Life happens, and my little blog home got neglected for awhile. We moved, we started school, and grandma moved in with us! Lots of adventures, but not a lot of time to blog. Because of some email changes, and html updates, I've actually moved my blog to the following location click here to visit the new site!
The 4th topped out at about 106 degrees. Not too shabby for the desert. We loaded up on the "necessities", ice cream, angelo's italian ice (phoenix made!), lemonade, coleslaw dogs, and of course, donned bathing suits, and headed out for some fantastic sprinkler action!!
my parting thought...yes virginia, there is green grass in arizona...
took a little mini-hiatus to get some photography work done. I feel so much lighter now that it's all done, lol! I also took the opportunity to photograph my son maxwell, since his 7th brthday is this month. i cannot believe how fast the little dude is growing.
I'm starting to very slowly re-enter the world of part time working mommy/photographer. And, well, it's nerve-wracking and intimidating, but at the same time very exciting!
his portrait session was shot in old town scottsdale, in 106 degrees...what a trooper he was!! Here are a few of my faves-->
Finally getting back to working on things for my Etsy Shop...yay! Of course Stella professes her undying love for each item that I make, claiming that we simply MUST keep it. Not such a great way to fill up the shop, hehe, so every few items, she gets something to keep. I've been working on some basic, grow-with-you, fun little pieces. I have been loving this orange sorbet and lavender floral for quite awhile, but didn't know exactly what I wanted to do with it, until I saw an adorable ruffled top at anthropologie. I'm scarily addicted to that store, and frequent the one in Scottsdale at least once a month, scouring through clearance racks.
the party streamer skirt...
and in some yummy cotton candy pink! I am all about ruffles lately!
Today we accomplished something great. Wonderful. Superb. A year in the making. We made homemade play dough that turned out perfectly! the kids and I have tried oodles of recipes that were just never "quite right". Either too sticky, too stinky, too dry, or they just plain went bad after only a few days. I took notes from every batch, and researched the topic, and today, we have, at long last, play dough perfection!! And completely non-toxic.
Of course it would be all too evil of me to NOT share the recipe with you all, so here it is! We started with green, but have 3 more batches to make, including purpleicious, orangey-orange, and pinktastic. Names are complements of the kids, and the green is technically named "slime green". We added incredible lemongrass essential oil to ours, that we bought at Chakra 4 Herbs here in Phoenix. They sell oodles of high quality essential oils both at their shop and online.
Squishy-Squashy Play Dough Recipe
1 1/2 cups flour 1 1/2 cups water 1 tablespoon cream of tartar 2 tablespoons citric acid (available at most natural food stores or at amazon) 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil 3/4 teaspoon table salt 10 or so drops of essential oil (we like lemongrass, sweet orange, vanilla, and lavender) gel or liquid food coloring to achieve desired color strength (we prefer gel)
whisk together all of the ingredients in a decent size saucepan. Cook over medium heat for a few mins (3-5) stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan. A whisk works well for this, as long as it's a heat safe material. Keep stirring until the mixture clumps together in a ball and starts to look darker in color. flop it out onto the counter and let it cool. Knead it until it's smooth after it cools, and store it in an airtight container. Squash away!!
I have to be honest...I was far less than eager to leave the lush, idyllic beach town that we lived in to move "here"...to the desert. I love seasons, love the crisp cold of a sunny winter day, the first fluffy snowfalls, the smell in the air after a summer thunderstorm, wading through leaves at Crane's Orchard to pick baskets of Golden Supreme and Honeycrisp apples, the sound of jet skies and boat engines skimming the surface of Lake Michigan, and so many other things that come along with the change of seasons, and life in the midwest. However, our family, along with many others, were forced to pick our family, and leave pretty much our whole world behind because of the changing economic climate. Simply put, we had to go where the work is. Of all the places we considered, I chose the West side of the country, because it's the only other place that I have family, in Arizona and California.
So, here we are, thus far we've tolerated 109 degree days (which I'm told is nothing compared to what's coming), driven through the mountains, the desert, and taken in all of the terrain, and to be honest, it was total culture shock. Almost as much so as traveling to another country. So different from any place I've ever lived or known. There have been days that I just refused to leave the house and wallowed in how much I hated it here...
But, it really has started to grow on me. It's insanely beautiful in it's way. Sunsets that West Michigan can only dream of, majestic shadows cast over red-rock mountains, saguaro, beryl, and ocotillo cactus, date palms and grapefruit trees, the soft smell of orange blossom in the evening, there really is so much beauty to be seen here in contrast with what we've known. Our favorite library is built on an incredible historic farm where we can check out books, wander through trails and paths, chase after roosters and peacocks, and then climb to the top of a grapefruit tree, tossing the biggest ones to the ground to be taken home for breakfast.
The kids tell me daily how much they love it here, and are even more crazed about it after realizing that their favorite Discovery Channel Show Survivorman (Les Stroud) filmed his pilot episode here in the Sonoran Desert. I'm so happy that we are all settling in and adapting to this new life and new adventure.
My adorable little cousin Hudson who is staying with us!
