Road Trips & Travel
The last few weeks have been deliciously random and so productive for us! I think we should bounce around from room to room all the time like this… at least until we dive into a big renovation that demands all of our attention. So far this week we’ve painted raindrops & a pink door in Clara’s room, had some fun with Shannon’s design dilemma, finally finished our big sunroom floor project, and we’re actually starting to work on something in the kitchen for Monday (ahhh! that room needs more help than I did in Calculus class).
And this week’s little crafty project didn’t bomb, which is a huge relief because there were definitely a few moments of doubt. I decided to tackle something I’ve been meaning to do for, oh, about two years: displaying our vacation keepsakes in a charming and easy-to-see way. So here’s where I ended up…
It’s sort of like a vacation-memory-jar-meets-snowglobe-or-cloche, and it was actually really easy and only ran me $2.79 to make each one.
But let’s grab a ride in the Delorean and go back in time for a second. Once upon a time (back in 2008) I made six vacation time capsules here… but I haven’t been displaying them for the last few years because I just don’t love them anymore. Which is sad because I love the keepsakes – I just didn’t like the containers as much anymore.
I certainly think canning jars are crazy charming (and they’re probably more “in” now than ever) but I didn’t like that when you looked down at them on surfaces like console tables or desks or dressers, almost all that you saw was the lid instead of whatever was inside (see above).
And I also didn’t love that when you lowered your gaze to stare at them head-on (or placed them in high places like up on a bookcase) the glass was wavy, so it blurred the items inside. Here’s a comparison of how the canning jars obscured the contents compared to a regular stemless wine glass. See how much clearer the objects in the glass on the right are?
I also thought the scotch tape labels that I had added so many years ago were hard to read, especially depending on what’s behind it (you can see one in the picture above). So I wanted to come up with a way to accomplish three things:
- more clearly label the contents of each jar
- display our keepsakes behind non-wavy glass
- make them visible from above and the side instead of just from the side if at all possible
At first it felt like a tall order, but I was inspired after coming across this project, which made me realize that there might be a way to use inexpensive stemless wine glasses or vases from the craft store along with little slices of wood and some type of adhesive or caulk to connect them. It definitely could have bombed (uh… sand everywhere) but I had a few lucky breaks along the way.
For one, I couldn’t find any tree branches of the right thickness to slice in our yard or at a local firewood spot (they were all triangular or too narrow, and free of bark) and I couldn’t even locate any pre-made wood slices in the craft store (other than some too-large birch ones for $15 a pop online). But when I walked around JoAnn I did notice these little 4 x 4″ round wood plaques for 79 cents each (in their wooden box/birdhouse/plaque area). They also sold stemless wine glasses (in their party/glassware area) for $1.99.
It was nice to find both potential items at the same store because I could flip the glass over on top of the wood plaque to see how they’d work together. It kind of felt like a miracle when they lined up so well.
So as soon as I got home, I jumped right into painting the wood plaques. I debated everything from a bold color to white or charcoal or even a whitewash or a stain, but in the end I liked the idea of a timeless neutral taupe-y color the best so the items in each jar could be the focus – and I already had leftover Revere Pewter from the bathroom project upstairs. Two coats did the trick without any bleed-through from the wood (which is nice because I didn’t use primer, so it was sort of a gamble).
After they dried I used a sharpie to write each of the places we’d been on the side of each one, along with the year that we traveled there. It’s so much clearer and easier to read than tape on a wavy glass jar!
Next I decided that clear silicone caulk would be a good way to seal the glass to the wood. Here’s why: some types of adhesives/glues are thinner/runnier and I worried the seal wouldn’t be as tight as it would with a more thick/dense line of something to stick them together. The other reason that I went with clear caulk is that it can easily be sliced with an exacto knife and peeled back to free up the contents of these jars. So I don’t have to Hulk-smash them like an old school piggy bank to access things (which definitely could have been the case with crazy glue). Instead, I can just score and peel the silicone caulk to open these up again whenever I’d like. But in the meantime they’ll be nice and secure – even with things like sand floating around inside.
