How do you read your blogs? Part 2

I talked about my blog reading issue a while back in part 1.  I will be completely honest, I’ve been a complete slacker when it comes to reading my favorite blogs.  This makes me sad.  When I worked, it was the one thing that got me through the day.  I still keep up with a few blogs that I either a) follow on Facebook or b) subscribe via email.  This still leaves about 75% of my favorite blogs unread.  =(

I’ve been very busy today and I decided to put “find a new blog reader” on my to-do list.  After a bit of research (a whopping 10 minutes), I decided on Bloglovin.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, you can follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Build Those Pineapple Palm Trees

I’m sorry if you are seeing this twice this morning.  We are having some technical issues with our photos.  Hopefully they are resolved now.

Are you curious how I made the pineapple palm trees I talked about here?  Although they were a bit challenging at first, they were fun and exciting to build.  Here’s another look.

Wedding Pineapple Palm Trees

Here’s what you need to build the palm trees:

  •   8 Pineapples (4 for each tree)
  • 5 feet of 3 1/2 inch PVC pipe
  • 2 PVC caps
  • Fresh palm fronds
  • 1 bunch of Kale
  • 2 Floral Foam Disks
  • Burlap
  • Toothpicks
  • Rocks or Water Softener Salt

Let’s begin!

Do yourself a favor and pick the right pineapples.  Your pineapples should not be green when you cut them.  The best way to pick a pineapple is to smell it.  It should smell sweet and delicious.  If your store only has green pineapples, buy them a few days before you want to cut them.  They will most likely be perfectly ripe by the time you are ready to cut them.

Cutting a Pineapple

To get the pineapples to slide over your PVC pipe, you need to hollow them out.  On a cutting board (preferably one that will catch the extra juice), slide a very long sharp knife down along the skin of the pineapple.  It should glide very easily along the skin.  You only want to cut about half way down.  Take your time.

Remove Pineapple Skin

After you have made it all the way around, turn the pineapple upside down and cut along the skin once again.  Once you have made it all the way around you may need to gently slide your knife along your cut to loosen up any flesh that’s still attached in the middle.

Removing Skin from Pineapple

The solid chunk of flesh should slide right out of the pineapple skin.  You will be left with two pieces: The solid skin ring and the chunk of juicy delicious flesh.

If you are not building your palm trees the same day, you will need to store your pineapple skins.

Pineapple Palm Tree

I simply wrapped mine in a plastic grocery bag and tucked the excess bag in the top of the pineapple skin.  I then stashed them in the refrigerator.  I cut mine two days in advance.  I don’t recommend cutting them any earlier than that.

Cutting Pineapple

You will then want to cut up the pineapple flesh.  I cut mine into equal quarters.  To remove the core, run your knife down the inside corner of each quarter.  This will give you little wedges with the tips cut off.  You can then slice the quarters into wedges or chunks.  Store your cut up pineapple in airtight containers or bags until you are ready to serve.

Pineapples

My little helper woke up from her nap half way through.   Gotta love the hair!

Pineapple Palm Tree Stand

You will need to build a PVC stand for your trees.  We bought a 10 foot length of 3 1/2 inch PVC pipe.  We really only needed 5 feet of pipe but the 10 foot pipe was almost $1.00 less, go figure.  We were able to easily cut the PVC down to size with a simple hack saw.  You can see at the bottom that we purchased an adapter piece that sizes it up.  This allowed us to use the cap that Lowe’s had available.  The adapter also created a nice little base for the trees.  My mom and I both agreed that if we used them again, we would definitely paint them brown.  The white becomes troublesome to hide.  More on that in a bit.

Build a Pineapple Palm Tree

To assemble the trees, simply slide the pineapple skins down over the pipe.  The bottom pineapple should sit right on top of the adapter piece.

I’m going to apologize for the lack of assembly photos from this point.  We were kind of in a hurry for a wedding. =)

Wedding Pineapple Palm Trees

To cover the white PVC bases of your trees, creatively wrap kale around the base.  We also got creative and added some flowers to the mix.  We also used collard greens as a base for our fruit display.

Once you thread on all of your pineapples you may or may not have some PVC pipe left exposed.  If you have your hack saw handy, feel free to shorten it up.  We were fresh out of hack saws at the wedding location.  We improvised by wrapping the remaining pipe with burlap, which worked really well.

Pineapple Palm Tree Top

Fill your PVC pipe with your heavy material.  We used solar salt (evaporated sea water) that is normally used in a water softener.  We wanted to use something safe around the food.  After the wedding, we used the salt for a sensory bin for Ava.  Double win!

Cap your pipe off with the floral foam rounds.  We found these at the Dollar Store.  We held up the burlap with a few toothpicks in the foam.  Top of your tree with lots of fresh palm fronds.  My Uncle Cris graciously picked these for us from his yard in the dark.  Thanks Uncle Cris!

You’re finished!  Your trees are done and you can finish decorating the rest of your table scape.

Do you have any pineapple tree plans?

(Psst… Don’t you just love our new watermark?)