Yes, I am yet another Heather Ross Weekend Sewing junkie. And to make this dress ever easier to sew, there's an awesome video tutorial on Martha Stewart's website starring the super helpful Heather herself! I have been, in all honesty, very unnecessarily scared to death of shirring/smocking (not the old fashioned kind of smocking that takes actual insane patience), but felt incredibly lame after watching the tutorial and making the dress. Oh, and a bit of no-brainer advice for you newbie "shirrers", only the bobbin gets the elastic thread. Try it in your machine and you'll wind up with a lump of fabric that looks reminiscent of a chewed piece of gum!!
i added a little band of elastic in the bottom hem, and we wound up with a really cute, simple bubble dress! I plan to make a few more dresses and shirts for the girly girl using this tutorial.
Give this dress a try, it's so cute, so easy, and season appropriate...I want to make one for myself in a cotton gauze or linen blend.
On another inspiring note, I was browsing through the book racks at the fabric store the other day, and found the coolest book that I'm not even sure how I've managed to miss! It's clearly been out for awhile, and has sweet inspiration (and patterns) for my all time favorite summer clothing piece...the flippy skrt. I seriously want to make every single skirt in this book! And trust me, with my current fabric stash and minimal post-electrical-fire wardrobe, this is entirely possible...
It's definitely that time of year. I love strawberries, everything about them, the adorable little shape, reminiscent of a heart, the shiny, bumpy red skin, the little green leafy hats, the sweet smell, and duh, the taste! So fantastic. As a kid, it was the only time I would endure the scorching sun, sticky humidity, and throngs of kamikaze mosquitoes dive-bombing my skin...just to pick a basket of strawberries from DeLange's Redberry Farm.
Now, in all fairness and honesty, I didn't pick mine fresh this year, shockingly :), strawberries aren't a popular crop choice here in the desert, but they are still in season, which means they are looking plump and juicy at the local farmer's market (brought in from CA, a few hours away). So, in honor of sun burnt, mosquito toughing pickers everywhere, a yummy strawberry recipe for you!
Strawberry drop scones (adapted from southern living cookbook)
2 cups flour (AP) 1/2 cup organic sugar 2 teaspoons cream of tartar 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind 1/2 cup chilled sweet cream butter 3/4 cup fresh strawberries (chopped into bite size pieces) 2/3 cup buttermilk
preheat your oven to 450 degrees
mix the first 6 ingredients lightly with a spoon. cut in the butter and mix with a pastry blender until crumbly. add the buttermilk and strawberries, and mix with a spatula or your hands until the mixture is moist and sticky. spray a baking sheet lightly with cooking spray, and drop scones onto the sheet...making about 9-12 scones.
If you wish, you may lightly sprinkle a bit of sugar onto each scone before baking. Bake for 14 mins, or until golden on peaks. Let cool, and serve with homemade whipped cream! So fantastic!
We do these as an occasional breakfast treat, or after dinner dessert.
Yesterday we had a project born out of necessity. The boys' art pencil collection is slowly outgrowing the old, fire king diner mug it sits in, but we scoured the house, and just couldn't find a suitable replacement. Tall enough to keep it from tipping over, and wide enough to add a few more.
I remembered all the pinatas my mom and I made for birthdays as a kid, layering strips of sticky newspaper paper mache over giant inflated balloons. We took the same approach, and cut off the bottom of a small dairy bottle, and covered it with strips of the local paper. The kids squealed when they stuck there hands in the slimy flour and water mixture...and Stella frankly just bathed in it. As fate would have it, a friend of my husbands knocked on the door a few minutes into the project, and we all flocked to the door absolutely covered in flour and goo.
We put it outside to dry, which, in the summer heat of Arizona takes mere seconds. We then slid a butter knife around the edge of the plastic form to loosen the paper mache, and slid it right out! Voila! A perfectly sized cup for the pencils!
About this time of year, my little seasonal obsession with batiks and hand dyes starts. Maybe it's the fact that I grew up in an artsy, beach town where local boutiques and galleries regularly featured batik print, handmade garments, or maybe it's just the bright summer color, and the carefree, "no rhyme or reason" feel to the fabric that I love...kinda fits my personality. Whatever the reason, I love batiks and just snagged these two at a recent local sale. I thought the smoky charcoal would be accented beautifully by the bright, candy pink print. Stella, of course loved them, so they went to her.
Originally they were going to be an Oliver+s Tea Party Dress, but in the end, the fabric had more of a billowy skirt appeal to me. It's pretty basic, and free style. Just a simple skirt, with a contrasting band of fabric at the bottom and elastic casing in the contrasting pink which I left open in tiny spot to feed a big pink grosgrain ribbon through. It DOES have elastic too, because my daughter is a 5 year old that barely fits in 2 and 3t, so at this point the ribbon is merely decorative. When (if) she grows, we can just snip out the elastic and tie off the ribbon to suit.
Now maybe a matching billowy skirt for mama out of some lovely batik...
