Wednesday, August 4, 2021

The Nicholas Conservatory Outdoor Gardens In May

Last May, for Mother's Day weekend, we met our kids in Rockford, Illinois to celebrate the holiday.  It's a good half way point for both us, about a four hour drive.  I needed to pick a spot to have a picnic lunch so I googled all the parks and ended up finding the Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens.  It was absolutely perfect because it was only a five minute drive to our next attraction, which I will talk about next week!

This post will only be about the outdoor gardens because we never went inside the conservatory.  You have to pay to go inside the conservatory, but the outside grounds are free.  We would have gone to the conservatory, but we actually had tickets to another garden nearby (that's the attraction I will share next week!).

It was the perfect spot to pick because at the very end of the gardens they had picnic tables, so we were able to have our picnic lunch as planned.

The Nicholas Conservatory and Garden is located right along side the Rockford River Walk so we had a beautiful view of the river as we ate.  And we were so excited to see a family of geese not too far from our picnic table.

The little goslings were so cute!

Now, I'm sure you won't be as enthralled with these pictures as I was, but you have to remember it was May!  After a long winter, we Wisconsonites get really excited at seeing anything green, and any flowers at all our just icing on the cake.  I thought the outdoor gardens were absolutely beautiful!  I would love to go back and see the gardens in the summer.

Because it was so early in spring pansies were the stars of the garden.  I loved how they put this flowering shrub inside the urn and encircled the pansies around it.

This is the rose garden.  Of course none of the roses were in bloom when I was there, but I can only imagine how gorgeous it is now!

The grand kids had so much fun running on all the pathways.  I'm sure being cooped up inside a car for four hours probably helped.

They also loved all the waterfalls, especially Atticus!  Ashley was so worried he was gonna fall in because he kept leaning over so far.

In front of the conservatory is a very long pond called the "Eclipse Lagoon"  which had ducks and swans swimming in it.

I don't understand it, but the grandkids were enamored with this statue of a little girl sitting on a bench reading a book.  They were infatuated with it, and it was hard to pull them away.  Even my son Jordan got in on the action.

There were lots of beautiful, large koi in the lagoon in front of the conservatory.

Another cute little statue.  This one, the grand kids had no interest in. Go figure.

This is the view of the lagoon looking back the other way, as if you were standing in front of the conservatory.

In front of the conservatory were more beautiful water features.

Some of their perennials were in bloom, like this hardy geranium.

There is the cutest bridge right in front of the conservatory.  I just love how the railings look like branches.

Atticus thought it was pretty cool to run across.

I just loved all the water and water features surrounding the conservatory.  I think I counted four waterfalls, plus the pond, and the river!

Aren't these pansies gorgeous?

Yet another beautiful water feature.  Did I mention the outside gardens are FREE?  Seriously, if you're ever passing through Rockford you must stop here and stroll these grounds.

I think this was my favorite water feature on the grounds.  I love the stone background and how the water flows over flat sheets of metal.  The potted plants are such a nice added touch.  I also love the greenery growing along the edge, and of course the koi!

These beautiful red winged black birds were singing to us the entire time we were eating our picnic lunch.  I had no idea they had such a beautiful song.  I was lucky enough to capture one posing on a flowering crab.  They seemed to be very friendly birds.

Yet, another water feature. Ahh!

This is another state.  Pretty realistic too!

This boardwalk along the pond was pretty cool. The kids just loved all the pathways to explore. Of course Ashley was constantly worried they would fall into the water.

More gorgeous potted urns.  I love the gnarly shrub in this one.

These daisy iron sculptures are amazing! I'd love to have these in my own garden.  They would fit right in!

Sweet Alethea posing for me.

As we headed back to our car to go onto our next destination, I couldn't help but take one last picture of the rose garden.  That arbor is so pretty and makes such a nice back drop.

The swan even came out of the water for me to get a close up!

The Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens is open every day but Monday.  Ticket prices to the conservatory depend on your age and residency.  They range from $3.00 to $9.00.  The outside gardens are FREE!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Alethea & Atticus Birthday Celebrations: Cards, Tags, and Decor

My grandchildren were both born in the month of July, so when we get together with the kids over the summer, we celebrate both their birthdays at the same time.  Now the third grand baby will be a fall baby, so I don't know what my daughter will want to then.  

I bought the grand babies gifts my daughter told me to get.  Alethea already owned a light up mermaid, but the light up part of the doll stopped working so her mom told me to buy her another one.  I didn't buy the exact same mermaid, because I wanted her to have a different one.  Atticus, saw an animontronic dinosaur at another child's birthday party and really wanted one for himself, so I bought him a T-Rex.  We were really worried it might be too scary for him, but he ended up loving it!

