My September Shelves + Other Apple Decor

I decorate with apples in September. Okay, I know I’m a little crazy, but I just can’t bring out the “fall” stuff until it’s officially fall. As in September 23rd this year. Some years I’ll fudge a little and decorate over the weekend before, but most of the time, we do it on the day.

Problem is, by the end of August, I’m generally itching for fall. It’s my favorite season.

A couple years ago I decided that apples would make a fair bridge. They are adorable, and they don’t really match with my leaves and pumpkins (so I usually don’t use them). It’s the perfect solution. Apples in September.

Early Fall Decor | Apples in September

My husband built these shelves for me (out of American Chestnut beams he pulled out of the walls of our house) last September when he took some time off to work on the house. That means this is the first time to decorate them with apples. Most of my apple stuff came from my mom when she moved out here to be with us. Her last kitchen was decorated in apples, so she had plenty and I had my pick.

The hand lettered piece on the left side of the top shelf I created last year. The pie on the bottom shelf is watercolor on a piece of wood I did the year before that. I’d like to do that one over sometime because it smudged a bit when we added the clear finish. But for now, I like it.

Early Fall Decor | Apples in September

Under those shelves on my counter, I put my chalkboard frame (which is really just a white frame from Walmart with a black paper in it. I use white water based paint pen or chalkboard pens on it.) The design was there from my mom’s chocolate themed party, but I changed the words to “apple cider please” to match the apples. I thought the little wood apple was cute here and it all went well with my after meal clean up chart which is there all the time. (I scribbled out the names of my children for privacy.) I’m loving this set up because it mostly blocks the pencil sharpener that lives on the corner of the counter there (for lack of a better place for it). Homeschool families need their pencil sharpeners!

Early Fall Decorating for September

This cute little collection is sitting in the corner of my kitchen by the windows. Old basket with puffy red check fabric, jar, candle, plastic apple and my new favorite apple artwork (available to print… check it out!)

I moved this from the living room early last week when I moved my stack of Pergo out of there to get ready for some renovations coming up.

Early Fall Decorating for September

That’s right, the little “table” it’s sitting on is really a covered stack of flooring waiting to be installed. πŸ™‚ You never do really know what someone’s house looks like based on a blog, do you?

How do you decorate in September??

Gathering here.

Recommended Reading:

Pick Your Own Apples | Hand Painted Printable
My Shelves Dressed Up for Fall
My Shelves Done Up for Valentine’s Day

Simple (and cheap) Chocolate Theme Birthday Party

It’s a chocolate themed birthday party! Super inexpensive, simple and fun. The kids loved it and so did my mom (the birthday girl).

Mole Chicken - Chocolate Theme Birthday Party

So, a couple weeks ago we celebrated my mom’s birthday with a chocolate theme. We often go out for dinner on her birthday, but there is chocolate in Mole sauce and she LOVES her Mole. No question… I would be cooking. (We got our all-you-can-eat sushi a few days later!)

I kept the decorations pretty simple. I spent August trying to recover and catch up from the unexpected 10 days we spent in the hospital with my daughter in July. Only now am I starting to feel we’re back to normal.

Mole Chicken - Chocolate Theme Birthday Party

I made the Hershey Kisses by wrapping foil over upside down bowls of various sizes. The paper is just printer paper I cut into strips and put messages on. Are they perfect? No. But they were well received and did their job. The little ones in the next picture (on my shelves) can also use the top of a water bottle instead of a little bowl, but I forgot to keep the ones we had. If you do that, you can fill them with candy and give them as party favors too. Since it’s always just us at these parties, we didn’t need the candy or the favors. πŸ™‚

Chocolate Theme Birthday Party

The Chocolate Tuffles and Cupcake cards could have been framed, but I didn’t get to the store for the frames, so they were cute on their own. My mom has since framed them and hung them in her chocolate themed bathroom. They doubled as gifts.

The chalkboard frame is just a cheap white frame (my go to frame for all my artwork because of it’s simplicity) from Walmart with a black sheet of paper in it. I used a white water based paint pen to do the illustration of a mug and hand lettered “just add chocolate and cream please” on the side. I love that frame! Silly that it took me so long to pull it together!

Chalkboard - Chocolate Theme Birthday Party

As you know if you’ve been around for a while, I decorate my large (husband made) chalkboard for birthdays and events too. Everyone has come to look forward to it and uses it to help determine the theme for the day when I keep it a secret. This one says “birthday wishes and chocolate kisses.”