Pineapple Palm Trees and All That Jazz

My aunt’s niece (on her husband’s side) got married recently while I was on vacation in Florida and my Aunt Sue asked my mom and me if we could help out with a few things.  And we did!  She enlisted us to make the cupcakes (and display them) and do some sort of fruit table.  She sent me a few ideas , but for the most part, all of the details were up to us.

The wedding was in Titusville, Florida at the home of the bride’s friend.  The house was a charming old bungalow right on the river.  I was in love… with the house.  I’m kicking myself now for not taking a photo tour; we were just entirely too busy.

I’ll just cut to the chase and show you what we did.  Everything turned out fabulous, if I must say so myself!

Pineapple Palm Trees Fruit Table

 We pulled together this bounty of fruit.  Every tropical fruit table needs a palm tree or two.  You want to know how to make them?  Check out my tutorial here.  You can see some of the awesomeness that is the vintage kitchen behind the table.

Fruit Table

Along with the pineapple we served strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

Tropical Wedding Table

Their theme was an eclectic mix of tropical rustic.  If you were to cross a Hawaiian luau with a backyard picnic, there you have it.  I will have to say that it was a very lovely, relaxing, and enjoyable reception.  No fuss and everyone had a great time.  That leafy green stuff is kale if you were wondering.  And yes, I did take it home after the wedding.  It was delicious in some fettuccine alfredo and it made me happy that it didn’t get thrown away (unlike the collard greens).

Hawaiian cupcakes

We made simple cupcakes; chocolate, vanilla, and carrot cake.  All three flavors were topped with my mom’s homemade buttercream icing. Yummy!  If you are wondering about the flower toppers, they are actually little plastic rings.  They were a hit with the kids.  Ava’s Elmo and Big Bird even came home with one as a bracelet.

DIY Cupcake Stand

We made roughly 80 cupcakes.  We made the cupcake stand with some hints from Annie’s Eats.  Ours is larger than hers, but the idea is the same.  We used the cardboard cake rounds that you can buy at any party store and quite a few cans of soup  (16 to be exact).  We wrapped the cans in white wrapping paper and added a burlap detail to match the burlap table runner the bride picked out.  It worked perfectly.

Toddler trying to get cupcake

I even caught my little helper trying to help herself to a cupcake.  Don’t worry, she wore a dress to the reception.  This was while we were setting up and she was having a few strawberries.  You have to keep the dress clean somehow.  It didn’t stop her.  By the end of the night her dress was covered in fruit.  Thank goodness Gymboree’s fabrics hold up to heavy-duty scrubbing!

Tropical Wedding Cake

The cake toppers are actually salt and pepper shakers.  Their lips are magnetic.  How fun is that?  Oh and if you were confused, there was a mirror behind the cake stand.

Ava Scacchi

We all had a blast!  I’m so glad we got the opportunity to help out.  I’ve got some mad pineapple cutting skills now.

Butterflies and Best Friends

This trip is flying by. A month might seem like a long time for a vacation, but it really isn’t. With only 10 days left, I feel like I have so many more people I want to see and so much more to do.

We met up with my friend Brittany in Gainesville. We took Ava to the Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida (which is also where Tony went to college). I had been before, but it had been so long. I think I was in high school last time.

Butterfly Rainforest Museum of Natural History

The main attraction for us was the Butterfly Rainforest that they have there. I knew Ava would be all about it!

Butterfly Rainforest

Ava had a blast! She ran around, pointing at all the butterflies. Brittany and I spent some time identifying some of the plants. We decided on a few we needed to have in our gardens.

Tropical Plant

The Butterfly Rainforest at the Museum of Natural History is a giant screened in room filled with lush tropical vegetation, trees, flowers, waterfalls and ponds, a few very interesting birds, and HUNDREDS of butterflies. The butterflies are all around you. One may even land on you. It really offers you the opportunity to get an up close look at them.

Butterfly on Flower

We took a break from the butterflies and checked out the rest of the museum. Although I had been there before, I had never taken the time to see the other exhibits.

Baby on Slide

Ava found the children’s discovery room right away. It had a slide. Guess what we did for about 20 minutes? We also found this contraption. It’s a sort of wind tunnel. The kids can put different objects in the tube and they fly up. I think we might need one for our playroom. Maybe a possible DIY?

Wind Tube

There were a few other exhibits about the history of Florida and the environment. Nothing I haven’t seen before. There was one exhibit that really intrigued me.

They had a set up with photos from all of the natural springs around North Central Florida. Each spring had a collage of photos, some old, some new. The purpose of this display is to show how much the springs have changed and how some are closed down. The springs are being polluted. The worst part is that some of the worst changes occurred in the pictures taken in the early 1990s to the present. The springs have changed significantly in my lifetime. I’m not old! It breaks my heart that Ava may never get to swim in and enjoy these natural wonders. If you are near Gainesville, Florida, check out this exhibit. It’s free. If you can’t make it there, do a little research. Sulphur Springs in Tampa, Florida is not just a slummy neighborhood, there’s actually a spring there. Stop and think before you pour things into our water supply.

Toddler at Butterfly Rainforest

Have you been to the Butterfly Rainforest? Which is your favorite spring in Florida to enjoy during the summer?