succulent napkin rings

succulent napkin rings | polka dots and picket fences

Earlier this week I shared the details of the Crafternoon I hosted last week…click here and here if you haven’t read those posts.  After creating terrariums, the guests enjoyed summer style boxed lunches.

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

With the theme of the day being succulent plants, I thought it might be fun to somehow incorporate succulents into the boxed lunches, and I did just that by creating these succulent napkin rings that I attached to the top of the boxes.

succulent napkin rings | polka dots and picket fences

Today I’m sharing the DIY on making these napkin rings…and you don’t need to use succulents, really any flower or small decorative item would work.

succulent napkin rings | polka dots and picket fences

You will need the following supplies…

  • faux succulent stems
  • floral wire
  • green floral tape
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun

succulent napkin rings | oplka dots and picket fences

succulent napkin rings | polka dots and picket fences

succulent napkin rings | polka dots and picket fences

First, you take the floral wire and bend it into a circle, wrapping it around several times.

succulent napkin rings | polka dots and picket fences

Next, wrap the wire with the floral tape.  Just keep wrapping it around the entire circle of wire until it is completely covered in tape.

succulent napkin ring | polka dots and picket fences

succulent napkin ring | polka dots and picket fences

Then cut off a short stem of the succulent you are attaching to it.  Wrap floral tape around it several times to secure it to the wire.

succulent napkin rings | polka dots and picket fences

succulent napkin rings | polka dots and picket fences

Cut off another stem of a succulent and attach it to the wire in the same manner.

succulent napkin rings | polka dots and picket fences

Then I cut off a few of the flower buds and glued them on top of the tape using a hot glue gun.  This hides some of the green tape where it was wrapped several times around the wire.  Then place your cloth napkin inside the napkin ring!

succulent napkin rings | polka dots and picket fences

succulent napkin rings | polka dots and picket fences

So simple, yet it made a big impact against those brown kraft boxes!  I tied them on top of the boxes with jute string, along with a nametag for each box.

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

Such a fun DIY project!  I’m already thinking of some ideas for fall and holiday napkin rings…

summer boxed lunches

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

Yesterday, I shared the details of the Mother Daughter Crafternoon I hosted last week (click here if you haven’t read it).  If you did read it, you know that we created terrariums and then enjoyed summer style boxed lunches.

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

Today, I’m sharing more about those boxed lunches…

I made two different sets of lunches…one for the moms and one for the daughters.

For the daughters, there was definitely more kid fare on the menu…mixed berries, baby carrots with hummus, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and potato chips.  The berries were cut and placed in plastic containers, as well as the carrots.  The potato chips were poured into plastic bags, and the plastic bags were put inside brown paper bags and secured with washi tape.  The sandwiches were made using artisan bread…once assembled, they were wrapped in parchment paper and tied with jute.

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

The moms’ lunch consisted of cherries, cucumbers and red peppers with hummus, French baguettes, and Brie.  The veggies were cut and placed in plastic containers.  The cherries were put in brown paper bags.  The baguettes were wrapped in parchment paper and tied with jute, and the Brie was wrapped in brown kraft paper and also tied.

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

Once all the items were placed in the brown kraft boxes, cloth napkins were attached to the boxes with succulent napkin rings and tied with jute.

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

Aren’t those succulent napkin rings just the cutest?  Just perfect in keeping with the theme of the day!  More on those later…

Various flavors of La Croix, with cactus straws attached to the cans with washi tape, were served for sipping on this hot and humid summer day.

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

Succulent cupcakes were offered as a sweet ending to the boxed lunches.  These were too pretty to hide in a box, so I plated them on wooden bark pedestals.

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

summer boxed lunches | polka dots and picket fences

A simple lunch made more special by the presentation!

