Our Fairy Garden Obsession

It all started in Frankenmuth.

No, I’m not talking about the extra five pounds I packed on while snarfing down delicious salt-water taffy. I’m talking about my daughter’s fairy garden obsession.

In Frankenmuth, Michigan, right underneath the clock tower, there lies the most adorable fairy garden I’ve ever seen. My daughter laid eyes on it an immediately became enchanted.

And how could one not? Lined throughout the perfectly manicured flower bed is a village of fairy houses, miniature furniture, minuscule playgrounds and habits fit for the wee.

Just a glimpse of the fairy village in Frankenmuth

Ever since she gazed upon that fairy village, my daughter has wanted to create a fairy garden of her own. And since I’m a sucker for all things miniature, I joined in on her obsession.

My daughter found a spot perfect in our backyard for the fairies to live, tucked away under a bush by the corner of the house that is secluded enough to avoid being trampled on by deer, but still accessible for her to keep an eye out for mystical creatures.

I spent hours and hours on Pinterest and the Internet, scouring over pages of existing gardens to get some ideas for us to create our own fairy habitat.

Then, the task of actually acquiring all the fairy equipment began.

Sure, I could have bought a shit ton of crafting supplies and wielded our own cottage out of rocks, sticks, glue and fake moss, but let’s face it, I ain’t that crafty. I have yet to use a hot glue gun and not walk away with my fingers so blistered from burns that I can’t type for a week.

So, instead of hand crafting a house, we found a great little store near our home that sells all types of fairy cottages, along with every imaginable type of fairy furniture you could hope for.

And that’s when I discovered, to the detriment of my wallet and the ceiling of my crafting abilities, how addictive this hobby could be. It’s like Pringles. Once you start, you can’t stop.

First, we decided on an abode – a cute little farmhouse with windows. Windows that light up at night, for added effect, because we couldn’t resist the solar one. C’mon. It LIGHTS. UP.

Our fairy cottage during the day

Our fairy cottage at night

But then my daughter felt like we needed a welcome sign.

Then an outhouse.

Then a table.

And of course, chairs.

Then a bridge.

And a stream.

Then a tire swing.

Then a walkway.

Then a fence.

Then a more fancy fence.

While it would have been easy to blow my daughter’s college savings on a plethora of pixie paraphernalia, we decided on only a handful of items to get us started and bought the cheapest things in the store we could find.

The car had barely come to a halt in our garage from the garden center before my daughter was out and racing towards the backyard, ready to break ground. I have to say, I’m not sure who had more fun placing our fairy things in the garden, my daughter or me.

When my son came home and my daughter dragged him to the backyard to look at our creation, I thought he would take one look at it, shrug, and, in his best 8 year-old boy way, mutter “Meh,” and walk away.

But he didn’t.

Instead, he came up with other ideas to make the fairy garden more inhabitable. The property needed a fire pit. And a flagpole. And a tire swing. And more walkways. And a driveway. And a tool shed.

So, we gathered some stones, some twine, a LEGO tire, and our imagination and literally went to town.  Fairy town.  Seeing my two kids spend hours scavenging for objects to enhance the fairy garden made the $30 bucks I shelled out at the garden center worth it.

The same day, a dead tree was pulled from our front yard, and mere minutes before the landscaping company hauled it away, the kids and I picked it clean like a Thanksgiving turkey, snapping a barrel full of dead twigs and branches to use for future projects.

Five days later, and the kids are still enchanted by our fairy garden. They’re proud of it and show it off to anyone who will give my children the time.  My daughter checks on it morning and night, making sure it’s still intact and thriving. And we brainstorm every day about what other projects we’d like to add to the garden. Next up? A mailbox.

Our fairy garden is still a work in progress, and the kids and I are having fun learning by trial and error.  If you’re interested in starting your own fairy garden, here are some things I found helpful.

First, the obvious. There are hoards of boards on Pinterest to follow. If you’d like to see my Pinterest board on Fairy Gardens, which I’m still adding to, you can find here:  Have a fairy board on Pinterest of your own? Go ahead and share the link with me in the comments and I’ll follow along!

And here are some gardens that got my creative juices flowing:

The Magic Onion

Flea Market Gardening

Creative Inspirations

The Fairy Garden

If you’re a MacGuyver or DIY’er and want to make your own fairy houses and accessories, here are a couple of pages to visit:

Use Twigs to Make Rustic Furniture for Fairy Gardens

Twig Chair Tutorial

Miniature Accessories

Household Items For Fairy Gardens

Make a Fairy Garden

But if you’re like me and you want to just straight up by your fairy stuff, I’d recommend either visiting your local garden center (the Mom and Pop stores are a better bet than the Big Box stores), Etsy sites, or heading online. Here are a few places to start:

Miniature Gardens


Fly By Night Fairy Gardens 

Fairy Woodland

Do you have your own fairy garden you want to share? I’ve love to hear all about it! Also, you can enter your fairy garden in The Magic Onion’s Fairy Garden Contest until August 1st by clicking HERE.


Why I Let My 8 Year Old Have an Email Account

My son had been pestering me for weeks.

“How old do I have to be to get email?” “When can I get an email account?” “Can I get an email account now?” “How about now? Am I old enough now?”

Every time he would ask for an email account, I would ask the same questions.

“Why do you want an email account?” “Who is so important to an 8 year-old to email?”

Why I Let My 8 Year Old Have Email

His logic wasn’t rational.  Like wanting to be able to email me to let me know where he was.  While in our house.  Or “texting” us from the bathroom while we’re in a store so that we know he’s okay.

Because knowing someone’s taking a dump is high on my priority list of information needs.

My son had recently been bequeathed my husband’s ancient iPod touch, which was nothing more than a glorified Minecraft machine. It has no 3G or 4G network, and the only access to anything cool is by the WiFi network in our home. In order for him to email us, he’d have to be in our house with us.  Which doesn’t make email the most efficient method of communication when he can’t find his baseball mitt.

After many, many, many requests, and some decent proposals and reasons why, my son’s questioning broke me down and I agreed to let him have an email account.  The persuasive arguments that won me over were the ones that appealed to my soft side. He wanted to be able to keep in touch with his cousin, his aunts and uncles, and his grandparents.

Having our family spread out all over the country, how can I say no to that?

I didn’t embark on this lightly.  My husband and I set down some very strict guidelines. I had to have access to his password.  I was going to monitor all of the emails coming in and going out from his email address. He wouldn’t be allowed to click on any link he received without asking. And he wasn’t allowed to email anyone that wasn’t in our family without asking permission.

Once the rules were put in place and agreed upon, we registered his email address and got it set up on his iPod and my retired laptop.

And then the emailing began.

At first, he just emailed me and my husband. They were simple one word emails, like “hi!” and “awesome!” and grew to short sentences like “i love you!”

But once he really got the hang of things, his emails became an extension of himself.

I began to see his humor.  To see his wickedly fast wit, getting all the jokes we’d reply with and volleying equally funny ones back to us. To see his knowledge of when it’s most effective to use ALL CAPS.

And then he started taking photos of all of us and sending them to our inbox.

Quick little snapshots that I thought he was taking for the fun of hearing the shutter. But he quickly became adept at tweaking those head shots in whatever app he could find on his phone.

The day he sent me this photo from his iPod was the day that I fully embraced him having an email address:

8 year old email

That’s me. Smiling at him. And my son adding his own artistic flair to what would otherwise be a pretty boring photo. He could have typed “Gina” or “Mommy” or “Loser.” But he chose “She…” And I love it.

Pictures like this give me added insight in to what’s going on in that small but mighty brain my son has. It sheds a little light on how he sees me. And that is always more warm and pleasant than how I see myself.

Months later, the novelty has worn off a little, and the volume of emails being sent and received has trickled off a bit, but my son still enjoys telling folks he has his own email account.

More importantly, he loves being able keep in touch with family on his own.  Grandparents are sending him short emails about things they think are interesting. His cousin sends book recommendations that she thinks he should read, like their own private book club. My son gets to establish his own relationship with family independent of his parents, and he loves how that makes him feel.

I know there will come a day where we will have to more closely worry about what he’s using his email address for. But for the time being, I’m just going to enjoy getting pinged by my son, telling me that he thinks I’m awesome.

Hanging up my blogging stocking

T’is the season.  For parties, family gatherings and good tidings.  For joy, good will, and hot chocolate.  For panicked shopping, cookie-induced bloating, and lame elf-rearranging.

And all of it makes me sweaty with stress.

Tack the task of helping out a former employee part-time on to this month, and I’m feeling over-scheduled and under-motivated.

The solution, I think, is to take a break.

From blogging.

blogging hiatus

Not that it’s why I started writing, but I’ve been at this blog over for two years now, and it appears to be going nowhere.

Sure, I’ve had a few things published here and there that I’m proud of.  But I’m not one of those famously popular bloggers who wrote a post that went viral overnight, received a shit-ton of followers, and the rest just fell in to place.

It’s easy to compare my small number of followers and readers to others success and think, “What’s the freaking point?

My blogging feels like jogging on a treadmill at a crowded gym, where everyone else is running with a smile on their face and logging in miles, while I’m sweating profusely and getting my shoelaces stuck in the track belt.  Dammit if it doesn’t smell like my dance career all over again.  The same insecurity and self-doubt and self-loathing I had to battle with myself as a dancer surfaced again while writing.

I started blogging because I wanted to write and I wanted a creative outlet.   But somehow it morphed in to this thing that doesn’t feel about the writing at all.  It became about the marketing and the tweeting and the pinning and the hand shaking and the “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine”.   All of that took a lot of time, exponentially more time, than the writing.

And because I’m so I’m horrible at all of that self-marketing and networking, it’s put a damper on the whole blogging process.

I’ve lost my passion for writing, and instead, have been approaching it half-assed.  It feels more like a chore than a joy.  I’m plagued by a writer’s block of momentous proportions.  I’m tired of feeling like I’m doing a mediocre job.

I need to step away for a bit and reevaluate why I write, who I write for, and what I want to write about, because I veered off path somewhere.

And I need some time away from my computer.  Time to readjust my posture from that slouched one I’ve adopted while stooped over my laptop.  Time to snuggle on the couch, warmed by a blanket and my husband instead of the heat of my MacBook Pro.  Time to work on myself – to work out, take a class or two, find a hobby, catch up on projects, find what fuels me.

I want to feel inspired, motivated and creative again.

So, I’m taking a step back and taking time off to refocus.  How much time?  Until I  can come back to writing and hitting “Publish” with the confidence that I will not measure my self-worth in shares, likes, comments, pageviews or retweets.

I’m not sure when that will be.  Maybe in a couple of weeks.  Maybe longer.  But I’m definitely giving myself a hiatus for the holidays.  I’ll still be present and accounted for on , , and , and if I find some rockin’ kids music you simply must hear, I’ll post it.

But for now, I’m hanging up my blogging stocking for Santa to fill.

Who knows, maybe I’ll get a box of inspiration, wrapped in hilarity with a pretty bow made out of sheer genius.

Or maybe I’ll just get coal.

I hope you’ll find your way back here when I do, and have a very happy holiday season!

Drawing 101

I have a little artist on my hands, and I love it.

From a very early age, my daughter couldn’t help but express herself artistically.  Sometimes it was through drama, quite often through dance, many times through singing.  She hasn’t censored herself yet, and I’m cherishing every display of creativity she’s willing to show me.

But it’s her drawing that I love the best.

Give that 4 year-old a pen and a piece of paper and she’s one content artiste.

drawing 101

We spent an insane amount of time in the car last year, shuffling back and forth to school.  While her brother could occupy himself by reading in the car, unable to read yet, my daughter was bored and tired of looking out the window every day at the same scenic view.

So I bought her a small notebook and three fancy-colored pens, put them in a special bag, and stowed it in the side of her car seat.

It was the best thing I did for our commute.  There aren’t many moments where I feel I have won at parenting, but that idea came pretty close.

She’d doodle for the entire trip.  Sometimes the sheet of paper would be filled with fake writing and scribbles.  Pre-shapes.  Sort-of circles and squiggly lines.

And then, she learned how to write her name.

Suddenly the notebook was full of her first name on every square inch.  Most of the time it was linear, but every now and then she’d have two letters here, four letters over there, some random letters that weren’t even in her name spread out in the center of the page.

It was visual proof that her brain had just unlocked some new secret.

Once she got her name down, she began to draw faces.  Big, round faces with giant eyes, incredibly long limbs, bulbous hands and feet, looking nothing like humans but adorable all the same.

Now, she’s drawing whole landscapes.  Pointy mountains with green grass strewn along the bottom of the page, a canopy of blue sky at the top, trees and people with hair and clothes holding flowers.  Every single one of the people she draws are smiling.  Because that’s how she sees the world around her.  Bucolic and innocent and happy.

Drawing, or “coloring” as she calls it, is her favorite pastime and something we’d do together pretty regularly.  It was a great excuse to slow things down, fill up the hour before bedtime, and get a glimpse in to that brain of hers.  Working next to each other, she’d give me ideas of things to draw, illustrate her own page, and them sometimes reach over and help me finish my own drawing.

But lately, I have shied away from doing this activity with her because I don’t have use of my dominant hand.  This excuse did not go over well with her.  “You can still color” she said.  “Use your other hand” she pleaded.

So, I did.

Last weekend, I poured myself in to a drawing with her.  It took me almost an hour. I’m pretty sure I stuck my tongue out in serious concentration, too.

I painfully slaved away at my playground scene with washable Crayola markers, trying to find nuance in flower petals, striving to find the right aspect ratio, proportion, shade, color and shadow.

Behold, my masterpiece.

Wait.  You MAY want to get some sunglasses, because this shit is brilliant.  I’ll wait until you get them.



Are you back?  Okay, here it is.


So, yeah.  I think I may need a few more lessons from my 4 year-old.


Have you followed me on or become a fan on ?  No?  Well, then, what are ya waiting for?

Creative minds…

Imagine the scene, if you will:

Both kids have gotten up way too early for the day.  We’ve rejected eaten breakfast, colored, made pillow forts, and everything else we can think of, yet it’s still only 7:30am.  I’m at my wits end and need a break from the screaming/fighting/whining. 

My solution?  We all climb in to Mr. B’s bed (clearly the best bed in the house, with it’s cozy and warm chamois sheets, and the still-firm mattress occupied by my lightweight son) and play a game of Moles.  Digging down in to the heavy comforter and pretending to sleep, it’s as close as I get to quiet Nirvana some days.

A friend of mine, the mother of two energetic boys, told me that when she needs them to be quiet, she suggests that they all pretend to be girls – sitting and reading books, brushing hair, etc.  That, my friends, is pure brilliance!

What’s your pseudo-break tactic?