Thirty Before 30 in Ten Days

In the most predictable way, I woke up this morning and realized that I will turn 30 in 10 days. Never one to shy away from to-do lists, I came up with a 30 Before Thirty in Ten Days list. This is by no means a bucket list; this is more of a personal wishlist of 30 things that I would love to do, try, ponder, or accomplish in the next 10 days. Most of these activities I could do at any age, but with a significant birthday looming ahead, why not fill the last few days of my 20's with as much awesome as possible?

1. Visit the rose garden on Michigan State's campus
2. Call my grandpa
3. Try a local dessert or macaron shop. There are at least 2 in town that I've never tried
4. Visit a local art gallery

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5. Make homemade popsicles - I haven't done this since I was a child!
6. Read By the Shores of Silver Lake to my daughter. The Little House books were my favorites as a child, and now we're working our way through the series.
7. Make 2 more original paintings
8. Try a different coffee shop in town


9. Paint my nails. I usually do nothing with them - a leftover habit from playing the violin.
10. Email the local community orchestra about starting with them in the fall.
11. (Finally) make a lemon meringue pie. This has been on my "to-do" lists for years
12. Plant new flowers in the backyard (currently flowerless)

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13. Go to Fresh Thyme, the new grocery store in my neighborhood
14. Complete a Skillshare class* that I've signed up for but never started
15. Have dinner at a restaurant I've never tried before
16. Add a new print to my Society6 shop*

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17. Make a list of my favorite songs by year, since birth. I love making lists, and this is just one of those weird, personal things that I want to do.
18. Find a doctor. I am so naughty. I haven't been to the doctor since my 5.5 year old was born. I never found a doctor for myself after we moved back to Michigan, and now I know it's time.
19. Watch a movie everyone in the world has seen except for me. Top Gun; Footloose; Silence of the Lambs; Schindler's List; etc. These are all movies I've never seen, and I get a weird look when I say I've never seen one of them.
20. Learn (or try) a new painting skill or technique

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21. Finish the "Dunk and Egg" series of novellas by George R.R. Martin that I've been reading
22. Change the design of my art and travel blog
23. Have my favorite ice cream from the MSU Dairy Store
24. Update all of my social profiles and bios. There is a good chance they're a bit dated.
25. Make a list of 30 things I am thankful for; keep it handy for bad days


26. Wear a sleeveless dress in public. I rarely wear dresses or tank tops, so this a step out of my comfort zone.
27. Get my picture taken with the Sparty statue. As MSU alumni I have had my picture taken with Sparty the mascot, but not the beautiful statue on campus.
28. Get in touch with an old friend again
29. Re-organize my closet - start my next decade on the right foot
30. Make a list of 30 goals for the next 30 years

To tell you the truth, I am not nervous at all about turning 30; on the contrary, I am quite looking forward to it! Readers, if you've already turned 30, did you do anything special to celebrate it? Did it affect your view on life in anyway? What has been your favorite thing about turning 30?

DIY No-Spill Ink Well Tutorial


In 2012 I published the first issue of Snowed In magazine, a handmade guide to the holidays. One of the first tutorials accepted into the annual magazine was this DIY, no-spill ink well by artist Rachel Anne Jones. At the time, I had never done calligraphy or used a nib. After taking an online calligraphy class on Skillshare* and practicing calligraphy as a hobby, I now fully appreciate and understand the genius of Rachel's tutorial.


With wedding and shower season upon us I know a lot of people are addressing envelopes; just last week I sent out 50 hand-addressed envelopes for my sister's bridal shower. If you're terrified of dumping a whole jar of ink onto a pile of freshly-addressed envelopes, then I know you will appreciate what Rachel will teach you in this tutorial on page 77 of Snowed In Magazine 2012. You can also view the tutorial in the magazine widget below.



Three Things I Love This Thursday


These are three things I am loving this week...

1. These gorgeous watercolor flower graphics are from designer Pepper on Creative Market. I'm using them to create my sister's bridal shower invitations. I arranged the flowers in a wreath on PicMonkey.com, and I will add the text within the white oval. The bridal shower will have a lot of poppy elements in it, so I am so happy to have found these. Ready-made graphics make a bridesmaid's life a LOT easier.

2. I'm currently a student in Holly Becker of Blogging Your Way's Instagram Bootcamp. I am super late to the Instagram party, and honestly I was having a little trouble getting into the groove of it. I only posted two images in April, and three in May. This e-course is really helping me understand how to better connect with fellow Instagrammers; how to make my photo gallery more cohesive; and how to develop a unique point of view. Instagram is, as Holly says, "Every day life. But better." You can follow me on Instagram here, and if you do, leave your link in the comments below so I can check out your feed as well.

3. Finally, yesterday was National Hug Your Cat Day! Mostly this was an excuse for me to get some cute pictures of my cats; one of them hates to be held, and the other ended up making that face ^. I loved seeing everyone else's "hug your cat day" pictures - if you have one you want to share, leave a link to your Facebook page, blog, or Instagram so we can see!

How-To: Semi DIY Playscaping for the Backyard


This week I've been sharing the how-to's and sources for our backyard playscaping project. Did you miss any of them? Here's a recap:











This is still a work in progress, there are still some things I'd like to build, possibly for next summer. I would love to turn a long, wide tree branch into a balance beam; create a hut built of sticks for a hideout; or make a little table set with big and little logs. 

What do your kids like to do in their backyard? Do they have any favorite activities or playthings that are a must for your backyard?

How-To Playscaping: Elements of Interest

This post uses Amazon affiliate links to the items I purchased for these projects.

This is the final installment of the DIY Playscaping Series. On Monday I showed you how I built a wooden bridge play area with a faux stream and DIY rainbow stepping stones; on Tuesday I showed you my favorite feature: the imagination waterfall; and yesterday, I shared the kids' favorite balance log steppers. Today, its the little things that take the space from basic to engaging.

Added Elements

You don't need a lot of money to make an interesting backyard for children. I wanted to encourage exploration and wonder in our small, city-sized backyard. It's been about a year since we designed our space, and the results are good. We have a space that kids enjoy spending time in.

After the main features were built into the yard, we added a few little elements of interest that speak to children's imaginations.

First, meet Jasper, our little beetle friend:


Unique plants can also be of interest to children. Some of my favorites are Chicks and Hens:

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Emerald Green Thuja

Purple salvia flowers

For BIG impact, try giant sunflowers or one of my favorites, Giant Purple Allium.

For more colorful playscape ideas, follow my Outdoors Pinterest board:

Follow Ashley Pahl's board Outside on Pinterest.





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