And those succulent napkin rings?  I’ll be sharing the DIY on those tomorrow…

 

 

crafternoon…terrariums

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

I recently hosted another Crafternoon at my home!  A friend, who attended my last one, suggested that I plan a Mother Daughter event for the summer.  I thought that would be a fun idea, and I soon began thinking of a craft project that would be appropriate for both moms and their daughters…

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

With the recent popularity of succulent plants and the summer season, terrariums came to mind as the chosen project.   Each mother and daughter will create their own terrarium to take home and (hopefully) grow!

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

I set up for the terrarium-making on our sunporch…perfect in case we spilled some soil, which we did.

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

Each guest chose their container prior to the day of the Crafternoon.  Those vessels were awaiting each person when they arrived.

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

The rest of the supplies were set up on the table in buckets and containers…pebble stones, activated charcoal, succulent/ cactus soil, moss, succulent plants, and items for decorating the terrariums.

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

I printed step-by-step directions for putting together a terrarium and displayed them for everyone to see.

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

Once everyone arrived and caught up on each other’s summer fun, we headed to the porch to create terrariums.  They turned out so cute and each one looked different and unique!

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

I wish I had taken a group picture of all of them, but I forgot…so you’ll have to trust me when I say they looked so cute and colorful.

After the terrarium project was finished, the moms and daughters enjoyed a boxed lunch together.

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing more about those boxed lunches.  Be sure to check back to find out what I put inside them and how they were packaged to go with the succulent theme of the day…

 

all american milkshakes

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

Can you believe it is already the end of June?!?  The Fourth of July will be here in less than a week!  Where is the summer going…

Speaking of the Fourth of July, I thought I’d share these fun milkshakes that will put you in a festive mood to celebrate our country’s independence.

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

Don’t these look so festive and yummy…

So here’s how to make some for your friends and family who may be visiting for the holiday weekend.

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

You will need the following supplies…

  • red candy melts
  • blue candy melts
  • white candy melts
  • patriotic sprinkles (red, white and blue stars or jimmies)
  • patriotic gummy candies
  • wooden skewers
  • straws
  • vanilla bean ice cream
  • milk
  • vanilla
  • heavy whipping cream
  • sugar
  • plastic piping bags
  • mason jar glasses

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

First, heat the white candy melts in the microwave until fully melted.   Turn the glasses upside down and dip them into the bowl of white chocolate in order to coat the rims of the glasses in it.  Then, cover the white chocolate with the sprinkles.  This can get messy, so do it quickly and then place the glasses in the freezer to harden.

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

While the rims of the glasses are solidifying, heat the red and blue candy melts in two separate bowls until they are fully melted.  Then, spoon it into two plastic piping bags.  Snip a small hole at the end of each one.

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

Now here’s where it can get tricky…you need to work quickly because it can get messy.  And you don’t want it to solidify on you too soon!  Using the piping bags, squeeze the melted red chocolate at the top of the glass so that it drips down the inside of the glass.  Do this alternately with the melted blue chocolate.  You will start to see a striped glass.  Once finished, place the glasses back in the freezer to harden.

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

While the glasses are in the freezer, mix the ice cream and the milk together in a blender to make the milkshakes.  I use about 2 cups of ice cream and 1/2 cup of milk for each milkshake.

The whipped cream can be made by placing 2 cups of heavy whipping cream and 4 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl and mixing on high speed until medium to stiff peaks form.

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

You can also put together the gummy candies on the wooden skewers, so that they are ready to go in the glasses.

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

Now it’s time to assemble them!  Pour the milkshakes into the glasses, add a scoop of the whipped cream, and top it all off with the gummy candy skewers and a straw!  Oh, and don’t forget a few more star sprinkles on top!

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

Serve these to your guests on the Fourth of July and you may just create some fireworks of your own!

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

all american milkshakes | polka dots and picket fences

Happy Fourth of July!

 

minion mix

minion mix | polka dots and picket fences

Well, those lovable little yellow creatures are back again!  Yes, the minions are back with another movie…Despicable Me 3 is coming to theaters this Friday!  I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait.  I think I like those awkwardly cute and lovable creatures more than my youngest daughter (and she thinks they are pretty cute and funny)!