Brownie Cake - Chocolate Theme Birthday Party

This brownie cake on the back of a Ghirardelli Brownie box mix was the inspiration for the theme. This past spring, my mom saw the picture of that Ombre Brownie Cake on the box and declared that she wanted to try that. I decided that day that we would do it for her birthday.

I’ve never made ganache before and as you can see, my cake doesn’t look exactly like the picture. It was a good first run though, and I hope to do it again because it was yummy!

Note: Not all (or any) of your plans have to work out just right. The person or people you are celebrating will still feel loved that you tried to make their day a big deal! Don’t let fear of failure (or failure itself in my case so often) keep you from going all out!

Pin it Button from mamasbrush
Cheap and Easy Chocolate Birthday Party

Gathering here.

Recommended Reading:

Ladybug Birthday Party
A Jolly Holiday – A Mary Poppins Birthday
Ice Cream Parlor Birthday Party

Apples – Pick Your Own Fall Sign | Hand Lettered and Painted Free Printable

I love love love these printable signs I found over at Clean and Scentsible! I pinned my favorites here. (And that towel… you’ll have to go look. It’s too cute!)

Pick Your Own Fall Apples | Free Printable with hand lettered Colossians 3:23

I tend to steer toward the farmhouse style decor… at least on Pinterest, and these cute signs planted a seed in me to make my own version of them. I just couldn’t let many days go by before I just had to try it with an apple theme. I generally decorate with apples in September. It’s not quite fall, but I’m itching for it to be… apples seem to be a happy medium before my leaves and pumpkins come out at the end of the month.

Pick Your Own Fall Apples | Free Printable with hand lettered Colossians 3:23

I started by sketching this one out. It’s not a “no-sketch” by any means. There were too many elements to get just right. I suppose if you wanted to “no-sketch” it, you could always scan each element in individually and put it together in Photoshop… but I didn’t do that this time. πŸ™‚

I love the look of all the farmhouse signs I see, but when it comes time to buy or make one for myself, I can’t make myself do it. Something always seems to be missing. First of all, I wanted to add a verse to it somehow, but I also wanted to make it more personal. I felt like putting “family farm” at the top fit us better since that’s what we pretend to be. Then I loved how “pick your own” fit the attitude of encouraging the children to help out and take initiative.

Pick Your Own Fall Apples | Free Printable with hand lettered Colossians 3:23

I tried a new watercolor paper this time around. Hot pressed. It’s much smoother and [hopefully] easier to scan and clean up in Photoshop for you all. Shayda recently did a video that talks about the differences in watercolor paper, so I was ready for it to be different. It definitely was different, and it will take some practice, but I think it worked out nicely. Nothing you should be afraid to try for sure. The main reason I decided to try it is that Eileen at My Creative Resolution mentioned in a post (no idea which one… sorry!) that the texture of watercolor paper is hard on artist pens. It was at that moment I understood why my pens never seem to last long! πŸ™‚ An ah-ha moment to be sure! The smooth finish of the hot pressed paper should help them to last longer. And it does scan much nicer!

Pick Your Own Fall Apples | Free Printable with hand lettered Colossians 3:23

I know there are already so many fall printables out there, but I don’t often see these seasonal printables with Bible verses on them, so I want to share them with you in the off chance that any of you are still in the market for a cute apple themed fall printable or have been holding out for one with a verse. Click here to download it and visit my slowly growing printables page for more!

Pin it Button from mamasbrush
Pick Your Own Fall Free Printable

Gathering here.

Recommended Reading:

Get Away to the Mountains – Printable
Keep Calm and Get Cozy – Printable
God’s Got This… Let the Adventure Begin – Printable

Something Sweet – Chocolate Frosted Cupcake in Watercolor

Chocolate Frosted Cupcake in Watercolor

This week I spent some time painting sweet things. Chocolate, to be specific. And all for my mom’s birthday.

Sometimes birthday presents don’t need to be wrapped. Don’t get me wrong, there should be some presents to unwrap! But they don’t ALL have to be, do they?

Chocolate Frosted Cupcake in Watercolor

I painted this one for my mom’s birthday this past weekend. Her bathroom is decorated in chocolate. That’s right. Chocolate. No, it’s not dirty fingerprints from over indulgent children. It’s been done on purpose. From a poster on the wall about it’s history, to candles shaped like truffles, and everything in between… chocolate!

Pin it Button from mamasbrush
Chocolate Frosted Cupcake in Watercolor

I thought a chocolate frosted cupcake with a pink liner would match her bathroom perfectly! But it also matched her birthday theme… so instead of wrapping it, I set it out to decorate! πŸ™‚ Double duty!

