Photography By Cynthia Mackowick

fog in the field

Part of what Cynthia likes to capture in her photography is what she and her father started doing when she was a wee little one.  They would travel around the countryside in southwest MN looking for abandoned houses and farmsteads.  To this day, the excitement of seeing these abandoned or neglected properties is beyond any words that could be written.  He would remind Cynthia that there are stories behind these places and sometimes, they would even make up their own.

In her words

I am fortunate to have found someone who can share the excitement of back-roading and photography with me; we tied the knot last November.  Dan always has a way to make me smile.  We share our home with two adorable, stubborn, and mischievous Dachshunds – Tindra and Audrey.  They become very excited, and somehow know, when they get to go on a photography outing with us.  We are proud to be owned by a Dachshund or two 🙂

Photography allows me to view the world differently as there is beauty all around us.  With creativity, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and sometimes this allows us to turn any ordinary item into a piece of art.  I encourage you to open your eyes and see the beauty around you in everything and everyone.  

To read the stories behind the photographs and photographer visit Cynthia’s blog or website. run-down bedroom fog on the path old truck by the barn door North Dakota ghosts old TV barn in the field Young amish boys winter landscape peacock old closet a state of decay window

DIY Basic Watercolor Flower

DIY Basic Watercolor FlowerRecently, I was thinking about how important details are in artwork. For my most recent DIY projects, I’ve give you an overview tutorial on how to make each craft. What I’m going to show you for this one is the details for a watercolor flower. It didn’t take long and you could add so many more flowers to this one to turn it into something lovely. The flower is very basic so there are no excuses here!

watercolor materials

Things You Will Need:
Paper towel
Watercolor paint

*Watercolor paper is preferable, but cardstock is more common. Either will work. You can find them at craft stores like Michael’s.

colored water

Step 1
Wet your paint and dip you brush back in the water. Then, lightly dry it on the paper towel.

petal layer 1


Step 2
Paint the petal. The color should be very light like in the image above.

petal layer 2

Step 3
Dip the brush back in the paint, then lightly dry it on the towel again. Paint your second layer like in the above image.

petal layer 3

Step 4
Dip your brush back in the paint. This time, don’t dry it. Just paint a thin line around the edge of the petal to create a shadow effect.

purple watercolor flower

Step 5
Repeat steps 1-4 for the remaining petals.

If you’ve had enough, you can start painting some accent elements like vines or leaves.

DIY Basic Watercolor Flower

If you think it looks a little rough, you can outline it with a black sharpie. This helps to clean up the lines and give some detail.

Let me know what you think! Did you like this tutorial? Would you like to see more of these types of tutorials?


Trip to Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh

Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh

Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh

My mom’s birthday was last week so my family and I decided to take a trip to Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh. My mom LOVES plants (that is no understatement). They are all over my parents’ house, so I knew she would thoroughly enjoy the 17 botanical gardens at Phipps. I had never been there, but I have seen picture that friends taken. It looked beautiful, but was nothing compared to the real thing.

There was an artist exhibition while we were there as well, and you know I wasn’t going to miss taking pictures of that. All of the pieces were glass sculpture variations created by artist Dale Chihuly. Check out his work, it is fantastic. You can check out more of his art in the botanical gardens as well.

Below are some cool shots I got while we were walking through, but if you ever make it into the area, you have to check it out for yourself. Pictures don’t do it justice. I apologize for the lack of descriptions in some of the captions. I’m really not a flower person and don’t know the name of some of the plants, so “pink flower” had to suffice.

spiral glass sculpture

Spiral glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly

red tulips

Red tulips

orange tulips

Orange tulips

instrument fountain in gardens

Instrument fountain in gardens



hand painted instrument

Hand painted instrument. I think it’s a cello. It was larger than a violin but smaller than a bass.

flower garden

Flower garden close up

bigger flower garden

Flower garden

close-up of instrument fountain

Close up of instrument fountain. It actually lit up and sprayed water out of each instrument. Pretty neat!

glass sun sculpture

Glass sun sculpture by Dale Chihuly

tequila cactus

A tequila plant. Yes, this is the actual plant we get tequila from.

sausage spurge cactus

Sausage spurge cactus

cactus arm

I don’t remember what kind of cactus this is, but the arms looked pretty cool.

golden barrel cactus

Golden barrel cactus. Supposedly, you can cut this open and get water from them.

americana cactus

Americana cactus. This is probably the coolest looking plant I’ve ever seen. It looks prehistoric or something.

desert cactus

More of the americana cactus.