To celebrate, we made some minion mix…a sweet and salty treat that somewhat resembles those cute creatures.

minion mix | polka dots and picket fences

What do you think?  Love those eyeballs, huh?

To make this, you will need…

  • pretzel sticks
  • yellow candy melts (2 packages)
  • candy eyes
  • blue and yellow M&Ms
  • blue and yellow sprinkles

minion mix | polka dots and picket fences

First, spread out the pretzel sticks into a single layer on parchment paper.

minion mix | polka pots and picket fences

Then, melt the yellow candy melts.  I do this in the microwave by heating the melts in a bowl for 60 seconds…take out and stir…then heat again for 30 seconds….take out and stir…continue this at 30 second intervals until completely melted.

minion mix | polka dots and picket fences

Once melted, pour it over the layer of pretzels.  Decorate with the candy eyes, sprinkles, and M&Ms.  Do this quickly before the melts begin to set.

minion mix | polka dots and picket fences

Allow it to solidify (you can place it in the fridge to speed it along, if you wish), and then break it apart into smaller pieces for snacking.

minion mix | polka dots and picket fences

So simple…even a minion could make it!

 

 

college shopping dos and don’ts

college shopping | polka dots and picket fences

college shopping | polka dots and picket fences

A lot of my time last summer was spent getting our oldest daughter ready to go to college.  Audrey had an entire list, organized by categories (she’s a very organized person for someone her age), of items she felt we needed to purchase for her dorm.  Well…never having been through this before (except as an actual college student myself), I wasn’t exactly sure about some of the items.

college shopping | polka dots and picket fences

It’s been a year now since we embarked on our numerous shopping trips, and I thought I’d share some of what I learned along the way…the DOS and DON’TS of college shopping!

college shopping | polka dots and picket fences

  1.  DO purchase the top of the line memory foam mattress topper.  It truly is worth the money!  I mean…have you ever slept on those thin, hard dorm mattresses?
  2. Speaking of bedding, DON’T wait to order your comforter.  Audrey didn’t find out her roommate assignment until mid-July, and by then most of her choices were on backorder.
  3. DO purchase sheets that fit those XL twin mattresses.
  4. DO take advantage of the PACK AND HOLD service offered at Bed Bath & Beyond.  This was a real lifesaver for us, considering how far away she went for college.  It works like this…you visit your local BB&B and choose the items you want.  Those items are set aside at the store of your choice to pick up at a later date.  Our car was already packed so tight with other belongings that it was so nice to not transport everything from Ohio to South Carolina.
  5. DON’T forget to wash the new towels, sheets, washcloths, and blankets before you arrive on campus!
  6. DON’T feel like a safe is necessary.  We were instructed to purchase one, but I discovered that Audrey rarely used it.  However, she didn’t take expensive jewelry or her good camera to college.  She usually had her credit cards and laptop with her.  She attends a small college, and the dorm rooms automatically close and lock when one leaves.  My advice is to use your judgement…you may feel differently, given your own situation.
  7. DO find out what the college provides in each dorm room.  There was a mini fridge and microwave in her room.  However, she had to bring a desk chair and a ladder for the bunkbed.  I know…bringing your own desk chair seemed strange to us, also!
  8. DO coordinate with your roommate items that can be shared.  Audrey brought the Keurig and the rug, and her roommate supplied the curtains.
  9. DON’T forget to stock up on Command hooks!  They will be your best friend, as you find that they serve a lot of purposes and don’t damage those sacred dorm walls.
  10. DO purchase a shower caddy.  A great way to keep all your toiletry items together, as you will most likely be sharing a bathroom.
  11. DO find out the amount of storage space in the dorm room.  This will help you know what to purchase…rolling under bed drawers, containers for shelves, or a storage ottoman are just a few options.
  12. DON’T think you won’t need a fan, even if the dorm is air conditioned.  A small one near your bed is always nice to have on hand.
  13. DO purchase extra lighting.  A desk lamp is essential for those late night study sessions.  A clip-on lamp is great to have for attaching to your bed, in case your late night studying takes place in bed!
  14. A bedrest pillow is so comfortable for late night reading and studying.
  15. Finally, and most importantly, DON’T worry if things don’t go as planned!  We had Audrey’s first dorm room set up and organized before she began orientation.  Yes, I said FIRST because she changed roommates two weeks into the semester…she moved into a different room with a new roommate, so her rug was put in storage and they used her new roommate’s rug.  And that bedding that was on backorder?  It finally arrived in October!  You know what they say about the best laid plans…anyway, it’s better to bring along your flexibility, also.