Gathering here.

Recommended Reading:

Cupcakes – Watercolor Illustration
Let’s Meet Over Coffee – God
Ice Cream Parlor Birthday with Artwork to Match

Easy Hiking Theme Birthday on a Budget

I wasn’t sure how I was going to make this “Hiking” themed birthday different from the “Camping” theme we did a few years ago, and let me tell you, inspiration was not coming. I had only general ideas going into the evening before the big day, but hopefully that is just proof of how easy and budget friendly this whole theme was.

Birthdays are a big deal around here, and if you’ve been around a while, then you know that there is always a theme. I was really struggling with what the theme would be this time around since the interests of my now nine year old haven’t changed much over the last few years. I’ve done all the themes already. What he really wanted was a hiking theme, but I kept fighting against it since we just did a camping theme a few years ago.

Added into all that, my husband and I spent 10 days during July in the hospital with our oldest daughter and, while she is in full health now, the week we got home was full of recovery and catching up from being away from home and the rest of the kids for so long. That left only a few days to figure out what I was going to do for this birthday.

Finally I gave in. Hiking theme it was… but I had no idea what I would do. Pinterest is always a huge help, but most of the “hiking” searches brought up tons of great “camping” themed party ideas. Or “national park” themes. Still not exactly what I was looking for. (See my Pinterest board for more ideas!)

One thing I did find was cute hiking signs I could print… but my printer wasn’t working at the last minute, so we didn’t have those.

So what’s a girl to do with no balloons, no streamers, and no idea what to start with? I headed upstairs to to the attic for the Christmas/winter decorations. Yes I did! You may recognize some of these from the Cozy Mountain Lodge Women’s Retreat I decorated for earlier this year too.

I put some of these decorations on my much loved shelves.

Adventure Awaits Hand Painted Card -- Easy Hiking Theme Birthday on a Budget

And I try to paint/illustrate a little card for each of the kids on their birthday. It’s become something that is really special to them. This time I thought it fit nicely in the decoration. You could totally do this painting. I painted the green part of the tree loosely, leaving gaps here and there in a light green. After that dried, I did it again with the same paint, but not going all the way to the edges. Then a third time after it dried again. Once it was all dry the fourth time, I added the brown trunk. Sometimes I simply use a tall triangle for a pine tree. It works great!

The mountains I put on a pedestal in the middle of the breakfast table. (Excuse the wrinkled tablecloth… the epitome of last minute.)

Birthday breakfast was cinnamon roll mountains. Super easy! Two cans of cinnamon rolls from the refrigerated section of the grocery store (though you can make your own if you have the time and inclination). I just unrolled each one and re-rolled it in the slightest cone shape. A little tip: don’t go too high with your cone or it will topple over… but I just made that one mine. πŸ™‚ No big deal.

I made little flags out of scrapbook paper and glued “take a hike” circles on to them. The stick is a skewer I cut into three parts. I hand wrote the “take a hike” but you could use something printed off the computer or even stickers if you can find something you like.

Life's An Adventure... Go Hiking! Chalkboard -- Easy Hiking Theme Birthday on a Budget

The chalkboard was really easy to do. Honestly, the hardest part was the lettering. Again, you could even use a simple tall triangle for the tree if the scribbled lines are too much. I found that the orange chalk gave enough of a brown feel over the black of the chalkboard that it worked perfectly.

Hiking Trail Cake -- Easy Hiking Theme Birthday on a Budget

The cake was the most last minute of all. I baked the cake the night before… but I used too high of a temperature and it was dry. So my daughter and I remade it that morning. That afternoon I was assembling my cake unfrozen (freezing them first makes it super easy to assemble and frost!!) and with no real idea of what I wanted to do. None of the 2-3 pins I found were what I wanted/had time for, so I was on my own. The cake has it’s own post! Click over to find out how I made it! πŸ™‚

And that’s how we did our easy hiking theme birthday on a budget! To top it off, we recommended some hiking themed birthday presents to family who were looking for ideas, so the back pack, nature journal and compass really added to the excitement! πŸ™‚

Pin it Button from mamasbrush
Easy Hiking Theme Birthday on a Budget

Gathering here.

Recommended reading:

Take a Hike: How I made a Sloped Birthday Cake
Ladybug Birthday Party Theme
Every “BUG”ys Welcome Adoption Party
Mary Poppins Birthday Party Theme

Easy Wafer Cookie Pencils for Back to Homeschool

Easy Wafer Cookie Pencils for Back to Homeschool

These adorable Easy Wafer Cookie Pencils for Back to Homeschool were super easy to make and so fun for the kids on our first day of school!