I HAVE to share this with you all, The Sew Mama Sew Blog has this fanflippingtastic guide to sewing machine feet. Now I'm sure you pros will know most of this already, but for anyone learning the ropes, this guide, with pics, is so very helpful!
We are new to the Phoenix area, and still not even close to being acclimated to the insane heat. We are full-blooded Northerner's, used to -2 degree winter afternoons, and while it does get up in the 90's in the summer in Michigan, somehow 110+ just does not compare. Much like the way we tuck ourselves away in our warm house during the bitterly cold winter months, here, we hole up in our house during the hottest part of the afternoon with the AC on full blast and try to occupy ourselves with homeschooling, sewing, crafting, popcorn and movies, tidying up the house, and anything else we can think of to avoid the heat.
It was during one of these moments that I decided to teach all of the kids to sew, something they've been asking me to do for quite awhile. To be honest, I totally stole the idea for this project from the Soulemama Blog, but who hasn't gleaned a bit of inspiration from her!? Anyway, daddy and I decided that our little Chihuahua needed a companion, and while we love her to pieces, the boys need a big dog to wrestle around with. So we started looking last month at the shelters for a puppy. We didn't initially have much luck, but next month, Maricopa County Animal Care Center should have several puppies ready to go, so we are going to look for a new friend! In the meantime, I thought it'd be a great starter sewing project to stitch up a quilted/pieced doggie bed.
I hauled out all of my scraps, all the kids dug through, and flung them every which way, and started cutting. They were learning about rectangles and squares last week, so that's what they cut out. I put the machine on slow, helped them wind a new bobbin, thread the machine, and they all went to town. It was literally hilarious to see how amazed they were when they finished stitching and realized that the two pieces had now become one. We got a pretty good start on the top, and more to come this week...
I found the card reader, usb cables, all sorts of fun stuff! Anyway, so as not to bombard you all with ALL the things I want to post up, I'll pick the Birthday Girl...of course.
Our favorite girly girl book as of recently is called Pinkalicious, so Stella begged and pleaded for me to make the lovely pink cupcake confections from the book, that ultimately turned the little girl a lovely shade of deep pink. I did my best, and kind of tweaked the vanilla cupcakes and buttercream recipe from the joy of baking. I added cherry syrup (reduced pure cherry juice) and bourbon vanilla, and of course, loads of pearly white sprinkles and pink frosting. They were so delicious, and looked pretty darned close to the ones in that book!
She got two gifts from us, Daddy took her shopping for new dresses at Naartjie, of course mommy came with, and a handmade apron/pinafore for her american girl doll. I used some pretty lavender aunt grace repro fabric for the apron and she adored it! All of her doll clothes for her american girl dolls were ruined from smoke damage when we had a house fire, so I've been on a mission to replace them with mommy-made garments. An outfit every week or two is my goal. The first pattern set, which includes the vintage pinafore, is Simplicity Pattern 2761.
I'm going nuts! I have climbed through every square inch of my thousand degree garage, was cornered by a gecko in the process, and nearly sweat my life away! I have still yet to find my battery charger and usb cable for my canon 40d. Oh so sad, I guess it's time to go off and actually buy them. Of course, you all know how that works, the second I buy them, some fortuitous circumstance will arise that will cause me to...FIND THEM! Sigh, ah well.
I promise pictures will eventually accompany my blog...however, we just moved into a new house after an electrical fire, and finding all of my photography gear and computer cables in the pile of boxes has proven a challenge for sure. Normally moving isn't such a rushed, haphazard occurance as it was for us, but trying to salvadge our stuff out of a mess of soot and ashes cramped my style a bit! My little punkin princess had her 5th birthday on Wednesday, but turns out it will be a week long event, with a few things spread out over 4 or 5 days. Her "actual" birthday consisted of making our own pizzas and pizza dough. Pretty cool, as I've never made a bread that uses a chilled rising technique. It was great fun. At one point I decided to go full on and toss mine...didn't end so well for that lump of dough, and after a full day of feet pattering on the kitchen floor, let's just say the 5 second rule did not apply!
I cannot promise that my blog will be the most exciting, well-kept, or perfectly written blog out there, but I can promise hoards of beautiful pictures (frequently featuring my favorite beautiful little people), lots of crafting/sewing/knitting done in an eclectic, amateurish way (always learning of course), crazy snippets about my family of 7 and our kooky life, and lots of yummy recipes and cool products, vendors, and thrifted items discovered by a very proficient and knowledgeable shopper (your truly).
A bit about me...
I am a 31 year old mommy of 6, a photographer on hiatus, a fashionista, a budget conscious thrift store obsessed shopper, a lipgloss crazed collector of vintage aprons and patterns, and a slightly manic foodie and at home chef. I enjoy photography, knitting, sewing, leaving projects unfinished, cooking italian food, going on road rips, seeing the country, trying new restaurants, painting my daughter's toenails, dancing like a crazy person, and performing hand puppet shows for my kids. I am married to a wonderful, patient, student, bartender, and military man who is crazy about me in spite of my peculiarities and loves taking tea with his little girl.
Anyway, welcome to my blog, and I hope u all enjoy it!