college shopping | polka dots and picket fences

Getting our oldest ready for college seemed like such a monumental task last summer…I’m so glad we are able to relax a bit this year.  I hope that my DO’s and DON’TS are helpful to anyone going through this process.  My final bit of advice…enjoy that time with your soon-to-be college freshman and happy shopping!

 

master bedroom/ bath refresh

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

Well, I got that “itch” again this spring.  No, not poison ivy!  You know the one…that “itch” to refresh a few rooms in our house!  I think it comes from living in the midwest and being cooped up all winter…I just feel the need to make some updates and changes in our home.

The room that received the most attention (and needed it) was our master bedroom and bathroom.  Of course, I forgot to take any BEFORE pictures.  So I’ll just share the AFTER pictures and what we did to the rooms…

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

We’ve had this bedroom furniture for over seventeen years.  While I like the style of the pieces, they needed an update.  So I talked my husband into painting them black.  Not only did he agree to it, he actually did the painting!  I think he’s gotten used to my “spring itches!”  That black paint and the newly painted handles made all the difference.

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

So while he was painting, I was sewing new window treatments for both rooms.  I used a grey geometrical patterned fabric for the bedroom windows, and I decided on a grey and yellow pattern for the bathroom.

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

The bedding needed a refresh, as well.  I decided on a simple white comforter, layered with yellow and grey pillows and throws.  Lots of different textures appeal to the eye!

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

My favorite spot in the room has to be the new grey tufted loveseat…a great place to curl up and read a book!  I updated the brass sconces on the wall behind the loveseat by painting them a matt nickel finish.  The new pictures on the wall are fun memories of recent family vacations.

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

Now for the bathroom…

You know how when you move into a new house, you put together a list of things you want to improve or change?  Well, this was on our short list of things to do over eight years ago.  Yes, I said eight years ago AND we finally did it.

Here’s the issue…our bathroom is very open to the master bedroom.  It bothered us at first, but then we just grew used to it…at times.  At other times, I really wanted a bit of privacy.  We finally came up with a solution of how to separate these two rooms, and I just love it!

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

We had sliding farmhouse style doors installed between the two rooms.  They function perfectly, and I love the crisp look of them!  Now I can close the “door” while I take a shower.

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

We didn’t do a total redo…but with these changes and updates, I feel like I’m living in a brand new room!


Room Sources…

  • window treatment fabric…JoAnn Fabric and Crafts
  • curtain rods…Home Decorators Collection
  • yellow euro shams…Pottery Barn
  • grey pompom pillows…Hobby Lobby
  • comforter…Joss & Main
  • grey fur throw…Home Goods
  • yellow throw…Pier One
  • loveseat…Jennifer Grey
  • white pompom pillows…Home Goods
  • bathroom doors…Home Depot
  • bath towels…Pottery Barn

vegetable garden markers

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

My youngest daughter has been begging me to plant a vegetable garden all spring.  I find this quite ironic considering that, for the most part, she avoids eating vegetables!  However, I did think this endeavor might encourage her to snack on a few carrots or cucumbers every so often…so we took on a new project of creating a vegetable garden.

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

When I say “we,” it truly was a family affair.  Once we found an area in our yard that was sunny enough, my husband set about building a raised garden bed.  And while he was doing that, Claire and I created garden markers to identify the plants we are going to grow.