With the the approach of the 4th of July and all the other summery goodness, comes the start up of a new homeschool year for us. But who has time to spend blogging in real time? What? People DO blog in June? I don’t know how you all do it. I actually did post 3 times in June and I’m pretty sure other more important things didn’t happen because of it. June is just crazy for our family!

Easy Wafer Cookie Pencils for Back to Homeschool

That’s right, we start school July 1st around here. (Pop over here to find out why.)

Easy Wafer Cookie Pencils for Back to Homeschool

I saw the idea originally on Pinterest here, but you can find her amazing tutorial directly, by clicking this link.

As per usual, I didn’t click over to read the directions until after I’d done my own thing. That means I used different means to a similar end. πŸ™‚

Instead of melting candies, I mixed up some powdered sugar and milk to make a simple frosting. I started with the white and dipped all the pencil tips. I then added the chocolate chip (mini chips would work better as Keri suggests, but I worked with what I had.) I put the sheet pan in fridge to set up after this.

A while later (30 minutes to an hour?) I added some powdered sugar and milk to the left over white frosting and then a bit of red food coloring. I had to go back and forth a bit on the amounts until I got the consistency I wanted, and even then it could have been thicker if I had been more patient.

I dipped the “eraser” side of the wafer into the pink and set them to dry on the lined cookie sheet.

Easy Wafer Cookie Pencils for Back to Homeschool

Then back into the fridge they went.

In the end I could have trimmed the run off of the pink frosting like I did for the white, but I figured the kids wouldn’t mind the extra frosting. πŸ™‚ They turned out so cute and the kids love this little tradition we do for the first day of school (two years in a row establishes tradition around here. Good thing it’s easy.)

Easy Wafer Cookie Pencils for Back to Homeschool

To be honest, I had a dozen other ideas I wanted to do for the first day of school, but it’s a busy time and this is the only one I actually carved out time for. You can find all my fun back to homeschool ideas on my Back to Homeschool Board. I hope you will find some to make your first day of school special… whether you homeschool or not! πŸ™‚

Pin it Button from mamasbrush
Easy Wafer Cookie Pencils for Back to Homeschool

Gathering here.

No Sketch Challenge: Watercolor Painting with a Summer Theme

Challenge: No Sketch Watercolor Painting with a Summer Theme

This collection of summer themed watercolor illustrations was a spur of the moment adventure.

The big kids were at summer camp, leaving me with the little three, ages 3-7. It’s been a long time since my oldest was 7. It was quite the adventure, and to be honest, while I had more chores to do without them here, it was like a mini vacation.

The kids wanted to paint, so instead of my usual “no”, I actually said yes. (Point for mom!) I grabbed their paint sets and got them some water and brushes and paper towels. Then I grabbed some for me.

But what would I paint. I don’t paint as much during the summer due to more demands on my energy, less time, and less inspiration. I just get more excited about painting the other seasons I guess.

I started with the little blue crab in the corner. It reminded me of our weekend in St. Michael’s, MD this past fall (you should totally go, by the way, super fun little harbor town!) From there it just sorta turned into a summer theme. I laid down some paint for a handful of illustrations and when one was dry, I added the next color or layer. (I like having more than one painting going at a time for this very reason!)

Challenge: No Sketch Watercolor Painting with a Summer Theme

The catch? Whatever I wanted to paint, I had to start with the watercolors. No pencil sketch first. My reasoning was lazy enough. I didn’t want to take a bunch of extra time getting things laid out. Who knows how long the kid’s attention span would last this time anyway.

Way back in the beginning, when I was just learning to paint, I painted like this all the time. I hadn’t fine tuned (ummm… still haven’t) my drawing skills and I didn’t know any better. I don’t paint like this as much anymore, mostly because I usually have a purpose to my painting and I want to sketch it out first to get the look and layout just right. But it is so fun to just paint. It frees me from the need for perfection (ahem) and lets me experiment. I have to remember two things when I paint this way.

Challenge: No Sketch Watercolor Painting with a Summer Theme

2 things to remember:

  1. It does have to be perfect. Things won’t be laid out just right or centered or anything. (Note the position of the palm tree to the cloud. If I was going to be all crazy, I might wish it was a smidge to the left, but who’s going to be like that?) And the end result doesn’t have to look exactly like the real thing… it’s my creative interpretation. (aka I can do what I want.)
  2. I don’t have to love every illustration in the end. There are a couple little illustrations on here that I really love and will probably scan for use later, or at least try to paint again sometime. (I think that tiny firefly is just adorable!) Others, I wasn’t happy with at all, and if I do them again, it will be to improve upon them. (The bee needs a lot of work people!)