Some type of cactus

rock fountain

Rock fountain with fish

outdoor garden

Outdoor garden. It looks like something out of the movie the Secret Garden.

glass sculpture

Another phenomenal sculpture by Dale Chihuly

banana tree

Banana tree

ruined basketball game

In the train room, there were set ups like this where dinosaurs were taking over. Made me laugh.

trains in the garden

Train Room

garden railroad room

Train room, again

glass reed sculptures

Glass reed sculpture by Dale Chihuly

orange flower

I have no idea what this is. So I’m just going to call it an orange and pink flower.

yellow flower

Yellow flower

butterfly in the garden

A butterfly in the gardens

warn fern

Wart fern

dedrobium anosmum plant

Dedrobium anosmum plant

pink flowers

Pink flower

speckled pink flower

Speckled pink flower

white flowers

White flower

Phipps Conservatory right side

Phipps Conservatory right side

Phipps Conservatory Pittsburgh

Phipps Conservatory right side

The Hemloft: The Ultimate Tree House

Hemloft tree house

Who doesn’t love a tree house? You can’t honestly say that you didn’t make a tree house as a kid, right? I hope not. I was always climbing around when I was little and making tree houses was one of my favorite past times. This tree house is waaaaay beyond anything I could’ve dreamed up though. this is just proof that you should never let go of your childhood hobbies. As an adult you can make them so much greater.

This tree house is better know as the Hemloft. It is a “secret” (and I put that in quotes because it can’t be a secret if there are pictures on the internet) tree house deep in the woods of Whistler, Canada. The maker used plywood ribs to make the frame and scavenged wood to fill in the rest. To learn more about the Hemloft, check out the original post on My Modern Met.

tree house windows Tree house entrance Hemloft's office space

DIY Beaded Wire-Wrapped Earrings

DIY beaded wire wrapped earrings

I haven’t made earrings in a while so, I made some wire wrapped earrings for this weeks DIY project. These are really easy to make, and only took me about 20 minutes. Please ignore my chipped nails…

DIY beaded wire wrapped earrings

Things You Will Need:
Earring clasps
Earring hooks

If you’ve used a Things-A-Ma-Jig, you can find them at Michaels. They’re great for any type of wire wrapping or beading.

DIY beaded wire wrapped earrings

Step 1
Using your rounded pliers, form a loop in the top of the wire.
(Please ignore my horrible nails.)

DIY beaded wire wrapped earrings

Step 2
Set up your Thing-A-Ma-Jig like the above image. You can leave the large bottom peg off the board. I just forgot to take it off.

DIY beaded wire wrapped earrings

Step 3
Wrap your wire around the pegs so it looks like this. When you’re done with this part, take off the wire and flatten it a bit.

DIY beaded wire wrapped earrings

Step 4
Add the bead and put a small downward bend in the wire.

DIY beaded wire wrapped earrings

Step 5
Put another look in the bottom of what is soon to be your earring.
If there’s extra wire, clip it off at the top of your loop.

DIY beaded wire wrapped earrings

Add on your earring clasps and hooks, and you’ve got yourself some cute earrings! They’re so much better when you make them yourself.

Hope you like them! Happy crafting 🙂

Weekend Vacation in Cook Forest

If you live in or around PA, you should spend a weekend in Cook Forest. It is one of the most relaxing, non-commercialized areas I’ve ever visited. It is a national park with plenty of camping areas, bed and breakfasts, and a few hotels. I guess I should preface this with, if you don’t like being outdoors, maybe don’t try vacationing here.

What is Cook Forest
Cook Forest is a great place just to get away, even if it’s just for the weekend. There’s no cell phone reception so, even if you want to reconnect with the world, you can’t (unless you need it so badly that you’re willing to drive about 15 miles to get it).

My Experience
My boyfriend and I spent the weekend up there at a lodge called Clarion River Woodland Lodge and it was awesome. The lodge is a combination bed and breakfast with a restaurant and bar. The chef there made the some of the best food I’ve ever tasted (including pork belly mac and cheese, Dr, Pepper braised beef short ribs, Carmel Apple pork chops, bacon or duck fat fries, etc. not to mention the fantastic Easter buffet). Breakfast was included in our stay, and it was within a few miles from some great hiking trails.

The best part? We were in great company. We met some very nice people (some of which stayed at the Clarion River Woodland Lodge, all who worked there, and some nice people on the trails) while we were up there that really made the whole trip for us.

I really wish I could share pictures of the lodge, but I didn’t take any. I know, shame on me 🙁 but we will be going again so I’ll be sure to take some then. Here’s some shots from a 7 mile hike we took yesterday.












DIY Painted Canvas Wall Art

DIY canvas wall art

Everyone needs something to spice up a room. A little pop of color or some wall art usually does the trick. Even as an artist, I find a lot of artwork to be too expensive, so I think it is important for people to be able to create their own decorative art. When you’re looking to upgrade a room, you aren’t necessarily looking to spend a lot of money doing it. Save the billion dollar artwork for the art collectors and make your own decorative elements.

With this DIY project, I wanted to accomplish just that. Originally, I wanted to use several more mini canvas, but I thought I would test it out with these 4 to see how I liked it. You can get these canvases at any craft store and, if they are on sale, you can get them pretty cheap. Watch for the deals.

DIY wall art materials

Things You Will Need
White paint
Colored paint
2 4×4 black mini canvases
2 4×4 white mini canvases

As usual, don’t forget the newspaper.


colored canvasesStep 1:
Paint your white canvases two different colors. I chose orange and red because it will look good with the white paint.

Let them dry.

4 canvasesStep 2:
Position the canvas so that the black canvas and the colored canvases are diagonal to each other like in the image above.

DIY canvas art

Step 3:
Get out your white paint and make some fun designs that span the canvases. You can experiment with different colors or brushes to get a different effect.

DIY canvas wall art

Hang them up for some fun, new accented wall art!

I plan to add more canvases throughout the summer. Maybe I can take over the whole wall, haha. Wouldn’t that look awesome?!

Hopefully you give it a shot if you like my results. It was an enjoyable project and, if you add 10 or so canvases, it could make a great family weekend DIY project!



DIY Decorative Flower From A Toilet Paper Roll

I was browsing the other day and found a DIY tutorial on I thought you guys would like. It is similar to my Cardboard Flower Wreath tutorial from a while back. Honestly, I like her method better. I will have to try using spray paint next time instead of acrylics. The effect is much nicer.

Want some more toilet paper roll crafts?

DIY Candy Holder From A Toilet Paper Roll

This is a cute one for giving out candy for the holidays. I made these for  Valentine’s Day. They are especially great for children because you can’t fit a ton of candy in there, so they aren’t eating a crapload of sugar.

DIY candy holder

Cord Organizer

Via s-e-i Lifestyle

I don’t know why I never thought of this, but this girl is freaking brilliant! I have a whole box of saved toilet paper rolls, and guess what I’m going to do with them?

cord organizer


Wind Chime

Via Recreated Design Company

This one is soooo cute and I really want to try to make it. I wasn’t sure what to call it because it looks like a wind chime, but it doesn’t have any elements that would make noise in the wind. We’ll just call it a wind chime.

Anyway, this one doesn’t have a tutorial attached to it, but I don’t think it would be hard to make. Some toilet paper rolls, paint, a sealant, some wire, and clear thread and I think that’s it.

wind chime toilet paper roll craft

If you have more to add, let me hear it! Leave your ideas in the comments.

How to Make A DIY Cupcake Card

You still send birthday cards, right? I hope so, because people appreciate them. Sometimes they appreciate them more, though, if you make your own.

My friend Jennifer at Station Teen Makes and sells some really cute whimsical stationary. The goal of the business is to encourage teen girls to build strong relationships with family and friends while also providing a community for them to share and appreciate good design. I completely endorse the idea.

Station Teen has a really awesome video tutorial on a DIY Cupcake card that I wanted to share with you. A fun, bright, adorable card.

If you liked the video tutorial, make sure you let her know!

You can find StationTeen on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and, of course, Pinterest.

Here are a few of her card designs. You can check this out, as well as some other great designs, on her website (above).

Sweet as candy greeting card

Send a card to a friend

Owl greeting card

Send a card to a family member

American Hero greeting card

Send a card to a soldier