I just ran a thin line of it around the top of the glass like this (I used GE Premium Waterproof Silicone II Caulk in the clear color). Tip: try not to make the opening in your caulk tube too wide or caulk will pour out a lot faster/thicker and you’ll end up with a drippy ol’ mess (this is universally true for practically every caulking project, so it’s a good skill to master).
Update: I’m a paranoid prego, so I wore a ventilator and worked the caulk gun like Darth Vader (since caulk can get fumey sometimes), but I later learned that this type of caulk is on the green list. Hurrah!
After getting a thin ring of caulk around the top of the glass, I pressed the wood round onto the cup while it was still in the upright position (didn’t want things to spill all over the floor, which I was certain would happen if I flipped it over before joining it to the wooden plaque).
Once they were joined, I could easily turn it over without anything spilling. So I placed it on the table and made sure the glass dome was centered. Then I pressed the glass down with one hand (to keep it centered, since it can slide around a little before things start to set) and used the other hand to wipe the edge down with a paper towel to remove any extra caulk that was oozing out.
It only took them three hours to dry, and they were sealed up and pretty dang seamless looking. Here’s the sand, all nice and contained (you can sort of make out the clear shiny line around the base, which is the caulk doing its job). I shook that thing like a snow globe and there wasn’t a sand explosion or anything. So glad.
Right now they’re chilling on various surfaces in the office and living room, but my dream is for them to eventually end up all together in our bedroom (we’d love to add a wall of built-in cabinetry in there to make our bed feel like it’s tucked into a nook – and I can just picture them all lined up on one of the shelves). Sigh. Can’t you see it?
I’d love to keep making more over time as we travel to new places, so the paranoid collector in me is tempted to buy at least ten more wood plaques and glasses just to keep around for future vacations so they all match. Is that crazy? What do you think?
Is anyone else out there displaying vacation keepsakes? How do you do it? In shadow boxes? Scrapbooks? With framed photos? I read somewhere once that “experiential purchases” bring you the most happiness. So instead of buying a new car, if you spend money on an amazing vacation, the effects can last longer and you won’t take the purchase for granted like you might if you upgraded something that you’d use everyday and would soon become accustomed to (I found an article here about it, although I’m not sure this is the same one). Certainly makes me want to make the most of our little vacations and memorialize them when we’re back home – even though they’re usually just road trips as opposed to exotic foreign locales. Maybe someday I’ll have a vacation jar for Morocco or Australia. A girl can dream…
For those who requested more info about our recent family vacation, here it goes (and you can check out all of our past road trip and vacation posts here). We decided to take our week-long summer vacation in Destin, Florida this year. Since my family wasn’t doing a beach week like usual, and we were already going to be in Atlanta for the Haven conference, it felt like a no brainer to accept the Bowers’ invite to join them for week on the Florida panhandle.
Katie Bower’s husband Jeremy did the hard work of finding a house to rent for the week (finger snaps for him, everybody). Since their extended family rents frequently in the area and finding vacancies can sometimes be tough, they like to keep it as their little family secret – but for anyone looking for a place, we were near Miramar Beach and you can use sites like VRBO.com to hunt something down and read reviews. Our place wasn’t beach-front but we could easily walk to the beach, which was more cost effective than splurging for a beach-front one – plus it even had a little pool. Suffice it to say it was exactly what our rag tag group of four adults, three children, and a chihuahua needed. And how fun are these bunk beds?
If anything, we were most impressed with the outside. There were these great arbors with vines all around them and a nice little courtyard patio to insulate us from the road and the bike path on the other side.
Right beyond the courtyard was a little pool that ended up being our second home, only to the ocean. It wasn’t big enough for hosting swim meets or anything, but it was plenty of room for a few kids, a few adults, and the occasional doll.
In fact, it doubled as a synchronized swimming practice on one particularly odd afternoon (I think the sun was starting to get to us by this point). #claralovedit
But mostly the pool served as a nice place for Clara to practice her kicks and slowly get braver about putting her head under the water. Or at least under the daddy bridge.
But enough about the pool. Let’s talk about the real star of this vacation. THE BEACH.
We’ve vacationed on Florida’s Gulf Coast before, but I don’t remember sand this white or water this clear. And forget clear, the best part about the water was how warm and calm it was. Something I especially appreciate because it meant Clara embraced the ocean more than she ever has before.
The water was so calm after the first few days that we took it as a sign that we should rent stand-up paddleboards (from a place on the beach called La Dolce Vida). We got two (one for each family) and once we got the hang of it ourselves, we took the kids for a bit of a spin too.
The paddleboards were pretty easy to use (thanks calm water!) but I think everyone but Jeremy managed to fall off at some point. I missed catching Katie’s spill on camera by a split second (that’s her in the background of this shot). She’s probably happy about that.
We did realize it was easier to ride the kids around when we adults were either sitting or kneeling. Our balance was much better that way, plus the kids seemed to feel better being closer to us. Heck, Katie even took both of them out at one point.
As fun as the paddleboards were, most of our beach time was spent just playing in the water or building sand castles. But usually around lunch time we’d get the kids fed and then try to squeeze in another activity before their nap times, like going for a spin on the bikes that were provided by our rental house (the trailer carrying Will and Weston is theirs, though).
Clara rode with me on her iBert, which I always love. Our game of choice this time around was guessing what color the collars of dogs that we spotted up ahead on the path would be.
But perhaps the cutest biking couple of the trip goes to these lovebirds. Get a room, ladies.
Speaking of a cute pair, Clara and Will had a great time together. I’m not gonna lie and say it was all pinwheels and skipping (they’re both three, and sharing is not necessarily a mastered skill yet) but it certainly was fun to have another kid on the trip to play with. Though I should say kids, since Clara was pretty enamored with Weston too. And Sherry and I appreciated having other parents there to back us up or at least help us smile through a tantrum.
We did brave eating out a few times (it is vacation after all) and between the recommendations from you guys and the Bowers, there were great eats to be had. My favorite meal was probably at The Red Bar (not shown because the picture came out, well, too red) but Sherry declared her extra spicy shrimp at Stinky’s Fish Camp (bottom left) her favorite.
I also really liked the coconut shrimp lunch I got at Pompano Joe’s one day during a bike ride. It was right on the beach and it kinda made me wish more buildings could get away with a color scheme like this.
A few of you reported having bad weather in Destin the week before we arrived, which made us nervous. But aside from some quick evening thunderstorms we only got one dreary afternoon, which gave us a good excuse to try out some non beach fun – like outlet shopping (for the girls) and go-kart rides (for the dads and big kids). How we didn’t end up with the #7 car I’ll never know.
Like any vacation, the last day came all too quickly. We realized there were all sorts of things we hadn’t gotten to do – like going sea kayaking, hit up thrift shops, and taking some family pictures on the beach. But by some miracle we managed to make all of that happen in the final day. Sherry shared their thrifting adventures yesterday, but sadly there aren’t any photos of Jeremy and I braving the (suddenly quite choppy) seas in our kayaks. But I did get some of Katie doing her pro photographer thing though.
It was just about the perfect evening to end our trip.
It was almost cruel how much it made us not want to leave.
But alas, all good things come to an end. So the next morning we packed up and headed back to Atlanta for a quick overnight at the Bowers before completing the other half of the 14 hour trip the next day. Clara, thank goodness, is actually quite the road trip warrior – thanks mostly to the fact that we’ve done long drives with her since she was four weeks old (our current tips for long rides with a three year old are: lots of books, lots of toys, lots of snacks, and a few iPad games when you get desperate). Somewhere around hour 11 we all started to get a little stir crazy, but we made it home.
So a big thanks again to the Bowers for the invitation and for making it such a fun and memorable trip. After 12 days away from home (thanks to the conference beforehand) we were pretty excited to sleep in our own beds again… and to hit the ground running when it came to projects (dude, we’re demoing something today!).
As a little Friday bonus, here are four fun projects, chats, or questions going on over on the Forums. We also announced this week’s giveaway winners, so you can click here (and scroll down to the Rafflecopter box) to see if it’s you.
|by Hello||by michelelouise||by DesertDomicile