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

We used wooden spoons, various colors of acrylic paint, and a black sharpie marker to make these.  First, we painted the top portion of the spoons on both sides, and placed them on waxed paper to dry.

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

Once dry, we decorated each spoon with a simple drawing of the plant and wrote the name of each vegetable.  So simple!

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

Then it was time to plant!

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

And finally, we placed the vegetable garden markers next to the plants to identify them.

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

Hopefully, we will have vegetables to pick soon…

crafternoon…spring edition

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

I hosted my first ever CRAFTERNOON a few months ago (click here to see the details of the fun afternoon of crafting, food , and friendship).  It was such a success that I decided to host another one…this time with a spring theme.

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

As part of the day, the guests created this vintage-inspired floral arrangements.  Don’t you just love those white-washed wood containers!

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

The supplies were set up and waiting as everyone arrived…the wood containers, floral foam, Spanish moss, silk flowers, and greenery.  Not to mention a sweet treat of white chocolate malted eggs for each person!

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

After a few minutes of introductions and mingling, the crafting began.  The floral foam was placed inside the containers and then hidden with the moss…that required some strategic placement.  Then the fun part…the flowers!  While I offered my sample as a guide, everyone had their own unique way of designing their floral arrangement.  And if they ever want to switch out the flowers or use the wood container for a different purpose, they can simply take out the flowers and greenery.

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

Once the crafting was finished, it was time for a light lunch of roasted chicken salad on a bed of lettuce, fresh fruit, prosciutto wrapped cheese, and a croissant.  In keeping with the floral theme, the napkins were the perfect accent to my antique glass luncheon sets.

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

Since this spring edition of the CRAFTERNOON was about floral arrangements, I thought these flowerpot dessert cakes were the perfect ending!  Not only were they cute, that chocolate buttercream frosting was delish!

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

Once again, it was a fun afternoon of crafting, food, and friendship…a CRAFTERNOON!

P.S.  I’m planning another CRAFTERNOON for summer…a mother-daughter afternoon of creating terrariums, followed by a fun lunch.  I’ll be sharing more details soon…

party like a pineapple

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

If you are a regular reader of Polka Dots & Picket Fences, you know how much I enjoy browsing (okay, more like shopping) the Dollar Spot at Target!  Really, who can resist those great finds at even better prices…

Well, that was the case when I spotted all these fun and colorful pineapple items in the dollar bins recently…yep, I couldn’t resist and loaded my cart with a “few” of these summery party supplies!

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

The napkins!  The appetizer/ dessert plates!  And that beverage decanter!  It’s all so cute and colorful that I decided to style my bar cart with it all for the summer.

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

Pina coladas, anyone?  And what goes better with that than individual pineapple upside down cakes…I’m sharing the printable recipe for those at the end of the post!

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

And what about that lighted pineapple garland…I think that’s my favorite part of the cart!

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

The teal and yellow color scheme just screams summer, and I intend to enjoy this bar cart setup ALL summer long!

Be sure to get the recipe for those pineapple upside down cakes.  They are so moist and flavorful…a refreshing treat on a hot summer day!

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences
Print

Individual Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cans pineapple slices
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • maraschino cherries (cut in half)
  • 1 package yellow cake mix

Instructions

  1. Drain the pineapples and reserve the juice.

  2. Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat.  Add the brown sugar, and mix together.

  3. Spray the the insides of a muffin pan, and evenly divide the butter/ sugar mixture and pour into the muffin cups.

  4. Press the pineapple slices on top of the sugar mixture.

    party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences
  5. Place the cherries in the center of the pineapple, sliced side up.

    party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences
  6. Prepare the cake mix according the package instructions, substituting the water for the reserved pineapple juice.

  7. Pour the cake batter on top of the pineapple slices.  Fill 2/3 of the muffin cup.

  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until baked through.

  9. Cool 5 minutes.  Loosen edges and invert cakes onto a cooling rack.

    party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences