Thursday, September 29, 2011

Victory Junction Camp

I had the pleasure of touring the Victory Junction Camp in Randleman, North Carolina yesterday.  What an incredible place it is.  It’s part of the Hole in the Wall Camps started by the late actor and race car driver Paul Newman.

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Seriously ill children can come to these camps at no cost to them or their families and spend time with other children just like them and have a carefree week of FUN.

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Victory Junction opened it’s doors in 2004 and was started by Kyle and Pattie Petty in honor of their son Adam Petty who was killed when preparing for a NASCAR race. Adam’s name and smiling face can be seen throughout the camp.   If you are a NASCAR fan you know that the Petty family is racing royalty.  Their work and dedication to Victory Junction and the children who camp here is extraordinary.  Other drivers, team owners, team sponsors, and NASCAR itself have given substantial donations to the camp.

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The camp has it’s own water park which I am sure is one of the highlights for the kids in the summertime.  All the water in the various pools and in the Lazy River are temperature controlled to be a consistent temperature in all the different pool areas for the health, safety, and comfort of the children.

The Victory Junction Camp is a year round camping facility that serves children from ages 6 to 16, with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses.  Their busiest times are in the summer when they offer disease-specific sessions with up to 128 children per session.  On the weekends in the fall, winter, and spring they offer family weekends and can serve up to 32 families per weekend. 

We got to walk around the entire camp with a tour guide and got to see all of the the facilities and go inside them all to take a peek and of course take pictures.

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The camp has it’s own bowling alley complete with the equipment needed to help assist kids in wheelchairs.  It had it’s own putt putt golf range too.

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Here is a shot of the Art's and Crafts building sitting right next to their very own movie/stage theater.

   Victory Junction Gang Camp Tour 008  The camp has a “Racing” theme and here are some of the wood cars the kids can paint in the Arts and Crafts building.

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I especially enjoyed seeing where the campers stayed while attending camp.  The cabins or sleeping quarters  were in brightly colored buildings and each of the buildings had a name on it for each of the major NASCAR race tracks.    The one above was named for Phoenix and the one below was named for Bristol.  The entire camp was immaculate!  Clean and well maintained.  We saw several workers maintaining the buildings including a couple of buildings that were being power washed. 

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Once inside one of the camper’s dormitory, I saw a small sitting room and then behind that there were two large rooms with beds.  On one side were the beds for the campers and on the other side there was an identical  room for all the camp counselors.  Remarkably, the camper to counselor ratio is very low.  Often times it’s one camper to one counselor depending on the needs of that particular child. The campers and counselors are all housed under the same roof.

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I love how the night stands between each bed look like gas pumps.  And at the foot of each bed is a metal tool box to serve as a trunk for each camper’s things.  Also, at the foot of each bed is a hand made knitted or crocheted blanket.  At the top of the bed on each pillow is a hand made bear.  The kids get to take home the blanket and the bear as a souvenir of their time spent at the camp.  Volunteer opportunities exist for sewers who might want to make and donate the bears.  You  click here to go to the Victory Junction Website  for more information on which pattern to use and they like for the bears to be made with a black and white check fabric. 

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Here is the indoor baseball diamond.

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And here is the riding stable with horses and some other animals.  We saw some sheep when  we were there and usually they have llamas but they were not there the day of our tour. I was sad I missed them because I was told the llamas at Victory Junction have personality plus. :)Victory Junction Gang Camp Tour 085

The stables were so neat and clean!  And friendly horses too.

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Here is one of the horses inside the barn in a horse stall.

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And here is the outdoor amphitheater.  Everything is designed to be so….cheerful!

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This is where the campers in the audience can watch the show.    Right behind that purple and yellow building is a tree stand for the zip line.   I’ll bet the older kids love that.

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There were sweet sculptures throughout the camp like this one.

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The camp has it’s own marina and it’s called the Catch, Kiss, and Release Marina.  They encourage all the kids to catch at least one fish during the week they are there, kiss it, and then release it.  Such a cute memory maker

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We peeked in window in one of the boat houses and saw racks of kid sized life jackets.  Cute.

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The camp even has it’s own fully equipped medical center available 24 hours a day.  I love how they named it the Body Shop.

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And here is where the campers eat their meals. 

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Here is cute snack shop that even has a Krispy Kreme Neon Hot Now sign in it.  And next to it is the Fab shop which is the beauty/shop barber shop


There is one building on site that looks like a giant race car and when you get inside it looks like the garage where real race cars get built and serviced.

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  This car is a real sized car that the kids can sit in and there is a simulator inside so they can really get a taste of what it’s like to drive a real race car.

What an amazing and heartwarming place Victory Junction is.  Thanks to Triad Moms on Main for organizing the tour of this wonderful place.  I had no idea how special it was and I am happy to do what I can to bring attention and support to such a wonderful organization.  If you would like more information on Victory Junction, just click for a tour of their website.

Plans are underway to build a second camp in Kansas City, Kansas so that children in the Midwest can benefit from a life-changing camping experience too.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kale Chips

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Have you tried Kale Chips yet?  I’ve see them a lot lately on the web.  And since I am always happy to l try out a new and healthy snack food, I decided it was time to give them a try.  I found an easy recipe to follow over at Kath Eats Real Food and I picked up a bunch of organic Kale from the supermarket.

This was easy to make.  I lined a baking sheet with foil and preheated the oven to 375 degrees.  I washed the kale and tore it into small bite sized pieces and then dried it all really well with paper towels.  You want your kale to crisp up in the oven not steam.  So make sure you get it nice and dry before you put it in the oven.

I drizzled about 1 Tbsp. of olive oil over the kale and mixed them all together really well so that there was olive oil on most of the pieces.  I then sprinkled kosher salt over the kale and slipped it into the oven and set the timer for 7 minutes.  At seven minutes I checked on the kale and it was just starting to crisp.  I rotated the pan so it would all cook evenly.  Then about 3 minutes later I checked on it again and it was done.  You can tell when you can see the edges of the kale start to brown and it makes a scratchy sound when you shake the pan.  Out of the oven to cool and ready to serve.  Easy. 

The two biggest things to be careful of is to NOT over cook it.  It can burn easily if you don’t watch it.  And be careful not to over salt.  A little goes a long way.    Some recipes even add shredded Parmesan Cheese which I didn’t do but I think might be nice to try next time. 

Did I like the Kale Chips?  Surprisingly, yes I did.  And even more surprising was that my husband did too.  Give them a try.  They are about as healthy as healthy gets and they really do ”crunch” like a chip when you eat them.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fall Pumpkins and Porches


Pumpkins are starting to pop up at the markets around here and I’ll probably be picking up mine this weekend.  While browsing around the web I came across some pumpkin decorating ideas.  Most of the ideas here today are from Martha Stewart Magazine’s website.  

I like the idea of sticking a pot of Mum’s in a hollowed out pumpkin like in the photo above although this couldn’t be done until a day or two right before Halloween.


I just love these witch pumpkins.  Looks like they were painted black and a small gourd was attached for the nose.  The hat would be easy to make and actually I have a couple of witch hats in the Halloween box that I think I would use for this.  Cute idea!


I like the simple black silhouette shapes.  I think to do this I would stencil on the shape using black paint and then it looks like the dark orange skin of the pumpkin was “etched” away. 


I love the idea of using a bird bath as a pedestal for the pumpkin in this photo.

These next few images were found on the Better Homes and Gardens website.


Love these black bats on the mini white pumpkins and suspending them on the mini shepherd hooks is a great idea.  I think I would get one of those picture hanger loop hooks that screw in and thread the twine through it instead of tying to the stem.  I know from experience that the stems often break off.


Now if I could just find a small wooden wheelbarrow…..

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And this is a great idea.  The first photo is from Better Homes and Gardens and the second is from Sunset.  I would guess that you would need to use a dowel rod to attach them all together.   Chop stix would probably work here.  At least that’s how I would do it.  :)


You can’t go wrong with a combination of pumpkins, gourds, and mums lining the steps to your front porch and a wreath on your front door.

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And finally,  witch’s feet!  Cute.  Easy to paint I would think.  And how about putting some masks on your pumpkins.  Simple and cute.  It’s still early for Halloween but the way our weather has been lately I am definitely in a Fall-ish mood.    Did you get your pumpkins yet?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Notting Hill Stenciled Pillow

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A new stencil from Maison de Stencils arrived not too long ago and here is the pillow that I decided to make with it.  This was the first time I used more than one color on a stencil.  And I got lucky with picking out paint colors I think.  I found some old acrylic craft paint (and I do mean old) out in the garage.  Both bottles of paint were colors from the Apple Barrel line of colors for Plaid.  Honestly those paints could be more than 10 years old!  But they were just fine after giving the bottles a few shakes.  The blue I used was called “Liberty Blue” and the red I used was “Burgundy”.  

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I had made a few pillow cases out of Painter’s Cloth a while ago.  If you would like to know how I made the pillow case you can click over see my brief tutorial on how I did it. Don’t worry, I had some help and in that post and you’ll find another link to a great sewing tutorial.

  I removed the pillow insert before I started stenciling and I placed a magazine inside of the pillow case so that the paint didn’t leak through to the back side.    I found it VERY helpful to use three different stencil brushes…one for each color of paint.   I taped the stencil securely to the pillow case and worked on the flag first.  The edges between the blue and red on the flag were tight so I had to work slowly and carefully so that I didn’t get the paint in the wrong areas.  I find it best to use an up and down pouncing motion.  This helps insure crisp edges.  After I finished the flag, I started stenciling the letters with black paint. 

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When all areas of the stencil were complete, I carefully lifted the stencil.  My favorite part of the process!

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When the pillow top was dry, I inserted the pillow form back into the case.    I could easily be accused of being a Francophile and I have to admit a large majority of my projects have a French flare to them but I have a fascination with England as well and so you might see a few more Anglophile projects in the future too.

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The stenciled pillow Hall of Fame. :)

That second French pillow was originally a Graphics Fairy graphic that I fell in love with and I sent it to Maison de Stencils and had a custom stencil made from it.  The wheat in the center had to be modified a bit  for the stencil to be easy to work with and Laura at Maison de Stencils was very nice and worked with me till we had something that would make an easy to use stencil.  (If you are new to my blog, I just made the witch pillow a few weeks ago from a stencil that I made myself.  You can link back to my post Halloween Stenciled Pillow and see how I made that one.)

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It turned out better than I expected.  I love it when that happens!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Covering A Table With Metal Flashing?


I spotted these tables at the Harris Teeter in High Point, NC the other day.  I just love them and it’s killing me that they are not for sale!  They are being used in their floral department as their display tables.  Can you see how nicely they nest under each other?  But it’s the tops that have me wanting them.   They are charming to look at and the best part is the tops are water proof!  I think they are covered with some kind of thin metal flashing.


What  a great project this would be.  I am sure a pair of tin snips and a heavy duty pair of gloves would be in order.  I will definitely be keeping this in mind next time I am out junking.  You never know when you might cross paths with a table that needs a new look.  And when I do, here is a link to eHow home with the instructions needed to make it happen. :)  Have any of you tried a project like this one before?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Stenciled Halloween Hand Towel

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A few weeks ago, I posted a Hand Stenciled Halloween Pillow that I had made.  Well, I liked it so much I decided to shrink the same stenciled images so that it would fit on a hand towel.  I might be changing the name to a “bar towel” since I kind of like it hanging on the copper beverage drink stand I use whenever we have a party. 

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Here is the Hand Stenciled Halloween Pillow that I was talking about.   For the towel, I decided to add a bat and the number “13”.  Hmmm…I wonder if I should go back and add a bat to my pillow?  Anyway…

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First thing I did was pull out my stencil burning tool and let it heat up while I printed out a smaller version of the witch after I sized it smaller in my Word program.  I found a smallish bat that I liked and made a copy of him too.  I cut the stencils out and also pulled out my number stencils and some washable fabric paint. 

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I stenciled on the “No. 13” first and then after that was dry, I used the top of a spray paint can and traced it with a pencil on the towel to make the moon.  When that was dry I then stenciled on the witch and added the bat. 

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I made the towel out of some painter’s cloth that I had.  I used another hand towel as the pattern and cut out my painter’s cloth to the same size.  After ironing it, I turn each of the four edges in about 1/4 inch and ironed it in place.  Then I turned it a 1/4 inch again on top of itself so that I have a double turned hem.  Then I stitched down all four sides with my sewing machine and ironed it one last time.   Ready to stencil!

I think it turned out cute and I am glad I added the bat.  I might have to make one more to hang in my powder room.