So now it’s your turn! Grab a set of watercolor paints (your kid’s are fine!) some water and paper (I began my painting adventures with card stock if that’s all you have) and just start painting. It helps to have an idea or theme in mind to get you started, but paint anything you want. No sketching! And have fun!

Leave me a link to the pic in the comments if you upload it somewhere! I’d love to see it!

Pin it Button from mamasbrush
Challenge: No Sketch Watercolor Painting with a Summer Theme

Gathering here.

Patriotic Summer Time Free Printable

Summer Time BBQs. Grilling for everyday or those large family gatherings. It’s what summer is made for and today I have a fun patriotic free printable for you!

Patriotic Summer Time Free Printable from mamasbrush | grilling, kababs, lemonade, watermelon and other summer time goods!

I started this project last year for a design challenge, but I ran out of time and, when the deadline passed, I tucked the sketch away in a file of unfinished projects. When the Spoonflower Summer Design Contest came up a few weeks ago, I decided to pull it out and finish it. Kababs on the grill with watermelon and lemonade are what summers are made of! Am I right? (Leave a comment with your favorite summer grilling fare!)

Patriotic Summer Time Free Printable from mamasbrush | grilling, kababs, lemonade, watermelon and other summer time goods!

I began by tracing the original sketch and transferring it to watercolor paper. Then I spent a couple nights playing with the color and finished it with the black pen.

When it was time to design the repeating pattern for the fabric design, I scanned it and took it into Photoshop where I cleaned up the background and moved things around a bit to make it work as a repeat.

Patriotic Summer Time Free Printable from mamasbrush | grilling, kababs, lemonade, watermelon and other summer time goods!

But this one… this one is the way I made it for you. Download it, print it off and put it in a frame. Hang it on your wall or set it on the counter and smile when you think of the soon coming life you have outdoors! πŸ™‚

Head to my printables page to download the Summer Time free printable! Let me know where you put it! πŸ™‚

But please remember the…
***Official legal stuff: The copyright on the art presented here remains my own. Please only use them personally in your home, office or classroom. But please don’t distribute them online or claim them as your own. If you want to share them on your own blog or social media platform, please be sure to give me credit and include a link back to my blog at: https://mamasbrush.wordpress.com/. These are my original work and I’d like to be able to continue sharing what I create with you all.

Pin it Button from mamasbrush
Patriotic Summer Time Free Printable from mamasbrush | grilling, kababs, lemonade, watermelon and other summer time goods!

Gathering here.

Summer Time Design for Fabric and Gift Wrap

Summer Time Fabric and Gift Wrap | BBQ Grill Outdoor Picnic Fun | mamasbrush

This week the theme at Spoonflower is Small Scale Summer . I came up with this basic design last year, but never took it beyond the sketch. When I saw the theme for this week, I immediately wanted to bring it back out. I transferred it to watercolor paper and got painting.

This would be great on fabric for a summer tote or purse or adorable on gift wrap for any of your summer parties! You can vote for your favorite design through May 7, 2019here.

I have a free printable of the original design coming up for you soon. Click follow in the sidebar so you won’t miss it! πŸ™‚

Pin it Button from mamasbrush
Summer Time Fabric and Gift Wrap | BBQ Grill Outdoor Picnic Fun | mamasbrush

Gathering here.

Simple Wine or Vinyard Theme Birthday Party or Event

Chalkboard art - Wine Theme Birthday Party for Daddy

We plan parties in our family. Events. Each of the children gets a detailed theme for their birthday each year and each year is special, though some are simpler than others. Even my mom and my sister get a full theme for their days. Daddy, however, rarely gets a full thematic party. Frankly, he doesn’t care, so often I let the busyness of the impending Women’s Retreat (check out our Cozy Mountain Lodge and Sweet Life Cafe Retreats) and two approaching kid birthdays take my energy away from him. This year, however, we had a Wine Theme Birthday for Daddy.

It was simple. Super simple! But the important thing was that the kids and I set aside some time to honor Daddy by making him a party.

I decorated the chalkboard. Note the spelling of “Whinery”. A detail not lost on Daddy, I assure you. We should probably rename our property from Claystone Family Farm to “Whiney Vinyards” or something. But I digress.

I served one of his favorite dinners and the kids drank juice out of stemmed glasses.

The touches were so simple and took very little extra time, but it was fun to dress up Daddy’s birthday a little.

Gathering here.