I made handmade cards and tags for both the kids.  I matched the card to their gift.  For Alethea's card and tag, I googled "Barbie coloring book pages" and when I found some I liked, I printed them  onto sticker paper.  

I created the ocean waves with blue glitter paper.  I took a wave stencil drew it onto the paper and hand cut it out.  I did two waves.  One wave I glued right onto the paper, the top wave I popped up on dimensionals so I could slide the Barbie image in:  making it look like she is popping out of the water.

I colored the image exactly like the doll I bought her, then I used lots of glitter and glitter to make any little girl happy!  I popped Barbie up on the card with dimesnionals and hand wrote "Hi!" on the card.
The "Happy Birthday" sentiment was stamped on a separate piece of white card stock then the banner was cut with a MFT die.  I adhered it to the card with a floral brad.  I put the entire card base over a pink glitter card stock then adhered that to the card.

The tag was made with the same pink glitter card stock.  I cut it with my Cricut machine.  The image was colored in with markers, then I used a Spellbinder's Nestabilities to create a nice rectangle.

I used a corner rounder to round the edges of the main image panel and then I stamped a sentiment.

For Atticus' card I used a dinosaur Circuit Cartridge.  The Dinosaur part was already on the cartridge, I just cut it out in green paper.  Then I cut out the palm tree and the number "2" with different colored card stock.

The tag was also on the cartridge, I simply cut out the dinosaur part in green paper and I used white card stock for the tag portion.

I glued the palm tree to the card and I tied the number "2" with a piece of twine.  The sentiment is a three dimensional sticker from my stash.

For the tag, all I had to do was glue the two pieces together.

Now onto the party decor.  The party was just our small nuclear family so I didn't want to make too much of a fuss with decor, but I wanted to do something to make it a little extra special for the grandkids.  I also wanted a theme that was good for both genders too.  I ended up finding the cutest "Farmhouse Birthday Decor" at Hobby Lobby.  It ended up being perfect because the room we had the party in is already decorated in the modern farmhouse style.

I threw a vinyl green gingham table cloth diagonally across the table as an accent.  Then I used red paper plates and napkins.  We normally always eat with real china, but it didn't match the decor, so I settled on paper plates.


On the table sat the cutest card board cow/pig/rooster figurines and on each chair I tied an animal image.
I also hung animal images from the fan/chandelier.

On the dining hutch I hung the "Happy Birthday" sign, and more animal cutouts.

And here are some pictures from the party.  If am in none of them because I was both the photographer and videographer, so if you're looking for me, you won't find me.  😀. But if you watch the videos at the end of the post, you will definitely hear my voice.  I really need to be more diligent about handing the camera over to someone else so I get in the pictures too.  Someday these kids will be looking at these pictures and may think I wasn't even there.

In the picture below the kids are opening up their joint treat box.  I gave them a box of edible goodies, and I swear they were more excited about the yogurt covered pretzels than the actual toys I bought them! 

Ashley and Jason bought Atticus a drum set.  He just loved it!  Of course my son Jordan, who is a percussionist, wanted to try it out for himself (see the second picture below), but Atticus got jealous about his uncle playing with his toy and pushed him away.

Their Uncle Jordan bought them bubble guns.  Instead of squirting water, they squirt out massive amounts of bubbles! These were the cutest things ever!  The kids had so much fun playing on the porch with these!

Alethea's mom gave her a case load of gel crayons and it made me jealous!  These crayons are amazing!  I will have to order my own.  She got them from Amazon.  

Alethea also received a Lego set from her Uncle Jordan.

Here Atticus is just about to rip open his dinosaur gift from us.  You must watch the video below if you have time.  His reaction to the animontronic dinsosaur is priceless!

Uncle Jordan also gave Atticus a fun book to read.

Here is Alethea opening up her gift from me and my husband.  I love how she takes the time to "read" the card.  She knows I make them for her and that they are very special.  Every time I give her a hand made card she displays it on her dresser.  She is so appreciative.

The kids had two birthday parties before they even got to my house, so I thought they were already "caked out" and I decided to have a Banana Cream Pie for dessert instead of a cake.  

Atticus LOVES bananas so he sure loved Banana Cream Pie!

It was such a fun birthday party!  It is such a joy to be able to bless ones grandchildren with gifts that make them happy.  

And if you care to see more than just photos, I've included two cute videos of each grandchild opening up their gifts from my husband and I.


Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!