteer that I have taken cake decorating before, so I wasn’t exactly a beginner. But Keith was definitely excellent at this from the start. I am so proud of him!

In between steps, the cookies went in the dehydrator so the icing could harden a bit. It was fun to decide how to divide each cookie for decorating and what techniques to use.

In the end, we both decorated 5 cookies. Molly also gave us some quadruple chocolate cookies she had made – mine had sea salt on top and was divine. Yum! We were thrilled with the box of cookies we got to take home – and so were the kids. πŸ™‚

Our finished cookies – can you guess who did what? There are clues in the photos above. πŸ™‚

We both left this experience feeling really positive – Keith is already planning to make cookies for the Spring musical cast party in May. I think we should choose a slightly smaller project for our first one, but I like his enthusiasm. We definitely recommend Columbus Cookie Academy if you have any desire to learn to decorate cookies!

Have you ever done any cookie decorating? What is your favorite royal icing technique? We’d love to hear in the comments.

January 2022 Create Date – Pleasures of the Cup

I am so excited to be writing about our first Create Date for 2022! I have missed this so much – although I will admit that we have done some creating and adventuring that didn’t appear here in the blog. I am really just thrilled that I have adventure and create dates on the books through March! So many things to look forward to!

For this particular Create Date, we did a little mixology with the Ohio History Connection in their virtual event called Ohio On The Rocks – Pleasures of the Cup. The event featured 3 segments where we mixed new cocktails and 4 segments where we learned some facts about Ohio during the Ice Age. Was it a little bit cheesy at points? Yes. Was it still super fun? Absolutely! We have actual done one other virtual event like this called Once Upon a Cocktail (it was fairy tale themed), and I have enjoyed both. We got to buy and mix new drinks and we definitely enjoyed making some cocktails from our last class over the holidays. Also, both times, we have done this “with” a friend, so we spent the time sending messages and photos back and forth. That was definitely wonderful and I would recommend attending the event with friends for that added fun.

I am going to leave you with some fun photos of our set up and drinks – we made Sex on a Glacier, The Purple Mammoth, and Damn the Weather. I think Damn the Weather was our favorite, although we enjoyed The Purple Mammoth a lot as well.

Have you ever taken a mixology class? Do you have a favorite mixed drink that you would recommend we learn to make? Have you ever attended a Pleasures of the Cup event? Let me know in the comments.

Winter Wonderland Game – How to Make a Seasonal Candyland Board

I don’t know about you, but I love to play board games. You may recall all of our family game nights and trips to game cafes – there’s just something about eating yummy snacks and moving tiny figures around a board. When I started teaching on Outschool, I knew that I wanted to share games with my students, but it took me a while to figure out how that was going to work. I am happy to say that I seem to have cracked part of the code, and I’m here today to share one of my very favorites with you.

I have played many a game of Candyland, so I knew that I wanted to make a game that would play similar but online. Once I got my Canva subscription (which you should run to your computer and do right now if you do any type of designing), I realized I had everything I needed to create a fun game board, spinner, and cards. I am here today to walk you through creating the same type of game – but it doesn’t have to be winter. It could be candy and monster themed for Halloween. It could be a fun spring trip through different flowers. The only limit here is your imagination. Whatever version you are going to make, you will follow a few basic steps.

Step 1: You need to create a fun background for your game board. It should have different terrains and elevations for visual appeal and optimal game play. I chose a winter wonderland with an icy bridge, chilly waterfall, mountains, trees, and some hills.

Step 2: You need to decide where you are going to make the start and where your end goal will be. On this board, I chose to start by the waterfall and then inserted an Ice Palace in the distance to welcome players to the end of the game.

Step 3: It is now time to create a winding path from your starting point to your end goal. I chose to use blue hexagons because they gave me chilly vibes and they meant the path could naturally twist and still interlock.

Step 4: This is my favorite step. This is the part where you get to make 6-7 creative checkpoint areas. These will be the areas of the board that you put on the cards that players will draw throughout the game. They will either be thrilled to skip ahead of everyone else or crushed to have to retrace their steps by moving back. I love to give these spaces personality and really play up how fun they might be to the kids – Don’t eat too many marshmallows in the fort! Be careful, they might be throwing snowballs up ahead! Don’t worry, the Yeti looks scary, but he’s really a big softie. πŸ™‚

Step 5: You have created your areas, now you need to add some sort of marking to the actual spaces that people will go to when they draw those cards. I like to be sure there are 5-7 spaces between the special spaces, but you can make them as close or far apart as you like.

Step 6: Now is the time to make really fun names for all of your special areas. If my students are working on specific sounds, I will try to put them in all of the areas. If I have a mixed group or we are just working on language, I don’t stack sounds as much. This is another really fun step – I love making up names!

Step 7: The last step is also a naming step – you need to name your game. The name here was obvious before I even made the board, but please feel free to be as creative as you can with your name.

That’s it! You have a finished game board! Now you just need a spinner (make a circle like the one below and use a pencil and paperclip to spin) and some special cards (black and white versions are easiest on your printer).

Of course, if you don’t want to reinvent the horse, and if you would like some really nice words lists for L, R, S, and TH sounds, I have already done all of the work and you could just buy this resource in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. It can be found under Winter Wonderland Game with R, L, S, and TH Target Words. I have a few other winter and arctic animal themed games coming really soon and a free SZ Snowman Guess Who Game available as well. I hope you will check it out and click the heart to follow me so you don’t miss any of my new products. You could also join my email list if you want to be the first to know all of my news.

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What was your favorite board game as a kid? What about now? Leave me a note in the comments if you found this helpful or if you have a suggestion for another game I should try to make. I have some others coming soon, but I am always looking for new ideas. Have a winter wonderful day! πŸ™‚

Dude! We’re Getting the Band Back Together!

During this slow down and wait time, we have had some major shifts in our family. We halted our monthly adventure and create dates, we stayed home but definitely also stayed a bit separate. We all have our own areas of the house and we tend to gravitate to them. We have stopped doing many family things unless we are out of town or it is a special occasion. We need to get back to Adventuring, Creating, and Relating to each other more.

At the same time as we have stopped our dates and family nights, I have started 2 new creative endeavors. I am a teacher on Outschool with classes in phonics, crafts, phonemic awareness, confident speaking, and vocabulary. I have thoroughly enjoyed creating games and activities for all of my classes the past 20 months – it has been an amazing creative outlet and adventure in learning new things. This past month, I have taken my creating to another level and opened a Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) shop to sell the materials I have made for my classes. It is a very slow start, but I am really hopeful that this will be another great creative outlet.

What does all of this mean for my blog? Our family (and also our marriage) is definitely ready for some adventure and create dates again – we have done a few new things during this pandemic, but I have not been ready to write about them. It has taken me a long time to be ready to share this part of me again. Looking back at the past 2 years, however, I realized that writing is my way of coping with things, and I have felt a real desire to get back to it. So, my dear friends, I will be back to posting. And, since I have 2 new creative jobs of my own, I will be posting more. The goal will be 3 monthly posts (adventure, create, and relate) and then 1-2 weekly posts (Outschool and TpT shop). It feels good just to be writing this post, so I am certain this is the right decision for me at this time. I hope that it will be a fun and interesting thing for you, as well!

I would love to request that you take a moment to look me up at my two jobs and follow me. If you use my personal link on Outschool as a new family, you can get a $20 credit towards your first class: https://outschool.com/?signup=true&usid=7SKDulCR&utm_campaign=share_invite_link (I am also happy to help anyone interested in teaching on Outschool to apply – my referral code is: 7SKDulCR)

You can find me on TpT at the following link: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Sellers-Im-Following/Add/Ae-Speech-And-Language-Services I have a few products added and will be adding a lot more over the next few months. (Right now I am very excited about my Time-Themed Treasure Hunt games for the Vocalic R and R Blend, L, S, and TH sounds – you can find out more about them in my shop.)

I can’t leave you without a little taste of the create, adventure, and relate posts that I wanted to make the past 20 months. I hope you enjoy – let me know below if you want to learn more about any of them. πŸ™‚

As I close this post, I want to make 2 promises. First of all, I promise to keep this blog about adventures, creating, and relating. Secondly, I promise to have a fun post about my yearly goals for our family and for my businesses in the next couple of weeks.

If you want to be sure you don’t miss future updates, please join my email list. I have lots of fun things planned for this year and I would love to share them with you!

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February Create Date 2020

This month, our family is directly involved in 4 shows and our youngest is also auditioning for another tomorrow. To say that we are busy is a bit of an understatement… There were 4 fundamental truths I knew about this month’s create date:

1. It would most likely need to be at home due to our extremely limited free time together.

2. We needed to throw our oldest an 18th birthday party.

3. Her birthday this year is the day before Mardi Gras.

4. Making a King Cake is on my list of 44 things to do while I am 44.

So, we made a simple king cake. Yes, it uses crescent rolls. Yes, I can make homemade crescent rolls, but please refer to the reference to extremely limited free time mentioned in number 1 above. That was our only short cut, and I don’t even feel a little bit guilty.

Here are a few photos of the process:

And here is the cake in action:

The general consensus is that the cake was amazing – probably not as good as you can get in Louisiana, but definitely better than I have found in Ohio. The recipe that we used can be found here: https://pin.it/JtTqD5G (We did not use pecans, but if you like nuts in baked goods, please have at it.)

What are you doing to celebrate Mardi Gras? We’d love to hear your traditions! πŸ’›πŸ’šπŸ’œ